The Night to be Observed

By COGwriter

The night after Passover is observed by many Jews as Passover. And some Jews keep Passover on two consecutive nights. Yet those of us in the Continuing Church of God keep the two consecutive nights, but as observance of two different events.

Jews seem to consider two nights as Passover, with the bulk observing the 15th.

The first night, which occurs right after sunset on the beginning of the 14th of Nisan/Abib, is Passover. On Passover, baptized members partake of small portions of unleavened bread and wine that were symbols of the body and blood of the true Lamb of God, Jesus Christ (for more on Passover, please see Passover and the Early Church).

The second night, which occurs right after sunset on the beginning of the 15th of Nisan/Abib, is commonly called "the night to be much observed" (Exodus 12:42, KJV/ASV), and is actually the first official day of the seven days of unleavened bread. Though the entire 8 days is sometimes referred to in the Bible as "Passover" or the days of unleavened bread. Because of this, some Jews got confused, forgot the distinction, and now observe these two consecutive evenings as Passover (though most only observe the second evening, and call it Passover).

Here is proof from the Jewish Encyclopedia that the Jews should realize that Passover is on the 14th and something else happens on the 15th:

Lev. xxiii., however, seems to distinguish between Passover, which is set for the fourteenth day of the month, and (the Festival of Unleavened Bread; ἑορτή τῶν ἀζύμων, Luke xxii. 1; Josephus, "B. J." ii. 1, § 3), appointed for the fifteenth day. Passover. (Jewish Encyclopedia of 1906)

Because Jews tend to emphasize the departure from Egypt and rely on certain non-biblical traditions, they tend to mostly observe only the second date.

But what is the meaning of this evening, called the night to be observed? Why do we in the Church of God observe it?

Two Questions

Before getting going further, perhaps two questions should be dealt with.

Related to the Passover the Bible teaches:

26 And it shall be, when your children say to you, 'What do you mean by this service?' 27 that you shall say, 'It is the Passover sacrifice of the Lord, who passed over the houses of the children of Israel in Egypt when He struck the Egyptians and delivered our households.'" (Exodus 12:26-27, NKJV throughout, except when otherwise noted)

Notice something else that the Bible teaches:

20 "When your son asks you in time to come, saying, 'What is the meaning of the testimonies, the statutes, and the judgments which the Lord our God has commanded you?' 21 then you shall say to your son: 'We were slaves of Pharaoh in Egypt, and the Lord brought us out of Egypt with a mighty hand; 22 and the Lord showed signs and wonders before our eyes, great and severe, against Egypt, Pharaoh, and all his household. 23 Then He brought us out from there, that He might bring us in, to give us the land of which He swore to our fathers. 24 And the Lord commanded us to observe all these statutes, to fear the Lord our God, for our good always, that He might preserve us alive, as it is this day. 25 Then it will be righteousness for us, if we are careful to observe all these commandments before the Lord our God, as He has commanded us.' (Deuteronomy 6:20-25)

The above would seem to be very appropriate for the Night to be Much Observed. And spiritually, the purpose of the Holy Days and testimonies for Christians is to help preserve us spiritually.

Getting back to the the Jews and them keeping both days the same or simply the 15th as Passover, consider that since the Jews had meals on both occasions, and that they connect Passover a lot with actually leaving Egypt, they seem to have lost the distinction between the two days. But as the Bible says, Passover has to do with the sacrifice, its primary emphasis was not leaving Egypt--that leaving Egypt (spiritually) is the emphasis of the Night to be Much Observed.

Accounts Related to Passover Night and the Next Day

The Night to Be Observed reminded the Jews that they should be thankful for God’s deliverance from the bondage of Egyptian slavery (Exodus 12:42), and teaches Christians to be thankful for the reason from the bondage of sin (John 8:34-36).

The Night to Be Observed pictures our taking action to leave spiritual Egypt (cf. Revelation 11:8)--this is something that should cause Christians to rejoice.

Exodus chapter 12 contains the account of the first Passover. It begins with God instructing Moses and Aaron about what they were to teach the people and what was going to happen. This instruction included the taking out of a lamb on the tenth day of this first month, called Abib, and saving it up until the 14th day when it was to be killed at twilight — the beginning of the 14th.

Instructions about the Passover:

21 Then Moses called for all the elders of Israel and said to them, "Pick out and take lambs for yourselves according to your families, and kill the Passover lamb. 22 And you shall take a bunch of hyssop, dip it in the blood that is in the basin, and strike the lintel and the two doorposts with the blood that is in the basin. And none of you shall go out of the door of his house until morning. (Exodus 12:21-22)

The expression “until morning” comes from Hebrew word meaning “the breaking through of daylight,” “coming of daylight,” or the “coming of sunrise.”

So, Israelites did not go out of their homes until after dawn on the 14th.  What happened earlier that night?

29 And it came to pass at midnight that the Lord struck all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, from the firstborn of Pharaoh who sat on his throne to the firstborn of the captive who was in the dungeon, and all the firstborn of livestock. 30 So Pharaoh rose in the night, he, all his servants, and all the Egyptians; and there was a great cry in Egypt, for there was not a house where there was not one dead. 31 Then he called for Moses and Aaron by night, and said, "Rise, go out from among my people, both you and the children of Israel. And go, serve the Lord as you have said. 32 Also take your flocks and your herds, as you have said, and be gone; and bless me also." 33 And the Egyptians urged the people, that they might send them out of the land in haste. For they said, "We shall all be dead." (Exodus 12:29-33)

Notice that Moses and Aaron did NOT go out during the night – that is an incorrect assumption (see Exodus 10:28-29) that many have:

28 Then Pharaoh said to him, "Get away from me! Take heed to yourself and see my face no more! For in the day you see my face you shall die!"

29 So Moses said, "You have spoken well. I will never see your face again." (Exodus 10:28-29)

After the death of the firstborn, Israelites had a number of tasks to complete before leaving Egypt. They were to stay inside their houses until morning, the breaking of daylight, burn the remains of the lambs that had not been eaten, go to the villages and cities where the Egyptians lived and ask them to give them silver, gold, and clothing, gather and load up whatever possessions they were to carry and with their herds and flocks travel on foot, for some as much as twenty miles, to Rameses where their organized journey out of Egypt was to begin. Notice:

34 And the people took their dough before it was leavened, their kneadingtroughs being bound up in their clothes upon their shoulders. 35 And the children of Israel did according to the word of Moses; and they borrowed of the Egyptians jewels of silver, and jewels of gold, and raiment: 36 And the Lord gave the people favour in the sight of the Egyptians, so that they lent unto them such things as they required. And they spoiled the Egyptians. 37 And the children of Israel journeyed from Rameses to Succoth, about six hundred thousand on foot that were men, beside children. 38 And a mixed multitude went up also with them; and flocks, and herds, even very much cattle. 39 And they baked unleavened cakes of the dough which they brought forth out of Egypt, for it was not leavened; because they were thrust out of Egypt, and could not tarry, neither had they prepared for themselves any victual. (Exodus 12:34-39 --King James Version)

The night to be observed is the night that they left Rameses. The night they actually left Egypt.

The Night to be Much Observed

After doing what God them to do, they left.

Exodus 13:18 tells us, “the children of Israel went up in orderly ranks out of the land of Egypt.”

 It’s remarkable that they were able to do accomplish this all by the night after the Passover. Now notice:

Now the sojourn of the children of Israel who lived in Egypt was four hundred and thirty years. And it came to pass at the end of the four hundred and thirty years — on that very same day — it came to pass that all the armies of the LORD went out from the land of Egypt. It is a night of solemn observance to the LORD for bringing them out of the land of Egypt. This is that night of the LORD, a solemn observance for all the children of Israel throughout their generations. (Exodus 12:40-42)

42 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. (Exodus 12:42, KJV)

42 This is the observable night of our Lord, when he brought them forth out of the Land of Ægypt: this night all the children of Israel must observe in their generations. (Exodus 12:42, Original Douay Rheims)

3 And Moses said to the people: "Remember this day in which you went out of Egypt, out of the house of bondage; for by strength of hand the Lord brought you out of this place. No leavened bread shall be eaten. 4 On this day you are going out, in the month Abib. (Exodus 13:3-5, NKJV)

So, the children of Israel celebrate the night of the 15th for then God brought them out of Egypt. And that was on the 15th as Numbers 33 indicates. The children of Israel were happy that they left and rejoiced. Christians should rejoice when they leave spiritual Egypt.

The Bible shows how to differentiate Passover night from Night to be Much Observed by looking at the date each was supposed to fall on (14th or 15th):

On the fourteenth day of the first month at twilight is the LORD’s Passover. And on the fifteenth day of the same month is the Feast of Unleavened Bread to the LORD: seven days you must eat unleavened bread. (Leviticus 23:5-6)

These are the journeys of the children of Israel, who went out of the land of Egypt by their armies under the hand of Moses and Aaron. Now Moses wrote down the starting points of their journeys at the command of the LORD. And these are their journeys according to their starting points: They departed from Rameses in the first month, on the fifteenth day of the first month; on the day after the Passover the children of Israel went out with boldness in the sight of all the Egyptians. For the Egyptians were burying all their firstborn, whom the LORD had killed among them. Also on their gods the LORD had executed judgments. (Numbers 33:1-4)

Passover teaches us our need for the sacrificial Lamb, Jesus Christ, but this is only the beginning of God’s plan of salvation.

The Night to be Much Observed reminds us that we have our part in our ultimate salvation. We must repent of sin and walk out of spiritual Egypt.  This night pictures the beginning of that journey. We learn from this Feast that we cannot stay in Egypt. We are not to be part of this present evil world--Christians must be willing to foresake all. Even as God separated His people from Egypt, we must be separated from modern day Egypt with all of its lures and attractions. Just as ancient Israel had to put forth effort to get out of bondage, so we too must put forth effort to remove ourselves from the bondage of this world. Jesus taught:

33 So likewise, whoever of you does not forsake all that he has cannot be My disciple. (Luke 14:33)

By keeping the Night to Be Observed, Christians demonstrate that a decision has been made to leave spiritual Egypt (cf. Revelation 11:8), foresake all (Luke 14:33), and not lust after the things of this world (1 John 2:15).

The next day continues the official first day of unleavened bread, and is observed by faithful Christians as it has been for centuries (Should Christians Keep the Days of Unleavened Bread?).

How to Keep the Night to be Much Observed

Since this is a night to be observed, how is it to be observed?

The Bible has it coming during the feast of unleavened bread:

6 And on the fifteenth day of the same month is the Feast of Unleavened Bread to the Lord; seven days you must eat unleavened bread. (Leviticus 23:6)

15 You shall keep the Feast of Unleavened Bread (you shall eat unleavened bread seven days, as I commanded you, at the time appointed in the month of Abib, for in it you came out of Egypt; none shall appear before Me empty); (Exodus 23:15)

As it is called a feast and eating was commanded, traditionally, those in the Church of God have tended to have a "potluck" dinner on the Night to be Observed that includes unleavened bread. A dinner that starts, or at least, ends after sunset that night. Someone present should give an appropriate, but not too lengthy, prayer.

Unlike Passover, the night to be observed is open to non-baptized individuals with Church of God interest. So baptized members, their children, other relatives, and those who simply sometimes attend COG services all get together. This night should be a pleasant time.

Normally, which foods will brought by which people will be discussed sometime before, so that there will be a balance of foods. Traditionally, some type of unleavened bread will be part of the meal. Personally, I like to eat something including lamb and 'Middle Eastern' style food, but that is not required for Christians. But it does tend to make the meal more special, whether or not many others can be with you.

While the evening is not intended to be a completely theological one, some will wonder about the meaning of the evening, so mentioning some of what is in this article can be helpful. Someone should ask for a blessing on the food, the evening, and mention that it is the Night to Be Observed in that prayer. Some may wish to watch a YouTube presentation about it: The Night to Be Observed. That evening is a holy day and hence carnal work is not to be done on it, and also conversations should stir away from business deals or such matters.

We learn from this night, which is also the start of the first day of unleavened bread, that we cannot stay in spiritual Egypt--we are not to be part of this present evil world (1 John 2:15-16). Even as God separated His people from physical Egypt, we must be separated from modern day Egypt/Babylon (Revelation 18:4) with all of its lures, lusts, and attractions. While ancient Israel had to put forth physical effort to get out of bondage, so we must put forth spiritual effort to remove ourselves from the bondage of this world.

The Night to be Observed is an annual event that helps picture that Jesus Christ was involved in our spiritual deliverance and that God reigns supreme, even over the biggest powers in the world. By observing it, Christians demonstrate their willingness to forsake all and follow Christ (Luke 14:33).

Let us rejoice on this very special evening.

Thiel B. The Night to be Observed. COGwriter (c) 2009/2010/2011/2012/2013/2014/2015 0909

More information on calendar related issues can be found in the following articles:

Is There "An Annual Worship Calendar" In the Bible? This paper provides a biblical and historical critique of several articles, including one by WCG which states that this should be a local decision. What do the Holy Days mean? Also you can click here for the calendar of Holy Days.
Hebrew Calendar This John Ogywn writing explains why we in the genuine Church of God use the calendar that we do and answers such questions as "Did Jesus Observe the Postponements?"
Passover and the Early Church Did the early Christians observe Passover? What did Jesus and Paul teach? Why did Jesus die for our sins?
TPM: Passover on the 14th or 15th? While the Philadelphia remnant of the COG observe Passover on the 14th, some observe it on the 15th. Why is the 14th correct?

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