Month: May 2020

A Trinket

A silver turtle trinket

I never noticed this until today. In the account of the “rich young ruler,” Mark considered it important enough to include it in his narrative. The Scripture reads, “And as he (Jesus) was setting out on his journey, a man ran up and knelt before him and asked, “Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?(Mark 10:17)

Running to Jesus

The young man RAN to Jesus. This man had intent. He had determination. He had identified the source of what he had been seeking. We know this because he didn’t just run to Jesus but he caused Jesus to stop His journey. This is significant. Abraham did a similar thing, for we find in Genesis 18:2, “Abraham looked up and saw three men standing nearby. When he saw them, he hurried from the entrance of his tent to meet them and bowed low to the ground.” Many theologians consider this encounter to be a Christophany, a visible manifestation of the Son of God before He became flesh (John 1:14).

How similar these two accounts are. Both men spotted Jesus walking. Both men ran to meet Him. Both men stopped Jesus and entreated Him for His attention. Both men bowed or knelt before the Son of God. Both men made a request of Christ. But here the similarity stops.

God Called

God called Abram (Abraham) while he was still an idolator, living in the city of Ur. God called him to leave family, friends, and the familiar to go into the wilderness, to a land that God would show him. Abram took God up on His offer, the rich young ruler did not.

Jesus, in whom the Godhead dwells bodily (Colossians 2:9), asked the young man to get rid of the things that tied him to his family, his world, his life, and to come and join Jesus has a disciple; what a privilege Jesus extended to the rich young ruler, but the young man declined.

It’s not enough to run to Jesus, to interrupt Christ’s journey, to fall on our knees before the King of kings and the Lord of lords, to seek the favor of Jesus. For the first thing Jesus requires of us is to surrender all, to let go of the dead corpse of the world which we continually drag around with us. There can be no life as long as we remain in death.

Christ calls us out, but the decision rests solely upon us. Just as Abram was renamed Abraham, Simon was renamed Peter, Saul was renamed Paul, James and John were renamed the sons of thunder, someday, when we arrive in heaven God will give us a new name, but not the rich young ruler; not on that day, for he cared too much for this world to let go. Like a monkey who’s hand is trapped in a jar, this young man grasped his riches so tightly that he could not escape.

A Trinket of Death

Abraham and the rich young ruler: Two men that our Lord offered unimaginable joy and a place in the foundation of God’s kingdom. One man chose correctly, and one did not. What will we do when Jesus asks us to let go of the thing that is most precious to us, for He knows us better than we ourselves. Will we, by God’s grace, place our faith in Jesus? Will we let go of death and be reborn into eternal life? Or, will we try to hold on to a trinket of death and bargain with Jesus so that we may possess both death and life, a bargain that cannot be made.

Choose life. Choose love. Choose Jesus.

Photo by Kayla Maurais on Unsplash

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Jesus in Deuteronomy, Conclusion

jigsaw puzzle

Then Jesus took them through the writings of Moses and all the prophets, explaining from all the Scriptures the things concerning himself. 

Luke 24:27

We’ve got one more excavation site in our quest to discover Jesus in the first five books of the Bible (Pentateuch). So far, we’ve found Jesus everywhere we’ve looked. So grab your trowels and brushes and let’s do this!

As we found last time, during Christ’s earthly ministry, He often quoted from Deuteronomy and He carefully fulfilled this book that He had preordained to reveal Himself to the children of Israel and all the world. For example, Jesus answered all three of his temptations in the wilderness with quotations from the book of Deuteronomy (Luke 4:1–13).

Shields

The Holy Spirit often uses a shield symbolically to communicate His protection. We saw this with Abraham, “After these things the word of the LORD came to Abram in a vision: “Fear not, Abram, I am your shield; your reward shall be very great. (Genesis 15:1)” and we find this same message from the Holy Spirit to the Israelites. There are several places in Deuteronomy where God uses the idea of a shield such as Deuteronomy 33:29:

Happy are you, O Israel! Who is like you,
    a people saved by the Lord,
the shield of your help,
    and the sword of your triumph!
Your enemies shall come fawning to you,
    and you shall tread upon their backs.

We find this same symbolic message from the Holy Spirit in Ephesians 6:16, “In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one;” 

Let’s take a rabbit trail and consider what God was communicating to the Israelites and to the Ephesians. For the Ephesians, this was during the time of the Roman Empire so:

roman shield

The Roman shield of the time was called a scutum. This type of shield was as large as a door and would cover the warrior entirely. Such a shield was not just defensive but could also be used to push opponents. When fighting as a group, a phalanx of soldiers could position their shields so as to form an enclosure around themselves, called a testudo (“tortoise”). This was especially helpful to protect against arrows launched from the walls of cities they were attacking. Shields, often made of wood and then covered in hide when wet, could extinguish flaming arrows. – https://www.gotquestions.org/shield-of-faith.html

This same shield of faith is available to every believer. Jesus has also promised us, “For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them. (Matthew 18:20)” Therefore, when we gather together in the name of Jesus, we can join our shields of faith and, within the will of God, create a “tortoise” shell of protection for whomever we agree in prayer for.

Back to Jesus in Deuteronomy

Moses spoke of a deliverer that was to come in the future. Tucked into the summary of the Law, in the eighteenth chapter of Deuteronomy, while referring to the punishment of false prophets, Moses gave a remarkable prophecy:

The Lord your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among you, from your brothers—it is to him you shall listen— just as you desired of the Lord your God at Horeb on the day of the assembly, when you said, ‘Let me not hear again the voice of the Lord my God or see this great fire any more, lest I die.’ And the Lord said to me, ‘They are right in what they have spoken. I will raise up for them a prophet like you from among their brothers. And I will put my words in his mouth, and he shall speak to them all that I command him. And whoever will not listen to my words that he shall speak in my name, I myself will require it of him.” (Deuteronomy 18:15-19)

Moses was a mediator between the Israelites and God (Deuteronomy 5:5), yet Moses was not perfect (Deuteronomy 32:51-52). He, too, failed God. Still, Moses is perhaps the largest, strongest “type” for Jesus. Yet Jesus is perfect and He perfectly performs this mediation between His believers and the Father.

Now, as we successfully wrap up our quest to find Jesus in the Pentateuch, we leave Moses, the great “type” of Jesus, the great Law giver, buried in the plains of Moab (Deuteronomy 34:5). We leave the Old Testament land of types, foreshadows, symbols, metaphors, and analogies and enter back to the fulfillment of all of those; that fulfillment is only found in the person of Jesus, who perfectly fulfilled the Law and the Prophets (Matthew 5:17).

Jesus in the Structure of the Book

Deuteronomy is beautifully crafted. Using the Hebrew’s style of writing, the center of the book is the center of its message. Its preface and its epilog provide the context for the central message of the book. This style is consistent with the other books of the Pentateuch. For Deuteronomy, Jesus, in His roles as the Word of God (John 1:1), skillfully constructed this book as He has done for the yokes He has made for each of His own (Matthew 11:29).

When we read Deuteronomy, we find that chapters one through four are a general accounting of the goodness God has extended to the Israelites in the past. Likewise, chapters thirty-one through thirty-four are God’s assurance of the goodness that He will extend to His chosen people in the future.

The Law comfortably rests in the cradle of this book, nestled within the message of Grace which is found in the prelude and epilog. We need go no further to see Jesus in Deuteronomy than to see Jesus in the structure of this book.

Obedience

Christ said, “If you love me, you will keep my commandments.” (John 14:15) Our life as a child of God requires obedience. We do not run down our own paths and do our own thing. As believers, we go where our Savior leads and do the work that He assigns. Yet, the yoke we wear is hand crafted and His burden is light. The peace that abides in us is nothing like the lie that the world calls peace (John 14:27).

We are born by grace, through faith, by no work of our own (Ephesians 2:8-9). We are fed with food that the world cannot see (John 4:32). We glory in our weakness for in that Jesus is magnified (2 Corinthians 12:9). There is no place in this world, be it the finest palace or the most productive farm, that is seen as worthy of a child of God (Hebrews 11:38). God’s love is so great that He has hand crafted homes for each of His own (John 14:2). Commands? Yes. Rules? Yes. But these are wrapped in God’s wonderful grace, mercy, and love. That is the God we serve and that is the structure of Deuteronomy, this book Christ loves.

Carefully

Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is.(Ephesians 5:15-17)

Four times the Holy Spirit led Moses to write the word “carefully” in the book of Deuteronomy. Strong’s Concordance tells us that the Hebrew word for “carefully” is  וּשְׁמַרְתֶּם֮ (ū·šə·mar·tem – Strong’s Hebrew 8104), meaning: “to keep, guard, observe, give heed, to be on one’s guard, take heed, take care, beware”

We find this admonition in:

·      Deuteronomy 4:6,  Observe them carefully
·      Deuteronomy 4:9, Only be careful, and watch yourselves closely so that you do not forget…
·      Deuteronomy 4:15, …Therefore watch yourselves very carefully
·      Deuteronomy 4:23, Be careful not to forget the covenant of the Lord your God that he made with you

Grace

This council from God is grace. The Law contained in Deuteronomy came from God for the good of His chosen people. God knows the nature of humanity – “For he knows our frame; he remembers that we are dust.” (Psalm 103:14) Therefore, in God’s grace, repeatedly, He said, “guard, observe, give heed, be on guard, take heed, take care, beware.”

Beware of what? Beware of yourself! You know God’s will. You know that it is the opposite of your nature – the Law was given before God lived within His children. Christ had not yet provided the perfect sacrifice. Therefore, God says, be watchful of yourself so you do what is right instead of what your nature wants.

The gift we now have is this: “Everyone born of God overcomes the world. This is the victory that has overcome the world, even our faith.” (1 John 5:4) Christ’s substitutionary death on the cross was “in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.” (Romans 8:4).

Do you see Jesus in the “carefully” of Deuteronomy? Do you see Him in His “carefully” of Ephesians? Jesus is “in” the “carefully” of Deuteronomy. As Jesus said, “If you love me, you will keep my commandments.(John 14:15) Jesus is the Word of God (John 1:1). Truly, Deuteronomy contains the fingerprints of Jesus.

Wrap Up

Now, as we successfully wrap up our quest to find Jesus in the Pentateuch, we leave Moses, the great “type” of Jesus, the great Law giver, buried in the plains of Moab (Deuteronomy 34:5). We leave the Old Testament land of types, foreshadows, symbols, metaphors, and analogies and enter back to the fulfillment of all of those; that fulfillment is only found in the person of Jesus, who perfectly fulfilled the Law and the Prophets (Matthew 5:17).

My hope and prayer is that your appetite has been stimulated. Remember, “A worker’s appetite works for him; his mouth urges him on.” (Proverbs 16:26)  I hope and pray that you go back and discover even more places in the Scriptures where Jesus can be seen.

Photo by Ryoji Iwata on Unsplash

Deuteronomy: Hear, O Israel

Torah

Then Jesus took them through the writings of Moses and all the prophets, explaining from all the Scriptures the things concerning himself. 

Luke 24:27

Get your archaeology tools ready for today’s excavation. We are continuing our search for Jesus in the first five books of the Bible (Pentateuch). Before we begin today’s quest to find more sightings of Jesus in the book of Deuteronomy we first need to view the book through the eyes of our Lord.

Jesus in the Shields

The Holy Spirit often uses a shield symbolically to communicate His protection; our protection has its root in our faith; “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God.” (Ephesians 2:8), “In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one…” (Ephesians 6:16)

We saw this protection for Abraham: After these things the word of the LORD came to Abram in a vision: “Fear not, Abram, I am your shield; your reward shall be very great.” (Genesis 15:1) We also find this same message from the Holy Spirit to the Israelites. There are several places in Deuteronomy where God uses the idea of a shield such as Deuteronomy 33:29

“Happy are you, O Israel! Who is like you, 
    a people saved by the Lord, 
the shield of your help, 
    and the sword of your triumph! 
Your enemies shall come fawning to you, 
    and you shall tread upon their backs.” 

We also find this symbolic message from the Holy Spirit in Ephesians 6:16, “In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one;

Let’s take a rabbit trail and consider what God was communicating. We have the most information about Roman shields, shields that were familiar to the Ephesians.

The Roman shield of the time was called a scutum. This type of shield was as large as a door and would cover the warrior entirely. Such a shield was not just defensive but could also be used to push opponents. When fighting as a group, a phalanx of soldiers could position their shields to form an enclosure around themselves, called a testudo (“tortoise”). This was especially helpful to protect against arrows launched from the walls of cities they were attacking. Shields, often made of wood and then covered in hide when wet, could extinguish flaming arrows.

https://www.gotquestions.org/shield-of-faith.html

God’s shield of faith is available to every believer. Jesus has also promised us, “For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them. (Matthew 18:20)” Therefore, when we gather together in the name of Jesus, we can join our shields of faith and, within the will of God, create a “tortoise” shell (testudo ) of protection for whomever we agree for in prayer. 

Wrap Up

We will return to Deuteronomy next time because Jesus shows Himself in many more places in this amazing book of the Bible.

Photo by Ryoji Iwata on Unsplash

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Jesus in Deuteronomy

tapestry of Peter and John

For if you believed Moses, you would believe me; for he wrote of me.

John 4:46

Then Jesus took them through the writings of Moses and all the prophets, explaining from all the Scriptures the things concerning himself. 

Luke 24:27

Perceiving God’s Scriptural Tapestry

Before we can see Jesus in Deuteronomy, we need to know who we’re looking for – I guess it’s a little late to point this out. Anyway, we need to understand 1 Timothy 3:16, “Great indeed, we confess, is the mystery of godliness: He [Jesus] was manifested in the flesh, vindicated by the Spirit, seen by angels, proclaimed among the nations, believed on in the world, taken up in glory.” That’s Jesus. An excellent analysis of this verse can be found in “Ellicott’s Commentary for English Readers” 

Now, we know the “who”, but we also need to know where to look. Many of our sightings of Jesus will come into focus only as we become familiar with this tapestry of Scriptures that the Holy Spirit wove in Deuteronomy. Deuteronomy teaches us about Moses’ farewell to the generation of Israelites that would enter the Promised Land. We are taught of the handoff of leadership from Moses to Joshua. And are taught of Moses’ reminder to the Israelites regarding God’s blessings and God’s judgments.

During Christ’s earthly ministry, He often quoted from Deuteronomy. For example, Jesus answered all three of his temptations in the wilderness with quotations from the book of Deuteronomy (Luke 4:1–13). Jesus carefully fulfilled the Law and the Prophets, yet He was not subject to the Law for He was before Abraham. (John 8:58) Jesus was not a Levitical priest. He was not from lineage of Aaron. Instead. it is said of Him, “You are a priest forever, after the order of Melchizedek.” (Hebrews 7:17) There are several places in the Gospels where Jesus exercised His law-making authority while still fulfilling all the Law and the prophets.

As for this book of Deuteronomy, we find it bursting through, into the New Testament, in such places as the prohibition of personal revenge (Deuteronomy 32:35, Romans 12:19), and Deuteronomy 30:14, “But the word is very near you. It is in your mouth and in your heart, so that you can do it.”, Romans 10:8, “But what does it say? ‘The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart’ (that is, the word of faith that we proclaim) …

Jesus in Monotheism 

Perhaps the most famous verse is Deuteronomy 6:4, “Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one.” This proclamation firmly establishes the Israelites and Christians as monotheistic. This message is at the very heart of God’s message to Israel, and all who have been grafted into the “true vine” (John 15:1). So, surely, Jesus is in this verse. How could He not be, if it is only one of the most salient verses in the whole of Scripture, but where is He?

Deuteronomy 6:4 is so foundational that Jesus quoted it to the Pharisees when asked what the greatest commandment was (Matthew 22:36-40). So this seems to be a good spot to dig in to discover Jesus. 

Hear, O Israel.” The obvious intent of this passage is to be spoken. “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.” (John 1:14)  

The second part of this passage is, “The LORD our God, the LORD is one.” Historic, orthodox Christian monotheism says that the one divine essence equally belongs to three distinct divine persons: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. We clearly see this in the passage, “The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ and the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.” (2 Corinthians 13:14) Therefore, Jesus in firmly seen in Deuteronomy 6:4. 

Wrap-Up

Well, we’ve certainly seen Jesus in Deuteronomy. In the second part of Jesus in Deuteronomy, we will see Jesus in shields. I hope to see you then!

Photo by Birmingham Museums Trust on Unsplash

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The Rock of Numbers

Eastern Gate in Jerusalem

Then Jesus took them through the writings of Moses and all the prophets, explaining from all the Scriptures the things concerning himself. – Luke 24:27  

Today we are wrapping up our excavation of the Book of Numbers. We have certainly found Jesus in the pages of this book, but we’re not done. Walk with me as I return to the time of the Israelites during their wilderness journey. Let’s discover more places where Jesus was foreshadowing His earthly ministry. 

Jesus in Assignments

Foreshadow: When their names were recorded, as the LORD had commanded through Moses,each man was assigned his task and told what to carry. And so the registration was completed, just as the LORD had commanded Moses. (Numbers 4:49

The Church: But as it is, God arranged the members in the body, each one of them, as he chose (1 Corinthians 12:18).”

Jesus Returns From East to West

The esteemed location: From Job 23:8,9 we know that the term kedem properly means that which is before or in front of a person. This word is used to designate “East”. Therefore, for the Israelites in the wilderness the directions East, West, North, and South were called “Before,” “Behind,” “Right,” and “Left.” So from Numbers 3:28 we learn the most prominent location, “The area in front of the Tabernacle, in the east toward the sunrise, was reserved for the tents of Moses and of Aaron and his sons.” 

The return of Jesus:For as the lightning flashes from the east, and is seen even to the west, so will be the coming of the Son of Man (Matthew 24:27).

Here are a few examples of God prophetically pointing us to the East, from where Jesus will return: “Then he led me to the gate, the gate facing east.” (Ezekiel 43:1); “As the glory of the LORD entered the temple by the gate facing east,” (Ezekiel 43:4). The idea of a gate on the eastern side as the principal entrance to the court of the sanctuary goes back to the days of the tabernacle (Exodus 27:13-16). 

The Old City of Jerusalem is surrounded by a wall containing eight major gates. Moving counterclockwise from the northern-most gate are Herod’s Gate, the Damascus Gate, the New Gate, Jaffa Gate, Zion Gate, the Dung Gate, the Eastern Gate, and the Lions’ Gate. 

The Eastern Gate of Jerusalem is also called the Golden Gate or the Beautiful Gate (Acts 3:2). In Hebrew, it is Sha’ar Harahamim, the “Gate of Mercy. The Eastern Gate faces the Mount of Olives across the Kidron Valley. When Jesus entered Jerusalem from the Mount of Olives in Matthew 21. He would have used the Eastern Gate built during the time of Nehemiah (Nehemiah 3:29).

That Rock was Christ

We learn from the Apostle Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians that Jesus was with the Israelites during their time in the wilderness. Paul writes, by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, in 1 Corinthians 10:1-5:

For I do not want you to be ignorant of the fact, brothers and sisters, that our ancestors were all under the cloud and that they all passed through the sea. They were all baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea. They all ate the same spiritual food and drank the same spiritual drink; for they drank from the spiritual rock that accompanied them, and that rock was Christ. Nevertheless, God was not pleased with most of them; their bodies were scattered in the wilderness.

Means of Grace

Once again we’ve seen Jesus in the book of Numbers. I hope we are more acutely aware that all the Scriptures speak to us about Jesus, our Savior.  As believers, we also have to walk in the wilderness, for our wilderness is our journey from our regeneration (Ephesians 2:8-10) to the completion of our race (2 Timothy 4:7), leaving this world and joining Jesus in heaven. Plagued, as we are, by the deceptions and enticements of the world, we should avail ourselves of the “means of grace” God has provided for sustaining us throughout this journey.

The “means of grace” are ministries that God uses to convert, bless, and strengthen His people. These “means” include the reading and preaching of God’s Word (Romans 10:15), prayer, singing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs (Acts 16:25, Ephesians 5:19; Colossians 3:16), baptism (Acts 22:16), being filled with the Spirit (Ephesians 5:18), and our participation in the Eucharist/Communion/Lord’s Supper (1 Corinthians 11:26).

Next time we will discover Jesus in the book of Deuteronomy

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Book of Numbers

archeologists

Then Jesus took them through the writings of Moses and all the prophets, explaining from all the Scriptures the things concerning himself. 

Luke 24:27

The Book of Numbers

As we have done with previous sites, we need to provide some Biblical context for our new excavation site. By now we must have learned that artifacts without God’s Word remain just a pile of dry bones. But oh, when God speaks!

Pioneers

Our search for Jesus in the book of Numbers requires us to use different excavation tools than we’ve used at other sites. Why? Because the whole contents of the book of Numbers is a singular type. This book testifies to the Church in the wilderness. As we shall see in greater detail, the Church, and therefore you and I, are pioneers, “fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” (Hebrews 12:2)

Christ Jesus, as the pioneer, made the way for us to join him and participate in His work, through Him. Even though victory was secured at the cross, His Church is still in this world and therefore in a spiritual war. “God’s purpose in all this was to use the church to display his wisdom in its rich variety to all the unseen rulers and authorities in the heavenly places. This was his eternal plan, which he carried out through Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Ephesians 3:10-11)  And now, for a little while, we are at war. Not against people, for people are made in the image of God, but against “principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.” (Ephesians 6:12)

The unseen heavenly host of rulers and authorities, along with the saints that have completed their race, comprise a great cloud of witnesses (Hebrews 12:1), cheering us on as we fulfill our assigned roles in God’s kingdom, pressing forward for the joy that the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob has set before us.

Choreographed

The difficulties, battles, and temptations which the Church faces, have been choreographed to us through the Israelites travail in their

The difficulties, battles, and temptations the Church faces have been choreographed to us through the Israelites’ travails on their wilderness journey from Egypt to Canaan. Their wilderness journey speaks to the journey of “the bride, the wife of the Lamb.” (Revelation 21:9)

The descendants of the Jews that entered the Promised Land will someday recognize their Messiah, Jesus, and take their rightful place within the Church.  The Jewish voices, as recorded in the book of Numbers, tell the Church to be on guard, to be sure that we are near God’s “tabernacle”, that we learn our assigned tasks and we do them as unto the Lord.

“So the Israelites did everything just as the Lord had commanded Moses.” (Numbers 1:54

“So the people of Israel did everything as the Lord had commanded Moses. Each clan and family set up camp and marched under their banners exactly as the Lord had instructed them.” (Number 2:34)

 There was a time in their wilderness journey that the Israelites did as the Lord commanded. We often forget that. We just remember their disobedience. Now, for those of us that have asked and been made bondservants of Christ, let us be obedient until our end, remembering what the writer of Hebrews wrote in Hebrews 12:18-25

For you have not come to a mountain that can be touched and that is burning with fire; to darkness, gloom, and storm; to a trumpet blast or to a voice that made its hearers beg that no further word be spoken. For they could not bear what was commanded: “If even an animal touches the mountain, it must be stoned.” The sight was so terrifying that even Moses said, “I am trembling with fear.”

Instead, you have come to Mount Zion, to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem. You have come to myriads of angels in joyful assembly, to the congregation of the firstborn, enrolled in heaven. You have come to God the Judge of all, to the spirits of the righteous made perfect, to Jesus the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood that speaks a better word than the blood of Abel.

See to it that you do not refuse Him who speaks. For if the people did not escape when they refused Him who warned them on earth, how much less will we escape if we reject Him who warns us from heaven?

Wrap Up

Well, I think we’re ready to dust off the book of Numbers and find Jesus in this book. Until then, I pray this blessing upon all God’s people:

Numbers 6:22-27:
The LORD spoke to Moses, saying, “Speak to Aaron and his sons, saying, Thus you shall bless the people of Israel: you shall say to them,
The LORD bless you and keep you;
the LORD make his face to shine upon you and be gracious to you;
the LORD lift up his countenance upon you and give you peace.
“So shall they put my name upon the people of Israel, and I will bless them.”

Photo: Mario Modesto Mata / CC BY-SA (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)

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Passover and the Feast of Unleavened Bread

Jewish Seder

Then Jesus took them through the writings of Moses and all the prophets, explaining from all the Scriptures the things concerning himself. 

Luke 24:27

Passover

Previously, we found the Passover in Exodus, chapter twelve, and the Day of Atonement in Leviticus, chapter sixteen both foreshadowing the coming Messiah, Jesus. Now we will search for Jesus in the Passover ceremony and the Feast of Unleavened Bread, both found in Leviticus, chapter twenty-three.

As we find in the Old Testament, Passover is the first day of the seven-day Feast of Unleavened Bread (Chag HaMatzot). For Hasidic and Orthodox Jews this feast lasts eight days. We know that as time passed from the original “Pass Over” meal in Egypt, the Jewish Passover has become very ritualized, so much so that the Jewish Passover is now called the Seder meaning “order.”   The Passover meal includes unleavened bread, wine, bitter herbs, the Passover lamb, and the singing hymns, all intended to remind each generation of Jews how God delivered them from slavery in Egypt.

When God told Moses to get the Israelites out of Egypt, His message to Moses purposely didn’t give the Jews time to make “normal” bread for their “last supper” in Egypt. Did we just see Jesus? Yes, I think we did.

As believers in the Lamb of God (John 1:29), we can see the Jewish Passover lamb pointing directly to Jesus and His death on the cross. Many of the “foreshadows of Jesus” that we find in the Old Testament are not immediately obvious. The Passover is obvious, it is overt, you just can’t miss the Passover lamb pointing to the Perfect Lamb of God. With verses, such as the following, we clearly see Jesus in the Passover:

  • John 1:36, “and he looked at Jesus as he walked by and said, “Behold, the Lamb of God!”
  • 1 Corinthians 5:7, “Cleanse out the old leaven that you may be a new lump, as you really are unleavened. For Christ, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed.”
  • 1 Peter 1:19, “But with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without blemish or spot.”

Feast of Unleavened Bread

In the first month, on the fourteenth day of the 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; for seven days you shall eat unleavened bread.” – Leviticus 23:5-6

When we look at the Feast of Unleavened Bread we find that it commemorates the Israelites’ affliction in Egypt (Exodus 3:7) and their journey through the wilderness. At the beginning of their exodus, before God provided them with manna, the Jews ate unleavened bread. By this change in the Jewish diet we see the Jews leaving their sinful world (leavened bread) to a time of God-ordained preparation, purging worldliness from their lives (unleavened bread), and then entering into God’s provision (manna), sustained by Yahweh Jireh, the Lord will provide (Genesis 22:14).

In God’s Word, leaven is commonly, but not always, associated with sin or worldliness and the Feast of Unleavened Bread is used by God to remind His chosen people how difficult it is to get sin “out of your house.” Not only does, “A little leaven leavens the whole lump” (Galatians 5:9), but cleaning leaven out of your house is nearly impossible because yeast floats in the air.

We find Jesus in the unleavened bread for He is sinless, untouched by the worldliness which leaven represents. Also, leaven represents death and corruption. Leavened bread quickly becomes moldy and decays. The body of Jesus did not decay for the Bible states in Acts 13:27, “but he whom God raised up did not see corruption.” 

We read in Exodus 3:7 that unleavened bread is called the bread of affliction. Also, we read in Isaiah 53:4-5:

Surely he has borne our griefs
    and carried our sorrows;
yet we esteemed him stricken,
    smitten by God, and afflicted.
But he was pierced for our transgressions;
    he was crushed for our iniquities;
upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace,
    and with his wounds we are healed.

Identified with Affliction

unleavened bread

Photo credit: Sangjun Yi on Visual hunt / CC BY-NC-SA

The unleavened bread that the Israelites made would have brown splotches from being baked in wood-fired or dung-fired, portable ovens (uneven heat). These are said to represent Christ’s bruising and wounds. When we partake of unleavened bread during the Last Supper / Eucharist / Communion, we identify ourselves with the suffering and afflictions that Jesus took on our behalf. Notice that we do no work in our sanctification. It’s all about Jesus: “But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior.” (Titus 3:4-6)

More About the Feast

Since the first day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread is the Passover meal, all leaven (sin) must be removed before the Passover. To get yeast (leaven) out of their homes, modern Jews vacuum their homes, wipe off all surfaces, and take out of their homes all leavened bread. This is in obedience to God’s command in Exodus 13:7:  “Unleavened bread shall be eaten for seven days; no leavened bread shall be seen with you, and no leaven shall be seen with you in all your territory.

In keeping with leaven being a “type” of sinfulness, we find that no sacrifices to God contain leaven. “No grain offering that you bring to the Lord shall be made with leaven, for you shall burn no leaven nor any honey as a food offering to the Lord.” (Leviticus 2:11).

Chametz

The Jewish tradition of cleaning their home of all chametz (leavened bread/yeast) is called kashering. They search their homes for any trace of chametz. This process usually begins several weeks before the Passover meal – it’s difficult to get sin out of our lives.

On the night before Passover, a ceremonial search for chametz is performed by candlelight by the whole family. This search is called bedikat chametz. Before the search starts, a Hebrew blessing is recited:

Blessed are You, LORD our God, King of the universe, Who sanctifies us with His commandments and commanded us regarding the removal of chametz.

In a kind of “hide and seek”, there is an old custom that ten pieces of chametz are hidden around the home. The whole family searches for the hidden chametz. The ten pieces are symbolic of the ten plagues that God poured out upon Egypt. A feather and a spoon are used to sweep up the last crumbs of leavened bread. Then the next morning, the crumbs of leavened bread, the feather, and the spoon are burned.

Sourdough

A fascinating sighting of Jesus in the Feast of Unleavened Bread has to do with the history baked into leavened bread. In ancient Israel, bread was made by adding yeast (leavening) and by adding a bit of sourdough. 

Sourdough is commonly used as a starter for bread. The sourdough can be a hundred years old, or even more! The sourdough in San Francisco’s famous sourdough bread has existed since the 1800s.

We’ve read about the yeast, but we haven’t considered the starter, the sourdough. Common bread always carried a history in it and that history comes from the sourdough used to get the bread to rise. We, as descendants of Adam, carry the history of Adam’s sin within us; it’s baked in. However, when we are saved, we are born again and become unleavened bread – flour & water. We have no yeast (corruption) and we have no history of sin (sourdough). “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” (Romans 8:1)

Next Time

Next time we move on to the book of Numbers.

Photo by Phil Goodwin on Unsplash

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