Cover to Cover
DISCERNING THE TIMES
Jesus called the Pharisees and Sadducees hypocrites. The Greek word for hypocrite is hupokrites, a word that describes an actor, reading a script, putting on an act. They conceal their true motives, a deceptive manipulator. They came to Jesus to test Him, asking for a sign. He called them pretenders, saying they could look at the sky to predict the weather, yet Jesus said, “You cannot discern the signs of the times.” Seriously, they were looking right in the face of their Messiah, and they had no idea. They knew of the miracles, and they would not even consider Jesus was the Son of God. They were incredibly full of themselves, proud, arrogant. God will reveal and help us discern the times we are living in as we look to Him in humility and faith (1 Chronicles 12:32).
The sign Jesus said he would give was of Jonah, a type of His own death and resurrection.
THE LEAVEN OF THE RELIGIOUS LEADERS
Jesus said to the disciples, “Take heed and beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and the Sadducees.”
When the disciples heard Jesus talk about leaven, they thought Jesus was directing his statement at them because they had forgotten to bring bread. Jesus knew by the Spirit what they were saying among themselves. He was “aware of it.” Jesus confronted it, reminding them of the two times they fed a multitude, yet they were concerned about what the twelve of them would eat.
Leaven is yeast, causing dough to rise. It only takes a small amount to affect the whole loaf. The Pharisees had influence among the Jews, and they were spreading a false doctrine – a doctrine of rules and rituals. Could a similar issue rise up among Christians today? Absolutely! There are “religious” Christians that focus on performance, condemning those who are struggling with addictions or bondage rather than leading them to freedom in the grace God offers.
In verses 13-20, we read how Peter knew Jesus as the Son of God. He didn’t know this from his own conclusion. He knew this because of the Spirit of God revealed it to him. Jesus said on this rock, the revelation of the Christ, He would build His church. Jesus also said that the gates of Hades (or Shoel) could not prevail against this revealed truth of the Christ.
Jesus would go to Hades, He would defeat the enemy, He would take authority from Satan, and then share that authority with us as submitted servants of His. In that authority, we would be able to participate in spiritual warfare against the enemy. In Jesus’ name, we would bind devils, able to stop their activity. We also are able to speak and invite the Spirit of God to move in a situation, as well as loosing angels to minister.
PETER MISSES IT
In verses 21-23, Jesus predicts His death, and Peter rebukes Christ. Jesus recognizes Satan is influencing Peter, turns and speaks directly to Satan, telling him to get behind Him. If Satan could influence Peter, one of the twelve, then we need to be careful we don’t allow Satan to have a voice in our life through well-meaning, familiar friends.
In verses 24-27 Jesus speaks of giving our all to the Lord, a full surrender, a dying to self.
God spoke about a Passover Feast for the Jewish people, an annual ceremony that they would perform for years to come, all a foreshadowing of the Christ. It started here, in Egypt, when the death angel killed all the firstborn children of Egypt.
Today the Jews continue to share the Passover meal, known as the Seder, many still not recognizing how Passover relates to Christ. For today’s Jew, the Seder teaches the history of the Jews, how they came out of Egypt.
In Matthew 26:17-30, Jesus is among the Jewish people taking the Passover meal, also known as “The Last Supper.” Soon after, He is betrayed by Judas, becoming our sacrificial Lamb.
Here are elements of the Passover that apply to Christ and the New Covenant:
· The first Passover was taken while the Jews were slaves.
Meaning: before Christ, we all were slaves to sin.
· On the 10th of Nisan, the first month on the Jewish calendar (or Abib), the head of the home would choose a lamb for sacrifice.
Meaning: Christ was received by the Jews at the Triumphal Entry on the 10th of Nisan.
· The lamb was to be without blemish.
Meaning: Jesus was without sin, our perfect sacrifice.
· They were to keep the lamb with them until the 14th, and then they killed it at twilight. Meaning: According to John 19:14, 31, 42, Jesus was crucified on Preparation Day of Passover.
· The blood was applied to the doorposts and lintel of the entrances to the home.
Meaning: Jesus referred to Himself as the door, or the entrance, or way, to God. The blood represented the blood He shed. Jesus also was crucified on the cross, similar to the posts and cross beam.
· That night they would cook and eat the lamb with unleavened bread and bitter herbs
Meaning: In a covenant, a meal was shared. As in communion, another covenant act, taking the elements was a sign of being “one” with the other in covenant. See John 17, Jesus prayer before He was betrayed.
· They were to consume the whole lamb, and what wasn’t consumed would be burned.
Meaning: Jesus’ sacrifice was complete.
· They were to be ready to travel to leave Egypt.
Meaning: Jesus brings us freedom from sin.
· The death angel would pass over the homes that had the blood applied.
Meaning: Jesus sacrifice delivers us from spiritual death.
· The blood was applied with a brush made from hyssop.
Meaning: According to Psalm 51:7 Jesus blood makes us white as snow.
· The death angel would kill the firstborn of each home that did not have blood applied.
Meaning: the firstborn was to be set apart for God as a foreshadow of Christ. The firstborn of Mary, a virgin, was Jesus, created uniquely as the Son and Sacrifice of God. Jesus is also known as the firstborn from the dead, not the first to be raised from the dead, but the first to be reborn spiritually, having become sin on our behalf. He is the Firstfruits, which is another feast that will begin later on the 16th of Nisan. Our tithe represents the Christ, so when we tithe, we are honoring our salvation through Jesus. Today, it is Jesus who personally received our tithes (Hebrews 7:8).
· The Feast of Unleavened Bread followed the Passover, the 15th of Nisan, lasting 7 days.
Meaning: The number seven means “complete, full.” What Jesus did for us was done in full. We are complete in Him. Leaven is known as sin that has an effect on our lives. Unleavened bread is symbolic of being freed from sin.
· The Jews were not to work the first and seventh days of Unleavened Bread. They did gather to worship on those days.
Meaning: Rest represents the grace of God.
· After the death angel takes the lives of the firstborn, including Pharaoh’s son, the Egyptians give gold, silver, and clothing to the Hebrews as they leave Egypt for good. The Bible says they “plundered” the Egyptians. The Hebrew word for plunder is natsal, and it means “to tear oneself away, to be delivered.”
Meaning: slavery holds a person bound. The Hebrew deliverance was more than leaving Egypt. It was a stripping away from being owned and controlled by another people. Going with the prosperity of their owner, was a tearing away, and a taking away. This has a significance because it was prophesied to Abraham hundreds of years prior to the plundering (Genesis 15:14). For some, the prison door is open, but they are still living inside their cell. God not only frees us, He helps us to take back what was stolen from us. I am a child of God.
· There were Passover regulations. No foreigner could eat it.
Meaning: you have to enter into covenant to eat it.
· You have to eat it in the house.
Meaning: a home is a place of occupancy, and it was a place that had to be cleaned and free of leaven. Our heart is our home. During communion, if someone took it unworthily, sickness and death would come on them (1 Corinthians 11:27-31).
· You cannot break any of the bones of the sacrifice.
Meaning: we know none of Jesus’ bones were broken (Psalm 34:20). At the crucifixion, Jesus was pierced for covenant, cut, instead of having his bones broken, a covenant ritual for sacrifice.
In chapter 13, we see the dedication of the firstborn, the institution of the Feast of Unleavened Bread, and the beginning of the journey into the wilderness, being led by a pillar of cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night. They were led in groups by fighting formation. They were not disorganized or fleeing in terror. Pharaoh is already planning to come after the Israelites, not wanting to lose his slaves.