What does Exodus 12:21-28 really mean?

Exodus 12:21-28 is about the establishment of the Passover ritual as a commemoration of the Israelites’ deliverance from slavery in Egypt and a reflection on the importance of obedience to God’s commands for protection.

21 Then Moses called all the elders of Israel and said to them, “Go and select lambs for yourselves according to your clans, and kill the Passover lamb.
22 Take a bunch of hyssop and dip it in the blood that is in the basin, and touch the lintel and the two doorposts with the blood that is in the basin. None of you shall go out of the door of his house until the morning.
23 For the Lord will pass through to strike the Egyptians, and when he sees the blood on the lintel and on the two doorposts, the Lord will pass over the door and will not allow the destroyer to enter your houses to strike you.
24 You shall observe this rite as a statute for you and for your sons forever.
25 And when you come to the land that the Lord will give you, as he has promised, you shall keep this service.
26 And when your children say to you, ‘What do you mean by this service?’
27 Then you shall say, ‘It is the sacrifice of the Lord’s Passover, for he passed over the houses of the people of Israel in Egypt, when he struck the Egyptians but spared our houses.’” And the people bowed their heads and worshiped.
28 Then the people of Israel went and did so; as the Lord had commanded Moses and Aaron, so they did.


Setting the Scene for Exodus 12:21-28

In Exodus chapter 12, we find the Israelites in the land of Egypt, preparing to leave after enduring years of slavery. The scene is set in the homes of the Israelites on the eve of their departure, as they follow the instructions given to them by Moses and Aaron. The atmosphere is tense yet hopeful, as they anticipate the final plague that will lead to their freedom.

Moses and Aaron are present, along with the elders of Israel, as they gather together to observe the Passover. The room is dimly lit by oil lamps, casting a warm glow on the faces of those present. The smell of roasted lamb fills the air, a reminder of the sacrifice made to spare their firstborn from the angel of death.

As they huddle together, dressed in their traveling clothes and with their belongings packed and ready, there is a sense of unity and anticipation among the Israelites. They listen intently as Moses recounts the instructions given to them by God, emphasizing the importance of following them precisely to ensure their safety. The weight of their impending departure hangs heavy in the air, but so does the promise of a new beginning as they prepare to embark on their journey to freedom.

What is Exodus 12:21-28 about?

The Passover meal highlights a symbolic ritual deeply rooted in the history of the Jewish people in this verse. It serves as a reminder of God’s protection and deliverance of the Israelites from slavery in Egypt. The instructions for the Passover meal were given by God to Moses and Aaron as a way for the Israelites to commemorate and celebrate their liberation from bondage. The elements of the meal, such as the sacrificial lamb, unleavened bread, and bitter herbs, all carry specific meanings that remind the participants of the suffering and redemption experienced by their ancestors.

Through the Passover meal, God is not only instructing the Israelites to remember their past and the miraculous works He performed on their behalf but also inviting them to engage in a communal act of worship and gratitude. The Israelites were not only partaking in a physical meal but also participating in a spiritual reenactment of their salvation story by following these instructions. Modern readers can reflect on the Passover meal as a powerful symbol of God’s faithfulness, protection, and deliverance in our own lives. It prompts us to consider the ways in which God has worked in our past, the ways He is working in our present, and to have faith and trust in His promises for the future.

Understanding what Exodus 12:21-28 really means

In the narrative of the Exodus, a pivotal event unfolds as God delivers the Israelites from slavery in Egypt. The passage in Exodus 12:21-28 specifically outlines the instructions for the Passover, a significant moment in Jewish history. Moses conveys to the elders of Israel the crucial steps to prepare for the final plague, the death of the firstborn, by marking their doorposts with the blood of a lamb. This act of obedience symbolizes faith in God’s promise of deliverance and protection.

The use of hyssop, a plant associated with purification rituals, highlights the themes of cleansing and safeguarding present in the Passover instructions. The application of blood on the doorframe serves as a visible sign of adherence to God’s command and trust in His mercy. The phrase emphasizing that God will “pass over” the marked doorways underscores His compassion and the necessity of following His directives for salvation. The directive to observe the Passover as a lasting ordinance emphasizes the perpetual significance of remembering God’s deliverance throughout generations.

Drawing connections to other biblical passages enriches our understanding of the Passover’s symbolism and significance. References in Leviticus, John, and Corinthians further illuminate the parallels between the Passover lamb and Jesus Christ as the ultimate sacrificial lamb. These connections deepen our appreciation for the theological implications of the Passover event and its relevance to Christian faith today.

The timeless themes of deliverance and salvation resonate with people in contemporary contexts. Just as the Israelites sought liberation from physical bondage, individuals today seek freedom from various forms of spiritual enslavement. The act of marking doorposts with blood can be metaphorically interpreted as marking our lives with faith and obedience to God, inviting His protection and deliverance into our circumstances.

Consider a family facing financial struggles who choose to trust in God’s provision and adhere to His principles of stewardship and generosity. Through their obedience and faith, they witness unexpected blessings and opportunities, mirroring the Israelites’ protection and eventual freedom due to their trust in God. This anecdote illustrates how faith and obedience to God’s instructions can lead to deliverance and blessings, underscoring the enduring relevance of the Passover narrative in contemporary lives.

In conclusion, the passage from Exodus 12:21-28 serves as a poignant reminder of God’s faithfulness and the significance of obedience in our relationship with Him. It prompts us to rely on God’s promises and to reflect on His past acts of deliverance as sources of hope and strength for the future. Just as the Israelites found salvation through obedience and faith, may we too find comfort and assurance in trusting God’s guidance and experiencing His deliverance in our lives.

How can we show reverence and obedience to God?

We can show reverence and obedience to God as depicted in this verse by following the instructions given by God through His messengers, which in this case, involve the instructions regarding the Passover. We demonstrate our reverence and obedience to God by adhering to these instructions and carrying out the rituals according to His command. Additionally, we can show our respect and submission to God by acknowledging His sovereignty and authority over our lives.

Furthermore, we can demonstrate reverence and obedience to God by partaking in acts of worship and praise. This can include prayer, studying His word, attending religious services, and living in accordance with His teachings. We show our commitment to honoring and obeying God by actively engaging with Him through these practices. We can show reverence and respect towards God in all aspects of our lives by living a life that reflects our faith and obedience to Him.


Embrace the lesson from Exodus 12:21-28. Show dedication and faith in following God’s guidance just as the Israelites did during the Passover. Let’s turn words into action, embodying the teachings of the Bible in our everyday lives. Will you rise to the challenge and wholeheartedly live out your faith through your actions?