Hebrew Word Study Part II
I stumbled onto a new understanding of the Passover through doing a word study on "the destroyer" of Exodus 12:23. I learned not only extremely interesting information about this destroyer in the original Hebrew, I learned something very interesting about the word "Passover" itself in Hebrew.
I had always unquestioningly assumed that when God "passed over" the houses of those who had the blood painted on the doorposts and lintels, it meant He skipped them out. He just kept going when He saw the blood, rather than entering in to strike the firstborn. What I learned about the word translated "pass over" in our English translations gave me a slightly different slant on this picture of the passing over, and that slightly different picture is a glorious one.
I learned that the word translated "pass over" in the English is "pasach" in the Hebrew, and it can mean, "pass over" but it can also mean "to halt, become lame, leap."
It was the "halt" that caught my attention. Why could "pasach" be translated "halt, become lame, leap, or pass over"? "Halt" is an old, outmoded synonym for "lame." The idea is that a slightly lame or crippled person, maybe a person with a limp, halts in their stride. I gleaned the notion that "pasach," like our phrase, "pass over" could mean two actually entirely contradictory things. "Pasach" could mean "halt" (the reason this word can also mean "lame") and it could mean "skip over" (the reason this word can mean "to leap.") But really, that's how the English "pass over" can be used, as well. I used to think that God "passed over" the houses with blood on their doorposts and lintels by skipping them over for the destruction. But think of "pass over" in a different sense. Think of it in the sense of "halting over."
Do you see it? Maybe not yet. Let me give you a different visual. The blood was to be painted on the doorposts and the lintels of the doors. Why? Picture it. The lintel is the piece of the doorframe at the top -- the horizontal piece at the HEAD of the door. The doorposts, of course, are the two vertical pieces going along the sides. Why was the blood to be painted on these pieces in this very specific manner? Because God would PASS OVER their houses.
When you think of "pass over" in terms of halting, are you getting the visual? God would pass over the houses under the protection of the blood by halting at their doors. He would pass HIMSELF over their doors for the protection of those within. Picture Him passing Himself over a protected house by stretching out His arms to match His hands to the bloody marks on the doorposts with His head matching the bloody mark at the top. I picture Him going along with the destroyer and taking a "You-shall-not-pass-this-threshhold" kind of a stance in front of the destroyer at the doorways where He saw the blood.
It's not only a "You-shall-not-pass" kind of a stance, however. There's another stance it reminds me of. The blood at the top of the wood and the sides gives it away. It's the stance He would have taken on the cross. It's the "I-will-not-defend-Myself-do-with-Me-what-you-will" kind of a stance He took with the destroyer.
In Egypt at the time of the first passover, the destroyer was there to destroy. He was there to do what he wanted to do with those who were his rightful property.
I think of the white witch and Aslan. The white witch had every right to Edmund. All traitors were her rightful property to do with as she wished.
All those living in Egypt (in fact, all of us) at one time were the rightful property of the destroyer. At one time or another, all of us have decided we will not serve God. And in so doing, we've all turned ourselves over to serve the destroyer. The Israelites in Egypt were no different. They, too, were the rightful property of the destroyer to do with as he wished.
Yet, God was not content to see that happen. So God, Himself, passed over, halted over, the doorways of those who indicated by the sign of the blood that they believed Him and claimed His protection. And so He, Himself, became the door for those houses, keeping out the destroyer. And in so doing, He bore the brunt of whatever the destroyer wished to do with his rightful property. Justice must be served. If Edmund was not to die, Aslan must.
It was HIS blood, God's own blood, on the doorposts and lintels of the houses of those who trusted in Him. He was the Lamb. The blood on the doorposts was from HIS bloodied, nail-marked hands. The blood on the lintel was from HIS bloodied, thorn-crowned head. The placement of the blood on the doorway is enormously significant when you think about it in light of the cross.
The destroyer had the rights to the firstborn. He had the right to strike all the firstborn in the land of Egypt (which, Scripturally, often symbolizes the state of our old natures -- sin). If God wouldn't allow Him to pass into the house to slay the firstborn in the house, He would slay God's firstborn -- God's only begotten -- in their place. What a picture that first passover was and is!
Do you have goosebumps yet? I can hardly see the screen or the words I'm typing for tears. THIS is the picture of the God we can choose to serve (or not -- He leaves the choice up to us to cover our own doorways with His blood or not).
Now, I want to talk for a moment about the concept of "standing in the gap" from Ezekiel 22. Ezekiel 22:30 says, "So I sought for a man among them who would make a wall, and stand in the gap before Me on behalf of the land, that I should not destroy it; but I found no one."
There is a call on our lives to "stand in the gap," to proclaim the truth of God's Word and attempt to turn people away from sin, stopping up the gaps in the wall. And I think that is the message of this passage on the one hand. On the other, I think there is an even deeper meaning.
Here, in Ezekiel 22:30 is the picture we see from Exodus 12 of the first passover. We've all made breaks in the wall of God's protection by not keeping His commandments. We've all broken through the wall of His protection and gone outside where evil dwells. In fact, in our natural state, that's where we dwelt. We all dwelt outside the walls. We all started off by choosing to live in the enemy's territory. We're the rightful property of the destroyer to destroy as he wishes.
Ezekiel 22:30 talks as though God will destroy the sinful city. And that's true. He must destroy sin. And He will destroy the sinful. Yet He does so by turning them over to the destroyer. From Ezekiel 22, he destroyed the sinful city of old Jerusalem by turning it over to the Chaldeans. In Egypt, He struck the firstborn of the Egyptians by allowing the destroyer at them. We choose our own destruction, and He destroys by turning us over to the destroyer.
But God was not content with the arrangement that we should destroy ourselves by choosing to serve the destroyer, though He still gives us that freedom. So He made a way, by a new birth, to be born into His city – the New Jerusalem. Or in a different analogy, He brought us in to His city through "the pearly gates." And He is the Pearl of Great Price.
But, all of us had sinned. Even living under the protection of God's walls, we continue to "break through the wall" and sin. There are gaps in the walls. There were gaps in the walls of the old city of Jerusalem, and in Ezekiel 22:30, the Lord was looking for a righteous man to stand in those gaps, so He wouldn't have to destroy it. God didn't find His man to stand in the gaps of the old city of Jerusalem (men like Ezekiel and Daniel were no longer in the city at the time of the writing of Ezekiel 22). As a result, the city of Jerusalem was unprotected by righteousness and destroyed by Nebuchadnezzar.
There are also gaps in the walls of the city of New Jerusalem. But God found His Man to stand in those gaps of the New Jerusalem. We call those gaps "gates," and only one Man could stand in them. He is the gate. He is the door. Not only can we not get into this city in any other way than through Him, but neither is there any other who could keep out the destroyer. At what cost, He stood in those gaps to let us in to His city and at what cost He kept the destroyer out. It was at the cost of His own precious blood.
An excerpt taken from "Revelation Plus," an online Bible study by Connie Cook
All scripture quotations are taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
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