DON'T BE SLOVENLY - PART 1
"'You know that if the house owner had known what night the burglar was coming, he wouldn't have stayed out late and left the place unlocked. So don't you be slovenly and careless. Just when you don't expect Him, the Son of Man will show up.'" Luke 12:39,40 (The Message).
This 'thief in the night' imagery has captured the imagination of Christian authors and fathered many a story about the coming of Jesus. But, if we don't tie the expression to its religious and cultural background, we will also be fooled into wild and woolly interpretations. This is not about sitting up all night, every night, waiting for the 'thief' to come. This is about being aware of the season and being faithful to respond to the preparation God has prescribed in His word for the season.
"Now, brothers, about times and dates, we do not need to write to you, for you know very well that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night. While people are saying, 'Peace and safety," destruction will come on them suddenly, like labour pains on a pregnant woman, and they will not escape. But you are not in darkness so that this day should surprise you like a thief. You are all sons of light." 1 Thessalonians 5:1-5a(NIV).
In this letter written to the believers in Thessalonica, Paul indicated that he had thoroughly instructed them about the return of the Lord Jesus while he was with them. False teachers had subsequently confused them by saying that Jesus had returned secretly and that they had missed Him. Paul explains how this was impossible because the coming of Jesus would fulfil 'Yom Teruah', the Feast of Trumpets, a noisy and visible affair.
In Leviticus 23, God gave instruction regarding seven feasts which were to be celebrated during the course the year; one, the Sabbath, a weekly celebration, three during the spring and three seven months later during the autumn. These 'appointed feasts' are translated, in the Hebrew, 'rehearsal feasts'. For what were they rehearsing? Since the whole Bible is the story of God's choice and preparation of His bride, and ends with a wedding, obviously the feasts would be rehearsing the process of His courtship of His people and the wedding ceremony.
Let's examine them and see how this works.
1. The Sabbath is a picture of the divine rest into which God calls His people. Jesus fulfilled this feast according the Hebrews 3,4. This not annual but weekly to show us that faith in Him sets us free from our 'labour' to satisfy God's demand for perfection and allows us to rest perpetually in the perfection of Jesus who earned it for us through His perfect life and atoning sacrifice.
2. The first of the three spring feasts, Passover, was fulfilled at Calvary. Jesus was sacrificed for us as God's spotless Passover lamb. Because of that, we have been delivered from God's judgment on sin and freed to live in the 'Promised Land' of His favour.
3. Jesus fulfilled the second spring feast, Firstfruits, when He rose from the dead. He became a 'terumah', a 'firstfruits' offering, when He was lifted up and His spirit placed into the hands of His Father. God raised Him from the dead as the guarantee that all who believe in Him will share in His resurrection. "But Christ has indeed been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep." 1 Corinthians 15:20 (NIV).
4. The Feast of Weeks or Pentecost was celebrated fifty days after the Feast of Firstfruits. Every family was to bring an offering of bread baked with yeast and given to God as a 'terumah' or firstfruits offering. Firstfruits became terumah (an offering) when it was lifted up or 'waved' before the Lord and then placed in the hands of the high priest. Jesus fulfilled this feast on the day of Pentecost when the Holy Spirit fell on the church which is the Bride of Christ!
(To be continued)
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