BIBLE STUDY SERIES #98, 99 and 100

3 October, 1993

PASSOVER - PART II

By Douglas C. Nesbit, B.A.

In this series of Bible Studies, we have followed the Biblical account of God's Great Plan whereby He is preparing to lead His people, Israel, out of Egyptian bondage. Upon gaining their freedom, it will be Israel's task to form the nucleus of the Kingdom of God upon the earth, eventually to function under the Kingship and administration of Our Lord Jesus Christ.

We of the British-Israel-World Federation believe that the generally Anglo-Celto-Saxon and kindred peoples of the world today are literal descendants of those same Israelites and I believe that they are presently in the process of passing through a parallel pattern of Exodus events out of economic, political and religious bondage. Thus we are fulfilling a prophecy of which the Exodus of ancient time was a type.

On our last programme, we began to examine the record found in Exodus 12, in which Moses gave the children of Israel the instructions of Almighty God for their preparation to leave Egypt. The Passover was being explained, and we had begun to see that prophetic experience as one which looked forward to Jesus Christ. We had reached Exodus 12:7 at which the blood of the sacrificial lambs was to be placed upon the door posts and lintels of every Israelite home in Egypt, marking them that the destroyer might pass over their dwellings, leaving them undisturbed as the firstborn throughout Egypt were being killed. We pick up our account at verse eight.

8. And they shall eat the flesh in that night, roast with fire, and unleavened bread; and with bitter herbs they shall eat it.
9. Eat not of it raw, nor sodden at all with water, but roast with fire; his head with his legs, and with the purtenance thereof.
10. 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.

Keil and Delitzsch comment, regarding the lamb, that this was to be eaten on the night following the 14th of the month. Preparation was to involve no separation of the pieces of the lamb. It was to be roasted in one piece, having nothing cut off, and no bone broken. They explain that the roasting would probably have needed to be done on a spit. The reason offered by Keil and Delitzsch is "that it might be placed upon the table undivided and essentially unchanged." The commentary continues by stating "Through the unity and integrity of the lamb given them to eat, the participants were to be joined into an undivided unity and fellowship with the Lord, who had provided them with the meal."

In a footnote, the commentary continues "There was no other reason for this than that all who took part in this one whole animal, i.e. all who ate of it, should look upon themselves as one whole, one community, like those who eat the New Testament Passover, the body of Christ (I Cor. v.7.), of whom the apostle says (I Cor. x. 17), `There is one bread, and so we, being many, are one body: for we are all partakers of one body.' The preservation of Christ, so that not a bone was broken, had the same signification; and God ordained this that He might appear as the true paschal lamb, that was slain for the sins of the world."

After mentioning the assortment of herbs which might have been included, and the unleavened bread, the commentary continues "for leaven, which sets the dough in fermentation, and so produces impurity, was a natural symbol of moral corruption, and was excluded from the sacrifices therefore as defiling..." The bitter herbs, it is explained, were to act as a reminder of the bitterness of life experienced by Israel in Egypt, and this bitterness was to be overpowered by the sweet flesh of the lamb.

The New Bible Commentary says "The explanation of the detailed requirements in verses 7-10 can appear only as we see in them a type of Christ. By the blood alone is there deliverance from destruction; the lamb is roast with fire to symbolise the fire of God's wrath which the Saviour endured; those who feed on Him must put away the leaven of malice and wickedness (I Cor. v.8.), and eat with the bitter herbs of repentance; the whole is to be consumed: if it is physically impossible to do so by eating, then by fire, since the offering of Christ is whole and He is to be wholly received."

11. 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.
12. 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.
13. And the blood shall be to you for a token upon the houses where ye 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.

Long, loose robes must be gathered up or they would hinder activity of the sort which the people were about to undertake at a moment's notice, and, according to Keil and Delitzsch, sandals were to be worn "that they might be ready to walk on hard, rough roads, instead of bare-footed, as they generally went". With reference to the words "all the gods of Egypt" the New Bible Commentary explains that "Every Egyptian god was represented by some beast and would be powerless to protect its own representative." That explains the significance of inclusion of the deaths of the firstborn of each of the animals. There now follow those instructions which explain the manner in which this meal is to be taken.

14. 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 for ever.
15. Seven days shall ye eat unleavened bread; even the first day ye shall put away leaven out of your houses: for whosoever eateth leavened bread from the first day until the seventh day, that soul shall be cut off from Israel.
16. And in the first day there shall be an holy convocation, and in the seventh day there shall be an holy convocation to you; no manner of work shall be done in them, save that which every man must eat, that only may be done of you.
17. And ye shall observe the feast of unleavened bread; for in this selfsame day have I brought your armies out of the land of Egypt: therefore shall ye observe this day in your generations by an ordinance for ever.
18. In the first month, on the fourteenth day of the month at even, ye shall eat unleavened bread, until the one and twentieth day of the month at even.
19. Seven days shall there be no leaven found in your houses: for whosoever eateth that which is leavened, even that soul shall be cut off from the congregation of Israel, whether he be a stranger, or born in the land.
20. Ye shall eat nothing leavened; in all your habitations shall ye eat unleavened bread.

The injunction here given concerns an observance which is to be held nationally by all Israel throughout all generations. The New Bible Commentary suggests the continuance would be "In the same way that the ordinance of the Lord's Supper is a memorial and is observed for `ever until He come'." It might have been in part due to the subsequent non-observance of this feast of unleavened bread in succeeding generations that the Northern Tribes of Israel were made vulnerable to deportation by the Assyrians in a later century thus completing the "cutting off" of such tribesmen "from the congregation of Israel", as this injunction commands. After the deportations, Israel would be considered as a divorced wife, and while a spiritually revived continuance may be seen in The Lord's Supper, the full return to national observance, in that renewed spirit, may await the marriage supper of the Lamb with the Israel bride, as prophesied in Revelation 21.

Though the following passage may appear over-long, it is the Scriptural review of what we have learned. Let us allow the mighty measured meter of God's majestic holy word to stir us as we, in our imagination, thrill to hear the aged Prophet Moses repeat the divine injunction to the assembled leaders of the whole nation of Israel.

21. Then Moses called for all the elders of Israel, and said unto them, Draw out and take you a lamb according to your families, and kill the passover.
22. And ye shall take a bunch of hyssop, and dip it in the blood that is in the bason, and strike the lintel and the two side posts with the blood that is in the bason; and none of you shall go out at the door of his house until the morning.
23. For the LORD will pass through to smite the Egyptians; and when he seeth the blood upon the lintel, and on the two side posts, the LORD will pass over the door, and will not suffer the destroyer to come in unto your houses to smite you.
24. And ye shall observe this thing for an ordinance to thee and to thy sons for ever.
25. And it shall come to pass, when ye be come to the land which the LORD will give you, according as he hath promised, that ye shall keep this service.
26. And it shall come to pass, when your children shall say unto you, What mean ye by this service?
27. That ye shall say, It is the sacrifice of the LORD'S passover, who passed over the houses of the children of Israel in Egypt, when he smote the Egyptians, and delivered our houses. And the people bowed the head and worshipped.
28. And the children of Israel went away, and did as the LORD had commanded Moses and Aaron, so did they.

We shall consider the place of this memorial among the feasts of The LORD, and the subsequent plague upon Egypt on our next programme.

10 October, 1993

THE TENTH PLAGUE: TWO FIRSTBORNS

By Douglas C. Nesbit, B.A.

Thus far, our present series of Bible Studies has examined the Genesis and Exodus story from the Call of Abram down to the days of Israel's extraction from Egyptian bondage in that great historic event known as "The Exodus."

Because it appeared in the Scriptural record at this point, we have, on our last two programmes, inserted a study concerning the initiation of that great prophetic event known as The Passover, which, I believe, participates as a major theme in each of three notable times of Exodus.

In saying this, I am including the events of Our Lord's own "exodos" on the Cross, and also the probability of our own equivalent experience as a nation of God's people, the Anglo-Celto-Saxon and kindred folk, about to make a group Exodus from their present experiences of economic, governmental and religious bondage in the spiritual Egypt of our own time.

Before moving to the main topic of today's talk, the twelfth of Almighty God's thirteen signs and wonders in Egypt, I should conclude our study of the Passover by explaining briefly how this feast day relates as one part of a pattern of annual days of special commemoration which were instituted by Almighty God for national observance by His people, Israel. These special days form a means of marking signal events as the nation moves through history under God's direction and also of bringing the national attention year by year back to the mighty truths of His relationship with His people.

In order to set the Passover in persepctive, it is useful to consult a recognized reference on the matter. The annual procession of events is outlined in the New Bible Dictionary, under the item "Calendar". The lunar months of the Hebrew year are listed in a table, starting with the month called Abib, later called Nisan, which equates approximately to our month of March or April.

Each year, the first New Moon after the passage of the Vernal Equinox, (the date when the Sun's rays shine vertically at the Equator on or about March 21st), is followed shortly by the first sighting of a crescent Moon from Jerusalem. This sighting marks the first day of the Hebrew New Year, the first day of Abib.

The following events are listed in that month of Abib. Passover is marked on the 14th (Exodus 12:18), The Feast of Unleavened Bread on 15th-21st (Leviticus 23:6), and Firstfruits on the 16th (Leviticus 23:10 f.).

In the second month, Ziw, later called Iyyar, a later Passover is mentioned in Numbers 9:10-11 for those who are unable to observe the first Passover in the previous month.

In Leviticus 23, we find details concerning the feast days instituted by The Almighty. Fifty days after the Passover sequence, Pentecost is observed, and the first day of the seventh month, the Feast of Trumpets, is often termed the start of the Civil Year. In sequence, there follow the Day of Atonement on the 10th of the month, the Feast of Tabernacles from the 15th to the 21st, and the Last Great Day, or Solemn Assembly on the 22nd.

Thus it is a curious fact that, aside from Pentecost, a vaguely similar pattern appears in the sequencing of the notable feast days beginning what is known as the "Sacred Year" and, six months later, the beginning of what is known as the "Civil Year." In each case, the first of the month is followed by events designated to occur on the 10th, the 14th or 15th, and the 21st or 22nd, with intervals of approximately 9 days, 5 days and 7 days between them.

The Sacred year marks day 1 by observation of the first appearance of the Moon, followed on the 10th day by selection of lambs the 14th day slaying thereof and the seven further days of Unleavened Bread (which includes the wave sheaf of firstfruits). The Civil Year, six months later, starts at the Feast of Trumpets, followed on the 10th day by the Day of Atonement, and Tabernacles from the 15th to the 21st, with the Solemn Assembly on the 22nd. While this may be of interest, we must defer further discussion of that aspect of scripture to a more convenient occasion and return to the main theme of the Exodus as our remaining time today is somewhat limited.

The title of today's talk was chosen to mark the distinction which Almight God drew between two groups of people called "firstborn." One group was the nation of Israel. Back in Exodus 4:22-23, God spoke to Moses, saying: "And thou shalt say unto Pharaoh, Thus saith the LORD, Israel is my son, even my firstborn: And I say unto thee, Let my son go, that he may serve me: and if thou refuse to let him go, behold, I will slay thy son, even thy firstborn." So we find that God here designates two firstborns, and contrasts their position. One was the firstborn of Pharaoh, (and, by extension, the firstborn of the Egyptian nation in general), the other was the people of Israel, here designated as firstborn to the King of kings.

Pharaoh had not heeded God's message. He had not let God's firstborn, the people of Israel, go. Indeed the male children had been ordered thrown into the Nile, where they would be eaten by crocodiles if somehow they chanced to survive death by drowning.

With those verses in mind, let us read, with comments, the passage contained in Exodus 12:29-35:

29. And it came to pass, that at midnight the LORD smote all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, from the firstborn of Pharaoh that sat on his throne unto the firstborn of the captive that was in the dungeon; and all the firstborn of cattle.
30. And Pharaoh rose up in the night, he, and all his servants, and all the Egyptians; and there was a great cry in Egypt; for there was not a house where there was not one dead.

I ought to emphasize that Almighty God makes no idle threats at any time. His words must at all times be taken with the utmost seriousness. Pharaoh spurned those words of The Almighty which Moses had conveyed to him time after time, and the result was thus made inevitable.

The inclusion of the firstborn of cattle in that 29th verse, might appear somewhat odd to the modern mind. However, we ought to remember that the Egyptians incorporated animal forms in creating their idols to portray in those idols the characteristics of many of their gods. To kill the firstborn of cattle was, at least in part, to symbolise that the Egyptian pantheon was dead.

31. And he called for Moses and Aaron by night, and said, Rise up, and get you forth from among my people, both ye and the children of Israel; and go, serve the LORD, as ye have said.
32. Also take your flocks and your herds, as ye have said, and be gone; and bless me also.
33. And the Egyptians were urgent upon the people, that they might send them out of the land in haste; for they said, We be all dead men.

The time may well be at hand wherein the modern descendants of ancient Israel, (found today, as we understand, in the Anglo-Celto-Saxon and kindred peoples) will experience a similar heated dismissal, signifying release from their situation under economic, governmental and religious oppression so that they may in future keep the laws of The Almighty God of their fathers.

34. And the people took their dough before it was leavened, their kneadingtroughs being bound up in their clothes upon their shoulders.
35. And the children of Israel did according to the word of Moses; and they borrowed of the Egyptians jewels of silver, and jewels of gold, and raiment:
36. And the LORD gave the people favour in the sight of the Egyptians, so that they lent unto them such things as they required. And they spoiled the Egyptians.

The Israelites had packed everything for their journey, although from their point of view, this activity was done in faith, for they could not know certainly what Pharaoh would order, although they might have realised from their apparent success in obtaining their long-overdue wages, owed for those many years of bondage, that God was about to do something quite remarkable, and something, moreover, which they were, of themselves, powerless to perform.

In the time remaining, let us enter on the next line on our chart the details concerning this twelfth sign, usually noted as the tenth plague. The time of year is Passover. The Biblical Reference will be Exodus 11:4-10, and 12:29-36. A warning had been given as seen in Exodus 11:4-8, in Pharaoh's palace.

As we scan the Egyptian pantheon, we now focus upon the goddess Nekhebet. From "Egyptian Mythology", by Paul Hamlyn, Limited, we learn that this goddess was the protectress of childbirth, and "was, from earliest time the protective goddess of Upper Egypt... In war and offertory scenes she often appears hovering over the pharaoh's head in the form of a vulture, holding in her claws the fly whisk and the seal. She is also sometimes portrayed as a divinity with the bald head of a vulture, or as a woman wearing the white crown of Upper Egypt either on her head or on a head-dress shaped like a vulture. As a mother-goddess Nekhebet suckled the royal children; often we see her suckling the pharaoh himself."

Could a more appropriate deity than this Vulture-goddess, supposedly the protectress of the royal children of Egypt, have been chosen to demonstrate the total dominance of Yahweh the Mighty God of Israel? In fact, we might consider a scene portraying impending death to be incomplete without a couple of vultures perching overhead!

Pharaoh and his government had killed Israelite male babies, so the punishment was fitting retribution in a national sense.

The response to the deaths of their firstborn, on the part of Pharaoh and of the priests and people of Egypt was to urge Israel to depart. The most appropriate Israelite Tribal Symbol, corresponding to the deaths of the Egyptian firstborn, must be that of the Tribe of Reuben, the firstborn son of Jacob whose banner displayed a man.

As a further touch of symbolism, we might add that Reuben's secondary emblem, from his instability in "going up to his father's couch" (Genesis 49:3-4) was waves of the sea, and this immediately draws to mind God's preparation for what follows in our account of the passage of Israel out of Egypt. We shall continue our studies on our next programme.

17 October, 1993

OUT OF EGYPT

By Douglas C. Nesbit, B.A.

In our present series of Bible Studies, we are following the account found in Genesis and Exodus which reveals the course of events by which Almighty God was developing His answer to the condition of mankind, and was preparing their eventual emergence into the Kingdom of God upon the earth.

We have almost come to the final scene in the sequence of those mighty signs and wonders by which Yahweh, the Mighty God of Israel has demonstrated His total dominance over the Egyptian pantheon and the might of Pharaoh. We have watched as Pharaonic Egypt held the children of Israel to the tasks of making mud bricks without straw in order to build Pharaoh's treasure cities much as their latter-day descendants, the generally Anglo-Celto-Saxon and kindred peoples today, as we believe, have been held by economic bondage to a fradulent financial system which permitted no deviance into the financial system ordered by Our God.

We have seen how, during the weeks, months, years, and even generations of this bondage, God was all the while preparing their Exodus, yet the children of Israel knew nothing but the heavy sweat, the curses and the lash of the Egyptian task-masters, and the deaths of their children. While they only knew their own plight, we can, in retrospect, see that all which transpired was also forming a prophetic picture which was intended to inform ourselves of our own condition, and our eventual progress to its subsequent outcome.

Just as ancient Israel laboured, so have we done in our own time. Just as they, under the guiding hand and mighty signs and wonders of their God emerged into a totally new experience of freedom to serve the God of Abraham, of Isaac, of Jacob and of Sinai, so must we, in the present day, emerge into an equivalent experience of God's presence and direction under the further guidance of Our Saviour, The Lord Jesus Christ, Redeemer and coming King of kings.

On our last programme, we saw how with the last of ten plagues upon Egypt, that of the deaths of their firstborn, the Egyptians not only released Israel to wander afield into the wilderness, but indeed, while ordering them out of the land, supplied them with great wealth both of gold and silver, and of garments and all their needs for their journey. Let us take up the story by reading the next passage in our scriptures, that beginning at Exodus 12:37 with appropriate insertions by way of comment as we go.

37. And the children of Israel journeyed from Rameses to Succoth, about six hundred thousand on foot that were men, beside children.
38. And a mixed multitude went up also with them; and flocks, and herds, even very much cattle.

We might mention that there seems to be a curiously appropriate point in the fact that the name of the city from which they left Egypt was Rameses, of which the meaning is "son of the sun", while the place to which the Israelites moved on this first journey of departure was called "Succoth", which means "booths", according to Young's Concordance. Booths, or tents were to be their dwellings for many years to come as they journeyed about the wilderness.

The "mixed multitude" which accompanied the Israelites must have swollen their number considerably, and added to Moses' concerns, for the numbers of Israelites alone, if accurately assessed, appear to indicate that probably a total, including women and children, of more than some one to two million people were involved in this departure. A movement of that size would involve no little tribal organization, and indeed, the Israelites are later spoken of as having emerged "by their armies" (Exodus 12:51)!

Further, the Egyptians were, by this time, probably relieved to have the cause of their troubles evacuated from the land, and it occurs to me that perhaps they even took advantage of the occasion to urge other potentially dissident foreign fragments and factions of the populace to accompany the Israelites out of their society. Did some of them, perhaps, even open a few prison doors to dump the dregs of society upon the Tribes of Israel as they moved away, I wonder? Certainly, the mixed multitude was soon to become a factious element among the Israelites in the days ahead. Let us pick up the account again at verse 39.

39. And they baked unleavened cakes of the dough which they brought forth out of Egypt, for it was not leavened; because they were thrust out of Egypt, and could not tarry, neither had they prepared for themselves any victual.
40. Now the sojourning of the children of Israel, who dwelt in Egypt, was four hundred and thirty years.
41. And it came to pass at the end of the four hundred and thirty years, even the selfsame day it came to pass, that all the hosts of the LORD went out from the land of Egypt.

We might note that Almighty God had so prepared the marvellous events of the Exodus that even the very day when they were to begin their journey from bondage to liberty was observed in His planning. His promise to Abram in Genesis 15:13-14 mentions a span of 400 years. Genesis 15:13-14 says:

13. And he said unto Abram, Know of a surety that thy seed shall be a stranger in a land that is not their's, and shall serve them; and they shall afflict them four hundred years;
14. And also that nation, whom they shall serve, will I judge: and afterward shall they come out with great substance.

This is consistent with an accounting which begins with the birth of Isaac, as we may establish by a study of Acts 7:5-6, Galatians 3:17 and the explanation in The Companion Bible note to Exodus 12:40. The 430 years of Exodus 12:40 was initiated at the time when that covenant promise was actually given to Abram. Certainly, for those 400 years from the birth of Isaac, the first of Abram's "seed" (Genesis 21:12) to which God's promises applied, the descendants had at first been strangers in Canaan which was in Egypt's "sphere of influence", (and even an Egyptian province as The Companion Bible note on Genesis 10:6 mentions this to be apparent in the Tel el-Amarna tablets). Israel had continued as foreigners or strangers in Goshen, part of the Nile delta of Egypt itself; again, a land that was not theirs. Later they had served the Egyptians as cattle herdsmen (Genesis 47:6), and still later, they were afflicted by the Pharaoh that knew not Joseph.

Now, Egypt had been judged by God, and Israel had received great wealth at the time of their departure. Thus all the many conditions in God's promise had been fulfilled. It is little wonder, then, that the Exodus 12 record continues at verse 42 in the words:

42. It is a night to be much observed unto the LORD for bringing them out from the land of Egypt: this is that night of the LORD to be observed of all the children of Israel in their generations. 43. And the LORD said unto Moses and Aaron, This is the ordinance of the passover: There shall no stranger eat thereof: 44. But every man's servant that is bought for money, when thou hast circumcised him, then shall he eat thereof. 45. A foreigner and an hired servant shall not eat thereof. 46. In one house shall it be eaten; thou shalt not carry forth ought of the flesh abroad out of the house; neither shall ye break a bone thereof. 47. All the congregation of Israel shall keep it.
48. And when a stranger shall sojourn with thee, and will keep the passover to the LORD, let all his males be circumcised, and then let him come near and keep it; and he shall be as one that is born in the land: for no uncircumcised person shall eat thereof.
49. One law shall be to him that is homeborn, and unto the stranger that sojourneth among you.
50. Thus did all the children of Israel; as the LORD commanded Moses and Aaron, so did they.
51. And it came to pass the selfsame day, that the LORD did bring the children of Israel out of the land of Egypt by their armies.

A parallel account, taken from the non-biblical Book of Jasher covers several pages. In it, we may glean various additional statements of interest. For example we find the statement that Moses hastened to bring up the coffin of Joseph at the time of departure. Also we read that Israel's years of hard labour alone had occupied 210 years. It tells us that the Egyptians were occupied in burial of their dead for the three days following the deaths of all their firstborn, and not until afterwards did the Egyptians reconsider their hasty urgency in expelling Israel from the land. Then, according to the Book of Jasher, some went to find the Israelites and protested that as five days had now passed, their three day allowance for service to their God had expired.

The demands of the Egyptians that Israel return were rejected, and a large party of Egyptians were thereupon repulsed. The essence of the Jasher account is to the effect that the huge Egyptian army thereupon was called out to bring the Israelites to heel and followed them to the Red Sea in order to accomplish this.

The outcome of this further approach we shall have to leave for our next programme. However, let us take two thoughts from today's study. One is that we, as the descendants of those Israelites and inheritors of the further promises of Almighty God may be heartened by the total and exact fulfilment of His Own mighty promises to Abram's seed. God does not lie, and He is never late or half-hearted in the fulfilment of His word. The second is that God's will is the ultimate total freedom of His people to serve Him, unhindered by any opposition, no matter how strong it seems, and when the time has expired, He will surely bring it to pass by the strength of His own mighty arm. Let us reside our assurance upon that certainty.

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