The Importance of Theologically Informed Music

In light of the ongoing debate regarding the balance of ministry and industry for believing artists and musicians, Tony of Hazakim has written an article for the website of Meuchad Worshippers United on the importance of Theology in Music.  Please read and share with people you know in music ministry.

Meuachad Worshippers United is collective of musicians and worship leaders for purpose of providing training and unity in the Body of Messiah.  You can read “The Importance of Theologically Informed Music” here.

Hazakim Seeks to De-Stigmatize the Name of Yeshua With New Video Filmed in Israel

What if we told you that the most popular Jew that ever lived, through whom countless gentiles have come to the knowledge of the God of Israel, is not recognized in His own country? What if we told you that His Name, Yeshua , which means “salvation”, has been replaced by “Yeshu” – a fateful drop of the Hebrew letter “Ayin” at the end of His Name?

Though most Israelis don’t know its origin, this name given by His detractors, is an acronym meaning “may his name and memory be blotted out”. Hazakim is here to remove the stigma surrounding Him and to declare Yeshua’s glorious place in Israel’s history. He is the most influential, Torah observant Jew, that has ever lived. And even more profound than this: Yeshua is the Messiah that was foretold by the Jewish prophets! He is the pride and joy of Israel! He is a Light to the gentiles and the True Hope for peace in the Middle East.  Click the image below to watch the video.

ayinvid

Until the day that was foretold by our Messiah comes, and Jerusalem corporately declares “blessed is He who comes in the Name of the Lord”, let us declare the Name of Yeshua of Nazareth boldly and without shame. Pray for the peace of Jerusalem!

Grace & peace,

Hazakim

Hazakim and Jesus Peace Form “The Inklings” & Release “Hands Up”

inklings1In the early 1930s a group of literary enthusiast, including theologians & philosophers like C.S. Lewis, formed an informal literary group where members could freely trade ideas, share their works, and enjoy fellowship with like minds. This association of writers and thinkers was known as “The Inklings”. In 2016, four creative artists, whose literary work is accompanied by the beat, have resurrected this moniker, looking to share their work and message with the world.

Florida based Lamp Mode Recordings artists, Hazakim, consisting of brothers Mike and Tony Wray, are best known as the Messianic Jewish voice in the world of hip-hop culture. After releasing the critically acclaimed Theophanies, their follow up album entitled Son of Man cracked two Billboard charts, landing a top ten spot. Now expanding their horizons in this collaborative effort, they are eager to up the ante of creative expression while continuing to direct the listener to the Messiah.

Jesus Peace is a NYC-based Gospel hip-hop duo consisting of band members Randy Mason and Damion B. Sanders. The name “Jesus Peace” is a play on the term “Jesus piece” which refers to the gaudy medallions depicting Jesus’ crucifixion worn by today’s flashy mainstream rappers. The name Jesus Peace was chosen because of its relatability to the hip hop community and like a rapper’s “Jesus piece” on his chest, it makes a bold statement for Christ.

The Inklings’ first public offering is “Hands Up”; a smooth-yet-hype ode to classic east coast hip-hop. The beat is by the legendary emcee/producer Peace 586, whose resume, stretching back to the 1980s, includes classic works with Freedom of Soul & the Tunnel Rats. With Peace on the beat, the Inklings present a witty wordplay filled, catchy record that tells the listener to surrender, with hands up, to the Lord.

Check out the new song here:  https://soundcloud.com/lampmode/handsup_inklings

Messiah In the Feasts and Their Eschatological Implications, Part 7/7 (Chialism in Ancient Jewish & Christian Thought)

Tony Wray is not only a recording artist but is also a teacher, and lecturer; having taught Messianic apologetics at numerous conferences, churches, and congregations.  If you would like to view a list of referrals from leaders, scholars, and theologians, or are interested in having Tony speak at your congregation or event, send an e-mail to hazakimbooking@gmail.com.

 

Up to this point we have seen how the Messiah’s fulfillment of the Spring feasts was exact, precise, and in successive order, on the actual Feast days.  We also looked at the Fall Feasts, which remain unfulfilled, and how the Messiah will likely fulfill these as well.  I argued that, based on a plain reading of passages such as Zechariah 14:16, it would seem that Tabernacles will be fulfilled at the end of a literal thousand year reign of the Messiah, on the earth, when the New Jerusalem comes down out of Heaven.

So what of the belief that the millennial Kingdom described in Revelation 2o is literal?  Was this chapter written in a vacuum?  Is there any evidence from within the corpus of 2nd temple Judaism that would suggest such an expectation among the ancient Jews?  And how did the early church view the idea of a thousand year reign?  Did they primarily see it as literal or figurative?  As we shall see, the belief in a literal thousand year reign of God/Messiah (known as “chialism”) goes back to before the time of John’s writing of Revelation.  The chief “appointed time” from which they formed this belief is not one the 7 annual Feast days of the Lord but the weekly Sabbath, which comes at the end of the 7 day week, as well as the 7 year shmita cycle.

The “Six Thousand Year” Tradition and the Millennium

While the following traditions are not canonical, they reflect the dominant ancient Jewish & early Christian/Messianic understandings of eschatology – some of these traditions predating the disciples by hundreds of years (such as Rabbi Elias).  The quoting of these traditions serve to simply present the backdrop against which John, and perhaps even Zechariah, were writing in reference to a future period of divine rule upon the earth.  Given the clear layout of events found in Zechariah 12-14, the following references seem to fit beautifully within a traditional premillennial scheme.katina

  • Rabbi Elias, who lived 200 years before Jesus, wrote: “The world endures 6000 years: two thousand before the law, two thousand with the law and two thousand with the Messiah.” (Babylonian Talmud, Sanhedrin 96b-99a)
  • Rabbi Kattina in the Babylonian Talmud, Sanhedrin 96b-99a:  “The world endures 6000 years and one thousand it shall be laid waste, that is, the enemies of God shall be laid waste, whereof it is said ,’the Lord alone shall be exalted in that day.’ As out of seven years every seventh is a year of remission, so out of the seven thousand years of the world, the seventh millennium shall be the 1000 years of remission, that God alone may be exalted in that day.
  • Reiterated in Sanhedrin 97a: “Rabbi Kattina said: six thousand years shall the world exist, and one thousand it shall be desolate, as it is written, and the Lord shall alone be exalted in that day (a reference to Isaiah 2:2).  It has been taught in accordance with Rabbi Kattina: just as the seventh year is one year of release in seven, so is the world: one thousand years out of seven shall be fallow, as it is written and the Lord shall alone be exalted in that day.”

If John, writing the book of Revelation, wanted to simply convey an undefined “long period of time” during which Jesus would reign spiritually from Heaven, why would he borrow language from an already established tradition that existed within Judaism which anticipated a literal/physical 1,000 year reign of YHWH on the earth?  Would this not confuse those familiar with this tradition into believing that John was affirming the same kind of earthly, tangible, physical millennial reign?  But there’s more.  The earliest writings of the church fathers, with rare exception, also affirm this belief.  One such example is the Epistle of Barnabas, written between 70-135 AD.

barnabas2The Epistle of Barnabas is an early non-canonical book that was greatly esteemed by many of the early church fathers such as Clement of Alexandria, Origen, & Eusebis.   While the rabbinic traditions reflect a chialist belief among rabbinic scholars even before the time of Jesus, the Epistle of Barnabus reveals how this belief was shared by the earliest Christians.

“And God made in six days the works of his hands; and he finished them on the seventh day, and he rested on the seventh day and sanctified it. Consider my children what that signifies, he finished them in six days. The meaning of it is this: that in six thousand years the Lord God will bring all things to an end. For him one day is as a thousand years…therefore children, in six days, that is in six thousand years, shall all things be accomplished…then he shall rest on the seventh day (seventh millennium).

According to the most ancient Jewish and early Christian understandings of eschatology – without citing commentary on passages such as Revelation 20 – there is to be a future 1,000 year period of rest and Divine rule on the earth.  I contend that this chialist view is the backdrop of Revelation 20, and it is hinted at in the words of the Jewish prophets.  Having laid this issue to rest, let us return to the relevance of the Feasts of the Lord in understanding both eschatology, and the God we serve…

What Do the Feasts of the Lord Mean for the New Covenant Believer?

The analogy has been used of a professional pool player.  When you play pool against a true professional, they call the shots before they make them.  In this way all who are watching, including their opponent, knows that the shot was intentional and purposeful – putting the skill of the professional on display.  In like manner, when God flung our galaxy into being, initiating His appointed times, He was calling the shots thousands of years in advance…on this day my Son will die for the sins of many…On this day I will raise Him from the dead….On this day I will pour out my Holy Spirit…On this day I will return to wage war on the ungodly and save those who trust in my Son….On this day I will cleanse Israel from their sin….On this day I will make all things new and bring down my heavenly tabernacle – New Jerusalem.

It’s laid out so intricately, the disciples couldn’t have made this stuff up!

What does this mean for us?  It means we can rest upon the accuracy of Scripture and the plan of God.  It means the Messiah is coming back with the sound of the trumpet and we must be ready.  It means we must live in a way that reflects appreciation for our Redemption.  Therefore let us go and preach the Gospel, and live in a way that pleases our Lord.

Let the people of God respond : “AMEN”

Messiah In the Feasts and Their Eschatological Implications, Part 6/7 (Sukkot)

Tony Wray is not only a recording artist but is also a teacher, and lecturer; having taught Messianic apologetics at numerous conferences, churches, and congregations.  If you would like to view a list of referrals from leaders, scholars, and theologians, or are interested in having Tony speak at your congregation or event, send an e-mail to hazakimbooking@gmail.com.

 

Sukkot/Feast of Tabernacles: This is the final Feast of the Lord as recorded in Scripture.  Celebrated on Tishri 15, this Feast falls in the September/October timeframe. It is outlined in Deuteronomy 16:13 – 15, where the Lord tells the Israelites: “You are to keep the festival of Sukkot for seven days after you have gathered the produce of your threshing-floor and winepress. Rejoice at your festival – you, your sons and daughters, your male and female servants, the Levi’im (Levites), and the foreigners, orphans and widows living among you. Seven days you are to keep the festival for ADONAI your God in the place ADONAI your God will choose, because ADONAI your God will bless you in all your crops and in all your work, so you are to be full of joy!

sukkah2Leviticus 23:39-43: “‘But on the fifteenth day of the seventh month, when you have gathered the produce of the land, you are to observe the festival of ADONAI seven days; the first day is to be a complete rest and the eighth day is to be a complete rest. On the first day you are to take choice fruit, palm fronds, thick branches and river-willows, and celebrate it in the presence of ADONAI your God for seven days. You are to observe it as a feast to ADONAI seven days in the year; it is a permanent regulation, generation after generation; keep it in the seventh month. You are to live in sukkot (booths, tabernacles) for seven days; every citizen of Israel is to live in a sukkah, so that generation after generation of you will know that I made the people of Israel live in sukkot when I brought them out of the land of Egypt; I am ADONAI your God.'”

We can comfortably say that this Feast will find its ultimate fulfillment with the New Jerusalem – which comes down out of heaven as the eternal heavenly dwelling place for redeemed man.  Interestingly, the dimensions of this stratosphere defying City are amazingly identical to the traditional “booth” or ”Tabernacle” constructed during the Feast of Tabernacles.

Notice the language used by John when the New Jerusalem comes down out of heaven.

newjerRev 21: 2-3, “And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.  And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Now the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God.”

The Greek word used here for “dwelling” is the same root word used in John 1:14 when it declares that God’s Word became flesh and “dwelt” among us.  The word literally means “to tabernacle”.  This word appears in the Septuagint (Greek translation of the Old Testament) in relation to the Feast of Sukkot.  Scripture teaches that God will tabernacle with us in the New Jerusalem.

Further Proof that Tabernacles Will Await Fulfillment Even After the 2nd Coming

For those who would accuse me of reading too much into the text of Revelation 21:2-3, there is more.

Zechariah 14:16 tells us that, in the coming Messianic age, the survivors of the nations, will be required to come annually to Jerusalem to worship the King during one particular feast.  Those nations who do not do so will experience famine:

“Then everyone who survives of all the nations that have come against Jerusalem shall go up year after year to worship the King, the Lord of hosts, and to keep the Feast of Tabernacles.”

I would argue that the reason Tabernacles is singled out as the only Feast still required to be observed during the future millennial Kingdom is that it will be the only Feast still awaiting fulfillment up to that time (when the New Jerusalem comes down from Heaven as the celestial tabernacle – at the end of the 1,000 year reign)!  Remember, Sukkot is the last of the 7 Feasts of the Lord on the Hebrew calendar.

I would argue that this is more than mere conjecture… we can rest assured that if Jesus fulfilled the Spring Feasts (with exact and sequential precision) He will fulfill the Fall Feasts as well.  He is the same yesterday, today, and forever.

Why should Zechariah 14 even be understood literally?  Because it points to the sequel of a very literal and historical parallel event.

Yahweh’s Feet Upon The Mount of Olives & New Testament Confirmation of a Literal Fulfillment of Zech 12-14

The prophet Zechariah, in addition to laying out a clear Millennial scheme based on the observance of Tabernacles in the coming age, gives us an interesting detail about the “moment of contact” in which Yahweh (the God of Israel) descends to the earth at the end of days.  This detail is corroborated by the New Testament as we shall soon see:

“I will gather all the nations to Jerusalem to fight against it; the city will be captured, the houses ransacked, and the women ravaged. Half of the city will go into exile, but the rest of the people will not be taken from the city. Then the Lord (Yahweh) will go out and fight against those nations, as he fights on a day of battle. On that day his feet will stand on the Mount of Olives, east of Jerusalem, and the Mount of Olives will be split in two from east to west, forming a great valley, with half of the mountain moving north and half moving south.”  Zech 14:2-4

mt-olive-panoramic-1It is the location of Yahweh’s descent, which shows up later in the Book of Acts, that clearly affirms a literal hermeneutic regarding Zechariah 12-14 on the part of the disciples – namely Luke.  In Luke’s faithful telling of the ascension of the risen Messiah, he confirms the truthfulness of Zechariah’s prophecy written hundreds of years before:

“They were looking intently up into the sky as he was going, when suddenly two men dressed in white stood beside them. “Men of Galilee,” they said, “why do you stand here looking into the sky? This same Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven, will come back in the same way you have seen him go into heaven.”  Then the apostles returned to Jerusalem from the hill called the Mount of Olives, a Sabbath day’s walk from the city…”  Acts 1:10-12

The implications are clear:  In the first chapter of Acts the disciples are told (by angels no less) that the Messiah will return “in the same way” that He left.  He ascended physically, and visibly from the earth – and will return physically and visibly to the earth.  He ascended in the clouds of heaven and will return in the clouds of heaven.  But there is more…  He ascended, as the fullness of deity in bodily form, from the Mount of Olives – east of Jerusalem.  Is it any wonder that, according to Zechariah, Yahweh (God Almighty) will touch His feet upon the Mount of Olives when He comes at the end of days?  If this aspect of Zechariah’s vision is to be literal, pray tell why we should shift gears after verse 4 and interpret the rest (which is quite specific in detail) in an allegorical fashion?  Furthermore, is there a single prophecy concerning Messiah’s first coming that He did not fulfill literally – almost always hyper-literally!?

After presenting this Zechariah/Acts – Mount of Olives connection to multiple people, I have yet to hear an  interpretation that could point to a non-literal, allegorical “a-or-post” millennial eschatology.

In the next post we will look at an interesting tradition passed on by early rabbinic and Christian fathers in ancient times.  Their words, while not Scripture, give us insight into the early understanding of the “millennium”, based on the texts of Scripture.

Messiah In the Feasts and Their Eschatological Implications, Part 5/7 (The Fall Feasts)

Tony Wray is not only a recording artist but is also a teacher, and lecturer; having taught Messianic apologetics at numerous conferences, churches, and congregations.  If you would like to view a list of referrals from leaders, scholars, and theologians, or are interested in having Tony speak at your congregation or event, send an e-mail to hazakimbooking@gmail.com.

 

In the previous posts we reviewed the Spring Feasts and how Yeshua fulfilled them all to the very day, in sequential order.  At this point it is abundantly clear that the very purpose of the Spring Feasts was to prepare Israel and the world for the redemption to come:  with the Spring Feasts pointing to the Messiah’s first advent (making atonement for sin & sending the Holy Spirit), and the Fall Feasts pointing ahead to his second advent (taking a people unto Himself, redeeming a generation of Israel, and eternally dwelling in our midst).  If the Lord is the same yesterday, today, and forever – and leaves nothing unfinished – it is fair to believe that He will fulfill the rest in sequential order and, most likely, on the very day.  Let us continue…

Fall Feasts

Yom Teruah (Feast of Shouting/Trumpets)/Rosh Hashana: This Feast on Tishri 1 falls in the September/October time frame. Leviticus 23:23-25 says: ADONAI said to Moshe, “Tell the people of Israel, ‘In the seventh month, the first of the month is to be for you a day of complete rest for remembering, a holy convocation announced with blasts on the shofar. Do not do any kind of ordinary work, and bring an offering made by fire to ADONAI.”

teruahIt is the Jewish Civil New Year, and according to tradition it is considered to be the anniversary of the creation of Adam and Eve; and of the first sin that was committed and resulting repentance; a day when God takes stock of all of His Creation, which includes all of humanity.

During this Feast, the blowing of shofars (rams’ horns) signifies the bringing together of God’s people, warning them to repent during the coming “days of awe” (the 10 days between Trumpets and the Day of Atonement).  It is also important to note that, in addition to a call to repentance, the blowing of shofars is indicative of a battle call in Scripture.  The word “teruah” in Hebrew also denotes “shouting” – as this feast is marked by shofars and, in its original context,  a “loud shout”.

“When the trumpets sounded, the army shouted, and at the sound of the trumpet, when the men gave a loud shout, the wall collapsed; so everyone charged straight in, and they took the city.”  Joshua 6:20

According to the New Testament, what is the next thing to occur in Yeshua’s plan for earth’s redemption?  The trumpets will sound and the Lord will descend with a loud shout, and the true believers in Messiah will be gathered/resurrected and He will wage war on the ungoldy (I Thess. 4:13-18, I Cor. 15:50-54, Jude 1:14-15).

“For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud shout, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Messiah will rise first. After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever.”

“Enoch, the seventh from Adam, prophesied about them: “See, the Lord is coming with thousands upon thousands of his holy ones to judge everyone, and to convict all of them of all the ungodly acts they have committed in their ungodliness, and of all the defiant words ungodly sinners have spoken against him.”

This Feast signals the call for repentance; for the time is short and Judgment is coming upon the Earth.  While we do not know the day or hour of his coming, it is fair to say that, in light of the template set forth for us by Jesus on the Feasts days that He has fulfilled, he will likely fulfill this Feast on or around the very day of Rosh Hashanah, the Feast of Trumpets.

Ten days after the Feast of Trumpets we come to Yom Kippur…

Day of Atonement/Yom Kippur: This Feast represents the need for the sacrifice/sin offering that must be made for the sins of Israel. Celebrated on Tishri 10, this Feast falls in the September/October timeframe. Leviticus 16:29 tells us: “It is to be a permanent regulation for you that on the tenth day of the seventh month you are to deny yourselves and not to do any kind of work, both the citizen and the foreigner living with you. For on this day, atonement will be made for you to purify you; you will be clean before ADONAI from all your sins. It is a Shabbat of complete rest for you, and you are to deny yourselves. This is a permanent regulation.”

yomkippurYeshua WAS and IS the Sacrifice and He will be recognized by His own people when He returns and opens a fountain of cleansing for Israel – according to the understanding of those of us whose eschatology takes Zechariah 12-14 literally.   As the Bible tells us, God/Jesus shall descend to put to an end to the sins of Israel. At that time they will call for the Messiah to return and will mourn for the “One who was pierced”. This day will be fulfilled upon the Second Coming of Messiah to the Earth (Matt. 23:37-39, Hos. 5:15 thru 6:1-3, Zech. 13:8,9 Zech. 12:10, Zech. 13:1, Ezek. 16:61-63), when His atoning work is appropriated for national Israel.  In light of this understanding, the next Feast day, “tabernacles”, fits perfectly into the scheme.

***A reading of Zechariah 12-14 seems to lay out how the final 3 Feasts will be fulfilled.  In Chapter 12 God comes to defend His people and to wage war on the godless (Trumpets), at the end of chapter 12 and duration of 13 a river of cleansing flows to the nation of Israel after they recognize the “Pierced One” (Day of Atonement), and in chapter 14 we read a summary of this order of events as well as the subsequent reign of the Lord when Tabernacles is observed by all in the earthly Kingdom.  Revelation 21 gives us the fulfillment of Tabernacles – this final Feast of the Lord.  When Tabernacles is finally fulfilled, the book is closed.

Concerning Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement, it may be asked, “why is the future salvation of Israel important?”  To answer this, I refer to the words of our Lord as well as the apostle Paul:

“Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you were not willing.  Look, your house is left to you desolate.  For I tell you, you will never SEE Me again until you say, He who comes in the name of the Lord is the blessed One’!”  (Matthew 23:36-39) *my emphasis*

“Look, he is coming with the clouds,” and “every eye will SEE him, even those who pierced him“; and all peoples on earth “will mourn because of him.” So shall it be! Amen.  (Revelation 1:7) *my emphasis*

“For if (Israel’s) rejection brought reconciliation to the world, what will their acceptance be but life from the dead?” (Romans 11:15)

Did you catch that?  When Messiah returns, every eye will see Him.  Conversely, the Jewish people will not see Him until they recognize & welcome Him…therefore no eye will see Him until Israel repents and recognizes Him.  And when they do, according to Paul, it will mean RESURRECTION.  And what will take place in fulfillment of the Feast of Trumpets?  Messiah comes with the sound of the trumpet, defends His people, and the dead in Messiah come to life!  This event will extend for 10 days until Yom Kippur when Israel, like the brothers of Joseph, mourn and are reconciled with their brother, Messiah, and Lord.

It has never been about the supremacy of a nation, but the supremacy of the Messiah and the unmerited grace of God which is poured out regardless of human effort and performance.  God will save a future generation of Israel because He wishes to display His grace upon a rebellious people.  Were we not rebels when He saved us?  The Lord will keep His promise.  All Israel will be saved!

The last & final Feast we will look at in the next post, is the Feast of Tabernacles.

Messiah In the Feasts and Their Eschatological Implications, Part 4/7 (Shavu’ot/Pentecost)

Tony Wray is not only a recording artist but is also a teacher, and lecturer; having taught Messianic apologetics at numerous conferences, churches, and congregations.  If you would like to view a list of referrals from leaders, scholars, and theologians, or are interested in having Tony speak at your congregation or event, send an e-mail to hazakimbooking@gmail.com.

 

Shavuot/Pentecost: “The Feast of Weeks/Shavuot is celebrated during the May/June timeframe. Exodus 34:22 tells us: “Observe the festival of Shavuot with the first-gathered produce of the wheat harvest, and the festival of ingathering at the turn of the year….”

Torah directs the counting of 7 weeks (Omer), the next day (50th day) being Shavuot. The counting of the days and weeks convey the anticipation of and desire for the Giving of the Torah. In other words, at Passover, the Israelites were freed from their lives of slavery in Egypt; and 50 days later on Shavuot or Pentecost they received God’s Torah or Law, which committed them to God. This is why the Greek word for Shavuot is “Pentecost”, meaning “50”.It was on Pentecost that Moses received the Torah on Mount Sinai. Unfortunately Israel could not keep the Law….and so on Pentecost when they were found committing sin through their worship of the golden calf, according to Exodus 32:28, three thousand people were KILLED by the wrath of God. Remember this detail….we will revisit it in a moment

FULFILLED

After His resurrection, the risen Messiah appeared to His disciples and told them to wait in Jerusalem until He sent forth “the promise” of His Father (Luke 24:49). Earlier in His ministry, Jesus tells His disciples that it is Him who sends the promise of the Comforter. This is no contradiction in light of the unique Oneness shared between the Father and the Son.

“But very truly I tell you, it is for your good that I am going away. Unless I go away, the Advocate will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you.” John 16:7

We are also told that the Comforter will testify of Jesus:

“But when the Comforter is come whom I will send unto you from the Father, even the Spirit of truth, who proceeds from the Father, He shall testify of Me.” John 15:26

The disciples, in obedience to the Master’s command, gathered in Jerusalem to wait for the Comforter – and the Comforter came…it is the Holy Spirit

“And when the day of Pentecost (Shavu’ot) had come, they were all together in one place. And suddenly there came from heaven a noise like a violent, rushing wind, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting. And there appeared to them tongues as of fire distributing themselves, and the rested on each one of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit…” — Acts 2:1-4

PENTECOST1

Furthermore, on this new Pentecost, the day that the Holy Spirit came, we learn that instead of 3,000 dying (as they did on the first Pentecost when Moses received the Law), 3,000 were added to the number of the disciples (Acts 2:41)! Instead of death for disobedience, they were given the Spirit – enabling them to keep the righteous requirements of the Law written on their hearts. And to atone for sins committed, we have the blood of the Passover Lamb….it all fits together perfectly!!!

Paul also expounds on this Pentecost connection in 2 Corinthians 3:7:

“Now if the ministry that brought death, which was engraved in letters on stone, came with glory, so that the Israelites could not look steadily at the face of Moses because of its glory, fading though it was, will not the ministry of the Spirit be even more glorious? If the ministry that condemns men is glorious, how much more glorious is the ministry that brings righteousness! For what was glorious has no glory now in comparison with the surpassing glory. And if what was fading away came with glory, how much greater is the glory of that which lasts!”

Yeshua’s Fulfillment of the Spring Feasts is Exact!

The accuracy with which Jesus fulfilled the Spring Feasts at His first appearance is inescapable! Because Jesus’ fulfillment of the Spring Feasts is so exact and in sequential order, it seems reasonable that He will also fulfill the remaining Fall Feasts in sequential order.

The four Spring Feasts picture the first coming of Jesus. He sacrificed Himself on the Feast of Passover, was buried on the Feast of Unleavened Bread, was resurrected on the Feast of First Fruits, and He sent the Holy Spirit on the Feast of Weeks (Shavuot/Pentecost).

Again, to recap:

• Yeshua is the Passover Lamb of God. “Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!” — John 1:29.

• Yeshua is the Unleavened Bread of Life. “I am the living bread that came down out of heaven; if anyone eats of this bread, he shall live forever; and the bread also which I shall give for the life of the world is My flesh.” — John 6:51

• Yeshua is the First Fruits. “But now Messiah has been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who are asleep” — 1 Corinthians 15:20.

• Yeshua sent the Holy Spirit on the Feast of Shavu’ot (Pentecost). “And when the day of Pentecost had come, they were all together in one place… And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit…” — Acts 2:1-4

Messiah In the Feasts and Their Eschatological Implications, Part 3/7 (First Fruits)

Tony Wray is not only a recording artist but is also a teacher, and lecturer; having taught Messianic apologetics at numerous conferences, churches, and congregations.  If you would like to view a list of referrals from leaders, scholars, and theologians, or are interested in having Tony speak at your congregation or event, send an e-mail to hazakimbooking@gmail.com.

In the last post we looked at Passover, and it’s ultimate fulfillment in the Messiah.  Staying in chronological order, the next Feast on the calendar is First Fruits…

firstfruits

First Fruits, also known as the “Feast of Weeks” (Bikkurim in Hebrew) is the third of the seven “Feasts of the Lord” commanded by the Lord to be celebrated by Israel.   

 “Celebrate the Feast of Weeks with the firstfruits of the wheat harvest, and the Feast of ingathering at the turn of the year. Three times a year all your men are to appear before the Sovereign Lord, the God of Israel.  I will drive out nations before you and enlarge your territory, and no one will covet your land when you go up three times each year to appear before the Lord your God.”       Exodus 34:22 

It was a designated time when Israel was to bring a sheaf (Hebrew: omer) of the firstfruits of the harvest to be waived by the priests before the Lord, and was to be observed the DAY AFTER THE SABBATH following Passover (or Sunday).  In essence, it was the dedication of the “brand new” and “first” of the seed which had been planted in the ground – blossoming into something new and beautiful.

Remember what happened the day after the Sabbath after the Passover Jesus died on?  That’s right!  Messiah became the “First Fruits” of the resurrection!

FULFILLED!!  That’s 2 for 2!

empty-tomb-jesusMark 16: 1, “When the Sabbath was past, Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of James and Salome bought spices, so that they might go and anoint him. And very early on the first day of the week, when the sun had risen, they went to the tomb.  And they were saying to one another, “Who will roll away the stone for us from the entrance of the tomb?” And looking up, they saw that the stone had been rolled back—it was very large. And entering the tomb, they saw a young man sitting on the right side, dressed in a white robe, and they were alarmed. And he said to them, “Do not be alarmed. You seek Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He has risen; he is not here. See the place where they laid him.  But go, tell his disciples and Peter that he is going before you to Galilee. There you will see him, just as he told you.”

Predicting His own death, Jesus draws a clear connection between His death and First Fruits when He says:

“The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. Very truly I tell you, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds.”  (John 12:23-24).

It is interesting to note that this very Chapter begins by telling us that the context of the chapter is the time of the Passover…it is logical to conclude that these words of Jesus were spoken at the time of First Fruits (the first Sunday after the Passover).  The use of “harvest language” in reference to His death is a clear allusion to First Fruits.

Paul, a Jewish believer in Yeshua who was very familiar with these details, further explained:

“But now is Messiah risen from the dead, and become the firstfruits of them that slept. For since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, even so in Messiah shall all be made alive. But every man in his own order: Christ the firstfruits; afterward they that are Messiah’s at His Coming” (1Corinthians 15:20-23).

resurrectionHe further develops this “First Fruits” concept of the resurrection in verse 35 of the same chapter:

“But someone will ask, “How are the dead raised? With what kind of body will they come?” How foolish! What you sow does not come to life unless it dies. When you sow, you do not plant the body that will be, but just a seed, perhaps of wheat or of something else. But God gives it a body as he has determined, and to each kind of seed he gives its own body. Not all flesh is the same: People have one kind of flesh, animals have another, birds another and fish another. There are also heavenly bodies and there are earthly bodies; but the splendor of the heavenly bodies is one kind, and the splendor of the earthly bodies is another. The sun has one kind of splendor, the moon another and the stars another; and star differs from star in splendor.  So will it be with the resurrection of the dead. The body that is sown is perishable, it is raised imperishable; it is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory; it is sown in weakness, it is raised in power; it is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body.”  (1Corinthians 15:35-44).

Praise God! Since Messiah has risen as the First Fruits of the new glorified resurrection body, we need not fear death!  It is simply the sowing of the corruptible in preparation for a harvest of incorruptible new and beautiful eternal bodies!

In the next post we will explore the next Feast day on God’s calendar: Shavu’ot, also known as “Pentecost”.  So much richness in God’s Word – excited to see what we can discover next!

Messiah In the Feasts and Their Eschatological Implications, Part 2/7 (Passover)

Tony Wray is not only a recording artist but is also a teacher, and lecturer; having taught Messianic apologetics at numerous conferences, churches, and congregations.  If you would like to view a list of referrals from leaders, scholars, and theologians, or are interested in having Tony speak at your congregation or event, send an e-mail to hazakimbooking@gmail.com.

 

The Spring Feasts

The Feasts of the Lord were given to Israel by God after their deliverance from bondage.  The Feasts, or “High Holy Days”, fall into 2 basic subsets:  the Spring Feasts, and the Fall Feasts.  The Spring Feasts begin with Passover and end with Shavu’ot/Pentecost.  After a seasonal gap the Feasts of the Lord commence in the fall.

Passover/Pesach & Unleavened Bread: Though these are two separate Feasts they are combined as they run concurrently.  Passover (14th of Nisan) falls in the March/April time-frame on the Gregorian calendar: Leviticus 23:5 tells us: “‘In the first month, on the fourteenth day of the month, between sundown and complete darkness, comes the Pesach of the LORD.”

passover

This Feast celebrates the deliverance of the Israelite slaves from Egypt. It is a tale of redemption through the killing of the Passover lamb whose blood was to be applied to the doorposts of their houses – an act of faith which would spare their firstborn from the curse of death. God promised that His own wrath, as well as “the messenger of death”, would “pass over” those houses with the blood on the doorposts, and spare the first born (Exodus 12:1-13). Those Israelites with the blood of the lamb on their doorposts were spared and were subsequently led from slavery in Egypt into freedom through the Exodus.  Anyone (Egyptian or Israeli) without the blood of the lamb applied, would be targeted for God’s wrath.

“On that same night I will pass through Egypt and strike down every firstborn—both men and animals—and I will bring judgment on all the gods of Egypt. I am the Lord. The blood will be a sign for you on the houses where you are; and when I see the blood, I will pass over you. No destructive plague will touch you when I strike Egypt.

“This is a day you are to commemorate; for the generations to come you shall celebrate it as a festival to the Lord—a lasting ordinance. For seven days you are to eat bread made without yeast. On the first day remove the yeast from your houses, for whoever eats anything with yeast in it from the first day through the seventh must be cut off from Israel. On the first day hold a sacred assembly, and another one on the seventh day. Do no work at all on these days, except to prepare food for everyone to eat—that is all you may do. “ Exodus 12:12-16

Though the “Exodus generation” died in the wilderness because of their unbelief and sin, God provided all that was needed for redemption through their faith & obedience in applying the blood of the lamb to their dwelling places.  Passover commemorates this act of redemption and the freedom God provided through the blood of the lamb.

Prior to the Passover/Feast of Unleavened bread, all leaven or yeast is removed from the house of the participant.  Unleavened bread, or “matzah”, is eaten.  In Scripture this bread is often called the bread of affliction because it is born out of affliction.  In other words, since the Jews fleeing Egypt had no time to let the bread rise on account of their affliction it is called the bread of affliction.  So the unleavened bread is not a token of bondage but freedom from bondage and affliction.

Matzah also represents purity, since leaven is a metaphor for sin.  None of Egypt’s leaven was to invade this bread of redemption.  Through the redemption realized in the blood of the lamb, Israel was to experience a “new lump” of dough as it were – without the old leaven.

The Mystery of the “Afikomen”:

During the Passover meal (or seder), three pieces of matzah are placed in a compartmentalized bag.  At the beginning of the Seder the middle piece of matzah (or second piece of the triad), the “afikomen”, is removed, broken in half, and wrapped in a white linen cloth. It is the final food eaten at the end of the Seder. The Seder cannot continue or conclude until this afikomen is eaten.

afikomen-middle-matzah-WMThe word afikomen comes from the Greek verb eek-neh-omai which simply means “”That which finally comes” not “dessert” as it is commonly interpreted .

At the beginning of the Seder, after it has been broken and wrapped in linen, someone hides the afikomen and, during the meal, the children are sent off on a mission to find this hidden piece of matzah.  The child that finds it receives a reward.  Please keep the afikomen in mind as we continue…

Cup of Redemption:

A central item of the Passover seder is the cup of redemption.  Messianic Jewish scholar David Brickner explains it this way:

eliyahu-cup-L“The Passover cup is one of the central symbols of this holiday known as the Feast of Redemption. Throughout the Hebrew Scriptures the cup is often used as a symbol of God’s judgment. For example, the cup of fury, the cup of judgment, the cup of trembling and the cup of horror and desolation appear throughout the Old Testament. Yet we also find the Psalmist crying out, I will take up the cup of salvation, and call upon the name of the Lord” (Psalm 116:13). So the symbol of the cup carries with it pictures of both wrath and redemption, of judgment and blessing. Yet, how the cup became a Passover symbol remains a mystery. We do know that by the time Jesus observed the Passover, drinking a cup during the meal was an official part of the observance. In fact, an ancient rabbinic source, the Mishnah, instructs those celebrating to drink from the cup four times during the Passover seder (Pesahim 10:1). That tradition remains to this day.  This cup embodies the problem of judgment as well as the promise of redemption.”

FULFILLED!!!!

Yeshua fulfilled this Feast on the very day of Passover – down to the hour.  His embodiment of the Sacrificial Lamb is declared from the beginning of John’s Gospel narrative:

“The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, “Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!” John 1:29

In one profound sentence of introduction, John summarizes the whole redemptive program revealed throughout the Old Testament.

In ALL 4 GOSPELS, the so called “Last Supper” is identified as the Passover meal  (Matt 26:17, Mark 14:12, Luke 22, John 13:1).   The phrase “last supper” simply does not do justice to the relevance of Messiah’s fulfillment of Passover and divorces it from the beautiful richness of the context – turning the Passover shared between our Lord and his disciples into an arbitrary snack.

the-last-supper

“Hey Peter, what have we got in the fridge?”…. “Oh, just a little pita bread and some grape juice”…. “Well, I guess that’ll do”.  Heaven forbid!  The holy day being observed and every element on the table was relevant beyond comprehension!

An in-depth look at Luke’s account of the Last Passover gives us some interesting insights….

Luke 22:14-15:  “And when the hour came, he reclined at table, and the apostles with him.  And he said to them, “I have earnestly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer. For I tell you I will not eat it until it is fulfilled in the kingdom of God.” And he took a cup, and when he had given thanks he said, “Take this, and divide it among yourselves. For I tell you that from now on I will not drink of the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God comes.” And he took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body, which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” And likewise the cup after they had eaten, saying, “This cup that is poured out for you is the new covenant in my blood.

Jesus, observing the Passover with his disciples before He goes to the cross, lifts the matzah – without leaven or sin – the bread born out of affliction which brings redemption, and declares that it is His Body.  And just as everyone at the Seder MUST eat the afikomen, all who desire heaven must partake of Yeshua’s body in the atonement.  The Cup of Redemption, the third cup in the seder, which is taken after the actual meal, was likely the cup that Yeshua took at his last seder saying, “This cup that is poured out for you is the new covenant in my blood.”

Jesus declared that this new covenant would be poured from the cup of salvation in His blood. In Messiah this cup is ultimately fulfilled.  More than mere physical redemption from Egypt, it now also represents the plan and purpose of God in redeeming lost man from bondage to sin.

Jesus said “I am the bread of life…” — John 6:35.  And like the middle piece of the matzah triad known as the afikomen (hint: Father, Son, Spirit), His body was broken and wrapped in a white linen cloth. He was hidden away, buried in a grave and brought to life again.  And those who find Him, like the child who finds the Afikomen, receive a reward (eternal life).

Yeshua died ON PASSOVER, as the Lamb of God to free those who were in bondage to sin.  When we apply the blood of the lamb, we are set free and led into the Promised Land.

In 1 Corinthians 5, Paul takes it a step further, admonishing the gentile believers there to live without leaven (sin) and to remember Jesus as our Passover – even admonishing them to KEEP THE FEAST in remembrance of Him!

“Your boasting is not good. Do you not know that a little leaven leavens the whole lump?  Cleanse out the old leaven that you may be a new lump, as you really are unleavened. For Messiah, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed.  Let us therefore celebrate the festival, not with the old leaven, the leaven of malice and evil, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.”  1 Corinthians 5:6

In light of this, how can Passover NOT have relevance for New Covenant believers??

Hazakim Partners With Wrath & Grace – Brings Shirt With a Powerful Message

shirt_frontHazakim has partnered with Wrath and Grace to bring you the “Don’t Forget the A” shirt.  Inspired by Hazakim’s new song and video, just shot in the land of Israel.  The release date of the video will be announced shortly.  This shirt’s front features an ancient character, presumably bumping some Hazakim in his headphones.  The back of the shirt displays Jesus’ name in Hebrew: Yeshua – with the “A” at the end of His Name highlighted for emphasis.  Why is this?  The religious opponents of Yeshua thought it best to blot out any mention of His Name by giving Him the epithet “Yeshu” (His name, minus the “A”), an acronym for the phrase “Yimach Sh’mo V’Zichro” which means “may his name and memory be blotted out”.  To this day, many Israeli’s call Him “Yeshu” without knowing the derogatory origins of this name.  As the number of believers in Jesus increase in Israel, we want to stand with them in proclaiming that He is the Messiah of Israel and the world!  Don’t forget the “A” at the end of His Name!  Yeshua means “Salvation”.  He alone can bring peace to the middle east, and hope to the world.  He deserves respect, praise, and adoration as the pride and joy of Israel, and the fulfillment of the prophets!

Visit Wrath and Grace & order yours today.

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