Thursday 21 March 2013

Deliverance and establishement of a theocracy

On Purim, the Jewish people recall their miraculous deliverance from their enemies 2,400 years ago. But newt week we start a festival week of an important occasion for Jews and Christians we should not forget.

After the rabbi Jeshua (Jesus) was triumphantly welcomed as a king, seated on a donkey,  in the city of Jerusalem, he called his talmidim or disciples to look for a room to celebrate an even more important deliverance and a confirmation of the promise to Abraham and corroboration to Moses that God had prepared Him a people to be sanctified and to receive a Holy Land.

Purim may remind us of our human frailty and vulnerability. We see how close all the Jews in the Persian Empire came to being wiped out overnight at the whim of a foolish, capricious leader. Jews are particularly reminded of the precariousness of their condition. Yet, Purim also affirms that while oppressors come and go, God’s promise and covenant with his people, Israel, is everlasting. The Jews of the Persian Empire, after all, were saved, reminding us that God never deserts His people.

When the Judaic people were slaves in Egypt God tried to convince the Pharao to let them go, but the plagues God had send to him and his people did not bother him so much. For that reason, not wanting God's people go and not recognising the Most High Elohim, God took to the bloodsign which all people after this occasion should remember for always.

People should know what god has everything under control and that His Word shall always become reality. And those who do not listen at the end shall always come to know and see what the Hand of God shall establish.

We all know different songs, musicals and shows where the song “Let My People Go!” catches the full attention of everybody in the theatre.

Egypt had the People of God to go.

In 40 chapters, 1,213 verses the Holy Scriptures brings us in the Book of Exodus the greatest adventure story ever told.

The Israelites Leaving Egypt
The Israelites Leaving Egypt (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
The book of Exodus continues the story of the redemptive history that God began in the book of Genesis. The original purpose of Exodus was to help the people of Israel understand their identity as God’s special people, and to learn about their covenant obligations to him. They were to see themselves as God’s “firstborn son” (Exodus 4:22-23) and as a “kingdom of priests” (19:5-6), called to bring God’s blessings to the nations. Exodus describes how the Lord delivered Israel from Egyptian oppression (chs. 1-15), brought her into covenant relationship with himself at Mount Sinai (chs. 16-24), and came to dwell in her midst in the tabernacle (chs. 25-40).
It is that deliverance from Egypt,  the paradigm for salvation in the Old Testament we are going to celebrate soon. But for us there is an extra dimension to the festival week.  It also sets the pattern for the full and final salvation that God has provided in Israel’s Messiah.

The Nazarene Jeshua, who had done many miracles and as such saved already many people from their problems was the one send by God, long ago promised. He was the Christos or Christ who became the new Moses of a greater exodus by going down into Egypt, passing through the waters of baptism, enduring temptation in the wilderness, and going up on the mountain to give people God’s law (see Matthew 2-7). Like Moses, Jesus is the mediator of a new covenant (see Hebrews 9:15).

The Creator-King’s original intention was that he might dwell among His people, who would be a flourishing human community in a paradise-kingdom beginning in Eden and spreading throughout the whole world.
God established the Mosaic covenant with Israel at Sinai to carry forward His purpose as expressed within the earlier covenant with Abraham (Exodus 2:24; 3:6, 15, 16; 6:2-8). God’s promises to Abraham in Genesis 12:1-3 function as His solution to the problem of the human sin and rebellion that we read about in Genesis 3-11.

Jehovah  repeatedly referred to the slaves of the Pharao as “my people” (Exodus 3:7; 5:1). The Elohim is indicating both to Pharaoh and to the people that, although they have been enslaved in Egypt for a long time, it is His covenant promise to them as Abraham’s offspring that truly governs their identity.

After overwhelming disasters (the plagues), the putting blood on the sides of the entrance door of the houses of the people who followed the God of Abraham and Moses, as a final sign (Exodus 11:1-15:21), safeguarded the first-borns in those houses. (Exodus 7:8-15:21) in what was going to be the first month of the year in the future for them (Exodus 12:1-2).

In that first of months, the first month of the year all the children of Israel had to come together and in the tenth day of that month every man had to take a lamb, by the number of their fathers’ families, a lamb for every family. It had to be a spotless lamb, without any mark, a male in its first year. They than had to keep it till the fourteenth day of the same month, when everyone who was of the children of Israel was to put it to death between sundown and dark. Then they had to take some of the blood and put it on the two sides of the door and over the door of the house where the meal was to be taken. That night they had to eat the flesh of the lamb, cooked with fire in the oven, together with unleavened bread and bitter-tasting plants. Those following God had to take their meal dressed as if for a journey, with their shoes on their feet and their sticks in their hands. They had to take it quickly, because it was to be the Lord’s Passover. For on that night God went through the land of Egypt, sending death on every first male child, of man and of beast, and judging all the gods of Egypt so that they could know that Jehovah is the Elohim Hashem, the most Mighty of all gods.

 “1  And Jehovah spake unto Moses and Aaron in the land of Egypt, saying, 2  This month shall be unto you the beginning of months: it shall be the first month of the year to you. 3  Speak ye unto all the congregation of Israel, saying, In the tenth day of this month they shall take to them every man a lamb, according to their fathers’ houses, a lamb for a household: 4  and if the household be too little for a lamb, then shall he and his neighbor next unto his house take one according to the number of the souls; according to every man’s eating ye shall make your count for the lamb. 5  Your lamb shall be without blemish, a male a year old: ye shall take it from the sheep, or from the goats: 6  and ye shall keep it until the fourteenth day of the same month; and the whole assembly of the congregation of Israel shall kill it at even. 7  And they shall take of the blood, and put it on the two side-posts and on the lintel, upon the houses wherein they shall eat it. 8  And they shall eat the flesh in that night, roast with fire, and unleavened bread; with bitter herbs they shall eat it. 9  Eat not of it raw, nor boiled at all with water, but roast with fire; its head with its legs and with the inwards thereof. 10  And ye shall let nothing of it remain until the morning; but that which remaineth of it until the morning ye shall burn with fire. 11  And thus shall ye eat it: with your loins girded, your shoes on your feet, and your staff in your hand; and ye shall eat it in haste: it is Jehovah’s passover. 12  For I will go through the land of Egypt in that night, and will smite all the first-born in the land of Egypt, both man and beast; and against all the gods of Egypt I will execute judgments: I am Jehovah.” (Exodus 12:1-12 ASV)

In Exodus, God advances his solution to the fall by establishing Israel as a theocracy (a nation governed directly by God). Through the Mosaic covenant, Israel becomes the initial fulfilment and next stage of the promise that in Abraham’s lineage all the families of the earth would be blessed (Gen. 12:3). God’s “Firstborn Son”

 Like the Passover lamb or the offering sprinkled on the ark of the covenant, the blood of his sacrifice is the atonement for our sin. Like the tabernacle, he is the dwelling place of God with us (see John 1:14, where the word for “dwell” is the Greek word for tabernacle). Like Aaron the high priest, he brings us into the Most Holy Place, where we can meet with God. If we know Christ, therefore, we can trace the story of the exodus somewhere in the spiritual geography of our own souls. Through the waters of baptism, we have been delivered from our bondage to sin. Now God is guiding us on our pilgrimage through the wilderness, feeding us our daily bread, teaching us his law, receiving our worship, and leading us to his glory in the Promised Land.

What Purim and Pesach or Pascha reaffirm to Christians and Jews alike is the fact that the everyday order is infused with God’s presence and is under His control.

About the day God liberated the slaves from Egypt God wanted them to remember it for ever.

“14  And this day shall be unto you for a memorial, and ye shall keep it a feast to Jehovah: throughout your generations ye shall keep it a feast by an ordinance for ever. 15  Seven days shall ye eat unleavened bread; even the first day ye shall put away leaven out of your houses: for whosoever eateth leavened bread from the first day until the seventh day, that soul shall be cut off from Israel. 16  And in the first day there shall be to you a holy convocation, and in the seventh day a holy convocation; no manner of work shall be done in them, save that which every man must eat, that only may be done by you. 17  And ye shall observe the feast of unleavened bread; for in this selfsame day have I brought your hosts out of the land of Egypt: therefore shall ye observe this day throughout your generations by an ordinance for ever. 18  In the first month, on the fourteenth day of the month at even, ye shall eat unleavened bread, until the one and twentieth day of the month at even. 19  Seven days shall there be no leaven found in your houses: for whosoever eateth that which is leavened, that soul shall be cut off from the congregation of Israel, whether he be a sojourner, or one that is born in the land. 20  Ye shall eat nothing leavened; in all your habitations shall ye eat unleavened bread.” (Exodus 12:14-20 ASV)

Because it had to be remembered for ever and Jesus remembered it, we also should do that. But for us there is an extra touch. We have to keep it as a feast to Jehovah our God through all our generations, as an order for ever, but we also do have to commemorate the night Jesus took the bread and the cup of wine, saying thanks to His Father and giving it to his closest friends as a sign of a new covenant, which had to be remembered as well.

The broken bread was as the body of Christ Jesus, which was slaughtered like the lambs in Exodus, but this time given for the whole world by the servant of those faithful Jews at the beginning of our common time, and of his Father in heaven. Those who have kept with this Nazarene through his troubles will be given a kingdom as his Father has given one to him, so that they may take food and drink at Jesus his table in his and his Father His kingdom, and be seated like kings, judging the twelve tribes of Israel.

 “And on the first day of unleavened bread, when they sacrificed the passover, his disciples say unto him, Where wilt thou that we go and make ready that thou mayest eat the passover?” (Mark 14:12 ASV)

 “15  And he will himself show you a large upper room furnished and ready: and there make ready for us. 16  And the disciples went forth, and came into the city, and found as he had said unto them: and they made ready the passover. 17  And when it was evening he cometh with the twelve. 18  And as they sat and were eating, Jesus said, Verily I say unto you, One of you shall betray me, even he that eateth with me. 19  They began to be sorrowful, and to say unto him one by one, Is it I? 20  And he said unto them, It is one of the twelve, he that dippeth with me in the dish. 21  For the Son of man goeth, even as it is written of him: but woe unto that man through whom the Son of man is betrayed! good were it for that man if he had not been born. 22  And as they were eating, he took bread, and when he had blessed, he brake it, and gave to them, and said, Take ye: this is my body. 23  And he took a cup, and when he had given thanks, he gave to them: and they all drank of it. 24  And he said unto them, This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many.” (Mark 14:15-24 ASV)
On the 14th of Nisan this gathering of Jesus and his best friends we got the inauguration of that New Covenant. Because that it our liberation and our exodus of the slavery of this world, we should also commemorate that evening and the Lamb of God, Jesus who was betrayed and brought to death a few hours later.

Like the apostles and first Christians came together to remember the night the talmidim where there with Christ in the preparation for the Pesach and Feast of unleavened bread, we also should come together.

 “Be ye imitators of me, even as I also am of Christ.” (1 Corinthians 11:1 ASV)

 “23   For I received of the Lord that which also I delivered unto you, that the Lord Jesus in the night in which he was betrayed took bread; 24  and when he had given thanks, he brake it, and said, This is my body, which is for you: this do in remembrance of me. 25  In like manner also the cup, after supper, saying, This cup is the new covenant in my blood: this do, as often as ye drink it, in remembrance of me. 26  For as often as ye eat this bread, and drink the cup, ye proclaim the Lord’s death till he come. 27  Wherefore whosoever shall eat the bread or drink the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner, shall be guilty of the body and the blood of the Lord. 28  But let a man prove himself, and so let him eat of the bread, and drink of the cup. 29  For he that eateth and drinketh, eateth and drinketh judgment unto himself, if he discern not the body.” (1 Corinthians 11:23-29 ASV)

That what God promised in the Garden of Eden came to fulfilment with Jesus birth, his offering his body to all those who where under the spell of death. It reaffirms that God’s hand is indeed at work in human history. Renewing our belief in a God who acts in history and continues to perform miracles is one of the most fundamental affirmations we can make. And knowing we believe in a God of miracles is indeed cause for celebration at Purim and Pesach or any time of year! But with 14 Nisan asking us to remember the breaking of the bread and his offering his body as an instalment of a New Covenant, we should be glad to come together on such an evening to Break Bread with all our brethren and sisters and welcoming those who want to know God.


Please also do read:

  1. Festival of Freedom and persecutions
  2. Seven days of Passover
  3. 1 -15 Nisan
  4. Day of remembrance coming near 
  5. Pesach
  6. Korban Pesach
  7. 14 Nisan a day to remember #1 Inception
  8. 14 Nisan a day to remember #2 Time of Jesus
  9. 14 Nisan a day to remember #3 Before the Passover-feast
  10. 14 Nisan a day to remember #4 A Lamb slain
  11. A Jewish Theocracy
  12. Observance of a day to Remember
  13. Around the feast of Unleavened Bread
  14. Observance of a day to Remember 
  15. Pesach and solidarity 

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