The Memorial of Passover for the witnesses of Israel

In Exodus, the Lord designates the month of departing from Egypt a beginning of months for the witnesses of Israel, and implements an annual observance of the Passover and Feast of Unleavened bread.                                                             Exodus 12:1-3.

Verse 14 says: and this day shall be unto you for a memorial, and you shall keep it a feast to the Lord throughout your generations.

The feast commemorates the night before the exodus when all the first born males of Egypt, both man and beast, were slain; but the children of Israel were passed over, because of the blood of the lamb on the doorposts and lintels.

This feast as a memorial is vital, for the commandment connects this event in the history of Israel with the first of three testimonies from the Word of God concerning their first patriarch Abraham. Just prior to the judgment of Sodom the Lord says this:

for I know him, that he will command his children and his household after him and they shall keep the way of the Lord, to do judgment and righteousness; that the Lord may bring upon Abraham that which He has spoken of him.                                                                                  Genesis 18:19.

Notice that Cornelius in Acts 10 received the same positive review, as a man who not only looked to his own salvation, but his family and household.

Returning to the Lord’s instruction for the Passover in Exodus 12:

and it shall come to pass, when your children shall ask you, what mean you by this service? That you shall say, it is the sacrifice of the Lord’s Passover who passed over the houses of the children of Israel in Egypt, when He smote the Egyptians, and delivered our houses. And the people bowed their heads and worshiped.                                                                                Exodus 12:26 & 27.

The Hebrew word zakar-to remember, that provides the root for both memorial and remembrance, includes the aspect of passing on all things vital, be it worldly wisdom or divine instructions.

This is particularly emphasized for parental instructions to children. This includes the need for elders and leaders of the church to pass on the full gospel apostolic instructions. The apostle Paul wrote to Timothy:

the things that you have heard of me by many witnesses, the same commit you to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also.                           2 Tim 2:2.                                                                                                       In short, the apostolic teachings exist as a Memorial for the church.

And it came to pass, that at midnight the Lord smote all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, from the firstborn of Pharaoh that sat on his throne unto the firstborn of the captive that was in the dungeon; and all the firstborn of cattle.                                                                                                   Exodus 12:29.

God’s most severe judgment against Egypt results in Pharaoh acquiescing to Moses and Aaron, and the Exodus begins with urgency.

It is a night to be much observed unto the Lord for bringing them out from the land of Egypt: this is that night of the Lord to be observed of all the children of Israel in their generations.                                                    Exodus 12:42.

I mentioned previously the testimonies of the Lord concerning Abraham. Before going further let us quickly look at the others

God makes this testimony concerning Abraham: For he is a prophet and he shall pray for you and you shall live.                                                        Genesis 20:7.

This is the first time the Hebrew word nabi-for prophet occurs in scripture and is applied to Abraham, because he stepped into the gap on behalf of Sodom and Gomorrah. The first principle of the Old Testament prophet is to be an intercessor.

The third God-given testimony concerning Abraham is spoken to his son Isaac. The Lord tells Isaac that He intends to perform the oath which He swore unto Abraham, saying “because that Abraham obeyed my voice, and kept my charge, my commandments, my statutes, and my laws.”             Genesis 26:5.
Isn’t it amazing that five centuries before Moses is given the Law, God claims that there was a man who had fulfilled them! Abraham was truly a friend of God. We also can include the words of the angel who stayed Abraham’s hand from slaying Isaac on Moriah, saying “now I know that you fear God, seeing you have not withheld your son, your only son from Me. Genesis 22:12.

God then swore an oath by Himself to fulfill all His promises made to Abraham.

Praise be to God that He gave His only begotten Son for our Salvation!

 

The Memorial of Passover for the strangers and servants

The Lord gave Moses and Aaron further instructions in regard to strangers and servants desiring to keep the Passover, that all the 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.

Paul resolved the issue:                                                                          for he is not a Jew which is one outwardly, neither is that circumcision which 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 do this, 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, let them that glory, glory in the Lord is a paraphrase of a passage from the prophet Jeremiah. Paul is not so much attempting to teach a lesson here, but to stir up their minds by way of remembrance.

By mentioning this he is calling to mind something he no doubt taught on extensively while in Corinth. Why do I say this? Paul’s stay in Corinth is chronicled in Acts:                                                                                  he reasoned in the synagogue every Sabbath and persuaded the Jews and the Greeks. Acts 18:4.

Then he receives from the Lord in a vision by night “be not afraid but speak and hold not thy peace, for I am with you and no man shall set on you to hurt you, for I have much people in this city.”                                                  Acts 18:9 & 10.

And then verse 11 tells us that he continued there for 18 months! “teaching the Word of God among them”.

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 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:

even 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 will be an opportunity to look at the first of the mysteries of God Paul speaks about:

let a man so account of us as of the ministers of Christ, and stewards of the mysteries of God. Moreover it is required in stewards that a man be found faithful.                                                                                                          1 Co 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 is happened to Israel, until the fullness of the Gentiles be come in.                              Romans 11:25.

 

Memorial of the Firstborn

The Lord spoke unto Moses; sanctify unto me all the firstborn…remember this day you came out of Egypt, for the Lord brought you out with a strong hand, therefore you shall not eat with leaven….for seven days…and you shall tell your son in that day “This is done because of that which the Lord did unto me when he brought me out of Egypt. Exodus 13:1-8, abbrev.

And it shall be for a sign unto you upon your hand and for a memorial before 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.                                                     Exodus 13:9.

After destroying all the firstborn males of Egypt and sparing Israel, both of man and beast, the Lord claims all the firstborn males who open the womb as His own possession. To eat bread without leaven for seven days is to acknowledge what God sanctifies unto Himself as an ordinance forever. These commandments are for a memorial to the strong hand of the Lord in our life, to direct our actions in accordance with His ways, not our own ability.

And it shall be when your son asks you in time to come, what is this? You shall say unto him, with a strong hand the Lord brought us out of Egypt, the house of slavery…..therefore I sacrifice to the Lord every male that opens the womb but all the firstborn of my children I redeem.                                 Exodus 13:14, 15.

The Lord displays His strong hand in judgment against the strength of man as a display of sovereignty. “For the weakness of God is stronger than men.”  1 Corinthians 1:25.     

This perception of man invested in the first born male is clearly understood in the words of Jacob in his final blessing upon his sons.

Reuben you my firstborn, my might and the beginning of my strength, the excellency of dignity and the excellency of power.                                     Genesis 49:3.

“The beginning of my strength” is the expression of a man’s virility.             He smote all the firstborn in their land, the chief of all their strength. Psalm 105:36.

On the other hand, God displays His might and the beginning of His strength in creation:                                                                                               Lift up your eyes on high and behold who has created these things, who brings out their host by number; He calls them all by names by the greatness of His might, for that He is strong in power, not one fails.               Isaiah 40:26.

Moreover, this perception of the firstborn male is an expression of the pride of man. In this context, the Lord invests Israel before the witness of Pharaoh (the false man-god) with a severe warning:

And you shall say unto Pharaoh, thus saith the Lord, Israel is my son, my firstborn, and I say unto you; let my son go that he may serve me, and if you refuse to let him go, behold, I will slay your son, your firstborn.      Exodus 4:22&23.

The priesthood had become exclusive to the tribe of Levi after the golden calf incident, and as a result, they took the place of the firstborn redeemed of the Lord.

Behold, I have taken the Levites from among the children of Israel instead of all the firstborn that opens the womb from among the children of Israel, therefore the Levites shall be mine because all the firstborn are mine; for on the day that I smote all the firstborn in the land of Egypt I hallowed unto me all the firstborn in Israel, both man and beast, mine shall they be: I am the Lord.                                                                                                   Numbers 3:12 & 13.

The census established the number of Levite males qualified to serve with Aaron in the priesthood, the sons of Gershon, Kohath, and Merari. The census of the firstborn males totaled 273 souls above that of the qualified Levite males, and these were redeemed by a five shekel per man redemption price.

Take heed to understand that the church is not exclusive to firstborn males of natural childbirth, but the number establishes a limit to the fullness. God has taken for Himself the firstborn as a reflection of the fact that the Son of God is the firstborn of all creation. Thus Hebrews 12:23 refers to the general assembly and church of the firstborn.
In modern day Israel, the government mints a five shekel coin that can be purchased for a family to commemorate a son as the firstborn, by natural childbirth. Family restrictions in some countries, birth control, abortion and cesarean birth all restrict the number of firstborn males who open the womb, and the church of the firstborn.

For Jerusalem will be trampled upon by the gentiles until the time of the gentiles be fulfilled.                                                                                   Luke 21:24.

As well the blindness of Israel shall only continue until the fullness of the gentiles be come in.                                                                                  Romans 11:25.

To be a faithful steward of the mysteries of God is to be aware of this from the scriptures. To what end is all of this concern for the firstborn, what is the Logos of God revealed to us?                                                                                          The Father has qualified us to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light; who has delivered us from the power of darkness and has translated us into the kingdom of His dear Son, in whom we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins. He is the image of the invisible God, the FIRSTBORN OF EVERY CREATURE, for by Him were all things created that are in heaven and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers; all things were created by Him and for Him and He is before all things and by Him all things consist. 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. Even the mystery which has been hidden from ages and from generations, but now is made manifest to his saints, to whom God would make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the gentiles; which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.                                                                          Colossians 1:12-27.

One of the clearest statements of what it means that Jesus Christ, the Son of God is The Logos from the foundation of the cosmos.

You are worthy O Lord to receive glory and honor and power, for you have created all things and for your pleasure they are and were created. Revelations 4:11.

Memorial of Unleavened Bread

Jesus told the disciples to beware of the leaven of the Pharisees, which is their doctrines. The Lord regularly spoke against the traditions of men displacing God’s word as their memorials.

This people draw near unto me with their mouth and honor me with their lips, but their heart is far from me, but in vain they do worship me, teaching for doctrines the ordinances of man.                                                     Matthew 15:8; Isaiah 29:13.

If talk of firstborn sons, unleavened bread and the Torah given to Moses as the Memorials we maintain before God strikes you as odd, your “bread” may have been leavened by the doctrines of men.

Much of Paul’s teaching in regards to the Law has been greatly misconstrued. Paul wrote in Ephesians 2:15 having abolished in His flesh the enmity, “the law of commandments contained in ordinances”…this expression in the Greek “nomos entole en dogma” refers to the place given to commentaries of man. Dogma in English comes directly from the Greek dogma and refers to the opinion of “experts”. Someone is dogmatic when they are devoted to the teachings of a preferred teacher, preacher or guru.

Therefore let us keep the feast not with old leaven neither with leaven of malice and wickedness, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth. 1 Corinthians 5:8.

Paul gave this testimony of himself at Jerusalem in Acts 22:3,” I am verily a man who is a Jew born in Tarsus 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.”

This manner of the law of the fathers went way beyond the study of the law and the prophets, but was thorough in considering the commentaries of experts, known as sages, who often interpreted passages in contrary ways.

Paul is even more direct in writing; blotting out the “handwriting” of ordinances (dogma), which was against us (as a testimony to the doctrines of men), which was contrary to us and took it out of the way, nailing it to His stake.                                                                                              Colossians 2:15.

This is only evident when we are circumcised by the circumcision of Christ (without hands, in the Spirit not the flesh).    That you be not spoiled by the philosophy and tradition of men, which is vain deceit (and conceit), and worldly principles (degrees) which are perishing. Colossians 2:8.

When Paul wrote:for what the Law could not do in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh; the issue is clearly the weakness of the flesh, not the inadequacy of the Law.                                                                 Romans 8:3.

Our carnal man must die for us to fulfill the good and perfect and acceptable Will of God, as expressed by His Torah.                                                    Do we then make void the Law through faith? God Forbid! Yea, we establish the Law!        Romans 3:31.

Only through a correct understanding of Romans 7 can we properly receive from the Spirit in Romans 8. Paul describes our struggle with a carnal nature, and the ineffectiveness of the Law to overcome the “law of sin and death.”

For what I am doing, I do not understand. For what I will to do, that I do not practice; but what I hate, that I do.                                                                                                                                        So now it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me. For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh) nothing good dwells; for to will is present with me, but how to perform what is good I do not find. Now if I do what I will not to do, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells in me.       Romans 7:15-20.

And so we see Paul repeat this word dwell three times to emphasize the nature of sin as a “resident” in my house, who is a homewrecker. The will of sin is contrary to our own and leads us to self-destructive behavior that man was unable to overcome without a Savior. This he purposely presents to serve as a contrast to the point he intends to make in chapter 8. He closes the chapter and builds a bridge to the next with this proclamation:

For I delight in the law of God after the inward man, but I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members.

O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death? I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord. So then with the mind I myself serve the law of God; but with the flesh the law of sin.                 Romans 7:22-25.

Only now, with a thorough understanding of chapter 7 can a disciple grasp the victory described in chapter 8. Many times I have heard preaching directly from Romans 8 that if you accept Jesus Christ as your Savior, the Holy Spirit dwells in you by faith. This is not the point that Paul was trying to make at all. This is not “the Bible says it, I believe it, that settles it” theology.

But you are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his. Romans 8:9.

We now see Paul using the same word that he used three times in Romans 7, to say that if the Spirit of God directs your will the way the sin nature did before, then you will walk in victory.

But if the Spirit of him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, he that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies by his Spirit that dwells in you.                                                                   Romans 8:11.

When he says “by his Spirit that dwells in you”, he implies that the Spirit is dwelling with you in harmony and cooperation. This is what the Lord and the apostle John referred to as “abiding in” the Spirit.

For if you live according to the flesh you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live.  For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God.                                                   Romans 8:13,14.

I say then: Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh. For the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; and these are contrary to one another, so that you do not do the things that you wish. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law.           Galatians 5:16-18.                                                                                    Now therefore fear the Lord and serve Him in sincerity and in truth, and put away the gods which your fathers served on the other side of the flood and in Egypt, and serve the Lord.                                                                 Joshua 24:14.

Remembrance of an Everlasting Covenant

Surely you shall not be moved forever; the righteous shall be in everlasting remembrance.                                                                                   Psalm 112:6.

We remain in everlasting remembrance based on the relationship established by the everlasting covenants that exist between God and His creation. After the flood, righteous Noah and his family stood as witnesses to the first blood covenant recorded in Genesis 9. We begin to understand the need for Christ to shed His blood for our sanctification and redemption beginning with the terms of this covenant.

After six hundred years man had corrupted his ways upon the earth to bring God’s first judgment by water. On the first day of the six hundred and first year Noah exited the ark along with all the animals that were delivered from destruction. Gen 8:13. God then blessed Noah and his sons giving them commandment to go replenish the earth. Gen 9:1. It was at this time that man was granted permission to eat the flesh of animals with one critical restriction.

But you shall not eat the flesh with the blood.                                         Genesis 9:4.

The apostles at Jerusalem confirmed the gentile churches and aligned with Paul in not requiring circumcision and the keeping of the Levitical laws. They did demand four ordinances be kept by all believers; that they abstain from pollution of idols and fornication and things strangled and from blood.      Acts 15:20.

The everlasting covenants are blood covenants and the basis for understanding this is Genesis 9.

And surely your blood of your lives will I require at the hand of every beast will I require and at the hand of man; at the hand of every man’s brother will I require the life of man. Whoever sheds man’s blood shall his blood be shed for man was made in the image of God.                                          Genesis 9:5 & 6.

God then gave the rainbow to be the token of an everlasting covenant with not only man, but all of the earth.

I do set my bow in the cloud and it shall be for a token of a covenant between me and the earth.                                                                          Genesis 9:13.

And the bow shall be in the cloud and I will look upon it that I may remember the everlasting covenant between God and every living creature of all flesh that is upon the earth.                                                           Genesis 9:16.

It is time for the church to fully grasp the nature of this perpetual agreement in order to have a right understanding of the covenants that form the basis for their relationship with God. Consider the serious nature of God’s covenant with the earth from Isaiah’s horrifying vision of judgment.

The land shall be utterly emptied and utterly spoiled for the Lord has spoken this word. The earth mourns and fades away, the world languishes and fades away, and the arrogant people of the earth do languish. The earth also is defiled under the inhabitants thereof because they have transgressed the laws, changed the ordinances and broken the everlasting covenant. Therefore the curse has devoured the earth and they that dwell therein are desolate; therefore the inhabitants of the earth are burned and few men are left.                                                                                                         Isaiah 24:3-6.

And how has the earth been defiled? By pollution? By waste? By radiation? Think again. By the spiritual principles of the Bible the earth is defiled by fornication, sacrifices to idols and false gods and the shedding of innocent blood. Man can clean up a toxic waste site, but only by blood can a land be cleansed of blood.

This is the terms of the everlasting covenant; that God would require blood for blood. Only by the shed blood of the Messiah can man be redeemed from the curses of a covenant violation.

The judgment is foreshadowed in the way God dealt with Judah in the time of Jeremiah. This same standard of judgment awaits a church that turns from the everlasting covenants, for judgment must begin with the house of God. (1 Peter 4:17.)

Trust not in lying words saying the temple of the Lord, the temple of the Lord…                                                                                                   Jeremiah 7:4.

Simply being a church member is no more insurance than having the temple of the one true God in your capital city.

Will you steal murder commit adultery and swear falsely, and follow other gods and come stand before me in this house which is called by my name… which has become a den of robbers…therefore pray not for this people. Jeremiah 7:8-16.

There comes a time when true intercessors can no longer pray for the church in general because the curse of another gospel is being taught within her buildings.

And nations are angry and your wrath has come and the time of the dead; that they should be judged and that you should give reward unto your servants the prophets and to the saints and them that fear your name small and great; and that you should destroy them which corrupt and destroy the earth.                                                                                                  Revelation 11:18.

The second everlasting covenant became the most controversial and divisive issue for the New Testament congregations. In Genesis 17 God changed Abram’s name to Abraham to establish His everlasting covenant with him. God commanded that circumcision of every male be the token of that covenant.

He that is born into your house and he that is purchased must be circumcised and my covenant shall be in your flesh for an everlasting covenant.                                                                                                    Genesis 17:13.

The apostle Paul was tasked by the Holy Spirit to set this issue in order for the church and is addressed extensively in his letters. The key to a right understanding is in the verse I just included: my covenant shall be in your flesh.

The Law of Moses included commandments pertaining to circumcision, while also acknowledging there was a spiritual component to a full understanding of the covenant law.

Jesus used this as a point to illustrate the greater spiritual truth in understanding the Word of God.

Moses gave unto you circumcision, not because it is of Moses but of the fathers, and you on the Sabbath day circumcise a male. If circumcision is performed on the Sabbath day that the Law of Moses should not be broken, why be angry with me for healing a man on the Sabbath? Judge not according to appearance but judge righteous judgment.                               John 7:22-24.

The need to ultimately be circumcised in the heart is addressed in the book of Deuteronomy.

Circumcise the foreskins of your heart and be no more stiff necked. Deuteronomy 10:16.

And the Lord your God will circumcise your heart and the heart of your children to love the Lord your God with all your heart and all your soul that you may live.                                                                                     Deuteronomy 30:6.

With this in mind we will skip Paul’s in depth arguments and go directly to his conclusions.

Circumcision or uncircumcision is not what matters, but obedience to God.   1 Corinthians 7:19.

For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision avails anything, but faith working by love.                                                                    Galatians 5:6

For we are the circumcision which worship God in the spirit and rejoice in Christ Jesus and have no confidence in the flesh.                                  Philippians 3:3.

 

Memorial of Mary of Bethany

Jesus said, Verily I say unto you, wherever this gospel shall be preached throughout the whole world, this also that she has done shall be spoken of for a memorial of her. Mark 14:9; Matthew 26:13.

Ironically, in these two accounts, the words are spoken on behalf of an unnamed woman who came in during a dinner with Jesus at the table. “There came a woman having an alabaster box of very precious ointment and poured it on His head.”  The gospel of John fills in the missing pieces. Chapter 12 of his gospel identifies the woman as Mary, the sister of Martha, and Lazarus, who Jesus raised from the dead. Martha is serving the dinner.

This set the stage for Jesus to enter Jerusalem, for word of Lazarus having been raised from the dead had ignited the large crowds on hand for the Passover. The chief priests consulted to also see Lazarus put to death, because by reason of him many of the Jews believed in Jesus.

We are also informed by John 11:2 it was Mary who anointed the Lord with ointment and wiped his feet with her hair. This account is found in           Luke 7:37-50. The Lord uses this opportunity to make a very important point: “to whom little is forgiven, loves little.

This is not to say that some people are less of a sinner and need less forgiveness, but some fail to acknowledge their condition and need for reconciliation with God. The Pharisee saw himself as having a relationship with God, while looking down on Mary as a sinner. Thus she is told; “your sins are forgiven”, and “your faith has saved you, go in peace.”

In Luke 10:38-42, we find another narrative involving Mary and Martha, with Jesus a guest in their home. Martha was busy with much serving while her sister sat at Jesus’ feet and heard His word. Martha exclaimed, “Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Bid her to come help me.” To which Jesus replied unto her, “Martha, Martha, you are careful and troubled about many things but one thing is needful, and Mary has chosen that good part, which shall not be taken away from her.”

We cannot imagine wrong in someone with a heart to serve, but can see where there is a time for everyone to be still and know the Lord. However, Jesus is not just speaking to a willingness to serve.

We can see a greater concern for someone who is careful and troubled and should fully consider what the Lord is addressing.

The word translated careful here is used by Jesus repeatedly in His sermons, but the more typical translation in the KJV is “take no thought”, and means to be anxious.

Take no thought for your life, what you shall eat or what you shall drink, nor yet for your body, what you shall put on. Is not the life more than meat, and the body than clothing? Take therefore no thought for tomorrow, for tomorrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof.                                                                               Matthew 6:25,34.

Jesus also uses the same word to tell us not to worry about what we should say if our faith is put on trial, saying if we are delivered up, “take no thought how or what you shall speak, for it shall be given you in that same moment what you should speak.”                                                                   Matthew 10:19.

In His parable of the sower and the seed, Jesus describes the seed among thorns as someone who hears His word, but are choked with “cares” of riches and pleasures in life, and brings no fruit to maturity.                   Luke 8:14.

Paul tells us: “be careful” for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which transcends understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.                                             Philippians 4:6 & 7.

Cast all your cares upon Him, for He cares for you.                                            1 Peter 5:7.

 

A Memorial for Lazarus

Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister (Mary) and Lazarus.                         John 11:5.

For a moment in time, the town of Bethany was at the center of God’s story, and these three people were at center stage in the narrative concerning Jesus Christ, the Son of God. We know more about these three people than we do most of the apostles. This chapter in the gospel of John gives the account of Jesus raising Lazarus from the dead. The story told exemplifies the work of Jesus in reconciliation, restoration, and resurrection.

After Lazarus has died and been laid to rest, Jesus returns to Bethany after informing His disciples that the glory of God is about to be revealed unto them, and the Son of God will be glorified. Martha is the first to approach Jesus and says “Lord, if you had been here, my brother had not died.” Jesus tells her “your brother will rise again”, to which she replies, “I know that he shall rise again in the resurrection at the last day”.

Jesus tells her “I am the resurrection and life”, and then asks her if she believes in Him. She then makes the true confession of faith, showing how far she had come in receiving the Gospel. She said unto Him:

Yes Lord, I believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God who would come into the world.                                                                                     John 11:27.

When Mary comes on the scene she is only able to say “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died”, as she continued weeping, along with those who came to comfort her; and Jesus wept with them.        John 11:35.

The witnesses exclaimed, “Behold how He loved him!” Jesus then commands them to take away the stone covering the entrance to the cave where Lazarus was laid. Martha advises Him that he has been dead four days, and expects a foul odor. Jesus then says to her, “Did I not say to you that if you would believe, that you would see the glory of God?” He then calls Lazarus forth from the grave.

The name Lazarus makes for a very interesting study. The name is Greek to English, for the Hebrew name Eleazar, a very prominent character throughout the Old Testament. El ‘Azar means God is helper, and is first identified as the third son of Aaron. The two older sons of Aaron are devoured by the fire of God’s presence when they make an unauthorized offering of incense before the Ark.

By the time of Aaron’s decease, Moses is instructed to strip the garments of the High Priest from Aaron and put them on his son Eleazar. During the conquest of the land of Canaan under Joshua, Eleazar stood before the Ark of the Covenant and oversaw the division of land by lot for each tribe’s inheritance.

During the time of Samuel, another man named Eleazar, son of Abinadab kept the Ark of the Lord at Kirjathjearim twenty years. Later one of David’s mighty men named Eleazar, the son of Dodo the Ahohite is listed as one of the three mighty men with David, who stood against the Philistines when the army of Israel fled, and fought until his sword stuck to his hand and the Lord gave a great victory. The people only returned after to divide the spoil.

During the time of Ezra and the restoration following the Babylonian exile, one of the priests named Eleazar oversaw the return of the silver and gold vessels to the House of God, and a Levite named Eleazar was on hand during the time of Nehemiah and the rebuilding of the wall around Jerusalem. It would seem during the greatest exploits of God’s people, a priest named Eleazar, God has helped, was always present.

In the Gospel of Matthew chapter one, in the genealogy we find Eleazar begat Mattan, and Mattan begat Jacob, and Jacob begat Joseph the husband of Mary, of whom was born Jesus, who is called Christ.                           Matthew 1:15&16.

And finally, in the Gospel of Luke chapter 16, we read an illustrative narrative given by Jesus concerning a poor beggar named Lazarus, who sat at the gate of a certain rich man, full of sores and desiring to be fed with the crumbs that fell from the rich man’s table. Moreover, the dogs came and licked his sores.

How far had man fallen from the place where God was his help? Was Jesus resurrecting more than just an individual when he raised Lazarus from the grave?

Continuing his narrative in Luke, Jesus goes on describe the death of the beggar and the afterlife from the biblical perspective. Lazarus was carried by angels into Abraham’s bosom, a place of comfort. Meanwhile the rich man has also died and sees Lazarus with Abraham and cries out for mercy, for he was in a place of torment in Hades.

Unfortunately, he is admonished by Abraham, and reminded that in his lifetime he received good things while Lazarus suffered evil things, but is now comforted, and you are tormented. “Besides, there is a great gulf fixed between us that cannot be passed.”                                                           Luke 16:19-31.

This description of the afterlife is most startling. I have often wondered what the notion of people dying and going to heaven is based upon. Of course, I don’t doubt the existence of such a place, just preaching that people who are saved by confessing Jesus as their Lord and Savior can expect to go there, if they died tomorrow.

Just saying that the Gospel is never presented in that way by the apostles, and the house of God is built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief cornerstone.                   Ephesians 2:20.

Paul says: if anyone or an angel from heaven preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed. As we said before, so say I now again, if any preach any other gospel unto you that that you have received, let him be accursed.                                          Galatians 1:8 & 9.

Far be it that anyone would bring a curse in preaching “another gospel”, thus we should take the greatest care to be consistent in the message.

Acts 4:1&2 says: and as they spoke unto the people, the priests and the captain of the temple and the Sadducees came upon them, being grieved that they taught the people, and preached through Jesus the resurrection from the dead.

The focus of Jesus’s teaching always centered on the resurrection.

Marvel not at this, for the hour is coming in the which all that are in the graves shall hear the voice of the Son and shall come forth, they that have done good, unto the resurrection of life, and they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of damnation.                                                              John 5:28, 29.

At the time Jesus was saying this, he was claiming that all authority to execute judgment has been given unto him by his Father. To avoid preaching the resurrection is to avoid preaching the judgment.

From Genesis to Revelation, judgment is spoken of nearly 300 times. Paul testified before kings and queens:  “he reasoned with them of righteousness, temperance and judgment to come.”                                                            Acts 24:24, 25.

The Gospel of Jesus Christ is all about the righteous judgment of God. The empowerment of the Holy Spirit is all about being able to live a life that will allow us to stand at the judgment.

The Message is of life everlasting; and a victorious life in the here and now. In so doing we await a new heaven and a new earth wherein abides righteousness.                                                                                                  2 Peter 3:13.