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Remember Abraham

Parallels between Passover and Easter

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Publish Date: 
Fri, 04/30/2010
Remember Abraham
The Passover season is a special time for reflection on the rich spiritual truths this holiday holds for those of biblical faith. For Christians living in Israel, it also can tug in two directions: Do we focus with our Jewish neighbors on the incredible Exodus of the Hebrew children from bondage in ancient Egypt or on the riveting Passion of Christ at that memorable Passover some fifteen centuries later?
 
Both events are deeply impacting, yet followers of Jesus realize they are inter-related and that the truths of the one are reinforced in the other. Deliverance from Pharaoh’s taskmasters becomes freedom from slavery to sin. The blood of lambs sprinkled on doorposts foreshadows the precious blood of the Lamb shed on the Cross.
 
Another interesting parallel is that both events occurred because of God’s covenant promises to Abraham. 
 
In Exodus 2, the Bible says that when the children of Israel cried out to the Almighty because of their bondage in Egypt, “God heard their groaning, and God remembered His covenant with Abraham...” This is in reference to Abraham’s vision in Genesis 15, when God promised to deliver his descendants from bondage in 400 years.
 
In the New Testament as well, we are told in Luke 1:72-73 that the Messiah’s imminent coming was because God desired “to perform the mercy promised to our fathers and to remember His holy covenant, the oath which He swore to our father Abraham…”
 
Paul also explains in Galatians 3 that Christ came and died in order to fulfill God’s promise to Abraham that through him “all the nations of the earth shall be blessed.”
 
So Passover reminds us that Abraham is a towering figure of faith, and the Abrahamic covenant is the foundation stone for both the salvation of the individual believer as well as for the collective redemption of the nation of Israel. It runs like a golden thread throughout Scripture, and so we have good reason to “remember Abraham.”
 
In fact, this was the simple, yet powerful thought invoked by Moses after the sin of the Golden Calf. Hot with anger, God wanted to wipe out the Israelites and start all over with Moses. But Moses pleaded “remember Abraham,” and God relented (Exodus 32:13).
 
We are further told in Romans 11 that even though the Jewish people have been made enemies of the gospel for the Gentiles’ sake, “concerning the election they are beloved for the sake of the fathers” – meaning Abraham and the Patriarchs. How amazing to think it is possible to leave such a rich spiritual legacy, that it can still bestow the favor of God on one’s descendants many generations later!
 
So indeed, we would do well to remember Abraham.
 
WITH THIS IN MIND, it is astonishing to see the tepid response within the wider Christian world to the recent controversy over the traditional tomb of Abraham in Hebron. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has included the Cave of the Patriarchs on the government’s new list of 150 “heritage sites” in the Land that it plans to promote and preserve for posterity. The Palestinians, backed by the Arab/Islamic bloc, have threatened a “religious war” over this simple, benign gesture. The international community has followed with knee-jerk condemnations of the Israeli move, with the Obama administration robotically calling it “provocative and unhelpful.” And the Christian establishment could seem to care less – or if they do it is to side with Muslim bigotry.
 
The Jewish connection to this place is immemorial. The Bible records that this burial cave was the first plot of land purchased by Abraham in the land promised to him by God. A millennia-long Jewish tradition holds that he rests there along with Isaac, Jacob, and the biblical matriarchs Sarah, Rebecca and Leah. It is the second holiest site in Judaism, after the Temple Mount. It should go without saying that Christians ought to honor the place as well.
 
Netanyahu has further assured that no real change will be made in the status quo at the site. Funds are being earmarked to renovate both the synagogue and the Ibrahimi mosque which share this revered site, as well as to install restrooms and build a roof over an outdoor prayer area. 
 
There is nothing objectionable in this decision and everything right with it – except for those who want to erase the Jewish connection to the land.
 
This article was first published in April 2010 issue of The Jerusalem Post Christian Edition; www.jpost.com/ce
 

 

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