Sunday School Lesson

February 7

Lesson 10

Passover

Devotional Reading: Matthew 26:20-30

Background Scripture: Exodus 12:1-14; Numbers 28:16-25; Mark 14:12-26

Exodus 12:1-14

1 And the Lord spake unto Moses and Aaron in the land of Egypt, saying,

2 This month shall be unto you the beginning of months: it shall be the first month of the year to you.

3 Speak ye unto all the congregation of Israel, saying, In the tenth day of this month they shall take to them every man a lamb, according to the house of their fathers, a lamb for an house:

4 And if the household be too little for the lamb, let him and his neighbour next unto his house take it according to the number of the souls; every man according to his eating shall make your count for the lamb.

5 Your lamb shall be without blemish, a male of the first year: ye shall take it out from the sheep, or from the goats:

6 And ye shall keep it up until the fourteenth day of the same month: and the whole assembly of the congregation of Israel shall kill it in the evening.

7 And they shall take of the blood, and strike it on the two side posts and on the upper door post of the houses, wherein they shall eat it.

8 And they shall eat the flesh in that night, roast with fire, and unleavened bread; and with bitter herbs they shall eat it.

9 Eat not of it raw, nor sodden at all with water, but roast with fire; his head with his legs, and with the purtenance thereof.

10 And ye shall let nothing of it remain until the morning; and that which remaineth of it until the morning ye shall burn with fire.

11 And thus shall ye eat it; with your loins girded, your shoes on your feet, and your staff in your hand; and ye shall eat it in haste: it is the Lord’s passover.

12 For I will pass through the land of Egypt this night, and will smite all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, both man and beast; and against all the gods of Egypt I will execute judgment: I am the Lord.

13 And the blood shall be to you for a token upon the houses where ye are: and when I see the blood, I will pass over you, and the plague shall not be upon you to destroy you, when I smite the land of Egypt.

14 And this day shall be unto you for a memorial; and ye shall keep it a feast to the Lord throughout your generations; ye shall keep it a feast by an ordinance for ever.

Key Verse

This day shall be unto you for a memorial; and ye shall keep it a feast to the Lord throughout your generations; ye shall keep it a feast by an ordinance for ever. —Exodus 12:14

Lesson Aims

After participating in this lesson, each learner will be able to:

1. Restate the Lord’s instructions for the Passover.

2. Compare and contrast the observance of Passover with that of the Lord’s Supper.

3. Write a communion meditation that reflects Passover themes.

Lesson Outline

Introduction

A. A Night to Remember

B. Lesson Background

I. The Lord Speaks (Exodus 12:1, 2)

A. Brothers Addressed (v. 1)

B. Month Designated (v. 2)

II. Moses and Aaron to Speak (Exodus 12:3-14)

A. Passover Preparations Described (vv. 3-9)

Remembering the Bitter

B. Cautions Determined (vv. 10-13)

C. Continual Observance Demanded (v. 14)

Fitting

Conclusion

A. Christ Our Passover

B. Prayer

C. Thought to Remember

Introduction

A. A Night to Remember

A Night to Remember was published in 1955 as an account of the sinking of the RMS Titanic in 1912. Walter Lord, the author, had interviewed survivors, and he wrote about the tragedy from their points of view. Movies, articles, and other books have been produced that also tell this story, but Walter Lord’s work seems to be the one against which all other accounts are measured.

It has been over 100 years since the “unsinkable” ship sank, but each new generation is fascinated by Lord’s presentation. It departs from a chronological presentation in order to focus on the emotions of those who lived through that “night to remember.”

Nations, families, and individuals have experienced events at night, making each instance “a night to remember.” On the national level, the midnight ride of Paul Revere has inspired future generations of Americans. The death of President Abraham Lincoln was also a night to remember. Personal experiences may involve the birth of a child, the death of a family member, and seemingly ordinary events that developed into something quite out of the ordinary.

Many sermons have been preached with “night to remember” motifs concerning the numerous memorable nights found in the Bible (examples: Genesis 28:12; Exodus 14:21-29; Judges 7:19; Daniel 5:30; Matthew 14:25-33; Luke 2:6-20; John 3:1, 2; Acts 12:6-17; 16:25-34). Today’s lesson is about an event in Egypt that fits—even defines—this category. It was a night when God proved His superiority over the fictitious gods of Egypt.

B. Lesson Background

In about 2092 BC, God instructed Abraham (at the time known as Abram) to leave his home country and go to the land he would be shown—Canaan (Genesis 12:1-5). Obeying God, Abraham continued on to Egypt because of a famine (12:10). There Pharaoh and his household experienced the first plagues from the Lord on the Egyptians; this time it was to convince Pharaoh that he must return Abraham’s wife to him (12:14-20). Later, God informed Abraham that his descendants would be oppressed 400 years “in a land that is not theirs” (15:13).

That land was Egypt, for grandson Jacob and his extended family went there in about 1877 BC—again to escape famine (Genesis 43:1; 45:6; 46:5-7). After 430 years, the Lord was ready to act to free His people from slavery. That was the beginning of many mighty acts to fulfill the promises made to the patriarchs—to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. The year was 1447 BC. The occasion was Passover.

I. The Lord Speaks

                                                                  (Exodus 12:1, 2)

A. Brothers Addressed (v. 1)

1. And the Lord spake unto Moses and Aaron in the land of Egypt, saying.

The book of Exodus notes the Lord’s speaking to Moses dozens of times. By contrast, for the Lord to speak unto Moses and Aaron simultaneously is rare (only here and in Exodus 6:13; 7:8; 9:8; 12:43). What is about to be said is so important that Aaron—Moses’ brother and Israel’s future first high priest (28:1-4, 41; 29:9; etc.)—must hear it firsthand. All the other regulations for sacrifices and rituals will be given at Sinai, but the revelation about the observance of Passover is given while the nation of Israel is still in the land of Egypt.

B. Month Designated (v. 2)

2. This month shall be unto you the beginning of months: it shall be the first month of the year to you.

The name of the month in question is given as “Abib” in Exodus 13:4. This month corresponds with late March and early April. The name of this first month of the year becomes known as “Nisan” during the Babylonian exile (Esther 3:7), for that was the Babylonian name for it.

Abib/Nisan is used in determining the beginning of the religious year, while Israel’s civil year eventually comes to begin with the seventh month (compare 1 Kings 8:2). The first day of any month is heralded by the appearance of a new moon (compare Psalm 81:3; Isaiah 66:23).

II. Moses and Aaron to Speak

                                                                 (Exodus 12:3-14)

A. Passover Preparations Described (vv. 3-9)

3. Speak ye unto all the congregation of Israel, saying, In the tenth day of this month they shall take to them every man a lamb, according to the house of their fathers, a lamb for an house.

The directives continue to both Moses and Aaron, who must pass these on to all the congregation of Israel. The verb speak ye is a plural imperative, so both men are to provide specific instructions on what the people are to do in preparation for the first Passover observance.

The ceremonial actions are to begin on the tenth day of the first month. The selection of the animal on this specific day is never cited again, so some conclude that this feature is intended only for this initial occasion. Forty years later, the Israelites will cross the Jordan River “on the tenth day of the first month” (Joshua 4:19) and will keep the Passover four days later (5:10). But there is no mention of selecting the animals on the exciting day when they cross the Jordan. It is possible that they do, but this more likely takes place later.

The word translated lamb is not the usual word for a young sheep. It is a generic term that may refer either to a young sheep or goat (kid). That is made clear in verse 5. The use of either goats or sheep will be a recognized part of the ceremony some 800 years later when King Josiah’s workmen find the law in the temple, in about 621 BC. At that time the king renews the practice of keeping the Passover (2 Chronicles 35:7).

How to Say It

Aaron Air-un.

Abib A-bib.

Abraham Ay-bruh-ham.

Abram Ay-brum.

Babylonian Bab-ih-low-nee-un.

Hezekiah Hez-ih-kye-uh.

Josiah Jo-sigh-uh.

Moses Mo-zes or Mo-zez.

Nisan Nye-san.

Pharaoh Fair-o or Fay-roe.

 

4. And if the household be too little for the lamb, let him and his neighbour next unto his house take it according to the number of the souls; every man according to his eating shall make your count for the lamb.

The meaning of the verse is clear, but interpretive traditions have risen from it. In the late first century AD, the Jewish historian Josephus wrote that “a company not less than ten belong to every [Passover] sacrifice, for it is not lawful for them to feast singly by themselves, and [that there were often] as many as twenty.”

5. Your lamb shall be without blemish, a male of the first year: ye shall take it out from the sheep, or from the goats.

The importance of the forthcoming Passover observance is magnified by the requirements that are given for the sacrificial animals. Animals of highest value, those without blemish, are prescribed. This prerequisite will later be stressed repeatedly for other offerings as well (Leviticus 1:3, 10; Numbers 28:3, 9, 11; etc.). If it is for God, it should be the best. The unblemished animals will be considered as substitutes for the firstborn of people and animals to be spared when the Lord passes through the land (Exodus 12:12). Most Christians are aware of the comparison with Jesus as the perfect, sinless sacrifice (1 Peter 1:19).

6. And ye shall keep it up until the fourteenth day of the same month: and the whole assembly of the congregation of Israel shall kill it in the evening.

The interval between the tenth day and the fourteenth day of the same month is more than just for ordinary care of animals. The phrase ye shall keep it stresses that careful attention is to be given to the selected sacrificial animals. The unblemished animals of the tenth day must not be allowed to become the blemished animals of the fourteenth day! The priesthood of Aaron and his descendants (Leviticus 8-10) has not yet been established; at this time there is no altar, no tabernacle, no central place for worship. As such, the leader of each household is to act as something of a priest to prepare and slay the animal. The special guidelines make this a memorable experience for each family.

What Do You Think?

What things, if any, should Christians reserve solely for God’s use even though He already owns everything? Why?

Talking Points for Your Discussion

Material things

Personal abilities

Time

Other

The fourteenth day of the month has another implication: since the month begins with a new moon, there will be a full moon by the fourteenth. This will provide light during the hasty departure from Egypt by night.

The phrase in the evening is literally “between the two evenings.” This awkward (to us) expression has drawn various interpretations. Some think it refers to the time between sunset and when stars become visible. But it probably refers to a two-hour period just prior to full sunset. Josephus wrote that the time is between the ninth and eleventh hours, or from about 3:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. The regular evening sacrifice for Israel, when instituted, will usually occur about 3:00 p.m., but it may be earlier on this special day.

7. And they shall take of the blood, and strike it on the two side posts and on the upper door post of the houses, wherein they shall eat it.

Exodus 12:22 provides a bit more detail on how the blood of the Passover lamb is to be used. The blood is first caught in a “bason” (basin). Then “a bunch of hyssop” is used to apply the blood to the two side posts and the upper door post (lintel) of each Israelite house where the people are gathered to eat. A sermon from decades ago had these words in it: “The blood gurgling into the basin proclaimed that something innocent had to die so that others could live.” This parallels the doctrine of a substitutionary atoning sacrifice: Christ the innocent died so that we the guilty might live.

8a. And they shall eat the flesh in that night, roast with fire.

Roasting over an open fire is the only method to be used to prepare the Passover lamb. Verse 9, below, further stresses this requirement.

8b. And unleavened bread;

Bread made without leaven (yeast) will end up being thin and flat. Not having to wait until the dough rises points to the haste demanded later. The New Testament usually associates leaven with impurity (example: 1 Corinthians 5:6, 7; note Christ’s designation as “our passover”), and removal of leaven as removal of sin is stressed.

8c. And with bitter herbs they shall eat it.

Bitter herbs are associated with the life that the Israelites have endured for many years, especially in the year after Moses makes his first approach to Pharaoh. The bitter herbs of Egypt probably include wild lettuce and endive (compare Numbers 9:11).

What Do You Think?

Under what circumstances, if any, would a Christian’s participation in a modern Passover celebration be appropriate? Why?

Talking Points for Your Discussion

Positive and negative impact on non-Christians

Positive and negative impact on fellow believers

Romans 14; 1 Corinthians 5:7; Galatians 4:10, 11; Colossians 2:16

Other

Remembering the Bitter

My community is blessed to have a Christian ministry to homeless women and their children. The ministry offers both short-term emergency shelter and a longer-term “life recovery” option for women to receive training and assistance in breaking free from unhealthy patterns. The longer-term option requires participation in work therapy, counseling, self-evaluation, and coursework designed to help them heal, be accountable to others, and set boundaries for themselves.

Many women who enter the program have been exposed to abuse, rejection, abandonment, addiction, and court involvement. Although the shelter offers the women a way out of dire circumstances, many ladies leave the program before they complete all that is offered. The struggles that come with change are challenging. At times it seems that memories of “life before” grow more attractive, especially when the inevitable trials of what should be the “new normal” kick in.

The rituals and symbols of Passover were meant to remind participants of the Lord’s protection. They also contain an element to bring to mind the bitterness of the past. Then as now, we humans tend to romanticize or minimize trauma of the past as a reaction to the trials of the moment (compare Numbers 11:4-6). Perhaps an honest reflection on yesterday’s trials (and sins!) will prevent us from embracing them anew.—V. E.

9. Eat not of it raw, nor sodden at all with water, but roast with fire; his head with his legs, and with the purtenance thereof.

The cooking directives are specific in prohibiting the eating of raw meat. Sodden at all with water refers to boiling—not allowed either! It must be roasted. Purtenance refers to entrails or internal organs. The restriction “neither shall ye break a bone thereof” in Exodus 12:46 is also a factor, and this is easily avoided by roasting the animal over a spit. Not having a bone broken is cited in John 19:36 as being a fulfillment of prophecy when Jesus is crucified (compare Numbers 9:12; Psalm 34:20; John 19:32, 33).

B. Cautions Determined (vv. 10-13)

10. And ye shall let nothing of it remain until the morning; and that which remaineth of it until the morning ye shall burn with fire.

A regular future custom for most sacrifices will be to incinerate what cannot be eaten on the first day after making an offering to God (Leviticus 7:15). An exception will be made for freewill offerings or offerings with a vow; such can delay the burning one more day (7:16-18).

11. And thus shall ye eat it; with your loins girded, your shoes on your feet, and your staff in your hand; and ye shall eat it in haste: it is the Lord’s passover.

The Israelites are to be ready to leave on a journey, and the procedures listed here are regarded as being only for the first Passover. A walking staff is to be readily available when the actual departure from Egypt begins. The word passover is from a verb that primarily means “to spare,” so “to pass over” is a valid way to express the idea in view. This is seen especially in Isaiah 31:5, where God says, “As birds flying, so will the Lord of hosts defend Jerusalem; defending also he will deliver it; and passing over he will preserve it.”

What Do You Think?

What errors involving haste do Christians commit?

How do we correct these?

Talking Points for Your Discussion

Areas where more haste is called for

Areas where less haste is called for

12. For I will pass through the land of Egypt this night, and will smite all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, both man and beast; and against all the gods of Egypt I will execute judgment: I am the Lord.

The words pass through translate a different word from the one translated “passover” in verse 11, above. The Lord will move through the land of Egypt so as to bring about an extraordinary event: the death of the firstborn of both man and beast. Egypt has sacred goats, rams, etc., so a greater impact will be made if the firstborn of many types of animals are slain, especially those of the sacred animals in the various temples. Pharaoh will finally understand, at least temporarily, that all the gods of Egypt are powerless against the God of Israel!

Regarding the forthcoming human deaths, the guarded palaces of Pharaoh will not be a sanctuary—the deaths of firstborn will happen there as well. This is a judgment on the entire nation of Egypt, top to bottom. The Lord has seen the affliction and heard the cries of His people in Egypt (Exodus 3:7), and the time for judgment has come.

What Do You Think?

Which “gods” of modern culture most tempt the wrath of the one true God? What will you do with your conclusions in that regard?

Talking Points for Your Discussion

Considering 2 Corinthians 4:4

Considering Galatians 4:8, 9

Considering Philippians 3:19

Other

13. And the blood shall be to you for a token upon the houses where ye are: and when I see the blood, I will pass over you, and the plague shall not be upon you to destroy you, when I smite the land of Egypt.

The word blood occurs more than 400 times in the Bible. From Genesis 4:10 to Revelation 19:13, there is something special about blood. In the verse before us, blood serves as protection for those who are in homes that have had the blood of the lamb or goat applied as instructed. Many gospel songs have used this verse to make application to salvation in Christ.

The message that Moses and Aaron pass along involves much more than “doing something religious.” The purpose is to provide protection from the final plague. A study of the plagues reveals that the first three affect both Egyptians and Israelites. Beginning with the fourth, God makes a distinction, sparing Israel. This time, however, it is up to each Israelite household to obey the instructions or suffer the consequences of disobedience.

What Do You Think?

How should the reality that the blood of Jesus, our Passover Lamb, has been applied to our sins affect how we live?

Talking Points for Your Discussion

Regarding attitudes

Regarding actions

Regarding priorities

C. Continual Observance Demanded (v. 14)

14a. And this day shall be unto you for a memorial; and ye shall keep it a feast to the Lord throughout your generations;

The Israelites are instructed that future generations are to have a similar observance. It will provide reminders about the birth of their nation as it changed from being enslaved to being a free and covenant people. It is to prompt a continued faithfulness to the Lord, who covenants with them.

Fitting

I recently traveled for a weekend ladies event. My fellow sojourners and I decided to break up the 11-hour drive home, and Kansas City was a logical stopping point. We took advantage of that to visit the International House of Prayer. I had never been there before, but I had watched the ministry’s feed on the Internet. I had seen the worship area, a fairly simple setup where young interns perform worship music in two-hour segments continually. That’s right—continually.

We signed the guest book, entered, found seats, and joined in the acknowledgment of the King of kings. After about an hour, we quietly left and resumed our journey home.

While this experience was not very different from that of Sunday morning worship, one thought dominated my mind: fitting. Since 1999, that little room had not seen an interruption of praise and prayer. It has taken a concerted effort of coordination, administration, and willing hearts to keep it going. Yet what could possibly be a more appropriate response to our amazing God than an unending flow of praise, prayer, and worship? May we too be faithful in ceaseless thankfulness and worship of him!—V. E.

14b. Ye shall keep it a feast by an ordinance for ever.

This final phrase seems at first glance to indicate that the Passover is to be kept in perpetuity. But the phrase for ever actually means “into a hidden period of time” or “no end in sight,” whether in the future or in the past. A covenant may be ended by either party. If either fails to keep its part, then the covenant is broken. A covenant also terminates when the reasons for its existence—what it is intended to accomplish—are fulfilled.

Very few Passover celebrations are recorded in the Old Testament. The feast is celebrated a year later while the Israelites are at Sinai (Numbers 9:2-14). The next mention is immediately after the Israelites cross the Jordan River, 40 years after the first observance. Prior to the exile of 586 BC, only two other observances are recorded: one in about 715 BC, in the days of Hezekiah (2 Chronicles 30) and another in about 621 BC, during the reign of Josiah (2 Chronicles 35). The text indicates prior neglect of the feast in both instances (30:5; 35:18). After the exile, a Passover celebration is noted in Ezra 6:19, in 515 BC.

Visual for Lesson 10. Keep this chart posted for all lessons this month to give your learners a bird’s-eye perspective on special days of Old Testament Israel.

Conclusion

A. Christ Our Passover

There are parallels between the salvation of Christians and the deliverance of the Israelites on that special night in Egypt. These are voiced in many sermons and devotional presentations. Listed below are several such comparisons.

  1. Israel’s deliverance was from impending doom, and so is ours.
  2. Israel’s deliverance was of God’s devising, and so is ours.
  3. Israel’s deliverance was made possible by obedient faith, and so is ours.
  4. Israel’s deliverance required continued faithfulness, and so does ours.
  5. Israel’s deliverance demanded a sacrifice without blemish, and so did ours.
  6. Israel’s deliverance was accomplished by a sacrifice that was a substitute, and so did ours.

So—what value is there in studying the ancient event of the first Passover?

B. Prayer

Thank you, God, for demonstrating Your power and Your love for Your people! You have fulfilled Your promises, and now we look forward to our final deliverance when Your Son returns in glory! In His name we pray. Amen.

C. Thought to Remember

God still liberates.


February 14

Lesson 11

Feast of Weeks

Devotional Reading: Romans 7:14-25

Background Scripture: Numbers 28:26-31; Leviticus 23:15-22; Acts 2:1-36

Leviticus 23:15-22

15 And ye shall count unto you from the morrow after the sabbath, from the day that ye brought the sheaf of the wave offering; seven sabbaths shall be complete:

16 Even unto the morrow after the seventh sabbath shall ye number fifty days; and ye shall offer a new meat offering unto the Lord.

17 Ye shall bring out of your habitations two wave loaves of two tenth deals; they shall be of fine flour; they shall be baken with leaven; they are the firstfruits unto the Lord.

18 And ye shall offer with the bread seven lambs without blemish of the first year, and one young bullock, and two rams: they shall be for a burnt offering unto the Lord, with their meat offering, and their drink offerings, even an offering made by fire, of sweet savour unto the Lord.

19 Then ye shall sacrifice one kid of the goats for a sin offering, and two lambs of the first year for a sacrifice of peace offerings.

20 And the priest shall wave them with the bread of the firstfruits for a wave offering before the Lord, with the two lambs: they shall be holy to the Lord for the priest.

21 And ye shall proclaim on the selfsame day, that it may be an holy convocation unto you: ye shall do no servile work therein: it shall be a statute for ever in all your dwellings throughout your generations.

22 And when ye reap the harvest of your land, thou shalt not make clean riddance of the corners of thy field when thou reapest, neither shalt thou gather any gleaning of thy harvest: thou shalt leave them unto the poor, and to the stranger: I am the Lord your God.

Key Verse

Even unto the morrow after the seventh sabbath shall ye number fifty days; and ye shall offer a new meat offering unto the Lord. —Leviticus 23:16

Lesson Aims

After participating in this lesson, each learner will be able to:

1. Describe the Feast of Weeks and list its key elements.

2. Explain the significance of making provision for the poor in the midst of participating in worship traditions.

3. Suggest one way to better provide for the poor by using the principle in Leviticus 23:22.

Lesson Outline

Introduction

A. Family Gatherings

B. Lesson Background

I. Day Determination (Leviticus 23:15, 16a)

A. Seven Sabbaths (v. 15)

B. Fifty Days (v. 16a)

II. Sacrifice Directives (Leviticus 23:16b-20)

A. Wave Offerings (vv. 16b, 17)

B. Burnt Offerings (v. 18)

C. Sin Offerings (v. 19a)

D. Peace Offerings (v. 19b)

Blessing the Blessers

E. Priest Actions (v. 20)

III. Other Rules (Leviticus 23:21, 22)

A. No Work (v. 21)

B. No Stinginess (v. 22)

What Does the Lord Desire?

Conclusion

A. Pentecost and the Church

B. Prayer

C. Thought to Remember


Standard Lesson Commentary 2015-2016 (KJV).

"Suggestions for families are taken from Standardlesson.com,

Standard Publishing Group, LLC. Used with permission. More resources for families are available at Standardpub.com.


God Bless