Saturday, May 04, 2013

Instructions on How To Use the Blood and How To Eat the Passover Lamb -- Exodus 12:7-11


“Moreover, they shall take some of the blood and put it on the two doorposts and on the lintel of the houses in which they eat it.  And they shall eat the flesh that same night, roasted with fire, and they shall eat it with unleavened bread and bitter herbs.  Do not eat any of it raw or boiled at all with water, but rather roasted with fire, both its head and its legs along with its entrails.  And you shall not leave any of it over until morning, but whatever is left of it until morning, you shall burn with fire.  Now you shall eat it in this manner: with your loins girded, your sandals on your feet, and your staff in your hand; and you shall eat it in haste – it is the Lord’s Passover.”
 
So the Israelites have been told what they need to do in advance to prepare for that night of physical deliverance and salvation.  Now God proceeds to tell them (through Moses) on what exactly they are to do with the blood of the lamb they kill in each household and how to eat it the night of the actual deliverance.  I think the first thing to consider here if we have never done so before is the idea that God cares about how we do things.  He is a God of detail.  We need to be careful when we casually say, “Oh God does not care about the details, only the end result.”  Well, this section of Scripture clearly points to the contrary.  When it comes to obedience and salvation, God cares about the details.  It’s His Plan of Salvation.  It does not belong to the Israelites, or Moses, or you, or me.  We tend to forget that.  We have access to it, but it is His plan, not ours.
The first bit of instruction in this regard is that the Israelites are to take some of the blood from the slain lamb and put it on the two vertical doorposts – left and right frames which hold the door of their dwelling in place, and also on the lintel – the horizontal piece at the top which connects to the two vertical doorposts.  It is important to note that the dwelling that matters is the one in which they will be partaking of the lamb together as a family or household, not just any of their buildings.  This is very symbolic in the sense that the family inside that dwelling, celebrating their deliverance, will be “covered by the blood of the lamb” sprinkled on the doorposts.
The next thing we note is that no blood is to be put on the threshold of the frame – the horizontal part at the bottom which connects to the two vertical doorposts and on which people trod on when entering or leaving a room through that door.  Commentator Chuck Smith suggests that this is because the blood of this lamb is actually symbolic of the blood of Jesus Christ, which is never to be trampled under foot.  We also need to remember that while some of the Israelites may have lived in actual buildings, others may well have still dwelt in tents. Certainly had any moved closer to the center of the activity during those days, they would have lived in more temporary housing which would have meant tents.
The purpose for this sprinkling of blood on the doorposts was to ensure the ‘destroying angel’ that was going to go through Egypt that night would distinguish their homes from those of the Egyptians.  It was a way of protecting and covering those inside the home, those inside with a family that were part of God’s people, His children.  It seems to be the case that somehow God’s own people to be distinguished from those that are not His.  This will also be the case now and in the end days.  For starters, we need to have been covered by the blood of Jesus Christ.
Then God tells the Israelites how He wants them to prepare the lamb for consumption.  It had to be roasted on a fire.  It was to be enjoyed with unleavened bread and bitter herbs.  Did these detailed instructions matter?  I believe they did.  The unleavened bread was symbolic of the fact that they had to take this meal in haste and had no time to allow the bread to rise.  It was the bread of ‘affliction’.  The bitter herbs were symbolic of the ‘bitterness of Egyptian slavery’.  Those were their Old Testament meanings.  However, they also have New Testament meanings as well.  There’s an excellent article on the Internet that goes into this in a very creative and informative way.  You can check it out here: http://eatingedenblog.blogspot.ca/2012/04/passover-food-lamb-unleavened-bread.html .
The Israelites were also not to eat any of the meat raw or even boiled in water.  Many have tried to explain this instruction – both in a physical sense and in a symbolic one.  You can research that further on the Internet by searching for the following – {"commentary"+"exodus 12:9"} exactly as shown including quotation marks but excluding the parenthesis, on Google.  What I believe the emphasis here is to be is that God wanted this meal prepared in a way that was special as the Israelites most commonly boiled their meat and other dishes.  This was a special ceremony, one that was about salvation.  It was also about a new beginning, and a new calendar.  Secondly, it was to be prepared whole, not in parts.  That preparation was to include the head, the legs and the entrails – innards or internal organs of the animal.
[I must admit one of the memories I have of growing up in a Greek home, was the fact that my mom cooked the entrails of the various meat sources we prepared for meals.  There is nothing like a tasty liver or even a heart of a chicken.  Indulge me for a moment though. Recently I tried to reproduce a day from my youth by buying some fresh smelts at the fish market and deep-frying them.  They were delicious.  My only regret was that the fishmonger, to sell more fish to his North American clientele, had chopped their heads off.  But I digress.]
In fact, if this meal were grouped with the other sacrifices – one would note that all of them except this one involved only parts of the animal, not the whole of the animal.  For this one, God wanted the whole of the animal prepared in this special way.  The parallelism to the preparation of Christ and all his death meant for our salvation is evident.
And then God says “You are to eat it all tonight; don’t leave anything until the morning.”  There are several possibilities for this.  The first being that they needed to eat well this night because their next meal would not be a while as the journey out of Egypt that would follow would be long.  The second is that God wanted them to be totally dependent on Him for their daily needs.  This is, of course, a theme that God wants to drive home to His children, throughout the Bible.  From Genesis to Revelations we see this requirement to be totally dependent on Him if we are to have total access to His best blessings.  Another possibility may be that this meal was to be a “complete” act.  They were not to enter it half-heartedly or put in modern terms, just to “play with their food” leaving much of it uneaten.  And even though God gives that instruction, He knows them well enough to know that some will not comply.  And He gives them another chance, in the morning, to obey Him by then burning anything left over in a fire.  What an amazing and understanding God.
And then God gave them the final instructions in this regard; instructions as to how the Israelites should dress and be equipped when eating this meal.  They had to be fully dressed for action – no hanging around in their sleepwear or less.  And they had to be wearing their sandals for when the time came, they had to rush out the door.  They had to have their staffs in their hands ready to tackle the difficulties of the road and to provide their bodies the support needed, as they tired.  This was going to be no doubt an “eat and run” event.  It reminds me of the meals that some children have in the summertime when they know their friends are waiting outside to play.
Much can be said about the “eat it in haste” part but suffice it to say, that this was a meal with a purpose.  It was the “Lord’s Passover” and whether eaten in Egypt that night, eaten by Christ’s Disciples about a thousand years later, or partaken of by us today – it is a meal that has meaning – in all cases pointing to a time when our “salvation is near”.  For us, it points to a time when Christ will return and we will be redeemed for eternity because of what He did for us on the cross.  The blood had been sprinkled on the doorposts of the homes of the Israelites.  The Son of God has shed His blood for us on the cross of Calvary.  Our sins can be forgiven; we can be sure of our salvation.  I pray that is so with you.
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