Month 1:16 (Aviv), Week 3:1 (Rishon/Pesach), Year 5935:016 AM|
CHAG HA-MATZAH (Unleavened Bread) ANNUAL MOED 2:2
YOM HA-BIKKURIM (Firstfruits) ANNUAL MOED 3
Gregorian Calendar: Tuesday 19 [Red] April 2011
Firstfruits of the Resurrection
Continued from Part 1
The Feast of Firstfruits or Yom haBikkurim occurs on the second day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread or Chag haMatzah, the day after Sabbath in the Creation Calendar. As you can see from the illustration, Chag haMatazah seven day festival that starts on a regular sabbbath, ends of an extra sabbath, and is punctuated on the second day by an extra festival - Yom haBikkurim - whose day it shares. Thus today is two festivals combined - the second day of Chag haMatzah and the one day-long festival of Yom haBikkurim:
At Pesach or Passover a person makes a decision for Messiah - chooses to believe in Him - and accepted the extended hand and goes and sits on Father's lap, as we discussed two days ago. This corresponds to spiritual conception. The zygote or fertilised eggs begins to grow in the safety of mother's womb. Then, as we discussed yesterday, growth takes place in that spiritual womb on the first day of Chag haMatzah, Mother Ruach (Spirit) supplying all our needs while we sit in the warm watery chamber beneath her heart and grow. We do nothing for all at this stage is grace. And then, at a moment over which we have no control whatsoever either, a dramatic event happens - we are born into the bright light of the world, we leave our watery environment behind, and we take our first breath as our lungs are inflated. This event corresponds to the event we are celebrating today, namely, Yom haBikkurim, for on this day the children of Israel crossed Yam Suf or the Sea of Reeds (often called the Red Sea) and out of Egypt proper, after Moses parted the waters, being baptised into Moses and the cloud (1 Cor.10:2). Do you see the likeness? We too when we are born into the world by our mothers have the waters parted (known as 'breaking the waters') and we cross over from her world into the big world beyond. Today is our Birth-Day physically-speaking but it is also our Birth-Day spiritually if we have genuinely been born-again.
All that we are celebrating today may be summed up in this passage from the Gospel of John. To be born again is to experience a complete change of spiritual environment by moving into a hitherto unknown reality. Indeed, you might say that one who has not been born again of the Ruach haQodesh (Holy Spirit) is living in unreality. And also important to underline is the fact that the Kingdom of Elohim (God) is completely invisible and incomprehensible to the one not born again, an emet or truth that only those who have been spiritually regenerated can bear testimony of. Until that has happened, Yahweh, His Kingdom and His lifestyle will be viewed with sceptical and hostile eyes, and they will be treated as though they were the unreality or illusion. One who is regenetrated cannot explain Elohim (God) or the Kingdom of Elohim (God) to one who is not anymore than one can describe how a pudding tastes until it has been tasted. And those who try to analyse God, theology, the Bible and Christianity who have not themselves been regenerated indulge in what I call Pudding Theology - it is pursely intellectual, having no spiritual substance whatsoever. I know many 'Christians' and 'Messianics' who are unregenerated and they remain that way so that their sins may be concealed.
"There was a man of the Pharisees named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews. This man came to Yah'shua (Jesus) by night and said to Him, 'Rabbi, we know that You are a teacher come from Elohim (God); for no one can do these signs that You do unless Elohim (God) is with him.' Yah'shua (Jesus) answered and said to him, 'Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of Elohim (God).' Nicodemus said to Him, 'How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter a second time into his mother's womb and be born?' Yah'shua (Jesus) answered, 'Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Ruach (Spirit), he cannot enter the kingdom of Elohim (God). That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Ruach (Spirit) is ruach (spirit). Do not marvel that I said to you, 'You must be born again.' The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear the sound of it, but cannot tell where it comes from and where it goes. So is everyone who is born of the Ruach (Spirit).' Nicodemus answered and said to Him, 'How can these things be?' Yah'shua (Jesus) answered and said to him, 'Are you the teacher of Israel, and do not know these things? Most assuredly, I say to you, We speak what We know and testify what We have seen, and you do not receive Our witness. If I have told you earthly things and you do not believe, how will you believe if I tell you heavenly things? No one has ascended to heaven but He who came down from heaven, that is, the Son of Man who is in heaven. And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life. For Elohim (God) so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. For Elohim (God) did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved. He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of Elohim (God). And this is the condemnation, that the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. For everyone practicing evil hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed. But he who does the truth comes to the light, that his deeds may be clearly seen, that they have been done in Elohim (God)" (John 3:1-21, NKJV).
Today is the Festival of Firstfruits and those who have been conceived in Messiah - made a choice for Him - and remained in that conception as a Pesach-child, grown until they are born-again. The evidence of that rebirth, which may be sudden or gradual (there is no fixed way it happens by which we should measure it, and we should be careful in judging it - see Filled with the Spirit), is evidenced, as Paul testified, by the fact that authentic believers "have the firstfruits of the Ruach (Spirit)" (Rom.8:23, NKJV). And each regenerated believer anticipates with longing the rebirth or regeneration of the whole of Creation which, along with the unsaved, remains in bondage:
Since the fall of mankind (caused by Adam and Eve's disobedience) and the whole Cosmos (caused by the rebellion of Satan and his angels) the universe has awaited its deliverance. We see the chaos both in outer space and on earth with all the disasters happening. We watched as the comet Levi-Schumacher broke apart and crashed into Jupiter a few years ago and now man watches the heavens with fear waiting for something similar to happen to earth. All the talk now is of Comet Elenin, also known as Nibiru and Planet X which is due to have a close encounter with us by the end of this year, if the calculations of those watching it are correct. And that same fear we have of the unpredictability of the cosmos, along with the fear of the unpredictability of the elements of planet earth (whether man-made or otherwise) that have led to such recent disasters as Fukushima likewise keeps people in fear. But the greatest fear of all, I suggest, is the fear of the unregenerated soul who can make no final sense of anything, for he dwells in darkness, not discerning either the Kingdom of Elohim (God) or the purposes of Yahweh for him. And if he can for a moment come out of his self-denial, he will face the same kind of terror that the Egyptians did when they witnessed first hand Yahweh's power during the ten plagues.
"For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of Him who subjected it in hope; because the creation itself also will be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of Elohim (God). For we know that the whole creation groans and labours with birth pangs together until now" (Rom.8:20-22, NKJV).
Yom haBikkurim is a reminder of what is required if we are to overcome that fear of the unknown and enter into the real world of the Creator. We have looked at the symbolic meanings of Yom haBikkurim in outline but there is one other which we have not yet discussed, and it is an event that made our access to this Kingdom, and the eternal life is promises, possible. I speak of the resurrection of Yah'shua the Messiah (Jesus Christ) which is usually observed by lawless Christians on a pagan date, Easter that is concerned with counterfeiting the genuine event.
Before the physical resurrection of the Messiah 2,000 years ago, Israel observed Yom haBikkurim in anticipation of some future event which they did not always clearly understand. They knew, because of the Levitical observances Yahweh required of them, that they needed a blood-covering to take care of their sins, even though by this covenant the covering was only temporary and only so long as they were alive on the earth. The animal sacrifices had no efficacy beyond the grave and into the next life and had to be repeated year after year so long as they breathed air.
The festival of Chag haMatzah has, as its central element, bread or lechem. Bread is rightly regarded as the 'staff of life'. The model Lord's Prayer petitions heaven for our "daily lechem (bread)" (Mt.6:11; Lk.11:3), Satan made lechem (bread) one of his main temptations (Mt.4:3), Yah'shua (Jesus) told His talmidim (disciples) that He had a resource called 'spiritual lechem (bread)' about which they knew nothing at the time, He described Himself as the "bread of life" that was infinitely superior to the manna the Israelites ate in the wilderness (Jn.6:35,41,84), and indeed was born in a place called Beit Lechem, meaning 'House of Bread', which in English we call 'Bethlehem'. Chag haMatazah and Yom haBikkurim occur at the same time purposefully, you see. Yahweh knows what He is doing since He combined a Bread Festival and a Firstfruit Festival - the Barley Festival, or Poor Man's Festival, for barley was what was used to make poor man's bread. Yah'shua (Jesus) said:
A child who runs up to Abba and sits on his lap is "poor in spirit" because he has nothing to give, nothing to boast about, and that is the way we enter the Kingdom. We cannot see that Kingdom - know it exists so that we can yearn for it - until we have come with this poor spirit to the "Bread of Life". There are no works to bargain with, no cleverness to show off. Coming to the Kingdom is predicated upon an unpresuming, innocent and humble lev (heart). We bring with us no resurrection credit-points because we have none. Resurrection life is a free gift to those who come in this manner, but those who come with any sort of pride can by no means enter in.
"Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven" (Matt.5:3, NKJV).
You can't be born-again by your own will any more than you can be born physically by your own will, grow in the womb by your own will, or be conceived by your own will. We have no power or control over any of these things - purposefully - to remind us that we cannot barter with Yahweh when it comes to salvation:
There are, however, choices to be made, to complete the spiritual processes that are illustrated by the spring festivals. We have to choose to leave Egypt and go home to Yahweh. That he cannot do for us. And we have to do one other thing - we have to keep choosing to remain there. There is not, therefore, the slightest hint in the Scriptures of any 'once saved, always saved' doctrine. If we're not planted right, the seed of that original emunch, trusting or faith can end up shrivelled, choked or in the belly of a dark power represented by stoney ground, weeds and birds, respectively, in Yah'shua's (Jesus') parable of the sower (Mt.13:18ff.). Unborn babies can be aborted too if mother is not very careful. All life has hazzards and life must therefore be closely guarded. That goes for our conception, growth, rebirth and continuing journey to the Promised Land. There are hazzards all along the way!
"For by grace you have been saved through emunah (trusting, faith), and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of Elohim (God), not of works, lest anyone should boast" (Eph.2:7-9, NKJV).
The spiritual truths that the spring festivals convey require little of us other than we prepare ourselves to journey (Pesach), actually journey (Chag haMatzah), keep on journeying, and let Yahweh enable us to do the 'impossible' for men (Lk.1:37; Mt.17:20) such as parting seas for us (removing obstacles) - that is, we must make the decision to go to Yahweh no matter what. Then, provided we do these things, we will be provided for in every way - our spiritual clothes and sandals will never wear out, food and water will be provided in the wilderness - we will be living a life of continuous miracles if we have that child-like truth.
NOTE: None of this involves living any kind of detailed Torah! That comes later...at Shavu'ot. So don't go muddling the minds and hearts of children in the faith with barrel loads of commandments - when they have grown bigger in the spirit they will eagerly want to obey these all on their own IF they have a proper foundation of emunah (faith) and have personally come to know the ahavah (love) of their Heavenly Father who demonstrated that love by sending His Son Yah'shua (Jesus) into the workd to die for us, atone for our sins, and resurrect, offering us all the benfits of eternal life now - inside - and in the future - outside with regenerated physical bodies. Just as Adam and Eve were only given one commandment - don't eat of the tree in the middle of the garden - so new believers are likewise only given one commandment:
You don't give small children heavy loads, do you, unless you are dealing in child-labour? Neither does Yahweh. More than anything He wants new believers to grow in the safety of His arms and know what real ahavah (love) is, because that is our real security - that is what the world most needs to know. That is why the first new Gentile converts were only given a few Torah rules to start of with, so they could leave their Egypts without having to carry the whole Torah on their small spiritual shoulders. All new Christians who are starting their walk in Christ should only be required to observe the ruling of the Council of Jerusalem (Acts 15:20) because that's what the Ruach (Spirit) said was the most important:
We must not choke new believers with Torah until they have grown and their spiritual muscles are strong - until they have reached Bar Mitzvah age spiritually. It is during these spring festivals that we are, more or less, pure Evangelical Christians (minus all the pagan baggage), dealing with the essentials and buidling a strong foundation on those. We do not become 'Messianic' until Shavu'ot!
"Come to Me, all you who labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in lev (heart), and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light" (Matt.11:28-30, NKJV).
Do you feel the youthfulness and innocence of being in the father's lev (heart)? Is this something you have 'missed out' in your spiritual journey? Many believers have, for numerous reasons, some being 'born' into their religion while others have been taught the 'heavy' stuff without any sort of personal encounter with Yah'shua (Jesus) first. They have never known an inner regenration. The first three spring festivals are given to remind us of the supreme importance of these first step. Yom haBikkurim in particular is to remind us of the absolute necessity of the New Birth. Without it everything else is dead religion and legalism.
I can trace my own personal Yom haBikkurim to 30 March 1977. That was the day I was born again. Without that, nothing else I have ever done would have made a blind bit of difference, however religious I might have become. This was the day I met Yah'shua (Jesus) face-to-face and I began a new life. It is my spiritual birthday.
If you have never met the resurrected Messiah I invite you to do so today. Make a decision to follow him. Just go to Him in your lev (heart) like a little child. Ask Him to reveal Himself to you. Then walk with Him all your days, going on to perfection. Don't delay: now is the day of salvation! (2 Cor.6:2) Shalom!