6. The Shedding of Blood

          The night was pitch dark, as if some celestial hand had covered even the brightest star so that not a glimmer of light penetrated to the earth.  It was a night of deep darkness causing the spiritual battle to cease and the heavenly armies to glance up into the sky, expecting a mightier Presence to take a personal hand in things. 

And he would.

The battle had been difficult from the beginning for the Evil One was not one to be trifled with.  He had enthroned himself in the kingdoms of the Nile, receiving his worship and enjoying absolute power upon the earth.

Gabriel looked over to where Lucifer stood, tall as a ziggurat, dangerous and cold as a winter storm upon the sea.  His mighty sword was stained with the holy blood of his former brothers and shone with a pale dark light.  But his weapon of choice was a great bow, for at heart he was an archer, a bowman who would stand off from the battle and wreck his destruction upon his enemies from afar.

The mighty bow had its own spiritual power for it had been carved from a branch of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil that had grown at the center of the Garden of Eden.  It was a powerful weapon and he was an archer of consummate skill but he saved this weapon of choice for the sons of men that served Adonai Elohim.  It had no spiritual effect upon the angels for they had never eaten from that forbidden tree but, just like the thrust of a sword, the mighty bow and its fiery arrows could certainly do them in.

His fiery arrows would penetrate deep into the hearts and minds of God’s people and spread poison for months and years to come.  It took all the skill and experience of the holy warriors to protect the people and, at the same time, escape the destruction that his sword and bow could bring upon them.

He was a formidable foe.

His beauty was still dazzling in appearance but it brought dread to the heart instead of joy and song and worship. Gabriel remembered another Lucifer, one who had taught his younger brother the wonders of sound and music and the combinations that could be skillfully created. He was a musician of consummate skill. 

But the evil had been a cancer to his soul and had made his beauty a thing of craven self-indulgence. His body was a living instrument of music meant for the worship of Almighty God but now it merely reflected his own self absorption and the sound of it was a devastation to the senses, a ceaseless screeching howl of discordant notes that pretended to call itself music.

He was a mighty warrior all the same.

He had never once bested him in all the mock battles they had ever fought or in the fierce clashes of these past few years on earth.  His orders were not to engage the Evil One.  Someone was expected to face him at the fulfillment of the ages.  A mighty warrior would come and engage him in battle and crush him utterly, the evil head beneath his feet.  And in the battle, the Holy Warrior would be wounded and his own blood would flow — or so the ancient prophecy had said.

He was still breathing heavily from the exertions of battle.  Blood flowed freely from a wound in his side.  He kept his eye on Lucifer, his dim outline barely visible in the falling darkness.  Lucifer had held back from the battle, only darting in for a strategic blow or to hold a front that was weakening.  He was keeping his eye on the real battle on the earth below and there he used all of his cunning and deception to affect the outcome of the celestial struggle he was determined to win. The battle had ceased for now but the last weeks had been one continual attack and counterattack – a spiritual mirror of the real battle between Mosheh and Pharaoh upon the banks of the Nile.

Lucifer had turned the Semitic band of nomads that had come to Egypt during the Great Famine into pitiful slaves.  Since God was showing interest in these people, the Evil One would as well.  He set about enslaving the Isra´elites not only in the flesh but in the spiritual realm, teaching them the deception of Egypt’s gods.

That was the real issue. 

Gabriel looked out upon the battlefield, seeing nothing but darkness.  He stretched his wings to their full breadth to ease the tension of battle, his sword still unsheathed and firmly in hand.  The darkness had settled upon them in the midst of the fighting and no one dared to move.  It was a moment of supreme wonder or terrible dread, depending on which side of the fight you stood. The Almighty had unleashed his judgment and even the light had fled the presence of this Messenger of Death.

 

 

*****

Lucifer heard the command, and, with bitterness and mounting lust, he obeyed.  With bitterness, because in the very depths of his soul he hated to be commanded and know that he had to obey.  With mounting lust, because he truly delighted in this display of his power that even the Almighty had to acknowledge was his.  He had carved out his empire.  He had his authority upon the earth.  He had won his battle at the very beginning when it mattered most, in the hearts of the innocent. 

The command had been clear – the firstborn of each family must die but do not cross the doorways marked with blood.  It was unusual but Lucifer had no time to think, only obey – and he did.

 

 

*****

Mosheh was tired.  In truth, he was tired unto death.  His beard was matted with sweat, hiding the haggard look on his face.  But his eyes, haunted and red from lack of sleep, did not lie.  He knew that death was at the door.

The preparations had been made in haste.  They were packed and ready to go.  The lamb had been eaten, unleavened bread had been baked, the family gathered indoors.  No one but a fool would venture out into the streets this night.

But this was a nation of fools, lead by an arrogant fool of a man.  He ground his teeth together.  He had tried to warn them.  Yahweh, the God of Desert and Fire, the God of Sinai, had tried to warn them but they would not listen.

Now it had come down to this – the night that death would visit or pass over and no one was exempt – not even them.  The only protection from death was in the blood of the lamb sprinkled on their door posts.

What did it all mean?  Mosheh did not know.  All he knew for sure was that obedience was required – obedience and faith that they would be safe.

A slow, drawn-out wail pierced the dark of night, rising with intensity as death and grief touched a family nearby.  They were in the Egyptian quarter where the leaders, the supervisors, the collaborators lived, some with their Egyptian wives and Egyptian gods.  They, too, had been warned.  Some had listened, some had not.

Gershom squirmed in Mosheh’ lap, burying his head in the folds of his robe in an effort to block out the wails of grief.  Mosheh hugged him tighter and began to sing softly, hesitantly in his deep gruff voice, a song born in the desert at the foot of the holy mountain where it had all begun.  It was a song for sheep; full of reassuring nonsense that told them he was there, watching over them, protecting them.  His song became a prayer as he cried out in his heart to the God of the Holy Mountain and the Unquenchable Fire to watch over them this night.

He could feel the presence coming closer, like the massive presence of the great pyramids they had built.  A solid, implacable, unthinking presence that sucked the breath of life from everything it touched, leaving them gasping like beached fish to die a slow and horrible death. 

There was no point in arguing.  One could rant and rave and weep and beg but to no avail.  Death knew no mercy.  It is the one sure and constant companion through life who is ignored until it demands attention.  It was coming every moment closer.  The dark presence swirled and rolled through the streets, seeping under every door, filling every corner so that there was no escape.  Except for the blood.

Mosheh looked over at Aaron sitting quietly in the corner surrounded by cousins and friends and children with no other place to go.  Aaron looked up briefly then quickly looked away again.  But Mosheh had seen the fear in his eyes.  Miryam was there as well, trying to keep the children quiet.  Mosheh wished that he had left his family behind at the Holy Mountain but Zippo’rah was here beside him while Gershom, his firstborn, was in his lap.

As if he could protect them.  The only protection that night was in the blood.

His eye caught movement near the door and he stared into the darkness, his whole body straining, tense with expectation but after a moment he decided that it was nothing.  Then he saw it again.  It was the blood dripping from the mantle above the door, the blood from the lamb they had killed and eaten that night in accordance with the command of God.

The blood would save them.  Already he could feel peace flood through him as if the presence of death had already passed over them.  He waited a moment longer until he was sure.  Then he began to smile and speak to the children.

“Sleep now.  Go to sleep.  You, too, Gershom.”  His rough hands tucked one in and touched another, ministering the peace that flowed through him.  “It’s all right.  It’s all over now.  Go to sleep.”  His reassurances calmed even the adults and they all relaxed, shifting into more comfortable positions in the weak, flickering light of the fire. 

They would need their rest.  Tomorrow, early in the morning, the ram horns would be blown and they would start their first day of freedom.  Freedom to worship Yahweh in a new land as free men, away from Egypt and the slavery of her gods.

“Freedom.”  The word was a delicious sound on his lips and he savored its resonance. 

Others, hearing him, nodded sleepily with smiles on their faces.  Freedom because of the blood of the lamb.  They would never forget what Yahweh Elohim had done for them this night.

 

 

*****

“Lucifer was always a superb strategist.”  Michael said.

“Do you remember how he studied those first two in the garden?” Gabriel said.

“I didn’t think anything of it at the time.  We were so busy dealing with the rebellion in heaven and then he just disappeared.”

“I found him in the garden talking to the woman but the Holy Presence would not let me interfere.  The Majesty wanted those first two to make their own decision.”

“Just like us.”  Michael said, nodding his head.  “There is no other way to learn the truth.”

The two of them hovered over the land of Goshen, their mighty wings beating the air slowly and majestically.

“Well, he got what he wanted.”  Gabriel said.  “He won the keys to Death and Hell and that gives him an empire of sorts.”

“It’s a poor trade if you ask me.”  Michael began to stir.  “I’m going to check on the preparations for the march.  It’s almost dawn.” 

Micahel pointed and Gabriel turned to look at the light that began to streak across the sky.  Then Michael flew off but Gabriel still had Lucifer on his mind.  Yes, he had been defeated by his own power, using the very authority that he had craved and demanded, he became the instrument of his own destruction.  Of course he hated to obey.  No doubt he was aware that he was being used, but at least his authority was recognized.  Death belonged to him and even the Almighty was bound by that ancient code.  It didn’t matter that his authority was something that Adonai Elohim neither wanted nor would tolerate for long.  In the meantime, like today, there was always a touch of poetic justice every once in a while to keep hope alive.

Gabriel’s eyes blazed brightly for a moment as he remembered what God had done.  He began to circle the land of Goshen, watching the people stir and assemble, getting ready for the long march ahead.

         It had started when Mosheh had returned to Egypt.  In fact, it had started even before that.  It had begun in Pharaoh’s own palace.  Gabriel loved the irony of how the mighty Lucifer had been beaten.

         Within Pharaoh’s own household, the Holy Presence cultivated the compassion of a woman who wanted nothing more than to be a mother to a needy child.  This daughter of Pharaoh was destined to protect and care for the nemesis of the greatest monarch on earth.

Pharaoh could sense the danger in the growing numbers of Jewish boys who could grow up to become either slaves or warriors.  They lived in Goshen, in the bosom of Egypt, a growing threat if a leader appeared to give them courage and direction.  True to his nature he began to have the male child of each Jewish family murdered. 

Those innocents saw the face of God.

But in his own household Pharaoh was blind to the danger.  Mosheh grew with the sustenance of Pharaoh’s own food.  He was trained by his own tutors.  He was prepared for leadership by his own example.

The enemy would call it treachery.  But who was the real betrayer?  It was treachery that took their freedom from them in the first place.  They should never have been slaves.  They had come originally as guests to this country.  If there were no sin in Egypt, there would be no judgment.  They had betrayed Joseph’s family and made them slaves.  They had been saved from the Great Famine many years ago by the God of Avraham, Yitz´chak and Ya´acov.[7]  But they had spurned that blessing and, within a couple of generations, had turned it into evil instead. 

Gabriel could see streaks of gold and yellow and bronze as the angelic warriors worked to keep the people safe and to watch over the preparations.  There was no interference from the demonic forces.  They had been routed and were in full retreat.  Their human hosts were in mourning and in shock.  It would not last long.

         Even so, there had still been an opportunity to repent.  Pharaoh was shown clearly the power of the God of Mosheh in the plagues, but it was only out of fear that he would give in.  And then, with the encouragement of the Evil One, he would hardened his heart again and again until finally Yahweh would not let him repent and he, himself, hardened Pharaoh’s heart and finally brought judgment upon the tormentor of his people.  The Almighty God would not be denied.

         Nine times, the Lord had shown his power over the gods of Egypt.  Nine times Gabriel fought those demonic forces and had overcome.  Nine times God had attempted to break the evil bond between Lucifer and his earthly host and nine times he was denied.  The tenth time would be the last, the final act in this redemptive story, the last word that El Shaddai, the Almighty God, would speak on the matter. 

         The darkness that had fallen upon the earth as the ninth plague was but a twilight to this present darkness that had enveloped the celestial armies during the passing over.  It was a deep spiritual darkness that had invaded the land, skirting the ground, swirling and rolling through the streets seeking out the lives that would be required.  Lucifer had done the work himself.  It was almost over and the dawn was now at hand.

         In giving Lucifer the command to act, God was using Lucifer’s own evil power to destroy him and win the battle.  Did Lucifer understand the irony of it, or did his own lusts keep him from the truth?  Was he so blind to the ways of God or to the nature of his human partners, or did he simply not understand grief?  There was a part to the nature of man, a spark of the divine, a reflection of the nature of God, that Lucifer paid little heed to.

One day it would be his undoing.

But today, this night, the finger of God had touched Pharaoh’s heart and required of him the life of his firstborn son.  That grief, a father for his son, would break the bond between Pharaoh and the Evil One long enough for the children of Isra´el to leave Egypt.

         Elohim Sabaoth, the Lord of Hosts, himself, would come down to direct the final battle on the shores of the Great Sea. 

 

 

*****

 

            Then Yahweh said to Moses, “One disaster more I shall bring on Pharaoh and on Egypt, just one.  After this he will let you go from here.  Indeed, he will drive you out!    Instruct the people that every man is to ask his neighbor, every woman hers, for silver ornaments and gold.”

           

And Yahweh gave the people prestige in the eyes of the Egyptians.

 

Benjamin enjoyed the back and forth, give and take, approach to the ancient story. His grandfather had his own way of telling the story and, with a glance or a hint, he could communicate a new direction or elicit a more difficult question from Benjamin.

 Always the teacher, his grandfather.

At times Benjamin would make it interesting by trying to catch his grandfather off guard, but that was unlikely for the great Rabbi had not wasted his years of study.  It was just these past few days of new discussions about the Maschiach, discussions that promised to reinterpret the entire history of his people, that gave Benjamin a new direction for his questions.  But that was a topic best left for another time when they could talk in private.

         “The children of Isra´el must have been a great multitude of people already, with their wives and children, their cattle and sheep,” Benjamin said, his eyes sparkling.  “What did they need of silver and gold in the desert?  How did they hope to carry all this plunder to the Promised Land much less survive the desert themselves?” 

 

 

*****

         Gamaliel looked over at Benjamin. So that’s how it’s going to be, is it?  In truth Gamaliel looked forward to the sparring of questions and answers, it kept him young. 

But not for long. 

The thought demanded attention but Gamaliel dismissed it with impatience.  He smiled at Benjamin and answered him.

“It was not for gold and silver that Isra´el had need, but for freedom to be a nation under God in their own land.  God, Himself, was their provider for forty years in the wilderness, bringing bread from heaven and meat upon the wings of the morning.”[10] He paused. “It was not the gold and silver that mattered but the plundering.  God’s people would not flee from Pharaoh like thieves but would march out in victory as the armies of the Lord of Hosts.”

         “But it was this same silver and gold,” Benjamin said, “that became a golden calf by Aaron’s hand and was worshiped by the people while Mosheh was on the Mountain of God.  Why did God provide the means for their own destruction?”

         Gamaliel’s hand stroked his beard in thought as he answered. “When a gift is used for evil purpose, one cannot fault the giver.”

         Benjamin looked satisfied so Gamaliel continued the story.

 

            Moses said to Pharaoh, “This is Yahweh’s message, ‘Toward midnight I shall pass through Egypt.  All the first-born in the land of Egypt shall die: from the first-born of Pharaoh, heir to his throne, to the first-born of the maidservant at the mill, and all the first-born of the cattle.  And throughout the land of Egypt there shall be such a wailing as never was heard before, nor will be again.

 

         The little ones shuddered at this part of the story.  Their nation had been birthed by the handmaiden of suffering and death.  It was their destiny, and now the nation would die the same way.  Gamaliel ground his teeth but remained silent.  This was not the time to tell his family what was about to happen to their home and their nation.

 

         ‘But against the sons of Israel, against man or beast, never a dog shall bark, so that you may know that Yahweh discriminates between Egypt and Israel.  Then all these courtiers of yours will come down to me and bow low before me and say:  Go away, you and all the people who follow you!  After this, I shall go.”

 

         “Grandfather, the Rabbis tell us that it was the Angel of Death that passed over Egypt and took the lives of the firstborn,” Benjamin said, “but the Torah speaks of a visitation by God himself.  What do you make of it?”

         Gamaliel twirled his fingers in his beard.  This was a new line of questioning.  “The Angel of Death, cursed be his name, is the holder of the keys of Death and Hades but even he must do the bidding of the Almighty.”  He paused, frowning in thought.   “This act of judgment always makes us a little uncomfortable but Egypt’s rebellion made God’s punishment necessary.”

         “And why were the children of Isra´el exempt from the judgment?” Benjamin said.  “Were they not sinners in rebellion against the Holy God just as well?”

What was this?  Benjamin was putting the people of Isra´el on the same level as the heathen nations and suggesting that they deserved the same fate.

Benjamin continued.  “If they did not also deserve death, why did they have to protect themselves with the blood of the Passover lamb?”

         Gamaliel grumbled something under his breath, but then, with a smile, he answered with a question of his own. 

“You are correct in saying that they, too, were under the sentence of death, but can you tell me, my young scholar, what their sin was?”

         With that question, the entire room became quiet and every head turned to look at Benjamin.

 

 

*****

         Benjamin could not speak.  With that question Gamaliel had placed his blessing upon him as the next spiritual head of the family.  Only the spiritual head of the family could answer questions and teach the Torah during Passover.  But that wasn’t what he was most concerned about.  Was his grandfather alright?

Benjamin swallowed with some difficulty as his grandfather waited for his reply.  It was not the time for questions about his grandfather’s health.  The story must go on.

         Benjamin reminded himself of the question and then he answered.

“We know that covenant breaking was the cardinal sin of the people of Isra´el all through her history.  For she had been chosen to live in fellowship with God, a light and a blessing to the nations.  But she continually ran after other gods.”

He paused to gather his thoughts.  “But the Passover happened before the Mosaic Covenant was enacted in the desert.  In Egypt they were under the Avrahamic Covenant, the covenant of promise.

He glanced at Gamaliel to see his reaction.  This was not the kind of explanation one usually got from the Rabbis.  What was his grandfather doing?  He knew that Benjamin was a follower of Yeshua, the Maschiach.  How was he supposed to answer these questions?

 

 

*****

      Gamaliel made no indication.  He simply waited, neither forbidding nor giving his blessing.  Benjamin would have to decide for himself.  He would be the next spiritual leader of this family.

         He looked around the room.  Ruth, Onkelos, Jubal, Benjamin’s cousins and his nephews, all gazed at Benjamin, not understanding the look in his eyes or the real question that Benjamin would answer in the next few minutes.

         Was his commitment to his new faith worth risking the spiritual well-being of his family?  God would not be mocked.  The decision was crucial.  Benjamin was now a man with responsibility, a man with the burden of leadership for those he loved.

Would that change his faith in this new Maschiach of his?  Would he put their eternal souls at risk for his new found faith in the face of a God who requires even the firstborn of his own people in judgment? Especially in the face of the real possibility of persecution and, perhaps, even death, at the hands of his own people?

Gamaliel realized suddenly that he had been holding his breath.

         Benjamin looked up at his grandfather. “The answer lies in the book of Beginnings,” he said, “where all men are sinners, Jews and Gentiles alike.”

         “Jews and Gentiles alike?”  A number of voices repeated his words.

He went on strongly, overriding the murmured objections.  “We stand before our Maker naked in our sin like all other men, for Mosheh reminded the people many times on their journey to the Promised Land that they had not been chosen because they were greater, or more powerful than other nations.[15] They were chosen because they were weak and despised and God would show his glory through them, despite them.”

         Gamaliel nodded his head.  He may not agree with Benjamin but he loved him for his integrity.  Still, it was dangerous and he looked around the room at the others seated there.  If he took this much further, any one of them could betray them to the authorities.

With a start he realized that he, himself, was one of the authorities. 

What was the world coming to? 

 

 

*****

The others in the room looked at each other, muttering questions, but Benjamin had eyes only for Gamaliel, anticipating the next question.

         “Why then were these great Jewish sinners passed over in the judgment of the Angel of Death and the Egyptians were not?” 

Benjamin could see the look in his grandfather’s eye but he answered quickly.  The decision he had made was the right one and he would not turn back.

“Because of the blood of the lamb,” he said.

       Benjamin continued to relate the story in place of his grandfather, and the whole family acknowledged it, accepting it as fitting and proper.

 

 

*****

         Gabriel thrilled to the spiritual timbre in Benjamin’s voice, recognizing it for what it was, the voice of the Holy Presence within Benjamin echoing the ancient words as if for the first time.

 

            “Yahweh said to Mosheh and Aaron in the land of Egypt, “This month is to be the first of all the others for you, the first month of your year.   Speak to the whole community ofIsra´el and say, ‘On the tenth day of this month each man must take an animal from the flock, one for each family: one animal for each household. . . It must be an animal without blemish, a male one year old.”[16]

 

         A lamb without blemish, a man without sin, God himself in the flesh.  Gabriel always trembled a bit at the thought.

 

   “You may take if from either sheep or goats.  You must keep it till the fourteenth day of the month when the whole assembly of the community of Isra´el shall slaughter it between the two evenings.”

 

         Slaughtered upon the refuse heap of the holy city.  Gabriel’s heart cringed at the memory of it, and the people were there to see it, even if they didn’t understand it at the time.

 

            “Some of the blood must then be taken and put on the two door posts and the lintel of the houses where it is eaten.”

        

         His holy blood shed.  Gabriel almost moaned.  Could no one understand the enormity of it?    He remembered how he and his brothers had trembled and wept as every drop of blood was sprinkled upon the dust of this creation he had made.  What wondrous love is this?  No wonder the demonic forces could not stand even the mention of the cross or the blood of the Christ.

 

   “That night, the flesh is to be eaten, roasted over the fire; it must be eaten with unleavened bread and bitter herbs.  You shall eat it like this: with a girdle around your waist, sandals on your feet, a staff in your hand.  You shall eat it hastily: it is a Passover in honor of Yahweh.”

 

         And they were ready. Gabriel remembered. Ready and anxious to leave.  Most of them unaware of the trials the desert wilderness would hold for them both spiritually and physically.  More than a million people were anxious to march into a desert that nomadic tribes of a hundred had difficulty surviving.  Gabriel was amazed at the blindness and, yes, the faith of these people.

 

   “That night, I will go through the land of Egypt and strike down all the first-born in the land of Egypt, man and beast alike, and I shall deal out punishment to all the gods of Egypt, I am Yahweh!”

 

         Gabriel had been part of that punishment of the gods of Egypt and he remembered it well.  It had been a glorious battle, even though the demonic forces had beaten back each attack by the holy warriors of the Lord of Hosts.  It had remained undecided until that last night, when great spiritual darkness had fallen and Adonai Elohim, himself, had come down and dealt the final blow to the gods of Egypt.

 

   “The blood shall serve to mark the houses that you live in.  When I see the blood I will pass over you and you shall escape the destroying plague when I strike the land of Egypt.”

 

         Though it was difficult for further generations to appreciate the danger of that night, the children of Isra´el lived through that experience with a great deal of dread mixed with expectation.  They had seen the wonderful signs of God’s power in the nine plagues that destroyed the cattle, fields, economy, and gods, of the mightiest nation on the earth.  Yet the land of Goshen was untouched.

         The night of the passing over was a night that could not be forgotten.  It was lodged securely in the collective consciousness of the people.  The wails of anguish that followed the path of the Destroyer throughout the land of Egypt made certain that Isra´el knew that she was saved only by the mercy of God through the blood of the lamb.

 

 

*****

         “A lamb without blemish,” Benjamin said, “slaughtered in front of the whole assembly of Isra´el, the blood put on the door posts and lintel of the houses.  The blood marking the houses that they lived in so that they would escape the destroying plague of death.”

         “What does all this tell us about the nature and character of God?” The question came from Onkelos.  “Why does he accept the young of the flock, a lamb, as sufficient payment for the lives of the firstborn of Isra´el?” 

Onkelos was like a son to Gamaliel and he was welcome to join the discussion at any time, though he usually remained silent.  Why this question, though?  What was Onkelos thinking?  Did he now doubt the validity of the sacrifices?  Gamaliel remembered the look in his friend’s eyes when they had talked about the destruction of Yerushalayim.  There was a mystery here.

In any event, he wanted the discussion to be as open as possible.  Soon he would begin to ask his own questions, the hard questions, the questions that made the differences between them clear, so that the choice could be made.

         Benjamin gave the traditional answer first.

“Some of the Rabbis tell us that it was because God had chosen his people.  It was not the sacrifice that was important but who was giving it.  Others point out that it was the obedience of the heart of the people that made the sacrifice acceptable to the Lord of Hosts.”  Benjamin paused. “Both of these points of view are correct but they are not enough.” 

         “But the Law requires the shedding of blood for the forgiveness of sins,” Gamaliel said.

         “The question is,” Benjamin said, “whose blood must be shed?”  Up to this point, Benjamin’s answers had been fresh and interesting but not controversial.  Sooner or later he would declare himself and Gamaliel trembled at the thought.

         “Does it not seem shallow to suppose that the shedding of the blood of innocent lambs and goats is an easy solution to dealing with the sin and rebellion in our own hearts?”  Benjamin voice rose as he neared the key issue in the discussion.

“Has that not always been the problem with our people, relying on the form and tradition of the sacrifices to placate an angry God and maintain his blessing?”  The look in his eyes was a challenge to everyone in the room. “Is that the kind of God we serve?”

He answered his own question.

“No, Yahweh, himself, spoke through the prophet Samuel to King Saul and said ‘obedience is better than sacrifices.’ And David has said, ‘sacrifices give you no pleasure, my sacrifice is this broken spirit.’”

         Gamaliel was in total agreement with his grandson, and he quoted his own portion of the scriptures. “This is what Yahweh asks of you, only this, to act justly, to love tenderly, and to walk humbly with your God.”   Gamaliel shifted his robe to a more comfortable place.  “Yes, it is true, my son.  One cannot understand the ways of God without understanding first of all the character of God.”  Once again heads nodded around the room.  So far so good.

         Then Gamaliel went on. “So, if the blood of sheep and goats is not enough, then why has God commanded his people to sacrifice such animals as a way of atoning for their sin?”

         Benjamin for the first time looked around at the entire family and took a cup of wine in his hand and held it up and spoke with quiet authority.

“Just as this fruit of the vine represents for us the blood of the Passover sacrifice that was placed on the door posts of each Isra´elite home, the blood of the sacrifice is, itself, a symbol of something far more ancient that has only recently come to pass.”  He waited.

         “The blood of the Lamb of God, the Maschiach who is to come,” Gamaliel finally said.

         “The Maschiach who has already come,” Benjamin said.

Everyone in the room was silent for a moment at the boldness of Benjamin’s faith, though not all of them understood what he meant.  Gamaliel looked around carefully at each one.  After a moment, murmured questions and confused answers began to chase each other around the room.

“Who is he talking about?”

“Has the Maschiach come already?”

Only Onkelos did not seem surprised – he, and Jubal.  Jubal’s eyes were ablaze but he did not say a word.  There was danger in that young man.  Gamaliel´s hands trembled a little as he motioned the room to silence once again.

 

*****


The Temptations of the Cross   by Bert A. Amsing
Copyright © 2012 by vanKregten Publishers.  All rights reserved.
http://www.desertwarrior.net    info@desertwarrior.net
Footnotes and references included in original manuscript.

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The Desert Warrior

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