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Jesus in the Year of Jubilee

10 Nov

Jubilee
After seven Sabbaths of years, meaning 7 X 7 or 49 years, the 50th year was to be celebrated as the Year of Jubilee. This was a year of restoration of lands and people out of bondage. If land hand been sold due to poverty, in this year it was restored to the original owner, so that the land remained with the tribes as originally allotted to them. If a person was sold into servitude because of poverty, in this year, if not redeemed earlier, they would be set free.
They were also not to sow their crops every Sabbath year, or 7th year. They also were not to sow crops in the Jubilee year, but only eat what grew on its own. Just as God provided extra manna on the sixth day to feed them on the Sabbath, so He would reward their faithfulness in this.
God states the reason for the Year of Jubilee. “For they are My servants, whom I brought out of the land of Egypt; they shall not be sold as slaves.” Lev. 25:42
It is a beautiful picture of the release we receive from Jesus from our slavery to sin.
“Do you not know that to whom you present yourselves slaves to obey, you are that one’s slaves whom you obey, whether of sin leading to death, or of obedience leading to righteousness? But God be thanked that though you were slaves of sin, yet you obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine to which you were delivered. And having been set free from sin, you became slaves of righteousness.” Rom. 6:16-18
Jesus applied a prophecy from Isaiah to Himself, in Luke 4:16-21
“So He came to Nazareth, where He had been brought up. And as His custom was, He went into the synagogue on the Sabbath day, and stood up to read. And He was handed the book of the prophet Isaiah. And when He had opened the book, He found the place where it was written:
‘The Spirit of the LORD is upon Me,
Because He has anointed Me
To preach the gospel to the poor;
He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted,
To proclaim liberty to the captives
And recovery of sight to the blind,
To set at liberty those who are oppressed;
To proclaim the acceptable year of the LORD.’
Then He closed the book, and gave it back to the attendant and sat down. And the eyes of all who were in the synagogue were fixed on Him. And He began to say to them, ‘Today this Scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.’” Luke 4:16-21
We are free from the requirements to keep the law, we are free from the penalty due us because of our sin and rebellion, because He paid the price, we are free from the power of sin over our lives because the Holy Spirit lives in us, enabling us to obey, and one day we will be free from the presence of sin, in Heaven.
“Therefore if the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed.” John 8:36

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Jesus as our Sabbath Rest

9 Nov

rest
For some of the festivals, God tells them why they are to celebrate it; for others, He just tells them what to do, when and how with no explanation. The Sabbath is one that He explains. The precedent goes back to creation week. God created the world in six days, but on the seventh day He rested and blessed the day.
He created it for our good. We need to rest from our work. We need to focus on God and be thankful. “The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath,” as Jesus said in Mark 2:27 But over time, like so many of the other laws, the Jews made rules to build a hedge around the law, to prevent inadvertently breaking the law. God said not to take His name in vain. So they began to call God Hashem, which means, The Name. (Kind of like how Macbeth is referred to as The Scottish play) God said not to work, so they defined what work was, i.e. pressing an elevator button. (Sabbath elevator at Mount Sinai Hospital)
This was a point on which the Jewish leadership clashed with Jesus on many occasions. He dared to heal on the Sabbath, and allowed His disciples to glean and eat on the Sabbath. (Luke 6:1-11)
He was so gentle with sinners. But He would not tolerate the hypocrisy and harshness of the religious leaders. Matthew 15:1-9 is a good example of this.
“Then the scribes and Pharisees who were from Jerusalem came to Jesus, saying, ‘Why do Your disciples transgress the tradition of the elders? For they do not wash their hands when they eat bread.’
He answered and said to them, ‘Why do you also transgress the commandment of God because of your tradition? For God commanded, saying, ‘Honor your father and your mother’; and, ‘He who curses father or mother, let him be put to death.’ But you say, ‘Whoever says to his father or mother, “Whatever profit you might have received from me is a gift to God”—then he need not honor his father or mother.’ Thus you have made the commandment of God of no effect by your tradition. Hypocrites! Well did Isaiah prophesy about you, saying:
‘These people draw near to Me with their mouth,
And honor Me with their lips,
But their heart is far from Me.
And in vain they worship Me,
Teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.’ ”
The Jewish leaders were upset because the disciples didn’t practice ceremonial cleansing. But Jesus was more concerned about the way the Pharisees set aside God’s law in favour of their traditions. In this case, people were getting out of caring for their parents by saying they had promised the money to God. They were practicing the letter of the law and giving the appearance of holiness while ignoring the spirit of the law and neglecting the care of their parents. God doesn’t care for lip-service, He sees our hearts and our motives.
He also pointed out that they had things turned around, being so careful to tithe even their spices, while leaving undone the important issues like mercy and justice.
“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you pay tithe of mint and anise and cumin, and have neglected the weightier matters of the law: justice and mercy and faith. These you ought to have done, without leaving the others undone.” Matthew 23:23

They especially hated that Jesus healed on the Sabbath, on several occasions. (John 5:9,10,18,9:14,16, Luke 6:6-11)

“So the scribes and Pharisees watched Him closely, whether He would heal on the Sabbath that they might find an accusation against Him.” Luke 6:7
“Now He was teaching in one of the synagogues on the Sabbath. And behold, there was a woman who had a spirit of infirmity eighteen years, and was bent over and could in no way raise herself up. But when Jesus saw her, He called her to Him and said to her, “Woman, you are loosed from your infirmity.” And He laid His hands on her, and immediately she was made straight, and glorified God.
But the ruler of the synagogue answered with indignation, because Jesus had healed on the Sabbath; and he said to the crowd, “There are six days on which men ought to work; therefore come and be healed on them, and not on the Sabbath day.”
The Lord then answered him and said, ‘Hypocrite! Does not each one of you on the Sabbath loose his ox or donkey from the stall, and lead it away to water it? So ought not this woman, being a daughter of Abraham, whom Satan has bound—think of it—for eighteen years, be loosed from this bond on the Sabbath?’ And when He said these things, all His adversaries were put to shame; and all the multitude rejoiced for all the glorious things that were done by Him.” Luke 13:10-17

I used these New Testament examples to help explain the Sabbath because our relation to it is different from Old Testament saints. We need to take our instruction from what Jesus said about it.

The Sabbath represented our rest from trying to work to earn our salvation. That’s why for most of the holidays, like the Day of Atonement, even if they weren’t on the Sabbath, they were instructed to do no customary work. This wasn’t just so they could enjoy the holiday, but so they’d understand that while the High Priest was in the Holy of Holies making atonement for the people, they could do nothing to aid him. Their part was to afflict their souls, and think about their sin, and hope God would accept the offering and forgive them.
Likewise, since Jesus has provided atonement for us, without our aid, now we no longer work for our salvation, because we are in our Sabbath rest. The way we afflict our souls is to repent.
There is a sense that the Sabbath, like many things, has the component of now and not yet. We are now in our Sabbath rest because the work is done for our salvation, and yet the fullness of our rest will be realized in glory when we are free of sin. Then we will be finished from our labours.
So why were the punishments for some laws seemingly lax compared to the death penalty for gathering sticks on the Sabbath? It’s because of what the Sabbath represented. An example is a wedding ring. It represents our commitments, vows, promises and love. If we take it off and throw it at our spouse’s feet, that is a powerful image of how we feel about the marriage. Likewise, when an Israelite broke the Sabbath, they were rejecting the future promised rest.
From Sabbath to Lord’s Day
The important thing is to know that because Jesus rose from the dead on a Sunday (the feast of firstfruits) John 20:1 and appeared again the following Sunday, John 20:19, sent the Holy Spirit at Pentecost (also a Sunday), met to break bread and hear preaching, Acts20:7, the early church began to refer to it as The Lord’s Day, and met to worship on that day, even while their culture still had Saturday as a day of rest. Paul also said to set aside our offering on the first day of the week. 1 Cor. 16:2 The Apostle John also saw his revelation of end times when he was “in the Spirit on the Lord’s Day.” Rev. 1:10 Because of these reasons, we worship on Sundays.
As for how much you should or shouldn’t do on Sundays, Paul said we must be fully convinced in our own minds and not judge our brothers and sisters on these secondary issues. We shouldn’t major on the minors.
“One person esteems one day above another; another esteems every day alike. Let each be fully convinced in his own mind. He who observes the day, observes it to the Lord; and he who does not observe the day, to the Lord he does not observe it. He who eats, eats to the Lord, for he gives God thanks; and he who does not eat, to the Lord he does not eat, and gives God thanks.” Romans 14:5,6
The problem with Seventh Day Adventists is more than just on which day they meet to worship. Included in their beliefs are a rejection of the finished work of Christ as sufficient to secure our salvation and a subsequent religion of works, including an attempt to follow dietary laws. However, they only pick and choose which laws to follow, since we are not in a theocracy, nor do we offer animal sacrifices. James says that if we go the route of trying to obtain salvation by the works of the law, we are obligated to keep it all perfectly, because like a chain, it doesn’t matter which link you break, the chain is broken.
“For whoever shall keep the whole law, and yet stumble in one point, he is guilty of all.” James 2:10

Furthermore, they also have unorthodox views about what happens when we die, with a belief in soul sleep until the resurrection, rather than being “absent from the body and to be present with the Lord.” 2 Cor. 5:8
You can always know a cult or religion is wrong when you examine what they think about Jesus.

Jesus in the Offerings/Festivals in Leviticus

8 Nov

Wave-offering1

Jesus pictured in the various offerings/festivals in Leviticus
We already looked at the Passover lamb and the feast of unleavened bread when we studied Exodus. We also just studied the sin offering and scapegoat on the Day of Atonement. However, there were many other offerings required of the children of Israel, established by God through Moses at the birth of the nation.
Wave offering/feast of Firstfruits: The literal meaning of firstfruits refers to the first portion of the harvest which is given to God. They are the first crops to come in, a pledge or hope of the greater harvest to follow, and they are specifically dedicated to God. It also referred to setting aside the firstborn, whether of man or beast.
“You shall not delay to offer the first of your ripe produce and your juices. The firstborn of your sons you shall give to Me. Likewise you shall do with your oxen and your sheep. It shall be with its mother seven days; on the eighth day you shall give it to Me.” Exodus 22:29,30
While there is no New Testament admonition for Christians to give firstfruits, we know that God loves a cheerful giver and that we are supposed to set aside our offering on the first day of the week as God has prospered us. It is supposed to be purposeful, not haphazard.
“On the first day of the week let each one of you lay something aside, storing up as he may prosper, that there be no collections when I come.” 1 Cor. 16:2

This feast was instituted when the nation of Israel was still wandering without land or crops. It was observed in faith that God would lead them to the land He promised.
Three holidays incorporated the giving of firstfruits; the Passover on the 14th, the Feast of Unleavened Bread from Sabbath to Sabbath beginning on the 15th, and the Feast of Firstfruits on the 16th of the month of Nisan. These were the dates that Jesus was crucified (Friday), in the grave (Saturday) and raised again (Sunday/Lord’s Day).
In Paul’s great chapter on the Resurrection, Jesus is referred to as “the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep.”
“But now Christ is risen from the dead, and has become the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. For since by man came death, by Man also came the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ all shall be made alive. But each one in his own order: Christ the firstfruits, afterward those who are Christ’s at His coming.” 1 Cor. 15:20-23
“Christ rose as the first to be resurrected, but all who trust in Him will also rise from the dead in the final ‘harvest.’” Leon Morris
Similarly, Israel is referred to as the firstfruits, and the greater harvest is the ingathering of the nations of the world. “Israel was holiness to the LORD,
The firstfruits of His increase.” Jer. 2:3a
“Yet the number of the children of Israel
Shall be as the sand of the sea,
Which cannot be measured or numbered.
And it shall come to pass
In the place where it was said to them,
‘You are not My people,’ There it shall be said to them,
‘You are sons of the living God.’ Hosea 1:10
Paul also referred to the gift of the Holy Spirit as a firstfruit, or down payment of even greater blessing to come. “Not only that, but we also who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, eagerly waiting for the adoption, the redemption of our body.” Rom. 8:23
Christians are also referred to as firstfruits. “Of His own will He brought us forth by the word of truth, that we might be a kind of firstfruits of His creatures.” James 1:18
This reminds us that all we are and have belong to God.
“Under the old covenant, sacrifices merely ‘covered’ sins, but in the new covenant, these sins are taken away entirely. Heb. 7:27, 9:12,25-28 There is no more need for continual sacrifices, because Jesus provided a once-for-all sacrifice for all our sins forever.” Heb. 9:11-14,24-28, 10:11-20 John J. Parsons
“The substitutionary shedding of blood, the life-for-life principle, is essential for the true at-one-ment with God.” John J. Parsons
The Feast of Pentecost: Leviticus 23:15-21
The Israelites were to count 50 days or seven Sabbaths from the day they offered the firstfruits on the day after the Sabbath (Sunday), to another Sunday. This feast was called the Feast of Weeks, later called Pentecost. They were to offer two loaves of fine flour made with leaven, along with seven lambs of the first year, without blemish as a burnt offering, with a grain offering and a drink offering. They were to sacrifice a kid of the goats as a sin offering and two male lambs of the first year as a peace offering.
The two loaves made with leaven, represented the inclusion of the Gentiles in the family of God. See Eph. 2:11-22,3:6, Gal. 3:28,29, 1 Cor. 12:13
Fifty days after Jesus rose from the dead on Sunday (the Firstfruits), the disciples were in an upper room. The promised gift of the Holy Spirit came on them and they spoke in tongues (15 known languages) Acts 2:6,8,11
The Spirit was given freely as a gift to those who already believed. This one Spirit unites all believers, Jew and Gentile alike, so we are now partakers of Abraham’s blessing that all the world would be blessed through him. Gen. 12:3
“And as I began to speak, the Holy Spirit fell upon them, as upon us at the beginning. Then I remembered the word of the Lord, how He said, ‘John indeed baptized with water, but you shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit.’ If therefore God gave them the same gift as He gave us when we believed on the Lord Jesus Christ, who was I that I could withstand God?” When they heard these things they became silent; and they glorified God, saying, “Then God has also granted to the Gentiles repentance to life.” Acts 11:15-18
“Then Peter opened his mouth and said: ‘In truth I perceive that God shows no partiality. But in every nation whoever fears Him and works righteousness is accepted by Him.’” Acts 10:34,35

Jesus as the High Priest

7 Nov

High Priest
The first High Priest was Moses’ brother, Aaron. All subsequent priests were to come from the tribe of Levi only and the High Priest from among the sons of Aaron. For their duties, they were to be consecrated (set apart) and sanctified (made ceremonially clean and holy) through some rituals like washing, wearing priestly garments and being dabbed with blood from the sacrifice.
The priestly garments were designed “for glory and for beauty.” Ex.28:2 Two articles of clothing contained the names of the twelve sons of Israel; the ephod had 2 memorial stones set on the shoulders, Ex. 28:12 and the breastplate had the names engraved over his heart.
“So Aaron shall bear the names of the sons of Israel on the breastplate of judgment over his heart, when he goes into the holy place, as a memorial before the Lord continually.” Ex. 28:29
This represented Jesus’ cross-work where He died specifically for His people and His future intercession for us before the throne as our Advocate. His death wasn’t to make salvation theoretically possible if only someone would believe. Jesus said, “I lay down my life for the sheep.” John 10:15b
The High Priest was consecrated as holy. He had to offer sacrifices first for himself, because he was a sinner, and then for the people. But Jesus, because He was sinless, only offered up the sacrifice of Himself on our behalf.
“…who does not need daily, as those high priests, to offer up sacrifices, first for His own sins and then for the people’s, for this He did once for all when He offered up Himself.” Heb. 7:27
The High Priest had bells on the hem of his garment. This way people could hear him. They were never sure if God would accept the sacrifice and forgive them.
“And upon its hem you shall make pomegranates of blue, purple, and scarlet, all around its hem, and bells of gold between them all around: a golden bell and a pomegranate, a golden bell and a pomegranate, upon the hem of the robe all around. And it shall be upon Aaron when he ministers, and its sound will be heard when he goes into the holy place before the LORD and when he comes out, that he may not die.” Ex. 28:33-35
Side point. It’s believed the pomegranate was there to remind them of the first sin of eating the forbidden fruit.
“He had bells and a rope attached, because the experience could be so overwhelming that those outside listened to the bells ringing, meaning that the priest was moving about; but if the bells stopped ringing, they would pull him out, not daring to enter themselves.” Vladimir Berzoonsky
But we know that Jesus’s sacrifice was accepted. The evidence of this was His resurrection from the dead. If He was a false teacher He would have stayed dead. God vindicated both His life and His work. “…who was delivered up because of our offenses, and was raised because of our justification.” Rom. 4:25 and “…because He has appointed a day on which He will judge the world in righteousness by the Man whom He has ordained. He has given assurance of this to all by raising Him from the dead.” Acts 17:31
The High Priest was charged with keeping the light burning at all times. He also burned incense, which represented prayer.
“Aaron shall burn on it sweet incense every morning; when he tends the lamps, he shall burn incense on it. And when Aaron lights the lamps at twilight, he shall burn incense on it, a perpetual incense before the LORD throughout your generations.” Exodus 30:7,8
Jesus not only intercedes for us in prayer, but the oil in the lamp is often compared to the Holy Spirit, which Jesus sent after He had ascended to Heaven. This oil now lights our lamps continually.
“Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.” Matt. 5:16

The High Priest/priest/people would lay their hand on the sacrifice to identify with it/lay their sins on it, and then witness its’ death. This showed them the penalty for sin. They probably wouldn’t appreciate how serious and heinous sin is by giving a piece of fruit.
“And he brought the bull for the sin offering. Then Aaron and his sons laid their hands on the head of the bull for the sin offering, and Moses killed it.” Lev. 8:14,15a
Jesus identified with us, taking on our sins even though He was the innocent Lamb of God.
“For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.” 2 Cor. 5:21

“For Christ also suffered once for sins, the just for the unjust, that He might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive by the Spirit,” 1 Pet. 3:18

Jesus is a better High Priest because He lives forever.
“Also there were many priests, because they were prevented by death from continuing. But He, because He continues forever, has an unchangeable priesthood. Therefore He is also able to save to the uttermost those who come to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them.” Heb. 7:23-25
”But Christ came as High Priest of the good things to come, with the greater and more perfect tabernacle not made with hands, that is, not of this creation. Not with the blood of goats and calves, but with His own blood He entered the Most Holy Place once for all, having obtained eternal redemption.” Heb. 9:11,12
Jesus is considered our High Priest even though He was from the tribe of Judah, rather than the tribe of Levi, because He was a priest after the order of Melchizedek. We studied this in Genesis. See also all of Hebrews 7.
“But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light.” 1 Peter 2:9
“And have made us kings and priests to our God; and we shall reign on the earth.” Rev. 5:10
So if we believers are priests, what kind of sacrifices do we offer to God?
“I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service.” Romans 12:1
“Therefore by Him let us continually offer the sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of our lips, giving thanks to His name.” Heb. 13:15
“But do not forget to do good and to share, for with such sacrifices God is well pleased.” Heb. 13:16
So our sacrifices are our lives, daily, our praise and thanksgiving, and our good works.

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