Why is this Night Different from All Other Nights?

by Betsy Roy

Good question! This is the question asked by the youngest member in a Jewish family during the Passover Seder Meal celebrated each year.

The question in the Bible is actually “What do you mean by this service?” The answer is “It is the sacrifice of the LORD’s Passover, for he passed over the houses of the people of Israel in Egypt, when he struck the Egyptians but spared our house.” (Exodus 12:26, 27). The LORD also instructed them to keep this feast at its appointed time from year to year so that they would remember what HE did for them throughout their generations. (Exodus 13:3-10)

Passover this year (2020) begins at sundown on April 8th and goes to sundown on April 16th. Many of us are familiar with the story of the Exodus from Egypt and the basic teaching of Passover when the death angel passed over the homes of the Hebrew people who had the blood of a lamb on the doorposts and lintels so as to spare the death of the first-born (the last plague Exodus 12:21-24).

How is it pertinent in our day especially this year as the world is under the scourge of COVID-19?

Passover is not only a feast of remembrance. It is also a present reality with prophetic meaning. There is much to be learned as we study the prophetic scriptures. God has a plan. Much has been fulfilled but much is still to be fulfilled as we await the glorious return of the Lord!

Many of us are under a “shelter at home” or “shelter in place” directive right now here in the USA. People in Israel are forbidden by the government to leave their homes for 3 days during this Passover. Also, they are not allowed to celebrate with their extended families (which is traditional) but only with those who live under the same roof. Is God saying something to Israel and to His Church throughout the nations? I believe that He is.When I reflect on the Exodus and the Passover meal the Lord Jesus shared with his disciples (Luke 22:14-22), his suffering, his death and his resurrection I am reminded that God is a God of Covenant! He is a Covenant-keeper. We see this theme throughout the Scriptures in both the Hebrew Scriptures and the New Covenant. The Lord Jesus is the fulfillment of God’s Covenants with us.

God has made A Covenant of Peace with us. 

“‘For the Mountains may depart and the hills be removed, but my steadfast love shall not depart from you, and my covenant of peace shall not be removed,’ says the Lord who has compassion on you.” (Isaiah 54:10) We certainly need that peace, that shalom, in these days. In Hebrew the word shalom (peace) is not the absence of trouble, not the absence of war. Rather it speaks of wholeness and completion in our lives which includes provision and health to us physically, spiritually and emotionally. This covenant of peace was promised to the Levitical priesthood in Numbers 25:10-13 and for us as believers this is extended to us today as we are also a part of this perpetual and royal priesthood (1 Peter2:9). Remember that one of Jesus’ titles is “Sar Shalom” which means Prince of Peace! Even in this time of great distress in the world and very difficult circumstances we can be a people that have God’s peace as an anchor to our souls and a witness to others.

Let’s remember that the Lord isn’t finished with us yet. Yes, it’s a very difficult season but it is the beginning of birth pains (Read Matthew 24:1-14), not the Great Tribulation. It is a very important sign and I believe one we must pay attention to individually and corporately as the Church. It is a huge shift; the ending of one era, and the beginning of another era. We cannot return to “the way we were”.  Let us be about our Father’s business and usher in the return of the Lord. May our cry be “Maranatha! Maranatha!”, Come Lord Jesus Come. As surely as God has fulfilled His promises through the first advent of our Messiah so the final promise of His return will be accomplished also at His second advent. (Revelation 19:11-16).  Hallelujah!

Lastly, allow me to pray for you please. Father God, in the mighty name of Jesus I lift up the reader right now. Father, I ask for your assurance of peace for them in the knowledge of Christ Jesus our Lord and Savior. You know what is going on in their life. Please reveal yourself to them. If they are in need of repentance then I pray for your loving conviction upon their hearts to draw them to ask forgiveness knowing that you are willing to forgive and to cleanse their hearts. If they are in emotional or mental turmoil I ask that they cast their cares upon you knowing that you care for them and will shelter them under your wings of love. If they are fearful, anxious, or in grief, I ask that you comfort them and make provision for them. If they are ill, I ask for your healing touch on their bodies restoring them to health. Father, I apply the blood of the pure and spotless Lamb, the blood of Jesus over our homes and families. Thank you that it is protection, a place of shelter for us. Father, I thank you that you hear us when we call out to you and that Jesus ever lives to make intercession for us before Your throne of grace. I thank you that you are the same yesterday, today, and forever. May our eyes look upon Jesus, the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. Amen

Women of the Word has corporate prayer on Tuesdays and Thursdays at 8 pm (EST). We invite you to join us. Please visit our website by clicking here. 

Betsy Roy is the Director of Women of the Word, an inter-generational ministry dedicated to helping women grow as disciples of Jesus by applying God’s Word through the power of the Holy Spirit. WOW holds conferences, retreats, Bible seminars and trips to Israel

Betsy and her husband Jim lead the trips to Israel, which include visiting with local believers, both Messianic and Arab. Together they have 3 daughters and 4 grandchildren which are the delight of their hearts. God’s mercy endures from generation to generation.

 

 

 

Why was Resurrection “on the Third Day”? Two Answers

by Lois Tverberg

Every year during Holy Week, Christians scratch their heads over questions about Jesus’ being raised “on the third day.” We look at our calendars and see that Sunday comes only two days after Friday. Elaborate schemes have been worked out to make the timing make more sense.

 

One neglected cultural detail suggests a simpler answer. Throughout the Bible, Jews counted time this way:

– Today

– Tomorrow

– Third day

What they call the “third day” we would call “the day after tomorrow.” It sounds surprising, but here are a couple examples:

When you offer a sacrifice of peace offerings to the Lord, you shall offer it so that you may be accepted. It shall be eaten the same day you offer it or on the day after, and anything left over until the third day shall be burned up with fire. (Leviticus 19:5-6)

The Lord said to Moses, “Go to the people and consecrate them today and tomorrow, and let them wash their garments and be ready for the third day.” (Exodus 19:10-11)

The idea is not to count 24-hour time spans but to name successive days, including the day of an announcement, which was understood as the “first day.” If an announcement came towards the end of a day, the beginning of the “third day” could arrive not much more than 24 hours later.

Seen in this light, if Jesus died and was buried on Friday, it would be completely logical that Sunday would be seen as the “third day.”

Why was the “Third Day” so Significant?

Understanding how the Jews counted days solves one mystery for our logical, Greek-thinking brains. But another insight comes from looking at Jesus’ words about “the third day” more Hebraically.

In several places we hear Jesus talk about his death, but then how he’d be raised on “the third day.” He makes this prediction over and over. Jewish scholar Pinchas Lapide thinks that he did so because of a motif that Jewish teachers had noted in their Scriptures that reminded them of a promise from Hosea:

Come, let us return to the Lord;
for he has torn us, that he may heal us;
he has struck us down, and he will bind us up.
After two days he will revive us;
on the third day he will raise us up,
that we may live before him. (Hosea 6:1-2)

Hosea had rebuked the people of Israel for their sins, and they knew they were suffering from God’s punishment. But then the prophet invited them to return to the Lord, issuing a gracious promise that God’s forgiveness would soon come. Today might be a terrible day of his anger, but tomorrow would be better, and in not too long, life would seemingly begin again. This message gave them hope that even when God was angry, he desired to forgive.

When the rabbis looked back on the Scriptures in light of Hosea’s words, they noticed several places where the “third day” was when redemption came. They were not being woodenly literalistic in counting up days. They were not developing codes and prediction schemes. They were saying that scripturally, God’s forgiveness and redemption comes on “the third day,” poetically speaking.

Lapide writes that in Jewish thought,

“On the third day” has nothing to do with the date or the counting of time but contains for ears which are educated biblically a clear reference to God’s mercy and grace which is revealed after two days of affliction and death by way of redemption.

It made perfect sense to Jesus’ first Jewish followers that Christ would be raised to life “on the third day.”

 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

* Genesis Rabbah 56. Pinchas Lapide, The Resurrection of Jesus: A Jewish Perspective (Minneapolis, Fortress: 1982), 91-93.

For more about this motif of “the third day,” see p 214-216 in Reading the Bible with Rabbi Jesus (Tverberg, Baker, 2018).  It is part of a larger section called “Reading about the Messiah” (p 178-250) which discusses the distinctively Jewish, Hebraic way of reading the Bible that Jesus used to communicate his Messianic identity. Some of his boldest claims float right past us because we don’t know how he read his Scriptures, our Old Testament.

(Images: Raw Pixel, Dion Tavenier)

Original blog posted at ourrabbijesus.com. Re-posted here with permission.

Lois Tverberg

Lois Tverberg holds a Ph.D in biology and was a college professor. While in a Bible study class she became interested in studying the Bible in it’s cultural context. Discovering the answers to head-scratching questions and sharing the “ah-hah” moments with others became a passion. She began learning Hebrew and Greek, studying in the land of Israel, and exploring recent scholarship on Jesus’ first-century Jewish world. Ultimately, she left a life in academia to devote herself full-time to teaching and writing on the topic, and now has been at it for almost twenty years. She has authored five books and also directs the En-Gedi Resource Center, an educational ministry. 

Lois will be the speaker at “Through the Eyes of Jesus”, a Bible study seminar for men and women in Janesville, Wisconsin April 13 & 14, 2018. Registrations close April 6, 2018.

Registration includes Saturday lunch. Our time together will include worship, teaching, and practical application via round-table discussion. You will receive materials to take home with you for ongoing study. Information here.

Women of the Word is an inter-denominational, inter-generational, and inter-cultural ministry dedicated to transforming lives into the image of Jesus through growing disciples taught by God’s Word and empowered by the Holy Spirit. We honor our elders, learning from them as they mentor us. We value and strengthen the middle-aged. We seek to reach the millennials and younger generations to encourage and mentor them in the ways of the Lord. Our prayer is that we honor God together. We welcome men to join us at Bible seminars such as “Through the Eyes of Jesus” and on our Amazing Israel Adventure trips. 

Jesus Celebrated Passover

by Betsy Roy

During Passover and “Holy Week”,  our focus is rightly on the things that transpired during this season in the life of Jesus (Yeshua in Hebrew). Glorious LORD JESUS! Psalm 116:12 says, “What shall I render to the LORD for all His benefits to me?” Indeed! We cannot. But, we can set our hearts to follow hard after Him and honor Him with our lives as faithful disciples.

Sometime we get so busy with all the practical preparations, like cleaning,  cooking, and Easter egg hunts that we truly forget what this season is all about. We forget the purpose which is stated by God several times in Exodus Chapters 7-10, “Let my people go, that they may serve (sometimes translated ‘worship’) me!”  God’s purpose has not changed since the time of the Exodus. Jesus came to set us free from all that holds us in bondage so that we may serve (worship) Him and one another in spirit and in truth.

I encourage you to take time during this season which extends past Resurrection Sunday or “Easter” to read God’s Word and ponder it in your heart. Exodus 12 tells us how God instituted Passover. Do you see how it prefigures Jesus? In the New Testament, Jesus celebrated the Passover with his disciples. Read Luke 22:7 – 20. During the Passover Seder, Jesus instituted what Christians now call “Communion”. This all has great significance for us as believers in Jesus. Then read the rest of Luke 22 – Luke 24. Sometimes we are so familiar with a “bible story” that we miss some important revelations the Holy Spirit wants to show us because we don’t take the time to read it prayerfully. What is the text saying to you? How are you to apply the text so that you grow in grace and in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ? Does an understanding of Passover from the Hebrew Scriptures (the Old Testament) enrich what your read in the New Testament? Prayerfully so!

Also consider prayerfully reading the prophetic scriptures of Isaiah 42:1 – 4, Isaiah 49:1 – 6, Isaiah 50:4 – 9, and Isaiah 52:13 – Isaiah 53:12 known as the “Servant’s Songs” which speak of Messiah Yeshua (Jesus). 

This year (2018) Passover begins at twilight March 30 and goes till sundown April 7.  Passover is really a “season of liberation”. It includes the Feast of Passover,  the Days of Unleavened Bread and the Feast of Firstfruits. Jewish people read certain scriptures during this time and Messianic Believers add readings from the New Testament. I encourage you to read them. A great resource is Hebrew for Christians, which lists the scriptures and also teaches about this season which ends with the Feast of Shavuot (Pentecost) on May 19, 2018.

The celebration of the Passover Seder will occur throughout the world in Jewish homes this year (2018) beginning at twilight on March 30 (Nisan 14, beginning Nisan 15 on the Hebrew calendar). It’s an excellent time to pray for the salvation of Jewish people. Pray that their eyes will be opened and they see that Yeshua (Jesus) is their Messiah.

This year (2018) “Good Friday” falls on Passover. Because the Gregorian calendar, which we observe, and the Hebrew calendar are different, Passover and Easter fall on different days every year. While as Christians we might not take part in a Passover Seder, we can join in by also remembering what happened then and what happened to Jesus, the perfect Passover lamb! Let’s remember and rejoice because Jesus has set us free and wants to deliver us from every bondage so we can live the abundant life He has promised us; a life where we are free to follow Him as His disciples, serve Him, His people and gather in His harvest of souls.

Let’s give Him praise! The Hallel (praise) Psalms of 113 – 118 are read during the Passover Seder. We can read them too! Let’s begin right now!

“Praise the LORD! Praise, O servants of the LORD, praise the name of the LORD! Blessed be the name of the LORD from this time forth and forevermore! From the rising of the sun to its setting, the name of the LORD is to be praised! (Psalm 113:1, 2)

The Garden Tomb, Jerusalem

We have great reason to celebrate because our Savior is not dead. HE IS RISEN. HE IS ALIVE. The grave could not hold Him. The tomb is empty and because He lives, we have hope and we can face tomorrow. Yes, life has its difficulties and pain, but Jesus has promised to never leave us, nor forsake us. May this reality encourage you and may you truly experience His peace and joy during this season. The Lord abundantly bless you!

Wreath pictured with lilies from wreathswithareason.com, a non-profit organization that raises awareness and funds to combat sex-trafficking. 

Betsy Roy is the Director of Women of the Word, an inter-generational ministry dedicated to helping women grow as disciples of Jesus by applying God’s Word through the power of the Holy Spirit. WOW holds conferences, retreats, Bible seminars and trips to Israel

Betsy and her husband Jim lead the trips to Israel, which include visiting with local believers, both Messianic and Arab. Together they have 3 daughters and 3 grandchildren which are the delight of their hearts. God’s mercy endures from generation to generation.