"1 Now the LORD gave the following instructions to Moses and Aaron while they were still in the land of Egypt... 3 Announce to the whole community that on the tenth day of this month each family just choose a lamb or a young goat for a sacrifice... 5 This animal must be a one-year-old male, either a sheep or a goat, with no physical defects. 6 "Take special care of these lambs until the evening of the fourteenth day of this first month. Then each family in the community must slaughter its lamb. 7 They are to take some of the lamb's blood and smear it on the top and sides of the doorframe of the house where the lamb will be eaten. 8 That evening everyone must eat roast lamb with bitter herbs and bread made without yeast... 14 You must remember this day forever. Each year you will celebrate it as a special festival to the LORD... 26 Then your children will ask, 'What does all this mean? What is this ceremony about?' 27 And you will reply, 'It is the celebration of the LORD's Passover... " -Exodus 12:1, 3, 5-8,14,26-27 NLT
One of the key things the Spirit has impressed upon me in my quest to teach my sons God's word is the importance of not cleaning up God's gospel into a nice flannel-graph Easter story. He's drawn me to the Old Testament as a source for what He REALLY wants to impress upon my kids' hearts.
The volume of writings which create the Old Testament speak of Jesus. And it's in the types and pictures God has drawn for us there that we really learn of Him.
I think we do our kids a disservice by sterilizing the gospel for them. When I hear about teens jumping the Christian-family-church-going ship I wonder, "Lord, have they ever trembled at Your word?"
I wonder if many of our kids grow up with our neat little stories and devotionals but they never really see the horror of God's sacrifice for them. They never really are impressed with the great price. They never really get a visual in pews, worship bands, hymnals, seeker-friendly messages, and groups for every classification under the sun.
In Moses' day, a child would see the family lamb, the perfect family lamb, laid down, throat cut, blood poured out and then wiped all over their doors. And each year, if their parents were faithful, they'd hear about the story of God's awful (in the sense of full of awe) deliverance from Egypt and they'd see a spotless lamb slaughtered as a reminder. God says seeing all this would cause their kids to ask, "Why?"
I truly believe as parents we'd quicken the fear of God in our kids (which the scripture says is the beginning of knowing the Holy One- Jesus... see Proverbs 9:10), spark true seeking of answers in them, and cause them to tremble at His word, taking seriously the gospel, if we'd take the time to regularly remember the cross of Christ with them. And I think learning through the Passover is an especially good way for our children to see the price of the cross and learn about the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world.
So that's what we're doing in this house. Last year was our first Passover. It was truly covered by grace as I'm sure in every way it was less than stone-written-law-perfect, but in Spirit it was flawless and penetrating. My kids really did ask, "Why are we doing this mom?" Even my sweet husband asked why I was teaching the kids this, which gave me an awesome oppurtunity to speak the gospel of Christ to Him with joy!
This year, in preparing a little more than last year, my boys and I are studying lambs, bread and plants to help us understand the typology of Christ in the Passover even more.
One of the decisions I made was to let them see a video of a sheep being butchered (after it was dead). I know, I just lost a bunch of you. I promise it is not as graphic as you may think. After I showed this to my boys I read Isaiah 53:7 to them and talked with them about how Jesus is our Lamb who takes away our sins, and how He willingly, and silently died for us.
This left a huge impression on my boys! Boys like gross stuff anyway. Seeing the video and then talking with them about Christ's sacrifice really made them think.
Personally, I hate watching anything die! I don't even watch those videos on Animal Planet of a lion taking down a deer. I just feel it and it makes me shudder. But when it comes to seeing myself in desperated need of Jesus, I need to shudder. If I don't shudder I may not run to Him or taste of His love. I want my kids to shudder and run to Him too!
The other day my husband and I caught a piece of a documentary about animal sacrifice in religions throughout history. As I watched it I thought about how sterilized we are in America.
Our nation is so secular... our meat is purchased in neat little packages in the store without a thought to the mooing cow or bleating lamb that laid down its life so we could have a nice dinner. I thought about how its hard in the culture we live in to really grasp the cross of Christ. We don't suffer and we don't know suffering. We don't see it and if we do we try to hide it. We certainly don't want to walk our dinner down to the local butcher and watch its throat get cut and its body get chopped up and ground so we can eat. But if we did I think we'd have a much greater appreciation for the cross and the story God is trying to get across to us and to our kids through the Passover lamb.
We have such a pretty, clean, American image of Christ in our minds. But the slaughtering of a lamb, blood strewn all over a door, and blood sprinkled over priests, people and offerings... these pictures that God chose to illustrate His story and our salvation are not pretty, neat, clean or American!
I challenge you to take a look at the stories of the Old Testament, the animal sacrifices, the Passover, etc., and picture what that would be like in real life. Picture yourself sprinling blood all over everything. Picture it drying there. The stains. Would our kids ask questions if we had blood all over our doors?
Now, take a look at the One about whom all those graphic pictures were written. Read about the Lamb of God in the New Testament. How would God have you remember the fearful and amazing message of the cross? What can you do to cause your kids to ask why?
Here are some links to videos about sheep, shepherds, Our Shepherd, and even the butchering of sheep. Maybe a little study of these things as a family followed by telling them about the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world is in order?
- Facts About Sheep
- Goat and Sheep Farm Tour
- Psalm 23 The Shepherd and His Sheep
- Psalm 23 sermon intro
- Sheep Butchery
Redeeming the time