In early high school, I remember my best friend at the time spreading whatever he could, jellies, jams, butter, avocado, anything to give the matzo he was eating some flavor. I remember him often using marinara sauce and mozzarella to make matzo pizzas. Whenever Passover season returned, the use of this unleavened bread was perplexing, why did he go through the trouble? My buddy explained that it was eaten to commemorate the struggle the Jews endured as they escaped Egypt, and God’s provision. The symbolism caused me to wonder, and now, looking back, I am struck by the enormity of its symbolism throughout the whole of scripture. And how God now has applied it to me.
In speaking of Passover and the eating of unleavened bread, God said,
“You shall tell your son on that day, ‘It is because of what the Lord did for me when I came out of Egypt.’ “ (Exodus 13:8).
Now in the New Covenant era, as prophesied of old (Ez. 36:24-28, Jer. 31:31-34), we see that communion, now serves for a fulfilled purpose, something the passover and exodus were ultimately intended to reflect. Jesus demonstrated this on the day of his betrayal, during passover, he shared what these symbols had been pointing to:
“And he took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body, which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” And likewise the cup after they had eaten, saying, “This cup that is poured out for you is the new covenant in my blood” (Luke 22:19-20).
Passover was celebrated in order to remember, and now Jesus through his death consummated, and in this last meal, showed us a remembrance that was always meant through the old remembrance. The Jews of old saw that there was a sacrifice to come in Genesis 22:13-14, God would provide a lamb to substitute the death of the first born Isaac, but why is it that the sacrifices never ended, they continued and continued. Hebrews 10 explains how this was due to a need for a permanent sacrifice that had power to remove the wrath and justice prescribed and owed to man, the cup of wrath discussed in Jeremiah 25, the cup of His wrath that He says all nations will have to drink. In Isaiah 53 we are told how there was one who would come, who was to take on this wrath, who would be crushed that not all of mankind would have to bear this enormity. This messiah, this perfect lamb, would be what permanently removed their sins. God was being patient through the process of ongoing sacrifices, as an ongoing bloody performance continued in hopes of something lasting. And now, he calls us to remember how God’s wrath passed over us as the ‘destroyer’ who passed over the first born sons in Egypt. Just as the lamb’s blood was spread around the doorways of the jews, he now has provided a perfect lamb to be broken, crumbled like unleavened bread and crushed like the wheat of the field underneath a massive weight (Luke 23:26-31, Isa. 2:10, Hos. 10:8, Rev. 6:16). Jesus then, as God’s first born son representative now stands in the place of the destroyer and takes it upon himself to die a sufficient death, providing symbolically a blood that all of mankind can spread on his doorway. This means that God has provided life for us, manna in our desert, pierced that rivers of water would come to us in desert dry land, just as it had for the wandering jews–only 1,000 fold, infinite-fold. So now we are able to teach and hand down a kind of passover that resonates with a fresh, present and intimate reality. Just as parents were instructed to hand down the memory of God’s faithfulness in generations past, we today can say, ‘son, we take this because of what the Lord has done for me, when he took me out of my Egypt, my slavery to sin, the slavery of constantly striving for nothing, and the cycle of meaninglessness thereof. Remember this freedom bought by a sacrifice, remember your Egypt as Isaiah warns. Don’t go back. No matter how hard it gets, its never worth turning back. We were not given a Spirit of slavery to shrink back to fear’ (Rom. 8:15; 2 Tim. 1:7).
Now I see, “because you left Egypt in haste—so that all the days of your life you may remember the time of your departure from Egypt” (Deut. 16:3). All of our days we are to remember, and God chose the eating of a cracker, and the drinking of wine or as we often use, grape juice. Do you remember your new found freedom? Because you had to flee slavery my friend–no time for leavening. Each of us have a bottomless hole in our hearts, one only God could fill. All people have their vice, their go-to for satisfaction, this part of our heart is never satisfied as it continually needs filling and fulfilling, this slavery is to that Egypt we rely upon and bow to as our god. Whether that is trusting our own good deeds and their ability to make us appear good before God, or if it is in getting ‘likes’ on facebook or in receiving approval from men. We have no time to waste, run to the bosom of our Lord, who offers rest from our endless strivings after worth or personal significance (Matt. 11:28-30).
When they were instructed to eat this unleavened bread, it was to be with ‘bitter herbs,’ pointing to the bitter death Christ would one day endure, and with oil–signifying the anointed one (as oil was used for anointing), and to signify our new peace (as an olive branch was brought back to Noah to show Noah that the flood was beginning to reel back). It was had with wine, signifying the treading of the winepress of wrath that would burst our Lord from within (Rev. 19:15)–and would–bring life and joy to his bride (those who’ve trusted in Him and His sacrifice). The first born would be passed over, because the greatest first born would be given over. Because you enter through the door that is covered in blood. And even as they were told to eat of the lamb of the passover that night, we too ‘eat of his flesh’ (John 6:55-58). And just as matzo is without leaven, He too was free from the leaven of sin and death that permeates through the bread of mankind.
Eat and remember your king, beloved. And consider your current deserts you walk through… consider why God allowed the israelites to walk the longer path rather than the direct route to the promised land,
“When Pharaoh let the people go, God did not lead them by way of the land of the Philistines, although that was near. For God said, ‘Lest the people change their minds when they see war and return to Egypt'” (Exodus 13:17).
God may be taking you through the desert as you are walking on your way to that great country we await, but have you considered that God is doing so to prevent many many alternatives–innumerable wars against your soul that could have had you return to Egypt. He is taking you the long uncomfortable way, but know this, if he parted the Red Sea–what will he part for you on your journey! What has he already! Look back and remember what he has done for you friends, “Only fear the Lord and serve him faithfully with all your heart. For consider what great things he has done for you” (1 Samuel 12:24).
Remember the ebenezers in your life, remember his ongoing faithfulness not only for Moses or Paul, but for you–even before you knew him–can you not see his hand working in the little details in those days? Think of the multitudes of pieces he shifted to prepare you for today. He knew you wouldn’t be able to take what you are now without defeating what you were then. And in our fragility, how gently he’s led us.
We get to the end of the chapter, and see how he led his people then, how he was faithful to them then.
“And the Lord went before them by day in a pillar of cloud to lead them along the way, and by night in a pillar of fire to give them light, that they might travel by day and by night. The pillar of cloud by day and the pillar of fire by night did not depart from before the people” (Exodus 13:21-22).
Today, in this new era of the new covenant, he leads you still with a mighty pillar, the Holy Spirit himself within you. If that is not enough to blow your mind, let me restate this: that means the Most High being of the universe making his dwelling in you. The same Spirit when dwelling in the tent of meeting which consumed with fire anyone who walked in unappointed (Lev. 10:2). This blazing helix does ‘not depart’ from before you, he is in union with you. He has taught you to hear his voice and leads you away from what will harm you in the long run, relenting from calamity. He’s gone before you, do you believe that? He’s already made that path straight, walk into it with comfort, knowing that he has you in this route because of a greater purpose.
Even as I write this, I am going through one of my driest deserts to date. I came to studying this passage by accident, not realizing that shortly after reading this passage I was to receive two different emails of bad news. The news wasn’t crushing this time. The desert is easier to walk through when you know who’s with you and where you’re headed–a promised land, “whose designer and builder is God” (Heb. 11:10).
“Do this in remembrance of me,” Jesus tells us. He says therefore to eat this broken bread, savoring the soul-satisfying bread that he would become for us. Consider how this soul-satisfying union with Him was spoken of old, “The afflicted shall eat and be satisfied; those who seek him shall praise the LORD! May your hearts live forever!” (Psalm 22:26). And many years later Jesus would tell to a woman whose heart truly thirsted, as she had 5 different husbands, “but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again. The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life” (John 4:14). And from old he has spoken of this living water to come, “those who turn away from you shall be written in the earth, for they have forsaken the Lord, the fountain of living water” (Jer. 17:13).
Eat, drink, and remember how the route He has you on, in the end, is better.
And it is His grace that will sustain you, rather than our own arm. Just as the mana in the wilderness fed the israelites, the cracker points to a mana that carries us. Consider these promises, and remember the enduring faithful grace of the shepherd whose tender arms carry his sheep.
“Now to him who is able to keep you from stumbling” (Jude 1:24).
“even to your old age I am he, and to gray hairs I will carry you. I have made, and I will bear; I will carry and will save” (Isa. 46:4).
“who will sustain you to the end, guiltless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Cor. 1:8).
“Cast your burden on the LORD, and he will sustain you; he will never permit the righteous to be moved” (Psalm 55:22).
“Like a shepherd He will tend His flock, In His arm He will gather the lambs And carry them in His bosom; He will gently lead the nursing ewes” (Isaiah 40:11).
C. Phillip Gittleson
Our guest was first introduced to the teachings of Christ in the midst of a sea of alternative messages. He became a follower while wrestling with depression, entering into a crossroads with nihilism and Jesus, with Jesus triumphing. Today Gittleson is a writer and educator.
Education: BA, University of Michigan
MEd., Plymouth State University