Dr Clifford Denton.
Bo: Exodus 10:1-13:16.
20th January 2024/Sh’vat 10
And they shall take some of the blood and put it on the two doorposts and
on the lintel of the houses where they eat it. (Exodus 12:7)
Picture by Helen McNeill
Our theme of family is clear in this week’s portion. When the Lord struck the firstborn of Egypt, each family, in their own home, protected by the blood of the Passover lamb, were together to share the experience of God’s passing over their home, whilst death of the first-born caused devastation across the families of the Egyptians.
The following morning Israel was to leave Egypt as an army, but on Passover night the people were identified first as families. Specific instructions were given so that every coming year, there would be a remembrance of how God saved them from the Egyptians in anticipation of complete fulfilment of all the promises of Exodus 6:6-8. This was to be an annual feast throughout the nation in each family home. It was a feast of remembrance and of anticipation.
Over the years, wonderfully, the people of Israel have indeed celebrated Passover as a very special time for families as they pass on the teaching to the children of each succeeding generation. The basic Passover instructions are simple (reflecting what is recorded in Exodus 12:1-13 for the first Passover and, each year thereafter, put into the context of Exodus 12:14-20). Nowadays the Passover celebration has become much fuller, with a more elaborate meal and order of service (Seder). The anticipation of Israel being gathered again to their land to fulfil the promise of Exodus 6:8 during the entire 2000 years of the Diaspora, has been emphasised in the last statement at the end of the meal when the family say together, “next year in Jerusalem”.
We live in very special days. For millions of Jews the Passover is now celebrated in the Land that God gave to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. Simultaneously, many Christians are returning to the Hebraic foundations of their faith. For centuries, Passover for Jews became Easter for the Christian Church, replacing the date on the biblical calendar with a different date on the Roman calendar. This separation has had serious consequences regarding the harmony between Jews and Christians, including between Messianic Jews and Christians. For many Jews, despite God’s blessings on those who have celebrated the death and resurrection of Yeshua at Easter, this seems a different celebration to Passover. The term Easter derives from pagan sources which can be linked to the goddess Eostre, for whom there was a spring festival in ancient Britain.
From the Jewish side, until a great and growing number of Messianic Jews have emerged in our day, there has been blindness to the fulfilment of Passover in Yeshua’s sacrificial death and resurrection. From the Christian side there has been a clear understanding of this fulfilment but with a Christianised version of Passover which is called Easter, which is separated almost entirely from the remembrance of the deliverance of Israel from Egypt.
So what is a good path for Christian families who want to reconnect with their heritage among the Jews? A stumbling block is the command for men who celebrate Passover with native born Israelites to be circumcised (Exodus 12:48). New Covenant teaching, however, is clear, that the meaning of circumcision for Gentile believers is circumcision of the heart (Romans 2:28-29). For the Jew, physical circumcision still has a relevance, but for the entire Messianic community circumcision of the heart is our principle of unity. Therefore, believing Jews and Gentiles can celebrate Passover. Indeed, as we have considered in other Torah portions, by adoption/grafting in, believing Gentiles are part of the family of faith which both remembers deliverance from Egypt and redemption through the blood of Yeshua.
Over recent years the Jewish traditions of Passover have been used as a teaching aid for many Christians. Surely it is now time to go more fully into the celebration. On the days prescribed through Moses in our Torah portion this week, would it not be good to have a simple family remembrance in our homes at Passover? We can take what is useful from the Jewish Seder as long as we go beyond ritual to a proper remembrance of the deliverance of our adopted family from Egypt with the greater fulfilment of the promises of Exodus 6:6-9 through the sacrificial death of Yeshua and in anticipation of His soon return. Surely this is something that also contributes to our becoming more clearly the One New Man that Paul described in Ephesians 2:15. Is not this the time to consider this?
(Note on Helen McNeill’s picture. She writes: What a wonderful Parsha this week and a beautiful picture of the Messiah and His ultimate atoning sacrifice of redemption. I had a very strong image this week to illustrate Exodus 12:7 in the form of a Jewish Ketubah (wedding contract). For me as I read the Parsha it is the powerful truth of God taking to Himself the people that He has chosen – to claim them as His own with a mighty outstretched arm and wonders. Almost as an engagement as a prelude for the marriage contract at Sinai.
Hidden within this though is the greatest truth and gift to the world of Messiah and His blood that will distinguish the people of God for eternity in the Covenant of Peace God makes with all His creation.
This moment in Exodus is compassion on the House of the sons of Israel…and this compassion extending to cover all the sins of Israel and the gentile nations through Messiah. The Ketubah is the perfect illustration of God’s heart wanting to be married to His people and the eternal commitment He has to them and their everlasting salvation.
In the illustration I have woven in the lamb as the sacrifice, the unleavened bread and the bowl of blood, the lintel and the doorposts, the hyssop, the separation for darkness and light, the forthcoming journey through the sea on dry land and the stones on the breastplate for each of the tribes of Israel to represent all the sons of the house of Israel – and the crown on the lamb and the emerald bow over the throne in Revelation.)