You can’t worship God without Pesach! (Passover, Pasaka..)

In Exodus chapter twelve, we read the account of the actual event this book is named after. The interesting thing is that instructions that clearly indicate they are to be observed for generations to come, of an act that has supernatural consequences for eternity, are given to Moses and Aaron. As I meditate on the work of the cross and what Jesus did on it I am led to see that somehow, without the cross, we cannot worship God at all!

Prior to this event God commissioned Moses to ‘go to Pharaoh (Exodus 8:1) and say to him, This is what the LORD says: Let my people go, so that they may worship me.’ After many signs and wonders and plagues, Pharaoh and his folk kept being stiff-necked and stubborn and still wouldn’t capitulate. I get the feeling God was not just setting up the Egyptians for a major confrontation, but the rest of humanity for a supernatural revelation of their state and need for His deliverance. You have to remember that the Israelites had been slaves for 400 years as foretold to their forefather Abraham, and the time for deliverance had come.

In Exodus 7:1, the LORD tells Moses “See, I have made you like God to Pharaoh, and your brother Aaron will be your prophet.” If you know your Egyptian history well, Pharaoh was god as far as the Egyptians were concerned so God had to empower Moses so as to make him a suitable ambassador of the Kingdom! All these years they had served Pharaoh and his ‘gods’ and now the Lord was about to deliver them. He would deliver them from this cruel and enslaving kingdom so that they would be able to serve Him, the God who created them, loved them and had promised their forefather Abraham that they would live and prosper in a promised land.

We often come into this season, some calling it Easter, others Resurrection Sunday, others Pesach (at least in Swahili we call it Pasaka, which sounds closer to the Hebrew!). Since our childhood, many of us, especially in East Africa, looked at it as a time for eating special meals like chicken, roast meat and rice pilau (pilaf). It also was synonymous with getting new outfits which we would show off at Sunday easter service and so on. We regarded it as some celebration day that delivered us from those tight worn out shoes and clothes we had outgrown! What we never realized is the eternal significance of this powerful weekend as far as our deliverance from sin and its enslaving consequences. Sadly, even till today, many of us confess Christ, live lives fearful of God and mostly obedient to His word but still serve in ‘Egypt’! We still are slaves to sin, sicknesses, poverty, unforgiveness and fear, to name a few bondages that enslave us.

If you have time read and take note of certain things that happen in the Exodus. I will name a few:

1. The Israelites were freed from slavery, where they labored and others gained from their labour.
2. The Israelites stopped serving the Egyptian gods.
3. The Israelites left without lifting a finger in uprising and in fact their captors begged them to leave.
4. The Israelites even got silver, gold and other precious things given to them to get them on their way
5. When the Lord struck down the Egyptians, those who had the blood applied on their homes were spared.

These are but a few of the unmerited benefits they got from the Passover! What a mighty God we serve! Going back to Exodus 12:2, we find God declaring that that month was to be the first month for the Israelites. Here we see the Passover also being made an event to overturn seasons and in fact usher in a new calendar, a new beginning. So it seems that Pesach becomes symbolic with ushering in a new beginning: people being delivered to serve (worship) the Lord. By the way the Hebrew word used for worship is the same one used for serving (abad pronounced aw-bad). In fact the King James Bible uses ‘serve’ while the NIV uses ‘worship’. In fact the word means to ‘work’ and can also mean to enslave, keep in bondage, use, compel to do (Strongs 05647).

This shows me that worship is not just a song or a Sunday service, but acts of obedience that show God’s power and love enabled by His Holy Spirit. Adam was created to serve (worship) God by taking charge and care of God’s creation. By sinning, he put man in a position that required deliverance from slavery to sin. In verse 12 of Exodus 12, the Bible says: ‘On that night I will pass through Egypt and strike down every firstborn-both men and animals-and I will bring judgement on all the gods of Egypt. I am the LORD…” He adds in verse 14:”This is a day you are to commemorate; for the generations to come you shall celebrate it as a festival to the LORD-a lasting ordinance. Three times in that chapter the words ‘lasting ordinance’ are repeated. Now fast forward to resurrection week, when Jesus is handed over to be crucified. Notice any similarities?

You and I today are redeemed by the blood of the Lamb (1 Cor 5:7,8: Get rid of the old yeast that you may be a new batch without yeast-as you really are. For Christ, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed. Therefore let us keep the Festival, not with the old yeast, the yeast of malice and wickedness, but with bread without yeast, the bread of sincerity and truth.) Revelations 5:9 tells of how the Lamb was worthy because He was slain and with His blood purchased men for God ‘from every tribe and language and people and nation’ and has ‘made them to be a kingdom (rulers with dominion and authority!) and priests (mediators between God and mankind) to SERVE..’ God and they “will reign on the earth”. Notice it doesn’t say they will reign in heaven!

Now we can clearly see the passover work of the cross in a new light. Here we have God using the Exodus as a way of foretelling the future act of a Messiah who comes to restore us, not just from slavery in ‘Egypt’ but also to reign and serve our God in this manner. Let’s fast forward to our state of being today. Are we living as rulers or the ruled? Are we really worshipping God in spirit and in truth? Have we understood that worshipping God and serving Him go hand in hand? Perhaps we need to rethink our understanding of the work of the crucifixion and the power of the blood of the Lamb. Remember that He also said that if He did not leave He could not send us the Helper (The Holy Spirit). Use this time and season when there are open heavens to call upon Him so that He can set us completely free from the Egyptians that are within and without us. Him whom the Son sets free is free indeed. As you meditate on the power of the Passover, the Lord will give you a fresh new thirst and hunger for His righteousness so that you will be filled with power from on High to serve Him in spirit and in truth.

Be blessed! Be free! Be-lieve! (repost of archived article)

The Purpose and Power of Resurrection Sunday aka Easter, Peasch, Passover

As we all celebrate this wonderful day and enjoy ourselves with friends and family we are reminded that mankind’s redemption was sealed forever around 2,000 years ago on this day. The Word of God gives an account of how Jesus’ grave was found on the dawn of the first day of the week when Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to look at it. The account in Matthew 28 tells of how they encounter an angel and then Jesus himself. In Luke 24:46,47 Jesus explains to the disciples  that it was written that “The Christ will suffer and rise from the dead on the third day and repentance and forgiveness sins will be preached in his name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem”.

Jesus here points back to the scriptures, and in this case he had mentioned the Law of Moses, the Prophets and the Psalms as pointing towards what He had to accomplish and how it was to be accomplished. In order for there to be redemption for mankind by the forgiveness of sins and repentance, which is the act of turning away from doing what is wrong in God’s sight, the Messiah needed to suffer and die so as to rise from the dead on the third day. Isiaiah 53 tells of the work of the Messiah, being ‘despised and rejected by men, but taking up our infirmities and carrying our sorrows!’ Isiaiah 53:3 tells of how he was ‘pierced for our transgressions and crushed for our iniquities’ and that His punishment is the one that brought us peace!

Surely now we can sing with confidence that ‘there is power, power, wonder working power in the blood!’. In verse twelve of Isaiah 53 we are told that ‘he bore the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors’. So though we were all cursed by one mans disobedience (Adam), we are all blessed by one mans obedience. Verse 10 of the same chapter in Isaiah tells of how it was ‘the Lord’s will to crush him and cause him to suffer’. Jesus, while praying in the garden and struggling with the pending tribulation He was about to go through, eventually declares: ‘Not my will, but yours, be done’ (Luke 22:42). What an act of obedience!

The resurrection power of God was only able to function when Jesus obeyed the Father’s will to lay His life down and suffer for us. By going through with this act of obedience, He reveals God’s plan for mankind’s redemption by first proving that God has the ultimate power over life and death and that all who believe in Him can experience the same benefits of the purpose and power of the resurrection. The promise of redemption from sin and it’s ultimate power, death, is what makes this day special.  By redeeming us, we have now become sons through faith in Him (Galatians 3:26, 4:5,6, 2 Cor 6:18, Eph 1:5) and have the full right to display His power and glory and have dominion restored to us.

Have a power filled day as you remember the work of the cross!

Be blessed! Be filled with power! Be a good witness of the resurrection!
(repost of archived article missing after switch to WordPress)

God’s Conditions for Healing the Land

“If my people, which are called by my name, shall
humble themselves and pray, and seek my face, and turn
from their wicked ways, then will l hear from heaven
and will forgive their sin and will heal their land”.
– 2 Chronicles 7:14.

This morning I have looked at this scripture in a new light. It was always my assumption that forgiveness of sins was connected to repentance or confession, and that still remains the case. The scripture above seems to go a little further than that and I shall attempt to connect the revelation that actions lead to results, not just prayer.

The problem with revival today is that most people believe it is born out of fervent prayer and so they continue praying and fasting endlessly without achieving results (Isaiah 1: 58).  In a past article on why transformation is hindered, I talked about how God shows us in Isaiah 26 that our prayers can ‘birth wind’ and not salvation. One of the key purposes of prevailing prayer is to ‘give birth’. In the event of results not being achieved, one has to either persevere until the breakthrough occurs or pause for reflection to understand the hindrances and deal with them, because we cannot call our Lord a liar if His promises are not fulfilled in our eyes. This somewhat radical assertion is birthed in the premise that God WILL HEAL THE LAND. Anything less is not acceptable, and neither should it be.

As a background to the revelation, let’s look at Acts 2:37 – 38. Here we see three things that are required for salvation mentioned by Peter, under the anointing of the Holy Spirit. The Scripture says..” When the people heard this, they were CUT TO THE HEART and said to Peter and the other apostles, “Brothers what shall we do?” Peter replied, ” REPENT and be BAPTISED, EVERY ONE OF YOU, in the name of Jesus Christ for the FORGIVENESS of your sins. And you will receive the GIFT OF THE HOLY SPIRIT...”.

Compare this with 2 Chronicles 7:14. The verses prior to 2 Chronicles show that whenever God was abandoned or ignored by His people he warned them that He would send natural disasters to the land that was supposed to sustain them so as to get their attention. He however says that if they repent and turn from their ways and restore their relationship with Him, He would then restore the land, made sick by the sins of the people. Notice the following requirements in that portion of scripture:

1.Humility
2.Prayer.
3.Seeking His Face
4.Turning from wicked ways.

Item 1 is self evident. This is the biggest hindrance to the journey, and often calamities bring us to this point, which does not always have to be so. Our pride keeps us stuck to our old ways and the self satisfaction that comes from not seeing our true state.
Item 2 involves re-establishing broken lines of communication and expressing our desire to reconnect the lines. Most people usually get to this stage frequently.
Item 3 is where the problem lies. How do you seek God’s face? What does it look like. Can we actually see it? We often skip this portion of the journey when He does not appear to us.
Item 4 is the final stumbling block. Turning from our wicked ways is usually a problem if one has not gone through all the previous steps. If you do not pray enough, you cannot begin to seek God and He then cannot ‘convict you of sin’ to the point of desiring to let go completely. It took a coal of fire to make Isaiah’s lips clean. Only the Holy Spirit can convict the world of sin, and hence the need to seek God’s face. Only the Holy Spirit can empower us to repent, walk in holiness, seek forgiveness and give forgiveness and make restitution, and thus transform us.

The people listening to Peter or John the Baptist when asked to repent did not hesitate as they were cut to the heart and filled with the remorse that only the Holy Spirit’s presence can bring. Often we confess sins but do not act on the issues involved. This produces a constant cycle of repentance that does not bear fruit as the accuser reminds us of the past that we have not resolved. Turning from wicked ways is not just stopping sinful actions alone, but making amends, seeking people we have wronged even years ago, when asked to by the Holy Spirit. This is often hard to do by one’s strength. It also means doing things God asked us to do that we have delayed, some of them seeming very trivial. Thus our prayers are then heard and God’s principles spring into action for our benefit and for the benefit of the land. This is why baptism in Jesus name is important. We must be immersed in His name for the Holy Spirit to come and dwell in us and empower us to shake away sin and be like Him. Whatever symbolism we attach to the baptism of water and fire, we see that these are impossible to remove from the Christian experience and we also cannot afford to miss out on either, as the water impresses on us the need to ‘die’ to sin and be cleansed, and the fire is a constant companion and counsellor on our walk towards restoration, deliverance, healing and thus prosperity.

It is our Heavenly father’s desire to heal, but we often tie His hands by our insistence on doing things our way, and so miss out on Kingdom benefits, including favour, authority and dominion. We are called to take territory, dominate and rule. This is not for our own gain, but to further His reign in a world ruled by principalities and powers. We cannot take back the land without being restored to righteousness. The Scripture says ‘..Then you light will break forth like the dawn, and your healing will quickly appear; then your righteousness (or the righteous one) will go before you and the glory of the Lord will be your rearguard..’ (Isaiah 58:8 NIV).
The Lord puts it well in this portion of scripture, by showing that revival is not about fasting and praying, but of visible action as well, to restore righteousness. In this chapter a lot of praying and seeking are noted by God, even repentance, but no turning from the wicked ways.

The promise is clear: ‘..and if you honour it by not GOING YOUR OWN WAY (Our own programs and plans not led by the Spirit but by tradition and experience) and NOT DOING AS YOU PLEASE (Often we do what pleases the crowd in worship and ministry and are afraid to do the unpleasant or uncomfortable) or SPEAKING IDLE WORDS (Prayers, promises and plans that we do not fulfil and later make excuses about), then you will find JOY IN THE LORD (His joy is our strength), and I will cause you to ride on the heights of the land and to FEAST on the inheritance of your father Jacob” (Isaiah 58:13-14 NIV).
Let us continue to pray for a humble heart to be doers of the Word and usher in this great move of God.

John Kagaruki
Wed 4 JAN 2006, 6:00am (repost of an article I wrote 6 years ago)