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Bible Commentaries

Kingcomments on the Whole Bible

Exodus 12

Verses 1-2

Introduction

The fact that Israel did not suffer the previous plagues is grace. However, in the final plague, the judgment of the firstborn, there is no distinction between Egypt and Israel. The firstborn of Israel are as much subject to judgment as those of Egypt. Before we know what salvation is, we must first know what judgment is.

The institution of the Passover comes from God. The Passover is God’s starting point to
1. guide the people through the Red Sea,
2. lead them through the wilderness, and finally
3. bring them to the promised land.

A New Beginning

The LORD speaks as Judge. That He is both for Egypt and for His people. For His people He is also the Savior. He speaks about the Passover while the people are still in Egypt. The Passover is the only feast Israel has celebrated in Egypt.

It is the beginning of a new era. It is the beginning of God’s relationship with His people on the basis of salvation. Now the people can go to serve God. This is the first month of the religious calendar of Israel, the month Abib (Exodus 13:4). Abib means ‘fresh, young ears’, for example from the barley. In the civil year it is the seventh month at that moment. This new calendar gives the Israelites a new identity as the beloved people of the true God.

Verses 3-5

A Lamb

Moses must speak to “all the congregation of Israel”, an expression that is being used here for the first time. It indicates the unity of God’s people. On the tenth day, the beginning of the three-day darkness, every family must take a lamb into their house. God’s redemption of His people as a whole is known and seen in the households.

The world does not see what the church does when it meets, but it does see what happens in the households of the believers. The lamb must have the central place in the household. For three days the whole family can observe the lamb. The significance of the household is highlighted in this chapter in a special way.

The lamb must be there for three days. On the fourteenth day it must be killed. The Lord Jesus, the true Passover (1 Corinthians 5:7), we also can observe during the three years of His walk on earth. We see this when we read the Gospels. Then we always have to remember that He is on his way to the cross to be slaughtered there. We can think of His death especially on Sunday when we celebrate the Lord’s Supper.

If a household is too small, it can share a lamb with its neighbors. The lamb is the standard. We must comply with the Lamb, not the other way around. Each household enjoys the Lord Jesus to different degrees. If there is much enjoyed, one can let others share in it.

The lamb must be taken from the sheep or from the goats. The sheep is usually used as a burnt offering, the goat as a sin offering. It has to be “unblemished”, there may be no defect on it. The Lord Jesus is the true burnt offering and the true sin offering. He is “a lamb unblemished and spotless” (1 Peter 1:19). He is the One “who committed no sin” (1 Peter 2:22), “who knew no sin” (2 Corinthians 5:21), and of Whom is true: “In Him there is no sin” (1 John 3:5). All this can only be said of Him. Therefore John the baptist could point at Him and say, “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world” (John 1:29).

It must be a male lamb, a year old. This relates to the manly power with which the Lord Jesus completed the work on the cross. We also see in the word “a year old” an indication of tenderness, sweetness. So the Lord Jesus was as well. Will the children in a household not have observed the lamb like this?

Verses 6-11

The Procedure

After the lamb has been the center of the household for three full days, it must be killed on the fourteenth day (Exodus 12:6). This means that blood must flow. This indicates in picture that “without shedding of blood there is no forgiveness” (Hebrews 9:22). It also shows that the life of the Lord Jesus does not bring salvation, but that only through His death reconciliation is possible (Romans 5:10). Although the Passover is killed in the individual houses, it is killed by all households at the same time, so it can be said that “the whole assembly of the congregation” kills it.

Then, for the first time in the Bible, there is spoken about the meaning of blood (Exodus 12:7). In Genesis we read about sacrifices, but not about blood. This blood must be put on the two doorposts and on the lintel. Not on the threshold, because that could show contempt for the blood, there it could be trampled on.

How important it is to put the whole household behind the blood. It is really more important for parents that their children shelter behind the blood of the Lamb than that they have a good position in the world. Sometimes a shift can be observed. If a household no longer feeds on the Lamb, the darkness will slowly but surely return in the household.

The lamb should not only be observed and killed, it should also be eaten (Exodus 12:8). Eating the lamb roasted on the fire means that by faith we make Christ our own. It means that we spiritually feed ourselves with the Lord Jesus as the One Who has borne our judgment (John 6:53-2 Timothy :). The unleavened loaves speak of His sinless life.

The bitter herbs remind us that it is our sins that have brought Him into the judgment, with which suffering and sorrow are connected (cf. Lamentations 3:15). This must be our food in the dark world in which we live.

The lamb has not been spared suffering (Exodus 12:9). We should not think that the Lord Jesus was not exposed to the full heat of judgment. God has not softened the judgment because He is His Son.

The head, the legs and the entrails of the lamb are a picture of the different aspects of the Lord Jesus in His suffering. The head speaks of the thoughts of the Lord Jesus during this judgment; the legs show the strength and perseverance with which He carried this judgment; the entrails remind us of the feelings He had during the judgment. In Psalms we read a lot about this.

Nothing of the lamb may be kept until the next day (Exodus 12:10). On the same day that it is killed, it should be eaten. The eating must always be done in connection with His death, with the judgment of sins. It shows the close connection between the sacrifice and the meal as a result of the sacrifice. When we think of our delivery, as it were, feeding ourselves with it, it must never be separated from the work that the Lord Jesus did at Calvary.

We will never be able to fully appreciate His work. There is much that we do not understand. God wants us to say that to Him, as it were offering that to Him as an offering by fire.

The Passover includes an attitude of being ready for immediate departure from Egypt (Exodus 12:11). To gird the waist, or loins, means that the long clothes are put on and attached to the waist. In this way the legs are free to be able to walk fast. To gird the waist indicates that there is no need to arrange things anymore and that one can immediately start moving at the right time.

Thus the Lord’s Supper reminds us each time of the coming of the Lord (1 Corinthians 11:26). Is our life influenced by the Lord’s Supper? Are we therefore ready to leave the place over which the judgment comes? Whoever celebrates the Lord’s Supper should be ready for immediate departure out of the world when the Lord comes to take us up. He has promised three times: “I will come soon! (Revelation 22:7; Revelation 22:12Revelation 22:20). Is our answer: “Amen, come Lord Jesus! (Revelation 22:20)?

It is the Passover for the LORD. Salvation is not primarily about the consequences for the people, however glorious those may be, but about the One Who has brought about this salvation and how He has done that. We see the same with the sacrament. It is the Lord’s Supper (1 Corinthians 11:20). Every time we celebrate it, we proclaim the death of the Lord. It is about Him. He has asked both of the bread, of which He says “this is My body”, and of the wine, of which He says that it is the new covenant in His blood: “Do this in remembrance of Me” (1 Corinthians 11:24-Lamentations :).

Verses 12-14

The Reason for the Passover

God will personally judge Egypt. His supreme majesty over man and animal and all the gods of Egypt becomes visible. Resistance is foolish and useless. “I … the LORD” says it, who will resist then?

There is only one way to escape judgment: the blood. Once again, full attention is drawn to the blood. It is not so much the attention of man as the attention of God: “When I see the blood.” In the world and regrettably also in parts of Christianity one may disparage the blood, despise it even, but it is the only way God’s judgment will pass you by.

Blood on the doorposts means: the judgment has already been here. Where the blood of Christ covers a man’s sins, God’s judgment passes that man by. This is also connected to the word Passover, because it means ‘to pass by’.

By the way, it is good that it is not our appreciation of the blood of Christ that decides our salvation, but the appreciation God has for it. The blood of Christ is of such a rich significance to God that He has determined it as the means of the redemption of His children (Ephesians 1:7; Romans 5:9).

The Passover is instituted by the LORD and is held as a feast for Him. It is His joy, together with His people, to think constantly, as “a permanent ordinance”, about what His Son, as the real Passover Lamb did on the cross. Forever we shall see the Lamb “standing, as if slain” (Revelation 5:6) and both praise and worship Him for His work and God Who gave Him: “And every created thing which is in heaven and on the earth and under the earth and on the sea, and all things in them, I heard saying, “To Him who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb, [be] blessing and honor and glory and dominion forever and ever.” And the four living creatures kept saying, “Amen.” And the elders fell down and worshiped” (Revelation 5:13-2 Chronicles :).

Verses 15-20

The Feast of Unleavened Bread

Immediately after the Passover the order comes to celebrate the Feast of unleavened bread (cf. 1 Corinthians 5:7-Ruth :). The immediate connection between the two feasts is strongly expressed in Luke 22: “The Feast of Unleavened Bread, which is called the Passover” (Luke 22:1). Here we see how the two parties are identified with each other.

The meaning is clear. If we believe that Christ, our Passover, has been slain for us, then it is essential that our life will become an experience in which sin – of which the leaven is a symbol – has no place. God expects this of us when we realize that all our sins are judged in the death of Christ.

It is important to always look at our home and our lives in the light of Christ’s death. Every sin (leaven) that has crept in again has an effect. We must confess that sin and so remove the leaven. If the leaven is not removed, but eaten, the one who eats it had to be put away from Israel, that is to say be killed. For the church, the instruction applies to someone who allows sin in his life and refuses to judge it: “Remove the wicked man from among yourselves” (1 Corinthians 5:13). (Exclude from the body of believers until repentant).

The Feast of unleavened bread lasted seven days, from the fifteenth to the twenty-first of the month. The number seven symbolizes a complete, a specific period. We can see that, for example, in a week that has seven days. When seven days have passed, a new week begins. Symbolically the number seven represents our whole lives. We would like to celebrate this feast because it celebrates our liberation from the slavery of sin. God’s intention is that our life should be a feast “with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth, without room for “old leaven” or “the leaven of malice and wickedness” (1 Corinthians 5:8).

To this feast, which also has to do with what has to happen in the houses, are linked two holy meetings. There must be a meeting on the first day of the feast and a meeting on the seventh day of the feast. This should happen in the houses at the beginning and at the end of the week. God wants His children in their families to be completely before Him and He also wants them all together before Him as a people.

Verses 21-23

Order to Kill the Passover Lamb

Moses orders to slay the Passover lamb. Its blood must be collected in a basin and applied to the doorposts and lintel with hyssop. Hyssop speaks of man’s smallness, his insignificance (1 Kings 4:33). The application of the blood to the doorposts and lintel shelters all those within that household. It is God’s value of the blood which is important. Blood makes God great and man small.

The LORD goes through Egypt to smite it. Smiting the firstborn means smiting the whole country of Egypt. Until the Israelites leave, they are part of Egypt. They are also subject to judgment. The LORD will not allow the destroyer to enter a house with a door to which the blood has been applied.

Verses 24-28

The Passover as a Remembrance

As the Passover is celebrated in Egypt, it will never be celebrated again. However, the memory of that one-off event must always be kept alive in the future. That is why the members of the New Testament church meet every first day of the week to celebrate the Lord’s Supper and remember Calvary.

The children will ask about the meaning of the celebration of the Passover. In the answer given by the parents, gratitude and admiration can be heard. They can testify that the LORD passed by the houses of the Israelites, He spared their houses.

Our children see that we celebrate the Lord’s Supper. They ask us about the meaning of it. How do we answer their questions? Our answers can be completely correct in a doctrinal sense. However, the meaning will not come across if our answers do not resound with admiration for God’s grace, if we do not testify with deep gratitude of what the Lord Jesus wanted to do for us on the cross.

Verses 29-30

Death of the Firstborn

The hour of judgment has come. It can take a long time, God is patient, but then there is no more delay. There was no house throughout Egypt where there was no dead one to mourn. It is the final blow. God’s judgment is indiscriminate. It affects everyone from the highest to the lowest in society (Job 34:19-Proverbs :).

Verses 31-36

The Israelites Are Given Freedom

Pharaoh does nothing more to hold the Israelites. On the contrary, he and his subjects want to get rid of them as quickly as possible. There is no question of any conversion. He now has more disadvantage from them than advantage. In his request for a blessing he acknowledges his superiors in Moses and Aaron. Moses and Aaron did not respond to this question, as they did respond to his request to pray for him. Pharaoh is a finished case.

The time of liberation has arrived. The people are acting fast. They take the unleavened dough with them. In obedience to the word of Moses they ask of the Egyptians all kinds of things. The LORD works and it is given to them (cf. Proverbs 13:22; Job 27:16-Esther :). Obedience to the Word always brings blessing.

Verses 37-42

The Exodus Begins

The people start from Rameses, the place where they experienced their slavery (Exodus 1:11) and travel to the first stop: Sukkoth (Numbers 33:5). Sukkoth means ‘huts’ and indicates, just like a tent, that the people are pilgrims.

With the people, also “a mixed multitude” goes up. They do not belong to the people of God, but they see some advantage in joining the people of God. They are guided not by faith, but by calculation. This “rabble” will later become a source of misery (Numbers 11:4). Every time a work of God happens, the enemy will try to infiltrate that work. By the inattentiveness of the local church, the enemy succeeds in introducing elements into the service that harm the true features of the church.

The first food they eat after leaving Egypt is unleavened cakes. That is a good start to the journey. They leave so hastily that the dough has not had a chance to do its job.

People who are radically converted from the world, often, without further reflection, immediately put away various things out of their lives, such as music, films and books with a sinful content. This direct action is important. The newly converted Ephesians also act in this way. Only after they have burned their wrong stuff do they calculate the value (Acts 19:19). If they had counted first, they might have regretted it and kept their magic books.

The LORD fulfills his word which he once spoke to Abraham. God’s mills grind slowly, but surely. After four hundred and thirty years (1876-1446 B.C.) in Egypt, the night has arrived in which the people leave. It is a night that is to the glory of the LORD. The Passover feast should be celebrated as a reminder of that night.

The word “night” appears seven times in this chapter. It is reminiscent of the three hours of darkness in which the Lord Jesus was made sin and carried the sins of all who believe in Him. It is also “in the night when He was delivered up” (1 Corinthians 11:23) that the Lord instituted His Supper.

Verses 43-49

Who May Eat the Passover

The supervision of who can eat of the Passover is a responsibility of the whole people of God. No one should eat it that has not sheltered behind the blood. The Passover is significant for Israel, only for the members of God’s people. Circumcision was always to be the distinguishing mark of Israel.

Circumcision represents the judgment of the flesh that Christ underwent on the cross (Colossians 2:11). Practically it means that everything of the old nature must be put to death, so that what is of the sinful flesh has no chance to express itself. Those who have not been circumcised may not eat of the Passover. He who allows sin to exist in his life, may not participate in the Lord’s Supper.

The Passover is eaten in a house. We can apply this to the church as a whole and as a house. The church is the house of God (1 Timothy 3:15). The Lord’s Supper is also a communal meal (1 Corinthians 10:17). Its celebration expresses the unity of the community.

All in all, it becomes clear that only those can participate in this meal who, through conversion and faith, are part of the church of God and judge sin in their lives. The supervision of this is a responsibility of the entire local church.

In Exodus 12:46 we see additional proof that the Passover lamb refers to the Lord Jesus. The words “nor are you to break any bone of it” are quoted in John 19 in connection with Christ on the cross (John 19:36). In Him this precept is fulfilled.

Verses 50-51

The Israelites Brought out of Egypt

In the freshness of their freedom all the Israelites do what the LORD has told them through Moses and Aaron. No discord is heard.

The Passover is celebrated by families, but Egypt is left “by their hosts”. This indicates that a battleground is being entered, as their wilderness journey begins.

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Kingcomments on the Whole Bible © 2021 Author: G. de Koning. All rights reserved. Used with the permission of the author
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Bibliographical Information
de Koning, Ger. Commentaar op Exodus 12". "Kingcomments on the Whole Bible". https://studylight.org/commentaries/eng/kng/exodus-12.html. 'Stichting Titus' / 'Stichting Uitgeverij Daniël', Zwolle, Nederland. 2021.