Ellen G. White Writings

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The Youth’s Instructor

May 1, 1873

The Life of Christ—No. 6

By Ellen G. White.

The Passover

Joseph and Mary went up to Jerusalem every year to the feast of the passover, according to the requirements of the Jewish law. Christ's childhood days were ended. He had entered upon the period of youth. Joseph and Mary, as was their custom, prepared to take their long journey to Jerusalem. They took Jesus with them. They went in company with many others who were on their way to Jerusalem to observe this solemn festival.

It is impossible for human minds to understand the meditations of the Son of God as he looked with interest upon the temple for the first time. As he walked its courts, and his eye discerned the work of the ministering priest, the altar with its bleeding victim, the holy incense arising to God, and the mysteries of the holy of holies behind the vail, and comprehended the reality which these ceremonies prefigured, what thoughts were awakened within his breast, we cannot conjecture. Christ himself was the key to unlock all these sacred mysteries which were indefinitely understood by Joseph and Mary. These were all instituted to represent Christ, and were fulfilled in his death.

The passover was a name given to this ceremony in commemoration of the wonderful event of the Hebrews’ leaving Egypt. The night they left Egypt, the destroying angel entered every house and slew from the first-born of the king upon his throne down to the first-born of the lowest slave. In one night, the terror of death was borne by the avenging angel into every house of the Egyptians. No man could comfort another, for every house had in it the dead or the dying. Terror and sorrow were in every household.

The Lord gave special directions to the Hebrews, for each family to slay a lamb and sprinkle the blood upon their door-posts, that when the destroying angel should go forth upon his errand of death, the blood upon the post of the door should be to them a sign that those who were within the house were the worshipers of the true God. The angel of death passed over the houses thus designated. Upon that eventful night the Hebrews were directed to be prepared for their journey. The Lord directed them in regard to their eating the passover lamb. “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.”

The Lord did not send any plague upon Egypt before giving them timely warning. Moses and Aaron, under God's direction, came to the king with their message: “Thus saith the Lord, About midnight will I go out into the midst of Egypt, and all the first-born in the midst of Egypt shall die, from the first-born of Pharaoh that sitteth upon the throne, even unto the first-born of the maid servant that is behind the mill; and all the first-born of beasts. But against any of the children of Israel shall not a dog move his tongue, against man and beast, that ye may know that the Lord doth put a difference between the Egyptians and Israel.” Pharaoh would not yield his stubborn will to the requirement of God. He hardened his heart against the Hebrews and refused them their liberty.

About midnight every Egyptian household was aroused from their sleep by the cry of pain. They feared they were all to die. They remembered when the cry of distress and mourning was heard from the Hebrews because of the inhuman decree of a cruel king to slay all their male infants as soon as they were born. The Egyptians could not see the avenging angel, who entered every house and dealt the death blow, but they knew that it was the Hebrew's God who was causing them to suffer the same distress they had made the Israelites to suffer.

In great alarm, in the middle of the night, Pharaoh sent for Moses and Aaron, and so humbled his proud heart that he bade them go out of Egypt with all the Israelites, and to take their flocks and herds with them. The same proud king who had answered with contempt the first request of Moses to let Israel go, saying, “Who is the Lord, that I should obey his voice to let Israel go? I know not the Lord, neither will I let Israel go,” now urged Moses and Aaron to hasten their departure, and leave him a blessing instead of a curse, that the wrath of God, whom he now feared because of his great power, might not carry the work of death any farther. The Egyptians prayed the Israelites to hasten their departure, for, said they, “We shall be all dead men.”

The Israelites had no preparations to make. According to the directions given them of God, they were all prepared for their journey, ready for the word of command to go forth from Egypt.

While the angel of death was passing through Egypt, each family of the Hebrews was to eat the lamb, that they were commanded to roast whole. This lamb was to be without disease or blemish of any kind. It was to be eaten with unleavened bread, and with bitter herbs. This was to keep in their minds the cruel bondage they had suffered in consequence of their sins in forgetting God, and breaking his commandments. Eating bitter herbs was to remind them that they would reap the fruit of their doings however unwelcome it might be to them. The eating of the bitter herbs was also for the purpose of raising an inquiry in the minds of their children as to the reason of their doing this, and then the parents should relate to them their sufferings in Egypt and the wonderful power of God in their deliverance on that memorable night when they were hurried out of Egypt, by the Egyptians themselves. God commanded his people to be in readiness to leave at a moment's warning, for he knew that Pharaoh would relent as soon as he thought he had no more to fear from the plagues.

The striking of the door-post with the blood of the slain lamb was to represent the blood of Christ to which they were to look forward.

Fifteen hundred years after this night, Jesus, the antitype of the paschal lamb, died upon the cross for the sins of the world. The lamb without blemish represented the spotless Lamb of God, without the taint of sin. As the houses of Israel were to be sprinkled with blood in order for the avenging angel to pass over them, so it will be necessary for us to repent of our sins and avail ourselves of the virtue of the blood of Christ to guard us from the avenging angel of God in the day of slaughter. Through Christ alone is our pardon to be obtained. His blood will protect us from a sin-avenging God.

While the institution of the passover was pointing backward to the miraculous deliverance of the Hebrews, it likewise pointed forward, showing the death of the Son of God before it transpired. In the last passover our Lord observed with his disciples, he instituted the Lord's supper in place of the passover, to be observed in memory of his death. No longer had they need of the passover, for he, the great antitypical Lamb, was ready to be sacrificed for the sins of the world. Type met antitype in the death of Christ.

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