The Passover to the LORD begins at twilight on the fourteenth day of the first month.
Leviticus 23:4-8Exodus 12; also 1 Corinthians 5:7, 8. In addition to the weekly "offering of rest," there were emphasized offerings of a similar character at select seasons throughout the Jewish year. These were to bring to remembrance great national deliverances, or to celebrate the blessings with which Jehovah crowned the year. The first of these feasts was the Passover. It was to celebrate the deliverance preceding the Exodus. It began with a holy convocation; there was then a week of complete freedom from leaven; and then a holy convocation completed the special observances. Burnt offerings were also presented of a special character every day of the holy week. The following line of thought is suggested by this feast.
I. THE WHOLE POPULATION IN EGYPT WAS EXPOSED TO A COMMON DANGER. It is evident from the narrative that the destroying angel might justly have carried death into every house, and that it was only the special arrangement which prevented his doing so. For though a difference was made between the Egyptians and the Israelites, it had its reason and its root in God's sovereign grace. The Israelites may not have carried their enmity to God with so high a hand as the Egyptians, yet their pilgrimage demonstrated that the hostility was there. The judgment on the firstborn was consequently only a sample of what all deserved. Unless we begin with the truth that "there is no difference," for "all have sinned and come short of God's glory," we are likely to underestimate the grace which maketh us afterwards to differ. We are not, properly speaking, in a state of probation, but in a state either of condemnation or of salvation. "He that believeth not is condemned already" (John 3:18); "he that believeth is not condemned." When we start with the idea that we are really culprits and condemned already, we are stirred up to lay hold by faith of the deliverance. How we reach the blessed condition, "There is therefore now no condemnation," is beautifully symbolized by the Passover. For -
II. GOD'S PLAN OF DELIVERANCE WAS THROUGH THE SPRINKLING OF BLOOD. Each Israelite was directed to take a lamb and slay it, and sprinkle on the doorpost and lintel, with a hyssop branch, its blood. The destroying angel respected the sprinkled blood, and passed over the houses on which it appeared. Here was God's plan, by the sacrifice of the life of an innocent substitute to secure the remission of the sins of his people. And need I say that the Paschal lamb was one of the most beautiful types of Jesus? He, as our Passover, was "sacrificed for us' (1 Corinthians 5:7). It is through his blood we have remission. His life, laid down in payment of the penalty, secures our just release. The destroying angel passes over all who are under the shelter of Christ's blood.
III. THE PASCHAL LAMB WAS TO AFFORD LIFE AS WELL AS SECURE DELIVERANCE. Roasted with fire, with bitter herbs and unleavened bread, it was to be eaten by all the delivered ones. Within the blood-protected houses they stood and partook of a wholesome meal. It entered into their physical constitution, and strengthened them to begin their journey. In the same way does Jesus Christ sustain all who trust in him. He becomes oar Life. He strengthens us for our wilderness journey. The Exodus from Egypt becomes easy through his imputed strength. And so our Lord spoke not only of eating his flesh, but even of drinking his blood (John 6:54), and so receiving his eternal life. Not more surely does vital power come to the body through the digestion of food than does spiritual power come to the soul through partaking by faith of Jesus Christ. We are not only saved from wrath through him, but sustained by his life.
IV. THE PASSOVER WAS THE DATE OF A NEW LIFE. An Exodus began with the first Passover, succeeded by a wilderness journey; and every succeeding Passover preceded a week of feasting on unleavened bread. Thus was a new and heroic life regarded as dating from the Passover. Hence the Lord changed the year at its institution, and made it the beginning of months with his people. The same is experienced by believers. Unless our salvation by Christ's blood is succeeded by pure living and the putting away of "the leaven of malice and wickedness" (1 Corinthians 5:8), we are only deceiving ourselves by supposing we are saved. Our salvation is with a view to our pilgrimage and purity. Therefore we must keep the Feast of Unleavened Bread as well as celebrate the Passover. It will not do to accept of salvation as an "indulgence." God makes no arrangement for impunity in sin. The death of the Lamb shows plainly that under God's government no sin will go unpunished. To purity we are consequently called as part and parcel of a Divine salvation. - R.M.E.
In the fourteenth day of the first month at even is the Lord's passover.
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.)
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