Friday, December 16, 2011

An *Apologetic* regarding Christmas

Though I've blogged about the general subject of the biblical holidays, and touched on Christmas (and Easter), I wanted to put a few more thoughts down for consideration. In the past I’ve used many scriptures along with reason to examine the subject. In this post, I mostly want to use reason (*apologetic*) as an appeal to think about what we all (Christians) are doing and demonstrating to those around us. We (my family) are a learning, growing family, and my desire is to share my own thoughts, concerns, ponderings and apologetics with others in the hopes of coming to solid, biblical answers. Of course this will require on your part to examine what I say in light of the scriptures, and to use reason to come to your conclusions.

With that said, I wanted to ask a few questions, and make a few points...I hope they inspire search and discovery with you, the reader(s).

I often ask the questions “why”, “how” and “what” regarding many things: “why do we do things that way”? (At work), “how does that work”?, “what are we doing this for?”, etc. I do the same regarding my spiritual walk. Why do we (Christians) do what we do? From where did some of our traditions come from? Why do I believe what I believe? And many other such questions spring forth in my mind. Do those questions ever find their way to the front of your thoughts?

Why does Christianity celebrate the birth of Jesus on December 25th? Why do Christians put up Christmas trees? Why are both Christmas and the traditions associated with it so easily practiced by Christians and non-Christians alike? Why is it not a problem whatsoever for a Christian and a neo-Pagan to put up a tree in their home during this time? Why do both hold the 25th of December as commemorative? We don’t see that with any of the Muslim holy days. Are Wiccans celebrating the same times and holidays as the Muslims? Are Wiccans and Jews both celebrating Passover? Are the Wiccans and Pagans celebrating the Feast of Tabernacles?

As an example, click HERE to view a pagan calendar page from the “Pagan Calendar” website. Notice that Christmas is found right in the midst of a whole slew of Pagan observances. But I find Hanukah conspicuously absent, though this year it falls during the same week as Christmas. Notice that they even commemorate Aleister Crowley’s death on the calendar – a known Satanist and child molester!

I have asked the question before, and I’ll ask it again because it is a question I have asked myself in the past, and I think it is a valid question to be asked of us Christians – If the biblical holy days (Passover, Shavuot [Pentacost in Greek], etc.) are all shadows of, and point to Jesus, then why don’t the followers of Jesus celebrate the very feasts and holy days that we KNOW speak of and point to Him?!

Colossians 2:17 is often cited to as to why Christians don’t really observe the Sabbath and feasts of the bible – because they are merely “shadows.” But all that Christianity has done is replace biblically sanctioned and God-given “shadows” that were and are meant to teach us about Messiah and His redemptive work with “shadows” that are from Pagan, false worship systems (after all, is Christmas the “reality” of the birth of Jesus?)! All that a holiday is, after all, is a celebration and/or commemoration, using foods and symbols as a means of remembering a person, persons, or event. Therefore, a holiday is a day of “shadows” – a day of signs and symbols that represent the thing meant to be remembered.

Much has been written about the subject of the birth of Jesus. 99.9% of biblical scholars know and will admit that December 25th was and is most likely NOT the date of the birth of Jesus. And in fact, modern scholarship has stated that the Feast of Tabernacles (Sukkot) is most likely the time of His birth (there were also voices in the past that proposed this as well). Biblically, it fits. When Jesus was born on this earth, He “tabernacled” with man according to John 1:14. The book of Revelation tells us that the “tabernacle of God is with man” (Yeshua/Jesus was “all the fullness of the godhead bodily” according to Colossians 2:9 – or, in other words, Yeshua was the Tabernacle of God). There has been much study regarding this, and according to things such as the weather in Israel in December, the fact that a census was highly unlikely to be taken during the dead of winter, the timing of John the baptizer’s likely conception and birth, among other things, December 25th was not the day that Yeshua entered this world.

As it turns out, nothing about Christmas is really about the Messiah of the bible, except in the minds and imaginations of people. And this is the most problematic issue in my opinion. Does God’s opinion matter in this? I wonder…I just can’t help but think that the power of tradition has so gripped many Christians that a serious consideration of the matter, via the word of God, has not been taken seriously by very many people. After all, traditions are family and community identifiers, and they can be profoundly powerful.

Sights, sounds, aromas, foods, family, friends. It all has such a powerful grip – and indeed, it should. All of the above are tremendous blessings, and are in and of themselves good things to look forward to and enjoy. But they can be a snare as well. God warned Israel not to follow the gods of the surrounding Nations as it would become a snare unto them.

A snare? Why?

Every people group and every religion on earth has it’s commemorations and customs. Those customs, when practiced for generations, and when one grows up in them from the time that they were born, becomes embedded within them – the sights, the sounds, the smells, the traditions, etc. These things can become so ingrained in them that it is very hard to break away from them. In many cases, that is not necessary. But sometimes, it is crucial.

I don’t think that I know of any Christian who would tell a person coming out of the Wiccan religion unto the LORD that it was ok to continue to follow the pagan calendar. That it was ok to continue to set up their pagan alter and burn incense unto Mother Nature… that they could continue to practice their Wiccan observances.  But what if the person were to say that the incense that they once burned to Mother Nature they now want to burn unto the LORD? That they want to now observe Saturnalia(1) unto Jesus (go to pagancalendar.co.uk and look at December 17, 2011)? Would we tell them that they need to put away those pagan practices?

If you would tell that person that now that they have come to Jesus for salvation they need to turn away from the pagan practices that they came out of, but you celebrate the birth of Jesus on December 25th by putting a decorated tree in your house, and hanging mistle toe, Christmas wreaths, etc., wouldn’t that seem a bit strange? Would it be ok for the ex-Wiccan to observe the Wiccan customs in honor of Jesus if it began to be the normal practice for the next 1000 years? Would time somehow “sanctify” the customs? If Christians were to begin to celebrate the holiday of Saturnalia in honor of Jesus today, would that upset you? Should it upset Christians 1000 years from now if the practice took root and became the norm for Christians in the future? At a certain point in the past, December 25th, and the normal customs and traditions that are practiced today by Christians in celebrating the birth of Christ, were purely pagan customs. The disciples and Apostles of Jesus didn’t celebrate Christmas, put up trees in their homes, etc. It would have been as abhorrent to them then, as it would be for a Wiccan turned Christian to start celebrating Saturnalia in honor of Jesus today, don’t you think?

My family no longer celebrates Christmas. We still honor the birth of Jesus. We still celebrate many holidays. But we now find great joy and pleasure in celebrating times and seasons that inherently speak of, point to, and give glory to Yeshua. I say inherently because the biblical feasts were created and given by God Himself, therefore the meaning of the holiday/feast derives it’s meaning from God, much like marriage. I don’t have to try to “put Christ back into Christmas” every year like we hear on Christian radio, because He’s already sitting there in the biblical feasts waiting for me! I don’t have to work to “remember the reason for the season” when celebrating Passover, for example, because the season itself is already biblically defined. I know the reason for the season because the bible tells me what that reason is! Halleluyah!

I know and am convinced that most Christians that are celebrating Christmas in honor of the birth of Christ have genuine hearts. And I do hope that everyone has a wonderful holiday season this December with their families, friends and Churches. But I hope even more that Christians would really begin to examine the things that they do in light of the scriptures, and make changes according to the word of God, rather than continue in the emotional snare of the traditions they have grown up with. I do not advocate for the complete overthrow of all traditions – but rather, for a replacement of those traditions that are contrary to God’s word with new traditions that glorify the LORD. Are practices that God once condemned as abhorrent, pagan practices no longer abhorrent to Him? And if not, then is it indeed ok for an ex Wiccan to observe Saturnalia in Honor of Jesus?

Why not celebrate the marvelous works of the LORD, not with holidays and practices that come from the pagan world with re-invented meaning (such as taking December 25th, the ancient birth date of Mithras, along with setting up decorated trees in our homes – condemned in Jeremiah 10, etc.), but with the holidays and celebrations given by the LORD Himself? If you want to celebrate the birth of our Savior (and who wouldn’t?), then why not do it at a time that fits biblically and theologically (such as at the Feast of Tabernacles)? The Jewish world wonders why we call Jesus the Jewish Messiah, yet celebrate the birth of the one we say is their Messiah with pagan traditions, and the pagan world wants to know why we celebrate our Savior with their pagan practices! Why do they both get it, while the Christians don’t? We (Christians) worship the King of the Jews, and use pagan traditions to do so! Goodness!

There are more questions I could raise, but I think this is sufficient for now. I simply want to get people thinking. Again, I hope everyone has a wonderful holiday season, but also takes the time to really think about what it is that they are doing, and why.

(1) The following was taken from pagancalendar.co.uk:





Dec 17 Every year


Saturnalia is the feast at which the Romans commemorated the dedication of the temple of the god Saturn, which took place on 17 December. Over the years, it expanded to a whole week, up to 23 December.

The Saturnalia was a large and important public festival in Rome. It involved the conventional sacrifices, a couch (lectisternium) set out in front of the temple of Saturn and the untying of the ropes that bound the statue of Saturn during the rest of the year. Besides the public rites there were a series of holidays and customs celebrated privately. The celebrations included a school holiday, the making and giving of small presents (saturnalia et sigillaricia) and a special market (sigillaria). Gambling was allowed for all, even slaves; however, although it was officially condoned only during this period, one should not assume that it was rare or much remarked upon during the rest of the year. It was a time to eat, drink, and be merry. The toga was not worn, but rather the synthesis, i.e. colorful, informal "dinner clothes"; and the pileus (freedman's hat) was worn by everyone. Slaves were exempt from punishment, and treated their masters with disrespect. The slaves celebrated a banquet: before, with, or served by the masters. A Saturnalicius princeps was elected master of ceremonies for the proceedings. Saturnalia became one of the most popular Roman festivals which led to more tomfoolery, marked chiefly by having masters and slaves ostensibly switch places. The banquet, for example, would often be prepared by the slaves, and they would prepare their masters' dinner as well. It was license within careful boundaries; it reversed the social order without subverting it.

The customary greeting for the occasion is a "io, Saturnalia!" — io (pronounced "yo") being a Latin interjection related to "ho" (as in "Ho, praise to Saturn").

In addition, here is the description for Brumalia, a holiday celebrated on December 25:






Dec 25 Every year


Brumalia was an ancient Roman solstice festival honoring Bacchus, generally held on 25 December and possibly related to the ancient Greek Lenaia (held in honour of Dionysus). The festival included drinking and merriment. The name is derived from the Latin word bruma, meaning "shortest day" or even "winter".

The Brumalia was also celebrated during the space of thirty days, commencing on 24 November. This was instituted by Romulus, who entertained the Senate during this time. During this feast, prophetic indications were taken of the prospects for the remaining part of the winter.

It also a festival annually held by Connecticut College.

And finally, here is the description given for Sol Invictus, also celebrated on December 25:

Dies Natalis Invicti Solis


Dies Natalis Invicti Solis




Dec 25 Every year


December 25 - Dies Natalis Invicti Solis (Festival of the invincible sun God) see Sol Invictus

Sol Invictus ("the undefeated Sun") or, more fully, Deus Sol Invictus ("the undefeated sun god") was a religious title applied to at least three distinct divinities during the later Roman Empire: El Gabal, Mithras, and Sol.

Unlike the earlier, agrarian cult of Sol Indiges ("the native sun" or "the invoked sun" - the etymology and meaning of the word "indiges" is disputed), the title Deus Sol Invictus was formed by analogy with the imperial titulature pius felix invictus ("dutiful, fortunate, unconquered").

A festival of the birth of the Unconquered Sun (or Dies Natalis Solis Invicti) was celebrated when the duration of daylight first begins to increase after the winter solstice, — the "rebirth" of the sun.

The Sol Invictus festival ran from December 22 through December 25. Eradicating the remnants of this much-celebrated pagan holiday is likely the reason why Christmas was picked by the early Catholic leaders as the birthday of Jesus Christ.


Monday, November 7, 2011

The Torah Teaching on the Mount Part 3

 In this post we are going to be covering Matthew 5:21-48 in our “Torah Teaching on the Mount” series. Vs. 21 (IMO) is where Yeshua really begins His “teaching” – everything up to vs. 21 are His preliminary remarks to prepare the hearers (and now readers). As I said in a previous post, the “Beatitudes” really prepare the listener/reader for the things to follow as it lays out the heart/mind attitude of the subjects of the Kingdom of God.

At first glance, it appears as though Yeshua is contrasting His words against “the letter of the law.” This has been the prevailing view of Christianity (or, the majority Christians at least) throughout the centuries. It is supposed that Yeshua took the commands of the law, such as “thou shalt not commit adultery” and super ceded them with His own, “higher” law. But this is not what He was doing at all. What He was actually doing was tying the Torah together and making it a complete unit (as it was intended to be) so that one could not (and cannot) isolate the various commandments, or create loopholes for oneself, which is exactly what the teachers of the law in His day had been doing, as can be easily figured out in reading the four gospels. He rebuked the Pharisees in Mark chapter 7, for example, for “teaching for doctrines the commandments of men” and for “laying aside the commandment of God” in order to “hold the tradition of men” (Mark 7:6-9). If Yeshua rebuked the Pharisees for “laying aside the commandment of God” would He then turn around and do the same?

When Satan came to Yeshua in the wilderness and sought to tempt Him, 3 times Yeshua said “it is written….” Whenever Yeshua quoted from scripture, He always said “it is written…”, or, “have you not read…”, or, “is it not written…”, etc. But as we head into vv. 21-48, we will see that He began each subject, not with “it is written”, but with “you have heard that it was said….” This is an important point, because Yeshua did not contrast His teaching against God’s law, but rather, with the teachings and interpretations of the Teachers of the law, the Scribes and the Pharisees. Therefore, rather than the law being in contrast to Yeshua’s teaching, it is the backdrop, or bedrock for His teaching in contrast with the teachings and interpretations of the teachers of the law, the Scribes and Pharisees! (As a side note, it should be pointed out that Yeshua did not contend against everything that the Scribes and Pharisees, and the teachers of the law taught – He only contended against those teachings and interpretations that were contrary to God’s word.)

So, having said all of that, let us begin…

In vv. 21-26, Yeshua began with an understanding of the commandment not to kill (lit. “murder”) that was the prevailing thought and interpretation of His day among the teachers of Israel. Apparently there really was no issue with “being angry without a cause” (or in other words, being unjustifiably angry). Apparently it was an acceptable behavior to be angry “without a cause” and, or to call one another “raca” (which is Aramaic, roughly translated as “empty head” – or, as we would probably put it – idiot), or “you fool.” This type of mindset/attitude, however, is the seedbed for worse things – yes, even murder. It doesn’t mean that everyone that is angry without a cause is going to murder someone, but certainly murder stems from a previous disdain/anger/outrage that would lend one to call another “idiot” (take road rage for example, which has, more than once I might add, ended in someone getting killed. How often are the words “you idiot”, or worse, uttered from the mouth of one driver toward another!). The person who has “good will” toward others is not the likely candidate to murder others! But more than this, Yeshua was drawing upon an obviously overlooked, if not completely ignored commandment in the law that obviously found no correlation to the command not to murder in the teachings and interpretations of the teachers of the law in Yeshua’s day, the which, to violate, was not considered even remotely connected to the 6th of the 10 commandments.

Yeshua knew that the second of the “two greatest commandments” was and is “love thy neighbor as thyself” (Lev. 19:18). But He, being Himself the original law giver, knew what the verse just prior to the second great commandment said/says: “…Thou shalt not hate thy brother in thine heart” (Lev. 19:17). One cannot “love thy neighbor as thyself” while at the same time “hat[ing] thy brother in thine heart!” Furthermore, you hate your brother in your heart, you are all the closer to doing damage to your “brother” (neighbor), with the ultimate damage being that of murder (and “murder can be extended to many levels – actual, physical murder, character murder, etc.). Our tendency is to justify ourselves by saying “well, I’ve never murdered anyone” even though we might be full of hate and unjustified anger in our hearts toward others.

Yeshua did not super cede, or even simply add to the 6th commandment with a “higher” law”, because the commandment was already IN the law! He simply took away our ability to isolate commandments in order to justify our behavior. He contradicted the teaching and interpretations of the teachers of the law by taking them straight back to the law!

Yeshua then went on to the issue of Adultery. Again, He didn’t begin by saying “It is written…”, but rather, with “Ye have heard that it hath been said….” But isn’t it written “Thou shalt not commit adultery” (Ex. 20:14)? So then, why didn’t He say something like “It is written…but I say…?” Because Yeshua was not addressing the written command in His teaching, but the interpretation “…of them of old time.” Again, I want to re-state that Yeshua did not contrast His teaching against the law of Moses, but against the teachings of “them of old time.” We can get an idea of what may have been going on in some of the teachings and interpretations that were the common understanding in His day because several times throughout the Gospels we read where Yeshua spoke against the Scribes and Pharisees for setting aside the commandments of God for the sake of their traditions. Yeshua simply took them back to the commandments of God: “But I say unto you, that whosoever looketh upon a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart.” “But where is this commandment written?” You ask. “Wasn’t Yeshua taking the simple written commandment to a “higher” level, the higher “law of Christ”? No. Let me ask a simple question: what is the 10th of the 10 Commandments? “Thou shalt not covet…thy neighbors wife….” In Romans 7: 7 Paul says the following: “…for I had not known lust, except the law had said, Thou shalt not covet.” In Romans chapter 7, did Paul say that while he knew that adultery was wrong, but then came to realize that lust was also wrong because Yeshua taught us a “higher law?” No – Paul said that he knew lust was wrong because the Law said so!

Perhaps the dominant teaching at the time of Yeshua permitted, or, at least winked at lust. Whatever the case may be, Yeshua did not introduce something new and “higher”, He simply took them back to the plain written word, and contradicted with His teaching that which the people had heard ‘by them of old time.” Again, we can see clearly that Yeshua’s intent is to counter previously held teachings because He creates the contrast in this way: “ye have heard it was said by them of old time…but I say unto you….”

Human tendency is to minimize our own failings by pointing out the bad things we don’t do: “well, at least I never murdered anyone.” “Ok, so I look at porn, at least I’ve never committed adultery.” Yeshua’s point was that the same law which said “do not commit adultery” also said (and says still) “you shall not covet (lust for) your neighbors wife.” And if the story of the man from Samaria giving aid to the man fallen among thieves gives us a clue as to who our “neighbor” is, then it is not a far stretch to say that we should not “covet” anyone’s wife!

The sentiment of connecting commandments is also found in the writings of  James as well. In James 2:10,11 we read “For whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all. For that He said ‘do not commit adultery’ said also ‘do not kill. Now, if thou commit no adultery, yet if thou kill, thou art become a transgressor of the law.” If one is a “transgressor of the law”, then naturally, one is a law-breaker. A man with a heart full of lust may not be in violation of man’s law – but he is certainly in violation of God’s law! The same law condemns both the physical act of adultery AND the adulterous thoughts of a person. Yeshua did not need to give us any “higher” law – we already have it in stone! But, as the NT often points out, a law of stone and a heart of stone will produce nothing. We need a living Torah, written on a heart of flesh to see life! This is what Yeshua was demonstrating.

In the two previous instances, the issue of murder and the issue of adultery, Yeshua did not give us any new, higher law – He did not need to. He simply took the “law of the LORD” which is “perfect” (cf. Psalm 19:7) and “ma[de] it honorable” (cf. Isaiah 42:21).

We will leave it here for now, and pick up with Matt. 5:31 and following next time. Until then, “study to shew thyself approved unto God…” (2 Tim. 2:15).

Blessings and Peace in Yeshua (Jesus).

Thursday, October 27, 2011

180 movie - Wow!

If you have not taken the time to watch "180 Movie" then please do so now.

This is a report of the progress of this movie thus far - OUTSTANDING!

Thursday, October 20, 2011

America's Final Days

I just wanted to link to John McTernan's latest post, as he  is good at bringing out current events and presenting them to us. Please take the time to read.


Friday, October 7, 2011

Yom Kippur

Just a note to inform (or remind, whichever the case may be) that Yom Kippur (The Day of Atonement) begins this evening at sundown, and goes until tomorrow (Sat.) evening until sundown. A time to fast, pray, and if you are a believer in Yeshua (Jesus) the Messiah, THANK the LORD for the atonement we have through Yeshua!

Some scriptures to read tonight and tomorrow:
Lev. 16
Hebrews (all of it, as one of the main themes revolves around the Yom Kippur service)

Blessings and peace,


Wednesday, October 5, 2011

The Torah Teaching on the Mount, Part 2...

In the last post we covered Matthew chapter 5, verses 1-16, so we will pick up in this post with verse 17 and cover through verse 20. To recap part 1, we saw that Yeshua was bringing the attributes of the Kingdom of God, or rather, the attributes of the people of God that had already been portrayed throughout the Tenakh to the forefront of His listeners minds. He knew that they were already familiar with the scriptures to one degree or another, and they would easily equate the attributes that Yeshua covered (the poor in spirit, the meek, those that mourn, etc.) with the appropriate sections of scripture. It would also serve to set the standard for the rest of His teaching, as He would be countering the prevailing interpretations of His day with that of His own. He wanted the mind/heart attitudes of the people to be primed for His teaching by causing them to "zakar" ("remember" by way of bringing a known element to the forefront of the mind) those same attitudes/attributes from the scriptures.

So now, as Yeshua is about to go into His teaching, He sets a caveat right at the beginning: "Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets...." This particular statement (and really, verses 17-20) has seen much debate, and varied interpretations. Some have sought to demonstrate that Yeshua came to do the very thing that He just said He came NOT to do - to destroy the law (usually by saying that He "fulfilled" the law so that it no longer need be observed or obeyed,or that He replaced it with the "law of Christ"). They point out that Yeshua said that He came to "fulfill" the law, and so now that it has been fulfilled, it is no longer relevant to our lives. But Yeshua contrasted His purpose of "fulfilling" the law with what He did not come to do -destroy it! So, to fulfill it cannot mean to do anything that would diminish it, or remove it's validity in the lives of God's people. To "fulfill" means to accomplish, as well as, to interpret correctly. To "destroy" is to disfigure, mis-interpret, and mis-apply it. Satan's temptation of Yeshua in the wilderness was a good example of "destroying" the "law". He quoted from it (from Psalm 90), but he misapplied it in an attempt to get Yeshua to "test" God. Satan was far more subtle here with the Son of Man than he was with Eve when He outright denied the outcome of what God had said. Yeshua did not come to remove, diminish, or mi-interpret the Tenakh in any way.

When Yeshua said that He came to "fulfill" the law, He intended to "fill full" the law with it's intended sense, heart and meaning. Isaiah 42:21 says "The LORD is well pleased for His righteousness sake; He will magnify the law and make it honorable." This is exactly what Yeshua meant when He said that He came to "fulfill" the law. We see also that He did not intend to give us a "higher" law to the negation of the law of Moses because He said "Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, shall be called least in the Kingdom of Heaven." It is clear by verses 19-20 that Yeshua expected His followers to obey the law. The rest of His teaching is meant to show how to do it God's way. He was about to challenge the prevailing interpretations of His day, and hence, verses 17-20 are His declaration to the people that, rather than coming to destroy the law, He was about to bring it to it's fullest clarity.

So, Yeshua has now brought to the forefront of our minds the heart attitude that should be characteristic of God's people - the characteristics that had been given throughout the Tenakh, and now drawn out and presented to the people by Yeshua. He then reminded them that the people of God should be clearly visible to all by the attitude of their heart, demonstrated through their actions. He then prepared them to receive the pure teaching of the Torah (law), which had been bent out of shape, so-to-speak, by the prevailing interpretations of the teachers of Israel.

In the next post we will begin to get into the specific teachings and interpretations of the Torah by Yeshua. Until then, may the LORD bless and keep you.

Friday, September 23, 2011

The Torah Teaching on the Mount, Part 1...

Or, more popularly known as the "Sermon on the Mount." So, why did I title this the "Torah Teaching on the Mount?" Well, I hope to show you shortly. ;-) This teaching will actually be a multi-part entry as it will be rather lengthy. At this point I'm not sure how many parts this will take, but we'll see as we go. I will be covering Matthew chapters 5-7, and I hope to draw out some things that you have not seen, nor most likely considered before. Of course, my main goal is be be as biblical as possible, though obviously any explanation of the scriptures by anyone is an interpretation. However, I hope this will be a blessing to you none-the-less.

It has been taught for a long time now by many Christian teachers and Pastors that the "Sermon on the Mount" is one of the greatest teachings/passages of scripture in the bible - and indeed, it is! It has also been taught that Yeshua replaced the "letter of the law" with a much "higher", or "loftier" law, one that surpassed the law of Moses. However, I am going to show that this section of scripture should really be called the "Torah Teaching on the Mount" because rather than teaching some new, "higher" law, Yeshua was taking the pure word of God, which had been interpreted and parceled out by the "teachers of the law", and instead, taught the word of God the way it was intended, and with it's intended meaning. We will soon see that this was Yeshua's own stated goal when we get to chapter 5 verses 17-20.

Yeshua did not teach anything that was and is not already written - to do so would have been to violate Deuteronomy 12:32; Proverbs 30:5,6 and Revelation 22:18. Rather, He countered the prevailing "interpretations" of the law in His day, and interpreted the Torah/law the way that was meant to be taught, as I stated above. I trust that this will become clear as we move forward.

Matt. 5:1,2
     Yeahua saw a multitude of people, so He took the opportunity to teach them. Verse 2 let's us know that what is to follow is not something new, per se, but rather, is a teaching on what is already written: "And He opened His mouth, and taught them, saying...."
Matt. 5:3-16
     Verse 3-16 are commonly referred to as the "Beatitudes." This section of His teaching sets the stage for all that is to follow, as it deals first and foremost with the heart. Each "beatitude" is just that - the "attitude" that should "be" in the followers of Yeshua. Each beatitude deals with a heart issue and/or mindset. Repentance is to turn around, or, to go in the opposite direction than the way one was going before. But it starts with the heart and mind. If the heart/mind is changed, the actions will follow. So, the heart issues of the Kingdom are given to us as follows:

-Blessed are the poor in spirit...
     We see great exapmles of this type of person in the Psalms.
        *Psalm 51:17 - We see the person with a broken spirit.
        *Psalm 10:14 - The poor "committeth himself", or, entrusts himself to God. They don't trust in    their own strength - they trust in the LORD.
        *Psalm 34:6 - "This poor man cried [out], and the LORD heard and saved him." The poor in spirit cry out unto their God - the proud do not.
        *Psalm 86:1 - The "poor" recognize their need. The proud do not. David, who wrote these particular Psalms, was in every case speaking of being poor in spirit. David was poor in spirit, and we are told in the scriptures that he was a man after God's own heart. Because David was poor in spirit, he sought the LORD and put all of his trust in God.

-Blessed are they that mourn...
     Isaiah 61:1,2 - We see in just these two verses alone that those that mourn are equated with the broken hearted and the meek. In fact, Yeshua was very likely alluding to these verses when He said "blessed are they that mourn.

-Blessed are the meek...
     We see that in Isaiah 61:1 that the "meek" were to receive "good tidings." But more directly, Yeshua is quoting Psalm 37:11. Again, meekness is a heart/mind issue. How much "meekness" do we see in Hollywood, Wallstreet, Professional Sports, American Idol, Dancing With the Stars, etc.?

-Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness...
     *Isaiah 55:1 says "Ho, everyone that thirsteth, come to the waters...." We know that this is speaking of spiritual thirst because verse 2 says "...and let your soul delight itself in fatness."
     *Isaiah 65:13 - The LORD's "servants shall eat...[and] shall drink...." We can see that this again is spiritually speaking because the context of the surrounding verses indicate that those that "shall be hungry" were/are those that "did not hear, but did evil...."
     *To hunger and thirst for righteousness is to desire the ways of the LORD.

-Blessed are the merciful...
     *2 Sam. 22 is actually another Psalm of David. Verse 26 says "with the merciful thou wilt show thyself merciful...." Of course, we can see that God is merciful many times throughout the scriptures, and that mercy is shown to the merciful.

-Blessed are the pure in heart...
     *In both2 Sam. 22:27 and Psalm 18:26 we are told that "with the pure thou wilt show thyself pure." In other words, just like Yeshua said "the pure in heart shall see God (ie. God will show Himself....)

-Blessed are the peacemakers...
     *The scriptures that speak of those that seek peace, to dwell in peace, the peace of others, etc. are too numerous to recount here. But suffice it to say, the concept of God's people being people of peace, or rather, are peacemakers is a well established concept throughout the Tenakh (OT).

What Yeshua is doing here in the first 9 verses or so is setting up for the rest of His teaching. In the Tenakh, the most common word translated as "remember" (as in "remember the Sabbath day" for example) is the Hebrew word "zakar." The word zakar can mean to "remember" something that was forgot (such as is the common usage of the word remember today, as in "oh, I just remembered"), but also has a richer, wider meaning.It means to bring something to the forefront of your mind. For example, an engineer, when at home or at leisure doesn't "forget" the necessary mathematical equations he needs to use when calculating specs on a design, but they aren't at the forefront of his mind when he is watching a football game, or when he is out fishing. But when he is working on a design, he then brings the necessary formulas to the front of his mind. When he does this he is fulfilling the second meaning of "zakar" that I shared above.  He didn't remember something that he forgot, he purposely brought information from the back of his mind to the front. He is directing his attention to it. So, when we read that "God remembered Noah..." in Genesis for example, what it means in Hebrew is that God directed His attention toward Noah. - he made Noah the object of His attention. And this is what Yeshua was doing in the Beatitudes. He was drawing from various sections of the Tenakh (OT) attributes which make up the heart/mind of the servants of God. He began His teaching by first bringing to the forefront of the peoples minds the attributes that God sees as most important. "Poor in spirit" can more easily be converted into "rich in faith" than pride can. The poor in spirit, those that mourn (over sin), the meek, the pure in heart, peacemakers - these are the ones that are more apt to "hear" and "do" (indeed, "Hear O Israel [with the intent to do]...). Yeshua was and is setting up the hearers for the rest of His teaching.

Yeshua went on to say that if you follow the LORD, it should and would be clearly seen by all (in verses 13-16) - "Ye are the light of the world." It is to be through those whose hearts are that of the previous 12 verses,and whose actions are as the remainder of His teaching (chapters 5:21-7:27) that the world will "glorify [the] Father which is in heaven."

That is all for this post. In the next (Part 2), we will begin at chapter 5 verse 17 and get into the meat of the teaching. I think we will see some interesting things that will tie the scriptures together, both those in the Tenakh, and those later in the New Testament.

Until then, may the blessings of the LORD be upon you.

Friday, August 26, 2011

John McTernon's Insights For August 26, 2011

Read This one...August 26, 2011.

Turn to the LORD Yeshua with all of your heart.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

"Pirates Of The Caribbean" A Subtle Promo For Homosexuality?

I think Joe Schimmel of Fight The Good Fight Ministries has hit the nail on the head with THIS article!

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Help The Logan Family

I added a widget to the right side bar for Tatum Logan's Cancer treatment. Tatum is the Mother of 10 children. She has cancer that, from what I understand has metastasized to other areas of her body. Funds are being raised to try to send her to a special clinic that has had remarkable success with cancer patients. If you could donate any amount, I'm sure it would be greatly appreciated by this family.

Thank you.


Saturday, July 16, 2011

Regarding The Law of God

I'm sorry that I haven't posted in a while...life has been a little more *intrusive* with my time as of late.

I came across a saved WORD doc. that I've probably had in my Documents folder for a couple of years now. It was from a time when I was engaged in an email exchange regarding the Law (Torah) of God, and the Christians responsibility to it. It was a rather lengthy conversation that took place over several months. The particular doc. that I found recently was a response I typed up but never finished, nor sent (probably because I got too busy and the conversation dropped). I wanted to post it here for the purpose of examining the biblical notions and doctrines that we all hold. Paul tells us to "examine" ourselves, to see whether we are "in the faith." He also tells us to "test all things; hold fast that which is good." So, I present the following for the purpose of not only testing what others believe, but also myself - therefore I heartily invite dialogue regarding the matter (IF it is not simply to argue and waste my time, and IF it is not simply to solicit people to your own blog/website/whatever).

It is a bit lengthy, but I hope that it will provoke some thought, and most of all, deeper study into God's word.


Hi (name removed),

 I wanted to try to directly answer a few of the questions you posed in your email. You asked me what the Law specifically "does" for a Christian. You asked "does it justify? Give righteousness? enhance faith? Make God love me more? Make you holy or more holy ?"

First I'd like to ask what your definition of the "law" is. When you say "law", what do you mean? Are you speaking of a specific 'law', or of a certain group of laws, or all of God's commandments, or the Pentateuch (5 books of moses), or the whole of the OT, or the OT plus the "oral law", etc.? The word in the NT translated "law" (gr. 'nomos') is used in a variety of applications. It also has a very narrow definition (that being "law"). Paul uses it , for example, in Rom. 8:2, where he says the "law (nomos) of the Spirit of life has set me free from the law (nomos) of sin and death." He goes on to say that the law was "weak through the flesh" so God sent His Son "in the likeness of sinful flesh" and "condemned sin in the flesh (1 John 3:4 says that "sin is the transgression of the Law")" so that "the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit." Paul does not say that to walk after the Spirit is to not do God's commands. God did not save us from the law (so as to say that we are saved from doing it) - He saved us from the condemnation of the law for breaking it. To walk after the Spirit is to be Spirit filled so as to walk IN God's ways (ie. commands, Torah - "Law"). This is not fanciful exegesis - God said this is what He would do by giving us His Spirit -

Ezekiel 36:26,27 - "A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh. And I will put my spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes, and ye shall keep my judgments, and do [them]."

Jer. 31:31-33; Heb. 8:8-12  - "Behold, the days come, saith the LORD, that I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel, and with the house of Judah: Not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day [that] I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt; which my covenant they brake, although I was an husband unto them, saith the LORD: But this [shall be] the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel; After those days, saith the LORD, I will put my law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts ; and will be their God, and they shall be my people. And they shall teach no more every man his neighbour, and every man his brother, saying, Know the LORD: for they shall all know me, from the least of them unto the greatest of them, saith the LORD: for I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more ."   

Paul makes this distinction throughout the book of Romans. God did not remove His law from us in His grace - He gave us His Spirit, to dwell within us, so that we COULD walk in His ways (something we could NEVER do in the flesh, because of sin). That is why God sent His son in the "likeness of sinful flesh" and "condemned sin in the flesh." Why in the world would God destroy His law, or remove it from us? If He somehow took away the law, changed it, removed parts of it, or simply said that we did not need to obey it, how would He then judge the world? Without law there is no transgression. The court is left powerless. Psalm 19:7-11 says - "The law of the LORD [is] perfect, converting the soul: the testimony of the LORD [is] sure, making wise the simple. The statutes of the LORD [are] right, rejoicing the heart: the commandment of the LORD [is] pure, enlightening the eyes. The fear of the LORD [is] clean, enduring for ever: the judgments of the LORD [are] true [and] righteous altogether. More to be desired [are they] than gold, yea, than much fine gold: sweeter also than honey and the honeycomb. Moreover by them is thy servant warned: [and] in keeping of them [there is] great reward." David then goes on to say in the next verse "Who can understand [his] errors? cleanse thou me from secret [faults]." How does a judge rule without a law to execute judgement? Paul expresses the same sentiment - Rom. 3:1-6 - " What advantage then hath the Jew? or what profit [is there] of circumcision? Much every way: chiefly, because that unto them were committed the oracles of God . For what if some did not believe? shall their unbelief make the faith of God without effect? God forbid: yea, let God be true, but every man a liar; as it is written, That thou mightest be justified in thy sayings, and mightest overcome when thou art judged . But if our unrighteousness commend the righteousness of God, what shall we say? [Is] God unrighteous who taketh vengeance? (I speak as a man) God forbid: for then how shall God judge the world?" Our "unrighteousness" is defined by God's law - all of it. You cannot seperate commandments - you cannot keep some, and do away with others without destroying the whole thing. Is this not what James tells us - "For whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one [point], he is guilty of all." (James 2:10).

To begin to answer you directly ("Does it justify?  Give righteousness?  Enhance faith?  Make God love me more?  Make you holy or more holy?"), no, it does not justify - it NEVER has. It was never meant to - not when you are speaking about justification before God in a "salvation" sense. Yes, it does justify in a natural sense (ie. if I am innocent of a crime that I have been accused of - and proved to be so, I am "justified" in the eyes of the law, BY the law). So it all depends on what you mean by "does it justify?" For some reason, Christian doctrine so often makes a switcheroo on people. Let me ask you - should a Christian be baptized? If yes, then why? I know your answer already. Yes, a Christian should be baptized. Why? To be obedient. Well, then is he "justified" by being baptized. Of course not. He is simply being obedient. Why is it that you can apply this thinking to baptism, but if we talk about the Sabbath, kosher, or any other thing that God commanded, it is relegated to trying to "justify" oneself. Why can't we be consistent? If we can be obedient to one command without trying to be "justified" by it, then we can be obedient to 5, 20, 250, or 1000 commands without trying to "justify" ourselves by it/them, but rather, simply out of obedience. How is it that if I try to be obedient to "Jesus' law" (as if it is different than "God's law") I am o.k., but if I try to be obedient to God's law (again, is it different?) I AM trying to justify myself?!

Dr. Kent Hovind points out that evolutionists will often point to examples of MICRO-evolution, and then try to prove MACRO-evolution by it - the old bait and switch method. Christian doctrine does the same thing. If you obey Jesus, you are simply being obedient. If you obey the "OT Law", you are being legalistic. 

Jesus' "law" is absolutely no different than the OT law - He's the One that gave it at Sinai - He's the One that unhinged it from it's corruption at the "sermon on the mount." It is often said that He actually intensified (or added to) the law in Matt. 5 by saying that not only should we not murder, but if we are angry with our brother without cause we are in danger of judgment - and 1 John says that if we hate our brother we are a murderer. Did Jesus really add to the command not to murder, or intensify it even? Nope - nothing new here. Look at Lev. 19:17 "Thou shalt not hate thy brother in thine heart...." All that Jesus did was He tied the two together - He unified these two commands - which was and is nothing new. God's law is a complete whole - if you break 1 "you are guilty of all...." (cf. James) When He said that to even "look" at a woman to "lust after her" one commits adultery with her in their heart, was He giving us something new? Nope - check out Ex. 20:17 "Thou shalt not covet thy neighbour's house, thou shalt not covet thy neighbour's wife , nor his manservant, nor his maidservant, nor his ox, nor his ass, nor anything that [is] thy neighbour's." All Jesus did was link the command not to commit adultery to the command not to "covet" (ie. lust after) our neighbor's wife. They are not distinct, individual commands. The Law is a complete whole. Didn't He Himself say that "not one jot or tittle will pass from the law....?" B.T.W. - If Jesus removed our need to obey certain commands (or Paul for that matter), or if He added to God's law, He would be guilty of breaking it!!!

Deut. 4:2;12:32 "Ye shall not add unto the word which I command you, neither shall ye diminish [ought] from it, that ye may keep the commandments of the LORD your God which I command you."

Prov. 30:6 "Add thou not unto his words , lest he reprove thee, and thou be found a liar."
Rev. 22:18,19 "For I testify unto every man that heareth the words of the prophecy of this book, If any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book: And if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life, and out of the holy city, and [from] the things which are written in this book."

As an aside: The Jews do not call the OT, the "OT" (as we Christians often do). They call it by an acronym - "TeNaKh"- which stands for "Torah, Nevi'im, Ketuv'im", or, the "Torah (law), prophets, writings." It is their name for what we call the OT. Torah means "instruction" and encompasses God's word as a whole (because it is ALL instruction). I would consider everything from Genesis to Revelation God's word, therefore it is all "Torah." Notice that the warning not to ADD to God's word, nor to DIMINISH it (ie. take away from it) is found in Deut. Prov. and Rev. - representing the "Torah (law - Deut), writings (Prov.), and prophets (Rev.).

Now, back to the "sermon on the mount." Did Jesus add to God's word? No. Did He diminish it? No. He did not and could not. Everything He supposedly "added" was already there! If He "diminished" (ie. lessoned, removed) any of it, He would be guilty of violating it, thus He would and could not be the Messiah.

Does God's law "give righteousness" you asked. It IS righteousness. Psalm 119 is replete with this message (as well as hundreds of other verses, including Paul's). To "do" it is to "do" righteousness. What does the Bible say about John the baptiser’s parents? " There was in the days of Herod, the king of Judaea, a certain priest named Zacharias, of the course of Abia: and his wife [was] of the daughters of Aaron, and her name [was] Elisabeth. And they were both righteous before God, walking in all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord blameless ." What?! I thought the law only condemns and kills? How is it that they are called "righteous" because they "walked" in God's law? They are called "blameless." Were they without sin?!? Of course not. This is the misconception that Christianity has regarding God's law, based upon a misunderstanding of what Paul taught (mostly). Tell me, was it possible to be "blameless" in God's law BEFORE the cross (in which Jesus died for our sins), but after the cross, we are only condemned by it; it could only "kill" as you put it?!? Doesn't the law only condemn? This is totally backwards, don't you think? Before Jesus died, weren't we all condemned by the law, but after His death, we were "freed"? How is it that they were "blameless" concerning God's law? I have an answer for it, but it differs from the common Christian understanding of God's law.

You asked if it "enhances faith". The answer is, yes - does not obedience to the Lord enhance faith? How do you obey the Lord without obeying what He says? Yes, my faith is CERTAINLY enhanced by obeying God's commands - so is my understanding. Do I think it improves my "justification"? Of course not, and I already covered this above. My faith being enhanced by obedience has nothing to do with my "justification", which is ALREADY ACCOMPLISHED by my faith in the atoning sacrifice of Jesus on my behalf.

You asked if the law "makes God love me more." I don't think so. But it certainly pleases Him when His children obey Him, don't you think?

You asked if the law "makes you holy, or more holy." Let's first define "holy." How do you define it. As far as I know, the bible defines "holy', which literally means "set-apart." Peter tells us, in 2 Peter 1:15,16 "But as he which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation (ie. in all our "conduct", or "lifestyle", or "behavior"); Because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy." First: he tells us that everything about our life is to be holy. Second: he doesn't give us a working definition of "holy." Third: this is because he is quoting a previous passage in his instruction to us, thus, he expects that we will either already know what he is referring to, or that we will learn it by following his quote. Isn't this what biblical hermeneutics demands? Shouldn't we look up the passage he is quoting from as his basis for telling us to be holy? Well, one of the passages is Lev. 19 (it is stated also in Exodus 22; Lev. 11; Lev. 20, et al). You can check it out yourself, but I do think the first few verses are interesting - Here is the first 12 verses: "And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying, Speak unto all the congregation of the children of Israel, and say unto them, Ye shall be holy: for I the LORD your God [am] holy (This is where Peter is quoting from). Ye shall fear every man his mother, and his father, and keep my sabbaths: I [am] the LORD your God. Turn ye not unto idols, nor make to yourselves molten gods: I [am] the LORD your God. And if ye offer a sacrifice of peace offerings unto the LORD, ye shall offer it at your own will.  It shall be eaten the same day ye offer it, and on the morrow: and if ought remain until the third day, it shall be burnt in the fire.  And if it be eaten at all on the third day, it [is] abominable; it shall not be accepted. Therefore [every one] that eateth it shall bear his iniquity, because he hath profaned the hallowed thing of the LORD: and that soul shall be cut off from among his people. And when ye reap the harvest of your land, thou shalt not wholly reap the corners of thy field, neither shalt thou gather the gleanings of thy harvest.  And thou shalt not glean thy vineyard, neither shalt thou gather [every] grape of thy vineyard; thou shalt leave them for the poor and stranger: I [am] the LORD your God.Ye shall not steal, neither deal falsely, neither lie one to another. And ye shall not swear by my name falsely, neither shalt thou profane the name of thy God: I [am] the LORD."

Here we see everything from honoring one’s parents, to not stealing, to keeping God's Sabbath’s, to not swearing by God's name falsely, to how your peace and freewill offerings are to be made, etc. etc. The entire chapter goes on and on. Could you please tell me what Peter was referring to when he gave us the blanket command of being holy - which of the commands in Lev. 19 are do we obey in order to be holy, and which do we ignore?

Yes, God's law makes us "holy." The more we walk obediently to God, the more we are "set-apart" from the world - God  says so Himself.

*This concludes the email - as I stated already, I never finished it nor sent it.

Monday, June 20, 2011

New Link

I have been away for a while due to both internet problems, as well as family health issues. I hope to be back blogging soon, as I have several topics I hope to discuss. In the meantime I wanted to draw your attention to a new link I have added - one that I highly recommend, both for the articles as well as, and if not more so, for the audio programs. So please check out Chris Pinto at Noise Of Thunder Radio (link added to the "Teaching Websites" section).

Blessings in Messiah Yeshua.

Friday, April 8, 2011

More On Easter

I wanted to take a moment and try to bring some clarity to my last post, and to an issue that usually develops when the discussion of Easter and Passover come up with believers. One of the arguments (or, reasons) given for the defense of Christians celebrating Easter is that they are celebrating the resurrection of Jesus, and so, while acknowledging the Passover (representing His death) is viewed as a good thing, the recognition and celebration of His resurrection is what really matters. That is the glorious celebration of His triumph over the grave, and that is why many Christians celebrate Easter. In addition, I acknowledge that many Christians eschew the typical Easter trappings of Bunnies,Easter egg hunts, etc. They prefer to focus upon and celebrate the resurrection of Yeshua, a laudable thing indeed.

At this point I would like to clarify two things. First, When responding to the argument that we should reject celebrating Easter to instead celebrate the Passover, it is proposed that the Passover focuses on Yeshua's death while Easter celebrates His resurrection - as if Easter is a more lofty celebration than Passover. Maybe that is not the intended implication, yet, never the less, it is the implication. What I find interesting about this is the simple fact that Yeshua, at the Passover Seder, said that the unleavened bread of the Passover and the traditional cup of wine (or for some, grape juice) drank during the Seder were the elements that we were to remember Him by, both being symbols of His death. Second, Paul himself said that as often as we eat the bread and drink the cup, we show the Lord's death until He comes (see 1 Cor. 11:26). So we are directly instructed to remember Yeshua's death, and by participating in the yearly Passover Seder we are "showing" His death until He returns. Now, this next point I want to make very clear. I believe and hope in the resurrection of Yeshua from the grave, and the fact that it lets me know that I too will take part in the resurrection one day. But nowhere in scripture are we told to engage in any sort of act or observance in remembrance of it.We are directly told to remember His death every year in the Passover Seder elements of the bread and wine. But we are not given anything by way of observance to remember His resurrection - at least - directly, by Yeshua or Paul in the NT. However, there IS a celebration (or recognition) of the resurrection, but it is embedded within the Passover/Feast of Unleavened Bread celebration! I have shared this in recent posts, but I'll share it again briefly. Yeshua died at Passover, and rose again on the third day, and three days after Passover is the little known Feast of Firstfruits. Now, while not directly telling us to celebrate the Feast of Firstfruits in commemoration of Yeshua's resurrection, Paul does link it to the resurrection in 1 Corinthians chapter 15, which some call "the resurrection chapter."

Here's a simple question for everyone: If Yeshua died on or at Passover, and rose again three days later (and this is what we know for sure), then why do we celebrate His resurrection every year on the first Sunday after the vernal (Spring) equinox, and not three days after Passover?!? Why is the Christian Church's celebration in concert with a time that the Pagan and Wiccan religions celebrate their festivals? And why is the celebration of Yeshua's resurrection called "Easter?" Does anyone ever consider these things???

This year, Christians will be celebrating Yeshua's resurrection on the 24th of April - 5 days after the Passover. In 2008, Passover was April 19th, and Easter was on March 23rd! How could He rise before His death?! Does that sound reasonable? Doesn't that mar the picture of "three days and three nights?"

If I recall, Yeshua said numerous times that He would rise from the grave three days after His death. He gave the "sign" of Jonah, which was the fact that Jonah was in the belly of the "fish" for three days and three nights. Wouldn't you agree that the fact that Yeshua was to rise from the grave three days after His death was and is emphasized in the Bible? Perhaps there is a very good reason for that.

So, if we know when Yeshua rose from the grave, why is it that we celebrate His resurrection at a time that many times falls quite a time after Passover (and in some years, before Passover!)?

Most Christians proclaim "sola scriptura" -  the "scriptures alone"! Yet I find that at least in this case, the scriptures are NOT what are dictating one of (if not THE) most highly regarded and celebrated events in human history - the resurrection of Jesus. No, instead, we have yoked ourselves to a date that is listed on the Pagan calendars, and has absolutely nothing to do with the resurrection of Yeshua the Messiah from the grave. Doesn't that seem odd to anyone?

If you have never considered WHY you do what you do, perhaps this year could be your time. Why do you celebrate the things that you do? And if the "why" is solidly answered in your mind, how about the "when" and "how"? Shouldn't these things be considered? What's more, are you willing?

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Pagan Calendar

So we are now in that season in which Christians, Jews, and those of the various Wiccan and Pagan religions hold very dear unto themselves - and for good reason, as several highly regarded and important festive times are occuring this Month for all three. However, since I am a believer in Yeshua the Messiah, I am mostly concerned with the Christian/Jewish holidays. And most specifically for this particular post, I am interested in pointing out some things that will hopefully jar people (specifically Christians) awake, and share some eye opening information.

For many years (centuries/millenium really) there has been debate within the Christian Church over various issues, one of which being Easter. There have always been those that have declared that it was and is a Pagan festival that Christians should not have any part in. And equally, there have been those that defend the observance of Easter as being completely permisible  for Christians to celebrate. In fact, many Christians regard it as the highest holiday on the Christian calendar (and for good reason, as they are seeking to celebrate the resurrection of Yeshua from the grave - the cornerstone doctrine of our faith). And of course both sides have their "biblical" support. I will be open at this point and state right up front that I believe that Christians who seek to follow Yeshua (Jesus) should not celebrate Easter, and of course, I have my biblical reasons. But I will take it one step further. I not only believe that Christians should not celebrate Easter, but also that they should celebrate Passover. I won't go into all of that here (much of the reasoning can be found in previous blog posts), as there is just one, simple point that I want to make in this post.

I would like to present a couple of examples of modern Pagan calendars, showing various holidays and festivals. The first is found at a website called Pagan Calendar. If you click on the link, you will get a glimpse of the shcedule for the Month of April, 2011. What I find of interest first is the fact that there are quite a few Pagan festivals! Man alive, that is quite the calendar of events! What I noticed second was the fact that right in the midst of all of these Pagan celebrations we find...Easter! Now, why on earth would a (supposedly) "Christian" holiday be listed on a Pagan calendar??? I mean, the name of the calendar (and website) is "Pagan Calendar." So why is a "Christian celebration on a Pagan calendar? Hmmmm. Furthermore, what I find notoriously absent on the calendar is the BIBLICAL feast of Passover. Passover...that celebration that, according to the NT and according to Christian doctrine is a feast that speaks of and points to Jesus (Yeshua)!

To give yet another example I'd like to offer the website Gypsy Magic. Once again, if you scroll down to the Month of April for this year, we see a boatload of Pagan/Wiccan holidays listed...and right in their midst we have...Easter. Now again, why would a Pagan/Wiccan calendar list Easter among thier celebrations? (BTW - did you happen to notice that "Good Friday" was listed as well on both sites?). Yet interstingly enough, Passover is not listed.

I've covered the issue of Passover in previous posts, so I don't want to be-labor the point here again. But anyone can easily look up Easter, it's origins, practices, etc. and find a plethora of information on it. The bottom line on it though is that it is NOT biblical. It is NOT fitting for a believer in Yeshua (Jesus) to partake in, no matter how much the Church tries to "baptize" it and pronounce it Holy! Yeshua did not rise from the dead on "Easter." He rose three days after the Passover, which hapens to be the biblical Feast of Firstfruits.

Perhaps in the future we can take a deeper, longer look into the celebration of Easter within the Christian Church. But for now I will contend that believers in Yeshua the Messiah should not be partakers in that celebration, even if we say that we are merely celebrating the resurrection of Jesus from the grave (when we in fact are not, since we KNOW when He rose, and it was not on the first Sunday on or after the Vernal (Spring) Equinox)!

My desire is to prompt anyone and everyone reading this blog to:

1) Read the bible daily, and follow it in faith and action, and...
2) Call everyone to "Test all things; hold fast what is good" - 1 Thess. 5:21

Revelation 18:4

"And I heard another voice from heaven, saying, Come out of her, my people, that ye be not partakers of her sins, and that ye receive not of her plagues."

Please take the time to really look into this issue, and seek the scriptures concerning it. Don't let my words, nor the words of anyone else make the decision for you. I only seek to provoke everyone to search the scriptures themselves.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

A Continuation Of Communion, And The Passover Seder

 *Note: I do not necessarily agree with nor endorse everything in the articles that I link to, nor the website links*

In my last post, we looked at the issue of "Communion", with Acts 20:7 as our starting point because it has traditionally been pointed to as the "example" of the disciples of Yeshua (Jesus) coming together for a Sunday gathering, and taking communion together, both interpretations of which are anachronistic. This later practice of Christians worshiping together on Sunday rather than on the Sabbath, and the modern communion service of taking a cracker or piece of bread, and a small cup of juice or wine either weekly on Sunday gatherings (which is very common among many congregations, specifically because they think that this is what the early disciples did), or once a month, or at any time that they feel "led" to do so, is read back into the scriptures rather than what really took place.

I want to stress at this point that I do not believe that modern communion services are "wrong" or "evil" or anything of the sort. And, in many ways are very comforting and unifying for believers in Yeshua (Jesus). But I also must emphasize the point that it is not what the disciples in the bible did, nor is it fulfilling Yeshua's instruction to us to do "this" in remembrance of Him. As I breached this semi thoroughly in the previous post, I want to trod a little further into the scriptures to seek to gain a better perspective on what the disciples really did do regularly regarding this matter.

In my last post, one passage that we looked at was 1 Corinthians 5, specifically verses 7 and 8. Paul uses the backdrop of the Passover Seder, and the imagery found within it to speak to the Corinthian congregation about real heart issues (as well as true physical sin as well!), and urged them to consider more than the simple telling of the Passover narrative, but to seek to remove the "leaven" of wickedness and malice of their lives during the Passover week. Remember, however, that Paul is not merely "spiritualizing" the Passover/Unleavened bread feast, he is calling upon the Corinthians to celebrate the feast in "sincerity and truth"!  Paul therefore, contrary to common understanding, is not against Gentile Christians celebrating the Feasts of Israel - he is the champion for their inclusion to celebrate the Feasts!!! Consider these words, penned by Paul, regarding Gentile inclusion into Israel:

"Wherefore remember, that ye [being] in time past Gentiles in the flesh, who are called Uncircumcision by that which is called the Circumcision in the flesh made by hands; That at that time ye were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world: But now in Christ Jesus ye who sometimes were far off are made nigh by the blood of Christ. For he is our peace, who hath made both one, and hath broken down the middle wall of partition [between us]; Having abolished in his flesh the enmity, [even] the law of commandments [contained] in ordinances; for to make in himself of twain one new man, [so] making peace; And that he might reconcile both unto God in one body by the cross, having slain the enmity thereby: And came and preached peace to you which were afar off, and to them that were nigh. For through him we both have access by one Spirit unto the Father. Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellowcitizens with the saints, and of the household of God." - Ephesians 2:11-19.

"For this cause I Paul, the prisoner of Jesus Christ for you Gentiles, If ye have heard of the dispensation of the grace of God which is given me to you-ward: How that by revelation he made known unto me the mystery; (as I wrote afore in few words, Whereby, when ye read, ye may understand my knowledge in the mystery of Christ) Which in other ages was not made known unto the sons of men, as it is now revealed unto his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit; That the Gentiles should be fellowheirs, and of the same body, and partakers of his promise in Christ by the gospel." - Ephesians 3:1-6

Of course, many other passage could be shared, such as Romans 11, that demonstrate that's Paul was a champion for the case that the Gentiles could be partakers of God's covenants and promises to Israel - they were and are not to be regarded as those that are separate, or to be kept at bay. The Gentiles who desire to come to God through Jesus Christ (Yeshua HaMoshiach) are permitted to do so, and are considered "fellowheirs". To whom are they "fellowheirs" then? Those to whom the the covenants and promises were given to - Israel!

So then, Paul fought those teachings and ideas that sought to preclude (as opposed to his doctrine to include) the Gentiles. And in doing so, he taught the Corinthian community that they were indeed to "Keep the Feast" of Passover. And, this would make sense. If the Feasts of Passover, Firstfruits, and Unleavened Bread were and are "shadows" and pictures of the Messiah, Yeshua, then for whom would the celebration of said festivals be more appropriate for?!

*At this point I want to take a moment and say that I will in no way be able to cover all of the issues that could be raised and discussed in this post, such as the "middle wall of partition" spoken of in the above passage from Ephesians, as well as any other issues that will be found within other passages that I will quote from. If in the reading of these passages questions or other issues arise in your mind, then feel free to comment regarding it and we will address it separately. I will be seeking to stay on the topic at hand, which is the issue of "communion" and it's relation to the Passover.*

So, back to Paul. At this point I would like to share another passage that, while addressing another problem within the Corinthian congregation, makes an interesting point that I think is completely missed by Christians because we either are ignorant of the idiom that is actually used, or because we link Paul's words to communion because that is what we have been told is the "Lord's Supper." And that passage is 1 Corinthians 10:14-17, which read as follows: "Wherefore, my dearly beloved, flee from idolatry. I speak as to wise men; judge ye what I say. The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not the communion of the blood of Christ? The bread which we break, is it not the communion of the body of Christ? For we [being] many are one bread, [and] one body: for we are all partakers of that one bread."

As you can probably guess, I want to hone in on the highlighted part. Here, we can see that the cup and the bread that are taken by Christians worldwide are called by Paul the "communion" of the body Messiah. But is the practice of "communion" what Paul was referring to? Was it the practice of Paul and the disciples? Let's take a look and see...

First, it is obvious that Paul is referring to a regular practice of the believers to take a cup, and some "bread", and share in the "communion" of the body of Messiah. That is plain as day. But what "cup", and what "bread" is Paul referring to here? Let's take the "bread" first. When the "bread" that was broken, as Paul refers to when he says "the bread that we break", was indeed "broken", it was broken by Yeshua during His last Passover Seder on this earth. It was this bread, specifically the unleavened bread of the Passover Seder that Yeshua said represented His body! This point must not be overlooked. He said that that bread, the bread of Passover, was the bread with which we were to "remember" Him by, hence His words, "this is My body which is given for you: do this in remembrance of Me." Luke 22:19. So then, the question must be asked: do what in remembrance of Him? Well, let me ask a question to answer the question. Do we see any reference to any other bread in the scriptures that are referred to as the bread that we are to "break" in remembrance of Yeshua? We only see the directive given in connection to the matza of Passover. Remember that old catchphrase that we are exhorted to go to the scriptures with - "context, context, context." The context is the Passover.

Alright, I've beaten that dead horse long enough! Now to our second clue. What else does Paul mention in the 1 Corinthians chapter 10 passage? He specifically mentions the "cup of blessing, which we bless...." What on earth is he referring to? Is he simply speaking of what we commonly know today as the communion cup, that simple cup of juice that Christians drink in remembrance of Yeshua's blood? After all, we usually pray and thank the Lord for His sacrificial giving of Himself for us for salvation and redemption. Isn't that the cup of blessing, which we bless? Well, the key is found in the phrase, "the cup of blessing." And I hinted at the answer when I mentioned that we thank the Lord for the "redemption" provided to and for us by Yeshua's shed blood. If you followed any of the links that I posted to in my last blog post regarding the four cups that are commonly consumed during the Passover Seder, you would have read that each cup represents a different element of the salvation/redemption ideal found within the Exodus narrative. When we read the narrative of Yeshua's last supper in the gospel of Luke, we read of Him taking a cup and giving thanks, and then sharing it with His disciples. In the scenario of the 4 cups of Passover, the first cup is often referred to as "kiddush", or "sanctification" because that cup begins the "sanctified" feast. But notice that after they had eaten, Luke tells us that He also took the cup "after supper", and it was this cup that He said represented His blood, shed for us. So, the cup after supper represents Yeshua's blood, and the inauguration of the 'New Covenant." Well, in the tradition of the four cups, the third cup, the cup after supper is often called the "cup of redemption." But you know what? It also has a second name. Care to guess what that is? I hope you guessed right - it is called the "cup of blessing"(1). There happens to be a cup that is drank every year at Passover by observant Jews, a third cup, a cup after supper, that is called the cup of blessing. And interestingly enough, Luke tells us explicitly that Yeshua took the cup after supper, and said that it represented His blood. And interestingly enougher (I know, bad English - so sue me ;-) ), Paul makes reference to a "cup of blessing, which we bless."

When Paul mentions the cup of blessing, he refers to it as he opens up into a teaching against Idolatry (1 Cor. 10:16-21). By mentioning the "cup of blessing which we bless" and the "bread which we break", Paul is specifically referring to the Passover Seder, and calls it "the Lord's table" (cf. vs. 21). He contrasts it with the "table of devils." It would take a whole 'nuther blog post to delve into this adequately, but I bring this up in order to show you where he is getting this distinction from. Remember that Paul grew up learning the Tanakh (Old Testament). Paul was a Pharisee (and remained one all of his life, something that perhaps may get covered in the future), and a student of Gamliel. We know from records that Gamliel required his students to memorize the entire Torah (the five books of Moses). So Paul was very intimately familiar with the writings of Moses. Soooo, when Paul made a distinction between the Lord's table, and the table of demons, and spoke against Idolatry in 1 Cor. chapter 10, he may have been drawing upon this passage in Exodus 34:12-18 - "Take heed to thyself, lest thou make a covenant with the inhabitants of the land whither thou goest, lest it be for a snare in the midst of thee: But ye shall destroy their altars, break their images, and cut down their groves: For thou shalt worship no other god: for the LORD, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God: Lest thou make a covenant with the inhabitants of the land, and they go a whoring after their gods, and do sacrifice unto their gods, and one call thee, and thou eat of his sacrifice; And thou take of their daughters unto thy sons, and their daughters go a whoring after their gods, and make thy sons go a whoring after their gods. Thou shalt make thee no molten gods. The feast of unleavened bread shalt thou keep. Seven days thou shalt eat unleavened bread, as I commanded thee, in the time of the month Abib: for in the month Abib thou camest out from Egypt."

Notice that The LORD, via Moses, instructs the people to not take up the ways of the Nations around them, and to not worship their gods. He warns them that they could end up doing sacrifice unto these foreign gods, and "eat of his sacrifice." Immediately after these injunctions, he reminds them to Keep the Feast of Unleavened Bread (in which Passover is intrinsically connected to). See, there are the LORD's feasts, but the "gods" of the heathen have their feasts as well. There is the Lord's table, and the table of demons. The Wiccan religion has it's calendar and feasts. Islam has it's calendar and feasts. Hinduism has it's calendar and feasts. And then there is the Lord's calendar and feasts. These are for us to remember Him by.    

I find it also noteworthy that Yeshua did not take the Pesach lamb and tell His disciples to eat it in remembrance of Him, even though we know that the lamb certainly represented Him, as He was the "Lamb of God which taketh away the sin of the world." - John 1:29

Perhaps He knew that the Temple was going to eventually be destroyed, and then there would be no more lamb at Passover? Of course we know that this is the case because He foretold of the destruction of the Temple in Matthew chapter 24. But He did take the unleavened bread that is eaten at Passover, and the third cup of wine/juice and used them to symbolize His body and blood in His death. And, as Paul said "For as often as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye do shew the Lord's death till he come." - 1 Cor. 11:26. Many have taken this phrase "as often as ye eat..." to mean "whenever you decide to take bread and wine and eat." But remember, the context of Paul's instruction is the Passover bread and wine/juice. Passover is an annual celebration, and therefore it comes around year after year after year. The phrase "as often as" simply denotes a continuous thing, which happens to be the case for the Passover, Firstfruits, and Unleavened Bread. And what does Paul tell us? He tells us that every time we partake in the Passover Seder, we proclaim the Lord's death until He comes. We cannot take his words out of the context in which he said them. And how does eating "this" bread, and drinking "this" cup proclaim Yeshua's death? We proclaim that Yeshua is the Paschal Lamb, the "Lamb of God which taketh away the sin of the world!" For some reason, Christianity has proclaimed that Yeshua (Jesus) was and is the Paschal Lamb, yet it has rejected the Passover celebration that commemorates His death!!!

To conclude, I must restate that these last two posts are not intended to imply that what is commonly known as "communion" is wrong, or evil in any way. But it is out of context, and is not a fulfillment of what we were actually instructed to do by Yeshua Himself, and later by Paul in his letters (Epistles). There is a beauty to the communion service, but we do it to the neglect of what we were actually instructed to do in remembrance of Yeshua's death - the Passover.

So to close, I want to encourage everyone to "search the scriptures" themselves, and see if "those things were so." - Acts 17:10,11.

(1) As demonstrated, for example, in the following quote, taken from Wikipedia under the title "Birkat Hamazon" (to read entire article go here) : "It is customary for the person leading the zimmun to recite the blessings over a cup of wine called the kos shel beracha (cup of blessing). Although sometimes done at ordinary meals, it is more commonly done on Shabbat and Jewish Holidays, and almost universally done at meals celebrating special events. At a Passover Seder, the cup of blessing is drunk by everyone present, and functions as the "Third Cup". The practice of a cup of blessing is mentioned in the Talmud".

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Communion, In Acts 20:7?

*Please note: I do not necessarily agree with everything from every article or website that I link to for this post - except, of course, mine!  ;-)

In one of my recent posts (A Different Way To View It...) I covered Acts 20:7-8, mainly focusing on the issue of the disciples' coming together "...on the first day of the week..." (vs.7a). This time I would like to zero in on the rest of that verse, where we read that "...the disciples came together to break bread..." (vs.7b). This verse has traditionally been used to support the notion that the disciples made a gradual move away from worshiping together on the Sabbath (specifically Saturday), to gathering together on Sunday to celebrate "The Lord's Day", and to take "communion" together. But as I shared in the post mentioned above, nowhere in the bible is Sunday made of exceptional importance regarding Yeshua's resurrection, but rather, it was the third day that was emphasized. And this begs the question... the third day of what? And, as I shared in that post, it was and is the third day after Passover, which happens to be the biblical feast of "Firstfruits" (for more info. click on the link above to read the post if you have not already).

So, not only is Acts 20:7 most likely not a Sunday "Church" gathering (which is the common viewpoint today), but I will contend that the gathering did not include a "communion" service, as is the common view today as well. I've heard bible Teacher after Pastor after bible Teacher teach on this passage, and interpret it as a Sunday gathering where the disciples listened to bible teaching (the only part of the interpretation that is correct), and had "communion."

I would like to quickly say before we move on that I am not against communion, or even believers gathering together on Sunday to fellowship and study the bible together, pray, etc. My point will be to show, from the text, and from other passages in the bible as well that not only was Acts 20:7 not a Sunday gathering/communion service, but also that such a concept was non-existent to Yeshua, and His first century followers.

First, we need to look at the phrase "break bread" for we are told that the disciples came together to do that very thing here in Acts 20:7. But, does the phrase "break bread" intend to convey to us the idea of what is commonly called "communion", or, "the Lord's supper?" I don't believe that this is what Luke (the author of Acts) intended to convey to us. The term "break bread" was, and is a common Jewish expression for "sharing a meal." For instance, the following quote will show that the phrase is still understood this way, in our modern day:

"Eating together, according to Jewish law, means thanking God together, and a zimun is how you do it. One companion (in the literal sense of one with whom you break bread) invites the others to thank God or bensh together.
Zimun is the mishnaic Hebrew for invitation.  In modern Hebrew, we say hazmanah. The root of both the ancient and current terms is the same: z’man, meaning time.  
Zimun and hazmanah are natural outgrowths of z’man as the original, biblical meaning of the term was a set time — everything and every purpose under heaven has an appointed time (z’man) — based on Ecclesiastes 3:1.  An invitation, or zimun, is an appointment; a temporal arrangement.
Indeed modern Hebrew does not distinguish between invitation and a summoning to appear.  In Israeli restaurants, you mazmin your food; you also mazmin a taxi when you are ready to go home. In English, of course, we invite neither meals nor taxis, we order or book them. Ehud Olmert has been huzman for questioning by the police; now, he certainly was not invited, he was summoned.  It is also interesting to note the similarity between the Hebrew z’man and the English summon.
A postprandial zimun is a ritual that acknowledges the meaningfulness of eating as a community — that eating together is part of being together." (1) (emphasis mine)

Aside from the phrase being used today to denote "a meal", it is used in the scriptures multiple times in reference to a simple meal as well (see Matt. 15:36 and Acts 2:46 for a couple of examples). Within Judaism, to "break bread" was, and is, an idiom that meant/means to recite a pre-meal blessing and, or, to the meal itself (to read an article that illustrates this point in more depth, please read "Breaking of Bread the Jewish Understanding").

So, I don't see that Acts 20:7 gives us any direct reason to believe that the gathering of the disciples to "break bread" was anything more than a communal meal together, not unlike a Havdalah meal today. Furthermore, the idea that it was "communion" comes from (in the opinion of myself, and others) an eisegetical (reading something into the text, rather than exegesis - drawing something directly out of the text) reading of the passage, for nowhere does it indicate that it was anything more than a shared meal. Now, the wording "...when the disciples came together to break bread..." does indicate that their coming together was not irregular - in fact, it seems that it was a natural communal gathering of the disciples, but again, as I shared in my previous post on this passage, and at the beginning of this paragraph, it was more likely a communal meal to end the sabbath together, or perhaps a meal celebrating the first of the counting of weeks until Shavuot (Pentecost).

So, moving on from there, I would like to look at the issue of "communion" as a whole, and see if what Roman Catholicism, and "Protestantism"(2) understand and practice as "communion" is actually what Yeshua instituted for us to remember Him by, and what the biblical disciples actually observed.

I think that we all know that "communion" came from what many call "The Last Supper"(3), the account of which can be read in Matt. 26, Mark 14, and Luke 22.(4) Please go back and read these passages (or at least one of them) to get the sequence of events fresh in your mind. As Luke was the author of the book of Acts, I will focus mostly on his account of the event. If we look at the account, and take the facts point by point, we will see everything within it's context, which is of utmost importance. I'm sure we have all heard Pastors in the pulpit, as well as on the radio hammer home that point - "context, context, context!" Well, that's a great point, however, I think that it is quickly thrown out the window, as often we are pointed to the "early Church Fathers" to give backing to the understanding that is poured into passages such as the "Last Supper" narratives. And that is what we call eisegesis.

So, what was the "Last Supper", and what did Yeshua intend for His followers to do as a memorial of Him? The first question is obvious from a plain reading of the text - it was a Passover meal(5). The second question, then, is where we need to focus. Just what was and or is it that Yeshua intended for His disciples to do in remembrance of Him? The Catholic Church has weekly Mass. All of the other "Christian" denominations(6) have a form of "communion" in some form or fashion, and to varying degrees of regularity.Typically, it is practiced with a small flat cracker or piece of bread, and either wine or grape juice (usually about a thimble full or so!). In many instances a scripture passage or two is read (1 Cor. 11:23-34 for example), and then a prayer is offered, and everyone partakes. But my question is this - was this what Yeshua intended for us to do in remembrance of Him?

How does a piece of cracker or bread, and a small sip of juice or wine remind us of Him? Well, it very well could, and certainly does for many people, precisely because Yeshua told us to consume both items while remembering what He did for us. But I believe it goes further than that. Did Yeshua intend for us to simply grab any ol' piece of bread or cracker, grab some juice (whatever happens to be near by), say a prayer and eat? You see, the problem with this is that it is completely devoid of any context (something in which another thing is anchored, or grounded to and in). You might be thinking "well, the context is Yeshua's death", and that, of course, is right. But Yeshua's death was not devoid of context either. The message of redemption was and is deeply embedded in the feast(s) of Passover/Unleavened Bread/Firstfruits. Yeshua Himself made His death, burial, and resurrection inherent within those feasts. He repeatedly made reference to His resurrection being on the third day (a matter already discussed in "A Different Way To View It"). We know that His death coincided with Passover. It was at His last Passover seder that He took the bread (matza - unleavened bread), and said that it, as in, the matza, specifically the Passover matza, represented His body! It was the wine, specifically the wine traditionally consumed at Passover (and according to Luke's gospel, the "cup after dinner" - ie., the "cup of redemption") that He said represented His blood! In other words, the matza and wine of Passover were the elements that were to represent His body and blood, given in atonement...given for redemption. 

Paul makes an interesting connection is 1 Cor. 5. He first begins by rebuking the Corinthian congregation for allowing blatant sexual immorality in their midst, and being "puffed up" about it even (see vs. 2)! He then does something that is very Hebraic - he takes a tangible physical thing and relates it to an intangible, spiritual truth. He took the example of the removal of all leaven from ones home at Passover, and related it to our removing the "leaven" from our lives. In other words, just as at Passover we remove literal leaven from our homes, we are to remove "spiritual" leaven from our hearts and lives. After all, there must be a reason for the removal of all leaven from our homes at Passover. But what? It is a picture of the removal of leaven from our hearts and lives. The ritual of Passover is meant to teach us - to be a picture of spiritual things, demonstrated by hands on participation in a tangible, real experience. Isn't this how we learn best? Are not Tech schools for that very purpose. When someone is studying to be a Mechanic (well, I guess today they are called "Technicians"), do they simply read books and look at pictures? No. They get their hands dirty. They work on vehicles. So it is with medical students. So it is with just about every trade out there.

Paul then goes on to say that "Christ our Passover is sacrificed for us" (vs. 7). So, was Paul just spiritualizing the Passover event, or Yeshua's death? No, for Yeshua really died. But He is also our Passover lamb. But, is He a literal lamb? Of course not. The physical teaches the spiritual. A real lamb was sacrificed at Passover, but was a spiritual picture of the ultimate sacrifice - Yeshua. Yeshua literally died at Passover, but He is not a literal lamb. Get it? The physical and the spiritual blend together, and BOTH are important. Understanding this, and wanting us to grasp the spiritual implications of the cleaning out of leaven from our homes, Paul makes the correlation between the removal of literal leaven, a spiritual picture of sin. And understanding the literal death of Yeshua, Paul then goes on to say "Therefore let us keep the feast, not with old leaven, neither with the leaven of malice and wickedness; but with the unleavened [bread] of sincerity and truth." (vs. 8). He makes a spiritual application for us using one of the main elements of Passover.

There is a direct biblical connection given to us between the Passover lamb and Yeshua; The unleavened bread that is broken during the meal and Yeshua's body broken for us; The wine/juice drunk at Passover and Yeshua's blood shed for us; The removing of all leaven from our homes as a picture of removing the "leaven" from our lives (and Paul gives us the examples of removing the "leaven" of "malice and wickedness" and replacing them with the "unleavened bread of sincerity and truth" - vs. 8).

By having this connection, made by Yeshua and Paul directly, we have something to "anchor" our doctrines to. The doctrine/teaching of the body and blood of Yeshua, shed on the cross for us, and the removal of "leaven" from our lives is directly tied to the Passover seder and week of unleavened bread (and, as I shared in "A Different Way To View It..." the Feast of Firstfruits occurs during the week of Unleavened Bread, and is connected to Yeshua's resurrection)!

So, if we choose to celebrate our most fundamental and important doctrines in and with celebrations that are nowhere to be found in scripture, to what are they tied to? What is their anchor? There is none - we simply have to import our doctrines into whatever celebration or practice we are choosing to join in. Yet Paul directly tells us to "keep the feast" (again, vs. 8), as in, the Feast of Passover/Firstfruits/Unleavened Bread!

In 1 Cor. chapter 11, Paul again touches on "the Lord's supper" (calling it as such directly - vs. 20). It is obvious from vs. 21 that it is an actual "supper" as in, an entire meal, and not just a small cracker and thimble full of juice! He then goes on to tell us that "the same night in which He was betrayed" Yeshua "took bread" and "gave thanks" and then broke it and shared it with His disciples, teaching them that the bread they were partaking in was a picture of His body, "broken for you." The very passage that many, if not most or even all Pastors, Teachers, Priests, and whoever else administers "communion" to the people read prior to partaking in it. But , taken apart  from the Passover seder, what is the foundation underneath to which the element (ie, the bread) is grounded upon? Just look at what Roman Catholicism has done with it!(7) Well, "Protestantism", while removing the doctrine that the bread and wine are the literal body and blood of Yeshua, still have an anemic and ungrounded practice. I don't mean to imply that "communion" is evil in any way. And I am not necessarily against it either. But, why is it that we desire to "remember" Yeshua,as He instructed us to, yet don't do it within the context that He told us to do so?

Perhaps I will end this post for now, as it is quite long already, and visit this issue in the future. I still have much to say on it, but I made several points already that I don't want to get lost in the midst of a marathon post with point upon point upon point.

Please, if you have any comments, questions, or just plain want to challenge what I have said, feel free to do so. My desire is to bring us into a deeper engagement with the scriptures...after all "they are they which testify of [Yeshua]"! - John 5:39.

(1) Article, Zimun By Rabbi Julian Sinclair, January 22, 2009, The Jewish Chronicle Online - http://thejc.com/judaism/jewish-words/zimun
(2) As all other Christian denominations and types have come to be known, though true, historic "Protestantism" is quite different than modern day Baptists, or non-denominational congregations. 
(3) And then by Paul and the disciples as "The Lord's Supper" - see 1 Cor. 11:20 for example.
(4) John's gospel, ch. 13 is questionable as to whether it was a *true* Passover seder, or something else, and has been the subject of study and debate. For our purposes, I will leave it out for now, though you can go back and read it as well for your own study it you would like.
(5) According to many scholars, it was most likely a Passover seder, similar to modern seders, as Luke records a first "cup", and then one "after supper." Seder's today ('seder' means "order", and refers to the order of the meal which includes four cups of wine or grape juice, each one representing four themes within the Passover narrative, which can be read about here, here, and here, and the reading of which is also a major component of the seder.
(6) As noted above, all other denominations have come to be known as "Protestant", even if historically, many denominations and groups would NOT have been considered Protestant.
(7) My apologies if you are Roman Catholic, and are offended by this statement. I don't mean to offend anyone intentionally. But honestly, the practice of the Mass has absolutely nothing to do with scripture, nor the body and blood of Yeshua, no matter how much the Catholic Church claims that it has. Just read your bible and see.