“Resolution One: I will live for God. Resolution Two: If no one else does, I still will.” - Jonathan Edwards -

Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Am I Really Wrong?

Before I begin this post, let me state very clearly that I admire Dr. Albert Mohler very much. He has been a voice of reason in a community that often lacks a clear, and succinct voice. I heard him speak several years ago at a Basics conference, and thought he was fantastic.

I say all this so that you will understand that I am not going off half-cocked regarding his latest post.

Let me state up front that I DO NOT think the 'Lohasians' spiritual goulash is correct, I think that this type of syncretism is exactly what is killing the church in the USA.

However, Dr. Mohler seems to equate one who is ecology-minded, or purchases organic produce, with one of these pagans. This is not the first time I have heard him lump a more sustainable lifestyle in with pagan practices. It is as if one who wants to be a proper steward of the earth has suddenly become a pantheist.

Now, Dr. Mohler MAY NOT mean to lump these two perspectives together, but since I have heard it twice from him, I would just like to say -- I eat organic produce, I drive a more fuel-efficient car (and a motorcycle), I also buy recycled paper products, AND I am a pastor. Not the pastor of some fringe-element, pantheistic, dog-worshipping church, but a pastor who believes in the Doctrines of Grace!

Why is it that so many believe that once one becomes a Christian, this means that we should IGNORE our responsibility to be good stewards? I have never figured out how that thinking got started, unless it is in knee-jerk reaction to the more fringe elements, such as the 'lohasians'.

Contrast this with the discussion going on over at Dan's Place. While I may question the implementation of Dan's ideas (primarily because I truly want to understand how we would implement the ideas that he so eloquently expresses), at least he is thinking about how we become more proper stewards of the earth and it's provision.

Now, I have no allusions of grandeur; as if something I write in this little corner of the blogsphere, would actually catch the attention, much less the interest, of Dr. Mohler. He has much bigger fish to fry, and is doing an admirable job at that, but I did want to voice my concern, and see if I am missing something here...

So, Dr. Mohler, I salute the job you are doing, but please stop lumping all people who want to eat and live more naturally into the same pagan bucket!

Friday, May 26, 2006

Shavuot

Apologies for the length of time between posts, I had no idea how long it would take me to catch up...

Anyway, we have now entered into a period, (we are currently in this period as I type), called 'Counting the Omer'. This is the period of time between Yom HaBikkurim and Shavuot -- aka Pentecost. During this period the Jewish community would be numbering the days between the firstfruits of the barley harvest and the firstfruits of the wheat harvest.

Israel, being an agrarian community, would have been focused on the harvest periods, as this was a life and death situation. Famine was not defeated by a quick trip to Wal*Mart, but instead spelled national tragedy; therefore the harvest Feasts were significant as they were tangible events which illustrated God's provision for His people. In our day and age, we have little knowledge, or understanding of the import of these Feasts to the life of the nation of Israel.

Fifty days earlier, on Yom HaBikkurim, God had not only shown provision for His people in a physical way, but our Messiah was raised on that day -- illustrating the SPIRITUAL provision which God had made for His people. Yeshua, the bread of life, was raised on that day, the absolute and complete provision for all who hunger and thirst!

Now, fifty days later -- when all of Israel would have been gathered for the latter harvest celebration, we see something amazing happening. However, there is another aspect, besides the latter harvest, which was/is celebrated during this time, and it plays a large part in the significance of Shavuot: It was at Shavuot that God gave the Israelites the tablets of stone on Mount Sinai; writing His law on stone tablets and hearts, and separating His people from those around them by the giving of the Law.

In Ezekiel 11 we find this passage -- "And I will give them one heart, and a new spirit I will put within them. I will remove the heart of stone from their flesh and give them a heart of flesh, that they may walk in my statutes and keep my rules and obey them. And they shall be my people, and I will be their God..."

And this is also alluded to in 2nd Corinthians 3 "And you show that you are a letter from Christ delivered by us, written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts...

We see in these passages the very real fact that the Law, given at Shavuot, was written on hearts and tablets of stone, but God, in His grace, now writes His law on hearts of flesh. This became a reality when the Holy Spirit came to indwell His people ON THE SAME DAY that, thousands of years before, His law had been codified on stony hearts!

What an amazing God -- His promises throughout the Old Testament, found in Joel, quoted in Acts 2, in Ezekiel and other places, come true on this very special day! Coincidence? I think not! :-)

And finally, we will celebrate the culmination of Shavuot when our Lord and Savior returns -- 1st Corinthians 15:20-23 -- "But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. For as by a man came death, by a man has come also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive. But each in his own order: Christ the firstfruits, then at his coming those who belong to Christ..."

Oh what a day that final Shavuot will be, as the latter harvest is raised to incorruptible bodies, to rest forever in the Messiah!

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Hag Hamatzot and Yom HaBikkurim

I am finally able to return to my posting -- I thank the many, many friends that have been praying for my healing. My eye is getting better everyday, and I thank you.

Now, on to the Feasts -- We left off at Pesach, or Passover, as it is better known. I provided a few insights into the Seder, and there are many others, but I am just providing a glimpse into the Feasts, truth be told, each one has many sermons/teachings in it. My goal is to familiarize you with the feasts.

Anyway, as most Christians know, Messiah was crucified during the Passover season, but what they may fail to realize is that it is a Passover SEASON - with several feasts thrown into the timeframe.

The first Feast that eventually became mixed into the Passover celebration is Hag HaMatzot, or the Feast of Unleavened Bread -- Passover was on 14 Nisan, Hag HaMatzot started on 15 Nisan running seven days , and Yom HaBikkurim, or Early First Fruits was on 16 Nisan. To miss these is to miss the beauty of God's plan for redemption in all of it's subtlety.

The Feast of Unleavened Bread is found in Exodus 12:17, and Deuteronomy 16:3. This Feast is identified with the period of Messiah in the tomb. Unleavened Bread represents sinlessness, which was displayed by Messiah, and also, unleavened bread does not spoil (unlike bread made with leaven, which, in that day, soured quickly), illustrating another portion of Scripture -- Psalm 16:10 -- "For you will not abandon my soul to Sheol, or let your holy one see corruption". The Messiah, the sinless one of the Father, unleavened and pure, did not sour/decay in the tomb, precisely because He WAS unleavened (without sin)!!

The next day, (Resurrection Day), would have been Yom HaBikkurim, the Feast of Firstfruits (Barley). This feast was quite a site -- they had special barley fields set aside, which were watched closely to insure that no artificial growing mediums, i.e. fertilizer, or anything else was added to the barley. It was to be completely grown depending on God's provision. This barley would have been marked off, with red line, or something else that would have set it apart.

The night before the Feast, the priests would go out to the field with a gathering of people and would ask a set of questions, all of which would be answered by the group, and at that point they would cut the barley, and bring it into the Temple. They had a very elaborate sifting ritual that ensured that the barley was exceptionally clean, and pure before being mixed with oil and offered up to the Lord. This FirstFruit was God's possession alone.

Our Messiah's resurrection is alluded to in 1st Corinthians 15 by using the language of Yom HaBikkurim -- 1st Corinthians 15:20 - 23 -- "But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. For as by a man came death, by a man has come also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive. But each in his own order: Christ the firstfruits, then at his coming those who belong to Christ."

Just as the priests would set aside a special section of field and observe it to ensure that it was pure and undefiled by man's works, so we can see that the Father set aside His Son, marking Him off as a special sacrifice to the Father, being undefiled and pure. This blessed sheaf, the Messiah, was cut down and sifted, before being lifted up and offered as a sacrifice to the Father.

The FirstFruits of Messiah were realized as He walked out of the tomb -- the Firstfruits of those who would never die, but live forever in the presence of the Father!