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.)

When We’re Called to Let Go

He had it all. Every comfort you could imagine. The best of Egypt at his fingertips. The latest technology, the fastest chariots, the choicest of fruits, servants, wealth, prestige, power, fame. He said it and it was done. He asked for it and it was delivered.

Devotional Scripture: Acts 7:17-29; Hebrews 11:23-27
Key Verse: “He considered the reproach of Christ greater wealth than the treasures of Egypt, for he was looking to the reward.” Hebrews 11:26

401 Easy Street, is where Moses resided. In the shimmering, cool, palace of an elite world power. Adopted as the son of Pharaoh’s daughter it’s even possible he was next in line for the throne.

Yet Hebrews 11:24 tells us he refused it. He “refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter, choosing rather to be mistreated with the people of God than to enjoy the fleeting pleasures of sin” (Heb. 11:24-25). Considering “the reproach of Christ greater wealth than the treasures of Egypt, for he was looking to the reward” (Heb. 11:26).

Counting the luxuries he’d been handed as nothing, he exchanged the palace for a tent, riches for a relationship, honor for dishonor, affluence for affliction, ample amenities for very few, the royal robes of Egypt for a shepherd’s coat

Would you have done it? Would you have left the lap of luxury for a seat at the commoner’s table? I don’t know if I would have. In all honesty, I’ve stumbled through the text this week for fear of what lies on the other side. What sacrifice I might be called to make.

Because the truth is, I like my comforts and conveniences. Don’t you? Nestled amid the amenities of the palace I know the conversation I would have been having with Jesus. “LORD, please, can’t I just serve you from here? I have money for the poor. I have power. I have influence. I’ll use them for your glory. I promise.” There’s no doubt in my mind I would have hung on.

But Moses didn’t. Considering the reward much greater than the cost, he gave it all up. And he did so by faith. (Hebrews 11:24 – The same way we’re to do it.) Taught by his parents, grandparents, siblings, or maybe God himself, Moses took God at his word and believed it.

You know who else exchanged affluence for affliction? Jesus. “Who though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men” (Phil 2:6-7).

Humbling himself he exchanged the throne for a stable, the royal robes of heaven for some simple swaddling, the brilliance of glory for no form of majesty, the table of heaven for a seat with commoners, the praise of angels for the rejection of men, a crown of splendor for that of thorns, fellowship with God for the wrath of sin. Obedient to the point of death, that we might live.

How’d he do it? Much the same as Moses. He looked ahead. He looked to God. He looked to heaven. Enduring the cross “for the joy that was set before him” (Heb. 12:2).

Handing the hope of heaven to us who can’t get there. Weaving grace into the fabric of human hearts. Offering peace and reconciliation to a people apart from God. Giving us who come with nothing of eternal value, every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places. (Eph. 1:3) And an inheritance we can’t even fathom.

“But as it is written in the Scriptures: “No one has ever seen this. No one has ever heard about it. No one has ever imagined what God has prepared for those who love him” (Is. 64:4, ICB).

It’s too great. Too wonderful for us to wrap around. Take beauty and go a step further. Take marvelous and magnify it. Take superb and marry it to delightful and you’ve got a small piece of our future in Christ Jesus.

Therefore, we can let go. We can sacrifice. Whether it simply be time or money or the life we thought we wanted. The way we thought things would be. The dream we felt sure we needed. The career. The plan. Or the life of ease and convenience we’ve grown comfortable in.

We can humble ourselves. We can be obedient to the call of God, even if it means running in a direction the world never would. Keeping before us the reproach of Christ, because the reward is far greater than the cost. The Savior far greater than the sacrifice.

Moses gave up much to gain more. And because of his willingness he experienced an intimacy with Christ so spectacular his face radiated with God’s glory. (I want that.)

But it took time. And a path he never expected. Are you willing? If and when God calls us to let go, let’s do so in faith my friend, for the riches of our King are far greater than that of this kingdom. And the surpassing worth of experiencing Christ a treasure like none other.

“But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord” (Phil. 3:7).

In obedience we gain immeasurably more than we could ever lose. Be faithful my friend, be faithful.

Contemplate and Evaluate:
Have you been busy counting the cost or the reward? I often get caught up in the cost. What is God calling you to let go of today? Are you willing?