It is in the process of freeing the Israelites for their return to Canaan that instructions are
given... to cook a Passover Lamb.
Exodus 12:3 -- "Speak 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 the house of their fathers, a lamb for a house. And if the household be too little
for the lamb, let him and his neighbor next unto his house take it according to the
number of the souls; every man according to his eating shall make your count for the
Your lamb shall be without blemish, a male of the first year: ye shall take it out from
the sheep, or from the goats: And ye shall keep it up until the fourteenth day of the
same month: and the whole assembly of the congregation of Israel shall kill it in the
And they shall take of the blood, and strike it on the two side posts and on the upper
door post of the houses, wherein they shall eat it. And they shall eat the flesh in that
night, roast with fire and unleavened bread; and with bitter herbs they shall eat it.
Eat it not raw, nor sodden at all with water, but roast with fire; his head with his legs,
and with the purtenance thereof. And ye shall let nothing of it remain until the morning;
and that which remaineth of it until the morning ye shall burn with fire.
And thus shall ye eat it; with your loins girded, your shoes on your feet, and your
staff in your hand; and ye shall eat it in haste: it is the Lord's passover. For I will pass
through the land of Egypt this night, and will smite all the firstborn in the land of
Egypt, both man and beast; and against all the gods of Egypt I will execute judgment:
I am the Lord.
And the blood shall be to you for a token upon the houses where you 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.
And this day shall be unto you for a memorial; and ye shall keep it a feast to the
Lord throughout your generations; ye shall keep it a feast by an ordinance forever."
This feast... was indeed a strange one. A male lamb was to be cooked whole... with its
head intact... with its feet intact... with its innerds and skin intact. And the entirety
of it was to be eaten. Nothing was to be left uneaten of it. If there was too much for one
household, it was to be shared. And the blood of the lambs... was to be painted on
the posts of the houses of Israel.
This is all strange. Was God going to be so angry that he needed the houses marked
with blood so that he would know to pass over them in his zeal to judge Egypt?
It would almost seem...
that when the Egyptian people saw this strange religion being practiced... with blood
on their houses and all... they would wish that the Pharaoh had let them go into the
desert like they had been asking to do... to worship their God.
In fact... such a thing might be enough to cause the Israelites to be expelled as if
they were a plague of alien people that the Egyptians did not want in their country.
And... if the word had gotten out... that the firstborn of Egypt would be killed by
this strange god with this strange religion... the Israelites would have been
banished in a split second. The fear of such violence would have been great... this bloody
people that they seemed to be.
But... that's not exactly how the story is told.
But... this Passover Lamb... is again... not instructions about how to worship God...
or how to pray to God... or how to thank God... or how to beg forgiveness.
This was not directions about how to sacrifice animals to God.
This was a feast... eating an animal whole... as a memorial of their leaving Egypt.
It is when Moses is on Mt. Sinai...
that we will read the instructions for the sacrifice of animals.
Moses has gone to the mountain for the fifth time. He has received
the agreement of the tribes of Israelites to follow the laws of God. They have agreed to
make a covenant with God. In return, God will make them priests among the nations.
But... Moses is delayed. After some time has passed, Aaron leads a rebellion among
the people. They decide to return to Egypt, where it wasn't so bad compared to the
hardships they had had to endure in the desert. In order to return to Egypt, they needed
to make a sign of peace to the Egyptians. They would make a golden calf. Aaron
collected jewelry from the people to be formed into this golden idol they would make.
Simultaneously... Moses was receiving instructions for the formation
of a religion for the Israelites. The instructions included the lavish apparel of the priest,
and the duties of the priest. And the priest... would be Aaron... Aaron... and the
priesthood would pass on to his sons. NO ONE but Aaron and his line... would
serve as priests to the Israelites.
And so... we have the beginning of blood sacrifices by direct order of God.
At the same time... we have the beginning of a list of sins...
a list that would grow over time...
a list that would specify in detail the particular animal that was to be sacrificed for each
Little sins... big sins... and medium sins...
so that there seems to almost be a direct correlation between the rings and bracelets of gold...
given to Aaron to make the golden calf... and the jots and tittles of law by which the
Israelites would soon come to live by.
That the Israelites had broken the covenant that they had just made with God... was
no secret up there on Mt. Sinai. When Moses returned... he burned the golden calf
and turned it into dust... and made the Israelites eat it.
But... Aaron had been designated by God as priest... and priest he would be... priest
over a broken covenant with God. The Israelites would become weighed down
by the powers of the priesthood. They would be oppressed on all sides by laws upon laws,
and sin offerings upon sin offerings.
And... the more sins there were...
the more money the priesthood would make.
Slavery is what they had decided that they wanted...
and slavery is what they got.
But... they would return to Canaan to fulfill the promise...
the word of God... that had been made to Abraham.
It is this old covenant that Jesus set out to end.
The stories of Jesus tell how he preached forgiveness... one for the other.
He spoke of freedom... and against the priests...
and against the Pharisees and scribes.
He had set out to destroy the temple... where these sacrifices took place.
This resulted in his being condemned to death.
The Pharisees, after all, were steeped in the law...
in every minute particulate of law...
and they even invented more law.
As the inheritors of Ezra's rebuilding of the Israelite nation...
the law was the Israelite nation.
The Sanhedrin would protect and defend that nation...
and defend... those ritual animal sacrifices.
It can be conjectured...
that the doctrines of "blood sacrifice" with the intent of pleasing God...
have been given as a gauge for our disbelief.
It is only when we see that...
God is abhorred by the needless killing of animals.
He is abhorred by the killing of any human being...
especially an innocent human being...
It is only when we see this...
that we will know that we have begun to understand God Himself.
But... people had become so attached to their religious rituals...
that they could not see...
they could not see their own God.
The God whom they called "love" and "mercy"...
"beauty" and "truth"...
"absolute royalty of nature"...
could not be a God who desired the blood of innocents...
that... would be another god altogether...