Annual Feast of Archangel Saint Michael

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Eotcmk.org – Kassa Nigus – November 2016

Saint Michael is one of the seven primary Arch angels, who is always standing besides God’s throne and is honored for defeating Devil at God’s command (Rev.12:7-9). His powerful and fastest aid has always been invoked by the Church in time of emergency and unusual danger. He is the guardian of the souls and fighter against evil. He is often painted in the walls of every Ethiopian Church with a flaming sword and spear, which pierces the devil.

The Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahido Church celebrates the Feast of St. Michael on 12th day of each month of which two of them are great annual feasts of the saint – on Hidar 12 (November 21) and Senie 12 (June 19).
As such, this day (Hidar 12) in the Ethiopian Church is dedicated to “the Exodus of Israel from Egypt ” through the help of the Arch angle Michael as stated in (Ex. 14:19)

“And the angel of God, who went before the camp of Israel, moved and went behind them; and the pillar of the cloud went from before their face, and stood behind them”.

The Exodus is that the Israelites were delivered from bondage of slavery by the Lord God miraculously guiding by the pillar of cloud by day and the pillar of fire by night during their exodus from Egyptian bondage. This allowed them to travel by day and by night as God gave them the pillar of cloud by day to lead them in the way He wanted them to go and the pillar of fire by night to give light(Exodus 13:21–22).

Then, Israelites were delivered from bondage of slavery by the Lord God and therefore belong to him through the covenant as stated in (Deuteronomy 26:5-9) “the one who brought you up from the land of Egypt out of the house of bondage”. It tells of the slavery of the Israelites in Egypt following the death of Joseph, their departure under the leadership of Moses, the revelations at Sinai, and their wanderings in the wilderness up to the borders of the Promised Land, Canaan.

The history of Exodus trace back to Joseph. Joseph was sold by his jealous brothers to a caravan of Ishmaelite (Gen37:3). Then Joseph was taken to Egypt where he became a trusted slave in the house of Potiphar, an official of the Pharaoh, the second in his command.

In the course of time, a great famine occurred, so that persons from other countries came to Egypt to buy food, including Joseph’s brothers. Thus, under Joseph’s patronage Jacob moved into Egypt (Gen.46:1-47). Since then, the Israelites dwelt there and had grown to be a large people; the Egyptian Pharaoh of the time (who didn’t know Joseph ) feared their power. To control them he launched an official policy of oppression against them (Ex.1:22).

Thus, the Israelites lived in Egypt for 430 years under the ruthless oppression of Pharaohs’ reign (Exodus 12:40-41) as it was foretold to Abraham in a dream that his descendants would serve as slaves in a foreign land for 400 years (or 4 generations of priests (Genesis 15:12-16). It was recorded that the Israelites were forced to make mud bricks that were reinforced with straw.

Latter on God heard the lamentation of Israel and allow them to liberate. It surely was an awesome spectacle as thousands of Hebrews made their way from the land of Egypt toward the Red Sea, with Pharaoh’s army in hot pursuit. When the Israelites reached at Red sea, Moses, at God’s command, stretched out his rod over the sea as stated in (Ex 14:16) “But lift thou up thy rod, and stretch out your hand over the sea, and divide it and the children of Israel shall go on dry ground through the midst of the sea.”

By an amazing miracle, the waters parted and the multitude crossed on dry ground. When the Egyptians attempted to follow the Israelites, they were drowned as the walls of waters rushed back into their bed. In commenting upon this event, Moses wrote: “Thus the Lord saved Israel that day out of the hand of the Egyptians; and Israel saw the Egyptians dead upon the sea shore.” (Ex. 14:30).

According to (Exodus 12:37 – 38), during their departure, the Israelites numbered about six hundred thousand men on foot, besides women and children, plus many non-Israelites and livestock. Moses was 80 years old when he led the Israelites out of Egypt around 1446 B.C. (Holman Bible Dictionary, 1991, pp.451-7)

The exodus from Egypt was truly a landmark event in Old Testament history. It taught us much about God and his interest in humanity. As the Exodus in Old Testament was to Israel, the death and resurrection of Christ was to Christians of the New Testament. The significance of this event becomes more vivid when one compares it with a New Testament commentary regarding the incident.

St. Paul observes that the Hebrews “Brethren … all our fathers were under the cloud, and all passed through the sea; and were all baptized unto Moses in the cloud and in the sea” (1 Cor. 10:1-4); Rom. 6:3-4, 17; Gal. 3:27). Moreover, we have been learnt from Israel’s passage through the sea that “typifies our deliverance from the bondage of sin and of death through Christ by means of Christian baptism”.

• Holy Bible: The King James Version (1769).
• Holman Bible Dictionary, (1991, pp.451-7).

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