Ma Nishtana?

Those who celebrated Passover this weekend will probably know that the title of this post, taken from a popular Passover song, translates to (roughly, I’m sure): “Why is this night different?” The song’s answer to this question comes in several verses about the traditions of the Passover meal, but I (naturally, or this would be very short post indeed) have my own answer.

Passover, of all the Jewish holidays, has always stood out to me as the really exciting one, the one that I could relate to best, and perhaps the one I imagined I knew the most about. The story of Moses leading the Israelites out of Egypt and the plagues that culminated in a strike against all of Egypt’s firstborn is one that every Sunday-school-goer (willing or otherwise) will know. It has always interested me that Jewish people still celebrate (quite rightly) God’s deliverance of His people from this unthinkable plague by way of the blood of an innocent and perfect lamb.

To the Christian, this event, although completely literal and true in its own right, also paints a beautiful picture of God’s provision of His perfect Son, whose blood covers over our sins. I was just discussing some of this a few months ago with my friend Dana (see, Dana? If you had a blog, I would totally have linked you just then. See what you’re missing out on? Of course, I could always edit the link in, if, say, you wanted to start your blog with a post about your Passover festivities this weekend…), and then today we were blessed to hear a whole sermon on this very topic.

Our guest speaker today, Roger Wambold, director of Hebrew Christian Fellowship shared some amazing insights into the Passover festival, and almost as soon as he started speaking, I was blogging in my head. Such fascinating stuff!

So, open up to Exodus 12, grab a cup of coffee and have a read of some of my favorite new insights into the Passover festival, in no particular order:

  • If a household was too small to have its own lamb, a provision was made (in verse 4) that one lamb could serve for more than one household. In this way, *no one* of God’s people, regardless of age or socio-economic standing, was excluded from God’s provision of safety from the coming destruction.
  • The lamb was taken from the other lambs and “kept” for four days before it was slain (verses 5-6). Apparently during this time, the lamb would become a part of the household, almost like a pet. It was a time for scrutiny to make sure he was absolutely flawless. I couldn’t help but think of those who were friends of Christ’s during His earthly ministry, observing His perfect, sinless life, but at the same time growing attached to Him as a friend and beloved brother. I can’t begin to imagine their shock and denial when His true purpose (dying on the cross) was revealed.
  • The blood of the lamb was to be applied “on the two doorposts and the lintel of the houses” (verse 7). Can you picture it? A dab of blood on either side of the door and one above? What a visual image of the cross! Amazing.
  • The people of Israel were to follow the above instructions, and then stay in the house until the plague had passed by. *But* this was only to be done once. The instructions for remembering the Passover as a festival for the generations do not involve reapplying the blood to the doorposts. This one time application of blood was completely sufficient for all the generations to come.

Throughout his message, Rev. Wambold repeatedly asked the question, “Who would *not* take advantage of this provision?” Under the circumstances, it is not surprising that *all* of the Jews took God up on His plan of protection. They knew there was no other means of escape, and they recognized His grace in providing this means of rescue.

In John 1:29, John the baptist says this of Christ: “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!” Check out some other New Testament references to Passover here and here. In Christ is the complete and perfect fulfillment of everything that first Passover was about. We all, like the Israelites trying to escape from Pharaoh’s heavy hand, are facing death, but God has provided an escape at great personal cost. Christ was the ultimate, perfect, spotless Passover lamb, utterly innocent but brutally killed. We apply His blood by faith that He has completely paid the penalty for the sin of the world. For my sin. For yours, if you believe.

Rev. Wambold concluded his sermon with these words:

“Who would not want to take advantage of the marvelous provision Christ has made? Good question.”

Good question, indeed.