Historically, the church of God has observed the Passover just after sunset as the 14th day of Abib begins, as commanded in Exodus 12:1-14 (see also Leviticus 23:4-5; Numbers 9:2-5). However, it is also plain from Scripture that Jesus Christ was not sacrificed at that time—His trial and crucifixion took place during the daylight portion of the 14th, and He died around 3:00 pm on the preparation day for the first day of Unleavened Bread (Matthew 27:45-50; Mark 15:33-37; Luke 23:44-46; John 19:30-31). Since He is our Passover (I Corinthians 5:7), why did His death not occur at the time the Passover lambs were to be slain—at the beginning of the 14th day? Or should His death set the standard for understanding the instructions given to Israel?
To add to the complexity, the gospel accounts show Jesus observing the Passover with His disciples at the beginning of the 14th. Which of His actions should we use as our guide for observing Passover: the time when He observed it or when He died? And why are those events at different times?
When the time of Jesus' death is chosen above all else, the typical result is a change in the observance of Passover from the beginning of the 14th day of Abib, just after sunset, to the afternoon of the 14th or even into the 15th. Further, those who make this change must then find a different explanation for when the Israelites killed the lambs and later left Egypt, which frequently involves leaning on Jewish tradition for support—for those Jewish sects that follow Talmudic traditions promote this divergent perspective.
David C. Grabbe
Why Was Jesus Not Crucified as Passover Began? (Part One)
God told each Israelite family to choose an unblemished lamb on the 10th day of the month Abib. On the 14th day at twilight (just after sundown as the 14th began), they killed the lamb, putting its blood on the doorpost and lintel of their homes. Then they roasted and ate the lamb.
Earl L. Henn (1934-1997)
Holy Days: Passover
Notice in verse 3 that on the tenth day each person was to take a lamb for himself. In verse 5, the lamb must be without blemish and a male of the first year.
Think of Jesus in reference to these instructions. The meat could be either from the sheep or the goats. Jesus is a type of both sheep and goat. In the atonement offering, one of the two goats typified Jesus.
Verses 6-8 show that the innocent lamb bled to death. Scripture also says that the bones were not to be broken, and it must be roasted whole. Jesus' bones were not broken either.
Through these verses, we see that Jesus was the perfect antitype of this lamb that was slain at the Passover service. By means of the blood that was smeared on the lintel and the doorposts, Israel was saved from the tenth plague, the death of the firstborn. The blood of the lamb redeemed, bought back, the firstborn of Israel. Otherwise, they too would have been killed.
Jesus' ghastly death and the terrible scourging He endured do the same for us; it redeems us, buys us back. Some Protestants say He died of a broken heart, but that is not true. Like the Passover lamb, He bled to death; His blood spilled onto the earth, and He expired an innocent and pure man. He had never sinned, just like the lamb without blemish and without spot.
Therefore, we call Him our Savior and Redeemer. Once we accept Him as our Savior, because He was sinless and He died for us, His blood covers our sins. He redeems us from the second death—from the death angel.
He is the firstborn among many brethren, and we are called the firstfruits. We are the firstfruits of spiritual Israel that are protected from that death angel, the second death.
God often works in dual stages, as shown here. The first is the type of the lamb slain at Passover, and the second is the antitype or the perfect fulfillment in Jesus Christ. For the type of the Passover lamb to be fulfilled perfectly and completely in the antitype of Jesus Christ, His crucifixion and death had to occur on Nisan 14. There is no other day in which the type would have been fulfilled because that is the day of the Passover.
Richard T. Ritenbaugh
Christ's Death, Resurrection, and Ascension
Contained within the selection process of the Passover lamb are two important economic principles. The first economic principle illustrated by this verse is ownership, as identified by the word "your." God obviously believes in—He actually grants—the right of private property, of ownership. The lamb under discussion is one's personal possession, not his neighbor's or a friend's. According to God's command, it cannot be borrowed; it must be an animal that the offerer owns.
The application for us today is that, just as the offering cost the offerer something—a lamb—our offering to God must cost us too. We cannot borrow money from someone to give an offering: it must come from our own resources. King David provides a sterling example of this in II Samuel 24:18-25, where he tells Araunah, who offers to give him animals for a burnt offering: "No, but I will surely buy it from you for a price; nor will I offer burnt offerings to the LORD my God with that which costs me nothing" (verse 24).
The second principle contained in Exodus 12:5 is purity or quality, as described in the phrase "without blemish." What does this phrase mean? In those days, the animal being offered—in this case, a lamb, but it could have been any of the clean animals God allowed to be sacrificed—had to be free of all defects. In fact, God says that every offering has to be without blemish.
What does it take to determine if a lamb has defects? As Phillip Keller points out in his book, A Shepherd Looks at Psalm 23:
Sheep do not "just take care of themselves" as some might suppose. They require, more than any other class of livestock, endless attention and meticulous care.
With this in mind, consider what it took for a sheep owner to find a lamb within his flock that met this strict qualification. The owner could not just take a quick glance over the flock and say, "Okay, I choose this one!" No, it was a process that took time. The sheep owner personally had to inspect each lamb physically and meticulously to ensure that the animal he would offer was without blemish.
How does this apply to us today? Our offerings should not be mere afterthoughts any more than the ancient Israelite's were. The Passover lamb was chosen on the tenth day of Abib, but the offerer spent a great deal of time leading up to this selection date inspecting his flock to make sure he chose his best lamb to give to God.
We, too, are to give God our best. We should not wake up on the morning of the holy day and say, "Umm, . . . let's see. How much should I put in the envelope today?" Instead, we should put some time and serious thought, prayer, and meditation into the amount we will offer.
We should now see that our offering will cost us something and that its quality is something that we must consider deeply. No matter what we do, we cannot get around these fundamental principles.
The Economics of an Offering
This is one of those places where the word "evening" is from the Hebrew term ben ha arbayim. In modern English, it means "twilight" or "dusk." This word describes the time when the sun has gone down, but light continues to linger for a time, and at this time of the year, light would have remained in the sky for probably close to about 45 minutes. Following that, it would be dark.
John W. Ritenbaugh
The Wavesheaf and the Selfsame Day
Other Forerunner Commentary entries containing Exodus 12:5: