Passover is not a public feast, but a celebration that binds a close-knit faith community together. Its focus is the family, although it was later expanded (under Josiah, see above) to a celebration within the “family” of all Israel. Strangers and sojourners may join, but only upon serious commitment of themselves to this community, a commitment marked by circumcision (12:43–49). In spite of the church’s missionary openness to outsiders, there are times when the church needs to draw the line between those committed fully, through adult baptism or an appropriate re-affirmation of infant baptism, and the casual joiners or inquirers.
Feast of Tabernacles. The Feast of Tabernacles commemorates the period of the wilderness wanderings directly following the exodus from Egypt. It lasted seven days, beginning on the 15th of Tishri. It is also called the Feast of Ingathering, since it gathered the people together after the harvesting season and was the final pilgrim feast of Israel.
The threat to all firstborn in the land, including Israel’s firstborn—or even Israel as a whole, understood as God’s firstborn—is a reminder that the future belongs to God. It is God’s gracious provision that it is placed back into our hands, preserved from destruction by the blood of the lamb/Lamb sacrificed for us (on Passover as a quasi-sacrifice, see notes on 12:1–20). Future generations are to remember this by offering to God what belongs to God, and redeeming what God has allowed to be redeemed.