Passover will soon be here and we want to encourage everyone to remember the central role that Messiah Yeshua's resurrection plays in our faith. "Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord, Messiah Yeshua, who according to His great mercy has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Messiah Yeshua from the dead" (1 Peter 1:3).
When we know the Messiah, when we truly make Him the LORD of our life, we know that, the same power that led to His resurrection from the dead will raise us up when we die. That is our hope. We need this hope because, the life span of a man is fleeting when viewed in the light of eternity. The death of the Lamb of God on a cross took an earthly period of time, but His resurrection will last for all eternity. This truth should cause us to realize that our hope of resurrection is the higher meaning behind the Passover Season (Acts 23:6; Philippians 3:10-11; Hebrews 11:35).
As Messianics, we need to remember Messiah Yeshua's resurrection, but, we have a problem...
In the Messianic/Hebrew Roots world, as we begin to learn about our Israelite heritage, we also learn about the heathen roots of Easter traditions. We learn about the pagan goddess, Ishtar, and about fertility symbols and bunnies and eggs - and we repent. We lay those things aside and move on in our faith.
Most of us then learn to instead celebrate a "Messianic Jewish Passover." The problem being, in this transition, due to the enmity of people who should learn to behave like brothers, we end up essentially throwing out the proverbial baby with the dirty bath water.
As it should be, the primary focus of a Passover celebration is on the death of a sacrificial lamb and our promised deliverance. However, there is more to the Passover story than death and deliverance. The following illustrates the intended point: If we were to tell the story of our Passover Lamb, Messiah Yeshua, we would not dream of leaving off the details of His resurrection. And, when we tell the story of "Passover," our story is not complete without a proper focus on the importance of "The Day of the Wave Sheaf." That is comparable to killing the Lamb, Messiah, making promises of deliverance, yet never telling anyone of His First Fruits/Wave Sheaf Resurrection (1 Corinthians 15:20).
Passover is a package deal - it includes the Day of Preparation (slaying the lamb), the first and last days of Unleavened Bread (a perfect period of sinlessness), and The Day of the Wave Sheaf - which speaks of the first of first fruits harvest and depicts Messiah Yeshua's resurrection, as well as our promised resurrection. Like the Day of Preparation, the Day of the Wave Sheaf (the First of First Fruits), also is one of Israel's mandated celebrations (Leviticus 23:10-14). And, when we ignore this important day, we neglect to give Messiah's resurrection the important place that it deserves. So we ask, why do we tend to ignore the Day of the Wave Sheaf?
We have ignored this Day because Christians essentially ceased to celebrate Israel's feasts with the rise of the anti-Semitic Roman ruler, Constantine. Moreover, the majority of Judaism rejected Yeshua as Messiah, so they remained blinded to the truth about this First of First Fruits Day. However, a few decades ago, some Jews began to accept the Messiah, and soon thereafter, Ephraim began to mature in his faith. As prophesied, he began to see the truth about his own Israelite roots. But, these brothers have not yet been fully delivered of their enmity against each other (Genesis 48:19; Isaiah 8:14; 11:13; Jeremiah 31:18-19; Romans 11:25; Hebrews 6:1-3). Vexing and jealousy is still a problem in their ranks. Even so, there is an anti-Christian spirit that runs amok in the Messianic movement - which sin is no more acceptable to the Almighty than is the sin of anti-Semitism. And, it is a sin that is keeping us from being able to properly tell of the whole powerful Passover story.
At this time, many Believers have walked away from the Messianic movement. They would rather walk away than fight to address its mistakes. One of the many reasons for their departure is that, in the hearts of millions of Christians, Easter has nothing to do with "Ishtar." For them it is about the Resurrection of the Only Begotten Son of God. Moreover, they serve a God who first looks on the thoughts and intent of our hearts (1 Chronicles 29:17; Proverbs 21:2). And, when gentle people are told that their practices are "pagan," most are afraid to, or do not bother to, speak up. They instead vote with their feet, and thus, our numbers dwindle.
Please do not mistake the point that is being made here: It is wrong for Believers to ignore sound teaching. It is sin for us to harden our hearts when YHVH is speaking to us. Our God does not wink at sin. In His time, He judges it. However, we, those who think we know better, are not supposed to maliciously judge people based on mere appearances. We are called to judge with righteous judgment - and we are told to prefer mercy over sacrifice (Matthew 9:13; Hebrews 3:8). Therefore, it is time for us, those who supposedly "know better," to look in the mirror and ask ourselves some serious questions: Has meanness in the Messianic movement driven potential converts away? Has hostility and a condemning attitude toward the Church led to us losing out on an incredible blessing?
We suggest that the answers are "Yes," and that, we do not want that to be our legacy. We instead want to be people who draw others closer to GOD and not push them away due to our own sins. Therefore, we suggest that, without compromising our own faith in any way whatsoever, we need to allow others to grow in grace based on the Father's timetable for them - and not based on what we want at the moment. We suggest that we should try to be wise fishermen who are able to keep a fish on the line until it can be brought into the boat. We suggest that we first try to find a point of agreement with those whom we would like to teach. In that way, even if we can only get the people to take one step closer to the truth, it is, nonetheless, one step closer.
One way that we can help Christians to take one step forward in Messianic faith is for us to realize that, in spite of its mix of heathen roots, Easter is a form of celebration of the Resurrection of the Son of God. So, why don't we first explain to the uninitiated its Biblical roots? Why don't we tell them that we, too, celebrate His Resurrection, but we call our celebration by its Scriptural name, "The Day of the Wave Sheaf"?
We do not do this in the Messianic movement because, to teach this truth would call for us to first repent of our sinful attitude toward the Church. And, if we are going to tell the truth, that is the most likely reason why more people have not heard of the encouraging truth about "The Day of the Wave Sheaf."
In defense of the Church, we need to acknowledge that there are three days in history that profoundly impacted mankind: they are the days of the birth, death, and resurrection of our Messiah. Moreover, it is the Church, and not Judaism, that has kept alive the New Covenant that tells of His birth, death, and resurrection. Therefore, even as we honor the Jewish people for their contributions to our well-being, so we need to honor the Church for their contributions to our well-being. Granted that the Church offers a "mixed bag" of traditions - some holy, and some unholy. But the same can be said of Judaism. And, the same thing could probably be legitimately said of each one of us. Therefore, as we seek to help bring restoration to our hurting house, let us receive of the good that each house has to offer, and leave behind the things that are not pleasing in the sight of our GOD.
In summary, we want to be people who correct without over-correcting. We do not want to walk in sinat chinam, or "hatred without a cause," but to instead be delivered from it. And, since Passover is about a death that leads to deliverance, this Passover, let us ask the Father to help us put to death, any and all wrong attitudes that we might have toward His people and/or His feasts. Let us ask Him to deliver us, to lead us by His Holy Spirit, and to help us learn to truly celebrate the reason for the season: The Resurrection of our Messiah!
This month we are featuring the classic book, Israel's Feasts and their Fullness, plus, the smaller handout book, Passover in all its Fullness.