Passover and the Blood Covenant
Pesach (Passover) is here once again – a joyous time of remembrance and celebration, reflecting on God’s faithfulness to His people through the centuries. In our reading of scriptures surrounding the Passover, we can see that the establishing of a powerful blood covenant goes back to the foundation of God’s dealings with His people Israel.
In the book of Exodus, we read the story of God’s mighty deliverance of the people of Israel from Egypt, set in the context of the Passover lamb whose blood was placed upon the doorposts of each Israelite family’s home.
Instructed by God, Moses and Aaron appeared repeatedly before Pharaoh in Egypt, confronting him with God’s command to “Let My people go!” God was not demanding the release of His people simply so that they could be free of the oppression, as terrible as it was. God’s ultimate goal was that His people would be able to carry out again what He had created them to do, which was to worship and serve Him freely and fully: “Let my people go, so that they may worship Me in the wilderness” (Exodus 7:16, NIV).
Pharaoh’s hard-heartedness toward the God of Israel resulted in the many plagues that covered the land of Egypt, including the turning of the Nile River into blood – a foreshadowing of the power of the blood covenant that God was making with His people. Plague after plague, God’s might triumphed over the deified forces of nature that were worshipped by the Egyptians.
Finally God said that the angel of death would pass through the land and take the life of the firstborn of all the Egyptian families. As part of the Passover celebration, God commanded the families of Israel to each take some of the lamb’s blood from the Passover meal and to spread the blood on the sides and tops of the doorframes of their houses.
In that context, Exodus 12:13 says: “The blood will be a sign for you on the houses where you are, and when I see the blood, I will pass over you. No destructive plague will touch you when I strike Egypt.”
It is difficult to overstate what a significant moment this was for the people of Israel. For four hundred years they had been in slavery under the iron fist of the superpower of the world – and yet God’s plan of deliverance was not to assemble a military clad with weapons but to assemble families marked by the blood of the Passover lamb.
“When I see the blood, I will pass over you…”
Forever with each and every Passover, the people of Israel have looked back at this moment in Exodus and have seen the miracle that God provided through the lamb that was sacrificed, just as He had provided the ram for Abraham’s sacrifice a few hundred years earlier on Mount Moriah. There could be no question throughout their generations that it was God Himself who had rescued them, through the power of His blood covenant with His people.
We might ask, why did God require the people to put the blood on their doorposts? Didn’t God already know who the Israelites were and which of the homes in the land of Egypt belonged to them?
But God commanded through Moses and Aaron that the people should apply the blood to their homes as an act of faith and trust in God’s covenant with them. He wanted them to proclaim their belief that they belonged to the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, the God of covenant – and that it was because of the blood that He would hear their prayers and pass over them.
Today, as in the days of the book of Exodus – is there blood on the doorposts of your life? Through trial and difficulty, is each one of us placing His blood over our lives as an act of our faith and trust in Him?
As you celebrate Pesach this year, remember the ancient covenant of God with His people Israel. It is a covenant that still speaks today – for those who have ears ready to hear and receive the message that it brings.