The Lord said to Moses and Aaron in the land of Egypt: 2 “This month is to be the beginning of months for you; it is the first month of your year. 3 Tell the whole community of Israel that on the tenth day of this month they must each select an animal of the flock according to their fathers’ households, one animal per household. 4 If the household is too small for a whole animal, that person and the neighbor nearest his house are to select one based on the combined number of people; you should apportion the animal according to what each person will eat. 5 You must have an unblemished animal, a year-old male; you may take it from either the sheep or the goats. 6 You are to keep it until the fourteenth day of this month; then the whole assembly of the community of Israel will slaughter the animals at twilight. 7 They must take some of the blood and put it on the two doorposts and the lintel of the houses where they eat them. 8 They are to eat the meat that night; they should eat it, roasted over the fire along with unleavened bread and bitter herbs. 9 Do not eat any of it raw or cooked in boiling water, but only roasted over fire—its head as well as its legs and inner organs. 10 Do not let any of it remain until morning; you must burn up any part of it that does remain before morning. 11 Here is how you must eat it: you must be dressed for travel, your sandals on your feet, and your staff in your hand. You are to eat it in a hurry; it is the Lord’s Passover. 12 “I will pass through the land of Egypt on that night and strike every firstborn male in the land of Egypt, both man and beast. I am Yahweh; I will execute judgments against all the gods of Egypt. 13 The blood on the houses where you are staying will be a distinguishing mark for you; when I see the blood, I will pass over you. No plague will be among you to destroy you when I strike the land of Egypt. 14 “This day is to be a memorial for you, and you must celebrate it as a festival to the Lord. You are to celebrate it throughout your generations as a permanent statute. 15 You must eat unleavened bread for seven days. On the first day you must remove yeast from your houses. Whoever eats what is leavened from the first day through the seventh day must be cut off from Israel. 16 You are to hold a sacred assembly on the first day and another sacred assembly on the seventh day. No work may be done on those days except for preparing what people need to eat—you may do only that. 17 “You are to observe the Festival of Unleavened Bread because on this very day I brought your divisions out of the land of Egypt. You must observe this day throughout your generations as a permanent statute. 18 You are to eat unleavened bread in the first month, from the evening of the fourteenth day of the month until the evening of the twenty-first day. 19 Yeast must not be found in your houses for seven days. If anyone eats something leavened, that person, whether a foreign resident or native of the land, must be cut off from the community of Israel. 20 Do not eat anything leavened; eat unleavened bread in all your homes.” 21 Then Moses summoned all the elders of Israel and said to them, “Go, select an animal from the flock according to your families, and slaughter the Passover animal. 22 Take a cluster of hyssop, dip it in the blood that is in the basin, and brush the lintel and the two doorposts with some of the blood in the basin. None of you may go out the door of his house until morning. 23 When the Lord passes through to strike Egypt and sees the blood on the lintel and the two doorposts, He will pass over the door and not let the destroyer enter your houses to strike you. 24 “Keep this command permanently as a statute for you and your descendants. 25 When you enter the land that the Lord will give you as He promised, you are to observe this ritual. 26 When your children ask you, ‘What does this ritual mean to you?’ 27 you are to reply, ‘It is the Passover sacrifice to the Lord, for He passed over the houses of the Israelites in Egypt when He struck the Egyptians and spared our homes.’” So the people bowed down and worshiped. 28 Then the Israelites went and did this; they did just as the Lord had commanded Moses and Aaron.
Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture quotations are taken from the Holman Christian Standard Bible®, Copyright © 1999, 2000, 2002, 2003, 2009 by Holman Bible Publishers. Used by permission. Holman Christian Standard Bible®, Holman CSB®, and HCSB® are federally registered trademarks of Holman Bible Publishers.
“The blood on the houses where you are staying will be a distinguishing mark for you; when I see the blood, I will pass over you…” —Exodus 12:13
This chapter of Exodus can be thought of as the heart of Jewish identity and religious structure out of all the chapters in the Old Testament. It is, according to verse 2, the beginning of months in their religious or ecclesial observances. The Jewish New Year, however, is during the Feast of Trumpets in September (Rosh Hashanah, which means beginning of the year).
So Passover in Jewish religious life as well as in significance is the beginning. It is the one point on the Jewish calendar that anchors all others. Their calendar is a lunar calendar for the months (each new moon begins a new month), but their year is a solar calendar year. A lunar year is about 11 days shorter than a solar year, so this causes their days and months to drift. To compensate, they insert an additional month when needed.
Why? To keep Passover celebration in the spring as God commanded in our verses today. It is the beginning; it is the priority on their calendar. In reading this amazing chapter, I get at the same time both the beautiful provision of God for His people and the terrible judgment of God against His enemies.
On pronouncing the last plague on Egypt, the death of the firstborn, God says in chapter 11, “Then there will be a great cry of anguish through all the land of Egypt such as never was before, or ever will be again. But against all the Israelites, whether man or beast, not even a dog will snarl,so that you may know that [the LORD] makes a distinction between Egypt and Israel” (verses 6-7).
So on the 14th day of that month (Nisan, in the spring), every Jewish household in Egypt at that time was to kill a lamb without blemish set apart for the Passover, capture some of its blood in a basin, dip a hyssop branch into the blood and put it on the doorposts and lintel of their homes.
In our chapter in verse 13 we read, “The blood on the houses where you are staying will be a distinguishing mark for you; when I see the blood, I will pass over you. No plague will be among you to destroy you when I strike the land of Egypt.”
The Bible records that after this final and most devastating plague of judgment, the people of Israel were let go from bondage in Egypt to journey to the land promised by God to Abraham’s descendants about 500 years before. There they would at last become a nation. Here is the great provision of God.
But between both the judgment of God and the provision of God lies the blood of a lamb, a lamb without blemish or defect, to be a sign or a distinguishing mark in the eyes of God between those committed to Him in spirit and in action, and those who are not.
It’s not hard to see the parallel here to Jesus, is it? His blood shed for the salvation of all who believe is the distinguishing mark in the eyes of God for us as believers, and in that atonement for your sin and mine, the wrath of God is taken away from us. His blood covers all sin and trespass, and much like the spotless Passover lamb’s blood did on that terrible night of judgment in Egypt, frees those who believe from the judgment of God on sin. His cross is the beginning for us.
On this day in the first week of advent, let’s remember the great provision of God in sending His one and only Son into the world, as a lamb without blemish or defect, to be given for us, the righteous for the unrighteous, to free those who believe on Him from the dominion of sin and to rescue them from the wrath of God to come.
Sing this song with me and rejoice this Christmas season in the great provision of God in His gracious forgiveness and salvation in Christ Jesus for all who believe!
God rest ye merry, gentlemen
Let nothing you dismay
Remember, Christ, our Savior
Was born on Christmas day
To save us all from Satan's power
When we were gone astray
O tidings of comfort and joy,
Comfort and joy!
O tidings of comfort and joy!
- Who in your family can you share this joy with that may not know Christ as Savior?
- Do you have friends or co-workers you can share a meal with this Christmas season to share the joy of God sending His Son for them with them?
- Will you remember to celebrate Christ with joy this Christmas with your family traditions?