Month 1:15, Week 2:7 (Shibi'i/Sukkot), Year:Day 5936:015 AM|
SABBATH 1:2, Chag haMatzah (Unleavened Bread): Annual Moed #2, Day #1
Gregorian Calendar: Friday 6 April 2012
Chag haMatzah I
The Feast of Spiritual Detoxification
Continued from Part 1
Chag Sameach kol beit Yisrael - a very blessed Feast of Unleavened Bread to all the House of Messianic Israel!
"So this day (Passover/Pesach) shall be to you a memorial; and you shall keep it as a feast to Yahweh throughout your generations. You shall keep it as a feast by an everlasting ordinance. Seven days you shall eat unleavened bread. On the first day you shall remove leaven from your houses. For whoever eats leavened bread from the first day until the seventh day, that person shall be cut off from Israel. On the first day there shall be a holy convocation, and on the seventh day there shall be a holy convocation for you. No manner of work shall be done on them; but that which everyone must eat -- that only may be prepared by you. So you shall observe Chag haMatzah (the Feast of Unleavened Bread), for on this same day I will have brought your armies out of the land of Egypt. Therefore you shall observe this day throughout your generations as an everlasting ordinance" (Ex.12:14-17, NKJV)
I was unsure that I would be with you today as some of you know I was taken quite ill yesterday and had to skip Pesach, the first time I have done so in 11 years, so I will be taking advantage of Yahweh's provision for a late Pesach next month which He instituted for the benefit of those unable to make the original one. I want to thank those of you who were praying for me last night. Actually, I had a warning from a brother a week or two ago saying that the enemy would attack before the start of our spring conference and he was right. I am grateful to him too for the warning.
In spite of the extreme discomfort of the night, it has been a very productive one, with Yahweh showing me many different things in visions and dreams, which goes to show that He works in us no matter what our circumstances. I want to share a couple of these with you today, time permitting.
We actually began eating matzah or unleavened bread yesterday as this is also commanded as part of the observence of the Passover meal (Ex.12:7-8). Over the years a ritual has evolved called Bedikat haMatzah which literally means 'the search for leaven'. In Jewish tradition, the wife thoroughly cleans the house to remove all leaven (haMetz). She purposefully leaves ten small pieces of leaven and then the father takes the children, along with a candle, a wooden spoon, a feather, and a piece of linen cloth, and searches through the house for the ten pieces of leaven. By nightfall (since the Jews observe a sunset-to-sunset day) on the day before Pesach, a final and comprehensive search is performed. At this time, the house is completely dark except for the candles. Once the father finds the bread crumb or piece, he puts the candle down by the leaven and lays the wooden spoon beside it, using the feather to sweep the leaven onto the spoon. Without touching the leaven, he takes feather, spoon and leaven, wraps them in a linen cloth, and throws them out the door of the house. The next morning he goes into the synagogue and puts the linen cloth and its contents into a fire to be burned .
Talmudic Jews and many Messianics make much ado about this ritual which, though very quaint, was obviously not observed by the first Israelites and is nowhere commanded by Yahweh. Though my family initialy imitated the Messianic Jews, who in turn got these things from Talmudic Jews, these are practices which we no longer follow in this ministry.
As you read the Messianic Scriptures (New Testament) carefully you come to understand that whilst the festivals of Israel are still a part of Messianic Israel, there is a wholly new approach to them. Paul said:
The context of these comments is sexual immorality (vv.1-6a). The apostle then concludes his discourse, having used the illustration of Pesach and Chag haMatzah:
"Do you not know that a little leaven leavens the whole lump? Therefore purge out the old leaven, that you may be a new lump, since you truly are unleavened. For indeed Messiah (Christ), our Pesach (Passover), was sacrificed for us. Therefore let us keep the feast, not with old leaven, nor with the leaven of malice and wickedness, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and emet (truth)" (1 Cor.5:6b-8, NKJV).
Recall Yahweh's words in our opening passage:
"I wrote to you in my epistle not to keep company with sexually immoral people. Yet I certainly did not mean with the sexually immoral people of this world, or with the covetous, or extortioners, or idolaters, since then you would need to go out of the world. But now I have written to you not to keep company with anyone named a brother, who is sexually immoral, or covetous, or an idolater, or a reviler, or a drunkard, or an extortioner -- not even to eat with such a person. For what have I to do with judging those also who are outside? Do you not judge those who are inside? But those who are outside Elohim (God) judges. Therefore 'put away from yourselves the evil person'" (1 Cor.5:9-13, NKJV).
This was what Paul was talking about. Under the Old Covenant you could be put to physical death for violating the Sabbath (see The 25 Death Penalties) but what Yahweh is really more interested in is the condition of your lev (heart). Those first Israelites would descend into base sexual immorality at least twice on their journeying to the Promised Land - once when they engaged in orgies around the Egyptian pagan god Apis in the form of the Golden Calf, and once when they followed Balaam when they sank into the depravities of Baal-Peor, for which they paid dearly. They repeated these things again and again throughout the centuries after the settlement before being expelled from the land. Under the Old Covenant you could be thrown out of the community for having leaven in your house at Chag haMatzah but what Yahweh is really interested in is whether or not you have an indifferent attitude to sin. This is what Chag haMatzah is really about and why we still need to observe it, not because observance saves us, but because observance helps remind us not to get casual about our salvation - for as Paul reminds us elsewhere:
"For whoever eats leavened bread from the first day until the seventh day, that person shall be cut off from Israel".
Chag haMatzah, then, becomes a warning not to become indifferent to the consequences of sin and the need to be diligent in getting it out of our lives, because if you are indifferent, than sin will multiply and spread until you are overwhelmed by it. Then that which was apparently of no significance at all grows into a monster that is hard to evict. Paul, knowing what terrible demonic strongholds can be created by compromising on Yahweh's laws about sexual purity, uses Chag haMatzah as an illustration to get rid of the roots of this and of all sin, namely, a lack of sincerity, a lack of emet (truth). These are the chief ingredients of matzah and stand opposed to the modern false, lawless teaching of 'once saved, always saved'.
"..work out your own salvation with fear and trembling" (Phil 2:12, NKJV).
Having said all of this, Yahweh reminded me of something very important last night. Though I was doubled up in pain, I opened the Scriptures and He led me to some Messianic Scripture (New Testament) passages. As I moved around between the Pauline and Johannine epistles, I was reminded again and again that the emphasis in the New Covenant is not ritual but ahavah (love). Ritual is for instruction and for memorisation, but it is not what it is pointing to. It is the schoolmaster but not the lesson itself.
When we are commanded at this time to clean out our houses, the reference is not primarily to our homes (though this is certainly an important part) but to our physical bodies. Our bodies are houses or temples of Elohim (God) (Heb.3:6; 1 Pet.2:5; 1 Tim.3:15; Eph.2:19) and we are to remove sin from these houses (1 Cor.3:16-17; 6:19-20; 2 Cor.6:15-18). This can only be done if we willingly surrender to Yah'shua (Jesus) and allow the Ruach haQodesh (Holy Spirit) to work in us, in conjunction with studying the Davar (Word) of Scripture by revealing sin areas so that we can make teshuvah (repent). We need these two together - the written and the living Davar (Word) which is why Yahweh commands us to seek both. Without either, a state of stupor or mental unawareness will result and you will become like the people I saw in one of my dreams last night.
I dreamed last night that I was back in my old College in Oxford University which represents my intellectual side. I was making my way to the Porter's Lodge to collect my mail, as had been my daily routine when I was a student. On my way back to my rooms I bumped into a student who was completely drunk and highly agitated. Though I apologised, he was very angry with me, but was too far out of it to remain to just with me. As I passed by the dinner hall I saw two or three students likewise totally inebriated. One of them was performing strange antics in a very discoordinated manner - he was completely high and unaware of what was going on around him, as were his companions in inebriation. I watched the peculiar scene for some time, wondering what contortion would follow next in this extraordinary display, and then became aware that everyone around me was drunk too. I seemed to be the only one who was sober. It reminded me of words of Peter in the scripture:
In this particular dream, I was in the world of academia where I spent many years of my life, where the leading minds of the world briefly take up residence to be equipped for their intended careers. But how sad, in such places where there is a glaring absense of any sort of a spiritual life, that in reality these people are but drunk in their conviction that their minds will solve all. The human mind alone is incapable to solving any of the world's problems, let alone making any sense of it. And though I acquired some useful disciplines at University that have since served me well in my particular calling, what I learned there intellectually contributed zero to what really matters - a knowledge of saving, spiritual emet (truth). I know I picked up a lot of leaven from College, not least of which was intellectual pride, a leaden weight to the spiritual life if ever their was one. And I have known many believers whose intellectual prowess was a stumbling stone to their humility and whose emunah (faith) was shipwrecked by it.
"Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour. Resist him, steadfast in the emunah (faith), knowing that the same sufferings are experienced by your brotherhood in the world. But may the Elohim (God) of all grace, who called us to His eternal glory by Messiah Yah'shua (Christ Jesus), after you have suffered a while, perfect, establish, strengthen, and settle you" (1 Peter 5:7-10, NKJV).
I think last night I came to the final realisation that there was nothing worth clinging onto of a spiritual nature that I was immersed in while at College. It was good to say goodbye to it without any regrets. I did, however, come to salvation in College, but that was because of letters from Elohim (God) and not because of university lectures and tutorials.
My point in recounting and sharing this with you is to remind us that anything outside the Eternal Davar (Word) is to exist in a state of spiritual inebriation. Those drunk in and with the world have yet to come to conscious-awareness of reality. After the hangover of their inadvised revelry in sin, they will have to make choices - whether to go back to sleep or whether to remain sober, as Peter admonished. Those who are drunk do not, of course, have any idea what they are doing or how utterly stupid they look, not how dangerous they can sometimes me to others. There is nothing noble, as befits the children of Yahweh, in such senseless, mindless anarchy. The challenge of Chag haMatzah is to leave this world of supefaction and wasted time and to get serious about, first, getting Yah'shua (Jesus) into your life, and second, working in Him to be rid of sin - which implies, getting rid of the sinful disposition, which is the real goal. For only then can we live and be what Yahweh made us for, to be vessels of His ahavah (love).
Yesterday my youngest daughter asked me after our Passover meeting in the afternoon if I wanted to share any of the sin-issues that have come to light this season. She does not mince her words! So I shared with her one of things I had been working with. Today I want to share another, though this is more general in nature. My illness last night was a not-so-gentle reminder, I think, do go through a body detoxification program, something I have been postponing because of my reluctance to undergo a radical change in diet. In this I have been inspired by one of the brethren who has done this very thing, and also a member of the family. I have watched their struggles and seen the progress they have made.
Our lifestyles and eating habits bring on all kinds of diseases and illnesses. As many of you know, I have been a fibromyalgia sufferer for decades. I can't even remember what it is to have a long, deep sleep, and I don't remember when I last slept through the night. Fast foods, smoking, sugar-addiction and other bad habits deteriorate our bodies and break the body's natural power to combat illness and we introduce more and more harmful toxins into our system. Most of you know most of the foods sold in the supermarkets are loaded with poisons so finding good food is becoming harder and harder unless you grow it yourself, something that the powers-that-be are trying to prevent so that they can - as I mentioned yesterday - fulful their utopian agenda to exterminate 90% of the world population.
I am not going to get into a discussion of detoxificatiion programs here today partly because I am a newbie to this but also because I want to note the parallel with Chag haMatzah which is a Festival of Spiritual Detoxification, a reminder that we need to work to get sin out of our lives by following the Divine Program. What is that Program? It is the Program layed out in the Bible, a Program of Divine Tavnith (Pattern), complex of emet (truth) arranged in its proper order. That is what Chag haMatzah is all about. It is not about eating unleavened bread or matzah as a quaint ritual to just 'do', but it is a remidner that we need constant spiritual cleansing. And if we fail to do this as part of a daily habit - just just for seven days every year - then we are going to fall spiritually ill and end up in a drunken spiritual stupor.
In any detoxification process, though, there are unpleasantries. The accumulated toxins have to be voided - we have to get them out! In the case of sin, this usually means getting rid of some nasty demonic entities too, meaning there is a need for deliverance. Just as in chemical detoxification we need to cleanse out the lymph glands, kidneys, lungs, liver, colon and skin, so in the spiritual detoxification program represented by Chag haMatzah we have to cleanse out our spiritual organs too - our mind and thinking, our lev and feelings, and our bodily impulses and passions. All are wired together and all need treatment. And the physician is Yah'shua the Messiah (Jesus Christ).
Deep down we all know we have to do this so the main obstacle is our unwillingness and the things that are presently holding us back. During this seven-day season of Chag haMatzah we really do need to honestly examine our motives. Why do I insist on being lawless? Why am I refusing to be Torah-compliant? Why do I turn myself off when I should be loving? Why do I avoid the issues? And how can all of this change? The challenge is for no less than revolutionary change, which is what the Besorah (Gospel) really is, even if we have lived in denial of it, prefering to keep things down to simple rituals requiring little of us like fasting from leavened bread for a week or just repeating salvational formulas and prayers instead of letting the Ruach (Spririt) make some real changes in us.
I will have more to say about this tomorrow, Yah willing, so please join us again!
Continued in Part 3
 Edward Chumney, The Seven Festivals of the Messiah (Treasure House, Shippensburg, PA: 1994), p.59