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Scripture Studies

Pentecost: What Does the Wave Sheaf Offering Represent?

harvest-rejoiceDoes the wave sheaf picture Christ as the first of the firstfruits? Or does it symbolize the "ecclesia" – the called out ones?

The day after the sheaf of the firstfruits harvest is handed over to the priest, he is to wave it before the Lord God as a wave offering.

Leviticus 23:10 “Speak to the children of Israel, and say to them, When you come into the land which I give to you, and shall reap the harvest thereof, then you shall bring a sheaf of the firstfruits of your harvest to the priest:

11 And he shall wave the sheaf before the LORD, to be accepted for you: on the morrow after the Sabbath the priest shall wave it.”

Offered alongside the wave sheaf offering that day is a male lamb, a year old and without blemish. God required the sacrificial lamb to be offered with the sheaf (omer) of the firstfruits harvest, together with the drink offering (strong wine) and the meat offering of fine flour mixed with oil.

The sacrificial lamb pictures the offering of Christ’s body and life to the Father which in turn paid for the life, freedom and forgiveness of sins for God’s people (and the rest of mankind). The drink offering (wine) is symbolic of the blood of Christ that cleanses and consecrates those covenanted with God.

Hebrews 13:12 “Wherefore Jesus also, that he might sanctify the people with his own blood, suffered without the gate.”

In Egypt, the blood of the Passover lamb on the door posts of Israel’s tabernacle (symbolic of the earthly habitation which is the body) identified them and kept their firstborn from death by the hand of the death angel.

The meat offering (of fine flour mixed with oil and salt) symbolize the flesh of Christ by which way one is able to enter the holy of holies or God’s presence and present an acceptable offering.

Hebrews 10:19 “Having therefore, brethren, boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus,

20 By a new and living way, which he has consecrated for us, through the veil, that is to say, his flesh;

21 And having a high priest over the house of God;

22 Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and our bodies washed with pure water.”

The wave sheaf offering cannot be offered on its own but needed the sacrificial lamb, the meat and drink offerings to be offered with it. This readily shows that it cannot be picturing Christ since his sacrifice and offering is perfect by itself in every sense. And also take note: the priest is to wave the sheaf to be accepted for the people. Christ’s offering does not require acceptance on behalf of the people. It’s the other way around! The people’s offering can only be accepted by God on behalf of Christ.

Furthermore, Christ is the one who reaps the harvest. So he cannot possibly be the harvest himself.

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Is the “Christian Passover” different from the Jewish Passover?

foot-washingPeter in his letter referred to Christ’s disciple as a Christian.

1 Peter 4:16 Yet if any man suffer as a Christian, let him not be ashamed; but let him glorify God on this behalf.

Do Christians observe different holy days from the ones the Jews observe?

To the Jews were committed the oracles of God.

Romans 3:1 What advantage then has the Jew? Or what profit is there of circumcision?

2 Much every way: chiefly, because that to them were committed the oracles of God.

3 For what if some did not believe? Shall their unbelief make the faith of God without effect?

4 God forbid: yes, let God be true, but every man a liar; as it is written, That You may be justified in Your sayings, and may overcome when You are judged.

Do the oracles mean the Holy Scriptures only? Of course not! The calendar is an integral part of the oracles because it is impossible to fulfill correctly what is written in the Hebrew bible about the holy days God commanded His people to keep in their “appointed times or seasons.”

The seven day weekly cycle likewise is part of the oracles God handed down and committed to the Jews so God’s people will be reminded of creation and the God who performs and fulfills all that the seventh day Sabbath symbolize.

Exodus 20:8 Remember the Sabbath, day, to keep it holy.

9 Six days you shall labor and do all your work,

10 but the seventh day is the Sabbath of the Lord your God. In it you shall do no work; you, nor your son, nor your daughter, nor your manservant, nor your maidservant, nor your cattle, nor your stranger who is within your gates.

11 For in six days the Lord made the heaven and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and hallowed it.

The Jews preserved the oracles despite the efforts of many people time and again to change times and laws.

Daniel 7:25 He shall speak pompous words against the Most High, shall persecute the saints of the Most High and shall intend to change times and law.

The unbelief of some Jews have no bearing whatsoever because God remains true.

Romans 3:3 For what if some did not believe? Shall their unbelief make the faith of God without effect?

4 God forbid: yes, let God be true, but every man a liar; as it is written, That You may be justified in Your sayings, and may overcome when You are judged.

Jesus Christ was a Jew and He kept the Jewish Sabbath.

Mark 1:21 Then they went into Capernaum, and immediately on the Sabbath He entered the synagogue and taught.

Luke 4:16 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.

31 Then He went down to Capernaum, a city of Galilee, and was teaching them on the Sabbaths.

Jesus Christ also kept the Jewish Passover and feasts.

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“Judge Not”—Did Christ Really Forbid Judging?

jesus handJesus Christ once declared in no uncertain terms to, “Judge not, that you be not judged” (Matthew 7:11). What did He mean that we should not “judge” others? Is all judging wrong?

In some other verses, He seemed to have encouraged His disciples to be more discerning and judging as he said, “Do not judge according to appearance, but judge with righteous judgment.” (John 7:24)

Those who claim that Christians are not to judge, do these when dealing with difficult issues such as adultery, abortion, so called “lifestyle choices” like homosexuality, and same-sex marriage. When a Christian insists, for example, that homosexual behaviour is a sin and that same-sex marriage is wrong, he or she is often met with derogatory comments like, “Who are you to judge two people who love each other?” Or similar statements such as: “You are a sinner too, so who do you think you are to tell us what’s wrong?” Speaking of an illicit affair one may retort, “It’s somebody’s private life—it’s none of your concern to judge.”

How are we to respond? Did Jesus really forbid judging? 

In the Sermon of the Mount, Jesus declared, “Judge not, that you be not judged. For with what judgment you judge, you will be judged; and with the measure you use, it will be measured back to you.” (Matthew 7:1-2).  When taken in isolation, these seem to imply that any sort of judgment is wrong, contextually however, there is much more to the verses than our own preconceived ideas.        

Immediately after Jesus said to, “Judge not” (v.1), seven verses later, He cautioned everyone to, “Do not give what is holy to the dogs; nor cast your pearls before swine” (v.7), which is an obviously derogatory remark no less.  He even proceeded to caution everyone about, “false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, inwardly they are ravenous wolves.” (v.15)

A good question to ask is, how are we to know who are the “dogs”, the “swine” or the “false prophets”; if we are not to exercise our judgment?   

To clear this up, a quick note from Strong‘s Concordance will tell us that the Greek word for “judge” (Strong’s 2919 κρίνω) is ‘krino’ (pronounced kree'-no). And it means, “properly, to separate (distinguish), i.e. judge; come to a choice (decision, judgment) by making a judgment – either positive (a verdict in favour of) or negative (which rejects or condemns). Thus, it is variously translated in the New Testament as “condemn –judge, determine, or condemn.” J. Thayer (Greek-English Lexicon) comments that “the proper meaning of 2919 (krínō) is to pick out (choose) by separating”

Primarily, Christ is warning believers against making hypocritical judgments in a condemning manner. This type of judging is a characteristic often associated with the elite and religious leaders during His ministry. Thus, when people quote “Judge not” from Matthew 7 v.1 it should be taken in the context of proper way “to judge” in verse 5 when it says, “Then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.”

Thus, while Jesus Christ discourages everyone to be “condemning”, He does not mean that we cannot show discernment and/or express our judgment as to form an opinion/view. 

In other verses Jesus Christ clearly reminded us, “Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks” (Matthew 12:34)

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The Truth Behind Valentine’s

cupidOn February 14 which is a celebration of love to many, most people will be exchanging greetings of love, tokens and messages of endearing affection. What could be much easier in a social media environment where everything—every “sweet nothings”—is just a click away!

While there are those who sincerely want to express their appreciation and love to their loved ones on this day, one cannot help but wonder, why be compelled by tradition to do it on February 14? What is this practice of exchanging “love” on Valentine’s day?

Trivialities aside, to those who want to know God’s will on this matter, and genuinely seek the truth behind it, and not just follow what the “crowd” is doing, wouldn’t you want to follow the example of what the Bereans did to every word and information or tradition they received?,

“Now these (Bereans) were more noble-minded than those in Thessalonica, for they received the word with great eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see whether these things were so.” (Acts 17:11)

As innocent and harmless as Valentine’s Day may appear today, its traditions and customs originated from two of the most licentious and highly sexually-charged heathen festivities of ancient history: the feast of  Juno Februata (Feb.14) and Lupercalia (Feb.15),the “god of hunting and fertility”.

Behind the modern soft re-interpretation of this day, such as its attribution to a Catholic saint-martyr called “St. Valentine” of third century (AD) which until recently no authority was certain as to the real identity of this saint, studies revealed,

“Everyone knows that St. Valentine’s Day is that day of the year when friends and lovers express affection for one another, through cards, candy and flowers, or whatever means the imagination can find. But no one is quite certain who this St. Valentine was—or, more appropriately, who these Valentines were. The early lists of church martyrs reveal at least three Valentines, and one source boosted this number to an unwieldy eight, each of whom had his feast day on February 14.

“The various Valentines eventually evolved into one. Lover’s quarrels come under his jurisdiction and, naturally, he is the patron saint of engaged couples and of anyone wishing to marry” (Robert Myers, in Celebrations: The Complete Book of American Holidays  with the editors of Hallmark Cards, 1972, pp. 48-49).

This led us back to the real pre-Valentine origin of this day. As the quote from above same author continues,

“The most plausible theory for St. Valentine’s Day traces its customs back to the Roman Lupercalia, a feast celebrated in February in honor of the pastoral god Lupercus, a Roman version of the Greek god Pan. The festival was an important one for the Romans and, occurring when it did, naturally had some aspects of a rebirth rite to it” (Robert Myers, in Celebrations: The Complete Book of American Holidays, pp. 50-51).

As the The World Book Encyclopedia adds:

“The customs connected with the day... probably come from an ancient Roman festival called Lupercalia which took place every February 15. The festival honored Juno, the Roman goddess of women and marriage, and Pan, the god of nature” (1973, vol. 20, p. 204).

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“Come Out of this World”

predestination“Come Out of this World!”

In one of the saddest occasions of his life, knowing that his time will be cut short, and that His disciples and future believers will be left to themselves in the world, Jesus prayed a most heartfelt supplication to the Father. He affirmed in John 17, with following words:

“I pray for them. I do not pray for the world but to those whom You have given Me, for they are Yours…”v.9

“I have given them Your word; and the world has hated them because they are not of the world, just as I am not of the world…”v.14, Thus, emphasizing, “They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. Sanctify them by Your truth. Your word is truth.” v. 16-17

From these verses, Christ gave two clear distinctions or positions from which Christians and believers should hold. First, he said that they are not really “of this world”, they are “in it” so to speak, but not “of it”. Second, he said that it is God’s word—His truth, that makes them separate, or “set apart”.     

For us today, these words seem difficult enough to take, because of so many distorted views, misplaced priorities and commercial conveniences we attach ourselves. It would be very unwise to go against the practices and deeply held traditions of the world. It would just seem practical to just “go with the flow” and with what’s “in” or popular. We think that we are already past the “wicked world” of the ancients, and we are now on civilized and multi-cultural societies, where everything is ‘the norm’—acceptable and justifiable. To be critical about its ways is to be tagged as “judgmental”, “bigoted”, if not “narrow-minded”!

Take the case of the many cherished traditions of the world today (Christmas, Easter, Valentines, Halloween, etc.). Does anybody really do some studies and take a close look as to whether these are really grounded on the truth? Does the acceptance of these by the majority of people (religious or otherwise) make it a valid truth?  Do these celebrations really come from the word of God, or merely handed down traditions that has its syncretistic origin, clearly prohibited by God Himself? As the saying goes, “It’s not about what it means to us…It’s about what it means to Him!” Notice,

“When the Lord your God cuts off before you the nations whom you go in to dispossess, and you dispossess them and dwell in their land, take care that you be not ensnared to follow them, after they have been destroyed before you, and that you do not inquire about their gods, saying, ‘How did these nations serve their gods?—that I also may do the same.’ You shall not worship the Lord your God in that way, for every abominable thing that the Lord hates they have done for their gods, for they even burn their sons and their daughters in the fire to their gods. “Everything that I command you, you shall be careful to do. You shall not add to it or take from it.” Deuteronomy 12:29-32 (cf., Jeremiah 10:2-5, Ezekiel 23:37-39, Zephaniah 1:5)    

To test God’s opinion on this matter, we only need to learn from the example and lesson of the children of Israel in the wilderness. Let's follow and learn.

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Jesus the Messiah: Man or God?

jesus-feetA LARGE PERCENTAGE OF CHRISTIAN denominations customarily believed Christ in his earthly life was a God. Part God and part man is how some others view him. A considerable number say Christ was only human, without any pre-existence whatsoever. While there are those who see him actually as a visible image of the Father, a materialized part of Himself.

What is the true nature of Jesus Christ? Is he some kind of demi-God just like the son of Zeus in Greek mythology? Is he in reality the one God who is also the Father?

Christ and the Father, One and the Same Being?

Ambiguous statements made by Christ before audiences gave rise to conflicting notion about his person. His last words to his disciples at the evening meal, before crucifixion, is one example of these:

John 17:20-23 (New King James Version) 20 “I do not pray for these alone, but also for those who will believe in Me through their word; 21 that they all may be one, as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You; that they also may be one in Us, that the world may believe that You sent Me. 22 And the glory which You gave Me I have given them, that they may be one just as We are one: 23 I in them, and You in Me; that they may be made perfect in one, and that the world may know that You have sent Me, and have loved them as You have loved Me.

Do these verses suggest that Christ and the Father is one and the same person? And that, together with God’s people, Jesus and the Father are going to be assimilated and combined in one spirit essence or being? Will one’s individuality be lost forever? Is that what God’s ever increasing kingdom is about?

Human proclivity is to hastily speculate and entertain influx of ideas to interpret said verses. Why not rather approach the passages in such a way as to allow scripture to answer itself, taking into serious consideration the thought expressed by the revelator himself; not how we perceive it to be? What the revelator actually meant can be found in other parts of scripture.

Reminding the Ephesian converts of their calling, apostle Paul was inspired by God to write about the unity made possible by the Spirit in the one body which is supposed to grow up to head, who is Christ.

Ephesians 4:3-4 endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. 4There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called in one hope of your calling;

Ephesians 4:15 but, speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him who is the head—Christ.

1 Corinthians 6:17 "But he who is joined to the Lord is one spirit with Him."

Central point to becoming one body is the indwelling of the Holy Spirit of God embodying his mind, in all the individual members of that body. It is this prime element that creates the bond unifying all functions of diverse parts of that body.

1 Corinthians 12:12-13 For as the body is one and has many members, but all the members of that one body, being many, are one body, so also is Christ. 13 For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free—and have all been made to drink into one Spirit.

Ephesians 2:18 "For through Him (Christ) we both have access by one Spirit to the Father."

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Who Was Jesus Before His Human Birth?

st-john-gospelDID THE LIFE OF JESUS begin only the day He was born? Did He ever live before and walk this earth in ancient times?

Conflicting opinions, divergent views and opposing doctrines are held by people when it comes to the pre-existence of Jesus Christ. Jehovah’s Witnesses believed he was the archangel Michael. Some opined Christ was the Father who appeared in a form visible to humans. Others think he never had any pre-existence at all.

What is the biblical truth? If at all Christ existed before becoming human, who or what was he? Let us see what the scripture has to say about this question.

Echoing the words of the prophet Micah of Moresheth, inspired by the Eternal to prophesy to the house of Jacob in Jerusalem and Samaria, wherein he alluded to the birth and origin of the future king of Israel;

Micah 5:2  “ 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[a] are from of old [b], from everlasting.”

Having the proper knowledge of meanings expressed by the inspired Hebrew words will give us a better understanding of the biblical text.

[a] goings forth- Hebrew “môwtsâ'âh” (Strong’s #4163 a family descent, going out {forth} origin)
[b]  of old -Hebrew “qedan or qêdmâh” (Strong’s #6924 the front of a place or time, aforetime, ancient, old, past)
[c] everlasting –Hebrew “ôwlâm or ôlâm” (Strong’s # 5703 concealed, i.e. vanishing point, time out of mind {practically} eternity)

Origin of this ruler and king of Israel, who is to be born in Bethlehem, is from ancient time or (practically) eternity.

Anxious to know the meaning of his dream and vision by night, Prophet Daniel was given the interpretation thereof. And he wrote down the prophecy of what is to befall the saints in the last days, till the return of the Ancient of Days.

Daniel 7:21-22 “I was watching; and the same horn was making war against the saints, and prevailing against them, 22 until the Ancient of Days came, and a judgment was made in favor of the saints of the Most High, and the time came for the saints to possess the kingdom.

Ancient of Days suggests an existence that goes way beyond the distant past. Identity of the Ancient of Days was revealed in the Book of Revelation as Jesus Christ, the Word of God.

Revelation 19:11, 13 now I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse. And He who sat on him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness He judges and makes war. 13 He was clothed with a robe dipped in blood, and His name is called The Word of God.

An eye-opening witness was given by John the Baptist about the Messiah as he preached throughout Galilee.

John 1:15 John bore witness of Him and cried out, saying, “This was He of whom I said, ‘He who comes after me is preferred before me, for He was before me.’”

John 1:29-30 The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, “Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world! 30 This is He of whom I said, ‘after me comes a Man who is preferred before me, for He was before me.’

[a] preferred - a translation of the Greek word “ginomai” (Strong’s #1096 to cause to be {generate} i.e. To become {come into being}, arise be assembled, be, be brought, be finished, be found, happen, be made)

John the Baptist says that although Christ was born after him, he existed in fact before him. Jesus came into being before John the Baptist as his word preferred expressed.

Christ own shocking words confirm this fact when he said to the crowd at the temple:

John 8:58 Jesus said to them, “Most assuredly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I AM.”  

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