In our text the writer to the Hebrews affords a last glance at what transpired in the land of Egypt. Israel had been dwelling here for four hundred thirty years. Now they will be leaving; the LORD will deliver them through redemption with blood. This will not be emancipation; it will be deliverance from sin and guilt, death and shame, for God’s firstborn son, Israel. Had not God said: Israel is my firstborn son? And had Pharaoh not stout-heartedly refused to let God’s firstborn son go to worship Him, but had kept him in cruel bondage?
In our text here we see the great faith of Moses in preparing the Passover and the effusion of blood on the door-posts. This is the faith which does not draw back into perdition, but believes unto the saving of the soul. It is, faith which looked to Christ, the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world. For let it not be overlooked or forgotten that Jesus makes the statement concerning Moses that if one believes Moses, one believes in Me, for Moses writes concerning (peri) Me! (John 5:46) The subject in Exodus 12is not Moses at all, but it is Moses’ faith in the Christ of God. Strictly speaking, the Cross of Calvary was raised up typically in the land of Egypt. Israel comes out of Egypt by virtue of the love of God which He reveals in the shedding of the blood of the Cross.
This blood of the Lamb in Egypt made a separation. It is blood which is to be shed for the people of Israel, the firstborn son of God. It is rooted in sovereign election of grace, and is the fulfillment of the promise of God to the fathers. There are two kinds of firstborn sons in Scripture. The one is the firstborn after the flesh. This is the world in its power and splendor. The other is the firstborn after the promise of God. This is the church in the Firstborn Son, who is the-Firstborn of all creatures as the Firstborn out of the dead. (Col. 1:15-20)
In this night all the firstborn of the flesh will die. Thus it is announced by Moses to Pharaoh. It will be the culmination of all the dreadful plagues of Jehovah God. God is the LORD, and Pharaoh and all Egypt will acknowledge it; they will bow before the LORD! And God will save His own firstborn by the blood of redemption.
Only by faith does Moses perform the will of the LORD!
THE PASSOVER INSTITUTED (Hebrews 11:28)
There is a difference of opinion amongst commentators whether the verb in the Greek, which is “pepoieeke” should be translated “celebrated” or “prepared,” that is, “instituted.” Delitzsch takes exception to Lunemann and others that the term should refer to both the institution and the celebration of the Passover. According to him it must simply refer to the celebration.
We believe that the term in the Greek must refer to both. In the first place, because the verb is in the perfect tense and indicates completed action up till the present. The aorist tense would have indicated the once-celebration in Egypt. However, what Moses did in Egypt reaches across the ages. It is to be an ordinance “forever.” This does not mean that the Passover is still an ordinance in the Old Testament form. This was abolished by Christ at Calvary. It was “forever” in the limited sense that is ever indicated in this term when applied to the typical ordinance in Israel. And, therefore, the preparing of the Passover refers not only to the celebration in Egypt, in that holy night of God, but refers to the institution of the typical celebration of the Passover also through the ages. It is a picture of our Passover, the celebration of the Lord’s Supper up till this present day. And it will be such till Christ comes upon the clouds, and then we shall eat of the vine, and drink the new wine in the kingdom.
We must, therefore, distinguish between the Passover proper and the later celebration of the event. Our text refers first of all to the “Passover” proper, to the historic event of the LORD passing over Israel in the night when He slew the firstborn of Egypt, both of man and of beast. This event happened in the land of Egypt! Writes Lange of the phrase “In the land of Egypt,” “It is a mark of dominion of Jehovah in the midst of His enemies, that he established the Jewish community in the land of Egypt, and also the Christian community in the midst of Judaism, and the Evangelical community under the dominion of the Papacy. To the triumphant assurance in regard to the place corresponds the triumphant assurance in regard to the time: the Passover, as a typical festival of redemption, was celebrated before the typical redemption itself; the Lord’s Supper before the real redemption, and in the constant repetition of its celebration it points forward to the final redemption, which is to take place when the Lord comes.” (Commentary on Exodus)
We do not quite agree with the designation of “Jewish Community” in Egypt. It was the church of the firstborn of God. Still it was a national community in Egypt. They were born a nation in this night. And thus they were formed and called forth in Egypt. And they are separated from the Egyptians in this night, that all the world may know that the Lord doth make this difference by blood. Here is the wonder of grace!
The Passover was the passing over of the angel of destruction, the destroying angel with his glittering sword. And “when I shall see the blood, I will pass over,” said the LORD to Moses. And in view of this the Passover must be instituted.
In the second place, therefore, the Passover was a typical feast celebrating the remembrance of the Lord’s deliverance. It was the Old Testament Sacrament of the Lord’s Supper. In it the Lamb must be eaten in which a bone has not been broken. They must not eat Lamb stew, and Lamb chops, but they must eat the “body.” The body must lie before Israel. They must eat it with bitter herbs, reminding them of liberty from the bitter service of Egypt, and of their present liberty in the LORD. They must eat unleavened bread reminding them of the bread of affliction (Deut. 16:3). The bread must be unleavened, for all that was of the sinfulness of Egypt must be left behind as an evil leaven which would leaven their entire lives; putting away the leaven was a token of complete sanctification of life without which no one would see the Lord. And this must be reenacted annually as the feast in the beginning of months.
This Passover was instituted by Moses by faith!
It was saving faith, justifying faith! It was the faith which is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. It was faith which prepared the Passover in the land of Egypt, (while Moses is still in bondage); which hoped for the great redemption of the LORD!
THE SPRINKLING (EFFUSION) OF BLOOD (Hebrews 11:28; Exodus 12:6, 7)
The houses of the children of Israel must be safe in this awful, holy night of the LORD. At midnight the LORD would pass through the land; He would come as a thief in the night. And Israel must be watchful unto prayer and be hidden safely under the blood which the LORD Himself had prescribed. It was to be the Lamb, which God told them to prepare, whose blood was to be put on the side-posts of the door of the houses and on the door-lintel, that is, the upper door-posts.
Now either this was the LORD’S way of redeeming Israel in this night, or otherwise it is nameless superstition. To the Egyptian this must have seemed foolishness, and to many in Israel perhaps it was a stumbling-block. But to those who believed it was the power and wisdom of God. If this way of putting blood on the door-posts was folly it was surely wiser than men; and if it is weakness, it is stronger than men. In this night the wise will be taken in their own craftiness. But Moses preached redemption in the blood; it was to be the blood of a year-old Lamb; it was to be without spot or blemish.
Israel must take this blood and put it on the door. Each head of the home must thus appropriate this blood by faith. Moses, too, must put it on his door. The law-giver cannot save Himself. He must be covered by the blood of the Lamb. He brings about an “exodus” out of Egypt, but Christ will fulfill the “exodus” at Jerusalem through His death and resurrection to bring Israel into the promised land. And in this faith Moses too takes refuge in this holy night under the blood. He does this with all of Israel by faith.
What a sight that must have been, to see all of the thousands of the houses of the Israelites with blood on the doors! Here is faith which does not look back, but it looks forward across the ages. How could otherwise the blood of a mere lamb save Israel. The blood of goats, bullocks and sheep never took away any sin. It perfected nothing. (Hebrews 7:19; Heb. 9:9; Heb. 10:1, 14)
No, this rite of putting blood on the door-post was never repeated at later feasts of the Passover. It need not be. The LORD only passed through Egypt in this night of nights. And Israel only needed the protection of blood and faith in this promised redemption by blood. Later they could relate to their children the meaning of this feast and could recall what the LORD had performed for Israel and against Egypt in this night. It was ever remembered in the high-points of Israel’s faith. However, when Israel’s faith wanes and they do not walk in the thankfulness of redemption and forget God’s Sabbaths, then they also neglect the feast of the Passover. At such seasons they do not look toward the end of the law, to Christ. They fall back then into perdition and do not press on to the salvation of the soul. But when they walk in faith, as did Hezekiah and Josiah who kept the feast, then they also walk in patience, looking for the reward of the LORD.
We, too, must have blood on our door-posts. We have covenant homes. And salvation is not a mere personal matter. It is for Israel, for the church in our generations. We put this blood on our door-post by faith in the blood of Christ. And we are safe under the blood; we have been saved from wrath. And if we have been saved through the death of Christ, we shall be saved much more through His Life.
The LORD sent His angel that night over Egypt with his destroying sword. Centuries later David saw this angel over Jerusalem with his sword. He killed many in Israel in the pestilence, when David had numbered the people contrary to the will of the Lord. Then David makes a sacrifice. And the LORD says it is enough. His mercy is in the way of satisfied justice! Payment must be made. And the LORD stays the hand of the angel of death. He may not enter into Israel’s homes. God is just! He is faithful. The blood of Jesus Christ cleanses from all unrighteousness.
Safe with the blood of the LORD on the door-posts by faith!