New Testament Christians, that I know, tend to avoid spending too much time in the Old Testament. I think this is a shame. We can learn so much about God from the Old Testament. We also gain understanding into how the New Testament relies upon and builds upon the Old Testament. From understanding the Old Testament better, we better understand Jesus, who observed the Old Testament law.
Things we might learn from the Passover meal and the events it celebrated:
- The blood of the Passover lamb provided salvation for the Hebrews – 1 Cor. 5:7 refers to Christ as the church’s Passover Lamb. (see also Jn 1:29, & Rev 21:27)
- Faith & Works: The Israelites needed faith, but they also needed to act. They had to paint their doorframe with blood. Just staying indoors and trusting God would have ended in death.
- Is Baptism a work? For Church of Christ members (and others) who believe that baptism plays a role in one’s salvation the Passover provides a good example. The blood around the door didn’t save anyone. The Hebrews actions in putting the blood there didn’t give them any merit. They were saved by God’s grace when they followed God’s instructions. Did God need to see blood to know who His people were? No. But would He save them without this action on their part? Again, No.
- The importance of putting God first: In Exodus 12:2 God gives His people a new calendar that begins in the month that He delivered them from Egypt. This was radically different from the calendar they kept in Egypt.
- The importance of community: According to Exodus 12:4, small households were to share the Passover meal with other families. This was not a time to be alone.
- Give God your Best: I believe Exodus 12:5 gives some of the earliest instructions concerning acceptable sacrifices, and immediately we see that the lamb is to be “without blemish”. God demands more than our leftovers.
- God’s Grudge with Yeast: In Exodus 12:14-20 God institutes the Feast of Unleavened Bread. During the seven days of the feast, if anyone has yeast in their house, they’re to be “cut off from Israel”. That seems pretty extreme. There’s not a lot of explanation given in Exodus as to why God doesn’t like yeast, except in 12:39, where their flight from Egypt was so urgent that they didn’t have time for dough to rise. The New Testament sometimes equates yeast with sin & false teaching (Matt 16:6-12, 1 Cor. 5:6-9). But it’s not always a bad thing. In Lk 12:1 Jesus calls hypocrisy “yeast”, but in 13:18-21 the kingdom of God is compared to yeast.
- Deliverance from Slavery: The whole concept of God delivering His people from slavery to a Promised Land resonates with Christians who view themselves as having been rescued from the slavery of sin and delivered to an eternal Promised Land. (Rom 6:15-23)
- The Lord’s Supper: Since Jesus was celebrating the Passover with his disciples when he instituted the Lord’s Supper we should be able to apply something from that original setting to our celebration today. Most evangelical churches seem to prefer “Lord’s Supper”, or “communion” rather than “Eucharist” (which comes from the Greek word for “thanksgiving”) to describe our commemoration today. However, since the Passover was a celebration of thankfulness and all the Last Supper accounts have Jesus offering prayers of thanks, maybe we need to emphasise thankfulness more as we come around the Lord’s table.
That wasn’t actually what I intended to write about today, but I think it’s a good topic. Can you add anything to this list? Do you think some of my suggestions and connections are reaches? Please join the conversation by leaving a comment.