Under the Blood
January 11th, 1959 @ 8:15 AM
UNDER THE BLOOD
Dr. W. A. Criswell
1-11-59 8:15 a.m.
You are listening to the services of the First Baptist Church in Dallas. This is the pastor bringing the morning message, and before I do, may I make this announcement? It had been our hope and prayer that Billy Graham could be with us at the 11:00 o’clock hour this morning. It was so arranged, but he is not well, and Dr. Bell, his father-in-law, called me from Montreat, North Carolina, last night. They have had physicians with him from Chicago and Louisville and elsewhere. And he is in danger of being incapacitated for all of his work, so he must lessen on many of these engagements he has already accepted.
He will try to carry through his appointments with the great evangelistic conference beginning at 2:00 o’clock this afternoon, but all other appearances he is having to cancel. And of course, that meant the 11:00 o’clock hour today. Our preacher this morning at 11:00 o’clock who takes Billy Graham’s place will be young Howard Butt, and we shall have a wonderful and blessed time with him. The hour will be televised at 11:00 o’clock, and all of us can share in it, either here at the church or in our homes over the television or the radio.
Now we are preaching through the life of Moses and have come to the twelfth chapter of the Book of Exodus. Exodus 12, and if you will turn in your Bibles to the twelfth chapter of the Book of Exodus, you can easily follow the morning message entitled Under the Blood. The twelfth chapter of the Book of Exodus:
And the Lord spake unto Moses and Aaron in the land of Egypt, saying,
This month shall be unto you the beginning of months: it shall be the first month of the year to you.
This is the birthday of the people of the Lord. And as one of the great authors and commentators on the Word of God said, this is the birthday of history itself. “This month shall be unto you the beginning of months: it shall be the first month of the year to you” [Exodus 12:2].
However we may be in age, we are no older than that day when we began with God. A man may be eighty years of age chronologically and yet five years of age actually. All of the days and the years spent around the fleshpots of Egypt do not count. They are not, only the days that are spent with God, “This month shall be unto you the beginning of months: it shall be the first month of the year to you” [Exodus 12:1-2]. The life down in the darkness and death and in the graves of Egypt do not count, it is this new life with God, “the beginning of months” [Exodus 12:2].
Then He gives the ordinance. He gives the word for the Feast of the Passover.
Speak ye unto all the congregation of Israel, saying, In the tenth day of this month they shall take to them every man a lamb, according to the house of their fathers, a lamb for a house:
And if the household be too little for the lamb, let him and his neighbor next unto his house take it according to the number of the souls; every man according to his eating shall make your count for the lamb.
[Exodus 12: 3, 4]
You are not to eat it by yourself. There is something about the way God has made us that creates in the family of the Lord a fellowship, a koinonia, a communion. You are not to eat it by yourself. You are to eat it by families. And when a man says, I can serve God without my neighbor and without my fellow Christians and without the church, he has a way he has invented peculiar to himself. God did not do that. That is just like a man saying, “God made me to breathe air, but I have my own ideas about breathing air. I do not think I will breathe.” Or, “God made me that I have to eat, but I have my own ideas. I am not going to eat.”
No, you do not circumvent or overturn the way God hath made us. And that applies in the world of the spirit as well as in the world of the body. God made our lives dependent upon the circumambient air, upon the sun that shines, upon the food and the water that we eat and drink. So it is in our spiritual lives. God hath made us according to an infinite pattern and an infinite wisdom, and a part of that pattern is the social life, the community life, the fellowship life of His people.
We prosper and we are helped and we are encouraged by one another and especially in the household of faith and in the church of God. I need encouragement. You need encouragement. We need to be strengthened in the walk of our faith, and we find that encouragement here in the house of the Lord.
If we are blue or discouraged, we can make it a matter of prayer, bearing one another’s burdens. If we fall into difficulty and trial and trouble and sickness and illness and death, there are Christian friends to stand by us, to pray with us. In them we find strength and help, leaning together on the strong arm of the Lord.
So to begin with, in this birthday of the people of God, we have a community, a family. And, if the family is too little, that does not mean that they forsake the rite. They are to join themselves to the family next to them and thus keep the Lord’s Passover [Exodus 12:4]. Now:
Your lamb shall be without blemish, a male of the first year: innocent,
ye shall take it out from the sheep, or from the goats:
And ye shall keep it up until the fourteenth day of the same month: and the whole assembly of the congregation of Israel shall kill it in the evening—
to us that is the late afternoon—in the evening—oh, say at three o’clock in the afternoon.
And they shall take of the blood, and strike it on the two side posts and on the upper door post of the houses, wherein they shall eat it.
And they shall eat the flesh in that night, roast with fire, and unleavened bread; and with bitter herbs they shall eat it.
Eat none of it raw, nor sodden at all with water, but roast with fire; his head with his legs, and with the purtenance thereof.
And ye shall let nothing of it remain until the morning; and that which remaineth of it until the morning ye shall burn with fire.
And thus shall ye eat it, as a pilgrim—
thus are we to live in this life and in this world, as pilgrims—
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.
For I will pass through the land of Egypt this night, and will smite all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, both man and beast . . . I am the Lord.
And the blood shall be to you for a token, a sign, 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.
And this day shall be unto you for a memorial; and ye shall keep it to a feast to the Lord throughout your generations; ye shall keep it a feast by an ordinance for ever—
Now the twenty-fourth verse—
Ye shall observe this thing for an ordinance to thee and to thy sons for ever.
And it shall come to pass, when you be come to the land which the Lord will give you, according as He hath promised, that ye shall keep this service.
And it shall come to pass, when your children shall say unto you, What mean ye by this service?
That 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. And the people bowed their head and worshipped.
What an awful night of judgment in the land of Egypt. And all alike were subject to it. In the previous, preliminary admonitory plagues, all nine of them [Exodus 7:14-10:29], Israel had enjoyed an unbought, painless exemption [Exodus 8:22-23, 9:4, 26, 11:7]. The murrain had not destroyed their cattle [Exodus 9:6-7]. The tempest had not swept their fields [Exodus 9:26]. The locust had not eaten their crops [Exodus 10:12-15]. The darkness had not obscured their villages [Exodus 10:22-23].
But in this judgment, all alike were under the terrible eye of the angel of death [Exodus 12:12-13, 22-23]. Because a man was a son of Abraham delivered him not. Because he was high or low, known or unknown, there was no right of birth or place or position. All alike were under the terrible judgment of God that awful and terrible night. The Egyptian, the stranger in the land, the house of Israel, the children of Abraham, all alike were under the terrible judgment of the almighty God, and all alike faced an inevitable and certain death. Death in the land, death in the night, death threatened against every home and every house, from that of Pharaoh’s, who set on the throne, to the maiden girl who worked at the mill.
That is same kind of a gospel that John the Baptist preached. All alike were to repent [Matthew 3:2]. All were to confess their sins, and all were to come to be baptized, a washing, a purification [Matthew 3:1-6]. And when some of those Jews hearing John the Baptist preach said, “We have no need to repent; we have Abraham to our father” [Matthew 3:9; Luke 3:8]. John the Baptist replied, “The axe is now laid unto the root of the tree [Matthew 3:10; Luke 3:9], and the branches cut off shall be burned with unquenchable fire [Matthew 3:10, 12]. Repent ye for the kingdom of heaven is at hand” [Matthew 3:2].
And that is why they rejected the ministry of John the Baptist. They had no need for repentance. By birth and by right, they were the children of God. And John the Baptist says by birth and by right, there are no children of God [Matthew 3:2, 9]. “Except ye repent ye shall all likewise perish” [Luke 13:3, 5], said Jesus Himself, carrying through the great gospel message of John the Baptist.
Thus it is in this awful night of the Passover, all alike were under the dread of that final and irrevocable judgment. “I will pass over this night. I will pass over, and death is to visit every house and every home and every family” [Exodus 12:12, 23, 29]. That is like the preaching of Paul the apostle; “All have sinned, and come short of the glory of God” [Romans 3:23]. “But You do not understand, Lord, how good I am and how splendid and how immaculate and how perfect has been my life.”
God says that the righteousness of your life is as filthy rags in His sight [Isaiah 64:6]. All of us are unclothed. All of us are blemished. All of us are creatures of sin and iniquity [Ephesians 2:1]. All of us fall short [Romans 3:23], and all of us face alike the condemnation of death [Ezekiel 18:4; Romans 6:23]. Whether he is the son of Abraham or a son of Nimrod, whether he is a Babylonian or a Chaldean, whether he is an Egyptian or an Israelite, whether I am here in this church with my fathers and mothers before me or whether I am a pagan heathen in the darkest continent, I am under the judgment of God. All of us face a like terror.
But, but what the Israelite did not possess by right, he could possess by grace [Exodus 12:3-13, 26-27]. And though the goodness of God did not say he was saved, the grace of God pointed a way of escape, and that is the gospel message. What I do not have by birth and by right, what I have not received as an inheritance from my father and my mother, I can have by the grace [Ephesians 2:8] and mercy [Titus 3:5] and goodness of God [Ephesians 1:7], pointing out a way of escape.
And the way is the gospel. It is the way of substitution. It is the way of expiation. It is the way of atonement. Take a lamb. Take a lamb. Take a lamb; the lamb without spot, without blemish, a male of the firstlings of the flock, take a lamb, take a lamb [Exodus 12:3-6].
Keep it in the family. Those homes were very poor homes and very small homes. If you have ever lived in any country where the people were very poor, the animals live with the people. You know that. When you go over there to those homes almost anywhere outside of this affluent western, American, European world, you will find those people and their animals living together. Well, that is the way it was here. Take a lamb, take a lamb.
And four days it is to live with you. It is to be kept up with you. By that God meant to identify the lamb with the family. From the tenth day of this first beginning month through the fourteenth day of that first beginning month, the lamb is to be kept with you [Exodus 12:3, 6].
I can imagine by that time how the little children came to look upon it, pet it, love it, hold it, caress it. It became identified with the family. And then, at the time of the evening sacrifice, in the afternoon of the fourteenth day, the lamb is to be solemnly slain by the head of the family, and the blood sprinkled on the outside of the house, on the lintels, on the doorposts [Exodus 12:6-7]. What a strange ordinance.
It was a public sign that this house recognized its guilt, its lack, its shortcoming, its sin, its depravity. God’s people are not people who walk up and down the land in pride, in personal egotism, calling all men to see how fine and how strong and how great we are. But God’s people are a meek and a humble people who walk before the Lord, conscious of their needs and their weakness and their sin.
Publicly, publicly, this is a household of guilt and of need and of sin. And the blood was a sign of expiation. A life has been sacrificed here; death has visited here; blood has been spilled here. Atonement, expiation has been made here. And the sign was public, where everybody passing by could look upon it and see, atonement, substitution, a life. A life, slain, poured out here in this place, in this home, in this family [Exodus 12:6-7].
And that commemorative rite came from our Lord to the children of Israel in an unusual way. Thereafter, thereafter, every first birth was to be dedicated to the Lord. In Exodus 13:2, “Sanctify unto Me all the firstborn, all the firstborn, whatsoever openeth the womb among the children of Israel, of man and of beast: it is Mine.” Sanctify unto Me, dedicate unto Me, consecrate, set apart unto Me all the firstborn.
Now may I point out to you another thing about us who belong to Homo sapiens, all of us who belong to the human race. You look at the twelfth and the thirteenth verses of this memorial ordinance God gave to the children of God forever [Exodus 13: 2-13]. In the thirteenth chapter, the twelfth and thirteenth verses. Now, look at it:
Thou shalt set apart—
by the way, the Hebrew of “set apart” there is “pass over”; thou shalt pass over unto the Lord. It is the same word “pass over” as the death angel that night—
thou shalt pass over unto the Lord all that openeth a matrix, and every firstling that cometh of a beast; the males shall be the Lord’s.
Every firstling of an ass thou shalt redeem with a lamb; and if thou wilt not redeem it, thou shalt break his neck: and all the firstborn of man among thy children shalt thou redeem.
Now I have to say that in my own words or else you will not see what God hath written there. All of the firstborn of animals that could be sacrificed, of clean animals, were given unto the Lord.
But what about an unclean animal? That belongs to the Lord, but it is an unclean animal and cannot be sacrificed. It cannot be dedicated unto the Lord. What about an unclean animal? Now, an ass was an unclean animal. All these things are ceremonially delineated, ceremonially unclean. An ass was a ceremonially unclean animal. All the firstborn belonged to the Lord, and in the firstborn of a clean animal, it could be given to God and sacrificed unto the Lord.
But what about an unclean animal? And an ass was an unclean animal [Leviticus 11:26]. What about an unclean animal? The firstborn of an unclean animal could not be sacrificed unto the Lord, so the man had to do one of two things; he had to break its neck and kill it, or else he had to redeem it with a lamb [Exodus 13:12-13].
Now a man is in the same category with an ass. He is an unclean animal. And he has to be redeemed, just like the foal of an ass has to be redeemed [Exodus 13:13]. He is an unclean animal. And that is where you get the idea of Israel being redeemed. Far more than Israel is described as the beloved of Jehovah, they are described as the redeemed of the Lord. They are bought with a price. They are an unclean people. We are an undone and unclean people, and we are redeemed unto the Lord. “Every firstling of an ass shalt thou redeem with a lamb; and if thou shalt not redeem it, thou shalt break his neck: and all the firstborn of man among thy children shalt thou redeem” [Exodus 13:13].
God says we are unfit and undone and unclean [Isaiah 64:6]. We are the children of iniquity, conceived in sin [Psalms 51:5]. And God says we have to be saved [Acts 4:12]. We have to be bought. We have to be redeemed. And our redemption in this meaningful sacrifice is a lamb [1 Peter 1:18-19].
Now in the fifth chapter of 1 Corinthians, in the fifth chapter of 1 Corinthians, in the seventh verse, 1 Corinthians 5:7—when you study your Bible, you ought always to do it with a pencil, preferably one with red lead—1 Corinthians 5:7, “For even Christ our Passover is sacrificed for us” [Exodus 12:11]. What I read back here—by the way, you ought to put by the side of 1 Corinthians 5:7, you ought to write Exodus 12, Exodus 12, “For even Christ our Passover is sacrificed for us.” This ordinance of the Passover is the gospel before the gospel. Christ is called our Passover, not because of the ritual back there in the Mosaic legislation, but the Mosaic legislation, this ordinance of the Passover, was given by God because Christ was to be our Passover [1 Corinthians 5:7]. And all of these ordinances, so strange and so unusual to these Israelites who were commanded to obey them, all of them had their reference and their meaning in Christ.
I would think that these blessed people here who observed that ordinance thought this is the strangest thing, the most unusual arrangement. Why does the Lord God Jehovah want us to kill a lamb and to sprinkle its blood openly on the lintels and the doorposts [Exodus 12:6-7], and to eat it dressed as a pilgrim and in haste? [Exodus 12:11].
We do not find its meaning until we find it in Christ the Lamb of God [1 Corinthians 5:7]. And the ordinance was given because it was an adumbration, a type, a prefiguration, a gospel which was to find its ultimate meaning and fulfillment in Jesus our Lord [Matthew 5:17; Romans 10:4]. So with all the sacrificial system, the pouring out of blood [Deuteronomy 12:27], entering through the veil with blood of atonement [Leviticus 16:15-19], all of the sacrificial system had its meaning in Jesus Christ the Lamb of God [1 Peter 1:18-19]. I often think about the sainted apostle John. The first time that he saw Jesus, he heard John the Baptist as he pointed Him out, and as he said, “Behold the Lamb of God, that taketh away the sin of the world” [John 1:29].
And when that same sainted apostle John was an old, old man, on the island of Patmos, there to die of exposure and privation [Revelation 1:9], he saw heaven open and heard the voices of ten thousand times ten thousands of angels singing and adoring Him that sat upon the throne [Revelation 5:11-14]. The Lion of the tribe of Judah hath prevailed [Revelation 5:5], and when John turned to look who it was that sat upon the throne, you remember what he said that he saw? “And I saw a Lamb as it had been slain” [Revelation 5:6].
[He] never got away from it, “The Lamb of God that taketh away the sin of the world” [John 1:29]. All of these ordinances, these rituals, the shedding of blood [Hebrews 9:22], the entering into the Holy Place with blood of atonement [Leviticus 16:15-19], all of it had its meaning in the Lamb of God, our Savior, the cross of Jesus Christ [Matthew 27:32-50].
Now in just the few moments remaining, may I say three things about this substitution, the life slain for the family, for the home, for the people, for the soul, in that awful night of judgment [Exodus 12:5-13, 22-23].
The first thing, deliverance was procured by the death of the lamb. It was not procured by the lamb unblemished and unspotted, as beautiful and as innocent as unspotted and as unblemished as it might have been, but by the death of the lamb [1 Peter 1:18-19]. “Without the shedding of blood there is no remission of sins” [Hebrews 9:22]. If our Savior had continued to this present day, going through the cities of Israel doing good [Acts 10:38], they and we had yet been in our sins. We are not saved by His beautiful life, by His matchless and spotless soul, by the glory of His character, the wonder of His gracious deeds and works; by His stripes we are healed [Isaiah 53:5], not by His obedient life. “Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone: but if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit” [John 12:24].
In the life of Christ we are separated [Romans 7:4]. We could never attain unto the beauty and perfection of the glory of the life of Jesus, but in His death we are joined unto Him in the resurrection [Romans 6:3-4]. We are children of the resurrection [1 Peter 1:3]. We are the children of life. We are children of the glorious triumph of Jesus over death [1 Corinthians 15:54-57]. It is on the cross that He bore our sins [1 Peter 2:24]. It is on the cross that He was made sin for us [2 Corinthians 5:21]. We are saved, not by the beautiful, unblemished, spotless life of the Lamb of God, but we are saved by His death [1 Corinthians 15:3; Galatians 1:4]. The cross procured for us the opening of the floodgates of everlasting mercy.
A second observation, that atonement and that salvation is full, and final, and complete forever and forever [John 3:16, 19:30; Romans 5:11]. “In my hand no price I bring, simply to Thy cross I cling” [from “Rock of Ages,” Augustus M. Toplady]. Under the blood, on the inside of that house, anyone, anyone who had faith enough to come inside and the blood on the lintel and doorposts was complete. He did nothing. He said nothing. He wrought nothing. He just trusted the grace and the mercy and the promise of God [Exodus 12:13].
We are saved that way. Naught that we have done. Couldn’t earn it, couldn’t buy it, couldn’t be good enough for it. Jesus bowed His head and said, “It is finished,” and gave up the ghost [John 19:30]. “It is finished.” It is a complete atonement. The Spirit multiplies the work within us, to be better, to be more dedicated, to pray more, to love more, to give more of ourselves to God. The fruits of the Spirit multiply within us as we grow in every grace, but the work of Christ for us is a completed work forever and forever. It is final. It is full. It is finished. It is complete [John 19:30].
This last observation, anyone who would have faith enough to take hyssop and sprinkle the blood on the lintels and the doorpost would be saved, anyone [Exodus 12:22-23]. If an Egyptian that night, having heard the gospel from the lips of Moses, if an Egyptian that awful night had killed a lamb, sprinkled the blood on the lintels and on the doorposts, he would have been saved under the blood. If an Israelite that night, hearing the gospel from the lips of Moses, had said, “I will not believe nor will I sprinkle the blood on the doorposts of my house,” he that night would have been under the judgment of Almighty God.
That is the gospel. Any man can come. Any man can turn. Any man can be saved [Romans 10:9-13]. Any man can trust in the word and promise of God. Any man can look to the Lamb, to the cross, to the crucified One [Acts 16:30-31]. There is life for a look. Look and live. Look and live [John 3:14-15; Numbers 21:8-9]. Look and live, my brother, live under the blood. “When I see the blood, I will pass over you” [Exodus 12:13]. Not, “When I see your good works.” Not, “When I see your unblemished and faultless character,” so-called. But, “When I see the blood, I will pass over you.” For Jesus’ sake, expiation, atonement, substitution, for Jesus’ sake, you are pardoned, you are forgiven [Ephesians 4:32]. Come, a redeemed family [Ephesians 1:7], born again children of the Lord [John 3:3], washed in the blood of the Lamb [Revelation 1:5].
While we sing this appeal this morning, somebody you, to give your heart and life to Christ [Romans 10:8-13]; somebody to put your life into the fellowship of the church [Hebrews 10:24-25], however God bid you come, down these stairwells, at the front or the back, on either side, into the aisle, “Pastor, this morning I give my heart to Jesus. I give my hand to you.” Would you come? Is there a family you, to place your life with us in the fellowship of the church, or one somebody you? While we sing this hymn, would you make it now; while we stand and while we sing?