This month shall be unto you the beginning of months; it shall be the first month of the year unto you. Exodus 12:2 KJV
This month shall be the beginning of months for you; it is to be the first month of the year to you. Exodus 12:2 NASB
The initial plagues were past, and Pharaoh had hardened his heart against God. The land and the lord of the land were ripe for the final stroke of judgment God was about to bring on the land – the Passover night of destruction. As Exodus 12 opens, God declared, to the people, that He was not only changing their conditions and captivity, but also changing their calendars. Redemption would change everything. They would now begin to reckon time by a new standard.
In light of that, we would have expected the Lord to tell them to immediately sacrifice a Passover lamb and move out of Egypt that very night. But the exodus would not be for another fourteen days; yet they were to reckon the first day of the month as a new beginning. Why the delay?
Several reasons can be suggested as to the purpose of the “gap” between the instructions to prepare for the Passover, and the actual event itself.
Everything Begins with God
One reason is that we must never forget that the plan of redemption resided in the heart of God long before the world began. All God’s counsels are timeless and eternal. Paul tells us of the promise of eternal life which God made before the world began (Titus 1:2) and of God’s purpose and grace which was given to us in Christ before the world began (2 Tim 1:9). Redemption was not an emergency response of God to our need. It was not a desperate attempt to salvage something from the havoc Satan had brought into the world. Here was God’s masterpiece, the culmination of His wisdom and the revelation of His ultimate purpose for His Son.
The Thoughtfulness of God
The 14th day, the day of exodus, was also important because, in contrast to the first day of the month, it was a full moon. Hebrew months are lunar and not solar. They are reckoned by the phases of the moon. The 14th day would coincide with the full moon. That meant that the people of God left Egypt with the light of heaven shining on their path. They did not leave in darkness. As they made their way into a wilderness scene, they had light shining on the path to direct them. How kind of God; what a display of His thoughtfulness and care for His own.
The Miracle at Calvary
Perhaps, however, the most significant reason lay centuries in the future. Fifteen hundred years later, on skull-hill, His Son was suspended on a cross. That scene was marked by physical signs which were intended to speak to both the heathen soldiers and the Jewish nation. The earthquake would have alarmed pagans. The rent veil was intended to arouse the consciences of the Jewish leaders. But perhaps the most solemn and sobering of signs was the three hours of darkness. It would speak to everyone, regardless of ethnic or religious background. Occurring as it did on the 14th or Passover day, it would have coincided with a full moon. An eclipse is not possible during a full moon. So there would be no natural explanation for the eclipse. Only divine intervention could explain the event. God was giving testimony to an entire universe, clear testimony of the uniqueness and significance of what was occurring at Calvary.
There may be other reasons for the gap in time from the first until the fourteenth day. Certainly the importance of the 10th to the 14th day must be factored into the situation.