How Was the Passover a Sign of the Covenant?

How Was the Passover a Sign of the Covenant?

The unfolding of the history of redemption reveals how the Passover was a sign of God’s gracious covenant, in which He would provide the greater exodus from sin, Satan, and death by the sacrificial death of Christ. Believers confidently confess that “Christ, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed” (1 Corinthians 5:7).

Of all the Old Testament images that foreshadow Jesus, the Passover lamb was perhaps the clearest in foreshadowing Jesus’ saving work at Calvary. According to God’s own appointment, God promised to remove His judgment from His people when He saw the substitutionary blood of a spotless lamb painted on the doorposts of the Israelites’ homes in Egypt. The Passover was a sign of God’s covenant with His people in the Old Testament, indicating the way in which He would one day satisfy His wrath through the sacrifice of Christ.

After sin entered the world, Scripture immediately tells us that Abel gave an animal sacrifice to offer acceptable worship to the Lord (Gen. 4:4). The infinitely holy God only accepts as righteous those who come to Him by faith in the promised Redeemer, who would Himself be the atoning sacrifice for sin (Heb. 11:4). The blood of the substitutionary sacrifice is an essential element of Christian doctrine and practice. As the writer of Hebrews explains, “Without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sins” (Heb. 9:22). The blood of the God-appointed sacrifice typified the substitution of one party for another in the execution of God’s judgment. If “the wages of sin is death,” then only a substitutionary death can deliver a sinner from the righteous judgment of God (Rom. 6:23). This principle was signified clearly in the details surrounding the institution of the Passover lamb. Like its bloody counterpart, circumcision, the Passover lamb was an old covenant sacrament—a sign and seal of God’s gracious dealing with His people through atonement.

The Passover served as a sign of God’s covenant promise of redemption in Christ. The Lord gave instructions about the Passover at the time of the exodus that pointed to various aspects of the redemption that He would provide in Christ (Ex. 12; 1 Cor. 5:7). The Passover was instituted at the time of the tenth plague, the death of the firstborn. The Lord had graciously distinguished between Israel and Egypt with the first nine plagues. However, there was no distinction in this tenth and most terrible plague. If the Israelites did not follow the Lord’s instructions regarding the Passover, they would be subject to the same judgment as the Egyptians. This indicated that Israel, no less than Egypt, deserved God’s wrath and judgment because of their sin.

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