Good Soil

Seeds can be sown correctly, spaced correctly, fertilized correctly, but without good soil they will never germinate, they will never grow and produce fruit. So, what is “good soil?”

Good soil seems to have three things. It has dirt. It has sun. It has water (moisture). Think about it, for a seed to grow it needs all three. Leave out any one of those and the seed just dies.

Other seeds fell on shallow soil with underlying rock. The seeds sprouted quickly because the soil was shallow. But the plants soon wilted under the hot sun, and since they didn’t have deep roots, they died.” – Matthew 13:5-6

Dirt, sun, and water

Good soil needs dirt. A seed won’t grow without nutrients and something to hold the seed in place. “Still other seeds fell on fertile soil, and they produced a crop that was thirty, sixty, and even a hundred times as much as had been planted!” – Matthew 13:8

Good soil needs sunlight. A seed won’t grow in the dark. “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God…In him was life, and the life was the light of men.” – John 1:1, 4

Good soil needs water. A seed will wither without water. Jesus said to her, ‘Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again. The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.’ – John 4:13-14

Crops for Christ

God’s Word is the seed. “The seed that fell on good soil represents those who truly hear and understand God’s word and produce a harvest of thirty, sixty, or even a hundred times as much as had been planted!” – Matthew 13:23

As believers in Christ Jesus, let’s make sure we keep ourselves bathed in the light and water of Jesus. We all want to produce a great crop for God!

Photo by Markus Spiske on Unsplash


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I ❤️ COVID?

No, I don’t love the pain, suffering, and loss that COVID has dealt our world. I don’t like the isolation or the friction between the many factions that evolved from COVID health management. But there is an aspect of what COVID caused that I love. The COVID pandemic has reawaken the Church.

A haven and a hope

Somehow, many devout Christians wandered into thinking that churches having exceptionally nice stuff was good for churches – prominent buildings, fancy sanctuaries, luxury vans: then came COVID. Suddenly, these grand edifices sat empty, but their congregations still lived.

There were messages to be preached, weddings and funerals to be done, hungry and hurting people that still needed help. Nice buildings didn’t do those things, those that are alive in Christ Jesus did those things. The Church was the Church even when there were no walls, no ceilings, no doors.

I am so very thankful for Zoom® church services. They have certainly helped many Christians to stay connected to their congregations, but local churches represent Christ to their local communities. They are a haven and a hope. When the churches closed it impacted people, even people that were “unchurched.” Did we not remember:

For it has been granted to you that for the sake of Christ you should not only believe in him but also suffer for his sake,

Philippians 1:29

Finding Christ in Christianity

As believers, we have a calling, a purpose that God conceived for us before Creation. “For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.(Ephesians 2:10) God doesn’t suspend our calling when our path is difficult to walk. I am not at all encouraging anyone to act foolishly. As representatives of Jesus, we can’t react to events the way the rest of humanity reacts, for their reaction, for the most part, is for their own self interests.

Discovery

During 2020 a precious missionary friend of mine began using Zoom® to teach Bible classes in India and Nigeria. She learned how to do this because of COVID.

My wife’s home church is a country church. The size of the congregation is small. They set up a Facebook channel for members that wanted to self-quarantine, but the church didn’t close. They continued to meet to pray, worship, and preach the Word of God as a congregation. What happened was that people with no affiliation to the church found their channel and began watching! COVID expanded the church’s reach.

A friend of mine is a member of a church that, even before COVID, had begun focusing on home church meetings. They have a large congregation, but they felt God’s leading to make the church more intimate, more personal. COVID had negligible impact on this church, but COVID reinforced their decision.

I 😡 COVID

So, you see, I hate COVID and the carnage it has caused, but I see new life in the Church, and for that, I give thanks to God. “In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.” (1 Thessalonians 5:18)

Photo by Debby Hudson on Unsplash


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Made in the Image of God

He brought His will to bear upon the chaos (Genesis 1:2), and out of chaos, God caused order and purpose.

When we read chapters one and two of Genesis, we see that God created both man and woman and both are in the image of God. So, there is an equality that God is showing us between the genders. Both genders are made in God’s image.

Also, from Genesis chapter one and two, we see God doing something more than just a to-do list. God didn’t just “check the boxes.” He brought His will to bear upon the chaos (Genesis 1:2), and out of chaos, God caused order and purpose.

Order and purpose

We see this order and purpose in His creation on the first five days, and we see it on the sixth day in how God first created man and then woman. God’s creation order of man and woman is affirmed by the apostle Paul, writing under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit:

“For Adam was formed first, then Eve;

1 Timothy 2:13

Both genders are made in God’s image. Therefore, they are equal in quality, value, and destiny. They both are from the same image of God (quality), they both enjoy the paradise of Eden (value), and each judged by God (destiny). This equality is affirmed:

There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.

Galatians 3:28

Quality, value, and destiny

Notice that Genesis, chapters one and two, are before sin and the fall, so we see God’s intended design. Why didn’t God make man and woman at the same time and in the same way? I’m glad you asked!

Men and women are equal in quality, value, and destiny, but God has established separate roles. There are some things we need to understand. First, we see that God assigned responsibility for a marriage’s moral compass to man. Yes, God lays the leadership role upon man, and when a moral failure occurs within a marriage, it’s the man that God first takes to the woodshed! 

6 So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate, and she also gave some to her husband who was with her, and he ate. 7 Then the eyes of both were opened, and they knew that they were naked. And they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves loincloths.

8 And they heard the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God among the trees of the garden. 9 But the Lord God called to the man and said to him, “Where are you?”

Genesis 3:6-9

Nothing would make my blood run cold faster than hearing my dad yell, “Gary, where are you?!”

Godly men are essential for families, churches, and society. However, leadership isn’t leadership if no one is following, and you can’t make someone follow you. We are told:

“In the same way husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself.”

Ephesians 5:28

Now for a man to accomplish his moral leadership role in marriage, the wife needs to follow his Godly leadership within their marriage. The Holy Spirit inspired the apostle Paul to write:

But I want you to understand that the head of every man is Christ, the head of a wife is her husband, and the head of Christ is God.

1 Corinthians 11:3

After the fall in the Garden of Eden, everyone is a sinner (Romans 3:23), so marriage is challenging, even for Christians. The sin that lives in our flesh wars against us; so often, our sin-nature sets wives against husbands and vice versa. Only as each person strives to please Jesus our Lord can we become acceptable to our mates.

Jesus and His Bride

Also, in man and then woman’s creation order, we see a beautiful picture of Jesus and His Bride, the Church. Jesus is the Head, and His sacrifice on the cross came before the birth of the Church (in Acts 2). From the very creation of humanity, we see Jesus and His Bride. Now that’s good news!

Photo by Sandy Millar on Unsplash


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What-If Fears

Piper suddenly stopped, then turned around and tugged hard on his leash. Piper knew something my D-I-L didn’t know.

Psalms 34 is one of my favorites. A pastor and friend put music and a melody to Psalms 34:1-4 (KJV). For me, every time our congregation sang this song it fed my soul.

Verse: 
I will bless the Lord at all times:
his praise shall continually be in my mouth.
My soul shall make her boast in the Lord:
the humble shall hear thereof, and be glad.


Chorus:
O magnify the Lord with me,
and let us exalt his name together.
I sought the Lord, and he heard me, and delivered me from all my fears.

Fear from danger

Fear is a fundamental attribute in everyone. God gave us fear for at least two reasons. One kind is the “fear of the LORD.” We’ll look at that later. Today, I want to focus on fear that comes from danger, either real or perceived. For most of us, danger triggers fear to get our attention. Fear tells us to use our spirit and mind to respond to the thing that triggered fear in us.

The story of Piper

My son and daughter-in-law (D-I-L) lived in a bush village, on an island, in Alaska for several years. During their stay, they had an Australian shepherd dog named Piper. He was (and still is) a great blessing. 

On the island, people are not at the top of the food chain. Bears, wolves, and other animals see people as food. Anyway, my D-I-L would take Piper for his daily walks, and they never had any worries. But one day, as they were on their usual path, Piper suddenly stopped, then immediately turned around and tugged hard on his leash. Piper knew something that my D-I-L didn’t know.

She felt a flash of fear, but the good kind. She didn’t have debilitating fear, just the “fight or flight” kind. She chose flight! They got back home safely. They continued their daily walking routine and never experienced another “fight or flight” event.

Those what-if fears

My point is that fear is God-given and is for our protection. Still, we know that most of our fears are birthed from our sins, our doubts, our lack of faith. Am I the only one that has ever invented scenarios in my mind that caused me to fear? Most of us have had “what if” fears. Worry is always a what-if fear. What-if fears are sin. What?! I can’t even worry without sinning. Nope.

Let’s consider fear. According to my search on BibleHub.com, 995 Bible verses have the word “fear” in them. There are only 112 verses that have the word “hell” in them. God has provided us with a wealth of verses to help us understand how fear works, how it affects people, and how God’s love casts out all fear.

There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love. – 1 John 4:18

Power, love, and self-control

Oh, I forgot to mention the root of what-if fear is punishment. What if my boss fires me for spending too much time on Facebook? What if I lose my temper? What if I lose my faith, like my friend? All of these are what-ifs that carry the fear of some kind of punishment. But I have good news.

For believers in Christ Jesus, we have no reason to fear those what-ifs. Oh, they will bombard us, but they can do us no harm for we have God’s promises to care for us:

For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power, love, and self-control. – 2 Timothy 1:7 (BSB)

In peace I will both lie down and sleep; for you alone, O Lord, make me dwell in safety.” – Psalms 4:8

Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.” – Matthew 6:34

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Eye Problem

Today, I would like us to consider people we will encounter when we venture out into this post-COVID world – I know COVID isn’t over but many mask mandates are.

April 6th was when Indiana dropped the face mask rule. Suddenly, restaurants are filling up, baseball games have spectators, and people are rediscovering those facial expressions hidden for over a year.

I see damaged people

In some ways, I see God’s perfect timing regarding COVID. It’s spring. Flowers are blooming, birds are singing, the sun is bright, and we are finally seeing the smiles of friends, loved ones, and total strangers. How glorious it is to see the beauty in every face I see, for we all are created in the image of God.

During those fourteen months of the COVID winter, people’s faces were hidden, although we did learn to smile with our eyes (I hope we don’t lose that skill). But now, as I look into the faces of people on the street or in stores, I see damaged people. God designed us to be with others. No (happy) man is an island.

Eye Problem

Now that I see people’s faces, there seems to be an eye problem. We don’t know what to do with our eyes! I’ve seen eyes that seem lost, dazed, and confused. What is this new world? Why does it feel different from the one I spent my life in, that is, until March 2020?

It saddens me to see this pain in people’s faces. Oh, there’s joy there. They are now free. But as a poor dog kept on a chain, we’re not sure about our newly found freedom. What is appropriate? What will others accept?

Strange new world

Almost like a sci fi movie, we all have entered an alien world; for us, an uncharted world. If we have received God’s gift of salvation through Jesus Christ, then we can rest in God’s message to us in Psalms 56:11:

In God have I put my trust: I will not be afraid what man can do unto me.

As children of God, we can draw upon God’s strength for His Word declares in Psalm 100:3: “Know that the LORD, he is God! It is he who made us, and we are his; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture.” So, as His sheep, let us turn our concerns to others for “… my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:19)

As we venture out into this new world, let’s love others and not fear them. Let’s extend compassion and be ready, like Jesus, to recognize the needs of the lost, dazed, and confused. Remember, “We love because he first loved us.” (1 John 4:14)

Photo by Ani Kolleshi on Unsplash


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Freewill Bondage

Authority

I won’t ask for a show of hands, but how many of you have ever committed a moving violation while driving? Yes, me too. Let me quickly say that this post is not about any aspect of driving. The “speed limit” vs “me limit” is too perilous a debate for this blog! And no, I’m not wading into politics. The authority I do want us to consider today is that of the Church, and within that, our local church.

Government institutions

Let’s get this out of the way. Government institutions have no authority over the Church, but they do have authority concerning laws based upon Christ’s command, “love your neighbor as yourself. (Mark 12:31)” Jesus, the Word of God (John 1:14), used just five words to cover every permutation of right and wrong between or among people.

In our country and around the world there are millions of laws created by governments to try to enforce those five words that people are unwilling to do. Of course, if civic leaders attempt to exert their authority over our obedience to God, then we must do as the apostles did. “… Peter and the apostles answered, “We must obey God rather than men. (Acts 5:29)”

Church membership

When we attend a church service we worship, celebrate our Savior, and experience spiritual growth, but we are visitors. When we join a church, we become part of that community of believers. We not only gain the benefits, but we take on responsibilities, including being obedient to the doctrines of that church and respect and obedience to those who are over us.

In 2 Thessalonians 3:4 we learn: And we have confidence in the Lord about you, that you are doing and will do the things that we command.” The apostle Paul is very direct. Paul expects the Thessalonica church that he established to obey the doctrines and rules he laid down and which the congregation accepted. He is not saying anything surprising, for in his first letter to the church in Thessalonica he wrote, “We ask you, brothers, to respect those who labor among you and are over you in the Lord and admonish you (1 Thessalonians 5:12).”

Yes, my fellow Americans, church leaders are commanded to look after our welfare and to chasten us (Romans 16:1-2, Hebrews 13:17) when we act in ways that are contrary to the will of God. Included in the will of God is to be obedient to the doctrines of our church. If the doctrines are contrary to the Word of God, then we shouldn’t join; if they change and become contrary to the Word of God then we should ask Jesus if we should stay and work for change or come out.

The depth of our freewill bondage

What is important is for us to be reminded of the depth of our freewill bondage to our church family, and to the leaders and presbytery. We were not required by civil or legal entities to become members of our local churches. However, when a Christian requests membership and is accepted into their new church home there was a lot happening, spiritually.

Because church membership carries with it solemn obligations, many churches provide a “letter of recommendation” and require a “letter of recommendation” for a person or family that leaves their congregation and joins another congregation.

If there is a civil or spiritual dispute among Christians, then that dispute should be settled within their church. Remember, the words of Jesus concerning civil matters. Come to terms quickly with your accuser while you are going with him to court, lest your accuser hand you over to the judge, and the judge to the guard, and you be put in prison.” (Matthew 5:25)

How churches are governed

There are clearly defined leadership roles within the Church, as well as the spiritual gifts of individuals (Ephesians 4:11, 1 Corinthians 12:28), and Jesus Christ is the Head of the Church. If we ignore and violate our local church’s authority, we are violating the Bride’s relationship to Jesus Christ. It doesn’t get more serious than that.

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Of Infinite Importance

 But the angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you seek Jesus who was crucified. He is not here, for he has risen, as he said. Come, see the place where he lay.” – Matthew 28:5-6

C.S. Lewis wrote, “Christianity, if false, is of no importance, and, if true, of infinite importance. The one thing it cannot be is modestly important.”

goodreads

When you find a plumber, roofer, or electrician who actually does what they say they’ll do, you tell other people about them. You bring it up during lunch, before business meetings, even when you get your hair cut. It’s so unusual, and you’re so thrilled that you can’t help but talk about it. 

The Apostles knew Jesus firsthand. Some saw Jesus on the cross. After Christ’s death, burial, and resurrection, they laid down their lives in service to Jesus, some in distant lands. Why? The Apostles knew that Jesus did what He said He would do (Luke 24:7). He arose from the dead. The apostles knew this news was of infinite importance and was worth their very lives to share this Good News with others. 

As we celebrate Christ’s victory over death, hell, and the grave (Revelation 1:17-18), let’s share this good news with all who will listen! Jesus did what He said. That’s good news worth talk’n about.

Phillip Benshmuel, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons


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Passover and Feast of Unleavened Bread

Since Jesus is the Passover Lamb, He had to die on a Friday, the day of Preparation, because that’s when the Passover lamb was killed and prepared for the Passover meal on the Sabbath. Jesus is the sacrificial lamb whose blood allows God’s judgement to “pass over” us.

Then Jesus took them through the writings of Moses and all the prophets, explaining from all the Scriptures the things concerning himself. 

Luke 24:27

Passover

Today we will search for Jesus in the Passover ceremony and the Feast of Unleavened Bread, both found in Leviticus, chapter twenty-three.

As we find in the Old Testament, Passover is the first day of the seven-day Feast of Unleavened Bread (Chag HaMatzot). For Hasidic and Orthodox Jews, this feast lasts eight days. We know that as time passed from the original “Pass Over” meal in Egypt, the Jewish Passover became very ritualized, so much so that the Jewish Passover is now the Seder meaning “order.” The Passover meal includes unleavened bread, wine, bitter herbs, the Passover lamb, and the singing hymns, all intended to remind each generation of Jews how God delivered them from slavery in Egypt.

When God told Moses to get the Israelites out of Egypt, His message to Moses purposely didn’t give the Jews time to make “normal” bread for their “last supper” in Egypt. Did we just see Jesus? Yes, I think we did.

As believers in the Lamb of God (John 1:29), we can see the Jewish Passover lamb pointing directly to Jesus and His death on the cross. Many of the “foreshadows of Jesus” that we find in the Old Testament are not immediately apparent. The Passover is obvious. It is overt. You just can’t miss the Passover lamb pointing to the Perfect Lamb of God. With verses, such as the following, we clearly see Jesus in the Passover:

  1. John 1:36, and he looked at Jesus as he walked by and said, “Behold, the Lamb of God!
  2. 1 Corinthians 5:7, “Cleanse out the old leaven that you may be a new lump, as you really are unleavened. For Christ, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed.”
  3. 1 Peter 1:19, “But with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without blemish or spot.

Feast of Unleavened Bread

In the first month, on the fourteenth day of the month at twilight, is the Lord’s Passover. And on the fifteenth day of the same month is the Feast of Unleavened Bread to the Lord; for seven days you shall eat unleavened bread.”

Leviticus 23:5-6

When we look at the Feast of Unleavened Bread, we find that it commemorates the Israelites’ affliction in Egypt (Exodus 3:7) and their journey through the wilderness. At the beginning of their exodus, before God provided them with manna, the Jews ate unleavened bread. By this change in the Jewish diet, we see the Jews leaving their sinful world (leavened bread) to live in a time of God-ordained preparation. God was purging worldliness from their lives (unleavened bread) and then entering into God’s provision (manna), sustained by Yahweh Jireh, the Lord will provide (Genesis 22:14).

In God’s Word, leaven is commonly, but not always, associated with sin or worldliness. God uses the Feast of Unleavened Bread to remind His chosen people how difficult it is to get sin out of your house. Not only does “A little leaven leavens the whole lump” (Galatians 5:9) but cleaning the leaven out of your house is almost impossible because yeast floats in the air. For England, in the 1500s, the cooks would place a bit of dough in a patch of weeds to capture the yeast in the air to create a “start” for leavening.

The Sinless Jesus

We find the unleavened bread points to the sinless Jesus, untouched by the worldliness which leaven represents. Also, leaven represents death and corruption. Leavened bread quickly becomes moldy and decays. The body of Jesus did not decay, for the Bible states in Acts 13:27, “but he whom God raised up did not see corruption.” 

We read in Exodus 3:7 that unleavened bread is called the bread of affliction. Also, we read in Isaiah 53:4-5:

Surely he has borne our griefs
    and carried our sorrows;
yet we esteemed him stricken,
    smitten by God, and afflicted.
But he was pierced for our transgressions;
    he was crushed for our iniquities;
upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace,
    and with his wounds we are healed.

Identified with Affliction

unleavened bread

Photo credit: Sangjun Yi on Visual hunt / CC BY-NC-SA

The unleavened bread that the Israelites made would have brown splotches from being baked in wood-fired or dung-fired, portable ovens (uneven heat). These are said to represent Christ’s bruising and wounds. When we partake of unleavened bread during the Last Supper / Eucharist / Communion, we identify ourselves with the suffering and afflictions that Jesus took on our behalf. Notice that we do not work for our sanctification. It’s all about Jesus:

But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior.” (Titus 3:4-6)

More About the Feast

The first day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread is the Passover meal. Before the meal, all leaven (sin) must be removed. To get yeast (leaven) out of their homes, modern Jews vacuum their homes, wipe off all surfaces and take out of their homes all leavened bread. They do this in obedience to God’s command:

Unleavened bread shall be eaten for seven days; no leavened bread shall be seen with you, and no leaven shall be seen with you in all your territory.

Exodus 13:7

In keeping with leaven being a “type” of sinfulness, we find that no sacrifices to God contain leaven.

No grain offering that you bring to the Lord shall be made with leaven, for you shall burn no leaven nor any honey as a food offering to the Lord.

Leviticus 2:11

Chametz

The Jewish tradition of cleaning their home of all chametz (leavened bread/yeast) is called kashering. They search their homes for any trace of chametz. This process usually begins several weeks before the Passover meal – it’s challenging to get sin out of our lives.

On the night before Passover, the whole family performs a ceremonial search for chametz by candlelight. This search is called bedikat chametz. Before the search starts, they recite the Hebrew blessing:

Blessed are You, LORD our God, King of the universe, Who sanctifies us with His commandments and commands us regarding the removal of chametz.

In a kind of “hide and seek,” families perform the old custom of hiding ten pieces of chametz around the home. The whole family searches for the hidden chametz. The ten pieces are symbolic of the ten plagues that God poured out upon Egypt. A feather and a spoon are used to sweep up the last crumbs of leavened bread. The following day, they burn the crumbs of leavened bread, the feather, and the spoon.

Sourdough

A fascinating sighting of Jesus in the Feast of Unleavened Bread has to do with the history baked into leavened bread. In ancient Israel, bread was made by adding yeast (leavening) and a bit of sourdough. 

Sourdough is the starter for bread. Sourdough can be a hundred years old, or even more! The sourdough in San Francisco’s famous sourdough bread has existed since the 1800s.

We’ve read about the yeast, but we haven’t considered the starter, the sourdough. Ordinary bread always carried a history in it that comes from the sourdough used to get the bread to rise. As descendants of Adam, we carry the history of Adam’s sin within us; it’s baked in. However, when we turn our lives over to Jesus, we are born again and become unleavened bread – flour & water. We have no yeast (corruption), and we have no history of sin (sourdough). “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” (Romans 8:1)

Photo by Phil Goodwin on Unsplash


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Passover and Feast of Unleavened Bread

Then Jesus took them through the writings of Moses and all the prophets, explaining from all the Scriptures the things concerning himself. 

Luke 24:27

Passover

Today we will search for Jesus in the Passover ceremony and the Feast of Unleavened Bread, both found in Leviticus, chapter twenty-three.

As we find in the Old Testament, Passover is the first day of the seven-day Feast of Unleavened Bread (Chag HaMatzot). For Hasidic and Orthodox Jews, this feast lasts eight days. We know that as time passed from the original “Pass Over” meal in Egypt, the Jewish Passover became very ritualized, so much so that the Jewish Passover is now the Seder meaning “order.” The Passover meal includes unleavened bread, wine, bitter herbs, the Passover lamb, and the singing hymns, all intended to remind each generation of Jews how God delivered them from slavery in Egypt.

When God told Moses to get the Israelites out of Egypt, His message to Moses purposely didn’t give the Jews time to make “normal” bread for their “last supper” in Egypt. Did we just see Jesus? Yes, I think we did.

As believers in the Lamb of God (John 1:29), we can see the Jewish Passover lamb pointing directly to Jesus and His death on the cross. Many of the “foreshadows of Jesus” that we find in the Old Testament are not immediately apparent. The Passover is obvious. It is overt. You just can’t miss the Passover lamb pointing to the Perfect Lamb of God. With verses, such as the following, we clearly see Jesus in the Passover:

  1. John 1:36, “and he looked at Jesus as he walked by and said, “Behold, the Lamb of God!
  2. 1 Corinthians 5:7, “Cleanse out the old leaven that you may be a new lump, as you really are unleavened. For Christ, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed.”
  3. 1 Peter 1:19, “But with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without blemish or spot.”

Feast of Unleavened Bread

In the first month, on the fourteenth day of the month at twilight, is the Lord’s Passover. And on the fifteenth day of the same month is the Feast of Unleavened Bread to the Lord; for seven days you shall eat unleavened bread.”

Leviticus 23:5-6

When we look at the Feast of Unleavened Bread, we find that it commemorates the Israelites’ affliction in Egypt (Exodus 3:7) and their journey through the wilderness. At the beginning of their exodus, before God provided them with manna, the Jews ate unleavened bread. By this change in the Jewish diet, we see the Jews leaving their sinful world (leavened bread) to live in a time of God-ordained preparation. God was purging worldliness from their lives (unleavened bread) and then entering into God’s provision (manna), sustained by Yahweh Jireh, the Lord will provide (Genesis 22:14).

In God’s Word, leaven is commonly, but not always, associated with sin or worldliness. God uses the Feast of Unleavened Bread to remind His chosen people how difficult it is to get sin “out of your house.” Not only does “A little leaven leavens the whole lump” (Galatians 5:9) but cleaning the leaven out of your house is almost impossible because yeast floats in the air. For England, in the 1500s, the cooks would place a bit of dough in a patch of weeds to capture the yeast in the air to create a “start” for leavening.

The Sinless Jesus

We find the unleavened bread points to the sinless Jesus, untouched by the worldliness which leaven represents. Also, leaven represents death and corruption. Leavened bread quickly becomes moldy and decays. The body of Jesus did not decay, for the Bible states in Acts 13:27, “but he whom God raised up did not see corruption.” 

We read in Exodus 3:7 that unleavened bread is called the bread of affliction. Also, we read in Isaiah 53:4-5:

Surely he has borne our griefs
    and carried our sorrows;
yet we esteemed him stricken,
    smitten by God, and afflicted.
But he was pierced for our transgressions;
    he was crushed for our iniquities;
upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace,
    and with his wounds we are healed.

Identified with Affliction

unleavened bread

Photo credit: Sangjun Yi on Visual hunt / CC BY-NC-SA

The unleavened bread that the Israelites made would have brown splotches from being baked in wood-fired or dung-fired, portable ovens (uneven heat). These are said to represent Christ’s bruising and wounds. When we partake of unleavened bread during the Last Supper / Eucharist / Communion, we identify ourselves with the suffering and afflictions that Jesus took on our behalf. Notice that we do no work in our sanctification. It’s all about Jesus:

But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior.” (Titus 3:4-6)

More About the Feast

The first day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread is the Passover meal. Before the meal, all leaven (sin) must be removed. To get yeast (leaven) out of their homes, modern Jews vacuum their homes, wipe off all surfaces and take out of their homes all leavened bread. They do this in obedience to God’s command in Exodus 13:7: “Unleavened bread shall be eaten for seven days; no leavened bread shall be seen with you, and no leaven shall be seen with you in all your territory.”

In keeping with leaven being a “type” of sinfulness, we find that no sacrifices to God contain leaven. “No grain offering that you bring to the Lord shall be made with leaven, for you shall burn no leaven nor any honey as a food offering to the Lord.” (Leviticus 2:11).

Chametz

The Jewish tradition of cleaning their home of all chametz (leavened bread/yeast) is called kashering. They search their homes for any trace of chametz. This process usually begins several weeks before the Passover meal – it’s challenging to get sin out of our lives.

On the night before Passover, the whole family performs a ceremonial search for chametz by candlelight. This search is called bedikat chametz. Before the search starts, they recite the Hebrew blessing:

Blessed are You, LORD our God, King of the universe, Who sanctifies us with His commandments and commands us regarding the removal of chametz.

In a kind of “hide and seek,” families perform the old custom of hiding ten pieces of chametz around the home. The whole family searches for the hidden chametz. The ten pieces are symbolic of the ten plagues that God poured out upon Egypt. A feather and a spoon are used to sweep up the last crumbs of leavened bread. The following day, they burn the crumbs of leavened bread, the feather, and the spoon.

Sourdough

A fascinating sighting of Jesus in the Feast of Unleavened Bread has to do with the history baked into leavened bread. In ancient Israel, bread was made by adding yeast (leavening) and a bit of sourdough. 

Sourdough is the starter for bread. Sourdough can be a hundred years old, or even more! The sourdough in San Francisco’s famous sourdough bread has existed since the 1800s.

We’ve read about the yeast, but we haven’t considered the starter, the sourdough. Ordinary bread always carried a history in it that comes from the sourdough used to get the bread to rise. As descendants of Adam, we carry the history of Adam’s sin within us; it’s baked in. However, when we turn our lives over to Jesus, we are born again and become unleavened bread – flour & water. We have no yeast (corruption), and we have no history of sin (sourdough). “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” (Romans 8:1)

Photo by Phil Goodwin on Unsplash



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God Never Lies

Lies are not just an American Ninja Warrior kind of obstacle course for kids. We all are flooded by a firehose of lies.

We’re lied to 10 to 200 times a day, and tell a lie ourselves an average of 1 to 2 times in the same period.” – Pamela Meyer, TED Talk

Jesus called satan the father of lies (John 8:44), and science confirms that humanity is firmly planted in his palm. So, in a world filled with deception, how can we, Christ’s followers, navigate through each day?

My question is not rhetorical. How do you answer when your child tries to teach you things that they learn in school but are lies? How do you instill unwavering trust in God and His Word when the most prevalent media platforms contradict the commands of Christ?

Lies are an obstacle course

Lies are not just an American Ninja Warrior kind of obstacle course for kids. We all are continually attempting to discover truth while being flooded by the firehose of lies spewed forth from secular institutions and media.
Well, I have good news. God never lies.

God, who never lies

Titus 1:2

I know people that believe one of the big lies talked about the Bible: “The Bible is full of contradictions.” I don’t see that. I’ve read the Bible through many times and studied the Bible for, well, let’s just say, a very long time. Nevertheless, if there is something in God’ Word that is a stumbling block to you then be encouraged by Charles Spurgeon:

If I see in God’s Book two truths which I cannot square with one another, I believe them both.

Searchlight on Spurgeon: Spurgeon Speaks for Himself, 73.

You may say, “He was crazy.” No, he knew that God never lies. So, when we are confronted with anything that does not seem to agree with what God’s Word says, then we can rightly stand upon God’s Word. Since we are lied to from 10 to 200 times each day, why would we put our trust in anything that doesn’t align with the Bible? People lie, but we serve the God that never lies!

Photo by Brett Jordan on Unsplash


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