Words and Wisdom
by Des Walter
To many Christians today the Old Testament is a closed book, and is viewed as simply a recording of history, which appears to relate to peoples other than ourselves. This, I fear, has led to a shallowness of understanding in many, regarding the ways of God and His plan for the ages. Along this line of thought, we are told it is the New Testament, which is important to us today. It must be asserted that the New Testament does contain later revelation, than that contained in the Old Testament. However, it is equally important to understand that the New Testament is contained in the Old Testament, even though to many it is concealed. The very foundation of the most important doctrines of the New Testament, are in fact all clearly laid out in the Old Testament. This is a provable argument that our understanding of the New Covenant will depend very largely on our understanding of the Old Testament.
One illustration will be sufficient for the moment, to prove my point. The extent to which Christians understand the cross of Christ, is that He died for our sins according to the scriptures, and they will quote scriptures, such as John 3:16 or Romans 5:8; to support their claim. However, this is a very simplistic view of redemption, and does not even touch on the issue of our release from the power of sin, which continues to operate in the lives of God's people. Therefore, when we look at scriptures such as 2 Cor.5:21, how many understand how Christ could possibly be "made sin for us," thus not only releasing us from the "penalty" of sin, but also from its power? Or how many can explain how we become righteous in the sight of God? To understand these and many other questions, which are most important for us to know, we must look back to the Passover Lamb, as it is explained for us in the early scriptures. Without these the cross cannot be intelligently understood, nor can its benefits, which go far beyond the simple fact that Christ died for our sins.
To the Pharisees, Jesus said concerning the Old Testament scriptures, "These testify of me." All the events of his earthly life were providentially determined, "that the scriptures might be fulfilled." Paul records for us, in 1 Cor 10:1-6, that it is important for us to understand the experiences of Israel in their journey from Egypt to Canaan. Then he emphasizes the fact by saying in verse 6, "Now all these things were types of us, so that we should not lust after evil things, as did Israel."
My purpose in this series, on the three main feasts of Israel, is to encourage those who have never spent the time to look into the Old Testament scriptures, to allow the spirit to open your understanding. I am not writing for the intellectual Christian, but for those who genuinely hunger after God and His righteousness. I trust you will be blessed, as the word comes alive in your heart, and finds its expression in your life.
The Basic Outline
"Three times a year shall all thy males appear before the Lord thy God, in the place which He shall choose; in the Feast of Unleavened Bread, and in the Feast Of Weeks, and in the Feast Of Tabernacles; and they shall not appear before the Lord empty." Deut 16:16.
Many of the Old Testament scriptures, such as the above, have been given little recognition in the spiritual understanding of today. Perhaps the reason for this is a failure to understand the place these feasts have in the revelation of God. In these Old Testament scriptures, we have the subject, which is Christ, placed under a microscope, which enables us to see every intricate detail, both of his person and his work, which would be otherwise impossible for us to know. The command concerning the feasts, and the feasts themselves, as given to Israel, become "word pictures," which illuminate many aspects of truth, both in satisfying God's requirements from man, and also making available to man all he needs from God. Thus every detail of manís walk, from "slavery" to Pharaoh in Egypt, to "rest" in the Promised Land, is covered in minute detail in these feasts of Israel.
First of all, let us look then, at an outline of these three main feasts:
1. The Feast of Passover, or Unleavened Bread
2. The Feast of Pentecost, or the Feast of Weeks
3. The Feast of Tabernacles
Actually, these three feasts comprise seven in all, but we are only going to consider at this point in time, the Feast of Passover. The other feasts we will deal with later.
Let us begin by saying that the Bible is not a history book. To simply record events that happened thousands of years ago would be of little benefit to us. However if those events have a direct application to our lives today then we need to study them very carefully. Passover was Godís answer to Israelís situation as slaves to Pharaoh, and the process by which they were set free. The salvation offered by Christendom provides for the forgiveness of sins, but has no ability to release us from the power of sin, so our lives continue to be devastated by the evil in this world. It is important to notice that when Jesus came into the world he did not preach the gospel of salvation as is preached today, but presented the gospel of the kingdom. He declared the Kingdom of God was within us, just waiting to be activated.
Jesus said, "Seek ye first the Kingdom of God and all these things will be added unto you." His word to mankind was, "take no thought what you shall wear, or eat or drink," as these are designated as being Fatherís responsibility. He said these are the great concern of the Gentiles, who do not realize that their heavenly Father knows what they have need of in this regard. We are to focus on "seeking first the Kingdom of God and his righteousness," and see God take care of everything else. The question must be asked, "What is the Kingdom of God?" I will give you just a brief answer, as this is not the theme for this study. The Kingdom of God is our Promised Land, in which God is sovereign, ruling by love, and where sin and evil cannot intrude. It is the realm of our inheritance in God and the infinite resources that Father has made available to his sons.
The gospel of the kingdom is the gospel of release as Jesus quoted in the synagogue from Isaiah 61. It is also found in Luke 4:18-19. "The spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to preach the Gospel to the poor. He has sent me to heal the broken hearted, and to preach deliverance to the captives, and the recovering of sight to the blind, and to set at liberty those that are bruised, and to preach that this is now the time of our acceptance before God." In the light of this testimony concerning his ministry, we realize that the gospel that he preached was to set people free from every binding influence in their lives. Passover now becomes a clear picture of this gospel that Jesus delivered to the people.
The details of Passover are to be found in Exodus 12. The chapter begins with an amazing declaration, that this "month" is to be the "beginning of months," for Israel. The word "beginning" is derived from a word that means "the joyful tidings of Godís kindness," in particular of the Messianic blessings. In the New Testament is used especially of the glad tidings of the coming Kingdom of God, and of the salvation to be obtained through Christ, and of what relates to this salvation. How remarkable it is that this Passover should be the beginning or the gospel in type form for Israel. It signals the start of a new life of adventure and discovery that would bring freedom and release to the people of God.
Every man in Israel was told to take a lamb according to the house of their fathers. If one house could not consume the lamb they were to join with their neighbor according to how much each one could consume. Let me emphasize here that this "lamb" was not a sin offering, as many theologians would assert. The reason why this could not be a sin offering is because the people were never allowed to eat that which was sacrificed to God. In Passover sin is not in question, but rather the issue is freedom and release from slavery. That was the whole point of this exercise, as we shall see quite plainly. The "lamb" is a type of Jesus Christ, who said, "Except you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you." John 6:53
So Israel was told to take the lamb on the fourteenth day and the whole assembly of the congregation of Israel shall kill it in the evening, or at the time of the evening sacrifice. Notice everyone was to participate in the killing of the lamb, just as Jesus Christ tasted death on the cross for every man, because we are all involved in his death. The killing of the lamb was not as a sin offering but a feast of liberation. The people were directed to have their loins girded and sandals on their feet, and their staff in their hand, because Passover was to celebrate their release from bondage, and the beginning of a journey of discovery. They had to eat the Passover in haste in order to participate in the great deliverance that was to follow that night.
The details of the eating of the lamb were made clear. It was not to be eaten raw, nor sodden with water, but it had to be roast with fire, and only then was it to be eaten. The raw lamb was Jesus Christ before the cross, because his death was his baptism of fire that consumed the "flesh and blood" body, thus releasing the spirit, which is Christ. Every detail of this feast is full of meaning for us, if we have eyes to see and ears to hear. The eating of the Lamb is manís exodus from slavery to sin and death, to walk in a new life, as a new creation man in Christ. Under the traditional gospel that is generally preached, man remains living in "Egypt" and is subject to sin and death, with little or no change in reality.
What does it mean to eat the Lamb? In John 6, Jesus speaks of "eating his flesh, and drinking of his blood," indicating that eternal life depended upon it. Jesus was not referring to the communion service, where we are dealing with types and shadows, but not the reality. To eat his "flesh" means to partake of the substance of what he is. Christ is not flesh and blood as Jesus was, because he is spirit, being created in the beginning in the likeness and image of God. So he is saying to us, "I want you to partake of the substance of what I Am and enter into the same reality of spirit that I Am."
The truth is that the reality of our being is not to be found in flesh and blood, seeing that we were created in Christ Jesus in the beginning see Eph 2:10. This is the very essence of Passover, for our release from sin and death can only be achieved as we find our reality in the realm of spirit in which we were created. This involved a transfer of consciousness from flesh and blood mortality to spirit and immortality. It is very difficult to define "consciousness" because it is invisible, but for each of us it becomes the law of life out of which we live our lives. Whatever we establish in our consciousness will determine the way in which we will live our lives. It is something more profound than simply "believing." Consciousness declares things that are absolute to us.
Concerning our "first birth," we have programmed our consciousness to believe that what we see in the mirror is all that we are. Consciousness is an integral part of our spiritual being, so that as "living souls" it has established in us the law of sin and death and declares our mortality. Now we must re-program it to believe that the reality of what I am is invisible, because now we know that we are spirit. This is not an academic exercise, but requires the work of the Holy Spirit to bring revelation of the truth that can affect our consciousness instilling the truth into it.
The eating of the Lamb is a spiritual exercise that involves our consciousness, as the spirit illuminates our understanding to see the "I" that I am, is God, and that "I" and my Father are one. Just as in the analogy of eating, what I eat becomes what I am. So in the mystery of godliness, Christ is in me, and I am in Christ, and he is in the Father, and my consciousness declares "I" am one with the Almighty. Man is Immanuel, a blending of God and man into one magnificent being, capable of expressing the glory of God today in this world, even as we did in creation.
We can only know God through consciousness, or if you like a spiritual awareness. We are not conscious of things that are not physical or material, like love, joy and peace. When I commune with God I do not look for a building with a cross above it, but I go into my closet as Jesus told us, and I shut the door. Within my very own being there is the "Most Holy Place," where I fill countless hours with sweet fellowship, and my whole being begins to vibrate as the light of his presence fills every part. The glory of his presence begins to bring the truth of my origin and identity into sharp focus, for as I look around all I can see is Christ. My consciousness absorbs the glory and majesty of what I am as seen from the divine perspective, and establishes it as the new law of my life.
Jesus made the picture clear by saying, "He that eateth my flesh and drinks my blood, dwells in me and I dwell in him." By him "dwelling in me" he partook of flesh and blood just as I am today. But as "I dwell IN him," I have become what he is, "Christ, the son of the living God." All this is incorporated in the eating of the Passover Lamb, bringing to us the transformation that will allow us to simply walk out of Egypt, destroying the power of Pharaoh over us forever. Notice that God did not change Egypt in order to release us, but the change is wrought in us, breaking the power of the deception that has enslaved us through the carnal mind. There is really nothing that can enslave us that is outside of what we are, unless we agree to it.
It is most instructive for us to consider Pharaoh in this passage, and see that which he represents in our lives today. No doubt most would declare him to be a type of satan, who is considered to be the god of this world. But if this is so, then why did Israel fail so badly, throughout their wilderness journey, after they had left Egypt? If we are honest, we have to admit our tendency towards sin and failure, like Israel, is not external to us, but inherent in us. Remember Pharaoh king of Egypt had enslaved God's people who had come into Egypt as honored guests of the country because of Joseph. God prospered them and they multiplied in number, but over a period of time as Joseph passed on and the new Pharaoh had no knowledge of him, they were turned into slaves. There was no war where Egypt subdued Israel, so how did they become slaves?
Joseph was the savior of Israel, sustaining them through the time of famine and then giving them a fertile land in which to dwell. However that was not the land God had given to Abraham and to his seed. But because they now had plenty and were settled in Egypt, they lost all desire to return to the country God had given to their fathers. They became familiar with the idolatry in Egypt, and became integrated into many of the customs of the land. Yet these people were designated by the Lord as "my son." But the time came when they considered themselves as aliens in a foreign land somehow indebted to the Egyptians. It was not difficult from that point for them to believe they were deeply indebted to Pharaoh, who began to treat them as willing slaves.
Today, this situation may seem to be totally foreign to us, having no relevance to our lives. However let me tell you Pharaoh does not refer to any "devil" or "satan" that is external to us, having power to control our lives. Christendom has introduced the concept of a literal devil being a fallen angel, and giving this one equal power with God, and opposing everything God does. This "devil" is said to be responsible for all the evil and mayhem in the world, and after two thousand years of praying by the church, God has never been able to destroy this power, or to restrict the activity of evil in our lives. Such ideas make a mockery of God who is the God of all creation. If such a creature existed, as presented by the religious world, then we do not have a true God. For if God be God, then there is nothing that can resist him, much less be able to oppose him in any way.
I know that many people reading these notes will be reaching for their Bibles to quote the many verses that seem to support their belief in such a creature. But believe me, Pharaoh could never have turned Israel into a nation of slaves, if the mind of the people had not convinced them that it was actually true. The truth is, that Pharaoh represents the carnal mind, just as the snake did in the Garden of Eden. The origin of evil is revealed by Jesus himself when he said, "Out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornication, thefts, false witness and blasphemies, and these are the things that defile a man, (and not some external devil,)" Matt 15:18-20. There is no evil in any fictitious "devil" outside of us that is not already resident and capable of expression in the natural heart of man.
The term satan means "the accuser of the brethren." Can you identify anything or anyone outside of you that is accusing you before God day and night?? I do not think so! But your carnal or natural mind never misses an opportunity to convict you of your faults and shortcomings. This is the natural mindís function as conscience, which many Christians think is given to guide us through life. Beloved your conscience has no ability to make you live righteously, but will continually put you down until you believe it is impossible for you to please God. That is "satan" unmasked.
Therefore Jesus Christ, who appeared on the earth 2000 years ago as the Lamb of God said, "For judgment am I come into this world, that they which see not, might see, and they which see, might be made blind." John 9:39. Thus it becomes clear to us that "the world" or "cosmos," the organized arrangement under which man lives on this earth, had to discover the superior authority of the God of the whole earth. Thus the world was judged and so was the "prince of this world," John 16:11.
The word "judge" comes from a Greek word, krino, which means to distinguish, and so by extension, to decide what is the real substance of something, be it an abstract issue, or some real object. In the light of this understanding of the word "judgment," the scripture in John 9:39-41 is most enlightening. For the judgment of this world, is to allow those who are blind to see, and those who say they see to confirm their blindness. In the light of this statement let us consider the fact that Israel succumbed to the authority of Egypt without being aware of it until it was too late, and they were already enslaved. This same system, with all its destructive effect, is operating both within and without us today. The judgment of God is not so he may determine whether a thing is right or wrong, for He already knows. However it is for the purpose of revealing to us that which is of God, and that which is of this cosmos.
How instructive these things are to us. Contrary to the common notion, that in judgment God simply acts as a judge declaring this one guilty and another not guilty. We discover that the judgment of God actually reveals to us what type of substance a thing is. Where once we were blind to a certain issue, as to its origin or basis, after God has judged that thing, it is exposed for what it really is. Therefore in the judgment of Egypt, we see an exposure of the very heart of "this world" as it relates to our being, as much as it involves the world external to us.
Beloved, the slaying of the Lamb of God, our Passover, has illuminated and declared this world to be an enemy of God, and in rebellion to the law of God. Hence the Apostle John tells us, "Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world, for if any man love the world, the love of the Father, is not in him," 1 John 2:15. Do not be misled by the religious notions, that "the world" is simply the dance floor, or the gambling den, or the tavern, for it is far more subtle than just a list of undesirable places. It includes attitudes, concepts and philosophies absorbed by the masses in the world today.
Beloved if God has not judged the world, in you, then you have yet to enter into the reality of "Christ our Passover," who was slain for us. But there is much more to be discovered in this illuminating feast of the Lord. God directed His attention towards Pharaoh as the "head" of all Egypt. He was the despot who ruled with absolute authority and whose word was law. Let us see if we can discover the reality, from which this shadow has been cast. For every shadow needs some object in the pathway of light, in order to exist.
The judgment of God in Passover was directed towards the first-born of Egypt, and this is most instructive. Now we need to consider the "first-born" as far as our lives are concerned. In natural terms, our first-born would constitute the beginning of a new generation, from whom would come all subsequent generations. Therefore, it becomes clear that if we go back to the first-born of the human race, from whom all the possibilities of love and hate, success and failure flow, we see Adam, who walked and talked with God in the Garden of Eden. This is the one through whom sin and death entered into the world, and who defied the very one who created him. This is the source of all that is "anti-God" within the human heart today, for we have all been polluted by the life stream, which has flowed from him. None have escaped the inherited contamination that is an integral part of the human race, so that Paul could declare, "All have sinned and come short of the glory of God."
The message in Passover is that the "first-born" must die. That is, the life which we received from Adam, must end in death. For the first-born of Israel living in Egypt, that death was consummated in the Lamb, just as it is for us today. As it is written, concerning Christ, "If one died for all, then are all dead," 2 Cor. 5:14. Also, we discover that we are inseparably linked to this cosmos, through the first Adam, or our natural birth. Therefore it is God's purpose for us to be released from the authority of our "first" birth and its enslaving power, in order to come under the authority of the "last Adam," who is Christ, 1 Cor.15:45-48. For us today, as we appropriate Passover, we find release from Egypt, the world, and the enslaving rule of Pharaoh; and the first Adam who represents the head of that cosmos, and whose will is contrary to the will of God.
Passover, or the offering of the "body of Jesus Christ" on Calvary's cross, is the judgment of this world, just as it was God's judgment on Egypt. For those that called for the death of Jesus Christ exposed the opposition of the natural mind to the will and purpose of God. The thoughts and intent of the cosmos, and its power to rule in the affairs of men was revealed in the death of Christ. For it was not the Muslims, Hindu people, or the Egyptians, who crucified Christ, but God's own people the Jews. It was "his friends," who shouted, "We will not have this man to rule over us.... His blood be upon us and our children."
How could this "Pharaoh" persuade the Jews to crucify their real king? The answer is, by the power of the "cosmos" acting through the "first Adam," that dwelt within them, even though they "kept" the Passover each year with every detail. But, "the word did not profit them not being mixed with faith," hence for them, it became just a religious act. Could it be that many today who claim to have entered into Passover, and say they have been delivered from the power of the cosmos, are just as much under the power of "Pharaoh," as were the Jews in Jesus day? It is a very solemn thought to consider that the churches today would crucify again the Christ, if that were possible, given the same circumstances. Because Christ would pose the same threat to them today, as He did to the Jews of His day.
Has the reality of Passover, delivered you from the power of the cosmos, setting you free to serve the Lamb, with a pure heart? Unless it has, the feast of Passover has not yet accomplished its purpose in you. Remember, this feast does not bring you into the promised land of Canaan, but simply delivers you from Egypt, thus setting you free to pursue eternal life. But logic suggests you can never enjoy Canaan, until you are set free from your bondage in the land of Egypt!
We need to remember that the first-born "Adam" in us must die, either in the Lamb, or in the judgment of God against Egypt. In Passover, the judgment of God searches our lives revealing to us the difference between the word of the Lord, and the word of the world system. This results in a recognition of what the world or the cosmos really is, totally rebellious and yet very religious and contrary to the word and will of God. Many of God's people have been deceived into thinking they have escaped from Egypt and have already entered into the "Promised Land," even though the mud and the straw of Pharaoh's bricks are still on their hands.
The Slaying of the Lamb
On the tenth day of the month, each family was to take a lamb from the flock and keep it under scrutiny until the fourteenth day, when it was to be killed. These details set so long ago in the history of Israel fit perfectly the circumstances in the earthly life of the "Lamb of God," some hundreds of years later. Jesus entered Jerusalem on the tenth day of the Passover month, and for four days was under the direct gaze of the Pharisees, who were seeking to find fault with Him. Because under Passover law, the lamb must be without blemish, hence the four days were necessary in order to make sure this was so. With reference to God's Lamb, the religious leaders could not find any wrong doing, so they sought to find "false witnesses," but even then they failed, Matt 26:59-60. Finally, the highest court in the land declared, "I find no fault in Him." He was God's spotless Lamb.
The lamb was to be slain by Israel between 3 p.m. and 5 p.m. on that fourteenth day, just before the close of the Jewish day. How accurate are the details recorded for us by Moses regarding Passover, fitting perfectly the details of the slaying of God's Lamb, at Calvary, Matt 27:45. "Now there was darkness over all the land, from the sixth to the ninth hour." This is from 12 noon to 3 p.m. as the Lamb of God suffered on the cross. Then He cried with a loud voice and yielded up His spirit, fulfilling the requirements of the Passover Lamb.
Israel was commanded to take the blood of the lamb and apply it to the doorposts and the lintels, then they were to remain inside the house until the morning, Ex 12:22. The scripture declares, "Almost all things are by the law purged with blood and without the shedding of blood, there is no remission," Heb. 9:22. The Greek word used here for "remission" means freedom, and involves a "sending forth." In this case the innocent Lamb became identified with the first-born, and thus with the future generations of Israel. You will notice there is no mention here of sin, or forgiveness, as popular theology seems to suggest. In no way can we use Passover as an example of "being saved" from sin.
Passover is the release of Israel from the land of Egypt, where they were slaves, and from the power of Pharaoh. You will notice in Ex 12:26-27, that Israel was instructed to tell the children of later generations, "It is the sacrifice of the Lord's Passover, who passed over the houses of the children of Israel in Egypt, when He smote the Egyptians, yet our households He rescued." This aspect of truth does not deal with salvation from sin, but release from the world with all its enslaving power. The question of sin is set forth in other offerings, which are not part of this particular study.
Another important issue with regard to Passover, was that the Lamb was to be roast with fire, and then eaten. In order for us to experience redemption from Egypt, we must have more than just a "knowledge" of Christ. It is not sufficient to know Jesus was born of a virgin, in Bethlehem's manger, and "went about doing good." We must know him, in every wonderful detail. To eat something, is to assimilate it into our body allowing it to become a part of us, thus the analogy is used here. We must appropriate Christ the Lamb totally in all His splendor. Notice the reference to eating the head, which speaks of His thoughts, and His legs, which speak of His walk, and the inward parts, which speak of the feelings and affections. All was to be appropriated, and nothing was to be left out.
These thoughts are clearly expressed in the words of Jesus, "Verily, verily, I say unto you, except ye eat the flesh of the Son of Man, and drink His blood, ye have no life in you. Whoso eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, hath eternal life; and I will raise him up, at the last day. For my flesh is meat indeed, and my blood is drink indeed," John 6:53-55. Christ is the reality of which the Passover lamb was simply a type. It was at Passover that Jesus introduced the disciples to the transition from eating the Passover lamb, to eating his body. "And He took bread, and gave thanks, and break it, and gave unto them, saying, This is my body, which is given for you, do this in remembrance of Me. Likewise, the cup after supper, saying; This cup is the new testament in my blood, which is shed for you."
How sad it is that God's people have exchanged the form for the reality, in the keeping of the Lord's supper. There is no magic in either the bread or the wine, but the reality is in the appropriation of His body and His blood. This is the whole import of Israel eating the Lamb on the night of Passover in Egypt. There is another thought to consider here, in relation to the eating of the Lamb. The scripture says they were to eat the lamb, "with your loins girded, your shoes on your feet, and your staff in your hand. And ye shall eat it in haste, it is the Lord's Passover." Remember Passover is the beginning of a journey, which takes us out of Egypt, and does not cease until we find our rest in the Promised Land of Canaan.
Let me say that no one can truly eat this feast without preparation to move immediately out of bondage. It must be eaten in an atmosphere of faith, which must believe that there is liberating power in the blood of the Lamb. Not some vague hope that perhaps they may be able to escape, but knowing with certainty the power of the blood of Christ. Therefore we are already dressed for a journey that will take us out of Egypt and into Canaan. It seems to me, that so many today eat the Lord's supper in a "dressing gown (bathrobe) and slippers," having settled down to endure their lot, until Jesus comes, having never known the reality of Christ's power to deliver them through His own precious blood. Under those circumstances, Israel would still be making bricks for Pharaoh today.
Israel was also instructed to eat the Lamb, "roast with fire." It was not to be eaten boiled in water, or only half cooked. Every detail of this feast is most significant for us. If Christ is the Lamb of God, then it is only after having endured the "fire" of God on the cross, that His body could become meat indeed, which can strengthen and sustain us on our journey. "Uncooked," He was just Jesus of Nazareth, and as such, He has no power to deliver us from Egypt, or to sustain us during our wilderness journey, 2 Cor. 5:16. The Christians who have held on to Jesus of Nazareth, need to learn from Passover, to let Him go, for as such, He cannot bring deliverance, or lead us on to victory, John 16:7. That role needs the Christ, who is the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world, and who has been "roast with fire" in the furnace of God, through the trials and testings, and finally through the cross of Calvary. Here is what the scriptures say of Him, "Though He were a Son, yet learned He obedience by the things He suffered; and being made perfect, He became the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey Him."
Why were the people to remain in their houses until the next morning? In this, the Lord is reminding us it is only through the "death of the firstborn" that we can find release from the enslaving power of the world, or the cosmos. If we go out of the house, i.e. the spiritual house not made with hands within us, and revert to the flesh and blood house of our mortality we cannot be delivered, 2 Cor. 5:1. This is our eternal home where nothing that defiles can enter and the avenging angel of death has no power.
Beloved I cannot stress the importance of "being delivered" from Pharaoh and Egypt enough, for herein lies the basis of most of the failure in the lives of Christians today. All of God's people claim to be forgiven of their sins in the death of Christ on the cross, but the tragedy is, that sin continues almost unabated in their lives. The mighty power of God was hardly necessary for God to forgive us, but was essential if we were to be delivered from sin itself. What value would Passover have been to Israel, if they were forgiven, but the next morning they found themselves still slaves to Pharaoh, making bricks as they had for years? Can we not grasp the full import of Passover as a deliverance out of Egypt, and from the power of Pharaoh over their lives?
That night of Passover, Pharaoh roused all his servants and all his people and called for Moses and Aaron, and said to them, "Go forth from the midst of my people.... take your flocks, even your herds, and go, for the Egyptians said, all of us are dying," Ex 12:29-33. It was a complete deliverance, for nothing was to be left behind.
However the Lord had not yet finished with Egypt, so He caused Pharaoh to have a change of heart, and he took his chariots and followed after the children of Israel. When the people of Israel saw the Egyptian army coming, they were ready to surrender, knowing the terror of Pharaoh. But the word of the Lord to His people was, "The Egyptians you have seen today, you will see them again no more forever." What a defeat they suffered, as their wagon wheels fell off, and the waters returned to destroy them. No wonder Israel sang and rejoiced before the Lord on the other side, singing the "song of Moses."
What a sight that must have been to behold as Israel worshipped the Lord, whose power had delivered them from the greatest military might of their time, and so complete was their victory, they never saw Pharaoh again. This scene has been indelibly etched into the fabric of time, that the Apostle John was allowed to look forward to another time, when the victorious saints of God would again sing the same song, to mark a similar victory in their own lives, Rev 15:1-4. But between those two events, the ages have rung with the same song, from the hearts of the redeemed, as God's people enter into the joyous reality of Passover in their lives. Beloved, let us turn from the Laodecian attitudes of the present apathetic church, which says, "We are rich, and have need of nothing," to keep the Passover in all its reality, until we are released, not just from the penalty of sin, but from sin itself.
"Seven days shall ye eat unleavened bread; even the first day shall ye put away leaven out of your houses," Ex 12:15. Passover was on the fourteenth day of the first month, then the Feast of Unleavened Bread continued from the fifteenth day until the twenty-first day, a total of seven days.
Paul speaks to the saints at Corinth concerning leaven and his words are most instructive. "Know ye not, that a little leaven leaveneth the whole lump? Purge out therefore the old leaven, that ye may be new lump, as ye are unleavened. For Christ our Passover is sacrificed for us; 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." 1 Cor 5:6-8. Again the Apostle Paul speaks of the influence of the Judaisers upon the saints at Galatia as leaven, Gal. 5:8-9. Jesus also uses the same terminology when referring to the doctrines of the Pharisees and Sadducees as leaven, Matt 16:6.
Therefore leaven indicates anything that has the ability to permeate and thus alter the reality that is inherent in truth. When Paul speaks about the "old" leaven he is referring to the old covenant, which is truth for the generations to whom it was given. However in the light of the "new" covenant, now manifest in Christ, the "old" would act as leaven, and so influence and alter our response to this new revelation, which finds its fulfillment in Jesus Christ, and not in the law. Christians of today are subject to the subtle influences of the world's thinking, and the bias of influential preachers, so that often, the truth they believe is a "mixture" of what God has said, together with the words of men saying what they think God is saying.
Beloved, there has never been a day when Paul's exhortation to "purge out the leaven," in order that we might be a "new lump" is more relevant than today. The multiplicity of "churches," all with their own particular concepts, and emphasis, has so confused Christians that many cry out, "What is truth?" It is time for the saints of God to cast aside the "leaven" of the Pharisees, and of the denominational churches, and the pentecostal and charismatic churches, and search the scriptures, that we might build our life on, "thus saith the Lord." The Pharisees are still alive and well today, in the form of those who "have a form of Godliness, but deny the power thereof." We have all been affected by "leaven" over the years, but as we search for reality in our lives there is some purging to be done.
Israel was to put all leaven out of their houses, during this time of deliverance, nothing must be added to the "Simplicity that is in Christ," our Passover Lamb, and His shed blood. For seven days there was to be no leaven at all, and remember, the number seven, is the number of completeness. After seven days without leaven, as we experience deliverance from sin, i.e. from Egypt and also Pharaoh, we will find no place for it at all. Jesus said, "if ever you should be remaining in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free." Leaven will render the truth powerless, robbing it of its God-given authority, thus keeping us in bondage to Pharaoh. May the Lord give us discernment by the Holy Spirit, to keep the Passover with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.
The Sheaf of First-Fruits
"And when ye be come into the land, which I give unto you, and shall reap the harvest thereof, ye shall bring a sheaf of the first-fruits of your harvest unto the priest; and he shall wave the sheaf before the Lord, to be accepted for you, on the morrow after the sabbath the Priest shall wave it," Lev 23:10-14.
All the way through Passover we are shown our identification and oneness with the Lamb. As the "first-born" in Adam we died in the Lamb, thus His death is my death, and I died in him. The eating of the Lamb reinforces the same thought as we appropriate Christ, so that I am in him, and He is in me. This was also the prayer of our High Priest in John 17, "That they all may be one, even as we are one." Unfortunately, this "oneness" is just theoretical for many, and so the reality of it has not produced the results God intended. If we died in Him, then we also were buried with Him, and consequently we are risen in Him. Therefore the life we live in him, must be resurrection life. In the "Sheaf of First-fruits," we have a beautiful picture of the resurrection of Christ from the dead, "On the morrow after the sabbath."
When Jesus was told there were certain Greeks who wished to see Him, He gave a very unusual answer. Jesus said, "The hour is come, that the Son of Man should be glorified. Verily verily, I say unto you, except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone; but if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit."
What Jesus was clearly saying, was that now they were seeking him as being totally unique in the universe, but that through his death, there would come a tremendous harvest, all produced from the same seed, which is himself. Even Israel could not see beyond their own problems of bondage and slavery. But in Passover, the Lord would teach Israel that there would yet be a "seed" as innumerable as the stars of heaven, all of which would be free from the power of Pharaoh and Egypt, through the blood of the Lamb.
Here in this great feast of Passover, there is only a "sheaf" with no harvest in sight, but this sheaf is in fact a token of a harvest yet to come. Everything in these feasts speaks of Christ, from the lamb to the sheaf. When God spoke to Abraham concerning his "seed," he was not speaking of many seeds, but Paul shows us, He was indicating only one seed, which is Christ, Gal 3:16. So Christ was the seed, which fell into the ground and died, in order that there might be a harvest as countless as the stars of heaven. Therefore we can see clearly that Christ was the first-fruits, being both a sample and a guarantee of the great harvest that was to follow. The death of Jesus Christ on the cross seemed to spell the end of all He set out to do, in His earthly life. But little did everyone know that when they buried Him they buried a seed, from which a great harvest of "the same kind" would spring to life.
The Apostle Paul tells us clearly of this divine plan and order, when he says, "For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive. But every man in his own order; Christ the first fruits, afterwards they that are Christís at His coming," 1 Cor 15:22-23. From these scriptures we understand that Christ, after His death burial and resurrection, WAS the first fruits of a planned harvest, which God will ultimately gather to Himself. The truth of the sheaf of first fruits, as given to Israel, is full of meaning for us today. Firstly, that sheaf became to them a token of the great harvest that was to follow. This would stretch far beyond their generation, fulfilling God's promise to their father Abraham that his seed would be as the stars of heaven. Secondly, whatever that sheaf was, it indicated, yea guaranteed, of what sort the rest of the harvest would be, just as Paul says, "If the first-fruits be holy, the Ďlumpí also is holy, and if the root be holy, so are the branches," Rom 11:16.
It will be obvious to any student of the scriptures, that we have not dealt exhaustively with this subject, but trust enough has been shared to cause us to better understand the instruction of scripture to "go on unto perfection." My desire is to reach those Christians who have come to Christ and rejoice in the cross and the slain lamb, yet seem to have never left the bondage and slavery of Egypt, believing the forgiveness of sin is really all that we have in Christ. To me, the Old Testament is like a picture book, with the New Testament the text. I confess I had trouble seeing spiritual truths clearly just from the New Testament. But when I began to see how God had preserved these tremendous truths for us in the life of Israel, my understanding cleared, and these experiences in the life of God's people began to illuminate my path.
How many consider Passover to be all that God has provided for us? But as we look carefully at these feasts, we see the path we must travel, and the means by which we are able to achieve that progress in our lives today. Let me ask you to be honest before the Lord, and discover exactly where you are today, in relation to that journey, which Israel began as slaves in Egypt. Have you really been set free from this "world system"? Or do you believe the economic situation in the world, decides your future? Do you believe your business can only succeed if the government acts in your favor? Do you fear the future because of all the talk about a one-world government, or are you fearful because some speak of a cash-less society, and you are concerned about how you will survive? Do your circumstances dictate the course of your life?
Just for a moment let us cast our minds back to Israel and that Passover night in Egypt. The government of the land was intent on destroying them by keeping them in slavery. Pharaoh had declared he would refuse to let them go. The future for them seemed hopeless. Even if they could sneak away at night, they were surrounded by desert, and there was no way they could survive out there. No, anyone with any sense at all, would just accept their lot and settle for slavery, for at least as slaves they had a place to live, and food to eat.
But God said, "Let every family take a lamb, and kill it, and sprinkle the blood, on the side-posts and lintel of the door. For this night I will pass through the land of Egypt, and will smite the first-born of both man and beast, and against all the gods of Egypt will I execute judgment." This was to be their last night in Egypt. Before the night was past, they had gathered their possessions and with shoes on their feet they were leaving the land. Their situation no longer determined their future, for God had stepped in and was in total control. Externally, nothing had changed, except they had followed the instructions Moses had given to them.
That night they were free! The next day was the first day they never made a brick for Pharaoh. And even though their faith was almost non-existent, God delivered them across the Red Sea, giving them the privilege of seeing their enemies destroyed before their eyes, in the sea. For forty long years, God fed them with bread from heaven. He provided water where there was no water, and their shoes did not wear out, even in the desert sand. Finally, He brought Israel into the land He had promised Abraham many years before. Now that is deliverance, and the message of Passover is just this.
What God did in Egypt that night for Israel He can do for each one of us. He can lift us out of slavery to sin and the world and seat us in heavenly places in Christ Jesus, far above principalities and powers, (such as Egypt and Pharaoh), and where we enter into his rest. This beloved, is what the whole message of Passover is all about.
It is possible you may say, "I know all that," and yet have never entered into the reality of that deliverance, through the shed blood of Christ. Beloved, the blood of Christ has never lost its power to deliver, and the Lamb is still provided as food sufficient for the wilderness journey, until we reach the promised land. If you have not found release from this world, or cosmos, reach out now and embrace the truths of Passover and start that journey to the Promised Land.
Finally, let it be remembered that the word "feast" in the Hebrew speaks of a "circle." So that Passover was not a once only experience, but was to be repeated each year in Israel's history. It is obvious the Lord knew human nature, and the subtlety of the cosmos, and that as time went by in our personal experience there would be moments when we would be over-taken again by this insidious thing called the world. Therefore, God has so planned that He would bring us back to Passover many times in our lives, but each time it would involve a deeper appreciation of all that the slain Lamb represents to us.
Our first experience of Passover, whilst just as real may not have been with the depth of understanding of spiritual things, that the Spirit of the Lord has worked in us today. Therefore now, as we face the truth, we can enter in much more fully to the deliverance provided for us. Thus as we grow through spiritual infancy, to maturity, we have need of a deeper experience of Passover, until like Jesus Himself said, "The prince of this world cometh, and hath nothing in me." Only then will we be beyond the need to keep Passover.