“Through faith he kept the Passover, and the sprinkling of blood, lest He that destroyed the firstborn should touch them.”
The preaching of the cross, according to I Corinthians 1:18, is foolishness to them that perish. Actually, of course, it is the wisdom and the power of God. This preaching of the cross speaks of a power that saves. Bu it is foolishness to them that perish, to the natural man. He cannot, being carnal, discern the things of the Spirit of God. For the spiritual, regenerated child of God, however, this preaching has become the wisdom and the power of God; through it he has been saved, by the Lord’s irresistible grace.
This surely applies to this text. How foolish it was, apparently, to keep the Passover, sprinkle the blood upon doorposts and expect the salvation of the Lord during that night! And when Israel left Egypt immediately thereafter, what a foolish route they took, to head for the Red Sea; it is no wonder that Pharaoh must have thought that Moses was completely beside himself. However, the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men.
The passover in this text was, of course, the feast of Israel’s deliverance, when the angel of the Lord passed over Israel because of the blood upon the doorposts and smote all the firstborn of Egypt, man and beast. For this deliverance, preparation had to be made. First, Moses must be prepared. This preparation required forty years. Secondly, Israel must be prepared. Years were also required for this preparation. And, thirdly, Egypt must be prepared. We must bear in mind that the peculiar feature of Israel’s deliverance was that it was exclusively the work of Jehovah and perfectly in harmony with His unchangeable love and righteousness.
First, Moses must be prepared. Once he thought himself ready. At the age of forty he had resolved to visit his people in their affliction. Then he had slain an Egyptian. He had done this believing that his people would recognize in him their deliverer; he had expected Israel to rally behind him. He believed that the time had come when he would lead his people in their deliverance. However, rude had been his awakening. It became evident to him the next day that his people rejected him and would have exposed him to the king of Egypt as the slayer of the Egyptian. And he had fled to Midian. And now he spends forty years in the land of Midian. Finally he is called by Jehovah at the burning bush. Now he is ready to deliver Israel. He had learned patience, walking behind Jethro’s sheep for forty years; now he is deeply aware of his own incompetence, recoiling from the task of leading his people. Now he no longer places his trust in himself and/or his people. All his confidence in himself is gone. He has become a fit instrument to be used by the Lord.
Secondly, Israel must be prepared. Forty years ago they were not ready for their deliverance. Israel must cry unto the Lord for deliverance; they must be conscious of their utter misery and helplessness; they must long for deliverance, and their sole expectation must be from Jehovah. And now the time has become ripe also for them. They cry unto the Lord for deliverance, and the Lord always hearkens to those who cry unto Him.
Thirdly, Egypt must be prepared. Egypt must be prepared, for what? Egypt, the world power at this time, must fill its measure of iniquity, must reveal the utter folly of sin. This world power, in unbelievably foolish pride, must actually commit the unbelievable folly of opposing the Jehovah God of Israel, the one and only Lord of hosts, must experience the wrath of God in ten devastating plagues, and refuse to let Israel go because of its refusal to acknowledge the living God and His authority to command Israel’s release, even then when divine wrath and desolation are visited by God upon the land. For this Egypt was prepared. Egypt no longer had a king who was sympathetic to Israel. Now a king had ascended the throne who knew not Joseph and hated Israel; God placed him upon that throne. God raised him up, hardened his heart to make His power known. Jehovah led this king and his people in the way of the folly of sin, in order that the folly of sin might be fully revealed, and the Lord would reveal Himself as the one and only living God.
And so all things are now ready for Jehovah’s manifestation of Himself. Moses had been prepared in the desert—which was also true of Elijah the Tishbite, of John the Baptist and of the Savior. The time was ripe for Israel’s exodus.
Literally we read: “Through or by faiths he made the passover.” Later, in Canaan, Israel kept, observed the Passover. Here it was made, brought into existence. The meaning is that Moses, through divine inspiration, instituted it, called it into existence.
First, the passover was the feast of Israel’s deliverance. With nine mighty plagues the Lord had devastated the land, and the tenth was at hand. The time had come for the tenth and most devastating plague. All the firstborn, from the greatest to the least, also the firstborn of the cattle, would be struck by the destroyer; a howl unprecedented would be heard throughout the land of Egypt, and Israel would be begged to leave. Israel would not be touched. The Lord had made a distinction between Israel and Egypt, and that night it would become very plain who were the people of God in that land. From now on Israel would commence to live as a separated people, consecrated unto the Lord; for this reason they were to eat the Passover.
We know how the passover was kept. The tenth of the month they were to separate a lamb from the flock, not older than a year and not younger than eight days short of a year, without blemish. Four days later they were to sacrifice it, not cut it into pieces, nor break a bone of the animal. The blood they must strike on the doorposts and upon the upper doorpost; they were to roast it whole; not more than twenty and not less than ten may eat of it. Whatever was left of the lamb must be burned. And they were to eat it as ready to depart out of Egypt, their loins girded and their shoes on their feet and standing with their staves in their hands. These instructions Moses had received from the Lord.
The significance of this feast is plain. Israel is now consecrated as a people to their covenant God. Until now they had not been a separate people, living in a land not their own. They had not yet been delivered, and the world did not yet know, and certainly did not believe, that Jehovah had a people. Now they are to be consecrated as a people to the Lord. The Lord was to deliver them, lead them into a country of their own, consecrate them unto Himself as His covenant people. This would take place through the Passover. It would be the feast of their deliverance. The angel of the Lord would pass over Israel, but he would destroy the firstborn of Egypt, and Egypt would beg them to leave the land, heaping upon them gifts of silver and gold. Israel’s deliverance would be accomplished and it would be accompanied by the destruction of the enemy.
Moreover, the passover had also a typical significance. Of course, the cause of Jehovah’s selection of Israel lay not in the people but in God alone. They surely were not worthy of it. It is only because the Lord loved them with an unconditional and unchangeable love. Fact is, the sprinkling of the blood was never revealed to the Egyptians. Israel alone received this revelation. And this emphasizes the typical character of Israel’s deliverance out of Egypt. The blood upon the doorposts is a symbol of the blood of Christ. This deliverance is a symbol of our deliverance out of the bondage of sin through the blood of Christ; Israel’s departure into Canaan is a symbol of our deliverance into the heavenly Canaan through the blood of Christ, and also through the wilderness of this world, by God’s almighty grace.
This Passover, now, Moses kept or made. To be sure, also Israel observed this feast. But in this text the emphasis falls upon Moses, inasmuch as he, directed by God, instituted it and therefore made it in the land of Egypt. Then, to whom was the blood upon the doorposts a sign? It was surely not a sign to Jehovah. It was not a sign to direct the angel of the Lord as he destroyed the firstborn wherever the blood was not upon the doorposts. The Lord needs no signs to direct Him on His way. Besides, it was night in the land of Egypt. The blood, of course, was a sign for the people. It was a sign whereby Israel embraced the significance of the Passover. O, Moses undoubtedly did not understand it fully, and Israel surely did not; besides, thousands there were who simply “went along.” Yet, they realized one thing: it was because of the blood that they were selected, and that blood was a symbol of the Blood that was to come. Israel embraced Jehovah’s love of them, only purely for Jesus Christ’s sake.
Apparently, this passover was an act of folly! First, God’s selection of Israel was not because Israel was any better than Egypt. Why should the Lord favor Israel, us, above the world? Are we any better? Of course not! Secondly, had Pharaoh given any indication that he would release the people? How the land had been devastated! And had the king given any sign that he was relenting? Had he not become more obdurate and rebellious with the passing of each plague? Had he not commanded Moses in his last interview with him to remain out of his sight? How foolish it would be for Israel if Pharaoh now would not let them go! Imagine, they were eating of the passover as if they were departing! And what if, on the morrow, the king would not let them go? What if Pharaoh would change his mind? What would they be able to do about it? How could Israel, unarmed, oppose the mighty king of Egypt?
Their keeping of the passover was possible only by faith! First, it was surely a confession of sin. Indeed, this sprinkling of the blood was a sign, not for God, but for the people. With this they confessed their own sin and unworthiness. And this confession is possible only by faith. Only when we see and acknowledge our sin can we confess our sin. Secondly, Israel embraced the word and promise of the Lord. Israel believed that the Lord would deliver them that night and lead them out of the Egyptian house of bondage. Israel believed that the blood upon the doorposts was a symbol of another Blood that was to come, and that the Lord would surely fulfill His word of promise. And believing, Israel’s faith was surely the evidence of things unseen and the substance of things hoped for, the taking hold of the invisible, of that which appeared absolutely impossible. And this is surely the faith of the church throughout the ages.
We look not upon the things that are seen. All we see is sickness and death and the grave.
We look upon the invisible God, God’s faithful word and promise.
We believe in Jesus; He will lead us safely home.