United Church of God

The Death of the Firstborn, the Passover, and the Blood of the Lamb

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The Death of the Firstborn, the Passover, and the Blood of the Lamb

MP3 Audio (43 MB)


The Death of the Firstborn, the Passover, and the Blood of the Lamb

MP3 Audio (43 MB)

The announcement of the plague of death upon the firstborn and the first instructions on keeping the Passover found in Exodus 12.


The Death of the Firstborn

Exodus 11:1-10 We should assume that all of chapter 11 is said and done before Moses leaves the presence of the Pharaoh for the final time.

There is a gulf of differing opinion between the Pharaoh and the people. Pharaoh was blinded by his own pride… the people were not…  they could see YHWH's power and favor toward Israel... and had fear and respect. They knew they could easily be totally destroyed.

Moses leaves in anger: 1) because Pharaoh had foolishly brought death and destruction upon his people by his own pride 2) Pharaoh had issued a personal death threat against Moses.

Passover Instructions

Exodus 12:1-2 this is the first technical instruction in worship and religious obedience delivered to the first Levitical priests. God declares the spring month of Aviv/Nisan to be the beginning of the year. God's reckoning of the year begins intuitively… when everything is bursting forth with life rather than in the depths of winter when all is dead and dormant [spring equinox rather than the winter solstice].

Exodus 12:3-4 as Levitical priests Moses and Aaron are told to instruct the people regarding how God expects them to assemble, worship, and obey. Later on, the book of Leviticus will spell out the duty of the priesthood before the community. In the new covenant Church of God this task of proclamation and instruction is upon the ministry.

Romans 15:15-16. Paul was not a Levite, so he must have seen himself as a priest of a different order. A  priest in the administration of Melchizedek which presides over the new covenant as per Hebrews 7.

The Passover meal is communal... it's not meant to be eaten in isolation but as part of a community which God assembles together… likewise we keep God’s new covenant Passover together, not alone. God was forging a nation out of this beaten down race of slaves. They witnessed the dramatic display of YHWH's power in the plagues. They experienced the separation of Israel from Egypt and protection from the plagues. Israel needed to begin thinking and feeling like a nation.

Both the OC and NC Passover has a message of family, unity, community. God calls and assembles a people who once did not think of themselves as a people. The apostles also taught this forging of a new nation, a new people, as an essential element of the new covenant Passover 1 Corinthians 10:16-17... 1 Peter  2:9.

Like the Messiah, the lamb was to be one body broken for all, consumed by all, with no leftovers… picturing the completeness of the sacrifice… one sacrifice for all. The “one loaf” fulfills this symbolism in the NC Passover. Through it we recognize our unity as members of one body. Each and every one of us must look to the same Christ for our salvation from death. None of us will get there following a different path... we are in this together.

Exodus 12:5-11 the lamb was to be without defect [blind, lame, missing an ear etc.].  The scriptures say Christ is our Passover... the lamb without defect… He lived a sinless life. 

The lamb is a substitute for their first born. From that point forward every first born male, of man and livestock in Israel belonged to YHWH. First born livestock of livestock would be sacrificed… and first born sons had to be redeemed through substitution as a memorial of this day of salvation. We can talk more about that when we get to chapter 13.

As soon as the 14th day begins [at sundown] they slaughter the lamb, drain the blood, and use the blood to cover the doorposts of the house which they will spend the night in. They eat the roasted flesh of the lamb THAT NIGHT... and they are to STAY INDOORS all night... the must remain under the protection of the blood of the lamb. This is not the night they leave Egypt. That's the next night which is the 15th.

Blood On The Doorposts

For each family of Israel to come under the protection of the blood they had to openly exhibit the fact that they had done so. A big bloody swath was smeared over their door declaring they laid claim to the protection provided by the blood of the lamb. Their confidence in God's power to kill and to give life was on display for all to see.

How visible are you as a follower of God?

Sure we stand out at work or in our neighborhood because we observe the 7th day Sabbath... we avoid unclean meat... Those visible features attract attention to us, but what do people see in us when they get to know us. Do they see any difference in us when they get past the surface.

The Egyptians could see the power of God at work on behalf of Israel... do your neighbors or the people at work see God's power are work with you... are you keeping all the rest of God's commands, are you showing forth the fruits of His spirit? God wants His people to be visible in this world even if it causes them inconvenience, sacrifice, or even disapproval.

Eat The Passover Ready For Action

The Passover also signifies a willingness to leave everything at a moments notice. This would not have been easy... Israel had been there 430 years. Egypt and bondage was all they knew. Likewise, at the new covenant Passover we should think of leaving behind everything that hold us back Hebrews 12:1-3.

Got sinful habits you need to get rid of... leave them behind you.

Worried others might look upon you as a religious nut... or part of some cult... move on with courage.

Being harassed because of following God's truth.. have confidence because God is with you.

Bread Without Yeast

Unleavened bread is eaten at the Passover meal even though the 7 days of unleavened bread do not begin until sunset and the beginning of the 15th day. It has a slightly different symbolism in conjunction with the Passover. Along with the bitter herbs the unleavened bread is the bread of affliction… a reminder of their affliction in the land of Egypt.

Withing the new covenant Passover the bread is a reminder of Christ’s body… and the affliction He suffered as your substitute… redeeming you of the death you deserve for your sins.

Overall the Passover is solemn affair rather than a celebration.

Exodus 12:12-13

The Feast of Unleavened Bread

The next section [vs. 14-20] switches gears to introduce instructions for the feast of Unleavened Bread which is to be observed immediately after the Passover. Its a different [but closely related] festival that begins a day later on the 15th of Aviv/Nisan.

Exodus 12:14-16 

Here we find an interesting verse that tells preparing food for yourself is acceptable work on a Sabbath.

Cut off means to be excluded from the covenant blessings... but also to be cut off from eternal life… like Adam. A person who defies or willfully ignores God's regulations show they are not interested in a covenant relationship with Him. Not following these instructions also demonstrates lack of faith... because faith is seen in what you do not just what you think James 2:14-19.

Paul's teaching on the days of unleavened bread under the NC made clear the spiritual connection that getting leaven out of our homes is a picture of getting sin and evil thoughts out of our lives and minds 1 Corinthians 5:6-8.

Exodus 12:17-20 the 15th day is the first day of unleavened bread. It begins after the sun goes down at the end of the 14th day. This is the day [beginning at evening] that they left Egypt by night.

Foreigners, immigrants etc. Are included in this regulation about leaven. We’ll see the regulations for the Passover are a bit different when we get to verse 43.  

This command transcends time and place... Wherever you live.

Moses Instructs the People

Exodus 12:21-30 the elders were now in support of Moses. Probably persuaded by the YHWH's mighty acts against Egypt. Moses relates God's instructions and Israel obeys. Note: receiving instructions and then fulfilling them is a them of Exodus… especially the last potion of the book.

Notice that on the night of the 14th they are to STAY INDOORS under the protection of the lamb's blood. This is not the night they go out of Egypt.

The annual performance of the ceremony was to provide a springboard for instruction. Instruction of children and grandchildren was an example of the process but not the limit. Observance of God's holy days attract attention of outsiders and give us an opportunity to explain the deeper spiritual meaning of God's plan of salvation.

That night [the 14th] YHWH strikes down the first born of Egypt as He had warned from the beginning.

God's Practicality

Exodus 12:31-36

  1. God gets the Egyptians to drive Israel out. Their human nature would tend toward inertia and fear of change... especially after 430 years.
  2. God also gets Egypt to finance their trip. Lots of moveable wealth would buy supplies... enough clothing to cover years of living in a new place, precious metals to use for the tabernacle etc.

Note: this transfer of wealth happens during the daylight portion of the 14th day. They stayed in their homes until daybreak.

First Day of Unleavened Bread Begins

Exodus 12:37-42 as night falls the 15th day begins and the people leave Egypt. Deuteronomy 16:1, Numbers 33:3-4.

The night of vigil would be the night time portion of the 15th day. This is why we observe a night to be much observed in the evening that begins the 15th day of Aviv.

Passover For Covenant Members Only

Exodus 12:43-49 Here are some instructions for keeping the Passover in future years when they settle in the new land.

No one outside the covenant community was to eat the Passover. Entrance into the covenant community was driven by family and the sign of acceptance was circumcision of all males in the family. This is why we limit the observance of the new covenant Passover to those who have been baptized and had the laying on of hands... which are the signs of accepting and entering the new covenant.

In contrast to the laws and religious practices of contemporary nations like Egypt, Canaan, Hittites etc.... Passover and covenant status are not class or racially based. The law was the same for all who would enter into the covenant...  most were born into it… but anyone who came into the land to stay could choose to enter into the covenant and be part of the Holy nation.

Temporary residents…  migrants, refugees etc were not part of the covenant had to obey the other laws of the land [unleavened bread, Sabbath rest] but they could not take part in the Passover.

The word slave is a generic word which was also used for employee, hired hand, servant, or slave. Meaning any who were going to remain as permanent residents could become part of the covenant people... not so for those who were just passing through.

There was no practical reason for prohibiting breaking the bones of the Passover. It is a prophetic symbol of the unity of the body of Christ: His physical body John 19:31-33 and His spiritual body 1 Corinthians 10:16-17.


Under the terms of the OC Israel observed Passover each year to remember their deliverance from bondage in Egypt.

Under the terms of the NC the Church observes Passover each year to remember the foundational event of salvation. The death of Jesus Christ as our Passover. Through Him we are redeemed from bondage to sin and death. Its where we begin.

Exodus 12:50-51