For the week of: April 3, 1999 / 17 Nisan 5759
Torah: Shemot / Exodus 33:12-34:26 and Bemidbar / Numbers 28:16-25
Haftarah: Ezekiel 36:37-37:14
The Great Deliverance
This is what the Sovereign LORD says: Once again I will yield to the plea of the house of Israel (Ezekiel 36:37).
Much of traditional Judaism took form in the few centuries prior to and just following the destruction of the second temple. The celebrations associated with Pesach (Passover) are no exception. Pesach's original purpose was to remind us of our deliverance from slavery under the Egyptians. Eventually the continual reminders of ancient deliverance provided the impetus to look forward to a future day of even greater liberation.
Time and time again throughout the history of Israel, the people have faced desperate situations. And time and time again God delivered them.
Our Haftarah portion looks forward to what may be the greatest deliverance of all. At first glance it may appear to be referring to the literal resurrection of the dead, but a careful reading suggests something else. Following Ezekiel's vision of the bones, God interprets the vision:
The promise of opening the graves is in response to the people's comment on their condition. They weren't actually dead. They were dead-like. And yet God promised that one day, he would do three things.
First, "I am going to open your graves and bring you up from them" (37:13). God would bring about a total reverse of their condition. They would have a resurrection-like experience. The nation was being physically devastated. God was saying that he would reconstitute the nation.
Second, "I will put my Spirit in you and you will live (37:14). Their reestablishment as a nation would not just have physical implications but would include a great spiritual awakening.
Third, "I will settle you in your own land" (37:14). The people would experience a security in their land like they have never known.
There is a time of great awakening and revival for the Jewish people. What Yeshua has accomplished for Israel will finally be realized. The great deliverance from Egypt will be overshadowed by this greater deliverance. God himself will see to it.
God will accomplish this, but notice what precipitates his action:
Israel will again as in days of old come to a place of desperation and will call upon God, and he will answer. Why it is so difficult to come to that place where we acknowledge our need is hard to understand. But that is where we are going. The sooner we get there the better.
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