1 Some time later the Lord said to Moses and Aaron:
2This month is to be the first month of the year for you. 3Tell the people of Israel that on the tenth day of this month the head of each family must choose a lamb or a young goat for his family to eat. 4-5If any family is too small to eat the whole animal, they must share it with their next-door neighbors. Choose either a sheep or a goat, but it must be a one-year-old male that has nothing wrong with it. And it must be large enough for everyone to have some of the meat.
6Each family must take care of its animal until the evening of the fourteenth day of the month, when the animals are to be killed. 7Some of the blood must be put on the two doorposts and above the door of each house where the animals are to be eaten. 8That night the animals are to be roasted and eaten, together with bitter herbs and thin bread made without yeast. 9Don't eat the meat raw or boiled. The entire animal, including its head, legs, and insides, must be roasted. 10Eat what you want that night, and the next morning burn whatever is left. 11When you eat the meal, be dressed and ready to travel. Have your sandals on, carry your walking stick in your hand, and eat quickly. This is the Passover Festival in honor of me, your Lord.
12That same night I will pass through Egypt and kill the first-born son in every family and the first-born male of all animals. I am the Lord, and I will punish the gods of Egypt. 13The blood on the houses will show me where you live, and when I see the blood, I will pass over you. Then you won't be bothered by the terrible disasters I will bring on Egypt.
14 Remember this day and celebrate it each year as a festival in my honor. 15For seven days you must eat bread made without yeast. And on the first of these seven days, you must remove all yeast from your homes. If you eat anything made with yeast during this festival, you will no longer be part of Israel. 16Meet together for worship on the first and seventh days of the festival. The only work you are allowed to do on either of these two days is that of preparing the bread.
17Celebrate this Festival of Thin Bread as a way of remembering the day that I brought your families and tribes out of Egypt. And do this each year. 18Begin on the evening of the fourteenth day of the first month by eating bread made without yeast. Then continue this celebration until the evening of the twenty-first day. 19During these seven days no yeast is allowed in anyone's home, whether they are native Israelites or not. If you are caught eating anything made with yeast, you will no longer be part of Israel. 20Stay away from yeast, no matter where you live. No one is allowed to eat anything made with yeast!
21Moses called the leaders of Israel together and said:
Each family is to pick out a sheep and kill it for Passover. 22Make a brush from a few small branches of a hyssop plant and dip the brush in the bowl that has the blood of the animal in it. Then brush some of the blood above the door and on the posts at each side of the door of your house. After this, everyone is to stay inside until morning.
23 During that night the Lord will go through the country of Egypt and kill the first-born son in every Egyptian family. He will see where you have put the blood, and he will not come into your house. His angel that brings death will pass over and not kill your first-born sons.
24-25After you have entered the country promised to you by the Lord, you and your children must continue to celebrate Passover each year. 26Your children will ask you, “What are we celebrating?” 27And you will answer, “The Passover animal is killed to honor the Lord. We do these things because on that night long ago the Lord passed over the homes of our people in Egypt. He killed the first-born sons of the Egyptians, but he spared our children from death.”
After Moses finished speaking, the people of Israel knelt down and worshiped the Lord. 28Then they left and did what Moses and Aaron had told them to do.
Death for the First-Born Sons
29 At midnight the Lord killed the first-born son of every Egyptian family, from the son of the king to the son of every prisoner in jail. He also killed the first-born male of every animal that belonged to the Egyptians.
30That night the king, his officials, and everyone else in Egypt got up and started crying bitterly. In every Egyptian home, someone was dead.
The Israelites are instructed to take the blood of a perfect lamb, apply it to their doorposts, so that death would pass over them as it ravaged Egypt. The Lord required Israel’s participation in the final plague but not the others. They were not automatically exempt from the substitution of a life for a life. Obedience to God’s plan protected them and provided the escape from judgment. The Passover event is so important that it will mark the beginning of their calendar from now on. God is painting an eternal picture of redemption in this chapter. It is to be a memorial forever, imprinted on annual schedules not just on scrolls.
This first Passover meal is a portrayal of the redemption story. From the bitter herbs to the unleavened bread, the children of Israel are to re-enact all that God did for them in bringing them out of Egypt. In all they prepare for, in all they see on the table, the food they touch, taste and smell, the words they hear—every sense is engaged as they participate in the story. Every element is loaded with meaning for them both now and in the future.
God’s lamb is a central part of his story. He provided a lamb for Abraham as a substitution for his only son Isaac (Genesis 22:1-19). The lamb’s blood protected the Israelites from death. John beheld Jesus as the Lamb of God who takes away sin (John 1:29). Jesus was the provided lamb as he instituted the new covenant (Jeremiah 31:31-34)in his blood at the last Passover meal with his disciples (Luke 22:20). Each of us can participate in God’s story. We are invited to place the blood of Jesus on the doorposts of our hearts so that death would pass over us. Through the Messiah, we have the gift of eternal life.
God our Provider, you saw our need and met it through the sacrifice of your only Son. Forgive our sins and remind us of your redemption. As we have freely received the gift of life, prompt us to share it with others. For your kingdom’s sake, in Jesus’ name, Amen.