Then Moses called all the elders of Israel and said to them, "Go and select lambs for yourselves according to your clans, and kill the Passover lamb. Take a bunch of hyssop and dip it in the blood that is in the basin, and touch the lintel and the two doorposts with the blood that is in the basin. None of you shall go out of the door of his house until the morning. For the LORD will pass through to strike the Egyptians, and when he sees the blood on the lintel and on the two doorposts, the LORD will pass over the door and will not allow the destroyer to enter your houses to strike you. (Exodus 12:21-23)
This passage of scripture recounts the story of God delivering the Israelites out of Egyptian slavery. After nine plagues, Pharaoh was still refusing to let God’s people go free, and so he was warned that the tenth and final plague would be the death of every firstborn in Egypt. In preparation for this night, God instructed the Israelites through Moses to take a lamb without blemish and sacrifice it and then smear its blood over the tops of their doorframes and on their doorposts and that this would be a sign for the death angel to pass over that home and not harm anyone inside. Hence, the name the Feast of Passover. The blood of the animal itself had no magical power to ward off the death angel nor did God need to see the blood on the homes in order to distinguish between Israelites and non-Israelites. God is all-knowing and all-seeing. The sacrifice of the lamb and the smearing of the blood was an object lesson for God’s people—to avoid the wrath of God upon us because of our sin, someone or something without blemish must die. The Passover event is a harbinger of the sacrificial system about to be established with the giving of the Law and, ultimately, a foreshadowing of Christ. This is because the Bible makes clear that the blood of bulls and goats could never take away sins and was never intended to actually atone for sins (Heb 10:1-4). Instead, all the animal sacrifices in the Old Testament were simply designed as reminders to God’s people that they are sinful, that they could never live up to God’s standard, and that they needed a true Redeemer, and everlasting atonement, someone to once for all deliver them from the burden of their sin and the condemnation of God’s Law.
God provides just such a Redeemer, an everlasting atonement, and a once-for-all Deliverer from the burden of our sin and the condemnation of God’s Law. As we celebrate Advent this Christmas season, we like to reflect on the birth of Christ and watch all the movies which end with the Nativity scene, the angels singing, and the star shining. But the story does not end there. During Christmas we often fail to think about why Christ was born in Bethlehem in the first place. Christ was born to die, to “save his people from their sins” (Mtt 1:21). This is what Christmas is all about.
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