"CHRIST OUR PASSOVER"
1 Corinthians 5:7
By Ian Potts
In the third chapter of John we read of two vital truths which relate to the salvation of the sinner through the Lord Jesus Christ.
Firstly, in verse 3, "Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God."
And secondly in verses 14-15 we read "And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up: That whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life."
Two vital truths - the new birth by the Holy Spirit and the atoning death of Christ - without which no man could be saved. The first a consequence of the second, and both entirely the work of God, for "Salvation is of the Lord".
These truths, set forth in the Gospel of Christ as recorded by John, were the fulfilment, thousands of years later, of what was promised to Israel of old in a figure by the types and shadows of the Passover.
The nation of Israel were a people in sore bondage in the land of Egypt. Forced to work as slaves to the Egyptians their workload was made harder and harder as Pharaoh's heart became harder and harder towards them and their God. The Lord sent his servant Moses to Pharaoh to demand the deliverance of His people, but after sending many fearsome plagues upon the Egyptians still Pharaoh refused to let the Israelites go. In Exodus 10:27-29 we read the following:
Pharaoh had spoken the truth because, unknown to him, the following night God would bring such a plague upon Egypt, such an awful judgement, and bring about such a deliverance in leading His people out of Egypt, that Pharoah would indeed never see their faces again - God would call out His people to Himself, deliver them from their misery in Egypt, loose the bonds that tied them, and lead them forth "by the right way" that they might worship and serve Him. This was the night of the Passover, that night when the firstborn of the Egyptians would be slain, but not the Israelites, for they had a sacrifice which spoke of deliverance: a sacrifice of a lamb, whose blood would placate the wrath of God. A sacrifice which pointed in a figure across countless years and ages to the one great sacrifice for sins, that of the Lord Jesus Christ, the "Lamb of God" - "Christ our passover".
In this article I would like to bring out seven main points from the Passover as recorded in Exodus 11 and 12 and how it points us in such a wonderful, dramatic, and powerful way to Christ and His Gospel. We shall look at the Passover under the following headings:-
1. God's Judgement - The destruction of the firstborn of Egypt and the deliverance of God's people
During the night of the Passover "the LORD smote all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, from the firstborn of Pharaoh that sat on his throne unto the first born of the captive that was in the dungeon; and all the firstborn of cattle." The firstborn of Egypt were destroyed.
What does this signify? Well Egypt is figurative in the Bible of the world and of the flesh. It is both a picture of that which the believer is delivered from, the world, and that in the believer which is crucified with Christ - the flesh, or the firstborn.
When God judges the world in righteousness at the great day of the Lord when Christ returns only those who have been born again of the Spirit will be saved. Why? Because the firstborn, the flesh, will be destroyed. But those born again of the Spirit, those who have a second birth have eternal life and will dwell with God forever. Those 'in Christ' washed in His blood, having had their flesh crucified with Him, yet born of God by the Spirit, will rise with Him in the power of an endless life.
Unlike the Egyptians around them the children of Israel found grace in the eyes of the Lord. They found mercy. They were a chosen people. And when God destroyed the firstborn of Egypt the Israelites passed safely through the judgement, because of the blood on the door of their house.
Likewise all those elect, chosen, vessels of mercy whom God has chosen in Christ, His Spiritual Israel will pass safely through the rivers of death in Christ to dwell with Him for ever.
But those outside of Christ, those who see nothing in Him to desire Him, those who love the world and the things of the world, who live for the gratifying of their flesh - these will face certain and swift destruction. For eternity to come. For they have no second birth.
2. When It Started - Midnight
Notice the time when the judgement of God upon Egypt started - at midnight. In the pitch black of night when the sun was at its lowest point.
Now consider the time when Christ was crucified.
From nine in the morning (the third hour) until midday Christ hung upon the cross for three hours in the light of the sun. As He suffered men passed by and reviled Him, others mocked Him, others cursed Him. They all thought that this was His lowest point. The one who had claimed to be the Son of God had fallen, they thought. He had reached his lowest point - this was the end of Him.
Yet all the while the sun was steadily rising higher in the sky. All the while the Son of God was glorified. What man saw as His destruction, was actually His greatest work. The Son of man was lifted up on the cross in the place of sinners.
At 12 noon as Christ hung upon the cross the light of the sun was suddenly taken away and the land became thick darkness. It became as midnight. Why? To signify that Christ was made sin for His people. As He bore their sins in His own body on the tree the light of the Sun of Righteousness was veiled. For the next three hours Christ drank of the cup of the wrath of God against the sins of His people and He drank it to the very dregs. God came in judgement against sin, but He judged it in the Substitute - in His Son who died in the place of sinners; The Lamb of God - God's sacrifice for sin; Christ our Passover.
3. When It Finished - Morning
On the night of the Passover the Israelites were to remain in their houses until morning. Until sunrise. In this picture of the sunrise we can see the following:-
Firstly, the Israelites were not to leave the house until God's work in judgement was complete. Until the day dawned. Otherwise they would face destruction. The work had to be finished. This reminds us of the finished work of Christ at the cross. After three hours in the darkness Christ's work was finished. He gave up the ghost with a great cry and then the light of the sun returned. Every sin of God's people had been borne away. Every drop of God's wrath had been drunk. Not one sin remained. So nothing remained to darken the light of the Sun of Righteousness - not one blemish was left, in Christ, or in His people - all sin was gone. Hence the light of the sun returned.
Secondly, the rise of the sun pictures the resurrection of the Son of God on the third day, and the spiritual resurrection of all God's people in Him. We rise in Christ in His resurrection. The flesh is gone, crucified in Him, and we rise in the power of an everlasting life, that eternal life which is in Jesus Christ our Saviour.
Thirdly, the sun rise pictures the physical resurrection from the dead of all God's people in Christ at the last day. That day when Christ will return in all His glory to take His people, His bride to be with Him for all eternity. The day when the bodies of all God's people will be raised from the graves as glorious, spiritual bodies in the image of the Heavenly Man, Christ Jesus. 1 Corinthians 15.
As the night of the Passover ended and the sun rose over the land of Egypt two things were made clear by its light. The awful results of the sins of the Egyptians were seen in God's judgement against them - what was done in the darkness was now revealed in the light: "and there was a great cry in Egypt; for there was not a house where there was not one dead." But the judgement of God did not fall on Israel, God's chosen people, for they found grace in the eyes of the Lord, they were spared the results of judgement which they saw all around them and were brought forth out of the house of bondage by a mighty deliverance.
4. The Entrance to the House
On the night of the Passover the Lord commanded Israel to take of the blood of the slain lamb and strike it on the lintel and the two side posts of the door of their house. These three points on which the blood was applied are pictorial of the cross of Christ - they represent the top of the vertical and the two sides of the horizontal beams of wood upon which Christ died.
Notice also where the blood was applied - on the doorway, the entrance to the house. This gives a vivid picture of the entrance to God's House which is only by way of the cross, through Christ crucified for His people. Christ is the door through which His sheep enter. As it is written:
Christ's body slain for His people on the cross also speaks of the veil of the temple which was rent from top to bottom when Christ died, symbolic of the access which had now been made into the Holiest place through Christ. God's people can enter in to the presence of God through Christ their great High Priest and mediator who was crucified for them.
5. The Safety of the House
The children of Israel were to remain in their houses until morning. Outside the Lord would come in judgement upon the Egyptians but the children of Israel were safe whilst they remained in their houses, with the blood of the Passover Lamb on the door. This reminds us of the safety which Noah and his family found within the ark by which they were brought through the awful judgement of God in the flood which destroyed the old world. The ark, like the houses wherein the Israelites found safety, was a picture of Christ, and the deliverance through judgement that Christ wrought for His people. Through being "in Christ", abiding in Him, all God's people are brought safely through judgement into everlasting life.
The Israelites remained in their houses, in their "ark", all through the night of the Passover until morning, until the rising of the sun, which spoke of a perfect deliverance, of being brought out of the land of bondage into freedom, unto glory.
6. The Earthly Pilgrimage
The houses where the Israelites dwelt during the night of Passover also speak of the House of God, the "Church", the Body of Christ, during its earthly pilgrimage. Safe in their houses the children of Israel were commanded to eat the flesh of the sacrificed lamb, roast with fire, and unleavened bread, with bitter herbs. None of it should remain until the morning. Exodus 12:8-10.
This is symbolic of how God feeds His people during their earthly pilgrimage. As Israel were to find out during their forty year pilgrimage through the wilderness on their way to the promised land, God provides for His people. On their journey God provided them with manna for bread, and water from the Rock to drink, both of which point to Christ, the bread of life and the source of living waters.
This physical food which Israel was provided with on the night of the Passover and during their earthly pilgrimage were physical symbols of that spiritual food and drink which all God's people eat and drink on their pilgrimage through this world, that is, the flesh and the blood of Christ. As we read in John:
In the night of the Passover God "put a difference between the Egyptians and Israel". He judged the Egyptians, but delivered Israel who were called out of Egypt, separated unto God. So too are all God's people in Christ. They are chosen of God, "called out" of the world, separated unto Him, strangers and pilgrims on the earth, seeking a better country, that is an heavenly. Hebrews 11:8-16.
The Israelites were commanded to have their loins girded, their shoes on their feet and their staff in their hand, Exodus 12:11. This spoke of readiness for the journey ahead of them, of pilgrimage, of always being on the move. It is just the same with all God's people - as they pass through their earthly pilgrimage they keep on moving, knowing that there is nothing in this world to profit them, nothing to satisfy, no reason to put down roots. They walk by faith, looking unto Christ, on their way to...
7. The Heavenly Destination
Though the hours of the night of the Passover must have seemed to pass by slowly, as the judgement of God rained down upon the Egyptians all around, nevertheless it was "but for a moment". With the rise of the sun in the morning deliverance awaited - Israel walked free.
So as God's people journey through this world, through this "vale of tears", as the Body of Christ passing through on its earthly pilgrimage, they have set before them an heavenly destination, a glorious hope, an eternal inheritance.
God's people journey through this world looking unto Jesus by faith (Hebrews 12:2), having boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way (Hebrews 10:19-20), even now seated in heavenly places in Christ Jesus (Ephesians 2:6). But what is now seen by faith will one day be a reality. Soon the Lord Jesus Christ will return to raise up all His blood-bought people and take them to dwell with Him for ever and ever around His throne in the new heaven and the new earth wherein is the city of the living God. A city with twelve gates through which God's people may enter in and have right of the tree of life, that is Christ, their Saviour. Revelation 22:14.
In Summary - A Finished Work
So at the break of morning, in the light of the rising sun, the Israelites emerged from their houses where they had sat in darkness through that dreadful night of judgement, as it were in the shadow of death as God destroyed those around them, to be met with the news they longed for - they were free to go - delivered.
So too, when Christ had drank the last drop of God's wrath against the sins of His people, when He cried out "It is finished!" and gave up the ghost, a perfect deliverance had been wrought. Every single one of God's people were now just before God. Their sins had been atoned for, they were put away. God had finished the work of deliverance, the Son had been lifted up, the sins of His people washed away in the blood of the Lamb - a people bought at such a price, but now free to worship and serve their God for ever and for ever.
May all God's people never forget the wondrous work of Salvation which their Saviour wrought upon the cross. May we keep our gaze upon Christ - Our Passover.