Passover was a very intimate meal—no less than ten and no more than twenty people could celebrate it together. It was a memorial that served as an annual reminder of how God protected the Israelites and delivered them from bondage in Egypt. The Lord used ten plagues to break the Egyptians’ grip on the Israelites. The final plague was the mass slaying of the firstborn in every family. [Exodus 12:30]
However, the Lord made a provision to spare the Israelites. They were able to avoid the angel of death by sacrificing a spotless lamb and spreading the blood of the lamb on the frame of their door [Exodus 12:1-13]. And when the angel saw the blood, he would pass over that house.
The Passover meal was symbolic of some aspect of the deliverance from Egypt. Just as lambs had been slaughtered that night in Egypt and their blood sprinkled on the door posts, so to the Passover lambs were slaughtered and their blood sprinkled on the altar. After being slaughtered by the priest in the Temple court and having had some of its blood sprinkled on the altar, the lamb would then be taken home, roasted whole, and eaten in the special evening meal with the unleavened bread, bitter herbs, charoseth, and wine. Any of it that was not eaten before morning was to be burned. [Exodus 12:8-10].
The lesson of the Passover was that deliverance from the judgment of God requires the death of an innocent substitute. That’s what the entire sacrificial system of Israel communicated—deliverance was available, but it came at a price.
But it wasn’t the sacrifice of a spotless lamb that ultimately satisfied God’s wrath. Those sacrifices could not accomplish anything on their own. Instead, they pointed ahead to God’s ultimate provision, when He would supply the true Passover Lamb in the sacrifice of His Son.