Think back on your life, on your greatest memories. Your successes, your triumphs. Did you realize that one of your greatest memories should be that of something you never witnessed? How can you remember something that never happened to you? This memory happened far before you were born.
This great memory is that of the exodus from Egypt. And you are, by the time you are reading this, about 3,460 years too young to remember this event. Yet remember it you should. It should be one of your greatest memories. It should be among your greatest celebrations each year.
Your ancient forefathers saw this event in person. To them, God said: “And know ye this day: for I speak not with your children which have not known, and which have not seen the chastisement of the Lord your God, his greatness, his mighty hand, and his stretched out arm, And his miracles, and his acts, which he did in the midst of Egypt unto Pharaoh the king of Egypt, and unto all his land … But your eyes have seen all the great acts of the Lord which he did” (Deuteronomy 11:2-3, 7).
So to prevent this great memory from dying out with the people who witnessed it in person, God instituted a night of remembrance. Exodus 12:41-42 tells us: “And it came to pass at the end of the four hundred and thirty years, even the selfsame day that it came to pass, that all the hosts of the Lord went out from the land of Egypt. 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.” That word observed in the Hebrew means a night watch or a vigil. And this verse instructs God’s people to hold this vigil right down through to our generation today—and beyond.
Exodus 13:4, 8-10 continue: “This day came ye out in the month Abib … And thou shalt shew thy son in that day, saying, This is done because of that which the Lord did unto me when I came forth out of Egypt. And it shall be for a sign unto thee upon thine hand, and for a memorial between thine eyes, that the Lord’s law may be in thy mouth: for with a strong hand hath the Lord brought thee out of Egypt. Thou shalt therefore keep this ordinance in his season from year to year.”
Deuteronomy 16:3 says: “… seven days shalt thou eat unleavened bread … for thou camest forth out of the land of Egypt in haste: that thou mayest remember the day when thou camest forth out of the land of Egypt all the days of thy life.”
You are the product of that early exodus. What happened to your forefathers there in Egypt also happened to you. Whether or not you were there should make no difference to how much you cherish that memory. It is indelibly etched in your history. What our ancestors went through should be fresh in our minds. It should be taught in tradition to our own children in the future.
And if you are a member of the true Church, but not physically a descendant of the Israelite tribes, you are still included in this: All Church members are of the seed of Abraham—of the same spiritual genealogy (Galatians 3:28-29).
And by remembering this Night to be Much Observed, we do not just commemorate an event that happened 3,460 years ago. We are reminded of an exodus that is still happening.—the continual struggle to be free of Egypt, free of sin, and free of the cares of this world that constantly work to cripple us and bring us down. Revelation 18:4 says, “Come out of her, my people, that ye be not partakers of her sins, and that ye receive not of her plagues.” We still struggle for our freedom. And this Night of Remembrance teaches us how to do that.
How? By simple obedience to God’s laws. By doing what God instructs, as the Israelites did in marking their doorposts with the blood of the lamb. By following God’s man, as the Israelites followed Moses, who in turn followed the pillar of fire out of Egypt.
How well do you remember this night of nights? Is it just another night among those of the Days of Unleavened Bread? How vivid is it in your mind? Can you taste the urgency, the tense, hurried spirit of gathering all your belongings and preparing to flee? Can you see the anguished faces of the Egyptians, who had just lost their firstborn sons, throwing their valuables at you, to get you to just leave? Can you feel the jubilation of finally being able to leave Egypt—a land where you had been so mercilessly enslaved—now a free man or woman, leaving with pride, with dignity, with a high hand (Exodus 14:8)? And can you pass this vivid memory on to your children so that they too can remember as if they were there?
Because we are there. We are still leaving Egypt—and we must never forget that. Because the minute we do, we will be sucked right back into slavery. So work hard to remember on this Night to be Much Observed. Never forget it, and continue to leave present-day Egypt with a high hand.