In the fourteenth day of the first month at even is the LORD's passover.
The typical character of the Old Testament is a subject full of instruction, and one which opens a very extensive field of investigation before the mind of the Christian student. It presents itself to our view not only in the ordinances of the Jewish people, their sacrifices and priesthood, and religious rites in general, but also in the historical parts of these lively oracles. Many of the events recorded in these sacred pages have not only an historical, but also a typical, or in other words a prophetic interest. They were, in fact, living prophecies, having each his manifest counterpart or antitype somewhere in the gospel scheme. But this observation particularly applies to the ordinances of the Ceremonial Law. These rites had, no doubt, a duty to accomplish on behalf of those who celebrated them, and subserved some moral purpose towards them who did the service. But they had also a higher object; they had all a Christian aspect, or, as the apostle to the Hebrews says, they were "the shadows of good things to come." In the former bearing they have long since passed away, but in the latter they are still abiding. And what an important addition have we here to the prophetic evidence of Christi-unity! For these rites and ceremonies must, every one of them, be regarded as predictions of those things they typified. Every well-established type is an instance of fulfilled prophecy; and when we view them all combined we have a congeries of prophecies manifestly fulfilled, and affording an amount of accumulated evidence which must be convincing to any candid mind. In all the necessary elements of prophetic evidence the argument derived from these types is remarkably certain and facile. Their antiquity, or priority in point of time to their antitypes, is undoubted, it is admitted on all hands. They were celebrated by successive generations for centuries before those things which answered to them appeared to human observation, or could be known in any other way than by Divine revelation. Their fulfilment, also, is equally certain; we compare the antitypes with the types, and find them answer the one to the other in an immense variety of particulars. It is utterly impossible that this agreement should be the result of accident; it is so minute, and carried out into such numerous ramifications, that it exceeds even the credulity of infidelity itself to ascribe it to anything but design. Here, as in a kind of panorama, that gospel passes before us, so that we, as it were, behold with our eyes those very truths which are the source of our present and eternal peace. And this, perhaps, is one reason why these ordinances are so minutely enjoined; why we find so many, and sometimes such trifling particulars commanded. The sceptic smiles at this minuteness, and refuses to believe that God could condescend to be the author of such unimportant injunctions. The reply to this is at once suggested from the book of nature, where the Deist professes to become acquainted with his God. We bid him to consult that book which is open before his eyes, and behold the minuteness of detail which characterises all the works that meet him there. See the particularity of design and of execution which pervades its every part. Has not the same hand which restrains the billows of the mighty ocean in their proper bounds painted the tiny shells which are buried in its deep abyss? But to the believer, who recognises the gospel in these ordinances, this very minuteness with which they are prescribed constitutes their perfection. He sees in this a representation of that condescending love which has ordained every particular of that covenant of grace — "the covenant ordered in all things, and sure." And not only so, but everything to him becomes significant; he could not part with one of them; and all together make up a perfect whole on which his faith is founded. We are to consider the feast of the Passover, instituted, as its name implies, in commemoration of that night in which the Lord passed over the houses of the Israelites when He smote the first-born in the land of Egypt. In order, then, to understand aright the typical or prophetic bearing of this ordinance, we must recall to mind the transactions of that memorable night, and —
I. THE LAND OF EGYPT EXHIBITS A TYPE OF THIS PRESENT EVIL WORLD — THE WORLD, I MEAN, AS DISTINCT FROM THE CHURCH AND PEOPLE OF GOD. Egypt was ripened for judgment, and was devoted to destruction. She had despised her opportunities and hardened herself against the warnings of Jehovah, and was now arrayed in hostility against God and His people. And such is the world in which we live, it is destined to destruction; and why? Because it has rejected alike the mercies and the warnings of the Lord; it has despised His counsel and will have none of His reproof. And there is one point of analogy between the case of Egypt and that of this present world which is especially deserving of attention; I mean the fact that the climax in either case is preceded by a succession of judgments. I feel persuaded, my dear brethren, that we ought to be prepared for an outpouring of Divine judgments upon the earth, the effect of which shall be, as in the case of Egypt, the hardening of "the men of the earth" against the Lord and against His anointed (Revelation 9:20, 21; Luke 21:35, 36).
II. BUT GOD HAD A PEOPLE IN EGYPT. They were in Egypt, but they were not of it; differing in their origin, their customs, their laws, their worship, and their God. They were the people of Jehovah; His by covenant arrangement; His chosen ones, His own. And why were they chosen? Was it because of their own goodness? because they were better than the other nations? No; for they were a stiff-necked people. Why, then, were they chosen? Simply because He loved them, and took them to Himself out of all the nations of the earth. And so it is at the present time. The Lord has a people in the world, but yet not of the world. "Ye are not of the world, even as I am not of the world." But if He has loved His people, He has "made them to differ" from Egypt. As they are His by sovereign grace, so also are they His by manifest consecration to Him and separation from the world. Their origin is from above. They are "born not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God."
III. BUT WHAT WAS THE MEANS BY WHICH THE ISRAELITES WERE SAVED FROM THE JUDGMENT OF EGYPT? It was the sprinkled blood (Exodus 12:12, 13). And so if we escape the righteous judgment of God it can only be by the sprinkling of the blood of the Lamb — "the precious blood of Christ as of a lamb without blemish and without spot" (1 Peter 1:19). Outside of Christ is wrath, in Him is perfect peace and safety. Not that this sprinkled blood is the exciting cause of God's love unto His people. No; He needed not this inducement. God did not love the children of Israel because the blood was sprinkled on their houses; no, the blood was sprinkled there because He loved them. They misunderstand the doctrine of the atonement who represent it as appeasing a God of vengeance and stimulating Him to mercy. "God is love."
IV. THE ISRAELITES WERE COMMANDED TO FEAST UPON THE LAMB. The lamb was to be the food of them for whom his blood was sprinkled. And what is the spiritual food supplied to the Church of God? It is the Lamb that was slain (John 6:57). If we would have spiritual strength to do the work of God we can derive it only by feeding on, that is, by habitually contemplating and confiding in the work of Jesus. A living faith in Him will appropriate Him. And when the Passover is called a feast we are reminded that those who feed on Jesus have in Him not only necessaries, but abundance; not only salvation, but peace and happiness and joy — "fat things full of marrow, wines on the lees well refined" (Isaiah 25:6). You see we are supposed to be ever feasting. And if our souls are not abundantly satisfied, as with marrow and fatness, the fault is entirely our own. The provision is made; all things are ready; everything that the hospitality of eternal love, aided by the counsels of infinite wisdom and the resources of infinite power could procure to make glad the shiner's heart. Why do we go so heavily on our way? Why have we so little peace and joy? It is because we do not feed, as we should, upon the Lamb. We do not make Him our daily bread, and incorporate Him, by a living faith, with our souls. And mark, the whole of the paschal lamb was eaten; not one particle of it was to be left. 'Tis thus the Saviour gives Himself altogether to be His people's food; it is not a part, but the whole of a precious Christ that is provided for us. All the holiness of His life, all the devotedness of His death, all the efficacy of His blood, all the power of His resurrection — the dignity of His ascension — the influence of His intercession, and the glory of His coming again; everything He does — He has — He is; the whole is given unto us to feast upon; and we need it all. I must have Him all to meet the exigency of my case, the necessities of my soul.
V. But let us remark THE ADJUNCTS OF THIS FEAST. They were to eat it with unleavened bread and with bitter herbs; with staves in their hands and shoes on their feet. Each particular is significant. Are they to eat it with unleavened bread? If we would have communion with Jesus it must be "in the Spirit." The carnal mind cannot find enjoyment in Him; and if we are walking after the flesh we cannot feed on Him. We must "put it out of our houses," so as not to follow or be led by it. Again, too, "the bitter herbs." Oh! how significant is this! The paschal feast is not a feast of self-indulgence; it is not to gratify the carnal mind. They that feed on Jesus must deny themselves, and take up the cross and follow Him. The path He leads in is not that of self-gratification and carnal ease. If these be the objects we pursue we are not — we cannot be feeding on the Lamb (Galatians 2:20). It is impossible for the true believer to escape the taste of the "bitter herbs." The very principles which actuate him, the motives of which he is conscious, the tastes implanted in his mind are such as to render his life in this world a scene of constant trial. There are trials peculiar to the Christian which others have not, and cannot even understand. Beloved, let us search our hearts diligently; let us examine our motives. Are we indeed sincere before God? Are we really humbled before the Cross, and has every other shadow of dependence been put away? And are we dressed, too, in the garb of pilgrims? Or rather have we the pilgrim's heart? Or are our thoughts and affections given to the things of earth — the flesh-pots of Egypt?
(J. B. Lowe, B. A.)
Parallel VersesKJV: In the fourteenth day of the first month at even is the LORD'S passover.