Exodus 12

2 Israel would make a new start. This would not only be their Independence Day, but it would also be their New Year's day. As we will see, it was often common for a kingdom to start counting years from the time a particular king began to reign. This "kingdom" was to count its years from the time God began His reign in Israel. In a similar gesture, the Christian calendar was organized as to commemorate the kingdom of God as established by the coming of Jesus.
5 The Passover lamb was the most important symbol of the Passover. It would be a prized lamb, not a leftover.
6 In many countries treason is a capital offence. In God's kingdom, the same is true. All people are subjects in God's kingdom whether they know it or not. Everyone has committed treason against God whether they acknowledge it or not. Thus, everyone is worthy of capital punishment in God's kingdom.

However, God has made provision for us so that we do not have to suffer the ultimate consequence of our treason. God considers justice served if an innocent life is subject to capital punishment on our behalf. Animal sacrifices serve to this purpose, but prove to be very limited in their effect because such offerings do not change character.

God does not desire pain, blood, and death. His desire is for all people to have a living and loving relationship with Him. Sacrifice is the undesirable, but necessary, means to bridging the gap between people and God, which is caused by sin.

7 God's people are to be clearly marked for all to see. Many people see "religion" as a personal matter. Granted, loving God is a choice that the individual alone can make, but a true love for God can not and should not remain hidden. Our actions and words display our "abstract" faith in a tangible way so that unbelieving (and believing) people might "see" God's works in a way they can understand.
8 Christian communion is a simplified version of the Passover meal. The sacrifice is "internalized" in an attempt to make the abstract concepts of sin, judgement, and forgiveness more tangible.
9 God never allows raw meat to be eaten since the blood contains the "life" of the animal. More on this will be discussed when we get to dietary laws.

God indicates that it is inappropriate to boil the animal for the Passover meal. The animal was to be roasted whole over a fire. Perhaps this is a symbol representing the judgement if the unrepentant by fire (Rev 20:14, 15).

10 The sacrifice was devoted to God and is only to be eaten during the time that God specifies. If any meat was left over it was to be "devoted to destruction" before God. As appears to be consistent, the only appropriate uses of sacred foods are consumption or destruction by fire.
11 The entire meal was to reflect the hurried departure for Egypt. The hasty departure could either mean that the Israelites were caught unprepared to leave or that they were very eager to leave (maybe both).
12 Of course, God is not judging the "gods" of Egypt as if they were real beings (unless they are demonic -- 1 Cor 10:20). However, the picture given is appropriate. God is really judging the people who worship themselves, objects, animals, or ideas rather than the one true God. The hope is that when the Egyptians (and the Hebrews) see that idols could not stop the power of the one true God that they will trust Him rather than them.
13 God had already demonstrated that He could distinguish between the Israelites and the Egyptians. This sign then was not for God, but for the people. The blood was a sign to both the Israelites and the outside world representing obedience to God.

Of course, there is more than mere symbolism here. The blood is also the visible display of the sacrifice needed to pay for our sins. The Christian recognizes that Jesus was God's ultimate Passover "lamb." Jesus' blood acts as a sign to God. When He sees that we are marked with Jesus' blood (by faith and obedience), He will not destroy us on Judgement Day.

14 Memorial days and traditions are established to help us remember. The Passover is still celebrated by Christians, but instead of commemorating the Israelite's escape from Egypt, we celebrate our escape from sin, judgement, and death through Jesus' death on the cross and His subsequent resurrection. It is commonly referred to as "Easter," but it would be more appropriate to call it "Resurrection Day."
15 It might have been seven days before the Israelites were able to stop long enough to allow bread dough to rise. Before breads are baked, they are allowed to sit in a warm area for several hours so that "leavening" agents, such as yeast, can form air bubbles in the dough. Dough that is not allowed to rise is flat, hard, and difficult to chew. The Passover meals were to likewise not have any leavening in them or be allowed to rise.

The punishment for violation was excommunication. That sounds very harsh, but to not observe this feast properly is considered willful and flagrant disobedience to God.

Leavening is generally considered a good thing for bread, but can also be used as a symbol for sin.

16 God consistently commands that no one is to perform secular ("earthly") work on days that are dedicated to Him. Allowed activities include, but are not limited to, reading, prayer, and meals. Activities that are not allowed include buying, selling, and labor that would bring monetary or physical profit to someone. Jesus would later clarify that activities could also include acts of mercy to men or animals (Mat 12:11, Luke 14:1-5, Luke 13:15).
17 Parents were to teach their children about God and His mighty acts. They were to observe the same festivals and memorials because what God did for the parents, He essentially did for their descendants as well.
19 The "stranger" or "alien" here may refer to Gentile converts that had become part of the Israelite community. They were to follow the same laws that the native Hebrews followed.
22 The Holman Bible Dictionary indicates that hyssop was a variety of marjoram. Its bushy stalks make it suitable for "painting" as described here. The painting of the doorposts with blood appears to be the origin of the spiritual significance of hyssop. From this point on hyssop is generally related to purification rights.
23 The Israelites used blood as the outward symbol that they were marked by God. When God came through Egypt for judgement He would see the physical evidence of those who had faith in Him. In a similar fashion, the Christian is spiritually marked with the blood of Jesus. When God judges the world, He will see both the inward and outward evidence of our faith.
24 Again, God institutes a ceremony to remind the people every year of what God did for them during this time. Many people wish that God would bolster our faith by continually performing new and better miracles. However, God has determined the time and place for the specific miracles He performs. These miracles are to encourage us to look forward with hope to that time when miracles will no longer be necessary. Miracles are not to become a crutch for faith to limp along on.
27 "National holidays" were not to just be a time of parties, eating, or taking time off from work. They were to be used for remembrance, worship, and teaching. Too often today we miss the most important parts of holidays. This is quite evident if you look at how the world celebrates the "Christian" holidays of Christmas and Resurrection Day (i.e., Easter). These holidays are filled with presents, candy, and strife, and most people who "celebrate" these holidays have very little understanding of the origin of these days.
30 It appears that Pharaoh was not a firstborn child.
31 Stricken by grief and terror, Pharaoh finally allows the Israelites to go and worship God along with their children and their animals.
33 The common Egyptians had felt the brunt of all these plagues. They had lost crops, animals, and people over and over. Because of their superstitious beliefs, they had come to the conclusion that the Israelites were "bad luck." They still had not been able to grasp the concept that there was one true and powerful God that demands reverence and obedience.
36 To "grant favor" seems a little tongue in cheek. The Egyptians, like Pharaoh, were grief-stricken and terrified. They were so willing to get rid of the Israelites that they would say, "take whatever you want -- just leave!"
37 Some commentators find it hard to account for so many people. The primary objection is that there appears to be no trace of the Israelite's journey from Egypt to Canaan over a 40-year period. Because of this some would like to reduce the number of people that were on the journey.

Since the text says there were 600,000 men one could suppose that there were just as many women, and perhaps just as many children! This would give a migration of between one and two million people.

to reduce this number, some have suggested that the "thousand" should be translated as "household." The rational is that upwards of 3,000 people on a march would be harder to trace than over a million.

While I can not offer much of an explanation for why the migration path has not been found, I would like to do a little more internal examination. Near the end of the journey, Balak asks Balaam to curse the Israelites from three different locations (Num 22:41-23:28). At least two of the locations are located about ten miles apart on the map I looked at. We get the distinct impression that the Israelites are very numerous. If one considers the battles and wordings in Joshua, we also get the distinct impression that the Israelites are very numerous. In Josh 7:4 Israel attacks a city with three thousand (same word) men. If we convert this to "household" it becomes obvious that it would be an incorrect interpretation.

40 Those who study chronologies and such indicate that the actual stay in Egypt was much less than 430 years (really about 200). This number actually represents the number of years between God's promise to Abraham and the giving of the Law to Moses. Paul states this in Gal 3:16, 17. In light of this, the prophesy given by God in Gen 15:13 might better indicate that Abraham's descendents would not have a homeland for 400 years, and that some of those years would be spent in slavery.

Gen 15:16 indicates that Abraham's fourth generation would return to Canaan. Indeed, 200 years would be more reasonable for 4-5 human generations than 400.

The main problem I see with this is in the next verse. If it was "430 years to the day" when the Israelites left Egypt, it would be fair to ask, "to which day are we referring?" This verse would indicate that it would refer to the day Israel entered Egypt. However, the other would seem to indicate another date. It doesn't appear to me that the Gen 15 verses specify a particular date, but I could have just missed it. There are others that have done much more study on this than what I have done here, so please refer to other works for further analysis.

43 God strictly forbid those who were not members of Israel to celebrate the Passover. Contrast this with the number of non-Christians who celebrate Christian holidays. This is not to say that exclusion is necessarily a better witness, but the secularization of Christian holidays, especially within the church, has obscured the purpose of these memorials.
44 God is making it very clear that even slaves are no less important than their owners. Slaves are just as much made in the image of God as anyone else is. When an Israelite bought a servant, they were to have a special responsibility. They were to bring the servant into the household of Israel. During this celebration they would have the same rights and privileges as any member of the family.
45 This is an interesting contrast. Hospitality was one of the highest held responsibilities in this culture. However, Israelites were not to share their religious celebrations with non-Israelites. Israelites that hired foreigners were also to exclude them from their religious celebrations. This is because Israelites were not responsible for the religious education of people outside their household.
46 The meal was to be eaten within a single house. They were not to "go out to eat" during this celebration.

I am not sure why the bones were not to be broken. Perhaps it was that the marrow was not to be eaten or the broken bones would have defiled the meal. The application much later was that Jesus, the perfect "Passover lamb," did not have any of His bones broken.

48 Israelites were to keep themselves "pure" by keeping themselves from the evil practices of the world. However, Israelites were not to exclude anyone who wanted to know God. Such foreigners were to be accepted and given the same rights and privileges of a "native" Israelite. Unfortunately, this was not commonly put into practice.
49 Converted Gentiles were subject to God's laws to the same extent as those who were native-born. The Law also provided the same privileges to the convert as to the native-born.
50 Israel showed their faith by obedience.