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The Blood of the Passover Lamb: Freedom of Time, Exodus 12:2 by Dr. Terry Harman

Updated: 6 days ago

blood of the Passover lamb ob the doorposts

The Blood on the Doorpost by Terry Harman © 2007

“This month shall be unto you the beginning of months; it shall be the first month of the year to you” Exodus 12:2 (1)

The Value of Time

Have you ever dreamed of retiring? Sure, you have. Everyone dreams of a day “when I will not have to go to work ever again.” But you must think about what you will do with your time! I have talked to people who have retired and returned to the workforce. Why? “I had too much time on my hands, and nothing to do.” Sometimes these “returnees” take on jobs that allow them to work and have “flexible schedules.” The ability to live our lives and plan our days equates to freedom - freedom of time. The first Passover in Egypt brought the freedom to decide how to use time.


Hebrews Were Slaves to Time

“Now there arose a new king over Egypt, who knew not Joseph. And he said unto his people: ‘Behold, the people of the children of Israel are too many and too mighty for us... .’ Therefore, they did set over them taskmasters to afflict them with their burdens.” (Exodus 1:8-11)

After Joseph died another Pharoah prevented the Hebrews from achieving the social status that Joseph once held. During the four hundred years in Egypt, the Hebrews gradually lost more of their freedoms and adapted to the culture of the Egyptians.

 

Now the Hebrews had no control over their time or how they spent time. They were now slaves to Pharoah’s time. The people of God continued to lose control over maintaining their native language, culture, native foods, and clothing, and the understanding of God passed down from the time of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Hope for a better day was waning.

 

As slaves, they lost the freedom to choose. Slaves do not have the freedom to decide how they spend their time. Slaves have no control over the work conditions. Slaves do not determine the work, how the labor is done, or how long the workday lasts. Their taskmasters decided what work was assigned when the day started, and when the day ended when they could reach for a drink of water to soothe their parched lips. They were slaves to Pharoh’s timetable and calendar.


Temporary Leave of Absence

When Moses first approached Pharaoh, his request was not a demand to set the people free to leave Egypt. The text suggests only a request for a temporary leave of absence to make sacrifices to the Hebrew God. Initially, Pharoah approved the request to travel a shorter distance. Moses reminded Pharoah that this would not work because the lamb they would sacrifice would be an abomination to the Egyptians. In the end, Pharoah reneged on the temporary leave of absence (Exodus 3:18, 5:1-3, 8:21-28).


A New Day and Calendar

There came a calendar change with the hardening of Pharoah’s heart and the plagues. What initially was a request for three days’ leave of absence turned into a calendar change, a change in the way time was counted and who controlled how the time. The Hebrews would change from Pharoah’s Chronos to the Lord’s Kairos time.

 

“This month shall be unto you the beginning of months; it shall be the first month of the year to you.”


It’s All About the Timing

There was a condition. It was all about the timing. The people were to select a lamb or a goat on the tenth of the month (12:5), keep and protect it for four days or until the fourteenth of the month (12:6). Then on the fourteenth of the month slaughter it a specific time – “twilight” (12:6). If the Lord’s time constraints were followed, the people would gain more than a three-day temporary absence to worship the Lord. The people would gain the freedom to control their own time. It was a freedom not to do whatever they wanted but to follow and serve their Lord. The mark of true freedom is determined by who controls your time. The Hebrews had the authority now to make their time holy unto the Lord.


A Sign for Who?

Every Hebrew family chose a lamb or a goat and kept it separate for four days. Then, on the night when the Israelites were set free from slavery in Egypt, they killed the lamb, roasted it, and ate it. They also put the lamb's blood on the doorframes of their houses. The blood on the door posts was “a sign.” Who needed the sign? Surely the Lord would be able to tell who was with him and who was not with him. The sign of the blood was not for the Lord but for the people.

 

And the blood shall be to you for a token upon the houses where ye are; and when I see the blood, I will pass over you, and there shall no plague be upon you to destroy you, when I smite the land of Egypt (Exodus 12:13).


The older English word “token” found in the 1917 Jewish Publication Society Bible is the Hebrew לְאֹ֗ת (oth). Oth often translated a “sign,” or a “pledge.” The act of selecting, slaying, roasting, and eating a lamb, and marking their home with its blood are indicators or signs of families deciding to separate themselves from Pharoah and the rejection of the Egyptian sheep-god. The lamb's blood was a witness or a testimony of their devotion to the one true God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. The Hebrews displayed their new allegiance with a blood covenant. The blood was a sign for those who cut the covenant with God.


A Family Pledge

Notice this story emphasizes the family choosing a lamb and applying the blood to the doorposts of their home. This was a family decision. In his article, The Spark of Freedom, Rabbi Noson Weisz says it better than I could ever say.

 

"To bring a sacrifice is to attach oneself to God. There are two types of sacrifices: korbonot yachid, individual sacrifices that focus on the individual attachment to God, and korbonot tzibur, public sacrifices, that focus on attaching the Jewish people as a nation to God. The Passover sacrifice is the only sacrifice that focuses on the Jewish family" (2).

 

Speak ye unto all the congregation of Israel, saying: In the tenth day of this month they shall take to them every man a lamb, according to their fathers’ houses, a lamb for a household; and if the household be too little for a lamb, then shall he and his neighbour next unto his house take one according to the number of the souls (Exodus 12:3-4).


Conclusion

As an employee one of the benefits, we look for when determining whether we will accept a new job offer is, “How much Paid Time Off” (PTO) is earned? “What shift will I be working?” “Does the job require weekends and holidays?” What are we asking, “Will I have any control over my time?” “Will I be a slave to the company’s calendar?”

 

The yearly gathering of Jewish families during Passover is a powerful statement. The story is retold and rehearsed every year not just by the Jewish community but by Jewish families. The story of Passover is not just a history lesson pointing to something from the past. Passover maintains a sense of Jewish identity and the pledge to choose to serve God that echoes the words of Joshua as the people entered the land of promise. This pledge to the covenant with the Lord is renewed by remembering the sabbath and the story of the freedom to choose is maintained by celebrating Pesach year after year.

 

And the people answered and said: ‘Far be it from us that we should forsake the LORD, to serve other gods; for the LORD our God, He it is that brought us and our fathers up out of the land of Egypt, from the house of bondage, and that did those great signs in our sight, and preserved us in all the way wherein we went, and among all the peoples through the midst of whom we passed; and the LORD drove out from before us all the peoples, even the Amorites that dwelt in the land; therefore we also will serve the LORD; for He is our God.’ (Joshua 24:16-18).

 

Some are fortunate enough to have the freedom to control how we spend our time. We have a job that affords flexibility, or we own our business. But do not fool yourself. Having a flexible schedule or owning a business, does not mean we do not have to work. Business owners work extremely hard, and long hours. The difference is the owner controls their time and how they will use it. Retirement gives us the ability to determine how we spend our time.

 

You may have experienced your own spiritual Exodus from a slave-like life of the wicked ways of this world. You had an “awakening” or a “spiritual experience” where you symbolically marked the doorposts of your heart with the blood of the lamb. You are free from the old ways. But freedom is not without responsibility. We have been set free from the bondage of the past to serve the Lord. There is one problem. The Lord took the Hebrews out of Egypt but there was still a whole lotta of Egypt in them.

 

“So, teach us to number our days, that we may get us a heart of wisdom.”

(Psalm 90:12)


Thank you for viewing my website and reading my blog. If you enjoy what you see and read here is how you can thank me - help someone in need. Look where you live and work. Is there someone who could use a helping hand? Please consider assisting a widow or elderly person. Encourage the person who is going through a difficult time. Trust me. You can make a difference in this world. Shalom, Shalom. Terry


References

(1)   The Holy Scriptures According to the Masoretic Text: A New Translation. Jewish Publication Society 1917.

 

(2)   Weisz, Rabbi Noson. The Spark of Freedom. Aish.com, accessed April 22, 2024.



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