Post Title: A Pilgrim's Confidence
Biblical Judaism is unique among the world's religions for sanctifying time — according to divine instruction — creating a vibrant rhythm to life that gives every season special significance. It also imbues Jewish history with meaning, both past, and present. Within the course of a year, all the key events of Jewish history are re-enacted and celebrated.
Highlighted in Exodus 23:14-17, the three pilgrim festivals are Passover (Pesach) in the spring, Pentecost (Shavu'ot) in early summer, then comes Tabernacles (Sukkot) in the fall.
Passover is such a rich subject and an incredibly fertile area of study. Rather than walk through the symbols of a seder meal, I want to go deeper into some of the essential ideas underlying and demonstrated in Passover. I want to examine the important principles from the perspective of how they can impact the way we live.
The Exodus from Egypt — punctuated by Passover — is all about the drama of God's great redemption. It is a journey he has ordained for his people. Passover redemption is the central paradigm of the Jewish faith, celebrated annually in Jewish homes throughout the world. It is an event that you and I need to understand because we, too, are called to remember and re-enact it in the context of sharing the Lord's Supper.
As followers of Jesus, the Feasts are another area in which we are indebted to our Jewish roots and forefathers. What light does Passover shine on our journey of redemption?
The first lesson Passover teaches us is this, the focus of biblical faith is on life in the present, on the here and the now.
The second lesson Passover teaches us is this, there is always an assurance of a future goal. That makes focus on the present possible.
That goal is continually set before the Jewish people in the very re-enactments they do on Passover. According to the biblical prophets, history shall someday culminate in a messianic redemption that will set everyone free—even the creation itself! We are in this together. And just as creation became corrupted through one man's disobedience, that same creation shall be redeemed through one man's obedience.
The first Adam brought corruption to creation; the second Adam is bringing redemption to creation. As his body took on its perfect form in his resurrection, so our bodies shall be raised and redeemed. And so this world shall be redeemed, a new heaven and a new earth, or to use a Hebraic concept, a renewed heaven, and a renewed earth.
We operate here and now, but we are ever assured of the future, that in the end, God wins. That is the essence of all apocalyptic thinking.
Contrary to every contingency, every suffering, every persecution, every bit of chaos, disorder, relativism, and immorality abounding—despite it all, God shall triumph, and he will use his people to do it. As a liberating event, the Exodus will be written large someday, in which the universe itself will be freed from its bondage and transformed into a new heaven and a new earth. Selah.
Many passages of scripture are read during the weeklong Passover celebrations. Those with a grand vision of the day of the Lord, such as Isaiah 11 and this passage from Micah 4.
1 It shall come to pass in the latter days
that the mountain of the house of the LORD
shall be established as the highest of the mountains,
and it shall be lifted up above the hills;
and peoples shall flow to it,
2 and many nations shall come, and say:
“Come, let us go up to the mountain of the LORD,
to the house of the God of Jacob,
that he may teach us his ways
and that we may walk in his paths.”
For out of Zion shall go forth the law,
and the word of the LORD from Jerusalem.
3 He shall judge between many peoples,
and shall decide disputes for strong nations far away;
and they shall beat their swords into plowshares,
and their spears into pruning hooks;
nation shall not lift up sword against nation,
neither shall they learn war anymore;
4. but they shall sit every man under his vine and under his fig tree,
and no one shall make them afraid,
for the mouth of the LORD of hosts has spoken.
5. For all the peoples walk
each in the name of its god,
but we will walk in the name of the LORD our God
forever and ever.
The feasts of Israel, these holy days, represent both the goal and the means of our redemption journey.
They re-stage and re-enact the great events of biblical history and, in so doing, remind and reaffirm to us God's sovereignty in this world. They instill in us a confident hope that what we are heading to is not a whimper (contrary to what T.S. Elliot said); what we are heading to is a shout, a cry of victory.
There will be tears, there will be suffering, there will be troubles, the faithful shall be tested—and you will be called to be witnesses, even not counting your life to be something to hold onto. But it is all worth it for the glory set before us.
That glory is not just your individual, spiritual salvation. The glory set before us is that the whole earth shall be covered with the knowledge of Yahweh!
In that day, his Name shall be one, and his people shall be one. There shall be nothing but the increase of his government resulting in shalom (peace, well-being, integrity, wholeness) for all.
This is a glorious redemption beyond our imagination. We need the Spirit's help to break out of our little ways of thinking and enter more fully into God's cosmic perspective.
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This study is from a professionally produced transcription of the audio recording. It was edited for readability by the team at JC Studies.
Dwight A. Pryor (1945-2011) was a gifted Bible teacher of exceptional clarity and depth who earned the friendship and admiration of both Christian and Jewish scholars—in the United States and Israel—as well as the respect and appreciation of followers of Jesus around the world. His expertise in the language, literature, and culture of Israel during the life and time of Jesus and the early church yield insights that nourish every area of faith and practice.
Dwight founded JC Studies in 1984 to edify the people of God. Click here to explore over fifty of his audio and video seminars.