Scripture: While the people of Israel were encamped at Gilgal, they kept the Passover on the fourteenth day of the month in the evening on the plains of Jericho. And the day after the Passover, on that very day, they ate of the produce of the land, unleavened cakes and parched grain. And the manna ceased the day after they ate of the produce of the land. And there was no longer manna for the people of Israel, but they ate of the fruit of the land of Canaan that year. Joshua 5:10-12 ESV
Observation: The timeline for this first Passover in the Promised Land is the mandated fourteenth day of the first month (Nissan) of the Hebrew lunar calendar (Exodus 12:2, 6, 18), coinciding with a late March date on our Gregorian calendar. The location is the plains of Jericho (v.11), the surrounding territory of the kingdom of Jericho and its fortified city.
With the passing of four decades since the last Passover at Sinai (Numbers 9:1-5), Israel subsequently neglected its observance while wandering in the wilderness. But this is a new beginning, having crossed the Jordan into the land flowing with milk and honey. God’s people no longer needed manna, for they ate of the produce of the land (v.11 above). So the manna ceased during this first Passover celebration (v.12 above), signaling the end of an era marked by emancipation and treachery. Ironically, Israel’s entry here mirrors its exit in Egypt:
- Red Sea (previous generation): Passover, circumcision, crossing.
- Jordan River (present generation): crossing, circumcision, Passover.
So while the Exodus Passover intended to spark a new era in the soon-intended occupation of the Promised Land, Israel’s rebellion would delay entry for forty years.
Takeaway: The parallels to Christ in our text are enumerable. To name three key ones:
- Jesus, our Passover Lamb, has ushered us into a new era (New Covenant) where the Kingdom of God (our Promised Land) is around us here on earth.
- For each person “born again” of the Spirit of God (John 3:1-4), we have crossed through the Living Water (John 4:10) to our Lord’s kingdom (John 3:5).
- While the manna ceased when Israel entered the Promised Land, Jesus declared that he is the true manna from heaven (John 6:32-33).
So what does this mean for us? We celebrate our Passover Lamb on Easter Sunday and throughout the year by consuming the bread and wine to remember our Savior (the body and blood of Christ). And like Israel encamped in enemy territory, we too extend our Lord’s graces amid a world hostile to lost souls. No holy huddles, no playing it safe, for Christ has called us to expand the boundaries of his kingdom empowered by his good graces and the Holy Spirit.
Indeed, we live in an era of new beginnings for each successive generation of believers. We no longer wander in wildernesses of unmitigated sin, shame, and despair. Instead, we have entered our Promised Land, free of condemnation and flowing with the milk and honey of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control (Galatians 5:22-23). Thus, having received Christ’s bountiful blessings, he compels us to press into enemy territory and declare his good news.
Prayer: Father, we are eternally grateful for the gift of your Son, our Passover Lamb, who has ushered in an era of new beginnings where sins are covered and shame is removed. Would you please help us to feast on your Son in the sacrament of Holy Communion and then go forth into your kingdom to share your Son’s good news with others? Amen.
Rev. Gordon Green, M.Div., M.A. Counseling