The History of Passover and Celebrating it Today
The end of 400 years of slavery
Everyone has been so excited! We’ve been bumping into each other all day as we’ve hurried to get our things together, packed into carts, ready to go. Is this really happening? Are we truly leaving Egypt, escaping our slavery to Pharaoh? Our people have been here for 400 years. I have always been a slave. It’s all I’ve known. There are over a million of us now. No wonder Pharaoh doesn’t want to let us go – what will he do without the forced labor of our Hebrew hands?
Moses – he’s a Hebrew like the rest of us, but he actually grew up in Pharaoh’s own house and was raised by Pharaoh’s daughter – this Moses has told us to be ready to go because God is going to deliver us and set us free. To tell you the truth, I wondered if the God of our fathers had forgotten us. But now? Things have been happening lately that no one can explain. Now I know – our God has not forgotten us!
Moses has been raising his staff and bringing down plagues on all of Egypt, demanding that Pharaoh set us free. I remember him saying God was going to use him to liberate us. That was before he left us 40 years ago, and now he’s back, doing all these wonders. “Let my people go!” he tells Pharaoh. And each time Pharaoh says no, some new catastrophe happens in Egypt – swarms of flies, locusts, boils, fierce hail, all the livestock dying. And the frogs! We heard they were just everywhere so that the Egyptians could hardly take a step. They were in their houses, in their beds, even in their ovens and kneading bowls. Oh, and the Nile! The Nile River turned to blood! All the water became blood, even what was stored in vessels! There was no water to drink and all the fish died. That was right at the beginning, and you’d think that would have been enough.
At times, Pharaoh told Moses to just take us all and get out of here, but then he always recanted. Doesn’t he realize he’s up against God Almighty? Especially since all these plagues only happened in Egypt? Here in Goshen, where all of us Hebrews live, there was nothing. We’ve been spared. You’d think Pharaoh would get a clue. Such a hard heart is in that man!
The word is, tonight’s going to be the worst, most horrible plague of all. God is going to strike every household in Egypt and the first born of every family is going to die. This plague is so powerful that we’ve been told what to do in order to be protected from it.
We’re to take an unblemished lamb, worthy of sacrifice because of its perfection and purity. We’re to keep it in the house, living with us, for four days. We’ve grown rather fond of the innocent little thing these last four days. It won’t be pleasant to do what we must at twilight today. We must sacrifice the lamb and brush some of its blood onto the doorposts and lintel of our homes. When the angel of death comes over the land, he’ll see the blood covering our households and pass over us, saving us from the death. Every household not covered by the blood will be visited by death.
It’s evening now. The blood is on our doorposts, and we’re eager and anxious at the same time. Every few minutes, one of us abruptly turns wide-eyed toward the roof or street. “What was that? Did you hear something?” A fearsome death is going to come over Egypt tonight like never before, and the dreadfulness of it
will pass right over us. We have no idea what that will look like, how it will happen. We’re acutely attuned to every sound and nuance of the world outside our door tonight. At the same time, our beaten-down souls hear the whisper that freedom is near, and hope is dancing inside us.
There’s no time tonight even for our bread to rise. We’re to eat roasted lamb, unleavened bread, and bitter herbs. Moses told us that God specifically instructed us to eat this meal in a hurry. That must mean our freedom could come at any moment! “With your loins girded, your shoes on your feet, and your staff in your hand,” God said. “You are to eat it in haste. It is the Lord’s Passover.”
So, we’re ready! We sit down for our hurried but sacred meal. The lamb we partake of tonight died to give us his blood and save us from death. In spite of the rush, the weight of this sacrifice presses on my heart.
The bitter taste of our slavery is almost over, and we expectantly watch for our liberation.
Celebrating Passover today
“Why is this night different from every other night?” the question is asked at Passover tables today. Remembering is important to God. Through His ordained feasts and all through Scripture, God calls us to remember. Over and over, He told Israel to remember that they were slaves and that He brought them out of Egypt.
Passover remembers what God did for Israel in the land where they were slaves. Even then, Passover pointed forward to Yeshua (Jesus) who would become our perfect Passover Lamb (1 Corinthians 5:7), sacrificed to cover our sin. “Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world,” John the Immerser cried out when he saw Yeshua (John 1:29). Three and a half years later, Yeshua ate His Last Supper commemorating God’s great act of deliverance the night before the exodus from Egypt, and marking the great act of eternal salvation He would accomplish for us when He shed His own blood for all mankind the next day.
We remember, O God. And we thank You with all of our hearts!