Before it even touched the water, the Navy’s amphibious assault ship USS New York had already made history. It was built with 24 tons of scrap steel from the World Trade Center.
Steel from the World Trade Center was melted down in a foundry in Amite, La., to cast the ships bow section. When it was poured into the molds on Sept. 9, 2003, those big rough steelworkers treated it with total reverence, recalled Navy Capt. Kevin Wensing. It was a spiritual moment for everybody there. Junior Chavers, foundry operations manager, said that when the trade center steel first arrived, he touched it with his hand and, “the hair on my neck stood up.” “It had a big meaning to it for all of us,” he said. “They knocked us down. They can’t keep us down.” What’s the ships motto? “Never Forget.” That’s also the motto of today’s scripture. God never wants us to forget what He would do through the Passover.
Chapter 12 of Exodus is one of the most important chapters of this book, and perhaps one of the most important of the Old Testament. The reason is that it paints for us a picture of the human condition, and God’s plan to save mankind.
The Passover was the most significant event in Israel’s history, so significant that God used the Passover to change the very calendar of Israel and it was the first feast or remembrance of each year. Grasp the magnitude of what God was doing in the Passover: God had a plan to save and deliver His people, all of them. God had a plan to show every future believer the importance of the blood of the Passover Lamb. God had a plan for the forgiveness of sin, every sin that Jesus Christ would willingly take upon Himself.
1 The LORD said to Moses and Aaron in Egypt, 2 “This month is to be for you the first month, the first month of your year. Exodus 12:1-2 (NIV)
I’m sure that most of us can recall a memorable New Year’s Eve, or New Year’s Day that we participated in with our families. The Hebrew people of God were about to experience a New Year’s like no other. It would be so significant, that it would begin their new calendar. Every time a new year rolled around, they would be reminded of what had happened to them, and their forefather’s way back in Egypt, when God sent the death angel, and delivered them from Egyptian bondage.
3 Tell the whole community of Israel that on the tenth day of this month each man is to take a lamb for his family, one for each household. 5 The animals you choose must be year-old males without defect. Exodus 12:3, 5 (NIV)
12:6-11: For the Israelites to be spared from the plague of death, a lamb with no defects had to be killed and its blood placed on the doorframes of each home. What was the significance of the lamb? In killing the lamb, the Israelites shed innocent blood. The lamb was a sacrifice, a substitute for the person who would have died in the plague. From this point on, the Hebrew people would clearly understand that for them to be spared from death, an innocent life had to be sacrificed in their place.
The festival of Passover was to be an annual holiday in honor of the night when the Lord “passed over” the homes of the Israelites. The Hebrews followed God’s instructions by smearing the blood of a lamb on the doorframes of their homes. That night the firstborn son of every family that did not have blood on the doorframes was killed. The lamb had to be killed in order to get the blood that would protect them.
This foreshadowed the blood of Christ, the Lamb of God, who gave his blood for the sins of all people. Inside their homes, the Israelites ate a meal of roast lamb, bitter herbs, and bread made without yeast. Unleavened bread could be made quickly because the dough did not have to rise. So, they could leave at any time. Bitter herbs signified the bitterness of slavery.
12:29, 30 Every firstborn child of the Egyptians died, but the Israelite children were spared because the blood of the lamb had been smeared on their doorframes. So begins the story of redemption, the central theme of the Bible.
Redemption means “to buy back” or “to save from captivity by paying a ransom.” One way to buy back a slave was to offer an equivalent or superior slave in exchange. That is the way God chose to buy us back—he offered his Son in exchange for us.
In Old Testament times, God accepted symbolic offerings. Jesus had not yet been sacrificed, so God accepted the life of an animal in place of the life of the sinner. When Jesus came, he substituted his perfect life for our sinful lives, taking the penalty for sin that we deserve. He redeemed us from the power of sin and restored us to God. Jesus’ sacrifice made animal sacrifice no longer necessary.
We must recognize that if we want to be freed from the deadly consequences of our sins, a tremendous price must be paid. But we don’t have to pay it. Jesus Christ, our substitute, has already redeemed us by his death on the cross. Our part is to trust him and accept his gift of eternal life. Our sins have been paid for, and the way has been cleared for us to begin a relationship with God (Titus 2:14; Hebrews 9:13-15.
Each year the people would pause to remember the day when the death angel passed over their homes. They gave thanks to God for saving them from death and bringing them out of a land of slavery and sin. Believers today have experienced a day of deliverance as well—the day we were delivered from spiritual death and slavery to sin. The Lord’s Supper is our Passover remembrance of our new life and freedom from sin. The next time struggles and trials come, remember how God has delivered us in the past and focus on his promise of new life with him.
I believe that we can compare the Passover to our Christian experience, and recognize two important truths that we should “Never Forget.”
We Need to Remember Who we Are. We are God’s redeemed people, a people who have been delivered from bondage. Theirs was physical slavery; ours was spiritual enslavement to Satan. God came down, and delivered us. He did not allow us to remain in agony and suffering, and despair. He sent Moses to them, as their Deliverer. He sent Christ to us, to deliver us from darkness, so that we could walk in His marvelous light.
They had no power to deliver themselves, neither do we. God had to send one who would lead them out of bondage, into the freedom of being the children of God.
Secondly, I believe that God wants us to Remember What He has Done for Us.
Everything about what they were instructed to do was significant. God promised that when He saw the blood, He would Passover them, and not destroy them as His plague of death struck Egypt. We need to always remember that it is by the blood of Jesus that we are redeemed, and that apart from that blood we would perish with the rest of the world when God’s judgment falls.
Our redemption is in the blood of Christ, the perfect Lamb of God, who gave Himself for us, that we might be saved, and given a home in Heaven. Nothing but the blood of Jesus can cleanse us, and rescue us bondage of death.
Jesus established the Lord’s Supper after He had led His disciples in celebrating Passover, for He is the fulfillment of the Passover as the Lamb of God who died for the sins of the world. Each time we share in the Lord’s Supper, we look back and remember His death, but we also look ahead and anticipate His coming again. When Jesus returns, a wonderful exodus will take place! The dead in Christ will be raised and the living believers will be caught up with them and taken to heaven to be with the Lord (1 Thes. 4:13-18).
Our soldiers died for our country’s freedom, and Jesus died for our spiritual freedom, may we never forget.
Life Application Study Bible, (Wheaton, IL: Tyndale, 1988), WORDsearch CROSS e-book, 112-114
Memorial Day Weekend Sermon, by James Powell