Deuteronomy 16:1-6 The Passover
Deuteronomy 16:1-6 NLTse (1) “In honor of the LORD your God, celebrate the Passover each year in the early spring, in the month of Abib, for that was the month in which the LORD your God brought you out of Egypt by night. (2) Your Passover sacrifice may be from either the flock or the herd, and it must be sacrificed to theLORD your God at the designated place of worship–the place he chooses for his name to be honored. (3) Eat it with bread made without yeast. For seven days the breadyou eat must be made without yeast, as when you escaped from Egypt in such a hurry. Eat this bread–the bread of suffering–so that as long as you live you will remember the day you departed from Egypt. (4) Let no yeast be found in any house throughout your land for those seven days. And when you sacrifice the Passover lamb on the evening of the first day, do not let any of the meat remain until the next morning. (5) “You may not sacrifice the Passover in just any of the towns that the LORD your Godis giving you. (6) You must offer it only at the designated place of worship–the place the LORD your God chooses for his name to be honored. Sacrifice it there in the evening as the sun goes down on the anniversary of your exodus from Egypt.
God was very specific when He handed down instructions for the Passover celebration providing details including the specific date. The Bible is just as specific in recording Jesus’ crucifixion. Before the Passover celebration, Jesus knew that his hour had come to leave this world and return to his Father. He had loved his disciples during his ministry on earth, and now he loved them to the very end. Jesus‘ trial before Caiaphas ended in the early hours of the morning. Then he was taken to the headquarters of the Roman governor. His accusers didn’t go inside because it would defile them, and they wouldn’t be allowed to celebrate the Passover. It was now about noon on the day of preparation for the Passover. And Pilate said to the people, “Look, here is your king!” “Away with him,” they yelled. “Away with him! Crucify him!” “What? Crucify your king?” Pilate asked. “We have no king but Caesar,” the leading priests shouted back. Then Pilate turned Jesus over to them to be crucified. So they took Jesus away. Carrying the cross by himself, he went to the place called Place of the Skull (in Hebrew, Golgotha). There they nailed him to the cross. Two others were crucified with him, one on either side, with Jesus between them. Then answered all the people, and said, His blood be on us, and on our children. (John 13:1, 18:28, 19:14-18 NLTse, Matthew 27:25 KJV).
Another detail God repeated specifies that the sacrifice was to take place at a place He chooses for His name to be honored. How do these details relate to Jesus’ sacrifice on the Passover? There are a number of details to study which compare the Passover in relationship to Jesus’ sacrifice. Jesus explained the spiritual meaning of the bread. As they were eating, Jesus took some bread and blessed it. Then he broke it in pieces and gave it to the disciples, saying, “Take this and eat it, for this is my body.” (Matthew 26:26 NLTse). The absence of yeast was a symbol of Jesus’ perfect words and teaching. Why can’t you understand that I’m not talking about bread? So again I say, ‘Beware of the yeast of the Pharisees and Sadducees.'” Then at last they understood that he wasn’t speaking about the yeast in bread, but about the deceptive teaching of the Pharisees and Sadducees. (Matthew 16:11-12 NLTse). We learn more details about the Passover when we look back at the instructions given to Israel before leaving Egypt.
Exodus 12:1-14 NLTse While the Israelites were still in the land of Egypt, the LORD gave the following instructions to Moses and Aaron: (2) “From now on, this month will be the first month of the year for you. (3) Announce to the whole community of Israel that on the tenth day of this month each family must choose a lamb or a young goat for a sacrifice, one animal for each household. (4) If a family is too small to eat a whole animal, let them share with another family in the neighborhood. Divide the animal according to the size of each family and how much they can eat. (5) The animal you select must be a one-year-old male, either a sheep or a goat, with no defects. (6)“Take special care of this chosen animal until the evening of the fourteenth day of this first month. Then the whole assembly of the community of Israel must slaughter theirlamb or young goat at twilight. (7) They are to take some of the blood and smear it on the sides and top of the doorframes of the houses where they eat the animal. (8) That same night they must roast the meat over a fire and eat it along with bitter salad greens and bread made without yeast. (9) Do not eat any of the meat raw or boiled in water. The whole animal–including the head, legs, and internal organs–must be roasted over a fire. (10) Do not leave any of it until the next morning. Burn whatever is not eatenbefore morning. (11) “These are your instructions for eating this meal: Be fully dressed, wear your sandals, and carry your walking stick in your hand. Eat the meal with urgency, for this is the LORD’s Passover. (12) On that night I will pass through the land of Egypt and strike down every firstborn son and firstborn male animal in the land of Egypt. I will execute judgment against all the gods of Egypt, for I am the LORD! (13) But the blood on your doorposts will serve as a sign, marking the houses where you are staying. When I see the blood, I will pass over you. This plague of death will not touch you when I strike the land of Egypt. (14) “This is a day to remember. Each year, from generation to generation, you must celebrate it as a special festival to the LORD. This is a law for all time.
The first detail we see in Exodus 12 is. each family choose a perfect lamb and cared for it from the tenth to the fourteenth day of the first month. How does this relate to Jesus’ ministry? What did He teach during that time? In essence, the family taking special care of the lamb had time to develop a relationship with the animal chosen for the sacrifice. What does this tell us about Jesus? Does this show Jesus’ need to develop relationships before He offered Himself as a sacrifice for our sins?
As the head of the household, the priest of the family prepared to cut the neck of the lamb. He must have thought about his children who cared for the lamb. What were they going to think when they saw the lamb they helped pick out and cared for during the past few days sitting on the dinner table? The children fell in love with the innocent face. They loved feeding, watering and hugging the little lamb. As the head of the household looked into the face of the lamb, he saw the innocence of his children. He thought to himself how could he kill such a tender creature. Why would God ask him to do such a thing? As he held the lamb tight to his body watching its blood flow into a bowl until all went limp, he tried to find the right words so he could explain to his children what was happening.
Why does God explain one detail at a time? If you ever study the Bible while paying close attention to the sequence of events and lessons taught, you will notice, God has a habit of revealing details of His plan one step at a time. Why does He do that? Why doesn’t God just tell us everything at once? Remember your last romance? How did that begin? Did you turn to the one who captured your heart and say, “tell me your life story in two hours?” Of course not. You learned one detail after another over an extended period of time. For some reason, God chose to begin His relationship with us through His written Word. Like any relationship, God wants us to learn about Him one step at a time. As Israel crossed the wilderness, God revealed one detail after another in the symbols used in His Tabernacles, His Word, and experiences during their travels. The Bible can’t be read like a novel. The student of God’s Word has to let His Spirit reveal deeper details after simple concepts are mastered.
As I prayed about this story, I asked God to show me details we had not studied before. There was one detail He showed me. It was the relationship between the death plague in Egypt and the Passover when Jesus was crucified. After compiling a number of studies on the Passover, I knew this was one I never looked at before, nor have I read or heard anyone explaining these specific details. As I prayed I could see how a number of texts explained the relationship between the first Passover in Egypt and the last in Jerusalem. This led me back to Moses announcing the first Passover.
Exodus 11:4-7 NLTse Moses had announced to Pharaoh, “This is what the LORD says: At midnight tonight I will pass through the heart of Egypt. (5) All the firstborn sonswill die in every family in Egypt, from the oldest son of Pharaoh, who sits on his throne, to the oldest son of his lowliest servant girl who grinds the flour. Even thefirstborn of all the livestock will die. (6) Then a loud wail will rise throughout the land of Egypt, a wail like no one has heard before or will ever hear again. (7) But among the Israelites it will be so peaceful that not even a dog will bark. Then you will know that the LORD makes a distinction between the Egyptians and the Israelites.
I asked, why would God take Egypt’s first born, and what does the death of Egypt’s firstborn sons have to do with the last Passover? Egypt rebelled against God. When Moses met with the brother he grew up with, Pharaoh answered, “And who is the LORD? Why should I listen to him and let Israel go? I don’t know the LORD, and I will not let Israel go.” (Exodus 5:2 NLTse). It was evident, Pharaoh didn’t know God. Just as evident as the priests who questioned Jesus at His trial. But Jesus was silent and made no reply. Then the high priest asked him, “Are you the Messiah, the Son of the Blessed One?” Jesus said, “I AM. And you will see the Son of Man seated in the place of power at God’s right hand and coming on the clouds of heaven.” Then the high priest tore his clothing to show his horror and said, “Why do we need other witnesses? You have all heard his blasphemy. What is your verdict?” “Guilty!” they all cried. “He deserves to die!” (Mark 14:61-64 NLTse).
The most striking parallel is seen in the simple word, “son.” Egypt lost their first born sons. How did this event in the first Passover point to a greater fulfillment in the last Passover? Was there a loss of the firstborn son during the Passover when Jesus rested in the grave. Were there people not covered by the blood Jesus shed? As I prayed, I felt there was a connection. I was not prepared to find the connection I found in the Bible.
“Look, I have chosen the Levites from among the Israelites to serve as substitutes for all the firstborn sons of the people of Israel. The Levites belong to me, for all thefirstborn males are mine. On the day I struck down all the firstborn sons of the Egyptians, I set apart for myself all the firstborn in Israel, both of people and of animals. They are mine; I am the LORD.” (Numbers 3:12-13 NLTse).
“Take the Levites as substitutes for the firstborn sons of the people of Israel. And take the livestock of the Levites as substitutes for the firstborn livestock of the people of Israel. The Levites belong to me; I am the LORD. (Numbers 3:45 NLTse).
“Of all the people of Israel, the Levites are reserved for me. I have claimed them for myself in place of all the firstborn sons of the Israelites; I have taken the Levites as their substitutes. For all the firstborn males among the people of Israel are mine, both of people and of animals. I set them apart for myself on the day I struck down all thefirstborn sons of the Egyptians. Yes, I have claimed the Levites in place of all the firstborn sons of Israel. And of all the Israelites, I have assigned the Levites to Aaron and his sons. They will serve in the Tabernacle on behalf of the Israelites and make sacrifices to purify the people so no plague will strike them when they approach the sanctuary.” (Numbers 8:16-19 NLTse).
When Israel turned down God’s offer to become a kingdom of priests, God temporarily altered His plan of salvation. And ye shall be unto me a kingdom of priests, and anholy nation. These are the words which thou shalt speak unto the children of Israel. (Exodus 19:6 KJV). At first it seemed like an attractive offer. What could go wrong when a nation unanimously chooses to follow God? And all the people answered together, and said, All that the LORD hath spoken we will do. And Moses returned the words of the people unto the LORD. (Exodus 19:8 KJV). But after God introduced His ten commandments, laws His Kingdom is expected to follow, they immediately changed their minds. And all the people saw the thunderings, and the lightnings, and the noise of the trumpet, and the mountain smoking: and when the people saw it, they removed, and stood afar off. And they said unto Moses, Speak thou with us, and we will hear: but let not God speak with us, lest we die. (Exodus 20:18-19 KJV). Instead of proceeding with the original plan, God chose the Levites from among the Israelites to serve as substitutes for all the firstborn sons of the people of Israel. God already had a plan B which made the priests God’s first born sons. Notice how the word substitute is repeated. This was never intended to be a permanent replacement, but a temporarily substitute. Little did anyone at the time know how the priests would pretend not to know Jesus, to the same degree Pharaoh insisted not to know God. What are the parallels between Pharaoh’s oppression and the priest’s form of slavery enforced on Israel during Jesus’ days? Israel’s priests weren’t the only people against Jesus. No matter how hard Jesus tried to reach the priests, many of them refused to believe.
Acts 4:10-12 NLTse Let me clearly state to all of you and to all the people of Israel that he was healed by the powerful name of Jesus Christ the Nazarene, the man you crucified but whom God raised from the dead. (11) For Jesus is the one referred to in the Scriptures, where it says, ‘The stone that you builders rejected has now become the cornerstone.’ (12) There is salvation in no one else! God has given no other name under heaven by which we must be saved.”
Acts 4:24-28 NLTse When they heard the report, all the believers lifted their voices together in prayer to God: “O Sovereign Lord, Creator of heaven and earth, the sea, and everything in them– (25) you spoke long ago by the Holy Spirit through our ancestor David, your servant, saying, ‘Why were the nations so angry? Why did they waste their time with futile plans? (26) The kings of the earth prepared for battle; the rulers gathered together against the LORD and against his Messiah.’ (27) “In fact, this has happened here in this very city! For Herod Antipas, Pontius Pilate the governor, the Gentiles, and the people of Israel were all united against Jesus, your holy servant, whom you anointed. (28) But everything they did was determined beforehand according to your will.
When the priest’s put Jesus on the cross, time ran out on God’s plan B, which was placed all the responsibility on the Levites. It was a plan Israel felt comfortable with, but turned out as well as their request for a king. Both turned out to be nothing but thorns in the side of most people. Time proved how much power can corrupt. The time came for God to reintroduce His original plan. You are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvelous light: (1 Peter 2:9 KJV).
The last Passover marked the death of God’s chosen firstborn son, the priesthood. They proved to be as corrupt and controlling as Pharaoh in Egypt. The priests took God’s simple law, rewriting it, introducing their own concepts, manipulating God’s law for their own benefit until the law and priesthood served nothing but their greed. Their sacrificial system served their lust for money. They considered total control their destiny. The spirit of revenge coupled with an appetite for more power shaped their interpretation of prophecies pointing to the Messiah. Jesus warned them, they reached a point only seen before the destruction of the world by the flood and Sodom by fire. When Jesus fulfilled all the prophecies pointing to His sacrifice, the priests could no longer be trusted with the message the world needed to hear. A change had to be made. When the priests rejected Jesus, they rejected the covering protection of His blood. God’s chosen firstborn son died on the last Passover.
So get rid of all evil behavior. Be done with all deceit, hypocrisy, jealousy, and all unkind speech. Like newborn babies, you must crave pure spiritual milk so that you will grow into a full experience of salvation. Cry out for this nourishment, now that you have had a taste of the Lord’s kindness. You are coming to Christ, who is the living cornerstone of God’s temple. He was rejected by people, but he was chosen by God for great honor. And you are living stones that God is building into his spiritual temple. What’s more, you are his holy priests. Through the mediation of Jesus Christ, you offer spiritual sacrifices that please God. (1 Peter 2:1-5 NLTse).