Thursday, April 2, 2015

The Next Generation: Considering dad's role at Passover

Now, in the presence of loved ones and friends,
before us the emblems of festive rejoicing,
we gather for our sacred celebration.

With the household of Israel – our elders and young ones –
linking and bonding the past with the future,
we heed once again the divine call to service.

Living our story that is told for all peoples,
whose shining conclusion is yet to unfold,
we gather to observe the Passover.* 

My husband was recently asked to speak to a group of Baptist men on the role of the father during the Passover celebration. First, it’s exciting to see the growing desire among Protestant groups to understand our Jewish religious heritage. Yes, it’s not across the board. Some denominations continue to pull away from Israel and the Jewish people. However, many Christians are about to burst with love for this ancient people and their homeland. It’s as if they’ve discovered a brother or sister they never knew existed!

Jimmy and I have never approached Passover from this particular perspective. For us, Passover is all about Jesus the Messiah. Every element points toward Him, His sacrifice, and His imminent return. (See 1 Corinthians 5:7-8).

After some thought, research, and discussion, he put together some great points on the significance of the father’s role during the Passover season. Passover begins this Friday night at sunset; in honor of the upcoming festival, I’d like to share his thoughts with you.

What does Dad do?

Judaism and Christianity are similar in that the father is the spiritual leader of the home. One author uses Joseph, the earthly father of Jesus, as an example of a Jewish father and writes, “Although we know that Joseph was a craftsman, the primary responsibility of parents in his day was to train their children in the fundamentals of practical life and covenant relationship with God. The goal of the average Hebrew family man in the first century was not the acquisition of great wealth or the achievement of power. It was to live a life of covenant faithfulness to the Lord and teach his family to do the same” (Source).

God calls both Jewish and Christian fathers to lead and teach in the home. How do we see this in the celebration of Passover?

Prepare the Home
A Jewish home must be cleansed of all leaven, or yeast, prior to the celebration. The family removes all bread and bread products. On the evening before the first night of Passover, the father leads the family in a search through the entire home to make sure they have removed all leaven.

In Scripture, leaven represents sin. The unleavened bread of Passover points to Jesus the Messiah, the bread of life who knew no sin. Only He has lived a life entirely free from the corruption of sin, just as the unleavened bread is free from the corruption of yeast.

The father leads the family in removing leaven from the home. Likewise, fathers need to lead in removing sin from the life of the family. This world eagerly and slyly tries to penetrate our homes and families with corruptive influences. A myriad of electronic options, the influence of others, and false teaching would all love to bring destruction into our homes. It’s primarily the father’s responsibility to vigilantly guard and protect his home from their influence. He’s also quick to remove it when it does appear.

Prepare the Lamb
Jews don’t sacrifice a lamb on Passover anymore. However, God’s original design required them to do so. The father brought the lamb into the home three days prior to Passover. He then led the family in inspecting the lamb to make sure it was free from blemish or defect. In short, the lamb had to be perfect.

The lamb of Passover also points us to Jesus. “For Christ, our Passover Lamb, has been sacrificed” (1 Corinthians 5:7 NIV). And later, “For you know that you were redeemed from your empty way of life inherited from the fathers, not with perishable things like silver or gold, but with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without defect or blemish” (1 Peter 1:18-19).

The father brings the lamb into the home. Likewise, the father should bring the Lamb of God into the home. Mom may teach the kids a lot of biblical lessons but dad has the responsibility to make sure the lessons are taught and the kids are learning. Of course, it’s still up to the child to respond and accept Jesus.

Blessing and Prayer
A Jewish Seder celebration contains many blessings – the four cups, the bitter herbs, the bread, the haroseth, and more all receive many blessings from the father throughout the meal. The light of the candles is the only exception. The mother recites the blessing at that time.

The blessings of Passover point to Christ as they acknowledge Him as our Provider, Lord, and Creator. The blessings point to Him as our Sustainer, the Giver of the law, the Redeemer of mankind, and the Savior whose return we await.

The father leads the family in blessing which plays a crucial role in the growth of a child. Think of how some of these ancient blessings have changed our modern day world… God’s promise to bless those who bless Israel, the blessing Melchizedek gave Abraham, the blessing Isaac gave Jacob instead of Esau, God’s blessing for Jacob when He changed His name to Israel, and Jacob’s blessing for Ephraim and Manasseh. And all these blessings are within only a few generations!

Pass it on to the next generation
The Jewish people thrive despite millennia of persecution. Primarily this is because of God’s plan and calling. Secondary, though, is the Jewish people’s commitment to teach the next generation which is an integral part of Passover each year. In my haggadah (book to guide through the Passover), right below the title, in a place of prominence, it reads, “As it is said: You shall tell your child on that day.”*

At each Passover celebration, the youngest asks the father a series of questions starting with, “How is this night different than other nights?” The father uses that opportunity to teach his child, and the rest of the family, the story of their deliverance from slavery in Egypt. For that reason, Passover has become the oldest continually celebrated holiday in the world. If we don’t teach our children, then the stories are lost forever.

The story of the Exodus points to Christ as He is the One who brought us out from the world, freed us from slavery, redeemed us, and waits to take us as His people and be our God.

The father teaches the next generation. Without his regular and continuous teaching, the child will grow without hearing the stories of redemption and salvation. Eventually, his family line will forget the power of God’s working and the necessity of Him in our lives. “Hear this, you elders, listen, all you inhabitants of the land. Has anything like this ever happened in your days or in the days of your ancestors? Tell your children about it, and let your children tell their children, and their children the next generation” (Joel 1:2-3).


*Taken from "A Passover Haggadah" as prepared by the Central Conference of American Rabbis, © 1982

No comments:

Post a Comment