The Passover Lamb: Exodus 12

Exodus 12  •  36 min. read  •  grade level: 8
Exodus 12
Two things contained in the eleventh chapter may be recalled. First, the announcement of the judgment upon the firstborn; and, secondly, the difference made “between the Egyptians and Israel” (ch. 11:7). It is in the passover lamb that the reconciliation of these two things lies. For God now raises the question of sin, and thus necessarily presents Himself in the character of Judge. But the moment He does this, both the Egyptians and the Israelites alike are obnoxious to His judgment, inasmuch as both are sinners in His sight. True it was His purpose to redeem Israel out of Egypt, and it is also quite true that in the exercise of His own sovereign rights He can make a difference between the one and the other. But God can never cease to be God, and all His actions must be the expression of what He is in some aspect or character; and hence if He spare Israel—they being equally guilty with the Egyptians, both alike being sinners—while He destroys Egypt, He can only do so in harmony with His own nature. In other words, His righteousness must be as much displayed in the salvation of the one as the destruction of the other. And it is of immense moment to perceive that grace itself can only reign through righteousness (Rom. 5:2121That as sin hath reigned unto death, even so might grace reign through righteousness unto eternal life by Jesus Christ our Lord. (Romans 5:21)). Now this is the very problem solved in this chapter—how God could righteously spare Israel when He destroyed the firstborn of Egypt. He appears to both alike as a Judge; and it will be seen that the only ground of the difference made, lay not in any moral superiority of Israel over Egypt, BUT WHOLLY AND SOLELY IN THE BLOOD OF THE PASCHAL LAMB. It was grace that made the covenant with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob; it was grace too that provided the lamb; but the blood of that lamb—type as it was of the Lamb of God, Christ our Passover (1 Cor. 5:77Purge out therefore the old leaven, that ye may be a new lump, as ye are unleavened. For even Christ our passover is sacrificed for us: (1 Corinthians 5:7))—met every claim which God had upon Israel because of their sins, and hence He could righteously shelter them while the destroyer was carrying death into every household of the Egyptians. It was in the blood of the Lamb that mercy and truth met together, and righteousness and peace kissed each other. This will be fully seen as we pursue the details of the chapter.
“And the Lord spake unto Moses and Aaron in the land of Egypt, saying, This month shall be unto you the beginning of months: it shall be the first month of the year to you” (vss. 1-2).
Before God time counts for nothing as long as the sinner is in his sins. Until we are sheltered under the blood of Christ we have not begun to live in His sight. We may have lived thirty, forty, or fifty years; but if we have not been born again, it is all wasted time. Wasted time? Wasted as far as God is concerned; but, oh, how pregnant with results for eternity, should we continue in that condition! Every day of that period has added to our guilt, to the number of our sins, all of which are recorded in the book that will be opened at the judgment of the great white throne, should we pass into eternity unsaved. What a verdict upon the world’s strivings and activities, upon the hopes and ambitions of men. They tell us of the nobility of life, speak of deeds of glory and fame, and seek to inspire our youth with the desire to emulate the deeds of those whose names are enrolled in the historic page. God speaks, and by one word dispels the illusion, proclaiming that not yet have such begun to live. Without life towards Him, however great such may loom in the eyes of men, they are dead, their true history has not yet commenced. So with the Israelites. They have been hitherto the servants of Pharaoh, slaves of Satan; they have not yet commenced to serve the Lord, and hence the month of their redemption was to be the first month of the year to them. From this point their true life’s history began.
“Speak ye unto all the congregation of Israel, saying, In the tenth day of this month they shall take to them every man a lamb, according to the house of their fathers, a lamb for an house: and if the household be too little for the lamb, let him and his neighbor next unto his house take it according to the number of the souls: every man, according to his eating, shall make your count for the lamb. Your lamb shall be without blemish, a male of the first year; ye shall take it out from the sheep, or from the goats: and ye shell keep it up until the fourteenth day of the same month: and the whole assembly of the congregation of Israel shall kill it in the evening. And they shall take of the blood, and strike it on the two side posts, and on the upper door post of the houses, wherein they shall eat it. And they shall eat the flesh in that night, roast with fire, and unleavened bread; and with bitter herbs they shall eat it. Eat not of it raw, nor sodden at all with water, but roast with fire; his head with his legs, and with the purtenance thereof. And ye shall let nothing of it remain until the morning; and that which remaineth of it until the morning, ye shall burn with fire.”
“And thus shall ye eat it; with your loins girded, your shoes on your feet, and your staff in your hand; and ye shall eat it in haste; it is the Lord’s passover. For I will pass through the land of Egypt this night, and will smite all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, both man and beast; and against all the gods of Egypt I will execute judgment: I am the Lord. And the blood shall be to you for a token upon the houses where ye are: and when I see the blood, I will pass over you, and the plague shall not be upon you to destroy you, when I smite the land of Egypt. And this day shall be unto you for a memorial; and ye shall keep it a feast to the Lord throughout your generations; ye shall keep it a feast by an ordinance forever. Seven days shall ye eat unleavened bread; even the first day ye shall put away leaven out of your houses: for whosoever eateth leavened bread from the first day until the seventh day, that soul shall be cut off from Israel. And in the first day there shall be an holy convocation, and in the seventh day there shall be an holy convocation to you; no manner of work shall be done in them, save that which every man must eat, that only may be done of you. And ye shall observe the feast of unleavened bread; for in this selfsame day have I brought your armies out of the land of Egypt: therefore shall ye observe this day in your generations by an ordinance forever.”
“In the first month, on the fourteenth day of the month, at even, ye shall eat unleavened bread, until the one-and-twentieth day of the month at even. Seven days shall there be no leaven found in your houses: for whosoever eateth that which is leavened, even that soul shall be cut off from this congregation of Israel, whether he be a stranger, or born in the land. Ye shall eat nothing leavened; in all your habitations shall ye eat unleavened bread” (vss. 3-20).
In the midst of judgment God remembers mercy. If He will smite the Egyptians, and if He cannot (cannot, consistently with the attributes of His character) spare Israel, unless His claims upon them are fully and adequately met, He will Himself, acting from His own heart, in the exercise of His sovereign rights, according to the riches of His grace, provide the lamb whose blood should form the foundation on which He could righteously exempt His people from the stroke, and bring them out of the house of their bondage. Observe it well, that in the matter of our salvation, as in the redemption of Israel, the question is not what we are, but what God is. It is grounded therefore upon the immutable basis of His own character; and hence as soon as atonement has been made (as will be seen in the progress of this history) all that God is, is pledged for our security.
There are several features in this Scripture demanding distinct and separate notice. First, the lamb. As already pointed out, the whole value of this passover lamb springs from its being a type of Christ. Paul thus says, “Christ our Passover is sacrificed for us: therefore let us keep the feast” (1 Cor. 5:7-87Purge out therefore the old leaven, that ye may be a new lump, as ye are unleavened. For even Christ our passover is sacrificed for us: 8Therefore let us keep the feast, not with old leaven, neither with the leaven of malice and wickedness; but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth. (1 Corinthians 5:7‑8)). We are warranted therefore, on divine authority, in seeing the Lamb of God under the shadow of this interesting type; and it is on this account that every detail of this chapter becomes invested with such exceeding interest. On the tenth day of the month the lamb was to be taken—a male of the first year, and without blemish—and it was to be kept up until the fourteenth day of the same month. This has generally been thought to correspond with the setting apart of the lamb in the counsels of God; that is, on the tenth day, and the actual sacrifice in time on the fourteenth day. But another suggestion has been made which is given and commended to the judgment of the reader. The tenth day, according to this, will correspond with the entrance of Christ upon His public ministry, when He was marked out by John the Baptist, in a most striking way, as “the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world” (John 1:2929The next day John seeth Jesus coming unto him, and saith, Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world. (John 1:29)). Then if the Lord’s ministry embraced the term of three years, made up of two whole years and parts of two more, this would, according to Jewish reckoning, be four years, and the time of His death would therefore correspond with the fourteenth day. But why, it may be asked, is the number ten taken for the setting of the lamb apart? Because it is the number of responsibility God-ward, and it thereby teaches that ere our blessed Lord was publicly owned as the Lamb of God, He had met every responsibility before God, and was thus proved to be without blemish, qualified by what He was in Himself, to be the sacrifice for sin. He was God’s Lamb, and it is full of blessed consolation that the lamb was of God’s providing. Man could have never known what sacrifice would have been acceptable. Israel would have remained in bondage until this day, had it been left to them to devise a means of satisfying the claims of God on account of their sins. Hence God in His mercy and grace furnished a lamb whose blood would suffice to take away the sin of the world. There can never be therefore any other method of cleansing from sin, any other means of shelter from the just judgment of God: the blood of Christ, inasmuch as it is provided by God, is exclusive of all other methods.
The lamb was to be killed on the fourteenth day of the month. “The whole assembly of the congregation of Israel shall kill it in the evening” (vs. 6). All must be identified with the slain lamb. It was for the whole assembly it was to be killed. As a matter of fact every household had its lamb, for every family must be specifically under its shelter; on the other hand, “the assembly of the congregation” (Lev. 8:44And Moses did as the Lord commanded him; and the assembly was gathered together unto the door of the tabernacle of the congregation. (Leviticus 8:4)) is looked upon as a whole. These two unities were ever preserved in the Jewish economy—that of the assembly, and that of the household. That of the family runs throughout the patriarchal age; and now that God is calling a people out of Egypt for Himself, while He establishes the unity of the whole, that of the household is still preserved. They are combined in the ordinance of the passover—the families apart, and the congregation as a whole.
In the next place the sprinkling of the blood is enjoined. The slain lamb would not have ensured the protection of a single household. Had the people rested in the fact that the lamb was killed, the destroyer would have found no bar to his entrance into their houses. There would not have been a house in all their tribes without its dead, equally with those of the Egyptians. No; it was not the death of the lamb, but the sprinkling of the blood, that secured their safety (vss. 7, 13, 23). Let the reader ponder it well. Is there no danger of his resting in the fact of Christ’s death for protection—without a moment’s concern whether he is under its blessed efficacy and value before God? The death of Christ will not save a single soul (we do not speak of infants) apart from faith in Himself. It is quite true that He has made a propitiation for sin—a propitiation which has glorified God in every attribute of His character, on the ground of which He can righteously, and with glory to Himself; bestow a full, complete, and an everlasting salvation upon every sinner that approaches Him through faith in its value. For God hath set forth Christ “a propitiation through faith in His blood, to declare His righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God; to declare, at this time, His righteousness: that He might be just, and the Justifier of him which believeth in Jesus” (Rom. 3:25-2625Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God; 26To declare, I say, at this time his righteousness: that he might be just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus. (Romans 3:25‑26)). But there must be the personal identification with the shed blood through faith, or it will have been, as far as such an one is concerned, shed in vain. How then, let it be inquired, did the Israelites come under its protection and value? It was simply and solely through the obedience of faith. They were enjoined to “take of the blood, and strike it on the two side posts, and on the upper doorpost of the houses,” to “take a bunch of hyssop, and dip it in the blood that is in the basin, and strike the lintel and the two side posts with the blood that is in the basin; and none of you shall go out at the door of his house until the morning” (vs. 22). They thus had nothing whatever to do excepting to believe and obey. It was not theirs to discuss the method provided, its reasonableness or otherwise, or its probable value. Everything depended upon the heed they gave to the word of God. So now God requires nothing from the sinner but faith—faith in His testimony to his own condition and guilt which expose him to judgment, and faith in the provision made for his need through the death of Christ. If an Israelite, from any pretext whatever, had disregarded the divine command, he could not have escaped the destroyer’s stroke. In like manner if a sinner now refuses, on any plea, to bow to God’s word respecting his condition, and also concerning Christ, nothing can avert the stroke of eternal judgment. But the moment the Israelite, in simple obedience, sprinkled the blood upon his dwelling, he was inviolably secure through that night of terror and death. The moment, too, a sinner believes in Christ, he is everlastingly safe, for he is protected by all the unspeakable value of His precious blood. Then he may sing with exulting confidence—
“Though the restless foe accuses,
Sins recounting like a flood;
Every charge our God refuses;
Christ hath answered with His blood.”
Remark, also, to emphasize this truth still more, that the safety of the people depended in no degree whatever upon their own moral state, nor upon their own thoughts, feelings, or experiences. The sole question was, whether the blood was or not sprinkled as directed. If it were, they were safe; if it were not, they were exposed to the judgment then passing through the land of Egypt. They might have been timid, fearful, and despondent; they might have spent the whole night in questionings; but still, if the blood was upon their dwellings, they were effectually shielded from the destroyer’s stroke. It was the value of the blood, and that alone, which afforded them protection. Again, if they had been the best people in the world, as men speak, they would have perished equally with the vilest of the Egyptians, if without the sprinkled blood. The foundation of their safety, be it repeated, lay alone in the blood of the Passover lamb. It is the same now with every one in this land. Very soon judgments, far transcending those of Egypt, will descend upon this world, and these will be but the precursors of the last judgment of all before the great white throne, the certain issue of which is the second death (Rev. 20), and no one will escape these unless sheltered by the blood of Christ. Can the reader, then, wonder if the question is pressed upon him with earnestness, nay, even with affectionate vehemence, Art thou safe through the blood of Christ? Give thyself no rest day or night until this question is settled, until thou knowest, on the foundation of God’s immutable word, that thou art as safe as the Israelites were in their sprinkled dwellings on this dark and terrible night.
It should be remarked, moreover, that the sprinkled blood was for the eye of God. As another has observed, “It is not said, When you see it, but, When I see it. The soul of an awakened person often rests, not on its own righteousness, but on the way in which it sees the blood. Now, precious as it is to have the heart deeply impressed with it, this is not the ground of peace. Peace is founded on God’s seeing it. He cannot fail to estimate it at its full and perfect value as putting away sin. It is He that abhors and has been offended by sin; He sees the value of the blood as putting it away. It may be said, But must I not have faith in its value? This is faith in its value, seeing that God looks at it as putting away sin; your value for it looks at it as a question of the measure of your feelings. Faith looks at God’s thoughts.” It would save anxious ones from many weary days and nights of perplexity and anguish if this point were remembered. There is nothing beyond accepting God’s own testimony as to the value of the blood. “When I see the blood, I will pass over you, and the plague shall not be upon you to destroy you, when I smite the land of Egypt” (vs. 13). All that God is, is against sin, and consequently all that He is, is satisfied with the blood of Christ, or He must still punish sin. His declaration, therefore, that He will spare when He sees the blood, is a distinct testimony to the fact that it has made a full and perfect expiation for sin. If, then, He is satisfied with the blood of Christ, cannot the sinner be also satisfied? And remember that the sinner’s unworthiness cannot be pleaded as a bar to its efficacy. If it might, then the blood alone were not sufficient. The moment God’s eye rests upon the blood, His whole moral nature is satisfied; and He as righteously spares those who are under its protection and value, as He smites the Egyptians.
The question, however, may be preferred, In what way can we now be brought under the efficacy of the blood of Christ? The Israelites were brought under the shelter of the blood of the passover lamb through faith. They received the message, believed its import, sprinkled the blood according to the directions given, and were thus secured against the judgment-stroke. It is simpler now. The glad tidings of redemption through the blood of Christ are proclaimed, the message is received; and immediately it is received, the eye of God beholds the soul under all its efficacy and value. Every one, therefore, who believes in the Lord Jesus Christ is delivered from the wrath to come. Peace with God is thus founded upon the blood of Christ. For “the blood signified the moral judgment of God, and the full and entire satisfaction of all that was in His being. God, such as He was, in His justice, His holiness, and His truth, could not touch those who were sheltered by that blood. Was there sin? His love towards His people had found the means of satisfying the requirements of His justice; and at the sight of that blood, which answered everything that was perfect in His being, He passed over it consistently with His justice, and even His truth.” Peace with God, therefore, we repeat, is based upon the blood of Christ.
There is yet another thing. The passover lamb, whose blood had been sprinkled upon the dwellings of Israel, was to be eaten, and eaten in a special manner with its accompaniments, and in a prescribed attitude. Each of these points has its own interest and instruction. “They shall eat the flesh in that night, roast with fire” (vs. 8). It must not be eaten “raw, nor sodden at all with water, but roast with fire; his head with his legs, and with the purtenance thereof” (vs. 9). Fire is a symbol of the holiness of God applied in judgment; and hence the lamb on which they fed told, in figure, that Another had borne the fire of judgment, passed through it, on their behalf. “Roast with fire” (vs. 8) speaks thus of Christ who bore our sins in His own body on the tree, and was made sin for us, when He was exposed to the full, unsparing, and searching action of fire—God’s judgment against sin. If therefore He spared His people, it was only on the ground of Another bearing what was their righteous due. What love then was expressed in delivering up His Son to such a death! Well might the Spirit of God say, He spared not His own Son, when He devoted Him to receive the stroke of the sinner’s judgment.
“To us, our God His love commends,
When by our sins undone;
That He might spare His enemies,
He would not spare His Son.”
And how gratefully must the children of Israel have fed upon this lamb roast with fire. If their eyes were opened they would surely say, “The blood of this victim is screening us from the awful judgment which is falling upon the Egyptians; the flesh we are eating has passed through the fire, to which we otherwise must have been exposed.” And the thought, as they expressed it, could not fail to move their hearts to thanksgiving and praise to Him who had in His grace provided such a mode of escape and safety.
Two things were to accompany the eating of the lamb—unleavened bread and bitter herbs. Leaven is a type of evil, and hence the unleavened bread speaks, as on the one hand of the absence of evil, so on the other of purity and holiness. The Apostle Paul speaks of the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth. This may be entered into more fully when we speak more at large of the feast of unleavened bread associated with the passover (vss. 14-20). It will suffice now to have marked its character. “Bitter herbs” represent the effect of entering into the sufferings of Christ in our behalf; repentance, self-judgment in the presence of God. These two things therefore portray the state of soul in which alone we can truly feed upon the lamb roast with fire. And it is beautiful to notice, how that the One who has borne the righteous judgment of God against their sins now becomes the food of His people. Remark, too, that nothing was to be left until the morning. Should there be any remaining it was to be burnt with fire (vs. 10). The same direction was given afterward for most of the sacrifices that were to be eaten. (See Lev. 7:1515And the flesh of the sacrifice of his peace offerings for thanksgiving shall be eaten the same day that it is offered; he shall not leave any of it until the morning. (Leviticus 7:15).) This was a provision undoubtedly against the danger of its being consumed as common food. It could only be eaten in association with the judgment through which it had passed. “The flesh” of Christ cannot be eaten except in the apprehension of His death. So here on the passover night, together with the morning, when the judgment had passed, they might forget the import of the lamb roast with fire; but the direction to burn what was left would recall its character, as well as prevent its degradation to common food. It was only around the passover table that they could properly feed upon the passover lamb.
Their attitude was to be in harmony with the position into which they had been brought “And thus shall ye eat it; with your loins girded, your shoes on your feet, and your staff in your hand; and ye shall eat it in haste; it is the Lord’s passover” (vs. 11). All bespeaks the character to be assumed consequent upon their redemption—for they were about to leave Egypt forever to march through the wilderness as pilgrims to their promised inheritance. Their loins were girded—in readiness for service, detached from the scene in which they had so long been held as captives, so that nothing might detain or impede them when the signal for the journey should be given; their shoes on their feet—prepared, shod for the march; their staff in their hand—the sign of their pilgrim. character, for they were quitting what had been their home, to become strangers in the wilderness; and they were to eat the passover in haste—for they knew not at what moment the summons might be given, and hence they were to be ready—watching and ready. A true picture of the believer’s attitude in this world. Would that we all more entirely answered to it! Again and again are we exhorted to have our loins girded; and to have our feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace (Eph. 6) is necessary if we would have on the whole armor of God. To maintain indeed the pilgrim character belongs to one of the first lessons of our Christian life, seeing that this is not our rest; and to be in the attitude of waiting for Christ belongs to our expectation of His return. This is true, but it is another thing to ask if these things characterize believers now as they should. What we need is a deeper sense of the character of the scene through which we are passing—that it is a judged scene, that God has already judged it in the death of Christ. “Now,” said He, “is the judgment of this world” (John 12:3131Now is the judgment of this world: now shall the prince of this world be cast out. (John 12:31)). having the sense of this in our souls, we shall have no temptation to linger in it; but as true pilgrims, with our loins girded about, and our lights burning, we should ourselves be like unto men that wait for their Lord (Luke 12:35-3635Let your loins be girded about, and your lights burning; 36And ye yourselves like unto men that wait for their lord, when he will return from the wedding; that when he cometh and knocketh, they may open unto him immediately. (Luke 12:35‑36)).
The feast of unleavened bread is appointed in connection with the passover (vss. 14-20). It was not kept in the land of Egypt, for on the same night that God smote the firstborn the children of Israel commenced their journey. But the connection is preserved to show its true typical significance. It is the same in 1 Corinthians 5, “Christ our Passover is sacrificed for us: therefore let us keep the feast, not with old leaven, neither with the leaven of malice and wickedness; but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth” (1 Cor. 5:7-87Purge out therefore the old leaven, that ye may be a new lump, as ye are unleavened. For even Christ our passover is sacrificed for us: 8Therefore let us keep the feast, not with old leaven, neither with the leaven of malice and wickedness; but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth. (1 Corinthians 5:7‑8)) (vss. 7-8). Leaven, as before explained, is a type of evil—evil which spreads and assimilates the mass through which it spreads to its own character. “A little leaven leaveneth the whole lump” (1 Cor. 5:66Your glorying is not good. Know ye not that a little leaven leaveneth the whole lump? (1 Corinthians 5:6)). To eat unleavened bread therefore will signify separation from evil—practical holiness. Mark, too, that the feast was to last for seven days—that is, a complete period of time. The lesson, then, in its interpretation is that holiness is incumbent upon all who are sheltered by the blood of the Paschal Lamb throughout the entire period of their lives on earth. This is the import of the connection of the feast with the passover. If we are saved by the grace of God through the sprinkled blood of Christ, our wretched hearts might reason—we might indulge in sin that grace may abound. “No!” says the Spirit of God, “but as soon as you are under the value of the death of Christ, you are under the responsibility to be separate from evil.” God thus looks for an answer in us, in our walk and conversation, to what He is, and to what He has done for us. It was to enforce this truth that the Israelites were enjoined to keep this feast “by an ordinance forever;” (vs. 14) first, indeed, to remind them that God had on this self-same day brought their armies out of the land of Egypt, and then to teach them the obligations under which they were thereby brought to maintain a walk in accordance with their new position. And may we not add that believers of the present day need to have this obligation recalled to their minds? The one thing to be pressed upon the consciences of all now is the responsibility of keeping this feast of unleavened bread. Looseness of walk, evil associations, and worldliness, are ruining on all sides the testimony of God’s people. “They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. Sanctify them through Thy truth: Thy word is truth” (John 17:16-1716They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. 17Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth. (John 17:16‑17)) (John 17:16-1716They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. 17Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth. (John 17:16‑17)). May this prayer of our blessed Lord be more manifestly answered in the increasing separation and devotedness of His people!
From the 21St to the 28th verse the account is given of the assembling of the elders by Moses to receive the directions already considered. The people on hearing the message “bowed the head, and worshipped. And the children of Israel went away, and did as the Lord had commanded Moses and Aaron, so did they” (vss. 27-28). One interesting particular is added. Provision is made to keep the children instructed as to the meaning of the passover (vss. 26-27); and thus from generation to generation the account should be transmitted of the Lord’s delivering grace and power when He smote the Egyptians.
The Lord having thus marked off His people in His grace, and secured their exemption from judgment through the sprinkled blood, proceeds to smite Egypt as He had declared.
“And it came to pass, that at midnight the Lord smote all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, from the firstborn of Pharaoh that sat on his throne, unto the firstborn of the captive that was in the dungeon; and all the firstborn of cattle. And Pharaoh rose up in the night, he, and all his servants, and all the Egyptians; and there was a great cry in Egypt; for there was not a house where there was not one dead.
“And he called for Moses and Aaron by night, and said, Rise up, and get you forth from among my people, both ye and the children of Israel; and go, serve the LORD, as ye have said. Also take your flocks and your herds, as ye have said, and be gone; and bless me also. And the Egyptians were urgent upon the people, that they might send them out of the land in haste; for they said, We be all dead men. And the people took their dough before it was leavened, their kneading-troughs being bound up in their clothes upon their shoulders. And the children of Israel did according to the word of Moses; and they borrowed of the Egyptians jewels of silver, and jewels of gold, and raiment: and the LORD gave the people favor in the sight of the Egyptians, so that they lent unto them [such things as they required]: and they spoiled the Egyptians” (vss. 29-36).
The blow, so long threatened, but delayed in long-suffering and mercy, at length fell, and fell with crushing effect upon the whole land; for “the Lord smote all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, from the firstborn of Pharaoh that sat on his throne, unto the firstborn of the captive that was in the dungeon; and all the firstborn of cattle” (vs. 29). The hearts of all were wrung with anguish under this sore and bitter stroke, darkening every home in the land, “and there was a great cry in Egypt; for there was not a house where there was not one dead” (vs. 30). Pharaoh’s stubborn heart was reached, and for the moment bowed before the manifest judgment of God. He “rose up in the night, he, and all his servants, and all the Egyptians;” (vs. 30) and sending for Moses and Aaron, bid them depart. He made no conditions now, but granted all they had claimed, and even sought a blessing at their hands. His people went further, and were urgent to send the children of Israel away; for they said, “We be all dead men” (vs. 33). Hence, too, when asked they gave them anything and everything they desired, and thus, according to the word of the Lord, “they spoiled the Egyptians” (vs. 36).
“And the children of Israel journeyed from Rameses to Succoth, about six hundred thousand on foot, that were men, beside children. And a mixed multitude went up also with them; and flocks, and herds, even very much cattle. And they baked unleavened cakes of the dough which they brought forth out of Egypt, for it was not leavened; because they were thrust out of Egypt, and could not tarry, neither had they prepared for themselves any victual.
“Now the sojourning of the children of Israel, who dwelt in Egypt, was four hundred and thirty years. And it came to pass at the end of the four hundred and thirty years, even the selfsame day it came to pass, that all the hosts of the Loan went out from the land of Egypt. It is a night to be much observed unto the Lord for bringing them out from the land of Egypt: this is that night of the Lord to be observed of all the children of Israel in their generations” (vss. 37-42).
God thus emancipated His people from the thralldom of Egypt; and they took the first stage of their journey from Rameses to Succoth, about six hundred thousand on foot that were men, beside children. But, alas! they were not alone. They were accompanied by a “mixed multitude” (vs. 38). This has been the bane of the people of God in every age; source of their weakness, failure, and at times of open apostasy. Paul warns the believers of his day of this special danger (1 Cor. 10); as also Peter (2 Peter 2) and Jude. The church at the present moment is likewise afflicted; nay, it would be hardly too much to say that the church in one aspect is composed of this “great mixture” Hence the importance of the apostle’s words to Timothy, “The foundation of God standeth sure, having this seal, The Lord knoweth them that are His. And, let every one that nameth the name of Christ” (2 Tim. 2:1919Nevertheless the foundation of God standeth sure, having this seal, The Lord knoweth them that are his. And, Let every one that nameth the name of Christ depart from iniquity. (2 Timothy 2:19)) (Lord, it should be) “depart from iniquity. But in a great house there are not only vessels of gold and of silver, but also of wood and of earth; and some to honor, and some to dishonor. If a man therefore purge himself from these, he shall be a vessel unto honor, sanctified, and meet for the master’s use, prepared unto every good work” (2 Tim. 2:19-2119Nevertheless the foundation of God standeth sure, having this seal, The Lord knoweth them that are his. And, Let every one that nameth the name of Christ depart from iniquity. 20But in a great house there are not only vessels of gold and of silver, but also of wood and of earth; and some to honor, and some to dishonor. 21If a man therefore purge himself from these, he shall be a vessel unto honor, sanctified, and meet for the master's use, and prepared unto every good work. (2 Timothy 2:19‑21)). Their departure was in haste, for they were thrust out of Egypt, and could not tarry, neither had they prepared for themselves any victual. No! they were cast wholly on God. He had separated them off from the Egyptians, sheltered them by the blood of the Lamb, and now it was His care to lead them forth and to provide them food by the way. Leaven must not be brought out with them.
“Rise, my soul, thy God directs thee,
Stranger hands no more impede;
Pass thou on, His hand protects thee,
Strength that has the captive freed,
“Is the wilderness before thee,
Desert lands where drought abides?
Heavenly springs shall there restore thee.
Fresh from God’s exhaustless tides.”
For centuries God’s eye had been upon this moment (see Gen. 15:13-1413And he said unto Abram, Know of a surety that thy seed shall be a stranger in a land that is not theirs, and shall serve them; and they shall afflict them four hundred years; 14And also that nation, whom they shall serve, will I judge: and afterward shall they come out with great substance. (Genesis 15:13‑14)); and on the self-same day—the day He had before ordained—His people went forth. They have not as yet crossed the Red Sea; but in the statement that “all the hosts of the Lord went out from the land of Egypt,” (vs. 41) the Spirit of God anticipates their full and perfect deliverance. The blood that sheltered was the foundation of their complete redemption. It is no wonder therefore that it is added that the night of their exodus was to be much observed unto the Lord, and indeed to be held in perpetual remembrance. It was to be observed, remark, unto the Lord, in order to bring continually before their minds the source of that delivering grace and power which had brought them out of Egypt. So now in another way. In the same night in which the Lord Jesus was betrayed He took bread and gave thanks, instituting for His people the precious memorial of His death; so that as often as we eat the bread, and drink the cup, we might show forth the Lord’s death until He come. Throughout the whole of our pilgrimage He would have us to remember Him—to remember Him on that “dark, betrayal night,” when, as our Passover, He was sacrificed for us.
The chapter concludes with “the ordinance of the passover,” (vs. 43) which contains mainly two things. First, as to the persons who might partake of it: “There shall no stranger eat thereof: but every man’s servant that is bought for money, when thou hast circumcised him, then shall he eat thereof. A foreigner and an hired servant shall not eat thereof.” Again, “All the congregation of Israel shall keep it. And when a stranger shall sojourn with thee, and will keep the passover to the Lord, let all his males be circumcised, and then let him come near and keep it; and he shall be as one that is born in the land: for no uncircumcised person shall eat thereof” (vss. 47-48) (vss. 43-45, 47-48). There were then three classes who might keep the passover. (1) The Israelites, (2) Their servants bought with money, and (3) The stranger sojourning with them. But the condition for all these alike was circumcision. None could have a place at the passover table unless they bad been circumcised. Only thus could they be brought within the terms of the covenant which God had made with Abraham (see Gen. 17:9-149And God said unto Abraham, Thou shalt keep my covenant therefore, thou, and thy seed after thee in their generations. 10This is my covenant, which ye shall keep, between me and you and thy seed after thee; Every man child among you shall be circumcised. 11And ye shall circumcise the flesh of your foreskin; and it shall be a token of the covenant betwixt me and you. 12And he that is eight days old shall be circumcised among you, every man child in your generations, he that is born in the house, or bought with money of any stranger, which is not of thy seed. 13He that is born in thy house, and he that is bought with thy money, must needs be circumcised: and my covenant shall be in your flesh for an everlasting covenant. 14And the uncircumcised man child whose flesh of his foreskin is not circumcised, that soul shall be cut off from his people; he hath broken my covenant. (Genesis 17:9‑14)), and on the ground of which He was now acting in bringing them out of Egypt, and taking them to himself for a people. Circumcision is a type of death to the flesh, and has its antitype, as to the thing signified, in the death of Christ. Thus Paul writes to the Colossians, “In whom also ye are circumcised with the circumcision made without hands, in putting off the body of the sins of the flesh by the circumcision of Christ; buried with Him in baptism, wherein also ye are risen with Him through the faith of the operation of God, who hath raised Him from the dead” (Col. 2:11-1211In whom also ye are circumcised with the circumcision made without hands, in putting off the body of the sins of the flesh by the circumcision of Christ: 12Buried with him in baptism, wherein also ye are risen with him through the faith of the operation of God, who hath raised him from the dead. (Colossians 2:11‑12)). Unless therefore all these specified classes were brought on to the ground of the covenant, they could not enjoy the privilege of this most blessed feast—a feast which derived all its meaning from the blood-shedding of the Paschal Lamb. It is exceedingly interesting to notice the special provision made for two of these classes. The Israelites, as such, were entitled to the passover, if they were circumcised. But outside of these were two other classes. A hired servant might not, but a servant bought with money might, if circumcised, be at the feast. It should be remembered that this feast possessed essentially a household character. Hence a servant bought with money became, as it were, incorporated with the family, an integral part of the household, and on this account was included. But a hired servant had no such place or standing, and was consequently excluded. In the “stranger sojourning with thee,” we may see a promise of grace to the Gentiles, when the middle wall of partition should be broken down, and the gospel be proclaimed to the whole world.
Then, lastly, there is a provision as to the lamb itself. “In one house shall it be eaten: thou shalt not carry forth ought of the flesh abroad out of the house; neither shall ye break a bone thereof” (vs. 46). Both the meaning of the type, and the unity of the household, or of Israel, if the whole congregation be considered, would have been lost if this injunction had been disregarded. The blood was upon the dwelling, and the passover lamb was only for those under the shelter of the blood—for no other, and thus it must not be carried forth out of the house. The sprinkled blood is an indispensable condition for feeding on the lamb roast with fire. Neither must a bone be broken, because it was a type of Christ. Hence John says, “These things were done, that the Scripture should be fulfilled, A bone of Him shall not be broken” (John 19:3636For these things were done, that the scripture should be fulfilled, A bone of him shall not be broken. (John 19:36)). It is clear therefore that Christ was before the mind of the Spirit in the paschal lamb; and very blessed is it for us as we read the narrative when we have fellowship with His own thoughts and discern nothing but Christ. May He anoint our eyes ever more fully, that Christ alone may fill the vision of our souls as we read His words!