In the quest to describe the proper view of the Old Testament Passover, I think I need to take a moment to address some common rebuttals. After this post I will finish showing that children were INVITED to the meal, and indeed required at the first Passover. For now we are addressing the fact that not all people were required throughout Israel’s history to be present at the festivals.
In the Old Testament, despite travelling obstacles, God showed the family to be ONE (The HEAD of family covered the household’s requirement, although all members were invited).
In the New Testament, with freedom from travelling obstacle, the Covenantally UNIFIED family is shown to be WHOLE (ALL members can partake).
The move is not from corporate to individual participation, but from head of family to all members of the family. Without the family, the children would not be baptized, or presumed faithful, or commune.
We have not left covenant for individualism, we have gone to covenant in full freedom.
We have gone from the LEAST PERMISSIBLE PARTICIPATION to the GREATEST POSSIBLE PARTICIPATION.
When people argue against the use of Passover as a model for invitation to the Lord’s table, they mention that only males were required to keep the Passover, so it wasn’t necessary that the whole house be present (Dt 16.16):
“You may not offer the Passover sacrifice within any of your towns that the LORD your God is giving you, 6but at the place that the LORD your God will choose… 16Three times a year all your males shall appear before the LORD your God”
Who are ALL YOUR MALES?
“All your males” includes the male children. It certainly does in Gen 17.10 in the command for circumcision. In fact, it USUALLY means infants there. The circumcised group was required to show up three times a year to the feasts.
Who is INVITED?
Women were not required at the meal by the letter of the Law in Deuteronomy 16. Were they allowed? It is clear in the New Testament Jesus’ whole family traveled for the feasts (Luke 2.41-52) which would mean that Jesus went as well.
What Does the New Testament Difference Teach Us?
The male representation change to plenary participation in the New Testament actually teaches us that children should be brought to the table.
A baptistic argument says that the New Testament shifts to focus covenant celebration from corporate to INDIVIDUAL in the New Testament. But if history and paedobaptists are correct, then such is surely NOT the case. First what was going on in the OT, and then what does the NT teach us newly?
Circumcision of the males “covered” the household. The family was shown as a UNIT.
Baptism still is by family, but now ALL are baptized bringing UNITY together with FULLNESS. The family as a whole, but ALL members.
Such is communion. For we also must say that as women are required to partake in the New Testament, they were permitted in the Old to do so.
The difference is not corporate versus individual; rather, The Family as UNITY, becomes The Unified Family in FULL.
The Passover requirement of at least the males showed the unity of the family despite the limitation of distant travel. Today we are free to eat “in your towns.” So our women are happily granted more glorious access to the meal.
Let us see the place settings at the meal not according to who is required to eat in the Old Testament (for women would not commune today if we LIMITED BY OT REQUIREMENT). Let us see the place settings at the meal according to who was INVITED in both Old and New.
The whole family was invited in the Old Testament, and the whole family is invited in the New Testament. In the OT, natural human physical limitations to travel were the limiters, NOT LAW. And in the NT, now that we are FREE to eat in our cities (Dt 16.5) the natural human physical limitations of being old enough to chew is the limitation, NOT THE LAW. God’s hand is open to all his growing children.
If we limited today based on OT requirements instead of invitation, it would work against the GLORIOUS NEW FREEDOM OF LOCAL ACCESS FOR THE WHOLE OF THE FAMILY…. but we are still covenantally unified.
THE MOUNTAIN, THE FOUNTAIN, THE GARDEN
Credit is due here to James Jordan and Jamie Soles for the thought in this last section. I am the one thinking through this exact application, but they should get credit for anything both imagistic and right that I am saying in this conclusion.
Eden was at the top of a high place, with waters flowing out, and a command to fill the earth with garden dominion.
If a family is a mountain, then the father is the peak, and from him flows down the blessings of the family covenant. Imagine there are two mountains, one barren and drab, and the other having a fountain and garden, but only at the top.
This is the comparison between the Gentile family, and the Hebrew family in the Old Testament. The New Testament does not make the base levels of the mountain split off into individual gardens. The garden and waters flow down. The family is not a bunch of little hills, it is a fully green mountain.