Rodion Samoilovich: Everything would be fine if it were not for Joseph’s grave …

As we approach Passover, let’s remember how Israel got to Egypt. Recently I heard an interesting thought that everything that is bad and leads us to death – it all seems very attractive and good. And for our people in Egypt, the situation was very attractive. Imagine, there is hunger everywhere, and they go to Egypt, get better land to feed sheep; the second person after Pharaoh is their brother, with whom they have established a relationship. What could be better? To have such connections, to have such a land! And initially this prospect was very good. So for us, a sin that brings us some kind of joy and pleasure, solves our problems at some stage, may seem really good …

What do the bones of Joseph have in common with the sacrifice of the Messiah?

And everything would be good for the Jews … if it were not for Joseph’s grave! When Joseph died, he gave the commandment: “When you leave, take my bones with you” (see Ex. 50:25). Why is it important? Because when they were doing well, Joseph’s grave was a reminder that it won’t always be this way. His death was, as it were, prophetic and reminded that they would leave Egypt. And when everything was bad for them, the same bones of Joseph for them became a prophecy of the hope that they would leave here.

Remember this good advice from the rabbi, when a man came to him and said: “Everything is bad, I have no work, the children do not obey, the wife grumbles.” And the rabbi says: “Write a sign “It won’t always be this way” and hang it on the door.” After a while, a man comes back to the rabbi again and says: “Rebbe, everything has changed, everything is fine, I found a job, my wife began to respect and love me, the children obey …” And the rabbi asks: “What about the sign?” – “Rebbe, well, I took off the sign.” And the rabbi replies: “Listen, hang it back.”

Mizraim (Egypt) is a type of the world that surrounds us. And it is very important that the sacrifice of the Messiah reminds us that we will not always be here. We, as believers, must live with an eye to the Exodus, to eternity. And you must admit that it is very difficult to constantly keep focused on the eternity. Everything that captivates us for a while seems very attractive, especially when it comes to sin. We need to make an effort to break out of this captivity every day. This captivity, which followed Israel for a long time, tempting it to return back, is what we are fighting against and must fight against it to this very day. This does not mean that we need to get out of this world altogether. But it was in this world that Yeshua asked God and said: “Keep them from evil” (John 17:15). And the essence of this evil is to make us captives, hostages of this world and hostages of circumstances.

Where are we heading to?

Let’s take a look at 15 chapter of 1st Corinthians:

“If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are of all people most to be pitied. But Christ has indeed been raised from the dead, the firstfruitsof those who have fallen asleep.  For since death came through a man, the resurrection of the dead comes also through a man” (1 Cor. 15: 19-21)

The theme of the resurrection from the dead should be our focus. For what? What do we believe for? Why should we make an effort? Why should we overcome certain circumstances in our lives? After all, faith in God is, in one way or another, an effort, a struggle, our inner and personal correction. If we hope that the Messiah will help us only in this life, and our aim in life does not go beyond the boundaries of our life – beyond death – then Scripture says that we are more unhappy than all other people. Why? Because in one way or another we will be faced with the fact that we have to sacrifice or refuse something. And if there is no resurrection, then it turns out that we have no reason to do this.

Chapter 15 of 1 Corinthians tells us that not all believers believed in the resurrection:

“But if it is preached that Christ has been raised from the dead, how can some of you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? If there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised.  And if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith.  More than that, we are then found to be false witnesses about God, for we have testified about God that he raised Christ from the dead. But he did not raise him if in fact the dead are not raised.… ”(1 Cor. 15: 12-15)

We see that the resurrection of the dead – that is, our resurrection with you – should play an important role. But I have seen a huge number of people who came to God only so that He would bless them in this life, only for the sake of solving temporary problems.

Now we are approaching Passover, towards redemption, towards the exit from Mizraim into eternal salvation. And therefore, more than ever, it makes sense for us to renew the eyes of our faith and to think about what we believed for. Let’s read it again:

“If there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised. And if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith. . ” (1 Cor. 15: 13-14)

If we do not believe in our resurrection, then our faith is in vain. And not only is faith in vain, but the ministry of preaching is also in vain. In other words, faith loses all meaning. I have seen a huge number of sermons that talk about solving problems in the present, and I myself probably preach most often about how faith solves our temporary problems. But faith in the resurrection is faith in what will happen in the future.

If you look at the Church today, what holidays does it celebrate? The birth of the Messiah is a good holiday, it is the fulfillment of the prophecies given by God to Israel about when the Messiah will be born and come. Passover is a good holiday associated with atonement. The Pentecost is a good feast of the descent of the Holy Spirit. But those holidays that indicate the future, I celebrated and heard mainly only in the Jewish messianic communities. These are Yom Troah, Yom Kippur and Sukkot. These are holidays with an eye to the future, with an eye to the coming of the Messiah, to judgment and to the millennial kingdom on earth. These holidays return meaning to our lives – something for which we fight. Because everything that we have today, and that which seems important to us, is temporary.

Communicating with ministers, I hear different things: “My children are my ministry. My work is my ministry to God. ” But when we come to heaven, when we are resurrected, what will the Lord praise us for? Will He say: “Well done you good and faithful servant, that you went to work and earned money for yourself and for your family”? Our whole life should be focused on the eternal, because the temporary will end sooner or later.

Why did we leave Egypt?

Let’s take the example of guys undergoing rehabilitation. When God frees from drugs, gives freedom, many begin to make new goals in life: “Now I need to improve my health. Now I have to go to work and get married. ” I saw a huge number of people who, making such a decision, without linking their lives with serving God, and they returned back to Egypt, to the world.

Returning to the topic of leaving Egypt, let’s think: What was this exodus for? When Moses came to Pharaoh, he said:

“Let My people go to serve Me in the wilderness.” (Ex. 7:16)

And so they left Egypt, and they went to meet the Lord and came to Mount Sinai. And what kind of ministry did they do there, in our understanding? They met with God. The Lord came supernaturally to Mount Sinai in fire, in a trumpet sound, the people were very much frightened and experienced a very strong God’s presence. When Moses rose, God gave him commandments, gave him a strategy on how to build life within Israel, how to build a ministry. And this first meeting, as it were, accumulated their fear, their faith and their meaning in life. This did not happen for everyone, but many understood exactly why they left Egypt – not only in order to go to Canaan. But God still needed to shape their attitude of life for 40 years so that they would understand that they went out not only for the sake of the land that flows with honey and milk. God said: “When you come and forget about me …” He constantly, because of His faithfulness, returned His people to an eternal meaning, to a relationship with Himself.

Let this time be for us the time of the return of our life to the eternal meaning, that is, to the fact that our life takes on eternal meaning today, so that we understand where we are going and moving.

Where to get strength for service?

Let’s go back to Paul, he says:

“But by the grace of God I am what I am; and His grace in me was not in vain, but I worked harder than all of them: not me, however, but the grace of God, which is with me. ” (1 Cor. 15:10)

We know that Yeshua, by grace, died for everyone. His death was also grace. I think that the realization of the eternal in our lives gives supernatural strength in order for us to strive and invest our lives into eternity. And the eternity is what is associated with serving God.

It turns out that the death of the Messiah can be the source of the revelation of God’s power and grace. Remember, Yeshua said: “If anyone wants to follow Me, deny yourself, and take up your cross (your death), and follow Me.” In fact, the cross is when we die to our desires, to our goals, and make God’s will a priority for our lives. On the one hand, this is death, but, on the other hand, the power of resurrection begins to unfold and act in our lives, in our destinies. And this is what you might call grace.

I think Paul really worked hard and did a lot because, as he once said:

“For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and him crucified.” (1 Cor. 2: 2)

Paul drew eternal meaning precisely from what happened at Calvary, from the fact that the Mashiach died and was resurrected. For him, this became a source of special strength and grace for serving Him. And he said:

“Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. ” (Phil. 3:12)

And further:

“Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. ”(1 Cor. 9:24)

His life was aimed at eternity. All the apostles gave their temporary life and changed it to eternal. They understood what an eternal reward was and for them it was real. And this is what distinguished the first believers from all other generations, who later, unfortunately, began to make temporary life a goal.

Death is not the end!

I pray today that at this time of Passover God will return this eternal meaning to us, renew the joy of our salvation, renew the joy of eternal redemption!

And as a bonus, of course, God wants to bless us on this path, to give us everything so that we can reach in faith in our Messiah, in the faith that He really died and rose again, to the end, so that we can be resurrected. The death is not the end for the believers.

The Egyptians clutched at the afterlifeto have at least some hope that after death there would be something else. The whole culture of Egypt was built in this way: they buried mummies so that they would not decompose. They came up with a religion of necromancy, which is tied to the other world. But we, friends, believe in the resurrection! And this is what really gives meaning to our lives!

By Rodion Samoilovich, Rabbi of the Jewish Messianic Community, Cologne, Germany / SchomerTV