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“CHRIST OUR PASSOVER WAS SACRIFICED FOR US”
—EXOD. 12:1-17.—DEC. 15.—
PHARAOH’S heart seemed to grow harder and harder under divine mercies, as one plague after another was stayed at his request, through Moses. The goodness of God, instead of leading him to repentance, would seem to have made him only the more determined, as God had foreseen and foretold. God, however, informed Moses that the tenth and final plague would be sufficient to break down the opposition of this hard man, and compel his acquiescence with the requirement that Israel should go free. Before the infliction of this plague Moses enquired whether or not Pharaoh were willing to let Israel go, and upon receiving the negative response he warned Pharaoh that in consequence a dire calamity would befall the Egyptians. Apparently he immediately departed for the land of Goshen, there to put the people in readiness for the exodus. Their Egyptian neighbors gave them liberally jewels of gold and of silver and various articles of value, evidently anxious to have them go, and regretful that their ruler was so stubborn. They realized also, no doubt, that in some sense God was with the Israelites, and against the Egyptians, a matter which it seemed difficult for Pharaoh, their king, to discern.
How much time they may have consumed in preparation for the journey we know not, but we may well suppose that this was a time of suspense upon Pharaoh and all who knew of the last threat presented to him by Moses and Aaron. We are certain that the preparations required several days, if not weeks, because amongst other instructions each family was to select for itself a representative male lamb of the first year, unblemished, as the foundation for the religious ceremony, known as the Passover, ever since observed by that nation. The lamb was to be selected, accepted, separated from others, and cared for specially from the tenth day of that month, Abib (later known as Nisan), and on the fourteenth day of the month it was to be killed between evenings (between six o’clock the one evening and six o’clock the next evening—the usual Jewish day). Its flesh was to be roasted for eating the following evening, and its blood was to be preserved for sprinkling upon the lintels
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and door-posts,—the door frame, above and at either side. It was in the night following the fourteenth day that the roast lamb was to be eaten, with bitter herbs, the eaters being gathered in family groups, and all in expectation for the journey, sandals on their feet, and staff in hand, etc., ready to depart out of Egypt early in the morning of the fifteenth.
The story, as recorded in Exodus, is an interesting one, and has ever been one precious to the Hebrews, the law concerning it serving as one of the most prominent landmarks in the history of that nation. But to the Christian the meaning of this incident is of still greater importance. To him, as the anti-typical Israelite, the whole transaction speaks of the anti-typical deliverance at the hands of the anti-typical Moses at the close of the anti-typical night, and at the opening of the anti-typical Passover day. Our Golden Text, “Christ, our Passover, is slain for us” (1 Cor. 5:7), identifies the Lord Jesus as the anti-typical Lamb, and identifies the sacrifices which he gave with the deliverance which we are now hoping for, as near, even at the door. This fact is recognized by Christians of all denominations, and our Lord’s Supper is recognized as the commemoration of the anti-type of the Passover supper, especially by the Catholic Churches and the older denominations of Protestants. As the Hebrews celebrate the Passover annually, so these churches celebrate annually “Good Friday,” by an emblematic supper known as the Eucharist or Lord’s Supper, commemorative of the death of “the Lamb of God” and the divine mercy consequently extended to “the Church of the first born.”
Let us go backward, and look at some of the minutia, and the meaning of these to us, the spiritual anti-typical Israelites. The taking up of the lamb on the tenth day of the month found its correspondency at the first advent of our Lord Jesus, when he presented himself to Israel at the close of his ministry, as their King, riding upon the ass, exactly on the 10th of Nisan. It was then that that nation should have accepted him, should have received him; but instead “they hid, as it were, their faces from him,” and saw not in him the beauty for which they were seeking, as a nation. It was on the fourteenth day of Nisan that our Lord partook of the Passover with his disciples, early in the evening. Later on in the same night he was betrayed. The next morning of the same day he was condemned and crucified. Later in the same day he was buried. All this was on the fourteenth day between evenings, between six p.m., where the day began, and the next six p.m., where it ended, and it was on the next day, the 15th, in the evening, that the Passover feast of the Jews was celebrated. We celebrate that feast anti-typically, continuously feasting and rejoicing in the grace of God toward us. But the Lord’s Supper belongs to the 14th of Nisan and commemorates the killing of the Lamb of God. That night in which the Passover feast was eaten represents this Gospel age—a dark time, in which sin and evil still triumph, and darkness
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is abroad, and in which the Lord’s people feed upon the merit of Christ, our Passover Lamb, slain for us, and realize that his “flesh is meat indeed.”
Along with the Lamb the Jew partook of unleavened bread, pure, unadulterated, figuratively separate from sin; it symbolized the precious promises which come to us from the Heavenly Father through our Lord Jesus Christ. “This is the bread that came down from heaven, whereof if a man eat he shall never die.” (John 6:50.) And, as the Hebrews ate their bread and lamb, so the anti-typical spiritual Israelite partakes of Christ’s merits and graces freely, but with them receives also the bitterness of persecution, trials, difficulties, misrepresentation and suffering symbolized by the “bitter herbs.” As the Hebrews ate shod and ready for their journey in the morning, so the true Israelites of this Gospel age partake of these spiritual favors, feeling the while that we are still in Egypt, and longing for the promised land; and they indicate by the conduct of life that they are pilgrims and strangers in this country, the world, and that they are seeking the heavenly country. But the deliverance did not come in the night in which the Passover was eaten, but in the morning which followed it. And so the deliverance of the spiritual Israelite does not come during the night of sin and trouble in which the god of this world reigns. It comes in the Millennial morning, for which we wait and hope and pray, “Thy Kingdom come.” “God shall help her, early in the morning.”—Psa. 46:5.
It is the mistake of some to suppose that the Passover refers, either directly or indirectly, to the passing of the children of Israel across the Red Sea. Nothing of the kind. The name was given with reference to the passing over or sparing of the first-born of Israel during that night in which the lamb was being eaten, and during which the blood was on the door-post without. The death-messenger was abroad throughout the land of Egypt, and the first-born of all Egypt were smitten, and the first-born of Israel were saved only upon condition that the blood should be sprinkled upon the door-posts and lintels of the houses in which they were. Any Israelite who did not respect the divine command, and place the blood-marks upon the front of his door, as directed of the Lord through Moses, would suffer, just in the same manner and just as surely as the Egyptians—the blood was the mark of distinction between those who were the Lord’s people and those who were not his people.
What does this signify now, to the spiritual Israelites? We answer that the sprinkling of the blood symbolizes an acknowledgment of faith in the redemptive merit of our Lord Jesus’ sacrifice, as our Passover Lamb. Whoever recognizes the Lord’s word in respect to this matter realizes that without the shedding of blood there is no remission of sins, and he who thus realizes the importance of the death of our Savior is expected to confess it, as symbolized by the sprinkling of the blood upon the outside of the dwelling. And its being upon the door signifies that all who were within that door were trusting in the blood, were under its efficacious merit. It is remarkable that while this doctrine of the redemption through the blood of Christ has been held with more or less clearness for centuries, it is now, in the close of this age, being called in question by some who are still naming the name of Christ, and by some who profess to be advanced teachers, and higher critics. All such are, from the Lord’s standpoint, Egyptians, not Israelites. All whom he will recognize as his people, Israelites indeed, will be such as will recognize him, his Word, and the work which he has accomplished for them through the shedding of the precious blood of our Passover Lamb, Christ Jesus.
The doctrine of substitution is made most emphatic in this type. As the blood represents life while in the veins, so it represents death when shed; and so, as the sentence of death was against our race, it was needful that Christ should die for our sins. Hence also the Lord has made it incumbent throughout this age that each one whom he would recognize must be one who would trust in and confess the atonement, the redemption which is in Christ Jesus. The blood was to be for a token, for a witness, for a sign, as evidence of the faith of those who were in the house on which it was sprinkled. It was not God’s token, but man’s token. God would do the sparing, but every Israelite who would be spared must see to it that his part of the program was carried out.
Let it not be overlooked that not all of the Israelites were in danger of death, but only the first-born; for this is a striking and prominent feature of the type. It teaches that while the deliverance that is to be accomplished in the morning will be deliverance for all who love the Lord and love righteousness, the first-born as well as all the rest, yet a special trial or testing comes during the night—before the Millennial morning—and this special testing or trial will affect only the first-born ones. Who are these first-born ones? We answer, they typified “the Church of the First-born, whose names are written in heaven,” the “little flock,” begotten to a newness of nature, and to joint-heirship with our Lord Jesus in the coming Kingdom. Others will be delivered from the power of Satan and the oppression of sin, as represented in the deliverance of all Israel from Pharaoh and his power and bondage, but the only ones who will be in danger during this night, the only ones who will be passed over or spared, during this Gospel age, will be the little flock, the Church of the First-born. This is distinctly the language of the type, nor can it be otherwise accounted for. It will be remembered that after the Passover, in the new order of things, the first-born ones spared in this Passover became representatively the Levites, amongst whom, in turn, were the priests, a little flock; and even so the Apostle declares of the Church of the First-born, “Ye are a Royal Priesthood.”—1 Pet. 2:5,9.
As already remarked, this Passover lamb found its anti-type in Christ, our Passover Lamb, who was slain for us, and of whom we partake. Our Lord instituted for us, the spiritual Israel, a commemorative service to take the place of the type observed by fleshly Israel. It was instituted on the same night in which he was betrayed, the same night in which he ate the Passover supper, as a Jew, and after the eating of the Passover supper. He took bread and wine to represent himself, as the true, anti-typical Lamb of God, who taketh away the sin of the world, and he enjoined upon all who were truly his followers that
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they henceforth, instead of any longer, as the Jews, celebrating the typical Passover, should henceforth celebrate the anti-typical Passover. “As often as ye do this [celebrate the Passover] do it in remembrance of me [and not any longer in remembrance of the typical deliverance].” And from year to year this celebration has been handed down to the present time, and is still commemorated.
Some of God’s people, however, having become confused upon the subject, and having lost sight of the fact that it is a commemoration of the anti-type of the Jewish Passover, feel quite at liberty to set for its observance times and seasons of their own, without any authority from the Lord. They are excusable to a considerable extent, because, during the eighteen centuries since the institution of the ordinance the great Adversary introduced many doctrines and false practices amongst the followers of Jesus—amongst others, the doctrine of the Mass, which purports to be a repetition of Christ’s sacrifice, performed by the priests, re-creating Christ in the flesh, they claim, and sacrificing him afresh in the Mass, for the sins of those for whom it is performed. Protestants, coming out from Papacy, have rejected the doctrine of the Mass, but because the Mass had come to be frequently performed they imagined that the Lord’s Supper, as they celebrate it, is also without any limitation as to time and season. Moreover, even those old churches which still observe the Passover date for the Lord’s Supper have adopted a new method of reckoning it, contrary to the method in use by the Jews—one in which the memorial day always falls upon the Friday which is nearest to the true date, so that the Sunday following, Easter, will symbolize our Lord’s resurrection on the first day of the week.
The next proper anniversary of the celebration of the Passover, according to the Jewish reckoning of time, as used by our Lord and the apostles, and by some of the Lord’s people since and today, will be after sundown, April 20th, 1902.
— December 1, 1901 —