As I was reading through the weekly Torah reading for this week (Exodus 10-16), something jumped out at me. In Exodus 12, the Lord instructs Israel concerning the Passover lamb.
The animals you choose must be year-old males without defect, and you may take them from the sheep or the goats. Take care of them until the fourteenth day of the month, when all the people of the community of Israel must slaughter them at twilight. (Exodus 12:5-6)
During Passover, a lamb would be slaughtered and each household would eat the entire lamb. For those of us who are meat eaters this is not a big deal. But in the beginning of verse six I noticed something that I have not before: take care of [the lamb] until the fourteenth day…Of course the fourteenth day was the Passover and the lamb would be killed, cooked and eaten and the Israelites would “take some of the blood and put it on the sides and tops of the doorframes” which served as protection from the angel of death.
Up until that day, the day that this lamb would spill His blood, they were to take care of him. The children would know this one-year-old lamb. Maybe they would have named it. I can see little Hebrew children playing with this lamb that abba (daddy) had brought into the home. It is possible that they even began to treat it like a loved pet. And then, on the fourteenth day, Abba would slaughter this new family member. Why does the Lord command each household to take care of this lamb and then slaughter it? It does seem kind of cruel. Only after the family falls in the love with this little fellow is he slaughtered.
I was reminded of a story that I read on Memories After My Death, maybe the best book written about one’s father. Tommy Lapid growing up in the former Yugoslavia tells of when his father received payment for services in the form of baby lamb. For them this was food, but for young Tommy, who would go on to survive an almost certain death in the Holocaust, and become one of Israel’s most prolific voices—from journalism to politics—this was his new playmate. After some time Tommy figured out halfway through a evening meal, why he could not find his pet lamb. He looked at the lamb in a different way—he was a friend. And Yet Yeshua said, “There is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” (John 15:13) Tommy valued the blood of his precious friend, as he ran from the table, while his parents were more concerned with dinner.
Could it be that God wanted them to value the blood. He didn’t want this lamb to be like other lambs. This lamb would be part of the family. This lamb would have captured their affection. This lamb would have worth beyond the worth of the meat. The lamb would have sentimental and emotional value. His death would cost them something!
God wanted them to see the blood as precious. In the same way, we are to understand that God paid a heavy price in securing our salvation—the death of His Son, the Lamb of God.
For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your forefathers, but with the precious blood of Messiah, a lamb without blemish or defect. (1 Peter 1:18-19)
What do those of us here on earth value more than silver and gold? Without it we can’t pay our bills or feed our families—we can’t survive without it! And yet God refers to something as valuable as silver and gold as “perishable things” when compared to the precious blood of the Lamb. How could this be? Silver and gold are important on earth, but they cannot redeem your soul. Only the blood of the Lamb has eternal value.
There is nothing so great as the blood of Yeshua. Only through His blood can we obtain forgiveness of sin and eternal life. His blood protects from the demonic assaults. Silver and gold and even a trillion dollar bailout can’t even come close!
The Lord wanted ancient Israel to understand that the blood cost something—that a member of the family would die in order for them to saved. In the same way, a member of God’s household had to spill his blood, our elder brother Yeshua, in order for us to be free from the bondage of sin. One day, more than a thousand years later, John the Prophet would look to his cousin Yeshua and say, “Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.” (John 1:29)