This is – quite literally – the season from passing over to crossing over.
What is the difference between passing over and crossing over?
Passing over is celebrating the anticipation, while still waiting to be liberated. Crossing over is the action of following God only.
I am always amazed how every year, when preparing to honor God by following the command in scripture to celebrate the ‘home dinner party’ we call “The LORD’s Passover,” somehow it seems He joins my personal faith with theirs – and I feel I am living it in real time.
Today, as I wake before dawn, greet God with a smile while still in bed and snuggled warmly next to my husband, I open my Bible and read the song of Miriam and Moses in chapter 15 of the Book of Exodus. I enjoy remembering the verses in the ancient songs and poems of Israel: “Who is like You, ADONAI among the gods?”
It took ADONAI ten plagues against the idols of Egypt, over time, to convince the Hebrew slaves that HE was the exact same God of their forefather Joseph, the favored son of Israel. God, who had preserved them for four hundred years since Joseph’s invitation to Goshen, was coming back for them, to deliver them to safety – if they could trust Him.
The journey from passing over, to crossing over, is the path from huddling home with your loved ones around the dinner table to packing up and becoming a God FOLLOWER – without a home, but also, trusting God to be your provider, your warrior, your leader, your hope.
I love this particular verse of the song in Exodus 15 which speaks of God’s ability to fight against our enemies: “Terror and dread will fall on them, by the greatness of Your arm they become as still as stone, til Your people cross over ADONAI, til the people You purchased cross over.”
Can you take a moment and look to the backdrop of this song, and note a few great passages that you can use as benchmarks of what to watch for during the journey from God’s path of deliverance. He takes them from ‘freedom over death’ to ‘following God while standing still.”
Watch the pattern AFTER the Passover, after the death of the firstborn and consider the morning the Hebrew slaves followed God out into the desert.
I believe God knew that freeing them physically was not enough. We need freedom from the fear of man.
In verse 14:1, ADONAI instructed Moses to tell the Israelites to stop and turn BACK towards Egypt and camp by the sea on purpose to let Pharoah think they were helpless and afraid. God used this to harden Pharoah’s heart, why? Because Pharoah actually thought he was a deity – even after the God of Israel slew all the firstborn of Egypt to ransom His children. Pharoah was humiliated! So, when faced with the people God had redeemed, his heart hardened, not softened. WATCH! This showdown terrified the newly freed captives and they begged to return to Pharoah’s whip – where they used to be oppressed, but at least they knew their fate.
But, hear these words Moses proclaimed in verse 14:13 & 14 and declare them aloud for your own deliverance this Passover:
“Don’t be afraid! Stand still, and see the salvation of ADONAI, which He will perform for you today. You have seen the Egyptians today, but you will never see them again, ever! ADONAI will fight for you, while you hold your peace.”
That was a tall order for a beaten down and generationally oppressed people! What was this ‘invisible’ ADONAI going to do next? Then the angel of God that had been leading the Hebrews away moved to stand between Pharoah’s army and the Hebrew slaves backed against the Sea of Reeds – AND the pillar of cloud that was guiding them also moved behind them! All night long the angel stood guard and the cloud shined light through the night. One side had darkness and the other light. What a terrible night that must have been!
That morning, ADONAI commanded Moses to raise his staff and part the waters for Israel to escape over dry ground! Did you realize that the Egyptian guard had no covering of darkness to sleep that night? While ADONAI gave the Israelites a night to rest and prepare, they also somehow knew that God kept the Egyptians waiting, not allowed to rest nor advance.
While the Egyptians waited up all night waiting and lusting for blood and revenge, the Israelites saw again the strength of God’s COMPASSION for Egypt. Pharaoh had all night – one last time – to consider his situation, acknowledge the God of Israel, and let go of his own arrogance and guilt. This pattern in the Bible is eternal.
Oppressors are not operating completely by free will either, since most users and abusers are truly blind to their sin. I believe, simply put, hardening of the heart is a factor of time that multiplies sin into stone. While the night wore on, God personally did not harden Pharaoh’s heart, God was giving Pharaoh the time and opportunity to see the truth about his condition, but Pharaoh was stubborn.
Time is a factor that directly affects the heart, so pay attention!
Time, both moments of passing over a circumstance, and hours spent crossing over a distance physically are journeys, both critical for the human soul to purposefully change a wrong perception or bad heart attitude. All sinners, even users and abusers, need time to see the truth.
This showdown was God’s final attempt to show His forgiveness to Pharaoh and prove His compassion for the lost – another witness of His character to His chosen people. This showdown that God purposefully put Moses through was Egypt’s turn to rethink their strategy. God never wanted to destroy any of His creation! He only wants freedom from sin for all who can ‘see’ Him as Sovereign over ALL and in ALL and repent. Otherwise we enact the consequences of our own choices, as time marches by forcing the wages of our own sin down to bear on our own lives. Judgement comes from God, but punishment is our own rebellion’s reward. Thank God for His mercy!
For those of us who have been honored eyewitnesses of His Grace in our lives, through the power of the resurrection of Yeshua, we know we are forgiven daily as we walk the journey of faith. We can rejoice during each new Passover season with these same words that lead Moses and Miriam to sing!
So ADONAI saved Israel that day… and Israel saw the great work that ADONAI did over the Egyptians, the people feared ADONAI, and they believed in ADONAI and in His servant Moses.
In closing, I wonder if that last sentence ever gets enough emphasis. It doesn’t say, they feared Moses. It says they feared God, and believed in God and that they believed Moses was merely His servant… not God’s equal. Please, let this be the Passover that we cross over into a place where God alone sits on the throne of our hearts, because no one will ever compare to Him, not even Moses. So rejoice and recline as free men this Passover! Be at peace! Let no fear of man cause you to run away from God’s plan for your life.
Fear only God. He is your strength and your shield forever.