Month Aviv 1:13, Week 2:5 (Chamashee/Teruah), Year:Day 5937:013 AM|
Gregorian Calendar: Monday 23 April 2013
A Prophetic Word Before Passover
"Now it was the Preparation Day of Pesach (the Passover)..." (John 19:14, NKJV).
As we start gathering our thoughts together in preparation for the Passover Season which begins tomorrow amidst the bustle of all the practical preparations for the Passover Meal, we need to be reminded that the Passover Meal is both a summary of all the annual festivals that are to follow over the coming yearly cycle as well as representing the believer's first choices to put his emunah (trust, faith) in the living, resurrected Messiah. All the Moedim of Yahweh revolve around Yah'shua (Jesus), the Eternal Son of Elohim (God) who ransomed our sins on the Cross of Calvary. Indeed, that is why we are commanded in Scripture to observe, memorialise and celebrate these seven annual feasts in perpetuity.
Passover is a Festival of Hope
If I were to summarise in one word what Pesach (Passover) means to the soul that embraces it, it would be Tiqvah or Hope because everything before - a life, and the prospect of eternity, without Messiah - was indeed meaningless and hopeless.
Queen Victoria and Eternal Security
The story is told of Queen Victoria of England, who reigned over the British Empire from 1842 to 1901, was attending a church service and after the meeting asked the chaplain, "Can one be absolutely sure in this life of eternal safety?" By that she wished to know if her emunah (faith) in Messiah was sufficient to guarantee her salvation and a place in heaven. But the Anglican chaplain did not know how to answer her because he himself did not know.
An Evangelist Interposes
An evangelist called John Townsend came to learn about the Queen's question and after giving the matter much prayer wrote her a short note:
Salvation by Trusting
"With trembling hands, but heartfelt love, and because I know that we can be absolutely sure now of our eternal life in the Home that Jesus (Yah'shua) went to prepare, may I ask your Most Gracious Majesty to read the following passages of Scripture: John 3:16; Romans 10:9-10?"
The message of Pesach (Passover) and indeed of the whole Passover Season is that we are saved by trusting in Yah'shua (Jesus) and Yah'shua (Jesus) alone. I emphasise the 'ing' part of trusting because salvation or deliverance from spiritual death and hell is not just a single 'event' but a continuous process.
John Townsend's Two Scriptures
Let's look at the two passages cited by Evangelist John Townsend for Queen Victoria to see what I mean:
The Concordant Literal New Testament gets this idea of present-continuous verbs across sharply and clearly, even although the English is purposefully clumsy to make sure there is no misunderstanding:
"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 chayim (life)" (John 3:16, NKJV).
So Much Can Be Lost in Translation
"For thus Elohim (God) loves the word, so that He gives His only-begotten Son, that everyone who is believing in Him should not perish, but may be having chayim (life) eonian" (LNT).
Because so much can be lost in translation - and usually is - it is sometimes critically important that we dig deep into the meaning of the receptor tongue with all its nuances and different ways of handling tenses.
Continuous Trusting, Continuous Salvation
You will notice that Yahweh's act of continuous giving Yah'shua (Jesus) to us even now, and the believer's act of continuous trusting, ensures that the Divine Life that is given to those who trust continually, abides. Salvation, though it is marked by a point in time when the first choice is made to trust or believe, isn't suddenly 'done' or 'over' - there is no such thing as 'Once Saved, Always Saved' as we hear falsely preached from the pulpits of those many evangelical denominations (particularly Fundamentalist Baptists) who have more faith in a fallible and revised 1611 English translation of the Bible than in the original language and teachings of Yah'shua (Jesus) and the apostles.
Be Continuously Believing
The second well known passage cited by Townsend to the Queen is similar:
Again, the key verbs are what? Present-continuous!
"But what does it say? 'The Davar (Word) is near you, in your mouth and in your lev (heart)' (that is, the Davar Emunah/Word of Faith which we preach): that if you confess with your mouth the Master Yah'shua (Lord Jesus) and believe in your lev (heart) that Elohim (God) has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the lev (heart) one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. For the Scripture says, 'Whoever believes on Him will not be put to shame'" (Rom.10:8-11, NKJV).
Salvation Future Depends on Salvation Present
"Near you is the declaration, in your mouth and in your lev (heart) - that is, the declaration of emunah (trusting, faith) which we are heralding that, if you should be avowing with your mouth the declaration that Yah'shua (Jesus) is Master (Lord), and should be believing in your lev (heart) that Elohim (God) rouses Him from the dead, you shall be saved" (vv.8-9, LNT).
Notice that Paul is here talking about salvation future and that it is emphatic. In other words, if you in a state of always confessing inwardly (in the same way that we are to pray continually - Eph.6:18), and are willing to confess outwardly, having emunah (faith, trusting) continually too, then at the Last Day you shall be saved!
The Prophetic Message of the Passover Season
This, too, is the message of the Passover Season we are about to start:
If you make the decision to, first, trust in Yah'shua (Jesus), the Paschal Lamb, and to, second, trust with your 'feet' by symbolically leaving 'the land of Egypt' - the land of slavery - under the prophetic guidance of a 'prophet' - in other words, if you will make the decision to cling to Yah'shua (Jesus) like a little child and continue to do so under the direction of the Ruach haQodesh (Holy Spirit), and remove yourself from a life of sinning as represented by not eating leavened bread during Chag haMatzah or the Festival of Unleavaned Bread, then early on during that period of making teshuvah (repenting)...on the second of the seven days of the Feast that represents your whole life...you will be born again - spiritually regenerated - and experience Yom haBikkurim or the Day of Firstfruits, receiving the resurrection power...which is eonian (for this life...and beyond) chayim (life)...on this Day that Yah'shua (Jesus), the Firstfruits of the Resurrection, rose from the dead guaranteeing your final salvation if you will continue trusting and repenting whenever you sin.
The Exodus as a Map for Salvation and Deliverance
That was quite a mouthful I know but it contains condensed essential saving doctrine. It is the lev (heart) and substance of the Passover Season. It's what it's all about - it's why we celebrate it still in the B'rit Chadashah (New Covenant). The physical Exodus, important historically though it was, and inspiring as it continues to be, has a yet greater importance in representing pictorially the entire Plan of Salvation. It's the map or chart, if you like, of what you and I must do now, and continuously, until it is time to be taken home. Then, if we have remained true, we shall be finally saved, as Paul said, and are saved provided we do not spurn Yahweh's grace - His undeserved loving kindness or unmerited favour.
I realise this does not exactly agree with the romantic, childish Hollywood version of Christianity that has infected the Body of Messiah, but it is the plain sense of Scripture, and is everywhere else confirmed by, and in, the Davar (Word). The Festivals of Yahweh make this tavnith (pattern) abundantly clear, which is why we are to observe them and not the paganised festivals of Christendom (like Christmas, Easter, etc.) and be yearly reminded of the saving emet (truth) hidden in them, lest we depart from the simple emunah (faith).
The Queen's Reply
Two weeks after Townsend wrote his letter, the Queen sent him a letter in reply:
Victoria Was Saved
"...I have carefully and prayerfully read the portions of Scripture referred to. I believe in the finished work of Christ for me, and trust by God's grace to meet you in that Home of which He said, 'I go to prepare a place for you.' - Victoria Guelph".
There can be no question in my mind, if these words were sincere (and I have absolutely no reason to doubt them) that Queen Victoria, if she remained of this mind to her death in 1901, was authentically saved and is in Heaven today. There can be no question that she fulfilled the requirements of the spring festivals.
"But She Wasn't Torah-Obedient!"
I realise that Baptists may be upset that she was sprinkled and not baptised by immersion in the correct way, that Pentcostals may be upset that she did not speak in tongues as supposed 'evidence' of salvation, and that Messianics may be upset because she followed the tenets of the Church of England with its paganised festivals and rituals, its anti-Torah stance, and its legacy of Romanism in general.
We Shall Not Judge Them
But they would all be missing the point because though the Baptists and Messianics would be right in pointing out the errors of aspects of Queen Victoria's Anglican Confession and Practice, she nevertheless fulfilled what Yahweh required of believers' levim (hearts) in the first three festivals. She trusted in the resurrected Messiah and we must suppose repented of such sins as she was aware of. She may not have gone further into Torah-obedience as is required at the fourth festival of Shavu'ot (Pentecost) because she was ignorant of it. But we must remember that Yahweh will judge us at the final day based on the choices we would have made had we known the full emet (truth) of the Besorah (Gospel). And since only He knew, and still knows, her true lev (heart), it is not for us to judge her final status in the Shammayim (Heaven). And I will certainly not judge her, nor the millions like her ignorant of Yahweh's Torah requirements, but rather I will - and I hope you will join with me - in affirming that those who have done, and who are today doing, what Queen Victoria did, are assured of their salvation.
Persuading Evangelicals to be Torah-Obedient
Townsend was confident that in this life that we can have assurance of eternal safety (Rom.10:9), and he had a concern for others as well. We should be therefore support and build up the emunah of those Christians, no matter what denomination or creed, however anti-Torah, that they are fulfilling the spiritual requirements of the spring fstivals if they continue in this way to the end. We must under no circumstances undermine the confidence that Yahweh has given simple evangelical believers that their sin is forgiven and that after death they will be with Him forever, as many Messianics very foolishly and dangerously do, even if they may not understand that salvation is graded. BUT in this day and age, where so much more Torah awareness exists thanks to the witness of Messianics, we must try to persuade those like the late Queen that Yahweh does require obedience to all the mitzvot (commandments) as a condition of a full and final salvation...not because anyone has to earn 'more' salvation (which is impossible) but because Torah-obedience is the proper response to that continuing salvation and will sift out the obedient children of the first resurrection from those disobedient ones of the second. Those those who are presented the biblical emet (truth) in our day and age but who reject it, having had it explained to them properly, do risk Yahweh's judgment for disobedience and rebellion which, if taken far enough in the spirit of anger and murder, may cost them their original salvation too if they are not very careful.
Over-Simplification vs. Legalism
This is the message that we, as Messianic Evangelicals, are presenting to the world as well as to evangelicals and messianics - to evangelicals who have grossly oversimplified the Besorah (Gospel) and to messianics who all too often go condemning the saved who have not yet responded to all the mitzvot (commandments).
How to Witness Torah to Evangelicals the Mature Way
I myself walk in fellowship with many evangelicals who, though still resisting the plain Scripture teaching on Torah-obedience, nevertheless acknoqledge that I have been saved as they have been and that we are both trusting Messiah and growing daily in that salvation as children of Elohim (God). Just as Baptists may disagree with Pentecostals and vice versa (rightly or wrongly) over various doctrines and practices, for example, and 'agree to disagree', so we who are also Messianic Israelites - and particularly rounded Messianic Evangelicals - agree to disagree with many evangelicals for the sake of unity in the essentials. We do not rant or rave at one another using zeal for outer emet (truth) as an excuse to trample inner grace. Rather, we patiently try to witness further - firmly, pariently and in ahavah (love), by the power of attraction, not by aggression or a spirit of condemnation, remembering that milk must come before meat (Heb.5:12-14), in the hope that they will eventually see the fullness and embrace it...and walk with us into the spirit of Shavu'ot (Pentecost) and further all the way to Sukkot (Tabernacles).
When They Finally Realise the Truth They Will Love Torah
Once they realise that the difference is between glories and resurrections, and that the Bride of Messiah has to be Torah-obedient to qualify for the Marriage Feast of the Lamb at the Final Sukkot (Tabernacles), that they have to be Torah-obedient Messianic Israelites in order to enter through one of the twelve tribal gates of the New Jerusalem (Rev.21:12), and that Torah is actually good and qodesh (holy, set-apart) and is for Christians (Rom.7:12,16; 1 Tim.1:8), that it will enhance not diminish or overturn their relationship with Messiah, and is not 'legalism' as they have been falsely taught, they will embrace it eagerly! But you can no more force them into Torah-submission than you can force a bride with a shotgun to do what she does not want to do.
Messianic Shotgun Techniques are Harmful
I want all Messianics, who (rightly) believe that Torah-obedience is absolutely required to be in a proper and full relationship with Yahweh, to realise that their shotgun approach of many of them toward Christians is not only harmful but positively demonic especially when they try to make out that regenerated Christians are not saved because they don't pronounce the Divine Name properly or because they don't obey this or that mitzvah (commandment). This is a lie and a very, very dangerous lie indeed. Genuinely saved Evangelical Christians may not yet realise that they are required to observe the spring festivals but that does not mean that they are not observing its true spirit for in many, many cases they absolutely are. So please, some of you Messianics, stop judging regenerated Christians! It may cost you your salvation for your arrogance and presumptuousness!
Though non-Torah-observant Evangelicals (or anyone else for that matter) cannot usually partake of the physical Passover Meal (because it's a covenant meal for Israelites or aspirant Israelites who have decided to start obeying Torah and mean to see it through eventually to full compliance like the first Gentile converts - Acts 15:24-29) they most definitely can and should partake of its spirit. Passover is so important that Yahweh has provided for a second Passover for those unable to make the first because it sets the tone for the whole year ahead. Passover starts the yearly cycle of festivals off as well as encompasses all of the others too - because the death and resurrection Messiah overarches all the others.
Until tomorrow at dusk, then, when we shall gather for the qodesh (holy, set-apart) meal, may Yahweh bless you! Amen.
Continued in Part 1 (Passover Season)