December the 3rd finds us in Exodus chapter 12, verses 1-14:
The LORD said to Moses and Aaron in Egypt, “This month is to be for you the first month, the first month of your year. Tell the whole community of Israel that on the tenth day of this month each man is to take a lamb for his family, one for each household. If any household is too small for a whole lamb, they must share one with their nearest neighbor, having taken into account the number of people there are. You are to determine the amount of lamb needed in accordance with what each person will eat. The animals you choose must be year-old males without defect, and you may take them from the sheep or the goats. Take care of them until the fourteenth day of the month, when all the members of the community of Israel must slaughter them at twilight.
Then they are to take some of the blood and put it on the sides and tops of the doorframes of the houses where they eat the lambs.
That same night they are to eat the meat roasted over the fire, along with bitter herbs, and bread made without yeast Do not eat the meat raw or boiled in water, but roast it over a fire—with the head, legs and internal organs. Do not leave any of it till morning; if some is left till morning, you must burn it. This is how you are to eat it: with your cloak tucked into your belt, your sandals on your feet and your staff in your hand. Eat it in haste; it is the LORD’s Passover.
On that same night I will pass through Egypt and strike down every firstborn of both people and animals, and I will bring judgment on all the gods of Egypt. I am the LORD. The blood will be a sign for you on the houses where you are, and when I see the blood, I will pass over you. No destructive plague will touch you when I strike Egypt.
This is a day you are to commemorate; for the generations to come you shall celebrate it as a festival to the LORD - a lasting ordinance.”
God certainly gave clear instructions on how this Passover meal was to be prepared and eaten. I admit, I don't know as much about this passage as I would like to. I know that not eating the meat raw was for at least two reasons: first, idol worshippers used to eat raw meat and God didn't want His people to be associated with them in any way and second, eating raw meat was a health concern. I would assume that not boiling it in water was for the same reason, but I'm not sure about that. The bitter herbs were to remind the people of the bitterness of slavery in Egypt. And yeast represented sin, impurity. I can see that. A small amount of yeast can spread through a lot of bread dough. The instructions to have their cloak tucked into their belts, their sandals on their feet and their staff in their hands represented haste. A man used to tuck his cloak up into his belt when he was going to run.
This plague, the tenth plague, was to be the death of all the firstborn. In the Hebrew culture the firstborn holds a very important place. I can't help but believe that God had a specific message in mind for Pharaoh and the rest of Egypt. It wasn't just the death of one of their children (that would be hard enough), but the death of their firstborn. But this was also a judgment against the gods of Egypt. They were powerless to stop this plague.
Verse 7 in the text above is another foreshadowing of Jesus’ death on the cross. Lamb was a common meal for Israel, but putting the blood on the doorposts, that was something altogether different. Was it because God wouldn't be able to find His people otherwise? I don't think so. It was an object lesson for the people of Israel. It was a sign, for them, of their faith and their obedience. The lamb had to shed its blood if they were to be free. This points us again to Christ.
In the Gospel of John chapter 1, verse 29 we see:
The next day John [the Baptist] saw Jesus coming toward him and said, “Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!”
We are redeemed by the Blood of the Lamb! The people of Israel were protected from the death of their firstborn by the blood of the lamb. God’s firstborn (only) son, Jesus, is Lord of the Passover, it's all about Him. The Pharisees who shouted "Crucify Him" at Jesus' trial certainly would have known the Old Testament stories. In fact, they would have had the Torah (the first five book of the Hebrew Bible) memorized. They had Jesus, the Son of God, their Messiah, right before them and they couldn’t see it. Would I? I sometimes wonder. The ornament that goes on the tree tonight is a small door with its doorposts painted with red, for the blood of the Lamb.