Leviticus 16—Natan’s Commentary Notes

Leviticus 16:1–34, Passover and the Day of Atonement compared. A cursory reading of the Scriptures seems to indicate that there exists overlapping similarities between some of the blood atonement ceremonies of Passover or Pesach and the Day of Atonement or Yom Kippur. What are the differences between the sin atonement offerings of Pesach and Yom Kippur

Perhaps realizing the fact that the Passover occurs during the spring feast day season and the Day of Atonement occurs during the fall feast day season may help to answer this question. This is because prophetically the spring feast days picture Messiah Yeshua’s first coming, while the fall feast days prophetically point to his second coming. How does this understanding shed light on the answer to this question? 

Both Pesach and Yom Kippur picture redemption through the shed blood of Yeshua, that is, the saint being delivered from bondage to sin and the rudiments of this world. Passover symbolizes the first steps a new believer takes when coming out of spiritual Egypt and accepting Yeshua, the Lamb of YHVH, as one’s Savior and Master. Yom Kippur, on the other hand, pictures the blood of the Lamb covering over the saint’ sins after his initial salvation experience and the corporate sins of the nation of Israel. 

If our understanding of the order of end time events is correct, Yom Kippur also prophetically points to the time when Yeshua will return to the earth to initiate the final regathering of the lost and scattered tribes of Israel, and to prepare to marry his bride, redeemed Israel or the Israel of Elohim (Gal 6:16), that is, the saints. Perhaps this latter understanding will help to answer why another Passover-like feast is needed. Yom Kippur does not focus so much on leaving Egypt, but rather on YHVH’s people preparing to enter the millennial kingdom under the Messiah. Those saints who will be the betrothed bride of Yeshua need to make themselves ready for Yeshua’s return by putting on spiritual robes of righteousness that are spotless and pure. Although the bride of Messiah saints are not sinners by definition, for the Bible calls them “the righteous” (1 Pet 4:18), they still sin (hopefully only occasionally; 1 John 1:8–9; Rom 7:13–25), and still need to have their sins washed away by the blood of Yeshua, even just before they meet Yeshua at his return. Yom Kippur pictures this final redemptive cleansing or preparation time of Yeshua’s bride.

Understanding the Yom Kippur Goat Rituals

Understanding and interpreting the rituals of Leviticus 16 can be perplexing and complicated task. This is because often encrypted in certain scriptural passages the deep and open-minded Bible student will find multiple levels of meaning and prophetic fulfillments. The serious biblical researcher understands this and is not put off by any seeming discrepancies between a surface or literal fulfillment of a scripture vis-à-vis its prophetic fulfillment. An example of this would be the virgin and child prophecy of Isaiah 7. There was both a historical or immediate fulfillment of this prophecy and a future one relating to the coming Messiah. 

Moreover, we must keep something else in mind when dealing with biblical passages that are difficult to understand because they contain figurative language of a prophetic nature that often employ typologies (types and shadows). By definition, a type is a person or thing that represents someone or something else. When dealing with prophetic types in Scripture, the type never perfectly mirrors that to which it is prophetically pointing. The type is merely a shadow of what is to come (Col 2:17; Heb 10:1; 8:5), and therefore it is neither a perfect representation of the reality nor its there a perfect one-to-one correlation between the two. However, there are enough similarities to deduce a correlation between the two, even as a shadow is the shape and outline of the image it represents, but it doesn’t contain all the details of it.

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How to Conduct a Communion Service the Way Yeshua Instructed

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 the Messiah (1 Cor 11:1) as well heeding John’s admonition “to walk just as [Yeshua] walked” (1 John 2:6). This applies to the important biblical ritual of communion as well. How can we celebrate communion just as Yeshua did it? How closely is your typical mainstream Christian church following Yeshua’s commandments when it conducts a communion or the Lord’s supper? We shall discover the answer below.

With regard to obeying YHVH’s commands, symbols and memorializations 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 memorializations 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, the very name of the Creator, YHVH (Yehovah), is a memorial, symbol or remembrance (Heb. zeker from zakar) of who Elohim really is (Exod 3:15). His name is a way for humans to connect with him. The same is true of each of our names. Our name is a label, a pointer, a symbol of who we are, but it’s not really us. Similarly, eating unleavened bread during the Feast of Unleavened Bread is a memorial (Heb. zikrown from zakar) of coming out of Egypt and putting sin out of one’s life (Exod 13:9). The twelve stones on the high priest’s breastplate were memorials (Heb. zikrown from zakar) of the twelve tribes of Israel (Exod 28:12). The grain offering that was made on the altar of sacrifice in the Tabernacle of Moses was a memorial (Heb. azkarah from zakar) or remembrance that prophetically pointed to Yeshua the Messiah’s death on the cross and the fact that he is the bread of life (Lev 2:2). Blowing shofars on the Day of Trumpets is a memorial (Heb. zikrown from zakar) of many things past, present and prophetically including the second coming of Yeshua and the firstfruits resurrection (Lev 23:24). In fact, the whole Tabernacle of Moses, the Levitical priesthood, the sacrificial system, the Sabbath and biblical feasts is a complex system of memorials, remembrances and symbols to point humanity to the higher, upward spiritual path, which eventually brings him to Yeshua the Messiah. This is so abundantly clear in the Bible. Why don’t more people see this? Why do so many Christians and their leaders have such an apathy, even antipathy for these things? It’s mind boggling, especially in view of the fact that these teaching aid memorial and symbols were ordained of Elohim himself!

The overarching purpose and meaning of the Hebrew word zakar and its derivatives is something that “gets men to think about something, to meditate upon something, to pay attention to something, to remember something, to mention something, to declare or proclaim something or to commemorate something” (see The TWOT on the meaning of zakar). 

Why do people need to remember something or to stop and think about something? Simply this. In the busyness of life, people forget a lot of things that they should remember, meditate on, ponder, be thankful for and learn from. The fact that people tend to forget important things is the whole reason we have national holidays, statues, gravestones, war medals, a national flag and anthem, birthdays and anniversaries, photo albums and other manmade traditions. Biblically, the same can be said of a Torah scroll, the Bible itself, the Sabbath, the biblical feasts, the cross as a symbol of something, the ritual of baptism and Passover, which had embedded in its observance the Lord’s supper (1 Cor 11:20), communion (1 Cor 10:16) or the Lord’s table (1 Cor 10:21). All of these remembrances or memorials are designed to cause us to pause and stop and to reflect on something that is beyond us (in the past or future) or above us. The memorialization of past events should cause us to better appreciate those who have gone before us and be thankful for our present blessings.  Such reflections can help us not to repeat the mistakes of past generations and at the same time learn from their wisdom. Simultaneously, things that memorialize future events (like the Sabbath and the biblical feasts) should encourage us onward and upward in our spiritual journey. They strengthen our faith and give us hope for tomorrow. Symbolic rituals like baptism and communion can help us to connect to present realities that relate to our upward spiritual walk and our relationship to Yeshua the Messiah—our Master and Savior.

What Does Communion Memorialize?

So what does the Christian sacrament of communion or the Lord’s supper memorialize? To its credit, the mainstream Christian church understands the basic meaning of communion quite well. But let’s review this basic understanding, while, at the same time, adding some Hebraic or whole Bible background information. This will hopefully help us to appreciate more fully this glorious sacrament, which, sadly, due to its frequent occurrence in many churches, can become banal ritual that is easily taken for granted.

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Free Passover Resources from Hoshana Rabbah

 

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 person 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 something we act out and participate in. This is the Hebrew way … the ancient paths! As a path is for the purpose of walking down, even so, Passover is meant to be celebrated. This is how YHVH’s people showed their love and devotion to him. Yeshua, the Jewish Messiah, reiterated this when he said, “If you love me, keep my commandments [or Torah mitzvot]” (John 14:15). 

This is what the Passover Seder is all about. We, as humans, learn by doing. We learn obedience by obeying. We learn to love by loving. We learn about heavenly and spiritual mysteries by walking out the types and shadows found in Scripture (of which Passover is but one) that point to the heavenly and spiritual domain or dimension of YHVH himself. The French have a saying: L’appétit vient en mangeant. Translated this means: Appetite comes while eating. Or we could say that the more one eats (delicious food) the more one wants. David said in Psalm 34:8, “O taste and see that YHVH is good: blessed is the man that trusts in him.” The more we walk out the commandments of our Heavenly Father, the more of his goodness we behold, the more of his blessings we receive, the more our soul finds rest, the more we want to walk out his commandments, the more we behold his goodness, and so on goes this wonderful spiritual growth-cycle.

So why do we go to the trouble, expense and time to celebrate a Passover Seder? First, it helps us to fulfill the commands YHVH gave to us to do at Passover, such as eating lamb, unleavened bread and bitter herbs; telling our children the story of the Passover; holding a “set apart convocation” and so on (Exod 12:14–20, 43–49; Lev 23:4–5; Num 9:2–3; 28:16; Deut 16:1–3). But again we ask, what is the significance and relevance to us of this celebration? 

Passover is but the first piece of a panoramic puzzle or the first thread in a rich tapestry of YHVH’s plan of redemption of mankind. Though the children of Israel kept the first Passover 3500 years ago in the land of Egypt, this ancient celebration is not only a memorial of what occurred then, but is of utmost significance to the spiritual life of the Believer today. It has future or prophetic implications, as well. Passover is the first step of a spiritual journey that, if one continues in it faithfully to the end, will lead one into the very presence of YHVH Elohim, our Heavenly Father, himself. What a journey! Let’s look at it.

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How to Prepare YOURSELF for Passover

Passover is just around the corner. It is the first step in YHVH Elohim’s plan of salvation or redemption of sinful humans to reconcile fallen man back to him. Did you ever wonder how this process really works?

There is never a better time to begin repenting of sin and getting under the blood of the Lamb of Elohim than just before Passover. As the children of Israel applied the lamb’s blood to the door posts and lintels of their house, so we must apply the sin-cleansing and Satan-defeating blood of Yeshua afresh to our lives (i.e. to our thoughts as represented by the door lintel and to our hands or actions as represented by the door posts). Cleansing of our sin occurs as we repent of our sins, and pray for and receive YHVH’s forgiveness. He will then cover our sins over or wash away our sins by Yeshua’s blood (1 John 1:9; Rev 1:5).

In Egypt at Passover time, YHVH judged all those who had failed to put the lamb’s blood on the door posts of their houses. In other words, they weren’t under the blood of the lamb, but were still under the penalty of sin, which is death (Ezek 18:4; Rom 6:23). Any unrepented of sin in our lives brings the curse of death on us. To the degree that we have sin in our lives is the degree to which the spirit of death has a legal claim on us. Now is the time to repent of sin by confessing it and seeking Elohim’s forgiveness under the blood of Yeshua and then forsaking that sin through YHVH’s grace (1 John 1:9). 

Let us now discover the miraculous process of how to overcome sin in more detail through a spiritual magnifying glass. How do we go from being a lost sinner—the walking damned or the living dead—to becoming the glorified and immortalized children of Elohim?

It works like this: When we confess and repent of our sins, Yeshua will pass over or forgive us of our past sins (Rom 3:25; Ps 103:8–12). From this point forward, it is up to us to embrace a new mindset and a new spiritual identity and reality; that is, we must reckon our old sinful man as having been crucified with Yeshua, in that we are now dead to sin, no longer slaves to sin, freed from the power of sin, and alive to Elohim in Yeshua our Lord (Rom 6:7–11). Yeshua is the one who victoriously defeated the power or sting of sin, which is death, hell and the grave at the cross and through his resurrection (1 Cor 15:56–57; Col 2:13–15). Through our faith in him and our legal identification with his death, burial and resurrection through the symbolic ritual of baptism for the remission of sine, his victory is legally applied to us by the courts of heaven, which is how he has made us more than conquerors over sin and death (Rom 8:37; 6:1–14) such that the power of sin and death will no longer have dominion over us (Rom 6:12–14).  He now gives us strength through his enabling and empowering grace to resist and overcome sin, that is, to not let sin control us any longer (Rom 6:12). He promises to give us a new, circumcised heart as he writes his laws or commandments on our hearts, so that we will be supernaturally inclined to love him by keeping his commandments (Jer 31:33; 24:7; Heb 8:10; 10:16; Ezek 36:25–27; Isa 51:7; Ps 40:8; 37:31; Deut 30:6; John 14:12 cp. Rom 7:22). What is that supernatural power that works in us to help keep us from sinning? It the Spirit of Elohim or the Comforter that Yeshua promised would come along side of us to aid us in the process of overcoming sin (John 14:16–18, 25–26; 15:26–27; 16:7–14). 

To summarize, this whole supernatural and miraculous process of being victorious over sin is activated when we first acknowledge our sin, confess our sin, repent of our sin and then place our faith in Yeshua’s death and burial. This occurs when we appropriate or reckon, by faith, our old sinful man to have been crucified with Yeshua, and then been resurrected in the newness of spiritual life with him. We now embrace the new identity that he has given us—a spiritual reality that he has imparted to us and has been legally recorded in heaven (Col 2:14)—that we are a new creation and are victorious over sin (Gal 2:20; 2 Cor 5:17), and have become Spirit-begotten children of Elohim. This whole process is summarized from beginning to end in Paul’s Epistle to the Romans chapters six through eight. The end result, if we continue in a right spiritual relationship with Yeshua the Messiah for the rest of our lives, is that our names will be recorded in Elohim’s Book of Life, and our physical bodies will be glorified—we will be given immortality—at the resurrection of the righteous dead, which occurs at the second coming of Yeshua. 

This whole process or chain of events that transforms sinful humans into glorified and immortal children of Elohim begins at Passover which symbolizes the first steps a person takes when he comes to faith in Yeshua the Messiah.

Here are some things of which to repent: 

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When Did Easter Replace Passover?

Matthew 28:1, When did the early Christians first celebrate a day commemorating the resurrection of Yeshua?

Although the resurrection of Yeshua the Messiah is a biblical and historical fact, it’s celebration (known as Easter), is neither commanded in the Scriptures, nor was it celebrated by the original disciples of Yeshua. It is purely an invention of the church, which eventually replaced Passover! Here are the facts:

In A History of Christianity (vol. 1), Kenneth Scott Latourette states that notice of Easter as a festival occurs in the middle of the second century, but that festivals commemorating the resurrection of Messiah were presumably observed by at least some Christians from much earlier times (p. 137). Church historian, Philip Schaff, also attributes the beginning of the Easter festival to the middle of the second century (History of the Christian Church, vol. 2, p. 207). He states that the Christian Passover naturally grew out of the Jewish Passover, as the Lord’s Day (Sunday) grew out of the Sabbath. “It is based on the view that Christ crucified and risen is the centre of faith. The Jewish Christians would very naturally from the beginning continue to celebrate the legal Passover, but in the light of its fulfillment by the sacrifice of Christ, and would dwell chiefly on the aspect of the crucifixion. The Gentile Christians, for whom the Jewish Passover had no meaning except through reflection on the cross, would chiefly celebrate the Lord’s resurrection as they did on every Sunday of the week.” He notes that the early Christians commemorated the entire period between the death and resurrection of Yeshua with vigils, fasting, special devotions, meetings culminating in a resurrection feast celebrating the whole work of redemption. The feast of the resurrection gradually became the most prominent aspect of the Christian Passover (Easter celebration), but the crucifixion continued to be celebrated on Good Friday” (ibid., pp. 207–208).

Christians universally kept the Passover on the biblical date of Abib (also known as Nisan) 14/15, irrespective of the day of the week until A.D. 135 according to leading Sabbath scholar Prof. Samuele Bacchiocchi quoting the fourth century Christian historian Ephiphanius (From Sabbath to Sunday, p. 81). “This conclusion,” continues Bacchiocchi, “is supported indirectly by the two earliest documents mentioning the Passover celebration, since both emphasize the commemoration of the death rather than the resurrection of Christ. The Ethiopic version of the apocryphal Epistle of the Apostles [or Didache] says, ‘and you therefore celebrate the remembrance of my death, i.e., the Passover’ (ch. 15). In the Coptic version the passage is basically the same, ‘And you remember my death. If now the Passover takes place …’ (chap. 15)’ (ibid., p. 82). 

The second document that attests to the early church’s emphasis on the death rather than the resurrection of Yeshua is the Sermon on the Passover, by Melito, Bishop of Sardis (died ca. A.D. 190). According to Bacchiocchi, Melito provides a most extensive theological interpretations of the meaning of the Passover for early Christians. “Though Melito makes a few passing references to the resurrection, it is clear from the context that these function as the epilogue of the passion drama of the Passover. The emphasis is indeed on the suffering and death of Jesus which constitute the recurring theme of the sermon and of the celebration” (ibid., p. 83).

“The resurrection,” Bacchiocchi admits, “however, did emerge in time as the dominant reason for the celebration not only of the annual Easter-Sunday, but also of the weekly Sunday. The two festivities, in fact,… came to be regarded as one basic feast commemorating at different times the same event of the resurrection.” Bacchiocchi concludes,

It would seem therefore that though the resurrection is frequently mentioned both in the New Testament and in the early patristic literature, no suggestion is given that primitive Christians commemorated the event by a weekly or yearly Sunday service. The very fact that Passover, which later become the annual commemoration of the resurrection held on Easter-Sunday, initially celebrated primarily Christ’s passion [death] and was observed on the fixed date of Nisan [Abib] 15 rather than on Sunday, makes it untenable to claim that Christ’s resurrection determined the origin of Sunday worship during the lifetime of the Apostles. (ibid. p. 84)

 

From the Walking Dead to the Glorified, Immortal Children of Elohim

 But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of Elohim, to those who believe in His name… (John 1:12)

Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us, that we should be called children of Elohim! Therefore the world does not know us, because it did not know Him. Beloved, now we are children of Elohim; and it has not yet been revealed what we shall be, but we know that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is. (1 John 3:1–2)

Passover is just around the corner. It is the first step in YHVH Elohim’s plan of salvation or redemption of sinful humans to reconcile fallen man back to him. Did you ever wonder how this process really works?

Let’s now look at this miraculous process of how to overcome sin in more detail through a spiritual magnifying glass. How do we go from being a lost sinner—the walking damned or the living dead—to becoming the glorified and immortalized children of Elohim?

It works like this: When we confess and repent of our sins, Yeshua will pass over or forgive us of our past sins (Rom 3:25); Ps 103:8–12). From this point onward, we must embrace a new mindset and a new spiritual identity and reality; that is, we must reckon our old sinful man as being crucified with Yeshua, in that we are now dead to sin, no longer slaves to sin, freed from the power of sin, and alive to Elohim in Yeshua our Lord (Rom 6:7–11). Yeshua is the one who victoriously defeated the power or sting of sin, which is death, hell and the grave at the cross and through his resurrection (1 Cor 15:56–57; Col 2:13–15). Through our faith in him and our legal identification with his death, burial and resurrection through the metaphorical ritual of baptism, his victory is legally applied to us by the courts of heaven, which is how he has made us more than conquerors over sin and death (Rom 8:37; 6:1–14) such that the power of sin and death will no longer have dominion over us (Rom 6:12–14).  He now gives us strength through his enabling and empowering grace to resist and overcome sin, that is, to not let sin control us any longer (Rom 6:12). He promises to give us a new, circumcised heart as he writes his laws or commandments on our hearts, so that we will be supernaturally inclined to love him by keeping his commandments (Jer 31:33; 24:7; Heb 8:10; 10:16; Ezek 36:25–27; Isa 51:7; Ps 40:8; 37:31; Deut 30:6; John 14:12 cp. Rom 7:22). What is that supernatural power that works in us to help keep us from sinning? It the Spirit of Elohim or the Comforter that Yeshua promised would come along side of us to aid us in the process of overcoming sin (John 14:16–18, 25–26; 15:26–27; 16:7–14). 

To summarize, this whole supernatural and miraculous process of being victorious over sin is activated when we first acknowledge our sin, confess our sin, repent of our sin and then place our faith in Yeshua’s death and burial. This occurs when we appropriate or reckon, by faith, our old sinful man to have been crucified with Yeshua, and then been resurrected in the newness of spiritual life with him. We now embrace the new identity that he has given us—a spiritual reality that he has imparted to us and has been legally recorded in heaven (Col 2:14)—that we are a new creation and are victorious over sin (Gal 2:20; 2 Cor 5:17), and have become Spirit-begotten sons of Elohim. This whole process is summarized from beginning to end in Romans chapters six through eight. The end result, if we continue in a right spiritual relationship with Yeshua the Messiah for the rest of our lives, is that our names will be recorded in Elohim’s Book of Life, and our physical bodies will be glorified—we will be given immortality—at the resurrection, which occurs at the second coming of Yeshua.

This whole process or chain of events that transforms sinful humans into glorified and immortal children of Elohim begins at Passover which symbolizes the first steps a person takes when he comes to faith in Yeshua the Messiah.