Passover Greetings in the Lamb, our Redeemer!
With a Mighty Hand…
We were slaves to Pharaoh in Egypt, and the Eternal, our God, brought us forth from there with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm (based on Deut. 5:15, 6:21, 26:8). [Avadim hayinu l’Pharaoh b’Mitzrayim. V’yotsiaynu Adonai Elohaynu mi-shaam b’yaad chazaka oo-vizroah n’tooyah.]
This statement is part of every telling (haggadah in Hebrew) of the story of the Exodus from Egypt, celebrated at Passover seders throughout the world (Exodus 13:8). This year, the first seder (literally “order” of service) is the night of April 22, 2016. The second seder is April 23, 2016. Seders may be conducted during the entire Feast of Unleavened Bread, which ends on Saturday night, April 30, 2016.
Last month, we mentioned the word chazak (courage, strength) as it related to Esther and other Bible heroines. The hand that delivered the Israelites from Egyptian bondage is “b’yaad chazaka,” using the same Hebrew word chazak, but translated as “mighty.” Yes, mighty, in the sense of strong and courageous, is the hand of the LORD that set Israel free.
God’s hand has a purpose in moving on behalf of His people: “…He brought us out from there that He might bring us in…” (Deut. 6:23). The mighty hand of the LORD that brought each of us out of spiritual Egypt had a purpose, as well – to bring us into not a Promised Land, but a land of promises in Yeshua, our Redeemer.
Our Passover focus this year is the mighty right hand of God, which is mentioned throughout both the Tanach and the Brit Hadasha.
Adonai’s Right Hand of Deliverance
The right hand of the LORD is acknowledged as the force that cast Pharaoh and his army into the sea: “Your right hand, O LORD, has become glorious in power; your right hand, O LORD has dashed the enemy in pieces” (Ex.15:6).
We find many verses in the Book of Psalms that extol the power and might of the LORD’s right hand of deliverance and salvation. “Now I know that the LORD saves His anointed; He will answer him from His holy heaven with the saving strength of His right hand” (Ps. 20:6). “You have a mighty arm; strong is your hand, and high is Your right hand” (Ps. 89:13). “Oh, sing to the LORD a new song! For He has done marvelous things, His right hand and His holy arm have gained Him the victory” (Ps. 98:1). “Though I walk in the midst of trouble, You will revive me; You will stretch out Your hand against the wrath of my enemies, and Your right hand will save me” (Ps. 138:7).
Do you need to be rescued? Are you in the middle of a difficult, troubling situation? Today is the day to thank God for the saving strength of His right hand. He is mighty to save – YOU.
…and an Outstretched Arm
Israel was delivered from slavery by God’s mighty hand and His outstretched arm, His bizroa. A familiar word from the Passover seder is related to this word: זרע z’roa – the shank bone of the Lamb on the Seder plate. The word for “arm” is used to represent the lamb. Consider a verse from Isaiah chapter 53:1—“Who has believed our report? And to whom has the arm of the LORD been revealed?” “Mi he-e-min lish-mu-a-te-nu u-ze-row-a a-donai al mi nig-la-tah?” The arm of the LORD in this verse refers to the Messiah Yeshua, more than 700 years before He died as the Lamb of God to take away the sin of the world. The z’roa on the Passover plate makes a statement for all those who have ears to hear: The lamb is the agent of deliverance. The lamb is also the arm of the LORD. God has already sent the final Lamb – His Son the Messiah. He beckon all who place their trust in Him from spiritual bondage to sin. The outstretched arms of Yeshua becken to His creation, saying, “Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest” (Matt. 11:28).
We thank the Lord that His arm was revealed to us in 1973, showing us that God has indeed redeemed His people. He has sent the Messiah. “The LORD has made bare His holy arm in the eyes of all the nations; and all the ends of the earth shall see the salvation of our God” (Isa. 52:10).
The Right Hand of Blessing
Before there was a right hand of deliverance, there was a right hand of blessing! God used His right hand in creation: “Indeed My hand has laid the foundation of the earth, and My right hand has stretched out the heavens…” (Isa. 48:13). Imagine the size, the power, the majesty of such a hand!
The LORD upholds what He creates. He upholds us! He really does have the whole world in His hands. He has a promise for us this month: “Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with My righteous right hand” (Isa. 41:10). King David understood God’s sustaining power: “Because you have been my help, therefore in the shadow of your wings I will rejoice. My soul follows close behind you; Your right hand upholds me” (Ps. 63:7-8).
God’s right hand is with us wherever we go. “If I take the wings of the morning, and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea, even there Your hand shall lead me, and Your right hand shall hold me.” (Ps. 139:9-10). This is our security. Our God holds and upholds us. He never lets go!
Another aspect of the right hand of blessing is the use of the right hand to impart spiritual blessings to others. The right hand in Scripture is the hand of favor. Today, a “right hand man” is defined as an indispensable assistant, the chief assistant, also indicating a favored position.
The first mention of a “right hand” in the Bible is in Genesis 48:13-14, where Joseph takes his sons Ephraim and Manasseh to be blessed by Joseph’s dying father, Israel. “And Joseph took them both, Ephraim with his right hand towards Israel’s left hand, and Manasseh with his left hand toward Israel’s right hand, and brought them near him. Then Israel stretched out his right hand and laid it on Ephraim’s head who was the younger, and his left hand on Manasseh’s head, guiding his hands knowingly, for Manasseh was the firstborn.”
Joseph was not pleased with what his father did, so he tried to move his father’s right hand from Ephraim’s head since his brother Manasseh, as the firstborn, should have received the right hand of blessing. But Israel refused, explaining to Joseph that the younger brother was destined to be the greater, with his descendants becoming a multitude of nations. (That is why Jewish people today, in blessing their sons, say, “May God make you like Ephraim and Manasseh.”)
Ephraim first. Is there a reason for Israel’s right hand of favor and blessing breaking tradition? Aaron Früh, in The Forgotten Blessing, reminds us that Manasseh means “making forgetful,” and connects this with a statement of Joseph, “For God has made me forget all my toil and all my father’s house” (Gen. 41:51). Ephraim means “fruitfulness.” Joseph chose this name for a reason, “For God has caused me to be fruitful in the land of my affliction” (Gen. 41:52).
Jacob set Ephraim over Manasseh because he was saying that Joseph’s future fruitfulness would outweigh all the pain he endured in his past. It is time for all of us to receive the blessing of Genesis 48:20, “…May God make you as Ephraim and as Manasseh!…” Has your past been filled with sorrow, grief, pain, trouble, rejection, failure and misery? God’s desire is to bless you with a future of fruitfulness, with joy, peace and abundant life that overshadows the hurts of the past. How is this possible? It is possible because the right hand of blessing is yours in the Messiah Yeshua!
God Crossed His Hands
The revelation that the LORD gave to Pastor Früh is beautiful and deep: “…The same divine preference that God showed to Ephraim over his older brother, Manasseh, was simply a foreshadowing of the preference He would show us over Jesus Christ, our elder brother! God’s only begotten Son was standing in front of His right hand, and you and I were standing in front of His left hand. But God crossed His hands, and placed the right hand of blessing over our heads, and His left hand on Jesus’ head. We received the double-portion blessing, and Jesus received the curse of our sin.”
Yeshua willingly gave us the birthright blessing because of His great love for us, enabling us to become new creations, to leave our painful pasts behind and to fulfill our new destiny as fruit bearers in God’s kingdom. “…For indeed Messiah, our Passover, was sacrificed for us” (1 Cor. 5:7).
Exalted at God’s Right Hand
The Brit Hadasha is filled with so many references to Yeshua being seated at God’s right hand that it was difficult to choose which verses to mention. An underlying truth of all the verses is that God exalts those who humble themselves, who do the will of the Father, Yeshua being our role model. (See Phil. 2:5-11.) Even before His birth in Bethlehem, it was prophesied that the Messiah would one day sit at the right hand of God: “The LORD said to my Lord, ‘Sit at My right hand, till I make Your enemies Your footstool’” (Ps. 110:1). Before His death on the tree, Yeshua was questioned by the chief priests and scribes who said to him, “If You are the Messiah, tell us.” He told them that they would not believe Him if He told them, and concluded by saying, “Hereafter the Son of Man will sit on the right hand of the power of God” (Luke 22:69). Before His ascension into heaven, the resurrected Messiah gave His talmidim their final commission to go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature. “So then, after the Lord had spoken to them, He was received up into heaven, and sat down at the right hand of God” (Mark 16:19). When the disciples were then commanded not to teach in Yeshua’s name, their reply to the High Priest and his council showed their understanding of Yeshua’s exalted position – “The God of our fathers raised up Yeshua whom you murdered by hanging on a tree. Him God has exalted to His right hand to be Prince and Savior, to give repentance to Israel and forgiveness of sins” (Acts 5:30-31).
Our High Priest Interceding
The book of Hebrews paints some of the most glorious verbal pictures of Yeshua as our faithful High Priest seated at the right hand of God. “We have such a High Priest, who is seated at the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in the heavens, a Minister of the sanctuary and of the true tabernacle…” (Heb. 8:1-2). “…Yeshua, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. For consider Him who endured such hostility from sinners against Himself, lest you become weary and discouraged in your souls” (Heb. 12:2-3).
What is our Messiah doing right now? “…He is also able to save to the uttermost those who come to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them” (Heb. 7:25). Yeshua is praying for us as our great High Priest. He knows our needs. He sees our hearts. He has compassion for us.
More about Yeshua from Hebrews 1:3 – “…who being the brightness of His glory and the express image of His person, and upholding all things by the word of His power, when He had by Himself purged our sins, sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high.”
Yeshua sat down. He has finished the work of our redemption. All provision has been made through His blood shed on the tree. He took the curse. We got the blessing. But God richly rewarded Him.
The Right Hand Now and Forever
Yeshua’s present position at the right hand of the Father has implications for how we live our lives today: “If then you were raised with Messiah, seek those things which are above, where Messiah is sitting at the right hand of God. Set your mind on things above, not on things of the earth. For you died, and your life is hidden with Messiah in God. When Messiah who is our life appears, then you also will appear with Him in glory” (Col. 3:1-4).
It is time to think kingdom thoughts, do kingdom works, have kingdom faith and believe for kingdom blessings because the Lamb is our life. He is the One who holds the keys of hell and death, the One to whom angels and all powers are subject, the One whose name is above every other name, the One who lives inside of us through His Spirit. The Lamb has defeated the serpent. He is victorious. In Him, we are victorious as well.
Disciples of Yeshua, His beloved bride, are on His right side! When Messiah returns, all nations will be gathered before Him. He will separate the sheep from the goats, the sheep on His right hand, the goats on the left. “Then the King will say to those on His right hand, ‘Come, you blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world…’” (Matt. 25:34; continue reading through verse 46 for kingdom works).
If you belong to Yeshua, you are already positioned at His right hand of favor and blessing. A glorious future awaits us. The Lamb of God of Revelation 5:7, the One found worthy to take the scroll out of the right hand of Him who sits on the throne, has made us kings and priests to our God. Even now we should proclaim, “Worthy is the Lamb who was slain to receive power and riches and wisdom, and strength and honor and glory and blessings!” (Rev. 5:12). AMEN!
Be blessed this Passover by God’s righteous right hand. Love in the Lamb,