God was quite a meticulous planner, when it came to the rites and rituals handed on to God’s people. These are very specific instructions that detail what to do, how to do it, and when to do it. As with any rituals of preparation, these activities build suspense toward an upcoming event that would shape the Israelites’ history forever. For each family to do just what God asked at exactly the same time would take a monumental community effort. Just how many unblemished, year-old male calves were available? Imagine the sight of every household roasting a lamb over an open fire at the same time! How disconcerting it must have been for the Egyptians to see every person in every household dressed for travel on the same night. When routines are abruptly disrupted, the contrast can be quite jarring. Imagine the excitement and anxiety caused by such a scene!
But this is a God of abundance. This is a grand scene fit for an extravagant God. The people of Israel needed that little bit of time to prepare for the massive undertaking of moving an entire nation out from under oppressive leadership into the wilderness (figuratively and literally). Even God could not move a nation if that nation was unprepared or unwilling to move. The effort took both an extravagant God and extraordinarily trusting people, all doing their part to make it happen.
We are just weeks away from the beginning of the holiday season. It may be one of the few things that motivates entire nations to act in similar ways at the same time to accomplish a similar goal. Festivities, gift giving, parties – these are all relational events. Our community comes together to celebrate relationships with one another and with God. What activities could you lift up or add to highlight the community/relational nature of the holidays?
Exodus 12:1-13; 13:1-8:
The Lord said to Moses and Aaron in the land of Egypt: This month shall mark for you the beginning of months; it shall be the first month of the year for you. Tell the whole congregation of Israel that on the tenth of this month they are to take a lamb for each family, a lamb for each household. If a household is too small for a whole lamb, it shall join its closest neighbor in obtaining one; the lamb shall be divided in proportion to the number of people who eat of it. Your lamb shall be without blemish, a year-old male; you may take it from the sheep or from the goats. You shall keep it until the fourteenth day of this month; then the whole assembled congregation of Israel shall slaughter it at twilight. They shall take some of the blood and put it on the two doorposts and the lintel of the houses in which they eat it. They shall eat the lamb that same night; they shall eat it roasted over the fire with unleavened bread and bitter herbs. Do not eat any of it raw or boiled in water, but roasted over the fire, with its head, legs, and inner organs. You shall let none of it remain until the morning; anything that remains until the morning you shall burn. This is how you shall eat it: your loins girded, your sandals on your feet, and your staff in your hand; and you shall eat it hurriedly. It is the passover of the Lord. For I will pass through the land of Egypt that night, and I will strike down every firstborn in the land of Egypt, both human beings and animals; on all the gods of Egypt I will execute judgments: I am the Lord. The blood shall be a sign for you on the houses where you live: when I see the blood, I will pass over you, and no plague shall destroy you when I strike the land of Egypt.
The Lord said to Moses: Consecrate to me all the firstborn; whatever is the first to open the womb among the Israelites, of human beings and animals, is mine. Moses said to the people, “Remember this day on which you came out of Egypt, out of the house of slavery, because the Lord brought you out from there by strength of hand; no leavened bread shall be eaten. Today, in the month of Abib, you are going out. When the Lord brings you into the land of the Canaanites, the Hittites, the Amorites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites, which he swore to your ancestors to give you, a land flowing with milk and honey, you shall keep this observance in this month. Seven days you shall eat unleavened bread, and on the seventh day there shall be a festival to the Lord. Unleavened bread shall be eaten for seven days; no leavened bread shall be seen in your possession, and no leaven shall be seen among you in all your territory. You shall tell your child on that day, ‘It is because of what the Lord did for me when I came out of Egypt.’