12: 14 "This is a day to remember. Each year, from generation to generation, you must celebrate it as a special festival to the Lord. This is a law for all time. You are about to begin learning about a very important aspect of Biblical teaching that is all but lost in Western Christianity. Today, we'll just barely touch on them, and in coming days, we'll look at them more in depth. It's the Jewish Feasts or Festivals. The word "feast" is not a term for an all-you-can-eat-buffet. It actually means, "dress rehearsal." In other words, God established the seven feasts as annual dress rehearsals for the Israelites so they would recognize the two future events when their Messiah came to earth. Most of the Feasts are not celebrated right now because a Temple was required in order to do so, and there is none. However, they are critical to our understanding of prophecy, and will once again be celebrated in full force in the Millennial Kingdom (Jesus' 1,000 year reign on earth, coming soon!).
When Jesus came to the earth the first time, He fulfilled 4 of the 7 feasts, all in a sequential row and all within a couple of months. These were all spring feasts, or "planting season," Passover, Unleavened Bread, First Fruits, and Pentecost. When He returns again, He will fulfill the last three, which are all fall feasts, and interestingly, harvesting season-Trumpets (Rapture), Day of Atonement, and Shelters or Tabernacles (God comes to dwell with us). Passover is the very first feast established, followed immediately by the Feast of Unleavened Bread, and the Israelites were supposed to celebrate it every year as a dress rehearsal, but would they would recognize their Messiah when He came to earth? We will find the answer soon! Also, some people believe that because Jesus fulfilled all 4 spring feasts together in a row in the same year, that makes an argument for a post-tribulation rapture. In other words, the fall feasts would all be fulfilled the same month at the end of the tribulation. But, nobody knows for sure...
For seven days the bread you eat must be made without yeast. On the
first day of the festival, remove every trace of yeast from your homes.
Some of the instructions of the Bible seem so strange and
irrational. But they never are, we just need to understand. Yeast is
explained in the New Testament as both hypocrisy, or pretending to be
something you're not (Luke 12:1), and wickedness (1 Corinthians 5:1-6).
12:40 The people of Israel had lived in Egypt for 430 years. Many Jewish teachers believe that it was closer to 200 years by the genealogy calculations. The 430 years may have been closer to how long it was from the promise to Abraham until the Israelites reached the Promised Land. This Old Testament Timeline has been very helpful for me in understanding the relationship of events.
12:48 "If there are foreigners living among you who want to celebrate the Lord's Passover, let all their males be circumcised. Only then may they celebrate the Passover with you like any native-born Israelite. But no uncircumcised male may ever eat the Passover meal. This brings up the issue of circumcision. Remember, almost all of the "rituals" in the Old Testament were shadow or symbols of things to come. Here we see that no outsiders may celebrate Passover, but foreigners may as long as they have been circumcised. What God is saying is that, once a person has been circumcised, they become an "insider." Circumcision really was only a symbol for being set apart and cut away from the corrupted "flesh" for God. It is a physical manifestation of an internal change of heart. "No, a true Jew is one whose heart is right with God. And true circumcision is not a cutting of the body but a change of heart produced by God's Spirit. Whoever has that kind of change seeks praise from God, not from people (Romans 2:22)." Anyone who desires to have eternal life must be circumcised in the heart. A quick note, some Jewish people might tell you that you are not allowed to celebrate Passover, but I think this verse (top) is every proof they are wrong!
Some believers think that circumcision and other laws set in place by God from the Old Testament are done away with in Christ. But Messianic teachers agree that the Torah (Levitical teachings) are no more done away with than Christ, because they are the living Word. These teachers explain that the Torah was never done away with, but that we don't keep it to gain eternal life. In other words, we are saved by grace, not by following the Torah (Torah means "teaching," not "law"), but followers of Christ should still observe the Torah as a demonstration of belief. To find out what it means to live by Torah exactly, a great book to read is, "Restoration," by Thomas Lancaster.
13:2 "Dedicate to me every firstborn among the Israelites. The first offspring to be born, of both humans and animals, belongs to me." I think there's a good argument for believers dedicating their first-born children to the Lord. What does that mean? Perhaps surrendering them to the Lord should He call them to full time service for the Kingdom.
13:3 "This is a day to remember forever-the day you left Egypt, the place of your slavery. Today the Lord has brought you out by the power of his mighty hand. Again, God wants us to remember forever by an act of the will, the day He rescued us from Satan's power and our enslavement to sin and spiritual death.
13:15 That is why I now sacrifice all the firstborn males to the Lord--except that the firstborn sons are always bought back. When you "sacrifice" your children on the altar of God (dedicate them for His purposes), they are never more truly yours. You give them to God, He gives them back in a more meaningful and powerful way.
20:30-31 "Lord, Son of David, have mercy on us!"
"Be quiet!" the crowd yelled at them.
But they only shouted louder, "Lord, Son of David, have mercy on us!" This is a significant verse. The crowd told them to be quiet, because if this was the "Son of David," they had a problem. These particular people refused to believe that Jesus was the Messiah, or that He was the promised "Son" of David. Yet these blind men truly had sight!
Chapter 21-the Triumphal Entry. Something to note, Jesus came into Jerusalem 4 days before Passover. Do you see a connection with yesterday's Old Testament reading?
21:5 This also fulfills Jacob's prophecy to Judah about the colt of a donkey tied to the Vine (John 15:5 Jesus said, "I am the Vine.")
21:15 The leading priests and the teachers of religious law saw these wonderful miracles and heard even the children in the Temple shouting, "Praise God for the Son of David." Is it any wonder Jesus said we had to be like the children to enter the Kingdom of Heaven? Can you imagine the scenes? Some people are in an outrage, others are in an outpouring of great joy that their Savior has finally come!
21:18 Jesus curses the fig tree. I know you're going to ask about this. The best commentary I've heard on the fig tree is that supposedly fig trees have leaves only when they had fruit. So Jesus came to enjoy the fruit, only to be disappointed. The principle is, for people who advertise they have Christ, but upon closer inspection have no fruit, it is as the Pharisees, full of hypocrisy. Jesus doesn't like hypocrisy. We're about to see His thoughts on it.
Questions for personal reflection:
Every believer has "yeast" in their household. Just being human, we are prone to sins and hypocrisy, and it's easy to grow indifferent or desensitized to something we have around every day. Have you ever thought about taking one week and ridding your house of yeast? A house-cleaning of the heart throughout your entire family? What would that look like in your home?
In order to celebrate the day the Lord rescued you from Satan's grip, why not observe Passover this year? This year it's on April 9th! The very best way to do this is to find a Messianic Jew who will lead you through it, because you will learn so much from them about each tradition and how it symbolically represented Messiah. If that is not an option, check out this informative site.