Jesus in the Feast of Unleavened Bread

Last week, I introduced the Feast of Passover—the first of seven ordained by God. It kicks off the Feast of Unleavened Bread. Passover and the first night of Unleavened Bread are known as ‘high sabbaths.’ They do not happen on an actual Sabbath, which begins on Friday night. This, and the fact that Jesus was buried in the ground for three nights (Thursday, Friday, and Saturday) and three days (Friday, Saturday, and Sunday) and raised on the third day, help us understand that Jesus was crucified and buried Thursday day, not Friday, as is our tradition.

So, what prompted the connected Feasts of Passover and Unleavened Bread? As I mentioned previously, the Israelites had to make a hasty departure from Egypt after God completed ten judgments against the Pharoah. They didn’t have time to use yeast (leaven) to let the bread for the journey rise. Eventually, yeast came to signify the old life of bondage in Egypt and sin.

How is the yeast-less-bread feast celebrated? Deep house cleaning is done by the 14th of Nisan in preparation for the Passover and the first day of Unleavened Bread on the 15th. Special dishes and utensils are used to ensure no contamination. Then, pieces of yeast are hidden to be found during the Feast of Passover after sundown (the start of the 15th).  A ceremonial search for leaven and removal that night (part of the Passover feast) is done by candlelight and with a feather and wooden spoon; all are placed into a bag and burned. The head of the household then says a prayer.

The theme of old and new is an emphatic order to be free of corruption. So, how did Jesus fulfill the feast to stress that? First, He is the ‘Bread of Life’ who did not sin—leaven (John 6:32-35). Second, He had to take on sin—ours—to satisfy a sinful humanity’s debt to the Creator: “He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him” (2 Corinthians 5:21). Because of His sinless nature, God didn’t allow His body to decay (such as leaven-oriented fermentation causes). Therefore, He was buried in a rich man’s grave, not thrown onto the trash heap like other crucified criminals (Isaiah 53:8-9), and raised. Most important, Jesus removes the spiritual yeast/leaven/sin from our house, our lives.

How can we apply this? We can start by “. . . lay[ing] aside the old self, which is being corrupted in accordance with the lusts of deceit” (Ephesians 4:22) and become new. Why? If nothing else, practicing sin, no matter what we may believe about Jesus, will earn a spiritual death sentence (Galatians 5:19-21).

What about next week? We’ll continue exploring God’s ordained feasts and festivals with “Jesus in the Feast of First Fruits.”

Blessings and peace,

Dr. Ron Braley

www.ronbraley.com

http://www.findingdiscipleship.org

Jesus in the Passover

Last week, I introduced the feasts and festivals God ordained about 3,500 years ago. Four happen in the springtime and three in the fall. The spring feasts/festivals are Passover, Unleavened Bread, First Fruits, and Pentecost. The fall festivals are Trumpets, Atonement, and Booths (Sukkot). The feasts and festivals were types (dress rehearsals) to be fulfilled by Jesus: the spring feasts at His first coming and the fall feasts upon His return. In this column, we’ll take a deeper look at how He fulfilled the feast of Passover about 2,000 years ago.

First, the original Passover in about 1445 BCE was part of the final plague in God’s plan to free the Israelites from Egyptian slavery. In the 10th plague, God took the life of every firstborn male, both human and animal. That is unless a God-fearing person such as the Israelite put the blood of a blemish-free lamb above the door and on the doorposts as a sign that death should ‘pass over.’

Second, Jews were (and are) to remember what God did for them through the annual Passover feast. The priests would select blemish-free lambs from a holding pen at the appropriate time in March or April (depending on the lunar calendar). They would then inspect them for four days before sacrificing the animals to be cooked and eaten during an evening meal to remember the original Passover. Jesus became the blemish-free lamb (sacrificially speaking) inspected for four days by the religious leaders and slaughtered to spill His blood to free God-fearing Christ-followers from sin and death. His sacrifice has released them from the bondage of sin just as God freed the Israelites from the bondage of the Egyptians.

Third, the bread had to be cooked in a hurry without yeast. There was no time to let it rise before the Israelites had to ‘beat feet’ in a hurry to escape the wrath of the Egyptian Pharoah. This flatbread, still cooked and eaten during the annual Passover feast, has tiny holes in it and the stripes made by cooking over a fire and grating. Some believe that these represent the piercings and stripes Isaiah foretold (Isaiah 53:5) and Jesus fulfilled.

Finally, the Passover feast incorporates four cups of wine. The third is called the ‘Cup of Redemption’ and is likely the one Jesus presented to His disciples as the cup of the new covenant (Matthew 26:27-28). Just afterward, He explained that He would not drink with them again until they are together in heaven in the future (verse 29). Indeed, we see in Revelation that God-fearing Christ-followers will celebrate the marriage feast in heaven together when all will be fulfilled (Revelation 19:6-9), and we will enjoy this fourth cup of wine, aptly named the Cup of Praise.  Next week, let’s dive head-first into the next feast/festival ordained by God in the spring feasts: Feast of Unleavened Bread.

Blessings and peace,

Dr. Ron Braley (www.ronbraley.com)

The Feasts of God, an Introduction

God appointed certain times for specific things (Leviticus 23:4) and put stars, planets, and constellations in a particular order and position to mark them. (Genesis 1:14). For instance, some seasons and feasts were, and are, dress rehearsals for fulfilling God’s words. Jesus’ first coming in the 1st century AD and his second coming to occur at the end of our current age/world (Colossians 2:16-17) have fulfilled (and will fulfill) them. What about the feasts?

God ordained seven of them. Four occur in springtime: Passover, Unleavened Bread, Firstfruits, and Pentecost. Three more happen in the fall:  Trumpets (Rosh Hashanah), Atonement, and Tabernacles (Sukkot). The Jews were required to visit the Temple in Jerusalem for three feasts: Passover, Pentecost, and Tabernacles. Let’s take a brief peek at each of the seven events.

Spring Feasts of the Lord (fulfilled by Jesus’ first coming): Roughly March to May)

Feasts of Passover and Unleavened Bread: These first two spring feasts commemorate the salvation of the Hebrews from God’s judgment against Pharaoh and their exodus from Egypt in about 1445 BC. Passover commences on the 14th day of the first month at twilight. The Feast of Unleavened Bread lasts for seven days, beginning the day after Passover.

Feast of Firstfruits: This marks the beginning of the harvest period and allows Israel to present the first fruits of that harvest to God in thanksgiving. It occurs 50 days before the Feast of Weeks.

The Feast of Weeks (Pentecost): This feast happens 50 days after the feast of Firstfruits to signal the end of the grain harvest and give thanks to God for His provision.

Fall Feasts of the Lord (will be fulfilled by Jesus’ return to earth): September or October

The Feast of Trumpets: This ‘memorial of blowing of trumpets’ happens on the first day of the seventh month (usually September).

The Day of Atonement: The event is meant to be a time of atonement for the Jews and will most likely mark the manifestation of salvation and reconciliation between God and Israel at the end of the ‘time of the gentiles’ (cf. Luke 21:24 and Romans 11:25-27).

The Feast of Tabernacles: Finally, this feast commemorates the Israelites’ time in the desert just before entering the land of Canaan. During the festival, which lasts seven days, Jews are compelled to live in structures (booths) made of branches, twigs, and leaves. The event will most likely be fulfilled when God makes all things new and once again resides with people in combined heaven and earth.

Where will we go next week? Let’s kick off our deep dive into God’s ordained feasts by learning of Jesus in the Passover!

Blessings and peace,

Dr. Ron Braley

Living Water: Refreshing & Transformative

Have you ever heard of the ‘woman at the well’—the Samaritan woman who believed in Jesus and ran throughout the town telling the good news of the Kingdom of Heaven to anyone who would listen? I thought so! But what do you know about the ‘living water’ God offered her (and still does through Jesus)?

“Jesus answered and said to her, ‘If you knew the gift of God, and who it is who says to you, ‘Give Me a drink,’ you would have asked Him, and He would have given you living water.’” (John 4:10) “But whoever drinks of the water that I will give him shall never thirst; but the water that I will give him will become in him a well of water springing up to eternal life.” (John 4:14)

The ‘living water’ is the life that comes only through God. The Old Testament folks knew this through their prophets, and they looked forward to the day when the Living Water (the manifestation of God’s promise through Jesus) would come. The Samaritan woman, not knowing of the Old Testament references, believed that Jesus was talking about fresh, running water like the spring that fed the well. So, why didn’t the Samaritan woman understand what Jesus said?

The Samaritans honored only the first five books of the Bible. So, they didn’t know about the Living Water promise through the prophets. For instance, through Jeremiah’s prophecies, we learn that God was, and is, the fountain of Living Waters (Jeremiah 2:13 & 17:13). And from Isaiah, we learn of the Living Water as springs of salvation (Isaiah 12:2-3). According to the Apostle John, Jesus is the One who can give Living Water that comes from the Father above, and our faith in Him and the resulting faithfulness bring the rivers of Living Water by the Spirit. (Joh 4:10, 7:38, & 3:5).

Also, consider Jesus’ glimpse into the future when all who are God’s in the age to come will be continually refreshed by this Living Water: “Then he showed me a river of the water of life, clear as crystal, coming from the throne of God and of the Lamb … The Spirit and the bride say, “Come.” And let the one who hears say, “Come.” And let the one who is thirsty come; let the one who wishes take the water of life without cost.” (Revelation 22:1 & 17)

So, the Living Water is the refreshing God gives. How do we receive it? By answering God’s call with complete devotion to Him. He will then provide you with His Spirit (hence, the regeneration from above and the Spirit from John 3:5). Where will we go next week? Well, Passover is coming. So, I thought I’d introduce the feasts and festivals ordained by God and then dive into each one in the following weeks.

Blessings and peace,

Dr. Ron Braley