In Israel, Passover and the week of matzot (unleavened bread) is over, and the country is back to normal. In fact, it is only Jerusalem that gets filled with people (tourists) that week, while the rest of Israel’s cities become half-empty. This year, for the first time ever, I stayed in Tel-Aviv for the Feast and saw the difference. This year, out of 7 million Israelis half a million traveled the country, another half a million slept and ate at hotels, and tens of thousands walked the streets of cities abroad. And some like me, who stayed in the city for various reasons, enjoyed the quiet and spent time reflecting.
Everyone in Israel, and probably many abroad, know that the name “Pesach” comes from the Hebrew pasach, which means “pass over.” For Jews, this is glad news: the Angel of Death passed over the homes of our ancestors and did not strike their firstborn children. The reason for this was the blood of the lamb on the doorposts of each house. And so this lamb has been called “the Passover” ever since (1 Cor. 5:7b).
Those who read the Bible are familiar with this miracle: that the same passage of Scripture can tell the reader new things every time. This year it was the theme of passing over that was new to me. Not God’s passing over us, but rather the opposite. Yes, we can say that we have not passed over the Crucified and Risen One; that our hearts and minds responded to the Savior’s call. But do we stay attentive to God’s actions in our lives? Could it be that we are passing over something important?
Just recently I was working on preparations for our Haifa seminar for Shabbat school teachers. It is well known that most children’s ministers have no special pedagogical education, and therefore we invited an experienced and trained teacher to teach the participants how to effectively minister to children through stories, and how to encourage and correct them the right way. In other words, there was interesting and important material served. Also, in the north of Israel there are not so many training seminars that someone might say, “How long can I go on learning? Let me have my Friday off!” But as I was inviting potential participants, I saw that many had to be persuaded, almost talked into coming.
Our Lord is doing a wonderful work. He is honing us to become tools that can be used, polishing us and giving us gifts that we need for ministry. On our part, faithfulness and cooperation are required, and without them we become material that is hard to work with. The Almighty prepares teachers for us, giving them knowledge that we lack. He raises up Messianic organizations with resources that we need for growth and knowledge of his will. We have simply begun to take much of this for granted. And that means we are passing over the blessings with which the Lord wants to enrich us.
Going back to the Haifa seminar, those teachers who found time and energy to participate, and gladly received what the Lord had prepared for them, were truly blessed.
How about us—are we among those who do not pass over God’s blessings?