. Like the creation of the mother's egg, Passover represents a beginning. For Israel, it was the beginning of their, and our, nation. It corresponds to the first day of Spring after a long and arduous winter, a potent symbol especially for us in Scandinavia. And of course it marks the beginning of the agricultural season, being the first of the three agricultural feasts: Passover, Pentecost, and Tabernacles. As our people learn to become more self-sufficient and grow more and more of our own food, so these festivals will take on an added significance for us. And it was about this time, on 6 April 1988 that this work was formally organised, though plans had been made back in 1986 and the revelation to begin was received in 1984. Like Yahweh planning His Creation, and parents planning their first child, advance preparation goes into all worthy projects. The Scriptures tell us, astonishingly perhaps for some, that you and I were prepared in advance by Yahweh to be born when we were to do what we have been called to do:
"Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ [Yah'shua the Messiah], who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ, just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love..." (Eph. 1:3-4, NKJV).
Nothing is accidental. Our birth is not the whim of our parents, for even though they may believe they were the deciding factor, in truth nothing happens without Yahweh's permission or prompting. Even our mistakes are taken into consideration and entered into the cosmic equation. He knew both the right and wrong choices we have already made, and will make, and has planned everything accordingly. Such a mathematician there will never be in this universe as our Father in Heaven.
Would it surprise to, therefore, to learn that Passover was likewise planned even before this world was created? The blood of the Passover Lamb, which is the atoning blood of our Messiah, Yah'shua (Jesus), was all planned in advance. It was no afterthought. We read in the Bible, speaking of the end of this age as well as the creation of the planet:
"All who dwell on the earth will worship him, whose names have not been written in the Book of Life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world" (Rev.13:8, NKJV).
Except for the sacrifice at Passover and the blood on the door posts of the homes of every Israelite family, Israel would have suffered the same fate as the Egyptians. The promises made to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob would have then become void. With no Passover sacrifice and with no blood on the door posts, then no Torah (Law) could have been given and none of the feasts and celebrations could have followed. Apart from the sacrifice of the Passover and the blood on the door posts, there would have been no basis for Messiah, our Passover, to be sacrificed on the anniversary of that momentous occasion. We would have no hope and remain dead in our sins. But the commandment was obeyed and deliverance was accomplished. Indeed, for us, this is most certainly the first of all the months, the first month of the year, and truly the real beginning of all spiritual life.
Every parent is commanded to assume the rôle of a teacher at this time of year and to pass down the story of the exodus from Egypt to future generations. This ceremony, which is full of symbols, not only looks back to the miraculous story of Yahweh delivering His people, but also presents the promise of Messiah's death and resurrection. It is an exciting experience centring on a mixture of ritual foods. The matzah, bitter herbs, wine, and all the rest, provide a lasting link through the march of history.
History - it's a word I have mentioned many times before. History is important. And it is important not only because we have a tendency to forget and to repeat the mistakes of past generations, but because it connects us to our faithful ancestors with whom one day we will be spending eternity. It's not easy, I know, to realise that within 50 or 60 years - far less if you are advanced in years - that we will one day be sitting down and conversing with Moses, Abraham, Paul and even Yah'shua (Jesus). We are not accustomed to thinking in that way. We are usually so bound up in the march of time that we can easily forget that time is not a concern in the next world. For upon our death we will be living out a different kind of Passover as we pass over from this world to the next. And if that is not something we are looking forward to, then more than likely we are rather too focussed on this material world.
Because Passover was established before the foundation of the world - because the atonement of Yah'shua (Jesus) was also planned before the foundation of the world - we need to have a sense of the overall perspective when it comes to planning our lives out. For whilst it is good to know that the saved were foreknown by Yahweh from the beginning, are we aware that the unsaved were also foreknown by Him? Now that, I know, may sound rather obvious, but considering the times in which we live which are so clearly the end-times, are we aware that the unsaved also play a part or rôle? It is written:
"And those who dwell on the earth will marvel, whose names are not written in the Book of Life from the foundation of the world, when they see the beast that was, and is not, and yet is" (Rev.17:8, NKJV).
Now we need to pause and seriously consider this scripture here. What is it telling us? That those whose names are not written in the Book of Life - where the names of the redeemed are recorded - will marvel ... be astonished ... not because their names aren't written in the Book of Life (though that is going to be a pretty big shock for many who think they are) - the shock will be when "they see the beast that was, and is not, and yet is".
When the Israelites were led out of Egypt and Yahweh showed many miracles and wonders, there was not the slightest doubt who the "goodies" and who the "baddies" were. That time was a time of separation. And when Yahweh separates the wheat from the tares, and the sheep from the goats, everyone can see clearly whose side everyone is one. There is a visible, physical separation. There were the Egyptians and there were the Israelites, plus those Egyptians who decided to follow them. The "good guys" passed over the Red Sea and the "bad guys" remained behind in spiritual bondage or were drowned.
The Passover season sends us many very clear messages and one of them is separation. Yahweh wants His people and the world's people clearly separated. He began by creating a unique nation - Israel - to be a separated or set-apart nation, different from all the others. And by, amongst other things, giving Israel the annual Festivals, He ensured that they remained distinctive. For who today celebrates the annual festivals except the Talmudic Jews and Messianic Christians like ourselves? No-one.
But visible separation - important thought it is - is not the end of the matter. What is ultimately more important is the spiritual separation. Are we like the world or are we like the way God's people are supposed to be? Is our behaviour distinguishable from the unbelievers? Do our habits - such as observing the Sabbath and the Annual Festivals - set us apart? What about our behaviour? Are we demonstrating the fruits of the Ruach haQodesh (Holy Spirit)? If we are indistinguishable from the pagan world around us by the things we do and by the spirit we carry, then whose people are we actually? Who we belong to - Yahweh or Satan?
This is what will shock the unbelievers at the last day: There will be those who claim to be Christians who will discover they were wearing no more than a label. There will be unbelievers who think that their good works will be all that is needed for them to make it to heaven. And then there will be those who are obviously evil, and even they will be shocked by the delusion they have been under. For what will they see? As it says, "they see the beast that was, and is not, and yet is".
Satan as we know is the master of concealment. Only the other day one of the members of my family was asking me how we can discern between the Spirit of God, the spirits of demons, and our own mind. And the simple answer I gave was by simply being obedient to what Yahweh has said. Our own fallen fleshy nature - mind, heart and body - is an open door to potential deception. The beast of the Book of Revelation is not just a person but also a strong delusional spirit that is hard to put your finger on. It is called the spirit of antichrist by John. (1 Jn.2:18,22; 4:3; 2 Jn.7). And in the last few years it has become extraordinarily powerful owing to the increased rebellion by the former Christian world to the truth. What was once the Spirit of Christ in those nations has been replaced by a devious spirit that looks all right on the surface but underneath is poisonous.
The counterfeit spirit which is in the world - "that was, and is not, and yet is" - appears on the surface to be so like the Spirit of Yahweh and yet inside is rotten and demonic. Do you remember how Christ is described?
"The One who is and who was and who is to come" (Rev 11:17, NKJV).
Let's compare these - you will be astonished, I think: