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Call Sealed with Promise
Unit 2: Called to Be God's People
A. CELEBRATING A]EWISH PASSOVER
I used to lead a group of Christian college students to work in the New
York City area every year the week before Easter One year our host couple
had made friends with another couple who lived in an upscale apartment on
Bay Ridge. Of that second couple, the husband was Jewish and the wife was
a Protestant Christian. They were rearing their two daughters in theJewish
faith and heritage.
My host couple and I were invited to that Bay Ridge apartment to help
that family celebrate the Jewish Passover. This was a special opportunity for
witnessing, for we, being Gentile and Christian, should not have been there.
The modern Jewish Passover observance is an elaborate ceremony that
has been developed over the centuries. It involves the children in the telling
of the story of Israel's exodus from Egypt. All leaven is "looked for" and put
in the trash. The meal is blessed, and the first of four cups of wine ("the cup
of sanctification") is served. Greens are dipped in salt water and eaten. Three
unleavened loaves of bread are presented-the middle one broken, with a
larger piece hidden for the children to find later for a treat. The second cup of
wine is blessed and consumed. Then comes the recounting of the story of the
exodus from a certain booklet.
At this point in our meal the Jewish father became frustrated because he
was not familiar enough with the procedure to keep us all on track. As he
was fumbling with the booklet, his wife turned to me and asked if I would
explain how a Christian viewed the Jewish Passover
What an opportunity! With the husband's permission, I carefully and hum
bly proceeded to explain the original Passover meal-its simplicity of roasted
lamb or goat, unleavened bread, and bitter herbs. Then I mentioned the ad
ditions of the four cups, greens dipped in salt water, a sweet-apple dish, and a
roasted egg (to commemorate the destruction of the temple in AD 70).
Then I said that the retrieving of the hidden piece of bread by the chil
dren signified payment of ransom. I explained the ransom the Messiah paid
when he was broken, buried, and brought back to life. I noted thatJesus said
"Take, eat; this is my body" when breaking the bread.
I then asked the two daughters to go to the door and open it to see if "Eli
jah" would come and take his seat at the table where "Elijah's cup" was set.
I explained that Christians understandJohn the Baptist to have been the one
who came in the spirit and power of Elijah (Matthew 11:10-15; 17:10-13) in
preparing the way for MessiahJesus.
1 CORINTHIANS 5:1-8
DEUTERONOMY 16: 1-8
After participating in
this lesson, each student will
be able to:
1. Describe how the Pass
over was to be celebrated in
2. Tell what the Passover
celebrated and how Chris
tians today can celebrate
3. Plan a worship service
of celebration for God's grace.
Observe the month ofAbib
and celebrate the Passover of
the LORD your God, because
in the month ofAbib he
brought you out of Egypt by
night. -Deuteronomy 16:1
JULY 12, 2009 436 REMEMBERING:_AND CELEBRATING
LESSON 6 NOTES
WHAT Do You THINK?
Should Christians hold
Passover celebrations or par
ticipate in modern Jewish cel
ebrations of Passover? Why,
or why not?
WHAT Do You THINK?
The pain of being passed
over in a negative way-as
in being passed overfor ajob,
a promotion, or a deserved
honor-can be very real.
What was a time when you
were passed over in a posi
tive way? How did you see
God's hand in this?
As part of the wrap-up, we sang a hymn; I suggested thatJesus' disciples
may have sung Psalms 113, 114 at the beginning of the last supper and
, Psalm 115-118 at the close. In conclusion I noted that Christ is our Passover
Lamb, and we celebrate this "new Passover" whenever we meet around the
Lord's Table (l Corinthians 5:7, 8; 11:23-26). To my knowledge, no one
became a believer in Christ that evening. But I think I did what the wife and
mother of the household wanted me to do. More importantly, I think I did
whatJesus wanted me to do. It was a great privilege and opportunity.
B. LESSON BACKGROUND
As today's lesson opens, the 40 years of wilderness wandering were over,
and the Israelites were ready to enter the promised land. But first, Moses
(age 120) had many important reminders to offer. One of those reminders
involved the issue of the Passover celebration.
The historical basis of the Passover celebration is the last plague on Pharaoh
and the land of Egypt. That involved the death of the firstborn, both human
and animal, in about 1446 Be (Exodus 11). To protect themselves from the
plague, the Israelites had to slaughter either sheep or goats and smear a por
tion of the blood on the sides and tops of the doorposts where they lived.
When Yahweh struck doWfl every firstborn in Egypt, he passed over (and
thereby did not harm) the households where the blood protected the doorway
The original Passover feast is described in Exodus 12. The Feast of Unleav
ened Bread occurred right alongside the Passover (Exodus 13:3-10; 23:15;
Leviticus 23:4-8; Numbers 28: 16-25; Mark 14: 1). Our lesson texdor today
is a general overview of these two feasts.
1. WHAT TO CELEBRATE (DEUTERONOMY 16:1)
A. SPECIAL TIME (v. 1a)
lao Observe the month ofAbib and celebrate the Passover of the LORDyour
Abib, which means "ears of grain," is the old Hebrew name from an ag
ricultural calendar. Much later, the name of this particular month will be
changed to Nisan due to the influence of the Babylonian calendar (see Esther
3: 7; Nehemiah 2: 1). This month is designated as Israel's first month of the
religious year (Exodus 12:2); eventually it becomes the seventh month of
Israel's civil year. It equates to late March and early April. The Passover obser
vance is to begin on the evening of the fourteenth day of this month, as estab
lished by God (Exodus 12:6, 18).
B. SPECIAL REASON (v. 1b)
lb. ... because in the month ofAbib he brought you out of Egypt by night.
Darkness had become a plague for the Egyptians (Exodus 10:21,22).
In the middle of the night God had begun the deliverance of his "firstborn"
(Israel) by killing all the firstborn of Egypt (Exodus 11). The contrast thus is
between the grief of the Egyptians because their firstborn died and the cel
ebration by the Hebrews because their firstborn were protected by the blood
of lambs. All subsequent generations of Old Testament Israelites are to ob
serve this festival. A continual emphasis throughout the exodus story is that
deliverance comes about at night (see Exodus 11:4; 12:6,8,12,22,29,30,
Every nation has its memorials. America's great memorials can be found in var
ious places around the country. They may be the sites of historic battles, such as
Gettysburg. Some are located where singular acts of human depravity were com
mitted, such as the sixth-floor museum at the former Texas School Book Deposi
tory, from which President Kennedy was shot. Others are at the sites of significant
triumphs of the human spirit, such as the Wright Brothers National Memorial at
Kitty Hawk, North Carolina.
America's monuments primarily honor people who made important contri
butions to the progress of the nation. America's greatest collection of such mon
uments is to be found in Washington, D.C There one can find the Washington
Monument, the Lincoln Memorial, theJefferson Memorial, and memorials to those
who died fighting in World War II, Korea, and Vietnam. (The list goes on.)
Passover was ancient Israel's unique memorial. But it was not a sign at the
side of a road that called to mind the life of some outstanding political leader or
the place where a horrendous battle was fought. Rather, it commemorated the
time when God acted to save a nation. That memorial-a meal rather than a
stone monument or historic site-was the point of departure for another memo
rial that Christians have kept for two millennia: the Lord's Supper. May we keep
that memorial until Christ returns. -C R. B.
II. HOW TO CELEBRATE (DEUTERONOMY 16:2-4)
A. SPECIAL SACRIFICE (v. 2)
2. Sacrifice as the Passover to the LORD your God an animal from yourflock or
herd at the place the LORD will choose as a dwellingfor his Name.
This verse takes for granted all the details of Exodus 12:3-11 concerning
the Passover sacrifice. Each family is to select a lamb (the Hebrew refers either
to a young sheep or goat) on the tenth day of the first month. Guests are to
be invited in order that the lamb may be eaten completely.
The instructions are clear. The lamb must be a year old, without defect; it
is to be slaughtered at twilight on the fourteenth of Nisan (Abib). The blood
is to be smeared on the lintel and doorposts. The meat is to be roasted over
a fire, not boiled. It is to be eaten along with unleavened bread and bitter
herbs. No meat is to remain; leftovers are to be burned before dawn. The
people are to eat hastily. Their sandals are to be on their feet, clothing tucked
into belts, and staffs in their hand. Thus, everyone has the appearance of
being ready to leave at a moment's notice.
The Gospels present]esus' death as coinciding with the Feast of Passover
(Luke 22: 13-15;]ohn 13:1; etc.). The fact thatJohn 19:36 refers to Psalm
34:20 ("He protects all his bones, not one of them will be broken") indicates
that]esus becomes the world's Passover Lamb when we compare Exodus
12:46 and Numbers 9:12. See also 1 Corinthians 5:7.
B. SPECIAL BREAD (w. 3, 4a)
3, 4a. Do not eat it with bread made with yeast, but for seven days eat unleav
ened bread, the bread of affliction, because you left Egypt in haste-so that all
the days ofyour life you may remember the time ofyour departure from Egypt.
Let no yeast befound in your possession in all your land for seven days.
The seven days at issue here occur between the fourteenth and twenty
first days of the month (Exodus 12: 18). The only bread that may be eaten
. WHAT Do You THINK?
What were the circum
stances surrounding your per
sonal day ofsalvation, your
deliverance from the bondage
of sin? How does remem
bering those circumstances
Visual for Lesson 6. 1bu
can use this poster whenever
you teach a lesson that deals
. with one of the Jewish feasts
I of the Old Testament.
JucLIJ.---'-21109 .... _______4JtL.
DAILY BIBLE READINGS for that week is bread made without yeast Qeaven). This kind of bread
Monday, July 6- serves to remind the people of their haste to leave Egypt (Exodus 12: 11) as
Remember and Rejoice well as their slavery in Egypt; thus it is bread of affliction (see Exodus 3: 7,
(Ecclesiastes 11:7-12:1) 17; 4:31).
Tuesday, July 7- The word yeast is used here in its natural, literal sense. In time this word
Remember the Lord's Deeds comes to mean figuratively "things that influence, whether for good or bad."
(Psalm 77:3-15) Using this idea in a negative sense, jesus cautions his disciples to "Be on your
Wednesday,July 8- guard against the yeast of the Pharisees and Sadducees" (Matthew 16:6; com-
Remember and Give Thanks . pare 1 Corinthians 5:6-8; Galatians 5:7-9). The disciples misunderstand, but
(Psalm 105: 1-11) after further teaching byjesus, they comprehend thatJesus is talking about
Thursday, July 9- "the teaching of the Pharisees and Sadducees" (Matthew 16: 12). Evil teach-
Keeping the Covenant (2 ing corrupts the mind and heart persistently and thoroughly, just as yeast
Kings 23: 1-3,21-23) permeates dough.
Friday,July 10- In a positive sense, jesus said "The kingdom of heaven is like yeast that
Preparing for the Passover a woman took and mixed into a large amount of flour until it worked all
(Luke 22:7-13) through the dough" (Matthew 13:33). The principle of permeation is the im-
Saturday, July 11- agery of yeast. But permeation takes time-and that's exactly what the Israel-
Christ, Our Passover Lamb . ites preparing to leave Egypt didn't have much of. They were to be prepared
(l Corinthians 5: 1-8) to leave in haste (Exodus 12: 11).
Sunday, July 12-The The phrase let no yeast befound in your possession in all your landfor seven
Passover Observance (Deuter- ! days stresses the special care that must be taken with regard to yeast. Re
onomy 16:1-8) moval is to be done prior to eating the Passover meal (Exodus 12:15, 19; I
: 13: 7). The modem jewish Passover ceremony ties the removal of yeast to
the necessity of ridding the home of any corruption or evil. But the bibli
cal text simply says, '''I do this because of what the Lord did for me when I
came out of Egypt.' This observance will be for you like a sign on your hand
· and a reminder on your forehead that the law of the Lord is to be on your
lips. For the Lord brought you out of Egypt with his mighty hand" (Exodus
Unleavened bread is a key element in our observance of the Lord's Supper
· This element connects directly with the special bread of the Passover.
C. SPECIAL ABSENCE (v. 4b)
4b. Do not let any of the meat you sacrifice on the evening of thefirst day re
main until morning.
Also, all leftover meat must be ceremonially burned up (Exodus 12: 10).
Nothing from the sacrificial meat is to be kept past morning. Once the pur
pose of the meat is accomplished, nothing can remain. To honor this in
struction requires a certain strength of faith. It's a human tendency to try to
preserve unused food "just in case." We may compare the Israelites' disobedi
· ence in trying to save manna in Exodus 16:20.
III. WHERE TO CELEBRATE (DEUTERONOMY 16:5-7)
A. SPECIAL PLACE (w. 5, 6)
WHAT Do You THINK?
5, 6. You must not sacrifice the Passover in any town the LORD your God gives
\Vhat aspects ofyour own you except in the place he will choose as a dwelling for his Name. TItere you
"spiritual Egypt" hinderyour must sacrifice the Passover in the evening, when the sun goes down, on the an
full enjoyment of the prom niversary ofyour departure from Egypt.
ised land of Christ? How will Remember that Deuteronomy is a covenant renewal treaty given by Moses i
you correct this situation? to the people just before they enter the promised land. That fact means that I
IV HOW LONG TO CELEBRATE (DEUTERONOMY 16:8)
A. SPECIAL WEEK (V. 8a)
8a. For six days eat unleavened bread
The six days does not include the day of the Passover observance itself.
When we add that day in, the total is seven days of eating unleavened bread
(see v. 3, above; Numbers 28:16-24). A full week of sacrifices, special rituals
of grain and drink offerings, and eating unleavened bread makes this a special
time. No Israelite, young or old, can (or should) forget the great salvation
God has given to them. The Lord's Supper, which supersedes the Passover, is
also a memory device (l Corinthians 11:24,25).
B. SPECIAL ASSEMBLY (v. 8b)
8b. ... and on the seventh day hold an assembly to the LORD your God and do
The combination Passover and Unleavened Bread celebration begins and
ends with an assembly and a day of no work. (Numbers 28:25 uses the phrase
"sacred assembly") This involves the cessation of all normal activity (except
food preparation). It is to be a time of worship and reflection. What more can
God do to impress on the minds of every Israelite generation that God had
defeated the "gods" of Egypt and had delivered Israel from a mighty Egyptian
army? Only the one true God could have won such a contest. Israel is to re
member and live by that fact.
WHAT Do You THINK?
How much time are you
willing to devote to worship
ing and remembering God?
, How do you deal with limits
! on your time commitment?
Gur Father, bind us to
gether as we remember and
celebrate the occasions of
your great salvation for us.
Help us as individuals and
corporately as the church to
recall your actions of mercy,
justice, and love for all people.
May we be wise as we pass
ourfaith on to the next gen
eration and the generation
beyond that. In Jesus name.
The most famous celebration of the year in New Orleans is Mardi Gras, which
means "fat Tuesday." This week of raunchy goings-on precedes the period of fast
ing and discipline of Lent, as much of the Christian world knows it.
Ironic, isn't it? The idea seems to be something like, "Since we're going to have
to behave ourselves for many days, we'd better have a really good time before that
long period of The idea of enforced self-discipline flies in the face of
the Western world's attitude of "I want what I want when I want it."
TheJewish Passover week wa.c;; the exact opposite of Mardi Gras in manyways. A
time of solemn assembly before the Lord was included. When Christians gather to
observe the Lord's Supper, when we remember the sacrifice of our Passover Lamb,
it too can be solemn. But it can also be joyous. Slavery to sin and death has been
conquered by our living Lord! Whatever it is that is being celebrated at Mardi Gras
is less than trivial compared with this. -e. R. B.
A. PASSOVER IN THE OLD TESTAMENT
Celebrations of the Passover (and the Feast of Unleavened Bread that go
along with it) are rarely recorded in the narrative of the Old Testament. Per
haps that is because its observance is taken for granted. But the few records
of the celebrations are instructive and interesting: Joshua 5: 10-12 (second
generation of the exodus just before the conquest of the promised land,
about 1406 Be); 2 Chronicles 30 (Hezekiah's refOlID, about 727 Be); 2 Kings
23:21-23 as paralleled in 2 Chronicles 35:1-19 Oosiah's reform, about 622
Be); and Ezra 6:19-22 (Ezra's reform after the exile, about 515 Be).
It seems that when great reform swept over the people, they celebrated the
Passover extravagantly. The Passover became the most important celebration
for the Israelites, for it commemorated their origin as a people in God's great
deliverance from slavery. The exodus event becomes the model for the idea of
. salvation throughout the Bible.
B. PASSOVER SUPERSEDED
The church today should continue to remember and celebrate deliverance
from the bondage of sin no less than the ancient Israelites celebrated deliv
: erance from their bondage of the flesh. Certainly Christmas is a great time
to celebrate the birth of our Lord. The greatest gift ever given is Jesus Oohn
3: 16), and that is worthy to celebrate. Gift exchanges can enhance the cel
ebration as long as Christians avoid the crass materialism and secularism of
the season as practiced in America and many other places in the world.
The church often celebrates the resurrection of]esus in a nobler manner
than his birth. Resurrection Day (Easter) recognizes the Sunday morning
when death was swallowed up in victory! The resurrection is at the very heart
i of the Christian faith; it must not be forgotten in the collective mind of the
church. Remembeling the resurrection means that Christians celebrate salva
tion from sin.
The Day of Pentecost (the Jewish Festival of Weeks) is a time for the
church to remember her birth through the outpouring of the Holy Spirit (Acts
2). Yet there seems to be no consistency in remembering and celebrating this
birth in the church-at-Iarge today. More needs to be done. There is no reason
why we should allow such a day to pass without even a mention.
LESSON 6__~ _
Those three are annual observances. Much more frequent should be
celebrations of the Lord's Supper. Each time we celebrate we recall Christ's
victory over sin. "For whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup, you
proclaim the Lord's death until he comes" (1 Corinthians 11:26). If we allow
: THOUGHT TO REMEMBER
it to do so, the Lord's Supper can bind us together, keeping us close to God Remember to celebrate.
and one another. Celebrate to remember:
The following is an alternative lesson plan emphasizing learning activities.
Classes desiring such student involvement will find these suggestions helpful. At the
back of this book are reproducible student pages to further enhance activity learning.
INTO THE LESSON
Begin by saying, "Many celebrations and holi
days are designed to help people remember spe
cific events. For example, adoptive parents may
have a celebration to remember the day the child
came to the parents' home." Ask students to help
you fill out an acrostic with special days they cel
ebrate. National holidays may be included. Create
the acrostic using the letters of the word CEL
EBRATION vertically on the board. At the letter 0,
write the word adOption across the word celebra
tion as an example.
Make the transition by saying, "Holiday cel
ebrations have value for the persons involved and
for our culture. God gave a very special celebra
tion to thejewish people that forms a vital part of
Christianity's background. Today's text unfolds that
INTO THE WORD
Read today's printed text regarding celebrat
ing the Feast of the Passover. Then say, "We need
to explore what was being celebrated, how the
feast was to be celebrated, where it was to be
celebrated, and how long the people were to cel
ebrate. We will use four research teams to answer
these questions." Give each team a photocopy of
the lesson commentary that is appropriate for the
verses to be researched plus the following instruc
tions. Team # 1 will also need a copy of the Les
Team #1: Your task is to explore and report on
what was being celebrated. Read Deuteronomy
16: 1 and the lesson commentary for your answers.
Verse 1a tells about the special time and verse 1b
tells about the special event. The copy of the Les
son Background will be helpful in preparing your
remarks about the reason for this event.
Team #2: Your task is to explore and report on
how the celebration was to take place. Read Deuter
onomy 16:2-4 and the lesson commentary for your
answers. Be sure to report on the special sacrifice,
special bread, and special ceremony.
Team #3: Your task is to explore and report on
where the celebration was to take place. Read Deu
teronomy 16:5-7 and the lesson commentary for
your answers. Be sure to report on the special place
and the special conclusion to the ceremony.
Team #4: Your task is to explore and report on
how long the Passover was to be celebrated. Read
Deuteronomy 16:8 and the lesson commentary for
your answers. Be sure to report on the special week
and the solemn assembly.
As teams report, list abbreviated answers on the
board. Finish by making this observation: '1\ news
paper reporter typically wants to know who, what,
where, when, why, and how. " Write those six words
on the board as you speak them. Then ask, "Have
we left any of those out?" This will promote an ex
tended discussion of the text. If your class is small,
a whole-class discussion will work. If your class
is large, small-group discussions will allow more
people to participate.
Do both of these activities if your time permits.
Do only the second activity if your time is limited.
Activity # 1: Remind the class that there are
several opportunities for celebrations that teach
and remind of Christian events. Four of them are
JULY 12, 2009
Christmas, Resurrection Sunday (Easter), Pente
cost, and the Lord's Supper. For each of these cel
ebrations it is appropriate to ask, "What do we do
well?" and "How can we improve the celebrations?"
Assign one of the four observances mentioned
above to each of the four study teams; have them
discuss the two questions.
Activity #2: Say, "One of the great gifts of God
that Christians should celebrate is his grace." Ask
the class to design a worship service that helps
both to celebrate God's grace and teach about that
grace. Team # 1 will plan the music for the service.
442 REMEMBERING AND CELEBRATING
Team #2 will select appropriate Scripture passages
and decide how they will be presented. The Scrip
ture presentations should include what will be said
in the offering and Communion meditations. Team
#3 will decide the major points or concepts the
sermon should address. Team #4 will discuss spe
cial activities to include in the service. These may
include drama, choral readings, children's presenta
tions, testimonials, etc. Conclude the class by sing
ing one of the songs Team # 1 selected.
Distribute as take-home work one or both of the
reproducible activities on page 505.
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