Hebrew Highlights 110 Passover 4
Shalom, this is Yuval Shomron, coming to you from Jerusalem.
DEU 16:1-8 "Observe the month of Abib and celebrate the Passover to the Lord your God, for in the month of Abib the Lord your God brought you out of Egypt by night. "And you shall sacrifice the Passover to the Lord your God from the flock and the herd, in the place where the Lord chooses to establish His name. "You shall not eat leavened bread with it; seven days you shall eat with it unleavened bread, the bread of affliction (for you came out of the land of Egypt in haste), in order that you may remember all the days of your life the day when you came out of the land of Egypt. "For seven days no leaven shall be seen with you in all your territory, and none of the flesh which you sacrifice on the evening of the first day shall remain overnight until morning. "You are not allowed to sacrifice the Passover in any of your towns which the Lord your God is giving you; but at the place where the Lord your God chooses to establish His name, you shall sacrifice the Passover in the evening at sunset, at the time that you came out of Egypt. "And you shall cook and eat it in the place which the Lord your God chooses. And in the morning you are to return to your tents. "Six days you shall eat unleavened bread, and on the seventh day there shall be a solemn assembly to the Lord your God; you shall do no work on it.”
When we celebrate the Passover today, one of the statements recited is “each person should see themselves as having come out of Egypt”. In other words, as we keep this feast throughout the generations, we should remember that the redemption provided for our ancestors in Egypt affected us as well. Physically speaking, we may still be speaking Arabic if the miracle of Passover had not taken place. Spiritually, we have been set free from the bonds of slavery, and brought into the land of promise.
Yet interestingly, there will come a day, and it is upon us already, when we have an even bigger miracle to celebrate. Let’s look at it together.
JER 16:14-16, "Therefore behold, days are coming," declares the Lord, "when it will no longer be said, 'As the Lord lives, who brought up the sons of Israel out of the land of Egypt,' but,' As the Lord lives, who brought up the sons of Israel from the land of the north and from all the countries where He had banished them.' For I will restore them to their own land which I gave to their fathers. "Behold, I am going to send for many fishermen," declares the Lord, "and they will fish for them; and afterwards I shall send for many hunters, and they will hunt them from every mountain and every hill, and from the clefts of the rocks.”
This year at our Passover table, were seated a number of new immigrants from the former Soviet block countries, as well as Americans and one Swede. Every person’s story is miraculous, and individually speaks of God’s plan for each and every soul.
Granted, it is hard to beat the 10 plagues and the parting of the Red Sea when it comes to retelling God’s amazing deeds. How could it be then that in this prophecy in Jeremiah could be true? Have we missed something?
Well, for one thing, it could be that the most difficult position from which to observe a miracle is from inside.
In 1895 there were some 47,000 Jews living in so-called Palestine. Today, there are about 6 million Jews living in the legal state of Israel. Still in the 1920’s there were virtually no trees in Israel. Today there are millions, and we export fruit and flowers all to the uttermost parts of the earth. During the holocaust, 6 million Jews were taken off to be executed likes lambs to the slaughter. Today, Israel has one of the most modern and efficient armies in the world. As recently as 1989, Jews were not allowed to leave the Soviet Union and immigrate to Israel. Today, over half a million Israelis originated from those areas.
On the other hand, there may be some big miracles to come. After all, the prophecy speaks of the “Land of the North” and “all the countries from which I banished them”. Although over 100 countries make up the backgrounds of the population of Israel today, there are still a few with large Jewish populations who have not yet arrived.
For instance, what about America? Now of course, there are people here in Israel from America, in fact, quite a few. However, the Jewish population of America is still bigger than that of Israel.
Now you may say, “OK, but what does this have to do with a miracle? The people of the United States can get on a plane and come any time they want.” If that is so, where are they? God’s commands to return to the land and return to God are numerous. So what’s holding them back?
The sons of Israel in Egypt were slaves in a tyrannical Kingdom, run by a Pharaoh who thought himself a son of God. It took a tremendously harsh judgment by God to get him to let the people go.
The people in America are also slaves in a certain way, to normality. It is harder to give up a secure lifestyle than life in the mud pits of Egypt, in exchange for a new life in a politically hot Middle East.
So what miracle will cause the people of the North to throng to Israel and fulfill Jeremiah’s prophecy? Well, there are three possibilities. One is that Israel will become so prosperous and peaceful and inviting, that every descendant of Abraham will want to be here.
The other possibility is that their countries of exile will become less hospitable to the Jews, and they will be forced to come.
The third possibility is that, as I noted before, the miracle is already happening, and the Jewish people will continue to trickle back until all have returned. One day we will look back and say, “Wow! What happened?”
In the meantime, we celebrate both the original escape from Egypt, and the modern influx of new immigrants from the Diaspora. Whether big miracles, or small ones; they all began in God’s heart, and ended in God’s land.
Chag Pessach Semeach! Happy Passover from Jerusalem.