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The Jewish Passover and the Challenge of Hebron
Do we desire or despise the pleasant land?
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April 6, 2012 - Audio, 8.50 MIN
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Welcome to the Bible in the News with Nick Barnes. On Sunday night, the celebration of the Passover begins. Jews will commemorate their rescue from bondage in Egypt. The Egyptians had determined to reduce their numbers by a slavery so severe, and a labour so arduous, that many would be worked to death. But God sent Moses, to bring them, from the land of Egypt, to the land of promise.
And God brought 10 plagues on the Egyptians, by the hand of Moses and Aaron, that they might release His people.  Each one, of the plagues, was a calamity in its own right.  Each one so dreadful that most people would have submitted to inevitable defeat.  But at each step God hardened or strengthened Pharaoh’s heart, so that only the last, and greatest, of those plagues - only the 10th plague - brought about the release of the children of Israel.

Throughout the Bible, God has brought about events to show his purpose with the earth, in symbol - and the 10th plague, where the all the firstborn of Egypt died, is a clear example of this.

The Israelites in Egypt were a symbol of man’s bondage to sin and death.  Escape from that bondage was only possible by the death of the firstborn - for these were, in symbol, the seed of the serpent or sin - and man can only be saved by the putting to death of sin (Gen 3v14-15).

However, a crucial part of this plague was that the blood, of a sacrificial lamb, was daubed around the doorway of each Israelite home.  Thus when the angel of death came, he passed over each house so marked, and consequently the Israelites did not die with the Egyptians.  

The Spirit, through the Apostle Paul, describes Jesus as our passover lamb in 1Cor 5v7.  And Jesus is the means by which sin can be put to death, without the Israelite, or believer, suffering death in the process.

And this means of salvation, symbolised in the 10th plague, is the only way of salvation.  There is no other way, no man made religion or philosophy, can bring salvation, just as none, of the other nine plagues, could release them from Egypt.

As we read in Acts 4v12
Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved. Ac 4:12

Perhaps, less well known, than the plagues, are the 10 sins committed by the children of Israel.  And like with the plagues, the first nine were of a magnitude that you would have expected them to be decisive; you would have expected God’s anger to have burned to Israel’s destruction.  However, in each case God showed mercy to them, and they continued on their journey, until the 10th.  It was only the 10th sin which barred them from the the Promised Land.

We find that in Num 14v22-23 that God says
 22 ...all those men which have seen my glory, and my miracles, which I did in Egypt and in the wilderness, and have tempted me now these ten times, and have not hearkened to my voice;
 23 Surely they shall not see the land which I sware unto their fathers, neither shall any of them that provoked me see it:
And in v28 He continues
 28 ...As truly as I live, saith the LORD, as ye have spoken in mine ears, so will I do to you:
 29 Your carcases shall fall in this wilderness; and all that were numbered of you, according to your whole number, from twenty years old and upward, which have murmured against me,
 30 Doubtless ye shall not come into the land, concerning which I sware to make you dwell therein, save Caleb the son of Jephunneh, and Joshua the son of Nun.
 31 But your little ones, which ye said should be a prey, them will I bring in, and they shall know the land which ye have despised.

This circumstance had been brought about because when Moses sent twelve spies to explore, ten had returned with an evil report of the land.  The land, they reported, was occupied by warlike tribes with high walled cities, and giants.  It was not possible, they said, to take the land, for its inhabitants were too strong for them - and in faithlessness, the Israelites ignored the reasonable assertion of the other two spies, that God would give it to them, as He had promised, and decided that they would make a captain to lead them back to Egypt.

This “slander” against the land, this “evil report upon the land”, and this despising of the land, was an unforgivable sin.  God will forgive many things, but if we don’t want the blessings which He, in His mercy, offers to us, then we won’t get them.

One of the key, high walled and giant infested, cities, which the spies had visited, was Hebron.  This was also the setting of one of this week’s news items.

On Wednesday, April 4th, Jewish families from Beit HaMachpela - an apartment building in Hebron - were expelled from their homes.  This building had been sold to them, by its previous, Arab, owner.  Nevertheless, the Israeli defence minister ordered their expulsion to maintain what he called “public order”.

In reality, the forced removal of these families, was due to the belief, by the secular majority of Israeli Jews, that it is not possible to defy the will of the whole world; the giants of the international community.  Consequently, they believe that peace is not possible without giving up the heart of the Promised Land.  

In contrast, the Religious Zionist Jews, who form the majority of the many Jewish communities in the navel of the land, believe that God will give them the land, if they contend for it.  They wait expectantly for the Messiah, believing that he will bring in the full redemption, and they accuse their secular antagonists of being like the 10 spies, who in the time of Moses despised the land.  

While it is true that “blindness in part is happened to Israel”, the events that daily unfold, as fulfillment of Bible prophecy, demonstrate that the coming of Messiah is indeed imminent, and individually we have to decide if we want to return to Egypt, and the bondage of sin and death, or if we desire “to seek first the Kingdom of God, and His righteousness”.

This was Nick Barnes.  Join us again next week, God willing, for another Bible in the News.

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