The spring festivals are upon us already. It always amazes me how quickly they come around from the previous year. The pattern and design of the LORD and His order are truly evident in the turning of each season and the returning of another new year.
For those of us who participated in the Festival of Passover and Unleavened Bread last year, we can look back and remember our time together. Perhaps we can remember how eloquently our seder tables were set, or what we wore, or who sat at our tables with us.
It is a good feeling to know that we have obeyed the Scriptures in our lives over a period of time. When we read the exodus account, we are clear in the fact that this time of Passover is relevant to our lives today and we see how its observance truly sheds new light on what our Pesach (the sacrifice of Messiah Yeshua) accomplished in our lives.
Furthermore, we stand strong knowing that participation in this rite fulfills our obligation of teaching our children and identifying with our ancestors of old:
And you shall observe this event as an ordinance for you and your children forever. And it will come about when you enter the land which the LORD will give you, as He has promised, that you shall observe this rite. And it will come about when your children will say to you, “What does this rite mean to you?” that you shall say, “It is a Passover sacrifice to the LORD who passed over the houses of the sons of Israel in Egypt when He smote the Egyptians, but spared our homes.” And the people bowed low and worshiped. (Exodus 12:24-27)
Yet, consider this: We read in the haggadah during the Passover Seder that we should consider ourselves as having been in bondage, then delivered just as our ancestors were. Many of us then partake in a traditional meal, sing traditional songs and go away convinced that we have “identified” with our forefathers and are therefore “considered” as having been participants in the exodus. I would boldly challenge you that we have not.
“Because the LORD kept vigil that night to bring them out of Egypt, on this night all the Israelites are to keep vigil to honor the LORD for the generations to come.” Exodus 12:42 (NIV).
What does it mean when the LORD tells us to keep vigil to honor Him, even today, as He did for our ancestors before us? Surely we are not fleeing an evil taskmaster, a pharaoh, that we would need to keep vigil… or are we? And, just what does it mean to keep vigil anyway?
Webster’s New Riverside dictionary defines keeping ‘vigil’ as “a watch in the night, particularly with regard to a religious festival, observed by devotional preparation.” Devotional preparation? Wait a minute… what preparation?
For most of us, participation in a Passover Seder begins with readying our homes and congregational buildings, preparation for what we’ll be wearing and/or whether or not we’ve purchased our dinner tickets prior to the event, then ends with the seder. What more is there that requires devotional preparation? Have we somehow missed the mark of what the LORD is calling us to do in preparation for His appointed time? He is going to show Himself to be our watchful, vigilant God as we escape our foe on that very night. We must be prepared and ready to run away from this evil taskmaster on that very night while the LORD watches over us once again. If we are not prepared, we may miss our opportunity to see the great and mighty things that our God will perform for us:
“You shall fear the LORD your God; you shall serve Him and cling to Him, and you shall swear by His name. He is your praise and He is your God, who has done these great and awesome things for you which your eyes have seen.” Deuteronomy 10:20-21
Show Us Something Awesome
It seems that believers today are always crying out to see the great and awesome things of the LORD. Well, in my opinion, our preparation and participation in this feast will truly open our eyes to the great and awesome things of the LORD. For many years now, during the winter season, I have petitioned the LORD to reveal areas of sin in my life (pruning) that He desires for me to recognize with the intention of setting me free from that in particular at Passover. I see that sin as my ‘pharaoh,’ as my wicked and evil taskmaster that causes my flesh to do the things that I don’t want to do… holding me back from doing those things that I do want to do, see Romans 7:14ff. Our battle is not against flesh and blood, against things that we see; but, our battle is ongoing against the rulers of this world and the wicked forces of darkness in heavenly places (Ephesians 6:12).
Perhaps our preparation for Passover should occur weeks in advance. When the LORD speaks to us, revealing the nature of how a certain sin has affected us, kept us in bondage and harmed our community, then we will seek with anxiety, soul-searching, and personal reflection, to be set free. We can proceed to the Passover prepared for the deliverance that the LORD will perform on our behalf—for deliverance in which He Himself, and not an angel, will set us free! When we come, in a weakened state, ready to deal with the leaven in our lives, we can have great hope that we will physically behold the great and awesome works of the LORD.
Released to Serve
On that night, we do identify with our ancestors of old. We will corporately, within our communities come together to recall and relate to the bondage, the struggles, the fear, the freedom, and the redemption of our people. We will be reminded of the work of the LORD … but the work of His hands will vividly come to pass as both a historical and a personal, present one. This will add true meaning to our rejoicing as we keep vigil in honor of Him. We will recognize His great love for us. We will feel His presence and we will overcome through the blood of the Pesach offering for us, Yeshua! How can we ever repay such a gift? Unto what has He freed us? He has set us free that we may “serve Him.”
I would propose that He delivers us in order that He might use us even more to affect this world for His Word. We are called to be a light to the world, and we will be an even greater light as we are made pure through the deliverance from our flesh through the deliverance of the LORD.
In reading the exodus account through Exodus chapters 8-10, we read very clearly why the LORD desired to free our people from slavery… so that they might serve Him. Nothing is different for us today; He is still our God calling us to serve Him.
Beloved friends, not one of us can serve the LORD while in bondage to an evil taskmaster over our flesh. God’s desire in freeing us, in doing great and awesome things before our eyes is that we would, in turn, serve Him. He has a plan and a purpose in freeing us… our redemption was bought by His blood and we are indebted to Him.
Does this mean that we must strive to attain a spiritual position in Him during Passover? By all means, NO! We are obligated to listen to His voice, to obey His Word and participate in the Pesach—but no more than that. He is the one who will bring forth the deliverance. Exodus 14:14 says that “The LORD will fight for you; you need only to be still” (NIV).
Will God reveal something to you during this season? I believe that is what He desires. Will God set you free from that area of sin or flesh in your life at Passover? I believe He has ordained the time of Pesach for that very reason. How do you enter into the intrinsic nature of each of the biblical appointments? Active preparation and participation!
Plan ahead. Prepare spiritually for the LORD to fight for you against the sin and flesh in your life. You will see a change in your life if you do because God will be there to meet you. You will experience the joy of your salvation afresh. You will be used by God to gather and attract others to His kingdom. We will communally and individually have a definite time marked by God’s calendar that we can look back on and be able to sing a new song of joy and freedom.