Exodus 12:3, “Tell all the congregation of Israel that on the tenth day of this month every man shall take a lamb according to their father’s houses, a lamb for a household.”
Numbers in the bible have meaning beyond the obvious practical aspects of enumeration. Seven, for example, is the number of days YHWH took to create the perfect world, and then rest in that perfection. From that point forward, seven always represents Holy perfection. Israel is expected to rest from work every seventh day. YHWH instituted seven annual Appointed Times, as well as seven additional annual “High” Sabbaths. Messiah said to forgive “seven times seventy” not referring to a literal number, but referring to the perpetual forgiveness as the perfect heart-attitude for harmony between brethren.
Six is the number of man, as it’s the day that both men and beast were created. Beast first, mankind (both genders) second. Six is one less than seven, as in our current state, we are not yet perfected. This is what the writer of Hebrews 4:9 was referring to when he said “There remains a Sabbath rest for the people of God.” We are stuck in six, but we yearn and put our hopes in seven. Each week, when the faithful rest on the Sabbath, that is one of the principles we are celebrating. We are remembering the promise that “in that day” we will finally be done sharing a day with beasts, and will eternally rest with YHWH and Messiah recreated and perfected. The idea of the mark of the beast, 666, is entirely consistent with this understanding.
The number ten is integrated into this same vision for a perfected humanity. During the Genesis narrative, the phrase “God said” is used ten times, alluding to YHWH’s process of creating order out of chaos. There were then ten generations from Adam to Noah, when YHWH reinitiated the process of a new creation (in the sense of renewing creation). A tithe is ten-percent, which is set as a reminder that what “we” grow is nothing more than our partnering with YHWH in His ongoing creative process. (A Biblical tithe is only for crops and livestock). The Ten Commandments are just the start of the process of creating Holy Law for Israel (there were hundreds more that followed). The infamous ten plagues upon Egypt were also part of the YHWH’s creative process, as they were simply the Braxton-Hicks contractions that ushered in the birth of His Firstborn…Israel.
Most of us who were born into secular households likely had our own set of a metaphorical ten plagues that brought us to our knees. Fear, addiction, depression, hopelessness, pride, envy, hatred, unforgiveness, bitterness, lust, and sloth. YHWH’s intention is to use the consequences of these sins to force us to recognize that our own personal Egypt’s are destined to be uninhabitable wastelands. We each individually need to come to grips with the fact that humans are horrible at being the Pharaoh of our own lives, and that there is only one who is qualified for that job. The ten judgements of the Great Tribulation will soon be the final act, but with the same exact intention.
So then, we come to the tenth day of the first month.
On the tenth day, a lamb was chosen–one for each house. And on that day we enter into YHWH’s process of re-creating and renewing our commitments to serving Him with all of our heart, soul, mind, and strength. Each family, farmers or not, would have to keep this unblemished lamb healthy and happy until the 14th day of the month. Often this still living sacrifice would be kept in the house, especially in a city environment, or if no courtyard was available. Imagine needing to constantly keep it fed, cleaning up after it, the constant noise, even the smell of a male ram during breeding season. This is not a cute little lamby, but a year-old male ram. Did I mention cleaning up after it? Imagine this scene multiplied by the number of houses in your town–or in a packed city like Jerusalem just before Pesach.
Generally speaking, an animal sacrifice was understood as a substitution for the one offering the sacrifice. In this case, our “animal nature” is on full display. Despite wearing clothing, using silverware, and being generally polite, we were still created on the same day as beasts. Having untamed flesh roaming our homes serves as a reminder of our condition and our genuine need for YHWH to protect us from ourselves, first and foremost. During the process of the sacrifice, the worshipper would lay their hands on the animal, essentially identifying with it in one last intimate way. The death of that animal represents “dying to our flesh”. It shows that we are (supposed to be) in control of our flesh. Humans are higher than animals, and YHWH is higher than us. A sin-sacrifice, in particular, was meant as an object-lesson displaying that hierarchy, often a costly one repenting for a lack of self-control.
Messiah was also chosen as the Lamb of God on the tenth day of the month, anointed first by Mary at Simon’s house, a choice endorsed by enthusiastic crowds as he rode into Jerusalem later that same day. Matthew 21:8-9, “Most of the crowd spread their cloaks on the road, and others cut branches from the trees and spread them on the road. And the crowds that went before him and that followed him were shouting, “Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest!” From the tenth day to the fourteenth day, Messiah was closely inspected and scrutinized by the religious powers of the day. The only blemishes that were exposed were their own. Matthew 21:15-16, “But when the chief priests and the scribes saw the wonderful things that he did, and the children crying out in the temple, “Hosanna to the Son of David!” they were indignant, and they said to him, “Do you hear what these are saying?” And Jesus said to them, “Yes; have you never read, “‘Out of the mouth of infants and nursing babies you have prepared praise’?”
Compare the noisy and out-of-control Pesach lamb, the one temporarily living in our homes starting on the tenth, to the True Lamb of God who entered Jerusalem on the tenth. Isaiah 53:17. “He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth; like a lamb that is led to the slaughter, and like a sheep that before its shearers is silent, so he opened not his mouth.” 1 Peter 1:18-19 ,”know that you were not redeemed with perishable things like silver or gold inherited from your forefathers, but with precious blood, as of a lamb unblemished and spotless, the blood of Messiah.” 2 Corinthians 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.”
Each year, on the tenth day of the first month, we begin to submit ourselves into the hands of YHWH as He continues His process of re-creation, starting with a recognition that our imperfect selves have been replaced by a perfect sacrifice.
Romans 12:1-2, “I appeal to you therefore, brothers and sisters, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.”
Sadly, some make the mistake that since the Lamb of God was sacrificed, once and for all, that there is no further action required from we, the redeemed. Some would say that Pesach is “fulfilled” and there is no longer a need to enter into this state of deep introspection once a year. Once saved, always saved, right? The author of Hebrews would disagree wholeheartedly:
Hebrews 10:22-13,”…let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the day drawing near. For if we go on sinning deliberately after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, but a fearful expectation of judgment, and a fury of fire that will consume the adversaries. Anyone who has set aside the law of Moses dies without mercy on the evidence of two or three witnesses. How much worse punishment, do you think, will be deserved by the one who has trampled underfoot the Son of God, and has profaned the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified, and has outraged the Spirit of grace? For we know him who said, “Vengeance is mine; I will repay.” And again, “The Lord will judge his people. It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.”