Thursday, August 15, 2019

Beyond the Mountain (part IX)

Passover - A Gateway

Passover is of course the first of all of YHVH’s feast days, and one that is mentioned the most throughout the scriptures.   When examining the various aspects of Passover, there are several questions that come to mind: Why was a lamb chosen to be sacrificed in order for the firstborn of the Hebrews to be “passed over” (by the angel of death), thus also enabling Israel to leave Egypt (ref. Exodus 12:3)?  Why did YHVH remind Moses to observe the Passover before His firstborn nation Israel could take leave of Mount Sinai and begin the (intended) ‘take over’ of the land (ref. Numbers 9:1-5; 10:12-29)?  Why was Passover celebrated, again, when Israel first crossed into the land of promise (ref. Joshua 5:10)?  Why is the Passover lamb (Yeshua) also our gateway into newness of life and victory over our enemies?

These questions may be answered by the ‘cosmic’ Passover, alluded to in Revelation 13:8: “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(emphasis added). Likewise 1 Peter 1:19-20 states: “… the precious blood of Messiah, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot. He indeed was foreordained before the foundation of the world, but was manifest in these last times for you” (emphasis added). 

Thus it would appear that Passover was already established before the foundation of the world, as a means to pronounce and execute a judicial sentence against YHVH’s enemies (the kingdom of darkness).  Similarly, the Passovers mentioned above also have to do with a release or change that the Almighty was bringing about in the lives of His people.  In every one of the cases YHVH was confronting an enemy that was standing in His way of fulfilling His purposes. The specific timing of Passover (at the commencement of a new year), along with all of its statutes and ordinances is how YHVH ensures His peoples’ victories over their enemies. The importance of this appointed time for Israel’s Elohim is illustrated by the fact that even the cloud did not lift from the Tabernacle until all had been fulfilled concerning the Passover requirements. Thus this feast was the gate through which YHVH’s redeemed would move on beyond the Mountain.

Back at Mount Sinai, where YHVH has just enjoined Moses to observe the 14th day of the 1st month.  Immediately after, provision is made for those who were not able to celebrate at the prescribed time, so that they may do so on the 14th of the second month (ref. Numbers 9:10-11).  On the first of the second month, a census is taken of all the tribes’ males, 20 to 50 years old, for the purpose of conscripting them into the army (ref. Numbers 1:1-3).  At the same time, Moses makes two silver trumpets in order to communicate specific messages to the leaders, and to the people as a whole (ref. Numbers 10:2-10).

 “Now it came to pass on the twentieth day of the second month, in the second year, that the cloud was taken up from above the tabernacle of the Testimony.  And the children of Israel set out from the Wilderness of Sinai on their journeys; then the cloud settled down in the Wilderness of Paran.  So they started out for the first time according to the command of YHVH by the hand of Moses” (Numbers 10:11-13). Next is the detailed description of all the hosts of Israel being arrayed according to their tribal (and not birth) order (ref. Num. 10:14-28).

It is now approximately 34 days after the celebration of Passover, and “they departed from the mountain of YHVH on a journey of three days; and the ark of the covenant of YHVH went before them for the three days' journey, to search out a resting place for them.  And the cloud of YHVH was above them by day when they went out from the camp” (Numbers 10:33-34 emphasis added).

 Hallelu-Yah! This is the moment we’ve been waiting for. It’s almost a cliff hanger…  “they departed from the Mountain of YHVH…”. At last we are starting to move “beyond the Mountain”!  

Safe under the cloud, the army of Israel is about to follow their Commander and Chief.

We read on:  So it was, whenever the ark set out, that Moses said: ‘Rise up, O YHVH! Let Your enemies be scattered, and let those who hate You flee before You” (verse 35). YHVH was about to march in battle before His (obedient and believing) army. He was going to fight for them. And “when it [the ark] rested, he said: ‘Return, O YHVH the many thousands of Israel’" (verse 36, literal translation).  The army’s entrance to the land would have, by necessity, excluded the many non-combatants. But upon the cessation of the battles and with the ark coming to its rest, the others, “the many thousands of Israel”, would come in and join their countrymen. This is also a powerful prophetic picture pointing to the ultimate ingathering of YHVH’s people – the returning of the many thousands of Israel. 

In addition to the above accounts, it is also worthwhile to cite Moses’ reflections about that particular time, as he does retroactively in Deuteronomy. In 1:8, 21 he recalls what has been said to the Israelites at that time: “See, I have placed the land before you [“to your faces”, emphasis added] go in and possess [“r’shu” – wrest it by impoverishing its present residents] the land which YHVH swore to give to your fathers… and to their seed after them”.  This declaration is preceded, in 1:7, by the imperative “p’nu” (turn), which stems from the same root as “face” (see also Deut. 1:40, 2:1, 8). It seems that before YHVH was going to “give/place” the land before His people, they were required to make a “turn”, set their faces toward Him, as He has stated that He has already “given/placed” the land before them (Deut. 1:20, 21, 39). After “turning” they had to “see”. That is, they had to realize, by exercising faith, what their heavenly Father had already accomplished. Secondly, they had to go and take/wrest the land, based upon the former realization and premise, and act, again, in faith.

 Although YHVH declares (in Deut. 2:5, 9, 19 respectively) that He also “given Mount Seir to Esau as a possession” and “Ar [Mo’av] to the sons of Lot as a possession”, which also includes the Amonites, but nevertheless, He significantly omits the expression “before them”. Thus, although YHVH is sovereign over all peoples, He was notably going to treat His own in an exceptional manner.  He declares again to Israel (literal translation): “See, I have begun to give/place – “natati” – Sihon and his land over to you. Impoverishing begin to impoverish his land” (Deut. 2:31). It is YHVH who has also “hardened his [Sichon’s] spirit and made his heart obstinate that He might deliver him into your hand…” (2:30), having “mercy on whom He will, and whom He wills He hardens” (ref. Rom. 9:18).

Well and good. Now all is in place – the army, YHVH’s presence in the Tabernacle, and His encouraging and strengthening promises. Nothing more need be said. It is time to act!  Elohim has demonstrated His faithfulness, and the time has come for His people to respond in kind. 

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