Tuesday, March 30, 2010

CHRISTIAN = MESSIANIC!

I have always celebrated the specificity with which The Father created each of us. The specific time in history, the specific race and ethnicity, the specific nation, heritage and parentage was divinely ordained just as surely as the number of hairs on our heads, which the scriptures assure us, He numbers individually.
Not only did our Sovereign Lord and Father choose me to be the child of Jack and Ella Mae Clark, he also choose me and predestined me to be his adopted daughter through Jesus, the Messiah ! ( Ephesians 1:4-5) We all believe His Word on this. Why then do so many Christians not acknowledge and celebrate our Judaic Heritage? The scriptures clearly tell us that we have been grafted in… adopted as sons (and daughters). Statistics show that American Christians have one of the highest adoption rates in the country. We Christians then, above all, should understand adoption. We do not introduce our natural children to others and then say, “Oh yeah, and so-and-so is my adopted child.” When people ask about our children, we make no delineation between natural or adopted. And when people ask our adopted children who their parents are, though they may refer to their biological parents if known, we fully expect them to consider the adoptive parents as their very own. Why then, have we been raised to view our Messianic family with such a foreign and disconnected perspective?
Thirty seven more pages could answer why. But instead, let me just share that for the last 12 years or so, my family has celebrated at least one of the many Biblical Feasts or Convocations, that is “The Passover Seder.” I, personally, also acknowledge Yom Kippur, and hope to see my family celebrate the Feast of Tabernacles (Sukkot) a few days following Yom Kippur. We also celebrate our race and heritage with Kwanzaa, our Christian traditions with Christmas, our nationality with Thanksgiving, etc. (We do a lot of celebrating in the Thompson-Thomas household!). But with this being the beginning of the Passover Week, it is timely that I share my limited knowledge and personal experience about this particular Biblical ordinance, which is indispensably tied to the foundation of our Christian Faith.
The first Messianic Seder I ever attended was at a Methodist Church 20 years ago. I grew up Baptist (Black Baptist, which is its own brand!), and later, when I found Jesus for myself, I attended mostly Charismatic and Pentecostal churches (and still do). But my long-time friend, Crystal, happened to invite me to her mother’s church, where a Messianic Rabbi was to introduce us to the Passover celebration. And from that moment on I never looked at “The Lord’s Supper”(our Christian abbreviation of the Passover Meal) the same again. As I ate the symbolic elements of the meal, I felt like a veil was lifting off of my eyes and mind. Not a personal veil, but something more akin to a generational veil. Here is a brief synopsis of what was shared, verbally and edibly.
Bitter herbs: reminding us of the bitterness of physical enslavement (the Hebrew children) as well as spiritual enslavement to sin. We were also instructed to carefully observe the herb itself (parsley) and how every part of the parsley leaf is in 3 sections. One leaf; 3 sections.
Salt water: the tears shed in physical and spiritual slavery.
Kharoset (a sweet mixture of honey, wine, nuts and apples): a reminder of how joy and suffering often coexist in our earthly lives, as does our constant awareness of our present and eternal life. (It is made to look literally like the mortar the Jewish slaves used for building).
(My own African American slave history made all this imagery all the more vivid and meaningful!)
A lamb shakebone: the lambs that were slain in the Old Covenant, now replaced by the Lamb that was slain once and for all!
And most significantly: The MATZAH! I could write a sermon (as a matter of fact, I did) just about the significance of Matzah:
• It is unleavened – undefiled, as Jesus was.
• It is striped( with a machine called “the striper”) – just as Jesus was (Isaiah 53:5)
• It is pierced – just as Jesus was (Zechariah 12:10)
• It is presented as three pieces bound together, with the center piece called the “afikomen--” which means “The Coming One”—broken and eaten! (Luke 22:19)

It is indeed evident throughout the Passover Seder (Meal) that God the Father was trying to reveal Yeshua, the Messiah to his people Israel! It is also quite evident that He was revealing the significance of the Trinity, using the most effective teaching strategy, that is, a hands-on, kinesthetic approach! Even in the pre-baking process, it is scientifically proven that matzah dough will become defiled with atmospheric yeast if the baking process does not start within 18 min (Rabbi Pinchas Stolper, The Inner Meaning of Matzah, www.ou.org). Eighteen minutes is 1080 seconds. When you divide this number by “The Trinity” (3) you get 360. Three hundred and sixty! – the number representing a full circle, a full year, a full rotation…. Fullness! If you’re still not getting this, please read Luke 22:14-16 where Jesus speaks about the Seder being fulfilled in the Kingdom of God, and Mathew 5:17 where He tells us He came to fulfill the Torah (Old Covenant Laws). Not only have our Jewish brothers and sister missed the fullness of this message for 1000’s of years, Christians have too!

The deeper I have delved into our Judaic heritage, the deeper the truths and the revelations. I don’t have time in this blog to go into it all... but I sure hope you do! Read, Study, Dig deep! We are not obliged under any law to observe all the Judaic holidays. Our freedom is in Christ, and the Law is written upon our hearts. But we certainly have been depriving ourselves from the richness of our faith and the fullness of the Gospel. When I sit down with my family and close friends and recite the Messianic Haggadah (“The Telling”), share the Passover elements, and enjoy the Seder meal, there is no “have to” about it. It is my privilege as the adopted seed of Abraham and a member of the Family of God!

Suggested Pesach (Passover) Readings:
DAY 1: Ex 12:21-51, Numbers 28:16 -25, Joshua 5:2-6:1, Is 52:13 -53:12, Mt 26 -28

DAY 2: Lev 22;26 -23:44, 2 Kings 23:1-9,21 -25, Mark14 -16

Anytime during DAYS 3, 4, 5, 6: Ex 33:12 -34:26, Ezekiel 37:1 -14, Lk 22-24

DAY 7: Ex 13:17- 15:26, 2 Sam 22:1 -51, 1 Cor 5;6 -8

DAY 8: Deut 15:19- 16:17, Isaiah 10: 32 -12;6, Numbers 28: 19-25 (repeat from day one), John 13 - 21

There are some minor differences, depending on what part of the world you're in. This order is based more on non-European Jewish and Messianic Congregational readings. All this is adapted from the Complete Jewish Bible , Stern, D.1998.

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