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This Chapter becomes exceedingly interesting to the Christian Reader, in that it contains an account of the institution of the Jewish passover. And whoever considers what Paul the apostle hath said of the Lord Jesus Christ, whom he expressly calls our Passover, will be very earnest to observe every minute circumstance recorded of the Jewish passover, whose great and leading object was to point to Christ. Here, therefore, I would again particularly desire the Reader to keep in view the motto which was placed over the writings of Moses in our first entrance upon them: I mean what the Lord Jesus himself said, Moses wrote of me. And in this Chapter I would beg the Reader to search, as for hidden treasure, through every part of it, until he hath found Jesus. The most prominent parts of this Chapter are the institution of the passover: the feast of unleavened bread: the destruction of the firstborn of Egypt: the distress and terror of the Egyptians at the event: the pressing importunity of Pharaoh and his people for the departure of Israel, the Israelites baring Egypt by night, being urged to it by the Egyptians: and an account of a mixed multitude going up out of Egypt with them.
New mercies call for new memorandums, Deuteronomy 16:1 , Abib, that is the spring of the year. From this time the Israelites began their year. It should seem that before this period they reckoned their new year after gathering in the fruits of harvest, perhaps about what we call September.
Was not this typical of the Lord Jesus? Is he not uniformly known through all scripture as the Lamb of God? See Rev_13:8; Rev_5:6-9; Rev_5:12 then John 1:29 . Four days before the Lamb was to be killed in the passover, he was to be separated and set apart for this service: from the 10th day of the month until the 14th. Now it is worthy of remark, that Jesus came into Jerusalem four days before his crucifixion.
Doth not this express the communion of the faithful? 1 Corinthians 10:3-4 .
Was not the spotless state of the Lamb intended as an emblem of the immaculate holiness of the Lord Jesus Christ? 1 Peter 1:19 ; Hebrews 7:26 . And was not the precept concerning the age of the Jewish lamb, intended to show, that he whom this prefigured should offer himself in the prime and strength of life? Leviticus 1:3-10 ; Malachi 1:14 .
The whole congregation being concerned in the Jewish sacrifice, became a striking figure that the whole synagogue of the Jews should engage their hands in the death of Jesus. Luke 22:1-2 . And still more striking: all the congregation of Israel being concerned in the sacrifice of the lamb, became a precious token that all the Lord's spiritual Israel have an interest in the sacrifice of Jesus. John 17:12 . That the Lamb among the Jews was to be killed in the evening, became a figure also of what the apostle calls the evening or end of the world. For the Lord Jesus gave up the Ghost at the ninth hour, which is three o'clock in the afternoon. See Daniel 9:21 compared with Mark 15:34 , etc. and Hebrews 9:26 .
What a striking allusion is here in the sprinkling of the blood, to that of the blood of the Lord Jesus. See Hebrews 12:24 . Teaching as expressively as possible, that his precious blood must be applied as well as shed and personally applied to each soul too, as the blood of the lamb was to every house of the children of Israel. Romans 5:11 . And what is meant by being applied? Simply this, I apprehend: When the Holy Ghost, whose office it is, to take of the things of Jesus and to show unto his people, so takes of those precious things of salvation and shows them to the sinner, as to satisfy him, that the righteousness of Jesus is sufficient to justify him; and the blood of Jesus sufficient to cleanse him; and the sinner is so taught by the Holy Ghost these divine things, so as to believe in them, and with a firm faith to rest upon them for salvation: here both are applied, for the conscience becomes satisfied and finds peace in Jesus. Reader! the Lord grant that our souls may fully feel the blessed application of Jesus' blood and righteousness, in this soul-refreshing way to the glory of God in Jesus Christ!
Was not this eating of the lamb a representation that as the Israelites ate of their sacrifice so the true Israelites now spiritually eat the flesh, and drink the blood of Christ their sacrifice. John 6:51-57 . The roasting of the Lamb with fire; did it not prefigure the agonies of Christ in the garden and on the cross, when sustaining in his precious body the fire of divine displeasure, due to our sins which he bore? David speaking as a type of Jesus calls it a consuming of his bones. See Psalms 31:10 . And moreover the unleavened bread with which it was to be eaten; did it not carry with it this idea which Paul explains that there is to be nothing of leaven, nothing to be mingled with Christ by way of sacrifice! 1 Corinthians 5:7-8 . And yet more, the bitter herbs wherewith it was to be eaten; did not these also imply the bitter sorrow of heart and contrition of soul, which mark the faithful in mourning over their sins which crucified Jesus? 2 Corinthians 7:10 .
The whole of the lamb became a striking figure that nothing short of a whole Christ can be sufficient for salvation. Reader! do notice this; and may the Lord the Spirit teach you and me from it that we need a whole Saviour, not a partial one.
That nothing was to remain until the morning manifested the earnestness with which true Israelites receive Christ and suffer nothing to remain in his person, offices, or character uninteresting to them. 2 Corinthians 6:2 ; Hebrews 13:11 .
The state of departure here described becomes a beautiful figure of a soul when receiving Jesus, in turning his back upon the world and everything in it. Hebrews 13:13-14 ; Philippians 3:20 ; Micah 2:10 .
Behold, the hour of visitation! Numbers 32:4 .
Reader! do not overlook the doctrine of this verse, neither forget that it is twice named, here and in Exodus 12:7 , as if the Holy Ghost intended to teach us that the blood of the sacrifice must be applied as well as spilt. An unapplied ransom is no ransom. An unapplied Saviour is no Saviour. Hebrews 9:19-20 . How sweet that scripture when felt in the heart, applied by the Holy Ghost, 1 John 1:7 .
Sweet memorial! and well may it be a feast when we celebrate that precious death which is the life of the soul. 1 Corinthians 5:7-8 ; Isaiah 25:6-9 . Well may we keep it forever, and cry out, Lord, evermore give us this bread.
This precept is again repeated to intimate its importance. Exo_13:6; Exo_23:15; Exo_34:18 .
Reader! observe the solemnity of these holy convocations. Then turn to Leviticus 23:0 , where the precept for the observance of them is no less than nine times repeated. Then turn to the New Testament and remark what is said of similar circumstances. Hebrews 10:25 .
As the feast of the passover prefigured a deliverance from sin by the death of Christ who hath thereby delivered his people from the wrath to come: so the feast of unleavened bread typified his holy life; by which in the unleavened purity of a perfect righteousness, he hath, by doing as well as by dying, obtained eternal redemption for his people. Daniel 9:24 ; Isaiah 53:11 .
If the Reader will calculate, he will find that the fourteenth day at even was the night of deliverance from Egypt. And the one and twentieth day perhaps was the day of their passage through the Red Sea. Exodus 14:29 .
This threat was given before, Exodus 12:15 . So infinitely important, in the sight of God, is the unleavened, unmingled sacrifice of Jesus.
Here the service begins for which so solemn a preparation had been made. And the Holy Ghost, to teach us the importance of it, gives it to the church again by his servant the apostle Hebrews 9:19 .
Observe the cause of safety, the blood upon the lintel: not in bolts, nor bars, nor strength within; but the blood without. What a precious consideration to the true believer, on whose heart the blood of Jesus is sprinkled. See that sweet scripture, Titus 3:4-6 .
What Israelite, that knew his mercy in the distinguishing grace of God between him and the Egyptian, but must gladly renew the remembrance of it, every year! And what true believer among Christians who knows and experiences the love of Christ in delivering him while so many know it not, but must rejoice to commemorate, by an ordinance forever, this great salvation? John 14:22 .
Reader! if you are a parent, learn from hence how to encourage your little ones to seek information concerning the great things of God. If they ask you what is meant by the Christian passover (I mean the service of the Lord's Supper?) Oh! tell them that it commemorates his precious sufferings and death, by whose stripes we are healed. Tell them of the distinguishing mercies of God in Christ, that while we merited death as much as any Egyptian, the Lord passed by and saved us when Egypt was destroyed. And do, my brother, if you can, tell your children also, how in numberless instances, both in providence and in grace, the Lord hath passed over you and your house, and not suffered the destroying angel to come in, while you have seen many on the right hand and on the left, swept away in sudden destruction. Oh! how sweet is the contemplation of distinguishing mercy!
Reader! recollect the rebellion of Israel, Exodus 5:21 , and here observe the change. Since that, God had been preparing them for the blessing which their long expectation unsatisfied had made them despair of. And are you and I better than they? May we find grace to bow the head and worship, and like them to be found in the path of obedience!
Now the awful stroke is felt: and what a midnight cry was heard in Egypt. See Exodus 4:22-23 . Reader! pause, spiritualize the history, for it is truly awful, and think what a midnight cry will be in the soul when God shall arise to shake terribly the earth! Psalms 96:6 .
Reader! connect this verse with Exodus 1:22 and when you have done this, see how sure, whatever men count slackness, the judgments of God are. But do not overlook the spiritual sense of this judgment. Alas! what are temporal visitations to eternal.
The prophet saith, let favour be showed to the wicked yet will he not learn righteousness. But when the Lord's judgments are in the earth the inhabitants of the world will learn righteousness. Isaiah 26:9-10 . Compare this conduct of Pharaoh's with what is related of him Exodus 10:28 .
Reader! did you never observe the fear and terror that there is a times in the ungodly at the sight of the godly? See that scripture, Genesis 31:52 .
Some men have been very fond of caviling at this, as if the Israelites robbed the Egyptians. But read that scripture, Psalms 105:37 compare Exodus 1:11-14 . And then judge righteous judgment.
Compare this with Genesis 46:27 then calculate the distance of time between those periods, not more than 200 years, and observe how the Lord's promise to Abraham was fulfilling. If the number of women and children were both together equal to the men, then were there no less an army that went up out of Egypt than twelve hundred thousand: beside the mixed multitude of strangers which accompanied them.
However poor this was a sweet morsel.
I beg the Reader to remark with me God's faithfulness. Not an hour beyond the time predicted to Abraham, Genesis 15:13 . There it is said, four hundred years, and here four hundred and thirty: but if the Reader will count back he will find the thirty years included, if calculated as it must be from the call of God to Abraham in the land of the Chaldees, Genesis 12:2 .
Observe what stress the Holy Ghost lays upon the exactness of the time, as if to show to man God's uprightness.
Seasons of mercy are precious seasons and worthy to be recorded. Judges 5:11 . Reader! do not overlook the spiritual sense of this mercy. If indeed you yourself know anything of a deliverance from a worse state than Egyptian bondage, even the bondage of sin and death, you will not need a memorandum from me, to tell you what a night of deliverance it was to be observed unto the Lord. Psalms 40:2-3 .
Let us pause to remark that in the old church, as well as in the new, there could be no communion with God without an union with Christ. 1 Corinthians 10:21 .
If we explain this by the gospel, Paul gives the sense of it. Colossians 2:11 .
Happy those that are as Paul hath described, Ephesians 2:20 .
The Holy Ghost hath sweetly caused this scripture to be explained in reference to the Lord Jesus. John 19:36 .
I think that here is set forth some early tokens of the Lord's love to the Gentile church. How sweetly since that time have the mercies towards that church been extended. Galatians 4:27 with Isaiah 54:1 .
The sacred historian feels himself so much delighted in recording those mercies that he knows not how to break off: but ends the chapter with again repeating them. So thought David, Psalms 108:1-3 . But with what additional rapture should we sing again and again of the blessings of spiritual redemption? Psalms 103:1-4; Psalms 103:1-4 .
Reader! you and I can hardly enough contemplate the Lord's goodness to Israel as recorded in this chapter; and never can we sufficiently adore the divine mercy, when we consider our interest in it. Oh! what a night of deliverance did the Lord work for them after the rigorous bondage of four hundred years! What a series of troubles he had supported them under, and brought them through, in defiance of all the oppressions of the enemy! And with what an high hand did he at length carry everything before them, when the moment of his salvation was come. Truly might their leader say, "It is a night much to be observed unto the Lord of all the children of Israel in their generations forever. This month shall be to you the beginning of months, the first month of the year." It is indeed a new month, a new year, new life, new privileges, new enjoyments. And well may everyone that reads the wonderful narration exclaim, What hath God wrought?
But, my Brother! while beholding Israel's emancipation from Egypt, let us seek grace to contemplate a still far greater deliverance, of which this was but the type; even the recovery of our poor fallen nature from under hellish bondage, by the glorious redemption of the Lord Jesus Christ. This is the night indeed, ever to be remembered by us, even the night of sin and death, in which we lay, when Jesus our Almighty Passover passed over the houses of his people, and carried ruin and destruction amidst all the enemies which held our souls in vassalage and in misery, Surely, we may well cry out with the Psalmist, O sing unto the Lord a new song: sing unto the Lord all the earth. Sing unto the Lord and praise his name: be telling of his salvation from day to day.
Dearest and ever blessed Jesus! since thou hast condescended to be our Passover, help us by the sweet influences of thine Holy Spirit to keep the feast, not in the old leaven, neither with the leaven of malice and wickedness, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth. And oh! let the blood of the everlasting covenant be sprinkled upon our hearts, that it may be our security from the condemning sentence of the law, and from all the dreadful evils of destruction consequent thereupon. Enable me by precious faith to feed upon thy precious body: and make it to be meat indeed, and thy blood drink indeed, to support and nourish me in my spiritual life. And grant that, like the believing Israelite, I may eat it with my loins girded about with truth, and my feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace. And like him also, with my staff in my hand ready to be gone and in haste to depart, that when thou shalt come, whether at midnight, or at cock-crowing, or in the morning, I may be found waiting thy approach, and go up with a high hand out of the spiritual Egypt of sin and death, to the possession of the everlasting Canaan of promise.
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Hawker, Robert, D.D. "Commentary on Exodus 12". "Hawker's Poor Man's Commentary". https://studylight.org/
the First Week of Advent