To hear the phrase “gospel of Christ” in reference to one of the first four books of the New Testament is a common thing, but when was the last time you heard the gospel referenced from an Old Testament book? This past Sunday evening, I stood in the pulpit and directed the congregation to Exodus 12. I made the statement that what we see in this chapter is undoubtedly the gospel of Jesus Christ. As we read the 12th chapter of Exodus, we see a clear saving mission orchestrated by the hand of our sovereign God. While Jesus was not butchered on the eve of Passover in Exodus 12, every lamb that died was a foreshadowing of the great sacrifice of Christ that would one day be poured out to “save His people from their sins (Matthew 1:21).”
The Message of Doom
The message of judgment had once again been delivered to Moses by God regarding His plans for Egypt and the obstinate Pharaoh. The LORD was not sending flies, frogs, or hail. The LORD Himself was going to pay the house of Pharaoh a visit in judgment. This plague, number 10 in the series, was one that all of Egypt and Israel would never forget.
Notice the language of verse 12 – “For I will pass through the land of Egypt that night, and I will strike all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, both man and beast; and on all the gods of Egypt I will execute judgments: I am the Lord.”
The Message of Salvation
The message of doom was not only directed toward Egypt, but it was also aimed directly toward Israel. Moses was commanded by the LORD to instruct Israel to provide a sacrifice to God. The directions involved the killing, cooking, and eating of a lamb for each family. The people were instructed to take the blood from the lamb and cover the doorposts and lintel so that as the LORD passed through the land – He would not send the destroyer to strike and kill the firstborn among Israel.
Notice the language of verse 23 – “For the LORD will pass through to strike the Egyptians, and when he sees the blood on the lintel and on the two doorposts, the LORD will pass over the door and will not allow the destroyer to enter your houses to strike you.”
The saving grace of Israel was found in the blood that was applied to the doorposts. Although this was not the blood of Jesus – it certainly pointed to the blood of Jesus. God was saving Israel from Egypt and this massive saving mission would be used by God to point toward a global saving mission. God provided Moses with a set of instructions regarding the sacrifice and blood, but He also commanded them to continue this feast as a statute forever. God intended Israel to remember the power of His salvation, but also His mercy for His people – forever.
In what ways did the sacrifice at twilight on the eve of Passover typify the sacrifice of Jesus hundreds of years later?
1. God saved Israel from the slave market of Egypt through a blood sacrifice.
- Romans 6:17-18 – But thanks be to God, that you who were once slaves of sin have become obedient from the heart to the standard of teaching to which you were committed,  and, having been set free from sin, have become slaves of righteousness.
- John 8:32 – and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.
- John 8:36 – So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.
2. God saved Israel from the strong arm of Pharaoh through a blood sacrifice.
Before our salvation:
- Romans 5:10 – For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life.
- John 8:44 – You are of your father the devil, and your will is to do your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks out of his own character, for he is a liar and the father of lies.
3. The lamb was without spot and blemish.
Jesus as the great Passover Lamb of God:
- 1 Peter 1:18-19 – knowing that you were ransomed from the futile ways inherited from your forefathers, not with perishable things such as silver or gold,  but with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without blemish or spot.  He was foreknown before the foundation of the world but was made manifest in the last times for the sake of you.
- John 19:4 – Pilate went out again and said to them, “See, I am bringing him out to you that you may know that I find no guilt in him.”
4. The lamb was male.
Jesus was a man – the Son of God:
- Luke 2:7 – And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in swaddling cloths and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn.
- Matthew 1:21 – She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.”
5. The lamb was sacrificed on the eve of Passover.
Jesus was sacrificed on the eve of Passover:
- John 19:14-16 – Now it was the day of Preparation of the Passover. It was about the sixth hour. He said to the Jews, “Behold your King!”  They cried out, “Away with him, away with him, crucify him!” Pilate said to them, “Shall I crucify your King?” The chief priests answered, “We have no king but Caesar.”  So he delivered him over to them to be crucified. So they took Jesus.
- John 19:41-42 – Now in the place where he was crucified there was a garden, and in the garden a new tomb in which no one had yet been laid.  So because of the Jewish day of Preparation, since the tomb was close at hand, they laid Jesus there.
6. The lamb suffered death to save Israel.
Jesus suffered death under the wrath of God:
- Matthew 27:46 – And about the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice, saying, “Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?” that is, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”
- 1 Thessalonians 5:9-10 – For God has not destined us for wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ,  who died for us so that whether we are awake or asleep we might live with him.
7. The blood of the lamb covered the houses of Israel and God “passed over” when He saw the blood.
Jesus’ blood is our only means of being reconciled to God:
- Hebrews 9:22 – Indeed, under the law almost everything is purified with blood, and without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sins.
- Hebrews 10:4 – For it is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins.
- John 14:6 – Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.
8. The blood sacrifice is what provided the mercy of God – not the religious practices or traditions of Israel.
Jesus’ blood sacrifice provided our propitiatory sacrifice to God the Father:
- 1 John 2:2 – He is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world.
- 1 Timothy 1:16 – But I received mercy for this reason, that in me, as the foremost, Jesus Christ might display his perfect patience as an example to those who were to believe in him for eternal life.
- 2 Peter 2:10 – Once you were not a people, but now you are God’s people; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.
As we see throughout the entire story of Exodus – God is preparing the way for the culmination of His saving plan in Jesus – the Christ of God. The entire story of Exodus is a marvelous display of God’s providence and unparalleled sovereignty. As skeptics and scoffers continue to reject and malign the gospel of Jesus Christ, they should stop and consider the utter impossibility of humanity to scheme such a story as the gospel.
Hundreds of years after the blood sacrifice of Exodus 12, Israel is continuing the feast as a memorial just as God had commanded them in the beginning. Phil Ryken observes, “According to Josephus, the ancient historian, several hundred thousand lambs were herded through the streets of Jerusalem every Passover.”1 On the very night that Jesus was crucified, the city of Jerusalem was filled with homes that were preparing to sacrifice a lamb for Passover. At the very time that fathers were taking their lamb, pulling the head back, and slitting the throat – Jesus’ blood was running down His face, hands, and feet. As the lambs throughout the city of Jerusalem were squealing under the knife in preparation of Passover, Jesus was crying out under the wrath of God – “Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?” As lambs were being slaughtered all through the city of Jerusalem as a Passover sacrifice, Jesus was being slaughtered as the Lamb of God (John 1:29).
As we read Exodus – we must be reminded that it was not the blood of a mere animal that saved them from the wrath of God (Hebrews 10:4). It was only through Jesus’ blood that we have received mercy. Israel was being saved by Jesus – and the blood of their lambs was merely a picture of the greater sacrifice of God’s Lamb! Jesus is the Prophet greater than Moses, the Priest greater than Melchizedek, the King greater than David, and the Lamb greater than the Passover sacrifice of Exodus 12. God was doing more than saving a nation from bondage and slavery, He was saving His people from their sins. To God be all praise and glory for His marvelous salvation plan!
Jesus Paid It All
For nothing good have I
Whereby Thy grace to claim,
I’ll wash my garments white
In the blood of Calv’ry’s Lamb.
Jesus paid it all,
All to Him I owe;
Sin had left a crimson stain,
He washed it white as snow.
For the glory of King Jesus,
Pastor Josh Buice
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1. Philip Graham Ryken and R. Kent Hughes, Exodus: Saved for God’s Glory (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books, 2005), 332.