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Christ in the Passover #3

The Night to be Observed

                         CHRIST IN THE PASSOVER #3


A NIGHT TO BE MUCH OBSERVED


     Delivered from the plague of death by the blood of the
Passover lamb, the children of Israel greeted the dawn of their
redemption with new trust born of experience. The night before,
they were timid slaves cowering behind locked doors. Now they
threw open their doors and windows to the morning sun and
rejoiced in their deliverance. Awed by the power of the Almighty
that had protected them from the death angel, they were ready to
follow Moses, His servant.
     That very morning, the Egyptians, fearful of Jehovah's
further wrath, begged the Hebrews to leave the country
immediately. There was no time to prepare food for the journey.
The Israelites bound up their unleavened dough, still in the
kneading bowls, and strapped it to their backs. With this meager
supply of food, they set out from Egypt with their wives, their
little ones, their aged, their flocks, and all they possessed.
They left nothing behind, and their beasts of burden were weighed
down with the riches pressed upon them by their frightened
Egyptian neighbors.

(Not quite as given above. The Israelites first moved to Rameses;
they left from there to start their treck out of boundaries of
Egypt. All fully explained in my many studies on the Passover -
Keith Hunt)

     Four hundred and thirty years earlier, seventy people had
come into the land of the pharaohs with Jacob. This day a mighty
throng, the hosts of Jehovah, went out. The Bible records that
six hundred thousand men left Egypt. Their mothers, wives, and
children surely swelled their numbers to almost two million.
(Could have been 3 or more million, families tended to be large
in number in that period of history, and in ages of time after
this Exodus - Keith Hunt). This newly formed nation would wander
in the desert for forty years. A whole generation would grow old
and die before they entered Canaan, the land that flowed with the
milk of goats and the honey of figs. But they relied on God's
promise that it would come to pass, and they already had His
instructions.

"And this day shall be unto you for a memorial; and ye shall keep
it a feast to the Lose throughout your generations; ye shall keep
it a feast by an ordinance for ever" (Exodus 12:14).

"And it shall come to pass, when ye be come to the land which the
LORD will give you, according as he hath promised, that ye shall
keep this service. And ... when your children shall say unto you,
What mean ye by this service? That ye shall say, It is the
sacrifice of the LORD'S passover, who passed over the houses of
the children of Israel in Egypt, when he smote the Egyptians, and
delivered our houses" (Exodus 12:25-27).

"It is a night to be much observed ... of all the children of
Israel in their generations" (Exodus 12:42).

"And thou shalt show thy son in that day, saying, This is done
because of that which the Lord did unto me when I came forth out
of Egypt" (Exodus 13:8).


OBSERVED

     The word "observed" used in Exodus 12:42 comes from the
Hebrew root shamar, which means "watch." Even as the Lord kept
watch over the blood-protected homes of the children of Israel on
that first Passover, they, in turn, were to keep watch on each
annual Passover night of remembrance. It was to be a memorial
forever.

     To the early Hebrew fathers, a memorial was more than a
grave marker or a milestone to indicate time or space. They used
the memorial to bring to mind or authenticate important events.
Throughout the book of Genesis, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob built
altars or placed markers at the sites where God had appeared to
them. These markers stood as reminders of God's promises to the
seed of Abraham: to make of them a great nation; to give them a
land; to make them a blessing to all people.

     Now God commanded the annual memorial of the Passover
observance so that His people might reflect regularly upon all
that He had done for them. When they would come into the promised
land and partake of its goodness, they were to remember the Lord.
They were to rehearse and retell the events of the great
redemption He had wrought for their fathers. They were to rejoice
in His past and present blessings, and look forward to what He
would yet do for and through them.

     God gave specific regulations for this celebration of the
anniversary of redemption.

1. All the congregation of Israel must keep the Passover (Exodus
12:47).

2. They must not allow any stranger to eat the Passover, that is,
no one who was uncircumcised or outside the covenant (Exodus
12:43-45).

3. They must eat the Passover in one house, that is, a lamb for a
household. The household could be more than one family, as long
as they came together under one roof (Exodus 12:46).

4. They must eat the Passover sacrifice entirely in one night,
not leaving any for the morning (Exodus 34:25).


5. They must put away all leaven from their tables and from their
houses for seven days (Exodus 13:6-7).

6. They must offer the blood of the sacrifice without leaven
(Exodus 34:25).

7. They must not break any bones of the Passover lamb (Exodus
12:46).

8. They must sacrifice the Passover only at the place appointed
by God (Deuteronomy 16:5-6).

9. All the males of the congregation must appear before the Lord
at Passover time (Exodus 23:17, 34:23).


HOUSE HOLD OF FAITH ONLY

     Only those who were of the household of faith could
participate in the Passover festival of redemption. If Gentile
visitors or servants wanted to share in the memorial, they first
had to become Jews, that is, undergo circumcision, which would
make them part of the covenant. The fulfillment of God's promise
to Abraham, that in his seed (the Messiah) all the nations of the
earth would be blessed, has done away with that kind of
restriction. Now all those who trust in Israel's Messiah for
redemption belong to the new covenant of grace. They have
undergone circumcision of the heart (Jeremiah 31:31-33) and are
eligible to celebrate the new memorial. As Paul wrote to the
Ephesian believers, the Gentiles, who at one time were "aliens
from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants
of promise," are now by faith in Jesus, the Lamb of God, "no more
strangers and foreigners, but fellow-citizens with ... the
household of God" (Ephesians 2:12,19).
     But now the problem is reversed. As Israel celebrated the
memorial of redemption from Egypt, now there is an even greater
redemption to commemorate: forgiveness of sin and new life
through Jesus, God's perfect Lamb. Now God's people only in the
flesh must submit to circumcision of the heart and be brought
under the new covenant in order to have a part in the memorial of
that greater redemption.

     After those instructions concerning Passover at the time of
the Exodus, the Scriptures record only one actual observance
during the forty years of the wilderness journey. Numbers 9:1-14
describes a Passover celebration on the fourteenth day of the
first month in the second year after the departure from Egypt,
"according to all that the LORD commanded Moses" (v.5). At that
time God made provision through Moses for a second or "minor
Passover," as rabbinical commentaries later called it. Anyone who
was ceremonially unclean or who had been away on a journey on the
fourteenth day of the first month, the regularly appointed time,
could instead celebrate the Passover on the fourteenth day of the
second month.


     No other Passover celebration is recorded in the Bible until
we read of the children of Israel's coming into the land of
Canaan. This lapse was probably due to the problem of
circumcision. Joshua 5:5 seems to indicate that they suspended
the law regarding circumcision during the wilderness journeys,
possibly because of the dangers of infection. Then, as the older
generation died in the desert, no one was left who had been
circumcised, and no one was eligible to carry out the Passover
memorial.

(NOT CORRECT AT ALL HERE! The answer is found in Numbers 14:26-
35. Note especially verse 29. The ones to die in the winderness
during that 40 years was from the age of 20 and above!! [Ah, the
poor study and reading of the Bible, leads many into false
ideas]. This still left many who could partake of the Passover
all during those 40 years of wilderness wandering. The Tabernacle
was built, the Priesthood was formed. There is no reason at all
to assume the Feasts of the Lord were not ALL observed in the
wilderness, albeit not the same way as when they settled in
the land of promise, but God had told them how the Feasts were
to be observed once in the Holy Land. The basic observing of
the Feasts of the Lord could well be observed in the wilderness
 - Keith Hunt)

     In Joshua 5:7-9, the first thing that the Lord commanded
Joshua when the Hebrews came into the land was the circumcision
of all the males who had been born in the wilderness. Thus, the
Lord "rolled away the reproach of Egypt" (v.9), and the children
of Israel kept the Passover on the fourteenth day of the month in
their new homeland.

     Second Kings 23:22 records that after Joshua's death, from
the time of the judges until the time of the several reforms in
the kingdom of Judah, there had not been such a great Passover
observance. The people, who once had heard God's thundering voice
from the holy mountain, had listened to the voice of temptation
and had fallen into idolatry. Passover was undoubtedly observed
during the time of Samuel and in the reigns of David and Solomon,
and occasionally after the united kingdom divided; on the whole,
however, the Word of God was not in the Israelites during most of
that period, so they were not seeking to follow God's
commandments concerning Passover or anything else. But then their
hearts were stirred by revival.

     The writer of 2 Chronicles tells of two such revivals and
the Passover celebrations that immediately followed. One happened
in the reign of King Hezekiah (726 B.C.), and the other during
the reign of King Josiah (621 B.C.).
     Second Chronicles 30 records the Passover of Hezekiah. The
king ordered the priests and Levites to cleanse and rededicate
the Temple and to sanctify the altar. He sent letters to all the
people in Israel, Judah, Ephraim, and Manasseh to come up to the
house of the Lord in Jerusalem to celebrate the Passover. As a
result, a great revival took place, and the people kept the Feast
of Unleavened Bread with much gladness and singing. So great was
their joy that they kept the feast for an additional seven days
after the first seven. The Scriptures say there was not such
great joy in Jerusalem since the days of Solomon; the Lord heeded
their prayers and healed their backsliding.
     Second Chronicles 35:1-17 tells of the Passover celebration
after reform and revival under King Josiah. Verse 18 of this
chapter records the fact that there had been no Passover
celebration of this magnitude since the days of Samuel the
prophet, "neither did all the kings of Israel keep such a
passover.

     Then, in 586 B.C., the king of Babylon destroyed the Temple
and carried the people away into exile. In Babylon, the children
of Israel were once again strangers in a foreign land. Perhaps
their circumstances reminded them of their ancestors' bondage in
Egypt. But if this prompted them to keep the Passover, we have no
record of how they observed it.

     Further scriptural mention of the Passover is in Ezra 6:19.
After the return from Babylon, the Israelites rebuilt the Temple
and "the children of the captivity kept the passover upon the
fourteenth day of the first month."
     At that time, not all the Jewish people returned to the
land. Some stayed in Babylon, where they had built businesses and
made new lives for themselves; others migrated and formed small
Jewish communities throughout the civilized world. Ancient
records bear out the fact that in those days the exiles observed
Passover as a permanent part of Jewish religious life. They could
not sacrifice the Passover lamb unless they made a pilgrimage to
Jerusalem, but they did keep the other two important precepts of
the holiday they purged all leaven from their households, and
they ate unleavened read for seven days.     

     Thus, throughout the history of the children of Israel, the
Passover celebration, or the neglect of it, stood out as a
thermometer indicating the Jewish community's spiritual
condition. Under the rule of the kings, decadence from within
affected the people's religious commitment. In the
intertestamental period (c. 400 B.C. to A.D. 50), persecution and
oppression by their Gentile conquerors spurred the Jewish people
to renewed spiritual fervor, for they esteemed most highly what
they were in danger of losing.

     For the next historical mention of the Passover, one must
look to the noncanonical writings of the intertestamental period.

     The Book of Jubilees (second century B.C.) speaks of the
offering of the Paschal lamb at Jerusalem. It emphasizes both the
formal procedures and the expressions of praise and joy of the
Passover festival of that period. Pilgrimages were made to
Jerusalem to keep the Passover, and other appointed feasts of
Jehovah played an important role in Jewish religious life.
As time went on, each learned rabbi, and each succeeding
generation of his disciples, added customs and traditions to
embellish the Passover celebration. Nevertheless, the underlying
theme always remained the same: the Almighty had brought freedom
and new life to His people, Israel, through His supernatural
power.

     The memory of that miracle-filled redemption occupied the
people's minds and hearts at Passover. The tangible, visible
symbol of that memorial was the solemn sacrifice of the Paschal
lamb at the Temple in Jerusalem. As the Jews celebrated Passover
during those years of uncertainty and change, hope ran high that
soon the Messiah would come to vanquish the Roman oppressor, even
as the Lord had brought deliverance from the wicked pharaoh in
days of old.


                          .......................


To be continued

Note:

This "night to be observed" is clearly talking about the Passover
night, NOT the following night of the 15th, but the night of the
14th. It was taught incorrectly by the old WCG (and probably is
by many off-shoots from the WCG). The night to be much observed
is the Passover night as the context clearly shows.

Keith Hunt


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