Sunday, April 24, 2011

The Seven Feasts: Part 1 - Passover

The Seven Feasts: Part 1 - Passover
Pastor Bruce A. Shields
House of Faith Church | |

Leviticus 23:4-8 4 “‘These are the LORD’s appointed festivals, the sacred assemblies you are to proclaim at their appointed times: 5 The LORD’s Passover begins at twilight on the fourteenth day of the first month. 6 On the fifteenth day of that month the LORD’s Festival of Unleavened Bread begins; for seven days you must eat bread made without yeast. 7 On the first day hold a sacred assembly and do no regular work. 8 For seven days present a food offering to the LORD. And on the seventh day hold a sacred assembly and do no regular work.’”


God gave the Jews seven feasts to celebrate, remember and teach to their children.  In a time when writing, documents and other forms of literature were scarce, and the greatest form of handing down knowledge, history, and instruction was through the tradition of oral reciting and keeping of regular holy days.

In Leviticus, God’s instructions to Moses were recorded for the Levites, the spiritual leaders of the Tribes of Israel.  This was to be the roadmap that the Israelites were to follow, teaching to their children from generation to generation, so that they would remember what God had done, was doing, and was going to do for them.

In light of the fulfillment of the Old Testament by Jesus Christ, we can look back at these promises God made, and kept, and see the foreshadowing of God.  This series should increase your faith, simply by understanding that the promises God has made to generations gone by, He fulfilled, which should encourage and remind us that the promises He has made to this generation, and those to come, He will also honor and fulfill.

We begin examining the first three fests that God gave Moses, because they take place within three days of each other.

Passover, the feast of unleavened bread, and the feast of the first fruits.

Today is resurrection day.  Today is the Feast of the First Fruits!

       I.            PASSOVER
a.      What is Passover?
                                                             i.      Passover commemorates the day God freed the Jews from the bondage of Egypt. (Exodus 12)
1.      We are the children of God, in bondage to sin.

                                                          ii.      There were many plagues given on the land, but Pharaoh would not free the slaves, the children of God.
1.      God’s children are no longer slaves to Egypt, but slaves to sin.

                                                       iii.      God sent the angel of death to take the firstborn sons, and those who sacrificed a lamb and placed the blood on the door-stoop would be passed-over, and saved from the angel of death. 
1.      Christ, God’s Lamb, sacrificed, and His blood was shed so that you and I could also escape the angel of death, not physical death, because it is appointed to every man to die once, and then face judgment, but the second death, spiritual death, eternal separation from God and Heaven.

                                                         iv.      In Leviticus 23:4-8, Scripture tells the Jews to commemorate this day.  Remember this day and what God had done.  He freed them from bondage.  Teach this to your children, so that they too will know what God had done.

                                                            v.      This is ordained by God
1.      Exodus 12:3
2.      Exodus 12:23-24 - for children to learn about God
3.      Exodus 12:46 - should be taught in the home
4.      Exodus 12:26,27; 13:8 - Father’s must teach their children

b.     Passover Scriptures
                                                             i.      Exodus 12: The Passover Story
                                                          ii.      Genesis 3:21: The First Sacrifice for sin
                                                       iii.      Genesis 22:2, 8: Foreshadow of Christ through Abraham and Isaac
                                                         iv.      Isaiah 53:6, 7: Why Jesus came
                                                            v.      Revelation 1:5: Jesus is our sacrifice
                                                         vi.      Psalm 118: Usually sung at Passover
                                                      vii.      John 12:9-19: Jesus is the Passover
                                                   viii.      John 19:19-22: God claims His sacrifice

c.      Prophetic Foreshadow by God
                                                             i.      Genesis 3:14,15: Savior would be born of a woman
                                                          ii.      Exodus 6:6,7: Four cups represent four steps of our freedom
                                                       iii.      Matthew 26:28: Blood is shed for MANY (not all accept Christ)

d.     What Does Passover Foreshadow?
                                                             i.      Passover paints a picture of how God was going to save His children from the bondage of sin.  Sin that began in the garden.

1.      In the garden, God promised that there would be hate (enmity) between children of the devil (those living in sin) and the woman’s offspring, specifically, Jesus.

2.      God said in Genesis 3:15 “He will crush your head, and you will bruise his heel.”
a.      Although Jesus suffered at the cross, it was a mere bruise compared to the devils head (power and rule) being crushed.

                                                          ii.      God promised in the garden to free His children from the power and bondage of sin.  He did this physically for the Jews in Egypt, and now spiritually for us today.

                                                       iii.      Just as Adam and Eve were born innocent, and fell into the temptations of sin, we too become entangled into its snares, and are all in need of rescue, in bondage to the sin that rules in this present evil age.

e.      How was Passover Celebrated?
                                                             i.      Traditionally, there were many steps to the Passover.  The Passover dinner was called the Sader, and the format in which your family celebrated it was called the Haggadah.

                                                          ii.      It was to be celebrated on the evening of the fourteenth day of the first month, Nisan.

                                                       iii.      The first month, the beginning.  This too is a sign for us to observe.  It represents the beginning of the timeline for God’s Children.  A countdown to the complete fulfillment of God’s promises.

f.       The seven feasts of God lay out for us in the Book of Leviticus, the timeline, from the beginning to the end. 

g.      In the following weeks, we will look at a traditional Haggadah, and see all of the symbolism which reveals Christ.

a.      The feast of unleavened bread takes place the day after the Passover feast.  For seven days the Jews were to eat bread without yeast (or leaven).

b.     This represented being without sin.  They were to remove all yeast from their home as well during this time.
                                                             i.      1 Peter 2:22 “He committed no sin, and no deceit was found in his mouth.”

c.      This unleavened bread represents not only Christ, who was without sin, but it also represent what took place the day after Christ paid the price to free us from the bondage of sin...we are viewed by God through the Blood of Jesus Christ, just as the angel of death passed over those protected by the blood of the lamb in Exodus, we are protected from the second death by the Blood of Jesus, God sees us as sinless.

a.      On the third day, the feast of first fruits was to take place.  The first fruits of the harvest was to be given to the Lord, and a lamb without defect, or blemish was to be given as a burnt offering.

                                                             i.      The lamb without blemish represents Jesus Christ, the burnt offering of the lamb represents the Judgment Christ faced.
1.      This is why the lamb had to be perfect and without blemish because it represented Jesus Christ.

2.      This is also why you are to tithe from your first fruits, not your leftovers, because your tithe also represents Jesus Christ being the first fruit.

                                                          ii.      Jesus IS the first fruit of the resurrected!

                                                       iii.      Today, resurrection Sunday, is the day we are to celebrate the sacrifice made for our freedom from the bondage of sin, the fact that because of this sacrifice, we appear as blameless and sinless before God and are ready for judgment, and as Christ was the first fruit of the resurrected, we too will one day be resurrected with new bodies, perfect, sinless, and immortal.


Where are we today in the timeline of this earth and God’s plan for His children?

After Passover, the feast of unleavened bread and the feast of first fruits, we are to count 50 days...this is Pentecost, the church age...this is where we are at this very moment in God’s timeline.

Next week we will look at the Haggadah, and then we will examine the counting of days, or Pentecost.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

The Book of James: Part 15 - The Prayer of Faith

The Book of James: Part 15 - The Prayer of Faith
Pastor Bruce A. Shields
House of Faith Church | |

James 5:13-20 13 Is anyone among you in trouble? Let them pray. Is anyone happy? Let them sing songs of praise. 14 Is anyone among you sick? Let them call the elders of the church to pray over them and anoint them with oil in the name of the Lord. 15 And the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well; the Lord will raise them up. If they have sinned, they will be forgiven. 16 Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.
 17 Elijah was a human being, even as we are. He prayed earnestly that it would not rain, and it did not rain on the land for three and a half years. 18 Again he prayed, and the heavens gave rain, and the earth produced its crops.
 19 My brothers and sisters, if one of you should wander from the truth and someone should bring that person back, 20 remember this: Whoever turns a sinner from the error of their way will save their soul from death and cover over a multitude of sins.”


James, the brother of Jesus and leader of the Jerusalem council, concludes his letter to the twelve tribes.

In this letter, James has spoken on trials and temptations, the testing of faith, and the source of our temptations.  He explained the differences between listening and doing, and how favoritism is forbidden in the Kingdom. 

James also talks about faith and deeds, taming our tongues, the two kinds of wisdom and warnings against worldliness.

James warns us against fighting, spiritual unfaithfulness, pride, slander and boasting, as well as warning us about rich oppressors.

James closes his letter with scripture on patience and suffering as well as oaths.

Today we will look at the lasts part of James’ letter, where he speaks about the prayer of the righteous in faith, and those who may wander from God and the Truth.

       I.            WHEN TO PRAY

a.      Is anyone among you in trouble?
                                                             i.      He should pray

                                                          ii.      Prayer should be our first thought, not a last resort.

b.     Is anyone happy?
                                                             i.      Let him sing songs of praise

                                                          ii.      Always remember to thank God for the things which bring you happiness in life...all good things come from His hand.

c.      Is any one of you sick?
                                                             i.      Let them call on the Elders of the church to pray over them
1.      Those who are sick, must call on the Elders to pray over them...this is their “action”, and “doing”, to fulfill and complete their faith.  God has made the first move, making Himself available through Christ Jesus to you, now you must respond to that call, and come forward to receive.

                                                          ii.      Anoint them with oil in the name of the Lord
1.      This is an outward representation of a spiritual truth, taking place inside the person.  Just as communion, outwardly represents a spiritual truth, and baptism, the anointing with oil represents the covering of God’s Holy Spirit.

a.      It is not the bread and wine that saves, it is not the water that cleanses, it is not the oil that heals, but all represent the power of God!

                                                       iii.      And the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well.

d.     The LORD will raise them up
                                                             i.      The power of God, not the physical elements.

e.      If they have sinned (cause of some sickness), they will be forgiven

                                                             i.      Some sickness in our lives is caused by our sin.

1.      Alcoholism and drug addiction
2.      gluttony
3.      not obeying natural laws
a.      eating proper foods
b.     drinking enough water
c.      as well as obeying laws of physics
                                                                                                                                      i.      Jumping from high places...etc...

                                                          ii.      Other sins can cause sickness as well
1.      unforgiveness
2.      anger/hate
3.      bitterness
4.      jealousy

                                                       iii.      If you have sinned to cause your sickness, your sin will be forgiven when you call on the Elders to pray for you.

f.       Therefore, confess your sins to each other, and pray for each other, so that you may be healed.

                                                             i.      Jesus said, “You have not, because you ask not...”

                                                          ii.      If you are sick, confess your sins to each other, and pray for each other, so that you may be healed!

g.      The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective.
                                                             i.      James then gives an example of this principal.

a.      He prayed it would not rain, and it did not rain on the land for three and a half years

                                                             i.      At the time of Elijah, the Israelites had taken to worshipping another God, Baal. This form of worship was very depraved and involved the ceremonial killing of babies. Baal was a god of agriculture, and they made human sacrifices to him because they believed it was Baal, (not God), that controlled the seasons and the weather.

This situation could not continue. These horrific bloodthirsty depraved practices had to stop. Elijah was a righteous man who prayed for the rain to stop, and the people experienced a three-year drought.

Elijah said, let the Baal worshippers call on their God and if Baal existed, he could send them rain?

Of course Baal was in reality a fictional, dreamt up, imaginary god that could do nothing at all! By the end of the three years it was clear who was the True God and that it was time to clear the land of these terrible practices.

If Elijah had not prayed as he did, who knows how many more babies would have been sacrificed to this false god.

We have the same situation in our country today.  Millions of babies a year sacrificed to the false god known as selfishness.  This self-centered being comes in many forms, but always wants the same thing, its own way of life at the cost of another’s.

In 1996 alone, 1.2 million babies were sacrificed to the god known as selfishness.

That is 3,287 babies per day.  In other words, since Roe v. Wade in 1973 which made abortions legal, by 2010 - 53,310,843 babies have been murdered legally in the United States.

53 million.

Hitler was responsible for 21 million deaths.

Stalin murdered 18 million.
And we called them monsters, recorded in history as the vile scourge of the earth...and we, the proud USA, have over 53 million murders under our belt.

Abortion is not the proper term, but a scientific definition.  The actual term for what is taking place is genocide.  Look it up in the dictionary.  It is ungodly, and it is a sin.

Elijah prayed for God to stop up the heavens, and rain to stop, and they did.

b.     Elijah prayed again three and a half years later, the heavens opened up and gave rain, and the earth produced its crops.

a.      James is reminding those listening that they are believers, and follower of Christ.

b.     If any of you should wander from the truth (as the Israelites did)

                                                             i.      Salvation can be walked away from.
                                                          ii.      We read in Jude that the angels gave up their heavenly abode, and so can we.

c.      And someone should bring them back

                                                             i.      We can also return, and be forgiven, and become a child of God once again, such as the prodigal son!

d.     Remember this: whoever (righteous man’s prayers) turns a sinner (someone who has wandered from the truth and one true God) from the error (sin) of their way, they will save their soul from death (the second death - eternal) and hide a multitude of sins.


We should pray when we are in trouble, sing songs of praise to God when we are happy, and when we are sick, we should call on the Elders of the church to pray over us, anoint us with oil, so that if sin has caused our sickness, we will be forgiven, and we will become well.

James also reminds us that the prayers of the righteous are powerful, and we need to confess our sins to each other, and pray for each other so that we may be healed.

If we see a brother or sister wandering from the truth, away from God, we need to try to bring them back, so that they do not lose their place in heaven.  If we do bring them back, we will save their soul from the second death, which is eternal separation from God, and cover a multitude of sins they may have committed during their departure from God.