Christian Faith and Practice Through Passover

Hot off the production line, our new video Christian Faith and Practice Through Passover (and Unleavened Bread and First Fruits) explains the simple steps for believers to show our love of the Father and our Messiah Jesus the Christ by observing the Passover.

We talk about the biblical specifics, the difference between tradition and the Bible, the calendar, and circumcision. Following the Bible is easy. It’s the traditions of men that make it difficult.

Shalom
Bruce

Draw Near

If a stranger shall sojourn with you and would keep the Passover to the LORD, let all his males be circumcised. Then he may come near and keep it; he shall be as a native of the land. But no uncircumcised person shall eat of it. (Exodus 12:48, ESV)

If any one term is the closest to the reason I follow the whole Bible, this is it. The term I’m speaking of is “come near.” In my view this is what Torah is all about. The term can be used for simply getting together (if we are talking about a pair or group of people), but when one of the parties is God it takes on a whole different character. We can “come near” God for judgment as in Malachi 3:5, or we can come near in love and intimacy. A similar term is “draw near.”

Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. (James 4:8, ESV)

We “draw near” to God as we do what He says. The more we do, the closer we get. In humility we use His living oracles to wash the parts of us that get dirty. Though He has cleansed us wholly, we still need to wash occasionally.

Jesus said to him, “The one who has bathed does not need to wash, except for his feet, but is completely clean. And you are clean, but not every one of you.” (John 13:10, ESV)

We are clean, but we still need to wash some in order to continue “drawing near.” Notice that Jesus did the foot washing during the Passover meal. Jesus continues to wash our feet by the washing of the Word as we “draw near” to Him through His commands. There is a continual cleansing by His Law because we are in a dirty world and sometimes we step in something odoriferous that needs to be removed. If we judge (cleanse) ourselves and wash our hands (or feet) then Jesus doesn’t have to judge us. His eye is on us for good and not for evil.

I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you with my eye upon you. Be not like a horse or a mule, without understanding, which must be curbed with bit and bridle, or it will not stay near you. (Psalm 32:8–9, ESV)

Shalom

Speaking Evil

What does it mean to speak evil of someone? Jesus spoke some heavy things about the religious leaders in Matthew 23. He said they were “hypocrites,” “whitewashed tombs” full of dead men’s bones, “son(s) of hell,” “blind guides,” that they loved places of honor, blocked the way into the kingdom refusing to enter themselves, and added to men’s burdens not lifting a finger to help among other things. So was this speaking evil? I don’t think so. What the leaders were doing was evil, and Jesus just called them out for it.

The modern meaning of speaking evil is somewhat different. Mostly it means saying something someone doesn’t like. As long as we speak in generalities, it’s acceptable to the people of the world. If we name names however, make it personal, then they don’t like it and we are probably going to be accused of speaking evil. Not that we are, just that we are accused. For instance I can say that some leaders block entrance into the kingdom. But if I say that, oh, Joel Osteen blocks entrance into the kingdom yet refuses to enter himself, then people get upset.

I get people mad at me because I’m somewhere in between. What I will say is if a person doesn’t follow the Word then he’s a wolf or whitewashed tomb or some of those other things that the Messiah said. I don’t make it personal by calling names. But I do make it personal by saying something like, “If people observe Easter and/or don’t observe Passover, then they are false teachers (hypocrites, tombs, blind guides, etc.). They are not Scriptural.” That way I’m not naming names, but I am holding up the leader’s work to the light of Scripture.

It’s amazing the number of people that get upset when you merely point out that they are not following Scripture. A lot of times the rebuttal is that following the whole of the Word (including Passover for instance) is “just a matter of opinion.” I’ll be told I “can’t throw stones” because I’m not without sin. This is not true (the stones part, not the sin part). The “can’t throw stones if sinful” doctrine is a false one so it’s not a surprise that evil people use it as a defense. The “opinions” defense is also wrong because the Word is clear. Speaking God’s Word is not evil. Intentional or not, it is the insistence on steering people away from God’s living oracles that is evil.

Speaking the Word, or pointing out how people are not following it, is not evil. People doing wrong (against the Word) are evil. People who tell me I’m not supposed to follow God’s Word are evil. Like a lot of words in modern times meanings have been reversed. Good has become evil, and evil has become good in the thinking of evil people.

Likes on Facebook

Now that we’ve got more than 30 likes, Facebook shows us something they call ‘insights’ meaning we can see how many people view a post and other statistics.

It’s interesting to note that a post starting with the phrase “Sin is turning from His Word” gets 11 views while a shorter post starting with “I wonder if seven days without leaven has a side benefit for the body?” gets 59 views. Or how a post starting with the Bible verse “But Joshua said to the people, “You are not able to serve the LORD, for he is a holy God.” gets 16 views while a post that starts with the Bible verse “Rejoice not over me, O my enemy; when I fall, I shall rise; when I sit in darkness, the LORD will be a light to me” gets 109 views.

Do you suppose that posts which confront people with a holy God, a need for repentance, and the requirement to abide in the whole of His Word including the Law are less popular than posts that tell us about freebies from Him? That perhaps we don’t want to be reminded of our sin but can’t wait to tell people about blessings? That we like the comfortable truths, but the uncomfortable truths we wish would go away? Do we think that somehow we can gain the fun stuff without going through the cross?

If true, then I tell you without confronting and taking care of our sin there will be no blessings. What is exciting to contemplate now will vanish like a mirage in the waterless desert of our pride. He will not be a light in the darkness to those who sit in hell. There will be no benefits to a week without leaven if sin reigns in our mortal bodies. We serve a holy God, and blessings pressed down and overflowing come from Him as we adjust ourselves to all of His Word and His ways. Some blessings from Him touch everyone, like sunshine for a day at the beach. Many blessings are denied however because He uses the same measure to give them as we use when giving ourselves to Him. If we can’t see the love in discomfort from Him then we don’t know love at all. We cheapen His grace when we accept only the warm fuzzies and deny needed correction.

Dietrich Bonheoffer, a Lutheran pastor who resisted the Nazis till he was hanged by them, said it this way:

“Cheap grace is the preaching of forgiveness without requiring repentance, baptism without church discipline. Communion without confession. Cheap grace is grace without discipleship, grace without the cross, grace without Jesus Christ.”

God’s blessings and promises are indeed quite exciting. But we don’t get more than a pebble on a mountaintop unless we embrace uncomfortable truth now and work through it with humility and reliance on His mercy.

Eating Out Without Leaven

When you’re on the road, trying to find food without leaven is a little more difficult than at home. Though each meal took a little more planning on a trip we took recently, that was time to reflect on God’s ways and the reasons for following them. Each menu decision was flavored with love for God, and God’s love for us. We wanted to skip leaven as He instructed because He loves us so much. We get to love Him back a little by slight diet changes. He dies a tortured, painful bloody death on an execution stake and we return a tiny bit of that love by eating crackers. What a deal.

Of course, it’s far more difficult to remove the sin, symbolized by the leaven, than it is to find a restaurant that isn’t centered around leavened bread. It’s a little hard to eat a sandwich without the bread. But a week making decisions about bread translates to keeping the removal of sin in focus too. And it’s a great kick start to a habit of removing a particular sin.

Hypocrites and Passover

5273 ὑποκριτής [hupokrites /hoop·ok·ree·tace/] n m. From 5271; TDNT 8:559; TDNTA 1235; GK 5695; 20 occurrences; AV translates as “hypocrite” 20 times. 1 one who answers, an interpreter. 2 an actor, stage player. 3 a dissembler, pretender, hypocrite.
ESL

5273. ὑποκριτής hupokritēs; from 5271; one who answers, an actor, a hypocrite:—hypocrite(2), hypocrites(16).
NASB Dictionaries

), corresponding to the above, primarily denotes one who answers; then, a stage–actor; it was a custom for Greek and Roman actors to speak in large masks with mechanical devices for augmenting the force of the voice; hence the word became used metaphorically of a dissembler, a hypocrite. It is found only in the Synoptists, and always used by the Lord, fifteen times in Matthew; elsewhere, Mark 7:6; Luke 6:42; 11:44 (in some mss.); 12:56; 13:15. HYSSOP HUSSŌPOS (ὕσσωπος , (5301) VEDONTW

Also means men of falsehood 26:4, evil doer Is. 9:17, godless, deceitful men, pretenders, vain persons, and profane.

And he said to them, “Well did Isaiah prophesy of you hypocrites, as it is written, “ ‘This people honors me with their lips, but their heart is far from me; in vain do they worship me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.’ (Mark 7:6–7, ESV)

“You stiff-necked people, uncircumcised in heart and ears, you always resist the Holy Spirit. As your fathers did, so do you. Which of the prophets did your fathers not persecute? And they killed those who announced beforehand the coming of the Righteous One, whom you have now betrayed and murdered, you who received the law as delivered by angels and did not keep it.” (Acts 7:51–53, ESV)

Those who receive the Bible as the Word of God yet do not keep it? Eating ham with leavened baked goods ignoring Sabbaths on Easter Sunday directly opposite what God teaches? Honoring with lips but hearts are far away, perhaps?

I held out my hands all day long to a rebellious people, who walk in a way that is not good, following their own devices; a people who provoke me to my face continually, sacrificing in gardens and offering incense on bricks; who sit inside tombs, and spend the night in secret places; who eat swine’s flesh, with broth of abominable things in their vessels; who say, “Keep to yourself, do not come near me, for I am too holy for you.” These are a smoke in my nostrils, a fire that burns all day long. (Isaiah 65:2–5, NRSV)

Passover Traditions

Well, our “sheep” are out (see previous photos to take a good look!) and today my kids and I headed to a local pond to feed the ducks our bread ends. It’s one of our Passover traditions to “get rid” of the leaven in our lives. We are “purging” it all and giving the ducks an nice treat. What Passover traditions has your family started over the years?

388426_497362593655425_1205842287_n

Righteousness of God

But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law, although the Law and the Prophets bear witness to it— the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction: for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God’s righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins. It was to show his righteousness at the present time, so that he might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus. (Romans 3:21–26, ESV)