Good morning, everyone. My name is Joe Stearnes. Yes, you got that right, and I’m on the ministry staff at the Broward Church and I’m excited today. I wanted to wish you again a happy Father’s Day, and I’m excited to begin this series. Tony got us warmed up last week where we’re going to be talking. Thank you, Mike. We’re going to be talking about the feasts and I’m going to have slides yet, OK? I think we’re going to be up and running here in a sec.
So the question I wanted to ask you to get started is what role does celebration have in the life of a Christian or is the Christian faith just a dark, reflective, somber, guilt ridden religion? And I don’t believe that. And so what we’re going to do is we’re going to explore this idea of the feasts and see if my clickers working. Yes, OK, good. So here’s what role does celebration have for Christians. In other words, does God want his people to party?
So now I just need to clarify that. So when I when I was growing up and I thought of partying, what did I think of? I thought of things that were sinful. And of course, if you were going to party, you wanted to get away from God, you wanted to not think about God, you wanted to harden your heart to what is right and wrong and things like getting high or getting drunk or being promiscuous. Those are what I thought of for partying.
But what I believe and see in the scriptures and we’re going to look at this a little bit today, is that there’s a godly way for God’s people to come together and celebrate. And it’s in the heart of God and it comes from God. So what we’re going to do today is we’re going to do a deep dive into scriptures. So I want you to picture yourself. Think of yourself as a student of the Bible, especially today, because we’re going to look at a fair amount of scripture as we talk about the festival excuse me, the festivals and then in specific talk about Passover. The first thing we’re going to do is we’re going to skim through Leviticus chapter twenty three. I have some screenshots here. I apologize for the white light coming at you here, but these are screenshots from my online computer Bible. And what we’re going to do here is just read the headings and I’m going to show you what we’re talking about when we mean the feasts. And so here we see the first heading is the appointed feasts. And then the first thing is, is that God wants people to take a day off every week.
That’s the Sabbath. And then there’s a festival you could substitute the word party for festival. There’s the Passover and the festival of the Unleavened Bread and then the next headings that we see in Leviticus twenty three are the offering for the first fruits and then a festival, another party, the festival of Weeks. Now, the festival of weeks could be confusing. It doesn’t mean that the party goes on for weeks and weeks. The Festival of the Weeks is also called Pentecost.
You guys have probably heard that term Pentecost. And what it is, is it takes place seven weeks after Passover happens and the feast of the unleavened bread. So the next thing is we have a party of trumpets, the festival of trumpets. Then we have the Day of Atonement, often pronounced the day Yom Kippur, or some people pronounce it Yom Kipper. And then the last of these festivals is the Festival of the Tabernacle, which is a week long camping trip.
The word tabernacle is also often translated booths. And so listen, listen to this scripture about the festivals as a whole. In Deuteronomy 16, it says, three times a year, all your men must appear before the Lord, your God at the place you will choose at the festival of the Unleavened Bread, at the Festival of Weeks and at the Festival of the Tabernacles. No one should appear before the Lord empty handed. Each of you must bring a gift in proportion to the way the Lord, your God, has blessed you.
So first of all, this is not saying that the women and the children are excluded from these festivals, but what it is saying is if the women for any reason or the children cannot travel at least the men three times a year in ancient Israel were expected to gather together for these feasts. And so what’s happening is God is planning the vacation schedule, the annual calendar for the people of Israel to celebrate together. And so I’m going to show you a map now because I’m a nerd like that.
Thank you. So I know that the lettering might be a little bit small for you to read, but this is a map of the nation of Israel and the different colors represent the twelve different tribes of Israel, because this is a map of the nation of Israel in ancient Israel after the time of Moses. And so this area right here from the bottom of Israel to the top of Israel is about one hundred and fifty to one hundred and sixty miles.
That’s how far it is from Beersheba up to Sidon. It’s about one hundred and sixty miles. Dade, Broward and Palm Beach County are about one hundred and twenty to one hundred and thirty miles from Homestead up to Jupiter. And so what you’re looking at is an area that’s shaped a lot like Dade, Broward and Palm Beach County. It’s maybe 10 percent bigger. And so what God said was that three times a year, all the men need to me in a place that I’ve chosen.
And so that place I put a star here, that place right here varied because they worshiped around a tabernacle, which was a worship tent. And that worship tent moved from a town called Gilgal to another small town called Shiloh. But eventually a king in Israel, King David conquered the city of Jerusalem and all of the worship moved to Jerusalem. All of these locations are in a centralized area so that the nation of Israel could literally physically gather together to to party, if you will.
And so some of these people would have to travel 60 or 70 miles, some of them from wherever their town, 10 to 20 miles, and they would travel together to worship God together. And so what you have here is you have all these festivals, this is the annual vacation calendar that God is set up and the Feast of Unleavened Bread, which runs together with Passover, was eight days long. Pentecost was a weekend day. Feast of trumpets was a day.
The feast of Tabernacles was eight days. So I’m going to highlight the ones where the men had to gather. What do you see here? This is really something else. God had two weeks of vacation planned for the nation of Israel plus a weekend day. And so these people would travel to Israel and they had a commander on the first day of the festival and on the last day of the festival for both of these long festivals, they weren’t supposed to do any work, but most of these people had traveled and left their jobs anyway.
And so what was planned for them was nothing. They have free time. And so if they wanted to have dances, if they wanted to have meals together, if they wanted to visit family, if they wanted to have competitions or they wanted to have important meetings, God had left them this room in their lives to gather together, to spend time together, everyone together. And so, of course, we have answer the question, does God want his people to celebrate together?
The answer is, of course, yes, he does. And those principles carry forward into the Christian life. And we’re going to talk about that a little bit more in a little bit. But here’s a question I have for you that I’d like you to think about as you leave here and as you go forward in life, I just want you to think about this. What are some things we learn about the character of God from the fact that he has these festivals that he created, that he does want his people to gather together?
And although I certainly don’t have all the answers to this question, I have a couple of quick reflections that I wanted to show you. And that is the first of all, God wants his people to experience and enjoy community together. He wants us to meet together and enjoy each other’s company and be together. God wants to provide his people with times to be happy and to celebrate. And then God, God’s people should celebrate by putting God at the center.
And once again, remember what I told you about the idea that most of us have for partying. Usually when you think of partying, you think of getting rid of God, ignoring God, not thinking about God, but it’s actually the exact opposite that brings about the greater joy and the greater camaraderie. Among us all is of our celebrations are not only with each other, but they center around our great God and his son, Jesus Christ. These are the festivals for Jewish people under the law.
Do they apply to the Christian? What about the Christian under grace? Are we supposed to celebrate these things, are we supposed to be having a Passover Seder? Are we supposed to be going on the annual camping trip during the Feast of Tabernacles? Well, I want to show you a couple of scriptures that I hope will help begin to answer that question in Romans six, verse 14 and says, Sin shall no longer be your master because you are not under law, but under grace, those Old Testament requirements that we read about the Passover, about the day of Atonement, about the Feast of Tabernacles, they’re actually not commands for us.
Their commands that we can learn from their commands that have symbolic meaning behind them. We are no longer under that requirement to obey those festivals. As a matter of fact, look what the apostle Paul says by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit about observing these festivals. He says, therefore, don’t let anyone judge you by what you eat or drink or with regard to a religious festival, a new moon celebration or Sabbath day. Listen to this. These are a shadow of the things that were to come.
The reality, however, is found in Christ. So actually, Paul is expressing a concern that the Jewish people who’ve become Christians and Gentiles who become Christians, they’re still celebrating these Old Testament rituals. And he’s like, look, you don’t need to do that anymore. And you don’t want to sit in judgment on each other about whether you celebrate these things or not because you don’t need to anymore. They were simply foreshadowing life in Christ. They were foreshadowing it.
And so what we believe as a church is that these festivals right here have a symbolic meaning. They are still God’s word to us today, but they are not commanding us to worship these festivals. They’re commanding us to capture the symbolic meaning, the foreshadowing of them, and apply them to our Christian life today. Now, I don’t need to tell you this, but almost all churches in all denominations agree with this theology. You’re not going to go to a Lutheran church or a Methodist church or whatever church is on the corner and find them celebrating the day of Atonement or the Feast of Tabernacles.
This is common understanding that these festivals in the Old Testament, they’re not they’re not dead to us. They have great and rich meaning. But we are not called to observe the ritual. We are called to catch the heart. And that clears up a passage of scripture. This passage of scripture, I’m going to read you, is actually used by the minority of churches who still attempt to hold to those Old Testament festivals. And let’s read this. It says, get rid of the old yeast so that you may be a new unleavened batch, as you really are. For Christ, listen to the symbolism here for Christ our Passover lamb has been sacrificed. Therefore, let us keep the festival not with the old bread leavened with malice and wickedness, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth. Now, some people have taken this as a as a surface reading and they’re like, well, look, it says, let’s keep the festival. But can you see that in this passage of scripture, it’s already begun with the rich symbolism of these festivals? This is talking about Jesus as the Passover lamb.
Jesus is not the Passover lamb. Jesus is symbolic of the Passover lamb. The Passover lamb points to what Jesus accomplished on the cross. Now in the Old Testament, Passover, they had to take yeast and get it completely out of their house. But what the author here, Paul, is saying is he’s saying that yeast represents heart issues. He says get rid of malice and deceit and wickedness. And he says bring in sincerity and truth. So what we believe about these festivals is that their heart, there’s symbolism and they’re foreshadowing are important things for us to observe and learn from in our Christian life.
Now, I wanted to let you know that what we’re going to be doing in these sermon series on the festivals today, I’m going to take the time we have remaining and talk a little bit about the Passover. And the symbolic meaning of that is much more than just the summary. But I summarize it with the phrase Jesus, the lamb of God. Passover has very rich symbolism and pretty, pretty broad symbolism in it. In the weeks to come, we’re going to hear other brothers I believe Mike Dagree might be doing Pentecost.
Jasan Saunders is going to do the Feast of Trumpets. By the way, we don’t know much about the feast of trumpets. It looks like it was a musical celebration. So that’s why we picked Jasan for Rosh Hashanah. Then we’re going to have the two Joshes for the Feast of Booze and the Day of Atonement, Josh Mayes and Josh Franco. And then Chase, who’s going to talk about the year of Jubilee. And I’m really looking forward to that.
And you guys know that we have this book that you can purchase or if you don’t have the funds to purchase it, just let people know at the table where we have them for sale in the back and they’ll just give it to you for free. It costs us fifteen dollars and thirty eight cents. We’re selling it for fifteen dollars. This is not to make a profit. This is to bless you guys with deeper and richer Bible study. I would like to hold up Emily Vogel and I would like to hold up Ivanna Wright for doing the heavy lifting on this. Their biblical scholarship and their Bible study and research and the hard work that they put in have brought us this handbook that we’re going through. So I want to thank them for that. So let’s talk about Passover, Passover is really important to God, the father and his son, Jesus, listen to this. When Jesus had finished saying all these things, he said to his disciples, as you know, the Passover is two days away and the son of man will be handed over to be crucified.
Did you know Jesus died on Passover? And so God, God went to a lot of trouble to attach the meaning of Passover to Jesus’s death on the cross and then his resurrection, God and his son Jesus timed the death of Jesus so that it would exactly match the Passover. Jesus died during the Passover in the midst of the feast of the unleavened bread. And the reason that he did that is there’s a great deal of meaning in the Old Testament that points exactly to Jesus and exactly to what he accomplished on the cross and on his resurrection. So briefly, we’re going to talk about some symbolism and meaning of the Passover and we’re going to conclude and talking about what is important about the Passover to us. Did I tell you we’re going to do a little bit more Bible reading than normal? So here’s what we’re going to do. You’ve got the posture of Bible students ready, right. We are going to read the Passover account.
Let me take a sip of water and we are going to be in Exodus Chapter 12. The Lord said to Moses and Aaron in Egypt this month is to be for you the first month, the first month of your year, tell the whole community of Israel. But on the tenth day of this month, each man is to take a lamb for his family, one for each household. If any household is too small for a whole lamb, they must share one with their nearest neighbor having taken into account the number of people there are, you are to determine the amount of lamb needed in accordance with what each person will eat. The animals you choose must be your old males without defect, by the way, that’s the symbolism of Jesus. Jesus was without defect, without sin. And you may take them from the sheep or the goats. Take care of them until the fourteenth day of the month when all the members of the community of Israel must slaughter them at twilight, then they are to take some of the blood and put it on the sides and the tops of the doorframes of the houses where they eat the lambs.
That same night they are to eat the meat roasted over the fire along with bitter herbs and bread made without yeast. Do not eat the meat raw or boiled in water, but roasted it roasted over a fire with head, legs and internal organs. Do not leave any of it until morning. If some is left till morning, you must burn it. This is how you are to eat it with your cloak tucked into your belt, your sandals on your feet and your staff in your hand.
Eat it in haste. It is the Lord’s Passover. On that same night, I will pass through Egypt and strike down every first born of both people and animals, and I will bring judgment on all the gods of Egypt. I am the Lord. The blood will be assigned for you on the houses where you are. Listen to this. And when I see the blood, I will pass over you. No destructive plague will touch you when you when when I strike Egypt.
This is a day you are to commemorate for the generations to come you shall celebrate it as a festival to the Lord. A lasting ordinance. By the way, did you guys know that Passover, we believe, is the oldest continuously celebrated religious festival in the world in any religion. Verse 15 for seven days, you would eat bread made without yeast on the first day, remove the yeast from your houses for whoever eats anything with yeast in it from the first day through the seventh must be cut off from Israel.
On the first day hold a sacred assembly and another one on the seventh day. Do no work at all on these days except to prepare the food for everyone to eat. That is all you may do. So thank you for reading the original account of the Passover with me. Let’s begin to look at the symbolism of this. So I am not a graphic artist. Forgive me, this is the best I could do. But in the Passover, the people were in slavery in Egypt and then they were saved by the blood of the lamb and then they proceeded on to the promised land.
Now the symbolism for this is that when Jesus, the Messiah came. He brought a new covenant and this Moses covenant that was begun actually in Exodus nineteen. But at the same period of time, this Moses Covenant is going to be replaced by the Christ Covenant. And then here’s the symbolism of this. Today we’re not in slavery to Egypt. We’re in slavery to sin. And then differently from the Hebrews every single person on Earth has experienced this kind of slavery.
I have been enslaved to sin, whether you really realize it or not, if you stop and think about it, you’ve been enslaved to sin one hundred percent of humanity. All of us have been enslaved to sin. And those who come to Christ have been saved by the blood, freed from the slavery to sin. And we moved to the promised land that is most commonly called the Kingdom of God. That’s what we experience. That’s some of the symbolism of Passover.
And you see this. If you think I’m stretching this a little bit, we’re going to look at some more scriptures. And right out of the starting gate in Jesus’s earthly ministry, look what John the Baptist says about him. It says the next day, John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, look, the lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world. Now, this this is a title that John the Baptist gave Jesus even before John himself baptized Jesus.
This is even at the very beginning before Jesus started his earthly public ministry. And think of some other titles John could have called him. John could have said, look, the messiah, look, the one who’s prophesied about look the king of Kings and Lord of Lords. There’s a lot of other accurate titles the John the Baptist could have called him. But look what John has done. He’s begun the symbolism of the Passover at the very beginning of Jesus’s ministry by calling him this very unusual term to call a human behold the lamb of God.
Now, one of the very best scriptures in all the Bible that show us that symbolism is real in the Bible, that you’re not seeing too much if you see symbolism in the Bible is in First Corinthians, Chapter 10. This is a couple of slides, three slides where we’re going to read through this. We’re back to being Bible students here. But I want you to listen to the symbolism of the Passover story and how the apostle Paul is applying to us as Christians.
I do not want you to be ignorant of the fact, brothers and sisters, that our ancestors were all under the cloud, that they all passed through the sea, they were all baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea. They all ate the same spiritual food and drank the same spiritual drink, for they drank from the spiritual rock that accompanied them. And that rock was Christ. If you’ve read the Exodus story, there’s a time when they were out of water and God told Moses to call water out of a rock and the scriptures saying that that rock that the water flowed from, we should understand symbolically as representing Jesus Christ.
Nevertheless, God was not pleased with those ancestors. Their bodies were scattered in the wilderness. Now these things occurred. Why did they occur? As examples to keep us from setting our hearts on evil as they did. Do not be idolaters as some of them were, as it is written that people sat down to eat and drink and got up to indulge in revelry. We should not commit sexual morality, as some of them did. And in one day twenty three thousand of them died.
We should not test Christ as some of them did and were killed by snakes and do not grumble as some of them did and were killed by the destroying angel. These things happened to them as examples and were written down as warnings for us on whom the culmination of the ages has come. So this symbolism about the Passover and how it relates to us is all over the scriptures. And if she see symbolism in the scriptures, you know, that’s appropriate. And that’s good. Now we can we can see too much symbolism in the Bible, but it would be a mistake to see no symbolism at all.
The scriptures are telling us right here that there is symbolism, there is foreshadowing, and there’s examples and lessons to learn. So can you tell I like maps and tables? So this is a map. Mediterranean Sea. This is a map of the ancient world where the exodus, Passover story occurred. Here’s the nation of Egypt, Nile River. Here’s the Gulf of Suez, which is part of the Red Sea. This is where they we think they receive the law.
We think Mount Sinai is down here. These are this is the wilderness where the people of Israel wandered. And here’s Canaan. So the symbolism here is that Egypt represents our non Christian life enslaved to sin. Now for those of you who have read the Old Testament you’ll see that God never wants the nation of Israel to go back to Egypt. He doesn’t want them to go back to marry people in Egypt, to get military assistance from Egypt, to go to Egypt for drought or if there’s a military attack, they’re not supposed to retreat to Egypt.
What do you learn from that, no matter what happens in your life, don’t go back to your non Christian life, you catch the symbolism there. And then when the people came out with Moses out of slavery and they were led at night by fire and day by cloud, sounds like a song. When they were led by God, they came down to the Red Sea. They had their backs to the Red Sea. Pharaoh’s army attacked and God performed a miracle through Moses, the Red Sea parted and the people walked through on dry ground. They were not baptized at that point, but it symbolized baptism for us today. Do you see that? That’s why he uses that unusual term in First Corinthians 10. He says there we’re baptized into Moses. And what that is, is that’s a symbolism that as we come out of our non Christian life, we’re born again and we begin our lives as Christians.
And did you know, by the way when the Hebrews came out here and came through the Red Sea, that was actually the birth of a nation genuinely and legitimately and physically, not symbolically, that is when the nation of Israel became a nation that was the beginning of a nation and they represent the people of God. And so as you read the Moses story in the Old Testament, which, as you can see is a very important story for us in New Testament Times, the wandering in the wilderness by God’s people has many, many rich, important lessons for the Christian today.
When you read those stories, as it outlined already a little bit in First Corinthians 10, there are powerful, important stories to learn as we wander through this life as God’s people and we head towards Canaan, which represents the resurrected life the eternal life we’ll have. Did you catch the first song that we sang today in church? I’m on my way to Caanan’s land? I just want to let you know what I’m teaching you and sharing with you now is not an obscure teaching.
This finds its way into the lyrics of many hymns and songs. This idea that we’ve left slavery and we’re on our way to Caanan’s land. It’s a very common understanding by Bible students and Bible scholars of the symbolism of the Passover and the Exodus story. You are supposed to see symbolism in the Bible and the reason you’re supposed to see it. Is it God is an artist? God is a creative writer. God is an author. He rolls like that, that’s just how.
No, that’s just. Look, if you don’t understand this, you’re going to have trouble fully understanding the Bible. If you’re an artist, you got your artistic abilities from God. It’s his gift to you and God uses in the scriptures. He uses metaphor, allegory, symbolism, foreshadowing type, an archetypal imagery, motifs, paradoxes, all different types of poetic devices. God is doing this. And if you embrace this and you understand this, it will help you tremendously, especially with the Old Testament.
And so what we see. Is that Jesus is in the Old Testament concealed, but he’s in the New Testament, revealed. See, Jesus is not named in the Bible, but the Passover lamb and the accounts of the Passover are pointing directly, symbolically, metaphorically forward to what Jesus accomplished on the cross. So we’re going to go through some of these symbolisms, kind of rapid fire, and then we’re going to conclude with the importance of Passover for us today.
The Lamb of God represents Jesus’s self-sacrifice on the cross in the New Testament. There’s at least thirty five times where the Bible calls Jesus the Lamb of God, or talks about the lamb being sacrificed in pointing to Jesus Christ. And that is to show us the importance, the power of what Jesus accomplished on the cross. What is the blood on the door represent? Well, the hard news of the gospel message is that without the salvation of Jesus, we will be condemned, we will be destroyed, and we need the protection of the blood of Jesus.
And so as far as the destroying Angel was going to put to death, the first born in the Exodus story, but they were saved by blood on the door. Death passed over and did not kill the Israelites if and only if they were protected by the blood. And that’s our situation today. We have the hope of eternal life if and only if we’ve come to Jesus Christ to be protected by his blood. Romans Chapter five verse nine is one of many, many scriptures that teach these ideas.
And so since we now have been justified by his blood, how much more will be saved from god’s wrath through him. Did you know that God is angry? Like a lot of people think of, maybe God was angry in the Old Testament and he became a Christian, but that’s you see, the thing is, is God angry about human trafficking? Is God angry about abuse? Is God angry about murder, about theft, about about adultery?
Does he care about those things? It would be very inappropriate if God had no response to those sins. But God is angry and he’s going to punish people for their sins unless they’re justified by the blood of his son. Jesus Christ. Can you see that in the Passover is the gospel. The Gospel is hidden in the Passover message. What about the symbol of this destroying angel? We’ve actually already talked about that. We are we are faced with condemnation, punishment and destruction without the protection of Jesus.
And a one reference I could give you as John 14 verse six words where Jesus says I am the way, the truth and the life. No man comes to the father except through me. We need Jesus. What is the Hebrew nation represent, that nation represents the church worldwide or the kingdom of God in the Old Testament, in Exodus 19, God told the Jewish people, the Hebrew nation, he said, I own all of the world, but for you guys, you’re going to be a kingdom of priests for me. That’s what he said about the Jewish people. But listen to what he says about the Christian people now. This is but you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, he’s talking about the church here, a holy nation, God’s special possession. The you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God. Once you had not receive mercy, but now you have received mercy.
And I want you to catch this, what is the Passover, how what does it represent for us today? Really the closest we have is communion. Did you know Jesus instituted communion, the Lord’s Supper on Passover at the Passover meal. By the way, the Passover meal was a meal of remembrance that should produce gratitude. What is communion about? It’s a meal of remembrance that should produce gratitude for what Jesus did for us. Do you see how important the symbolism is for us today as Christians? I want to conclude with just one scripture, two more slides on the importance of Passover for you and me. And I’d like to close out with a scripture here. It says for, you know, that it was not with perishable things such as silver and gold, that you you Christians were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your ancestors, but with the precious blood of Christ. Here’s that Passover symbolism in a lamb without blemish or defect.
He was chosen before the creation of the world, but was revealed in these last times for your sake. Through him, you believe in God who raised him from the dead and glorified him. And so your faith and your hope are in God. So the importance of the Passover for us is that it points to the gospel message, which we’ve already covered to some degree. And it’s this: we need salvation by the blood of the lamb. We need to come to Jesus and to be saved by the cross.
Now, there’s an interesting thing in the Exodus story, and that is that when the people were freed from slavery, they were not comfortable with it. And when people become Christians, it’s a new way of life. It’s different than the world. And so the last slide I have for you is for you to consider this the like the Hebrews in Egypt, we need rescuing by the blood. But it feels risky to leave familiar bondage for the hardship of freedom.
And so I want to encourage you, if you’re not a Christian, come to Jesus Christ, it’s going to be a new way of life. You’re going to be a little bit like a fish out of water because you’re no longer going to be living by the systems and the principles of the world. You’re going to be following and listening to God. But we need this. We need the blood of the lamb to rescue us. And as people of God, let us not go back to Egypt, even when the times get hard, even when the going gets tough, we know that we’re on our way to Caanan’s land and we need to be faithful.
We are now, I think, appropriately going to go into the Lord’s Supper communion, a reflection of the Passover meal itself. Let’s pray together and then we’ll take the Lord’s Supper together. Holy Father, thank you so much for the protection of the blood of your son, Jesus Christ, please allow it to cover us. And thank you so much for the courage, the love, the risk that you took in sending your son for us. Help us to be grateful.
Help us to remember we pray in your son’s name. Amen.