The Passover and the Fear of Death

Consider the following verses:

The L-RD said to Moses and Aaron, “This month shall be for you beginning of months. It shall be the first month of the year for you….”

Exodus 12:1-2

So, the L-RD promised a new time line for Israel, and a feast to be celebrated every year at the same time.

Now look at the following:

“Is it because there are no graves in Egypt that you have taken us away to die in the wilderness?”

From Exodus 14:11

So, considering Exodus 12 and 13, the L-rd told the children of Israel that this month was the start of a new time line for them, and, from Chapter 14, we see, yet, that they were obsessed with believing they were going to die in the desert.

When Father, the G-d of all Time, commands you to annually celebrate a feast, and tells you what any part of your future looks like, and he commands you to celebrate in the land where you are going, then if you have set it in your mind that death is your portion, then you have evidently and indeed begun to demonstrate you didn’t understand the implications of that command.

Wrapped up in the command to celebrate is the truth that you are going to last and live another year, and it means you will not die within the next 365 days.

If G-d intends you to celebrate Him every year forever, then that implies He has made provision to keep you alive for at least another year.

Gang, if He promises us something, a new time line, then let us, no matter how much pain we are in now and what we may not be able to see with the natural eyes, see with the eyes of the spirit and move into the new season and not complain about or obsess over death.

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Exodus 14:11 and One Point of the Wilderness

They said to Moses, “Is it because there are no graves in Egypt that you have taken us away to die in the wilderness? What have you done to us in bringing us out of Egypt?

Exodus 14:11

Focus for a minute on that one question with me gang.

Is it because there are no graves in Egypt that you have taken us away to die in the wilderness?”

The obsession with death in the wilderness is the response of a group of people who have suffered from DID and PTSD.  They cannot see the issue for their woundedness, and Moses, with his emotional issues, and spiritual issues, still brought them out.

So, why did they go to the widerness?  What was the purpose of the wilderness?  The Israelites asked “why the wilderness”.

Here is my response to that question.

First of all and less importantly, to shake the dust off of their feet, because they were OBSESSED WITH SERVING the Egyptians.

Second of all, and more importantly, to learn how to handle the top priority, the thing of first importance.  There are few things in the wilderness that are not desolate.  Few oases, few plants, few animals, few things, compared with the life in the jungle or Canaanland.

The most important reason G-d got them out into the wilderness was so they could do the one thing the L-rd told Pharaoh.

To worship G-d.

To hold a feast to the L-rd.

To connect with Him.

And come hell or high wather, they were going to learn to worship.

Look, as someone with PTSD and potentially a part or two, let me speak from personal experience that G-d is going to bring you through some travesties and into a desolate place so you can be alone with Him, and learn Him, and understand Him.

He is still Father (Exodus 4:22), even when you are generatiaonally-damaged.  And He may not always use mothers gloves to bring you out of the situation that has caused you torment.

There may be a season where He uses both father’s gloves and mother’s gloves to do His purposes.

It is a good thing, gang, when we are brought out, and so we can see Him, see the cloud and the fire, and the G-d in the Pillar.

It’s not always about how badly we hurt, and it is not always about what’s wrong with us.  Truthfully, there wil be seasons of healing and softness, but the season of deliverance and liberation that precedes that season of healing may feel harsh, and it may land harsh.

This is where the work of deliverance requires, by turns, a mothering touch and a fathering touch.

It’s not going to always be a deliverance that is done in the manner that you and I want it done.

That said, the deliverance will be effective.

In the case of Israel, they had generational PTSD/DID and maybe some Ritual Abuse as well, and they were party to watching G-d kill many of their captors.

Beyond that, they had to learn how to walk as sons, and some still did not get it.

But G-d delivered them and drove them out of Mizraim.

To a quiet, desolate place.

To the place where their focus would be undivided, in order to learn Him and learn who He was.

Why the wilderness?

To learn worship, to actually worship, and to recieve what was necessary in terms of a hundred different lessons on how to grow into a place of sonship, sufficiency, and interdependence.

Likewise, with us, He determines to lead us out in order to lead us in…into His presence.  Both/and.  Sons/Brides. Giving/Receiving, Plus/Minus, Multiplication/Division, Roots/Exponents, Grammar/Lit/Comp/Vocab.

Whole package deliverance.

Fullness.

בְּשָׁל֑וֹם

That is, wholeness.

Not just their bodies, but also their mindsets, their spirits, their emotions, their engrained thoughts that were off, their strongholds, their resistances to His influence, and their expectations of Him and the Egyptians, all of which needed a drastic overhaul and realignment.

So it may be with us.

The first place we must visit after trauma is a Trauma unit in a Trauma Center.  And they may bring pain in order to bring life.  But, just the same, it will get better, if we move towards the scary process.

May we do so with the company of a mothering peeps if possible, but if not possible, let us still move toward it with a Father who can help us in quietness, and who has an abundance of the Fruit of the Spirit.

THEY Dealt With Israel Arrogantly

For I will pass through the land of Egypt that night, and I will strike all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, both man and beast; and on all the gods of Egypt I will execute judgments: I am the L-RD.

Exodus 12:12

Now I know that the L-RD is greater than all gods, because in this affair they dealt arrogantly with the people

Exodus 18:11

What is the pronoun antecedent for “they” in 18:11?

Pronoun antecedent: the word preceding a pronoun to which the pronoun refers.

Look closely at the verse.

It’s not “the Egyptians” who dealt arrogantly per this particular text.

Rather it is “the gods”.

The spiritual rulers of the Egyptians were those about whom Jethro/Reuel was speaking.

It was ultimately the principalities and powers against whom Adonai was fighting, per 12:12 as well (Ephesians 6:12).

Though real Mizraimites died in the Reed Sea/Red Sea, and though they were indeed affected by the plagues, it was the spiritual enemy that was the primary source of Father’s contempt.

I think this is neat.

From the Desk of Peter Lee, Concerning Esther

The Book of Esther: A Silence so Loud, it is Deafening

In recent days I have spent a good amount of time studying the Book of Esther and I have fallen in love with this amazing book once again.  It is regularly treated like the annoying younger sibling who constantly tags along when we want to hang out with our friends.  Regrettably, the value and even the canonicity of Esther is regularly called into question.  According to Karen Jobes, not one commentary was written on Esther during the first seven centuries of the Christian church.  Some biblical interpreters, like Martin Luther, wish out loud that the book had not come to us at all.  John Calvin himself did not write a commentary on Esther nor apparently did he ever preach from it.  I wonder how often the book is preached from pulpits today.

Perhaps the neglect is somewhat understandable.  After all, the book presents significant problem in the fact that he God is not mentioned explicitly anywhere in its story.  The divine name (YHWH) does not occur, nor does the Hebrew word for God ’elohim, nor do any other names of God.  He is not addressed formally in prayers, praise, or dedications.  In fact, there are no prayers in the book of Esther at all (though, to be sure, there is a fast in Est. 4:16).  The absence of God is even more glaring when we examine other ancient versions of this book.  The version that we have in our English Bibles is based upon the Hebrew text of Esther found in the Masoretic Text (MT).  There are, however, Greek versions of this book, in which God is not only mentioned by name but is directly involved as an active participant.

So why is explicit mention of God noticeably absent from our canonized version of the book?  Why is God incognito?

The answer to that question can be illusive.  Perhaps, it has something to do with the fact that the narrative takes place in foreign land, a Persian urban center, and not in the normal dwelling place of God in the temple, in Jerusalem.  Perhaps, the establishment of Purim as a new Jewish festival cannot be too closely associated with God since Purim is not regulated in the legal texts of the Old Testament?  We cannot be too confident in any answer since all are highly speculative.  We can, however, safely assume that any Jewish text, even one that does not mention God overtly, in the post-exilic era would have some theological significance.  For a people living during this period of restoration, who were so cognizant of the Lord and His covenantal promises (Chronicles) and concerned with a return to Mosaic orthodoxy and orthopraxy (Ezra/Nehemiah), to adopt a literary work that did not have some theological significance strains credulity.

Consider also the events in the book.  The Jewish people are threatened with genocide due to the manipulative deceit of Haman, “the enemy of the Jews” (Est. 3:10; 9:24).  Had Haman’s malicious plan succeeded, the theological, not to mention human, impact would have been catastrophic.  Recall that since the days of the garden, the Lord promised that a “seed of the woman” would come to crush the head of the serpent (Gen. 3:15).  The history of salvation traces the line of that seed through the line of Seth (Gen. 5:3), Noah (Gen. 5:28-29), Abraham (Gen. 15:3-5), and the Judean king David (2 Sam. 7:12).  Simply put, the blessed “seed of the woman” would come through the line of the Jews. If there are no Jews, then the line of descendents would be cut off.  If that line is cut off, then there is no “seed of the woman,” no coming son of Abraham, no future son of David.  No Messiah, no Jesus!  If there was ever a time for the Lord to be directly involved in the affairs of His people, it is now.  Yet, He is never mentioned!

We expect God to be mentioned constantly and persistently, but he never is.  Given the significance of the narrative in the history of salvation, the need for the presence of God and reminders that He is in divine control of matters is overwhelming.  Too much is at stake.  The author of the Book of Esther easily could have written a literary work where direct references to God can be found in every sentence on every page in abundance, or the author could take the radically opposite approach to communicate the exact same message—which is what we have here.  We expect God to be actively and explicitly involved in the account, which is what makes the author’s silence in this regard so loud, so deafening.  The expected theological bomb-blast is heard in its overwhelming, unexpected silence.  In other words, the author of Esther creates an awe-inspiring sense of the presence of God by not mentioning the overt presence of God at all.

This may also be the reason for the name of the Jewish heroine, Esther. Some have suggested that the name “Esther” (whose Hebrew name is Hadaasah) is based on the Persian word for “star” or possibly (though unlikely) the Egyptian goddess Ishtar.  Consider another alternative, one made by my dear friend Stephen Fix in his personal studies of the book.  The Hebrew consonants for “Esther” ?str are the same consonants as a Hebrew verb form which means “I am hiding” (for you students of Hebrew, it’s the first person common singular of the imperfect form, niphal stem, see Gen 4:14; Job 13:20). Thus it is possible that the name “Esther” creates a double entendre for the verb “I am hiding.”  If this is so, God is implicitly saying to the readers, “I know it may be hard not to read about me in a direct and obvious way, but do not be discouraged.  I would not leave you at a time when you need me the most.  I am still here, orchestrating all these events for the good of my people.”

Read this way, the Book of Esther has more in common with the life of Christians today than any other book of the Bible.  After all, we do not live in a day when God brings fresh manna that falls from the heavens (Exod 16) or supernaturally provides life-giving water from a rock (Exod 17).  We don’t see the dividing of large bodies of waters (Gen 1; Exod 14; Josh 3; 2 Kings 2) nor do we see the Lord riding on a glory-chariot (Ezek 1).  Although our day is without these extraordinary visuals of God’s presence, we should not be discouraged.  The absence of any direct reference to God does not equal a true theological absence of God.  The Lord works in the life of His people in subtle yet still powerful ways.  It is more like the days of Esther.  He is there. He is always there, even if we don’t see Him.  During those times in life when it is difficult to discern the presence of God and thus we wonder about His providence in our lives, remember the Book of Esther and remember what it teaches us—He is there, He is always there, and He is always working for our well being, even if you can’t see Him.

As I ponder Esther, I am reminded of another time in the history of salvation when God seemed absent.  Like Esther, we would have expected the complete opposite.  When God’s only begotten Son hung innocently on the cross, he was silent. Was He present?  Absolutely!

Just as foolish as it would be to say that God was not there at the cross of Christ, so it would be to say that God was not there with His people in the book of Esther.  God was silent in both times….a silence so loud, it was deafening.  But God was actively involved and faithfully working for the redemption of His people.  For this reason, not only is this book meaningful for the Jews as it describes their preservation (thus the Jewish philosopher Maimonides ranks it equal to the Pentateuch), so it is meaningful for Christians as it describes the providence of God in preserving an ethnic line that would ultimately give birth to the Savior of the world.

I thank God for the Book of Esther because it reminds me that He is constantly behind the scenes in every aspect of every day of my life, even when I can’t tell that He is there.  And He is working for my good.

 


Peter Lee, Ph.D.
Associate Professor of Old Testament
Reformed Theological Seminary, Washington, D.C.

Link to the original article here.

 

Some thoughts as I read this article, specifically where I agree and disagree.  First of all, that G-d works behind the scenes is absolutely true, even when He is not explicitly mentioned.  The lack of the mention of G-d’s name does not mean G-d is incapable of working.  To be sure, it is precisely when He works and we don’t have to necessarily point it out at every moment, but rather, when unbelievers are able to point it out, that they are brought face-to-face with Him, and must give an account.

Secondly, where I disagree explicitly is specifically where Lee dives off into a cessationist, Reformed rage, as with others of his ilk.  It is unfortunate, because so many  Reformed theologians are exceptionally deft at handling the text until it comes to the point where they separate how G-d used to behave in terms of miraculous acts from how He behaves now (Hebrews 13:8).  Namely when the argument turns to water not being supernaturally provided from a rock, or other miracles.

G-d can and does still work in a boatload of ways.  He wants to provide, and he wants to do so in a supernatural fashion.  He wants to multiply bread, and he wants to remind us that we will still do greater miracles than the ones he did.

Just saying…

An Open Letter To Debbie Fulthorp, D. Min

Dear friend, for as long as I have known you, from my knowledge of your work with Poland, the Book of Hope, Ordination, our meeting in seminary, and everything since, you have been a woman of poise, anointing, and patience with the idiocy that surrounds you.
 
These blackguards that are calling you out in front of everyone and saying negative garbage, are just that, naysayers on the level of Sanbellat and Tobias. They are beneath your level.
 
I bless you to keep on doing what you are doing, and to ignore the nonsense barbs of these cretins.
 
I am so grateful you have tried where many have not even bothered trying.
 
It is not my goal to embarrass you, but it is my goal to call this junk out when I see it.
 
They have no business mistreating you, and they cause the ire of many an anointed to be kindled.
 
You and Brian are my friends, and I am grieved when people mistreat you.
 
I am glad for your willingness to pursue G-d no matter how painful the process has been.
 
You, my dear friend, have my unqualified support and endorsement in EVERYTHING you put your hand to, no matter how broken you feel.
 
So pleased to know you, so glad you are teaching, and so glad to hear you are applying for working for Dr. Castleberry.
 
Keep it on, girl, and let the cowardly know-nothings fall by the wayside. You are in my prayers, and I hesitate nothing when it comes to blessing your attempts where others would not attempt a thing. Thus far, you have accomplished way more than anything they have ever thought about accomplishing.
 
And to those who are castigating my precious friends publicly on her page and violating Matthew 18, six ways to Sunday, let this serve as a fair warning, you are doing the Kingdom no favors, and the only Kingdom you are serving is the one that creates and sows discord.
 

Concerning G-d’s Command to Abram in Genesis 17:1

G-d speaks to Abram, identifies himself as El Shaddai (please try not to get distracted by parsing out that name of G-d, because that name is not the point of this post), and commands something peculiar of Abram at the age of ninety-nine.

“Walk before me, and be blameless…”

Permit me to share an expansion of what I saw concerning that comment.

Translation:

Walk before me in such a way that accusations about your behavior that are untrue, negative, and unworthy of my children could never stick.

Exposition:

How many times do we excuse our behavior by saying we are sinners saved by grace (we are not sinners saved by grace; Bill Gaither’s statement is not biblical and deserves to die a horrible death)?  HOW MANY TIMES have we said, it’s okay because Yeshua died for my sins and He forgives me?

How many times have we excused our behavior rather than repenting for it?

Now, am I saying there is condemnation when we sin?  Absoutely not.  I am very much in alignment with the father heart of G-d.

That said, the voice of our life lived before others and the nonverbal rebuke of lives lived in compromise are both strengthened when we walk in a unblameable fashion.  Note: this has nothing to do with the religious spirit.  And yes, there are people who will never be satisfied with how we walk and will always find something to critique.

That said, if we walk above board, in the ways of accountability that Father has given us, then we will surely not give them added ammunition against us.

Walk in a fashion that does not incur needless blame.  If you are going to walk in a way that incurs blame, make darn sure you are being accused for behavior that is worthy of the testimony and authority Yeshua has put in you.

μηδὲ δίδοτε τόπον τῷ διαβόλῳ.