Exodus 13:17–15:26 & Numbers 28:19–25
This week’s reading is also a bit different because of Passover, so once again we take a break from our regular weekly reading of the parasha and we continue to read the amazing story of Israel’s redemption from the Egyptians.
This week, I would like to write about something slightly different from the above verses, as I believe it’s very relevant and deeply connected to the story of Israel’s redemption, which is also a foreshadowing of our own personal redemption.
Every year before Passover, you’ll find Jewish families working hard to clean our homes, offices, cars, etc. from anything that contains leaven. This is in accordance to God’s command from Exodus 13:7, “Unleavened bread shall be eaten throughout the seven days; and nothing leavened shall be seen among you, nor shall any leaven be seen among you in all your borders.” In many homes, we even keep an extra set of dishes especially for Passover just to ensure there's no hidden leaven. You can imagine what hard work it is to ready our dwellings for the Passover holiday!
Sadly, the focus is so much on the physical cleaning, the cooking of special food, and all kinds of other preparations, that by the time you get to the actual time of telling the amazing story of redemption on Erev Passover (Passover Eve), you are too tired to remember anything! In many cases, it can be quite an agonizing process, which I find to be very sad.
This is not to say the physical cleaning doesn't have merit; in fact, it should be a sign for us to clean not just our homes, but also our hearts. In fact, this year, as we were getting ready in our own home, I asked myself, “What about my own personal Pesach (Passover) cleaning?” We are so focused on the physical that we can easily forget the spiritual act of taking the time to clean our hearts.
On Passover Eve, I was driving with my amazing wife and our three children to where we were going to celebrate the Passover Seder. I shared with them my thoughts about this issue. I asked them what does the leaven represent in our spiritual lives, and they all replied, “sin”. I shared with them my thoughts about the importance of each of us cleaning our hearts as well, since this is what God is ultimately asking us to do, and I challenged us to take the time and ask for forgiveness for anything that we may have done against each other.
As a father and a husband, I must say that the next half hour was a high point in my life and a pure blessing when my son, daughters, wife and I each took time to ask for forgiveness for things that we have done against one other. We were even able to say things that the others might be doing that bothered us, and they in turn asked for forgiveness. Afterwards, I asked my family how they felt, and they replied, “like a weight is being removed”, “good”, “free and clean”. It was a very special moment for us all!
Often, the yoke of religion can become a heavy burden in our lives. Religion is basically us trying to reach God in our own strength, and is often motivated by fear. Anything that we do out of obligation or fear keeps us from truly drawing closer to Him. When we stay focused on obedience from a heart that loves Him, nothing will be burdensome. Yeshua said, “Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you, and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart; and YOU SHALL FIND REST FOR YOUR SOULS. For My yoke is easy, and My load is light” (Matthew 11:28–30).
He broke the yoke of religion, of trying to do life in our own strength. He redeemed us from our iniquities and has given us the freedom to walk in obedience to Him!
In closing, I want to encourage each of you reading my blog to take some time this weekend and do some internal “Passover cleaning”...stop, reflect, and examine your heart. If there's any sin that needs to be “cleaned out”, bring it before Him and be set free from it. It's a truly wonderful feeling!
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