About the Author

Rev Aaron Eime is the deacon of Christ Church in the Old City of Jerusalem, the first Protestant Church in the Middle East. Aaron studied at the Hebrew University in the Masters Program with the focus towards Early Jewish and Christian Interpretation of Bible. Aaron also studied Psychology and Sociology at Queensland University in Australia in the Social Work Program. He is a dedicated Bible teacher exploring the Hebraic Roots of the Christian Faith. He has taught Internationally in many countries including Europe, North America, Hong Kong and China. Aaron is the Director of Research and Education at Christ Church. He lives in Jerusalem with his wife and 3 children.

Monday, April 10, 2017

Cost of Redemption

Passover 5777 approaches, coinciding once again this year closely with Easter and Holy Week. This year our community at Christ Church in Jerusalem will journey to the Dead Sea to celebrate our Seder along the shore of the lowest point on Earth. At 430 metres below sea level, the Dead Sea area is the lowest elevation on the earth’s surface that a human can stand up and breath. Any where else and you’d be underground. 

God gave the Jewish people Feasts and Festivals, each describing how God acted in the World through history. From the book of Leviticus these times are called the Appointed Times of the Lord. Now if you knew that God had made an appointment with you and you knew the time of that appointment, its a strong bet that we would do everything we could to show up on time. God instructs Israel to write the date of Passover, the 14th of Nisan, into their calendars and to celebrate the great redemption that God performed for Israel. They were not to forget it. 

Passover is an amazing story of salvation. The Exodus shows us what redemption looks like. There is the freedom from slavery and being saved from death. Salvation comes at a time when we know very little about God. We are not saved because we know lots about God. Redemption comes before the giving of the Torah. The model of Moses is part of the story showing that the next redeemer figure - the Messiah - must be greater than Moses. God uses slaves to bring judgement on the gods of Egypt and earths mightiest empire of the day. Its the weak defeating the strong. Inherent in the tradition of Passover is that messianic redemption comes at Passover. Thus there will be a place for Elijah, the fore runner of Messiah, at the Seder table. 

The redemption during the Exodus came at a cost. Redemption always does. An unfortunate idea has permeated Western Christianity that redemption (or Salvation) is free. Another unfortunate idea that has emerged from the West is our almost absolute individualism. Its about me and Jesus. And that focus on ourselves has separated us from our historical and global community. Me-vangelicalism too often places us the sole focus of God’s love almost to the exclusion of others. Yes it is very true that God loves me, but He also loves the guy standing next to me just as much. All of us are of intrinsic value to God. Passover reminds us that God saves a people to be a people, and that redemption comes with a price. To redeem something means to buy back that which you already formally owned. 

The cost was the death of the first born. There were ten plagues that struck Egypt. The word plague in Hebrew is ‘Macah’ and it means Strike or Punch. These were the ten punches that God smote Egypt and its gods with. The last of the strikes was the death of the first born. The Israelites had to obey to ensure God would pass over them. The blood they placed on the doorposts and lintels would cover the whole household. Anyone who was inside the house would be spared the Angel of Death. Israelite slaves would invite their Egyptian overlords into their homes for this night, saying ‘Of all nights, you must come come and eat with me tonight’. When the Israelites left Egypt many of the Egyptians joined them in the Exodus, perhaps through the redemption they experienced from the Lord’s Passover. 

Why the first born? Why focus on the biological determinate of being born first, which would not be the first born’s fault. Why not choose to slay those with bad intentions or evil thoughts of the heart? Which would therefore be any of the parents or children in the family and not inherently those born first. Exodus tells the Israelites to consecrate every first born from the womb. The first offspring from every womb belongs to the Lord. God slays only the first born, that which already belongs to Him. God pays the cost of redemption, it was not free. And the price was steep. A whole nation mourned that night. God took that which was already His (Israel) and paying the price for it from His own, the First Born.