The Passover before, during, and after, the exile.
Sung Psalm 42:1-5 (Psalmist is exiled from temple)
Reading Ezra 6:13-22
After the return of many from the Babylonian captivity and the rebuilding of the temple, albeit on a much smaller scale, it was dedicated and shortly thereafter a great Passover was celebrated, though the numbers attending and the number of sacrifices was a fraction of that in Solomon’s day. We believe there were no Passover celebrations in Babylon.
They had to be without blemish and roasted.
Isaiah 30:29 going back to the days of Hezekiah suggests a Passover celebration on the occasion of the decimation of the Assyrian army by the angel of death at night during the full moon (middle of month). 185,000 enemy were killed.
Ezekiel 45:21-24 (in captivity). The prince provides all the sacrifices (which is irregular) and they differ from what is prescribed in Numbers 28:19-22. The interpretation is that this is prophetic of the abrogation of the ceremonial Mosaic law and the coming of the New Testament age with the church as the new temple.
Sung Ps.132:1-9 (A pilgrim Psalm mentioning the ark)
Reading II Chron.35:1-19 (v18 ark)
Passover was the chief feast of the ceremonial law, the first to be celebrated, the first in order during the year and the last one ever kept 9BY Christ and the disciples).
Vv1-6 exhortation of Josiah to priests and Levites
Vv7-9 Gift of offerings
Vv10-19 Celebration of Passover
Ranked in order of greatness the Passovers after entry to the promised land were:
- Under Samuel *2
- Under Josiah (Judah only) *4
- Under Solomon *1
- Under Hezekiah (United Kingdom) *3
*Estimated rank of numbers
Why was Josiah’s so great?
Probable reasons: It reflected s real reformation of religion, it was done according to earlier revelation (Scripture), it was at the temple which was cleansed, the numbers of sacrifices were 37,600 lambs, it was well prepared (vv4,6,10,16), there were no irregularities (as when Hezekiah’s was done suddenly and many were unclean), significant preceding events (Hezekiah had temple reopened after wicked Ahaz had closed it; with Josiah book of law found….yet for all that Jer.3:6 suggests many of the people were pretending loyalty to Jehovah.
The Passover during the Monarchy
Sung Psalm 120 (pilgrim psalm)
Reading II Chronicles 30
- King Saul’s reign (40 years)-no record of any Passovers.
- King David (40)-brought up ark, instituted public worship. Prepared for temple, but again no record although you would surmise it was being kept.
- King Solomon (40). Built temple, prosperous reign, extensive united kingdom.
We know in his reign initially it was kept at Gibeon (II Chron. 1) then at Jerusalem (II Chron. 8:12-16). But he fell into polygamy and idolatry (I Kings 11:1-13) and as a result the kingdom (representing the church in those days) was divided.
Review Northern Kingdom-Jeroboam till Hoshea (prophet Hosea)
Southern Kingdom-Rehoboam till Hezekiah (finally till Zedekiah)
Chapter outline: verses 2-5 plan (synod)
23-27 additional feast
- Second month (see Num.9:11) because temple not cleansed (29:17,18), previous king Ahaz closed it and was idolatrous (28:24,25), priests not sanctified, people not gathered.
- Levites killed animals instead of heads of houses (Ex.12:6)
- People actually ceremonially unclean (v18) but the spiritual trumped the ceremonial! (cf I Cor.11:30). Hezekiah interceded.
- Another seven days celebrated (like Solomon in I Kings 8:65)
- Teaching (v22)
What made it so great a Passover? Ideas: Number of people, number of sacrifices, length of feast, gladness, Psalms, teaching, exemplary king and church leaders.
Joshua to monarchy
Sung Psalm 78:55-60 (note v 60 Shiloh)
Reading I Sam.1:1-21
It is reckoned 280,000 men had been circumcised before or at the first Passover in Egypt (now at the edge of Canaan all aged 38 or over) which left 720,000 under age 38 and born in the wilderness, needing circumcised at Gilgal.
Do we reckon the Passover was kept in the time of Joshua or the judges?
Hos.9:15 would suggest not for several reasons:
- The idolatry of the people (The idols of Ur and Egypt Josh 24:14)
- The choice of Saul (rejecting God as king) and his foolish behaviour with Amalek.
- All the reprobate at the time of Joshua.
But Judges 2:7 suggests they did keep it even though that period was characterized by idolatry and defeat by their enemies followed by the raising up of judges to liberate them.
II Kings 23:22 mentions a great Passover unsurpassed SINCE the judges.
I Samuel 1 descibes Elkanah and his two wives going up to Shiloh for a great pilgrimage feast and Elkanah was a Levite (Kohathite) I Chron.6:35.
From Judges 21:19 and Joshua 18:1 we learn that Shiloh was the place where the tabernacle was set up and hence the destination for the Passover pilgrimage for hundreds of years till Jerusalem in the time of David.
But Shiloh fell eventually to the Philistines who carted away the ark (Jer.7:12-14, 26: 6,9, Psalm 78:60).
So when and where was this great Passover in the time of the judges?
We can narrow it down to the time of the last and greatest judge Samuel who was also a prophet (greatest since Moses), a Levite and Nazarite, a kingmaker and brought up in the tabernacle by Eli. It must have taken place at Shiloh before the ark was taken and Eli’s sons killed and during Saul’s time before his death with Jonathan, during which time it changed hands several times between Israel and the Philistines.
How was it reckoned to be a great Passover? Numbers of pilgrims or sacrifices? Depth of devotion? Presence of a godly King? We don’t know.
Sung Psalm 114 (note ref to Jordan Crossing v3)
Read Joshua 5
Some other references to Passover in Pentateuch were checked Ex.34:23,25, Num. 33:3 and Deut. 16 (repeats).
Key N.T. refs. are I Cor.5:7 and Heb.11:28. Note that keeping the Passover was by faith (obedience to word of God to do an otherwise foolish-looking thing).
Joshua was courageous by keeping God’s law (Josh.1:8,9)
We come to Gilgal, the third Passover, after the first in Egypt and second at Mt. Sinai. Circumcision was mandatory so we have perhaps the largest mass circumcision ever with upwards of 600,000 males taking part, perhaps as many as a million (Josh.5:2 c.f. Ex.12:44).
Why had there been no circumcisions in the wilderness? We know that there was idolatry in the camp (Amos 5:25,26, Acts 7:43). Was there any piety? Yes (Jer.2:2,3).
Note the two sacraments together, one signifying entry into the covenant community and the other of keeping the covenant. Today we have the N.T. equivalents namely baptism and Lord’s Supper (conjoined in I Cor.10:2).
At the end of the chapter Joshua is commissioned by Christ appearing as a Christophany very similar to Moses at the burning bush.
Sung Psalm 34:16-22
Read Numbers 9:1-14
This is the third repetition of the command to keep the Passover (first Ex.12, second Lev.23:4-5).
The date 14/1/1 when they left Egypt in the Exodus.
Second Passover was in wilderness of Sinai 14/1/2 with a number of differences e.g. no houses, no blood on door posts. We reckon they kept it in their tents. Where did they get bread or grain to make it? Perhaps bought, perhaps plundered, perhaps brought out of Egypt.
This second Passover took place in two groups. First the vast majority and then a month later (14/2/2) for the men defiled by a dead body who would have needed at least one week to become ceremonially clean.
The Tabernacle was erected 1/1/2 so just a fortnight before and the priests consecrated (Lev.8).
First numbering of people 1/2/2 (Numbers 1).
According to my reckoning Sinai and the giving of the Law was 1/3/1.
Failing to keep the Passover (v13) was the equivalent of church excommunication. We were unsure if it mandated the death penalty or just being put completely out of the camp. Foreigners could partake as long as they were circumcised (typifying the entrance of Gentiles into the church).
Sung Psalm 34:16-22 (note ref to bones)
Reading Ex.12:1-14, 21-28, 43-51.
Here we have the details of Passover/Feast of Unleavened Bread:
The date: Abib 10th select animal, sacrifice 14th, feast of unleavened bread 14-21, use hyssop to sprinkle/paint blood (c.f. Ps.51), meal in house with family, roast lamb (fire of God’s wrath), a sacrifice (Ex.23:17-18), unleavened bread (sinless Saviour), bitter herbs (Egyptian slavery), be ready for children’s questions, circumcision essential (strangers) (NT church baptism/membership), no broken bone (John 19:33, 36, Ps.34:20).
Deut.16:1-8 repeated plus possibility of bullock being used (herd) part of feast of unleavened bread (Num.28:17-19).
Development/change: change of place (not a house but a city i.e. Jerusalem, national, solemn, priests in charge, an altar, one of three pilgrimage feasts which every male should attend.
Passover in Josiah II Chron. 35:1,7-9,17
Sung Psalm 114:1-8 (note Exodus theme)
Reading Exodus 12:1-28
The Jewish Feasts
- Weekly Sabbath
- Monthly New Moons
- Annually pilgrimage: Passover, Pentecost, Tabernacles.
- Other annual: Day of Atonement, Blowing of Trumpets
- Later: Purim (Esther), Dedication (Hanukkah-2nd century B.C.)
Significance of Passover
- First historically
- First in calendar
- Related to ten plagues and Exodus from Egypt i.e. redemption
- Trialled by other institutions viz. feast of unleavened bread and dedication of firstborn.
- Movable (sometimes in next month e.g.Num.9)
- Most mentioned feast in all of Scripture
- Helps determine Christ’s ministry timetable (he attended three Passovers during his ministry)
- Leads to second sacrament (Lord’s Supper)
- Reveals nature of the cross
- In Exodus 12 and 13 the number of verses allocated to each of the three aspects of the feast reflects the importance of each: Passover 31, unleavened bread 16, firstborn 6.
- Passover has much to teach us about what it typifies viz. Christ our Passover.