SS Lesson for 02/07/2016
Devotional Scripture: Luke 22:7-15
The lesson teaches about the Jewish memorial feast of the Passover. The study's aim is to show that God is always in control and will, in His time, execute judgment on all who do not walk by faith in His salvation. The study's application is to daily order our lives by faith in God's grace and finished work.
(Adapted from the Bible Expositor and Illuminator Commentary)
So this day shall be to you a memorial; and you shall keep it as a feast to the Lord throughout your generations. You shall keep it as a feast by an everlasting ordinance.
First God told Moses and Aaron about the time of the Passover. This feast was to mark a new age in the history of Israel (the first month, the first month of your year). Though the events in this chapter occurred in the seventh month according to the civil year (which began in September-October) this is the first month in Israel’s religious calendar. This month is called Abib (lit., “fresh young ears” of, e.g., barley). This was when barley was to be harvested (March-April). With a new calendar the Israelites were to receive a new identity as the favored people of the true God. After Israel was taken into captivity the names of 4 of the 12 months were given Babylonian names, and April was called Nisan (cf. Neh. 2:1; Es. 3:7), which means “early” or “start.” (See the chart “Calendar in Israel.”) The phrase the whole community of Israel (cf. v. 6) is used here for the first time in the Old Testament to refer to the nation. The word suggests a new beginning. The celebration of Passover was centered in homes. On the 10th day of the month (March-April) each Israelite family was to select a lamb or a goat (śeh, the word trans. lamb, can mean either a young sheep or goat; cf. v. 5). If a family was small and not able to eat an entire animal, arrangements could be made to share the meal with another family. The animal was to be a one-year-old male without blemish. Four days later (on the 14th) each animal was to be killed at twilight. This meant either between sunset and dark or between 3 and 5 p.m. The latter time period is probably correct because it would allow more time for slaughtering and preparing the animal, which would be needed later when many sacrifices would be offered at the sanctuary. In these verses instructions are given on how to observe the Passover. Though the feast was observed in each Israelite home, their united and simultaneous worship would help weld them together as a single community (cf. v. 3). The blood of the animals was to be placed on the doorframes of the houses, the animal meat roasted, and the people were to eat it with bitter herbs and bread... without yeast. The slaying of the animals (instead of the Israelites’ firstborn sons, v. 13) and the sprinkling of blood prefigured the substitutionary death of Christ. He is “our Passover Lamb” (1 Cor. 5:7), “a Lamb without blemish or defect” (1 Peter 1:19; cf. John 1:29). His own sacrifice is the means whereby individual believers escape the horrors of spiritual death. Bitter herbs (probably endive, chicory, dandelions) symbolized sorrow or grief (cf. Lam. 3:15) for past sin, or the Israelites’ bitter experience of oppression in Egypt. The bread without yeast symbolized their leaving in haste (Ex. 12:11, 39; Deut. 16:3). The meat was to be roasted, not eaten raw as some pagans did. The people were to eat the entire meal quickly while dressed ready for travel (on the cloak tucked into the belt, Job 38:3; 40:7). Thus under the protection of shed blood, the congregation was to be reminded of cleansing from sin (cf. Heb. 9:22) and that they were sojourners in a strange land. It is the Lord’S Passover means the Passover lamb was for the Lord (cf. “a festival to the Lord,” Ex. 12:14). God said that on the very night (at midnight, 11:4; 12:29), after the Israelites had eaten the Passover lambs with herbs and bread, He would kill the firstborn son and animal in every Egyptian family (cf. 11:5; 12:29-30). The purpose of this final plague was like the others: to bring judgment on all the gods of Egypt (cf. Num. 33:4), thus showing that God is the Lord. Pharaoh’s eldest son and successor supposedly had divine properties. Min, the Egyptian god of reproduction, and Isis, the goddess of love who attended women at childbirth, were judged as impotent by this climactic plague and catastrophe. The sprinkled blood on the Israelites’ houses provided protection from death when God destroyed the Egyptian firstborn. From the verb, pass over (pāsaḥ) comes the noun that designates the feast, the Passover (pesaḥ). As the blood of an animal was the means of deliverance and of escaping death, so Christ’s blood is the means of redemption for believers (Rom. 5:9; Eph. 1:7). The Passover was to be observed annually (for the generations to come) as a lasting ordinance (cf. Ex. 12:17, 24; 13:10). Other annual events and feasts and Levitical regulations were also called “lasting ordinances” (e.g., 27:21; 28:43; 29:9; 30:21; Lev. 16:29, 31, 34; 23:14, 21, 41). The Passover was a festival to the Lord (cf. Ex. 5:1; 10:9). God then gave instructions for the Feast of Unleavened Bread as a national celebration of Israel’s redemption from Egypt. The Passover and the Unleavened Bread feasts were so closely connected that the two were often considered as one feast (cf. Luke 2:41; 22:1; Acts 21:3-4; Luke 22:7-38; and John 19:14). The Feast of Unleavened Bread was to be for seven days (Ex. 13:6-7), from the 15th to the 21st of the month (Lev. 23:6; Num. 28:17). Of course no bread with yeast (leaven) was to be eaten on the Passover either (Ex. 12:8). Homes were to be cleansed of yeast (vv. 15-16), a symbol of sin (1 Cor. 5:8). The absence of yeast suggested that those who were under the safety of shed blood were free from the corruption of sin before a holy God. If anyone ate anything with yeast in those feast days he would be cut off from... Israel (Ex. 12:19), that is, excluded from the camp, separated from covenant rights and privileges, possibly resulting in death. Also on the first and seventh days of the feast the people were to gather together for special services. And no work other than food preparation was to be done all week. Like the Passover, the Feast of Unleavened Bread was to be a lasting ordinance (v. 17; cf. v. 14) to benefit forthcoming generations. Together the Passover and Unleavened Bread feasts were an “ordinance” to be obeyed (vv. 14, 17, 24) and a “ceremony” to be observed (vv. 25-26). And the Passover was a “festival” (v. 14) involving a “sacrifice” (v. 27). Verses 19-20 repeat the instructions in verses 15-16, perhaps for emphasis. Moses now gave the elders instructions (vv. 21-23) for the Passover similar to those that the Lord gave Moses (vv. 3-11). The blood to be placed on the doorframes (v. 7) was to be applied with a bunch of hyssop, a common bushy plant that grows on rocky surfaces. It was widely used in Israel’s rites of purification (cf. Lev. 14:4, 6, 49, 51-52; Num. 19:6, 18). The destroyer (cf. Heb. 11:28) who killed the firstborn may have been the Angel of the Lord (the preincarnate Christ; cf. Gen. 16:9) or an angel. Then God’s people were told to be sure to observe the Passover in the land that God had promised to give them. Also they were to teach its meaning to their children (Ex. 12:26-27; cf. 13:14-15). The people, grateful for their soon-to-come deliverance from centuries of slavery, worshiped the Lord. Then they carried out His commands.
In about 2092 BC, God instructed Abraham (at the time known as Abram) to leave his home country and go to the land he would be shown—Canaan (Genesis 12:1-5). Obeying God, Abraham continued on to Egypt because of a famine (12:10). There Pharaoh and his household experienced the first plagues from the Lord on the Egyptians; this time it was to convince Pharaoh that he must return Abraham’s wife to him (12:14-20). Later, God informed Abraham that his descendants would be oppressed 400 years “in a country not their own” (15:13). That land was Egypt, for grandson Jacob and his extended family went there in about 1877 BC—again to escape famine (Genesis 43:1; 45:6; 46:5-7). After 430 years, the Lord was ready to act to free his people from slavery. That was the beginning of many mighty acts to fulfill the promises made to the patriarchs—to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. The year was 1447 BC. The occasion was Passover.
1 Now the Lord spoke to Moses and Aaron in the land of Egypt, saying,
2 "This month shall be your beginning of months; it shall be the first month of the year to you.
3 Speak to all the congregation of Israel, saying: 'On the tenth day of this month every man shall take for himself a lamb, according to the house of his father, a lamb for a household.
4 And if the household is too small for the lamb, let him and his neighbor next to his house take it according to the number of the persons; according to each man's need you shall make your count for the lamb.
5 Your lamb shall be without blemish, a male of the first year. You may take it from the sheep or from the goats.
6 Now you shall keep it until the fourteenth day of the same month. Then the whole assembly of the congregation of Israel shall kill it at twilight.
7 And they shall take some of the blood and put it on the two doorposts and on the lintel of the houses where they eat it.
10 Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.
19 I will give them an undivided heart and put a new spirit in them; I will remove from them their heart of stone and give them a heart of flesh.
15 Neither circumcision nor uncircumcision means anything; what counts is a new creation.
22 You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; 23 to be made new in the attitude of your minds; 24 and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.
2 On the first day of every week, each one of you should set aside a sum of money in keeping with his income, saving it up, so that when I come no collections will have to be made.
2 Out of the most severe trial, their overflowing joy and their extreme poverty welled up in rich generosity. 3 For I testify that they gave as much as they were able, and even beyond their ability. Entirely on their own, 4 they urgently pleaded with us for the privilege of sharing in this service to the saints. 5 And they did not do as we expected, but they gave themselves first to the Lord and then to us in keeping with God's will.
12 For if the willingness is there, the gift is acceptable according to what one has, not according to what he does not have. 13 Our desire is not that others might be relieved while you are hard pressed, but that there might be equality. 14 At the present time your plenty will supply what they need, so that in turn their plenty will supply what you need. Then there will be equality,
12 Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God's mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God — this is your spiritual act of worship.
6 "Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen: to loose the chains of injustice and untie the cords of the yoke, to set the oppressed free and break every yoke? 7 Is it not to share your food with the hungry and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter — when you see the naked, to clothe him, and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood? 8 Then your light will break forth like the dawn, and your healing will quickly appear; then your righteousness will go before you, and the glory of the Lord will be your rear guard. 9 Then you will call, and the Lord will answer; you will cry for help, and he will say: Here am I. "If you do away with the yoke of oppression, with the pointing finger and malicious talk,
22 But Samuel replied: "Does the Lord delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices as much as in obeying the voice of the Lord? To obey is better than sacrifice, and to heed is better than the fat of rams.
14 if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land.
16 Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego replied to the king, "O Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to defend ourselves before you in this matter. 17 If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to save us from it, and he will rescue us from your hand, O king. 18 But even if he does not, we want you to know, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up."
8 Then they shall eat the flesh on that night; roasted in fire, with unleavened bread and with bitter herbs they shall eat it.
9 Do not eat it raw, nor boiled at all with water, but roasted in fire--its head with its legs and its entrails.
10 You shall let none of it remain until morning, and what remains of it until morning you shall burn with fire.
11 And thus you shall eat it: with a belt on your waist, your sandals on your feet, and your staff in your hand. So you shall eat it in haste. It is the Lord's Passover.
11 Now the Bereans were of more noble character than the Thessalonians, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true.
15 and how from infancy you have known the holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus.
13 When Samuel reached him, Saul said, "The Lord bless you! I have carried out the Lord's instructions." 14 But Samuel said, "What then is this bleating of sheep in my ears? What is this lowing of cattle that I hear?" 15 Saul answered, "The soldiers brought them from the Amalekites; they spared the best of the sheep and cattle to sacrifice to the Lord your God, but we totally destroyed the rest." 16 "Stop!" Samuel said to Saul. "Let me tell you what the Lord said to me last night." "Tell me," Saul replied. 17 Samuel said, "Although you were once small in your own eyes, did you not become the head of the tribes of Israel? The Lord anointed you king over Israel. 18 And he sent you on a mission, saying, 'Go and completely destroy those wicked people, the Amalekites; make war on them until you have wiped them out.' 19 Why did you not obey the Lord? Why did you pounce on the plunder and do evil in the eyes of the Lord?"
10 Choose my instruction instead of silver, knowledge rather than choice gold,
15 But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect,
44 So you also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him.
11 And do this, understanding the present time. The hour has come for you to wake up from your slumber, because our salvation is nearer now than when we first believed. 12 The night is nearly over; the day is almost here. So let us put aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light.
11 Since everything will be destroyed in this way, what kind of people ought you to be? You ought to live holy and godly lives 12 as you look forward to the day of God and speed its coming. That day will bring about the destruction of the heavens by fire, and the elements will melt in the heat. 13 But in keeping with his promise we are looking forward to a new heaven and a new earth, the home of righteousness.
12 For I will pass through the land of Egypt on that night, and will strike all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, both man and beast; and against all the gods of Egypt I will execute judgment: I am the Lord.
13 Now the blood shall be a sign for you on the houses where you are. And when I see the blood, I will pass over you; and the plague shall not be on you to destroy you when I strike the land of Egypt.
5 Therefore judge nothing before the appointed time; wait till the Lord comes. He will bring to light what is hidden in darkness and will expose the motives of men's hearts. At that time each will receive his praise from God.
16 This will take place on the day when God will judge men's secrets through Jesus Christ, as my gospel declares.
10 You, then, why do you judge your brother? Or why do you look down on your brother? For we will all stand before God's judgment seat.
10 For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive what is due him for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad.
27 Just as man is destined to die once, and after that to face judgment,
9 Since we have now been justified by his blood, how much more shall we be saved from God's wrath through him!
13 The blood of goats and bulls and the ashes of a heifer sprinkled on those who are ceremonially unclean sanctify them so that they are outwardly clean. 14 How much more, then, will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself unblemished to God, cleanse our consciences from acts that lead to death, so that we may serve the living God!
18 For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your forefathers, 19 but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect.
19 Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus, 20 by a new and living way opened for us through the curtain, that is, his body, 21 and since we have a great priest over the house of God, 22 let us draw near to God with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water.
14 So this day shall be to you a memorial; and you shall keep it as a feast to the Lord throughout your generations. You shall keep it as a feast by an everlasting ordinance.
15 God also said to Moses, "Say to the Israelites, 'The Lord, the God of your fathers — the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob — has sent me to you.' This is my name forever, the name by which I am to be remembered from generation to generation.
4 So Joshua called together the twelve men he had appointed from the Israelites, one from each tribe, 5 and said to them, "Go over before the ark of the Lord your God into the middle of the Jordan. Each of you is to take up a stone on his shoulder, according to the number of the tribes of the Israelites, 6 to serve as a sign among you. In the future, when your children ask you, 'What do these stones mean?' 7 tell them that the flow of the Jordan was cut off before the ark of the covenant of the Lord. When it crossed the Jordan, the waters of the Jordan were cut off. These stones are to be a memorial to the people of Israel forever."
10 While Samuel was sacrificing the burnt offering, the Philistines drew near to engage Israel in battle. But that day the Lord thundered with loud thunder against the Philistines and threw them into such a panic that they were routed before the Israelites. 11 The men of Israel rushed out of Mizpah and pursued the Philistines, slaughtering them along the way to a point below Beth Car. 12 Then Samuel took a stone and set it up between Mizpah and Shen. He named it Ebenezer, saying, "Thus far has the Lord helped us."
24 and when he had given thanks, he broke it and said, "This is my body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of me." 25 In the same way, after supper he took the cup, saying, "This cup is the new covenant in my blood; do this, whenever you drink it, in remembrance of me." 26 For whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord's death until he comes.
The New Testament teaches a number of practical applications of the Passover for contemporary Christians. Let me outline some of them briefly.
(1) Because Christ is our Passover Lamb, we are God’s possession. The firstborn of Israel had to be redeemed because God had spared them, and thus they belonged to Him. While only some of those Israelites who were in Egypt were firstborn, and thus in need of being redeemed, all of us who have trusted in Christ belong to Him. Every child of God belongs to God, and must live in the light of belonging to Him. “You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your body” (1 Cor. 6:19-20). “You were bought at a price; do not become slaves of men” (1 Cor. 7:23). Since the firstborn of the Israelites belonged to God, they had to sacrifice them (in the case of an animal, except for the donkey, 13:13), or (in the case of a son) to offer a sacrifice to redeem them. Because God has spared us from His wrath by His mercy, we are to offer ourselves as a living sacrifice: “Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God—which is your spiritual worship” (Rom. 12:1). Because Christians have been redeemed by the Lamb of God, they do not belong to themselves, and they must therefore live out their lives as a living sacrifice to God. I fear that all too many presentations of the gospel do not inform people that when they come to faith in Christ, they cease to own themselves, and that they become Christ’s possession. In fact, all men belong to God by virtue of creation, and all Christians belong (doubly) to God by virtue of redemption. We cannot live our lives independently, autonomously, as Christians, but we must live them out as those who have been bought with a price and as those who belong to God. Just as God’s claims on the Israelites were spelled out in the Law, given a little later on in Israel’s history, so God’s claims on our lives as believers are given to us in the Scriptures. Let us heed His commandments well, for we belong to Him.
(2) Because Christ is our Passover lamb, we must live our lives in purity, in holy living. In the first epistle of Paul to the Corinthians, we read, “Get rid of the old yeast that you may be a new batch without yeast—as you really are. For Christ, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed. Therefore let us keep the Festival, not with the old yeast, the yeast of malice and wickedness, but with bread without yeast, the bread of sincerity and truth” (1 Cor. 5:6-8). In the context of this chapter in First Corinthians, Paul has been speaking of a Christian who was living with the wife of his father (5:1). The Corinthians had not done anything to remedy the situation, and even seemed to be proud of their liberality in this matter (5:2). Paul told them he had already acted (5:3-4), and that they should do likewise, by putting this man out of the assembly. The principle on which Paul based his instruction was that of the relationship between the sacrifice of the Passover lamb and the observance of the Feast of Unleavened Bread. The sacrifice of the Passover lamb set in motion the Feast of Unleavened Bread. Since Christ is our Passover lamb, and He has already been sacrificed, the Corinthians should begin the Feast of Unleavened Bread, looking for any sign of leaven (a symbol of sin) and putting it far away from them (5:7-8). Thus the fact that Christ is our Passover lamb necessitates maintaining purity in our lives, and in the church as well.
(3) The Passover teaches us the important role played by religious ceremony (liturgy, if you prefer) in the Christian’s experience. By the annual observance of Passover and the Feast of Unleavened Bread, God not only reminded His people of His mighty deeds in the past, but also taught them concerning the future. The institution of the Lord’s Table (“communion”) serves the same purposes. The observance of the Lord’s Table reminds the Christian of the salvation which our Lord accomplished by His death, burial, and resurrection (cf. Lu. 22:14-22; 1 Cor. 11:17-34). Unfortunately, Christians have come to take the remembrance of our Lord lightly, and do it infrequently, often as a kind of footnote to some other service. Let us learn to value and to practice those times of remembrance and anticipation which God has established and commanded us to do. Just as the Passover celebrations (including the redemption of the firstborn and the Feast of Unleavened Bread) provided an opportunity to instruct the children concerning God’s work in the past and its bearing on the present, so the Lord’s table and baptism provide us with teaching opportunities which we dare not neglect.
(4) The Passover (Passion) of our Lord is a pattern for Christians regarding suffering. While it is true that the Egyptians suffered for their sins in the plague of the firstborn (and the other plagues too), we ought not overlook the suffering of the Israelites during the 400 years of oppression, and even during the days which immediately preceded the exodus. Some Christians believe that suffering is not to be a part of the experience of one who trusts in the Lord and is obedient to Him. This is entirely untrue. Ultimately, it was not those many Passover lambs which spared the Israelite firstborn from death, it was the suffering and death of the Lamb of God, who died for all who would believe. The Passover necessitated the suffering of the Son of God. The degree to which He suffered can only be estimated in the light of the holiness of God and the dread which our Lord experienced in the Garden of Gethsemane when He anticipated the cross. In the first epistle of Peter, the apostle informs Christians who are suffering that the passion, the suffering of the Lord Jesus, the Passover lamb, was a pattern for the suffering of all the saints (cf. 1 Pet. 2:16-24). The Lord Jesus, as the Passover lamb, is the pattern for Christian suffering, and the way it should be dealt with. Paul also speaks of our suffering in “Passover” terms. In the 8th chapter of his epistle to the Romans, Paul writes of the victory which the Christian can have in suffering (8:31-35). He then quotes this passage from Psalm 44 to show that we, like Christ, are called to suffer as “sheep”: “For your sake we face death all day long; we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered” (Rom. 8:36). In the context of Psalm 44, from which this citation was taken, we learn that those saints who suffered as described above were those who were faithful to God, not those who were disobedient. The Passover lamb is therefore a pattern for the saints, showing us that innocent suffering is often a part of God’s will for the righteous, and that through the suffering of the saints, God’s purposes may be accomplished. Let no one seek to suffer in this way, but let no one dare to suggest that suffering in the life of the saint is inappropriate, the result of either sin or unbelief. The suffering of the Passover lamb is the pattern for the saints to follow when they suffer.
There are parallels between the salvation of Christians and the deliverance of the Israelites on that special night in Egypt. These are voiced in many sermons and devotional presentations. Listed below are several such comparisons.
1. Israel’s deliverance was from impending doom, and so is ours.
2. Israel’s deliverance was of God’s devising, and so is ours.
3. Israel’s deliverance was made possible by obedient faith, and so is ours.
4. Israel’s deliverance required continued faithfulness, and so does ours.
5. Israel’s deliverance demanded a sacrifice without blemish, and so did ours.
6. Israel’s deliverance was accomplished by a sacrifice that was a substitute, and so did ours.
1. God marks the importance of His dealings with mankind through the Jewish calendar (Exod. 12:1-2)
2. God graciously makes accommodation for what is lacking in the lives of His people (vss. 3-4)
3. God's instructions for carrying out His work are exact and meticulous in every detail (vss. 5-10)
4. When God is ready to move in our lives, we need to be ready to follow His leading (vs. 11)
5. God judges the rebellious but shows mercy to those who obey (vss. 12-13)
6. Whatever God establishes is permanent; it will remain forever (vs. 14)