|Volume 21 Number 11 November 2019||
Deuteronomy 16 records Moses’ instructions to the Israelite nation about three of their significant feasts. Under the Old Testament law, the Israelites were required to attend three feasts each year in the city where the Tabernacle (and later the Temple) were located. Three of the feasts that they could attend to meet that requirement were: the feast of Passover, the feast of weeks and the feast of booths (tabernacles).
The Unleavened Bread of the Passover
During the Feast of Passover, there was to be absolutely no leaven anywhere in the house of the Israelites. They were to purge out the leaven. Throughout the Old and New testaments, leaven almost always signified a corrupting agent and commonly represented sin (1 Corinthians 5). For this reason and to learn this lesson, Israel was commanded to eat only unleavened bread during the Passover.
It is of particular interest, then, that Deuteronomy 16 records, “You shall eat no leavened bread with it; seven days you shall eat unleavened bread with it, that is, the bread of affliction (for you came out of the land of Egypt in haste), that you may remember the day in which you came out of the land of Egypt all the days of your life” (verse 3). Moses identified an additional reason for the “no leaven” requirement in Egypt as they were preparing to leave. He called unleavened bread “the bread of affliction,” referencing their slavery in Egypt. He noted that they came out of Egypt in haste. Leaven takes time to work; it requires time to cause the dough to rise. As a result of God’s command to be ready to leave, they were not to prepare the leavened bread and wait for it to grow. Instead, they were to make unleavened bread that could be baked and eaten immediately.
The Time of The Passover Sacrifice
Over a thousand years before Jesus Christ lived, Moses told the Israelite people that the Passover sacrifice was to be made at twilight. “But at the place where the LORD your God chooses to make His name abide, there you shall sacrifice the Passover at twilight, at the going down of the sun, at the time you came out of Egypt” (Deuteronomy 16:6).
It is interesting then that we find in Luke 23:44 that Jesus would die on the cross at the 9th hour of the day. This would correspond in the Jewish time system to the sunset or twilight hour. Jesus Christ, our Passover (1 Corinthians 5:7) died at the exact time that Moses had commanded the priests to kill and offer the Passover sacrifice of the Old Testament.
It is valuable to take the time to consider the details of the Old Testament Scriptures because they inform and reveal to us details that help us more thoroughly understand the revelation of God.
A Look at Some Complicated Words
Growing up in the Gilchrist house, oft heard was the phrase, “Use the dictionary.” A request for a definition was met with the answer, “Look it up in a dictionary.” This taught the importance of words and their meanings. One of the first books to acquire for serious Bible study is a good Bible dictionary. This is because words matter.
So-called “liturgical language” has fallen on hard times. Society has become “unchurched,” and some words found in the Bible have become misunderstood. Because society is sometimes lazy, individuals shut down mentally when unrecognized words are heard. So, some classify words as “churchy,”— derogatorily, as in, “That preacher uses too many churchy words.” Big words should not be used to show off, but there are some words that need to be understood and deserve some time and attention. There is nothing wrong with digging a little deeper into words, not for liturgy, but because of biblical significance.
The Hebrew word “messiah” is used thirty-nine times in the Old Testament (Vine 150). It means “anointed one.” It refers to someone anointed to a specific task or given the authority to do a job. There are multiple messiahs in the Old Testament. Patriarchs were anointed (Psalm 105:15). The priests were anointed (Leviticus 4:3, 5, 16; 1 Kings 19:16). The prophets were anointed (Psalm 105:15). Kings were anointed (2 Samuel 7:13; Isaiah 45:1).
More importantly, there is a Messiah that the Old Testament points to coming, Who would fulfill prophecies and promises. He would be anointed by the Lord (Psalm 2:2), and He had authority to do a job (Daniel 9:25). “Messiah” in Greek becomes the word “Christos” or Christ, and Christ fulfills the ideas and prophecies of “Messiah.”
When the New Testament opens, people were looking for the Messiah (John 1:41). Two individuals waited in the Temple for the opportunity to see Him (Luke 2:25-38). Jesus proclaimed Himself as the Christ (John 4:25-26), and Peter confirmed that the apostles believed it (Matthew 16:16). Jesus proved He is the Messiah promised in the Old Testament by fulfilling prophecies, working miracles and fulfilling His own claims.
Based on these facts, He built His church (Matthew 16:18). “Ekklesia” is the word translated to the English word “church.” It was used by the Greeks to describe a gathering, even a riotous one (Acts 19:32), but most directly it means “called out” (Jackson 31). The term is used to describe Israel (Acts 7:38), an angry mob (Acts 19:32), the church as a whole (Matthew 16:18; Ephesians 4:4) and an individual congregation of the Lord’s church (Acts 20:28; Romans 16:16).
Why is this the word used to describe what Christ came to build? The “called out” belongs to Him. The church is made up of people who are not part of this world but are part of the called out (John 17:14-16), and only God can do the calling out (Acts 2:41, 47).
Where does God do His calling out? This important question is answered by the Greek word “baptisto,” which has been transliterated to the English word “baptism.” The word originally meant to be overwhelmed (Jackson 18; Luke 12:50). It is used literally to be “the process of immersion, submersion and emergence” (Vine 50).
A word study is not necessary to prove how baptism should be done, because baptism is a burial (Romans 6:3-4; Colossians 2:12). Significantly, baptism is when God adds individuals to His church (Acts 2:41, 47). This is when God calls out individuals from the world and makes them part of His “ekklesia.” This is all powered by the fact that the Messiah came and died to build this “ekklesia” that all can now be a part through “baptisto.” Just a short study of a few words improves the understanding of what God wants for humanity. Pray that more will understand and obey the words of God.
Jackson, Wayne. Biblical Words and Theological Terms Made Easy: A Practical Guide. 2002.
Vine, W.E., Merrill F. Unger, and William White Jr. Vine’s Complete Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words. 1996.