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Saturday, July 20th, 2024
the Week of Proper 10 / Ordinary 15
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Bible Commentaries
Exodus 12

Grant's Commentary on the BibleGrant's Commentary

Verses 1-51



The time finally arrives for the Lord to accomplish a work of amazing power in Egypt in the deliverance of a nation numbering over two million, from the bondage of Egypt. Speaking to Moses and Aaron, the Lord tells them that this month was to be to Israel the beginning of months, the first month of their year. A new beginning was to take place at this time, a beginning based on the value of the blood of the lamb of sacrifice (v.2). Clearly this is typical of the new beginning for any person today who recognizes the value of the blood of Christ as cleansing him from his sins. In receiving Christ he becomes "a new creation," with old things passing away and all things becoming new (2 Corinthians 5:17).

On the tenth day of the month every man was to take a lamb, at least a lamb for a house. Yet if the house was too small to use the meat of a lamb, then it might be shared with a neighboring house (vs.2-3). Notice in this three matters of spiritual importance, first, every individual requires the lamb; secondly, every house requires the lamb; and thirdly, the lamb is large enough for others to share. Though many lambs would be sacrificed that night in Israel, yet scripture does not use the plural, "lambs," but only the singular, "the lamb" or "your lamb" (vs.4-5). For the lamb preeminently speaks of Christ.

The lamb must be, first, "without blemish", that is, the sacrifice must be pure enough to atone for sins. Only the Lord Jesus is pure enough to bear the sins of those exposed to the judgment of God. Secondly, it must be a male, the stronger of the sexes. The sacrifice must be strong enough. It is impossible that one mere creature, even if he had not sinned, could atone for the sins of countless numbers. But Christ is the eternal Son of God, in person infinite. Therefore He is strong enough to be a perfect sacrifice of God, willing to take the sinner's place in bearing the judgment of God. Who else but the Lord Jesus is filled with such love?

The lamb was to be kept for four days before being sacrificed (v.6). The four days speak of testing. Thus, the life of the Lord Jesus on earth was a time of proving Him perfectly qualified to be the acceptable sacrifice. The whole assembly was to kill the lamb in the evening. This reminds us that all believers are responsible for the death of Christ, for it was our sins that caused Him His suffering and death. Blood from the lamb was to be put on the two side posts of their doors and on the cross bar above the doors, on the outside (v.7). Inside they were told to eat of the flesh of the lamb roasted with fire, together with unleavened bread and bitter herbs (v.8). "Roasted with fire" speaks of the Lord Jesus being exposed to the direct heat of the unmitigated judgment of God in bearing our sins. The lamb was killed before it was roasted, but the Lord Jesus was roasted with the dreadful judgment of God BEFORE He died. Leaven is typical of sin, therefore the unleavened bread pictures sin being fully judged and put away by the cross. "Bitter herbs" indicate the response of our hearts in recognizing that it was our own sins for which He was sacrificed. Therefore the roasting speaks of CHRIST JUDGED for us; the unleavened bread, of SIN JUDGED; and the bitter herbs, of SELF JUDGED. How well for us to meditate on these in contemplating the cross of Christ!

Verse 9 emphasizes the lamb was not to be boiled, but roasted with fire; and they were to eat even "its head, with its legs and its entrails." These three are mentioned also because of their spiritual significance. The head speaks of intelligence, and reminds us concerning the Lord Jesus that He "knew no sin" (2 Corinthians 5:21). The legs speak of His walk, of which we are told, He "committed no sin" (1 Peter 2:22). The entrails symbolize His inward motives, and of this 1 John 3:5 tells us, "in him there is no sin." Thus, the eating of the head, legs and entrails implies our assimilating into our hearts these three vital truths concerning our Lord. How much indeed they should mean to us!

Nothing of the lamb was to remain until the morning. There were to be no "left overs." If they could not eat it all, they were to burn the remainder with fire (v.10). God is glad to give us all that we can digest of Christ, but if any remains it must be offered by fire to God. If we do not appropriate everything concerning Christ, God does.

Now three points are added as regards the attitude with which Israel was to eat the passover (v.11): (1) with their loins girded, (2) with their sandals on, and (3) with a staff in their hand. They must be fully prepared for a journey. Just so for believers today. Immediately we have been redeemed by the blood of Christ and are privileged to feed upon Him, we find ourselves to be no longer "of this world:" We are leaving it in order to journey to a better land, that is a heavenly one. Our citizenship is now in heaven, so that we have renounced any mere earthly citizenship.

1st Peter tells us, "Gird up the loins of your mind." Israelites with long robes must gird them up in order to have no loose ends trailing to hinder their walk. For us this speaks of having an untrammeled mind. Sandals were for protection against thorns, thistle, sharp rocks, etc., for the pain of sensitive feelings. The staff was for support. In ourselves there is not sufficient strength for the path: we need the support of the grace of God.

Now God announces that He (not an angel) would pass through the land that night (v.12), striking dead all the firstborn in Egypt, both of people and animals, executing solemn judgment on all the idols of Egypt, for they would find their idols helpless to protect them.

However, there was to be one mark of distinction between Israel and Egypt in order that Israel would be protected. For if God judges, His judgment must be absolutely impartial. Israelites were sinners, just as were the Egyptians, and deserved judgment for their sins. But if the blood of the lamb was on their door posts and lintels, this symbolized the fact that the judgment of death had already taken place, so that God said, "When I see the blood, I will pass over you" (v.13). Just so, the believer in the Lord Jesus is already sheltered by the blood of Christ shed on Calvary's cross. His sin has been judged already and his sins forgiven by virtue of that blood.



This day was to be memorialized forever in Israel (v.14) by a yearly feast. The importance of it is emphasized by various designations: (1) "the Lord's passover" (v.11); (2) "a memorial" (v.14); (3) "a feast" (v.14); (4) "an ordinance" (v.24); (5) "a service" (v.25); and (6) "the sacrifice" (v.27).

The feast was to continue for seven days. During that time there was to be no leaven eaten (v.15). Typically this implies the thorough judgment of sin in the attitude of the people. Any infraction of this called for the death penalty. The first day and the last day were to be marked by "holy convocations," the people assembled together to give glory to the God of Israel. No work must be done except what was necessary in preparing the feast (v.16).

It is significant that God gave full instructions as regards this Feast of Unleavened Bread on the day when the Passover was to be killed. If this were merely man's celebration, he would institute it after the occasion of the celebration had taken place. From that day onwards the Passover feast remained a testimony to the reality of Israel's deliverance from Egypt (v.17). The precise time of this declared in verse 18, from the 14th day to the 21st day of the first month. Again it is insisted that at that time leaven (or yeast) was not to be found in their houses, for the eating of leaven would incur the death penalty.

Moses then gave instructions (no doubt four days before the passover) to the elders of Israel to oversee the picking out of lambs on the part of every family, to have the lamb killed, and to take a bunch of hyssop, dip it in the blood of the lamb and strike it on the lintel and the two side posts of their doors. This being done, no one was to leave the house that night (v.22).

Moses now tells Israel; what was to take place. The Lord would pass through the land to bring judgment on the Egyptians, and pass over those houses where blood was on the lintel and door posts, and the destroyer (death) would not be allowed to touch them(v.23). He tells them at the same time that they are to observe the Passover as an ordinance "forever." When they came to their land and their children enquired why they kept such a feast, they were to fully inform them of this history of God's judging the Egyptians and passing over the houses of the Israelites because of the blood of the passover lamb. The children were not to forget that momentous event, just as children today should be constantly reminded of the great sacrifice of the Lord Jesus.

On hearing this the children of Israel believed, and bowed their heads in worship, then did as God has commanded as to the lamb.



At midnight the dreadful judgment of God fell as He had warned (v.29). In Egypt there was not a house where there was not at least one dead. Every firstborn in Egypt was taken, except of course those in houses were the blood was sprinkled. Evidently the Egyptians were not sleeping soundly that night, for they and Pharaoh and his servants rose up in the night in terrible alarm. Likely they had been fearful of what would happen, though they had refused Moses' warning. The bitter agony of the land must have been indescribable.



Pharaoh called for Moses and Aaron. No doubt he did not actually see them (ch10:29), but gave them the urgent message that Israel was to get out of Egypt. This was not only permission given, but a command that would allow no delay. Their flocks and herds were to be included, as Moses had demanded. This tenth plague was enough to shock Pharaoh into action with the fear that something worse could happen. But he curiously adds, "ands bless me also." Yet he does not include the people of Egypt in this request.

There was no difficulty now for Israel in preparing to leave, for the Egyptians joined in urging them to go immediately. They "took their dough before it was leavened" (v.34). Evidently they intended to leaven it in spite of God's command that leaven was to be put away. Sometimes God in grace sovereignly stops us from our disobedient purposes

The Israelites had already done what the Lord commanded in asking from the Egyptians articles of silver and gold and of clothing. The Lord Himself had disposed the Egyptians to willingly give them these things. It was not "borrowing," but asking, for Israel was entitled to this for their long years of service to the Egyptians. Thus they did not by any means go out empty.

The sight of six hundred thousand men besides women and children springing into action to leave the country must have been astounding! there has been nothing else in all history resembling this. The responsibility for leading this company of over two million rested squarely on the shoulders of Moses. Did he feel himself capable for this? Not at all: he felt himself helpless, but he knew that God's power was sufficient, and God had spoken clearly: He would deliver Israel.

The journey from Rameses to Succoth, a little over 30 miles. Perhaps in starting out on the journey they were fresh and vigorous enough to do this in one day, though it may be doubtful for a crowd that large. "A mixed multitude" went with them, evidently those not actually Israelites, but possibly Egyptians who had married Israelites or in some other way were identified with them.

They apparently stopped long enough at Succoth to bake unleavened cakes of the dough that was previously prepared (v.39). Also at this time it seems the Lord gave Moses and Aaron instructions as to the ordinance of the Passover (vs.43-49) and concerning the sanctifying of all the firstborn to the Lord (ch.13:1-16)

The length of time that Israel dwelt in the land of Egypt is now recorded as 430 years (vs.40-41). Of course this embraced a number of generations, but Israel's dispersion among the Gentiles since their rejection of Christ has continued now for almost 2000 years! Yet God will bring them back in His appointed time.

The announcement was made at the time that the night of the Passover was to be particularly observed by all the children of Israel throughout their generations But since Israel has been scattered from their land after rejecting Christ, the temple being destroyed, the Passover can no longer be kept in God's appointed way. It lacks the shedding of the blood of the lamb, which was the very heart of the matter. But from God's sovereign point of view, this is of great value, for it tells us that the one sacrifice of Christ is the sufficient answer to all that the Passover signified. "Christ our Passover was sacrificed for us" (1 Corinthians 5:7).



Before Israel journeyed further, while the facts of the Passover were still fresh in the minds of the people, the Lord lays down to Moses and Aaron the essential regulations concerning the Feast of the Passover. This being immediately done emphasizes its importance. These regulations have a distinct bearing on the New Testament observance of the Lord's supper, which the Lord introduced when He celebrated His last Passover with His disciples. InLuke 22:14-18; Luke 22:14-18 they kept the Passover, but He set the Passover aside in verse 18, intimating that He would have no joy (eating the fruit of the vine) in Israel until the kingdom of God should come. Then He introduced the Lord's supper in verses 19-20. The Passover had been the prime observance of Israel in anticipation of the sacrifice of Christ. Now the Lord's supper is the prime observance in remembrance of Him and His sacrifice.

The first regulation given is that no stranger should eat of the Passover. A stranger is one not known. The New Testament tells us "Do not lay hands on anyone hastily, nor share in other people's sins: keep yourself pure" (1 Timothy 5:22). To lay hands on one is to express fellowship with him. If we do not know the person, we must be careful not to do this until we know him. On the other hand, if one comes with a letter of commendation from another assembly with whom we express fellowship, there is no difficulty.

A servant who had been bought for money, after being circumcised, was allowed to eat the Passover. But a hired servant was not permitted. The most important lesson here is that which applies today spiritually. The hired servant serves for wages, so that he is a picture of one who professes to keep the law as a basis of his relationship with God. He is therefore one who is not saved by the grace of God. On the other hand, the slave has been bought for money: he therefore belongs to his master, and is a picture of a believer who is owned by the Lord Jesus. Yet he was to be circumcised before eating the Passover. Philippians 3:3; Philippians 3:3 explains what circumcision means for us:

"We are the circumcision, who worship God in the Spirit, and rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh." A true worship worships God by the Spirit and rejoices in Christ Jesus, but the negative side of this is deeply important too, for it is this to which circumcision particularly applies. Circumcision is the cutting off of the flesh, so that the flesh is given no place. One who shows a self-confident attitude is not in any condition to partake of the Lord's supper. Some say they have "a right" to do so, but no! This is rather a privilege for those who realize they have no rights, for all their confidence is in the living God.

A foreigner or sojourner (one not of Israel, therefore typically not of the church of God) was banned from eating the Passover, Just as was the hired servant (v.45). The foreigner speaks simply of an unbeliever, the hired servant, of one under law, and both are alike in God's sight.

The Passover was to be eaten "in one house." This is typical of the house of God today. God sees His house as one: therefore independency has no place. This reminds us of 1 Corinthians 10:16-17: "The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not the communion of the blood of Christ? The bread which we break, is it not the communion of the body of Christ? For we being many, are one bread and one body; for we all partake of that one bread." In breaking bread, we express fellowship with the entire body of Christ, the Church, though it is clear we cannot actually break bread with all the members of that body, and there are various reasons for this. Also, in breaking bread, we must never ignore the order of the house of God.

"Nor shall you break one of its bones" (v.46). The bones are the framework of the body. There must be no violation of the lamb of sacrifice. This speaks of the basic character of the Lord Jesus. If one dares to deny His deity, this is virtually breaking a bone of the lamb, and this is true also if one denies His absolute sinless Manhood or denies that His is the Son of God from eternity. People who are guilty of denials such as this, must be totally excluded from the Lord's supper, for the Lord's supper is intended to be an occasion of honoring the Lord Jesus, and it is a gross dishonor to Him if one should hold false doctrine concerning His blessed person and work.

"All the congregation of Israel shall keep it" (v.47). This observance was to express the unity of the nation Israel. Ideally, it was a feast for all, though Numbers 9:9 shows that there were exceptions in cases of those in a journey or those who were defiled by contact with a dead body, and who could not therefore eat the Passover until they were cleansed from this defilement. Similarly, today one whose associations are defiling is not to be allowed to break bread until he is free from such associations.

A stranger is again mentioned in verse 48, but one who comes to dwell among the Israelites. Thus he would no longer be unknown, and when circumcised he would be permitted to keep the Passover. This would take time, of course, with proper care to see that the honor of the Lord was maintained. Certainly there must be no less care exercised in the assembly of God, as regards receiving to the breaking of bread, for it is the Lord's supper, and His honor must be paramount.

Finally, verse 49 insists that there was to be no "double standard:" whether one was a native or a stranger coming in, the same principles and the same care must be applied. This is as fully true in reception to the Lord's supper today.

While this completes "the ordinance of the Passover," we must in chapter 13 observe also the facts as to the prohibition of leaven for the seven days, and the spiritual significance of this is vitally important too. Meanwhile we are told in verse 50 that all the children of Israel were obedient to the instructions given by; Moses. Then verse 51 emphasizes that on the very day of the Passover the Lord brought Israel out from under the bondage of Egypt, by His wisdom ordering this project for all the hosts of the nation. This could not have been done by human arrangement or energy.

Bibliographical Information
Grant, L. M. "Commentary on Exodus 12". Grant's Commentary on the Bible. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/lmg/exodus-12.html. 1897-1910.
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