Friday, February 5, 2016

WEEKLY SUNDAY SCHOOL LESSON
An international Sunday school lesson commentary
For Sunday February 7, 2016

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THE FIRST PASSOVER
(Remember to celebrate what the LORD has done)
(Exodus 12:1-14)

   Exodus 12 highlights GOD’s instructions to Moses and Aaron for the first Passover observance. They were to give these instructions to the people of the nation of Israel while they were yet still in the city of Goshen, in the land of Egypt. And so, here in this passage we see Israel being referred to as a “nation” for the first time in Scriptures.
    Here in this passage we also see the month of Abib, which means “fresh young ears” being declared by GOD as the first month on the Jewish religious calendar. It was not until after the Jews capture by Babylon many centuries later (586 B.C.), when 4 of the 12 months of the calendar were given Babylonian names, and the month of Abib became known as “Nisan”, which means “start”.
    The city of Goshen in Egypt, where the Israelites resided, was where GOD originally introduced the “concept of the Church” on earth, and how it was to be “set apart” as far as how it was to be related to the world. Even though the people of the Church (Goshen) had to exist and toil in the world (Egypt), it must, at one and the same time, also remain separated from the ways of the world. Israel, in Egypt, became GOD’s concept of what the Church would be like in its relationship to the world. The Church, like Israel, was to be “GOD’s representative” here on earth, and therefore, the laws of GOD would have to become paramount to each.
    Here in this chapter of Scripture, GOD is seeking to instill a sense of unity among HIS people that would help them to maintain the same attitude of being “set apart” in their behavior and lifestyle, from the world, long after she leaves Egypt and enters into the “Promised Land” of Canaan. They were to never forget the lesson that GOD taught them through their hardships in Egypt, so that they would never again desire to choose the ways of the world over the ways of GOD, their SAVIOR. That is why the rituals of the Passover are rift with symbolisms regarding their four hundred years of captivity in Egypt.
    In the Old Testament, the concept of “Zikkaron” (Zik-ka-rone) is a festival, practice, or object that is intended to link future generations, to a past distinctive act of GOD. The name derives from the Hebrew word “zikrown” (zik-rone), which is “a memento, or a memorable day, thing, or writing”. Through the Zikkaron, GOD’s people could sense their personal participation, along with the original generation, in the very act that GOD had performed for that previous generation.   
    And so, the Passover is one of a small number of feasts that comes to us directly from the heart of GOD HIMSELF. These celebrations, or, observances, whisper ever so gently, for us to come closer to GOD, and are intended by HIM, to help us to keep our minds stayed on HIS grace and mercy, from generation to generation.
    The Passover, also most notably depicts for us, a very vivid picture of the coming salvation that would be ushered in by CHRIST JESUS. When JESUS was living here on earth, HE plucked from these proceedings, the very “communion services” that we often observe in the Christian Church today, and HE commanded us to “Do this in remembrance of HIM”.
    The sacrificial lambs’ blood that was smeared over, and on the sides of the doorposts of the Israelites homes in Goshen, allowed for them to be “passed over” by the “angel of death” and to be saved by the merciful hand of GOD. It is a picture of how “the saving blood of CHRIST JESUS” would later come to deliver all mankind, who chooses to follow HIM from the “chains of death and sin in the “world”, and into the glorious presence of GOD in Heaven.

    The following is a rather detailed description of a Passover Commemorative Feast like the one that was handed down by GOD to HIS servants, Moses and his older brother Aaron, for HIS people, Israel in Exodus 12;
  
    According to Jewish ways of counting days, the new day begins at 6:00 o’clock in the evening. The Passover day, itself, is on the 14th Nisan. Preparation for Passover is done on the 13th Nisan, and is completed by 6:00 p.m. In preparing for Passover, there is first, a “ceremonial search for leaven”. Every bit of “leaven” must be totally removed from a household. This is in conformance with the tradition of this very first Passover in Egypt, as it is recorded in Exodus 12, where it was commemorated with the eating of “unleavened bread”.
    Then, on the afternoon of the 13th Nisan, came the “sacrificing of the Passover Lamb”. All the people would come to the temple and the worshipers would each kill their own lamb for sacrifice. Two long lines of priests stood between the worshipers and the Altar, each holding a gold or silver bowl. When the lamb’s throat was slit, the blood was caught in one of these bowls, and was passed up the line to the priest at the end of the line, who would pour the blood onto the Altar.
The lamb is then skinned and gutted, and the fat is extracted. The meat is then handed back to the worshiper, and it is then, carried home to be roasted on an open fire with a spit made of Pomegranate wood. The table that is used is shaped like a square with one end open. It was very low, and the diners were reclined on couches, resting on their left arm, with their right arm free for eating.

This is a list of things that were necessary to obtain for the Passover meal:

(1). There is the “Lamb”: It is to remind them of how their houses had been protected by
       the blood of the lamb when the Angel of Death passed through Egypt, on the eve, of the
       great exodus. 
(2). There is the “Unleavened Bread”: This is to remind them of the bread that they had
       eaten in haste, when they left out, from slavery in Egypt.
(3). There is the “Bowl of Salt Water”: To remind them of the tears that they had shed in
       Egypt, and the water of the Red Sea, through which they had miraculously passed to
       safety.
(4). There is the collection of “Bitter Herbs”: Horse Radish, Chicory, Endive, Lettuce, and
       Horehound to remind them of the bitterness of slavery in Egypt.
(5). There is a paste called “Charosheth” (Khar-o-sheth): A mixture of Apples, Dates,
       Pomegranates, and nuts, to remind them of the clay, of which they had to make bricks
       in Egypt. Also mixed through it, were sticks of cinnamon to remind them of the straw,
       with which the bricks had been made.
(6). There were the “Four Cups of Wine”: The cups contained a little more than half a pint
       of wine, with three parts wine mixed with two parts water. The four cups were drank
       at different stages of the Passover meal, and were to remind them of the four promises
       in Exodus 6:6-7, where GOD says, “I will bring you out from under the burdens of the
       Egyptians”. “I will rid you out of their bondage”. “I will redeem you with a stretched
       out arm, and with great judgments”. “I will take you to ME for a people, and I will be
      to you a GOD”.

Now this is the procedure, or various steps by which the Passover Meal is eaten:

(1). First the “Cup of the Kiddush” (first of the four cups of wine) is prayed over and
       drank. “Kiddush” means “sanctification”, or “separation”. This cup symbolizes the
       separation of this meal from all other common meals. The head of the family prays
       over the cup, and then everyone would drink it.
(2). Then there is the “first hand washing”, which would be done only by the person who
       was to celebrate the feast. They must wash their hands three times in a prescribed way.
(3)  Now, a piece of parsley, or lettuce was taken and dipped in the bowl of salt water and
       eaten as an appetizer to the meal. The parsley, or lettuce symbolized the hyssop, with
       which the blood had been smeared over the doorposts in Egypt.
(4). “The breaking of the Bread”. Two blessings are used in the breaking of the bread.
      “Blessed be THOU, O LORD, our God, King of the universe, who bringest forth from
        the earth”, or “Blessed art THOU, our FATHER in Heaven, who givest us today the
        bread necessary for us”. On the table, there are three circles of unleavened bread. The
        middle one is taken and broken, to remind them that as slaves, they never had a whole
        loaf to eat. As it is broken, the head of the family would say, “This is the bread of
       affliction that our forefathers ate in Egypt. Whosoever is hungry, let him come and eat.
       Whosoever is in need let him come and keep Passover with us”.
 (5). Next came the telling of the “Story of Deliverance”, or, how GOD delivered the Jews
        out, of Egypt.
 (6). Then Psalms 113 & 114 are sung. Psalms 113-118 are known as the “Hallel”, which
        means “the praise of GOD”.
 (7). Then the second cup of wine is drunk. It is called the “Cup of Haggadah”, which
        means “the cup of explaining or proclaiming”.
 (8). Afterwards, all those present, now wash their hands in preparation for the meal.
 (9). A grace is said. “Blessed art THOU, O LORD, our God, who bringest forth fruit from
       the earth. Blessed art THOU, O GOD, who has sanctified us with THY commandment
       and enjoined us to eat unleavened cakes”. Then small pieces of bread are distributed.
(10). Some of the bitter Herbs are placed between the two pieces of bread and are dipped in
         the Charosheth and then eaten. This is called “the Sop”, and is what JESUS is
         referring to in the Gospels, when HE is identifying Judas Iscariot as the person who
         will betray HIM.
(11). Now comes the Meal Proper, or the eating of the Lamb. All the meat must be eaten, or
         the leftovers must be destroyed to assure that they are not used later in a common
         meal.
(12). The hands are again washed.
   
The next two steps are the one’s which JESUS made HIS own, and we commemorate them
during our Communion Services:

(13). The remainder of the unleavened bread is eaten.
(14). There is a prayer of Thanksgiving, containing a petition for the coming of Elijah to
         herald the MESSIAH. Then the third cup is drank, which is called the “Cup of
        Thanksgiving”. Then this blessing is said: “Blessed art THOU, O LORD, our God,
         King of the universe, who hast created the fruit of the vine”.
(15). The second part of the Hallel, Psalms 115-118, is sung.
(16). The fourth cup is drank, and Psalms 136, which is known as the “Great Hallel” is sung.

Two short prayers are prayed to end the Passover Meal:

All THY works shall praise THEE, O LORD, our God. And THY Saints, the righteous, who do THY good pleasure, and all thy people, the house of Israel, with joyous song, let them praise and bless and magnify and glorify and exalt and reverence and sanctify and scribe the Kingdom to THY name, O GOD, our King.
For it is good to praise THEE, and pleasure to sing praises to THY name, from everlasting to everlasting THOU art GOD.
__

“The breath of all that lives shall praise THY name, O LORD, our God. And the        spirit of all flesh shall continually glorify and exalt THY memorial, O GOD, our King. For from everlasting unto everlasting THOU art GOD, and besides THEE we have no King, Redeemer, or Savior”.

    JESUS celebrated HIS last Passover here on earth with HIS disciples on the eve of HIS crucifixion. HE blessed and divided the bread that HE said symbolized HIS very body that would be broken and bleed like that of a sacrificial lamb on the altar of GOD. And HE shared the wine saying that it symbolized the blood that HE would later shed to cover the sins of this world, past, present, and future. It was not until after HIS death, and after the coming of the HOLY SPIRIT that HIS disciples really understand the importance of what JESUS meant by these statements.

A Sunday school lesson by,
Larry D. Alexander





                                 
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