Exodus 12:1-30 Sermon – The Passover Points To Jesus
A Sunday School teacher asks his class, “what is brown and furry and collects nuts for the winter?” A student replies, “It sure sounds like a squirrel, but it must be Jesus!”
Sunday School students have learned that it is all about Jesus.
Spurgeon told the story of an old minister who heard a sermon by a young man, and when he was asked by the preacher what he thought of it he was rather slow to answer, but at last he said, “If I must tell you, I did not like it at all; there was no Christ in your sermon.” “No,” answered the young man, “because I did not see that Christ was in the text.” “Oh!” said the old minister, “but do you not know that from every little town and village and tiny hamlet in England there is a road leading to London? Whenever I get hold of a text, I say to myself, ‘There is a road from here to Jesus Christ, and I mean to keep on His track till I get to Him.’”
In some Bible passages, that road is not so obvious. But in our text today, the road to Jesus is clear. And we will see that God designed the Passover to point to Jesus.
I. The Passover Prescribed (1-13)
A. Born as a nation > Born again
Verse 2 – This month shall be for you the beginning of months. It shall be the first month of the year for you.
This verse shows us how important this event is for Israel. It marks their turning point. Before this day, they were a tribe of sojourners. Then they were immigrants. Then they were slaves. Now they are going to be a nation. They are going to get their own calendar. It will mark their independence. It will mark their birth as a nation. Like our calendar is marked in two parts, B.C. and the Year of Our Lord, their history was marked in two parts. Before the Passover. And after the Passover. Their faith in God’s promise and obedience to His command would result in their deliverance and freedom.
And just as the Passover marked their birth as a nation so when we accept Christ we are born again. Our lives can also be divided into two parts. The first part is marked by slavery to sin, bondage to this world. Then Christ delivers us. He sets us free. He gives us a future. He makes us be born again. And everything changes, the old has passed away and the new has come. Our spiritual journey with God begins. Our born again day is our spiritual birthday, day one of a new calendar.
Application: If you have been born again already, think back and thank God for that day and the changes He has made in your life. If you haven’t yet been born again, then pay attention to the rest of the message so that you can learn how.
B. The characteristics of the lamb
- Without blemish – Exodus 12:5, 1 Peter 1:19
- Male – (Exodus 12:5)
- Every person/household had to have their own lamb – Every person ate of it. In like manner, each person must repent of their own sins and trust Jesus personally.
- No bones can be broken (Exodus 12:46 , John 19:31-36)
- No leftovers. All signs of the lamb should be gone by morning. And Jesus was taken down from the cross before nightfall, which was unusual because the next day was the Sabbath.
- They were to eat it in haste. If they delayed a day it would too late. In similar manner, salvation is urgent. You must make haste to believe while there is still opportunity.
- Blood. The blood of the lamb was to be displayed publicly on the doorposts of the houses as a reminder of the faith and obedience of those within.
- The blood showed that they had made the sacrifice and were under God’s protection. In similar manner, Jesus bled on the cross in public for all to see. His blood cleanses those who trust in Him.
- Jesus died during the festival of the Passover like the Passover lamb.
On the night before Jesus died, Jesus was celebrating the Passover with His disciples. They were partaking of the Passover meal. They were remembering this amazing event in history. But when Jesus was eating it, He did something remarkable. He changed the festival.
Luke 22:19 – And he took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body given for you; do this in remembrance of me.”
Matthew 26:28 – For this is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.
As Jesus was eating the unleavened bread, He told them that it now represented His body. And the drink represented His blood. Before they remembered the Exodus. Now they were to remember Jesus. The original Passover pointed to and prepared the way for Jesus. He is the once for all time Passover lamb. He is the unifying element which connects the Old Testament and the New. In a way, every time we partake of the Lord’s Supper, we are celebrating the Passover. Not the Passover in Egypt, but the big one. When because of Jesus’ sacrifice God passed over us in judgment and instead judged Him.
C. The connection to the lamb
Did you notice as we read through this chapter how long after they selected the lamb they were to keep it before killing it?
Verse 3 – 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.
Verse 6 – 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.
In many readings of this passage, I had never noticed this before.
First they select the lamb and get it from the flock. Then they keep it for four days. Some translations actually say to “take care of it” for that amount of time. Why is that? What would this accomplish?
I think the answer is simple. By requiring the families to care for the lamb separately from the flock for four days would help them to realize that the sacrifice was personal. It was not just a nameless, faceless lamb from among many. It was a lamb that had been with them. It would live with them in their house for four days. They would feed it and care for it. Perhaps they would grow to be fond of the lamb. They would see its personality. And they would know it was innocent of what was going to happen. All of this was designed by God to make them know that the sacrifice was personal. This innocent lamb was taking the punishment for their sins.
It would drive the emotion home. During those four days they would be reminded each time the lamb bleated that it was going to die for them. It was going to face death so that they would be spared.
That lamb’s sacrifice was directly connected to their own deliverance. It wasn’t just some lamb somewhere who died for some person somewhere. That specific lamb died for them. And see how it died? It died by their own hand.
God designed this entire ritual to point to Christ.
Just as those lambs were a personal sacrifice for individuals, so Jesus is a personal sacrifice for each of us. Jesus did not die for a bunch of nameless, faceless people. He did not just die for the world in general. He died for you personally as a direct substitute. (Mention specific names). And He died for me, Jason Micah Dexter. It was not a generic sacrifice for generic sins. It was personal. I believe if you were the only sinner in the whole world, Jesus would have still been on that cross, for you.
And just as those people killed the lamb, so we are responsible for Jesus’ death. We were not there, but our sins put him there. People like us nailed him there. Like the Passover lamb, Jesus lived in and among them before they turned on Him and killed Him.
I would like you to take a moment to think. Think about some of the sins you are most ashamed of. Perhaps sin no one else even knows about. That is why Jesus had to die. Those sins put Him there.
But here is a difference between the Passover lamb. The Passover lamb could not choose his fate. Jesus did. He gave up His life to bring us out of slavery to sin. He gave up His life to bring us freedom. He knew what it was going to cost and He went willingly. He did it because He loves you. He did it because He wants to cleanse you.
In order to receive this salvation, you must have a personal connection to the lamb. He is not just a sacrifice for the world. He is your Passover lamb. He must be the sacrifice for you and for yours sins specifically. You must come to Him ask Him to save you, admitting that you cannot save yourself.
Do you have a personal connection to the Jesus, the lamb of God?
If not, there is only condemnation.
D. The condemnation of those without the lamb
Verse 12-13 – 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.
The people who believed in God and obeyed His commands would be conserved. The people who did not believe in God and did not obey His commands would be condemned. Their gods were proved powerless. Their hope in other means of salvation would be dashed. They would be judged.
This will be the same fate of all of those who do not come to Jesus, the Lamb of God, for forgiveness of sins.
II. The Passover Memorialized (13-20)
Exodus 12:14 – This day shall be for you a memorial day, and you shall keep it as a feast to the Lord; throughout your generations, as a statute forever, you shall keep it as a feast.
The Passover and the Exodus were the most important events in Israel’s history. It was their Independence Day. And more than that, through the events surrounding the Passover, God revealed Himself to His people. They saw firsthand God’s power, God’s authority, God’s sovereignty, God’s rule over nature, God’s defeat of His enemies, and His personal grace and care for His people.
But people have short term memories. It was so easy for them to forget what God had done on their behalf.
Therefore God instituted the Passover in order that they would remember these things. If they remembered and appreciated what God had done for them, they would be much less likely to stray away from Him. But when they forgot God, then they would go after the world and idols.
This event was important. God would remind them of it many times. The statement, “I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt” occurs at least ten times in Scripture (Exodus , Leviticus , Numbers , Deuteronomy , and Psalms )
And time and again throughout the Old Testament, God’s people look back on the Exodus to remind themselves of God’s faithfulness (Psalm 29, 78).
But at other times they forgot. For much of the period of the kings, they did not celebrate this festival. They forgot what God had done for them. Forgetting God’s miracles and providence were part of the reason they abandoned their faith, doubted God, and turned to idols. After all, we have seen that God completely destroyed the pagan gods of Egypt, the most powerful nation on earth at this time. What person in their right mind would trust in one of these or a similar failed idol instead of God.
Commanding them to remember the Exodus was one way to protect them from straying.
Deuteronomy 6:12 – Then take care lest you forget the Lord, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery.
Psalm 77:11 – I will remember the deeds of the Lord; yes, I will remember your wonders of old.
The concept of remembering is very important in the Bible. I found at least 22 commands from God to His people to not forget what He done for them and over 200 commands to remember Him and His works. God repeats commands many times. He repeats His covenants. He reminds His people of what He has done for them. The same lessons and principles are taught again and again. The reason is simple. We are forgetful. We have short-term memories. We forget the good things God has done for us. Other times our memories twist the facts.
Look at how the Israelites would remember their time in Egypt later on.
Numbers 11:5 – “We remember the fish we ate in Egypt at no cost–also the cucumbers, melons, leeks, onions and garlic.”
Wow, Egypt was so wonderful! They were just lounging around feasting to their heart’s content, and for free!
That had a serious case of selective memory.
We do the same thing. We forget God’s mercies, forget to say, “thank you” and forget the consequences of sin, the guilt and the shame, when we repeat the same sin again.
My daughter likes to climb. Often recklessly. Once she climbed on a piece of furniture and fell off and got hurt. So I comforted her. And hugged her. And let her go. And then what did she do? Go to climb again on the same piece of furniture.
Adults are often like this too.
Why do we forget? We forget because we don’t value something enough. We forget because we don’t make the proper effort to remember. Here God has the people take very specific steps to memorialize this event to ensure that they won’t forget what God has done. Every aspect of this festival serves a purpose to remind them of some aspect of the Exodus.
- Time of year
- Unleavened bread
- Bitter herbs
In the time of Joshua the people made a stone memorial to remember God parting the Jordan River.
What can you do to make sure you don’t forget God’s commands, answered prayer, and work in your lives?
Here are a few ideas:
- Keep a journal. Include special thanksgivings, blessings, or answers to prayer inside. Review it from time to time.
- Record special moments of God’s grace in your life with pictures and then make a memorial photo album.
- Thanksgiving tree.
- Write down and share your testimony with others. The more you talk about God’s work in your life, the more you will be aware of it, and the more you will remember it.
- A retreat – Verse 16, “No work shall be done on those days.” The first and last days of the festival were holy. The people were to rest from their labors and focus fully on God. We also need times to rest from our labors and focus on God. Plan a spiritual retreat.
- Holidays – The Passover was a special holiday designed to help the people remember God. Secular holidays and ways of celebrating often distract us from God. With the holidays coming up, consider how you can design your celebration and your family interactions to better remember God’s work. One example: have a Christmas Eve service at home, read the Bible stories about Jesus’ birth, and take communion together.
And of course taking communion is the best way to remember what Jesus has done for us, because that is what He designed this for.
Luke 22:19 – And he took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body, which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me.”
You do not have to only take communion at church or only on the first Sunday of the month. You can take it with your Bible study group, at a holiday get together, or with your family.
III. The Passover Observed (21-30)
A. The People Obeyed
In the first part of this chapter God was talking to Moses and Aaron, giving them Passover instructions. Starting in verse 21, Moses then takes those instructions and passes them on the to the elders.
Moses relays many commands from God to them, starting in verse 21, “Then Moses called all the elders of Israel and said to them, “Go and select lambs for yourselves according to your clans, and kill the Passover lamb.”
Verse 28 – Then the people of Israel went and did so; as the Lord had commanded Moses and Aaron, so they did.
This is important. The people obeyed God’s commands. They obeyed His commands to the letter. Why did they do this? It was because of faith. They believed in God. They believed in His power. They believed He was going to do what He said. Their faith resulted in obedience.
This step of obedience was the most important thing they ever did in their lives. Disobedience would result in death for their firstborn son.
God takes obedience seriously.
In the Garden of Eden, God tells Adam and Eve that if they disobey and eat the fruit, they will surely die. And they did.
B. The People Passed it on
The people were not only to obey by keeping the original Passover, they were to keep future Passovers. And they were to pass on what they had seen and learned about God to the next generation. One of reasons God asked them to continue celebrating the Passover, was to make sure that future generations would never forget what God had done.
Over and over again in the Bible we see how important it is to pass on the truth we have received from God to our children. Your children’s brains are like sponges, soaking in information from everywhere. If you don’t fill them, they will get filled elsewhere. Parents, pass the gospel on to your children. Teach them the truths in the Bible and teach them to love the Bible.
C. The People Worshiped
Verse 27 – The people bowed their heads and worshiped
No one argues. No one comes up with other plans. Instead they submit to God’s plan. They recognize who God is. They have come to know His power, His authority, and His goodness. Its a time of turmoil. There would be hasty preparations. But before they set off and do it, they worship, giving God the glory He deserves.
Worship should not be optional or if you have enough time. There is always time to worship.
D. The People Were Spared
Verses 29-30 – At midnight the Lord struck down all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, from the firstborn of Pharaoh who sat on his throne to the firstborn of the captive who was in the dungeon, and all the firstborn of the livestock. And Pharaoh rose up in the night, he and all his servants and all the Egyptians. And there was a great cry in Egypt, for there was not a house where someone was not dead.
God poured out one of the worst judgments in the history of the world. All of the previous plagues combined were minor compared to this. Those were temporary. Their effects could be reversed. But this was irreversible. There was no going back. Pharaoh and the Egyptians had been given not 1 or 2 or 3 chances, but 9 chances. Now there would be no more chances.
This judgment was final. Death was final. No one was immune. Rich and poor, strong or weak, it affected every family. The prisoners could not cling to the hope of irrelevance or obscurity to escape judgment. And the nobles could not cling to the hope of power, strength, or riches to save them. All their hopes, all their beliefs, all their illusions of safety were dashed in an instant.
On the other hand, for God’s people it was different. From the least to the greatest, no matter what they had done in the past, they were spared because they believed and obeyed.
The judgment on Egypt is much like the final judgment that every person will face. No one will escape this judgment. Rich or poor, powerful or weak, every person will face God. The judgment decision handed down on that day will be final. Someone may say, “God won’t give any second chances.” In a way, that’s correct. There won’t be any more chances. But God does give second chances, and third chances, and on and on. He gives each of us chances repeatedly throughout our lives. On that day, those chances will run out. Judgment will be final. The punishment will be irreversible. People’s hope and security will prove futile.
The only hope is Jesus Christ. He is the way, the truth, and the life. Those who believe in Him will be spared. Those who do not believe in Him will be condemned. It’s that simple.
You say, “Yes, I believe!” That is good. But that is the first step. So I am going to leave with 4 points based on the passage today and together they say “BROS,” because if you believe Jesus is your bro and because I couldn’t come up with a better acronym.
Believe – There will be a final judgment. It will be far worse than the ten plagues which God poured out on Egypt. There will be no more chances. The only way to avoid it is to believe in Jesus. Perhaps you are listening today, and you have never yet placed your faith in Jesus. I would invite you to pray right now and put your faith in Him. Or you can talk to your small group leader in a few minutes to know more about how to do that.
Remember – Most of us this morning have believed in Jesus already. Praise the Lord! But our lives get busy. Day after day is filled with the mundane: working, cleaning, preparing food, eating food. And its filled with the stressful. And we take our eyes off of Jesus. We forget or take for granted what He has done, both what we see He has done in the Bible and in our lives.
The lesson for us today is, “don’t forget.” Write down what God has done for you. Share your testimony. Make a memorial. Bring Christ in to your festivals and to your fellowships.
Obey – Much of modern day church life is very passive. We go to church. We sit. We listen. Sometimes we are absent minded and don’t pay much attention. Sometimes we are listening, but instead of trying to learn with a humble heart we are looking for points to disagree with or criticize.
Other times we are listening and we think “that was a good sermon.” And then we chat for a few minutes and go home. Do we really remember the sermon? And even more, do we follow what we learned? What tangible difference has it made on our lives?
God calls us to be “doers of the word and not hearers only.” That means that whenever you study the Bible (in church, in Bible study, or in personal devotions) you should always ask yourself the question, “what should I obey?”
Start with this sermon and then start making a new habit to ask yourself this question. And you will start to change little by little.
Share – So you believe, you remember, and you obey? Great! Jesus is your bro. But you want to have many bros, right? Share what you know. As they passed on what God had done for them to their children, so we should pass it on to others, our physical children and spiritual children. After asking yourself, “what should I obey?” you can ask yourself, “who can I tell?”
Make a habit of passing on what you learn from Scripture to others. Share about answered prayer. Share testimonies of God’s power at work in your life. And share the gospel.
The Passover is about believing, remembering, obeying, and sharing God.
So, what is innocent, blameless, and meek and died as a substitute so that God’s judgment would pass over a guilty party?
Go ahead and give the answer out loud to your neighbor. If you answered “the Passover lamb” you are right. But if you answered “Jesus” you are also right. Because the Passover points to Jesus. Let us pray.
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