Over the years Christians have developed the custom of celebrating Easter denoting the resurrection of Jesus and Good Friday commemorating the death of Jesus. In the light of the WORD OF GOD inspired to man written by the Spirit of God we are going to look into “THE PASSOVER LAMB” in this season when all Christians meditate remembering the crucifixion and death of ‘Jesus Christ the Messiah’ come down from heaven for ALL MANKIND.
The New Testament documented by the disciples and apostles of Jesus talks about a LAMB without blemish and without spot foreordained BEFORE the FOUNDATIONS of the WORLD.
“ you were not redeemed with corruptible things but with the precious blood of Christ as of a lamb without blemish and without spot who was foreordained before the foundations of the world but was manifest in these last times” [ 1 peter 1: 18, 19, 20 ]
This part of the scripture speaks about redemption by BLOOD. Turning our eyes onto another scripture in the New Testament written to the Hebrews we make out that WITHOUT shedding of BLOOD there is NO remission.
“ All things are by the law purged with blood and without shedding of blood is no remission” [ Hebrews 9: 22]
The letter to Hebrews also tells us that the FIRST testament had blood involved in it
“ Neither was the first testament dedicated without blood” [ Hebrew 9: 18 ]
Does this mean every instance mentioned in the Old Testament for God to communicate with Human required blood? Was it so when God created the world? The answer is “Yes” but it was not so during or after creation/restoration of the world mentioned in Genesis 1. God is always perfect in all of His ways. If so since when was this required. Let us flip our pages to the “FIRST BEGINNING” mentioned in the Old testament book of Genesis.
“ Unto Adam and to his wife the Lord God made coats of skins and clothed them” [ Genesis 3: 21 ]
Ever since MAN’s fall in the Garden of Eden, Adam and Eve discovered that they were naked and could not meet and commune with the God when he called for them. And so God made clothes of skin and clothed them. To do this he had to slaughter an animal to get the skin out of it. The book does not specify what animal was slaughtered or even if an animal was slaughtered. However we understand that Man required clothing or garments and skin was given to him that way he could restore his relationship and meet with God covering his nakedness. All humanity requires blood as we saw earlier and some kind of clothing to cover our shame.
“ He has clothed me with garments of salvation. He has wrapped me with robe of righteousness” [ Isaiah 61: 10 ]
“ I counsel you to buy of me gold tried in the fire, that you may be rich and white raiment that you may be clothed and the shame of your nakedness may not appear” [ Revelation 3:18 ]
Rolling down Adam’s generation line we see that God accepted Abel’s sacrifice which of the firstlings of the flock and not Cain’s which was of the fruit of the land. Ever wondered why? This is because there was no blood on the sacrifice of Cain although both of them offered the firstlings as we read
“ABEL ALSO brought of the firstlings of the flock” [ Genesis 4: 4 ]
Moving down to the “SECOND BEGINNING” after the flood of Noah’s days, God speaks to MAN (Noah) after Noah and his family and every creature came out of the ark. This instance occurs after Noah built an altar and sacrificed every clean living thing.
“ And Noah built an altar unto the Lord and took of every clean beast and of every clean fowl and offered burnt offerings on the altar” [ Genesis 8: 20 ]
What was God’s motive of the conversation with Noah after the offering. I guess HE was making something clear to mankind.
“ And surely your blood of your lives will I require. At the hand of every beast will I require it and at the hand of man. At the hand of every man’s brother will I require the life of man” [ Genesis 9 : 5 ]
Looks like GOD is fond of blood simulating a vampire Dracula effect! Letting the jokes apart and keeping in mind “blood is required for the remission of sin” ever since “SIN” corrupted human blood as we already saw earlier.
But what kind of statement is this? “I will require the life of man at the hand of every man’s brother” as mentioned above. Should I not suffer for my sin? Why should my brother suffer for my sin? Cain made this same statement, “Am I my brother’s keeper ?” That mean’s there is a mystery behind this statement. God is always a JUST God. He will never make mistakes as the saying goes “To err is human”.
Jesus Christ called himself as a brother and an elder brother to us.
“ He is not ashamed to call them brethren saying, I will declare my name unto my brethren. “ [ Hebrews 2: 11, 12 ]
So God was pleased with Noah’s sacrifice and then makes a covenant with him.
“ And I will establish my covenant with you neither shall all flesh be cut off anymore by the waters” [ Genesis 9:11 ]
We see the next covenant that God makes is to Abraham when HE calls him out of his homeland and promises to bless him with inheritance. But while he does that HE asks Abraham for sacrifices meaning “blood”.
“ And He said to him, Take me an heifer of three years old, and a she goat of three years old, and a ram of three years old and turtle dove and a young pigeon” [Genesis 15: 9 ]
“ And it came to pass that when the sun went down and it was dark behold a smoking furnace and a burning lamp passed between those pieces “ [ Genesis 15: 17]
It is only after this does God make a covenant with Abraham as He did previously with Noah and Adam.
“In the same day the Lord made a covenant with Abraham” [Genesis 15: 18 ]
Many years after this incident while the people of Israel were in slavery in Egypt God heard their groaning and cries.
“And God heard their groaning and God remembered his covenant with Abraham “ [ Exodus 2: 24 ]
Were not the Israelites all the while in bondage and cries. Why is it that at this particular time “God heard” ? Do you think the Israelites renewed their minds and changed their ways before God? The answer is “NO”. But then why? The answer lies is the same verse. “God remembered His covenant with Abraham”. This particular words of God is written when God spoke to Abraham and made a covenant with him as we read above in Genesis 15.
“And He said to Abraham, know of a surety that your seed will be a stranger in a land that is not theirs and serve them and they shall afflict them four hundred years” [Genesis 15: 13]
God is faithful in His words unlike humans and He is the same forever. He remembers and shows mercy and grace when he sees blood and sacrifice.
When Israel grew to a nation God’s covenant with one man “Abraham” now develops to a covenant with His people and a nation called “Israel”. When they were called out of Egypt God gives them many laws, rules and regulations of sacraments concerning His feasts and His sacrifices during His appointed times. Let us magnify our meditation into one such feast called the “FEAST OF THE PASSOVER”.
“The Lord spoke to Moses, this month shall be the beginning of months. It shall be the first month of the year to you saying, in the tenth day of the month they shall take them every man a lamb. Your lamb shall be without blemish, a male of the first year. You shall keep it up until the fourteenth day of the same month and shall kill it in the evening. It is the Lord’s passover” [ Exodus 12: 2,3,5,6,11 ]
We are familiar with the plagues of Egypt and how God brought His people out of Egypt. The final plague was the smiting of the first born of all kinds among Egypt. This does not apply to the people of Israel because blood of the killed lamb which was without blemish was on their houses. Now let us list down the regulations of the order given to Israel concerning the Passover as we read.
- First Month of the year
- 10th day lamb selected
- Lamb should be without blemish
- Lamb should be a male
- It should be examined until 14th day
- 14th day evening the Lamb should be killed
The above mentioned listing can also be found in other references as mentioned below
“ In the fourteenth day of the first month is the Lord’s passover “ [ Leviticus 23 : 5 ]
“ The Lord spoke to Moses in the first month after they came out of Egypt, keep the passover at His appointed season in the fourteenth day of the month at even “ [ Numbers 9: 1, 2, 3 ]
“And in the fourteenth day of the first month is the passover of the Lord” [ Numbers 28: 16 ]
“ Observe the month of Abib and keep the passover unto the Lord. In the month of Abib the Lord brought you out of Egypt” [ Deuteronomy 16: 1,2 ]
The first month of the year on Israel calendar is named as “Abib” as we see in Deuteronomy 16. After Babylonian captivity this month was named as “Nisan”. Keep in mind that the Jewish calendars are different from the Roman calendar that we follow. Also their count of a day begins from “Evening to the next day Evening” and not “Morning to Morning”
So summarizing the Feast of passover, we understand that a lamb without blemish should be chosen for sacrifice on the 10th day of the first month and kept and examined until the 14th day of the month. This should be killed in the evening of the 14th day of the month. This is the jewish custom that was done and is done even until this day.
Why did God request such a thing? Why are we Christians who believe on the God of Israel not keeping the passover and all its sacraments today? Let’s get curious to find out from the WORD OF GOD.
We know that God required sacrifices of blood for the remission of sins as we have seen to this moment. If Christians believe on the God of Israel what keeps them from believing that such sacrifices and sacraments are not necessary. Was there a replacement or an amendment in the law given by God? If there was so, only GOD himself can make the amendment and not any man. So what did God do?
“God sent His only begotten son” [John 3:16 ]
His name is JESUS who payed the price and spilt blood for us as a mediator in the midst of God and Mankind to restore our relationship with God.
Now you and me might wonder how could JESUS be the replacement for the passover lamb. What makes us believe so. Why is the Passover a shadow of the reality that was about to happen? How could we compare Jesus to the Passover Lamb. Let’s make a little wiki from the word of God in the New Testament.
“And when he was come into Jerusalem all the city was moved saying “Who is this’? “ [Matthew 21: 10]
We are now into the scriptures that talk about the last days of Jesus and his last visit to Jerusalem. The city was moved. I believe almost everybody in the promise land knew or heard about Jesus and it was common for him as all Israel would, to do a visit to the temple during the days of the feasts. But this particular arrival of Jesus moved them. They probably did not know what they said as their eyes were blind from knowing the Messiah but the spirit of God has put it down very beautifully as this instance was the arrival of the lamb for slaughter into Jerusalem.
“And Jesus went into the temple of God” [ Matthew 21:12 ]
Jesus went into the temple soon after his triumphal ride on the colt/donkey when the people sang “Hosanna Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord”. Many Christians even today celebrate this day as “Palm Sunday” on the week before Easter. In our study on the “Passover Lamb” let us assume THIS DAY as the 10th DAY of first month. We have no explicit wordings in the scripture as to this day as the 10th day. However we see Jesus going nowhere but straight into the temple on that particular day even when he was so much welcomed as king by the people. To justify our statement on our assumption we have to find the proof from the word itself. Let’s do the Math.
“ Now in the morning he returned into the city” [ Matthew 21: 18 ]
During the days of feasts, Jerusalem was heavily packed as Jews from all over the world would come to celebrate the feasts into the temple. So it was impossible to stay inside the city. Now Jesus after he had entered the temple the 10th day according to our assumption would’ve spent the day and left the city to the mount of Olives or to any of the villages near Jerusalem like Bethany during the night. Matthew states in Chapter 21 verse 18 that he returned in the morning to the city. From our calculation this becomes our 11th DAY.
“ You know that after two days is the feast of the passover and the son of man is betrayed to be crucified” [ Matthew 26: 2 ]
We were on the 11th day. Jesus spent the whole day in the temple with people and his disciples talking to them. Then before he gets out of the city he comments about the passover as it was two days from then which makes it (11th day + 2 days , 12th day and 13th day) the 14th DAY.
The very same chapter states
“ The first day of the feast of unleavened bread , the disciples came to Jesus saying , “Where should we prepare for you to eat the passover ? “ “ [Matthew 26:17 ]
The feast of unleavened begins 7 days from the day of the passover ( Refer Exodus 12: 18 ). This is another feast that we will not go into at the moment. However we are sure that this verse specifies that the day was the 14th Day.
Looks like we have found out the days of the passover lamb from the 10th day up until the 14th day as mentioned in Exodus Chapter 12. But what about the proof that the lamb should be without blemish?
The priests should examine the passover lamb if it is without spot or blemish from the 10th day until the 14th day. Let’s read
“ And when he was come into the temple, the chief priests and the elders of the people came unto him as he was teaching and said “By what authority do you do these things” “ [Matthew 21: 23 ]
Everyday beginning from the 10th day up until the 14th day before slaughter the Passover Lamb of GOD named JESUS was examined daily in the temple by the chief priests, elders, Pharisees and Sadducees.
Now let us list down the occurrence of the Passover Lamb as we did initially for the feast
- First month of the year
- Jesus the Lamb selected on the 10th Day
- Jesus the Lamb was without sin or blemish
- Jesus was examined in the temple from the 10th Day to the 14th Day
- Jesus the Lamb was given to crucifixion and killed on the 14th Day
O what a God we have who has replaced the Passover Lamb with His own blood for the remission of our sins.
He not only replaced the Passover Lamb with his blood as we know but also made a covenant as a mediator between God and man.
“This is my blood of the new covenant/testament which is shed for many for the remission of sins “ [Matthew 26:28]
To our surprise THIS PASSOVER LAMB is very strange as it was not only chosen before the foundations of the world, slaughtered for us but HE overcame the world and rose again and will come again to reign.
“ Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power, riches, wisdom, strength, honor, blessings and glory. And every creature said “Blessing, honor, glory and power be unto Him who sits upon the throne and unto the LAMB forever and ever” “ [Revelation 5: 12, 13]
Glory to the Lamb of God whose name is JESUS!