PastorRodney’s Weblog

Preaching from the Pulpit of Ephraim Church of the Bible

Exodus 12; Passover, a Forward-Looking Focus

http://www.ephraimbible.org/Sermons/20101205_exodus12.mp3

12/05 Exodus 12-13 A Forward Looking Focus

Forward-Looking Focus

I want to look at just one aspect of the passover celebration today. There is so much to learn here and we will come back and look at some of the other great things God has for us but today I want to focus on the forward looking focus of the passover. A main purpose of the passover and the feast of unleavened bread was to be a memorial to future generations. If Moses wrote the Torah to the generation of Israelites who were about to enter the land after their parents died off in the wilderness because of disobedience, then a major part of his intention would be to leave them with the instructions they would need to remain faithful to God, to remember the mighty acts of God on their behalf, and to enter in to the reality of their own relationship to God as his redeemed people.

We’ve already seen the forward looking purpose inherent in the mighty acts that God performed. He said at the outset in Exodus 3:15 when he revealed his character to Moses:

Exodus 3:15 God also said to Moses, “Say this to the people of Israel, ‘The LORD, the God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, has sent me to you.’ This is my name forever, and thus I am to be remembered throughout all generations.

In the eighth mighty act, God explicitly said:

Exodus10:1 Then the LORD said to Moses, “Go in to Pharaoh, for I have hardened his heart and the heart of his servants, that I may show these signs of mine among them, 2 and that you may tell in the hearing of your son and of your grandson how I have dealt harshly with the Egyptians and what signs I have done among them, that you may know that I am the LORD.”

Now let’s look read the passage with this in mind and take note of how prominent this forward looking focus is.

12:1 The LORD said to Moses and Aaron in the land of Egypt, 2 “This month shall be for you the beginning of months. It shall be the first month of the year for you. 3 Tell all the congregation of Israel that on the tenth day of this month every man shall take a lamb according to their fathers’ houses, a lamb for a household. 4 And if the household is too small for a lamb, then he and his nearest neighbor shall take according to the number of persons; according to what each can eat you shall make your count for the lamb. 5 Your lamb shall be without blemish, a male a year old. You may take it from the sheep or from the goats, 6 and you shall keep it until the fourteenth day of this month, when the whole assembly of the congregation of Israel shall kill their lambs at twilight. 7 “Then they shall take some of the blood and put it on the two doorposts and the lintel of the houses in which they eat it. 8 They shall eat the flesh that night, roasted on the fire; with unleavened bread and bitter herbs they shall eat it. 9 Do not eat any of it raw or boiled in water, but roasted, its head with its legs and its inner parts. 10 And you shall let none of it remain until the morning; anything that remains until the morning you shall burn. 11 In this manner you shall eat it: with your belt fastened, your sandals on your feet, and your staff in your hand. And you shall eat it in haste. It is the LORD’s Passover. 12 For I will pass through the land of Egypt that night, and I will strike all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, both man and beast; and on all the gods of Egypt I will execute judgments: I am the LORD. 13 The blood shall be a sign for you, on the houses where you are. And when I see the blood, I will pass over you, and no plague will befall you to destroy you, when I strike the land of Egypt. 14 “This day shall be for you a memorial day, and you shall keep it as a feast to the LORD; throughout your generations, as a statute forever, you shall keep it as a feast. 15 Seven days you shall eat unleavened bread. On the first day you shall remove leaven out of your houses, for if anyone eats what is leavened, from the first day until the seventh day, that person shall be cut off from Israel. 16 On the first day you shall hold a holy assembly, and on the seventh day a holy assembly. No work shall be done on those days. But what everyone needs to eat, that alone may be prepared by you. 17 And you shall observe the Feast of Unleavened Bread, for on this very day I brought your hosts out of the land of Egypt. Therefore you shall observe this day, throughout your generations, as a statute forever. 18 In the first month, from the fourteenth day of the month at evening, you shall eat unleavened bread until the twenty–first day of the month at evening. 19 For seven days no leaven is to be found in your houses. If anyone eats what is leavened, that person will be cut off from the congregation of Israel, whether he is a sojourner or a native of the land. 20 You shall eat nothing leavened; in all your dwelling places you shall eat unleavened bread.”

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 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.

29 At midnight the LORD struck down all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, from the firstborn of Pharaoh who sat on his throne to the firstborn of the captive who was in the dungeon, and all the firstborn of the livestock. 30 And Pharaoh rose up in the night, he and all his servants and all the Egyptians. And there was a great cry in Egypt, for there was not a house where someone was not dead. 31 Then he summoned Moses and Aaron by night and said, “Up, go out from among my people, both you and the people of Israel; and go, serve the LORD, as you have said. 32 Take your flocks and your herds, as you have said, and be gone, and bless me also!” 33 The Egyptians were urgent with the people to send them out of the land in haste. For they said, “We shall all be dead.” 34 So the people took their dough before it was leavened, their kneading bowls being bound up in their cloaks on their shoulders. 35 The people of Israel had also done as Moses told them, for they had asked the Egyptians for silver and gold jewelry and for clothing. 36 And the LORD had given the people favor in the sight of the Egyptians, so that they let them have what they asked. Thus they plundered the Egyptians.

37 And the people of Israel journeyed from Rameses to Succoth, about six hundred thousand men on foot, besides women and children. 38 A mixed multitude also went up with them, and very much livestock, both flocks and herds. 39 And they baked unleavened cakes of the dough that they had brought out of Egypt, for it was not leavened, because they were thrust out of Egypt and could not wait, nor had they prepared any provisions for themselves. 40 The time that the people of Israel lived in Egypt was 430 years. 41 At the end of 430 years, on that very day, all the hosts of the LORD went out from the land of Egypt. 42 It was a night of watching by the LORD, to bring them out of the land of Egypt; so this same night is a night of watching kept to the LORD by all the people of Israel throughout their generations.

43 And the LORD said to Moses and Aaron, “This is the statute of the Passover: no foreigner shall eat of it, 44 but every slave that is bought for money may eat of it after you have circumcised him. 45 No foreigner or hired servant may eat of it. 46 It shall be eaten in one house; you shall not take any of the flesh outside the house, and you shall not break any of its bones. 47 All the congregation of Israel shall keep it. 48 If a stranger shall sojourn with you and would keep the Passover to the LORD, let all his males be circumcised. Then he may come near and keep it; he shall be as a native of the land. But no uncircumcised person shall eat of it. 49 There shall be one law for the native and for the stranger who sojourns among you.” 50 All the people of Israel did just as the LORD commanded Moses and Aaron. 51 And on that very day the LORD brought the people of Israel out of the land of Egypt by their hosts.

13:1 The LORD said to Moses, 2 “Consecrate to me all the firstborn. Whatever is the first to open the womb among the people of Israel, both of man and of beast, is mine.” 3 Then Moses said to the people, “Remember this day in which you came out from Egypt, out of the house of slavery, for by a strong hand the LORD brought you out from this place. No leavened bread shall be eaten. 4 Today, in the month of Abib, you are going out. 5 And when the LORD brings you into the land of the Canaanites, the Hittites, the Amorites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites, which he swore to your fathers to give you, a land flowing with milk and honey, you shall keep this service in this month. 6 Seven days you shall eat unleavened bread, and on the seventh day there shall be a feast to the LORD. 7 Unleavened bread shall be eaten for seven days; no leavened bread shall be seen with you, and no leaven shall be seen with you in all your territory. 8 You shall tell your son on that day, ‘It is because of what the LORD did for me when I came out of Egypt.’ 9 And it shall be to you as a sign on your hand and as a memorial between your eyes, that the law of the LORD may be in your mouth. For with a strong hand the LORD has brought you out of Egypt. 10 You shall therefore keep this statute at its appointed time from year to year.

11 “When the LORD brings you into the land of the Canaanites, as he swore to you and your fathers, and shall give it to you, 12 you shall set apart to the LORD all that first opens the womb. All the firstborn of your animals that are males shall be the LORD’s. 13 Every firstborn of a donkey you shall redeem with a lamb, or if you will not redeem it you shall break its neck. Every firstborn of man among your sons you shall redeem. 14 And when in time to come your son asks you, ‘What does this mean?’ you shall say to him, ‘By a strong hand the LORD brought us out of Egypt, from the house of slavery. 15 For when Pharaoh stubbornly refused to let us go, the LORD killed all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, both the firstborn of man and the firstborn of animals. Therefore I sacrifice to the LORD all the males that first open the womb, but all the firstborn of my sons I redeem.’ 16 It shall be as a mark on your hand or frontlets between your eyes, for by a strong hand the LORD brought us out of Egypt.”

Do you see how central and how intentional this purpose to pass on to the coming generations the knowledge of the LORD is? God’s intention in the exodus is:

…that you may tell in the hearing of your son and of your grandson how I have dealt harshly with the Egyptians and what signs I have done among them, that you may know that I am the LORD.” (Exodus 10:2)

Intended for Future Generations

God intends to put his greatness on display once for all, to demonstrate his superiority over every other so-called god, and to be known personally by all his people throughout all generations.

From the fast pace of the narrative, it appears that much of these instructions were not intended for the original exodus event. The seven day feast of unleavened bread that continued after the passover event was simply by necessity as the people were on the run and had no time for the luxury of letting their bread rise. But the prohibition of having leaven in your houses for seven days was clearly intended for the Israelites after they had settled in the land and had houses. In fact three times we hear that the instructions are to be followed ‘when the LORD brings you into the land’. The holy assembly on the first day and on the seventh day seems to be instruction on how to memorialize and celebrate the history, not instructions for the exodus event itself. Five times we are told that this is to be ‘observed throughout your generations as a statute forever’ (or similar wording). Three times we are told what to say to our children to explain why we celebrate the way we do. We are not told whether the exodus generation had a four day advance notice to select and observe the lamb before the night of passover. Maybe they did, but the urgency of the narrative implies that this too is primarily intended for future generations. Twice we are told that these celebrations are intended to serve as a note written on the back of your hand or a post-it not stuck to your forehead to serve as a constant in-your-face reminder.

Gracious Object Lessons

God is gracious in his instruction to us. He doesn’t tell us ‘memorize this list of propositions and recite these syllogisms’. He gives us an engaging story and tangible object lessons that we can touch and taste and smell. God is not interested merely that we get our facts and our theology straight. God wants us to know him, to experience him, to be in relation with him. God is real, and each generation must experience his reality for themselves. A special day, a special meal, a special lamb, a unique time and an unique way. It is a feast day, a memorial day, a permanent ordinance. It is costly – a sacrifice, service or labor. It is a vigil or a night of watching. It is a time to remember. And it is a time for telling.

12:26 And when your children say to you, ‘What do you mean by this service?’ 27 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.”’

13:8 You shall tell your son on that day, ‘It is because of what the LORD did for me when I came out of Egypt.’ 9 And it shall be to you as a sign on your hand and as a memorial between your eyes, that the law of the LORD may be in your mouth. For with a strong hand the LORD has brought you out of Egypt. 10 You shall therefore keep this statute at its appointed time from year to year.

13:14 And when in time to come your son asks you, ‘What does this mean?’ you shall say to him, ‘By a strong hand the LORD brought us out of Egypt, from the house of slavery. 15 For when Pharaoh stubbornly refused to let us go, the LORD killed all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, both the firstborn of man and the firstborn of animals. Therefore I sacrifice to the LORD all the males that first open the womb, but all the firstborn of my sons I redeem.’ 16 It shall be as a mark on your hand or frontlets between your eyes, for by a strong hand the LORD brought us out of Egypt.”

It’s Personal!

Notice how personal this is. Tell them that he spared our houses. It is because of what the LORD did for me when I came out of Egypt. Remember, the people who will be telling this to their children were themselves children during the days of wilderness wanderings after the exodus. Many were probably born in the desert. It was their parents who experienced the bondage of slavery in Egypt and experienced first hand the strong hand of the LORD in bringing them out of Egypt. But this next generation is to own the experiences of their fathers. It must be personal experience for each successive generation. They are not to say ‘my parents or my grandparents or my great-grandparents were slaves in Egypt and God brought them out’. Instead we are to say ‘It is because of what the LORD did for me when I came out of Egypt’. Each individual must experience the strong hand of the LORD in deliverance personally. I was in bondage in the house of slavery. The LORD brought me out by his awesome deeds.

Only Seven?

Unfortunately there are only seven instances recorded in the hundreds of years of history of the Jewish nation that the passover was kept. Most likely the celebration was kept many times that were not recorded, but is appears that Israel missed out more often than not on this wonderful teaching opportunity. The first recorded keeping of the passover is obviously here in this chapter at its inception

12:27 …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.

One year later, at Mount Sinai, we are told in Numbers 9:1-14 that the people kept the passover.

The next recorded instance is 40 years later, in Joshua 5:10, after this next generation entered the land.

We don’t hear of it again until the time of Hezekiah (715-686 BC) 2 Chronicles 30:1-31:1. It says:

2 Chronicles 30:5 So they decreed to make a proclamation throughout all Israel, from Beersheba to Dan, that the people should come and keep the Passover to the LORD, the God of Israel, at Jerusalem, for they had not kept it as often as prescribed.

Again under Josiah (640-609 BC) in 2 Kings 23:21-23; 2 Chronicles 35:1-19. We are told

2 Kings 23:22 For no such Passover had been kept since the days of the judges who judged Israel, or during all the days of the kings of Israel or of the kings of Judah.

2 Chronicles 35:18 No Passover like it had been kept in Israel since the days of Samuel the prophet. None of the kings of Israel had kept such a Passover as was kept by Josiah, and the priests and the Levites, and all Judah and Israel who were present, and the inhabitants of Jerusalem.

The final record in the Old Testament of the Passover celebration is found in Ezra 6:19-22 -after the return from Babylonian exile and rebuilding of temple (516 BC). What was intended to be a constant reminder and an opportunity for instruction was for the most part carelessly neglected.

The final time we see this meal celebrated is in the synoptic Gospels (Matthew 26; Mark 14; Luke 22), where Jesus takes the Passover meal and changes it from lamb and bitter herbs to broken bread and poured out wine – to be done not in remembrance of the Exodus from Egypt, but in remembrance of him.

Luke 22:15 And he said to them, “I have earnestly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer. 16 For I tell you I will not eat it until it is fulfilled in the kingdom of God.”

Luke 22:19 And he took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body, which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” 20 And likewise the cup after they had eaten, saying, “This cup that is poured out for you is the new covenant in my blood.

Transformation of Time

Notice that this section in Exodus begins with God changing the calendar.

2:1 The LORD said to Moses and Aaron in the land of Egypt, 2 “This month shall be for you the beginning of months. It shall be the first month of the year for you.

God changed the way the people calculated time. Instead of life being scheduled around the agricultural calendar, God intended that his people transform the way they measure time around his redemptive acts. God is proclaiming a New Year celebration. God, who makes all things new (Revelation 21:5), declares the month of the exodus to be the month of the new year. I want you to measure time in relation to my mighty saving acts. This was not the last time the calendar changed because of what God had done. Our entire system of calculating years revolves around our Lord Jesus Christ! This is A.D. – Anno Domini – the year of our Lord. We gather together to worship on the first day of the week because we worship a resurrected Jesus who appeared alive on the first day of the week. Jesus transforms everything!

Does my life revolve around God’s mighty acts that he has done for me? Does my schedule revolve around my Lord Jesus Christ? Am I seizing every opportunity to teach my kids and anyone that will listen about what Jesus has done for me?

Pastor Rodney Zedicher ~ Ephraim Church of the Bible ~ www.ephraimbible.org

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December 5, 2010 - Posted by | Exodus, podcast | , , , , , , ,

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