GRACE BIBLE CHURCH
The Tree of Life is a weekly teaching summary.
The Tree of Life for week ending 04/20/03.
2 Corinthians 3:15-16
Our study this past week began with a look at what many people call "Palm Sunday." This is actually a future celebration which will bring in the Millennial reign of Christ, the 1,000 year period when the Lord Jesus Christ will literally reign here on earth! As we saw last week, the sign for the Church-age is the Cross; it is the Cross we are to celebrate, not the crown. To celebrate the crown (Palm Sunday) now is to overlook the Cross; therefore, celebrating this event today is actually blasphemous, as it puts the crown before the Cross.
The religious crowd is simply ignorant of the fact that the Cross must come before the crown. Palm Sunday is about a crowd who gathered together for political power, not for the purpose of worshipping their Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. The majority of Christians today do not understand this because they do not understand dispensations. Therefore, in their blind excitement they have fallen into the trap of JOH 4:22, "You worship that which you do not know."
The branch of the palm tree is the sign of Messiahship in JER 23:5-6; ZEC 3:8; ZEC 6:12-13; ISA 11:1, and it is to be used as a form of worship in beginning of the Millennial reign.
JER 23:5-6 "Behold, the days are coming," declares the LORD, "When I shall raise up for David a righteous Branch; and He will reign as king and act wisely and do justice and righteousness in the land [the Millennial Reign of the Lord Jesus Christ]. In His days Judah will be saved, and Israel will dwell securely; and this is His name by which He will be called, 'The LORD our righteousness.'"
It is when the Lord Jesus Christ comes back to earth in His Second Advent that He will establish His earthly kingdom. Christians waving palms are actually claiming the crown in celebration of our Lord's earthly kingdom, which will not to be instituted in this dispensation. In the Church-age we celebrate the Cross.
The Passover is filled with tremendous analogies pointing to the Lord Jesus Christ. Passover began on the first month of the Jewish calendar, April 14, 1441 B.C. according to EXO 12:1?14 and LEV 23:5, "In the first month, on the fourteenth day of the month at twilight is the Lord's Passover." God told the Jews that April should be the first month because spring represents the beginning of life. Without a doubt, Passover is the oldest celebration that we still know today. This feast portrayed the work of Christ on the Cross with emphasis on redemption (we were born into the slave market of sin, and our Lord paid the ransom for our salvation).
In preparation for the Passover, the house must be cleaned and sterilized in honor of this great occasion. Specifically, the house must be free of all leaven (yeast) which, in the Bible, is symbolic of sin or evil. This is why the Lord said inMAT 16:6, "Watch out and beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and Sadducees." Paul wrote in GAL 5:9, "A little leaven leavens the whole lump of dough."
After the leaven is cleaned out, the next procedure in the preparation of the Passover is to get out the special white linen cloths that go with the meal. White linen is symbolic of perfect righteousness in the Bible, REV 1:14; REV 3:5;REV 19:7-8.
REV 19:7-8 "Let us rejoice and be glad and give the glory to Him, for the marriage of the Lamb has come and His bride has made herself ready." And it was given to her to clothe herself in fine linen, bright and clean; for the fine linen is the righteous acts of the saints.
In an orthodox Jewish home that follows the precise correct procedure, the table is set with a white tablecloth and white candles, and the father of the house wears a white robe (called a "kittel") and a white crown. He is to symbolize the high priest in the tabernacle who wore a pure white robe. This all points to the Lord Jesus Christ who glowed white after His resurrection.
MAT 17:2 And He was transfigured before them; and His face shone like the sun, and His garments became as white as light.
The table is set with white dishes, which are not used throughout the rest of the year; these items are used to create an atmosphere of purity. Once the preparations are made and the table is set, the candles are lit and interestingly enough, they are lit by a woman. Women perform very little overt function in Judaism, therefore this is very significant. A woman lights the candles because it was a woman who brought the Lord Jesus Christ into the world, as the Light of the World. God chose a woman, Mary, to bring us Christ our Passover, therefore a woman brings the light to the Passover celebration. After the woman lights the candle she sings a song: "Blessed art Thou, O Lord our God, King of the universe, who has exalted us among all people and bade us to kindle the Passover lights."
Each place at the table is set with four cups of wine that the family will drink as part of the Passover ceremony. The cups are filled by one of the servants, representing mastery and freedom. The first cup is called the cup of sanctification, and it simply sanctifies the table and all of the preparations. The drinking of this cup symbolizes approval and gives the blessing for the Passover to begin. After the first cup, the father takes three loaves of the unleavened bread and places them in a special white linen envelope which has three compartments (representative of the Trinity). Then, in a special ceremony of his own, the father removes the middle loaf (God the Son, the Lord Jesus Christ) from its compartment, breaks it, and then wraps it in a separate piece of white linen and hides it away.
The youngest member of the family who can read will ask four questions; the questions are very general and give the father the opportunity to tell the story of the Exodus.
1. Question: Why is this night distinguished from all other nights, because on this night we eat only unleavened bread? Answer: On this night we eat only unleavened bread because the unleavened bread symbolizes purity from sin.
2. Question: On all other nights we may eat any kind of herbs, but on this night only bitter herbs. Why? Answer: The bitter herbs remind us of the bitterness of slavery in Egypt.
3. Question: On all other nights we do not dip in the bowl, but tonight we dip twice. Why? Answer: This is the dipping by which the Lord Jesus Christ identifies his betrayer, Judas, when He says, "The one who dips with me shall betray Me." This has several meanings; the parsley is dipped twice in salt water-the first dip represents Israel going into the Red Sea and coming out unharmed, and the second represents the Egyptian army who tried to follow them.
4. Question: On this night we all recline in our chairs at the table. Why? Answer: Reclining in the chairs, in comfort, represents freedom.
The Jews are no longer slaves, therefore they can relax. As the story is told, the ceremonial foods on the center plate are eaten. For example, as the father is telling about the bitterness of slavery, he serves each person horseradish from the center plate, and they eat the bread and horseradish.
Then he pauses as they dip the parsley in the salt water. As he talks about the lamb, he uses the unbroken shank bone of the lamb on the plate as a visual illustration. Next comes the charose (or harosis), a sweet paste made thick to symbolize the clay, or represent the mortar that Pharaoh forced them to build. It is made of figs, dates, and nuts, and was used to symbolize the passing "sweetness" or pleasures of sin in the world. The Bible does teach that sin can give a temporary pleasure, HEB 11:25.
HEB 11:24-25 By faith Moses, when he had grown up, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh's daughter; choosing rather to endure ill-treatment with the people of God, than to enjoy the passing pleasures of sin.
The second Passover cup is spilled into the individual plates in front of each person, a drop at a time. Each drop symbolizes a plague God brought upon Egypt while the implacable Pharaoh hardened his heart. The ten red drops fall into the empty white plate in front of each person and they are clearly representative of the ten great plagues in Egypt. As this happens, the father chants the name of each plague-blood, frogs, gnats, boils, locusts, darkness, death, etc.
Then comes the most wonderful and touchingly symbolic stage of the entire feast, the third cup, which is the cup of redemption, symbolic of the work of Christ on the Cross. After drinking the cup, they would finish the meal, and afterwards the father of the house would then retrieve the piece of bread which he had hidden (an obvious illustration of our Lord's resurrection) and a new cup of unfermented wine. This is the origin of Communion as we now know it.
The father now brings forth the buried loaf of unleavened bread, which will serve as the dessert to the meal. Theafikomin (desert), as it is called, means "the arrival," and represents the Lord Jesus Christ, as the Bread of Life.
JOH 12:24 "Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains by itself alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit."
The buried unleavened bread (the middle piece from the white linen envelope) is then eaten with the third cup of wine. This is where we get "Communion," the Lord's Supper. The three loaves represent the Trinity, and the middle loaf represents the second Person of the Trinity, God the Son. It was the Son who was broken for our sins-it was his body that was broken for you.
The bread was wrapped in white linen and buried, as was the body of Jesus. Now it is brought forth from the ground with the cup of redemption. The bread is the last thing eaten because it represents the fact that once someone partakes of the bread of life, they will be sustained forever.
JOH 6:35 Jesus said to them, "I am the bread of life; he who comes to Me shall not hunger, and He who believes in Me shall never thirst."
In the actual ceremony, the father breaks off pieces from the loaf ("the size of an olive" according to the Jewish Haggadah) and passes the pieces around the table. Each one eats his piece and drinks the third cup with it. Blessings are pronounced over the bread and wine individually, which have great meaning for us.
When Christians celebrate the Lord's Supper, they are actually taking a part out of the Jewish Passover and celebrating it today! When the Jews celebrate Passover, little do they realize that they are actually celebrating a part of the Lord's supper. This is the part of the Passover in which the Lord took the bread and the cup and instituted what we call "Communion."
MAT 26:26 "And while they were eating [the Passover], Jesus took bread, and having blessed it, He broke it and gave it to His disciples, and He said, 'Take, eat; this represents My body.'"
The Jewish people know exactly what the blessing of the bread means, but ironically, much of the Christian church does not. The Lord said a prayer which was commanded to be said at this point in the ceremony: "Blessed art Thou, O Lord our God, King of the universe who brings forth bread from the earth."
He picked up the bread from the floor, representing the earth, and said, "This is my body," a prophecy using the analogy that bringing forth bread from the earth represented our Lord's resurrection as the Bread of Life.
JOH 6:35 Jesus said to them, "I am the bread of life."
As we know, Jesus Christ was born in Bethlehem, which means "house of bread." He was buried on the second feast, which was the Feast of Unleavened Bread, which represented his impeccability as the God-Man.
The matzah bread is a great representation of the Lord's body. This particular bread has stripes scorched on it from the baking, and as Isaiah wrote, "By His stripes we are healed," ISA 53:5. The bread is pierced through with holes and as the Old Testament, which is also in the Jewish Bible, says in ZEC 12:10, "They will look on Me whom they have pierced." And of course, the matzah bread is pure, containing no leaven (therefore no sin).
The third cup has every bit as much significance as the bread, JOH 6:53, "Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the son of man and drink his blood, you have no life in yourselves." The Lord identified the wine as His blood, MAT 26:27-28, "And when He had taken a cup and given thanks, He gave it to them, saying, 'Drink from it, all of you; for this is My blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for forgiveness of sins.'" After the giving of thanks, the head of the house would say, "Blessed art Thou, O Lord our God, King of the universe, Creator of the fruit of the vine." This is very meaningful to each member of the Church, the future Bride of Christ. The Lord was actually thanking the Father for bringing Him His future bride.
Since the Jews celebrate all of this in detail, why are they so blind to the Lord Jesus Christ? Remember JOH 1:11,"He came to His own, and those who were His own did not receive Him."
JOH 12:40 "He has blinded their eyes, and He hardened their heart; lest they see with their eyes, and perceive with their heart."
However, even though they are blinded as a race, they still have the opportunity for individual conversion, as do all members of the human race, through the grace of God.
2CO 3:15-16 But to this day whenever Moses is read, a veil lies over their heart; but whenever a man turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away.
TIT 2:11 For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation to all men.
For a more detailed study, order last week's tapes, IA11-259 to IA11-261.