The Passover

by Joseph Hunting

On Thursday March 27th Israel again celebrates the Passover and in so doing commemorates one of the strangest miracles ever wrought in the history of mankind.

The setting for this miracle is the land of Egypt 3,500 years ago. The oppressed and stricken Hebrews had long cried to God for deliverance in a situation that was utterly hopeless. They had no allies to strike a blow for their freedom and only death could liberate them from the cruel lash of their merciless oppressor.

Let us turn back the clock and re-live the magnificent role played by Moses. It is springtime in Egypt, the month of Abib, but the corn that was almost ready for harvesting has been blasted by hail "such hath not been in Egypt since the foundation thereof" , and the plague of locusts has finished off what was left after the hailstorm. Moses, the man of God, has had his final confrontation with the tyrant on the throne of Egypt. And now God begins to unfold His blueprint for Israel's redemption.

How the Hebrews expectantly hang on every word as Moses begins to instruct them! Never before had God spoken to them as a nation as He speaks now. This is the very first instruction given to the people. Surely this fact has tremendous significance for the people of Israel. Let us listen attentively to Moses as he speaks. "This month shall be unto you the beginning of months; it shall be the first month of the year unto you." (Exodus 12:2)

How utterly strange these words sound in the ears of a people desperate to hear news that will give them hope. Indeed, who cares what month it is! Action is what is needed, not altering the dates of the calendar! But wait! This is a Divine ordinance, and furthermore it is the first one, and as such is of singular importance. God's people about to be transformed overnight from slavery to nationhood must have a new beginning. The old calendar and its association with humiliation and degradation in Egypt is to be abandoned. A people redeemed by the mighty power of God are to commence their nationhood with these glorious words, "THIS MONTH SHALL BE UNTO YOU THE BEGINNING OF MONTHS . . . " .

The next step in Israel's redemption is equally puzzling. God commands: "Ye shall take every man a lamb" ! What can this mean? Where are the liberating armies, the spears and chariots? Or in terms of modern warfare, where are the rockets, American aid and nuclear weapons?

A LAMB? Is there something wrong? Has Moses interpreted God's command wrongly? First, it was changing the calendar. And now we must take a lamb, the most despised of all creatures in the eyes of our oppressors. But Moses speak on. The lamb must be slain during the afternoon of the fourteenth day of this newly-appointed month and its blood has to be sprinkled upon the doorpost and lintel of every Hebrew home.

What fools we must appear in the sight of the Egyptians! Haven't we suffered enough without carrying out this ritual of splashing blood upon our homes? But Moses is adamant. There has been no mistake. The message he has received from God has come through loud and clear. "For I will pass through the land of Egypt this night, and will smite all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, both man and beast; and against all the gods of Egypt I will execute judgement: I am the Lord. And the blood shall be to you for a token upon the houses where ye are: AND WHEN I SEE THE BLOOD I WILL PASS OVER YOU, and the plague shall not be upon you to destroy you, when I smite the land of Egypt." (Exodus 12:12-13)

What a strange paradox we see in man's method of liberation from oppression and tyranny by the use of force and weapons compared with God's way in the death of a lamb and its sprinkled blood!

Could it be that the great Jewish sages Rashi and Abraham Ibn Ezra have discovered the secret of God's way when they recognize that the pascal lamb slain in Egypt was in the nature of a sacrifice?

Indeed, Abraham Ibn Ezra states that the blood was destined as an atonement for those who partook of the pascal offering. Surely this throws light on the observation of Yeshua Hammashiach (Jesus Christ) by John: "BEHOLD THE LAMB OF GOD WHO TAKES AWAY THE SIN OF THE WORLD" . (John 1:29)