There’s a reason Passover comes first

Howdy! These have been crazy days, to be sure, and not much blogging on my part. And this post will be little exception! However, I have had a thought turning around in my mind for a few weeks as the Holy Days approached, and I thought I would comment on it — or, rather, refer anyone passing by to a comment I made on it long ago in the Spring Holy Day season of 2007.  It concerns the reason the fact that Passover precedes the Days of Unleavened Bread is an important one, and I’ll add a little commentary here before sending you to that earlier post.

Passover pictures God acting first, as He always does. To me, the Passover-then-Days-of-Unleavened-Bread order typifies a great truth of Christianity: “We love Him because He first loved us” (1 John 4:19). Passover reminds us that He loved us before we loved Him. And Unleavened Bread reminds us that the only acceptable response to God’s love is to love Him back — and repentance and turning to obey the laws of God is, indeed, how we love Him (John 14:15, 1 John 5:2-3). Those who place Passover a day late on the evening of the 15th of the first month, when we’ve already “deleavened,” get it backwards. Christ did not die for a people who had already repented and thrown sin out of their lives:

“But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8).

Yes–He died for us while we were yet sinners. Leaven and all. Our repentance is a response to what He had done, hence the beginning of the Days of Unleavened Bread, picturing our response to the love and sacrifice of Christ, happens after Passover. Again, we love Him because He first loved us.

Well, that’s more original commentary than I had planned! What I really wanted to do was to refer to this post I wrote in 2007. It would have been better to bring it up right before Passover, but given it’s main thrust is that Unleavened Bread must be kept in the light of the lessons of Passover, I think it is still fitting. I hope you enjoy it! The “tricycle lesson” mentioned at the end of the post, as simple and obvious as the lesson may be, is probably one of the most personally meaningful learned-through-parenting lessons I’ve ever learned about life and God’s work in us, and I am thankful for it every year. In fact, it has become a staple of my baptism counseling.

Here’s the post:

Again, I hope you enjoy it, and have a wonderful First Day of Unleavened Bread!

5 thoughts on “There’s a reason Passover comes first

  1. John Wheeler (Johanan Rakkav)

    You will almost CERTAINLY write more than you planned, ALWAYS. It’s what people strong in Jungian Extraverted iNtuiting “do”. Deal with it. 😉 (Yeah, I’m one of those too, so I know whereof I speak.)

    On the other hand, if my research into what lies behind the Beatitudes is correct, “Blessed are the merciful (Gk. compassionate)…” is the general virtue among the nine toward which your mind most naturally aims, right after what the Holy Spirit gives (“Blessed are the poor in spirit…”). Extraverted iNtuiting, if used rightly, aims for that virtue under God’s guidance. This explains why during the Reformation and Enlightenment, the same capacity of mind that led to humanism and the constant asking of “What if…?” also led to a particular “spirit of Protestantism” where the compassion God showed through Jesus Christ was emphasized to a fault.

    In his delightful and scholarly Hebrew New Testament version from the 19th century or very early 20th century, Prof. Franz Delitzsch back-translated the Greek for “merciful/compassionate” there not into some form of the Hebrew chesed, from which the New Testament gets its idea of “grace/unmerited favor/covenant love”, but into rachamim. “Those who have tender mercy”, as it were (the Hebrew word for “womb” derives from the same concept of gut-level, all-embracing tenderness).

    God showed His grace toward us through the Passover, but also many other things, including His tender mercy. And boy howdy, do we need that as much as anything else that comes through the blood of Christ.

    Small but unnecessary sermonette from Yours Truly. Have a blessed Feast of Unleavened Bread. 😀

  2. Marci Walton

    Mr. Smith, Just read your post before the leaving for services! What a wonderful way to start the Spring Holy Day season! Thanks for sharing your story and for your comments!

  3. Rick Collins

    Mr. Smith, I honestly love how you bring thoughts into perspective that make sense. Thank you so much and have a very blessed Holy Day season.

  4. Steve

    Given the day, I’m not quite sure about this, but I did read your blog and decided to comment on your tricycle story..

    I asked boy #1 to throw the baseball on top of the roof. He was only 3 or 4 years old, so I was asking a lot of him. No matter how many times he tried, the ball kept falling short. His arm was wearing out, and he kept getting more and more frustrated. It was awful. I tried to stop it, but this little boy refused to quit.

    He finally went “arrgh!” and put his whole being into that baseball. The ball not only made it to the roof, but a lot further than that. I was stunned. I picked him up in my arms, bouncing him, and saying “you did it, you did it!”

    I don’t know, Mr Smith. Am I trying as hard as that little boy did?

  5. Clint Porter

    I really appreciated this post, Mr. Smith. I’ve been thinking about this same thing this year. I’ve had several COG pastors tell me one of their young adults’ biggest obstacles to getting baptized is the belief that “they aren’t perfect/good enough yet”. This puzzles the pastors, since these kids grew up in the Church and they’ve been taught that baptism is a beginning to God perfecting us, not the end of us perfecting ourselves. I actually battled the same thing when I was a teen/young adult, and it’s been hard for me to pinpoint why.

    It struck me this year that by shifting the deleavening process to the weeks leading up to ULB instead of “the first day” as the Bible says, we may be accidentally subverting the symbolism of the Spring Holy Days.This may be where kids are picking up the idea, and it’s compounded by the fact that the Passover service isn’t part of their Church experience.

    Now, I’m not saying we’ve got to wait for the day after the Passover service to throw out all the leavening, but I think we parents need to make sure we teach Passover as the first action in God’s plan, and explain that God is the one deleavening our lives through His strength as Christ lives in us. It’s not our own strength. Salvation and perfection is not a matter of “If you build it, He will come.”

    I’ve been trying to think of how to do this. Maybe in the future I’ll at least keep some of the last bread or baking soda around until the 14th, just to throw out with the kids so we can talk about it.

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