Monday, April 24, 2017

Hag HaMatzot

 

On the 15th of Nisan another Holiday starts, Hag HaMatzoth, the feast of Unleavened Bread:

Leviticus 23:6-8 “And on the fifteenth day of the same month is the Feast of Unleavened Bread to the Lord; seven days you must eat unleavened bread. In the first day you shall have a holy gathering; you shall do no labor in it. But you shall offer an offering made by fire to the Lord seven days; in the seventh day is a holy gathering; you shall do no labor in it.”

Because Passover is the night before and the Seder is eaten with Matzah the feast of Unleavened Bread is lumped with Passover and together is known as simply Passover. Exodus 12:18-19 “In the first month, on the fourteenth day of the month at evening (Passover), you shall eat unleavened bread, until the twenty first day of the month at evening. Seven days shall there be no leaven found in your houses; for whoever eats that which is leavened, that soul shall be cut off from the congregation of Israel.” Therefore, we eat matza not only because it symbolizes the body of Yeshua and a life without sin, but also because we do not want to be cut off - separated - from our Jewish heritage, relatives and friends.

So, according to the Bible, Passover should last for seven days with a holy convocation on the first and the seventh day, but by tradition one day has been added – because the news of the New Moon did not arrive in some parts of the land until the next day. Accordingly, the eigth day is celebrated only in Diaspora. No work is to be done on the first two and last two days; the intermediate days are called Chol HaMoed — half holidays, and they have no restriction as to work. Last day, the eight day, is Yizkor service – remembrance of the dead. Therefore, I suggest eating the bread of affliction – Matzah - for all eight days in the spirit of keeping with our Jewish friends.

Now, God gave the Jews the commandment, but He also gave them grace, because there were people who could not celebrate Passover because they were unclean or away; so, for the people that say that we leave now in the dispensation of grace, God says, not so fast - grace is synonymous to God, He showed grace from the beginning of time, Numbers 9: 10-12: “Speak to the people of Israel, saying, If any man of you or of your posterity shall be unclean because of a dead body, or is in a journey far away, he shall still keep the Passover to the Lord. The fourteenth day of the second month at evening they shall keep it, and eat it with unleavened bread and bitter herbs. They shall leave none of it to the morning, nor break any bone of it; according to all the ordinances of the Passover they shall keep it.” So, if for one reason or another you did not keep the Passover on the first month God gives you another chance on the second month. It is called Pesach Sheni, but it is only the Passover and not the Hag HaMatzoth, therefore you don’t get to eat matzah for eight days. For the rest who kept the Passover on the first month, it is customary to eat some matzah on that day. This is the only Holiday that God made this provision, giving people a second chance, signaling the importance of Passover which we, the Messianic believers, can understand because it symbolizes the substitutionary sacrifice of Yeshua on that Roman execution cross.

God gave us the commandment to keep the Passover on the 14 of Nisan, at nightfall. We now call this holiday, The Festival of Freedom, but if we think about it, the Israelis were still slaves in Egypt on that night and, even though they left the next day, they got only as far as the desert, not much freedom there. Therefore, Passover has to have a deeper meaning because from the human perspective it could only be called the Festival of "Expected" Freedom. God also commanded us to count 50 days from the day after Passover and then celebrate the Festival of Weeks, or Shavuot, in which we were supposed to bring two loaves of hametz, leavened bread. This period of counting of days is interrupted by this extraordinary event, unique, and surprisingly overlooked commandment of God: The Second Passover, or Pesach Sheini. Our God is indeed an awesome God of grace. He will not break off a battered reed and He will not put out a smoldering wick, but he will give you a second chance to believe in the Lamb of God, who was sacrificed by an agonizing death on a roman cross for you and I to receive forgiveness from our sins. On Pesach Sheini God extends His grace and again invites you to believe and receive His gift of freedom from the condemnation of sin, His gift of life and everlasting shalom.

 

Weekly Scripture Reading

 

For
Shabbat

April 22 / Aviv 26, 5777

Parashah: Shemini - "Eighth Day"

— Torah:
(Vayikra) Leviticus 9:1 — 11:47

— Haftarah:
II Samuel 6:1 — 7:17

In the evening count Omer 12


This week's Parashah speaks about obedience to God. Regardless how well intentioned are our actions, or our deeds, in serving God, they pale in comparison with obedience to Him. God, first and foremost, wants us to listen to Him and to do what He asks us to do. All our good intentions are just dirty rags – “all our righteous deeds are like a filthy garment” says the prophet Yeshayahu 64:6. “The road to perdition is paved with good intentions,” goes the saying...

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