I’m continuing my series on the Jewish feasts. Passover comes next.
On the Passover, the Israelites killed a lamb, roasted the meat over a fire, and ate it. Using a branch of hyssop, they spread the blood over their doorposts. Anyone in a house under the blood of the lamb rested safe. Outside, the angel of death killed the firstborn the Egyptians. Do you get the symbolism? Good.
The Israelites ate bitter herbs (traditionally grated horseradish and/or romaine lettuce) with the meal. Bitter herbs represented the bitterness of the slavery from which they escaped.
And of course, I’ve left out one of the main ingredients: unleavened bread. It celebrated the people leaving in haste (Ex. 12:34), though the yeast also symbolized sin, as it puffed up a loaf of bread. The unleavened bread represented the sinless lamb, who took that bread on the night He was betrayed and distributed it as His body, broken for us. Though not mentioned in Exodus, the Passover Seder also included drinking a few cups of wine, and Jesus redefined that wine as His blood of the New Covenant.
As Christians, Communion is our Passover. Because of the blood of the lamb, our bitter years of sin’s slavery have ended, and in haste, we fly from the land of oppression.
Ex. 13:8 puts this in interesting terms: “You shall tell your son on that day, ‘It is because of what the Lord did for me when I came out of Egypt.’” In other words, we don’t celebrate a past event of 2,000 years ago; Passover is personal. God rescued me, and His deliverance is an ever-present reality.
Judgment on the gods of Egypt
On the night of Passover, God struck the firstborn of man and cattle and executed judgment “on all the gods of Egypt.” (Ex. 12:12) It it just me, or does that sound weird? Often, in the West, we teach that pagan gods are beings that simply do not exist. Ra was but a myth, so how could God execute judgment on him?
However, that’s only half the truth. Look at I Cor. 10:19-20a, “What do I imply then? That food offered to idols is anything, or that an idol is anything? No, I imply that what pagans sacrifice they offer to demons and not to God.”
This verse say that though an idol is nothing, HowHow
sacrifices to that idol go to demons. In other words, when people worship idols, the worship (i.e. sacrifices) doesn’t vanish; it goes to the tempting spirits. Put another way, a dark, spiritual power exists behind idols, and that power receives the worship given those idols, as Satan’s minions love receiving the praise due only to God.
In each of the ten plagues, God demonstrated His dominion over the realms of Egypt’s supposed gods. For example, the plague of darkness showed Yahweh’s power over Ra (god of the sun). Egypt had a god that should have protected them from locusts (Serapia), a fly god (Uatchit), cattle gods, etc. These judgments peaked in Passover, which judged Pharaoh (who was worshipped as a god), and after Passover’s completion, Yahweh had disarmed the demonic powers of Egypt.
In the crucifixion Passover, Jesus also judged demonic powers. “He disarmed the rulers and authorities and put them to open shame, by triumphing over them in Him.” (Col. 2:15) And a couple verses up, we read how that victory becomes ours, “And you have been filled in Him, who is the head of all rule and authority.” (Col. 2:10) Now, I’ve heard plenty of teaching on spiritual warfare, some good and some weird. But all the good teaching hinges on His triumph at Golgotha applied to us.
Great. Satan has no power over us. But how often do we experience this? And how often does a powerless god of Egypt trick us into depression or anxiety? I’ve heard my whole life how Jesus’ blood disarms demons, but I’ve also known demonic oppression. Sometimes, when we don’t experience this power, our teaching becomes academic. Academic teaching correctly answers all the questions but doesn’t change your life, and I never want to be guilty of academic teaching.
So, let’s look at an example. Say you lose your job, and a spiritual attack of anxiety comes against you. Here’s a first line of defense. Sit before Him, ideally somewhere in nature (which He uses to minister so powerfully), and meditate on a simple Bible verse. Say, Psalm 23. And pray , “Holy Spirit, flow into me and make my heart absorb these words.”
How about Phil. 4:6-7 as a second defense: “Be anxious in nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”
Start praying, “God, I thank you that I live in a nation where I won’t starve because I lost my job. I thank you that You’ll never leave or forsake me. Now, please provide for my family.” And so forth, until that peace comes.
Still nothing? Try Matt. 6:25-34 (“…Therefore, do no worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself…”). I hereby make it mandatory that every American memorizes that passage, because we worry so much about so little. In times of transition and change, I recite that passage every night, because otherwise I don’t sleep.
Hurting still? Try this, “God, I plead the blood of Jesus over this anxiety and attack. In Jesus name, rebuke the enemy, because You are the head over every power and authority.”
Anxiety persists? Well, Jesus’ victory isn’t yours alone. He bought a whole family to bear each other’s burdens. Phone a friend for prayer. Never underestimate the power of this step. Hearing the Spirit speak through a friend is often the difference between depression and joy. God is sufficient, but for some reason–perhaps to keep us humble–we often experience that sufficiency only in the help of another person.
There are some of my defenses, but find your own rhythm for combatting these demons.
And of course, medication has a place in extreme cases. Let no one call me one of those nuts who tells people to flush their pills. However, even the right medication doesn’t remove all anxiety. You need the blood, with or without pills.
Anyways, that may sound like a lot of work, but at some point, the demons will yield. They have to, because they have been judged at Passover. And to walk in that authority, we rest in God’s house behind the blood. Yet trust me when I say that resting in the house metaphorically differs from resting in the house literally. Because if there’s one sure-fire way to stay anxious, it’s to stay in your house and think about your problems.
Resting in the house means getting His rest into your mind. It’s strange, because what I wrote sounds like chaotic work, but I find so much peace as I slowly say those words, “Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them.” (Matt. 6:26).
Anyways, there’s an example, hopefully helpful, of how this authority plays out in real life. Perhaps a bit exhausting, but there’s my attempt to keep from becoming academic.
Passover plate image ©Jodi Bart