Summary: Studying the details and the meaning of Passover is quite an undertaking, but three facts seem obvious. Let’s note these facts.
Don’t Pass on the Passover
1. One traditional question Jewish children ask their father as part of the Passover dinner is "Ma Nishtana ha lei la haze," "Why is this NIGHT different than any other NIGHT." Dad then recounts the story of the Exodus.
2. Comedian George Burns, who was Jewish, tells this joke:
During one of my many trips to London, I became friends with a very wealthy, yet very modest, Jewish chap named Hyman Goldfarb. On one visit, Hy told me that because of his large donations to charities through the years, the queen wanted to knight him, but
he was going to turn it down.
"That’s a great honor," I said. "Why would you turn it down?"
"Because during the ceremony you have to say something in Latin," he said. "And I don’t wish to bother studying Latin just for that."
"So say something in Hebrew. The queen wouldn’t know the difference."
"Brilliant," Hy complimented me, "but what should I say?"
"Remember that question the son asks the father on the first night of Passover? ... Can you say that in Hebrew?"
"Of course," he said. "Ma nishtana ha leila hazeh. Thank you, old sport, I shall become a knight."
At the ceremony Hy waited his turn while several of the otherhonorees went before the queen. Finally they called his name. He knelt before Her Majesty, she placed her sword on one shoulder and then on the other, and motioned for Hy to speak.
Out came "Ma nishtana ha leila hazeh."
The queen turned to her husband and said, "Why is this knight different from all other knights?"
3. Okay -- if you have to explain it, it’s not funny.
4. Nonetheless, my introduction did serve its purpose as we can now transition to the subject of the Passover!
Main Idea: Studying the details and the meaning of Passover is quite an undertaking, but three facts seem obvious. Let’s note these facts.
I. The Passover Was A Small GROUP Experience (1-4)
A. It was the basis for the religious YEAR (1-2)
1. The month Abib was later changed to the Babylonain name, Nisan
2. The Jewish calendar had 354 day years, so every so often they would add an extra month to correct things…and adjust it further near the feast of firstfruits…
3. The imagery here is that the Blood of the Passover Lamb signified the beginning of a new life for the Hebrew people, much like being cleansed from our sins by faith in Jesus Christ begins a new life for individuals…
B. Men were to take spiritual INITIATIVE (3)
• Notice the absence of priests in the Passover; as originally intended, this showed that Israel was a "nation of priests" and that the faith was best propigated through the family with dad as spiritual leader…
• Later on, in Jewish history, the priests and Levites often slaughterd the sheep…but that was not the original intent…
C. Small families were to include OTHERS (4)
Josephus says were never fewer than ten, and were often twenty, but no man might feast alone [De Bello Jud. l. 6. c. 9. sect. 3]
• One key social skill for all Christians should be making the effort to include others