(Recommended reading: Exodus 11 & 12 – Quoted scripture is from the Living New Testament)
Sundown tonight – April 8, 2020 – marks the beginning of the celebration of Passover week. It is one of the major holidays/celebrations for Jewish people around the world – ending at sundown on April 16.
The original Passover was the Jewish celebration of God’s liberation for them from slavery – they had been slaves to the Egyptians for hundreds of years. God had directed Moses and his brother Aaron to go to the Pharaoh and demand that he release the Israelites. Needless to say, Pharaoh was not keen on this idea and his resistance caused many difficulties to befall his land and the people there. Finally, after there had been nine terrible plagues inflicted upon the Egyptians, an ominous warning was given to Pharaoh about a tenth plague coming his way. Death was going to visit them killing the first born male – man and animal throughout the whole land. But, he again chose to ignore them – blowing it off – probably believing that their many gods would save them.
So God directed Moses to give the Israelites some very specific instructions of how to prepare their homes and themselves for the final blow to the Egyptians that would result in their freedom. One of the things they were to do is prepare a lamb for their dinner and they were to take some of the blood of that lamb and put it around the door of their home. (Lambs were very important to the sacrificial system in the Old Testament. They were killed and sacrificed for the atoning of their sins.) Then that evening when death moved through the land killing the first born males in all the Egyptian homes, it passed over the homes that had the blood of the lamb on their door – thus the name “Passover”.
So to my Jewish friends, I wish you a Gut Yontiff and Chag Sameach. (For my non-Jewish friends those greetings mean Good Day and Happy Holiday.)
For those of us that are Christian rather than Jewish, how does Passover relate to us? Well, as the Israelites were slaves to the Egyptians we are slaves to sin. In order to rid ourselves of the eternal consequences of sin we need to recognize Jesus Christ as our Savior. His express purpose for coming from heaven to earth – giving up his heavenly status and taking on the body and life of man – was to save sinners. (“For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” Romans 6:23)
Jesus was referred to as the “Lamb of God”. (“The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, “Look! There is the Lamb of God who takes away the world’s sin!” John 1:29 / “Jesus walked by. John looked at Him intently and then declared, “See! There is the Lamb of God!” John 1:36 / “Christ, God’s Lamb, has been slain for us.” 1 Corinthians 5:7b / “God paid a ransom to save you from the impossible road to heaven which your fathers tried to take, and the ransom He paid was not mere gold or silver as you very well know. But He paid for you with the precious lifeblood of Christ, the sinless, spotless Lamb of God. God chose Him for this purpose long before the world began…” 1 Peter 1:18-20a.)
Jesus lived a holy life with no sin yet He died on a cross like a criminal – suffering solely for us, shedding His blood to atone for our sins. So Passover is a time when Chistians should reflect and remember that Christ was the Lamb that was sacrificed to save us from ourselves and our lives of sin – to give us spiritual freedom. (“For God loved the world so much that He gave His only Son so that anyone who believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.” John 3:16)
I have to confess that I have never really paid much attention to Passover before as a celebration for me as a Christian. I thought it was more for my Jewish friends. But as I began to study it more deeply, I realized how wrong I have been and how I should set aside a time to contemplate all that it really means for me.
This year – right at this moment – our world is battling a plague that has spread quickly and many have lost their lives. We have been subjected to living in solitary in an attempt to protect ourselves from the invisible enemy of COVID-19. It is a difficult time for everyone. But I have to say that even with all of this going on around me and the constant barrage of negative predictions I have felt absolutely no fear or apprehension – I am fully at peace. I have tried to do my part and to stay sensible; but I refuse to let anxiety rule my life, living in fear for tomorrow.
I truly believe in my heart that we are going to see the end of this ordeal sooner rather than later. I believe we are going to come out the other side of this smarter and better off in many ways. Not all the corrections that will be necessary will happen right away, it obviously will take time, but in the long run we will be better off. We just need to stay faithful and keep praying for God’s mercy and protection. His timing is always perfect, so let us just be patient and wait.
Happy Passover everyone!
P.S. I am going to place some red ribbons on my front door starting at sunset April 8 and will leave it there until sundown April 16 paying homage to Passover. Why don’t you consider doing something like that too?
Written by Karran Martin – April 7, 2020