Door Posts of the Pentateuch
D. J. Williams, Penygraig
Not infrequently does the Spirit of God take a quite ordinary every day feature or human object and associate it with teaching of supreme importance for the believer. In the books of Moses (The Pentateuch) we are taught some very important truths from a number of 'Door Posts'. We shall look at three instances in their chronological order, observing too the beautifully suggestive moral order.
First, a general view of what we shall be considering:
1. The Door Post of Salvation. Here we are clearly taught that it is the shed blood of the Lamb that saves and gives Life, Exod. 12.
2. The Door Post of Service. Here we are to render obedient service to the Master expressed out of Love, Exod. 21.
3. The Door Post of Submission. Emphasizing the point that the authority of the word of God governs and regulates every area of life. Divine truth imparts Light, Deut. 6. 9.
1. The Door Post of Salvation, Exod. 12
The key verse is verse 7; 'they shall take the blood and strike it on the two side posts and on the upper door post of the houses'. This whole chapter is all about God's marvellous plan and provision of salvation for those who are called 'the first born1, a truly vivid picture of all who do not know the Saviour. Consider:
(A) THE CONDITION OF THE FIRSTBORN. It is vital, for any appreciation of what God has done, to grasp and understand why He did it. Look first at the helpless condition and the desperate need of the firstborn. It is stated clearly in verses 12-13; he was under the sentence of death. All were condemned to die, not one was excluded from the divine sentence. If any among the Israelites had failed to comply with the divine word then 'the plague' would be upon them also, v. 13; see Heb. 11. 28.
In the consideration of God's glorious provision of salvation, this is where we rightly begin. Heaven's verdict was clear, we were all 'guilty Rom. 3. 19; and 'condemned already, John 3. 18. We were not on probation, the divine sentence had been passed. We stood before God worthy of death and we were sinners ready to die.
The divine sentence was impartial. There were no distinctions. Ail classes were included, high and low, rich and poor, man and beast alike, cf. 11. 5.
It was comprehensive, there were no exceptions. The divine word was 'ALL the firstborn.' The house of the sovereign was treated in the same way as the house of the subject. No merciful exceptions were made then, and certainly none will be made in the day of final judgement.
All this is a fitting picture of what we once were without Christ. Sadly, so many of us have forgotten it, see Psa. 106. 21.
Whilst this is a very dark and sad picture of the sinner, it is not a hopeless one. There is a remedy, there is an answer, expressed in the words of the apostle 'BUT . . . God who is rich in mercy1, Eph. 2. 4.
(B) THE PROVISION FOR THE FIRSTBORN. God has never left man in his dark, ruined state without providing for him. Here in Israel's history we see again the rich provision of mercy. If the condemned firstborn is to live then God ALONE must accomplish his salvation. Now call this what you will, 'God's plan of salvation' or 'God's scheme' or 'God's provision', it matters not, we come to the same conclusion: God stepped in to save. How did He do it? Notice:
Verse 3, 'they shall take to them ... A LAMB'. None but God could have thought of such a simple, yet profound way of salvation. It originated in His own mind, He planned it and saw it through to its final and glorious accomplishment. Now to the spiritual mind there is only ONE LAMB, described by the Baptist as 'the lamb of God', John 1. 29. The lamb of Exodus 12, is without doubt a type of Christ; cf. 1 Cor. 5. 7. What a glorious Lamb He is. In the New Testament the word 'lamb' is seldom used of the Lord Jesus outside the book of the Revelation. It seems that the Spirit of God has reserved the word, with all its importance and meaning, for that book which portrays Christ as 'the Lamb' in all His splendour and glory in the final drama of the purposes of God.
It has often been observed that the lamb of Exodus 12, is mentioned in three ways: A lamb, v. 3, THE lamb, v. 4, YOUR lamb, v. 5, and there is very precious truth in these expressions for the believer. We must notice that in verses 5-6 God demanded three things of the lamb. It must be: (a) 'without blemish'; (b) kept for four days, i.e. from the 10th to the 14th day; (c) 'killed', it must be slain.
As we consider these points, let us again observe how they relate to Christ, 'the Lamb of God'.
(a) your lamb shall be without blemish'. The thought in the Hebrew word is of completeness or perfection. That is, the lamb selected from the flock, was to be the very best they could provide. Nothing less than this would have met the divine requirement. It was essential that the lamb be perfect. The standard of God, whether in the Old Testament or the New, is the same. Without blemish meant that God could accept it. When the apostle Peter speaks of God's Lamb, he mentions that He was not only without blemish but He was also without spot, 1 Pet. 1. 19. He was not only perfect and sinless without, but He was completely perfect within.
(b) ye shall keep it up until the fourteenth day of the same month'. What is the significance of this? There is very much rich truth suggested by this statement. It has often been pointed out that these four days were a testing period, to make sure the chosen Iamb did not develop any fault. These days are usually equated with the years of the Lord's public life and ministry, when he was constantly before the gaze of men and scrutinized by them. The result was, in the words of Pilate, 'I find no fault in this man', Luke 23. 4.
This confirms the Father's approval of the perfection of the life of His beloved Son. These suggested thoughts of the Lord Jesus are indeed very real and precious to all the saints. Like so many, this writer has enjoyed them too.
May we add another 'suggested' truth from this statement in Exodus 12 concerning God's Lamb, our Saviour?
You will observe that the lamb was kept 'until' the day, the time for it to be killed, v. 6. There is no suggestion that it was kept for the purpose of scrutiny. We are told it was 'chosen . . . kept . . . killed'.
Now, after speaking of 'the precious blood ofChrist, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot, Peter continues to say two remarkable things about Christ, God's Lamb, 'who verily was foreordained before the foundation of the world, but, was manifest in these last times for you'. 1 Pet. 19-20.
Foreordained looks back into the remote, timeless ages of eternity, when there was no created world for man to inhabit and no created intelligence to populate heaven. There was nothing and no-one, except God, the triune God, alone in the solitary dignity of His own uncreated glory. Peter intimates that it was then and there that 'the Lamb,' the Lord Jesus, was 'foreordained', i.e. designated beforehand - chosen in the eternal council of divine Persons to be the Lamb of sacrifice. It was as the chosen Lamb that He was 'kept' until He came into the world as the sent One of the Father and went to the cross to die. Remember that the Lord Jesus said to the Jews, 'say ye of Him whom the Father hath sanctified (set apart) and sent into the world, John 10. 36. Oh to think that before there were human sinners like you and me, before we ever committed one single sin, the Father had set His own Son apart with this objective and purpose in mind; that He was to become 'the Lamb' who was to die, so providing a perfect plan of salvation. Well might we borrow the language of Abraham, 'God will provide himself a lamb', Gen. 22. 8.
Manifest focuses on that tiny bit of human history we now refer to as 'the life of Christ', and in particular, a small hill outside the city gate of ancient Jerusalem, 'the place called Calvary1 - so fulfilling the words, 'was manifest in these last times'. One can imagine a household in the land of Goshen, Exodus 12, watching over their chosen lamb, keeping it in seclusion, shut up and set apart, waiting until the time for it to fulfil its determined work, i.e. to die in order that another might live. When the time of waiting was over the iamb would be brought forth, it would be revealed. Reverently 1 say, that is precisely what God did.
'Was manifest' or revealed means 'to become visible' and indicates a point in history when Christ was manifest here on earth among men, cf Heb. 9. 26, 'appeared, the same word. Here is summarized the entire life of the Saviour from His birth to His ascension to glory. To John the Baptist there was given the privilege to announce the Lord Jesus as 'the Lamb of God as He was manifest first to Israel, John 1. 29-31.
(c) the whole assembly . . . shall kill it'. No doubt thousands of lambs would have been slain that evening. God viewed them all as one death, 'kill it'. As we come to consider the death of that blessed One there is a very natural and real reticence to do so, because not only is one unworthy to speak of such a subject, but how can we possibly state in few words, what will be the theme of the conversation and the worship of the redeemed through endless ages?
(C) THE SALVATION OF THE FIRSTBORN. Exodus 12 verse 7 instructs the Israelites how the lamb can save their condemned firstborn. Their responsibility to God's marvellous provision is stressed. There are two key verses to think about, verses 7 and 13. Both place emphasis on 'the blood of the lamb'. The passage makes plain that the blood shed and applied that night in Egypt provided evidence for two parties:
(a) the one on earth, the firstborn; (b) the other in heaven, God Himself.
(a) THE HUMAN RESPONSIBILITY, v. 13, 'the blood shall be to you for a token upon the houses where ye are'.
The command was to take the blood and strike it on the door posts of their house, v. 7. It required faith to do that, and the blood there, was the visible exhibition of their confidence in God. The firstborn must have wondered at this strange ritual carried out that night. One thing was for sure; if he were to live, that lamb and that blood were his only hope. The divine sentence was unalterable, the divine provision was available, so in simple trust they acted in obedience to God's word and applied the blood. Note how the blood was to be applied to the door posts and lintel. It was not to be smeared. The word was 'strike it on', v. 7. The same thought is in verse 22. The word 'strike' (Naga) v. 7, is the same word the Lord used in chapter 11. v. 1, 'yet will I bring one more plague (Naga) upon Pharoah and upon Egypt. What does that suggest to us? What God really said was, I will' come down upon Pharaoh and strike once more'. That blow was the judgement of the firstborn, 11. 5. Here in 12. 7, the action of 'striking' the door posts vividly pictures what should have been the penalty borne by the firstborn.
In many homes in Egypt that night, there was a 'firstborn' deserving to die. However, the plague would never touch the firstborn who dwelt in the house sheltered by the blood. They were in very truth sheltered behind the blood-stained door posts, behind the lamb which was the stricken one. The 'token' was there for all to see, clearly declaring the firstborn was safe. There was also:
(b) THE DIVINE PROMISE. Look again at verse 13 and compare verse 23. What precious truth is here. Whilst the blood on the door posts was the foundation of their security, the promise of God's word was the basis of their certainty.
Whatever else happened in the land of Egypt that night, two things were guaranteed to Israel's firstborn;
(1) 'when I see the blood', cf. v. 23. It is the conviction of the writer that the blood of the sacrifice, whether it be here, or 'the precious blood of Christ', is always and only for the eye of God. Only God can fully appreciate the infinite and eternal value of that precious blood shed at Calvary. Its value to the believer lies in its protection, but its value to God is in its preciousness. The fact that the blood is not seen is irrelevant and unimportant. What really matters is - God can see it? His eye rests upon it and He is satisfied.
(2) 'I will pass over you'. Distinguish between this and the expression 'I will pass through the land of Egypt'. This second phrase quite clearly speaks of God's purpose to smite with judgement. Egypt was to know the full weight of this final plague, whereas to 'pass over' speaks of divine mercy and grace. The words do not mean to 'pass by', but are better expressed as 'to spread the wings over to protect'. The prophet Isaiah graphically pictures this word in Isa. 31. 5. Speaking of the Lord coming down to defend Jerusalem, he said, 'As birds flying (hovering with outspread wings) so will the Lord of hosts defend Jerusalem; defending (covering) also he will deliver it; and passing over he will preserve it'. That is the truth conveyed to us in Exodus. 12. 23. The Lord would pass over each door where the blood had been applied, and no destroyer could strike where God stood guard. He spread over them His protective wings and all who dwelt within were secure. Each believer can know the truth of the hymn by Augustus Toplady:
Rock of Ages, cleft for me;
Let me hide myself in Thee.
(D) THE EMANCIPATION OF THE FIRSTBORN, vv. 8-11. The Lord had no intention of leaving His redeemed in Egypt. He had provided for them an inheritance in a better land, and accordingly arranged their emancipation so that Egypt would be left for ever.
Following their experience of salvation, their stay in Egypt was very brief; indeed, it was but 'a night'.
The features that marked this redeemed people were two-fold. Their Appreciation of the Lamb, vv. 8-10. The details of their feasting on the roast lamb are rich with spiritual lessons for the believer. One thing is clear, the Lamb that saves can fully satisfy the heart of every believer in this world's night. Their Anticipation of Liberty, v. 11. The significance of this verse is of a people 'ready to leave', awaiting the moment of their departure out of a world that so long had enslaved them. At the command they would be away. Meanwhile, though their stay was brief, they displayed their pilgrim character. Girded loins, shoes and staff, are the accessories of their new character and life. Eating in haste so beautifully teaches us a forgotten truth - we are not here to stay. We could depart at any moment.
May this meditation on the first of the 'Door Posts' serve to give us a greater appreciation of God's glorious plan and provision for our salvation.