A Gentile Passover

The Lord gave Moses and Aaron further instructions in regard to strangers and servants desiring to keep the Passover, that all males must be circumcised. This is why circumcision was such a hot topic in the early church discussion in regards to expectations placed upon gentile believers.

And when a stranger dwells with you and wants to keep the Passover to the Lord, let all his males be circumcised, and then let him come near and keep it; and he shall be as a native of the land. For no uncircumcised person shall eat it.   Exodus 12:48.

Paul resolved the issue:  for he is not a Jew which is one outwardly, nor is circumcision that is outward in the flesh. But he is a Jew which is one inwardly, and circumcision is that of the heart, in the spirit and not in the letter, whose praise is not of men, but of God.     Romans 2:28 & 29.

Note the clear symmetry between the two verses right up to “in the spirit and not in the letter”.  But then Paul adds this final clarification; whose praise is not of men, but of God.

When our heart is circumcised, we can say like Paul: 

For do I now persuade men or God? Or do I seek to please men? For if I yet pleased men, I should not be the servant of Christ.                                  Galatians 1:10.

But as we were allowed of God to be put in trust with the gospel, even so we speak; not as pleasing men but God, which tries our hearts.                   1 Thessalonians 2:4.

Some translations change this to “God, who tries our hearts.” Granted, He certainly does try us, but the point Paul is making is that the test of a circumcised heart is to put ourselves to this question, am I pleasing men or God.  This is the issue which tries our hearts.

Twice Paul makes an interesting statement in 1 Co 1:31 and 2 Co 10:17, “let them that glory, glory in the Lord.”  The statement suggests that he is quoting a verse from the Old Testament. In actuality, he is  paraphrasing a passage from the prophet Jeremiah. Paul is attempting to remind them of instructions he gave while he was with them. 

Paul’s stay in Corinth is chronicled in Acts 18.  He reasoned in the synagogue every Sabbath and persuaded the Jews and the Greeks…then he continued there for 18 months! “teaching the Word of God among them”.   v.11.   

So let’s look at the text from Jeremiah that Paul would have been teaching from to apply this paraphrase he uses “to glory in the Lord.”

Thus saith the Lord, let not the wise glory in his wisdom, neither let the mighty glory in his might, let not the rich glory in his riches: but let him that glories glory in this, that he understands and knows me, that I am the Lord which exercise loving-kindness, judgment and righteousness in the earth; for in these things I delight, saith the Lord.                     Jeremiah 9:23 & 24.

Now let’s jump back over to 1 Corinthians: for you see your calling brethren how that not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble are called; but God has chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty, and base things of the world and things which are despised God has chosen, yes and the things which are not to bring to naught things that are; that no flesh shall glory in His presence.                                                                                                        1 Corinthians 1:26-29.

Try to set aside the obvious inference that the church is made up of foolish, weak, base and despised members and hear the echo of Jeremiah 9 in this passage. So what was Paul teaching on by using Jeremiah 9 as his text?   Let’s continue through the final two verses:

Behold, the days come says the Lord, that I will punish all of them which are circumcised with the uncircumcised, and all that are in the utmost corners, that dwell in the wilderness: for all these nations are uncircumcised, and all the house of Israel are uncircumcised in the heart.   Jeremiah 9:25&26.

In the time of Jeremiah, all the people of Israel had become blind to God’s Word.  Even as Paul wrote to the Corinthians:

For unto this day when Moses is read, the veil is upon their heart. Nevertheless when it (the heart) shall turn to the Lord, the veil shall be taken away. Now the Lord is that Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty.         2  Corinthians 3:15-17.

The blindness of the uncircumcised heart is a paramount issue. For the Lord has set a day when the veil will be lifted from the hearts of Israel. This an opportunity to look at the first of the mysteries of God revealed in Christ that Paul speaks of:

Let a man so account of us as ministers of Christ, and stewards of the mysteries of God. Moreover, it is required in stewards that a man be found faithful.                                               1 Corinthians 4:1&2

In order to be a faithful steward, a saint must know what these mysteries are of which Paul speaks.

For I would not brethren that you should be ignorant of this mystery, less you should be wise in your own conceits, that blindness in part has happened to Israel, until the fullness of the Gentiles be come in.                  Romans 11:25.

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In Remembrance of Me

And He took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave to them, saying, “This is My body which is given for you; do this in remembrance of Me.”  Luke 22:19.

What is the desired outcome (remembrance) of  keeping this command?

For where two or three are gathered together in My name, I am there in the midst of them.     Matthew 18:20.

The fellowship of the saints is not simply a commitment to the memory of Jesus Christ, but to the experience of His presence.  The coming together of the saints is to experience the power of the Holy Spirit. For the word and work of God to manifest is not in man’s ability ‘when they put their heads together’, but from the Lord who binds their hearts in One Spirit.

Christ Our Cornerstone

Now, therefore, you are no longer strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief cornerstone, in whom the whole building, being fitted together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord, in whom you also are being built together for a dwelling place of God in the Spirit.  Ephesians 2:22.

The word and work of Jesus Christ is in heaven, as it is on earth.

But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved),  and raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus. Vs. 5&6.

Only let your conduct be worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that you stand fast in One Spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel.  Philippians 1:27.

 Now I plead with you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment. 1 Corinthians 1:10.

We then, as workers together with Him also plead with you not to receive the grace of God in vain. For He says:

“In an acceptable time I have heard you,

And in the day of salvation I have helped you.”

Behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation.      2 Corinthians 6.

And they continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, in the breaking of bread, and in prayers.  Acts 2:42.

Assuredly, I say to you, whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven. Again I say to you that if two of you agree on earth concerning anything that they ask, it will be done for them by My Father in heaven. For where two or three are gathered together in My name, I am there in the midst of them.              Matthew 18:18.

 

The First Memorial

So this day shall be to you a memorial; and you shall keep it as a feast to the Lord throughout your generations. You shall keep it as a feast by an everlasting ordinance.     Exodus 12:14.

The first memorial found in the Law of Moses is to perpetuate the memory of the night The Lord struck down all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, while ‘passing over’ the houses of Israel having the blood of the lamb on the doorposts and lintel.

The intent and purpose of this memorial feast is given as an answer to a question anticipated from the children of the household.

And it shall be, when your children say to you, ‘What do you mean by this service?’ that you shall say, ‘It is the Passover sacrifice of the Lord, who passed over the houses of the children of Israel in Egypt when He struck the Egyptians and delivered our households.’ So the people bowed their heads and worshiped.  Exodus 12:26&27.

In passing over the firstborn of man and beast among the people of Israel, a special relationship was established between the Lord and the firstborn, and the consideration of this fact carries over to the feast of unleavened bread.

Then the Lord spoke to Moses, saying, Consecrate to Me all the firstborn, whatever opens the womb among the children of Israel, both of man and beast; it is Mine. 

And it shall be, when the Lord brings you into the land of the Canaanites, as He swore to you and your fathers, and gives it to you, that you shall set apart to the Lord all that open the womb, that is, every firstborn that comes from an animal which you have; the males shall be the Lord’s.              Exodus 13:1, 12,13.

Thus, the firstborn males who open the womb became the purchased possession of the Lord. This also was established as a memorial for every generation.  The Passover and the Feast of Unleavened Bread are linked for this purpose, to perpetuate this memory. 

And you shall tell your son in that day, saying, This is done because of what the Lord did for me when I came up from Egypt.  It shall be as a sign to you on your hand and as a memorial between your eyes, that the Lord’s law may be in your mouth; for with a strong hand the Lord has brought you out of Egypt.  You shall therefore keep this ordinance in its season from year to year.  Exodus 13:8-10.

Many consider the observance of the Passover to commemorate the children of Israel coming out from Egypt and the deliverance from the bondage of slavery. This is actually given as the basis for keeping the Sabbath.

Observe the Sabbath day, to keep it holy, as the Lord your God commanded you.  And remember that you were a slave in the land of Egypt, and the Lord your God brought you out from there by a mighty hand and by an outstretched arm; therefore the Lord your God commanded you to keep the Sabbath day.   Deuteronomy 5:12-15.

The feasts include special Sabbath Days for this observance. This makes the following exchange between Jesus Christ and the Jewish citizens of Jerusalem all the more fascinating.

The Truth Shall Make You Free

Then Jesus said to those Jews who believed Him, If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed.  And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free. They answered Him, “We are Abraham’s descendants, and have never been in bondage to anyone. How can You say, ‘You will be made free’?  Jesus answered them, “Most assuredly, I say to you,whoever commits sin is a slave of sin.  And a slave does not abide in the house forever, but a son abides forever. Therefore if the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed.   John 8:31-36.

The intended memory to perpetuate in the keeping of the Sabbath failed to produce the desired remembrance!

A Spirit made Willing

And they came, every one whose heart stirred him up, and every one whom his spirit made willing, and they brought the LORD’S offering to the work of the tabernacle of the congregation, and for all his service, and for the holy garments.                  Exodus 35:21.

The children of Israel brought a willing offering unto the LORD, every man and woman, whose heart made them willing to bring for all manner of work, which the LORD had commanded to be made by the hand of Moses.                                                 Exodus 35:29.

Then the people rejoiced, for that they offered willingly, because with perfect heart they offered willingly to the LORD: and David the king also rejoiced with great joy.                           1 Chronicles 29:9.

When the Holy Spirit fell on the day of Pentecost, a miracle occurred which had happened only briefly in the lives of God’s people in the past. The disciples numbered approximately 120 in the upper room that day. Immediately after they received the gift of the Holy Spirit corporately, there were added about 3,000 souls! Even more impressive than the numbers though, was the immediate change of heart.

And all that believed were together, and had all things common; and sold their possessions and goods, and parted them to all, as every man had need.                                 Acts 2:44,45.

And the multitude of them that believed were of one heart and of one soul: neither said any of them that ought of the things which he possessed was his own; but they had all things common.                                               Acts 4:32.

So we see the need of God’s Spirit to move for people to have a willing heart; to build the tabernacle in the wilderness, to prepare for Solomon to build a Temple, and for the saints to build a New House for God in the body of Christ.

In these last days, will our hearts be willing when God pours out His Spirit?

Thy people shall be willing in the day of thy power, in the beauties of holiness from the womb of the morning: thou hast the dew of thy youth.                                  Psalm 110:3.

 

The Blasphemy of a Messiah

At once he began to preach in the synagogues that Jesus is the Son of God.   Acts 9:20.

How much significance should be placed on this point that Paul immediately began to preach in the synagogues that Jesus is the Son of God.

First, consider the evidence that came out at the trial of Jesus Christ.

Then came Jesus forth, wearing the crown of thorns, and the purple robe. And Pilate said unto them, Behold the man! When the chief priests therefore and officers saw him, they cried out, saying, Crucify him, crucify him.

Pilate saith unto them, Take ye him, and crucify him: for I find no fault in him.  

The Jews answered him, We have a law, and by our law he ought to die, because he made himself the Son of God.           John 19:5-7.

At a public trial, the testimony of His accusers was that Jesus must die for claiming to be the Son of God. Now the man who was previously persecuting the church, one of high esteem among the religious leadership, was preaching this very thing! This is an extraordinary turn of events, that the one who was identified and accepted by the original disciples as the “apostle to the gentiles”, would first boldly preach in the synagogues of every place he visited.

For many have come before and after claiming to be a messiah, a fact of which is much attested. For messianic Jews to simply proclaim Yeshua haMashiach in Israel or anywhere in the world in nothing new under the sun.  If you want to stir up the status quo, preach the Son of God. 

Then stood there up one in the council, a Pharisee, named Gamaliel, a doctor of the law, had in reputation among all the people, and commanded to put the apostles forth a little space; And said unto them, Ye men of Israel, take heed to yourselves what ye intend to do as touching these men.  For before these days rose up Theudas, boasting himself to be somebody; to whom a number of men, about four hundred, joined themselves: who was slain; and all, as many as obeyed him, were scattered, and brought to nought. After this man rose up Judas of Galilee in the days of the taxing, and drew away much people after him: he also perished; and all, even as many as obeyed him, were dispersed. And now I say unto you, Refrain from these men, and let them alone: for if this counsel or this work be of men, it will come to nought: But if it be of God, ye cannot overthrow it; lest haply ye be found even to fight against God.                                 Acts 5:34-39.

It is noteworthy that this same Gamaliel was the headmaster of the school of the Pharisees where Saul trained. (Acts 22:3). And who was the one man that disregarded this advice and set off on a murderous rampage against the church?  Irony!

Before appearing at the judgment seat of Pilate, Jesus was examined by the High Priest, along with the scribes and elders. Many false witnesses came forward to accuse Jesus, but none of the charges held. Then the High Priest played his trump card:

But Jesus held his peace. And the high priest answered and said unto him, I adjure thee by the living God, that thou tell us whether thou be the Christ, the Son of God. Jesus saith unto him, Thou hast said: nevertheless I say unto you, Hereafter shall ye see the Son of man sitting on the right hand of power, and coming in the clouds of heaven. Then the high priest rent his clothes, saying, He hath spoken blasphemy; what further need have we of witnesses? behold, now ye have heard his blasphemy. What think ye? They answered and said, He is guilty of death.                                  Matthew 26:63-66.

And so the religious authorities found Jesus guilty of blasphemy and worthy of death for claiming to be the Son of God. Then Saul, upon his conversion immediately preached this in the synagogues, thereby, bringing the same charge against himself. Then he gave this testimony of himself before his conversion..

Who was before a blasphemer, and a persecutor, and injurious: but I obtained mercy, because I did it ignorantly in unbelief.                                                 1 Tim 1:13.

This is his conversion, to embrace what was called blasphemy, and reject what was before:

I am verily a man which am a Jew, born in Tarsus, a city in Cilicia, yet brought up in this city at the feet of Gamaliel, and taught according to the perfect manner of the law of the fathers, and was zealous toward God, as ye all are this day.                                Acts 22:3.

The Lord Jesus Christ expects us to preach His Blasphemy, for this is the most excellent glory that He received:

For he received from God the Father honor and glory, when there came such a voice to him from the excellent glory, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.              2 Peter 1:17.

Do you say of Him whom the Father sanctified and sent into the world, ‘You are blaspheming,’ because I said, ‘I am the Son of God’?                John 10:36.

The Word of Our Testimony

Who is going to harm you if you are eager to do good? But even if you should suffer for what is right, you are blessed. Do not be afraid or worry about their threats. Instead sanctify Messiah as Lord in your hearts. Always be ready to give an answer to anyone who asks you a reason(logos) for the hope that is in you,  yet with humility and reverence—keeping a clear conscience so that, whatever you are accused of, those who abuse you for your good conduct in Messiah may be put to shame. For it is better to suffer for doing good (if it is God’s will) than for doing evil.                          1 Peter 3:13-17.

We are instructed in this passage to “always be ready to give an answer to anyone who asks for a reason(logos) for the hope that is in you”.  This verse gives an opportunity to gain a deeper understanding of the Greek: logos. Over 65% of the time , logos is simply and banally translated word,  giving us the vaguest notion of the meaning that is being conveyed. We have an expression in English to convey the point of getting to the heart of the matter for clarity in conveying the truth. We say that for “all intents and purposes”, something to be true. The Logos of God conveys in a very pure sense His intent and purpose behind His creation. This is why the Son of God is described by John as “The Word”, The Logos. Because of this fact, Jesus can say of Himself:
I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End. Revelation 22:13.

The Truth that the Son of God is His Logos is fully expressed for “all intents and purposes” in this one verse:

“You are worthy, O Lord, To receive glory and honor and power; For You created all things, and by Your will they exist and were created.”       Revelation 4:11.

Consider now another example where logos is used, but simply translating as “word” failed to convey enough information, so another choice of words is utilized.

The former account I made, O Theophilus, of all that Jesus began both to do and teach, until the day in which He was taken up, after He through the Holy Spirit had given commandments to the apostles whom He had chosen.              Acts 1:1&2.

Here Luke opens his second book by referring to his first book, which we call the Gospel of Luke, as the former account(logos). He refers to his first book as a logos, in which he describes his “intents and purposes”in the opening verses.

Inasmuch as many have taken in hand to set in order a narrative of those things which have been fulfilled among us, just as those who from the beginning were eyewitnesses and ministers of the word delivered them to us, it seemed good to me also, having had perfect understanding of all things from the very first, to write to you an orderly account, most excellent Theophilus(lover and beloved of God), that you may know the certainty of those things in which you were instructed.               Luke 1:1-4.

So we see Luke describe his logos as a narrative “set in order” from first to last to convey a “perfect understanding”. This “orderly account” is to insure the certainty of the things that we are instructed and hold fast to in faith.

Now returning to our primary text, if we are to give “our logos for the hope that is in us”, we must establish ourselves firmly in the context of an orderly account based on a perfect (mature) understanding of the word and work of God in our life.

We are to be judged by what is found of us in “the Lambs Book of Life”. Will there be a full account found there, or will we be just a footnote in someone else’s logos. This is exactly what we are being called to do with our life as a narrative of the Work of His Spirit. This is the correct understanding of the statement: “we overcome by the word(logos) of our testimony.
They overcame him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word(logos) of their testimony, and they did not love their lives even in the face of death.                      Revelation 12:11.

The Firstborn Son of God

And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.  John 1:14.

And He is the head of the body, the church, who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in all things He may have the preeminence.  Colossians 1:18.

To which of the angels did He ever say: “You are My Son,  today I have begotten You”? And again: “I will be to Him a Father, and He shall be to Me a Son”?   But when He again brings His firstborn into the world, He says “Let all the angels of God worship Him.”   Hebrews 1:5&6.

The love of God was revealed among us by this—that God sent His only begotten Son into the world so that we might live through Him.                     1 John 4:9.

God is faithful, by whom you were called into the fellowship of His Son,  Jesus Christ our Lord.    1 Corinthians 1:9.

The Voice gives the Most Excellent Glory

For He received from God the Father honor and glory when The  Voice came to Him from the Excellent Glory: “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.”  And we heard this voice which came from heaven when we were with Him on the holy mountain.         2 Peter 1:17&18.

But when the fullness of the time had come, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the law,  to redeem those who were under the law, that we might receive the adoption as sons. And because you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into your hearts, crying out, “Abba, Father!”  Therefore you are no longer a slave but a son, and if a son, then an heir of God through Christ.   Galatians 4:4-7.

For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren.   Romans 8:29.

The Most Beloved Verses

For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved. He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.                      John 3:16-18.

These are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in His name.       John 20:31.

The First Confession of Faith

Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God.             1 John 4:15.

For whoever is born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith. Who is he who overcomes the world, but he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?       1 John 5:4&5.

Concerning His Son Jesus Christ our Lord, who was born of the seed of David according to the flesh, and declared to be the Son of God with power according to the Spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead.   Romans 1:3&4.

And this is the testimony: that God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son. He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life. These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, that you may know that you have eternal life, and that you may continue to believe in the name of the Son of God.  1 John 5:11-13.