They Did It All Wrong and God Loved It
2 Chronicles 30:18-20
The majority of the many people from Ephraim, Manasseh, Issachar, and Zebulun were ceremonially unclean, yet they ate the Passover in violation of what is prescribed in the law. For Hezekiah prayed for them, saying: “May the Lord, who is good, forgive everyone who has determined to follow God, the Lord God of his ancestors, even if he is not ceremonially clean according to the standards of the temple.”
The Lord responded favorably to Hezekiah and forgave the people.
Here is a great spot in the Old Testament showing people getting close to God–not by following the Law but by being sincere and turning to Him with all of their hearts.
Hezekiah called the whole nation to celebrate the Passover. The priests weren’t properly prepared, the people weren’t properly prepared, but since it hadn’t been done in so long, they had to start somewhere.
God accepted them and they were so delighted in the Passover they continued it for another 7 days beyond the amount of time the Law required. The chapter ends with God listening and being pleased with all they had to offer Him.
This makes me think about all of the pickiness we bring when we go to church on Sunday. Here is God, overlooking some blatant screw-ups during one of His most important holy days:
- Celebrated in the wrong month
- Celebrated by unprepared priests & Levites (should have only been priests that were clean)
- Celebrated by people that were unclean
- Celebrated by many people that weren’t even Jewish!
- Celebrated longer than God ever ordered it to be
- Celebrated in ways God never intended (with sacrifices from the king in addition to being from the people)
Next time you are at church (if you know me, you know I’m the “you” in this sentence) and you want to gripe or be critical about the way things are being done, look at this hot mess in 2 Chronicles 30. Very little went according to God’s plan, and look what happened:
The Lord responded favorably to them as their prayers reached his holy dwelling place in heaven. 2 Chronicles 30:27
You’ve Been to Sinai, Welcome to Pentecost
I’ve been reading David Stern’s Jewish New Testament Commentary and listening to Dwight A. Pryor on the subject of Acts 2 and Pentecost. WOW.
Texts: Acts 2, John 14, Exodus 20-32
The parallels between what the Jews celebrated and taught from the traditions about Pentecost and what happened on Pentecost 50 days after the Last Passover are too crazy to be made up.
Pentecost was celebrated as the time when God gave the Torah to His people through Moses at Sinai. At that time, the people begged to not have God talk to them, but for just Moses to do all of the talking. At the New Pentecost, many many people wanted God to talk to them–and He did.
Rabbinical tradition taught that God’s voice was immediately split into the 70 languages of the nations whenever He spoke from Heaven. They said that happened at the top of Zion, so that the Hebrews and all of the aliens with them would understand what God said. VERY appropriate that on the New Pentecost, God would split His voice up for the nations through men. The Holy Spirit is no longer external, it’s within mankind, so the various languages will not come out of the sky but out of God’s people–His body.
There was fire at the top of Mount Sinai, and with His own finger God wrote out and signed the Covenant.Â 50 days earlier, at the Last Passover, God signed the Covenant in His Son’s blood, and sent the fire into His people on Pentecost.
Some of these events are sort of a parallel reversal. At Mt. Sinai, the people became tired of waiting and committed idolatry while Moses was on the Mountain that they wanted to flee from. The Levites executed 3,000 of them and so became God’s priestly tribe. From then on it would be Levites only serving before God in the Tabernacle and the Temple.
At the New Pentecost, there were thousands of people around that wanted to draw near to God during the feast of the Pentecost, or the Feast of Weeks. Every adult male in ISRAEL had to come to this feast! Just like today, in the midst of any religion, there are hidden people that are genuinely seeking God with all of their might–whether they know of God sending Jesus to seek them out or not. That hidden remnant of genuine God-seekers were cut to the quick on that day, and 3,000 people were added to the Church. Those 3,000 were from all over the world, and they carried The Good News back to all of the nations in the world. They became the priests to the nations as God enlarged His tent (Take a look at Isaiah 54 to see why I’m crying at the Donut Bank as I write this).
Finally, at Mt. Sinai, God gave His people a way to live. The Torah was a way of life, not just rules, that when lived out, would make God’s people stand out in the world. The Torah would show off to the other nations of the world that God was the one true God, and people like the Queen of Sheba and others would come and see that the God of Israel was really the one true God of the Universe.
The Torah, however wonderful a guideline or framework for life that it was, could not change people from the inside out. God new that from before the beginning. Jesus said in His final talk with His disciples:
John 14:16 And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Counselor to be with you forever
John 14:17 the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you.
John 14:26 But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.
On Pentecost that came to be, and The Great Internal Reminder/Teacher took up residence in His people. He is now living inside His Church to teach, guide, help, correct, cheer, rebuke, heal, and LIVE LIFE in the people.
In light of all of this, we can see how absolutely absurd it is to teach people to live by any method or steps, to teach people a “Christian Ethic” or a “Christian Worldview” or to force a political or philosophical agenda on people. Let us RUN to the Spirit. Let us CRY OUT to God to send His Holy Spirit into us with thunder and fire and move out into the nations to change them from the inside out. Let us THROW DOWN and THROW UP any teaching that depends on man’s desire, effort, self-discipline or “conviction” and be filled with the Holy Spirit that changes people irrevocably. The 3,000 that were added that day didn’t added to have strong marriages or have financial success. They came because they knew what Peter said was true:
Peter replied, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.”
The promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off “for all whom the Lord our God will call.”
Jesus Breaking Bread with the Devil
‚ÄúWhat you are going to do, do quickly.‚Äù
These are pretty disturbing words from Jesus. Satan himself has just entered into Judas and Jesus doesn‚Äôt say, ‚ÄúCome out of him!‚Äù or any of the things He ever said to demons. There was a time and a place for casting out evil and liberating individuals, but now the Father wanted Him to liberate people in a different way. If it was hard for Jesus to keep it together as He washed their feet, it must have been 100x more difficult when Satan was now there at the table, in their midst.
Even a bigger deal than His words, Jesus‚Äô actions are amazing.
v. 30 ‚ÄúSo, after receiving the morsel of bread, he immediately went out. And it was night. ‚Äú
To share bread with someone was fellowship, communion. Communion was a precious thing. To share in a piece of bread with someone else was fellowship, acceptance, and peace. That‚Äôs why the Pharisees got so mad about Jesus BREAKING BREAD with sinners and tax collectors. It was like wearing the same gang colors, or wearing orange in Lexington.
Jesus, in all of His trust in the Father and compassion towards Judas, is not affected by the ultimate leader of all enemies sitting with Him at the table. He knows what is to be done, and He knows that it must come via betrayal by a friend.
Jesus is the Ultimate Untopper/Topper
All of the disciples are sitting around arguing about who is the best and who Jesus loves the most, all the time getting ready to eat the passover with dirty feet.
Jesus alone gets up to wash the feet, and surely nobody noticed what he was doing until He started, because no one questioned or protested until His activity was already in progress.
‚ÄúHow could they have not even noticed what He was doing if He undressed and wrapped Himself in a towel!?‚Äù you may ask. All I know is we miss a lot of what Jesus is doing when we are focused on ourselves.
Then Jesus begins to wash their feet, every one of them, and tells Peter, ‚ÄúAfterward, you will understand.‚Äù Jesus had told them that the greatest among them would be the servant of all, but they still hadn’t gotten it. They were still thinking like their contemporary rabbis‚Äìserving themselves. Life, today too, is so much about prestige and position and authority levels, that they still hadn’t gotten out of thinking about others as greater than themselves. They had to be shown how to do it.
Once you’ve washed a person’s feet, I’m speaking literally here, you have pretty much degraded yourself to them as far as you can go. Even in today’s culture. It’s a pretty humiliating thing.
While the disciples were racing to the top, Jesus, their teacher and rabbi, was racing to the bottom. And not an overly pious, condescending ‘least of these’ position, but the real, tangible, scandalous low position.
The flipping irony of this whole thing, though, is that I’m sure the disciples, just like me, would then say, ‚Äúok, that means if I want to be the greatest, I need to outserve everyone else!‚Äù and then there would be a fight over the basin and towel to wash feet. Jesus was racing for the bottom, but His eyes were on the goal of loving the Father above. He wasn’t racing against others, he was just rushing to get to the Father.
The Father draws us, and attracts us to Him, but always desires to remain the goal, the destination, the end. He does not take pleasure in activity for the activity’s sake. Peter’s clean feet didn’t change anything, and Jesus’ washing activity or exact method of washing didn’t make anything magical or mysterious happen. It was Jesus, following the Father’s lead to show the disciples that they should serve each other and love each other, that taught and transformed the start of that final Passover meal.
John 13:15-17 (ESV) I have given you an example, that you also should do just as I have done to you. Truly, truly, I say to you, a servant is not greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. If you know these things, blessed are you if you do them.