Exodus 12:14-20 (NKJV)
‘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. Seven days you shall eat unleavened bread. On the first day you shall remove leaven from your houses. For whoever eats leavened bread from the first day until the seventh day, that person shall be cut off from Israel. On the first day there shall be a holy convocation, and on the seventh day there shall be a holy convocation for you. No manner of work shall be done on them; but that which everyone must eat—that only may be prepared by you. So you shall observe the Feast of Unleavened Bread, for on this same day I will have brought your armies out of the land of Egypt. Therefore you shall observe this day throughout your generations as an everlasting ordinance. In the first month, on the fourteenth day of the month at evening, you shall eat unleavened bread, until the twenty-first day of the month at evening. For seven days no leaven shall be found in your houses, since whoever eats what is leavened, that same person shall be cut off from the congregation of Israel, whether he is a stranger or a native of the land. You shall eat nothing leavened; in all your dwellings you shall eat unleavened bread.’ ”
This is the first holiday instituted by the LORD – even the Sabbath isn’t mentioned until Exodus 16:23. God hasn’t performed this miracle yet and already He’s instructing the Jews in how to celebrate it. The build-up is without precedent. If this were a human endeavor, it’d be oversold.
But it isn’t. Just as this miracle was built up to the Egyptians with a precise forecast, it is being built up to the Jews with a specific ceremony. Everything points to it being remembered.
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.
Of course the Egyptian dictatorship doesn’t want it to be remembered, and the evidence appears to have been suppressed.
But the Jews are required to remember it and to celebrate it in the prescribed manner only. This is so important that the rule is given, “For whoever eats leavened bread from the first day until the seventh day, that person shall be cut off from Israel.”
As always, God’s glory is the point.
Holiday literally means holy day; that’s the Old English root. Unfortunately, that original meaning has faded in our culture. We love our holidays, but they’re anything but holy.
Fortunately, Jews have done an impressive job of staying true to the meaning of holidays. Even Jews who could fairly be described as atheists practice Passover solemnly and with precision. They glorify God beautifully.
Oh how I wish we did as well with Easter.
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