Remembering the Passover & Exodus: a selection of passages & meditations

 “It was a night of watching by the LORD, to bring them out of the land of Egypt”

Scripture: Exodus 12:37-51

37 And the people of Israel journeyed from Ram'eses to Succoth, about six hundred thousand men on foot, besides women and children. 38 A mixed multitude also went up with them, and very many cattle, both flocks and herds. 39 And they baked unleavened cakes of the dough which they had brought out of Egypt, for it was not leavened, because they were thrust out of Egypt and could not tarry, neither had they prepared for themselves any provisions. 40 The time that the people of Israel dwelt in Egypt was four hundred and thirty years. 41 And at the end of four hundred and thirty years, on that very day, all the hosts of the LORD went out from the land of Egypt. 42 It was a night of watching by the LORD, to bring them out of the land of Egypt; so this same night is a night of watching kept to the LORD by all the people of Israel throughout their generations.

43 And the LORD said to Moses and Aaron, "This is the ordinance of the Passover: no foreigner shall eat of it; 44 but every slave that is bought for money may eat of it after you have circumcised him. 45 No sojourner or hired servant may eat of it. 46 In one house shall it be eaten; you shall not carry forth any of the flesh outside the house; and you shall not break a bone of it. 47 All the congregation of Israel shall keep it. 48 And when a stranger shall sojourn with you and would keep the Passover to the LORD, let all his males be circumcised, then he may come near and keep it; he shall be as a native of the land. But no uncircumcised person shall eat of it. 49 There shall be one law for the native and for the stranger who sojourns among you."

50 Thus did all the people of Israel; as the LORD commanded Moses and Aaron, so they did. 51 And on that very day the LORD brought the people of Israel out of the land of Egypt by their hosts.

Meditation: Moses instructed the people to keep the night of Passover as a vigil for all generations (Exodus 12:42).  This was a night of vigil kept by the Lord and by the Israelites. No one slept that night.  Even the Egyptians kept vigil as the destroying angel passed over at midnight and slew all the firstborn of Egypt.

The Jews were instructed to remember the Passover every year as a remembrance or memorial of God’s wonderful work of redemption.  The Passover was a memorial feast, a celebration that commemorated God’s deliverance of his people from Egypt.  The festival made the people more aware of God’s redemption, and at the same time praised God by bringing his great deeds to everyone’s mind.

When we remember or commemorate Jesus’ death and resurrection, we do more than just let a recollection pass through our minds.  We first of all hold a celebration in honor of what God did in Jesus; we proclaim what he did in Jesus and praise him for it.  Finally during that time we make the events a subject of our meditation, not just to fix it in our minds but increasingly to live our lives in the light of it.

Various Christian churches hold a solemn vigil on Saturday night before Easter, as the Christian Passover vigil.  An early Christian hymn is still used each year during the Vigil on Holy Saturday night in the Catholic liturgy. The Exultet expresses the joy of celebrating the Christian Passover vigil.

For Christ has ransomed us with his blood, and paid for us the price of Adam’s sin to our eternal Father!
This is our passover feast, when Christ, the true Lamb, is slain, whose blood consecrates the homes of all believers.
This is the night when Christians everywhere, washed clean of sin and freed from all defilement, are restored to grace and grow together in holiness.
This is the night when Jesus Christ broke the chains of death and rose triumphant from the grave.
What good would life have been to us, had Christ not come as our Redeemer?
Father, how wonderful you care for us!  How boundless your merciful love!
To ransom a slave you gave away your Son.
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(c) 1999, 2001, 2002 Don Schwager