An Everlasting Ordinance
A good friend once told me, “You Christians have it so easy.” And, he was right! As I listened to his description of intense preparations for Passover, our family’s spring cleaning and yard work before Palm Sunday paled by comparison. As our Jewish friends, neighbors and co-workers gather to celebrate Passover, their homes will be sparkling-clean and completely free of any leaven, which is not an easy task.
A special dinner will be served at sundown on Erev Pesach (Eve of Passover) with a week of kosher-for-Passover menus planned. Since anything that has the potential to be leavened is removed for the eight-day celebration, shopping for kosher-for-Passover consumables, household products and even small appliances is not just labor intensive, but an expected expense.
The Hebrew Scriptures contain the original account of God’s directive to the nation of Israel via Moses for the celebration of Passover:
“Now the Lord spoke to Moses and Aaron in the land of Egypt, saying, ‘This month shall be your beginning of months; it shall be the first month of the year to you.
Speak to all the congregation of Israel, saying: ‘On the tenth of this month every man shall take for himself a lamb, according to the house of his father, a lamb for a household.
And if the household is too small for the lamb, let him and his neighbor next to his house take it according to the number of the persons; according to each man’s need you shall make your count for the lamb. Your lamb shall be without blemish, a male of the first year. You may take it from the sheep or from the goats.
Now you shall keep it until the fourteenth day of the same month. Then the whole assembly of the congregation of Israel shall kill it at twilight. And they shall take some of the blood and put it on the two doorposts and on the lintel of the houses where they eat it.
Then they shall eat the flesh on that night; roasted in fire, with unleavened bread and with bitter herbs they shall eat it. Do not eat it raw, nor boiled at all with water, but roasted in fire—its head with its legs and its entrails. You shall let none of it remain until morning, and what remains of it until morning you shall burn with fire. And thus you shall eat it: with a belt on your waist, your sandals on your feet, and your staff in your hand. So you shall eat it in haste. It is the Lord’s Passover.
For I will pass through the land of Egypt on that night, and will strike all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, both man and beast; and against all the gods of Egypt I will execute judgment: I am the Lord. Now 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 the plague shall not be on you to destroy you when I strike the land of Egypt.
So this day shall be to you a memorial; and you shall keep it as a feast to the Lord throughout your generations.
You shall keep it as a feast by an everlasting ordinance.’”
God first referred to the descendants of Jacob as “the whole congregation of Israel” in His detailed instructions to Moses (v.3). The children of Israel had entered Egypt a family of 70 (Gen. 46:27). They left Egypt as a nation of more than two million people. (1)
That the Jewish people have carefully adhered to God’s requirement to communicate the message of Passover to successive generations authenticates the historic event that also marks the founding of the nation of Israel some 3,500 years ago.
Without a doubt, God’s Chosen People have faithfully commemorated the first Passover as commanded in the Hebrew Scriptures. The celebration of Passover today confirms that the Jewish people continue to observe the feast as an everlasting ordinance. Just take a look in your local market. Kosher-for Passover foods are available everywhere at this time of year.
I think you’ll agree. The greatest miracle of Passover transcends the spectacular events of the Exodus. Each Jewish family celebrating the everlasting ordinance of Passover confirms God’s miraculous preservation of His Chosen People. (2)
1) When the Israelites left Egypt, the biblical record indicates there were approximately 600,000 men (Ex. 12:37). The Hebrew word for men comes from Gabar indicating a warrior or valiant man. This is confirmed two years after leaving Egypt when Moses took an official census of the men, “from twenty years old and above—all who are able to go to war in Israel” (Num. 1:3). The number of men meeting Moses’ criteria was 603,550 (Num. 1:45-46). Since conservative estimates suggest that only one in four met this standard, the size of the congregation of Israel leaving Egypt could easily have been 2.4 million people or more.
2) The fact that Israel exists as an identifiable people group thriving in the Promised Land demonstrates that God has preserved His Chosen People, as promised (Deut. 30:1-7; Ps. 105:8-10; Jer. 16:14-15; Ezek. 11:16).
1) A Yemenite Habani family celebrating Passover in their new home in Tel Aviv, April 1, 1946. (Photo credit: By ZOLTAN KLUGER/[CC BY-SA 3.0]/Wikimedia/Enhancement, MKM Portfolios)
Copyright © 2016 Charles E. McCracken, commentary only. Repost/Reprint with permission. Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.