Meditations in Exodus: 43. Unique to God’s People
Ex 12:43 The LORD said to Moses and Aaron, “These are the regulations for the Passover: “No foreigner is to eat of it.
In the verses we now come to there is an important if not vital principle to be noted: the things of the Passover apply ONLY to God’s people. This may not appear important in respect of the instructions as to the feast, but when we see the wider implication and application through the New Testament, it becomes crucial.
Let’s simply note first of all, the Lord’s instruction to Moses and note its exclusivity: “The LORD said to Moses and Aaron, “These are the regulations for the Passover: “No foreigner is to eat of it. Any slave you have bought may eat of it after you have circumcised him, but a temporary resident and a hired worker may not eat of it.” (v.43-45) In respect of the Passover no foreigner can partake of it, i.e. it is only for Israel, God’s people. If a slave has truly been brought into the covenant community (as seen by him being circumcised) then he may eat of it but not anyone who is temporarily with them or who is hired by them. No, this is for the covenant community only. That is important!
Then comes the way it is eaten, individually: “It must be eaten inside one house; take none of the meat outside the house. Do not break any of the bones.“ (v.46) Note, one house per animal, i.e. each home must have their own sacrificial lamb and not rely upon anyone else. Each individual family must be obedient to God and show it by having their own lamb. They are to eat it within their home and not take any of it outside the home and have a picnic outside. No, in Egypt they were huddled in their own home and there they fearfully took their own lamb which was to be roasted whole, without breaking it up; this will have significance in the later application.
Then, we might say, come a reiteration of who may eat it and take part in it, how it is taken corporately: “The whole community of Israel must celebrate it.” (v.47) It is to be taken by ALL of Israel, men, women and children, all who are part of the covenant community. We can’t help repeating this because the Lord does, that is only for those who have entered into covenant with God and so any aliens or foreigners who have joined themselves to Israel must show their commitment to Israel but doing the same things as Israel: “An alien living among you who wants to celebrate the LORD’s Passover must have all the males in his household circumcised; then he may take part like one born in the land. No uncircumcised male may eat of it. The same law applies to the native-born and to the alien living among you.” (v.48,49) If you wanted to be an Israelite and you were male you would have to be circumcised. No circumcision, no Israelite, no Passover.
And so it is summarized: “All the Israelites did just what the LORD had commanded Moses and Aaron. And on that very day the LORD brought the Israelites out of Egypt by their divisions.” (v.50,51) Note the two halves to this: Israel’s obedience and the Lord’s deliverance; one opened the way for the other.
Now to the wider application today, and of course it focuses on Jesus. When John the Baptist saw Jesus coming he heralded him by declaring, “Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!” (Jn 1:29) and then later, “When he saw Jesus passing by, he said, “Look, the Lamb of God!” (Jn 1:36). It could not be any clearer. This prophet-herald whose job was to prepare the people to meet their Messiah portrayed him as God’s lamb. Isaiah had prophesied, “He was oppressed and afflicted, yet he did not open his mouth; he was led like a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is silent, so he did not open his mouth,” (Isa 53:7) indicating the meek and humble way the Messiah would come, but John’s emphasis on taking away the sin of the world takes us back to the picture of the Passover lamb. In his Revelation John recorded, “Then I saw a Lamb, looking as if it had been slain, standing in the center of the throne,” (Rev 5:6) and the onlooking assembly sing, “You are worthy to take the scroll and to open its seals, because you were slain, and with your blood you purchased men for God from every tribe and language and people and nation,” (Rev 5:9) and in that they encapsulate the work of Christ on the Cross for it is clear this is who it is.
The lamb was slain so that the destroying angel would Pass-over the offeror and his family and they would be saved. For the Israelite their lamb was literal. Each individual family had to do it and it would only be applicable for anyone in the covenant community. In the bigger, world-encompassing picture, the Lamb is Jesus who was crucified for us, but his death acts only as a means of staying the destroying angel if we take his death for us; we believe he came and died for us, we claim his death for our own lives and we rely entirely upon his death to save us. We become the covenant community of God by our surrender to God and acceptance of His way of salvation, the death of His Lamb, Jesus Christ on the Cross, and in so doing we are saved. Saved from destruction and saved for a life in God’s presence in eternity. Hallelujah!
Picking up a point from earlier on, the lamb’s bones were not to be broken. When it came to Jesus being crucified, to make it even more obvious for those with eyes to see, his bones were not broken contrary to the usual custom (so the body could not support itself and in hanging in tension would suffocate and finish off the crucified person). See Jn 19:36.
If you have never realised that this is what it is all about when we talk of Jesus, then surrender your life to God right now and accept His Passover Lamb as the means of your life being saved from judgment and for a life with God that goes on into eternity. Declare your belief in Jesus and his work on the Cross on your behalf and let him lead and guide your life from now on in this new covenant relationship. My it be so.