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The Passover, pt. 2

by Arthur W. Pink (1886-1952)

 

1And the Lord spake unto Moses and Aaron in the land of Egypt, saying, 2“This month [shall be] unto you the beginning of months: it [shall be] the first month of the year to you. 3Speak ye unto all the congregation of Israel, saying, ‘In the tenth [day] of this month they shall take to them every man a lamb, according to the house of [their] fathers, a lamb for an house: 4And if the household be too little for the lamb, let him and his neighbour next unto his house take [it] according to the number of the souls; every man according to his eating shall make your count for the lamb. 5Your lamb shall be without blemish, a male of the first year: ye shall take [it] out from the sheep, or from the goats: 6And ye shall keep it up until the fourteenth day of the same month: and the whole assembly of the congregation of Israel shall kill it in the evening. 7And they shall take of the blood, and strike [it] on the two side posts and on the upper door post of the houses, wherein they shall eat it. 8And they shall eat the flesh in that night, roast with fire, and unleavened bread; [and] with bitter [herbs] they shall eat it. 9Eat not of it raw, nor sodden at all with water, but roast [with] fire; his head with his legs, and with the purtenance thereof. 10And ye shall let nothing of it remain until the morning; and that which remaineth of it until the morning ye shall burn with fire. 11And thus shall ye eat it; [with] your loins girded, your shoes on your feet, and your staff in your hand; and ye shall eat it in haste: it [is] the Lord's passover.

12“‘For I will pass through the land of Egypt this night, and will smite all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, both man and beast; and against all the gods of Egypt I will execute judgment: I [am] the Lord. 13And the blood shall be to you for a token upon the houses where ye [are]: and when I see the blood, I will pass over you, and the plague shall not be upon you to destroy [you], when I smite the land of Egypt.’”

 

 “For I will pass through the land of Egypt this night and will smite all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, both man and beast; and against all the gods of Egypt I will execute judgment; I am the Lord. And the blood shall be to you for a token upon the houses where ye are; and when I see the blood I will pass over you, and the plague shall not be upon you to destroy you, when I smite the land of Egypt” (Exodus 12:12-13).  When the executioner of God’s judgment saw the blood upon the houses of the Israelites, he entered not, and why? Because death had already done its work there! The innocent had died in the place of the guilty. And thus justice was satisfied. To punish twice for the same crime would be unjust. To exact payment twice for the same debt is unlawful: Even so those within the blood-sprinkled house were secure. Blessed, blessed truth is this. It is not merely God’s mercy but His righteousness which is now on the side of His people. Justice itself demands the acquittal of every believer in Christ. Herein lies the glory of the Gospel. Said the apostle Paul, “I am not ashamed of the Gospel of Christ; for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek” (Romans 1:16). And why was he not “ashamed” of the Gospel? Hear his next words, “For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith”.

“And when I see the blood I will pass over you”. God’s eye was not upon the house, but on the blood. It might have been a lofty house, a strong house, a beautiful house; this made no difference; if there was no blood there, judgment entered and did its deadly work. Its height, its strength, its magnificence availed nothing, if the blood was lacking. On the other hand, the house might be a miserable hovel, falling to pieces with age and decay; but no matter; if blood was upon its door, those within were perfectly safe. Nor was God’s eye upon those within the house. They might be lineal descendants of Abraham, they might have been circumcised on the eighth day, and in their outward life they might be walking blamelessly so far as the Law was concerned. But it was neither their genealogy, nor their ceremonial observances, nor their works, which secured deliverance from God’s judgments. It was their personal application of the shed blood, and of that alone.

“And the blood shall be to you for a token upon the houses where ye are; and when I see the blood, I will pass over you” (v. 13). To the mind of the natural man this was consummate folly. What difference will it make, proud reason might ask, if blood be smeared upon the door? Ah!  “The natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him” (1 Corinthians 2:14). Supremely true is this in connection with God’s way of salvation — “For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God... But we preach Christ crucified, unto the Jews a stumbling-block, and unto the Greeks foolishness” (1 Corinthians 1:18, 23).

It is faith, not reasoning, which God requires; and it was faith which rendered the Passover-sacrifice effective; “Through faith he kept the passover, and the sprinkling of blood lest he that destroyed the first-born should touch them” (Hebrews 11:28). “To realize what this faith must have been, we have to go back to ‘that night’, and note the special circumstances, which can alone explain the meaning of the words ‘by faith’. God’s judgments had been poured out on Egypt and its king, and its people. A crisis had arrived; for, after nine plagues had been sent, Pharaoh and the Egyptians still remained obdurate. Indeed, Moses had been threatened with death if he ever came again into Pharaoh’s presence (Exodus 10:28,29). On the other hand, the Hebrews were in more evil case than ever and Moses, who was to have delivered them, had not made good his promises.

“It was at such a moment that Moses heard from God what he was to do. To sense and sight it must have seemed most inadequate, and quite unlikely to accomplish the desired result. Why should this last plague be expected to accomplish what the nine had failed to do with all their accumulating terrors? Why should the mere sprinkling of the blood have such a marvelous effect? And if they were indeed to leave Egypt ‘that same night’ why should the people be burdened with all those minute ceremonial observances at the moment when they ought to be making preparation for their departure? Nothing but ‘faith’ could be of any avail here. Everything was opposed to human understanding and human reasoning.

“With all the consciousness of ill-success upon him, nothing but unfeigned faith in the living God and what he had heard from Him, could have enabled Moses to go to the people and rehearse all the intricacies of the Paschal observances, and tell them to exercise the greatest care in the selection of a lamb on the tenth day of the month, to be slain on the fourteenth day, and eaten with (to them) an unmeaning ceremony. It called for no ordinary confidence in what Moses had heard from God to enable him to go to his brethren who, in their deep distress, must have been ill-disposed to listen; for, hitherto, his efforts had only increased the hatred of their oppressors, and their own miseries as bondmen. It would to human sight be a difficult if not impossible task to persuade the people, and convince them of the absolute necessity of complying with all the minute details of the observance of the Passover ordinance.

“But this is just where faith came in. This was just the field on which it could obtain its greatest victory. Hence we read that, ‘through faith he kept the passover, and the sprinkling of blood’ (Hebrews 11:28), and thus every difficulty was overcome, and the Exodus accomplished. All was based on ‘the hearing of faith’. The words of Jehovah produced the faith, and were at once the cause and effect of all the blessing” (Dr. Bullinger).

 “And the blood shall be to you for a token upon the houses where ye are: and when I see the blood, I will pass over you, and the plague shall not be upon you to destroy, when I smite the land of Egypt” (v. 13).  In connection with this, it is deeply important that we should distinguish between two things: the foundation of security and the proof basis of peace. That which provided a safe refuge from judgment was the death of the lamb and sprinkling of the blood. That which offered a stay to the heart was the promise of Him who cannot lie. So many err on this second point. They want to make their experience, their feelings, something within themselves, the basis of their assurance. This is a favorite device of Satan, to turn the eye downwards upon ourselves. The Holy Spirit ever directs the eye away from ourselves to God and His Word.

Let us suppose a case. Here are two households on that Passover night. At the head of the one is an unbelieving father who has refused to heed the Divine warning and avail himself of the Divine provision. Early that evening his firstborn says, “Father I am very uneasy. Moses has declared that at midnight an Angel is to visit this land and slay all the firstborn, except in those houses which are protected by the blood of a lamb”. To still the fears of his son, the father lies, and assures him that there is no cause for alarm seeing that he has killed the lamb and applied its blood to the door. Hearing this, the son is at rest, all fear is gone, and in its place he is filled with peace. But it is a false peace!

In the second home the situation is reversed. At the head of this house is a God-fearing man. He has heard Jehovah’s warning message through Moses, and hearing, has believed and acted accordingly; the lamb has been slain, its blood placed upon the lintel and posts of the door. That evening the firstborn says, “Father, I feel very uneasy. An Angel is to smite all the firstborn to-night and how shall I escape?” His father answers, “Son, your alarm is groundless; yea, it is dishonoring to God. The Lord has said, ‘when I see the blood, I will pass over you’”. “But”, continues the son, “while I know that you have killed the lamb and applied its blood, I cannot be but terrified. Even now I hear the cries of terror and anguish going up from the houses of the Egyptians. O that morning would come! I shall not feel safe until then”. But his fears were groundless.

Now observe. In the first case supposed above we have a man full of happy feelings, yet he perished. In the second case, we have one full of fears yet was he preserved. Examine the ground of each. The oldest son in the first house was happy because he made the word of man the ground of his peace. The oldest son in the second house was miserable because he failed to rest on the sure Word of God. Here, then, are two distinct things. Security is found by the applied blood of the Lamb. Assurance and peace are to be found by resting on the Word of God. The ground of both is outside of ourselves. Feelings have nothing to do with either. Deliverance from judgment is by the Finished Work of Christ, and by that alone. Nothing else will avail. Religious experiences, ordinances, self-sacrifice, Church membership, works of mercy, cultivation of character, avail nothing. The first thing for me, as a poor lost sinner, to make sure of is, Am I relying upon what Christ did for sinners? Am I personally trusting in His shed blood? If I am not, if instead. under the eloquence and moving appeals of some evangelist, I have decided to turn over a new leaf, and endeavor to live a better life, and I have “gone forward” and taken the preacher’s hand, and if he has told me that I am now saved and ready to “join the church,” and doing so I feel happy and contented — my peace is a false one, and I shall end in the Lake of Fire, unless God in His grace disillusions me.

On the other hand, if the Holy Spirit has shown me my lost condition, my deep need of the Savior, and if I have cast myself upon Christ as a drowning man clutches at a floating spar; if I have really believed on the Lord Jesus Christ (see Acts 16:31), and received Him as my own personal Savior (see John 1:12), and yet, nevertheless, I am still lacking in assurance of my acceptance by God, and have no settled peace of heart; it is because I am failing to rest in simple faith on the written Word. GOD SAYS, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and thou shalt be saved”. That is enough. That is the Word of Him who cannot lie. Nothing more is needed. “Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth My Word, and believeth on Him that sent Me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life” (John 5:24). Never mind about your feelings; do not stop to examine your repentance to see if it be deep enough. It is CHRIST that saves; not your tears, or prayers, or resolutions. If you have received Christ, then you are saved. Saved now, saved forever. — “For by one offering He hath perfected forever them that are set apart” (Hebrews 10:14). How may you know that you are saved? In the same way that the firstborn Israelite could know that he was secure from the avenging Angel — by the Word of God. “When I see the blood I will pass over you”. God is saying the same today. If you are under the blood, then you are eternally secure. Neither the Law, nor the Devil, can harm you. “It is God that justifieth, who is he that condemneth?” (Romans 8:33,34). Receive Christ for salvation. Rest on God’s Word for assurance and peace!

Nor are we to be occupied with our faith, any more than with our feelings. It is not the act of faith which (instrumentally) saves us, but the TRUTH itself, which faith lays hold of. If no blood had been placed on the door, no believing it was there would have delivered from the avenger. On the other hand, if the blood had been placed on the door, and those within doubted its efficacy, peace would have been destroyed but not their security. It is faith in God’s promise which brings assurance. For salvation, faith is simply the hand that receives the gift. For assurance, faith is “setting to our seal that God is true” (John 3:33). And this is simply receiving “His testimony”.

In this paper we have only sought to develop that which is central and vital in connection with our salvation and peace. In our next we shall, God willing, take up some of the many interesting details of Exodus 12. May the Lord be pleased to use what we have written to establish His own.

 

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