Last week, I challenged us to prepare ourselves for this special season by not only doing some spring housecleaning but some spiritual as well. It’s that time of the year to clear out the clutter and the rubbish that we have been accumulating over the past year. So also it is that time to clean up our lives, and clear up the clutter and rubbish in our lives, to deal with bad habits, the wrong attitudes, the relationships that may have gone sour. Pride, like yeast, puffs us up into thinking more highly of ourselves than we ought to. Let’s purge out the old leaven of sin so that we can celebrate this feast, not with the old leaven of malice and wickedness but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.
During this Passover season, I want to look at this feast from three perspectives: the Historical, the Messianic and Prophetic. This feast has some of the richest and most profound truths of any of the other feasts. Passover was an historical event that took place almost 3,500 years ago, and yet the meaning of this feast is so profound and life changing that God commanded that it be observed throughout all of our generations.
Sh’mot (Exodus) 12:14 –
“So this day shall be to you a memorial; and you shall keep it as a feast to the Lord throughout your generations. You shall keep it as a feast by an everlasting ordinance. And it shall be when your children say to you, what does this ceremony mean to you. Then you are to tell them, It is a Passover sacrifice to the Lord, who passed over the houses of the sons of Israel in Egypt but spared our homes when He struck down the Egyptians.”
It is a story of freedom, of deliverance and redemption. It is a story of new beginnings of Israel’s birth as a nation, of God supernaturally appearing to His people as the El Shaddai.
Every Shabbat, I include the weekly Parashiot Torah study based on a torah portion for the Sabbath of that week. As we know, the Torah is divided into 54 torah portions that follow a yearly cycle, so that the first five books are read every year. The book of Genesis is divided into 12 portions, Exodus has 11, Leviticus 10, Numbers 10, and Deuteronomy 11 portions: Each Parashiot portion has a name. The name for the Torah portion this week is Sh’mot (Exodus) 35:1-38:20 is Va Yakhel – and he assembled. This is the 22nd portion.
The account of Passover covers four Parashiot portions:
- Sh’mot – the naming of a nation 1:1-6:11
- Va’era – And I appeared – God fulfills His covenant promise 6:2-9:35
- Bo – Enter – Israel enters their path to freedom 10:1-13:16
- B’Shalach – When he let go -Israel became a nation of destiny 13:17-17:16
I thought it would be appropriate to explain the historical meaning of this feast by going through these four Torah portions. This week, I want to look at the first two. Sh’mot – Names and Va’era (And I appeared). Next week Bo (Israel enters their path to freedom), B’shalach (when he let go). It is significant that the name for the book of Exodus in Hebrew is called Sh’mot, or ‘Names’ became the name of this first Torah portion 1:1-6:11.
The word Shemot is derived from the word ‘Shem’, which means name. Ha Shem is one of God’s names (God is called Ha Shem – the Name), b’Shem Yeshua (in the name of Yeshua), Baruch ha Shem (blessed be the Name).
There are several events that take place in this first Parashiot (1:1-6:11):
- Israel multiplies into a great multitude in Egypt
- The children of Israel become slaves, groaning under the bondage of slavery.
- The birth of Moshe
- Moshe kills an Egyptian and flees to the wilderness to the land of Midian
- God appears to Moses at the burning bush
- Moses is called to be Israel’s deliverer
- Moses and Aaron begin to carry out God’s plan
- Pharaoh responds by enforcing more hardship upon the children of Israel
The story of Passover begins in Sh’mot (Exodus) 1:1-5. The name of this book became the purpose for which God chose Israel, to make a name for Himself among the nations. Exodus begins with a list of the names of the 12 sons of Israel that came into Egypt. There were 70 in number. It was to be through a people that God would choose to establish a name for Himself throughout all the earth. The number 70 in scripture is significant. After the flood, Noah’s family grew to 70 and they repopulated the earth and came to represent the nations of the world. There were 70 in Jacob’s family who came down to Egypt and they grew into one nation chosen by Ha Shem – the Name.
Later, as Israel became organized as a nation, 70 elders were chosen to assist Moses in governing the people. Much later in Israel’s history they were sent into Babylonian exile for 70 years because of disobedience. The Bible also speaks of the 70 weeks of Daniel, the number of weeks of years decreed for Israel.
In the New Covenant we read of the Sanhedrin consisting of 70 elders who governed Israel. Yeshua sent out the 70 two by two to heal the sick, and to do the works of the kingdom. Israel’s 70 years of exile in Babylon was prophetic. The name Babylon symbolizes the world’s system. The number 70 symbolizes the time during which the power of the Gentile nations will triumph over Israel until the time of the 70 weeks of Daniel be fulfilled at which time God will restore Israel as head of the nations with Jerusalem as the eternal capital of the whole earth.
In the Book of Exodus we read that Jacob’s 70 grew into a great multitude of people. A nation was birthed within a nation. It is estimated that this 70 grew into a nation of over two million. The children of Israel became so fruitful that the Pharaoh of Egypt felt threatened by their growing presence and was determined to bring their growth under control. He turned them into a nation of slaves forcing them to do hard labor. But this didn’t work, and they grew even more. He instructed the midwives to kill all the newborn sons but the Egyptian women feared God more than pharaoh and would not kill them. Pharaoh became so fearful of Jewish overpopulation that he instituted his final solution, a program of genocide, a mass annihilation of all newborn Hebrew sons.
In the midst of this crisis God drew out of the water a son destined for death to become Israel’s deliverer. It was interesting how God used women as important instruments in the birth of Israel as a nation. It was the Egyptian midwives who showed favor to the Hebrews, It was Miriam who saved her brother Moses, it was the pharaoh’s daughter who drew Moses out of the water and raised him as her son, it was Zipporah, the wife of Moses, who saved Moses’ life by reminding him of the covenant of circumcision. Each one of them had an important part in Israel’s beginnings.
The name Moshe means drawn out of the water. This Moses who was drawn from the water was destined to lead his people out of Egypt as their great deliverer and bring them through the waters of the Red Sea. According to Jewish writings the astrologers of Egypt warned pharaoh that a deliverer was about to be born, which it is believed was the reason why Pharaoh wanted to slay all the newborn sons. This is a prophetic foreshadowing in the New Covenant of King Herod upon hearing the news that a king and deliverer of the Jews was to be born also conceived a plan to slay all the new born sons to prevent the Messiah, Israel’s deliverer from being born. Mt. 2:1-20 – 2:1-5,16 Passover has many messianic types that speak of the Messiah, and we will be looking at several of them.
We see the sovereign hand of God at work in that it was ironic that Moshe grew up in the very home of the Pharaoh’s daughter, the very one destined to defeat the Pharaoh of Egypt. God will always find a way and more often than not His ways are not our ways. God will always find a way when there seems to be no way. After Moses grew up into a young man, he saw the plight of his own people in slavery and he felt compassion upon them to the point that he even slew an Egyptian who was beating one of his own brethren. So also God saw the burden of His people and felt compassion upon them – God heard their groaning and their suffering and He remembered His covenant with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.
We read of another irony – After Moses had slain the Egyptian, Moses fled because of the words of his own people, when they said, “Who made you prince and a judge over us?” 1:14- Little did the people know that Moses would later become their prince and judge but Moses tried to take things into his own hands before it was God’s time. How many times are we guilty of trying to do things in our own way before we have learned to wait upon God for his time? When Moses slew this Egyptian he fled to the land of the Midians.
Moses fled to the wilderness and lived there for 40 years learning to be a shepherd. The stage was being set for Moses to return as Israel’s shepherd. It took God 40 years to get Egypt out of Moses and prepare him to be His chosen instrument. Moses had to go through a wilderness experience to purge the leaven of Egypt a type of the world out of his life. It wasn’t until Moses was 80 years old that he was ready to be used by God. Abraham waited 25 years, Jacob waited 14 years for his wife but Moses has the record for the longest wait for God to reveal his purpose. We have to learn to wait for God’s time. Is. 40 – Imagine, God choosing an eighty year-old man to be Israel’s deliverer! God is no respecter of age. Most people would think that an 80 year old is over the hill and on the way down but time and time again God has always used the foolish things of the world to confound the wise.
3: 1-6 The first time that God appeared to Moses was at Mt. Horeb in the form of a burning bush. The next time that God would meet Moses at this mountain would not be in a burning bush, but when the entire mountain would be aflame when God would give the law to His people.
When God spoke to Moses and called him to go and say to Pharaoh, Let my people go, what did Moses say? Vs.11 — Who am I? God said I AM has sent you! Moses said in Sh’mot (Exodus) 3:13 – 15.
This has always been God’s purpose throughout the ages to establish and make a name for Himself among the nations. Later in Israel’s history God spoke of the importance of His name.
“It is not for your sake O house of Israel that I am about to act, but for my holy name which you have profaned among the nations. And I will vindicate the holiness of my great name, which has been profaned among the nations… Then the nations will know that I am the Lord declares the Lord, when I prove myself holy among you in their sight. I will magnify myself and sanctify myself and I will be known in the eyes of many nations, then they shall know that I am the Lord.” Ezekiel 36.
God identifies Himself to Moses as I AM has sent you! The word I AM is known as the ineffable name (the inexpressible, indescribable name, unutterable name) God has many names and each one of them represents an attribute of his nature. When He demonstrates the attribute of compassion and mercy He is called Ha Shem – the name. When He executes judgment He is called Elohim. When He demonstrates His awesome power and miraculous nature He is called El Shaddai- Lord Almighty. The name I AM speaks of being eternal, of having no beginning or end. The one who was who is and who will be? This is another powerful messianic picture of Yeshua. In the New Covenant, Yeshua identified Himself as the I AM when He said in John 8, before Abraham was I AM. Yeshua consistently spoke of Himself as the I AM making Himself equal and one with the father. I and the Father are one. He who has seen me has seen the Father. Hebrews one says of Yeshua, He is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact manifestation of His nature and upholds all things by His power. He was in the beginning with God. He is the word that became flesh and dwelt among men. In Him all things hold together. Yeshua continually identified Himself as the great I AM, when He said, I am the bread of life, I am the light, I AM the door, I AM the good shepherd, the resurrection and the life, I AM the beginning and the end… Philippians 2:9 God has highly exalted Him and bestowed on Him a name which is above every name, that at the name of Yeshua every knee should bow and every tongue confess that Yeshua Ha Mashiach is Adonai. He is Lord. He is Ha Shem, He is El Shaddai, He is the great I AM. And so as Moses was having an awesome revelation of the great I AM at the burning bush, he was getting a glimpse of the one who was the one who would come after him to be Israel’s great deliverer. Hebrew 1:1,2, “God after He spoke long ago to the fathers in the prophets in many portions and in many ways. In these last days has spoken to us in His Son, whom He appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the world.”
We then come to the second Torah portion – Va’era – He appeared Sh’mot (Exodus) 6:2-9:35:
- Moses appears before the elders of Israel
- Moses appears to the Pharaoh of Egypt and warns him of God’s coming judgement if he will not let them go
- Moses appears before the Egyptians by turning the water into blood
- Frogs cover the land
- The Plague of locusts
- Cattle disease
- The plague of boils
- The plague of hail
Shmo’t which means Names describes the first Torah portion and now Va’era — God appeared. Read 6:1-5. In these two portions we see the unfolding purpose of God to deliver His people from slavery and bondage. God first appeared to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and now He – appeared to Moses in the burning bush. Then He appeared to His people through Moses and then He appeared to the people of Egypt through the plagues of judgement.
God’s entire purpose in this Sh’mot (Exodus) account was to enter into human history and draw out a nation of people from among the nations and choose them as His firstborn son, so that He might appear and make Himself known in the eyes of all the nations as the true God of heaven and earth. Shema… God told Pharaoh…. “For this purpose I have raised you up so that I may show my power in you and that my name may be declared in all the earth. For I am the Lord, your Holy One, the Creator of Israel, your King. I am the first and I am the last, I even I am the Lord and besides me there is no savior, besides me there is no God.”
At no other time in history did God ever appear and reveal Himself in such awesome power as He did during Israel’s exodus from Egypt. Deut. 4:32-35. Four thousand years later we are still talking about this incredible event. God outlines His promise of Israel’s deliverance in Sh’mot (Exodus) 6:6-8. These verses formed the foundation for the origin of why 4 cups of wine are used in the Passover Seder.
- I will bring you out from under the burden of the Egyptians – Cup of Sanctification
- I will deliver you from their bondage – Cup of judgement
- I will redeem you with an outstretched arm and with great judgments- Cup of redemption
- I will take you as my people and I will be your God. 4th. Cup – Cup of Praise. Judah, the tribe name, means praise.
Then I will bring you into the land which I swore to give to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and I will give it to you as a heritage.
In this torah portion God begins to reveal Himself by sending plague after plague to afflict the Egyptians: It is interesting that the specific plagues that God judged Egypt with corresponded to the gods that they worshipped. The first plague of Blood was a judgement against the Nile River whom the Egyptians worshipped. They believed that the Pharaoh’s had formed the Nile. As judgement upon their gods, God sent frogs, lice, flies, cattle disease, boils, and hail mixed with fire. Even after seven plagues of judgment, Pharaoh’s heart still grew harder and harder. It wasn’t until the tenth and final plague that Pharaoh finally let God’s people go.
The story of Passover is a powerful prophetic picture of what will take place in the last days when God will once again appear in power and great glory…
The book of Revelation is a powerful parallel of the Passover in Egypt. It contains a series of judgments that parallels many of the judgement that God poured out on the Egyptians. The difference is that this end time judgement will not be on one nation but every nation on earth will come under the judgment of God.
Many of the judgements spoken of in Revelation will be exactly the same type God poured out upon the Egyptians. God speaks of two witnesses who will execute this judgment. Rev. 11:6- “They have the power to shut up the sky, in order that rain may not fall during the days of their prophesying and they have power over the waters to turn them into blood and to smite the earth with every plague, as often as they desire.”
The book of Revelation speaks of three types of judgements that God will bring upon the earth to judge all those who dwell upon the earth. The seals, trumpets, and bowls. God will once again enter into history and reveal Himself and make Himself known in the eyes of all the nations. Just as in the days of Egypt God will judge the earth with plagues. Hail and fire mixed with blood will destroy a third of trees and grass, a third of all sea life. God will send locusts, boils, darkness, hail, intense heat, and a great earthquake, such as there has not been, since the earth was created. And just as Pharoah hardened his heart so also people on the earth will harden their heart Rev. 16:9-11, And during this time Yeshua will appear as He returns in power and great glory. Rev. 19:11-16 No longer as the Passover lamb but as the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. Mt. 24:29-31.
The story of Passover is an incredible story of God’s mighty deliverance of His people
written and / or assembled by Cal Goldberg, Rabbi, Beth Shechinah
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