God loves His people. His eyes are ever-watching, and His ears are continually attentive to our cries. He saw the suffering of His people in Egypt, and He heard their cries for relief.
“God said, ‘I’ve taken a good, long look at the affliction of my people in Egypt. I’ve heard their cries for deliverance from their slave masters; I know all about their pain. And now I have come down to help them, pry them loose from the grip of Egypt, get them out of that country and bring them to a good land with wide-open spaces, a land lush with milk and honey, the land of the Canaanite, the Hittite, the Amorite, the Perizzite, the Hivite, and the Jebusite’” (Exodus 3:7-8 MSG).
Today, Passover is a celebration of remembrance of God’s deliverance. It is ultimately God’s loving response to His people, the Hebrews. He saw their affliction and torment. He listened to their weeping and mourning for deliverance.
The Lord released ten plagues of judgment upon Egypt when they refused to let the Hebrews take a three-day journey to worship their God. The 10th plague was the plague of death.
God said, “I will go through the land of Egypt on this night and strike down every firstborn in the land of Egypt, whether human or animal, and bring judgment on all the gods of Egypt. I am God. The blood will serve as a sign on the houses where you live. When I see the blood I will pass over you—no disaster will touch you when I strike the land of Egypt” (Exodus 12:12-13 MSG).
God commanded the Hebrews to remember and celebrate the Passover through the generations. As the time to celebrate Passover draws near, here are five things you MUST KNOW about Passover.
- THE IMPORTANCE OF MEMORY
The Irish Catholic writer Thomas Cahill was so overwhelmed by how the Jewish people literally transformed the world that he authored what proved to become an international bestseller, The Gifts of the Jews. One of the major gifts he credits to Jewish genius is the invention of the idea of history.
In a day of “cancel culture,” God says: REMEMBER.
- Remember that you were “strangers in the land of Egypt.” (Exodus 22:21, Exodus 23:9).
- “Remember that the Lord took you out of the bondage of slavery.
- Remember is a biblical mandate that had never seemed important to anyone else before the Jewish people came on the scene.
It was the Passover story that initiated a commitment to memory. God still commands us to remember:
“For I received from the Lord what I also passed on to you: The Lord Jesus, on the night he was betrayed, took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and said, ‘This is my body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of me.’ In the same way, after supper he took the cup, saying, ‘This cup is the new covenant in my blood; do this, whenever you drink it, in remembrance of me’” (1 Corinthians 11:23-25 NIV).
It’s important to remember what has happened in the past. History is the only way we can learn from the past. History allows us to grow by standing on the shoulders of giants. If we erase it, we won’t learn from it.
Knowing what came before is almost as important in a historical sense as it is in a personal one. Only by being aware of our past as a people can our lives become filled with purpose and meaning. Memory links our past to our future. It turns history into destiny.
- THE IMPORTANCE OF OPTIMISM:
When studying the Passover, you see that the most difficult task Moses had to perform was not to get the Jews out of Egypt but to get Egypt out of the Jews.
Remember, the Hebrews had been enslaved for at least 400 years. Those who experienced the Passover knew no other way of life. They had become so habituated to their status as slaves they couldn’t imagine anything different.
One of the miracles of Passover, and its relevance for the ages, is that with God’s help, no difficulty is insurmountable.
- A tyrant like Pharaoh could be overthrown.
- A nation as powerful as Egypt could be defeated.
- Slaves could become freemen.
- The oppressed could break the shackles of their captivity. ANYTHING IS POSSIBLE—if only we dare to dream the impossible dream.
It was the biblical record of the Exodus that enabled the spirit of optimism to prevail for the followers of Martin Luther King in their quest for equal rights because they were stirred by the vision of Moses leading his people to the Promised Land.
It was the hope engendered by recalling how God redeemed our ancestors that allowed even Jews incarcerated in Auschwitz to furtively celebrate the Festival of Freedom and believe in the possibility of their own liberation.
A pessimist, it’s been said, is someone who has no invisible means of support. Jewish OPTIMISM is rooted in a contrary notion, a firmly held belief that they are blessed with support from above by a caring God.
- THE IMPORTANCE OF FAITH
Did you know that FAITH in a personal God can give you faith in yourself, in the future, and in your ability to change the world?
The God of Sinai didn’t say, “I am the Lord your God who created the heavens and the earth.” Instead, he announced, “I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage” (Exodus 20:2 NKJV).
The God of Creation could theoretically have forsaken the world once he completed his task, but the God of the Exodus made it clear that He is constantly involved in our history and is committed to our survival as people of faith.
The Passover story conveys that history is not a happenstance. It follows a Divine master plan. It has a predestined order. The Hebrew word for “order” is “seder.” That’s why the first meal of the festival is called a Seder.
Coincidence is NOT a Jewish concept. Coincidence is just God’s way of choosing to remain anonymous.
Faith gives us the certainty that despite our present-day problems, history moves in the direction of redemption.
- THE IMPORTANCE OF FAMILY
Passover taught us the importance of family. God built His nation by asking Jews to turn their homes into places of family worship at a Seder devoted primarily to answering the questions of children.
Could it be that simple?
Children are our future. They require our attention. The home is where we first form our identities and discover our values. It is in our homes that we sow the seeds of the future and ensure our continuity.
The first letter of the Torah is a bet, the letter whose meaning is house. God cares about family. It’s of primary importance to Him.
- THE IMPORTANCE OF RESPONSIBILITY TO OTHERS
One serious question begs to be asked as we celebrate our Divine deliverance from the slavery of Egypt. We thank God for getting us out, but why did God allow us to become victims of such terrible mistreatment in the first place?
- The Jewish people were slaves in Egypt, and so they have empathy for the downtrodden in every generation. Your greatest ministry comes from the places you have bled in life.
- We are called to be servants—to take care of the hurting, widows, orphans, fatherless, and to combat injustice.
- When you experience oppression, you understand more than anyone else the pain of the oppressed.
- The purpose of any of our suffering is to turn us into people who are committed to righting the wrongs of the world and partnering with God to forth His redemption on the earth. (See 1 Peter 4:12-14).
When we remember the deliverance of the past, we can have faith and hope for the future. And what is the future? Our children. You don’t have to have your own children to help train and raise up the next generation to love and follow hard after God. It’s part of our responsibility. We can help the upcoming generation gain wisdom from our experiences, not to shelter them from pain but to awaken compassion and mercy within them.
The upcoming holy season of Passover –is the first of God’s three biblically significant commanded feast seasons or celebrations instituted by God himself to eternally honor Him: Passover, Pentecost and Tabernacles. They are God’s Appointed Holy Days with specific instructions by Him for their observance as recorded in Deuteronomy 16:16:
“Three times a year all your males (and females) shall appear before the Lord your God in the place which He chooses: at the Feast of Unleavened Bread,(Passover) at the Feast of Weeks (Pentecost), and at the Feast of Tabernacles (Atonement); and THEY SHALL NOT APPEAR BEFORE THE LORD EMPTY-HANDED.”
Passover begins at sundown on April 5th! Why is this commanded appointment so important to us as Christians? Passover is a foundational pillar of our faith and a set time for celebration on God’s heavenly calendar for our release from the struggles and bondages of the past and the freedom that can only be found in Christ Jesus. Passover is a vital part of our faith story!
In Exodus 12:13 God declared: “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.”
God told Moses in Exodus 12:24: “And you shall observe this thing as an ordinance forever!”