Do you know what happened on this day in history? What about who was born on this day? Have you checked your Facebook Memories today? Maybe posted one of them? Even if the answer is no, you know exactly what I’m talking about. Maybe it’s because humanity has been on this earth for *so long* or maybe it’s because we’re famously self-obsessed, but we love to look back, to #throwback, to see where we’ve been and how far we’ve come. Started at the bottom, but now we’re here.
If anyone started at the bottom, it was Moses, Aaron, and the Israelites. They lived as slaves to a king who killed their babies before their very eyes and who was so stubborn that it took apocalypse level disasters to get him to even think about freeing them – only to go back on his word. But now, officially, unquestionably, the Israelites’ time in slavery has come to an end. Their exit strategy is locked – after killing a lamb or a goat for one final meal, the Israelites will take the blood of the slain animal and coat their doors with it. Gross? Yes. Necessary? Absolutely.
The blood was a big part of the next phase of the exit strategy – the tenth and final plague. God was indeed going to take the lives of every firstborn male in Egypt – all except those who had given their lives to Him. As a symbol and sign of their separation from the rest of Israel, these followers of God painted their doors with blood, a sign that the destroying angel should not kill anyone in this house, because it was a house that belonged to God. The next morning, everyone in the blood-covered houses emerged unscathed. Every other house experienced at least one death. Amidst cries, fear, and desperate urging, a mass exodus of Israelites, a people group who had been in Egypt for exactly 430 years, took place. The old chapter was closing. God was leading His people to the promised land.
The Treasures Within:
Rules & Regulations
About 35 of the 51 verses in Exodus 12 are about the Passover – there is a LOT of information, a lot of stipulations, and a lot of rules. Sometimes it can get a bit confusing in its detail – why must the meal be roasted lamb specifically, with herbs and unleavened bread? Why must the chosen animal for slaughter be a year old and why without defect? Why must there be blood smeared on the doorposts? Why do this whole evening meal-blood-morning meal ritual at all?
As God explains further, the details become a bit clearer. The blood over the doors literally covered the Israelites, protecting them from death, giving them the gift of life. This blood came from a lamb – and what do we call Jesus? The Lamb. That Lamb, our God; His blood also covers us, sparing us death and giving us eternal life. The meal the Israelites ate had meaning to it as well. The haste with which the unleavened bread was made and eaten (verses 11, 39) was caused by the short time the Israelites had to leave Egypt. After having the whole situation dragged on by Pharaoh’s vacillation, all of a sudden, the Israelites had to quickly pack up everything they owned and leave. Despite the abruptness of their departure, the instructions that God gave them beforehand must have made it all seem that much more…intentional. Ordained.
But the Passover was not just a one-time event. God commanded the Israelites to “celebrate” it, every year in the first month (verses 14-20), and there were even more rules for the future celebrations! I wonder how the Israelites felt about that! I know when I’m given a long list of things to remember, I can only feel frustration. But although the list of rules was long, they were important. They had a purpose. The purpose and detail of God’s instructions would ensure that as the Israelites carried them out, they would have to think deeply about what they were doing and why. They had to take care, they had to pay attention. The Passover couldn’t just pass them by (if you will). It had depth and meaning that would be passed on to generations to come (verses 26-27).
But that was them, right? The Israelites had Passover and we have…church? Sometimes? As long as it’s not raining? We don’t have to celebrate the Passover today because the old, ceremonial laws and rituals passed away when Jesus died on the cross – as we’ll see later. But just because we don’t kill lambs anymore doesn’t mean we shouldn’t celebrate with our Father anymore! The Passover was a reminder. Remember what God did for you, it said to the Israelites. Remember how He set you free. Worship Him for this. How often do we do that? How often do we set aside time to remember and celebrate the day God set us free from sin? From fear? From death? Sure we celebrate Easter and Christmas, but these holidays are part-secular, part-Christian. Do we have a time that is wholly God’s, a special time for Him and us, for us to simply worship Him for His deliverance? Do we want this time? Will we make time for a personal celebration? Is it time to start a new tradition with God?
God’s Message To Us:
“Do not forget what I have done for You.” Would you forget the surprise party that your friends threw for you? Would you forget that special day you spent with your mom or dad? Would you forget the time your significant other asked you to be with them? If we memorialize and ruminate over and throwback to significant moments in our other relationships, why wouldn’t we do this for the moments we enjoyed in the greatest relationship of all? If we do take the effort to remember and celebrate, we will become stronger. How can we doubt God with the memory of how He rescued us so fresh in our minds? How can we drift away from Him when in just a few weeks, we are scheduled to spend time worshiping, celebrating, and remembering His good works? If remembering was our ritual, we could not forget. We should not forget. We would not forget.
What do you think? What other symbols do you see within the Passover? What traditions do you have in your personal relationship with God? What did God teach you in this chapter of the Bible?
There Are Always Questions:
- Some of the laws involved with the Passover celebration are really clear symbols. Other requirements and restrictions are a bit more opaque. Why, for instance, could the Israelites not take their Passover meal outside of the house when celebrating in the years to come (verse 46)? Why must the bones of the lamb remain unbroken (verse 46)? Why did the lamb’s meat need to be roasted and absolutely could not be raw or boiled (verse 9)?