14th Day of Nissan
On that first original Passover night, the blood from the sacrificed animal was to be smeared on the door posts and lintel and possibly threshold of the house. Then the meat, being roasted was to be hastily eaten with belt fastened--ready to leave the home and enslaved condition.
But, before the Israelites got out of Egypt, the Land of Bondage, they were commanded to kill the lamb, take the blood and eat the sacrifice.
Why? Because they were a motley group of people about to be born a nation—chosen by the Most Holy God! And the Holy God required that propitiation be made for that sinful congregation.
NOTE: This is the first time that the Children of Israel were called “a congregation.” Not since their first complaints about their bondage in slavery was it recorded that they would do something together—with one accord—the 10th day of the month and year just beginning. At that point, they would select the unblemished kid or lamb to sacrifice to the Lord; and at dusk of the 14th day, the whole congregation would kill the lambs together.
This corporate action would take place at full moon so that all Egypt would be able to see. They could see the smearing of blood on the lintel and sides of the doorways of the Israelites and would be able to inquire of the meaning of this action.
Then, the Lord, or His angel, would go through the land and strike death to the firstborn of every household with the exception of those whose house displayed the blood of the lamb. For, says the Lord God,
On all the gods of Egypt, I will execute judgments: I am the Lord. The blood [of the sacrifices] will be a sign for you, on the houses where you are. And when I see the blood, I will pass over you,
and no plague will befall you to destroy you, when I strike the land of Egypt.” (Exodus 12, ESV)
Later, Passover became an annual feast and was observed at the tabernacle and later the temple. “There you shall offer the Passover sacrifice.”
(In addition, other offerings/sacrifices were included in the cultic system such as the burnt offering, sin offering and peace offering.)
The primary purpose of animal sacrifice was to make atonement for sin. "For the life of the flesh is in the blood, and I have given it for you on the altar to make atonement for your souls." (Leviticus 18:11)
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Later, the temple was the place to offer the Passover sacrifices. But when that was destroyed by the Romans, what then? At that point, the whole cult of the sacrificial system had no city. No center. No place for the congregation of Israel. It was finished—all of the sacrifices including the burnt offering--finished.
And the priesthood was declared null and void.
But the prayers and the prayer books expanded as if there were still a temple, a priesthood and altars—on and on as if to take up all the time required to offer a sacrifice.
Let me quote some Jewish authors:
David S. Ariel: What Do Jews Believe? “Torah learning, prayer and moral goodness became the central rituals of Judaism.” Moral goodness a ritual? And this: “Formal prayer was made an alternative to the sacrifices.” Hm-m.
This one from Hillel Halkin, a well-known essayist, author, translator—a man of the world and a Reform (liberal) Jew, comments on the newer Siddur (prayerbook). As you will see, words cannot convey what the blood can:
“The flow of blood always shocks. It mesmerizes. Even cutting a finger causes a shiver of horror and excitement through us that no pain or ache can duplicate. The few drops that are quickly staunched by a
band-aid are the life beginning to leave us. The blood gushing from an animal’s throat at an altar needs no words. It is wordless prayer, just as prayer is bloodless sacrifice…But the traditional "musaf" (meaning "additional prayer") expressed a passionate wish… the wish to be able to offer to God what is most precious— and what is most precious is not words that we say day in and day out. Words are what the siddur (prayer book)has accumulated, more and more of them, as though in the fear that there can never be enough….None grabs us and shakes us until we feel faint. We yearn for the prayer that cuts to the quick like a knife.”
(Jewish Review of Books, Spring, 2010)
NOTE: that word “Musaf” which means an additional part of the service
What is additional? ANSWER: More praying. More and more praying making the congregants tired. But that extra praying is intended to be sufficient to make up for no sacrifice on an altar. REPEAT: Ariel and Halkin are exposing the vacuum in Judaism: more praying has become just a substitute for the real thing—SACRIFICE.
Says Halkin, we the Jews yearn, not for more and more prayers, but for the sacrifice in the worship…for that which will cut us to the quick.
We know that the Orthodox Jews yearn for the sacrifice. But the worldly, liberal, Reform Jews like Halkin and his liberal friends--they, too, in their hearts—even some of them long for that shocking flow of blood that grabs and shakes the worshipper. In their hearts, they miss the real thing--the blood of the lamb spilt. That, more than all the words in prayer, more than even those mosefs--the additional prayers--would cut to the quick and dramatize the atonement made for sinful lives.
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But we cannot conclude this essay until we do recognize the true Passover that does indeed transfix the world. Yes, the place was Jerusalem on Mount Golgotha where Abraham travelled to sacrifice Isaac (and was stopped by the angel)….and the spot where the Holy Lamb of God—Yeshua (Jesus) was taken to be poured out as a sacrifice for the sins of the world.
Truly shocking! “Behold the Lamb of God.”
Write something about yourself. No need to be fancy, just an overview.