Category Archives: Hebrew Roots / Commands / Law

Yeshua Is The Passover Lamb

As the final days of his earthly ministry were passing, Yeshua led His disciples to prepare to celebrate Passover and the Feast of Unleavened Bread. Think about that for a few moments. Yeshua, God himself living among us, chose to spend some of the closing moments of His brief earthly ministry in preparation of Passover. It was clearly important to him and for good reason.

The timing is not coincidental that Yeshua would be sacrificed for our sins at Passover time. It was intended that way by our Creator. Passover not only reminds us of deliverance from bondage in Egypt but also foreshadows our deliverance from the bondage of sin through the sacrifice of Yeshua on the cross. Yeshua was sacrificed as our Passover lamb… dying for our sins so we can be set free from sin and death.

Mark 14:12-21

The Last Passover

      12On the first day of Unleavened Bread, when the Passover lamb was being sacrificed, His disciples said to Him, “Where do You want us to go and prepare for You to eat the Passover?” 13And He sent two of His disciples and said to them, “Go into the city, and a man will meet you carrying a pitcher of water; follow him; 14and wherever he enters, say to the owner of the house, ‘The Teacher says, “Where is My guest room in which I may eat the Passover with My disciples?”’ 15“And he himself will show you a large upper room furnished and ready; prepare for us there.” 16The disciples went out and came to the city, and found it just as He had told them; and they prepared the Passover.

      17When it was evening He came with the twelve. 18As they were reclining at the table and eating, Jesus said, “Truly I say to you that one of you will betray Me—one who is eating with Me.” 19They began to be grieved and to say to Him one by one, “Surely not I?” 20And He said to them, “It is one of the twelve, one who dips with Me in the bowl. 21“For the Son of Man is to go just as it is written of Him; but woe to that man by whom the Son of Man is betrayed! It would have been good for that man if he had not been born.”

These celebrations are not “Jewish” tradition.  They are not just somehow a meaningless or obsolete instruction from our Creator either. Now we who believe in Yeshua as Messiah have more reason to celebrate it than ever before! Passover and Unleavened Bread are part of God’s tradition for celebrating and remembering our deliverance from sin through Christ! It is a wonderful way to teach our children about the Creator’s relationship with His people.

Exodus 13:6-10

6“For seven days you shall eat unleavened bread, and on the seventh day there shall be a feast to the LORD. 7“Unleavened bread shall be eaten throughout the seven days; and nothing leavened shall be seen among you, nor shall any leaven be seen among you in all your borders. 8“You shall tell your son on that day, saying, ‘It is because of what the LORD did for me when I came out of Egypt.’ 9“And it shall serve as a sign to you on your hand, and as a reminder on your forehead, that the law of the LORD may be in your mouth; for with a powerful hand the LORD brought you out of Egypt. 10“Therefore, you shall keep this ordinance at its appointed time from year to year.

We should enjoy taking part in our Father’s appointed times rather than creating our own based on the traditions of men. It is not just that He tells us to… that got me started to look into it. Now I see how powerfully these celebrations tie into the core element of my faith in Jesus Christ as Savior and what a wonderful way it is to teach my children. As I reflected personally in this regard, it occurred to me. God has some pretty good ideas. (That is quite an understatement!)

I invite you to take some small steps even today to learn more about Passover and the Feast of Unleavened Bread and how it is not only a celebration of YHWH* freeing His people out of slavery in Egypt, but also a celebration of our being freed from bondage to sin through the death and resurrection of Yeshua!

*Note: YHWH is the four letter name of God in the Bible derived from the Hebrew. Because the Hebrew did not record vowel sounds, we no longer know how to pronounce it for sure. It is often pronounced Yehovah or Yahweh today. Interesting history if you want to study it.

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Have you submitted your life to Jesus Christ? If you die today, do you know for sure that you would be with God in heaven? Learn more about salvation through The Message of the Cross.

A Tale Of Two Responses To Christ

Passover and Unleavened Bread are important celebrations to Yeshua (Hebrew for Jesus) and His disciples. Yeshua participated in these holy celebrations and so did his disciples. We see further, that is was important from the fact that Mark includes this explicitly in the timeline of events leading up to Yeshua’s death on the cross and subsequent resurrection. This event was an important part of the timeline for us to understand.

We also get insight in Mark14 into two very different responses to Yeshua. The chief priests, who present themselves to the people as if they are holy and set apart for YHWH’s purposes, are plotting to kill Yeshua… God Himself walking among them. Meanwhile, a humble woman, a “sinner”, comes to anoint him and honor him with very expensive perfume and her own personal time and effort.

This provides a stark contrast that reminds us to use careful discernment in clearly identifying who is following YHWH and honoring him with their lives and who is just playing a part to look holy before the people. To be sure, we should start by looking in the mirror and making sure we have the right attitude toward our Creator.

Mark 14:1-11

Death Plot and Anointing

      1Now the Passover and Unleavened Bread were two days away; and the chief priests and the scribes were seeking how to seize Him by stealth and kill Him; 2for they were saying, “Not during the festival, otherwise there might be a riot of the people.”

      3While He was in Bethany at the home of Simon the leper, and reclining at the table, there came a woman with an alabaster vial of very costly perfume of pure nard; and she broke the vial and poured it over His head. 4But some were indignantly remarking to one another, “Why has this perfume been wasted? 5“For this perfume might have been sold for over three hundred denarii, and the money given to the poor.” And they were scolding her. 6But Jesus said, “Let her alone; why do you bother her? She has done a good deed to Me. 7“For you always have the poor with you, and whenever you wish you can do good to them; but you do not always have Me. 8“She has done what she could; she has anointed My body beforehand for the burial. 9“Truly I say to you, wherever the gospel is preached in the whole world, what this woman has done will also be spoken of in memory of her.”

      10Then Judas Iscariot, who was one of the twelve, went off to the chief priests in order to betray Him to them. 11They were glad when they heard this, and promised to give him money. And he began seeking how to betray Him at an opportune time.

Discern carefully who truly follows after Yeshua and learns from him, changing their lives to be more like him, and who uses Yeshua and the scriptures only to manipulate the message to their own gain and the appearance of holiness. In some cases, they genuinely fool even themselves. Do not be so foolish as to assume anyone in “church” leadership is holy and a true disciple of Yeshua, or that others who are not in those positions are not true disciples.

We all have a choice in how we will respond to Yeshua. Will we reject him entirely, will we pretend to serve him but let wickedness and selfishness reign in us, or will we humbly and faithfully serve him even when others will mock us for it?

How will you choose to respond to his offer of love and personal relationship in your life?

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Have you submitted your life to Jesus Christ? Are you living today filled with the peace and joy of truly knowing and following Jesus Christ? Learn more about salvation through The Message of the Cross.

The Triumphal Entry Into Jerusalem

As Yeshua returned to Jerusalem in Matthew 21:1-11, we can clearly see that he once again points back to the Tanakh (often referred to as the Old Testament) and fulfillment of prophecy as significant. Yeshua was going to Jerusalem to celebrate Passover, once again reinforcing the observance of the commands of God laid out to His people through Moses. Yeshua was also clearly aware, as we read earlier in Matthew, that he was to die, be buried, and rise again. He was going there to suffer and die for all of our sins.

Matthew 21:1-11

1When they had approached Jerusalem and had come to Bethphage, at the Mount of Olives, then Jesus sent two disciples, 2saying to them, “Go into the village opposite you, and immediately you will find a donkey tied there and a colt with her; untie them and bring them to Me. 3“If anyone says anything to you, you shall say, ‘The Lord has need of them,’ and immediately he will send them.” 4This took place to fulfill what was spoken through the prophet:

5“SAY TO THE DAUGHTER OF ZION,
‘BEHOLD YOUR KING IS COMING TO YOU,
GENTLE, AND MOUNTED ON A DONKEY,
EVEN ON A COLT, THE FOAL OF A BEAST OF BURDEN.’”

6The disciples went and did just as Jesus had instructed them, 7and brought the donkey and the colt, and laid their coats on them; and He sat on the coats. 8Most of the crowd spread their coats in the road, and others were cutting branches from the trees and spreading them in the road.

9The crowds going ahead of Him, and those who followed, were shouting,

“Hosanna to the Son of David; BLESSED IS HE WHO COMES IN THE NAME OF THE LORD; Hosanna in the highest!”

10When He had entered Jerusalem, all the city was stirred, saying, “Who is this?” 11And the crowds were saying, “This is the prophet Jesus, from Nazareth in Galilee.”

Yeshua clearly has a supernatural awareness of things around him, else he would not know where the donkey colt was and be able to tell the disciples exactly what to expect when they follow his instructions. The disciples did very well to just obey exactly as Yeshua told them.  Everything worked out as planned. We should take care to do the same… obey God’s instructions as he gives them… without changing them to a way we think may be better or more consistent with our culture.

There is much significance for YHWH in the death and resurrection timing coinciding with Passover. It was intentional. The Passover lamb used as sacrifice to save the Israelites was a foreshadowing of Yeshua’s sacrifice for all of us… paying the price for our sins. In both the Passover and death and resurrection of Christ, YHWH’s people must choose to accept his grace and do so publicly. In Passover, by following YHWH’s instructions including putting lamb’s blood on the door post. In accepting Yeshua, we must repent of our sins, submit to YHWH, and ask him to be Lord and Savior. We must no longer live our way, but his way. That is what it means to submit. Those that truly accept Yeshua as Lord will proclaim Him publicly.

Yeshua points back directly to prophecy recorded in the Tanakh and fulfills it. He honors the Father’s instructions given to us through Moses and observes them every time. In this case he comes to Jerusalem to celebrate Passover.  We should be careful not to quickly dismiss the Tanakh as no longer relevant. Yeshua showed us the opposite! He honored YHWH’s instructions in the Tanakh and so should we.

Note how many in the crowds came out to welcome Yeshua and celebrate him as prophet. How fickle the crowds are… a week later the crowds shout to free Barabbas and crucify Yeshua. Few stood by Yeshua during the arrest and crucifixion, perhaps none publicly as even Peter denied him three times. We must be careful to look to the Father for our guidance on what is right and never just follow the crowds. Often, YHWH’s people find themselves standing against the crowds if they are to stand for him.

My family and I have found it very enriching to reflect the entirety of God’s word in our celebrations by including Passover along with our celebration of resurrection of Christ. As we started this a few years ago, we find ourselves continuing to study and learn how interrelated these celebrations should be.

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Have you submitted your life to Jesus Christ? Are you living today filled with the peace and joy of truly knowing and following Jesus Christ? Learn more about salvation through The Message of the Cross.

Do Not Pass Over Passover

Most of us who grew up as Christians do not recognize or truly understand the Biblical holidays or “holy” days that YHWH  instructed his people to celebrate. Christians turned away long ago from his appointed times to follow their own traditions, which are now blended with many pagan traditions. There was a clear intention by man to separate from the Hebrew roots of our faith. We must now each ask ourselves if that was right or wrong and decide what we will do personally in our pursuit of YHWH.

Exodus 12 provides a clear example of where God places a lot of emphasis on celebrating according to His instruction… Passover and the Feast of Unleavened Bread. Yet many Christians ignore this celebration because the traditions of men have taught them to consider this a “Jewish” holiday. The Bible says it is God’s holy day, not a Jewish holiday.

Remember, that God hardened Pharaoh’s heart in order that he would not let God’s people go easily. He did so in order that He would demonstrate more signs and wonders so that His people would remember how He set them free from slavery in Egypt. God did not want His people to soon forget the momentous event. So much so that He even commands his people to celebrate it multiple times in scripture.

If it was that important to celebrate in order to look back on how YHWH delivered his people from slavery in Egypt, how much more so now that we can also look back and celebrate remembering how Yeshua died as our Passover lamb, setting us free from slavery to sin once and for all. When we celebrate it, the focus is on our relationship with our Father and his power and what he has done for us as his people… unlike common holidays of today in which the focus is on a magical man in red who brings gifts or a mythical bunny that brings candy.

Exodus 12:42-51

Ordinance of the Passover

      42It is a night to be observed for the LORD for having brought them out from the land of Egypt; this night is for the LORD, to be observed by all the sons of Israel throughout their generations.

      43The LORD said to Moses and Aaron, “This is the ordinance of the Passover: no foreigner is to eat of it; 44but every man’s slave purchased with money, after you have circumcised him, then he may eat of it. 45“A sojourner or a hired servant shall not eat of it. 46“It is to be eaten in a single house; you are not to bring forth any of the flesh outside of the house, nor are you to break any bone of it. 47“All the congregation of Israel are to celebrate this. 48“But if a stranger sojourns with you, and celebrates the Passover to the LORD, let all his males be circumcised, and then let him come near to celebrate it; and he shall be like a native of the land. But no uncircumcised person may eat of it. 49“The same law shall apply to the native as to the stranger who sojourns among you.”

      50Then all the sons of Israel did so; they did just as the LORD had commanded Moses and Aaron. 51And on that same day the LORD brought the sons of Israel out of the land of Egypt by their hosts.

We should remember as well, that God used Passover as a foreshadowing of the sacrifice Jesus was to make on our behalf. God even arranged it so that Jesus was crucified at Passover because He wanted to emphasize the two events together… God setting His people free from slavery in Egypt and God setting His people free from slavery to sin.

For those of us who wish to draw nearer to our Father, prayerfully consider studying and observing Passover, even though it feels strange at first and contradicts what most Christian churches teach.

Considering this change personally can seem very overwhelming to many. Many Christian’s have adopted such a strong tradition of celebrating according to man made pagan traditions that it is hard to turn away from them. It often creates difficulty and stress within a family. Jesus warned us about this type of conflict when we choose to follow Him, even within our own families.

Matthew 10:32-39

     32“Therefore everyone who confesses Me before men, I will also confess him before My Father who is in heaven. 33“But whoever denies Me before men, I will also deny him before My Father who is in heaven.

      34“Do not think that I came to bring peace on the earth; I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. 35“For I came to SET A MAN AGAINST HIS FATHER, AND A DAUGHTER AGAINST HER MOTHER, AND A DAUGHTER-IN-LAW AGAINST HER MOTHER-IN-LAW; 36and A MAN’S ENEMIES WILL BE THE MEMBERS OF HIS HOUSEHOLD.

      37“He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me; and he who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me. 38“And he who does not take his cross and follow after Me is not worthy of Me. 39“He who has found his life will lose it, and he who has lost his life for My sake will find it.

Ask yourself… do you wish to please man or God? I encourage you to pray for God to enlighten you and study the scriptures. Amazingly enough, even common encyclopedias identify the pagan traditions in Easter quite readily and consistently. The knowledge is not hidden… but we each have to make a choice about whom we serve and whom we follow.

To say we can only “have fun” by celebrating Easter with eggs and bunnies is not true. My family and I find it can be quite fun to celebrate Passover. It clearly reminds us of God setting us free. We enjoy a Passover seder which is rather informal and observe the Sabbath days of rest to celebrate God and family as we rest. We dress up as if we were Israelites on the original Passover, eating the seder prepared to leave Egypt. We then take up our livestock (ok… a dog and plush farm animals) and march out of Egypt and across the Red Sea (ok… around the house with imagination). We even celebrate the days of Unleavened Bread. Of course it felt unusual at first when we started, but we have found that if we just apply a bit of imagination and creativity toward how we celebrate according to God’s instruction, we can do so in a joyful and fun way. We also celebrate Messiah’s sacrifice and his resurrection as part of this appointed time, which is clearly intentional timing from our Creator.

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Have you submitted your life to Jesus Christ? Are you living today filled with the peace and joy of truly knowing and following Jesus Christ? Learn more about salvation through The Message of the Cross.

In Christ, We Have Another Reason To Celebrate Passover

It is important to remember what YHWH has done for us. He is our Creator and Lord. He is all powerful, all knowing, and present at all times in all places. Still He takes time to know each one of us and He loves each one of us as a father.

Sometimes He dwells on a certain instruction to emphasize it so that we pay attention and do not miss it. Celebrating Passover and Feast of Unleavened Bread is one of those.  As we read through Exodus 12, we experience God’s instruction about celebrating these as remembrance of God setting His people free from bondage in Egypt. Given how much the Christian church today distances itself from these appointed times of God , we may be tempted to think… “Ok, glad I am done with Exodus 12 and can get on with the story.” God however, is not done commanding and emphasizing to us that we should celebrate Passover and Feast of Unleavened bread in remembrance of His actions on behalf of His people. He comes back to it in Exodus 13 and again in Exodus 23. Spoiler alert… he comes back to it again and again… especially in Leviticus 23.

Exodus 13:1-16

Consecration of the Firstborn

      1Then the LORD spoke to Moses, saying, 2“Sanctify to Me every firstborn, the first offspring of every womb among the sons of Israel, both of man and beast; it belongs to Me.”

      3Moses said to the people, “Remember this day in which you went out from Egypt, from the house of slavery; for by a powerful hand the LORD brought you out from this place. And nothing leavened shall be eaten. 4“On this day in the month of Abib, you are about to go forth. 5“It shall be when the LORD brings you to the land of the Canaanite, the Hittite, the Amorite, the Hivite and the Jebusite, which He swore to your fathers to give you, a land flowing with milk and honey, that you shall observe this rite in this month. 6“For seven days you shall eat unleavened bread, and on the seventh day there shall be a feast to the LORD. 7“Unleavened bread shall be eaten throughout the seven days; and nothing leavened shall be seen among you, nor shall any leaven be seen among you in all your borders. 8“You shall tell your son on that day, saying, ‘It is because of what the LORD did for me when I came out of Egypt.’ 9“And it shall serve as a sign to you on your hand, and as a reminder on your forehead, that the law of the LORD may be in your mouth; for with a powerful hand the LORD brought you out of Egypt. 10“Therefore, you shall keep this ordinance at its appointed time from year to year.

      11“Now when the LORD brings you to the land of the Canaanite, as He swore to you and to your fathers, and gives it to you, 12you shall devote to the LORD the first offspring of every womb, and the first offspring of every beast that you own; the males belong to the LORD. 13“But every first offspring of a donkey you shall redeem with a lamb, but if you do not redeem it, then you shall break its neck; and every firstborn of man among your sons you shall redeem. 14“And it shall be when your son asks you in time to come, saying, ‘What is this?’ then you shall say to him, ‘With a powerful hand the LORD brought us out of Egypt, from the house of slavery. 15‘It came about, when Pharaoh was stubborn about letting us go, that the LORD killed every firstborn in the land of Egypt, both the firstborn of man and the firstborn of beast. Therefore, I sacrifice to the LORD the males, the first offspring of every womb, but every firstborn of my sons I redeem.’ 16“So it shall serve as a sign on your hand and as phylacteries on your forehead, for with a powerful hand the LORD brought us out of Egypt.”

You may find yourself asking, “Why is this so important to God? The church has not taught me to celebrate it.” God tells us why it is important to Him.

 8“You shall tell your son on that day, saying, ‘It is because of what the LORD did for me when I came out of Egypt.’ 9“And it shall serve as a sign to you on your hand, and as a reminder on your forehead, that the law of the LORD may be in your mouth; for with a powerful hand the LORD brought you out of Egypt. 10“Therefore, you shall keep this ordinance at its appointed time from year to year.

and again…

 14“And it shall be when your son asks you in time to come, saying, ‘What is this?’ then you shall say to him, ‘With a powerful hand the LORD brought us out of Egypt, from the house of slavery. 15‘It came about, when Pharaoh was stubborn about letting us go, that the LORD killed every firstborn in the land of Egypt, both the firstborn of man and the firstborn of beast. Therefore, I sacrifice to the LORD the males, the first offspring of every womb, but every firstborn of my sons I redeem.’ 16“So it shall serve as a sign on your hand and as phylacteries on your forehead, for with a powerful hand the LORD brought us out of Egypt.”

When our Father repeats something over and over again, we should recognize it is important. Our heavenly Father wants us to remember His love and power in setting His people free from bondage in Egypt. As followers of Messiah we can also recognize that in Messiah we now have yet another reason to celebrate Passover. Yeshua served as our Passover lamb, killed for our sin. The unleavened bread can remind us of getting sin out of our lives… making vivid a reminder that a little sin affects us a lot, like a little yeast affects the whole loaf of bread. We need to get all the sin out of our lives.

Passover is not just for Jewish people who don’t believe in Christ as Messiah. Passover has rich meaning and can help us draw nearer to the Lord. We could have a longer discussion on how to celebrate today, but for today I am really focused on encouraging you to read and study more, to embrace God’s holy days and learn more about them. God said we should, and he has great ideas. Once we make the decision to do it, then we take the next step and begin to study how… that is the journey my family and I are on today. We find great joy in seeking to better understand our relationship with YHWH through studying and celebrating his appointed times.

Do take care that we don’t have to celebrate Passover because it is “required” but rather so we can grow in our relationship with our Creator and delight in him. As the temple and the priests are not available, we can not celebrate in a fully Biblical manner, and that should not be our goal as Yeshua has already served as our Passover lamb, once and for all. Let us use this as an opportunity simply to glorify YHWH and what he has done for his people in setting them free from slavery in Egypt and more importantly in setting us free from slavery from sin through Yeshua.

Here are a few resources where you can learn more about the Moedim, the Creator’s calendar (often called the “Jewish” calendar), and given this time of year, Passover in particular.

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Have you submitted your life to Jesus Christ? Are you living today filled with the peace and joy of truly knowing and following Jesus Christ? Learn more about salvation through The Message of the Cross.

But We Know That The Law Is Good

The letters of Paul are often used out of context to make the case that the law and instruction of the LORD has been completely abolished or fulfilled. We must remember also that each of the letters of Paul is addressed to a specific community or group of people and he is addressing very specific issues they are experiencing. These letters were not written with the audience in mind of Christians 2000 years later. They were written to Jews and Gentiles contemporary to Paul’s life and writing, and not to all of them, but rather specific letters to specific audiences.

Paul writes his letters to Timothy, after the death and resurrection of Christ.  We see, however, that Paul himself tells Timothy that the law is good, if applied properly. He does not rebuke people for teaching the law, but rather those who are teaching it incorrectly. He calls them out for getting lost in fruitless discussions about genealogies and such or teaching strange doctrines. Strange doctrines would refer to new and different understandings of the law, not to the understanding of the law traditionally held prior to Christ’s death. Else he would likely use different words to indicate that it was “outdated” or “fulfilled” rather than “strange”.

Paul asserts the law is still good and relevant. It confirms for us what is right and wrong. It convicts us of improper behavior and attitudes. It confirms the leading of the Holy Spirit, as YHWH will not contradict himself.

1 Timothy 1:1-11

Misleadings in Doctrine and Living

     1Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus according to the commandment of God our Savior, and of Christ Jesus, who is our hope,

      2To Timothy, my true child in the faith: Grace, mercy and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord.

      3As I urged you upon my departure for Macedonia, remain on at Ephesus so that you may instruct certain men not to teach strange doctrines, 4nor to pay attention to myths and endless genealogies, which give rise to mere speculation rather than furthering the administration of God which is by faith. 5But the goal of our instruction is love from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith. 6For some men, straying from these things, have turned aside to fruitless discussion, 7wanting to be teachers of the Law, even though they do not understand either what they are saying or the matters about which they make confident assertions.

      8But we know that the Law is good, if one uses it lawfully, 9realizing the fact that law is not made for a righteous person, but for those who are lawless and rebellious, for the ungodly and sinners, for the unholy and profane, for those who kill their fathers or mothers, for murderers 10and immoral men and homosexuals and kidnappers and liars and perjurers, and whatever else is contrary to sound teaching, 11according to the glorious gospel of the blessed God, with which I have been entrusted.

Take time to reflect on the core message here and how it contradicts what is taught in many churches today. Paul asserts the law is good, it is not a burden to be set free from. If we are to use the law properly, than we must study and understand it and the context in which it was given and used as a guide for God’s people. We can not simply dismiss it or ignore it. We should not assume that everyone who accepts the name of Christ if fully transformed and led by the Spirit so completely as to no longer need the law as a guide. We need only look around us to see that is not the case. I think the point he makes here is that one who is led by the Spirit will walk consistent with the teaching of the law and thus the law is not necessary for them.However, the law can still confirm for us that we are walking the right way and listening truly to the Spirit instead of our own sin nature or the adversary. If I already know by heart how to do a task, then I may no longer need the instructions. The instructions are still valid and have not changed just because I may not need to refer to them.

I encourage each of you to pray on this matter and challenge yourself to study more in the area of the law and our Hebrew roots of the Christian faith. There are great resources available online through ministries that are focused on understanding the Hebrew roots of our faith in Christ Jesus. I have included several on our page, Focused Ministries – Understanding Hebrew Roots. I have listed a few additional resources to help you Study Hebrew Roots of Christianity.

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Do you know for sure if you will go to heaven or hell when you die? Are you experiencing in your life the peace and joy of a personal relationship with our Creator and Father? Learn more about salvation through The Message of the Cross.

Are God’s Ways Really That Odd?

Growing up in a society that has truly rejected much of God’s word, it is not surprising that much of what God instructed us to do would seem odd to me when I first read or studied it. I am accustomed to hearing people dismiss as “odd” the customs and guidelines that God set aside in instructing His people for what holidays to celebrate and how. Today’s brief scripture in Exodus is not the best place to get the details about what God tells His people to do in regards to holidays, or more accurately “holy days”. However, it is one of several places in His word that instruct us in His desires for how we should celebrate and why. (For those who are unfamiliar, the Feast of Unleavened Bread immediately follows Passover.)

Exodus 23:14-19

Three National Feasts

      14“Three times a year you shall celebrate a feast to Me. 15“You shall observe the Feast of Unleavened Bread; for seven days you are to eat unleavened bread, as I commanded you, at the appointed time in the month Abib, for in it you came out of Egypt. And none shall appear before Me empty-handed. 16“Also you shall observe the Feast of the Harvest of the first fruits of your labors from what you sow in the field; also the Feast of the Ingathering at the end of the year when you gather in the fruit of your labors from the field. 17“Three times a year all your males shall appear before the Lord GOD.

      18“You shall not offer the blood of My sacrifice with leavened bread; nor is the fat of My feast to remain overnight until morning.

      19“You shall bring the choice first fruits of your soil into the house of the LORD your God.
“You are not to boil a young goat in the milk of its mother.

Are God’s instructions really that odd? Let us compare them to our common cultural holidays and see if they are really that unusual.

Worldwide people celebrate Christmas with a tremendous focus on pagan symbols and traditions. Mistletoe is supposed to make us kiss someone, anyone, if we stand beneath it? Parents lie to their children about Santa Clause and flying reindeer… even going to the extreme to deceive them by leaving out carrots, milk or cookies at night and eating some of them? At Easter we are supposed to paint eggs and hide them? We are supposed to dress up as monsters at Halloween and go door to door threatening people that we will play tricks on them if they do not give us free candy. All of these are just simple examples of pagan traditions that simply are not questioned when it comes to celebrating holidays. But seemingly God’s instructions to celebrate holy days strike people as odd and outdated. As a matter of fact, some of you are probably angry just reading this article where I question these common and accepted traditions.

I challenge any who claim to follow Christ to truly spend time in prayer and personal reflection considering which of these types of celebrations are truly odd and which are actually holy and set apart for God’s purposes.  Just because we are used to it, or our parents and grandparents and neighbors do it does not mean it honors God.  Let us look to God’s instruction for what we should and should not do rather than looking to people. Just because we “have always done it” a certain way does not make us right.

Once we awaken to the benefit of celebrating YHWH’s holy days, we can start to have a good discussion about how to do so.  We will not be able to do animal sacrifices, nor will we need to try. Even for those who do not believe that Christ fulfilled this part of the law, we can not do the sacrifices YHWH’s way without the temple and the Levitical priesthood. But there are fun and meaningful ways to recognize and celebrate YHWH’s holy days that can draw us nearer to him and each other.

Here are a few resources where you can learn more about the Moedim, the Creator’s calendar (often called the “Jewish” calendar), and given this time of year, Passover in particular.

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Seeking The LORD In His Moedim (Holy Days}

Each year as Passover approaches, I am reminded to reflect on my personal journey with Yeshua. I was raised in a household that identified as Christian. We went to church weekly, but we did not study the Bible or seek to apply it in our lives actively. We watched things on TV which we should not have. There was little discernment about separating from the commonly accepted ways of the world to seek out the set apart ways of YHWH. We embraced and celebrated every common cultural holiday, apparently unaware or unconcerned about the significant pagan influence in shaping each of these holidays. In fact, holidays like Christmas and Easter often have more pagan roots and traditions than Christian.

As YHWH has continued to lead me, he has opened my eyes to his appointed times, or Moedim. They are described in Leviticus 23 and other places in scripture. Do not get tied up into the traps of whether or not they are required and if required, how “must” they be celebrated. Start by learning about YHWH’s holy days and participating in them. They look back at the relationship he has with his people and look forward to it as well. Each has meaning, not just from a “Jewish” perspective, but also from a Christian perspective. Christ is the ultimate fulfillment of these celebrations, including looking forward to his second coming. They are not “Jewish” holidays, but rather YHWH’s holy days. We can not or do not have to try to live them out perfectly as they were laid out for his people in the Torah, in Leviticus to harvest value from celebrating them.

We do not have to celebrate them absolutely according to what is now Jewish tradition. Only seek to study and better understand them so we better understand our relationship with God. Celebrate them as a great way to help teach your children as well. How much more rich than just “book learning” alone!

Here are a few resources where you can learn more about the Moedim, the Creator’s calendar (often called the “Jewish” calendar), and given this time of year, Passover in particular.

I hope you join me in a pursuit to know, love, and serve our Father more. Learning about and celebrating the Moedim is a fun and meaningful way to continue together on this journey. I invite you to start with Passover, which takes place in the upcoming weeks.

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Do you know for sure if you will go to heaven or hell when you die? Are you experiencing in your life the peace and joy of a personal relationship with our Creator and Father? Learn more about salvation through The Message of the Cross.

We Must Deal With Our Sin Before We Will Experience Victory In The Lord

Joshua and the Israelites faced defeat against Ai, as recorded in Joshua 7, due to sin and rebellion in the camp against YHWH. The sin of a single man led to defeat for Israel. Joshua dealt with the sin according to YHWH’s instructions and was once again directed by the Lord to continue taking the promised land. He then did as the Lord instructed, and those around him did as well, and the Lord granted them victory.

In a way, this serves as a blueprint for us in our everyday lives. We can not expect YHWH to give us victory while living in rebellion against his word or the Spirit. We must deal with our sin, the sins of our family, and even the sins of our nation if we are to experience full victory on the Lord’s path. That does not mean that we as individuals can not have strong relationships with the Lord even in a sinful nation… we can. However, do not expect him to grant great and lasting victory to a nation that rebels openly against him.

Joshua 8

The Conquest of Ai

     1Now the LORD said to Joshua, “Do not fear or be dismayed. Take all the people of war with you and arise, go up to Ai; see, I have given into your hand the king of Ai, his people, his city, and his land. 2“You shall do to Ai and its king just as you did to Jericho and its king; you shall take only its spoil and its cattle as plunder for yourselves. Set an ambush for the city behind it.”

      3So Joshua rose with all the people of war to go up to Ai; and Joshua chose 30,000 men, valiant warriors, and sent them out at night. 4He commanded them, saying, “See, you are going to ambush the city from behind it. Do not go very far from the city, but all of you be ready. 5“Then I and all the people who are with me will approach the city. And when they come out to meet us as at the first, we will flee before them. 6“They will come out after us until we have drawn them away from the city, for they will say, ‘They are fleeing before us as at the first.’ So we will flee before them. 7“And you shall rise from your ambush and take possession of the city, for the LORD your God will deliver it into your hand. 8“Then it will be when you have seized the city, that you shall set the city on fire. You shall do it according to the word of the LORD. See, I have commanded you.” 9So Joshua sent them away, and they went to the place of ambush and remained between Bethel and Ai, on the west side of Ai; but Joshua spent that night among the people.

      10Now Joshua rose early in the morning and mustered the people, and he went up with the elders of Israel before the people to Ai. 11Then all the people of war who were with him went up and drew near and arrived in front of the city, and camped on the north side of Ai. Now there was a valley between him and Ai. 12And he took about 5,000 men and set them in ambush between Bethel and Ai, on the west side of the city. 13So they stationed the people, all the army that was on the north side of the city, and its rear guard on the west side of the city, and Joshua spent that night in the midst of the valley. 14It came about when the king of Ai saw it, that the men of the city hurried and rose up early and went out to meet Israel in battle, he and all his people at the appointed place before the desert plain. But he did not know that there was an ambush against him behind the city. 15Joshua and all Israel pretended to be beaten before them, and fled by the way of the wilderness. 16And all the people who were in the city were called together to pursue them, and they pursued Joshua and were drawn away from the city. 17So not a man was left in Ai or Bethel who had not gone out after Israel, and they left the city unguarded and pursued Israel.

      18Then the LORD said to Joshua, “Stretch out the javelin that is in your hand toward Ai, for I will give it into your hand.” So Joshua stretched out the javelin that was in his hand toward the city. 19The men in ambush rose quickly from their place, and when he had stretched out his hand, they ran and entered the city and captured it, and they quickly set the city on fire. 20When the men of Ai turned back and looked, behold, the smoke of the city ascended to the sky, and they had no place to flee this way or that, for the people who had been fleeing to the wilderness turned against the pursuers. 21When Joshua and all Israel saw that the men in ambush had captured the city and that the smoke of the city ascended, they turned back and slew the men of Ai. 22The others came out from the city to encounter them, so that they were trapped in the midst of Israel, some on this side and some on that side; and they slew them until no one was left of those who survived or escaped. 23But they took alive the king of Ai and brought him to Joshua.

      24Now when Israel had finished killing all the inhabitants of Ai in the field in the wilderness where they pursued them, and all of them were fallen by the edge of the sword until they were destroyed, then all Israel returned to Ai and struck it with the edge of the sword. 25All who fell that day, both men and women, were 12,000—all the people of Ai. 26For Joshua did not withdraw his hand with which he stretched out the javelin until he had utterly destroyed all the inhabitants of Ai. 27Israel took only the cattle and the spoil of that city as plunder for themselves, according to the word of the LORD which He had commanded Joshua. 28So Joshua burned Ai and made it a heap forever, a desolation until this day. 29He hanged the king of Ai on a tree until evening; and at sunset Joshua gave command and they took his body down from the tree and threw it at the entrance of the city gate, and raised over it a great heap of stones that stands to this day.

      30Then Joshua built an altar to the LORD, the God of Israel, in Mount Ebal, 31just as Moses the servant of the LORD had commanded the sons of Israel, as it is written in the book of the law of Moses, an altar of uncut stones on which no man had wielded an iron tool; and they offered burnt offerings on it to the LORD, and sacrificed peace offerings. 32He wrote there on the stones a copy of the law of Moses, which he had written, in the presence of the sons of Israel. 33All Israel with their elders and officers and their judges were standing on both sides of the ark before the Levitical priests who carried the ark of the covenant of the LORD, the stranger as well as the native. Half of them stood in front of Mount Gerizim and half of them in front of Mount Ebal, just as Moses the servant of the LORD had given command at first to bless the people of Israel. 34Then afterward he read all the words of the law, the blessing and the curse, according to all that is written in the book of the law. 35There was not a word of all that Moses had commanded which Joshua did not read before all the assembly of Israel with the women and the little ones and the strangers who were living among them.

I also find it interesting that at the end of a great victory, Joshua reads the words of the law, the blessing and the curse, to not just Israel, but to the strangers living among them. It is another indication that the law of YHWH was not meant only for Israel, but for all who came to join Israel and dwell among them. One law for all, not separate law for Jews vs. Gentiles.

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Do you know for sure if you will go to heaven or hell when you die? Are you experiencing in your life the peace and joy of a personal relationship with our Creator and Father? Learn more about salvation through The Message of the Cross.

He Rested On The Seventh Day

The Sabbath is an important sign of our covenant with the Father. It should be holy to us.

Exodus 31:12-14

   12The LORD spoke to Moses, saying, 13“But as for you, speak to the sons of Israel, saying, ‘You shall surely observe My sabbaths; for this is a sign between Me and you throughout your generations, that you may know that I am the LORD who sanctifies you. 14‘Therefore you are to observe the sabbath, for it is holy to you.

In fact, the Sabbath was so important, even YHWH rested after creating all things, just to show us the example.

Exodus 31:16-17

16‘So the sons of Israel shall observe the sabbath, to celebrate the sabbath throughout their generations as a perpetual covenant.’ 17“It is a sign between Me and the sons of Israel forever; for in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, but on the seventh day He ceased from labor, and was refreshed.”

We see the importance again of Sabbath to YHWH’s people in that they wanted to be able to take down those that were crucified so that the bodies could be properly taken care of before the Sabbath began. It was so important, they requested breaking their legs to help them die faster.

It was not something that was obsolete for those who followed Yeshua. His followers also were still observing Sabbath, as Yeshua had demonstrated through his example and teaching.

John 19:31-42

Care of the Body of Jesus

     31Then the Jews, because it was the day of preparation, so that the bodies would not remain on the cross on the Sabbath (for that Sabbath was a high day), asked Pilate that their legs might be broken, and that they might be taken away. 32So the soldiers came, and broke the legs of the first man and of the other who was crucified with Him; 33but coming to Jesus, when they saw that He was already dead, they did not break His legs. 34But one of the soldiers pierced His side with a spear, and immediately blood and water came out. 35And he who has seen has testified, and his testimony is true; and he knows that he is telling the truth, so that you also may believe. 36For these things came to pass to fulfill the Scripture, “NOT A BONE OF HIM SHALL BE BROKEN.” 37And again another Scripture says, “THEY SHALL LOOK ON HIM WHOM THEY PIERCED.”

      38After these things Joseph of Arimathea, being a disciple of Jesus, but a secret one for fear of the Jews, asked Pilate that he might take away the body of Jesus; and Pilate granted permission. So he came and took away His body. 39Nicodemus, who had first come to Him by night, also came, bringing a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about a hundred pounds weight. 40So they took the body of Jesus and bound it in linen wrappings with the spices, as is the burial custom of the Jews. 41Now in the place where He was crucified there was a garden, and in the garden a new tomb in which no one had yet been laid. 42Therefore because of the Jewish day of preparation, since the tomb was nearby, they laid Jesus there.

The Sabbath was made for us. It is a sign of our covenant with YHWH and a reminder that it is YHWH who makes us holy, or sanctifies us. It is a day of rest for us in a busy, fast paced life.

Mark 2:27

27Jesus said to them, “The Sabbath was made for man, and not man for the Sabbath.

We need not get distracted by those who want to argue about what is “required”. We are saved by grace through faith by the death of Yeshua. However, let us instead focus on simply what is pleasing to the Lord and consistent with his written word and the teaching of Yeshua. Sabbath was made for man. YHWH set the example following it in creation. Yeshua observed and taught Sabbath. YHWH even provided Yeshua’s death during crucifixion ahead of the Sabbath so even that would not be impact a Sabbath. Let us take heed to his instruction and example. Seek to observe the Sabbath as part of our covenant with the Father.

On a personal note, I can testify that I grew up basically ignoring Sabbath. Now, as an adult, I celebrate with my wife and children every week. I have found it wonderful in bringing family together to spend time with one another and a good break from a busy pace of life that always has an excuse to be doing something. The primary command associated with Sabbath is simply, to rest and do no work. Once you reach this point, then you are ready to have a fascinating discovery seeking the truth in scripture and in prayer how to live that out, as there are many interpretations and opinions on application. However, do not be dismayed by the many interpretations. Get started celebrating Sabbath by resting.

Genesis 2:2

2By the seventh day God completed His work which He had done, and He rested on the seventh day from all His work which He had done. 3Then God blessed the seventh day and sanctified it, because in it He rested from all His work which God had created and made.

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Do you know for sure if you will go to heaven or hell when you die? Are you experiencing in your life the peace and joy of a personal relationship with our Creator and Father? Learn more about salvation through The Message of the Cross.