|Volume 24 Number 3 March 2022
Before God brought the 10th plague upon Egypt, that is, the death of the firstborn in every family among the Egyptians, including the animals, He informed Moses that no harm would come to the children of Israel (Exodus 11-12). On the 10th day of the first month of Abib, every man was to take a male lamb of the sheep or goats and keep it until the 14th day when it was to be slain. The men were instructed to take the blood of the animal and put some on the doorposts and the lintel of the house. Instructions were also given as to how they were to prepare the lamb for a meal in each household. Only unleavened bread was to be eaten with the meal. This was the “Lord’s Passover.” The Passover was to be a memorial for Israel throughout its generations.
The Lord spoke to Moses, “For I will pass through the land of Egypt on that night, and will strike all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, both man and beast; and against the gods of Egypt I will execute judgment: I am the Lord. Now the blood shall be a sign for you on the houses where you are. And when I see the blood, I will pass over you; and the plague shall not be on you to destroy you when I strike the land of Egypt” (Exodus 12:12-13 NKJV). The lamb that was killed was without blemish. The blood that was placed on the doorposts and the lintel of the houses assured the people of Israel that the firstborn of each family would be spared from death.
The Passover lamb of the Old Testament was a foreshadowing of Jesus’ sacrifice on our behalf. In 1 Corinthians 5:7 we read, “Therefore purge out the old leaven, that you may be a new lump, since you truly are unleavened. For indeed Christ, our Passover, was sacrificed for us.” When John the Baptist saw Jesus coming toward him, he said, “Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!” (John 1:29). The lamb that was offered by the children of Israel was to be without blemish, and so was the Lamb of God who was sacrificed on Calvary without blemish. The apostle Peter wrote in 1 Peter 1:18-19, “Knowing that you were not redeemed with corruptible things, like silver or gold, from your aimless conduct received by tradition from your fathers, but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot.” As the lamb’s blood was placed on the doorposts and the lintel, the blood of the Lamb of God was shed when He was on Calvary’s cross.
When Jesus was eating with His disciples during Passover, “Then He took the cup, and gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying, ‘Drink from it, all of you. For this is My blood of the new covenant, which is shed for many for the remission of sins’” (Matthew 26:27-28). John wrote in Revelation 1:5b-6, “To Him who loved us and washed us from our sins in His own blood, and has made us kings and priests to His God and Father, to Him be glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.” The apostle Paul wrote in Ephesians 1:7 concerning Jesus Christ, “In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace.” Hebrews 9:22 notes that “…according to the law almost all things are purified with blood, and without shedding of blood there is no remission.” Thank God for His infinite grace and the precious blood of Jesus Christ.
In Romans 6:3-4, we learn when we come in contact with the blood of Christ, “Or do you not know that as many of us as were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death? Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.” It is not the water that saves us when we are immersed, but rather, it is the blood of Christ when we are baptized into His death where His precious blood was shed. It is in this sense that God passes over us in the forgiveness of our sins. There was an old hymn that we used to sing in worship when I was a boy. It is entitled, “When I See the Blood” and contains this thought. Here are two of the stanzas and the chorus.
Christ, our Redeemer, died on the cross, Died for the sinner, paid all his due;
All who receive Him need never fear, Yes, He will pass, will pass over you.
O what compassion, O boundless love, Jesus hath power, Jesus is true;
All who believe are safe from the storm, O He will pass, will pass over you.
When I see the blood, When I see the blood, When I see the blood, I will pass over you.
“When I See the Blood” was authored by John G. Foote and Elisha A. Hoffman. This hymn is in the public domain.
Not Counted but There
How many had eaten in Matthew 14:21? “Now those who had eaten were about five thousand men, besides women and children” (NKJV). Five thousand? If you said, “No, more than five thousand. That wasn’t counting the women and children,” you are correct. That’s the idea of the word translated “besides.” The men were counted separately, not counting women and children.
However, the word can also mean “without.” Why wouldn’t the translators use that word here? Let’s try it. “Now those who had eaten were about five thousand men, without women and children.” While “without” is one shade of meaning of the word, it would give the wrong idea given the context. Someone might come away asking, “Were there women and children? Did they not get to eat?”
In John’s account of this miraculous feeding, there was a young boy who had loaves and fish (John 6:9). It was a great multitude, and there were women and children in it. Jesus was healing the sick. The word is translated “besides” because they were there. They just weren’t included in the counting.
Here’s why this is important. Some take Paul’s emphasis on righteousness being by faith, in places like Romans 4, and try to remove anything we do, “works,” from faithful living. Romans 3:28 concludes “that a man is justified by faith apart from the deeds [works] of the law.”
Abraham was a great example of this because he was justified without being under the Law. However, it wasn’t because what he did (his works) that he was worthy of justification, but he “believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness” (Romans 4:3). He was justified without the works of the Jewish law and not from counting his own works. Otherwise, “if Abraham was justified by works, he has something to boast about, but not before God” (Romans 4:2).
See, God had already been shown as the Justifier, through Jesus, in Romans 3:26. There are none who are righteous and who can justify themselves; otherwise, they would be able to boast of what they have done.
It is in this context that Paul went on to say:
Now to him who works, the wages are not counted as grace but as debt. But to him who does not work but believes on Him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is accounted for righteousness, just as David also describes the blessedness of the man to whom God imputes righteousness apart from works: “Blessed are those whose lawless deeds are forgiven, And whose sins are covered; Blessed is the man to whom the Lord shall not impute sin.” (Romans 4:4-8)
We come back to the word we discussed in the beginning. “David also describes the blessedness of the man to whom God imputes righteousness apart from works.” “Apart” here could be translated with the idea of “without (KJV)” or “separate.” The context bears out that it is much like the first verse we first examined. David expressed gratitude for the fact that there were works which weren’t counted. He went on to mention the lawless deeds and sins that are forgiven and covered.
Faith being “accounted” for righteousness is descriptive of the accounting process. If our works are what was counted, everyone would end up in the red after considering all of the good and bad. However, it’s faith in God and His righteousness that is counted, not counting our works. Like the women and children being there, our works are there, and they have to be, but they do not earn our righteousness.
Reflect on the following verses about salvation and see how this understanding of works and faith fits the Bible context. “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them” (Ephesians 2:8-10).
But someone will say, “You have faith, and I have works.” Show me your faith without your works, and I will show you my faith by my works. You believe that there is one God. You do well. Even the demons believe – and tremble! But do you want to know, O foolish man, that faith without works is dead? Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered Isaac his son on the altar? Do you see that faith was working together with his works, and by works faith was made perfect? And the Scripture was fulfilled which says, “Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness.” And he was called the friend of God. You see then that a man is justified by works, and not by faith only. Likewise, was not Rahab the harlot also justified by works when she received the messengers and sent them out another way? For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also.” (James 2:18-26)
[Editor’s Note: The disciples of Christ (Christians) are obligated to bear “much fruit” (John 15:5, 8), and yet, that is not the basis by which one’s sins are remitted, because nothing that man can do can satisfactorily address the problem of sins and remove them. Otherwise, if man could do something or enough of something to remove his own sins, there would have been no reason for Jesus Christ to have left Heaven and to die on Calvary’s cross. “So likewise you, when you have done all those things which you are commanded, say, ‘We are unprofitable servants. We have done what was our duty to do’” (Luke 17:10). Though we cannot remove our own sins, on the basis of our obedience – though we fall short of perfection – Jesus Christ is “the author of eternal salvation to all who obey Him” (Hebrews 5:9). ~ Louis Rushmore, Editor]