Accompaniments of Passover - Part I: Feast of Unleavened Bread
Dr. Joe Temple

Introduction

Open your Bibles, please, to the book of Exodus, chapter 12. You will remember that God was preparing to deliver the children of Israel from the land of Egypt. He had sent Moses and Aaron into the land of Egypt to perform that delivery. At the hand of Moses and Aaron God had sent nine plagues which were supposed to convince Pharaoh that God was God and to bring him to the place where he would be willing for the children of Israel to leave the land of Egypt. But each plague made Pharaoh's heart more hard, and he refused to let the people go. God then said to Moses, “Tell Pharaoh that there will be one plague more, and then he will let the people go out of the land of Egypt.”

That one plague more was to be the death of all the firstborn in the land of Egypt. The Scripture says just that–the death of every firstborn in all the land of Egypt. The Israelites were in the land of Egypt, and so they were included. But God had made a difference between the Israelites and the Egyptians in the judgments which had fallen before, and it was not likely that He would do otherwise this time.

Observance of the Passover

He did make a difference. The difference was in the form of a lamb known as the Passover lamb. He told everyone in the land of Egypt, both Egyptians and Israelites, to take a lamb, to slay it on the doorstep of their homes, to take a branch of hyssop, dip it in the blood and sprinkle it on the crosspiece of the door and on the doorposts; and He said everyone should stay in the house that night. They should eat of the lamb that was slain; nothing of it should remain until the morning. The death angel would pass through the land of Egypt that night, and at every place where blood was on the doorpost, whether it was an Egyptian house or the house of an Israelite, the death angel would pass over without taking the life of the firstborn.

All the Israelites presumably believed what God said. Some of the Egyptians believed what God said. The lamb was slain; the blood was sprinkled, the death angel came, and every house where there was blood found safety. Every house that had neglected the command of God had to experience the anguish of the death of their firstborn.

A Permanent Reminder

God said that after this incident the Passover feast should become a permanent feast in the life of the nation of Israel. It occurred in the seventh month, but God said, “We will no longer call this the seventh month; we will call it the first month, the month of Abib, for this will be the beginning of a new life.” There was a spiritual lesson in that for all of us. As the Israelites had a Passover lamb which saved them from death, we have the Lord Jesus Christ who gave His life that we might live. We are correct in referring to the Lord Jesus Christ as our Passover Lamb, because the Apostle Paul does that very thing in his letter to the Corinthians when he says, “…Christ our passover is sacrificed for us” (I Corinthians 5:7).

If you have received the Lord Jesus Christ as your Savior, you are beginning to live anew. Life does not begin at forty as some of the writers say and as some of us perhaps wish it would; life begins when we receive the Lord Jesus Christ as Savior. No one really lives unless he has had this experience with Christ and begins to live anew.

We want now to look together at the verses of Scripture that describe the things which accompany the Passover–the things which accompanied the Passover on that night when the people were delivered from the land of Egypt and the things which became a permanent accompaniment of the Passover in the religious life of the nation of Israel.

Spiritual Significance of the Accompaniments

One of the things that accompanied the Passover is known as the Feast of the Unleavened Bread, and the other is known as the Consecration of the Firstborn. I would like for us to read all the verses of Scripture in these two chapters that deal with these two things, and then we will endeavor to determine the spiritual significance of the Feast of the Unleavened Bread and the Consecration of the Firstborn in our lives.

Lest any of you wonder why we take the liberty of trying to find spiritual significance in Old Testament events, we would remind you to read carefully chapter 10 of I Corinthians where we read that all the things that happened to the Israelites happened that they might be examples for us. The word “examples” could be translated “types,” so these Old Testament experiences are types of spiritual blessings which we may enjoy.

Notice the paragraph which begins with verse 15:

Exodus 12

15Seven days shall ye eat unleavened bread; even the first day ye shall put away leaven out of your houses: for whosoever eateth leavened bread from the first day until the seventh day, that soul shall be cut off from Israel.
16And in the first day there shall be an holy convocation to you; no manner of work shall be done in them, save that which every man must eat, that only may be done of you.
17And ye shall observe the feast of unleavened bread; for in this selfsame day have I brought your armies out of the land of Egypt: therefore shall ye observe this day in your generations by an ordinance for ever.
18In the first month, on the fourteenth day of the month an even, ye shall eat unleavened bread, until the one and twentieth day of the month at even.
19Seven days shall there be no leaven found in your houses: for whosoever eateth that which is leavened, even that soul shall be cut off from the congregation of Israel, whether he be a stranger, or born in the land.
20Ye shall eat nothing leavened; in all your habitations shall ye eat unleavened bread.

Then chapter 13:

Exodus 13

1And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying,
2Sanctify unto me all the firstborn, whatsoever openeth the womb among the children of Israel, both of man and of beast: it is mine.
3And Moses said unto the people, Remember this day, in which ye came out of Egypt, out of the house of bondage; for by strength of hand the LORD brought you out from this place: there shall no leavened bread be eaten.
4This day came ye out in the month of Abib.
5And it shall be when the LORD shall bring thee into the land of the Canaanites, and the Hittites, and the Amorites, and the Hivites, and the Jebusites, which he sware unto thy fathers to give thee, a land flowing with milk and honey, that thou shalt keep this service in this month.
6Seven days thou shalt eat unleavened bread, and in the seventh day shall be a feast to the LORD.
7Unleavened bread shall be eaten seven days; and there shall no leavened bread be seen with thee, neither shall there be leaven seen with thee, in all thy quarters.
8And thou shalt shew thy son in that day, saying, This is done because of that which the LORD did unto me when I came forth out of Egypt.
9And it shall be for a sign unto thee upon thine hand, and for a memorial between thine eyes, that the LORD's law may be in thy mouth: for with a strong hand hath the LORD brought thee out of Egypt.
10Thou shalt therefore keep this ordinance in his season from year to year.
11And it shall be when the LORD shall bring thee into the land of the Canaanites, as he sware unto thee and to thy fathers, and shall give it thee,
12That thou shalt set apart unto the LORD all that openeth the matrix, and every firstling that cometh of a beast which thou hast; the males shall be the LORD's.
13And every firstling of an ass thou shalt redeem with a lamb; and if thou wilt not redeem it, then thou shalt break his neck; and all the firstborn of man among thy children shalt thou redeem.
14And it shall be when thy son asketh thee in time to come, saying, What is this? that thou shalt say unto him, By strength of hand the LORD brought us out from Egypt, from the house of bondage:
15And it came to pass, when Pharaoh would hardly let us go, that the LORD slew all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, both the firstborn of man, and the firstborn of beast: therefore I sacrifice to the LORD all that openeth the matrix, being males; but all the firstborn of my children I redeem.
16And it shall be for a token upon thine hand, and for frontlets between thine eyes: for by strength of hand the LORD brought us forth out of Egypt.

Realize that there is repetition in these paragraphs. The reason for the repetition is that at one time God said, “This is what you should say,” and then it was said. Another time He said to individuals, “This is what you should say to your children,” and then it was repeated.

The other reason for repetition concerns the description or historical setting for the story. I think it would be wise for us just to select the basic things related to the Feast of Unleavened Bread and to the offering of the firstborn or the Consecration of the Firstborn. As we assemble these half-dozen facts, I think we will be able to understand the Feast of Unleavened Bread and its spiritual significance for us.

The Feast of Unleavened Bread

The very first thing we learned about the Feast of Unleavened Bread is that it was to last exactly seven days. That word “seven” is repeatedly emphasized throughout these two paragraphs. We realize the importance of numbers in the Word of God; numbers are significant. They teach a lesson within themselves. The number seven is the number of perfection, the number of completion, the number of wholeness. So the first thing that is brought to our attention is wholeness of communion as represented by the Feast of Unleavened Bread, or wholeness in fellowship as represented by unleavened bread.

Representative of Fellowship

You may be saying, “Why do you say that the Feast of Unleavened Bread is representative of communion or fellowship in relation to the nation of Israel?” The answer is found in the last statement of verse 15, where we read that unless the Feast of Unleavened Bread was properly observed by an individual, then that soul should be cut off from Israel, the commonwealth of Israel, the fellowship of Israel. The soul that did not observe the Feast of Unleavened Bread could have no fellowship with the rest of the Israelites. So the Feast of Unleavened Bread, may I suggest, is representative of complete communion with the Lord, of complete fellowship with the Lord.

Dependent Upon the Blood

With that thought in mind, let us notice the basics of the Feast of Unleavened Bread, because we need to start at the beginning if we are to understand it properly.

Notice verse 8 of chapter 13:

Exodus 13

8And thou shalt shew thy son in that day, saying, This is done (that is, the Feast of Unleavened Bread) because of that which the LORD did unto me when I came forth out of Egypt.

The Lord spared lives because of blood. A lamb was provided, and life was given in place of death. So the first thing we would like to emphasize is that just as the Feast of Unleavened Bread depended upon the shed blood of the Passover lamb, our fellowship with the Lord depends upon the Lord Jesus Christ. There is no fellowship with God unless the Lord Jesus Christ is our Savior.

Turn with me, please, to the first epistle of John, chapter 1. The first epistle of John is the epistle of fellowship for the Christian. It tells how our fellowship and our communion begin and how our communion and our fellowship are maintained.

I John 1

1That 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;
2For 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;
3That 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.

John is saying in this epistle, “We are telling you the story of Christ; we are telling you of our experiences with Him so that you may have fellowship with us; truly our fellowship is with our Father and with His Son, Jesus Christ.” May I ask you, are you part of that fellowship? Are you enjoying that fellowship? I am not asking you whether you are a Baptist, a Methodist, or a Presbyterian, or any one of the 250 varieties of denominations that I might name. I am merely asking you whether you are in fellowship with the Lord Jesus Christ. Are you related to Him because of blood? Is He your Savior? These are very pointed questions that it would be wise for all of us to give final and careful consideration.

Definition of ”Fellowship”

Perhaps you are saying, “Well, I really don't know. As a matter of fact, I am not too sure that I know what you are talking about. Fellowship with Jesus Christ–what do you mean?” Turn with me, please, to the Gospel of John, chapter 1. When we speak of fellowship, we are speaking of a relationship. I never talk about fellowship without mentioning by way of definition the little illustration that was given by someone, so simple that it is humorous, but there could not be a better definition of fellowship. Someone was asked, “What do you mean by fellowship?” The individual answered, “I mean fellows in the same ship.” That is simple, but it is accurate. What is fellowship? Fellows in the same ship.

A Personal Relationship

That leads us to ask, “What is your relationship to Jesus Christ?” If your relationship to Jesus Christ is as it should be, then you are in fellowship with Him. Notice verse 6:

John 1

6There was a man sent from God, whose name was John.
7The same came for a witness, to bear witness of the Light, that all men through him might believe.
8He was not that Light, but was sent to bear witness of that Light.
9That was the true Light, which lighteth every man that cometh into the world.
10He was in the world, and the world was made by him, and the world knew him not.
11He came unto his own, and his own received him not.
12But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name:
13Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.

When the Lord Jesus Christ came to this earth, He came for the purpose of having fellowship with members of His own race, the Jewish nation. He came as their Messiah and their Savior, but they turned their backs on Him. In spite of what the Ecumenical Council is saying, in spite of what the prelates of Rome are saying, the Jews are guilty of crucifying the Lord Jesus Christ. They turned their backs on their Messiah. That is what the Word of God says. But you will notice that as many as did receive the Lord Jesus Christ, to them He gave power to become the sons of God, even to them that believed on His name.

An Authorized Relationship

The very moment you become a son of God, you have entered that fellowship of which John speaks in his first epistle–fellowship with the Father and with His Son, Jesus Christ. This verse of Scripture says that the individual who receives the Lord Jesus Christ has “the power”; that is a good word. This relationship, as we are going to see, is not mere lip service; this relationship, as we are going to see, is not a mere mental assent. It is a supernatural work of grace within the heart, so it is all right to use the word “power.” But that does not exhaust the meaning of the word. The word also means “authority.” The individual who has received the Lord Jesus Christ has the authority to refer to himself as a son of God, and–listen carefully–no one else has that authority.

There are seven children in this world who have authority to say I am their father, and only seven. No one else has a right to say I'm his father. Those seven have, because they were born into my family. If you are born into the family of God, you have a right to say that you are a child of God. Otherwise you have no right.

Someone might say, “But I understand that all of us are children of God.” We are not. The Bible makes a very definite distinction between the children of the Devil and the children of God. People who are the children of God are the people who have received the Lord Jesus Christ as their Savior.

Not By Natural Atonement

What does it mean to receive the Lord Jesus Christ? Notice the last statement of verse 12: “…even to them that believe on His name.” What does it mean to receive the Lord Jesus Christ? It means to believe on the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, to trust the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, to commit your welfare to the name of the Lord Jesus Christ.

In order that we may understand clearly what it means, we are told what it does not mean, and by a process of elimination we arrive at the truth. So notice what he has to say in verse 13: Individuals who believe on the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, individuals who receive Him as Savior are not born of blood. That means that no natural atonement can fit you for the kingdom of God.

You may be born white. You may be born black. You may be born red. You may be born yellow. You may be born in the upper stratum of society. You may be born on the lowest rung of society. It does not matter how you are born; you are not fit for the kingdom of God. Blood has nothing to do with it; no human blood can qualify an individual for the kingdom of God. We talk about being Christians because we are born in a Christian country. There has never been a greater lie of the Devil than that. We are not Christians because we are born in a Christian country.

We talk about being born into a Christian family. I have spoken to people about their relationship to God and they have said something like this: “But I have always been a Christian; I was born a Christian; my mother and daddy are Christians.” Well, that does not make you a Christian. It is not of blood.

Not By Will of the Flesh

Notice also that it is not of the will of the flesh. Thank God for resolutions. I think we ought to make them. I think we ought to keep them. I think it is helpful for us to determine in our own hearts that we are going to do thus and so. It is good for us. But we want to remind you that though you may change your way of living by the will of the flesh, though you may stop this or begin that by the will of the flesh, you cannot become a Christian by the will of the flesh. You cannot make up your mind that you are going to be a child of God and then live like a child of God. You cannot do that. It is not by the will of the flesh.

Not By Will of Man

The third thing you will notice is that it is not of the will of man. That is, no man can make you a Christian. A thing that disturbs me immensely, that burdens my heart and grieves me, is that so many people confuse membership in a local church organization with a born-again experience. So often when you talk to people about their relationship to God, they will say, “Yes, I am a Christian; I joined the church when I was twelve,” or “when I was eleven,” or “when I was thirty,” or “when I was twenty.” That is all they know. They think that because they have walked down the aisle and the preacher has taken their hand, or the church has voted them as fit for baptism, or they have taken certain vows, that they are the children of God. Beloved, that is what this verse of Scripture is talking about. It is not the will of man. Nothing that any man can do can make you a part of this fellowship of which I am speaking.

There are people who will say when you ask them if they know the Lord or if they are Christians, “Yes, I was baptized on such and such a day.” Beloved, if baptism will save you, then this passage of Scripture has no meaning, because baptism is what a man does to you. We are told here that the will of man cannot save you. This rules out forever any indulgences which provide for the forgiveness of sin and guarantee Heaven.

A Supernatural Work

What is it then? The answer is that it is of God. It is a supernatural work of grace. The very moment you are born again, at that very moment you enter this fellowship of which I am speaking. Someone says, “But you are talking about being born again; that's a rather strange phrase.” Let us look at that for a moment in chapter 3 of the Gospel of John. You are familiar with this story. Nicodemus came to the Lord Jesus by night, and in verse 3 the Lord Jesus Christ answered His question with a very definite answer, using these strange words. He said:

John 3

3…Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.
4Nicodemus saith unto him, How can a man be born when he is old? can he enter the second time into his mother's womb, and be born?
5Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.
6That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.
7Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again.
8The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, and whither it goeth: so is every one that is born of the Spirit.

The Lord Jesus Christ used these very same strange phrases. You were born into this world the first time. You must be born into the family of God the second time. That is what it means to be born again. You were born of the Spirit the second time. You were born of water the first time. Some Bible scholars believe that “water” refers to the Word of God (I Peter 1:23; Titus 3:5).

Understanding the New Birth

Someone might say, “How?” Do you know how a little baby is born? Do you know how a baby is formed in the womb of its mother? Do you? No, you don't. You may see the different stages of the embryo, and you see the fully developed babe when it is born, but you don't know how it is done. I don't know how a man is born again, but I see the born-again man.

All I know is that the individual recognizes that he is under the sentence of death, just as the Israelites did in the land of Egypt. And just as the Israelites took a lamb that meant safety to them, we receive God's lamb, the Lord Jesus Christ, and it means safety to us. We receive Him as Savior and we enter into fellowship with Him.

Perhaps you are wondering what all of this has to do with a piece of unleavened bread. It is the basis of the Feast of Unleavened Bread. It is the basis of our fellowship. It is the basis of our communion with Him, full and complete and free.

Remaining In Fellowship

Listen closely to what I am going to say. Not everyone who is in fellowship with the Lord by virtue of the new birth stays in fellowship with Him. That is the sad state of affairs today. All too many children of God are out of communion, out of fellowship with the Lord. I think that if we examine the truth related to the Feast of Unleavened Bread, we will be able to understand what it means to stay in fellowship with the Lord.

Remove the Leaven

Turn, please, to Exodus, chapter 12, verse 15:

Exodus 12

15Seven days shall ye eat unleavened bread, even the first day ye shall [notice] put away leaven out of your houses, or whosoever eateth leavened bread from the first day until the seventh day, that soul shall be cut off from Israel.

Put away leaven. If you don't put away leaven, you cannot have fellowship. What is leaven? Leaven, in the Bible, is a type of sin. it is a type of evil. It is a type of wickedness. You say, “How do you know that?” Well, if you were to take a concordance and look up the word “leaven,” you would find that every time it is used in the Bible, it is used in an evil sense. It is never used in a good sense. A specific verse of Scripture is I Corinthians, chapter 5, verse 6:

I Corinthians 5

6Your glorying is not good. Know ye not that a little leaven leaveneth the whole lump?
7Purge out therefore the old leaven, that ye may be a new lump, as ye are unleavened. For even Christ our passover is sacrificed for us:
8[Listen closely] Therefore let us keep the feast, not with old leaven, neither with the leaven of malice and wickedness: but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.

If the Israelites were to maintain their communion with the commonwealth of Israel, they had to put all leaven out of their houses. They were not to keep unleavened bread. And I say to you, if you are to have fellowship with the Lord Jesus Christ as His child, there must never be any unconfessed sin in your life. Notice what I said–unconfessed sin. I did not say that you would be sinless; I say that if you are in communion with the Lord, if you are in fellowship with Him, there must be no unconfessed sin in your life.

Sin Must Be Confessed

Turn with me, please, to the first epistle of John, chapter 1, and notice the emphasis that is placed on this very thing in verse 6:

I John 1

6If we say we have fellowship with him [if we were Israelites and were reading this in terms of their language, we would say, ”If we say that we are in communion in the commonwealth of Israel”] and walk in darkness, we lie and do not the truth.

God said that if you and I say we are in fellowship and we walk in darkness, we are lying. If the Israelite says he is in communion with the commonwealth of Israel, and yet has leaven in his house, he lies. He is not walking in the truth.

I John 1

7But 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.

What does it mean to walk in the light? Remember that the Bible says that the Word of God is a lamp unto our feet, and a light unto our path (Psalm 119:105). It sheds a light around our feet when we are ready to take the next step, and it sends a light on out yonder where we have not yet walked. So let us say simply that if we are walking in obedience to the Word of God, we are walking in the light, and the blood of Jesus Christ, God's Son, continually cleanses us from all sin.

Two Errors Related to Sin

In verse 8, so there won't be any misunderstanding:

I John 1

8If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves…

Again, in verse 10, so that there will not be any misunderstanding:

I John 1

10If we say that we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.

Those are the two errors into which people slip in relation to sin. There are people who say, “It is impossible for me to sin. I have no sin nature.” Well, you see what it says about that; we deceive ourselves. I have always been amused at that statement, because we don't deceive anyone else. You find a man who says he has no sin nature and ask for a conference with his wife. It won't take long to find that he is deceiving no one but himself. That is all, no one else. Notice verse 10:

I John 1

10If we say that we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.

Anyone who says he has never sinned is making God a liar, and His truth is not abiding in him. Verse 9 presents the true state of affairs:

I John 1

9If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

In the terms of our study, the Israelites, in talking about the Feast of the Unleavened Bread, would have read it this way: “If we put away the leaven, if we purge out the leaven, God is faithful and just to forgive us for having leaven in our house, and to cleanse us from all the effects of that leaven in our house.”

The Feast of Unleavened Bread is related to communion and fellowship. Any Israelite who had leaven in his house could not be in communion, and the Christian who has any unconfessed sin in his life is not in communion with the Lord. We would remind you that leaven must be put away, and failure to put away leaven results in broken fellowship.

Evidence of Fellowship

But the other side of the story–fellowship that is not broken should not have to be proven. It should be evident. You should not have to go around saying, “I am in fellowship with the Lord.” A lot of people do. I have been in prayer meetings where people spent the whole time telling the Lord they were in fellowship with Him. Always when that has happened, I have wondered whether they are trying to convince me. Fellowship should be evident.

Back to Exodus, chapter 13, as I point out one or two other things in this connection. Notice in verse 8 the evidence that there was no leaven in the houses of the Israelites:

Exodus 13

8And thou shalt shew thy son in that day, saying, This is done because of that which the LORD did unto me when I came forth out of Egypt.
9[Listen carefully] And it shall be for a sign unto thee upon thine hand, and for a memorial between thine eyes (that is, on your forehead), that the LORD's law may be in thy mouth: for with a strong hand hath the LORD brought thee out of Egypt.

The hand in the Word of God is always symbolic of service. What is He saying? There should be a sign on your hand that there is no leaven in your house. This is all typical language. Certainly there is no way that one could put a sign on his hand and make it effective, but if an individual spends his time in service for the Lord he loves, there should be evidence of fellowship.

Fruitbearing

Oh, now, wait just a minute. I don't mean baking cakes and pies and running around in the name of the church. I am talking about fruitbearing. Will you turn in your Bibles, please, to John 15, verse 1:

John 15

1I am the true vine, and my Father is the husbandman.
2Every branch in me that beareth not fruit, he taketh away: and every branch that beareth fruit, he purgeth it, that it may bring forth more fruit.

He trims the branch. We don't like some of that trimming sometimes, but if we could just remember that it is so we can bring forth more fruit, it would be easier to bear.

John 15

3Now ye are clean through the word which I have spoken unto you.
4[Notice this part] Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me.

There is no way to produce fruit out of fellowship. Now will you go back to chapter 13, verse 9, of Exodus.

Exodus 13

9And it shall be for a sign unto thee upon thine hand, and for a memorial between thine eyes [on your forehead where everyone can see it]

Fellowship should be evident; it should not have to be proven. Someone says, “Well, I don't think we ought to go around judging people.” No, I don't either, unless we want to be judged by the same measure. But there is no reason in the world why we should have to wonder whether people are in fellowship with the Lord. It will be evident. It will be where people can see it.

Counterfeit Spirituality

Every good thing in the Word of God and in our relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ becomes counterfeited by the Devil. Many, many times he takes spirituality and lets it deteriorate into cold formalism. Much that people think is a right relationship with God is nothing more than a formal adherence to creed. Turn, please, to chapter 23 of the Gospel of Matthew and notice how the Devil enabled the Israelites to take this simple suggestion concerning fellowship and turn it into an empty, formal observance that ministered to the pride of religious Pharisees:

Matthew 23

1Then spake Jesus to the multitude, and to his disciples,
2Saying, The scribes and the Pharisees sit in Moses' seat:
3All therefore whatsoever they bid you observe, that observe and do; but do not ye after their works: for they say, and do not.
4For they bind heavy burdens and grievous to be borne, and lay them on men's shoulders; but they themselves will not move them with one of their fingers.
5[Now notice] But all their works they do for to be seen of men: they make broad their phylacteries, and enlarge the borders of their garments,
6And love the uppermost rooms at feasts, and the chief seats in the synagogues.
7And greetings in the markets, and to be called of men, Rabbi, Rabbi.
8But be not ye called Rabbi: for one is your Master, even Christ; and all ye are brethren.
9And call no man your father upon the earth [that is, in a religious sense] for one is your Father, which is in heaven.
10Neither be ye called masters [that is, in a religious sense] : for one is your Master, even Christ.
11But he that is greatest among you shall be your servant.
12And whosoever shall exalt himself shall be abased; and he that shall humble himself shall be exalted.

Matthew 23

5But all their works they do for to be seen of men: they make broad their phylacteries, and enlarge the borders of their garments.

Do you know what phylacteries were? They were literal boxes in which were put certain Scripture portions about the Passover. They would bind them on their hands and around their heads to prove they were religious. They even vied in the size of their phylacteries; the bigger the phylactery, the more religious the individual. Now do you see how these Israelites took this simple suggestion of the Holy Spirit in the book of Exodus and caused it to be an empty experience?

I want to suggest that that fellowship of the Spirit which is the natural relationship of the born-again child of God has been traded for an empty formalism to prove one's spirituality. Some of you may not understand what I am going to say now, and you may not accept it, but think about it. I love beautiful music. I cannot carry a tune, but I love to hear people sing who can sing. But if you need good organ music to put you in an attitude of worship [now wait; the Lord can use music. He made it and He does use it] you are binding a phylactery on your head. You have a form and not the Spirit if you have to have candles and crosses and images to put you in an attitude of worship; you are making a cheap exchange of real fellowship for empty formalism. If you are of this generation that is arising in our day who must have a worship center in every assembly room in a Sunday School building in order to produce the right attitude of worship, then you are exchanging true fellowship of the Spirit for an empty formalism that appeal to the flesh.


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