Chapter 12:1-13 (ESV) - The LORD said to Moses and Aaron in the land of Egypt, “This month shall be for you the beginning of months. It shall be the first month of the year for you. Tell all the congregation of Israel that on the tenth day of this month every man shall take a lamb according to their fathers' houses, a lamb for a household. And if the household is too small for a lamb, then he and his nearest neighbor shall take according to the number of persons; according to what each can eat you shall make your count for the lamb. Your lamb shall be without blemish, a male a year old. You may take it from the sheep or from the goats, and you shall keep it until the fourteenth day of this month, when the whole assembly of the congregation of Israel shall kill their lambs at twilight.
“Then they shall take some of the blood and put it on the two doorposts and the lintel of the houses in which they eat it. They shall eat the flesh that night, roasted on the fire; with unleavened bread and bitter herbs they shall eat it. Do not eat any of it raw or boiled in water, but roasted, its head with its legs and its inner parts. And you shall let none of it remain until the morning; anything that remains until the morning you shall burn. In this manner you shall eat it: with your belt fastened, your sandals on your feet, and your staff in your hand. And you shall eat it in haste. It is the LORD's Passover. For I will pass through the land of Egypt that night, and I will strike all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, both man and beast; and on all the gods of Egypt I will execute judgments: I am the LORD. 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 no plague will befall you to destroy you, when I strike the land of Egypt.
Question to consider: What elements of the Passover meal point to the sacrifice of Christ?
The tenth plague was of such great importance to the LORD, that He reorganized their year around it. The “calendar” new year that is called Rosh Hashanah occurs in the fall, on the eighth day after Yom Kippur (the Day of Atonement) in the seventh month. It is treated more like our modern day new year celebration since it is a chance to make a life change and then receive atonement for the past year’s sins. The Jewish New Year, the first month, happens in the spring at the time of Passover. It is used for numbering the years of kings and festivals. The best way I could find to understand this idea of multiple new years is to compare the start of the modern calendar year which happens in January to the start of the church year which occurs on the fourth Sunday before Christmas (the beginning of Advent).
I’d argue that in setting the time of the tenth plague, Passover, and Exodus from Egypt as the first month, the LORD was starting the clock for the countdown to the coming of His Messiah who would usher in the ultimate Exodus more than a thousand years later. The death of the firstborn sons of Egypt and sparing of the firstborn sons of Israel was a type and shadow for the death of His Messiah on the cross and the deliverance of God’s people from sin. The Passover meal is a type and shadow of our communion meal with Messiah as “the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!” (John 1:29)
The lamb was to be unblemished as the Messiah was without sin. It was to be chosen on the tenth day of the month and kept with the family until the fourteenth day of the month where it was to be slaughtered amidst the assembly at twilight. The Targum says that this was done for “the fear of the Egyptians.” Back in chapter 8, Moses had insisted to Pharaoh that they go outside of the land into the wilderness to make their sacrifices because it would be seen as an abomination by the Egyptians who held the lamb and goat as sacred. Now all of Israel would take the lambs into their homes for four days, slaughter them publicly, and paint their doors with the blood. This act would infuriate the Egyptians.
I think it also is a type and shadow that pointed to the ministry of Jesus who spoke openly among the religious leaders for almost four years. The blood of the lamb on the doorposts points to the blood of Christ on the cross which is a sign for us to be passed over from the judgment that is to come. They consumed the flesh of the lamb like we consume the Lamb of God in Communion. The Passover was not just a meal of remembrance but of participation in the miraculous salvation from judgment and Exodus from Egypt. The Communion meal is also not just a meal of remembrance but a participation in the life, death, and resurrection of our Lord.
Dear heavenly father, thank You for sending Your unblemished Lamb to remove our sin and cloth us in righteousness. Stir up in us a longing to gather with the assembly of believers to receive Your good gifts. Amen.