The sacrifices pointing to Christ’s death were for four thousand years. Every evening and morning, lambs were offered up as sin-offerings, pointing forward to the true sacrifice for sin. The Passover was the day to especially bring this into view above all other days of the year.
THE ANCIENT PASSOVER
“The Passover” refers to two things. The festal event, but the Passover may also refer to the sacrificial lamb which was slain annually. Anciently, when God was to deliver Israel out of Egypt, out of the land of bondage, He commanded that the Passover lamb be slain. “It is the sacrifice of the LORD’S Passover, who passed over the houses of the children of Israel in Egypt, when he smote the Egyptians, and delivered our houses.” (Exodus 12:11)
While the children of Israel were in Egypt, the angel of death was to visit all the families of Egypt, to strike the firstborn heir of the house. The only houses which were under the protection of the Almighty in that day were those who taken the blood of the lamb, “the LORD’s Passover”, after it was slain, and covered the doorposts in blood. The doorposts signify the law of God (Deut. 6:8), and death strikes the home which is under the penalty of sin, which “is transgression of the law” (1 John 3:4), because “the wages of sin is death” (Rom. 6:23).
By the blood of the lamb, the firstborn heirs of the children of Israel were saved alive. Yet those who had no blood upon the doorposts of their homes was a declaration that no justice against sin had been executed. Thus, when the divine visitation came, only the Israelites who faithfully regarded the commandments of God in the observance of the Passover were saved. “And it shall be for a sign unto thee upon thine hand, and for a memorial between thine eyes, that the LORD’S law may be in thy mouth: for with a strong hand hath the LORD brought thee out of Egypt. Thou shalt therefore keep this ordinance in his season from year to year.” (Exodus 13:9-10)
It has been said that a nation was born in a day; in the deliverance of the price paid by the blood of the lamb, ancient Israel’s identity as a nation was established. The Passover was to be a commemorative national festival. It was also commemorative of the day when God made a covenant with Abraham “that he should be heir of the world” (Rom. 4:17); where God foretold that His people would become servants in the land before being delivered (For more information, see Gen. 15, Exo.12:41, Gal. 3:17).
THE PROPHETIC PASSOVER
This great Passover sacrifice the Lord called His own sacrifice, “the LORD’s Passover”. It was His Passover, the Passover of Christ, the true Lamb of God (John 1:29), which was slain. Regarding the Passover lamb, we read: “neither shall ye break a bone thereof.” (Exo. 12:46) For four thousand years, the sacrifices were offered. The altar of Sacrifice was to represent the gospel message of Christ’s sacrifice. In the sanctuary message, there were three sections to the sanctuary, the first of which is the courtyard ministry, where the sacrifices were slain, pointing to this great prophetic Passover Lamb. The sanctuary laid out the work that Christ was to accomplish as our sacrifice, and reveals the work He was doing for four thousand years, preparing His people to understand the great sacrifice He was to make.
“When Pilate therefore heard that saying, he brought Jesus forth, and sat down in the judgment seat in a place that is called the Pavement, but in the Hebrew, Gabbatha. And it was the preparation of the passover, and about the sixth hour: and he saith unto the Jews, Behold your King! But they cried out, Away with him, away with him, crucify him. Pilate saith unto them, Shall I crucify your King? The chief priests answered, We have no king but Caesar.” (John 19:13-15)
When Christ was crucified upon the cross, it was the custom of the Roman soldiers to break the legs of the victims on the cross to hasten their death. “But when they came to Jesus, and saw that he was dead already, they brake not his legs: …For these things were done, that the scripture should be fulfilled, A bone of him shall not be broken.” (John 19:33,36)
This brought new significance to the Passover event. No longer would it be a national festival to commemorate the deliverance out of Egypt. No longer would lambs be slain annually. At the time appointed on Passover, the blood of Christ was slain for the deliverance of His people. Now a better commemoration was to be honored, “for even Christ our passover is sacrificed for us: Therefore let us keep the feast” (1 Cor. 5:7-8).
Instead of a lamb to commemorate this season, Christ instituted the emblems of his sacrifice, unleavened bread and unfermented wine, “in remembrance of Me”. “For as often as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye do shew the Lord’s death till he come.” (1 Cor. 11:26)
By this better Passover memorial, the national memorial of the Israelites was to pass away forever. Now the Messiah’s perfect sacrifice was to be especially remembered in the place where once the lamb was slain every year. His blood upon the doorposts of our hearts is the promise that our sins have gone beforehand to judgment (1 Tim. 5:24-25), falling on the slain Lamb, that we might be heirs with Him of the world to come.
Just as truly as the destroying angel passed through Egypt and laid the icy hand of death upon the brow of every first-born child who was not shielded by the blood, so the second death, from which there will be no resurrection, will fall upon every one who has not been cleansed from sin by the blood of Christ. (Rev. 20:14,15) There was no respect of persons in Egypt, nor will there be respect of persons in the second death. All were slain, from the heir to the throne of Egypt to the first-born of the prisoner in the dungeon. Exalted station, wealth, or earthly fame will not shield one from the destroying angel of the Lord. One thing alone will shield rich and poor alike, it is the precious blood of Christ. “The blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanseth us from all sin.” “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” (1 John 1:7-9)
The wonderful fact that every year, the children of God would offer the lamb at this very time and that Christ died at the very time specified declares that God Himself definitely fixed the time where His Son would be slain for the sins of the world.
THE LAST JUDGMENT
The Passover gives a considerable prophetic warning. All who were not sheltered by the blood of the lamb, as the firstborn heirs of Egypt, will fall under the judgment of the penalty of sin. The Lamb has been slain, but “flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; neither doth corruption inherit incorruption.” (1 Corinthians 15:50)
“For my sword shall be bathed in heaven: behold, it shall come down upon Idumea, and upon the people of my curse, to judgment. The sword of the LORD is filled with blood, it is made fat with fatness, and with the blood of lambs and goats, with the fat of the kidneys of rams: for the LORD hath a sacrifice in Bozrah, and a great slaughter in the land of Idumea…and their land shall be soaked with blood, and their dust made fat with fatness. For it is the day of the LORD’S vengeance, and the year of recompences for the controversy of Zion.” (Isaiah 34:5-8) The sword of judgment, as the angel of death, shall fall upon sin to destroy sin at last. Yet every soul who has associated himself with sin, and has not separated himself, shall be judged. Thankfully, it was this “sword” which struck the great Shepherd of the sheep, that He might reclaim the lost sheep of His pasture (Zech. 13:7)
The curse which falls “to judgment” fell upon Christ, and “Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us: for it is written, Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree…” (Gal. 3:13) For this cause, He calls it “My curse”. Yet if man continues to live in the sins of Egypt, not ceasing from them, he cannot be covered by the blood of the Lamb. The sword that destroys sin will destroy the sinner who refuses to forsake his sins. This requires faith and a willingness to obey, as the Israelites obeyed when Moses gave commandment to the children of Israel to place blood upon the doorposts of their doors.
Of those who do not cease from sin, the Bible speaks of seven last plagues, similar to those which fell in Egypt. Those who have continued in sin, despite having the Lamb slain “and will appoint him his portion with the unbelievers.” (Luke 12:46) Christ died the death for sin. Not just a physical death, but what the Bible calls “the second death”. “For the wages of sin is death” (Rom. 6:23) “He that overcometh shall not be hurt of the second death.” (Rev. 2:11) “He that overcometh shall inherit all things; and I will be his God, and he shall be my son. But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death.” (Revelation 21:7-8)
This death, for the fearful, unbelieving, abominable, murdering, lying, and all other sins were slain by the power of the cross, that Christ might die for them, and render their power ineffectual. Many may claim that the lamb in Egypt did not take away any sins of the Israelites, and this is true; “it is not possible that the blood of bulls and goats should take away sins” (Heb. 10:4); but they did leave the sinful idolatries of Egypt at least in a physical sense. But although sacrificial lambs cannot take away sins, “Christ is the Lamb of God which taketh away the sins of the world.” (John 1:29)
Therefore we ought to leave these sins, and let this salvation through the blood take hold of us, that the power of the flesh, which cannot inherit the Kingdom of God, be crucified. “And they that are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts.” (Gal. 5:24) Yet if we persistently reject the power of the cross in our lives, the judgment that fell upon the Egyptians must fall upon us; our lives must testify to the receiving of the sacrifice by the death of sin.
“I am crucified with Christ…” (Gal. 2:20) says the apostle, therefore let us not live in sin any longer, but to Him that died, and is risen for us. But if not, the protection of the blood is rejected, and we cannot be sheltered from the judgment against sin. “Of how much sorer punishment, suppose ye, shall he be thought worthy, who hath trodden under foot the Son of God, and hath counted the blood of the covenant, wherewith he was sanctified, an unholy thing, and hath done despite unto the Spirit of grace?” (Hebrews 10:29)