As we read through the early chapters of the book of Exodus we have a record of the suffering of the Children of Israel under the Egyptians. We are also told of God’s plans to release them. The Lord by means of the plagues was demonstrating His power over the gods of the Egyptians. This comes out forcefully in chapter 12 verse 12: “against the gods of Egypt I will execute judgement: I am the Lord”. We read also in these pages that Pharaoh continually hardened his heart and refused to let the Israelites leave the country. In the end we are told that God Himself hardened Pharaoh’s heart, confirming his opposition to the God of Israel (Exodus 10:20 & 27). This is a warning to each one of us that God will not always strive with men (Genesis 6:3). Let us all beware that we do not reject the call of God to repentance in our lives.
When the time came for the deliverance of the Israelites, the tenth plague would see the death of all the firstborn in Egypt, whether man or beast (Exodus 11:4-5). In order to save His people, the Lord instituted the Passover. A male lamb was to be taken, its blood spread on the door posts and lintel of the house, and the flesh was to be roasted and eaten (in haste, verse 11) in preparation for the sudden departure from Egypt. God said “when I see the blood I will pass over you”; so the lives of the Israelites were saved from death (verse 13). The Passover was to become a festival of remembrance for the Nation of Israel for all time. The reason for this is revealed in the rest of Holy Scripture (read Exodus 10:2, 13:8-10).
After this introduction, I want us to look a little closer at some of the words used in verses at the beginning of chapter 12, as they have an application to each of us.
Verse 3: the people were told to take ‘A’ lamb according to the household. ‘A’ lamb was to be chosen.
Verse 4: reference is made to ‘THE’ lamb. ‘THE’ lamb was chosen.
Verse 5: reference is made to ‘YOUR’ lamb. ‘YOUR’ lamb was possessed. It was personal.
In these three words, we have a progression of thought. We go from ‘A’, to ‘THE’, to ‘YOUR’. The word ‘LAMB’ was taken up in a figurative way in the pages of the New Covenant; ‘the Lamb of God who would take away the sin of the world’ (John 1:29 & 36). Other references to a lamb are Acts 8:32 & 1 Peter 1:19 and again especially in the book of Revelation where the Greek word used is in the diminutive form, indicating a little lamb.
While a study of the Old Covenant does not use the word lamb figuratively in reference to a person, apart from Isaiah’s prophecy in chapter 53, it does tell of One to come as the Messiah. The first promise of ‘A’ person to deal with the sin problem is in Genesis 3:15 when God speaks to Adam and Eve, that ‘ONE’ would come from the seed of the woman, her SEED, rather than from his seed, to deal with the entering of sin into the world. in Deuteronomy 18:18 Moses makes reference to ‘A Prophet’ being raised up. Isaiah writes of ‘A Child is born, A Son is given... His Name will be called Wonderful, Counsellor, Mighty God’ (Isaiah 9:6-7). So it is that Someone was to be chosen to fulfil the ‘A’.
The next word is ‘THE’, a definite article. As mentioned earlier it is in John 1:29 & 36 that the word ‘THE’ is used, indicating a specific Person, rather than in a general sense. So it is that in the use of ‘THE’ which is the definite article pointing to the prominence of ‘ONE’ who was chosen to be ‘THE LAMB OF GOD’. There could only be one such lamb.
Finally the next word ‘YOUR’ brings at once the thought of something that is personal, a relationship. It puts the thoughts about the word ‘lamb’ in the Exodus passage into an altogether different context to the previous words used ‘A’ & ‘THE’ relating to the word lamb.
Maybe you are wondering what is the purpose of bringing these thoughts to you. In the Biblical context, the Passover Lamb, its death, was a word picture, pointing forward to the New Covenant which would tell us that the Lord Jesus came to this earth as the Lamb of God. He came to take away the sin of the world. He died on the cross at Calvary, shedding His blood so that you may be saved from eternal death and receive instead the gift of eternal life. The Apostle Paul reminds his readers ‘Christ OUR Passover was sacrificed for us... not with the old leaven of malice and wickedness, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth’ (1 Corinthians 5:7).
To sum up, Scripture is telling us firstly that there is ‘A’ Saviour, then of ‘THE’ Saviour, and finally that this Saviour can be ‘YOUR’ Saviour. The Lord Jesus is able to save you from your sins, if you will come in repentance to Him, seeking forgiveness. This ‘LAMB OF GOD’ then becomes YOUR SAVIOUR, with all the blessings that this will bring in this life and the life to come throughout all eternity.
A question has to be asked - do you see your need of ‘A’ Saviour? Then look no further. God has sent ‘THE’ Saviour who can become ‘YOUR’ Saviour. The Lord Jesus’ answer to a question from Thomas was ‘I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life. No one comes to the Father except through Me’ (John 14:6). Read also Acts 4:12. Further, the Lord Jesus reminded the people to whom He was talking of the serious consequences of unbelief in Himself (John 3:36).
The words of Isaac Watts present to us the effects that are the result of what God has done, He revealed the purpose of the Passover pointing forward to ‘the LAMB slain from the foundation of the world’ (Revelation 13:8).
Come let us join our cheerful songs, with angels round the throne,
Ten thousand thousand are their tongues, but all their joys are one.
“Worthy the Lamb that died”, they cry, “to be exalted thus”,
“Worthy the Lamb”, our lips reply, “for He was slain for us”.
Jesus is worthy to receive, honour and power divine,
And blessing more than we can give, be Lord forever Thine.
Let all that dwell above the sky, and air and earth and seas,
Conspire to lift Thy glories high, and speak Thine endless praise.
The whole creation join in one, to bless the sacred name,
Of Him that sits upon the throne, and to adore the Lamb.
Such a hymn invites us to remember regularly ‘OUR LAMB’ as Israel had to remember theirs at each annual Passover Feast. The Lord Jesus, who as ‘THE LAMB OF GOD’ instructed all true believers, to gather in remembrance of His death and partake of the loaf and drink of the cup in thanksgiving. We at Carley Church do this in obedience to Him (Luke 22:14-20 and 1 Corinthians 11:23-29).
R. John Wheeler
Quotations from AV/NKJ