Heaven IS for real. But many books about it are not…

I see a lot of stuff nowadays floating around the stagnant pool of the interwebs talking about Heaven. I assume it’s the soon-to-come movie titled Heaven is for Real based off of the book of the same name that’s causing the fevered conversation to raise it’s ugly little head.  As you can probably tell from my written tone, I’m not a big fan of the book or those like it.

To be fair, I haven’t read the book. I haven’t read many other books like it either. Some would say that means I don’t have the right to comment on it, but I would disagree. Because I have read a book (a compilation of books, actually) that gives a 100% accurate description of heaven. (That’d be the Bible, in case you’re not following) So when I read the description of these other “heaven” books, a lot of red flags get raised. There’s one red flag in particular that rises high above the others and is definitive proof (for me, anyway) that these books are fakes.  And I can describe it with 3 little words:

Robbed at Gunpoint.

I know…you’re thinking “What? That makes no sense!” Follow me for a second.

When people are robbed at gunpoint, the police often ask them to give a detailed description of their attacker. A great majority of the time they cannot. Why? Because they never saw him – they couldn’t take their eyes off of the gun. Our brains are wired to focus on the things that induce the most fear, and if we are robbed at gunpoint, the most fear-inducing element is the gun.

The same would be true if someone were to go to heaven and live to tell about it. Being in the presence of almighty God would induce fear – it did in Isaiah when he was given a prophetic vision of heaven, and it did in the apostle John when he was given a similar vision. If a person were to come back from that, the only thing they would write about is glory of God. Yet most of these books peddle unbiblical truths that glorify only the author or the experience. They are self-focused, or focused on details that I believe most people would miss (halos? really??), simply because they wouldn’t be able to take their eyes off of Jesus.

That said, I could be wrong. I haven’t read the books, so maybe I’m just talking about things I know nothing about. What about you?  What’s your take on books like this?

Leave a comment

Filed under Miscellaneous

Death Penalty Vs. Abortion

Whoa!  It’s been over a year since I’ve posted on my blog (if you don’t count the reply to a comment I made about 10 minutes ago), so forgive me if I’m a little rusty.

I was reading an article this morning about the State of Texas executing it’s 500th inmate since 1982, when it re-introduced the death penalty as a legal punishment. The execution was of Kimberly McCarthy, who was convicted of the murder of 71-year-old Dorothy Booth in Lancaster, TX in 1997. McCarthy robbed, beat, and stabbed Booth to death, and even cut off her finger to pull off a ring. She stole her car, took the ring and pawned it for $200 to buy crack, and used her credit cards at a liquor store. Overall, it was a particularly brutal crime, one that no doubt would bring the death penalty to any person in Texas if they didn’t plea bargain for a lesser punishment.

What struck me as I was reading the article was a quote from McCarthy’s attorney and the next line that described the protesters outside the prison:

In a statement, Maurie Levin, McCarthy’s attorney, said “500 is 500 too many. I look forward to the day when we recognize that this pointless and barbaric practice, imposed almost exclusively on those who are poor and disproportionately on people of color, has no place in a civilized society.” Outside the prison, about 40 protesters gathered, carrying signs saying “Death Penalty: Racist and Anti-Poor,” ”Stop All Executions Now” and “Stop Killing to Stop Killings.”

I was kind of taken aback at reading that people feel the death penalty is racist and anti-poor, because that’s something that is also true of another controversial practice in our country: abortion.

Just a couple days before this execution, Texas failed to pass some very restrictive abortion measures that would have cut the number of abortions in the state greatly. The reason behind the failure to pass the bill was not because there weren’t enough votes to pass it – it was because the protests became so disruptive that, though the bill passed in a vote, Lt. Governor David Dewhurst couldn’t sign it in time. (The legislative session ended at midnight)

So what we have here is 2 sets of protesters – one who thinks that the State is wrong for executing convicted killers because those killers are predominantly minorities and poor, and one who thinks that we should NOT cut abortions, even though abortions occur at significantly higher rates in minority and poor populations. My guess is that many of the people who argue against the death penalty are arguing for abortion. They say that convicted killers should live, but that innocent children should not.

And all I can say is, come Lord Jesus…hurry…this world is getting more and more out of control.

3 Comments

Filed under Miscellaneous

The Bible is Dangerous

I’m one of those weird people who actually enjoy listening to lectures. Not just any lectures, mind you, but things that interest me. I probably wouldn’t enjoy lectures over 19th century British poetry, or lectures over the social influences found in different world cultures. Those things sound pretty boring to me. But one thing that interests me greatly is theology, and anything related to the Bible. Lately I’ve been listening to lectures from Reformed Theological Seminary on iTunesU, specifically from a course called The History of Philosophy and Christian Thought. Doesn’t sound very interesting, does it?  Well, it’s actually not that bad.

One of the things that really baffles me as I listen to Dr. Frame talk about the philosophies projected by the early Church fathers is how so many of them totally misinterpret the Bible. Granted, not much time had passed since the New Testament had actually been adopted as God-inspired Scripture. But it’s not hard to see that some of these men clearly injected their own ideas, or perhaps worse, the ideas of Greek philosophy, into their theological arguments. For instance, the early Church father Origen speculated that salvation may be universal, and that even the devil may have a shot at redemption at some point in the future. Many of the early Church fathers proposed ideas that weakened Scripture or made Christ less significant. Most of these ideas are easily refuted under the light of ALL of Scripture.

Scriptural misinterpretation isn’t something that only affected the early Church. In fact, just this morning I read an article about a pastor in West Virginia who died after being bitten by a rattlesnake. And yes, he was handling the snake in a faith-proving church ritual.  The Scripture people use to justify this odd ritual is Mark 16:17-18:

And these signs will accompany those who believe: In my name they will drive out demons; they will speak in new tongues; they will pick up snakes with their hands; and when they drink deadly poison, it will not hurt them at all; they will place their hands on sick people, and they will get well. (Emphasis added)

If you read the whole article (I highly recommend that you do…it’s short), you also find out that this pastor’s father was also killed from a snake bite in a similar ceremony. So what we have here is a gross misinterpretation of Scripture, and an incredible failure to learn from past mistakes.

The misinterpretation of Scripture is the part that bothers me the most. Most Bible scholars question whether Mark 16:9-20 is even supposed to be a part of the Bible to begin with. The earliest copies of the Gospel of Mark don’t have these verses, and many of the later ones that do have them set them apart from the rest of the book. So it isn’t wise to set up a doctrine solely on this one passage (nor is it wise to set up any doctrine based on only one passage of Scripture). On top of that, even if you do consider these verses to be a part of Scripture, there is no imperative from Jesus to go and pick up snakes to prove your faith. As one article I read put it, “It is describing something that will occur, not commanding that something should occur.” For instance, in Acts 28 it describes Paul as getting bitten by a snake, and just shaking it off. Paul didn’t seek out a snake and say, “Look everyone! Look how much faith I have! I picked up this snake and got bit! And I’m not dead!” No, God protected Paul from any bad effects from the snake bite. That is the meaning of Mark 16:17-18 – that God can provide for and protect those who are serving Him.

So, what’s the big deal, you ask? Why can’t we just leave these people alone and let them continue to misinterpret Scripture and get bit. Isn’t this just God’s way of weeding out the idiots? Well, first of all, that’s a very unloving thing to say. I’m ashamed of you for asking such a question. But secondly, I think we have to consider how this mishandling of the words of the Bible affects the world around us. For instance, can you imagine what the world thinks when they see people like this pastor saying things like, “I am looking for a great time this Sunday…It is going to be a homecoming like the old days. Good ‘ole raised in the holler or mountain ridge running, Holy Ghost-filled speaking-in-tongues sign believers.” This statement, within itself, would drive an English teacher crazy. But when it’s then followed by the death of the man who said it, it makes you question the God who supposedly fills these “sign believers.” And when that same pastor says, “I know it’s real; it is the power of God…If I didn’t do it, if I’d never gotten back involved, it’d be the same as denying the power and saying it was not real,” and then gets killed, it makes people question the power of God.

This mishandling of the Bible is a dangerous thing. Just ask the pastor who died from the snake bite. But it can be much, much worse. Consider those who follow the speculations of Origen and teach that, in the end, we’ll all be saved. How dangerous is that!?!? It promotes apathy by making people think they can do whatever they want. Heck…in the end, they’ll go to heaven anyway, right? We can’t allow things like this to happen. We may not be able to stop those who would pick up snakes to prove their faith, but we can outright deny that what they are doing is Biblical. And we can promote a healthy interpretation of Scripture that leads to sound doctrine. We can do this by:

  • Making true disciples – 1 Corinthians 2:14 says “The man without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him, and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually discerned.” Unfortunately, we have non-Christian scholars influencing theological thought, and these people can’t understand the Bible to begin with, because they don’t have the Spirit of God within them. Instead, we should make true disciples who then lead us in our pursuit of truth.
  • Making well-trained disciples – In 2 Timothy 2:15, Paul tells Timothy “Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a workman who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth” (emphasis added). The only way to know the Bible is to study the Bible. Proper Biblical interpretation doesn’t come overnight – it requires diligent study and training.
  • Teaching the WHOLE Word of God – Too many modern doctrines are based on small passages (to the exclusion of others). In other words, they fail to interpret Scripture with Scripture. If we consider all of Scripture when we read certain passages, our interpretations are less likely to have errors.
  • Relying somewhat on tradition, but not too much – There are those who have come before us who have diligently searched the Scriptures and have sought to know them well. We should consider their interpretations when we come across a passage that brings us trouble. This is where a good commentary comes in. On that same note, we should not over-rely on traditional interpretation, as this too leads to trouble. Consider the traditions of the Catholic church that sparked the Protestant Reformation.

3 Comments

Filed under Spiritual Thoughts

The Feast of Tabernacles

This is a post in a series of posts titled Types and Shadows. You may want to start at the FIRST post of the series, or see the PREVIOUS post, before reading this one.

This post in this series-within-a-series is over the last major festival in the Jewish religious year – The Feast of Tabernacles. As we discuss in the first post, the Feast of Tabernacles was actually made up of 3 sub-feasts spread out over many days. These include:

The Feast of Trumpets (see Leviticus 23:23-25; Numbers 29:1-6)

The Feast of Trumpets was actually just one day, the first day of the seventh month of the Jewish religious calendar. It was a special Sabbath, where the Israelites were not allowed to do any work. They would come together in a “sacred assembly”, where a special burnt offering would be made, and trumpets would be sounded as a call to prepare for the upcoming Day of Atonement.  For those who might have heard of it before, this is the day known as Rosh Hashanah.

In Scripture, the sounding of trumpets represented the voice of prophets, calling out the Word of the Lord. In the case of the Feast of Trumpets, the trumpet blasts were used to call Israel to awaken, to repent, and to prepare for the Day of Atonement. In fact, the 10 days between this day and the Day of Atonement were often called “the ten days of awe,” and were intended for the Israelites to spend time in self-inspection and repentance.

The Day of Atonement (see Leviticus 23:26-32; Leviticus 16)

On the tenth day of the month the Israelites held their most holy day of the year – the Day of Atonement (also known as Yom Kippur). It was also a special Sabbath, and the Israelites were not allowed to work, but beyond that, they were also required to fast (“deny themselves”). On this day, special burnt offerings were made for the people, and even more intense rituals were carried out. For instance, part of the ceremony involved 2 goats. The priest would cast lots for the goats, and one goat would be sacrificed, while the other would be released into the wilderness. Prior to it’s release, the High Priest would lay his hands on the second goat – called the scapegoat, or Azezel (meaning “an entire removal”) – effectively transferring the sin of the nation of Israel to it. When the goat was released, it symbolized the total removal of sin from the nation. After this part of the ceremony, the High Priest would continue by cleansing the sanctuary by the sprinkling of blood, and would enter the Most Holy Place in the tabernacle (or later, the Temple). This was the only day of the year that anyone was allowed to enter this inner part, as God promised that any other time of the year, the person would die.

The Feast of Tabernacles (see Leviticus 23:33-44; Deuteronomy 16:13-17; Numbers 29:12-35)

During this time of year, the nation of Israel would begin it’s fruit harvest, reaping grapes and olives (except on the regular and special sabbath days). On the 15th day of the month, the actual Feast of Tabernacles would begin, as a celebration of the “gathering of the produce of [their] threshing floor and winepress.” The festival lasted 7 days, with the first day being a special Sabbath. No work was performed that day, and a “sacred assembly” came together make burnt offerings and to present the “choice fruit” before the Lord. For 7 days, the whole nation would live in booths (small tabernacles or tents), which is why the feast is also sometimes called the Feast of Booths.  On the last day, the day after the 7 day festival, another special Sabbath was held and no work was to be done.

New Testament Application

The Feast of Trumpets served as a heralding of the judgment of God. One source I read said,

The massive blowing of the shofar (trumpet) on the first day of the seventh month was understood by the Jews as the beginning of their trial before the heavenly court where books would be opened and the destiny of each individual would be decided. The trial lasted ten days until the Day of Atonement (Yom Kippur) when God would dispose of their sins in a permanent way.

In this perspective, it’s not hard to see the parallel between the trumpets sounding here and the trumpets mentioned in the book of Revelation 8. Here, in the last days, trumpets also sound as a heralding of the judgments of God. The final judgment is described in Revelation 11:18:

The nations were angry; and your wrath has come. The time has come for judging the dead, and for rewarding your servants the prophets and your saints and those who reverence your name, both small and great—and for destroying those who destroy the earth.”

Interestingly, just like during this Feast, where the Day of Atonement followed the judgment of God, similar events are described in the end times. Right after describing the final trumpet judgment in Revelation 11, it says “Then God’s temple in heaven was opened, and within his temple was seen the ark of his covenant. And there came flashes of lightning, rumblings, peals of thunder, an earthquake and a great hailstorm.”  Just as the Israelites had their sin removed on the Day of Atonement (the day the High Priest entered the Most Holy Place in the presence of the ark of the conventant), we too have had our sins removed by the sacrifice of Christ.

Finally, the Feast of Tabernacles commemorated for the nation of Israel how they lived in booths (tents) in the wilderness, and how God dwelt with them in the Tabernacle of Moses. It also reminds us of how God dwells with us through Jesus (“The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. – John 1:14), and through the Holy Spirit within us.  Also, just as the Feast of Tabernacles was to be a time of joy, so shall we be joyful in the New Heaven, after the judgments and atonement has been realized at the end of the age.

1 Comment

Filed under Types and Shadows

The Feast of Weeks

This is a post in a series of posts titled Types and Shadows. You may want to start at the FIRST post of the series, or see the PREVIOUS post, before reading this one.

In the past couple of posts, we’ve been looking at the Feasts of Israel and the Biblical typology that they represent. Yesterday we took a closer look at the Passover feast – today we are going to look at the Feast of Weeks.

Just as the Passover festival served as a commemoration of the Jewish exodus from Egypt, the Feast of Weeks served as a reminder of another important event that occurred not too long after that.  Exodus 19 describes the arrival of the Israelites at Mount Sinai:

In the third month after the Israelites left Egypt—on the very day—they came to the Desert of Sinai. After they set out from Rephidim, they entered the Desert of Sinai, and Israel camped there in the desert in front of the mountain.Then Moses went up to God, and the LORD called to him from the mountain and said, “This is what you are to say to the house of Jacob and what you are to tell the people of Israel: ‘You yourselves have seen what I did to Egypt, and how I carried you on eagles’ wings and brought you to myself. Now if you obey me fully and keep my covenant, then out of all nations you will be my treasured possession. Although the whole earth is mine, you will be for me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.’ These are the words you are to speak to the Israelites.”

God then commanded the Israelites to celebrate this event with the Feast of Weeks (see Exodus 34:22; Deuteronomy 16:10, 16).

As we talked about in the first post in this mini-series over the feasts, the Feast of Weeks got its name from the fact that it was celebrated 7 weeks after the waving of the Sheaf of Firstfruits, during the third month on the Jewish calendar. The day after these 7 weeks (the 50th day) was also known as Pentecost (which is the Greek word for fifty). Many Christians are familiar with Pentecost and the events that occurred on that day after Christ’s death, resurrection, and ascension to Heaven.  That story is found in Acts 2, where we find the 120 Christ-followers were all together in one place, when “suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit…” (v. 2-4).  It was here that God released His Spirit and placed it inside the believers at that time, just like He does today when we confess Christ as our savior and are converted.

So how does the arrival of the Israelites at Sinai, which is celebrated by the Feast of Weeks, relate to the giving of the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost in Acts 2? My lesson pointed out 3 ways that God revealed Himself at Mount Sinai, and explained how the day of Pentecost in the New Testament paralleled that:

The Power of God

Exodus 19:16-19 describes God’s power being displayed at Sinai:

On the morning of the third day there was thunder and lightning, with a thick cloud over the mountain, and a very loud trumpet blast. Everyone in the camp trembled. Then Moses led the people out of the camp to meet with God, and they stood at the foot of the mountain. Mount Sinai was covered with smoke, because the LORD descended on it in fire. The smoke billowed up from it like smoke from a furnace, the whole mountain trembled violently, and the sound of the trumpet grew louder and louder.

In much the same way, as He released His Holy Spirit on the believers at Pentecost, there was wind, fire, shaking, and miraculous signs (like new languages being spoken).

The Law of Moses

It was here at Sinai that God gave the Law to Moses, writing His holy standard in His own finger on tablets of stone. At Pentecost, the Spirit of God entered the hearts of the believers, and God wrote His only standard on the tablets of their hearts.

An interesting parallel that my lesson pointed out was the number of those affected by the giving of this Law in each situation. In the giving of the Law at Sinai the people were held to a high standard, so that in Exodus 32, when Moses came down the mountain and found them running wild and worshiping the golden calf, he ordered the Levites to “go back and forth through the camp from one end to the other, each killing his brother and friend and neighbor.” (v. 27)  The number that died that day was about 3000.  At Pentecost, the Holy Spirit went back and forth through those who were near, and as Peter preached, “those who accepted his message were baptized, and about three thousand were added to their number that day.” (Acts 2:41)

The apostle Paul discusses this Biblical type in 2 Corinthians 3, where he says

Now if the ministry that brought death, which was engraved in letters on stone, came with glory, so that the Israelites could not look steadily at the face of Moses because of its glory, fading though it was, will not the ministry of the Spirit be even more glorious? If the ministry that condemns men is glorious, how much more glorious is the ministry that brings righteousness! (v. 7-9)

The Pattern of the Tabernacle

As we discussed in a previous post, the Lord gave the Israelites the instructions for building the Tabernacle of Moses along with the Law at Sinai. We concluded that the purpose of the Tabernacle was to provide a dwelling for God to be with His people.  At Pentecost, we see the birth of the Church, and as we discussed previously, this is now where God dwells, inside the hearts of His people by His Spirit.

In the end, the Feast of Weeks was a harvest festival just like the feast of Passover. Whereas Passover was celebrated at the harvest of barley, Pentecost was celebrated at the harvest of wheat. “And in this harvest,” my lesson pointed out, “we see a wonderful picture of the tremendous ingathering of redeemed lives that took place with the birth of the Church. Just as in the Sheaf of Firstfruits, [where] the firstfruits of the barley harvest was waved before the Lord, so on the…Day of Pentecost, the firstfruits of the wheat harvest was waved before the Lord. So the Church of Pentecost became a wave offering of firstfruits, representing the massive harvest of souls that was to come.”

Leave a comment

Filed under Types and Shadows

The Feast of Passover

This is a post in a series of posts titled Types and Shadows. You may want to start at the FIRST post of the series, or see the PREVIOUS post, before reading this one.

Yesterday I opened up this series-within-a-series by talking about the fact that God instituted 3 major festivals in the life of the nation of Israel. The first of these festivals was that of Passover. Today’s post attempts to look at what Passover was all about and how the feast itself relates to New Testament figures or events.

Deuteronomy 16 outlines exactly what this feast entails and also discusses why God wanted the Israelites to participate:

 Observe the month of Abib and celebrate the Passover of the LORD your God, because in the month of Abib he brought you out of Egypt by night. Sacrifice as the Passover to the LORD your God an animal from your flock or herd at the place the LORD will choose as a dwelling for his Name. Do not eat it with bread made with yeast, but for seven days eat unleavened bread, the bread of affliction, because you left Egypt in haste—so that all the days of your life you may remember the time of your departure from Egypt. Let no yeast be found in your possession in all your land for seven days. Do not let any of the meat you sacrifice on the evening of the first day remain until morning.You must not sacrifice the Passover in any town the LORD your God gives you except in the place he will choose as a dwelling for his Name. There you must sacrifice the Passover in the evening, when the sun goes down, on the anniversaryof your departure from Egypt. Roast it and eat it at the place the LORD your God will choose. Then in the morning return to your tents.For six days eat unleavened bread and on the seventh day hold an assembly to the LORD your God and do no work. (v. 1-8)

As you can see, the purpose of the Feast in the lives of the Israelites at that time was to celebrate their deliverance from slavery in Egypt. When they were still in Egypt, the Lord had Moses go before Pharaoh and demand to release the Jewish people. When Pharaoh refused, God judged the Egyptians by sending several terrible plagues, the last of which was to send the angel of death over the land to kill the firstborn of every living thing. The Jews were protected from this judgment by following specific instructions:

The LORD said to Moses and Aaron in Egypt, “This month is to be for you the first month, the first month of your year. Tell the whole community of Israel that on the tenth day of this month each man is to take a lambfor his family, one for each household. If any household is too small for a whole lamb, they must share one with their nearest neighbor, having taken into account the number of people there are. You are to determine the amount of lamb needed in accordance with what each person will eat. The animals you choose must be year-old males without defect, and you may take them from the sheep or the goats. Take care of them until the fourteenth day of the month, when all the people of the community of Israel must slaughter them at twilight. Then they are to take some of the blood and put it on the sides and tops of the doorframes of the houses where they eat the lambs. That same night they are to eat the meat roasted over the fire, along with bitter herbs, and bread made without yeast. Do not eat the meat raw or cooked in water, but roast it over the fire—head, legs and inner parts. Do not leave any of it till morning; if some is left till morning, you must burn it. This is how you are to eat it: with your cloak tucked into your belt, your sandals on your feet and your staff in your hand. Eat it in haste; it is the LORD’s Passover. On that same night I will pass through Egypt and strike down every firstborn—both men and animals—and I will bring judgment on all the gods of Egypt. I am the LORD. The blood will be a sign for you on the houses where you are; and when I see the blood, I will pass over you. No destructive plague will touch you when I strike Egypt. (Exodus 12:1-13)

As you can see, the Passover festival aligned almost exactly with the actual Passover that occurred as the Jews left Egypt. The order of events in the feast went like this (in the first month of the year):

Day 10 – Choose an animal for sacrifice
Day 14 – Animal is killed; Passover meal is eaten
Day 15 – Feast of Unleavened Bread begins (High Sabbath – do no work)
Day 17 – Sheaf of Firstfruits waved before the Lord
Day 21 – The feast ends (another High Sabbath – do no work)

Beyond just the major sacrifice made on the day of Passover, the feast included the Feast of Unleavened Bread and the Sheaf of Firstfruits. The Feast of Unleavened Bread started on the 15th day, and lasted a full week. The Jews were commanded to bake bread without yeast (leaven), which served as a reminder of the quick departure they had to make out of Egypt (see Exodus 12:39). The first and last days of this week were special sabbaths, where no work was allowed. The Sheaf of Firstfruits was a separate celebration inside of the Feast of Unleavened Bread. Passover marked the beginning of the barley harvest, and this celebration required the Jews to choose one sheaf of their harvest prior to reaping, and to lift it before God as a “wave-offering.”

The Passover, including the Feast of Unleavened Bread and the Sheaf of Firstfruits, served as a beautiful picture of deliverance for the Jewish people, but interestingly, it serves as an even more beautiful picture of deliverance for us today. The Bible is clear that the Passover served as a rich prophetic picture of the sacrifice of Jesus upon the Cross (“Christ, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed” 1 Corinthians 5:7). Incredibly, Jesus was crucified on the literal day of Passover! As my lesson put it, “At the precise time that families all over Israel were slaying their Passover lamb, Jesus died on the Cross!”  If you look closely at the order of events in the last week of Jesus’ life, prior to His crucifixion, you’ll see several similarities (keep in mind that the Jewish day went from evening to evening):

Day 10 (Sunday) – Jesus enters Jerusalem on the back of a donkey (Palm Sunday)
Day 14 (Wednesday evening) – The Last Supper; Day 14 (Thursday) – Jesus is crucified
Day 15 (Friday) – High Sabbath
Day 17 (Sunday) – Jesus rises from the grave!

It’s not hard to see the similarities here. Jesus, our Passover lamb, entered Jerusalem on the same day that the Jews chose their Passover lambs. Jesus models the Passover meal with his disciples on the day of Passover, and is then killed on that same day. Again, recall that this is possible because the Jewish day starts the night before at sunset. Remember in the story of Jesus’ death, they were in a hurry to get him taken off the cross because the next day was the sabbath. This has caused a lot of people to think that He was killed on a Friday (since Saturday is the normal Jewish sabbath day) – and is probably what caused Good Friday to come about – but Jesus was actually killed on Thursday, the 14th day of the month. The sabbath they were worried about was not the normal sabbath, but the special sabbath that started on day 15, as prescribed by God as a part of the Passover feast.

Another interesting parallel between Jesus and this festival is the Sheaf of Firstfruits and Jesus’ resurrection. Jesus rose from the grave on the 17th day, the same day the Jews waved the Sheaf of Firstfruits before God. Paul wrote about this parallel in 1 Corinthians 15:

But Christ has indeed been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. For since death came through a man, the resurrection of the dead comes also through a man. For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive. But each in his own turn: Christ, the firstfruits; then, when he comes, those who belong to him.

As my lesson put it, “What an incredible picture of the resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ! And most incredible of all is how God timed everything. At the precise moment the high priest was standing in the court of the Temple, waving the sheaf of firstfruits before the Lord, this type was being fulfilled in Christ! The Lord Jesus was being raised from the dead!”

To conclude, the typology of the Passover feast as a whole and Jesus’ death and resurrection is rich, to say the least. In fact, there is much more that we could look at (for instance, the relationship of the absence of yeast in the unleavened bread to sin), but for the sake of keeping this below 2000 words, I’ll stop here.  In the end, though, what a great catalyst for our faith to see how God was working toward the fulfillment of all things in Christ when He put into place this festival in the life of the Jewish people many, many years beforehand. I’d like to leave you with a quote from my lesson that sums everything up quite nicely:

The Passover tradition was established as a point of remembrance for the people of Israel – that they would remember the great deliverance that took place in the original Passover of Exodus. When Jesus instituted the Communion, he said: “…do this in remembrance of me” (Luke 22:19). A new Passover celebration had been established – a new remembrance meal for a new deliverance. Christ was declaring that the Passover had found its complete fulfillment in him!

Leave a comment

Filed under Types and Shadows

The Feasts of Israel

This is a post in a series of posts titled Types and Shadows. You may want to start at the FIRST post of the series, or see the PREVIOUS post, before reading this one.

Today we will continue to look at Old Testament types, shadows, and illustrations by beginning to discuss the feasts/festivals celebrated by the nation of Israel. Because there is so much to talk about here (my lesson today was almost double the length of my usual lessons!), I’m going to break these up into separate posts for each major feast. Today, in this post, I’ll introduce the feasts and discuss how they fit in Israel’s history and on their calendar.  Tomorrow we’ll look at Passover, including the Feast of Unleavened Bread and the Sheaf of Firstfruits. Then the following post will discuss the Feast of Weeks and Pentecost.  The final post in this little series-within-a-series will take a look at the Feast of Tabernacles, including the Feast of Trumpets, the Day of Atonement, and the actual Feast of Tabernacles.

Before you can gain an understanding of how the Feasts of Israel foreshadowed and illustrate New Testament events, you have to understand how the feasts were structured and the role they played in the history of the nation.  The structure of the feasts themselves is not hard to understand – there were truly 3 major feasts that the people of Israel participated in, with some minor sub-feasts (so to speak) being a part of the major ones. These feasts were:

  1. The Feast of Passover
    The Passover feast was really made up of 3 feasts – Passover, the Feast of Unleavened Bread, and the Sheaf of Firstfruits.
  2. The Feast of Weeks
    The Feast of Weeks stood on it’s own, and was also called Pentecost.
  3. The Feast of Tabernacles
    The Feast of Tabernacles was made up of 3 feasts – the Feast of Trumpets, the Day of Atonement, and the Feast of Tabernacles itself. This feast is also known as the Feast of Booths.

The formal worship of the nation of Israel revolved around these 3 major festivals. When the Israelites left the slavery of Egypt, the Lord gave them a new calendar. He then prescribed the feasts and set every detail in place in relation to this new calendar (see Leviticus 23). Check out the image below of the Jewish Calendar with the festivals listed (with Hanukkah added…).

As you can see, Passover occurred in the first month, actually starting on the 14th day of that month. We’ll see in tomorrow’s post that preparation for this feast began a few days prior to that.  The Feast of Weeks, or Pentecost, fell in the third month. God told the people, “From the day after the Sabbath, the day you brought the sheaf of the wave offering, count off seven full weeks. Count off fifty days up to the day after the seventh Sabbath, and then present an offering of new grain to the LORD” (Leviticus 23:15-16).  The word Pentecost means “fifty” in Greek, so it’s easy to see where it got this name.  The final feast we’ll look at is the feast of Tabernacles, which was celebrated in the 7th month.

Click HERE to see the next post in this series –>

3 Comments

Filed under Types and Shadows