(Originally published Apr 16, 2008)
Passover reminds those of us who are children of Israel that YHVH God – the Creator of the Universe and the Redeemer of His creation – brought us out of bondage in Egypt into freedom to serve and worship Him, the one true God. This historic event, which resonates down through the generations until today and on into the future (Ezek 45: 21-24), stamped upon the Jewish people the reality of being the Chosen People, and Egypt and all the nations knew, by means of the plagues upon Egypt and the Egyptians, and by the deliverance of the Israelis from the rule of Pharoah, that YHVH is God, and the God of gods. (Ex 7:5; 9:14, 16, 27; 10:2; 12:12; 14:18, 31; 15:14-18; Josh 2: 8-11)
Conversion is defined by Webster’s On-line Dictionary in these ways which are relevant to this brief study:
1. An event that results in a transformation.
4. A spiritual enlightenment causing a person to lead a new life.
7. Act of exchanging one type of money or security for another.
8. The act of changing from one use or function or purpose to another.
Conversion: the turning of a sinner to God (Acts 15:3). In a general sense the heathen are said to be “converted” when they abandon heathenism and embrace the Christian faith; and in a more special sense men are converted when, by the influence of divine grace in their souls, their whole life is changed, old things pass away, and all things become new (Acts 26:18). Thus we speak of the conversion of the Philippian jailer (16:19-34), of Paul (9:1-22), of the Ethiopian treasurer (8:26-40), of Cornelius (10), of Lydia (16:13-15), and others.
Passover was an event in the life of the Israeli people which resulted in a [potential] transformation: we were no longer slaves to earthly rulers, but redeemed by the blood of the slaughtered lambs or goats to be free to serve and worship the Creator of the Heavens and the Earth!
YHVH is the name of the God of Abraham, of Isaac, and of Jacob. Jacob, as we all know too well, has a rather mixed reputation. Although he appreciated the spiritual realities which the God of his fathers promised, yet he sought them in a way not acceptable to God: Jacob sought them in his own way, and not by knowledge and faith in the righteousness of God. (Rom 10:1-4) Jacob had to come to the end of himself as Jacob through the sovereign wisdom and providences of God’s covenantal grace and mercies before he was desperate enough to cling to the Man he wrestled with for His blessing: you are no longer Jacob, but your name is Israel, a new man, with a new and changed perspective on all things (Gen 28:20-22; 32:22-30; 35:9-15; 46:1-4; 47:9-10; 49:1, 28-30)
Jacob was converted from being a God-fearing opportunist who was very clever and competent to succeed in the affairs of this world (while at the same time making his name a stink to those too closely affected by him) to becoming a prince with God who recognized his complete dependence upon Him, and by whose grace alone He could obtain the great and precious promises and attain the character suitable for the Holy One of Israel. By faith, Jacob blessed Pharoah; by faith, Jacob blessed his sons concerning the latter days; by faith, Jacob blessed Joseph’s two sons, and worshipped the God who had made him lame. Jacob had become spiritually enlightened, which radically changed and affected his “religion”: an inward transformation of spiritual character and motivations, affecting the way he lived based upon what he professed to believe.
All who have been born-again have exchanged their currency of value from their good works, or racial or national heritage, or material or intellectual riches as an indication of blessedness. In place of any of these, we conduct ourselves throughout the time of our sojourn in fear [of God], knowing that we were not redeemed with corruptible things … from our aimless conduct that we inherited from our fathers, but with the precious blood of Messiah, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot! (1Pt 1:17-19; Peter being, of course, the apostle to the Jews) We no longer need to ‘prove ourselves’ to hope to ‘earn’ our way into the world to come, but we by faith receive the free gift of God’s grace and love through the sacrifice of His Son to give us the inheritance of being called the children of God. God has become our Father, and it is His approval that we desire. (Rom 2:17-29; 4:13-25; Mt 19:16-30)
Both Jews and Gentiles have followed idols and become idolaters, which is false religion in whatever guise. (James 2:18-20; Jer 2:4-9; 16:17-20; Is 41:21-24; 1Thes 1:6-10) Being born-again from above by the Holy Spirit, we no longer serve our many idols which we have made for ourselves – including our own stubbornness and covetousness – and which both the Prophets and the Apostles railed against. Now we serve the living and true God to glorify Him and His Son, our Lord Yeshua the Messiah/Jesus Christ. We subject the members of our body, and, with the help and power of the indwelling Spirit of Messiah, we now serve righteousness rather than sin; we sanctify ourselves rather than adding more guilt and shame upon ourselves as we once did in our sinful lives apart from repentance and faith in God’s good news/gospel to forgive us our sins and to take away all our ungodly conduct of living. (Is 1:9-17) As He has done for us as individuals in Messiah, so, too, will God do for His full remnant nation of Israel when Yeshua returns to save His people. (Rom 11:25-27)
“Thus says YHVH: ‘Let not the wise glory in his/her wisdom; let not the mighty glory in his/her might; nor let the rich glory in his/her riches. But let the person who glories glory in this: that he/she understands and knows Me, that I am YHVH, exercising lovingkindness, judgment, and righteousness in the Earth; for in these I delight’, says YHVH.” “Behold, the days are coming,” says YHVH, “that I will punish all the circumcised with the uncircumcised . . . .for all the nations are uncircumcised, and all the House of Israel are uncircumcised in the heart.” (Jer 9:23-26 Eng; 1Cor 1:18-31)
Our whole purpose in life has been transformed to seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness, rather than our own selfish personal and/or national interests based upon our own understanding. Rather than trusting in our ‘relative’ goodness or good intentions, or even chosenness/election – whether as Jews or as believers in Yeshua — we trust the finished work of the Lord Jesus on the cross in His death for our sins and sinfulness, and in Him who raises the dead to life to fulfill all His eternal counsels! Praise the LORD! God has become our Father through our believing in and loving His beloved Son. Is this not a major overhaul!? A genuine conversion of heart and soul and mind and thoughts and intentions has taken place and is continuing on to fullness which has brought us to love Jesus Christ/Yeshua Messiah, rather than despise and reject Him! Not only that, we groan within ourselves to be manifested in His likeness, and for the resurrection which will eventually accomplish it! We must all be changed – converted – whether Jew or Gentile. It is not an issue of the flesh – of what nation or race I belong to; that has not changed, nor does it, in this world. But yet, the world is crucified to me and I am crucified to the world! Our boast is to be in the cross of the Lord Jesus Christ. (Gal 6: 14; Paul, of course, was as Jewish as any of us could possibly think to be, and he was the Apostle to the Gentiles, who also speaks to the Jewish children of Israel: Acts 9:15) We no longer need fight for survival, but can rest in the peace and rest and approval of God which He has given to us instead, and which He alone can bring to the world at large, when the King of kings and Lord of lords shall come out of Zion to Zion to establish righteousness and peace and joy of the Holy Spirit, as God’s kingdom is restored to His first-born son Israel, and over all of the world which He created and made for His glory and pleasure.
Truly believing in the name of Yeshua/Jesus for all that He Is requires a conversion for all, to the Jew first and also for the Greeks. We are a new creation in Messiah; we have eternal life through Him who conquered death and the wages of sin on our behalf; we have passed from death to life: truly the ultimate Passover and exodus! Our whole manner of life is transformed: it is not the old religion, but a new and living Way into the very Presence of God.
Every one who has this hope in Him purifies himself, just as He is pure.