We are the "bikoreem" of creation!

Worthy Christian Devotions » Pesach (Passover)

by George Whitten, editor of Worthy Devotions

Leviticus 23:10-12 "Speak to the children of Israel, and say to them: '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; on the day after the Sabbath the priest shall wave it. And you shall offer on that day, when you wave the sheaf, a male lamb of the first year, without blemish, as a burnt offering to the Lord.

1 Corinthians 15:20-23 But now Christ is risen from the dead, and has become the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. For since by man came death, by Man also came the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ all shall be made alive. But each one in his own order: Christ the firstfruits, afterward those who are Christ's at His coming.

This season of the Resurrection also occurs during a significant Old Testament feast day, the feast of “Firstfruits” (Hebrew, “bikoreem”). When Yeshua (Jesus) rose from the dead he was the firstfruit of the resurrection. On that day the keys of Hell and Death were obtained by our Lord. The apostle Paul connected the resurrection with the feast of Firstfruits in his letter to the congregation at Corinith. "But now Christ is risen from the dead, and has become the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep."

Remember in the Garden of Gethsemane that all the disciples had fled in terror because of their connection with Yeshua. Yet not much later they experienced an astounding tranformation which empowered them to preach the gospel fearlessly and face all kinds of suffering and martyrdom. What inspired this transformation? The resurrection… the living, breathing Lord who appeared to them in a glorious resurrected body. No longer were they concerned about this life, having experienced the reality that death's power had been absolutely overcome and there was nothing remaining in this world to threaten or shake their complete confidence in eternal life.

The letter of James identifies believers in Jesus as "a kind of firstfruits of all He created"; [James 1:18]. Through our faith In the Lord's resurrection we have received His Holy Spirit and gained His resurrection life and power. It is a power over the fear of death, an overcoming power which enables us to endure and triumph over every kind of threat, problem, affliction, every trial or test involving suffering, pain, even the greatest anguish this life can bring. It's the same power that filled the Lord's disciples and transformed them from terrified men into fearless witnesses.

We are no longer bound by the circumstances of our lives – but, as "firstfruits" who share in the resurrection life of our Lord, are empowered to endure, be transformed by, and ultimately overcome everything we face. Paul exults in this wondrous triumph, “But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ." And then he offers this exhortation, "Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord.”

We are the “bikoreem”, the "firstfruits" of the resurrection and we are no longer bound by the troubles and problems of this world. We can "count them all joy" as "steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord" we know that our labor is not in vain!

Worthy Christian Devotions » Pesach (Passover)

Inspect your Temple!

Worthy Christian Devotions » Pesach (Passover)

by George Whitten, Editor of Worthy Devotions

Matthew 21:10-14 And when he was come into Jerusalem, all the city was moved, saying, Who is this? And the multitude said, This is Jesus the prophet of Nazareth of Galilee. And Jesus went into the temple of God, and cast out all them that sold and bought in the temple, and overthrew the tables of the moneychangers, and the seats of them that sold doves, And said unto them, It is written, My house shall be called the house of prayer; but ye have made it a den of thieves. And the blind and the lame came to him in the temple; and he healed them.

There is a long standing tradition of cleaning one's house in the springtime – hence the term "spring cleaning". One source for this tradition is certainly the Jewish Passover (Pesach). Each spring as the holiday approaches observant householders in Israel and around the world perform a meticulous cleaning of their homes, especially to be sure there is no leaven in the house before Pesach begins. Leaven, in scripture, is often a metaphor for sin and impurity; and this season of the year is often a time for emphasizing "spiritual housecleaning".

When Yeshua (Jesus) entered Jerusalem for the last time in His earthly life, before the Passover, and just before He was sacrificed, He went to the Temple and "cleansed" it by driving out the money changers and religious merchandisers. Apparently, these were "religious" people with impure motives, and the Lord considered them to be "leaven" in his Father's house. Immediately after this, the Lord miraculously healed the blind and lame.

We can also be "religious" people with impure motives; seeking financial gain, or prestige, from "spiritual" activity, when the Lord desires a devoted heart of worship and prayer in His "house". Perhaps this is why we see so few miracles in our lives and "ministries". Let us also do a "housecleaning" for impure motivations. The Lord may then be freer to work His miracles through us.

Worthy Christian Devotions » Pesach (Passover)

Circumcised a Second Time?

Worthy Christian Devotions » Pesach (Passover)

by George Whitten, Editor of Worthy Devotions

Joshua 5:2, 8-10 At that time the Lord said to Joshua, "Make flint knives for yourself, and circumcise the sons of Israel again the second time."

8 So it was, when they had finished circumcising all the people, that they stayed in their places in the camp till they were healed. 9 Then the Lord said to Joshua, "This day I have rolled away the reproach of Egypt from you." Therefore the name of the place is called Gilgal to this day. 10 Now the children of Israel camped in Gilgal, and kept the Passover on the fourteenth day of the month at twilight on the plains of Jericho.

Romans 2:29 but he is a Jew who is one inwardly; and circumcision is that of the heart, in the Spirit, not in the letter; whose praise is not from men but from God.

Pesach (Passover) celebrates Israel's final departure from Egypt – that's why we read about it in "Exodus!" Leaving their former lives of slavery, the Jewish people now pressed forward looking toward the "Promised Land" and a new way of life. Their purpose was not only departure – it was also arrival to a new destination. Now there was a significant 40 year delay in the wilderness….

…..but Israel finally crossed over the Jordan river into the 'Promised land'. And as they entered the land, Joshua was commanded to circumcise Israel a “second time”. This circumcision of the flesh was required for their passage into the Promised Land, and I believe it is a picture for us. The flesh must be sacrificed for us to enter our inheritance. While the Passover event is a picture of our deliverance from sin and death through the sacrificed Lamb, this "circumcision" of the flesh is required for a fruitful life in the spirit which produces an inheritance. One might also see it as a circumcision of the heart, a removing of flesh which makes our heart alive and sensitive to the Lord and to others producing a life of love and good fruit.

Deliverance from sin and death is a free gift through the sacrifice of Messiah our perfect Lamb. Our response should be to offer our bodies, our flesh, as living sacrifices that we may enter the destiny of love and fruitfulness which is our own personal Promised Land. A life of holiness is the fruit of a circumcised heart which will yield a rich inheritance in the world to come.

Worthy Christian Devotions » Pesach (Passover)

The Veil Was Torn!

Worthy Christian Devotions » Pesach (Passover)

by George Whitten, Editor of Worthy Devotions

Hebrews 10:19-23 Therefore, brethren, having boldness to enter the Holiest by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way which He consecrated for us, through the veil, that is, His flesh, and having a High Priest over the house of God, let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful.

The New Testament records that when Yeshua (Jesus) died; there was a great earthquake and the veil of the Temple was torn in two. The size of this gigantic veil is not recorded in the NT…but we read from other sources that it was roughly 60 feet long and 30 feet wide with multiple woven layers the thickness of a man's hand! It was hung on a crossbeam stone – a lintel – which was over 30 feet long and weighed more than 30 tons! It was not an easy cloth to tear…

Jerome, a fourth century Church Father, writes concerning the tearing of the veil, that not only was the veil torn, but the great earthquake had also caused the lintel of the Temple to be broken in two. In fact, it seems that the breaking of the lintel was what caused the veil to be torn in half from top to bottom, since the veil hung down from the lintel.

In the culture of the Jewish people, a father will commonly mourn the loss of his son by rending or tearing his garment…

Can we suggest that the rending of the Temple's veil likewise, dramatically expressed our Heavenly Father's agony over the death of Yeshua, His only begotten Son?

The way was prepared through the death of the Son of God for us to have access to the Holy of Holies, that place on earth which was prepared for the abiding Presence of God's Spirit, and, in earlier Temple times, actually contained His Glory. In the death of the Messiah Yeshua, every barrier and obstacle, even a 30 ton stone that needed to be broken – was removed, to make a way for us to have an intimate relationship with the Father!

The sound of ripping cloth, the rending of a massive veil, echoes throughout history to this very day. The agony of that sound of mourning opened for us "a new and living way which He consecrated for us, through the veil, that is, His flesh" [Hebrews 10:20]…so that now, at any time, we can approach our Heavenly Father with boldness and confidence in His love and acceptance. As we embrace the sacrifice of Yeshua, come with a clean heart in His righteousness, we may fully expect His constant intervention and blessing in our everyday lives— because the way has been permanently opened to us!

Worthy Christian Devotions » Pesach (Passover)

Know Him and the Power of the Resurrection!

Worthy Christian Devotions » Pesach (Passover)

by George Whitten, Editor of Worthy Devotions

Philippians 3:8-11 Yet indeed I also count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as rubbish, that I may gain Christ and be found in Him, not having my own righteousness, which is from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which is from God by faith; that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death, if, by any means, I may attain to the resurrection from the dead.

In today's world of Smart Phones, tablets and instant Internet access, there are many things that we can "know." "How long is the Golden Gate Bridge?" Pop out your iPhone, ask "Siri", the golden-voiced digital encyclopedic genius, and you'll have the factual answer in seconds.

But there's more to the Golden Gate than just length; truly another "dimension" of knowledge and understanding of the bridge over San Francisco Bay, which might be acquired from the 95-year-old retired construction worker who spent 2 years of his life building it. The knowledge you'll glean from his salt-parched lips will hold you spell bound as he describes wrestling with massive cables in stormy bay weather, or nearly losing his balance leaning over to paint an inaccessible bolt.

There are facts — head knowledge, and there is the knowing of and from experience. We all know this, and it's why we prefer the mechanic who has been fixing cars for 35 years over the novice who just graduated from vocational training school.

The apostle Paul wanted experiential knowledge of the Lord Jesus. He wanted fellowship with His sufferings, experiential resurrection power, even, if it were possible, the absolute death of his sin nature. Paul wanted the actual reality of the living Messiah manifested in his life, and he knew and believed this to be his inheritance in the death and resurrection of the Lord. Paul wanted to know Yeshua intimately and personally and share in the Lord's own experiences. This Passover Resurrection Day season as we celebrate and meditate on the factual reality of what happened in Jerusalem 2000 years ago, we might also join the apostle Paul in his own sincere passion; "that I may know Him…."

Worthy Christian Devotions » Pesach (Passover)