Age of Passover
People tend to define eras or ages that seem to describe the essence of the way of life for that time period. Historians talk about the Age of Reason, the Iron Age, the Dark Ages, the Age of Discovery, and a host of other appellations. Clearly these ages overlap and seldom actually end entirely, and new ages begin suddenly. We can continue the custom as far as religious ages might exists. While the Bible does not define ages or eras the way we do, we can certainly extrapolate a period by its characteristics.
From the four thousand years beginning with Adam and extending to Jesus, the Biblical era of that period contains several distinct characteristics vis a vis mankinds relationship with God. One might call it the age of rebellion and sin, but that does not entirely tell the story because certain meek and faithful individuals stand out among the crowd and exerted immense influence on history. It is an age of struggle with human nature and the human condition. It is an age of hope where none should exist. It is the Age of Passover.
The Age shows periods of rebellion mitigated by cleansing, repentance and revelation only to fall back into rebellion and ignorance. No matter how many times mankind rose to its potential, it lost its way and stumbled along in the dark and sinister woods of selfishness and spiritual blindness. After being attacked by the denizens of the fearsome forest, they cried to God for help and, for some strange reason, remembered the way out of the dark wilderness of evil. The cycle continued unabated until Jesus resurrection, actually.
Gen 3:6 When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it. She also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it.
The Age of Passover began with the first human parents rebellion against the very One Who created them. Their sin necessitated some kind of reproachmont between mankind and God. Since God cannot abide by sinful and evil individuals, they needed to be cleansed from evil, or be eliminated. Humans would themselves decide their fate.
The Thousand Years of Rebellion
Soon after Adam and Eve, who were made in the image of God, were created they fell under the sway of the demonic snake that deceived Eve into deliberate, premeditated breaking of Gods command not to eat of the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Eve rebelled because the serpent promised that the fruit would make her as wise as God, or even, perhaps be like God. After Eve succumbed, Adam joined for reasons not entirely clear. Nonetheless, they switched allegiance from God to Satan a bad, but not unexpected, move.
Gen 3:1 Now the serpent was more crafty than any of the wild animals the LORD God had made. He said to the woman, "Did God really say, 'You must not eat from any tree in the garden'?"
Gen 3:2 The woman said to the serpent, "We may eat fruit from the trees in the garden,
Gen 3:3 but God did say, 'You must not eat fruit from the tree that is in the middle of the garden, and you must not touch it, or you will die.'"
Gen 3:4 "You will not surely die," the serpent said to the woman.
Gen 3:5 "For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil."
The Earth entered a time of unmitigated horror, crime, war, and violence. Various gangs roaming the Earth and devastating the weak were met with equally ferocious opposing gangs. Constant warfare resulted. With the exception of one family, evil permeated the face and even the caves of Earth. The Bible leaves it to our imaginations to conceive of the terror of the unbridled brutality that overt rebellion visited on the human race. Except for the man Noah, God would have destroyed His finest creation.
Gen 6:5 The LORD saw how great man's wickedness on the earth had become, and that every inclination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil all the time.
Gen 6:6 The LORD was grieved that he had made man on the earth, and his heart was filled with pain.
Gen 6:7 So the LORD said, "I will wipe mankind, whom I have created, from the face of the earth-- men and animals, and creatures that move along the ground, and birds of the air-- for I am grieved that I have made them."
Gen 6:8 But Noah found favor in the eyes of the LORD.
Whenever people sunk to their lowest, a faithful follower of God appeared to save the day. This time it was Noah, then Abraham, Moses, Daniel and others until Jesus. Each of these patriarchs and prophets knew that what people called freedom from Gods oppressive ways was really slavery to Satan and sin. Each time they shook off slavery, they forgot and re-enslaved themselves. Again and again nations and people ascended and plummeted, seemingly without consideration or purpose. Always, they said, did God say? In todays idiom, they would say, does God really mind if we wander off into a tiny little bit of idolatry, rebellion, and selfishness? If God does exist, He is probably off caring for the universe and doesnt really pay us any mind, anyway. Then when troubles arose, they realized anew that God did say it, and meant it. And, He was around to save those burning with sin, when asked.
The Two Passover
In order for Israel to be released from the evil they absorbed in Egypt, He cleansed them first by blood, for without blood there is no atonement. God told Israel to kill the Passover lamb and put its blood around the lintels of the door to their houses. Passover night the angel of death passed over their houses because of the blood, but the houses without the blood lost their first-born. Israel was cleansed and the next day left Egypt.
Heb. 9:22 And according to the Law, one may almost say, all things are cleansed with blood, and without shedding of blood there is no forgiveness.
Ex. 12:21 ¶ Then Moses called for all the elders of Israel and said to them, Go and take for yourselves lambs according to your families, and slay the Passover lamb.
Ex. 12:27 you shall say, It is a Passover sacrifice to the LORD who passed over the houses of the sons of Israel in Egypt when He smote the Egyptians, but spared our homes. And the people bowed low and worshiped.
When Jesus was executed, his blood destroyed the power of death once and for all. This final Passover finished the plan of redemption God had in mind from the beginning. The cleansing by blood redeemed mankind from his rebelliousness. First, the original Passover, than Jesus sacrifice gave people the power to turn from evil and rebellion, if they believed God.
God also instituted the Days of Unleavened Bread, known in the vernacular as Passover. For seven days they had to eat unleavened bread, which represented the Word of God. It is this power of Gods Word that makes a person able to live as one made in the Image of God.
God Revealed the Nature of Evil
In order that the world would not return to the days of abject rebellion, God defined the evils to be avoided. He told Noah to protect marriage, to execute murderers, and to rule nature. He further gave specific laws to Moses to pass down to Israel; he called the laws the Ten Commandments.
Ex. 20:2 ¶ I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery.
Ex. 20:3 ¶ You shall have no other gods before Me.
Ex. 20:4 ¶ You shall not make for yourself an idol, or any likeness of what is in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the water under the earth.
Ex. 20:5 You shall not worship them or serve them; for I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children, on the third and the fourth generations of those who hate Me,
Ex. 20:6 but showing lovingkindness to thousands, to those who love Me and keep My commandments.
Ex. 20:7 ¶ You shall not take the name of the LORD your God in vain, for the LORD will not leave him unpunished who takes His name in vain.
Ex. 20:8 ¶ Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy.
Ex. 20:9 Six days you shall labor and do all your work,
Ex. 20:10 but the seventh day is a sabbath of the LORD your God; in it you shall not do any work, you or your son or your daughter, your male or your female servant or your cattle or your sojourner who stays with you.
Ex. 20:11 For in six days the LORD made the heavens and the earth, the sea and all that is in them, and rested on the seventh day; therefore the LORD blessed the sabbath day and made it holy.
Ex. 20:12 ¶ Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be prolonged in the land which the LORD your God gives you.
Ex. 20:13 ¶ You shall not murder.
Ex. 20:14 ¶ You shall not commit adultery.
Ex. 20:15 ¶ You shall not steal.
Ex. 20:16 ¶ You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.
Ex. 20:17 ¶ You shall not covet your neighbors house; you shall not covet your neighbors wife or his male servant or his female servant or his ox or his donkey or anything that belongs to your neighbor.
And so that His Laws could not be compromised or changed, He had the Commandments written in stone and made them immutable.
Rebellion and Slavery
1Sam. 15:23 For rebellion is as the sin of divination,
And insubordination is as iniquity and idolatry.
Because you have rejected the word of the LORD,
He has also rejected you from being king.
Joh 8:34 Jesus replied, "I tell you the truth, everyone who sins is a slave to sin.
Israel lived and gave us an example of the slavery sin brings. To avoid the ravages of unprecedented drought, Israels family migrated from the Promised Land to the land of sin, Egypt, who held them captive for four hundred years. While the Israelites apparently made little effort to escape the slavery, they did called out to the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. We might question their unwillingness to flee the land of sin, and wonder whether the deceitfulness of sin held them enthralled or wonder whether they just had an unusually docile nature. Nonetheless, God finally interceded using a Levite who became a prince of Egypt and an outcast later.
God used the opportunity of Israels captivity to show the major aspects of the Age of Passover. Those who believed what He said put blood over the lintels of their doors on Passover night, and the angel of death passed over them. The next day Pharaoh demanded they leave his country, and the Israelites were freed and became a nation under God, the God of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and later Jesus. To further facilitate their repentance from the evil of Egypt, God baptized them by passing them through the Red Sea, parted for their easy journey to what should have been a short trip to the land of Canaan, the Promised Land the land of hope.
With even the faith they had to put the blood around the door jams and their cleansing by crossing the Red Sea, they refused to give up rebellion and disobedience. They groused about this, refused to do that, did what they should not have; in general, acted more like Egyptians then a people under God. So God made them wander in the desert heat for forty years until the rebellions ones died out, and He had Joshua lead the children into the Promised Land. They crossed the Jordan as they crossed the Red Sea with its intendant cleansing.
A Change of Kingdom
Israel first lived under the Living God as their King, but after becoming aware of other kingdoms, began to desire a human king as well. As bad as that would be for them, with taxes as high as twenty percent in times of trouble, but at least ten percent the rest of the time, which God thought exorbitant, and their people being sent into service of the king, even to die for him as soldiers. Yet, that is what they insisted on, and God granted it. Their kings ranged from excellent as David and Hezekiah to evil as Ahab. Their fortunes pendulated according to the morality of their kings. Right after Solomon, ten tribes of Israel seceded from the confederacy and plunged into moral turpitude. The remaining two tribes did better until they too disgraced their heritage and were sent into captivity. An indepedent nation of Israel ceased to exist thereafter until 1947.
The Age of Passover continued with Israel succeeding and failing to follow the God who gave them His Laws of Freedom and Love and made them a great nation. Therefore, God rejected Israel through which He would ultimately save mankind. Instead, He took His only begotten Son, who descended in part from an Israeli heritage, and made Him the new king of a new nation, a nation in waiting. After Jesus proved his qualifications for rulership, God made him king of kings and lord of lords under Him, of course.
After Noah accepted God and found favor in His sight, God baptized the Earth and washed it from evil. After Egypt released Israel from slavery, God baptized and washed them by their walking through the parted waters of the Red Sea. After Jesus time, each person who repents from evil ways is washed in Baptism. Each Passover believers wash each others feet because people walk in an evil world and some of it clings to them.
1Co 10:1 For I do not want you to be ignorant of the fact, brothers, that our forefathers were all under the cloud and that they all passed through the sea.
1Co 10:2 They were all baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea.
Act 22:16 And now what are you waiting for? Get up, be baptized and wash your sins away, calling on his name.'
Evil Must Be Completed
With God, He waits until something is complete before He acts. He waited until evil permeated the Earth before He flooded the land.
Gen 6:5 The LORD saw how great man's wickedness on the earth had become, and that every inclination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil all the time.
God did not release Israel from Egypt until the evil people of Canaan was complete.
Gen. 15:16 And they shall come back here in the fourth generation; for the iniquity of the Amorites is not yet complete.
Then He destroyed the evil, either Himself or through people.
Ex. 23:23 ¶ When my angel goes before you, and brings you in to the Amorites, and the Hittites, and the Perizzites, and the Canaanites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites, and I blot them out,
Deut. 20:17 but you shall utterly destroy them, the Hittites and the Amorites, the Canaanites and the Perizzites, the Hivites and the Jebusites, as the LORD your God has commanded;
When Israel adamantly refused over centuries of remonstrations to adhere to the great Words God gave them, He cast them into captivity; that is, when their evil was complete.
Jer. 25:12 Then after seventy years are completed, I will punish the king of Babylon and that nation, the land of the Chaldeans, for their iniquity, says the LORD, making the land an everlasting waste.
Finally, when the Earth returns to the days of yore, pre flood conditions with the exception of the tiny band of believers, God will bring the Kingdom of God into existence with a great tribulation.
Mat 23:32 Fill up, then, the measure of the sin of your forefathers! [NIV]
1Th 2:16 in their effort to keep us from speaking to the Gentiles so that they may be saved. In this way they always heap up their sins to the limit. The wrath of God has come upon them at last. [Or them fully] [NIB]
You see, evil must run its complete course before God will destroy it. Until people see the full extent of the nature of evil, the will never repent of it. That time, except for prescient and believing few, has not yet arrived. It will, but in the mean time, God has already ushered in the New Age.
Adam and Eves rebellion ushered in the Age of Passover. Gods plan was to find several individuals who would be faithful followers of Him, who would participate in the rehabilitation of mankind, which involved several steps. Evil must be washed away by baptism, sins must be atoned for by blood sacrifices (as the lambs in the first Passover, and Jesus in the later one), God revealed evil by the Ten Commandments, God further revealed His Nature and plans by His Word, the Word of God, and God created for Himself a nation to learn and propel His plan (Israel in the beginning and the Kingdom of God after Jesus).
The Age of Passover might be described as physical attack on the wages of sin using water and blood to cleanse the sinner, educating people by defining the enemys ways through the definition of the Law, and building a nation, under God (occasionally), using the combined forces of national conforming pressure and an atoning priesthood. The problem was not the process God developed to bring His people into His Way, but as human beings, Israel could not obey, with a few notable exceptions.
Even as Gods plan developed over the ages, the tendency of people was always downward until the New Creation.