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ch. 12:1-30    ch. 12:31-42  ch. 12:43-51


The Passover (ch. 12:1 - 30)


This chapter is one very important chapter in the Bible and in Jewish history.  The chapter begins the exodus of the Jews out of Egypt with the institution of the Passover meal.  Passover in Hebrew simply means "to pass over".  Yet it seems possible that the Hebrew word might have Egyptian roots, meaning, "to spread ones wings over to protect", as a bird protects her babies under the protection of her wings. Isaiah 31:5 speaks of the Lord hovering over Jerusalem as a bird hovers over head.  In Luke 13:34 and 35 Jesus compares Himself to a hen with her wings stretched out to protect Jerusalem , but Jerusalem rejected His protection.  Therefore, even though the Hebrew word that is translated as Passover in English means Passover, the idea of protection is inherent in the word.  This is clearly seen in the whole event of the Jews escaping Egypt.             


In verses 1and 2 we note that at this point in time, God is rearranging Israel 's calendar. He says that "this month" would now be the first month of their year.  The name of the month is Nisan, which corresponds roughly with our month of March.  A new beginning for Israel requires a new calendar.  It's like God's people are no longer in sink with the world, which should be the case.  The people of God and the people of the world are in one sense of the word, in two different worlds.   


In verse 2 God then tells Moses and Aaron that on the "tenth" day of this month, each man needs to take a lamb from his flock for his family, only one lamb for each household. 


In verse 4 God makes provisions for small families.  If your family is too small to eat a whole lamb, then the lamb can be shared with a neighboring family. 


In verse 5 we begin to learn about the animals that would be eaten in the Passover meal.  The animal could either be a lamb or a goat.  It had to be one year old and had to have no blemishes. Of course there is no debate among conservative Bible scholars, this lamb or goat is prophetic of Jesus.  Jesus was cut down in the prime of His life.  He was perfect.  He had no blemish.  He was the cream of the crop, so to speak, but He was the one to die which in turn provided salvation for us, as the lambs did in this case.


The lamb was to be killed on the fourteenth day of the month. Back in verse 3, God said that the lambs were to be gathered up on the tenth day of the month.  Here in verse 6 God says to look after the lamb until day fourteen and then kill him.   The animals must be killed at twilight, about the same time that Jesus actually died.


In verse 7 we learn that once the animal was killed, the blood must be placed on the door frame of their homes.  That would be on each side of the door and over top of the door.  There's been much debate concerning the cross that Jesus died on.  The symbol that we know of as the cross today was probably not what Jesus died on.  The cross most likely looked just like this door frame.  It had two upright sticks with a cross bar attached to the top.  Some actually believe that the two upright sticks were trees.  The cross that Jesus walked with, was then a long piece of wood that was placed from one tree to the other.  Jesus hung on that bar.


After the blood was sprinkled on the door frame, and after the lamb was roasted on an open fire, verse 8 tells us that those in the house would eat the cooked meat with bitter herbs and bread without yeast.  This is exactly the meal the Jesus ate with His disciples just before His death. 


Yeast in the Bible is always symbolic of pride.  Yeast makes the bread puff up, and that is what pride does to a person.  Yeast then represents pride, and in a more general sense, sin itself.    


Verse 9 is the cooking instructions. The whole animal must be cooked, inside and out.  Nothing must be taken from the animal prior to cooking it.  It must be cooked over an open fire, not with water.  Fire always represents the judgment of God.  Jesus death was in fact God judging and punishing Him for our sins.


Verse 10 tells us that the whole animal must be eaten.  If for some reason there was too much, the remainder must be burned.  So, the lamb was first cooked by fire, completely eaten, or in New Testament terms, applied by man for his salvation.  If there was any left it had to be burned, burned by the judgment of God.


Besides knowing how to cook the animal, the Lord told Israel how to eat it.  They had to eat it with their sandals on, with their cloak tucked into their belt, and with their staff in their hands. This means that this was not a relaxing meal. They were to eat the meal with the anticipation of leaving Egypt in a hurry.  There would be no time to waste.  Once the word was given, everyone goes.  Obedience is mandatory. 


Concerning salvation as seen in the New Testament, we don't just enter salvation and sit down and relax for the rest of our lives.  We have places to go, things to do, and the work of the Lord that needs to be done.  Initial salvation, as I call it, is only the beginning of our new lives as Christians.  This hastily eaten meal portrays this point quite clearly


Verse 11 specifically tells us the name of this meal.  God says, "this is the Lord's Passover".


In verse 12 God says that very night He would bring judgment on the gods of Egypt.  Some see all the plagues of the past few chapters as being God not only judging Pharaoh, but the Egyptian gods.  All of the plagues had some kind of symbolism against the Egyptian gods.  The way in which God will bring this final judgment was by killing all first born mails, even first born mail animals.  We should note here that when I use the term "final judgment", this is the final judgment of the ten.  There is yet one more judgment and that is when the Egyptian army is drowned in the Red Sea. 


The firstborn in the Old Testament is always important.  It is carried over into the New Testament concerning Jesus being the first born among many brothers. Jesus was one of a kind, and always will be, but in the end, we will be like Him in many respects, that is why He is called the firs born among many brothers.  Those who are true Christians are the many brothers.


In verse 13 we see the importance of the blood on the door frames.  When God sees the blood, no death will come to that house.  Israeli families were thus save by blood.  We are saved by blood as well, that is, the blood of Jesus.  Blood is important to the gospel.  It is fundamental to Biblical thinking.  Right after Adam and Eve sinned, they tried to cover their nakedness with leaves.  That did not satisfy God.  God killed an innocent animal and made clothes of skin for the couple. God told Adam in the very beginning that death would enter creation if he ate from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.  Death came into creation in many ways. The first to suffer physical death was that animal which covered their nakedness. Ever since then, God's provision includes the shed blood, first of animals, then of Jesus.


The term "Passover" came into existence because God passed over the houses where the blood was on the door frame.  That is why the meal is called the "Passover meal".  God protected His people from judgment, as a hen would protect her babies under her wings, but only if they obeyed by applying the blood on the door frame.  There is no salvation without the shedding of  blood.


In verse 14 we note that the Passover meal was to be something the Jews would celebrate on a yearly basis.  The KJV says that this would be a celebration "forever".  The NIV says that it will be a "lasting" celebration.  The KJV seems to be stronger than the NIV on this point. The word "forever" suggest no end to the celebration.  The word "lasting" might suggest "no end", but could easily suggest a celebration lasting a long time.  I'd suggest that God intended this celebration to continue forever, and that would mean celebrating this meal on the new earth when God makes all things new.  I don't know what this meal will look like on the new earth.  I can't see us killing animals at that point, but I do believe in some shape or form we will be celebrating this meal, not just to remember God delivering Israel from Egypt, but delivering us from our sin. 


Verse 15 introduces a new aspect into the feast. It is actually seen as another feast that last seven whole days, and would be called the Feast of Unleavened Bread.  Sometimes when the Passover Feast is mentioned in the Bible it includes the Feast of Unleavened Bread and sometimes it doesn't.  There is the Passover meal, and then there is Passover, that often times includes the Feast of Unleavened Bread, but not always.  It is really two separate feasts.   


In verse 16 we see that a sacred assembly must be called for day one and day seven of the Feast of Unleavened Bread.  No work could be done on those two days except for meal preparation.


In verses 17 to 20 we see how important it is to God not to eat leaven in bread.  If anyone is caught eating leavened bread, he must be cut off from Israel.  This is a drastic thing.  Remember, leaven represents sin, once we've been saved by the blood, we should be serious about sin. 


In verses 21 and 22 Moses proceeds to explain all of this to the elders of Israel.   He tells them that once the blood is on the door frame, then they are not to leave the house.  Putting the blood on the door frame must have been the last thing they did.  Once in the house, they would have to stay and eat the Passover meal.


In verses 22 and 23 Moses continues to give instruction to the elders, that which God already told Moses, which we have already talked about. 


One new thought is seen in verse 24.  We see the word "destroyer".  This is most likely and angel that God uses to go through the land of Egypt and kill all of the first born.


In verse 24 we note again the difference in wording between the NIV and the KJV.  Moses tells the elders that this must be an ordinance that must be "forever", so the KJV puts it.  The NIV says "a lasting ordinance".  I personally believe, as I stated earlier, that we will be celebrating this feast on the new earth in the next life.  The thing we will be celebrating is what this event in Exodus symbolized, and that was the death and resurrection of Jesus.


From verses 25 to 29 we see the reason why this celebration was to continue.  It was to remember this deliverance.  Children of all generations must remember how God delivered Israel from the hands of their enemies.  Why was this so important?  Well, for one reason, it is prophetic of the deliverance Jesus provides, Yet it is also important because Israel is God's special people.  If God delivered Israel from Egypt, He could do it again throughout history.  This is one lesson that is lost on much of Israel today.  They have forgotten, or at least not paid serious attention, to the fact that God could deliver them again.  This is really what the book of Revelation is all about, that is, God delivering Israel once again.


Verse 25 tells us that Israel was to eat the Passover next when they finally entered Canaan, the land God had promised them.  While they wondered in the desert for forty years, they did not celebrate this feast. 


By now, Israel was no longer mad at Moses as they once were.  They had seen God's "mighty acts of judgment" on Egypt.  They were now believers in what God would do for them.  Verse 28 tells us that they bowed down and worshipped their God and followed through on what they were told.


In verses 29 and 30 we note that at midnight, God's predetermined time, since He does have a time table of events, He struck down and killed all the first born sons in Egypt.  Even Pharaoh's first born, who would take the title of Pharaoh after Pharaoh was dead.  Great weeping and wailing could be heard throughout the land.  This was the last and great judgment placed on Egypt.  God did say in the very beginning, that the day you sin, you will die, and here we see that coming true again. 


The Exodus (ch. 12:31 - 42)


In verses 31 and 32 Pharaoh calls Moses and Aaron in to see him.  He finally tells them to leave.  But before they do, Pharaoh asks to be blessed.  Even in the midst of all this death, Pharaoh is still looking for some kind of blessing.  I guess he feels the need for some kind of blessing in the midst of such disaster.  What he really wants is an end to all of his trouble.


In verse 33 we see that the Egyptians urged the Jews to hurry up and leave.  They were afraid that not only the first born would die, but all of them would die.  This is only natural.  All the plagues were getting worse, and what would be worse than the first born being killed would be all of them being killed.


In verse 34 we see that the Jews took the unleavened dough with them as they left.  If there is a lesson here, it's that when doing God's work, you have to travel lightly, and if leaven symbolizes pride and sin, you can't have pride and sin while doing God's work.  It won't work out.  Way too often the ministers of the Lord are prideful these days, and that should not be.


In verses 35 and 36 we note that the Jews obeyed Moses.  They asked their Egyptian neighbors for silver and gold and the Egyptians gave it to them.  The reason why the Egyptians were so kind is because according to the text God made them view the Jews in a favorable light.  It might be debatable just how God did that.  The ten plagues pretty well devastated the Egyptians, they might well have been glad to get rid of the Jews, so that is why they helped them on their way.  That being said, the lesson to be learned here is that God can, if He so chooses, have the world bless His people, and He can help the world in the process to do just that.  God can intervene in world events in both a negative and positive way.  It's not always in a negative way.  Again, it shows us that God is often behind things that happen in world events, although it isn't apparent to everyone.


Verses 37 and 38 tell us that there were six hundred thousand Jewish men that left Egypt.  This is why I said earlier that there were well over two million people fleeing the land of Egypt.  Besides men, there were women and children, and the text suggest that some Egyptians left with them.  It doesn't exactly say Egyptians  It says other people left with the Jews.  Well, other people only could refer to Egyptians.


God never forbade other nationalities joining the Jews. The only stipulation was that they had to live as Jews.  The men had to be circumcised.  And, when the Law of Moses came into effect, they had to obey the Jewish Law as well.  Simply put, they had to convert to Judaism.


In verses 39 and 40 we see further comment on the dough without yeast.  Verse 40 tells us that the dough did not have yeast because they were driven out of Egypt and had no time to put yeast in and have it rise.  This is the first mention of this reason for bread without yeast.  Prior to this we just knew that God said make bread, make dough without yeast.  There was no time to  sit around and wait for the yeast to rise.  They had to eat in a hurry, with sandals on, staff in hand, and ready to hurry up. Again, yeast symbolizes sin.  Once God makes the call on your life, you get moving.  There is no time for sin.  We are to lay aside all that hinders us from doing the will of God.  The yeast in this case would have slowed the process down.  Israel did not have time to wait around until the yeast made the dough rise. This tells me something about New Testament salvation.  It tells me that once we are saved, we get to work right away in the Kingdom of God.  You don't sit around.  You have a job to do.


In verses 40 through 42 we see that the Jews were in Egypt four hundred and thirty years, just as God had told them would be the case back in the book of Genesis. Note that the text states that to the very day. The very last day God delivered them out of the land of Egypt.  This clearly tells me that God does things on a predetermined timetable.  That was His plan.  Nothing changed this plan.  He freed the Jews exactly at the time He intended.  This tells me that this is the way with all of God's will.  He knows when He will do something, and whatever that is, will be done exactly when He planned.  For example, Jesus will return to earth on a predetermined day.  Not all Christians believe this.  Those who believe in Restoration Theology believe that when the church, or the Kingdome of God reaches a certain place of perfection, then Jesus will return, and not before.  I don't believe that.  God has a certain day, a certain, hour, and a certain minute when all end time events will occur, and that includes the return of Jesus.


Passover Restrictions (ch. 12:43 - 51)


Verse 43 begins the regulations that God gave Moses for the Passover.  The first is that no foreigner is to eat the Passover meal.   God distinguishes between Israel and the other nations of the earth.  We've seen the word "distinction" during the plagues a number of times.  We've seen the concept of "distinction" since God picked Abraham to be a special person, the founding father of the special nation of Israel. 


Some people suggest that this Passover meal is the forerunner to the Christian Communion, also known as the Lord's Supper.  I tend to agree with this mainly because the Last Supper that Jesus ate with His disciples appears to be the last Passover, and the first of the Lord's Suppers.  I suggest that our Christian Communion is actually the Passover that looks back at our redemption.  For this reason, I do not believe that non-Christians should partake in the eating of the Lord's Supper.  It is only for Christians, and the liberal churches who allow anyone to partake of the Lord's Supper is in error.


We've already seen that God does allow non Jews into His family of Israel, as long as the men were circumcised.  Therefore these  same people could also eat the Passover meal, and this is confirmed in verse 44.   The text states that foreign slaves bought by Jews could eat the meal as long as they were circumcised.


Verse 45 says that a temporary resident or a temporary hired hand cannot eat the Passover meal.  This temporary person would not be a Jew.  That is why he could not eat the Passover meal.  The same would apply to the Lord's Supper.  A visitor who is merely investigating the gospel of Christ should not eat of the Lord's Supper. 


Verses 48 and 49 confirm the point that foreigners can eat the Passover as long as they were circumcised.  They must be as a national Jew.  They must convert.  So we see that God has always allowed non-Jews into Israel as long as they converted  So when it comes to the early church and Christians, there should not have been a problem with Gentile Christians being part of the church because God always allowed for such conversions, but this was a problem to the early Jewish church. 


Verse 49 states that "the same law applies to the nation-born as it does to the alien".  Thus a Jew who was not circumcised could not eat the Passover meal.  We've learned before that such a Jew should be cut off from among Israel.


Verses 50 and 51 state that all Israel obeyed the Lord as He brought them out of Egypt in their divisions.  I've commented on this before, but Israel didn't just leave Egypt as a mass of people.  They went out orderly and according to their tribes.  This was the command of God.  This tells us that God is orderly.  It also tells us that God's division of Israel into twelve units is important to Him, and I believe still is today.  In the book of Revelation, we see the one hundred and forty four thousand Jewish preachers.  There were twelve thousand from each tribe, and the tribes were listed.  This proves that such division among Israel is still important to God, and I believe always will be. 

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