The Story of Patriarchs and Prophets
by Ellen G. White
Chapter 24: The Passover
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When the demand for Israel's release had been first
presented to the king of Egypt, the warning of the most
terrible of the plagues had been given. Moses was directed to say
to Pharaoh, "Thus saith the Lord, Israel is My son, even My first-born:
and I say unto thee, Let My son go, that he may serve Me:
and if thou refuse to let him go, behold, I will slay thy son, even
thy first-born." Exodus 4:22, 23. Though despised by the
Egyptians, the Israelites had been honored by God, in that they were
singled out to be the depositaries of His law. In the special
blessings and privileges accorded them, they had pre-eminence
among the nations, as the first-born son had among brothers.
The judgment of which Egypt had first been warned, was to
be the last visited. God is long-suffering and plenteous in mercy.
He has a tender care for the beings formed in His image. If the
loss of their harvests and their flocks and herds had brought
Egypt to repentance, the children would not have been smitten;
but the nation had stubbornly resisted the divine command, and
now the final blow was about to fall.
Moses had been forbidden, on pain of death, to appear again
in Pharaoh's presence; but a last message from God was to be
delivered to the rebellious monarch, and again Moses came
before him, with the terrible announcement: "Thus saith the Lord,
About midnight will I go out into the midst of Egypt: and all
the first-born in the land of Egypt shall die, from the first-born of
Pharaoh that sitteth upon his throne, even unto the first-born
of the maidservant that is behind the mill; and all the first-born of
beasts. And there shall be a great cry throughout all the land of
Egypt, such as there was none like it, nor shall be like it any
more. But against any of the children of Israel shall not a dog
move his tongue, against man or beast: that ye may know how [p. 274] that the Lord doth put a difference between the Egyptians and
Israel. And all these thy servants shall come down unto me, and
bow down themselves unto me, saying, Get thee out, and all the
people that follow thee: and after that I will go out."
Before the execution of this sentence the Lord through Moses
gave direction to the children of Israel concerning their departure
from Egypt, and especially for their preservation from the
coming judgment. Each family, alone or in connection with
others, was to slay a lamb or a kid "without blemish," and with
a bunch of hyssop sprinkle its blood on "the two side posts and
on the upper doorpost" of the house, that the destroying angel,
coming at midnight, might not enter that dwelling. They were
to eat the flesh roasted, with unleavened bread and bitter herbs, at
night, as Moses said, "with your loins girded, your shoes on your
feet, and your staff in your hand; and ye shall eat it in haste: it
is the Lord's Passover."
The Lord declared: "I will pass through the land of Egypt
this night, and will smite all the first-born in the land of Egypt,
both man and beast; and against all the gods of Egypt I will
execute judgment. . . . And the blood shall be to you for a token
upon the houses where ye are: and when I see the blood, I will
pass over you, and the plague shall not be upon you to destroy
you, when I smite the land of Egypt."
In commemoration of this great deliverance a feast was to be
observed yearly by the people of Israel in all future generations.
"This day shall be unto you for a memorial; and ye shall keep it a
feast to the Lord throughout your generations: ye shall keep it
a feast by an ordinance forever." As they should keep the feast
in future years, they were to repeat to their children the story of
this great deliverance, as Moses bade them: "Ye shall say, It is the
sacrifice of the Lord's Passover, who passed over the houses of the
children of Israel in Egypt, when He smote the Egyptians, and
delivered our houses."
Furthermore, the first-born of both man and beast were to be
the Lord's, to be bought back only by a ransom, in acknowledgment
that when the first-born in Egypt perished, that of Israel,
though graciously preserved, had been justly exposed to the same
doom but for the atoning sacrifice. "All the first-born are Mine,"
the Lord declared; "for on the day that I smote all the first-born [p. 277] in the land of Egypt, I hallowed unto Me all the first-born in
Israel, both man and beast: Mine they shall be," Numbers 3:13.
After the institution of the tabernacle service the Lord chose
unto Himself the tribe of Levi for the work of the sanctuary,
instead of the first-born of the people. "They are wholly given
unto Me from among the children of Israel," He said. "Instead
of the first-born of all the children of Israel, have I taken them
unto Me." Numbers 8:16. All the people were, however, still
required, in acknowledgment of God's mercy, to pay a redemption
price for the first-born son. Numbers 18:15, 16.
The Passover was to be both commemorative and typical, not
only pointing back to the deliverance from Egypt, but forward
to the greater deliverance which Christ was to accomplish in
freeing His people from the bondage of sin. The sacrificial lamb
represents "the Lamb of God," in whom is our only hope of
salvation. Says the apostle, "Christ our Passover is sacrificed for us."
1 Corinthians 5:7. It was not enough that the paschal lamb be
slain; its blood must be sprinkled upon the doorposts; so the
merits of Christ's blood must be applied to the soul. We must
believe, not only that He died for the world, but that He died
for us individually. We must appropriate to ourselves the virtue
of the atoning sacrifice.
The hyssop used in sprinkling the blood was the symbol of
purification, being thus employed in the cleansing of the leper
and of those defiled by contact with the dead. In the psalmist's
prayer also its significance is seen: "Purge me with hyssop, and
I shall be clean: wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow."
The lamb was to be prepared whole, not a bone of it being
broken: so not a bone was to be broken of the Lamb of God, who
was to die for us. John 19:36. Thus was also represented the
completeness of Christ's sacrifice.
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