While Jews all over the world will join in the passover celebration and read out the Haggadah which includes the prayer for the rebuilding of Jerusalem, the Whitehouse is working to halt construction. God will prevail over man.
Welcome to the Bible in the News. This week is Passover or Pesach in the language of the Bible. The festival commemorates the “coming out of Egypt” of the Israelites following the slaying of the Egyptian firstborn and the deliverance of the Israelites over whose houses the angel of death “passed over”.
Israel had gone into Egypt to escape the famine in the land of Canaan – under God’s command to Jacob in Genesis 46:2-4
And God spake unto Israel in the visions of the night, and said, Jacob, Jacob. And he said, Here am I. And he said, I am God, the God of thy father: fear not to go down into Egypt; for I will there make of thee a great nation: I will go down with thee into Egypt; and I will also surely bring thee up again: and Joseph shall put his hand upon thine eyes.
Joseph’s journey into Egypt, although very difficult for him, had been orchestrated by God to ensure the nation of Israel would be delivered from the famine. Joseph had risen to prominence and was second only to Pharaoh having helped the Egyptians survive the famine.
God made good on his promise as is recorded in Exodus 1:7
And the children of Israel were fruitful, and increased abundantly, and multiplied, and waxed exceeding mighty; and the land was filled with them.
However, the seeds of jealousy and anti-Semitism soon arose amongst the Egyptians:
“Now there arose up a new king over Egypt, which knew not Joseph. And he said unto his people, Behold, the people of the children of Israel are more and mightier than we: Come on, let us deal wisely with them; lest they multiply, and it come to pass, that, when there falleth out any war, they join also unto our enemies, and fight against us, and so get them up out of the land” (Exodus 1:8-10).
The story of the Passover is the record of how God turned the hearts of the Israelites back toward their God, to the patriarchs, to the promises and then delivered them out of the land of bondage.
As Jews all over the world and those in Israel gather to celebrate Passover, a tray of ‘matzot’or unleavened bread is brought out. The father lifts the tray of bread and says,
This is the bread of affliction that our fathers ate in the land of Egypt. Whoever is hungry, let him come and eat; whoever is in need, let him come and conduct the Seder of Passover. This year [we are] here; next year in the land of Israel. This year [we are] slaves; next year [we will be] free people.
Then the youngest boy asks, “Mah Nishtana” or “What makes to his night different from all other nights”. After which the father relates the story of the Passover – and the bringing of the Israelites out of Egypt by the power of Almighty God. This is the Haggadah or "the telling" of the story of Passover. Following which the family participates in the Passover meal.
During the “Tzafun Berach” portion of the Hagada which is the prayer given after the meal, it includes the request,
May the Merciful One send us Elijah the Prophet may he be remembered for good and may he bring us good tidings, salvation and consolation.
This is based on a section from Malachi 4:4-6:
Remember ye the law of Moses my servant, which I commanded unto him in Horeb for all Israel, with the statutes and judgments. Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the LORD: And he shall turn the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to their fathers, lest I come and smite the earth with a curse.
Many Jewish families will set a place for Elijah the prophet, or pour a fifth cup of wine which is left for him in anticipation of the fulfillment of this passage – awaiting the time when he will come to bring them back to the land and prepare the way for Moshiach, or the Messiah.
A Prayer To End Passover
The Passover meal ends with the millennia old Hebrew prayer:
L'shanah haba'ah biy'rushalaim [Next year in Jerusalem]
L’shanah haba'ah biy'rushalaim hab'nuyah. [Next year in Jerusalem the rebuilt]
Well, doesn’t this little prayer pose a problem for the politicians of the world – especially President Obama, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Vice President Joseph Biden who would like to see Jerusalem as the capital of a Palestinian State.
Returning after thousands of years of exile, coming out of countries from all over the world, being brought back to the land of Israel in fulfillment of Bible prophecy and in answer to the prayers of centuries, Israelis are determined to rebuild Jerusalem as they have prayed for millennia.
This isn’t just nationalistic ambition – it is the fulfillment of Bible prophecy. The prophet Daniel writes about the time period of treading down of the sanctuary and the host in Daniel 8:13. This period has now expired. In June 1967 Jerusalem was wrestled from the hands of the Gentiles and put clearly in the hands of God’s people.
The prophets have spoken and the Jews are back in Jerusalem, and it is being rebuilt.
However, some politicians are determined to stop the work. The BBC reported of Clinton on March 12th,
US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has sharply rebuked Israel over its recent decision to build new settlements in East Jerusalem.
"She made clear that the Israeli government needed to demonstrate not just through words but through specific actions that they are committed to this relationship and to the peace process."
The Israeli government has held fast. World Net Daily reported,
A member of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's ruling Likud party slammed as "racist" President Obama's policies against Jewish construction in the West Bank and eastern Jerusalem.
"I think it is racist," stated Likud Knesset Member Danny Danon. "Can you image someone in the U.S. saying Hispanics or blacks on Muslims cannot build in a certain city?"
"What we see now coming from the (Obama) administration – telling Jews to not build in major parts of Jerusalem – is unacceptable," said Danon.
Danon charged most Israelis see Obama as "biased toward the Palestinian side."
Danny Danon is also reported as stating:
"For many years we had a clear policy, left and right wing governments: Jerusalem is united. We have to be very clear: We will build everywhere in Jerusalem, and we don't need approval, not from the Palestinians and not even from our close ally, the U.S. administration."
Responding to Washington’s response to halt any settlement work including what Israel calls natural growth, another MK and minister in the Israeli government responded this week,
"The demand to prevent natural growth in settlements is unreasonable and is akin to Pharaoh's demand that all firstborn sons be thrown into the Nile River," Hershkowitz was quoted by Ynet as saying on Sunday. "What will we say to a family living with one child, which now has four or five children? That the children will move to Petah Tikva? The Americans must understand that this is an unreasonable demand, and we must confront them firmly," he added.
As far as criticism from the "peace quartet" goes, one has to wonder how Putin and Medvedev would respond to having Muscovites banned from building in Moscow because the terrorists who have been bombing civilians across Russia this past week decided to build their capital there?
Israeli MK Danon was quoted by the Economist as stating:
“As Jews around the world prepare to celebrate Pessah – the festival of freedom – President Obama’s condescending and insulting behavior reminds us of how we were treated by Pharaoh in Egypt,” Danon said. “President Obama must understand that we are a sovereign nation in our own land and won’t bow to foreign rulers.”
The minister responsible for the building, Eli Yishai, was reported by the Jerusalem Post as stating:
“I thank the Creator of the world for giving me the honor of being the minister who builds thousands of homes in holy Jerusalem.”
America’s Role Remembered
Although the Catholic Church currently has its hand on the rudder of American policy in the persons of Clinton, Biden and Mitchell, America has a role clearly outlined in prophecy. We read in Isaiah 60:9-10
Surely the isles shall wait for me, and the ships of Tarshish first, to bring thy sons from far, their silver and their gold with them, unto the name of the LORD thy God, and to the Holy One of Israel, because he hath glorified thee. And the sons of strangers shall build up thy walls, and their kings shall minister unto thee: for in my wrath I smote thee, but in my favour have I had mercy on thee.
Regardless of the current policy of the government – America, who is identified with the ships of Tarshish in this passage, will not only bring the sons of Israel to the land, but will be involved in building up the walls as Hiram king of Tyre was during the reign of Solomon.
In the future reign of Messiah, America will be dominated by the kingdom of Israel. We read of Messiah in Psalm 72:8-11:
He shall have dominion also from sea to sea, and from the river unto the ends of the earth. They that dwell in the wilderness shall bow before him; and his enemies shall lick the dust. The kings of Tarshish and of the isles shall bring presents: the kings of Sheba and Seba shall offer gifts. Yea, all kings shall fall down before him: all nations shall serve him.
Interestingly, the lawmakers of the American Congress reminded the Obama administration of the ties between Israel and America. The Jerusalem Post reported,
In Washington,  congressmen – three-quarters of the House of Representatives – signed a bipartisan letter to US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton expressing solid support for Israel and the expectation that differences between Jerusalem and Washington will be smoothed over quickly and in private.
“We are writing to reaffirm our commitment to the unbreakable bond that exists between our country and the State of Israel and to express to you our deep concern over recent tension,” the letter read. “A strong Israel is an asset to the national security of the United States and brings stability to the Middle East.
“We are concerned that the highly publicized tensions in the relationship will not advance the interests the US and Israel share. Above all, we must remain focused on the threat posed by the Iranian nuclear weapons program to Middle East peace and stability.”
The letter stated that the US’s unswerving commitment to Israel’s security has been essential in forging previous Israeli-Arab peace agreements, “both because it convinced those who sought Israel’s destruction to abandon any such hope and because it gave successive Israeli governments the confidence to take calculated risks for peace.”
John Thomas, author of Elpis Israel, wrote of Britian, the Tarshish power of whom America is a young lion, in 1848:
I know not whether the men, who at present contrive the foreign policy of Britain, entertain the idea of assuming the sovereignty of the Holy Land, and of promoting its colonization by the Jews…
We could state the same of those who contrive the foreign policy of America and its treatment of the Jews in the land. Thomas continues:
… their present intentions, however, are of no importance one way or the other, because they will be compelled, by events soon to happen, to do what, under existing circumstances, heaven and earth combined could not move them to attempt. The present decisions of “statesmen” are destitute of stability. A shooting star in the political firmament is sufficient to disturb all the forces of their system; and to stultify all the theories of their political astronomy. The finger of God has indicated a course to be pursued by Britain [and we might add her young lion America]which cannot be evaded, and which her counsellors will not only be willing, but eager, to adopt when the crisis comes upon them. The decree has long since gone forth which calls upon the Lion of Tarshish to protect the Jews…
So while Jews throughout the world celebrate Passover, and join their voices in the prayer, “Next year in Jerusalem, the rebuilt,” we should also pray for the peace of Jerusalem, the coming of Messiah and of Elijah who will herald his arrival on the scene. Our prayer should echo Psalm 102:12-22
But thou, O LORD, shalt endure for ever; and thy remembrance unto all generations. Thou shalt arise, and have mercy upon Zion: for the time to favour her, yea, the set time, is come. For thy servants take pleasure in her stones, and favour the dust thereof. So the heathen shall fear the name of the LORD, and all the kings of the earth thy glory. When the LORD shall build up Zion, he shall appear in his glory. He will regard the prayer of the destitute, and not despise their prayer. This shall be written for the generation to come: and the people which shall be created shall praise the LORD. For he hath looked down from the height of his sanctuary; from heaven did the LORD behold the earth; To hear the groaning of the prisoner; to loose those that are appointed to death; To declare the name of the LORD in Zion, and his praise in Jerusalem; When the people are gathered together, and the kingdoms, to serve the LORD.
So we understand that God will hear the passover prayer to rebuild Jerusalem - it will not be despised. He will hear the groaning of the prisoners who are scattered throughout the world and return them to the land - so that his name will be declared in Zion when his people are gathered to him - and all kingdoms around the world will serve the LORD.
In fact, as we read earlier, the Kings of Tarshish will bring bring gifts and the sons of the strangers will be building the walls of Zion - of Jerusalem, instead of trying to block God’s people from taking pleasure in her stones. In reality though, it will be Almighty God that will build Zion, and he will put the seat of his government there as he states in the second Psalm,
I have set my king upon my holy hill of Zion....
Be wise now therefore, O ye kings (and we might add presidents): be instructed, ye judges of the earth. Serve the LORD with fear, and rejoice with trembling.
Kiss the Son, lest he be angry, and ye perish from the way, when his wrath is kindled but a little. Blessed are all they that put their trust in him.
The prophet Micah describes this coming day when the kingdom of Israel will be restored, and Messiah, the son of David or Moshiach ben David will sit upon the throne in Jerusalem in chapter 4:
In the last days it shall come to pass, that the mountain of the house of the LORD shall be established in the top of the mountains, and it shall be exalted above the hills; and people shall flow unto it.
And many nations shall come and say, Come, and let us go up to the mountain of the house of the LORD, and to the house of the God of Jacob; and he will teach us of his ways, and we will walk in his paths: for the law shall go forth of Zion and the word of the LORD from Jerusalem.
And then world peace will be achieved:
They shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears in to pruning hooks: nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more.
And the passover prayer will be fully realized for the rest of the diaspora still living in Gentile lands (v6):
In that day, saith the LORD, will I assemble her that halteth, and I will gather her that is driven out, and her that I have afflicted; and I will make her that halted a remnant, and her that was cast off a strong nation: and the LORD shall reign over them in mount Zion from henceforth, even for ever.
So, this year we are here; next year in the land of Israel. This year we are slaves; next year we will be free people.
L’shanah haba'ah biy'rushalaim hab'nuyah.
[Next year in Jerusalem the rebuilt]
Join us next week for another edition of the Bible in the News, this has been Jonathan Bowen joining you.