These are the feasts of the LORD, even holy convocations, which you shall proclaim in their seasons.…
The great festival of the Passover derived all its meaning from one memorable historic scene. It annually recalled one event of surpassing interest, and, by so doing, it impressed all susceptible souls with those leading truths to which God called Israel to bear its living testimony. We look at -
I. THE SPECIAL SCENE WHICH THIS FEAST COMMEMORATED, AND THE INFLUENCE IT WAS FITTED TO EXERT. What a night in Hebrew history that night of the Lord's Passover! What false confidence in every Egyptian, what agitated hearts and trembling hopes in every Hebrew, home! With what solemn awe, and yet with what thrilling expectation, did their forefathers in the land of bondage partake of that strange meal! With what eager carefulness did they see that the saving blood-stream marked the lintels of the door which would shut in their dear ones! And what a morning on the morrow! What joyous congratulations in each Hebrew home when they all met, in life and health, on that memorable march! And what terrible consternation, what wild cries of anguish and remorse in those Egyptian houses where the angel of death had not passed by, but had struck his fearful stroke! It was the hour of Jehovah's most signal interposition; it was the hour of national redemption. They might well remember it "in all their dwellings through all their generations." This festival recalled the scene and also the deliverance to which it immediately led. And the influence on the minds of all who observed it, both parents and children, was, or surely should have been:
1. To strengthen their attachment to one another. There was danger, with the distribution into tribes, and with the Jordan cutting off two tribes and a half from the rest, that their national unity might be lost, and thus the distinctiveness for which they were called into being disappear. These common, sacred memories would help to bind them together and to keep them one.
2. To preserve their allegiance to their Divine Deliverer. These sacred recollections must excite
(1) a sense of deepest obligation;
(2) a corresponding feeling of profound gratitude for such signal mercy;
(3) a consequent renewal of their consecration of themselves to Jehovah's service; and especially
(4) a determination to live that life of purity and separateness from heathen iniquity of which the "unleavencd bread" spoke daily to their minds.
II. NATIONAL MERCIES WHICH WE HAVE RECEIVED FROM GOD AND THE INFLUENCE THESE SHOULD EXERT ON US. We are apt to celebrate the greatness of our country with too little reference in our minds to the special favours we have received from God. The separation, through geological processes, of our land from the continent; the store of treasure laid up for our use beneath the surface; the mingling of races resulting in our strong English character; the upraising of mighty and godly men (Alfred, Wickliffe, Tindale, Wesley, etc.), who have wrought great things for us; the effectual and lasting deliverance of our land from the bonds and corruptions of Rome; the security of religious freedom; the rise and growth of the missionary and, subsequently, the evangelistic spirit, etc. These things and such things as these are national mercies; which we should frequently recall, and, remembering them, we should
(1) guard against national boastfulness, as if our "right hand" had done everything;
(2) cultivate a sense of national obligation, with its accompaniment of reverent gratitude; and especially
(3) realize that we are what we are in order that we may bear witness to God's truth, and extend the kingdom of Jesus Christ.
III. SPECIAL INDIVIDUAL MERCIES WE HAVE RECEIVED AND THE INFLUENCE WE SHOULD GAIN FROM THEIR REMEMBRANCE. Every human life, when it has reached maturity, contains instances of special as well as ordinary loving-kindness from the hand of God. These may be
(1) recovery from dangerous illness; or
(2) extrication from financial embarrassment; or
(3) preservation of some precious life; or
(4) deliverance from forming a foolish and fatal friendship, or from the perils attending compulsory association with the wicked; or
(5) sense, suddenly or gradually imparted, of the supremacy of sacred things resulting in the acceptance of Christ as Lord and Saviour; or
(6) revival from spiritual sloth and backsliding. The remembrance of these calls for
(3) consecration. - C.
Parallel VersesKJV: These are the feasts of the LORD, even holy convocations, which ye shall proclaim in their seasons.