Celebrities frequently crash and burn in flagrantly flamboyant ways. Their home lives implode and their careers slide. Other people often weather huge career upheavals by keeping their home lives strong and stable. Never underestimate how important it is to keep your house strong regardless of the storms and tempests you are fighting outside. Likewise, don’t underestimate how far a colleague’s performance could drop should he or she be undergoing the destruction of a house. This is one of the lessons of Passover being celebrated this week.
The Passover Seder’s ritual is largely based on this verse. It appears after the Exodus from Egypt has already taken place.
And it shall be when your son will ask you at some future time,
‘What is this?’ you shall say to him,
‘With a mighty hand God took us out of Egypt,
from the house of bondage.’
To guarantee intergenerational continuity, we encourage the next generation to ask why we celebrate the Seder. We respond with three thematic elements: (i) a mighty hand; (ii) a taking out; (iii) a house of bondage.
The first, ‘mighty hand’ is often found throughout the account of the plagues. We even spot it earlier than this, back at the Burning Bush:
And I know that the king of Egypt will not allow you to go
except through a mighty hand.
The second theme, ‘Taking or going out’ is also found many times in the Exodus story.
However, the third thematic element, 'House of Bondage' is new. We’ve only seen this phrase once before, eleven verses earlier:
Moses said to the people, 'Remember this day on which you went
out from Egypt, from the House of Bondage…’
Later we see it again in the first of the Ten Commandments:
I am the Lord your God who took you
out of Egypt from the House of Bondage.
It occurs again five times in the book of Deuteronomy.
While in Egypt the Israelites experienced the ‘mighty hand’ and the ‘going out’. But the phrase, 'House of Bondage' appears and is emphasized only after the Exodus is over.
We do see a different 'house' playing a significant role during the religious trigger that launched the Exodus; the Passover sacrifice, or the Pascal Lamb.
In one house shall it be eaten…
And we see that 'house' being marked by blood:
They shall take some of its blood and place it on the two doorposts
and on the lintel of the houses in which they will eat it.
Ancient Jewish wisdom reveals the relationship between the two houses; the Egyptian house of bondage and the Hebrew house of deliverance.
In many languages, the word house can mean a school of thought, a culture, an organization or any group of people bound by a common vision.
There were two parallel parts to the Exodus. God took the Israelites physically out of Egypt, freeing them from slavery, oppression and suffering. However, they also needed to be taken out of the house of bondage, to leave Egypt spiritually. This is much more difficult. Often, it is easier to rescue someone from a traumatic circumstance than to expunge the psychological effects of the trauma.
The Israelites needed to be freed from the long-lasting psychological effects of slavery. On that special night of the Exodus, God began the process of taking us out of the Egyptian house of bondage by re-consecrating family integrity. Each family gathered inside its own house with its own Pascal Lamb, signaling the rebuilding of the family - blood relatives - as the primary group. The house of deliverance can overcome the house of bondage. That is not a one-time deliverance but instead is a battle each generation needs to fight, including in our own times.
I encourage you to embark on a program of consecrating your own house of deliverance by recommitting yourself and your family to a program of regular Bible study together.