SERIES: Topical Messages: Christmas
SETTING: North Kelso Baptist Church
SERVICE: Sunday AM (December 13th, 2015)
SUBTITLE: Jesus before Bethlehem: Part 2 – The Lamb of God
SCRIPTURE: Exodus 12:1-14; I Corinthians 5:7; John 1:29
SUBJECT: Christ is featured as our Passover lamb
SUMMARY: The sacrifice of Christ secured exemption from death for God’s people
Our theme is: Christ is featured as our Passover Lamb
Proposition: The sacrifice of Christ does for the believer what the Passover did for the Israelites
Interrogatory Sentence: What does the sacrifice of Christ do for the believer that is pictured in the Passover for the Israelites?
Transitional Sentence: The passage before us describes at least three (3) comparisons of what the sacrifice of Christ does for the believer that is pictured in the Passover of the Israelites.
[The Title of the Message]
Jesus before Bethlehem: Part 2 – The Lamb of God
[Announce the Text]
Please open your Bibles to Exodus 12:1-14
Just as Genesis is known as the book of beginnings, Exodus is known as the book of redemption. Israel has been taken out of slavery from Egypt and is constituted as a new nation. Exodus is a historical narrative that records the giving of the law, the priesthood, the system of sacrifices, the system of worship, and the form of government for a redeemed people.
It is here in Exodus that we of the departure of God’s people from Egypt. I repeat this because Exodus is the central book in the OT which records God’s act of saving Israel and establishing them as a covenant community.
And it is here in Exodus that we see God’s on-going provision for His people. It is in Exodus where we see a covenant relationship between God and His people that is symbolized by His presence in the Tabernacle that He designed for them and required them to build.
So, the overarching theme of Exodus is the fulfillment of God’s promises to the patriarchs that he would make their descendants a great nation. Exodus picks up the narrative begun in Genesis. Like Genesis, Exodus was written by Moses.
Re-announce and read the text
Our text for today is Exodus 12:1-14
Prayer for illumination & understanding
Heavenly Father, through your Holy Spirit we ask you to open our hearts and minds for the sake, the honor, and the glory of your Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, so that as the Scriptures are read and your Word explained, we may hear with joy what you say to us today. We ask you Father to show us all that Christ is and what He has done for us. Amen.
1st Lieutenant John Robert Fox and his men were engaged in a fierce battle. He was directing artillery fire in the Italian town of Sommocolonia to stall a German advance until reinforcements arrived. The battle was horrible. While Lt. Fox was directing artillery fire on the enemy, he spotted a large German force moving in on his position.
Realizing that this force was a huge threat to his men, Lt. Fox called a final artillery strike—on himself, right on his actual position. When his men eventually retook the position, Fox’s body was found next to approximately 100 dead German troops and a medal was award the Medal of Honor posthumously. This is the ultimate sacrifice that a human being can make for another, “…to lay down his life.”
Today I am going to demonstrate how the sacrifice of Jesus on Calvary for his people was like the sacrifice of the Passover.
And so, I propose to you that the ultimate sacrifice that Jesus would make for his people is seen in the Passover sacrifice. The sacrifice of Christ does for the believer what the Passover did for the Israelites
What does the sacrifice of Christ does for the believer that is pictured in the Passover for the Israelites
Transitional Sentence: The passage before us describes at least three (3) comparisons of what the sacrifice of Christ does for the believer that is pictured in the Passover of the Israelites. Those three (3) comparisons are; a new calendar, a new community, and a new celebration.
1 Corinthians 5:7 says, “For indeed, Christ, our Passover, was sacrificed for us.”
And our text, Exodus 12:1-14 records a perpetual celebration that was to take place every year, from generation to generation in Israel’s history. It continued up until the very night when Jesus had gathered with his remaining eleven disciples to celebrate or observe the Passover the night before he was crucified.
At the cross of Calvary, the final Lamb, the final Passover lamb would be sacrificed for the sin of God’s people.
So, it is important for you to see what the sacrifice of Christ does for the believer that was pictured in the Passover for the Israelites. It is important that you see what is involved in the Passover that is involved in the sacrifice of Christ for you.
God established some concrete things for his covenant people and he has established some concrete things for us.
[God established for His people first of all…]
1A. A New Calendar (Vss. 1-2)
“Now the Lord spoke to Moses and Aaron in the land of Egypt, saying, ‘This month shall be your beginning of months; it shall be the first month of the year to you.’”
[The Jewish people had two calendars. The first calendar was…]
1B The Jewish Civil Calendar
The first calendar was their civil calendar. This calendar began in September. The Civil calendar is the official calendar of Kings, childbirth and contracts.
[The Second calendar was…”]
2B The Jewish Clerical Calendar
The Religious calendar is used to calculate the dates of the feasts and festivals. This calendar came into being here in Exodus 12. The first month of this new clerical, or religious calendar is the Passover.
God begins a new calendar for each of us. First of all we know that we have actually been “saved” from eternity past. But at some point God through His HS intersects and intervenes in our lives creating new spiritual life in us and we actually begin living that moment. We become a new and living being entering into a new calendar of living.
[So, God gave His people a new calendar by which to celebrate and commemorate their salvation, their redemption from slavery and bondage and from the land of Egypt. If you look closely at verse three (3) you will see that God also established for His people…]
2A A New Community Vss. 3a, 6)
“Speak to all the congregation of Israel…Then the whole assembly of the congregation of Israel…”
This is the very first time Israel has been called a community or a congregation. All the Israelites are put together into one unit, one group, - one community. We actually see God at this moment forming a community that is tied together with the proclamation of His character and nature among all the nations that Israel will encounter.
Rabbi Greenburg said, “The Exodus not only formed the people of Israel into a nation, it also shaped the Jewish people’s image of God as the God of History. Over and over in Jewish liturgy, reference is made to the Exodus from Egypt and to “God who has brought us from the house of bondage.”
[And so, God gave to the Jews a new calendar, and he made them into a new community to proclaim His glory, God also established for his people…]
3A A New Celebration (Vss. 3b-14)
This new celebration is known as the Passover. The Jews were to celebrate this new Passover as they prepared to leave Egypt on the last night of their slavery or bondage. And they were then to celebrate the Passover for generations to follow.
Charles Simeon comments that every detail of the Passover seemed to be designed to point to Jesus Christ. We will look at some of these details individually, but allow me to list them for you:
1B The Lamb was Scripted
[First thing we notice about the sacrifice is that…]
· It must be a lamb
Exodus 12:3 says that each man is to “take a lamb” for his own household. It couldn’t be a bull or a dove, which were sometimes used in other Old Testament sacrifices. God was very particular–it was to be a lamb or a goat. Nothing else would do.
When John saw Jesus, he cried out, “Look! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world (John 1:29). Paul says that “Christ, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed for us.” Revelation refers to Christ as the Lamb in 30 separate instances.
· It must be a male
Exodus 12:5 specifies that “the animals you choose must be year-old males.” Jesus fulfilled this in that he was the son born of the Virgin Mary.
· It must be a year-old lamb or goat
This means that the lamb must be in its prime, neither too young nor too old. Even so, “Christ offered up himself in the midst of his days, not in infancy with the babes in Bethlehem.”
· It must be without blemish
The Hebrew text uses a phrase that means “without defect.” This means that the Jewish men would have to carefully inspect their lambs to make sure there were no open sores, no patches of bare skin, no infections, no diseases, no blotches or blemishes, no sickness of any kind. This prevented a man from offering a lame or inferior creature while keeping the best for himself.
I Peter 1:19 picks up on this theme when it speaks of Jesus Christ as being “a lamb without blemish or defect.”
Hebrews 4:14-16 emphasizes that though Christ was tempted in all points as all men are, he was without sin. When Pontius Pilate finished examining him, he declared, “I find no fault in him” (John 19:6 KJV).
Even the hostile high priests could find no just cause to put him to death so they trumped up false charges against him.
It may be significant that the Passover lamb was selected on the 10th day of the month but not sacrificed until the 14th day. That gave 4 days to carefully examine the lamb. If Christ entered Jerusalem on Sunday and was crucified on Friday, then the intervening 4 days fit the same pattern. During those momentous days his bitter enemies used every possible tactic to discredit him, but each attempt utterly failed. They could not find even the smallest flaw in his character. Thus, even his worst enemies had to concede that he was fit to be a sacrifice for the sins of the whole world.
· It must be slain and roasted
Exodus 12 is quite clear on this point. All the lambs were to be slain at the same time and the blood drained form them. Then the carcasses were to be roasted and eaten whole. They were not to be boiled or eaten raw (both pagan customs). Anything left over was to be burned. Thus, the lamb was to be completely consumed.
Both the slaying and roasting picture the sufferings of Christ on the cross. Not only did he die, but his death itself was a complete sacrifice. He died the death of criminal hanging on a hated Roman cross. It was not the noble of Socrates drinking poison but the humiliating death of a man rejected by the world he came to save.
· It must have no broken bones
Exodus 12:46 specifies that when animals were chosen for the yearly Passover sacrifice, none of the bones were to be broken.
At this time it was the custom of the Romans to break the legs of those being crucified in order to hasten their death.
John 19:32-36 tells us that the Roman soldiers did not break Jesus’ legs because he was already dead. Verse 36 points out that this happened to fulfill the scripture that says, “Not one of his bones will be broken.” Although the quoted verse happens to be Psalm 34:20, the ultimate reference goes back to Exodus 12.
· It must be offered “between the evenings”
This unusual phrase is a literal translation of the Hebrew phrase found in Exodus 12:6. Although the NIV says that the offerings were to be made at twilight, the words literally mean “between the evenings,” which in Jewish thought meant between 3-5 P.M.
The New Testament tells us that Jesus was crucified at the “third hour,” meaning 9:00 A.M., since the Jews reckoned time in 24-hour periods beginning at 6:00 A.M. Matthew 26:45 tells us that there was darkness from the sixth hour until the ninth hour, or from 12 noon to 3:00 P.M. Shortly thereafter Jesus uttered his final words and died. His body was then taken down from the cross before sundown. Thus, Jesus died “between the evenings” (3-5 P.M.) at the exact hour the Passover lambs were being sacrificed throughout Israel.
· It must be sacrificed by all the people
Exodus 12 stresses that lambs must be offered by every man for every family in Israel. And all the lambs must be slaughtered at precisely the same time. Thus, the lambs represented the total participation of the nation in the blood sacrifice. By the same token, Christ was crucified by the Romans on behalf of the Jews. Everyone participated in his death.
His death was made as a sacrifice for the sin of all of his people. What many lambs did for many people, Jesus the Lamb of God did for all of his people?
· The blood must be sprinkled
Again, Exodus is very specific in describing the ritual. Once the lamb had been slaughtered and the blood drained, the father must take a bunch of hyssop (a leafy bush), dip it in the blood, and then put some of the blood on the top and sides of the doorframe.
The blood would be sign that the family had sacrificed a lamb as the Lord had commanded. “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” (Exodus 12: 13).
This pictures not the death of Christ, but our application of his death to our hearts by the HS through faith. That’s why I Peter 1:2 speaks of the sprinkling of the blood of Christ. The lamb alone could not save an Israelite. Not even a dead lamb could save.
Not even the blood in the basin could save. Only the blood sprinkled on the doorpost could spare the people from the terrible judgment of God.
Think of it this way. Jesus Christ is our only hope of salvation. He is God’s Lamb offered for the sin of the world. However, Jesus’ blood saves but only when taken by faith. For those who reject the blood, even the Lamb of God cannot save them.
The Israelites might have done many wise things, and availed themselves of many preventatives against the destruction of the angel; but if they had not sprinkled the blood upon the doorposts they would have perished. Men may strive to do many things to ameliorate their condition as sinners, but the Cross of Christ is their only real protection.
[Tenth and finally…]
· The meat must be fully consumed
Not only was the bloodshed and the meat roasted, but the family was to eat the meat together with bitter herbs and unleavened bread (a reminder of their days in Egypt). They were not allowed to keep the meat for later use. Any part not eaten must be burned.
Thus the Israelites signified their complete participation in the death of the lamb. His life was taken, his blood shed, the blood applied, the meat roasted, and the meat consumed.
Through these measures the Jews were reminded that their redemption came through the death of a substitute. The lamb died in their place. By eating its meat, they signified their complete identification with the lamb who died for them.
The meaning for us is plain. Christ saves us when we “eat his flesh and drink his blood” by faith. Jesus used these very terms in John 6:53-58. He said this speaking not of literal flesh and literal blood but of what saving faith is all about. We are to take Christ completely, wholly, absolutely, and without qualification. When we take him as Savior in this manner, it is like eating and drinking at a feast.
Do you see the connection between the sacrifice of the Passover and the life that we have today because of the sacrifice of Jesus Christ?
o When we are redeemed by the work of the HS on the basis of the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ our life begins. Up until that point we are merely dead men heading to the “land” of the dead. But at salvation we get a new calendar – a new beginning.
o If anyone is in Christ he/she is a new creation. Actually old things, such as who we were in Adam passes away and we are now a man in Christ – all things become new. We are placed into a new community – the body of Christ.
o In this new community we have a new celebration – a brand new life in Christ, a joint heir with Christ, having received everything that we need to live godly in Christ Jesus.
§ We should never get over what God has done for us through His Son, Jesus Christ!
§ We should never get over the fact that we have been freed from the penalty of sin and freed from the power of sin
§ We should never get over what the fact that we have been delivered from death and have been made alive.
All of these principles are pictured in a powerful way in the first Passover that is described for us right here in Exodus 12. What I want to do in the time remaining is look at three (3) things that are involved in this new celebration:
2B The Lamb was Selected (Vss. 3b-5)
1C The Instructions
[The first instruction focused on the actual selection…]
“…on the 10th of this month every man shall take for himself a lamb, according to the house of his father, a lamb for a household.”
[The second part of the instruction focused on the actual size…]
“…and if the household is too small for the lamb, let him and his neighbor next to his house take it according to the number of the persons; according to each man’s need you shall make your count for the lamb.”
The celebration of the Passover was centered in the home. If a family was too small to eat the whole lamb they could invite another family to share the meal so that the lamb would be fully consumed.
[Second, there was…]
2C The Inspection
“Your lamb shall be without blemish, a male of the first year. You may take it from the sheep or the goats. Now you shall keep it until the fourteenth day of the same month…”
Each family head would select the finest, fittest year old lamb or goat from their flocks. They were to watch it for four (4) days. Why? This was how they would know if the lamb or goat had defects or flaws.
This animal had to be “perfect.” By the way, it wasn’t that this would make them taste better, but it was because this animal was a substitutionary sacrifice for every member of the household. To be sacrificed to God it had to be perfect. (Just like Jesus was perfect, without sin, flaw, or blemish.)
Listen to a description of the perfection of our Lord:
· “God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. (2 Corinthians 5:21, NIV)
· “You were redeemed…with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect. He was chosen before the creation of the world, but was revealed in these last times for your sake.” (1 Peter 1:18-20, NIV)
[Do you see the connection? Well, the lamb was scripted and then selected. Next, we see that…]
3B The Lamb was Slain (Vs. 6)
“Then the whole assembly of the congregation of Israel shall kill it at twilight.”
Remember the family had watched, inspected, and went over this lamb with a fine tooth comb for four (4) days. Now it was time to kill the lamb.
Lest you have forgotten, Israel is about to be delivered from the land of Egypt. But they were not automatically exempt from the last plague that God was going to send to the inhabitants of Egypt. Every household was under the threat of death, including the Jews. But God had provided a covering, a sacrifice, a deliverance for them.
Don’t forget the deliverance he has provided for us through Christ Jesus: “Christ, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed.” (1 Cor. 5:7, NIV)
This is important! At the first Passover at the exodus there was one lamb or goat sacrificed for the sin of a household. Later on when God gave the Law through Moses, a sacrificial system was installed so that once a year one lamb was sacrificed for the sin of the nation.
That pointed toward the day when God would have one last and final sacrifice made for the sin of all his people, both Jews and Gentiles. Jesus Christ became sin to pay for the sin of his people in order to satisfy God.
1 Peter 2:24 (NIV) “He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; by his wounds you have been healed.”
1 John 2:24 (NIV) “he is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world.”
[But let’s get back to Exodus, look at vs. 7]
Exodus 12:7 (NIV) Then they are to take some of the blood and put in on the sides and tops of the doorframes of the houses where they eat the lambs.”
For the sacrifice to be effective the blood of the lamb had to be applied to the doorframe of the house.
[So, the lamb was first scripted, secondly selected, and then thirdly, was slain. Fourth and finally, we that…]
4B The Lamb was Served (Vss. 8-14)
“Then they shall eat the flesh on that night; roasted in fire, with unleavened bread and with bitter herbs that shall eat it.” (Exodus 12:9, NKJV)
· So a meal was to be served featuring the lamb that they had killed
· The eating of this demonstrated their faith.
· They were obeying the command of God – they might fully understand what they were doing, but they obeyed in faith
· To eat was to trust and obey
“Do not eat it raw, nor boiled at all with water, but roasted in the fire, its head with its legs and its entrails. You shall let none of it remain until morning, and what remains of it until morning you shall burn with fire.” (Exodus 12:9-10, NKJV)
The lamb was to be kept whole and not boiled. Why? Why could they not boil it? Boiling would have caused the meat to separate from the bone. And the bones would have had to be broken to get into a pot. The lamb was to be roasted whole over fire.
“And thus you shall eat it with a belt on your waist, your sandals on your feet, and your staff in your hand. So you shall eat it in haste. It is the Lord’s Passover.” (Exodus 11, NKJV)
Here is your original fast food! God’s people had to eat the entire meal in a hurry while fully dressed for travel. The exodus or redemption from Egypt was about to take place.
Why? Why were they to do all of this? What was it all designed to accomplish? Well let’s let the LORD explain:
“For I will pass through the land of Egypt on that night, and will strike all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, both man and beast; and against all the gods of Egypt I will execute judgment: I am the LORD. 13 Now 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 the plague shall not be on you to destroy you when I strike the land of Egypt.” (Exodus 12:12-13, NKJV)
The word for “pass-over” doesn’t just mean that God will overlook something or someone or some household. The word carries a deeper meaning than that. It has inherent within it the idea of “protection.”
It was not just that the Lord passed by the houses of the Israelites, but it meant that He stood guard, protecting each blood-marked door.
“So this day shall be to you a memorial; and you shall keep it as a feast to the LORD throughout your generations. You shall keep it as a feast by an everlasting ordinance.” (Exodus 12:14. NKJV)
[What do you say we wrap this up?]
Stop at some point today or this week and think deeply about the Hebrew people who were slaves on this night who were about to be redeemed. They had to be thinking thoughts like, “this is my last day as a slave…this is my last night in bondage to the Egyptians…This night will forever change things for me…I have a new beginning or a new calendar…I am part of a new community…I now have a new celebration.
Isn’t that what Jesus accomplished for us on the cross? He gave you a new beginning or a new calendar the day he saved you. He put you into the church, a new community of people to love you, support you, and he gave you a new celebration – daily celebrating the salvation of God and as often as you eat the bread and drink the wine.
This is the Christmas season. I remind that we all know that “Jesus is the reason for the season.” As we look at our series this year called, Jesus before Bethlehem, remember and appreciate that Jesus is “The Lamb of God.” This is Jesus before Bethlehem – Part 2, The Lamb of God.