Passover was the first of the three feast seasons in Jewish culture.The Passover was to be a memorial to the Hebrews’ deliverance from Egypt. This deliverance happened during the month of Nisan and represented God’s first encounter with His covenant people. (Exod. 12:1-14; 43-48.)
You recall that God chose Moses as His instrument to lead the Hebrews out of bondage. Working through Moses, God sent ten terrible plagues against Egypt. This was God’s way of convincing Pharaoh to let the Hebrews go. But each time God sent a new plague, Pharaoh’s heart hardened (Exod. 3-10).
God gave Pharaoh every chance to let the Hebrews go, but Pharaoh would not yield. God then declared a tenth and final plague, which was the death of the firstborn of every family (Exod. 11). But along with this decree of death, God gave specific instructions on how to be saved from this death.
Every Hebrew man was to select for his household a lamb without spot or blemish. On the fifth day, he was to bring the lamb to his doorstep and kill him. As he killed the lamb, he would catch the blood in the basin at the foot of the doorstep. Then he would sprinkle the blood on both sides of the doorpost and above the doorpost. Thus, the entire entrance into the house was covered by the blood of the lamb.
That night, God allowed the angel of death to pass through the land. As he passed from door to door, he sought to enter every household. If the entrance was covered by blood, the angel of death could not enter but had to pass over that house. If the entrance was not covered by blood, judgment would come upon that household as the firstborn would die.
This was the Lord’s Passover. We see that He used the blood of the lamb to save His people from death. The blood of the lamb was their covering and protection.
The Hebrew word for Passover is Pesach. This word means to come under the protection of a deity by crossing over, jumping over, stepping over, or leaping over something, in this case, the threshold. Humankind’s earliest primitive altar to the one true God, as well as false gods, was the threshold or entrance into the home. The threshold altar was the place where people made their sacrifice to their gods. The purpose was to request protection from the family deity as well as inviting the deity into their house.
When people dedicated their house to their god, they did so by making a sacrifice at the threshold. So it was the common practice to kill an animal at the threshold of the house as the way of welcoming the family deity. They would then cross over the threshold and enter the house.
Since the people were making a sacred blood covenant with their god, they were careful to cross over, step over, leap over, or jump over the blood. To trample under foot the blood was to show contempt and rejection of the covenant. They would then invite the deity into their house to be their protector and provider. In their way of thinking, because they dedicated the house to their god at the blood- stained threshold, their god stood in the doorway protecting them from harm.
The common understanding of Passover that has come down to us over the centuries is that God somehow passed by the dwellings where the blood was applied. But the biblical understanding is much more powerful. When the people applied the blood to the threshold and doorway, they were inviting God to pass over or cross over the threshold into their house as their protector from the angel of death. God, in a sense, stood in the doorway protecting the people from death. He entered into a threshold-blood covenant with the people as He crossed over the blood-stained threshold while His executioner entered the houses of those who did not have the blood. This Pass-over was actually a Crossing Over or threshold Covenant.
Fast-forward 1,500 years later to Jesus’ day: for centuries, the Jewish people had been celebrating the Feast of Passover by killing a lamb and offering it as a sacrifice to God. They knew about lambs. But the blood of an animal could only cover their sins; it could not take them away. In view of this, God sent prophets to explain to the people that, one day in the future, a human lamb would come who would deal with the problem of sin and death once and for all.
As the time came for this human lamb to be sacrificed, God sent one last prophet to help the people recognize Him. This prophet was John the Baptist, the forerunner of Jesus. John introduced Jesus with these words: “Behold the Lamb of God!” (John 1:36).
John identified Jesus as the human lamb Isaiah spoke of who would give His life for the sins of the world. Jesus was God Himself, born as a human, specifically for this purpose (Acts 2:22-23). Because of their religious sacrifices, the Jewish people immediately understood the significance of John’s statements concerning Jesus.
As the time approached for Jesus to die, Jesus deliberately arranged His itinerary and personal activities around the events associated with the selection, testing, and death of the Passover Lamb. In this way, the Jewish people would be able to understand who He was and what He was doing. They had acted out the drama of redemption through the Passover picture.
The blood of the Passover lamb was a visual aid and dress rehearsal directing the Jews into the future when Jesus would come and establish the spiritual reality that the lambs could only symbolize. The blood of Jesus saves us from death and gives us the promise of resurrection.
What personal application does the passover feast have for us today? The Bible says and the human condition proves that all of us have sinned and that the judgment for our sin is death (Rom. 3:23; 6:23). As with the Hebrews back in Egypt, the angel of death comes knocking at our door. Death is the one subject we don’t like to think of or talk about.
Not only are we afraid of death, but we are also afraid of God. We are afraid of God because deep down inside we know we are sinners and that our sins have separated us from God. We know that God would be perfectly just in punishing us. So we run from Him. We try to hide behind the walls of religion, business, power, money, fame, glamour, success, etc. We keep ourselves busy and numb our minds in order not to think about Him. The prophet Isaiah observed this and wrote, “‘there is no peace for the wicked,’ says the Lord” (Isa. 48:22).
Even though we deserve death, God has made a way for us to be saved. That way is through the blood of Jesus, which cleanses us from all sin (see 1 John 1:7). When we apply His blood to the doorpost of our heart, death cannot hold us. We no longer need to fear death because the resurrection of Jesus has taken away its sting (1 Cor. 15:51-57).
The same is true of our fear of God. We no longer have to run from God when we accept Jesus as the Lamb of God who died for our sins. God accepts Jesus’ death in our place. He is our innocent substitutionary sacrifice. We are reconciled to God when we acknowledge Jesus as the one who died on our behalf.
Paul wrote, “But now in Christ Jesus [Messiah Yeshua] you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ [Messiah]” (Eph. 2:13). This means there is no condemnation for those who come to Jesus and receive Him as Messiah, Lord, and Savior (see Romans 8:1). We shall not come into condemnation, for we have passed from death to life (John 5:24).
The result of our coming to Jesus as our Passover sacrifice is peace with God. We read these words in Romans, “Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ [Yeshua the Messiah]...But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ [Messiah] died for us. Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from the wrath of God through Him” (Rom. 5:1,8-9).
Our Father in Heaven has offered the blood of His own Son as the Passover-threshold covenant sacrifice. By embracing Jesus as our Passover Lamb, God has entered our house—that is, our life. He has become our protector and provider. We have crossed over from being natural people to covenant people, from darkness to light, from sin to righteousness, from bondage to liberty, from defeat to victory, from fear to faith, from sickness to health, from poverty to plenty, and from death to life. Therefore, let us not trample under our feet the sacred threshold-blood covenant God has made for us through Jesus and treat it as a common thing. But let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for our God is a faithful, covenant-keeping God. (Heb. 10.)
Accepting Jesus as our Messiah, Lord, and Savior is the first major encounter we have with God. This is how we find peace with God. This is what the Feast of Passover symbolizes. It is the picture of the Prince of Peace, the Lord Jesus.
- Richard Booker, author of Celebrating Jesus in the Biblical Feasts