LENT: Day 24 - Passover: Cleaning House
Tuesday, March 13 2018
In the Old Testament, God commanded the people of Israel to celebrate Passover as a yearly and perpetual feast by divine ordinance. First, this feast was to commemorate the salvation from death of all their firstborn during the last plague in Egypt; and secondly, this feast was to celebrate their emancipation from slavery in this same nation (Exodus 12:14, 27, 42).
The sacrifice of a lamb by each family pointed to the sacrifice that Jesus Christ would make to free the entire world from the slavery of sin. That lamb represented Jesus. In John 1:29 we read: “The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, “Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!”.
Now, let’s return to the Old Testament narration. On the night of the first Passover, the angel of death went to all the houses in Egypt to kill the firstborn; however, the Israelites who had the doors of their houses marked with the blood of the lamb they had slain were not touched by death.
However, before that night of salvation, the Lord commanded the people of Israel to do something special to prepare for this event: they were to clean out all the yeast from their homes, and for seven days they could not eat anything made with yeast. As Exodus 12:15 and 20 says: “For seven days you are to eat bread made without yeast. On the first day remove the yeast from your houses, for whoever eats anything with yeast in it from the first day through the seventh must be cut off from Israel … Eat nothing made with yeast. Wherever you live, you must eat unleavened bread.” The preparation for the miraculous event of freedom from death and slavery in Egypt was that the Israelites had to remove the yeast from their homes and their bodies.
Why this commandment? What does yeast represent, for God to command the Israelites to remove it from their homes and not eat it for seven days? Most of the time when yeast is mentioned in the Bible (22 times in the Old Testament and 17 times in the New), it symbolizes sin or wickedness. Literally, God was asking the Israelites to remove all the yeast from their homes and physical bodies before their departure from Egypt. In symbolic and spiritual terms, God was asking them to remove all the sin and wickedness from their homes and lives before the powerful work of salvation that He would work on their behalf.
Let’s look at what the Apostle Paul says about this truth in 1 Corinthians 5:6-8. “Your boasting is not good. Don’t you know that a little yeast leavens the whole batch of dough? Get rid of the old yeast, so that you may be a new unleavened batch—as you really are. For Christ, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed. Therefore let us keep the Festival, not with the old bread leavened with malice and wickedness, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.” Here we see that yeast represents the old, the boasting, the malice and the wickedness in our lives. We see that we have to cleanse ourselves from that yeast in order to be a batch that is new and pure. We see that we need to celebrate the feast of Passover without yeast, “throwing off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles” (Hebrews 12:1). We see that we need to celebrate with unleavened bread, that is with Jesus our “bread of life”, with a sincere and truthful attitude.
Before Jesus came with the good news of salvation in Him, God sent John the Baptist to preach the baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sin (Mark 1:4). His message was that the people of Israel had to cleanse their hearts and bear fruit worthy of repentance. When the people had prepared and made straight the way of the Lord, when they had confessed and repented of their sins, Jesus came with His message of salvation.
In preparation for the feast of Passover during these days before the week of Easter, let’s do the same. Let’s clean house. Just as the people of Israel removed the yeast from their homes each year as they prepared to celebrate Passover, let’s also examine our hearts and remove the yeast of sin that we find there. Then we will be prepared to experience the salvation and freedom that Jesus, the Lamb of God, wants to give us.
(Thanks to Crista Hirmas for her ideas …)
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