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 lamb.
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 evening.
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
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 particular sin.
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
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...