God has, after He led the Israelites out of Egypt, instituted holy days. They are the Lord's festive days. They were originally given to the Israelites but they are and remain the Lord's festive days.
When we study these days carefully, they are not only useful for gathering extra information on how Israel had to deal with God's commandments, but also have a prophetic content. When we study these days we see that God's plan for this world, with man, is being explained through those days. That is what makes this a really interesting Bible study.
It is not only about "history but it is about "His story".
It is advisable first to read the whole chapter on those holy days which can be found in Leviticus 23.
The weekly Sabbath, the first holy day
When the Lord made the festive days known to the Israelites, delivered through Moses, He started with a holy day which is so important that it should be celebrated every week.
"The LORD said to Moses, "Speak to the Israelites and say to them: 'These are my appointed feasts, the appointed feasts of the LORD, which you are to proclaim as sacred assemblies."
The Sabbath is a weekly holy day (feast) which has been instituted by the Lord. It is His day (Exodus 20:8-11)
It is a day especially meant to remember the Lord. Particularly on that day one should reflect on the greatness of the Lord (Exodus 20:11)
The day of the Sabbath is a day that looks back on the magnificent wonderful creation . On that day the people can get exited about the greatness of their God Who created all they see. The visible part of creation is not the most important. It is all about the Creator. It is about Him, who has changed the chaotic confusion into a world in which he could say all was well, by the power of His Word.
But the day of Sabbath is not only a day which looks back on the wonderful power of creation by the Lord, but most of all is a day which looks to the future. All the feasts of God are ones which are being used by God to reveal His great plan. They are thus referring feasts. It is like that with the Sabbath.
The weekly Sabbath refers to an eternal peace which will follow the creation of a new heaven and a new earth. God will make all things new.
"1 Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea. 2 I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. 3 And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, "Now the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. 4 He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away." 5 He who was seated on the throne said, "I am making everything new!" Then he said, "Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true."
The Lord by way of the commandment of the Sabbath connects the creation of God, thousands of years ago, with the creation as mentioned in Revelation 21.
This feast today is also applicable to all who know they have and will take part in Gods plans.
There is a special Bible study on the Sabbath available, especially dealing with the link Sabbath-Sunday.
The 7 feasts which we will study after this tell about the plans of God with His people: Israel.
They also give a view into Gods acting with the believers who together make up the congregation of Jesus.
The Sabbath is a weekly feast which remembers: how it used to be but also points out how it will be.
How it used to be at the time of creation and how it will be at the recreation: experiencing Gods peace.
"9 There remains, then, a Sabbath-rest for the people of God; 10 for anyone who enters God's rest also rests from his own work, just as God did from his."
The Sabbath is an "all covering" feast.
The 7 other feasts will give steps which will leads Gods chosen to go into His peace.
We will now discuss them.
THE PASSOVER, the second feast
"5 The LORD's Passover begins at twilight on the fourteenth day of the first month."
The actual inauguration of this feast happened before the one mentioned here.
Exodus 12:1-28 (please read for yourself in the Bible)
2 "This month is to be for you the first month, the first month of your year."
Here it is not mentioned which month this is about but from other parts in the Bible we know it is the month of Abib (compare Exodus 13:4; 23:15; 34:18)
The month of Abib in our calendar is approximately March/April.
During the time after the exile that month got the name Nissan.
From the departure out of Egypt onwards, this month is being designated as the first month of the year. With this, God put the yearly feast of Pesach (Passover) in the first place of all holy days.
Of course this has a special meaning.
Passover is a feast which looks back on the passing by of the angel of death.
The Hebrew word PESACH means "passing by".
All those who had slaughtered a sheep or goat and applied the blood on both the doorposts and the upper doorsill will be spared by that sign for the destructive plague which the Lord let run over the land of Egypt.
So the animal was killed instead of the firstborn in that house. The blood was the sign that an animal was killed instead. A sign is a referral. This sign was not about the blood on the doorposts being sufficient enough for the angel of destruction. It was not about the outward appearance of the ritual but about the referring character of that blood.
The blood at the doorposts marked the sacrificed animal that was killed instead of the firstborn. But the signifying character if the blood refers also to the sacrifice that was made on the cross of Golgotha. There the Lamb of Passover was sacrificed for us.
"... the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!"
1 Corrinthians 5:7b
"For Christ, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed."
Now that we have come to this conclusion we are not quite finished yet. There is still more to say bout Passover. For example the date on which this should be celebrated.
"The animals you choose must be year-old males without defect, and you may take them from the sheep or the goats. Take care of them until the fourteenth day of the month, when all the people of the community of Israel must slaughter them at twilight."
This we already saw before:
"The LORD's Passover begins at twilight on the fourteenth day of the first month."
Passover therefore is always on the 14th of the month of Nissan. The Jews have been celebrating it on this day for about 3400 years. Why did God choose this day to be the one the lamb should be sacrificed?
The answer is hidden in the question itself.
God has established this day once and for all because on that day "The Lamb" would be sacrificed.
But it was not only that day that was fixed, also the time was being defined:
...in the twilight...
At first glance this does not appear to be so important but we shall see that God had also an intention with this. To get more insight we first have to see how the days pass with the Jews, from the past until the present day, and when exactly is the "twilight time." Starting from creation God has implemented the days from evening until the following evening (Leviticus 23:32b)" Then it was evening and morning, the first day, second day and so on".
For Jews until today a new day starts in the evening.
The 14th of Nissan thus started in the evening of the 13th and went on until the evening of the 15th. Before we elaborate more, something about the word "evening twilight". Literally in Hebrew it says: "between the evenings". The Jews do not only distinguish the different parts of the day with the designated hours but also talk about the 1st evening, 2nd evening etc. The first evening matches the Jewish 9th hour which in our time frame is 1500 hours. The second evening matches our time at 1800 hours. The evening sacrifice was done at the 9th hour, so on the first evening.
Why now is this important?
Well, the Passover (Pesach) had a referring aspect, it was a foreshadowing of the great sacrifice. It was a pre-shadow of the dying of the Lamb, which was sacrificed on our behalf because His blood, which we confess that it was shed for us, is seen by Him on the doorposts of our heart and the angel of death will pass by and we will not die an eternal death but live eternally.
In the sign of Passover we see Gods magnificence and His great love for us.
But also from the accuracy of the use of the foreshadowing Passover and Jesus' sacrifice as the actual Passover we can learn something about God.
God gave rather accurate clues as to how Passover should be celebrated.
In exactly this way He executes His plans where it concerns the great Passover, the Passover whereby the Lamb is being sacrificed.
"Now the Feast of Unleavened Bread, called the Passover, was approaching, and the chief priests and the teachers of the law were looking for some way to get rid of Jesus, for they were afraid of the people."
"Then came the day of Unleavened Bread on which the Passover lamb had to be sacrificed. Jesus sent Peter and John, saying, "Go and make preparations for us to eat the Passover.""
The Passover which is still being celebrated on the 14th of Nissan was about to come and the high priests and scribes were looking for a way to kill Jesus (The Lamb). This in fact is what God said 1400 years before in a foreshadowing sign "an unblemished male one year old lamb should you take...."
The high priests and scribes were busy taking this Lamb to slaughter it and they did so when the feast of unleavened bread, also called Pascha, came close (we will discuss this feast later on).
Jesus also obeyed God's commandment and intended to celebrate Passover. For this reason He sent two disciples to prepare the (symbolic) Passover.
"When the hour came, Jesus and his apostles reclined at the table. And he said to them, "I have eagerly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer."
Which hour was this?
It was the hour that the new day began, the 14th of Nissan, the day of Passover. Thus that day started in the evening after sundown and went on to the next evening. Jesus was handed over and killed exactly on the day of Passover. This day was already fixed by God 1400 years earlier, as the day the Lamb should be and would be sacrificed.
With the designating of the Passover, as we can read from Exodus 12, it was decided that the small cattle (lamb) should be slaughtered on the 14th of Nissan between the 2 evenings. The Lamb should be killed between 1500 and 1800 hours in our time frame.
This is during the afternoon following the evening on which the 14th starts.
Jesus celebrates the Passover with His disciples right at the start of the fourteenth. In the night He was handed over. In the morning He came before Pilate. He was crucified but he did not die immediately. First it became dark for three hours.
"It was now about the sixth hour (in our time frame 12.00), and darkness came over the whole land until the ninth hour(in our time frame 15.00), for the sun stopped shining. And the curtain of the temple was torn in two."
"Jesus called out with a loud voice, "Father, into your hands I commit my spirit." When he had said this, he breathed his last." Luke 23:46.
The Lamb that died in our place, so His blood to God was a sign for the angel of death to pass us by. That Lamb, Jesus, died exactly at the time which God had determined 1400 years earlier as the time the Passover Lamb should be killed.
God accurately kept to the day and the hour on which the Passover should occur. Shall He then not also keep in line with the rest of the foreshadowing Passover? He will literally keep His promise that the angel of death will pass by where blood can be seen. This is a great certainty.
The Cedar Evening
You probably have noticed that something is not really correct. Exodus talks about celebrating the Passover after the slaughter of the lamb and in Luke we read that Jesus celebrates Passover before the lamb was slaughtered. Perhaps you say, that makes sense because He could hardly celebrate Passover after His death. That of course is true but nowhere we read that someone was surprised about the fact that Jesus celebrated Passover with His disciples before the actual Passover.
The celebration of Passover, as it was done in the days of Jesus, was no longer exactly as God had directed originally. Something had been added. A celebration was added, which was not offered in Exodus and Leviticus. The newly added celebration was that of Cedar Evening, as the Jews called it. The celebration of this family feast, this Cedar Evening, began after the return from the Babylonian exile. At first it was a feast which was celebrated next to the original feast, with the slaughtering of the Lambs.
After the destruction of the temple, only the Cedar Evening feast is being celebrated until the present day. This feast, this Cedar Evening, was also the feast the Lord celebrated before His death. From history, as well as from the Bible, we know that this feast is celebrated the same way now as it was 2000 years ago.
In the month of Nissan, when the 14th day starts, that is on the evening of the day of the 13th of Nissan, people usually as a family come together to celebrate the Cedar Evening. On that evening the head of the family takes 3 matzes (unleavened bread) and puts them on top of each other.
At a certain moment he takes the middle one and pulls it out from the others. This middle matze is then being broken after which it is being wrapped in a linen cloth and hidden somewhere in the house. The father tells the children to go and find that piece. The children then find that piece wrapped in linen cloth and bring it to their father. Father promises them a present and tells them also they will get that gift not later than on the 50th day (of the feast of weeks), that is on the well-known Feast of Pentecost.
They also drink cups of wine and eat bitter herbs and there is singing of praise songs. The rest of the evening, with some families even until the morning, tales about the departure from Egypt and God's supernatural dealing with the people of Israel are being told.
The fixing and celebration of this Cedar Feast cannot be found in the Bible. It is no institution from God laid down in the Bible but from the large symbolism which comes from this celebration it is probably something God had wanted. Jesus also sees no problems in celebrating the feast this way.
Even more so, He explained to His disciples what the actual meaning was of the broken bread and the passing of the cup of wine. Jesus took the middle piece of bread because that was the custom, it was done so for ages and He broke it. But then it looks like he deviates from the usual ritual because then he gives the broken bread to His disciples and says:" This is My body which is being given for you".
Jesus thus says that the middle matze, which is being pulled out of the other two and broken, is the symbol which points to Him. The three matzes are on top of each other, the middle one depicts Jesus. It is not hard to see the Father and Holy Ghost in the other two. Jesus was being broken and wrapped in linen cloth, anyone who seeks Him shall find Him.
The disciples knew of the Cedar Feast and understood later, when Jesus was resurrected, the meaning of what Jesus had said at the institution of the Last Supper. When Jesus later, during the time that he appeared to them for 40 days, told them not to leave Jerusalem but wait for the promise of the Father, they knew that this promise would be fulfilled not later than on the 50th day. That is why they all came together on Pentecost.
"On one occasion, while he was eating with them, he gave them this command: "Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift my Father promised, which you have heard me speak about. For John baptised with water, but in a few days you will be baptised with the Holy Spirit.""
Acts 2:1 en 4
"When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place. ... All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit..."
The disciples should have understood that on that day the gift or present would come which the Father had promised. Because they knew the customs which had to do with celebrating Cedar Evening, they understood that, after the middle matze was broken and wrapped in cloth, it would be hidden. Without a doubt Jesus showed them that this referred to Him being broken and wrapped in linen clothes and out in the grave.
When they later went to the grave they did not find Him but Jesus let them find Him and appeared to many. The logical result of this is that the Father promises to give a present, a gift that ultimately will be given on "the 50th day." Jesus had told the disciples already what this gift would be. It is the gift of the Holy Spirit.
That 50th day was the day of Pentecost (Pentecost is derived from the Greek word pentecoste which means fiftieth).
They knew the promised gift of the father would be given on that day at the latest -- that is why they were assembled there together. What great symbolism.
What a great God who controls everything. All is happening the way He has decided. Ages pass but what God is planning will happen.
1400 years before Christ came to this earth to be the real sacrificial Lamb, God had already planned it all and demonstrated in the feasts what His plans were with the people. Then it suddenly happened. Jesus came and was sacrificed for our sake but it did not stop there. The Passover is an introduction to the seven days during feast of unleavened bread. But also of the feast of weeks which has to do with the "gift of the firstborn."
Passover does not stand alone. It belongs to the following feast. Strictly speaking the following feasts have no meaning without the Passover.
We will discuss the following feasts and also the link between these celebrations.
The Feast of Unleavened Bread, The third feast
"On the fifteenth day of that month (Nisan - the day after Pesach) the LORD's Feast of Unleavened Bread begins; for seven days you must eat bread made without yeast. On the first day hold a sacred assembly and do no regular work. For seven days present an offering made to the LORD by fire. And on the seventh day hold a sacred assembly and do no regular work.'""
This feast follows directly after the Passover.
The 14th of Nissan is the Passover; the 15th of Nissan is the first day of the feast of unleavened bred. It also happened that the whole day 8 period was called "Passover" as we can read in Luke.
"Now the Feast of Unleavened Bread, called the Passover, was approaching,"
But also the opposite happened. They counted from the day the Passover (Lamb) was sacrificed until the first day of the feast of unleavened bread.
"On the first day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread, when it was customary to sacrifice the Passover lamb, Jesus' disciples asked him, "Where do you want us to go and make preparations for you to eat the Passover?""
For centuries they had celebrated these feasts, always starting on the 14th of Nissan up to and including the 21st. These days always belonged together, together in meaning. It also makes sense that in the day to day language of the time the names of these feasts were mixed. But it was not originally so as instructed by God. Very clearly the Lord designated the 14th of Nissan for the Passover and the 15th of Nissan as the start of the feast of the unleavened bread.
The feasts that God initiated, and that people should keep, are not feasts for the people
"These are the LORD's appointed feasts, the sacred assemblies you are to proclaim at their appointed times:"
verse 3b ".... it is a Sabbath to the LORD...."
verse 5b ".... The LORD's Passover "
verse 6 ".... the LORD's Feast of Unleavened Bread "
The festive days of the Lord are for the Lord Himself. Has God turned into another God after Jesus came to earth?
May we Christians say that we do not wish to celebrate these feasts for the Lord? Or that they are only for the Israelites?
Something may be said to that effect but on the other hand it is a fact that we Christians have copied particular feasts. We do keep to Sundays! (As it is a Sabbath).
And we also celebrate Passover!
At which periods in time we then celebrate these?
Do we celebrate them "at the appropriate time"?
Do we celebrate at the time which God said they had to be celebrated?
The Sabbath on the 7th day?
The Passover at the 14th of Nissan? We don't even know of the feast of unleavened bread! Let us ask ourselves if it is right that we Christians handle the Bible in such a way, with Gods will clearly before us.
When we ask ourselves do we have to do this all, if we want to give an honest answer to ourselves and to God, get to know more about the feasts which He designated. That is why we now continue, studying the feast of unleavened bread.
This feast should always be held at the 15th of Nissan. The first day of the feast is always a special festive day, a Sabbath. This does not mean that it is a Saturday but that it is a resting day, a day set aside for the Lord.
In this way it can happen that this special Sabbath day can fall on any particular day of the week. This is a very interesting issue. In the Christian theology it is always said that Jesus died on a Friday because the next day was Sabbath but if we now see that the day after Passover is always a day of Sabbath, then it will be clear that the death of Jesus, when seen in this light, may have happened on any of the days of the week.
As with the Passover, the institution of the feast of unleavened bread can be found in Exodus 12.
"For seven days you are to eat bread made without yeast. On the first day remove the yeast from your houses, for whoever eats anything with yeast in it from the first day until the seventh must be cut off from Israel. On the first day hold a sacred assembly, and another one on the seventh day. Do no work at all on these days, except to prepare food for everyone to eat--that is all you may do. "Celebrate the Feast of Unleavened Bread, because it was on this very day that I brought your divisions out of Egypt. Celebrate this day as a lasting ordinance for the generations to come.
In the first month you are to eat bread made without yeast, from the evening of the fourteenth day until the evening of the twenty-first day. For seven days no yeast is to be found in your houses. And whoever eats anything with yeast in it must be cut off from the community of Israel, whether he is an alien or native-born. Eat nothing made with yeast. Wherever you live, you must eat unleavened bread.""
"For seven days you are to eat bread made without yeast. On the first day remove the yeast from your houses, for whoever eats anything with yeast in it from the first day until the seventh must be cut off from Israel. On the first day hold a sacred assembly, and another one on the seventh day. Do no work at all on these days, except to prepare food for everyone to eat--that is all you may do. "Celebrate the Feast of Unleavened Bread, because it was on this very day that I brought your divisions out of Egypt. Celebrate this day as a lasting ordinance for the generations to come. In the first month you are to eat bread made without yeast, from the evening of the fourteenth day until the evening of the twenty-first day. For seven days no yeast is to be found in your houses. And whoever eats anything with yeast in it must be cut off from the community of Israel, whether he is an alien or native-born. Eat nothing made with yeast. Wherever you live, you must eat unleavened bread."" Exodus 12:15-20, NIV.
"Eat nothing made with yeast!"
These are rather heavy commandments.
Why was this now so important? If we reflect on this we first should realize that God's festive days have been arranged by the Lord with a purpose, and for eternity. So because they were intended to be eternal, it is obvious that the purpose of these feasts goes beyond the direct link to the exodus from Egypt.
In other words: the feast of unleavened bread was not instituted mainly because Israel was led out of Egypt by the Lord, rather the feast was created to make God's plans for the destiny of His people for generation after generation. That what the feasts are all about. God wanted to make His plans known to the people by way of the feasts.
We have already seen that Passover has everything to do with "the Lamb." The word Pesach/Passover means pass by.
After the Lamb had been sacrificed, the Israelites had to believe that the blood of the Lamb had power. The blood had to applied to the doorposts otherwise the firstborn would die. When the angel, who got orders from God to execute judgment, saw the blood, he would pass by that house. The sacrificed lamb died instead of those who were in that house. A clearer picture of what the sacrifice of the Passover Lamb means is almost impossible. Jesus died for us.
The result being that judgment passed us by when we acknowledge the power of the blood and "apply it to the doorposts of our heart." Jesus, our Passover Lamb, died for our sake, just like the Pesach lamb which was slaughtered instead of the Israelites.
Following immediately after the Passover is the feast of unleavened bread. The Passover Lamb was slaughtered between 1500 and 1800 on the 14th of Nissan.
After 1800 hours it became dark, the sun went down and the following day started, the 15th of Nissan. That is the day when the feast of unleavened bread starts. So the same night, right after the slaughter if the lamb, all leavened dough was supposed to be removed from the houses.
As we have already seen this was a commandment which had such power that there was a penalty of death if it was not kept.
Did God really dislike leavened dough? Or is this an image of something God doesn't want us to use?
Paul explains what sour dough means:1 Corrinthians 5:6-8
"Don't you know that a little yeast works through the whole batch of dough? Get rid of the old yeast that you may be a new batch without yeast--as you really are. For Christ, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed. Therefore let us keep the Festival, not with the old yeast, the yeast of malice and wickedness, but with bread without yeast, the bread of sincerity and truth."
Leavened dough is an image of sin and wickedness. The leavened dough had to be removed from the houses of the Israelites right after the Passover. When we follow that image through spiritually, it means that, straight after accepting the sacrifice of Jesus, everything which was sin and related with the old life (without God) had to be removed. Not for a short while but for ever. The number 7 depicts a fullness of time. The feasts lasted for seven days.
We have to choose if we want to get behind the blood of Jesus, like the Israelites had to stay behind the doorposts with the blood of the lamb. As a result of this we have to leave all that is wickedness behind. We have to do this ourselves, very consciously. Then God will lead us "out of Egypt."
"Celebrate the Feast of Unleavened Bread, because it was on this very day that I brought your divisions out of Egypt. Celebrate this day as a lasting ordinance for the generations to come."
We cannot leave it at Passover alone. We cannot only accept the sacrifice of the Lamb and then stop. We have to let us being lead out of "Egypt of the world". By the blood of the Lamb and accepting that blood as being shed for us (this is faith), we are justified.
Becoming holy should then follow.
"Make every effort to live in peace with all men and to be holy; without holiness no-one will see the Lord."
Without becoming holy, we will not see the Lord. When the sour dough is not removed from our lives and thus makes us holy before God, we shall not see God. In Israel there was literally a death penalty put on finding sour dough in a house. Sour dough, meaning sin and wickedness, should not be found with a Christian. This is also punishable by death, not the actual death of dying as we know it but eternal death.
Doing away with sin is a process.
At our conversion and accepting the sacrifice of Jesus we knowingly take the decision turning ourselves away from all that has to do with sin. Every act and thought, of which we know it is sin, has to be removed from our lives. We ask the Lord to show us all spots where there is "leavened dough". He is faithful to show us every spot in our lives, our heart, where there still is "leavened dough". Every time the Lord points one out to us we should get rid of that "leavened dough" in our lives. Thus we are going to look more like Him, Who loves us and He gave Himself for us unto death.
When the Israelites departed from the land of Egypt, they entered a period of total dependence on the Lord. They probably did not realize it but there was nothing to live on in the desert. All they needed had to come from the Lord and He did not let them want for anything. All these people, more than a million, and all those animals God supplied with food and water.
Their clothes did not ever wear out.
God also wants to provide for us.
"So do not worry, saying, 'What shall we eat?' or 'What shall we drink?' or 'What shall we wear?' For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well."
God has not changed. What He did for the people of Israel He will also do for us. He wants to take care of us. He wants us to be totally dependent on Him.
But that is not the only result from the exodus from Egypt. One, at first glance maybe less positive aspect of the departure from Egypt is: that the Pharaoh, with all his army went after the people of Israel to bring it back to Egypt.
"When the king of Egypt was told that the people had fled, Pharaoh and his officials changed their minds about them and said, "What have we done? We have let the Israelites go and have lost their services!" So he had his chariot made ready and took his army with him. He took six hundred of the best chariots, along with all the other chariots of Egypt, with officers over all of them."
Why did this happen?
The Lord had so miraculously saved Israel from the enemy. They departed from Egypt and had removed leavened dough from their houses; everything had been done as the Lord had commanded them. Why then the people still got into trouble?
The same happens to someone who has been converted, turns his back on the world and follows the Lord after everything which is sin has been removed. It also happens that the enemy, the devil and his followers, attempts you to get you back into his kingdom. How is that possible? Didn't God deliver you from the power of the enemy? Is the devil so powerful that he can take us back into his kingdom? NO! Fortunately not. But why does it still happen? Why is there this threatening attack? We can find the answer in Exodus 13 and 14. For what happened to the people of Israel had meaning for them as well as for us.
1 Corrinthians 10:6a
"...these things occurred as examples to us ....."
God very deliberately approved that attack by the Pharaoh. He even hardened his heart so that it would chase Israel.
"Then the LORD said to Moses, "Tell the Israelites to turn back and camp near Pi Hahiroth, between Migdol and the sea. They are to camp by the sea, directly opposite Baal Zephon. Pharaoh will think, 'The Israelites are wandering around the land in confusion, hemmed in by the desert.' And I will harden Pharaoh's heart, and he will pursue them."
Was it then Gods intention that the Israelites would engage in battle straight away? No, that wasn't Gods intention, otherwise God would have led them into the land of the Philistines, but He didn't do that.
"When Pharaoh let the people go, God did not lead them on the road through the Philistine country, though that was shorter. For God said, "If they face war, they might change their minds and return to Egypt."
It wasn't Gods purpose to teach the Israelites to fight when He hardened Pharaoh's heart so he would chase Israel. Why did God want Israel to be pursued by the Egyptians? God's purpose was twofold:
1) He would glorify Him self to Pharaoh and his army so they would know that He is the Lord and
2) He wanted to show the Israelites who to put their trust in. He wanted to teach them not to fear and leave all problems to Him.
"And I will harden Pharaoh's heart, and he will pursue them. But I will gain glory for myself through Pharaoh and all his army, and the Egyptians will know that I am the LORD." So the Israelites did this."
"As Pharaoh approached, the Israelites looked up, and there were the Egyptians, marching after them. They were terrified and cried out to the LORD. They said to Moses, "Was it because there were no graves in Egypt that you brought us to the desert to die? What have you done to us by bringing us out of Egypt? Didn't we say to you in Egypt, 'Leave us alone; let us serve the Egyptians'? It would have been better for us to serve the Egyptians than to die in the desert!" Moses answered the people, "Do not be afraid. Stand firm and you will see the deliverance the LORD will bring you today. The Egyptians you see today you will never see again. The LORD will fight for you; you need only to be still.""
This was really terrific for them then!
But is also as an example for us!
Only when we have to come to the Lord, when we have moved out from "Egypt," the devil will no doubt try to get us back into his kingdom by all means possible. God doesn't stop this. Even more so, the Lord hardened the heart of Pharaoh, made so by the Lord so he didn't need more of this to pursue.
But it applies to every newly converted Christian: "Do not be afraid. Stand firm and you will see the deliverance the LORD will bring you today. The Egyptians you see today you will never see again. The LORD will fight for you; you need only to be still.""
I would like to point out with emphasis that this is a message to the newly converted. It is not that the life of a Christian is one without hardship and that there is no more battle. Israel too was engaged in battle in the desert and later in the Promised Land too. But also in that place the Lord provides the solutions and says:" Fear not!"
There is a lot more to be said on that battle but that would lead us too far off the subject.
We now still continue with the discussion on the feasts. The next one is the feast of weeks.
"8 "Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. 9 Six days you shall labour and do all your work, 10 but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the LORD your God. On it you shall not do any work, neither you, nor your son or daughter, nor your manservant or maidservant, nor your animals, nor the alien within your gates. 11 For in six days the LORD made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but he rested on the seventh day. Therefore the LORD blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy."
Exodus 13:4; 23:15; 34:18
"Today, in the month of Abib, you are leaving." (Exodus 13:4, NIV) "Celebrate the Feast of Unleavened Bread; for seven days eat bread made without yeast, as I commanded you. Do this at the appointed time in the month of Abib, for in that month you came out of Egypt. "No-one is to appear before me empty-handed." (Exodus 23:15, NIV.) "Celebrate the Feast of Unleavened Bread. For seven days eat bread made without yeast, as I commanded you. Do this at the appointed time in the month of Abib, for in that month you came out of Egypt." (Exodus 34:18, NIV.)