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Posts Tagged ‘Feast of Firstfruits’

When giving our own testimony about leaving Torah Observance for Jesus alone and His Covenant,  I have always tried to make a distinction between the Hebrew Roots Movement (comprised almost completely of Gentiles) and Messianic Judaism, which I had no direct experience with.  Watching it from a distance I assumed this was culturally relevant for Jewish people having these customs as their background.

When I came to meet the brother who has shared this booklet I’m passing on to you, my theory was turned on its head.  I am so thankful that God has led him to write and freely share the wisdom he has learned from God’s Word.  He has blessed our lives incredibly with his words and I pray it blesses many others.

Judaism has beautiful elements in its practice and can be extremely alluring to those who mistakenly think they can learn to  “do what Jesus did.”   This is just the beginning of many distractions and deceptions, leading people to flirt with practices and philosophies of Judaism.   To draw from this well, as a believer, whether Jewish or Gentile is to drink from a broken cistern, guaranteed to run dry on you, most certainly NOT the Living Water that leads to everlasting life.

This booklet entitled “What Went Wrnog With the Messianic Movement” is a Jewish believer’s plea to reject the futility of false religion and inherited lies in favor of the One saving truth of Jesus Christ in a powerful, honest, heart-felt manner.  I praise God for the deliverance He has so graciously given so many of us who were once blinded, but now the veil has been taken away as we turned to Christ.  Here is an excerpt and a link to read the PDF copy.

“Judaism appears to be righteous and godly, but anything that turns away from or hates Jesus and His wonderful work also turns away from, i.e. hates, God as well. Therefore, because the spirit of Judaism is so virulently set against Jesus and His work on the Cross, the God of Judaism cannot be the God of Mt. Sinai, the God of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and the prophets or any god at all. That Judaism and practitioners of Judaism hate Jesus reveals something much deeper in the character of the religion and the practitioners thereof. He who hates Jesus, hates God and cannot be said to be in any way godly.

But there is a redeeming characteristic to normative Judaism. Zeal. The day will come when “all Israel will be saved”, and when that day comes it will be with great zeal. The knowledge of the God of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Moses, David and the prophets will be added to zeal, to the eagerness to serve God. Lying, legal (and other) fictions and manipulative mental gymnastics of the mind of man will be put aside. The eagerness to seek God — the readiness on the tongue to discuss Godly matters —will be added to the clear vision of the eyes of faith. But it is dishonest to say that that day has come. Normative Judaism is not a beautiful religion for those who mean to seek the very face of God as described in the New Testament.

This booklet is not written for Jews who have never known Jesus. They should enjoy their religion in good health. However, for believers in the shed blood of the Messiah, normative Judaism is nothing short of spiritual adultery. In Romans we are told that we were made to die to the Law in order to be joined to (married to) the Messiah.”  p. 10

“Our heritage is beautifully described in the sixteenth Psalm:

“The LORD is the portion of my inheritance and my cup; Thou dost support my lot. The lines have fallen to me in pleasant places; Indeed, my heritage is beautiful to me.” Psalm
16:5, 6 (emphasis supplied)

When David the psalmist says, “my heritage is beautiful to me” we should know that our heritage as believers in Jesus is not our culture; our heritage as believers is God Himself in diametric contradistinction to what has been handed down to us from our fathers. “Thou wilt make known to me the paths of life. In Thy presence is fullness of joy. In Thy right hand there are pleasures forever.” These three amazing things (knowing the paths of life, fullness of joy and pleasures forever) are not obtainable from
our fleshly fathers; not from rabbis and not from books or lectures. Only the inheritance that we have as sons of God through Jesus (John 1) can bring us this inheritance.”  p. 42

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What Went Wrnog with the Messianic Movement

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I cannot let this Easter slip by without a discussion on what this day means to me now.  The name of my blog comes from this, so of course I have to talk about it!  Every Sunday is a mini Easter, a time to remember the LIFE we have in Christ.  I do prefer to call it Resurrection Sunday (just because it explains the meaning), but I don’t get up tight about names of things anymore!:0)  It’s the reality of a thing or person that matters, not what it’s called.  I want to begin with the truth as the Word of God proclaims it.  Paul testified from one Roman official to another that this was the key point for which he was being hunted down by his Jewish brothers.

1Co 15:14  And if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain.

1Co 15:17  And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins.

Eph 1:19  and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe, according to the working of his great might
Eph 1:20  that he worked in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places,

Rom 6:4  We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life.

Col 2:12  having been buried with him in baptism, in which you were also raised with him through faith in the powerful working of God, who raised him from the dead.

Rom 10:9  because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.

I don’t think I ever saw this element until just now.  This last verse says believing in the resurrection is part of saving faith, just as we are instructed to believe that Jesus is the Son of God.  This is not something I often hear, but shows how vital the resurrection is in the gospel message.

To understand where I am now, here is some background.  Growing up as an Adventist, the actual day of Easter was never recognized.  The Sabbath before Easter would sometimes have a sermon with some reference to the resurrection (depending on the church or pastor – some ignored it completely).  Most often the emphasis was on the fact that since Christ rested in the tomb on Sabbath, we were encouraged in our own observance of this day.  We never quite got past the quiet tomb to the empty tomb.

On Easter we went about our business as if nothing significant had ever occurred on this day in the history of the world.  To corporately gather and honor the resurrection of Christ would have been to participate in “Sunday worship” – an evil and pagan practice.

I recently was given a sermon by an SDA pastor entitled “Who is Jesus”.  He began his presentation with a video of people on the street being asked who Jesus is, and getting every answer but the Biblical one.  He went on to explain who Jesus is, (as if he was answering these people with no knowledge of Him.)  I kept waiting for him to cover the resurrection and what that means for all who believe in Him.  He left this part of the gospel out completely, an oversight difficult to understand in light of the above verses.

The entire subject has many problems in Adventist belief.  Here is how Ellen White describes the resurrection of Christ, via an ANGEL!

“…The face they look upon is not the face of mortal warrior; it is the face of the mightiest of the Lord’s host. This messenger is he who fills the position from which Satan fell. It is he who on the hills of Bethlehem proclaimed Christ’s birth. The earth trembles at his approach, the hosts of darkness flee, and as he rolls away the stone, heaven seems to come down to the earth. The soldiers see him removing the stone as he would a pebble, and hear him cry, Son of God, come forth; Thy Father calls Thee. They see Jesus come forth from the grave, and hear Him proclaim over the rent sepulcher, “I am the resurrection, and the life.” As He comes forth in majesty and glory, the angel host bow low in adoration before the Redeemer, and welcome Him with songs of praise. {DA 779, 780}

Jesus proclaimed, “I AM the resurrection and the life.”  If He is the embodiment of these things, why was an angel involved?   In John 2:19 Jesus said, “Destroy this temple and in three days I will raise it up.” – speaking there of His own body.  The scripture speaks in many places of God the Father who raised the Son, but in the understanding of the Eternal Godhead, we know Jesus to be in the Father and the Father in Him.  In another verse it speaks of the Spirit – so all three aspects of the Godhead were present and working together as They are in all things.  (Thank you to some of my friends who helped expand my perspective on this recently!)

But there is yet another even more damaging doctrine of the SDA religion in connection with Easter, that of  “soul sleep”.  The death which Christ died, they call the “second death”, is the final annihilation they believe the wicked will experience at the final judgment.  Not believing in hell or any spirit that lives on after the death of the body, this death means a person completely ceases to exist.  They distinguish this from the state of unconscious  “sleep” they see as the current state death of all men until the final resurrection.  While it is not clear what this distinction is, the resulting problem is in the death of Christ,  you are left with only a dead physical body of God in the tomb.  Part of the Trinity ceases to be.  This destroys the Christian understanding of the Triune God and the absolute Deity of Christ.

But in order to maintain an Investigative Judgment, you must have the doctrine of ” soul sleep”.  How can we have our reward in Christ if the judgment of our souls did not begin until 1844?  In having the absence of a “spirit”, we are left with a God that passes in and out of existence.  The dominoes topple a very long way from the original falsehood.  But when you understand the first Adventists believed that Jesus was a created being, just as Satan was, then all of this nonsense becomes easier to fit together.  They have left the initial Arian belief behind, but are laden with many remnants of this horrible heresy, including the teaching that Jesus is represented in scripture also as Michael the Archangel.  (Without believing in a human spirit, it is also impossible to understand what it means to be “born again.” – which is more the essence of what I will cover toward the end.)

As a Hebrew Roots follower, we also dismissed the resurrection, even though it had a place within the Israelite holy days!!  Three days after Passover we had the Feast of Firstfruits, with the obvious symbolism.  But did we acknowledge it?  Not as a group, and not in any of the various groups we attended.  I knew some individuals who had a quiet recognition of it at home (reading some rabbinic blessings) but the huge production of the season centered around Passover.   Not until we were delivered and saw the New Covenant did we realize this Firstfruits nearly always falls on the “Christian” Easter, unless it was a leap year on the Jewish calendar.  We could have honored it all along, but we didn’t.  Just as SDA’s hated Sunday and saw it as a symbol of false worship, likewise the HRM saw every Christian holiday as a thing to be avoided, even if it meant denying an Israelite festival we were claiming to observe!  (Our entire story is here on this blog starting with the page “There and Back Again.”)

Seeing the HUGE significance of the resurrection it becomes obvious why the enemy’s deceptions target this day for the  maximum minimization possible, not just through false beliefs, but more widely through secular, commercial distraction.  All these lessen the Person and work of Jesus Christ,  the aim of nearly every deception.  His resurrection is the proof for everything He claimed and performed in the past, and the hope for everything we have in Him for the future.

Very early in our new perspective of the covenants, I realized the significance of Sunday.  I saw that it was not the 1st day of the week, but the 8th day!  Woven throughout many of the Torah festivals and requirements you can see an 8th day motif.  It symbolized new birth, renewal, new life.  For Christ to rise from the dead on this day was the mark of the new order of things and the guarantee to every promise we have in our relationship to Him.

2 Corinthians 5:14-17  For the love of Christ controls us, because we have concluded this: that one has died for all, therefore all have died;  and he died for all, that those who live might no longer live for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised.  From now on, therefore, we regard no one according to the flesh. Even though we once regarded Christ according to the flesh, we regard him thus no longer. Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.

The old order proved you cannot change the heart from external mandates.  The old life must die and the new life must be put on, the very Life of Christ.  “Let this mind be IN you, which was in Christ Jesus…  ”  Unless we understand that from the moment of our new birth we are fundamentally different and made alive in Christ, we have no idea who we are or what is available to us.   Many who have experienced this as a spiritual reality are still trying to come to God under the old system of the outward methods to achieve holiness in their present walk.  In Christ, true transformation comes with laying down the dead self and putting on the risen Christ.   It’s a cycle of submission and renewal, not striving and failure.  In the areas where we are compelled to strive, we will be guaranteed to fail.  We all fall into this trap without even realizing it.  It’s our old man thinking it can help and do something in its own strength.  Even if our willpower musters up enough strength in some cases, the victory is still not in Christ, and we will take the credit.

Rom 7:6  But now we are released from the law, having died to that which held us captive, so that we serve in the new way of the Spirit and not in the old way of the written code.

So often I hear people quote Paul’s discussion immediately following the above verse.  He goes on to describe the struggle between the flesh and the Spirit; how we don’t do what we want to and do what we don’t want to.  But so many people stop there!  Paul answers his struggle with a solution!  Chapter 8 is a continuation of this thought.  Read this whole discussion together and see the awesome truth we have through our resurrection with Christ.

Romans 7:24-8:11   Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death?  Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I myself serve the law of God with my mind, but with my flesh I serve the law of sin.There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.  For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death. For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do. By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh, in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.  For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit.  For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace.  For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God’s law; indeed, it cannot.  Those who are in the flesh cannot please God.  You, however, are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if in fact the Spirit of God dwells in you. Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him.  But if Christ is in you, although the body is dead because of sin, the Spirit is life because of righteousness.   If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit who dwells in you.

Not only do we have a future hope, but a present deliverance!  Of course we fall, and of course we will not manifest this perfectly here in this life, but we are no longer slaves!!  We have a path to victory and a way out of addiction, shame, and the injury we often inflict on others through the service of our “self”.  We cannot use the old man as our excuse as so many do.  The flesh is a reason, but not an excuse.

We have our future hope, our present total justification and forgiveness, and thank God we now have the privilege of showing Jesus to others through our own lives, to the extent that we behold Him and become changed.

2 Corinthians 3:18  And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit.

This Easter let the reality of the resurrection move beyond an apologetic for the Christian faith and sink deep into our hearts and minds as a Living Faith for the here and now, as well as for the glorified life we will have with Him in the future.  Let us remember He is Risen Indeed, and He dwells with us and in us.  We do not have just the truth, we have the Person, and we are all in Him.

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