On Wednesday evening this coming week, my family and I will have the privilege to join Jewish people around the world in an ancient tradition called Passover. This feast of remembrance, which God instructed Moses and the children of Israel to keep thousands of years ago, is a generational bond between the Jewish people over the millennia. I have written much about this incredible appointed time, its amazing story, the great reminder of the past and the prophetic connection to the ultimate Passover Lamb, Messiah Yeshua over the years (click here to see past posts for Passover). This year, I would like to focus on a special meaning that Passover holds for us in light of the current pandemic sweeping the globe, COVID-19.
God’s particular instructions to the children of Israel in how they were to observe the first Passover from Exodus 12:1–20 is an important passage for us to understand before we get to the special significance of Passover this year; actually, I would encourage you to read the entire book of Exodus to get a more complete picture of God's deliverance from Egypt. Let's look at Exodus 12 together:
Now Adonai (The Lord) spoke to Moses and Aaron in the land of Egypt saying, “This month will mark the beginning of months for you; it is to be the first month of the year for you. Tell all the congregation of Israel that on the tenth day of this month, each man is to take a lamb for his family one lamb for the household. But if the household is too small for a lamb, then he and his nearest neighbor are to take one according to the number of the people. According to each person eating, you are to make your count for the lamb. Your lamb is to be without blemish, a year old male. You may take it from the sheep or from the goats. You must watch over it until the fourteenth day of the same month. Then the whole assembly of the congregation of Israel is to slaughter it at twilight. They are to take the blood and put it on the two doorposts and on the crossbeam of the houses where they will eat it. They are to eat the meat that night, roasted over a fire. With matzot (unleavened bread) and bitter herbs they are to eat it. Do not eat any of it raw or boiled with water, but only roasted with fire—its head with its legs and its innards. So let nothing of it remain until the morning. Whatever remains until the morning you are to burn with fire. Also you are to eat it this way: with your loins girded, your shoes on your feet and your staff in your hand. You are to eat it in haste. It is Adonai’s Passover.
“For I will go through the land of Egypt on that night and strike down every firstborn, both men and animals, and I will execute judgments against all the gods of Egypt. I am Adonai. The blood will be a sign for you on the houses where you are. When I see the blood, I will pass over you. So there will be no plague among you to destroy you when I strike the land of Egypt.
“This day is to be a memorial for you. You are to keep it as a feast to Adonai. Throughout your generations you are to keep it as an eternal ordinance. For seven days you are to eat matzot, but on the first day you must remove hametz (leaven) from your houses, for whoever eats hametz from the first day until the seventh day, that soul will be cut off from Israel. The first day is to be a holy assembly for you as well as the seventh day. No manner of work is to be done on those days, except what is to be eaten by every person—that alone may be prepared by you. So you are to observe the Feast of Matzot, for on this very same day have I brought your ranks out of the land of Egypt. Therefore you are to observe this day throughout your generations as an eternal ordinance.
“During the first month in the evening of the fourteenth day of the month, you are to eat matzot, until the evening of the twenty-first day of the month. For seven days no hametz is to be found in your houses, for whoever eats hametz, that soul will be cut off from the congregation of Israel, whether he is an outsider or one who is born in the land. You are to eat no hametz; in all your houses you are to eat matzot.”
Exodus 12:1–20 (TLV version)
As I wrote, in our home, we join the people of Israel and take the time to remember and celebrate the Lord's Passover. We would normally join other family members and friends to celebrate together as it is a wonderful night of telling the story, singing, laughing, feasting, and remembering God's faithfulness together. However, this year due to the reality of the Coronavirus, here in Israel, we are not allowed to meet with family and friends for Passover. People are instructed to stay home and are forbidden from big gatherings; even the police are instructed to enforce this more strongly, if necessary. This is a sad reality on one hand, but I also believe this will focus our eyes on the true meaning of this important appointed time, which is not the evening itself and all of the wonderful rituals that come with it, but rather on the One to whom it all points!
So, what is the new meaning to Passover that I mentioned? A key part of telling the story in the Passover is recounting God’s ten acts of wonders (“plagues”) in Egypt. With the new reality of the Coronavirus, which blindsided us, and brought so much fear, panic, anxiety, and uncertainty with it, I have received a new understanding of how people in Egypt must have felt when God displayed His might through the acts of wonder! Imagine yourself dealing with a reality similar to the Coronavirus, only magnified 100 times - the fear, panic and anxiety would have probably been beyond what any of us has experienced in our lifetime. Not only that, but according to the Scripture, it is very likely that the children of Israel were not immune from the first three wonders (plagues) — blood, frogs, and gnats — which means that they most likely experienced the same reality as the Egyptians! It is only in the fourth wonder that we find a separation between the people of Israel and of Egypt:
Then Adonai said to Moses, “Rise up early in the morning and stand before Pharaoh. As he comes to the water say to him, ‘This is what Adonai says: “Let My people go, that they may serve Me. Or else, if you do not let My people go, I will send the swarm of flies on you and on your servants, on your people and into your houses. The houses of the Egyptians will be full of the swarm of flies including the ground that they stand on. But on that day I will set apart the land of Goshen, where My people are dwelling—except no swarm of flies will be there—so that you may know that I, Adonai, am in the midst of the earth. I will make a distinction (pedut) between My people and your people. By tomorrow this sign will happen.”’”
Exodus 8:20–23 TLV
In verse 19, the word “pedut” (פדות), which some English bibles translate as “distinction or division” is more accurately translated as “redemption”! What can we gather from this? Well, even though God separated the children of Israel from the Egyptians in Goshen, we still see that Israel experienced the suffering that took place in Egypt.
My dear brothers and sisters, this is where it connects to us followers of Messiah today. The reality of this world will affect us — we can’t escape it nor ignore it. However, even though we are in the world, we need to be reminded that we are not of this world and, therefore, we have hope.
In the same way that God redeemed Israel, and separated her from the Egyptians who did not worship Him as God, so He did for each of us who accepted His sacrifice for us, His Son, our Redeemer and Messiah and that is where we find our hope. As we remember His great acts of wonder of the past, and look at the reality of today, let me remind you and encourage you with the truth of God’s Word!
For I am convinced that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Messiah Yeshua our Lord.
Romans 8:38–39 (TLV)
Did you know? — Lone Soldier
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