Alive Update: 16 Verses ~ The Passover Lamb

Theme: The Passover Lamb

Verse: For the Lord will pass through to strike the Egyptians, and when he sees the blood on the lintel and on the two doorposts, the Lord will pass over the door and will not allow the destroyer to enter your houses to strike you. (Exodus 12:23)

Key Biblical Theological Themes: Redemption, Substitution

The Story So Far: God created a kingdom, and he is the King, but he made human beings to represent him in that kingdom. Adam and Eve rejected this call, which led to sin and death. But God promised to defeat the Serpent through the seed of the woman, who is also the seed of Abraham. Through Abraham’s family, and specifically Judah’s royal seed, the covenant blessings would come to the world. Because all people were guilty and deserved death, the sacrifices of the Mosaic law revealed more clearly their need for a substitute.

Here’s a question for us from this passage: How exactly did God rescue his people from slavery in Egypt?

On the night before he would finally rescue them from Egypt, God commanded each Israelite family to sacrifice a lamb and spread its blood over the top of their door and the doorposts on each side. Then he said:

[23] For the LORD will pass through to strike the Egyptians, and when he sees the blood on the lintel and on the two doorposts, the LORD will pass over the door and will not allow the destroyer to enter your houses to strike you. (Exodus 12:23 ESV)

So, we see that in a very direct way, God rescued his people by the blood of the Passover Lambs.

Because the lambs were sacrificed, the people did not have to die. Because the blood of the lambs was spilt, the firstborn sons were safe.

It had to be this way because the Egyptians were not the only ones under a death sentence.

The Israelites were just as guilty, if not more so… it’s a familiar sin they were guilty of, just like Adam and Eve in the Garden, they didn’t trust that God’s words were true.

Here’s the beautiful thing: when God passed His judgment on Egypt, he provided a way of escape for His people. This way of escape laid the foundation for the law He was about to give them…

The lambs died so that the firstborn sons would not… although we’ve seen hints of this before, this is one of the earliest, clear examples of the important Biblical principles of substitution.

In other words, the Passover lambs were substitutes for the firstborn of Israel.

There was a big problem with this sacrifice… namely, the fact that the people of Israel would soon need another one (sacrifice) on their behalf.

The law set Israel apparent as a nation, as God’s “treasured possession”

[6] “For you are a people holy to the LORD your God. The LORD your God has chosen you to be a people for his treasured possession, out of all the peoples who are on the face of the earth. (Deuteronomy 7:6 ESV)

The message sent to each and every Israelite, with each bull, goat or lamb sacrificed was this; “You deserve this, it should be your blood.”

Now, put yourself in the place of an Israelite for a moment.

If you were truly grasping the sacrificial meaning you would think to yourself: ‘The consequence of sin is death, but, in the garden, God promised to overcome the effects of sin and finally defeat the Serpent. However, these sacrifices have to be repeated year after year. So the can’t actually be defeating sing… in fact, when I offer a sacrifice, I am admitting that I deserve this death. So unless something or someone greater comes, all I am doing is delaying the inevitable… I need a greater sacrifice!

While God had many purposes for the law, one of the clearest and most important was to point to the need for a greater sacrifice still to come.

God redeemed His people from slavery in Egypt by means of a substitute.

The entire Mosaic covenant points forward to the need for a greater sacrifice. It points us to the promised seed.

Like Adam and Eve, however, the Israelites were not satisfied with God’s rule over them.

Eventually they asked for a king like the other nations around them. And God gave them what they asked for.

King Saul was exactly what they wanted – a king like the ones in the surrounding nations, a king who relied on military strength, the wisdom of man, and the worship of false gods.

But this was not the King through whom God’s promises would come.

That King would come much later.

For Discussion & Further Reading

1) Have you ever been confused or bothered by the Old Testament law and by the sacrifices in particular? Why do you think these things confused or bothered you?

2) In what ways do you understand the Old Testament law better after reading this chapter? What questions do you still have?

3) Notice the order of events in the exodus account. First, God keeps his promises and delivers his
people. Then he gives them the law. Do you see this pattern anywhere else in Scripture? What might
this teach us about how we should respond to commands in the Bible?

4) Both the Egyptians and the Israelites needed a substitute. Do you honestly see yourself as someone
who needs a substitute, or do you tend to think of yourself as someone who just needs a little extra help
to be okay? Why do you think that is the case?

Psalm 78 
How does this psalm help you understand the biblical theological themes from this chapter and the big story of the Bible, which culminates with Jesus?

Exodus 12 
What are some key insights from this passage that add to your understanding of the story and the biblical theological themes?