What Can Christians Learn From the Exodus?
Written by Isaac Khalil
The New Covenant Passover memorializes Christ’s death. But does the original Passover, celebrating the Exodus, hold spiritual lessons for Christians today?
For most people, the Passover is a Jewish celebration of the Exodus from Egypt. It’s not seen as much more than a national holiday celebrating that physical deliverance, which occurred over 3,000 years ago. Most of the mainstream Christian world celebrates Easter, which they believe celebrates the resurrection of Jesus Christ.
A major problem with Easter is that it has no roots in the Bible—either in the Old Testament or in the New Testament. Its roots are discoverable, though, through a study of history. The historical record shows Easter has its origins in ancient pagan worship connected to fertility. To learn more, read “Origin of Easter.”
But, as we discussed in our recent blog post “Questions and Answers About the Christian Passover,” a smaller group of Christians observe the Passover every spring.
The New Testament clearly shows that Jesus died on the God-ordained festival of Passover, and the apostle Paul plainly calls Jesus “our Passover” (Matthew 26:2; 1 Corinthians 5:7). These facts, along with others covered in the above blog, show there is a strong connection between Christ and the Passover.
But that’s not the only connection between Christ and Christianity and the Passover. When we study the original Passover in the book of Exodus, we discover many strong parallels between the Old Covenant Passover and the New Covenant Christianity.
Let’s explore some of the spiritual lessons Christians can learn from the Old Covenant Passover.
Lesson 1: We must leave sin behind and do it quickly.
The Israelites’ slavery in Egypt pictures our slavery to sin. The apostle Paul warns us that sin enslaves us—we are either slaves to sin or to righteousness (Romans 6:16). Most of the suffering in our world can be traced back to sin—the breaking of God’s holy, good and beneficial laws (1 John 3:4; Romans 7:12).
God told the Israelites that they should eat the Passover with “a belt on your waist, your sandals on your feet, and your staff in your hand. So you shall eat it in haste” (Exodus 12:11).
When we discover our enslavement to sin and the way to be freed from it, God expects us to leave it in haste—to leave sin behind quickly and move toward freedom.
To learn more about leaving sin behind, read “Seven Steps for Overcoming Sin.”
Lesson 2: We must follow the light of God’s Word.
Israel was “brought … out of Egypt by night” (Deuteronomy 16:1). In the New Testament darkness represents this “present evil age” (Galatians 1:4), a world that is operating without God. Instead of walking blindly through the darkness, the Israelites followed a pillar of fire that led the way.
Today God leads His people through His Word (the Bible), which gives us light in this dark world (2 Peter 1:19). The Bible illuminates our path and helps us know how to live our lives (Psalm 119:105).
Without the pillar of fire leading them, the Israelites would have had no idea which way to go as they left Egypt. And today, without the guidance of God’s Word, we can’t really know how to live our lives (Jeremiah 10:23; Matthew 4:4). In addition to guiding us through the Bible, God also provides us—through Jesus Christ—with the gift of His Holy Spirit to help us obey Him (John 14:15-16; Acts 5:32).
Lesson 3: We must never look back and desire to return to sin.
The night Israel left Egypt is known as a night of observation and watching (Exodus 12:42). We are reminded that God watches over us continually. Just as God protected Israel as they left Egypt and allowed them to leave safely, God promises to be with Christians as they leave this world.
Christ said that “no one is able to snatch [His sheep] out of My Father’s hand” (John 10:29). So no person or power in the universe can snatch a Christian from God’s hand (which represents His protection and the sureness of His promises).
After the Israelites left Egypt, they eventually found themselves with their backs to the sea (Exodus 14). There seemed to be no hope as Pharaoh’s armies approached with speed and power.
Sadly, many of the Israelites wanted to surrender and return to Egypt. This is a big lesson for Christians, because Jesus warned that “no one, having put his hand to the plow, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God” (Luke 9:62).
A Christian is to depart from sin and seek to continually move forward, faithfully seeking first God’s Kingdom and righteousness (Matthew 6:33).
To learn more about where a Christian’s focus and energy should be, read “Seek First the Kingdom of God.”
Lesson 4: We must never forget God’s “outstretched arm” of deliverance.
God describes His power to deliver the Israelites as an “outstretched arm” (Deuteronomy 26:8). It is the same power He used to create all things (Jeremiah 27:5). It is by that same power that we can be delivered from this sinful world.
Just as the Israelites were to remember God’s powerful intervention on their behalf, we Christians should remember and never take lightly what the Father and Jesus Christ have done to remove our sins and bring us out of this world.
God instructed the Israelites to remember the great deliverance He accomplished for them and to teach it to their children so the nation would never forget it (Exodus 13:3, 8).
The apostle Paul, discussing the New Covenant Passover, wrote that on the “same night” as Jesus was betrayed, the Passover night, Christians are to partake of unleavened bread and wine in remembrance (or as a memorial) of the sacrifice of Jesus Christ (1 Corinthians 11:23-25). This is to be taken so seriously that each Christian is told to “examine himself” before partaking (1 Corinthians 11:28).
So, just as Israel was to never forget and was to annually memorialize God’s deliverance from Egypt, Christians are to never forget and are to annually memorialize God’s deliverance through Christ’s sacrifice.
To learn more about the deep significance of the New Covenant Passover, read our article “Passover and Forgiveness.”