Wednesday, 16 April 2014

From Passover to Pentecost: the First Passover

The people of the Sinai Covenant celebrated and often still celebrate the events that marked the beginning of a unique nation with a unique destiny.

The celebration began somewhere around three and a half millennia ago. It began in Egypt among a people who served as the slave nation to the great world power of the Pharaohs. It began with a groan and a cry. God heard the cry. He always hears our cry.
Now it happened in the process of time that the king of Egypt died. Then the children of Israel groaned because of the bondage, and they cried out; and their cry came up to God because of the bondage. Ex 2:23 NKJV.
430 years earlier the patriarch Abraham had been plunged into a deep sleep and while he slept he witnessed the making of a covenant and heard a prophecy that predicted his descendants would become a slave nation. Gen 15:13. Fast forward 400 years and we find a huge people group living in Egypt as the worker-slaves of the Egyptian state. Their social development was still based on family units but elders had emerged who coordinated the family units and served as the official link between the state and the workers. The group comprised not only blood descendants of Abraham but included the 'family households' of the descendants of Abraham's bloodline. Gen 45:18.

God raised up Moses and moved in sovereign power to bring deliverance for the slaves. The promises made personally to Abraham and to each successive generation were to be incorporated into a national destiny for a new nation. But first they must be set free. No man can serve two masters and if the nation was to be God's nation and obedient to God's will its people must be freed from the hostile will of their current master.

Their deliverance would commence with a forward looking celebration. God's judgment would fall upon the host nation. The eldest sons in the homes of the Hebrews would only be spared as they submitted to the rule of God under his spokesman, Moses. Lambs were to be slaughtered and the flesh and blood used in a ritual meal. The roast flesh was to be eaten and the shed blood applied to the doorposts and lintels of their homes.

The first celebration of the "Passover" would be looking forward to their deliverance and their journey to a new future. The first Passover took place in a foreign land and was a sober act of faith. They ate it prepared for the journey; their sandals on their feet, their staff in their hand, their few belongings on their back and the whole group ready to move at a moment's notice.

The letter to the Hebrews makes an interesting distinction between the covenant's mediator and the covenant's recipients. The writer records it so...
By faith he kept the Passover and the sprinkling of blood, lest he who destroyed the firstborn should touch them. By faith they passed through the Red Sea as by dry land, whereas the Egyptians, attempting to do so, were drowned. Heb 11:28–29 NKJV.
"He (Moses) kept the Passover... they passed through the Red Sea". Without Moses' initiation and faith there would have been no Exodus.

Fast forward again now, some 1300 years or so. Jesus and his apostles are gathered in an upper room to celebrate the Last Passover. The disciples are perplexed and are hesitant in their faith. The Mediator of the Covenant moves with calm faith. His hour has come. He will initiate this New Covenant. His faith will win the victory and gain their deliverance. Their faith will be needed later. When their deliverance is achieved they will need to move forwards. on their own feet; their own journey into a new future.

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