My dear friend Avner Boskey writes from Israel:
The God of Israel is described in the Bible not only as the Prince of Peace. He is also a God of military warfare and intelligence strategy. Moses shouted out a victory song to this God of the Hebrews on the beach beside the Sea of Reeds (commonly known as the Red Sea). As the bodies of Egyptian charioteers washed up onto the sandy shore, Moses unashamedly declared that “YHVH is a warrior – YHVH is His name!” (Exodus 15:3).
The familiar Passover story also has an angle which may be unfamiliar to some – YHVH’s behind-the-scenes maneuvers and battle plans. These stratagems form the backdrop and catalyst for the mighty Exodus from Egypt.
Pharaoh – a wrench in YHVH’s toolchest
The God of Jacob spoke to Moses quite forcefully, giving him highly specific instructions about what to say to Egypt’s Pharaoh:
Then YHVH said to Moses, “Rise up early in the morning and stand before Pharaoh and say to him, ‘Thus says YHVH, the God of the Hebrews, Let My people go, that they may serve Me. For this time I will send all My plagues on you and your servants and your people, so that you may know that there is no one like Me in all the earth. For if by now I had put forth My hand and struck you and your people with pestilence, you would then have been cut off from the earth. But, indeed, for this reason I have allowed you to remain, in order to show you My power and in order to proclaim My name through all the earth’” (Exodus 9:13-16)
The Exodus story is not a simple clash between Pharaoh the king of Egypt and Moses the former Prince of Egypt. God reveals that one of the main goals of the story is to communicate a message to all mankind – that there is no god in existence who is like YHVH the God of the Hebrews.
This God, this YHVH, was setting up the king of Egypt for judgment and a measure of desolation – in order to proclaim the fact that the God who watches over Israel will judge any nation who raises its hand to weaken or attack the Jewish people
Just to make sure that the point was really driven home, YHVH declared that, by the time this whole process was over, He would not even allow a small dog to bark at or threaten the Jewish people:
“Moreover, there shall be a great cry in all the land of Egypt, such as there has not been before and such as shall never be again. But against any of the sons of Israel a dog will not even bark, whether against man or beast, that you may understand how YHVH makes a distinction between Egypt and Israel” (Exodus 11:6-17)
Strategic-level spiritual warfare
The Tenth Plague was the striking down of the firstborn. This awesome display of God’s power brought the agony of death to every Egyptian household – though all Jewish homes which applied the blood of the lamb to their doorposts were spared.
The God of Israel explains why He was about to bring that plague down upon the nation of Egypt. The Jewish people were (and are) God’s firstborn among the nations. A blow against them is a blow against their Father:
Then you shall say to Pharaoh, “Thus says YHVH, Israel is My son, My firstborn. So I said to you, Let My son go that he may serve Me. But you have refused to let him go. Behold, I will kill your son, your firstborn” (Exodus 4:22-24)
The power behind the pantheon of Egyptians gods/demons were very real spiritual forces, powers and principalities. “For all the gods of the peoples are idols, but YHVH made the heavens” (Psalm 96:5).
YHVH’s plagues were all directed against specific demonic powers.
The frog was sacred to the idol Heket; Hapi was the spirit for whom the waters of the Nile were sacred;
The sun was sacred to Ra;
The cow was holy to Apis; Horus was considered the son of Isis, as was Pharaoh.
As each plague turned objects worshipped by common Egyptians into cursings, so YHVH was showing His sovereign anger at how the Egyptians were enslaving and harshly treating Jacob’s children.
“For I will go through the land of Egypt on that night, and will strike down all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, both man and beast; and against all the gods of Egypt I will execute judgments – I am YHVH” (Exodus 12:12).
The fearsome judgments of YHVH were directed against both the leaders who cursed Israel as well as against their people the Egyptians. This biblical principle needs to be recovered and taken to heart in our day, for many countries have already aligned against the Jewish people, their land, their city and their welfare
From Pharaoh’s slaves to YHVH’s servants
Every Passover at the Seder table we Jews declare “Avadim hayinu l’Far’oh b’Mizrayim” – we were slaves to Pharaoh in Egypt (Deuteronomy 6:21). The God of Isaac was our Great Emancipator, freeing us from Egyptian slavery: “And it shall be when your son asks you in time to come, saying, ‘What is this?’ then you shall say to him, ‘With a powerful hand YHVH brought us out of Egypt, from the house of slavery” (Exodus 13:14).
The Scriptures let us in on a secret, though – we were set free from an Egyptian tyrant in order to serve a greater King. “For the sons of Israel are My servants. They are My servants whom I brought out from the land of Egypt. I am YHVH your God” (Leviticus 25:55).
The Exodus is not only a Festival of Freedom; it is a rejoicing that we are now free to love God with all our heart, our soul and our strength, and to serve Him with a full heart. To quote Martin Luther King, “Free at last, free at last, thank God Almighty, we are free at last!”
He brought us out to bring us in
The whole point of the Exodus was to move us from point A to point B – to take us out of the land of slavery and to bring us into the Promised Land. God is the divine people-mover, and He moved the Jewish people out of Egypt in order to bring us into the Land of Israel and to be our God: “I am YHVH your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt to give you the land of Canaan and to be your God” (Leviticus 25:38).
God never intended for the Jewish people to stay scattered across the globe and find liberty, equality and fraternity in France or in any other country. The goal always was (and remains) Israel as the only homeland for the Jewish people
YHVH promises to regather His Jewish people back to their land, taking them from every country to which they have been scattered: “For I will take you from the nations, gather you from all the lands and bring you into your own land” (Ezekiel 36:24).
He even goes further than that and promises to not leave even one Jewish person stuck in the Diaspora/Exile, but to bring each and every Jew home to the Promised Land:
When I bring them back from the peoples and gather them from the lands of their enemies, then I shall be sanctified through them in the sight of the many nations. Then they will know that I am YHVH their God because I made them go into exile among the nations, and then gathered them again to their own land. And I will leave none of them there any longer (Ezekiel 39:27-28)
The Exodus from Egypt in Moses’ day looks forward prophetically to events happening in our day, for YHVH promises to stretch forth His hand a second time (see Isaiah 11:11-16) and restore the entire Jewish nation to the entire Land of Israel.
THANK YOU, AVNER!!
The question that then deserves to be asked, ought to be asked: What about celebration and observance of the Passover today, by all who believe in the same God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob? Do the scriptures point to this? I believe they do.
Jesus our Lord tells us this in reference to the “Last Supper” which in fact was a Passover seder.
Luke 22:15 & 19
15 Then He said to them, “With fervent desire I have desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer;
19 And He took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them, saying, “This is My body which is given for you; do this in remembrance of Me.”
QUES: What is the “this do?” Was our Lord speaking only of the observance of the wine and bread? Or might it be a somewhat broader admonition than that, to us?
Back-tracking to the book of Exodus, when the people of God were delivered from the bondage of Egypt, and prior to the gracious and convenient Leviticus 23 bundling and instructions re all the feasts, Passover was not only earlier-declared by God, but it was marked to be an everlasting ordinance throughout all generations (“everlasting” and “throughout your generations” being notable). Also notable is that other feasts are not marked as everlasting, so it implies God has specific intent.
13 Now the blood shall be a sign for you on the houses where you are. And when I see the blood, I will pass over you; and the plague shall not be on you to destroy you when I strike the land of Egypt.
14 ‘So this day shall be to you a memorial; and you shall keep it as a feast to the Lord throughout your generations. You shall keep it as a feast by an everlasting ordinance.
This is so “everlasting”, Jesus in Luke 22 appears to be implying the Passover observance and celebration may well extend even into the kingdom age:
16 for I say to you, I will no longer eat of it until it is fulfilled in the kingdom of God.”
17 Then He took the cup, and gave thanks, and said, “Take this and divide it among yourselves;
18 for I say to you, I will not drink of the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God comes.”
All that to say: IF
A. Both the observance of the Passover is cited as belonging to all generations forever, and
B. Our Lord clearly loves the Passover; AND
C. Dear Avner drives home the revelation that the celebration is a prophetic marker of many Kingdom occurrences still to happen at the conclusion of this age; THEN
One might prayerfully wonder whether the church would do well to consider its observance of this upcoming holiday, of course through the lens of the redemptive work on the cross of Calvary. He has passed over us.
Happy Pesach, all.