JUST LIKE CLOCKWORK
Analysis by Marcus Felde
The LORD said to Moses and Aaron in the land of Egypt: 2This month shall mark for you the beginning of months; it shall be the first month of the year for you. 3Tell the whole congregation of Israel that on the tenth of this month they are to take a lamb for each family, a lamb for each household. 4If a household is too small for a whole lamb, it shall join its closest neighbor in obtaining one; the lamb shall be divided in proportion to the number of people who eat of it. 5Your lamb shall be without blemish, a year-old male; you may take it from the sheep or from the goats. 6You shall keep it until the fourteenth day of this month; then the whole assembled congregation of Israel shall slaughter it at twilight. 7They shall take some of the blood and put it on the two doorposts and the lintel of the houses in which they eat it. 8They shall eat the lamb that same night; they shall eat it roasted over the fire with unleavened bread and bitter herbs. 9Do not eat any of it raw or boiled in water, but roasted over the fire, with its head, legs, and inner organs. 10You shall let none of it remain until the morning; anything that remains until the morning you shall burn. 11This is how you shall eat it: your loins girded, your sandals on your feet, and your staff in your hand; and you shall eat it hurriedly. It is the passover of the LORD. 12For I will pass through the land of Egypt that night, and I will strike down every firstborn in the land of Egypt, both human beings and animals; on all the gods of Egypt I will execute judgments: I am the LORD. 13The blood shall be a sign for you on the houses where you live: when I see the blood, I will pass over you, and no plague shall destroy you when I strike the land of Egypt.
14This day shall be a day of remembrance for you. You shall celebrate it as a festival to the LORD; throughout your generations you shall observe it as a perpetual ordinance.
Step 1: Initial Diagnosis (External Problem) : Tick, tock.
The children of Israel are slaves, which is to say that their time is not their own. They don’t run the calendar any more than they decide when to show up for work and when to leave. They are at the beck and call of a “superior” people, who own them. The drama of Moses prying the Lord’s people out of Egypt is full of references to specifics of time, and they all remind us how precious time is.
Step 2: Advanced Diagnosis (Internal Problem) : Cuckoo!
But dare they listen to Moses? He says “Do this today” and “Do this tomorrow.” But aren’t they supposed to listen to the Pharaoh? When Moses laid out the plan for the Passover, he was taking aim at the people’s internal bondage. Deeply inscribed in their way of thinking was the obligation they had to obey a ruler who was not their ruler, and gods “all the gods of Egypt” which were not their gods. As would be exposed later, along their trail of tears, bondage was a tough thing to part with.
Step 3: Final Diagnosis (Eternal Problem) : The Clock Stops Here
But time must not be wasted, Moses said. This is urgent! Do this, now! Because death is awaiting those who do not step away from their alien liege lords and return to the Lord’s fold. Judgments will be executed not only upon those who have stolen the Lord’s sheep but also upon those sheep who will not listen to their master’s voice. For whom does the bell toll? If you don’t get this blood on your lintel in the next twenty minutes or so, the bell will be tolling for you! The deadline is midnight.
Step 4: Initial Prognosis (Eternal Solution) : The Clock Starts Here
There is a lamb in this picture. This reminds us that Christ, our Passover, is sacrificed for us, so that we might not die, but live. So that we might escape our bondage (space/time) and “worship our God,” as the Israelites had begged Pharaoh to let them do. His sacrifice on the cross, done at a particular historical moment, becomes an eternal, unending, new-every-day birth of new beginning, new life, resurrection. He died; we live.
Step 5: Advanced Prognosis (Internal Solution) : Time to Eat
“This is how you shall eat it,” Moses said. “This is how you shall eat it,” Jesus says to us on another occasion: “to remember me.” “So that you don’t forget me.” We eat our Passover as people who believe in the One who was, who is, and who is to come. That one, not old Chronos, is our Lord and God. This ordinance is indeed perpetual.
Step 6: Final Prognosis (External Solution) : World without End
We live fearlessly, recklessly, crossing Red Seas daily and helping other people cross them, because the reign of principalities and powers has been broken. Their eras are over, as far as we are concerned. Once we were no people, but now, by gum, we are a people. A holy people, God’s own people. We live like people who have been given a new lease on life, a clean bill of health, and all sorts of ways of being slaves to the whole world, servants of all, in the freedom of those who know no ruler except God.