DIG: Why would the lamb be slaughtered in the doorway of their houses? What was the purpose in teaching the exodus story to their children? How long is the Passover to be celebrated? Is it for believers today?
REFLECT: How do you remember the Lamb who was slain (Revelation 5:12)? What part do ceremonies, such as communion or the Easter family meal, play in helping you remember what God has done for you, back then and now? How do you, or will you, keep these memories alive in your children?
Moses then gave the elders of Isra'el instructions (12:21-23) for the Passover similar to those that God had given him earlier. Then they were to pass on those instructions to the people. He summoned all the elders and said to them: Go at once and select the animals for your families and slaughter the Passover lamb (12:21).
As a mouthpiece for God, Moses continued: Slaughter the Passover lamb in the entrance, or doorway of your house (12:22a). The NIV translates this verse: Dip some hyssop into the blood in the basin. The Hebrew word translated basin has two distinct meanings. On the one hand, it can be translated as basin or goblet, as in Second Samuel 17:28 and First Kings 7:50, but on the other hand, it is more often translated doorway, as seen in Judges 19:27 and Ezekiel 43:8. Because of the context, I believe doorway is the better translation here; however, it may be a play on words, a basin in the doorway. The Septuagint translates it along the doorway, and the Vulgate on the threshold. It implies that the entire structure of the door, the top, both sides of the doorframe and the doorway was to be covered with blood.209
Then they were instructed to take many stalks of hyssop, and put some of the blood on the top and on both sides of the doorframe (12:22b). Hyssop is a small, bushy plant with thin stalks, and has masses of tiny white flowers. The rabbis teach that a bunch was to consist of three sticks. The hairy surface of its leaves and branches holds liquids well and makes it suitable as a sprinkling device for ceremonial purification and covering of sin (used figuratively in Psalm 51:7), the cleansing of lepers (Leviticus 14:4-6, 49-52), and the sacrifice of a red heifer (Numbers 19: 1-6, 18-19).210 The hyssop is never found in connection with any of the offerings that point to Jesus Christ Himself. It is only found in the hands of the sinner.211
Therefore, the blood was not merely a sign that judgment would pass over the home, but it was also a blood sacrifice for the purpose of covering their sins. They were instructed not to go out the door of their houses until morning (12:22c). The rabbis teach that as God Himself was to pass through Egypt that night, it would not be proper for any Israelite to catch a glimpse of the Divine manifestation. There is no safety except behind the blood of Christ (Mark 16:16).212
When ADONAI goes through the land to strike down the Egyptians, He will see the blood on the top and sides of the doorframe and will pass over that doorway, and He will not permit the destroyer of the firstborn (Hebrews 11:28) to enter your houses and strike you down (12:23). As God began to move through the land of Egypt, the destroyer was right behind Him. As the source of the judgment, the destroyer was in obedience to God; however, ADONAI was the Protector of the faithful.
The focus was not simply on the instructions; the Passover was to be a lasting ordinance, not just a one-time event.213 Obey these instructions as a lasting ordinance for you and your descendants (12:24). It needed to be taught to children so that its meaning and significance would be passed on from generation to generation. Their descendants would benefit most from the Egyptian Passover.214 Today, the rabbis have adapted many things from the Egyptian Passover. One example is the presence of the shank bone of a lamb. Today, since the roasted lamb can no longer be served at the Passover meal, the shank bone of a lamb is substituted as a remembrance. Sometimes the bone itself is roasted or boiled. The rabbis teach that the shank bone, which is the forearm of the lamb, is used because God brought the Jews out of Egypt with an outstretched arm (6:6b).
The Land that God had promised Abraham, Isaac and Jacob is Canaan, and it was given to Abraham and his descendants many centuries before (Genesis 12:7). When you enter the Land that ADONAI will give you as He promised, observe this ceremony (12:25). They were not to forget what God had done for them as a people.215 But except for the Egyptian Passover, only once did the Israelites keep the Passover in the forty years of wilderness wanderings, and that was in the second year after the exodus (Numbers 9:1-5).
When their children would see the events of the Passover ceremony, they would naturally be curious. Parents were to use that teachable moment to share the story of redemption from Egypt, and constantly remind them of how God bought them back from slavery. So it was not merely the story they were to share, but more importantly the children were to come to know its meaning and significance. And when your children ask you, “What does this ceremony mean to you?” then tell them, “It is the Passover sacrifice to ADONAI, who passed over the houses of the Israelites in Egypt and spared our homes when He struck down the Egyptians” (12:26-27a, also see 13:14-15).
Then the people, grateful for their soon-to-be deliverance from centuries of slavery, bowed down and worshiped (12:27b). The phrase bowed down and worshiped is a Hebrew idiom reflecting a scene of worship and praise (also see 4:31). The worship of God was soon followed by action. Israelites did just what ADONAI commanded Moses and Aaron to do (12:28), obeying their instructions down to the last detail.
Since the Passover celebration is to be celebrated throughout history, from one generation to the next, how do we celebrate the Passover today? When Christ celebrated the Passover with His disciples on the eve of His crucifixion, He said: Do this in remembrance of Me (Luke 22:19). Every Passover meal included two basic elements: wine and unleavened bread. The wine symbolized the blood of the lamb that was shed for the Israelites to protect them from the avenging angel. The bread signified the bread carried on their backs when they left Egypt in haste. Jesus reinterpreted those two elements and pronounces the Passover event a type of Himself and His ministry. In Matthew 26:26-28, Jesus says that the wine is a figure of the blood of Christ that takes away the sins of His people, and the bread is a figure of His body that was hung on the cross for sinners. In short, Jesus proclaimed that He is the Passover Lamb, who by the shedding of His blood is a substitute for His people, protecting them from the wrath and judgment of ADONAI. As the blood of the Passover lamb covers Israel, so the blood of Christ, the Messiah, covers the New Covenant believer (John 1:29; First Peter 1:19; First Corinthians 5:7).
The fact of the matter is that when believers celebrate the Lord’s Supper today they are keeping the Passover that ADONAI commanded His people to honor forever. It reminds them of the work of Christ in paying the ransom and delivering them from death and darkness. It is also a sign that believers are the people of God and He dwells in their midst. And, finally, it is a sign of the continuity from the righteous of the TaNaKh, to the believers of the B'rit Chadashah.216
The Teaching Ministry of Jay Mack 2006-2017