God tells Moses to have the people celebrate the Passover while still in the wilderness. He called for it right on schedule.
Today’s reading answers one of my questions that I had been asking for a long time. I wondered if the children of Israel waited until they reached the Promised Land to celebrate Passover or if they did so in the wilderness.
By the first month of the second year the people had already received God Law through Moses regarding the Passover. I believe God addressed this with them right after leaving Egypt. He set up the standards and regulations at that time. So when the time came for the first annual celebration, He reminded them. Maybe they were wondering, like I was, if this was something to be done once they reached the Promised Land or while still on their journey. God answered their question too.
Their menu was a little different than would be available once they reached their final destination. Their bread was made from manna. I may be wrong but I believe that the manna was their “flour” source instead of actual bread. I say this because they put it in jars each morning. They were also told to “make unleavened bread.” You can’t make bread without some form of flour and they had no farms available to plant, harvest, grind, and refine wheat for such an activity. God provided the “flakes” that they picked up and used for their food. Manna was their flour and they made Heavenly bread.
You don’t have to agree with me on the above point. It is just something I have reasoned out from looking at the stories regarding the journey through our different texts.
Something happened with this first annual Passover event. There was a group of men who had touched a dead body the day before. According to the rules set down by God regarding taking part in the Passover celebration, they were excluded.
Their hearts were broken! They knew the Law but they wanted to honor their Lord too. There was a death that they had to attend to. I have a feeling it was a sudden death of a family member. Someone had to care for this loved one and that duty fell to them.
Rather than abandoning their loved one or breaking the Law and incurring God’s wrath they went to Moses and asked for help. “What can we do? We didn’t do this on purpose. ‘Why are we kept from bringing the Lord’s offering at its appointed time among the people of Israel?’” (verse 7b).
Moses recognized their plight and their genuine distress. He also recognized that God made the rules and it was up to Him to decide on how to handle this.
God is a loving God and wants ALL His children to join in the special times with Him. But He can’t throw out His rules anytime they get burdensome for someone. Rules are there for a reason. God made an exception for those who were “unclean from touching a dead body or on a journey.” This was the only exception He allowed. EVERYONE else had to share the same set of rules regardless of their circumstances.
For these two exceptions God allowed these individuals to wait one month to celebrate the Passover. That meant that if they weren’t eligible on the original date they better make sure they were on the second one. Plan your trips so that you will be available on the date God chose. IF you HAVE to go on a trip and miss that day, make doubly sure you are available on the second opportunity. If you are unclean from touching a dead body for reasons beyond your control on the first date, make CERTAIN you are clean for the second date.
ANYONE of the children of Israel who could have participated under the regulations and chose not to, are to be cut off from the people. This would be like a slap in the face to God and a sin they had to carry. I don’t think it was an unpardonable sin but I could be wrong. This was a very important remembrance to God.
I love that God made provisions for those who couldn’t take part in the appointed day to still honor Him on another day. Moving the holidays is something I did a LOT of when my children were growing up. I think Easter might be the only one I didn’t move for one reason or another. The dates were not as important to me as the meaning behind the celebration. I also didn’t stick with the rest of the traditional observances. For Thanksgiving my kids and I usually had pizza and our favorite deserts. I have a feeling I would have gotten in a lot of trouble with this attitude if I had been Jewish and tried that with Passover.
Father God, thank You for honoring the relationship over the ritual. Yes, You had rules and expectations but those were tempered with love and understanding. You made allowances for those who were truly trying and wanted to show You their love. They wanted to honor You but the rules put a block in their way.
This happens to me when I find my time taken up by other responsibilities and I don’t sit down for our time. I want to honor You by spending time in Your word and writing about what You show me. But there are days when I am busy tutoring until late into the night or my husband wants my attention ALL day. This doesn’t change my desire for quiet time with You. Nor does it change Your heart towards me. Thank You for showing me that I can stop feeling guilty for those days and commit to come back later. Sometimes that “later” is a few days away because of circumstances; visitors usually. Thank You for giving me other options during those times, like music and simply sitting still for a few moments. Please remind me of this grace next time Satan tries to beat me up over a missed night. Thank You also for drawing me in tonight even though it is well past my bedtime. This was an important lesson tonight.