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Easter Personified in the Passover

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PASSOVER TEACHES US THE REALITY OF SINS DEBT

Exodus 12:1–12 ESV
The LORD said to Moses and Aaron in the land of Egypt, “This month shall be for you the beginning of months. It shall be the first month of the year for you. Tell all the congregation of Israel that on the tenth day of this month every man shall take a lamb according to their fathers’ houses, a lamb for a household. And if the household is too small for a lamb, then he and his nearest neighbor shall take according to the number of persons; according to what each can eat you shall make your count for the lamb. Your lamb shall be without blemish, a male a year old. You may take it from the sheep or from the goats, and you shall keep it until the fourteenth day of this month, when the whole assembly of the congregation of Israel shall kill their lambs at twilight. “Then they shall take some of the blood and put it on the two doorposts and the lintel of the houses in which they eat it. They shall eat the flesh that night, roasted on the fire; with unleavened bread and bitter herbs they shall eat it. Do not eat any of it raw or boiled in water, but roasted, its head with its legs and its inner parts. And you shall let none of it remain until the morning; anything that remains until the morning you shall burn. In this manner you shall eat it: with your belt fastened, your sandals on your feet, and your staff in your hand. And you shall eat it in haste. It is the LORD’s Passover. For I will pass through the land of Egypt that night, and I will strike all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, both man and beast; and on all the gods of Egypt I will execute judgments: I am the LORD.
Passover was intended to be a time of sobriety. Its aim was to reinforce sins totality. Both Egyptian and Hebrew were under the condemnation of sin for failing to obedient to God’s Word spoken through Moses and Aaron. This is why Paul calls for one to examination of sin before partaking of The Lords Supper.
First of all, the very first chapter in the story of the Lamb in the Bible is the story of Abraham and Isaac. Genesis 22. Abraham has a son he loves, Isaac, and in Genesis 22, he hears God speak to him. God says,
Genesis 22:2 ESV
He said, “Take your son, your only son Isaac, whom you love, and go to the land of Moriah, and offer him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains of which I shall tell you.”
Modern people say, “I know why he’s so anguished.” “He must have thought that was a monstrous command! He must have thought that was an insane command!” The answer is no. If you believe that, it’s because you don’t understand the historical and cultural context of Abraham.
There’s a man named Jon Levenson who is a Jewish scholar and teaches at Harvard. He’s written a book called The Death and Resurrection of the Beloved Son which does a wonderful job in a very scholarly way of putting it into context, so we actually have a pretty good idea of what Abraham was thinking, and it’s not that.
Here’s the context. Ancient people in ancient cultures did not have aspirations for individual prominence, individual prosperity, or individual success. That’s not what you hoped for. That’s not what you aspired to. You aspired for the success and the prominence and the prosperity of your family. You didn’t think in such individualistic terms. In ancient cultures, you wanted your family to succeed.
Secondly, in ancient cultures, if some member of the family failed or acted in a very shameful way, the entire family was responsible. If one person acted shamefully, that shame belonged to everyone. Modern Americans, Western people, and especially Americans, even more than Europeans, are the most radically individualistic people. This is the most radically individualistic culture ever.
We feel like, “If some member of my family acts in a shameful way, that’s them. It’s not me! I’m my own person. I’m setting my own course for life, and I don’t want to be held responsible for what they have done. I’m not responsible for what they have done. I am my own person. I am deciding who I want to be.”
I think it’s going to become clear, and I’m sure a lot of you already have recognized this, that this is an unbalanced position. Our radically individualistic, American, Western culture is unbalanced about this. As you get older, one of the most disconcerting sort of things is you come to realize you are much, much, much more, inescapably much more, a product of your family than you thought.
What you are, both good and bad, is not as attributable completely to you. Much of it is attributable (good and bad) to your family, to what they did and what they didn’t do in you, with you, and beside you.
It was universal. It was unavoidable. They felt it. Everybody else felt it. In other words, the idea that you’re an individual and there’s no relationship between you and the rest of your family is probably unbalanced. Most cultures in most centuries have had a more balanced understanding of individual and collective responsibility.
Having said that, let’s go back. In ancient cultures who didn’t think of themselves as individuals but as families and at a time in which the firstborn got the whole estate, God sent a message that was unmistakably clear to them but is opaque to us. In the book of
Exodus 22:29 ESV
“You shall not delay to offer from the fullness of your harvest and from the outflow of your presses. The firstborn of your sons you shall give to me.
and in the book of
Numbers 3:11–13 ESV
And the LORD spoke to Moses, saying, “Behold, I have taken the Levites from among the people of Israel instead of every firstborn who opens the womb among the people of Israel. The Levites shall be mine, for all the firstborn are mine. On the day that I struck down all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, I consecrated for my own all the firstborn in Israel, both of man and of beast. They shall be mine: I am the LORD.”
Numbers 3:44–51 ESV
And the LORD spoke to Moses, saying, “Take the Levites instead of all the firstborn among the people of Israel, and the cattle of the Levites instead of their cattle. The Levites shall be mine: I am the LORD. And as the redemption price for the 273 of the firstborn of the people of Israel, over and above the number of the male Levites, you shall take five shekels per head; you shall take them according to the shekel of the sanctuary (the shekel of twenty gerahs), and give the money to Aaron and his sons as the redemption price for those who are over.” So Moses took the redemption money from those who were over and above those redeemed by the Levites. From the firstborn of the people of Israel he took the money, 1,365 shekels, by the shekel of the sanctuary. And Moses gave the redemption money to Aaron and his sons, according to the word of the LORD, as the LORD commanded Moses.
there was a message God sent which was opaque to us. Here’s what it is.
He said over and over again in the Mosaic legislation, “The life of every firstborn is mine unless you redeem.” Every year they had to put up so many shekels. There was a redemption price on the head of the firstborn of every family. Their lives are forfeit unless they’re redeemed. That’s what the Law of Moses said.
To us, that’s completely opaque, but it was an unmistakable message to ancient people who immediately understood, because in the firstborn all of their hopes were embodied. All their hopes for themselves and for their families were embodied in the firstborn. God was sending an unmistakable message, and that is that there is a debt over every family on the face of the earth.
There is a debt of sin. There is a debt that is owed God on every family on the face of the earth. Your firstborns are liable for the way in which you are living, and their lives are forfeit unless they’re redeemed. That doesn’t make any sense to individualistic Americans, but when you begin to understand …
What that means, and it’s very, very important to understand, is when God said to Abraham, “Offer up your firstborn as an offering to me,” if Abraham had heard the words, “Go into the tent and kill Sarah,” Abraham rightly so would have said, “I’m having a hallucination,” or “That’s a demon, because God would not call me to do something absolutely at variance with his righteousness and with his Word and his will.”
When God said, “Offer up your firstborn,” Abraham did not say, “What a monster!” Abraham realized God was calling in the debt, that God was doing something he had a right to do, that Isaac was about to die for Abraham’s sins. Oh, Abraham struggled, of course, but he didn’t say, “How can you be so unjust?”
What Abraham was saying in his heart was, “How can you be both just, which you have a right to be (you’re a just God), and still a God of grace? Because you’ve promised great things to happen through me and my son in the world. How can you be both just and justifier of those who believe?
As he was walking up the mountain, the emotional hot peak of the account of Abraham and Isaac in Genesis 22 comes in verse 7 and 8
Genesis 22:7–8 ESV
And Isaac said to his father Abraham, “My father!” And he said, “Here I am, my son.” He said, “Behold, the fire and the wood, but where is the lamb for a burnt offering?” Abraham said, “God will provide for himself the lamb for a burnt offering, my son.” So they went both of them together.
What Abraham was saying is, “I hope with all my being you will not have to die for my sins, though that is just. I, with all my being, hope God will provide a lamb so my little lamb won’t have to die.

Many respond to this idea of debt in either a repulsive or reductionist manner.

Most ask; can’t God release us for our sin debt without all this death.”

Others might say; “can’t God just forgive sin without all this death”. Listen carefully; no. When someone hurts you psychologically a debt is created. It can’t be ignored. There are only two actions that can be taken. They must pay for the debt and this is often accomplished as we hurt, berate, or exclude them. There are many ways we can make them pay for their debt. This continues until their debt is paid. By the way, the Bible says if you do this you’re not a Christian and you will become a hard person. The second that can be taken is forgiveness and this is where we pay the debt. Forgiveness means; when I want to hurt them, I don’t.
Let’s think about it sociologically. Let’s just say we find a man (definitely he’s done it) guilty of some horrible crime: serial rape and murder. What if a judge says, “Well, he’s sorry for it, so let’s let him go free”? Right away, the reason there would be outrage is if he doesn’t pay, society will pay. Right?
To let him go free means, first of all, the victim’s lives are devalued. In other words, if there’s no payment, it means their lives and the things they’ve lost are worthless. Secondly, if he goes free, society will pay, because this will just go on. It will just go on. There’s no deterrence. This person will go on, perhaps, doing it, or other people will go on doing it because it wasn’t punished. In other words, either he pays or we pay.

PASSOVER TEACHES US THE REQUIREMENT OF SINS DEBT, DEATH.

The death firstborn teaches us the reality of sins debt; while the death of the firstborn teaches us the requirement for sins debt.

A sacrifice for sins was required. Someone has to propitiated the wrath of the one sinned against. This could be accomplished in the death of the sinner or a substitute. No matter how we slice it death is the required payment for sin. This will either be paid for by self or a substitute.
Revelation 14:1–11 ESV
Then I looked, and behold, on Mount Zion stood the Lamb, and with him 144,000 who had his name and his Father’s name written on their foreheads. And I heard a voice from heaven like the roar of many waters and like the sound of loud thunder. The voice I heard was like the sound of harpists playing on their harps, and they were singing a new song before the throne and before the four living creatures and before the elders. No one could learn that song except the 144,000 who had been redeemed from the earth. It is these who have not defiled themselves with women, for they are virgins. It is these who follow the Lamb wherever he goes. These have been redeemed from mankind as firstfruits for God and the Lamb, and in their mouth no lie was found, for they are blameless. Then I saw another angel flying directly overhead, with an eternal gospel to proclaim to those who dwell on earth, to every nation and tribe and language and people. And he said with a loud voice, “Fear God and give him glory, because the hour of his judgment has come, and worship him who made heaven and earth, the sea and the springs of water.” Another angel, a second, followed, saying, “Fallen, fallen is Babylon the great, she who made all nations drink the wine of the passion of her sexual immorality.” And another angel, a third, followed them, saying with a loud voice, “If anyone worships the beast and its image and receives a mark on his forehead or on his hand, he also will drink the wine of God’s wrath, poured full strength into the cup of his anger, and he will be tormented with fire and sulfur in the presence of the holy angels and in the presence of the Lamb. And the smoke of their torment goes up forever and ever, and they have no rest, day or night, these worshipers of the beast and its image, and whoever receives the mark of its name.”

PASSOVER PROVIDES US WITH REDEMPTIVE DETAILS

We are delivered from eternal death through a perfect ceremony.

CHOICE

Exodus 12:5 ESV
Your lamb shall be without blemish, a male a year old. You may take it from the sheep or from the goats,
John 1:29 ESV
The next day he saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!
Luke 23:41 ESV
And we indeed justly, for we are receiving the due reward of our deeds; but this man has done nothing wrong.”

CHRONOLOGY

Exodus 12:6–7 ESV
and you shall keep it until the fourteenth day of this month, when the whole assembly of the congregation of Israel shall kill their lambs at twilight. “Then they shall take some of the blood and put it on the two doorposts and the lintel of the houses in which they eat it.
Acts 2:22–24 ESV
“Men of Israel, hear these words: Jesus of Nazareth, a man attested to you by God with mighty works and wonders and signs that God did through him in your midst, as you yourselves know— this Jesus, delivered up according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God, you crucified and killed by the hands of lawless men. God raised him up, loosing the pangs of death, because it was not possible for him to be held by it.
John 7:8 ESV
You go up to the feast. I am not going up to this feast, for my time has not yet fully come.”
John 12:20–24 ESV
Now among those who went up to worship at the feast were some Greeks. So these came to Philip, who was from Bethsaida in Galilee, and asked him, “Sir, we wish to see Jesus.” Philip went and told Andrew; Andrew and Philip went and told Jesus. And Jesus answered them, “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit.
John 12:27 ESV
“Now is my soul troubled. And what shall I say? ‘Father, save me from this hour’? But for this purpose I have come to this hour.
Luke 23:44 ESV
It was now about the sixth hour, and there was darkness over the whole land until the ninth hour,

CONSUMMATION

Exodus 12:8–10 ESV
They shall eat the flesh that night, roasted on the fire; with unleavened bread and bitter herbs they shall eat it. Do not eat any of it raw or boiled in water, but roasted, its head with its legs and its inner parts. And you shall let none of it remain until the morning; anything that remains until the morning you shall burn.
John 6:26–59 ESV
Jesus answered them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, you are seeking me, not because you saw signs, but because you ate your fill of the loaves. Do not work for the food that perishes, but for the food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give to you. For on him God the Father has set his seal.” Then they said to him, “What must we do, to be doing the works of God?” Jesus answered them, “This is the work of God, that you believe in him whom he has sent.” So they said to him, “Then what sign do you do, that we may see and believe you? What work do you perform? Our fathers ate the manna in the wilderness; as it is written, ‘He gave them bread from heaven to eat.’ ” Jesus then said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, it was not Moses who gave you the bread from heaven, but my Father gives you the true bread from heaven. For the bread of God is he who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.” They said to him, “Sir, give us this bread always.” Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst. But I said to you that you have seen me and yet do not believe. All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never cast out. For I have come down from heaven, not to do my own will but the will of him who sent me. And this is the will of him who sent me, that I should lose nothing of all that he has given me, but raise it up on the last day. For this is the will of my Father, that everyone who looks on the Son and believes in him should have eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day.” So the Jews grumbled about him, because he said, “I am the bread that came down from heaven.” They said, “Is not this Jesus, the son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know? How does he now say, ‘I have come down from heaven’?” Jesus answered them, “Do not grumble among yourselves. No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him. And I will raise him up on the last day. It is written in the Prophets, ‘And they will all be taught by God.’ Everyone who has heard and learned from the Father comes to me— not that anyone has seen the Father except he who is from God; he has seen the Father. Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever believes has eternal life. I am the bread of life. Your fathers ate the manna in the wilderness, and they died. This is the bread that comes down from heaven, so that one may eat of it and not die. I am the living bread that came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever. And the bread that I will give for the life of the world is my flesh.” The Jews then disputed among themselves, saying, “How can this man give us his flesh to eat?” So Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. Whoever feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day. For my flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink. Whoever feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood abides in me, and I in him. As the living Father sent me, and I live because of the Father, so whoever feeds on me, he also will live because of me. This is the bread that came down from heaven, not like the bread the fathers ate, and died. Whoever feeds on this bread will live forever.” Jesus said these things in the synagogue, as he taught at Capernaum.

PASSOVER TEACHES US A NEW DAY IS WITHIN OUR REACH.

Exodus 12:2 ESV
“This month shall be for you the beginning of months. It shall be the first month of the year for you.

The cross of Christ completes once and for all ceremonial Passover and now calls us to celebrate Christ the Passover Lamb.

Luke 22:15–19 ESV
And he said to them, “I have earnestly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer. For I tell you I will not eat it until it is fulfilled in the kingdom of God.” And he took a cup, and when he had given thanks he said, “Take this, and divide it among yourselves. For I tell you that from now on I will not drink of the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God comes.” And he took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body, which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me.”
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