John Day 16: The Judas in Us

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Text:  Luke 22:1-6

Now the Feast of Unleavened Bread, called the Passover, was approaching, and the chief priests and the teachers of the law were looking for some way to get rid of Jesus, for they were afraid of the people.  Then Satan entered Judas, called Iscariot, one of the Twelve.  And Judas went to the chief priests and the officers of the temple guard and discussed with them how he might betray Jesus.  They were delighted and agreed to give him money.  He consented, and watched for an opportunity to hand Jesus over to them when no crowd was present.

Stop and Consider

  1. We want to believe the best in people.  But at times we need to be discerning enough to say, “Something’s wrong.”  What does the church need to do in situations like these? We need to prayerfully seek God’s guidance and have the courage to address the situation.  It’s much easier to say than do, though.  Especially if those acting contrary to how a follower of Christ should act are friends, family, or authority figures.
  2. How are you protecting your heart and feet from walking the betrayer’s path?  What can you do to help others keep their lives open and honest before the Lord? I need to spend more time meditating on God’s Word and guarding what goes into my head and comes out of my mouth.  I can hold my tongue and live by example.  I have learned over the course of the last year or so how deeply careless words spoken in irritation or out of plain meanness can wound others.

Praying God’s Word Today

Father, Your Word has warned us that men from among ourselves will rise up with deviant doctrines to lure Your disciples into following them (Acts 20:30).  But Lord, our desire is that we would no longer be little children, tossed by the waves and blown around by every wind of teaching, by human cunning with cleverness in the techniques of deceit.  Rather, speaking the truth in love, let us grow in every way into Christ, who is the head (Eph. 4:14-15).  Sanctify us by the truth; Your word is truth (John 17:17).

Help me to not replace my relationship with You by putting anything else in its place.  Other things in life can play a large part in following You – a very important part – but all too often people make them their gods instead of You, and live their lives totally devoted to that idol.  Help me to keep my priorities in the proper order, and to keep You in first place, followed by my family, then my church relationships, then everything else following that.

Psalms of Ascent – How the Feast of Unleavened Bread Relates to Jesus

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(Additions made since original posting.)

This post is inspired by the viewer guide segments for Session Two of the Psalms of Ascent study. 

The Feast of Unleavened Bread

I have blogged before here and here about the connection I finally made between Passover and the Feast of Unleavened Bread in relation to Jesus’ death and burial.  To recap:

  1. Passover took place the night before the Feast of Unleavened Bread began.  Passover was when Jesus and His disciples ate the Last Supper, followed that same night (Passover) by Jesus’ arrest and subsequent crucifixion.  He was our Passover lamb without blemish.
  2. The Feast of Unleavened Bread was instituted as a reminder to the Israelites that God had brought them out of bondage in Egypt.

So, in this video lesson, Beth talks about these things and how they relate to Jesus.  I have to admit, I did not know this was coming and almost fell out of my chair when I realized what the focus of this lesson would be.  I truly believe God enabled me to make the above connections in preparation for this lesson. 

Session Two revealed something else about the Feast of Unleavened Bread that I had not known before.  To be quite honest, I never knew ANYTHING about this feast before.

Beth explained that during the Feast of Unleavened Bread, the Israelites would go through their houses and get rid of all the yeast.  She explained that the Hebrew word for “leaven” is “chametz,” which means sour.  In the New Testament, leaven (or yeast) became synonymous with sin.  Leaven is used to create fermentation, which implies corruption.  So the Feast of Unleavened Bread symbolized a time when God called all of Israel to get rid of corruption in their homes, and therefore, their lives.

She also tells us that evidence suggests “leaven” in those times consisted of a piece of fermented dough kept over from a former baking, which was then mixed in with new dough, or hidden in it, and then mixed together with it.  It then spread throughout the entire mixture.  This is what happens when we hide stuff, be it sin or something else, in our lives.  It is a picture of holding onto sin or not letting go of something we need to turn completely over to God.  It can range from outright blatant sin, to more internal struggles like unforgiveness, bitterness, or a vengeful spirit.

The point is that the Israelites when through their houses cleaning out all the gunk.  This symbolism is fulfilled in Christ.  He is both the Passover and the Unleavened Bread. 

Matthew 26:17,26 says:

Now on the first day of the Feast of the Unleavened Bread the disciples came to Jesus, saying to Him, “Where do You want us to prepare for You to eat the Passover?”

And as they were eating, Jesus took bread (which would have been UNLEAVENED), blessed and broke it, and gave it to the disciples and said, “Take, eat; this is My body.”

Don’t miss the significance, like I had missed it all my life.  We see pictures of a big old loaf of french bread and a cup.  Not so.  Jesus’ body was symbolic of the UNLEAVENED bread – without corruption.  Without DECAY

In Acts 2:29-33, Peter says:

Men and brethren, let me speak freely to you of the patriarch of David, that he is both dead and buried, and his tomb is with us to this day.  Therefore, being a prophet, and knowing that God has sworn with an oath to him that of the fruit of his body, according to the flesh, He would raise up the Christ to sit on his throne, he, foreseeing this, spoke concerning the resurrection of the Christ, that His soul was not left in Hades, nor did His flesh see corruption.  This Jesus God has raised up, of which we are all witnesses.  Therefore being exalted to the right hand of God, and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, He poured out this which you now see and hear.

Do you see what this means?  I never did until Beth pointed it out.  When living things die, decomposition begins immediately.  Not so with Christ.  Christ’s body did not begin to decay after His death.  Christ’s body was completely incorruptible, and stayed completely ready for Him to return to it 3 days later. 

Whoa.

Which brings us to the Firstfruits.  Leviticus 23:4-11 tells us:

These are the feasts of the LORD, holy convocations which you shall proclaim at their appointed times.  On the fourteenth day of the first month at twilight is the LORD’s Passover.  And on the fifteenth day of the same month is the Feast of Unleavened Bread to the LORD; seven days you must eat unleavened bread.  On the first day you shall have a holy convocation; you shall do no customary work on it.  But you shall offer an offering made by fire to the LORD for seven days.  The seventh day shll be a holy convocation; you shall do no customary work on it. 

And the LORD spoke to Moses saying, “Speak to the children of Israwl, and say to them:  ‘When you come into the land which I give to you, and reap its harvest, then you shall bring a sheaf of the firstfruits of your harvest to the priest.  He shall wave the sheaf before the LORD, to be accepted on your behalf; on the day after the Sabbath the priest shall wave it. 

First Corinthians 15:20-22 makes the connection with Jesus crystal clear: 

But now Christ is risen from the dead, and has become the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep.  For since by man came death, by Man also came the resurrection of the dead.  For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ all shall be made alive.  

Beth reminded us that this Feast was a yearly occurrence.  All Jews made this pilgrimage every single year.  Jesus would have made this pilgrimage every year of His life.  In fact, the first time we see Jesus after His birth was when His parents took Him to Jerusalem for Passover when He was twelve.  Luke 2:41-42 says:

His parents went to Jerusalem every year at the Feast of the Passover.  And when He was twelve years old, they went up to Jerusalem according to the custom of the feast.

As a devout Jew, Jesus would have continued doing this EACH YEAR UNTIL HIS DEATH.  That means He made this pilgrimage at least two times with the disciples, all the while knowing what was coming.  Eating the passover meal every year in remembrance of when HE passed over the houses of His people.  Cleaning out the leaven every year in remembrance of when HE delivered His people from bondage.  Bringing the firstfruits every year in anticipation of when HE would initiate the His harvest by being the first to forever rise from the dead.  Beth said she could just picture Him counting down each time He observed Passover, until there was “one more year” before EVERYTHING would change.  And knowing the whole time that His disciples still did not get it.  But also knowing that soon, they would.

So, to recap again:

  1. Day One – Passover – observed as a Sabbath
  2. Day Two – Beginning of the Feast of Unleavened Bread – observed as a Sabbath
  3. Day Three – offering of firstfruits of the harvest to the LORD
  1. Day One – Passover – Jesus becomes our Passover lamb
  2. Day Two – Beginning of the Feast of Unleavened Bread – Jesus’ body lies without corruption and awaits His return
  3. Day Three – Offering of Firstfruits – Jesus’ resurrection

Double whoa. 

Why had I never seen it before?  I guess because I thought the Old Testament feasts weren’t important for New Testament Christians.  I am realizing more and more each day that God didn’t put anything in the Bible that doesn’t ALWAYS and FOREVER apply to each and every one of us. 

The next post will be about how the The Feast of Weeks relates to Jesus and the New Testament.  Again, this was a connection no one had ever pointed out to me before.  Be prepared to say whoa.

Seek And You Will Find – Part 1

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I have had a tendency lately to write EXTREMELY long posts. lol I am going to try to break this one up into several parts and see if that works better.

I have posted earlier about how I have been praying for insight and deeper understanding during this study. I hesitate to use words or phrases like “God showed me” this or “God told me to do” such and such. They are so overused in our Christian culture. I get the image of God sitting next to me on a couch and pointing out things with His finger. That’s so not how it works. At least not for me. lol That would be MUCH easier. In fact, I will be totally honest. I tend to roll my eyes when I hear people used those phrases – most people anyway. If Billy Graham said that God had shown him something or told him something, I would TOTALLY believe him. 🙂 The cranky co-worker who spends the majority of her time gossiping about others? Not so much.

At the same time, I don’t want to use phrases like “I” found or “I” discovered, because “I” didn’t. I really don’t know of any other words to use, though, so I will probably stick with talking about connections I have made.

Anyway, I believe that God can cause little thoughts to pop into our minds and make us remember snippets of passages we have heard in the past that we hadn’t thought of in years, or even thought of once since hearing it. This is what happens for me, anyway. I will be reading a passage or an explanation of a passage, and something will just pop into my head. Whether God actually sticks the thought in there in that precise moment or just enables the brain He blessed me with to wake up enough to remember something I once heard or read is irrelevant. The point is the connection gets made. And the key to making the connections is to actually pick up the Word and look for them.

So, last night was our weekly class time for Psalms of Ascent. We had just finished our first week of study. We had completed Psalm 120, 121, and the first of two lessons on 122 – the one that tells us to pray for the peace of Jerusalem. I posted about some connections found as a result of verses 5 and 6 in my previous entry. And, honestly, I thought I was done with that one and ready to finish the final lesson on it and move on. Apparently, there was much more to discover.

In the video that accompanied this week’s meeting, Beth spent the majority of time talking about how songs (or psalms) are the language our souls speak. She gave several illustrations of how God uses songs and singing as a way of expressing Himself and she notes that Jesus and the disciples sang psalms in Matthew 26:30. But we will get to that in another post. 😉

So I come home from our Wednesday night meeting and decide that I have just enough time to read a few chapters in my “read through the Bible in some such length of time” plan. I am in 2 Chronicles. Last night I was on Chapter 30. The title at the top of this chapter in my Bible (I was reading out of the NIV this time) – Hezekiah Celebrates the Passover.

Basically, the Israelites hadn’t celebrated the Passover in a long time, so Hezekiah sent word throughout all Judah and Israel for everyone to come to Jerusalem and observe the Passover.

What’s the big deal? I didn’t realize it either until I started reading. Verse 21 practically jumped off the page.

21 The Israelites who were present in Jerusalem celebrated the Feast of Unleavened Bread for seven days with great rejoicing, while the Levites and priests sang to the LORD every day, accompanied by the LORD’s instruments of praise.

I realized that Passover and the Feast of Unleaved Bread were connected.  We started our study in the Psalms of Ascent by learning about the background for these Psalms. They were sung by Jews as they made the pilgrimage from their homes to Jerusalem, mainly during the Three Great Feasts, the first of which was the Feast of Unleavened Bread. All the people who traveled to Jerusalem for this feast were probably singing the Psalms of Ascent on their journeys.  Passover occurs the night before the Feast of Unleavened Bread begins.  Passover, of course, marks the time when God “passed over” all the houses marked with the blood of a lamb without blemish (Exodus 12:5) when the Israelites were in Egypt.  The Feast of Unleavened Bread was instituted the following day after Pharoah let the Israelites go in response to the 10th plague – the death of the firstborn – as a remembrance for when the Lord brought Israel out of Egypt (Exodus 13).  More on that later, too.  (See Wikipedia for more info on these feasts.)

So, I stopped and went back and re-read the chapter from the beginning, more slowly this time. Two other sections of the passage struck me. The first is in verses 18-20.

18 Although most of the many people who came from Ephraim, Manasseh, Issachar and Zebulun had not purified themselves, yet they ate the Passover, contrary to what was written. But Hezekiah prayed for them, saying, “May the LORD, who is good, pardon everyone

19 who sets his heart on seeking God—the LORD, the God of his fathers—even if he is not clean according to the rules of the sanctuary.”

20 And the LORD heard Hezekiah and healed the people.

Passover was instituted in Exodus 12 prior to the plague of the death of the firstborn.  Passover regulations were given by God in verses 43 – 49.   If you have ever read the laws in Leviticus, you will realize how extraordinary this was.  If you didn’t keep the law, you could not be reconciled to God.  There were very strict rules as to who could and could not participate in the feasts and why.  This passage tell us many of the people were unclean, but had partaken anyway.  That was a HUGE no-no.   Hezekiah interceded on their behalf and prayed for God to forgive those who were seeking Him with their hearts.  And God healed the people.  He did what they could not do or had not done for themselves.   Sound familiar?  This is a pre-Christ instance of God reconciling the people to Himself outside the letter of the law.  God, by grace, reconciled the people despite their disobedience to the law.  It is a picture of what He would do for all of us through Christ.

Just a little more background on Psalm 122 before I get to what struck me next. In doing my homework lesson for Psalm 122 on Tuesday night, Beth also pointed out Ephesians 2:11-22 and asked us how it paralleled this Psalm, paying specific attention to mention of “aliens” or “foreigners.” Psalm 122:3-4 says:

3 Jerusalem, built as a city [should be],
solidly joined together,

4 where the tribes, the tribes of the LORD, go up
to give thanks to the name of the LORD.
(This is an ordinance for Israel.)

Ephesians 2:11-14 says:

Ephesians 2:11-22 (Holman Christian Standard Bible)

Unity in Christ
11 So then, remember that at one time you were Gentiles in the flesh—called “the uncircumcised” by those called “the circumcised,” done by hand in the flesh.
12 At that time you were without the Messiah, excluded from the citizenship of Israel, and foreigners to the covenants of the promise, with no hope and without God in the world.
13 But now in Christ Jesus, you who were far away have been brought near by the blood of the Messiah.
14 For He is our peace, who made both groups one and tore down the dividing wall of hostility.

So her point was that before Christ, the “peace of Jerusalem,” we were alienated from God. But through Christ, we have become part of the family and now have hope, via the grace of God. That was cool, but I was so caught up in my “discovery” that Jesus was the Peace of Jerusalem (duh!) that I couldn’t grasp this other connection (I’m getting there – I promise) at the same time. So God waited another day to slap me in the face with it. lol

Back to II Chronicles 30.  Verses 25-27 say:

2 Chronicles 30:25-27 (New International Version)

 25 The entire assembly of Judah rejoiced, along with the priests and Levites and all who had assembled from Israel, including the aliens who had come from Israel and those who lived in Judah.
26 There was great joy in Jerusalem, for since the days of Solomon son of David king of Israel there had been nothing like this in Jerusalem.
27 The priests and the Levites stood to bless the people, and God heard them, for their prayer reached heaven, his holy dwelling place.
“Aliens,” or Gentiles, were present at this feast, and were also reconciled to God.  It is just another picture of how we are brought into the family of God through His grace. 

It amazes me how, when you look – and, again, I mean *really* look – the entire Bible always and unfailingly points to Jesus. 

This post has already gone much longer than I originally meant for it to.  lol  Third and fourth things I learned will be posted soon.  That’s when it REALLY gets good.  lol