Communion or the Lord’s Supper Explained in Its Hebraic Context

The Importance of Memorials and Symbols

Obedient and truth-seeking disciples of Yeshua will want to love him by keeping his commandments (John 14:12), and by teaching and doing everything he commanded (Matt 28:20). They will be following Paul’s example to imitate Yeshua (1 Cor 11:1) as well heeding John’s admonition “to walk just as [Yeshua] walked” (1 John 2:6). 

With regard to obeying YHVH’s commands, symbols and memorials figure prominently in YHVH Elohim’s spiritual economy. Why is this? They are teaching aids. Physical humans need physical things to help them to comprehend spiritual truths and ideals. Using symbols, commemorations and memorials is a method of teaching and relates to pedagogy, which is “the method and practice of teaching, especially as an academic subject or theoretical concept.” A effective teacher endeavors to build bridges of understanding between what the student knows and what the teacher wants to teach the student— between the known and the unknown, between what the student understands now and what the teacher wants his students to learn. A successful teacher learns the skill of building bridges of understanding with his students to bring them to a higher level of understanding. The same is true of YHVH Elohim as we works with humans to teach them about spiritual things.

On a spiritual level, YHVH Elohim, our Heavenly Teacher, employes similar pedagogic or teaching techniques as he endeavors to bring men to a higher level of understanding heaven’s spiritual truths and realities. The use of symbols and memorials as teaching tools is essential to this process of teaching and learning.

The Bible is full of symbols and memorials that represent or point to something else and act as teaching aids to assist humans in learning about Elohim and what he requires of us. For example, Continue reading

 

Some Prophetic Implications of the Sacrifices: The Crucifixion, Sin and Communion

Leviticus 6:9, Shall be on the hearth. It took most of the day (see v. 12) and all night to burn up an animal completely. Similarly, Yeshua hung on the cross for a long time—from sometime after the third hour (9 AM) until the ninth hour (3 PM). Not only this, but from the six hour (12 PM) to the ninth hour (3 PM) when Yeshua died, darkness come over the earth (Matt 27:45; Luke 23:44). Both the burnt offering and Yeshua’s time on the cross encompassed hours of daylight and darkness.

Leviticus 6:17, No leaven. Why does YHVH stipulate this prohibition? The main Jewish commentaries are unable to answer this question. It is not until we understand the spiritual implications of leavening as revealed in the Testimony of Yeshua that this prohibition makes sense. Leavening is a Hebraism for false doctrines, hypocrisy and sin (Matt 16:1–5, 12; Luke 12:1; 1 Cor 5:1–5). Unleavened bread, on the other hand, is a metaphor for sincerity and truth (1 Cor 5:5, the last words of the verse). This is why unleavened bread is consumed at communion on Passover, for it is a symbol of Yeshua’s sinless life that he offered up on the cross for sinners (Matt 26:26), and it symbolizes what should be the heart of the saint. 

Leviticus 7:6, Every male…may eat it. Why were the priests allowed to eat some of the offerings? What’s this all about? Let’s answer this question with a question. Why do believers in Yeshua eat the communion elements, and what do they represent? Is there a Continue reading

 

“Eat my flesh and drink my blood…” Say what??

John 6:54, Flesh…blood.  “Eats flesh and drinks my blood”  is not some ribald admonition on the part of Yeshua to involve themselves in cannibalism, as I have heard some biblically naive and ignorant people claim. What did Yeshua really mean when he made this statement?

This phrase, in fact, is merely a Hebrew idiom or metaphor meaning “the whole person” (see Matt 16:17; 1 Cor 15:50; Gal 1:6; Eph 6:12; Heb 2:14). This relates to Moses’ instructions that “man shall not live by bread alone…but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of YHVH” (Deut 8:3). This applies to Yeshua who was that Word of Elohim who “became flesh and dwelt among us” (John 1:1 and 14).

When one puts their faith in Yeshua (John 6:29 and 5:24), then one must also believe him—that is, not only accept him as the Son of Elohim and one’s Savior, but also follow and Continue reading

 

Do you fully discern the Lord’s body?


 

Gather my saints together unto me; those that have made/cut a covenant with me by sacrifice. (Psalm 50:5

Psalms 50:5, Made/cut a covenant…by sacrifice. This refers to the method by which covenants were made in ancient times between two parties. This same ritual occurred when YHVH made (or cut) a covenant with Abraham in Genesis chapter 15 except that YHVH took all the responsibilities for fulfilling the covenant upon himself, for Abraham was asleep when this covenant was cut (Gen 15:9–10, 12). All Abraham had to do was to have faith in YHVH and all the blessings of the Abrahamic Covenant would fall upon him (Gen 15:6). We know from Paul’s discussion in Romans chapter four that the Abrahamic Covenant is the original biblical model for how an individual can receive salvation from Elohim. We also know that when YHVH made his covenant with Abraham, the vision Abraham had while he was asleep prophetically pointed to Yeshua’s death on the cross and his initiating the new/renewed covenant as prophesied in the Tanakh (e.g. Jer 31:31–33; also see my discussion of Gen 15:12–21 at Abraham’s vision). Yeshua at his last supper and subsequent crucifixion fulfilled this ancient prophecy as well as the spiritual types and shadows discussed in Psalm 50:7 and Genesis 15:9–21. At his last supper, Yeshua made a new covenant with his disciples through his body (the bread) and blood (the wine), which redeemed believers now commemorate when they take communion. 

And as they were eating, Jesus took bread, and blessed it, and brake it, and gave it to the disciples, and said, Take, eat; this is my body. And he took the cup, and gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying, Drink ye all of it; for this is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins. (Matt 26:26–28)

And when he had given thanks, he brake it, and said, Take, eat: this is my body, which is broken for you: this do in remembrance of me. (1 Cor 11:24)

Prior to his death on the cross, Yeshua’s predictively explained the significance of his broken body and spilled blood as it relates to covenantal agreement between him and those who would place their faith in him (as Abraham did in Gen 15).

35And Jesus said unto them, I am the bread of life: he that cometh to me shall never hunger; and he that believeth on me shall never thirst.…47 Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me hath everlasting life.…50 This is the bread which cometh down from heaven, that a man may eat thereof, and not die.53 Then Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink his blood, ye have no life in you.…58This is that bread which came down from heaven: not as your fathers did eat manna, and are dead: he that eateth of this bread shall live for ever. (John 6:35, 47, 50, 53, 58)

In the context of the Passover service when the saints through the ritual of communion annually commemorate Yeshua’s “cutting” the new covenant with his saints and then ratifying that covenant through his death, Paul has the following to say about the significance of Yeshua’s body:

For as often as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye do shew the Lord’s death till he come. Wherefore whosoever shall eat this bread, and drink this cup of the Lord, unworthily, shall be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord. But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of that bread, and drink of that cup. For he that eateth and drinketh unworthily, eateth and drinketh damnation to himself, not discerning the Lord’s body. (1 Cor 11:26–29)

Those who carelessly take communion are literally disrespecting not only the high value of the covenant that was made (or cut), but the tremendous price of making a covenant with Elohim (i.e. it cost Yeshua his life, and the believer must also die to himself as he accepts, unconditionally, Yeshua as his Lord and Master). Moreover, careless partakers of communion are not only underestimating the cost of their salvation, but the value and the benefits of that salvation, which is spiritual rewards including eternal life. Elohim is not only not duty bound to give immortality to such people, but would be foolish to immortalize people who don’t sufficiently recognize and appreciate the cost and value of covenantal agreement. In doing so, he would risk having another rebellion on his hand at some point in the future.

An ancient relic of crucifixion.

So when Yeshua died on the cross, he become the sacrifice that was cut (i.e. his body was brutally mutilated prior to and during his crucifixion) to which this verse in this Psalm 50 makes allusion. 

Moreover, Abraham not only had faith in YHVH, but he had to walk out that faith the rest of his life, for faith without works is dead (Jas 2:14–26). Similarly, those who place their faith in Yeshua must also back up that faith by doing his words (John 5:24), doing good (John 5:29; 3:21), loving him and keeping his commandments (John 14:15), coming to the light of Elohim’s truth (John 3:20–21), and showing that they are overcoming the word, the flesh and the devil resulting in eternal life and great spiritual rewards in the world to come (Rev 2:7, 11, 17, 26; 3:5, 12, 21). 

At the same time, those who don’t place their trust in Yeshua by accepting the covenant he “cut” through his death on the cross and then by backing that faith up with good deeds, or those who have “accepted” Yeshua, but lightly esteem him, will have a terrible price to pay.

For he that eateth and drinketh unworthily, eateth and drinketh damnation to himself, not discerning the Lord’s body. For this cause many are weak and sickly among you, and many sleep. (1 Cor 11:29–30)

Marvel not at this: for the hour is coming, in the which all that are in the graves shall hear his voice, and shall come forth; they that have done good, unto the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of damnation. (John 5:28–29)

He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. (John 3:18)

 

Why Celebrate the Passover?

Isn’t your life already busy enough? Who has time for a six-hour Passover Seder commemorating something that happened thousands of years ago? What could this possibly have to do with my life here and now, you may ask? How can a 3500-year-old Biblical ritual in any way relate to those living in the age of the laser, satellites, the worldwide web and computers? Well, let’s see!

The Preacher said in Ecclesiastes 3:15, “That which is has been already and that which will be has already been.…” Life is full of paradoxes. Do advancements in technology, science, economics, medicine, religion, and world government really promise to give men the rest for their weary souls for which they long?

How about a different approach to the questions and problems facing modern man? Is it possible to go forward by going backwards? This is a thesis that the ancient prophet Yermeyahu (Jeremiah) proffered to those who had ears to hear. He said, “Thus says YHVH, ‘Stand by the ways and see and ask for the ancient paths, where the good way is, and walk in it; and you will find rest for your souls. But they said, we will not walk in it’” (Jer 6:16). What were those ancient paths to which this white-haired Jewish prophet referred? This question is answered three verses later: “Because they have not listened to My words, and as for My Torah, they have rejected it also” (verse 19). YHVH through his prophets has been showing men the way of rest for their souls for thousands of years, yet men consistently refuse to listen. They always have a better way, so it seems!

The festival of Passover is one of the most ancient paths to be found in all of the Scriptures. In it are contained clues that will help the partakers of it to understand the past, present and the future.

A God-hater, Karl Marx, the father of modern communism, said that religion is the opiate of the masses. Yes, this can be said of dead, truthless and spiritless religion. But how about that religion which gives definition, purpose, meaning, hope and destiny to a man’s life? How could anything that comes directly from the Loving Father who created you and me in his own image be detrimental to us?

It has been said that the religion of the Bible tells a man where he has come from, where he is at and where he is going. Could it not be said that a man who knows the answers to these questions possesses true wisdom and wealth, and has indeed found rest for his troubled soul?

One of the most important scriptures in the Jewish faith is the famous shema passage of Deuteronomy 6:4–9. This passage, which is like a “pledge of allegiance” for the Jews, starts out by saying, “Hear [shema], O Israel …” The word shema literally means “to hear and to do.” Later, in verse five, the shema continues, “And you shall love YHVH your Elohim with all your heart, and with all your soul and with all your might.” Loving our Heavenly Creator is not just a mind-thing, but also an action and a doing thing. It is Continue reading

 

Did Yeshua Eat Leavened Bread During the Passover/Last Supper Communion Service?

 

 

 

 

 

There has been a perennial question among many Christians as to whether Yeshua ate leavened or unleavened bread during his last supper Passover communion service. This is because of the Greek words for bread that appear in the Greek NT manuscripts. The excerpt below answering this question is from a larger article I wrote years ago entitled “Passover…When Do We Celebrate It? At the Beginning OR the End of Aviv 14?” available at https://www.hoshanarabbah.org/pdfs/psvr_dy.pdf .

I take the position that Yeshua didn’t eat leavened bread during communion, since it would have violated biblical (Tanakh or OT) types and shadows pointing to Yeshua’s sinlessness. I cannot and will not eat leavened bread in communion because I don’t want in any way to imply or even remotely suggest that Yeshua was a sinner. In this excerpt from my article, I explain the reasons for my position.

Unleavened Bread Versus Leavened Bread

At this point, many questions arise for the honest Bible student. Whatever Yeshua was doing with his disciples Passover-wise, it was before he was to suffer, as Luke 22:15 states. Was he eating an actual Passover lamb? Or just eating bread that was now to become an emblem of his body, a picture of the sacrificial lamb itself? If he was eating bread, and not lamb itself, then why is the term for the bread that he ate with his disciples that night a reference to generic bread (see Matt. 26:26; Mark 14:22; Luke 22:9; 24:30; 24:35; John 13:18), and not unleavened bread, which is a totally different word in the Greek language? To be sure, unleavened bread, not leavened bread, was eaten during the Passover meal in accordance with the Hebrew Scriptures (Num. 9:10-11; Josh. 5:11).

Could this reference to generic (leavened) bread, to which the Gospel writers make unanimous reference in all of their accounts, have been referring to Yeshua as “the bread of life?” Yeshua refers to himself as the “bread of life” (the same Greek word [artos, Strong’s G740] for generic, leavened bread is used in Yeshua’s “Last Supper” accounts as well as in his references to his being the bread of life) in several places in the Gospel of John (6:31, 33, 34,  35, 41, 48, 50, 51, 58). If Yeshua was keeping an early Passover meal with his disciples, that is, early on the fourteenth of Abib instead of late on the fourteenth, which is when the Jews kept it and when the Passover lamb was sacrificed in the temple, which corresponded to when Yeshua was hanging on the cross, then it would have been permissible to eat leavened bread. Torah commands that only unleavened bread be eaten during the seven-day Feast of Unleavened Bread between the fifteenth and the twenty-first days of the first month (Exod. 12:15; 13:6-7; 23:15; 34:18; Lev. 23:5-6; Num. 28:17; Deut. 16:3, 8). Leavened bread is not prohibited from being eaten on the fourteenth (although the Hebrew Scriptures or Tanakh does forbid its being eaten during the actual Passover ceremony itself [Num. 9:10-11; Josh. 5:11], which would have started at the end of the fourteenth and overlapped into the fifteenth, which was the first day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread), though it is safe to say, that most Israelite homes had already been de-leavened by then. The Jews kept Passover (and still do to this day) at the end of the fourteenth and ate their Passover meal actually at the beginning of the fifteenth, which is the beginning of the time when Torah forbids the eating of leavened bread for seven days.

So Yeshua could have eaten leavened bread at the beginning of the Passover day as an object lesson to his disciples (and to us) that he was the bread of life, to which the Passover lamb pointed, and he would not have violated Torah.

That Yeshua ate leavened bread is one line of reasoning that some students of Scripture use to attempt to disprove that his last supper was a Passover Seder. However, to counter this point, some will refer to the Scripture passage in 1 Corinthians 11:17-34, which is a reference to the last meal that Yeshua had with his disciples. There is no mention specifically here of a Passover Seder, but only a meal and the term for bread here is artos­, the Greek word for generic, leavened bread. Does this, passage therefore prove that what Yeshua did with his disciples was not a Seder, even though Yeshua himself referred to it as such? If so, why the usage of the word artos and not the Greek word azumos (Strong’s G106) for unleavened bread? Furthermore, some find it unimaginable that Yeshua would be partaking of leavened bread and likening it to his body, when leavened bread contains yeast or sour dough, a type of sin, and we know that Yeshua had no sin in him. Others say that it was appropriate for him to eat leavened bread, since he took our sins upon himself and that he went to the cross with leaven (a picture of our sins) in him. It might also be added that using the generic term for bread (in reference to the last supper) does not prove conclusively that it was indeed leavened bread. It could have been unleavened. Unleavened bread is still bread. It’s simply a flat bread. But why doesn’t Scripture say so then? If we believe that every detail of Scripture is divinely inspired, we have reason to be confused when certain things do not seem to add up.

We take the position that Yeshua did not eat leavened bread during his Paschal meal, and for a very good reason. In the levitical sacrificial system, YHVH forbad the offering of leavened bread with the sacrifices on all occasions except on the Feast of Pentecost when two leavened loaves were lifted up representing Israel. Even the twelve loaves of bread on the Table of Showbread in the Tabernacle (representing Israel in a purified or sin-free state) were unleavened. Leaving is clearly a picture of sin. Yeshua, the perfect sacrificial Lamb of Elohim fulfilled the sacrificial system types perfectly. It seems unthinkable that the Lamb of Elohim, slain from the foundation of the world, who was sin-free, could have eaten leavened bread and had leavening, a picture of sin, in him when he went to the cross. For this reason, we believe Yeshua ate unleavened bread.