For the week of April 15, 2006 / 17 Nisan 5766
Torah: Shemot / Exodus 13:1-16 &
Bemidbar /Numbers 28:19-25
Haftarah: Ezekiel 36:37 - 37:14
The Passover Lamb
Then Moses said to the people, "Commemorate this day, the day you came out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery, because the LORD brought you out of it with a mighty hand." (Shemot / Exodus 13:3).
Passover begins this year on the evening of Wednesday, April 12. Passover is the story of a people - a people of destiny, called by God to be a blessing to the entire world, yet trapped as slaves in Egypt. Years prior, God had promised to their ancestors, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob that they would become a great and blessed nation in their own land. But eventually they found themselves in a most impossible and oppressive situation. Finally God sent Moses to confront Pharaoh, King of Egypt, demanding the release of his people. Pharaoh's stubborn refusal resulted in God's demonstration of power through destructive signs and wonders. Yet Pharaoh still refused to let the people of Israel leave.
Even though the celebration of Passover recalls the various elements of this story, the name of the holiday focuses on one particular event. While every detail contributed to the eventual release of the people, it was the last plague that made the difference, and it is this that is most essential to remember.
When God told Moses how to prepare for the final plague, there was no doubt that it would be this that would ensure Israel's freedom. God determined that every firstborn human and animal of Egypt would die. The act of judgment was going to be applied to all Egypt. The only way that Israel would be unaffected would be if they would follow God's specific instructions. Every household was required to take a lamb, slaughter it, and apply its blood to the doorframes of their homes. If and when the Angel of Death would see the blood on a house, he would pass over it. Thus the name "Passover."
So year after year we remember the Passover Lamb. During the days of the Temple, the people were to travel to Jerusalem to celebrate Passover. Each family would offer a lamb and eat it along with bitter herbs and matza (unleavened bread) in order to remember what God had done for us. In the modern celebration we have two things which are reminiscent of the annual Passover sacrifice. One is a lamb shank bone and the other is a special piece of matza, called the afikomen, that is eaten following the meal.
Through all this we see that it is essential to not only remember what God did, but also how he did it. Even though God determined to rescue us from bondage, and even though he provided a way of escape from oppression, if our ancestors had not applied the blood of the lamb to the doorframes of their homes, we too would have experienced the same judgment as the rest of Egypt.
So year after year we were required to commemorate this great miracle of deliverance. But as the years went by we realized that our deliverance from physical slavery was not sufficient. While we were free in body, we remained bound in spirit. Called by God to be his special people, we were not up to the task. It became clear that we required another more profound deliverence. A deliverance from those things that prevented us from being the people God called us to be.
We read in the Hebrew Scriptures that through the centuries a new hope in Israel emerged - that there would be another deliverer - greater than Moses - who would rescue us from our spiritual bondage. That person became known as the Messiah.
It should be no surprise therefore that when Yeshua came on the scene he would be called "the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world" (John 1:29). For there is another judgment coming, not only upon one nation, but upon the whole world. But just like the Passover of old, so today we too have the opportunity to see that judgment pass over us, if we apply the blood of God's lamb to our lives.
The death of Yeshua the Messiah, foreshadowed by Passover is our protection from God's judgment and our guaranty of eternal life. But like Israel of old. we need to apply what he did to ourselves by trusting in him, our Passover Lamb.
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