Exodus 12:1-13 (NIV) 1 The LORD said to Moses and Aaron in Egypt,2 “This month is to be for you the first month, (everybody say “first month”) the first month of your year. 3 Tell the whole community of Israel that on the tenth day of this month each man is to take a lamb for his family, one for each household. 4 If any household is too small for a whole lamb, they must share one with their nearest neighbor, having taken into account the number of people there are. You are to determine the amount of lamb needed in accordance with what each person will eat. 5 The animals you choose must be year-old males without defect, and you may take them from the sheep or the goats. 6 Take care of them until the fourteenth day of the month, when all the people of the community of Israel must slaughter them at twilight.
7 Then they are to take some of the blood and put it on the sides and tops of the doorframes of the houses where they eat the lambs. 8 That same night they are to eat the meat roasted over the fire, along with bitter herbs, and bread made without yeast.
9 Do not eat the meat raw or cooked in water, but roast it over the fire–head, legs and inner parts. 10 Do not leave any of it till morning; if some is left till morning, you must burn it. 11 This is how you are to eat it: with your cloak tucked into your belt, your sandals on your feet and your staff in your hand. Eat it in haste; it is the LORD’s Passover. 12 “On that same night I will pass through Egypt and strike down every firstborn–both men and animals–and I will bring judgment on all the gods of Egypt. I am the LORD. 13 The blood will be a sign for you on the houses where you are; and when I see the blood, I will pass over you. No destructive plague will touch you when I strike Egypt.
The plagues weren’t just sent as a judgment on Pharaoh or to convince him to let God’s people go from slavery in Egypt, but they were also meant to help the Israelites see God and learn to trust God. Each plague took on one of the false Egyptian gods to reveal to the Israelites that Yaweh was the one, true and living God and that God’s power was greater than the false gods of Egypt. With each plague sent, God was wooing the Israelites to Himself.
Each plague was convincing evidence that life with Him would be better than remaining as slaves in Egypt. The Israelites had been slaves in Egypt for four generations. There is no doubt that the Egyptian ways rubbed off on them, that the worship of Egyptian false gods had tainted the Israelites’ devotion to God as supreme. They almost needed to be re-introduced to God.
When we get to the tenth and final plague that God sent on Egypt, we see that special instructions were given to the Israelites. They were given the opportunity to be spared of the heartache and destruction the rest of Egypt would experience. They were told to place blood of a spotless lamb on the doorframe, across the top of their home, and down the sides, on the doorposts of their home. When they did, the death angel that was being sent to destroy the firstborn son and firstborn livestock of each home would pass over the homes where there were blood spatters on the doorframes and doorposts of a home.
Those blood spatters would have looked something like this:
The motion that would have been created from doing such an exercise would have looked like this:
Isn’t that awesome? When God was preparing His people for a new adventure, a fresh start, a new experience with Him as He would lead them to the promised land, He was leading them out of their homes and out of Egypt by way of the blood and cross. What a theological statement! What a “WOW!” for us on this side of Calvary.
- God gives us a new start and a new heart and a new life by way of the blood and the cross!
Nissan was designated as the first month of the Jewish calendar. Nissan is like our January. Just as we look forward to a new beginning each January, the Jewish people would look to the month of Nissan to obtain their fresh start. A new celebration was designated to take place during the month of Nissan. It was and remains to this day, the time for the Passover where it would be remembered that God delivered the Israelites out of Egypt by way of the blood and the cross.
- God asks for an individual response to the blood and the cross.
Did you catch the second half of verse 3? “Each man is to take a lamb for his family, one for each household.”
This would be one of the rare occasions when the priests wouldn’t be the designated ones to offer the sacrifice on behalf of someone else. Each family would have to make a decision about the blood and the cross as each father was designated to take responsibility for his own home. Do you see the individual response called for here? Each family had to make a decision about whether they would obey the instructions regarding the blood and the cross or suffer the consequences that would result in death in their families.
Let me share something another layer deep with you. The Egyptians were people who believed your name could not be forgotten as you entered the afterlife. They believed your name was part of your personhood. They actually believed a person possessed five parts, and the name was one of the five. They believe all five parts had to make it into the afterlife with the person or else the person wouldn’t make it or would be negatively impacted in the afterlife.
That’s why we have hieroglyphics today of leader’s names that were chiseled into stone. Now stone was very expensive. Only the upper classes had access to stones for grave or tomb markers. Lower class homes and the slave homes were made of bricks of mud and straw which wouldn’t be the kind of materials to endure the test of time. No mark could be left in mud and straw and remain for any lengthy period of time.
But the doorposts and the doorframes of a lower class or slave home would be made of stone. It was there that each family would have their named chiseled into the stone. Are you with me? So when God asked the Israelites to place the blood on the doorframes and doorposts of the Israelites slave homes, He was telling them to make sure that their names were covered by the blood of the lamb!
Listen, it isn’t your name etched in the stone of a building or on a marker that will ensure you live on friends, it is that your name is written in the Lamb’s Book of Life because your need, your sin, has been covered by the Blood of the Lamb of God, Jesus Christ, who takes away the sins of the world (Rev. 21:27).
Before we leave this section of the Old Testament shadows of the cross, I will point out that 3. God desires that we all come to Him by the way of the blood and the cross.
Did you catch the end of verse 6? Take care of them until the fourteenth day of the month, when all the people of the community of Israel must slaughter them at twilight.
God sure desired that everyone would opt in. All of the people of Israel were invited to participate. John 3:16 tells us that God’s sacrifice of Christ on the cross on our behalf is for all who will believe, for all who will opt in, for all who will administer the prescription of the blood of Christ to their souls.
And the Israelites were given commands about the need to remember what God did for them through the blood and the cross as they left Egypt.
Commemorate this day, the day you came out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery, because the Lord brought you out of it with a mighty hand. Eat nothing containing yeast. [Exodus 13:3]
… He too shared in their humanity so that by His death He might destroy him who holds the power of death – that is, the devil – and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death. [Hebrews 2:14-15]
Just as Passover was a reminder to the Jewish people of what God had done, so the cross is a reminder of what God has done for us in Christ. The cross is the symbol of our freedom from slavery. I enjoyed touring the Billy Graham library several years ago and was so impressed by the statement the door to the facility makes.
You literally have to go through the cross to get into the building. Billy Graham wants everyone to know who visits his museum that his life is covered and qualified by the blood of Jesus shed on Calvary. Just as the blood and the sign of the cross was paramount to the Israelites’ deliverance from slavery in Egypt, the blood and the cross are paramount for our deliverance from the slavery of sin we all deal with apart from life with Christ.
The second Old Testament shadow I want to call your attention to is found in Number 2. However, rather than read it, I just want to explain it. There were twelve groups or twelve tribes that made up the Israelite nation. There were a lot of people in all. As God marched them out of Egypt toward the Promised Land and as it took a very long time, including some 40 years of wandering in the desert, there needed to be an organized way for them to meet with God. So, God gave them very detailed instructions about the construction of a tabernacle that would be portable and travel with them. Take the most OCD person you know and multiply it by infinity. That is how meticulous and specific God was about the building of the Tabernacle and the arrangement of His people around it.
The portable Tabernacle would be in the center of their campsite every time they settled down for a while. The tribes were organized into larger groups that were strategically and very on purpose placed to the north, south, east and west of the tabernacle.
The tribe of Levi would be in the very middle of the campsite where the worship and sacrifices would take place. The tribe of Ephraim became like a captain for the half tribes of Manasseh and Benjamin. They were all positioned to the west of tabernacle and Levites. The tribe of Dan became a captain for the tribes of Naphtali and Asher and they were positioned to the north of the Tabernacle and the Levites. The tribe of Judah became the captain of Issachar and Zebulon, and they were positioned to the east of the Tabernacle and the Levites. The tribe of Reuben became the captain of Simeon and Gad, and they were positioned to the south of the Tabernacle and the Levites.
So, what’s the big deal? Who cares about these directions? I mean, we have an east and west lobby, right? Is that supposed to be significant? No, but the groupings of the tribes around the Tabernacle was super significant.
Well, the groups in the north and south had about the same number of people. The group to the west had about a third less and the group to the east had the most which made their group stretch out the farther from the Tabernacle and the Levites. Is this symbolic somehow? Is there a reason that certain tribes were united together to form a certain number? Is it coincidence that Reuben and Dan’s groups were about the same size and they were directly opposite of each other? Does is mean anything that Judah’s tribe was stretched out further than the rest and that Ephraim’s tribe was a third shorter? You tell me. Look at this picture.
Long before crosses were ever constructed as a form of capital punishment, God arranged His people in the shape of a cross. He was revealing the blueprint for salvation, the centerpiece for Christianity. He arranged His people into a cross, into the blueprint that would later be executed as Jesus would die for the sins of the world. God purposely put the tribes together with the captains that He did in order to make sure there would be this kind of shape, this kind of symmetry, this kind of symbol. His people were cross people, people who were redeemed by blood through the cross. Could they see it? Did they get it? Did it remind them of the blood and the sign on the cross of their doorsteps and doorposts in Egypt? I don’t know.
Whether they ever saw it or not, one thing is clear. As Israel would camp, whenever an enemy would stand at an elevation above them and look down on them, the enemy would see the cross.
I want you to know, brothers and sisters in Christ, whenever Satan sees you, he has to look at you through the cross. He has to view you through the blood of Calvary. He cannot condemn you. He cannot possess you. He cannot have you because you have been purchased with a price, the precious blood of Jesus. We are people whose lives are now shaped by the cross and Christ’s victory has become our victory!
And if that all wasn’t enough to thrill your spirit, let me tell you that the furnishings of the Tabernacle, The Brazen Altar, The Brazen Laver, The Golden Candlesticks, The Table of Shewbread, The Altar of Incense, The Ark of the Covenant, and the Mercy Seat were all arranged inside the tabernacle in the shape of a cross!
I can’t make this stuff up. You literally had to walk the vertical and horizontal cross beams in order to get you to the Holy of Holies where you would commune with God’s Holy Spirit. Isn’t it the same for us today? Don’t we grow closer and more intimate with
God through the cross? People who ask me why they don’t feel God or why they can’t see Him or don’t experience Him, I want to say, “Have you approached Him through the cross?” It is the blood and the cross that gives us up close and personal access with God!
Ephesians 2:12-13 12 Remember that at that time you were separate from Christ, excluded from citizenship in Israel and foreigners to the covenants of the promise, without hope and without God in the world. 13 But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far away have been brought near through the blood of Christ.
You want to be close to God? Take a trip to Calvary! Sit there for a while. Think about what He has done and the love that He has lavished on you there. Let your heart be reminded that He has paid the price for you to come out of the slavery of sin. Dwell on the fact that He has given you a personal invitation to be covered by His blood. Your name can be written in the Lamb’s Book of Life! Consider that Christ’s victory can be your victory and that once you come to the cross your enemy can’t touch you because He can’t get through the cross to get to you!
If you are ready to walk out of Egypt, you will walk by way of the cross. If you are ready to experience a Promised Land adventure you will do so by way of the cross. And when it gets tough, and when you wander in the wilderness awhile, you will be renewed and strengthened and protected by the power of the cross.
The blood and the blueprint of the cross. They were God’s plan before the foundation of the world (Rev. 13:8) They were God’s plan as He cared for His chosen people. They are God’s plan for us today as we continue to look to the cross for salvation and deliverance for every aspect of our lives.