This is the record of the second Passover before the census of Numbers 1:1. We can find a description of the first Passover in Exodus 12. We will look at the events found in Exodus chapters 7-11 to better understand why the Passover is so important.
In Egypt the Israelites had been enslaved and Moses asked the king to let his people go. The king refused so God sent the 10 plagues upon the Egyptian people. The king still refused and finally God had the death angel pass over the land killing all the first born male children. This happened on the night of the first Passover.
God had spoken to Moses and Aaron and gave them instructions that the Israelite people were to follow. Each of the Israelite families was to kill and eat a young sheep. They were to eat all of the sheep along with thin bread and bitter herbs. They would be reminded of their bitter life in Egypt by the taste of the bitter herbs. The bread was thin because there was no yeast in the bread because they could not wait for the bread to rise. The Israelites had to be ready to leave when told.
The blood of the sheep was to be placed around the door to their house. That night when the death angel came all the first born males were slain except at the homes that had the blood of the sheep on the door post. When the death angel saw the blood he would Passover that home. As a result the king on that very night let the Israelite people go.
Now a year has passed and it was time to celebrate the second Passover. It has been celebrated every year since until this day. The Jewish people still today celebrate the Passover. It is very important for them to remember how God rescued them from the Egyptian people.
There was a problem with three groups of people. The people who were unclean could not eat meat from the sacrifices. (Leviticus 7:19-21) The people who were away from the camp, and the people who were not Israelites that had left Egypt with them. When this problem was brought to Moses he waited to hear what God wanted him to do.
God wanted everyone to celebrate the Passover so He made provision for the first two groups of people, the unclean and the absent. They were to celebrate the Passover one month later. The People who were not Israelites could celebrate the Passover with the Jewish people.
This eliminated any excuse for anyone from celebrating the Passover. If anyone refused to celebrate the Passover they were no longer belonging to God’s people. In some cases we see in the Old Testament that people who refused to obey the rules of God’s people would die or were killed. (Genesis 9:11; Isaiah 29:20) Sometimes the Israelite people sent them away and were no longer allowed to live with them. This was to cut them off and to punish them for not obeying God’s command. (Genesis 17:14; Leviticus 7:20-27) Those who refused to obey the Passover were guilty of a crime against God’s Word and were punished and sometimes put to death.
The people who were foreigners to the Israelite people were allowed to celebrate the Passover as long as they followed all the rules of the Jewish nation. This included circumcision as this was a sign of the covenant. (Exodus 12:48)
After the Israelites had escaped from Egypt God led the people through the desert. (Exodus 13:21-22) They did not see God as a cloud or fire covered Him. When they set up God’s Tent God would remain in the tent in the cover of the cloud or fire. On the first day of the second year they set up God’s Tent. All was in preparation to travel to the Promise Land.
The tribe of Levi camped near to God’s Tent and they watched day and night for the cloud or fire of God. When the cloud or fire moved they could tell the Israelite people about it. When the cloud or fire moved the people moved with it. When the cloud or fire stayed the people stayed.