The Everlasting Covenant
By: Bruce D. Curtis, MA, M.Div. ©2017
* * *
The Prelude Implicit
. . . in the scroll of life of the Lamb who was slain from the foundations of the world. (Rev 13:8)
Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth?
Tell me, if you have understanding.
Who set its measurements, since you know?
Or who stretched the line on it?
On what were its bases sunk?
Or who laid its cornerstone,
When the morning stars sang together,
And all the sons of God shouted for joy?
Or enclosed the sea with doors,
When, bursting forth it went out of the womb? (Job 38:4-8)
Just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and unblemished before Him, in love having predestined us unto the adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of His will, to the praise of the glory of His grace, wherein He graced us in the Beloved, in whom we have the redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of trespasses according to the riches of His grace; (Eph 1:4-7, emphasis added)
* * *
Cosmologists and astrophysicists tend not to speculate on what existed before the rapid, inflationary expansion that resulted in the universe we live in. Theories begin with a singularity which exploded – in the case of the big bang – or which went through extremely high speed inflation according to inflationary cosmologies. Andrei Linde at Stanford University published a definitive model of “inflationary cosmology” in Scientific American in November 1994. By his theory some 6 troubling questions, unanswerable with the “Big Bang Theory,” were addressed in a plausible way. Topping the list is where did the singularity come from? In Linde’s view, this universe grew rapidly like a bubble from another universe. When we examine Job 38, we will see this.
Of course, the fundamental question that science cannot answer remained. It is the ontological question: Why is there something rather than nothing? While numerous scientists may not accept the answer, the bible has provided a simple and elegant solution with the same number of letters as E=mc2, namely: God! Even more sublime is the fact that scripture also gives some indications regarding the why of creation, along with traces of the conditions and events prior to the existence of the actual unfolding cosmos.
Regarding the question of did something come from nothing, i.e. is there a creatio ex nihilo as theologians have argued? Or perhaps did Andrei Linde hypothesize something that was known to Saul of Tarsus, aka the apostle Paul? Consider the insight in the epistle to the Hebrews.
By faith we understand that the aeons [worlds] were formed by a command [spoken word] of God, so that not from things visible has the thing seen come into being. (Heb. 11:3, emphasis added)
While most biblical scholars have used this scripture to support the belief that God created the universe out of nothing, what it really states is that the visible universe was created by command out of what cannot be seen. So Linde’s cosmology remains the best candidate for an astrophysical theory of creation consistent with scripture, a bubble growing out of a universe of Spirit, the Heaven of heavens, a realm not visible to inhabitants of the physical heavens and earth.
If we continue in this vein, examining the actual cosmogony of the earth for a moment apart from the materialistic conception of science, we may escape the trap of reducing the meaning of words used in scripture which have spiritual realities as referents, to concepts that belong to material science. Words like ‘waters’ and ‘seas’ must be re-examined in our minds to grasp what the Divine Mind is communicating in the creation passages, viz. Genesis, Job, and Psalms, in particular. Waters can be living, and seas can be an underlying energetic grid that forms the foundation of a reality structure which we know as the cosmos.
Job 38 presents a cosmology that academia views as mythological, archaic, even quaint; and this includes theological academia as well. But what if academia cannot decipher the linguistic icons in the text? Remember that this is poetry, and as such needs to be read differently, and Hebraic poetry which is even more deeply structured. On top of that the Hebrew words have symbolic and hieroglyphic significance in their letters and radical roots. All of that is to say that the Hebrew word Yamim, while rendered ‘seas’ does not necessarily refer to seas such as we know in this world. This word is related to Yomim, or ‘days’ and therefore speaks of aqueous ‘light manifestations.’ Without that understanding as part of a rather extensive scaffolding of meaning, Job 38 simply cannot be read with the understanding that God intended for it.
All of this is epitomized by the Lord’s statement in Isaiah 55:9 “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.” We cannot approach God’s disclosures while clinging to our own usage of words and understanding of linguistic icons.
Now if we look at the word ‘sea’ or ‘seas’ from this perspective it becomes clear that the abyss is like a sea, an aqueous expanse. The word is a metonym, standing in for another reality, which is the quantum field, or ‘ether.’ According to Advanced Relativity (AR) space is ether and light is a wave in the ether. All of this got confused when the ether could not be detected after Einstein had postulated its existence.
The earth is the Lord’s [l’YHWH] and all it contains,
The world, and those who dwell upon it.
For He has founded it upon the seas,
And established it upon the rivers. (Ps 24:1-2, emphasis added)
He established the earth upon its foundations,
So that it will not totter forever and ever.
Thou didst cover it with the abyss as with a garment. (Ps. 104:5-6)
Within the remarkably elegant theory of Advanced Relativity, the energy density of mass, or ‘earth’ [Heb. Aretz] does bend space and represents a densification of the surrounding energy matrix into ‘terra firma’. How striking are the words of YHWH to Job, revealing what science discovered as to how energy is concealed as matter.
As stone the waters are hidden,
The face of the deep (abyss) compacts. (Job 38:30)
Reflecting further on this revealed cosmology in Job, if go back to verse 8 we can see that the sea has a boundary like a bubble and bursts forth in rapid expansion just as in Linde’s theory of cosmic inflation. Yet the subsequent 3 verses give us insight into a problem that existed in what burst forth, and actually formed part of the conditions surrounding the laying of the foundation of the earth, and the reason for it.
When I made a cloud its garment,
And thick darkness its swaddling band,
And I placed boundaries on it,
And I set a bolt and doors.
And I said, ‘Thus far you shall come but no farther;
And here shall your proud waves stop?’ (Job 38:9-11)
Why are the waves proud? The reader is almost prodded to ask this. Waves on a sea of light are, of course, light waves. But how can they be proud, unless they are the waves as disturbances emanating from proud seas? In the context of poetry, the sentient quality of something inanimate calls to be attributed to some one or more associated beings that exhibit it. So in America, for example, when people sing the song ”You’re a grand old flag,” the lyrics “Let’s wave our flag proud and tall” link the flag as a sign or emblem of the people, for it is the people who are proud, not the flag. Again, the reader asks, why are the waves proud and to what do they refer?
And we are now drawn into a mystery as deep as the abyss and at the root of why the material creation was brought about in the way that it was, and how, cosmologically, the heavens and earth came out of the “womb” of Heaven (see Job header quote). This pouring forth of darkness (iniquity) explains why the sons of God would shout for joy when the sea poured forth and was closed with doors to ‘quarantine’ it. Something had been amiss! It was no wonder then, that the sons of God rejoiced to see it pour forth and to be sealed off. The proud waves are the swelling waters of the adversary who is always surging to expand beyond his created limits. Here he is contained within boundaries that are astrophysically established with the faithful certainty of physical laws. “Thus far you shall come but no farther!”
Jude sheds a little more light on both ‘sea’ and ‘waves’ in his epistle, verses 12-13:
These men are the hidden reefs in your love feasts, shamelessly feasting with you but shepherding only themselves. They are clouds without water, carried along by the wind; fruitless trees in autumn, twice dead after being uprooted. They are wild waves of the sea, foaming up their own shame; wandering stars, for whom blackest darkness has been reserved forever.
The emphasis is added to show how Jude brings to light the hidden meaning of linguistic icons in Hebrew poetry, in this case the words of the patriarch and prophet Enoch. We see the ‘stars’, which are angels – here they are wandering with no set course, unlike the stars which follow their set courses, demonstrating their obedience to the statues of God – foaming up their own shame, being “wild waves”, proud, independent, exhibiting all of those attributes of the adversary at the heart of the rebellion. This rebellion has come to be the norm with Americans expressing pride in their independence, and in doing what is right in their own eyes. Perhaps this is why America is the last great hope for the adversary, who hopes to show the sin of Korah (Nu 16) as a superior way, with each member of a holy people selecting their own office, determining their own role, and defining what is good and evil. Is it any wonder that Satan loves democracy and sees in it the one-size-fits-all sin of pride and independence? It is the heritage of the King of Greece, the demonic prince who rules the United States, and those united with her. He is the shaggy goat of Daniel’s vision (Dan. 8:21), the ruler of the wild waves of the sea, and here in America he is nearly universally worshipped as the Living God, though he is not that. He is son of the Creator, a rebel (cf. Isa. 1:2) and the architect of a rebellion that necessitated the deployment of a very sophisticated plan to save as many angels as possible, and to bring about the spiritual birth of many sons of God out of the sons of men. Is it any wonder God seeks what has passed (Eccl. 3:15)?
Listen O heavens,
and hear, O earth,
For YHWH speaks:
“Sons I have reared and brought up,
But they have revolted against Me.” (Isa. 1:2)
This view re-frames creation as part of the remedy which the Most High and His Chosen Servant, His Beloved, the Logos who was with Him before the creation, determined was the ultimate definitive loving solution to the treason on high.
And so out of Heaven poured this darkness, this mystery of iniquity or lawlessness, and it poured out like a sea, rushing out of the womb (Job 38), both to reveal the problem that pre-existed in Heaven, as well as to quarantine this disease off from the ancient Heaven of heavens. Finally, it was to be seen that this creation was part of the remedy itself that would be consigned to destruction once everlasting righteousness could be ushered in and all wickedness swept away, and the harvest ushered in. Herein lies the reason that the two as One established Holy Days to commemorate the coming stages of the deliverance.
Yes, the remedy was known before the beginning, and it was a prelude, something so grand that it would be implicit in the creation, namely the sacrifice of the Lamb of God, the spotless One, who would be the sacrifice that would redeem the lives of many out of the abyss, out of the grip of sin and death.
As mentioned above, God has disclosed a few things from before the cosmos existed, which astronomers and astrophysicists do not know. Paul and the other apostles of Christ knew that “the Elect” were foreknown in Christ and in fact chosen before the foundation of the world (Eph. 1:4-7).
And it is here that we arrive at the remedy and what serves as the prelude to the holy history of God’s people Israel, both the historical people as well as the end time House of God. That supernatural, ultra-terrestrial event that occurred is the one mentioned in Revelation 13:8. God desired that the bond-servants of Christ should know that Christ Jesus is the Lamb slain from before the foundations of the world [Gk. cosmos].
We should just take that in for a moment and savor it. Like a beautiful prelude to a symphony, God has disclosed through His servants (cf. Amos 3:7) the entire plan which existed before creation, a plan to recover that which had passed (Eccl. 3:15), and to create sons of Light that could enter into Eternity, sons of Light in the image and likeness of Himself and His Beloved (Gen. 1:26).
Without compiling an exhaustive list, we have a significant number of things known to be before the world began, that is prior to the expansion of the inflationary bubble of the deep, that which is known as the abyss [Heb. Tehom], the valley of the shadow of death, so to speak.
Summary of what we know from before the creation of the heavens and earth:
- The Logos was God and was with God. (John 1:1)
- Pride in Heaven required the “proud waves” to be quarantined, necessitating the creation of the cosmos. (Ezek. 28:12-17, Job 38:8)
- Those foreknown, the Elect, were predestined for adoption as sons, to be redeemed through the blood of Christ. (Eph. 1:4-7)
- The Lamb was slain before the foundations of the world. (Rev. 13:8)
- At the founding of the world, the sons of God rejoiced and the morning stars sang together. (Job 38:7)
- Disciples are to inherit the kingdom prepared from the foundation of the world. (Matt. 25:34)
What can one conclude from this brief counting of what has been disclosed about the pre-creation? Very simply that YHWH’s Plan of Salvation centered on the Passover. It is the only Salvation motif before the creation, and therefore it is the Prelude and the epitome of our deliverance. We find variations on its theme throughout the heilsgeschichte, the ‘holy history’, of Israel, and physical prefiguring of it, but it remains the center.
That it is the center of history and of the Plan is clear in the words from Rev. 3:8, namely that He is slain from the Alpha point in time. And He is the Alpha and Omega. So what do we see at the Omega point of time?
When the heavens and the earth “flee” from before the One seated on the throne, we immediately see Death and Hades cast into the lake of fire along with the Adversary – the same lake of fire that was taken from the “midst” of Satan (Ezek. 28).
From this perspective of God’s plan of salvation, to liberate His sons from sin and death, it becomes apparent that the Passover theme is finally complete with the “fulfillment of all things” in this creation and the entry of the new Heaven and the new earth.
And just as a symphony has many movements and yet is one musical composition, so the cosmos is a symphony composed by the Logos, the Word of God. And though we may see many movements in this symphony, it is still one expression of its central theme. And we should well see the elements of the theme reproduced with great variation, but each one exhibiting the fundamental sounds of that prelude. The fundamental theme becomes contextual within each part of the composition, and therefore can be heard changing over time. So it is with Passover, as you will see below.
The New Covenant
The Passover of YHWH (Lev. 23) was ratified with the blood of lambs, and was celebrated to commemorate God’s liberating action in leading Israel out from slavery in Egypt. As a fractal representation of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world, the Passover in Egypt was a physical deliverance from a physical situation, but by the principle of shadow and type, it reveals a deeper, and underlying spiritual circumstance and salvation from it. God unfurls his plans by first manifesting them in their physical form, to be later fulfilled in their spiritual fullness.
The Passover of our Lord, Christ Jesus, was ratified with His own blood, through which He opened a way into the Heavenly places (cf. Heb. 8:6-13, 9:11-12). Moreover, He sprinkled the heavenly things and sanctified them in His sacrifice (Heb. 9:23). Believers are reminded that this blood is of an “eternal covenant.”
Now the God of peace, the One who brought up from the dead the great Shepherd of the sheep by the blood of the eternal covenant, our Lord Jesus, fit you in every good thing to do His will, working in us that which is pleasing in His sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom the glory forever and ever. Amen. (Heb. 13:20-21, emphasis added)
Likewise, we are told that we enter the Holy Place as well through the blood of Jesus (Heb. 10:19). A new and Living way has been made for us. This is the blood of the new covenant by which the believer is sanctified (Heb. 10:29).
As Moses was the mediator of the first covenant, now Christ Jesus became the mediator of the New.
But you have come to Mount Zion (trans.: Kingdom of Light) and to the city of the Living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to myriads of angels, to the general assembly and ekklesia of the first-born who are enrolled in heaven, and to God, the Judge of all, and to the spirits of righteous men made perfect, and to Jesus, the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood which speaks better than [the blood] of Abel. (Heb. 12:22-24, emphasis added)
This new covenant means eternal Life in the Heavenly Kingdom prepared from the foundation of the world. This is the promised deliverance from sin and death which the spiritual reality of Passover grants.
The fulfillment of Passover lies ahead of us, beyond the millennium as Ezekiel proclaimed (Ezek. 45:21-24), as did the prophet Isaiah (which will be treated shortly). In the new context, namely the reign of the Kingdom upon earth, under Christ, the Passover Feast remains, though transformed slightly to be a seven day feast, consolidated with the previously existing Feast of Unleavened. Future papers will go into more detail on this subject, but for now it is sufficient to see that the ultimate reality still remains to follow the millennium. Since Paul wrote to the Colossians (2:16-17) that the festivals, new moons, and Sabbaths are a shadow of things to come, the disciple should see in the celebration of Passover during the 1000 years of peace, that its complete promises are yet to come. It might be said, however, that there is a fragmentary and partial taste of things to come, where the wolf and the lamb lie down together, though Death and Hades have not yet been destroyed in the lake of fire (Rev. 20:14). There will be some who lead a life without sin.
A Second Passover
What does this mean with respect to a so-called “Second Passover?” As one who had seen evidence in the scriptures of a ‘second Passover’, this writer also had once believed that there would be another physical removal of first-borns at the beginning of the Tribulation period, as foreshadowed in Egypt. Further examination of the chorus of voices in the prophets, especially Isaiah, Joel, and Ezekiel (but not only those messengers), has yielded a rather different picture of things to come. Returning to the points made above, it is clear that Passover extends from Alpha to Omega of this enclosed temporal and sensible sphere, what we call our universe, or singularity. We can divide it into partial fulfillments, but there is an overall unity in the movement of Salvation [Heb. Yeshua]. Passover is complete when all things are fulfilled (Matt. 5:18).
Common proof texts which had been used for the Second Passover – a taking of lives of all first-borns not covered by the blood of Christ – are located in Isaiah 11:11-16 and Isaiah 43:3-7. And as a foreshadowing of a Second Passover, some have appealed to the establishment of the make-up date for Passover in the second month, for those who were unclean or traveling at the time of Passover. Moses established this, and recorded it in Numbers 9:10-11. Indeed, while it seems reasonable that the Passover on the fourteenth day of the second month should pre-figure a spiritual Passover or deliverance in the future, the time of that spiritual release is the question, with the obvious implication of the Numbers passage pointing to the conclusion that such a deliverance cannot come until the people are clean, meaning that until Isaiah 4:4-5 is satisfied, and the filth is washed from the daughters of Zion. Until the passage through fire and the purification therefrom, there can be no complete liberation from slavery to the flesh.
On that basis it is timely to turn and examine the Isaiah passages to see the context of the deliverance “a second time,” and to understand exactly what is meant. Isaiah 11 is one of the most quoted of all the prophets, containing as it does references to the Messiah, to the seven spirits of YHWH, the wolf lying down with the lamb, and the earth being full of the knowledge of YHWH. Can there be any doubt that the context of these circumstances is millennial? Listen to the setting which is a preamble to one of the Passover sections used in support of a “second” Passover.
They will not hurt or destroy in all My holy mountain,
For the earth will be full of the knowledge of the LORD <YHWH>
As the waters cover the sea.
Then it will come about in that day
That the nations will resort to the root of Jesse,
Who will stand as a signal for the peoples,
And His resting place will be glorious. (Isaiah 11:9-10)
Now compare to Isaiah 4:4-5
In that day the Branch of YHWH will be beautiful and glorious, and the fruit of the earth will be the pride and adornment of the survivors of Israel. And it will come about that he who is left in Zion and remains in Jerusalem [cf. Zech. 12:8-10, Rev. 19] will be called holy, everyone recorded for life in Jerusalem [cf. Ps. 87]. When the Lord <Adonai> has washed away the filth of the daughters of Zion, and purged the bloodshed of Jerusalem from her midst, by the spirit of judgment and the spirit of burning [cf. Zech. 13:9], then YHWH will create over the whole area of Mount Zion and over her assemblies a cloud by day, even smoke, and the brightness of a flaming fire by night [cf. Ex. 13:21-22]; for over all the glory will be a canopy. And there will be a shelter to shade from the heat by day, and refuge and a hiding place from the storm and rain. (Isa. 4:2-6, emphasis added)
The key point of this prophetic teaching from Isaiah is that the day of judgment of the nations, when Christ Jesus stands upon the Mount of Olives (Zech. 14) facing Jerusalem and the multitudes gathered for war in the Kidron valley, fire will come down and judge the peoples and the remnant of survivors who call upon YHWH will pass through the fire (Joel 2:32). And . . . the millennium begins just after this, so that we must understand that all of the passages from Isaiah and Jeremiah that are connected with Passover and speak of a greater deliverance than the one out of Egypt, are all referencing a time subsequent to the judgment of the nations (Rev. 19). Returning then to the all-important Isaiah 11 passage, we have confirming voices from Zechariah and Joel on the passage through the fire – shades of “Raiders of the Lost Ark!” Then it will happen:
Then it will happen on that day Adonai [the Lord]
Will again recover the second time with His hand
The remnant of His people, who will remain,
From Assyria, Egypt, Pathros, Cush, Elam, Shinar, Hamath,
and from the islands of the sea.
And He will lift up a standard for the nations,
And will assemble the banished ones of Israel,
And will gather the dispersed of Judah
From the four corners of the earth.
And YHWH will utterly destroy the tongue of the sea of Egypt;
And He will wave His hand over the river with His scorching wind;
And He will strike it into seven streams,
And make men walk over in sandals.
And there will be a highway from Assyria
For the remnant of His people who will be left,
Just as there was for Israel
In the day that they came up out of the land of Egypt.
(Isa. 11:11-12, 15-16, emphasis added)
This allusion to Passover then can be interpreted as a “Second Passover,” though one can also see it as a variation on the larger theme of the Passover deliverance, another fractal expression of it. One thing is for certain: it comes after the nations are defeated at Jerusalem, and the fire theme, so prevalent in the psalms that speak of the Lord’s coming, and in the prophets like Zechariah and Joel, is a passage through which only the righteous may endure. Again, the other Isaiah proof text confirms this.
When you pass through the waters, I will be with you;
And through the rivers, they will not overflow you.
When you walk through the fire, you will not be scorched,
Nor will the flame burn you. (see Isaiah 11:15 above)
For I am YHWH your God,
The Holy One of Israel, your Savior;
I have given Egypt as your ransom,
Cush and Sheba in your place.
Since you are precious in My sight,
You are honored, and I love you,
I will give men in your place
and peoples in exchange for your life.
Do not fear, for I am with you;
I will bring your offspring from the east,
And gather you from the west.
I will say to the north, ‘Give up!’
And to the south, ‘Do not hold back.’
Bring my sons from afar,
And my daughters from the ends of the earth,
Everyone who is called by My name,
And whom I have created for My glory,
Whom I have formed,
Even whom I have made. (Isa. 43:1-7, emphasis added)
The language of ransom certainly links to the Passover, and the passing through the fire is a “Second Passover,” since, without question the first was through water. Thus, all of the appropriate poetic rendering of shadow and type is there, of variation on the theme of exchange that is at the heart of Passover, which is both sacrifice and exchange.
Nonetheless, we must properly discern the timing of this additional Passover – beside the one in Ezekiel 9, in Jerusalem – not placing it at the beginning of the tribulation, but at the end. And then, just as the Rock, i.e. the Logos, was with Israel in the wilderness as a pillar of fire by night and a cloud by day, so will the Divine Presence and Glory of the Lord be with God’s people during the millennium. That manifestation of the Shekinah Presence over Jerusalem is a perfect time marker to hard-link the Exodus out of Egypt by the physical sons of Israel with the exodus out of the world system of Babylon by the end-time House of Israel.
This passage through fire where the surrounding peoples are destroyed is truly the spiritual fulfillment also of the fiery furnace in Daniel 3, where the three righteous young Hebrew men were delivered and the servants of Nebuchadnezzar [the adversary] were destroyed. And so it is that the Passover motif, like a theme implicit in the entire history of God’s people, plays and re-plays itself through the ages until it will be complete when both sin and death are no more. The fire that circumscribes the millennium through which the righteous pass, at the beginning with the battle of Harmagedon and the fiery judgment of the nations (Rev. 19), and at the end with the battle of Gog and Magog with fire coming down out of heaven (Rev. 20) gives us two fractal expressions of this fiery Passover deliverance. These fiery passages are the way back through the flaming swords of the Cherubim who guard the way to Paradise and the Heavens. Yet, it is One Christ, Jesus, who is the Passover Lamb slain from the foundation of the world, whose blood purchased this passage through the fire, thus giving us liberation from sin and death, and therefore One True Passover. This Passover is free to all His sheep who follow in His tracks of Righteousness (Psalm 23).
To summarize, then, there is in actuality One Passover, with a foreshadowing in Egypt, a physical exhibition of it, so that YHWH could disclose the plan, and how it would come about. In that living maquette, the players and settings, movements and events, all pointed to a fulfillment of a Divine Plan which existed before the beginning of this cosmos, and to some of the features of the Heavenly rebellion that required extraordinary measures, i.e. the creation of the Abyss. And another fractal manifestation of the Passover occurred in Jerusalem (see Ezekiel 9), and another at the end of the battle John called “Harmagedon.” In addition, disciples may find additional smaller fractal signs of the deliverance which are part of the greater whole. Yes, a kingdom was prepared from the foundation of the world (Matt. 24:35). Thus, Passover is “the prelude implicit.”
In the sections below, we will examine the celebration of the Feast and why Christians ought to keep it, along with the deeper spiritual reality of the flesh and blood of Christ, which means everlasting Life in the Heavenly Kingdom.
Celebrating the Feast
One of the strongest witnesses to the importance of this Feast Day, the very same day that Christ Jesus was betrayed and crucified, comes from His bond-servant the apostle Paul. And it is a tradition which Paul received directly from the Lord and delivered to the church at Corinth (1Cor. 11:23). And later in the epistle Paul reiterates that his words are as commandments from the Lord (14:37).
Clean out the old leaven, that you may be a new lump, just as you are unleavened. For Christ our Passover also has been sacrificed. Let us therefore celebrate the Feast, not with old leaven, nor with the leaven of malice and wickedness, but with the unleavened [bread] of sincerity and truth. (1 Cor 5:7-8, emphasis added)
Paul continues about the Feast in chapter 11, where he gives the direct discourse from the Lord to His disciples on the night in which He was betrayed.
For I received from the Lord that which I also delivered to you, that the Lord Jesus in the night in which He was betrayed took bread; and when He had given thanks, He broke it, and said, “This is my body which is for you; do this in remembrance of Me.” In the same way the cup also after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in My blood; do this, as often as you drink, in remembrance of Me.” For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until He comes. Therefore whoever eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner, shall be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord. (1 Cor. 11:23-26, emphasis added)
In a simple and elegant transmission, the apostle passes along the Lord’s Commandment to proclaim His death until His return; to testify in solemn assembly that He is the Passover Lamb, slain to deliver His sheep from the valley of the shadow of death. And this is the precise manner to keep the festival, which Paul details further in verses 28-34. First, the inner preparation of self-judgment ensures the supper is done with a clean heart, without the old leaven, namely the leaven of the Pharisees, which would equate to observation of externals without the more crucial devotion of love and remembrance of the Christ’s selfless sacrifice. Sin is to be cleansed from the inside of the cup, all malice and wickedness, which would have one eat the bread and drink the cup unworthily, and be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord.
It is a simple feast that releases the old leaven of bondage to the world, and no longer looks back to physical deliverance out of Egypt. But now with Christ the Passover Lamb sacrificed, the ekklesia looks ahead to the complete spiritual deliverance, namely salvation from sin and death.
That, friends, is the deep spiritual shadow of things to come which Paul meant when he wrote to the Colossians of the importance of the moedim, the appointed times – festivals, new moons, and Sabbaths.
Therefore, do not let anyone judge you in eating and in drinking or with regard to a festival, a new moon or Sabbaths, which things are a shadow of things coming, but also the body of Christ. Let no one give judgment against you, taking a stand on humility and worship of the angels, searching into what he has seen (in initiation), vainly being puffed up by his sensuous mind, and not holding fast to the head, from whom all the body, being supplied by means of connections and bonds of union, and being joined together, will grow with the growth of God. (Col. 2:16-19, translation by author, emphasis added)
This is a sharp departure from the misbegotten translations which have added the word mere to shadow, an editorial comment which displays a complete ignorance of why it is important to be in the shadow of El Shaddai (see Ps 91), and why the body of Christ is His shadow, namely Christ’s. There is nothing mere about that shadow of things to come, for what is to come is the fulfillment of YHWH’s Word. The word ‘mere’ is simply not there in the Greek manuscripts.
Paul’s careful wording presents a view that those who truly are of the body of Christ can be found keeping the Passover, and by that growing with the growth of God, up into the Head which is Christ, to become more clearly representative of His nature. They are a shadow which follows Him who is the Son – and He kept the Passover – just a human shadow follows the person walking in the sun. Disciples are those walking in the Son!
A second witness by which the commandment is established can be found in the Lord’s own words, making them a covenantal part of the promise of the new covenant in His blood. The gospel of John is particularly striking in Christ’s farewell discourse, when He shares what amounts to His “last will and testament’ with his beloved friends. The following four citations are a repeated insistence on the importance of keeping His commandments, or His word, and the benefits that ensue from it.
John 14: 21 – He who has my commandments and keeps them, he it is who loves Me; and he who loves me shall be loved by my Father and I will love him, and will disclose myself to him.
John 14:23 – If anyone loves me, he will keep my word; and my Father will love him, and we will come to him, and make our abode with him.
John 15:10 – If you keep my commandments you will abide in My love.
John 15: 14 – You are my friends if you do what I command you.
In short, to be His friend, to abide in Him, the have the Father and the Son to make a home in us, and to have Him disclose Himself to us, are all contingent on keeping His commandments. This is unequivocal. And to those who have been drinking the antinomian Kool-Aid (aka the intoxicating wine of lawlessness): these are the words of the Lord, and not subject to dispute or interpretation. They are simple and direct, not to be added to, nor subtracted from. These words are spirit and life.
Having examined the meaning of the Passover feast, the compelling reasons to keep it on the night Christ Jesus was betrayed – the fourteenth of the first month of the year by God’s calendar – and how to prepare for it spiritually, we are left with the simplicity of observation, which is plain enough in scripture.
Using Paul’s words to the Corinthians and Jesus’ words to the disciples in the gospels we are to have a quiet and most solemn evening of holiness. After dinner, which should be a quiet and simple meal, not really commemorative of the exodus out of Egypt, and after sunset (perhaps an hour or more separate from the meal) a time of prayer and song should begin, and with a foot washing as recorded in John’s gospel.
Participants who are family and friends gathered in the home should read the pertinent passages in the gospels and 1 Corinthians 11. Psalm 51 might be the opener to pray for a clean heart, and using only the most relevant verses. Here another hymn can be sung, such as the hymn in Revelation 5, “Worthy is the Lamb.” Even the hymn for Psalm 81 can be appropriate, since it links to the Passover out of Egypt as well.
Then unleavened bread and red wine are brought out and blessed with thanksgiving to the Father in the name of Christ Jesus, for the sacrifice of the Lamb of God and redemption by His blood. The gathered friends may read the Lord’s words with the distribution of the bread and the drinking of the wine. Quiet reflection and thanksgiving are in order, both aloud and in the silent words of the heart.
Christ our Passover is sacrificed and we proclaim that life-giving offering of His death until He comes. By this observance we show our fidelity to His word, our faith in His gift of life and in the promise of our ultimate liberation from sin and death. By keeping the Passover feast on the night He was betrayed, we proclaim to the world, and to angels looking on, that Christ Jesus is the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world and thus He is King of kings and Lord of lords, who shall come and rule over all His enemies until death the last enemy is conquered. (1 Cor. 15)
One deeper mystery remains concerning Passover and it will need deeper treatment in the next writing that shall come but a brief overview is in order since it is such a profound spiritual reality that it is appropriate for meditation and reflection on Passover. It is the dynamic relation of Christ’s body and blood to the bread of Heaven.
Passover and the Bread of Heaven – John 6:53-58
When Christ said “this is my body,” and “this is the new covenant in my blood” he made a change in the sacraments for the appointed feast of Passover, a change that reveals the deeper spiritual meaning of the divine movement underlying it. Yet the words also echo another discourse of the Lord which John passed on, but which may point to another dimension of the life-giving Spirit.
I am the bread of life. Your fathers ate the manna in the wilderness, and they died. This is the bread which comes down from heaven, so that one may eat of it and not die. I am the living bread that came down out of heaven; if anyone eats of this bread, he shall live forever; and the bread also which I shall give for the life of the world is My flesh. (John 6:47-51)
Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood, you have no life in yourselves. He who eats My flesh and drinks My blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day. For My flesh is true food, and My blood is true drink. He who eats My flesh and drinks My blood abides in Me, and I in him. As the living Father sent Me, and I live because of the Father, so he who eats Me, he also shall live because of Me. This is the bread which came down out of heaven; not as the fathers ate, and died, he who eats this bread shall live forever. (John 6:53-58, emphasis added)
Does this cause you to stumble? What then if you should behold the Son of Man ascending where He was before? The Spirit gives life; the flesh profits nothing; the words that I have spoken are spirit and life. (John 6:61-63)
Does this mean the words of John 6 are fulfilled by the Passover celebration or is there something more?
Contemporary interpreters argue that these words were placed in the gospel to establish the sacrament of holy communion. But there is a paradox in the extended teaching of Christ, and it resides in the dual referent ‘flesh.’ This has a striking impact on the meaning of Passover and the spiritual rationale for keeping it, as well as the ‘efficacy’ of Passover. The reader can expect more on that in another installment to come shortly.
“That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.”(John 3:6)
Thus, Passover is, like Holy Communion, excluded from Hocus Pocus. That is to say, what is done of the flesh cannot magically give birth to spirit, just as pronunciations of the name of Jesus, or of the Father, YHWH, have no effect on the salvation of souls.
The bread that came down from Heaven (John 6:47-51) is not physical, it is the “flesh” of Light, it is spiritual not physical. We are to live by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God. And yes, Christ, the Logos, is the “mouth of God.” We are to take in the Living Words, His words which are Life. “Bread of Life” = “Word of Life” (1 John 1).
The long and the short of it is this: the symbolic is not the same as the spiritual. When Jesus returned, He came back in spiritual “flesh” not symbolically. Thus, this bread can be neither symbolic nor figurative, which means that no weekly communion, nor yearly Passover feast, can take the place of eating His spiritual flesh and as we shall see in the next section, from drinking His spiritual drink.
“The New Covenant in My Blood”
The new testament epistle to the Hebrews is replete with material that addresses the sacrifice of Christ, and truth be known, faithful disciples will want to study chapters eight through thirteen very carefully. As this paper is already longer than hoped, just a few pithy citations should suffice to outline the contours of the meaning and substance of ‘blood’ and the nature of the “New Covenant,” which comprise another weighty subject that will be the basis of that paper promised to come soon. The short answer is sanctification by the blood which leads to eternal life in Christ Jesus. Just a few quotations from Hebrews will give a foretaste of this new reality.
But when Christ appeared a high priest of the good things to come, [He entered] through the greater and more perfect tabernacle, not made with hands, that is to say, not of this creation; and not through the blood of goats and calves, but through His own blood, He entered the holy place once for all, having obtained eternal redemption. (Heb. 9:11-12)
According to the Law, almost all things are cleansed with blood, and without shedding of blood there is no forgiveness. Therefore it was necessary for the copies of the things in the heavens to be cleansed with these [bulls and goats], but the heavenly things themselves with better sacrifices than these. (Heb. 9:22-23, emphasis added, Note ‘sacrifices’ pl.)
Since, therefore, brethren, we have confidence to enter the holy place by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way which He inaugurated for us through the veil, that is, His flesh, and since [we have] a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. (Heb. 10:19-22, emphasis added)
But you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to myriads of angels, to the general assembly and church of the first-born who are enrolled in heaven, and to God, the Judge of all, and to the spirits of righteous men made perfect, and to Jesus, the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood, speaking a better thing than Abel. (Heb. 12:22-24, emphasis added)
Now may the God of peace, who by the blood of the eternal covenant, brought back from the dead our Lord Jesus, the great Shepherd of the sheep, equip you in every good thing to do His will, working in us that which is pleasing in His sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom the glory forever and ever. Amen. (Heb. 13:20-21, emphasis added)
In these sublime texts lies a mystery beyond compare, and again, only a foretaste can be fitted into the current writing. For the blood is the vehicle of our breath, oxygen, just as the blood of Christ is the circulatory substance (spiritual) for the Divine Life which He gives. So what is born of Spirit must be of spiritual flesh and spiritual blood. There is another entire circulatory system for the sprinkled blood, which is true drink! It circulates His Spirit throughout His body. And as the blood of Abel cried out to the Lord from the dust, that his spirit was expiring, the blood of Jesus Christ cries out from Heaven that there is New Life. It is speaking a better thing, indeed.
So herein is the mystery, also alluded to in Hebrews 9:23 above. First, there are sacrifices plural which means those who have come out of Christ, so to speak, the Elect, are pre-ordained to sacrifice as well, which Paul rightly taught (Rom. 8:17).
Indeed, this is the blood which purchased the 144,000 from among men as first fruits to God and to the Lamb (Rev. 14:5). Are these the ones, the Elect, which Paul refers to as “vessels of mercy which He prepared beforehand for glory?” (Rom. 9:23). If so, then we have another facet of what was ordained before the foundations of the world.
Second, there is an eternal covenant in the blood which would be that which conveys life to all the members – this life being eternal, not temporal, life – just as human blood conveys life-giving oxygen or breath [spiritus] to all the cells in the body. This is precisely the covenant of which Jeremiah spoke
“Behold days are coming,” declares the YHWH, “when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah, not like the covenant I made with their fathers in the day I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt, My covenant which they broke, although I was a husband to them,” declares YHWH. “But this is the covenant which I will make with the house of Israel after those days,” declares YHWH, “I will put My law within them, and on their heart I will write it; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people. And they shall not teach again, each man his neighbor and each man his brother, saying, ‘Know YHWH,’ for they shall all know Me, from the least of them to the greatest of them,” declares YHWH, “for I will forgive their iniquity, and their sin I will remember no more.” (Jer. 31:31-34, emphasis added)
“Behold, I will gather them out of all the lands, to which I have driven them in My anger, in My wrath, and in great indignation; and I will bring them back to this place and make them dwell in safety. And they shall be My people, and I will be their God; and I will give them one heart and one way, that they may fear Me always, for their own good, and their children after them. And I will make an everlasting covenant with them that I will not turn away from them, to do them good; and I will put the fear of Me in their hearts so that they will not turn away from Me. And I will rejoice over them to do them good, and I will faithfully plant them in this land with all My heart and with all My soul. (Jer. 31:37-41, emphasis added)
Dwelling in safety is the hallmark of the millennium when Christ rules over His enemies, and war is studied no more. At that time the House of Israel will have circumcised hearts and their sins will be remembered no more. It is worthy of note that the new covenant is mentioned in contrast with the Passover covenant not the Sinai covenant. So it is that the Passover theme is present in the rendering of the new covenant, a fact that conveys the nature of the New Covenant as a spiritual version of the Passover Covenant, and one that will actual realize the spiritual benefits promised.
As a postlude let us visit very briefly the fractal nature of the cosmos, albeit a creation that came out of things not seen, i.e. spiritual things. Work done in Russia on DNA in the first decade of the twenty-first century by Peter Gariaev yielded startling revelations about our thread of life. Dr. Gariaev discovered that most of the information in the human genome is stored in wave form as biophotonic holograms, for which reason he called his theory Linguistic Wave Genetics (LWG). The hardware, or nucleic acids, containing the code, are incomplete without the holographic light storage. There must be openness to novelity, something revealed in the homonyms that appear ambiguous. Very simply, without indeterminacy, there is no way to respond to novel circumstances in the environment.
On the linguistic side, the “word” displays a fractal nature, such that patterns appear and re-appear, with repetition, variation, scaling, and other features one finds in literature as well. Basically, this means the word for the generation of the physical forms of life on earth is the analogue for the spiritual Word, through whom all things came to be as John wrote in his gospel.
The fractality of God’s Plan revealed in scripture is similar to that structure we see in the human genome; this we have discovered on our pathway through the theme in the prelude implicit in God’s movement of Salvation from sin and death. Namely, the Lamb slain from the foundations of the world, the Logos who was Beloved of the Most High before the cosmos came to be, is the fundamental motif, and it demonstrates the fractality of the redemption and sanctification of all those who are fashioned into the form of the son of Man, not being conformed to the world, but being transformed by the renewing of their minds. (Rom. 12:1)
Now remains for the deeper understanding on the true spiritual flesh and blood which is “true food” and “true drink,” and that will be addressed in the subsequent writing.
For now, remembrance of the One who gave Himself is at hand, Passover is here, and all who love God and claim to be His will be there as His Body, the shadow of His Heavenly Glory. To Him whose sacrifice is implicit in all of the creation, He who is the Alpha and Omega, be the glory, honor, and might, forever and ever. Amen.