The writer of Hebrews continues pointing out Moses’ faith in what was to come. He mentions the Passover in Hebrews 11:28. It reads, “By faith he kept the Passover and sprinkled the blood, so that the Destroyer of the firstborn might not touch them.” The verb translated “kept” in this verse is in the perfect tense. According to Vincent, “The perfect tense indicates the continued significance of the service down to the time of writing.”[1] Furthermore, it might better be translated as “instituted” the celebration of the Passover. That seems to be the idea. Moses did not want the Israelites to forget their blood deliverance because that ceremony had a future fulfillment that Moses seemed to be aware of. There was only one thing that could defeat the angel of death, the blood of the lamb. Even though it had not been fully realized, he believed it would come. Lea says of Moses, “He lived by faith in a God he could not see. Moses kept the Passover in faith because he believed that the sprinkling of blood would banish the angel of death (Exod. 12:21–28).[2]

The Passover was to be celebrated until it was fulfilled. Wuest explains, “The word ‘kept’ is the translation of poieo (ποιεο) ‘to make,’ which in this context means ‘to institute.’ This verb is in the perfect tense which speaks here of the continued significance of the service of the Passover to the time of the writing of this epistle, not that the Passover is looked at here as a permanent institution, for it was not, being only typical and therefore transitory in its nature, in operation only until the Reality to which it pointed, appeared. But its significance, namely, that of a type of the sacrifice of the Lord Jesus, that is of permanent value.”[3]

The writer of Hebrews, however, is writing to those who no longer have need to observe the Passover celebration. The true “lamb of God” that takes away the sins of the world had been sacrificed once and for all. It accomplished as Jesus himself said from the cross, “it is finished.” One might argue that the lintels with the blood applied is seen in the cross of Jesus. This author seems to be arguing that as Moses trusted God’s Word and the sufficiency of the blood of the lamb, so too does he want his readers to put all their faith and confidence in the blood of the one and only true Lamb of God that takes away the sins of the world. The Passover celebrating Israel’s deliverance from Egypt was an annual celebration. It was repeated year after year to keep alive the reality of the promise of perpetual deliverance that would yet be provided by the coming Messiah, Jesus!

[1] Marvin Richardson Vincent, Word Studies in the New Testament, vol. 4 (New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1887), 528.

[2] Thomas D. Lea, Hebrews, James, vol. 10, Holman New Testament Commentary (Nashville, TN: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 1999), 204.

[3] Kenneth S. Wuest, Wuest’s Word Studies from the Greek New Testament: For the English Reader, vol. 10 (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1997), 208.