Bulletin Article for August 27, 2023
What is a “paradigm”? A paradigm is an example of something. It can also be defined as a model – a specimen – a sample – an exemplification – an illustration.
The Passover event, connected to the exodus of the children of Israel out of Egypt, is one of the most well-known episodes in Biblical history (Exodus 12-14). It also serves as a model for helping us understand something about the death of Jesus Christ. The question we want to ask here is this:
How can understanding the connection between Christ’s death as the Lamb of God and the Passover event, help us in understanding Christ’s death as it relates to God’s wrath?
First, the connection between Christ’s death and Passover is given – the apostle Paul, in discussing the problem of sin’s leavening influence, wrote these inspired words, “Cleanse out the old leaven that you may be a new lump, as you really are unleavened. For Christ, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed” (1Corinthians 5:7). When John the Baptist pointed to Jesus, he said, “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!” Both Paul and John are referring to the Passover as a background for what Jesus would accomplish. He is the perfect Lamb of God, sacrificed for the sins of the world.
Second, we cannot deny that God’s wrath is a reality that is present in the absence of repentance and forgiveness. This is seen several passages:
“For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth.”
“But because of your hard and impenitent heart you are storing up wrath for yourself on the day of wrath when God's righteous judgment will be revealed.” (Romans 2:5)
“…but for those who are self-seeking and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, there will be wrath and fury. There will be tribulation and distress for every human being who does evil, the Jew first and also the Greek.” (Romans 2:8-9)
“Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God.” (Romans 5:9)
Pointing out various sins, Paul wrote, “On account of these the wrath of God is coming.” (Colossians 3:6)
There are many more Scriptures, but these should suffice to remind us that God’s wrath is real and will be felt by those who refuse to repent of their sins and reach out to the saving grace of God through Jesus. We must admit, then, that in some way Christ’s death had to deal with God’s wrath. One way to think about it, among others, is to see this connection to Passover.
We often think of the Passover as God “passing over” the houses of the children of Israel who had slaughtered a lamb and put blood on the doorposts and the lentil of their homes. It’s fairly passive in nature when thought of that way. Without going into detail, however, I am convinced that it is better to think about the idea here (pesach=Passover) as an active protection against death, and was a pushing back at the door, if you will. In other words, as the Lord comes to kill the firstborn, the blood of the sacrificed lamb is used to show a sign of protection, and it was a memorial to remember that the Lord actively provided a push back to the death that would have otherwise promised. Compare Isaiah 31:5 where God said He would protect, deliver, “spare” and rescue Jerusalem. Here he would not just “pass over” Jerusalem but God promised He would actively keep it from the damage that would otherwise come without His protection. In the Passover, God wanted Israel to remember that He had actively protected His people who applied the blood to their house.
That picture of God’s protection and the Passover is significant, for to us today, the blood of Christ serves us in that same way. By being washed in the blood of the perfect, unblemished Lamb of God, we have the protection - the barrier against the wrath of God that would otherwise come our way. God’s wrath is turned back by the blood of the covenant because it serves as our active protection. It is more than just forgiveness; it is the basis for the hope of salvation as a helmet and a breastplate of faith and love, as Paul indicates:
“But since we belong to the day, let us be sober, having put on the breastplate of faith and love, and for a helmet the hope of salvation. For God has not destined us for wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, who died for us so that whether we are awake or asleep we might live with him.” (1Thessalonians 5:8-10)
The Passover paradigm for Christ’s death sees God’s wrath as being turned back so that the firstborn ones—those purchased by the blood of Christ—those in the house of God are actively guarded by the Lord Jesus Himself. This is why Christ died for us. We are justified and saved from the wrath of God because He protects and provides for us through the blood of the Son, the perfect Lamb of God (Romans 5:9).
Like the Thessalonians so long ago, we can turn from idols – the things that cry out to us from the world. We can reject the world and choose to serve the true and living God and “wait for his Son from heaven, whom He raised from the dead, Jesus who delivers us from the wrath to come” (1 Thessalonians 1:9-10).
But we must understand – we have been warned that if we refuse repentance. The Lamb of God, who died for the sins of the world and was raised again, makes God’s deliverance possible for us now. But His blood can only be applied to us if we are willing to follow Him so that we can actively turn back God’s wrath. Praise God for what He does and the hope we have in Him!