In Part 1 of our Passover Series, we learned about the changes made to the dating of the Christian celebration of Easter and why it differs from the dating of the Jewish feast of Passover. It was a blatant anti-Semitic decision to sever any kind of Jewish connection to the commemoration of the death and resurrection of Jesus which resulted in both the excommunication and sometimes execution of believers who wanted to continue their celebration of Easter on the dates of the Jewish Passover, because they were in fact, the correct dates.
In this article, we’re going to retell the actual story that the Passover Feast remembers and celebrates. There are seven mandatory feasts with Passover being the first.
Leviticus 23:4-5, ‘These are the appointed times of the Lord, holy convocation which you shall proclaim at the times appointed them. In the first month on the fourteenth day of the month at twilight is the Lord’s Passover.’
The account of the Hebrew’s enslaved in Egypt and how God raised up a man called Moses to lead them out while at the same time confronting Pharaoh and commanding him, in the Lord’s name, to release the Hebrews can be read in Exodus chapters 1-15.
Genesis is the account of the beginning of all things and subsequently the beginnings and establishment of the national people that we today call, the Jewish people. Genesis ends with Jacob, his sons and their families relocating to Egypt because of the famine that’s raging throughout the entire Middle East. Exodus begins more than 400 years later approximately, with the Jewish people, who’s numbers are now big enough to call them a nation in their own right and Pharaoh, Egypt’s leader, so concerned that the Jews might turn on them, that they have enslaved them to keep them subjugated.
First of all, Pharaoh tries to slow down the birthrate of the Jews, demanding that the Hebrew midwives drown all baby boys in the Nile River, which they refuse to do but that didn’t lessen the danger to all Jewish baby boys at all. Moses was born in this dangerous environment, and his birth kept secret for several months and eventually, he’s discovered by Pharaoh’s daughter who takes him into the palace to raise as her own son. So Moses is raised in a privileged position which he thinks will be appreciated by his Jewish countrymen. Which is not the case.
In a bid to protect one of his fellow Jews, he kills an Egyptian and tries to cover up his crime but is eventually found out and he flees Egypt and ends up in Midian where he meets the woman he’ll marry and he settles down to life there with her family.
But Moses sees a remarkable sight one day…a bush that burns but isn’t consumed and when he approaches it, God speaks to him from the flames and calls him to return to Egypt to confront Pharaoh and leads his people to freedom.
Moses returns and teams up with his brother Aaron and together they confront Pharaoh using all the wonders God told him to and hey presto….they’re free! No, they weren’t, Pharaoh didn’t listen but what he did do was make life more miserable and more difficult for the Jewish people.
Every single time Moses and Aaron confronted Pharaoh, God poured out on the Egyptians plague after plague that systematically decimated their farms, their water sources, their economy, their infrastructure, their physical health, their ability to sleep, their capacity to spend any time outdoors. They ran out of food, and eventually, even their first born babies – both human and animal – died right up to the household of Pharaoh himself.
Every time Pharaoh agreed, he just as quickly reneged which resulted in another plague. The Egyptian magicians who thought they were so clever because they were able to replicate the first few signs quickly changed their minds, realising they were no match for the power and might of the God of the Hebrews.
Ten plagues in total Egypt suffered through, ten plagues that left the nation of Egypt decimated.
Just before God sent the final plague, which was the death of every first born, God gave explicit instructions to His people about the meal they were to eat and what preparations they were required to make.
In order to ensure the Hebrews escaped this plague, they were required to take a first born male lamb from their flocks, it had to be flawless…perfect and without blemish of any kind. At a specific time they were to kill the lamb and drain all the blood from its body and paint the blood on the doorpost and top beam of the doorframe of their homes so that when the angel of death made its way through the land, it would see the blood and ‘pass over’ that home leaving everyone inside alive.
They had to remove every trace of leaven from their homes, they had to roast the lamb and leave none of it till morning, they were to eat unleavened bread and bitter herbs along with the lamb and they were to eat it in a hurry, with their travelling clothes on, their shoes on their feet as though they were ready to hurry out the door as soon as the signal to leave was given.
That night, on the 14th Nisan on the Hebrew Calendar, each Jewish home removed every trace of leaven, the lamb was slain, it’s blood painted on the door frame of their homes, it was then roasted and every other detail given them was obeyed. Nothing of the feast from that night was wasted and if they couldn’t consume it all, they burned it all completely so that nothing was wasted or left over. And then they waited.
By the dawning of the following day, there was great mourning and sorrow throughout the land of Egypt because every first born child – human and animal – was dead. The final plague was over and the Egyptians were broken.
By the end of this drama, the Egyptians couldn’t wait for the Jews to leave and whatever wealth they had left, be it gold, silver, jewellery, fabrics…whatever it was, they gladly handed it to the Jews and begged them to leave. They saw firsthand that the God of the Jews was far more powerful than their own gods and goddesses and they couldn’t cope.
The Jewish people were free, they were granted redemption and liberation, set free from their slavery to their cruel Egyptian taskmasters and were now free to worship the One True God whose power they had seen with their own eyes, deliver them from their enemies. Sign after sign…plague after plague sent against their enemies and finally redemption as death passed over them granting them new life.
This incredible deliverance by God became the first of the seven mandatory feasts that the people were expected to celebrate every year. The way Jewish people celebrate Passover today is very different to the original celebration. Firstly, they’re not wandering in the wilderness. Secondly, they no longer have a Temple to make pilgrimage to. Thirdly, half of all the world’s Jews are still living in the Diaspora and have had to adapt their celebration to their environment, much the same way that Judaism has adapted itself because they no longer have a Temple.
Listen to Mandy’s full message on Foundations below: