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Saturday, April 12, 2014

Yahshua and Passover

In the days of Yahshua (the Hebrew Name of Jesus) as caravans of Jews made their way to Jerusalem each year for the Passover celebration (Ex. 23:14-17) the men, women and children would sing praise to Elohim, especially the Psalms of Ascent (Ps. 120-134). These Psalms glorify Elohim as Creator, as the Redeemer of Israel, the One Israel can trust in, Jerusalem as His city and Israel as His holy people.

As excitement mounted the closer they came to Jerusalem, the city that harbors all the hopes and pain of the Jewish people, thoughts would turn toward the First Passover. Great was the redemption that Elohim did in freeing Israel from Egyptian slavery by slaying all the firstborn of the sons of Egypt. The Hebrew firstborn were spared or saved from death by the blood of the lamb (Exodus 12:12-14).

This great deliverance set in motion a yearly celebration, a time to remember and to re-experience that mighty deed of Elohim. The Hebrew word zahar זָכַר means to remember or memorial, and it has profound significance. When the people of Elohim sit down to eat the Passover meal we envision ourselves back at the First Passover. Elohim commands that we tell our sons that we who are alive today (even 3,400 years after the First Passover) were delivered out of Pharaoh’s Kingdom (Ex. 13:8). This is known as corporate identity (one body). All Israel at the time, giving a tithe to one greater than he…yet Levi would not be born for another 120 years.

When the Apostle Paul speaks of taking the physical reminders of Yahshua’s body and blood (1st Cor. 11:23-34) we are told that as often as we do it we are to remember His death. What the Apostle is presenting in Hebraic terms is that we are not only to identify with Yahshua in His death (Rom. 6; death to self; new life in Him), but of special importance, that we are to understand that we, too, are there with Yahshua, at what I call the Second Passover, receiving the bread and the wine from Him, and also, being crucified with Him in a very painful and humiliating death.

We are to consider ourselves as having been ‘in the loins of the Apostles,’ or more exactly, Yahshua. We are to re-experience that moment of time and its significance by entering into it by the Spirit of the Holy One, whenever we take His body and blood.

The Passover that Yahshua celebrated before His death is a picture of the sacred banquet that is seen in Luke 13:28-30 and Rev. 19:6-9. Abba El, in Yahshua, and Man at that Passover table, were eating and fellowshiping together. It’s the strongest possible picture of the Father’s friendship with us. In the ancient Middle East, if two hostile enemies ate at the same table they became the closest of friends. That’s how powerful table fellowship is. We who were once enemies of Elohim because of our rebellious Adamic nature, are now friends of Elohim because of the table fellowship that we have with Him at the Passover table—and look what it is that we are eating—the true heavenly food, the Lamb of Elohim, which makes us like Him!

The Apostle Paul would tell us that the body and blood are living reminders to us that Abba El is our Friend. He’s the kind of friend that will help us whenever we need any kind of help. It also shows us the kind of love that we must have for the Body of Messiah that also takes Messiah’s body and blood.

In other words, when I take the physical reminders I must realize that I am to forgive and love all those who call themselves believers in Messiah Yahshua (and everyone else), just as His blood and body have made it possible for me to experience the forgiveness and love of Papa God.

Daily Reminders

Yahweh commanded Israel to remember every day what He had done for them. Deut. 16:3 states,
‘you must remember every day of your life, the day that you came out of the land of Egypt.’
This means that they would envision themselves being delivered by Elohim from Egypt every day, and of course they would be very grateful. Elohim also gave them a daily concrete reminder that reflected their salvation. Every morning and every evening (Ex. 29:38-42) Israel would sacrifice a lamb with its complement oblation (grain offering) and libation (wine offering). These sacrifices allowed them to remember or to re-experience the salvation from Egypt of Yahweh twice a day.

In those daily sacrifices we see the body and the blood of Messiah Yahshua. The oblation (fine grain) is the body and the wine represents His blood. The daily lamb sacrifices would point to both the First Passover in the past, and the Second Passover in the future (Yahshua’s), as well as being an immediate reminder of Elohim their Savior and how He is an ever present help in times of need.

The blood of the Passover lamb is represented by the wine of Passover. That is why the Rabbis say that the wine must be red. To make wine, the grapes must be stomped. To make flour for bread, the whole kernels must be crushed.

Yahshua is the grape and kernel (wine and bread) crushed for us that we might be able to sit at the Passover Table and eat the Food of Elohim, heavenly Food. Isaiah 53:10 speaks of this transformation process for Messiah when he says, ‘Yahweh has been pleased to crush Him.’

Matza Unleavened Bread

The bread that Elohim requires us to eat at Passover is a special type of bread that reflects the purity and humility of our Messiah. Israel was commanded to eat this bread at the First Passover (Ex. 12:8, 15-20; 13:3-10) and every subsequent Passover thereafter. This bread is called matza מַצָה (Hebrew for unleavened bread) and would remind them of Elohim's great salvation and desire for them to be holy.

Matza is the bread that Yahshua uses to picture His body when He holds it up and declares that ‘This is My body’ (Matt. 26:26).1 In 1st Cor. 5:6-8, the Apostle Paul presents to his mostly Gentile congregation how even,
‘a small amount of yeast is enough to leaven all the dough, so get rid of all the old yeast and make yourselves into a completely new batch of bread, unleavened, as you are meant to be.’
Leaven or yeast has always symbolized the sin of pride because pride, like yeast, puffs one up. That’s why the Israelis were commanded to celebrate the Feast of Unleavened Bread for seven days. For seven days Elohim wanted Israel to especially remember that He had delivered them out of Egypt, not to do their own thing, but to be a holy people consecrated unto Him. Seven is the number of perfection (Creation week), wholeness and completion as well as representing holiness (Elohim's holy Sabbath is on the 7th day of the week; Gen. 2:1-3; Ex. 20:8-11). Seven is a unit of time, and as such, represents another unit of time; a year. When we eat matza for seven days we’re symbolically saying that we will walk in holiness, and not sin, for the coming year.

This is why Yahshua, the Sinless One, was able to picture Himself in the matza, for it symbolizes sinlessness, purity, holiness and affliction. It’s without yeast—it’s not puffed up, but humble (Mt. 11:28-30). It pictures affliction in that it not only looks ‘less full’ than bread with yeast, and therefore, ‘poorer’ or afflicted, but it has stripes and holes in it, which allow for the matza not to bubble over when it’s being baked. Of course, the stripes and holes picture the scourging, crucifixion and piercing that our Messiah took so that we could be healed (Is. 53:5; Zech. 12:10; Mt. 27:26, 35; Jn. 19:34; 1st Peter 2:24). Yahshua our Shepherd was afflicted for us (Is. 53:3-12; Jn. 10:11f.). Yahshua is the pure Bread (Matza) that has come down from the Heavens (Jn. 6:26-40). Any bread with yeast in it pictures Yahshua as sinful. This is why it’s so important to have matza for remembering His death.

The Never Ending Matza

When Yahshua multiplied the loaves for the multitudes (John 6:1-15) the immediate reference was obvious to the Jewish people there. God, through Moses, provided manna (bread) for Israel in the wilderness. Yahshua, performing a similar miracle, revealed Himself as the Messiah, the King of Israel, to His Jewish people (Dt. 18:15-18; Jn. 6:14-15).

What that also revealed was that in the Matza (Bread) of Life there is more than enough for all of us, just as there was for the Jewish people back there in John 6. After 1,900 years, we who are alive today are still being fed off of the breaking (crucifixion) of the Matza of Life. He continues ‘to multiply’ Himself to feed us.

Whenever we take the body and the blood we are to remember that we are back there at the Second Passover with all His followers; past, present and future. Israel is at the Passover Table with her Elohim. We are not only His friend, but because we are eating and drinking of Messiah Yahshua we are becoming like Him. It’s a spiritual reality that ‘we are who we eat.’

His blood is not only a symbol of His sacrificial death, but of the Joy of our salvation, wine having this double meaning in Scripture (Ps. 104:15). In Ex. 12:14 God declares,
‘This day is to be a day of remembrance for you and you must celebrate it as a feast in honor of Yahweh.’
The word for ‘celebrate’ means ‘to rejoice mightily.’ This is the proper attitude for taking His body and His blood and can only come from the Holy Spirit. This is the proper attitude for acknowledging what Abba El has done for us in setting us free from our enemies—Satan, sin and death.

In ‘discerning Yahshua’s Body’ (1st Cor. 11:29) before eating, we must lift up to Him any anger, resentment and jealousy that we might have toward others (as not being able to forgive the other from our heart), and any resistance that we might have to Yahshua Himself (to be fully surrendered to Him). It may not mean that Elohim will take away our resentment or bitterness right then and there, but as we continue to look to Him in faith, trusting Him, we know that He will do it, and also, set us free from any inhibitions against freely offering ourselves to Him.

Now we are ready to eat of His body and drink His blood without incurring guilt. It’s for these very reasons that we need His cleansing blood and healing body. As we yield ourselves to Yahshua, He feeds us what we need to grow into His Image and His Holiness—to have His heart of sacrificial and forgiving love.

Helpful in dealing with our stubborn carnality is the scene at the Second Passover (Jn. 13:1-30) where Yahshua washes the Apostle’s feet. Peter strongly objects, but finally consents. Most rightly understand this as a lesson in humility, but do we realize why Peter objected? The only person who washed other peoples’ feet in Israel—was the lowest slave in the house! Howard Marshall relates that a midrash on Exodus reveals that even Jewish slaves weren’t to wash the feet of their master:
‘Only non-Jewish slaves were required to perform this menial duty for their masters.’2

The Master of the Universe

had assumed the role of the lowest slave in the Land

Realize, too, that Yahshua also washed the feet of Judas, the one He knew would betray Him. Yahshua washed the feet of Judas to show Judas, the other Apostles, and all of us today that there is nothing that He will not do to serve us—to see us set free from sin and death—to help us to grow into His Image in this lifetime—to help us to overcome every physical, emotional, mental, spiritual and any other thing that would seek to keep us from walking in intimate fellowship with Him now, and to live eternally with Him in the future manifestation of the New Jerusalem. This is our Messiah.

Now imagine when you are angry with someone and the Master Yahshua begins to wash your feet. He looks into your eyes and asks you to give Him that anger. I dare say that your anger would melt away as awe, gratitude and deep humility overwhelm you. That is how Yahshua transforms us—by His forgiving-loving service. In this we see that there is nothing that we will ever need that He cannot supply for us. He came to serve us and this service enables us to walk along the Highway of Holiness, giving us what we need to be holy, to be like Him, whenever we need it.

Yahshua wants to give us His love, a love that is strong enough to love our enemies—a love much more powerful than hate. We cannot love our enemies in our own strength. This is one of our greatest needs that Yahshua brings to us and it’s pictured in His body and His blood, the First Passover and the daily sacrifices. As we eat of our Messiah we become like Him, to the esteem of Abba El who has wrought this Great Redemption!

You see, we’re all a lot like Judas…

but oh, what a Friend we have in Yahshua!

1.  The Roman Catholic idea behind their eucharist is not biblical. The Roman Catholic Church says that when a priest prays in Latin over their wafer and the wine, that the wafer and the wine literally become the real body and blood of Jesus. As such, they actually bow down, do homage to and worship the wafer, something that has no biblical foundation. When we take the matza and the wine (or grape juice) we are proclaiming in no uncertain terms that we are ‘one’ with Him and that His sacrificial death is sufficient for all our needs; spiritual and physical, pictured in our eating the matza and drinking the wine. It’s the presence of the Holy Spirit that brings the reality of His body and blood into our lives. Yahshua using the matza and the wine means that everything that Yahshua is, is pictured in them. He is salvation and life eternal and with the Holy Spirit we enter into His reality, and any needs that we have are provided for.

2.  I. Howard Marshall, Author; I. Howard Marshall and W. Ward Gasque, Editors, The New International Greek Testament Commentary: The Gospel of Luke (Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1978), p. 146. Taken from Midrash Exodus 21:2 (82a); Keth. 96a.

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