The Historical Significance of Passover

In Bible by Biblica Staff

The series of bizarre phenomena had been devastating, frightening, and deadly: water turning to blood, infestations of frogs, gnats, and flies, dying livestock, boils, hail, an invasion of locusts, and finally, darkness.

When the darkness lifted after three long days, relief was short-lived, quickly replaced by a sense of foreboding, even dread. What was coming next?

The answer: something far worse.

“I will bring one more plague on Pharaoh and on Egypt,” the Lord told Moses. “After that, he will let you go from here, and when he does, he will drive you out completely.”

The Israelites had been in Egypt for more than 400 years. What began as a refuge from a terrible famine for Jacob and his extended family, eventually became a prison. Joseph’s favor with Pharaoh was quickly forgotten and before long, the Israelites found themselves enslaved, forced to make bricks and serve as laborers.

Then the Lord raised up a deliverer. But securing the release of the Israelites would be no easy thing, even for Moses. Logic, reason, and even miracles had little effect on Pharaoh. It would take more to convince him. Then came the plagues.

Despite the severity of the first nine, Pharaoh remained resolute. His heart was hard. The Israelites weren’t going anywhere. As the Lord had predicted, “Pharaoh will refuse to listen to you – so that my wonders may be multiplied in Egypt.”

So the tenth plague became necessary: “About midnight, I will go throughout Egypt,” the Lord said. “Every firstborn son in Egypt will die, from the firstborn son of Pharaoh, who sits on the throne to the firstborn son of the female slave, who is at her hand mill, and all the firstborn of the cattle as well.”

To distinguish the Israelites from the Egyptians and keep them safe from this plague, the Lord instructed:

Tell the whole community of Israel that on the tenth day of this month each man is to take a lamb for his family, one for each household. If any household is too small for a whole lamb, they must share one with their nearest neighbor, having taken into account the number of people there are. You are to determine the amount of lamb needed in accordance with what each person will eat.

The animals you choose must be year-old males without defect, and you may take them from the sheep or the goats. Take care of them until the fourteenth day of the month, when all the members of the community of Israel must slaughter them at twilight.

Then they are to take some of the blood and put it on the sides and tops of the doorframes of the houses where they eat the lambs.  That same night they are to eat the meat roasted over the fire, along with bitter herbs, and bread made without yeast. Do not eat the meat raw or boiled in water, but roast it over a fire—with the head, legs and internal organs. Do not leave any of it till morning; if some is left till morning, you must burn it.

This is how you are to eat it: with your cloak tucked into your belt, your sandals on your feet and your staff in your hand. Eat it in haste; it is the Lord’s Passover.

This is the historical significance of Passover – the day and the method in which the Lord delivered the Israelites out of bondage in Egypt.

As you pause on this special day to focus on what God has done, consider the faithfulness and love He has demonstrated toward you – passing you over, withholding judgement, delivering you from the bondage of sin and death, through the blood of His Son, Jesus Christ.

Biblica Staff

Biblica, the International Bible Society, is a worldwide ministry that has been helping people read and understand God’s Word for over 200 years. We are committed to providing the Bible in accurate, contemporary translations and formats so that more people around the world will have the opportunity to be transformed by Jesus Christ. We do this through translation and publishing, by making the Bible accessible, and with innovative Bible engagement programs like Community Bible Experience. To learn more about our ministry and how you can partner with us to share God’s Word with people around the world, go to our ministry page.

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