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 2001 James Melough


EXODUS 12:1-7

Before beginning our study of the Passover lamb as a type of Christ, it is necessary to note that the death of the lamb was to preserve the firstborn of each house from death, and in Scripture the firstborn represents what we are by natural birth: we are born sinners, and as such are under sentence of death, our salvation being to trust in Christ as Savior by believing that when He died at Calvary it was in my guilty place, for my sins, and by believing that in response to that faith God pardons all my sin and will receive me into heaven at the end of life’s journey.

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 that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die,” Ge 2:17, 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 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.  This is what is being emphasized here in verse 1 in His speaking to both Moses and Aaron.

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.

Each is watered by a great river: Egypt, by the Nile, representative of the great river of wealth that waters the world of business; 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 doctrine 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 God speaks to them in the gospel, and commands them “to take to them every man a lamb,” that lamb being the Lord Jesus Christ, as it is written, “For even Christ our passover is sacrificed for us,” 1 Cor 5:7.

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 taught by the apostles (12), 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.  There is a new beginning, “If any man be in Christ, he is a new creation (creature),” 2 Cor 5:17.

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, “For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God,” Ro 3:23.  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 taketh away the sin of the world,” Jn 1:29.

“... 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 Cor 15:22, for the transgression began with him.  Men don’t become sinners by committing sin: they commit sin because they are born sinners, born with a sinful nature that can produce nothing but sin.

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.

With the exception of unbelief, there is no sin that can’t be cleansed by faith in Christ’s precious blood.  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.

“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 finished 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 points to 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,” Lk 9:51.  He would permit nothing to turn Him aside from finishing the work the 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,” Mt 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 righteousness, 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 Co 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 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.

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 could secure no salvation: He must die.

A further truth, however, is taught in the evening sacrifice being the last sacrifice of the day, for in Heb 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 must be personal.  I must believe that He died in my place for my sins.  A general belief in 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.

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’ve 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?” Heb 10:29.


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