Friday, April 27, 2012

Is Yeshua (Jesus) a False Prophet According to the Scriptures?


This is an accusation posed by many Jewish apologists, or anti-missionaries, since the 2nd century.  The question of the validity of Yeshua’s claim to be the Messiah of Israel is less based on the scriptures themselves, than on traditional Christian doctrines that are supposedly based on those scriptures.  These doctrines which claim, among other things, that Yeshua “fulfilled” the law, so the law is now done away with.  That through His crucifixion, He has “set us free” from the law and we are under no obligation to keep it; that the commandments of the Old Testament have been replaced with the commandments of the New Testament.  So how do we answer this question in such a way that satisfies the Jewish apologist and maintains the integrity and consistency of the entire body of scripture? 

The first thing that we must realize is that all of scripture, from Genesis to Revelation is the word of God.  And that all the scriptures must be self consistent and all doctrinal teachings of the Church must be inline with them.  For example, if a doctrine or teaching is consistent with one part of the scriptures, say the words of Paul the Apostle in the New Testament, those same doctrines and teachings must also be consistent with the words of Moses the deliverer in the Old Testament.  The basic problem and reason for the development of contradictory doctrine is the failure to understand the important Jewish or Hebraic concepts which are transmitted to us in the Greek language of the New Testament writings; a language foreign in every way to the language, culture and religious concepts of the Jewish people and therefore to the 1st century disciples and to Yeshua Himself.

Essentially what we have in the Greek New Testament are foreign concepts being transmitted in a language that does not best translate the same religious and cultural concepts.  As an example and guide to understanding the Greek New Testament we refer to the Septuagint, the third century BCE Greek translation of the Jewish scriptures.  In the Septuagint we have a guide as to what Greek words are used to translate the Hebrew original.  By carefully examining the chosen words, we can then examine the Greek New Testament to derive the true meaning of the teachings of Paul and the rest of the writers of the New Testament and ascertain their Hebrew cultural perspective and understanding.

So let’s try to answer the question of Yeshua being a false prophet by examining the scriptures using this premise.

Deuteronomy 12:32 NKJV 32 "Whatever I command you, be careful to observe it; you shall not add to it nor take away from it.

We are not to create new commandments, nor are we to cancel out any existing commandments. What is a commandment?  When we think of a commandment, we tend to think of something akin to a hard and fast law or rule that is not to be breached in any way.  This is true, but in the Hebrew there is a slightly different but all too important difference in the definition.  The Hebrew word translated most often as commandment is מצוה pronounced mitzvah.  It is defined in the Strong’s as:

#4687.  מצוה  mitsvah,  mits-vaw' from 6680; a command, whether human or divine (collectively, the Law):--(which was) commanded(-ment), law, ordinance, precept.

#6680.  צוה  tsavah,  tsaw-vaw' a primitive root; (intensively) to constitute, enjoin:--appoint, (for-)bid, (give a) charge, (give a, give in, send with) command(-er, -ment), send a messenger, put, (set) in order.

The concept of mitzvah in the Hebrew mindset would be better understood if it were translated as precept, ordinance or good works as defined in the Jewish Encyclopedia.

A false prophet would be one who takes away or adds to God’s word, or commandments. But from the early 2nd century onward, the Gentile (Greek and Roman) followers of Yeshua have done exactly that!  A central doctrine of mainstream Christianity since the 2nd century is that Yeshua has set us “free” so we are no longer obligated to follow the commandments (Torah or Law).  Christians generally equate following the commandments as defined in the Torah to be “legalism.”  This stems from the belief that Jewish theology teaches that in following the commandments one will achieve salvation. This is not the case and never has been.  We misunderstand this because of our misunderstanding of the Hebrew concepts being transmitted by the use of the Greek language that is foreign to the original Hebraic religious concepts.  In this way, from a Jewish theological perspective, Christianity has been guilty of taking away from God’s word.  We selectively uphold certain commandments, or precepts/ordinances contained in the Torah and totally dismiss others, all to suit our preconceived, long standing ideas, customs and doctrines.  When we present a teaching that Yeshua “fulfilled” the law, that is the commandments of the Torah, and as a result of this fulfillment, we do not have to keep those same commandments, then we are presenting to the Jewish people and to the entire world, by Biblical definition, a false prophet!  Naturally the Jews will reject Yeshua as so presented, because we show them a Messiah who violates Torah, the very word of God!

In Christendom, we have a Bible which we believe to be the Word of God. In it, is the entirety of the Jewish scripture known as the Tanakh.  The Tanakh is made up of three parts: The Torah, which is the first 5 books of Moses, the prophets and the writings.  If we believe that it, what we call the Old Testament, along with the New Testament, Matthew to Revelation is, in its entirety, all the Word of God, then why do we reject or ignore the major part of its teaching?  And when reading the story of the exodus of the Children of Israel from the bondage of Egypt, it is central to note this very important point: The Torah (Law) was not given to them while still in Egypt, in bondage and slavery, but was given to them AFTER they were redeemed from their bondage! AFTER they passed through the waters (a kind of baptism) of the Red Sea!  The Torah, the commandments, were given to a people already redeemed!

So what is this Torah (law)? Torah, in Hebrew means precept or statute:

#8451.  תורה  towrah,  to-raw' or torah {to-raw'}; from 3384; a precept or statute, especially the Decalogue or Pentateuch:--law.

It is derived from another Hebrew word, which means to flow as water.  When used as an archery term it means to shoot.  It also means to point out or to teach:

#3384.  ירה  yarah,  yaw-raw' or (2 Chr. 26:15) yara; {yaw-raw'}; a primitive root; properly, to flow as water (i.e. to rain); transitively, to lay or throw (especially an arrow, i.e. to shoot); figuratively, to point out (as if by aiming the finger), to teach:--(+) archer, cast, direct, inform, instruct, lay, shew, shoot, teach(-er,-ing), through.

You can think of the Torah as divine instruction or teaching from God.

Sin comes from another Hebrew word, chattah which means to “miss the mark.”

The Torah is not a way to achieve salvation, but is a set of instructions, precepts or teachings in righteousness.  It is God’s divine instruction on how to live a sanctified life after salvation has already occurred!  It is how we are to live out our lives before the one true God AFTER He has redeemed us from our slavery to sin!  It is how we can draw near to Him, have a relationship with Him and be holy as He is holy.  What then, are we to do with this Torah?  We are to keep it, of course!  Yeshua set the example and showed us the way, the truth and the life!  Remember what He said in John 14:15

John 14:15 NKJV 15 "If you love Me, keep My commandments."

So the natural question is, what are His commandments?  To discover what His commandments are, we need to look no further than the entire passage in John 14 beginning in verse 7, through verse 21.

John 14:7-21 NKJV 7 "If you had known Me, you would have known My Father also; and from now on you know Him and have seen Him." 8 Philip said to Him, "Lord, show us the Father, and it is sufficient for us." 9 Jesus said to him, "Have I been with you so long, and yet you have not known Me, Philip? He who has seen Me has seen the Father; so how can you say, 'Show us the Father'? 10 "Do you not believe that I am in the Father, and the Father in Me? The words that I speak to you I do not speak on My own authority; but the Father who dwells in Me does the works. 11 "Believe Me that I am in the Father and the Father in Me, or else believe Me for the sake of the works themselves. 12 "Most assuredly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do he will do also; and greater works than these he will do, because I go to My Father. 13 "And whatever you ask in My name, that I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. 14 "If you ask anything in My name, I will do it. 15 "If you love Me, keep My commandments. 16 "And I will pray the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may abide with you forever-- 17 "the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees Him nor knows Him; but you know Him, for He dwells with you and will be in you. 18 "I will not leave you orphans; I will come to you. 19 "A little while longer and the world will see Me no more, but you will see Me. Because I live, you will live also. 20 "At that day you will know that I am in My Father, and you in Me, and I in you. 21 "He who has My commandments and keeps them, it is he who loves Me. And he who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and manifest Myself to him."

Right off the bat in this passage Yeshua is stating that He and the Father speak as one. Yeshua and the Father are of one mind and one purpose.  They are literally one!  The Hebrew word is echad:

#259.  אחד  'echad,  ekh-awd'  The Hebrew concept of this word is a combination of a plural and singular form.  You could think of this concept as a kind of “composite unity”.

Yeshua said in verse 7, “If you had known Me, you would have known My Father also”.  In verse 10 He states that His words are not His own but are the words of the Father.  If His words are not His own but are the words of the Father, then His commandments are the commandments of the Father!  Just look again at verse 21.  Yet there are many people, when looking at the commandments of Yeshua, will look no further than Gospel passages such as that found in Matthew 22:34-40 or the parallel passage in Mark 12.

Matthew 22:34-40 NKJV 34 But when the Pharisees heard that He had silenced the Sadducees, they gathered together. 35 Then one of them, a lawyer, asked Him a question, testing Him, and saying, 36 "Teacher, which is the great commandment in the law?" 37 Jesus said to him," 'You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.' 38 "This is the first and great commandment. 39 "And the second is like it: 'You shall love your neighbor as yourself.' 40 "On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets."

Here Yeshua is quoting a passage of scripture that is commonly known as the “Shema”.  It is a central teaching in Judaism and a part of a prayer recited everyday by every observant Jew, both in Yeshua’s day and to this day as well.  It is found in Deuteronomy 6:4-9 and Leviticus 19:18.

Deuteronomy 6:4-9 NKJV 4 "Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one! 5 "You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength. 6 "And these words which I command you today shall be in your heart. 7 "You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up. 8 "You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. 9 "You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.

Leviticus 19:18 NKJV 18 'You shall not take vengeance, nor bear any grudge against the children of your people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself: I am the LORD.

Yeshua said in verse 40 of Matthew 22 above, “On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets.” The primary misunderstanding here is that Yeshua was not expounding His own “new” commandments with this statement, but what He was doing was giving a summation of the entire Torah.  He did this on other occasions as well, such as that found in Matthew 7:12

Matthew 7:12 NKJV 12 "Therefore, whatever you want men to do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets.

In the opening chapter of the Gospel of John, it is clear that Yeshua and the Father are one.  Again think of the Hebrew concept of echad.  The Apostle John writes that Yeshua was with the Father in the beginning, from the foundation of the world!

John 1:1-14 NKJV 1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was in the beginning with God. 3 All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made. 4 In Him was life, and the life was the light of men. 5 And the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it. 6 There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. 7 This man came for a witness, to bear witness of the Light, that all through him might believe. 8 He was not that Light, but was sent to bear witness of that Light. 9 That was the true Light which gives light to every man coming into the world. 10 He was in the world, and the world was made through Him, and the world did not know Him. 11 He came to His own, and His own did not receive Him. 12 But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name: 13 who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God. 14 And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.

Yeshua IS the living Word of God!  He IS the commandments!  Never once in the New Testament is it recorded that Yeshua taught His disciples to abandon any of the Torah or commandments.  What He fought against was the common practice by the Jewish leaders of adding to the commandments with extra burdens and requirements not found in scripture.  He lived and breathed the Torah day in and day out.  The early believers were keepers of the commandments, just as Yeshua and the Disciples taught them.  This is shown in the Book of Acts where Paul is speaking before the Apostles in Jerusalem.

Acts 21:18-20 NKJV 18 On the following day Paul went in with us to James, and all the elders were present. 19 When he had greeted them, he told in detail those things which God had done among the Gentiles through his ministry. 20 And when they heard it, they glorified the Lord. And they said to him, "You see, brother, how many myriads of Jews there are who have believed, and they are all zealous for the law;

And they were “all zealous for the law (Torah)!”  WOW!  Now if Yeshua had taught His disciples to disregard any of the commandments, then He could not possibly have been the Messiah and the Son of God!  Such actions and teaching would have made Him a liar and a false prophet as defined in the Torah, the Word of God itself.  Something to think about isn’t it?

שלום ברוך
Shalom and Be Blessed
Dan & Brenda Cathcart

Visit our web site at www.moedministries.com

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

The Cycle of the Moon and the Generations of Israel

Unlike our modern or Gregorian calendar, the traditional Biblical calendar is a combination of lunar and solar calculations; the Gregorian being strictly solar.  The months on the Biblical calendar begin at the New moon and the annual cycle of festivals are timed with the waxing and waning lunar cycle.  At the new moon, with only a sliver showing above the Western horizon just after sunset, the light reflected by the moon is weak.  But at the full moon, at mid month, the 15th day on the Biblical calendar, the light of the moon is strong and bright enough to see clearly and perhaps read by.

This lunar cycle, from one new moon to the next, is approx 30 days in length.  But did you know that the lunar cycle, the reflection of physical light has a spiritual parallel in the nation of Israel?  The moon reflects the physical light of the sun, and the nation of Israel reflects the spiritual light from God!  It says in Isaiah:

Isaiah 49:6 NKJV 6 Indeed He (the LORD) says, 'It is too small a thing that You should be My Servant To raise up the tribes of Jacob, And to restore the preserved ones of Israel; I will also give You as a light to the Gentiles, That You should be My salvation to the ends of the earth.'"

The nation of Israel was to reflect the spiritual light of God to the Gentile nations of the world.  They were to be a holy, or a set apart, nation of priests.

Exodus 19:6 NKJV 6 'And you shall be to Me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.' These are the words which you shall speak to the children of Israel."

Just as the new moon holds the promise of the greater light of the full moon, also the generations of the nation of Israel beginning with Abraham, to whom the promise was given, reflect the greater light of God yet to come.

These are the generations of the nation of Israel in the days of their glory when the LORD dwelt among them in the land that He had prepared for them.  Just as there are 15 days from the first light of the new moon to the full moon, beginning with the promise to Abraham, there are 15 generations to the “full light,” culminating with the construction of the Temple built by Solomon in Jerusalem, the place of God’s choosing.  These generations are Abraham, Isaac, Jacob (Israel), Judah, Perez, Hezron, Ram, Amminadab, Nashon, Salmon, Boaz, Obed, Jesse, David and Solomon.

David purchased the thrashing floor of Ornan the Jebusite:

1 Chronicles 21:18 NKJV 18 Therefore, the angel of the LORD commanded Gad to say to David that David should go and erect an altar to the LORD on the threshing floor of Ornan the Jebusite.

David’s son Solomon, built the Temple, the “House of God” on the very same site:

2 Chronicles 3:1 NKJV 1 Now Solomon began to build the house of the LORD at Jerusalem on Mount Moriah, where the LORD had appeared to his father David, at the place that David had prepared on the threshing floor of Ornan the Jebusite.

The full light had come to the world.  The nation of Israel was at its peak.  Jerusalem was referred to as “the Light of the World,” and rightly so.  During the Feast of Tabernacles in the fall, which begins on the 15th day of the month of Tishri at the full moon, Jerusalem and the temple are crowded with pilgrims and worshipers from all over Judea, Samaria and from as far away as those who were able could travel.  It is recorded in the Talmud as well as in the writings of Josephus and other historical sources, that during the Feast of Tabernacles, the Temple was brightly lit by gigantic oil lamps on 70 foot high poles.  The Temple was on a hill and Jerusalem itself being several thousand feet in elevation, the light from these lamps could be seen for miles around and for several hundred miles out in the Mediterranean Sea!  One could travel by night at this time with the full moon lighting the path and the light emanating from the Temple giving direction.

Just as the moon is full on the 15th day of the month so, too, was the spiritual light “full” at the 15th generation from the promise to Abraham.  But even so, the waning moon is just a day away.  The light begins to diminish as the moon continues its path to darkness.  And the spiritual light of the nation of Israel after Solomon, who was not entirely a good king himself, began to diminish and eventually go out all together.

These are the generations of the Kings of Judah, the Kings who presided over Jerusalem during the waning light of the chosen nation.  After Solomon, there was Rehoboam, Abijah, Asa, Jehosaphat, Jehoram, Ahaziah, Joash, Amaziah, Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz, Hezekiah, Manasseh, Amon and Josiah.  Rehoboam was the first in a series of truly bad kings, who embraced idolatry and caused the people to sin and turn away from their God.

Josiah was the last good king; the last sliver of light to shine in the nation of Israel before the light was gone.  Just as the 30 days of the lunar cycle reflects the greater light of the sun, so too with the nation of Israel, the 30 generations from Abraham to Josiah, a single blood line, reflect the waxing and waning spiritual light of God in the land of Israel!

Following Josiah, over the next 32 years, there was a succession of four exceedingly bad kings.  Spiritual darkness had truly come to the land of Israel.  It was during this time the presence of the LORD left the Temple as recorded in Ezekiel chapters 6 through 11.  The people were killed or enslaved and taken captive to Babylon.  The Temple was completely looted of its treasure and the remaining kings of Judah served only as vassals of Babylon with the Temple itself eventually destroyed.

But the story does not end there.  In Biblical times, the beginning of the months were not determined by calculation as they are today, but the new month was declared by the 70 elders of the Sanhedrin at the sighting of the new moon in Jerusalem.  The sighting of the new moon was a greatly anticipated event each month and was especially anticipated at the Feast of Trumpets, what we know today as Rosh Hashanah.  The Feast of Trumpets is the only Feast of the LORD to take place on the new moon, at the very beginning of the month.  As such, no one knew the exact day or hour that the new moon would be sighted to announce the beginning of the new month and therefore the Feast of Trumpets!  Everyone saw the moon go dark at the end of the last cycle.  The question was, would the new moon be sighted tomorrow night at sunset or the following night at sunset? 

The Feast of Trumpets was also a High Sabbath, a day that is celebrated as a Sabbath regardless of which day of the week it fell on.  A Sabbath requires a great deal of preparation.  All food to be consumed on a Sabbath day had to be prepared ahead of time.  All work had to be completed before the beginning of the Sabbath at local sunset.  But this Sabbath was a special High Sabbath, it was a Feast of the LORD.  Special offerings and sacrifices were to be prepared for the Temple services on this day and a special blowing of the shofar was to take place to announce the beginning of the Feast.  The Shofar was blown at every feast and new moon:

Psalms 81:3 NKJV 3 Blow the trumpet at the time of the New Moon, At the full moon, on our solemn feast day.

But for the Feast of Trumpets, the Shofar was to be blown 100 times with the last blast, the 100th being called the “last trumpet!”

Everyone was watching and waiting, preparing and anticipating this special High Sabbath and Feast of the LORD, but when did it begin?  Would the new moon be sighted tonight?  If not then all the preparation would have to be done all over again the next day in anticipation of the sighting of the new moon the next night.  No one knew the day or hour when the new moon would be sighted or exactly when this Feast would begin.  Does all this sound familiar?  It should!  Rabbi Shaul, or better known to most of us as the Apostle Paul, wrote in 1st Corinthians:

1 Corinthians 15:51-52 NKJV 51 Behold, I tell you a mystery: We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed-- 52 in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.

And recorded in the Gospel of Matthew are Yeshua’s own words at the end of the parable of the 10 virgins:

Matthew 25:13 NKJV 13 "Watch therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour in which the Son of Man is coming.

The Apostle Paul, as well as Yeshua Himself were telling us that Yeshua’s return will be at the Feast of Trumpets!  The terminology they were using placed this future event squarely at the Feast of Trumpets!  Yeshua would return at the blowing of the shofar; at the “last trumpet!”  And so, like the wise virgins of the parable, we are to be watching and waiting His return, preparing and anticipating this announcement of the return of the “Light of the World!”  Along with the Feast of Trumpets, we will not know the exact day and hour of His return.  Neither do we know what year He will return, but when we understand the context of these important scriptures, we can know the season of His return and be prepared and waiting!

The Biblical calendar and the annual cycle of Feasts are God’s timetable of His redemption plan for all mankind, both Jew and Gentile alike.  Just as the cycle of the moon waxes and wanes, there remains the promise and assurance of the new moon to soon follow.  The nation of Israel will once again rise from the dust of history to fulfill her role in the timetable of God.  Just as it is foretold by the prophets, Israel will be the “Light of the World” and a “Nation of Priests.”  We are seeing these ancient prophesies fulfilled in our generation!  In 1948, we saw the nation of Israel return to the land once again, and the great exodus continues today.  The spiritual rebirth of the nation of Israel will soon occur.  Although we live in a time of spiritual darkness, we can watch with anticipation for the rising of the “new moon.”  For the LORD spoke these words through the prophet Isaiah:

Isaiah 66:22-23 JPG  22 For as the new heavens and the new earth which I will make stand before Me, states Yahovah, so shall your seed and your name stand.  23 And it will be from new moon to its (His) new moon, and from Sabbath to its (His) Sabbath, all flesh shall come to worship before Me, says Yahovah.

And also from Isaiah:

Isaiah 46:10 NKJV 10 Declaring the end from the beginning, And from ancient times things that are not yet done, Saying, 'My counsel shall stand, And I will do all My pleasure,'

שלום ברוך
Shalom and be blessed
Dan & Brenda Cathcart

Please Visit our web site at www.moedministries.com

Saturday, April 7, 2012

What Does the Feast of Firstfruits Mean to You?

This Feast of First Fruits begins at local sunset Saturday April 7th through sunset April 8th.  It just so happens, through the mathematics of calendar calculation, that it is also the traditional Easter.  In the year of Yeshua’s crucifixion, He rose from the dead on the Feast of Fruits.  The day after the weekly Sabbath which falls in the midst of the Feast of Unleavened Bread!

Leviticus 23:9-11 NKJV 9 And the LORD spoke to Moses, saying, 10 "Speak to the children of Israel, and say to them: 'When you come into the land which I give to you, and reap its harvest, then you shall bring a sheaf of the firstfruits of your harvest to the priest. 11 'He shall wave the sheaf before the LORD, to be accepted on your behalf; on the day after the Sabbath the priest shall wave it.

God told the children of Israel to observe this feast once they came into the Promised Land. They began their journey with the Passover, the death of the firstborn of Egypt, leaving Egypt in haste. They continued their journey through the Red Sea and into the wilderness. But throughout the journey, the goal was always the Promised Land.

Exodus 6:8 NKJV 8 'And I will bring you into the land which I swore to give to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob; and I will give it to you as a heritage: I am the LORD.'"

I began my journey when I put the blood of Yeshua, my Passover Lamb, on the doorposts and lintels of my heart. My journey continued with the Feast of Unleavened Bread as I crossed the Red Sea leaving behind my Egypt, the sin nature that leads to death. My goal is eternity with God the Father and Yeshua His Son. 

When the children of Israel came into the Land, they observed the Feast of Firstfruits as a reminder that God is the one who brought them into the Land. God is the one who blessed them with fruit of the Land, a Land flowing with milk and honey. As they brought their firstfruit offerings to the LORD, they were to declare God’s fulfillment of the promise.

Deuteronomy 26:3 NKJV 3 "And you shall go to the one who is priest in those days, and say to him, 'I declare today to the LORD your God that I have come to the country which the LORD swore to our fathers to give us.'

As we read this verse, a couple of things stand out. This declaration is made to the priest and God is spoken of as “your God” not “my God.” What is going on with this? Isn’t God the God of the one bringing the offering as well as the God of the priest? As we look at this declaration as prophecy, it becomes clear. One day we will stand before Yeshua, our High Priest, with our firstfruit offerings and make this declaration to Him. We are declaring to the LORD, Yeshua’s God, through Yeshua, that we have come to the eternal country He has promised us.

Yeshua Himself showed us the way. He rose from the dead on the Feast of Firstfruits and presented Himself to the Father bringing His offering of firstfruits. When Yeshua died, the graves of many righteous people opened and they went into Jerusalem.

Matthew 27:52-53 NKJV 52 and the graves were opened; and many bodies of the saints who had fallen asleep were raised; 53 and coming out of the graves after His resurrection, they went into the holy city and appeared to many.

I believe that these righteous people were Yeshua’s firstfruits offering to God. When He rose from the dead He spoke with Mary and told her not to touch Him because He had not yet ascended to the Father.

John 20:17 NKJV 17 Jesus said to her, "Do not cling to Me, for I have not yet ascended to My Father; but go to My brethren and say to them, 'I am ascending to My Father and your Father, and to My God and your God.'"

Yeshua did not immediately appear to the rest of the disciples. After appearing to Mary and some of the other women, He met two of the disciples on the road to Emmaus later in the day and then appeared to the eleven remaining apostles in the upper room. Where was He all this time? I believe He ascended to the Father with the resurrected saints at the time the high priest in the temple lifted and waved the firstfruit of the grain offering before God.

When Yeshua appeared before the eleven, He encouraged them to touch Him and feel that He was real.

Luke 24:39 NKJV 39 "Behold My hands and My feet, that it is I Myself. Handle Me and see, for a spirit does not have flesh and bones as you see I have."

Paul tells us that Yeshua is the firstfruits of the resurrection and that we have the promise of the resurrection as well in the proper order.

1 Corinthians 15:22-23 NKJV 22 For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ all shall be made alive. 23 But each one in his own order: Christ the firstfruits, afterward those who are Christ's at His coming.

The instructions in Leviticus for observing the Feast of Firstfruits go on to say that none of the grain of harvest is to be eaten until after the firstfruits offering is made.

Leviticus 23:14 NKJV 14 'You shall eat neither bread nor parched grain nor fresh grain until the same day that you have brought an offering to your God; it shall be a statute forever throughout your generations in all your dwellings.

We can’t eat of the new life until Yeshua brings the offering of firstfruits. This is a statute forever.

What does the Feast of Firstfruits mean to me? Because of Yeshua’s resurrection, I am confident of the resurrection of the dead some to new life others to condemnation and the second death. Because of Yeshua’s offering of the firstfruits, the whole harvest is acceptable. I am confident that as a believer in Yeshua as my Lord and savior that I will experience the resurrection into new life. In my travels through the wilderness of this life, I know my destination. In the words of a familiar song from the 1970’s, “Because He lives, I can face tomorrow, because He lives, all fear is gone; because I know He holds the future, and life is worth the living just because He lives.”

What does the Feast of Firstfruits mean to you?

He shall wave the sheaf before the LORD, to be accepted on your behalf

שלום ברוך
Shalom and be blessed
Dan and Brenda Cathcart

Please visit our web site at www.moedministries.com

Friday, April 6, 2012

What Does the Feast of Unleavened Bread Mean to You?


Today, at local sunset, April 6th 2012 begins Nissan 15 on the Biblical calendar and the first day of the feast of Unleavened Bread.

Exodus 12:17 NASB 17 'You shall also observe the Feast of Unleavened Bread, for on this very day I brought your hosts out of the land of Egypt; therefore you shall observe this day throughout your generations as a permanent ordinance.

God told the children of Israel that they were to observe the Feast of Unleavened Bread because He brought them out of Egypt. What is the connection between unleavened bread and Egypt? Egypt is the land where Pharaoh held them in slavery and God had just delivered them from that slavery. They were now free to go into the wilderness and worship Him. From there, God promised to bring them into the Land promised to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.

Slavery in Egypt represents our slavery to sin. Paul tells us that leaven also represents sin in our lives. So fleeing from Egypt and eating unleavened bread both remind us of Yeshua’s sacrifice as our Passover Lamb freeing us from our lives of sin.

1 Corinthians 5:7-8 NASB 7 Clean out the old leaven, that you may be a new lump, just as you are in fact unleavened. For Christ our Passover also has been sacrificed. 8 Let us therefore celebrate the feast, not with old leaven, nor with the leaven of malice and wickedness, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.

When the children of Israel left Egypt, they did so in haste. They took their bread which hadn’t had time to leaven and traveled to Succoth and there they baked unleavened bread. The name Succoth means a tent or temporary dwelling place. When God redeems us, we are to quickly leave our lives of sin not waiting for sin to seep back into our lives. Here on this earth we are to dwell in the temporary dwelling places of our flesh and keep sin out of our lives. But we have the promise of an eternal body.

2 Corinthians 5:1 NIV 1 Now we know that if the earthly tent we live in is destroyed, we have a building from God, an eternal house in heaven, not built by human hands.

When Yeshua died and they laid His body in the grave, it did not decay. Unleavened bread is a substance that does not decay. David wrote of the hope he had that his flesh would not remain in the grave because God would not allow His Holy One to decay.

Psalms 16:9-10 NKJV 9 Therefore my heart is glad, and my glory rejoices; My flesh also will rest in hope. 10 For You will not leave my soul in Sheol, Nor will You allow Your Holy One to see corruption.

Peter writes of the hope we have in Yeshua.

1 Peter 1:3 NKJV 3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His abundant mercy has begotten us again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead,

What does the Feast of Unleavened Bread mean to me? By eating unleavened bread during the Feast of Unleavened Bread, I remember that Yeshua died to take away my sins; that I am to live a life according to the Spirit not according to the sinful nature of the flesh. By removing the leaven from my house, I realize the enormous task of getting all the sin out of my life. Just when I think I have it licked, the Holy Spirit reveals one more thing I need to work on! I remember that every day anew, He delivers me from the imperfections of my life as I in turn flee from the desires of the flesh.  Finally, I reflect on the hope I have through Yeshua of an eternal incorruptible body.

What does the Feast of Unleavened Bread Mean to you?

…for on this very day I brought your hosts out of the land of Egypt.


שלום ברוך
Shalom and be blessed
Dan & Brenda Cathcart

Please visit our web site at www.moedministries.com

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Reason Three to Celebrate Passover

This essay is an excerpt from our book titled “Reasons for Christians to Celebrate the Biblical Feasts.”  It is available from amazon.com, barnesandnoble .com, other book retailers as well as from our own web site at www.moedministries.com.

When we talk about celebrating Passover, we think of the Passover meal or Seder. The Passover meal is the time when the story of the Exodus is told. It is the story of God remembering His covenant with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. It is the story of God’s judgment on the gods of Egypt. It is the story of God’s redemption. It is the story of the Patriarch Joseph’s empty grave. It is the story of crossing the Red Sea. The story of Passover began before the actual day of Passover and extended until they safely crossed the Red Sea.

Likewise the observance of Passover begins days before the actual Passover Seder. In fact, the Passover meal or Seder is the last thing that happens on the day of Passover. Jesus celebrated His final Passover with His disciples one day early, though. He knew that on the actual day of Passover, He would be the Passover lamb for the world. He celebrated the Passover Seder early to pass on instructions to the disciples about the changed but continued observance of the events of Passover. In fact, the observance of His last Passover Seder wasn’t the most important event of those days, but it pointed to those events. What are those events leading up to Passover?

Before Passover those observing the Passover chose a lamb. They examined the lamb carefully to be sure it was without blemish. The Hebrew word for the phrase without blemish is tamiym which also refers to a morally upright character.  Jesus presented Himself to the temple on the fourth day before Passover. He submitted to the questions of the Pharisees, Sadduccess, Scribes and Herodians. They all questioned Him and could find no fault with Him.

Those observing they had to clean out their houses and make sure there was no leaven. Jesus cleaned His house as well. He went to the temple, the house of His Father, and cleaned house by driving out the crooked moneylenders and merchants that cheated the pilgrims who came up to Jerusalem for the Feast.

The Passover lambs had to be bound to a stake, taken before the altar and slain. The priests caught the blood and poured it out at the foot of the altar. This all began at 9:00 a.m. or the third hour. Jesus was bound to His stake at the third hour. The sacrifices went on all day long until the hour of the evening sacrifice the ninth hour or 3:00 p.m. At that time, the high priest slays the last Passover lamb and states, “It is finished.” On that Particular Passover, darkness covered the land from the sixth until the ninth hour. At the ninth hour, Jesus cried out, “It is finished,” and yielded up His spirit.

At His last Passover meal, Jesus gave instructions to remember Him during this meal that is all about remembrance. Like the story of the Exodus, the telling doesn’t stop with the slaying of the Passover Lamb; it continues into the days following. It continues through His burial as the Feast of Unleavened bread begins. It continues three days later when He rose from the dead which just happened in that year to be the Feast of Firstfruits.

We can observe the Passover by telling this story. Telling the story of the Passover of Jesus’ death which just happened to parallel exactly the events at the temple. Telling the story of His burial as the Feast of Unleavened Bread begins. Telling the story of His resurrection on the Feast of Firstfruits. Telling the story of the Promise of our own glorified bodies represented by the seven days of the Feast of Unleavened Bread.  We can tell the story as we go through the Passover Seder telling the story of the first redemption  and letting it add meaning and significance to the second redemption.

Let’s not diminish His sacrifice by failing to recognize all the prophecies fulfilled in those days. Our God is great and mighty doing marvelous works. Let’s proclaim them all!

Psalms 118:26-29 NKJV 26 Blessed is he who comes in the name of the LORD! We have blessed you from the house of the LORD. 27 God is the LORD, And He has given us light; Bind the sacrifice with cords to the horns of the altar. 28 You are my God, and I will praise You; You are my God, I will exalt You. 29 Oh, give thanks to the LORD, for He is good! For His mercy endures forever.

שלום ברוך
Shalom and be blessed
Dan and Brenda Cathcart

Please visit our web site at www.moedministries.com

Monday, April 2, 2012

Reason Two for Christians to Celebrate Passover: The Cup

This essay is an excerpt from our book titled “Reasons for Christians to Celebrate the Biblical Feasts.”  It is available from amazon.com, barnesandnoble .com, other book retailers as well as from our own web site at www.moedministries.com.

Luke 22:19-20 NKJV 19 And He took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them, saying, "This is My body which is given for you; do this in remembrance of Me." 20 Likewise He also took the cup after supper, saying, "This cup is the new covenant in My blood, which is shed for you.

This passage is very familiar to Christians. We read these words of Jesus every time we have communion. But what bread and what cup is Jesus talking about? Luke tells us in Luke 22:13-14 that this is a Passover meal. The cup that Jesus is referring to is actually the third cup drank at a specific time in the Passover Seder or order of service. There are four cups of wine served at a Passover Seder each with a meaning from Exodus 6:6-7.

"Therefore say to the children of Israel:
1) 'I am the LORD; I will bring you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians,
2) I will rescue you from their bondage, and
3) I will redeem you with an outstretched arm and with great judgments.
4) 'I will take you as My people, and I will be your God.
Then you shall know that I am the LORD your God who brings you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians.

The first cup is the cup of sanctification setting His people aside for Him.

Exodus 2:24 NKJV 24 So God heard their groaning, and God remembered His covenant with Abraham, with Isaac, and with Jacob.

The second cup is the cup of deliverance breaking the chains that hold them to Egypt. He sets them free from slavery.

John 8:34-36 NKJV 34 Jesus answered them, "Most assuredly, I say to you, whoever commits sin is a slave of sin. 35 "And a slave does not abide in the house forever, but a son abides forever. 36 "Therefore if the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed.

The third cup is the cup of redemption. It is this cup the Jesus says is the new covenant in His blood. Moses said that God brought them out of Egypt with great judgments, signs and wonders.  Peter says that we are bought with the blood of Jesus which is more precious that any earthly wealth.

1 Peter 1:18-19 NKJV 18 knowing that you were not redeemed with corruptible things, like silver or gold, from your aimless conduct received by tradition from your fathers, 19 but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot.

The fourth cup is the cup of acceptance of hope. Jesus did not drink of this cup. He said that He would drink it again with them in His kingdom.

Mark 14:25-26 NKJV 25 "Assuredly, I say to you, I will no longer drink of the fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it new in the kingdom of God." 26 And when they had sung a hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives.

We drink the fourth cup in anticipation of His return. He promises us that He will come again and that where He is we will be also.

So, we can celebrate the Passover and as we drink of the cups, we can remember that we are set aside for God, the God who keeps His covenant for thousands of generations. We can remember that we are set free from the slavery of the flesh that leads to sin and death. We can remember that Jesus paid our price that we could not pay. And we can anticipate that He is coming again and He will take us as His people.

Revelation 22:7 NKJV 7 "Behold, I am coming quickly! Blessed is he who keeps the words of the prophecy of this book".

Shalom and be blessed
Dan and Brenda Cathcart

Please visit our web site at www.moedministries.com

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Reason One for Christians to Celebrate Passover: The Bread

This year Passover begins at local sunset on Thursday April 5th, Nissan 14 on the Biblical calendar.  This essay is an excerpt from our book titled “Reasons for Christians to Celebrate the Biblical Feasts.”  It is available from www.amazon.com, www.barnesandnoble .com, other book retailers as well as from our own web site at www.moedministries.com.


Luke 22:19-20 NKJV 19 And He took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them, saying, "This is My body which is given for you; do this in remembrance of Me." 20 Likewise He also took the cup after supper, saying, "This cup is the new covenant in My blood, which is shed for you.

This passage is very familiar to Christians. We read these words of Jesus every time we have communion. But what bread and what cup is Jesus talking about? Luke tells us that this is a Passover meal in Luke 22:13-14. The bread Jesus is talking about is a specific piece of bread that is eaten at a specific time in the Passover Seder or order of service.

First, this bread is matzah or unleavened bread representing the absence of decay. Decay comes from death which we know originally comes from sin, specifically the sin of Adam (Romans 5:14). The Passover meal institutes the Feast of Unleavened bread which begins just after the Passover meal itself begins. The Israelites were to eat only unleavened bread during this seven day feast. In fact, they were to search out their houses and remove all the leaven. Unleavened bread does not decay or mold. It is like a package of soda crackers; it can sit in your cupboard for years and not get moldy. As such, it has the opposite affect of sin which leads to death and decay. David prophesies in Psalm 16:10 that God would not suffer His Holy One to see decay referring to Jesus’ death and resurrection before His body could decay. Paul tells us that leavening represents sin referring specifically to the bread at Passover.

1 Corinthians 5:6-7 NKJV 6 Your glorying is not good. Do you not know that a little leaven leavens the whole lump? 7 Therefore purge out the old leaven, that you may be a new lump, since you truly are unleavened. For indeed Christ, our Passover, was sacrificed for us.

Paul goes on to say that those who eat unworthily of this bread, who harbor sin in their lives, will be prone to sickness and early death. (1Cor. 11:27-30)

Second, the bread is called the bread of affliction in remembrance of the affliction of their slavery in Egypt.

Deuteronomy 16:3 NKJV 3 "You shall eat no leavened bread with it; seven days you shall eat unleavened bread with it, that is, the bread of affliction (for you came out of the land of Egypt in haste), that you may remember the day in which you came out of the land of Egypt all the days of your life.

As the Passover Seder progresses, Jesus dips a piece of the bread of affliction into bitter herbs and gives it to Judas Iscariot the one who would betray him. (John 13:26) Judas would taste the bitterness of condemnation and would later hang himself. Jesus would experience the bitterness of betrayal. But after the bitterness comes redemption.

Later in the meal, a different piece of unleavened bread is eaten. Before the Seder begins, there are three pieces of unleavened bread set aside in a special holder. After the Seder begins, the middle piece of bread is removed, two-thirds of it broken off, wrapped in linen and hidden away. After the meal is finished, the children seek and find this hidden piece of bread called the afikomen or “that which comes after.” It is this piece of bread that Jesus says represents His body and is broken for them. Jesus’ body was broken, wrapped in linen and hidden away in the grave. After three days, He rose from the dead and those who eat of the bread He gives them will have eternal life.

John 6:51 NKJV 51 "I am the living bread which came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever; and the bread that I shall give is My flesh, which I shall give for the life of the world."

Christians can celebrate Passover to remember His body that is broken for us.

שלום ברוך
Shalom and be blessed
Dan and Brenda Cathcart

Please visit our web site at www.moedministries.com