EGYPT AND THE PASSOVER
In which the Believer takes refuge in the work of Christ, to be shielded from God’s Judgment against sin.
The time in Egypt represents the time when we were dead in trespasses in sins, guilty before God, in bondage to Satan. Israel was under hard bondage, just as a sinner is a slave to sin. The more we appreciate our lost and ruined condition, the greater our appreciation of the grace of God that picked us up and saved us. Even years later, when Israel had come into their inheritance, and the first crop of the year was gathered in, they were to remember their origins, and say “A Syrian ready to perish was my father” (Deut. 26:4-5). Five times over in the book of Deuteronomy, Moses told the people who were about to enter Canaan that they should “…Remember that thou wast a bondman in the land of Egypt, and that Jehovah thy God brought thee out thence with a powerful hand and with a stretched-out arm” (Deut. 5:15; 15:15; 16:12; 24:18, 22). The more we understand the awful character of this world, and the prince of this world, the more ready we will be to separate from it.
Bondage in Egypt
The story begins in Egypt, with God’s chosen people in bondage to a cruel master. Egypt is a picture of this world which has been usurped by Satan, and has fallen under his influence. We all begin here, but God has a plan for each one of us, which includes deliverance from Satan’s power, and much more.
“And when the sun was going down, a deep sleep fell upon Abram; and, lo, an horror of great darkness fell upon him. And he said unto Abram, Know of a surety that thy seed shall be a stranger in a land that is not theirs, and shall serve them; and they shall afflict them four hundred years; And also that nation, whom they shall serve, will I judge: and afterward shall they come out with great substance.” Genesis 15:12-14
“And it came to pass at the end of the four hundred and thirty years, even the selfsame day it came to pass, that all the hosts of the LORD went out from the land of Egypt.” Exodus 12:41
Satan’s Purpose (Exodus 1:8-14)
There arose a new king over Egypt, which knew not Joseph. Joseph is a type of Christ. The king that doesn’t know the Lord’s heart is Satan. The Children of Israel represent the children of God; those who will later be called by God to leave Egypt (a type of the world). Satan recognizes their identity, and fears defeat. Satan has set over all men taskmasters; evil thoughts, habits, and addictions. And they built for Pharaoh treasure cities; which speak of the enslavement of men to build and glorify Satan’s world. Satan and his world have made their lives bitter with hard bondage. In mortar (the social world), and in brick (the philosophical world), and in all manner of service in the field (the business world); they were forced to serve in these areas with rigor.
Bondage Increased (Exodus 5:1-19)
Straw speaks of those empty things that were once supplied to the enslaved people to make their lives bearable. As soon as they express desire for freedom, Satan takes even those things away; yet his expectation for service and devotion to the world remains at the same level. Examples of straw might be: family bonds, marriages, and fleshly pleasures that keep people going from day to day. The officers are beaten when they cannot deliver the required level of production. Satan is a cruel master: first enticing us with the melons, leek, onions, and garlic, and then enslaving us with addictions… and for all this, he will beat us if we don’t meet his requirements.
Our Lost Condition
“And you, who were dead in trespasses and sins; Wherein in time past ye walked according to the course of this world [Egypt], according to the prince of the power of the air [Pharaoh, Satan], the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience: Among whom also we all had our conversation in times past in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind; and were by nature the children of wrath, even as others.” Eph. 2:1-3
“But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us…Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned:” Rom. 5:8,12
The children of Israel at first didn’t even want to be free. To them, Moses’ interference in their affairs was unwelcome. They were by nature the children of wrath, even as the Egyptians. There they were ignorant, helpless slaves when God delivered them from their awful circumstances. We were sinners, haters of God, unlovable, unholy, and unable to change our state. This illustrates total depravity. Ephesians 2 presents man as “dead in sins”, Romans presents man “alive in sins”. The difference is that quickening has occurred to wake the soul up to see their awful condition.
Two signs (Exodus 4:1-9)
Before the plagues, God gave the people two signs of power. They speak of two aspects of our sinful condition and God’s intent to deliver us from those two conditions
- The rod turned to a serpent shows that we are under Satan’s power in this world.
- The hand in the bosom turned leprous shows that we are inwardly corrupt at the very core.
If people don’t accept those first two signs, then the only thing left is for God to reveal His wrath (Romans 1:18)… so next, the first plague is given; namely, water turned to blood. We need to be brought to a point like the officers; “the officers of the children of Israel did see that they were in evil case.”
The plagues, if we would listen to them, separate us from the world. They are divided in three groups of three. Each group begins with a “morning” (Exodus 7:14, 8:20, and 9:13). The first two in each set are preceded by warnings which are ignored by Pharaoh. The third plague in each set is without warning. The tenth plague is unique.
Before the plagues begin, in Exodus 7:10-14 we are taught a beautiful lesson with the rods. We know from the book of Numbers that Aaron’s rod speaks of the power of grace. Aaron’s rod swallowed the rods of Janes and Jambres, showing that God’s power in grace was greater than Satan’s. This is an encouraging principle to begin with: “Grace all the work shall crown, through everlasting days” (LF #47).
The three groups of plagues address plainly: what the world is, how we are to be separate from the world, and finally, future judgments that will fall on the world.
1st Group: The emptiness and corruption of the world.
- Water turns into blood – death is at the source of this world’s life. The life stream of this world becomes death. All that the world turns to for pleasure and refreshment is under judgment.
- Frogs come out of the water – uncleanness is all this world can produce. Evil spirits (Rev. 16:13) come out and manifest themselves with the religious aspects of the world.
- Dust turned to lice – the curse has fallen on man. Lice pictures personal contamination that tortures. It is the finger of God. Imitators cannot create life out of death, only the Spirit of God can do that. The folly of Janes and Jambres is manifest. The world’s inability to sustain divine life is revealed.
After the first three plagues: the river stinks, the land stinks, and the people stink. The source of the world’s life (the river), the physical world itself (the land), and the people in the world – all are corrupted by sin.
2nd Group: That which characterizes the world but is not found among God’s People
After the first three plagues, a distinction is made between Goshen, where Israel dwelt, and Egypt. “I will put a separation between my people and thy people” Exodus 8:22.
- Flies – the pollution of the world. Speaks of the pollution of the world in homes and families.
- Murrain – that which supports man is plagued. Speaks of the curse of financial gain (a blessing to God’s people).
- Boils – internal evil that is manifested on the surface. Evil that comes up and out, springing up from the root of sin within.
3rd Group: Future judgments that will fall on the this World
- Hail – natural judgments. Perhaps representing the Beginning of Sorrows.
- Locusts – military judgments. Perhaps representing the Great Tribulation, see Rev. 9:7.
- Darkness – spiritual judgments. Perhaps beginning with judicial blindness in the tribulation, ending in the Lake of fire, the blackness of darkness forever.
God’s people are spared from these three. However, in the final plague the people are to be judged along with the world, except they find refuge behind the blood-stained door. “There is no difference, for all have sinned.”
The Passover (Exodus 12:1-13)
(vv.1-2) It was to be the beginning of months. The Passover is the first step in the experience of a believer. It marks the beginning of “the rest of the time in the flesh” until we leave this earth. Everything in our Christian lives traces back to this cardinal truth; the shed blood of Christ. After being quickened, the soul becomes increasingly aware of their need for shelter from the judgment of God.
(vv.3-4) Christ is the Lamb of God’s providing. In Genesis 22 it was “God will provide [for] himself a lamb.” But here God shares His lamb with us; and so it is “they shall take to them every man a lamb”. It has to be individual. But also it says “a lamb for an house” so we see that God delights to save households. The lamb could never be too little for a house, and it could often be too much. Such is the sufficiency of Christ to meet the needs of our souls.
(v.5) The lamb was to be “without blemish” which speaks of the sinless perfection of Christ. “He did no sin”, “He knew no sin”, and “there was no sin in Him”. God required a perfect sacrifice. No sinful man could do, Christ was the only qualifying sacrifice. It was to be a male of the first year, which speaks of the youth and vigor of the sacrifice. No old and careworn animal would satisfy. Christ was offered at the age of thirty-three and one half years.
(v.6) The Lord’s entire public ministry (3 ½ years) was an opportunity to examine the Lamb to see if any blemish could be found in Him. The whole assembly was to kill it at the same time. This reminds us of Hebrews 10:10 “the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.” In another sense, the lamb was selected long before the 10th day. Peter says “Who verily was foreordained before the foundation of the world, but was manifest in these last times for you.”
(v.7) The blood had to be applied. This speaks of the simple faith that saves. It was not complicated, but it did require faith. The blood is what has value before God. There is only one currency in heaven; “the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot.” It was applied with “a bunch of hyssop” (v.22). Hyssop denotes humility or lowliness. We see this perfectly in the Lord Jesus as He went to the cross. Furthermore, we need to humble ourselves to apply the blood. This is the “obedience of faith” (Rom. 1:5; 16:26).
(vv.8-10) They were to eat the lamb roast with fire. The roasting speaks of the judgment of God against sin which fell upon the Lord Jesus Christ in the three hours of darkness. We are to eat the Passover to appropriate Christ to ourselves as the one whose death has brought us life. The unleavened bread was the holy separate walk of the Lord on earth. Also, the Passover began the seven-day Feast of Unleavened Bread. This feast speaks of the holy, separate walk of the believer. It was not to be “raw” or “underdone.” The fire (God’s wrath) must do its work thoroughly for our redemption. The lamb exposed to the full action of the fire represents the Lord “made sin for us”. “Not sodden at all with water,” should be, “not done in water,” or boiled. Boiling was unacceptable because water would hinder the direct action of the fire, spoiling the type.
- The head: Christ’s thoughts
- The legs: Christ’s walk (read the four Gospels)
- The inwards: Christ’s affections and motives (read the Poetic books)
Note the order: they were to (1) kill the lamb, (2) shed its blood, then (3) roast it. This order would save it from the sufferings of the fire. But our Heavenly Lamb was roasted, slain, then His blood shed. The roasting came first with our Lord, rather than last. The reason is that in order for the blood of Christ had to have full efficacy, it had to follow after the atoning sufferings (roasting). Thus his blood was shed by a Roman spear, carrying with it the full power of the atoning sufferings.
(Jump to v.46) “Neither shall ye break a bone thereof…” Not a bone was to be broken; see John 19:33-36. To break a bone of the lamb would introduce the thought of “crushing” or forcibly ending life. It is imperative that Christ laid down His own life in obedience to His Fathers will (John 10:18) – no man took it from Him.
(v.11) They were to eat it quickly – “in haste” – ready to go at a moment’s notice. They needed to put on their pilgrim character… the cross has made us strangers in a strange land. On the other hand, the fact that they were eating it in haste showed that these ones were not truly enjoying peace. The power of Satan (Pharaoh) had not been broken in their experience. They still had much running to do before they could sing the Song of Deliverance.
(vv.12-13) The destroying angel would pass over the whole land in much the same way that the judgment of God will come upon the whole world. The blood alone is sufficient to shelter the chosen people.
Memorial: Passover Feast (Exodus 12:24-51)
The memorial of this aspect of the death of Christ is the Feast of the Passover, which has its corresponding place in the remembrance of the Lord in the Breaking of Bread. For “as often as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye do shew forth the Lord’s death til he come.” The Passover was only offered once – in Egypt – and will never be repeated. Every succeeding year a lamb was to be killed, but only in memory of the original sacrifice. Briefly, the two sacraments are (1 Corinthians 10:16):
- The blood of the Passover Lamb. “The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not the communion of the blood of Christ?” The cup is the common portion of all those who have been sheltered by the atoning blood of Christ.
- The Lamb itself, roast with fire. “The bread which we break, is it not the communion of the body of Christ?” The bread is the common portion of all those who have come into the good of the sacrifice of the body of Christ.
Typical Significance of the Passover
“For even Christ our Passover is sacrificed for us.” 1 Corinthians 5:7
“Through faith he kept the Passover, and the sprinkling of blood, lest he that destroyed the firstborn should touch them.” Heb. 11:28
As we have just seen, the Passover speaks of the death of Christ in the aspect of screening us from the judgment of God which hung over us because of our sins. Every quickened soul is “safe” behind the blood-sprinkled doors, although not necessarily “saved” – that comes later. We are justified by blood, but not yet justified by power.
Israel’s safety rested upon God’s estimate of the blood, not their own. What they thought of the blood was irrelevant, except for the faith to apply it as God prescribed. It is the same with us. Jehovah wanted to shelter His people, and to let them know that they were sheltered. To shelter his people He required the shed blood, to let them know they were sheltered He told them in His Word. He places the matter completely on a divine basis. He takes it entirely out of their hands.
It was simply a question of (1) the value of the blood in God’s sight, and (2) of the truth and authority of His own Word. The blood is on the mercy-seat as the perfect proof that judgment has been executed – there is no judgment now for me.
The Cloud: The Personal Presence of the Lord
“The LORD went before them by day in a pillar of a cloud, to lead them the way; and by night in a pillar of fire, to give them light; to go by day and night.” Exodus 13:21
The Lord now gives the people the sign of His presence, in the pillar of cloud and of fire. He makes it manifest that they belong to Him. Later, in the wilderness, the cloud would hover over the tabernacle, Jehovah’s dwelling place on earth. Even later in the land, when Solomon built the temple he could say, “I have surely built thee an house to dwell in, a settled place for thee to abide in for ever… And it came to pass, when the priests were come out of the holy place, that the cloud filled the house of the LORD” (1 Kings 8:13, 10). In any case it represents the presence of the Lord among his people. The moment we appropriate the Passover we enjoy the personal presence of the Lord Jesus with us where ever we go, as we pass from Egypt to Canaan.
God who gave the blood to screen us,
God looks down in perfect love;
Clouds may seem to pass between us,
There’s no change in Him above.
In the refuge God provided,
Tho’ the world’s destruction lowers,
We are safe — to Christ confided,
Everlasting life is ours.
And ere long, when come to glory,
We shall sing a well-known strain,
This is the never-tiring story,
“Worthy is the Lamb once slain!”