This week, we are actually celebrating, not one, not two, but three distinct holidays:
Passover, the Feast of Unleavened Bread, and the Day of First Fruits.
These three festivals speak of three stages of salvation: justification, sanctification and glorification.
Yeshua has already fulfilled all three. Now it's our turn!
As Romans 6:5 says, "If we have been united with [Messiah] like this in his death,
we will certainly also be united with him in his resurrection."
Turn to Leviticus 23.
Pesach begins on the 14th of Nisan, the first month, as it is written:
5 The LORD's Passover begins at twilight on the fourteenth day of the first month.
It is immediately followed by Chag HaMatzot, the Feast of Unleavened Bread:
6 On the fifteenth day of that month the LORD's Feast of Unleavened Bread begins;
for seven days you must eat bread made without yeast.
So what's the deal? Does it start on the 14th or the 15th of Nisan?
Exodus 12:6 provides some clarification: "Take care of them [i.e., the Passover lambs,
which were brought into each Israelite home on the 10th of Nisan, for four days]
until the fourteenth day of the month, when all the people of the community of Israel
must slaughter them at twilight."
So the Paschal lamb was slaughtered at the end of the 14th day, shortly before twilight.
It was then roasted and eaten than night, the evening of the 15th day.
The evening of the 15th day is now known as Erev Pesach and the beginning of Chag HaMatzot.
Indeed, the whole week of the Feast of Unleavened Bread is known as Passover.
This bit of background can help us understand John 19:14 (you may want to turn there):
KJV: "And it was the preparation of the Passover, and about the sixth hour:
and Pilate said unto the Jews, Behold your King!"
Some have wondered whether John is saying that the condemnation of Yeshua
thus took place before Passover (and thus contradict the synoptic gospels--
which indicate that Yeshua celebrated the Passover with his disciples the evening before)
In this case, the NIV gives a better translation of the Greek words "paraskeue tou pascha":
14 "It was the day of Preparation of Passover Week, about the sixth hour."
The "preparation" was and is a Jewish idiom referring to the day before the Shabbat or festival,
since no work is to be done on the holy day itself.
Here's the JNT translation: "It was about noon on Preparation Day of Pesach."
I.e., "the preparation of the Passover week" is simply the Friday of Passover week.
David Stern notes, "This particular Preparation Day was also the first day of Pesach."
Thus, according to this reading, the Pachal lambs were slain in the Temple Thursday afternoon,
Yeshua celebrated the Passover with this disciples Thursday night,
and his trial, condemnation and crucifixion took place Friday or "Preparation Day."
Gleason Archer suggests that the lambs for each household were slaughtered on the 14thAXS Nisan.
Another lamb was sacrificed, for the whole nation, on the 15th--while Yeshua died on the tree.
Pesach, the first festival of the Jewish calendar, commemorates the deliverance of Israel
by the blood of the Lamb, whose blood was spread on the doorposts of their houses.
It also commemorates the deliverance of all people who put their trust in the blood of the Lamb,
whose blood was poured on the crossbeams of a Roman execution stake.
The blood of the Paschal lamb told the angel of death that he must "pass over" these houses--
thus the sons of Israel were redeemed.
The blood of the Messiah tells the angel of death that he must "pass over" our bodies--
thus the children of God are redeemed.
The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world brings justification
to those who put their trust in the atoning power of his blood.
As Romans 5:9 says, "Since we have now been justified by his blood,
how much more shall we be saved from God's wrath through him!"
Justification means that God accepts you, as you are, declaring that are just or righteous
not by any effort of your own, but by Yeshua's atoning sacrifice for your sake.
Have you put your trust in the blood of the Lamb to atone for all of your sins?
As Paul says in Acts 13:38-39, "My brothers, I want you to know that through Yeshua
the forgiveness of sins is proclaimed to you. Through him everyone who believes
is justified from everything you could not be justified from by the law of Moses."
Note that Sha'ul says that "everyone who believes is justified from everything."
This covers everything--all your sins, past, present and future!
After all, all your sins were future when Yeshua died.
Yeshua's death on the cross stands outside of time, applying eternally to all our sins.
Thus 1 John 2:2 is able to declare that "He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins,
and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world."
So every day you can confess your sins, because his one sacrifice is sufficient for you! Dayenu!
1 John 1:9 promises, "If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just
and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness."
It works! Every time! Amen! Hallelujah!
Chag HaMatztot, the seven day Feast of Unleavened Bread which begins on Erev Passover,
is a week of sanctification, being especially set apart for G-d, to be holy as he is holy.
It is a time for putting away leaven or hametz and keeping it out of lives.
What does hametz symbolize? Sin or pride, because it puffs up our bread and cake.
In 1 Cor 5:7, Rav Sha'ul says:
"Get rid of the old yeast (hametz) that you may be a new batch without hametz--
as you really are. For Messiah, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed.
Therefore let us keep the Festival, not with the old hametz, the hametz of malice andwickedness, but with bread without hametz, the matzah of sincerity and truth."
If hametz is sin, then what does matzah symbolize? Purity: a sanctified life.
On the day before Passover, like may other Jewish families,
Pamela led Adam and Abigail in a search for any remaining hametz in our house.
We searched by candle light, looking carefully for one piece at a time.
What does this careful search for hametz teach us?
Ps 139: 23 Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts.
24 See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.
Sanctification is something that God does in us, when we yield to His Spirit:
So in Philippians 2:12, the apostle urges us to "continue to work out your salvation
with fear and trembling,
for it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose."
God in Messiah is working to bring about sanctification, for I cannot make myself holy.
Nevertheless, I must cooperate, by continuing to work out my salvation.
And the starting point for getting my will in gear is what the Bible calls "the fear of the Lord."
Proverbs 16:6, declares, "By the fear of the Lord men depart from evil."
Sin has consequences, and every one of us will give an account of all our deeds to God.
Imagine yourself before the throne of God, having to give an account for every thing you did,
every idle word you spoke...
Thanks be to God, Proverbs 16:6 also says "through love and faithfulness sin is atoned for."
Whose love? Yeshua's! Messiah's love covers a multitude of sins!
"Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow."
As Hebrews 10:13 says, "by one sacrifice he has made perfect forever those who are being made holy."
Nevertheless, I must continue to work out my salvation with fear and trembling.
The Holy Spirit recently showed me walking toward a precipice.
I was stumbling around, taking one step forward, two steps back.
If I didn't watch out, like an ox I could fall ponderously over the edge.
Or I could turn around and walk away from that precipice, in freedom, forever.
The Holy Spirit was warning me against complacency about sin and sinful habits of thinking.
True, thanks be to God, I have been experiencing victory over the besetting sin of anger and
resentment, actually with good fruit in my relationship with my parents.
I've shared about how he taught me that when my Mom says something that gets under my skin,
I can turn the other cheek. I don't have to react in kind, I can respond in love.
But there is still a simmering within me that boils over a bit when things don't go my way.
This won't do, the Holy Spirit was saying to my soul. This won't do any longer!
The Holy Spirit wants to bless me, bless all of us, much more!
A new thing, new life, new souls for the Kingdom!
Yet he holds back many wonderful blessings so long as I indulge my flesh.
I'll tell you, these quiet words pricked my soul.
"The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom."
O Lord, give me more of the fear of the Lord!
How I yearn to be completely free of all that old crud that clings to me,
so that the freshness of Spirit and your promises would flow through me!
That's why he says, in 1 Thessalonians 5:21-23, "Test everything. Hold on to the good.
Avoid every kind of evil. May God himself, the God of peace,
sanctify you through and through. May your whole spirit, soul and body
be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Messiah Yeshua."
Do you want to kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Messiah Yeshua?
Does Chag HaMatzot speak of sanctification to you?
What does sanctification mean to you?
Tomorrow is Yom HaRaysheet, The Day of First Fruits.
It's described in Leviticus 23:10:
"Say to the people of Israel, When you come into the land which I give you and reap its harvest,
you shall bring the sheaf of the first fruits of your harvest to the priest;
11 and he shall wave the sheaf before the LORD, that you may find acceptance;
on the morrow after the sabbath the priest shall wave it.
12 And on the day when you wave the sheaf, you shall offer a male lamb
a year old without blemish as a burnt offering to the LORD."
On this day, Israel was to bring an omer raysheet--a sheaf of firstfruits--to the priest.
The word raysheet is related to the root word rosh--Does this word sound familiar?
Hint: there's another Jewish holiday with this word in it? Rosh Hashana.
Rosh means head or first; raysheet means the first of creation.
In fact, the first word in the Bible is b'raysheet, in the beginning,
or at the head or first of creation.
So this day of first fruits is a reminder of the head or first of creation and re-creation.
Who is the head or first of all creation? Messiah Yeshua: the Word of God,
through whom all was made and all is being restored. Hallelujah!
The raysheet was unleavened, in fact it was standing barley freshly cut down by a sickle
Again we see that the first firstfruits--raysheet--is Messiah, unleavened, sinless and pure.
Turn now to 1Corinthians 15:20 -- here's where first fruits gets really exciting!
20 "But in fact Messiah has been raised from the dead,
the first fruits of those who have fallen asleep. 21 For as by a man came death,
by a man has come also the resurrection of the dead. 22 For as in Adam all die,
so also in Messiah shall all be made alive. 23 But each in his own order:
Messiah the first fruits, then at his coming those who belong to Messiah."
Now Rav Sha'ul was thoroughly familiar with the services of the Temple, so when he said
"first fruits" you can be sure he was alluding to the firstfruits ordained by Torah
Who is the firstfruits of the resurrection?
And each in his order: Messiah the first fruits, then at his coming again
"all those who belong to Messiah."
Thus Yom HaRaysheet speaks of the third stage of our salvation: glorification.
Yeshua has gone to glory before us and given us the hope of glory.
If sanctification is hard sometimes, hang in there, the end is in sight!
Romans 8:19 says that "The creation waits in eager expectation for the sons of God to be revealed....
and "brought into the glorious freedom of the children of God."
23 "Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly
as we wait eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies.
24 For in this hope we were saved. "
The promise of Yom HaRaysheet has begun, by the work of the Ruach HaKodesh in our lives.
The fulfillment of this promise, this hope, is yet to come.
Romans 8:25 "But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently."
In Colossians 1:18, Sha'ul describes Messiah Yeshua as "the head of the body, the church;
he is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead,
so that in everything he might have the supremacy."
And in Romans 8:29, Rav Sha'ul says that God is conforming us to the image of Messiah,
so that he, the Messiah, might be "the firstborn among many brothers."
The significance of 'firstborn' is that he is pre-eminent, the head, rosh, raysheet
The first of the firstfruits is the raysheet, the head, the beginning of the firstborn,
exalted among his brothers -- with whom He graciously shares his glory!
In everything, let Yeshua be first and head and supreme! Amen?
I thought this would be a good time to set the Lord's Table, what do you think?
As we do, let's remember what He has done for us.
He has already gone the whole mile for us: working our justification on the cross,
our sanctification in the grave, and our glorification with him in the resurrection!
As Romans 6:5 says, "If we have been united with him like this in his death,
we will certainly also be united with him in his resurrection."
And it continues: 10 "The death he died, he died to sin once for all;
but the life he lives, he lives to God.
11 In the same way, count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Messiah Yeshua.
12 Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its evil desires."
Before you partake, remember these things.
Ask the Spirit to search you and know your heart, and to teach you the fear of the Lord.
Then come to the His table with confidence,
for He who began a good work in you shall be faithful to complete it, gloriously!