"I went to Jerusalem to become acquainted (Gk. istoria) with Cephas" - Paul's words from Galatians 1:18.

Written a Book? Get It Published

Tim Price, publisher at Ekklesia Press, is opening another publishing company called Trestle Press which will focus on genres other than theological or church related. I was introduced to Tim through Jon Zens. His company Ekklesia has published a couple of biographies I've written. I have been very impressed with Tim. His background is in the railroad business, but he is also an author and a perfectionist in terms of publishing. Other books that I have written have been published by more established, larger companies, but Tim has done as good of a job as I've seen in preparation of the manuscript, designs for the cover and chapter separations, as well as distribution of the books through electronic and paper means via the Internet and distributors like Amazon.

For the grand opening of Trestle Press, Tim Price is running a writer's contest. Trestle Press is taking submissions for a contest to win our full publishing capability. This includes a custom cover, eBook conversion, Cataloging In Print, ISBN, custom interior layout and many other features of our publishing approach. Your book will be released to 28,000 book sites around the planet (including Amazon, Books-A-Million, Barnes & Noble and iTunes), and printing on three continents: America, Europe and Australia. You book will be advertised in Ingram Advance catalogs. You will receive industry standard royalties for both printed and eBook versions. The winner of this publishing package receives services valued at $3,200.

Genres sought after:
Romance
Crime Fiction
Science Fiction
Fantasy
Horror
Historical Novel or Non-Fiction
Biography/Memoir
Travel
Self-Help/Health
Other

For more details and information regarding submission of your manuscript, click here. Even if you do not win the contest ($60.00 entry fee), you will be one step closer to having your book published because an editor with expertise has reviewed it and will be able to get it published for you at a very affordable price.

If I Could Just Sit With You Awhile

On Sunday, April 14, 2013, during the Sunday morning worship services at Emmanuel Enid (auditorium services), Melody Lenox (my sister) sang Dennis Jernigan's If I Could Just Sit With You Awhile - acapella. This video is from the fourth service. I heard Melody sing this song at my grandmother's funeral and asked if she would sing it for us at Emmanuel. It was the first time many at Emmanuel had heard Melody sing. I know I'm partial, but I think she's one of the best vocalists in the nation, not just in tone, but in the spirit with which she sings.


"How Long Have You Struggled with Pornography?"

In the few days Paul Young was here in Enid we had some very interesting conversations. I have complimented Paul before, saying I have learned more about interaction with people through observing him than any other person I know. Paul believes everything in his life--every experience, every heart-ache, every blessing, every moment--have collectively led him to the moment in time he speaks with the one who is in front of him. He is not looking over the shoulder to the next person in line, he is not worried about being late for supper or his next appointment. Paul Young takes time to interact with people and connect with them on a level deeper than the superficial.

Paul Young and I share a very high view of the power of the atonement. We both believe the grace of God saves through the Person and work of Jesus the Anointed One. We are repelled by the notion that a loving God tries to save the world through His Son. We believe God actually delivers sinners from themselves through Christ. We also share a common view of hell. It is not a torture chamber dreamed up in the mind of the midieval poet Dante, but rather a solemn, holy place of judgment where a loving God sentences rebels to a just imprisonment for their crimes.

Where Paul and I disagree is on the extent of the atonement. Paul Young believes Christ died for every human being who has ever lived or ever will live, those who are in heaven and those who are in hell. I believe Christ died for the elect. We both believe Christ died for the world, but Paul defines the world as every human being, whereas I define it as a particular people (the Bride of Christ) from every nation, every tongue, every kindred, and every family on earth. Paul Young treats every human being as a child of God, and thus connects with them in a deep emotional and spiritual level. I desire to connect with every human being in a similar manner to Paul Young.

In discussing the extent of the atonement, Paul Young told me a story of a couple of Calvinists who approached him to debate the subject. Paul observed that Calvinists typically approach him in pairs, one tall and lean the other short and plump. The tall one argued with Paul about the extent of the atonement and Paul responded, "So let me ask you a question. You have two boys, both of whom are your flesh and blood. One boy is saved because God chose Him, Christ died for Him and the Spirit regenerated Him. The other boy, however, is chosen by God to be a "vessel of wrath" upon whom judgement will fall as a demonstration of God's holiness and justice. My question for you is this: 'Does it bother you that you have one son who will be in heaven and one son who will be in hell?'" The tall Calvinist responded: 'It does not. God's purposes are good, and if my boy is a vessel chosen for the demonstration of God's wrath against sin, it will be fine with me."

Paul Young's next question was this: "How long have you struggled with pornography?"

I was shocked at Paul's question to the man. Paul explained to me that any human being who is so emotionally disconnected from their children's welfare that they can dispassionately speak of their eternal state without sorrow, tears or pleading with God for mercy, is a person who is disconnected from emotion in relationships. The tell-tale sign of a struggle with pornography, according to Paul, is an emotional disconnect from human relationships.

I may disagree with Paul Young about the extent of the atonement, but I can guarantee you I want to treat every person the way he does. I wish to believe like Charles Spurgeon  who once said "God, save the elect and elect some more" and I wish to live like Paul Young who treats every human being as a chosen recipient of God's grace. My view on the atonement has not changed. I believe it is a particular atonement for those who believe. But I can tell you without hesitation I would rather be around people who believe in a powerful, universal atonement and treat everybody like a child of God than a limited atonement person who is emotionally disconnected from the human race. I'm not sure what camp that puts me in, but its one which I do not wish to leave.

When a Cult Repents: The Transformational Story of the Worldwide Church of God

In my formative Christian years I was a fan of Walter Martin and other Christian apologists who became Kingdom watchdogs and protected the sheep from wolves. In subsequent years I began to realize that much of what passes as orthodox Christianity in evangelical circles is as cultic in behavior as unorthodox, Trinitarian-denying cults. Yet, even with my awareness of problems in modern evangelicalism, cultic organizations like Herbert W. Armstrong's Worldwide Church of God have remained anathema to me because of their aberrant beliefs, arrogant and abusive behaviors, and avarice.

That is why it is so refreshing to see the transformation taking place within the former Worldwide Church of God. Over the past twenty years, leaders in the WCG have renounced the beliefs of their founder Herbert W. Armstrong, adopted a Trinitarian view of God, emphasized the grace of God in delivering sinners (instead of obedience to God's law), and changed their name to Grace Communion International. GCI's magazine Odyssey has had some interesting articles, written by authors who have "a fresh awareness of the importance of grace, a high respect for Scripture, a willingness to do what the Scriptures say, and a spirit of rejoicing in the implications of Trinitarian theology." Not bad.

What I find even more fascinating is the public apology by the leaders of the new GCI. After giving a short history of the Worldwide Church of God and the two decades long transformation on their web page, the leaders of GCI wrote:

"...(W)e are now in full agreement with the statement of faith of the National Association of Evangelicals. Jesus Christ changes lives. He can change an organization, too. We have worked hard to inform our members about where we went wrong — and we say “we” honestly, for the current leaders of the church once believed and taught (Armstrong's) erroneous doctrines. We have criticized other Christians as false, deceived, children of the devil. We have much to apologize for. We are profoundly sorry that we verbally persecuted Christians and created dissention and disunity in the body of Christ. We seek forgiveness and reconciliation.   
We do not have any delusions of grandeur. We do not imagine that we will turn the world upside down. We do not think we will transform the church like Paul did. But we do expect God to use us to preach the gospel of Jesus Christ. There may be a niche that needs our particular experience. Perhaps God is preparing us for situations that do not yet exist. We do not know, but we remain ready to respond to God’s leading. We emphasize grace, and we accept Trinitarian theology."
Without doubt, the authoritarian, legalistic, cultic Worldwide Church of God hurt a number of people in the 20th century. Yet, the organization seems to have changed during the last two decades. That's good news. GCI could be a model for other religious organizations in the 21st century who need to separate from authoritarian leaders who have used and abused people. It can be done.
 

Forgiveness Past, Present and Future

Yesterday it was my privilege to hear a moving conversion story from a young man who opened his life to Jesus Christ a month ago. Not raised in church, losing his father to a tragic car accident before he was even born, and living his life of twenty-four years without God or any plumbline of morality, this young man teared-up as he described how in a very dark moment of his life last month, the knowledge of his need for Christ became a reality, and he gave his life to God, expressing his belief that he was on a path to ruin, and only God could turn him around. He came to me because Emmanuel was really the only church he attended during his immoral days where "he felt loved and not condemned" and he wanted to be baptized at Emmanuel to publicly share his new life in Christ.

I offered some words of encouragement and then gave him a copy of Happiness Doesn't Just Happen. Do you know what my words of encouragement were? You may be surprised. Here is what I told him.

"You have been saved. You may not realize all that means right now, but it's all good. God has loved you, reached down in His mercy and opened your eyes to your need of Him and revealed to you what Christ has done for you. He has become the Father you never had. You have been born from above. His love for you is unconditional, His kindness toward you is immeasurable, and His mercies will be new and fresh every morning. Everything in your life He will now ultimately work for your good. He is that good. That's His name - God - the abbreviation for the English word good.
You are going to screw up again. You will morally fail again. You will struggle in the future with the desire to party the way you used to party. Your old friends will seek to pull you back with them. Your old patterns of living are not gone - the battle is just beginning- and there will be days you will fail miserably.
Remember this. When Jesus died all your sins were future. He carried all your sins away. Your future screw-ups no more cause Him to love you less than your past screw-ups. You can't promise Him things to get Him to love you more, and you can't perform better to get Him to be good to you. He treats you just as if you never sinned and just as if you never will sin even though you have sinned and you will sin. Your relationship with the invisible, immortal and omnipotent God of the universe is good-to-go because of your faith in Christ, and all blessings of the obedience of Christ toward the Father are now yours because of faith. God sees no sin in you anymore. Period.
Then why change? Why transform? Because of the nature of sin. Sexual immorality, hatred, drunkenness, stealing, cursing, (_________ fill in the blank) is sweet like honey when it happens, but in time it is like gravel in the mouth. Living life without thought of God brings only temporary pleasure and guaranteed pain. You can't help but change because your perspective is changing. You are now thinking of the eternal. You recognize that there is more to life than just the immediate. You change because you are changed - by God.
My job is to help you realize that your relationship with God is like no other relationship you will ever have. Everyone else loves you, accepts you, stays with you, embraces you, guides you, protects you, enjoys you because of your performance. Not God. His favor towards you never changes because His Son has accomplished for you in the past what you will never be able to accomplish now or in the future. The great privilege of being a Christian is to unlock the riches of His grace and to continue to discover His immeasurable love."
 
I am convinced that if we preachers spent more time exalting Christ and less time being concerned about people's present or future screw-ups, more people would experience the life changing transformation of God's amazing grace through faith in Christ. I am often accused of being an antinomion ("one with no law"). So be it. Christ is the end of the law for me.

In His Grace,

Wade

Imago Dei and Your Teenage Daughter

It was my wife's and my privilege to raise three boys and a girl. All four of our children are grown and out of the home. Two of them are now married, including our daughter Charis who recently moved back to Oklahoma with her husband for his new career. We are grateful for the grace of God in our children's lives, but we are particularly thankful for God's presence in the life of our daughter.  Young girls in America are bombarded with media and advertising that defines "success" for women in terms of beauty, sex appeal, and body consciousness. Before I offer a word of encouragement to parents with pre-teen or teenage daughters, I ask you to watch the following video that will illustrate how American advertising has lied to our girls.



 How do we combat these messages our loved ones see? I believe we must teach them about the Image of God within our girls, or as the ancients called it, the Imago Dei.

Thomas Aquinas taught that God's image is seen in one's intellect or reason. The ability to think is a human's most God-like quality. Aquinas pointed out that animals were not created with a mind like that of a human, so animals do not have the image of God. The first humans (Adam and Eve) had a battle between their reason and what Aquinas called their "lower powers." God intended for Adam and Eve to be controlled by their ability to reason with God, but they allowed their physical appetites, such as lust and gluttony, to overtake their minds. They fell from walking in harmony with God.

Aquinas taught that after the fall, the descendents of the first parents lost all control of their “lower powers.” God said in Psalm 81:12, “I gave them over to the stubbornness of their heart, to walk in their own devices," a concept repeated by the Apostle Paul in Romans 1:24, “Therefore God gave them over in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, so that their bodies would be dishonored among them.”

Thomas Aquinas writes:
In his original state man was divinely endowed with the grace and privilege that, so long as his mind was subject to God, the lower powers of the soul would be subject to his rationale mind, and his body to his soul. Man’s mind by sin abandoned subordination to God, with the consequence that now his lower powers were no longer wholly responsive to his reason; and such was the rebellion of the flesh against reason that the body as well was no more wholly responsive to soul.
 
Aquinas believed that for the Image of God to be restored, there must be an understanding that the lower powers must come into submission of the mind. This can only happen when people come to know and love the Creator God more than themselves. This experience with God is what we would call salvation. It is what happens when someone comes to be a partaker of the life of God in Christ, not just a believer in the existance of God through Christ. Christ begins the work of transformation, but we parents can be partners with Him in encouraging our girls.

If we wish to combat the influence of our culture in the lives of our daughters, we would do well to practice the following:

(1). Be cautious of ever emphasizing, either intentionally or unintentionally, the need for a beautiful body over the necessity of a well-conditioned mind.
(2). Take interest in recommending books that your girls can read more than any interest in commending boys your girls can date.
(3). Spend as much time and energy on sponsoring your daughter's planned field trip as you do your daughter's prom date night.
(4). Focus on reinforcing your little girl's ability to think for herself.
(5). Use phrases like, "I love the way you think!" or "You amaze me with your abilities to understand!" or "I'm so proud of the way you stood up for your convictions" -- as ways to confirm the importance of one's mind over one's body.
(6). Ask questions about, and show interests in, any friend that may be unpopular with the "in" crowd, but gives evidence of having a strong character and a good mind.
(7). Never be bashful to talk with your little girl about her relationship with God.

The fight for the souls of our daughters goes against a tidal wave of cultural conformity, but in the end, I can't imagine we parents ever regretting emphasizing the Imago Dei (the mind) over the temporary tent of this world (the body) in the raising of our daughters.

It's Thursday, But Sunday's Coming!

All Christians believe Christ died and rose from the grave. This belief is foundational to Christianity. God justifies only those with this faith (Romans 3:25). Without such faith one has no hope of pleasing God (Hebrews 11:6).

However, more than a few people believe Christ died and rose from the dead without knowing when and why He died. Knowledge about the details of Christ's death and resurrection immeasurably strengthen one's conviction and assurance that Christianity is not one of many possible valid religions, but is the body of truth once delivered by God to us. To put it in graphic terms, knowing the details of Christ's death sends chills up the spinal cord, leading one to a deeper fear of the Creator God and a decreased fear of man.

Jesus Christ died on a Thursday, not a Friday.

If this is the first time you've heard that Jesus died on a Thursday, it might sound strange to your ears, particularly when powerful songs, great messages, and vivid memories revolve around Good Friday. However, if you allow yourself to be influenced by Scripture only (sola Scriptura), you will find that the Thursday death of the Messiah becomes a powerful demonstration of God's infinite ability to orchestrate His Story as the centerpiece of history.

Jesus died at 3:00 p.m. in the afternoon, on Thursday, the 14th of Aviv, 30 A.D at the age of 33, at that very time God appointed for the Messiah to die.  "I have come to fulfill the Law and the prophets" (Matthew 5:17), Jesus said. He did just as He said He would do--He fulfilled the Law. There is no other day, no other time, no other way Jesus could have died and there is no other day, no other time, no other way Jesus could have risen from the dead for the Law of God to be fulfilled.

For all those reading this post who have been duped by religious leaders into believing that sins are swept away by our promises to God or our performance for God, what I am about to write can help you see that those religionists who are stuck on man-oriented religious performance have no idea that true, biblical Christianity sets sinners free to trust Christ's performance. The truth of what is written in this post will thoroughly erase any belief that God's mercy, love and grace is determined by our ability to adequately perform. Take a moment and determine to "Grow in grace and the knowledge of Christ" and read slowly and carefully through this post. You will not regret it.

Jesus dying on Thursday and rising on the following Sunday is thoroughly supported by the Scriptures and is not a new proposition among evangelicals. Nearly one hundred and fifty years ago the scholarly Bibliotheca Sacra, vol. 27 (1870), pp. 401–429 published an article entitled The Crucifixion on Thursday – Not Friday by J.K. Aldrich. Greek and New Testament scholar Professor Brooke Westcott of Great Britain, author of the classic work An Introduction to the Study of the Gospels (Cambridge: 1881), pp. 343–349, adamantly maintained that Christ's crucifixion was on Thursday, not Friday.  In 1974 Christianity Today published The Day He Died, by Dr. Roger Rusk, Emeritus Professor of Physics at the University of Tennessee. In this short article, Dr. Rusk shows through his computer enhanced lunar calculations that Jesus died on Thursday, the 14th of Abib, 30 A.D.

The Way the Jews Measured Time

There are three basic things you need to understand about the way the Jews kept time in Jesus day before you can know why Jesus died when He did. The Jewish months revolved around eyeballing the moon during its phases of brightness in the sky. When a 'new moon' occurred (see chart), the priests would blow their horns and declare that a new 'month' had begun. Aviv was the first month of the new year for the Jews (see Leviticus 23:5), occuring in the spring as God woke nature from her winter slumber. Aviv corresponds to March/April on our calendar. Jesus died on the 14th day of Aviv, 30 A.D. at 3:00 in the afternoon which would correspond to April 6, 30 A.D. on our western calendar.

Second, the Jews in Jesus day did not call the days of their week Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, etc... as we do. They called them "the first day of the week, the second day of the week, etc..." The seventh day of the week was a Sabbath and is known to us in the western world as Saturday. The 'first day of the week is what we call Sunday. Of course, Jesus rose on Sunday, the first day of the week (John 20:1).

Finally, a new day BEGAN for the Jews at 6:00 p.m. in the evening. In the western world we have six hours of night before 12:00 midnight and those hours are the last six hours of our day. Not so in Jesus' Jewish world. The hours from 6:00 p.m. to 12:00 midnight were the first six hours of a NEW DAY. So, Jesus died at 3:00 p.m. on Thursday, the 14th of Aviv, just three hours before the sixth day of the week (Friday), the 15th of Aviv, began.

The Reason Jesus Died on Thursday (the 14th of Aviv)

After Moses led the Jews out of their Egyptian bondage fourteen hundred years before Christ was born, God "appointed" seven Holy Days (holidays) for the Jews to keep throughout the year. These Holy Days, called High Sabbaths, were national celebrations of God's faithfulness and mercy to His people. God was very specific in His Law (Leviticus 23) as to when and how these Holy Days were to be celebrated.

The first three Holy Days occurred in the spring, during the month of Aviv, all within one week of each other. The first holiday was Passover. According to Exodus 12:1, the Passover lamb was to be chosen on the 10th of Aviv and slain on the 14th of Aviv. After the Passover lamb had been chosen on the 10th of Aviv, the people would inspect the lamb to make sure there were no spots or blemishes. The lamb could not have any broken bones or be defective in any way. Four days after the lamb was chosen, the lamb was slain.

At 3:00 p.m. on the 14th of Aviv, the lamb would be killed in preparation for the Passover meal. The 14th of Aviv was therefore called "the day of Preparation for Passover" in Scripture (John 19:14) .  The Jews would also use the day of Preparation (the 14th of Aviv) to sweep away any leaven in their houses in preparation for The Feast of Unleavened Bread. The Feast of Unleavened Bread began on the next day, the15th of Aviv, the same day the Passover Meal was eaten, and lasted for seven days. During this week long festival, the Jews were forbidden to consume bread with leaven.  As the week of Unleavened Bread began during the early hours of the 15th of Aviv (from 6:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m. at night), the Jewish Passover meal would be eaten. The lamb that had been killed three hours earlier (at 3:00 p.m. on the 14th of Aviv) was roasted and eaten at the Passover meal after sunset. The lamb would be eaten along with the unleavened bread that had been prepared during daylight of Aviv 14. Leaven in Scripture is a picture of sin or evil. After the Passover lamb died and had been taken into the Jewish houses, sin and evil disappeared.

The Passover lamb always died on Aviv 14, and leaven was always swept away from the homes on Aviv 14. Again, this day of Aviv 14 was called the day of Preparation for Passover. The actual Feast of Passover was eaten after sunset, in the early hours of Aviv 15, the first day of Unleavened Bread. Remember, the Jewish day BEGINS at 6:00 p.m. so though the Passover meal was eaten between 6:00 p.m. and 10:00 p.m. of what we in the western world would consider the SAME day (Aviv 14),  but the Jews considered the NEXT DAY, Aviv 15.

The first day of Unleavened Bread was considered a High Sabbath for the Jews. This High Sabbath was not a regular Sabbath (Saturday), but a special annual Sabbath. That means Friday, Aviv 15 was a High Sabbath and Saturday, Aviv 16 was a regular Sabbath. The resurrection of Christ occurred on Sunday morning (Aviv 17) after two Sabbaths, back to back, had been observed by the Jews. This is precisely what the New Testament teaches. The gospel writer Matthew describes the time when the disciples came to the empty tomb of Christ on Sunday morning by writing, “After the Sabbath(s), at dawn on the first day of the week...” (Matthew 28:1a).  The Greek word translated Sabbath in this text is “Shabbaton” (plural) not “Shabbat” (singular). Any English translation that does not use "Sabbaths" is mistranslating the Greek text. The crucifixion week had the High Sabbath on Friday plus the weekly Sabbath and Saturday.

Jesus died on the day of Passover Preparation Day, Thursday, Aviv 14. The next day, the First Day of Unleavened Bread (Friday)  was Aviv 15 and a special High Sabbath for the Jews. The next day, Aviv 16 (Saturday) was the regular Sabbath for the Jews. It was not uncommon for the Jews to have TWO Sabbaths back to back, an event that occurred at least once a decade, and this is precisely what happened during crucifixion week as stated in Scripture.

In further fulfillment of Scripture, Jesus died at 3:00 p.m. on Thursday, Aviv 14, at the very time the national Passover lamb was being sacrificed in the temple.  When the Jews counted days, they measured any portion of a day or night and considered it an entire day or night. Jesus was in the grave for 3 days and 3 nights. He was placed in the tomb on Thursday (Aviv 14), remained in the tomb all night/day Friday (Aviv 15; notice the night time comes BEFORE the day time in a Jewish day), all night/day on Saturday (Aviv 16), and into the night time hours (6:00 p.m. to 6:00 a.m. of Sunday, (Aviv 17).  Jesus rose from the grave sometime between the sunset following Saturday (Aviv 16) and sunrise of the first day of the week (Mark 16:9), which was Sunday (Aviv 17) for the Scripture says it was still night.  The time Jesus spent in the grave fulfills the prophecy Jesus said about His own death and resurrection: "For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of a huge fish, so the Son of man will be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth" (Matthew 12:40).

The Anti-Type Fulfills the Type

Follow Jesus as He enters Jerusalem in the spring of 30 A.D. He entered the city on Sunday, Aviv 10, the day we call Palm Sunday. The procession for the national Passover lamb of Israel had just taken place. The lamb had been led into the city from the east and was taken to the Temple to be the public sacrifice for the nation of Israel, and event that would occur four days later (Aviv 14). The lamb was met by crowds of people waving palm branches and joyously singing Psalm 118. Jesus made His final entrance into Jerusalem on a donkey, following the national Passover lamb (Matthew 21:1-11). The Jews, many of whom had either known of Jesus or personally witnessed His great miracles, placed their palm branches in front of Him and shouted to Him passages from Psalm 118: "Hosanna to the Son of David!’ ‘Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!’ ‘Hosanna in the highest!’”

Just as the Jews began to cleanse their homes of leaven in preparation for Passover, so Jesus went to His Father's house and cleansed the Temple of evil (Matthew 21:12-13). From Aviv 10 to Aviv 14 the national Passover lamb was in full public view at the Temple so the Jews could ensure the lamb was perfect and without defect. During those same four days, Jesus was inspected and interrogated by the chief priests, elders, Pharisees, and Sadducees. He left them bumfuzzled because "they could find no fault with His character (see Matthew 21:23-27). Even the Roman governor of Jerusalem (Pilate) and Herod, the governor of Galilee could "find no fault with Him."

Jesus ate the Passover meal the night BEFORE He was crucified (early hours of Aviv 14, between 6:00 p.m. and 10:00 p.m.). The Jews would NOT eat their Passover until 24 hours later, but Jesus instituted a New Covenant - with no lamb eaten - giving bread and wine and saying, "This is my body, and this is my blood, which is shed for you." He was the Lamb of God. It was His death that mattered. The Law of God in the Old Covenant was about to be fulfilled by the Lamb of God.  Within a few hours, the Anti-Type (the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world) would fulfill the type (the Passover lamb of Israel). The agreement between God and man changed at Calvary with the institution of the New Covenant. God had Himself a new people (from every tribe, race and nation), a new Temple (the lives of believers in His Son), a new priesthood (men and women, slave and free, Gentile and Jew), and a New Command ("love one another as I have loved you"). The Law pictured that "the just live by faith," but the Lamb made that picture a reality. Faith in Christ's performance for sinners is the only thing that makes a sinner right with God.

Jesus was placed on the cross at "the third hour" (9:00 a.m.) on Aviv 14 (Mark 15:25), less than twelve hours after He shared the New Covenant meal in the Upper Room with His disciples. So it was that the national Passover lamb was bound to the Temple's altar at very same hour.   As Jesus hung on the cross, darkness came over the land (Luke 23:44-46) from about "the sixth to the ninth hour" (from noon to 3:00 p.m.). At 3:00 p.m. on Aviv 14, 30 A.D., Jesus died. At that very same time, the national Passover lamb in the Temple was slain by the High Priest. The Passover lamb was sacrificed in the Temple on Aviv 14 "between the evenings" (3:00 p.m.), just as Jesus, the Lamb of God, was sacrificed for the world "between the evenings." As the High Priest brought the knife down on the national Passover lamb, he cried “It is finished!”  Just outside the city gate, at that very hour, Jesus cried on the cross, "It Is Finished!" and He died.

Remember, it was forbidden by the Law of God for any of the bones of the Passover lamb to be broken (see Exodus 12:46).  At the crucifixion, soldiers came by to break the legs of the two criminals crucified along with Jesus, but they discovered Jesus was already dead. The reason for breaking the criminals legs was to ensure that they would die before sunset and the Passover meal and the beginning of the Feast of Unleavened Bread (Aviv 15). It took Jesus only six hours to die. I am reminded that He said, "No one takes my life. I lay it down of my own accord" (John 10:18).

Jesus rose three days later, early on "the first day of the week" (Sunday).  His Resurrection Day was the same day that the Jews "waved the sheaf of first fruits" in the Temple during the Feast God appointed in the Law, a Feast called "The Feast of the Waving of the Sheaf of First Fruits." Jesus rose on this day, and the fulfillment of the Law in rising as our "first fruits" of resurrection is quite instructive (listen to this past Sunday's Easter message).

Application

Jesus Christ fulfilled the Law. Everything in the Old Testament was about Him. When He walked with the two men on the road to Emmaus, He "began with Moses and all the prophets and explained to them all those things concerning Himself" (Luke 24:27)

God appointed the seven Holy Days for Israel (Leviticus 23) nearly a millennium and a half before Jesus ever walked the streets of Jerusalem! What are the odds that Jesus enters Jerusalem on the 10th of Aviv, dies on the 14th of Aviv, is in the tomb during the days of Unleavened Bread, and rises on the "morrow after the Sabbath" (Sunday, the 17th of Aviv) on the very day the Jews celebrated the Feast of the Sheaf of Firstfruits? I could go on and explain to you the Anti-type fulfillment of the last four Jewish feasts (Pentecost, Feast of Trumpets, Feast Day of Atonement and Feast of Tabernacles), but that is another post. I think you see the beauty of Christ in the Passover.

Next time somebody mocks Christianity and tells you it is a religion of myths and fairy tales, why don't you take a little time to show them that His Story is history itself. Jesus was born on Tabernacles, died at Passover, rose from the dead on the Feast of Firstfruits, came to indwell us on Pentecost and will come again at the Feast of Trumpets?  It would be wise for all people to see the Holy One in the Holy Days of the Old Testament and how Jesus Christ is the utter fulfillment of the Law.

Finally, when somebody asks you how your sins are swept away, refuse to point that person to any promise of man, any commitment promised by man, or any pledge of religious fidelity by man! Point the questioner to the Man who accomplished for us what we cannot accomplish for ourselves.

This is the faith once delivered to the saints, and it is worth believing. It sets you free from trusting in your performance to one hundred percent trusting His performance for you.