************ Sermon on Exodus 12:1-14 ************
By: Rev. Adrian Dieleman
This sermon was preached on March 11, 2012
On this Lord's Supper Sunday, as we continue our observance of Lent, we see Israel at the threshold of a new beginning. Not only are they about to celebrate the Passover for the first time. Not only are they about to leave Egypt after 430 years (cf Ex 12:40; Gal 3:17). But God has also changed their calendar. Up to this point in time, the Jewish calendar began in the fall. But God announced their calendar would now begin in the Spring:
(Ex 12:2) This month is to be for you the first month, the first month of your year.So, at midnight a new age begins for the "whole community of Israel" (Ex 12:3). Passover is to be their New Year's Day. The death of the Passover lamb makes a new beginning, just as the death of Christ makes a new beginning for every believing sinner.
Exodus 12 is also the first time the word "congregation" or "community" is used for the children of Israel. Moses uses it four times in Exodus 12 (vs 3,6,19,47). It is the same word translated as "church" in the New Testament. It points us to a chosen community called together to hear the Word of God. So, the Passover also marks Israel's birth as a nation. Note, like Israel, it is good to begin the day and to begin the year and especially to begin our lives with God.
As we look at the Passover this morning, there are two New Testament verses I want you to keep in mind:
(Jn 1:29) The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, "Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!Jesus is the Lamb of God. Jesus is our Passover Lamb.
(1Cor 5:7) ... Christ, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed.
I The Lamb Chosen (vs 1-5)
A The Passover begins with the choosing of a lamb. God said to Moses,
(Ex 12:3) Tell the whole community of Israel that on the tenth day of this month each man is to take a lamb for his family, one for each household.
Do you know what Peter tells us about Jesus? Peter tells us, Jesus is the Lamb "chosen before the creation of the world" (1 Pt 1:20).
B Notice the kind of animal that needed to be chosen as a Passover lamb:
(Ex 12:5) The animals you choose must be year-old males without defect, and you may take them from the sheep or the goats.
Again, we need to think of Jesus. According to Peter, Jesus is "a lamb without blemish or defect" (1 Pt 1:19). Jesus is the perfect Lamb of God in whom there is no spot or stain. According to Hebrews, He was tempted in every way, just as we are – yet was without sin (Heb 4:15). So, unlike us, He did not fall into temptation (we are hearing more about temptation tonight as we continue our study of the Lord's Prayer).
C Finally, the chosen lamb was observed and tested from the tenth day to the fourteenth day. The people watched the lambs to make sure they were satisfactory; for four days the lambs were watched to make sure they indeed were spotless, pure, holy, and without blemish; for four days the lambs were examined to make sure there was nothing wrong with them.
Do you remember what happened to Jesus the last week and especially the last day? He was challenged and tested frequently. By the elders and chief priests and scribes. By Pilate. By Herod. By Annas. By Caiaphas. He was even tested by Judas. And in every case they found nothing wrong with Him. In order to crucify Him they had to trump up charges against Him. Why? Because He was a lamb without blemish.
Again, think of the words of John the Baptist: "Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world! (Jn 1:29). Jesus is the Passover Lamb (1 Cor 5:7), the pure and spotless Lamb (1 Pt 1:19).
II The Lamb Slain (vs 6-7, 12-13)
A A living lamb is a lovely thing. Cute, cuddly, soft. But a living lamb does no good. A living lamb cannot save from sin. Likewise, as the Lord's Supper reminds us, a Jesus Who does not die does us no good. We are not saved by Christ's example. We are not saved by Christ's life. We are not saved by Christ's miracles and healings and teachings.
The Passover lamb needed to be killed to do any good. So, on the fourteenth day the lamb was slaughtered at twilight, that is, around 3 o'clock in the afternoon (Ex 12:6).
It wasn't only each household that killed a lamb. The high priest also took a lamb that had been tested and checked over and approved by all the people and tied it on top of the altar at 9 o'clock in the morning. From 9 o'clock in the morning until "twilight" the lamb was staked out in preparation for slaughter. At 3 o'clock in the afternoon, the high priest recited some words that ended with "It is finished." As he said these words, he drew the knife across the throat of the lamb.
It is no accident that Jesus' crucifixion began at the exact same time that the lamb was being staked out on the altar (cf Mk 15:25). And, it is no accident that at 3 o'clock, at the very moment the high priest cut the throat of the lamb, Jesus bowed His head and gave up His Spirit after He said "It is finished" (Jn 19:30).
Why did Jesus die at this time and in this way? Because from eternity He is the Lamb of God Who takes away the sin of the world (Jn 1:29). He is the Passover Lamb Who has been crucified (1 Cor 5:7). He is the Passover Lamb Who must be crucified because only a Jesus Who died is able to save us.
In Israel, many lambs were slain on the Passover. But as far as God is concerned there is but one Lamb – the Lord Jesus Christ. Isaac could ask father Abraham, "where is the lamb?" (Gen 22:7). John the Baptist answered by saying, "Look, the Lamb of God" (Jn 1:29). And, all of heaven responds by singing, "Worthy is the Lamb, who was slain" (Rev 5:12).
B But there is more. The community of Israel was commanded to take some of the blood and put it on the sides and tops of the doorframes of their houses (Ex 12:7). Anyone who walked into the house, did so under the blood.
Why did the Israelites do this with the blood? Doesn't this sound unclean?
Ruth was watching the cooking show, "Chopped", this past week. I caught the end of it. One of the chefs turned his materials into two different but very attractive looking tacos. He was chopped out of the show even though he should have won. Why? Because he badly cut his finger while cutting food and used his blood-covered finger to prepare and present the food. None of the tasters were willing to sample his creation because they couldn't get past the sight of the blood.The shedding and the spreading of blood is not a nice thing. In this day of AIDS and hepatitis, it is not something with which we should feel comfortable. Yet, God commanded it for Israel.
Why? Remember what God was going to do. He was going to go through Egypt and strike down every firstborn – both men and animals – and bring judgment on all the gods of Egypt (Ex 12:12). Not only were the firstborn of Egypt killed that night, but many commentators believe Egypt's idol gods were also demolished that night: those of metal were melted, those of wood consumed by fire, and those of stone broken to pieces. God showed Himself to be the Lord, the one only true God (Ex 12:12).
At the same time, God announced He was going to pass over those homes where He sees blood. Of course, God knows all things (1 Jn 3:20) and did not need to make an inspection tour through all of Egypt to see which homes had the blood of the lamb on the doorposts. So, notice, the sprinkled blood on the Israelite homes provided protection. The blood of sprinkling is the security of God's people when the time of judgment comes.
III The Lamb Eaten (vs 8-11)
A After the lamb is killed, it is to be roasted and eaten. We often overlook this important part of the Passover. The blood of the lamb was sufficient to save from death, but the people had to feed on the lamb to get strength for their pilgrim journey. Remember, they were leaving Egypt that night and going into the wilderness (Ex 12:11).
B This reminds us that salvation is just the beginning. It is not the end. It is never the end. So, people who are saved must feed on Christ. We must feed on Christ if we want to live for Him and follow Him. We must feed on Christ to get strength for the pilgrim journey. Remember, Christians are a pilgrim people (Ex 12:11), who must always be ready for their Lord's orders to move on. Which is why we celebrate the Lord's Supper this morning. We come together to feed on Christ. Too many people receive the Lamb as their salvation but neglect to feed on Him.
Let me end with four conclusions. First, the Passover reminded Israel, and on this Lord's Supper Sunday it reminds us, that deliverance is costly. It costs blood. Look at the price Israel had to pay – the blood of its lambs. Look at the price God had to pay – the blood of His only begotten Son. Israel saw all this blood – an unbelievable amount of blood. Blood everywhere. Flowing on the ground into the trench and the collection pot and then smeared over the door and on the sides of the door. To be saved and delivered and rescued is a costly undertaking.
Second, the Passover reminded Israel, and on this Lord's Supper Sunday it reminds us, that we have been saved and delivered and rescued. You need to realize and recognize there has been deliverance from bondage. Israel had been delivered from its bondage to Pharaoh and Egypt. We have been delivered from our bondage to sin. If you are in Jesus Christ, then you have been set free – free from sin.
Third, the Passover reminded Israel, and on this Lord's Supper Sunday it reminds us, that the blood of the Lamb covers us from God's searching judgment. Egypt was not covered and lost its firstborn. What a sad night in all the Egyptian households! But Israel was covered. The Angel of death and wrath, the Angel of God's holy judgment, did not strike any home covered with the blood of the lamb. The blood of the Lamb, the Lamb of God, also covers us so that there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus (Rom 8:1). There is power, power, wonder-working power in the precious blood of the Lamb.
Fourth, the Passover reminded Israel, and on this Lord's Supper Sunday it reminds us, that people who have been saved must feed on the Lamb.
Congregation, rejoice and be glad, remember and believe, that Christ – the Passover Lamb – has been slain.
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