The redemptive truths of Passover

"When I see the blood, I will pass over you." (Exodus 12:13)

Torah reading 370 (photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem /The Jerusalem Post)
Torah reading 370
(photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem /The Jerusalem Post)
Early on, the Bible describes the fall of humanity through Adam’s disobedience and then begins revealing the unfolding plan of God to restore us to reconciled relationship with the Creator. Sin separated us from God and brought death into the world, but God offers a way back to Him.
The upcoming Passover holiday conveys key symbolic and substantive truths of God’s redemptive plan.
The purpose of animal sacrifices in the Tabernacle of Moses in the wilderness, and later on in the Temple in Jerusalem, was to provide a way of escape for the Israelites from the wrath of God, toward favor, protection, life and blessings.
Again and again, the failures and imperfections of the Israelites were transferred onto innocent animals to preserve human life. The guilty man had to bring an innocent animal to the priest, who then slaughtered it, placed its blood upon the altar and let the man go free. Death – the punishment due for sin because of God’s holy character – was thus removed from the guilty and placed upon the sacrifice.
Indeed, the Lord had said: “I have given it [the blood of the animal sacrifices] to you upon the altar to make atonement for your souls; for it is the blood that makes atonement for the soul.” (Leviticus 17:11) The great warning of God had been: “If you sin, you will surely die.”
However, men did sin and death did take place – but it was the death of an innocent animal. When God saw its blood, this was always the sign that His righteous requirements had been met, and He was now free and just in placing His blessings and protection upon His people! If any story in the whole Bible portrays the power of a blood sacrifice for sin in a narrative form, it is in the telling of the Exodus from Egypt.
Every Israelite household had to take a lamb without blemish and kill it at twilight (Exodus 12). The shed blood of the innocent lamb was then to be taken and put on the two doorposts and on the lintel of the houses.
For the Lord had proclaimed: “When I see the blood, I will pass over you.”
(Exodus 12:13) Every family living in the land of Egypt – both among the Egyptians and the Israelites alike – was in danger of having death enter into their household to rob their firstborn sons.
The judgment of God was about to fall on the land of Egypt because of their idol worship. Surprisingly, we read in the book of Ezekiel that the Israelites in Egypt had also fallen into the same snare and temptation of idol worship, and thus death was about to fall upon their families alike. (Ezekiel 20:7-10) But God provided a way of escape for His own people! The looming death sentence could be transferred onto an innocent lamb slaughtered on their behalf. Someone had to die as the consequence of their sins, but this someone was not the firstborn male in each family – but a male lamb. The sins and deserved death of each Israelite family were laid upon the lamb, and the life and innocence of the lamb was transferred upon the family.
When the angel of death was then passing through the land of Egypt, whenever he saw the lamb’s blood on the two doorposts of the Israelite families, he passed over. Death had already come in the sacrifice of the lamb – so death did not enter into these houses to strike a second time and the families inside were in complete safety! Only the Israelites had been told to act in this manner. The warning and instructions for saving their lives had come through the mouth of Moses and they had two-weeks’ time to heed the word of the Lord – and they lived! This proved to be life-saving knowledge for the whole nation of Israel, ending in their complete deliverance. Thus, the Passover story still carries great redemptive truths even today.
Rev. Juha Ketola is a Finnish minister who serves as international director for the International Christian Embassy Jerusalem;