By Joseph Shulam.
We are still deep in the mega-epic events of the Exodus, Passover, and the crossing of the Red Sea. How much of this story do we believe, take seriously, and celebrate?
I have watched the movie “THE TEN COMMANDMENTS,” made in Hollywood, with Charleston Heston as Moses more than once. It is one of the hours-long epic movies produced by Hollywood. I find this movie helpful in visualizing the details of the Exodus story, which contains every possible element of one of the greatest sagas of human experiences. In the reading on this Shabbat in every Jewish Synagogue, we will be reading from the middle of the Exodus story—the celebration of God’s Passover of the homes of the Israelites through to the crossing of the Red Sea. Also included is the Song of Moses, which celebrates the joy and the victory of this actual “Independence Day” from the injustice and evil of Slavery and Tyranny upon a whole nation, motivated by selfishness, greed, and ignorance of God and His power!
This Shabbat’s reading:
The Torah Portion: Beshalach from Exodus 13:17 – 17:16.
The reading from the Prophets: Judges 4:4 – 5:31.
From the New Testament: Matthew 14:22-33.
Just as a reminder for our readers – The first chapters of the book of Exodus start with the enslavement of the children of Israel because of Egyptian fears that they will turn against the Pharaoh and Egypt. Pharaoh’s fear caused him to desire to destroy Israel and enslave them to build his dream cities of the dead. This group of enslaved people challenged the Pharaoh, the King and great ruler of Egypt, with another prince of Egypt—Moses, who was raised in the palaces of Pharaoh.
The challenge is not only to Pharaoh but also to the gods of Egypt. ( The Nile god has his river turned to Blood. With the final plague, the royal family of Egypt and every Egyptian home have the firstborn son, the pride of every family, taken in the same night. Israel, the group that Pharoah feared would join his enemies, witnessed the fall of Egypt’s pride. The Israelite nation only wants out. It wants freedom. Pharaoh released these enslaved people and allowed them to walk away with the wealth of Egypt. The nation is finally “sent out” (the first word of this Torah reading Beshalach = “As He sent them out!”)
The last plague, which occurs just before Pharaoh releases the children of Israel, is when every firstborn in Egypt, beast or man, dies on the same night. Pharaoh begins to understand that it was not Moses and Aaron, his brother, who had the power to make the Plagues occur in Egypt. The problems of Egypt come from the God of Moses and Aaron, the God of Israel.
Of course, as soon as this group of enslaved people leaves Egypt, Pharaoh repents for releasing the children of Israel. He wants them back or dead! Israel leaving Egypt was reconsidered by Pharaoh, and he decided to bring them back or destroy them in the Sea or Wilderness of Sinai. The children of Israel took the wealth of Egypt by right. They made Egyptians wealthy by working for free as enslaved people for many years, building the cities of the dead in Egypt. Pharaoh has lost his firstborn son, and he can’t allow these vagabond slaves to be free. Pharaoh is losing his cheap labor and also his pride.
While all these emotions are working within Pharaoh’s heart and mind, the children of Israel are slaughtering young lambs, roasting and eating them, but eating standing up and quickly. The Angel of the Lord passed through the whole land of Egypt, and firstborn children and the first-born animals died in the arms of their families.
The Passover Feast is born on the very night that the firstborn of Egypt die. The Passover feast becomes a model of the Salvation of Israel and the world. The centerpiece of the Passover is the lamb! The lamb was raised for a few days in an Israelite home and killed on the evening before the children of Israel left Egypt.
Our Torah reading ends with a fascinating and exciting cycle that will repeat several times in Israel’s history. The biblical holidays of Passover, Purim, and Hanukkah (The feast of Dedication – John 10:22) are based on historical events that have the same paradigm: “They fear us, they hate us, they want to kill us, and God saves us, let us eat now and celebrate!” The most exciting and important thing about the Passover historical event and the feast of the Passover is that it became an eschatological basis for the end-time victory of God’s people ( and good) over the forces of evil in the universe!
The last universal event in the existence of this planet is the universal gathering of all the saints, the born-again followers of Yeshua gathering around the Great White throne. All the saints are dressed in white, and the Lamb of God sits on the throne. Everyone sings two songs, The Song of Moses (Exodus 15) and the Song of the Lamb. Both songs of victory and praise connect the end-time scene with the Passover and the Exodus from Egypt.
The Apostle Paul commands the Church in Corinth, a mixed congregation of Jewish and non-Jewish Disciples of Yeshua, to celebrate the Passover. Paul explains that Yeshua is the Lamb of God that takes away the world’s sins. Here is the text from 1 Corinthians 5:6-8:
“Your glorying is not good. Do you not know that a little leaven leavens the whole lump? Therefore, purge out the old leaven, that you may be a new lump since you truly are unleavened. For indeed Christ, our Passover, was sacrificed for us. Therefore, let us keep the feast, not with old leaven, nor with the leaven of malice and wickedness, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.”
My question for all our Christian brothers and sisters: Why are we not all celebrating and participating in the Passover meal? I read this text, and I see a command for the church, all of the church, with these precise words: “Therefore, let us keep the feast, not with the old leaven, nor with the leaven of malice and wickedness, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.”
The book of Revelation is built from the beginning to the end on the foundation of the Passover Feast and the Passover story. The Devil and all his angels are cast into the sea of fire, just as Pharaoh and his army were thrown into the Sea of Fire!
Our Torah portion connects us with the Passover, which connects us to Yeshua, our Messiah. Yeshua, our Messiah, joins us to the End of the World and Judgment Day. From this, we learn a fundamental lesson to enrich our lives and reconnect our Christian brothers and sisters worldwide with the Passover narrative and a better understanding of the church’s relationship to Israel!
Above all, we must prepare to sing the Song of Moses and the Song of the Lamb together. Just a reminder, dear brothers and sisters, we must see the biblical story from Genesis to Revelation as one story with two chapters: the complete revelation of God’s plan for His people who are all born again and redeemed by the Lamb of God that came to take away the sins of the world! Amen!