The Night of Watchers

If one had to choose a night of the year to remain awake all night, which night would it be?

For some that special night might include a sports event, or an evening when the rich and famous parade their achievements, or perhaps when film and music celebrities come out to receive their rewards. These special nights are watched by millions.

Significantly, God has chosen a night, a night that is different from any other, a night to be watched by all.

"It is a night of solemn observance to the LORD for bringing them out of the land of Egypt. This is that night of the LORD, a solemn observance for all the children of Israel throughout their generations."  (Exodus 12:42-43)

Passover is the night of watchers. It " ... is that night of the LORD ..." when the children of Israel left Egypt; a night like no other. Especially for the children of Israel, this night is to be observed and watched in every generation.

Non-Jewish people may object claiming that the night is only significant for Jewish people, and therefore only Jewish people are required to watch. Yet, on closer examination, when considering what took place on that momentous occasion one is more convinced that the night is also very significant for non-Jewish people.

Indeed, on that night after the Passover lamb had been killed and its blood sprinkled on the doorposts and lintels of every Jewish home, it was then, at midnight, that the Angel of Death visited Egypt. Every home where the blood appeared the Angel passed over. But, in those homes where the blood had not been applied - note, these were non-Jewish homes - the Angel of Death struck and all the firstborn died, " ... from the firstborn of Pharaoh who sat on his throne to the firstborn of the captive who was in the dungeon, and all the firstborn of livestock." (Exodus 12:29) This night - Passover night - is significant for all, both Jew and non-Jew.

What is different about this night; why this night, why Passover?

It was on this night that the children of Israel were brought out, redeemed and delivered. Not only did God hear, but God came, and He saw, and then it was on this night that God delivered. The children of Israel had been slaves, and were completely bound to a life of servitude in the land of Egypt; only God could deliver them.

The picture of bondage can be applied to a person who is without hope and without God. As such they are enslaved by their own ambitions and bound to a life of self-fulfilment, a life-style that is more acceptable to the world, rather than adhering to God's standards. Just as Israel needed to be brought out from the land of bondage, so too, they need to be set free. And just as Israel could be set free to serve the Creator, with a life of blessing and peace, so too, anyone who is ensnared by the world's standards.

The picture of Israel enslaved in Egypt can also be a picture of a nation that is "trapped by its own agenda" being concerned more with its achievements and international recognition, rather than focusing on the kingdom of God, and implementing His righteousness. Like Israel in Egypt, these nations are enslaved and can only be delivered by the God of Israel. Passover night is significant because on this night everyone can observe God's plan of redemption.

This night is important for all peoples. Israel has shown what God can do for a people enslaved. To neglect such a night would be to miss out on enjoying the goodness and experiencing the mercies of the Lord, the God of Israel.

Those who watch the Lord this night will see His Power and His Majesty.

On that night in Egypt, the Passover lamb was slain. In an unusual twist, the lives of the firstborn of Israel were saved under the blood of this lamb, and it was also because of the blood of the lamb, that resulted in Israel being set free. Since the Egyptians did not apply the blood to their homes, the Angel of death struck and the firstborn died. Finally, Pharaoh let Israel go; they were free.

The Messiah is Israel's Ultimate Hope and Deliverer. For this reason, the Passover lamb slain in Egypt is a prophetic portrayal of Him. Ultimately, as the Passover Lamb of God, the Messiah will save Israel and will deliver them to be what God has destined them to be: " ... a kingdom of priests and a holy nation." (Exodus 19:5)

The Jewish prophet, Isaiah, also foretold the Messiah's sacrifice as "... a lamb to the slaughter ..." (Isaiah 53:7) and again emphasizing the need for the Messiah's atoning death, "Yet it pleased the LORD to bruise Him; He has put Him to grief. When you make His soul an offering for sin ..." (Isaiah 53:10)

Indeed, another Jewish prophet, in the spirit of Elijah, proclaimed of Yeshua of Nazareth, "Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world." (John 1:29) He is the Hope of Israel, and Saviour of the world.

Amazingly, it was at the Feast of Passover that Yeshua the Messiah was sacrificed. Surely, "... that night of the LORD, a solemn observance for all the children of Israel throughout their generations ..." is an important night for all, for both Jew and Gentile, for every generation.

On that momentous occasion, Messiah Yeshua declared to His disciples, as they reclined at the Passover meal. "With fervent desire I have desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer; for I say to you, I will no longer eat of it until it is fulfilled in the kingdom of God." (Luke 22:15-16)

The good news is that Yeshua the Messiah has come, and has paid the Ultimate Price for redemption. We are no longer bound to the kingdoms and ways of this world, because He has provided atonement for our sin and rebellion against God, so that all who place their faith in Him may be free to serve God and to walk in His ways. Surely, this is the night to watch and observe!

Passover is 14th Nissan, and is this year 8th April 2009, according to the Gregorian calendar.

Mark Warren