Thanksgiving, Christmas, Easter, Independence Day, etc. are days when American families gather to celebrate, remembering the significance associated with these holidays.
The God of Israel instituted seven annual feasts and festivals and He commanded His people to gather, remembering their significance. A study of the twenty-third chapter of Leviticus reveals these seven important events in chronological order. These holy-days will be the subject of our studies this week.
“These are the appointed feasts of the LORD, the holy convocations, which you shall proclaim at the time appointed for them. In the first month, on the fourteenth day of the month at twilight, is the LORD’s Passover” (Leviticus 23:4-5, ESV). The first festival each year was Passover.
Passover commemorated the final plague poured out upon Egypt, after Israel had been enslaved there for four-hundred years. There had been nine plagues. Water was turned to blood. Frogs. Gnats. Flies. The death of the livestock. Boils. Hail. Locusts. And utter darkness. The hearts of Egyptians were hardened, so God promised a tenth and final plague, more grievous than the others.
“This is what the Lord says: About midnight I will go throughout Egypt, and every firstborn male in the land of Egypt will die, from the firstborn of Pharaoh who sits on his throne to the firstborn of the servant girl who is at the grindstones, as well as every firstborn of the livestock. Then there will be a great cry of anguish through all the land of Egypt such as never was before or ever will be again” (Exodus 11:4-6, CSB).
But with the plague of God’s wrath came the gift of God’s grace. God provided a way of escape to all who believed.
“Tell the whole community of Israel that on the tenth day of this month they must each select an animal of the flock according to their fathers’ families, one animal per family. ... You must have an unblemished animal, a year-old male; you may take it from either the sheep or the goats. You are to keep it until the fourteenth day of this month; then the whole assembly of the community of Israel will slaughter the animals at twilight. They must take some of the blood and put it on the two doorposts and the lintel of the houses where they eat them.
... I will pass through the land of Egypt on that night and strike every firstborn male in the land of Egypt, both people and animals. I am the Lord; I will execute judgments against all the gods of Egypt. The blood on the houses where you are staying will be a distinguishing mark for you; when I see the blood, I will pass over you. No plague will be among you to destroy you when I strike the land of Egypt” (Exodus 12:3-13, CSB).
The Pharaoh’s oldest son died that night along with every other first-born. Can you imagine the unmuffled screams, the chorus of mourning and crying coming from every Egyptian home? But in the neighborhoods and villages of the Israelites, the blood of the innocent lamb was shed so the life of another would be spared. There was no crying. Safe within their blood-stained homes, the faithful were eagerly anticipating emancipation ... Passover.
So, every year, the nation gathered to commemorate and celebrate life and freedom... Passover.
On the evening before Jesus went to the cross, He gathered his disciples together to celebrate the final Passover. “ ‘I have fervently desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer. For I tell you, I will not eat it again until it is fulfilled in the kingdom of God.’ Then he took a cup ... and said, ‘This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which is poured out for you’ ” (Luke 22:15-20, CSB).
The eternal emancipation proclamation was signed with the blood of the Innocent Lamb at Calvary. “Christ, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed” (1 Corinthians 5:7, ESV). The judgement of God will pass-over.
Every day, every born-again believer awakens to celebrate life and freedom... Passover.