In Exodus 12, the Lord designates the month of departing from Egypt a beginning of months for the witnesses of Israel (v.3), and implements an annual observance of the Passover and Feast of Unleavened bread. Verse 14 says: and this day shall be unto you for a memorial, and you shall keep it a feast to the Lord throughout your generations. The feast commemorates the night before the exodus when all the first born males of Egypt, both man and beast, were slain; but the children of Israel were passed over, because of the blood of the lamb on the doorposts and lintels.
This feast as a memorial is vital, for the commandment connects this event in the history of Israel with the first of three testimonies from the Word of God concerning their first patriarch Abraham. In Genesis 18 just prior to the judgment of Sodom the Lord says this in verse 19: for I know him, that he will command his children and his household after him and they shall keep the way of the Lord, to do judgment and righteousness; that the Lord may bring upon Abraham that which He has spoken of him. Notice that Cornelius in Acts 10 received the same positive review, as a man who not only looked to his own salvation, but his family and household.
Returning to the Lord’s instruction for the Passover in Exodus 12: and it shall come to pass, when your children shall ask you, what mean you by this service? That you shall say, it is the sacrifice of the Lord’s Passover who passed over the houses of the children of Israel in Egypt, when He smote the Egyptians, and delivered our houses. And the people bowed their heads and worshiped (verses 26 & 27).
The Hebrew word zakar-to remember, that provides the root for both memorial and remembrance, includes the aspect of passing on all things vital, be it worldly wisdom or divine instructions. This is particularly emphasized for parental instructions to children. This includes the need for elders and leaders of the church to pass on the full gospel apostolic instructions. The apostle Paul wrote to Timothy; “the things that you have heard of me by many witnesses, the same commit you to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also.” 2 Tim 2:2. In short, the apostolic teachings exist as a Memorial for the church.
And it came to pass, that at midnight the Lord smote all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, from the firstborn of Pharaoh that sat on his throne unto the firstborn of the captive that was in the dungeon; and all the firstborn of cattle. Exodus 12:29. God’s most severe judgment against Egypt results in Pharaoh acquiescing to Moses and Aaron, and the Exodus begins with urgency. It was a night to be much observed unto the Lord of all the children of Israel in their generations. Ex 12:42.
I mentioned previously of three testimonies of the Lord concerning Abraham. Before going further let us quickly look at the other two. After revealing His intentions concerning Sodom and Gomorrah, Abraham then steps up and acts as an intercessor on behalf of any possible innocents who will die in the destruction. He dares to ask “shall not the Judge of all the earth do right?” (Gen 18:25). He concludes his intercession by requesting that the cities be spared if ten righteous are found but only one found deliverance. After concluding the matter of Sodom and Gomorrah in chapter 19, we then find Abraham in the land of Gerar in chapter 20. Sarah has been taken away by the king Abimelech, but before anything happens between him and Sarah God visits the king in a night’s dream.
Abimelech pleads innocence and asks the Lord, will you slay a righteous nation? Sensing that he has put all of his people in jeopardy. God informs the king that it was His doing that prevented any sin from occurring, and advises him to restore his wife to Abraham. God then makes this second testimony concerning Abraham: “For he is a prophet and he shall pray for you and you shall live.” Gen. 20:7. This is the first time the Hebrew word nabi-for prophet occurs in scripture and is applied to Abraham, because he stepped into the gap on behalf of Sodom and Gomorrah. The first principle of the Old Testament prophet is to be an intercessor. I have never had anyone give the right answer when asked who was the first prophet in the Bible, although one friend of mine said it was Adam, because he named all the animals! I had to give him credit for suggesting a clever answer, even if it wasn’t quite right.
The third God-given testimony concerning Abraham is spoken to his son Isaac in Genesis 26. The Lord tells Isaac that He intends to perform the oath which He swore unto Abraham, saying “because that Abraham obeyed my voice, and kept my charge, my commandments, my statutes, and my laws.” (v. 5). Isn’t it amazing that five centuries before Moses is given the Law, God claims that there was a man who had fulfilled them! Abraham was truly a friend of God. We should also include the words of the angel who stayed Abraham’s hand from slaying Isaac on Moriah, saying “now I know that you fear God, seeing you have not withheld your son, your only son from Me. Genesis 22:12. God then swore an oath by Himself to fulfill all His promises made to Abraham.
Praise be to God that He gave His only begotten Son for our Salvation!