The very first Passover was three and a half thousand years ago. And it beautifully and richly illustrates the symbolic future of Israel's Destiny-
Back then, God told the Israelites that in order to escape the plague of death, each family must sacrifice a lamb and daub the blood on the door, as a sign to the Destroyer not to kill the firstborn. Families that “opted in” by heeding those instructions and having faith in that blood were able to escape Egypt in one piece. The Jewish people morphed from being an ethnic group to a faith community that had believed God and acted on it.
THE FEASTS AND THEIR MEANING TODAY
The biblical feasts are fascinating. They were all designed by God to be a multi-sensory learning experience for His people. They each point to the Messiah in wonderful ways. The Passover lamb foreshadows Jesus, the Lamb of God, whose sacrifice saves us from sin and death. The blood on the two intersecting beams of the doorframe is blood smeared on wood, like the cross. There are numerous other parallels scattered throughout the story to be found.
Every year when Jewish families re-live and re-tell the story, they re-experience the miracle of the Exodus. God designed it this way, so it would be passed on from generation to generation. There are things to see, read, hear, taste and touch. There is saltwater to remind of the tears of the brutality of their time of slavery, bitter herbs that bring back the bitterness of Egypt, wine to remember the sweetness of liberty and unleavened bread to remember the way it all came about.
This year, in the midst of the lethal Coronavirus, we are living that parable in even more technicolor. Each household has to stay inside, just as the Israelites did back then, while there really is a very real threat of death looming outside.
There’s a Destroyer on the rampage.
There’s a hush.
There are instructions.
An ominous wait, with hope.
This year’s Passover will have extra potency. God is reminding us of the original story. He has got our attention.
THE LAST SUPPER WAS A PASSOVER MEAL:
By no coincidence, the last meal Jesus had with His disciples was a Passover meal. It was unleavened matzo bread that He was eating, and the four cups of the Passoverthat He was drinking with them. He is the fulfillment of the story.
When the hour came, Jesus and his apostles reclined at the table. And he said to them, “I have eagerly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer. For I tell you, I will not eat it again until it finds fulfilment in the kingdom of God.”
After taking the cup, he gave thanks and said, “Take this and divide it among you. For I tell you I will not drink again from the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God comes.” And he took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body given for you; do this in remembrance of me.”
In the same way, after the supper he took the cup, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which is poured out for you.” (Luke 22:14-20)
It seems that Jesus drank the first three cups of the traditional four cups of the Passover, but stopped at the third cup – the cup of redemption. As Matthew records in his gospel, Jesus said:
“I will not drink from this fruit of the vine from now on until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father’s kingdom.” (Matthew 26:26-29)
The Apostle John, whose Gospel is very feast-centric, draws another parallel for us. Jesus often refers to the “cup” of suffering that He had to drink. This “cup” of wine was offered to Jesus in the form of vinegar, raised up on a hyssop branch, and it was hyssop branches that the Israelites used to daub the blood on the doorframes in Exodus.
Later, knowing that everything had now been finished, and so that Scripture would be fulfilled, Jesus said, “I am thirsty.” A jar of wine vinegar was there, so they soaked a sponge in it, put the sponge on a stalk of the hyssop plant, and lifted it to Jesus’ lips. When he had received the drink, Jesus said, “It is finished.” With that, he bowed his head and gave up his spirit. (John 19:28-30)
He drank that cup of separation from the Father so that we never have to.
Jesus is our sacrificial Passover lamb. His blood is what we need over our lives, over our homes.
And we will drink the fruit of the vine together with Him in the Kingdom, when He comes again in glory.
PASSOVER-COME-SHABBAT We may be shut in this Passover, separated from friends and family, but we have an abundance of riches to feast upon as we reflect on the meaning of this time. God is speaking to us.
Just as the Passover of Jesus’ crucifixion coincided with a Shabbat, so this Corona-calamity is like a double whammy of a real life Passover event and a legally-enforced Shabbat. Shabbat, by the way, has the same Hebrew letters as the word for “sit”. We have to sit and think.
We are confined to our homes with an amazing opportunity to reflect and ponder… We have more time to relate meaningfully to those in our households, and to think about God. This is what Shabbat was given to us for: to help us be more fully human, in right relationship with God, the earth, and with each other. God made it part of His created order way back in Genesis, and He made it holy… but mankind desecrated it right from the get go. Now we have no choice but to sit still and rest! Just as the Israelites were sent away to exile, giving the land the 70 years of Shabbat rest it was due, we are catching up on a lot of missed Shabbats.
Memories of Scripture and story are being catapulted back into our consciousness full force with all the uncanny similarities. God is drawing the parallels. This… is that… You need the blood to protect you. You need my salvation. Rest. Have faith. Obey my instructions.
Are we listening?
For thus said the Lord GOD, the Holy One of Israel: “in sitting still and rest shall ye be saved, in quietness and in confidence shall be your strength”. (Isaiah 30:15)
Second to saving the world at Calvary, I think that the Passover miracle is God’s favourite. He talks about it often in scripture, and made Passover month the beginning of the whole year (Exodus 12:2). He even defines himself by the event: At the beginning of the ten commandments he introduces himself like this: “I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery”.
He used to call himself “The God of Abraham Isaac and Jacob”, or “I AM” up to this point… But “The One who brought you out of Egypt” is what he calls himself repeatedly from the Exodus onwards, literally hundreds of times. God is passionate about the whole Passover saga, and the more we dig into the story, the more we discover that it’s full of rich beauty, meaning and power…
The Passover miracle is recalled with wonder throughout many of the Psalms, and although many Jewish people see Sinai as the defining moment of the Old Testament, I would venture to say that God sees the Passover as the cornerstone of the story of Israel. As will be explained below, it is the moment in history when the Jewish race became the Jewish faith. Plus, it is a huge neon sign pointing to the coming release which would be bought with the blood of another spotless lamb – our saviour Jesus.
THE GOD OF FREEDOM: I love the fact that our God is all about freedom; he freely gave everyone freedom to choose at every stage in the Passover story described in the book of Exodus. Even though he famously hardened Pharaoh’s heart, it was after some serious choices on Pharaoh’s part
to harden his own heart first. God just consolidated his free choice.
He also gave freedom to his people, Israel, about whether to go along with the plan or not. They were not rescued from the Angel of Death by force – he gave an “opt in” clause: to have death pass over your house, you must sacrifice a lamb and daub its blood on your doorframe. This was an act of faith. It was an active response to a command of God, which had a promise… and all who believed it was true and acted accordingly were saved. That means that those who escaped from Egypt had freely chosen to obey God and follow him by faith – not just because of their ancestry. This is the moment that the people of Israel became a faith community.
As we mentioned, the ten commandments are introduced by God’s reminder that he loves to set slaves free, and the very first command when he subsequently lays down the rest of the Torah is this:
“These are the laws you are to set before them: If you buy a Hebrew servant, he is to serve you for six years. But in the seventh year, he shall go free, without paying anything.” (Exodus 21:1-2).
What a strange subject with which to start a new code of government, spiritual life and ethics! But God is determined that his people should not be in slavery – they should be free. This is the message of Passover. That is what the exodus was all about.
God is serious about making his people free.
GOD-APPOINTED MEMORY AIDS
I discuss the value of Visual AIDS on my Integrated-Arts page because our creator knows we are creative learners! when we learn something in a meaningful way, especially while engaging multiple senses, Visual AIDS become Memory AIDS. As I've quoted before, "The soul thinks in images.' This is because Remembering- is very important to God. He jogs our memory all the time in the Bible, urging us, “Remember!” I think one of Satan’s best strategies is dimming our memory.
If we remember what God has done, what he has said and who he is, we can have faith in him today and trust for tomorrow. The opposite is often true as well.
I Have spoken about multi sensory experiences and approaches to memory and learning much on my page about Arts Integration, Differentiated learning, and particularly Dyslexia- as a valuable means for long lasting comprehension of a learning experience that engages multiple senses.
The Passover Seder meal is a multi-sensory teaching experience, instituted by God himself, in order to prevent the people from forgetting. It involves sight, smell, taste and touch, and was designed to teach generation after generation the amazing story, and to keep it alive in the Jewish collective memory.
Today the family celebration is based around four cups of wine and a “haggadah” or “telling” which is like an order of service. There are different ideas about what each of the four cups represents, but generally the first cup is about sanctification, and being set apart for God, the second is the time to tell the story, the third is drunk after the meal, when Jewish people usually say grace for their food, and the last one is “hallel” or praise, after the songs and Psalms of thanksgiving.
Each item of food on the table symbolises something in the story – the dry unleavened matzah bread represents the dryness of slavery, in contrast with the richness and blessing of wine, which represents freedom. It is also commonly believed that yeast represents sin, and that this is a time to do away with all yeast, and all sin. The bitterness of the bitter herbs speak of the suffering, and so on. Each aspect of the evening helps the Jewish people to remember the miracles God did for them and even to re-live them. It is not so much about recalling some historical event lost in the sands of time, as actually re-living the story and making it part of life today… and hope for the future.
It was this very Passover seder that was the last supper that Yeshua ate with his disciples, in the traditional Jewish way. It was unleavened, passover bread that he broke, when he told his disciples to “do this in remembrance of me”, and it was one of the four cups of wine that he drank when he spoke of it representing his blood. We drink it to remember the blood that bought our freedom, and caused death to “pass over” us as well. He is in every way the embodiment and fulfillment of the Passover story. And we will remember what he did for us each time we eat the bread and drink the cup.
THE FOUR STAGES OF LIBERATION“
I have heard the groaning of the Israelites, whom the Egyptians are enslaving, and I have remembered my covenant. Therefore, say to the Israelites:
‘I am the LORD, and
– I will bring you out from under the yoke of the Egyptians.
– I will free you from being slaves to them, and
– I will redeem you with an outstretched arm and with mighty acts of judgment.
– I will take you as my own people, and I will be your God.
Then you will know that I am the LORD your God, who brought you out from under the yoke of the Egyptians.” (Exodus 6:5-7)
Jewish tradition states that the four cups represent the four aspects of redemption listed in these verses from Exodus:
1. I will bring you out from under the yoke of the Egyptians
This is the first stage of liberation – the practical and actual rescue from captivity. It is the physical transition out of Egypt and towards the Promised Land. As believers, we can see that when Yeshua paid for our sin on the cross, we were made free from condemnation, and can start our journey of a life walking with God. The fact that the Jewish people went through water might also parallel the believer’s baptism as part of the liberation process.
2. I will free you from being slaves to them
This second stage is more about mental liberation. Even when freed, humans and animals can sometimes still act as if they are not. Sometimes this is called institutionalisation. We get so used to living in a cage, we don’t know how to walk in freedom. Here, God promises to free Israel of the slave mindset, and we too need to be liberated from a mind that has been in bondage to sin. We need to understand more and more that we really are free, and learn how to live accordingly.
3. I will redeem you with an outstretched arm and with mighty acts of judgement
The Exodus story is full of the supernatural. I often wonder if these miracles happened today what we might think… are we willing to accept God in all his supernatural wonder? His mighty outstretched arm? Some of the miracles and judgments are hard to accept – especially when seen from the perspective of the ordinary Egyptian. This is our God – mighty in wonders, unfathomable, unstoppable, and unlike anything we could possibly understand. But this is our rescuer. He wants us to embrace him and his redemption, and let him decide how things must be done.
4. I will take you as my own people, and I will be your God
The ultimate goal is relationship. God wants intimacy with his people. The desert can be seen to represent walking in intimacy with God, and in fact God looks back at that time right after the exodus as something of a honeymoon with his people:
“This is what the LORD says:“‘I remember the devotion of your youth, how as a bride you loved me and followed me through the wilderness, through a land not sown. Israel was holy to the LORD, the firstfruits of his harvest”. Jeremiah 2:1-3
“Therefore I am now going to allure her; I will lead her into the wilderness and speak tenderly to her. There I will give her back her vineyards, and will make the Valley of Achor a door of hope. There she will respond as in the days of her youth, as in the day she came up out of Egypt.” Hosea 2:14-15 
My pastor once said, “a dessert is something you want and don’t need, but the desert is something you don’t want, but you do need”. Desert life is not easy, but it’s often where our walk with God gets deeper and more intimate. One day we will be in the promised place of ultimate rest but until then, life with God is not always going to be a walk in the park. It’s a time to learn about our rescuer, and grow in our ability and willingness to trust, love and follow him. We are with him, and he is with us. We are his people, and he is our God. We are bonded in relationship, and that is our joy and his.
So while this is just the very tip of the iceberg when thinking about the Passover story and its fulfillment in Yeshua our Messiah, it’s easy to see why this event is so pivotal, and such a perfect foreshadowing of our salvation story. God reminds Israel of who he is and what he’s done for them over and over again by adding the events to his name: “You know, me – the one who brought you out of Egypt”… And like all of us, the Israelites needed a lot of reminding. But Jeremiah writes something curious about this description of God:
“The days are coming,” declares the LORD, “when it will no longer be said, ‘As surely as the LORD lives, who brought the Israelites up out of Egypt,’ but it will be said, ‘As surely as the LORD lives, who brought the Israelites up out of the land of the north and out of all the countries where he had banished them.’ For I will restore them to the land I gave their ancestors.” Jeremiah 16:14-16 (23:7-8 says much the same thing).
The story of God and the Israelites is not over yet. God has indeed brought the Israelites out from the land of the north (Russia and surrounding area) and out of all the countries they had been banished to for almost two thousand years. He is still not widely known by name for this action. But the days are coming…
The physical, practical and actual restoration of Israel took place last century. Now we prayerfully anticipate and work towards the spiritual restoration of Israel.
Happy Passover, and God’s richest blessings to you as we celebrate the resurrection of our sacrificial lamb that bought our freedom.
 Pharaoh hardens his own heart by his free choice on two occasions (Exodus 8:15, 8:32) before God hardens his heart (Exodus 9:12).
Then Pharaoh once again freely chooses again to hearden his own heart, along with his officials (9:34). After that God hardens his heart four more times, so that his glory can be seen (10:1, 20, 27, 11:10, 14:8)
 The picture of sitting under your own vine is a Biblical image of freedom, rest and peace (Micah 4:4 and Zechariah 3:10).
ONE FOR ISRAEL is an initiative of native-born Israelis on the forefront of high-tech media evangelism, proclaiming salvation to Israel, raising up spiritual leaders through ONE FOR ISRAEL’s Bible College and equipping them with the tools they need to transform our communities.
"If we remember what God has done, what he has said and who he is, we can have faith in him today and trust for tomorrow. The opposite is often true as well." The reason why my FAITH is so strong, firm, stable and secure is because it took me a very long time of doubt and studying on multiple fronts and perspective to get to the point where I am today. I would say I didn't really start learning the gospel until 2012, and I have met so many wonderful people, heard so many perspective (even in the Christian community the perspectives vary), and had a ZEALOUS Hunger to KNOW who exactly God is and why. I needed to know. I had to search for truth to understand why my understanding wasn't cultivating with what I had previously understood. that's because God was working on me- using my purpose and life experiences that all lead to FIND HIM. After a very difficult experience during post pardon after giving birth to my second child- I was struggling. I grew up Christian- knowing unconditional love and forgiveness as Jesus had lived his example- The Social Gospel- But I always perceived it from an intellectual standpoint and not spiritual. The credibility wasn't clicking at the time- I had too many unanswered questions- it just didn't seem to make logical, scientific sense. It was too easy. so, in a moment of deep despair and struggle, I got on my knees and PRAYED. Harder, longer, and more fiercely than I ever have before-if I ever really truly did. this time, I was desperate- he was my only hope. what seemed like for days afterward I had experienced a whole new reality- an overwhelming sense of peace and omnipotent understanding, that immediately converted my uncertainty to certainty. The experience was too profound- I know it was God. For several days the Holy Spirit confirmed his identity and mad himself known to me- I could go on and on about all of the wisdom I gained and symbolic visions that were revealed, and from that point on, my life had forever changed because that experienced solidified my belief. the Bible is so mind blowing that I started seeing it everywhere- visual and written symbolism in creation everywhere, all pointing me back to the Bible. Almost screaming, read the Bible, you'll find it there! you'll meet God, and not only know him, but have a personal relationship with Jesus that grows stronger everyday. Really truly knowing and loving Jesus has been the most profound part of my journey. however, I needed more than just blind faith to understand the gospel, I needed a needed a physical, tangible experience to hit me like a bus and grab my attention. It was like a veil was lifted and I could see clearly, I could understand but not explain. God continued to work on me, but rather silently. After I knew God existed beyond any doubt- I started really studying scripture. And I studied A LOT and still do! I love every second I get to learn about and be with God. Coming from a very liberal Christian background, I could not for the life of me understand the conservative evangelical perspective that I kept encountering in my new Christian relationships. It seems the response always was, okay- why are you talking about what you believe and not just serving instead? which yes serving is crucial and that aspect has growth my faith as well- but, I needed to understand it. It took me years of truly studying scripture- and a lifetime is never enough to stop learning everything there truly is. Now I scream it from the rooftops. Because, I want everyone to have what im certain of. Not everyone will get there, faith isn't always easy, actually, it's incredibly difficult for a lot of people. Then 7 years after the first encounter- I had a more profound- significant- earth shattering encounter with Jesus- My Savior. it was more glorious and enlightening- the veil was lifted even more- everything was becoming much more clear. I could never describe that time fully- (but I will at some point in another entry). I now knew everything in the Bible was TRUE, because my faith led me there-It was faith that that allowed the work of the spirit to manifest the seed that was planted. I was SAVED by GRACE through FAITH. -eph 2.8. all of our life experiences work together to combine our skills, gifts, and attributes with our passion. That integration is the blueprint that waves the tapestry for our purpose. god has a unique purpose for everything- and it was intricately planned before you were born. I met a pastor a couple of years ago that had really great insight on the map work of gods purpose in our lives. today I'm able to use my experiences, struggles, gifts, training and education to to serve and help others. gods Amazing like that! ANYWAY- so in a nutshell- that is why Gods work gives me the staple to be confident in faith.