As I have been preparing for my family observance of Passover, I have been thinking and praying about its meaning. When reading the Exodus story of the first Passover, it became obvious to me that the lamb was not a sacrifice for sin. It was to protect the people of Israel from the Death Angel who would meet out Yehovah’s judgement. So, if Passover is not about forgiveness of sin, then what did John the Baptist mean when he said, “Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world”?
Passover of Redemption
Yehovah gave instruction through Moses to the people of Israel that the first-born males (human and animal) were His and must be given back to Him. The first-born male of clean animals (bulls, cows, sheep, goats) were sacrificed. The first-born unclean male donkey was redeemed by the sacrifice of a year-old lamb, if not redeemed, its neck was broken. The first-born male child had to be redeemed.
And Jehovah spake unto Moses, saying, Sanctify unto me all the first-born, whatsoever openeth the womb among the children of Israel, both of man and of beast: it is mine.Exodus 13:1-2 & 11-13 ASV
And it shall be, when Jehovah shall bring thee into the land of the Canaanite, as he sware unto thee and to thy fathers, and shall give it thee, that thou shalt set apart unto Jehovah all that openeth the womb, and every firstling which thou hast that cometh of a beast; the males shall be Jehovah’s. And every firstling of an ass thou shalt redeem with a lamb; and if thou wilt not redeem it, then thou shalt break its neck: and all the first-born of man among thy sons shalt thou redeem.
This is what I came to realize about Passover – the purpose of the first Passover was redemption and protection from the judgement of death to be poured out on the Egyptians and anyone who did not follow the instruction to put the blood on their doorway. The memorial of Passover forever after that is the remembrance of the redemption and protection in Egypt and the redemption and protection to come through Yeshua Messiah.
In the passage below notice how Yehovah took all of the first-born males in Egypt, human and animal, but when He saw the protective blood of the Passover lamb covering the doorways of the houses of the Israelites, He did not allow the Death Angel to enter. This symbolizes the blood shed by Yeshua, the Door, for our redemption and protection from eternal death.
For I will go through the land of Egypt in that night, and will smite all the first-born in the land of Egypt, both man and beast; and against all the gods of Egypt I will execute judgments: I am Jehovah. And the blood shall be to you for a token upon the houses where ye are: and when I see the blood, I will pass over you, and there shall no plague be upon you to destroy you, when I smite the land of Egypt. And this day shall be unto you for a memorial, and ye shall keep it a feast to Jehovah: throughout your generations ye shall keep it a feast by an ordinance for ever.Exodus 12:1-7, 12-14, 21-24 & 29 ASV
Then Moses called for all the elders of Israel, and said unto them, Draw out, and take you lambs according to your families, and kill the passover. And ye shall take a bunch of hyssop, and dip it in the blood that is in the basin, and strike the lintel and the two side-posts with the blood that is in the basin; and none of you shall go out of the door of his house until the morning. For Jehovah will pass through to smite the Egyptians; and when he seeth the blood upon the lintel, and on the two side-posts, Jehovah will pass over the door, and will not suffer the destroyer to come in unto your houses to smite you. And ye shall observe this thing for an ordinance to thee and to thy sons for ever.
And it came to pass at midnight, that Jehovah smote all the first-born in the land of Egypt, from the first-born of Pharaoh that sat on his throne unto the first-born of the captive that was in the dungeon; and all the first-born of cattle.
Lamb Selection Day
The day Christians celebrate the triumphal entry of Yeshua into Jerusalem, Palm Sunday, was actually the tenth day of the first month (Abib or Nisan), the day the Passover lambs were selected.
Speak ye unto all the congregation of Israel, saying, In the tenth day of this month they shall take to them every man a lamb, according to their fathers’ houses, a lamb for a household: and if the household be too little for a lamb, then shall he and his neighbor next unto his house take one according to the number of the souls; according to every man’s eating ye shall make your count for the lamb. Your lamb shall be without blemish, a male a year old: ye shall take it from the sheep, or from the goats: and ye shall keep it until the fourteenth day of the same month; and the whole assembly of the congregation of Israel shall kill it at even. And they shall take of the blood, and put it on the two side-posts and on the lintel, upon the houses wherein they shall eat it.Exodus 12:3-7 ASV
As he was riding in as the peaceful king on a donkey colt, the lambs were being brought in for the people to select their Passover lambs. As the people were shouting hosanna – save us – they were unknowingly selecting their Lamb, the Lamb of God to redeem them from eternal death, and the Lamb that takes away the sins of the world.
Atonement for Sin
On the Day of Atonement, the sixth Feast of Yehovah on the tenth day of the seventh month (Tishrei), a year-old goat was offered as the sin sacrifice. The Day of Atonement was for national or community forgiveness of sin for all Israel unlike the redemption sacrifices and the sacrifices for unintentional sin offered throughout the year for individuals. There was a second goat on the Day of Atonement, the scapegoat that was released into the wilderness.
And Aaron shall present the bullock of the sin-offering, which is for himself, and make atonement for himself, and for his house. And he shall take the two goats, and set them before Jehovah at the door of the tent of meeting. And Aaron shall cast lots upon the two goats; one lot for Jehovah, and the other lot for Azazel (some translations say scapegoat). And Aaron shall present the goat upon which the lot fell for Jehovah, and offer him for a sin-offering. But the goat, on which the lot fell for Azazel, shall be set alive before Jehovah, to make atonement for him, to send him away for Azazel into the wilderness.Leviticus 16:6-10 ASV
At Passover the people (the Chief Priests, Pharisees, Sadducees and those hostile to Yeshua) demanded that Yeshua the son of Father God be crucified (sacrificed). They also demanded that Barabbas the murderer and rebel be released.
And Pilate called together the chief priests and the rulers and the people, and said unto them, Ye brought unto me this man, as one that perverteth the people: and behold, I, having examined him before you, found no fault in this man touching those things whereof ye accuse him: 15 no, nor yet Herod: for he sent him back unto us; and behold, nothing worthy of death hath been done by him. 16 I will therefore chastise him, and release him. But they cried out all together, saying, Away with this man, and release unto us Barabbas:— one who for a certain insurrection made in the city, and for murder, was cast into prison. And Pilate spake unto them again, desiring to release Jesus; but they shouted, saying, Crucify, crucify him. And he said unto them the third time, Why, what evil hath this man done? I have found no cause of death in him: I will therefore chastise him and release him. But they were urgent with loud voices, asking that he might be crucified. And their voices prevailed. And Pilate gave sentence that what they asked for should be done. And he released him that for insurrection and murder had been cast into prison, whom they asked for; but Jesus he delivered up to their will.Luke 23:13-25 ASV
It is interesting and perhaps significant based on the passage above from Leviticus 16 that Barabbas is the one released. The name Barabbas is the transliteration for bar Abba which is Aramaic for son of a father. Yeshua was turned over to be crucified (for the sins of the world) and He is the Son of God the Father.
Yeshua – The Lamb of God
Yeshua’s sacrifice on that Passover nearly 2000 years ago was twofold: redemption and forgiveness of the sins of the world – the people of Israel and the nations.
I know what you are probably thinking, Passover and Day of Atonement are two different feast days. That is true, that is how we have been instructed by Yehovah to memorialize and rehearse them. But many things in the Bible are not always sequential, nor are they linear. The Heavenly Father does things in cycles. So, there may still be a very significant event that happens in the future on the Day of Atonement. But think about this – Yeshua can only die once! He died on Passover for our redemption and for the forgiveness of our sins.
This Passover season, choose Yeshua as your Redeemer and the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world (redemption and forgiveness are not just for Israel).
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