A message of hope for Passover 2020
This blog is written at a time unprecedented in history – the whole world has been affected by a virus called the Coronavirus that has taken thousands of lives; caused financial crises overnight and left us with no safe place to hide. My mother is presently staying with my sister on a little island in the middle of the Caribbean…even there, lockdown has been extended for another two weeks and food queues are a kilometre long.
The calamities that have befallen the world in just a few months have also brought on a messianic fervour amongst both religious Jews and Bible believing Christians. I’m not sure whether there is any significance to this, but for only the second time in Jewish history, since the days of Moses and the Exodus, Jewish people will be “quarantined” in their houses during Passover.
My painting, “The Passover Lamb”, looks back to about 3,500 years ago when God called the Israelites out of Egypt. Under Moses, He gave them the ordinance to splatter the blood of a lamb on the doorposts and lintels of their homes. For their own safety they were commanded to stay indoors – much like us during lockdown – but in this case, it was only for one night.
However, it wasn’t social distancing that kept the Israelites safe but the blood of a year old male lamb without spot or blemish. Exodus 12:12 says,
“Now the blood shall be a sign for you on the houses where you are. And when I see the blood, I will pass over you; and the plague shall not be on you to destroy you when I strike the land of Egypt.”
Beneath the blood on the lintel, I have painted the words on the sign that was placed above the head of Yeshua when He died on the cross:
JESUS NAZARENVS REX IVDAEORVM
In English – “Jesus of Nazareth King of the Jews”. This title was also written in Greek and Hebrew.
The blood of the lamb shed at Passover, was a foreshadow of the blood that Yeshua shed on a cross outside the city of Jerusalem. A close examination of Scripture reveals that Jesus of Nazareth (Yeshua ha Notzri) was crucified at exactly the same time as the Passover Lambs were being slain. Passover commemorates the deliverance of the Israelites from a life of slavery, and Yeshua’s death, deliverance from sin. Just as the blood of a lamb protected the Israelite homes from the Angel of Death, so the blood of Yeshua heals us from spiritual death. This is not just a New Testament concept – in Isaiah 53:5 we read of a “Suffering Servant” who took the sins of Israel upon Himself:
“But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; the chastisement for our peace was upon Him, and by His stripes we are healed.”
Recently I heard someone say, “There is something worse than the Coronavirus (a hideous virus)…it is the virus of sin.” Fortunately, unlike the Coronavirus (as at April 5th, 2020), there is a fool-proof cure for sin: accepting by faith what Yeshua did on the cross, turning away from our old lives and becoming one of His disciples. In John 3:14 Yeshua spoke these words concerning Himself:
“And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life”.
When Jesus spoke about being lifted up, he was referring to the death that He would die on the cross. But it did not end there. On the third day He rose from the dead in fulfilment of Scripture. Isaiah 53:10 says,
“Yet it pleased the Lord to bruise Him; He has put Him to grief. When You make His soul an offering for sin, He shall see His seed, He shall prolong His days, and the pleasure of the Lord shall prosper in His hand. He shall see the labour of His soul, and be satisfied.”
Those who put their faith in Yeshua’s propitiatory death, whether they be Jew or Gentile, are the fruit/ labour of His soul.
This morning I was listening to an interesting message by Rabbi Alon Anava urging people to repent as Passover draws near, in preparation of the coming Messiah. His message was stirring and challenging and yet he missed the most important issue –
“Who is the Messiah?”
According to Scripture, Yeshua has fulfilled all the prophecies relating to the First Coming of Messiah – Messiah ben Joseph - one who would lay down His life for His People. At His Second Coming, He will return as the reigning King fulfilling the many prophecies in the Tenach which speak about Messiah ben David. Yeshua said that
“… the work of God, is to believe in Him whom God has sent”. (John 6:29)
“Who do you believe Him to be?”