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Preaching from the Pulpit of Ephraim Church of the Bible

Isaiah 25:6-9; Death Swallowed Up Forever

04/01_Resurrection Sunday; Isaiah 25:6-9; Death Swallowed Up Forever; Audio available at: http://www.ephraimbible.org/Sermons/20180401_resurrection-sunday.mp3

It is Resurrection Sunday; the day we celebrate the triumph of our Lord Jesus over sin and death and hell.

The Wine and The Cup

Last week, Palm Sunday, we looked at Isaiah 24; God made everything very good, but because of our rebellion, sin and guilt:

Isaiah 24:4 The earth mourns and withers; the world languishes and withers; the highest people of the earth languish. 5 The earth lies defiled under its inhabitants; for they have transgressed the laws, violated the statutes, broken the everlasting covenant. 6 Therefore a curse devours the earth, and its inhabitants suffer for their guilt; therefore the inhabitants of the earth are scorched, and few men are left. 7 The wine mourns, the vine languishes, all the merry-hearted sigh. 8 The mirth of the tambourines is stilled, the noise of the jubilant has ceased, the mirth of the lyre is stilled. 9 No more do they drink wine with singing; strong drink is bitter to those who drink it. 10 The wasted city is broken down; every house is shut up so that none can enter. 11 There is an outcry in the streets for lack of wine; all joy has grown dark; the gladness of the earth is banished. 12 Desolation is left in the city; the gates are battered into ruins. 13 For thus it shall be in the midst of the earth among the nations, as when an olive tree is beaten, as at the gleaning when the grape harvest is done.

All joy has grown dark, the gladness of the earth is banished. Every worldly pleasure will leave us empty, longing for something more, something satisfying.

And we looked at Jesus in John 2, where at a wedding in Cana that ran out of wine, he performed the premier of his mighty works which displayed his glory; he turned over 100 gallons of water into the finest aged wine for the celebration. Jesus is saying that when the wine runs out and all joy has grown dark, it is right to look to him. Jesus is the one we must look to for true enduring satisfaction and fulfillment.

But Jesus it seems was looking past this wedding to something else, something sobering. He said to his mother ‘what does this have to do with me? My hour has not yet come’ (Jn.2:4). His hour was the hour of suffering that he had come to this earth to face, the cup of God’s wrath against the sins of mankind, a cup that he must drink.

Mark 14:34 And he said to them, “My soul is very sorrowful, even to death. Remain here and watch.” 35 And going a little farther, he fell on the ground and prayed that, if it were possible, the hour might pass from him. 36 And he said, “Abba, Father, all things are possible for you. Remove this cup from me. Yet not what I will, but what you will.”

This was a cup and an hour that he asked the Father in the garden if there was any way possible for it to pass from him.

Matthew 26:42 Again, for the second time, he went away and prayed, “My Father, if this cannot pass unless I drink it, your will be done.”

Jesus was horrified staring into his hour and the cup of the wine of the fury of the wrath of Almighty God against the sins of the world (Rev.16:19). And yet, if he must drink it, he will.

Luke 22:43 And there appeared to him an angel from heaven, strengthening him.

God’s answer was to send and strengthen him for what he was about to face, so that he was able to resolutely say some brief moments later:

John 18:11 …“Put your sword into its sheath; shall I not drink the cup that the Father has given me?”

Jesus had come to drink the bitter cup. It was for this reason he had come to this hour (Jn.12:27).

Hope in the Midst of Judgment

It is against the dark backdrop of Isaiah 24, where:

Isaiah 24:1 Behold, the LORD will empty the earth and make it desolate, and he will twist its surface and scatter its inhabitants.

Isaiah 24:5 The earth lies defiled under its inhabitants; for they have transgressed the laws, violated the statutes, broken the everlasting covenant. 6 Therefore a curse devours the earth, and its inhabitants suffer for their guilt…

Isaiah 24:11 There is an outcry in the streets for lack of wine; all joy has grown dark; the gladness of the earth is banished.

Isaiah 24:19 The earth is utterly broken, the earth is split apart, the earth is violently shaken.

But even in the midst of this scene of global judgment against sin we see rays of hope shining through.

Isaiah 24:16 From the ends of the earth we hear songs of praise, of glory to the Righteous One. …

Isaiah 24:23 …for the LORD of hosts reigns on Mount Zion and in Jerusalem, and his glory will be before his elders.

And then Isaiah 25 breaks out in a word of hope.

Isaiah 25:1 O LORD, you are my God; I will exalt you; I will praise your name, for you have done wonderful things, plans formed of old, faithful and sure.

What are these wonderful things he has done, these plans formed of old? Where does this hope come from, faithful and sure? I believe we get a hint if we keep reading in Isaiah 25.

Death Swallowed Up

Isaiah 25:6 On this mountain the LORD of hosts will make for all peoples a feast of rich food, a feast of well-aged wine, of rich food full of marrow, of aged wine well refined. 7 And he will swallow up on this mountain the covering that is cast over all peoples, the veil that is spread over all nations. 8 He will swallow up death forever; and the Lord GOD will wipe away tears from all faces, and the reproach of his people he will take away from all the earth, for the LORD has spoken. 9 It will be said on that day, “Behold, this is our God; we have waited for him, that he might save us. This is the LORD; we have waited for him; let us be glad and rejoice in his salvation.”

Salvation comes from the Lord. He saves us. He will take away our reproach. He will wipe away our tears. He will swallow up death forever. He will make a feast of rich food and well aged wine. And Jesus, in the first of his signs in which he displayed his glory, made more than 100 gallons of well aged wine for a feast.

It will be said on that day ‘Behold, this is our God; we have waited for him; this his the LORD; we have waited for him.’ When ‘there is an outcry in the streets for lack of wine,’ when ‘all joy has grown dark,’ when ‘ the gladness of the earth is banished,’ enter Jesus, the true Master of the feast. Let us rejoice and be glad in his salvation.

How does Jesus provide this feast? It says he will swallow up the covering, the veil, he will swallow up death forever. We know from Romans 6 that death is ‘the wages of sin’. God created the world very good, but he warned that in the day we disobey his good command, ‘you shall surely die’ (Gen.2:17). Romans 5 tells us that ‘sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin.’ Death was not a part of God’s good creation; death was a consequence of our rebellion. Death is a part of the curse that hangs over all creation like a veil. And Isaiah 25 tells us that the coming one, God, the LORD will save us by swallowing up death forever.

The Gospel

How does Jesus swallow up death? 2 Timothy 1 says

2 Timothy 1:8 …God 9 who saved us and called us to a holy calling, not because of our works but because of his own purpose and grace, which he gave us in Christ Jesus before the ages began, 10 and which now has been manifested through the appearing of our Savior Christ Jesus, who abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel,

Our Savior Christ Jesus abolished death. 2 Timothy says he abolished death through the free gift of God’s purpose and grace, through his ‘plans formed of old,’ through the gospel.

If we go to the great gospel chapter of 1 Corinthians 15, which lays out plainly the simple message of good news, a reminder of ‘the gospel I preached to you;’

1 Corinthians 15:3 …that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, 4 that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures, 5 and that he appeared…

1 Corinthians 15 is a great place to go if you are ever confused on the content of the gospel message. This is the gospel by which we are saved; that Christ (the promised Messiah) died (was crucified) for our sins (he didn’t deserve to die, we did; he died in our place) in accordance with the Scriptures (it was prophesied; the whole Old Testament points to this sacrifice of the Son of God). That he was buried (as evidence that he was really and truly dead), that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures (thus undoing death and the curse), and that he appeared (giving verifiable evidence that he was really and truly alive).

The gospel, the good news, is that Jesus paid in full for our sins by his death on the cross, and that he conquered death by rising again. 1 Corinthians 15 links Jesus’ resurrection with ours. It looks forward to the day when:

1 Corinthians 15:54 When the perishable puts on the imperishable, and the mortal puts on immortality, then shall come to pass the saying that is written:

Death is swallowed up in victory.”

55 “O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?” 56 The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. 57 But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.

This is a combination of quotes from Isaiah 25 and Hosea 13. ‘He will swallow up death forever.’ The sting of death is sin, and that sting of sin was buried in Jesus’ body on the tree. The power of sin is the law, and Jesus fulfilled the law perfectly, and he writes his law now on our transformed hearts, so we are eager to love as he has loved us. God gives us the victory over the law and sin and death through our Lord Jesus.

Death Swallowed Up from the Inside

Jesus said in John 10

John 10:11 I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. …17 For this reason the Father loves me, because I lay down my life that I may take it up again. 18 No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to take it up again. This charge I have received from my Father.”

The good news is that Jesus lays down his life for his sheep. And he lays down his own life in order that he may take it up again. The authority to take up his life again comes through the command of the Father, through his freely laying down his life.

In the next chapter, at a friend’s funeral, he tells a grieving sister:

John 11:25 Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, 26 and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this?”

Jesus is the resurrection. He gives eternal life to all who believe in him. He can do this because he lays down his life freely for others. The curse of sin must be broken. The wages of sin must be paid out, either by the offending party, or by a willing substitute.

Hebrews 2 points to Jesus in his incarnation,

Hebrews 2:9 But we see him who for a little while was made lower than the angels, namely Jesus, crowned with glory and honor because of the suffering of death, so that by the grace of God he might taste death for everyone.

God the Son became human so that he might taste death for you. This is grace, the undeserved kindness of God. I deserve death, but he who is life itself tasted death in my place, so that he could absorb the sting of death, abolish and swallow up death forever, and give eternal life to all who believe in him.

How did he swallow up death forever? Jesus swallowed up death by being swallowed up by death. He conquered death from inside death, by himself dying. He paid a debt he did not owe, and through his death he broke the power of death and the curse.

Hebrews goes on to say:

Hebrews 2:14 Since therefore the children share in flesh and blood, he himself likewise partook of the same things, that through death he might destroy the one who has the power of death, that is, the devil, 15 and deliver all those who through fear of death were subject to lifelong slavery.

Jesus became human so that he could conquer death by dying. Through his own death, he robbed death of its power, he stripped Satan of his power, he set us free from our slavery to the fear of death. Through his death, Jesus removed the sting of death and swallowed up death forever.

Joy and the Feast

Jesus told his disciples

John 16:20 Truly, truly, I say to you, you will weep and lament, but the world will rejoice. You will be sorrowful, but your sorrow will turn into joy. …22 So also you have sorrow now, but I will see you again, and your hearts will rejoice, and no one will take your joy from you.

Their sorrow over his death was transformed into joy when they saw him again alive and understood what his death meant, what his death accomplished. Their sorrow turned into joy. And so our hearts rejoice. And no one, no one can take our joy from us now!

Isaiah 25:6 On this mountain the LORD of hosts will make for all peoples a feast of rich food, a feast of well-aged wine, of rich food full of marrow, of aged wine well refined. 7 And he will swallow up on this mountain the covering that is cast over all peoples, the veil that is spread over all nations. 8 He will swallow up death forever; and the Lord GOD will wipe away tears from all faces, and the reproach of his people he will take away from all the earth, for the LORD has spoken. 9 It will be said on that day, “Behold, this is our God; we have waited for him, that he might save us. This is the LORD; we have waited for him; let us be glad and rejoice in his salvation.”

Jesus our Lord and our God has conquered sin and swallowed up death by dying, and he rose victorious from the grave. The LORD has spoken. This is his wonderful plan, formed of old, faithful and sure. He will wipe away every tear, making the sufferings of this present time not worth comparing to the glory that is to be revealed in us (Rom.8:18). All our reproaches have fallen on him (Ps.69:9) and he has taken them away. We have waited for him that he might save us. Jesus, the Lord of the feast, now invites every tribe and tongue and people and nation to his feast. This is the LORD; we have waited for him; let us be glad and rejoice in his salvation!

Pastor Rodney Zedicher ~ Ephraim Church of the Bible ~ www.ephraimbible.org

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April 3, 2018 Posted by | occasional, podcast | , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Leviticus 23:23-44; Holy Time – The Fall Feasts

03/05 Leviticus 23:23-44; Holy Time – the Fall Feasts; Audio available at: http://www.ephraimbible.org/Sermons/20170305_leviticus-23_23-44.mp3

Leviticus 23 deals with holy time, from the weekly Sabbath to the annual holy convocations at which every male in Israel was required to make a pilgrimage to the temple to attend. God’s holy people are to set aside regular time to reflect, to remember, to anticipate, to worship. God has set apart days and seasons to make space in our schedules to reflect, to focus our attention on him. These are to be times that communicate truth, times to remind us to look back on his past faithfulness, times to point us forward to the promise of his future grace.

All this is founded on the weekly Sabbath, the rest God prepared for his people, to cease from labor and enjoy his good gifts and faithful provision.

Three of these feasts, The Feast of Unleavened Bread, The Feast of Weeks or Pentecost, and the Feast of Booths were to be pilgrim festivals where every male was to come up to the temple to worship.

Deuteronomy 16:16 “Three times a year all your males shall appear before the LORD your God at the place that he will choose: at the Feast of Unleavened Bread, at the Feast of Weeks, and at the Feast of Booths. They shall not appear before the LORD empty-handed. (cf. Exodus 23:14-17; 34:18-23)

Last time we looked at the spring feasts, taking place in the first month of the Jewish calendar, our March or April, and 50 then days later the feast of Pentecost. This section concluded with the phrase at the end of verse 22 “I am YHWH your God.”

1-8 Sabbath, Passover & Unleavened Bread

9-22 Firstfruits and Weeks

——-

23-25 Trumpets

26-32 Day of Atonement

33-44 Booths [Ingathering, Tabernacles]

Today we will look at the fall feasts, in the seventh month, our September or October. This was the time when all the produce had been gathered in, and the ripe olives and grapes had been gathered, a time of joyous celebration. This section also closes with this phrase in verse 43 “I am YHWH your God.”

Trumpets

Leviticus 23:23 And the LORD spoke to Moses, saying, 24 “Speak to the people of Israel, saying, In the seventh month, on the first day of the month, you shall observe a day of solemn rest, a memorial proclaimed with blast of trumpets, a holy convocation. 25 You shall not do any ordinary work, and you shall present a food offering to the LORD.”

Not much is said about this day of solemn rest. It is to be a memorial, a day of remembering. What is remembered and who is doing the remembering? In Exodus 28, we see some of the precious stones engraved with the names of the tribes were to serve as a memorial or ‘stones of remembrance’ to bear their names before the LORD ‘for remembrance’ (Ex.28:12, 29). This was a way God gave for the names of his people to be brought before him as a reminder to him to be gracious to his people. We could see this as a memorial for God’s people to remind themselves of God and his faithfulness, or we could see this as a way God gave his people to call his attention to them and remind him of his promises to his people. Numbers 10 describes the two silver trumpets to be used for summoning the congregation.

Numbers 10:8 And the sons of Aaron, the priests, shall blow the trumpets. The trumpets shall be to you for a perpetual statute throughout your generations. 9 And when you go to war in your land against the adversary who oppresses you, then you shall sound an alarm with the trumpets, that you may be remembered before the LORD your God, and you shall be saved from your enemies. 10 On the day of your gladness also, and at your appointed feasts and at the beginnings of your months, you shall blow the trumpets over your burnt offerings and over the sacrifices of your peace offerings. They shall be a reminder of you before your God: I am the LORD your God.”

This was to be a day of solemn rest. The people were to do no ordinary work. The trumpet was a summons to worship, probably a preparation for the day of Atonement 10 days later.

Day of Atonement

Leviticus 23:26 And the LORD spoke to Moses, saying, 27 “Now on the tenth day of this seventh month is the Day of Atonement. It shall be for you a time of holy convocation, and you shall afflict yourselves and present a food offering to the LORD. 28 And you shall not do any work on that very day, for it is a Day of Atonement, to make atonement for you before the LORD your God. 29 For whoever is not afflicted on that very day shall be cut off from his people. 30 And whoever does any work on that very day, that person I will destroy from among his people. 31 You shall not do any work. It is a statute forever throughout your generations in all your dwelling places. 32 It shall be to you a Sabbath of solemn rest, and you shall afflict yourselves. On the ninth day of the month beginning at evening, from evening to evening shall you keep your Sabbath.”

The Day of Atonement was a solemn day. It was the one day the High Priest entered into the Most Holy Place to present sacrificial blood on the Mercy Seat to make atonement for all the people. The procedure for the priests and the sacrifices to be offered on this day were detailed in chapter 16. Here the day is summarized for the people, what they were to do. It was a day to afflict yourself. It was a Sabbath of solemn rest. From evening to evening they were to fast. There were grave consequences laid out on that day. Whoever was not afflicted on that day was to be cut off from his people. Whoever did any work on that day would be destroyed by the LORD himself. Three times in these few verses, the people were told to afflict themselves, and to do no work. Other days of rest the people were to do no ordinary or heavy work. No heavy labor was to be done on the first and seventh days of Unleavened Bread, on Pentecost, on Trumpets, and on the first and eighth days of Booths. It seems light tasks like fire lighting and meal preparation were allowed on these days. No work at all was to be done on the weekly Sabbath, and on the Day of Atonement. These were Sabbaths of solemn rest. On the Day of Atonement the High Priest alone was to do the work of atoning for sins. The people were to rest in his work for them.

Booths

Leviticus 23:33 And the LORD spoke to Moses, saying, 34 “Speak to the people of Israel, saying, On the fifteenth day of this seventh month and for seven days is the Feast of Booths to the LORD. 35 On the first day shall be a holy convocation; you shall not do any ordinary work. 36 For seven days you shall present food offerings to the LORD. On the eighth day you shall hold a holy convocation and present a food offering to the LORD. It is a solemn assembly; you shall not do any ordinary work. 37 “These are the appointed feasts of the LORD, which you shall proclaim as times of holy convocation, for presenting to the LORD food offerings, burnt offerings and grain offerings, sacrifices and drink offerings, each on its proper day, 38 besides the LORD’s Sabbaths and besides your gifts and besides all your vow offerings and besides all your freewill offerings, which you give to the LORD. 39 “On the fifteenth day of the seventh month, when you have gathered in the produce of the land, you shall celebrate the feast of the LORD seven days. On the first day shall be a solemn rest, and on the eighth day shall be a solemn rest. 40 And you shall take on the first day the fruit of splendid trees, branches of palm trees and boughs of leafy trees and willows of the brook, and you shall rejoice before the LORD your God seven days. 41 You shall celebrate it as a feast to the LORD for seven days in the year. It is a statute forever throughout your generations; you shall celebrate it in the seventh month. 42 You shall dwell in booths for seven days. All native Israelites shall dwell in booths, 43 that your generations may know that I made the people of Israel dwell in booths when I brought them out of the land of Egypt: I am the LORD your God.” 44 Thus Moses declared to the people of Israel the appointed feasts of the LORD.

In contrast to the Day of Atonement, the Feast of Booths was a joyful occasion. Where the Day of Atonement was a day to afflict yourselves, the Feast of Booths was a seven day feast where the people were commanded to ‘rejoice before the LORD.’

It is interesting to note that appropriate emotional responses are required. Failure to lament and grieve over sin was punished by God. Here, joy and celebration are expected as a response to God’s deliverance. We are not to be driven or ruled by our emotions, yet if healthy emotions do not follow, if there is no grief over sin, if there is no joy in our salvation, something is broken; something is not healthy.

Spring Feasts and Jesus’ First Coming

Last time we saw that the feasts were commemorative of a past deliverance by God, they were to serve as a time of present reflection on the goodness of God, and they were also pointers to Jesus, the fulfillment of all the types and shadows. The Passover pointed us to Good Friday, where Christ our Passover was sacrificed for us. The Firstfruits, the first portion of the barley harvest, a promise of more to come, pointed us forward to resurrection Sunday, to Christ the firstfruits of the resurrection, and the promise of our resurrection. Pentecost, or the feast of Weeks or Harvest, 7 weeks after Firstfruits, the first portion of the wheat harvest was presented to the Lord, pointing us forward to the birth of the Church in Acts 2, where God poured out his Holy Spirit, and 3,000 people believed and were added to the church. From the Passover lamb sacrificed as a substitute, to the Firstfruits of those raised from the dead, to the Holy Spirit poured out on believers, beginning the time of harvest for the church, the Spring feasts pointed us to coming of Jesus to die for our sins and rise again; they pointed to the gospel message of forgiveness of sins to all who trust in him.

The Fall Feasts and the Second Coming

As we look to the significance of the fall feasts, the picture is less clear, because, I believe, we are looking primarily forward to things yet to come, so it is wise to proceed with caution. Yet there are some biblical passages that give us an idea of what these things might point to.

Trumpets

It seems this Feast of Trumpets was a call of preparation to the mourning of the Day of Atonement. We read in Joel 2:

Joel 2:1 Blow a trumpet in Zion; sound an alarm on my holy mountain! Let all the inhabitants of the land tremble, for the day of the LORD is coming; it is near, 2 a day of darkness and gloom, a day of clouds and thick darkness! Like blackness there is spread upon the mountains a great and powerful people; their like has never been before, nor will be again after them through the years of all generations.

…12 “Yet even now,” declares the LORD, “return to me with all your heart, with fasting, with weeping, and with mourning; 13 and rend your hearts and not your garments.” Return to the LORD your God, for he is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love; and he relents over disaster. 14 Who knows whether he will not turn and relent, and leave a blessing behind him, a grain offering and a drink offering for the LORD your God? 15 Blow the trumpet in Zion; consecrate a fast; call a solemn assembly; 16 gather the people. Consecrate the congregation; assemble the elders; gather the children, even nursing infants. Let the bridegroom leave his room, and the bride her chamber.

This trumpet seems to be a preparation for the fasting and mourning of the Day of Atonement.

Day of Atonement

Revelation

Revelation 1:7 Behold, he is coming with the clouds, and every eye will see him, even those who pierced him, and all tribes of the earth will wail on account of him. Even so. Amen.

Zechariah 12 says:

Zechariah 12:10 “And I will pour out on the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem a spirit of grace and pleas for mercy, so that, when they look on me, on him whom they have pierced, they shall mourn for him, as one mourns for an only child, and weep bitterly over him, as one weeps over a firstborn. 11 On that day the mourning in Jerusalem will be as great as the mourning for Hadad-rimmon in the plain of Megiddo.

This seems to fit the tone of mourning on the Day of Atonement. Then in 13:1 we are told:

Zechariah 13:1 “On that day there shall be a fountain opened for the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem, to cleanse them from sin and uncleanness.

Booths

Zechariah 14 goes on to say that “all the nations …shall go up year after year to worship the King, the LORD of hosts, and to keep the feast of Booths” (Zech.14:16).

It seems we get a glimpse into this future glory on the mount of transfiguration, when Jesus was revealed in his kingdom glory.

Matthew 17:4 And Peter said to Jesus, “Lord, it is good that we are here. If you wish, I will make three tents here, one for you and one for Moses and one for Elijah.”

Peter was connecting this foretaste of future glory with the feast of booths, offering to make temporary dwellings for them.

These booths were to be a reminder of the temporary dwellings during the wilderness sojourn after the people were set free from Egypt, but before they entered the land of promise. They were a reminder that we are yet strangers and aliens, longing for our permanent home.

But the booths were to be made of plants, an echo back to the garden, that one day paradise would be restored, and we will be restored to fellowship with God. Revelation 21 says:

Revelation 21:3 And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God.

We see this fulfilled in Jesus.

John 1:14 And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.

He dwelt among us; literally pitched his tent or tabernacled among us.

The feast of Booths was a time of celebration, where rejoicing was commanded. There were echoes of this on Palm Sunday, when the King came riding into Jerusalem on a donkey, and the people spread out leafy branches before him, shouting ‘Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest!” (Mt.21:9).

In the time of Jesus, during the Feast of Booths, the priests would go out and gather leafy branches and bring them up to the temple area to make a booth around the altar. They would also go down to the pool of Siloam, fill up jars with water, and carry the water back up to the temple, and pour the water down the steps of the temple while reciting Isaiah 12

Isaiah 12:2 “Behold, God is my salvation; I will trust, and will not be afraid; for the LORD GOD is my strength and my song, and he has become my salvation.” 3 With joy you will draw water from the wells of salvation.

This processional of the priests during the Feast of Booths is the context of John 7,

John 7:37 On the last day of the feast, the great day, Jesus stood up and cried out, “If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink. 38 Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, ‘Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.’”

Jesus proclaimed himself the fulfillment of the feast. Jesus is the Passover Lamb slain for us, Jesus is the Firstfruits of the Resurrection. Jesus ascended to the right hand of his Father and poured out the Holy Spirit on Pentecost and began the harvest. Jesus is coming again in power and great glory, announced by trumpet blasts. Those who pierced him will mourn, but their mourning will be turned into rejoicing when a fountain is opened to cleanse them from sin and uncleanness. God will indeed dwell with his people. Immanuel, God with us. Jesus invites us to come. Come to me! If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink!

Pastor Rodney Zedicher ~ Ephraim Church of the Bible ~ www.ephraimbible.org

March 7, 2017 Posted by | Leviticus, podcast | , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Leviticus 23:1-22; Holy Time; The Spring Feasts

02/26 Leviticus 23:1-22; Holy Time – the Spring Feasts; Audio available at: http://www.ephraimbible.org/Sermons/20170226_leviticus-23_1-22.mp3

We are in the second section of Leviticus, the section that deals with the holiness of God’s forgiven people. We see in chapters 17-27 that for those who have been forgiven by God by means of sacrifice, for those who are now in a relationship with God, all of life becomes holy. Chapters 21 and 22 addressed holy people, instructions for those God set apart to be his priests. Here in chapter 23, God addresses holy time; there are days and seasons that God has set apart to communicate truth, to remind us to look back on his past faithfulness, to point us forward to the promise of his future grace, to make space in our schedules to reflect, to focus our attention on him.

All the way back in Genesis 1, at creation, God said:

Genesis 1:14 And God said, “Let there be lights in the expanse of the heavens to separate the day from the night. And let them be for signs and for seasons [mow`ed], and for days and years,

The word for ‘seasons’ [mow`ed], shows up 6 times in Leviticus 23, translated here as ‘appointed feasts’. This word is used many times in Leviticus to refer to the tent of meeting. It refers to an appointment, an assembly, a place of meeting. In Leviticus 23 it is pointing to an appointed meeting time. We also find the phrase ‘holy convocations’ [miqra’ qodesh] 11 times in this chapter; a convocation is a summons or a calling out, a public meeting, reading or rehearsal. 5 times we see the word translated ‘a day of solemn rest’. 10 times the phrase ‘you shall do no work’.

This chapter deals with holy time, time set apart to the LORD, time to cease from the routine, time to rest and reflect, time to gather, to assemble together to remember together.

Outline

1-8 Sabbath, Passover, Unleavened Bread

1-2 intro

3 weekly Sabbath – solemn rest; holy convocation; no work

4-8 Passover and Unleavened Bread

1st day – holy convocation; no ordinary work

7th day – holy convocation; no ordinary work

9-22 Firstfruits and Weeks

9-14 Feast of Firstfruits

15-22 Feast of Weeks [Harvest, Pentecost] – holy convocation; no ordinary work

23-25 Trumpets – solemn rest; memorial; holy convocation; no ordinary work

26-32 Day of Atonement – holy convocation; no work; sabbath of solemn rest

33-44 Booths [Ingathering, Tabernacles]

1st day – holy convocation; no ordinary work; solemn rest

8th day – holy convocation, solemn assembly; no ordinary work; solemn rest

This chapter breaks into two main sections; 1-22, and 23-44; each major section concluding with the phrase “I am YHWH your God.” It further breaks down into five sections, beginning in verses 1, 9, 23, 26, and 33; each beginning with the declaration “the LORD spoke to Moses, saying…” The first section is a reminder of the weekly Sabbath, and gives instructions on the Passover and Feast of Unleavened Bread. The second section addresses the presentation of the Firstfruits during the feast of Unleavened Bread, and the presentation of firstfruits seven weeks or 50 days later. The second half of the chapter deals with the feast of Trumpets, the Day of Atonement, and the Feast of Booths. The first major section, verses 1-22, deal with the Spring Festivals; the second major section deals with the Fall Festivals.

There are seven holy convocations in addition to the weekly Sabbath; four of these are specified as days of solemn rest.

Three of these, The Feast of Unleavened bread, The Feast of Weeks or Harvest, and the Feast of Booths or Ingathering were to be pilgrim festivals.

Deuteronomy 16:16 “Three times a year all your males shall appear before the LORD your God at the place that he will choose: at the Feast of Unleavened Bread, at the Feast of Weeks, and at the Feast of Booths. They shall not appear before the LORD empty-handed. (cf. Exodus 23:14-17; 34:18-23)

At these three, every male was to come up to the temple.

Weekly Sabbaths

Leviticus 23:1 The LORD spoke to Moses, saying, 2 “Speak to the people of Israel and say to them, These are the appointed feasts of the LORD that you shall proclaim as holy convocations; they are my appointed feasts. 3 “Six days shall work be done, but on the seventh day is a Sabbath of solemn rest, a holy convocation. You shall do no work. It is a Sabbath to the LORD in all your dwelling places.

This is a reminder of the fourth commandment, that as God created all things in six days and then rested to enjoy what he had made, so we are to labor for six days and rest for one. At the beginning of a chapter addressing annual holy days of rest and worship, there is a reminder of the weekly cycle of work and rest. The other feasts are founded on this basic cycle of work and rest. Many of the feasts take on the characteristics of a weekly Sabbath, even if they do not fall on a Saturday. The Sabbath is a solemn day of rest, a holy convocation, a Sabbath to the LORD. Every moment of time is a gift. Some time is to be set aside to enjoy sweet fellowship with our Creator. These sacred times of rest are to be Godward rest, Sabbaths to the LORD. They are to be pervasive. In all your dwelling places, wherever you are, there is to be time set aside for devotion to the LORD.

Passover and Unleavened Bread

Leviticus 23:4 “These are the appointed feasts of the LORD, the holy convocations, which you shall proclaim at the time appointed for them. 5 In the first month, on the fourteenth day of the month at twilight, is the LORD’s Passover. 6 And on the fifteenth day of the same month is the Feast of Unleavened Bread to the LORD; for seven days you shall eat unleavened bread. 7 On the first day you shall have a holy convocation; you shall not do any ordinary work. 8 But you shall present a food offering to the LORD for seven days. On the seventh day is a holy convocation; you shall not do any ordinary work.”

This is a very brief summary of the Passover and the Feast of Unleavened Bread. The origin of these celebrations comes from Exodus 12-13, where God took his people out of slavery in Egypt. A Passover lamb was sacrificed in place of the firstborn son in each home, and the blood was applied to the door to protect those inside from the destroyer. Exodus 12:2 states that at the Exodus, the Lord changed this month, the month of Abib (or Nisan) to be the first month of the year for them. This was the birth of the nation of Israel. “Out of Egypt I called my son” (Hos.11:1; Mt.2:15).

Notice, at twilight on the 14th day the Passover was celebrated. On the following day, the 15th, began the Feast of Unleavened Bread. The leaven was removed on the first day of the Feast, on the day after the Passover was sacrificed. No leaven was to be used for the duration of the feast. The first day and the seventh day of the feast were to be holy convocations.

Firstfruits

Leviticus 23:9 And the LORD spoke to Moses, saying, 10 “Speak to the people of Israel and say to them, When you come into the land that I give you and reap its harvest, you shall bring the sheaf of the firstfruits of your harvest to the priest, 11 and he shall wave the sheaf before the LORD, so that you may be accepted. On the day after the Sabbath the priest shall wave it. 12 And on the day when you wave the sheaf, you shall offer a male lamb a year old without blemish as a burnt offering to the LORD. 13 And the grain offering with it shall be two tenths of an ephah of fine flour mixed with oil, a food offering to the LORD with a pleasing aroma, and the drink offering with it shall be of wine, a fourth of a hin. 14 And you shall eat neither bread nor grain parched or fresh until this same day, until you have brought the offering of your God: it is a statute forever throughout your generations in all your dwellings.

There is some debate as to exactly when the firstfruits was presented. Most likely, it was on the day after the Sabbath during the feast of Unleavened Bread. So if Passover fell on Friday, then the Sabbath, Saturday, would be the first day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread. On Sunday, the day after the Sabbath, the Firstfruits would be presented. This would be the first barley harvest, in March or April. Nothing of the new harvest was to be eaten until this presentation of the Firstfruits was made to the LORD. This was a very tangible reminder that everything belonged to the LORD, and every good thing came from him. The Firstfruits was the first portion of the new spring harvest, a promise of more of the harvest to come.

Weeks [Harvest, Pentecost]

Leviticus 23:15 “You shall count seven full weeks from the day after the Sabbath, from the day that you brought the sheaf of the wave offering. 16 You shall count fifty days to the day after the seventh Sabbath. Then you shall present a grain offering of new grain to the LORD. 17 You shall bring from your dwelling places two loaves of bread to be waved, made of two tenths of an ephah. They shall be of fine flour, and they shall be baked with leaven, as firstfruits to the LORD. 18 And you shall present with the bread seven lambs a year old without blemish, and one bull from the herd and two rams. They shall be a burnt offering to the LORD, with their grain offering and their drink offerings, a food offering with a pleasing aroma to the LORD. 19 And you shall offer one male goat for a sin offering, and two male lambs a year old as a sacrifice of peace offerings. 20 And the priest shall wave them with the bread of the firstfruits as a wave offering before the LORD, with the two lambs. They shall be holy to the LORD for the priest. 21 And you shall make a proclamation on the same day. You shall hold a holy convocation. You shall not do any ordinary work. It is a statute forever in all your dwelling places throughout your generations.

The Feast of Weeks was calculated 7 weeks or 50 days after the Sunday of Firstfruits. This would fall on a Sunday in late May or early June, and coincide with the firstfruits of the wheat harvest. This is the only feast where leavened bread was permitted. Jewish tradition connects this feast to the giving of the Law on Mount Sinai, 50 days after the Exodus from Egypt.

Pointing Back and Forward

These feasts would be annual reminders that God is the source of every good thing. This year, we are again dependent on God’s provision for our needs. It is he that causes crops to grow. These feasts would also be memorials of God’s past faithfulness. God decisively delivered his people out of bondage and into relationship with him. He faithfully provided bread from heaven throughout the wilderness wanderings, even in the midst of the disobedience and grumbling of the people. When Israel entered the promised land, they enjoyed the produce from a land they had not worked. Feasts are memorials of God’s past and present faithfulness. But there is a future aspect to these feasts. They were pointers to something to come. Just as we have seen that the Levitical sacrificial system was a shadow of good things to come, pointing to Jesus, so the calendar of feasts was a shadow, drawing our attention to the fulfillment in Jesus.

When John saw Jesus approaching, he cried out

John 1:29 The next day he saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!

Paul says in 1 Corinthians 5

1 Corinthians 5:7 Cleanse out the old leaven that you may be a new lump, as you really are unleavened. For Christ, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed.

Jesus Christ is our Passover Lamb. Jesus was crucified on Passover. It is important to remember that the sacrifice was killed before the leaven was cleansed. Leaven is a symbol of sin.

1 Corinthians 5:8 Let us therefore celebrate the festival, not with the old leaven, the leaven of malice and evil, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.

We do not attempt to clean ourselves up in order to be rescued by Jesus. We begin to cleanse out the old leaven becaus Christ our Passover Lamb has been sacrificed. Sin has been put away by his crucifixion (Heb.9:26). “…the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all” (Is.53:6). Jesus’ body rested in the grave on the first day of the feast of unleavened bread. But on the day after the Sabbath, on Sunday Morning, he was presented alive!

1 Corinthians 15:20 But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep.

On the day the first of the barley harvest was presented to the Priests in the temple, Jesus presented himself alive. Over the next 40 days, he presented himself alive to many witnesses. After 40 days, he ascended to the right hand of his Father in heaven. And ten days later, 50 days after his resurrection,

Acts 2:1 When the day of Pentecost arrived, they were all together in one place. 2 And suddenly there came from heaven a sound like a mighty rushing wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting. 3 And divided tongues as of fire appeared to them and rested on each one of them. 4 And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance.

On the feast of Weeks, when the Firstfruits of the wheat harvest were presented in the temple, the Lord poured out his Spirit on his followers, and the church was born. On the day commemorating the giving of the Law on Sinai, the Spirit was given to the believers gathered in Jerusalem, the fulfillment of the New Covenant promises.

We may wonder why the section from chapter 19 on regulations for harvesting is appended again here in Leviticus 23.

Leviticus 23:22 “And when you reap the harvest of your land, you shall not reap your field right up to its edge, nor shall you gather the gleanings after your harvest. You shall leave them for the poor and for the sojourner: I am the LORD your God.”

But it seems appropriate that in the context of the church, where Jew and Gentile are united in one body through the gospel, there would be some mention of blessings extended to the foreigners, the outsiders.

Leaven

It is interesting to remember that Pentecost, the Feast of Weeks, was the one feast where leavened bread was permitted. Leaven puffs up, picturing pride, and as such it was not permitted on the altar. In Matthew 13, Jesus told a series of parables describing what the kingdom would be like. He compared it to a man who sowed good seed in his field, but while his servants were sleeping an enemy sowed weeds among the wheat. Both were allowed to grow together until the harvest. He likened it to a mustard seed which grew abnormally large and provided a refuge for the evil birds of the air. Then he compared it to leaven that a woman hid in three measures of flour. He compared it to a field which was purchased in order to obtain the treasure hidden there. He compared it to a net which gathered fish of every kind, later to be sorted out, good from bad. Jesus taught that the kingdom of heaven is a mixed bag. There would be the good, genuine wheat, good fish, a treasure; but there would be also bad, weeds, bad fish, room even for the agents of the evil one to be at home within its expanding branches. Jesus taught that these would be allowed to grow together, but they would be sorted out at the end of the age. Jesus is telling us tha the church is leavened. It is mixed. There is good together with the bad. There will be true believers, and there will be false professors. Among Jesus’ own twelve, there was a Judas. It is not our job to sort them all out. Jesus is fully capable of doing that. It is our job to ‘examine yourselves to see whether you are in the faith’ (2Cor.13:5); and to ‘keep a close watch on yourself and on the teaching‘ (1Tim.4:16). It is our job to ‘strive for peace with everyone, and for the holiness without which no one will see the Lord’ (Heb.12:14). It is our job to live in such a way ‘that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven’ (Mt.5:16). It is even our job to ‘purge the evil person from among you’ (1Cor.5:12). It is our job to ‘pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest’ (Mt.9:38). And to trust the Lord that even some who smell a lot like bad fish would experience the transformational work of the Spirit and become new creations before the end. Among Jesus’ disciples there was also a Peter, who was told ‘get behind me Satan’ (Mt.16:23); who denied Jesus 3 times, who went on tobe restored, and to ‘feed my sheep’ (Jn.21:17).

Pastor Rodney Zedicher ~ Ephraim Church of the Bible ~ www.ephraimbible.org

March 1, 2017 Posted by | Leviticus, podcast | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

1 Corinthians 5:6-8; Celebrate the Festival

09/15 1 Corinthians 5:6-8 Celebrate the Festival; Audio available at: http://www.ephraimbible.org/Sermons/20130915_1cor5_6-8.mp3

1Cor 5 [SBLGNT]

6 Οὐ καλὸν τὸ καύχημα ὑμῶν. οὐκ οἴδατε ὅτι μικρὰ ζύμη ὅλον τὸ φύραμα ζυμοῖ; 7 ἐκκαθάρατε τὴν παλαιὰν ζύμην, ἵνα ἦτε νέον φύραμα, καθώς ἐστε ἄζυμοι. καὶ γὰρ τὸ πάσχα ἡμῶν ἐτύθη Χριστός· 8 ὥστε ἑορτάζωμεν, μὴ ἐν ζύμῃ παλαιᾷ μηδὲ ἐν ζύμῃ κακίας καὶ πονηρίας, ἀλλ’ ἐν ἀζύμοις εἰλικρινείας καὶ ἀληθείας.

1Cor 5 [ESV2011]

5:1 It is actually reported that there is sexual immorality among you, and of a kind that is not tolerated even among pagans, for a man has his father’s wife. 2 And you are arrogant! Ought you not rather to mourn? Let him who has done this be removed from among you. 3 For though absent in body, I am present in spirit; and as if present, I have already pronounced judgment on the one who did such a thing. 4 When you are assembled in the name of the Lord Jesus and my spirit is present, with the power of our Lord Jesus, 5 you are to deliver this man to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, so that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord.

6 Your boasting is not good. Do you not know that a little leaven leavens the whole lump? 7 Cleanse out the old leaven that you may be a new lump, as you really are unleavened. For Christ, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed. 8 Let us therefore celebrate the festival, not with the old leaven, the leaven of malice and evil, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.

The church in Corinth had a problem. They had a problem with being puffed up. They had a problem with pride. Paul takes a sharp needle and applies it to their over-inflated balloon in order to bring them back to a humility appropriate to those who are only sinners saved by God’s grace through the cross of our Lord Jesus.

6 out of the 7 times that the word ‘puffed up’ or ‘arrogant’ appears in the New Testament, it is in 1 Corinthians. In 4:6 he tells them that they need to learn “not to go beyond what is written, that none of you may be puffed up in favor of one against another.” In 4:18-19 he says that some are arrogant or puffed up, as though I were not coming to you, but he warns that he will come and find out not the talk of these puffed up people, but their power. In verse 2 of this chapter, he says that they are puffed up when they ought rather to be mourning. In chapter 8, he says that knowledge puffs up, but love builds up. In chapter 13 he says that love does not envy or boast, and it is not puffed up. They have an over-inflated view of themselves.

He repeatedly addresses boasting in this letter. In chapter 1, he reminds them that God chose to save in such a way “so that no human being might boast in the presence of God.” He quotes the Scripture “let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.” He concludes in chapter 3 “so let no one boast in men.” In chapter 4, he asks “what do you have that you did not receive? If then you received it why do you boast as if you did not receive it?” In this passage he starts out by saying “your boasting is not good.” The Corinthians had a problem with pride, with being puffed up, with boasting.

In the first verses of this chapter, he applies the sharp point of glaring evidence to burst their over-inflated balloon. They, who claim to be so wise and strong and spiritual and mature, are tolerating a form of sexual immorality in the church that is not even tolerated among unbelievers. The church of Jesus Christ must have higher standards of morality than the world, not lower.

They are arrogant when they ought to be grieving. Their boasting is not good. They may have been flaunting this immoral person as an example of their so-called freedom in Christ. More likely, they were aware of the issue, but simply chose to look the other way and pretend that this sin did not affect them. They took an individualistic attitude toward spirituality; as if it were every man for himself. They may have even been boasting that they were not like this sinner.

Do You Not Know?

Paul rebukes their pride head on, and asks them an insulting question. This is the second of ten such questions we find in 1 Corinthians. To ask someone who claims to be wise and advanced and super-spiritual ‘do you not know?’ is a blow to the ego. You think you are so wise; you are self-deceived. Let me bring you back to the basics. There are some really simple things you ought to know, but the evidence of your actions reveals that you are ignorant of these basic truths. Do you not know?

A little leaven leavens the whole lump. This is a proverbial principle. We might say ‘one bad apple spoils the whole bunch’. Paul is pointing out the organic unity and interconnectedness of the church body. You all are one lump of dough. Because of our connection with Christ, we are connected with one another. We have been kneaded together through trials into a single indivisible whole. Each piece of dough is organically connected with the whole, and affected by the whole. The sin of one will infect or taint all the rest.

Jesus told his disciples to ‘watch out and beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and Sadducees’ (Mt.16:6). “They understood that he did not tell them to beware of the leaven of bread, but of the teaching of the Pharisees and Sadducees” (Mt.16:12) “which is hypocrisy” (Lk.12:1).

Leaven in that day was a starter of dough that already contained living organisms which feed on the sugars and release carbon dioxide. The carbon dioxide is trapped inside the dough which causes the dough to rise or become inflated or puffed up. Once leaven is introduced into a lump of dough, it will quickly permeate the entire batch of dough. A tiny piece of this leavened dough can be broken off and used to leaven other batches of dough. The smallest amount of leaven can affect a huge amount of dough. Leaven in the bible is used as an illustration of sin. Because the body of Christ is bound together in unity, the church cannot claim to be spiritually advanced when evil is tolerated among them. Don’t think that because you are not personally involved, you are innocent. There is corporate identity and corporate guilt. That is why Paul does not address the sinner. He addresses the group of believers and calls for them to take action.

Elsewhere he uses the illustration of the church as a body. If one part of the body is infected, the whole body is at risk. Sometimes desperate measures are necessary to curb the spread of the cancer. But you don’t go around haphazardly lopping off limbs. That is a last resort when every other kind of healing rescue has failed.

Passover and the Feast of Unleavened Bread

What Paul has in mind here is the feast of unleavened bread that began with the passover celebration. Listen to God’s instructions from Exodus 12.

Exodus 12:15 Seven days you shall eat unleavened bread. On the first day you shall remove leaven out of your houses, for if anyone eats what is leavened, from the first day until the seventh day, that person shall be cut off from Israel. 16 On the first day you shall hold a holy assembly, and on the seventh day a holy assembly. No work shall be done on those days. But what everyone needs to eat, that alone may be prepared by you. 17 And you shall observe the Feast of Unleavened Bread, for on this very day I brought your hosts out of the land of Egypt. Therefore you shall observe this day, throughout your generations, as a statute forever. 18 In the first month, from the fourteenth day of the month at evening, you shall eat unleavened bread until the twenty-first day of the month at evening. 19 For seven days no leaven is to be found in your houses. If anyone eats what is leavened, that person will be cut off from the congregation of Israel, whether he is a sojourner or a native of the land. 20 You shall eat nothing leavened; in all your dwelling places you shall eat unleavened bread.”

And Exodus 13.

Exodus 13:6 Seven days you shall eat unleavened bread, and on the seventh day there shall be a feast to the LORD. 7 Unleavened bread shall be eaten for seven days; no leavened bread shall be seen with you, and no leaven shall be seen with you in all your territory. 8 You shall tell your son on that day, ‘It is because of what the LORD did for me when I came out of Egypt.’ (cf. Deuteronomy 16)

This was a celebration memorializing what the LORD did for me when I came out of Egypt. God’s people were slaves, cruelly oppressed. God was about to unleash his wrath against all the unbelievers who were mistreating his people and set his people free by a mighty deliverance. A lamb without blemish was to be slaughtered for each household, in place of the firstborn son. Its blood was applied to the door of the house as an indication that those inside were followers of God, obeying his instructions, covered by the blood. All leaven was to be removed from the house, and the passover lamb eaten with a hasty meal of unleavened bread and bitter herbs. There was not to be a trace of puffed up pride, because salvation is completely from the Lord. ‘It is because of what the LORD did for me’.

Be Who You Are

1 Corinthians 5:6 Your boasting is not good. Do you not know that a little leaven leavens the whole lump? 7 Cleanse out the old leaven that you may be a new lump, as you really are unleavened. For Christ, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed. 8 Let us therefore celebrate the festival, not with the old leaven, the leaven of malice and evil, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.

Paul instructs the church in Corinth to cleanse out the old leaven. This is the third of four commands to expel the unrepentant sinner from the church; (v.1) let him who has done this be removed from among you, (v.5) deliver this man to Satan, (v.7) cleanse out the old leaven, (v.13) purge the evil from among you. There is sin that is contaminating the purity of the church, and they must deal with it. Remember, this was an ongoing public issue where there was no repentance. Jesus said “let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone at her” (Jn.8:7). All of us are sinners, forgiven by the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ. We must not be quick to cast stones. But when someone is presuming on God’s grace and willfully continuing in sin that grace may increase, we are to defend the honor of Christ and the purity of his bride the church.

It is in the middle of this difficult context that we have one of the most beautiful pictures of Jesus. This is an amazing statement. “Cleanse out the old leaven that you may be a new lump, as you really are unleavened. For Christ, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed.” Paul is reminding the church in Corinth who they are in Christ. He is admonishing them to be who they are in Christ Jesus. He says ‘as you really are unleavened’. There is leaven of a horrific kind in this church, a kind not even tolerated among unbelievers; they are commanded to cleanse out the old leaven. But he says ‘as you really are unleavened’. They are not acting in harmony with who they are in Christ. In Christ, they are unleavened. In Christ, their sin is gone, as far as the east is from the west, remembered no more. He began this letter addressing them as “the church of God that is in Corinth, to those sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints” (1:2). He gives thanks for the faithfulness of God, “who will sustain you to the end, guiltless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ” (1:8). In they eyes of God they are justified, declared righteous, unleavened, sanctified, guiltless, because Christ, our Passover, has been sacrificed. In Egypt, the lamb died in place of the son. Its blood covered the family. John saw Jesus and said:

John 1:29 The next day he saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!

This is the ground, the basis for the command. This is not the goal of the command. It does not say ‘cleanse out the old leaven so that you will be worthy of the sacrifice of Christ’. What it does say is ‘cleanse out the old leaven because Christ has been sacrificed once for all and you are unleavened’. Be who you already are in Christ. Let your conduct come into harmony with who you are. The Messiah, Jesus, is our passover lamb, our substitute. We are covered by his blood. All who come under the protection of his blood, no matter what they have done, are safe. “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved”(Acts 16:31).

We often live in an incongruity. Our action does not match our identity. Paul deals with this in Romans 6. In outrage he asks:

Romans 6:2 …How can we who died to sin still live in it? 3 Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? 4 We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life.

With Christ we died to sin. With him we are raised to new life. He goes on with some practical instruction to be who we are:

Romans 6:13 Do not present your members to sin as instruments for unrighteousness, but present yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life, and your members to God as instruments for righteousness. 14 For sin will have no dominion over you, since you are not under law but under grace.

You are under grace, you are not getting what you deserve, you have been set free from sin, you have been given new life. Now be who you are! The Christian life must be centered around the cross. The life of the church must keep the message of Christ crucified at center stage. Pursue the purity of the church, because Christ our passover has been sacrificed and he has made us pure.

Let Us Feast!

8 Let us therefore celebrate the festival, not with the old leaven, the leaven of malice and evil, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.

What must our response be to the awesome liberating truth of the Lamb of God who takes away our sin? Feast! Therefore keep on feasting! Celebrate the festival. Go on feasting. As we feast, we are to put aside the old leaven, leaven of badness and depravity. Instead we are to feast in unleavened clarity and transparency, with unleavened truth. We are to feast. The Christian life is to be a feast, a celebration. There are times for mourning and grief, grief over sin and decisive action to put away sin as Paul instructs in this passage, but the Christian life is to be characterized by joy. We are invited to a feast. With what is the table set? Keep in mind that we are talking about the passover. Christ our passover has once for all been sacrificed. We are invited to feast on the Passover Lamb. We are to feast on Jesus, to feed on Jesus, be nourished and strengthened by Jesus, to be sustained by Jesus, to let him meet our every need and satisfy our every longing. With transparency and truth, we are to come to the cross of our Lord Jesus and find in him everything our souls long for.

December 2, 1855, C.H. Spurgeon preached on this passage. He said:

“But when the Christian gets the blood sprinkled, that is not all he wants. He wants something to feed upon. And, O sweet thought! Jesus Christ is not only a Saviour for sinners, but he is food for them after they are saved. The Paschal Lamb by faith we eat. We live on it. You may tell, my hearers, whether you have the blood sprinkled on the door by this: do you eat the Lamb? …What the Christian lives on is not Christ’s righteousness, but Christ; he does not live on Christ’s pardon, but on Christ; and on Christ he lives daily, on nearness to Christ. Oh! I do love Christ- preaching. It is not the doctrine of justification that does my heart good, it is Christ, the justifier; it is not pardon that so much makes the Christian’s heart rejoice, it is Christ the pardoner; it is not election that I love half so much as my being chosen in Christ ere worlds began; ay! it is not final perseverance that I love so much as the thought that in Christ my life is hid, and that since he gives unto his sheep eternal life, they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of his hand. Take care, Christian, to eat the Paschal Lamb and nothing else. I tell thee man, if thou eatest that alone, it will be like bread to thee—thy soul’s best food. If thou livest on aught else but the Saviour, thou art like one who seeks to live on some weed that grows in the desert, instead of eating the manna that comes down from heaven. Jesus is the manna. In Jesus as well as by Jesus we live.” [C.H. Spurgeon, Christ Our Passover A Sermon (No. 54) Delivered on Sabbath Evening, December 2, 1855]

Christ our Passover has been sacrificed; so then, let us feast on him!

Pastor Rodney Zedicher ~ Ephraim Church of the Bible ~ www.ephraimbible.org

September 15, 2013 Posted by | 1 Corinthians, podcast | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Exodus 23:13-19 – Invited To Celebrate

http://www.ephraimbible.org/Sermons/20120129_exodus23_13-19.mp3

01/29 Exodus 23:13-19 Worship God and Celebrate in His Presence

We are going to jump back into Exodus right where we left off a little over two months ago. All scripture is God-breathed and useful for the New Testament believer to benefit by, so we are working our way through the book of Exodus to see what God has to say to us there. We are in Exodus chapter 23, at the tail end of what is know as ‘the book of the covenant’, a series of specific applications of God’s Ten Words to his people, describing to them what life lived in relationship with God should look like. The verses we will look at today, 23:13-19, reiterate the first command and then describe three annual pilgrimage feasts, feasts that all Israelites would be required to attend.

Exclusive Worship

13 “Pay attention to all that I have said to you, and make no mention of the names of other gods, nor let it be heard on your lips.

This is a reiteration of the first command that God gave his people: ‘You shall have no other Gods before me’ (Ex.20:3). God is a jealous God. When God wastes parchment by repeating something in his word, it is because it is important. We need to hear it. It is important that we get it. Here he is coming to the close of the book of the covenant, and he reminds us how important this is. ‘Pay attention!’ ‘Pay attention to all that I have said to you’. Remember the first commandment I gave to you. ‘Make no mention of the names of other gods, nor let it be heard on your lips’. God demands first place in our hearts. God demands an exclusive place in our lives. God will tolerate no rival affections. God is King of kings and Lord of lords, Lord over all. He is not one among many. He refuses to share his glory. God alone is to be worshiped, honored, obeyed, loved. We need to be told this multiple times, because our hearts are so inclined to worship so many other things.

To know the name of a deity was thought to grant access to that deity, and obligate that deity to answer your requests. To forbid even the mention of the name of another deity was to exclude the possibility of any association with any deity other than God alone. This is the strongest possible statement of monotheism, that there is only one God, and he alone is worth knowing. “Make no mention of the names of other gods, nor let it be heard on your lips.” This is why it is so startling that Jesus teaches his disciples to pray in his name. If Jesus were a rival deity, this would be a direct violation of this command. Jesus suggests that we pray in his name to the Father, and he encourages us that this is a way of assuring that the Father will answer.

John 15:16 You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name, he may give it to you.

John 16:23 In that day you will ask nothing of me. Truly, truly, I say to you, whatever you ask of the Father in my name, he will give it to you. 24 Until now you have asked nothing in my name. Ask, and you will receive, that your joy may be full. … 26 In that day you will ask in my name, and I do not say to you that I will ask the Father on your behalf; 27 for the Father himself loves you, because you have loved me and have believed that I came from God.

But Jesus even goes beyond praying in his name to the Father. He invites us to address our prayers to him personally.

John 14:13 Whatever you ask in my name, this I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. 14 If you ask me anything in my name, I will do it.

Jesus invites us to ask him in his own name. This would indeed be blasphemous if Jesus were not God. Praying in Jesus’ name would fall under the condemnation of Exodus 23:13 if Jesus were claiming to be another God. But what Jesus claims is that he is one with the Father, one God. For Jesus’ command to make any sense at all, Jesus must be personally distinct from the Father; not the same person. We may ask the Father in Jesus’ name; or we may ask Jesus in his own name. Jesus is not the Father. Jesus is one God with the Father. This is exactly what Christianity has historically expressed as the teaching of the trinity. There is only, exclusively, uniquely one God. But this one God eternally exists in three distinct persons.

13 “Pay attention to all that I have said to you, and make no mention of the names of other gods, nor let it be heard on your lips.

three annual feasts

14 “Three times in the year you shall keep a feast to me. 15 You shall keep the Feast of Unleavened Bread. As I commanded you, you shall eat unleavened bread for seven days at the appointed time in the month of Abib, for in it you came out of Egypt. None shall appear before me empty–handed. 16 You shall keep the Feast of Harvest, of the firstfruits of your labor, of what you sow in the field. You shall keep the Feast of Ingathering at the end of the year, when you gather in from the field the fruit of your labor. 17 Three times in the year shall all your males appear before the Lord GOD. 18 “You shall not offer the blood of my sacrifice with anything leavened, or let the fat of my feast remain until the morning. 19 “The best of the firstfruits of your ground you shall bring into the house of the LORD your God. “You shall not boil a young goat in its mother’s milk.

Corporate Worship

God says ‘you shall keep a feast to me’. He says ‘None shall appear before me empty-handed’. He says ‘three times a year shall all your males appear before the Lord GOD’. He tells us we must bring our best to him. Notice that all males were required to appear before the LORD God. This is corporate worship. I’ve heard some people say that they feel closer to God worshiping at home in their living room or out on the mountaintop than in church. I understand that sentiment. But worship is not about you or how you feel. God desires that all his people gather together to worship him. Worship is not about us, it’s about God. There were three times in the year, these three pilgrim-festivals, that every male in Israel was required to appear before the Lord. Although women were not required to be there, we learn from passages like 1 Samuel chapter 1 that they were welcome and that they did indeed come. God desires that we gather together to worship him. Listen to God’s ultimate purpose for our worship:

Revelation 7:9 After this I looked, and behold, a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands, 10 and crying out with a loud voice, “Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!”

The Pilgrim Feasts

Let’s look at each of these feasts that God required all his people to participate in. There are seven feasts listed in Leviticus 23. Here in Exodus, the three pilgrim festivals are highlighted.

The Feast of Unleavened Bread (Passover)

14 “Three times in the year you shall keep a feast to me. 15 You shall keep the Feast of Unleavened Bread. As I commanded you, you shall eat unleavened bread for seven days at the appointed time in the month of Abib, for in it you came out of Egypt. None shall appear before me empty–handed.

The feast of unleavened bread was closely connected with the feast of Passover. This fell at the time of the early barley harvest. Passover, as we have seen, celebrated God’s redemption of his people out of slavery. The passover lamb was killed as a substitute for the firstborn son, and brought protection from God’s wrath. John introduces Jesus by saying ‘behold the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!’ (Jn.1:29). Paul tells us that ‘Christ our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed’ (1Cor.5:7). The feast of unleavened bread began at Passover and lasted for seven days. All leaven, a picture of sin, was to be removed, and only unleavened bread was to be eaten, symbolizing the perfect righteousness of Christ, the righteousness that he gives to us. As Israel was lead out of slavery in Egypt, so we are led out of our slavery to sin. The crucifixion of Jesus, the spotless Lamb of God happened at Passover time.

The Feast of Harvest (Pentecost)

16 You shall keep the Feast of Harvest, of the firstfruits of your labor, of what you sow in the field.

Three days after Passover, a sheaf of the first grain was to be brought and waved before the Lord. This was a recognition of God’s provision and of the promise of good things to come. This was the offering of firstfruits mentioned in Leviticus 23:10. Counting 7 weeks or 50 days from Passover and the firstfruits offering, the feast of Harvest was celebrated. This feast marked the end of the wheat harvest, and was the only feast that implemented leavened bread. Two loaves of leavened bread would be waved before the Lord – Jew and Gentile together in one body, forgiven but still battling indwelling sin. Jewish tradition marked this day as the day of the giving of the Law at Mount Sinai, fifty days after the departure from Egypt. This feast became known in the Greek-speaking world as ‘the fiftieth day’ or ‘Pentecost’.

Christ, our passover Lamb was sacrificed for us. On the third day, He was raised from the dead. Paul points to this in 1 Corinthians 15:

1 Corinthians 15:20 But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep.

Fifty days later, we are told:

Acts 2:1 When the day of Pentecost arrived, they were all together in one place. 2 And suddenly there came from heaven a sound like a mighty rushing wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting. 3 And divided tongues as of fire appeared to them and rested on each one of them. 4 And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance. 5 Now there were dwelling in Jerusalem Jews, devout men from every nation under heaven. 6 And at this sound the multitude came together, and they were bewildered, because each one was hearing them speak in his own language. 7 And they were amazed and astonished, saying, “Are not all these who are speaking Galileans? 8 And how is it that we hear, each of us in his own native language? 9 Parthians and Medes and Elamites and residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, 10 Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya belonging to Cyrene, and visitors from Rome, 11 both Jews and proselytes, Cretans and Arabians–we hear them telling in our own tongues the mighty works of God.”

The harvest feast is being celebrated. People from every nation under heaven were gathering together at God’s command to celebrate the feast in Jerusalem. The promised and anticipated Holy Spirit comes upon the disciples, and they preach the good news of Jesus crucified, resurrected, now Lord of all. God reverses the confusion of languages from the tower of Babel and the harvest begins.

… 37 Now when they heard this they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, “Brothers, what shall we do?” 38 And Peter said to them, “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. 39 For the promise is for you and for your children and for all who are far off, everyone whom the Lord our God calls to himself.” 40 And with many other words he bore witness and continued to exhort them, saying, “Save yourselves from this crooked generation.” 41 So those who received his word were baptized, and there were added that day about three thousand souls.

Jesus had told his disciples:

Luke 10:2 And he said to them, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few. Therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.

God’s Holy Spirit was poured out, and three-thousand souls were harvested that day, and the church was born. And this was just a foretaste of the harvest that is to come! Jesus said:

Matthew 16:18 … I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.

The Feast of Ingathering (Booths; The Feast)

You shall keep the Feast of Ingathering at the end of the year, when you gather in from the field the fruit of your labor. 17 Three times in the year shall all your males appear before the Lord GOD. 18 “You shall not offer the blood of my sacrifice with anything leavened, or let the fat of my feast remain until the morning. 19 “The best of the firstfruits of your ground you shall bring into the house of the LORD your God. “You shall not boil a young goat in its mother’s milk.

The Feast of Ingathering celebrated the final fall harvest of second-crop grains, along with tree and vine crops such as olives and grapes. This was a massive celebration of the completion of the harvest, celebrating the goodness of God in his abundant provision. Remember, these instructions are being given in the wilderness of Sinai, in anticipation of entering the promised land, a land flowing with milk and honey. This festival was also known as the Feast of Booths, because the people lived in temporary booths to remind them of their time in the wilderness after God had delivered them from Egypt.

In Jesus’ day, part of the celebration of the Feast of Ingathering had come to include taking water from the pool of Siloam and pouring it out as an offering to the Lord. This is the context of Jesus’ statement in John 7.

John 7:37 On the last day of the feast, the great day, Jesus stood up and cried out, “If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink. 38 Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, ‘Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.’” 39 Now this he said about the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were to receive, for as yet the Spirit had not been given, because Jesus was not yet glorified.

This feast, the Feast of Ingathering, when all of the harvest is complete and it is time to celebrate, has its ultimate fulfillment when God once again dwells or pitches his tent with his people. The prophet Zechariah points to its celebration at the time of Christ’s return.

Zechariah 14:4 On that day his feet shall stand on the Mount of Olives that lies before Jerusalem on the east, and the Mount of Olives shall be split in two from east to west by a very wide valley, … 5 …Then the LORD my God will come, and all the holy ones with him. 6 On that day there shall be no light, cold, or frost. 7 And there shall be a unique day, which is known to the LORD, neither day nor night, but at evening time there shall be light. …8 On that day living waters shall flow out from Jerusalem, half of them to the eastern sea and half of them to the western sea. It shall continue in summer as in winter. 9 And the LORD will be king over all the earth. On that day the LORD will be one and his name one. … 16 Then everyone who survives of all the nations that have come against Jerusalem shall go up year after year to worship the King, the LORD of hosts, and to keep the Feast of Booths.

Invitation to Feast

God is inviting us to his feast. God knows how to host a magnificent celebration. God knows how to throw a party! The section just before this in Exodus laid out God’s requirement for rest. You must take time to cease from you labors, to seek refreshment and rest. Now God is demanding that we enjoy his feasts. These rules and commandments are so repressive and harsh! Rest. Be refreshed. Feast with me. It is sobering to see that this is one of God’s commands that his people failed to keep regularly. God invites us to a series of parties and we respectfully decline. This was the content of some of Jesus’ teaching; God throwing a feast.

Matthew 22:1 And again Jesus spoke to them in parables, saying, 2 “The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who gave a wedding feast for his son, 3 and sent his servants to call those who were invited to the wedding feast, but they would not come. 4 Again he sent other servants, saying, ‘Tell those who are invited, See, I have prepared my dinner, my oxen and my fat calves have been slaughtered, and everything is ready. Come to the wedding feast.’ 5 But they paid no attention and went off, one to his farm, another to his business, 6 while the rest seized his servants, treated them shamefully, and killed them. 7 The king was angry, and he sent his troops and destroyed those murderers and burned their city. 8 Then he said to his servants, ‘The wedding feast is ready, but those invited were not worthy. 9 Go therefore to the main roads and invite to the wedding feast as many as you find.’ 10 And those servants went out into the roads and gathered all whom they found, both bad and good. So the wedding hall was filled with guests. 11 “But when the king came in to look at the guests, he saw there a man who had no wedding garment. 12 And he said to him, ‘Friend, how did you get in here without a wedding garment?’ And he was speechless. 13 Then the king said to the attendants, ‘Bind him hand and foot and cast him into the outer darkness. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’ 14 For many are called, but few are chosen.”

God provides the feast. God invites us to come, enjoy, celebrate with him. God provides everything necessary for us to enjoy him forever! And yet we come up with excuses. We decline his invitation. We refuse to come. We despise his messengers. Or we reject his provision and attempt to come on our own merit. God invites us to everlasting joy in his presence, paid for by his own Son. Let all who are thirsty come!

Pastor Rodney Zedicher ~ Ephraim Church of the Bible ~ www.ephraimbible.org

January 29, 2012 Posted by | Exodus, podcast | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Exodus 12:14-20 and 13:3-10; Feast of Unleavened Bread

http://www.ephraimbible.org/Sermons/20110220_exodus12_14-20and13_3-10.mp3

02/20 Exodus 12:14-20; 13:3-10 Feast of Unleavened Bread

Context:

Last week we looked at God’s redemption of Israel out of Egypt by a strong hand. God’s final blow against Egypt was the death of all their firstborn. Pharaoh had refused to free Israel, God’s firstborn. So God promised to kill Pharaoh’s firstborn. But God provided a way of escape. Come under the blood of the lamb and you are safe. The lamb died in the place of the firstborn. So every firstborn that survived the exodus belonged to God because God provided a substitute. We are doubly his; his by creation and we were bought with a price. God gives a reminder of his ownership of all of life by demanding that every firstborn be given to him. Every firstborn that was fit to be eaten or offered was to be sacrificed to him. All that were unclean or unfit were either to be redeemed by the substitute sacrifice of a clean animal, or destroyed. God demands that we acknowledge his right of ownership over everything by surrendering part of what he has given us back to him.

Unleavened Bread

Exodus chapter 13 begins (v.1-2) with God’s requirement of the firstborn and concludes (v.11-16) with more detailed instructions about the firstborn, but sandwiched in the middle (v.3-10) is a section about the feast of unleavened bread. How does this all fit together?

13:3 Then Moses said to the people, “Remember this day in which you came out from Egypt, out of the house of slavery, for by a strong hand the LORD brought you out from this place. No leavened bread shall be eaten. 4 Today, in the month of Abib, you are going out. 5 And when the LORD brings you into the land of the Canaanites, the Hittites, the Amorites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites, which he swore to your fathers to give you, a land flowing with milk and honey, you shall keep this service in this month. 6 Seven days you shall eat unleavened bread, and on the seventh day there shall be a feast to the LORD. 7 Unleavened bread shall be eaten for seven days; no leavened bread shall be seen with you, and no leaven shall be seen with you in all your territory. 8 You shall tell your son on that day, ‘It is because of what the LORD did for me when I came out of Egypt.’ 9 And it shall be to you as a sign on your hand and as a memorial between your eyes, that the law of the LORD may be in your mouth. For with a strong hand the LORD has brought you out of Egypt. 10 You shall therefore keep this statute at its appointed time from year to year.

What can we learn from this? Connected with paragraphs about the redemption of the firstborn by a substitute sacrifice, there is instruction about a period of time that no leavened bread is allowed.

In chapter 12, instructions for the feast of unleavened bread come sandwiched between God’s promise of deliverance for all who come under the blood, and instructions to go select and kill the passover lamb and apply its blood. Look back at chapter 12:

12:14 “This day shall be for you a memorial day, and you shall keep it as a feast to the LORD; throughout your generations, as a statute forever, you shall keep it as a feast. 15 Seven days you shall eat unleavened bread. On the first day you shall remove leaven out of your houses, for if anyone eats what is leavened, from the first day until the seventh day, that person shall be cut off from Israel. 16 On the first day you shall hold a holy assembly, and on the seventh day a holy assembly. No work shall be done on those days. But what everyone needs to eat, that alone may be prepared by you. 17 And you shall observe the Feast of Unleavened Bread, for on this very day I brought your hosts out of the land of Egypt. Therefore you shall observe this day, throughout your generations, as a statute forever. 18 In the first month, from the fourteenth day of the month at evening, you shall eat unleavened bread until the twenty–first day of the month at evening. 19 For seven days no leaven is to be found in your houses. If anyone eats what is leavened, that person will be cut off from the congregation of Israel, whether he is a sojourner or a native of the land. 20 You shall eat nothing leavened; in all your dwelling places you shall eat unleavened bread.”

So we have in chapter 12, ‘when I see the blood I will pass over you and no plague will befall you to destroy you … observe the feast of unleavened bread … Go and select lambs for yourselves … kill the passover lamb, dip it in the blood … touch the lintel and the two doorposts with the blood.’

And in chapter 13, we have ‘Consecrate to me all the firstborn. Whatever is the first to open the womb among the people of Israel, both of man and of beast, is mine. …Unleavened bread shall be eaten for seven days; no leavened bread shall be seen with you , and no leaven shall be seen with you in all your territory. … you shall set apart to the Lord all that first opens the womb. … Every firstborn of man among yours sons you shall redeem.’

Consequences are Severe

What is the connection between the passover sacrifice and the feast of unleavened bread? What is the connection between God’s right to the firstborn and the feast of unleavened bread? Notice also that the consequences for eating leavened bread are severe:

12:15 …On the first day you shall remove leaven out of your houses, for if anyone eats what is leavened, from the first day until the seventh day, that person shall be cut off from Israel.

12:19 …If anyone eats what is leavened, that person will be cut off from the congregation of Israel, whether he is a sojourner or a native of the land.

The consequences are severe – cut off from the community. The connections are interesting – the blood of the lamb and God’s ownership of us.

The feast of unleavened bread is a memorial – a sign and a memorial – that the law of the LORD may be in your mouth. It is to be a feast to the Lord throughout your generations. We are commanded to remember. Remember the day in which you were brought out of the house of slavery by the strong hand of the Lord. It is also a teaching opportunity. Remember what the Lord did for you, and tell your son on that day ‘it is because of what the Lord did for me when I came out of Egypt’. It is a memorial for you and a teaching opportunity to pass this truth on to the coming generation.

What is Leaven?

But why unleavened bread? Why is no leaven allowed? Why such sever consequences for eating anything leavened? Initially, it was a practical necessity in the hurried expulsion from Egypt – they didn’t have time for the extended process of making leavened bread and letting it rise before baking. That’s the practical and historical reason. But leaven has a symbolic significance in Scripture. Let’s first look at the significance of leaven in the Scriptures. Then we may see the connection with the passover sacrifice and the consecration of the firstborn.

In the sacrificial system that God gave Israel to make atonement for their sins, no leaven was allowed.

Exodus 23:18 “You shall not offer the blood of my sacrifice with anything leavened, or let the fat of my feast remain until the morning.

In Matthew 13 (cf. Lk.13) Jesus told three parables; about birds and weeds and leaven – all bad. His point was that in this age, there will be genuine children of the kingdom and there will be sons of the evil one – causes of sin and law-breakers – all mixed together until the final separation at the end of the age. In Matthew 16, he warns his disciples to be ware of the leaven, or teaching of the Pharisees and Sadducees. In Luke 12, he says this leaven is hypocrisy.

Leavened bread was made by mixing a starter or a fermented piece of dough saved from the last batch of bread into the new dough. ***Funk&Wagnall’s dictionary defines fermentation as “The gradual decomposition of organic compounds induced by the action of living organisms…” The bacteria that cause fermentation actually eat away at the sugars in the dough and give off a gas that inflates or puffs up the dough. So leaven in bread introduces fermentation, which is a process of decomposition or decay and death.

Leaven in Corinth

Six times in 1 Corinthians Paul warns against being ‘puffed up’ (fussiow; only 7 times in NT: 1Cor.4:6, 18, 19; 5:2; 8:1; 13:4; Col.2:18). This is literally what leaven does – it inflates the dough to several times its actual size. The danger he is warning against is being puffed up with pride. In chapter 5, Paul is confronting blatant sin among members that is being allowed and even embraced by the church. In verse 2, Paul says that they are arrogant or puffed up:

1 Corinthians 5:2 And you are arrogant! Ought you not rather to mourn? Let him who has done this be removed from among you.

He goes on to confront their boasting and likens it to leaven:

1 Corinthians 5:6 Your boasting is not good. Do you not know that a little leaven leavens the whole lump? 7 Cleanse out the old leaven that you may be a new lump, as you really are unleavened. For Christ, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed. 8 Let us therefore celebrate the festival, not with the old leaven, the leaven of malice and evil, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.

So there is leavening influence of sin in the church that will permeate the whole church if not dealt with. We are being instructed that since Christ our Passover lamb has been sacrificed, we really are a new, unleavened lump. The transformation has happened through what Jesus did for us. We must act like what we already are in Christ. We are transformed, not as a result of our own efforts, but as a result of Christ’s efforts for us. We are given a new nature. We are exhorted to live consistently with that new nature.

1 Corinthians 5:7 Cleanse out the old leaven that you may be a new lump, as you really are unleavened. For Christ, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed. 8 Let us therefore celebrate the festival, not with the old leaven, the leaven of malice and evil, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.

This helps us make the connection in Exodus between us being set apart to God, belonging to God, because we have been purchased by God with the blood of the lamb, and celebrating and remembering with unleavened bread. God brought us out from the house of slavery by a strong hand – I remember what the Lord did for me. I have been set free from sin. Having been set free I must live consistently with my freedom. This is not how to gain your freedom. This is how to be who you are now that you have been bought by Christ.

The passover lamb was to be selected on the 10th day of the month. The lamb was to be observed from the 10th to the 14th. The lamb was to be killed at twilight on the 14th and on the 15th began the seven day feast of unleavened bread. This symbolic cleansing out of sin was to be in response to the completed sacrifice and the provided deliverance. Because we have escaped God’s just wrath by coming under the blood, we respond by purging out the elements of decay.

We belong to God as his creation, and we have been redeemed, or bought with the price of a substitute sacrificed in our place, so because we are doubly owned by God, we get rid of that which causes decomposition.

1 Corinthians 6:19 …You are not your own, 20 for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.

This is the fruit of holiness is produced by Christ’s finished work of redeeming love.

Why call it a Feast?

Why call it a feast? Going without something you normally enjoy is usually called a fast, not a feast. And the severity of the consequences – we’re going to have a party, but if you eat the wrong thing, we will cut you off and throw you out. That seems a bit harsh for a feast. Again, I think we can get some help here from Paul’s use of this in 1 Corinthians:

1 Corinthians 5:6 Your boasting is not good. Do you not know that a little leaven leavens the whole lump? 7 Cleanse out the old leaven that you may be a new lump, as you really are unleavened. For Christ, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed. 8 Let us therefore celebrate the festival, not with the old leaven, the leaven of malice and evil, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.

So the old leaven, he defines, as the leaven of boasting, malice and evil. Who wants that at the party? Get rid of pride, the disposition to do evil and the active participation in evil. Get rid of what causes decay and decomposition. That will affect and infect the whole thing. We can truly celebrate with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth. There is freedom in authenticity and a genuine desire to do what is good and right.

Freedom

We often have a distorted conception of freedom. We think we’re not free unless all the options are open to us. Let’s say you have a nice new ¾ ton four wheel drive diesel pickup truck. This thing will give you the freedom to go off-road into places you never would have dreamed of taking the family mini-van. Freedom! But there’s this tiny little sticker on the dash that is trying to steal your freedom and kill your joy. It says “diesel fuel only”. That’s so limiting! Especially when unleaded is cheaper and available at so many more places. I’m just gonna peel that little freedom-crushing sticker right off and start pumping in the unleaded. In fact, I’m just going to throw off all restraint and get out the garden hose and pump some good old H2O into my gas tank. Now that’s freedom. Freedom to do whatever I feel like doing. Freedom to wreck your investment. Freedom to sit by the side of the road and wait for the tow-truck. Freedom to be called a fool by anyone who knows anything about trucks. You see, that little sticker was intended by the one who designed the vehicle to give you the parameters inside which the truck will operate correctly. Violating the design engineer’s instructions is not freedom; it is catastrophic.

We want the freedom to do the things that are off limits to us. We need a change in perspective. What we should want is freedom from the things that cause decay and decomposition. Freedom from the things that will cause our engine to seize up so that we can live the human life to the full, so that we can get the maximum pleasure we were designed to enjoy. The author of Hebrews urges us:

Hebrews 12:1 … let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, 2 looking to Jesus, ….

Peter warns us of false teachers promising phony freedom:

2 Peter 2:18 For, speaking loud boasts of folly, they entice by sensual passions of the flesh those who are barely escaping from those who live in error. 19 They promise them freedom, but they themselves are slaves of corruption. For whatever overcomes a person, to that he is enslaved.

Sin is slavery, not freedom. Holiness is true freedom to live the abundant life. Holiness, being set apart from sin and to God is the way to extract the maximum capacity of joy and true pleasure out of this life. Eternal life that Jesus promises is not merely a definition of length, but of quality. Paul gives us detailed instructions on how to walk in this blood-bought newness of life in Romans 6:

Romans 6:6 We know that our old self was crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin. 7 For one who has died has been set free from sin. 8 Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. 9 We know that Christ being raised from the dead will never die again; death no longer has dominion over him. 10 For the death he died he died to sin, once for all, but the life he lives he lives to God. 11 So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus. 12 Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal bodies, to make you obey their passions. 13 Do not present your members to sin as instruments for unrighteousness, but present yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life, and your members to God as instruments for righteousness. 14 For sin will have no dominion over you, since you are not under law but under grace. 15 What then? Are we to sin because we are not under law but under grace? By no means! 16 Do you not know that if you present yourselves to anyone as obedient slaves, you are slaves of the one whom you obey, either of sin, which leads to death, or of obedience, which leads to righteousness? 17 But thanks be to God, that you who were once slaves of sin have become obedient from the heart to the standard of teaching to which you were committed, 18 and, having been set free from sin, have become slaves of righteousness. …22 But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, the fruit you get leads to sanctification and its end, eternal life. 23 For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Remember, freedom from sin comes as a result of the once-for-all sin-bearing sacrifice of Jesus on the cross as our substitute. As a result and because of what he has done, we can enjoy the feast of freedom.

1 Corinthians 5:7 Cleanse out the old leaven that you may be a new lump, as you really are unleavened. For Christ, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed. 8 Let us therefore celebrate the festival, not with the old leaven, the leaven of malice and evil, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.

Because Christ our Passover lamb has been sacrificed for us, we can celebrate true freedom – freedom from death and decay, freedom to be what God created us to be, freedom to run the race, freedom to really live, freedom to seize the maximum pleasures and joy offered to us by our Creator who invented all the good things he longs for us to enjoy.

Pastor Rodney Zedicher ~ Ephraim Church of the Bible ~ www.ephraimbible.org

February 20, 2011 Posted by | Exodus, podcast | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment