And when your son asks you in time to come, saying, What mean the testimonies, and the statutes, and the judgments…
The ordinances of Israel were the ordinances of a redeemed people, and they were the signs and memorials of the fact of their redemption. Selecting the passover, then, as the most prominent of these ordinances, let us inquire what it was designed to teach.
1. In the first place, we see in it a memorial of Divine sovereignty. Could the Jew look back upon the history of his forefathers, and doubt that it was not their own might nor their own wills that carried them forth from the land of tears?
2. Again, we see in it a memorial of Divine goodness and truth. It was a promise that God would not forget, that Abraham's seed should inherit the land of Canaan; and now that he was in possession of all this, was it not well that Abraham's child should be reminded of what had been done for him? In the passover, then, he learned how true and gracious the Lord had been to him and to his fathers. What would he trace but mercy and faithfulness in all His ways?
3. These were the aspects of the ordinances as they looked Godward; but there were others which reminded him of his own personal position. Could the Jew, for example, forget the Egyptian yoke, as he stood up, year after year, his loins girded and staff in hand, to eat the Lord's passover? Is it not a little remarkable, that though they have lost the Sacrifice, this is the only ordinance the Jews celebrate to this day? Even in a strange land, and at such an interval of time, they fail not to call to remembrance the bondage of Pharaoh. How often does God set this before His people in the course of His dealings with them! "Thou wast a servant in the land of Egypt." He frequently reminds them. He would have kept them in a due subordination, that they might not be lifted up to their own destruction.
4. But we see in the passover, lastly, a memorial of present deliverance. As long as the Jew could celebrate it in his own land, he was reminded of his deliverance from Egypt. In this respect the redemption of Israel from the house of bondage has been always a present blessing. As a nation, and therefore as a type of the Christian Church, they have never been enslaved a second time in Egypt. Once delivered, they were delivered forever from that bondage. Most truly, therefore, could the Jewish parent teach his son — "We were Pharaoh's bondmen in Egypt." That was a past history of terrible suffering and disgrace, and the remembrance of it could call up nothing in the heart of a faithful Jew but thankful, peaceful joy. The passover, consequently, was eminently a joyous festival; it was a feast upon a sacrifice; it was a celebration of Divine mercies, and of the entire destruction of the Egyptian yoke. And is not the Christian ordinance and history a counterpart of this?
(W. Harrison, M. A.)
Parallel VersesKJV: And when thy son asketh thee in time to come, saying, What mean the testimonies, and the statutes, and the judgments, which the LORD our God hath commanded you?