Throughout the old covenant the ancient event of the Passover was remembered and celebrated as God’s salvation brought to believing Israel. Perhaps unsurprisingly the Passover feast became Israel’s most important festival. A clear marker of His grace, the Passover not only pointed back to God’s rescue feat but, in a somewhat concealed fashion, also pointed forwards to an even greater redemptive feat that was to come.
We see the first Passover feast take place amidst the backdrop of a tenth and final plague to be brought upon Egypt – the death of every firstborn (Exodus 11:4-5). The central purpose of the Passover was to provide a way for the Israelites to escape the angel of death which was to inflict this tenth plague. Marking doorposts and lintels of houses with lambs blood was that escape plan. Did this mean that God needed some help with recalling who lived where?
The answer of course is an emphatic NO. However, it does indicate that had not the Israelites followed this plan, the angel of death would have killed all firstborns indiscriminately, including Israelites. The deeper spiritual reality here for the Israelites to grasp was that they were actually indistinguishable from the Egyptians as they too were sinners. And therein lies the heart of the human crisis that has plagued every person then and ever since – all have committed wrongs that displease God our Maker; we all fall way short of God’s purity (Romans 6:23) and the bible tells us that the consequence of this is death (Romans 6:23). But God didn’t leave this as the final curtain call.
On that Passover night the marking of blood on the front door communicated that death had already been rendered in that household albeit via a substitute victim (a male lamb). As such judgement over sin was satisfied for that household and the angel of death could inflict no harm over the inhabitants. That saving substitute lamb was a foreshadowing of an even better future substitute that would take away the penalty for ALL sins for ALL of time for ALL that place their trust in this substitute. And the substitute? The Lamb of God – God’s very own Son, Jesus Christ who although innocent of sin would pour out his own blood on wooden posts, paying the penalty of death for mankind’s sins (John 1:29; Hebrews 9:12; I Corinthians 15:3-4).
Besides putting blood on doors, the Israelites were prohibited from using leaven (Exodus 12: 18-20). This may seem particularly odd, bearing in mind that leaven is useful rather than harmful. In the context of scripture though leaven is symbolic for a prevalent influence, and although this being sometimes good such as the kingdom of God, it’s at times bad, such as in this case where it indicates sin.
Israel was saved by faith alone in God’s grace alone but they still had to take responsibility in putting away all sinful patterns of behaviour rather than allowing sin to fester and as such grow rampant in their lives. As believers in Christ we’re fully forgiven and saved from the penalty of our sins, though we too have the responsibility to put away any sinful ways that we walk in, no matter how alluring or beneficial they appear. Today as a believer you can take joy in knowing that Jesus Christ is your Passover lamb that frees you from divine judgement of sins and empowers you to live for God and put away all sins that come against this.