A Community Celebrates
2 Kings 23:21–25; 2 Chronicles 35; Prophets and Kings, pp. 392–406
God’s family celebrates His love together.
“They celebrate your abundant goodness and joyfully sing of your righteousness” (Psalm 145:7).
Think about the best celebration you ever had. It may have been a birthday or Christmas. What made it so special? King Josiah and the Israelites had a very special celebration together. Let’s read about it.
Josiah had achieved much during his reign. The Israelites broke down their idols, and the Book of the Law had been found in the temple. After reading the Book of the Law, Josiah wanted to celebrate the people’s decision to follow God. The Passover had not been celebrated for many years. So he decided to gather everyone together for a big community celebration.
Normally, people celebrated the Passover feast with their families or their neighbors. Josiah recognized that not everyone would be able to afford to sacrifice an animal. So he gave 30,000 sheep and goats, and 3,000 cattle. Other leaders wanted to help too. They gave thousands of animals for Passover offerings.
The Passover celebration was to remind the Israelites of their time as slaves in Egypt. Pharaoh, the Egyptian king, refused to let the Israelites go. So God sent 10 plagues to force Pharaoh to set the Israelites free. The plagues were terrible. Water turned to blood. Frogs were everywhere. Darkness, lice, and hailstones added more pain. But the tenth plague was the worst.
It would involve taking the life of the firstborn of families in Egypt. However, God had instructed Israelite families to sacrifice a lamb and put its blood on the doorposts. It was to be a sign. When the angel saw the blood, he would pass over that house. If the angel did not see blood on the doorposts, the firstborn would die. The Israelites obeyed God. So that night, when the angel came, he took the life of the firstborn of every Egyptian family.
The Passover feast also showed people how God would save them from sin. The lamb sacrificed during the feast represented Jesus, the Messiah, who would die on the cross for everyone’s sins.
The Passover feast included special food. The people ate unleavened bread— bread without yeast. It was flat bread. At the time of the first Passover, there was no time to let the bread rise. Yeast also reminded the people of sin, and how it could come silently into their lives. The lamb was roasted and eaten with bitter herbs. The bitter herbs reminded the Israelites of the hard time they had as slaves.
When Passover day came, all the priests stood in their places to celebrate the Passover for the people. They divided all the people into family groups. Then they sacrificed the animals, roasted them, and gave the meat to the people.
No work was allowed during Passover. The people enjoyed plenty of food and wonderful music. After the Passover, the people celebrated the Feast of Unleavened Bread together for seven days. All this time was spent in celebration of God’s goodness. He had saved His people. And they would never forget it.