The LORD's Feasts and Holy Days

Feast of Trumpets: The Five Wise Virgins and You

trmpts-collage-cThe Feast of Trumpets is one of the most pivotal and enigmatic of God’s feast days. It is a pivotal feast because many of the future things we hope to see are anchored on our appreciation and understanding of this feast. Hence it is also full of enigma - most of the typologies and events it described, we are seeing it through a glass darkly (I Corinthians 13:12). Most of the future events it foretells are still subject to interpretations and speculations even among serious students of the Bible. Hebrew idioms best describe this feast as the day in which “no one knows the day and the hour.”

But what is more interesting about this feast is that God’s people are commanded to recall something on this feast. So it is a “recall” feast –we are commanded to look back and remember.

But remember what?

Let’s read the instructions from Leviticus 23:

Then the Lord spoke to Moses, saying, 24 “Speak to the children of Israel, saying: ‘In the seventh month, on the first day of the month, you shall have a sabbath-rest, a memorial of blowing of trumpets, a holy convocation. 25 You shall do no customary work on it; and you shall offer an offering made by fire to the Lord.’” verses 23-25 (NKJV)

The Hebrew word used for the word “memorial” is zikrown. It refers to a “memento”, “a record”, ”a memorable thing”, “a memorial”- a reference to something that we need to be reminded of. The feast is variously interpreted as a “memorial blast”.

So think about it, in God’s prophetic plan, one thing we need to do in order to understand Him better is to “memorialize” something. Normally, we cannot memorialize a thing that still belongs to the future, right? We can only memorialize important and very defining historic events in the past.

But the feast of Trumpets shows us how- through God’s words, stories, and lessons.

One way to do that is to remember (or ‘recall’) one of the most compelling and passionate parables Jesus Christ gave his disciples that pertains to the near future.  This is called the “Parable of the Five Wise Virgins and Five Foolish Virgins”, also called the “Parable of the Ten Virgins” which is found in the Matthew account. There’s no synoptic or parallel account to this parable so we better understand its intended meaning.

Here is the whole parable as told in Matthew 25: 1-13:

“Then the kingdom of heaven shall be likened to ten virgins who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom. Now five of them were wise, and five were foolish. Those who were foolish took their lamps and took no oil with them, but the wise took oil in their vessels with their lamps. But while the bridegroom was delayed, they all slumbered and slept.

“And at midnight a cry was heard: ‘Behold, the bridegroom is coming; go out to meet him!’ Then all those virgins arose and trimmed their lamps. And the foolish said to the wise, ‘Give us some of your oil, for our lamps are going out.’ But the wise answered, saying, ‘No, lest there should not be enough for us and you; but go rather to those who sell, and buy for yourselves.’ 10 And while they went to buy, the bridegroom came, and those who were ready went in with him to the wedding; and the door was shut.

11 “Afterward the other virgins came also, saying, ‘Lord, Lord, open to us!’ 12 But he answered and said, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, I do not know you.’

13 “Watch therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour in which the Son of Man is coming.

Before we study its meaning, let’s understand that the context of the Parable of the Ten Virgins was a response to the disciples asking Jesus, “Tell us, when will these things be? And what will be the sign of Your coming, and of the end of the age?” (Matthew 24: 3) And so Jesus gave them a panoramic view of events leading to his return. Among other things, He cautioned the disciples about specific happenings such as the rise of massive false religion (v.4-5), wars and rumors of wars (v.6), natural calamities (v.7), betrayals and departure from the truth (v.9-12), the great tribulation (v.21), and the gospel of the kingdom being heard worldwide (Matthew 24:4-22).

After these warnings, Jesus Christ immediately told them the parable of the five wise and five foolish virgins. Looking at the context, Jesus seemingly wanted to tell the disciples that anyone can surpass all these frightening events to  come and they should not worry too much (Matthew 24:6). However, there is one thing the parable introduced, without which one cannot enter into the kingdom of God.  

In order to unlock the intended meaning of the story, there are five (5) key elements we need to understand.  To do this we need to apply the study principle, “let the Bible interpret the Bible”. The five key words are:  1) Who are the “Wise” in the parable? 2) Who are the “Foolish”? 3) What does the “Lamp” represent?  4) What does the “Light” stand for? and 5) What does the “Oil” mean in the parable?

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Trumpets Watch

trumpetJoyous Sabbath, brethren. Welcome to our Scripture readings and hymn singing for today’s Sabbath worship service. May we call on Mr. _______________________ to lead in the opening prayer.

Opening prayer

Thank you, Mr._________________. Let us open our hymnals on:

Hymn 1: Hallelujah! Praise God p.26

Hymn 2: The Lord Eternal Reigns! p.9

Hymn 3: O Lord, The Refuge of Each Generation p.44

Introduction: Warning Watch

The coming feast of Trumpets prophetically reminds us of the many dangers we face just ahead before the second coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. Hence, Jesus’ operative word of warning for all believers is to “Watch”.  This warning to be on alert is for everyone to be mindful, watchful, always in a constant state of readiness/preparedness.  In Luke21:36, Jesus Christ emphatically warned His disciples:

Watch you therefore, and pray always, that ye may be accounted worthy to escape all these things that shall come to pass, and to stand before the Son of man.” (Luke 21:36)

The apostle Paul wrote to the Christians in Corinth, "Watch, stand fast in the faith, be brave, be strong" (1 Corinthians:16:13).

But what does it mean to "watch"? What are the things we need to constantly be warned about? Does it speak only of our need to be physically free from physical harm or danger of all external threats?

Now, all warnings are helpful to protect and preserve life and property. But more importantly, the Scripture are replete with constant warnings about spiritual dangers and this should be constantly emphasized to remind everyone of its eternal consequences. The apostle Paul, just before his departure, pleaded to everyone and said: “Therefore watch, and remember that… I did not cease to warn everyone night and day with tears.”(Acts 2:31)

In today’s Scripture readings, let us now look at some of these important warnings from God’s word–both from historical perspective and its prophetic significance –    

Our first set of Bible readers will read verses that will show us God’s warnings since the beginning and how it affected mankind, nations and people by its consequences:

Bible Reader 1: God’s warning to Adam and Eve, Mankind prior to the Flood, and Mankind scattering at Babel —

Genesis 3: 1-19;

Genesis 6:1-11;

Genesis 11:1-9;

 

Bible Reader 2: Continuing God’s warning message to His people Israel, beginning with the time of Abraham, Moses, Children of Israel –

Genesis 18:16-33

Exodus 3:1-10;5:1-3; 19:14-21;20:18-20

Deuteronomy 8:1-20

Facilitator: Thank you Bible Readers. Brethren, let’s please stand as we offer our praises through the following hymns:

Hymn 4:  Blow the Horn, Let Zion Hear! P.129

Hymn 5:  Remember Us, O Eternal p.58

A.The Prophets as God’s Trumpets

Facilitator: Please be seated brethren.

Whenever there’s an impending calamity or disaster to befall a nation out of their national or collective sins or rebellion, personal and moral wickedness, God commissioned a special group of select men of God called “prophets” in the Bible. Prophets serve as God’s mouthpiece of delivering God’s warning messages. This is very true to God’s people of Israel and other surrounding nations. The prophets served as God trumpets, so the people will have time to consider their doings, repent and change their ways or they will reap the consequences of their actions.   The following set of readers will show us from Scripture, God’s warning messages thru His chosen prophets—the trumpets of God.   

Bible Reader 3—Prophets as God’s trumpets: Samuel, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel

Samuel 7:2-5; 8:4-9

Isaiah 58:1-3; 59:1-3

Jeremiah 1:9-10; 4:5-6; 10:1-5

Ezekiel 3:16-19; Ezekiel 33:7-10

Bible Reader 4—God’s warning messages thru the latter prophets—Joel, Amos, Jonah, Malachi

Joel 2:1-2, 12-17

Amos 3:1-8

Jonah 3:1-10

Malachi 4:1-6

Thank you Bible Readers. Brethren, please all stand as we responsively offer our next hymns:

Hymn 6:  Abide With Us p.54

Hymn 7:  God is My Rock, My Salvation p.55

Facilitator: Thank you brethren, please be seated.

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An Invitation to Rejoice Before the LORD’s Feasts!

fotbanner14

The Church of God Sharing Village is very pleased to announce that the Lord’s Feast of Tabernacles and the Eighth Day Feast for 2014 (October 9-15 & 16) will be held at Oring-ao Hall, Teachers Camp, Baguio City.

baguio-panoThe name Baguio invokes, for many brethren and long time feast-keepers, a highland retreat which is ideal for a pilgrimage feast. It’s literally a city on a mountain with many scenic and historic landmarks dubbed as the “summer capital” for its temperate and cool climate, foggy hills, and picturesque views with pines, beautiful flowers, fresh fruits and vegetables!

Teachers Camp is traditionally one of the memorable feast sites among brethren in the Church of God communities for many years now. Facilities include furnished 3 to 4 rooms cottages/guesthouses (these can be shared among families/brethren) with hot showers and in-house cooking; Assembly/service hall is walking distance from these “temporary dwellings”. Security is 24 hours with courteous camp attendants. teachercamp

So make plans now to meet friends and brethren, come and rejoice before the LORD’s feasts!

Program and activities for this year’s feasts include:

High Day Sabbaths Services (AM and PM)

Interactive Bible Studies

Back to Basic Bible Studies

Scripture with Songs Services

Bible Bowl

Family Musical

Family Day and Tour

Housing accommodations within the camp is very limited and on a “first come, first serve basis.” For more information please contact: Raul De Asis Hipe (0922.887.23.22) or email at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.">This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

 “And rejoice before the LORD your God at the place he will choose as a dwelling for his Name--you, your sons and daughters, your male and female servants, the Levites in your towns, and the foreigners, the fatherless and the widows living among you…

“You shall celebrate the Feast of Tabernacles seven days after you have gathered in from your threshing floor and your wine vat; and you shall rejoice in your feast, you and your son and your daughter and your male and female servants and the Levite and the stranger and the orphan and the widow who are in your towns. ‘Seven days you shall celebrate a feast to the LORD your God in the place which the LORD chooses, because the LORD your God will bless you in all your produce and in all the work of your hands, so that you will be altogether joyful.’” Deuteronomy 16:11,12-15

When Should the Count to Pentecost Begin?

pentecountOf all God’s feast days, Pentecost is the only one where the Eternal commanded ancient Israel to count the days and weeks to determine the exact day.

Laying down certain conditions so that His people will know when the counting should commence, the Eternal caused His words to take effect as it is written:

a. Deuteronomy 16:9 Seven weeks shall you number: begin to number the seven weeks from such a time as you begin to put the sickle to the corn.

The first condition sets the start of counting simultaneous to reaping the harvest of the standing grain (or corn).

b. Leviticus 23:15 You shall count from the morrow after the Sabbath from the day that you brought the sheaf of the wave offering, seven Sabbaths shall be complete.

                God’s second command assigns the counting to begin the day after the Sabbath when the wave offering is given to the priest.  A sharp controversy existed between the rabbis and some Jewish sect concerning what Sabbath is referred to by God in this verse.  Was it the weekly Sabbath or the Sabbath of the first day of Unleavened Bread?

                It is premature to arrive at a satisfactory conclusion until we make a thorough analysis and complete study of the matter and consider God’s third command which is equally important as the previous two. 

Most religious teachers and scholars totally ignore this third command since it appears to have no relevance at all today but only concerns ancient Israel.  However, we should include this third command from God since it constitutes 1/3 of the revealed evidences or facts when the counting should begin.

c.   Leviticus 23: 14  You shall eat neither bread nor parched (dried)corn  nor green ears, until the same day that you have brought an offering to your God. It shall be a statute forever throughout your generations in all your dwellings.

                 The Eternal God prohibits Israel from eating the old corn (grains) of the land, the new harvest, green ears and bread before they bring in and give to the priest the required wave sheaf offering.  Take note, it is a statute forever for Israel, throughout their generations and in all their dwellings.

                 The Feast of Unleavened Bread is the very first feast of harvest for the entire year in Israel.  Firstfruits harvest begins in the first month of Abib (Abib means green ears).  That’s the time when barley begins to ripen and is ready for harvest, while winter wheat is still in green ears.

                 Periodically, for the harvest and the calendar to coincide, the priest adds an intercalary month (resulting in leap year).  This is to compensate for the irregularities in the solar and lunar cycles.  Without the intercalary month, the Eternal’s Feast days will fall out of season over the years.  Thus, we can find a 13th month in the Hebrew calendar intervals of approximately 3 years.

                 With God’s conditions on our hand, we can now begin to study and find out when the count to Pentecost must begin.  Pentecost counting issue is mainly centered upon which Sabbath the Eternal God refers to.  Is it the weekly Sabbath or the high day Sabbath of the first day of Unleavened Bread?

 Using the Weekly Sabbath within the Days of Unleavened Bread as Basis for Counting Pentecost

                 This idea or doctrine of using the weekly Sabbath as basis for counting Pentecost is known to have originated from the first century religious sect of the Sadducees, continuing with the Karaites of the early Middle Ages.  The basis of their doctrine stemmed from their understanding that the weekly Sabbaths were counted and not the weeks.  Also, there were those who believed Christ offered himself again to the Father on the first day of the week after His resurrection as the first fruits (or as the wave sheaf offering).

                 Leviticus 23:15 is one passage where this understanding is based upon and where it says “…count from the morrow after the Sabbath, the day you brought the sheaf of the wave offering, seven Sabbaths shall be complete.”

                 The Sadducees interpreted this passage to mean that the wave sheaf offering should be given to the priest on the weekly Sabbath during Unleavened Bread.  But, should one interpret a passage and make a conclusion and not allow the Scriptures to rightly interpret itself?

                 Opinions varied as to the significance of the “day after the Sabbath” mentioned in Leviticus 23:15.  The Boethuseans (Sadducees) took this literally and counted from the first regular Sabbath (Saturday) after the first day of the Passover, so that Pentecost would always fall on a Sunday.

                 The Pharisees, however, looked at Leviticus 23:15 to mean the first day of the Festival of Unleavened Bread, the 15th of Nisan, and thus counted seven full weeks from the 16th of Nisan, so that Pentecost would fall exactly on the 50th day after the 16th of Nisan.  Accordingly, through this reckoning, the day of the week on which Pentecost fell would depend on the day of the week the Passover began.”(Theological Dictionary of the New Testament, 1976, The Jewish Feast of Pentecost)

                 The Pharisees interpreted the ‘Sabbath’ of Leviticus 23:15 as the first day of the Festival of Unleavened Bread (cf. Leviticus 23:7), so that in the Jewish calendar, Pentecost now falls on various days of the week.”  (New Bible Dictionary, 1996 Pentecost, Feast of)

                Once we examine the word for word translation of the original Hebrew text in the King James Version Bible, a few questions will crop up.

                Do seven complete Sabbaths equal 49 days? Does it also mean that there is actually an incomplete Sabbath?  Basic arithmetic dictates that seven will always be 7 complete days, no more, no less.  The word Sabbath of the verse in question is sensibly and clearly understood to mean sevens or weeks as the other scriptural passages interpret it.

                Sabbaths in Leviticus 23:15 refer to weeks and regardless of what day it begins, it does not necessarily mean that it always starts on the first day of the week (Sunday).  It can start on Monday, or Tuesday, or Wednesday etc. as long as there are 7 complete days.

Deuteronomy 16: 9 Seven weeks shall you consider, begin to number the seven weeks from such a time as you begin to put the sickle to the corn.

               The start of the harvest signals the start of counting to Pentecost.  It is not the weekly Sabbath that serves as a basis.

                Many bible translators and scholars render the same Hebrew word shabbat here in Leviticus 23:15 as weeks.  It is the weeks that can either be complete or incomplete as the case may be.  We should allow other scriptures to define more clearly the verse in question before we readily conclude its meaning according to our own interpretation.  A similar command mentioning seven Sabbaths is found in:

Leviticus 25:8 You shall number seven Sabbaths of years to you: seven times seven years; and the space of the seven Sabbaths of years shall be to you forty and nine years.

                Practically the same line of thought is expressed here - it refers to seven Sabbaths of years.  The Hebrew word shabbat used here clearly means sevens or weeks, based on how the Eternal precisely defines it in His word.  The verse in question (Leviticus 23:15) should also mean seven times seven or seven weeks.

                One of the best ways to truly understand God’s commands is to put ourselves in the shoes of ancient Israel.  Consider ourselves as part of ancient Israel in the Old Testament times.  Do God’s commands make sense and result in good? Are God’s Feast days occasions of rejoicing and thanksgiving for a bountiful harvest?  We know these are the will of the Eternal God for His people.  But let’s face it; is the end result of the doctrine we have embraced good and not confusing? Does the symbolism match the reality perfectly?

             a. Looking now from the standpoint of ancient Israel, let’s remember that the Eternal God forbade them forever to eat of the harvest, the bread and dried grains until such time that the wave sheaf offering was given to the priest.  Then, what if the weekly Sabbath during the Feast of Unleavened Bread falls on the fifth or sixth day?  What will be the source of feasting and rejoicing in the first few days of the feast knowing that the harvest, the bread and dried grains couldn’t be eaten before the weekly Sabbath?

In this case, the actual Feast will commence only on the sixth or seventh day of Unleavened Bread.  Does this make sense at all?  Will God author a law that results in a real seven day feasting only once in three years?  There must be something wrong with using the weekly Sabbath as basis for counting Pentecost!  

             b. If the weekly Sabbath used as a basis fell on the seventh day of Unleavened Bread, should the counting begin the day after the feast as some churches do?  Should the actual feast and rejoicing begin the day after Unleavened Bread?

Or, should the rule be broken and the Sabbath before Unleavened Bread must be used instead as the time to hand over the wave sheaf offering?  Would the priests be able to attend to it knowing they are busy with Passover sacrifices?  Which one is correct between the choice of the Sabbath or the method?  Who is the authority to decide since there is no scriptural verse to support either method?

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            c.What about the symbolism, do we give the wave sheaf of the firstfruits harvest to the priest before the death and sacrifice of Christ?Will the Eternal author a prophecy and shadow of a future event that is disorderly and will only be true once in three years?(Only once in three years, the weekly Sabbath falls on the first day of Unleavened Bread).Will the Eternal cause His people to proclaim their keeping and enacting a shadow that doesn’t tell the truth about the reality?

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Why Keep the Feast of Unleavened Bread?

biblevinesDays of Unleavened Bread? That’s a Jewish festival, part of the Old Testament law that God gave ancient Israel,” reasoned out by a number of Bible preachers.

In addition, they say, “We are now under the New Testament. We ought to be living as Christians and thus, should be keeping ‘Christian holidays.’  The Holy days, Feast days, Sabbaths and food laws were God’s Old Testament law for ancient Israel.

Before we take their word for it, wouldn’t it be better if we seek God’s mind on this matter (consulting with His inspired word) and not too easily succumb to opinions and teachings of these modern-day religious preachers?

Christ the Son of Man was a Jew

When Jesus Christ came down to earth to be a human,  God chose him to be a Jew  out of the many races, people and creed at that time. The Eternal has planned this all along from the very beginning.  Prophecies of Christ’s birth and life strewed the pages of Scriptures - detailing places, events, time and the people he will become part of, that of Israel, of the tribe of Judah.

 “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.” Micah 5:2

Historical Background of Israel

The history of Israel as the Hebrew nation is traced back to Abraham.  Because of obedience to God’s laws and commandments, God’s promises to Abraham filtered through the offspring of his grandson Jacob (whose name God changed to Israel).

Part of the promises made was fulfilled when Israel (starting out with 70 heads in Egypt), grew up to become a nation mightier in number than the Egyptians, her bondmaster.

And I will make your descendants multiply as the stars of heaven; I will give to your descendants all these lands; and in your seed all the nations of the earth shall be blessed; because Abraham obeyed My voice and kept My charge, My commandments, My statutes, and My laws.” Genesis 26:4-5

At the appointed time, the Eternal redeemed Israel (by this time numbering around 3 million) out of bondage from Egypt with a powerful and strong hand. A momentous event commemorated through the keeping of Passover and the Days of Unleavened Bread.

“And Moses said to the people: “Remember this day in which you went out of Egypt, out of the house of bondage; for by strength of hand the Lord brought you out of this place. No leavened bread shall be eaten.”  Exodus 13:3

That particular event in Israel is analogous to the life of the New Testament ecclesia (or “called out ones” or church), who in like manner were redeemed and brought out of slavery from sin with the precious blood of Christ, the lamb of God, to become God’s new covenant Israel.

18 knowing that you were not redeemed with corruptible things, like silver or gold, from your aimless conduct received by tradition from your fathers, 19 but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot. 1 Peter 1:18-19

Who are the Jews?

Having settled for a long time in the Promised land as a kingdom (composed of 12 tribes), Israel was divided into two opposing kingdoms during the reign of Rehoboam, the son of Solomon.

Jeroboam, Solomon’s official and son of Nebat, rallied all Israel to his side and established the Northern kingdom with Bethel as the center for idol worship.

In Jerusalem, on the other hand, Rehoboam reigned over the kingdom of Judah comprised of the remaining tribes of Benjamin, Judah and the Levites who were expelled by Jeroboam.

Now when Rehoboam came to Jerusalem, he assembled from the house of Judah and Benjamin one hundred and eighty thousand chosen men who were warriors, to fight against Israel, that he might restore the kingdom to Rehoboam… 13 And from all their territories the priests and the Levites who were in all Israel took their stand with him. 14 For the Levites left their common-lands and their possessions and came to Judah and Jerusalem, for Jeroboam and his sons had rejected them from serving as priests to the Lord. II Chronicles 11:1, 13-14

It was the kingdom of Judah (or Jews) that God entrusted his oracles.

“What advantage then has the Jew, or what is the profit of circumcision? Much in every way! Chiefly because to them were committed the oracles of God. For what if some did not believe? Will their unbelief make the faithfulness of God without effect? Certainly not! Indeed, let God be true but every man a liar…” Romans 3:1-4

Years before the birth of Jesus, with the second temple completely restored and beautifully rebuilt by Herod, the Jews enjoyed a time of peace. They were back on track in their worship of the God of their fathers. It was in this environment where Jesus grew up, in the poor but devout Jewish family in the area of Galilee, keeping the Sabbath, holy days, and the customs of his day.

“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.” Luke 4:16

Traces of the conflict between Judah (Jews) and Israel were still evident up until the time of Christ. While passing through a city in Samaria, a woman met Christ, by Jacob’s well and said,

 “How is it that You, being a Jew, ask a drink from me, a Samaritan woman?” For Jews have no dealings with Samaritans… Our fathers worshiped on this mountain, and you Jews say that in Jerusalem is the place where one ought to worship.” John 4:9,20

Jesus said to her “Woman, believe Me, the hour is coming when you will neither on this mountain, nor in Jerusalem, worship the Father. 22 You worship what you do not know; we know what we worship, for salvation is of the Jews. (verses 21-22)

Christ’s statement singled out the Jews as having the knowledge of the true God. Pointing out also the fact that “Yahu saves” is of the Jews, or the Messiah (Yahushua) is a Jew. He told her it was Him.

The New Testament and the New Covenant

When Jesus died in Calvary (Golgotha in Hebrew), Passover 30 AD, his death ushered in the new Testament and paved the way for Christ to enter into a new Covenant with His disciples after His resurrection. Christ is the Creator of all things; physical and spiritual, visible and invisible.

“For by Him all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers. All things were created through Him and for Him.” Colossians 1:16

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Feast of Unleavened Bread: “Be of Good Cheer!”

dub2014-photoOne of the most uplifting and promising words Jesus Christ gave during His last Passover was recorded in John 16: 33, to quote: “Be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.” 

While these words of Jesus are very reassuring enough for anyone to hear, it seems most of the disciples did not take His words seriously. For we find a few verses later and during that same night that most of Christ’s followers were gone and scattered! They have abandoned Jesus in fear and defeat. The Gospels told us that the most ardent and loyal of Christ’s follower, Peter, denied Him three times, another fled without cloth or garment with him (Mark), Judas conspired with authorities and had Jesus arrested, and the rest of the disciples had either deserted, run away or were in hiding.

So the question for us to reflect on the 7th day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread:  Are we of “good cheer”?

Are we still “overcoming the world”?

The word “overcome” in the Greek is nikao (Strongs #3528) it means “to conquer, prevail, get the victory” In fact, the word “Nike” which a popular brand today comes from this same root word.

Nowadays, overcoming is such a big word to Christians who are helpless and powerless in the midst of all the troubles and the temptations and pulls of life. Just like during the time of the disciples, it can be outright confusing and overwhelming.  But where do we find our help, how can Jesus Christ provide us the strength so we can be an overcomer?

First, we need to realize that the death of Jesus Christ made possible our deliverance and forgiveness from sins. The following Bible verses make it clear:

For I delivered to you first of all that which I also received: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures” 1 Corinthians 15:3, (NKJV throughout, unless noted)

“Grace to you and peace from God the Father and our Lord Jesus Christ, who gave Himself for our sins, that He might deliver us from this present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen.” Galatians 1:3-5

Our keeping of Passover and the Days of Unleavened Bread should help us realize the heavy price of sin through Jesus’ sacrifice, the pervasiveness of sin in the world, and the necessity of putting sin out of our lives. This means that we are called to a life of overcoming.

Accordingly, overcoming is not simply a one time triumph over sin but we need to be constantly on guard as it is pervasive and persistent. That’s what the symbol of unleavened bread teaches us—the putting out of sins daily in life. Just like the children of Israel who had to leave the physical bondage of Egypt (Deuteronomy 5:6), Christians need to leave from the “spiritual Egypt” (Revelation 11:8) of this present evil world (Galatians 1:4).

This is a serious matter. Christians need to come out of sin, but they need God's help in overcoming sin.

The words of the apostle Paul, gave a full glimpse of what everyone should be learning and doing as we grapple with our uncertainties over sins:

Moreover, brethren, I do not want you to be unaware that all our fathers were under the cloud, all passed through the sea, all were baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea, all ate the same spiritual food, and all drank the same spiritual drink. For they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them, and that Rock was Christ. But with most of them God was not well pleased, for their bodies were scattered in the wilderness.

Now these things became our examples, to the intent that we should not lust after evil things as they also lusted. And do not become idolaters as were some of them. As it is written, "The people sat down to eat and drink, and rose up to play." Nor let us commit sexual immorality, as some of them did, and in one day twenty-three thousand fell; nor let us tempt Christ, as some of them also tempted, and were destroyed by serpents; nor complain, as some of them also complained, and were destroyed by the destroyer. Now all these things happened to them as examples, and they were written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the ages have come.

Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed lest he fall. No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it. (1 Corinthians 10:1-13)

We have the experience of the children of Israel as our continual reminder and learning. There are at least five manners or attitudes we are forewarned about in order for us not to follow in their examples of disobedience and defeat: lusting after evil things, immorality, idolaters, tempters, and complainers.  Think about it as you root out every appearance or vestige of these in your life.

Moreover, we are also forewarned about the activity of the wicked one working behind all these in order for us to lose our battle:

“Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour.” I Peter 5:8

For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. Ephesians 6:12

How did Jesus Christ provide a way of escape so we can bear it?

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Guideline for PASSOVER Seder Meal (for Christians)

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Order of Service (Hebrew: seder) of the Passover meal:

The following are suggested order for Seder meal for Christian believers, while this is not an exhaustive outline, every head of the family/host can make an improvisation based on the need of participants. 

  1. Opening Remarks: The Seder begins with Lighting of Candle by a woman/mother. Scriptures to be read: Psalm 27:1; 1 Cor. 5:7-8 or Romans 5:6-10

Comment: As we kindle the festival lights, we ask God to bring great personal meaning to this, our Passover celebration...

  1. Opening Prayer; Singing of Hymn: Behold the Glories of the Lamb, p. 133 (or other fitting hymns—you can improvise on this)

Blessed are you, O Lord God Almighty, King of the Universe, who has sanctified us through your Holy Spirit and by your commandments we can be the light of the world. We humbly ask for the blessing upon this service as we remember the great acts of our Redeemer, the promised seed of a woman. We ask you Holy Father, to open our understanding, so that we may fully comprehend the significance of this celebration…

Bible reading: Exodus 12:21-27; Exodus 13:8-10; 

Blessing of first Cup of Wine (The Cup of Sanctification)

  1. Blessing (Prayer) over the first cup of wine by the head (host): Read Luke 22:14-18

Let us pray and lift our cup which is the cup of Sanctification together and bless the name of the Lord…

(Blessed are you, O Lord, Our Creator God and King of the Universe, who created the fruit of the vine. We thank you upon this cup…in the name of our Savior Jesus Christ, amen.)

  1. Reading of verses (Luke 22:25-27; John 13:1-17) as participants prepares for the ceremonial foot washing.
  2. Eating of the Bitter Herbs:

Bible reading: Exo 12:8; Exo 1:1-14, Psalm 34:19, John 3:16-17; Rev. 21:4

We may now dip the bitter herb into salt water and eat it…

  1. Second cup of wine poured on glass (do not drink yet)
  2. Asking questions by the youngest son ("why is this night different?" etc. read Exodus 10:2; Exodus 12:26-27; Exo. 13:14; Deut. 6:20-21; )
  3. Reading of Hallel, Psalms 113, 114, and,
  4. Drinking of Second Cup of Wine (The Cup of Deliverance)

Eating of Unleavened Bread

10.Scripture reading before eating of bread: Isaiah 53:3-10; I Cor. 11:24

Blessings (Prayer) over the Unleavened bread

Eating of the Unleavened bread (orig. dipped in bitter herbs)

11. Eating of Main Supper Meal: Before meal, reading of the Scriptures: Exodus 12:14-18; and a Prayer-

Eating of the lamb/meat firstly to be followed by other foods on the table

12. After supper, the host will pour the third cup of wine,(the Cup of Redemption) after the blessing (prayer), everyone drank it

13.Passover Saga/Final Hallel Reading: Reading from Scriptures—Exo 12:3-13; Exodus 14:1-31; Deut. 6:1-9; John 1:1-18; John 1:29-34;Matthew 11:25-30; Reading of the second (final) portion of the Hallel, Psalms 115-118 read/recited alternately by participants

14. Drinking of fourth cup (the Cup of Praise)

15. Closing Hymn and/or Prayer.

 

Reference: Christ in the Passover by Ceil and Moishe Rosen, pages 50-59

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