The Passover: God “Shows Up” and God “Sets Up” by Robert F. Wolff
PLEASE WELCOME MY SPECIAL GUEST
Robert F. Wolff
of Majestic Glory Ministries
It is my pleasure to introduce to you Rabbinic Pastor Robert F. Wolff of Majestic Glory Ministries as we continue our series, The LORD’s Feasts. This week he will be introducing us to Pesach, The Feast of Passover. Robert and I first became acquainted in 2013 through an APPA gathering in East Stroudsburg, PA during Sukkot where the Native American people assembled with other believers from around the world. Through a series of emails and phone conversations we have discovered a strategic connection for the sake of the global Church, the Native American people, and of course, Israel. Robert’s passion and purpose, as a Messianic believer, is to help establish an understanding of the One New Man spoken of in Ephesians 2:11-22. He is an author of several books, of both individual and collaborative work. He is a Rabbinic Pastor and the founder of Majestic Glory Ministries. He partners extensively with other Jewish believers and like-hearted ministries to help illuminate the Hebraic roots of Christianity. He also works with the Native American and First Nations people in fostering covenant with Israel, which began among the Navajo. It is an honor and pleasure to have him as a guest here. Please welcome Rabbinic Pastor Robert F. Wolff, as he takes us deeper into an understanding of Pesach, The Feast of Passover!
The Passover: God “Shows Up” and God “Sets Up”
Perhaps the most startling aspect of the Passover story is the fact that God so obviously intervenes into the affairs of humanity. For all our hopes and prayers that the Lord will “Show Up” to answer our needs, we seldom if ever see God perform overt miracles anywhere near the magnitude of the first Passover. It is clear that God “Set Up” Passover to do something that would never be forgotten.
The whole Pesach episode is bathed in divinely ordained events that defy any rational attempts to claim coincidence. A brief overview of this all-too-familiar story demonstrates the precise timing and supernatural staging of a drama that never fails to inspire. In fact, the more we study this outpouring of providence, the deeper runs our reverence for God. The inevitable conclusion is that God wants us to know Him and remember His ways. Remembrance is an overriding theme to Israel.
God “Sets Up”
As peculiar and particular events are put into motion to show us God’s handiwork, we soon realize that we have been royally “Set Up.” The week of PASSover, and the manifesto of God’s sovereign will in the corresponding PASSion Week have so many parallels that we are unable to PASS them by or overlook His obvious Master plan. God knows how to gain our total attention. Discovering this “Set Up” is the prelude to God’s symphony. Let’s watch God as He “Sets Up” Moses.
As the story unfolds, Moses’ life is saved as an infant; he grows up in Pharaoh’s own house; is nursed by his own mother; is instructed by the wise teachers; and becomes a mature man of 40 who comes to understand as he tries to reckon his Hebrew heritage. Seeing injustice, Moses feels compelled to take action – strong action. His decision places him in direct opposition to Egyptian authority. Moses risks his high standing to help those who are oppressed. However, his choice to take the life of an Egyptian taskmaster to protect his brethren results in his expulsion and miserably fails to gain any favor from his own people.
Moses ends up without any haven. Pharaoh’s minions are now searching for him – a former member of Pharaoh’s elite, now labeled a traitor. And the Jewish slaves he hoped to vindicate want no part with a murderer, even if the crime was committed to provide mercy against his downtrodden peers. Moses is in exile. He is outcast, alone, homeless, disconnected, disillusioned, dejected, and rejected.
Take note of how God separates and isolates those whom he wants to use mightily. Accepting our connection to God requires our willingness to disconnect from human standards of behavior. For God to download His ways and values into the life of a human being, means we must allow ourselves to have our previous values totally overhauled. How do you think Moses would have described his life prior to his encounter with God at the burning bush? I expect it would not read well.
Moses has had an extended sojourn in the desert. No doubt this was surely God’s way of softening his chosen prophet’s heart. Here begins the seminal wilderness saga as a man struggles to find his soul in the crucible – a place devoid of humanity and urban distractions. The Desert. The word says it all. Dry, barren, harsh, coarse, unforgiving.
This “Set Up” required the better part of 15,000 days in the making. While we don’t know how swiftly God can change a man’s heart, think about that stretch of life that Moses spent in Midian, on the far side of the desert, tending sheep. Interminable.
Long before Moses returns to Egypt, four full decades of desert will stretch out before God’s chosen vessel. And how ironic that, after returning to Egypt to lead the children of Israel to the Promised Land, it will take another 40 years in the desert to complete the cycle. Think about that the next time you think God is taking too long.
Now God can bring His meek one to the burning bush. Now Moses will listen without interference. Now God has the full attention of the man He will use to set His captives free. Now God “Shows Up” at the bush than burns, but is not consumed. Moses is now God’s man for the job.
The final step of this prelude brings Aaron to help his younger brother Moses. Moses cannot do this alone. And God provides the missing link. The next stop is Egypt.
God “Shows Up”
Look at all that had to be performed by God’s hand to free Israel from captivity. The positioning of people, places and plagues stirs up our curiosity. Imagine the dispatching of the angelic hosts into position to enact these celestial theatrics.
On a human scale I’d like to have a ringside seat to see into the heavenly realm as the Lord activates the archangels, whispers secrets to the seraphim, and challenges the cherubim to be on guard. A screenplay would be spectacular:
God enters stage left. Glorious lightnings and thunderings abound. Bells and ringing. Sounds of waves and churning waters. Worship saturates the air. All are prostrate as He takes His throne. Present are Captains and Centurions; fiery chariots sporting wheels within wheels; Angels fill the sky, legions broadcast in all directions. All the hosts of heaven are poised for instantaneous response to their Ruler as God reviews those gathered and prepares to toss out commands to His assembled champions:
Saint Peter announces, “Places everyone!”
Saint Paul instructs, “Roll ‘em!”
The Lord God speaks, “We’re going to take Pharaoh down. Here’s how we’re going to do this. There will be ten plagues. Each plague will destroy an idolatrous stronghold in Egypt. This is the moment we’ve been waiting for.”
The Lord pauses. “Are you ready?”
A thunderous response shakes the set. “Yes! Send us! Hosanna! Save your people!”
The Lord shoots out orders:
“I want the Nile turned into blood.”
“I’m sending frogs everywhere.”
“Then I’m unleashing lice.”
“That will attract flies, lots of flies. But not one fly in Goshen!”
“Next we are going to attack the livestock. Remember, hands off the Hebrews.”
“I’ll need boils too. I’m going to make their skin crawl.”
“The heavens will open with hail. I mean big hail. The crops will be smashed.”
“Swarms of locusts will swoop in to consume the rest. Make ready the east wind.”
“I’m blocking out the sun too. No light for a few days. I mean zero rays.”
“Finally the Angel of Death will finish the job. Tell him to sharpen his scythe.”
“OK. You have your assignments. Now let’s get cracking.”
“Oh, We’re going to need some special effects at the Red Sea and Mount Sinai too.”
I’m bringing some humor into an earthshaking series of happenings for the purpose of stimulating our minds as to the magnitude of God’s movements. The scale of undertakings is completely beyond comprehension. But in fact, all of these things took place.
This forges the backdrop for the clash of wills between the most powerful leader on earth and a meek, broken sheepherder. The Exodus is one of the defining moments in the history of humanity. This would have never achieved Israel’s release from captivity unless God sovereignly intervened. The dynamic contest between formidable emperor and former enslaved was intentionally elevated to center stage for every person who occupied the civilized world to view. This encounter was the biggest and boldest thing ever to have hit the planet.
On one hand was Pharaoh, the potentate of Egypt. Claiming deity, he was catered to for every aspect of his royal life. He held absolute authority to do whatever he pleased. People would cower before him. None would even think to challenge his power. Consider the ultimate honor Egypt brought to their ruler as massive pyramids built by generations of Jews were constructed for the purpose of sustaining their corpses. Pharaoh is the epitome of a formidable foe.
On the other hand was Moses, upstart leader of the Jews. Here’s a man who mysteriously appears on the scene, having disappeared a couple of generations back. He was broken. He had forsaken all the trappings of palatial power and returned to Egypt with some wild idea he was going to take all (that’s right ALL) of his brethren out of town to worship God in the desert. Absurd. Preposterous.
Talk about a “Set Up.” Our God loves drama because it glorifies His Name! We tend to focus on the struggles and the shortcomings, yet God uses everything for good.
In fact, life and death situations serve to deepen our understanding of the Ancient of Days. Like it or not, death heightens the virtues of living. When God asks for a sacrifice, He knows that it will test our resolve to live holy lives.
There is no greater litmus test than asking if we are willing to die to protect the mountain on which we stand. God asks us to sacrifice our best. He wants our best lamb. He wants our best worship. He wants Isaac’s son. And He wants us to know that He cares so much for us that He will sacrifice His own Son. All this is crystallized in Pesach. The blood on the doorposts means we give everything we have for God.
Directing the Drama
I suppose Pharaoh found Moses’ declaration humorous. One word from him and Moses would have been a goner. This Hebrew could not have appeared to be a threat. Granted that Israel’s population numbers had greatly inflated and an uprising was a distant possibility. Pharaoh must have been impressed by Moses’ boldness. We can start to comprehend why God had to “Set Up” Pharaoh, just as He had “Set Up” Moses.
Furthermore, Moses was getting to Egypt late in the game. The slaves had already been working for 400 years. Such a startling shift for treating the slaves was not going to be taken seriously. So Pharaoh probably decided to humor him. But the game didn’t go as planned. Initially Pharaoh decides to put more pressure on his workforce by adding to their burdens. This move was guaranteed to tarnish Moses’ reputation.
Pharaoh knew how to play rough. He was used to being in complete control. But once the plagues started, things heated up and the stakes got high very quickly.
In this battle of wills, Pharaoh didn’t want to take Moses out of the picture. That was too easy. He was waiting for the Hebrew to fall on his face. Pharaoh anticipated Moses would ask for too much and wouldn’t be able to deliver the goods. It was just a matter of time before this upstart Hebrew was going to end up embarrassed and powerless. Pharaoh had always planned to win this confrontation. Loss was never an option.
Remarkably, within the biblical account of this contest there are oft-repeated terms (nineteen times in the concordance) concerning Pharaoh’s heart being “hard;” Pharaoh “hardened” his heart; and the most astounding statement spoken by God, “I will harden Pharaoh’s heart.”
It is unmistakably clear that God is intervening in the midst of this dispute. Pharaoh is being used to display God’s destiny for His beloved children. Just as God intentionally “Set Up” Judas Iscariot to betray Yeshua, the Lord has pre-ordained the outcome of the Passover and the Passion to draw our attention to His highest call.
Stronger than God’s call for Israel to go to the desert; more awesome than the splitting of the Red Sea and the rending of the heavens; superseding all the anguish and fear of death, is God’s heart cry to His loved ones. “Come to Me!”
God longs to be near to us. But this won’t happen unless we long to be with Him. The scriptures tell us that God brought Israel “to himself.”
Then Moses went up to God, and the Lord called to him from the mountain and said,
This is what you are to say to the descendants of Jacob and what you are to tell the people of Israel: ‘You yourselves have seen what I did to Egypt, and how I carried you on eagles’ wings and brought you to myself’ [Exodus 19:3-4 emphasis added].
God orchestrated the Exodus to call Israel to her great destiny. Israel would be released from bondage through manifold manifested miracles to display the magnitude of God’s awesome purposes for His creation. Yahweh would start with Abraham; He would multiply his descendants; He would bring them into captivity; He would deliver them from bondage; He would appoint Israel to be a kingdom of priests, a holy nation; He would give them His Torah on Mount Sinai; He would separate and sanctify His beloved; then He would send Messiah to reconcile all the sin and all the separation to become children of God, One New Humanity, made in the image of His Son Yeshua.
But God would not do these things without an audience. Not because He craves attention, as much as He enjoys being with us, but because He wants us to know from whence we came and to whither we shall return. And all this is predicated on our decision to accept the One whom He sent – Yeshua, God’s own Son.
God’s plan for the salvation and redemption of humanity requires our participation. With all that the flesh has to offer and the strongholds that hold humanity captive, God determined to show Himself in ways that are unmistakable. So He steps into the middle of human activity and reveals his splendid domain in a carefully selected moment in time. God “Shows Up.”
Passover is the telling of this story. Passover is abuzz with miracles. There is awe. There are clearly defined lines drawn between opposing forces. There are life and death battles that will forever echo down through the ages. Recorded through the diaries of days, all other confrontations pale in comparison to the parting of the Red Sea and the subsequent swallowing of every vestige of Egypt’s might.
Again, at the festival of Shavuot, the Hebrew holiday in remembrance the giving of Torah, God “Shows Up” to Moses on Mount Sinai. Like Pesach, this is one of the three major feasts when all Israel comes to Mount Zion in Jerusalem. For Pesach, the nation participates in a meal that calls to the senses the taste and test of slavery.
For a Passover to be official, it must combine three elements: the bitter herbs that remind us of slavery, the matzo to remind us of the haste through which Israel had to leave Egypt, and the lamb to show the price that has to be paid for freedom. These three encompass Passover.
The meal is rich with symbolism. It reveals the person of Yeshua so entirely that Jews who come to faith in Him as Messiah shake their heads as to how they could have missed Him. Passover compresses Old and New Testaments into unity.
At such a gathering we are reminded of God’s intervention. Again we grasp the reality that God knows everything about us. We see annually that tradition is not just a word from a Jewish musical called “The Fiddler on the Roof.” Tradition is a pillar of Hebrew culture because it is the glue that keeps Israel tied to her destiny.
The Lord God created covenant with Israel. That unbroken, never to be broken, promise transcends time. To connect us to our past, we are specifically instructed to celebrate those happenings in Egypt that God would use to sculpt Israel’s future. Is there any wonder why God speaks to us of His own Identity in Exodus Chapter 20 as Moses reads the Ten Commandments?
“I am Adonai your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage.”
God sent Moses to Pharaoh so that one day The Lord would reassemble a group of slaves and lead them to freedom. God sent Yeshua to Israel to do the same. The season for the lifting of the veil off of the apple of God’s eye has begun. We are living in these days of fulfillment – the fullness of time from Romans 11.
Have you celebrated a Passover? Have you ever spoken with a Jewish person of your profound appreciation for the sufferings of their nation that humanity would have the Holy Scriptures? Have you ever considered how the lamb of the first Passover would one day become Yeshua, identified by John the Immerser as the “Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world?” [John 1:29]
I encourage you to study this feast of Pesach. Study each of the biblical feasts. You will rekindle your faith in a new light of revelation. God has stored within His Word the purposes for these feasts to feed your body, soul, and spirit. These events are for your edification.
I thank Erin for the precious opportunity to speak my heart to her “family.” May we all share of the bounty that Passover has supplied. This feast is an ever-flowing fountain of spiritual food to satisfy the hunger in our souls to know God and fulfill His call upon our lives to come to Him in the desert. The reward is eternal.
~Robert F. Wolff
Copyright © Robert F. Wolff | Majestic Glory Ministries
Author and Trademark photos courtesy of Majestic Glory Ministries
As President of Majestic Glory Ministries Robert F. Wolff contributes his time and talents to promoting reconciliation of Gentiles and Jews. His endeavors cross denominational and ministerial lines by guiding the body of believers into alignment under the identity of their Messiah. He enjoys orchestrating groundbreaking business and ministry development models worldwide. Robert earned a Master of Theology degree from Fuller Theological Seminary. He and his family live in Malibu, California.