Sermon for Sunday, May 30th, 2021 at First Presbyterian Church at Unionville, NY (BPC)
Old Testament reading:
[Exo 12:1-28 ESV] 1 The LORD said to Moses and Aaron in the land of Egypt, 2 “This month shall be for you the beginning of months. It shall be the first month of the year for you. 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. 4 And if the household is too small for a lamb, then he and his nearest neighbor shall take according to the number of persons; according to what each can eat you shall make your count for the lamb. 5 Your lamb shall be without blemish, a male a year old. You may take it from the sheep or from the goats, 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. 7 “Then they shall take some of the blood and put it on the two doorposts and the lintel of the houses in which they eat it. 8 They shall eat the flesh that night, roasted on the fire; with unleavened bread and bitter herbs they shall eat it. 9 Do not eat any of it raw or boiled in water, but roasted, its head with its legs and its inner parts. 10 And you shall let none of it remain until the morning; anything that remains until the morning you shall burn. 11 In this manner you shall eat it: with your belt fastened, your sandals on your feet, and your staff in your hand. And you shall eat it in haste. It is the LORD’s Passover. 12 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. 13 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. 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. 15 Seven days you shall eat unleavened bread. On the first day you shall remove leaven out of your houses, for if anyone eats what is leavened, from the first day until the seventh day, that person shall be cut off from Israel. 16 On the first day you shall hold a holy assembly, and on the seventh day a holy assembly. No work shall be done on those days. But what everyone needs to eat, that alone may be prepared by you. 17 And you shall observe the Feast of Unleavened Bread, for on this very day I brought your hosts out of the land of Egypt. Therefore you shall observe this day, throughout your generations, as a statute forever. 18 In the first month, from the fourteenth day of the month at evening, you shall eat unleavened bread until the twenty-first day of the month at evening. 19 For seven days no leaven is to be found in your houses. If anyone eats what is leavened, that person will be cut off from the congregation of Israel, whether he is a sojourner or a native of the land. 20 You shall eat nothing leavened; in all your dwelling places you shall eat unleavened bread.” 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. 22 Take a bunch of hyssop and dip it in the blood that is in the basin, and touch the lintel and the two doorposts with the blood that is in the basin. None of you shall go out of the door of his house until the morning. 23 For the LORD will pass through to strike the Egyptians, and when he sees the blood on the lintel and on the two doorposts, the LORD will pass over the door and will not allow the destroyer to enter your houses to strike you. 24 You shall observe this rite as a statute for you and for your sons forever. 25 And when you come to the land that the LORD will give you, as he has promised, you shall keep this service. 26 And when your children say to you, ‘What do you mean by this service?’ 27 you shall say, ‘It is the sacrifice of the LORD’s Passover, for he passed over the houses of the people of Israel in Egypt, when he struck the Egyptians but spared our houses.'” And the people bowed their heads and worshiped. 28 Then the people of Israel went and did so; as the LORD had commanded Moses and Aaron, so they did.
New Testament reading:
[1Co 5:6-8 ESV] 6 Your boasting is not good. Do you not know that a little leaven leavens the whole lump? 7 Cleanse out the old leaven that you may be a new lump, as you really are unleavened. For Christ, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed. 8 Let us therefore celebrate the festival, not with the old leaven, the leaven of malice and evil, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.
[Jhn 1:29-34 ESV] 29 The next day he saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world! 30 This is he of whom I said, ‘After me comes a man who ranks before me, because he was before me.’ 31 I myself did not know him, but for this purpose I came baptizing with water, that he might be revealed to Israel.” 32 And John bore witness: “I saw the Spirit descend from heaven like a dove, and it remained on him. 33 I myself did not know him, but he who sent me to baptize with water said to me, ‘He on whom you see the Spirit descend and remain, this is he who baptizes with the Holy Spirit.’ 34 And I have seen and have borne witness that this is the Son of God.”
If you were moving to a new house in another state, how long would it take you to prepare?
It is said that an entire Sioux Indian village could be ready to move on one hours notice!
But for us, with our modern load of possessions, it takes great planning, much paperwork, and hiring a moving truck. The whole process must be planned, and it could takes many weeks. Moving is not easy!
The Israelites are about to move. In fact, God promised that Pharaoh will drive them out! And that’s not a gentle-ride Uhaul, but more of the “driving out” done by whips!
So the Israelites must be prepared to leave!
And because God cares for His people, he’s gives them notice of the move soon to occur so that they may prepare. Yet, time is running out. They must make haste. There is little time to spare.
We’ve seen already that God has prepared the Israelites ahead of time in them getting much silver and gold from the Egyptians. And God had kept their herds and flocks alive. The Israelites have what they need to go on the Exodus.
Now God prepares them for the Passover that will occur. This will be not only the final plague, but the final event in the Israelites 430 years in Egypt. Once the Passover has happened, they will quickly be leaving the land.
So I want to look at this passage in three parts:
I. Preparations for Passover
II. Celebration of Passover
III. Celebrating The Lamb of God
First, we have the Preparations for Passover
I. Preparations for Passover
The plagues have been building up a rising action, coming soon to a climax in the final plague of the death of the firstborn. But as the Lord will pass through Egypt bringing death to all the firstborn, he will pass over all His people, keeping them from harm.
Back in Exodus 4:22 God said “Israel is my firstborn son.” And remember the previous Pharaoh, in the beginning of the Exodus, had sought to kill all the firstborn of Israel. Now the tables have turned.
God’s passing over his people is not something just “behind the scenes.” Rather, there will be a visible representation of the Passover for the Israelites to know that God has saved them.
And so important will this be that the Israelites are to establish their yearly calendar on this event. This month is to be the beginning of months for the Israelites.
On the tenth day of this month every man shall take a lamb according to their fathers’ houses, a lamb for a household. 4 And if the household is too small for a lamb, then he and his nearest neighbor shall take according to the number of persons; according to what each can eat you shall make your count for the lamb.
The lamb, the text tells us, is to be without blemish.
And, the lamb is to be a male.
The people then are to each keep their chosen lambs until the 14th day of the month and altogether at twilight shall kill them.
Then they are to take some of the blood of the sacrificed lamb and put it on the two doorposts and the lintel above the door. This clearly is to show that death has already come to each house, and that no more need be killed.
God says, “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.”
So it is a substitutionary sacrifice. A lamb without blemish is killed in place of the firstborn of Israel. Thus the pattern continues. Just like how God provided a substitute lamb for Abraham so that he did not have to sacrifice Isaac, so here God saves his people with a substitutionary sacrifice.
7 “Then they shall take some of the blood and put it on the two doorposts and the lintel of the houses in which they eat it.
When, some verses later, Moses explains this command to the Israelites he says, “Take a bunch of hyssop and dip it in the blood that is in the basin, and touch the lintel and the two doorposts with the blood that is in the basin.”
The ESV says “touch the lintel.” KJV says “strike the lintel”
Then, because of the haste in soon having to move out of Egypt, they are to eat unleavened bread, bread that has not had time to rise. And when they eat of this bread in the future they will be reminded of the short time that Israel had to prepare to move out of Egypt.
Also reminding them of that short time, they are to eat with their belts already fastened, sandals on their feet, and staffs in the hands, so that they are prepared to move at a moment’s notice. They are to eat in haste.
And there are bitter herbs to eat as well, to remind them of the bitter conditions in which they lived in Egypt.
And then they are to roast the lamb rather than boiling it. Why is that? Because it takes too long to boil. They don’t have time. They must roast it.
II. Celebration of Passover
In our passage, we have the preparations for Passover, but also the future celebration of it! What we don’t have in these verses (yet) is the actual event. That comes next. We’ll look at that next week, Lord willing.
It is quite interesting that God here explains how Passover shall be a celebration, a memorial day. Typically holidays are established AFTER the event takes place! But since God is sovereign, he already knows what will happen. Only He can establish a celebration of something yet to happen.
We humans, on the other hand, should not count our chickens before they hatch. We should not celebrate our sports team’s victory until the game is over. But God can speak of celebrations to be, even before the event occurs, because He is God.
The people are to celebrate the Passover. And it is to be known as the Feast of Unleavened Bread.
For all Israel, and for the generations to come, this is a celebration to remember because this is the day that God saved them.
Passover is to be remembered annually, throughout the generations. Even “as a statute forever.”
III. Celebrating Our Passover Lamb
So you might ask, “Why are we not celebrating passover in our day?” Should we celebrate the Feast of Unleavened Bread? What about all of the other feasts of the Old Testament, should we celebrate them as well?
The short answer is no.
The longer answer, the reason we are no longer obligated to recognize Old Testament feast days, is because we have something—someone—better in Jesus Christ.
Calvin says of the command to celebrate Passover that “perpetuity is meant, but only until fulfillment.”
The events of the Old Testament pointed to Christ. We now know him more fully. And in Him is the fulfillment of the prophecies of old.
Whereas the people killed lambs without blemish, God provided Jesus Christ, his firstborn son, as the sinless lamb of God as the substitute for the sins of all His people.
The passover is a symbol pointing to Christ. We now celebrate Christ! And it would be a great mistake to go back to the symbol when we have the substance.
Christ, in 1 Corinthians 5:7 is called “our Passover lamb.” And he has ben sacrificed for our sins. And so we celebrate that. And we celebrate him. The lambs of sacrifice pointed to him, but we know from Hebrews that “It is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins.” (Hebrews 10:4)
Hebrews also tells us that “without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sins.” (Hebrews 9:22). So how are we to be forgiven? It is not of animal sacrifice, but of Jesus Christ, the Son of God, the Lamb of God sacrificed that our sins are forgiven.
And it is Jesus Christ, and his death and resurrection that we celebrate, for in Christ alone are we forgiven.
Even before Christ’s death, the purpose of God was known to His people. John the Baptist, upon first seeing Jesus coming toward him said, “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!” (John 1:29)
And just as the blood of the lamb distinguished those people (and households) to be passed over from those to be destroyed, so does the blood of the lamb of God distinguish the Christian from the non-Christian, the saved from the damned. Believers are not distinguished by their abilities, but by the blood of Christ shed for them.
Christ’s blood averts, or turns away, the wrath of God.
And Jesus Christ was prepared from all eternity for this task. His death on the cross was not a decision made in haste. It was not a last-minute decision, or a plan B of God. It was God’s plan from the beginning.
Acts 2:23 says that Jesus was “delivered up according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God.” His death in front of Herod, Pontius Pilate, the Gentiles, and the peoples of Israel was, as Acts 4:28 says “what God’s hand and God’s plan had predestined to take place.” This was (Ephesians 3:9) according to God’s eternal purpose realized in Christ Jesus our Lord.
So it is Christ who we celebrate, for the shedding of his blood DID take away our sins. We celebrate Christ each week on this, the Lord’s day. For on this day he rose from the dead, showing that he conquered death and proving that all united to Him have eternal life.
Back last year when I was preaching through the Gospel of John we came to another moment where God was preparing his people for what was to come. Jesus was about to depart from the apostles, and he prepared them for that inevitability. And in that preparation he also established the Lord’s Supper, a celebration and remembrance of something THAT HAD NOT YET HAPPENED. What can we conclude from this? As we’ve seen again and again, Jesus is God. He has the power to know what will occur and to establish a memorial of it!
And when WE come to the Lord’s Supper, we are to be prepared. We should examine ourselves, confess out sins, and resolve to repent of those sins. A writer for Ligionier well says, “Those who refuse to acknowledge their sin, but harbor bitterness, malice, and hatred in their hearts, and refuse godly counsel toward reconciliation with God and others, and thus neglect the grace of repentance—let them refrain from the Lord’s Table.”
Let us celebrate the Lord rightly with repented hearts, coming to Him prepared with our minds focus on Christ, thankful for his sacrifice on our behalf.
Application: Be Prepared
God prepared His people for Passover. And He prepared them for the moving out of their homes that was soon to occur. And through the many types and symbols here in the Exodus and throughout the Old Testament, God prepared His people to know the Christ who was to come.
It is tragic that many Jews did not understand that Jesus Christ is the true passover lamb. And they still celebrate the symbol which points to the messiah. But it is a messiah they have now rejected.
But we know the love of the Lord in Jesus Christ. The Lord that loves us so much that he sent his only begotten son, the lamb of God, to take away our sins.
And God tells us to be prepared for Christ’s return! Christ could return at any moment. We must prepare ourselves for that.
How should we prepare for the Return of Christ?
We should repent of our sins and believe in the Gospel. Jesus will return like a thief in the night. So repent of your sins NOW, not waiting until its too late.
[Rev 3:3 ESV] 3 Remember, then, what you received and heard. Keep it, and repent. If you will not wake up, I will come like a thief, and you will not know at what hour I will come against you.
But as we look through the Scriptures and see God over and over again preparing His people for that which is to come, we should take heart, knowing that we can trust the God who provides. He sent His people out of Egypt, not empty handed, but with possessions. Gold, silver, herds, and flocks. God provides.
And he provides for us. He has provided Christ for our salvation; a guaranteed assured salvation for all who believe in Him.
God provides for you. In your lowest moments, look and wait and see what (and who) God brings to you for assistance.
The Lord indeed has prepared all things for His glory and for the good of those who believe in him.
Praise be the Lord we has prepared a place for us in heaven.
[Jhn 14:2-3 ESV] 2 In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to PREPARE a place for you? 3 And if I go and PREPARE a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also.