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The Passover, pt. 4

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.”

 

[We continue here from last month’s study.

Mr. Pink is making various observations on the Passover episode.]

 

10. “And ye shall let nothing of it remain until the morning.” (v. 10). The lamb must be eaten the same night as it was slain. Communion must not be separated from the sacrifice on which that communion was founded. Communion is based upon redemption accomplished. We find the same truth brought before us again at the close of Christ’s parable of the prodigal son. As soon as the lost son enters the Father’s house and is suitably attired, the word goes forth “Bring hither the fatted calf, and kill; and let us eat and be merry” (Luke 15:23).

Another thought is also suggested here by the words “ye shall let nothing of it remain until the morning”. “The sacrifice in all its ceremonial was to be completed within a single night. The rising sun was thus to see no trace of the slain lamb. In like manner the atoning work of Christ is not a progressive but a completed thing. It is not in process of being accomplished; it has been accomplished definitely and eternally. As a fragrant and hallowed memory, Calvary’s costly sacrifice abides with God and the redeemed forever; but the sacrifice itself is past and completed. For God’s suffering Lamb, the dark night of judgment is no more, and He lives on high in the eternal sunshine of Divine favor and love” (Mr. W. W. Fereday).

11. “And 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” (v. 11). The little word “thus” is very emphatic. It defines for us the accessories, what should accompany feeding upon Christ; four things are mentioned. First, their dress; “loins girded”. “Having your loins girt about with truth” (see Eph. 6:14), says the apostle. “The garments are spiritually what we may designate by the old word for them — ‘habits’. They are the moral guise in which we appear before men — what they identify with us at least, if they are not, after all, ourselves. And if not just ‘ourselves’ we may be in many ways read in them; pride or lowliness, boldness or unobtrusiveness, sloth or diligence, and many another thing.

“The long robes of the East, as we are all aware, required the girdle in order that there might be no hindrance in the way of a march such as Israel now had before them. If they were allowed to flow loose, they would get entangled with the feet and overthrow the wearers; and the dust of the road would get upon them and defile them. The truth it is which is to be our girdle, keeping us from the loose and negligent contact with ever-ready defilement in a world which the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life characterizes, and from the entanglement to our feet which lax habits prove.

“Garments ungirded are thus practically near akin to the ‘weights’ (see Hebrews 12:2) which the apostle bids us ‘lay aside’, and which are not things in themselves sinful, and yet nevertheless betray us into sin. Have you noticed the connection in that exhortation of his ‘lay aside every weight and the sin which doth so easily beset us’? If you had a pack of wolves following you, you would understand very quickly why, if carrying a weight, you would be indeed ‘easily beset’. And herein, many a soul may discern, if he will, why he has so great and so little successful conflict. The ‘weight’ shows, like the flowing garment that whatever else we may be, we are not racers....Fit companions then with unleavened bread and bitter herbs are these girt loins. We must arise and depart for this is not our rest” (Mr. Grant).

“Your shoes on your feet”. This, again, was in view of the journey which lay before them. It tells of preparation for their walk. There is a most interesting reference to these “shoes” in Deuteronomy 29:5, where at the close of his life, Moses said, “I have led your forty years in the wilderness; your clothes are not waxen old upon you, and thy shoe is not waxen old upon thy foot”. And again he reminded them, “Neither did thy foot swell these forty years” (Deuteronomy 8:4). Remarkable was this. For forty years Israel had wandered up and down the wilderness, yet their shoes were neither torn to pieces nor did their feet suffer. How this tells of the sufficiency of that provision which God has graciously provided for the walk of His saints! When the prodigal son came to His Father, there was not only the best robe for his body, and the ring for his hand, but there were also “shoes for his feet” (Luke 15:22)! The significance of these “shoes” is explained for us in Ephesians 6:15 — “Your feet shod with the preparation of the Gospel of peace”.

 “Your staff in your hand”. The staff is the sign of pilgrimage. As they journeyed to the Promised Land, Israel were to pass through a wilderness in which they would be strangers and pilgrims. So it is with Christians as they pass through this world. Their home is not here: “Our citizenship is in heaven” (Philippians 3:20). Therefore does God say, “I beseech you as strangers and pilgrims” (1 Peter 2:11). Staff in hand signifies that as Israel journeyed they were to lean on something outside of themselves. Clearly this is the written Word, given us for a stay and support. The dependent soul who leans bard upon it can say with the Psalmist, “Thy rod and Thy staff they comfort me” (23:4).

“And ye shall eat it in haste”. “They were to eat it in haste because they expected that any moment the Lord might come and pass over them; any moment they might be called to arise and go out of the land of bondage. They expected the imminent Coming of the Lord. That is to say, because the Coming of the Lord was imminent they expected it”. (Dr. Haldeman).

12. “When I see the blood, I will pass over you” (v. 13). Upon this Mr. Urquhart has made some illuminating remarks. “The term rendered Passover ‘pesach’ does not seem to have that meaning. It is entirely different from the Hebrew verb, a-bhar, or ga-bhar, so frequently used in the sense of ‘to pass over’. Pasach (the verb) and pesach (the noun) have no connection with any other Hebrew word. They closely resemble, however, the Egyptian word pesh, which means ‘to spread the wings over,’ ‘to protect’. The word is used — we may say explained — in this sense in Isaiah 31:5: ‘As birds flying, so will the Lord of Hosts defend Jerusalem; defending also He will deliver it; and passing over’ (pasoach, participle of pasach) ‘He will preserve it’. The word has, consequently, the very meaning of the Egyptian term for ‘spreading the wings over’, and ‘protecting’; and pesach, the Lord’s Passover, means such sheltering and protection as is found under the outstretched wings of the Almighty. Does not this give a new fullness to those words of our Savior, ‘O Jerusalem! Jerusalem!.... how often would I have gathered thy children together, as a hen does gather her brood under her wings, and ye would not’ (Luke 13:34.)? Jesus of Nazareth was her pesach, her shelter from the coming judgment; and she knew it not! Quite in keeping with this sense of protecting with outstretched wings is the fact that this term pesach is applied (1) to the ceremony, ‘It is the Lord’s Passover’ (Exodus 12:11), and (2) to the lamb (v. 21); ‘draw out and take you a lamb according to your families and kill the Passover’. The slain lamb, the sheltering behind its blood and the eating of its flesh, constituted the pesach, the protection of God’s chosen people beneath the sheltering wings of the Almighty”. This interpretation is clearly established by what we read in verse 23: “For the Lord will pass through to smite the Egyptians; and when He seeth the blood upon the lintel and upon the two side posts, the Lord will pass over the door, and will not suffer the Destroyer to come in unto your houses to smite you”. It was not merely that the Lord passed by the houses of the Israelites, but that He stood on guard protecting each blood-sprinkled door!

13. “And this day shall be unto you for a memorial; and ye shall keep it a feast to the Lord throughout your generations; ye shall keep it a feast by an ordinance forever” (v. 14). It is interesting to trace Israel’s subsequent response to this command. Scripture records just seven times when this Feast was kept. The first in Egypt, here in Exodus 12. The second in the Wilderness (Numbers 9). The third when they entered Canaan (Joshua 5). The fourth in the days of Hezekiah (2 Chronicles 30). The fifth under Josiah (2 Chronicles 35). The sixth after the return from the Captivity (Ezra 6). Just six in the O. T. The seventh was celebrated by the Lord Jesus and His apostles immediately before the institution of the Lord’s Supper, (Luke 22:15, etc.). In that last Passover the true Lamb of God is seen, who had been prefigured by the preceding paschal lambs. “It should also be observed, that Jesus Christ, who celebrated the last Passover, had been Himself in Egypt, where the first had been observed. As the passover came from Egypt, so Jesus Christ, who is the true Passover was called out of Egypt (see Matthew 2:15)” (Robert Haldane: Evidence and Authority of Divine Revelation).

14. “And ye shall take a bunch of hyssop and dip it in the blood that is in the basin, and strike the lintel and the two side posts with the blood that is in the basin” (v. 22). This gives us a marvelous typical picture of the sufferings of our blessed Lord upon the Cross, though the picture is marred by translating here the original word, “basin”. Once more we avail ourselves of the scholarly help of Dr. Urquhart: “The word rendered ‘basin’ is sap, which is an old Egyptian word for the step before a door, or the threshold of a house. The word is translated ‘threshold’ in Judges 19:27 and ‘door’ in 2 Kings 12:9 — apparently for the sole reason that the sense ‘basin’, favored by lexicographers and translators could not possibly be given to the word in these passages… No direction was given about putting the blood upon the threshold, for the reason that the blood was already there. The lamb was evidently slain at the door of the house which was protected by its blood”. We may add that the Septuagint gives “para ten thuran”, which means along the door-way! While the Vulgate reads, “in sanguine qui est limine” — in the blood which is on the threshold. This point is not simply one of academic interest, but concerns the accuracy of the type. The door of the house wherein the Israelite was protected had blood on the lintel (the cross piece), on the side posts and on the step. (The objection that blood on the step would cause the Israelite to walk upon it, is obviated by Jehovah’s instructions. “And none of you shall go out at the door until the morning” (v. 22)!). How marvelously this pictured Christ on the Cross; blood above, where the thorns pierced His brow; blood at the sides, from His nail-pierced hands; blood below, from His nail-pierced feet!

15. The blood was to be applied with “a bunch of hyssop” (v. 22). Nothing in the Word is meaningless: the smallest detail has its due significance. Nor are we ever left to guess at anything; Scripture is ever its own interpreter. The “hyssop” was not connected with the “lamb”, but with the application of its blood. It speaks, then, not of Christ but of the sinner’s appropriation of His sacrifice. The “hyssop” is never found in connection with any of the offerings which foreshadowed the Lord Jesus Himself. It is beheld, uniformly, in the hands of the sinner. Thus in connection with the cleansing of the leper (Leviticus 14); and the restoration of the unclean (Numbers 19). From Psalm 51:7 we may learn that “hyssop” speaks of humiliation of soul, contrition, repentance. Note that in 1 Kings 4:33 “hyssop” is contrasted with “the cedars”, showing that “hyssop” speaks of lowliness.

Perhaps a word should be added concerning the Feast of Unleavened Bread which followed the Passover: “And ye shall observe the Feast of Unleavened Bread; for in this selfsame day have I brought your armies out of the land of Egypt; therefore shall ye observe this day in your generations by an ordinance forever. In the first month, on the fourteenth day of the month, at even, ye shall eat unleavened bread, until the one and twentieth day of the month at even. Seven days shall there be no leaven found in your houses; for whosoever eateth that which is leavened, even that soul shall be cut off from the congregation of Israel, whether he be a stranger or born in the land. Ye shall eat nothing leavened; in all your habitations shall ye eat unleavened bread” (vv. 17-20). The interpretation of this for us is supplied in 1 Corinthians 5:7, 8: “Purge out therefore the old leaven, that ye may be a new lump, as ye are unleavened. For even Christ our passover is sacrificed for us; therefore let us keep the feast not with old leaven, neither with the leaven of malice and wickedness; but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth”.

Upon the above we cannot do better than quote from Mr. C. H. MacIntosh: “The Feast spoken of in this passage is that which, in the life and conduct of the Church, corresponds with the Feast of unleavened bread. This lasted seven days [a complete circle of time—A.W.P.]; and the Church collectively, and the believer individually, are called to walk in practical holiness, during their days, or the entire period of their course here below; and this, moreover, as the direct result of being washed in the blood, and having communion with the sufferings of Christ.

“The Israelite did not put away leaven in order to be saved, but because he was saved; and if he failed to put away leaven it did not raise the question of security through the blood, but simply of fellowship with the assembly. The cutting off of an Israelite from the Congregation answers precisely to the suspension of Christian fellowship, and if he be indulging in that which is contrary to the holiness of the Divine presence. God cannot tolerate evil. A single unholy thought [entertained] will interrupt the soul’s communion; and until the soil contracted by any such thought is got rid of by confession, founded on the advocacy of Christ, the communion cannot possibly be restored (see 1 John 1:5-10)”.

May the Lord stir us up to a more diligent and prayerful study of His wonderful Word.

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