What’s the Hurry?: Reflections on the Element of Haste in the Passover Celebration

By Austin Roscoe Published on April 28, 2024

“Hurry up, kids! Get dressed and ready to go!”

“Where are we going, dad?”

“John, put your shoes on. Mary, grab your purse.”

“Ok. Ok. But dad, where are we going?”

“Good. Now everyone, get to the dining room. It’s time to eat.”

Happy Passover!

Last Monday night began the seven days of Pesach, the Hebrew name for Passover. It was during this week more than 3,000 years ago that God delivered His people out of slavery in Egypt.

As Christians, we know that the Exodus story, and most importantly the Passover aspect of it, was a type and shadow of what Christ would later do for all people at Calvary: Moses led the Jewish people out of bondage to Pharaoh. Christ leads us out of bondage to sin. The Passover lamb’s blood on the doorways of the Hebrew slaves’ houses kept them safe from the angel of death that passed through Egypt. Christ’s blood applied to our spirits keeps us safe from the Second Death.

It was the Passover seder that Jesus ate with His disciples during the Last Supper — when He broke the matzah (unleavened bread) and passed the wine of the first communion. It was on the Friday of that Passover week when Jesus hung on the cross, Saturday (Shabbat) when He lay in the tomb, and Sunday when He defeated death by rising again.

No Time to Let the Dough Rise

This week, as I read through the Passover story (Exodus 4:18–14:31) with a friend, we began to reflect on the element of haste in the Exodus.

The Hebrews were told to slaughter a spotless lamb, then put its blood on the door frames of their houses. They were to roast the lamb over a fire and eat the meat that night. In Exodus 12:11, they were commanded, “You are to eat it this way: with your loins girded, your shoes on your feet and your staff in your hand. You are to eat it in haste. It is ADONAI’s Passover” (TLV). (Some scholars interpret that to mean they actually ate it while standing up.)

After the plague of death, the children of Israel were “thrust” from Egypt; in his great grief and anguish, the same Pharaoh who had refused through nine plagues to let God’s people go was suddenly all too happy to get rid of them. The Bible tells us they didn’t even have time to let their dough rise! And thus, the Lord made it a sacred, eternal ordinance for His children to have no leaven during Passover.

Religious Jewish families take the task of removing leaven from their households at this time very seriously; in fact, it’s the tradition that birthed the whole concept of “spring cleaning.” Mandie Greenberg over at the Tree of Life Bible Society shares her childhood experience:

“Every surface of the home is cleaned, swept, and cleared of hametz [leaven] with a severity that can often resemble pest extermination, or at least that’s what it felt like in our house growing up. The militaristic discipline of crumb control, feverish consumption of all leavened food, and intense inspection of every new food item that entered the house from the beginning of Aviv until Pesach was always memorable in the Greenberg house!”

If Passover is so full of symbolism and foreshadowing the coming Jesus and life under the New Covenant, then what are we to make of the haste? And how can we commemorate this removal of leaven?

A Little Leaven

In the New Testament, we read that the Corinthian believers had been allowing a man to fellowship with them though he was unrepentantly sleeping with his father’s wife! Paul wrote a letter to say that they should not have allowed him to stay in their midst.

Don’t you know that a little hametz leavens the whole batch of dough? Get rid of the old hametz, so you may be a new batch, just as you are unleavened — for Messiah, our Passover Lamb, has been sacrificed. Therefore let us celebrate the feast not with old hametz, the hametz of malice and wickedness, but with unleavened bread — the matzah of sincerity and truth. (1 Corinthians 5:6-8 TLV)

Elsewhere, Jesus warns his disciples to “beware of the hametz of the Pharisees and Sadducees” (Matthew 16:11 TLV).

So this leaven, then, is sin — the thoughts, attitudes, and mindsets that corrupt the spirit.

But what are we to make of the haste?

Take Every Thought Captive

In a subsequent letter to the same church in Corinth, Paul speaks of “taking every thought captive to the obedience of Messiah” (2 Corinthians 10:5 TLV).

This word “captive” comes from the Greek word for “prisoner of war.” As I’ve heard it taught, this phrase could be understood as finding an intruder in your camp and holding him at spearpoint until you know what to do with them. In a modern context, it might look like a SWAT team clearing a room with guns drawn, and using zip ties to subdue any perceived enemy combatants.

This same severity is what we are to use to judge the thoughts and temptations that enter our minds. If it does not glorify God, it does not belong in our lives.

The Israelites left Egypt in haste; therefore, we should clear out worldliness from our own lives in earnest.

In this week’s episode of Conversations With Christians Engaged, Stream contributors Shane Idleman and Bunni Pounds discuss how personal and corporate moves of God require some cleaning out before they take place — repenting and turning away from sin, realigning our hearts and affections toward God.

“There’s something that happens,” Pounds says, “when we turn our affection away from the things that hold our affection every day — whether that’s entertainment, food, work — and we focus on the Lord. Really, it just opens up our ears to hear from the Lord.”

As Idleman puts it, “You desire what you’re feeding on. If you’re feeding on the world, you’re going to desire the things of the world. You’re not going to want to go to church. But if you’re feeding on the things of God, you wake up with that same passion.”

This Passover, let us remember how our Passover Lamb has delivered us from sin and certain death, feast on His Word, and flee from anything that would hold us back from wholehearted devotion to Him.

 

Austin Roscoe is The Stream’s webmaster.

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