I am currently studying Exodus, the book of the Bible that recounts how God liberated the Israelites from slavery in Egypt. In chapter six, God calls Moses to deliver this message to the Israelites: "I am the Lord, and I will bring you out from under the yoke of Egyptians. I will free you from being slaves to them, and I will redeem you with an outstretched arm and with mighty acts of judgement. I will take you as my own people, and I will be your God. Then you will know that I am the Lord..." God planned to reveal Himself to His people and to establish a relationship with them through this mighty act of redemption.
The abbreviated version of what happened next goes something like this:
God sent Moses to Egypt to tell the ruling Pharaoh to let the Israelite people go. Pharaoh refused. God showed His power through a miraculous wonder. Moses asked Pharaoh again to let his people go. Pharaoh refused. God showed His power through a miraculous wonder. Wash, rinse, and repeat...eight more times. These were the ten plagues God brought upon Egypt to show Pharaoh and all people that He alone is God, the great I AM. In the final plague, God sent death through Egypt to strike down the firstborn son of animals, prisoners, and royalty alike. However, for every household that had sacrificed a lamb and painted its blood over the doorway of their home, death "passed over" and did not strike the firstborn son. After this final plague, Pharaoh surrendered and the Israelites were set free. They were SET FREE - to know the Lord, worship Him, and be taken as His children!
This was an incredible event in the story of the Israelite people and an incredible event in God's story of redemption for all mankind! It was not to be forgotten or kept quiet, but to be shared! God told the Israelites, "This is a day you are to commemorate; for the generations to come you shall celebrate it as a festival to the Lord...And when your children ask you, 'What does this ceremony mean to you?' then tell them, 'It is the Passover sacrifice to the Lord, who passed over the houses of the Israelites in Egypt.'" Exodus 12:14, 26
For thousands of years since, the Jewish people have faithfully celebrated Passover, as God instructed them to do. Two nights ago, my husband, Jarrod, and I had the absolute privilege of partaking in Seder dinner at the home of a sweet Jewish couple we know. Seder dinner marks the beginning of Passover and for us that night, it was a chance to see God's Word come to life!
Everything we ate symbolized an element of the Exodus story: The parsley, representing new life, was dipped in the salt water, which represents the purifying tears and sweat of the Israelites. The matzah, unleavened bread, was eaten as a reminder that the Israelites left Egypt in such haste, they did not have time for the dough to rise. The maror, bitter herb, symbolizes the bitterness of slavery. The charoset represents the mortar used by the Jewish slaves to make buildings in Egypt. Four times throughout the night, we drank the cup of wine to celebrate God's four promises in Exodus 6: "I will bring out," "I will deliver," I will redeem, "I will take." By sharing these elements, we remembered and celebrated God's redemption of His people with thanksgiving and praise!
Before the night was over, we sang a number of songs too - some in Hebrew! One of my favorites was "Dayenu." The Hebrew word means something close to, "It would have been enough for us." After every one of the 15 stanzas, we proclaimed, "Dayenu!"
"If he had brought us out of Egypt."
"If he had split the sea for us."
"If he had fed us manna."
If God had only done this or that, it would have been enough, we sang. But God, in His goodness, cares for and loves His children beyond what we can imagine. And the deliverance of the Israelites from Egypt was only the first chapter in God's redemption story...
Tomorrow: Part 2 - God Provides