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The Passover Night


There are literally dozens of texts in the Bible admonishing believers to observe holy days. From Genesis right through to the Revelation one can find evidence concerning either the weekly or the annual Sabbaths of Yahweh the Almighty God of Israel. By way of comparison, there is only one text in all the Bible (that I know of) which contains a specific command about the observance of a night. It is found in Exodus 12:42. I quote its three parts: To enable to reader to understand the command in this verse, we will consider it in the above three parts and then summarise our findings. This text of scripture is referring to the Passover Night, the 14th Abib, the first month in the sacred calendar. This night begins the week of Unleavened Bread. On this particular night the Passover Lamb was eaten, its blood having been sprinkled a short while before on the lintels and door posts of the believers' houses. On this night Yahweh the God of Israel totally broke the Egyptian slave-yoke from His people's neck. Read the account for yourself in Exodus chapters 12 and 13 and you will see that the Passover Night is a night to remember. But it is far more than that, for the command contains vital detail.

1. A Night to be Much Observed

"It is a night to be much observed unto the Lord."

Much observed! How does one observe a night? Days, we know, may be observed by resting from one's labours; their hours being devoted to worship, praise, prayer and good deeds. But how does one observe a night, when most people rest anyway?

According to Strong's Bible Dictionary this word shimmur {shim-moor'} translated 'observed' means: night watch, watching, vigil
According to Cassell's New English Dictionary, to keep vigil is to:

So the Passover Night is a night to stay awake, a night of vigil and watchfulness before a Feast. Or, as the Knox Bible says, "A night for keeping vigil in the Lord's honour."

2. For bringing them out of Egypt

The next part of the verse says the Passover Night is to be observed unto the Lord (Yahweh)

"for bringing them out of the land of Egypt."

Here is the reason for its observance. It is observed in Yahweh's honour because it is a night of deliverance from slavery. We will not attempt to describe the horrors of Israel's slavery in Egypt, because we cannot. Suffice it to say that the Passover night is observed in the Almighty's honour because it is a Night of Liberation. Bear in mind that it was on the Passover Night that the Almighty shattered the pride of Egypt by slaying the eldest son in every unbelieving Egyptian household: from the first born son of the Pharaoh on the throne, to the first born son of the prisoner in the dungeon. Not a single unbelieving family in all Egypt escaped that awful plague. All, except those who had applied the blood of the Passover Lamb to their door posts and lintels, were visited with death! Yes, the reason for observing the Passover night is an extremely good one and because of this we shall also consider the role of the Lamb's blood: for in very truth the Passover Lamb's blood is to the Sign of God what ink is to a signature.

3. All the Children of Israel

"The Passover Night is to be observed by all the children of Israel in their generations."

Note those words "All the children of Israel." Who is Israel? This term means far more than just the natural descendants of Jacob, whose name was changed to Israel after he had wrestled with God and prevailed. (Genesis 32:28). The term "children of Israel" includes every truly converted person who seeks Yahweh's mercy and blessing as Jacob did. Yes, every true believer in the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob is an Israelite. This is what the New Testament teaches.
Romans 2:28-29 "For he is not a Jew, which is one outwardly; neither is that circumcision, which is outward in the flesh: But he is a Jew, which is one inwardly; and circumcision is that of the heart, in the spirit, and not in the letter; whose praise is not of men, but of God."
Galations 3:6-8 "Even as Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness. Know ye therefore that they which are of faith, the same are the children of Abraham. And the scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the heathen through faith, preached before the gospel unto Abraham, saying, In thee shall all nations be blessed."
Galations 3:29 "And if ye be Christ's, then are ye Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise."

This means that every true Christian is an Israelite. It follows that in this verse God is inviting all Christians to observe the Passover Night in honour of the victory won by the Blood of the Lamb. More about the blood later.

4. In Their Generations

The phrase "in their generations" is also meaningful. Other translations use the words "generation after generation," "age after age," "for all time" etc. Why does Yahweh, the Almighty God of Israel, use such powerful language in this apparently insignificant verse? Are Christians perhaps in danger of missing something of real value here by ignoring this weighty language? We in Stewarton Bible School think so. It is our opinion that hidden in this astonishing verse is a truth of wondrous worth: that the whole experience of Israel's slavery in Egypt: Yes, the whole experience from beginning to end was a prophetic drama, a living object lesson to the entire universe of how Satan would persistently try to wipe out the true people of God with persecution and hard labour just as Pharaoh did to ancient Israel. And also of how Yahweh would at His appointed time completely shatter Satan's evil system and liberate His followers who display faith in the Blood of the Lamb.

It is only in this context, that is, by comparison with ancient Israel's deliverance from Pharaoh, that the invitation contained in that verse about the Passover Night can even begin to have meaning for Christians in this age. For the truth is: Jesus Christ (Yeshua the Messiah) is the real Passover Lamb and Satan is the Pharaoh of this world. And in this verse the God of Israel is inviting all Israelites (Jew and Gentile believers) in "every generation" to observe the Passover Night in His Son's honour. Because it was on that night that Jesus, the Lamb of God, began to shed his blood in order to liberate mankind from Satan's domain of sin, slavery and death.

The command requires that the Lamb's death and victory over Satan be remembered by the redeemed host "generations after generation," " age after age" - "for all eternity." It will be done.

5. The Passover Service

Since the death of Jesus at Calvary, there is no longer any need to splash a literal lamb's blood on the door posts and lintels of our houses. (See the SBS article, Animal Sacrifices, are they Necessary? [75K]) There is, however, the urgent requirement to celebrate the Passover Service with the new covenant emblems of bread and wine.
John 6:47-51 "Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me hath everlasting life. I am that bread of life. Your fathers did eat manna in the wilderness, and are dead. This is the bread which cometh down from heaven, that a man may eat thereof, and not die. I am the living bread which came down from heaven: if any man eat of this bread, he shall live for ever: and the bread that I will give is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world."
Matthew 26:26-28 "And as they were eating, Jesus took bread, and blessed it, and brake it, and gave it to the disciples, and said, Take, eat; this is my body. And he took the cup, and gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying, Drink ye all of it; For this is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins."
1 Corinthians 11:24 "And when he had given thanks, he brake it, and said, Take, eat: this is my body, which is broken for you: this do in remembrance of me."

These texts plainly teach that all true believers in the Messiah should partake of the bread and the wine in honour of his death. All memorial services are held only once a year and the Passover Service is no exception. It should be held only once a year on the evening of the 14th Abib, the first month in the sacred calendar. (See the Calendar Chart for more details.)

6. Keeping Vigil

After partaking of the Passover emblems of bread and wine, the true believer should keep vigil - till midnight at the very least: for it was at midnight that the destroyer struck in ancient Egypt.

We have learned that to observe the Passover Night means to "keep vigil," to "watch and pray." Do believers living in this generation need to keep vigil? The answer is yes we do. In fact the need to obey this vigil command is more important now than it has ever been: because the midnight of the world is fast approaching. Remember that it was at midnight that the destroyer went through the land of Egypt and slaughtered all the first born (Exodus 12:23). Yes, we need to watch and pray at all times. But on the Passover Night we need to keep vigil as well. We need to stay awake and give ourselves to prayer - at least till midnight. This instruction is more important to our generation than those before. We have the perfect example of Jesus himself, who on that memorable Passover Night recorded in the gospels, obeyed the vigil requirement of Exodus 12:42 in every detail. His vigil in the garden of Gethsemane was the finest lesson of watchfulness and prayer the universe has ever witnessed. Repeatedly he warned his disciples to stay awake and watch with him - at least for that fateful hour just before midnight. But they all fell asleep and when that hour of temptation came, they were all unprepared and forsook him and fled. (Matt.26:56) Oh what a lesson for us is their experience. How much more do we need to keep vigil than those early disciples! How will you stand when the Hour of Temptation comes to you? Bear in mind that the Destroyer (Abaddon/Apollyon) is scheduled to strike again in the near future.
Matthew 26:40-44 "And he cometh unto the disciples, and findeth them asleep, and saith unto Peter, What, could ye not watch with me one hour? Watch and pray, that ye enter not into temptation: the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak. He went away again the second time, and prayed, saying, O my Father, if this cup may not pass away from me, except I drink it, thy will be done. And he came and found them asleep again: for their eyes were heavy. And he left them, and went away again, and prayed the third time, saying the same words."
Mark 13:33 "Take ye heed, watch and pray: for ye know not when the time is."

7. Summary

In summary we may say the following:

SBS   Calendar

Author: D B Loughran
Stewarton Bible School, Stewarton, Scotnad
Last Updated: January 1996