Yesterday, we said that the exodus teaches us important spiritual lessons. The first was that Israel was also guilty before God.
Now there are reasons why the people might have been tempted to think differently. For example, even in the account of the plagues, from the fourth to the ninth plague, we are told that God made a distinction between His people who lived in the land of Goshen and the Egyptians in the rest of the land. This is why when the plagues came upon the Egyptians, it didn’t touch the Israelites. The Hebrews might have concluded that they were not harmed because they were special of themselves and that God would not do anything to judge them.
They might have also been proud of their ancestry. They might have said that they were not pagans like these Egyptians here. They can trace their line back to Abraham, who was called of God. Somewhere in Egypt that night there was a young man whose name was Joshua. He’s the one who later became Moses’ right hand man. And when Moses did not go on into the land, he became Moses’ successor. He was the general that actually governed the armies during the years of the conquest. It was about fifty years later after this event, at the very end of his life, that he gave a powerful sermon trying to encourage the people to remain faithful to God. He went back over their history, and he said, “Long ago your forefathers, including Terah the father of Abraham and Nahor, lived beyond the River and worshiped other gods” (Josh. 24:2). It was a very clear way of saying that if they looked far enough back in their ancestry, they’d find that they had been idol worshipers, too. There was nothing to set them apart because of their so-called spiritual ancestry.
Others might have said, “Yes, but once God called Abraham and we found out who the true God was, we worshiped Him then.” But the reality is that they hadn’t! They hadn’t continued faithfully in the worship of that God, but had worshiped other gods. As a matter of fact, some Israelites participated in the worship of the Egyptian gods. We know that because not long after the exodus, when they were at Sinai, they made this little calf, a replica of Apis the bull god. They bowed down before the cow and said that it had brought Israel out of Egypt (Ex. 32:8).
There wasn’t anything special about the Israelites, and we must say that there’s nothing special about us, either. We’re sinners like everybody else. If we are going to be saved, it’s going to be by God’s grace and His grace alone. Arthur Pink has a good comment on this. He writes,
The more clearly we perceive the spiritual wretchedness of Israel at this time, the more shall we recognize the absolute sovereignty of that grace which redeemed them. So, too, the more fully we are acquainted with the teaching of Scripture concerning the utter corruption and total depravity of the natural man, the more shall we be made to marvel at the infinite mercy of God toward such worthless creatures, and the more highly shall we value that wondrous love that wrought salvation for us.1
The second spiritual lesson is undoubtedly the most important thing of all, which is that without the shedding of blood there is no salvation. You see, the details of the Passover were meant to teach that. The lamb had to die. The blood had to be shed and put upon the doorpost of the house. In Leviticus 17:11, it’s spelled out explicitly: “For the life of a creature is in the blood, and I have given it to you to make atonement for yourselves on the altar; it is the blood that makes atonement for one’s life.” We have it also in the New Testament: “…without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness” (Heb. 9:22). People don’t like this idea of the shedding of blood today. I have had people say to me, “That’s just barbaric, we don’t want anything like that today. I just can’t possibly believe in a religion like that.” However, without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness, no deliverance from sin.
All of this points to Jesus Christ. You have to remember that although we have these verses that say that without the shedding of blood on the altar there is no forgiveness of sins, nevertheless, the Bible also says that the blood of sheep and goats can’t take away sin. What that really means is that these things are a picture, a type, they’re looking forward to the coming of Jesus Christ. And therefore we are not surprised that when Jesus Christ appeared, those who came by the grace of God to understand the meaning of His death and resurrection were brought to the realization what this Old Testament terminology was about (see 1 Cor. 5:7; 1 Pet. 1:18- 19).
Perhaps the most significant words of all were those that were spoken by John the Baptist. John was sent as the forerunner of Christ, the one to identify Him when He came. And so when Jesus came to him on one occasion, John pointed Him out and he said in the hearing of his disciples, “Behold the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world” (John 1:29).
Back in the garden of Eden, when Adam and Eve sinned, God took animals and killed them in order that they might be clothed with the skins of the animals. It was the concept of substitution, in this case the death of an animal for an individual. Adam and Eve would have understood that death was the penalty for sin. They also got an intimation of imputed righteousness because it was with the skins of the animals that they were clothed. All of that pointed forward to Jesus Christ.
Here at the Passover it goes a step further. Now you have the death of an animal for the family. The lamb is taken and killed, and the whole family is protected by the blood of the animal that’s been sacrificed. A little later on, when the Israelites get to Sinai, God tells them what’s to happen on the Day of Atonement. On this day an animal is killed by the high priest on behalf of the sins of the nation. And then, at the end of this progression, you have John the Baptist pointing to Jesus and saying, “Behold the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world.” One animal for one individual, one animal for one family, one animal for one nation—and one lamb, the Lamb of God, for the world. Thank God it’s so, because most of us are not a member of the Jewish nation. Because Jesus is the Savior of the world, you and I can have salvation.
1Arthur W. Pink, Gleanings in Exodus (Lafayette, IN: Sovereign Grace Publishers, 2002, repr.), 80.