No discussion of the OT offerings and sacrifices would be complete without an examination of Passover. Appearing only seven times, the Hebrew verb pāsach (H6452) is actually quite ordinary, meaning “to leap, pass over, halt, limp,” and perhaps even “to protect.” In the confrontation between Elijah and the prophets of Baal, for example, the prophets “leaped upon” the altar in their attempt to get their god to respond; this was undoubtedly some kind of ritual dance (1Ki_18:26). Just before this (1Ki_18:21), Elijah had asked the people, “How long halt [i.e., dance or bounce back and forth] ye between [the] two opinions?” of God and Baal. It is also used of Mephibosheth, who at five years old fell and “became lame” (2Sa_4:4).
By far the most significant use of pāsach (and the derivative noun pesach, H6453) appears in Exodus, its first occurrence, in fact. We first read in Exo_12:13; Exo_12:23; Exo_12:27 that when God saw the blood properly placed on the door posts and lintel, He would “pass over” (or “leap over”) that household and the plague of the death of the firstborn would not touch it. One authority suggests that in light of Isa_31:5—“As birds flying, so will the LORD of hosts defend Jerusalem; defending also he will deliver it; and passing over he will preserve it”—pāsach also carries the idea of “to defend or protect.” At that first Passover, therefore, the Lord protectively covered the houses of the Israelites and would not allow the death angel to enter.
The Passover is, indeed, the most vivid, dramatic, and powerful OT foreshadowing of the atonement the Lord Jesus would accomplish on the cross once for all (Heb_10:10). No NT passage, therefore, is clearer than 1Co_5:7-8 : “Purge out therefore the old leaven, that ye may be a new lump, as ye are unleavened. For even Christ our passover is sacrificed for us. Therefore let us keep the feast, not with old leaven, neither with the leaven of malice and wickedness; but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.” This declares not only the reality of the Passover Lamb, but the practical result of His atonement, namely, holiness of life. As the OT Passover clearly separated the godly from the pagans, God’s NT people are saved to be holy (Eph_1:4; 1Pe_1:15-16) and separate from the world (2Co_6:14-18).
Scriptures for Study: What does 1Co_5:9-11 teach about separation?
Another crucial word in the context of the offerings of the OT, of course, is the word sacrifice. The Hebrew is zāḇach (H2076), which means “to slaughter, to kill, to offer, to sacrifice.” While at times it refers to killing an animal simply for food (Deu_12:21; 1Sa_28:24), it is used mainly for the slaughter of animals for sacrifice, either to the true God or even a false one (Jdg_16:23; 2Ch_28:23).
Why was sacrifice required? Because the result of sin is death (Rom_6:23; Jas_1:15), and the only thing that can pay the price of sin is blood—“without shedding of blood is no remission” (Heb_9:22; cf. Lev_4:20). It was, therefore, the Lord Jesus who was the focal point of the entire sacrificial system. Everything pointed to Him, for He would be the perfect “Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world” (Joh_1:29), it was He who would “save his people from their sins” (Mat_1:21). It was, in fact, the OT Passover itself that pointed to “Christ our passover” (1Co_5:7), whose “precious blood” is “as of a lamb without blemish and without spot” (1Pe_1:19).
What has happened to the old system? Heb_8:13 declares, “A new covenant, he hath made the first old. Now that which decayeth and waxeth old is ready to vanish away.” Chapters 9 and 10 detail how the Mosaic system, from symbols to sanctuaries to sacrifices, vanished. In fact, that system began to decay when Israel rejected Christ (Luk_19:37-44) and finally disappeared with the destruction of the temple in AD 70. The Mosaic system was but a “shadow of good things to come” (Heb_10:1, emphasis added), but Jesus is the substance.
Does all that mean there is no kind of sacrifice today? No, but all sacrifice we offer to God is living. No longer is there the dead sacrifice of the Old Covenant, rather the dynamic sacrifice of the New. That’s what Paul meant when he wrote, “Present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God” (Rom_12:1) and what Peter referred to as he wrote to Christian Jews, As “[living] stones, [you] are built up a spiritual house, an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ” (1Pe_2:5). Our entire lives now—all we do and say—are living sacrifices to God.
Scriptures for Study: Read the following verses, noting what kind of “spiritual sacrifice” each emphasizes: Rom_15:16, Eph_5:2, Php_4:10-18, Heb_13:15-16; Rev_8:3.
“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 the plague shall not be upon you to destroy you, when I smite the land of Egypt,” Exodus 12:13.
When it was time for God to deliver the Israelites from bondage in Egypt, He established a way for the people to always memorialize their deliverance by instituting the Lord’s Passover. Each household was to shed the blood of a lamb that was without blemish and paint the blood on the doorposts of the home. Then, the lamb was to be roasted and eaten with unleavened bread and bitter herbs by everyone in the home, as they stood, ready to evacuate Egypt. That night, God preserved the firstborn of every home who had observed the Passover and delivered the Israelites from bondage.
Jesus is the fulfillment of the Passover. He became what the Passover represented, God’s salvation through the shed blood of an innocent Lamb. After Christ was crucified, buried, resurrected and ascended into Heaven, the apostle Paul looked back to what Jesus had done and said, “For even Christ our passover is sacrificed for us” (1 Cor. 5:7). Just as God could not withhold His punishment from a home in Egypt on which the blood of the lamb was not painted, so God cannot pardon a person who has not been cleansed by the blood of Jesus. It is impossible for God to forgive a person’s sins if he has not, in faith, been cleansed by the blood of Jesus (1 John 1:7).
JUST A THOUGHT
Have you been cleansed by the blood of Jesus?