As morning sun lasered through the
stitched seams of Nahshon’s tent onto my eyelids, I realized I’d slept way
passed dawn. I tried to get up, but since my circumcision, every move caused
excruciating pain. With gritted teeth, I stood to my feet and peeked through
the door flap. Our chosen lamb leaped and baaed in joyful play with Nahshon’s giggling
children. Tonight I would have the privilege of celebrating Passover with my
new friends. In these four days, I too had become very fond of the soft little
lamb and it had become his children’s pet. Surely Nahshon would not sacrifice
this lamb now when he could just as easily choose another.
I scarfed down the manna cakes left for my breakfast and went in search
of Ithamar. As I drew closer to the Tabernacle, the curtained structure that
seemed so ominous a few days ago, I heard Eleazar’s voice. Just outside the east-facing
tapestry gate, he and Ithamar were instructing the priest trainees and Levites.
“In the past,” Eleazar explained, “Our twilight Passover sacrifices were
unorganized. But this year, Ithamar and I are determined to perform them in a
more efficient manner.”
“This where you come in,” Ithamar interjected, spotting me as I strolled
into view. “Ah, here is our new proselyte. Meet Oreb, the Midianite.”
Although I was already acquainted with some, they did not know I was a
Midianite. I saw fear in their eyes. My people had played a sad part in
seducing Israel with Baal of Peor and because of this, God sent a plague. Twenty-four
thousand Israelites died until Phinehas, Eleazar’s son, grandson of Aaron the
priest, zealously turned back the wrath of God.
“I have come in peace.” I said, trying to calm them. “I believe your God
is the true God and I want to know Him as you do. My traveling companions
returned home when faced with circumcision. Meeting God was my quest, not
theirs. But they mean you no harm nor do I.”
With tension eased and priestly instruction concluded, we returned to
Nahshon’s tent and my lessons. For two days Ithamar taught about God’s miracles,
why Israel is forced to wander in this wilderness, and the glorious day God
spoke from the mountain. However today I would hear more of Passover; how Ithamar
believes this sacrifice points to something greater, yet that meaning has eluded
My ears heard nothing but Ithamar, not even the children when they scurried
into the tent after the lamb. Nor did I hear their mother’s scolding.
As Ithamar departed, Nahshon arrived and announced, “It’s time.”
Like taking a cue from a director, the children shouted in unison, “No
Salmon clung to the little lamb and sobbed. Some ran to their mother in
tears and the two youngest sat on Papa’s feet trying to hold him back.
Heartbroken, I blocked Nahshon and attempted to reason with him. “Maybe
just this once you choose another. What would be the harm?”
When he raised his head, I saw agony in his eyes. “Do you think this is
easy?” He whispered. “It’s the hardest thing I have to do. I don’t want to hurt
my children. Nevertheless it’s God’s Law and it is much easier to sacrifice a
lamb than my son.” Nahshon gently removed the children from his feet, detached Salmon’s
arms, and lifted the lamb. Caressing the tiny creature, he continued, “Those
were the choices Egypt and Israel faced. I was firstborn. The blood of a lamb
Then, like a jolt of lightning I understood.
This precious lamb is our innocent substitute. It dies in our place. Someday God
will send the greater lamb and these painful sacrifices will cease. But until
then, we sacrifice, because our salvation is paid by the blood of the lamb.
“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. …Christ
died for our sins according to the Scriptures…He was buried, and…He rose again
the third day according to the Scriptures...” (I Cor. 5:7, I Cor. 15:3-4).