Prayer before meals is a sacred ritual many of God’s people practice. Other rituals affirm beliefs, reinforce commitments, celebrate achievements, foster unity, and show appreciation. When God delivered ancient Israel from slavery, He gave them certain rituals to recall the event. In doing so, they would also learn from the many symbols surrounding it. God gave them a new religious calendar; this gave them a new identity as God’s redeemed people. Each New Year, a family was to sacrifice a lamb without defect; this innocent lamb reminded them of how on that fateful night God spared the firstborn son in each Israelite family. God’s wrath passed over the Israelites because of His mercy when all of the firstborn sons of Egypt died. God called the event Passover. By eating the lamb and bread without yeast in haste and fully dressed, the people showed their faith in God’s promise that freedom was about to occur. Bitter herbs recalled the bitter years of slavery. All of this symbolism looked forward to that great event when God’s innocent Lamb, Jesus Christ, would die in our place on the cross. Christ’s shed blood now shields from eternal wrath all who place their faith in Jesus. As we gaze on Christ’s atoning sacrifice for us, we desire to draw closer to Him, to love Him more dearly, and obey Him more fully.
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