Shabbat Pesach service reading 2/2

The Intermediate Sabbath—Losing Heart in the Wilderness
English: panorama of a wadi in the negev deser...

Panorama of a wadi in the negev desert, israel (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

When the Israelites were delivered from Egypt, they came through areas of wilderness on their way to the Promised Land.

Even though the Israelites entered into a covenant with God in the wilderness, and came to understand their identity as God’s treasured possession there, sometimes they responded to hardship and barrenness of the wilderness with discouragement.
In the wilderness, they also lost heart, lost hope, longed for Egypt, and grumbled, murmured and complained.
For that reason, all perished but two—Joshua and Caleb—who followed the Lord wholeheartedly and kept the faith.  The bodies of the other Israelites lay scattered across that vast wilderness.

 

Jeshua is Tempted in the Wilderness, by James Tissot

 

Even Jeshua spent time in the wilderness—perhaps the Judean or Negev Desert.  The Ruach HaKodesh (Holy Spirit) led him there to be tempted by the devil, the adversary of God.  (Matthew 4:1–11)
The Negev is not an easy place to live—even with air conditioning!
It is a land of snakes and scorpions; a place of great danger.  And yet, the wilderness is not a punishment, but a necessary stage in our spiritual journey.
It is often God who leads us into our wilderness experiences to humble us, to test us, to refine our faith, and to teach us perseverance and endurance.
If we come out of it alive, we do so “leaning on our beloved” instead of relying on our own strength or limited sufficiency.  (Song of Solomon 8:5)
The wilderness can be our spiritual university where we learn to trust in and depend upon the Lord, and only God knows how long that lesson will take.

 

Holding up the Torah for all to see at Jerusalem’s Western (Wailing) Wall.


For Believers, in the vast space between salvation and the resurrection lies the wilderness, a dry and thirsty land where water is scarce.  That is where we are sanctified.
Because it is so easy to lose heart in the wilderness—our sanctification process—our response to the trials and challenges will determine how well we make it through to the resurrection.
Discouragement during our wilderness is an especially powerful weapon of the enemy because of its enfeebling, demoralizing effect.  Hatred, jealousy, fear, and other negative states may cause us to act foolishly, to fight, or to run.  But at least we act.
Discouragement on the other hand, hurts us more than any of these.  It ultimately saps the energy right out of us, causing us to sit down, pity ourselves and do nothing.
Discouragement causes us to give in to the temptation of the enemy who whispers, “Just give up.”
Hopelessness is a very dangerous state of being.  In fact, Scripture tells us that “hope deferred makes the heart sick.”  (Proverbs 13:12)

 

Jewish men sort through a table full of prayer books at the Western Wall in the Old City of Jerusalem.


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Additional reading:

  1. Israel God’s people
  2. Commemorating the escape from slavery
  3. On the first day for matzah
  4. Around the feast of Unleavened Bread
  5. High Holidays not only for Israel
  6. Suffering produces perseverance
  7. A new exodus and offering of a Lamb
  8. The redemption of man by Christ Jesus
  9. Atonement And Fellowship 6/8
  10. In what way were sacrifices “shadows”?
  11. The meek one riding on an ass
  12. A Messiah to die
  13. In the death of Christ, the son of God, is glorification
  14. Festival of Freedom and persecutions
  15. 14-15 Nisan and Easter
  16. Getting out of the dark corners of this world

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Wadi in Nahal Paran, Negev, Israel.

Wadi in Nahal Paran, Negev, Israel. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

  • The Message of First Importance: “Gosh” (lifeconnectionscounseling.org)
    Some people over the centuries have called this day “Good Friday” remembering when the best human that ever lived on this earth was murdered by humankind.
  • Holy Week, Passover, and Boldly Entering Jerusalem (thewidowsmiteyblog.wordpress.com)
    This time of year can be a bit busy for pastors, and I consider myself to be both Jewish and Unitarian Universalist, so this being both Passover and Holy Week, it’s been very busy.Of course, according to the Gospels, it was both Passover and Holy Week. Well, they weren’t calling it Holy Week back then. I mean, there was no Christianity yet – Jesus was an upstart Jewish leader who was making trouble. He had a bunch of followers, and they were all Jewish, too. But the events of Holy Week chronicle what they were doing around Passover. They were pretty busy, too. And Jesus was also tired.
  • The Lamb of God Who Takes Away the Sin of the World! (drmitchglaser.wordpress.com)
    Behold, I am going to send My messenger, and he will clear the way before Me. And the Lord, whom you seek, will suddenly come to His temple; and the messenger of the covenant, in whom you delight, behold, He is coming,” says the Lord of hosts.This Messenger would purify the priests so they might once again offer sacrifices on behalf of the Jewish people.  As the prophet writes, Then the offering of Judah and Jerusalem will be pleasing to the Lord as in the days of old and as in former years.(Malachi 3:3)
    +

    The Lamb in Exodus 12 is a prophetic portrait of the One who would come and shed His blood for the sins of the world.

    The Lamb of Isaiah 53

    The prophet Isaiah develops the significance of the lamb as an atoning sacrifice.

    There are two key passages in Isaiah 53 which conjoin the idea of the Messiah with the Passover lamb…

  • Out Of The Wilderness-Shoshannah (christinmesite.wordpress.com)
    The wilderness experience is a time when you are hungry and thirsty for more of the Lord, you become dissatisfied with what the traditions and doctrines of men offer in the church, and you set out on a journey to seek the Lord and receive more of Him. You seek the solitude of Him alone.
    If your church and Pastor is hungry for more of the Lord, and He is actively seeking Him and being taught of Him, and preaching as the spirit gives utterance then you are in a good church, but there still should be a time of seeking Him alone.
  • Living in the Wilderness (bradfriedlein.wordpress.com)
    While part of a Rabbinical studies group last year, the Rabbi was talking about the Israelites and their relationship to the wilderness. And how the wilderness has greater meaning – like most things in the Jewish culture, than just being a place where they wondered for 40 years. For the Israelites, the wilderness is this place that symbolizes that time when you know where you’ve come from but you don’t know where you’re going. And it is in that place where you encounter God. It’s that place where God comes to you and reveals Himself to you in new ways.
  • A Wilderness Experience: Loving Prodigals, Release, & Rest
  • In the Wilderness: Words of Encouragement and Admonition
  • When Faith Falters: Relearning Rest
  • Sustenance for the Wilderness Journey
  • A Jew and an Atheist Host a Seder (opineseason.com)
    This past Monday evening, I had the honor of joining a good friend and his wife as they celebrated Pesach with their four year-old son. For those who don’t know, Pesach (Passover) is a holiday which celebrates the liberation of the Jewish people from slavery and their exodus from Egypt. The Seder is the ritual feast that marks the beginning of the seven day holiday.

    For this year’s Seder, my friends invited a living room full of mostly Gentiles (non-Jews) to share in their feast.

 

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