My last post detailed my journey into Judaism while yet remaining a Christian. I am particularly aware of that journey today–the quiet, peaceful Sabbath before we celebrate Resurrection Day tomorrow. I live in two worlds today: the Christian world of observing this day as the day my Savior had been crucified and buried and was preparing to rise again tomorrow and the Jewish world of the first full day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread as we prepare to celebrate the Feast of Firstfruits tomorrow.
For many years, I felt alone in my interest of merging these two worlds into a fuller Christian experience. My mother’s sister, Aunt Darlene, had begun to walk this path long before I did, and what an encouragement she was to me when everyone else thought I was crazy!
One thing that was a disadvantage to me when I began to study Judaism was the fact that some people who had been loyal members of our very large church began studying it independently of me. They went so far as to say that we must keep all of the feasts, men must be circumcised, the Torah must be strictly adhered to. These people that I loved ended up leaving our church and striking out on their own.
Naturally, that made the leadership at my church look on me with suspicion whenever my studies were mentioned. It was a tough row to hoe for a while, but I never stopped, because I WAS CALLED OF GOD TO DO IT.
Thankfully, when we began our own church in my hometown, we were free to teach on these things, and the church members were hungry for the knowledge. We introduced them to the great Hebrew teacher and scholar of Christianity and Judaism, Dr. Karl Coke, who had been introduced to me by Aunt Darlene, and he began holding monthly teaching sessions at our church. What a blessing he was to us!
I am no longer with that church, nor are any of the original members, but they have almost all gone on even further into studying Jewish culture, Hebrew, Torah and the Feasts of the Lord. What began as a seemingly small thing keeps being multiplied and spreading farther and farther abroad!
The danger with studying these Jewish things (or rather, things of the Lord) is that the enemy of our souls would like to pervert the focus. If he sees that he can’t stop a Christian from studying holy things, then his next best tactic is to subtly slide in with less visible trickery. He will try to bring Christians back into legalism. If we were just going to continue to observe the Old Testament law as our means of salvation, then why did we need Jesus (Yahushua)?
Yes, He preached Torah and he fulfilled Torah. But the apostle Paul rightly interpreted the Messiah’s approach to law vs. grace. Paul was firm when he taught the early churches that Gentile Christians did not have to be circumcised or follow the Jewish dietary laws.
“Are ye so foolish? having begun in the Spirit, are ye now made perfect by the flesh?” he asked the Galatians.
So I believe satan has two main tactics when it comes to the modern-day church studying the Feasts of the Lord, Torah, etc.: either make them think it’s something they shouldn’t mess with at all or make them think they have to become legalistic and abide back under the law.
There is a beautiful middle ground where we still live by grace yet we are blessed by a greater understanding of the Feasts of the Lord and a study of Jewish culture and heritage. Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the law (Galatians 3:13), but He didn’t do anything about the blessing. If we observe the Feasts, there is a great blessing in that. If we keep Jewish dietary regulations, we are blessed as well (and healthier).
But let’s don’t put heavy burdens on the Gentile church for them to bear. However, let’s quit denying the fact that our Messiah was a Jew and that we are grafted into that heritage. I can see in the Spirit how God is attempting to bring this last day church into a purer state–showing us the old paths once more, opening up old knowledge that has too long been ignored.
Whether we like it or not (I personally love it), Israel plays a very real role in our Christian lives. One day all nations will go up to Jerusalem to celebrate the Feast of Tabernacles. Shouldn’t we start practicing now?
Here is a teaching I did Thursday night, April 5, 2012 at the Walnut Cove Public Library. We finished up our studies of Passover that we had started last week (video posted in last blog post) and moved on to the Feast of Unleavened Bread and the Feast of Firstfruits. Beneath the YouTube video link is the information I disseminated in handout form to the class. If you need the Passover handout info, go back to my last WordPress post and see the end of it.
Hope you enjoy learning the symbolism in our Easter weekend as seen through the lens of the Feasts of the Lord!
FEAST OF UNLEAVENED BREAD
What are the characteristics of the feast? (**outlined in Exodus 12)
Celebrated in the first Jewish month for 7 days: Abib 15-21
–comes on the heels of Passover which is Abib 14
–v. 18: “In the first month, on the fourteenth day of the month at even, ye shall eat unleavened bread, until the one and twentieth day of the month at even.”
Only unleavened bread could be eaten for the entire week
–v. 15: “Seven days shall ye eat unleavened bread. . .”
First and last days were to be sabbaths
–v. 16: “And in the first day there shall be an holy convocation, and in the seventh day there shall be an holy convocation to you; no manner of work shall be done in them, save that which every man must eat, that only may be done of you.”
Commemorates the leaving of Egypt (bondage) for the Promised Land (freedom)
–v. 17: “And ye shall observe the feast of unleavened bread; for in this selfsame day have I brought your armies out of the land of Egypt: therefore shall ye observe this day in your generations by an ordinance for ever.”
–had to leave so quickly there was no time for bread to rise
–v. 34: “And the people took their dough before it was leavened, their kneadingtroughs being bound up in their clothes upon their shoulders.”
–v. 39: “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.”
All leaven must be removed from Jewish homes
–v. 19: “Seven days shall there be no leaven found in your houses: for whosoever eateth that which is leavened, even that soul shall be cut off from the congregation of Israel, whether he be a stranger, or born in the land.”
How does the feast parallel our salvation?
Once lamb’s blood had been put on the door of the home, no leaven could be found or eaten
–Once Jesus’ blood is applied to our hearts, no sin can be left within
–I Cor. 5:7-8: “Purge out therefore the old leaven, that ye may be a new lump, as ye are unleavened. For even Christ our passover is sacrificed for us: Therefore let us keep the feast, not with old leaven, neither with the leaven of malice and wickedness; but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.”
Leaven: agent that makes bread rise: even a tiny bit left will affect the bread
–compares to sin which inflates us with pride and hot air
–I Cor. 5:6: “Your glorying is not good. Know ye not that a little leaven leaveneth the whole lump?”
–even a little sin is harmful to us
–Jesus said that a woman hid some leaven in 3 measures of meal (@7 gallons) and it leavened the whole thing! (Matt. 13:33, Luke 13:21)
–Jesus compared leaven to faulty or arrogant doctrine
–Matt. 16:6, 12: “Then Jesus said unto them, Take heed and beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and of the Sadducees. . .Then understood they how that he bade them not beware of the leaven of bread, but of the doctrine of the Pharisees and. . .Sadducees.”
–some people cannot receive a healing (physical or mental)
–they have kept sin in their lives (blocks healing)
–right after He told us we could have what we ask, He says we must forgive–Mark 11:25– “And when ye stand praying, forgive. . .”
Jesus IS the 3 things that must be eaten at the feast
–lamb: He was our Passover lamb that was slain
–unleavened bread: John 6:35– “Jesus said unto them, I am the bread of life.”
–Matt. 26:26: “Jesus took bread, and blessed it, and brake it, and gave it to the disciples, and said, Take, eat; this is my body.”
–He had no sin (leaven): I Pet. 2:22– “Who did no sin”
–bitter herbs: representative of His suffering and death (we, too, must die to ourselves)
Unleavened bread: used for 5 purposes in the OT
–consecration of priests (Ex. 29:1-2)
–we are priests unto Him (I Pet. 2:9)
–vows of separation (Num. 6:1-19)
–we must vow a vow to separate from the world–NO LEAVEN!
–priestly anointing (Lev. 2:4-5)
–we need the anointing of God to minister in power
–call to service, as when Gideon was chosen (Judges 6:19-21)
–when we are called to service, we must evaluate our lives
–representation of freedom from bondage (Ex. 12:17)
–sin is a bondage that we MUST leave behind to be free
Jewish fathers lead the entire family to search for remaining leaven before Passover meal
–Paul said to examine our lives similarly before taking part in communion (I Cor. 11:28)
If leaven was found in a home, it must be burned
–we must be purged which literally meant “to set on fire and destroy”
–we are tried by fire to get rid of sin (Zech. 13:9)
Leaven is the key ingredient in bread
–puffed-up pride is the base of every sin
–Satan used pride as the first recorded temptation (Gen. 3:5)
Jewish custom at the seder has 3 pieces of unleavened bread (matzah) on the table
–middle piece is broken, put in a white linen napkin and hidden; child that finds it gets a special
–called the afikomen: “that which comes after; He came”
–represents Jesus who was broken for us, wrapped in graveclothes and hidden in a tomb; He was resurrected that we may find Him and receive gifts of Him
–Eph. 4:8: “Wherefore he saith, When he ascended up on high, he led captivity captive, and gave gifts unto men.”
FEAST OF FIRSTFRUITS
What are the characteristics of the Feast? **(per Lev. 23:9-14)
Called Reishit Katzir (beginning of the harvest)
–the barley harvest (first one of the year)
Considered, along with the Feast of Unleavened Bread, as part of Passover
Commanded by God to be celebrated when Israel entered the Promised Land
–Lev. 23:9-10: “And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying, Speak unto the children of Israel, and say unto them, When ye be come into the land which I give unto you and shall reap the harvest thereof. . .”
Consisted of bringing a sheaf of the firstfruits of the harvest to the priest
–Lev. 23:10: “. . .then ye shall bring a sheaf of the firstfruits of your harvest unto the priest”
The priest then waved the sheaf before the Lord
–Lev. 23:11: “And he shall wave the sheaf before the LORD, to be accepted for you. . .”
This was to be done on the morning after the sabbath during Passover
–Lev. 23:11: “. . .on the morrow after the sabbath the priest shall wave it.”
A first-year lamb with no blemish must be offered the same day as a burnt offering
–Lev. 23:12: “And ye shall offer that day when ye wave the sheaf an he lamb without blemish of the first year for a burnt offering unto the LORD.”
Additional offerings included wine, plus fine flour mixed with oil
–Lev. 23:13: “And the meat offering thereof shall be two tenth deals of fine flour mingled with oil, an offering made by fire unto the LORD for a sweet savour: and the drink offering thereof shall be of wine, the fourth part of an hin.”
No harvest food could be eaten until the firstfruits were eaten
–Lev. 23:14: “And ye shall eat neither bread, nor parched corn, nor green ears, until the selfsame day that ye have brought an offering unto your God. . .”
Keeping the Feast of Firstfruits was a commandment forever
–Lev. 23:14: “it shall be a statute for ever throughout your generations in all your dwellings.”
After the offering, Jews began counting 50 days, leading up to Shavuot (Feast of Weeks, Pentecost)
–Lev. 23:15-16: “And ye shall count unto you from the morrow after the sabbath, from the day that ye brought the sheaf of the wave offering; seven sabbaths shall be complete: Even unto the morrow after the seventh sabbath shall ye number fifty days; and ye shall offer a new meat offering unto the LORD.”
How does the Feast parallel our salvation?
It is part 3 of our salvation process
–PART 1: Passover–the Lamb’s blood is applied to our hearts as we leave Egypt (the world) to head to the Promised Land (freedom and blessings in Christ)
–PART 2: Unleavened Bread–we repent (getting rid of sin = leaven, as in eating unleavened bread), we eat the Lamb (as in taking in all of Jesus) and we die to ourselves (we eat bitter herbs to represent suffering).
–PART 3: Firstfruits–upon entering the Promised Land (life with Christ), we bring our firstfruits before the Lord and wave in worship
–We are risen with Christ, to give Him the first and holiest parts of our lives as we worship Him
What are other types and shadows related to Firstfruits?
As part of Passover, firstfruits were offered the day after the sabbath
–I Cor. 15:20, 23: “But now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the firstfruits of them that slept. . .Christ the firstfruits; afterward they that are Christ’s at his coming.”
–Jesus rose from the dead to become our firstfruits on the day after the sabbath during the 7-day feast of Passover–the EXACT day the sheaf was to be waved!
A “sheaf”: a stalk of grain representing a person
–Gen. 37:5-8: Joseph’s dream of sheaves bowing down to his sheaf (his brothers bowing to him)
–Psalm 126:6: putting out seed and then bringing in the sheaves
–seed, in the NT, represented the Gospel, which we spread to bring in souls (sheaves)
There has always been a biblical principle of offering firstfruits followed by blessing
–Even Cain and Abel offered firstfruits
–Deut. 18:4: Israelites commanded to give firstfruits of corn, wine, oil, etc. to the priests in the Temple as a tithe unto the Lord and to support the priests
–Deut. 26:1-11: tells us how to offer firstfruits (beautiful)
–Prov. 3:9-10: “Honour the LORD with thy substance, and with the firstfruits of all thine increase: So shall thy barns be filled with plenty, and thy presses shall burst out with new wine.”
–Jer. 2:3: Israel was called the firstfruits of the Lord–His chosen people
–Ezek. 44:30: “And the first of all the firstfruits of all things, and every oblation of all, of every sort of your oblations, shall be the priest’s: ye shall also give unto the priest the first of your dough, that he may cause the blessing to rest in thine house.”
–Rom. 8:23: we have been given the firstfruits of the Spirit
–Rom. 11:16: “For if the firstfruit be holy, the lump is also holy. . .”
–Rom. 16:5, I Cor. 16:15: first converts in Asia called firstfruits
–James 1:18: we who are saved are called the firstfruits of His creation
No one could touch the harvest until firstfruits had been offered
–John 20:17: “Jesus saith unto her, Touch me not; for I am not yet ascended to my Father. . .”
–we could have nothing to eat spiritually until the resurrection was accomplished
The counting of the omer: counting 50 days from offering of firstfruits until Pentecost
–for OT Jews, this was a time of waiting until the law was given on Mt. Sinai
–for NT Jews, Jesus rose as the firstfruits and stayed 40 days on Earth
–then the 120 tarried for 10 days (40 + 10 = 50) until the Holy Ghost came on Pentecost (law given again–this time to our hearts!)