For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope.
Romans 15:4



 A Bible Study - Commentary by Jim Melough

Copyright 2005 James Melough

12:1.  “And the Lord spake unto Moses and Aaron in the land of Egypt, saying,”


Moses represents law; Aaron, grace.  God’s addressing both reminds us that He is a God of justice as well as of grace, and that His grace is never exercised at the expense of justice.  When He pardons the believer’s sin it is on the just basis of the fact that His own holiness is not impugned, for having declared, “In the day thou eatest thereof, thou shalt surely die,”  He must insist upon execution of the sentence, or make Himself a liar.  Man’s disobedience had forfeited man’s life, and Christ gave that life on man’s behalf at Calvary.  God’s claims were met, His righteousness preserved.


We must never forget that when God comes out in grace to offer a free pardon, and the gift of eternal life, it is not apart from absolute justice.  Justice slew Christ when He deigned to become our Representative.  This is what is being emphasized here in verse 1 in His speaking to both Moses the representative of law; and Aaron, of grace.


Two lands frequently mentioned in Scripture are Egypt and Babylon. Egypt represents the world of business and pleasure living in independence of God; and Babylon represents the world of false religion, living in equal independence of God.


Each is watered by a great river: Egypt, by the Nile, representative of the great river of wealth that waters the world of business and pleasure; Babylon, by the Euphrates, symbolic of the great river of false doctrine that waters the realm of false religion.  Each ends in a marshy delta, the parent river diffused into a confusing host of smaller streams that lead nowhere.  So do money and false religion lead also to confusion and death.


God's speaking to them in Egypt reminds us that it is here on earth where men are busy with the world's business that He speaks to them in the Gospel, and commands them "to take to them every man a lamb," that lamb being a type of the Lord Jesus Christ.


12:2.  "This month shall be unto you the beginning of months: it shall be the first month of the year to you."


A month is the twelfth part of a year, but twelve is the number of divine government on display, so that we are being directed to look for spiritual truth relative to that government.  Examples are the twelve tribes of Israel, and the Church, built upon the foundation of the doctrine of the twelve apostles and prophets.  The subject of this chapter is certainly redemption, but redemption and Divine government cannot be separated.


This appointment of the seventh month to be now the first, declares the truth that at conversion the past and all its deadly associations are ended for ever for us by God’s reckoning.  There is a new beginning, "If any man be in Christ, he is a new creature (creation): old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new," 2 Corinthians 5:17.


The name of that month was Abib, which very fittingly means green ear (of corn).


12:3.  "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 an house;"   


That "all" reminds us that all have sinned and need redemption.  And as twelve is the number of the governed, ten is the number of the Governor, God.  The "every man" continues to emphasize that all have come short of the Divine standard.  The lamb, of course, is a type of Christ, "The Lamb of God, which beareth away the sin of the world."


"... according to the house of their fathers," takes us back to the point of origin.  We are being reminded that, "In Adam all die," 1 Corinthians 15:22, for the transgression began with him.  Men don't become sinners by committing sin: they commit sin because they are born with fallen sinful natures that can produce nothing but sin.


Even a casual reading of this chapter discloses the frequent use of the term "house," the Biblical symbol of what is corporate rather than individual.  This prepares us to recognize that the teaching of the chapter is first corporate, and then individual. 


But why?  One reason at least is apparent.  There is no clearer OT picture of redemption by blood, and then of the maintenance of that new life by the spiritual food represented by the roast lamb. But the Passover is one of the outstanding types of the Lord's supper, which is itself a corporate ordinance, in contrast with baptism which is a personal ordinance - and it is in connection with that corporate ordinance that disorders are frequently found, as witness, for example, Paul's letter to the Corinthian Church.


Certainly the personal aspect of redemption is set before us in the redemption of the firstborn, but inasmuch as he was himself but a figure of the whole household, the corporate aspect cannot be missed.


12:4.  "And if the household be too little for the lamb, let him and his neighbor next unto his house take it according to the number of the souls; every man according to his eating shall make your count for the lamb."


There is no thought of the lamb's being too small for the house, but rather of the possibility that the household might be too small to eat the whole lamb.  In this we are being taught the truth that the death of the true Passover Lamb, the Lord Jesus Christ, is sufficient to provide a pardon for the whole world.


The spiritual application is to Israel and the Gentiles, for the household here is Israel; and the neighbor, the Gentile.  As both Jew and Gentile are guilty, so has God provided salvation for both through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, that salvation however, being effective only to those who confess themselves sinners and then trust in Christ as Savior and Lord.


"Every man according to his eating shall make your count for the lamb."  Since eating is synonymous with satisfaction, the truth being declared is that all who trust in Christ will be fully satisfied.  Nothing needs to be added to His perfect work completed at Calvary.


12:5.  "Your lamb shall be without blemish, a male of the first year: ye shall take it out from the sheep, or from the goats:"


The physical perfection of the Passover lamb adumbrates the moral perfection of Christ.


Where a male is designated for sacrifice, the emphasis is upon the activity of Christ's will in doing His Father's will, e.g., "When the time was come that he should be received up, he stedfastly set his face to go to Jerusalem," Luke 9:51.  He would permit nothing to turn Him aside from finishing the work His Father had given Him to do. 


Where a female is designated, the emphasis is upon the perfect submission of the Lord's will to that of His Father, as expressed in His prayer in Gethsemane, "O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me: nevertheless not as I will, but as thou wilt," Matthew 26:39.  Activity and passivity of the will were perfectly balanced in the Lord's life, and should be also in ours.


"... of the first year."  This speaks of the vigor of youth, and reminds us that the Lord didn't die of sickness or old age.  He died voluntarily in the vigor of young manhood to make atonement for sin.


The requirement that the lamb be a sheep or a goat (both clean animals), tells us that the Lord was clean, i.e., sinless, but such is the miracle of Divine grace, that He who knew no sin was willing to be made sin so that we might be made righteous, as it is written, "For he hath made him who knew no sin, to be made sin for us, that we might be made the righteousness of God in him" 2 Corinthians 5:21.


12:6.  "And ye shall keep it up until the fourteenth day of the same month: and the whole assembly of the congregation of Israel shall kill it in the evening."


The period between the tenth and the fourteenth day, during which the Lamb was to be kept separate from the other animals, foreshadows the period of the Lord's public ministry, during which He was separated from other men in the sense that the relative obscurity of the first thirty years of His life was exchanged for the more than three years of His public ministry when all eyes were upon Him.


Since ten is the number associated with God as the Governor, the lamb's being set apart on the tenth day, points to the fact that it was in obedience to the government of His Father, that the Lord came forth from the obscurity and safety of private life, to begin that public activity which would make Him the special mark of Jewish hatred, and culminate in His death.


"... in the evening."  The evening marked the end of the day, and as the time when the lamb was to be slain, reminds us that it was the last sacrifice of the day, which is the symbolic announcement of the fact that the Lord Jesus Christ is the last sacrifice to be offered for sin.  His death fulfilled and ended all the types and shadows of the OT age, for all the animals offered according to the Levitical order, were but types pointing to Him.  In Christ reality replaced type.  He who will not be saved by trusting in Christ as Savior, cannot be saved at all, as it is written, “For if we sin wilfully after that we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins, but a certain fearful looking for of judgment and fiery indignation, which shall devour the adversaries.” Hebrews 10:26-27.


The fact that the lamb was to be killed reminds us that apart from the death of Christ there could be no pardon for sin.  His life alone, however long perpetuated, could secure no salvation: He must die to make atonement for man’s sin.


A further truth however, is taught in the evening sacrifice being the last sacrifice of the day, for also in Hebrews 10:26-27 we read the warning, "For if we sin wilfully after that we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins, but a certain fearful looking for of judgment and fiery indignation, which shall devour the adversaries."  He who refuses to present Christ to God as his Sin Offering, need look for no other offering, for there is none.


12:7.  "And they shall take of the blood, and strike it on the two side posts and on the upper door post of the houses, wherein they shall eat it."


An Israelite might have observed every detail relative to the Passover lamb, but if he failed to apply the blood as directed, the firstborn in that house would have died just as surely as if the lamb hadn't been slain, and the truth being taught in this is of the need for each sinner to personally apply the blood of Christ, i.e., trust in Him as Savior.  Just as it wasn't sufficient to have a dead lamb and a basinful of blood outside the door, neither is it sufficient to believe, as many do, that Christ has died for the sins of the whole world.  The belief that saves must be personal.  I must believe that He died in my place for my sins.  A general belief in the historicity of Christ will save no one.


Since three is the Biblical number of resurrection, the three parts of the door to which the blood was to be applied, declare symbolically that each man who trusts in Christ as his personal Savior experiences spiritual resurrection out of spiritual death, and will enjoy literal resurrection should he die physically before the Lord returns to rapture His Church to heaven.


The three may also be the reminder that the redemption of the believer is of his body, soul, and spirit.


One part of the door where the blood was not to be placed was the threshold, and for a very good reason: it might have been trodden upon by those leaving the house, and the spiritual truth being declared in this is related to what the door represents.  At the end of life's brief journey, death is the doorway through which men must pass from time into eternity, to heaven or hell, depending on what they have done with the blood of Christ.  Those who have applied it by faith, i.e., who have trusted Him as Savior, will pass through to heaven, but those who haven't will be guilty of the unpardonable sin: treading underfoot (despising) the blood of Christ, as it is written, "Of how much sorer punishment, suppose ye, shall he be thought worthy, who hath trodden under foot the Son of God, and hath counted the blood of the covenant, wherewith he was sanctified, an unholy thing, and hath done despite unto the Spirit of grace?" Hebrews 10:29.


12:8.  "And they shall eat the flesh in that night, roast with fire, and unleavened bread: and with bitter herbs they shall eat it."


This introduces a new section which deals with the flesh rather than the blood of the lamb, and the spiritual instruction relates now, not to the sinner, but to the saint and his spiritual food.  The flesh represents Christ as set before us in the written Word, for it is that Word which is the spiritual food with which the new life is nourished.  The command to Israel to eat the flesh translates into God's command to us to feed on the written Word, that is, to read, study, meditate upon, and obey the Scriptures.


Every Scriptural reference to night or darkness points to the corresponding spiritual state of the unconverted, so that the command to eat the flesh "in that night" is the symbolic announcement of the fact that it is here amid the surrounding spiritual darkness of the world that believers are to nourish their souls with the written Word which is the revelation of Him Who is the Living Word.


"... roast with fire...."  Fire is one of the Biblical symbols of the Holy Spirit, and the truth being taught here is that His enlightenment is essential to an understanding of Scripture, as it is written, "The natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned" 1 Corinthians 2:14.  A man must be indwelt by the Holy Spirit - and only believers have that indwelling - before he can understand the spiritual meaning of the written Word.  It is to be noted however, that obedience is necessary in order to have the Spirit's enlightenment, for when He is grieved or quenched His enlightening ministry is suspended until there is repentant confession to God of the sin which has caused that grieving or quenching.  (It may be well to note here that there is a difference between grieving and quenching.  The Holy Spirit is grieved when we do what He has forbidden; and He is quenched when we refuse to do what He has commanded.  The former is the positive; the latter, the negative aspect of sin).


"... and unleavened bread...."  What was literal for Israel is but the figure or type of what is true for spiritual Israel, the Church, as Paul has written, "Purge out therefore the old leaven that ye may be a new lump, as ye are unleavened.  For even Christ our passover is sacrificed for us: therefore let us keep the feast, not with old leaven, neither with the leaven of malice and wickedness; but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth" 1 Corinthians 5:7-8.  This continues to emphasize the need of holy living if we would enjoy the Holy Spirit's enlightenment when we study Scripture.


"... and with bitter herbs they shall eat it."  This seems to point to the need of studying the written Word against the background of Christ's suffering and death.  It must never be forgotten that all of the OT is the presentation of the Christ Who would come to suffer, bleed, and die to make atonement for sin.


12:9.  "Eat not of it raw, nor sodden (boiled) at all with water, but roast with fire; his head with his legs, and with the purtenance thereof."


Since God authorized the boiling of some of the sacrificial animals, see for example Leviticus 8:31, the question arises, Why did He forbid the boiling of the Passover lamb?  The answer is found in the spiritual significance of boiling, and that significance is remarkably simple. 


Four things are required in order to boil something: (1) the thing to be boiled, (2) a pot, (3) water, and (4) fire.  In spiritual terms, whether it be meat, meal or other vegetable, the thing to be boiled represents Christ as presented in the written Word.  The vessel or pot represents the believer; the water, the written Word, see Ephesians 5:6; and the fire, the Holy Spirit.  The meat or meal in the pot represents Christ in the believer, and also the part of Scripture he, the believer, is presently studying.  The water in the pot represents that part of the written Word which the believer has absorbed by reading or as a result of oral or written ministry he has received; and the fire, as noted already, represents the Holy Spirit.  As the fire bubbles up the water, so does the Holy Spirit "bubble up" in the believer's mind what he already knows of the Word as a result of study or ministry received, bringing that knowledge to bear on the particular part presently being studied, the end result being that it is "boiled" - it becomes his spiritual food for that day.


So why did God forbid the boiling of the Passover lamb that night in Egypt?  As those who had just been delivered from death, the Israelites represent the sinner just newly converted, and such a man doesn't have any "water" in the "pot."  He hasn't had time to read, nor has he received any teaching, so how can he "boil" any part of the Word?  He can't.  He is shut up to what the Holy Spirit will reveal to him as he himself simply reads the Scriptures.  The spiritual lesson couldn't be clearer: the new believer must begin by simply reading his Bible, for that is the spiritual equivalent of putting "water" in the "pot."  What is thus stored in his mind will contribute to his further understanding of Scripture, and little by little, his knowledge of Christ will increase, as it is written, "Whom shall he teach knowledge? and whom shall he make to understand doctrine? them that are weaned from the milk, and drawn from the breasts.  For precept must be upon precept, precept upon precept; line upon line, line upon line; here a little, and there a little," Isaiah 28:9-10.  As stated above, those newly delivered Israelites represent the new convert.  Their being commanded to roast, rather than boil the lamb, is the symbolic picture of what we have just been considering.


"... his head with his legs, and with the purtenance thereof."  Purtenance refers to the edible inward parts, such as the liver, heart, and kidneys.  From a literal perspective it is strange that God should have commanded the Israelites to eat the head, legs, and purtenance, for these are the least desirable parts of the animal.  (It must be noted that what is sold in the supermarket today as leg of lamb is more correctly the rump or hip.  The lower part of the leg is itself mere skin and bone).  The head likewise is virtual skin and bone; and lamb hearts, kidneys, and liver have little general appeal.  Why, then, did God specifically command the Israelites to eat these very parts?  Again, the explanation become crystal clear when we look for the spiritual significance. 


Keeping in mind that the lamb is a type of Christ, then it is clear that the lamb's head is a figure of His head or mind, and immediately the words of Paul come to mind, "Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus; Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: but made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: and being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross," Philippians 2:5-8.  God's command to Israel to eat the lamb's head therefore, translates into His command to us to become Christlike in our thinking.  If our study of Scripture doesn't produce that conformity it has been in vain.


"... with his legs...."  Again, since the lamb represents Christ, and since the legs symbolize the walk or manner of life, the command to Israel becomes God's command to us to live Christlike lives, as Paul exhorted the Corinthians, "I beseech you, be ye followers of me" 1 Corinthians 4:16, but when repeating the exhortation in 11:1 he added, "Be ye followers of me, even as I also am of Christ."  Again, study that doesn't produce a Christlike manner of living has failed to achieve its purpose.


"... with the purtenance thereof."  Purtenance refers more specifically to the heart than to the other internal organs, and the lesson scarcely needs comment.  Christ had a tender, loving heart that embraced sinner and saint alike.  If our study of Scripture doesn't produce a similar heart in us it has failed to accomplish its God-appointed objective.


12:10.  "And ye shall let nothing of it remain until the morning; and that which remaineth of it until the morning ye shall burn with fire."


That morning which marked their departure from Egypt, is a figure of the day when we will leave the world as represented by Egypt.  Since the roast lamb is a figure of Christ as our spiritual food while here on earth, the announcement is that we will take into eternity nothing more than the amount of the Word absorbed here on earth, but since our absorption of the Word is demonstrated, not in the amount read, but obeyed, the spiritual picture comes into sharper focus.  The burning of the uneaten portion of the Passover lamb does not signify that in heaven we will have no greater knowledge of the Lord than what we had on earth, for Scripture declares otherwise, as it is written, “For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known,” 1 Corinthians 13:12.  This verse has nothing to do with our knowledge, but our obedience.  It is our obedience here on earth that will determine our place in the administrative hierarchy of heaven when we shall reign with Christ.  The degree of authority given us will be in proportion to our faithfulness on earth, see the parable of the servants, Matthew 25:14-30.  The lesson conveyed in God's command to burn what hadn't been eaten during the night is that the end of his natural life will mark the end of the believer's opportunity to change the position assigned him in Christ's government.  It is our obedience here on earth that will determine the degree of our eternal exaltation.


12:11.  "And thus shall ye eat it; with your loins girded, your shoes on your feet, and your staff in your hand; and ye shall eat it in haste: it is the Lord's passover."


As we shall see in a moment, the reference here is to preparation for our passage through the wilderness of this world; but that passage involves conflict with Satan and all his demon hordes, as it is written in Ephesians 6:10-18, "Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might.  Put on the whole armor of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.  For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.  Wherefore take unto you the whole armor of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.  Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness; and your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace; above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked.  And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God: praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints...." 


The parallels are too obvious to leave any doubt that Exodus 12:11 is the OT symbolic announcement of the truth specifically stated here in the NT.


What does it mean to “be strong in the Lord”?  It means simply to be obedient, for when we are obedient all the power of the Holy Spirit is available to us, as it is written in 2 Corinthians 12:9, “My (God’s) strength is made perfect in weakness,” and Paul continues, “For when I am weak, then am I strong,” v.10.  In Hebrews 11:34 we read of the heroes of faith, and of them it is written that they, “... out of weakness were made strong.”  We are strong only when we acknowledge our own weakness, and rely entirely on Christ for His enablement to obey His word, as it is written, “My (Christ’s) grace is sufficient for thee: for my (Christ’s) strength is made perfect in weakness,” so that Paul could exult, “When I am weak, then am I strong,” 2 Corinthians 12:9-10,    


The literally girded loins of Exodus 12:11 are clearly symbolic of the need for us to be "girt about with truth," Ephesians 6:14, i.e., to live in obedience to the Word of God, for it is written, "Thy Word is truth," John 17:17.  


The shoes on the feet are the OT counterpart of the need to have our "feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace," Ephesians 6:15.  Obedience and peace belong together for peace is dependent on obedience.


“... the preparation of the gospel of peace,” means that we should always be able to present the gospel.  We should be such students of Scripture that we will know how to present the gospel, answer questions, and refute error.


Since the shoe, which separates the foot from the ground, speaks of separation, the lesson here is that the Gospel will be effectively preached only as we live in separation from the world.

It is a great mistake to believe that we will win the unconverted to the Savior by joining them in their worldly activities.  Note the difference between Abraham and Lot.  Abraham lived in separation from his Canaanite neighbors, yet their testimony to him was, “Thou art a mighty prince among us,” Genesis 23:6.  It was very different with Lot who choose to live among them and become involved in their affairs.  When he then tried to witness to his sons-in-law and warn them, “... he seemed as one that mocked....” Genesis 19:14.  You don't pull a man out of a quicksand by jumping in beside him, but by standing on a firm foundation, a rock.  That rock is Christ.


The staff of Exodus 12:11 is the equivalent of the "the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God," Ephesians 6:17, but when the Word is represented by the staff the lesson is connected with the Word as that upon which we lean for support and guidance; when it is represented by the sword, the lesson has to do with our warfare against the forces of evil.  The more skilled we are in the use of that sword, the more effective will we be in defending ourselves against the attacks of the evil one, and in our incursions into his territory with the Gospel which alone can bring deliverance to his captives.


There is instruction also in the need to "eat it in haste," for in this God would remind us that as there were but a few brief hours between that midnight and the coming of morning when they would leave Egypt, so is there also but a brief time between the moment of conversion and our departure from this doomed world.  There is but little time in which to render that service which will bring an eternal recompense, and which will determine our eternal position in the governmental hierarchy of heaven as we reign with Christ.  What folly, then, to allow ourselves to be distracted by Satan's worthless allurements!


12:12.  "For I will pass through the land of Egypt this night, and will smite all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, both man and beast; and against all the gods (princes) of Egypt I will execute judgment: I am the Lord."


As always, the spiritual message transcends the literal.  Egypt is a type of the world, and the night during which God would pass through smiting all the unredeemed firstborn, declares the truth that in the spiritual darkness which envelops the world, God passes through it smiting with death what the firstborn represents, i.e., unbelievers, those who have never had a second, a spiritual birth.


This knowledge should lend wings to our feet in spreading the gospel.  The man we fail to warn today may be carried off by death into a lost eternity before this day ends.


12:13.  "And the blood shall be to you for a token upon the houses where ye are: and when I see the blood, I will pass over you, and the plague shall not be upon you to destroy you, when I smite the land of Egypt."


Nothing but the blood of the Passover lamb could save the firstborn in Egypt that night, nor can anything but the blood of Christ, the true Passover Lamb, save "the firstborn" today, i.e., those who are unregenerate, under sentence of death because of the first (natural) birth that brought them into this world as sinful sons of condemned Adam.  This declares the worthlessness of religion, morality, philanthropy, etc., as a means of getting to heaven.


12:14.  "And this shall be unto you for a memorial; and ye shall keep it a feast to the Lord throughout your generations; ye shall keep it a feast by an ordinance for ever."


Having instructed them as to their conduct during that night, God also directed them to observe perpetually the memorial of that night of deliverance.  He has also directed us to observe a perpetual memorial of the night of our deliverance from the spiritual bondage to death, of which Israel’s Egyptian bondage is but a figure or type.  The Lord Jesus Christ is the true Passover Lamb concerning Whom it is written that “... the same night in which he was betrayed took bread: and when he had given thanks, he brake it, and said, Take, eat: this is my body, which is broken for you: this do in remembrance of me.  After the same manner also he took the cup, when he had supped, saying, This cup is the new testament in my blood: this do ye, as oft as ye drink it, in remembrance of me.  For as often as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye do shew the Lord’s death till he come,” 1 Corinthians 11:23-26.


The memorial of the Passover was an annual celebration, but believers of this present age are to celebrate the Lord's death and resurrection on the first day of each week, see Acts 20:7, His death having delivered us from a far more terrible bondage than Israel ever knew.


12:15.  "Seven days shall ye eat unleavened bread; even the first day ye shall put away leaven out of your houses: for whosoever eateth leavened bread from the first day until the seventh day, that soul shall be cut off from Israel."


Inasmuch as leaven is one of the Biblical symbols of sin, particularly wrong doctrine; and the seven days, representative of the whole of the believer's life, the truth being declared here in symbol is certainly of the need to abstain not only from sin in general, but from wrong doctrine.  The command however, is not only negative, i.e., the putting away of leaven: there is also the positive.  During those seven days they were to eat unleavened bread.  But since unleavened bread is a Biblical symbol of the written Word, which is itself the revelation of Him Who is the Living Word, the lesson is that while on earth the believer is to nourish his new life by feeding on the Word of God.


The severity of the penalty (death) for eating leavened bread declares the solemn truth that sin (and sin includes wrong doctrine) is a deadly thing, because time spent in sin is time in which we might as well be dead since it can merit no reward at the judgment seat of Christ.


12:16.  "And in the first day there shall be an holy convocation, and in the seventh day there shall be an holy convocation to you; no manner of work shall be done in them, save that which every man must eat, that only may be done of you."


Verse 18 indicates that this "first day" was the fourteenth, and the "seventh day" the twenty-first day of the month.


Scripturally ten and twelve are governmental numbers, ten being associated with those who govern; and twelve, with the governed, e.g., the Ten Commandments are the declaration of what God requires of man; and twelve, the number of the tribes of Israel under that government.


Israel had been under the tyrannous heel of Egypt for over four hundred years (four, incidentally, being the number of testing), but now she was about to be delivered from that thralldom, and brought back under the beneficent rule of Jehovah, her emancipation being a typological picture of that experienced by those who through faith in Christ, are delivered from their bondage to Satan.


12:17.  “And ye shall observe the feast of unleavened bread; for in this selfsame day have I brought your armies out of the land of Egypt: therefore shall ye observe this day in your generations by an ordinance for ever.”


“... armies” is better translated ranks: hosts.


12:18.  “In the first month, on the fourteenth day of the month at even, ye shall eat unleavened bread, until the one and twentieth day of the month at even.”


Leaven is the biblical symbol of sin, and unleavened bread is the symbol of the written Word, of which it is written, “The words of the Lord are pure words,” Psalm 12:6; “Thy word is very pure,” Psalm 119:40; “Every word of God is pure,” Proverbs 30:5; and in Hebrews 10:22 the Word is presented under the figure of “pure water.”  The Word of God is meant to fulfill a dual function: it is to feed us, and also to cleanse us, which it can do only as we obey it.


Israel’s being commanded to eat unleavened bread for seven days therefore, translates into the NT truth that believers of this present age of grace are to feed their souls daily on the written Word every day of their lives, for the seven days (number of perfection or completeness) from the fourteenth till the twentieth, represent the duration of our lives here on earth as believers.


12:19.  “Seven days shall there be no leaven found in your houses: for whosoever eateth that which is leavened, even that soul shall be cut off from the congregation of Israel, whether he be a stranger, or born in the land.”


God’s proscription went beyond the eating of leaven: it wasn’t even to be found in the houses of His people, nor is the evil which it represents to be found in the houses of believers today. Since unleavened bread represents the written Word, everything that is contrary to Scripture is “leavened bread” and is to be put away, and in the present context the command may apply particularly to the reading material in our homes.  The world’s literature will contribute nothing to the strengthening of a man’s spiritual life.


The fact that the penalty for disobedience relative to leaven was death, declares the truth that time devoted to perusal of the world’s literature is time in which the believer might as well be dead, for it will bring him no reward at the Bema.  And its having application to the stranger as well as to the Israelite, may be intended to teach the truth that in the present context the stranger may well represent our unsaved children.  There is need for vigilance relative to what they read.


12:20.  “Ye shall eat nothing leavened; in all your habitations shall ye eat unleavened bread.”


The repeated warning against eating leavened bread, and of the need to eat only that which was unleavened, continues to emphasize the need for careful discretion relative to what we read.


12:21.  “Then Moses called for all the elders of Israel, and said unto them, Draw out and take you a lamb according to your families, and kill the passover.”


Clearly the command given to the elders was to be transmitted by them to the whole congregation, and in this we learn the lesson that the elders of the churches are responsible to teach the people.  Note for example 1 Timothy 3:2, “A bishop (elder, overseer) then must be ... apt (skilful) to teach.”


Godly elders are also to be obeyed, “Obey them that have the rule over you, and submit yourselves: for they watch for your souls, as they that must give account, that they may do it with joy, and not with grief: for that is unprofitable for you,” Hebrews 13:17.


The lamb of course is a type of Christ, and its having to be killed to save the life of the firstborn, declares the truth that the Lord Jesus Christ must die if we are to live, for the firstborn represents what we are by natural birth: condemned sinners under sentence of death.


12:22.  “And ye shall take a bunch of hyssop, and dip it in the blood that is in the bason, and strike the lintel and the two side posts with the blood that is in the bason; and none of you shall go out at the the door of his house until the morning.”


The hyssop mentioned here is generally understood to be a small shrub, it being written in 1 Kings 4:33 that Solomon “spake of trees, from the cedar that is in Lebanon even unto the hyssop that springeth out of the wall ....”   In the present context its being dipped in the blood represents the humble faith that trusts in Christ’s shed blood as having made complete atonement for the sin of every believer.


See comments on verse 7 relative to the three parts of the door.


That night represents the life of the believer lived here amid the spiritual darkness of this unbelieving world; but their going out in the morning to begin their journey to Canaan, points to another aspect of the believer’s life.  The dark night of waiting will end with our departure, by death or rapture, to the eternal light and glory of heaven.  But their exodus in the morning declares another truth relative to our lives here on earth.  Faith in Christ has “delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us  into the kingdom of his dear Son,” Colossians 1:13.


12:23.  “For the Lord will pass through to smite the Egyptians; and when he seeth the blood upon the lintel, and on the two side posts, the Lord will pass over the door, and will not suffer the destroyer to come in unto your houses to smite you.”


As Egypt represents the world of business and pleasure living in defiant independence of God, so do the Egyptians represent the

individuals comprising that world.  The Lord’s passing through the land that night is symbolic of the fact that the angel of death continues to pass through this world carrying into eternal torment myriads of unbelievers; but by the same article of physical death, transporting multitudes of believers into eternal bliss in heaven.


12:24.  “And ye shall observe this thing for an ordinance to thee and to thy sons for ever.”


While the Egyptians mourned the death of their firstborn, the Hebrews rejoiced in the preservation of theirs; and so is it still spiritually.  The weeping of the believer is very different from that of the unbeliever, for even his mourning is tempered by his anticipation of resurrection.


The Hebrews were never to forget, or permit their children to forget, that memorable night, nor should we ever forget the moment of our salvation, when we passed from death to life through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ as Savior.  And above all, we should never forget that our redemption has been procured by the Lord’s submitting Himself to death on our behalf, as our Representative, His death securing for us God’s priceless gift of eternal life.


12:25.  “And it shall come to pass, when ye be come to the land which the Lord will give you, according as he hath promised, that ye shall keep this service.”


The promised land was Canaan, which is not a type of heaven, but of the realm here on earth into which faith brings us.  As Canaan was a place of warfare, so also is its spiritual counterpart: the realm in which “we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places,” Ephesians 6:12.


In the midst of their warfare to take possession of Canaan, they were to keep the Passover in remembrance of their deliverance from Egyptian bondage.  We too in the midst of our warfare are to remember our deliverance from Satan’s thralldom, our emancipation being by the blood of the true Passover Lamb, the Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord’s Supper being the weekly memorial feast at which we are privileged to remember the Lord’s death, and to present our grateful worship.


12:26.  “And it shall come to pass, when your children shall say unto you, What mean ye by this service?”


12:27.  “That ye shall say, It is the sacrifice of the Lord’s passover, who passed over the houses of the children of Israel in Egypt, when he smote the Egyptians, and delivered our houses.  And the people bowed the head and worshiped.”


12:28.  “And the children of Israel went away, and did as the Lord had commanded Moses and Aaron, so did they.”


We too should be careful to explain to our children what it is that sets us apart from the unbelieving world in which our lot is cast.  And relative to their bowing their heads and worshiping, we ought to remember that besides presenting our corporate worship at the Lord’s Supper on the first day of each week, we are to worship continually by obeying God’s Word, for it is written, “Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to hearken than the fat of rams,” 1 Samuel 15:22.


12:29.  “And it came to pass, that at midnight the Lord smote all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, from the firstborn of Pharaoh that sat on his throne unto the firstborn of the captive that was in the dungeon; and all the firstborn of cattle.”


God never goes back on His word.  What He promises, He does, and here, with His word ignored, and His patience exhausted, He executed the foretold judgment.  Every firstborn, whether of man or beast, was slain.  He will be no less scrupulous in the execution of judgment upon everyone who dies unrepentant.


12:30.  “And Pharaoh rose up in the night, he, and all his servants, and all the Egyptians; and there was a great cry in Egypt; for there was not a house where there was not one dead.”


He who by obedience would have been blessed, by his disobedience made himself instead an heir of judgment, and so will it be with all who duplicate his folly, and die without having received the Lord Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord.


12:31.  “And he called for Moses and Aaron by night, and said, Rise up, and get you forth from among my people, both ye and the children of Israel; and go, serve the Lord, as ye have said.”


This was what God had foretold in 11:1, Pharaoh’s folly being demonstrated in the fact that his compliance was compelled by God’s judgment, when it could have been yielded in willing obedience which would instead have secured blessing.  His rebellious and ruinous madness is duplicated daily by the myriads who die unrepentant, and who thus pass out into eternal torment instead of eternal blessing.  Compelled obedience constitutes the road to everlasting ruin, the madness of rebellion being revealed in the magnanimity with which God forgives sin simply in response to faith in the Lord Jesus Christ as Savior.


12:32.  “Also take your flocks and your herds, as ye have said, and be gone; and bless me also.”


12:33.  “And the Egyptians were urgent upon the people, that they might send them out of the land in haste; for they said; We be all dead men.”


What dramatic change God’s judgment had wrought in the hearts of Pharaoh and his people!  Sadly however, their submission came too late, as will that of all who die unrepentant.  What madness to have to yield compelled eternal obedience in the unquenchable flame of the lake of fire, when obedience yielded willingly on earth would have secured eternal blessing in heaven!


12:34.  “And the people took their dough before it was leavened, their kneadingtroughs being bound up in their clothes upon their shoulders.”


The freed Hebrews took with them unleavened bread, which, as noted already, represents the written Word.  This is the typological announcement of the truth that from the moment we trust in Christ as Savior and Lord, we are to take with us His Word which is our spiritual food for the journey home to heaven.


12:35.  “And the children of Israel did according to the word of Moses; and they borrowed of the Egyptians jewels of silver, and jewels of gold, and raiment:”


12:36.  “And the Lord gave the people favor in the sight of the Egyptians, so that they lent unto them such things as they required.  And they spoiled the Egyptians.”


As noted in our study of 11:2, the word “borrowed” means “demanded”; and “lent” means “gave.”  These valuables were not to be returned.  The silver, gold, and raiment, given up by the Egyptians, are the symbolic equivalents of the redemption, glory, and righteousness unwittingly forfeited by the unbeliever’s lack of faith in Christ as Savior.


12:37.  “And the children of Israel journeyed from Rameses to Succoth; about six hundred thousand on foot that were men, beside children.”


Rameses, meaning thunder of the standard, may speak of the unseen divine power behind the exodus; and Succoth, meaning booths, may speak of the visible apparent weakness of that redeemed company.  The spiritual picture is of the Church.  In the eyes of the world she is a despised thing, but the seeming weakness simply veils the divine omnipotence of the Holy Spirit who indwells every member of Christ’s Church, He being the head, and we the members of that mystical body.


Six is the number of man, weakness, incompleteness, so that while that six hundred thousand man army may have seemed the epitome of invincible power, the fact remains, that divorced from the power of God, it was as nothing, as is all the vaunted power of man, see, e.g., Zechariah 4:6, “Not by might, nor by power, but by my spirit, saith the Lord of hosts.”


“... beside children” is more accurately rendered, “... besides women and children.”  The total number of Israelites was about 2 million.


12:38.  “And a mixed multitude went up also with them; and flocks, and herds, even very much cattle.”


“Mixed multitude” is also translated, a mingled array of other folk: a motley mob: a crowd of mixed ancestry: a great rabble.

As the unfolding history reveals, that mixed multitude was the source of much trouble to Israel during their forty years in the wilderness.  We are however, misreading this history if we fail to recognize that it is the prewritten typological history of the professing church, for even before the Apostolic age had ended unbelievers had crept in unawares, with the result that the congregations quickly became the equivalent of that “mixed multitude” that accompanied Israel out of Egypt.


12:39.  “And they baked unleavened cakes of the dough which they brought forth out of Egypt, for it was not leavened; because they were thrust out of Egypt, and could not tarry, neither had they prepared for themselves any victual.”


As has been discussed already, leaven represents evil, particularly wrong doctrine, so that Israel’s having no leaven  when they left Egypt is the symbolic declaration of the fact that in the beginning the Church was equally free of doctrinal error.


12:40.  “Now the sojourning of the children of Israel, who dwelt in Egypt, was four hundred and thirty years.”


12:41.  “And it came to pass at the end of the four hundred and thirty years, even the selfsame day it came to pass, that all the hosts of the Lord went out from the land of Egypt.”


All scriptural numbers have spiritual significance, the meaning of numbers greater than 12 being determined by factorizing.  The factors of 430 however, are two, the number of witness or testimony; five, the number of responsibility; and 43, a prime number having no discernible spiritual significance, so I regret being unable to determine the spiritual lesson being taught in the 430 years.  That this is an exact number, and not just one that has been rounded up or down, is confirmed by the emphatic “even the selfsame day.”


12:42.  “It is a night to be much observed unto the Lord for bringing them out from the land of Egypt: this is that night of the Lord to be observed of all the children of Israel in their generations.”


Even to the present the Jews have been punctilious in their observance of the Passover, failing to understand that the reality it typified has been fulfilled in the death of the Lord Jesus Christ, the true Passover Lamb, the feast of Passover having been superseded by the ordinance of the Lord’s Supper, which is to be observed on the first day of each week in commemoration of his death and resurrection, His one perfect offering of himself without spot to God having put away the believer’s sins for ever.


12:43.  “And the Lord said unto Moses and Aaron, This is the ordinance of the passover: There shall no stranger eat thereof:”


The stranger represents the unbeliever; but even the believer is warned, “Whosoever shall eat this bread, and drink this cup of the Lord unworthily, shall be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord.  But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of that bread, and drink of that cup.  For he who eats and drinks unworthily, eats and drinks damnation to himself, not discerning the Lord’s body,” 1 Corinthians 11:27-29.  It is generally agreed that to eat and drink unworthily is for a believer to partake of the Lord’s Supper without having examined himself, and without having confessed to God, and having forsaken every known sin.


This command is flagrantly violated in the so-called churches of Christendom, where the emblems of the Lord’s Supper are presented to the whole congregation, with virtually no effort made to distinguish between believer and unbeliever, the dereliction being justified by the pious excuse that “we don’t have the right to judge others.”


12:44.  “But every man’s servant that is bought for money, when thou hast circumcised him, then shall he eat thereof.”


The bought servant represents the believer, of whom it is declared, “For you are bought with a price; therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s,” 1 Corinthians 6:20, and again, “You are bought with a price; be not you the servants of men,” 1 Corinthians 7:23.


“... when you have circumcised him.”  Circumcision speaks of the cutting off of the deeds of the flesh, as it is written, “For he is not a Jew, which is one outwardly; neither is that circumcision, which is outward in the flesh: but he is a Jew, which is one inwardly; and circumcision is that of the heart, in the spirit, and not in the letter; whose praise is not of men, but of God,” Romans 2:28-29.  Mere lip profession of faith, that is not accompanied by a transformed life, is worthless.


12:45.  “A foreigner and an hired servant shall not eat thereof.”


The foreigner represents the unbeliever, as does also the hired servant, for the foreigner portrays the man of alien birth: he has never been born again; while the hired servant represents the man who is trying to buy entry to heaven by means of good works.  Neither was to eat the passover, nor is the spiritual counterpart to eat the Lord’s Supper.


12:46.  “In one house shall it be eaten; thou shalt not carry forth ought of the flesh abroad out of the house; neither shall ye break a bone thereof.”


The “one house” represents the family of faith, i.e., believers.  None but believers are to eat the Lord’s Supper.


The “one house” speaks of the Church which is the spiritual body of Christ.  Only those who comprise that “house” may eat the Lord’s Supper. 


The proscription against carrying any of the flesh out of the house is the warning that the Lord’s Supper is not to be made available to the unconverted.


“... neither shall ye break a bone thereof.”  A broken bone would have marred the physical perfection of the lamb; and in this command God was guarding against even the suggestion that His Lamb, the Lord Jesus Christ, was less than morally perfect.  This type was fulfilled when the legs of the malefactors crucified with Christ were broken, but the Lord’s were not.


12:47.  “All the congregation of Israel shall keep it.”


The “congregation” here represents the true Church, i.e., all those who are born-again believers.


12:48.  “And when the stranger shall sojourn with you, and will keep the passover to the Lord, let all his males be circumcised, and then let him come near and keep it; and he shall be as one that is born in the land: for no uncircumcised person shall eat thereof.”


This stranger represents a genuine believer who desires to associate himself with those who also seek to walk according to God’s Word; and the need for him to be circumcised continues to emphasize the need of a changed lifestyle that will confirm the profession of the lips.


Since the male represents the activity of the will, the need for “all his males” to be circumcised is the symbolic way of saying that every part of the believer’s life - religious, domestic, professional, social - is to be such as will honor God and confirm the man’s verbal profession of faith.


His being “as one that is born in the land” is another way of saying that every facet of the man’s life must confirm the reality of his professed new spiritual birth.


The emphasized exclusion of the uncircumcised from eating the Passover, continues to declare that continuation of the old lifestyle bars a man from partaking of the Lord’s Supper.


12:49.  “One law shall be to him that is homeborn, and unto the stranger that sojourneth among you.”


There is to be no partiality in the local church: the same standard is to be applied to him who has been in fellowship for fifty years, as to the most recently received member.


12:50.  “Thus did all the children of Israel; as the Lord commanded Moses and Aaron, so did they.”


This implicit obedience foreshadows that which marked the early Church, and which contributed so much to the warmth of their love for one another, and to the power of their witness to the unconverted amongst whom they dwelt.


12:51.  “And it came to pass the selfsame day, that the Lord did bring the children of Israel out of the land of Egypt by their armies.”


Israel’s being brought out of Egypt on the selfsame day that had begun with their eating the Passover, has also a lesson to teach. As their break with Egypt was immediate, so is ours to be with the world in which we formerly dwelt as the captives of Satan.  The believer’s break with his old life and all its associations is to be immediate and complete.  Only eternity will reveal the number of testimonies that have been ruined by the new convert’s failure to make a complete break with the sinful things and associations of his former life.


“... their armies” is also translated hosts: array: martial order: company: wave after wave of them.  These different groups represent the individual local churches which comprise the corporate body, the Church universal, here on earth at any given time.

[Exodus 13]


     Scripture portions taken from the Holy Bible, King James Version
© 2000-2005 James Melough