§ 237 “God has left traces of his Trinitarian being in his work of creation and in his Revelation throughout the Old Testament.”
The Passover In Egypt
The True God of Israel Conquered Egypt’s False Gods
The Passover story begins as all true stories begin, with God. This one begins with the ten plagues by which God showed his authority over Egypt’s false gods. “On all the gods of Egypt I will execute judgments” Ex 12:12. Blood Ex 7:20 destroyed Egypt’s Nile River gods. Frogs Ex 8:6 destroyed Ptha, Egypt’s frog-head god. Gnats Ex 8:17 destroyed Egypt’s god of insects and earth. Flies Ex 8:24 destroyed Egypt’s gods of flies and beetles. Cattle Ex 9:6 destroyed Egypt’s gods of cattle and rams. Boils Ex 9:10 destroyed Egypt’s gods of healing and medicine. Hail Ex 9:23 destroyed Egypt’s sky god and goddess. Locusts Ex 10:13 destroyed Egypt’s agriculture god and goddess. Darkness Ex 10:22 destroyed Egypt’s sun god Ra.
Above all, the Egyptians worshiped Pharaoh as a god. His first-born son was “made divine” in a special ceremony. Our Father completed his destruction of the Egyptian gods by killing Pharaoh’s first-born. Pharaoh had ordered the death of all Israel’s male children. “When you serve as midwife to the Hebrew women, and see them upon the birth stool, if it is a son, you shall kill him; but if it is a daughter, she shall live” Ex 1:16 God returned the punishment for the tenth plague. “For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and the measure you give will be the measure you get” Mt 7:2 “About midnight I will go forth in the midst of Egypt; and all the first-born in the land of Egypt shall die, from the first-born of Pharaoh who sits upon his throne, even to the first-born of the maidservant who is behind the mill; and all the first-born of the cattle. And there shall be a great cry throughout all the land of Egypt, such as there has never been, nor ever shall be again. But against any of the people of Israel, either man or beast, not a dog shall growl; that you may know that the Lord makes a distinction between the Egyptians and Israel” Ex 11:4-7.
The Lord did make a distinction between the Egyptians and Israel, provided Israel obeyed his directions. We recall that Abram accepted the eternal election and became a Hebrew Gen 14:13 by crossing over from doing his own will to doing God’s will. God said, “When I see the blood.” Ex 12:13. If he did not see the lamb’s blood on the doorposts and lintel as he had commanded Israel, he would hold that household pagan, and its firstborn would die as a pagan. God had killed the first-born in each disobedient household of Israel because he held each Israelite first-born sacred. “Consecrate to me all the first-born; whatever is the first to open the womb among the people of Israel, both of man and of beast, is mine” Ex 13:2.
The Body and Blood of the Sacrificed Lamb
God commanded Moses and Aaron, “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 they shall take every man a lamb according to their fathers’ houses, a lamb for a household” Ex 12:2-3. God commanded, “Your lamb shall be without blemish, a male a year old” Ex 12:5. The lamb had to be perfect, completely free of defects, reminding us that, “The LORD had regard for Abel and his offering, but for Cain and his offering he had no regard” Gen 4:4-5. And it had to be a male in its prime.
Then God commanded, “You shall keep it until the fourteenth day of this month, when the whole assembly of the congregation of Israel shall kill their lambs in the evening” Ex 12:6. The father of each household had to sacrifice the lamb for his family. In ancient Israel only a priest could offer sacrifice to God. At the time of the first Passover, Israel was “a kingdom of priests” Ex 19:6. so men from all twelve tribes could sacrifice the Passover lamb. “Noah built an altar to the Lord” Gen 8:20. “[Abram] built there an altar to the Lord” Gen 12:7 “Abraham built an altar there, and laid the wood in order, and bound Isaac his son, and laid him on the altar, upon the wood” Gen 22:9.
God commanded, “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 them” Ex 12:7. God himself, not an angel, killed Egypt’s firstborn. “I will pass through the land of Egypt that night, and I will smite all the first-born in the land of Egypt, both man and beast; and on all the gods of Egypt I will execute judgments: I am the LORD” Ex 12:12. He knew the homes the Israelites lived in. But he declared, “When I see the blood” Ex 12:13. He explained, “For the life of the flesh is in the blood; and I have given it for you upon the altar to make atonement for your souls; for it is the blood that makes atonement, by reason of the life” Lev 17:11.
God then commanded, “They shall eat the flesh that night, roasted; with unleavened bread and bitter herbs they shall eat it” Ex 12:8. The Passover sacrifice was not completed by killing the lamb, but by eating its flesh.
The original Passover was a todah sacrifice, a thank offering Lev 7:12. Israel was exceedingly grateful to the Lord for having led them out of Egypt. When God gave Moses the Torah for his people they were again exceedingly thankful, declaring as one, “All that the Lord has spoken we will do, and we will be obedient” Ex 24:7. And Moses sealed the covenant between God and Israel in blood: “Moses took the blood and threw it upon the people, and said, “Behold the blood of the covenant which the LORD has made with you in accordance with all these words” Ex 24:8. Then the chief men of Israel “beheld God, and ate and drank Ex 24:11. To this day we celebrate the todah offering every Sunday morning. When the priest declares, “Let us give thanks to the Lord our God,” we reply, “It is right and just.” The last words spoken during our celebration are, “Thanks be to God.”
The Passover sacrifice was for God’s covenant family. God told Moses and Aaron, “This is the ordinance of the passover: no foreigner shall eat of it” Ex 12:43.
A Day of Remembrance Forever
God commanded Israel, “This day shall be for you a day of remembrance, and you shall keep it as a feast to the LORD; throughout your generations you shall observe it as an ordinance for ever” Ex 12:14. He repeated for emphasis: “You shall observe this rite as an ordinance for you and your sons for ever” Ex 12:24. It was one of three. God commanded Israel: “Three times in the year you shall keep a feast to me. You shall keep the feast of unleavened bread; as I commanded you, you shall eat unleavened bread for seven days at the appointed time in the month of Abib, for in it you came out of Egypt. None shall appear before me empty-handed. …” Ex 23:14-15. Each year in the spring, on the fourteenth day of nisan, God’s people Israel were to take from their flocks an unblemished lamb, sacrifice the lamb, spread its blood on their doorposts and lintels, and consume the lamb’s flesh with “unleavened bread and bitter herbs” Ex 12:8; Num 9:11.
Passover In Jerusalem
As the centuries passed, the celebration of Passover changed. After the finding of Deuteronomy in the time of King Josiah all of the Passover sacrifices had to be done in “the place which the LORD your God will choose.” Deut 12:5. That was the Temple in Jerusalem. When the time of the Passover approached, the shlikhim asked, “Where will you have us prepare for you to eat the passover?” Mt 26:17. Rabbi Yeshua told them what to do, and they prepared for his Passover in the Upper Room.
Each Jew Participates Today in the Original Passover
Moses told Israel, “And you shall tell your son on that day, ‘It is because of what the LORD did for me when I came out of Egypt.’” Mishna Pesahim 10:5E explains, “In every generation a person is duty-bound to regard himself as if he personally has gone forth from Egypt, since it is said, And you shall tell your son in that day saying, It is because of that which the Lord did for me when I came forth out of Egypt (Ex. 13:8). Therefore we are duty-bound to thank, praise, glorify, honor, exalt, extol, and bless him who did for our forefathers and for us all these miracles. He brought us forth from slavery to freedom, anguish to joy, mourning to festival, darkness to great light, subjugation to redemption, so we should say before him, Hallelujah.”
Passover was therefore not simply a celebration of what God had done in the past. Rather, the Jews in Rabbi Yeshua’s time saw God’s original Passover on that first fourteenth day of nisan, with themselves personally sacrificing the lamb, daubing its blood on the doorposts and lintels, and consuming its flesh as they prepared to journey out of Egypt to Mt. Sinai for their appointment with the living God on the sixth day of the month iyar as mysteriously brought forward to the present day.
Hebrew has a word for this, zakhor, “Remember.” Zakhor does not bring us back to the original event, but rather brings the original event forward in time to this very hour. God commanded on Mt. Sinai, “Remember [zakhor] the sabbath day, to keep it holy” Ex 20:8. Jews don’t think back to when God completed his creation in six days so he ceased [zakhor] creating on the seventh day Gen 2:3. They remember the sabbath day to keep it holy. Today, this sabbath, is the sabbath that God blessed and sanctified.
Mishna Pesahim 5:9 tells us the lamb carcasses were ordinarily hung and flayed by setting iron hooks into the walls and pillars. For those who did not have space for hanging and flaying their carcasses there were “thin smooth poles, and one would one end on his shoulder and another on the shoulder of his fellow, and [thereon] hang and flay the carcass.” Pesahim 7:1 explains how the Passover offerings were roasted. “They bring a spit of pomegranate wood, and stick it through [the carcass] from the mouth to the buttocks.” St. Justin Martyr, in his Dialogue with Trypho the Jew, § 40, writes, “For the lamb, which is roasted, is roasted and dressed up in the form of the cross. For one spit is transfixed right through from the lower parts up to the head, and one across the back, to which are attached the legs of the lamb.”
Rabbi Yeshua must have seen many Passover lambs “crucified” in the Temple as he knew he would soon be crucified by the pouring out of his own blood Lev 17:11 and hanging on the wooden beams of a Roman cross.
In National Revelation, in Rabbi Yeshua’s time, we find God’s command that Pesakh, Shavuot, and Sukkot Ex 23:14-15 become pilgrimage festivals. On these three pilgrim festivals every Jewish man had to travel from wherever he lived to the Temple in Jerusalem. God commanded, “You may not offer the passover sacrifice within any of your towns which the LORD your God gives you; but at the place which the LORD your God will choose, to make his name dwell in it, there you shall offer the passover sacrifice, in the evening at the going down of the sun” Deut 16:5-6.
Each year at Passover, Jewish men had to bring their lambs to the Temple and give them to an ordained Temple priest for sacrifice. There had to be an interior sacrifice. “For I desire steadfast love and not sacrifice, the knowledge of God, rather than burnt offerings” Hos 6:6. Rabbi Yeshua three times asked Kefa in Aramaic, ahavtani, “Do you love me?” Jn 21:15, 16, 17. He allowed Kefa to replace his triple denial with a triple affirmation that he did indeed love the Sacrificed Lamb.
Josephus, in his Wars of the Jews,, 6:423-25, sets the scene: “So these high priests, upon the coming of their feast which is called the Passover, when they slay their sacrifices, from the ninth hour till the eleventh, but so that a company not less than ten belong to every sacrifice (for it is not lawful for them to feast singly by themselves), and many of us are twenty in a company, found the number of sacrifices was two hundred and fifty-six thousand five hundred; which, upon the allowance of no more than ten that feast together, amounts to two million seven hundred thousand and two hundred persons that were pure and holy.”
God had said that the Passover was first a sacrifice and then a feast. “You shall keep it until the fourteenth day of this month, when the whole assembly of the congregation of Israel shall kill their lambs in the evening” Ex 12:6. “They shall eat the flesh that night” Ex 12:8. More than two hundred fifty thousand lambs! Each Jew who saw that staggering amount of blood absolutely knew that Passover was first a sacrifice and then a feast.
The rest of the story is told in the Temple Miracles and the Ordinance Forever.