This week as I was continuing my reading through the book of Exodus, I came across an interesting rendering of the night of the Exodus as it is translated in the NRSV. But first allow me to set the context because there is something quite extraordinary in this passage.
In Exodus 12 we read the account of the institution of the Passover on the eve of the Exodus. We know that the Exodus was a response of God’s faithfulness to His own covenant promise, as well as the cry of His people in the land of Egypt. We also know that the Passover is ultimately fulfilled in our Lord Jesus Christ who was betrayed on the eve of the Passover...and so Passover gave way to Easter as the symbol gave way to the reality.
The particular verse that I was astounded at when I came across it is Ex 12:42. Unfortunately, the way it is rendered in the KJV (for example) does not carry the full impact of what the verse says in the original Hebrew. Here is the KJV rendering:
“It is a night to be much observed unto the LORD for bringing them out from the land of Egypt: this is that night of the LORD to be observed of all the children of Israel in their generations.”
The ESV rendering is slightly better:
“It was a night of watching by the Lord, to bring them out of the land of Egypt; so this same night is a night of watching kept to the Lord by all the people of Israel throughout their generations.”
But, I really like the way that the NRSV renders the verse:
“That was for the Lord a night of vigil, to bring them out of the land of Egypt. That same night is a vigil to be kept for the Lord by all the Israelites throughout their generations.”
So you can imagine my surprise as I was reading Exodus 12, looking specifically for the ways in which the Passover is fulfilled in the Sacrifice of our Lord, and then I stumble across the NRSV rendering of v42. I don’t know about you, but I thought that this was amazing. Israel was called to hold a vigil on the eve of the Passover in remembrance of that the Lord Himself kept vigil when He faithfully delivered them out of the hand of the Egyptians. But more than that, my mind was immediately driven to Gethsemane where our Lord kept agonising vigil, sweating drops of blood, in anticipation of His delivering us from our bondage to sin. And so it is that in remembrance of the vigil that He held for us on that fateful night, that we hold vigil each and every year on the Holy Thursday in remembrance of the vigil that our Lord kept for us.