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A Practical Commentary On Holy Scripture by Frederick Justus Knecht D.D.

[Ex. 12–13:16]

AFTER this Moses and Aaron spoke to the children of Israel, telling them of the Lord’s command to make this month henceforth the first of the year, and to kill in every family a lamb without blemish, on the fourteenth day of the month, and to sprinkle the door-posts with the blood of the lamb. The Lord also commanded that, on the same night, they should eat the flesh of the lamb with unleavened bread and wild lettuce. They should, moreover, have their loins girt, and shoes on their feet and staves in their hand; for that it was the passing of the Lord, and that, on that night, His angel would slay every firstborn of the Egyptians.

The Israelites did as they were commanded, and at midnight, the fourteenth day of the month, the destroying angel visited every house in Egypt and slew every first-born, from the king’s own to the first-born of the captive woman in prison. But the houses of the Jews he did not enter; for the doors thereof were sprinkled with the blood of the lamb. And a fearful cry arose from all the land of Egypt, because there was death in every house.

And Pharao arose in the night, and, struck with terror, he besought Moses and Aaron to go with the Israelites, and take with them their herds and all they possessed. “Go”, he said, “and, departing, bless me.” The Egyptians themselves pressed the people to go forth speedily, saying: “We shall all die.” Then the people of God rose up in haste, while it was yet night, and began their journey, taking the unleavened bread with them. Moses also carried the bones of Joseph with him.

The descendants of Jacob had lived in Egypt four hundred and thirty years. Leaving Egypt, they numbered six hundred thousand men, besides women and children. Moses commanded the people, saying: “Remember this day, in which, with a strong hand, the Lord brought you forth out of this place, that you eat none but unleavened bread.” He also told them to sanctify unto the Lord every first-born, because the Lord had spared their first-born children on the night on which He slew every first-born of the Egyptians.

The Paschal Lamb was a figure of Jesus, who died on the Cross for the sins of men. As the destroying angel dared not enter the houses of the Jews that were sprinkled with the blood of the lamb, so the devil has no power over those Christians who receive worthily the Body and Blood of our Lord in Holy Communion. In Pharao we behold a sad picture of a man grown old in sin. When oppressed by calamity he seemed to repent, but as soon as the danger was past, he fell back into his pride and hardness of heart.

The avenging Justice of God. The slaying of the first-born in Egypt was a punishment sent by God on account of the obstinate unbelief of Pharao and his people. This shows the justice of God. If Pharao had been converted by the lesser plagues, he would have been spared this last terrible one. Many sinners, who care nothing about God, can only be converted by means of some severe visitation. No one can resist God, because He is almighty. They who defy Him, must and will feel the weight of His avenging justice either in this world or in the next. “Thou art Lord of all, and there is none that can resist Thy majesty” (Esth. 13:11).

The Faithfulness of God. All those promises which God made about increasing the people of Israel, and delivering them from Egypt, were faithfully fulfilled.

God is Lord over life and death. By the first plagues God proved that He was Lord of all nature. By the last and worst plague, He showed that He was Lord over life and death, because in one night He slew the first-born in every Egyptian house, while not one of the Israelites was touched.

The Paschal Lamb, a type of Jesus Christ. The paschal lamb was a sacrifice, for it is expressly said (Ex. 12:27) that it was “the victim of the passage of the Lord”. As such, it was pre-eminently a type of our Lord, and principally in the following ways. The paschal lamb was to be without blemish: Jesus Christ is the Most Pure, the Most Holy, “a lamb unspotted and undefiled” (1 Petr. 1:19). The paschal lamb was killed, and its blood spilt: Jesus Christ was slain for us on the altar of the Cross, and shed all His Blood for us. Of the paschal lamb “no bone was to be broken”: contrary to the usual custom with those crucified, not one of our Lord’s bones was broken. Through the blood of the paschal lamb the Israelites were saved from temporal death: through the Precious Blood of Jesus Christ we are saved from the spiritual death of sin, and the eternal death of hell. The paschal lamb, therefore, foretold that the future Saviour would be unspotted; that He would sacrifice Himself for us; that He would give His Life and Blood for us; that not one of His bones would be broken; and that we, through His sacrifice, would be saved from death.

There is no salvation, except through Jesus Christ. The blood of the paschal lamb obtained mercy for the Israelites, and saved them from death, only because it was a type of the Redeemer of the world. Its atoning and saving power did not lie in itself, but came from the Blood of Jesus Christ whose sacrifice and death were pre-figured by the death of the lamb. The Israelites, because they sacrificed the paschal lamb and sprinkled their houses with its blood, having faith in the future Redeemer, were spared by reason of that faith. Even in the Old Testament, it was only through faith in the future Redeemer that men could obtain pardon.

The meaning of the Paschal Feast in the Old Law and the New Law. The Jewish Pasch was instituted by God through Moses, in thankful commemoration of the deliverance of the Israelites from their slavery in Egypt, and also as a type of their future deliverance from sin and hell. The Christian Paschal Feast was instituted by God through His Church, in thankful commemoration of the redemption of all mankind from sin and hell by Jesus Christ, of our deliverance by Him from the bondage of Satan, and of His overcoming the death of the body by His glorious resurrection. The former was a reminder of the promise of redemption, the latter a reminder of its fulfilment, of our real redemption by the Lamb of God, who taketh away the sins of the world.

The importance of the Paschal Feast, as a type of our redemption, is shown by the command of God to make it from thenceforth the beginning of a new year.

The Paschal Lamb, a type of Holy Communion. The paschal lamb was not only a sacrifice; it was also a food which had to be partaken of. In Holy Communion our Lord, the true Paschal Lamb, gives Himself to us to be the Food of our souls. This priceless Food, if It is to nourish us, must be partaken of, mingled with the “bitter herb” of penance and a sincere confession of our sins. If we receive It worthily, It strengthens us for our journey through the wilderness of this life, and will enable us to reach the Promised Land of everlasting happiness. “He that eateth this bread”, said our Lord, “shall live for ever” (John 6:59).

The connection between type and fulfilment. It could not be said that the bones of our Lord were not broken, because the bones of the paschal lamb, which was a type of Him, were not broken. The case must be reversed; for a type points to the person typified, and not the person to the type. Because, therefore, God in His omniscience knew that no bone of the crucified Redeemer would be broken, He commanded that no bone should be broken of the paschal lamb, which was intended to be a type of that Redeemer. It is the same with all types. The omniscient God has so disposed them that they point to the Redeemer, to His work and His kingdom.

Persons and things as types. The types about which you have till now learnt (Adam, Abel, Noe, Melchisedech, Isaac, Joseph and Job), were men. But the paschal lamb and the slaying of the first-born were things. You will come across many other things which were types of our Lord, such as the manna, the brazen serpent &c. &c.

APPLICATION. How the Israelites must have thanked God, when their first-born sons were spared, and when they were delivered from the cruel slavery of Egypt! Thank God daily that His only-begotten Son has redeemed you, has won pardon for you, and has opened heaven to you. Serve God with a grateful love, for you were dedicated to His service at your Baptism. Above all things, hear Mass willingly and devoutly, and be thankful to the Lamb of God who daily sacrifices Himself for you.

When you obey your evil inclinations and passions, you are still in the bonds of the cruel servitude of Satan and sin. Tear yourself away from this ignominious slavery. Seek out and fight against your besetting sin. Make resolutions against it every morning when you say your prayers, and examine your conscience about it in the evening.








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