It is not very often that Easter Sunday immediate follows the Passover Seder. This year the Seder is Friday evening, and so this Easter is particularly special. The weather, though, has been weird, and today it is cold and rainy.
As I was driving today, running some last-minute errands, I was reminded of a new song I recently heard on Internet radio, “Eye of the Storm” by Ryan Stevenson. Today, as I drove and listened to this song, my thoughts were drawn to both Passover and Easter. You see, this Passover falls on Good Friday… and I realized that both of these days most certainly the eye of spiritual storms raging behind the scenes of very real historical events.
What is the eye of a storm?
According to Wikipedia, the eye of a storm is a roughly circular area, typically 30–65 km (20–40 miles) in diameter. It is surrounded by the eyewall, a ring of towering thunderstorms where the most severe weather and highest winds occur. Put simply, it is an incredible calm while all hell is literally breaking lose around you.
The chorus of Ryan Stevenson’s song goes:
“n the eye of the storm, You remain in control, and in the middle of the war, You guard my soul. You alone are the anchor, when my sails are torn. Your love surrounds me, in the eye of the storm.
These words have so ministered to me in recent weeks as I have considered the raging foes of Israel that surround us, and my own spiritual battles. Oh yes, my Lord Yeshua is indeed my anchor…
The storms surrounding Israel
I really don’t know if you are following the news, but a lot has been happening lately. Massive preparations are underway to celebrate Israel’s 70th birthday. For Jewish people, and in the Tanakh (Old Testament) the number 70 holds special significance. (Not my focus, so please read about it elsewhere). There have been missiles lobbed at Israel’s southern border on and off for weeks now. In the north, there have been some issues with Syria. Palestinians are planning demonstrations to mark what for them marks the day of disaster (Nakba), marking the establishment of the State of Israel.
So, you can imagine, as I listened to this song, how the words spoke to me literally, “in the middle of the war, You guard my soul.” I do not know what the coming months will bring, but the peace currently being experienced in Israel seems to me to quite literally the eye of a storm. Sooner or later, things are going to start happening. But God, my God who is also the God of Israel—remains in control.
The storm that surrounded the Jewish people
But this is not the first time that the Jewish people were in the eye of a storm. What about that first Passover night? The climax of God’s plagues against the recalcitrant Egyptians was played out that night. And while the Jewish people sacrificed the Passover lamb, and used hyssop to paint their doorposts with its shed blood, unbelieving onlookers watched, noted, and most likely understood nothing. Just those strange people doing strange things again.
But that night, the Jewish people ate and slept in safety while the firstborn of their enemies were slain and Egypt was brought to its knees.
The eye of the storm began to move out and the raging of their foes began, like torrents of pounding rain and fierce winds. By the time the nation stood by Red Sea, hemmed in with no where to go, the storm seemed impossible. But God was always in control, and never stopped being in control. Moses obeyed God, raised his staff over the waters, and the sea parted. The children of Israel passed through on dry ground.
At Passover, we always sing a song that reveals God’s control as the storms rage around us, V’he She’amda
And this is that (promise) which sustained
our fathers and us.
That it is not one (enemy) alone
that stood up against us to destroy us.
But that in each generation there are those
standing up against us to destroy us.
But the Holy One Blessed Be He
saves us from their hand.
And so, as we celebrate Passover, we have a strong reminder to trust in the God of Israel to protect us now, as He has always done.
The Good Friday storm
Nearly 2,000 years later, Yeshua was also in a storm. The tradition and wonder of that last supper shared with His disciples tasted of sorrow yet was surrounded by peace. They were in the eye of a storm.
Yeshua spoke wonderful words of comfort in John 13-17, and warned Peter of what would happen, but saying that He was praying for him. When Yeshua and the disciples left for the Garden of Gethsemane, they sang songs of praise (Matthew 26:30). And as they walked to the garden, the storm was moving in on them.
Yeshua would ask His disciples to watch and pray. But while Yeshua wept and cried out to God, anticipating the horror of what was to come, His friends slept. As Yeshua prayed, “Father, not my will, but yours be done,” His enemies approached and He was betrayed.
The storms unleashed fury fell on Yeshua all and who loved Him and Good Friday marks His death and burial in a stone-sealed tomb. What would follow would be endless hours of hopeless grief. No one really understood or believed that Yeshua would be raised from the dead.
But God was always in control. He was allowing this storm for His own purposes. In fact, in I Corinthians 2:8 I am reminded, “None of the rulers of this age [including Satan] knew this [God’s] wisdom, for if they had known it, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory.” The devil and the religious and political leaders of that time thought they were in control. The disciples thought Yeshua had lost control—but the truth is, there is only ONE who is in control at all times and in all places—God, the creator of the universe, and of you and me.
God controls every part of the storm
The above thoughts are the bedrock for my comfort, as Ryan Stevenson’s song reminded me. If God is in control of the eye of the storm, if His peace is there with me, and I have the moment of respite there—then He is also with me in the storm itself. The song of birds at the end of the song reveals the hope we have—for rescue, for resurrection.
I do not know what your situation is as you approach these holidays. I don’t know what storms you are facing or what wars are threatening your heart. Mine are many at times; fears within, fears without. Do I rest in what I feel and see, or in the One whom I know to be true.
By His grace, I will rest in Him, and be thankful for the peace I have in the eye of the storms I face, knowing that He will bring me through. He will bring you through too, as you place your trust in Him.
May you have a blessed Passover and Easter!
Now to Him who is able to keep you from stumbling, and to make you stand in the presence of His glory blameless with great joy, to the only God our Savior, through Yeshua Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen. Jude 24-25