Passover is Coming!
This year Passover starts at twilight (around 6 pm) on Friday, March 30, 2018. Immediately after the sun sets we begin the Feast of Unleavened Bread, a Feast lasting for seven days in which we eat no leavened food items.
The first mention of Passover as one of God’s Holy Days is found in Exodus 12 and celebrates the Exodus, the freedom from slavery of the Children of Israel from ancient Egypt that followed the Ten Plagues. In metaphorical prefiguration, it represents the redemption of a believer in the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob from the slavery of sin.
It is important to note that in the TaNaKh (Hebrew Scriptures/Old Testament) there is no actual connection between Passover and sin. Period. The Passover lamb is NOT among the korban (“Draw near”) offerings found in Leviticus chapters 1 through 5. It is NOT found in the only offering for sin to be made on behalf of the nation as a whole; which IS the Yom (Day) Kippur (Atonement) offering of Leviticus 16.
In short, the Passover lamb does NOTHING about sin – and it shouldn’t. Instead, the blood of the lamb was to be splashed on the doorposts and lintels of a home so that the Lord would not kill the first-born of that house (He would pass over that house) and the meat of the lamb was to be eaten by all the members of that household that night; with any remaining to be completely burnt up (Exodus 12:7-10) as though an “olah” (burnt offering) of Leviticus 1:2.
It would not be until we get to the New Testament writings that the connection between Passover and the redemption from sin is made for us, beginning with the declaration of John the Baptizer, “Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world” (John 1:19). This theme is carried on in the writings of Paul when he wrote to the Corinthians, “For Christ our Passover also has been sacrificed” (1 Corinthians 5:7).
It is important to note, however, that in biblical typology there IS a promise of the perfect substitutionary sacrifice of a lamb going back to Genesis 22 when Abraham was ascending Mt. Moriah in obedience to God’s command to sacrifice his son. It was on the way to the mountain when Isaac questioned his father, “Behold, the fire and the wood, but where is the lamb for the burning offering” (Gen. 22:7). Abraham replied, “God will provide for Himself the lamb for the burning offering, my son” (22:8). That day on Mt. Moriah God provided a ram to take the place of Isaac. Abraham told Isaac that God would provide a lamb. But God provided a ram.
Now, HERE is where the connection is made between the lamb of Passover and the ram providing atonement for sin on Yom Kippur (the Day of Atonement)!
On Passover, a lamb is sacrificed, doing NOTHING about the sin of the individual or individuals offering it as a sacrifice. On Yom Kippur, a ram (NOT a lamb) is sacrificed by the High Priest, offering Atonement from sin on behalf of the people. The typology is profound.
BOTH animals, the lamb AND the ram, are animals which graze from the earth. BOTH in Hebrew are collectively known as “seh” (one of a flock; a sheep or a goat). There IS a strong relationship between the two animals.
BOTH animals are used as “olah” (burnt) sacrifices. In Leviticus 1:2, “Speak to the people of Isra’el; say to them, ‘When any of you brings an offering to Adonai, you may bring your animal offering either from the herd or from the flock.’”
So, the connection between the two animals is easily made. Yet, with all that: NO Passover lamb ever was a sin offering!
Back to John the Baptizer: He made the first connection between the lamb and atonement of sin. Paul expanded on it. The writer of the Book of Hebrews solidified that atonement for sin to the Yom Kippur sacrifice of a ram made on behalf of the nation by the High Priest.
Jesus WAS that substitutionary sacrifice. He was the Passover lamb and was killed on the exact day that the Passover lambs were killed in the Temple. Could this be the lamb that Abraham had envisioned when he told Isaac that God would provide the lamb? Jesus told the Jewish religious leaders, “Your father Abraham rejoiced at the thought of seeing my day; he saw it and was glad” (John 8:56).
As with Isaac, He was offered as a burnt offering (olah) on our behalf (Leviticus 1). As with the ram of Yom Kippur, He was the Atonement for our sins; not just a sacrifice, but a perfect, sinless sacrifice (Unleavened Bread), as the writer of the Book of Hebrews tells us.
What Abraham saw on the day he offered up Isaac was our Lord Jesus becoming the perfect sacrifice made on our behalf. The lamb of God who would take away the sins of the world!
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