Rabbi’s Reflections – Sunday, March 8, 2020
Shavuah Tov *|FNAME|*,
Does God Use Communion to Make Announcements to Us?
By Doctor and Senator Raymond Finney
(Part 1 of 3)
INTRODUCTION: I thank Rabbi Weiner for an important feature of Shomair’s Shabbat service. As a congregation, we participate in Communion at every occasion, especially every Shabbat. “Communion” may be translated as “togetherness” (“unity, oneness”) with God and with each other. As a family of Believers, we should leave the synagogue after Communion to enter the community as one with our God and one with our brothers and sisters. In so doing, we begin to honor Yeshua’s beautiful prayer in John, chapter 17.
The best example of the meaning of eating the bread and drinking the fruit of the vine was given to us by the Lord just a few hours before He was crucified. At this simple ceremony, Yeshua announced the New Covenant given by God to the world. God had earlier promised a new covenant (Jeremiah 31:31-36).
Our New Covenant was established by the shedding of Yeshua’s blood on the cross (Matthew 26:27-28): And [Yeshua] took a cup; and after giving thanks, He gave to [His disciples], saying, “Drink from it, all of you; for this is My blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the removal of sins.”
Since God chose to make this all-important announcement at a Passover Seder just hours before Yeshua’s crucifixion, could elements of Communion have been involved in other announcements? Several instances in Scriptures associate Communion elements (bread and/ or wine) and major announcements from God. Consider the following examples (and you may know of others):
FIRST COMMUNION ANNOUNCEMENT: DURING HIS JOURNEY FROM UR TO CANAAN, ABRAM IS INTRODUCED (REVEALED) TO THE SON OF GOD.
(Communion meal– bread and wine)
(Announcement– the Son of God, who will be the Savior of all of Abram’s descendants, comes.)
** (Genesis 14:18-20): Then Melchizedek, king of Salem, brought out bread and wine– he was a priest of El Elyon. He blessed him and said, “Blessed be Abram by El Elyon, Creator of heaven and earth, and blessed be El Elyon, Who gave over your enemies into your hand.” Then Abram gave him a tenth of everything.
El Elyon is Hebrew for “God Most High.” How would Melchizedek, king of a foreign nation (Salem), know of El Elyon (our Jehovah)? Presumably the people of Salem had their own deities. Melchizedek is an enigmatic person in Scriptures. He served as priest and king (see Hebrews verses, following). It was unusual for one person to hold both of these offices. The rabbis deduced long ago that any one who holds both offices is the Mashiach (Messiah, Anointed Savior).
This name of this nation, Salem, is derived from Shalom (Hebrew, “Peace,” but also complete, wholeness, lacking nothing, and perfect). “Salem” would be incorporated into Yerushalyim (Jerusalem, city of peace). Melchizedek may be an example of a Christophany. [Christophany = an appearance of HaMashiach to man before His birth in Bethlehem.] Notice the relationships between Melchizedek and Yeshua: both were King and Priest; both were a King of Salem, or Shalom (Yeshua = Prince of Shalom; see Isaiah 9:6); and Abram showed deference to Melchizedek (Yeshua?) by tithing. As they ate a Communion meal together (and if Melchizedek was in reality Yeshua), was Abram shown the things that would follow his people in the Promised Land and throughout the world? If so, then this Man of the Christophany appearance would have fulfilled one of Yeshua’s three offices in coming to the world– that is, He was a Prophet. If Melchizedek was not actually Yeshua (a Christophany appearance), he was at least a type of (a foreshadow of, a revelation of, a rehearsal for) Yeshua HaMashiach. Abram (Abraham) could go forward, understanding why he was being called to a foreign land.
** (Psalm 110:1-2, 4-6a): A psalm of David. Adonai declares to my Lord: “Sit at My right hand until I make your enemies a footstool for Your feet.” Adonai will extend your mighty rod from Zion: “Rule in the midst of your enemies.” |…| Adonai has sworn, and will not [change] His mind: “You are a Kohen forever according to the order of Melchizedek.” My Lord is at your right hand. He will shatter kings in the day of His wrath. He will judge among the nations,….
This passage establishes several truths: The Lord (Yeshua) is granted the right to sit at the honored spot– the right hand– of God (Yehovah); the Lord will ultimately conquer all enemies (at Armageddon and following judgments– “shatter kings in the day of His wrath, judge among the nations”); and the Lord is an eternal Kohen (Kohen = Hebrew, “Priest”). The Lord of this psalm (Yeshua) was sent as King and Priest on the order of (the same as) Melchizedek.
Consider the original Hebrew in Psalm 110:1, here translated “Adonai declares to my Lord….” David did not absentmindedly repeat Adonai and Lord. God did not talk to Himself. “Adonai” translates Yehovah (Jehovah) – God’s proper, ineffable (unutterable) name; or, the sacred tetragrammaton: yud-hey-vav-hey. “Lord” translates Adon– Master, Lord. Among other verses, this verse in the Tanakh supports the existence of a Triune God (Trinity) even before Yeshua’s birth.
** (Hebrews 7:1-3): For this Melechizedek was king of Salem, kohen of God Most High. He met Abraham returning from the defeat of the kings and blessed him, and to him Abraham apportioned a tenth of everything. First, by the translation of his name, he is “King of Righteousness”; and then also King of Salem, which is “King of Shalom.” Without father, without mother, without genealogy, having neither beginning of days nor end of life but made like Ben-Elohim, he remains a kohen for all time.
This passage re-states much of what is present in preceding passages. This Man is eternal, the King of Peace, forever a Priest, and Ben-Elohim (Ben-Elohim = Hebrew, “Son of God”). Mechizedek could not be a mortal man (without mother or father, without genealogy, having neither beginning nor end, made like the Son of God, and an eternal priest). Can there be any doubt that Melchizedek was Yeshua?
** (Genesis 12:1-3): Then Adonai said to Abram, “Get going out from your land, and from your relatives, and from your father’s house, to the land that I will show you. My heart’s desire is to make you into a great nation, to bless you, to make your name great so that you may be a blessing. My desire is to bless those who bless you, but whoever curses you I will curse, and in you all the families of the earth will be blessed.”
Take note of certain features of this passage:
** Abram (later, Abraham) and his wife, Sarai (later, Sarah), lived in Ur of the Chaldees. This ancient city was located in southern Mesopotamia, near the Euphrates River, about 150 miles southeast of Babylon. Importantly for the Bible’s future narrative, understand that they had no children.
** Abram was called by God to take his immediate household to the west (to a land God would show him). This land was Canaan (present-day Israel). Importantly for the Bible’s future narrative, understand that Abram was not to take relatives (except Sarai) with him. In obeying God to go to Canaan, Abram disobeyed God several times in his journey. By disobediently taking Lot and his family to Canaan, part of a curse (enemies) for Jews and Christians originated.
** There was a purpose for this re-location. Abram would be the father of a great nation. (Remember that Sarai was incapable of bearing children at this point in time.) From Abram and Sarai have come many hundreds of millions of Jews and Believers/ Christians. In another failure of Abram and Sarai to not believe God, many hundreds of millions of Muslims have come from Abram and Haggar.
** This passage is the source of the Dispensation of Promise. God promised to make Abram’s name great. Jews, Christians, and Muslims all revere “Father Abraham.” God promised to treat others as they treat Abraham’s descendants (blessing friends while cursing enemies of the descendants). More importantly, God promised that all persons in the earth will be blessed through him. Yeshua, a descendant of Abraham and Sarah, is THE blessing for all families of the earth.
The covenant with Abraham has been expanded in Scriptures:
** Genesis 13:14-17: The land God shown to Abram would forever belong to his descendants, and these descendants would be too numerous to count.
** Genesis 15:1-7: God promised Abram an heir (Isaac), who would begin a long line of descendants (eventually Jews, followed by Believers/ Christians).
** Genesis 17:1-8: Abram’s name was changed to Abraham. (Abram = “Exalted Father.” Abraham = “Father of a Multitude.”) All Canaan (present-day Israel) would be an everlasting gift to Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and their descendants.
** Genesis, chapters 18-21: Abraham had two sons. The firstborn son, the product of Abraham and the servant woman Haggar, was named Ishmael. Ishmael was recognized by God, but was not the son God intended for Abraham. The other son, the product of Abraham and his wife Sarah, was named Isaac, and was the promised (Covenant) son intended by God for Abraham. From Ishmael would come the Muslims, historic enemies of Jews and Christians/ Believers.
From Isaac would come Jacob. From Jacob would come twelve patriarchs of Israel. In later generations would come a “wild branch from the olive tree” of Israel. This branch would be Jesse, from whom would come David. From David would eventually come our Lord and Savior, Yeshua HaMashiach (see Romans, chapter 11).
** We will not know in this life, but could God have shown Abram the future and all that would follow him, as they sat before a meal of bread and wine?
SECOND COMMUNION ANNOUNCEMENT: GOD’S PEOPLE, LIBERATED FROM EGYPTIAN BONDAGE, WERE TO OBSERVE A CERMONIAL MEAL IN PERPETUITY IN REMEMBRANCE OF AND THANKSGIVING FOR FREEDOM. (Communion meal– unleavened bread)
(Announcement– Freedom is secured for all of Moses’ descendants through the blood of a slain Lamb.) Special note: FN stands for “footnote.”
** (Exodus 12:1-3, 5-15, 17, 21-28): Because of the length of this passage, I SUMMARIZE it. God spoke to Moses and his brother Aaron, to explain the Passover sacrifice. Each household was to take a blemish-free, male yearling lamb. [FN-1] The families were to keep the lambs in their homes for four days. [FN-2] The lamb would, then, be slaughtered. The lamb’s blood would be painted on the two doorposts and the door lintel of the Israelites’ homes. [FN-3] Before their exodus from Egypt, the Israelites ate a symbolic meal, memorialized even today as our Passover Seder. God commanded His people to observe this feast through all generations. The feast included unleavened bread.
Rabbi Trail: Shomair Yisrael will celebrate our community Seder teaching on Friday, April 9, 2020 beginning at 6PM. We will gather at Rothchild Catering, 8807 Kingston Pike. The charge for dinner is $25 per person. For reservations, click here. https://syknox.org/passover-seder/
After four centuries of bondage in Egypt [FN-4], it was time for God to return the Israelites to their Promised Land, Canaan (present-day Israel). God raised up Moses to lead the Israelites. Moses could not convince Pharaoh to let the Israelites leave, despite nine plagues sent against Egypt. [FN-5] God promised that the tenth plague– the killing of the firstborn– would break Pharaoh’s heart, and he would, then, let the Israelites go.
Footnotes– Features of this Passover meal and Yeshua’s ministry include:
[FN-1] Yeshua, our Passover Lamb (John 1:29, etc.), was sin-free. Compare Yeshua to the Israelites’ selection for sacrifice of a blemish-free, yearling lamb.
[FN-2] The Israelites kept their perfect lamb in their home or four days. Compare Yeshua’s living in our home– earth– for nearly four years of His ministry.
[FN-3] God’s covenants involve the shedding of blood. God was preparing to make a Covenant with all generations of Jews and Believers. The blood of this Covenant was the blood of Yeshua. On the night of Adonai’s Passover, tradition holds that the Israelites painted their doors with the letter tav. In Moses’ time, the tav was written as two crossed lines, somewhat similar to our letter “X” and resembling a cross. Scriptures tell us that Yeshua was crucified with two criminals. Therefore, there were three bloody crosses at Golgotha when Yeshua died, not unlike the three bloody tavs painted on the Israelites’ door frames.
As Egyptian slaves, the Israelites lived in simple huts. A shallow drainage ditch, a caph, was dug in front of the only door to the hut to prevent rainwater from entering the home. Tradition states that each family’s lamb had his throat slit so that blood would collect in the caph. This pool of blood at the door’s entrance in addition to the three bloody tavs on the doorposts and lintel completed a “circle” of lamb’s blood around the entrance of the hut.
On the evening of Adonai’s Passover, God told the Israelites to enter the hut and not leave for their protection (Exodus 12:12-13): “For I will go through the land of Egypt on that night and strike down every firstborn, both men and animals, and I will execute judgments against all the gods of Egypt. I am Adonai. The blood will be a sign for you on the houses where you are. When I see the blood, I will pass over you. So there will be no plague among you to destroy you when I strike the land of Egypt.”
Israelites were protected from the First Death (death of the body) by a covering of lamb’s blood on the night of Adonai’s Passover. We Believers are protected from the Second Death (death of the soul) throughout eternity by a covering of our Passover Lamb’s blood (Ephesians 1:7): In Him [Messiah Yeshua] we have redemption through His blood– the removal of trespasses– in keeping with the richness of His grace. (Other similar Scriptures exist.)
Hebrew letters were used to spell words, of course, and they represented numbers (similar to Roman numerals). Hebrew letters also represented concepts. The letter tav represented “seal” or “judgment.” Thus, tavs on the Israelites’ doors could signal “seals against God’s judgment.”
[FN-4] Remarkably, this enslavement was prophesied centuries before it occurred (Genesis 15:13): Then He [Adonai] said to Abram, “Know for certain that your seed will be strangers in a land that is not theirs, and they will be enslaved and oppressed 400 years.”
[FN-5] Significantly, the ninth plague was such intense darkness in Egypt for three days that nothing could be seen (Exodus 10:21-29). It was the next (tenth) plague that changed Pharaoh’s mind. Consider two theological implications of the ninth plague– (1) Yeshua was in the tomb three days, a time in which the Light of the world (John 8:12, 9:5) was taken from the earth. (2) Without Yeshua’s Light, man is plunged into such intense darkness of sin that he cannot see the truth. Yeshua is the way, the truth, and the life (John 14:6). It is truth that sets us free (John 8:32).
CONCLUSION: Through the RRs for today and the next two Sundays, I hope all Shomair congregants will appreciate how God has prepared His people for the blood sacrifice of Yeshua, using common food items of bread and wine. Actually, the preparation began even earlier, when God accepted shepherd Abel’s sacrifice but rejected farmer Cain’s sacrifice (Genesis, chapter 4). Abel’s acceptable sacrifice required the shedding of blood (Hebrews 9:22b): … apart from the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness.
I will continue this series of God’s announcements made through Communion elements next Sunday. Shalom and Maranatha.