The Cross: Exodus 12 – The Passover

The Cross – The Passover.  Exodus 12.


Throughout history exploitation, oppression and slavery have been part of human experience. Living as we do in a free democracy we don’t always appreciate the conditions under which others have lived and in some place in the world today still do!


Many who have struggled against oppression over the years have used this story of the Exodus as an inspiration. During the last century their where many in Africa and South / Central America who developed what became known as Liberation Theology. It was preached by many in the Civil Rights movement in the USA. While many of their struggles may have been justified – and while it is true that God is opposed to injustice and oppression, their theology was often defective. The Exodus has been a symbol of political revolution for centuries –in the UK it was used by Oliver Cromwell against the Stuarts! [Tidball p.51].


Two crucial things that are missing in Liberation Theology’s attempt to equate political struggle with the Exodus:-

1st, The Jews were not struggling against the Egyptians – It is clearly God’s initiative and God’s doing.

2nd, we cannot talk about the Exodus without the Passover, nor liberation / redemption without sacrifice just as Christians we can’t talk about salvation without the cross.



Exodus 12 is complex because it is written many years after the event and intertwined with the historical account are instruction for the remembrance celebration in the years following.


The Hebrews had gone to Egypt during a server famine 430 years earlier when Joseph their forefather was ruling the country under Pharaoh. The nation had grown and become a threat to the Egyptians and so they had oppressed and enslaved them. Moses, Hebrew adopted by Pharaoh’s daughter, was raised as a Prince. At age 40 he tries to take matters into his own hands and kills and Egyptian Salve-master who is abusing a Hebrew slave. He is found out and has to flee for his life. After 40 years of living in the desert Moses is instructed by God to go back and lead His people out of Egypt. After sending 9 plagues on the country Pharaoh still will not capitulate and free the slaves so God plans one more – the death of the first-born.

If the Hebrews are to escape God’s Judgement and be rescued from slavery they must obey God’s instructions.


  1. 1.     The Passover is God’s idea


The beginning and end of this chapter make it quite clear that God is the initiator and the one who achieves its purpose.

Exodus 12:1 & 51 .. 1The LORD said to Moses and Aaron in Egypt, ……51 And on that very day the LORD brought the Israelites out of Egypt ….. (NIV)

God is at the beginning and end of the Passover / Exodus.

The whole event is teaching us something about what God is like.

(a)  He is a faithful God who keeps his promises.

100’s of years before way back in Genesis 15 God told Abraham that the Jews would be enslaved in Egypt and that He would rescue them. Now was the time to faithfully fulfil that promise.


(b)  He is a compassionate God who hears the cries of the oppressed.

Exodus 3:7     7 The LORD said, [to Moses] “I have indeed seen the misery of my people in Egypt. I have heard them crying out because of their slave drivers, and I am concerned about their suffering. (NIV)

We may find it difficult to understand why God would wait so long before responding to those cries. BUT we must not confuse slowness with indifference!


(c)   He is a just God who will deal with Wrong.

God is sovereign over all the nations and over every individual life. As I just said, we find it difficult to understand why God doesn’t deal with it NOW! BUT he has promised to – and he will. Justice will ultimately be done. We must take an eternal perspective.


(d)  He is a powerful God who rules the world.

God doesn’t enter into negotiation with Pharaoh to let His people go! Neither Pharaoh, his army, nor the gods of Egypt have any power to stop him.



2. God tells the people how to prepare for the Passover.



While it is true that the Exodus is God’s doing the people’s freedom came as they obeyed God’s word.

They become participants in the drama of salvation through their obedience to God’s instructions. Exodus 12:50  All the Israelites did just what the LORD had commanded ..


(a)  The timing.

Exodus 12:2 2 “This month is to be for you the first month, the first month of your year. (NIV)

This was to mark a new beginning. This generation of Jews had been slaves all their lives – from now all would be different – a new life was about to begin!

On the 14th day [v6] a lamb was to be sacrificed at twilight – presumably under cover of darkness so that after the angel of death had passed over they could make a hasty exit from Egypt under cover of darkness.


(b)   The Lamb. {or young goat}

It had to be small – just enough for one family – if too much families were to get together. Any leftovers were to be burn. The sacrifice was too precious to simply be discarded as rubbish!

It had to be a perfect animal – only the best was good enough for God.


(c)   The Blood.

The animals blood was to be caught in a basin and using a hyssop plant as a primitive paintbrush it was to be smeared on the doorposts and lintel.

It was not enough that the blood was shed / drained from the sacrifice – it had to be applied / appropriated by those who wished it to save them from death.


It was the blood over the door that protected the firstborn from the destroying angel of death.

It was not just protection – Life is in the blood! Within blood there can be no life. Thus it is the life-given that provides life / new life for Israel.

And looking forward to the cross – Christ’s life that gives us life. Not just given but applied / appropriated to my life if it is to be effective in the face of God’s judgement.


(d)   The meal.

The animal was to be roasted and eaten – along with bitter herbs and unleavened bread. Life not only laid down but imparted – it was this meal that gave the people the nourishment necessary for the journey the following morning.

The were to eat standing – dressed in outdoor clothes with their hiking boots [sandals] on! Ready to move on command!


At midnight the angel of God passes and all firstborn not in a blood covered house would die!


  1. 3.     God shows the people the meaning of the Passover.

What does this tell us about God? What does it tell us about the cross of Christ?


Firstly what it teaches us about God.

(a)  God is the judge of sinful people.

That night there was joy amongst the Israelites and deep sorrow amongst the Egyptians. Earlier Pharaoh had committed genocide against Israel by ordering all Hebrew boy-babies to be killed [1v16] – his sin had caught up with him – God is not mocked.

So the firstborn died – from the King to the peasant and even the animals.


This picture of God doesn’t sit comfortably in out world. We are uneasy with such expressions of God’s anger.

Tolerance is now considered to be the outstanding virtue so a God of wrath leaves us in disbelief or embarrassment.

As one commentator says, “It is one thing to speak of Americans dropping bombs! But somehow we feel it blasphemous for God.”

The Bible doesn’t back away from God’s judgement. The Bible doesn’t share our unease but calls us to be filled with fear and wonder of God’s judgement.

For decades the Egyptians had exploited and oppressed God’s people and God was angry.

God is always angry when the strong oppress and exploit the weak. I wonder what he makes of Western powers / multinational companies growing fat on the backs of the poor!


(b)   God who is living defeats the dead idols.

The plagues were not just random miracles but were focus at the supposed strongholds of the Egyptian gods. We have no time to look at these BUT God strikes at the very things these gods were supposed to control – he exposes their impotence – In fact shows that they are not gods at all – they are nothing!

(c)   God is the rescuer of sinful people.

One thing we must emphasis. God doesn’t rescue Israel because they are not sinners and the Egyptians are sinners. They were protected because they were in a blood-marked house. IF Egyptians had believed and obeyed God’s words and done what they Israelites did they too would have been protected. And we know from later texts that there were Egyptians amongst those who escaped!!


The message is plain. Think about this in term of Jesus death on the cross. The blood of the Lamb prevents that righteous judgement of God falling on those who deserve it. BUT it is not automatic – As the Hebrews had to apply the blood to the door frame and eat the meal so too, we must believe and receive the word of God – supremely Jesus who is the Ultimate Word of God.

So God the Judge is also God the Rescuer and protector.


(e)   God is Lord of a Pilgrim people.

The rescue from Slavery was the end of one thing BUT the beginning of a new life’s journey with God as their Lord.

Later the priests were consecrated by sacrificing a ram, being sprinkled with its blood and then eating it. It was inauguration into the priesthood – into service of God. Here at the Passover all the nation were consecrated as the people of God. A people with a purpose – a people with a mission. To serve God, to belong to God and to him alone!

  1. 4.     God gives the world the Ultimate Passover.


Passover taught u about God –  but also about the Cross!

The Passover and Exodus were of course v. significant for the people of the time.

But clearly in the light of the NT it point to Jesus as God’s ultimate Passover and the One through who complete rescue from sin and its consequences is received.


The Last Supper Jesus celebrated with his followers was the Passover meal. He clearly links it to his death. The bread “This is my body – given for you”. The Wine –“This is the new covenant in my blood”. Jesus dies at Passover.



1 Peter 1:18-19 18 For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your forefathers, 19 but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect.



1 Corinthians 5:7 7 Get rid of the old yeast that you may be a new batch without yeast — as you really are. For Christ, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed. (NIV)


Think about this in relation to Ex.12. It is through Christ sacrifice on the cross that 1) sinners are brought to judgement; 2) principalities and powers [other god and Satan himself] to judgement; 3) those under sentence of death and who accept the sacrifice [blood covered] to redemption; 4) the oppressed are freed; 5) the redeemed [rescued ones] become members of this holy, consecrated people of God – the family of God.


What does Paul mean – Get rid of the old yeast that you may be a new batch without yeast?


Yeast is often [not always] used as a symbol of sinfulness and corruption. Paul is saying to Christians “You are a new people – new batch of dough – so don’t allow the corrupting influences of the old fermented / corrupted yeast to damage the new.

How can the people of God go on living in a sinful state, with the old yeast of pride and immorality evident amongst them.

Having been redeemed / rescued by the Passover Lamb – Christ and become the people of God we must live like the people of God and get rid sinful acts and attitudes.


The Passover Lamb was a pattern of the Ultimate Passover Lamb to come – Christ.


ILLUS.: Like an old manual typewriter differs from the latest word processor / computer …

… similar in some ways by vastly different in so many others.


The original Passover was a wonderful event in itself BUT was limited and primitive by comparison to the real thing – Christ’s death on the cross.



Closing Prayer ……. Page 10…..>



Revelation 5:6-14 John writes…

6 Then I saw a Lamb, looking as if it had been slain, standing in the centre of the throne, …. 7 …8 … the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb. .. 9 And they sang a new song:

“You are worthy …,       because you were slain, and with your blood you purchased men for God from every tribe and language and people and nation. 10 You have made them to be a kingdom and priests to serve our God, and they will reign on the earth.”

… 12 In a loud voice they sang:

“Worthy is the Lamb, who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and strength and honour and glory and praise!”

13 …”To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb

be praise and honour and glory and power,

for ever and ever!”

14 .., “Amen”… (NIV)


The Passover and The Cross


Exodus 12.


1. The Passover is God’s idea

  • He is a faithful God who keeps his promises.
  • He is a compassionate God who hears the cries of the oppressed.
  • He is a just God who will deal with Wrong.
  • He is a powerful God who rules the world.


  1. God tells the people how to prepare

for the Passover.

  • The Timing.
  • The Lamb.
  • The Blood.
  • The Meal.


  1. 3.       God shows the people the meaning

of the Passover.

  • God is the judge of sinful people.
  • God who is living defeats the dead idols.
  • God is the rescuer of sinful people.
  • God is Lord of a Pilgrim people.


  1. 4.       God gives the world the Ultimate


  • 1 Corinthians 5v7; 1 Peter 1v18-18; Revelation 5.

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