Bo — “Go”
Portion for the week leading up to February 4, 2017
A Memorial of Redemption
The plagues God unleashed upon Egypt culminated in the death of the firstborn of the Egyptians, dealing a final blow to the obstinate heart of Pharaoh. To memorialize this purchasing of freedom, God commanded the children of Israel to commemorate the Passover each year. While the literal understanding of this Appointed Time is applicable especially to the physical descendants of Israel, we as believers in Yeshua (Jesus) have also experienced a great redemption.
After striking Egypt with eleven plagues, each increasing in severity, God tells Moses that there is one more plague that must come on Egypt: "Now the Lord said to Moses, 'One more plague I will bring on Pharaoh and on Egypt; after that he will let you go from here'" (Exodus 11:1). After Moses relays the message of what God will do to Pharaoh, God gives Moses special instructions about this time: "Now this day will be a memorial to you, and you shall celebrate it as a feast to the Lord; throughout your generations you are to celebrate it as a permanent ordinance." (Exodus 12:14). This time, called Unleavened Bread (verse 17), was instituted here by God in order to remind the people of Israel of all the mighty deeds He did to bring them out of their slavery in Egypt. He gave specific instructions about how they were to celebrate this first Passover so that the firstborn of the children of Israel would not be taken with the firstborn of the Egyptians (Exodus 12:1-13). When God saw the blood on the door post of their house, He would pass over them and not harm the firstborn who were within that house (verse 23).
Why did God want the people of Israel to commemorate this throughout their generations? Because it is the sign of God's care and election of His people. Even through all of the difficult times the children of Israel have gone through, God hears their cries and will redeem them from the house of slavery. Thinking back upon all of the tragedies which have befallen Israel throughout history, it would be easy to forget that they are indeed blessed and chosen by God. This time of Passover is a yearly reminder that in all generations, God is with His people and will provide a way of escape for those who trust in Him and call upon His name in the time of their trouble.
This theme of redemption which is present in the story of Passover is carried through into the New Testament. Mark 14:12 says, "On the first day of Unleavened Bread, when the Passover lamb was being sacrificed, His disciples said to Him, 'Where do You want us to go and prepare for You to eat the Passover?'" Since Yeshua (Jesus) was Jewish, He was under the same obligation to observe the Passover celebration. He more than most, however, recognized the great significance of this season not only for the people of Israel, but for the whole world. He Himself would play the role of the Passover lamb in order to redeem a people unto Himself from every nation on earth. As per the instructions in Exodus 12, Yeshua and His disciples took part in the Passover meal, what is often referred to today as a seder. It was during this seder when Yeshua took the unleavened bread and said, "Take it; this is My body" (Mark 14:22). What we in Christianity know as "communion" was therefore initially a part of the Passover seder, and this was the time when Yeshua instructed His disciples, "Do this in remembrance of Me" (Luke 22:19). And just as the blood of the Passover lamb marked the doorway so that the destroyer would not harm anyone inside the house, so too Yeshua shed His blood on that Passover so that all of those who apply His blood to their hearts will not be subject to wrath (Revelation 5:9). He redeemed us from the kingdom of darkness so that we may serve Him (Colossians 1:13).
The meaning of the first Passover is not superseded by the greatness of Yeshua's Passover sacrifice, for without the first, there would have been no place for the second, greater redemption. They are both pieces in the same puzzle, and without one the other would be unnecessary. This time of Passover holds great significance both for Israel and those who are grafted into Israel through faith in Yeshua, and by ignoring this we do ourselves a great disservice. "Therefore let us celebrate the feast, not with old leaven, nor with the leaven of malice and wickedness, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth" (1 Corinthians 5:8).