The Treasure of Passover

Digging into God’s word is like going on a guaranteed treasure hunt. You never know what you’re going to get, but you can rest assured it will be well worth the effort.

Devotional Scripture: Exodus 12:7-13, 21-28
Key Verse: “I rejoice at your word like one who finds great spoil.” Psalm 119:162

Sifting through the seemingly insignificant details of the Bible my favorite, because that’s where the real gems are. The ins and outs of Passover, our Scripture today, a fitting example of the spoil to be found.

  1. Selecting the lamb. The Israelites were to select their lamb on the 10th day of the month but it was not to be killed until twilight of the 14th. As such the lamb was appointed unto death before it was slain, just as Christ was, “foreordained before the foundation of the world” (1 Peter 1:19). During that four day period the family inspected the lamb to be sure it was without blemish. Jesus too was inspected prior his death. Interrogated before the high priest and Pilate who in John 18:38 said to the Jews, “I find no guilt in him.”</li
    1. It had to be a lamb without blemish. Because nothing but perfection can satisfy a Holy God. Foreshadowing Christ who though tempted in every way, remained sinless, “A lamb without blemish or spot” (1 Peter 1:19).
    2. The lamb was roasted, not raw or boiled. Boiling the lamb would have taken too long. And raw, besides being disgusting, was a pagan tradition associated with the worship of false gods. But more importantly, the fire represented the lamb enduring the wrath of God, just as God poured his wrath on Christ. “Wounded for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his stripes we are healed…and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all” (Isaiah 53:5-6).
    3. They were to eat the flesh as well: Sound familiar? “So Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man…you have no life in you” (John 6:53).
    4. They were to eat all the lamb. Because Christ did not just sacrifice part of himself.
    5. And nothing was to remain until morning. No leftovers this time, because the sacrifice of the Lamb of God is not an ongoing process. Christ died once for all and it was finished. (Hebrews 9:25-28
    6. They ate it with unleavened bread. Leaven in Scripture, symbolic of sin, was not to be part of this meal. Nor was it allowed for seven days after during the feast of Unleavened Bread. Because when we come to Christ, we’re to leave our life of sin behind and walk thereafter in righteousness.
    7. They ate with bitter herbs. Lest they forgot where they came from! The bondage and persecution the Israelites had suffered in Egypt was unpleasant bitter thing. Yet so was the undeserved crucifixion of our Savior.
    8. They ate ready to go. “With your belt fastened, your sandals on your feet, and your staff in your hand,” Their deliverance at hand they were ready. Ready to go and be a people set apart for God. But the question is, delivered and set free, are we? “Having fastened on the belt of truth” and for shoes, “having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace,” and taken up “the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God” (Gal. 6:14-17), are we ready?

    A meal of fellowship they ate with family and friends. (And still do.) The Passover meal called Seder today traditionally consists of the roasted bone of a lamb, roasted or hard-boiled eggs. Horseradish and/or romaine lettuce for the bitter herbs. And parsley dipped in salt water in place of the hyssop.

    Hyssop being a sturdy bushy plant with minty leaves, it was used at Passover like a paintbrush to apply the blood of the lamb to the outside doorposts. Later it was used to sprinkle blood on people (or things) for ceremonial cleansing. Not surprisingly it was used to offer Jesus sour wine while he hung on the cross as the agent of our cleansing.

    Today’s Seder or Passover meal also consists of Charoset, a mixture of apples, nuts, wine, sugar, and cinnamon. (Resembling a paste. The only sweet food at the meal.) Perhaps a reminder of the sweetness of redemption. Along with three pieces of matso or unleavened bread.

    Traditionally the unleavened bread is placed in a bag with three chambers called an echad, which means one in Hebrew. The matso (unleavened bread) placed in the first chamber is never seen or touched during the meal. The matso placed in the second chamber is broken in half at the start of the meal. One half goes back in the bag and the other is wrapped in a linen cloth. The piece of matso in the third chamber is used to eat the Passover (Seder) meal.

    The piece of matso wrapped in the linen cloth is hidden during the meal as a game for the children who are present. Once they find it, it is held for ransom. A tradition I’m sure many have fond memories of. But it’s also another detail with meaning.

    The echad (the one bag with three chambers), being a picture of the trinity, the piece never seen or touched representing God the Father. The piece broken, with half hidden and placed in a linen cloth, a picture of Christ. (Remember Christ’s words to the disciples, “This is my body broken for you.” His life a ransom for many. Mark 10:45) And the piece eaten with the meal, a picture of the Holy Spirit who indwells the believer.

    Yet the Jewish people traditionally view the three pieces of matso in the echad as representing Abraham, Issac, and Jacob. Though they can’t explain why they break Isaac in half and wrap part of him in a linen cloth.

    I know what you’re thinking (because I’m thinking it too). How could they not see it? Year after year of the Seder meal, matso, and echad, yet still the true meaning slips by the Jewish people.  But how many details have slipped past me? The stories in Scripture something I’ve heard since I was a little girl.

    Romans 11 tells us the LORD has blinded the Jews for a time, handing us an explanation as to why they just don’t see it. But what excuse do we have? God’s word a precious treasure are we seeking it?

    “The unfolding of your words gives light; it imparts understanding to the simple” (Ps. 119:130). Therefore, “I rejoice at your word like one who finds great spoil” (Ps. 119:162).

    Keep digging my friend, and I’ll dig with you. There’s much more treasure to be found.

    Contemplate and Evaluate:
    What details blessed you most regarding the ins and outs of Passover?
    Do you nourish yourself with God’s word? Or is it merely a task or something you get to if there’s time?
    How can you rearrange your schedule to put Christ first?

    (Some of the information I found on the Seder meal came from A website I highly recommend as you dig into the details of Scripture.)

Why The Passover Is As Much Our Backstory As It Was Theirs

Besides parenting and folding a fitted bed sheet and feeding six people breakfast, lunch, and dinner seven days a week, writing has been one of the most challenging things I’ve put my mind to. Sharing details in a succinct manner is not easy. Each new story is like sewing a patchwork quilt. Turning squares this way and that; removing one and replacing it with another; until it looks just right in hopes of producing a “Wow, how lovely,” or “That’s incredible,” or a very special “I need another look,” from anyone who encounters it.

Devotional Scripture: Exodus 11 – 12:7, 13
Key Verse: “For Christ, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed.” 1 Corinthians 5:7b

The problem is, there’s always leftover squares. Details you wanted to include but for the sake of impact and purpose and a story your reader can easily follow, they had to be left out. And let me just tell you, choosing which details stay and which go, is like trying to decide which child gets on the plane with you and which one stays behind. It’s excruciating my friend.

Sometimes an author might add a bonus chapter at the end, filled with all the favorites that just wouldn’t fit in chapter five. Or other times after taking several chapters to lead the reader where they want, the author may pause to tell the backstory, adding in elements that didn’t fit elsewhere.

Which is exactly what Moses does for us in Exodus 11 and 12. After weaving the sovereignty of God through nine plagues, over four chapters, he pauses to give us some backstory.

Verses one and two of chapter eleven filling us in on a conversation Moses likely had with the LORD during the dark hours of the ninth plague where the LORD informs him, “You’re almost done. There’s just one to go.” Allowing Moses to respond with “Fine, no problem,” when Pharaoh says to him after the three days of pitch darkness, “Take care never to see my face again” (10:28).

But before Moses walks out leaving Pharaoh in the dust forever, chapter eleven gives us the rest of the story. Verses 4-9 a continuation of Moses and Pharaoh’s final conversation, we learn Moses gave Pharaoh one final warning. “Thus says the LORD: About midnight I will go out in the midst of Egypt, and every firstborn in the land of Egypt shall die” (11:4-5a).

Midnight! Yikes! Things were happening quickly, wouldn’t you say? Now it’s possible Moses meant midnight tomorrow or midnight in a few days, but it doesn’t say that. The text just says midnight. Leading me to believe there’s mere hours until the grievous final blow against the gods of Egypt.

Which in turn, means Israel was just mere hours from Passover. When the LORD would pass over Israel, instead of striking them with the same deadly plague, as long as the Hebrew household was covered by the blood of the lamb.  (There’s so much symbolism here, I’m giddy!)

But this wasn’t something God sprung on the people the morning before. According to chapter 12 (the backstory), God had been instructing for a few days now and Israel had been preparing. Selecting their male lamb (a year old, without blemish) four days prior to Passover. Separating it from the flock, they checked it over to be sure there were no blemishes. Many probably brought it indoors for those four days, keeping it close, making the sacrifice that much harder. (Think any kiddos grew attached to little lamby?)

Then at twilight on day fourteen, they killed it. At which time they were to use hyssop to place the blood of the lamb on the two doorposts and lintel leading into their homes. Then they were to roast the lamb and eat until it was gone. Any leftovers had to be burned.

When the LORD came that night to Egypt, the blood of the lamb on the doorposts, showed propitiation had been made for the household. Because they weren’t exempt. Ezekiel 20 explains how the Israelites weren’t any better than the Egyptians. They too worshiped idols and whored after false gods (Joshua 24:14). They too were unrighteous and deserving of death, just as we all are. “As it is written: “None is righteous, no, not one” (Rom. 3:10).

But God, for the sake of his glory before the nations and the fulfillment of his promise to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, saved them anyway. Yet he couldn’t just ignore their sin. Payment needed to be made, “for the wages of sin is death” (Rom. 6:23). Thus, God enacted the principle of substitution. In place of the firstborn, was the innocent blood of the lamb.

A backstory we should be well familiar with because we’ve got the same one. I smile not because my day is perfect, but because my Savior is. I have hope not because I’m any good, but because my Savior is. “For Christ, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed” (1 Corinthians 5:7b).

Hebrews 9:22 makes it clear, “Without the shedding of blood, there is no forgiveness of sins.” Therefore, Christ’s blood was shed in our place. That first Passover and the day of Christ’s crucifixion, the blood was a propitiation (an appeasement) of the wrath of God. It’s not that the penalty for our sins was nullified; it’s that the penalty for our sins has been paid. “We have now been justified by his blood” (Romans 5:9).

Not because we deserve it, but that God might be glorified. That those who hear and believe may praise His Holy Name. Along with the angels, in awe of His willingness to die for a wretched people like us.

On that dreadful night in Egypt, when the LORD passed over, it didn’t matter who was in the Israelite home. It didn’t matter if they had a sketchy past or were a strange mix of people. It didn’t matter if they’d messed up yesterday or the day before that. It didn’t matter if they’d struggled and failed yet again to conquer a particular sin. The only thing that mattered, was the covering of the blood of the lamb.

My friend, it’s not going to church that saves us. It’s not being good. It’s not giving to the poor or walking the straight and narrow. What saves us is the covering of the blood of our Passover Lamb, Jesus Christ. It’s the backstory of every believer and it’s always, every day, one hundred percent, perfectly sufficient.

Contemplate and Evaluate:
Are you covered by the blood of Lamb? Romans 10:9 says, “If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.”
If this is your backstory, praise the LORD! Thank Him for his grace and mercy extended to you. And share it! Give someone the extended version today, with all the added details, as to why you smile and why you have hope.

Thanks for studying with me!

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