The Lord our God proclaimed a memorial day to honour the day He passed over the land of Egypt in His final push to free the children of Israel from slavery. It was the day for the ultimate plan of execution to effect their freedom from bondage. Prior to this day the Lord had directed Moses, in the company of Aaron, to approach the Pharaoh of Egypt with instructions for him to set the Israelites free. Time and time again, plague after plague, the Pharaoh stood his ground and refused to budge. Thereafter God decided He was to take personal charge of the final battle, with a master plan to ensure a decisive victory for His children.
By PROSPER TINGINI
Exodus 12:1-20 carries God’s words via Moses and Aaron giving birth to the day we have termed the Passover. “This month shall be for you the beginning of months, it shall be the first month of the year for you. Tell all the congregation of Israel that on the tenth day of this month they shall take every man a lamb according to their father’s houses, or lamb for a household; and if the household is too small for a lamb, then a man and his neighbour next to his house shall take according to the number of persons; according to what each can eat you shall make count for the lamb. Your lamb shall be without blemish, a male a year old; and you shall take it from the sheep or from the goats; and you shall keep it until the fourteenth day of this month, when the whole assembly of the congregation of Israel shall kill their lambs in the evening.
Then they shall take some of the blood and put it on the two door posts and the lintels of the houses in which they eat them. They shall eat the flesh that night, roasted; with unleavened bread and bitter herbs they shall eat it. Do not eat its head with its legs and its inner parts. And you shall let none of it remain until the morning anything that remains until the morning you shall burn. In this manner you shall eat it; your loins girded, your sandals on your feet, and your staff in your hand; and you shall eat it in haste. It is the Lord’s Passover. For I will pass through the land of Egypt that night, and I will smite all the first-born in the land of Egypt, both man and beast; and on all the gods of Egypt I will execute judgements. I am the Lord. The blood shall be a sign for you, upon the houses where you are; and when I see the blood, I will pass over you, and no plague shall fall upon you to destroy you, when I smite the land of Egypt.”
It is the sacrificial blood of the lamb that served as a sign for God to bypass all the houses upon which such blood was smeared upon the door posts and lintels. Blood became the symbol for saving people from plagues and destruction. It became the symbol for salvation. In the same vein, we Christians have likened Jesus Christ’s death and the shedding of his blood as our salvation for the forgiveness of our sins. For us, those who believe in Jesus Christ will have their sins forgiven through his death. Consequently, most sections of our Christianity have replaced the Passover Day with our current Easter festivities. Let me refrain from putting my judgement on whether this changeover is the right thing to do or not. I will leave the matter in God’s hands.
In the scriptures, the Passover is also known as the Feast of the Unleavened Bread. This description is as a result of the Lord’s ceremonial guidelines relating to its observance. Exodus 12:14-17 reads: “This day shall be for you a memorial day and you shall keep it as a feast to the Lord; throughout your generations you shall observe it as an ordinance forever. Seven days you shall eat unleavened bread (without yeast); on the first day you shall put away leaven out of your houses, for if anyone eats what is leavened, from the first day until the seventh day that person shall be cut off from Israel. On the first day you shall hold a holy assembly, and on the seventh day a holy assembly; no work shall be done on those days; but what everyone must eat, that only may be prepared by you. And you shall observe the Feast of the Unleavened Bread, for on this very day I brought your hosts out of the land of Egypt; therefore you shall observe this day, throughout your generations, as an ordinance forever.”
The Lord our God clearly stipulated in the first instance that the month which people celebrated the Passover shall be the first month of the year. How come then that this instruction has been disregarded? Can we conclude that this instruction was just meant for the Jews alone? Is this day now of an alien religion? Are our Christian Easter festivals now totally divorced from the Passover Day? Jesus Christ devoutly adhered to the practices of this day.
In the New Testament, the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ is now being used to symbolise the Passover or the Feast of the Unleavened Bread. Although Christ’s death and purpose had already been predetermined centuries before he was conceived, this time satan had a hand in it. Luke 22:1-6 reads: “Now the feast of Unleavened Bread drew near, which is called the Passover. And the chief priests and the scribes were seeking how to put him to death; for they feared the people. Then satan entered into Judas, called Iscariot, who was of the number of the twelve; he went away and conferred with the chief priests and officers how he might betray him to them. And they were glad, and engaged to give him money. So he agreed and sought an opportunity to betray him to them in the absence of the multitude.”
Luke 22:7-8 goes on to say: “Then came the day of Unleavened Bread, on which the Passover lamb had to be sacrificed. So Jesus sent Peter and John saying, ‘Go and prepare the Passover for us, that we may eat it.’ This was to be Jesus’ last supper with his disciples. Thereafter he was betrayed into the hands of his enemies by Judas Iscariot at the behest of satan.”
In Luke 22: 15-16 Jesus spoke to his disciples: “With desire I have desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer. For I say unto you, I will not anymore eat thereof until it is fulfilled in the Kingdom of God.”
They had gathered to celebrate the Passover. Jesus desired to keep this feast alone with his disciples. He knew that his hour had come. He was the true paschal lamb, and on the day the Passover was eaten, he was to be sacrificed. He was about to drink the cup of wrath, soon to receive the final baptism of suffering. The Passover suppers had been occasions of special jubilation, but on this last occasion Jesus was burdened at heart. His disciples knew that something was bothering him but did not know the cause, yet they sympathised with him.
Christ knew that the Passover was also his passover time to depart out of this world into the world of his Father. He was in the shadow of the cross and the pain was torturing his heart. He knew that he would be deserted in the hour of his betrayal. He knew that he would be undergoing the most humiliating process to which criminals were subjected to. He would be put to death under the most inhuman way, nailed alive to the cross.
Having loved His own that were in the world, He loved them unto the end (John 13:1). Let us preserve the memory of the Passover day, and not obliterate it from our calendars.
l Prosper Tingini is the assembly president of the newly-established and registered Children of God Missionary Assembly. As an interdenominational body, we invite all who wish to undertake Bible Studies with a view to be certified as ministers of religion to contact us on 0771 260 195 either by voice, SMS or WhatsApp. Email address: firstname.lastname@example.org