Deliverance through Sacrifice: A Reflection on Passover

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. 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. 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. You shall observe this rite as a statute for you and for your sons forever. And when you come to the land that the Lord will give you, as he has promised, you shall keep this service. And when your children say to you, ‘What do you mean by this service?’ 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.

—Exodus 12:21-27 ESV

God had planned to save the people of Israel out of Egypt. His salvation was going to come through a series of disasters that he would bring upon the people of Egypt while leaving the people of Israel unscathed. The final plague, however, was different than the others in that it came upon both the Egyptians and the people of Israel. Although the Egyptians would suffer as a result of the plague, the people of Israel were given a way out. The final plague was the death of the firstborn in every household.

God intended to do two things through this final plague. As a result of the plague, Pharaoh would finally come to the realization that the God of Israel was powerful and that he must release the people of Israel. So, it was with this plague that God would save Israel from their bondage to slavery.

But God was using this plague to do something far greater. Since this plague was going to affect every household, whether Egyptian or Israelite, God provided a way for the people of Israel to be saved from the death that was coming. This salvation would come through the death of a Passover lamb. Each Israelite home prepared the lamb and the Passover dinner according to God’s careful instructions. They took the blood of that lamb and marked the doorframe of their house. Then, when the angel of death came over Egypt and when it came to one of these Israelite homes, it would say, “Death has already visited this home. I can pass over it.” Death had come to the home in the lamb that was sacrificed.

Death had come to the home in the lamb that was sacrificed.

With this event, God provided a picture for us of the substitutionary work of Jesus with his crucifixion. The Gospels are clear that Jesus’s crucifixion became for us a fuller picture of what God had already done with the Passover. Just as the Passover showed the people of Israel that God had chosen Israel to be his, just as it showed them that God was fighting for them, and just as it showed them that God would save them from their bondage to the Egyptians — and even from death itself — so it tells us that God through Jesus is doing the same for us. He has chosen us to be his people. He is fighting for us. He will save us from our bondage to sin and even from death itself.

He has chosen us to be his people. He is fighting for us. He will save us from our bondage to sin and even from death itself.

This Easter season, you may feel alone. You may feel helpless. You may feel defeated. But know that God is at work in you and around you to claim you, to fight for you, and to save you.



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