Passover is a time to remember how Yeshua became our Passover Lamb. It fills me with great joy to know that Yeshua rose as firstfruits from the dead and to realize this was the fulfillment of the Day of Firstfruits (Yom HaBikkuriym)! It’s now time to Count the Omer for the next 50 days!
Acts 1:3 tells us that during a forty day period after His resurrection, Yeshua presented Himself alive to the apostles He had chosen and spoke to them about the kingdom of God. In Matthew 28:19-20, while Yeshua was with the apostles in Galilee, He told them to go and: “make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” These verses are often called the Great Commission.
During the time Yeshua’s 12 disciples walked with Him, Yeshua taught them the Scriptures just as other rabbis taught Torah to their disciples. The only difference was that Yeshua taught based on His own authority instead of quoting the teachings of other rabbis. Yeshua wanted the 12 to pass on His teachings and commands to others.
At some point, the disciples left Galilee and returned to Jerusalem. In Acts 1:4-8, Yeshua told them not to depart from Jerusalem until they were baptized with the Holy Spirit, which would give them the power they needed to be Yeshua’s witnesses throughout the earth. They were filled with the Spirit on the 50th day – on the Day of Pentecost (Yom Shavuot). When that happened, Yeshua kept the promise He made to His disciples in John 14:17-18. Yeshua did not leave them as orphans; He came to dwell with and in them in the form of the Holy Spirit. Not only would the Spirit empower them to do great things, the Spirit would cause them to remember what Yeshua had explained to them.
Previous to Yeshua’s death, in Matthew 24, Yeshua spoke with His disciples about the sign of His coming and the end of the age. He spoke of wars and rumors of wars, famines, diseases, and earthquakes; we are experiencing this more than any time in the past. Those who believe in the Messiah are literally losing their heads because of their faith and because of the hatred of their enemies. Torah-lessness is rampant and it is hard to believe that we will be able to endure to the end and be rescued from barbarianism. Meanwhile, efforts are being made to preach the gospel of the kingdom to every nation, language, and people group.
Despite these efforts, we are not quite yet to the very end of days. There are more events that must take place that are explained in the book of Revelation and in several other portions of Scripture. We need to understand that there will be false messiahs and prophets that will show really powerful signs in order to lead people away from the true Messiah. We must be knowledgeable and equipped to test everything so we won’t be led astray in these last days.
Because of the tetrad of blood moons timed during the feasts of 2014-2015, our minds are occasionally focused on the last days. People are pondering the significance of the blood moons while knowing that at some point the sun will become dark; the moon won’t shine; the stars will fall from heaven; and the heavens will be shaken. At some point, the Son of Man will finally come with power and glory on the clouds with His angels to gather His elect together.
Before that time comes, we need to get back to the task of Matthew 28:19-20 that Yeshua gave His disciples:
- A – Instruct (matheteuo) all nations;
- B – Baptize them in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit;
- A’ – Teach them to observe what Yeshua commanded His disciples.
These two verses form a simple chiasm or concentric structure.
Let’s start with A and A’. We have a few problems here; we’ve sat under mixed teaching for so long that not everyone is properly equipped to teach or discern truth. Some of what we have been taught is correct but some of it isn’t. We need to test everything we’ve ever been taught and untangle ourselves from this unholy mixture so we can correctly observe Torah (which is what Yeshua taught) and properly instruct the nations.
You know, the people of Yeshua’s time had a similar problem. Oral traditions had been added to written Torah and were a burden too great to bear. If that wasn’t bad enough, the spiritual leaders of the day were not leading by a correct example; they would say one thing, yet do another (Matthew 23:2-4). Yeshua had to properly teach Torah (His easy yoke) to His disciples so they could go and properly instruct the nations. Fortunately, there were some people like the Bereans who searched the Scriptures daily to see if what they were being taught was true. Everyone needs to be like them.
As we shed the lies we once accepted, learn what truth is, and put it all into practice, we need to pass that truth on to others by whatever means we have available. This is not easy because:
- People’s ears don’t want to hear the truth;
- They have been deceived and blinded by what sounds good and reasonable;
- They often like their traditions and often don’t want to let go of them.
We need to pray for the eyes of the blind and ears of the deaf to be opened so they can see, hear, and receive truth; and be willing to obey it.
Now let’s look at part B of our chiasm: baptizing people “in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.” In the Christian churches, these are the words used when pastors baptize people. When did using this phrase start? Is that really Scriptural? Have you ever even thought about that?
How did the disciples do this in the book of Acts? What name did they baptize with?
- Acts 2:38: “Then Peter said to them, “Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.”
- Acts 8:16: “For as yet He [the Spirit] had fallen upon none of them. They had only been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.”
- Acts 19:5: “When they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.”
As we carry out the Great Commission, we must not forget that we are in the last days. We need to make sure we are abiding in Yeshua the way He abided in the Father. That means we need to learn how to obey Torah as it was originally intended. It’s not a bunch of principles to obey as we see fit either; Torah is often very specific and we need to accept that! We need to obey it like Yeshua did in His time and apply it to our present day culture as best we can. Don’t think Torah was abolished because of the cross or because of faith. In Romans 3:31, Paul said Torah was not abolished (made void) because of faith; he established Torah.
Once we are back on track, we need to revisit the Great Commission. We need to know what the apostles did and how they did it. It should come as no surprise to us that they traveled and wrote letters! Today, some may be called to travel to other nations but others may be called to use technology such as email, the internet, and social media to reach people beyond their physical locations.
Now that we have a viable means of obeying this commandment, let’s take a closer look at the book of Acts to see that the apostles did several things “in the name of Jesus” [Yeshua]:
- They healed people (Acts 3:6)
- They taught people even though they were forbidden to do so (Acts 4:18-19)
- Paul preached boldly (Acts 9:29)
- Paul commanded a spirit to come out of a girl who had been fortune-telling (Acts 16:18).
- Paul gave instructions to deliver one to Satan for the destruction of the flesh so his spirit might be saved in the day of the Lord (1 Cor. 5:4-5)
The also commanded that things be done in the name of Yeshua:
- They commanded their readers to give thanks to the Father (Eph. 5:20))
- They commanded their readers to withdraw from every brother who walks disorderly and not according to the ordinances (paradosis) they had received (2 Thessalonians 3:6).
- They told those who were sick to go to the elders of the assembly in order to be anointed and prayed over (James 5:14).
- They encouraged everyone to believe in the name of the Son of God [Yeshua] for eternal life (1 John 5:13).
Bearing these things in mind, let us ask the Father in the name of Yeshua to give us the power and authority we need to do what the apostles did. Let’s make sure that we are reaping a good healthy harvest and not a harvest of diseased tares. Let’s make sure that this harvest is properly conforming itself to the Way, Truth, and Life who is the Firstfruits from the dead. As we do these things, we need to keep watching the signs that we see around us so that we will know how much closer we are getting to Yeshua’s return.