Hebrew Highlights 109 Passover 3
Shalom, this is Yuval Shomron, coming to you from Jerusalem.
EZR 6:15-22, “And this temple was completed on the third day of the month Adar; it was the sixth year of the reign of King Darius. And the sons of Israel, the priests, the Levites, and the rest of the exiles, celebrated the dedication of this house of God with joy. And they offered for the dedication of this temple of God 100 bulls, 200 rams, 400 lambs, and as a sin offering for all Israel 12 male goats, corresponding to the number of the tribes of Israel. Then they appointed the priests to their divisions and the Levites in their orders for the service of God in Jerusalem, as it is written in the book of Moses. And the exiles observed the Passover on the fourteenth of the first month. For the priests and the Levites had purified themselves together; all of them were pure. Then they slaughtered the Passover lamb for all the exiles, both for their brothers the priests and for themselves. And the sons of Israel who returned from exile and all those who had separated themselves from the impurity of the nations of the land to join them, to seek the Lord God of Israel, ate the Passover. And they observed the Feast of Unleavened Bread seven days with joy, for the Lord had caused them to rejoice, and had turned the heart of the king of Assyria toward them to encourage them in the work of the house of God, the God of Israel.”
When the Israeli exiles returned from Babylon, they were faced with a broken Jerusalem. The walled city had virtually no walls. The city of the great temple of the Most High God was in shambles.
We know from Nehemiah’s account that amidst great opposition every man took his turn in rebuilding and guarding from the enemies of God and the Jewish people. While Nehemiah and his men rebuilt the walls, Ezra and the priests and Levites rebuilt the temple.
It is very fitting that only 6 weeks after the temple was completed, the first feast celebrated there was Passover. Originally marking the freedom from Egypt, it now represented also the return of the captives from Babylon.
As in other accounts, we note that it was important for the priests and Levites to purify themselves. Clean hands and clean hearts are necessary to present a worthy sacrifice to God.
A significant statement appears at the end of the account, “the Lord had caused them to rejoice, and had turned the heart of the king of Assyria toward them to encourage them”. Even though the city of Jerusalem was still under control of the Assyrian empire, the Jewish people were once again being allowed to worship freely.
Just as God had dealt harshly with Pharaoh and caused him to allow the slaves to leave and take with them great treasures, he had turned the hearts of King Cyrus, and then King Darius not only to allow the exiles to return, but to fund the expedition, and provide rich utensils for the House of God.
In 1948, God once again turned the hearts of many world leaders, and caused them to recognize the re-established state of Israel. Once again, through great opposition from her enemies, Jerusalem has been rebuilt, and is still growing.
Now, you might say, “Okay, the walls have been rebuilt. But what about the temple?” Well, to answer that question, let’s look at another Passover account from the New Testament.
JOH 2:13-21, “And the Passover of the Jews was at hand, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem. And He found in the temple those who were selling oxen and sheep and doves, and the moneychangers seated. And He made a scourge of cords, and drove them all out of the temple, with the sheep and the oxen; and He poured out the coins of the moneychangers, and overturned their tables; and to those who were selling the doves He said, "Take these things away; stop making My Father's house a house of merchandise." His disciples remembered that it was written, "Zeal for Thy house will consume me." The Jews therefore answered and said to Him, "What sign do You show to us, seeing that You do these things?" Jesus answered and said to them, "Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up." The Jews therefore said, "It took forty-six years to build this temple, and will You raise it up in three days?" But He was speaking of the temple of His body.”
First of all, let’s notice again that at Passover time another purification took place in the temple. This time Yeshua drove out the money changers and merchants. It was as always, important that the people who came to worship could focus on God and His great deeds. Not on commercial and material things.
The physical temple was destroyed by the Romans. But the temple of the Body of Christ is alive and well in Jerusalem today. We are again rejoicing in the great deeds of our Heavenly Father. As we remember this week our freedom from the slavery in Egypt, we remember as well our freedom from the slavery of sin.
God has provided the sacrificial Lamb in Yeshua our Messiah. We have purified ourselves from the leaven in our hearts. We have come into the land of promise. We are free indeed!
Chag Pessach Semeach! Happy Passover from Jerusalem.