Yom haBikkurim 2005
Spiritual Sacrifices to Yahweh
Sermon, Sunday 27 March 2005
I welcome you back in the Name of our Lord and Saviour Yah'shua the Messiah (Jesus Christ) to the third day of our celebrations and to Yom haBikkurim, the Festival of First fruits, which Yahweh commanded to be observed the day after the Sabbath. Looking outside the window onto our bleak Scandinavian landscape it is hard to perhaps appreciate that at this time of the year the Hebrews used to gather in the first of three annual crops in the Promised Land, namely the barley harvest. At this time of the year a sheaf or omer from the standing barley harvest was brought to the cohen or priest. This sheaf would then be called 'the sheaf of the first fruits' which the priest would then wave before Yahweh accompanied by the offering of a lamb (Lev.23:9-14).
Under the New Covenant "spiritual sacrifices" replace the animal and grain sacrifices of the Mosaic period. And so Yom haBikkurim is principally a celebration of the resurrection of the Messiah, which is why we have gathered here today. Yom haBikkorim is therefore good news! So the apostle Peter admonishes us:
"Coming to Him as to a living stone, rejected indeed by men, but chosen by Elohim (God) and precious, you also, as living stones, are being built up a spiritual house, a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to Elohim (God) through Yah'shua the Messiah (Jesus Christ)" (1 Peter 2:4-5, NKJV).
What are these "spiritual sacrifices"? We get some clues in a couple of scriptures so let's take a quick look at those. Firstly the memorable words of Yah'shua (Jesus) to the Samaritan woman:
"But the hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in ruach (spirit) and truth; for the Father is seeking such to worship Him" (John 4:23, NKJV).
The second passage is from Paul to the Romans:
"I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of Elohim (God), that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to Elohim (God), which is your reasonable service. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of Elohim (God)" (Rom.12:1-2, NKJV).
Our sacrifices in the new Covenant are therefore to include worshipping the Father, Yahweh, not in ritual ordinances but in ruach (spirit) and in truth, reminding us once again of the dual aspects of being a Christian, namely, of having faith in Yah'shua (Jesus) and obeying Torah, or of the dual filling that Yah'shua (Jesus) possessed, namely "grace and truth" (Jn.1:14). It should not be supposed, however, that just because animal sacrifices have been replaced that the whole of Torah has been replaced also, though you would think so reading some Bible versions. The New King James Version (NKJV), which we use a lot, is typical of those English versions which perpetuate this error. We read in John's Gospel:
"And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth. John (the Baptist) bore witness of Him and cried out, saying, "This was He of whom I said, 'He who comes after me is preferred before me, for He was before me.'" And of His fullness we have all received, and grace for grace. For the law was given through Moses, but grace and truth came through Yah'shua the Messiah (Jesus Christ)" (John 1:14-17, NKJV).
This word 'but' has a rather ominous tone for it gives the impression that somehow "grace and truth" have replaced "law" or Torah. This word 'but', however, is pure fiction for it does not appear in either the original Aramaic or the Greek translations which most English Bibles use. If we go to an Aramaic New Testament things look a little different:
"And from His fullness we all have received, and grace on account of grace. Because the Torah was given through Moshe (Moses), and truth and grace through Yah'shua the Messiah (Jesus Christ)" (Ibid., vv.17-18, HRV).
We only have to look at the Psalms to see that this is the correct meaning, for there we read:
"Your righteousness is an everlasting righteousness, and Your law (Torah) is truth ... They draw near who follow after wickedness; they are far from Your law (Torah)" (Ps. 119:142,150, NKJV).
Truth cannot replace Torah if Torah is also truth, can it? It is a piece of deceptive translating when words are added to twist the meaning, setting of law against grace and Yahweh against Yah'shua (Jesus), but such is the fruit of wicked minds who are led by false spirits. The truth is that Yahweh gave truth and grace and Yah'shua (Jesus) has revealed more truth and grace. Yahweh has simply added more of His blessings to mankind.
Animal sacrifices were never more than a temporary covering for man and something that Yahweh did not particularly enjoy. They were a vivid reminder of the cost of sin and rebellion. We read in the Psalms:
"For You do not desire sacrifice, or else I (David) would give it; you do not delight in burnt offering. The sacrifices of Elohim (God) are a broken spirit, a broken and a contrite heart -- These, O Elohim (God) You will not despise" (Ps.51:16-17, NKJV).
The heart of the righteous worshipper in the Old Covenant is no different from that of the righteous worshipper today in the New. Yahweh has always wanted the principle sacrifice of man to be a broken heart and a contrite spirit. The idea of man being a living offering was not first revealed by Paul to the Romans but was spoken of in the days of Isaiah:
"Then they shall bring all your brethren for an offering to Yahweh out of all nations, on horses and in chariots and in litters, on mules and on camels, to My holy mountain Jerusalem," says Yahweh, "as the children of Israel bring an offering in a clean vessel into the house of Yahweh. And I will also take some of them for priests and Levites," says Yahweh. "For as the new heavens and the new earth which I will make shall remain before Me," says Yahweh, "So shall your descendants and your name remain. And it shall come to pass that from one New Moon to another, and from one Sabbath to another, all flesh shall come to worship before Me," says Yahweh" (Isa.66:19-23, NKJV).
I want to emphasise therefore this very important point as we commemorate the resurrection of Yah'shua (Jesus) and what that means in terms of both a change in covenants and in the nature of worship: for every single act of the Ruach(Spirit)-filled man or woman can be reckoned as a spiritual sacrifice, and the sense in which it is a sacrifice is that it is acceptable to Yahweh. The only different between New Covenant sacrifices and Old Covenant ones is that New Covenant ones don't atone. Yah'shua's (Jesus') sacrifice of Himself was the last blood sacrifice ever. No more will ever be required, now or in the future. He was both the last Old Covenant sacrifice as well as the first fruits of the resurrection.
The antitype of atoning sacrifice is to be sought not in the Mosaic covenant but in the sacrifice of Yah'shua (Jesus), without which spiritual sacrifices would not be acceptable. Thus Paul would write to the Hebrews:
"Therefore by [Yah'shua] let us continually offer the sacrifice of praise to Elohim (God), that is, the fruit of our lips, giving thanks to His Name [Yahweh]" (Heb.13:15, NKJV).
Which brings me to another important subject, namely, whose Name are we supposed to be worshipping? Who was it who raised Yah'shua (Jesus) from the dead? Peter tells us:
"And if you call on the Father [Yahweh], who without partiality judges according to each one's work, conduct yourselves throughout the time of your stay here in fear; knowing that you were not redeemed with corruptible things, like silver or gold, from your aimless conduct received by tradition from your fathers, but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot. He indeed was foreordained before the foundation of the world, but was manifest in these last times for you who through Him believe in Elohim (God), who raised Him from the dead and gave Him glory, so that your faith and hope are in Elohim (God)" (1 Peter 1:17-21, NKJV).
Over the centuries, as a result of Catholic corruption, first of the Scriptures, and then of the Gospel as a whole, there has been a subtle shift away from worshipping Yahweh, the Eternal Father, who resurrected Yah'shua (Jesus) from the dead, to Yah'shua (Jesus) Himself, who has to all intents and purposes, replaced Him. This not only dishonours the Father but is in violation of the Ten Commandments, for it is written: "you shall worship no other god, for Yahweh, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous Elohim (God)" (Ex.34:14, NKJV). Even the Prayer of prayers, the 'Lord's Prayer' so-called, tells us to worship the Father. The Psalmist declares:
"Sing to Elohim (God), sing praises to His name; Extol Him who rides on the clouds, By His name YAH, and rejoice before Him" (Ps.68:4, NKJV).
We also read:
"Moreover Elohim (God) said to Moses, "Thus you shall say to the children of Israel: Yahweh-Elohim of your fathers, the Elohim of Abraham, the Elohim of Isaac, and the Elohim of Jacob, has sent me to you. This is My name forever, and this is My memorial to all generations'" (Ex.3:15, NKJV).
To which generations did He say? Just the Old Covenant generations? No! All generations. Yahweh is His Name forever and it is to be our memorial. The Psalmist says the same thing:
"Your name, O Yahweh, endures forever, Your fame, O Yahweh, throughout all generations" (Ps.135:13, NKJV).
The prophet Hosea says the same thing:
"And there He spoke to us -- That is, Yahweh-Elohim of hosts. Yahweh is His memorable name" (Hos.12:4-5, NKJV).
How many Christians do you know who are memorialising the Name of Yahweh? And now let me cite you a very important Scripture from the prophet Joel. He says:
"And it shall come to pass that whoever calls on the name of Yahweh shall be saved. For in Mount Zion and in Jerusalem there shall be deliverance, as Yahweh has said, among the remnant whom Yahweh calls" (Joel 2:32, NKJV).
This scripture is quoted by Luke in the Acts of the Apostles. It is a familiar one to you. However, instead of quoting the original Hebrew name to you, I am simply going to cite the Greek version to you, and then I want you to ask yourself who most Christians assume 'the Lord' is when they read it. Here it is:
"And it shall come to pass that whoever calls on the name of the LORD [Yahweh] shall be saved" (Acts 2:21, NKJV).
So who do most Christians say we are to call upon? Yes, 'Jesus'. However, this is a direct quotation from the passage in Joel I read to you. Did you know Paul quotes the same passage to the Romans?
"... if you confess with your mouth the Lord Yah'shua (Jesus) and believe in your heart that Elohim (God) has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. For the Scripture says, "Whoever believes on Him will not be put to shame." (Is.28:16) For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek, for the same Lord over all is rich to all who call upon Him. For "whoever calls on the name of the LORD [Yahweh] shall be saved"" (Rom.10:9-13, NKJV).
So let us look at the elements of salvation here since today at Yom haBikkurim we are celebrating the resurrection of Yah'shua (Jesus):
1. Confess Yah'shua (Jesus) as Master (Lord);
2. Believe that Yahweh raised Him from the dead;
3. By believing in the heart we are made righteous;
4. By confessing Yah'shua (Jesus) we saved/delivered;
5. By believing in Yahweh we are not put to shame;
6. We are saved/delivered by calling on the NAME of Yahweh.
Today is the day that Yah'shua (Jesus) completed an atonement for our sins. Today is the day that Yahweh raised Him from the dead to immortality. We are delivered and saved by calling on the Name of Yahweh through Yah'shua (Jesus) our Master, and through believing Him in our hearts we are made right in His eyes.
If there is one message I want to get across this Yom haBikkurim it is that we believe and obey the dozens of scriptures which tell us that ultimately all salvation and deliverance is through our Heavenly Father, Yahweh, blessed be His Name! It is by His appointment that Yah'shua (Jesus) is "Lord of lords and King of kings" (Rev.17:14, NKJV; cp. 1 Tim.6:15) as the representative of His Father. And what is His Father, Yahweh? We read:
"For Yahweh your Elohim is Elohim (God) of elohim (gods) and Lord of lords, the great El (God), mighty and awesome, who shows no partiality nor takes a bribe. He administers justice for the fatherless and the widow, and loves the stranger, giving him food and clothing" (Deut.10:17-18, NKJV; cp. Ps.136:3).
As New Covenant Christians we worship the Most High God, El Elyon, whose Name YAHWEH is an eternal memorial. He has appointed Yah'shua (Jesus), whose Name contains YAH, as our Lord, Master, Saviour and King, because of His great atoning sacrifice for us. And because He bears the Name of Yahweh in His own Name Yah'shua (Jesus), I worship Yahweh through Him with joy and gladness in my heart. Yahweh has given us the Deliverer, Yah'shua, that we might wholly trust and rely on Him in all things, and He has given us His eternal Torah to keep us on the strait and narrow way that leads to eternal life. He has given us a Saviour and an Israelite identity, making us Messianic Israelites. Thus we own a double inheritance if we are true and faithful. May the Name of Yahweh be praised! Amen.
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Last updated on 5 June 2005
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