Passage: Exodus 12:29-13:16
Speaker: Steve Hands
Series: Coming Home – A Journey Through Exodus
Remembering God’s Name
What practices will shape our identity as a church from different cultures? Different cultures do church differently! Some do potlucks of casseroles and fried chicken; others serve soup and rice. Some value safety and cleanliness; others value gathering and comfort. What practices will form us? As Wellspring has navigated these questions, I am grateful that the people of God from the very beginning were a “mixed multitude” from different cultures, yet they were marked by a singular event — the Passover. And this event was to shape the identity of this people for the coming generations by rituals and practices that they would embrace. After the Exodus, attention is given to three concrete practices: Passover (12:43–51), the Feast of Unleavened Bread (13:3–10), and the consecration of the firstborn (13:11–16). And these practices shape the identity and culture of the people of God in important ways. Similarly today as a people we are shaped by practices that remind us that we are saved by blood to be holy throughout all generations.
First, we are saved by blood; this is the practice of the Passover (Exod 12:43–51). The blood of the Passover lamb was to be painted on the door frames to save the firstborn of the people of God. And this Passover was to be remembered throughout all generations as a lamb was slain and eaten. Extensive instructions are given for “all the congregation of Israel” (12:47), yet even the stranger and sojourner could also partake if their males are circumcised (12:48) for”there shall be one law for the native and for the stranger who sojourns among you” (12:49). This shows that the non-Israelites were not excluded simply by their ethnic background. All were saved equally by the blood of this lamb, and this was to be remembered at the Passover feast.
Yet they were saved by the blood to be holy (Exod 13:1–10); this was practiced with the feast of Unleavened Bread. They were to eat unleavened bread for seven days, and then they would have a feast to celebrate on the seventh day. Before the first Passover, they were to remove the leaven from their homes to have a hold assembly (12:15–17). In the New Testament Paul develops this image to call the church at Corinth to holiness:“Cleanse out the old leaven that you may be a new lump as you really are unleavened. For Christ our Passover lamb has been sacrificed. Let us therefore celebrate the festival, not with the old leaven, the leaven of malice and evil, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth” (1 Cor 5:7–8). This festival was an annual reminder of their call to holiness.
Finally we are saved by blood to be holy throughout all generations (Exod 13:11–16); this is practiced through the consecration of the firstborn. Whenever a person or animal had a firstborn, it was to be redeemed and set apart to the LORD. This was a reminder that the LORD had killed the firstborn in the land of Egypt but saved the firstborn of the people of God, so from generation to generation the firstborn was to be redeemed. And this was to be communicated from generation to generation (Exod 13:8, 14); family conversations were to perpetuate the faith throughout generations.
Practices shape a culture. When we come from different cultures, then inevitably our lives are marked by different practices. Yet if the people of God are to identify ultimately as the people of God, then they must be shaped by a common culture. The practice of feasts and festivals in the Old Testament indelibly shaped the people of God. And similarly practices like the Lord’s supper, Sunday worship, home groups and other practices shape us to remind us that we are saved by blood to be holy throughout all generations.