Day 34: The Passover Instituted

Exodus 12:1-28 God initiated the Passover feast as a means of protecting the Israelites against the tenth plague, which would liberate them from the Egyptians, and he instructed the Israelites to celebrate the Passover annually as a memorial of their deliverance from Egypt. With the imminent departure of the Israelites from Egypt, the meal recalled the urgency of its preparation; there was no time to season the food or wait for the effects of leaven in their bread, and they were to consume the meal dressed as though they were about to undertake a journey. Other elements, such as the bitter herbs, were to remind them of the bitterness of their slavery and their poverty. Verses 1-8 and 11-14 are read in the liturgy on Holy Thursday. (CCC 1081, 1164, 1363-1364)

Ch 12:3-14 The unblemished lamb, slain and consumed in the Passover meal, is a type (TYPOLOGY!!) of Christ, the Lamb who was crucified so we could PASS OVER from sin and death into new life. The “cup of blessing” added later to the Passover celebration, anticipated the Blood by Christ shed on the Cross, and the unleavened bread and the cup of blessing prefigure the Eucharist (TYPOLOGY!!). This relationship is emphasized in the Agnus Dei within the Communion Rite:

“Lamb of God, you take away the sins of the world,

Have mercy on us…Grant us peace.”

(CCC 128-130, 608)

Ch 12:15-20 The celebration of Passover begins the weeklong Feast of the Unleavened Bread in which no leaven can be used or stored in the home. In the Latin Rite and some Eastern Rites of the Catholic Church, the bread used for the Eucharist is UNLEAVENED. (CCC 1334)

Leviticus 9:24 God himself brought down fire to burn the offering upon the altar. This would be borne out when Elijah called down fire from heaven to consume the holocaust (cf. 1 Kgs 18:15-40). (CCC 696, 2583)

Psalm 114 Water as an image of salvation permeates this psalm. It recalls how the water of the Red Sea receded to allow Moses and the Israelites to make their escape out of Egypt; these same waters came rushing back to drown the pursuing chariots of the Egyptian army. After forty years of wandering, it was the Jordan River that receded to allow the people of Israel to pass into the Promised Land. Between those singular events was the incident at MERIBAH, when on God’s command Moses struck the rock from which water gushed out, refreshing the thirsty people. Water is the symbol of Christian Baptism, by which we are reborn into the life of Christ as children of God with ALL SIN WASHED AWAY.

(*The Didache Bible RSV-CE Ignatius Edition, 2006)

Key Event 18: Exodus and the First Passover (Exodus 12:1-14:31)

God instructs the Israelites to slaughter an unblemished lamb and smear its blood on the doorposts and lintels, and they are to eat the lamb along with unleavened bread and bitter herbs. Because they do so, the angel of death “PASSES OVER” the homes of the Israelites, slaying only the firstborn of the Egyptians. This final plague sets in motion Israel’s deliverance out of Egypt.

  • With the plagues, God punishes Egypt little by little, so that mercy will allow time for repentance.

  • But instead of repenting, Pharaoh hardens his heart, choosing to exalt himself rather than humble himself before Yahweh (Ex 9:17; 10:3).

  • With this choice, Pharaoh brings upon himself and his nation the suffering of the final plague.

  • As God had warned, if Pharaoh did not let God’s firstborn son go to serve him, Pharaoh himself would suffer the death of his own firstborn son.

  • While the first three plagues affected “all the land,” Egypt and Israel alike, God “set apart the land of Goshen,” and only the Egyptians suffered the fourth through the ninth plagues.

  • But with the tenth plague, the Israelites, like the Egyptians, are again at risk.

  • Israel’s only escape from the judgment on the first-born sons is to follow God’s prescriptions in Exodus 12: THEY MUST CELEBRATE THE PASSOVER.

  • On the tenth day of the month, the Israelites are to take a one-year-old lamb without blemish.

  • Then, on the fourteenth day, they are to slay the lamb, roast it, and eat it (lamb is delicious, especially when it is served with mint chutney).

  • It is worth asking, “Why the four-day wait to sacrifice the lambs?”

  • A hint can be found in the strange event recorded in Exodus 4.

  • God, having just sent Moses to liberate Israel, “visits” Moses and tries to kill him.

  • The word used to describe God “visiting” Moses is also the word used for God visiting Egypt with plagues.

  • Moses is spared only when his wife, Zipporah, circumcises their son Gershom, and puts some of the blood upon Moses.

  • Given that the Egyptian culture did not circumcise their males until they were thirteen years old, it seems likely that Moses, and many of his fellow Israelites, had fallen away from observing circumcision on the eighth day according to God’s command to Abraham. (Many of us wondered why this happened and now we know. So the lesson is, be patient because things will have a way of being explained)

  • Now on the eve of the exodus, God commands Moses that those who were to celebrate the Passover must be circumcised (Ex 12:48), an act that some Jewish rabbis said took three to four days for healing—thus, the four-day wait between selecting the lamb and celebrating the Passover.

  • Two accounts of circumcision and blood bracket the story of the plagues

  • Just as the circumcision of Moses’ son and the sign of blood save Moses from God’s visit, so the Passover circumcision of the Israelites and the blood of the Passover lamb will be signs that lead to God’s sparing the firstborn of all Israel.

  • Having sacrificed and roasted the lamb, the Israelites are to eat it at night, standing up, with their sandals on, ready to go.

  • Then they are to spread the blood of the lamb on the doorpost of their houses.

  • If they do not complete this ceremony—sacrificing, consuming, marking with blood—exactly as Moses directs, then their firstborn son will die, just like the firstborn sons of Egypt.

  • The Lamb of God: (What does “typological'' mean? It means a doctrine of theological types, especially one holding that things in Christian belief are prefigured or symbolized by things in the Old Testament.)

  • CCC 1094: By reading the Old Testament in the Spirit of Truth, it is possible to see “the newness of Christ on the basis of the ‘figures’ (types) which announce him in the deeds, words, and symbols of the first covenant”.

  • With this “TYPOLOGICAL” reading, we have already seen the first Adam foreshadow Christ

  • The New Adam (Noah), and the floodwaters foreshadow baptism.

  • Here, in the Exodus, the Passover and the Passover lamb foreshadow Jesus Christ, the true, unblemished Lamb of God, whose sacrifice takes away our sin and shields us from the angel of death.

  • After agreeing to baptize Jesus, John the Baptist also pointed him out as the “LAMB OF GOD, WHO TAKES AWAY THE SINS OF THE WORLD” (Jn 1:29, 36; see also CCC 608).

  • St. Paul explicitly calls Christ “OUR PASSOVER LAMB”

  • John the Evangelist makes clear that the crucifixion happened at the same hour the Passover lambs were being slaughtered in the Temple (Jn 19:14) and notes that Jesus’ BONES WERE NOT BROKEN (Jn 19:36; see Ex 12:46).

  • With this typological reading, we can also see that the Exodus images of the water from the rock (spoiler alert!) will be a figure of the spiritual gifts of Christ

  • Manna in the desert will prefigure the Eucharist, “the true bread from heaven” (Jn 6:32; see also 1 Cor 10:1-6)

  • In each of the earlier nine plagues, God himself had brought judgment upon the false gods of Egypt while Israel had watched in silent amazement.

  • Now with the tenth plague, the people of Israel themselves are required to take an active role and make a public declaration against the false gods of Egypt.

  • The Egyptian polytheistic religion included the worship of lambs, sheep, and goats

  • Thus, sacrificing a lamb was DEICIDE and a capital crime resulting in DEATH in Egypt.

  • To save their firstborn sons, the Israelites would have to publicly denounce Egyptian idolatry (killing the lamb by their own hand and smearing the blood on the doorposts for all Egypt to see), an act of RENUNCIATION for the sake of LIBERATION.

  • The Israelites are forced to choose whether they will serve (avad) the false gods of Egypt or worship (avad) the God of their fathers.

  • With this sacrifice, God forces Israel to burn its bridges with Egypt

  • There could be no going back now.

(*Walking With God: A Journey Through the Bible by Tim Gray and Jeff Cavins)

  • Here is the death of the first born in the entire land of Egypt

  • From Pharaoh’s son on the throne down to the firstborn of the captives in the dungeons

  • Remember, we read Scripture AS A WHOLE

  • This, in so many ways, IS JUSTICE

  • At the beginning of Exodus, what did Pharaoh do to all the males born of the Israelites?

  • HE HAD THEM THROWN INTO THE NILE (to drown or be eaten by friggin crocodiles)

  • The Lord WARNED Pharaoh that this was what would happen unless he let the Israelites go



  • The people of Egypt had 100% opportunity TO REPENT

  • But they didn’t and they got their just desserts

  • God has proven his Justice many times over to us

  • Remember Sodom and Gomorrah? God said if there were even 10 righteous people found there, He would not destroy the city (How many did Lot find?)

  • Here is the participation of all the people of Egypt in the slavery, oppression, and the MURDER of the children of the Israelites

  • We recognize that the lamb is a “TYPE” of Jesus Himself (Remember what I said about TYPOLOGY?)

  • Go back up a page and read the red type about what St. Paul said, what St. John the Baptist said, and what St. John the Evangelist said!!!

  • What is happening?

  • The lamb is brought into the home for a week

  • Essentially, the lamb enters the house on a Sunday (Palm Sunday)

  • The lamb dwells in the home of the people of Israel

  • Why?

  • Not all the people of Israel at this point would have been circumcised so this was an opportunity for the men of Israel to be BROUGHT INTO THE COVENANT VIA CIRCUMCISION.

  • They needed 3-4 days to recover.

  • By the end of the week, when they are healed, they are able to get on their way and escape from Egypt.

  • Unless you are brought into the covenant through circumcision, you actually CANNOT, you MAY NOT, you MUST NOT partake of the sacrificial lamb


  • St. Justin Martyr wrote the first description we have of the Catholic Mass around the year 140-150 A.D.

  • Not all can partake of the Eucharist

  • Not all can partake of Jesus, the Lamb of God

  • Only those who are of our number

  • Only those who have been brought into the Covenant via Baptism

  • Only those who are of the number that profess what we profess

  • While Jesus Christ is the savior of the world, unless someone is BROUGHT INTO COMMUNION WITH THE CHURCH, they MAY NOT PARTAKE IN THE EUCHARIST

  • This is not just a Church Rule

  • This is not Catholics thinking that we are better than other denominations of Christianity

  • This goes all the way back to the TYPOLOGY OF THE EUCHARIST

  • Unless you are brought into the covenant and the family of the people of God YOU MAY NOT PARTICIPATE IN THE SACRIFICIAL MEAL

  • Here is an unblemished lamb brought into your house

  • You must take care of it

  • It mustn’t get hurt or damaged in any way

  • The lamb has value on its own, but it lives with you for a week and becomes PRECIOUS to you

  • When you sacrifice this precious lamb, it is a sign of that trust, that gift that actually MEANS SOMETHING

  • Something here is true when it comes to Catholics in the participation of The Mass

  • Is Jesus precious to us?

  • When we have the preparation of the altar, do we put down the things that are precious to us?

  • Do we just kind of approach the Lord saying, “Yeah ok He has value in and of Himself, but there is no value in our own hearts.”

  • Think about that for a second……

  • The Israelites mark their doorposts and lintels with the blood of the lamb

  • Why?

  • When the Angel of Death comes by he will see the blood and PASS OVER the houses

  • Because of the fact that lambs in Egypt were considered sacred and Egyptians worshiped them

  • The Israelites have now sacrificed a sacred animal as part of worshipping God

  • They didn’t just do it privately

  • They had their houses marked with the blood of lambs, which would have been sacrilegious and punishable by death in Egypt

  • They are burning their bridges with Egypt

  • Egyptian houses were built of brick made out of mud and straw and didn’t last long

  • The doorposts and lintels were MADE OUT OF STONE

  • The Egyptians believed that what kept the person living, even after death, WAS THEIR NAME

  • So the Egyptians would inscribe their NAMES on the STONES OF THE DOORPOSTS AND LINTELS

  • So the Israelites would have also inscribed their names on the doorposts and lintels because they had been in Egypt for over 400 years and adopted Egyptian customs and religion

  • NOW, the Israelites will end up COVERING UP THEIR NAMES on the doorposts and lintels with THE BLOOD OF THE LAMB

  • What does that mean?

  • As Christians, here we are not just MARKED by the Lord, but we are COVERED BY THE LORD

  • We are TRANSFORMED BY THE LORD in His sacrifice on the Cross

  • The TYPOLOGY of this is seen in Exodus 12, when the people of Israel COVER THEIR OWN NAMES WITH THE BLOOD OF THE LAMB

  • Eating the flesh of the lamb and being marked by its blood give the Israelites FREEDOM AND LIFE

  • This EXACT SAME THING happens to us when we receive the Eucharist

  • We eat the flesh and drink the blood of the LAMB OF GOD and it gives us FREEDOM and it gives us LIFE (HOLY COW I JUST GOT CHILLS TYPING THIS)

  • Think about all this now when you go to Mass from now on………..

Prayer by Fr Mike: "Father in Heaven, we give you thanks and praise. We thank you so much for your Word. We thank you for what you reveal to us about our lives in your covenant with the people of Israel. They are your chosen people. You are faithful to your covenant always. You have fulfilled your covenant, the covenant that you sealed with the Passover lamb, you fulfilled that in the NEW AND ETERNAL COVENANT with the blood of the TRUE LAMB OF GOD who takes away the sins of the world, your son Jesus Christ. That new and eternal covenant, the covenant of The Eucharist, the covenant that is established in the Mass, that we are brought into and that renews our reception into your family. Lord God, help us to always always see your working in our lives and to always approach the Eucharist worthily, to always approach the Mass with hearts that are open and with hearts that have been made new by your Grace. We make this prayer in Jesus Christ, Our Lord. Amen."