My Dear Friends:
My heart is so full. I have prayed that this letter will be a blessing to each one of you, personally. What a privilege it is for us to “bless” the LORD; especially when the going gets rough.
Before I start just let me say, we have not heard from some of you this year. Kindly indicate if you would like to be part of our world. In this letter we celebrate Passover as we believe it is set forth in Scripture.
Baruch Atah – YOU!
In Hebrew we begin every blessing with Baruch Atah! In todays world of gender hysteria, here we speak intimately to God as Atah or YOU. Immediately we are drawn into relationship, a love relationship. Secondly, baruch means to bless. So first thing every day we bless YOU! Jesus addressed His Father this way. This is a personal and intimate relationship, far removed from ‘religion’. I think this is one of Israel’s secrets, and is honourable and noteworthy.
Scrubbing away PRIDE & ARROGANCE
Passover brings a sense of expectation miracles and new beginnings. After a very wet winter, we begin by pruning bushes and pulling weeds in the garden. Then we scrub our homes; room by room and drawer by drawer. It is a time of soul searching first and foremost. Cleaning away the dust, crumbs and cobwebs is a show and tell exercise. We take stock of the activities, conversations and emotions that evolved in the rooms we now clean. Where pride has crept in we repent and ask forgiveness. It is the leaven or sin of pride, the deadliest of all sins that we must eradicate.
The Blood on our Doorposts
3,500 years ago, our family in Egypt applied the blood of a first born lamb on their door posts with a brush of hyssop or zatar. God instructed Moses to order us to stay indoors while the Death Angel passed over. We ate all of the lamb and waited, prepared to move when the word came. We prayed, not knowing what to expect. Then… the wailing and screaming Egyptians, drove us out! We followed Moses.
Mystery # 1
Fast forward 1,500 years, we are now in Jerusalem. Jesus has just led his disciples have just eaten the Passover Feast. He concluded it with the revelation of two mysteries. One of the first things we do is set aside 3 pieces of matzah. Mysteriously, only the middle piece is broken in half and placed in a special linen napkin. When no one is looking, the head of the table hides the afikomen. Why is it broken and hidden? What does it mean?
Jesus reveals this mystery in the context of His last Passover Feast. I will paraphrase… at the end of the meal…after He was betrayed, He took the afikoman, thehidden piece of broken matzah and blessed… Baruch Atah! Then Jesus breaks it yet again and reveals …this is my body broken for you, do this in remembrance of Me. Luke 22:19
The Master revealed that the afikoman represents Him as the suffering Messiah. The middle broken piece of matzah, with piercings in it, speaks of the humility of His physical life. The three pieces of matzah separated at the beginning of the meal, have several interpretations, we chose: Father, Son and Holy Spirit. The broken matzah was separated and hidden until it is found after the children’s search at the end of the meal. Were the disciples shocked? They did not understand the depth of His revelation… yet.
Mystery # 2
Then Jesus took the cup. It would have been the Elijah cup! We set a place for Elijah at the table and open the front door. When we were in the former Soviet Union at Passover, of course the door was kept locked. Here we open our front door. You see Elijah is beloved among the Jewish people and they believe that he will come first and usher in Messiah. John the Baptist came in the spirit of Elijah, Jesus said. Taking the Elijah cup; again Jesus blessed his Father, Baruch Atah… and said; this is My blood of the new covenant, which is shed for many. Mark 14:24 He was referring to Jeremiah’s prophecy in chapter
31 verse 31. Behold the days are coming says the LORD when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah. The disciples are silent, and didn’t ask any questions.
The Garden was a Wine Press
The feast being over, Jesus and his disciples strolled out into a Jerusalem filled to capacity with pilgrims from across the known world. Quietly they passed in the shadow of the Temple, situated high above David’s city. They crossed the Brook Kidron, and crept into the glorious stillness of the Garden of Gethsemane. Alone, Jesus prayed: Abba Father… not what I will but what you (Atah) will. Mark 14:36c
The Killing Field
His sleeping disciples only served to intensify the agony that caused Jesus to sweat drops of blood. Betrayal came shortly with a kiss from Judas. It was followed by incarceration, taunting, a mock trial, ridicule, slander, scourging, whippings and perhaps even sodomy… for the sins of Israel and the world and for me. The crude cross beam was slung across his lacerated back, until a passerby was forced to carry it. The execution ground was located in proximity to the Temple Mount, on the side of the road to Damascus stunk of dried blood and garbage. Flies buzzed in the hot sun, crowds jeered. It was not on a green hill far away. The apple of Father God’s eye, The Son of Man was crucified with military precision. Alone and forsaken He cried, Father forgive them, for they do not know what they do. Luke 23:34
Back track to Moses on Mount Sinai. He was given ‘the pattern’ for the tabernacle; with the mercy seat in the inner sanctum. God instructed him: “And you shall make two cherubim of gold, hammered work you shall make at the two ends of the mercy seat.” Exodus 25:18
The Rabbis teach that one cherub had the face of a young boy and the other the face of a young girl. The entire cover of the mercy seat had to be hammered out of one large ingot of gold. The wings of each cherub were thrust upward, pointing toward the wings of the one on the opposite end of the cover of the mercy seat. The four outspread wings formed a canopy that was ten handbreadths (30-40 inches) over the cover. (Rashi from Succah 5b) Only the High Priest could enter once a year on the Day of Atonement, confessing his sin, and those of his family, of Israel and of the whole world, represented as 70 nations.
Jesus represents the mercy seat, made according to the pattern Moses saw: acacia wood from the earth, overlaid in pure gold to include the cherubim, combining the earthly with the heavenly; a perfect fulfilment.
It is now early morning, the third day since Jesus was crucified. Follow Mary Magdalene, … she wept, stooped down and looked into the tomb. And she saw two angels in white sitting, one at the head and the other at the feet, where the body of Jesus had lain.
Woman, why are you weeping, whom are you seeking?…go to My brethren and say to them, I am ascending to My Father and your Father, and to My God and your God. John 20:12,15,17a.
Consider what great things our beloved Father of tender mercies in heaven has done for us. The Rawlings family send you blessings from Jerusalem for a deeply meaningful Passover.
Blessed be the Name of His Honour, and His Kingdom is forever and ever!
In Temple times this was the people’s response after receiving the priestly blessing.
Jay & Meridel Rawlings & sons
Meridel Rawlings PhD, Box 84156, Mevasseret Zion, 9079097, Israel.