Because the Israelites had been so long in Egypt they had forgotten God’s Sabbath and Holy Days. As slaves they would not have had the luxury of keeping them, even if they had known.
But God was preparing them to once again live as His chosen people. (Remember the promise to Abraham?) Genesis 15: 13 Then He said to Abram: “Know certainly that your descendants will be strangers in a land that is not theirs, and will serve them, and they will afflict them four hundred years.”
So although the people might have had difficulty knowing they were God’s chosen people, God had not. Indeed He had told Abram/Abraham in advance, including the fact that He would judge the nation they served and they would come out with many possessions.
But the first Passover and subsequent release from four hundred years of captivity was very much an exercise in faith, obedience and trust.
God did not leave them to muddle through
He started teaching them – giving them specific instructions.
Now the Lord spoke to Moses and Aaron in the land of Egypt saying. “This month shall be your beginning of months; it shall be the beginning of the year to you.” Exodus 12: 1,2
Now as many people are aware, the Jewish new year starts on what we call the Feast of Trumpets. (Tishri). This is their civil new year. The one God told them about here is the start of their sacred year.
Adam Clarke’s commentary might show some clarity on the subject…
“…Jews have formed a twofold commencement of the year, which has given rise to a twofold denomination of the year itself, to which they afterwards attended in all their reckonings: that which began with Tisri or September was called their civil year; that which began with Abib or March was called the sacred or ecclesiastical year.”
God gave specific and detailed instructions to His people to protect them from the final plague on Egypt.
Then Moses called for all the elders of Israel and said to them, “Pick out and take lambs for yourselves according to your families, and kill the Passover lamb. And you shall take a bunch of hyssop, dip it in the blood that is in the basin, and strike the lintel and the two doorposts with the blood that is in the basin. And none of you shall go out of the door of his house until morning. For the Lord will pass through to strike the Egyptians; and when He sees the blood on the lintel and on the two doorposts, the Lord will pass over the door and not allow the destroyer to come into your houses to strike you. And you shall observe this thing as an ordinance for you and your sons forever. . . .Then the children of Israel went away and did so; just as the LORD had commanded Moses and Aaron, so they did. Exodus 12: 21- 24, 28
God gave the people time to prepare.
Not only were they to select the lambs, they had to work out if there was too much for their families, and if so, to share it with another family – of suitable size so that there would be no unnecessary waste.
They also had to collect the articles of gold and silver (Exodus 11: 2).
Their flocks had to be prepared for travelling because the day after Passover, they would start to move from their homes. Therefore in order that they were ready to go, their own goods had to be packed too.
On the fourteenth day of the month, at twilight – that part between day and night – the people killed their own lambs., and using the sprigs of hyssop they had gathered, painted the lintel and their door posts.
“For the Lord will pass through to strike the Egyptians and when He sees the blood on the lintel and doorposts, the Lord will pass over the door and not allow the destroyer to come into your houses to strike you.” Exodus 12: 23
And it came to pass, that at midnight the Lord smote all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, from the firstborn of Pharaoh that sat on his throne unto the firstborn of the captive that was in the dungeon; and all the firstborn of cattle. And Pharaoh rose up in the night, he, and all his servants, and all the Egyptians; and there was a great cry in Egypt; for there was not a house where there was not one dead. Exodus 12: 29,30
God fulfils His word.
So the stage is set for the Exodus… but as we approach the approaching Holy time of year it is interesting to reflect what it must have felt like for those to whom it was happening. There was only one tenth plague, and one Passover. The subsequent celebrations are memorials.
More on this next week,
Till then, tread softly – you may be treading on someone’s dreams