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Study Resources :: Text Commentaries :: F.E. Marsh :: Readings 401-450 (The Death - Three)

F.E. Marsh :: 424. The Passover Instituted

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EXODUS 12:1-14

THE Lord passes over His people in judgment, but passes through the midst of those who do not belong to Him. This is strikingly illustrated in the two passings mentioned in Exodus 12: We direct attention-

  1. Jehovah passing; over His people. The Hebrew word “Pesak,” rendered passover, comes from “Pasak,” which means “to leap over,” or “to move from one object to another.” The noun “Pesak” occurs forty-eight times in the Old Testament, and is always given “passover.” The verb “Pasak” is translated “pass over” in Exodus 12:13, 23, 27, and Isaiah 31:5. The same term occurs in 1 Kings 18:26, where the priests of Baal are said to have “leaped upon the altar,” or as the Vulgate “leaped over,” or as the Septuagint “ran over.” The Prophet Elijah uses the same expression in 1 Kings 18:21, when he says, “How long halt ye between two opinions?” The image is taken from birds hopping backward and forward from one branch of a tree to another. Young brings this out in his translation of the passage. He renders it:—“Till when are ye leaping on the two branches? If Jehovah is God, go after Him; and, if Baal, go after him.” The Israelites, in mixing up the worship of Jehovah with that of Baal, were like lame men, who tread not firmly but dubiously.
    It is of interest to know that the same term is used in describing the result of the accident which happened to Mephibosheth, who in consequence of the nurse letting him fall, “became lame” (2 Sam. 4:4). As the priests of Baal went over the altars erected to him; as the Israelites in their sin, sought to identify the worship of Jehovah with the worship of Baal, thus were passing over from the one to the other; and as the lame man passes over the ordinary gait in his walk through his lameness; so Jehovah passed over his people when He was about to deal with the land of Egypt in judgment. The Lord uses the same word in Isaiah 31:5, when He promised to defend Jerusalem from the Assyrians:—“As birds flying, so will the Lord of Hosts defend Jerusalem; defending also He will deliver it; and passing over, He will preserve it.”
    As an eagle, seeing a bird of prey approaching its young, passes over them to the object of danger, and in meeting and overcoming it preserves its offspring from the peril to which they were exposed; so the Lord passed over the city of Jerusalem to the army of the king of Assyria, that lay encamped against it, and by smiting him and his host, protected the earthly Zion from the destruction which threatened it.
    How was it Jehovah passed over the first-born of Israel, seeing that they were mixed up with Egypt’s sins and idolatry, and therefore deserved judgment as well as the first-born of Egypt? It was-
    For the sake of the Lord Jesus, whose death was prefigured in the slain lamb and sprinkled blood. There can be no question about this in the light of Rom. 3:24-25 (R.V.), where it says, “Christ Jesus, whom God set forth to be a propitiation, through faith, by His blood, to shew His righteousness, because of the passing over of the sins done aforetime, in the forbearance of God.” Mark the words that we have put in italics, for they say in an unmistakable manner that the ground of God’s action of grace towards His people in the past, was founded on the death of Christ; as Dr. Brown says, “The sins which are here referred to, are not those of the believer before he embraces Christ, but those committed under the ancient economy, before Christ came to “put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself.” Hence the apostle, instead of using the common word which signifies remission, studiously uses a very different word, nowhere else employed, signifying ‘pretermission’ or ‘passing by’; and hence also this ‘passing by’ is ascribed to ‘the forbearance of God,’ who is viewed as not so much remitting, as bearing with them, until an adequate atonement for them should be made.”
    “In thus not imputing them, God was righteous, but He was not seen to be so. There was no ‘manifestation of His righteousness’ in doing so under the ancient economy; but now that God can ‘set forth’ Christ as a ‘propitiation through faith in His blood,’ the righteousness of His procedure in passing by the sins of believers before, and in now remitting them, is ‘manifested,’ declared, brought fully out to the view of the whole world.”
    The reason why God passes over the believer now is the same as that given to Israel, viz., “When I see the blood, I will pass over you” (Ex. 12:13). Not when I see your good resolutions, your firm intentions, your earnest prayers, your much almsgiving, your zealous works, your extreme fasting, your penitent tears, your strong faith, but “when I see the blood.”
    • “It is not our tears of repentance, nor prayers,
    • But the blood that atones for the soul.”
  2. Passing through the midst of the Egyptians. “I will pass through the land,” &c. (Ex. 12:12, 23). The expression that relates to the Lord passing through the land of Egypt is different from that which is used of the Lord passing over the Israelites. In the latter case it means a “leaping over,” or “flying over from one object to another;” but in the former it signifies “a passing through the midst,” as when the burning lamp passed between the pieces of Abram’s sacrifice (Gen. 15:17); or when a traveller passes through a given district. The following instances where the same Hebrew word occurs, which is rendered “pass through” in Ex. 12:12, 23, will give us to see the above more clearly.
    1. Moses and God’s glory. “While My glory passeth by” (Exodus 33:22).
    2. Edom and Israel. “Edom refused to give Israel passage” (Numbers 20:21).
    3. God’s decree to the sea. “Waters should not pass His commandment” (Proverbs 8:29).
    4. Saul’s confession to Samuel. “I have transgressed the commandment” (1 Sam. 15:24).
    5. The Psalmist’s iniquities. “Mine iniquities are gone over mine head” (Psalm 38:4).
    6. The frailty of man compared to grass. “The wind passeth over it” (Psalm 103:16).
    7. Judgment. “The overflowing scourge shall pass through” (Isaiah 28:15).
    From the above passages of Scripture it will be gathered that the term under consideration means “to pass over the face of an object,” as when the Psalmist says his iniquities have gone over him, as a wave that submerges the swimmer, or as when the Psalmist uses the figure of the wind passing over the grass and withering it. The word also signifies “to pass alongside,” as when the Lord passed by Moses, and enabled him to behold His goodness. Yet, again, the expression is expressive of “passing through,” as when Edom would not allow Israel passage through their country; or as when one passes through a command by going beyond its prescribed boundary; or as when an overwhelming scourge causes the inhabitants of a certain place to be destroyed because they are in the way of its onward rush. Parkhurst, in his Hebrew Lexicon, gives the following illustrations of the appellation:—
    “A ferry-boat, for passing over a river” (2 Sam. 19:18).
    “A pass or passage” (1 Sam. 14:4).
    “In Gen. 10:21, Shem, the progenitor of the holy line, is styled the father of all the children (not of Eber, his great grandson, for how was he more the father of him than of his other descendants? but) of passage or pilgrimage. The father of all those who were passengers, pilgrims, itinerants, passing from one place to another, as the holy line were, till their settlement in Canaan, and who also confessed themselves to be strangers and pilgrims on earth, plainly declaring thereby that they sought a better country. Of Abraham in particular it is written that he passed through the land (Gen. 12:6), and during his pilgrimage from one place to another in the land of promise, wherein he sojourned as in a strange country, the epithet a pilgrim or stranger is used.
423. The Observant Christ ← Prior Section
425. Touch of the Lord Next Section →

The Blue Letter Bible ministry and the BLB Institute hold to the historical, conservative Christian faith, which includes a firm belief in the inerrancy of Scripture. Since the text and audio content provided by BLB represent a range of evangelical traditions, all of the ideas and principles conveyed in the resource materials are not necessarily affirmed, in total, by this ministry.


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