If we love them we will have answers: “daddy, why do we celebrate Christmas; mommy, what is Easter; pappy, what is that grape stuff in the little cups?”
Exodus 13:14 (NLT)
14 “And in the future, your children will ask you, ‘What does all this mean?’”
My goal what I give myself wholly to is giving you answers from God’s Word so that you can tell your children what all this means.
Moses was a man that God used to bring his people out of oppressive slavery in Egypt. After leaving Egypt and wandering the desert 40 years Moses is about to die; therefore, passing on these words to the Hebrew people just before they entered the Promise Land, the land of their ancestors, the land which God will continue to display his awesome love towards his people. The Passover and Unleavened Bread came in Abib (March/April). Passover was a week long celebration of deliverance from bondage. The unleavened bread was a reminder of the hasty departure from Egypt.
Deuteronomy 16:1 (NLT)
“In honor of the LORD your God, celebrate the Passover each year in the early spring, in the month of Abib,* for that was the month in which the LORD your God brought you out of Egypt by night.
Remember to celebrate. Celebrate to remember. After all special times should be remembered for special reasons. Do you understand? Let me give an example. On the 4th of July those of us living in the USA celebrated our independence from England; similarly, on the first month of the calendar year the Hebrew people were to remember a specific event, their independence from Egypt.
For those of us who are followers of Christ we have reason to celebrate. Do you know why? While we were still sinners Christ died for us; therefore, setting us free from the bondages of sin forever! Read with me in Isaiah 53 and see how God puts all things together.
Isaiah 53:4-6 (NLT)
4 Yet it was our weaknesses he carried;
it was our sorrows* that weighed him down.
And we thought his troubles were a punishment from God,
a punishment for his own sins!
5 But he was pierced for our rebellion,
crushed for our sins.
He was beaten so we could be whole.
He was whipped so we could be healed.
6 All of us, like sheep, have strayed away.
We have left God’s paths to follow our own.
Yet the LORD laid on him
the sins of us all.
Isaiah in that passage writes what Christ would come and do for us. There is another story that gives an image of Christ in the book of Leviticus called the “scapegoat.” Paul in the New Testament helps us understand this image.
2 Corinthians 5:21 (NLT)
21 For God made Christ, who never sinned, to be the offering for our sin,* so that we could be made right with God through Christ.
Two goats were selected as the Lord told Moses. One goat was sacrificed for a sin offering. And the other goat called a “scapegoat” had the sins of the community placed on its head then it was released far outside the camp in the desert. Moses in Leviticus and Paul in Corinthians are both pointing to Christ who took upon himself the sin of the world for all who will trust him as Lord and Savior.
Since we are talking about celebration I want to relate some good news that I recently received from Doug Pickels living on the Island of Kauai. Doug and I celebrated together as he remembered leading a young man named Adam to the Lord! The greatest celebration in heaven above and the earth beneath is when someone repents of their sins and is baptized in the Name of Jesus Christ. When Adam got saved Doug and I were not the only ones celebrating for the angels in Heaven had a reunion unlike any we have seen or heard of!
Let me tell another story of celebration and what this story means for us today (the Old Testament records this story in 2 Kings 22 & 23; 2 Chronicles 34 & 35). Josiah was only 8 years old when he became king. When he was 26 he repaired the temple in Jerusalem. In the Old Testament there were many kings who did evil in the eyes of the Lord; however, Josiah was different than the previous evil kings. Hilkiah the kings high priest found the Book of the Law in the temple; therefore, causing great celebration. The reinstitution of the Passover was one of many wonderful things Josiah did upon the discovery and reading of God’s Book of the Law. I tell this story because I hope you see the importance of remembering to celebrate and celebrating to remember.
We are talking about the Passover and its remembrance or as in the story of Josiah its rediscovery! “Europe is the Faith”—as stated by Hilaire Belloc (1870-1953). And this same idea in the 20th century is seconded by Christians in North America. However, what was once said of Europe and North America is now said of Latin America, Africa, and South East Asia. Faith as described by Hilaire Belloc is on the fringe in other words it’s on the outside of Europe and North America in this 21st century. The West can no longer be thought of as “Christian.” In this day when the church is becoming more and more on the fringes of society, when less and less people are coming to church, it’s imperative that we remember to celebrate. Celebrate to remember.
1 Corinthians 11:23-26 (NLT)
23 For I pass on to you what I received from the Lord himself. On the night when he was betrayed, the Lord Jesus took some bread 24 and gave thanks to God for it. Then he broke it in pieces and said, “This is my body, which is given for you.* Do this to remember me.” 25 In the same way, he took the cup of wine after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant between God and his people—an agreement confirmed with my blood. Do this to remember me as often as you drink it.” 26 For every time you eat this bread and drink this cup, you are announcing the Lord’s death until he comes again.
Let’s see how the Hebrew people celebrated the Passover.
Deuteronomy 16:2-4 (NLT)
2 Your Passover sacrifice may be from either the flock or the herd, and it must be sacrificed to the LORD your God at the designated place of worship—the place he chooses for his name to be honored. 3 Eat it with bread made without yeast. For seven days the bread you eat must be made without yeast, as when you escaped from Egypt in such a hurry. Eat this bread—the bread of suffering—so that as long as you live you will remember the day you departed from Egypt. 4 Let no yeast be found in any house throughout your land for those seven days. And when you sacrifice the Passover lamb on the evening of the first day, do not let any of the meat remain until the next morning.
I like dark chocolate. How about you, do you like dark chocolate too? Studying this text this week has been to me kind of like dark chocolate. Allow me to explain. When I first began studying this passage in Deuteronomy to be honest I was not exaltedly thrilled because it seemed a little boring. I mean how many of us living in North America get excited about Canada Day, May Day, or even Patriot Day? But the more I studied Passover richer it became! One of the central features of this week long celebration is the eating of unleavened bread. “Unleavened bread” you might say, “What is that?” Unleavened bread has no yeast, unlike most bread in our homes. The purpose for eating unleavened bread was so that the Hebrew people would always remember their hasty departure from Egypt. Secondly, God had the people do this for the purpose of a future illustration. Read 1 Corinthians 5:6-7 and see if you can see the connection between unleavened bread and our lives.
1 Corinthians 5:6-7 (NLT)
6 Your boasting about this is terrible. Don’t you realize that this sin is like a little yeast that spreads through the whole batch of dough? 7 Get rid of the old “yeast” by removing this wicked person from among you. Then you will be like a fresh batch of dough made without yeast, which is what you really are. Christ, our Passover Lamb, has been sacrificed for us.*
The Apostle Paul, writing as God’s inspired author is saying that sin must be put out of our lives, in Jesus Name! It takes only a little yeast to work through the whole batch of dough. Likewise, sin corrupts the body.
1 John 1:9 (NLT)
9 But if we confess our sins to him, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all wickedness.
Go back to Deuteronomy with me and see how God once again emphasizes a specific place for worship.
Deuteronomy 16:5-7 (NLT)
5 “You may not sacrifice the Passover in just any of the towns that the LORD your God is giving you. 6 You must offer it only at the designated place of worship—the place the LORD your God chooses for his name to be honored. Sacrifice it there in the evening as the sun goes down on the anniversary of your exodus from Egypt. 7 Roast the lamb and eat it in the place the LORD your God chooses. Then you may go back to your tents the next morning.
Speaking of the Passover God has said, “and it must be sacrificed to the Lord your God at the designated place of worship—the place he chooses for his name to be honored.” Why do you suppose the Lord is so adamant about meeting at this designated place? Close to 1000 years later Paul under inspiration of the Holy Spirit will say to Timothy, “Watch your life and doctrine closely because if you do you will save yourself and those who hear you” (1 Timothy 4:16). The lives of the Hebrew people were to be kept pure; therefore, God commanded them to meet at a specific place of worship. These places would be wherever God’s tabernacle would be set up such as in Gilgal, Shiloh, the temple in Jerusalem, and eventually in the hearts of all those who confess Jesus Christ as Lord.
God has specific ways to relate to him and one another as outlined in the Ten Commandments. He does not want us borrowing from other peoples and religions. This is why I think God wanted the people in the Old Testament to worship him at one central place so that all the people would be in one accord and that their would be no false doctrine. Today God’s word continues to be pure!
Please turn in your Bibles to 2 Timothy 3:16-17 (NLT) and keep your finger in it before closing your Bibles.
16 All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It corrects us when we are wrong and teaches us to do what is right. 17 God uses it to prepare and equip his people to do every good work.
There are a couple of things that Paul would write to Timothy before saying what he did in the above such as:
2 Timothy 3:12 (NLT)
12 Yes, and everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution.
2 Timothy 2:2 (NLT)
2 You have heard me teach things that have been confirmed by many reliable witnesses. Now teach these truths to other trustworthy people who will be able to pass them on to others.
And pass these things on in season and out of season.
2 Timothy 4:2 (NLT)
2 Preach the word of God. Be prepared, whether the time is favorable or not. Patiently correct, rebuke, and encourage your people with good teaching.
When a co-worker asks you the difference between a church that follows Christ and one that follows Mohammed what will you say? When your neighbor says, “I’ am a Christian” but they have never been baptized what will you say? When your son or daughter asks “why must I be born again,” what will you say? Thus, remember to celebrate. Celebrate to remember.
Deuteronomy 16:8 (NLT)
8 For the next six days you may not eat any bread made with yeast. On the seventh day proclaim another holy day in honor of the LORD your God, and no work may be done on that day.
I do not think that after this week long celebration the people were any different morally. For I believe they continued loving God with all their heart, soul, mind, and strength. And I believe that they continued loving their neighbor as their selves. Should we who gather in the church today be any different? And they will know we are Christians by our love.