In several of my posts I’ve stated that every book of the Bible points to the Messiah, to Jesus Christ. I believe we see here in Exodus the most clearly defined picture of the coming Messiah in all of the Old Testament. If you’ll remember back in Genesis, God told Abraham to sacrifice his long desired and awaited son Isaac. Such a request seems mind numbingly shocking to our modern sensibilities, but back in Abraham’s day it wasn’t strange at all for people to sacrifice their first born son to some deity. What was special about the One True God is that he stopped Abraham from sacrificing his son and provided the sacrifice himself in the form of a ram. You see, that is what is different about Yahweh. Man-made gods require men to earn their way in to their good graces. Yahweh makes it clear that we can’t earn our way in to His presence.
As my pastor likes to say, “there is no good deed, there is no good act, there is no good thought” that can earn your way in to God’s presence. So if you can’t earn your way in to God’s presence, in to His good graces, is there any hope for you? There is hope, because God loves you so much that He made a way for that to happen. You were a slave to sin just like the Israelites were slaves to Pharaoh. The wages of sin is death. Apart from God we are dead in our sins. The death of the first born in all of Egypt is symbolic of the death all of us can expect apart from God. The only way to be saved from such a fate is through the blood of the lamb.
When we read in the New Testament of the “blood of the lamb” we are referring to Jesus, and this is a metaphor for Jesus because He was the lamb without blemish who was slain in order to save people from the Angel of Death. Here in Exodus, the blood of the lamb saved the Israelites from the Angel of Death. Everyone who had the blood of the lamb painted on the door to their homes was saved from the Angel of Death. No blood, no salvation. The blood of the lamb caused the Angel of Death to “pass over” the Israelites, just as the blood of Jesus causes the Angel of Death to pass over those who have submitted their life to Christ.
There is another analogy in today’s passage that is often missed. The unblemished lamb that was to be slain to save a family had to live with that family for four days. To me this is analogous to inviting Christ in to your heart. To be saved we must do a number of things. We all know that we are to accept His sacrifice, His blood, to wash away our sins, but we forget that we must repent of our sin and invite Christ in to our hearts. But wait, if taking the lamb in to your house for four days is analogous to inviting Christ in to your heart, what is analogous to repenting of sin?
To repent of something we must turn our back on that something. We must reject sin; we must banish it from our hearts. Did you notice in our passage today that the Israelites were instructed to banish leaven from their homes? Leaven is yeast and it is used symbolically in the Bible to represent sin. You see, just a pinch of yeast in a bowl of dough will spread quickly throughout the entire bowl. Yeast multiplies aggressively. This is indeed an accurate picture of sin. A little sin in one’s life leads to more and more sin.
Do you see the connection here between the salvation purchased by the blood of the lamb and the abstention from leaven? If you’ll notice, the Feast of Unleavened Bread occurs on the day the Israelites were set free. Abstention from sin didn’t happen before the sacrifice of the lamb but rather immediately thereafter. You see, we can’t abstain from sin until we have asked Christ to come live within our hearts and accepted His blood sacrifice for our sins. It is the indwelling of the Holy Spirit that makes it possible for us to abstain, and abstain we must.
A couple of times I have had the privilege of attending a Passover meal presided over by a Messianic Jew. A Messianic Jew is a person who practices the Jewish faith as a Christian. You heard me right. A Messianic Jew is a practicing Jew who has accepted Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior. Peter, Paul, and all the other apostles were Messianic Jews. The neat thing about attending these meals was the insight gained through the rabbi’s teaching about the Passover rituals and how they point to Christ.
The prophet Isaiah foretold of the coming Messiah. In a passage that reminds us of the cross we read this:
“But He was pierced for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; the chastisement for our peace was upon Him, and by His stripes we are healed.”
I’m using my own little combination of the ESV and New King James Version (NKJV) to render this verse. I’m doing so because I think this combined translation reveals something fascinating. Have you ever looked at the unleavened bread used in the Passover meal? It is basically a cracker called Matzo. At the top of this post I have provided a picture of Matzo. Do you see the holes? Jesus’ side was pierced upon the cross. The Matzo is pierced just like Christ was “pierced for our transgressions.” Do you see dark marks on the Matzo? Those are spots that got a little hotter than the rest of the Matzo during baking. They’re little burn marks. They look like bruises don’t they? Jesus was beaten before being taken to the cross. “He was bruised for our iniquities.” Look at the rows of holes. Do they not look like stripes? Jesus was flogged before He was taken to the cross. Finally, just as Christ was without sin, the bread of the Passover is without leaven or yeast. The bread of the Passover is a symbol of the Lamb who was slain for you and for me.
Brothers, you asked the Lamb to come and live within your heart, and you were saved by the blood of that Lamb. Now it is time to reject sin from your life. Remember the price that was paid for your salvation and live like it means something to you.