Archive for May, 2016

The Blood of the Sacrifice and the Cup of Communion

Friday, April 22, 2016 was Passover.  Passover is always on the same day of the Jewish calendar every year, the 14th day of the month of Abib.  This is according to God’s command given at the time of the exodus from Egypt.  It is still the day that it is observed today. 

Passover was the day that Jesus, Yeshua, was crucified.  In truth, if we are to remember His sacrifice on the actual anniversary of it, we should have done that just over a week ago on April 22nd. 

On the night before the Israelites left Egypt, the people were given instructions for observing the first Passover Feast.  Among other things, they were to sacrifice a lamb (or goat), a year old, and without blemish.  Each household was to do this, unless the household was too small to eat the whole lamb, then they could share with another household.  Very specific instructions were given on how to sacrifice and prepare this lamb.  Each household would sacrifice their own lamb, spread the blood on their door posts, and then cook and eat the lamb.  The blood on the door posts marked the Israelites as set apart from the Egyptians.  When the Israelites left Egypt, they numbered more than 600,000 men (plus women and children)…I wonder how many households that was?  Keep that in mind for now.

I would like to point out two things here.  One, the blood as an identifier; and two, the one-year-old lamb without blemish.  Now let’s see if there is a pattern.

Once the Israelites were safely out of danger from the Egyptians, God put the people to work building the Tabernacle (the incredible tent of meeting where God Himself would be present with the people).  It was at this time that God instituted the sacrificial system.  This was a series of animal and grain sacrifices that would cover any number of purposes.  The Burnt offering was voluntary.  It was an act of submission to God’s will.  The sacrifice was a male lamb, bull, ram, dove, or pigeon (God made allowance for those who did not have the means to offer a larger animal).  If the bull, ram, or sheep was used, it was to be without blemish.  The person offering the sacrifice laid his hand on the animal’s head, symbolizing the substitution of the animal for the person.  The priests would place the parts of the animal on the alter and burn it.  It was also the priests who would sprinkle the blood of the sacrifice around the alter.

Other sacrifices were the Grain offering, the Peace offering, the Sin offering, and the Trespass offering.  Of these four, three of them offered animal sacrifice, and two of them required an animal without blemish.  The Sin offering required the priest to dip his finger in the blood and sprinkle it seven times before the Lord in front of the veil of the sanctuary, and also wipe the blood on the horns of the alter. When a priest was installed, blood from a sacrifice was wiped on the tip of his right ear, right thumb, and big toe of his right foot.  The same was true for the person with a Leprous condition (which I understand to be any type of sore on the skin that was possibly contagious), after he had been declared clean by the priest as part of offering the Trespass offering.

The blood represented life.  Spilling the blood of a sacrifice was a substitutionary payment for the lifeblood that would have otherwise been required of each and every sinful person by a holy and righteous God.  In sacrificing the animal, without blemish, the person was transferring his own sin to the sacrifice.  At the same time, he was taking the blood of the sacrifice, the consequence of his sin, upon himself, and receiving the forgiveness through the substitution.  In other words, he made the sacrifice his own.

I will come back to this in a moment, but I want to point out something that, to me, is stunning.  It occurred to me while studying this in Leviticus what a great many lambs, goats, bulls, etc. needed to be sacrificed, on a daily basis.  Hebrews 10:11 says that every priest offered daily, and repeatedly the same sacrifices which never take away sins (the sin and the trespass offerings).  The Passover was celebrated yearly, and required an unblemished lamb or goat for each family.  At the time of the Exodus, as I stated earlier, there were hundreds of thousands of Israelites.  A wild stab in the dark would suggest that there may have been as many as 30 to 40 to maybe even 50,000 families.  That was when the nation was small.  They continued to grow.  Imagine the numbers by the time Christ walked the earth.  Now, how many animals without blemish do you suppose are the regular, run-of-the-mill occurrence?  I asked a local sheep farmer I know.  His response?  Maybe 1%.  One percent!!!  It would have been earthly impossible for the Israelites to offer up the sacrifices, as God commanded them to do, at the high numbers that were necessary, without the miraculous provision of them.  Just as God provided Yeshua, our spotless sacrificial Passover lamb for the forgiveness, once and for all, of our sins and the sins of the world, God also provided the lambs without blemish for thousands of people over hundreds of years for the forgiveness of their sins. Amazing God!!

Back to the blood of the sacrifice and the Passover.  I stated a moment ago that the person offering the sacrifice made it his own by laying his head on the animal, killing it himself, getting the animal’s blood on his own hands.  It was the consequence of his own sin.  He took that blood upon himself.  The blood of the Passover lamb, spread on the door posts, set that family aside as belonging to God.  There was great symbolism in the blood.

The night before Jesus was crucified, he had what we call the Lord’s Supper, or Communion, with His disciples.  In this meal, a cup of wine represents the blood of Jesus that was to be spilled for the forgiveness of sins through His sacrifice.  What did the disciples do with that wine, the symbolic blood?  They drank it.  They took it upon themselves, by taking into their bodies.  They made it their own.  And in so doing, they marked themselves as set aside and belonging to God.  The next time you partake in the Lord’s Supper, remember it is more than remembering what Jesus did for you at the cross.  You have accepted His sacrifice in your place, as a consequence of your sin…you have made, so gratefully, His sacrifice your own.  Your hands have been covered by His blood.  And beyond that, you have been marked as His, set aside, belonging to God Himself. 

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)

Letter to the Youth of the Church

I want to address the teens and young adults of the Church with this message; for it is to you that we will pass the torch.  It is you who will need to keep the fire lit, and lead the Church in the truth of God’s Word, and in the spirit of righteousness.

In the New Testament book of Revelation (chapters 2-3), the Apostle John records a message from Yeshua (Jesus) to 7 churches that existed during that time.  These letters were both for those particular churches, but also for us today.

As with much of the prophetic words of the Bible, particularly the Old Testament, there are levels to the prophecies which each need to be looked at.  Often, a message was given that was directly for the people living during a particular period of time, while at the same time a prophetic word for ages to come.  This is the case with the letters to the 7 churches in Revelation.  There were, in fact, 7 churches that each of these 7 letters were written and delivered to (the first level).  However, they are also types of churches which you can see not only throughout the history of the Church, but today in various congregations (the second level).  An individual Christian can also look at the 7 letters and find their own personal faith walk within the descriptions of the churches, and from it receive encouragement, but also correction (the third level).  The fourth prophetic level is that which describes the stages of the age of the Church, from the time Yeshua rose into Heaven after His death and resurrection until the time He will rapture the Church out of this world.  In this final level, each of the 7 churches represents, in succession, a stage of the worldwide church over the centuries.  The seventh church being the age after which will come the rapture.

The seventh church was the church of Laodicea; the church which was wealthy, and so comfortable in that wealth that they had become complacent.  Yeshua called them luke warm.  Nothing was wrong, nothing was right; it was an everything goes kind of mentality.  And it was a mentality that did not include Jesus.  They went to church, but never even mentioned His name.  That is why, in Revelation 3:20 He said to this 7th church: “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.”  Jesus was on the outside of this church.  He was knocking on the door, and waiting for any individual to hear His voice.  The church was so far gone, that as a whole, it was not going to hear Him.  He was calling, “Hello!  Can anyone hear me?  Will someone, anyone, please open the door and let me in?”

This is the church age today.  There are congregations who are hot, and on fire for God.  But more and more, there are those who are pushing Yeshua right out of the door and locking it behind Him.  There are “churches” in the United States who open their doors to anyone who wishes to come in, regardless of which “god” they worship.  It may be Buddah, Ala, or it may be no god at all.  Even athiests are welcome into these places where all are invited to come and worship whomever and however they please, and yet still be called a “church”.  We are being told that things the Bible teaches us are wrong, are in fact right and good, and whole church congregations are accepting that as truth.  People are being told that everyone is saved and will go to Heaven.  This is completely contrary to what the Bible says.  Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me” (John 14:6).  And in John 1:12 it says: But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name.” 

We are being told that, regardless of what religion we are, we all worship the same god. That is a lie!  The God of the Bible; the One who spoke to Abraham and Moses, and who parted the waters of the Red Sea; the God who created the heavens and the earth and everything in them, has a name. His name is YAHWEH.  Exodus 3:15 in the Hollman Standard Bible says this:  God also said to Moses, “Say this to the Israelites:  ‘Yahweh, the God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, has sent me to you.  This is My name forever; this is how I am to be remembered in every generation.'”

We are being told that Yahweh did not create the world out of nothing, but that everything that exists in just the right way to live and function happened by accident.  An explosion of gasses and matter, and boom, species upon species upon species of every kind of insect, creature, bird of the air, plants, trees, planets, stars, and humans all came into being with every minute detail of existence just falling into place and working like…a perfect creation, designed by a perfect, all-knowing, all-powerful Creator.

We are being told that homosexuality and all manner of perversity is normal and good.  Yet God…Yahweh…said in His Word that these acts are detestable.  Leviticus 18:22 – “You are not to sleep with a man as with a woman; it is detestable.”

We are being told that Yeshua was just a good teacher, not the Son of God, and that he was not sinless.  Yet Peter quotes the prophet Isaiah in reference to the Messiah, which is Jesus, saying, “He did not commit sin, and no deceit was found in His mouth.”  1 Peter 2:22.

Young people, here is the point.  We live in dangerous times for the Church.  Unless we, as God’s people, study God’s Word and know what it says; unless we spend time in prayer and learn to listen to the Holy Spirit; we will be deceived and led away from Jesus…we will push Him out of the door and lock it behind Him. 

You are young.  We grown ups run the church.  Today it is our responsibility to see that the Church remains faithful to God.  Tomorrow you will be responsible.  Each day and year that goes by, the Church as a whole moves further away from the truth. As we prepare you to be leaders in the church, we will all need to take this calling seriously.  We cannot afford to poo-poo this responsibility.  Too much is at stake.  We will teach you how to read and study God’s Word, and how to pray and listen for the Spirit.  You need to actively learn.  Your adulthood seems forever away, but in just a few short years (for some of you perhaps only 2 or 3, and for others it is tomorrow), you will be adults.  More and more the reigns of the church will be handed to you, just as they were to us.  Will you be ready?

Isaiah 55:6 – Seek the Lord while He may be found, call upon Him while He is near.

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