by Michael Barrett
Exodus 12:1-4 “And the LORD spake unto Moses and Aaron in the land of Egypt, saying, this month shall be unto you the beginning of months: it shall be the first month of the year to you. Speak ye unto all the congregation of Israel, saying, In the tenth day of this month they shall take to them every man a lamb, according to the house of their fathers, a lamb for an house: and if the household be too little for the lamb, let him and his neighbor next unto his house take it according to the number of the souls; every man according to his eating shall make your count for the lamb.”
There should be no argument that the Passover story is replete with symbology and types and shadows, all of which tell the story of Redemption and the Redeemer. Egypt is a picture of the world and the world system, complete with its taskmaster, who reflects the image of the enemy of God, satan.
As we move on to the symbology of the lamb, it is again without hesitation that we can see the Lamb of God in the picture. Without blemish, a male of the first year, taken from the general flock, separated and kept up until the perfect time, killed in the evening and consumed. Time will not permit in this writing to dig deeply into the rich revelation contained in this wondrous chronicle. Ask the Holy Spirit as you read these verses to break open the truths about the Christ contained in the words of the passage.
Exodus 12:5-11 “Your lamb shall be without blemish, a male of the first year: ye shall take it out from the sheep, or from the goats: and ye shall keep it up until the fourteenth day of the same month: and the whole assembly of the congregation of Israel shall kill it in the evening. And they shall take of the blood, and strike it on the two side posts and on the upper door post of the houses, wherein they shall eat it. And they shall eat the flesh in that night, roast with fire, and unleavened bread; and with bitter herbs they shall eat it. Eat not of it raw, nor sodden at all with water, but roast with fire; his head with his legs, and with the purtenance thereof. And ye shall let nothing of it remain until the morning; and that which remaineth of it until the morning ye shall burn with fire. And thus shall ye eat it; 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.”
I want to focus in this writing on a singular aspect of this Scripture passage. This aspect is certainly one of the most important issues of our day as the body of Jesus Christ – the one, true house of God. In verse 3 of the passage we find that the people were commanded to take, each of them, a “lamb for a house.” In other words, everyone is to take part in this ordinance. Every house is to participate; every house is to take a lamb – a lamb for a house. Now look at the next verse, verse 4, “And if the household be too little for the lamb, let him and his neighbor next unto his house take it…”
There are two truths that leap out of these words. These two truths indict the contemporary church of our day, and generally speaking the body of Christ. These truths are found in the words, “if the household be too little for the lamb” and “let him and his neighbor next unto his house take it.”
I would ask that you be willing to stretch yourself out into the revelatory realm as you read this article today. We have been at home far too long in the realm of reason! Launch out today into the realm of revelation. Stop right now and ask the Holy Spirit to break in on you with fresh revelation as you continue to read. As I am writing this, I have an assurance from the Lord that many, as they read, will be given clear understanding and new vision for this new day will spring up!
The house is too little!
The first mandate of the scripture we are looking into today involves the size of the house and the size of the lamb. Again, I believe that the invitation being extended as you read these scriptures, is not only to see and be reminded of the historical account of the Passover, but also a grace is being given to see the “now” relevance of this revelation. This revelation contains the power to set us free and bring a measure of God’s enabling grace that will launch us into new levels of experience in the body of Christ with regard to functional oneness.
Here is the two part question that, I believe, will thrust us into new understanding: how big is the house and how big is the Lamb? Let’s first examine the question of the size of the house. We need to look at the size of the house in terms of the individual, domestic, local, regional and universal levels, because all apply. When we say “we are the body of Christ”, what exactly are we saying? Are we suggesting that the individual is the body? Are we saying that the local assembly or any group of believers who are gathered together are the body of Christ? I suspect that your wheels are turning by now and you are already considering these questions correctly from a theological perspective. But we must move past the theology of these matters and we must do it now! The body of Christ is comprised of all of the called out people of God. So, the local assembly you attend is not the body but a portion of the body in your city or region. And may I be so bold as to say that there is no such thing as a white church, a black church, an Asian or Hispanic church or any other such designation. These “denominations” may represent a part but must not be put forth, even in our speech, as the whole body. (I used the term “may”, not to judge anyone, but rather to call our attention to the fact that some of our assemblies, and organizations are actually doing more harm than good. Revelation 5:9 declares that God has “redeemed us” by the blood of Jesus Christ out of every kindred, tongue, people and nation to be His own possession and to make up a single, new, Holy nation. Unfortunately, many yet place a higher value on their first birth and culture than the value they place on their new birth and new culture. It is out of this root that heresies, divisions and sectarianism flourish among those who have been called to make up the one new man).
If we speak of the designations mentioned above, or any other designations, which are only a portion of the whole, as the whole, we will continue to perpetuate division in the one body of Christ. We cannot afford to continue to brush aside and ignore these things if we are to see the Kingdom come in power in our cities and regions.
Now here is the obvious and glaring answer to the two part question asked in the earlier portion of this writing: the house is too little for the Lamb and the Lamb is too big for the house!! It doesn’t matter how large or small “the house” is. If the issue of the house to you is yourself as an individual—the house is too little for the Lamb. If the issue of the house to you is the 10,000 member congregation that you pastor or attend—the house is too little for the Lamb! Every house is too little for the Lamb!! THE HOUSE IS TOO LITTLE AND THE LAMB IS TOO BIG!!
Thusly, here is the mandate: “let him and his neighbor next unto his house take it…” The obvious inference of this verse is that, upon making a determination that the house is too little for the Lamb, that the Lamb is to be shared with the next door neighbor. The Lamb is to be taken together with the family next door.
If the things stated here represent truth, then we have a responsibility to apply this truth in practical terms. By now we all understand that every house is too little for the Lamb. So we all fall under the category of the commandment to take the Lamb with our neighbor. The house is too little and the Lamb is too big! So I must take the Lamb with my neighbor. Taking the Lamb speaks of true fellowship or communion.
As it regards taking the Lamb “with my neighbor”, some translations say, “nearest neighbor.” In other words, my next door neighbor. Who is your “next door neighbor?” The Father arranges the members in the body as He pleases (1 Corinthians 12:18). So, we must seek the Lord to know who our “nearest neighbor” is.
I originally wrote this article in April of 2006. It is now August of 2015. In the span of time between the original writing and now, there has been much understanding given with regard to the arrangement and the fellowship of the body of Christ. The whole nation (Holy Nation) is the body of Christ. We now understand that it takes an entire nation to put on display all of the glory of the fullness of God. It takes, as is depicted in Joshua 7:14, man, households, families and tribes to make up the one Holy Nation of God. This Nation, with all of its parts is arranged by God. Just as the nation of Israel was made up of twelve separate tribes, so the Holy Nation is too comprised of separate tribes.
I have just returned from a four day conference in Washington DC, which was hosted by the patriarchal leaders of what I believe to be two spiritual tribes. In 2013, as leaders and delegates from these two tribes assembled in Albuquerque, New Mexico, the Spirit of the Lord made it clear that it was in the will of the Father for these two tribes to align. Now, this resulted in more than just an agreement to collaborate or associate with one another. In that assembly, there was a grace of oneness extended to the fathers of these two tribes, and the decision to enter into this grace has produced an extraordinary experience for those fathers, as well as the whole of the tribes that those two fathers represent.
While in Washington DC, the Lord made it abundantly clear that the houses were too little and that the Lamb was too big! We obeyed the command to eat the Lamb together!! It may sound somewhat preachy, but, I believe we will become what we ate! May the oneness of the Father and the Son, offered in John 17, be made real in our experience! Not just agreement. Not just unity. But an exemplified oneness for the nations of the earth to see. That is my hope and prayer!
False Unity and Ecumenicalism
Often we go through the motions of taking communion or breaking bread with brothers and sisters when it is little more than a ceremony or religious tradition.
Furthermore, I believe there is a general need for more understanding in how we see communion and its relationship to the corporate reality of the body of Christ.
We must break away from empty religious tradition in order to break into the life of the Spirit of God!
Additionally, in our humanity we will often surround ourselves with people who are enough like ourselves, that is, who hold to the same views we hold to, or with whom we have a deep enough history, and we call that unity. This is in fact a kind of false unity and we must not settle for this as a substitute for the Biblical experience that the Lord wants us to have. Jesus said (and I will take the liberty to paraphrase this) “if you only love the people who love you, what have you really done?” He said, “Even the Gentiles do this.” Again I want to take a little liberty and say, I think what Jesus means is that you don’t even need God in your life to do this kind of “love” or “unity.” Even a lost person will love people who in turn love them (Matthew 5:46-47).
If we attempt to build a relational environment in which sameness or conformity is the rule of the day, we are never really pressed to extend ourselves beyond ourselves and into true unity – and we will never experience the John 17 oneness that Jesus prayed we would have. We must take the Lamb with our neighbor! May I assure you regardless of what banner you fly or what group you are a part of, that God is calling for all of us to break through the facades and veneers of the superficial and practically embrace, receive, respect and love one another in this hour like never before.
There is far too much holding hands across the fence and then, at the end of the day going right back to our own little “house” (life, work, relationships, vision). We must see apostolic leadership rise up with a willingness to personally bear the burden and pay the price to model Biblical unity and, more so, oneness in our regions. This is costly, and my prayer is that there would be a holy band of leaders arise who would be willing to count the cost and pay the price to see functional oneness in their region and beyond.
Leaders must throw down the “market share” mentally that promotes competition and division in the body of Christ. If you lead a group or congregation, when is the last time you canceled a service at your place to go support something another leader is doing? Have you ever canceled a Sunday morning service (the sacred cow of the Western church)? Would the group that you lead actually follow you to support another group? And further, would they follow you if the other group happens to be much different from yours? These are hard questions that demand sincere reflection and responsible actions (not just answers).
We must not confuse alliances, organizations, institutions or affiliations with true relationship. It has been said that fellowship results when there are “two fellows in a ship.” Well, what if the two fellows in the ship don't like each other? What if they actually hate each other?? We are also familiar with the Scripture that asks the question, “How can two walk together unless they agree.” But what if “the agreement” is conditional, limited or temporary? Does this still constitute agreement? Yes. So, we can agree to work together and not be in unity. We can agree to work together and never become functionally one. We can be on the same ship, be together the entire time, reach our destination and never experience John 17!!
The reality discussed in this writing is an apostolic reality. The early church gathered regularly to receive the apostle’s doctrine (Acts 2:42). The doctrine discussed herein is representative of that which comprises the apostle’s doctrine. Unfortunately, much, if not most of the doctrine disseminated today, is the pastor’s doctrine, or the evangelist’s doctrine or the teacher’s doctrine. In order for us to see the body of Christ come to maturity, we must have sound doctrine given by the teacher, the evangelist and the pastor. We must also welcome and receive the ministry of the prophet. We have, to our own detriment, omitted, and even at times rejected the office of the apostle. When we reject the apostle, we reject a grace that only comes in the apostle.
Have you lately taken the Lamb with your neighbor? Are you here, as you read and consider this writing, realizing that your house is too little for the Lamb? Are you willing to press through the fear of doing something different or being with people that aren’t exactly like you? There is a glory that awaits the person that will humble themselves under the mighty hand of God and ask for the leading of the Holy Spirit in this thing. I believe that a Passover is waiting for us if we see what the Lord wants to show us in this and yield to walk it out in obedience. Of course, I mean walking out the revealed will of the Father specific to who is “our neighbor” and “how do I engage my neighbor so that we can take the Lamb together.”
I want to pray for you -
Father, I ask for the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Jesus to fall on my brothers and sisters now. I ask you Lord to forgive us for building up walled cities. Forgive us Lord for closing ourselves off from the beautiful body of Christ and for thinking of ourselves as larger than, and more self-sufficient than, we really are. I know that you give grace to the humble, so as we are now humbling ourselves before You, we are simultaneously receiving an impartation of Your grace. Thank you for the grace to embrace our neighbor, our brother, our sister. Help us grow in this Lord until we understand and have experienced the one new man! Thank you Jesus for being our Passover Lamb! Thank you Holy Spirit for showing us today that our house is too little for the Lamb. Thank you Father for receiving us and giving us abundant security in Your love so that we can receive others that are even different from ourselves. Beginning today, we take the Lamb in a different way—so now show us what the practical steps are so that we can walk in obedience to this new view. In Jesus’ name, amen!!
This message is intended to strengthen and equip the saints of God. For more information and to view other articles go to: www.citychurchla.com and click on the “Articles” link. You will also find links to audio messages on the website. Listen and read, and share these resources with your “neighbors.”
May God grant to you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Jesus Christ as you hunger and thirst for more of His fullness. God bless you richly as you follow on to know the Lord!