(Lev 23:4) ‘These are the feasts of the LORD, holy convocations which you shall proclaim at their appointed times. On the fourteenth day of the first month at twilight is the LORD’s Passover.’
The essential teaching of the Passover is that all sin results in suffering and death, and that God is our only hope of deliverance. Specifically, it demonstrates that both the consequence of sin causes the loss of innocent life and that it can only be remedied by the loss of innocent life. It sheds light on the significance of Christ’s death that deliverance for sinful repentant persons could only be obtained through the death of the only perfect and blameless person who lived.
The sacrifice of a lamb is implicitly referred as a command of God immediately after the first sin:
(Gen 3:21) Also for Adam and his wife the Lord God made tunics of skin, and clothed them.
(Gen 4:2b-4) Now Abel was a keeper of sheep, but Cain was a tiller of the ground. And in the process of time it came to pass that Cain brought an offering of the fruit of the ground to the Lord. Abel also brought of the firstborn of his flock and of their fat. And the Lord respected Abel and his offering.
The feasts of Passover and Unleavened Bread are linked together. The specific details of these feasts are described in more detail in Exodus 12.
The specific elements are:
- The month of the Passover is the beginning of the calendar year
- On the 10th day of the month, every family or household should select a 1-year old ram, or a male lamb without any blemish
- The lamb should be killed at twilight on the 14th day, with blood placed on both door posts and the lintel of the house.
- The lamb should be cooked in a fire and eaten with unleavened bread and bitter herbs, any remainder burned before morning
- You are to wear a belt, sandals, and hold a staff in your hand and be prepared to leave, and eat in haste.
The significance of these two feasts is to show us God’s actions in delivering the Israelites from slavery in Egypt and also to show prophetically the actions of the death of God’s son delivering us from slavery in sin.
Acceptance of the sacrifice is a necessity to avoid imminent death. In order to accept the sacrifice of following actions must be taken:
- The blood or life of Christ must completely cover our outward visible actions, just as the blood covered the entrance to the house
- There must be a cleansing of sin from life, just as leaven, a symbol of sin must be removed from the house
- As shown by the beatitudes in Matthew 5, and by the symbol of unleavened bread that is the food of the poor, we must accept humility before God as Christ presented humility
- The emphasis of our lives should be preparation to leave this world, just as being fully prepared to leave Egypt was a requirement of the first Passover
On page 82 of The Desire of Ages, expresses a concise summary of the purpose of the Passover or “paschal” service:
“By the paschal service, God was seeking to call His people away from their worldly cares, and to remind them of His wonderful work in their deliverance from Egypt. In this work He desired them to see a promise of deliverance from sin. As the blood of the slain lamb sheltered the homes of Israel, so the blood of Christ was to save their souls; but they could be saved through Christ only as by faith they should make His life their own. There was virtue in the symbolic service only as it directed the worshipers to Christ as their personal Saviour. God desired that they should be led to prayerful study and meditation in regard to Christ’s mission.”
In biblical times, great national reformations in the days of Hezekiah, (2 Chronicles 30) Josiah, (2 Chronicles 34-35) and in the days of after the Babylonian exile (Ezra 3,6, & Nehemiah 8) were directly tied to keeping the Passover
Sanctuary: The Sacrificial Alter
(Exo 27:1-2) “You shall make an altar of acacia wood, five cubits long and five cubits wide—the altar shall be square—and its height shall be three cubits. You shall make its horns on its four corners; its horns shall be of one piece with it. And you shall overlay it with bronze.”
The Light of the World
(Gen 1:3-5) Then God said, “Let there be light”; and there was light. And God saw the light, that it was good; and God divided the light from the darkness. God called the light Day, and the darkness He called Night. So the evening and the morning were the first day.
The next time period in the Bible has many parallels to Passover, starting with the first sin described in Genesis 3. The focus is entirely upon Adam and his descendants until their destruction in the flood. The themes include the sacrifice of a lamb in response to sin, (Gen 3:21) (Gen 4:2b-4) death and sin, (Gen 4) destruction of the firstborn on the earth, (Gen 6-7) sacrifice and rescue, (Gen 8) leading to a promise. (Gen 9)
Passover represents the very first step of the Christian life, the surrender or sacrifice of self and desire to give up our sinful life in exchange for the guidance of Christ as a personal Savior.
(Return to the Sabbaths of Leviticus 23)