HIS LIFE FOR MY ENJOYMENT
By Pastor Kola Taiwo
New Wine Church, London
Foundation Scripture: John 10:10, Exodus 23: 14-17
Sunday 12th March 2017
John 10:10 is our central foundation scripture for this year, from which our Senior Pastor has been teaching since January. Today, I will bring a word around this theme with some more insight on this topic, as well as looking at some other related passages in scripture. John 10:10 reads: ‘The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly’.
Here is Exodus 23:14-17; “Three times you shall keep a feast to Me in the year: You shall keep the Feast of Unleavened Bread (you shall eat unleavened bread seven days, as I commanded you, at the time appointed in the month of Abib, for in it you came out of Egypt; none shall appear before Me empty); and the Feast of Harvest, the firstfruits of your labours which you have sown in the field; and the Feast of Ingathering at the end of the year, when you have gathered in the fruit of your labours from the field.”
John 10:10 speaks of the God’s eternal life, given through Christ. The book of John is centred around the theme of Divine life and the building of God’s Kingdom – the church and the new Jerusalem as highlighted in Revelations. John 10 is a continuation of the events in John 9, where a blind man is healed. Jesus approaches this blind man, with verse 6-7 describing the events that occur for his healing. ‘He spat on the ground and made clay with the saliva; and He anointed the eyes of the blind man with the clay’. And He said to him, “Go, wash in the pool of Siloam” (which is translated, Sent). So he went and washed, and came back seeing’. In the same way, Jesus is available to meet our individual and specific needs.
A whole furore begins shortly after this miracle, as this blind man is subjected to all sorts of scrutiny by the Pharisees, especially because this miracle took place on the Sabbath. Eventually, the report of the uproar reaches Jesus, and once again Jesus approaches this blind man, and encourages him to believe in God. The blind man’s belief in God, prompts Jesus to speak of his forgiveness and an awareness of God’s mercy on him.
John 10 begins with these words: ‘Most assuredly, I say to you, he who does not enter the sheepfold by the door, but climbs up some other way, the same is a thief and a robber’. Historians tell us that around the 150-200 years of Jesus’ first advent, many false prophets claimed to be the Messiah, including those who called themselves Jesus. A good example is Bar-Jesus in Acts 13. Jesus made it clear that the true sheep will not follow these false prophets. However, when he, the true shepherd, arrives the door keeper will open the door so that the sheep can be led out. Jesus’ reference to being led out here doesn’t refer to Heaven, but rather to being led out or away from the law and ordinances, which had been the main method of relating with God, up until his arrival into the world. This is how Galatians 3:19 put it: ‘Why, then, was the law given? It was given alongside the promise to show people their sins. But the law was designed to last only until the coming of the child who was promised. God gave his law through angels to Moses, who was the mediator between God and the people’ (NLT). So Jesus is the door, pasture and the means by which people come out. Just like we as Christians today are not perfect, the ‘familiarity’ of the law in those days often drew legalistic Christians back to its ‘comfort’, which Jesus addressed by reminding the disciples that ‘I am the door. If anyone enters by Me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture’ (John 10:9, See also Galatians 2:19-21).
Jesus speaks of the Gentile believers in John 10:16, saying: ‘And other sheep I have which are not of this fold; them also I must bring, and they will hear My voice; and there will be one flock and one shepherd’. This refers to us, Christians today.
Christ’s speech on this subject occurred during the days of the Feast of Dedication. John 10:22 reads: ‘It was now winter, and Jesus was in Jerusalem at the time of Hanukkah, the Festival of Dedication.’ Here is a brief definition of this festival of feast, from Wikipedia. It is a Jewish holiday commemorating the rededication of the Holy Temple (the Second Temple) in Jerusalem at the time of the Maccabean Revolt against the Seleucid Empire. Hanukkah is observed for eight nights and days, starting on the 25th day of Kislev according to the Hebrew calendar, which may occur at any time from late November to late December in the Gregorian calendar. It is also known as the Festival of Lights and the Feast of Dedication. This is however not one of the feasts that God prescribed for the nation of Israel in Exodus 23, which we will discuss briefly below, and how they relate to us today: The Feast of Unleavened Bread, the Feast of the Harvest and lastly the Feast of the Ingathering.
Firstly, the Feast of the Unleavened Bread: The feast finds its origin in Exodus 12 and 13 during the time of the Exodus from Egypt. Here is Exodus 13:3-4 which reads: ‘And Moses said to the people: “Remember this day in which you went out of Egypt, out of the house of bondage; for by strength of hand the Lord brought you out of this place. No leavened bread shall be eaten. On this day you are going out, in the month Abib.’ It is no coincidence that Jesus was crucified around the commemoration of the feast. Exodus 12 describes the intricacies of the institution of the Passover – the blood of the lamb redeemed the firstborn of each family from being slain by the plague. Today, once we have received Christ as Lord and Saviour, our substitute Christ Jesus, redeems us from the second death of eternal separation from God. We are now Unleavened Bread, once we become Christians – we are no longer sinners, but the righteousness of God in Christ Jesus. Although we are not perfect, because of the seed of Adam in each of us, yet we have a greater seed of Christ in us. The feast was prescribed to hold for seven days. As Christians, from that point of our salvation to the day we are called home, our total dependence should be on Christ – as He is the key to our righteousness.
Secondly, the feast of First fruits or Harvest: This feast was instituted as a commemoration of the gathering of the first fruit of all labour. Here is a brief definition: Among Jews the most popular name for this festival is the Feast of Weeks, or Shavuot, in Hebrew. This important feast gets its name from the fact that it starts seven full weeks, or exactly 50 days, after the Feast of Passover. Since it takes place exactly 50 days after the previous feast, this feast is also known as Pentecost. Its significance today, is the Day of Pentecost in Acts 2:1, when the Holy Spirit was released upon the Apostles in the Upper Room. Thankfully, this is an everyday occurrence in our lives, and we do not have to wait for this annual cycle anymore. The Holy Spirit, who is Christ’s Spirit, is available to us for all that we need today – guidance, direction, righteousness, health and wholeness.
Thirdly, the feast of Tabernacles or Ingathering: This feast was a call by God to the Israelites to spend time in His presence, with offerings and worship. Here is a brief definition - Sukkot has a double significance. The one mentioned in the Book of Exodus is agricultural in nature – "Feast of Ingathering at the year's end" (Exodus 32:22) – and marks the end of the harvest time and thus of the agricultural year in the Land of Israel. The more elaborate religious significance from the Book of Leviticus is that of commemorating the Exodus and the dependence of the People of Israel on the will of God. As Christians, our satisfaction and perfection is in Jesus Christ, who is also the ultimate sacrifice and perfection that our Heavenly Father delights in. The other two feasts are primarily to satisfy man, but this final feast is for ultimately for God’s glory. The feast of the Tabernacles, another name for this feast refers to God’s desire to live among His people always.
In conclusion, these feasts can be summed up in this next verse. Here is 2 Corinthians 13:14: ‘The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with you all’ (Amen).
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