The Story of Patriarchs and Prophets
by Ellen G. White
Chapter 24: The Passover
When the demand for Israel's release had been first
presented to the king of Egypt, the warning of the most
terrible of the plagues had been given. Moses was directed to say
to Pharaoh, "Thus saith the Lord, Israel is My son, even My first-born:
and I say unto thee, Let My son go, that he may serve Me:
and if thou refuse to let him go, behold, I will slay thy son, even
thy first-born." Exodus 4:22, 23. Though despised by the
Egyptians, the Israelites had been honored by God, in that they were
singled out to be the depositaries of His law. In the special
blessings and privileges accorded them, they had pre-eminence
among the nations, as the first-born son had among brothers.
The judgment of which Egypt had first been warned, was to
be the last visited. God is long-suffering and plenteous in mercy.
He has a tender care for the beings formed in His image. If the
loss of their harvests and their flocks and herds had brought
Egypt to repentance, the children would not have been smitten;
but the nation had stubbornly resisted the divine command, and
now the final blow was about to fall.
Moses had been forbidden, on pain of death, to appear again
in Pharaoh's presence; but a last message from God was to be
delivered to the rebellious monarch, and again Moses came
before him, with the terrible announcement: "Thus saith the Lord,
About midnight will I go out into the midst of Egypt: and all
the first-born in the land of Egypt shall die, from the first-born of
Pharaoh that sitteth upon his throne, even unto the first-born
of the maidservant that is behind the mill; and all the first-born of
beasts. And there shall be a great cry throughout all the land of
Egypt, such as there was none like it, nor shall be like it any
more. But against any of the children of Israel shall not a dog
move his tongue, against man or beast: that ye may know how [p. 274] that the Lord doth put a difference between the Egyptians and
Israel. And all these thy servants shall come down unto me, and
bow down themselves unto me, saying, Get thee out, and all the
people that follow thee: and after that I will go out."
Before the execution of this sentence the Lord through Moses
gave direction to the children of Israel concerning their departure
from Egypt, and especially for their preservation from the
coming judgment. Each family, alone or in connection with
others, was to slay a lamb or a kid "without blemish," and with
a bunch of hyssop sprinkle its blood on "the two side posts and
on the upper doorpost" of the house, that the destroying angel,
coming at midnight, might not enter that dwelling. They were
to eat the flesh roasted, with unleavened bread and bitter herbs, at
night, as Moses said, "with your loins girded, your shoes on your
feet, and your staff in your hand; and ye shall eat it in haste: it
is the Lord's Passover."
The Lord declared: "I will pass through the land of Egypt
this night, and will smite all the first-born in the land of Egypt,
both man and beast; and against all the gods of Egypt I will
execute judgment. . . . And the blood shall be to you for a token
upon the houses where ye are: and when I see the blood, I will
pass over you, and the plague shall not be upon you to destroy
you, when I smite the land of Egypt."
In commemoration of this great deliverance a feast was to be
observed yearly by the people of Israel in all future generations.
"This day shall be unto you for a memorial; and ye shall keep it a
feast to the Lord throughout your generations: ye shall keep it
a feast by an ordinance forever." As they should keep the feast
in future years, they were to repeat to their children the story of
this great deliverance, as Moses bade them: "Ye shall say, It is the
sacrifice of the Lord's Passover, who passed over the houses of the
children of Israel in Egypt, when He smote the Egyptians, and
delivered our houses."
Furthermore, the first-born of both man and beast were to be
the Lord's, to be bought back only by a ransom, in acknowledgment
that when the first-born in Egypt perished, that of Israel,
though graciously preserved, had been justly exposed to the same
doom but for the atoning sacrifice. "All the first-born are Mine,"
the Lord declared; "for on the day that I smote all the first-born [p. 277] in the land of Egypt, I hallowed unto Me all the first-born in
Israel, both man and beast: Mine they shall be," Numbers 3:13.
After the institution of the tabernacle service the Lord chose
unto Himself the tribe of Levi for the work of the sanctuary,
instead of the first-born of the people. "They are wholly given
unto Me from among the children of Israel," He said. "Instead
of the first-born of all the children of Israel, have I taken them
unto Me." Numbers 8:16. All the people were, however, still
required, in acknowledgment of God's mercy, to pay a redemption
price for the first-born son. Numbers 18:15, 16.
The Passover was to be both commemorative and typical, not
only pointing back to the deliverance from Egypt, but forward
to the greater deliverance which Christ was to accomplish in
freeing His people from the bondage of sin. The sacrificial lamb
represents "the Lamb of God," in whom is our only hope of
salvation. Says the apostle, "Christ our Passover is sacrificed for us."
1 Corinthians 5:7. It was not enough that the paschal lamb be
slain; its blood must be sprinkled upon the doorposts; so the
merits of Christ's blood must be applied to the soul. We must
believe, not only that He died for the world, but that He died
for us individually. We must appropriate to ourselves the virtue
of the atoning sacrifice.
The hyssop used in sprinkling the blood was the symbol of
purification, being thus employed in the cleansing of the leper
and of those defiled by contact with the dead. In the psalmist's
prayer also its significance is seen: "Purge me with hyssop, and
I shall be clean: wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow."
The lamb was to be prepared whole, not a bone of it being
broken: so not a bone was to be broken of the Lamb of God, who
was to die for us. John 19:36. Thus was also represented the
completeness of Christ's sacrifice.
It is while men are still dwelling upon the earth that
the work of investigative judgment takes place in the
courts of heaven. The lives of all His professed followers
pass in review before God. All are examined according
to the record of the books of heaven, and according to his
deeds the destiny of each is forever fixed.
By the wedding garment in the parable is represented
the pure, spotless character which Christ's true followers
will possess. To the church it is given "that she should
be arrayed in fine linen, clean and white," "not having
spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing." Eph. 5:27. The fine
linen, says the Scripture, "is the righteousness of saints."
Rev. 19:8. It is the righteousness of Christ, His own
unblemished character, that through faith is imparted to all
who receive Him as their personal Saviour.
The white robe of innocence was worn by our first
parents when they were placed by God in holy Eden. They
lived in perfect conformity to the will of God. All the
strength of their affections was given to their heavenly
Father. A beautiful soft light, the light of God, enshrouded [p. 311] the holy pair. This robe of light was a symbol of their
spiritual garments of heavenly innocence. Had they
remained true to God it would ever have continued to
enshroud them. But when sin entered, they severed their
connection with God, and the light that had encircled them
departed. Naked and ashamed, they tried to supply the
place of the heavenly garments by sewing together fig
leaves for a covering.
This is what the transgressors of God's law have done
ever since the day of Adam and Eve's disobedience. They
have sewed together fig leaves to cover the nakedness
caused by transgression. They have worn the garments of
their own devising, by works of their own they have tried to
cover their sins, and make themselves acceptable with God.
But this they can never do. Nothing can man devise
to supply the place of his lost robe of innocence. No
fig-leaf garment, no worldly citizen dress, can be worn by
those who sit down with Christ and angels at the marriage
supper of the Lamb.
Only the covering which Christ Himself has provided
can make us meet to appear in God's presence. This
covering, the robe of His own righteousness, Christ will
put upon every repenting, believing soul. "I counsel thee,"
He says, "to buy of Me . . . white raiment, that thou
mayest be clothed, and that the shame of thy nakedness
do not appear." Rev. 3:18.
This robe, woven in the loom of heaven, has in it not
one thread of human devising. Christ in His humanity
wrought out a perfect character, and this character He
offers to impart to us. "All our righteousness are as
filthy rags." Isa. 64:6. Everything that we of ourselves can
do is defiled by sin. But the Son of God "was manifested to
take away our sins; and in Him is no sin." Sin is defined
to be "the transgression of the law." 1 John 3:5, 4. But [p. 312] Christ was obedient to every requirement of the law. He
said of Himself, "I delight to do Thy will, O My God;
yea, Thy law is within My heart." Ps. 40:8. When on
earth, He said to His disciples, "I have kept My Father's
commandments." John 15:10. By His perfect obedience
He has made it possible for every human being to obey
God's commandments. When we submit ourselves to
Christ, the heart is united with His heart, the will is
merged in His will, the mind becomes one with His mind,
the thoughts are brought into captivity to Him; we live
His life. This is what it means to be clothed with the
garment of His righteousness. Then as the Lord looks
upon us He sees, not the fig-leaf garment, not the nakedness
and deformity of sin, but His own robe of righteousness,
which is perfect obedience to the law of Jehovah.
The guests at the marriage feast were inspected by the
king. Only those were accepted who had obeyed his
requirements and put on the wedding garment. So it is
with the guests at the gospel feast. All must pass the
scrutiny of the great King, and only those are received
who have put on the robe of Christ's righteousness.
Righteousness is right doing, and it is by their deeds
that all will be judged. Our characters are revealed by
what we do. The works show whether the faith is genuine.
It is not enough for us to believe that Jesus is not an
impostor, and that the religion of the Bible is no cunningly
devised fable. We may believe that the name of Jesus is
the only name under heaven whereby man may be saved,
and yet we may not through faith make Him our personal
Saviour. It is not enough to believe the theory of truth.
It is not enough to make a profession of faith in Christ
and have our names registered on the church roll. "He
that keepeth His commandments dwelleth in Him, and He
in him. And hereby we know that He abideth in us, by [p. 313] the Spirit which He hath given us." "Hereby we do know
that we know Him if we keep His commandments." 1 John
3:24; 2:3. This is the genuine evidence of conversion.
Whatever our profession, it amounts to nothing unless
Christ is revealed in works of righteousness. [p. 314]
The truth is to be planted in the heart. It is to control
the mind and regulate the affections. The whole character
must be stamped with the divine utterances. Every jot
and tittle of the word of God is to be brought into the
He who becomes a partaker of the divine nature will be
in harmony with God's great standard of righteousness,
His holy law. This is the rule by which God measures
the actions of men. This will be the test of character in the
There are many who claim that by the death of Christ
the law was abrogated; but in this they contradict Christ's
own words, "Think not that I am come to destroy the law,
or the prophets. . . . Till heaven and earth pass, one
jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law." Matt.
5:17, 18. It was to atone for man's transgression of the
law that Christ laid down His life. Could the law have
been changed or set aside, then Christ need not have died.
By His life on earth He honored the law of God. By His
death He established it. He gave His life as a sacrifice,
not to destroy God's law, not to create a lower standard, but
that justice might be maintained, that the law might be
shown to be immutable, that it might stand fast forever.
Satan had claimed that it was impossible for man to
obey God's commandments; and in our own strength it is
true that we cannot obey them. But Christ came in the
form of humanity, and by His perfect obedience He proved
that humanity and divinity combined can obey every one of
"As many as received Him, to them gave He power to
become the sons of God, even to them that believe on His
name." John 1:12. This power is not in the human agent.
It is the power of God. When a soul receives Christ, he
receives power to live the life of Christ. [p. 315]
God requires perfection of His children. His law is a
transcript of His own character, and it is the standard of all
character. This infinite standard is presented to all that
there may be no mistake in regard to the kind of people
whom God will have to compose His kingdom. The life
of Christ on earth was a perfect expression of God's law,
and when those who claim to be children of God become
Christlike in character, they will be obedient to God's
commandments. Then the Lord can trust them to be of
the number who shall compose the family of heaven.
Clothed in the glorious apparel of Christ's righteousness,
they have a place at the King's feast. They have a right
to join the blood-washed throng.
The man who came to the feast without a wedding
garment represents the condition of many in our world
today. They profess to be Christians, and lay claim to
the blessings and privileges of the gospel; yet they feel
no need of a transformation of character. They have never
felt true repentance for sin. They do not realize their need
of Christ or exercise faith in Him. They have not overcome
their hereditary or cultivated tendencies to wrongdoing.
Yet they think that they are good enough in themselves,
and they rest upon their own merits instead of
trusting in Christ. Hearers of the word, they come to the
banquet, but they have not put on the robe of Christ's
Many who call themselves Christians are mere human
moralists. They have refused the gift which alone could
enable them to honor Christ by representing Him to the
world. The work of the Holy Spirit is to them a strange
work. They are not doers of the world. The heavenly
principles that distinguish those who are one with Christ
from those who are one with the world have become almost
indistinguishable. The professed followers of Christ are [p. 316] no longer a separate and peculiar people. The line of
demarcation is indistinct. The people are subordinating
themselves to the world, to its practices, its customs, its
selfishness. The church has gone over to the world in
transgression of the law, when the world should have come
over to the church in obedience to the law. Daily the
church is being converted to the world.
All these expect to be saved by Christ's death, while
they refuse to live His self-sacrificing life. They extol the
riches of free grace, and attempt to cover themselves with
an appearance of righteousness, hoping to screen their
defects of character; but their efforts will be of no avail in
the day of God.
The righteousness of Christ will not cover one cherished
sin. A man may be a law-breaker in heart; yet if he
commits no outward act of transgression, he may be
regarded by the world as possessing great integrity. But
God's law looks into the secrets of the heart. Every act
is judged by the motives that prompt it. Only that which
is in accord with the principles of God's law will stand in
God is love. He has shown that love in the gift of
Christ. When "He gave His only begotten Son, that
whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have
everlasting life," He withheld nothing from His purchased
possession. (John 3:16.) He gave all heaven, from which
we may draw strength and efficiency, that we be not
repulsed or overcome by our great adversary. But the love
of God does not lead Him to excuse sin. He did not excuse
it in Satan; He did not excuse it in Adam or in Cain; nor
will He excuse it in any other of the children of men. He
will not connive at our sins or overlook our defects of
character. He expects us to overcome in His name.
Those who reject the gift of Christ's righteousness are [p. 317] rejecting the attributes of character which would constitute
them the sons and daughters of God. They are
rejecting that which alone could give them a fitness for a
place at the marriage feast.
In the parable, when the king inquired, "How camest
thou in hither not having a wedding garment?" the man
was speechless. So it will be in the great judgment day.
Men may now excuse their defects of character, but in that
day they will offer no excuse.
The professed churches of Christ in this generation are
exalted to the highest privileges. The Lord has been
revealed to us in ever-increasing light. Our privileges are
far greater than were the privileges of God's ancient people.
We have not only the great light committed to Israel, but
we have the increased evidence of the great salvation
brought to us through Christ. That which was type and
symbol to the Jews is reality to us. They had the Old
Testament history; we have that and the New Testament
also. We have the assurance of a Saviour who has come, a
Saviour who has been crucified, who has risen, and over the
rent sepulcher of Joseph has proclaimed, "I am the
resurrection and the life." In our knowledge of Christ and His
love the kingdom of God is placed in the midst of us. Christ
is revealed to us in sermons and chanted to us in songs.
The spiritual banquet is set before us in rich abundance.
The wedding garment, provided at infinite cost, is freely
offered to every soul. By the messengers of God are
presented to us the righteousness of Christ, justification by
faith, the exceeding great and precious promises of God's
word, free access to the Father by Christ, the comfort of the
Spirit, the well-grounded assurance of eternal life in the
kingdom of God. What could God do for us that He has
not done in providing the great supper, the heavenly
banquet? [p. 318]
In heaven it is said by the ministering angels: The
ministry which we have been commissioned to perform we
have done. We pressed back the army of evil angels. We
sent brightness and light into the souls of men, quickening
their memory of the love of God expressed in Jesus. We
attracted their eyes to the cross of Christ. Their hearts
were deeply moved by a sense of the sin that crucified the
Son of God. They were convicted. They saw the steps
to be taken in conversion; they felt the power of the gospel;
their hearts were made tender as they saw the sweetness of
the love of God. They beheld the beauty of the character
of Christ. But with the many it was all in vain. They
would not surrender their own habits and character. They
would not put off the garments of earth in order to be
clothed with the robe of heaven. Their hearts were given
to covetousness. They loved the associations of the world
more than they loved their God.
Solemn will be the day of final decision. In prophetic
vision the apostle John describes it: "I saw a great white
throne, and Him that sat on it, from whose face the earth
and the heaven fled away; and there was found no place
for them. And I saw the dead, small and great, stand
before God; and the books were opened; and another book
was opened, which is the book of life; and the dead were
judged out of those things which were written in the books,
according to their works." Rev. 20:11, 12.
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Sad will be the retrospect in that day when men stand
face to face with eternity. The whole life will present itself
just as it has been. The world's pleasures, riches, and
honors will not then seem so important. Men will then see
that the righteousness they despised is alone of value. They
will see that they have fashioned their characters under the
deceptive allurements of Satan. The garments they have
chosen are the badge of their allegiance to the first great [p. 319] apostate. Then they will see the results of their choice.
They will have a knowledge of what it means to transgress
the commandments of God.
There will be no future probation in which to prepare
for eternity. It is in this life that we are to put on the robe
of Christ's righteousness. This is our only opportunity to
form characters for the home which Christ has made ready
for those who obey His commandments.
The days of our probation are fast closing. The end
is near. To us the warning is given, "Take heed to yourselves,
lest at any time your hearts be overcharged with
surfeiting, and drunkenness, and cares of this life, and so
that day come upon you unawares." Luke 21:34. Beware
lest it find you unready. Take heed lest you be found at
the King's feast without a wedding garment.
"In such an hour as ye think not the Son of man
cometh." "Blessed is he that watcheth, and keepeth his
garments, lest he walk naked, and they see his shame."
Matt. 24:44; Rev. 16:15.
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