The Blood of the Passover Lamb
April 13th, 1979 @ 12:00 PM
BLOOD OF THE PASSOVER
Dr. W. A. Criswell
4-13-79 12:00 p.m.
It is easily perceived that the climax of the services are not during the day of the week, but on Sunday. For this day, the day of the crucifixion of our Lord, the message— in these sixty-two or three years that we have been holding these noonday services—on this day, it always centers around the death, the crucifixion of our Savior. He was crucified at nine o’clock in the morning on Friday.
And at twelve, high noon, the sun was blotted out, and at three o’clock in the afternoon He died [Matthew 27:45-46]. And because of the holy day, which was doubly sanctified being a Sabbath and a Day of Unleavened Bread in the Passover week, why, He was buried before sundown. They asked Pilate if the bodies of the three who were nailed to the cross could be taken down, lest the land be polluted [John 19:31]. So between three o’clock in the afternoon when He died and, say, at six o’clock, or whatever the time would be there when the sun set, why, He was laid in the sepulcher [John 19:38-42].
So on this day the message always turns in a presentation of the expiation of our sins on the cross, but this is not the climax. The consummation is on Sunday, the day of the resurrection, when He was raised from among the dead [Matthew 28:1-6]. And presenting the gospel message now, we look forward to its triumphant climax and consummation on Sunday, the Lord’s Day. Every Sunday is an Easter day in the church of the living God. It celebrates the resurrection of our Lord.
Now, as so many of you who have attended the services know, because of the background of the treaty being hammered out between Israel and Egypt, I chose this year a theme that concerns Israel and Egypt, centered around Moses, the mighty man of God: on Monday, his tremendous renunciation, stepping down out of the orbit of the court of the pharaohs, heir apparent to the throne, and identified himself with the poor slaves, the Hebrews, the people of God [Hebrews 11:24-27]. And then on Tuesday his call in a flame of fire [Exodus 3:1-10]; and on Wednesday, his great, non-compromising, unbending devotion to the Lord [Deuteronomy 34:10]. And yesterday, The Birthday of the People of God [Exodus 12:1-12]. And today, The Blood of the Passover Lamb [Exodus 12-13].
Pharaoh was like a plastic ball yielding under pressure, the ten plagues that were thrust upon the land [Exodus 7:12-12:30]. But as soon as the plague was done, like a plastic ball he came back to his rotundity and his refusal. And the last plague, the ninth one, was against the Egyptian God Ra, the god of the sun [Exodus 10:21-23]. And after the impenetrable darkness that the Bible describes as being felt, so terrible; three days and three nights, no one moved [Exodus 10:23].
Then Pharaoh says to Moses, “Get out, get thee from me, take heed to thyself. See my face no more, for in the day that thou seest my face thou shalt die.” And Moses said, “Thou has spoken well, I will see thy face no more” [Exodus 10:28-29]. Then he announces, by the word of God, the tenth and the last judgment. Moses says, thus saith the Lord, “About midnight will I go out into the midst of Egypt: And all the firstborn in all the land of Egypt shall die, from the firstborn of Pharaoh that sitteth upon the throne, even unto the firstborn of the maidservant that is behind the mill; and all the firstborn 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” [Exodus 11:4-6].
Then in the twelfth chapter of Exodus, that same awesome judgment is announced. “I will pass through the land of Egypt this night, and will smite all the firstborn in the land, both man and beast” [Exodus 12:12]. So it begins with a universal judgment; all of them under the judgment of death, all of them.
You see, the difference in this and all of the other plagues is found in the fact that in all the other nine, Israel had enjoyed an unmerited and unbought exemption from the terrible visitation from the hand of God. They were not hurt. They were not visited by any of the other terrible plagues. The murrain had not killed their cattle [Exodus 9:3-4]. The boils had not broken out over their bodies [Exodus 9:8-11]. The locust had not devoured their land [Exodus 10:4-6]. The hail and the storms had not destroyed their crops [Exodus 9:22-26]. When the sun was blotted out, there was light in the houses in Goshen; it had not obscured their villages [Exodus 11:21-23]. But this judgment was different; this one was universal [Exodus 12:12]. All that lived in the land of Egypt should die that night in its firstborn—all, from Pharaoh on the throne to the lowest slave who ground at the mill [Exodus 11:4-5].
That is exactly the gospel that was preached by John the Baptist when he introduced the New Testament. John the Baptist preached that all were outside the covenant of God who were in sin; everyone had to repent [Matthew 3:1-8]. The presiding elder, the scribe, the high priest, the temple servants from the Herod’s palace—all had to repent. John the Baptist threw all of them outside of the covenant of the God. And when the Jews listening to John the Baptist preach, when the Jews said to him, “But we be Abraham’s seed,” John the Baptist replied, “God is able of this stone to raise up a child to Abraham [Matthew 3:9]. Because you are a son of Abraham does not mean that you are without sin, and without need of redemption. Repent ye, therefore, and prepare for the coming of the Messiah and the kingdom of God” [Matthew 3:9-12]. That is this judgment exactly!
Often I am asked, “Is a Jew saved because he is a Jew?” The answer is from the Bible. Yes, the Jew is saved because he’s a Jew, if he has not sinned. But if he has sinned, he is like all of the rest of mankind, he must be saved! He also is under the judgment of God [Romans 6:23]. All of us who have sinned are under the judgment of God [Romans 3:19]. That was the great announcement of the beginning the new dispensation in Christ Jesus, the announcement of the New Testament, “Repent ye: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand” [Matthew 3:2]. And that, of course, is the preaching of Paul the apostle. “There is none righteous, no, not one . . . [Romans 3:10]. All have sinned, and come short of the glory of God” [Romans 3:23]. All of us must repent [Mark 1:15]. All of us are under the judgment of God [Galatians 3:22]. All of us must be saved. And that was the announcement of the Lord God in the land of Israel by the mouth of His servant, Moses: at midnight the death angel will pass over [Exodus 12:12-13, 22-23]. I can just feel each one, in every house and hut and village to the court of the king; each one, under the dreadful eye of death, listening to the rustling of those awful wings.
Next: but what the child of Abraham, the son of Israel, what he could not possess by right of birth and lineage and heritage, he could possess by right of redemption. So the Lord said:
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 his house:
And if the household be too little for the lamb, let him and his neighbor come together and share the sacrifice of the lamb.
Your lamb shall be without blemish, a male of the first year.
And ye shall keep it until the fourteenth day of the same month: and then you shall sacrifice it.
And they shall take of the blood and strike it on the two sides of the posts, on either side, and on the lintel in the form of a cross, here and on either side.
And then, without breaking a bone, roast it, eat it.
Eat it with a staff in your hand, with all of your clothes prepared for the pilgrimage.
For this night, God delivers you out of the bondage and slavery of darkness.
So what the Jew, what the Israelite, could not possess by right of birth, and lineage, and genealogy as the son of Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, he could possess by right of redemption. He was to take a lamb and keep it four days, from the tenth to the fourteenth of Nisan [Exodus 12:3, 6]. And the purpose of the four days was, in those four days, the lamb became identified with the family. It became a part of the household. It was a part of the home, kept four days and thus identified with the family.
Then on the fourth day the lamb was sacrificed [Exodus 12:6]. It was slain. And being slain, its blood was caught in a basin and the blood with hyssop [Exodus 12:22]—one of these reeds, reed-like growths on the banks the Nile—with hyssop it was sprinkled on the lintel above the door and on the post on either side. That is, a life has been sacrificed. “The wages of sin is death” [Romans 6:23], and death has paid the penalty of sin in this household.
And the blood of expiation, of atonement, of sacrifice has been exhibited where all may see it on this home [Exodus 12:7]. And in that sacrifice, Israel was taught that they were a people of redemption. Not so much a people beloved of Jehovah, but a people of redemption. They had been saved by the offering of a life. And the memorial thereafter, through all of the years and ages since to this present day, has been just that.
The Lord spake unto Moses, saying,
Sanctify unto Me all the firstborn, whosoever openeth the womb among the children of Israel, both of man and of beast: it is Mine.
Thou shalt set apart unto the Lord all that openeth the matrix, and every firstling that cometh of a beast . . . the males shall be the Lord’s . . . And all the firstborn of man among thy children shalt thou redeem.
[Exodus 13:1-2, 12-13]
I sacrifice to the Lord all that openeth the matrix being males, but all the firstborn of my children I redeem.
The memorial of the Passover, for all of the generations thereafter, kept before the Jewish people the idea that they were a redeemed people. They were under the judgment of God, and being under the judgment of God for sin, expiation, sacrifice, atonement had to be made. And it was made in the form of the offering of a lamb. So the Jew was brought up with the idea in all their ages and centuries that they were blood-bought people. They were redeemed people. And the sacrifices of the lamb kept that ever before them.
Now, this is what you would call a “protevangelium,” a gospel before the gospel. When I turn to the New Testament, I read in 1 Corinthians, chapter 5, “Christ our Passover is sacrificed for us” [1 Corinthians 5:7]. That is said, not so much because of the Mosaic ritual, but it is said because the Mosaic ritual found its meaning and ultimate purpose in Him. He is the antitype. He is the prototype. It was the purpose of God from before the foundation of the world that the Lamb of God should make expiation, atonement, for our sins [Revelation 13:8]. And the institution of the Passover had Him in mind.
Look, I can imagine, I can easily imagine, in that night of all nights, how the Israelite must have thought, “This is the strangest thing in God’s world, that we are to be delivered this night. And how? By the sacrifice of the lamb and the sprinkling of the blood on the lintel and on the doorpost” [Exodus 12:6-7, 12-13, 22-23]. How strange such a thing must have seemed to the Israelite at that time, but when finally we come to understand it, the sacrifice of the Passover was a protevangelium, a gospel before the gospel, a presentation of the atonement in the blood of Jesus Christ [Romans 5:11; Hebrews 2:9; 1 John 2:2]. And all through the days, and the centuries, and the millennia, all of the sacrifices of Israel, every lamb that was slain, was a prefiguring, a type, a presentation, a dramatization of the coming of the Lamb of God that should take away the sin of the world.
So, in the preaching of the gospel, it is the cross that opens for us the floodgates of God’s mercy and forgiveness. It is by His stripes, not by His beautiful and blameless life, that we are healed [Isaiah 53:5]. The lamb had to be without blemish [Exodus 12:5]. It had to be without sin. But it is not the beautiful life of our Lord that saves us; it is His suffering and His death [1 Peter 1:18-19]. It’s not by His words of wisdom that we are saved. We are saved by His atonement on the cross [1 Peter 2:24].
The life of our Lord was perfect and beautiful. The words of our Lord are unexampled in human speech. And the power and deeds of our Lord are omnipotent; they are God’s. But with all of the marvelous words of our Savior and the beautiful, perfect life of our Savior, and the marvelous deeds of our Lord, had He not died, the veil of the temple would have been unrent [Matthew 27:32-51], shutting out the worshiper from God, and we would yet be in our sins. We are saved not by the beautiful life, not by the marvelous example, but we are saved by the atoning blood of Jesus, the sacrifice of the Passover offered unto God for us [Hebrews 9:12-14].
Well, you look again. The sacrifice of the life of our Lord was all-sufficient [Hebrews 9:26-28]. There need be no other atonement. It is full and final and complete. All that a man had to do was to get behind the blood, find himself under the blood, and the judgment of God passed over, seeing the blood [Exodus 12:13]. He just trusted in God. No work of his hands. No merit of his own. No commendation in any way of himself to the Lord. He just rested in quietness and in faith under the blood.
God said, “When I see the blood, I will pass over you” [Exodus 12:13]. And no death enters, and no judgment falls; he just rests in the promise of God under the blood. The Holy Spirit, in His work in us, may be multiplied, God help us, a thousandfold in every good thing we seek to do for Jesus, every word of praise from our lips, everything by which we with work of hand, we can magnify the Lord. May the Holy Spirit multiply, His works in us world without end!
But the work of Christ for us is eternally one, and complete, and full, and adequate. “Once in the end of the world did He offer Himself as a sacrifice for our sins. And to them that look for Him shall He return, apart from sin, unto our full deliverance and salvation” [Hebrews 9:26-28], just resting under the promise of God. If I would sprinkle the blood on the lintel and on the doorposts of my house, God said, “I will pass over you” [Exodus 12:6-7, 13] and just resting in the atoning grace of God. A life has been sacrificed for my sins [Matthew 27:32-50; Hebrews 2:9].
And last, this grace and this loving forgiveness and this deliverance is mediated to us through a great public, open, unashamed act of faith [Romans 10:9]. The blood is to be sprinkled on the lintel and on the doorpost at the front of the house where the entire world can see it [Exodus 12:7]. “But you don’t understand, pastor, you don’t understand. I don’t mind taking the blood of the atonement and sprinkling it on the backside of my house. And I don’t mind taking the blood of atonement and sprinkling it in the closet where nobody can see, and I can shut the door; but not on the front of my house, not on the lintel, and on the doorposts, no.”
God says, “No. If you are ashamed of Me, I will be ashamed of you, when I come in judgment with all the holy angels” [Mark 8:38]. I am to be outright, upright, downright, forthright an avowed follower of the Lamb. I am publicly and openly to confess my faith in the Lord Jesus. And the blood is to be sprinkled where all can see that this house and this home and this family is a family of God. They have trusted the Lord Jesus, and they are Christians unashamed, open. And anybody that does that, God says, “I will save them, anybody.”
Had an Egyptian said, “I believe what God has brought to us by the mouth of His servant Moses,” and had an Egyptian taken a lamb and sacrificed it and sprinkled the blood on the lintel and the doorposts of his house—had an Egyptian done it, the death angel would have passed over. He would have been saved. Had an Israelite said, “I will not thus succumb to this mandate of heaven. I have my own ideas and I work out my own salvation”; had an Israelite refused, and there had been no blood on the lintel and the doorposts of his house that night, the angel of death would have brought judgment into his house [Exodus 12:22-23].
Anyone, anyone who has sinned, anyone under the judgment of God, who will openly display the blood and rest in the atoning grace of the Lord shall find redemption, and deliverance, and salvation. And anyone to this day who will find refuge, and hope, and forgiveness in the atoning grace of the Son of God—anyone shall be saved. Openly, publicly, unashamedly giving his life to God, displaying the blood; isn’t that the gospel message? Romans 10:9-10: “If thou shalt confess with thy mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in thine heart that God hath raised Him from the dead, that He lives, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart one believeth unto a God-kind of righteousness”—not a man’s kind of righteousness, but a God-kind of righteousness, one that comes through the atoning grace of the cross—”For with the heart one believes unto a God-kind of righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.”
Matthew 10:32-33, “Whosoever therefore shall confess Me before men, him will I confess before My Father which is in heaven. And whosoever shall deny Me before men, him will I deny before My Father which is in heaven.” The blood is to be sprinkled on the front of the house, on the lintel and on the doorpost, either side [Exodus 12:7]. And I am unashamedly to confess my faith in the Lord Jesus [Romans 10:9-10; Matthew 10:32-33]. I am a follower of the Lamb. I have looked in trust to Him, and may angels witness to it above and may men hear and see it in the earth below. This is how God saves us.
And our Lord, with infinite, unspeakable, unsayable praises and thanksgiving for the death of Christ for our sins [1 Corinthians 15:3]—an atonement, an expiation, a taking away of the judgment of God upon the iniquity of our life—with infinite gladness, Lord, for what Jesus has done for us, now may we never be ashamed of Him, any place, any time. May it be our hearts gladly, proudly, praiseworthily thank God for what the Lord has done in the saving grace of our wonderful Savior [Ephesians 2:8-9].
Then, Lord, may the whole issue of our lives flow in that worshipful praise, to sing about Thee, talk about Thee, acknowledge Thee, witness to Thee, testify about Thee, meet with God’s people and praise Thee. O Lord, may the whole issue of our lives be to the glory and praise of our marvelous Savior. And then Lord, when Sundays come, may they bring to us the glory and the triumph of the resurrection of Him who died on the cross for our sins [1 Corinthians 15:3], and who was raised the third day for our justification, to declare us saved [1 Corinthians 15:4; Romans 4:25], in our Lord’s wonderful name, amen.
BLOOD OF THE PASSOVER
I. All alike under judgment
II. Salvation – deliverance by redemption
III. Passover was a protevangelium