Monday, February 5, 2018

Which sins of the Israelites was the Passover Lamb being punished for? - More Problems with Penal Substitution

I was having a talk recently with a Protestant and it occurred to me that the Passover had nothing to do with the Israelites being sinners. If this is the case, then it makes no sense at all to think that there was Israelite sin being imputed to the Passover Lamb, and thus the Passover Sacrifice had nothing to do with Penal Substitution. And if Jesus is our Passover Sacrifice, as Paul says in 1 Cor 5:7, this is yet another clear blow to this man-made doctrine of Protestantism. 

Recall that the Passover was about the Angel of Death "passing over" the Israelite homes, while striking down the first born sons of Egypt. This was the "tenth plague" and it was specifically a punishment for Pharaoh not letting the Israelites go free. The whole story is about Egypt's sinfulness, not Israel's sinfulness. To think of the situation as if Israel was guilty of sin is ridiculous. It would undermine the whole story of their liberation, a story that the Israelites were to pass on to their children in every generation and celebrate as a perpetual Feast. What is the point if the Israelites were just as sinful as the Egyptians, but God somehow was willing to let the Israelites get off the hook while not giving the Egyptians an equal chance to have a Passover Lamb? Clearly, Penal Substitution makes no sense when projected upon the Passover situation.

And why were the first born sons singled out? What specifically was sinful about Israel's first born sons that would require them to need a Penal Substitute to die in their place? Again, projecting Psub onto this scenario simply falls flat. Rather, as was explained in a recent post (HERE), the real story is one of Liturgy. 

When Moses originally confronted Pharaoh, it is explained why the Israelites needed to be let go: "Let my people go, that they may hold a feast to me in the wilderness." (Ex 5:1; 7:16; 8:1; 8:20, 9:1; 10:3; etc) The point was so that the Israelites could worship the true God with true sacrificial worship, which couldn't be done while they were in Egyptian bondage. The issue wasn't about Israel needing to go punish an animal in the wilderness for their sins, but rather it was because Israel was God's chosen priestly people, chosen to be priests for the rest of the world (Ex 19:6). The "first born" status, which is what Israel was as a nation (Ex 4:22), must then have tied into Liturgy somehow. And the best explanation is that being "firstborn" was tied to being priest over your family/tribe. (Note that "firstborn" doesn't just refer to those who are children, but includes those who are fully adults.) This means that Passover was about Liturgical Warfare: false worship trying to silence True Worship. By God striking down the Egyptian firstborn, this signified God destroying false worship, humiliating it, and showing the world that the false priesthood with false sacrifices wasn't able to save. 

Hence why after the Passover in Exodus 12, the first thing God says is "Consecrate to me all the firstborn." (Ex 13:2) This makes perfect sense if God is ordaining the firstborn sons as priests. This explains why Moses' older brother (Ex 7:7), the firstborn son Aaron, was the high priest (Ex 28:1-3). And this explains why the situation of the Golden Calf (Exodus 32) was so horrendous, because the Israelites were throwing away their priestly duty to offer true worship to God. This would explain why when the Levites rallied to slay the golden calf idolaters, the Levite tribe attained sole status of priesthood, since the rest of the tribes either lost or suspended their own priesthood (Ex 32:26-29): "And the sons of Levi did according to the word of Moses. And that day about three thousand men of the people fell. And Moses said, 'Today you have been ordained for the service of the Lord, each one at the cost of his son and of his brother, so that he might bestow a blessing upon you this day.'"

I realize that some of this is speculative, but the firstborn=priest connection seems solid. None the less, it doesn't directly affect the fact that Psub cannot answer why the first born sons were targeted or why the Israelites needed to have a substitute when they weren't guilty of sin. I think that the great benefit of all this is that seeing the whole Bible, all of salvation history, through a Liturgical lens explains a lot, especially the Cross.


jjm- ballinasloe said...

You are well versed in Catholic dogma and tradition, but not so in the Scriptures. Your animus towards "Protestants" is on display in every post. You should seek the truth in humility and drop the pompous approach. The 10th plague is about judgement and the blood of the Passover Lamb on the doorposts was used to protect the Israelites from this judgement just as the Lamb of God (Jesus) protects believers from the wrath of God to come (the final judgement). The Passover is a memorial for the Jews as the Lord's Supper is a memorial for Christians. You're confusing the Passover with the Day of Atonement (Yom Kippur), which is all about payment for sin. I could write volumes on this subject, but I'm not sure you care to read it. I realize that in the Catholic Church the Scriptures are only of secondary relevance to the "traditions" of the "church". You might be surprised to learn that the church is built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus Himself being the corner stone (Ephesians 2:20). Nothing is said of church tradition in the understanding of God's will.

Nick said...


If you have read this blog, or even just the post you're commenting upon, you will see that I know and quote the Scriptures - and more than most Protestants. My articles typically focus only on exegesis, and the lack of interaction with what I actually say in my posts is very telling. It tells me that I have a pretty solid argument and that Protestants realize it is safer to just ignore God's Word than to engage it.

I am not confusing the Passover with the Day of Atonement. I am pointing out that even though we see a lamb being slain, even to avoid God's wrath, does not in any way suggest the lamb was being punished in our place. The trick to my apologetics is that I lay things out simply enough that the average Protestant reading can readily see that if they agree with an obvious truth I present, then this has a readily apparent domino effect. In this case, once I can get a Protestant to affirm Psub did not take place in a certain instance of animal slaughter, then they really cannot presume Psub must be taking place in other instances of animal slaughter.

jjm- ballinasloe said...

The lamb of the Passover was not being punished. It was the substitute which bore the penalty of death pronounced on Egypt in place of the first-born male of each household in Goshen. The doctrine of imputation (man'sins placed on Jesus on the cross) is very clearly detailed in the Scriptures; 2Cor 5:21 "He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him." Peter confirms this: "He Himself bore our sins in His body on the cross, so that we might die to sin and live to righteousness; for by His wounds you were healed." Even Isaiah tells us: "By His knowledge the Righteous One, My Servant, will justify the many, As He will bear their iniquities."

I have nothing against Catholic people. Most of those I have met are wonderful people, who just have wrong teaching. The Scriptures regarding salvation are very easy to understand, without conflicting church tradition. Here is what Paul wrote to the Ephesians: "For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God;
not as a result of works, so that no one may boast." Can you not see the simple truth of this statement?

Nick said...


What were the first born sons of Israel guilty of that they needed a substitute? Egypt was clearly guilty, and yet they had no substitute, while Israel was not guilty and yet they needed a substitute? It doesn't make sense to me.

Based on the text you have brought up, you should read my blog posts dedicated to each of them, where you will see they don't teach imputation at all, and that the imputation reading is a blatant tradition of men.

(1) THIS LINK addresses the real meaning of 2Cor5:21 in context.

(2) THIS LINK addresses 1Peter2:24 and Isaiah53 in context.

(3) THIS LINK addresses Ephesians2:8 in context.