Old Testament Exodus The Passover Service

The Passover Service

Heirlooms are an interesting thing. Most heirlooms mean nothing to those outside. Some items have value beyond our comprehension, items of immense value in financial terms. While others hold great value only to the family from where they come from. Jewelry holds value but often not in the millions. But recipes, letters, diaries, Bibles or quilts often mean nothing if you were to try and sell them on the internet. The value comes from the history or the story that is connected to them. If the story is lost then value is gone.

As Christians we have many heirlooms, not physical ones but the many stories in the bible that point to the person who we value and cherish, Jesus Christ. We are given stories of traditions that we celebrated and practiced by believers under that Old Testament that we need to remember, and we need to tell our children about. Christians have the whole story of God’s redemption that points us to Christ, one of these stories of redemption that points us to the substance of the story is that of the Passover found in Exodus chapter 12.

Throughout the study of Exodus chapter 12 we have noted that the event of the Exodus was to be a pivotal point in the nation of Israel’s history and was to become on of the critical celebrations in their yearly calendar. In today’s passage we see they are instructed to “keep this service” (Ex 12:25). What does Moses mean by the term service? How would we define this service? Today we see that this passage speaks about the Passover as service to be remembered and reminded of, even long after it occurs.

A service of Sacrifice

We understand this aspect of the Passover, but we also fail to fully grasp this reality. Sacrifice is a word we use frequently in the world and even more inside the church. We speak of the sacrifice of parents for their children. Soldiers who sacrifice their lives. First responders, caretakers, teachers, and refugees. Sometimes sacrifice is used in a very serious nature of giving up an enormous amount if not a total amount of something. We would all agree a solider giving up his life is great sacrifice, compared to other forms of sacrifices we speak of today. However, when we speak of biblical sacrifice we speak of a total sacrifice. This lamb that was chosen did not sacrifice his wool (more like hair). This lamb or goat was used in its entire. The blood was shed the flesh was eaten, the rest was burned. The Passover lamb was sacrificed in its entirely. The lamb was to be slaughtered. Now why do we talk about this? Blood and flesh. Because we need to take a poetic and merely symbolic picture of sacrifices out of our minds and thoughts when we read through the Bible. The night of the Passover was a bloody night. As men prepared the lamb, the blood was sprinkled on the doorposts (Heb 11:28). Boys and girls would of seen the blood of the lamb as their father dipped the hyssop branch into the basin and spread it upon the door posts and lintels.

Why is this important for us? Because we have sterilized what should be pungent to us. “And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God” (Eph 5:2). This verse should make us have chills. Christ came to this earth bearing our flesh, that would be ripped from his body. He came to this earth shedding his own blood for our sins. Sacrifice is a word that speaks of total and final payment. Biblically speaking you do not have a partial sacrifice; the lamb does not live to face another day. The blood of the lamb was not merely a small drop of blood, but 1-2 gallons of blood poured out and sprinkled on the door posts. So, to with Christ, he came to give up his life totally, but not finally. He died on the cross shedding his blood, not on the door posts and lintels but upon the wooden cross. Christ sacrificed himself, for his sheep (John 10). Every year the people under the Old Covenant would see the shadow of Christ in this lamb that was sacrificed.

But also, for us as we are following in Christ’s sacrifice, it is not a partial sacrifice of a few hours here, and a small room to rent in our heart but our whole self. The love that he showed to us is the love we are to show our brothers as the apostle John wrote, “By this we know love, that he laid down his life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers.” (1 John 3:16). As the Apostle Paul instructed us that we should be living sacrifices, “I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship” (Romans 12:1).

A service of Substitution

This service was not merely about the sacrifice but the sacrifice accomplished something. It is not that the people of Israel sacrificed a lamb and spread the blood upon the door posts and lintels. But the blood took the place of another. “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” (Ex 12:23). We see this thought chapter 12, dead is coming to everyone’s house in the land of Egypt and the land of Goshen. However, the death will not be the same. The Lord will strike or spare. Now notice something very important, the Lord does not need to go into the house, he does not check who is inside of the house. The only looks for the blood on the doorposts. This is a very important principle that we need to understand, a substitute substitutes in its entirely. The blood of the lamb is sufficient. The only difference between the Lord striking or sparing is the blood, the Lord sees one has already died, death need not come to this house again. The Lord only passes over when there is blood of another.

How wrong we often think. We think that he passes over our houses compared to others because we are just better people. Or we think we are not as evil as they are. We think that we belong to the covenant community, or that we do particular things. Yet, all God is looking for is the blood. The lamb’s blood is a substitute for us. You ask any young child the next day as they were leaving Egypt, why are you still alive? Why did the other child die? Their answer would never be, well I was just nicer, or I wasn’t as mean, but the lamb died instead of me. As Paul speaks in 2 Corinthians 5:21, “For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” The lamb was a substitute for the people of God.

A service of Faith

The author of Hebrews explains that “By faith [Moses] kept the Passover and sprinkled the blood, so that the Destroyer of the firstborn might not touch them” (Heb 11:28). Faith is the assurance of things hoped for and the conviction of things not yet seen (Heb 11:1). Moses and the people of Israel has no promise from Pharaoh they this final sign and wonder would actually work. Every single one of these Hebrew men and women had been born into slavery. Historically speaking there was one way to stop being a slave, and that was to die. No one retired from being a slave. They were born slaves and were slaves to Pharaoh. Pharaoh had hardened his heart time and time again and yet they were to trust that this final plague would be the final blow. They had every reason to say to Moses, this is never going to happen, how can we just go back to making bricks without gathering our own straw. They had many reasons from the outside to be filled with doubt and disbelief. But this is not their response. We see in verses 27 and 28, “And the people bowed their heads and worshiped. Then the people of Israel went and did so; as the Lord had commanded Moses and Aaron, so they did” (Ex 12:27–28). The same response they had in Exodus 4:31, “And the people believed; and when they heard that the LORD had visited the people of Israel and that he had seen their affliction, they bowed their heads and worshiped.” The Israelites worshiped God while they were still slaves. They did all that the Lord had commanded through the prophet Moses. They killed the lamb as slaves and spread the blood as slaves, they are the Passover as slaves, and woke up as free men and women. All they had was the word of God, which they trusted in faith. For them faith was the assurance that God would save them from death and their conviction that the blood would deliver them from Pharaoh’s grip. They ate in faith of what was promised and not yet seen.

So to for believers today, we eat the elements of the Lord’s supper in faith. “For I tell you I will not eat it until it is fulfilled in the kingdom of God.” And he took a cup, and when he had given thanks he said, “Take this, and divide it among yourselves. For I tell you that from now on I will not drink of the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God comes.” (Luke 22:16–18) A meal of faith in which we, who are true believers, dine with Christ through faith. We do not grasp the final freedom from our slavery yet. We have been saved through the blood of the lamb, and the lamb’s flesh. But we are not yet in the land promised to us.

In both instances, whether for the Israelites awaiting deliverance from the bondage of Egypt or for believers partaking in the Lord’s Supper, faith becomes the bridge between promise and fulfillment. The Israelites trusted in the unseen, acting on God’s Word, and witnessed the miraculous transition from slavery to freedom. Similarly, as believers, we partake in the symbolic elements of the Lord’s Supper, anticipating the complete fulfillment of God’s promises in the coming kingdom. Our faith is not anchored in the visible but in the assured hope that, just as Christ proclaimed, the ultimate fulfillment awaits in the kingdom of God. It is a communion of faith, where we dine with Christ, celebrating the salvation accomplished and anticipating the full realization of our promised inheritance.

A service of the Family

Finally, we see this Passover service is one where the whole family is involved. Me mentioned this when we saw the sign and wonder of the locust (Ex 10:1-20). Pharaoh had said men could go and worship God but not the children. However, this was agreeable or acceptable to God. The Little ones were to know who the Lord is, they were to go and serve the Lord and also they were to grow in the Lord. We see this principle again in this service as they were to celebrate every year when they came into the land the Lord was to give them. Moses explains, “And when you come to the land that the LORD will give you, as he has promised, you shall keep this service. And when your children say to you, ‘What do you mean by this service?’ you shall say, ‘It is the sacrifice of the LORD’s Passover, for he passed over the houses of the people of Israel in Egypt, when he struck the Egyptians but spared our houses.’ ” (Ex 12:25–27). One of the purposes that this annual feast was to remind the people of God young and old of what God had done. In the Passover meal the children would play a large part asking a series of questions beginning with “Why is tonight different from any other night?” The parents were to teach and intercut their children of who God is, how he provided for them, how he saved and delivered them, how he defeated the enemy and set them apart to worship him alone. They are to tell their children that God through his grace and his mercy spared their houses because of the blood of the lamb that was shed. There is no way around it parents, you are the teachers and examples of Christ to your children. You cannot outsource this job to anyone else. You are the ones that need to teach your children in the way of the Lord. You are the ones that need to teach them as you are walking, sitting, driving, and all throughout their life. I do not seek to get political, but many are upset about taking the Bible out of school, but I think the problem that many families faced was that the bible was not in their home. Not that they didn’t own a Bible but it was never opened. The problem is not that others teach our children, the problem when we think that others will do it and we do not need to. There are two main ways people are brought into the covenant community in the Bible is through proselytization and procreation. Both work the same way someone needs to be sent to preach and teach. To the outsider it is the all of us, but to the covenant children it is first the role of the parent. Both should be doused in prayer, soaked in the word, and declared from the heart. Both need to Spirit’s work to regenerate hearts.

The Passover transcends mere tradition; it’s a divine service unveiling the core tenets of the gospel, later fully revealed in Christ’s incarnation. In Sacrifice and Substitution, it prophetically pointed to the profound truths that would find fulfillment in the Messiah. Now, as Christ, our Passover Lamb, has shed His blood for us, our celebration is not in symbols on doorposts but in the sincerity and truth of worshiping God in Spirit and Truth. The shadow has given way to substance, and the legacy of faith is passed on to the family of God.

Where to find us


Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur elit sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt.