Posts Tagged ‘Israelites’

Last Wednesday I shared the short version of this information. Below is the sermon I shared this morning for our early service at Washington Pike United Methodist Church.


The Choosing of the Lamb Day

(AKA “Puzzles”)


Our scripture text this morning is from the book of Exodus. If you have your Bibles turn to Exodus chapter 12. In a few minutes I’m going to read verses 1-11.


But first, let me give you a little background; a little history… a little of “His Story…”


It used to be that sometime during Holy Week, “The Ten Commandments” would be on TV. You know – Charleston Heston, Moses, the plagues, crossing the Red Sea, all that… Did you ever wonder why “The Ten Commandments” always came on at Easter time? It doesn’t have anything to do with Easter, does it?


Well, matter of fact, it has a whole lot to do with Easter… That movie portrays God’s freeing of the children of Israel from their slavery in Egypt. That event is commemorated with a Feast or a Festival called Passover, because the death angel “passed over” every home that had the blood of a lamb on the doorpost.


This morning’s text takes place just before the Israelites leave Egypt. God is telling Moses and his brother Aaron, how they are to celebrate this thing that hasn’t even happened yet! (You see, when God makes a promise – He keeps it!) But, He gives very specific instructions on how it is to be done. And there is a reason for every single act, for every single element of that feast. And, for the most part, the Children of Israel always did it that way, and in fact, Orthodox Jews still do it that way today! (Actually, the Jewish Passover happens to be on Friday of this week.)


This week, as you know is called Holy Week and we will be having special services on Thursday night and Friday night; these are called Maundy Thursday, and Good Friday.


It is on that Thursday night that Jesus and His disciples were participating in what “we” call “The Last Supper” and what they called “The Passover” the most sacred of all Jewish Festivals or holidays. And as we’ll see, it’s a very important one in our lives as well…

Listen closely to the scripture reading, because every thing I read here, is not only a festival to commemorate what happened with the Children of Israel in leaving their bondage in Egypt, but is also a prophecy of what actually took place during this week, from today through Good Friday of this “Holy Week”.


(Read Exodus 12:1-11)


In order to understand this last week of Jesus’ earthly life; in order to see just why Jesus’ death on a wooden cross over 2000 years ago is the very atonement, or covering for every sin we’ve ever committed, or ever will commit, in order for the picture to become clear, we’ve got to go back to the Old Testament to collect the puzzle pieces. In order to understand what Jesus went through this week, for our salvation, we MUST understand the prophecy.


The first month of the Jewish year was called Abib, and it corresponded with our timeframe of mid-March to mid-April. The sacrificial lamb was to be killed, prepared and eaten at twilight on the day of Passover. Now, the first Passover in Egypt was to be eaten (read v 11) in other words, “with your coat and shoes on, and your bags packed and ready!” However, after they enter the Promised Land, we read later that they are to eat it reclining at the table, because then, they have already been delivered, and there’s no need for haste.


We read of Jesus’ disciples’ preparation for this Passover meal in all 4 Gospels. Listen to the way Mark puts it:


Mark 14:12 On the first day of Unleavened Bread, when the Passover lamb was being sacrificed, His disciples *said to Him, “Where do You want us to go and prepare for You to eat the Passover?”


And then,


Mar 14:18 When it was evening He came with the twelve. As they were reclining at the table and eating, Jesus said, “Truly I say to you that one of you will betray Me–one who is eating with Me.”


The meal they are eating there IS the Passover. Everything about this meal is symbolic; the way it is prepared; the order in which it’s eaten; the things that are said with each part of the meal. It’s not just a group of guys sitting down and eating supper together. It’s a Worship Service! Mark 14:22-24 says While they were eating, He took some bread, and after a blessing He broke it, and gave it to them, and said, “Take it; this is My body.” And when He had taken a cup and given thanks, He gave it to them, and they all drank from it. And He said to them, “This is My blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many.


These words that we recognize as our Communion Service was Jesus putting the pieces of the puzzle together right before their very eyes…


And then verse 26 says, “After singing a hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives.” Even the very song they sang was a prescribed part of the Passover Worship Service. That night also began the Feast of Unleavened bread. Unleavened bread is bread with no yeast in it. You know, for Communion, we sometimes have this nice homemade loaf bread, or Hawaiian Bread, or some other big fluffy bread… no, what they had was flat and hard and without any yeast. Actually it sorta tastes like salt-free crackers – kinda bland…and, there’s even a reason for that…


When the Israelites were leaving Egypt, the Exodus happened so quickly that they didn’t have time to let the leaven (or yeast) work, or to let the bread rise.


But, symbolically it meant something else as well. The absence of leaven symbolized complete consecration and devotion to God. Leaven, in the Bible is often equated with sin, so therefore the “Bread of Life” was “Unleavened” – without sin…


The next day, Friday, what we call “Good Friday” is when Jesus would hang on the cross.


The day after the crucifixion (actually beginning at sundown on that Friday) was the Sabbath Day. Remember, that’s the reason the Jews wanted to make sure Jesus was dead and buried before sundown.


Then Saturday, their Sabbath is the “in-between” day for us, and I suspect, it was probably the longest day Jesus’ disciples ever lived. They couldn’t work, they couldn’t cook, they couldn’t go anywhere… all they could do was wait…


Sunday morning, our “First day of the week” began the Festival of First Fruits for the Jewish people. We find that in Lev. 23:9-11 Then the Lord said to Moses, “Give the following instructions. When you enter the land I am giving you and you harvest its first crops, bring the priest a bundle of grain from the first cutting of your grain harvest. On the day, after the Sabbath, the priest will lift it up before the Lord so it may be accepted on your behalf. (Emphasis added.)


Remember what Paul called Jesus? 1Corinthians 15:20 “But now Christ has been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who are asleep.”


But now, here’s the real “kicker” for me – a piece of the puzzle that I didn’t even realized existed…


Look back at the beginning of our scripture text.  (Read Exodus12:2-3) “This month shall be the beginning of months for you; it is to be the first month of the year to you. Speak to all the congregation of Israel, saying,(listen now…)  ‘On the tenth of this month they are each one to take a lamb for themselves, according to their fathers’ households, a lamb for each household.”


And then verse 6 “You shall keep it until the fourteenth day of the same month, then the whole assembly of the congregation of Israel is to kill it at twilight.”


Now, think about it, if Maundy Thursday, the night of the Last Supper is the time of the sacrifice, and that is the 14th day of their first month, count backwards to the 10th of the month and what have you got… Wednesday, Tuesday, Monday… today… You’ve got Palm Sunday! Their “Choosing of the Lamb” Day is our “Palm Sunday!”


Matthew tells us that the Triumphal Entry (Matthew 21:4-5) “was done to fulfill the prophecy that said, ‘Tell the people of Israel, Look, your King is coming to you. He is humble, riding on a donkey – even on a donkey’s colt.’” But, there is an additional significance; we can see it as “The Choosing of the Lamb” Day.


The Children of Israel see the sacrifice of the lamb, and the blood on the doorpost as being symbolic of the death angel passing over their homes. But we see the blood of Christ as being the covering for our sin.


There is no sin too big, for the blood of Jesus to cover. There is no sin too terrible, or too overwhelming for the blood of Jesus to cover. There is nothing you have ever done that is too horrible for the atoning blood of Jesus. His blood covers it all!


This adds so much more emphasis to John the Baptist’s words in John 1:29 “Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!”


He is truly our Sacrificial Lamb!


Father, we fall on our faces before the Throne of Grace this morning thanking You for the atoning blood of Your beloved Son, Jesus. And we thank You for preserving all the pieces of the puzzle so that we can better understand and see the complete picture.


Father, You’ve given it to us in bite-sized pieces, for we could not comprehend it all at once, the glory of it would be too much to bear.


We pray now that You will touch the hearts of your children, that You will “tune our hearts to sing Your praise”, and that You will give us a passion to know Your Word, and to seek ways to serve You.


In Jesus’ name – Amen.





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