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 12:13)
With the world racing towards the Christmas celebration, I was meditating on the significance of the birth of the Saviour of the world when God reminded me that without Easter, Christmas has no relevance. Without the cross, Jesus would have simply been a kind of ‘nine-days’ wonder.’ His wonderful birth had one single purpose: His dying. It is the cross and Christ’s death that defines the relevance of Christmas for believers. Without the cross, Christmas is meaningless. And without an understanding of the passover principle, the cross would be ineffective in our lives.
Of course, while the Bible and the wisdom of God is always clear-cut, we cannot limit His Word to single layers of truth and understanding. This is as true about the passover principles as any other. But here, in Egypt, we find the concept of salvation clearly revealed in a dramatic example of life and death. It’s easy to say that Jesus was born to save the world from its sin, and it’s entirely true. But for this to actually manifest and be effective in our lives, we need to look at the how of it.
The passover principle is applying the blood of Christ.
The most obvious thing about the passover blood was that it was the blood of a firstborn, pure, unblemished lamb from either the sheep or the goats. That set me back a little because ‘sheep’ had always been my assumption. The message is clear. The Lamb, when He went to the cross, would do so for both the Jews and the Gentiles. Even here, in a moment of enormous ‘ethnic Jewish’ impact, God’s promise to the Gentiles is present.
I did a little digging around, and discovered the blood would have been applied with hyssop, a scrubby little middle-eastern herb which, though utterly nondescript, did have some healing properties, particularly anti-inflammatory. Interestingly enough, this ordinary little herb was later used in purification rituals by the priests, and has mention often in the Bible in the context of cleansing. The application of the blood on the lintels therefore very clearly speaks of a process of cleansing. But it’s not the hyssop that cleanses. It is simply a tool used in applying the blood, which is what does the cleansing.
The blood was not to be applied to the floor or threshold, signifying the great grace of salvation. We enter into salvation through the blood of Jesus by entering under it. The significance is that of a covering, a protection, as indeed it was for the Jews that night. It was also applied at the entrance to the home, revealing another wonderful truth. Once we step in under the blood, that’s where we should stay. God’s implication is frighteningly clear, and it’s as relevant to us today as it was to His people then. If we step outside the blood of Christ, we’re in the same place as the Egyptians – subject to judgement and punishment and outside of His protection.
Yes, the Jews did leave the protection of their homes, but it was, firstly, only when God commanded them to go, and secondly, only when He went with them. They moved only when His presence was with them. In other words, the protection signified by the blood remained because of the presence of God. It was a shadow of the blood-bought believers to come, a living witness of the protection of the blood. The message is clear. We remain under the blood of Christ providing we move at God’s command and in His presence.
Today’s verse very clearly states that the blood is a sign that those under it belong to God and have His protection. This is the very essence of salvation. We enter under the blood of Christ when we are saved, but it’s an ongoing salvation as we walk under the blood with Christ in our lives. The passover principle does not start and end in Egypt. The promise in the blood remained in place providing the Jews remained under it. Remaining under the blood is essentially the place of surrender. It is the place where we yield all in unreserved obedience to our sovereign Lord, acknowledging our sinfulness and our total dependence on Him. That’s one way of describing salvation and the covering of the blood.
But there’s one little verse which occurs just before today’s reading. Verse 11 says: 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. The message here is clear, and it’s a command that is intrinsic throughout the motif and sympolism of the passover. Be prepared to move. Be ready for the journey ahead. Know that salvation and protection always involve stepping out with God.
The precious blood of Jesus is beyond price, beyond comprehension, beyond measure. But it was always intended by God a living, active provision. It’s not a place to enter into a ‘holy huddle’ behind the safety of our blood-sprinkled lintels. It’s a place of boldness, of courage, of obedience, and of absolute trust in God. It is both our safe and secure refuge when facing the attack of the enemy or our own weakness and sinfulness. But it is also the place of pillar and cloud, of the living presence of God, and the active obedience to His will and purposes.
Something to consider is what would have happened if the Jews had not ‘gone’ when God commanded. Logic tells me that the protection afforded by the blood on the lintels would have worn off as the blood wore off. Significantly, the blood of the Lamb was never sprinkled on the doorposts and lintels ever again when celebrating passover. It was later sprinkled on the altar, which represents surrender and worship in the presence of God. This is important. The blood was sprinkled on the homes only once. In entering under it, the Jews were required to move out with it. They could not stay where they were.
The message is clear. If we want to remain under the blood of Jesus, we need to move in it and with it. Not moving means being out from under it, being back in Egypt. The whole relevance of passover is moving out of captivity and into liberation. It is active, not passive. It is life-changing, a total shift from all we know, understand, and are familiar and comfortable with. It is challenging, dynamic, and bold. This is the promise inherent in Christmas. We celebrate the eternal truth of the Passover Lamb, and the precious blood given once and for all, and which protects us by moving us into the supernatural, empowering protection of a God who acts to preserve and liberate His people.
We thank You, Lord, for Your amazing provision. Help us always to value the blood of the Lamb with reverence and awe, not to throw it around or trample it underfoot. As we celebrate the Saviour’s birth this year, let it be in the true understanding of passover. Help us to draw near, to enter in under the blood and remain there, even though You may command us to go in ways and places we never imagined.