Abraham—Lot—The Passovers and Throughs
We tend to think of Passover as a one-time event. But a more in-depth investigation of original Hebrew words reveals that the pattern of passing over and through is a thread that weaves through many Biblical narratives.
In the Exodus account of "Passover or Pesach," the Lord passes "through" (avur) the land of Egypt and skips over (Pesach) the homes of the enslaved children of Israel with the sacrificial blood on their doorposts.
For I will pass through the land of Egypt on that night, and will strike all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, both man and beast; and against all the gods of Egypt I will execute judgment: I am the Lord. 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 12:12-13
Israel's faith in the shed blood of the lamb on their behalf spared the children of Israel from the final judgment on Egypt and pointed forward to future Passover Lamb, who would deliver the souls of men from their bondage to sin and final judgment.
For indeed Christ, our Passover was sacrificed for us . . .
— I Corinthians 5:7
A forewarning that I will be taking the more lengthy scenic route in getting to the main point of this article, but the lessons along the way are worth the detours we will take. They are too impressive to "pass" them by.
Before jumping into the text of this topic, I would first like to note one of the most stunning observations of Abraham's life was his faith. It has to be why so much text is spent on him in Genesis, and why he is, likewise, so noted in the New Testament Book of Hebrews "Hall of Faith."
By faith Abraham, when he was called to go out into a place which he should after receive for an inheritance, obeyed; and he went out, not knowing whither he went.
— Hebrews 11:8
By faith Abraham, when he was tried, offered up Isaac: and he that had received the promises offered up his only begotten son.
— Hebrews 11:17
Abraham's Obedience Exhibits Faith
God gave Abraham a promise, and Abraham, in response, exhibits his faith with action and obedience. His first exhibit begins in Genesis, chapter 12.
Now the Lord had said unto Abram, Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and from thy father's house, unto a land that I will shew thee: And I will make of thee a great nation, and I will bless thee, and make thy name great; and thou shalt be a blessing: And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee: and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed.
So Abram departed, as the Lord had spoken unto him . . . they went forth to go into the land of Canaan; and into the land of Canaan they came.
— Genesis 12:1-4
We see that Abram's faith was acted upon by his departing and coming into the land. God said, and Abraham did. Abraham's next demonstration requires a little more in-depth look at the text.
Abram passed through the land to the place of Shechem, as far as the terebinth tree of Moreh And the Canaanites were then in the land.
And the Lord appeared unto Abram, and said, Unto thy seed will I give this land: and there builded he an altar unto the Lord, who appeared unto him.
And he removed from thence unto a mountain on the east of Bethel (house of God), and pitched his (her) tent, having Bethel on the west, and Hai (heap of ruins) on the east: and there he builded an altar unto the Lord, and called upon the name of the Lord.
— Genesis 12:6-9
At first glance, the act of obedience may not be quite as apparent in its English form. In Hebrew, words are either in male or female form. The term "tent," used in the above verse, is in female form. This rendering informs us that when Abraham was told that his "seed" would possess the land, he "pitched her tent," as was the custom of Nomads of that time. Either the woman had her own tent or a portion of the tent that was hers and was the place where intimacy occurred. This custom is described in a scene with Isaac and Rebekah.
Isaac brought her (Rebekah) into his mother Sarah's tent (tent is in female form in this verse too), and took Rebekah, and she became his wife; and he loved her.
— Genesis 24:67
Therefore, we can conclude that Abraham's act of faith, as it concerned seed, was to "pitch a tent." This pattern follows throughout the narratives in the book of Genesis. When the female form of a tent is used, most generally, a sexual encounter or product thereof is included.
In this second encounter with the Lord, the other act of faith is that he removed himself from Shechem, the place he had passed through the land to, from Haran because there were Canaanites in the land. He set about to protect his promise.
We are interrupted in God's dealings with Abraham by a famine in the land and by an act of fear rather than faith to contrast what results follow each.
A Detour in the Story
Abraham journeyed to Egypt to wait out the grievous famine. It might be worth noting that God did not tell Abraham to do this. Ultimately, it is this decision that results in a hiccup in the story.
It is fear rather than faith that we witness from Abraham in the next scene when he tells Sarah to tell Pharaoh that She is his sister rather than his wife.
And it came to pass, when he was close to entering Egypt, that he said to Sarai his wife, “Indeed I know that you are a woman of beautiful countenance. Therefore it will happen, when the Egyptians see you, that they will say, ‘This is his wife’, and they will kill me, but they will let you live. Please say you are my sister, that it may be well with me for your sake, and that I may live because of you.”
— Genesis 12:11-13
This seemingly harmless lie became relevant when Pharaoh wanted to make Sarah one of his harem because of that lie, and the household became plagued because of it. Pharaoh ultimately decided to send them away with a few parting gifts, one of them being Hagar, Sarah's maidservant, who later would become the mother of Ishmael through Abraham.
A pattern that emerges from this, concerning God's people, is that when there is a famine in the land, and His people leave the promised land to seek sustenance elsewhere, it usually doesn't turn out well. Just ask Naomi as was scribed in the book of Ruth when she went to Moab and lost her entire immediate family.
God always, sovereignly, weaves these events into the salvation story, but the glitch he has to navigate is still on the human side. It is a good lesson for us that when there is a famine or dryness in our spiritual journey, we are to stay with the Lord and in the land of His promises. Sometimes tests of faith occur for the following purpose.
God led thee these forty years in the wilderness, to humble thee, and to prove thee, to know what was in thine heart.
— Deuteronomy 8:2
God is looking for loyalty. Unashamed, uncompromising faithfulness to Him no matter what!
After this incident, Abraham returned to the place between Bethel and Ai, where the initial promise was made. This narrative is a beautiful picture of repentance and God's great mercy.
. . . And Then There Was Lot
Before entering the land of promise, Abraham left Haran, "Lot went with him," becomes a twice repeated phrase. This repetition may indicate another mishap on Abraham's part, in that he was instructed to leave his "kindred" and his father's house. Lot qualified as kindred.
Chapter thirteen opens with the second, "Lot went with him," clause. They returned to the spot between Bethel and Ai. It was here that the Lord initially appeared to Abraham with a reiteration of His promise.
The Grass Is Not Always Greener
Both Lot and Abraham had become so productive in livestock that disputes were arising between Lot's and Abraham's herdsman. So much so that Abraham suggested that maybe they should part ways, and he gave Lot first dibs on what territory he wished to occupy. Lot chose the grass that looked greener on the other side.
Lot lifted up his eyes, and beheld all the plain of Jordan, that it was well watered every where, before the Lord destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah, even as the garden of the Lord . . . Then Lot chose him all the plain of Jordan.
— Genesis 13:10
This scene is reminiscent of an event long before it and gives us a clue as to Lot's motivation and where he is headed with his decision.
. . . when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make one wise, she took of the fruit thereof.
— Genesis 3:6
Lot is a picture of our flesh and Abraham, our spirit.
. . . the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.
— Matthew 26:41
After the fall of man, God consistently uses the pattern of two men, many times brothers, to illustrate the war between flesh and spirit. There were Cain/flesh and Abel/spirit, Ishmael/flesh and Isaac/spirit, Esau/flesh Jacob/spirit, Saul/flesh, and David/spirit. In this particular instance, it is Lot/flesh and Abraham/spirit.
Lot demonstrates for us the pitfalls of our flesh that always wants what it thinks is best, advantageous, and pleasurable for itself.
Lot dwelled in the cities of the plain, and pitched his tent toward (up until) Sodom. But the men of Sodom were wicked and sinners before the Lord exceedingly.
— Genesis 13:12-13
The word "toward" in the above verse would better read "up until" in terms of its Hebrew rendering. "Up until" reveals that Lot was sitting as close to Sodom as possible without actually being in it. Do you recognize this game? It's a well-known strategy of the flesh to sit as close to sin as it can, hoping it won't get burned. It sincerely is playing with fire, as we shall see.
This same thing is revealed in chapter 38 of Genesis when just after his sale of Joseph, Joseph's brother Judah leaves his brothers for a time and
Judah went down from his brethren, and turned into (pitched up until) a certain Adullamite.
— Genesis 38:1
An Adullamite was a Canaanite, as was Sodom and Gomorrah. Again the text points out that he pitches as close to the pagan people as possible without actually being in it. This "shacking up next to" incident resulted in Judah taking a pagan Canaanite bride and producing three sons, two of whom were so wicked that the Lord killed them.
A Separation of Flesh and Spirit
It is at this time that the Lord speaks to Abraham a third time.
And the Lord said unto Abram, after that Lot was separated from him Lift up now thine eyes, and look from the place where thou art northward, and southward, and eastward, and westward: For all the land which thou seest, to thee will I give it, and to thy seed for ever And I will make thy seed as the dust of the earth: so that if a man can number the dust of the earth, then shall thy seed also be numbered Arise, walk through the land in the length of it and in the breadth of it; for I will give it unto thee.
— Genesis 13:14-15
At this time, God invited Abraham to look through the land and tread upon that which he was going to give Him after he separates from Lot. This scene contrasts Lot lifting up his own eyes and satisfying his flesh by choosing what he thought was best for himself.
When it comes to God's promises to us, there comes a stage of fulfillment that the flesh has got to go, and there is simply no room for the flesh in what God wants to give us and bring us to.
This idea is illustrated later in Genesis chapter 36, with Jacob/spirit and Esau/flesh.
And Esau took his wives, and his sons, and his daughters, and all the persons of his house, and his cattle, and all his beasts, and all his substance, which he had got in the land of Canaan; and went into the country from the face of his brother Jacob. For their riches were more than that they might dwell together; and the land wherein they were strangers could not bear them because of their cattle.
— Genesis 36:6-7
Paul gives us the New Testament application.
. . . put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make not provision for the flesh, to fulfil the lusts thereof.
— Romans 13:14
We must cut away and get rid of the fleshly things that cause us to fumble and stumble in our walk with the Lord.
. . . circumcision is that of the heart.
— Romans 2:29
In partnership with the Lord, that does the work in us.
And Jehovah thy God hath circumcised thy heart, and the heart of thy seed, to love Jehovah thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, for the sake of thy life . . .
— Deuteronomy 30:6 YLT98
The concept of circumcision began with God's request to Abraham to confirm himself to the promise God had made with him concerning descendants that would come from him? The writer of Hebrews speaks of this separation of spirit and flesh.
For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any two edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.
— Hebrews 4:12
Faith and Hesitation
The next observation has to do with, once again, Abraham's evidence of faith.
In the Bible, phrases like "walking to and fro" and "walking through" indicate the intent to possess and claim territory.
Every place whereon the soles of your feet shall tread shall be yours.
— Deuteronomy 11:24
So what does Abraham do? Does he sit back and hope the magic happens? No, He immediately acts in faith once again.
Abram removed his tent, and came and dwelt in the plain of Mamre, which is in Hebron, and built there an altar unto the Lord.
— Genesis 13:18
He gets up, and he starts moving. But we also might notice that he hesitates and dwells in the plain of Mamre when he was told to walk through the breadth and length of the land. As he camps in this place, there is trouble brewing down in the plain.
A Rebellious Interruption
Chapter fourteen of Genesis introduces us to a battle involving nine kings in the land. It was a four against five battle.
Twelve years they served Chedorlaomer, and in the thirteenth year they (the five kings of Sodom, Gomorrah, Amah, Zeboiim, and Zoar) rebelled.
— Genesis 14:4
Thirteen is the number of rebellion in the bible. The connection between the number thirteen and rebellion is also displayed in Esther's story, with 52 (13x4) mentions of the wicked Haman's name and the incident with David's son Amnon who raped his sister Tamar. Tamar's name receives thirteen times, signaling that a rebellion is about to occur, as it does, with Absalom, who plots to overthrow their father, King David, over the incident. This account is, notably, recorded in II Samuel chapter thirteen.
Passing Through the Chaotic Waters
Before we get to the "passing through" in this portion of the text concerning Lot, I want to camp for a second on this theme of water/chaos and "passing through." In doing that, we will go back to the very first account and make a connection between chaos and water.
The earth was without form, and void; and darkness was on the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters.
— Genesis 1:2
The thirteenth letter of the Hebrew Aleph-Bet is a "mem" and pictographically represents water. It is often associated with chaos and, could we say, very related to rebellion.
Save me, O God!
For the waters have come up to my neck.
I sink in deep mire,
Where there is no standing;
I have come into deep waters,
Where the floods overflow me.
— Psalm 69:1-2
Waters are divided.
Thus God made the firmament, and divided the waters which were under the firmament from the waters which were above the firmament; and it was so.
— Genesis 1:7
Here we see waters above separated from waters below. If we were to draw a straight line from one water to another, we would have a vertical line.
In the book of Exodus, we see this pattern of waters divided repeated in a horizontal depiction.
The children of Israel are released from Egyptian slavery after the night of the "Passover." And they are camping by the Sea of Reeds, otherwise known as the Dead Sea. Pharaoh and his army are in hot pursuit of them for their failure to return after three days, and they have nowhere to go, giving us a backdrop of chaos.
Then Moses stretched out his hand over the sea (water); and the Lord caused the sea to go back by a strong east wind (same word as spirit in Hebrew) all that night, and made the sea into dry land, and the waters were divided.
— Exodus 15:21
Like in the creation account, we see waters connected with chaos and a spirit/wind that hovers or blows over it.
This time the waters parted horizontally. Again if I were to draw a straight line from one water to another, we would have a horizontal line. If we overlap the two events, we have the form of a cross. The way, the door, to pass through the waters of chaos in the natural realm to eternal life, is through the cross.
And you He made alive, who were dead in trespasses and sins, in which you once walked according to the course of this world . . . that He might reconcile them both to God in one body through the cross, thereby putting to death the enmity
— Ephesians 2:1-2,16 (Horizontal view)
Seeing then that we have a great High Priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God.
— Hebrews 4:14 (vertical view)
The second water separating event shows us a lamb that was slain that spared their firstborn and issued their release from slavery. According to John, the first one in the creation account includes this as well, the author of Revelation.
All who dwell on the earth will worship him, whose names have not been written in the Book of Life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world.
— Revelation 13:8
Fourteen and Deliverance
Back to the Lot narrative, in the fourteenth year, this battle of nine kings occurs, and as we shall see, there is a rescue and redemption that takes place.
The number fourteen in the Bible carries that same theme of rescue and redemption for which this story is laying a foundation. The Passover itself was observed on the fourteenth day of the month.
In the fourteenth day of the first month at even is the Lord's Passover.
— Leviticus 23:5
Lot and everything he owned was taken captive in this hostile take over, along with that of Sodom and Gomorrah, whose two kings fell into the tar pits. That greener grass came with a few unforeseen problems, as most fleshly decisions usually do. Lot is in desperate need of deliverance.
The saga continues.
. . . there came one that had escaped, and told Abram the Hebrew (ivri).
— Genesis 14:13
"Abram the Hebrew"? Why is he, all of a sudden, identified as "the Hebrew"? A little word study will help understand this better.
This word Hebrew "ivri "(עִבְרִי) describes one who has crossed over from the other side. The root of this word is "eber" (עֵ֫בֶר) and traces back to Eber who is listed in Genesis chapter 10 as a descendant of Shem, the son of Noah.
And Shem is the father of the sons of Eber (the ones who crossed over from the other side—the Hebrews—Abraham).
Abraham is known to the people of the land as the one who has "passed through" from the other side. The root of this word is the same as the word we began with (avur). This similarity will hold more considerable significance as we move along.
Abraham raises up his own armed and trained servants of his own house and a couple of covenant landlords to go after them. They were victorious and brought back all the goods that had been stolen from Sodom and Gomorrah. Lot also was returned along with the goods, women, and all the people.
The king of Sodom is so grateful that he comes out to meet Abraham, and it is at this time the Melchizedek (king of righteousness) king of Salem (peace) and priest of God Most High appears with bread and wine.
And he blessed him, and said, Blessed be Abram of the most high God, possessor of heaven and earth: And blessed be the most high God, which hath delivered thine enemies into thy hand.
— Genesis 14:19
Then Abraham gives him a tenth of the spoil to Melchizedek. Notice that the blessing acknowledges that God possesses it all. The tenth that Abraham gives him is an acknowledgment of that.
We will get to bread and wine in a minute, but I have to make a note of the fact that the king of Sodom offered Abraham everything that was restored except the people, and Abraham's reply was
Abram said to the king of Sodom, I have lift up mine hand unto the Lord, the most high God, the possessor of heaven and earth,That I will not take from a thread even to a shoelatchet, and that I will not take any thing that is thine, lest you should say, I have made Abram rich.
— Genesis 14:22
Abraham acknowledges that God possesses all, and he doesn't need the worldly goods offered by the worldly king.
I couldn't help but think of the lottery in connection with this. It is tempting to believe that if we were awarded the riches of this world, all of our problems would be solved, but isn't this essentially what Eve's reasoning led to, as in an independent satisfaction of self without needing God? And ultimately, it entirely discounts our greatest need, and that is to be cleansed from our sin that has made us unfit for any entitlements of eternity and the blessing of God.
Onto the bread and wine, Melchizedek is a foreshadow of the coming King of righteousness and peace.
. . . having been perfected, He (Jesus) became the author of eternal salvation to all who obey Him, called by God as High Priest “according to the order of Melchizedek . . . ”
— Hebrews 5;9-10
. . . the forerunner has entered for us, even Jesus, having become High Priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek.
— Hebrews 6:20
. . . the Lord Jesus on the same night in which He was betrayed took bread; and when He had given thanks, He broke it and said, “Take, eat this is My body which is broken for you; do this in remembrance of Me.” In the same manner He also took the cup after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in My blood. This do, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of Me.”
— I Corinthians 11:23-25
After this, God appears to Abraham and speaks to him a fourth time. The number four signals to us that a change, transformation, or development is about to occur. And as we shall see, there is something different with this visit.
After these things the word of the Lord came to Abram in a vision, saying, “Do not be afraid, Abram. I am your shield, your exceedingly great reward.
— Genesis 15;1
A fitting and timely statement considering the previous events: but this time, Abraham has some questions concerning the fulfillment of these promises he keeps getting about land and descendants. He confronts God that He has given him no children, and he wonders if it should be his servant who should inherit the promises. To which God replies
“This one shall not be your heir, but one who will come from your own body shall be your heir.”Then He brought him outside and said, “Look now toward heaven, and count the stars if you are able to number them.” And He said to him, “So shall your descendants be.”
— Genesis 15
It is at this event that the Lord recounts to Abraham his righteousness because of his faith.
Another worthy observation of this event is in recalling when Lot and Abraham separate God tells Abraham to look in every direction, assuring him of the promise He has made to him. On this occasion, as Abraham struggles to gain his faith footing as he considers the natural circumstances about him, God asks him this time to look up.
God reiterates the second part of His promise.
Then He said to him, “I am the Lord, who brought you out of Ur of the Chaldeans, to give you this land to inherit it.”
— Genesis 15:7
Abraham questions God a second time in this conversation as to how this is to take place. At this point, God answers his question via a covenant act of walking through split animals. This type of ceremony was a typical Ancient Near Eastern covenant act that two parties would do to solidify a promise. A blood covenant, as such, meant that either party that made the promise or agreement would die if it weren't fulfilled.
Passing Through the Pieces
God instructs Abraham to bring Him five things.
. . . a three-year-old heifer, a three-year-old female goat, a three-year-old ram, a turtledove, and a young pigeon.
— Genesis 15:9
Five is the number of God's grace. Abraham does not walk through these pieces, but God does.
. . . behold, there appeared a smoking oven and a burning torch that passed between those pieces.
— Genesis 15:17
This numeric connection confirms that this covenant would be by God fulfilling the necessary terms, including the consequence of its fulfillment by grace alone.
. . . every man shall take for himself a lamb, according to the house of his father, a lamb for a household . . . Then they shall eat the flesh on that night; roasted in fire, with unleavened bread and with bitter herbs they shall eat it.
— Exodus 12:3,8
Christ, our Passover, was sacrificed for us.
— I Corinthians 5:8
Recall that Abraham the "ivri" passing through from the other side? We see here the Lord of the covenant passing through from the "other side" to execute the promise.
Later in the book of Deuteronomy, God is instructing His people, just before entering the Promised Land, He uses this same covenant language in terms of passing over and or through.
Therefore keep the words of this covenant, and do them, that you may prosper in all that you do. “All of you stand today before the Lord your God: your leaders and your tribes and your elders and your officers, all the men of Israel, your little ones and your wives—also the stranger who is in your camp, from the one who cuts your wood to the one who draws your water— that you may enter (avar—cross over) into covenant with the Lord your God, and into His oath, which the Lord your God makes with you today, that He may establish you today as a people for Himself, and that He may be God to you, just as He has spoken to you, and just as He has sworn to your fathers, to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.
— Deuteronomy 29:9-13
Then the Lord (YHVH) appeared to Abraham at the oaks of Mamre while he was sitting in the entrance of his tent during the heat of the day. He looked up, and he saw three men standing over him When he saw them, he ran from the entrance of the tent to meet them and bowed to the ground. Then he said, “My lord, if I have found favor in your sight, please do not go on past your servant.
— Exodus 18:1-3
The Lord and his two companions are passing through from the other side on their way to judge Sodom and Gomorrah because
. . . the Lord said, “Because the outcry against Sodom and Gomorrah is great and their sin is very grave, I will go down to see whether they have done altogether according to the outcry that has come to me. And if not, I will know.”
— Genesis 18:20
Abraham prepares a meal for these unexpected guests. Ancient Near Eastern laws of hospitality dictated that strangers were to be welcomed, provided for, and protected at all costs. This particular meal that Abraham is arranging appears to be covenant-like, as we shall see.
The first thing Abraham does is run to Sarah's tent, and he asks her to "hurry" to prepare three measures of fine flour, knead it and bake bread. The text does not tell us that this was unleavened bread, but we can suspect so because it was prepared in a hurry, as was the Passover's bread.
And they baked unleavened cakes of the dough which they brought forth out of Egypt, for it was not leavened; because they were thrust out of Egypt, and could not tarry, neither had they prepared for themselves any victual.
— Exodus 12:39
The Covenant Meal and Bread
The bread is the central focus of this covenant meal prepared for the three guests, and the literary structure of the text confirms this.
Several portions of the Hebrew Scriptures are arranged in a chiastic form. A chiastic arrangement is a literary technique that places the central point of a text in the middle and surrounds it with the parallel supportive details on each side. I will show how this works in the portion of text that appears just before Abraham runs to Sarah and asks her to make this "bread."
A) O Lord, if I have found favor in your sight, do not pass by your servant.
B) Let little water be brought, and wash your feet, and rest yourselves under the tree,
Central axis) while I bring a morsel of bread,
B) that you may refresh yourselves,
A) and after that you may pass on.
— Exodus 18:3-4
The A's are parallel in theme with "Pass by—Pass on." The B's match in theme with "rest yourselves— refresh yourselves." "C," at the center of all of them, reveals that this portion of the text focuses on the bread.
The next thing Abraham does is
Abraham ran to the herd and took a calf, tender and good, and gave it to a young man, who prepared it quickly.
— Exodus 18:7
We see here a sacrificial animal prepared. The prepared animal hints at a covenant style meal.
The Lord called Moses and spoke to him, saying, “Speak to the people of Israel and say to them, When any one of you brings an offering to the Lord, you shall bring your offering of livestock from the herd or from the flock. “If his offering is a burnt offering from the herd, he shall offer a male without blemish. He shall bring it to the entrance of the tent of meeting, that he may be accepted before the Lord.
— Leviticus 1:1-2
Ancient Near Easterners knew the covenant protocol long before Moses recorded it in Genesis. These patterns and practices were most likely established immediately in the fall with the animal skins God provided Adam and Eve. Abel appears to understand how this works when he brings a firstling of the flock to the altar.
It is at this time that the promise becomes more specific.
The Lord said, “I will surely return to you about this time next year, and Sarah your wife shall have a son.
— Genesis 18:10
So we see again a type of Passover with possibly unleavened bread made in haste and a sacrificial animal prepared for a meal.
Let it also be noted that this event is taking place in Hebron or Kiriath Arbah -the city of four. Recall four has to do with the development of something. From a chiastic perspective, this location is significant to our theme of passing over through or crossing over through, as this very place was a crossroads of two caravan routes.
In the book of Judges chapter six, as it involves Gideon, "the Angel of the Lord" appears to him, much as He did with Abraham. And we shall see the similar language and themes of a Passover used in the text. The narrative begins with a familiar pattern in the book of Judges.
And the children of Israel did evil in the sight of the Lord.
— Judges 6:1
The pattern goes that their enemies oppress them, and they cry out to the Lord in their distress. The Lord then raises up a Judge in Israel to rescue them. In this case, it will be Gideon. The Lord answers their cry with the following.
Thus saith the Lord God of Israel, I brought you up from Egypt, and brought you forth out of the house of bondage.
And I delivered you out of the hand of the Egyptians, and out of the hand of all that oppressed you, and drove them out from before you, and gave you their land; And I said unto you, I am the Lord your God; fear not the gods of the Amorites, in whose land ye dwell: but ye have not obeyed my voice.
— Judges 6:8 -10
He reminded them of the Passover that allowed them to pass through the sea and reminded them of how they got into this conflict in the first place. Interesting that God told them not to "fear" the gods of the land. Judges chapter five reveals how fearing is essentially worship.
They chose new gods; then was war in the gates.
— Judges 5:8
Who or what we choose to worship is what or who we fear.
And there came an angel of the Lord, and sat under an oak which was in Ophrah . . . And the angel of the Lord appeared unto him (Gideon), and said unto him, The Lord is with thee, thou mighty man of valour
— Judges 6:11
Where have we seen this before? Recall that "The angel of the Lord" appeared to Abraham at the oaks of Mamre. After a discussion and questioning with this "angel of the Lord" about his ability to fulfill it, Gideon is reassured that he indeed has been chosen for this mission with the understanding that he will not be doing this in his own strength.
And the Lord said unto him, Surely I will be with thee, and thou shalt smite the Midianites as one man.
— Judges 6:16
Gideon wants a sign concerning this, and, like Abraham, he must understand with whom he is talking.
Gideon went in, and made ready a kid, and unleavened cakes of an ephah of flour.
— Judges 6:19
"The other side" and "passing over" are mentioned relative to the battle and the small tribe's pursuit of the enemies who fled there. (7:25, 8:4)
Sodom Gomorrah and Lot Again
The scene shifts after the covenant meal
. . . the men set out from there, and they looked down toward Sodom. And Abraham went with them to set them on their way.
— Geneis 18:16
It is at this time that Abraham, knowing the judgment to come on Sodom and Gomorrah, that he begins to intercede for Lot, who lives there, by making a succession of pleas to spare the city for the sake of a righteous few?
The destruction is inevitable, but Lot is spared only on account of Abraham's intercession on his behalf. When the angels arrive to administer the destruction, they cannot destroy the city until they remove Lot. Lot is spared at Abraham's request.
Far be it from you to do such a thing, to put the righteous to death with the wicked, so that the righteous fare as the wicked! Far be that from you!
— Genesis 18:25
They arrive at Lot's house, which is in the city, recall when Lot (picture of the flesh) had camped right up next to Sodom without actually going in is now "in" the city. That's how that works. If you park up next to sin, you will more than likely end up in it, and just like Lot discovered, it ends in a lot of trouble.
Lot convinces the guests to stay with him rather than in the public square because he is concerned about the wickedness they may encounter. They initially refuse, but Lot urges them strongly, and they agree. Next, Lot prepares a meal for his guests, as Abraham did. This meal, too, has covenant overtones in its description.
. . . he made them a feast (mishteh—drink could be wine) and baked unleavened bread, and they ate.
— Genesis 19:3
Immediately following the Passover, exhibited by Abraham and the Exodus, came the Feast of Unleavened (sin free) Bread. There is also wine at this table. Folded within these narratives are the elements we find in Jesus Himself and all that He has done for us in rescuing delivering and saving us from a well-deserved judgment.
It is next recorded how Lot is dramatically rescued and delivered from this destruction of judgment, foreshadowing the dramatic deliverance that will occur in the Exodus narrative. These narratives also, importantly, foreshadow our Exodus and deliverance from "this world" and sin wrought by God's mighty outstretched arm through His One and Only Son, who was sacrificed for us. "Our Passover"
That is why it depends on faith, in order that the promise may rest on grace and be guaranteed to all his offspring—not only to the adherent of the law but also to the one who shares the faith of Abraham, who is the father of us all.
— Romans 4:16
The final chapter of the book of Joshua ties these concepts of "passing through" by God's "passing over," together with themes of God's promise to Abraham as well as with Moses and the Passover event.
After the children of Israel had entered the land and distributed to the tribes, Joshua gathered them together for some final instructions before he dies. He begins by recounting all that the Lord had passed them through. The summary will display what the chiastic structure of this portion of Scripture reveals. Matching the letters will show the parallels and point to the pivotal text. The lower case letters will reveal a "chiasm" within the larger chiasm.
A) And Joshua said unto all the people, Thus saith the Lord God of Israel, Your fathers dwelt on the other side of the flood (river) in old time, even Terah, the father of Abraham, and the father of Nachor: and they served other gods.
B) And I took your father Abraham from the other side of the flood (river), and led him throughout all the land of Canaan, and multiplied his seed, and gave him Isaac.
C) And I gave unto Isaac Jacob and Esau: and I gave unto Esau mount Seir, to possess it; but Jacob and his children went down into Egypt.
Central axis) I sent Moses also and Aaron, and I plagued Egypt, according to that which I did among them: and afterward I brought you out.
Central axis) And I brought your fathers out of Egypt: and ye came unto the sea; and the Egyptians pursued after your fathers with chariots and horsemen unto the Red sea.
And when they cried unto the Lord, he put darkness between you and the Egyptians, and brought the sea upon them, and covered them; and your eyes have seen what I have done in Egypt: and ye dwelt in the wilderness a long season.
C) a) And I brought you into the land of the Amorites, which dwelt on the other sideJordan; and they fought with you: and I gave them into your hand, that ye might possess their land; and I destroyed them from before you.
central axis) Then Balak the son of Zippor, king of Moab, arose and warred against Israel, and sent and called Balaam the son of Beor to curse you:
central axis) But I would not hearken unto Balaam; therefore he blessed you still: so I delivered you out of his hand.
a) And you went over Jordan, and came unto Jericho: and the men of Jericho fought against you, the Amorites, and the Perizzites, and the Canaanites, and the Hittites, and the Girgashites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites; and I delivered them into your hand.
And I sent the hornet before you, which drave them out from before you, even the two kings of the Amorites; but not with thy sword, nor with thy bow.
B) And I have given you a land for which ye did not labour, and cities which ye built not, and ye dwell in them; of the vineyards and oliveyards which ye planted not do ye eat.
A) Now therefore fear the Lord, and serve him in sincerity and in truth: and put away the gods which your fathers served on the other side of the flood, and in Egypt; and serve ye the Lord.
And if it seem evil unto you to serve the Lord, choose you this day whom ye will serve; whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the flood, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land ye dwell: but as for me and my house, we will serve theLord.
— Joshua 24:2-15
"The other side" refers to the place where we served other gods and did not worship the one and only true God, and yet it was the one and only true God who delivered, saved, and brought us through to the land of promise despite all the enemies and resistance. God Himself crossed through to the "other side" to be with us to do that.
With the "A's," If we view this chiastically with its parallels, we can see common themes of being on one side or the other and which god/God is served.
The B's" discuss topics of the promise God made Abraham the foundation of our faith, in both seed/descendants and land.
The "C's" pair up the established enemies in the land of promise, while the children of Israel were developing in Egypt and upon their return to the land.
The "D's" The central axis focus is that it is God who brings us out.
You may notice that the "A's" pair with "the other side of the Jordan," and both speak of possessing the land of promise. The central axis focuses on how God protected them in the process by refusing to curse them at Balaam's request, and he instead blesses them.
The chiasms reveal that what is most important in each narrative focuses on what God does in terms of our deliverance, passing through, and salvation to the "other side." He asks us in our conquering to focus upon Him and what He has done to be victorious. He is at the center of this revelation.
I will wrap this up with a bit of Hebrew word study as it concerns the Hebrew word "avar," meaning to pass through. There are three letters in this word ayin, bet, and "resh." The first two letters, "ayin" and "bet" together, spell the word meaning "threshold." The end two letters "bet" and "resh" spell the word meaning "chosen Son" The center letter "bet," shared by both words, is a picture of a house in pictograph terms. In this, we can see that the only way into the Father's house is across the threshold of the shed blood of His One and Only Chosen Son.
Seeing then that we have a great High Priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession.
— Hebrews 4:14
We might be surprised to learn that the concepts of "passing through blood" and a "threshold" or "door" are still practiced today in some Middle Eastern countries. In the 1980s, there was a movie titled "Not Without My Daughter" that depicted the real-life experience of a woman who married a man from Iran. Upon entering the home of her husband's family, a bird was killed, and the bloodline was drawn across the threshold of the door. To pass through the bloodline was a requirement for being accepted into the family.
Ancient ruins reveal that a basin historically was built right into the threshold of temples or homes for this very purpose.
I hope you enjoyed the insights of these patterns and themes that God has so intricately interwoven throughout the fabric of His Word that creates a stunning tapestry of revelation.
His Word is much like accounting. In accounting, numbers arrange in various ways to come up with equations that exactly agree with one another. God has done the same with His Word. He made it so we can't miss it.
The words of the Lord are pure words,
like silver refined in a furnace on the ground,
purified seven times.
— Psalm 12:6
© 2016 Tamarajo