Pesach (Passover) 2004
Part 1: The Source of Freedom
Sabbath Day Sermon, Saturday 3 April 2004
"And you shall observe this thing as an ordinance for you and your sons forever (olam). It will come to pass when you come to the land which Yahweh will give you, just as He promised, that you shall keep this service. And it shall be, when your children say to you, 'What do you mean by this service?' that you shall say, 'It is the Passover (Pesach) sacrifice of Yahweh, who passed over the houses of the children of Israel in Egypt when He struck the Egyptians and delivered our households.' So the people bowed their heads and worshiped" (Ex 12:24-28, NKJV).
In a little over seven hours' time we once again commence a new cycle of the festivals of Yahweh, our Heavenly Father, when we commemorate Pesach or Passover. This is considered a strange thing by the vast majority of Christians today whose reflex reaction is that in doing so we have somehow taken a step backwards into an old covenant that has long since passed away. Let us be quite clear, though, about the word olam which is here translated as 'forever'. This commandment is, as Yahweh makes perfect through His servant Moses, eternal. It is to be done continually year after year without interruption. Passover is an eternal commemoration not only of an historical miracle but of the whole concept of freedom. When we gather around the Passover Table this evening we shall not only be remembering what Yahweh did for our ancestors thousands of years ago in liberating them from cruel pagan oppression in Egypt but the death of the Messiah, Yah'shua (Jesus). When we partake of unleavened bread during Chag haMatzah we shall recall His burial. And finally, when we celebrate the Feast of Firstfruits or Yom haBikkurim, we shall be celebrating His glorious resurrection and the gift of eternal life which He offers to all those who trust in Him and obey His New Covenant Torah. And then, 50 days later at Pentecost or Shavu'ot, we shall be celebrating the day on which Yahweh poured out the Ruach haQodesh (Holy Spirit) on the first believers, equipping them for their missions, just as He equips us today for ours.
These four festivals, given to our Israelite forefathers, commemorated both events of supernatural deliverance from slavery as well as pointed to the work of the Messiah. In regard to the latter, they have been fulfilled. The Messiah has been here, He has atoned for our sins, and He has ascended into heaven. However, as we all know, the later festivals - the three autumnal ones - have not yet been fulfilled, for they correspond to events yet to happen. This being indisputably true, how can anyone say - on this basis alone - that the festivals of Yahweh have been done away with? When you celebrate or commemorate something in anticipation of something that is yet to happen, then you do not stop commemorating it until it does. Since the return of Yah'shua (Jesus) and the Millennium have not yet taken place, then clearly we should anticipate them in the proper manner - not just every day but at the appointed times.
It is not for us to say how or when we shall ever stop celebrating these festivals. The implication of scripture is that we shall do so not only in anticipation of what is to come, but in gratitude to what has already been done. Human memory is short and for this reason Yahweh has ordained a sacred calendar so that we can always retain the essential saving truths of the Gospel in sharp focus on a regular, instructive basis. Each festival contains principles that we need to internalise to equip us for the overcoming life, principles that are easily watered down and dismissed if we do not pay close attention to them.
For two thousand years believers have been waiting for the second coming of Yah'shua (Jesus), and Scripture teaches us to live our lives so that we may be prepared for that eventuality. What of the expectations of believers who lived in that anticipation and who died, never witnessing His return? Was their waiting in vain? I am going to suggest that that very much depends on how you celebrate Passover, not because Passover is directly connected with the second coming, but because it reflects a parallel principle. And I will answer my question by posing, in good Hebrew fashion, another question, if not several: Why do we commemorate the past? Why do we celebrate both an annual Passover meal and a weekly Lord's Supper? How do these two differ?
All prophecy and revelation in scripture has multiple layers. In the case of Pesach, an historical event - rescue from slavery in Egypt - was celebrated in a festival that looked not only backwards to the past but forwards to a future event. But, you may argue, that 'future event' has already been fulfilled in Yah'shua (Jesus), so what use does this festival yet have for us? And the answer is that the festival of Pesach did not end with Yah'shua's (Jesus') death and resurrection, but yet concerns both today and tomorrow. There are other levels of Pesach that remain to be discovered.
The symbols of Pesach (Passover) are will known to you but it is important that we carefully rehearse them. Pesach contains many potent spiritual symbols or representations. Firstly, there is Egypt, the land of bondage and cruel oppression which symbolises this world, and its political and religious systems, in all ages prior to the Second Coming. For Christians living in the former Soviet Union, their Egypt was communism. For believers living in Nazi Germany, their Egypt was fascism. And for believers living in our Western secular democracies, our Egypt is paganism, atheism, sexual permissiveness, lawlessness, occultism, unrestrained capitalism, and everything that is contrary to the principles of Torah. For a believer living in Iran today, the world may be radical Islam, for a believer in India, Hinduism, and so forth. Whoever you are, wherever you may be, in Sweden, America, China, or Syria, you are surrounded and immersed in a world system that is antithetical to the Kingdom of Yahweh. That is Egypt. So whenever you read about Egypt in scripture, you have a key which makes that scripture applicable to you today. A second symbol, meaning the same thing, is Babylon. When we speak of Egypt or Babylon we are speaking both of ancient nations as well as false spiritual systems.
The next symbol is the Egyptian King, Pharaoh. He is a type of Satan whom, Scripture tells us, is the prince of this world and of its political and religious systems. And the bondage or slavery that the Israelites experienced living in Egypt under a cruel Pharaoh is the same as the spiritual imprisonment we are under when we come under the government of any false system, because every false system is authored, and controlled, by none other than Satan himself. Are you in any doubt that we live under a false, demonic system? If you are, just look at the fruits of society all around you. Under the apparently quiet exteriors of the houses and public buildings you see all around you, terrible things are happening. One in every two children is being sexual abused. Satanist covens are kidnapping and murdering people. Governments are stealing our money in unjust taxes. People are practicing witchcraft and other abominations. And beneath the placid exteriors of people's faces there lies bondage - bondage to lies, falsehood, wrong thinking, evil feelings, lust, greed, fantasy, and demons - you name it, it's there. Beneath the apparently content and 'ordinary' expressions of your Mr. Average walking the streets is an incarnation of one degree of hell or another. Things are not as they appear to be. That is the world system in human flesh, and its master is Satan.
Within the simple story of Pesach, which took place thousands of years before the Messiah came, is the simple message of salvation ... for us, today. All that Yahweh asked those ancient forefathers of ours to do He did for a purpose - to teach us how we, today, and tomorrow, can be delivered from our sins and get right with Him. We do not engage in empty ritual. Nothing that Yahweh commands is purposeless. Every symbol of the Passover meal contains a potent spiritual symbol which we are supposed to meditate on, though I know that can sometimes be a little difficult amidst all the noise and activity of the occasion. But this year, please try to do it, and as you do, pray a silent prayer asking Yahweh to reveal to you the meaning of these symbols - not just in a general sense - but for you - today. To be meaningful, Pesach must come alive for you personally.
To gain wisdom, some sage once said, is to ask the right questions, so may I invite you to get inquisitive about your faith? Be inquisitive about Pesach! Discover its mysteries which, I assure you, you will never fathom in one session. Every year I discover new and exciting things about this sacred festival which enable me to deepen my relationship with Yahweh. I invite you, then, to probe with me now in preparation for today's evening meal.
If I were to ask you what the key symbol of Pesach is, I wonder what your reply would be? There are many events leading to that part of the journey which takes us up to the shore of the Red Sea (Yam Suf, or Sea of Reeds). So let me ask you now, which of all the symbols is the key one for Pesach?
The key symbol of Pesach is the blood of a spotless 1 year-old lamb. As a condition of being delivered from bondage, our forefathers were commanded to paint the door posts of their houses with it. Spiritually, the lamb is Yah'shua (Jesus), the Lamb of God, and the door posts are the entrances to our heart-lives. Because Yah'shua (Jesus) has given His blood for the redemption of our sins, we do not require the blood of animals any more - we are delivered from the rule of Satan in our lives by believing in Yah'shua (Jesus) as Redeemer and responding with right-living. Yah'shua (Jesus) is now our Pesach or Passover (1 Cor.5:8). This, then, is the key to redemption now, just as it was then: only through our trusting (emunah) in the shed blood of Yah'shua (Jesus), who is our Passover, and we are through it made free from the bondage of sin (Lev.17:11; Eph.1:7; Col.1:14; 1 Pet.1:18-19; 1 Jn.1:7; Rev.1:5). If you have never done this - never asked for the blood of Christ to be applied to you for the forgiveness of your sins, then the message of Passover is that you remain in bondage and Satan is your lord no matter how good you have tried to be. And that is because salvation is never through our own efforts or deeds. If there is one message you take away from Passover, I pray it is this one!
What if we have already asked the blood of Christ to atone for our sins? It may have been many years ago that you received the Messiah as your Master and Deliverer. What relevance does Pesach have for you now? Even if we have received our first salvation - or Alpha(Alef)-ASlvation, that is the not the end of the matter. We continue to make errors - sometimes willful, sometimes ignorant - so that we continually need to repent and be cleansed. We still need to go through the process of repairing broken relationships in no matter what area of our lives. If you think about it, this is common sense.
Let us say that I decide to make a friendship with someone. The fact that I do this does not guarantee that that friendship will always last. What if I say or do something bad that threatens to destroy the friendship? I have to make things right. This is no different with Yahweh. There is the initial salvation - or alpha-salvation - and then there is the continuing salvation which consists of growing in our relationship with Him and repairing any damage done by thoughtless behaviour, which is completed only at the end of our lives, our Omega- or Tav-Salvation.
So at Pesach we are able to plead the blood of Christ upon ourselves and our children as a continuation of our first salvation. We all know from Yom Kippur that the accumulated sins of a single year are very great indeed! Pesach is at the head of the year as well as the head of our spiritual life. This is where our heart-life must always begin. And it begins with the recognition that without the blood of the Lamb we, and our children, are defenseless against the Pharaoh of this world.
We are in the month of Nisan, which is also called the Head Month. We celebrated our New Year on 23 March this year. Outside the snow and ice is slowly melting. Nature's year is beginning. Anciently, the head of each household - the patriarch of the house - would take a lamb on the 10th day and set it aside until the 14th. At 3 p.m. he would kill the lamb and sprinkle its blood on the door posts of his house. The lamb was to be roasted on the fire with bitter herbs, and, with unleavened bread, the entire household was to feast upon the meat of the lamb on the 15th, which begins this evening.
Now there is something about the salvation of Pesach which most Christians miss when they do not celebrate it, and that is what may be termed family salvation. As the patriarch of my home, my responsibility - not just once a year at this high season, but every day - to invoke the blood of Christ for the protection of my family. This illustrates that salvation is not just personal but also collective, and specifically, that it occurs in family units. The father and husband in a family is given a unique authority and responsibility as a family's covering and intercessor. This he does not do in his own strength but in the power of the Lamb. My spiritual warfare would result in defeat every day were it not for the blood of Yah'shua (Jesus)! It is also my responsibility to educate my sons in these things for they too shall one day become the protectors and heads of their own families. They too must be covered in the blood of the Lamb if they are to make a covering for the weaker members of their families - their wives and children. And if, at this time, they launch out into the world on their own - particularly in these evil times where demons are swarming in the world as in no other previous time save in the days of Noah - if they seek to go into the world without the protective armour of the Lamb's blood, they will be overwhelmed. Therefore I make this plea to the unmarried male youth, and in particular those who are planning to move out of the protection of their father's home, that they speedily get right with Yahweh, repent of their sins, ask Yah'shua (Jesus) into their hearts, invoke His blood for their salvation, and walk in His New Covenant Torah for the rest of their days. I make this invitation as a father who has been engaged in spiritual warfare for a long time and know what I am saying. Our boys must spiritually kit themselves up or they will be totally enslaved, and finally devoured, by the Pharaoh of this world, the fallen angel Lucifer and his demonic hosts.
At midnight on that fateful first Passover, the destroying angel entered the land of Egypt and death visited every household that was not protected by the blood. Every household that did not have that blood token was visited by the judgment of Yahweh. (Ex.12:12-15). The world is such today that we live in a global Egypt and we ourselves, as end-time believers, are preparing for a day in the very near future, when the judgment of Yahweh will descend on the whole world. The time is sooner than you think. Christian prophets were declaring earlier this year that 11 March would be a momentous day for believers. On that day, as you will recall, a massive terrorist attack was launched on Madrid's railway system killing and seriously injuring hundreds of urban commuters. This was given as a sign, brethren and sisters, of the judgment that will be sent on all the world. The Americans had their foretaste of this on 11 September 2001. Similar terrorist outrages were perpetrated in Bali, in Indonesia, and elsewhere. More are yet to come. All of these show our vulnerability if we remain in the world system and do not get the covering of the blood of the Lamb.
Most of you probably believe that the Exodus from Egypt was a once-off historical event. Friends, it is going to happen again physically, but not in one specific nation like Egypt. Moreover, it will not be to a 'Promised Land' like Israel. Yes, it began this way, and was then fulfilled prophetically in the invisible realm - in the spirit - when Yah'shua (Jesus) became our sin-offering. And it is fulfilled prophetically, and repeated again and again, for every individual who desires to flee worldliness and enter into a life of inner salvation. But - and this is my message today - this is not the end of the matter, because Passover has yet two more literal, physical counterparts. The first will be very soon when believers are called out of the world and into 12 Cities of Refuge around the world just before antichrist seizes power and, after an initial 3½ years of calm, begins massacring people. The only believers who will be safe will be those in the designated places which are covered in the blood of the Lamb. And the last gathering into safety will take place at the end of the Millennium, when the same thing happens, which I spoke about five weeks ago.
The Hebrew word for Passover is Pesach which means to pass over, or hover over. New Covenant Christians are already beginning to trickle into preparatory places of refuge - not the final twelve cities - in preparation for this final Exodus in our dispensation. By gathering together in small groups we are learning to experience how it is that Yahweh's judgment passes over us as it did those of the Israelites in Moses' time. It does this because of our life in Yah'shua (Jesus) and because of the intercession of the patriarchs, with essential back-up from the mothers and wives of Zion. By allowing the blood of the Lamb of God to be over us, by faith, we are learning to be covered with His protection from the evil one. We have made a lot of mistakes and have had to apply corrective measures on a more or less continual basis until we have reached that point when we can know, through experience, what kind of ultimate covering is needed. Even as I speak to you today, we have been passing through trials and tests to straighten our lives out which have been the subject matter of my sermons this year. We have been learning to deal with slumbering spirits, committing ourselves unreservedly to truth no matter what the cost, and we shall be learning in a couple of weeks' time what unconditional love truly is. All these things the Ruach (Spirit) has been leading me to share with you as we get our lives straightened out.
The Book of Isaiah, in the fourth chapter, describes the end-time cities of refuge. He tells us what it will be like for the remnant and what it is they must be prepared to do. We, like the Israelites in Egypt, must be spiritually and physically dressed and ready to leave wherever we are at a moment's notice, at the midnight hour. It will happen suddenly, as it did in Moses' time. That is why we eat unleavened bread at this time, more of which I shall be talking about tomorrow morning.
2004 is not necessarily the year of sudden departure but we ought to start observing Pesach as though it were, for if we are not mentally, emotionally, spiritually and practically prepared to leave at the appointed time, we will be left behind for the devourer to finish us off. And that is why Yahweh is causing New Covenant Pesach to be restored in our day. It is why He started organising the Messianic Jews who were forerunners of the restoration of the Festivals of Yahweh. Pesach is more relevant now than at any time previously.
It was the same with Noah. Indeed, the days of Noah and the days of the Israelite Exodus are converging into one single event. The local Exodus is becoming a global one. We, too, are building arks - twelve of them - around the world - not boats this time, but cities of refuge where Yahweh's supernatural covering will prevent Satan from destroying us with modern technology or penetrating us with intense demonic attacks. But you can't just pick up your bags and walk to these centres of Israelite gathering - there has to be spiritual preparation - lots of it. And that is why today, not tomorrow, is the day of your salvation (2 Cor.6:2).
Tomorrow morning will shall gather again where I will talk more of the mysteries of Chag haMatzah, the Feast of Unleavened Bread. May you be blessed as you partake of the seder - the Passover Meal - this evening. Amen.
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