Tuesday, May 21, 2013

This Day Will Be A Permanent Memorial -- Exodus 12:14


“Now this day will be a memorial to you, and you shall celebrate it as a feast to the Lord; throughout your generations you are to celebrate it as a permanent ordinance.”
 
Before we begin deliberations on this passage, let me state that a friend of mine provided me with an interesting verse about the question we raised concerning the possibility of non-Israelites escaping Egypt in the Exodus. Deuteronomy 29:11 says that there were “alien” people within their camps.  Albeit we cannot say for certain whether they came from Egypt or joined them along the way in the wilderness, Exodus 12:19 which we will study shortly, also uses that word implying that there were ‘aliens’ among the Hebrews from the start.  All this gives us more data for our reflection.  Finally, some think the word “rabble” in Numbers 11:24 that we will come to later or the reference to a “mixed multitude” later in this chapter that we are studying here (Exodus 12) is a reference to non-Israelites.  However, it is also possible it is simply a reference to the different types of people from within the Hebrew ranks.  The point being, we do not know.
Now let us return to Exodus 12:14.  God wanted this day, this Passover feast and night, to be a memorial to all His children.  He wanted it celebrated as a “feast”.  It was to be a permanent celebration.  And it was to be celebrated by all the generations that came after those that left Egypt during the Exodus.
I started thinking about my celebration of the Passover and Easter.  First of all, I consider myself as a Christian to be a “spiritual son” of Abraham (see Galatians 3:7).  Secondly, I was born in Greece and even after coming to Canada as a child, we continued celebrating the major tradition of Greeks having fresh lamb at Easter time.  It seems, however, that over the years, for one reason or another, Christians seem to have moved away from the celebration of the Passover or Easter meal celebration.  It may be that Christmas has become a bigger holiday in North America and taken over.  It may also be that more Christians are failing to recognize their spiritual roots with Abraham, Moses, and the Jews.  Sadly to say, it may also be as one brother told me recently after I had taught on our connection with Israel, that some of us still have some anti-Semitic tendencies.  Perhaps it is time to rethink how we ourselves celebrate Easter.
I note two very strong verbs in this verse.  First, this day “will be” a memorial.  Secondly, “you shall celebrate it”.  No doubt, many can argue that this is all meant for the Jews, and not for us today.  Today we have our Communion Supper and we celebrate that regularly – some annually, some monthly, some weekly because Jesus said “when-so-ever you do it, do it in remembrance of Me.”  He did not give us a command as to when to do it.  We have the freedom to choose the frequency.  And perhaps they that argue that what is talked about here in Exodus 12 is only meant for the Jews, are right.
But let us take a little different perspective.  It may be perfectly all right for us today to neglect this feast celebration God commanded of the Hebrews exiting Egypt three thousand years ago.  But would it be wrong to actually celebrate?  I believe not.  Let me explain.
First, the God of Moses and Aaron is the same God to whom you and I belong.  And our God does not change.  If He wanted that for His children then, but may not demand it of us now – is that a reason for us to neglect following it?  I think not.  You see, God had a purpose for demanding it of His children.  That purpose may well have to do with the idea that we are mere mortals who tend to forget, tend to stray, from remembering what God has done and is doing for us.  We need these celebrations to help remember our history, or in our case, the history of our “spiritual ancestors”.
Secondly, I believe we are indeed part of the “generations” of those very people, albeit “spiritual generations”.  We were grafted into those Jewish roots, the roots of the Children of Israel. (Romans 11:17-21)
Thirdly, I cannot help but believe that when we celebrate the Passover, or Easter in our case, appropriately “with a feast” and with thanksgiving, we make God glad.  This is no different than when a son who has gone to the big city to get educated and become someone in his own mind, returns to his parents’ village and sees his mom and dad stomping on grapes to make wine.  He takes his shoes off, rolls up his pants, washes his feet, and joins in.  His parents are ecstatic.  It is human nature to have your children, even though they have learned new ways to do things, join you in your ways.  And I believe God has a bit of that desire too, if we have it.  After all, we were created in His image.
As an aside, you may wish to take some time to learn about the symbolism in the way the Jewish Passover Meal is celebrated.  You can simply Google that on the Internet.  It is well worth it.
There is a phrase worth noting in this verse.  It is “to the Lord.”  Our celebration of this event is to be feast “to the Lord.”  It is for His honor, not for ours.  Can we really neglect it?  And you will note that it was important enough to God to make it an “ordinance” --  a decree, rule, order, law, edict, dictum, etc.  Get the picture? 
So how do you celebrate Easter?   I know for one, I’ll be doing it a little different come next year.  Maybe I can even talk my daughter or son-in-law into doing at least a leg of lamb on the barbecue.  And as I eat it a little of it with family and friends, I will remember my spiritual ancestors and how they ate on their last night in Egypt.
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