Preparing for the Passover Meal
Out of tune.
Text: Ps 37:23 The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord, And He delights in his way.
I. The context of the verse
Psalms 37 is meant to be read and feel great about being in right relationship with God. Let me just share some of the words and phrases from the psalm: do not fret, trust, do good, dwell, feed on His faithfulness, delight yourself in the Lord, commit your way, our righteousness, our justice, rest in the Lord, wait patiently, cease anger, forsake wrath, wait on the Lord and inherit the earth, meek, delight in peace (shalom), depart from evil, do good, keep His way.
The admonition is to a righteous person (a person in right relationship with all of the personalities in his life as well as all of the tasks in his life). The psalm directly describes this “righteous man” thus: the Lord upholds, the Lord knows him, not shamed, shows mercy, gives, steps established, God delights in him, not forsaken, family blessed, his future- peace.
The psalm concludes with the knowledge that salvation, strength, help and deliverance come from the Lord. Why can this righteous man expect this from the Lord? The answer is because he trusts God.
Our text says good man and yes we are talking about a righteous person since that is the context of the psalm. Our actual word is not the Hebrew word pointing directly to a righteous person but a word that describes a person as a warrior, an overcomer, a person with an inner strength that makes him willing to fight. His steps are not ordered in a Calvinistic sense, but they are stable and established because of this person is fighting to walk in the ways that God would have him walk. The key point is that God notices, watches (encourages) this person to the point of delighting in this person’s life.
II. Why is reading psalms 37 not an edifying experience?
Are you a righteous person? Are you a person in right relationship with all of the personalities in his life as well as all of the tasks in his life? Start with God and work your way through the people of your life. Start with living for God and work your way through all of the tasks and rolls of your life.
Are you a person willing to fight your way through the affairs of life in a godly way? Matt 11:12 And from the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven suffers violence, and the violent take it by force.
It is tough to read scripture when you are not in right relationship with God. Chances are that if that God relationship is damaged all of your other relationships are a bit frayed. If your God given task of living life while trying to figure it out is too much for you, chances are that reading the Psalm is just another dry religious exercise.
Eccl 1:13-14 And I set my heart to seek and search out by wisdom concerning all that is done under heaven; this burdensome task God has given to the sons of man, by which they may be exercised. 14 I have seen all the works that are done under the sun; and indeed, all is vanity and grasping for the wind.
Eccl 3:9-13 What profit has the worker from that in which he labors? 10 I have seen the God-given task with which the sons of men are to be occupied. 11 He has made everything beautiful in its time. Also He has put eternity in their hearts, except that no one can find out the work that God does from beginning to end. 12 I know that nothing is better for them than to rejoice, and to do good in their lives, 13 and also that every man should eat and drink and enjoy the good of all his labor — it is the gift of God.
The problem is that the music coming from your heart is out of tune. You are not a tree of life but a tree full of fruit that matches the state of your spirit which is a reflection of your relationship with God.
Join the human race, but not in a downhill run but in an upturn of faith that can renew your spirit.
III. The Personal Sacrifices of the Passover
The Passover meal was meant to be a highlight of Jewish life. The meal pointing to the mighty deliverance wrought by God for the Jewish people was a time of remembering and celebrating. But, if the heart was not right, the celebration would pass us by despite our attendance.
God had instituted the sacrificial system for the Jews. The sacrificial system was given to the Jews along with the law. It seems that God knew.
The substitute blood of the animal connecting sinful man to life giving God was necessary for the sacrificial system to be effective in bringing life into one who was living with the shadow of death by sin.
This blood represents or is a foreshadowing of the blood of Jesus or “the blood of the eternal covenant” in Heb 13:20.
Thus the participants of the Passover were encouraged to get things right with God before sitting down to enjoy the Passover meal.
In Leviticus we see several sacrifices described. One is the sin offering. The animal’s blood in procured representing the life of the animal linking the man to God through the substitution blood. The life of God flows into the man cleansing him from his sin. The meat of the animal is eaten by the priests and part is burned upward to God.
The sin offering was usually followed by the burnt offering. The procured blood of the animal links the man with God in covenant relationship and the burnt offering represents the man’s total surrender to God. The entire animal is burnt upward to God.
This is followed by the peace offering. The blood represents the union that the man has with God. The sin that had disturbed that union has been dealt with. The attitude of the man has been made right through surrender represented by the burnt offering. The peace offering is meant now to be that picture of a feast that would follow the ritual of entering into blood covenant relationship. The picture of the feast is seen in that the priest eats some of the meat, some is burned upward to God and we get to partake in the feast.
It is a picture of a modern altar call. Recognizing the problem of sin in our lives with a risen hand is like the sin offering, coming forward to pray and repent but also to surrender your life to do the will of God is like the burnt offering. Returning to life right with God, forgiving those who need forgiving and actively enjoying the fellowship of the church is like the peace offering.
The blood covenant needs to be the phrase we understand whenever we see the word covenant in the bible (there might be a few times where written agreement is meant rather than blood covenant). We follow the blood with Abraham offering to God blood through circumcision covering him and his posterity. Abraham follows up this commitment to God by offering up his only son. God will stop him and illustrate to us what God is willing to do for us for the sake of his commitment to the covenant. The Passover sees God using the substitution blood of the lamb to illustrate His commitment to the blood covenant. The law is given and ratified with substitution blood coming from both parties. The Jews will begin their life in the sacrificial system using the substituting blood of animals, but will always be reminded that the blood of animals is just a picture of the true blood that is to come.
1 Peter 1:19 but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot.
Hebrews 10:5-9 Therefore, when He came into the world, He said: “Sacrifice and offering You did not desire, But a body You have prepared for Me. 6 In burnt offerings and sacrifices for sin You had no pleasure. 7 Then I said, ‘Behold, I have come — In the volume of the book it is written of Me — To do Your will, O God.’” 8 Previously saying, “Sacrifice and offering, burnt offerings, and offerings for sin You did not desire, nor had pleasure in them”(which are offered according to the law), 9 then He said, “Behold, I have come to do Your will, O God.” He takes away the first that He may establish the second.
Revelation 13:8 All who dwell on the earth will worship him, whose names have not been written in the Book of Life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world.
1 Cor 5:7-8 Therefore purge out the old leaven, that you may be a new lump, since you truly are unleavened. For indeed Christ, our Passover, was sacrificed for us. 8 Therefore let us keep the feast, not with old leaven, nor with the leaven of malice and wickedness, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.