Introduction

In this series, we will be discussing 3 characters that Jesus had told us to follow their example.

In Part 1 we covered The good Samaritan and Mary
In Part 2 we covered 2 of the 3 things that Abraham did.

Abraham circumcised himself and he left his kindred and home. These are all difficult instructions from God and he obey. In Part 3 let us look at the 3rd thing that he did.

Pt 3: Abraham Built Altar Wherever He Goes

Abraham built altars to worship God wherever he went. The time of the patriarchs preceded the Mosaic Law.  In those days, there are 2 significance behind the offering of Sacrifice. One significance is to thank God, while the other is to seek help and forgiveness from God.

Abraham led a life of building altars. No matter where he goes, he will first build an altar to worship God.  This is something modern day Christians ought to learn. Wherever we go, we must learn to build an altar to worship God. 

Today there is no longer a need to build a physical altar to offer sacrifices to God. But yet the spirit of worshipping God, coming before God for help and forgiveness remains. Abraham must have built a lot of altars in his life.

But the book of Genesis recorded 5 of the altars that was built. These 5 altars contains significance and life lessons for Christians to learn. Let us look at these altars and what they signify.

Pt 3.1: The First Altar at Shechem

“Abram passed through the land to 
  the place of Shechem, as far as the
  terebinth tree of Moreh. And the
  Canaanites were then in the land.
  Then the Lord appeared to Abram
  and said, “To your descendants I
  will give this land.” And there he
  built an altar to the Lord, who had
  appeared to him.” – Moses (Gen 12:6-7)

The first altar built by Abraham when he arrived at Shechem. This altar is a testimony of the genuine faith of Abraham. Shechem is the first city when you enter the land of Canaan.

Canaan is a foreign place full of strangers.  Sometimes it makes one feel lonely and helpless. Even though Abraham had wealth and servants, but he is without a friend or a relative nearby. He had departed from Haran, leaving the familiar place for a place that is completely foreign.

In my life, I encountered this feeling twice. The first time was when I moved from Singapore to Brunei and now I moved from Brunei to Vietnam. Only those who had migrated for study and work can understand the feeling fully.

But yet in the midst of these God appeared to Abraham, it is a significant event to Abraham. It provided him immediate comfort. God is assuring that he is not alone. God’s appearance to him is a sign that he abides with Abraham Even though now there are no one he could rely on, but God is his reliance.

God drew near to him and assure him saying “I am with you”. Abraham must have felt thankful to God from the bottom of his heart. Even though he is in a foreign land and dwelling among strangers. The God whom he believed in abides with him.  That is why he built an altar to worship and thank him.

When Abraham worship God, he knows he is not talking to thin air. He knew that God abides with him and he is worshipping him directly. Abraham  may not hear God talking to him on a daily basis, but through his faith he can see the abidance of GOd with him.

Can We Feel The Presence of God?

Our faith needs to be as genuine as Abraham. Are we able to fee the presence of God on a daily basis? Do we only feel his presence only when we encounter a vision or when we hear God speak ?

The fact is that we do not see miracles and vision at every prayer. Does that affect the genuineness of our faith? When we sing hymn and pray, do we know who we are talking to? Can we feel God standing right before us as we pray? Do we believe that he is there?

Today many Christians feel that their worship is like talking to thin air. When we sing hymns, our mouths may be moving but our mind is afar off. We are suppose to be singing to God. It is a important and sacred work.

If we truly believe that God is listening, we would not mind if others find our singing horrendous. We may not be musically talents, we may go off key at times, but God will always be listening and he will not despise our offering of praises. But God will listern and see if we are truly praising him. He will be disappointed if he find us praising without sincerity and heart.

The same concept applies to our prayer. When we begin our prayers, we will be serious at the very first minute of our prayer. But what happens in the next minute? Have our minds wandered off?

We often say that God is far from us, we said that our prayers are routine and it feel as if we are talking to thin air. That is because our worship is no longer a true worship

Understanding True Worship

True worship only happens when you choose to kneel before God. For we are not to bow to to anyone but only to God. We need to remind ourselves that we are kneeling and bowing down before God. Even though we cannot see God with our eyes but we can see him in faith. This faith is not one based on imagination. It is based on the words of Jesus.

“Again I say to you that if two of
  you agree on earth concerning
   anything that they ask, it will
  be done for them by My Father in
  heaven.  For where two or three are
  gathered together in My name,
  I am there in the midst of them.”-Jesus (Matt 18:19-20)

If we truly believe in the words of Jesus, than our worship will become real. Today in church we often say “in the name of Jesus”. This is not a magic phrase, we who said it are holding on to the promise of Jesus , for Jesus had said those words where we read them.

That is why as long as we gather in his name to pray, Jesus will be in our midst. If we believe in the words of Jesus. He will be there with us. We need to readjust our thinking and we need to change our attitude when it comes to service. By doing so, our prayers and worship will not become a routine nor will we feel that God is not in our midst.

Learning From King David

King David once said

“I have set the Lord always before me;
  Because He is at my right hand I shall not be moved.
  Therefore my heart is glad, and my glory rejoices;
  My flesh also will rest in hope.” – David (Ps 16:8-9)

Why is David glad and what did he rejoice in? He told us that his flesh is rest in hope. David was a man who faced many troubles.  But whenever he worship and pray, his heart is glad, for he know that the Lord is with him.

This is not just a theory, and a belief, for he had set the Lord before him. He set the Lord before him with his heart. That is not an easy work. For our hearts tend to wander away easily. There are many things that can distract our heart when worshipping God.

Today all it takes is a vibration from our smart phone to distract us. many things can take our attention way from God. We need to grab our heart back for the Lord is before us. Today when we sit in the church hall, our hearts may not be there in the hall. Even though the speaker may not know, but God knows. He know those who gathered in his name but had their hearts outside the church hall. That is why Jesus remind us to worship in Spirit and in Truth

We need to make it a point to set the Lord before us. We need to turn our hearts back at him. Only then can our faith be true. Only then can our worship and prayer be with effect. For Jesus is the true God and his words are true. Our worship of God must be true.

Pt 2: 2nd Altar At Bethel

“And he moved from there to the
  mountain east of Bethel, and he
   pitched his tent with Bethel on
  the west and Ai on the east;
  there he built an altar to the Lord
  and called on the name of the Lord.” – Moses (Gen 12: 8)

Abraham moved to Bethel from Shechem and he built an altar and called on the name of God. The altar is between Bethel and Ai. These are contrasting names.  Bethel means the house of God while Ai means rubble.

If we are Abraham where will we move towards? We will choose to be in the house of God, for we do not want to dwell among ruins. Even if Ai is a beautiful city, but its name already suggested that it is a pile of ruins.  Perhaps Bethel may not be as beautiful as Ai, but it is the house of God.  It is established forever.

The altar at Bethel is a declaration of faith. Abraham is saying “I want to draw near to God”. For the house of God will be his house. He is only a sojourner and a stranger. This world will one day become a ruin, the world will be destroyed.

Christians must remind themselves that one day all on earth will be destroyed. we need to know that Christ will come again some day. AT that time there will only be 2 choices to go. One is to head toward heaven while the other is to head towards hell.

Where we will go depend on our choices, depends on who we choose to draw near to. If you build your altar at Bethel. You will have a portion in the house of God. But if you choose not to declare your faith, if you choose to love the world, and draw towards Ai.

Then your faith will only bring you close to the world and not God. One may have faith in God but if he refuse to make changes to his life, then his faith is without works. For he refuse to be on the side of Bethel and he refuses to keep the command of God.  That faith cannot save you, for James tell us that the devils believe in God. They understood that the world will be destroyed. But that faith did not save them, for they will never repent and turn back to God.

Choosing The Side Of God

True faith is a faith that is back with actions. One with true faith will choose to remain in the house of God. A man with true faith will automatically draw near to God for their faith is genuine.

If A Christian believe in God and choose to be in the world. If they choose not to draw near to God. Then their faith is a mere lip service. It is not genuine faith. 

For Paul told the church in Ephesus

“For through Him we both have access
  by one Spirit to the Father.

Now, therefore, you are no longer strangers 
and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the 
saints and members of the household of God, 
having been built on the foundation of the 
apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself
  being the chief cornerstone,”- Paul (Eph 2:18-19)

The important work of the Holy Spirit is to give us access to God. The foundation of the Church must be built on both the Apostles and the prophets. All of which must be built upon the teaching of Jesus, which is the chief cornerstone.

We need to hold on to this foundation and not allow it to be changed. For the teaching of the apostles were the instruction of Jesus.  Today there are many who want to change the words of God.  They downplay the new testament, cast doubts on its authenticity. They downplay the importance of baptism, foot washing, and the need to pray for the Holy Spirit.  Instead of following the teaching of Jesus regarding Holy communion. They choose to claim that one need to follow the old feasts under the mosaic covenant. They tell us that as long as one had faith and love, all other things are not important. Some even went one step ahead to say that the teaching of the apostles are distorted rules of churchianity and had no bearings to salvation.

The Need To Defend Gods Truth 

Today when we are faced with such people, we need to choose what we believe and whether we should join them. We need to take a stand so that we can protect the faith of those around us.  Today we do what we do base on the instruction of Christ. These are commands that are meant to be followed and not questioned.

Today if we think that these doesn’t matter, then we are shutting salvation away from those who need them. There will come a time where we need to defend the true faith. If one were to distort the truth,then souls will be lost. We know that if the Lord loses a single sheep, he will seek it out himself.

We need to take the side of God and not the side of man. While others have the right to change their heart and not belief. There is no need for us to contend or fight with him. We can only choose  to preserve our own faith and leave them be. For they have chosen to reject the grace of God.

But if they want to lead others into disbelief, we cannot allow him to do so. We have to make our stand and defend the word of God with all our might. For he can choose whether to believe or not, but he had no right to affect others.

Let us learn to be like Abraham who built his altar in Bethel. For he knows he is a member of Gods house and he wanted to be on the side of God. Let our faith be one that is true and with declaration.

Pt 3.  3rd Altar At Bethel

“Then Abram went up from Egypt,
  he and his wife and all that he had,
  and Lot with him, to the South.
 
 Abram was very rich in livestock,
  in silver, and in gold. 
  And he went on his journey from the
  South as far as Bethel, to the place
  where his tent had been at the
  beginning, between Bethel and Ai, 
  to the place of the altar which he had
  made there at first. And there Abram
  called on the name of the Lord.”-Moses (Gen 13:1-4)

The 3rd Altar is at the same location as the second. This altar is constructed at the same time after he return from Egypt. God instructed him to return to Bethel, to the altar that he had build.

The significance of the 3rd altar is different. It is talking about a renewal of faith. Abraham used to be a strong and faithful believer of God. But when the famine started, his faith collapse. That is why he chose to enter Egypt. He did not enquire of God , he proceeded to Egypt on his own accord. His action was against the will of God, for God wanted him to remain in Canaan.

Abraham can choose to live in Canaan in areas where the famine is not severe. He should not have left of Egypt, but he went down to Egypt anyway. When he felt threatened in Egypt, he did not rely on God, he chose to tell lies. He told them that Sarah was his sister. The pharaoh wanted her as his wife.

There are times when we choose to lie to protect ourselves. Those lies may have brought us some benefits and convenience. Perhaps it may resolve the problem that lies before us, but every lie will be exposed one day. What are we to do when it happens?

The journey to Egypt was a result of the weakness of faith in Abraham. But God continue to stretch out his hands and deliver Abraham from the pharaoh. He manage to leave Egypt and return to Bethel safely.

Abraham was told to rebuild that altar and re-establish his faith.  It must have been a complicated feeling. On one hand he was full of regret, he thought that his faith was good and strong. But yet when trials come before him, he was unable to rely on God.

On the other hand he felt comforted. For God did not reject him despite the fact that he had went against God. God did not abandon him but still helped and resolved his problem. He must have seen the love of God as well as his mercy and forgiveness. This strengthened his resolve to seek and obey God. Even though he had failed, he knew he must rebuild his faith.

A Single Failure Is Not A Permanent Failure

The Altar at Bethel tells us about Abraham rebuilding his faith. It also remind us an important lesson. Our past success doesn’t guarantee success in the future. We saw how strong and powerful the faith of Abraham was and how he became weak.

Let us be weary of our success, be it today or tomorrow. For if we are careless, our success will become failure tomorrow. Let us not indulge in the success of the past but be mindful of the future.

At the same time it remind us that failures in the past is not failure forever. Even though we have fallen, let us not dwell on our mistakes and continue in them. Let us admit our mistake and return to God.

Just like how Abraham rebound from his mistake and return to Bethel. He readjusted his direction in life and return to God.

Many a times Christians choose not to return because we are afraid of being mock and attacked by others. That is why we blame our failures on the lack of love from our fellow brethren. Perhaps it is true that your brethren have failed in their duties as fellow christens. But they are not expert, they love you and they spoke their minds for they did not want you to continue in your mistakes. They wanted you to repent and return, but they are unable to express it well enough. They hurt you so that you will admit your mistakes and to repent before God. Only by doing so can you experience the love and forgiveness of God.

Today we need to do the works of Abraham. Abraham is not the father of faith because he is infallible and without weakness. He is the father of faith for he is able to repent and return to God. He is willing to turn back and change himself to return to God. 

Pt 4: 4th Altar  At Hebron

“Abram dwelt in the land of Canaan,
  and Lot dwelt in the cities of the plain
  and pitched his tent even as far as Sodom.
  
But the men of Sodom were exceedingly
  wicked and sinful against the Lord.

  And the Lord said to Abram, after Lot
  had separated from him: “Lift your eyes
  now and look from the place where you are
  —northward, southward, eastward, and
  westward; for all the land which you see
   I give to you and your descendants forever.

  Then Abram moved his tent, and went and
  dwelt by the terebinth trees of Mamre,
  
which are in Hebron, and built an altar there
  to the Lord.” – Moses (Gen 13:12-15,18 )

This 4th altar is built after Lot departed from Abraham. At that time God appeared to Abraham. Why did Lot leave? Have he stop believing? Have they not come to the promise land together?

There is a change that occurs in Lot, he no longer wants the promise land anymore. He is not able to see the promises of God, but he saw only the beauty of Sodom. Gen 13:10 tells us that the land of Sodom is like the garden of the Lord. That was so before God judged the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah.

Eventually Lot pitch his tents closer and closer to Sodom. But Abraham remain unmoved, his faith towards God unshaken. Even though he faces difficulty in life, he insist on his faith and did not change.

Abraham can choose to enter Sodom and stop his life of wandering. He can choose not to stay in tents. While most of us think its fun to camp outdoors. But to stay in tent permanently is not something which we like.  Life in the city of Sodom is different from life in the wilderness.

Abraham choose to fear God, he look forward to the promises of God. He did not regret his decision nor did he change his faith. He chose not to move into the city of Sodom to stay.

Choosing To Walk In Gods Path

On the other hand you see Lot being unable to resist the temptation and he entered the city. Lot may have still believed in God, but he no longer walk in his way. He had chosen to walk the way of the world, he choose to live life within Sodom

Today there are many Christians who still believe in the Lord. But they have stop walking their life of faith.  But those who believe in God must choose to walk on his way and obey his truth.

Today in life we may encounter trials and tribulation, we will also see others changing their faith, choosing no longer to walk with God. These people may be our friends and even our relative. They can just be like Lot to Abraham.

Who will we choose to follow? Can we continue to stand firm in our faith or will we allow them to influence us? When Lot separated himself from Abraham, Abraham choose to let him go. Abraham will not follow him on the wrong path. It is not that he no longer love Lot, but it is just that their priorities and path are no longer the same.

Abraham survived that trial and stood firm in his faith. That is why when Lot left, God appeared to Abraham and declared his promise to him. Abraham is given the promise of God. That is when Abraham built an altar for God. This is the altar of victory in  his faith.

Today when the ones we love no longer walk the way of the Lord.We would be thrown into a struggle, we will need to decide for ourselves whether we should stay or follow? What will our choice be?

Jesus tell us to do the works of Abraham will we be able to remain faithful to the Lord in the mist of this?

Pt 5: 5th Altar At Mount Moriah

The 5th  altar is the Altar at Mount Moriah. I have described it in the post the Heroes of Faith (Part V) Abraham and Isaac. It is an Altar built by Abraham and his son Isaac. It is the altar that testify of the complete obedience and the complete faith of Abraham.

May we all reach this stage of faith and may we have complete faith in the words of God.

So far we have explored many aspect of Jewish Ceremonial laws in the Shadow Of The Old Testament Series

This is what we have discussed so far

1. The Fall Feast (Part 1)
2. Pauls Explanation Of Col 2 (Part 2)
3. Day Of Atonement (Part 3)
4. Feast Of The Tabernacles (Part 4)
5. Clean And Unclean Meat (Part 5 , Part 6)
6. Burning Of Incense (Part 7, Part 8
7. Lighting Of Lamp (Part 9, Part 10 )
8. Offering Of Sacrifice (Part 11, Part 12)
9. Esther and Purim ( Part 13)
10. The Spring Feast (Part 14)

As Passover had arrived. Let us examine the prefiguration’s of the Passover lamb. Before we start, let us consider what we know from Part 14.

1. The Passover sacrifice is instituted under the Mosaic Covenant
2. It is used to commemorate the night, God  struck the Egyptians and deliver Israel
3. 1 Goat is offered on the day for sin offering on behalf of Israel

The Passover is full of prefiguration’s of Christ. Paul once described Jesus as the Passover lamb (1 Cor 5:7)

Looking Deeper At The Passover Lamb

Throughout the instruction of Moses concerning the Passover lamb, you can see the similarity between Christ and the lamb

Point Fulfilment
1. Without blemish (Ex 12:5) Christ is perfect and sinless
2. ITs bones unbroken (Ex 12:44) Christ’s bones were unbroken in the crucifixion (Jn 19:36)
3. Roasted whole (Ex 12:8-9) Christ offers was one time and complete (Heb 9:11,15,27-28)
4. Eaten with unleavened bread
     and bitter herb (Ex 12:8-9)
Christ had to endure suffering affliction for our sake  (Is 53:5)
5. Its blood be painted on door
    post  (Ex 12:7)
His blood is the blood that saves us from certain death. Today Christians receive his blood through baptism
(ACts 2:38, Rom 6:1-4)
6. Eat with haste (Ex 12:11) Christians who follow Christ must be willing and prepared to leave our lives on earth and walk with God in the wilderness

 

As far as the feast of the Passover is concern, Christ had sacrificed himself and fulfilled all of the requirements written in the Law. His sacrifice is once and for all, and from then on Christians who follow his covenant is called out from the world and need to live a life on earth as a sojourner

Jesus And The Last Passover On Earth

Just before the ultimate sacrifices of Jesus on the cross, on that Last Passover under the Mosaic Covenant. Jesus did 2 things that he commanded his disciples to do.  It is important for after his sacrifice is complete. The era of the Messiah would be started and a beginning of a new covenant would have arrive. At the same time, the old Mosaic Covenant will be fulfilled.

The New Covenant of Christ comes with its own set of feast and ordinances , different from the ones that were given to Moses on Mount Sinai.

Therefore, Jesus instituted 2 of the Most important sacraments of the New Testament on that Last Passover Night of the Old Covenant. In the past I choose to keep doctrinal issues out of my blog so that readers could read what we teach without any biasness.

But nowadays we have Hebrew roots movement that seek to force Christians to go back into keeping of the Passover like the Jews. Yet today they themselves could not keep the feast fully. They each keep to the feast on their own terms which are usually far from what the Mosaic Law requires.

Therefore in this article I would talk about the 2 institution briefly. If today so many from the Hebrew roots movement are willing to go through the difficulty to keep the Passover, which the Jews failed to keep in their thousand years of History.

I am pretty sure they are able to keep the 2 institution of Christ without much problem.
For they are the instruction of Christ and are much simpler compared to the Passover sacrifice.

But yet like the Israelites that they want to emulate. I am pretty sure that they would not be able to do it for they would be full of unbelief to trust the instruction of Christ to do it.

The Breaking OF Bread And Partaking of Cup

There was near Passover, when Jesus was preaching, he performed the great miracle of feeding the 5000 with 5 loaves of bread and 2 fishes. Since that day, there was many who came seeking him. But Jesus said that they were there for bread rather than the truth.

So Jesus shared a truth with them, they must eat the flesh of the son of man and drink his blood for eternal life (Jn 6:53). At that time many disciples followed him no more, for they thought Jesus was talking about physically eating his flesh and drinking his blood. But Jesus explained later.

It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh
  profits nothing. The words that I speak
  to you are spirit, and they are life.” – Jesus (6:63)

This truth is only understood at the last Passover of the Mosaic Covenant when Jesus said this as narrated by Luke the Physician

“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.”- Luke (Lk 22:19)

‘’Likewise He also took the cup after supper,
  saying, “This cup is the new covenant in
  My blood, which is shed for you”- Luke (Lk 22:20)

While Protestant and Catholics fight over transubstantiation consubstantiation. I would simply say that when we bless the unleavened bread and the cup. They are the body and the blood of Christ.

Indeed physically they are unleavened bread and grape juice (for Passover regulations mandated that all leaven be destroyed.) But I believe the Words of Christ when he said, “this is my body”, and “this is my blood”. For I know that the word of God stand. 

Paul tell us that whenever Christians gathers to perform this sacrament. We are proclaiming the death of Christ to the world. 

“For as often as you eat this bread
and drink this cup, you proclaim
the Lord’s death till He comes.” – Paul (1 Cor 11:26)

Note that Paul did not specifically said that this have to be done on Passover only. According to the book of Acts the Early Christians followed the command of Christ, they do it often. Following the instructing of the Apostles.

“And they continued steadfastly in
  the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship,
  in the breaking of bread, and in prayers” – Luke (Acts 2:43)

Foot Washing

On that night same night Jesus did instituted a new sacrament. It was recorded in the gospel of John

“rose from supper and laid aside His
  garments, took a towel and girded
  Himself.  After that, He poured water
  into a basin and began to wash the
  disciples’ feet, and to wipe them with
  the towel with which He was girded” – John (Jn 13:4-5)

Today many Christians understood this washing of feet  as a Jewish custom. In fact on Maundy Thursday, many Church leaders, including the pope will wash the feet of people as a ceremony. They did it out of tradition and they understood the teaching of humility behind the practice. But yet they fail to see its true implication as taught by Jesus

Indeed the Jews have a custom of washing the feet. It is done by a student for the teacher out of respect. It is also done by the mother / wife to her family as a sign of love. When there are guest arriving from outside, the master / servant will draw water from the cistern and wash the feet of the guest before they enter the house and eat supper.

But the act of Jesus is different, it was done in the middle of the supper. When the guest were all seated and eating halfway. In fact Jesus action baffled Simon Peter so much so that Peter asked Jesus

“Lord, are You washing my feet?”- Peter (Jn 13:6)

But Jesus answered him

“What I am doing you do not
  understand now, but you will
  know after this.”- Jesus (Jn 13:7 )

Simon well aware of his position as the student, he knew that he must be humble and his master cannot be washing his feet. That is why he rejected the action of Jesus. But Jesus gave him a stern warning

“If I do not wash you, you have no part with Me.” – Jesus (Jn 13: 8)

That is when Peter change his stand, and wanted to wash his head, hands and feet with the same water. Not long after that Jesus instructed his disciples to follow his example

“Do you know what I have done to you?
  You call Me Teacher and Lord, and you
  say well, for so I am.
 
If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have 
washed your feet, you also ought to wash 
one another’s feet. For I have given 
you an example, that you should do 
as I have done to you.”- Jesus (Jn 13:12-15)

Later on the disciples kept this commandment wherever they go. The early church practiced this foot washing as a sacrament that follows right after baptism

According to the research of E. Peterson (Fruehkirche, Judentum und Gnosis, 1959, s 224-234), the disciples understood the relationship between the sacraments of foot-washing and water baptism after the disciples received the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost. The disciples then performed the sacrament of foot-washing in Antiochia. Later on the practice was spread from Antioch to Milan through Barnabas who traditionally founded the church of Milan.

This practice were outlawed in 306 AD in the Council of Elvira. Where Canon 48 reads

Can 48. The custom of placing coins in the baptismal shell by those being baptised must be corrected so that the priest does not seem to sell for money what he has received freely. Nor shall their feet be washed by Priest or clerics

http://www.awrsipe.com/patrick_wall/selected_documents/309%20council%20of%20elvira.pdf

Despite the Canon, some bishop, particularly Ambrose of Alexandria ,  the Bishop of Milan (333-397). He was known to have defended the importance of the sacrament of foot-washing on many occasion. They insisted that this is the teaching of the apostles. They defied the orders of the council. The church in Milan continued the practice of foot washing as a sacrament until the 7th century. Then the practice of washing of feet after baptism finally disappeared.

Differentiating Between Teachings And Custom Of The Apostles

Today, many in the Hebrew roots movement claims that it is necessary to keep the old testament feast. The reason that are given varies group by group. In summary, most of their arguments are this

1. Polycarp and Eusebius both claim this
     a. Paul taught the disciples to Offer Bread and Cup on the passover 
         (Extracted Pionus, Life of Polycarp(Vol. 3.2, pp. 488-506).
     b. Philip the deacon and his daughters, Polycarp kept the passover 
         (Eusebius. (trans. 1890). Church History (Book 5, chapter 24:6))
2.Jesus kept the Passover as an example
3. Paul and the apostles were seen to keep the feast (I Cor. 16:8-9, Acts 18:21)

Indeed, there is no lack of evidence that shows the apostles keeping the feast as Jews. If the disciples could take the offering of bread and cup on a daily basis. What is so strange behind the fact that they did it on Jewish feast day?

If Christians need to keep these feast, why did the apostles only did it themselves? When Paul is travelling to keep the feast in Jerusalem on Acts 18, why did he not drag the entire church to travel with him to Jerusalem to keep the feast?  Why did he go alone?

While the apostles have own traditions, as long as these traditions are not contrary to the teaching of Jesus. They are free to do what they want within the boundary of the teaching of Christ.

The fact is that these people kept the feast on their own capacity. They did not enforce their traditions onto the church even though they may share it with their close apostles.

Indeed Polycarp and Eusebius may have identified that some of the apostles kept the feast. But Eusebius also record that once Anicetus came to debate with Polycarp about the practice. They both decided that this matter not be a reason to divide the church.

Church Historian Sozomen also noted
They faithfully and justly assumed, that those who accorded in the essentials of worship ought not to separate from one another on account of customs

Sozomen, Historia ecclesiastica, 7.19 (NPNF2 1, pp. Wikisource-logo.svg 389–390).

The early church fathers know that these are just mere customs and they are not the same as the instruction of Christ. They agree to disagree on the issue on whether the breaking of bread must be done on Passover or not.

If this matter is something that is that important.Both Polycarp and Anicetus would have made a stand similar to what Ambrose did with regards to foot washing.

When Custom And Tradition Takes Over The Command Of Jesus

I once shared in Part 2 of this series that Traditions can be a double edged sword. Some traditions are able to exhort a certain group of people. But it would bear no meaning to many others who do not have the same understanding and background.

The disciples may have their own traditions, they may have done something that holds significance to them. But as long as it is not from Christ. There is no need to do it for the sake of traditions.

One traditions may be good for some but may not be good for others. Talmud and Misnah were not overnight creations. They are traditions and customs of some Rabbis who were passed down on top of what the Torah teaches. Over time more and more traditions pile onto it. There are only additions to it and never subtraction.

The final result of this process is a ritualised religion that is full of rules and tradition but devoid of the actual obedience to the word of God. While Christians of today condemned the Pharisees and Rabbinical Judaism for its endless Talmud and Takanot. Let us refrain from creating our own version of the Babylonian Talmud for the sake of the next generation of Christians.

Let us choose to be obedient to the command of Jesus and do what he instruct us to do.

Conclusion : The True Practitioner Of The Torah

To those who can really understand the Torah, and the significance of the feast and festivals as well as those who truly understand the Mosaic Covenant and how it works. They can see very clearly how the messiahs death fulfil all the requirements of all the Law of Moses. How the sacrifice of the Messiah made the Feast under the Mosaic Covenant obsolete 

They are able to see how the coming of the Messiah 2 thousands years ago had brought about a new covenant signed between God and man. Within that Covenant contains the blood of Jesus which cleanse man of sin. By so doing it had taken away the sacramental effect of the feast for now there is no longer a need to offer sin offerings every feast

They will understand that the new Covenant by the messiah is not the same as the covenant sign on mount Sinai. They are able to see how God through Jesus call out a group of gentiles and Jews who would keep the covenant of Christ

They will know that the spirit of God no longer dwells in temple but lives in the heart of man. That the Holy Spirit is meant to stay in men and lead man into the truth. That the Holy Spirit will teach men what Jesus taught. The Holy Spirit is poured out on both Jews and Gentiles alike regardless if they kept the Mosaic Law or not.

They will truly understand the significance of the Torah and what it meant to those who are saved.  How Christ had taken all the curse of the Law and wanted his followers to keep the Spirit of the Law which far exceeds what the physical interpretation of the Law.

They will not subscribe to  the extreme branch of Christianity who believes that since justification come through faith there is no longer a need to establish the Law of God in their lives.

They will not be deluded to take the sacrifice of Christ as a free pass to go sin but view it as a grace where man could repent and return to God when they failed to keep the moral standard of the Law as taught by Christ. They will repent from their sins and allow the blood of Christ to cleanse them once again so that they could continue in their quest to establish the Law of God

They will not hold on to obsolete and fulfilled feast that are fulfilled by Christ on the cross. Nor will they stubbornly choose to keep the Law on their own terms, doing it in the same tradition of disobedience  so commonly seen among the keepers of the Mosaic Covenant throughout the generations.  They will be able to keep the instruction and covenant of Christ while understanding and keeping the Spirit of the Law as taught by Moses.

They will not waste their time creating mindless feel good tradition that bears no effect on Salvation. Instead they will seize every opportunity to quickly tell others to follow Christ and have their sin forgiven. They will follow everything as taught and instructed by Jesus.

May we all understand the true Significance of the Law of Moses and understand the true requirement given to Christians.

So far we have explored many aspect of Jewish Ceremonial laws in the Shadow Of The Old Testament Series

This is what we have discussed so far

1. The Fall Feast (Part 1)
2. Pauls Explanation Of Col 2 (Part 2)
3. Day Of Atonement (Part 3)
4. Feast Of The Tabernacles (Part 4)
5. Clean And Unclean Meat (Part 5 , Part 6)
6. Burning Of Incense (Part 7, Part 8
7. Lighting Of Lamp (Part 9, Part 10 )
8. Offering Of Sacrifice (Part 11, Part 12)
9. Esther and Purim ( Part 13)

When I begin writing this series. It was at the fall feast of 2016. Now we have approached the arrival of the Spring Feast. The Spring Feast would start today from Passover. The Spring Feast contains many prophecies regarding Christ. As Christian we ought to know these prophesies and find Christ from within it.

While many in the Hebrew Roots movement advocate the fact that Christians ought to keep the feast. But those who truly understand the Covenant of Christ will know that Christ had fulfilled the requirements of these feast.

Lets examine the Spring Feast From The Torah.

What Are The Spring Feast?

The Spring Feast consist of 4 Festivals, 3 of it happen in the month of Nisan while 1 happened on the month of Sivan. The name of the festivals are

1. Passover (Pesach)  (14th Nissan)
2. Unleavened Bread (Chag Hamotzi) (15th – 22nd Nissan)
3. First Fruit (Yom Habbikurim) (Nisan 16th – 17th )
4. Pentecost (Shavuót) (Sivan 6th to 7th)

The purpose of each of the feast are as follows

Feast Purpose As Stated in Mosaic Law
Passover ‘It is the Passover sacrifice of the Lord, who passed over the houses of the children of Israel in Egypt when He struck the Egyptians and delivered our households.’
(Ex 12:27)
Unleavened Bread “So you shall observe the Feast of Unleavened Bread, for on this same day I will have brought your armies out of the land of Egypt. Therefore you shall observe this day throughout your generations as an everlasting ordinance.” (Ex 12:17)
Frist Fruit ‘My father was a Syrian, about to perish, and he went down to Egypt and dwelt there, few in number; and there he became a nation, great, mighty, and populous.  But the Egyptians mistreated us, afflicted us, and laid hard bondage on us.
Then we cried out to the Lord God of our fathers, and the Lord heard our voice and looked on our affliction and our labor and our oppression. 
So the Lord brought us out of Egypt with a mighty hand and with an outstretched arm, with great terror and with signs and wonders. He has brought us to this place and has given us this land, “a land flowing with milk and honey”;  and now, behold, I have brought the firstfruits of the land which you, O Lord, have given me.’ (Deu 26:4-10)
Pentecost  You shall rejoice before the Lord your God, you and your son and your daughter, your male servant and your female servant, the Levite who is within your gates, the stranger and the fatherless and the widow who are among you, at the place where the Lord your God chooses to make His name abide. And you shall remember that you were a slave in Egypt, and you shall be careful to observe these statutes. (Deut 16:11()

From these verses, we know that the fundamental purpose of the spring feast is to remember the deliverance of God to Israel and to remember the exodus of Israel from Egypt.

The True Sacramental Value Of The Feast

Besides this, God had made it a requirement for Levites to make sin offering for Israel within the feast. For this is an occasion he had mandated animals offering for the atonement of sin of Israel. In one of the previous entries. We have tabulated the amount of animals to be killed.

 

Interestingly, it is the same number of goats are killed are the same across the spring feast and the fall feast. It is these sin offerings that was offered that had the effect of atonement for sin.

Careful reading of the Law will tell us this
1. The Passover lamb sacrifice is given to save Israel from death (not sin)
2. The offering of the first fruits, and Pentecost are given as thanksgiving to God

None of the thing done by the people in the spring feast atones for sin. The actions of the Levites to offer the sin offering as Israel gather, atones for the sin of Israel. Hence the sin was not forgiven through the Passover lamb nor the offering of first fruit.

The Order Of Events In The Feast

Under the Mosaic Covenant, the Spring Feast are supposed to be kept in the following manner

Phase 1 : Choosing Of Passover Lamb (10th Nisan)

On the 10th of the month, Israel is suppose to choose a 1 year old lamb from either the sheep and the goat. The Lamb is supposed to be kept for 4 days. It is during this period the Israelites will start to find and gather leaven that is found in their house in preparation for Passover.

Phase 2: Burning of Leavened  and Killing The Passover Lamb (14th Nisan)

AT the beginning  of the Passover, most Israelites will burn out the leaven that are in the house. For they are suppose to be eating unleavened bread for the  next few days. God instructed that no leaven is to be found in the land during that 7 days.  (Ex 12:19)

At Twilight of 14th Nisan, the Passover lamb will be killed and roasted whole. The bones of the lamb must not be broken.  (Num 9:12). The  lamb is eaten together with bitter herbs and unleavened bread.  (Num 9:11). Any remaining lamb uneaten must be burnt in the morning

Phase 3: Feast of Unleavened Bread (15-22nd Nisan)

After that they are to eat unleavened bread for 7 days. and no leavened must be found in their house during this period of time.

Phase 4: Feast of First Fruits  (22nd Nisan)

They are to go before God and present their first fruit offering in thanksgiving. The gift of First Fruits  is God’s way of reminding the Israelites that they are brought into the land flowing with milk and honey by God. All firstfruits must be given to the Priest and Levites who serve God. (Deut 18:3-5)

Phase 5: Pentecost (6th Sivan)

After the harvest is complete. They are to bring freewill offering to the temple for thanksgiving as well. This is given freely as offering to God.

The Need  For Keeping The Spring Feast

Interestingly, today there are many who believed in Christ and thinks that Christians ought to keep these feast as prescribed in the Torah. Some who profess to believe in Christ claims that the Passover was substituted by Easter by the non Jewish Christians. Others claims that Apostles John kept the  Passover and taught Polycarp to do it. Hence it is a teaching of the apostles to keep the Passover.  Others cited Paul in 1 Cor 5:6-8 claiming that Paul advocated the teaching of keeping the feast. And there are many self proclaimed online scholars who then dig into thousands of letters of Church fathers for evidence of the disciples keeping the feast. They all post their 1001 findings online.

So how should the Christians keep this feast? Is there still a need to keep it? If yes should we follow the Pharisees? Sadducees? Karites? Do we only follow the Law of Moses?

Interestingly many of the advocates are divided over these question. But if we indeed want to follow strictly to the Torah, why is it that no one followed everything as stipulated in the order of event?

It seem to me that many of these Hebrew wannabes are unable to keep even the simple and straight forward instructions in the Law of Moses. They want to celebrate it in the way that they would want to do it. But yet when one fails to keep the Law completely, is guilty of the Law. God will disregard all that he had done and view him as a sinner (Eze 33:13)

The Covenant of Christ is Unlike The Covenant At Sinai

But those who really understood the Covenant of the Messiah will understand a simple fact. That the covenant of the Messiah is signed with the house of Israel. It is signed when Christ died on the cross and  he resurrected. He gave that Covenant to Israel. It was entrusted to the disciples.

Jeremiah already said this about the new Covenant

“Behold, the days are coming, says
  the Lord, when I will make a new
  covenant with the house of Israel
  and with the house of Judah— not
  according to the covenant that I
   made with their fathers in the day
  that I took them by the hand to lea
  d them out of the land of Egypt, My
  covenant which they broke, though
   I was a husband to them “-YHWH (Jer 31:31-32)

The new covenant of Christ is not according to what was given to Israel on mount Sinai. The old Covenant was not abolished. But rather Christ had born all the curse of the Law by dying on the cross. By so doing he had fulfilled the requirement of the Law of Moses.

The Spring Feast contains this message Clearly. The Prophecies of the messiah is seen within its rules and regulation. It illustrated the salvation plan from the perspective of God. It talks about the things God need to do in order to fulfil salvation.

In the first covenant, Israel must kill the lamb to begin their Journey to Canaan and they must offer their first fruits and freewill offering to thank God for inheriting Canaan

In the Christian Covenant, Christian must be baptised in the blood of Christ, have their feet washed to begin their journey with Christ. They are to take the Holy Communion to proclaim the faith of Christ. They need to receive the Holy Spirit and keep the Sabbath.

All the sacraments of the new covenant would not be effective without the sacrifice of Christ.

Christ Fulfil The Requirement Of The Spring Feast

So now comes the Big question. What did Christ fulfilled? This question is central to Christians as we need to understand how Christ fulfil the Spring Feast

Feast Christ Fulfilment Christian Understanding
Passover “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 (1 Cor 5:7)
1. Christ is the Passover lamb
2. He was sacrificed once and for all
3. Christ Instruction on Passover 
  a.To have feet washed   
  b. Holy communion to remember him
Unleavened Bread “how much more shall the blood of
  Christ, who through the eternal
  Spirit offered Himself without spot
  to God, cleanse your conscience
  from dead works to serve the
  living God?”- Hebrews (Heb 9:14)
1. Christ is sinless at death
2. purge out leaven /sin (1 Cor 5: 8)   
  a. Baptised for sin to be forgiven 
Frist Fruit “But now Christ is risen from the
  dead, and has become the
  firstfruits of those who have
  fallen  asleep.” – Paul (1 Cor
  15:20)

“But each one in his own order:
  Christ the firstfruits, afterward
  those who are Christ’s at His
  coming.” – Paul (1 Cor 15:23)

1. Christ Resurrection was first fruit
2. When Christ died, those who died in  sin under the Mosaic Covenant
     were finally redeem and saved.

3. The Resurrected Christ is the
     example of believers who died in
     Christ.

Pentecost “This Jesus God has raised up, of 
  which we are all witnesses.
  Therefore being exalted to the
  right hand of God, and having
  received from the Father the
  promise of the Holy Spirit, He
  poured out this which you now
  see and hear.” – Peter (Acts 2:32-
  33)

“Not only that, but we also who
  have the firstfruits of the Spirit,
  even we ourselves groan within 
  ourselves, eagerly waiting for the
  adoption, the redemption of our
  body.”-Paul (Rom 8:23)

1. Pentecost beginning of harvest
    a. Beginning of Harvest of The World
2. Made possible by Christ ascension
3. Christians are to pray for Holy Spirit
    a. As this is God Dwelling with us
    b. We need to live for God 
  

4. Christians are first fruit of the Spirit
    a. We need to persevere n faith

While Hebrews of the past gathers in these festivals to thank God for saving them out of Egypt. Christians keep the spirit of this festivals by following the instructions of Jesus. We are to receive Baptism for the forgiveness of our sins, not to be tainted by the sin of the world. We are to receive foot washing to have a part with Christ as spoken by him. (Jn 13:8,15 ) as Christ had commanded us on the last Passover of the world. We are to pray for the Holy Spirit and walk according to the Spirit.

In our Previous study, we looked deeper into the the term “The Curse Of The Law”".  Let us examine another term  used by Paul to describe the Law of Moses

There is therefore now no
  condemnation to those who
  are in Christ Jesus, who do not
  walk according to the flesh, but
  according to the Spirit.

  For the law of the Spirit of life in
  Christ Jesus has made me free from
  the law of sin and death.

   For what the law could not do in that
  it was weak through the flesh, God did
  by sending His own Son in the likeness
  of sinful flesh, on account of sin: He condemned
  sin in the flesh, that the righteous
  requirement of the law might be
  fulfilled in us who do not walk according
  to the flesh but according to the Spirit.” –Paul (Rom 8:1-4)

Introduction

Paul described the Law as a Law of Sin and Death, one that requires the death of Jesus to do what the Law of Moses failed to do. Jesus had to fulfil the righteous requirement of the Law so that his follows can now walk according to the Spirit.

When Paul described the Law of Moses as the Law of Sin and Death. It resulted to many modern Theologian condemning the Mosaic Covenant, giving it a low regard. As the result, many Christians read their works and think that the Mosaic law is a bad covenant .

This type of thinking lead to an extreme concept known as ANTINOMIANISM which is the idea that justification through faith is alone, making void the need to keep the Law. Protestants who followed such thinking swing to the extreme where faith justifies everything and there is no need to keep even the basic morality behind the Mosaic Covenant

Both extremes are incorrect, today we will examine what Paul  meant in greater details. Looking into the Torah to better understand why Paul called the Mosaic law a law of sin and death.

 Basic Principle:  A Perfect Law Kept By Imperfect Israel

Before we begin our journey, let us remember that a Covenant is signed between 2 parties. In the case of Mosaic Covenant, it was signed between Israel and God. In the new Testament, we often read the Mosaic Law as the law given by angels (CF Acts 7:53, Heb 2:2). Angels here do not refer to spiritual beings but referred to Prophets, the messenger sent by God.

In the case of the Mosaic Covenant. The Law was delivered by Moses to Israel. Moses is the angel (messenger) sent by God to Israel. When the Law was given it was perfect.  It was meant to help one become wise for salvation.

King David once spoke of the Law of God

“The law of the Lord is perfect, converting the soul;
  The testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple;
   The statutes of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart;
  The commandment of the Lord is pure, enlightening the eyes;
  The fear of the Lord is clean, enduring forever;
  The judgments of the Lord are true and righteous
  altogether.” – David (Ps 19:7-9)

But yet the same man failed to keep the Law on one occasion

“because David did what was right
  in the eyes of the Lord, and had not
  turned aside from anything that He
  commanded him all the days of his life,
   except in the matter of Uriah the Hittite.” – Author (1 King 15:5)

The main flaw in the Mosaic Covenant is about sin. Sin happens whenever one fall short of the Law of God. This flaw happened not because the Law given by God is imperfect. But the problems lies with those who lived under the Covenant. For even the best of them was unable to keep the words of the Covenant.

In the previous post about the curse of the Law. We have seen the effect of sin. The transgressors of the law had to suffer from the curse of the Law. The Law was powerless in stopping the people from sin. The Law was only able to teach Israel what is sin but was unable to prevent them from sinning.

How The Mosaic Law Dealt With Sin

Basically the Mosaic law deals with sin using a 2 pronged approach 

1. Sin Offering.

Lev 4 describes the requirement of the Law with regards to a sin offering. This sin offering is offered. Personally I have compiled the amount of animals to be sacrificed and tabulated an estimate here

Under the Mosaic Covenant, you would need about 1263 animals to be sacrificed. Out of which 20 goats is sacrificed yearly on both the spring and the fall festivals when Israel gathers for their feast before the Lord. You will notice that in this diagram, Goats are only offered during festivals and both the spring and fall feast requires about 10 goats each.

As shared in the articles regarding the feast of the Tabernacles. Among all the feast of the Lord. The Feast of the tabernacles requires the most sacrifice.

2.The Reading Of The Law
According to the Law of Moses. The Kings who govern the people of God is required to copy the Law of God with his own hand (Deut 17:19-20) . He is required to read it all the days of his life, and be careful to observe all the words of the Law  and its statutes

Levites and Priest are to be scribes to copy the word of God by their own hands. A copy if would be kept in the Temple / Tabernacle. The place where God name dwells.

For the common man, Moses instructed that the Law to be read to the people every Seven years, (which coincides with the sabbatical year AKA sabbaths). It is probably read also on the year of Jubilee which occurs once every 50 years.

Moses explained the rationale of this clearly

“Gather the people together, men
  and women and little ones, and the
  stranger who is within your gates,
  that they may hear and that they
  may learn to fear the Lord your God
  and carefully observe all the words of
  this law,  and that their children, who
  have not known it, may hear and learn
  to fear the Lord your God as long as you
  live in the land which you cross the
  Jordan to possess.”- Moses (Deut 31:9)

We need to note that the Law that Moses is referring to here refers specifically the book of Deuteronomy. As it is the address of Moses meant for the entire nation of Israelites.

We know that later on when the Synagogues are formed during the Babylonian captivity and the Persian period. The Jews that gather made it a point to read from the Law and Prophets a regular basis. 

The Law Was Unable To Save And Justify

The Law is a set of moral instructions given directly by God in the ten commandments. The rest the moral law penned down by Moses were received from God. They are detailed in the ten commandments. 

Those who keep it faithfully will prevent themselves from sinning against God. It is effective in stopping them from sinning against God in the future. But that can only help prevent future sins from happening. It is powerless against sins that are already committed.

As those who transgress the Law face the curse of the Law. We see this happening again and again throughout the old testament.  This flaw came not because God or the Law was evil. But the failure of man to keep the Law is the main point of failure.

Despite countless of feast and reminder from the Law failed to prevent Israel from facing the curse of the Law. No men was able to keep the full Law of Moses, and those who transgress the commandments are guilty of sin. For they fall short of the standard of the Law.

God had never desired offering of animals for any of his feast or for any reason. he spoke Clearly through Prophet Samuel

“Has the Lord as great delight in
  burnt offerings and sacrifices, As
  in obeying the voice of the Lord?
  Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice,
  And to heed than the fat of rams.”-Samuel (1 Sam 15:22)

God had never desire the cutting of foreskin over the obedience to his words. As Moses Exhorts

“Therefore circumcise the
  foreskin of your heart, and
  be stiff-necked no longer.”- Moses (Deut 10:16)

“Break up your fallow ground,
  And do not sow among thorns.
   Circumcise yourselves to the Lord,
  And take away the foreskins of your hearts,
  You men of Judah and inhabitants of Jerusalem,
  Lest My fury come forth like fire,
  And burn so that no one can quench it,
  Because of the evil of your doings.”- YHWH (Jer 4:3-4)

From here we know, that even among those who kept the Law. In the eyes of God they are not righteous

“God looks down from heaven upon the children of men,
  To see if there are any who understand, who seek God.
  Every one of them has turned aside;
  They have together become corrupt;
  There is none who does good,
  No, not one.”- David (Ps 14:2-3, Ps 53:2-3)

David was a man who kept the Law of God and viewed it as his delight. But yet he himself was guilty of transgressing the Law of God when he plotted against Uriah the Hittite. He had to suffer from the curse of the Law the latter part of his Life.

Those who kept the Law understands sin. Those who practice it, prevented themselves from sinning against God actively. But even if they keep it fully. They will not be righteous in the eyes of God. In the eyes of God all the righteousness of man are like filthy rags. Just as God said through Prophet Isaiah

"But we are all like an
  unclean thing, And all
  our righteousnesses are
  like filthy rags; We all
  fade as a leaf, And our
  iniquities, like the wind,
  Have taken us away."- Isaiah (Is 64:6)

Those who kept the Law , Dies in sin

The Law had not saved anyone. All those who kept died in sin. This is mentioned all over the old testament

“For there is not a just man
  on earth who does good
  And does not sin.” – Solomon ( Eccl 7:20 )

“If You, Lord, should mark iniquities,
  O Lord, who could stand?
  But there is forgiveness with You,
  That You may be feared.”-Psalmist ( Ps 130:3-4 )

Those of the old covenant are often guilty of transgression. Despite all the offering, feast they have attended despite the number of sin offering made on their behalf. Those who kept all the law are deemed righteous. But yet God stated an important fact through Prophet Ezekiel

“But when a righteous man
  turns away from his righteousness
  and commits iniquity, and does
  according to all the abominations t
  hat the wicked man does, shall he live?
  All the righteousness which he has
  done shall not be remembered; because
  of the unfaithfulness of which he is guilty
  and the sin which he has committed,
  because of them he shall die “ – YHWH (Eze 18:24)

Over here God specifically say that any man who commits iniquity will die in his sin. All the righteousness that he had did will not be remembered. He will die in his sin. In fact all who followed the Law suffered from the curse of the Law. They all died in their sin.

The Covenant Broken And Renewed Continuously

The Covenant was delivered by God at Mount Sinai, Israel only managed to keep it for 40 days before they transgress the covenant by constructing the Golden Calf.

The Covenant was renewed by Moses, but Israel broke it by refusing to enter Canaan. As the result the entire congregation died in the wilderness except for Joshua, Caleb and some Levites.

The Covenant was renewed  at the time of Joshua, and after that it was broken during the period of the judges.

Then Samuel came along, renewed the covenant. David prepared to build the temple. The temple was later consecrated during the time of Solomon But we know that it was eventually broken by both the Kingdom of Israel and Judah. Various Kings in those period tried to hold on to the Covenant. But eventually Israel and Judah both suffered from the curse of the Law. They were judged by God. They were destroyed by the Assyrians and the Babylonians.

Later on Israel renewed the covenant during the time of Ezra and Nehemiah. But we know by the time of Malachi, the Covenant was broken once again.

Conclusion And What Is To Come

I hope that at the end of this, we are able to understand the flaw of the Old covenant regarding sin. the flaws did not come from God or the Law, but it came from our inability to keep the Law of God. 

Anyone who is unable to keep the Law in its entirety, transgress against God. The result of it is that they must face the curse of the Law. That is to be punished for their transgression.

Even though God had consecrated and set Israel apart as a nation holy to him. His Tabernacle continue to dwell in their uncleanness and it had to be cleanse on the day of Atonement as to atone for the sins committed by Israel.

Today there are many in the Hebrew Roots movement who claims that they tries their best to keep the Law. But yet in their disparate attempt to keep the Law. They focus a lot about follow the feast, keeping the Law. But yet their practices were far from what is required in the Law of Moses.  Sometimes I wonder if they know that anyone who fall short of a bit from the requirement of the Law, will face the curse of the Law.

In the next article. We would explore the Law from a Christian perspective. What is the relationship between Christians and the Law? Is The Law merely a Hebrew tradition that had no relationship with Christianity? 

Recently I saw a video that is posted on face book

https://www.facebook.com/thewaydocumentary/videos/1261129193979849/

In it was a person called Michael Rood and he was talking about the book of Galatians

Here is a transcript of what he had said

“The Torah say will come upon if you don’t obey this
  Everyone who is outside of the works of the law is under a curse
  That’s what it says in Deuteronomy and that what it say in Galatians

  It quotes Deuteronomy right there But they mistranslated it 
  All those of the works of the law, no one is …
  All who are outside the words of the works of the law are under the curse
  Just like what it says””"

So out of curiosity I went to look for the verse that he was talking about it is Gal 3:10

“For as many as are of the works of the
  law are under the curse; for it is written,
  “Cursed is everyone who does not continue
  in all things which are written in the book
  of the law, to do them.”- Paul (Gal 3:10)

This the verse in Deut 27 : 26 reads

“Cursed is the one who does not confirm all
  the words of this law by observing them.’ … “- Moses (Deut 27:26)

According to Mr Rood, that means that those who do not observe the Law are cursed.  But did Paul misquote the verse? If not, what did Paul meant by the curse of the Law? When you read the verse in Deuteronomy , is it a true misquote? Or was it a misunderstanding of the words of Paul?

Initial Reaction

Mr Rood is not the only person on earth who can read Hebrew. I am sure Paul ability to use the Hebrew language when quoting scripture is not in anyway inferior to Mr Rood. Both Mr Rood and Paul are looking at the verse from 2 different perspective

1. It is true that whoever who is outside the law, is cursed. (Non Torah keepers)
2. Israelites who knows the law and fail to keep it, it cursed in the same way

Paul is not misquoting or mistranslating the scriptures. Anyone who read Deut 27 knows that Moses was addressing the Israelites and talking to them about the Law of God. Deut 27 contain curses that would befall Israel should they fail to keep the Law.

Understanding The Law Of Moses And Its Contents

When God gave the Law through Moses. The law is perfect. It illustrates the concept of morality that is expected of the people of God. The ten commandments contains the moral code and the spirit of the entire Law.

In those days, the Law also contains prophecies concerning the messiah found within the ordinances and statutes concerning the feast and sacrifices. The Spring Feast illustrate Gods salvation plan from Gods perspective where he had to be the Passover lamb, the first fruit of resurrection and to come and live among his believers from Pentecost onwards

The fall feast illustrate the salvation plan from believers perspective. Today believers must blow the trumpet to announce Gods ‘redemption method of forgiving sin through his blood. It is through his blood we enter into Gods presence through the veil that is Jesus. From now on believers had entered into the Holies Of Holies together with Christ into the presence of God. From now on the Spirit of God resides in our hearts, which is sprinkled with the blood of Christ. It is because of that we now dwell in booths, living with an attitude that we are pilgrims and sojourners until we finally enter rest in the Kingdom of Heaven.

Finally the law contains rules which is given by God as he  wanted his children to lead a life separate from the people of the world.  These law are given to separate Israel from the people of the world.

This is as spoken by God in the book of Leviticus 

“I am the Lord your God, who has
  separated you from the peoples. 
  You shall therefore distinguish
  between clean animals and unclean,
  between unclean birds and clean,
  and you shall not make yourselves
  abominable by beast or by bird, or by
  any kind of living thing that creeps on
  the ground, which I have separated
  from you as unclean.
  And you shall be holy to Me, for I the
  Lord am holy, and have separated you
  from the peoples, that you should be Mine.”- YHWH (Lev 20:24-26)

What Is The Curse Of The Law?

The Law Of Moses is a collection of blessings & curses. An example is found in Deut 27 , 28. Those who successfully manage to keep the law of Moses completely, would be blessed by God. Those who fail to keep it would be judged by God. They are cursed. Most of often than not, those who fail to keep the slightest of commandments are judged by God quickly and death would follow.

Let us consider a few practical example of this curse 
1. At Sinai, when Israel worshipped the Golden Calf, 3000 men were killed
2. Nadab and Abihu were killed for offering profane fire  before God
3. Eli and his sons were judged for failing their duties as Priest before God
4. The man who profane Sabbath in numbers was stone to death
5. Achan was judged when he disobeyed God and took the spoil of Jericho
6. The Benjamites were killed by Israel in the incident of the Levite and his wife
7. Korah and his gang were killed when the land swallowed them up
8.  The Kingdom of Israel and Judah were destroyed for failing to keep God Law
9. The entire generation of Israelites died in the wilderness for their unbelief

Was the Law To Be Blamed For These Calamities ?

These curse and judgment happen not because there is a flaw in the Law of God. But the curse came upon these people for they have failed to uphold the standards of the Law. The fault lies in the keepers  and not the law of God. God is executing fair judgement to the transgressors of his law

While some may called these transgressors as those outside the Law. But the fact is that all the transgressors here were descendant of Abraham. They were the Israelites bounded under the Mosaic Covenant. Circumcised with the mark of the Mosaic Covenant.

Just as Gentiles were punished by God for sinning and falling short of the standard of God. The same punishment is reserved for the children of Israel who failed to keep the Law which was given to them by God.

That is why both Jews and Gentiles require the salvation of Christ.

What Is To Come?

Now we have a better understanding of what Paul meant by the curse of the Law. Let us now examine another verse in the New Testament

“For if that first covenant had been faultless,
  then no place would have been sought for a
  second” – Author Of Hebrews (Heb 8:7)

On the surface, it appear as if the Mosaic Covenant is full of flaws. But is that what the Author of Hebrews really talking about? The curse of the Law is an example of this fault in the First Covenant. But is this fault a problem of God? Or the fault really lies in the keepers of the Torah?

Let us examine this deeper for only by understanding this correctly can one really appreciate the salvation which God had accomplished through Christ.

Introduction

In the series, we have explored quite a number of areas of the Old Testament

1. The Fall Feast (Part 1)
2. Pauls Explanation Of Col 2 (Part 2)
3. Day Of Atonement (Part 3)
4. Feast Of The Tabernacles (Part 4)
5. Clean And Unclean Meat (Part 5 , Part 6)
6. Burning Of Incense (Part 7, Part 8
7. Lighting Of Lamp (Part 9, Part 10 )
8. Offering Of Sacrifice (Part 11, Part 12)

Today is Mar 9 2017. Those who are big fan of the Jewish festivals would know that today is the beginning of Ta’anit Ester. This is a commemoration of the 3 day fast requested by Queen Esther before taking the risk of going before the presence of the King

“Go, gather all the Jews who
  are present in Shushan, and
  fast for me; neither eat nor
  drink for three days, night or
  day. My maids and I will fast
  likewise. And so I will go to the 
  king, which is against the law;
  and if I perish, I perish!”- Esther (Esther 4:16)

This is interesting this year as we just commemorated International Woman’s day one day ago.

On the sunset of 11th Mar 2017 to 12 Mar 2017 marks the feast of Purim in the Jewish Calendar. In the Jewish calendar it is yearly on 14th day of Adar Month. It is a feast that is not found in the Mosaic Covenant. The origin of the feast is dated during the time of Persian rule and the defeat of the Babylonian empire. The story of Purim is recorded in details in the book  if Esther.

The Historical Esther

My interest for history and archaeology led me on a search for the historical Queen Esther. But the fact is that there are not a lot of archaeological proof for queen Esther. There have been traditions, sites that are identified as the tomb of Esther and Mordecai in Iran. But none of these traditions can be verified in anyway.

Those who attempted to link her to various known historical characters have problem identifying all the characters in the story. The king identified in the story is either Artaxerxes I (reigned 465 to 424 BCE) or Artaxerxes II (reigned 404 to 358 BCE).

However it is impossible to identify the rest of the characters in the story

I believe that is where we need to ask ourselves if we are willing to accept the fact that the biblical account of the story is real or not. But for me the fact that God had allowed the story to be part of the bible is enough.

While i hope that one day good evidence will be found. I will believe the words of God with my heart and believe that the story indeed happened.

A Quick Recap Of The Origins 

The story of Queen Esther is set in the Persian Citidel of Sushan . To a young Jewish girl whose name was Hadassah. She was an orphan living with her uncle Mordecai. In those days the king called for a feast and wanted her queen (Vashti)  to come to the feast so that all could see her beauty. But the queen refused the request. As the result Queen Vashti was dethroned and sent away.

That is when the king called for young maiden to come to the palace to be selected as the next queen. Hadassah went to the palace and kept her Jewish identity secret. She took on the name Esther.  By grace of God, she won the favour of the King and was crowned Queen Esther. During that time an assassination attempt was made to the king. It was stopped by Queen Esther and Mordecai her uncle.

Somewhere outside the palace, an Agagite (Some believed to be Amalekite) known as Haman was made into a powerful political figure. He wanted everyone to bow and pay homage to him. But Mordecai the Jew refuse to bow down to him. Out of Anger, he plotted to kill all the Jews living within the Persian empire. He convinced the King to write an edict to exterminate all Jews living within the Persian Empire. He also created a giant gallows to hang Mordecai on it.

Mordecai and the Jews read the edict. They were sad and distressed. At this point of time Mordecai decided to approach Queen Esther for help to save the Jews. Esther wanted to help, but Persian Law dictates that no one is to come close to the King when they are not being summoned. That is a rule punishable by death. The King however is allowed to extend his sceptre to that person and he/she will be spared of death.

Esther summoned up all the courage, urge all the Jews to pray for her. She fasted for 3 days before going before the king. By grace of God, when she appeared, the King extended his sceptre to Esther saving her from death. She invited Haman and the King to her banquet.

On the second night of the banquet. Esther fell before the King and begged the king for mercy. she told the king that Haman wanted to kill all the Jews. The king saw Haman falling down across the couch where Esther was, he ordered Haman to be captured. Later on Haman was hanged on the Gallows that he had prepared for Mordecai. The King went on to write an edict allow the Jews to protect their lives and to take vengeance on their adversaries.

The Jews celebrated the festival with joy, for God turned the day of destruction for the Jews to a day of feasting and gladness. This is the origin of this festival.

Lessons From Esther

The name of God is not mentioned in the book of Esther. But there are some who claim that the name YHWH appears in the conversations in the book (link here). However I am no expert in Hebrew. I would provide the link for those who are curious about it.

I believe there are many lessons we can learn from Esther

1. There are coincidences in life, some of them are orchestrated by God.

The book of Esther is full of Coincidences. Queen Vashti being dethroned, Esther becoming queen. Mordecai to chance upon the assassins and their plan.  The king being unable to sleep, requesting for the chronicles to be read to him. the chronicles chosen is the passage about Mordecai rescuing the king. While these events appear random, it is in fact the hand of God behind it.  IT all comes together so that the people of God will be saved.

2. The Courage Of Esther and her willingness to sacrifice herself 

Today when we read the book of Esther, it felt that her decision to come before the King is a simple choice to make. But those who had to make decisions that may lead to their death understands and appreciate the struggle Esther had to go through in order to save the Jews.

It is not easy for Esther to mutter these words “if I perish, I perish!”

Esther could have escaped the disaster herself as she had kept her Jewish identity secret. And in those days there are no DNA test. Yet Esther choose to stand with her kindred and race to save them. She did it with an understanding that she may be killed for doing it. Such decision requires a lot of courage and faith in God.

3. By trusting God, one could turn adversity into opportunity.

The story of Esther started out on a sad note. Esther was an orphan, but God made her the queen of Persia. Mordecai started out as a simple servant of the King almost killed by the office politics of his days. He rose to a position of greatness and respect in the Persian empire. The jews were almost exterminated by the edict of Haman. But they were protected by the edict of the King at the end.

Let us learn that no matter what difficulty we encounter in life. We all could rely on God and he will see us through our difficulty. He is able to turn adversity into opportunity. But we need to be willing to entrust our lives to him and to face our difficulty with faith.

Purim Today

The festival of Purim is not a festival mandated by God. But it is being kept by the Jews to commemorate the event and to remember the deliverance of God. But over time more and more man-made traditions are added.

1. People will greet each other happy Purim.

2. There will be lots of carnivals, masquerades and costume worn by children
     (Sometimes people call Purim “The Jewish Halloween”

3. Some will burn effigy representing Haman, eat a pastry known as Haman’s ears, Haman Pockets (reminded me of how Chinese fry dough sticks represented the killers of General Yue Fei).

4.  When Jews read the book of Esther, they will choose not to read the name if Haman, replacing it with noise.

5. Some will do charity and exchange gifts  on that day

Purim And Christians

Purim, like Hanukah are nationalistic holidays with some basic links to the Old Testament. So the question is, is there a need to Christians to celebrate it?

There are some who claim that Jesus celebrated Purim. Some claim that the feast recorded in Jn 5:1 is the feast of Purim. But if one were to read different commentaries of the verse, we will know that no one knows for certain if the feast in Jn 5:1 is Purim or not. So far some said that the feast is the day of Atonement, some called it the Passover.

That is why I would not attempt to speculate if the feast is Purim or not.  Jesus is a Jew by race. I will not be surprise that he kept Hanukah or Purim, or any of the Old Testament feast. There is nothing weird or wrong with that.

In the same way, I believe that Apostles Paul kept the feast of the Lord personally. I Cor. 16:8-9. Recorded of Paul plan to travel to Jerusalem on Pentecost. Paul talks about keeping feast in Acts 18:21

But we who read the bible need to differentiate between customs of the apostles and the teaching of the apostles. Have we ever wondered why did Paul travel back for the feast alone? Why did he not force the entire church to follow him to Jerusalem to keep the feast? 

Paul explains this when he wrote to the Romans

“One person esteems one day above another;
  another esteems every day alike. Let each
  be fully convinced in his own mind.

  He who observes the day, observes it to the Lord;
 
and he who does not observe the day, to the Lord
  he does not observe it. He who eats, eats to the Lord,
  for he gives God thanks; and he who does not eat,
  to the Lord he does not eat, and gives God thanks.

   For none of us lives to himself, and no one dies to
   himself.  For if we live, we live to the Lord;
   and if we die, we die to the Lord. Therefore,
  whether we live or die, we are the Lord’s.” – Paul(Rom 14:5-8)

Conclusion

I do not deny the significance of Purim to the Jews, it is a nationalistic holiday that reminded the of God salvation of the Jews. For me as a Christians, i keep the story of Esther and the faith of Esther close to my heart. They are principles to how I would face my adversaries  in life. If i am able to do that, that it make no differences if I keep that feast or not.

Nonetheless I wish the Jews a happy Purim and may we all learn the lessons from the book of Esther.

Introduction

In our last post , we discussed 2 characters which are examples given by Jesus for Christian to follow

1. The Good Samaritan
2. Mary And Her Alabaster Flask Of Ointment

 
Let us consider other Characters that Jesus used as examples for us to follow.

The Complete Submission Of Abraham

“If you were Abraham’s children,
  you would do the works of Abraham.” Jesus (Jn 8:39)

Abraham is the forefathers of the Jews, and why is it important for us Christens?

Even though we are not Jews by descent, but we have all became part of the spiritual descendants of Abraham. Paul told us in Galatians.

For as many of you as were baptized 
  into Christ have put on Christ
  …… ……
  And if you are Christ’s, then you are
  Abraham’s seed, and heirs according
  to the promise” – Paul (Gal 3:27, 29)

Those who are joined to Christ through baptism had become the descendent of Abraham. Therefore we too must do the works of Abraham. In simple words, whatever works that Abraham did, we are told to go and do likewise.

Throughout the life of Abraham, he did 3 things that are special in the eyes of God. They are pleasing to the Lord. As the result he was blessed by God. Today if we want to receive the blessing of God we must do them as well.

Indeed there are any instructions from God we ought to follow, some of them are easy while some are hard. Many Christians today choose to keep it partially. For they know that those other instructions are difficult. But Abraham choose to do all that God instructed even if it is difficult to do .

That is true submission to God, for it is often easy for us to do simple instructions from God. But true submission requires us to submit even if the instruction are difficult. Abraham continued to obey all of Gods command.

There are 3 things that Abraham did that were extremely difficult. Let us consider these 3 for this blog post.

Pt 1: Abraham Undergo The Pain Of Circumcision

“As for you, you shall keep My covenant,
  you and your descendants after you
  throughout their generations.  
  
This is My covenant which you shall keep,
  between Me and you and your descendants
  after you: Every male child among you
  shall be circumcised; and you shall be
  circumcised in the flesh of your foreskins,
  and it shall be a sign of the covenant
  between Me and you.” – YHWH (Gen 17:9-11)

God made a covenant with Abraham, and it is a good covenant. But the sign of the covenant is one that bring physical pain. It is easy to perform circumcision on a baby, for even if he feels pain, he will not be able to run away. But what about doing it to an adult?

Those who underwent circumcision as adult knows the pain, and how it affect our work, our lives. If we need to do it in order to sign a covenant with God, will we be willing to do it?

Why Did God Choose Circumcision As the Sign Of The Covenant?

Why did God choose circumcision as a sign? Surely there are many other signs that could be chosen. Why must God make it so hard so that we will feel the pain? While many would love to make a covenant with God, they will find circumcision a difficult task.

Indeed Abraham had to go through pain , but yet he obeyed and submit to God. Even though he knew that circumcision will bring about suffering to him physically. Today if we are in Abraham shoes, will we regard the blessing of God and the covenant so important that it is worth all the pain we need to undergo?

Today many Christians have a to struggle with doubts and question over there faith. But we all know it is best to submit to the words of God.

Naaman Obedience

2 Kings 5  talks about Naaman who was trying to seek healing for his leprosy. He came humbly to Israel to seek Prophet Elisha for healing. But the method of Elisha angered him.

“Indeed, I said to myself, ‘He will surely
  come out to me, and stand and call on
  the name of the Lord his God, and wave
  his hand over the place, and heal the
  leprosy.’ Are not the Abanah and the
  Pharpar, the rivers of Damascus, better
  than all the waters of Israel? Could I not
  wash in them and be clean?” – Naaman (2 King 5:11-12)

Elisha did not meet him personally, he was expecting Elisha to meet him, wave his hand before him. But Elisha sent his servant to tell him to go to river Jordan and to wash himself 7 times and he will be healed..

Naaman thought that the prophet was being difficult, why did he need to do this? All he needs to do is to pray and he will be healed. why did Elisha made him go to the river Jordan for a bath?

That is why he decided to turn his chariot and return home. But his servant girl reminded him.

“My father, if the prophet had told you to
  do
something great, would you not have
  done it? How much more then, when he
  says to you, ‘Wash, and be clean’?”  – Servant Girl (2 King 5:13)

The fact is that it is not too hard to wash in river Jordan 7 times. It is just a minor inconvenience. For he need to bath in it 7 times . But since no one else could help, why not just follow the instruction and do it?

Man often accuse God of being difficult. That is why we find it hard to follow his instruction. But have we considered if there is a need for God to make life difficult for us? We who know God knew that God is not like that.

God made his instructions like this to see if we could submit to him. For if you truly believe, you will follow his words and obey.

The Case For Baptism

In the post entry,  “ “The Way” Misunderstood”. I shared that the apostolic church emphasise on Baptism in the name of Jesus for the forgiveness of sin (Acts 2:38, Mk 16:16). Once we had a professor in Greek who came to our church to teach the Greek language. We asked him if Acts 2:38 indicates that Baptism forgive sins textually. The professor answered yes, but he, being a theologian said he did not believe it. That is because it is hard to understand how dipping oneself into living water cleanses away sin.

Indeed it is far for us to have our questions out of curiosity. But if we indeed believe in Go, why are we unable to submit to his words?

We know by faith that God will not make a mistake, nor will he give the wrong order. That is why we are all willing to submit to him even if it meant suffering. So if the instruction to baptise ourselves is simple. Why are we unable to follow them?

Today, Christians are suppose to sign our covenant with Christ through Baptism. There is no longer a need for us to circumcise ourselves. We know that Baptism must be conducted in the name of Jesus (Matt 28:18-20, Acts 2:38). It is done in rivers and in full immersion or in Oasis where the flow of water is natural (John 3:22-26). Even though we are unable to understand how is sin forgiven this way. But we do so because we believe in the instructions of Jesus. We perform baptism out of faith and complete obedience to the word of god.

But yet today Churchtianity tells us that this is no longer necessary. One merely needs to believe and profess with their mouth that Jesus is their saviour. While receiving the sacrament of Baptism without faith is mere dipping in water, believing in the words of Jesus and not doing it is also failure to show complete faith.

The fact of the matter is that the instruction of God is absolute and crystal clear. It is men who in their wisdom added their thoughts into the word of God. We read in acts that the apostolic church  performed baptism and they do so in the same manner as Jesus had shown them.

Let us be like Naaman, to trust in the simple words of God. Let us not consider it a inconvenience, let us be willing to do it even if it is something that we cannot understand logically.

For true faith require full obedience. Abraham was willing to undergo pain for the sake of receiving Gods blessing. Today Christians do not need to undergo pain to complete the sacrament of Baptism. Let us receive the blessing of God by obeying his command. Let us not use our own thinking to twist and change the command of God. Let us be willing to follow it even if it bring about minor difficulty. Let us learn to do the works of Abraham.

Pt 2: Abraham Left The Land As Instructed

“Get out of your country,
  From your family
  And from your father’s house,
  To a land that I will show you.
   I will make you a great nation;
  I will bless you
  And make your name great;
  And you shall be a blessing.
  I will bless those who bless you,
  And I will curse him who curses you;
  And in you all the families of the
  earth shall be blessed.”- YHWH (Gen 12:1-4)

God told Abraham to leave his land and his kindred. Genesis 12 records the second time where God called him. This time God wanted Abraham to leave Haran. He was 75 years old when he left. The bible did not record his age when he departed from Ur Of the Chaldeans.

Stephen talks about this in Acts 7:2-4. It appears as if God told Abraham to leave Ur. It appear as if Abraham left Haran after Terah died. But I did a post tabling out the lives of Abraham and Terah and we know that Terah was still alive when Isaac is born. From here we know that Terah remained in Haran.

Some how Terah his father did not continue the journey. Initially they all believed in the promise of God to go to the land that God is giving them. But when they arrived at Haran, Terah stopped and did not go on. His action created a difficulty in Abraham. It appear as if Terah his father had stop believing.

Abraham Dilemma

Abraham must have thought hard for a win win situation. Perhaps he wanted to wait for his father to pass away before continuing. But if he did so, he would have waited 60 years. At that point of time, Abraham was restrained by his kinship and was unable to move on with his faith.

That is why God appeared to him and tell him to leave Haran and continue. For God will not want his children to be stagnant in faith. In the same way, we will encounter problems in our walk of faith, we need to rely on God to overcome them. If we do not our faith will remain stagnant.

Many a time it is relationship that hinders faith. Many were unable to overcome this problem and they choose to let go of faith. There are many Christians who choose this path when their family / partner did not believe in Christ. There are also some who let go of faith when their family object to their faith.

Often we will choose to leave the church because someone offends us. That is why relationship is a big obstacle to faith. That is also the reason why God wanted Abraham to leave it, so that it will no longer ensnare his faith.

In the same way, this instruction comes with a lot of problem and difficulty. It is something difficult to do, but Abraham left as God instructed. Was Abraham being cruel?  Did he abandoned his family?

At the beginning of the journey, his father left Ur together with him. They walked together in the journey of faith. But when they reached Haran, his father stopped believing and he did not continue. How can they continue to walk on the same path anymore?

The Case For Loving God

“For I have come to ‘set a man
  against his father, a daughter
  against her mother, and a
  daughter-in-law against her
   mother-in-law’; 
   and ‘a man’s enemies will be
  those of his own household.’
 
 He who loves father or mother
  more than Me is not worthy of
  Me. And he who loves son or
  daughter more than Me is not
  worthy of Me.” – Jesus (Matt 10:35-37)

These are hard words that modern church goers will not hear their pastors reading that anymore. It is something that is hard to do, and it goes against many things that we have heard and learn.

This is also the verse that stumbled many. For they regard the Gospel as a gospel of peace that teaches humility. We know as a fact from the Law of God that we must honour and love our parents.

But yet why is such a verse found in the bible? How can we understand this? Is this a contradiction?

Jesus is not telling us to go against our family, our parents and our relatives. He is not telling us not to love them anymore. But Jesus is referring to the matter of faith. Indeed we must keep the commandments of God and honour and respect our parents.

Sometimes in order to create peace at home, we choose to be on the losing end and give way to our family. For we know that if we fight on there will be no peace at home. That is why we choose to love and that is a Christian virtue.

But such love must not compel us to compromise our faith. We need to stand in our faith even if it makes us an enemy to our own family.  If someone compels us to give up our faith for the sake of relationship we must never give in.

We need to do what we can to please our family and make them happy. But we will never allow our faith to be compromise, nor will we do things that are against the words of God in order to please others. For our love for our family must not supersede our love for God.

We can respect the faith of others , but others must learn to respect our faith. There are certain things that we have to persist and not compromise. Let us not learn to give up our faith for the sake of peace.

That is the reason why Jesus said that he will set a man against his family. For there are times where we need to go against our household for the sake of faith. This is something unavoidable. Even though we try our best to live peacefully with others, there will be occasions where there will be strained relationship.

These occasions are also the time of trial to see if we are willing to submit to God and not give up on our faith. That is why Jesus reminds us that when we encounter situations where we must choose between our faith and relationships. We need to hold on to faith. For it is faith that will determine if we are saved ultimately.

Conclusion

We need to be faithful to our belief and hold fast to faith. Let us not allow it to change. Let us do the works of Abraham. How he willingly obey the words of God even if it meant pain and going against his family.

May we all have the strength to choose to follow Gods instruction. May God help us so that we can do all that is according to his will.