THE COMING OF CHRIST IN THE FEASTS
No revelation, doctrine or system of teaching in the Old Testament can be fully comprehended until it has been correlated and integrated with the revelation of the New Testament. Together, the two books form the interlocking halves of one perfect whole. It may be said that the seed of all New Testament truth is found in the Old Testament text. But if that is true, it is equally accurate to say that all truth revealed in the New Testament is concealed in the Old Testament. In a word, the flower of revelation which blossomed from Moses to Malachi has come to its fruit in the records from Matthew to Revelation. Therefore there can be no contradiction between the teachings of these two sections of God's Word, as one must merely complement the other.
The theme of the Old Testament is "Someone is coming!" Every prophet of the ancient times looked forward through the ages to the Coming One. Moses began the theme when he wrote, "The Seed of the woman shall bruise the serpent's head," and Malachi closed the continued reiteration joined in by all the prophets, when he told of the Sun of Righteousness which should arise, with healing in His rays. But the New Testament has two themes, both of them centering in one Person. The first theme is "Someone has come!" This, indeed, is borne out by Philip, who sought out Nathanael with the startling greeting, "Come and see! We have found Him, of whom Moses in the law, and the prophets did write!" He did indeed come, but the shame of His rejection remains as the vilest blot upon the page of human activities. Rejected, cast out, and crucified, He ascended back into heaven, from whence He had come. Then follows the second theme of the New Testament, which may be stated as "Someone is coming again!" Thus the entire scripture centers in the Person of One who was to come, who did come, and who is coming again. He is the coming One of Old Testament promise, and is the object of our present study.
The Old Testament prophecies concerning the coming of Christ exhibit the same peculiarity as those of the New Testament, in that they foretell many distinct events, but do not usually state the order of their occurrence, or the length of the interval between them, or the manner of their fulfillment. The students of Old Testament prophecy who sought to fix the time of the coming of the expected King would have pondered such passages for example, as Zech. 9:9: "Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion; shout, O daughter of Jerusalem: behold THY KING COMETH UNTO THEE. He is just, and having salvation; lowly, and riding upon an ass, and upon a colt, the foal of an ass." And in the attempt to fix the order of His coming in relation to other predicted events they would, of course, have noted particularly Isa. 40:3: "The voice of him that crieth in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord"; and Mal. 3:3: "Behold, I will send my messenger, and he shall prepare the way before Me; and the Lord Whom ye seek shall suddenly come to His temple"; and Mal. 4:5: "Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet, before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord."
From these prophecies the expositor might have insisted, and with a show of reason, that the Lord could not "come" to His "temple" until the messenger should first appear to prepare the way "before" Him; and that they who looked for Him to appear before the predicted messenger were indulging a vain expectation. Yet the fact is that the Lord came, on the natural plane, to His Old Testament Temple, thirty years BEFORE the predicted messenger appeared to announce Him; and He was seen by Simeon (the "hearer") who was led by the Holy Spirit, by Anna, who waited upon the Lord in the temple, by the shepherds who were keeping their flocks by night, and by the wise men from the East, who saw His star, and hence must have been watching in the night; and, moreover, His coming was made known "to all them that looked for redemption in Jerusalem" (Lk. 2:38).
It seems to me that for centuries our eyes have been kept holden to many of the great truths of the scripture. We have read and studied the Bible, taking for granted that our minds comprehended fully what was written, and frequently just reading over the passages and understanding little or nothing of the precious gems of divine truth which lay hidden just beneath the surface. We should not berate ourselves for this lack of understanding, always keeping in mind that God never reveals anything to anybody until HE IS READY to reveal it, and He is never ready to reveal anything until the "fullness of time" has arrived in which He is about to accomplish that which He discloses.
For centuries Israel had looked for the coming of the Messiah until their eyes were dim with watching, but who among them had even the faintest idea of how that coming would be accomplished? They did not expect a virgin birth; they did not expect a lowly birth; they did not expect a teacher at variance with their organized religion and their established creeds; they did not expect the supernatural ministry of healing the sick, casting out devils, and raising the dead; they did not expect an ignominious death by crucifixion followed by a startling resurrection; they did not expect an ascension into heaven. All these things were contrary to their expectations and their established interpretations of the predictions of the prophets. Most Jews missed the glory of the coming of Christ because it was so different from their cherished beliefs and because it all seemed too fantastic to be true. They failed to accept the prophesied events when they transpired before their very eyes.
I do not hesitate to tell you that modern Christians are viewing the Bible completely "out of focus" in the same way as did the Jews of old! We will never discover anything that God chooses to hide from us, but our highest concern should be that when God does draw back the curtain and send us light that we receive the hidden treasure, for if we reject it, the light we have becomes darkness and we can understand nothing. When the Spirit of wisdom and revelation illuminates a truth to our heart, it is time to grasp it and pursue it with all spiritual vigor and determination, for if we tarry it will be covered again, and we will miss it. Do you remember that Jesus rejoiced in spirit and said, I thank Thee, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that Thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent and hast revealed them unto babes. Even, so, Father, for so it seemed good in Thy sight"? The moment the blessed Spirit of Truth begins to unveil a truth, it is time to earnestly seek Him and beseech Him to instruct us in it. Do not submit God's revelation to the criticism of some dead church member or indoctrinated preacher, for they like the crows that gather to the farmer's field will steal away the seed of the truth before it has a chance to sprout or take root within you.
'There can be no doubt that we are living in an hour when the Lord is revealing many things that concern the return of our Lord Jesus Christ. I am certain, however, that even now we see them only darkly. We catch only faint and fleeting glimpses of the glory of His many-splendored coming. We are looking for the REVELATION of Jesus Christ. We are looking for the UNVEILING of the sons of God. The revelation will reveal what is hidden. The unveiling will reveal what has been kept concealed. As the lightning flashes forth from the ominous darkness of swirling stormy clouds, so the manifestation will disclose what has been hidden in the darkness.
I would draw your attention to an enlightening passage of scripture in Prov. 22:19-21. "That thy trust may be in the Lord, I have made known to thee this day, even to thee. Have not I written to thee EXCELLENT THINGS in counsels and knowledge, that I might make thee know the certainty of the words of truth; that thou mightest answer the words of truth to them that send unto thee?" The word "EXCELLENT", as used here, is the Hebrew word SHALISH meaning three-fold, or weighty. It is most interesting to note that Young's Literal translation renders it, "Have I not written to thee THREE TIMES with counsels and knowledge?" A free translation would run, "Have I not written unto you THREE-FOLD things?" Three-fold things. These are the excellent things of God. These are weighty things, things which have depth upon depth upon depth in their meaning. This three-fold principle is brought forth again and again as the Spirit unfolds the truth appointed for His overcoming company in this important hour.
While men speak of the "first coming" and the "second coming" of Christ, God's program is in THREES. God has promised to meet with man in THREE DIMENSIONS. He has met man historically and experientially in the first and second realms. I declare to you that He will meet with us dispensationally and experientially yet a THIRD time! The pattern is clear: "THREE TIMES in a year shall all thy males appear before the Lord thy God in the place which He shall choose; in the feast of UNLEAVENED BREAD (Passover), and in the feast of WEEKS (Pentecost), and in the feast of TABERNACLES: and they shall not appear before the Lord empty" (Deut. 16:16). God says that He will meet with man THREE times - in the three great Feasts of the Lord! "THREE TIMES in a year shall all your males appear before the Lord." To "appear before the Lord" designates not only an action on our part, but a reciprocal action on God's part. Not only must we appear, but HE MUST APPEAR! It is a joint-meeting in which WE APPEAR B-E-F-O-R-E_H-I-M, or as the apostle has so eloquently explained, "When Christ, who is our life, SHALL APPEAR, then shall YE ALSO APPEAR WITH HIM in glory" (Col. 3:4). When this three-fold aspect of His appearing is clearly understood, then the fact that the scriptures nowhere speak of just a "first coming" and a "second coming" takes on new meaning!
The Feasts of Jehovah were but types and shadows of those things that were yet to come. These Feasts portrayed in their typology God's plan for this world even to the very end of the ages. They bring to us the unfolding plan of redemption that was ordained before the foundation of the world. An Old Testament type is literally a word picture or an object lesson that pre-figures that which is to come. In another sense, it is an exact shadow of that which does not yet exist. The apostle Paul in speaking of those things which happened to Israel in their wilderness journey stated, "Now all these things happened unto them for ENSAMPLES (EXAMPLES), and they are written for OUR ADMONITION (INSTRUCTION), upon whom the ends of the world (age) are come" (I Cor. 10:11).
It is made very plain by this scripture that Israel's history contains numbers of events that were a figure, a type, a shadow, of those events that were yet to come. The apostle Paul again explains this to us: "For the law having a SHADOW OF GOOD THINGS TO COME, and not the very image of the things, can never with those sacrifices which they offered year by year continually make the comers thereunto perfect" (Heb. 10:1). The shadows of the law were but school-masters to bring us to Christ. The greater work of a spiritual nature was still to be accomplished to fulfill these Old Testament types and shadows of which the three Feasts of the Lord are a major part. The Word of God never ceases to amaze as the intricate patterns of the plan of God weave in and out of scripture to produce a perfect plan in the consummation of it all. At first glance, as one reads the Old Testament record, the Feasts seem so insignificant and without further need of reference. They appear to be something to keep Israel busy and happy and their times of observation could fall in any order. The unsearchable riches of God found here are hidden from the eyes of a sin-blinded world and a carnal-minded church, but to those who walk in the Spirit of the Lord they speak of the wonders wrought in redeemed lives by the Spirit of the living God, and of supernal glories yet to come.
The three primary Feasts given to Israel were the Feasts of Passover, Pentecost and Tabernacles. Two of these Feasts have now been fulfilled and are still being fulfilled in the body of Christ today. The last Feast still waits a future fulfillment that will begin at the completion and maturity of the Christ-body at the end of this age. Because of their typical nature, the Feasts have many times been overlooked as to their great significance in the proper interpretation of Bible prophecy. The Bible is full of such great truths that have been given for our enrichment and instruction, but it is up to those who "follow ON to KNOW the Lord" to diligently dig out those truths under the illuminating power of the Spirit, that will lead us into greater depths and heights in the Lord. Let us consider these Feasts in the light of the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.
In order to understand the coming of the Lord in the Feasts, it will be helpful to trace the origin of the word itself. When we speak of a feast, we are prone to picture a banquet of rich foods and an evening of entertainment. But such is not the original concept of the word. Festival comes a little nearer to expressing the thought. It suggests gala attire, parades, singing, dancing - a holiday spent in celebrating some new event or in commemorating one in the past. The Hebrew word translated feast is CHAG. It refers to a SACRED feast - not an ordinary meal given for entertainment. Its original meaning is a procession, a dance, or a public dramatization of some event. The eating and drinking which accompanied it were of secondary importance. From the earliest times it was the custom of heathen peoples to observe certain festal days. Primarily these seasons were for the purpose of worshiping or appeasing their idol gods. The occasion gave them an opportunity to openly display their beliefs, by various forms of art and ceremony, and thus to instruct all who witnessed the celebration in the tenets of their religion. This custom continues to this very day among primitive peoples. Our own American Indians, though now educated according to our way of life, still preserve their cultural and religious heritage by means of such ceremonies and festivals.
In Old Testament times they had no books or other means of teaching one another. Most of the religions confined their ordinances to a small body of priests, and the common man had little or no religious instruction. However, the feast was the exception to this rule. When the festal season dawned, all work and business were laid aside, and old and young alike donned their finest garments and jewels and joined the great crowds in an open display of "worship" and religious education.
There is no indication that the children of Israel ever celebrated ceremonial feasts until the time of their deliverance from Egypt. It is a matter of profound significance that their feasting began with their deliverance, and that the idea of it did not originate in their own hearts. It was formed in the heart of the Lord Himself! HE desired to take His people into the wilderness, that they might worship Him and keep a Feast with Him. He revealed His will through His servant Moses: "And Moses said, We will go with our young and with our old, with our sons and with our daughters, with our flocks and with our herds will we go; for we must hold a FEAST unto the LORD" (Ex. 10:9).
How precious the knowledge that we have a God who hungers, thirsts, deeply desires, to feast with His people - a God who from the beginning has tried to show us that His greatest delight is not in showing His authority, but in enjoying intimate and close fellowship with His children. It is true that He disciplines, that He leads us in paths of sacrifice, fasting, travail and tears - in their proper place. But He causes the sacrifice to be turned into increase, He exchanges the ashes for beauty, and the tears He turns to laughter! He set a Feast of fruits before Adam and Eve, the like of which man has never been able to reproduce, and He communed with them face to face. He ate with Abraham in his tent at noonday. He spread a table in the wilderness for the entire nation of His chosen, and gave them the very bread of heaven. Jesus performed His first miracle at a wedding feast. He fed five thousand on a hillside. He did not hesitate to attend feasts, nor to eat with publicans and sinners. He also attended the Feast of dedication and the Feast of Tabernacles (Jn. 7:37; 10:22) during the years of His public ministry. He heartily desired to keep the Feast of Passover with His chosen disciples, and He has established the New Covenant with a Feast, a great spiritual Feast, wherein He has given the redeemed His own body for their meat and His own blood for their drink. He has promised through the prophet Isaiah that in the latter days He will make a Feast, a great Feast of spiritual blessings and benefits for all nations, upon His holy Mount (Isa. 25:6). And the greatest Feast of all - the marriage supper of the Lamb - will usher a people into the most intimate relationship with their Lord!
The Feast means, that God and man are brought together, the Lord appears unto man to associate Himself with him in an intimate manner, in an extremely close and joyful relationship. Christ comes in three Feasts, three unique and wonderful relationships between Himself and His people, and these relationships become real to us and become His coming and His appearing unto us, praise His glorious name!
The Feasts have at least three aspects to them. They have the memorial aspect, they were done in memory of something, they pointed back to something, back to something God had done. The Feast of Passover was kept in memory of Israel's deliverance from slavery and bondage in Egypt. Every year when the Feast of Passover was observed the children would ask, "What are we doing this for?" Then the father would sit down and tell his children the story of what God did back in Egypt. Thus it was in memory and as a memorial of God's protection in Egypt and their deliverance from Egypt. The Feast of Pentecost was given in memory of the giving of the Law at Mount Sinai as the children of Israel passed through the desert on their way to the land of promise. The Feast of Tabernacles was kept in memory of their entering into the land of promise and into their full inheritance and possession. So each of the Feasts were instituted as a memorial to something grand and glorious that God had done for His people.
Every one of these Feasts had also a prophetic aspect. That is, they pointed not just to the past, but they pointed forth to the future. They pre-figured someing that God was going to do. They were prophetic in their implication. They pointed toward something that God declared He purposed to yet perform for His people. The prophetic aspect of the Passover was that the slaying of the Paschal lamb pre-figured Christ's death on Calvary as the Lamb of God which takes away the sin of the world. The Feast of Pentecost was prophetic of the outpouring of the Holy Spirit by which the Law of God, written at Sinai upon tablets of stone, would be finally written by the Spirit of God upon the fleshy tables of our hearts.
Every one of the Feasts of the Lord have not only a historical aspect, pointing back to something God did, and a prophetic aspect, pointing forward to something God would do; but every one of them has a personal and individual aspect in our lives experientially. Each Feast finds its fulfillment in our forward walk in God. In Passover we see a picture of our justification. In the Feast of Pentecost we have a picture of our baptism with the Holy Spirit, the "firstfruits" of our inheritance. In the Feast of Tabernacles we find a picture of our glorification, our entrance into the fullness of our inheritance and possession in God, even all the wisdom, knowledge, life, victory, nature and power of the Almighty.
A feast involves an appointed day, a public assembly at a fixed time or season. The feast days were occasions when Israel kept divine appointments; times when they assembled BEFORE THE LORD; times when they MET WITH GOD in great joy and festivity. All their worship centered around these three major religious festivals. Our Redeemer has also set some appointments for us, and He expects us to keep them. Only by keeping these divine appointments can we meet with Him or know and experience Him in His comings and appearings. The sublime truth is not merely that we are called to appear before Him in the Feast, but that HE COMES to the Feast! HE APPEARS in the Feast! In Passover we meet the Son; in Pentecost we meet the Spirit; and in Tabernacles we meet the Father. God in Christ comes to us in three dimensions in the Feasts. Furthermore, there is a complete salvation that God has ordained for man, in spirit, soul and body, and these three Feasts. provide for it all. All three ate necessary for a full salvation.
Another important truth in relation to these Feasts is that they are all HIS FEASTS! There are so many Christians today who are possessed of the childish notion that God is the manager of a great heavenly super market, or that He is a glorified celestial Santa Claus. All we have to do is just quote our favorite "faith scripture," snap our finger, turn our faith loose, and God comes running with a load of goodies with which to satisfy our every whim and fancy. NOT SO! He is LORD. He is SOVEREIGN. He is KING. And these are not our Feasts, they are HIS FEASTS. This is a grand and sublime truth we must understand from the beginning if we would progress into the depths of God. These are HIS FEASTS, the Feasts of THE LORD! He's the Host, and we are the guests. Sometimes people like to appear religious, and they hang on the wall a little plaque that says, "Christ is the unseen guest at every meal." I trust, my brother, my sister, that Christ is NOT the guest in your home! He should be the HOST! He must be LORD!
GOD appointed who would meet with Him in the Feasts. All the males of Israel were to keep the Feasts and appear before Him in the place where He put His name; so the Feasts are especially for sons. Not only did God designate WHO would meet with Him, but He specified WHEN they would meet and WHERE they would meet. God ordained the whole thing and established the order thereof. He commanded that they meet with Him in the place where the name of the Lord was recorded. In Old Testament economy that was first in the tabernacle in the wilderness and later in the temple at Jerusalem. In New Testament fulfillment it is first of all in Jesus Christ and then in His many-membered body. The name of the Lord, which means the nature of the Lord, was recorded in the life of Jesus Christ and now is being sealed in the foreheads of His firstfruits company who are putting on the precious mind of the Christ. Furthermore, God gave commandment concerning what the males of Israel were to bring to His Feasts. He left no detail lacking. HE was the Lord of WHO, WHEN WHERE, WHAT and HOW in relation to His Feasts. You will come HIS way, precious friend of mine, and see Him and know Him and experience Him in HIS APPOINTED FEASTS, or you will never see Him at all!
The children of Israel were delivered from Egypt in the first month and the Feast of Passover was celebrated in the first month. The Law was given at Mount Sinai in the third month and the Feast of Pentecost was kept in the third month. The people gathered in the abundance of their crops for the first time in the land of promise in the seventh month and the Feast of Tabernacles was observed in the seventh month. When God meets man in the first dimension, He meets us in the Feast of Passover. Jesus appears to us, He comes to us as SAVIOUR in that realm. "When I see the blood, I will pass-over you!" (Ex. 12:13). I am confident that every reader of these lines has passed through that Feast, has met and seen and experienced the Lord in that realm. "For even Christ our Passover is sacrificed for us" (I Cor. 5:7). Jesus is the Lamb of God. The old Paschal Feast is gone forever. We no longer need a Paschal Feast of the old type, we no longer need to appear before the Lord in Jerusalem in the Old Feast, for HE HAS APPEARED unto us as the Lamb of God and has cleansed us with His precious blood. Has God met with you for the first time? Has Christ come to you in the first dimension? Has He appeared to you as the Lamb of God? Have you eaten the Lamb? If so, the Lamb is WITHIN you!
The Feast of Pentecost was a separate Feast and the Pentecostal experience is a separate experience. Has God met with you a second time? Has Christ come to you in a second dimension of His presence and life and glory? Has He come from heaven as a rushing mighty wind and filled your house with power and glory? Has He appeared to you as the Baptizer with the Holy Ghost and Fire? Have you appeared before Him in the joy and glory of the spiritual Feast of Pentecost? Then you are blessed indeed! But the idea entertained by many Christians is that now since we have had Passover and Pentecost, there is nothing left to do but die and go to heaven, or catch the rapture, whichever comes first. That's what most folk tell me. There's nothing more. The only things that remain to be experienced in God beyond salvation and speaking in tongues and blessings are golden streets and harps and palm branches for eternity. But I have news for you, my friend. God does not stop at Pentecost and the second Feast is but the "earnest" and the "firstfruits" of the final Feast! In Israel the Feast of Pentecost was "the feast of harvest, the FIRSTFRUITS of thy labours" (Deut. 16:9-12). Under New Testament economy this is the FIRSTFRUITS OF THE SPIRIT. "And not only they, but ourselves also which have the FIRSTFRUITS of the Spirit..." (Rom. 8:23). We have had the Feasts of Passover and Pentecost and both of these Feasts have been fulfilled IN THIS AGE IN THE CHURCH which is His body, and right here on the earth. For some strange reason men seek to postpone the last Feast to some future age, or give it to the Jews, or relegate it to some beautiful "Isle of Somewhere," and consequently the real spiritual meaning and import of the Feast of Tabernacles is completely obscured and lost. The grand truth is that like the others, the Feast of Tabernacles will be fulfilled in the body of Christ. It will be fulfilled dispensationally, it will be fulfilled in us individually, and it will be fulfilled in us as the Corporate Man.
No Bible scholar in the world will dispute the truth that on Calvary's hill and in the lives of multiplied millions of believers the Feast of Passover was and is fulfilled. No Bible scholar on the face of the earth will dispute the truth that in Acts chapter two the Feast of Pentecost came to pass in reality. The Old Pentecostal Feast has gone forever. The Pentecostal Feast can never be reestablished as in olden times, because the promise of the Father and the Son, the Holy Ghost has come. We need not implore any more for the Holy Ghost to come, for the Holy Ghost has come and has never gone away, and remains a gentle, gracious, loving Spirit, desiring to enter every heart and impress the Law of God there, And just as surely as these came to pass in the lives of New Testament saints, the body of Jesus Christ is going to experience the Feast of Tabernacles and all that it speaks of. The Feast of Tabernacles is a further realm and a higher dimension of our walk in God. We have no record in the New Testament nor in church history of the Feast of Tabernacles finding fulfillment. If it wasn't fulfilled, then it remains to be fulfilled. Its just that simple. Not one jot or tittle shall in any wise pass from the Law of God till ALL BE FULFILLED.
The last great Feast of the Israelite year was Tabernacles ... and this is the Feast that remains to be fulfilled! Tabernacles is called "the feast of the INGATHERING, which is in the END OF THE YEAR." Pentecost is only the firstfruits of the Spirit, but Tabernacles is the full harvest - FULLNESS! And this fullness comes in the END of the year, at the completion of our progressive walk with God, and I believe that we have not witnessed such fullness in any save in our Lord Jesus Christ Himself, and neither shall we until the very close of this present age. The Feast of Tabernacles could not be celebrated until Israel had left the wilderness behind, and was dwelling in Canaan. Even so, Christ is bringing a great company of apprehended ones, in the END of this age, at the consummation of our progression into God, out of their wilderness wanderings of immaturity, carnality, limitation and struggle on in to their promised land - the measure of the stature of the FULLNESS OF CHRIST. Oh, yes, God shall surely give unto the elect sons of God the FULLNESS OF THE SPIRIT OF GOD of which we, up until this time, have only received the "earnest" or "firstfruits."
I do not hesitate to say that for the most part we are still partaking of the Feast of Pentecost. How bountifully the table has been spread with His presence and divers gifts of the Holy Spirit! But the Feast of Tabernacles, the Feast at the END of the year, is the Feast of Fullness. I have more good news for you. JESUS IS COMING AGAIN! He is coming in the Feast of Tabernacles, and BLESSED are they who are called to this great Feast, that which supercedes Pentecost, that which is the BALANCE OF THE MEAL of which Passover and Pentecost were merely the first courses. And the balance must therefore come, the remainder of the meal which will give strength to the laborers to go forth and accomplish great things for the Master. And this Tabernacles Feast, being the last, shall bring perfection! It will bring the consummation of our SALVATION, spirit, soul and body. As we leave this Feast in great strength, those who will be in control of this planet from that time forth will be abiding in the fullness of RESURRECTION LIFE and will be forever free from the curse, spirit, soul and body. It shall mean a new day of hope and deliverance and glory for the whole earth as the Lord COMES AGAIN to meet man in this great and glorious Feast of HIS FULLNESS. In the Feast of Passover He comes as JESUS, the Saviour. In the Feast of Pentecost He tomes as CHRIST, the Anointed One, and thus the Anointer, for the anointing which we have received, we received OF HIM. But in the Feast of Tabernacles He comes as LORD, the Lord of the harvest, the Lord of Fullness! There is a depth of inworking taking place these days in those whom He has apprehended for the realms beyond. They are slowly, but surely, coming to know Him as LORD of all their life. There are depths of truth which cannot be uttered by voice or inscribed by pen, so may HE grant illumination far beyond what is here written.
The people of Israel were under bondage in Egypt. They suffered a physical, economic, and spiritual slavery such as no nation up to that time had ever endured. Then God called Moses to lead them out of that bondage. The Bible records the history of the plagues that came upon Egypt because Pharaoh refused to let Israel go. The tenth plague resulted in the death of all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, but Israel was protected from that plague. It would be well to read the whole account, for it has much to do with the subject we are discussing. The record will be found in Exodus, chapter twelve, where the Lord said: "This month shall be unto you the beginning of months: it shall be the first month of the year to you" (Ex. 12:2).
God here gave Israel a new calendar. The sacred year, as far as Israel was concerned, was to the begin with the time of the Exodus from Egypt. This caused the first month of this New Year to correspond generally with our present month of April. It was a time of birthing, when as a nation they were thrust forth from the Egyptian womb of bondage and captivity. After 430 years of servitude, they were released at last unto a pathway of freedom and fulfillment. From this date forward Israel was to have a new calendar. This occasion would mark the first month of their New Year because God was going to deliver them from Egyptian bondage, and bring them into a new experience and a new land. Israel's old associations were to be gone forever! They would now depart out of the world system to which they had for 430 years been slaves.
No longer would they serve the Egyptian taskmaster under cruel bondage, but they were to serve the Lord their God. No longer were they to eat the leeks and onions and garlic of Egypt, but they would feast upon the manna from heaven, and drink water out of the flinty rock. No longer would they abide in the houses of their mean world in Egypt, but they would henceforth follow the cloud of glory from one place to another, from one experience to another, even from "glory to glory." Had not the Lord God plainly declared, "I have surely seen the affliction of My people which are in Egypt, and I have heard their cry by reason of their taskmasters; for I know their sorrows; and I am come down to deliver them" (Ex. 3:7-8). And so, to deliver Israel from the judgment of the firstborn, and to prepare them for a new life as a separated and holy nation, God instituted the Passover. And the faithful observance of the rites and ceremonies connected to this event would mean the preservation of Israel in the hour of God's judgments upon the land of Egypt, and the beginning of a new era for the people of God. On the tenth day of that month they were to select a lamb from the flock, one without blemish, and they were to keep it until the evening of the fourteenth day. Then it was to be killed and its flesh was to be eaten. Its blood was to be applied upon the lintel and upon the two side posts of each doorway in all their houses. This was to be the means of their salvation in view of the coming judgment that night. The Lord's promise to them was, "...when I see the blood, I will pass over you..." (Ex. 12:13).
Every redeemed spirit will shout a thousand hallelujahs at the rich truths portrayed by this prophetic symbolism. Enlightened eyes can readily see Jesus, the Son of God, being selected by the Father to become our Paschal Lamb. We can see Him, laying down His life without murmur or complaint, wounded for our transgressions and bruised for our iniquities. Ah, how blessed to have His precious blood applied, to be among the redeemed (Eph. 1:7), to be justified (Rom. 5:9), to be at peace with God (Col. 1:20), and to experience restored fellowship with our heavenly Father (Eph. 2:13)! How very real to every true believer has been this deliverance from the world and a life of sin. Indeed, the Passover experience is a brand new beginning, a new day, a new year, a new calendar, a new life, a new era for the child of God. Old things begin to pass away, and all things begin to become new. The bondage of the world and sin, the old life-style of serving the lusts of the flesh and of the mind is left behind, giving way to a new walk in the Spirit of God, a life of servitude to the God of our salvation. "Being then made free from sin, ye became the servants of righteousness" (Rom. 6:18). From the time we receive Christ as our personal Saviour, and really partake of the power of His blood, from that very hour we begin a new life in God. Historically and experiencially the death of Jesus Christ was the first step in the process of producing a spiritual kingdom of people who would eventually rule and reign with the Lord over the earth and all things. Jesus spoke of the fruit of His death in this manner: "And Jesus answered them, saying, The hour is come, that the Son of man should be glorified. Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone: but if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit" (Jn. 12:23-24). Jesus died that through His death He might become the firstfruits of a vast family of sons of God who would follow Him.
The coming of Christ in the Feast of Passover brought a new beginning for us and for the whole world. Did it really make any difference? Was the world any different for His coming? The coming of Jesus Christ into the world was the greatest boon in the history of mankind. In fact, the coming of Christ so clearly divides the history of the world into B.C. and A.D., that no one can write a letter or sign a check without bearing mute testimony to the incomparable excellencies and accomplishments of the Carpenter of Galilee. Indeed, Jesus makes a great difference! All the world is different because He came. Can you even imagine what the world would be like today had He NOT COME? The entire history of mankind before His coming can be seen as nothing other than a preparation for His advent into the world. All history since His coming has simply been the unfolding of the progress of His Spirit in the hearts of men and the effect of His Kingdom in the world.
I would like to have you consider with me the wonders of the coming of Christ in the Feast of Passover. His coming was an event that caused men and women and even mighty angels in heaven to wonder. How the angels must have wondered in astonishment when they saw, to their utter unbelief, that the glorious Word of God had left His eternal glory in heaven, where unnumbered cherubim and seraphim worshipped Him with unceasing adoring adulation, and now was born in the filth and stench of a stable. It was not a plaster of Paris stable with little white donkeys, but a filthy stinking stable, where the Son of God was born. How the angels must have wondered at that! A time of wonder! Not only the angels, but Mary herself was filled with wonderment. "How shall this be," she said, "seeing that I know not a man?" Her heart was filled with amazement and Joseph must have been overwhelmed with astonishment at the news that his wife had conceived by the Almighty. "The power of the Highest shall overshadow thee. Therefore also that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God."
Mary's heart was filled with wonder and she kept these things in her heart and pondered upon them - that God Almighty had come and had been born in human form. What amazement, what wonder must have filled her soul when she looked down into the face of that little baby to which she had given birth and knew that this was not just a human baby but was the incarnate God. This was the Creator of the galaxies who had come to dwell in human flesh. Her heart must surely have been overwhelmed with the wonder of that! Consider the Magi who came all the way from the Far East at the sight of that star, knowing that the ancient prophecy had been fulfilled and that the Messiah of the world had come. What awe must have filled their souls as they crept in and bowed down before that little child and offered themselves and their gifts.
How many people down through the ages have been filled with wonder. And all that I have said pales into insignificance beside the surpassing wonder of this blessed One hanging and dying like a common criminal upon a Roman cross. Behold, the Lamb of God! Behold the Paschal Lamb! Behold the blood of Jesus! Beloved, it is the most incredible story in the history of the world! It is tragic that the repeated telling of it robs it of its wonder and astonishment in our hearts. Perhaps one of the most wonderful things about the reality of Christ our Passover is the motive that brought it to pass - a motive of love, infinite love, undying love, unconquerable love, the unconditioned love of God who sent the Son of God into this world.
But there is an even greater wonder than this. John the beloved in his Gospel said, "And the Word was MADE FLESH and dwelt among us" (Jn. 1:14). The question follows: Of what substance was the Word before He became flesh? The answer is clear: He was SPIRIT, of course! Didn't Jesus say that God is a Spirit? And did He not also say that HE CAME FROM GOD AND WOULD RETURN BACK TO GOD? As physical men of earth it is difficult to understand the world we cannot see. We have been guided by our five physical senses so long that if we cannot see, taste, touch, hear or smell a thing we cannot comprehend it. To speak of the flesh body of Jesus brings reference to that which was made to be given in sacrifice. A body was prepared for the Word of God to be manifested in. In the Greek New Testament we read, "Hence when He comes into the world He says ... A body Thou hast fitted Me" (Heb. 10:5). We must understand that the Word was not flesh substance until He entered into the world. It was a means of conveyance and also for a SACRIFICE. That body could function in this world but its main goal or purpose was to be the sacrificial offering for all mankind. "And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment: SO CHRIST WAS ONCE OFFERED TO BEAR THE SINS OF MANY: AND UNTO THEM THAT LOOK FOR HIM SHALL HE APPEAR THE SECOND TIME WITHOUT SIN UNTO SALVATION" (Heb. 9:27-28).
In order to understand the coming of Christ to us today, we must first understand His coming in that Passover Feast of long ago. When was it, beloved, that you BEHELD HIM for the first time? Was it not by the eye of the spirit? Did you not see Him by the eye of the spirit hanging on a tree, becoming the sacrificial Lamb on your behalf? But what you saw so clearly by the revelation of the Spirit in your heart actually happened on a hill outside Jerusalem two thousand years ago! The Christ is not here today in that body of flesh hanging on a tree. He has returned to the Father, back into the realm of the Spirit. And it was there in that eternal realm that the Lamb of God was truly given. May the blessed Spirit of Truth somehow help us to understand that He was the Lamb of God slain from the foundation of the world! He had already been slain before Adam was banished from Eden's garden, before Abraham trod the dusty trails of Palestine, before David prophesied of One who would be wounded for our transgressions. What happened on that Judean hill twenty centuries ago was but the dark shadow of an event which had transpired in the realm of spirit before the ages were framed or ever God said, "Let there be!"
Oh, yes, Jesus died on that hill by Jerusalem on that day long ago, but He appeared to you as YOUR SIN OFFERING in the here and now, and you beheld Him in spirit hanging upon a tree for you. Historically He came as the Passover Lamb two milleniums ago, but by the quickening of the Spirit He APPEARED TO YOU as that same Jesus, the very Lamb of God, and He was brought bleeding and dying into your present, in a manner more real and wonderful than it was to those wondering souls who stood gazing in shocked anguish at the foot of the cross that day at Jerusalem. You see, when He appeared to you as YOUR PASSOVER LAMB, you beheld Him in spirit. It was not the shadow of the Man of Galilee that you saw, but the One who was slain in the realm of spirit from the foundation of the world! He became manifested in power in your life in the true Feast of Passover, not in the shadow, but in the substance. He CAME TO YOU as the Lamb, in the eternal and infinite power of His blood, in the authority of His life, and a new and glorious day dawned for you, a NEW BEGINNING. Oh, the wonder of it! The mystery of it!
God said, "When I see the blood I will PASS OVER you." For years I thought that meant that God would "skip over" them, that when He passed through the land meting out death to the firstborns, he would see the blood and "pass on by." "I will skip over you." But that isn't what He said. Notice Ex. 12:23: "The Lord will pass through to smite the Egyptians; and when He seeth the blood upon the lintel, and over the two side posts, the Lord will PASS OVER THE DOOR, and will NOT ALLOW THE DESTROYER TO COME IN UNTO YOUR HOUSES TO SMITE YOU." Now who was doing the smiting? The Destroyer! "I will pass over the door, and will not allow the Destroyer to come in." God was saying, not that He would skip over them, or pass them by, but He was assuring them, "I will become a tent, I will impose my presence over you and you can stand under the tent of My presence and be safe! The Destroyer will be out there but he can't get in - because I will be there! I will pass over you, and will not allow the Destroyer to come in unto you."
Who is the Destroyer that was in the land of Egypt that dark night? The Destroyer was the ANGEL OF DEATH. According to Heb. 2:14, throughout the Old Testament period the devil HAD the power of death. At Calvary Jesus took it away from him and now the Christ of God holds the keys of both hell and death in His mighty hands. None enter or leave those dread realms except at His word. All power and authority over all things in heaven above, and in earth below, and in the nether world has been given into the hands of the triumphant Christ. "Forasmuch then as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, He also Himself likewise took part of the same; that through death He might DESTROY HIM THAT HAD THE POWER OF DEATH, that is, THE DEVIL" (Heb. 2:14). Jesus rendered Satan powerless. He destroyed him that had the power of death, that is, the devil. The Greek word here rendered "destroyed" means that He rendered him powerless. The Weymouth translation reads, "...in order that through death He might render powerless him who had authority over death, that is, the Devil, and might set at liberty all those who through fear of death had been subject to lifelong slavery." The Amplified Bible renders, "...that by going through death He might bring to nought and make of no effect him who had the power of death, that is, the devil; and also that He might deliver and completely set free all those who through the haunting fear of death were held in bondage throughout the whole course of their lives."
In Old Testament times Satan was the angel of death, appointed by God to that purpose. "Behold," says the Lord, "I have created the waster to destroy" (Isa. 54:16). The Lord unleashed the mad dog, the devil, that night in Egypt. You see, the devil is just a mad dog on the end of God's leash, and God turned him loose that night with command to smite the firstborn. God unleashed that dark angel of death in the land of Egypt, but what did God do? God said, "I'm going to come down in the midst of you, and when I see the blood I will interpose My presence over you. I will pass over you and not permit the Destroyer to come in unto your house." Notice Ex. 12:26-27: "And it shall come to pass, when your children shall say unto you, What mean ye by this service? that ye shall say, It is the sacrifice of the Lord's passover, who passed over the houses of the children of Israel in Egypt, when He smote the Egyptians, and DELIVERED OUR HOUSES. And the people bowed the head and worshipped."
God passed over their houses to protect them. He became a defense for them. He became a refuge. His power became a strong and impregnable fortress round about them. Ps. 91 is, I believe, an allusion to the Passover. "He that dwelleth in the secret place of the most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the Lord, HE is my refuge and my fortress: my God; in Him will I trust. Surely He shall deliver thee from the snare of the fowler, and from the noisome pestilence. He shall cover thee with His feathers, and under His wings shalt thou trust: His truth shall be thy shield and buckler. Thou shalt not be afraid for the terror by night; nor for the arrow that flieth by day; nor for the pestilence that walketh in darkness; nor for the destruction that wasteth at noonday. A thousand shall fall at thy side, and ten thousand at thy right hand; but it shall not come nigh thee. Because thou hast made the Lord, which is my refuge, even the Most High, thy habitation; there shall no evil befall thee, neither shall any plague come nigh thy dwelling."
If you have met God in the Feast of Passover, if the Christ has come to you in the reality of this wonderful Feast, where are you today? Under His feathers, under His wings! The Passover God has come and has passed over us, when we embraced Him as our Saviour. When you took the blood of Jesus and applied it to your life, that blood brought the covering presence of the Almighty God. You have perfect protection against the Destroyer! I have no time for the crowd of fear-mongers that roams our land today. I have nothing in common with those who constantly peddle fear - fear of tribulation, fear of the terrible conditions at the close of this age, fear of the Antichrist, fear of economic collapse, fear of communism, fear of the Illuminati, fear of computer systems, fear of conspiracies, fear of demons, fear of death.
There is a lot of false teaching going around today on demonology, and men casting all kinds of devils out of the saints, and bringing a totally erroneous concept which is neither scriptural nor right, leaving people in confusion and in fear of demons and the devil. When you come in under the covering of the Passover God, the God who passes and hovers over you as a fortress and a defense, you have perfect protection against the Destroyer and all his forces. I do not hesitate to tell you today that I am not afraid of the devil - the devil is afraid of me! And he's afraid of you, if you have truly experienced the Lord in the Feast of Passover. Nowhere does the Bible state that the Christians fear the devil - it says in James 2:19 that the devils believe and What? - tremble!
It is the devils that are trembling today! God has a people who are marching through the land triumphant above all the fear of demons, the devil, the world, death, and all that business. There is a tremendous need for the Lord's elect to know their place under the blood and in the indwelling and overshadowing presence of the Lord. HAS HE COME TO YOU IN THE FEAST OF PASSOVER? Are you eating and drinking and rejoicing with Him in that wonderful Festival? Ah, GREATER IS HE THAT IS IN YOU THAN HE THAT IS IN THE WORLD!