WHAT IS PROPHECY

Hebrew Scriptures that Yeshua (Jesus) is the Messiah.

Ancient Rabbis and Christians agree on many things about the Messiah.

They This week we are bringing you the prophecy of Genesis 49, that again proves from the agree that he will be an offspring of Eve, whom God promised would defeat evil (Genesis 3:15), and that he will be from the line of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Judah and King David.

Judah, however, had been specially favored.

In Genesis 49:8–12, Jacob blesses Judah and his descendants with much more than the physical seed of the Messiah.

“Judah, your brothers will praise you. … You are a lion’s cub, Judah. … The scepter will not depart from Judah, nor the ruler’s staff from between his feet, until Shiloh comes and the obedience of the nations shall be his.”

This prophecy presents a mystery of sorts, and as with any good mystery, there are clues to solve it.  The three clues of this prophecy are:

  • Scepter
  • Ruler’s staff
  • ShilohAs you discover the truth, you will be specially blessed!
  • In this article, we’ll look at what Rabbis and Christians tell us about these clues and the Messiah in the blessing of Judah.  We’ll also learn more about God’s plan for the nation of Israel and the world.

The Messiah in Judah’s Blessing

“You will not be called Jacob any longer,” God says.”From now on your name will be Israel.”  (Genesis 35:10)

From Israel, the twelve tribes and the Messiah would be born.

One of Israel’s sons, Joseph, seems especially suited to carry the seed of the Messiah.

Joseph’s brothers despised him and sold him into slavery in Egypt where he rose to power as the second in command and saved the lives of his family and many of the nations surrounding Egypt.

In this and many other ways, Joseph’s life is thought to foreshadow the life of Yeshua (Jesus).

The Glory of Joseph (c. 1900), by James Tissot

Rabbis through the ages have written about and are expecting a Messiah who will be the son of Joseph. They call him Messiah ben Joseph.  But in Judaism, there is also a Messiah who will be the son of David (Messiah ben David).

1 Chronicles 5:2 speaks about these two Messiahs: “Because Judah was the strongest of his brothers a ruler came from him, but the rights of the firstborn belonged to Joseph.”

We’ll look at this expected “first Messiah” in another article.

When referring to the Messiah who ushers in the End-Time Messianic Kingdom, we are speaking about Messiah ben David (Messiah son of David), who is from the tribe of Judah.

Let us now turn our attention back to Judah (from whom the scepter will not depart).

After living a long and eventful life, Israel (whose name was originally Jacob) realizes he is nearing the end of his life and desires to reveal a mystery to his twelve sons that no man of God had yet spoken:

“Come together,” Israel says to his sons, “that I may tell you what is to befall you in the end of days [acharit hayamim].”  (Genesis 49:1)

Father blesses his sons.  (Photo by Lilach Daniel)

Jacob reveals this mystery in verses 8–12 as he rests his hand on his fourth son Judah and prophesies:

The SCEPTER (shevet, שבט) will not depart from Judah.

The Hebrew word Shevet (שבט) means different things in different passages.

In most passages in the Tanakh (Old Testament), shevet means tribe.  But it can mean much more.  For example, Numbers 24:17 prophesies that “a star shall rise out of Jacob and a scepter (shevet) out of Israel.”

Our prophecy in Genesis also speaks of a ruler’s staff or scepter that will rule the nations.

What is a scepter?

In Hebrew, shevet is a rod used for chastisement or the staff a shepherd uses to guide his sheep (Psalm 23:4).  But when written in this context, this rod or staff represents the royal authority of a king, as we see in this psalm:

“Your throne, O God, is forever and ever.  The scepter of your kingdom is a scepter of uprightness.”  (Psalm 45:6)

Judah will serve as ruler in Israel with this scepter.

Genesis 38: Judah gives his scepter to Tamar (1728), by Gerard Hoet (1648–1733), and others.  (Photo courtesy of Bizzell Bible Collection at the University of Oklahoma)

The ruler’s staff (mekhokek in Hebrew) will not depart from between Judah’s feet.

In ancient Israel, legislators would speak among the feet of the people as they sat on the ground in semicircles (Luke 23:1).

Judah’s line will carry this responsibility, possessing the ruler’s staff (mekhokek וּמְחֹקֵ֖ק), and the authority to inscribe laws among the people of Israel.

The ruler’s staff is another way of saying scepter.

Judah will be seen as a lion’s cub

Though Judah and his offspring will hold the scepter of rule and law over God’s chosen people, their reign will remain limited to Israel.

Yet, one will come from Judah as a mature lion who will rule and judge the whole world.

What does all this have to do with the end of days (acharit hayamim)?

Judah will hold this ruling authority until Shiloh comes, to whom belongs the scepter, the rule of law, the one we obey.

Judah would only be a shadow or placeholder until the true ruler arrives.

And the obedience of the nation’s (amim) shall be his.

The word in Hebrew for nations here is amim, which includes much more than merely the word for people (am); it means all people in all nations (amim) will obey the new scepter holder.

If we are supposed to give our full obedience to Shiloh, we surely need to know who or where is Shiloh.

Jewish man worships at the Western (Wailing) Wall.

 

Who or Where Is SHILOH?

The Hebrew word Shiloh (שלה) is often written in Christian Bibles as belonging to him.  We can say, then, that Shiloh is the one to whom belongs the scepter.

Rabbis, however, have found another meaning for Shiloh embedded within Psalm 76:11:

“Vow and pay to the Lord your God; all those around Him will bring a gift to Him Who is to be feared.”

Looking at the Hebrew in this psalm, Rabbinic writings tell us that Shiloh (שלה) was thought to come from these two words:

  • a gift (שַׁי) pronounced shi
  • to him (לוֹ) pronounced lo.What better gift could we give the new scepter holder than our obedience?However, this is not the only Hebraic reference to Shiloh as the Messiah. Here are two excerpts:“He who exercised dominion shall not pass away from the house of Judah, nor the scribe from his children’s children forever, until Messiah shall come.  Whose is the kingdom, and whom the peoples shall obey.”  (Targum Onkelos, AD 35–120)Ancient commentaries written down by Rabbis from AD 200–500 (known as the Midrash and Talmud) also tell us Shiloh is the Messiah, such as this one:Rabbis have commonly held several names and roles for Mashiach (Messiah), and Shiloh was one of them:Prominent Medieval Rabbis also agree that Shiloh refers to Messiah.Rabbi David Kimhi (1160–1235) known as Radak points out that the word Shiloh (שילו) is related to the word shilyat (שלית), which means the placenta after a child is born known as the afterbirth.These are only a handful of references in Rabbinic writings telling the Jewish People that Shiloh is the Messiah, and to him belongs the scepter.Tel Shiloh, located in southern Samaria, is the site of ancient Shilo and part of the modern Jewish settlement of Shiloh.  (Photo: wikicommons)“The entire assembly of the Israelis gathered together at Shiloh and set up the Tent of Meeting there, where the land lay conquered before them.”  (Joshua 18:1)If the blessing is referring to this town, then Judah held the scepter of rulership only until the Hebrews conquered the Promised Land and moved the tabernacle to Shiloh.“The scepter will not depart from Judah, nor the ruler’s staff from between his feet, until Shiloh comes [until they come to Shiloh] and the obedience of the nations shall be his.”Shilo and Jerusalem in ancient Israel. As a result of Solomon’s disobedience, the nation of Israel split in two. Benjamin and Judah became the Kingdom of Judea.  The other ten tribes became the Kingdom of Israel to the north.The Scepter Departs from JudahIn Scripture, the prophecy is reinforced (or strengthened) by God making a covenant with King David to ensure that a seed of his will be on the throne forevermore:The uninterrupted line of the kings of Judah spanned from BC 1010–587, some 423 years.Kings in the line of David stayed on the throne even in exile when Nebuchadnezzar placed the last Jewish king, Zedekiah, as his “puppet king” over Judea.And no descendant of Judah and David has arrived to take their place as king on the throne to hold the scepter.To answer that, we must understand the conditions placed on the scepter by God Himself.The privilege given to Judah in holding the scepter depended on Israel’s obedience.There were good kings who followed God and bad kings who led the people astray.For these reasons, the descending lineage of Judah and David lost the throne.
  • Flight of the Prisoners (c. 1900), by James Tissot.  After decades of disobedience, the people of Judea are taken captive into Babylon.  After King Zedekiah’s reign ended (586 BC), never again did a king from the line of Judah sit on a throne in Israel or Judea.
  • The wicked kings of Israel and Judea blatantly followed pagan gods; some even sacrificed their babies to Molech and took advantage of people without repentance.
  • “If your sons keep my covenant and my testimonies that I shall teach them, their sons also forever shall sit on your throne.’”  (Psalm 132:12; 2 Chronicles 6:16)
  • Western Wall stones dropped by the Romans from the Temple Mount as they destroyed the Second Temple in AD 70.
  • So how could the prophecy of Genesis 49 be fulfilled, since there have been no more potential kings of Israel to fulfill it?
  • After Zedekiah, never again did a king or ruler come from the line of Judah and David.
  • (Source: Wikicommons)
  • “I will be to him a father, and he shall be to me a son. I will not take my steadfast love from him, as I took it from him who was before you [Saul], but I will confirm him in my house and in my kingdom forever, and his throne shall be established forever.’”  (1 Chronicles 17:13–14)
  • Though Judah was given the king’s scepter, Rabbis through the millennia have taught that the prophecy starts with David the shepherd boy, son of Jesse who was the first king from the tribe of Judah.
  • The majority of rabbis disagree with this interpretation, as they interpret Shiloh as the Messiah.
  • These few rabbis interpret Judah’s blessing in Genesis 49:10 to say “until they come to Shiloh [the town]” instead of “until Shiloh comes.”
  • A few rabbis have believed that this place is the Shiloh in Judah’s blessing.
  • About 25 miles north of Jerusalem is a town called Shiloh, where the priests of Israel were instructed to set up the Tabernacle of Moses.
  • In the Bible and today in modern times Shiloh is also a town.
  • He concludes that the scepter and ruling staff belong to Shiloh, a descendant of David (see Deuteronomy 28:57).
  • Rabbi Shlomo Itzhaki (1040–1105) known as Rashi wrote that Shiloh refers to “The King Messiah, to whom the kingdom belongs [שלו]” pronounced shelo.
  • “The Messiah has been given seven names, and they are: Yinnon, Our Righteousness, Shoot, Comforter, David, Shiloh, Elijah.”  (Midrash on Proverbs 19 and 21, quoting Rabbi Huna (AD 216296) a scholar of the Talmud in Babylon).
  • “The rulership abideth with the tribe of Judah until the arrival of Shiloh i.e. Messiah.”  (Midrash Rabbah)
  • These Bible translations were read in synagogues to the common people in Aramaic after the Scriptures were read in Hebrew.  The people were taught in these Aramaic Bibles that Shiloh is Messiah.
  • “Kings shall not cease, nor rulers from the house of Judah, nor sopherim teaching the law from his seed, till the time that King Messiah shall come, who will arise from Judah.”  (Targum Jonathan Ben Uzziel, 50 BC–present)
  • Written before and after the time of Yeshua, several Aramaic translations of the Bible (the Targumim written between 100 BC and AD 200) portray Shiloh from Genesis 49:10 as the Messiah.
  • Aramaic was the common language of the day in Israel.
  • Orthodox Jewish man delivers gifts on Purim in the Mea Shearim neighborhood of Jerusalem.
  • Based on this understanding, the words “UNTIL SHILOH COME … indicates that all the nations of the world will bring a gift to Messiah the son of David,” as is written in the Midrash Rabbah Genesis.  (see Psalm 76:11, verse 12 in Hebrew Bible)

If there is no throne to rule from, then there is no king to hold the scepter.

According to Rabbi Moses ben Nachman (c. 1194–1280), known as Ramban, there is another good explanation for this.

Ramban said that God was angry at the northern kingdom of Israel for having kings on the throne from other tribes—and so the prophet Achiyah said, “I will afflict the seed of David for this, but not forever.”  (1 Kings 11:39)

Even though David’s line would suffer a break in their kingly rule, God’s covenant with David still stands: God alone will raise up an everlasting King from David’s seed to sit on an everlasting throne.  (2 Samuel 7:12–17)

White Horseman (1918), by Nicholas Roerich may depict Daniel 7:13:  “In my vision at night I looked, and there before me was one like a son of man, coming with the clouds of heaven. He approached the Ancient of Days and was led into His presence.”

 

The Scepter of Righteousness Belongs to Yeshua

When we consider all the details of the scepter holder, as first prophesied over Judah, they lead us to Yeshua (Jesus) who meets the requirements:

The scepter holder must be the King whom all peoples of all nations will one day obey:

“Judah, your brothers will praise you. … You are a lion’s cub. … The scepter will not depart from Judah, nor the ruler’s staff from between his feet, until Shiloh comes and the obedience of the nations shall be his.”  (Genesis 49:8–12)

In addition to receiving the obedience of the nations, kings will see what they were not told and understand what they had not heard (Isaiah 52:15).

The Prophet Isaiah also tells us that “In his teaching the islands will put their hope” and he will be “a light for the Gentiles” so that “salvation may reach to the ends of the earth.”  (Isaiah 42:4, 49:6)

Two billion people today, including Jewish Believers, have accepted Yeshua HaMashiach (Jesus the Messiah) as their Lord, their Savior, and their hope.

Flag of Jerusalem, which is in the territory of Judea, features the Lion of the Tribe of Judah over Western Wall stones designed on a prayer shawl motif.   The Hebrew letters above the emblem spell Yerushalayim (Jerusalem).

 

The Scepter of Judgement and Rule Belongs to the Lion of the Tribe of Judah

While we now enjoy our Messiah Yeshua as our Lord in the heavenlies, He will come down as the Lion of the tribe of Judah at the very end of days (acharit hayamim).

“Behold, the Lion of the tribe of Juda, the Root of David, hath prevailed to open the book, and to loose the seven seals thereof. …”  (Revelation 5:5)

Here, in the Book of Revelation, as prophecy comes to a close for all humanity, the Lion of the Tribe of Judah is revealed as the Lamb who had been slain to claim the final victory over death and reign on earth forevermore:

“In the midst of the elders, stood a Lamb as it had been slain . . . . And they sung a new song, saying, Thou art worthy to take the book, and to open the seals thereof: for thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us to God by thy blood out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation; And hast made us unto our God kings and priests: and we shall reign on the earth.”  (Revelation 5:6–10)

The seventh and final shofar in the Book of Revelation will sound when Yeshua returns to Jerusalem, hailing Him as King Messiah (Revelation 11:15).

 

Yeshua Is Returning Very Soon

Since the rebirth of Israel as a nation in 1948, prophecy is being fulfilled with Jews returning en masse.  Almost half of the world’s Jewish population now lives in Israel!

The plans to rebuild the Temple in Jerusalem are taking place even as you are reading this article!

The Jewish Priesthood has been identified through DNA testing and other records, and these men have been trained for Temple Service.

The blueprints for the rebuilding of the Temple have already been drafted and approved by Israeli politicians.

Only the Dome of the Rock and the Al-Aqsa mosque stand in the way of the rebuilding of the Jewish Temple in which King Messiah will one day take His rightful place.

The Golden Gate to the Old City of Jerusalem was last sealed in the early 12th century by the Ottomon Turks, who also placed a Muslim cemetery in front of it to (it is thought) prevent Elijah and the Messiah from entering.

In the Book of Acts, the disciples stood with Jesus on the Mount of Olives, just across the valley from where the Temple stood, when they saw Him ascend into heaven.

Two men dressed in white (angels) explained to them that Yeshua will come back to this same place.

In Jewish tradition the Messiah will enter through the Golden Gate.  This is the only gate directly across from the Mount of Olives.

The Messiah (Shiloh) will then take His rightful place that belongs to Him (shelo / shiloh) in the new rebuilt Temple in Jerusalem.

Samuel, we are living in the most exciting times of history, right in the cusp of seeing Yeshua return to Jerusalem, hopefully in our lifetimes!

“Look, I am coming soon! My reward is with Me, and I will give to each person according to what they have done.”  (Revelation 22:12)

Rev Samuel F Sarpong

Old Testament Evidence of God and Today's Depiction of Jesus!

Welcome to this week’s study of the Parasha (Torah Portion).  Today’s portion of Torah, Ki Tisa (When You Take), will be read in synagogues around the world this Shabbat.
Because this weekend is Shabbat Parah (Sabbath of the Red Heifer), a special maftir (Numbers 19:1–22) is added.  That maftir speaks of the Parah Adumah, the Red Heifer.  We invite you to read along with us and are certain that you will be blessed.

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The amazing grace

DELIVERANCE

Tonight and tomorrow, we celebrate one of the most joyous and fun-filled holidays on the Jewish calendarPurim (Feast of Lots).
This festive day commemorates God’s victory and deliverance of the Jewish People from their enemies in ancient Persia.

Continue reading DELIVERANCE

Jesus is the restoration of your family :)

JESUS

Does Yeshua (Jesus) pass the first test of Messiahship?

Rabbis have taught us through the millennia that Messiah would come as the Son of David.  God personally made that promise to David in the Scriptures, such as 1 Chronicles 17:11:

“And it shall come to pass, when your days be expired that you must go to be with your fathers, that I will raise up your seed after you, which shall be of your sons; and I will establish his kingdom.”

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MINITRY

As a Ministry, Bible For Israel believes that Yeshua (Jesus) is the Messiah.  
We have such assurance because of prophecies like Micah 5:2 (5:1 in the Hebrew Bible), which seems to clearly identify Bethlehem as the birthplace of the Messiah.
For 2,000 years, Christians have pointed to and relied on this prophecy as one piece of evidence to prove Yeshua’s true spiritual identity.

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Are You Anointed

THE TEMPLE

“Then came the Feast of Dedication at Jerusalem (Yerushalayim).  It was winter, and Jesus [Yeshua] was in the Temple area walking in Solomon’s Colonnade.”  (John 10:22–23)
Some years ago, a group of Jewish visitors to the Temple Mount reported seeing ancient beams dated to the First and Second Temple period being used as firewood by the Arab community.

Continue reading THE TEMPLE

THE LORD SAID

This is the portion of Torah that will be read in synagogues around the world during the Shabbat (Saturday) service.  Please read it along with us.  We know you will be blessed!
Parasha Bo (Come!)
Exodus 10:1–13:16; Jeremiah 46:13–28; Revelation 9:1–21
“Then the LORD said to Moses, ‘Go [Bo / come] to Pharaoh, for I have hardened his heart and the hearts of his officials so that I may perform these signs of mine among them.’”  (Exodus 10:1)

Moses and Aaron with Pharaoh, by Marc Chagall
In last week’s Parasha, we read of the first seven calamities (makot) that God inflicted upon Egypt to persuade Pharaoh to release the Israelites from slavery.
This week in Parasha Bo, God sends the most devastating and final three plagues:  locust, darkness and death of the firstborn.
After the final plague, Pharaoh finally acquiesces, triggering the Exodus of the Hebrews.
But what were the purposes of the Ten Plagues?  To pressure Pharaoh to let the Israelites go free?  Perhaps, but God is fully capable of setting His people free without a king’s permission.
We see in this Parasha and the last that God does not see the Egyptians simply as an enemy to be overcome; rather, He is committed to communicating something vital to them:
“I will bring judgment on all the gods of Egypt.  I am the LORD.”  (Exodus 12:12)

A 13-year-old Jewish boy gets a little help carrying the Torah scroll.  The
average weight of a Torah scroll is 20 to 25 pounds, not including the
protective case called a Torah tik.
The plagues demonstrate God’s supremacy over and judgment on all the false gods of Egypt.
When Moses first asked Pharaoh to let the Israelites go, he responded, ”Who is YHVH, that I should obey His voice to let Israel go?”  (Exodus 5:2)
The God of Israel wants everyone to know who He is.  And He wanted to make sure that Pharaoh and all of Egypt knew Him, too.
He even told Pharaoh that He was sending the powerful plague of hail, “so that you [Pharaoh] may know that there is none like Me in all the earth.”  (Exodus 9:14)
Pharaoh Notes the Importance of the Jewish People, by James Tissot
In the end, Pharaoh did come to realize the power of the God of Israel.
But God was not only concerned about the beliefs of the Egyptians.  The Torah indicates that God hardened Pharaoh’s heart in order to demonstrate His power to all the nations as well as the powerlessness of their false gods.
God does not want to be known only to this one nation of Israel, either.  He wants His name to be proclaimed in every nation on earth:
“For this purpose I have raised you [Pharaoh] up, that I may show My power in you, and that My name may be declared in all the earth.”  (Exodus 9:16)
And God certainly did make Himself known to Pharaoh through the final three plagues.

An Orthodox Jewish man prays at the Western (Wailing)
Wall in Jerusalem.
The Eighth Plague: Locusts (Arbeh אַרְבֶּה)
“If you refuse to let My people go, behold, tomorrow I will bring locusts into your territory.  And they shall cover the face of the earth, so that no one will be able to see the earth; and they shall eat the residue of what is left, which remains to you from the hail, and they shall eat every tree which grows up for you out of the field.”  (Exodus 10:4–5)
Parasha Bo begins with the eighth plague upon Egypt—locusts.  They devoured all the crops and vegetation of Egypt that remained after the hail.
Even though locusts are driven by the wind, a plague of locusts is so devastating that it cuts off the light of the sun and wipes out the food supply of the affected area.
In the Book of Joel, this plague makes another appearance, ravaging the land.  The Prophet Joel links it to sin and the Last Days, exhorting Israel to repent and return to the Lord.
God promises Israel that He will make up for all the years that the swarming locusts have devoured:
“I will repay you for the years the locusts have eaten—the great locust and the young locust, the other locusts and the locust swarm—My great army that I sent among you.  You will have plenty to eat, until you are full, and you will praise the name of the Lord your God, who has worked wonders for you; never again will My people be shamed.”  (Joel 2:25–26)

Swarm of locusts in Madagascar
Locusts are also mentioned in the Brit Chadashah (New Testament) as one of the end-time plagues upon the earth.
With the sounding of the fifth shofar in the Last Days, locusts emerge from the bottomless pit.
They will not harm the vegetation, but they will have the power to sting like a scorpion and torment men who do not have the seal of God on their foreheads.
“Then out of the smoke locusts came upon the earth.  And to them was given power, as the scorpions of the earth have power.  They were commanded not to harm the grass of the earth, or any green thing, or any tree, but only those men who do not have the seal of God on their foreheads.”  (Revelation 9:3–4)

In the ninth plague, God revealed to the Egyptians that
their sun god Ra was nothing but stone and that the God
of Israel is the One True God.
The Ninth Plague: Darkness (Hosek חוֹשֶך)
“Then the LORD said to Moses, ‘Stretch out your hand toward the sky so that darkness will spread over Egypt—darkness that can be felt.’  So Moses stretched out his hand toward the sky, and total darkness covered all Egypt for three days.  No one could see anyone else or leave his place for three days.”  (Exodus 10:21–23)
With the ninth plague of darkness, Adonai delivered a crushing blow to the worship of the Egyptian sun god, Ra, demonstrating the folly of believing in idols and mythical deities.
Although the Egyptians were plunged into total darkness, the Israelites enjoyed light in their dwellings in the land of Goshen.
While everyone outside the shelter of God’s covenant live in ever deepening darkness, especially as the end of the age approaches, the light of Believers in Yeshua shines ever more brightly.  (Proverbs 4:18)
Today, there are so many reports of evil, and many are fearful of what may come upon us.  Nevertheless, even when there is total, paralyzing darkness in the world, we can still have light in our dwellings, just as the Israelites had in Goshen.

Shabbat candles
It is time for us to stop cursing the darkness and, instead, start living in the light.
Instead of complaining, murmuring and fault finding over the darkness of “Egypt” (the world), we can be all that God has made us to be, shining as lights in the midst of a dark and perverse generation.  (Philippians 2:14–15)
And if we think that we do not know the Word enough to be a bright light, we must remember that even the smallest of lights shine brilliantly in the darkest of places.
The Bible says that the wicked stumble in the darkness and do not even know what makes them trip.  (Proverbs 4:19)
When people are in complete darkness, they cannot perceive anything outside of themselves.  In this state of darkness, it is easy to live in a completely self-centered, miserable world.  Often a symptom of this darkness is using people for self-benefit.
But God’s presence in our lives promotes a kind of love that is giving, not self-seeking.  (1 Corinthians 13:5)

Torah scroll and yad (Torah pointer)
We need Yeshua, the Light of the World to set us free from our own preoccupation with ourselves so that we may truly love our neighbor.
Sadly, far too many of us who have been set free from darkness to live in the light still willfully stumble in the darkness of unforgiveness, bitterness, and resentment.  We must determine to let these go and walk in God’s holy Light.
Just as paralyzing darkness fell on Egypt, many in the world will one day experience a great, devastating darkness, which is one of the end-time plagues mentioned in the Book of Revelation.
When the angel pours out the fifth bowl of God’s wrath, the kingdom of the beast will be plunged into total darkness.  This foreshadows the state of people who descend into Sheol (hell), where there is a complete absence of all light.  Revelation tells us that even this will not convince the servants of Satan to repent and turn to the Maker of All.
“Then the fifth angel poured out his bowl on the throne of the beast, and his kingdom became full of darkness; and they gnawed their tongues because of the pain.  They blasphemed the God of heaven because of their pains and their sores, and did not repent of their deeds.”  (Revelation 16:10–11)

Ultra-Orthodox teens walk together at the Kotel (Western Wall) Plaza
in Jerusalem.
The Tenth Plague: The Striking of the Firstborn (Macat B’Chorot מַכַּת בְּכוֹרוֹת)
“This is what the LORD says: ‘About midnight I will go throughout Egypt.  Every firstborn in Egypt will die, from the firstborn son of Pharaoh, who sits on the throne, to the firstborn of the slave girl, who is at her hand mill, and all the firstborn of the cattle as well.  There will be loud wailing throughout Egypt—worse than there has ever been or ever will be again.”  (Exodus 11:4–6)
When Pharaoh still refused to repent and relent after the Plague of Darkness, God sent the tenth and most devastating plague—the Striking of the Firstborn of Egypt.
Egypt’s king refused to let God’s firstborn (Israel) go, so God took Pharaoh’s firstborn and those of his loyal subjects.  The word is clear—God will treat the nations (and individuals) as they have treated Israel!
God acts on behalf of His people and judgment will fall on the enemies of Israel.
While Pharaoh was perhaps unmoved, remaining stubborn and proud as the rest of the land suffered under God’s hand, when God struck down his firstborn son, the hardness of his heart was broken through.
How tragic that it took the death of Pharaoh’s own child to bring him to the place of humility and submission where he was willing to let God’s people go.

Women pray at the Western (Wailing) Wall in Jerusalem.
May our hearts be soft toward the leading of the Ruach HaKodesh (Holy Spirit) so that God will never need to use ever increasingly painful disciplinary measures to break through our stubborn and willful pride and bring us into a holy place before Him.
Moses prepared the people of Israel for this final judgment on Egypt by instructing them to sacrifice a lamb and to put its blood on the tops and sides of their doors.
“And they shall take some of the blood and put it on the two doorposts and on the lintel of the houses where they eat it.”  (Exodus 12:7)
The blood of the Passover lamb served as the sign that caused the judgment to “pass over” the Israelites, sparing them from suffering the wrath of God that fell upon the Egyptians.
“Now the blood shall be a sign for you on the houses where you are.  And when I see the blood, I will pass over you; and the plague shall not be on you to destroy you when I strike the land of Egypt.”  (Exodus 12:13)

Lamb
At the conclusion of this Parasha, Moses leads the children of Israel out of Egypt, and the Lord gives them the ordinances of the Passover.
Thus the Lord did all He had promised; not one Word that the Lord had spoken was left unfulfilled.  Reminding ourselves of this helps us to also trust in God’s faithfulness, power and mercy now and in the days to come.
Today, the Jewish People still celebrate this miraculous Passover each year.
“So this day shall be to you a memorial; and you shall keep it as a feast to the LORD throughout your generations.  You shall keep it as a feast by an everlasting ordinance.”  (Exodus 12:14)
Individual Believers and entire churches are increasingly commemorating Passover as well, since it foreshadows Yeshua the Messiah, the Lamb of God who was sacrificed in order to spare us from the judgment of God.
A man reads from the Passover Haggadah (Telling / Order) as everyone
raises a glass of wine, a custom during the Passover Seder (traditional dinner). 
Redeeming the Firstborn
Because God spared the firstborn Jewish sons from the 10th plague, we find in this Torah portion the command to consecrate or set apart for Him every firstborn male.  (Exodus 13:1–2)
As well, because they were spared, the firstborn traditionally fasts on the day before Passover to commemorate this miracle.
However, the firstborn sons ended up worshiping the Golden Calf along with most of Israel, so they forfeited their right to serve God in the Temple.
God, instead, gave that right to the tribe who did not worship the Calf—the Levites.
Jewish parents, therefore, redeem their firstborn sons in a special ceremony called the Pidyon HaBen (Redemption of the Firstborn Son).  (Numbers 3:45–47)
In this ceremony the firstborn is fully absolved from the duty to perform Temple Service.

The Pidyon HaBen (redemption of the firstborn son) is a
traditional Jewish ritual that has been practiced since
ancient times.
This symbolic ritual of redeeming the firstborn son out of Temple Service continues today with the payment of five silver shekels (or about 4.4 ounces of pure silver) to a man of Cohen descent, according to the command given by Moses:
“Take the Levites in place of all the firstborn of Israel, and the livestock of the Levites in place of their livestock.  The Levites are to be mine.  I am the Lord.  To redeem the 273 firstborn Israelites who exceed the number of the Levites, collect five shekels for each one, according to the sanctuary shekel, which weighs twenty gerahs.  Give the money for the redemption of the additional Israelites to Aaron and his sons.”  (Numbers 3:45–48)
The Israeli Mint has created special edition silver commemorative coins
for Pidyon HaBen (Redemption of the Firstborn) services.  The weight of
the five coins corresponds to the weight of the five silver sheqalim given
to the Cohen in Temple times for the Redemption of the Firstborn.
Another custom in Judaism arises from the Exodus story—the custom of wearing tefillin.
Tefillin (phylacteries) are a set of little black boxes containing Scriptures connected by straps.  The boxes are worn on the forehead and arm, and straps are wound around the arm and fingers.  This custom serves as a reminder to submit one’s head (thoughts), heart (feelings) and hands (actions) to the Lord.
This practice arises from the following command:
“This observance will be for you like a sign on your hand and a reminder on your forehead that this law of the Lord is to be on your lips.  For the Lord brought you out of Egypt with his mighty hand.”  (Exodus 13:9, see also verse 16)
A Jewish man at the Western (Wailing) Wall helps a young man, perhaps
his son, to wrap tefillin (phylacteries).
According to Scripture, in the last days, the anti-Messiah will attempt to force all people to put his mark, rather than the Word of God, on their hand or foreheads, thereby usurping the mark of the rightful place of God in our lives.  (Revelation 13:16–17)
Nevertheless, those who love God will resist evil and glorify His name till the end.
It is because of God’s enduring mercy that He brought each one of us out of the darkness that held us captive.  Baruch HaShem (Praise the Lord)!
Samuel, you can help Bibles For Israel shine the Light of Yeshua into the darkness and proclaim freedom to the captives!
“To Him who struck down the firstborn in Egypt
    His love endures forever
and brought Israel out from among them
    His love endures forever;
With a mighty hand and an outstretched arm
    His love endures forever.”  (Psalm 136:10–12)Rev Samuel F Sarpong