The blood of the lamb of God saves us. Jesus’ life was important. He had to be unblemished to serve as our Passover Lamb. But if Jesus had stayed alive, he wouldn’t have helped us anymore than any Passover lambs would’ve helped anyone if they weren’t sacrificed.
Table of contents
- Three Things That Could not Deliver Israel from Egypt
- The Blood of the Lamb Provided Immediate Deliverance
- The Blood of the Lamb’s Importance
Charles Spurgeon said, “Morality may keep you out of jail, but it takes the blood of Jesus Christ to keep you out of hell.” Billy Graham said, “Be assured that there is no sin you have ever committed that the blood of Jesus Christ cannot cleanse.”
Charles Spurgeon and Billy Graham had high views of Jesus’ blood. By the end of this post, you too, will have a high view of Jesus’ blood, and if you already have a high view of it, you will have an even higher view.
Three Things That Could not Deliver Israel from Egypt
I want to begin by sharing three things that could not deliver the Israelites from Egypt. Then, I will share the one thing that did deliver them.
First, Moses Could not Deliver Israel
We say that Moses delivered Israel – and God used him to do that – but if you’re familiar with Moses’s attempts, you know how poorly they went.
Exodus 5:1 Afterward Moses and Aaron went and said to Pharaoh, “Thus says the Lord, the God of Israel, ‘Let my people go, that they may hold a feast to me in the wilderness.’”…6 The same day Pharaoh commanded the taskmasters of the people and their foremen, 7 “You shall no longer give the people straw to make bricks, as in the past; let them go and gather straw for themselves. 8 But the number of bricks that they made in the past you shall impose on them, you shall by no means reduce it, for they are idle. Therefore they cry, ‘Let us go and offer sacrifice to our God.’ 9 Let heavier work be laid on the men that they may labor at it and pay no regard to lying words.”
Not only was Moses unable to deliver Israel, but he actually made their bondage worse. How did the Israelites respond? They weren’t happy with Moses at this point, as you might expect:
Exodus 5:20 They met Moses and Aaron, who were waiting for them, as they came out from Pharaoh; 21 and they said to them, “The Lord look on you and judge, because you have made us stink in the sight of Pharaoh and his servants, and have put a sword in their hand to kill us.”
The people were like, “Some deliverer you are. I hope God punishes you for what you’ve done.”
Second, the First Nine Plagues Could not Deliver Israel
What did the first nine plagues accomplish for the Israelites? Were the Israelites any less slaves after the plagues were unleashed than they were before? Were they in any less bondage? Had their oppression been improved whatsoever?
Even though these were the most dramatic plagues the world has ever known, they didn’t change anything for the Israelites.
Third, the Passover Lamb Could not Deliver Israel
Exodus 12:3 Tell all the congregation of Israel that on the tenth day of this month every man shall take a lamb according to their fathers’ houses, a lamb for a household.
The Israelites got a lamb for Passover on the 10th day of the month of Nisan. We could argue that this is when Passover began. They had their lambs from the 10th day to the 14th day, and at any time during those days, were they delivered? No. So, when exactly was Israel delivered? Or I should say, what exactly delivered Israel?
Exodus 12:6 and you shall keep it until the fourteenth day of this month, when the whole assembly of the congregation of Israel shall kill their lambs at twilight. 7 “Then they shall take some of the blood and put it on the two doorposts and the lintel of the houses in which they eat it.
The word blood introduces one of the themes of the passage. It occurs six times.
The Blood of the Lamb Provided Immediate Deliverance
Exodus 12:13 The blood shall be a sign for you, on the houses where you are. And when I SEE THE BLOOD, I WILL PASS OVER YOU, and no plague will befall you to destroy you, when I strike the land of Egypt.
Exodus 12:23 For the Lord will pass through to strike the Egyptians, and when he SEES THE BLOOD ON THE LINTEL AND ON THE TWO DOORPOSTS, THE LORD WILL PASS OVER the door and will not allow the destroyer to enter your houses to strike you.
Not to sound overly simple, but twice, we are told that God had to SEE the blood. It was not enough to see the lamb itself. When God saw the blood, the Israelites were delivered.
Exodus 12:11 In this manner you shall eat it: with your belt fastened, your sandals on your feet, and your staff in your hand. And you shall eat it in haste. It is the Lord’s Passover.
The deliverance happened so quickly that the Israelites had to eat the lamb standing up, dressed, and ready to go.
Exodus 12:31 Then he (this is Pharaoh) summoned Moses and Aaron by night and said, “Up, go out from among my people, both you and the people of Israel; and go, serve the Lord, as you have said.
Pharaoh summoned Moses and Aaron in the middle of the night to tell them to get the Israelites out of Egypt. He didn’t even wait until morning. That’s a quick deliverance!
Notice the incredible contrast from before the lamb’s blood was shed to after the lamb’s blood is shed. Moses, Aaron, the most dramatic nine plagues in human history, and even the Passover lamb when it was alive, couldn’t deliver the Israelites. The Passover Lamb’s blood is shed, and the Israelites are not only delivered but driven out.
Looking Forward to Christ
Passover is not primarily about Israel’s deliverance from Egypt. That’s what the account is secondarily about. The account is primarily about Christ, and the way he delivers us from the enemies we face that are even greater than Egypt, and those are sin and death. The Passover Lamb is merely a shadow or type. If you read the account and fail to see Christ, you are no better off than people who don’t read the account at all.
Exodus 12:35 The people of Israel had also done as Moses told them, for they had asked the Egyptians for silver and gold jewelry and for clothing. 36 And the Lord had given the people favor in the sight of the Egyptians, so that they let them have what they asked. Thus they plundered the Egyptians.
The Egyptians were so glad to see the Israelites gone; they were even able to take Egypt’s wealth with them on the way out. This also is not primarily about Israel being given riches after they are redeemed by the blood of the lamb. This prefigures or looks forward to the riches we receive when we are redeemed by the blood of the lamb. Please listen to this…
Ephesians 1:7 In him we have REDEMPTION THROUGH HIS BLOOD, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to THE RICHES OF HIS GRACE…18 having the eyes of your hearts enlightened, that you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are THE RICHES OF HIS GLORIOUS INHERITANCE IN THE SAINTS.
You can see how the same happens to us, not physically, but spiritually.
The Lamb’s Death Is More Important than Its Life
The lamb’s life was important. If the lamb wasn’t spotless or unblemished, it couldn’t serve as the Passover lamb. But no matter how important the lamb’s life was, it couldn’t save anyone. Only its blood could save.
We don’t have a record of this happening, but imagine a family gets a lamb on the 10th day like verse 3 describes. The lamb is without blemish, a male a-year-old, and taken from the sheep or goats like verse 5 describes. If the lamb isn’t slaughtered, it doesn’t save anyone.
Jesus’ life was important. He had to be spotless or unblemished, a male, a-year-old – which is to say in the prime of his life –to serve as our Passover Lamb. But if his blood wasn’t shed, he couldn’t save anyone. If Jesus had stayed alive, he wouldn’t have helped anyone any more than any Passover lambs would’ve helped anyone if they hadn’t been sacrificed.
I’m thankful for Jesus’ life. I’m thankful for his teaching. I’m thankful for his example. But more than all that, I’m thankful for his death. I’m thankful he was willing to shed his blood for me.
If you understand the importance of Jesus’ blood, you understand why it is so unfortunate when people say things like, “I love the way Jesus lived. He was such a great miracle worker. I am so blessed when I read the accounts of him healing those people. He helped so many. And what about all those wonderful things he taught? We could spend days just talking about his different parables.”
But if people stop there – there’s no mention of the cross – they are coming up short. It isn’t Jesus’ teaching, miracles, or even life that paid for our sins. It was his blood. That’s what redeemed us from sin and death.
The Blood of the Lamb’s Importance
Take your mind to what we commonly call the Last Supper, when Jesus celebrated Passover and then went out to become our Passover Lamb:
Matthew 26:27 [Jesus] took a cup, and when he had given thanks he gave it to them, saying, “Drink of it, all of you, 28 for this is MY BLOOD OF THE COVENANT, which is poured out for many FOR THE FORGIVENESS OF SINS.
We have Jesus telling us that his blood did two crucial things: instituted the new covenant and forgave our sins. This is why, even though Jesus’ life was so wonderful, throughout the rest of the New Testament, there is such a strong emphasis on his blood:
- Romans 3:25 God put forward [Jesus] as a propitiation BY HIS BLOOD.
- Romans 5:9 We have been justified BY HIS BLOOD.
- Ephesians 1:7 We have redemption THROUGH HIS BLOOD, the forgiveness of our trespasses.
- Colossians 1:20 Making peace BY THE BLOOD of his cross.
- 1 John 1:7 THE BLOOD OF JESUS…cleanses us from all sin.
- Revelation 1:5 [Jesus] loves us and has freed us from our sins BY HIS BLOOD.
- 1 Peter 1:18 [We] were ransomed…not with perishable things such as silver or gold, 19 but with THE PRECIOUS BLOOD OF CHRIST, like that of a lamb without blemish or spot.
The last verse really spells it out for us and draws the connection to Jesus being our unblemished Passover lamb.
1 Corinthians 2:2 I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified.
I have heard this verse misinterpreted by people who don’t want to put forth the time or energy to learn theology. They act like, “If Paul decided not to know anything except Jesus and him crucified, then I don’t need to know anything except Jesus and him crucified.” But that’s not what this verse is about. Paul didn’t write this to create a bunch of lazy Christians with poor theology.
He was writing the Corinthians. If you are familiar with the letters Paul wrote to them, you know two things:
- Paul taught them lots of theology in his letters.
- They needed the theology he taught them. They were messed up for NOT knowing more theology.
This verse isn’t literal. Paul had one of the greatest theological minds in history, if not the greatest. You can read any of Paul’s letters and see that he knew much more than Jesus and him crucified.
So, why did Paul write this? He was using hyperbole, or exaggeration, for the same reason Jesus did: to drive a point home. Paul wants us to recognize just how important Jesus’ death was, so he acts like it’s the only thing we need to know.
The Blood of the Lamb Protected
Exodus 12:7: “Then they shall take some of the blood and put it on the two doorposts and the lintel of the houses in which they eat it.
This account is unique because throughout the rest of the Old Testament, except for the priests occasionally sprinkling blood, the rest of the time, all that mattered was the animal was sacrificed. But here, they had to put the blood on the door. Why is that? There are a few possibilities.
Exodus 12:23 For the Lord will pass through to strike the Egyptians, and WHEN HE SEES THE BLOOD on the lintel and on the two doorposts, the Lord will pass over the door and WILL NOT ALLOW THE DESTROYER TO ENTER YOUR HOUSES TO STRIKE YOU.
This terrifying language describes the Destroyer entering the home. Because the Destroyer is an angel and is immaterial, he could pass through a wall. But he is described as entering through the door.
Putting the blood over the door made the blood seem like a guardian or defender against the Destroyer entering. If you were one of the Israelites during this first Passover, you would feel like there was only one thing standing between you and the Destroyer, and it was the blood of the lamb. When people walked through the door into their homes, they passed under the blood. This made them feel like they were putting themselves under the protection of the blood when they entered.
The Blood of the Lamb Was not to Be Trampled On
You might also notice the blood went on the top and sides of the doorframe but not on the bottom where people would walk. And I think this looked forward to the way Christ’s blood is to be held in high regard:
Hebrews 10:29 How much worse punishment, do you think, will be deserved by the one who has TRAMPLED UNDERFOOT THE SON OF GOD, and has PROFANED THE BLOOD OF THE COVENANT by which he was sanctified, and has outraged the Spirit of grace?
I think the blood was not supposed to be applied to the bottom of the door so that it wouldn’t be trampled underfoot. Stepping on the blood would profane it, or act like it was common, or unholy…which this verse forbids.
The Blood of the Lamb Must Be Personally Applied
Imagine you had a lamb without blemish, just like you were supposed to have. Imagine you kept that lamb in your house from the tenth day until the fourteenth day, just like you were supposed to do. Imagine you sacrificed the lamb on the fourteenth day, just like it was supposed to be sacrificed. But you chose not to apply the blood to the doorframe.
If the Lord passed over, he wouldn’t say, “I’m glad you have a lamb without blemish, and you kept it five days, and you sacrificed it on the right day, so even though I don’t see the blood over the door, I’ll just move on to the next house.”
The truth is if a family didn’t apply the blood, they wouldn’t be any better off than a family that had no lamb at all. This also looks forward to Jesus’s sacrifice. Jesus is our Passover Lamb who has been sacrificed, and his blood has been shed. But that blood must be applied, or it won’t benefit us, which is to say it isn’t enough to have knowledge of what Jesus has done. We must repent and believe.
When I grew up, I knew Jesus was the Son of God. I knew he lived a perfect life and died on the cross. But I wasn’t saved because Jesus’ sacrifice wasn’t personal to me.
Think of the number of young people who grew up in the church. They have heard the gospel and can communicate it clearly. But they must apply Jesus’ blood.
The Lamb’s Sacrifice Becomes Personal
When we apply the blood of the lamb of God, his substitutionary atonement becomes personal. He died for me. For my sins.
- We can say what David said: Psalm 18:46b Let the God of MY SALVATION be exalted.
- We can say what Isaiah said: Isaiah 61:10 My soul shall be joyful in MY God; For He has clothed ME with the garments of salvation, He has covered ME with the robe of righteousness.
- We can say what Habakkuk said: Habakkuk 3:18 I will rejoice in the Lord, I will [take] joy in the God of MY salvation.
- We can say what Paul said:
- Galatians 1:4 says [Jesus] gave Himself for OUR sins.
- Galatians 2:20 I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved ME and gave Himself for ME.
- We can say what Mary said: Luke 1:47 My spirit has rejoiced in God MY SAVIOR.
- We can say what Thomas said: MY LORD and MY GOD!
When Christ’s blood is applied, his sacrifice becomes personal to us. Suddenly, it is about what he has done, not just for millions throughout history, but for me.
Everyone Needs the Blood of the Lamb
Exodus 8:22 But on that day I will set apart the land of Goshen, where my people dwell, so that no swarms of flies shall be there, that you may know that I am the Lord in the midst of the earth.
This is the fourth plague. Flies everywhere, but no flies affecting the Israelites.
Exodus 9:6 And the next day the Lord did this thing. All the livestock of the Egyptians died, but not one of the livestock of the people of Israel died.
This is the fifth plague. Livestock were killed throughout Egypt, but the Israelites’ livestock were spared.
Exodus 9:26 Only in the land of Goshen, where the people of Israel were, was there no hail.
This is the seventh plague. Terrible hail destroyed Egypt, but none of it affected the Israelites.
Exodus 10:23 They did not see one another, nor did anyone rise from his place for three days, but all the people of Israel had light where they lived.
This is the 9th plague. Again, darkness was everywhere, and nobody could see, but the Israelites had light in Goshen. The Israelites are God’s people, so plagues don’t affect them. The Egyptians are beaten up, but the Israelites are safe.
When the 10th and final plague is announced, what would we expect God to say? “I will pass through the land of Egypt and strike all the firstborn of the Egyptians, but I will not pass through the land of Goshen. I will not touch the firstborn of the children of Israel.” Instead:
Exodus 11:4 So Moses said, “Thus says the Lord: ‘About midnight I will go out in the midst of Egypt, 5 and every firstborn in the land of Egypt shall die, from the firstborn of Pharaoh who sits on his throne, even to the FIRSTBORN OF THE SLAVE GIRL who is behind the handmill, and all the firstborn of the cattle.
The slave girls are the Hebrew girls. God said their firstborn sons would die as well. God told the Israelites they better be covered by the blood of the lamb. God even said the firstborn of the cattle would die. That is weird, isn’t it? Cattle can’t even put blood on their door. So why even say this? What’s the point?
God is driving home that everyone needs the blood of the lamb. Nobody escapes. God was unleashing the plagues on the Egyptians to get them to release the Hebrews. But God didn’t need to unleash any plagues on the Hebrews to get them to release anyone. So, why were they affected? God wants to make it clear that everyone who wants to be saved needs to be covered by the blood of the lamb.
For a moment, put yourself in the place of the Israelites after the first nine plagues. How do you think they were feeling? I bet they were feeling invincible. I know I would be. They have been watching the Egyptians get beat up, but nothing happens to them. Then, God showed them that they needed the blood of the Lamb as much as anyone else. Without it, they faced the same punishment as the Egyptians.
And God wants to reveal this to us as well. It doesn’t matter if we are Israelite or Egyptian, Jew or Gentile, slave or free, male or female. It only matters if our sins are covered by the blood of the lamb.
If I make this more personal, I would say, “It doesn’t matter if you grew up in a Christian home or a non-Christian home, you think you’re a good person or you know you’re a bad person, your family is in ministry or your family has never served the Lord, you’re famous or unknown, rich or poor, great or small. You need the blood of the Lamb of God.
God Was Willing to Do What He Wanted to Spare People From Suffering
When you think about God commanding people to offer a Passover lamb, you see that God didn’t want any firstborn sons to die. He commanded people to sacrifice a lamb so their firstborn sons would live. But God the Father was willing to sacrifice his firstborn Son!
What God the Father didn’t want anyone to experience in losing a firstborn son is what he was willing to experience so we could be forgiven!