Pesach - The Heart of Passover!

"And it shall come to pass, when your children shall say unto you, 'What mean ye by this service?' That ye shall say, 'It is the sacrifice of the Lord's passover (pesach), who passed over (pesach) the houses of the children of Israel in Egypt, when He smote the Egyptians, and delivered our houses.'" (Exodus 12:26,27)

There, in a very few words, is the original Haggadah, the story, to be passed from one generation to the next, of Israel's deliverance from Egypt. It is remarkable both in its conciseness and its completeness.

We might ask: Where is all the action to capture the imagination of children young and old?
The narrative which surrounds this text is full of motion.
For example, in Exodus chapters 11-15 alone, at least five Hebrew verbs describe travel:

Yet, in this Haggadah, these words are missing. Instead, the word "Pesach" occurs twice, as if for emphasis. What makes this word different from all the others? Pesach, as used in Scripture, almost always relates to Passover. Both the Feast and the Paschal Lamb are called Pesach. Out of this context, the word occurs in only three other biblical passages, where it is translated as follows:

At first, the meanings, in the first two instances, do not appear to fit our subject. But notice that in both cases, energy is expended by persons who remain in place, rather than travelling on. The Isaiah passage (above) makes the meaning clear. When God 'passed over' the houses of Israel, He did not leave them to move against their enemies. "For the Lord will pass through (abar) to smite the Egyptians..." But in contrast, at the houses of Israel, "the Lord will passover (pesach) the door, and will not permit the destroyer to come into your houses to destroy you." (Ex 12:23) In the time of crises, the Lord hovers over His people to guard them, even while He takes action against their enemies.

But why does Israel need protection? Are they also in danger of being destroyed by the death angel? Yes. The land of Goshen, where Israel dwelt in Egypt, was not off limits to the destroyer; "...all the land" would feel his touch (Ex 11:6). Neither man nor beast would be exempt. When the fire of God's wrath falls, everything which is not holy must be consumed. Israel, though chosen, was not immune from sin and its consequences.
"For there is not a just man upon earth, that doeth good, and sinneth not." (Ecclesiastes 7:20)
"The soul that sinneth, it shall die." (Ezekiel 18:20)

Thus we see the importance of the Pesach, the sacrificial Lamb, which set Israel apart from Egypt. The Lamb suffered the death due to those within the house. His blood, upon the doorposts, declared that sin had already been judged. Further judgment was therefore averted.
"When I see the blood, I will pass over (pesach) you." (Ex 12:13)

But there is more here than protection from judgment. Through the Lamb, Israel was made clean. The Holy One, who cannot abide sin, could now enter the camp in peace. His presence would now go with, before, and behind them. Here is Immanuel, God with us. He is the eye of the storm. In the presence of God, there is peace, though His winds of judgment blow fiercely.

Unleavened bread, so much a part of Passover, speaks of this cleanness, and of the need to guard against future contamination. Sin, like leaven, so easily permeates the whole lump with its ferment. But it was the blood of the Lamb, not the lack of leaven that made the people clean.

Likewise, it was the Lamb, not unleavened bread, that provided strength at the start of the journey. Because of the haste of their departure, their unrisen dough and kneading troughs were "bound up in their clothes upon their shoulders." (Ex 12:34) But each person was to partake of the roasted Lamb.

Indeed, without the Pesach, the Lamb, there would have been no Passover, no Exodus, no deliverance from Egypt. These things were beyond the power of the people. Did you notice, in the short Haggadah, that every action mentioned is performed by God? Israel could no more make itself holy, than it could roll back the waters of the Red Sea. But God provided. It was as Moses said, "Fear ye not, stand still, and see the salvation of the Lord..." (Ex 14:13)

God delivered Israel with a high hand and a strong arm. As we have seen, the Lamb was at the heart of that salvation. His blood marked the end of slavery (to Egypt, and to sin), and the beginning of a walk with God.

Why, then, does Isaiah, the prophet, lament at Israel's unbelief, concerning the Lamb?...

"Who has believed our report?
and to whom is the arm of the Lord revealed?...
He was wounded for our transgressions,
He was bruised for our iniquities:
The chastisement of our peace was upon Him;
and with His stripes we are healed....
...he is brought as a lamb to the slaughter,
and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so he openeth not his mouth...
[excerpts from Isaiah 53; Consider this brief chapter, which speaks of the Messiah.]

With such a Lamb, should we be content with just a shank bone?

A friend

P.S.: To further investigate the Pesach, the Lamb, see "Isaiah 53: Of Whom Does the Prophet Speak?".

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