Read Deuteronomy 16
16 Observe the month of Aviv and celebrate the Passover of the Lord your God, because in the month of Aviv he brought you out of Egypt by night.2 Sacrifice as the Passover to the Lord your God an animal from your flock or herd at the place the Lord will choose as a dwelling for his Name. 3 Do not eat it with bread made with yeast, but for seven days eat unleavened bread, the bread of affliction, because you left Egypt in haste—so that all the days of your life you may remember the time of your departure from Egypt.4 Let no yeast be found in your possession in all your land for seven days. Do not let any of the meat you sacrifice on the evening of the first day remain until morning.
5 You must not sacrifice the Passover in any town the Lord your God gives you 6 except in the place he will choose as a dwelling for his Name. There you must sacrifice the Passover in the evening, when the sun goes down, on the anniversary of your departure from Egypt. 7 Roast it and eat it at the place the Lord your God will choose. Then in the morning return to your tents. 8 For six days eat unleavened bread and on the seventh day hold an assembly to the Lord your God and do no work.
The Festival of Weeks
9 Count off seven weeks from the time you begin to put the sickle to the standing grain. 10 Then celebrate the Festival of Weeks to the Lord your God by giving a freewill offering in proportion to the blessings the Lord your God has given you. 11 And rejoice before the Lord your God at the place he will choose as a dwelling for his Name—you, your sons and daughters, your male and female servants, the Levites in your towns, and the foreigners, the fatherless and the widows living among you. 12 Remember that you were slaves in Egypt, and follow carefully these decrees.
The Festival of Tabernacles
13 Celebrate the Festival of Tabernacles for seven days after you have gathered the produce of your threshing floor and your winepress. 14 Be joyful at your festival—you, your sons and daughters, your male and female servants, and the Levites, the foreigners, the fatherless and the widows who live in your towns. 15 For seven days celebrate the festival to the Lord your God at the place the Lord will choose. For the Lord your God will bless you in all your harvest and in all the work of your hands, and your joy will be complete.
16 Three times a year all your men must appear before the Lord your God at the place he will choose: at the Festival of Unleavened Bread, the Festival of Weeks and the Festival of Tabernacles. No one should appear before the Lord empty-handed: 17 Each of you must bring a gift in proportion to the way the Lord your God has blessed you.
18 Appoint judges and officials for each of your tribes in every town the Lordyour God is giving you, and they shall judge the people fairly. 19 Do not pervert justice or show partiality. Do not accept a bribe, for a bribe blinds the eyes of the wise and twists the words of the innocent. 20 Follow justice and justice alone, so that you may live and possess the land the Lord your God is giving you.
Worshiping Other Gods
21 Do not set up any wooden Asherah pole beside the altar you build to the Lord your God, 22 and do not erect a sacred stone, for these the Lord your God hates.
The opening of Deuteronomy 16 (v. 1-8) takes us all the way back to Exodus 12. The Israelites are captive in Egypt by Pharaoh, so God sends ten plagues on all of Egypt to get Pharaoh’s attention and ultimately liberate His people from captivity. The final and most severe plague, the death of the firstborn, killed every household’s firstborn child in Egypt, including the Israelites. But God provided a way out for the Israelites. This way out is called “the Passover.”
The Passover was God’s way to protect His people. God made provision for the Israelites in the wake of the death of the firstborn plague by allowing for a substitute in the form of an unblemished lamb. The Israelites were instructed to slaughter an unblemished lamb from their flock and mark their doorposts with their blood. God said when He delivers the tenth plague, if He finds blood on a household’s doorposts He will pass over their firstborn, accepting the sacrifice of the slaughtered lamb; and that is exactly what happened. Soon after this final plague, Pharaoh released the Israelites from captivity – God had liberated His people!
What a story! It seems like this powerful of a story wouldn’t be forgotten, but the Israelites often forgot the mighty works of God for their deliverance, not only deliverance for their firstborn but also deliverance from captivity. Here, Moses is calling the Israelites to remember when and how God delivered them. This remembrance shouldn’t just occur once, but every time the month of Aviv rolled around the Israelites were to remember the provision and deliverance He provided.
Our deliverance may not have involved the slaughter of an unblemished lamb, or the release from slavery to an oppressive King. But our deliverance does involve the slaughter of an unblemished man, and our release from slavery to an oppressive adversary. Jesus, our Passover lamb (1 Corinthians 5:7), was unjustly slaughtered on a cross for our sin, and the good news is that if we put our faith in this provision from God, God will pass over our sins, accepting the sacrifice of His Son in our place, just as he did for those firstborn Israelites in Egypt.
Moses calls the Israelites to consistently remember when and how they were saved and brought forth from death and captivity. We too should often come back to when and how God brought us from death and captivity to life and freedom through Christ!
- Why is it good to remember when and how God brought the Israelites from death and captivity to life and freedom through Christ? Why does Moses call the Israelites to consistently come back to that reality?
- When and how did God bring you from death and captivity to life and freedom through Christ? If you haven’t put your faith in Christ’s sacrifice in your place, what continues to hold you back? Sin must be and will be punished, consider accepting that Jesus took the punishment of your sin for you to save and free you.
- What ways can you consistently come back to and remember God’s provision in and for your life? Consider sharing your faith story with a friend, coworker, or stranger to both tell others and remind yourself of God’s grace in your life.
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