Yesterday evening I went to a store after midnight. On the other side of the road I saw an elderly man being pushed in a wheelchair down the sidewalk by two elderly women. I was concerned. Did they need help? I intended to go to the store and then ask them if they needed a ride on my way back. However, as I continued down the street, I noticed more and more people walking. They were leaving the Jewish gathering place.
When I arrived back home, I researched the Jewish holiday being celebrated. I ran across the term Pesach. As I understand it, that word is translated as Passover in the English language.
Over the years, my brain had settled into thinking Pesach/Passover was the story of an angry God who was going to kill everyone as punishment for their wrong-doing. And therefore the sacrifice of the lamb/Jesus was to protect us from God’s anger towards us.
But last night I was struck by reading that although the common English translation of Pesach is Passover, some think a more faithful translation of the verb pasàch is: he hovered over, guarding.
They say this same verb is used in Isaiah 31:5. I think the Message Bible translation captures the meaning as it is beautifully intended: “The Lord of Heaven’s Armies will hover over Jerusalem and protect it like a bird protecting its nest. He will defend and save the city; he will pass over it and rescue it.”
Of course I am fascinated by this because I again see the theme of covering. The connotation of the English word Passover to me focuses less on the main point of what the lamb’s blood symbolized. I like so much how the verse in Isaiah presents God as the protector hovering over a nest, presumably full of babies.
This reminds me of Jesus when He said how He longed to gather the people as a mother hen gathers her chicks under her wings. How beautiful. (Keep in mind He ended that statement by saying the people were unwilling to take refuge under His covering.)
Ok, so guarding from what? In reading Exodus 12, the focus of Pesach is on executing judgement not on God’s people, but on Egypt. Of course all the people of the earth are God’s Creation, but remember the things happening in the Old Testament are pictures, shadows of things to come.
So what does Egypt represent? For me Egypt represents bondage and being enslaved by something other. Something not of our own. Not intended. To me, Egypt represents the deception introduced to us by satan back in the original garden with Adam and Eve.
God’s people were enslaved and abused in Egypt. Our minds were taken captive by wrong thinking in the garden. And as God was executing judgement on the Egyptians who put His people in bondage, the message of Pesach for me is that God wanted people to realize and remember that they are unable to deliver themselves. It was God who went to war against what was killing them. And it is Jesus who sacrificed Himself to free us from what was killing us.
I’m reminded of Paul telling the Galations: “Stand fast therefore in the liberty by which Christ has made us free, and do not be entangled again with a yoke of bondage.”
What is this bondage? To me, it is anything outside of the message of Christ. Anything that mimics every other religion that says God is out there and you have to figure out how to get yourself to Him and make Him happy. Anything that preaches performance outside of the finished work of Jesus Christ.
I like how Paul tells the Colossians that we were enemies in and alienated from God in OUR minds. A matter of perception. We thinking God is against us because of what we have done.
John reminds us that God so loved us. Jesus IS the heart of the Father. Not good cop, bad cop. When Jesus says He longs to gather us under His wing, that is God the Father also wanting to gather us under His wing.
We are not willing because we are alienated in our minds. Same as in the garden. Hiding from God, trying to cover ourselves. Remember it was God who sought out Adam and Eve. Not the other way around.
To me, Paul goes on to tell the Colossians that Christ died to reconcile us back to understanding who we are in God, who God is, and how He feels about us. To show us His true heart. The good news being we are in Christ and Christ is in us – and therefore we are free from accusation and before the Father without blemish.
Immediately our minds go, “But I’m not perfect. Look at me. Look what I’ve done. I’m not good enough.” And we put ourselves right back in the garden again where the trouble all began. Thinking it depends on us.
I love how God used Paul as a witness for us. Paul, who was originally Saul. The same Saul who was so dedicated to the God he thought he knew that he sought to murder the followers of Jesus. Even as Paul was on a mission to kill those God loves, it pleased God to reveal His Son in Paul when he was still Saul. I read that as “His Son already in Saul”. The same as with Adam and Eve, God sought out Saul as he was in his tit for tat mindset.
I already know some people aren’t going to agree with me. I ask for the prayers of those people. In the meantime, attempting to share the hope that has set me free and given me great lasting joy like none other.