Passover: Are You Ready?
With the influx of sunshine, blooming foliage, and quite frankly, bugs, I've found myself sweeping my floors about ten times a day. Seeds and leaves litter my front door as a sign that the earth has come back to life after its winter slumber. And after about the fifth time of sweeping my steps clean, I can't help but wonder if this was the origin of "spring cleaning". Now, I realize that it's probably attributed to the idea of cleaning out one's home after being shut in during the winter for months at a time but the practice has always felt familiar to me. So where did this urge to suddenly clean my toaster with a toothbrush come from? What makes me want to move all the furniture and vacuum every nook and cranny? Why do I want to touch up the paint on my walls and wax my floors?
Well, I can honestly say that its biblical!
In Exodus 12, God commands the Children of Israel to clean their homes out from hametz, or leavening, getting rid of all of it they can find.
14 “This day is to be a memorial for you. You are to keep it as a feast to ADONAI. Throughout your generations you are to keep it as an eternal ordinance. 15 For seven days you are to eat matzot, but on the first day you must remove hametz from your houses, for whoever eats hametz from the first day until the seventh day, that soul will be cut off from Israel. 16 The first day is to be a holy assembly for you as well as the seventh day. No manner of work is to be done on those days, except what is to be eaten by every person—that alone may be prepared by you. 17 So you are to observe the Feast of Matzot, for on this very same day have I brought your ranks out of the land of Egypt. Therefore, you are to observe this day throughout your generations as an eternal ordinance. 18 During the first month in the evening of the fourteenth day of the month, you are to eat matzot, until the evening of the twenty-first day of the month. 19 For seven days no hametz is to be found in your houses, for whoever eats hametz, that soul will be cut off from the congregation of Israel, whether he is an outsider or one who is born in the land. 20 You are to eat no hametz; in all your houses you are to eat matzot.”
The commandment is so strong that it even says that if any hametz is found in their homes, they'll be cut off from the congregation! Can you imagine the urgency with which everyone in the entire community of Israel was suddenly cleaning? Just taking time to clear out every cupboard, every shelf, every square inch of the floor? It must have been amazing! Especially with the promise of deliverance just on the horizon!
This commandment is an eternal ordinance for the children of Israel, for all of their generations. The mandate has been passed down from parent to child to grandchild for centuries - all the way down to me and my family. So, when I feel the inescapable need to clean out my house in the Spring, I should look at my calendar and if Passover is coming up! Usually it is!
So how do I get ready for Passover? I clean. And clean. And clean. And in the process of cleaning my house out of leavening, I also clean out my heart. Rabbi Paul teaches us that our sin is also a version of hametz, one that contaminates our hearts. 1 Corinthians 5:7-8 says:
7 Get rid of the old hametz, so you may be a new batch, just as you are unleavened—for Messiah, our Passover Lamb, has been sacrificed. 8 Therefore let us celebrate the feast not with old hametz, the hametz of malice and wickedness, but with unleavened bread—the matzah of sincerity and truth.
With each sweep of a broom or wipe of a counter, I inevitably wind up talking to my Heavenly Father, pouring out my heart and asking for forgiveness for the hametz that's inside me. All the little crumbs of sin that have been piling up in the corners of my heart end up getting swept away with the hametz in my toaster.
So, as you prepare for this season of deliverance, try a little spring cleaning. Both in your home and your heart. And enjoy remembering that the Passover lamb has been slain and the debt of our sins has been paid. We have been set free!