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Bible Commentaries
Exodus 12

Gaebelein's Annotated BibleGaebelein's Annotated

Verses 1-51

5. Redemption by Blood, the Passover and the Law of the Firstborn

CHAPTER 12 The Passover Instituted and Kept, the Death of the Firstborn and the Exodus

1. The Passover instituted and the feast of unleavened bread (Exodus 12:1-20 )

2. The command given to the people and obeyed (Exodus 12:21-28 )

3. The death of the firstborn in Egypt (Exodus 12:29-30 )

4. The departure of the children of Israel (Exodus 12:31-36 )

5. From Rameses to Succoth (Exodus 12:37-39 )

6. The fulfillment of the 430 years (Exodus 12:40-42 )

7. The ordinance of the Passover (Exodus 12:43-51 )

This is the birth chapter of Israel as a nation. The birth pangs are about over and the deliverance is at hand. The first thing announced is the change of the year (verses 1, 2). A new beginning is made with the deliverance out of the house of bondage; the past is left behind and blotted out. This is typical of the new birth of the individual. The month which marks this new beginning is Abib, the “green ear” month, because the corn was then in the ear. After the captivity it was called Nissan (Nehemiah 2:1 ; Esther 3:7 ). It is our April.

Verses 1-14 give the instructions concerning the Passover, and verses 15-20 those concerning the feast of unleavened bread. The Passover Lamb is a most blessed type of the Lord Jesus Christ in His work. He is the Lamb of God and our Passover (John 1:29 ; 1 Corinthians 5:6-7 ; 1 Peter 1:18-19 ). The chapter is extremely rich in typical foreshadowing and spiritual truth. The spotless character of our Lord is indicated in that the lamb had to be without blemish. Taken out, separated, and a male; all has a meaning. For four days the lamb had to be set aside before it was to be killed. This was done to discover if there would be a flaw, some defect in it, which would unfit the lamb for the sacrifice. Here we are reminded of the four Gospel records in which the holy, spotless life of Him is told out who gave His life for a ransom. The lamb was to be killed by the whole congregation, even as it was with Christ. It was to be killed “between the evenings.” That is between noon and the night, the afternoon; that is when Christ died. And what more could we say of the roasting with fire and other instructions, which all foreshadow the death and suffering of the Lamb of God? We call attention to the fact that Satan did not want to have the Lord Jesus put to death on the Passover feast. Satan knew He was the true Lamb, and he tried to prevent His death at the predicted time (Matthew 26:5 ; Mark 14:2 ). But the Lamb of God, the true Passover, died at the very time appointed, thus fulfilling the Scriptures. The shedding of the blood and its application is the prominent thing in the Passover. The word “pesach” means to “pass through,” and “to pass over.” God passed through Egypt in judgment; it was also liable to fall upon the people Israel . They were guilty before God and had deserved the same judgment which was about to fall upon Egypt . But Jehovah provided a sacrifice and in the shed blood a shelter and complete deliverance. The blood secured all they needed as a sinful people and as it was sprinkled in obedience to Jehovah’s command perfect peace and rest was obtained. “When I see the blood, I will pass over you.” The blood was the token for Jehovah. They were not to see the blood, but He in passing through saw the blood. Faith in what Jehovah had said and what had been done gave peace to all in the dwellings. The blood of Christ is thus blessedly foreshadowed. Peace has been made in the blood of the cross. Upon the Lamb of God, the holy Substitute, the sentence of death was executed and now whenever God sees the blood there He passes by, no more condemnation, but perfect justification. Wherever there is faith in the blood, there is the enjoyment of perfect peace. The blood of the Lamb and the assuring word of Jehovah, “When I see the blood I will pass over you,” were the solid foundations of Israel ‘s shelter and peace in that awful night of death and judgment. And they are our solid foundations too. We quote helpful words from another.

“While outside the house the blood of atonement spoke to God, to whom it was addressed; inside He provided that which was to satisfy them, and enable them for that path with Him upon which they were now so shortly to go forth. The lamb is theirs to feed upon, and God is bent upon their enjoying this provision of His love. The lamb, too, must all of it be eaten. If the household were too little for the lamb (we read nothing of the lamb being too little for the house), then, says the Lord, let him and his neighbor next unto his house take it. God would have Christ apprehended by us. He would have our souls sustained, and He would have Christ honored. We are to eat--to appropriate to ourselves what Christ is; and what we appropriate becomes, in fact, part and parcel of ourselves. This laying hold of Christ by faith makes Christ to be sustenance indeed to us, and Himself to be reproduced in us.

“Death God ordains as the food of life; and it is as sheltered and saved from death that we can feed upon death. It is not merely vanquished and set aside; it is in the cross the sweet and wonderful display of divine power and love in our behalf, accomplished in the mystery of human weakness. Death is become the food of life, and the life is life eternal.” (Numerical Bible, Vol. 1, p. 172.)

The eating of the Passover lamb (Exodus 12:9-11 ) is full of meaning. It is the type of feeding upon Christ, occupation with His blessed Person. And that is what we need to keep our feet in the way of peace.

The feast of unleavened bread is mentioned next. Leaven means corruption; it is the type of sin. The lesson of holiness, which God looks for in His redeemed people, is here before us. The old leaven must be purged out. The leaven of malice and wickedness must be put away (1 Corinthians 5:6-8 ). We are delivered from the power of indwelling sin. Saved by grace our calling is to holiness. Spiritually to keep the feast of unleavened bread means to live in the energy of the new nature and that is the walk in the Spirit. The bitter herbs mentioned in Exodus 12:8 with the unleavened bread speak of self-denial and self-judgment. The terrible judgment fell that fourteenth day, or between the fourteenth and fifteenth day of Abib. All Jehovah had announced in judgment was literally carried out. There was not a house where there was not one dead. So God will yet put all His predicted judgments for this age into execution and a hardened world will find out the truth of His word.

Then the Exodus took place, and they left with the riches of the Egyptians. The whole experience of Israel in Egypt and their deliverance is typical of their coming final and glorious deliverance.

From Rameses (city of the sun) the city of earthly splendor, they went to Succoth, which means “booths.” There pilgrim character is now brought out. The wilderness begins. Redemption by blood makes us pilgrims and strangers, for we are no longer of the world, though we are in it. The mixed multitude came along. They were Egyptians stirred up by the mighty judgment events, which had taken place (Numbers 11:4 ; Nehemiah 13:3 ). They became a snare to the Israelites.

A word on Exodus 12:40 and Exodus 12:41 will terminate these brief annotations of this remarkable chapter. The 430 years’ sojourning does not mean that it was 430 years since Jacob and his sons had come to Egypt . “The selfsame day” means the fifteenth day of the seventh month; it was the day on which Abraham left Ur to go forth in obedience to the divine command.

Bibliographical Information
Gaebelein, Arno Clemens. "Commentary on Exodus 12". "Gaebelein's Annotated Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/gab/exodus-12.html. 1913-1922.
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