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Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Early Christian and Jewish festivals, what happened in that 1st century?

Early Christian and Jewish festivals, what happened in that 1st century?

“Today is a day of 'doing' & 'celebration'. When you do it responsibly, life becomes soulful celebration.”
~ Vishwas Chavan

Jesus was a Jew, yet he gave birth to the movement of people who follow his teachings called Christianity.

The early Christians therefore observed Jewish festivals and so if we need to understand their focus and context, we need to know what these festivals were.

Most of the early festivals and feasts were mentioned in Leviticus 23.

Here is what it says and where it is mentioned in the new writings of the Christians as well.

Let’s start with Leviticus 23…

1-2 The Lord said to Moses, “Announce to the people of Israel that they are to celebrate several annual festivals of the Lord—times when all Israel will assemble and worship me. (These are in addition to your Sabbaths[a]—the seventh day of every week—which are always days of rest in every home, times for assembling to worship, and for resting from the normal business of the week.) These are the holy festivals which are to be observed each year:

“The Passover of the Lord: This is to be celebrated on the first day of April,[b] beginning at sundown.

This is the older writings of Moses, the newer writings of Paul the apostle says the following of the Passover and feast of unleavened bread which are the basis of the Christian communion remembrance when bread and wine are consumed. These are both linked to the Passover remembrance. The Passover is mentioned in Matthew 26:2.

 “As you know, the Passover celebration begins in two days, and I shall be betrayed and crucified.”

See in 1 Corinthians 5 it says

Christ, God’s Lamb, has been slain for us. So let us feast upon him and grow strong in the Christian life, leaving entirely behind us the cancerous old life with all its hatreds and wickedness. Let us feast instead upon the pure bread of honor and sincerity and truth.

Ezekiel 45:21 in the Old Testament says of the Passover

 “On the fourteenth day of the same month, you shall celebrate the Passover. It will be a seven-day feast. Only bread without yeast shall be eaten during those days.

So what about this feast of unleavened bread. Leviticus 23 says

 “The Festival of Unleavened Bread: This is to be celebrated beginning the day following the Passover, and for seven days you must not eat any bread made with yeast. On the first day of this festival, you shall gather the people for worship, and all ordinary work shall cease.[c] You shall do the same on the seventh day of the festival. On each of the intervening days you shall make an offering by fire to the Lord.

What is unleavened bread?

Exodus 29:2 says bread made without yeast, and thin sheets of sweetened bread mingled with oil, and unleavened wafers with oil poured over them. (The various kinds of bread shall be made with finely ground wheat flour.)

In the newer writings Luke 22 says

Now the day of the Passover celebration arrived, when the Passover lamb was killed and eaten with the unleavened bread.

The older writings in Leviticus 23 say the following about the next festivals

9-11 “The Festival of First Fruits: When you arrive in the land I will give you and you reap your first harvest, bring the first sheaf of the harvest to the priest on the day after the Sabbath. He shall wave it before the Lord in a gesture of offering, and it will be accepted by the Lord as your gift. 12 That same day you shall sacrifice to the Lord a male yearling lamb without defect as a burnt offering. 13 A grain offering shall accompany it, consisting of a fifth of a bushel of finely ground flour mixed with olive oil, to be offered by fire to the Lord; this will be very pleasant to him. Also offer a drink offering consisting of three pints of wine. 14 Until this is done you must not eat any of the harvest for yourselves—neither fresh kernels nor bread nor parched grain. This is a permanent law throughout your nation.

15-16 “The Harvest Festival (Festival of Pentecost): Fifty days later you shall bring to the Lord an offering of a sample of the new grain of your later crops. 17 This shall consist of two loaves of bread from your homes to be waved before the Lord in a gesture of offering. Bake this bread from a fifth of a bushel of fine flour containing yeast. It is an offering to the Lord of the first sampling of your later crops.[d] 18 Along with the bread and the wine, you shall sacrifice as burnt offerings to the Lord seven yearling lambs without defects, one young bull, and two rams. All are fire offerings, very acceptable to Jehovah.[e] 19 And you shall offer one male goat for a sin offering and two male yearling lambs for a peace offering.

20 “The priests shall wave these offerings before the Lord along with the loaves representing the first sampling of your later crops. They are holy to the Lord and will be given to the priests as food. 21 That day shall be announced as a time of sacred convocation of all the people; don’t do any work that day. This is a law to be honored from generation to generation. 22 (When you reap your harvests, you must not thoroughly reap all the corners of the fields, nor pick up the fallen grain; leave it for the poor and for foreigners living among you who have no land of their own; I am Jehovah your God!)

Now the second of these, the harvest festival was especially important to early Christians because Pentecost was when Holy Spirit came into their lives in a new and important way.

There are numerous references to Pentecost and the full history is found in Acts. I will quote two items, one from Acts 2

Seven weeks had gone by since Jesus’ death and resurrection, and the Day of Pentecost had now arrived.] As the believers met together that day, suddenly there was a sound like the roaring of a mighty windstorm in the skies above them and it filled the house where they were meeting. Then, what looked like flames or tongues of fire appeared and settled on their heads. And everyone present was filled with the Holy Spirit and began speaking in languages they didn’t know, for the Holy Spirit gave them this ability.

 Another 1 Corinthians 16  has Paul saying

This time I don’t want to make just a passing visit and then go right on; I want to come and stay awhile, if the Lord will let me. I will be staying here at Ephesus until the holiday of Pentecost, for there is a wide open door for me to preach and teach here

Now let’s look at the next feasts in Leviticus

23-24 “The Festival of Trumpets: Mid-September is a time for all the people to meet together for worship; it is a time of remembrance, and is to be announced by loud blowing of trumpets. 25 Don’t do any hard work on that day, but offer a sacrifice by fire to the Lord.

26-27 “The Day of Atonement follows nine days later: All the people are to come together before the Lord, saddened by their sin; and they shall offer sacrifices by fire to the Lord. 28 Don’t do any work that day, for it is a special day for making atonement before the Lord your God. 29 Anyone who does not spend the day in repentance and sorrow for sin shall be excommunicated from his people. 30-31 And I will put to death anyone who does any kind of work that day. This is a law of Israel from generation to generation. 32 For this is a Sabbath of rest, and in it you shall go without food and be filled with sorrow; this time for atonement begins in the evening and continues through the next day.

Here the New Testament says something about the festival of trumpets directly and the Day of Atonement is important. It is a time of fasting by the early church.

They did this numerous times and fasting is referred to

Example in Acts 13 is One day as these men were worshiping and fasting the Holy Spirit said, “Dedicate Barnabas and Paul for a special job I have for them.”

Trumpets are mentioned in Revelations 8 to 11 and so we know this festival was important. One example of this mention is

Then the seven angels with the seven trumpets prepared to blow their mighty blasts.

The first angel blew his trumpet, and hail and fire mixed with blood were thrown down upon the earth.

  The next feast mentioned in Leviticus 23 is of tabernacles or shelters

33-34 “The Festival of Shelters: Five days later, on the last day of September, is the Festival of Shelters* to be celebrated before the Lord for seven days. 35 On the first day there will be a sacred assembly of all the people; don’t do any hard work that day. 36 On each of the seven days of the festival you are to sacrifice an offering by fire to the Lord. The eighth day requires another sacred convocation of all the people, at which time there will again be an offering by fire to the Lord. It is the closing assembly, and no regular work is permitted.37 “(These, then, are the regular annual festivals—sacred convocations of all people—when offerings to the Lord are to be made by fire. 38 These annual festivals are in addition to your regular Sabbaths—the weekly days of holy rest. The sacrifices made during the festivals are to be in addition to your regular giving and normal fulfillment of your vows.)39 “This last day of September, at the end of your harvesting, is the time to begin to celebrate this seven-day festival before the Lord. Remember that the first and last days of the festival are special days of rest. 40 On the first day, take boughs of fruit trees laden with fruit, and palm fronds, and the boughs of leafy trees—such as willows that grow by the brooks—and build shelters with them, rejoicing before the Lord your God for seven days. 41 This seven-day annual feast is a law from generation to generation. 42 During those seven days, all of you who are native Israelites are to live in these shelters. 43 The purpose of this is to remind the people of Israel, generation after generation, that I rescued you from Egypt, and caused you to live in shelters. I am Jehovah your God.”This is what Paul is referring to when he says in Acts 18They asked him to stay for a few days, but he felt that he had no time to lose.21 “I must by all means be at Jerusalem for the holiday,” he said. But he promised to return to Ephesus later if God permitted; and so he set sail again.Festivals were a time of remembrance and a way to transfer these memories to younger generations. They were important and perhaps they still are. Maybe we as Christians would do well to review these festivals this year as we move towards Easter.God is after all the same yesterday, today and tomorrow so if they had significance to God then, perhaps they still have.

That’s a thought for today!
Tue, March 10, 2015 | link          Comments

Monday, March 9, 2015

Requesting or demanding of God?
Requesting or demanding of God?

A demand is a request without respect or option.

The online dictionaries say that a demand is an insistent and peremptory request, made as if by right. It is to ask authoritatively or brusquely 

How often do we ask for something trying to influence the answer?

We so easily move from the request to a demand, and sometimes ever so subtly. We sometimes don’t even know we have done it, do we?

The interesting thing is people who speak to God and make the mistake of turning a request into a demand. We need to know that God is not someone we should be bargaining with. God is supreme and will hear our requests, but is not to be manipulated by us.

A typical example of mistakes people make occurs is in an advert by Christians I saw on the internet today.

 Here is what it says

“Fellowship Church in Grapevine, Texas, led by Pastor Ed Young, has launched a 90-Day Challenge, encouraging members of the multi-campus megachurch to put God to the test by "Bringing (their) tithes and offerings to the House."

"Each of us has a unique opportunity to be a part of the incredible life change happening around us at Fellowship Church by bringing our tithes and offerings to the House," reads a description of the 90-Day Challenge. "If you are not tithing already, the 90-Day Challenge is the best place to start. We commit to you that if you tithe for 90 days and God doesn't hold true to his promise of blessings, we will refund 100 percent of your tithe."

What is wrong with this (other than pastor Ed is collecting the interest on 90 days of money belonging to others)?

Well it is basically saying that we can manipulate God or use him like a trained monkey or machine. We push this button and then that happens!

Nonsense!
Where is the respect for God in this?

It seems to me to be an attempt to manipulate people and God!

We should not be doing this!

God is not our benevolent controllable benefactor.

No! God created and sustains this universe and is not to be mocked or manipulated.

Often we do this same activity by bargaining with our Lord. Instead of placing the request with an open heart (which is okay) and the simply without expectation allowing God to fulfill or not fulfill as is his choice, we say God if you … then we will …

Our loving god is just that! Sometimes he lowers himself to fulfilling the demands as a means of communicating with us.  What we need to realize is that we have no right to demand!

God will do as he wills! That is who God is. He does not needs our help or advice or anything we have to offer. He may appreciate our attitude of heart, but the correct attitude of heart comes with a request and not a demand.

“But remember the persistent widow” I have been told when explaining this. The widow complained until she got what she wanted. We should do the same, the bible says so!

Does it?

How does that story start, let’s see… One day Jesus told his disciples a story to illustrate their need for constant prayer and to show them that they must keep praying until the answer comes.

“There was a city judge,” he said, “a very godless man who had great contempt for everyone. A widow of that city came to him frequently to appeal for justice against a man who had harmed her. 4-5 The judge ignored her for a while, but eventually she got on his nerves.“‘I fear neither God nor man,’ he said to himself, ‘but this woman bothers me. I’m going to see that she gets justice, for she is wearing me out with her constant coming!’”
Then the Lord said, “If even an evil judge can be worn down like that, don’t you think that God will surely give justice to his people who plead with him day and night? Yes! He will answer them quickly! But the question is: When I, the Messiah, return, how many will I find who have faith and are praying*?”

Notice how the story starts…

One day Jesus told his disciples a story to illustrate their need for constant prayer and to show them that they must keep praying until the answer comes.

Jesus was not saying pray until you get what you want, but pray until you get an answer!

We need to ask of God continually until we get answers, but should not try to influence what the answer will be.

Requesting instead of demanding is a sign of growing faith.

Will you request or demand today?
Mon, March 9, 2015 | link          Comments


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 RiftInEvil.gifThe town of Zinaville is dropped into a spiral of evil causing a young man and a beautiful but abused woman to launch into an investigation that unveils an evil conspiracy.

A horrific mining accident results in Joshua Robyn's father being killed. Joshua struggles both with himself and his townsfolk as he tries to make sense of an incomprehensible situation. Is it an accident or a murder? Why is there a seeming link to evil? Why is his work environment suddenly threatening? What is the conspiracy about and what are they trying to do? As action moves dramatically from exotic African grasslands to the heart of North America's cities, the plot unfolds and the pace quickens. Will there be time? Why is a beautiful abused young woman in the center of this plot?

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