The days were long and the nights were filled with nursing sore muscles and trying to reassure one another that hope was not lost, that YHWH would one day replace their sorrow with celebration. Days were filled with the sounds of the whip cracking on someone’s back, being bossed around, forced labor, and shouting slave masters. Nights were spent feeding the family, spending time with the children, and nursing wounds inflicted from the hands of the overseers, the workers called them “slave drivers.” They had been held captive for so long that nobody even remotely remembered what freedom felt like and yet the hope of deliverance never faded. Generation after generation had taken their place in Pharaoh’s pits mashing mud, water, and straw until it was pliable enough to be molded into bricks. When Pharaoh grew angry he would take away the straw to punish the Hebrews.
Of an evening the fathers and mothers would gather with their children just before bed to say their prayers and try and encourage their little ones. They would tell their kids that YHWH would send a Deliverer one-day who would release them from their labors and return them to the land that He had given to their forefathers. They would tell the children stories about Abraham and Sarah and how YHWH had given them a son when they had long given up hope of having a baby fill their nursery. They would tell them about Isaac, Rebekah, Jacob, Rachel, and Leah, but the story they loved to tell, the hope they held onto, was Joseph.
While their kids were nestled in bed with their covers pulled up to their chins, moms and dads all over Egypt would tell the story of Joseph with hope radiating from their faces. They would tell them how Joseph was sold as a slave, but at the right time YHWH had delivered him from the prison he had known, but never called home. They told their children that Egypt was not their home and that one day YHWH, in His faithfulness, would deliver them too. Then they would pray, “Lord, send a Deliverer so that our children will know the good gift of freedom. Grant us favor, YHWH, in Your mercy forgive us for our sins, in Your love heal our wounds, and by Your great hand send a Deliverer.”
After more than four hundred years of slavery God raised up a deliverer. A man called Moses, a Hebrew raised in the house of Pharaoh. Moses heard the voice of God declaring, “I have seen the suffering of My people and I have come to deliver them.” God appointed Moses to be His mouthpiece and to declare to Pharaoh, “Let My people go.”
After many plagues troubled the heart of Pharaoh, he still would not release the Hebrews to freedom. God told Moses that there would be just one more plague, the death of the firstborn throughout all of Egypt, then Pharaoh would relent and the Hebrews would be slaves no more. God said,
12 “On that same night I will pass through Egypt and strike down every firstborn-both men and animals-and I will bring judgment on all the gods of Egypt. I am the LORD. 13 The blood will be a sign for you on the houses where you are; and when I see the blood, I will pass over you. No destructive plague will touch you when I strike Egypt. (Exodus 12:12-13 NIV)
Each family was to take a male lamb, one year old, without blemish or spot. They were to remove him from the herd and care for him until the fourteenth day of the month. At twilight, on the appointed day, the father of the family was to take the lamb and kill him, catching his blood in a bowl. The lamb would be roasted for the family to eat, but the blood would be caught to smear on the sides and top of the doorframes entering into their homes.
When the day came each family was busy killing their most prized, precious lamb – a lamb without spot or blemish. Men all over the Hebrew slave camp of almost two million people were seen smearing the blood of the lamb on the top and sides of the doorframe of their home. The Egyptians passing by thought they had lost their mind, but the fathers stroked their doorframes with blood with a glimmer of hope emanating from their hearts. After more than four hundred years of slavery they still had hope that YHWH would be true to His Word.
That night, at midnight, Hebrew families were huddled in their homes waiting for whatever would happen. The air began to stir. The sky grew darker than any midnight sky they had ever seen. The air was ominous. All of a sudden the Death Angel began to sweep down from the heavens and search out every home throughout all of Egypt. From Pharaoh’s palace to the little hut of the slave girl left alone to raise her family after her husband had been killed by one of Pharaoh’s henchmen – the Death Angel searched them all out. At midnight not one Egyptian home was left untouched by the mighty hand of God. Moses records for us in Exodus 12,
29 At midnight the LORD struck down all the firstborn in Egypt, from the firstborn of Pharaoh, who sat on the throne, to the firstborn of the prisoner, who was in the dungeon, and the firstborn of all the livestock as well. 30 Pharaoh and all his officials and all the Egyptians got up during the night, and there was loud wailing in Egypt, for there was not a house without someone dead. (Exodus 12:29-30 NIV)
God was true to His Word. He did what He promised. The Hebrews would soon be on the road to freedom and headed towards the Promised Land. The Egyptians were horrified by the power of the God of the Hebrews. Pharaoh was struck with grief and sorrow when he found his first born son lying dead the morning after the Death Angel visited Egypt. In the same country there were shouts of victory and cries of despair, hugs of celebration and hugs of sorrow, tears of deliverance and delight and tears of desperation.
Joy and Sorrow
What was it that separated the joy of the Hebrews from the sorrow of the Egyptians? Did the Death Angel pass over the houses of the Hebrews and spare their first born because they were more noble than the Egyptians? Absolutely not. Slaves and slave masters were both beset by sin. Was the first born spared because of the pedigree of the Hebrews? Certainly not. God never said that the Death Angel would pass by the homes of the Hebrews simply because they were Hebrews. Did death escape the Hebrews because of where they lived? Did the Death Angel pass by the Hebrews because they lived in a rough area of town and He knew better than to go there? Not a word of that mentality was ever spoken. The fact of the matter is that the Death Angel did not pass over any home because of their popularity, pedigree, prominence, or profit margin. The homes that were spared were not spared for any of these reasons. The homes that were spared were spared for one reason and one reason only – it was because of the blood of the lamb on the doorframes. Nothing but the blood would cause the Death Angel to spare the first born of the land!
As the Death Angel swooped down from Heaven searching home to home He wasn’t looking for whether there was a Pinto or a Porsche parked in the driveway. He wasn’t looking for homes that were aesthetically unpleasing to the eye. He wasn’t looking for homes with Scripture verses hung over the front door – He was looking for the blood of the lamb!
Many in our society today, when they hear the story of the first Passover and the deliverance of the Hebrews ask the question, “Why blood?” Couldn’t God have just asked the Hebrews to leave the front porch light on? Couldn’t He have had Moses give the Hebrews “Neighborhood Watch” stickers to put on the front window for the Death Angel to identify when He made His rounds? God could have done anything He wanted to do, but He chose to have the Hebrews sacrifice their prized lambs and smear their blood over the doorframes of their houses. What the Hebrews of Moses’ day could not have known was that the little lambs they were killing were a foreshadowing of the True Lamb of God that would one day take away the sins of the world! What they could not have known was that the blood they were smearing on the sides and over the top of the doors of their homes was a mere foreshadowing of the cleansing blood that would flow from Calvary’s Cross one day!
What is it that is so special about blood to God? God declared in Deuteronomy 12, 23 “But be sure you do not eat the blood, because the blood is the life, and you must not eat the life with the meat.” (Deuteronomy 12:23 NIV) God had declared that “life is in the blood.” Blood is equivalent to life and God is the Giver of life. Life is precious to God from the womb to the tomb it is precious to God. The lives of the Hebrews would be spared by the blood of the lamb!
I called a doctor friend of mine one time and asked him, “What is so special about blood?” He said, without me ever mentioning Deuteronomy 12, “Medically speaking, blood is equivalent to life.” He told me that you can live without both of your kidneys if you go through dialysis. You can do without much of your brain, liver, and lungs. My friend had just recently worked on a case where they had to stop a man’s heart for an hour and a half as they had him hooked up to a heart and lung machine. The man lived through having his heart stopped, but he could have never lived for an hour and a half with his blood sitting stagnant. You can’t live without blood because life is in the blood!
After our conversation I told my friend, “Medically speaking life is in the blood, but theologically speaking eternal life is in the blood of the Lamb.” There is redemption in the blood of the Lamb! There is salvation in the blood of the Lamb! There is life in the blood of the Lamb! There is forgiveness in the blood of the Lamb! There is joy in the blood of the Lamb! There is deliverance in the blood of the Lamb! There is healing in the blood of the Lamb! Life is in the blood! Eternal life is in the blood! You want to know where to find life, joy, salvation, healing, hope, and deliverance from all that plagues you? You will never find it in books. You will never find it in finding the “right” spouse or friend. You will never find it through counseling or consultation. You won’t find it in acquiring things – you will only find it in the blood of the Lamb!
There is a trail of red that flows throughout Genesis all the way through Revelation. What begins as a thread of red outside the Garden of Eden becomes a crimson flood at the Cross and ends as the saints who have come through the tribulation wash their robes in the blood of the Lamb in the book of Revelation. (Revelation 7:14)
With such a record of the cleansing blood of God given to cleanse His people from their sins and bring about their salvation it is mystifying why, when we talk about the blood of Christ today, that people look back at us with horror. It is not politically correct to talk about blood today. Blood, in our day, is not equivalent to life and eternal, abundant life – it is equivalent to gore, talked about only by uneducated, backward religious folks. How times have changed.
The fact of the matter is that many people in our society do not have any understanding of the power of the blood of the Lamb or the centrality of the blood of the Lamb in our worship service. In this church, each Sunday, we proclaim the power of the blood as we observe the Lord’s Supper during worship. Most people in our society make no connection between the two. They view communion as a halftime snack. You can just hear the wheels turning in their heads, “Oh, we must be about half-way through the service because it is time for Communion.” Most Americans do not have the insight that the Disciples had when Jesus sat down with them during the Passover and said,
20 When evening came, Jesus was reclining at the table with the Twelve… 26 While they were eating, Jesus took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to his disciples, saying, “Take and eat; this is my body.” 27 Then he took the cup, gave thanks and offered it to them, saying, “Drink from it, all of you. 28 This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins. 29 I tell you, I will not drink of this fruit of the vine from now on until that day when I drink it anew with you in my Father’s kingdom.” (Matthew 26:20; 26-29 NIV)
The Disciples may not have understood the “how” of what Jesus was saying, but they certainly understood the “what” of what He was saying. They had seen the Passover observed every year since they had been born. Of all of the festivals celebrated among the Jewish people, Passover was a commemoration of God’s deliverance of His people. Great care was taken to observe Passover with gratitude for the deliverance of God. The disciples had seen the Passover lambs slain on the fourteenth day of the month Nisan as a covering for the sins of the people of God, but they never dreamed that the Passover Lamb would be fulfilled in Jesus – the Lamb of God had come! They must not have been there when John the Baptist cried out upon seeing Jesus for the first time, 29 “…Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!” (John 1:29 NIV)
Even today, the Jewish people observe Passover all over the world by remembering God’s deliverance and by reminding their children that God is their hope and the source of their deliverance. We who have come to know Jesus as Lord and Savior of our lives have a special insight into Passover. We do not merely look back to God’s deliverance from slavery in Egypt, we look back to God’s deliverance from sin and death through Jesus’ death on the cross. The writer of Hebrews tells us,
11 When Christ came as high priest of the good things that are already here, he went through the greater and more perfect tabernacle that is not man-made, that is to say, not a part of this creation. 12 He did not enter by means of the blood of goats and calves; but he entered the Most Holy Place once for all by his own blood, having obtained eternal redemption. 13 The blood of goats and bulls and the ashes of a heifer sprinkled on those who are ceremonially unclean sanctify them so that they are outwardly clean. 14 How much more, then, will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself unblemished to God, cleanse our consciences from acts that lead to death, so that we may serve the living God! 15 For this reason Christ is the mediator of a new covenant, that those who are called may receive the promised eternal inheritance-now that he has died as a ransom to set them free from the sins committed under the first covenant. (Hebrews 9:11-15 NIV)
Jesus is the fulfillment of Passover for you and for me. Jesus, our High Priest, did not carry a sacrificial lamb to the altar of Almighty God and slay it as a sacrifice. Jesus lay upon the altar of God and gave His own life as an offering unto God for your sins and mine. The blood of the lamb offered by the priests merely covered the sins of the people, but the blood of Jesus, our sacrificial Lamb cleanses us from all sin. The writer of Hebrews said,
13 The blood of goats and bulls and the ashes of a heifer sprinkled on those who are ceremonially unclean sanctify them so that they are outwardly clean. 14 How much more, then, will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself unblemished to God, cleanse our consciences from acts that lead to death, so that we may serve the living God! (Hebrews 9:13-14 NIV)
The blood of goats and bulls outwardly cleaned the people, they covered over the sins of the people, but the blood of Jesus cleanses our consciences from acts that lead to death – we are cleansed from the inside out and our sins are removed forever!
There are three ways in which Jesus fulfills the requirements of God for the Passover sacrifice to be offered for the deliverance of the people of God.
He Is The Lamb
First of all, the sacrifice had to be a lamb. Jesus is the Lamb of God. John, upon seeing Jesus, said, 29 “…Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!” (John 1:29 NIV) Over and over again throughout the book of Revelation, John refers to Jesus as the Lamb of God. In Revelation 5, John writes these powerful words.
8 And when he had taken it, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb. Each one had a harp and they were holding golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints. 9 And they sang a new song: “You are worthy to take the scroll and to open its seals, because you were slain, and with your blood you purchased men for God from every tribe and language and people and nation. 10 You have made them to be a kingdom and priests to serve our God, and they will reign on the earth.” (Revelation 5:8-10 NIV)
Jesus is the Lamb of God who took our sins upon Himself. Jesus is the Lamb of God who is worthy to open the scroll of God and break its seals. Jesus was slain and with His blood He purchased for us redemption and salvation. Jesus is the Lamb of God!
He Is Without Spot or Blemish
Secondly, the lamb was to be without spot or blemish. Jesus offered Himself as the perfect Lamb of God, without sin, for sinners like you and me. Peter writes of Jesus in 1 Peter 1 by saying,
18 For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your forefathers, 19 but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect. (1 Peter 1:18-19 NIV)
Peter knew the purity of Jesus, even the man who condemned Him to death could find no reason to sentence Him to die as Pilate said,
3 So Pilate asked Jesus, “Are you the king of the Jews?” “Yes, it is as you say,” Jesus replied. 4 Then Pilate announced to the chief priests and the crowd, “I find no basis for a charge against this man.” (Luke 23:3-4 NIV)
Pilate’s wife had warned him about Jesus and his involvement in railroading Him to Calvary. She told her husband, Pilate,
19 While Pilate was sitting on the judge’s seat, his wife sent him this message: “Don’t have anything to do with that innocent man, for I have suffered a great deal today in a dream because of him.” 20 But the chief priests and the elders persuaded the crowd to ask for Barabbas and to have Jesus executed. (Matthew 27:19-20 NIV)
The wages of sin is death. Death is what we have earned because of our sin, but through Jesus’ sacrifice on Calvary’s cross we have the gift of eternal life for all of those who will receive Him as Lord, for all of those who will “paint” the doorframes of their hearts with His precious blood.
His Blood Cleanses Our Sin
Last of all, the lamb was to be slain and the blood applied to redeem the lives of the Hebrews. When the Death Angel passed over Egypt He didn’t take into consideration who was in the house – He was looking only for the blood. When Jesus was crucified on Calvary His shed blood cleansed us from all of our sin. His blood continues to cleanse us from sin for all time. Paul wrote,
19 For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him, 20 and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross. (Colossians 1:19-20 NIV)
26 You are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus, 27 for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. (Galatians 3:26-27 NIV)
My friend, the Bible teaches us that God is looking to and fro searching the earth for someone who is righteous. When we stand before the holiness of God, the most righteous among us will shudder at His righteousness and holiness. There are none of us, as a matter of fact, if you were to compile all of the righteous deeds that all of us have ever done they would not be able to pass the test of holiness issued by Almighty God. The Bible says that “there is none righteous, no not one” (Romans 3:10) and in another place we read, “Our righteousness is as filthy rags to God” (Isaiah 64:6). We find ourselves in a predicament that none of us can work our way out of or pay for.
God’s Word says that there is no forgiveness for sin without the shedding of blood. Jesus’ blood has been shed for you and for me, but the question remains, “Now what?” What will you and I do? Will we continue to try and dismiss our sins as no big deal? Will we try and seek a better counselor who can help us deal with our sins? Will we choose to turn our backs on God and plunge head first into the pool of sin mocking God’s way out? Or will we fall before the bloodied cross of Calvary where the Sacrificial Lamb was slain and cry out to God in brokenness and humility, “Forgive me Father for I am a sinner.” There is only one way for you and me to effectively and eternally deal with the guilt, shame, and sense that there is something not right with our lives and that is the blood of Jesus – nothing but the blood will do. Won’t you invite Him into your heart today?
Britton Christian Church
922 NW 91st
OKC, OK. 73114
April 8, 2012