THE SPIRIT OF GOD WHO RAISED JESUS FROM THE DEAD...Today, we stand in the earth-shattering magnificence of the unfathomable power of God’s Word revealed in the Resurrection of Jesus Christ! On this 16th day of the 1st month on God’s calendar, April 3rd on our 2018 calendar, we rejoice in Paul's statement to ALL Christians: “The Spirit of God, who raised Jesus from the dead, lives in you. And just as God raised Christ Jesus from the dead, he will give life to your mortal bodies by this same Spirit living within you.” Romans 8:11.
Yes, God’s Holy week, appointed for the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus, is all part of a much bigger plan than most of us could ever imagine. These dates, along with several others, were appointed on God’s calendar 3500 years ago to be fulfilled by Jesus Christ who is identified as our Creator, and who has been with God the Father since the very beginning of time as we know it!
Consider these extraordinary words of John about Jesus. “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it… He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him. He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him. Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God— children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God. The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.”
Incredibly, over 2000 years ago, Jesus became flesh, and left heaven to make His home in our world and the peoples of His own creation! And He came with a special mission. That mission was to fulfill the scriptures given 1500 years before to the fledgling people known simply as the Israelites. In Jesus’s own words, He said, “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. For truly I tell you, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished. Therefore anyone who sets aside one of the least of these commands and teaches others accordingly will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever practices and teaches these commands will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. For I tell you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law, you will certainly not enter the kingdom of heaven.” Matthew 5:17-20.
3500 years ago, the blood of the sacrificial lamb marked 600,000 households of our ancient ancestors who were to be “passed over” from certain death that very night in Egypt, the land of their bondage. The event called “Passover” was appointed by God to be celebrated forever as a reminder that He alone would always deliver His chosen people from their bondage. Those of us who believe that Jesus is our Passover Lamb, literally stand as the continuing generations of “passed-over” and “saved” children. The death angel will not claim us. Paul says it so perfectly in 1 Corinthians 5:7 “…For Christ, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed.”
The weeklong festival known as Unleavened Bread which began on the 15th day of God’s first appointed month, the day after Passover, was also designated by God 1500 years prior. Its unusual name is a timeless reminder from Passover when the firstborn of every family in Egypt died. Pharaoh came to the Israelites in the middle of the night, ordering them to leave so quickly they didn’t even have time to properly prepare food for themselves. Their mainstay of daily bread was a sourdough-like bread was didn't have time to rise. So they just packed the lump of raw dough on their backs and headed out into the desert, depending on God's promises and His provision. “Celebrate the Festival of Unleavened Bread, because it was on this very day that I brought your divisions out of Egypt. Celebrate this day as a lasting ordinance for the generations to come.” Exodus 12:17-18.
When Jesus was raised from the dead on the day after the Sabbath following the Passover feast, but had not yet ascended to the Father, He was on His way to present Himself at God's Throne as the Firstfruits of the resurrection of mankind, an event also marked by God on His calendar 1500 years before. Again, Paul says it so simply in 1 Corinthians 15:20 “…Christ is risen from the dead, and has become the firstfruits of those those have fallen asleep.”
The word "firstfruit" in Hebrew is “bikkurim”. It literally means “promise to come.” God declared many times in the Bible the importance of the first and the best being set aside and presented to Him. That included His chosen people, and their animals, harvest crops, wine, and oils. Even the "firstfruits" of their bread dough belonged to Him. Each had a plan and purpose to advance His kingdom on this earth. In Numbers 3:13, God states emphatically, "...All the firstborn are Mine. On the day that I struck all the first-born in the land of Egypt, I sanctified to Myself all the firstborn in Israel."
God appointed “Firstfruits” to be an offering unto Him forever in Leviticus 23:10,14: "...When you come into the land which I give to you, and reap its harvest, then you shall bring a sheaf of the firstfruits of your harvest to the priest. He shall wave the sheaf before the Lord, to be accepted on your behalf; ... it shall be a statute forever throughout your generations in all your dwellings."
A clearer picture of "firstfruits" emerges when we add to the Leviticus scripture the understanding that a sheaf of grain had been used previously to typify a person or persons, as evidenced in Joseph's dream recorded in Genesis 37:5-11. The lone sheaf of the Firstfruit Offering was called "the sheaf of the first fruits." The sheaf was to be presented to God "the day after the sabbath." Leviticus 23:11.
Though there is some discussion as to exactly what day that was, the 1st century Jewish historian, Josephus, pins down the date emphatically. "But on the second day of unleavened bread, which is the sixteenth day of the month, they first partake of the fruits of the earth, for before that day they do not touch them." Antiquities of the Jews 3.10.5.
Jesus is further revealed as the Firstfruits offering when we examine the last part of Josephus' statement "for before that day they do not touch them." Remember Jesus's statement to Mary in the tomb? "Touch me not, for I have not yet ascended to the Father..." John 20:17
Jesus also said this to all mankind in John 5:28-29: "...For the hour is coming in which all who are in the graves will hear His voice and come forth--those who have done good, to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil, to the resurrection of condemnation."
It is vitally important for us to be aware of God’s plan for our lives, because it is literally in motion this very moment. Now the rest is up to us. Paul and Silas’ conversation with their jailer who feared for his life during an earthquake says it all. “What must I do to be saved?” the jailer asked. Paul and Silas replied, “Believe in the Lord Jesus and you will be saved, along with everyone in your household.”
Those words definitely take us back to the Exodus Passover, and the deliverance of God through the blood of the sacrificed Lamb, saving us from the death angel’s appointment. Now we are beginning to understand what believing in Jesus and becoming a Christian REALLY means.
THE SPIRIT OF GOD WHO RAISED JESUS FROM THE DEAD..."