Thursday 20th August 2020 Passover
The Lord said to Moses and Aaron in the land of Egypt: This month shall mark for you the beginning of months; it shall be the first month of the year for you. Tell the whole congregation of Israel that on the tenth of this month they are to take a lamb for each family, a lamb for each household. If a household is too small for a whole lamb, it shall join its closest neighbour in obtaining one; the lamb shall be divided in proportion to the number of people who eat of it. Your lamb shall be without blemish, a year-old male; you may take it from the sheep or from the goats. You shall keep it until the fourteenth day of this month; then the whole assembled congregation of Israel shall slaughter it at twilight. 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. They shall eat the lamb that same night; they shall eat it roasted over the fire with unleavened bread and bitter herbs. Do not eat any of it raw or boiled in water, but roasted over the fire, with its head, legs, and inner organs. You shall let none of it remain until the morning; anything that remains until the morning you shall burn. This is how you shall eat it: your loins girded, your sandals on your feet, and your staff in your hand; and you shall eat it hurriedly. It is the passover of the Lord. For I will pass through the land of Egypt that night, and I will strike down every firstborn in the land of Egypt, both human beings and animals; on all the gods of Egypt I will execute judgements: I am the Lord. The blood shall be a sign for you on the houses where you live: when I see the blood, I will pass over you, and no plague shall destroy you when I strike the land of Egypt.
This day shall be a day of remembrance for you. You shall celebrate it as a festival to the Lord; throughout your generations you shall observe it as a perpetual ordinance. Seven days you shall eat unleavened bread; on the first day you shall remove leaven from your houses, for whoever eats leavened bread from the first day until the seventh day shall be cut off from Israel. On the first day you shall hold a solemn assembly, and on the seventh day a solemn assembly; no work shall be done on those days; only what everyone must eat, that alone may be prepared by you. You shall observe the festival of unleavened bread, for on this very day I brought your companies out of the land of Egypt: you shall observe this day throughout your generations as a perpetual ordinance. In the first month, from the evening of the fourteenth day until the evening of the twenty-first day, you shall eat unleavened bread. For seven days no leaven shall be found in your houses; for whoever eats what is leavened shall be cut off from the congregation of Israel, whether an alien or a native of the land. You shall eat nothing leavened; in all your settlements you shall eat unleavened bread.
Then Moses called all the elders of Israel and said to them, ‘Go, select lambs for your families, and slaughter the passover lamb. Take a bunch of hyssop, dip it in the blood that is in the basin, and touch the lintel and the two doorposts with the blood in the basin. None of you shall go outside the door of your house until morning. For the Lord will pass through to strike down the Egyptians; when he sees the blood on the lintel and on the two doorposts, the Lord will pass over that door and will not allow the destroyer to enter your houses to strike you down. You shall observe this rite as a perpetual ordinance for you and your children. When you come to the land that the Lord will give you, as he has promised, you shall keep this observance. And when your children ask you, “What do you mean by this observance?” you shall say, “It is the passover sacrifice to the Lord, for he passed over the houses of the Israelites in Egypt, when he struck down the Egyptians but spared our houses.”’ And the people bowed down and worshipped.
The Israelites went and did just as the Lord had commanded Moses and Aaron.
There have already been 9 plagues on the land of Egypt, but Pharaoh’s heart is hard, and he will not let the Israelites go. Moses, however, has told the Pharaoh that another plague is coming.
God had heard their cries for help and remembered the promise to the Israelites. God was a covenant-keeping God. They were to kill a lamb and smear the blood on the doorpost. The blood on the door post was evidence that the people in that household had been obedient to God’s instruction and because of their faith in acting on God’s instructions, they were going to be saved. It was a late-night meal, eaten in their travelling clothes. They were to eat it hurriedly and leave.
As I write this, we have just celebrated VE Day, marking the end of the 2nd World War in Europe. Many remembered evacuation with very quick decisions about whether they wanted to go or stay. It was literally a matter of life or death. Remembering such dates is special because of their uniqueness and importance, whether good or otherwise. Festivals are celebrated in religion to remind their followers that something special happened. The institution of the Passover was, and still is, very important to the Jews as it reminded them of a special night in their history. It was the starting point of their exodus from slavery in Egypt and a milestone in their learning journey of their knowledge of God.
The Passover meal was to eaten by people ready to make a journey. It was the start of an adventure of faith. The Israelites, now ready to leave Egypt, like present–day believers in Jesus, are a pilgrim people with a destination. We are part of that free, but holy, nation a people set apart for God.
Blessed are You, Our God, Sovereign of the universe. In Your love, our God, you have given us feasts of gladness, and seasons of joy. At this Festival of Pesach, season of our freedom, a sacred occasion, we remember the Exodus from Egypt and we celebrate all you have done for us in Jesus.
(Adapted from the Jewish Passover Kiddush)