Category Archives: Bible Study

Posts related to something specifically from the Bible.

Getting all political and stuff…

I try really hard not to get into politics. Well, I should say, I try really hard to not get into discussions with people about politics. I guess we all get in to politics to a degree, as long as we are alive in this crazy society we’ve created for ourselves. But talking about people’s political views? That’s a touchy subject.

I once heard someone say that there are 3 topics you never discuss: sex, religion, and politics. Well, this is, technically, a “religion” blog (I know, I know…it’s about relationship, not religion, don’t blast me in the comments). So I already talk about religion. I’ve already crossed the line there. I won’t talk about sex, because…well…yeah. And here I am, about to talk about politics.

I checked my Facebook feed this morning, and much of what people are posting about is the Iowa caucuses that took place yesterday. Apparently Ted Cruz “won” the Republican caucus by a small margin. And while I don’t consider myself a Ted Cruz backer (or any other candidate right now, really), I’m also not upset about the fact he “won.” Mainly because I know things are still early. We’ll just have to wait and see how things play out.

So seeing all the hubbub (is that a word?) about the results didn’t upset or surprise me. What did upset me was one person’s ignorant take on some words Cruz used in his “victory” speech. This is what he posted on FB:

“Our rights come from our Creator.” Ted Cruz victory speech.

“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.” First Amendment

And that’s about the time I made this face:

 

face-you-make-robert-downey-jr

Seriously? You’re going to pull out the first amendment because of a comment Ted Cruz made in a speech? Allow me to list all the ways this Facebooker was wrong:

  1. Ted Cruz is running for president. While he may currently be a member of Congress, he is not attempting to make any law regarding the establishment of religion. He’s just speaking something he believes (I assume) to be true. Therefore, first amendment doesn’t apply here.
  2. Wait, actually the first amendment does apply here. It’s called freedom of speech.
  3. Another pretty important document in U.S. history actually backs Cruz up here: the Declaration of Independence. And I shall now quote from said document:

    We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights…

Yowser! It’s Thomas Jefferson, 1, ignorant Facebooker, 0.

Anyway, like I said, I try not to get into these kinds of arguments with people. It’s of absolutely no gain to anyone. Thus, I passive-aggressively posted my rant here instead of commenting on his Facebook post. But I keep seeing the first amendment used like this by non-believers, and it irritates me. There are plenty of dumb things that Christians do in this country that these people can and should be calling us on (failing to love our neighbor as ourselves, that sort of stuff). But not the Constitution – it actually protects people like me and Ted Cruz, and gives us the right to say things we believe.

Ok, rant over. For now.

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The Reason People Hate Christians (Regular Revelation #2)

Don’t you hate it when you see a sensationalist headline? I know I do. Some “news” sources are worse about this than others. Take the Weather Channel’s site, Weather.com. If you go there now, there’s a bunch of stories about the tornadoes that just swept through the South, but on a not-so-busy weather day, you’re more likely to see stories like “The World’s Scariest Airport Runways” or “Beached Whale Explodes!” These are not exactly weather-related, and even worse, if you read these stories, the runway turns out to be fairly normal (never even a crash!), and the whale didn’t explode, per se, but just kind of broke apart – like dead, rotting animals tend to do. The headline was meant to draw you in, to get you to read a story that, in actuality, wasn’t interesting enough by itself to make you want to read it.

So with that said, I must apologize for my headline to this post – The Reason People Hate Christians. Because I’ll admit that there were some sensationalist motives behind the choosing of that title. Technically, this is the second post in a series that I titled Regular Revelation, because it revolves around a study of the book of Revelation I’m doing (in my defense, I did sub-title it with parentheses). But the name Regular Revelation didn’t seem strong enough to portray what I wanted to get across in this post. It definitely didn’t catch anyone’s attention! And unlike the Weather.com stories, I believe I can actually touch on some of the reasons people in America are growing to hate Christians more and more.

In the most recent session of Beth Moore’s Here and Now, There and Then: A Lecture Series on Revelation (session 3, to be exact), she touches on Revelation 1:10-11, and then Revelation chapters 2 & 3. To give you a brief overview, Revelation starts with the apostle John introducing himself and admitting that he has been exiled on the island of Patmos “on account of the word of God and the testimony of Jesus.” (1:9). He then describes a vision he had of Christ. In that vision, Jesus tells John,

Write what you see in a book and send it to the seven churches, to Ephesus and to Smyrna and to Pergamum and to Thyatira and to Sardis and to Philadelphia and to Laodicea. (1:11)

These 7 churches were located in the province of Asia, and they were all connected by the infamous Roman road system. As you can see in the image below, they were found pretty much in the center between Rome (which is in Italy, or the boot-shaped country in the far top-left) and Israel (on the far right, where Jerusalem is found). And you can also see that the island of Patmos is just to the southwest of Ephesus. So when these letters were carried to the churches, they would follow the path just as Jesus mentioned them in v. 11 – first to Ephesus, then to Smyrna, Peramum, Thyatira, Sardis, Philadelphia, and Laodicea – in that order.

Chapters 2 and 3 then contain the content of these 7 letters. Beth Moore spent the majority of the session talking about just one of those letters – the first one, to the church at Ephesus. And it is in this letter, and specifically one statement that Beth Moore made during the session, that I believe God revealed a truth about Himself to me last night.

The letter to Ephesus says this:

To the angel of the church in Ephesus write: ‘The words of him who holds the seven stars in his right hand,who walks among the seven golden lampstands. I know your works, your toil and your patient endurance, and how you cannot bear with those who are evil, but have tested those who call themselves apostles and are not, and found them to be false. I know you are enduring patiently and bearing up for my name’s sake, and you have not grown weary. But I have this against you, that you have abandoned the love you had at first. Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent, and do the works you did at first. If not, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place, unless you repent. Yet this you have: you hate the works of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To the one who conquers I will grant to eat of the tree of life, which is in the paradise of God.’ (Revelation 2:1-7)

In this letter, Christ commends the Ephesian church for their recognition and intolerance of falseness (v. 2). He then warns them that they have “abandoned the love you had at first” (v. 4). Finally, He commends them again, saying “Yet this you have: you hate the works of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate.” (v. 6). Beth Moore summed up these commendations and warnings with one sentence:

The Ephesians hated the things Christ hated, but they did not love the things Christ loved.

This, again, was like a slap to the face, because I believe it describes so many of us in the church today! I think if you asked a random non-Christian off the street what they think of when they think of Christians, most of them are going to think first of the things we’re against. Homosexuality. Abortion. A whole slew of other things. But what about the things we’re for? I’m not sure the world around us knows exactly what we stand for…only what we stand against.

There’s no doubt the animosity toward Christians, even in America, is growing. And there’s no doubt this is to be expected (see John 15:18-19). But at the same time, Christ says we are to be identified not by the things we hate, but by the things we love (see John 13:35).

From this letter to the church in Ephesus, I’d say that it’s awful easy to get this one wrong. It’s awful easy to fall into a pattern of hating things that we know God hates, and forgetting that love is what defines us! And while we do this, the world sees so-called believers displaying hate in some of the worst ways (can you say Westboro?), and they hate us for it. Because it’s easy to hate a hater.

Thoughts?

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Regular Revelation #1

Darling. Sweetheart. Beloved. These aren’t names I get called very often by anyone other than perhaps my wife. But if I ever am in the mood to be called such things, I know where to go. I can just do a women’s Bible study.

Have you ever done a women’s Bible study? If you’re a woman, then I’m not really asking you. But if you’re a man like me, have you ever done one of these? They pass around more terms of endearment than you’d think would be possible. One of the worst offenders (offenders is a strong word…I couldn’t think of a better one) is Beth Moore. She’s a women’s ministry leader, and she speaks to women. And she speaks to women like a woman. She calls them “honey” and “beloved,” and I’m sure she wouldn’t apologize for it for even one second. But she is an amazing teacher…perhaps the absolute best out there right now…and I know I can learn a lot from her. So I agree to do one of her studies with my wife every now and then. I just have to tolerate being called “honey”….and overall, it doesn’t cause too much lasting damage.

The study I agreed to do with my wife this time around is called Here and Now…There and Then: A Lecture Series on Revelation. Any study on Revelation is guaranteed to be crazy, but I knew that if anyone could teach it with clarity and accuracy, it would be Beth Moore.

We watched the first session last night, and one of the things Beth asks the women (and this man) to do throughout the 10 weeks of the study is to journal things that God reveals to them (about Himself, about His Word, etc.). I’ve tried journaling in the past, and honestly I’m just not much of a journal-er. But one thing I’ve done a bit of is blogging. So I decided, heck, why not turn my journaling into blogging. I shall call it “journalogging.” (Other people have thought of this word before me, according to Google, but that’s okay. We’ll pretend it’s a new word that I made up). I’m going to call this series of posts ‘Regular Revelation’ – I hope it will be regular, though I doubt it will be daily, and I hope that God will reveal new truths about Himself to me that I can journalog here.

After watching the video last night, I was laying bed and I prayed that God would reveal things to me as I go through the study. I want to understand the book of Revelation better (everyone does, I think…even experts), and I want to lose some of my fear of the end times. But I also want Him to just reveal Himself to me. I want to grow closer to Him through this study. I asked Him to make sure that if He’s showing me anything (revealing anything to me) that I would definitely know it. Then I went to sleep…cuz it was late.

When I woke up this morning to my wife saying “it’s time to get up” (and then sending my kids to make sure I was awake 10 minutes later, which I was, thank you very much), I got on my phone and perused Facebook. Randy Alcorn, another great Bible teacher I follow on Facebook, had shared the status of Justin Taylor (I don’t know who this is…), who had shared a link to a blog post by the mother of Alex Malarkey. If you don’t know who that is, don’t worry, I didn’t either. But after reading the blog post, you come to realize that Alex is the boy who is the main character of a book written a while back called The Boy Who Came Back From Heaven. Now, don’t get this confused with another book called Heaven Is For Real – it’s a different book about a different little boy. But all the same, it’s about a boy who goes to heaven and, as the title so eloquently tells us, came back.

In the blog post, the boy’s mother, Beth, outright says that the story behind the book is not true. She says that even Alex, the “co-author”, has denied it’s authenticity. He even told a pastor that the book was wrong, and the pastor just told him to let it be, because the book was blessing people. Huh…let a lie continue to spread because people are enjoying hearing it. Interesting.

One of the commenters on Beth Malarkey’s blog post, a woman named Michelle, said “it’s completely incomprehensible to me how people could prefer a lie over the truth.” I totally agree! These heaven experiences that are making millions in book sales and movie proceeds spout some unbiblical ideas about what heaven is like, or more importantly, what heave is all about.

And that, ladies and gentlemen, is what I believe was the first thing that God used to reveal himself to me today. The first ‘revelation’ that He made while I undergo the study of His book which we’ve titled Revelation (with a capital-R). That whole idea, that people prefer lies over truth, and that I have preferred lies over truth, was a slap to my face today. The fact that I knowingly, not ignorantly, have chosen to live based on lies even though I know the truth – to borrow from the commenter Michelle, it’s incomprehensible!

Needless to say, I spent some time in prayer today, repenting of this sin. I refuse to let anything – especially my own stupidity – get in the way of knowing God more fully and experiencing His love more deeply. This is what God revealed to me today. May He continue to reveal more…every day, while I’m doing this study, and forever after.

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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.

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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.”

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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!

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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 –>

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