Sunday, March 19, 2017

E.G.O. ---- Edging God Out --- what happened to our Sabbath – and the 7 Feasts of the LORD? -- Week 7 -- Yom Kippur / Day of Atonment

E.G.O.  ----  Edging God Out    

--- what happened to our Sabbath – and the 7 Feasts of the LORD?

Facilitated by †Ken Neuhaus at Fort Mitchell Baptist Church (KY) 

(8 week series 2/5/17 – 3/26/17) on 3/19/17

We are continuing in the discussion from Leviticus 23, regarding the Feasts of the LORD.  This week, we discuss Yom Kippur - The Day of Atonement. --- Leviticus 23:27-32

So, almost a month and a half ago, we entered into the Hebrew month of Elul.   A month of repentance and preparing for the Feast of Trumpets.  Then, at the first of the month of Tishri, the Trumpets are blown to announce the Feast, and to awaken people to think about their atonement.  Then, on the tenth day of Tishri, the Israelites observe Yom Kippur - The Day of Atonement.   

 Let's start off by discussing redemption.   Psalm 49:7   The root word of Kippur is kafar which is derived from kofer, meaning "Ransom."  This is parallel to the word "redeem" which means "to atone by offering a substitute."  Many of the sacrifices of the Old Testament concerned making an atonement  where the blood of a sacrificial animal was required in exchange for the live blood of the worshiper.  This is seen in the actions of placing hands on the head of the sacrifice, confessing his sins over the animal, then killing the animal or sending it out as a scapegoat.   We've seen many places where the sacrifice of animal is an offering to the LORD.  We also see where an animal is sent out as a scapegoat.  

And so it is with Yom Kippur.  This is the only time of the year that the High Priest could enter the Most Holy Place of the Temple to atone for the sins of all the Israelites.  It is important to note that as we read Leviticus 16, the realm of the holy must be separate from the realm of the unclean.  

Unclean  (<--- intentional and unintentional)   Clean   (---> sanctification)   Holy

Matthew 15:11 & Matthew 15:18

First, the High Priest must be both physically and ceremonially clean.  
Then as the High Priest is now clean, he labors to ensure the altar is holy.
And, as the altar is now holy, God provides atonement for His people.

So on this day, two goats were brought before the High Priest.  He would lay hands on them and symbolically transfer the sins of the people into them.  The first one was the sacrifice—the one that provided atonement for the people’s sins. The second, however, was the scapegoat. This one was released into the wilderness to wander and eventually die, removing sin from the camp. The blood of the first goat brought forgiveness. The second goat that was sent away from the camp brought sanctification.   This goat represents Satan, the one who departed from God and who is responsible for all the evil in this world.  John 8:34-44   Jesus has redeemed us.  But to understand our Redemption in the Cross, we must understand how Jesus as High Priest was also the Spotless Passover Lamb, how His Blood ensures that the alter is holy, so that God has atonement for any who accept it.  Also, important to understand that the shedding of blood has always been required for the forgiveness of sin.  That is why Jesus had to die and shed His blood for us.  And that is good news.  Our Redeemer exchanged His blood for ours.  Under the New Covenant, since the veil of the Holy of Holies was rent in two, all we need to do is accept His sacrifice.

It is important to understand here, the sacrifices under the Old Testament only covered sin, where as the atonement of Jesus removes sin.  

The Jewish nation celebrates Yom Kippur as the highest holy day of the year.  They have spent the previous 40 days to prepare and examine themselves to ceremonially find Atonement.  However, as we mentioned with the first four Feasts in this study, those have been fulfilled in Christ.  Yom Kippur will reach its fulfillment when Jesus is recognized as King of the Jews and the King of Israel.   

Matthew Henry Commentary
Christ shows that the defilement they ought to fear, was not from what entered their mouths as food, but from what came out of their mouths, which showed the wickedness of their hearts. Nothing will last in the soul but the regenerating graces of the Holy Spirit; and nothing should be admitted into the church but what is from above; therefore, whoever is offended by a plain, seasonable declaration of the truth, we should not be troubled at it. The disciples ask to be better taught as to this matter. Where a weak head doubts concerning any word of Christ, an upright heart and a willing mind seek for instruction. It is the heart that is desperately wicked, Jer 17:9, for there is no sin in word or deed, which was not first in the heart. They all come out of the man, and are fruits of that wickedness which is in the heart, and is wrought there. When Christ teaches, he will show men the deceitfulness and wickedness of their own hearts; he will teach them to humble themselves, and to seek to be cleansed in the Fountain opened for sin and uncleanness.

Sunday, March 12, 2017

E.G.O. ---- Edging God Out --- what happened to our Sabbath – and the 7 Feasts of the LORD? -- Week 6 - Feast of Trumpets

E.G.O.  ----  Edging God Out    

--- what happened to our Sabbath – and the 7 Feasts of the LORD?

Facilitated by †Ken Neuhaus at Fort Mitchell Baptist Church (KY) 

(8 week series 2/5/17 – 3/26/17) on 3/12/17

We are continuing in the discussion from Leviticus 23, regarding the Feasts of the LORD.  This week, we discuss the Feast of Trumpets.

Let's review first.   
Leviticus 23.....
  • We learned more about the Sabbath, about how God declared it a day to call people to take a rest together.
  • We learned about Passover and the Feast of Unleavened Bread, how it began in the story of Exodus from Egypt, observed throughout the Bible, observed by Jesus Christ, observed by His Disciples.  Even from the beginning, Passover points to Jesus - our true Passover Lamb.  Christ's death fulfilled the ritual of the slaughtered lamb.  This is commemorated along with the Feast of Unleavened Bread, the seven day festival right after Passover.  We learned how the Passover Seder meal is done to remind of the Exodus from slavery.  But also the unleavened bread (matza) is broken into small pieces and cups of wine are shared among the participants in the meal.  Jesus said His Body is broken for us, and Blood is the new Wine poured out for us.  Over time, the Passover and the Unleavened Bread have become blended together as one Feast to the LORD.  The Crucifixion occurred during this Feast.  Today we observe communion in remembrance Jesus sacrifice, and the deeper understanding of how Christ's death brings fullness to the Passover lamb and the transformation of letting Christ live in us.  Only by taking on Jesus' character can we truly overcome sin.  This is the first of three mandatory Feasts to be kept as sacrifice before the LORD.  Christians should pay special attention to the Crucifixion.
  • We learned about the Feast of First Fruits, which took place at the beginning of the Spring Harvest and signified dependence upon God.  After the Exodus, the Israelites brought the first fruits of their harvest before the priest, to acknowledge that God had delivered them from Egypt and had given them the Promised Land.  We also saw that this occurred on Resurrection Sunday.  Christ was the first to rise from the dead, the first fruits of those who have fallen asleep (1 Corinthians 15:20).  
  • We learned of the Feast of Weeks / Pentecost.  This Feast of Weeks was eagerly celebrated because it signified the completion of the early harvest, the very first harvest from the fields.  Pentecost signaled a good year ahead for an Israelite.  And in celebration, people would bring the first of their harvest to the priest, to be waved before the LORD.   In the New Testament, we see a deeper and more profound meaning to this.  We see Jesus fulfilling His promise to send the Holy Spirit and to never leave His followers as orphans.  At Pentecost, the Holy Spirit descended upon the disciples.  This is the second of three mandatory Feasts to be kept as a sacrifice before the LORD.  Christians should pay special attention to Pentecost.
---------- These first three Feasts (the Spring Feasts) are directly fulfilled by the first coming of the Messiah.  The Fall Feasts represent events yet to be fulfilled and are directly connected to Christ's return and to Israel's promised national salvation. ----------

Today, we learn about The Feast of Trumpets. - Leviticus 23:23-25
This is performed on the first day of the first day of the seventh month.  Today it is called Rosh Hashanah.  Even though this term is not mentioned in scriptures, the name has transformed to signify a new year.  The name means, Head of the Year.  So much like we have the concept of new years in different contexts... such as a new fiscal year, or a new school year, or a new farming year, where the newness doesn't line up with the calendar year;  so do the Jewish people have several different "new years."  Nisan 1 is the new year for the purpose of counting the reign of kings and calendar months, Elul 1 (August) is the new year for the tithing of animals, Shevat 15 (February) is the new year for trees to determine when first fruits can be eaten, etc, and Tishri 1 (Sept/October) is Rosh Hashanah for the new year of years, when the Jewish calendar increases the year number.  Over the course of the history of Israel, the rabbis transformed this Feast into the start of the New Year based on their belief that this was the exact day when God created the World.

On Rosh Hashanah, the trumpet blasts to signal to Israel that they are entering a sacred season, right at the end of their agricultural and festival year.  This begins the ten days of penitence culminating in Yom Kippur (Day of Atonement).   The Torah is silent about why the trumpet (or shofar, a ram's horn) is blown on this particular day.  But when we read the New Testament, we see how this day corresponds prophetically with Christ's return.  1 Thessalonians 4:16–17  The Shofar will sound in heaven, the dead in Christ will rise from their graves, and those still alive will meet Jesus in the air.  

The month before Tishri is called Elul.  Elul is a time of repentance among the Jewish people in preparation for Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur.  The name of the month of Elul --- spelled Alef-Lamed-Vav-Lamed --- is said to be an acronym of "Ani l'dodi v'dodi li," "I am my Beloved's and my Beloved is mine," a quote from Song of Songs 6:3.  This acronym is appropriate as the Beloved is God and I is the Jewish people.  However, in Aramaic, Elul means "search," which is also appropriate as this is the time of year to search our hearts before the Day of Atonement.  Also in tradition, it is believed that Moses spent the month of Elul on Mount Sinai preparing the second set of tablets after the incident of the golden calf.  He came back down from the mountain at the end of Yom Kippur when repentance was complete.  

During the month of Elul, the shofar is blown after morning services every weekday, but not blown on Sabbath.  The shofar is blown as a wake up call for sleepers, designed to rouse us from our complacency.  The shofar is a call to repentance.  The shofar is blown to make major announcements, including the Return of Christ.  (Revelation 8 and 11)

I personally believe we are living in a time of Elul.  God is calling us to search our hearts, to repent and to draw close to Him.  I believe this is a good time for us to ask, are we his Beloved?  See, it isn't enough that we know Him, but does He know us?  Matthew 7:21-23.

Also, we must ask, is the LORD our beloved?  Isaiah 54:5-10

The Feast of Trumpets is a challenge for us to maintain a spiritual vigilance for the return of Jesus Christ.   Mark 13:35-37  

Sunday, March 5, 2017

E.G.O. ---- Edging God Out --- what happened to our Sabbath – and the 7 Feasts of the LORD? --- Week 5 - Pentecost

E.G.O.  ----  Edging God Out    

--- what happened to our Sabbath – and the 7 Feasts of the LORD?

Facilitated by Rev. †Ken Neuhaus at Fort Mitchell Baptist Church (KY) 

(8 week series 2/5/17 – 3/26/17) on 3/5/17

We are continuing in the discussion from Leviticus 23, regarding the Feasts of the LORD.
This week, we discuss what we know as Pentecost.   I
n the Christian liturgical year it has become a feast commemorating the "Birthday of the Church."   But if that was just a historical event, then what does Pentecost mean for us today?  Lets start in Leviticus 23:15-21.

So, there are three mandated festivals that Jewish people are to commemorate every year.  It is important enough that God commanded in scripture for them to observe year after year.  The three feasts are The Feast of Unleavened Bread (Pesach/Passover), The Feast of Weeks (Shavout/Pentecost), and The Feast of Booths/Tabernacles (Sukkot).

Let's look at The Feast of Weeks in the Old Testament - 
In Exodus 18:13-23, we see that the Israelites have been released from Egypt, and have been traveling through the desert heading toward the promised land.  But like all people, some become wayward and need someone else to decide right and wrong for them.  So we see that Moses has been doing this since they left Egypt.  But now, Moses appoints judges to help with the problems and disputes of the people.  I mention this little point because so much like all humans, even you and I need guidance to figure out how to live.  Next, in Exodus 19:1-3, we see where they arrive at Mt. Sinai.  They arrived here 7 weeks and one day after they left Egypt, and this becomes the Feast of Weeks.  Numbers 28:26, it is also a Holy Day and a Day of Rest.  This is a day to be called Holy, where they are honoring that they have arrived a place of Holiness, the place where the Torah is given to them by God.  But even more so, because according to Exodus 19:3-6,  this is where God called them to be a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.  

Let's look at the Feast of Weeks in the New Testament-
This was eagerly celebrated in Israel because it signified the completion of the early harvest, the first harvest from the fields.  The priest would take the sheaf of grain, and in a special ceremony, would wave it before God as an offering.  And, Israelites could be assured of having food when God's blessing was upon them.  Pentecost signaled a good year ahead for an Israelite.  It was a great festival of both hope and joy.  But there is a more profound parallel to all this.  When Jesus ascended to heaven following the Resurrection, His followers were very perplexed because their risen Lord was taken away from them.  But He had promised He would not leave them as orphans.  John 14:18  So imagine the confusion of seeing the Savior of the World leaving them, being taken up into the sky.  Acts 1:9.  But then imagine the surprise as they continue by observing the Feasts, and upon the Feast of Weeks, they are gathered together and receive the Holy Spirit.  Acts 2:1-41.  Here, in a mighty way, God empowered the body of Believers in Jesus, they were given power in the Holy Spirit.  Church, have you been empowered?

Let's look at the parallel of OT and NT-
In the Old Testament, the Feast of Weeks celebrates God giving the Torah.  The Torah is the means by which God's people can know how to relate with God and how to relate with people.  In the New Testament, the Feast of Weeks celebrates God giving His Spirit.  The Holy Spirit empowers God's people to have deep relationship with God and to have relationship with people.  

So what does this mean for us today?
1 Corinthians 12:13 reveals to us a glorious representation of who we are as one big body of believers.  Just as the LORD is ONE, so too are we to be ONE.   The Holy Spirit stirs us and allows us to be ONE.  Last week, we discussed the Greatest Commandment, from Matthew 22:36-40.  This is a teaching from Jesus that brings to light two Commandments from the Torah.  The first from the Shema, Deuteronomy 6:4-5 and Leviticus 19:18.  So, as the Old Testament gave the Torah at the Feast of Weeks in order to teach people how to relate --- so does the New Testament give the Holy Spirit at Pentecost to empower the Church.

In closing, a review of the first four (spring time) feasts reveals that Jesus was crucified on Passover, buried on the Feast of Unleavened Bread, raised on the Feast of First Fruits, and sent the Holy Spirit on Shavuot/Pentecost.  Because we have not yet seen the fulfillment of the 5th feast, Trumpets, we remain under the guidance of Pentecost.  We should live our lives full of the Holy Spirit!