When learning to drive a car, one must quickly understand the value of utilizing two important yet opposite tools… the windshield and the rearview mirror. When learning the life-changing lessons of the Passover story, one might just do the same.
For drivers, windshields show what is ahead. You can see potential dangers and promising opportunities. You can observe the actions of others while you plan your next turn. A near destination is right in front of you and a desired destination in the distance remains possible.
On the other hand, rearview mirrors remind drivers of what is behind. Driving school instructors might well inform you that seeing where you have been before can be both educational and encouraging. If your journey has included storms and wrecks and engine trouble, you can be encouraged that those obstacles have been overcome and are now in your past. If the streets you have traveled included sunny days and smooth roads and friendships with fellow drivers, you might say a prayer of thanksgiving with a smile on your face.
For travelers on life’s spiritual highways, the power of Passover lies in looking forward to what is ahead while being ever mindful of what is behind. Passover calls us to trust God today because He heard our cries yesterday.
In Exodus 12:2, the Lord established His calendar and explained the annual spiritual starting line called the month of Nisan. “This month shall be the beginning of months for you; it is to be the first month of the year to you.” The “beginning of months” is the perfect time to peer through the windshield and discern where your current path is headed. Have you planned a route that leads toward holiness and obedience or one barreling toward selfishness and rebellion? As this Passover begins, do you know where you are going spiritually?
If your rearview mirror contains the heartache of slavery, you would rightly long for a deliverer. In Exodus 12:3, God commands Moses and Aaron to lead their people on the courageous path to freedom. “Speak to all the congregation of Israel, saying, ‘On the tenth of this month they are each one to take a lamb for themselves, according to their fathers’ households, a lamb for each household.’ ”
Continuing to encourage forward movement, God says, “You shall keep it (the lamb) until the fourteenth day of the same month, then the whole assembly of the congregation of Israel is to kill it at twilight. Moreover, they shall take some of the blood and put it on the two doorposts and on the lintel of the houses in which they eat it.” (Exodus 12:6-7)
This week across the globe, Bible students will read about God’s unusual assignment given to Hebrew slaves in Egypt, to sacrifice an unblemished lamb and then spread its blood on the doorposts of their homes. Obedience by faith to this seemingly strange command proved to be the decisive factor in determining which families experienced death and which families were passed over, thereby preserving life and the opportunity for a future. As we learn from Leviticus 17:11, life truly is in the blood.
In 2019, as the dates of Passover and Easter coincide, Christians and Jews can celebrate God’s past faithfulness in the rearview mirror while anticipating our futures in the windshield. These two faith groups can unify around their shared spiritual heritage this week as Christians recall the Jewishness of Jesus. The New Testament records Jesus of Nazareth visiting the Upper Room in Jerusalem and participating in a Seder meal with His disciples during the Last Supper.
Those celebrating Easter this weekend will quickly connect the sacrificial deaths of countless lambs in Egypt with a place called Golgotha, remembering the crucifixion of Jesus on that first Good Friday. Christians will pack churches around the world this Sunday because they believe that the death and resurrection of Jesus, the shedding of His blood, is what provided for their spiritual deliverance, their exodus from a slave’s life separated from God.
Families gathered around their Seder tables this week, in Israel and Texas and elsewhere, will gaze backwards as they read the Haggadah and tell stories about God’s unbroken covenant faithfulness. Young children will ask what is so special about this holiday (as promised in Exodus 12:26) and their elders will quote Exodus 12:27 as they explain that “it is a Passover sacrifice to the Lord who passed over the houses of the sons of Israel in Egypt when He smote the Egyptians, but spared our homes.’”
Maybe you have never compared the Haggadah, the fascinating tale of that original Exodus, to a rearview mirror on a redemptive journey. Please note that people of faith are often told to look back, to recall the goodness of their gracious and mighty God. Prophet Isaiah wrote, “Remember the former things long past, for I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is no one like Me.” (Isaiah 46:9)
Maybe you wouldn’t connect the Lord’s instructions in Exodus 12:42 to the windshield of a car, but I believe that the Passovers before us appear inviting and deserve our celebration. “It is a night to be observed for the Lord for having brought them out from the land of Egypt; this night is for the Lord, to be observed by all the sons of Israel throughout their generations.”
In the midst of all the Jews celebrating Passover and all the Christians celebrating Easter, there will be a lot of remembering this week, a lot of spiritual lessons passed from one generation to the next.
The most important memory of all, however, belongs to the Creator God Himself. Please consider these words as your thoughts turn toward holiday celebrations… “He has remembered His covenant forever, the word which He commanded to a thousand generations, the covenant which He made with Abraham, and His oath to Isaac. Then He confirmed it to Jacob for a statute, to Israel as an everlasting covenant, saying, ‘To you I will give the land of Canaan as the portion of your inheritance.’” (Psalm 105:8-11)
I encourage your family and mine to look ahead AND look behind this week, to dream AND to remember. Passover seems like the perfect time for both a biblical windshield and a spiritual rearview mirror.
Chag Pesach Sameach.