COVID-19: OUR PASSOVER MOMENT
“On the tenth of this month they are each one to take a lamb for themselves…You shall keep it until the fourteenth day of the same month…Now you shall eat it in this manner: with your loins girded, your sandals on your feet, and your staff in your hand; and you shall eat it in haste — it is the Lord’s Passover.” (Ex 12:3-12)
During these times we have been secluded in our homes, I am reminded of another time God secluded His people in their homes. They were about to take a very important journey, as I believe He is readying us for one now. As we see a modern-day “death angel” in the form of the Covid-19 virus going through the camp, so it was then at the time of the Passover in Egypt. Does God have a similar reason for this seclusion as He had then? What is He trying to say to us during these unprecedented times? There have been many viruses and many diseases that have occurred in the past, and yet none of them have caused the world to literally stand still. None of them have caused governments around the world, all of which have been ordained by God (Rom. 13), to order a lock down of their people. None have caused the fear that has emptied shelves of grocery stores and caused all the venerated affairs of men to cease as this one has. Why?
I believe we can find much to relate this day to in God’s instructions to His likewise sequestered people for Passover, when they too were under the oppression of evil and the power of death. For hundreds of years, God’s people had been held captive in Egypt. Then Moses appeared with His command from God to set His people free. He had a plan for the Jews, to bring them to the Promised Land, and it was about to unfold! This was not good news to Pharaoh and the Egyptians, for the Jews were their slaves and they made life easy.
The first lesson I believe we can learn from this is what our slave-masters looks like, for they are what makes life so much easier for us while at the same time holding us captive. We see this not only in the Egyptians, who tried to retrieve their slaves even after Pharaoh had released them, but also in the Jews themselves who, after only a little while journeying towards the Promised Land, were whining at Moses wishing they could return to Egypt (Exod. 14). For hundreds of years the Jews prayed for liberation from the tyranny of the Egyptians, yet when it came the true nature of their imprisonment was revealed, and that was security and comfort. Many times, we see on the outside what we believe to be our slave-masters, while in truth they exist in us, in the inside. We just don’t want to see it. For the Jews, it was a miserable existence of forced labor in captivity, but it was a comfortable misery.
While there are many, our greatest slave-master is simply wealth and the comfort it buys. Do we who follow Jesus really look any different in this area than unbelievers? I’m not saying we should all be homeless, but Jesus did say “The foxes have holes, and the birds their nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay His head” (Matt. 8). The issue is not in all the material wealth we enjoy, but rather in our trust [making idols] of it. Jesus said, “No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and wealth” (Matt. 6). Paul said, “The love of money is a root of all sorts of evil’ (1 Tim. 6), and that we needed to be freed from it.
Money in the kingdom of man buys comfort, and yet Jesus revealed the prison it builds, and then holds us in, to the Laodiceans in Revelations 3, “I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish that you were cold or hot. So, because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of My mouth. Because you say, ‘I am rich, and have become wealthy, and have need of nothing,’ and you do not know that you are wretched and miserable and poor and blind and naked…” The love of money, and being conditioned to its false securities, causes self-deception of a type that threatens salvation itself, for there is no stronger rebuke than this found amongst any of the other messages to His churches. It causes us to think we are something we are not and deceives us into thinking we do not need that which we need the most. It bathes us in a false sense of security and warmth that, like the proverbial frog in the hot water, will cook us if we don’t open our eyes and jump out of the pot!
What do we witness in our grocery stores today, if not fear of the loss of our comforts and securities wealth has imprisoned us to? I must admit when I go to the store and see long lines of people panic buying and hoarding [and what else could we call it but that, for the empty shelves are certainly not normal] we witness in technicolor and surround-sound the prison of wealth that causes fear and panic at the drop of the proverbial hat. Instead of hearing God’s voice and “working our salvation in fear and trembling,” we display rather our fear over, and dependence upon, the world and its voice: money. When we put our trust in anything but God, that thing becomes and idol. So, the first message in the Passover story of the Jews is to realize our oppressors whom God wants to free us from. Living in the love of money is indeed a miserable existence spiritually-speaking, but it is also indeed a comfortable misery.
The second message I believe we find here is to seclude ourselves with Jesus. Notice in the verse from Exodus 12 above, the Jews were to bring their Passover Lamb into their homes with them. From the 10th day of the Passover until the beginning of the 14th day, when they were to slaughter it, they were to keep it with them. During this time of our seclusion, keep Jesus close in your house! Abide in Him and Him in you! I believe this, above all else, is what the Lord is calling us to. What I believe Jesus’ most complete teaching concerning what it means to be a disciple in John 15, the Vine and the branches, is all about is abiding in Him and He in us. Abiding is the most complete form of love there is, for the word, “meno” in the Greek [according to Strong’s] means, “To continue, dwell, endure, be present with, remain with, stand by, and tarry for.” Thus, abiding combines the quality of love with what James told us would make us “perfect and complete, lacking in nothing,” endurance [see my most recent blog on this page: The Pursuit of Perfection]! Are you taking this time to bring Jesus into your home, and keep Him close? Are you “tarrying” with Jesus during the long wait?
Furthermore, as we spend time beholding our Lamb, are we remembering He was “slaughtered” for us? Paul said, “For I determined to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ, and Him crucified” (1 Cor. 2), and, “For indeed Jews ask for signs and Greeks search for wisdom, but we preach Christ crucified…” (1 Cor. 1). The Jews were to keep their Passover Lamb with them, knowing it would be slaughtered for the forgiveness of sins. According to Paul, there was nothing more important than we keep Jesus with us, most importantly the character “Him crucified” would instill in us as we lived as children of the cross. While we spend our time sequestered in our homes let us keep Jesus, and Him crucified, at the front of our thoughts!
Finally, let us note the urgency of the moment. Again, after hundreds of years of the captivity of God’s people in Egypt, the time for their deliverance had come. When the Death Angel had done its bidding, Pharaoh would finally see the futility of trying to hold the Jews against God’s will and let them go on their Exodus. God wanted them ready to flee before Pharaoh changed his mind [which he eventually did and thus pursued them to the Red Sea]. Therefore, God said to them, “Eat this with your loins girded, your sandals on your feet, and your staff in your hand. You shall eat it in haste,” ready to run! I can see the picture of them slamming down their food with one hand while grasping tightly their staff with the other, like Olympic runners at the starting line or like racehorses in their gates!
And what is the message here? We must not let this time of inactivity in the kingdom of man lead us to inactivity in the kingdom of heaven on earth! By no means! We should be getting ready to run for the glory of God! In my first book, The Lost Supper [on Amazon.com}, I draw various comparisons between the original Passover and modern-day Communion. One of those reasons is God sequesters us in an environment such as the Lord’s Table [if done properly, which the modern church does not do], and now with the Coronavirus lockdowns, to try to get our attention and teach us something that will lead us to move out and up with Him. One of my favorite Scriptures of all is found in Habakkuk 2, “Then the Lord answered me and said, ‘Record the vision and inscribe it on tablets, that the one who reads it may run!’” We must sequester ourselves in silence to hear His voice, and then take what we hear there and run with it! Those given the prophetic gift must speak and write what they hear, so that others may also run! I hope this post makes you consider whom you serve, abide with Jesus, listen to the Spirit, and then run well the race He has you in!
Paul says, in his Communion instruction in 1st Corinthians 11 [the part we never get to immediately after “Do this in remembrance of Me” where we stop teaching], “But let a man examine himself and so eat and drink.” Without going into a long explanation, yes, Communion is a time to celebrate grace. But it is oh, so much more! It should be our regular wakeup call, where we allow the Lord to dig up, expose, and reveal to us the exact natures of our deceptions and cover-ups so they can then be confessed to the Ekkleesia, and we can be prayed for and healed.
God knew His people were about to begin their journey to His Promised Land, but as always, such journeys are fraught with peril, trial, and temptation. As it was with the Passover, so also it is today with our sequestering, that God is preparing us for a perilous journey as realm is arising against realm and the birth pangs Jesus spoke of are upon us! Similar to then, God is preparing us to run. Something amazing He showed me while writing this was the similarities between the Exodus preparation and our preparation today per Ephesians 6. He wants us spending this time with our loins girded [with truth], our sandals [our feet shod with the preparation of the Gospel of peace] on our feet, and our staffs [the sword of the Spirit: the Word of God] in our hands! In addition, we have the breastplate of righteousness, the shield of faith, and he helmet of salvation, all weapons unavailable to those under the former covenant without the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. Time to don our battle armor and get ready for the fight!
In summary, I believe the current sequestering we are experiencing is the work of God to give us three teachings, just like He was doing with His original people at the Passover:
- First, that we recognize and deal with our idols, cover-ups, and deceptions keeping us under the bondage of other masters.
- Second, that we bring Jesus into our house, “abiding in Him and He in us,” and come to a new revelation of “Jesus Christ and Him crucified.”
- Third, that we prepare ourselves, “with haste,” for the perilous journey to come, and what better way to spend our time than this!
Oh, brothers and sisters, do not miss this! God indeed works all things together for the good for those who love and follow Him, and if we will but use this time wisely we will be fully ready to strike out, to run well, on our journey to the next Promised Land: the return of the eternal King!
When I wrote and first posted the Our Passover Season blog in mid-April, I had no idea what the dates of the Passover were this year, and really didn’t care because I didn’t think it was relevant. Last night, during a local prayer initiative I was involved in, a woman was relating the Covid-19 sequestering to the Passover and Pentecost in her prayers. A bell went off in me, but I wasn’t certain why.
Then this morning during my regular devotionals the Lord brought me back to that moment, “between Passover and Pentecost.” Inasmuch as I didn’t know the dates of either, I decided to check it out. The dates of Pentecost were between April 8 and April 16 this year. Then I looked up the death rates for the pandemic, and they spiked “sometime between April 10th and 20th!”
Coincidence? God calling His people to realize the nature of what is holding them back, seclude themselves with Jesus and ready themselves for their journey to the promised land at the very time deaths from the “death angel” of Covid-19 spiked? I don’t think so.