Passover is here. Jewish homes are gathering for our yearly seder, the recounting of God’s deliverance from the hands of our enemies in Egypt. This is the Jewish family celebration par excellence. I have cherished childhood memories of my Ukraine-born bobbeh (Jewish grandmother) bringing out culinary masterpieces, one after another, to the festive table. I would sing the Four Questions, the privilege of the youngest child, and my father (who had been a cantor in the US Army) led the family and guests in singing the entire Haggadah (the long liturgical song service) while I slowly drifted off to sleep.
This year let’s consider the redemptive role of water in the Exodus story. Both death and life are bound up in the waters of Egypt.
“Drown the seed of Abraham!”
“But as the time of the promise which God had assured to Abraham was approaching, the people increased and multiplied in Egypt, until ‘another king arose over Egypt who did not know Joseph.’ It was he who shrewdly took advantage of our nation and mistreated our fathers in order that they would abandon their infants, so that they would not survive” (Acts 7:17-19). The Passover story is deeply connected to the flowering of YHVH’s promise to Abraham:
- Now when the sun was going down, a deep sleep fell upon Abram; and behold, terror and great darkness fell upon him.Then God said to Abram, “Know for certain that your descendants will be strangers in a land that is not theirs, where they will be enslaved and oppressed for four hundred years. But I will also judge the nation whom they will serve, and afterward they will come out with many possessions. As for you, you shall go to your fathers in peace; you will be buried at a good old age. Then in the fourth generation they will return here, for the iniquity of the Amorite is not yet complete.” (Genesis 15:12-16)
The Jewish people entered into Goshen and prospered there. Thanks to Joseph’s divine connections they experienced good relationships with Egypt’s leadership. But all good things come to an end. Joseph died. The pharaoh died. And “a new king arose over Egypt, who did not know Joseph . . . Then Pharaoh commanded all his people, saying, ‘Every [Hebrew] son who is born, you are to throw into the Nile, but every daughter, you are to keep alive’” (Exodus 1:8, 22). But the waters which brought death to Israel would be used by YHVH to bring deliverance.
A beautiful child
“Now a man from the house of Levi went and married a daughter of Levi. And the woman conceived and gave birth to a son; and when she saw that he was beautiful, she hid him for three months. But when she could no longer hide him, she got him a papyrus basket and covered it with tar and pitch. Then she put the child in it and set it among the reeds by the bank of the Nile” (Exodus 2:1-3).
Amram the Levite and his wife Yocheved (Numbers 26:59) had three children – Miriam, Aaron and Moses. Yocheved could not bear the thought of killing her baby; he was a beautiful child. She hid him, avoiding the long hand of Egypt’s secret service, but pressures eventually led her to put her baby’s fate into YHVH’s hands. She took some of the plentiful Egyptian papyrus found along the banks of the Nile and made a small basket, sealing its bottom with pitch as Noah had done many years before (Genesis 6:14). She sent her daughter Miriam to watch over the basket and be an eyewitness as to the bitter fate of her dear son: “And his sister stood at a distance to find out what would happen to him” (Exodus 12:4).
God’s hand was all over this scenario:
- Now the daughter of Pharaoh came down to bathe at the Nile, with her female attendants walking alongside the Nile. And she saw the basket among the reeds and sent her slave woman, and she brought it to her. When she opened it, she saw the child, and behold, the boy was crying. And she had pity on him and said, “This is one of the Hebrews’ children.” Then his sister said to Pharaoh’s daughter, “Shall I go and call a woman for you who is nursing from the Hebrew women, so that she may nurse the child for you?” Pharaoh’s daughter said to her, “Go ahead.” So the girl went and called the child’s mother. Then Pharaoh’s daughter said to her, “Take this child away and nurse him for me, and I will give you your wages.” So the woman took the child and nursed him. And the child grew, and she brought him to Pharaoh’s daughter and he became her son. And she named him Moses [Hebrew, Moshe], and said, “Because I drew him [Hebrew, m’shitehu] out of the water” (Exodus 12:5-10).
What had been the watery graveyard of many Jewish babies was now transformed by YHVH into the water-filled springboard for freeing the entire nation of Hebrew slaves. Out of death would come life.
“By faith Moses, when he was born, was hidden for three months by his parents, because they saw he was a beautiful child; and they were not afraid of the king’s edict” (Hebrews 11:23).
The waters of the Nile – a divine sign
When YHVH and Moses were discussing his commission – to become the ‘Abraham Lincoln’ of Egypt’s Jews – He gave Moses a supernatural sign:
- Then Moses said, “What if they will not believe me or listen to what I say? For they may say, ‘YHVH has not appeared to you.’” [. . . and YHVH said] “So if they will not believe you nor pay attention to the evidence of the first sign, they may believe the evidence of the last sign. But if they will not believe even these two signs nor pay attention to what you say, then you shall take some water from the Nile and pour it on the dry ground; and the water which you take from the Nile will turn into blood on the dry ground” (Exodus 4:1, 8-9)
The Egyptian context of what this sign meant is powerful. Two of Egypt’s demonic idols were directly connected to the Nile:
- Hapi son of Horus was the god known as ‘Lord of the River Bringing Vegetation.’ He was considered responsible for the annual flooding of the Nile. This flooding deposited rich silt on the river’s banks, ensuring healthy harvests.
- Khnum was considered the god of the source of the Nile, the creator of the bodies of human children which he made at his divine potter’s wheel from clay, and placed in their mothers’ wombs. His titles included ‘Divine Potter’ and ‘Lord of created things from himself.’
The God of Jacob was showing by this sign that He is sovereign over all supposed gods and spiritual authorities. The message would not be lost on Pharaoh, Egypt’s priests and commoners alike.
- Then YHVH said to Moses, “Pharaoh’s heart is stubborn; he refuses to let the people go. Go to Pharaoh in the morning just as he is going out to the water, and position yourself to meet him on the bank of the Nile. And you shall take in your hand the staff that was turned into a serpent. And you shall say to him, ‘YHVH, the God of the Hebrews, sent me to you, saying, “Let My people go, so that they may serve Me in the wilderness. But behold, you have not listened up to now.” This is what YHVH says: “By this you shall know that I am YHVH: behold, I am going to strike the water that is in the Nile with the staff that is in my hand, and it will be turned into blood. Then the fish that are in the Nile will die, the Nile will stink, and the Egyptians will no longer be able to drink water from the Nile.”
- Then YHVH said to Moses, “Say to Aaron, ‘Take your staff and extend your hand over the waters of Egypt, over their rivers, over their streams, over their pools, and over all their reservoirs of water, so that they may become blood. And there will be blood through all the land of Egypt, both in containers of wood and in containers of stone.’” So Moses and Aaron did just as YHVH had commanded. And he lifted up the staff and struck the water that was in the Nile in the sight of Pharaoh and in the sight of his servants. And all the water that was in the Nile was turned into blood. Then the fish that were in the Nile died, and the Nile stank, so that the Egyptians could not drink water from the Nile. And the blood was through all the land of Egypt . . . And Pharaoh’s heart was hardened, and he did not listen to them, just as YHVH had said. Then Pharaoh turned and went into his house with no concern even for this. So all the Egyptians dug around the Nile for water to drink, because they could not drink from the water of the Nile. Seven days passed after YHVH had struck the Nile. (Exodus 7:14-25)
The God of the Hebrews was confronting and defeating the ‘gods’ of Egypt. The Ten Plagues were actually a magnificent and awesome manifestation of spiritual warfare, as YHVH Himself declares: “For I will go through the land of Egypt on that night, and fatally strike all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, from the human firstborn to animals. And against all the gods of Egypt I will execute judgments – I am YHVH” (Exodus 12:12; see Numbers 33:4).
YHVH was using the waters of the Nile to make a point and declare the gospel, the good news, of His immediate deliverance.
“I will be honored through Pharaoh and all his army”
The climax of YHVH’s judgment came through water. The God of the Hebrews declared that He would be glorified through the drowning of Egypt’s special forces in the waters of the sea:
- Now YHVH spoke to Moses, saying, “Tell the sons of Israel to turn back and camp in front of Pi-hahiroth, between Migdol and the sea. You shall camp in front of Baal-zephon, opposite it, by the sea. For Pharaoh will say of the sons of Israel, ‘They are wandering aimlessly in the land; the wilderness has shut them in.’ And I will harden Pharaoh’s heart, and he will chase after them; and I will be honored through Pharaoh and all his army, and the Egyptians will know that I am YHVH” . . . Then the Egyptians chased after them with all the horses and chariots of Pharaoh, his horsemen and his army, and they overtook them camping by the sea, beside Pi-hahiroth, in front of Baal-zephon (Exodus 14:1-4, 9)
- But Moses said to the people, “Do not fear! Stand by and see the salvation of YHVH, which He will perform for you today; for the Egyptians whom you have seen today, you will never see them again, ever. YHVH will fight for you, while you keep silent” . . . Then Moses reached out with his hand over the sea; and YHVH swept the sea back by a strong east wind all night, and turned the sea into dry land, and the waters were divided. So the sons of Israel went through the midst of the sea on the dry land, and the waters were like a wall to them on their right and on their left.
- Then YHVH said to Moses, “Reach out with your hand over the sea so that the waters may come back over the Egyptians, over their chariots and their horsemen.” So Moses reached out with his hand over the sea, and the sea returned to its normal state at daybreak, while the Egyptians were fleeing right into it; then YHVH overthrew the Egyptians in the midst of the sea. The waters returned and covered the chariots and the horsemen, Pharaoh’s entire army that had gone into the sea after them; not even one of them remained. But the sons of Israel walked on dry land through the midst of the sea, and the waters were like a wall to them on their right and on their left. So YHVH saved Israel that day from the hand of the Egyptians, and Israel saw the Egyptians dead on the seashore. When Israel saw the great power which YHVH had used against the Egyptians, the people feared YHVH, and they believed in YHVH and in His servant Moses. (Exodus 14:13-14, 21-22, 26-30)
“By faith they passed through the Red Sea as through dry land. And the Egyptians, when they attempted it, were drowned” (Hebrews 11:29).
As Pharaoh had tried to destroy the seed of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob through water, so YHVH destroyed the cream of Egypt’s military might through water. This was in accordance with His promise to Abraham that YHVH would curse the one who curses the Jewish people (Genesis 12:3) – tit for tat.
Biblical praise and worship
Some of us are comfortable praising God in a beautiful sanctuary, with wall-to-wall carpeting and state-of-the-art sound systems. But the explosion of praise and worship which Moses, Miriam and the people of Israel raised on the shores of the sea reached heights that are unknown to many of us. In Exodus 15 they praised God for protecting the Jewish people according to His covenant promises, for utterly annihilating their enemies, and specifically for striking terror into the hearts of His enemies in what is today known as Gaza, the West Bank and Jordan. They praised Him for the fact that YHVH was about to bring Joshua and Israel into the Promised Land, there to be planted forever by God’s hand:
- Then Moses and the sons of Israel sang this song to YHVH, saying: “I will sing to YHVH, for He is highly exalted! The horse and its rider He has hurled into the sea. YHVH is my strength and song, and He has become my salvation. This is my God, and I will praise Him; My father’s God, and I will exalt Him. YHVH is a warrior; YHVH is His name! Pharaoh’s chariots and his army He has thrown into the sea, and the choicest of his officers are drowned in the Reed Sea. The waters cover them. They went down into the depths like a stone. Your right hand, Lord, is majestic in power. Your right hand, Lord, destroys the enemy . . . The enemy said, ‘I will pursue, I will overtake, I will divide the spoils! I shall be satisfied against them! I will draw my sword, my hand will destroy them!’ You blew with Your wind, the sea covered them. They sank like lead in the mighty waters. Who is like You among the gods, YHVH? Who is like You, majestic in holiness, awesome in praises, working wonders? . . . Anguish has gripped the inhabitants of Philistia. Then the chiefs of Edom were terrified. The leaders of Moab, trembling grips them. All the inhabitants of Canaan have despaired. Terror and dread fall upon them. By the greatness of Your arm they are motionless as stone – until Your people pass over, YHVH, until the people pass over whom You have purchased. You will bring them and plant them in the mountain of Your inheritance, the place, YHVH, which You have made as Your dwelling – the sanctuary, YHVH, which Your hands have established. YHVH shall reign forever and ever!” (Exodus 15)
Waters of the future
Zechariah shares a stunning prophetic word regarding YHVH the warrior’s future military exploits against His Middle Eastern enemies. He will once again act as He acted on Moses’ behalf, and once again dry up the Nile, bringing down His enemies in Egypt, Iraq and Lebanon. This is the God we serve, and this is His prophetic word. These prophecies need to be factored into our Last Days vision. Great shakings in the Middle East are soon to come. Let’s incorporate these prophetic declarations into our intercession and our strategic vision:
- “For YHVH of armies has visited His flock, the house of Judah, and will make them like His majestic horse in battle. And they will be like warriors, trampling down the enemy in the mud of the streets in battle. And they will fight, because YHVH will be with them, and the riders on horses will be put to shame. And I will strengthen the house of Judah, and I will save the house of Joseph, and I will bring them back, because I have had compassion on them. And they will be as though I had not rejected them, for I am YHVH their God and I will answer them. Ephraim will be like a warrior, and their heart will be joyful as if from wine. Indeed, their children will see it and be joyful. Their heart will rejoice in YHVH.
- I will whistle for them and gather them together, for I have redeemed them. And they will be as numerous as they were before. When I scatter them among the peoples, they will remember Me in distant countries. And they with their children will live and come back. I will bring them back from the land of Egypt and gather them from Assyria. And I will bring them into the land of Gilead and Lebanon until no room can be found for them. And they will pass through the sea of distress and He will strike the waves in the sea, so that all the depths of the Nile will dry up. And the pride of Assyria will be brought down, and the scepter of Egypt will depart. And I will strengthen them in YHVH, and in His name they will walk, declares YHVH” (Zechariah 10:3-12)
Passover is a time for remembering, for praising God for His past redemptive acts, and for worshipping Him for all that He is yet to do!
How should we then pray?
- Pray for the Jewish people to catch YHVH’s vision for His future redemptive acts on behalf of His people
- Pray for the sons and daughters of Jacob to receive divine revelation of Messiah Yeshua their Passover Lamb
- Pray for believers worldwide to receive fresh biblically-based revelation of YHVH’s heart and strategies for His covenant people
- Pray for the raising up of the Ezekiel 37 prophetic army among the Jewish people
Your prayers and support hold up our arms and are the very practical enablement of God to us in the work He has called us to do.
In Messiah Yeshua,
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