THE PROPHETIC REVELATION OF THE FEASTS OF ISRAEL Part Two
In Leviticus and elsewhere, we read God?s proclamation of the feasts:
"And the Lord spoke to Moses, saying, ?Speak to the children of Israel, and say to them: "The feasts of the Lord, which you shall proclaim to be holy convocations, these are My feasts. Six days shall work be done, but the seventh day is a Sabbath of solemn rest, a holy convocation. You shall do no work on it; it is the Sabbath of the Lord in all your dwellings. These are the feasts of the Lord, holy convocations which you shall proclaim at their appointed times. On the fourteenth day of the first month at twilight is the Lord’s Passover. And on the fifteenth day of the same month is the Feast of Unleavened Bread to the Lord; seven days you must eat unleavened bread. On the first day you shall have a holy convocation; you shall do no customary work on it."?" Leviticus 23:1-7 (NKJV)
The Command to Assemble
We find that attendance at the feasts was not optional, for the men of Israel were commanded the following in Deuteronomy:
“Three times a year all your males shall appear before the Lord your God in the place which He chooses: at the Feast of Unleavened Bread, at the Feast of Weeks, and at the Feast of Tabernacles; and they shall not appear before the Lord empty-handed. Every man shall give as he is able, according to the blessing of the Lord your God which He has given you." Deuteronomy 16:16-17 (NKJV)
Let us consider for a moment the spiritual aspect of this command and its relevancy for us today. First, it is an admonition to assemble together, and reminds us of the New Testament Scripture:
"Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching." Hebrews 10:25 (NKJV)
Some Christians have given up going to church for various reasons. Many stop going out of laziness, but others because they are vexed by some failures or shortcomings of the church. However, meeting together brings a blessing, irrespective of whether or not we realize it. The preaching may be tedious – not every speaker will be anointed. Nevertheless, God blesses obedience – and the blessing is not always directly related to the physical participation. There is a valuable spiritual dynamic that occurs when we meet with other believers in obedience to God. If it were not so, why would believers in persecuted countries risk their lives to assemble in secret home churches? In the West, some believers nonchalantly choose whether to attend church or enjoy some recreational activity when they awaken on Sunday morning, and this lack of commitment is weakening the spiritual power of the Church and the affect it has on the world.
Additionally, God commanded the Israelites to bring something when they assemble. Of course a tithe was given, but additionally, the believer should bring something of spiritual significance to an assembly. The minister has most likely studied and prayed for the service – he is coming with the anticipation of giving the congregation what he believes he has received from God. But should not the congregation come with something to give, also? A time of prayer for the service and for those attending, and a desire to help and minister in the church on the part of the congregation makes the difference in the spiritual health of a church. One man cannot make a church spiritually successful, anymore than one man can make a corporation function in the business world. Others must be involved who share the work and dedication.
Let us also consider that although our modern culture is quickly learning to despise the headship and authority of fathers and men, God commanded the males to assemble, putting the responsibility squarely on the shoulders of the man for the spiritual leadership in the home. Men who shirk this duty are not only denying the most important role God has reserved and commanded for them – they are also putting an undue burden on the helpmate that God has provided for them. In such cases a spiritual imbalance is created which pushes the woman into an inappropriate role, and ultimately brings shame on the man and also robs him of respect. The wife may have filled his position, but even if she aspires to it, God has ordained the husband for it.
Protection for the Obedient
Many Christians put the business world above their consideration of the church, because it has priority in the natural world. The lust for money and worldly success has intoxicated some and they are blinded to what should be their first love – doing the work of Christ. They also fear that if they take time for God?s business, their own business may suffer. However, the Israelites had the same concerns, but theirs were even more pressing – leaving their land to attend the feasts in Jerusalem left them open to raiders who would steal everything they had and take over their properties. God understood this, and made them the following promise:
“For I will cast out the nations before you and enlarge your borders; neither will any man covet your land when you go up to appear before the Lord your God three times in the year." Exodus 34:24 (NKJV)
The Hebrew word here for covet is "chamad" and it actually means "desire." The idea was that not only would no man try to take the Israelis? possessions while they traveled to Jerusalem, no man would even desire to take them. God would protect what they had if they obeyed Him. The same is true today – God will maintain our lives and our businesses if we put Him first and obey Him. Loss will more likely occur when we disobey, for we find that when men disregard what God commands them they cannot hold on to the material blessings they seek:
"?You looked for much, but indeed it came to little; and when you brought it home, I blew it away. Why?? says the Lord of hosts. ?Because of My house that is in ruins, while every one of you runs to his own house.?" Haggai 1:9 (NKJV)
The Progression of the Lamb of God
We find instruction regarding Passover in the following Scriptures:
"Now the Lord spoke to Moses and Aaron in the land of Egypt, saying, ?This month shall be your beginning of months; it shall be the first month of the year to you. Speak to all the congregation of Israel, saying: "On the tenth day of this month every man shall take for himself a lamb, according to the house of his father, a lamb for a household. And if the household is too small for the lamb, let him and his neighbor next to his house take it according to the number of the persons; according to each man’s need you shall make your count for the lamb.?" Exodus 12:1-4 (NKJV)
There is progressive revelation of the "lamb" which begins here, with the instruction that a lamb was to be sacrificed for a household. Next we find in Exodus 29:38-42 instruction about the daily sacrifices which progress the concept to a lamb for a nation. Lastly, we find the complete fulfillment of God?s plan in John 1:29 where we read that Jesus would be sacrificed for the whole world. The progression goes from a lamb for a household, then for a nation, and finally for everyone, as John the Baptist announced.
"The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, ?Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!?" John 1:29 (NKJV)
Jesus, the fulfillment of the Passover lamb, is also the fulfillment of God?s plan according to His timing for the world. God?s timing is often inscrutable to man, but by His grace He has revealed the wisdom and logic of it in enough instances that we can see that nothing arbitrary occurs. There are no coincidences in life, and there is nothing unforeseen by the One who is omniscient.
For instance, in Israel the head of the household was commanded to select and set aside a lamb on the tenth day of the first month, and kill it on the fourteenth day, four days later. Most Bible scholars who have studied Old Testament chronology believe that time began in Genesis about four thousand years before Christ came. We see then that He was "held back" by God until four thousand years had passed, even as the Passover lamb was selected and then held for four days. The symbolism of this is further reinforced in this scripture:
"But, beloved, do not forget this one thing, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day." 2Peter 3:8 (NKJV)
God?s timing is always impeccable – and a brief understanding of biblical history will bolster our understanding of this. Even as God ordained specific times and places for the feasts, He also ordained the timing when Christ would appear. We read in Galatians 4:4:
"But when the fullness of the time had come, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the law?"
And speaking of Christ, Peter tells us:
"He indeed was foreordained before the foundation of the world, but was manifest in these last times for you." 1Peter 1:20 (NKJV)
Micah prophesied seven hundred and fifty years before that the Messiah would be born in Bethlehem, so God arranged a census to be taken while the family of Jesus was in Galilee. Everyone had to return to his place of birth to be counted, and there was no room in the inn (world) for the Messiah. That census was ordered by Rome, which was ruling the known world at that time. However, although the Romans conquered the Greeks who ruled before them, the Greek culture conquered the Romans – they became completely fascinated with all things Greek, and made Greek the universal language. Today English is the universal language – in most countries it is the most common second language to be learned, because commerce depends on it. The time of Christ was the first time in world history that any language became as predominant as Greek did, and God used it to spread the Gospel. Citizens of many countries learned Greek because it was the official language of Rome.
Interestingly, the divine hand of God is not only apparent in the timing of this language, but also in the choice of it. Greek has more words for variations of feelings than perhaps any other. For instance, English has one word for love, whereas Greek has more than three. This specificity of the language helps to bring forth deeper meanings when we study the New Testament in its original language.
However, a universal language would have been of less benefit had God not also led the Romans to build the best road system the world had seen until that time. Roman roads were made of stone blocks and carefully crowned for drainage, and some are still in use today. The disciples of Christ used the roads to travel to the various places where Jesus did not go Himself, and the Gospel was preached. They were also forced to disperse to many different lands due to another propitious occurrence that probably seemed to be only misery to them at that time. That was persecution from not only the Jews but also the Romans. Before Christ?s time, emperor worship was rather minimal and few took it seriously. However, after Christ was crucified, it was enforced more and more. The Romans made each person burn incense to Caesar and hail him as a deity. After that they could worship any gods they chose. Consequently the only people who found they could not bow to this request were the Christians and sincerely orthodox Jews. Pressure increased and many believers left to find places where they would not be as oppressed. The result is that many escaped to different lands and the Gospel spread more quickly because of the persecution.
No, Christ did not come at "any old time," nor is the timing in any Christian?s life coincidental. None of us were born indiscriminately, but rather specifically for the times we live in. The Bible corroborates that everything is planned:
"To everything there is a season, a time for every purpose under heaven." Ecclesiastes 3:1 (NKJV)
The Bible also reveals clearly that God is in complete control of all timing, and can even change timing as He wishes:
"And He changes the times and the seasons; He removes kings and raises up kings; He gives wisdom to the wise." Daniel 2:21 (NKJV)
The promise is that if we study His word and draw close to Him, we will not be bereft in our understanding of what is occurring in the world, but will be like the men of Issachar:
"?The sons of Issachar who had understanding of the times, to know what Israel ought to do?" 1Chronicles 12:32 (NKJV)
"But concerning the times and the seasons, brethren, you have no need that I should write to you." 1Thessalonians 5:1 (NKJV)
We have been born at this time for a reason, and have been born-again into the Kingdom of God for a reason, also, even as Mordecai said to Esther after she became queen and the Jews were threatened with destruction:
"Yet who knows whether you have come to the kingdom for such a time as this?" Esther 4:14b (NKJV)
Christ came to earth in God?s timing, and He changed the calendar. Every time we write a date on a document we are reminded of this.
The Lamb without Spot or Blemish
The Passover lamb could not be just any lamb, but had to meet certain criteria:
"Your lamb shall be without blemish, a male of the first year. You may take it from the sheep or from the goats." Exodus 12:5 (NKJV)
The lamb had to be a male, because Adam was a male. Other offerings could be female animals, but the type here is of the first-born male, which was especially set aside for the Lord. And that lamb had to be without spot or blemish, which speaks to us of the perfection of Christ, which we find in many places in the Bible, but also read in this passage:
"For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin." Hebrews 4:15 (NKJV)
In 1st Peter we read more specifically of how the Passover lamb was a type of Christ:
"Knowing that you were not redeemed with corruptible things, like silver or gold, from your aimless conduct received by tradition from your fathers, but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot. 1Peter 1:18-19 (NKJV) (italics added).
However, His perfection and innocence were also exclaimed by the world. Pontius Pilate allowed Him to be crucified, but not before he announced, in John 18:38, “I find no fault in Him at all.” Even Christ?s betrayer, Judas, testified of His innocence in Matthew 27:4, declaring, “I have sinned by betraying innocent blood." Likewise, the thief on the cross stated, "this Man has done nothing wrong.” Luke 23:41
The Human Race Kills Jesus
"Now you shall keep it until the fourteenth day of the same month. Then the whole assembly of the congregation of Israel shall kill it at twilight." Exodus 12:6
The command here was for the whole assembly to kill the Passover lamb at twilight, and this clearly presaged the polarization of Israel against Jesus Christ. The Pharisees and the Sanhedrin (seventy ruling Jews) and most of the people shouted for Christ to die. We read in John 19:14-16: "Now it was the Preparation Day of the Passover, and about the sixth hour. And he said to the Jews, ?Behold your King!? But they cried out, ?Away with Him, away with Him! Crucify Him!? Pilate said to them, ?Shall I crucify your King?? The chief priests answered, ?We have no king but Caesar!? Then he delivered Him to them to be crucified. So they took Jesus and led Him away." (See also Luke 23:23, Mark 15:33, Matthew 27:4.) However, the fact that the chosen people of God turned on Jesus means very little regarding their specific ethnicity – God could have chosen the Irish or any ethnic group and the result would have been the same. Rather, the point here is that everyone is against Jesus until they make their peace with God, for His truth kindles murderous anger in human hearts.
How many times in the world do we hear the name of Jesus Christ used in profanity? Enmity against Him is built into our sin nature, and He clearly stated to the disciples in John 7:7 that the world hates Him because He testifies that its works are evil. Speak to someone who is not a believer, and often that person will say that the eternal punishment of hell is not reasonable for them because they have tried to live a good life. Unbelievers are blind to the justice of God. It seems harsh to them, because they underestimate their own sinfulness. Likewise, when believers stray from God, the first thing they begin to question is the rightness of eternal punishment. This concept is hard for many to fathom, and one finds that most of the cults, in addition to preaching salvation through good works instead of grace, also teach that there is no eternal punishment.
The anger that the proscription of punishment for sin arouses in the heart of man simply corroborates its correctness, in that man?s murderous proclivities are revealed in his reaction to Christ?s declaration. In other words, the violent reaction to the conviction of sin proves its existence. Moreover, Jesus did not preach the Gospel as some preachers soft peddle it today. He said in Mark 16:16: "He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned."
The Gospel is not only an invitation; it is an ultimatum. And men and women over the centuries have been tortured and killed by proclaiming this quintessence of biblical truth: There is no other way to God, and all who do not believe in Christ and repent of their sins are doomed to eternal punishment.
The exclusivity of the Christian message appears narrow-minded and even arrogant to a perverted world. It is contrary to the fallen human intellect, and adverse to everything the world teaches and preaches. Nevertheless, truth is truth and "There is no wisdom or understanding or counsel against the Lord." Proverbs 21:30 The pilot flying in a clouded sky with zero visibility has to completely trust in his or her instruments. Those instruments are meters that must remain in a certain range, or the pilot will crash. One can argue as much as one wants against those instruments, and become angry at them, but it will not change the reality of their guidance. The pilot ignores them at his or her peril. The unbeliever must become open-minded enough to consider the seemingly narrow-mindedness of this exclusive message – for it does not stand on its own. The Holy Spirit will supernaturally reveal the truth of the Gospel to any sincere seeker. But that person must first get past the enmity against Christ that is born into our sin nature.
The last instruction in this verse was that the lamb was to be killed at twilight or evening. However, the word used here for twilight in Hebrew literally means, "between two evenings," and the time of the crucifixion was between 9 A.M. and 3 P.M. It was daylight when Christ was murdered, because we also read: "Now it was about the sixth hour, and there was darkness over all the earth until the ninth hour. Then the sun was darkened, and the veil of the temple was torn in two." Luke 23:44-45 The sixth hour was noon, and the ninth was 3 P.M.
The Cross and the Door
The next verse gave further instruction to the Israelites:
"And they shall take some of the blood and put it on the two doorposts and on the lintel of the houses where they eat it." Exodus 12:7
Let us visualize this for a moment, for in doing so we will see a foreshadowing of the cross. The blood was to be spread on the lintel (we would call it the header) of the household door, and on the two side posts that hold up the opening of the door. To understand this better, let us consider that when a house is built, special strength must be added to the places where a door is to be hung. If we were to peel back the veneer or drywall or plaster on the sides and top of the front door of a house, we would find two heavy supporting wood posts on either side, with another going across the top. These are there to span the weight of the opening of the door.
Consequently, the man applying the blood would do so in a triune manner – that is in three places. He would touch a point above his head with the blood, and then would touch two points on the right and the left. If lines were drawn connecting the places where he applied the blood, it would become a picture of the cross.
This triune nature of God, symbolized by this ceremony, is also revealed clearly in the Hebrew language. When God created man, He said in Genesis 1:26, "?Let us make man in Our image," and the word used for our here is Elohim, which is plural. Nevertheless, there is a contradiction in the Hebrew, because the grammar used indicates one God and does not match the plurality of the word Elohim. Additionally, in Deuteronomy 6:4 we find another allusion to the tripartite nature of God. We read, "Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God is one LORD" However, in this declaration the word LORD is translated Jehovah, which in Hebrew means, "the existing one," and yet the word for God used here is again Elohim, expressing plurality. In 1st John we find it explained more clearly:
"For there are three that bear witness in heaven: the Father, the Word, and the Holy Spirit; and these three are one." 1John 5:7 (NKJV)
We may wonder about this mystery. Nevertheless, there is a human aspect to it, as well. Even God is triune in nature and He has stated that we have been made in His likeness, we are composed of body, soul and spirit. This gives us a glimmer of the triunity of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Paul speaks of the human tripartite nature in Thessalonians:
"Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you completely; and may your whole spirit, soul, and body be preserved blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ." 1Thessalonians 5:23 (NKJV)
God used the symbolism of the door to represent the entrance to heaven. And that entrance had to be purified by blood, which symbolizes death, even as we read throughout the Old Testament that the things of the priesthood were purified by blood.
"And Moses killed it. Then he took the blood, and put some on the horns of the altar all around with his finger, and purified the altar. And he poured the blood at the base of the altar, and consecrated it, to make atonement for it." Leviticus 8:15
The sinless life of Christ did not win salvation for us – His death did, and the shedding of His blood evidences that atonement for our sins were made. In the same manner, we must come to the cross and be willing to kill the "old man" that is, the old sinful nature, and follow the commands of Christ. For He has opened the door and is the entrance to spiritual renewal.
"Then Jesus said to them again, ?Most assuredly, I say to you, I am the door of the sheep. All who ever came before Me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not hear them. I am the door. If anyone enters by Me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture.?" John 10:7-9 (NKJV)
We also find the concept of the door in the Spirit of wisdom who speaks in Proverbs of men waiting at the posts and finding life:
"Blessed is the man who listens to me, watching daily at my gates, waiting at the posts of my doors. For whoever finds me finds life, and obtains favor from the Lord." Proverbs 8:34
But who is this that speaks in Proverbs? To find the answer we may first look in the book of Revelation where we find that Jesus has seven Spirits of God.
"And to the angel of the church in Sardis write, ?These things says He who has the seven Spirits of God and the seven stars??"
Where do we find those seven Spirits of God? We find them clearly in the Book of Isaiah, where the description of the Messiah is clearly portrayed:
"There shall come forth a Rod from the stem of Jesse,
And a Branch shall grow out of his roots.
The Spirit of the Lord shall rest upon Him,
The Spirit of wisdom and understanding,
The Spirit of counsel and might,
The Spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the Lord." Isaiah 11:1-2 (NKJV)
The lineage of Jesus Christ is clearly traced to King David (Jesse was David?s father.) And the promise is that the following spirits would rest on Him. First, there is the Spirit of the Lord, second, the Spirit of wisdom (as we read in Proverbs, and third is the Spirit of understanding. Forth is the Spirit of counsel, fifth is the Spirit of might, sixth is the Spirit of knowledge and seventh is the Spirit of the fear of the Lord.
Wisdom is personified in the eighth chapter of Proverbs and part of it reads:
"Does not wisdom cry out, and understanding lift up her voice? She takes her stand on the top of the high hill, beside the way, where the paths meet.
She cries out by the gates, at the entry of the city, at the entrance of the doors?" Proverbs 8:1-3 (NKJV)
Wisdom is seeking mankind, and Wisdom has become the Door through which man must pass to find eternal life. However there is another door that must be opened for man to find God, and that is the door to our own hearts. There is a haunting feeling, an indescribable shadowing of Christ in each human?s life that he or she will either dismiss or yield to. He pursues the fallen beings He loves desiring to redeem them. He desires the fellowship of man, and promises that His supernatural presence will be revealed if we are willing to open our hearts to Him:
"Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me." Revelation 3:20 (NKJV)