Exodus 12:1-13 (Interpretation)
Exodus 12:1-13 is best understood as historical narrative that was originally recorded and composed by Moses. The original audience of this passage were the Hebrew people who were part of the Exodus event when God delivered His people out of Egypt. This passage contains God’s specific instructions for the Passover and it is important to note that these instructions were to be taken literally by the people. The original meaning of this passage is stated in 12:13, “The blood shall be a sign for you, on the houses where you are. And when I see the blood, I will pass over you, and no plague will befall you to destroy you, when I strike the land of Egypt” (ESV). In other words, when God saw the blood of the lambs that each family was to sacrifice and place on their doorposts and lintels, He would recognize them as His people and count them as blameless and pass over them, hence the title “The Passover.”
The first Passover event occurred while God’s people were living as slaves in Egypt. God had yet to form a great nation out of His people; however, the Exodus out of Egypt, which the Passover initiated, led to the formation of the nation of Israel. At the heart of the events surrounding the Passover are two significant factors that will influence this passage’s contemporary meaning. The first is that God’s Kingdom on earth was to be established and represented through the nation of Israel. The second factor is that all of these events are rooted in God’s faithfulness to the divine covenant, which He originally established with Abraham (Gen. 15). Both of these factors point directly to Jesus Christ, which is where this passage’s contemporary meaning can be found.
Christians should recognize that the sacrificial Passover lamb(s) of Exodus 12:5-6 prefigured Jesus Christ. Like the people then, when God sees those who have been cleansed by the blood of Jesus Christ, He will pass over them and count them as blameless. Furthermore, those who are cleansed by the blood of Christ are the new representatives of God’s Kingdom on earth. Christians are the true Israel (Rom. 9:6-8). Lastly, this Lamb of God is the fulfillment of the divine covenant that God promised Abraham in Genesis 15.
Exodus 12:1-13 (Application)
God’s Kingdom has changed significantly since the first Passover. Since then, God’s Kingdom has expanded globally, which is all credited to Jesus Christ offering Himself up as the last Passover Lamb to be sacrificed for atonement of our sins. The present Kingdom on earth is represented by Christ’s Church; however, the future Kingdom of the new heaven and new earth is still yet to come.
Central to this passage’s contemporary message is Jesus Christ as the Passover Lamb. Christ as the Lamb of God shows His love for us by dying in our place. Furthermore, His sacrifice gives us an example of what humility looks like, as Paul points out in his letter to the Philippians (Phil. 2:5-8). Additionally, Paul, in the same passage, reminds us that we are to conform to Christ by imitating his example of humility. Lastly, in order for Christ to be the Passover lamb He needed to be without blemish (Ex. 12:5), which ultimately means that He suffered for our failures to be obedient to all that God has commanded. The bottom line here is that Christ accomplished all of these things first out of His love for His Father and also out of His love for us.
To a Christian, reflecting on the first Passover should equate to a reflection on the cross of Christ. His sacrificial death was made for all who believe. Realizing this should open up a pathway for Christians to feel God’s deep love that has supernaturally transcended the distance from the crucifixion to where Christians are today. Lastly, this passage should remind Christians to look towards the Last Supper as a way of remembering Christ as the Passover Lamb. In other words, Exodus 12:1-13 ought to add additional focus to how we are to approach the Lord’s table.