Monday, April 29, 2013
In Search Of Truth, Exodus 12:14-20
The Hebrew word for "memorial" here also means "reminder". This day would serve a specific and practical function. And although the Hebrew word used for "forever" here isn't always translated to mean literally "forever", it's clear that they were to observe this "reminder day" into the distant future until instructed otherwise.
Although it may not have acquired the connotation at this point, leaven would eventually become a metaphor for sin. Even without imposing that connotation here, however, we get the sense that worship of Yahweh demands absolute obedience in the purest form, since leaven was not even allowed in the houses of the Israelites during this "reminder" period, let alone in their bread. In fact, those who failed to obey this command were "cut off" from the community.
(There is argument over whether or not this "cutting off" referred to a death penalty. The Hebrew allows for it, but doesn't lean toward it.)
Yahweh demands absolute obedience. Not half-hearted, "do what you can" obedience, but complete, perfect obedience. And as a perfect being, he absolutely deserves nothing less.
Our reaction to this is usually to either think of God as ego-maniacal in some way (due to our unwillingness or inability to consider the ramifications of his perfection), or to feel a sense of defeat or despair as we realize we'll never even come close to the kind of obedience Yahweh demands.
This is why Christ's work on our behalf is so vital. Not only does his death and payment for our sins mean forgiveness, but it also means that we are being remade. Increasingly in this life and perfectly in Christ's future, eternal kingdom, we will be able to serve Yahweh flawlessly in the way he requires. And it will be the most fulfilling, enjoyable thing we've ever done!
On the first and seventh days of this week of remembrance, all the people of Israel were to gather together in a "holy assembly". There are no specific details provided here about what they will do during these days of assembly(aside from not working), but the purpose was purely in service to God, as indicated by the word "holy". (Meaning in Hebrew: "set apart for the purposes of God")
"The Feast Of Unleavened Bread" is closely related to the celebration of the Passover Feast, and there is overlap in discussion of the two here. They are distinct, but both serve the purpose of remembering Yahweh's rescue of his people from out of Egypt.
The Hebrew word used for "hosts" here does not necessarily refer to an army, and literally means "that which goes forth". But it has a strong connection to the idea of an army, and may be the first indication of one of Israel's purposes in the future as they would be tasked with reclaiming the promised land for Yahweh's purposes.
Further detail is provided here about aspects already covered in previous verses. Of special note is the inclusion of non-Jews. The assumption is that non-Jews would join this community at some point and take part in the community life. The Jews are Yahweh's uniquely chosen ethnic group, whom he revealed himself to in greater detail, but invitation to the worship of Yahweh and relationship with him has always been inclusive of every person on the earth.
There is a repeated theme of remembrance throughout the Old Testament. This was pointed out to me a few years ago and I was struck by how important it is to remember who God is and what he has done. On and off over the years I've attempted to keep a prayer journal, recording not only my prayers and requests to God, but their eventual answers. Going back and remembering how God answered my specific prayers always encourages me and reminds me who this God is that I'm struggling through life beside.
A prayer journal is just one way to remember God's reliability and trustworthiness. Traditions can be powerful too, as Passover was for the Jews. Today we can start our own traditions to remind us of something God has revealed.
Here on The Spirit Blade Underground we're soon going to head into our fifth annual "Summer Of Free". Maybe for a lot of listeners it's just a cool season of finding out about free stuff. For me it's a relatively new tradition that helps remind me that I really can trust God with my finances and personal contentment.
It's so easy to live only in the stress of the moment with the problems facing us, forgetting God's character and his past faithfulness to us (either as a whole or in our individual lives and stories). I love to fill my mind and memory with so many stories that aren't even real, but find it difficult to remember the ways that God has taken care of me, rescued me and loved me repeatedly in the past.
But I find that if I force myself to take some time of reflection and remembering, to recall who God is and what he has done for me, I have a greater ability to trust him with what I'm facing right now. In a nutshell, knowing really is only "half the battle". For the strength and confidence to fight the rest of it, we need to remember.