A Christian Reflection on the Question from a Popular Passover Song
One of the most popular Passover songs at a Jewish Seder (the festive first meal of the holiday) is titled: “Why is this night different from other nights?”. The question addresses directly the events described in the Book of Exodus.
When the ten plagues befell Egypt, God gave instructions to Israelites on how to eat the Passover. On that fateful night, He told them to place the blood of a slaughtered lamb on the doorposts. God told Israel to prepare to leave Egypt, and already then the Lord was making plans for any Gentiles that wanted to join them on their journey.
Passover is a rich season, full of never-ending insights, lessons and truths.
Probably one of the most significant and often overlooked aspects of this season involves the intentional invitation to the nations to come to the Passover table.
Israel and the Nations
For Gentiles learning about Israel, the Passover is a great starting point. While learning, many begin to feel a closeness or connection to the Jewish nation. As a result, some will point to the book of Ephesians and Paul’s writing about the “One New Man” as the reason.
This passage in Ephesians 2 speaks about the joining of Jew and Gentile into one new man “and might reconcile them both in one body to God through the cross” (Ephesians 2:16). But where did Paul, who was more zealous for the Torah than any of his peers, get this idea from? The answer lies in Passover.
From the beginning, God’s call to Abraham was not to be exclusive Jewish club but to be an outward facing blessing to all nations.
As the family grew into millions in Egypt, this calling had not changed. At the Exodus, as God gave instructions on how to eat the Passover, this is what He told them:
“But if a stranger sojourns with you, and celebrates the Passover to the LORD, let all his males be circumcised, and then let him come near to celebrate it; and he shall be like a native of the land. But no uncircumcised person may eat of it. The same law shall apply to the native as to the stranger who sojourns among you.” Exodus 12:48-49
Anyone that wanted to join Israel and celebrate the Passover had one requirement: circumcision. Going back to Genesis 17, this was to be a sign of the everlasting covenant between God and the descendants of Abraham.
“This is My covenant, which you shall keep, between Me and you and your descendants after you: every male among you shall be circumcised.” (Genesis 17:10).
In other words, the only thing that Gentiles needed to be a part of Israel, to celebrate the Passover and to be treated as native Israelite was to make the commitment and to be under the covenant – what the Prophet Jeremiah also called “circumcision of the heart”.
Here at Passover, at the beginning of the Jewish nation, God was making a way for the nations to follow Him. As long as you were under God’s covenant, you are a full member of the family and were to be accepted as a local.
Throughout the Scriptures, we continue to see God’s invitation to the Gentiles and collaboration with the Jewish people for the benefit of Israel. Moses and Jethro worked together for Israel in the desert. Rahab hid the Jewish spies in Jericho. Naomi and Ruth were together in Bethlehem and became part of the descendants of Jesus. Asaph and Obed-Edom worshipped in David’s tabernacle. Solomon and Hiram worked together to build the first Temple in Jerusalem.
God loves when the nations make the decision and wholeheartedly join with His people for the benefit of all!
The first time we see this Jew-Gentile connection is in Passover, at the very beginning of the Jewish nation. In the New Covenant, Paul is not teaching anything new to the Gentles:
“…so that in Himself He might make the two into one new man, thus establishing peace, and might reconcile them both in one body to God through the cross…” (Ephesians 2:15-16).
Notice the similarities in how the Gentiles are joined to the Jewish nation. In Exodus, foreigners could eat the Passover and were fully a part of Israel if they were under God’s covenant. God joins Jew and Gentile together as “one new man” in the commonwealth of Israel through the blood covenant at the cross.
Furthermore, the sacrifice of Jesus to reconcile the two, happened at Passover. The deliverance from Egypt’s slavery and the deliverance from sin’s slavery came on the exact same day. As a result, both are available to all who what to celebrate them, as long as we are under the covenant.
Since the beginning of the Jewish nation, God’s plan was always for the inclusion of the nations.
Later as the Temple became the center of Jewish life the prophets continued to remind Israel of this desire.
“For My house will be called a house of prayer for all the peoples. The Lord GOD, who gathers the dispersed of Israel, declares, et others I will gather to them, to those already gathered.” (Isaiah 56:7-8)
Come To the Table
At this Passover season, there is a place of celebration for the nations, prepared since the time of Exodus. You don’t have to be Jewish. You don’t have to say the right things. You don’t even have to understand all the details. As long as you are under God’s covenant, you are welcomed at Israel’s table as part of the one new man of Jew and Gentile, praising God together for his deliverance!
Have you ever wondered how Israel, Passover, and the Resurrection are connected?
Discover why they bless the heart of God and reveal a mosaic of His faithfulness in this 30-day Bible Reading Plan we designed just for you.