The Scriptorium

Passover

Israel's most holy feast. Deuteronomy 16.1-8

A Holy Community: Deuteronomy 15, 16 (4)

Opening Prayer: Psalm 118.26-29
Blessed is he who comes in the name of the LORD!
We have blessed you from the house of the LORD.
God is the LORD,
And He has given us light;
Bind the sacrifice with cords to the horns of the altar.
You are my God, and I will praise You;
You are my God, I will exalt You.
Oh, give thanks to the LORD, for He is good!
For His mercy endures forever.

Psalm 118.26-29

(St. George’s Windsor: Come, Ye Thankful People, Come)
Blessed are they who in His Name come and Jesus’ grace proclaim.
God His light upon us shines in the Savior’s sacrifice.
Praise and thanks to You, O Lord; we extol Your holy Word!
Thanks to You for You are good! Thanks to our great loving God!

Today’s Text: Deuteronomy 16.1-8

Preparation
1. Why should the Israelites observe the Passover?

2. Where was the Passover to be observed?

Meditation
We note that all Israel was to come together to the central place God had chosen for the celebration of Passover (vv. 1, 5-7). We can only imagine how this would have rekindled the fires of Israel’s devotion to God, as they came together to remember that passing-over event which led to Israel’s deliverance from Egypt.

Unleavened bread would have reminded the people of the haste with which their forebears left Egypt. The bread they made then would not have had time to rise, so they made and ate it without leaven (v. 3). The Lord used these symbols – unleavened bread, the paschal lamb – to teach and remind His people of the grace they had known from the beginning of their salvation. Jesus gave us the symbols of the wine and the cup, as well as baptism, to remind us of the grace we have received through His saving work. These symbols matter; they should be treated with the greatest devotion and gratitude.

The Passover was the most important of the annual feasts; however, it was not always regarded that way, nor did the people keep it as faithfully as they should have. God knew that these feasts and sacred assemblies would be important to Israel’s fulfilling her calling as a holy people unto the Lord. The same is true of the symbols, assemblies, and holy days that God has appointed for His Church. Israel’s neglect of these symbols contributed to their decline throughout the Old Testament. But it was their lack of a heart for God that was their ultimate downfall (Deut. 5.29). It may be a warning sign to us of a heart growing cold if we do not regard the Lord’s symbols with as much seriousness as He intends.

Treasure Old and New: Matthew 13.52; Psalm 119.162
The drama was palpable. Twilight into darkness. The smells attenuating the hastily prepared food. The packing of belongings. The blood of the lamb painted above the door to placate the death angel. The noises of chatter and crying. The feelings of expectation and wonder. In future celebrations of the Passover, this drama was to be recreated. The wonder restored. The appreciation spoken: “that you may remember the day in which you came out of the land of Egypt all the days of your life” (v. 3). Whether our understanding of salvation was a process or an outstanding event, we too must remember with awe and appreciation how God brought us out of the house of bondage. He opened our eyes, in order to turn us from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God, that we may receive forgiveness of sins and an inheritance among those who are sanctified by faith in Christ Jesus (Acts 26.18). And because this is true, we say with the Psalmist, “I remember Your name in the night, O LORD, and I keep Your law” (Ps. 119.55).

Reflection

1. Why do you think God chose to include drama (Passover, communion) in our life with Him?
 
2. How should you prepare for communion, in order to put the most into it and get the most out of it?

3. How can believers help one another to appreciate the value of the Lord’s Supper?

Because by this sign they were reminded of their having escaped in haste, as it were from the very flames; therefore does Moses so often enforce the prohibition of leaven. And here this reason for it is alleged, viz., that their recollection should be recalled to the affliction from which they were rescued; for they must needs have been involved in the greatest straits, when there was no time even for baking bread.
John Calvin (1509-1564), Commentary on Deuteronomy 16.3

Lord, make me always mindful of Jesus’ sacrifice for me, so that I…

Closing Prayer: Psalm 118.14-24
Jesus feeds us with strength from His Word. Call on Him to nourish you, strengthen you, and give you wisdom and guidance to obey Him throughout this day.

Psalm 118.14-24
(St. George’s Windsor: Come, Ye Thankful People, Come)
In the Savior we are strong! He is all our strength and song!
To His grace now raise your voice; in His righteousness rejoice!
For the Lord does valiantly; we shall live eternally.
Praise His works with all your breath, you whom He redeems from death.

All who know Christ’s righteousness His great Name now thank and bless!
Though His gate full righteous is, He our saving mercy is.
Cast aside and left alone, Christ is now our Cornerstone!
God has made His Son and Word our salvation: Praise the Lord!

T. M. and Susie Moore

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Except as indicated, Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved. All quotations from Church Fathers from
Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy: Ancient Christian Commentary Series III, Joseph T. Lienhard, S. J. ed. in collaboration with Ronnie J. Rombs, General Editor Thomas C. Oden (Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 2001). All quotations from John Calvin from John Calvin, Commentaries on The Four Last Books of Moses Arranged in the Order of A Harmony, Rev. Charles William Bingham M. A., tr. and ed. (Edinburgh: The Calvin Translation Society, 1863. All psalms for singing are from The Ailbe Psalter (available by clicking here).

T.M. Moore

T. M. Moore is principal of The Fellowship of Ailbe, a spiritual fellowship in the Celtic Christian tradition. He and his wife, Susie, make their home in Essex Junction, VT.
Books by T. M. Moore