Sunday, April 26, 2009
Dr. Jackson Preaching
Summit in General
Taste of Marietta
Lauren's Grandfather's Health
Tyler and Sarah Going to China
Matthew's Rival Coach
Erin in California
Text - Revelation 2:8-11
So, a recap, how many churches is Revelation written to? 7
Who wrote it? John the Apostle
Who spoke it? Jesus Christ
Where did John write it from? Patmos
Where was John from? Ephesus
Which is the first church Christ writes to? Ephesus
What was their problem? Loveless, cold…even though their doctrine was right.
We’re not 100% sure what Ephesus means, so it’s not really fruitful to examine the name too in-depth. It either means “desire” which could signify a wrong understanding of what love is, or it could mean “remission”, which is a reduction, like their demonstration of love had been reduced. Names are important in examining the Seven Churches of Revelation.
When was Christ crucified? Probably AD30, maybe as late as AD36, but in the 30’s.
When was Revelation written? AD95
That’s a big gap. Why would Christ wait so long to write this letter to his churches, and why did he pick these churches? Any ideas?
These seven churches were seven real places with real people and real problems, but they also represent every church that has ever existed. You can fit most churches cleanly into one or two of these 7 Churches of Revelation, and usually there is one prevailing theme. It took this long for these churches to be thoroughly established, Christ was initiating what is called the “Church Age.”
Just a real brief run-through of the ages, and this list is sort of basic, it could probably be chopped up with more detail. After the flood we start with the Age of the Patriarchs, then with Moses comes the Age of the Law. In here we have kings and exiles, but it’s still the Age of the Law. Near the end of Christ’s life we see the Apostolic Age, and finally the Church Age. There are, I think, two ages to come, an age with a very, very small church presence, when Satan is in charge, and then the eternal age when Christ casts Satan, sin, and death into Hell forever.
A good portion of the New Testament is concerned with the Apostolic Age and people make huge mistakes expecting those sorts of things to be common today. Like when entire families are saved just because one person believed, that is not something that happens today, but is tied to the Age of the Law and brought into the Apostolic Age a little. Similarly, healings and raising from the dead were Apostolic and don’t happen in that way today. Raising someone spiritually from the dead is so much better than raising them physically; healing their soul is so much better than healing their body.
The Bible doesn’t give us a time frame between the Church Age and the Final Age, it doesn’t even address it. At least 1900 years occur between the end of Revelation 3 and the beginning of Revelation 4.
So, the reason that Revelation is written so late is so that the churches are established and ready to usher in the Church Age. Who is the church in relation to Christ? The church is the bride of Christ. I met a girl in Tampa who was convinced she was the bride of Christ, her name was Janice and she was wearing a wedding gown walking around the stadium. We witnessed to her and she was just a little bit crazy…ok…a lotta bit crazy. Christ isn’t going to marry one person and get a house together with a white picket fence and a little dog…Christ being the Bridegroom and the church being the Bride is a metaphor for the relationship and roles of each.
And it’s not something we're sitting around waiting for, Christ is actively working with his bride right now. When John first saw Christ, he was in the midst of seven lampstands. What are those lampstands? A verse we had to skip last week is,
Revelation 1:20 As for the mystery of the seven stars that you saw in my right hand, and the seven golden lampstands, the seven stars are the angels of the seven churches, and the seven lampstands are the seven churches.
When it says angels, this word can mean two things, it can either refer to seraphim and cherubim, or it can refer to a messenger. Usually it refers to seraphim or cherubim who are delivering a message; context will tell which it means. Here we are pretty sure its referring to the messengers of these churches, aka their pastors, although perhaps there are ministering angels in charge of each church.
Hebrews 1:14 Are they not all ministering spirits sent out to serve for the sake of those who are to inherit salvation?
Hebrews 13:1-2 Let brotherly love continue. Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for thereby some have entertained angels unawares.
Christ, the King of the universe, is personally holding his messengers in his hands and is dwelling in the midst of his church. It shows where his affection is, and there also ought we set our affection, first on the Bridegroom, then on his bride, which is made up of all of us.
First we see him in the midst of the lampstands, in the letter to Ephesus we see something else, in Revelation 2:1 he calls himself one …who walks among the seven golden lampstands.
Walking in the Bible is often a sign of working; Christ is maintaining his churches, working in their midst. If it is important to him, it should be important to us.
Ephesians 2:10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.
So, all that said, lets look at another church.
Revelation 2:8-11 And to the angel of the church in Smyrna write: 'The words of the first and the last, who died and came to life. "'I know your tribulation and your poverty (but you are rich) and the slander of those who say that they are Jews and are not, but are a synagogue of Satan. Do not fear what you are about to suffer. Behold, the devil is about to throw some of you into prison, that you may be tested, and for ten days you will have tribulation. Be faithful unto death, and I will give you the crown of life. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. The one who conquers will not be hurt by the second death.'
Smyrna is another port town; its name means the Port of Myrrh. Myrrh is often representative of suffering, where else have we heard of myrrh in the Bible? The wise-men brought Christ gold, frankincense, and myrrh. The gold represented their worldly possessions, the frankincense represented their worship, and the myrrh represented their pain, suffering, and brokenness due to sin.
Smyrna is the persecuted church, the suffering church. Only two churches out of the seven don’t have anything wrong with them, this is one of them, listen to how Christ starts.
v. 9 I know your tribulation and your poverty (but you are rich)
They were worldly poor, but spiritually rich.
Romans 8:18 I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us.
Romans 5:3-5 More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.
v. 9 the slander of those who say that they are Jews and are not, but are a synagogue of Satan.
Modern day Israel is not Israel. The church is the Israel of God, national Israel has been cut-off from salvation. (Romans 9:6,10:3) The Jews of today share little more in common with the Jews of the Old Testament than a name. Christ very much dislikes modern day Israel, calling them a “synagogue of Satan.”
v. 10 Do not fear what you are about to suffer.
Do not fear. Why not? It’s probably going to hurt…
2 Corinthians 1:5 As we share abundantly in Christ’s sufferings, so through Christ we share abundantly in comfort too.
v. 10 Behold, the devil is about to throw some of you into prison, that you may be tested, and for ten days you will have tribulation.
Ten days represents a short period of time. The trying is a means of purification. False Christians will quickly fall away, hopefully realize they are false, repent, and be saved. True Christians will be proved true during this time and really shine.
It has been said that the blood of martyrs is the seed of the church. It is a tremendous witness to be able to look death and adversary’s in the face and be not afraid. How can we do that? Verse 10 continues,
v. 10 Be faithful unto death, and I will give you the crown of life.
How can Christ make this promise? It is what he said in verse 8, “'The words of the first and the last, who died and came to life.” Christ has defeated death, he can promise resurrection.
One of John’s close friends was named Polycarp. When John was writing this to Smyrna, he instantly would have recognized, “My friend Polycarp is the pastor of Smyrna!” Later, Polycarp died a valiant death, they tried to burn him at the stake, but he wouldn’t burn. The fire burned all around him, and finally he was killed by the sword. Someone shouted during his execution, “Polycarp, Be strong and play the man!”
This would be quoted 1400 years later in the beginnings of the English Reformation. Hugh Latimer and Nicolas Ridley were tied to a stake in Oxford. Latimer looked over at Ridley and cried out, “Play the man, Ridley; we shall this day light such a candle, by God's grace, in England, as I trust shall never be put out.” England would become a bastion for Christianity and a sending ground for missionaries to the rest of the world.
The persecuted church is one of Christ’s favorites because there is no room for hypocrites within this church. There is a story of a house church in China in which five soldiers come rushing in with AK-47 assault rifles and scream, “This church is illegal, you have two options, you can leave now or you can stay and be executed for your faith in Jesus Christ!” Half of the people get up and leave, the other half stay because they will not deny their Saviour. After some leave, the guards put their guns down and say, “We’re Christians, we wanted to make sure we were in the midst of true brothers and sisters before we would join you for worship.”
v. 11 He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. The one who conquers will not be hurt by the second death.'
He who has an ear means someone whom God has given the ability to understand and hear. Then Christ again gives an audacious, radical promise. The one who conquers will not be hurt by the second death.
The persecuted church will conquer, because they have been tested in the fire and their faith has been shown to be pure because they have stood up for Christ. Beloved, it is scary to think about being killed for Christ’s sake, but it is good for our faith to consider how we would respond in a situation like that. Do we love our life more than we love Christ?
Mark 8:34-38 "If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake and the gospel’s will save it. For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world and forfeit his soul? For what can a man give in return for his soul? For whoever is ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, of him will the Son of Man also be ashamed when he comes in the glory of his Father with the holy angels."
Smyrna is the persecuted church. Her faith had to be genuine because it was tried in the fire; she was made rich in character and hope through suffering. This church is one to be emulated; while we are not being persecuted, ought not we live as though Christ and his church are all that matters?
After all, Christ and his church are all that matters.
1 Corinthians 16:13-14 Be watchful, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong. Let all that you do be done in love.
Ladies, I don’t expect you to act like men, but I do expect you to expect your men (pastors, fathers, brothers, future husbands) to act like men, and to hold them to a high standard.
Sunday, April 19, 2009
Pastor Aaron Preaching
Summit in General
Big Shanty Festival
Curtis, Bobbi, and Amanda
Bethany's Friend's Dad's Arm
Dave and Brooke in Virginia
Text - Revelation 2:1-7
So, New Testament Letters, lets take a look, how many were written and to who?
33 – Warrants for Arrest – Against Christians
45 – James – General / Israel
47 – Jerusalem Council – Christians about OT Laws
48 – Galatians – Lystra
– Matthew, AD 50…not an Epistle – Semites
51 – 1 Thessalonians – Thessalonica
52 – 2 Thessalonians – Thessalonica
55 – 1 Corinthians – Corinth
57 – 2 Corinthians – Corinth
58 – Romans – Rome
– Mark, AD 58…not an Epistle – Hamites
– Luke, AD 60…not an Epistle – Japhethites
60 – Ephesians – General
61 – Colossians – Colossae / Laodicea
61 – Philippians – Philippi
62 – Philemon – Colossae
63 – 1 Timothy – Ephesus
63 – Titus – Crete
64 – 1 Peter – General
65 – Jude – General
65 – Felix – Paul’s warrant
– Acts, AD 65…not an Epistle
66 – 2 Timothy – Ephesus
66 – Hebrews – General / Israel
66 – 2 Peter – More General than 1 Peter
81-94 – 1 John – Ephesus
81-94 – 2 John – Ephesus
81-94 – 3 John – Ephesus
81-94 – John – not really an Epistle, but pointed at Ephesus
95 – Revelation
Notice some themes, most of these are very personal letters, written to friends and acquaintances with the goal being reconciliation. We’re going to look specifically at the last seven epistles.
Revelation 1:1-5 The revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave him to show to his servants the things that must soon take place. He made it known by sending his angel to his servant John, who bore witness to the word of God and to the testimony of Jesus Christ, even to all that he saw. Blessed is the one who reads aloud the words of this prophecy, and blessed are those who hear, and who keep what is written in it, for the time is near. John to the seven churches that are in Asia: Grace to you and peace from him who is and who was and who is to come, and from the seven spirits who are before his throne, and from Jesus Christ the faithful witness, the firstborn of the dead, and the ruler of kings on earth.
Who is it written to? The seven churches that are in Asia. Where is Asia? Asia today is a massively big land-mass, but when John was writing it was just the Easternmost tip of Turkey.
John was a member of the church at Ephesus. John’s pastor was Timothy. As we’re going to see, Ephesus had a love problem, they knew the Bible but weren’t acting on it. John wrote his Gospel to the whole church, but it is very heavy on the love side, trying to motivate Ephesus to love in deed and truth instead of just word and talk. His First Epistle does the same thing.
Ephesus made the Roman Emperor Caesar Domitian mad, so much so that Timothy lost his life, and John was exiled to Patmos. There is a legend that John was boiled in oil but survived, I don’t know if that is true or not, it would certainly be a miracle, but we’ll have to wait ‘till Heaven to find out if it’s true, because it’s not recorded in the Bible.
Revelation 1:9 I, John, your brother and partner in the tribulation and the kingdom and the patient endurance that are in Jesus, was on the island called Patmos on account of the word of God and the testimony of Jesus.
Here are your seven churches, these churches were real places with real people, real pastors, and real problems, but they are also representative of every church that has ever been. Every church will fit into a majority of one of these, sometimes you can see traits of other churches intermingled.
Revelation 1:10-11 I was in the Spirit on the Lord’s day, and I heard behind me a loud voice like a trumpet saying, "Write what you see in a book and send it to the seven churches, to Ephesus and to Smyrna and to Pergamum and to Thyatira and to Sardis and to Philadelphia and to Laodicea."
So John is hanging out on Patmos, which at the time was pretty much a deserted island. Today it is sort of a resort town where a lot of Catholic Pilgrims go to try to work their way into Heaven. Can you work your way into Heaven by visiting John’s cave? No, you can’t work your way to Heaven; Jesus paid it all. John hears behind him a voice which tells him to write this book and send it to these seven churches.
Now we get a picture of our King and Saviour,
Revelation 1:12-16 Then I turned to see the voice that was speaking to me, and on turning I saw seven golden lampstands, and in the midst of the lampstands one like a son of man, clothed with a long robe and with a golden sash around his chest. The hairs of his head were white, like white wool, like snow. His eyes were like a flame of fire, his feet were like burnished bronze, refined in a furnace, and his voice was like the roar of many waters. In his right hand he held seven stars, from his mouth came a sharp two-edged sword, and his face was like the sun shining in full strength.
His voice is described as two things, as a trumpet and as roaring waters. Have any of you visited big waterfalls? I can’t wait to hear the voice of God. His words are a sword, his face is radiant like the sun, he is clothed as a High Priest. His hair is white, we’ll probably have to ask him what the reason for this is, some think it is in keeping with him being the Lamb of God. His eyes are red, most agree that this means his eyes are able to burn into the soul and judge all things, and showing his furiousness over sin. His feet are like burnished bronze, this represents strength in his standing.
This is the glorified Christ, he humbled himself during his earthly life, but once he died and then defeated death, he has been glorified. He first came to save, when he comes back he will come in his full glory to judge. Beloved, I don’t know if you see the implications of this description of Christ, I wish I could show him to you, I wish we could see him, but our pictures and paintings fall so miserably short of his radiance, anger, voice, and other attributes. Our only response is what John did, which was to fall on his face, but look at how Christ responds:
Revelation 1:17-18 When I saw him, I fell at his feet as though dead. But he laid his right hand on me, saying, "Fear not, I am the first and the last, and the living one. I died, and behold I am alive forevermore, and I have the keys of Death and Hades.
Beloved, Christ is TERRIFYING, I hope that you see that. He has the authority to kill both the body and the soul, he is the perfect judge of righteousness, he commands all men everywhere to repent. He holds the universe together with his word, he created everything you see without lifting a finger, he took on and defeated death, he is a big and frightening God. He is a consuming fire who cannot tolerate sin. Paul Washer puts it this way: God created all of the planets and stars, and he told them to form into galaxies and spin in such a way, and to keep doing so until he gives them another word, and they obey. He said to the mountains, be lifted up, and they obeyed, he said to the valleys, be cast down, and they obeyed, he said to the ocean, you may come this far and no farther and it obeys, and then he looks at you and me and says “come,” and we say, “NO!” It is only a miracle of his patience and love that we have not already been cast into Hell for eternity.
The right response is just as Isaiah did, just as John did, to immediately prostrate yourself at his feet. But remember, this great God, the only Holy Being in the universe, who can kill with a word and commands absolute purity in thought, word, and deed, is also the Saviour of the world. Jesus Christ laid his hand on John and told him not to fear. The reason he was able to tell John not to fear comes in his description of himself, he died, and yet he is alive forevermore. What happened in his death? He reconciled us to himself. What happened in his resurrection? Death has lost its sting; death is dead.
Aren’t we supposed to fear God? Why did Christ tell John to fear not? We are to fear God, but we find our rest, our solace, our salvation, our perseverance in Christ. Imagine we’re in a space ship in outer space; inside of the ship we are perfectly safe, we have everything we need to live; air, food, water…but outside of the ship we would have none of those things. If you stepped outside of the ship you would be exposed to extreme temperatures, no air, you would be instantly killed. We fear God, but because we are in the saving graces of Jesus Christ, his perfect love has driven out our fear. For those who are outside of Christ, and for us to think about stepping out of his salvation, we should be terrified. The concept of being “In” Christ is huge, for the most part it can be summed up in having his righteousness attributed to our sake, protecting us from his wrath, keeping us from sin, and granting us his inheritance.
Romans 13:14 Put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires.
Now, when John saw Jesus, what was Jesus doing? He was in the midst of the seven lampstands holding seven stars. What are the lampstands? What are the stars?
Revelation 1:20 As for the mystery of the seven stars that you saw in my right hand, and the seven golden lampstands, the seven stars are the angels of the seven churches, and the seven lampstands are the seven churches.
When it says angels, this word can mean two things, it can either refer to seraphim and cherubim, or it can refer to a messenger. Usually it refers to seraphim or cherubim who are delivering a message; context will tell which it means. Here we are pretty sure its referring to the messengers of these churches, aka their pastors. Christ, the King of the universe, is personally holding his messengers in his hands and is dwelling in the midst of his church. It shows where his affection is, and there also ought we set our affection, first on the Bridegroom, then on his bride, which is made up of all of us.
Alright, lets hit one church before we go. Where was John from? Ephesus. Which is the first church Christ addresses? Ephesus. No coincidence there, Christ is about to prove he knows exactly what is going on in Ephesus and that he shares John’s pain over Ephesus’ lack of love.
Revelation 2:1-7 To the angel of the church in Ephesus write: 'The words of him who holds the seven stars in his right hand, who walks among the seven golden lampstands. "'I know your works, your toil and your patient endurance, and how you cannot bear with those who are evil, but have tested those who call themselves apostles and are not, and found them to be false. I know you are enduring patiently and bearing up for my name’s sake, and you have not grown weary. But I have this against you, that you have abandoned the love you had at first. Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent, and do the works you did at first. If not, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place, unless you repent. Yet this you have: you hate the works of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To the one who conquers I will grant to eat of the tree of life, which is in the paradise of God.'
v. 1 To the angel of the church in Ephesus write: 'The words of him who holds the seven stars in his right hand, who walks among the seven golden lampstands.
These are the exact words of Christ, just as is the rest of the Bible, but when someone tells you Christ didn’t write any of the books of the Bible, you can tell them he wrote Revelation with John as has amanuensis, or secretary. Before, we saw Christ in the midst of the lampstands, or churches; now we see him walking among them. Walking in the Bible a lot of time refers to working. Christ is constantly tending and working on his churches.
v. 2-3 'I know your works, your toil and your patient endurance, and how you cannot bear with those who are evil, but have tested those who call themselves apostles and are not, and found them to be false. I know you are enduring patiently and bearing up for my name’s sake, and you have not grown weary.
Christ, just like Paul, starts out by saying something nice about the church before yelling at them. Here he is pretty much saying, “Your discernment rocks, you know the truth and avoid the false teachers.” They aren’t following a made-up god, Christ commends them for enduring for his name’s sake, but that isn’t all he wants his church to do.
v. 4 But I have this against you, that you have abandoned the love you had at first. Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent, and do the works you did at first.
This he has against them, they have abandoned love. Let’s see what the Bible says happens if you abandon love:
1 Corinthians 13:1-3 If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing.
This was a major charge against Ephesus. Christ is saying to them that they are set to gain nothing for their works, that they are annoying noises, that they are nothing.
v. 5 Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent, and do the works you did at first. If not, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place, unless you repent.
He says remember how to love, then do it. Then Christ threatens them, if they don’t repent, he will come and remove their lampstand, meaning they will no longer be a church. Interestingly, today, 1900 years later, if you go to Ephesus, I am told you can’t find a Christian church anywhere; their skyline is completely devoid of steeples.
v. 6 Yet this you have: you hate the works of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate.
We don’t know who the Nicolaitans are, some think they are the Catholic Church, but that doesn’t really make sense for a lot of reasons. Really the Nicolaitans represent pretty much every works-righteous cult ever, which includes the Catholic Church.
It is our job to hate the works of cults and false religions. I’ve had several people, just in the last week, tell me I shouldn’t stand against such bad teachings as some of them like, but beloved, that is one of our jobs, to know the truth, to point people at the truth, and to oppose lies. Through it all we need to be loving.
v. 7 He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To the one who conquers I will grant to eat of the tree of life, which is in the paradise of God.'
We’re going to talk about these promises more in depth after we look at the 7 churches; a very basic summary of what they mean is that if you are a true believer caught in one of these terrible churches (4 are broken, 2 are wonderful, and 1 is totally wrecked) there is still opportunity to be saved and your fate is not married to the fate of your church-assembly.
So, to conclude, Ephesus is the loveless church. It’s not enough to know the truth, the demons know who Christ is and they tremble about it; we must act on the truth.
Remember what the word Agape means? Most people just think it means love, but it means love in action, love demonstrated, sacrificial love. So, lets know the truth, and act on the truth.
Let’s not be Ephesus.
Monday, April 6, 2009
Pastor Aaron – Preaching
Missions Trip – New Orleans
Christmas/Easter Church Attenders
Text – Deuteronomy 26:5-10; פסח Passover πασχα
There are no hard and fast rules in the Bible for how to celebrate Passover in the way that Jesus celebrated Passover during his thirty-three years on earth. But we do have tradition and that tradition is validated in the New Testament.
Just as Hanukah is not established in the Old Testament, Jesus did celebrate the Festival of Lights. The Hanukah celebrated today is really just a response to Christmas and effort to keep Jewish children happy, and is less than 200 years old…it’s not the same as Jesus would have celebrated. So, just as the Hanukah that Jesus celebrated is considerably different than the Hanukah that Jews celebrate today, so is the Passover considerably changed from the Old Testament, to the New Testament, to today.
The craziest thing about Passover is that there are thousands of viable ways to celebrate it. The important thing is remembering the Lamb that was slain, that God saved his people out of bondage, and that he is still saving today. The Passover we’ll celebrate today will be as close to the AD 30 Passover that Jesus and his disciples celebrated as I could discern from the text.
What day is it? For the purpose of this class, assume it is Wednesday, April the 5th, AD 30. But our Easter this year will be April the 12th…why does it change? Passover is on the first full moon in Nisan, which has to be after the Vernal Equinox (March 21st), Passover can never be before the 22nd of March and never after the 25th of April.
Easter is kind of a dumb name for what we’re celebrating, it’s the name of a similar month to Nisan in Europe, it has nothing to do with Christ, Christianity, or Judaism. Passover is a better term, which is what it is called in most of the world.
The go-to text is Deuteronomy 26:5-10 And you shall make response before the LORD your God, 'A wandering Aramean was my father. And he went down into Egypt and sojourned there, few in number, and there he became a nation, great, mighty, and populous. And the Egyptians treated us harshly and humiliated us and laid on us hard labor. Then we cried to the LORD, the God of our fathers, and the LORD heard our voice and saw our affliction, our toil, and our oppression. And the LORD brought us out of Egypt with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm, with great deeds of terror, with signs and wonders. And he brought us into this place and gave us this land, a land flowing with milk and honey. And behold, now I bring the first of the fruit of the ground, which you, O LORD, have given me.' And you shall set it down before the LORD your God and worship before the LORD your God. And you shall rejoice in all the good that the LORD your God has given to you and to your house, you, and the Levite, and the sojourner who is among you.
What this is is a basic history of Israel, and also a basic history of the Christian life. Jacob, who became Israel, fled to Egypt and there became a great nation in number, but became enslaved to the Egyptians. The Jews called to the Lord, and he heard, and brought them out of slavery showing his mighty power. And he brought them into the Promised Land of Israel.
It is also a basic history of us, we were not a people, we sold ourselves in our sin into slavery, we cried to God, and through his mighty works, even outstretched arms, a great deed of terror, and a great showing of power in defeating death, delivered us out of bondage by ransoming us with his Son. We have not yet entered into the Promised Land of Heaven, for we are still wandering in the desert of this present evil age.
So now we rejoice, and we remember, and we worship God for his faithfulness and our salvation.
So, lets go. A basic poem that would be used in how to administer the Passover is:
Kadesh ur’chatz, karpas yachatz
Maggid rachatz, motzi matzah
Maror korech, shulchan orech
Tzaphoon barekh, hallel nirtzah
There are 15-steps, and can take only a little while, or hours. We’re going to go for the “little-while” option. This would have been an actual meal, but we’re going to forego that part. You notice there is no Lamb, we’ll talk about that in a minute.
So we start by drinking the first cup of wine (grape juice). This is to remind us that God is faithful. We’ll talk about the four cups in a moment.
Our second step is to wash our hands. In the Old Testament this was necessary to enter into the presence of God in the temple. You remember when Jesus washed the Apostle’s feet? That was normal, but he turned it on them to say that unless he wash them, they could have no part in the kingdom of God. Peter said, “Then not only my feet, but my head and hands too.” We are already washed spiritually clean by the blood of Christ, this washing today is a memorial.
We’ll use Purell for ease, but Jews doing this would use water, washing first the right hand, then the left.
Next, we take a vegetable, usually parsley, and dip it into salt water. Two reasons for this, first salt water kills crops, just as sin kills things, it reminds us of our sins. Parsley is chosen because it is somewhat bitter, and it reminds us of the bitter bondage of the Egyptians/sin. We use salt water because it symbolizes the tears that sin causes to fall. We are reminded that we have sinned, that we have shed tears, and that we are in need of rescue.
Here we have three pieces of Matzoh bread, this is unleavened bread. Everywhere in the Bible leaven is symbolic for sin. These three pieces of bread, although not explicitly, likely represent the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost. Another reason we think this is because we take the middle-bread, and break it. There is no symbolism in the Old Testament that I could find why we break it, it is entirely a prophecy for the coming Messiah.
Now the story of the Passover. In order to be brief, About 3000 years ago the Israelites were enslaved by the Egyptians under the rule of the Pharaoh Ramses II. Moses was instructed by God to go to the pharaoh and demand the freedom of his people.
Moses' plea of, “Let my people go,” was ignored. Moses warned Pharaoh that God would send severe punishments to the people of Egypt if the Israelites were not freed. Again the Pharaoh ignored Moses' request of freedom. In response God unleashed a series of 10 terrible plagues on the people of Egypt.
Dam (blood)—All the water was changed to blood
Tzefardeyah (frogs)—An infestation of frogs sprang up in Egypt
Kinim (lice)—The Egyptians were afflicted by lice
Arov (wild animals)—An infestation of flies sprang up in Egypt
Dever (pestilence)—A plague killed off the Egyptian livestock
Sh'chin (boils)—An epidemic of boils afflicted the Egyptians
Barad (hail)—Hail rained from the sky
Arbeh (locusts)—Locusts swarmed over Egypt
Choshech (darkness)—Egypt was covered in darkness
Makkat Bechorot (killing of the first-born)—All the first-born sons of the Egyptians were slain by God
The holiday's name - Pesach, meaning "passing over" in Hebrew, is derived from the instructions given to Moses by God. In order to encourage the Pharaoh to free the Israelites, God intended to kill the first-born of both man and beast. To protect themselves, the Israelites were told to mark their dwellings with lamb's blood so that God could identify and "pass over" their homes.
The Pharaoh was unconvinced and refused to free the Jewish slaves until the last plague.
When the Pharaoh finally agreed to freedom, the Israelites left their homes so quickly that there wasn't even time to bake their breads. So they packed the raw dough to take with them on their journey. As they fled through the desert they would quickly bake the dough in the hot sun into hard crackers called matzohs.
Though the Jews were now free, their liberation was incomplete. The Pharaoh's army chased them through the desert towards the Red Sea. When the Jews reached the sea they were trapped, since the sea blocked their escape
The waves of the Red Sea parted and the Israelites were able to cross to the other side. As soon as they all reached the other side the sea closed trapping the Pharaoh's army as the waves closed upon them. Then as the Israelites watched the waters of the Red Sea sweep away the Pharaoh's army they were finally free of bondage. God would eventually then lead them to the Promised Land.
That’s the story of the Passover, it could be way longer, or even a bit shorter, but I think the important facts are there. A question and answer period could follow about why certain things represent certain things, but unfortunately we don’t have time for that.
The Passover all began with a promise from God to Moses.
Exodus 6:6-7 Say therefore to the people of Israel, 'I am the LORD, and I will bring you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians, and I will deliver you from slavery to them, and I will redeem you with an outstretched arm and with great acts of judgment. I will take you to be my people, and I will be your God, and you shall know that I am the LORD your God, who has brought you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians. I will bring you into the land that I swore to give to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob. I will give it to you for a possession. I am the LORD.
For this reason, there are four cups of wine. The bread is a cool prophecy for Christ, but the wine is so much cooler, in my opinion. We have four cups, we’ve drank one cup of wine (grape juice). That one reminds us that God is faithful and he will save us.
The second is the promise that God will save his people from bondage. In the case of the Israelites it was the Egyptians, in our case it is sin. The third is the promise that God will draw us near and we will be his people. The fourth is the promise of the Promised Land, which with the Israelites is Palestine, with us it is Heaven. Do you notice that we get more in our covenant than they did in their covenant? The Bible talks about our covenant being so much better.
Hebrews 8:6-7 Christ has obtained a ministry that is as much more excellent than the old as the covenant he mediates is better, since it is enacted on better promises. For if that first covenant had been faultless, there would have been no occasion to look for a second.
Lets drink the second cup, thanking God that he was rescued us from sin.
Now we remember the washing of our souls by Christ, let us wash our hands again, this time thanking God for doing the work of washing our souls.
Today the next step would be followed by eating of the meal, the main dish would be preferably a lamb, but it doesn’t have to be a lamb. In the First Century, these two would be combined, and it would almost definitely be a lamb. Notice there is no lamb…why not?
Hebrews 7:27 He has no need, like those high priests, to offer sacrifices daily, first for his own sins and then for those of the people, since he did this once for all when he offered up himself.
Jesus Christ was the Paschal Lamb, slain for us:
Revelation 5:12 Worthy is the Lamb who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and might and honor and glory and blessing!
So there is no more lamb sacrifice; for Christ died once for all, the Righteous for the unrighteous, he is the Just and the Justifier. I think it would be insulting if we had one, so we don’t.
So we bless the bread in a normal way, and break it and pass it around and eat. You can dip it in these two sauces which remind us of the bitterness of sin and the sweetness of freedom. This would be a major meal if we weren’t doing it in Sunday School. We’d probably have a turkey.
Now here’s where it gets neat. If we had more time we would turn this into the Lord’s Supper, but without me knowing where each of you stand with salvation and baptism, and church membership, I don’t want to take a chance just to do it without a much better explanation. So we’re doing this as Passover, not as communion.
Matthew 26:26 Now as they were eating, Jesus took bread, and after blessing it broke it and gave it to the disciples, and said, "Take, eat; this is my body." And he took a cup, and when he had given thanks he gave it to them, saying, "Drink of it, all of you, for this is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins. I tell you I will not drink again of this fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father’s kingdom."
Jesus is following in the normal Passover tradition of his time. He took the last piece of bread, broke it and announced that this piece of bread represented him and his work. Then he took the glass of wine, that represents him bringing people to be his people, and he blessed them; and ate and drank.
Do you notice that a cup of wine is left? This is exactly how it happened at Christ’s last supper. His disciples must have known what that meant, that he was foregoing the last cup of wine, the one that represented the Promised Land, until he drank it in his Father’s kingdom…Heaven. It’s huge, and it points out that Christ fully knew that he would die before he would have occasion to eat again.
Now we would sing Psalm 113-118 and 136. Since we don’t have that sort of time, lets read Psalm 113.
Psalm 113 Praise the LORD! Praise, O servants of the LORD, praise the name of the LORD!
Blessed be the name of the LORD from this time forth and forevermore! From the rising of the sun to its setting, the name of the LORD is to be praised! The LORD is high above all nations, and his glory above the heavens! Who is like the LORD our God, who is seated on high, who looks far down on the heavens and the earth? He raises the poor from the dust and lifts the needy from the ash heap, to make them sit with princes, with the princes of his people. He gives the barren woman a home, making her the joyous mother of children. Praise the LORD!
Now we drink the last cup. This is just a cup of grape-juice, it is not really the fourth cup, we will have that cup in Heaven with Christ.
Finally is the concluding prayer; we don’t know for sure that this prayer was prayed with Christ, but the concluding prayer would be, “L'shanah haba'ah b'Yerushalayim.” Which is a prayer that the Messiah will come to Jerusalem. Jews still pray it today.
Let’s conclude with a song.
How Deep the Father’s Love for Us
~Stuart Townsend, 2000
How deep the Father's love for us
How vast beyond all measure
That He should give His only Son
To make a wretch His treasure
How great the pain of searing loss
The Father turns His face away
As wounds which mar the chosen One,
Bring many sons to glory
Behold the Man upon the cross
My sin upon His shoulders
Ashamed I hear my mocking voice
Call out among the scoffers
It was my sin that held Him there
Until it was accomplished
His dying breath has brought me life
I know that it is finished
I will not boast in anything
No gifts, no power, no wisdom
But I will boast in Jesus Christ
His death and resurrection
Why should I gain from His reward?
I cannot give an answer
But this I know with all my heart
His wounds have paid my ransom.