Friday, April 19, 2019

Passover Message - 2013

by Michael C. Garrett

Greetings everyone. If you would, please turn in your Bible’s to 1st Peter. Some powerful statement’s. He begins in the 2nd verse, addressing people like you and me, members of the Church of God throughout all time. “[The] elect [the called out ones] according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, in sanctification of the Spirit, for obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ: Grace to you and peace be multiplied. 3) Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His abundant mercy has begotten us again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, …” – you know, we don’t talk about it very much in the traditions of the WCG and its descendants, but the day which the world thinks of as the resurrection of Jesus Christ is going to occur tomorrow! And they’re going to celebrate it with bunny rabbits and colored eggs – and I never have figured that out! I mean, I know where it comes from, but I don’t understand why they think it’s important. And because Easter – or Ishtar, as it actually should be pronounced – is something that we really don’t want to be a part of. Maybe way back a few decades ago back in Worldwide, they were almost at times afraid to talk about the resurrection of Jesus Christ. I mean, they would mention it, and then they would sort of get off of it really quick. But when did it occur!? When did Jesus Christ walk out of the tomb!? Right smack dab in the middle of the Days of Unleavened Bread. And so, here he says, ‘we have this living hope.’ Why!? Because Jesus walked out of the tomb! Paul has something very similar to that in Romans 5, where basically we’re saved by the sacrifice of Jesus Christ. But we have the hope of the resurrection, because Jesus Christ also walked out of His tomb. And He set an example that hopefully all of us and all of our loved ones will someday be able to follow. We too, will either be changed instantaneously from mortal into immortal, or we will be retrieved from our graves and brought back to life for all eternity. He went on to say here, verse 4, “to an inheritance incorruptible and undefiled and that does not fade away, …” – and he says down in verse 7 – “that the genuineness of your faith, being much more precious than gold that perishes, though it is tested by fire, …” – and if you are like a lot of the folks I know, every time we get near Passover and the Days of Unleavened Bread, our individual problems seem to increase. Become more intense. Become more overwhelming. And I can say, “O’ yeah! Me too!” And I think I know why! Satan hates us with a passion. And I think, we live in this world where we are flesh and blood, and we mingle among the people who are flesh and blood, and sometimes I don’t think we fully appreciate the battle that we’re in. Paul said we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against spiritual wickedness in heavenly places. Very powerful spiritual forces. Which have one thing in mind – to take as many of us with them. We need to keep that in mind, and we need to be sober and vigilant because if they could they would wipe us out! And yet, because of the hope of Jesus Christ and through the power of His Spirit and because of His love – they can’t do it unless we just give up! You know, I’ve heard people say, “Well God turned His back on them!” “God turned His back on that person!” I even heard a person one time say, “Well I don’t believe God hears my prayers anymore!” As though God picked up and walked away. I don’t think God ever walks away from His people. I think His people turn their back on Him! And encumbered with personal problems and encumbered with bitterness and anger and rage that overtakes them and hardens their heart. I think it just sort of squeezes out the very presence of God’s Spirit. (Be sure to watch - The Unpardonable Sin Explained). So if you stay close to God, Satan may toy with you, but he really can’t get to you! And probably, like I say, there’s people’s out there on the highways and byways of America a part of the Church of God who have had problems over these last few weeks. And all I can say is, don’t let it get you down! Because the One who is for us is infinitely greater than the one who is against us. And if God be on our side, who – including Satan himself – can be against us!? Thing’s that we need to keep in mind. So, he talked about ‘tested by fire’ “…may be found to praise, honor, and glory at the revelation …” – at the appearing, the Second Coming of Jesus Christ! He said verse 9 – “receiving the end of your faith – the salvation of your [very lives]. 10) Of this salvation the prophets have inquired and searched carefully, who prophesied of the grace that would come to you, …” – and then in verse 13 Peter writes, “Therefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, …” – I do not understand how a person can not realize that THIS IS THE TIME to become sober. We’re not in Spring training anymore folks! We’re deep into the season, and may be closer to the end of the season than we ever really believe. It is time to gird up your mind’s, be sober, “…and rest your hope fully upon the grace that is to be brought to you at the revelation [the unveiling, the very appearing] of Jesus Christ; …” – and then he says down in verse 18 – “knowing that you were not redeemed with corruptible things, like silver or gold, from your aimless conduct received by tradition from your fathers. 19) but [rather we have been saved] with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb, without blemish and without spot.” And verse 20 – this is a powerful statement, it’s easy to read right through it and not really comprehend what you’re reading. But we’re told – verily – this same one we now call Jesus Christ – “He indeed was foreordained before the foundation …” – and that word could even mean conception – “…of the world …” and that word is kosmos, which means the ordered universe of everything out there, including the earth in which we stand.

The two great super Beings who comprised the membership of the Family of Elohim, the very same Beings that we now call God the Father and Jesus Christ, at some moment in ancient pre-history, in an era before matter even existed – before the Earth even existed – and in an era before even the existence of time itself, They decided that They were going to create a universe, and They decided that They were going to create physical life, and They decided that They were going to create human life. And for the destiny that those human beings might have an opportunity – someday – to become full fledged members of the Family of GOD. That is a doctrine that our tradition holds that other faith’s do not believe in. The idea that someday we would actually be – well, we won’t be as great as Jesus Christ and God the Father, but we’ll be on the same plane. We will have the same type of existence – an eternal body – living an eternal existence, as full fledged members of that Family! Nobody else believes that. Nobody else understands that. And yet, that is our destiny! And these two Beings way back in ancient far away time They decided that the Logos, the Spokesman, the Word, the One who would eventually be called Jesus the Christ, the Christos, the Anointed One, would one day become the Lamb of God – the sacrifice for the sins of all mankind.

If you turn back to the Book of John 1. Mr. Herbert Armstrong was fond of saying, “You people think the Bible begins in Genesis!?” And then he would go on to say, “No! It begins in John 1!” Because John chapter 1 tells us the beginning of what we were to become. “In the beginning was the Word [the Logos, the Spokesman], and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2) He was in the beginning with God. 3) All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made.” – the One we now call Jesus Christ is the great Creator God of the Old Testament. It says in verse 10 – “He was in the world, and the world was made [by] Him, and the world did not know Him.” – (cf. 1 John 3:1) and so often we struggle with this issue. But we sometimes get into our head’s that we’re just like everybody else. You know, our neighbor to the right, and our neighbor to our left, the people we work with, the people across the street. We just think that we’re like them, that we have the same destiny. And in many ways, yes we are – we’re flesh and blood, we’re Americans, and we get sick and all these things. But we are different.

John 15 - just a quick insight. Verse 15 – “’No longer do I call you servants, for a servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, …’” – Jesus Christ is not a dictator who looks upon us as lowly servants, serfs and pawns. But He looks upon us as His brother’s and His sister’s and as His friend. “…’for all things that I heard from My Father I have made known to you.’” – ‘I’ve explained them to you.’ ‘I’ve shared them with you.’ Verse 16 – “’You did not choose Me, but I chose you and [ordained] you that you should go and bear fruit, and that your fruit should remain, …’” – remain until the end. “…’that whatever you ask the Father in My name He may give you. 17) These things I command you, that you love one another.’” – and He says in another place, this is the only sign that truly identifies the people of God. That they would truly love one another. And then He says in verse 18 – “’If the world hates you, you know that it hated Me before it hated you. 19) If you were of the world, the world would love its own. Yet because you are not of the world [I have made you different], therefore the world hates you. 20) Remember the Word that I said to you, ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you. If they kept My Word, they will keep yours also. 21) But all these things they will do to you for My name’s sake, because they do not know Him who sent Me.’” – then He says down in chapter 16 there will come a time, in verse 2, “….’yes, the time is coming that whosoever kills you will think that he offers God service. 3) And these things they will do to you because they have not known the Father nor Me.’” – and then He says, ‘I’ve told you these things so you will remember them when they happen.’ And so again, we just so often presume that we’re like everybody else. And in truth – if the world truly understands what we believe, what we know, what we’re about, they do not much care for us. Because we are so radically different. And this is what happened to Jesus Christ here in verse 10 of John 1. ‘the world did not know Him.’ And they did not appreciate Him – except for a few that God the Father called out of the masses. But in the end, a Man who never did or said anything improper was MURDERED! Tortured to death! That’s how they treated Him!

He says in verse 12 – “But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become [son’s and daughter’s] of God, [even] to those who believe [on] His name: 13) who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God [Himself]. 14) And the Word became flesh and dwelt [tabernacled] among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.” – that is the One that we read about – the ‘Lamb of God.’ Before the foundations of the world that’s who He was!

Isaiah 40 – this Being, this future ‘the Lamb of God,’ describes Himself a few times. Isaiah 40:12 – this Being, “Who has measured the waters in the hollow of His hand, Measured heaven with a span And calculated the dust of the earth in a measure? Weighed the mountains in scales And the hills in a balance? 13) Who has directed the Spirit of the LORD, Or as His counselor has taught Him? 14) With whom did He take counsel, and who instructed Him, And taught Him knowledge, And showed Him the way of understanding? 15) Behold, the nations are as a drop in a bucket, And are counted as the small dust on the scales; Look, He lifts up the isles as a very little thing, … 17) All nations before Him are as nothing, And they are counted by Him less than nothing and worthless. 18) To whom then will you liken God? Or what likeness will you compare Him? … 21) Have you not known? Have you not heard? Has it not been told you from the beginning? Have you not understood from the foundations of the earth? 22) It is He who sits above the circle [orbit] of the earth, And its inhabitants are like grasshoppers, Who stretches out the heavens like a curtain, And spreads them out like a tent to dwell in. … 25) ‘To whom then will you liken Me, Or to whom shall I be equal?’ says the Holy One. 26) Lift up your eyes on high, And see who has created these things, Who brings out their host by number; He calls them all by name, By the strength of His might And the strength of His power; Not one is missing. … 28) Have you not known? Have you not heard? The everlasting God, the [Eternal], The Creator of the ends of the earth, Neither faints nor is weary. His understanding is unsearchable.’” – this is the Being who became ‘the Lamb of God’! And yet, we’re told in Philippians 2:7 – and if you’re reading from the King James English it doesn’t come across very well. But in the New American Bible, it translates it correctly. This Being that we now call Jesus Christ, who was once the great Spokesman, the Word, the Logos - the Creator of everything – He emptied Himself we’re told! The great Creator God, “emptied Himself, …” – divested Himself of His eternal splendor, of His greatness, of His glory. And He allowed Himself (and the only way that I can understand it) to be changed into a human sperm cell. Which impregnated an egg at Mary’s womb. And in so doing – this is the remarkable part about it to me; this is the part where I am just in awe of what He did – He risked EVERYTHING! He risked His own eternal existence. And all for the purpose of saving His human creatures. His human beings. What love, what devotion, what dedication. As Paul says in Hebrews 7 – and I’m changing it a bit. “Now consider how great this [Being truly] was, …”

Well I hope that all of us truly appreciate what He did for all of us, and what He risked. Individuals of our church tradition just participated in a ceremony, which is often called the Passover, or the Lord’s Supper. The first official commemoration of this event can be found in the early chapter’s of Exodus 11, 12. I know in Owensboro, the Sabbath before the Passover, and on the Passover night we read and talked about some of the issues of Exodus 11, 12. But there’s one little verse I want you to think about. One concept that came across to me. Passover in its most basic form, revolves around the issue of life or death. Very stark. Life or death. If you participate in this ceremony, you are guaranteed – if your attitude is right – to have eternal life. And yet if you drift away from the meaning’s of this ceremony, you are guaranteed that you will die. And even that very first night, the firstborn of all the land of Egypt died. Very stark – it’s life or death. Nothing sort of muddles up in the middle. Very distinct. In verse 7 of Exodus 11 there’s a phrase which caught my eye – “…that you may know that the LORD does make a difference between the Egyptians and Israel.” – that word “difference,” many translation’s say a distinction. I come back to this issue again – as much as we have flesh and blood, our toe nail’s grow, and our hair sometimes looks the same as people around the world, we are different. We are not as they. They have not been called by God the Father. They do not possess the truth of God. And they do not have waiting for them the promise of the hope of the resurrection. We are different. There is a distinction between us and the rest of the world. And maybe it’s time that we start living our lives as though we truly are ‘the called out ones.’ The ones who have been handpicked by God to receive the gift of eternal life. Again, I think we just get wrapped up in our daily lives and our daily routines, and we forget who we are. And in doing it we often make mistakes. Me included. We just sometimes forget who we are and who we represent.

Now, Passover is mentioned in Leviticus 23 as are all the holy days. And you probably read that on the 14th of this first month. And I always take great comfort, for on the evening of the 14th it was just one day shy of a full moon. And I think about all the people who drive themselves into knots, trying to come up with new truth and a new explanation. And it’s just so simple. Have you noticed that the thing about God the Father and Jesus Christ – it’s really pretty simple – the day ends when the sun goes down. Very simple. Most of the holy days either revolve around the new moon or a full moon, or just a day shy of it. You don’t need some magical mystery decoder ring. All you have to do is look up in the sky and see it! I think that’s great! Unleavened bread. I heard about people who get involved with studies with different institution’s concerning what is leaven and what isn’t leaven. Folks, just open your eyes!! If it’s flat, there isn’t any leaven in there. And if it’s all puffed up, it’s leavened. It’s not a difficult thing to figure out. And yet people sort of get themselves in all kinds of twisted knots trying to be more righteous than the next person – I call them ‘the uber righteous.’ There are people who try to make things so difficult. Just so many issues that get people befuddled and sometimes get people off the beaten path, out into the twigs. And what did Jesus say!? ‘Seek you first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness.’ Trust me, if you keep your eyes on the Kingdom of God, and you keep your eyes on Jesus Christ, you will not get lost! O’ but beware of the snake oil salesmen. Spiritual snake oil. Some people are enticed by it. And they get off on beaten path’s. And sometimes those people never come back! I’m sorry.

Well we think of that Exodus 11, 12, as being the first Passover, but you know there are some events that are very Passover like. Way before the time of Moses. If you would, turn to Genesis 14:10 – there was a war back in that area. Abraham and Lot. And the kings, the rulers of Sodom and Gomorrah had been overrun, had been attacked. Many of those leaders had been killed. And in the process these foreign countries and nation states made a big mistake. They picked on the wrong guys nephew! Because in verse 12 – “They also took Lot, Abram’s brother’s son who dwelt in Sodom, and his goods, and departed.” And I just love this story about Abraham. You know a conception in our country, and it comes from the media, the movies, television, and even – and I hope this doesn’t make anyone mad that happens to read this – but when people on television want to talk about Christianity, they almost always find a Catholic priest. Have you ever noticed that!? Now if I was a Baptist or a Lutheran that might upset me a bit. Why is there an idea that only the Catholics can tell you the truth of God!? And even Fox News has a young priest who quite frankly I don’t think he could find his way out of a wet paper bag. Sort of a small weak quiet person. You see the world has this idea that Christians are supposed to be sort of sad, and downcast, and weak – and you can just push them around if you want. Because they’ll never react. And yet, the people of God – the men of God – page after page, story after story these were absolute hombres!! And I wouldn’t want to have dealt with any one of them! You think King David was a push over!? He would just soon take out a sword and whack a part of you off! I was so polite in how I said that. Do you think the Apostle Paul was a weak man!? Think about all he went through. He just kept on going and going, like the Energizer Bunny! Do you think Abraham was weak!? Let’s read about him here! Let’s read about this hombre duro who took exception to having his nephew kidnapped. Verse 14 – “Now when Abram heard that his brother was taken captive, he armed his three hundred and eighteen trained servants who were born in his own house [he has his own personal army, almost 320 trained soldiers], and went in pursuit as far as Dan.” And he used strategy, verse 15 – “He divided his forces against them by night, and he and his servants [smote] them …” – I love that word, ‘he smote them!’ That means he eradicated every last one of them! And the ones that got away, he “pursued them as far as Hobah, which is north of Damascus. 16) So he brought back all the goods, and also brought back his brother Lot and his goods, as well as the women and the people.” – He rescued everything! Just like John Wayne! He was a very strong, tough man! Verse 17 – “And the king of Sodom went out to meet him [when he had returned from the slaughter] …” And verse 18, this personality we read about ever so often, “Then Melchizedek king of Salem brought out bread and wine; …” – does that remind you of something!? We might find out someday that this event actually happened on what was eventually to become, what we now call the Passover, the Lord’s Supper. Melchizedek. Well, let us quickly turn to Hebrews 7 to get a description of who this Being was. Hebrews 7:1 – “For this Melchizedek, king of Salem, priest of the Most High God, who met Abraham returning from the slaughter of the kings and blessed him, 2) to whom also Abraham gave a tenth part of all, first being translated ‘king of righteousness,’ and then also king of Salem, …” – the city of Salem – JeruSALEM. “… meaning ‘king of peace,’” – and who is He!? Verse 3 – “without father, without mother, without genealogy, having neither beginning of days nor end of life, but made like the Son of God, …” – this is the One we now call Jesus Christ! Who, at times took up residence on the earth, and Abraham knew exactly who He was! And, Melchizedek brought out the bread and the wine. Verse 19 – “And He blessed him and said: ‘Blessed be Abram of God Most High, Possessor of heaven and earth; 20) And blessed be God Most High, Who has delivered your enemies into your hand.’ And he gave Him a tithe of all.” – almost a pre-Moses Passover ceremony.

Genesis 18 – again, starring Abraham. Verse 1 – “Then the LORD appeared to him by the terebinth trees of Mamre, as he was sitting in the tent door in the heat of the day. 2) So he lifted his eyes and looked, and behold, [he sees what appears to be] three men [walking towards him]. … he ran from the tent door to meet them, and bowed himself to the ground, …” – and why does he bow down!? Because he knows who one of them is! It is the One we now call Jesus Christ! Verse 3 – “and said, ‘My Lord, if I have now found favor in Your sight, do not pass on by Your servant.” – and then what does he say!? He tells his servants, verse 4 – “Please let a little water be brought, and wash your feet, and rest yourselves under the tree.’” – so there’s a little foot washing ceremony taking place. And then he says in verse 5 – “’And I will bring a morsel of bread, that you may refresh your hearts. After that you may pass by, inasmuch as you have come to your servant.’” They said, ‘Do as you have said.’ 6) So Abraham hurried into the tent to Sarah and said, ‘Quickly, make ready three measures of fine meal; knead it and make cakes.’” – so, when you take a little flour and a little oil and knead it up and put on the grill – you have unleavened bread. Doesn’t have time to leaven. And so, they’ve got a foot washing, they’ve got unleavened bread Verse 7 – “And Abraham ran to the herd, took a tender and good calf, …” butchered it, and they have themselves a meal. A little pre-Passover meal.

Genesis 19 – about the same time – remember the two angels go on to Sodom and Gomorrah, and a short time later those cities are destroyed. But they show up in Genesis 19, and there came the two angels “to Sodom in the evening, and Lot was sitting in the gate of Sodom. When he saw them, he rose to meet them, and he bowed himself with his face toward the ground. 2) And he said, ‘Here now, my lord’s, please turn in to your servant’s house and spend the night, and wash your feet; …” – so again we have this little allusion to a foot washing ceremony. “…then you may rise early and go on your way.’ And they said, ‘No, but we will spend the night in the open square.’ 3) But he insisted strongly; so they turned in to him and entered his house. Then he made them a feast, and baked unleavened bread, and they ate.” - went out of his way to specify it was unleavened bread. Again, just I think a sort of pre-Moses Passover ceremony that we’re reading about there.

Well you know, in the life of Jesus Christ we read about four Passover’s that He kept. They can all be found in the Book of John. John 2:13 – “Now the Passover of the Jews was at hand, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem.” And what happened!? Verse 14 – “And He found in the temple those who sold oxen and sheep and doves, and the money changers doing business.” And, when He [Jesus Christ] saw it, He was deeply offended! That the house of God was being made into a merchandise center. And who owned the house of God!? Well when you are God – you own it! It was His house! And they were defiling His residence! Verse 15 – “When He had made a whip of cords, He drove them all out of the temple, with the sheep and the oxen, and poured out the changers’ money and overturned the tables.” – this had to be quite a scene! I mean, sheep and goats, birds, pigeons, doves, stuff is flying around, people are running over, falling over each other. Again, Jesus Christ, who is so often portrayed as this sort of weak looking, sad, insipid - is an absolute hombres! His entire life He worked in the construction business. He handled big beams of wood, and boulders. He was a strong, stout young man. And He had not one problem getting rid of all of these people who had no business being there. And not a one of them felt the urge to stand up and defy Him! They probably ran for their lives, knowing that they were in the presence of someone who is extremely strong. And extremely dedicated and motivated. Well that happened right at a Passover – we don’t stop and think about that too much. Verse 16 – “And He said … ‘Take these things away! Do not make My Father’s house a house of merchandise!’” – Verse 18 – “So the Jews answered and said to Him, ‘What sign do You show to us, since You do these things?’” – ‘what gives You the right to do this?’ Verse 19 – “Jesus answered and said to them, ‘Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.’” – you know, I could take you back to the Book of Matthew. Matthew 12:28-40, and we could read where Jesus was confronting these scallywag’s once again, and He said, “The ONLY sign that I’m gonna give you that I am truly the Messiah is that I will die and I will be in the grave for three nights and three days, just like the prophet Jonah.” And yet our friends who are of the Christianity of this world, they somehow take ‘Good Friday’ afternoon and Sunday morning and somehow make that into three days and three nights. Which helps me to understand why American children have a hard time with mathematics. Because when they were in Sunday school and Bible school they got themselves all screwed up! It doesn’t compute! And yet, that’s what our friends and neighbors think! And, the ONLY sign that He was the true Messiah and they miss it! That’s sad.

John 5 – another one of these Passover events. “After this there was a feast of the Jews, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem.” – remember, they use the term Passover and Unleavened Bread to sort of interchange. Much like the people of this world talk about ‘Christmas time.’ Well, ‘Christmas time’ is anywhere from after Thanksgiving till New Years Day. It’s a pretty big chunk of time. Sort of the ‘holiday season’ people call it. Well in the vernacular they did something very similar back then talking about Passover and Unleavened Bread. Verse 2 – “Now there is in Jerusalem by the Sheep Gate a pool, which is called in Hebrew, Bethesda, …” – the same name as a big military hospital in the Washington, D.C. area. “…having five porches. 3) In these lay a great multitude of sick people, blind, lame, paralyzed, waiting for the moving of the water.” – and I don’t fully understand this ‘moving of the water.’ I just don’t understand it. But it says here, verse 4 – “For an angel went down at a certain time into the pool and stirred up the water; then whoever stepped in first, after the stirring of the water, was made well of whatever disease he had. 5) Now a certain man was there who had an infirmity thirty-eight years.” – now we’ve all heard this story, but how often have you considered that it was part of Passover and Unleavened Bread!? And quite frankly, until recently, I hadn’t even thought about it. And yet, there it is! Verse 6 – “When Jesus saw him lying there, … He said to him, ‘Do you want to be made well?’ 7) The sick man answered Him, ‘Sir, I have no man to put me into the pool when the water is stirred up; but while I am coming, another steps down before me.’” And Jesus looked upon him and said, “Rise! “’Take up your bed and walk.’” And immediately the man was made whole! And the same day was a Sabbath day. And, did that certainly upset the ‘uber righteous’ of his generation! The Jews therefore said unto him that was cured, “It is the Sabbath day! It is not lawful for you to carry your bed!” What was his bed!? It was nothing more than what we would call a blanket. Somehow carrying that under his arm was, in their opinion, breaking the Sabbath! Verse 12 – “Then they asked him, ‘Who is the Man who said to you, ‘Take up your bed and walk’? 13) But the one who was healed did not know who it was, for Jesus had [done moved away], a multitude being in that place. 14) Afterward Jesus found him [the one who had been healed] in the temple, and said to him, ‘See, you have been made well. Sin no more, lest a worse thing come upon you.’ 15) The man departed and told the Jews that it was Jesus who had made him well. 16) For this reason the Jews persecuted Jesus, and sought to kill Him, …” – why!? Because He healed someone! Now how can you get your mind that twisted!? How can you be so worried about your little provincial area of religion, that a Man you don’t really know, don’t really understand, comes and heals a man who has been crippled for thirty-eight years of his life – they should have been standing up and celebrating!!! Thanking God that this man was no longer crippled! But in their little bitty mind’s all they could think of is removing the threat! And a threat to their religion, and a threat to their livelihood and their status was Jesus Christ! And they sought to kill Him “…because He had done these things on the Sabbath.” – now, how much work did He do!? He looked upon the man, ‘would you like to be whole!?’ the man said, ‘yes!’ ‘Take up your bed and walk!’ That’s all He did! Through the power of God it was done! But in the mind’s of these ‘uber righteous’ that was somehow offensive. It’s just amazing. Verse 24 – and I’m just adding it here, because I just love verse 24 – “’Most assuredly, I say to you, he who hears My Word and believes [on] Him who sent Me has everlasting life, and shall not come into judgment, but has passed from death into life. 25) Most assuredly, I say to you, the hour is coming, and now is, when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God; and those who hear will live. … 28) Do not marvel at this; for the hour is coming in which all who are in the graves will hear His voice 29) and come forth – those who have done good, to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil, to the resurrection of [judgment].’” – I love that! I love those verses! Because I know that the people of the Church of God who have lived and died in faith are waiting for the moment – the blowing of the SEVENTH TRUMP and they will hear the voice of Jesus Christ calling them out of the grave – just like Jesus Himself was called out of the grave by God the Father! Just as Jesus Himself called Lazarus out of the grave – ‘Lazarus, come forth!’ And a man who had been dead for four days and was decomposing came back to life! That’s the God we serve! That’s what He has done, and that is what He will do! And that is our legacy! I love that concept!

John 6:4 – “Now the Passover, a feast of the Jews, was near. 5) Then Jesus lifted up His eyes, and seeing a great multitude coming toward Him, He said to Philip, ‘Where shall we buy bread, that these may eat?’” – and this same account can be found in Mark 14. Verse 6 – But this He said to test him, for He Himself knew what He would do.” – Jesus had already planned out what He was gonna do. Verse 7 – “Philip answered Him, ‘Two hundred denarii worth of bread …” – I don’t know what that is in modern money, but it wasn’t very much money. They didn’t have enough money to go out and buy a bunch of food. Verse 8 – “One of His disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, said to Him, 9) ‘There is a lad here who has five barley loaves and two small fish, …” – he was the smartest boy there! He knew to bring some food! “…but what are they among so many?’” – and how many were they!? Verse 10 – “Then Jesus said, ‘Make the people sit down.’ Now there was much grass in the place. So the men sat down, in number about five thousand.” – and we’re told over in the Book of Matthew that there was about the same number of women and children. So, there was five thousand men, five thousand women, and probably two or three children between each couple – there could easily have been twenty-five thousand people at this assemblage. And all they’ve got is five loaves and two small fish. Verse 11 – “And Jesus took the loaves, and …” He prays over it. He has the disciples pass it out, and everyone was able to eat to their absolute filling! Verse 13 – “Therefore they gathered them up, and filled twelve baskets with the fragments of the five barley loaves … 14) Then those men, when they see the [miracle] that Jesus did said, ‘This is truly the Prophet who is to come into the world.’ 15) Therefore when Jesus perceived that they were about to come and take Him by force to make Him king, He departed again to the mountain by Himself alone. 16) Now when evening came, His disciples went down to the sea, …” – now, Matthew talks about this a little more. How the disciples entered a boat and started going across the sea. And my margin says they were out there about 31/2 miles. And there’s a storm, there’s gale force winds, the boats rocking around in the middle of the night. The disciples look and see Jesus Christ walking across the water. Taking a hike across the lake. Now the people up in Minnesota can do that during the winter time! Because it’s frozen, but most of us we can’t do that! But Jesus Christ could. Because He was God. He can do anything He wants. And when they saw Him, we’re told in Matthew, that Peter was so impressed by that he said, “Let me come and join you!” And Jesus says, “Come forth!” And Peter started walking, and Peter, also, a mortal man was walking on the water, until he finally looked down and saw the waves and the storm, and he lost his courage – he lost his faith. And then he started sinking like a stone, and Jesus Christ just had to grab him and pull him back up. Well, you’ve all heard this story a few times in your life. But did you know it was associated with the Passover and the Days of Unleavened Bread!? I find that amazing!

Then a little further in John 6 – I think this is the ultimate meaning of the Days of Unleavened Bread. I know the WCG created a custom where women were expected to look for every little crumb that might exist in a house from a cookie that was nine months old. Remember the ceremonial housecleaning that people were put through!? And it’s almost as though the WCG didn’t keep the Days of Unleavened Bread, as much as they kept the “Days of the War Against Leavening”! And I say it affectionally, but folks, those of you who are from my generation, or a little older, we remember some of those events. And we heard over and over this obsession with leavening! and then you would often hear a minister say, “YOU MUST PUT SINNN OUT OF YOUR LIFE!” How many of you remember that!? It was always equated that leavening was sin, and that you had to get every last little crumb. And folks, the reality – what is the number one leavening agent in the world!? Always has been always will be!? Yeast. And yeast is everywhere! They were obsessed with “leaven-ing” – little crumbs, little pieces of bread on the floor, up in the corners. And they always equated it with sin. So go find all that “leaven-ing.” And I’ve tried to say over and over again, you can’t put leavening out of your life – you can’t do it! Because yeast spores are everywhere! There are literally on me right now probably billions of yeast spores, and all of you are the same. It’s just omnipresent! You CAN’T deleaven your house, your life or anything else. You can’t do it – it’s impossible! But you CAN for seven days eat unleavened bread! And for seven days you CAN avoid eating leavened bread! And that’s what the celebration is called – the Days of Unleavened BREAD. I remember Mr. GTA – and this was way back in the days of Pasadena - got up and said, “Folks, this is not the Days of Unleavened BEER!” I’ve heard people that won’t drink beer, because to make beer you gotta have some yeast in there. And he said, “It’s not the Days of Unleavened Wine.” You can’t make wine without a little yeast. And, it’s not the Days of Unleavened Toothpaste.” Because some toothpaste has baking soda in it. And there are some people who think they have to throw out their baking soda toothpaste because it’s “leavening”! Folks, I gotta tell ya, never once have I looked at a dab of toothpaste and went, “Mmmm, doesn’t that look tasty!? Doesn’t that look like a Krispy Kreme donut to me!?” Well it’s not bread. It’s the Days of Unleavened BREAD. ‘Seven days you will eat unleavened bread. And for seven days you will not eat leavened bread.’ And the largest and most important meaning of it all – the Days of Unleavened Bread, the unleavened Bread of sincerity and truth is what we find here in John 6. Verse 32 – “Then Jesus said to them, ‘Most assuredly, I say to you, Moses did not give you the bread from heaven, but My Father gives you the true Bread from Heaven. 33) For the Bread of God is He who comes down from Heaven and gives life to the world.’ … 35) ‘I AM [Jesus said] the Bread of life. He who comes to Me shall never hunger, and he who believes [on] Me shall never thirst.’” And here’s verse 44, an important principle – “’No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him; and I will raise him up at the last day.’” – that’s not the last “great” day, it means ‘the last day when I change mortal people into immortal eternal beings.’ Verse 47 – “’Most assuredly, I say to you, he who believes [on] Me has everlasting life. 38) I AM [that] Bread of life. 49) Your fathers ate manna in the wilderness, and are [now] dead. 50) This is the Bread which comes down from Heaven, that one may eat of it and not die. 51) I AM [that] living Bread which came down from Heaven. If anyone eats of this Bread, he [or she] will live forever; and the Bread that I shall give is My flesh, which I shall give for the life of the world.’ 52) The Jews therefore quarreled among themselves, saying, ‘How can this Man give us His flesh to eat?’ 53) Then Jesus said to them, ‘Most assuredly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood, you have no life in you. 54) Whoever eats My flesh and drinks My blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the [blowing of the SEVENTH TRUMPET]. 55) For My flesh is food indeed, and My blood is drink indeed. 56) He who eats My flesh and drinks My blood abides in Me, …’” – and here’s the important part, “…’and I in him.’

For seven days, we’re told, to take unleavened bread, which represents sincerity and truth, and Jesus Himself, and we are to remind ourselves that without Him in us – we have nothing. Remember Paul said, ‘Within me dwells no good thing.’ We have no righteousness within us. The only way that we become righteous before God is that Jesus Christ dwells in us through His Spirit! And that is what we’re practicing for seven days. We’re reminding ourselves through an ancient ritual that is to be kept even to this day – and far into the future. That we need EVERY DAY Jesus Christ! There’s a song – I Need Thee Every Hour. And every day of our life we NEED Jesus Christ living within us! And if we do, it is HIS RIGHTEOUSNESS that will give us eternal life. I have met people who have just chilled me to the bone by just saying, “Well, I’m going to become so perfect that God has to let me into His Kingdom.” Nothing could be more grossly wrong! There is no righteousness within us. Yet, with Jesus Christ within us, now He makes us righteous. And with Him within us, we will live for all eternity.

Revelation 1:4 – John wrote a letter to the seven churches which are in Asia, which are recorded in this Book, which means we’re supposed to be paying attention to it now. “…Grace to you and peace from Him who is and who was and who is to come, …” – and he says in verse 5 – “and from Jesus Christ, the faithful witness, the firstborn from the dead, and the ruler over the kings of the earth. To Him who loved us and washed us from our sins in His own blood, 6) and has made us kings and priests to His God and Father, to Him be glory and dominion forever and ever. … 7) Behold, He is coming with clouds, and every eye will see Him, even they who pierced Him. And all the tribes of the earth will mourn because of Him. Even so, …” And He says in verse 8 – “’I AM the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End,’ says the Lord, ‘who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty.’” – and verse 17 he says, as John saw Him, Jesus said, “…’Do not be afraid; I AM the First and the Last. 18) I AM He who lives, and was dead, …’” – people forget that. For THREE DAYS and THREE NIGHTS the very Creator of the universe had no life – dead as a doorknob, as they say. “…’and behold, I AM ALIVE FOREVERMORE. Amen. And I have the keys of [the grave] and of death. 19) Write the things which you have seen, and the things which are, and the things which will take place after this.’” – and then over in chapter 4 – the great four living creatures that live around the throne of God say the following – verse 8 – “…’Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty, Who was and is and is to come!’ 9) Whenever the living creatures give glory and honor and thanks to Him who sits on the throne, who lives FOREVER and EVER, …”

Jesus Christ, the very Creator of everything emptied Himself, divested Himself, and risked His eternal life, that we might have a Savior! This very Being – the Lamb of God! Remember what John the Baptist said!? John 2 – ‘BEHOLD, THE LAMB OF GOD, which takes away the sin of the world!’ I am so thankful that He did what He did! I stand in awe! I think all of you do also.

And dear Brother thank You for Your courage, and thank You for Your love, and Your kindness. Thank You for Your forgiveness, and thank You for Your patience – for putting up with people like all of us. And because of the Lamb of God we have the opportunity to live for all eternity. Thank You dear Brother.

The Day of the LORD - the single most prophesied event in the Bible - bar none. Not even the Return of Jesus Christ is prophesied as much as the Day of the LORD is prophesied!

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