The Blood of the Lamb

Dr. Bill Barcley, Speaker

Exodus 12:1-13 | March 29 - Holy Week,

Holy Week,
March 29
The Blood of the Lamb | Exodus 12:1-13
Dr. Bill Barcley, Speaker

Let me invite you to turn with me in your Bibles to Exodus chapter 12. We’re going to be looking at the first 13 verses of Exodus 12 this afternoon for this first sermon. Many of you know the context of Exodus 12. In Exodus chapter 11 God threatens the tenth and final plague on the Egyptians because Pharaoh would not let God’s people go. So here we have in these opening verses of chapter 12 an intro, an introduction to the Passover and ultimately then to the Exodus itself later in this chapter.

So hear God’s Word from Exodus chapter 12 beginning in verse 1.

“The Lord said to Moses and Aaron in the land of Egypt, “This month shall be for you the beginning of months. It shall be the first month of the year for you. Tell all the congregation of Israel that on the tenth day of this month every man shall take a lamb according to their fathers’ houses, a lamb for a household. And if the household is too small for a lamb, then he and his nearest neighbor shall take according to the number of persons; according to what each can eat you shall make your count for the lamb. Your lamb shall be without blemish, a male a year old. You may take it from the sheep or from the goats, and you shall keep it until the fourteenth day of this month, when the whole assembly of the congregation of Israel shall kill their lambs at twilight.””

““Then they shall take some of the blood and put it on the two doorposts and the lintel of the houses in which they eat. They shall eat the flesh that night, roasted on the fire; with unleavened bread and bitter herbs they shall eat it. Do not eat any of it raw or boiled in water, but roasted, its head with its legs and its inner parts. And you shall let none of it remain until the morning; anything that remains until the morning you shall burn. In this manner you shall eat it: with your belt fastened, your sandals on your feet, and your staff in your hand. And you shall eat it in haste. It is the Lord’s Passover. For I will pass through the land of Egypt that night, and I will strike all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, both man and beast; and on all the gods of Egypt I will execute judgments: I am the Lord. The blood shall be a sign for you, on the houses where you are. And when I see the blood, I will pass over you, and no plague will befall you to destroy you, when I strike the land of Egypt.””

Thus far the reading of God’s Holy word. Let’s go in prayer to Him.

Our God, how we thank You that You are a God who rescues and who delivers Your people. We thank You especially for the Lord Jesus Christ, who is our ultimate Savior and Deliverer. We come in His name. Open Your Word to us tonight as we see the shadows of the Lord Jesus Christ in our passage in Exodus. We ask all this in Jesus’ name. Amen.

Here we see the first Passover. We see the Exodus coming in God’s people. That word “exodus” as many of you know, it’s actually taken from the Greek itself “exodus,” literally a way out, ex/out of, hodos, the Greek word for a way. Exodus literally means a way out. This is about God providing deliverance for His people.

The exodus, here the deliverance of Israel from Egypt, is the most significant redemptive event in the Old Testament. But it also serves as crucial as a pattern for other redemptive events, and one in particular. In Luke chapter 9 Luke tells the story of the transfiguration of the Lord Jesus where Moses and Elijah come to meet with Christ on that mountain and the text tells us that they were talking together about literally in the Greek Jesus’ exodus. Your bibles typically say “departure” but they’re talking together about Jesus’ exodus that He was going to accomplish in Jerusalem.

We see in Scripture really a fourfold pattern for salvation. That pattern is this – judgment, substitution, deliverance, and remembrance. We’re only going to look at the first three this afternoon.

First of all, this is sent in the context of God’s judgment. If you look back at chapter 11, verses 4 and 5, God tells Moses that every firstborn in the land of Egypt shall die, from the firstborn of Pharaoh who sits on his throne even to the firstborn of the slave girl who is behind the hand mill and all the firstborn of the cattle. God is coming to kill every firstborn in the land of Egypt from the highest to the lowest.

On the one hand we can understand why God would perhaps punish Pharaoh for his mistreatment of His people. He had earlier declared that all the male babies were to be killed back at the beginning of the book of Exodus. His heart was hard. He put a heavy workload on the Israelites that oppressed Israel.

By why the lowly slave girl? Why the lowly slave girl here? Well, the bottom line is that we all deserve judgment. Everyone deserves judgment. That means death. And especially crucial for this passage is that includes Israel. That includes Israel. Israel, the Israelites, had to take precautions to keep death away from them. They took precautions. Earlier in the book of Exodus God spared Israel from some of the plagues and the Israelites were spared without doing anything. But here God is saying to them, “You, too, deserve death and you need to take precautions to keep death away.”

Phil Ryken in his commentary on Exodus says this. In the final plague, God taught Israel about their sin and their salvation. Like Egypt, Israel deserved God’s judgment.

That’s what Scripture teaches us, many places. But the Apostle Paul says the wages of sin is death, and that includes everybody, all of us.

Secondly, we see substitution. We go from God’s judgment to substitution. God gave instructions to kill a lamb instead of the firstborn.

Look at verse 3 of chapter 12 – tell the congregation of Israel that on the tenth day of this month every man shall take a lamb according to their father’s houses, a lamb for a household.

Each household is to take a lamb. We see a couple things about the lamb itself, God’s instructions for the lamb itself. The first thing is the purity of the lamb. Look at verse 5. Your lamb shall be without blemish. In other words, the lamb can have no defect at all. And verse 6 tells them and you shall keep it until the fourteenth day of the month. He’s not saying there you shall make sure you keep that lamb in your possession; He is saying make sure that lamb remains pure until the fourteenth day. The lamb must be absolutely pure, without blemish.

That lamb was also, verse 5, says to be a year old, that is according to Jewish law, when things become clean, it’s clean according to the law.

Then look at verses 9 and 10. God says do not eat any of it raw or boiled in water but roasted, its head with its legs and its inner parts, and you shall let none of it remain until the morning, anything that remains until the morning you shall burn.

It is to be eaten or burned up. In other words, it is completely set aside for this purpose, this lamb. None is left over. It’s to be pure, holy, set apart, as pure as a creature can be.

Secondly we see here the importance of the blood of the lamb. Look at verse 7. They shall take some of the blood and put it on the two doorposts and the lintel of the houses in which they eat.

Then in verse 13 we read this – the blood shall be a sign for you on the houses where you are and when, God says, when I see the blood, I will pass over you and no plague will befall you to destroy you when I strike the land of Egypt.

The blood of the lamb was to be put as a sign. It was a sign that protected the Israelites, those inside the house because of the blood were marked off, those inside the house belong to Yahweh. In fact, later in this chapter, in chapter 22, God warns them not to go outside but to stay in the place of safety in their own homes. The blood of the lamb is for their protection.

But is also in Scripture, in the Old Testament in particular and in the New, it symbolized God’s covenants. O. Palmer Robertson describes a covenant as a bond in blood, sovereignly administered. A bond in blood, sovereignly administered.

As Jesus is going to say later, this is My blood of the new covenant.

We belong to God, this blood says. He is our God, we are His people. The imagery her actually goes back, and I won’t go into great detail here, to Genesis chapter 15 where God tells Abraham to get several animals, a heifer and a goat, and others, and He tells Abraham to cut the animals in half, he separates them, and then God passes between the parts of the animals. This is a blood covenant that God is making with His people.

God is basically saying when people in the ancient world used this ceremony to enter into covenants, which they did, this reflects the ancient world, when you pass between the animals it’s as if you’re saying, “If I don’t keep my part of the covenant, may what has happened to these animals happen to me.”

Here we see that. God passed between the pieces with Abraham. So He was entering into a covenant with them.

But this is also a reminder here of God’s mercy. God’s mercy to make this provision. They, the Israelites, deserve judgment just like the Israelites [sic]. We can actually go through a long list of their sins up to this point in the book of Exodus. I won’t do that. But God’s people deserved judgment just like Egypt and yet God made a way of escape, a way of salvation.

Of course, this points forward, doesn’t it? It points forward to Christ, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world. He was put to death as a substitute for His people as He instituted a new covenant.

One of my favorite verses in all of hymnody is verse 4 in your Trinity Hymnals by John Newton, let us love and sing and wonder. It goes like this – Let us wonder grace and justice join and point to mercy’s store, when through grace in Christ our trust is, justice smiles and asks no more.

He who washed us with His blood has secured our way to God.

Finally, we see deliverance. It’s symbolized here in the feast deliverance. We see in verse 8 the instructions to make bread but make it unleavened so that they could have a quick departure. They are to have bitter herbs with their feast as well – it reminds them of the bitterness of slavery. In fact, the same word “bitter” is found back in chapter 1, that life was made bitter for the Israelites.

Verse 11 says they are to eat it dressed, ready to leave in haste. Bad for digestion but good for deliverance.

This deliverance is from what? It’s deliverance first of all from slavery. They’ll be soon gone, soon free from their slavery in Egypt, but it’s also deliverance from judgment, from judgment, the judgment coming on Egypt.

This is exactly what God has done for us in the Lord Jesus Christ. We who are trusting in Christ were in slavery to sin but Christ has set us free. We deserved God’s judgment but God has delivered us from it.

Charles Spurgeon once said in a sermon, he said we do not subscribe to the lax theology which teaches that the Lord Jesus did something or other which in some way or other is in some degree or other connected with the salvation of men. We firmly believe the doctrine of the atoning death of our great substitute. We stand to the literal substitution of Jesus Christ in the place of His people and His real endurance of suffering and death in their stead and from this distinct and definite ground we will not move an inch. Even the term “the blood” from which some shrink with the affectation of great delicacy we shall not cease to use. Whoever may take offense at it for it brings out that fundamental truth which is the power of God unto salvation. We dwell beneath the blood mark and rejoice that Jesus for us poured out His soul unto death.

Or as Peter puts it, in 1 Peter chapter 1, you were redeemed with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect.

Let’s pray. Our God, how we thank You that You are that precious Lamb who does not simply deliver Your people from physical slavery, but You, O God, deliver us from our slavery to sin and the death that it brings. We thank You for Your death on our behalf. We pray this in Your name. Amen.