Month 1:14, Week 2:6 (Sheshi/Kippur), Year:Day 5936:014 AM|
PESACH (Passover): Annual Moed #1
Gregorian Calendar: Thursday 5 April 2012
Eternal Beginnings, Eternal Substitution: Not I, But Messiah Yah'shua!
Chag sameach Pesach kol beit Yisra'el a Blessed Feast of Passover to All the House of [Messianic] Israel, and grace and shalom (peace) in Yah'shua our Messiah!
The Sunrise Gospel
I am very pleased to be able to welcome you to this afternoon service so that we can talk about some things before the memorial supper this evening. This is the very first time we have observed Passover in this fashion since repenting of sunset-to-sunset day-keeping and having returned to biblical sunrise day-keeping only 2-3 weeks ago. For those of us trained in the Talmudic sunset system, this gives Pesach a wholly new feel and - I might add - a very pleasant one! We have been accustomed to thinking in terms dark-light, dark-light which one Messianic leader has rightly noted symbolises mankind in darkness followed by the Ohr (Light) of Messiah entering in (which he uses, incidentally, to justify sunset-to-sunset worship). And from a human point-of-view, this is, indeed how it looks. We find ourselves in darkness and are filled with Ohr (Light) when we submit to Messiah...though we can equally submit to a counterfeit light and think we are saved when we are not.
However, the Universe and our Solar System was made by Yahweh. Our world - the one that we know - was created on Yom Rishon (Day #1) though in Genesis it is specifically called Yom Echad - the Day of Oneness or Unity, a designation I think you will find particularly interesting as we work through the material I want to share with you today. From man's perspective, we begin with darkness and we choose Ohr or Light and, and our darkness is transformed into Ohr (Light) but from Yahweh's perspective there is Ohr (Light) and it shines on darkness - us - as we either embrace it or reject it. From man's perspective, we live in a sunset-to-sunset existence but from Yahweh's, it is always sunrise-to-sunrise. The moment we start centering on ourselves, we experience spiritual sunset, but the moment we centre on Yahweh, we experience sunrise! Let's make this a Yahweh-centred life!
The title and theme of this Pesach season is quite a long one because I want to bring several different themes together into Echad-Oneness. I have called it, Eternal Beginnings, Eternal Substitution: Not I, But Messiah Yah'shua! Talmudic Judaism was, and it, a sunset-to-sunset religion because it stubbornly rejected the Ohr (Light) of Messiah and it can now be conclusively shown that the Judahites of the First Century were expecting a Divine Messiah - a Messiah was Elohim (God), as is clearly revealed by the Targum Isaiah written by Jonathan Ben Uzziel over 2,000 years ago, Hillel's most distinguished pupil. It was first translated into English by an Orthodox Jewish Rabbi called Tzvi Nassi in the early 1800's and is a kind of paraphrase/commentary on the Book of Isaiah. This believe in a divine Messiah was the sunrise expectation of Judah. But when He came the power-hungry leaders denied Him and re-invented their religion in order to do so, creating a sunset religion which variously claimed that the Jewish Messiah would either be a mortal man like David or Solomon or - incredibly as well as idolatrously and blasphemously - that the Messiah was the Israelite people as a whole, and specifically, the 'Jews'. Indeed, today they claim specifically that the Suffering Servant of Isaiah is the Jewish people, a dark sunset doctrine if ever there was one. More about that in just a moment.
We are, as I speak to you, still adusting to the sunrise teaching of the Besorah (Gospel). We recall the words of the apostle Peter who said:
That star is Yah'shua the Messiah (Jesus Christ) who is literally our "morning star", our 'star of the dawn', the One who makes new beginnings for us for ever and ever, maturing us but keeping us forever young at heart. Yah'shua (Jesus) is the star of Pesach - it's all about Him.
"And so we have the prophetic davar (word) confirmed, which you do well to heed as an ohr (light) that shines in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your levim (hearts)" (2 Peter 1:18-19, NKJV).
Today we celebrate many things simultaneously. We celebrate the Birth of Messiah - yes, today was the day that He was born!  - and we remember that this was the day that He died and was buried 33 years later, atoning for our sins, before rising from the Dead at Yom haBikkurim on the third day of this triple spring festival, so that we might have our sunrise - our dawning - our New Life. We also remember our ancestors whose journeyings from Egypt to the Promised Land are a map of our own spiritual journey in Messiah, a desert trek that will be dwarfed by the time He returns again by an even more spectacular exodus by Messianic Israel scattered across the whole world as she makes her way home spiritually, itself becoming a symbol of the greatest spiritual movement this planet has ever seen, even though this last exodus will only be made by a small minority of the planet's population.
As we look at the divine tavnith (pattern) in all of this we better understand why this day commemorates the first day of Creation too - specifically, the reordering of this planet after the cosmic malak (angel) rebellion - and how it is that we too are constantly and cyclically being re-created in Yahweh-Elohim's image, an image marred by continually sinning. And though Chag haMatzah does not begin until tomorrow at sunrise, we are nevertheless commanded to begin excluding its key ingredient (yeast) this evening at the Commemorative Meal. Why? Because in eating matzah or unleavened bread we are acknowledging our part in this Great Dawning - our obligation to get sin out of our life by:
The Suffering Servant of Isaiah 53
- 1. Seeking empowerment from Yah'shua (Jesus) to not sin through the Ruach haQodesh (Holy Spirit); and
- 2. When we do, to repent and ask Yah'shua (Jesus) to cleanse us by the blood of the Paschal Lamb.
Let's begin by clearing identifying the Suffering Servant who is the key player at Pesach. Let's start by closely looking at that - I invite you to turn with me in your Bibles to the 53rd chapter of Isaiah - I shall be using a messianised New King James Version text.
Isaiah 53 is one of the key Tanakh (Old Testament) messianic passages that fits exactly the life of Yah'shua (Jesus), pointing to the doctrine of the cross. It is, therefore, an accute embarrassment for the rabbis and unbelieving Jews in general who have sought to reinterpret the Suffering Servant as the Jewish people themselves (because, for example, of their suffering in the holocaust). However, as this simple exegesis will show, the Suffering Servant cannot refer to the Jewish people, nor indeed to Jewish expectations of a warrior-messiah like King David.
Yah'shua (Jesus) is here the "tender plant" (gentle in mannerisms, mortal as a human), Yah'shua (Jesus) is here the one who is not particularly attractive. He was no Brad Pitt. He had "no form or comeliness", meaning there was nothing that would make you say 'Wow!' just by looking at him: he looked like your common Joe, no matter what the painters have done to make him the most beautiful human being that ever lived with long blonde hair and blue eyes. Indeed, the prophecy specifically says "there is no beauty that we should desire Him", meaning that He would never have become an icon of Hollywood or a media celebrity. This is a very plain, ordinary-looking man. Indeed, far from being a magnet to those who esteem the flesh to be of great value, He was "despised and rejected by men, a Man of sorrows and acquainted with grief". Yahweh so cloaked Him that those who loved the flesh but not the spirit would look down on Him with contempt. His beauty would come from within - a beauty of character and of spirit - that would only draw the spiritual and those who loved goodness and emet (truth).
"Who has believed our report? And to whom has the arm of Yahweh been revealed? For He shall grow up before Him as a tender plant, and as a root out of dry ground. He has no form or comeliness; and when we see Him, there is no beauty that we should desire Him. He is despised and rejected by men, a Man of sorrows and acquainted with grief. And we hid, as it were, our faces from Him" (vv.1-3a).
The Talmudic Rabbis want us to believe that this passage is a description of the Jewish people. However, the concluding statement of this segment totally disproves this hypthesis: "And we hid, as it were, our faces from Him". Since the people hiding their faces from the Suffering Servant were Israelites, Judahites or 'Jews', how could they possibly hide their faces from themselves? This is not possible.
Honestly, as you look through the pages of the Bible and study the history of Israel and Judah, did Israel ever "despised" herself? Did Israel ever regarded herself as having "no esteem"? The consistent witness of history is that whether Israel or mankind as a whole, people have always had an inflated regard for themselves and have always esteemed themselves highly! No, this passage of Scripture is absolutely not describing human beings, but the Man of Elohim (God), the Son of Elohim (God), Yah'shua the Messiah (Jesus Christ)!
"He was despised, and we did not esteem Him" (v.3b).
Since when has Israel or Judah (or even the Gentiles) been healed by his own sufferings? If the Jews or anyone else have suffered so much - and who can deny the awful suffering of humanity - then why are they not healed? Can anyone say, with their hands on their hearts, that the Jewish community is a healed one? Have their suffering made them a beacon of emet (truth) which the world seeks to emulate? Do unsaved Jews or anyone else for that matter bring you the hope, confidence, shalom (peace) and simcha (joy) that the soul so desperately craves? Indeed does not the next verse testify:
"Surely He has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed Him stricken, smitten by Elohim (God), and afflicted. But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; the chastisement for our shalom (peace) was upon Him, and by His stripes we are healed" (vv.4-5).
If the whole world, including the Jews, has gone astray - if the whole world, including the Jews have each gone their own way - and if Yahweh has laid on the Suffering Servent the inquity of the whole world (including the Jews) their iniquity, then who amongst this great lost flock of sinners should we follow? No, the plain sense here is that Yahweh has laid our sins on the Son of Man, causing Him to suffer in a way that we will never grasp.
"All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned, every one, to his own way; and Yahweh has laid on Him the iniquity of us all" (v.6).
Since when have the Jews ever not opened their mouths? If, for example, the Jews ever once resisted during the Holocaust, the rabbinical interpretation of this passage would be proved false. But the rebellion of the Warsaw Ghetto in 1944 shows that they did resist, and noisily. And ever since they started settling Palestine, they have been 'resisting' the British, the Arabs, and the world by force of arms and by terrorism. The Anti-Defamation League (ADL), to mention one of many Jewish self-defence organisations in the USA, is likewise evidence that they could not possibly the Suffering Servant of Isaiah. The only human beings that have ever suffered in the messianic way have been those who have died having Messiah IN them, like righteous Stephen who was stoned to death praising Yahweh and asking Him to forgive his murderers, including Paul. Anyone who protests their suffering can not be the Suffering Servant!
"He was oppressed and He was afflicted, yet He opened not His mouth; He was led as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before its shearers is silent, so He opened not His mouth" (v.7)
Well, the generations of the Jews have been declared from one generation to the next without interruption for the last 2,000 years so this cannot possibly be referring to them. Rather, who can point to Yah'shua (Jesus') offspring, whether you believe He was married and had children or not? No one can do that.
If this passage refers to the Jews, then they should have ceased to exist - they should all be dead, which they are manifestly not. Plainly this was Yah'shua (Jesus) who was killed.
"He was taken from prison and from judgment, and who will declare His generation?" (v.8a).
The rabbinical interpretation of this chapter is disproved if even one Jew has been violent or one Jew has ever been deceitful. Yet their violence and deceit is repeatedly condemned by the prophets in the Tanakh (Old Testament), not to mention their record of violence in the 20th and 21st centuries (their various terrorist organisations like Irgun, Haganah, and militant Zionists in general). Indeed, there is not a single human being on this planet with such purity of character!
"For the transgressions of My people He was stricken. And they made His grave with the wicked -- But with the rich at His death, because He had done no violence, nor was any deceit in His mouth" (vv.8c-9).
Since when has the blood atonement of humans ever been acceptable for sin in the general sense? Under the Mosaic Covenant only certain animals could make temporary atonement for sin. The moment a Jew claims this passage refers to him or his collective people, he is claiming to be a Moloch-worshipper, for Moloch claimed - as Satan still does - human sacrifice is necessary to appease God's wrath.
If the Jews have been exterminated as they must claim because of verse 8), then in order to fulfil this verse, they must all be brought back to life again - physically, not in some abstract metaphorical sense. This is a prophecy about the resurrection of Messiah!
"Yet it pleased Yahweh to bruise Him; He has put Him to grief. When You make His soul an offering for sin..." (v.10a).
Since when have the Jews made intercession for anyone but themselves whether as sin-bearers or otherwise? No, we shall not today rob Yah'shua (Jesus) of His glory but rather give it to Him by proclaiming that He was the fulfillment of this 53rd chapter of Isaiah . Isaiah 53 is the sunrise revelation about the Ohr (Light) of Messiah; it is not the sunset revelation of Judaism that proclaims salvation through a people by their own works. The heart and essence of Pesach is that the only hope of salvation for lost humanity is the Blood of the Paschal Lamb.
"He shall prolong His days, and the pleasure of Yahweh shall prosper in His hand. He shall see the labour of His soul, and be satisfied. By His knowledge My righteous Servant shall justify many, for He shall bear their iniquities. Therefore I will divide Him a portion with the great, and He shall divide the spoil with the strong, because He poured out His soul unto death, and He was numbered with the transgressors, and He bore the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors" (vv.10c-12).
For those of you who will not be joining us this evening for the Commemorative Passover Meal, I invite you to look at last year's New Covenant Messianic Evangelical Haggadah both so that you know what to do if you are celebrating Passover for the first time as well as to receive further instruction.
Birth of Messiah
I have often been asked - and have asked myself the same question - why we were never commanded to specifically observe the birth of Yah'shua (Jesus) (which was not during the pagan Christmas). Apart from the fact that birthday celebrations were unknown in the ancient world (except amongst the Pharaoh's who believed they were reincarnated gods), the reason, I believe, is because the birth of Messiah is hidden up in Pesach and so forms a part of a much larger celebration involving human spiritual rebirth. There is, of course, no question that the birth of Messiah is unimportant - it is, which is why Satan, acting through his agent Herod the Great, sought the Child's destruction and was willing to massacre all the innocents of Bethlehem to do so:
Yah'shua's (Jesus') beginning is our beginning also - in the flesh as well as in the spirit. We return each Passover to begin again - not, hopefully, at the place where we were the previous year (if we have spiritually stagnated for a year), and hopefully not right back at the very beginning if we have fallen away and are making teshuvah (repentance) and returning to Messiah. Rather, I hope we are moving from one level of sanctification to another until we have fully acquired the character of Messiah and are whole like Him.
"But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, though you are little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of you shall come forth to Me the One to be Ruler in Israel, whose goings forth are from of old, from everlasting" (Mic.5:2, NKJV; cp. Mt.2:5).
Like all major adjustments that follow in the wake of making teshuvah (repenting), it may take some of you a little time getting used to. We are by nature creatures who like constancy but in a world where nearly all the divine constants have been deliberately changed by the Enemy to make it harder for people to find their way home to Elohim (God), this can be a little challenging. The besorah (good news) is that the Emet (Truth) does set you free (Jn.8:32), something that's even more important now in this tumultuous world in which we currently live.
Getting Back to the Basics of the Gospel
The spring season of festivals is a unique opportunity for Yahweh's people to get back to basics. Over the next few days we are going to be looking at foundations, at the basis of life, what it is to be fully human, what it is to be secure, what it is to be 'normal'. Before you build a house with its walls and roof, you have to get the foundation right if you don't want it to collapse at some future date.
Yah'shua (Jesus) purposefully tells the story of the man who built his house on rock and of another who built one on sand (Mt.7:24-29). He reminds us that building on rock takes a lot more effort and work than building on sand. The house with a sandy foundation is the lazy man's as well as the foolish man's route to life. People want to take short cuts, they want to manage without Yahweh and His demands on their lives because they want, as they suppose, to be 'free'. Whatever the sandy man may have thought when he started his building project, he could not have been thinking the same after the rains washed his house away and left him homeless. Nothing that we build in this life has any permanence unless it is built on the Rock, which is Messiah.
Those of us who have made a study of human nature - its character and behaviour - and have compared human efforts to make the 'perfect man' without Elohim (God), know that such undertaking is impossible. Whether it be the perfect communist, perfect fascist, perfect social democrat, perfect liberal, perfect conservative, perfect humanist, perfect atheist or perfect religious man, all such projects have resulted in abject failure, no matter what clever checks and balances you introduce. Once you have examined all of these systems and found them to be seriously wanting, you are left with the inevitable conclusion that man, by his own efforts, is no more 'advanced' today than he was at the dawn of history. We are a most sophisticated, technologically-advanced society but we are still beset by the same old deadly sins. We have not advanced an iota in that respect except where we have put out trust in Messiah.
I have been studying Communist China for the past few months and have been appalled at the bestiality of man. And we are rapidly heading towards another 'Red China' in the West today, albeit under different lebels and hiding under a different philosophy. But this time it will be global. Is a man-made paradise just around the corner? Are the utopians and globalists - secular and religious - going to give it to us? No, they will simply bring hell-on-earth once again. The earth is still a violent place and it is getting worse. The élite has declared openly that they intend to kill 9 out of 10 of us to build their Utopia and they have already started.
There are some pretty impressive characters throughout history - great men and women - but when compared to the Perfect Life they fall alarmingly short. But has a perfect life ever been lived? Only once - only that of the Son of Elohim (God) Himself.
I was talking to a lady the other day and asked her what her religion or philosophy of life was. She told me that all she sought was 'Good'. And I believe her. There are millions of sincere people who want goodness but they are baffled as to how to 'get' it. All self-effort to be 'good' seems to fail. For whilst most human beings desire goodness they are at a loss as to how to make it a lasting reality. Remove a slum and three more spring up. Make a resolution to stop sinning in your own power, and out pop mroe sins. It also takes more than one to tango and it takes more than one soul to create a good society - it takes a very large majority to make it work.
If Christianity or Messianism is the true religion, why are there so many 'Christians' and 'Messianics' who are clearly not good? Over the years I have met some pretty despicable ones! A good many of those people in my life who have caused me the greatest harm and hurt have been those who claim to be followers of Christ/Messiah - how is this possible? And, honestly, I sympathise with unbelievers who are turned off Christianity and Messianism when they see all the bad things that those who claim to be Messiah's talmidim (disciples) have done.
The first thing you must realise is that things like 'Christianity' and the 'church' are just mental constructs anyway. They have no real objective basis in reality. We're just collections of people. You cannot go out of your house, collect 'Christianity' or the 'church' and bring it inside, even assuming that you had a huge house. All you can hope to do is pick out a few individuals who call themselves 'Christian' or 'Messianic' and get to know them personally.
How many people do you expect to meet in your lifetime assuming, say, you live to the ripe old age of 90? Well, of course, it will vary from individual to individual. It will depend whether you live in the country or in a large metropolis. It will also depend whether you're just talking about saying a casual 'Hello' to someone on the street and never speaking to them again or whether you actually spend a lot of time getting to know them. Taking all kinds of acquaintances into consideration, one researcher calculated that we meet around 100,000 people in a lifetime. Of these, you will probably never come to know more than about 100 in any great depth. And of those you come to know intimately, like spouses, family members and best friends, perhaps there will be no more than about 20 or 30 such people whom you know really well.
So how well do we even know people that we are competent to judge them? Yahweh knows your spouse far better than you will ever know him or her. Indeed, as I have discovered after having lived on this planet for about 20,000 days, people are incredibly surprising and complex and it would take many lifetimes to just get to know one person that well, so I am grateful we have eternity to do such things. Have you ever wondered what we are going to use eternity for? Well, there's one.
I am not even sure I really know myself and I am quite sure Yahweh knows me far better than I ever could. So much of us is buried beneath layer after layer of unconsciousness that were all to surface simultaneously we would all probably go mad. We are complex, we are sensitive, and we are made in the likeness of Elohim (God) Himself. The only thing is, we have all messed up, and we have all messed up big-time, however much of a pretense we may put on to convince ourselves and others that we haven't.
For this reason alone, no one person is 'better' than, or 'superior' to, another. We are all trying to figure out what we are, who we are, and what our place is in this exceptionally complex and confusing world. To cope we over-simplify, we label and we categorise, and just make things worse, especially when end up totally misjudging someone.
The truth is, we cannot manage to live on our own without locking away huge chunks of ourselves and pretending they aren't there. And that is absolutely no way to live. Skeletons come out of cupboards, things surface whether we want them to or not, and what we discover is that we are all little incarnations of chaos. And we hate it.
I hope you are one of those persons like myself who wants to end the chaos, find wholeness and live a purposeful and meaningful life. The first true revelation we get - if we search deep enough - is that we can't achieve these things alone. We have the drive to try even if most don't put a great deal of effort into it but prefer to drift with every current that comes by.
The apostle Paul was such a searcher. He was a highly intelligent, religious man but his religion gave him no shalom (peace) and indeed turned him into a muderous bigot. He was the kind of religious person you did not want to know, unless you were a murderous bigot like himself - and even then you might not have wanted to because such relationships have a way of throwing up mirrors to show us reflections of ourselves we'd rather not see. So I suspect he pretty much kept to himself...as those who don't want to look into the mirror often do.
Paul had followed a train of thoughts and and made a series of choices which seemed intelligent and reasonable to him at the time but which brought him no closer to the emet (truth) of who he was and who Elohim (God) was. Yahweh was, for him, as for so many religious people, simply a mental construct, but not a living reality. Yes, he had the Tanakh (Old Testament) which is full of emet (truth) but he was entirely blind to its true meaning, just as so many Jews and Christians still are today, which is why he would later claim that his former religious life had been worthless compared to what he would receive in Damascus in the living knowledge of Messiah. Having a Book of Emet (Truth) was not the solution to his problem, because his problem was human nature itself. No matter how much written and intellectual emet (truth) he had, he somehow couldn't make it work for himself. And this is the great human dilemma.
I have partly titled today's sermon, No Longer I, But Messiah Yah'shua because I believe that these words of Paul are the very solution to all religious and non-religious dilemmas. I quote from the apostle:
Paul discovered that though spiritual rules are necessary to enable us to measure where we are on the Way, that religious rules (or secular ones, for that matter) do not confer chayim (life), meaning and purpose. Indeed, he discovered that the only solution to the dilemma of life was to exchange an imperfect (and ultimately destructive) one for a Perfect Life - the life of the One who was without fault. In other words, the solution to the dilemma of life was to die to the futile cravings of self and to substitute that for the sum total of all goodness in the form of a Person - a life-transplant.
"I have been crucified with Messiah (Christ); it is no longer I who live, but Messiah (Christ) lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of Elohim (God), who loved me and gave Himself for me" (Gal 2:19-20, NKJV).
I want to hasten to add here, for those of you who may be reading me today who are not yet believers, that what I am talking about here is no mere mental construct either. I am talking about chayim or life itself, that which makes us conscious, that which quickens in us the desire for good, for happiness, for wholeness and for shalom (peace). I am talking about ultimate reality, not religious formulas. The details I hope to talk about tomorrow when we assemble for a High Sabbath on the first day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread.
As we gather for the Pesach meal this evening, let us approach the table as we would Messiah Himself asking for a life transplant (if we have never before done so) or asking Him to transplanet the parts of oruselves which we never gave to Him last time...or any time rpeviously. Let us make this a truly new start, a renewed beginning, so that we can look the coming year in the face, meet it head-on fully equipped and empowered in Messiah Ŭah'shua (Jesus) so that we can better be about His will. That's my desire and I pray it is yours too. Amen.
Continued in Part 2
 See Why We Believe Messiah was Born on Passover
 Are the Jews the Suffering Servant of Isaiah 53?