The Passover

Pilgrims and Peace.

Exodus 12:1-13.

Jehovah's communications to Moses were to the effect that He would bring Israel out of Egypt (Exodus 3:8), and bring them into the land of Canaan, not merely releasing them, but having a definite purpose and place before Him for the redeemed nation. In chapter 6:7 is added to this, "I will take you to me for a people," thus going beyond the former undertaking, which only involved a transfer from one place to another, in adding the announcement that they were destined to be Jehovah's portion and people, than which there could be no higher earthly blessing. For us it is in still higher measure as predestinated "unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to Himself" (Eph. 1:5), and "all things are of God, who hath reconciled us to Himself by Jesus Christ." (2 Cor. 5:18.)

In the progress of God's accomplishment of this purpose, ten desolating judgments were sent by Him, the remarkable characteristic of all, except the last, being that Jehovah's people were exempted from them, shewing the discriminating power of His judgments in excluding them from these terrible visitations of His anger.

Chapter 10 is somewhat different, and probably for this reason; viz., that the judgment of death is universal; "the wages of sin is death," "sin entered … and death by sin." Death reigned throughout the land of Egypt, including the land of Goshen, on that appalling night, but in the latter place in a remarkable form; viz., substitutionally. The vindication of God's righteousness is made good, either personally upon the Egyptian, type of the unsaved soul, or by substitution upon Israel, through the medium of the Passover Lamb; Israel being the type of the believer, for whom the Lamb of God has borne the judgment of death; "for even Christ our Passover is sacrificed for us." (1 Cor. 5:7.)

In Exodus 12 we have certain cardinal points linked together by Jehovah, as either constituting or accompanying redemption, any of which being ignored, redemption at this stage loses its complete divine character.

The first, as has been noted, is substitution, in which of course the perfection and death of the victim are the principal thoughts. Following this, appropriation of that death, as when Israel ate of the lamb, "not raw, but "roast with fire; and unleavened bread and with bitter herbs they shall eat it"; that is, we have here expressed in type, the believer's spiritual apprehension of the atoning sufferings of Christ (personally the unleavened One, as in 2 Cor. 5:21), together with bitterness of soul, under the figure of bitter herbs, in connecting his sins with the sufferings of God's Lamb upon Calvary's cross. This is figuratively appropriated in the fact of the Israelites eating within the lamb whose blood on the door posts and lintel sheltered them from the destroying angel. But thus protected, and having appropriated the death that delivered, there was a special and important character, in which on that momentous night Jehovah required that Israel should appear before Him; viz., as pilgrims: "Thus shall ye eat it (verse 11) with your loins girded, your shoes on your feet, and your staff in your hand"; that is, God identifies the pilgrim character with His redeemed people, from the first moment that they come under the shelter of the blood. Solemn and important fact for believers, for us, who, though we may not and cannot in a sense forget that we are sheltered by the blood (that being a positive cause of relief from the pressure of judgment upon our consciences) are in immense danger of forgetting the pilgrim character, which is inseparably bound up in God's thoughts with redemption. The reason is, that, in contrast to the relief of knowing we are safe, this calls for a path which constitutes exercises and difficulties throughout its whole extent. Nevertheless we are not, whether younger or older in the faith, in the current of the divine mind as to redemption, or in the pathway that leads to the discovery of heavenly resources in an earthly scene, unless voluntarily this pilgrim character is taken up; and that as distinct from its being enforced by God. For since for Him we are only and truly pilgrims here, He will by pressure of circumstances, if needed, teach us with sorrow and loss to ourselves that it is the only character suited to the scene in which He leaves us temporarily, which will explain 'the character of God's dealings with many of His own.

But if thus pilgrims at the outset, and for the future, Israel were also intended to be in the unclouded enjoyment of peace with Jehovah, in view of the solemn fact of His judgment against evil; a peace measured, as to its practical realisation, by the faith and confidence each individually possessed in Jehovah's word, "When I see the blood I will pass over you." No shadow of doubt need darken the blood-sprinkled houses, for Jehovah's word was pledged, and the lamb was of His own special ordering. Happy Israelite! In the midst of devastating judgment, kept in perfect peace. "At midnight … a great cry … not a house where there was not one dead"; but where the blood rested, whether faith was weak or strong, there was perfect security from the sword of the destroying angel; and this too is the privilege of every believer now, in a scene under sentence of God's judgment, enjoying unclouded peace with God, on higher ground, in fuller relationship, than that on which Israel stood to God. Thus the pilgrim character, and peace with Jehovah were linked very beautifully together, while both were identified with protection, the whole being founded on substitution; and afterwards, when Israel failed as pilgrims, Jehovah would remind them often of that wonderful redemption, the first step of which assured them of peace with Him.

It is well to note also the place which the hyssop has, and its apparent typical meaning. It is unmentioned by God in His instructions to Moses, for the value of the blood before Him was all to Him, but when Moses communicates the divine mind to Israel, doubtless with divine approval, in touching upon the detail of how the blood is to be sprinkled, he instructs Israel to take a bunch of hyssop. (v. 22.)

Looking at it as typifying the obedience of faith (the peace within, already considered, suggesting the joy of faith), it is scarcely credible that an Israelite could have been found who was more occupied with the feeble instrument (1 Kings 4:33), by means of which he conformed to Jehovah's requirements that the blood should be put upon the doorposts and lintel, than with the blood itself and Jehovah's word as to it. Neither the quality nor the quantity of the hyssop would enter into his mind as a matter to be for one moment occupied with. Yet, alas! how many there are in this so-called Christian age, who, while assured that it is the "blood that maketh atonement for the soul," are week after week, month after month, year after year, engrossed in an unhappy occupation with the quality and quantity of their faith. How often such a remark as this escapes the lips of one long exercised about salvation: "Alas! my faith is not as strong or clear as I could desire." What would you think, dear friend - for it is for such especially I comment on this - of an Israelite, when encouraged by another to have full confidence in the blood of the lamb and the word of Jehovah, replying, "Alas! my bunch of hyssop is not of the quality or quantity I could desire." Would not he receive for answer, "Foolish man, hath not Jehovah said, 'The blood [not the hyssop] shall be a token to you upon your house'; and again, 'When I see the blood [not the hyssop] I will pass over you '

How beautiful the simplicity of God's word as to what faith really is: "He that hath received His testimony hath set to his seal that God is true." (John 3:33.) This was simply and only what Israel did; no activity of theirs, though activity there was in exercised consciences, in obedience to Jehovah's directions, and in trusting faith, for a moment obscured the fact for them, that all depended upon Jehovah being as good as His word; and as the obedience of faith led up to the joy of faith then, so now the one who has "set to his seal that God is true," and only this one, has the joy that is connected with unqualified trust in God's word. "Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ." (Rom. 5:1,) M. C. G.