PASSOVER: A MATTER OF LIFE AND DEATH

an article based on a sermon

by Jon Bowles

given 17 March 2007

(PLAY FROM START)

One thing we find as we travel here in Wales at this time of year is that spring lambs are in the field--the very, very small lambs. Booklets or tracts that people have put out about Christ (with Jesus Christ being a kind of sacrificial lamb), often have one of these spring lambs on the cover. But this is not the kind of lamb that was sacrificed at Passover.

Passover lambs are described in Exodus chapter 12.

Exodus 12:1-5 And the [Eternal] spake unto Moses and Aaron in the land of Egypt, saying, (2) This month [called Abib, or green ears] shall be unto you the beginning of months: it shall be the first month of the year to you. (3) Speak ye unto all the congregation of Israel, saying, In the tenth day of this month they shall take to them every man a lamb, according to the house of their fathers, a lamb for an house [This is just before Passover, the Passover being on the fourteenth. So this is four days before.]: (4) And if the household be too little for the lamb, let him and his neighbour next unto his house take it according to the number of the souls; every man according to his eating shall make your count for the lamb. (5) Your lamb shall be without blemish [There's to be no blemish on it at all. It's not of the dregs of the flock. It's got to be the top quality of the flock.], a male [and that also means it is not a castrated male.] of the first year [or a year old]...

This isn't the lamb that you see skipping around in the field this time of year. It is the lamb that was born a year ago. By this time it has grown for a full year to become a good-sized animal, almost the same size as its mother. Being a ram it also is probably going to have horns.

Exodus 12:5-6 ...ye shall take it out from the sheep, or from the goats: (6) And ye shall keep it up until the fourteenth day of the same month: and the whole assembly of the congregation of Israel shall kill it in the evening [between the two evenings].

This lamb was to be "without blemish" and "of the first year" approaching really the peak of its life. And, if you think about Christ, He was in His early thirties--also filled with life, totally fit, moving into the prime of life.

If we turn over to I Peter chapter 1, we find:

I Peter 1:13-20 Wherefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and hope [looking forward] to the end for the grace that is to be brought unto you at the revelation of Jesus Christ [when He actually returns]; (14) As obedient children, not fashioning yourselves according to the former lusts in your ignorance: (15) But as he which has called you is holy, so be you holy in all manner of conversation [conduct]; (16) Because it is written, Be you holy: for I am holy. (17) And if you call on the Father, who without respect of persons judges according to every man's work, pass the time of your sojourning here in fear. (18) Forasmuch as you know that you were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, from your vain conversation [or, your aimless conduct] received by tradition from your fathers; (19) But with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot: [this lamb that is of a year old, approaching the peak of its existence] (20) Who verily was foreordained before the foundation of the world

This plan was put into effect once God could see that the world was going to go in a certain way. It was already predetermined. He said in effect, "If this is the direction that they are going to go, this is what will have to happen." It was therefore:

I Peter 1:20 ...foreordained before the foundation of the world, but was manifest in these last times for you.

This is a case of life and death. As it says in I Corinthians 11, a scripture read on the Passover evening.

I Corinthians 11:26-28 For as often as you eat this bread, and drink this cup, you do show the Lord's death till he come. (27) Wherefore whosoever shall eat this bread, and drink this cup of the Lord, unworthily [unapproved, in an unworthy manner - It's the way in which we do it.], shall be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord (28) But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of that bread, and drink of that cup.

The predominant area to examine is our repentance - in the fact that we were moving in a certain direction but have indeed determined to turn and go in the other direction. However this passage also specifies that the way in which we approach it has to be with reverence - having appropriate respect for this profound sacrifice.

I Corinthians 11:29 For he that eateth and drinketh unworthily [in an unworthy way, approaching the Passover lightly]...

I've heard of cases where people have come into Passover and there's been laughing and joking at the back of the hall. That's not the way to approach the Passover. The Passover is a solemn occasion and we must make sure, when we come in to keep it, that we approach it in the right way.

I Corinthians 11:29 For he that eateth and drinketh [in an unworthy way], eateth and drinketh damnation [or judgment] to himself, not discerning the Lord's body [not being aware, and not properly separating the Lord's body. It then talks about how, people are therefore sick.]

What I want to do is to help and encourage each of us to approach the Passover with the correct kind of reverence. And I want to do this by stressing how Passover is a matter of life and death.

There are four areas I would like to cover:

ADAM'S CHOICE

Let's first look at this subject of Adam's choice in Genesis chapter 3. After all, Mr. Armstrong would always go back to Genesis and start to build from this point forward.

Genesis 3:9 And the [Eternal] God called to Adam, and said to him, Where art thou?

Adam and Eve had taken of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Of that tree, in chapter 2, it says:

Genesis 2:17 But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.

If you look in the margin, it says "dying you shall die." That's what the Hebrew says. God effectively said to Adam that at the moment they began eating the knowledge of good and evil - taking to themselves what is right and wrong - from that time, "dying you will die." They started a process that ended in their death.

Genesis 3:9-11 And the [Eternal] God called to Adam, and said unto him, Where art thou? (10) And he said, I heard thy voice in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked; and I hid myself. (11) And he said, Who told thee that thou wast naked? Hast thou eaten of the tree, whereof I commended thee that thou shouldest not eat?

Adam must have talked to Satan as God asks "who told you?". It was Satan who had told him he was naked. Satan had started to give Adam different information. God had said everything in the garden was very good. "Behold, He made male and female." It was very good, a man and his wife. But Satan gave him other ideas. Adam started taking the knowledge of what is right and wrong to himself, and listened to Satan.

Notice in verse 19:

Genesis 3:19 In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, till thou return unto the ground; for out of it wast thou taken: for dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return.

Each of us is flesh and blood. We are dust. We are dirt. We've been taken from the dirt, and we'll return to the dirt. "The wages of sin is death." [what you receive for sinning.] "...the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord." But it's a gift that has to be given. There's no immortal soul found in scripture.

Genesis 3:24 So he drove out the man; and he placed at the east of the garden of Eden Cherubims, and a flaming sword which turned every way, to keep the way of the tree of life.

Notice how there are two elements. There is death ("dying you will die") and there is life (the tree of life), and they were kept from that tree of life. What Adam did was to decide, "I'll take the tree of the knowledge of good and evil to myself"--taking what is right and what is wrong to himself.

Notice how this is alluded to in Matthew 13:

Matthew 13:10-13 And the disciples came, and said unto him, Why speakest thou unto them in parables? (11) He answered and said unto them, Because it is given unto you to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it is not given. (12) For whosoever hath, to him shall be given, and he shall have more abundance: but whosoever hath not, from him shall be taken away even that he hath. (13) Therefore speak I to them in parables: because they seeing see not; and hearing they hear not, neither do they understand.

Christ spoke in parables to hide the meaning from the masses who were listening to Him.

Matthew 13:34-35 All these things spake Jesus unto the multitude in parables; and without a parable spake he not unto them [So He hid everything to the multitudes.]: (35) That it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet, saying, I will open my mouth in parables; I will utter things which have been kept secret from the foundation [Greek: katabole - throwing down] of the world.

That "throwing down of the world" goes right back to the time in the garden of Eden, when Adam chose which way to go - either to life or death. And the world, to this very day, doesn't know the way to life. Those of us who have the Spirit of God - giving us That Way - have an absolutely priceless thing! Adam's sin, was very clearly a matter of life and death!

In John chapter 1 we can again see aspects of this Individual who was so full of life and yet gave up that life. Notice what it says:

John 1:1-5 In the beginning was the Word [or the Logos], and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. [This was the One that became Christ.] (2) The same was in the beginning with God. (3) All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made. (4) In him was life [The very epitome of life. Before He became flesh, right in the very beginning, in Him was life.]; and the life was the light of men. (5) And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not.

The word here that is translated as "comprehended" in Greek, is literally "to grasp"--to get hold of, and also to grasp mentally. It is both.

From Adam's choice, the world could no longer "get hold of" it, literally, it was hidden from the foundation of the world. Right from that time when the Cherubims stopped the access to the tree of life, that knowledge was hidden. The way of right and wrong, which is linked to the very Spirit of God, was hidden from mankind. Mankind couldn't "get hold of" it.

From that time forward, it was only a certain--very, very few. We, who have minds opened, must understand this. This again is a matter of life and death. When we are approaching the Passover, we are approaching something which is literally life and death to us. Outside they don't have life. They might have some kind of concept of heaven and hell, but they don't have The Truth and the plan of God. We can see why we are here; why we've been created in the way that we've been created; why this suffering.

I received an email this week from somebody totally outside the Church who asked, "Why do those that are righteous suffer?" Why would God allow a righteous man to suffer? It's a good question. Many people ask that question. But, to answer it, we must look at the entire plan of God - and that knowledge is hidden from those outside.

Even trials therefore are part of this life process - the very process God has devised is to have a mind that is converted. We have a faithful Creator who is doing the converting, who is changing us from human to God. Eventually we'll come to a point where (at Christ's return and this process has reached its maturity) we'll be changed from human to a God being--a brother or sister of Christ. That is real life. But such things are hidden to the majority. The darkness couldn't grasp it -- and that was true right back to that first instance with Adam.

Exodus 25:20-22 And the cherubims shall stretch forth their wings on high, covering the mercy seat with their wings, and their faces shall look one to another; toward the mercy seat shall the faces of the cherubims be. (21) And thou shalt put the mercy seat above upon the ark; and in the ark thou shalt put the testimony that I shall give thee. (22) And there I will meet with thee, and I will commune with thee from above the mercy seat, from between the two cherubims which are upon the ark of the testimony, of all things which I will give thee in commandment unto the children of Israel.

Here we find that the place that the law came from--the place that the early books of the Bible were dictated from. There was a mercy seat on top of the ark. In the ark were the Ten Commandments. Between the Cherubim, in that space, God actually spoke the Law - giving it to Moses -- from within the Holy of Holies. This was not only where God dwelt symbolically, but also from where God dictated the wisdom in the first five books of scripture.

In Numbers 16 we have the incident of Korah. Korah was a Levite who said, "Isn't all the congregation holy?" The answer to that was, "No". They all died because the whole group was not holy as far as God was concerned. God had given holy things to the care of the priests specifically, and the Levites were then to assist the priests. Why did He do it that way? Because holy things had been hidden from the foundation of the world.

Today, when we pray, there should be no problem with "bandwidth". There should be no problem "getting through". We can get on our knees, and we can pray directly. But notice what it describes in Leviticus 16 and remember, when God is speaking He does so from above the mercy seat, between the Cherubim and that is within the Holy of Holies.

Leviticus 16:1-2 And the [Eternal] spake unto Moses after the death of the two sons of Aaron, when they offered before the [Eternal], and died; [They offered strange incense, strange fire.]; (2) And the [Eternal] said unto Moses, Speak unto Aaron thy brother, that he come not at all times into the holy place within the veil before the mercy seat.

That's where God dwells. That did not have the free access you and I have today when we get on our knees. And if you tried to -- you died! Access was severely restricted - even symbolically.

Leviticus 16:2 ...that he come not at all times into the holy place within the veil before the mercy seat, which is upon the ark: that he die not

It's a life and death issue. When we get on our knees in the mornings, and we pray directly to God the Father, and we speak right through to that mercy seat--in reality, it is a matter of life and death.

Leviticus 16:2 for I will appear in the cloud upon the mercy seat.

That's where God symbolically dwelt. Upon the mercy seat, God would actually talk to Moses. In Exodus 25 it shows this very clearly. But it was not to be approached at just any time.

Access to God at this time was not something that you could say, "Oh, I'll go and have a chat with God." So you go merrily into the temple, and you just kind of open the veil and in you walk. That's NOT the way it worked. It's a life and death issue. Anybody who dared would have been put to death. You died! If you had even gone into any of the area that the priests were only allowed into, you would have died. If the priests had wandered into the Holy of Holies, they would have died. There were strict rules, because "from the foundation of the world" it was hidden.

Once Adam took that tree, once Adam made that choice, from that point it was predetermined that Christ was going to have to die. "From the foundation of the world" He had to die. It was predetermined that there was going to be a plan, and that lamb, that perfect lamb, was going to have to be sacrificed--the Passover. As we'll go on and see, this lamb, in its prime state of life, then gave up that prime state of life to become dead--as a sacrifice.

This sacrifice is the entryway into the plan of God. Without it, there's no plan; Without it, we have no hope; Without it, we have no access to the Father. It's a life and death issue. It's something that you and I, when we approach the Passover, have got to keep in mind--that we do not come in to the Passover in a flippant way--it is a matter of life and death. It is not available to the world. It's available only to those that God chooses to call.

THE PASSOVER IN EGYPT

Exodus 4:19-23 And the [Eternal] said unto Moses in Midian, Go, return into Egypt: for all the men are dead which sought thy life. (20) And Moses took his wife and his sons, and set them upon an ass, and he returned to the land of Egypt: and Moses took the rod of God in his hand. (21) And the [Eternal] said unto Moses, When thou goest to return into Egypt, see that thou do all those wonders before Pharaoh, which I have put in thine hand: but I will harden his heart, that he shall not let the people go. (22) And thou shalt say unto Pharaoh, Thus saith the [Eternal], Israel is my son, even my firstborn: (23) And I say unto thee, Let my son go, that he may serve me: and if thou refuse to let him go, behold, I will slay thy son, even thy firstborn.

The Exodus was not something that God came up with on the fly. He did not say, "Oh, well. We'll have a little bit of blood first. And then, what can we have next? How about frogs? And then - oh well, let's try killing the firstborn and who knows, that should let them go." It didn't work that way at all. God knew exactly what He was doing. He knew from the beginning that the firstborn were going to die within Egypt.

Exodus 12:5-7 Your lamb shall be without blemish, a male of the first year [This lamb was not just one of these skipping little things that you see in the fields this time of year. This lamb was about the size of its mother. It was a big lamb. It was a ram. It was entire; it wasn't castrated]: ye shall take it out from the sheep, or from the goats: (6) And ye shall keep it up until the fourteenth day of the same month: and the whole assembly of the congregation of Israel shall kill it in the evening [Heb: between the two evenings]. (7) And they shall take of the blood, and strike it on the two side posts and on the upper door post of the houses, wherein they shall eat it.

So a selected lamb, in the prime of its life, was killed, and the blood was then taken and it was placed on the door posts. It was placed on the entranceway, on the door.

The position of the Passover really is a life and death position as far as the plan of God is concerned. Without the Passover, there is no plan!

John 10:7 Then said Jesus unto them again, Verily, verily, I say unto you, I am the door of the sheep.

This is the way the plan starts. The very door that goes into the plan of God is the sacrifice of Christ.

John 10:7-9...I am the door of the sheep. (8) All that ever came before me are thieves and robbers: but the sheep did not hear them. (9) I am the door: by me if any man enter in, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out, and find pasture.

Before Christ, the law came from the mercy seat, but you didn't have access to it. But with this sacrifice in place, we are granted access to the Father. For the first time there is access to the mercy seat. This is even why you and I have open minds that can understand these words.

John 10:10 The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly [that life that they are going to have, is also an abundant life].

It's a life and death issue. And the doorway: go back to Exodus 12 again, where it says:

Exodus 12:7 And they shall take of the blood, and strike it on the two side posts and on the upper door post of the houses, wherein they shall eat it.

The doorway was where they placed the blood; and it's the doorway, it's the entranceway, into the very holy days that we have. Other interesting points when you start thinking about this life and death situation as far as the Passover in Egypt is concerned, notice in verse 12:

Exodus 12:12 For I will pass through the land of Egypt this night, and will smite all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, both man and beast; and against all the gods of Egypt I will execute judgment: I am the [Eternal].

The ones that died were the firstborn. So who was protected by that blood? Who was it that was protected in that house by the blood on the doorposts? It was the firstborn. The other ones wouldn't have died, but the firstborn would. It's the firstborn that are protected by that blood.

The analogy is very, very clear. We are the firstborn. We are protected by that blood on the doorway that leads straight into the very plan of God. It's the thing that allows us to have access to the Father. That access to the Father also gives us access to the Plan and our part within that Plan. It's a matter of life and death; and when we approach the Passover this year, let us remember this! Realise that this symbolism is there for a reason -- so we approach it reverently. We approach it as a matter of life and death.

Notice another thing in this passage:

Exodus 12:12 For I will pass through the land of Egypt this night, and will smite all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, both man and beast; and against all the gods of Egypt I will execute judgment: I am the [Eternal].

Now certainly, He executed "against the literal gods of Egypt." Many of the plagues were against specific gods. But the word "gods" here is elohim. It means "mighty ones." The mighty ones within Egypt would also have included the firstborn. So it is not just the gods of Egypt. It is also the human mighty ones of Egypt as well. This can be clearly seen within the context, as it says:

Exodus 12:12-14 ...both man and beast; and against all the gods [the elohim] of Egypt I will execute judgment: I am the [Eternal]. (13) And the blood shall be to you for a token [a mark] upon the houses where ye are: and when I see the blood, I will pass over you, and the plague shall not be upon you to destroy you, when I smite the land of Egypt. (14) And this day shall be unto you for a memorial; and ye shall keep it a feast to the [Eternal] throughout your generations; ye shall keep it a feast by an ordinance [or by a statute] forever.

This ordinance of the Passover is also a memorial. The firstborn were going to die if they hadn't got that blood, which was over the doorway. For us, that doorway--as Christ "the door" to the flock--leads to the very plan of God and gives us access to that plan and to our part within it. Notice in verse 21:

Exodus 12:21-23 Then Moses called for all the elders of Israel, and said unto them, Draw out and take you a lamb according to your families, and kill the passover. (22) And ye shall take a bunch of hyssop, and dip it in the blood that is in the basin, and strike the lintel and the two side posts with the blood that is in the basin; and none of you shall go out at the door of his house until the morning. (23) For the [Eternal] will pass through to smite the Egyptians; and when he seeth the blood upon the lintel, and on the two side posts, the [Eternal] will pass over the door, and will not suffer the destroyer to come in unto your houses to smite you.

And down in verse 29:

Exodus 12:29-30 And it came to pass, that at midnight the [Eternal] smote all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, from the firstborn of Pharaoh that sat on his throne unto the firstborn of the captive that was in the dungeon; and all the firstborn of cattle. (30) And Pharaoh rose up in the night, he, and all his servants, and all the Egyptians; and there was a great cry in Egypt; for there was not a house where there was not one dead.

This was a life and death situation. And so is the returning Christ--the Christ who is not coming as He did when "a bruised reed He wouldn't break and smoking flax He wouldn't quench"--this returning Christ is going to come as the Messiah. He sits at the right hand of the Father until He makes His enemies His footstool (verse 1), and He will return in "the rod of Your strength," (verse 2). But in verse 5:

Psalm 110:5-6 The Lord at thy right hand shall strike through kings in the day of his wrath. [The firstborn, the leaders within the nations, will be destroyed. This is at the time of Christ's Second Coming.] (6) He shall judge among the heathen [the nations], he shall fill the places with the dead bodies; he shall wound the heads [the firstborn] over many countries.

So what is prophesied is very similar to what happened in ancient Egypt. Notice Revelation 13:

Revelation 13:6 And he opened his mouth in blasphemy against God, to blaspheme his name, and his tabernacle, and them that dwell in heaven.

This inset chapter of Revelation 13 is describing the beast, this system, which started with Babylon and goes right through to the end.

Revelation 13:7-8 And it was given unto him to make war with the saints, and to overcome them: and power was given him over all kindreds, and tongues, and nations. (8) And all that dwell upon the earth shall worship him, whose names are not written in the book of life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world.

The ones that are going to be different, who have a different reaction to this beast, are those that are in the Book of Life; and the Book of Life belongs to this Lamb that is slain from the very foundation of the world.

Revelation 13:9-10 If any man have an ear, let him hear. (10) He that leadeth into captivity shall go into captivity: he that killeth with the sword must be killed with the sword. Here is the patience and the faith of the saints.

Be aware of this. Keep it in mind. Don't forget it as we move into the times ahead. Understand that this was all part of the plan that had to start from the very foundation of the world, when Adam made his choice. The Passover in Egypt gives us an example of the plagues of Egypt. We can see the way the firstborn were destroyed, and the firstborn were protected. This is a type of the future firstborn, the firstfruits, protected from the endtime plagues that destroy the firstborn, the gods, the mighty, in Babylon.

In Isaiah chapter 42, it talks about Christ when He came the first time.

Isaiah 42:1-3 Behold my servant, whom I uphold; mine elect, in whom my soul delighteth; I have put my spirit upon him: he shall bring forth judgment to the Gentiles. (2) He shall not cry, nor lift up, nor cause his voice to be heard in the street. [He would not go out and try to convert everybody. It wasn't the time.] (3) A bruised reed shall he not break [If something was going wrong in society, it wasn't for Him to go ahead and put it right.], and the smoking flax shall he not quench: he shall bring forth judgment unto truth.

That was what He was going to concentrate on: judgment and truth, and getting the spirit of the law, as it says in verse 21:

Isaiah 42:21 The [Eternal] is well pleased for his righteousness' sake; he will magnify the law, and make it honorable.

He did that. That was His focus. But in verse 4 it says:

Isaiah 42:4 He shall not fail nor be discouraged, till he have set judgment in the earth: and the isles shall wait for his law.

This is talking long term! Christ eventually will indeed bring truth and judgment to the isles, to the farthest reaches of His Kingdom.

Isaiah 42:5-8 Thus saith God the [Eternal], he that created the heavens, and stretched them out; he that spread forth the earth, and that which cometh out of it; he that giveth breath unto the people upon it, and spirit to them that walk therein: (6) I the [Eternal] have called thee in righteousness, and will hold thine hand, and will keep thee, and give thee for a covenant of the people, for a light of the Gentiles;. (7) To open the blind eyes, to bring out the prisoners from the prison, and them that sit in darkness out of the prison house. (8) I am the [Eternal]: that is my name: and my glory will I not give to another, neither my praise to graven images.

What does the world place its hope in? Silicon? Gold? Metal? Plutonium? All the material things, all of the material wealth, all of the material armaments, all of the material medical practices and medical techniques, these are where today's world places the emphasis.

Isaiah 42:8 I am the [Eternal]: that is my name: and my glory will I not give to another, neither my praise to graven images.

If we look at the Passover in Egypt, and we see how the gods of Egypt were summarily destroyed: It includes the firstborn, yes. It includes the princes, yes. But it also included the gods. If you actually look at each of the plagues, it was the gods that were destroyed. So too, when we are looking at the present situation within the world, we will see a similar approach. We can see in Psalm 110 that He will strike through kings, that He'll wound the heads over many countries, but these gods will go as well. As it says here in verse 11:

Isaiah 42:11-13 Let the wilderness and the cities thereof lift up their voice, the villages that Kedar [or the Bedouins] doth inhabit: let the inhabitants of the rock [Petra] sing [This is another indication that Petra may be the place of safety.], let them shout from the top of the mountains. (12) Let them give glory unto the [Eternal], and declare his praise in the islands. (13) The [Eternal] shall go forth as a mighty man, he shall stir up jealousy like a man of war: he shall cry, yea, roar; he shall prevail against his enemies.

This is a different Christ. The Christ we read of in the beginning of the chapter, where "a bruised reed He will not break" and "smoking flax He will not quench"--that was the first time. That's the example that we then follow in our physical life. We are not here to save the world now. We are not here to put all the wrongs right. We are here to qualify. We are here to be converted by the hand of God, as a faithful Creator. To be made in the same image as our Elder Brother, that's what we are here to do. But this second time He will "stir up jealousy like a man of war, cry and roar, prevail against His enemies."

Isaiah 42:14-16 I have long time holden my peace [Sit here at My right hand until I make Your enemies Your footstool.]; I have been still, and refrained myself: now will I cry like a travailing woman: I will destroy and devour at once. (15) I will make waste mountains and hills, and dry up all their herbs [their food, basically]; and I will make the rivers islands, and I will dry up the pools. (16) And I will bring the blind by a way that they knew not; I will lead them in paths that they have not known: I will make darkness light before them, and crooked things straight. These things will I do unto them, and not forsake them.

Christ will intervene, and when He does, He will sort the problem out. That's the second time; That's the Second Coming; That's the Christ that will come. And it is very similar to the Passover in Egypt. It's a matter of life and death. The Christ the first time dies for mankind. That is then the doorway that leads to the rest of the plan. It allows the rest of the plan to take place. It allows these latter verses of Isaiah 42 to fit in within the earlier verses. One leads to another.

He's not going to give His glory to another. He's not going to allow graven images. He's not going to allow silicon, or great armaments, or medical techniques, to take credit as the things that save our nations. This is why I say, be aware of this. Be aware of the mind of God. Be aware of the way He dealt with Egypt. And be aware that, when we are looking at the demise of Britain and America (which will come), it is likely to hit areas like the medical profession. It is likely to hit areas like our armaments and our technology. These areas that we erect as gods, worship as gods, are the areas that are likely to be destroyed, in a very similar way to the Passover events in Egypt.

When we are approaching the Passover, realize it is our place in this process. It's our place in this life and death process. It's not just the Passover of Egypt years and years ago. That was merely a "type" of what we are moving into today - when similar plagues will occur on the modern nations.

CHRIST, OUR PASSOVER

In I John 1 it talks of Jesus Christ prior to His human birth. And the passage deals with a matter of life and death. It mentions His original life -- before His human birth -- as the subject is about giving us the same kind of life. But it also has to do with the death of that Individual--the Christ, who is our Passover.

I John 1:1 That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled, of the Word of life;

Here is the apostle John just contemplating. Remember, he was described as the disciple that Jesus loved, and here he just contemplates who it was he had been with during Christ's ministry. This individual was a God Being. He was one of the very members of the God Family.

I John 1:1-2 ...which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled, of the Word of life; (2) (For the life was manifested, and we have seen it, and bear witness, and show unto you that eternal life, which was with the Father, and was manifested unto us;)

We saw this Being who existed, pre-existed, from eternity. What kind of Being is that? Yet He became flesh. How do you get a Being pre-existing from eternity and then becoming flesh?

I John 1:3-4 That which we have seen and heard declare we unto you, that ye also may have fellowship with us: and truly our fellowship is with the Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ. (4) And these things write we unto you, that your joy may be full.

When you just begin to grasp this, these life and death things, it says then "that your joy may be full."

I John 1:5-7 This then is the message which we have heard of him, and declare unto you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all. (6) If we say that we have fellowship with him, and walk in darkness, we lie, and do not the truth: (7) But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin.

When we come into the Passover and approach it reverently, we are realizing that this Individual that died had this pre-existence. He had immortal life. It wasn't just life that we've got now, which is chemical. It was immortal life. It was a life that was inherent within Him--He could go wherever He wished, do whatever He wanted. That was the type of life He had. It was REAL LIFE prior to His human birth.

Turn back to Philippians chapter 2. As we approach the Passover we should approach it reverently because it is this life and death aspect of the ordinance. We are considering a Being that voluntarily shed that type of life.

Philippians 2:5-6 Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: (6) Who, being in the form of God...

This wasn't just a human being. This was God in the flesh, Immanuel. It wasn't just a lamb, a lamb approaching the peak of life. It wasn't even just a human being that happened to be approaching his peak of life. This was God in the flesh! We are approaching the Passover as the death of God in the flesh.

Philippians 2:6-8 Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: (7) But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant [a slave], and was made in the likeness of men [He became flesh. He became just an ordinary human being tucked away down in Palestine somewhere, in the area of Nazareth.]: (8) And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross [stake].

"Even the death of the stake," the most ignominious death imaginable! Not only at that time, but just about any time, it's an ignominious death that He suffered. This was this Being pre-existing from eternity. Yet He became flesh. How do we get our minds around that? But you see, when we approach the Passover, that is what we are approaching. That's why I say this is a matter of life and death. We've absolutely must approach it reverently.

We are commanded to keep the Passover. But we also must keep it in the right way. We've got to keep it in a worthy manner. We've got to approach it with the kind of sobriety that is necessary.

It's a life and death subject, Christ our Passover. He discarded that life to die for us. He found Himself in this form, as a human being, and went through all that had been predetermined "from the foundation of the world." He knew, from when Adam took that tree, took that way, and made the diversion, that He was going to have to sort the problem out - that He was going to have to be sacrificed. From the beginning of what we see as this present society, this present world, that had to be done.

I Peter 2:21 For even hereunto were ye called: because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow his steps:

This is one of the scriptures I quoted to the minister that asked the question about why the righteous suffer. It is a case that Christ left us an example that we also suffer--following in His steps. God uses suffering as trials to see whether we'll actually behave in the same way as Christ behaved. We know that in the future we're going to have power. Christ knew that in the future He would have power. We just read that over in Isaiah. But as a human being, He put up with things. He put Himself under the Father. It says:

I Peter 2:21-23 ...leaving us an example, that you should follow his steps. (22) Who did no sin, neither was guile found in his mouth: (23) Who, when he was reviled, reviled not again...

Do we revile again? Too often we do, if we are offended; and so often we are offended. Yet that's not the example that we are given.

1 Peter 2:23 ...when he suffered, he threatened not; but committed himself [He committed His cause.] to him that judgeth righteously [as an example for us].

That's talking about a Being - pre-existent from eternity - who became flesh - and behaved in a certain way. And it says:

I Peter 2:24-25 Who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by whose stripes ye were healed. (25) For ye were as sheep going astray: but are now returned unto the Shepherd and Bishop [Overseer] of your souls.

We must understand that The One who guided the process with Christ, is also guiding the process in giving us the kind of life we need at this present time.

John 17:16-21 They are not of the world [talking of the Church], even as I am not of the world. (17) Sanctify them [set them apart] through thy truth: thy word is truth. (18) As thou hast sent me into the world, even so have I also sent them into the world. (19) And for their sakes I sanctify myself, that they also might be sanctified through the truth. (20) Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word: (21) That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me.

This passage is almost the last thing Christ said as a human in a prayer that His disciples were witnessing. This was just before He went out to the Garden of Gethsemane and prayed privately. It says:

John 17:22 And the glory which thou gavest me I have given them; that they may be one, even as we are one:

Looking forward into the future, "the glory which you gave me, I have given them." That's the aim. When we approach the Passover, we are looking at it as the starting point of the very plan of God. This is the symbolism. This is the door through which we go that starts the entire process, that allows this process to take place.

John 17:22-24 ...that they may be one, even as we are one. (23) I in them, and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one [in one Godhead]; and that the world may know that thou hast sent me, and hast loved them, as thou hast loved me. (24) Father, I will that they also, whom thou hast given me, be with me where I am; that they may behold my glory, which thou hast given me: for thou lovedst me before the foundation of the world.

Before this world that we find at the present time, before this "throwing down" of all the things that happened back in the time of Adam, there was this love between Christ and the Father. This Individual then becomes our Passover. When we approach the Passover and actually take those emblems, this is what we are to be thinking of. This is the kind of thing that needs to be going through our minds. This is the sobriety that needs to be there, that we approach it in the right way, because it is a matter of life and death.

John 17:25-26 O righteous Father, the world hath not known thee: but I have known thee, and these have known that thou hast sent me. (26) And I have declared unto them thy name, and will declare it: that the love wherewith thou hast loved me [This love that You had before the foundation of the world--all the way through.] may be in them, and I in them.

THE PASSOVER TODAY

Be aware that it is only the group that Christ was talking about in John 17, that are all one, that are going to be part of that one Family at this present time; that group called by the Father. ("No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him." (John 6:44) ) It's that group that partakes of the Passover.

In that same chapter - John 6 - there's also a passage that Mr. Armstrong included within the Passover service. But be aware that it is the eating of the bread and it is the drinking of the wine that is important.

John 6:53 Then Jesus said unto them, Verily ,verily, I say unto you, Except [unless] ye eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink his blood [It's the eating and the drinking. It's the partaking of it.], ye have no life in you.

When Adam sinned initially, that cut off access to the tree of life. All humanity was cut off from access to the tree of life. From that time God spoke from the mercy seat. But the priest was only able to go before this place once a year on the Day of Atonement. Korah, who tried to usurp the position of the priest, was executed. If the priest had gone in there at any other time of the year, he would have been executed. There was no life within that. There was no eternal life.

Yet here are these individuals, partaking these emblems, with access to that kind of life. They have access to get on their knees and pray before the very mercy seat (the true mercy seat, of our living Father), which we should be doing each morning. We can actually get on our knees and talk to Him. Why? Because our sins have been wiped out, the access is then made available. Yet, if we don't eat the flesh of the Son of man and drink His blood, we don't have LIFE in us. We are just the same as anybody else out in the world if we do not partake of the Passover. So important is this that if we are on a journey, we will then take the Passover a month later. So important is it that we MUST partake of the Passover.

John 6:54 Whoso eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, hath eternal life; and I will raise him up at the last day

The last day of this age. And it was predetermined at the throwing down of this age, the foundation of this age, that He had to die and this process had to begin.

John 6:55 For my flesh is meat [food] indeed, and my blood is drink indeed. (56) He that eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, dwelleth in me, and I in him.

This partaking of the Passover is essential. It is the only thing that allows us to have life. It allows us the ability not only to gain access to the Father and therefore have this relationship with God the Father, but it also allows us to have access to this Word, which came from the mercy seat. (The very first few chapters came from between the Cherubim.)

James 4:13-14 Go to now, ye that say, To day or to morrow we will go into such a city, and continue there a year, and buy and sell, and get gain: (14) Whereas ye know not what shall be on the morrow. For what is your life?...

What is our life? What does it consist of? Remember, it says, "for dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return." We are just flesh and blood. We are human.

James 4:14 ...It is even a vapour, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away.

When we think back to when we were little can we imagine ourselves being in this particular position where we are now? Yet from where we are now, going forward, we're going to die. What is our life? It is a vapor. It's here; it's gone; it's disappeared; it's over. It's a very, very transitory thing.

Yet we are talking about a Being that had real life. When we approach the Passover, here is this essential part. It's a matter of life and death. It is essential that we eat of that bread and that we drink of that wine (that blood), because that is the only thing that really begins the process that will end in eternal life. It is part of that process. It is the door that goes into the very Holy Days themselves.

Ephesians 1:3-4 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ [giving us a heavenly perspective in Christ.]: (4) According as he has chosen us in him before the foundation of the world

This plan was in the mind of God before Adam made his choice. Before that occurred, He said, "Look, if Adam is going to make a choice, going in this direction (We allow Satan access to him and he chooses to go this way, which is the most likely.), then what are We going to do?" It says:

Ephesians 1:4 According as he has chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love.

It begins the process that allows us to become converted from being human to being God and being part of the very firstfruits, the firstborn, in the very Family of God.

Ephesians 1:5-7 Having predestinated us unto the adoption [sonship] of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will. (6) To the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he has made us accepted [acceptable] in the beloved. (7) In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace.

These things were foreordained. They were foreordained way back, and we are part of a process that has been foreordained. When we go into that Passover, when we actually partake of those emblems, it is something that God had way back--right at the very beginning, right when Adam made his choice.

If you go into chapter 2, notice where it's talking about the people at Ephesus. It says:

Ephesians 2:10-12 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them. (11) Wherefore remember, that ye being in time past Gentiles in the flesh, who are called Uncircumcision by that which is called the Circumcision in the flesh made by hands; (12) That at that time ye were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world.

That really is our position as well. Without the truth, what would we have? We'd be just like everybody else. There would be no life. "Dust you are." We'd live our life, come to the end and go back to dust again. That is it!

Now, there is a resurrection, but the world outside doesn't understand the resurrection. Even when they think of heaven and hell, they only think of a very nebulous concept. But here it says:

Ephesians 2:12-13 ...having no hope, and without God in the world. (13 ) But now in Christ Jesus ye who sometimes were far off are made nigh [near] by the blood of Christ.

Turn over to Hebrews. What we have today, because of the access that Christ has made possible for us, is a "spiritual broadband connection"! We can get on our knees in the morning, and be instantly connected - right through to the very mercy seat itself.

The priests didn't have that. The high priest was only allowed to go in once a year, on the Day of Atonement, and he had to go through many rituals in order to do that; and it was only a symbolic access anyway. Yet we are able to get on our knees every single morning, and speak to God Himself, and keep that conversation and contact with Him right through each day.

But without the Passover, without understanding the sacrifice and the life and death nature of that sacrifice, we wouldn't have that. That would not be possible. We couldn't go before God and say, "Look, forgive my sins." Because, there's no sacrifice. But here in Hebrews chapter 10, verse 19, it says:

Hebrews 10:19 Having therefore, brethren, boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus.

That's what we've been given access to: a "spiritual broadband connection" through to the very mercy seat, above the mercy seat between the Cherubim, the very source of this Book, the understanding of this Book. It says here:

Hebrews 10:20 By a new and living way...

A living way! When we approach the Passover it is a matter of life and death. If we don't take it or if we do not take it properly, there is no life in us. We are just a human being, just the same as everybody else. That door starts the process. It is that repentance; It is that turning; It is the illumination that comes; It is the fact that "No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him." (John 6:44) And it says:

Hebrews 10:20-23 By a new and living way, which he hath consecrated for us, through the veil, that is to say, his flesh [The spear went in, the flesh opened, and the blood came out. That is where the blood came from.]; (21) And having an high priest over the house of God; (22) Let us draw near with true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and our bodies washed with pure water. (23) Let us hold fast the profession of our faith without wavering; (for he is faithful that promised).

He is a faithful Creator. From that point (that point in which you have the Passover and the symbol of the Passover, the forgiveness of sin), it then is the door that leads to the rest of the plan.

Isaiah 53 was the scripture that was being read by the eunuch when Philip saw him in the carriage and said, "Do you understand what you're reading?" and then went on to explain what was being read. Notice what this eunuch was reading, what this eunuch really couldn't understand. Yet you and I can read it, and can understand how it ties directly in with the Passover.

Isaiah 53:1-5 Who hath believed our report? and to whom is the arm of the [Eternal] revealed? (2) For he shall grow up before him as a tender plant, and as a root out of a dry ground: he hath no form nor comeliness; and when we shall see him, there is no beauty that we should desire him. (3) He is despised and rejected of men [Remember who this is. This is the One with pre-existing life. There is no beginning.]; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were our faces from him; he was despised, and we esteemed him not. (4) Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted. (5) But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed.

It is totally for forgiveness of sin--physical and spiritual. That's what the Passover is about. It is this life and death aspect of it. When we approach it, we approach it reverently because of this. And it says:

Isaiah 53:6 All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the [Eternal] hath laid on him the iniquity [every sin] of us all .

When we get on our knees and ask for sins to be forgiven, it's because we've gone to our own ways. Every one of us does it.

Isaiah 53:7 He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth: he is brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so he openeth not his mouth.

A bruised reed He would not break, smoking flax He would not quench. If you shear a sheep,--you grab it, put it on its rump with its legs out front--and it goes silent. It just freezes. And goes silent. "...as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so he opened not his mouth."

Isaiah 53:8-9 He was taken from prison and from judgment: and who shall declare his generation? for he was cut off out of the land of the living: for the transgression of my people was he stricken. (9) And he made his grave with the wicked, and with the rich in his death; because he had done no violence, neither was any deceit in his mouth.

As we saw in 1 Peter, that's the way He was. That's the way He handled it. Think about who this Individual is. He's the One of whom it is said in Psalm 110, "Sit here at My right hand until Your enemies are Your footstool" and then go through and take out "the heads of the nations." "Destroy the firstborn!" The last plagues will be poured out before Him.

Isaiah 53:10-12 Yet it pleased the [Eternal] to bruise him; he hath put him to grief [or "made him sick" in the Amplified]: When thou shall make his soul an offering for sin, he shall see his seed, he shall prolong his days, and the pleasure of the [Eternal] shall prosper his hand. [In other words, He will eventually see the result.] (11) He shall see of the travail of his soul, and shall be satisfied: by his knowledge shall my righteous servant justify many; for he shall bear their iniquities. (12) Therefore will I divide him a portion with the great, and he shall divide the spoil with the strong; because he hath poured out his soul to death [This door that begins the very process into the holy days of God.]: and he was numbered with the transgressors; and he bare the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors.

The Passover is all to do with that death of Christ - celebrated as a memorial each year. So when we come into the Passover this year, let's make sure that we do so with reverence and that we really approach it the way it is--because it truly is a matter of life and death.

transcribed in article form by KA. Edited by JB