Last September I wrote in our blog about the Jewish Feasts and why they have taken on a special meaning in our family. You can read that blog at Why Do We Care?: Why the Jewish Holidays and Feasts are Relevant to Christians. Today, I want to follow up a little on those feasts and what they mean to our family as well as believers throughout the world.
Before I talk a little about the Jewish holidays and feasts, I want to say a little bit about God. Everybody has their ideas of God and who He is and what He is about. I guess I’m no different. My experience of God throughout my years is that He is the most loving, patient and concerned being that I have ever met. In my worst moments in life, those moments when I bowed up my back in rebellion and decided that I knew better than He how to run my life (big mistake BTW), He did not waver from His commitment to me, His love for me and His hand upon me. That’s how I’ve come to know Him. That’s why when I pray about decisions now and I don’t get what I want, its okay. I understand God to have my best interest at heart and accepting that truth is much easier than in my younger days.
That said, the ways in which God has spoken to me through the years have been many and as I’m sure it has been for you. I am convinced that God has gone to great lengths to provide us with snap shots of Himself and there are places in life where these snap shots are like double exposures. Let me explain.
I know this is the digital age and I get that we don’t have the problem of double exposure very often. Some may not even know what I’m talking about. But back in the day we used to take pictures, rush down to the drug store where the film would be processed and then an hour later we would return to retrieve our pictures. It was not unusual to flip through the pictures and find some of the film was what was called “double exposed”. Basically Double Exposure occurred when 2 separate pictures became superimposed on one another telling two stories simultaneously. In most cases, one picture was more prominent and made its way to the forefront of perception while the other picture was somehow relegated to the background. Like these pics that were double exposed, the Jewish Feasts and Holidays are God’s double exposure. In the foreground, we have the Jewish story and tradition running. In the background, a second picture tells of the Messiah and the Heavenly Father (remember Jesus said if you’ve seen him you’ve seen the Father)!
One of the most spectacular double exposure pictures occurs in the Passover story. The Passover story is about the Hebrew nation being set free from 400 years of slavery and suffering. But emancipation from slavery is not the only story here. It is a story of rejection and broken relationship that includes a plan for God to repair and restore the relationship. The plan was the quintessential Father’s heart in action. God and Abraham entered into a covenant whereby God promised this old man that he would be the father of a great nation. Abraham wouldn’t see it on earth but he saw it in his spirit and he believed God. The story proceeds to tell of a famine that forced Abraham’s offspring, later renamed Israel, to live in Egypt whereby they could be fed. Israel became overrun with blessing and multiplied to the point that the Pharoah’s power base was threatened so he ordered them into slavery.
Fast forward 400 years. So much oppression, intense labor, denigration of the Jews and suffering have become the modus operandi. The prayers and cries of the Jewish people have mounted and God finally intervenes with a “savior”. His name is Moses and 10 awful plagues later the children of Israel, the progenies of Abraham, are summoned in the middle of the night and walk out of Egypt as free men, women and children. A miracle of God and one incredible story that has been told for centuries!
Now look again. If you look closely enough, you’ll see a second photo pasted in the background. Yes, Passover is the celebration of the deliverance of the Jews from tyranny and slavery. It is also the story of God guiding this incredible nation into a land that He reserved for them. Passover remembers the tears of heartache (the salt water), the bitterness of slavery and suffering (the bitter herbs) and the intense labor inflicted in slavery (the cheroset apples, walnuts and red wine). But it is also a revelation of God’s motivation to restore a broken relationship with all mankind and His plan to send a Messiah, through the seed of Abraham, that all might live free throughout eternity.
The story of the Messiah, Yeshua (Jesus), like the background photo in a double exposure film, runs constantly throughout Passover. Here are some of those images:
· FOREGROUND: The promise of timeless covenant with Abraham
BACKGROUND: The promise to create a people unto Himself for all eternity
· FOREGROUND: The fall of nation into slavery
BACKGROUND: The fall of man into the suffering of life without God
· FOREGROUND: The emergence of a deliverer – Moses
BACKGROUND: The emergence of a deliverer – Jesus the Messiah
· FOREGROUND: The sacrificial blood of a lamb applied to the doorpost that causes judgment to pass over
BACKGROUND: The sacrificial blood of the Lamb applied by faith to the heart, Jesus that allows judgment to be lifted from our lives
· FOREGROUND: The journey to Israel was led by God
BACKGROUND:The journey to heaven is led by God through His Spirit
· FOREGROUND: The Promised Land to the Jews, that is the land of Israel (hasn’t changed by the way!)
BACKGROUND: The promised land to whosoever would believe, that is heaven.
These are just a few of the double exposed images. The more you look at the details, the clearer the double exposure becomes. The Passover was a dress rehearsal of sorts. It was revealing what was and is to come. It was speaking not just of a nation being set free from tyrannical rule but an entire kingdom of people being set free from oppression to live in freedom and to do that throughout all eternity.
This is why we get excited about the Jewish holidays. Its like your spouse leaving notes around the house reminding you of their love and commitment to you: the double exposures found in the Jewish feasts and holidays are like God’s love notes reminding us of how much He loves us!
Its not just Passover. On June 12th, 50 days after Passover, we will celebrate Pentecost. Be looking for my next blog post around then as I discuss the Double Exposure of Pentecost.
M. Russell Thomas, PhD