“And the LORD spoke to Moses in the wilderness of Sinai, in the first month of the second year after they had come out of the land of Egypt, saying, ‘Let the people of Israel keep the Passover at its appointed time. On the fourteenth day of this month, at twilight, you shall keep it at its appointed time; according to all its statutes and all its rules you shall keep it.’ So Moses told the people of Israel that they should keep the Passover. And they kept the Passover in the first month, on the fourteenth day of the month, at twilight, in the wilderness of Sinai; according to all that the LORD commanded Moses, so the people of Israel did” (Numbers 9:1-5 ESV).
God did not want the Israelites to forget what had happened to free them from Egyptian slavery. He gave them an anniversary to observe each year called “Passover.” This was to remind them that God had “passed over” their houses and that they had been freed from slavery that night.
You might think that there would be no way the Israelites could ever forget such a momentous event. Obviously, the Passover observance would have great meaning for those who lived through it. And it would even have a special meaning for their children and perhaps their grandchildren who might not have been in Egypt but lived in the wilderness for forty years or helped to conquer the Promised Land. But what about their descendants in 200 years? or 500 years? or 1000 years?
If you are familiar with the history of the nation of Israel, you will know that they did forget the Passover. They even lost the book of the Law, which had the instructions about what they were to do and how they were to live! It was under King Josiah that the book was found and they learned what they hadn’t been doing. They then set about to restore the Passover. “For no such Passover had been kept since the days of the judges who judged Israel, or during all the days of the kings of Israel or of the kings of Judah” (2 Kings 23:22).
Perhaps we can begin to see why God has given us a weekly time to remember what he did for us through Jesus’ death on the cross. Isn’t it interesting that Jesus took the unleavened bread and the grape juice that they were using to remember the Passover on his last night with his disciples and gave them a new significance?
“The Lord Jesus on the night when he was betrayed took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it, and said, ‘This is my body, which is for you. Do this in remembrance of me.’ In the same way also he took the cup, after supper, saying, ‘This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.’ For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes” (1 Corinthians 11:23-26).
We find from Acts 20:7 that the Christians came together on the first day of the week to “break bread” – to remember Jesus’ death. It is important for us to remember the price that was paid for our sins. When we don’t come together to remember Jesus, we find that our faith begins to slip. We need this weekly reminder of how terrible sin is and what a great price had to be paid so that our sins could be forgiven. Remembering Jesus should give us the strength and resolve to keep on living our lives for him.
“You then, my child, be strengthened by the grace that is in Christ Jesus, and what you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses entrust to faithful men, who will be able to teach others also…Remember Jesus Christ, risen from the dead, the offspring of David, as preached in my gospel…” (2 Timothy 2:1-8 ESV)
Readings for next week:
20 February – Numbers 6
21 February – Numbers 7
22 February – Numbers 8
23 February – Numbers 9
24 February – Numbers 10