By Not Known
In Gen. 15:4-7, as part of the Abrahamic Covenant, God chose Abraham to be the father of many nations. This covenant is not just to him but also to the children after him. Thus, part of Abraham and his descendants’ responsibility is to pass on this covenant to future generations, as a fitting response to the God who has made Himself known.
Exodus is a fulfilment of this covenant. Hence in Exodus 12-13, God made the Exodus into a memorial day throughout all generations. We see this mandate even in the songs of Israel, such as Psalm 78:5-6, where this responsibility is spelt out as a law God has established, as a testimony, for the passing on of this covenantal faith.
In the context of this Abrahamic Covenant, we see this law emphasised seven times in Exodus 12-13 alone. Four times it is established in Exodus 12:14,17,24,42 and three times in Exodus 12:26;13:8,14 as parent-child dialogues occasioned by these commemorations. These perpetual commemorations provide the context for faith to be impressed on the hearts and minds of the young. Hence the observance of the Passover and its associated rites are largely pedagogical at heart.
In fact, the whole social-religious set up of Israel is designed by God to pass on this faith. Their major feasts and sacred gatherings involved the children with all the other family members as households in a congregation, as a sacred assembly (Ex. 12:46-47).
Deut. 4:10 reminds us that forty years later, these twenty-year-olds and below (Num. 20:11), who had grown up were told to recall the day they stood alongside their parents, uncles, aunts, and grandparents in their first national sacred assembly at Mt. Sinai with their leader Moses. That day, they too heard the voice of God and received the Ten Commandments with all the covenant stipulations. They were told to honour God and their parents whose responsibility was to teach them about God. Reinforcing what they had heard, the sacred rhythms of their annual national feasts and weekly Sabbaths would have built into them an identity inseparable from their families, their communities, and their nation’s faith and practices.
What lessons then can we learn from the way God intends this vision for multi-generational covenantal faithfulness to live on? Has God’s ways and God’s means given to His people in the Old Testament changed? If so, in what ways? Are their communal practices still relevant to our individualistic post-modern societies? Or have we structurally isolated ourselves from those we are to pass on our faith to? These are searching questions for us to ponder as we examine the Scriptures in the light of the challenges we face in building within our future generations an identity rooted in our historic faith.