The Second Great Covenant: Mosaic Covenant

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Welcome back, study friends!  We’re digging into three great covenants that all must function together, lest they lose their power!  Scripture reveals several more covenants, but we are focusing on:

  • Abrahamic Covenant
  • Mosaic Covenant
  • New Covenant

Each is backed by the character of God, and cannot accomplish God’s purpose if left to stand alone.  Therefore, the three work in conjunction with one another.

Yesterday, we examined the Abrahamic Covenant, identifying it as the covenant of DECISION.  God (not Abraham) decided the parameters of the Abrahamic Covenant and, more importantly, He decided to preach the gospel to Abraham in order for his descendants to become the vehicle of world redemption!

Thus, we see the importance of the Abrahamic Covenant…yet it isn’t enough!  God decided to provide salvation, but the world doesn’t recognize the need!  Therefore, we need instruction and ability.

The Mosaic Covenant is the covenant of INSTRUCTION.  God tells the Israelites, in Exodus 19:5-6, they must obey His voice and keep His covenant.  He laid a foundation of law and gave the Jewish people 613 specific laws to follow.

Why?  He knew they would not be able to fulfill the law.  Is this some sort of evil trick?

Of course not!  He gave the law via the Mosaic Covenant to reveal the need for the Abrahamic Covenant!  We’ll hang out in Galatians 3 today, so I encourage you to open your Bible there.  First, notice verses 19, 21 and 24, where we learn:

  • Law was added because of transgressions.
  • If the law could impart life, righteousness would be based on law.
  • Law is a tutor that leads us to Christ!

By itself, the Mosaic Covenant doesn’t do the trick.  It can INSTRUCT us about sin, but it can’t save us!  However, let’s couple it with the Abrahamic Covenant.  Again, in Galatians 3, we learn:

  • Verse 8: All nations are blessed through Abraham
  • Verse 11: Law will not save us
  • Verse 19: Law was given to show us our need
  • Verse 24: Law is a tutor
  • Verse 26: We are children of God by faith
  • Verse 19: It is the Abrahamic Covenant (not the Mosaic Covenant) that makes us God’s children!

Thus, you see, the Mosaic Covenant is vital to helping us understand the need for the Abrahamic Covenant!  But, God’s DECISION and INSTRUCTION are still not enough!  We need the third leg of the stool: ABILITY.

That is the New Covenant, and we’ll take a look at it tomorrow.  This is great stuff, so I hope you’ll stick with us.  The study gets better and better from here!  See you tomorrow.

Israel at 70: A View from the Israeli Minister of Public Diplomacy and a Jewish Author

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At the ICEJ/ACLI Conference in Washington DC, we were privileged to hear from Israeli Minister of Public Diplomacy, Yaron Gamburg, gave an exciting speech about the history of Israel.  In regard to Israel today, he mentioned three key things of which everyone should know:

  • Land – As we know, God’s covenant with Abraham promised Israel a land.  (See Genesis 12 and 15, as well as other references.)  When God called Moses to lead His people out of Egypt, He referenced a land flowing with milk and honey (Exodus 3, Ezekiel 20).  Yet, when Israel was reborn in 1948, Israel was far from a land flowing with milk and honey.  Yet, Isaiah 35:1-2 tells us that the desert will blossom.  That is happening!  You see, the land blossoms only when Jews are in it!  God keeps His promises to His people.
  • People – God’s covenant with Abraham also involved people.  Abraham would be the father of the Jewish people.  Since Israel’s rebirth, 3.5 million Jews have made aliyah (return to the homeland)!  Israel has now overtaken the United States as the most Jewish-populated country in the world…as they should be!  God is bringing His people back to their land, just as He promised.
  • Purpose – The Jewish people have a purpose: to make the world a better place.  Avi Jorisch, author of Thou Shalt Innovate, also spoke at the conference, concurring that tikkun olam (making the world a better place) is part of the Jewish DNA.  It is ingrained.  Ganburg referred to the Jews as “lights unto the world,” and strive to leave a positive impact.

Jorisch spent considerable time describing innovation in Israel, including all the ways in which inventions are helping people all around the world.  We previewed CBN’s latest release entitled, To Life, which documents the worldwide relief work done by Israelis.

It is so important that we share the truth about Israel.  Here’s a great way to learn (then tell) about Israel’s efforts to be “lights unto the world.”  To see To Life for free, click the link.  Check it out, then spread the word!

Similarities of Passover and Resurrection Weekend

Welcome back friends!  Yesterday we discovered that the Jewish observance of Passover coincides with the Christian observances of Good Friday and Resurrection Day.  Indeed, the Christian and Jewish events share some similarities, though it is rare that the holidays are observed simultaneously.

Let’s consider some similarities.  The very essence of the Christian celebration of Good Friday and Resurrection Day are deeply rooted in the Jewish feast of Passover, so let’s start there.

Exodus 12 and Leviticus 23:5-14 actually lay out the requirements of the 8-day Jewish commemoration of Passover (which also includes the Feast of Unleavened Bread and the Feast of First Fruits).  However, the Passover account played out as the Israelites escaped bondage from Egypt.  Moses was sent by God to deliver the people, but the Egyptian pharaoh did not heed Moses’ appeal.  Thus, God took action on behalf of His people!

A plague would descend upon Egypt that would take the lives of every first born unless families sacrificed an unblemished lamb and smeared blood on their doorposts.  Hebrew families complied with God’s command and thus, their first borns were spared.

Ultimately, the pharaoh relented, the Israelites were set free, and annually Jews the world over celebrate that release from bondage as prescribed in Leviticus 23.  Passover commemorates their release, the Feast of Unleavened Bread reminds them they had no time to allow their bread to rise prior to escaping Egyptian bondage, and the Feast of First Fruits celebrates giving the first fruits of the harvest as an offering of thanks to the Lord.

In the Christian narrative, Jesus Himself fulfills each of those Jewish feasts!  Jesus was the Passover Lamb, the one sacrificed for your sins and mine.  (John 1:29)  It was the blood of the lamb that caused the angel of death to “passover” their house on that fateful night in Egypt.  It is the blood of the Lamb of God that causes Him to “passover” (forgive) our sins.  Jesus, our Passover Lamb, was crucified on Good Friday, which we commemorate tomorrow.

Jesus also fulfills the Feast of Unleavened Bread.  When leaving Egypt, there was no time for the yeast to cause bread to rise, so they were commanded to remove the leaven (yeast).  Throughout Scripture, leaven is representative of sin.  We are to “leave out” the sin in our lives, and fortunately, that is what Jesus’ forgiveness does for us!  It removes sin as far as the east is from the west!  (Psalm 103:12)  Jesus fulfills the Feast of Unleavened Bread on our behalf!

Finally, Jesus also fulfills the Feast of First Fruits.  The Israelites presented the first of their harvest as an offering of thanks to God.  Miraculously, the resurrection of Jesus makes Him the first fruit of those who will ultimately be resurrected:

But now Christ has been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who are asleep.
~1 Corinthians 15:20

That is our guarantee that, as believers, we will follow our First Fruit (Jesus) in resurrection.  We will be raised from the dead to live with Him forever!

For since by a man came death, by a man also came the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ all will be made alive. But each in his own order: Christ the first fruits, after that those who are Christ’s at His coming.
~1 Corinthians 15:21-23

Indeed, Jesus is our Passover Lamb, our Unleavened Bread and our First Fruits!  All that, we celebrate in the coming week, beginning tomorrow!  Meanwhile, we owe a debt of gratitude to the Jewish people, as it was through them that Jesus was revealed to us!  As you celebrate, why not thank the Lord for His people and ask special blessings upon them as they celebrate their feasts!

Jewish Feasts: God’s Calendar of End Time Events

Hi friends and study partners!  On Sunday we began studying the timing of the King’s return.  We know that spiritual Israel and natural Israel have two different finish lines.  Spiritual Israel (which we defined earlier as believers in Jesus as Messiah, whether Jew or Gentile) look to the rapture, while natural Israel awaits the glorious appearing (following the tribulation, when Jesus actually steps foot on the earth to fulfill the Davidic Covenant).

Please note: the church is not the “new Israel,” and I am not suggesting that the covenant promises to Israel have been transferred to the church.  That is the premise of Replacement Theology, and it is false teaching.  Please study the previous lesson on natural/spiritual Israel to understand the context used here.

So, as we gather once again around the study table, let’s focus on the timing of the King’s return. Scripture gives us many clues regarding His return, but the seven Biblical Jewish feasts lay out God’s calendar and help us understand the timing of end time events.

Interestingly, there are no Jewish feasts to celebrate creation, Noah’s flood, or even the Abrahamic Covenant. While those are certainly important events, God’s calendar for the world was not revealed in any of those.  The feasts point back to what Jews see as the most significant time in their history: the exodus from Egypt.  (Leviticus 23 provides details of each feast.)  Indeed, God revealed His calendar when He instituted the Jewish feasts.

However, regarding feasts, festivals, and Sabbaths, the apostle Paul had this to say:

These are a shadow of the things to come, but the substance belongs to Christ.
~Colossians 2:17 [Emphasis mine]

The Jewish feasts are a shadow of what is to come, while Christ is the fulfillment of every feast!  In fulfilling the feasts, God provides a timeline.  Here are the 7 major Biblical feasts of Israel:

  • Feast of Passover
    • Shadow: Jews view Passover as the celebration of freedom.  While captive in Egypt, those who put blood on the doorpost were “passed over” by the angel of death.  (Exodus 12:5-7)
    • Substance: Jesus is our Passover Lamb!  The apostle John declared, “Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!” (See John 1:29, 1 Corinthians 5:7b)
  • Feast of Unleavened Bread
    • Shadow: Jews were forced to flee Egypt quickly, leaving no time for yeast to rise. Thus, they ate unleavened bread. In Scripture, leaven is also symbolic of sin. Therefore, this feast is a time of spiritual cleansing for Jews.

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      Matzo (unleavened bread)

    • Substance: By the crucifixion of Jesus we are cleansed!  According to Isaiah 53:5, Jesus was pierced for our transgressions, bruised for our iniquities, and by His stripes we are healed.  Incredibly, we see piercing, bruising and stripes pictured in matzo (unleavened bread).  Jesus is the fulfillment of the Feast of Unleavened Bread.
  • Feast of Firstfruits
    • Shadow: For Jews, this feast represents the beginning of the harvest and an offering to the Lord of the firstfruits thereof.
    • Substance: Jesus rose from the grave…the first fruit that opened the door for us!  1 Corinthians 15:20 confirms that Christ is risen from the dead and has become the first fruits of those who have fallen asleep! Death will not defeat us!
  • Feast of Pentecost
    • Shadow: Jews celebrate the Feast of Pentecost as the giving of the law (Torah) to Moses on Mt Sinai.
    • Substance: After Jesus’ death, burial, and resurrection, He promised us the Holy Spirit.  Pentecost commemorates the giving of the Holy Spirit and the birth of the church!

Do you see a timeline forming?  Jesus became our Passover Lamb, He was crucified (becoming the fulfillment of Unleavened Bread), then His resurrection is symbolized in the Feast of First Fruits.  Fifty days later, the Holy Spirit was given!  God’s calendar is taking shape.  But there are three more feasts:

  • Feast of Trumpets
    • Shadow: The Feast of Trumpets is Rosh HaShanah in Hebrew…the civil new year.  It is a time of self examination…similar to our worldly tradition of setting new year’s resolutions.  It is an annual new beginning for the Jewish people. In addition, Numbers 10:1-10 describes 2 silver trumpets associated with this feast that are used to assemble the people and direct the movement of the camp.
    • Substance: 2 silver trumpets hold significant meaning.  Why silver?  Precious metal, though not perfect.  Why two?  Could it be that God intended two trumpets to call together the entire world?  Could it be the two trumpets represent Israel and the church (precious, but not perfect)?  Israel, first, because they are the vehicle of world redemption.  They are calling us to assemble together (though, in general, they don’t recognize who we assemble around).  Secondly, the church is called to “trumpet” the gospel…to spread the good news!  1 Corinthians 14:8 warns: …for if the trumpet makes an uncertain sound, who will prepare for battle?  We must sound a clear, sure sound…the Gospel of Jesus! Otherwise, who will be prepared?  But just as importantly, 1 Corinthians 15:51-52 tells us that in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the LAST trumpet, we will all be changed.  Friends, that is the rapture!  It is next on the calendar!  The feasts give us a chronology of end time events.  Still, there are two more feasts to follow!
  • Day of Atonement
    • Shadow: The Day of Atonement is the most solemn, somber day on the Hebrew calendar.  It is a setting aside of all profane works, and even today, Jews fast during the Day of Atonement.
    • Substance: The Day of Atonement represents Israel’s national salvation…still to come!  We know that as the fulfillment of the Davidic Covenant and the launch of the Millennial Age.  Zechariah 12:10 says: Then they will look on Me whom they pierced.  Yes, they will mourn for Him as one mourns for his only son.  This event is still ahead on God’s calendar.
  • Feast of Tabernacles  (Our study points to this!)
    • Shadow: To commemorate the wilderness wandering, Jews celebrate Sukkot (Feast of Tabernacles) by building and living in small, temporary shelters.  It is also a celebration of the harvest ingathering and giving of thanks.
    • Substance: Zechariah 14:16-21 tells us that everyone from every nation who came up against Israel will go up to Jerusalem every year to worship the King!  (He must return in order for that to happen!)  This gathering will be the Feast of Tabernacles!  Think of it: national Israel will finally be saved, and the “ingathering” of believers from around the world will take place at this great harvest of souls!  This is the Millennial Kingdom…fulfillment of the Davidic Covenant.

Friends, the King is coming and we have much for which to look forward!  The feasts serve as a calendar of the end times.  In the Passover, Jesus came to be the sacrificial lamb.  Then He gave His life (fulfillment of Unleavened Bread), and rose again (fulfillment of Firstfruits).  Pentecost came and He sent the Holy Spirit and birthed the church.  The next calendar event is the Feast of Trumpets…the rapture.  That will be followed by Israel’s national salvation (Day of Atonement) and finally the Millennial Kingdom (Feast of Tabernacles).

Are you ready for the King’s return?  For believers in Jesus the Messiah, the rapture is our coronation day!  Lord, come quickly!