Friday, March 26, 2021

Identity Revealed at Pesach


We often tend to see our redemption at Pesach, when we were set free from the slavery to sin and death, on an individual basis.  But is that what YHVH meant when He said to Moses, “Go to Pharaoh and tell him… let MY people go”?  Obviously YHVH did not only have in mind random individuals, but an entire nation of His called out and chosen sons of Jacob.  YHVH was specifically setting this seed of Abraham on a historic journey into a future that will glorify Him, to the point that not only Israel will know that He is Elohim, but all the nations of this world. 

Thus, one of the most important aspects of the feast of Pesach is “identity”. Prior to that ‘first Pesach’ Elohim revealed Himself as “YHVH Elohim”, and then Israel was revealed as “His people”.  It was also the time when YHVH first introduced Himself to the enslaved nation:  “Therefore say to the children of Israel: ‘I am YHVH; I will bring you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians, I will rescue you from their bondage, and I will redeem you with an outstretched arm and with great judgments’” (Exodus 6:7).  This message that Elohim sent via Moses, was entirely foreign to those Hebrew slaves and idol worshipers (ref. Joshua 24:14; Ezeliel 20:8).  Pharaoh was not the only one who could not relate to the name “YHVH”, this blindness was also true of “My People”.  Hence without this season being marked by the restoration and re-identification of “His people”, now as it was also then, there is no true witness of Him being the great “I Am” of Israel.  

In Ezekiel 37 the whole house of Israel is pictured in a condition not unlike the slavery of their ancestors in Egypt.   The lifeless bones which the prophet was shown needed Divine intervention, and so it came, via the “four winds”. “Thus says Adoni YHVH: ‘Come from the four winds, O breath, and breathe on these slain, that they may live’” (Ezekiel 37:9: Mark 13:27).   In this vision the whole house of Israel is seen crying out, regarding their hopeless and helpless condition: “Our bones are dry, our hope is lost, and we ourselves are cut off!” (ver. 11).  Another description of “My people” is found in Ezekiel 34. This time as His sheep - sick, diseased, broken, bound, and lost (especially to their identity), as the false shepherds and leaders have dominated and forced them into submission (see verse 4). 

Fast forward to today, the majority of Israelites are still in the above-described conditions, but unlike their predecessors in Egypt, who at least “sighed because of the bondage” (Exodus 2:23), most of our contemporaries are unaware of their predicament.  Yet the promise still stands; “Adoni YHVH [says]: ‘Behold, O My people, I will open your graves and cause you to come up from your grave … Then you shall know that I am YHVH, when I have opened your graves, O My people, and brought you up from your graves’” (Ezekiel 37: 12-13). One more difference which characterizes our times is that, a remnant has been brought up out of those graves. When and how did that occur?  Paul points to the glorious day when the Heavenly Father raised the Redeemer Shepherd of Israel from His grave.  Since we were united to Him on the execution stake, having died (ref. 2 Corinthians 5:14-15) and buried with Him, we also “… were raised with Him through faith in the working of Elohim, who raised Him from the dead” (Colossians 2:12). This resurrection out of the grave is a testimony of the above-cited Ezekiel verses and is, at the same time, also what restored our identity as “His people Israel”. What’s more, being raised with Messiah we were granted eternal life (see Romans 6:23)! 

Echoing Isaiah’s prophecy of a covenant with Israel’s redeemed (59:20-21), Ezekiel prophesies: “I will put My Spirit in you, and you shall live, and I will place you in your own land. Then you shall know that I, YHVH, have spoken it and performed it,’ says YHVH” (Ezekiel 37:14). Once the “Spirit/breath” of life revives the body/nation amazing things start happening - we not only live, but we also stand upon our feet as an “exceedingly great army” (Ezekiel 37:10). 

Therefore, not unlike the identity of our ancestors of old, our identity and the identity of our Elohim are intricately woven together throughout the tapestry of history, commemorated especially at Pesach time.  So as we celebrate this year’s Seder, and hear those famous words “let My people go”, let us hold on to the vision that is cast before us, as we walk into the future following our Redeemer King.