The Meaning of Passover

Soon we will celebrate the festival of Passover, as commanded by Yahweh in Leviticus 23.5. It's an awesome celebration of the mighty power of the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. But as I look around the Web and read the newspapers and listen to people talk, it seems like there are many different Passovers. Some proclaim it to be the celebration of human freedom, others say it is a reminder that we must free ourselves from those things that enslave us, and still others claim that we must understand the "contemporary" meaning of Passover.

Where do these interpretations come from? Certainly not from the Scriptures for Yahweh says, "And when your children ask you, 'What do you mean by this rite?' you shall say, 'It is the passover sacrifice to Yahweh, because He passed over the houses of the Israelites in Egypt when He smote the Egyptians, but saved our houses.' The people then bowed low in homage." (Exodus 12:26-27). Yahweh proclaimed through Moses, "Observe the month of the early grain and offer a passover sacrifice to Yahweh your God, for it was in the month of the early grain, at night, that Yahweh your God freed you from Egypt." (Deuteronomy 16:1). And again, "That was for Yahweh a night of vigil to bring them out of the land of Egypt; that same night is Yahweh's, one of vigil for all the children of Israel throughout the ages." (Exodus 12:42).

So what happened? How did we get all these other interpretations when the Scriptures are quite clear of what we are celebrating?

I know that many people will say that there is nothing wrong with celebrating the freedom Yahweh has given us in our lives. And they're right. Just do it on another day. Don't take away from what Yahweh did on this night.

If we just stop and consider what really happened when Yahweh judged Egypt and delivered Israel, it will become clear that it was an awesome event. Put aside the "stories" you heard and realize that this was a real, historical event. It really happened! Think of how it must have seemed to the Egyptians and Hebrews as they watched this judgment unfold, growing more intense with each one. Think of having the frogs so thick that they "come up and go into your house and into your bedrooms ... and into your ovens and into your kneading bowls." How about a plague that kills all of the Egyptians livestock but doesn't touch a single one of yours? Imagine a storm of hail mixed with fire coming down so heavy that it kills anyone who is outside. Think of what it must have been like when all of Egypt was plunged into thick darkness for three days. They couldn't light a candle in their houses. And they couldn't even see each other. Yet, when they looked over at the Hebrews in Goshen, they had light in their dwellings. And finally, consider what it must have been like on that first Passover. After asking your Egyptian neighbors for silver and gold and other items — of which you received an abundance — you would have painted your door posts and lintels with blood from a young lamb you recently slayed. You then had a dinner with your family, during which all of you are dressed and ready to move out. Then, around midnight you begin to hear the screams and cries and wailing from the Egyptian households (and others without the blood) — the slaying of the first born in every house without the blood on the door posts. That includes Pharaoh and his family, down to the slaves, and the cattle. Eventually, it happens in every house without blood on the door posts. From what I can tell, the population of Egypt at that time is estimated to be 3-6 million people! And then you're told by Moses to grab your stuff, you're leaving Egypt for good. Wow! That must have been awesome! What a mighty, powerful work of Yahweh!

To say that Passover means anything else but Yahweh's delivery of Israel (as He Himself stated) is to negate the work of Yahweh in this instance. This deliverance of Israel by Yahweh is part of His plan of redemption for the entire creation. It's wrong to attempt to place other meanings to this festival. It takes away from what Yahweh did, and Yahweh wanted to make sure that Israel and all of the world remembered how He judged Egypt for enslaving His people. It is a warning to the nations. Egypt never again rose to the stature of power it once was.

So let's remember what really happened 3,500 years ago. Glory and honor to Yahweh — the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, the Creator of all things.

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