CONT., page 3
"THE CHURCH IN THE WILDERNESS"
If one wants to understand how the feasts relate to the church, or vice versa how the church relates to the feasts, then one must consider the correlation of the journeys of the children of Israel where the feasts began. It will be unfortunate if the reader has relatively no knowledge of the feasts established by Yahweh. If so, one will have to reach much further to assimilate information. But then on the other hand, one who already has firmly laid out his beliefs based upon a knowledge of the Israelites journeys, will have an even more difficult time seeing something different from what they have fixed in their mind. For you the novice, we must lay out some information, assuming that by the grace of Yahweh you can reach and obtain. Even for the more knowledgeable, because of limitations in space we will not be able to provide an exhaustive accounting of each and every item. The purpose of this next study is to extract from the big picture, thus necessitating that we not lose ourselves in too many details. With this said, let us now consider the feasts of Yahweh and the journeys of the Israelite children as they traveled to the promised land.
Paul aptly declared that these subject journeys happened as types of the church. In 1 Corinthians 10:6, after Paul referenced Moses and these Israelite journeys, he declared concerning them - "Now these things were types of us (literal translation)." And when Stephen gave his account before the Jewish leaders, noting the previous journeys of Moses and the sons of Israel, he referred to them as "the church in the wilderness" (lit. of Acts 7:38). And this is exactly what we have with this whole work of Yahweh to get the sons of Israel out of Egypt and into the promised land. They were a picture, or as Paul called them, a type of the church. Thus, if one wants to understand the course of the church, then simply look at this preceding illustrative type.
In the laws of Yahweh, there are three feasts that the Israelites were commanded to observe - Passover, Pentecost, and Tabernacles. "Three times a year you shall celebrate a feast to Me. You shall observe the Feast of Unleavened Bread (or, Passover); .... Also you shall observe the Feast of the Harvest (or, Pentecost) ...; also the Feast of the Ingathering (or, Tabernacles) ..." (Exodus 23:14-17). These are the feasts in which Yahweh orchestrated the entire journeys of the Israelites. This is most important to understand, especially when one sees that these ordained journeyings were a type or picture of what takes place in the course of the church! Even as the sons of Israel followed a pattern based upon the feasts in their journeying out of Egypt and into the promised land, so the church will follow the identical pattern. This is of great importance to note, and should be rather obvious, considering that the church began on Passover and Pentecost, the first two Israelite feasts. Let us now examine these most important historic events and see what we mean here.
The sons of Israel were led out of their bondage in Egypt immediately following the first ever Passover. Numbers 33:3 states - "on the next day after the Passover (i.e., Nisan 15, the first day of Unleavened Bread) the sons of Israel started out boldly in the sight of all the Egyptians." Thus Passover initiated their deliverance from bondage.
The next feast ordered by Yahweh was of course Pentecost. What happened to the children of Israel at the time of that feast? With the fifty day space required between the Sabbath during Unleavened Bread and Pentecost, this places Pentecost into the third month of the ceremonial calendar. We read that this is exactly when the sons of Israel reached Sinai - "In the third month after the sons of Israel had gone out of the land of Egypt, on that very day they came into the wilderness of Sinai" (Exodus 19:1). Verse three then tells us that Moses made His first trip up the mountain to converse with Yahweh. It was of course during this time that the sons of Israel received the Law of Yahweh - first verbally, spoken directly to all the people by Yahweh (Exodus 20), then later on tablets of stone which Moses brought down off the mountain (32:15-16). The Jews appropriately celebrate Pentecost as the giving of the Law, for so it was. The Laws of Yahweh were given to man during the time of Pentecost.
When Moses returned to the camp of the Israelites with the written law, 3,000 men were killed with the sword for their rebellion and sin (32:28). As poignant validation of this giving of the Law on Pentecost, we significantly find that the identical number of lives was subsequently added to the kingdom during the churchs initiating Pentecost (Acts 2:41). On the first Pentecost, 3,000 men were killed; on the first Pentecost in the kingdom of God, 3,000 souls were added to the kingdom. This identical number and the same timing confirm that the giving of the Law was at Pentecost.
What feast was next? Third and final - Tabernacles. Since the sons of Israel departed Egypt via Passover and received the Law during Pentecost, would it not be expected that the next important event involving Moses and the sons of Israel would be on Tabernacles? And this is precisely what we find.
Passover is on the fourteenth and runs through the twenty-first of the first month. Pentecost is day-specific (Sunday) versus being date-specific, as are all the rest of the feasts. Pentecost is fifty days after the Sabbath that occurs during Passover or Unleavened Bread, causing it to always fall on the first day of the week (Sunday) on any given date during the third month of Sivan. Finally, Tabernacles is equally date-specific, and is celebrated on the fifteenth through the twenty-second in the seventh month of Tishri. What happened on Tabernacles?
The first Tabernacles that the sons of Israel would have experienced would have occurred during the period of the construction of the tabernacle, its furniture, and all the associated utensils. This construction took place during the last six months of that first year, beginning sometime around Tabernacles in the seventh month. Exodus 40:17 specifically tells us - "Now it came about in the first month of the second year, on the first day of the month, that the tabernacle was erected." But let us continue reading to see what happened next.
We next read in Number 9:1f that, "in the first month of the second year after they had come out of the land of Egypt," Yahweh spoke to them, saying, "Now, let the sons of Israel observe the Passover at its appointed time." They observed the Passover on the fourteenth of Nisan as spoken by Yahweh. Then we read in Numbers 10:11f that "in the second year, in the second month, on the twentieth of the month" the cloud was lifted from over the tabernacle and the sons of Israel "moved out for the first time according to the commandment of Yahweh through Moses."
For the next thirty-seven years there are no specific dates provided for any account. The next dated event occurred in the first month of the fortieth year when the Israelites came to the wilderness of Zin, Miriam died, and Moses struck the rock twice (Numbers 20:1f). But, as we leave off from our last date of 2/20, we can project, at least for a short period of time, what events took place and when.
On 2/20 the sons of Israel departed for the wilderness of Paran (10:12). Several events occurred immediately thereafter as recorded in Numbers 11 and 12. This then brings us to Numbers 13 where from the wilderness of Paran, Moses sent twelve men to spy out the promised land. The twelve were there for forty days (vs. 25), and when they returned they brought with them "a single cluster of grapes; and they carried it on a pole between two men, with some of the pomegranates and the figs" (vs. 23).
Of course you know what happened next. The people listened to the evil report of ten of the spies, rejected the good report of the two, and with regard to the two, prepared to "stone them with stones" (14:10). Had it not been that the glory of Yahweh appeared in the tent of meeting, the two would indeed have been stoned. Since the people refused to enter into the promised land, Yahweh determined that they would be sent back into the wilderness for another thirty-eight years (Deuteronomy 2:14), for a total of forty years (Numbers 14:34).
Upon hearing this, the people mourned greatly, and tried on their own to enter the land. They were defeated, could not enter in, and during the next thirty-eight years all but Caleb, Joshua, and those under twenty years of age died in the wilderness.
When, we must ask, did the sons of Israel reject entering into the promised land? The last recorded date that we have was 2/20. We know the spies were in the promised land for forty days. And we know the people had to travel from Zin to Paran. And there were several events occurring during that time as well that are recorded in Numbers 11 and 12, including Miriams eight days required for her cleansing from leprosy. So, how much time had lapsed since 2/20? Two months, four months, or maybe six months? While we do not have specific dates to go by, there are events occurring during their time in the wilderness of Paran which provide substantial indication.
First, and very importantly, we see that the spies returned with a most important sampling from the promised land - a cluster of grapes. What does this tell us? It identifies the time of the year as being specifically during the grape harvest. One cannot harvest grapes just any time of the year, so it lets us know what time of the year this was. When were grapes harvested? Grapes were harvested precisely during Tabernacles!
All three feasts are actually timed with specific harvests. The first harvest to come in was the barley. The barley harvest was specifically at Passover. When the 5,000 were fed by Yahshua during Passover, it was five barley loaves that were divided (John 6:4-9). Barley and the harvest thereof is associated with Passover.
In Exodus 9:31-32 we read that the flax and barley were ruined by the hail, but the wheat and spelt were not ruined, because they ripen later. The barley ripened first, at Passover, then came the wheat, at Pentecost. In fact, Pentecost is also called "the Feast of the Harvest of the first fruits" (Exodus 23:16). What was the harvest some fifty days after the barley harvest? It was the wheat harvest. We find then that Pentecost was during the wheat harvest.
Likewise, Tabernacles was called "the Feast of the Ingathering." So what was being gathered in? The grains were already in, so this feast had to be associated with yet another very important crop, and that was the grapes. The evidence of this feast being associated specifically with the fruit of the vine bears out by the daily drink offerings or pouring out the fruit of the vine that is unique to Tabernacles (Numbers 29:12f). Tabernacles was thus clearly associated with the grape harvest.
So, when we see that the spies returned bearing this enormous cluster of grapes from a valley which they named Eschol, meaning cluster, obviously they were in the promised land in the seventh month, or at the time of Tabernacles and the associated grape harvest. This would have been a span of five months from the last reported date of 2/20, which is entirely likely given the recorded events.
Another important testimony that the sons of Israel rejected entering into the promised land during Tabernacles, is from the mere fact that everything that Yahweh had taken the sons of Israel through up to this point was based precisely on the timing of the feasts. As we have said, they departed Egypt via Passover, they received the Law during Pentecost, now we see that they came up to the land of promise on Tabernacles. This would complete the divine cycle of the Feasts of Yahweh - Passover, Pentecost, and Tabernacles.
Since the last date Yahweh provided was 2/20, we know that the Israelites rejection to enter into the promised land could in no way be during Pentecost. The spies were in the land for forty days alone. Just adding forty to 2/20 would place their return into the fourth month. Considering all the subsequent events which transpired, the very important testimony of the grapes, as well as the great importance of Yahwehs orchestration of their travels specifically on the feast schedule, there leaves little doubt that their rejection of Yahwehs offer to enter into the promised land was specifically at Tabernacles. (We will provide other important evidence to this Tabernacles entry later in this writing.)
To further validate this "feast related" timing, as well as to add great light on Yahwehs dealings with the church (keeping in mind that these journeyings of the sons of Israel were a picture of the church), let us examine specifically when the sons of Israel did finally enter into the promised land. It should be realized that if the promised land was rejected at Tabernacles, the entrance of the Israelites into that land on another feast day would be MOST significant and revealing! And in fact it is!
When did the sons of Israel finally enter into the promised land? This question needs no extrapolation to answer. We are specifically told in Joshua 4:19 that, "the people came up from the Jordan (crossing the Jordan River into the promised land) on the tenth of the first month." What is significant about that specific date? In Exodus 12:3 we read that this was precisely the date in which the Passover lamb was to be selected in preparation for Passover. Next we read that on the fourteenth, Passover was celebrated by the children of Israel (Joshua 5:10). So, clearly we see that having failed to enter into the promised land the previous time at Tabernacles, following another thirty-eight years of wandering in the wilderness, they finally did enter in at Passover. This Passover entrance is one more firm evidence that their first opportunity was equally at a feast, which had to have been Tabernacles.
There is something extraordinarily important about all of this. These things did not happen to no purpose. Solomon declared - "That which has been is that which will be, and that which has been done is that which will be done. So, there is nothing new under the sun" (Ecclesiastes 1:9). As we have noted, these events involving the sons of Israel as "the church in the wilderness," bear direct, and may we say again, bear direct evidence as to what must take place in the church. The question to be answered then is - What are these events telling us concerning the church? The answer to this question is highly important!
We can conclude by this revealing preluding testimony regarding the church, that though delivered out of "Egypt" by the power of a Passover, the church's Pentecost fails to be sufficient to bring them forthright into the promised land at Tabernacles. The children of Israel had had their Pentecost, but one and one-half years later, when coming to the place to receive their promise, their Pentecost experience was insufficient to carry them into their inheritance. Instead, they had to return to the wilderness until they all died off. This is EXACTLY what we have seen in the church! Read the following carefully and thoughtfully.
After Yahshua died as our Passover lamb, bringing forgiveness of sins and restoring the kingdom of God as a Nazirite, the disciples and converts received the Pentecost outpouring of the Holy Spirit fifty days latter, with the evidence of 3,000 souls being added to the kingdom. But, was this Pentecost experience sufficient to bring man into the "promised land"? No more than Pentecost almost 1,500 years earlier was sufficient to bring the preluding "church in the wilderness" into their promised land! Where do we specifically see this Tabernacles failure of the church to enter the promised land? In a most unique and highly important set of recorded events! Let us carefully consider the beginning church history.
Following Pentecost the church grew rapidly. The next accounting of souls in the kingdom was 5,000 (Acts 4:4). From there on we simply read - "And all the more believers in the Lord, multitudes of men and women, were constantly added to their number" (Acts 5:14). Many signs and wonders were being performed; they "were of one heart and soul; and not one of them claimed that anything belonging to him was his own; but all things were common property to them" (Acts 4:32). Great power and grace was upon them, and there was not a needy person among them. The unique nature of these beginning events was equally evidenced in that the entire beginning period was strictly limited to a Jerusalem experience (Acts 6:7). Those who wished to be a part came to Jerusalem, which in time fostered the complaint by some that the widows of the incoming Hellenistic Jews were being overlooked in their daily provision of food. This led to the selection of the seven to do, frankly, what the apostles should have been doing - that of serving tables. Once the seven were set up to do what the twelve should have done, only one brief verse later Stephen was drug before the Council. Chapter 7 of Acts records his defense. At the end of his testimony, the Jews drove him out of the city, and the false witnesses stoned him to death, their robes being laid "at the feet of a young man named Saul" (later to be Paul, the apostle).
When the stoning of Stephen occurred, this beginning church at Jerusalem, which had experienced an uninterrupted dramatic course of unifying events from its first day, immediately disintegrated! No longer was there the house to house experience they had known, no longer do we read of their passionate bond of holding all things in common, no longer was it passionately Jerusalem, but rather soon to be Antioch. What began in Jerusalem, was nurtured in Jerusalem, experienced and passionately felt in Jerusalem, came to a tragic end marked by one solitary pivotal event - the stoning of Stephen! Why? And not just why, but - when? Can we know when Stephen was stoned? To a great degree of probability - Yes!
Let us review again what transpired with the preluding "church in the wilderness" type or pattern. The Israelites received their Passover deliverance, even as did the church. They received their Pentecost, even as did the church. Finally, one and one-half years later they had their opportunity to enter into the promised land at Tabernacles, and failed. How about the church? Having followed the identical pattern laid out by the Israelites, why would we expect anything different for the church?
The preluding pattern with "the church in the wilderness" is most clear - despite an initiating Passover and even Pentecost experience, these are not sufficient to bring the church into their promised land at Tabernacles. The question before us then is - Did the church have a Tabernacles opportunity one and one-half years later to enter the promised land, and there fail? And the answer is - Yes!
Even as there were problems in the "church in the wilderness" between Pentecost and Tabernacles (Numbers 11 and 12), so there were problems between the churchs Pentecost and Tabernacles. First was Ananias and Sapphira. Their lying to the Holy Spirit was quickly dealt with. But another offense was not - separating the apostles apart as "clergy," and thus their unwillingness to serve the people in lowliness and humility as instructed by Yahshua (Luke 22:24-27). For this cause the church did not enter into Yahwehs promised land at that time.
When was the churchs own determining Tabernacles? By the pattern of the preluding "church in the wilderness," (1) we know it should have been one and one-half years after Pentecost. Equally, (2) as we saw in the wilderness, any rejection of the promised land should have been marked by a radical change in the direction of the church. And also, (3) it should have been a test between good and evil witnesses. This is precisely what happened with the stoning of Stephen. Once Stephen was stoned, the pure and passionate beginnings of the Jerusalem-based church were over. The church was soon led by the man at whose feet the false witnesses laid their robes.
And what did the false witnesses do to the one who bore the good testimony? They did to him what the people intended to do to Joshua and Caleb - they stoned him. What was cut short in the wilderness by the glory of Yahweh in the tent of meeting, was accomplished by the false witness against Stephen - they carried out the stoning. Stephen saw the promised land, as well as "the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God" (Acts 7:55), though the others failed to see. But on this occasion, the stoning was not to be halted. True to the original pattern, Stephen, the good witness, was undoubtedly stoned one and one-half years after Pentecost, once again specifically at Tabernacles. And equally true to the original pattern, the stoning of Stephen marked a radical change in the direction and experience of the church, including persecution and death.
Thus, even as "the church in the wilderness" was turned back to wander in the wilderness at Tabernacles, so the church began its period of wilderness wanderings at the stoning of Stephen at Tabernacles. While the "church in the wilderness" wandered there for forty years, the higher fulfillment of the church per se is not forty years but forty Jubilees, or 1,960 years. Therefore, the entirety of the church period thus far has been nothing more than one long and difficult wilderness wandering marked by death. How true this has been!
The vital questions thus remain:
When will the church enter into its promised land, and
What will its entrance bring?
The purpose of this writing is, of course, to consider the all importance of the Feast of Passover. We see in this highly important pattern of the church that Passover does in fact hold a most important place. "The church in the wilderness" began at Passover and entered into its promised land at Passover (having first experienced failure, though having experienced a Pentecost). And if we look closer at the Israelites and their bondage in Egypt, we find that this Passover initiating/Passover concluding pattern is actually a repeat of the identical pattern which the Israelites had JUST gone through, adding even greater credence and significance to this subject pattern. What do we mean by this? Let us see.
In Exodus 12:40-41 concerning the Israelite's exodus out of Egypt, we read:
Now the time that the sons of Israel lived in Egypt was four hundred and thirty years. And it came about at the end of four hundred and thirty years, to the very day, that all the hosts of Yahweh went out from the land of Egypt.
Did you notice the remarkably repetitive pattern here? Let us repeat a portion of that scripture quote - "And it came about at the end of four hundred and thirty years, to the very day, that all the hosts of Yahweh went out of the land of Egypt." What does this mean? It means that the Israelite's deliverance from Egypt was four hundred and thirty years PRECISELY TO THE DAY from when they went into Egypt; and based on this statement, that day was precisely the day immediately following Passover (even though the Feast of Passover had not even been set up at the time). In other words, to summarize this, the Israelites went into Egypt at Passover, and were delivered out of Egypt at Passover. This is the exact same pattern we see with the Israelites and their deliverance out of the wilderness - they went into the wilderness at Passover, and were delivered out of the wilderness at Passover. This is absolutely amazing! The patterns are identical! The latter wilderness experience is a repeat of the former Egypt experience. Obviously, there is a great deal to be learned from this Divine double pattern; but for now, let us add the true fulfillment of the pattern that so dramatically affects not only us today (since we live in the generation that will see the supreme fulfillment of these age developing patterns), but greatly impacts and will forever change all mankind.
The Israelites went into Egypt at Passover; and, were delivered out of Egypt at Passover
The Israelites went into the wilderness at Passover; and, were delivered out of the wilderness at Passover
Now the GREAT fulfillment!
The church received the kingdom of God in earthly flesh (bondage and wilderness) at Passover; and, the church will be delivered out of their bondage and wilderness in the flesh at Passover
Is there anyone who can question or who doubts the immense importance of an upcoming Passover? In light of this remarkably duplicated pattern, foreordained and established by Yahweh, the one GREAT event to look forward to in the near future is not some cataclysmic holocaust and wrathful persecution of Christians fabricated by deceived men and the deceiver Satan; but rather, the next GREAT event will be a Passover that will deliver the church from their bondage and wilderness death and wanderings!
Once again directing our attention to the more complete picture of "the church in the wilderness," we note that the church entered into the journey that it has been on for 2,000 years by the sacrifice of Yahshua on Passover. And though receiving its Pentecost, it too failed to enter into its promised land equally at Tabernacles at the stoning of Stephen. It too was then sent into the wilderness to wander for the remainder of its forty Jubilees. Now, in keeping with the pattern thus far followed, we can most surely anticipate that precisely at a Passover feast, Yahweh will bring the church into its promised land! Let us present a visual picture of this.
The Church - Based Upon "The Church In The Wilderness" Pattern
This important pattern gives us the answer as to when the church will enter into the promised land, and that is at the time of a Passover. It also shows us what the churchs experience has been for its tenure thus far - a wilderness of death following a Pentecost, and a failure to enter into the promised land at a Tabernacles. But we still have not explained what this "entering into the promised land" means for the church.
First, it must be noted that the churchs experience thus far is in no way what it is supposed to be or what it was called out to be, any more than "the church in the wilderness" was a representation of the promised land experience to which it was called out of Egypt to enter. Up to now the church has fulfilled "the church in the wilderness" experience. Therefore, one can in no wise expect that whatever this Passover experience brings us, it will in any way facilitate what the church has known for almost 2,000 years. Whatever Passover brings, it must totally and completely change the experience and the position of the church, even as a dramatic change took place in the church at the Tabernacles stoning of Stephen.
While many church people might take consolation and foster hope in this promised Passover, here is where a division is drawn. Christianity is a failure. It is fraught with immense weaknesses that have led to this failure, and they are based on two primary causes. First, Christianity is the kingdom of God, the holy things of God, placed into bodies that are of this cursed earth. This alone presents a very grave problem (equally proven by Adam)! The kingdom of God given to carnal man is a sorrowful mix of both the good of God and the evil of the flesh - good and evil - resulting in the defiling of the kingdom (equally proven by Adam). But even with this defiling good and evil of Christianity in earthly bodies, there is a second immense problem - Satan! Not only is the kingdom in the hands of defiled flesh, but Satan is present to purposefully effect the corruption of the kingdom. What chance in the world had the kingdom of God under these most unfavorable circumstances? None whatsoever! What must take place? The now defiled kingdom must be cleansed and the church brought into a state whereby the kingdom can be handled without its corruption. What will this take? Man must get out of these earthly bodies and be born from above. Up to now, this has not been accomplished, nor has it even been possible. Yahweh must take a people out of these earthly bodies and place them into incorruptible bodies that are born from above. This He will undoubtedly begin to accomplish on a Passover.
This is what it begins to mean for the church to enter into the promised land, to experience the ability to handle those things which Yahweh intended from the beginning - "He brought us out from there in order to bring us in" (Deuteronomy 6:23). And this requires something which Christianity has never been able to provide in substance - an imperishable, incorruptible body. Christianity can only offer a grave, the certain destiny for "the church in the wilderness." But Yahweh must perform a new work - the "promised land" work which He has planned from the beginning. This is the work which brings men into incorruptible, immortal life. This is the work which is not secured by the churchs initial Pentecost, but is entered via a Passover experience.
Do you see the pattern Yahweh has laid out in "the church in the wilderness," and do you see in this pattern the great importance that Passover holds? Passover is certainly the beginning point of the church 2,000 years ago; but most importantly, Passover is soon to be the churchs entrance into the victory of "born from above" immortal and incorruptible life! Not only can we look back to a Passover in which we take hope in what Yahshua accomplished for us as the Passover lamb (readPassover,the Promise for the First-born), but we can also look forward to a Passover in which we will enter into the "promised land" which He intended for us from the beginning! Thus we begin to see the great importance of the Passover feast, perking our interest as to what it might mean for the Holy Spirit to have this unusual contradiction doubled Passover at the time of Yahshuas crucifixion. Knowing how important Passover is to the church should rightly perk ones interests as to the significance and meaning of this most unusual doubling of the Passover! What, we ask again with even greater wonder, is the meaning of this message that the Holy Spirit has given us at Yahshuas crucifixion? Why would there be a double Passover (not literally, but in this unique way presented in the accounts of the gospels)?
We have returned to the question brought up at the beginning of this writing, but hopefully possessing now an even greater wonder regarding its answer, seeing the vital importance of the Feast of Passover to the church. Keep in mind, the unique doubling of Passover by the differing accounts in Matthew, Mark, and Luke, versus that in John, is entirely intentional! The Holy Spirit made absolutely no mistake in doing this, whereby He wishes to tell us something most important about the works and plans of Yahweh, if we will seek Him for its answer. The question once again is - What is the Holy Spirit saying to us through this doubling of Passover?
Continue to page 4 of Passover forDOUBLING PASSOVER
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