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Parallel Temple Services
Lesson 36
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If he [Jesus] were on Earth, he would not be a priest, for there are already men who offer the gifts prescribed by the law. They serve at a sanctuary that is a copy and shadow of what is in heaven. This is why Moses was warned when he was about to build the tabernacle: “See to it that you make everything according to the pattern shown you on the mountain.

  -    Hebrews 8:4,5

(Insertion mine)

Shortly after the Exodus, God commanded Israel to observe six religious services each year that are parallels of six processes within the Plan of Salvation. After the time of King David, males were required to attend three of these religious services in Jerusalem. These three feasts were associated with three crop harvests. (Exodus 23:14-17) God designed these earthy events so that participants would consider the real events that would take place in Heaven. The six services were:

1. The Feast of Passover*

2. The Feast of Unleavened Bread

3. The Feast of Weeks or "Pentecost"*

4. The Feast of Trumpets

5. The Day of Atonement

6. The Feast of Ingathering or “Tabernacles”*

7. Attendance was required in Jerusalem.

The first three services took place in the spring and the last took place in the fall. The timing of these services was very specific.

End Time Parallels

As we examine these six services, we will focus on how they shadow key events that transpire within the Plan of Salvation. When God implemented these six services, He already knew how He was going to bring the drama of sin to an end. So, the story of Israel’s miraculous deliverance from slavery in Egypt contains several important parallels about the saints being delivered from the bondage of sin. Think about this. God knows the end from the beginning. He did marvelous things long ago that prove to be awesome parallels of coming events! With this thought in mind, let us consider the story of the night the Lord passed over Egypt.

The Lord said to Moses, “Tell the whole community of Israel that on the tenth day of this month each man is to take a lamb for his family, one for each household. If any household is too small for a whole lamb, they must share one with their nearest neighbor, having taken into account the number of people there are. You are to determine the amount of lamb needed in accordance with what each person will eat. The animals you choose must be year-old males without defect, and you may take them from the sheep or the goats. Take care of them until the fourteenth day of the month, when all the people of the community of Israel must slaughter them at twilight. Then they are to take some of the blood and put it on the sides and tops of the doorframes of the house where they eat the lambs. That same night they are to eat the meat roasted over the fire, along with bitter herbs, and bread made without yeast. Do not eat the meat raw or cooked in water, but roast it over the fire-head, legs and inner parts. Do not leave any of it till morning; if some is left till morning, you must burn it. This is how you are to eat it: with your cloak tucked into your belt, your sandals on your feet and your staff in your hand. Eat it in haste; it is the Lord’s Passover. On that same night I will pass through Egypt and strike down every firstborn-both men and animals-and I will bring judgment on all the gods of Egypt. I am the Lord. The blood will be a sign for you on the houses where you are; and when I see the blood, I will pass over you. No destructive plague will touch you when I strike Egypt.” (Exodus 12:3-13)

The Rest of the Story

“The Israelites did just what the Lord commanded Moses and Aaron. At midnight the Lord struck down all the firstborn in Egypt, from the firstborn of Pharaoh, who sat on the throne, to the firstborn of the prisoner, who was in the dungeon, and the firstborn of all the livestock as well. Pharaoh and all his officials and all the Egyptians got up during the night, and there was loud wailing in Egypt, for there was not a house without someone dead. During the night Pharaoh summoned Moses and Aaron and said, ‘Up! Leave my people, you and the Israelites! Go, worship the Lord as you have requested. Take your flocks and herds, as you have said, and go. And also bless me.’ The Egyptians urged the people to hurry and leave the country. ‘For otherwise,’ they said, ‘we will all die!’” (Exodus 12:28-33)

The Passover described in Exodus 12 occurred in 1437 B.C. For centuries the Jews have observed the Feast of Passover to commemorate their deliverance from Egypt. However, the Feast of Passover is more inclusive than that. It is a parallel of what God plans to do at the end of time. Consider these seven parallels:

1. First Passover – God’s people were miraculously delivered from slavery.

End-time Parallel (ETP) – Gods people will be sealed and then physically delivered from the bondage of mortality.

2. First Passover – Everyone in Egypt was notified that the firstborn (man and beast) had been placed under the curse of death. This announcement produced two groups of people: believers and unbelievers. Believers put blood on their doorposts.

ETP – The inhabitants of the world will be notified they are under the curse of death. There will be two groups of people: believers and unbelievers. The believers accept Christ’s atonement and will obey the message that the 144,000 will proclaim.

3.   First Passover – God kept His covenant with Abraham and took Abraham’s Descendants to the “Promised Land.”

ETP – Jesus will keep His promise and return to Earth at the appointed time. He will take the saints to the “Promised Land,” that is, the Earth made new.

4. First Passover – There was a Sabbath rest test in Egypt and persecution before the Exodus.

ETP – There will be a Sabbath rest test and persecution for the inhabitants of Earth before the great Exodus of the saints at the Second Coming.

5. First Passover – God “passed over” every house in Egypt and He checked the doorposts of every house to see who believed His word.

ETP – God will “pass over” every human being and save each person who believes His word.

6. First Passover – God sent ten plagues upon a defiant Egypt.

ETP – God will send 14 plagues upon a defiant Earth during the Great Tribulation (seven first plagues called seven trumpets and seven last plagues called seven bowls).

7. First Passover – God destroyed Pharaoh and his army with water.

ETP – God will destroy the Antichrist and his armies with fire.

The Passover is an end-time parallel of God’s judgments of man. The judgment of mankind is a topic of utmost importance and yet, few people know anything about it. The Bible says, “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive what is due him for the things done in the body, whether good or bad.” (2 Corinthians 5:10)  For now, simply remember that the observance of a Passover feast was far more significant than merely celebrating an escape from Pharaoh and Egypt. God not only sees the past, but also knows where He is going and wants His children to know His plans!

The Feast of Unleavened Bread

“Celebrate the Feast of Unleavened Bread, because it was on this very day that I brought your divisions out of Egypt. Celebrate this day as a lasting ordinance for the generations to come. In the first month you are to eat bread made without yeast, from the evening of the fourteenth day until the evening of the twenty-first day. For seven days no yeast is to be found in your houses. And whosoever eats anything with yeast in it must be cut off from the community of Israel, whether he is alien or native-born. Eat nothing made of yeast. Wherever you live, you must eat unleavened bread.” (Exodus 12:17-20)

The observance of Passover and the Feast of Unleavened Bread are inseparably joined. The Passover was celebrated on the 15th day of the first month and the Feast of Unleavened Bread began on the same day. The term “feast” may be misleading since God required Israel to search their homes for yeast and then dispose of it. They were to eat yeast-free bread for seven days. The Hebrews understood that yeast produces fermentation. Consequently, a bit of yeast will “infect” the batter. (1 Corinthians 5:6-8) On the other hand, unleavened bread has no yeast. God aligned the Feast of Passover and the Feasts of Unleavened Bread because He wanted Israel to see the connection between deliverance and purity of heart. God’s goodness and grace do not lessen His demands for a pure heart. (Revelation 21:27; 22:15) This is why sinners need the sealing so badly! The Hebrews was to thoroughly search their homes for yeast and remove any trace of it before Passover began. The Feast of Unleavened Bread was to remind them that they needed to be constantly on guard against the yeast of sin in their homes and lives. We still need to guard against the yeast of sin, especially as we wait for the final “Passover” and appearing of our Lord. We must search our heart often and remove any known sin. The devil is a master of gradualism. Sin creeps in slowly and steadily. Sin will overtake an individual, as well as a whole nation, if it is not firmly resisted. The history of Israel (indeed, all nations) confirms this point.

In the Scriptures, the figurative use of yeast represents the fermenting process of sin and is demonstrated to be vain, foolish, even intoxicating ideas of man. (Mark 8:15; Luke 12:1; Revelation 18:3) Men and women may try to excuse sin, justify sin, defend sin, rename sin, promote sin, exalt sin or extol the benefits of sin, but make no mistake-sin is deadly! God hates sin and He forbade the Jews from presenting any offering to Him that contained yeast! (Exodus 23:18) Jesus warned His disciples,’”But be on your guard against the yeast of the Pharisees and Sadducees.’ Then they understood that he was not telling them to guard against the yeast used in bread, but against the teaching of the Pharisees and Sadducees.” (Matthew 16:11-12) These words are certainly applicable today. There are seven religious systems in the world today. Each one is full of yeast. The doctrines are not acceptable to God. In the last days, the servants of God, the 144,000, will present the unleavened bread of life to the world and every person on Earth will have an opportunity to choose life or reject the truth. Revelation’s story indicates that many, if not the majority of people, will reject the bread of Heaven because they prefer soft bread; doctrines fermented with the yeast of sin.

Three Presentations of First fruits

Passover always occurs in the spring, between April 3 and May 2. On the Sunday following Passover, the high priest presented the “first fruits” of the winter harvest before the Lord. (Leviticus 23:11) This presentation of first fruits (wheat, barley, oil and wine) was a shadow of a resurrected Jesus presenting Himself before the Father. Jesus is the firstborn of the dead, the preeminent One risen from the tomb. (Revelation 1:5) Because the first fruits at Passover were always presented on Sunday, so Jesus presented Himself to the Father on Sunday morning as the First fruits of the dead. (John 20:17)

Consider the elements of the Passover feast: The Passover Lamb represents Jesus, the Lamb of God. The yeast-free bread eaten at Passover represents a sinless Jesus, the unleavened Bread of Life that came down from Heaven. (John 6:35) The life and teachings of Jesus have no impurity or fermentation in them. The unfermented wine used at Passover represents the pure blood of Jesus that was shed for our sins. (Luke 22:20) Jesus could not be a perfect substitute for us if there had been any sin in His life.

The first harvest of the year occurred at the time of Passover. As a winter harvest, it was also the smallest harvest. This harvest foreshadows the ascension of Jesus with a small, but triumphant group of people who were resurrected from the cold winter of death. This group indicates the 24 elders mentioned in Revelation. (Matthew 27: 52,53; Ephesians 4:8; Revelation 4:4; 1 Corinthians 15:20) The 24 elders, two witnesses from each of the twelve tribes, are representatives of the human race. These 24 elders were taken to Heaven in serve as human observers in Heaven’s court. They will testify to all the saints in the days to come about the courtroom process when Jesus “passed-over” the records of every person to determine their eternal destiny.

The Feast of Weeks (Pentecost)

“Count off fifty days up to the day after the seventh Sabbath, and then present an offering of new grain to the Lord. From wherever you live, bring two loaves made of two-tenths of an ephah of fine flour, baked with yeast, as a wave offering of first fruits to the Lord.” (Leviticus 23:16,17) The Feast of Weeks was celebrated at the time of the spring harvest. The spring harvest was larger than the winter harvest at Passover. This one-day feast occurred in late spring or early summer (June/July). In Christ’s day, this feast was called “Pentecost” because the Greek word for Pentecost means “fiftieth day.” The count of fifty days began with the waving of first fruits on Sunday after Passover. The count of fifty days included seven seventh day Sabbaths (or seven full weeks). Then, on the 50th day (always on a Sunday), the Feast of [seven] Weeks was celebrated with a presentation of first fruits from the spring harvest.

Farmers understand that when there is zero rainfall there is zero harvest. This feast illustrates the essential work of the Holy Spirit. The work of the Holy Spirit is to soften and influence the human heart toward spiritual matters. (1 Corinthians 2:14) Unless a person is born of the Spirit, he or she cannot enter the kingdom of God. (John 3:5) This feast demonstrates that God is able to bring life, even a bountiful harvest, from the cold soil of a carnal heart if individuals will open up and receive the outpouring of the Holy Spirit. God wanted the Jews to understand that men may work the soil of the heart and plant seeds of truth, but it is only through the power of the Spirit of God that spiritual life occurs. The beauty of the shadow of this feast is that even though the human heart may be cold or even dead to spiritual things, God can produce a wonderful transformation through the power of the Spirit!

Acts 2 records a wonderful event that illustrates the shadow of this feast. Ten days after Jesus ascended, the Holy Spirit descended on the disciples at Pentecost and 3,000 people became baptized believers in Christ that day! (Acts 2:41) This harvest of souls came from the toil of Christ Himself. He had traveled from village to village, healing the sick, lame and blind. He had preached freedom to people ensnared by twisted religion and superstition and He removed the yeast of foolish dogma with pure words of life. The disciples and these 3,000 baptized believers were the first fruits from the gospel of Christ. (Matthew 7:28,29) Their conversion was the result of the work of the Holy Spirit!

God’s timing is always perfect and the event described in Acts 2 was no exception! Attendance at Pentecost was required so Jewish males came to Jerusalem from many nations. (Acts 2:9-11) Signs and wonders verified the outpouring of the Holy Spirit and Peter boldly took advantage of the occasion. What a tremendous opportunity to tell of a risen Jesus to those Jews who had gathered from every corner of the world! As a result of that Pentecostal event, Israel was widely and powerfully informed about the appearing of Messiah, their corporate guilt for rejecting and killing Him, and the ascension of the risen Savior! Through the convincing power of the Holy Spirit, 3,000 Jews became convinced that Jesus was the Messianic fulfillment of Scripture! (Acts 2:22; Acts 13:48) I also suspect that the testimony of those resurrected with Jesus 50 days earlier gave immutable proof that Jesus was indeed raised from the dead. (Matthew 27:52,53)

Passover, Pentecost and Ingathering

Consider the three presentations of first fruits. The presentation of first fruits at Passover represents a raised Jesus. He is the firstborn (the preeminent of men) among those who have died. (Revelation 1:5) The small winter harvest at Passover represents a small group of people that Jesus took to Heaven at the time of His ascension including the 24 elders. The second presentation of first fruits occurred at Pentecost and these first fruits from the spring harvest foreshadowed the disciples and the 3,000 people that were baptized at Pentecost in Acts 2. These were the first Christians. The Pentecost, recorded in Acts 2, is the only Pentecost that stands out in the history of Israel since the initial Exodus. It is widely known because the Holy Spirit rained on those gathered in Jerusalem in A.D.30 to celebrate this Pentecost. The outpouring of Holy Spirit power changed hearts and produced “born again” people. (Romans 8:5; 1 Peter 4:3-6) Since that day, the gospel of Christ has not stopped. The gospel continues to spread around the world (Colossians 1:6) and the reverberations of that Pentecost continue! The gospel of the kingdom is still alive and the early rain of the Holy Spirit is still producing a harvest. The time has almost come for Earth’s final harvest represented by the Feast of Ingathering. There is going to be a powerful out pouring of Holy Spirit power upon the whole world. (Joel 2:27,28) The fall harvest is the largest harvest and the book of Revelation says the 144,000 servants of god will be the first fruits of the final harvest. (Revelation 14:4) John also says that the final harvest will be so great that no one can count the number of those who come out of the Great Tribulation! (Revelation 7:9-14) God designed these feasts thousands of years ago because He wants us to understand His plan to save us!

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