Hope Of Israel Ministries (Ecclesia of YEHOVAH):
Should We Celebrate BOTH Passover and "the Lord's Supper" -- and How Often Should We Partake of the Foot-Washing Ceremony?
Who should partake of the Passover? What about unconverted people? Also since Yeshua and his disciples ate "the Lord's supper" the night before the Passover, should we also observe "the Lord's Supper" the night before Passover? Is this what Yeshua the Messiah intends and desires? Is there a Bible command that we should observe "the Lord's supper"? Or is this "adding to" the Word of YEHOVAH God? And what about the "foot-washing" ceremony? How often -- and when -- should we observe this? Or is it merely figurative?
by HOIM Staff
Some, in their great personal desire to be teachers, and to be looked up to, have rejected the government of YEHOVAH God, and have concluded that they can worship YEHOVAH as "independent Christians" and proceed to teach others their own ideas and doctrines, purporting that they are Biblical in origin. Half-baked, cracked ideas often in such manner become customs and observances by themselves, their friends, and anybody else whom they can convince to "follow them."
I have warned YEHOVAH's people repeatedly to beware of friends, or former friends, and associates who leave the fellowship of YEHOVAH's true "church," and begin teaching their own ideas and spiritual heresies. But often it seems such warnings fall on DEAF EARS. As a result, the blind wind up following the blind to their own peril and eventual destruction!
A year ago a man left the fellowship of YEHOVAH's true Work, and His true people, and began to teach heresy. At that time, he made an issue of the question "who should partake of the Passover." He insisted that only baptized Christians, with YEHOVAH God's holy spirit, should ever partake of the Passover. He began teaching this error without my permission, on his own, quoting Scriptures out of context, and convinced one man not to partake of the Passover last year.
This year he has come up with a new brain-storm -- which is not really "new," entirely, but is a viewpoint held by the "House of Yahweh" sect in Texas, and possibly by others. They observe what they call "Yashua's Memorial" on the night of the 14th of Nisan, at its beginning, and then observe what they call "Passover" on Nisan 15th.
This particular individual, however, in a recent article entitled Passover Or the Lord's Supper? -- Why Not Both? goes even further. He claims that in all the Bible there is only one description of how to observe the Passover -- in Exodus 12. So he says we should not only keep the Passover at the end of the 14th of Nisan, and beginning of Nisan 15, but that in order to do so properly we must slay a goat or sheep at home in the afternoon of Nisan 14, roast it with fire, daub the blood on the lintels of the front door of our homes, and then eat it, staff in hand, with bitter herbs and unleavened bread!
Should We Kill the Passover at Our Homes, Today?
Does this reasoning sound bizarre? It should! It is very strange -- yet some are gullible enough to accept it, and fall for it -- just as Eve fell for Satan's "line" in the garden of Eden!
The individual who advocates this view wrote:
"Christians and Jews, alike, have forsaken the true Passover today. Christians are to keep the Lord's Supper at the beginning of the 14th of Nisan as well as slaying the Passover on the afternoon of the 14th of Nisan at approximately the same time the Lamb of God was slain for our sins...Then the lamb is roasted several hours, eaten after sundown on the beginning of the 15th with bitter herbs, staff in hand, looking and watching for the return of the Lord."
Can you believe it? He goes on to add:
"I BELIEVE THAT IT IS VITAL THAT [WE] HAVE THAT BLOOD ON THE LINTEL AND DOOR POST THIS YEAR!" (p. 3, Passover or the Lord's Supper? Why Not Both?).
How easy it is for the unlearned and unscholarly -- the ignorant and those desiring to exalt themselves to positions of teachers -- to go astray! I am astonished at how easy it is for such people to manipulate and twist the Scriptures -- and how easy it is for them to get otherwise sensible and once converted Christians to forsake the truth and to follow them, and even help them do the "dirty work" of their so-called "ministry"!
If this sounds "strong" to some of you, it is meant to be "strong." Such men are in the condition the apostle Paul warned about -- "But evil men and seducers shall wax worse and worse, deceiving and being deceived" (II Timothy 3:13). But "we are not as many, which corrupt the word of God: but as of sincerity, but as of God, in the sight of God speak we in Christ" (II Corinthians 2:17). "But having renounced the hidden things of dishonesty, not walking in craftiness, nor handling the word of God deceitfully; but by manifestation of the truth commending ourselves to every man's conscience in the sight of God" (II Corinthians 4:2).
Those guilty of vain posturing and deceitful, crafty teaching, will find themselves one day in the lake of fire. Sadly, those who follow them will also suffer the same fate! Therefore, brethren, it behooves us to take these matters seriously, and "Prove ALL things," remembering where you learned the truth (I Thessalonians 5:21). As Paul said, we must "work out our OWN salvation with fear and trembling" (Philemon 2:12). Just as Paul prophesied, so it has happened once again, and some are being led astray. Paul warned: "I know that after I have gone, savage wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock. Some even of your own group will come distorting the truth in order to entice the disciples to follow them" (Acts 20:29-30). Sadly, the sheep of YEHOVAH's pasture seem all too ready to be "fleeced," picked apart, and seduced. They are all to willing to make "friends" of wolves, who come disguised as "sheep." They love the personality, friendship, and camaraderie. Not realizing that their own eternal life is hanging in the balance!
Since these questions have come up, and some are in doubt of the truth, let's answer them one at a time. First, should Christians really slay a lamb on the afternoon of Nisan 14, just like the original Passover in Egypt, during the time of Moses? Have the Jews gone astray by keeping a Passover "seder" (which means "setting forth") or dinner, explaining the history of the day, instead of each family killing a lamb and roasting it, at home?
The author of the above nonsense has failed to appreciate the FULL Word of YEHOVAH God on this subject, and completely ignores the fact that YEHOVAH God Himself, after this first Passover, later COMMANDS HIS PEOPLE NOT TO KILL THE PASSOVER AT HOME! In fact, YEHOVAH FORBIDS His people to do this, on pain of excommunication and DEATH!
Notice! YEHOVAH God says in plain language:
"Thou shalt therefore sacrifice the passover unto the LORD thy God...in the place which the LORD thy God shall choose to place his name there" (Deuteronomy 16:2).
"THOU MAYEST NOT SACRIFICE THE PASSOVER WITHIN ANY OF THY GATES [i.e., AT HOME!], which the LORD thy God giveth thee: But AT THE PLACE WHICH THE LORD THY GOD SHALL CHOOSE TO PLACE HIS NAME IN, THERE THOU SHALT SACRIFICE THE PASSOVER at even, at the going down of the sun, at the season that thou camest forth out of Egypt" (Deuteronomy 16:5-6).
YEHOVAH God absolutely FORBIDS His people to kill the Passover at their own homes, or locations. He made it perfectly clear that the Passover was ONLY to be killed at the tabernacle or Temple of YEHOVAH God -- the place where He put His name! Since there is no Temple in existence today, then the Passover must not be sacrificed. However, the Passover dinner -- called a 'seder'can still be observed, since YEHOVAH commanded that the Passover be observed forever (Exodus 12:14-16). And that is what the Jewish families do every year at the designated or appointed time.
It is really strange how once people begin to "go off" into the hinterland of error and false teaching, that they plunge recklessly with abandon into the brambles and briars of confusion, and sow discord and cause dissension, among the people of YEHOVAH God. They begin with a little bit of error, which doesn't seem too dangerous to others, who may see it. But they begin to go off into greater and more ludicrous error and sin, and those who accompany them, and who associate with them, and who assist them in their evil work, become "blindsided" by the error, and blinded to their own error by commiserating with such false teachers, and aiding their efforts.
Like the frog that is put into tepid water, they sense no danger. Although they could jump out of the pot, it seems comfortable. As the heat is slowly turned up, they don't sense any peril. They feel pleasant, swimming around in the pot, as the temperature increases, with the heat causing a certain lethargy to their movements. Finally, when the water begins to boil, they have become numb and listless -- their energy is gone, dissipated -- and it is too late. Unable to save themselves, they boil to death -- and they die!
That's the way it is with false doctrines, and associating with false teachers. I urge all YEHOVAH's people to have nothing to do with such snakes in the grass! They are not as mild-mannered and "friendly" as they may appear on the surface! BEWARE of them!
This particular individual first began to go astray over the question of who should partake of the Passover. About a year ago, he came up with the teaching that only baptized Christians should participate. But is this necessarily true? Who really should partake of the Passover, anyway?
Who Should Partake of the Passover?
"Should a person uncircumcised in heart take the Passover?" This question was asked of me by a man who send me a letter, trying to prove that only Christians who have YEHOVAH God's holy spirit should partake of the Passover! Who should partake of YEHOVAH's Passover? And just what does YEHOVAH mean when He inspires the apostle Paul to write that none should partake of the "bread and wine" symbolizing the body and blood of the Messiah "unworthily"? Was Paul even talking about the "Passover"?
There have been shrouds and cobwebs of confusion regarding the Passover, just what it is, and who should and should not partake of it!
First of all, let us be specific, and be sure of what we are discussing. Just what do we mean by the expression, "uncircumcised in heart"? The Passover was and is a "festival of the LORD." As such, it was commanded to be celebrated by ALL ISRAEL -- men, women and children -- as a FAMILY affair (Exodus 12:3-4). Many of the Israelites were not "converted" -- that is, they were a rebellious people -- yet they were indeed commanded to celebrate the Passover and festivals of YEHOVAH God.
However, there was a distinction made in Old Covenant times between "Israel" and their uncircumcised Gentile, pagan neighbors. YEHOVAH God commanded: "This is the ordinance of the passover: There shall no stranger eat thereof: But every man's servant that is bought for money, when thou hast circumcised him, then shall he eat thereof. A foreigner and an hired servant shall not eat thereof...And when a stranger shall sojourn with thee, and will keep the passover to the LORD, let all his males be circumcised, and then let him come near and keep it; and he shall be as one that is born in the land: for no uncircumcised person shall eat thereof" (Exodus 13:43-48).
In the Old Testament times, then, spiritual circumcision of the heart was not required -- only physical circumcision, which implied that the person so circumcised had willingly chosen to become identified with "Israel," and had accepted the covenant YEHOVAH God made with Israel.
However, in New Testament times, the apostle Paul plainly showed that physical circumcision is not required to become a truly converted Christian, and to enter into the New Covenant relationship with the Messiah as our personal Saviour. Paul explained, "For circumcision verily profiteth, if thou keep the law: but if thou be a breaker of the law, thy circumcision is made uncircumcision. Therefore if the uncircumcision keep the righteousness of the law, shall not his uncircumcision be counted for circumcision? And shall not uncircumcision which is by nature, if it fulfill the law, judge thee, who by the letter and circumcision dost transgress the law? For he is not a Jew which is one outwardly; neither is that circumcision, which is outward in the flesh: But he is a Jew, which is one INWARDLY; and [true] circumcision is that of the HEART, in the SPIRIT, and not in the letter; whose praise is not of men, but of God" (Romans 2:25-29).
Understand this! The disciples of the Messiah kept the Passover with him each year, no doubt, although they had not yet received the spirit of YEHOVAH God as a begettal (John 7:37-39), which did not come upon them until the day of Pentecost in 31 A.D., after the Messiah's ascension to heaven (Acts 1:8-10, 2:1-6). Of course, they were physically circumcised, but not yet circumcised "in heart," by the reception of the spirit of YEHOVAH God as a begettal. Nevertheless, no doubt the spirit of YEHOVAH God was working with them, as they were "disciples" or "learners" of the Messiah, and followers of him, although not yet begotten.
Since Yeshua observed the Passover with them, even though they were not yet converted, this example should tell us something. It shows us that it is permissible for a person who has not yet been baptized and received the Holy Spirit of YEHOVAH God to partake of the Passover, so long as they are a sincere disciple and student of the Word of YEHOVAH God, sincerely seeking YEHOVAH's way!
The question is, then, who should not partake of the Passover? What about one who is a follower and supporter of the truth of YEHOVAH God, but not yet "baptized," and not yet a recipient of the "spirit of God" as a begettal (Acts 2:28, 5:32)? As we have seen, the twelve disciples would fit into this category -- and Yeshua allowed them to partake of the Passover with him during his ministry.
However, on the other hand, it is obvious that no one should partake of the Passover if they are a carnal, unconverted, uncircumcised unbeliever, whose attitude would be one of hostility, disbelief, ridicule, scorn, and outright disobedience to YEHOVAH God. Such a person would make a mockery of the Passover, and should definitely not be invited -- even if he or she is a family member! YEHOVAH God says in His Word, "For this reason the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God; it does not submit to God's law -- indeed it cannot, and those who are in the flesh cannot please God" (Romans 8:7, NRSV).
However, one of the purposes of YEHOVAH God's festivals is to draw people to Him, and His way of life -- not to reject them or put them off. In other words, if a person is truly seeking YEHOVAH God, and His truth, and has shown by the evidence that he or she supports the Work of YEHOVAH God, and believes His Word -- even though they have not yet been physically "baptized" -- such a person is on the pathway to becoming circumcised in heart, and in the process of becoming converted. Such a person should not be categorically, summarily rejected from participating in the Passover! Yeshua himself set us an example in this matter. Yeshua kept Passover with his disciples who were mere learners of the truth and his students, at the time, and they did not yet fully understand his purpose and teachings, and had not yet received the holy spirit (John 7:37-39; Acts 2:1-2).
The Passover and Holy Days may be observed by those who are becoming true Christians, and learning YEHOVAH's way, if in their own heart they desire to obey YEHOVAH and participate in this manner. Consider the example of Daniel. His example should help us understand this principle. The prophet Daniel was told, "Do not fear, Daniel, for from the first day that you SET YOUR MIND to gain understanding and to humble yourself before your God, your words have been HEARD, and I have come because of your words" (Daniel 10:12). In other words, from the time a person begins to humble themselves, and to earnestly seek YEHOVAH's way, YEHOVAH will hear their prayers -- and such people may participate in the observance of the Passover.
The key is the heart. If one is truly seeking YEHOVAH God, then he is entitled to partake of the wonderful feast of the Passover dinner with all its symbolism and trappings. In fact, such an occasion may well help lead a new person or beginner into the family of YEHOVAH God, being a wonderful witness and experience for them, such as they have never before enjoyed or experienced. What better way is there to introduce a new person to the wonderful meaning of the Passover with all its rich heritage and spiritual symbolism and significance?
The Passover is a festival which YEHOVAH God especially designed for "children" to be taught and to learn the truth. YEHOVAH expressly tells us, "And when your children ask you, 'What do you mean by this observance?' you shall say, 'It is the passover sacrifice to the LORD . . .'" (Exodus 12:26-27). In fact, YEHOVAH God declares plainly of the Passover, "You shall observe this rite as a perpetual ordinance for you and your children" (v.24). Children are a vital, integral part of the Passover!
Even so, spiritual children, and babes in the Messiah, and those who are just beginning YEHOVAH's way, who are however not yet baptized or converted, may partake of the Passover so long as they sincerely desire to do so, and have an excellent attitude, like that of Daniel, and are seeking the truth of YEHOVAH God and to obey His laws.
Confusion over the "Lord's Supper"
What about the "Lord's Supper"? Should it be observed in addition to the Passover, the night before, as an annual memorial?
Much confusion, I believe, regarding this subject stems from a vital misunderstanding of Yeshua's final night with his disciples. Let's notice this carefully. First, of all, in the book of John, we note that this final meal Yeshua held with his disciples was itself not the Passover. John plainly states, "Now BEFORE the feast of the passover, when Jesus knew that his hour was come that he should depart out of this world unto the Father...And supper being ended [or, "And supper about to be served," as the original Greek means]...Jesus...riseth from supper ("table" in some translations), and laid aside his garments; and took a towel, and girded himself. After that he poureth water into a basin, and began to wash the disciples' feet, and to wipe them with the towel wherewith he was girded" (John 13:1-5).
Notice! We know the Bible does not contradict itself (John 10:35). YEHOVAH's Word is pure truth (John 17:17). As David wrote, "The words of the LORD are pure words: as silver tried in a furnace of earth, purified seven times" (Psalm 12:6).
This same evening Yeshua gave his disciples the bread, after supper, saying, "Take, eat, this is my body" (Matthew 26:26), and wine, saying, "Drink ye all of it; for this is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins" (v.27-28). This bread and wine ceremony is reiterated in Mark and Luke's account, but was left out by the apostle John!
Matthew, Mark and Luke mention the bread and wine -- but they nowhere call this "the Lord's supper." Luke does call it a "supper," however, not the Passover "feast" (Luke 22:20). John specifically mentions a "supper" that night, and calls it a "supper" -- not does not call it "the Lord's supper" as such (John 13:2, 4).
Why does the Word of YEHOVAH God give us these different viewpoints of that final night? There must be a reason!
Let's now turn to the words of the apostle Paul who described this event. Paul wrote about a special time when the people came together for an assembly, or church services, but had problems. He declared: "For first of all, when ye come together in the church, I hear that there be divisions among you; and I partly believe it. For there must be also heresies among you, that they which are approved may be made manifest among you" (I Corinthians 11:18-19).
We have the same kind of problems, today! Now that the Worldwide Church of God is splitting apart, and numerous groups and churches are forming out of its ashes, much controversy has arisen over doctrinal questions, questions of church government, and over observances! Everybody it seems has an opinion on something! Divisions are rife and rampant. "Whom the devil seeks to conquer, he first seeks to divide." How true that maxim is!
Paul goes on: "When ye come together therefore into one place, this is not to eat the Lord's supper. For in eating every one taketh before other his own supper: and one is hungry, and another is drunken. What? have ye not houses to eat and drink it? or despise ye the church of God, and shame them that have not?" (v.20-22). Paul was disgusted with their behavior. But notice two things about this assembly. First, Paul plainly said it was NOT "THE LORD'S SUPPER"! Yet that is precisely what many churches "call" it, today! In the paper I received, the author says "Passover AND Lord's Supper -- Why Not Both?" Yet Paul here, plainly says the assembly when Christians partake of "bread and wine" is NOT THE "LORD'S SUPPER"!
Therefore, let's not call it what it isn't! But just what is this special "bread and wine" ceremony Yeshua instituted for the Church, then? Notice!
The Mystery of the KIDDUSH
Paul asserted: "For I have received of the Lord that which I also delivered unto you, That the Lord Jesus the same night in which he was betrayed took bread: And when he had given thanks, he brake it, and said, Take, eat: this is my body, which is broken for you: this do in remembrance of me.
"After the same manner also he took the cup, when he had supped, saying, This cup is the new testament in my blood: this do ye, AS OFT AS YE DRINK IT, in remembrance of me. For as often as ye eat this bread and drink this cup, ye do shew the Lord's death till he come" (v. 23-26).
First of all, let's notice two things here: 1) Although Yeshua used the dinner on the night after the 13th of Nisan had ended to give his disciples this new understanding of the bread and wine -- the very night he was "betrayed" by Judas Iscariot -- HE NEVER COMMANDED US TO OBSERVE THAT NIGHT AS A "MEMORIAL FOREVER"!
Instead, as the apostle Paul shows here, we are to partake of this special symbolical bread and wine ceremony "OFTEN" during the year! He said specifically, "as oft as ye drink it," and "as OFTEN AS ye eat this bread and drink this cup." This language implies it would be something we should do OFTEN during the year, because every time we do it, "we show the Lord's death till He comes." It is a spiritual REMINDER of the sacrifice of Yeshua the Messiah for our sins. It is something we should do OFTEN, therefore, to keep us in the right attitude! This same expression "as often as" is used also in Revelation 11 where the apostle John writes that the "two witnesses" will smite the earth with plagues "as often as they will" (Revelation 11:6). It literally means often -- the precise number of time is not given, because it is left up to the church, and assembly, to decide those matters for themselves!
But just what is this mysterious "bread and wine" ceremony? Where did it originate?
An Ancient Tradition Dating Back to Melchisedek
What is Paul really talking about here in I Corinthians 11? What was the "bread and wine" ceremony Yeshua observed with his disciples the night before he died? Where did the concept of "bread and wine" come from?
Paul writes, "...the Lord Jesus on the night when he was betrayed took a LOAF of bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and said, 'This is my body that is for you. Do this in remembrance of me.' In the same way he took the cup also, after supper, saying, 'This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me. For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord's death until he comes" (I Corinthians 11:23-26, NRSV).
What is Paul talking about here? Is this the "Passover"? Many have mistakenly thought so. But the truth is, this is NOT the Passover -- it is a special wine and bread ceremony which dates back to the time of Melchizedek, a proto-type of Yeshua the Messiah, who brought forth bread and wine in the days of Abraham after his victory over the Gentile armies who had carried Lot away captive. We read: "And Melchisedek, king of Salem, brought forth bread and wine: and he was the priest of the most high God" (Genesis 14:18).
Yeshua, like Melchizedek, brought forth the bread and wine -- but he added something this time, just before his death, when he offered himself up as our Passover sacrifice (I Corinthians 5:7-8). What did he do? He added new truth -- that is, he gave them new revelation, as to the real meaning and significance of this ancient rite or ceremony!
Yeshua taught the disciples that the bread (Greek artos, a word simply meaning a loaf of bread, generally leavened bread) used in this ceremony actually represents his own body, as he is the "bread of life" (John 6:48, etc.) by which man shall live (Matthew 4:4). The "bread" represents his flesh (John 6:50-51). And the wine? Yeshua said the wine itself represents his own blood shed for us! Thus we are to eat "his flesh" and "drink his blood" as he taught the Jews (John 6:53-56). This truth was too much for most of them to handle, and they left following him (John 6:59-66). But the disciples remained faithful, even though at that time they did not understand completely (John 6:67-69).
This special ceremony was not the "Passover" at all but is called the Ha-Motzi v' Kiddush -- the ancient "bread and wine blessing," or "blessing of the bread and wine" ceremony, often called simply the Kiddush.
It is in reference to THIS ceremony that Paul goes on to write, "Whoever, therefore, eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be answerable for the body and blood of the Lord." He goes on, in a positive vein, "Examine yourselves, and only then EAT of the bread and DRINK of the cup. For all who eat and drink without discerning the body, eat and drink judgment against themselves. For this cause many of you are weak and ill, and some have died. But if we judged ourselves, we would not be judged. But when we are judged by the Lord, we are disciplined so that we may not be condemned along with the world" (verses 27-32).
The question posed in I Corinthians 11 is not about who should partake of the Passover, but who should partake of the Kiddush! The answer is, like the answer for who should partake of the Passover, only those who believe in the symbols the bread and wine represent! All of us are to examine ourselves, and our attitudes, and do so out of a pure heart, in sincerity and truth. If we are sincerely serving YEHOVAH God and seeking to obey Him in all things, and to keep His commandments, then by all means, we should partake.
Of course, if we are knowingly harboring sin, which is lawlessness in our heart and life (I John 3:4), in that case we should not partake, but first go before YEHOVAH God, and repent, and seek YEHOVAH's forgiveness (I John 1:8-9). Then we should partake, in faith and with full confidence in the Messiah. A non-believer, however, should not partake.
Isn't this clear?
How often should we partake of this special ceremony, rich with blessing and meaning? Our article, Are We Neglecting the Sacred Fellowship Meal? answers many questions about the "Kiddush" and how often we partake of it.
In general, however, the answer is, WE SHOULD PARTAKE OFTEN THROUGHOUT THE YEAR! This was NEVER intended to be an "ANNUAL MEMORIAL" occasion, but a celebration of the symbols of the Messiah's body and blood given for us which we are to do OFTEN!
And, to be blunt about it, this ceremony was NEVER called "The Lord's Supper"! It is NOT a "supper." That's why Paul plainly said, when the church came together to celebrate this occasion, that he said "THIS IS NOT TO EAT THE LORD'S SUPPER" (I Corinthians 11:20).
Furthermore, this was not intended to be and NEVER WAS an "annual" event!
Should We Celebrate the "Lord's Supper"?
Since the "Kiddush" is not and never was "the Lord's supper," but a special ceremony which was observed before supper the night before the Passover, a ceremony which dates back to the time of Abraham and Melchisedek, at least, then the question arises: Should true Christians celebrate something called "the Lord's supper" the night before Passover, in honor, I suppose, of that night when Yeshua was betrayed?
Now, stop and think: Does that make any sense? Should we celebrate the NIGHT the demons danced for joy? Should we celebrate the night of Satan's greatest victory, when he got Judas Iscariot to betray Yeshua the Messiah, the chosen Son of YEHOVAH God, in the most dastardly deed ever done in the history of humankind?
Wouldn't that be like an American celebrating December 7, "Pearl Harbor day," the day the Japanese fleet bombed Pearl Harbor and killed thousands of Americans in one sneak attack? Or like celebrating the terrorist attack that destroyed the Twin Towers in New York?
What a horrible thought!
The night of Yeshua' betrayal is not a holy night. It is not a part of a Biblical "holy day." The 14th of Nisan is simply called "the preparation" of the Passover -- it was a normal "work" day. But also it was a day of putting out leavening -- a type of sin -- just before the Feast of Unleavened Bread, which began with the 15th of Nisan.
Should true Christians celebrate this day, or hold a "dinner" at the beginning of Nisan 14, in imitation of the Messiah's "Last Supper," merely because the Messiah and the disciples held a final dinner on it? Obviously, there is no Biblical COMMAND to do it. Yeshua never commanded it. Nor did Paul or the apostles. There is NO RECORD that THEY ever observed such a meal or dinner as a memorial occasion every year at the beginning of Nisan 14 -- or even once!
What, then? Should we take it upon ourselves to do it, because it "seems nice"? Should we do it, because we are unable to resolve the conflict between when the Passover really occurs -- on Nisan 14th? or 15th?
The answer is -- the Passover is plainly on Nisan 15. Neither Yeshua the Messiah nor the apostles observed the night of Nisan 14, either as a holy meal, a holy time, a holy day, or any such thing! Their final meal was just that -- a final "going-away" type of dinner -- a "farewell" dinner -- a time for final instructions, and tying up loose ends, as it were. It was not and never was intended to be a memorial service ordained and commanded for ever! Yeshua NEVER commanded such an annual event!
Frankly, to "add" a "solemn" dinner or another "festive meal" to YEHOVAH God's Plan, the night before Passover, is forbidden by the Word of YEHOVAH God. It is "taboo." It is going "off" and doing what "seems" right to a man. Such a thing is in reality a subtle and cunning invention of the devil. Why? Because such a meal detracts from the awesome meaning of the Passover itself.
It is wrong to diminish the majesty and glory of Passover by holding an unsanctioned, uccommanded religious service or meal the night before Passover, as an additional uncommanded "observance."
Stop and think. What does that night portray? What happened that night? That was the night of the "long knives" -- the night of awesome betrayal and treachery! It was the night of infamy when Yeshua was betrayed in a fiendish act of insuperable treachery by the traitor Judah Iscariot! Should we celebrate on that night, before Passover? Absolutely NOT!
Such an event would essentially honor Satan, the god of this world, and diminish the awesomeness and meaning of YEHOVAH God's Holy Day -- the Passover, celebrated on Nisan 15. Yeshua the Messiah was our PASSOVER LAMB (I Corinthians 5:7). He was slain at the very time the Jews were slaying the Passover lambs at the Temple, in the afternoon of Nisan 15 -- the appointed time (Exodus 12:6). He died when the lambs were dying. He perfectly fulfilled the Passover typology! That is the event we are commanded to celebrate on Nisan 15 at the Passover dinner!
Why, then, do people want to ADD a night to YEHOVAH God's Holy Calendar, a "celebration" or "dinner" which YEHOVAH nowhere commands or sanctions, and which He has nowhere "blessed" or "set apart"? Such a deed, while it may look appealing to human nature, and seem "good" on the surface, when we dig a little deeper, we find Satan lurking there with a fiendish gleam in his eye, as he seduces yet more people into error! Such a celebration is not "Yeshua's Memorial" -- it is Satan's memorial! In effect it memorializes the night of his great achievement and "victory"! It is commemorating Satan the devil's greatest "victory" night -- the night the demons howled for delirious joy and abandon the night of terrible treachery and savage betrayal.
What does Almighty God and Yeshua the Messiah think about such an observance? Do they think it doesn't really matter? Do they think that is would be "all right," if we want to do it? Is this the way to resolve conflicts -- a judicious "compromise"? Should we just "keep both"?
Solomon warned: "There is a way which seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of DEATH" (Proverbs 14:12). Such a thing is the "WAY OF DEATH!" Again, Solomon wrote: "There is a way that seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of DEATH" (Proverbs 16:25). TWICE YEHOVAH God gives us this red-light warning! Furthermore, YEHOVAH God says, "Abstain from all appearance of evil" (I Thessalonians 5:22). Don't even get close to the cliff!
YEHOVAH God warns us in His Word that we must NOT seek to ADD to His way, His law, His covenant, our own ideas for observances:
"Ye shall not ADD unto the words which I command you, neither shall ye diminish ought from it, that ye may keep the commandments of the LORD your God which I command you" (Deut. 4:2).
Isn't that plain language? By inserting another "observance" on the night of the beginning of Nisan 14 is violating this plain and straight-forward commandment of YEHOVAH God. By so doing, we fall right into Satan's trap. Satan seeks to first add his own ideas to YEHOVAH's Word; then he seeks to replace YEHOVAH's word with his celebrations! So at first, he removed the weekly Sabbath from the lunar calendar; then he gradually "weaned" the Church away from the Sabbath altogether! He "added" Easter to celebrate the "resurrection" of the Messiah; it seemed so natural, that most of the church fell for it. Then he "purged" the Passover from their observance, replacing it with "Easter"! That is how the subtle devil works and weaves his "magic." That is why it is very important that we take seriously this commandment of YEHOVAH God, and ADD NOTHING to what He commands us!
The Mystery of the Foot-washing
Now, let's go on to another question which has been raised -- Should true Christians on the night of Nisan 14 wash one another's feet, once a year? Since we have seen that the "Lord's supper" was exactly that -- his supper, with his disciples, and not an observance we should try to emulate and place into the religious calendar -- it should be obvious that we should not keep the "foot-washing" at that time. On the other hand, should we do it every time we have a "Kiddush"?
When should the "foot-washing" ceremony be done? How often, and when, should Christians do the foot-washing ceremony? Or is this just figurative language Yeshua used to teach us a lesson to always remain in a humble attitude?
Let's notice the account. We read: "And supper being ended...He riseth from supper, and laid aside his garments; and took a towel, and girded himself. After that he poureth water into a basin, and began to wash the disciples' feet" (John 13:2-4, KJV). Notice! Yeshua rose from the supper table, poured water into a basin, and began to wash the feet of all his disciples. This was actually BEFORE supper -- not when supper was "ended." The Greek for "ended" here is #1096 in Strong's Concordance and is ginomai which means "to be made," "to become," "to happen," "be brought to pass," "be performed," etc. in a future sense. This verse should be translated: "And supper about to be served."
This foot-washing ceremony was done when the supper was "about to be served." It was not done DURING or AFTER supper! We will see why later in this article.
When Yeshua began to wash Peter's feet, Peter remonstrated, saying he didn't need to wash his feet (v.6-8). Yeshua said, "If I wash thee not, thou hast no part with me" (v.8). Peter replied, "Lord, not my feet only, but also my hands and my head" (v.9). Yeshua answered: "He that is washed needeth not save to wash his feet, but is clean every whit: and YE ARE CLEAN, but not all. For he knew who should betray him; therefore said he, Ye are not all clean" (v.10-11).
After he had washed their feet, and sat down again, he asked them, "Know ye what I have done to you? Ye call me Master and Lord; and ye say well, for so I am. If I then, your Lord and Master, have washed your feet; ye also ought to wash one another's feet. For I HAVE GIVEN YOU AN EXAMPLE, THAT YE SHOULD DO AS I HAVE DONE TO YOU. Verily, verily, I say unto you, The servant is not greater than his lord; neither he that is sent greater than he that sent him. If ye know these things, happy are ye if ye do them" (John 13:12-17).
Notice! Yeshua gave a very direct COMMAND that we should do as he did -- and wash one another's feet! He set us a literal EXAMPLE in this regard! This was not figurative language, but a plain and direct command, a simple "thus-saith-the-Lord." We ought not to quibble about it, or question it, but OBEY it!
When, then, should this act be performed? Should it be done the evening before Passover -- that is, on the beginning of Nisan 14? First of all, in answer to that question, Yeshua did not command us to do it that evening. He just said, "Do it"! He said we would be "happy" or "blessed" if we do it, and follow his example. Since he did not command observance of any dinner that evening, or institute any such observance, we should not superimpose one on our own authority. Therefore, we should not do the "foot-washing" that evening -- it is not a commanded celebration. It would be ridiculous to assemble only for a "foot-washing" ceremony by itself.
But some have wondered, what about doing the foot-washing every time we hold a Kiddush? Wouldn't that be appropriate? Should we keep it every time we hold a "Kiddush"? What did the early church do?
The Two Priesthoods
To answer this we must delve into the history of foot-washing. The foot-washing incident found in John 13 is not an isolated incident without typological significance, but contains a rich historical and theological context that hearkens back to the Old Testament. Its origins can be found in the Levitical priesthood and the brazen laver found at the entrance to the Holy Place in the Temple. When the Messiah washed the disciples feet he then said, in John 13:7, -- "What I am doing, you do not know now, but later you will understand."
The disciples knew it was a test of fellowship (John 13:8), but beyond that they didn't perceive what he was doing because Yeshua's actions involved the transference of priesthoods and, at that point, the disciples saw the Messiah as a prophet and king -- not as a priest. After the Messiah's death on the tree, the reality of his priesthood became apparent to the disciples, and their understanding of this key element matured until it culminated in Paul's Epistle to the Hebrews. As its central theme, Hebrews contrasts the Levitical priesthood and the priesthood of Melchizedek. The Levitical priesthood was the SHADOW of Melchizedek -- the type to the anti-type. Therefore, in order to come to grips with the foot-washing incident found in the New Testament, we need to understand foot-washing among the Levitical priests of the Old.
While it is true that the terms "washing" and "baptism" are different words in the Greek, they are the same in Hebrew! The Greek word baptisma -- which means "to wash" or dip -- is the word from which we get "baptism." In the Greek it is a term that refers to a ceremonial washing (which, incidentally, was not unique to Christianity) as distinguished from usual bathing which is nipto in the Greek. However, in the Old Testament there is no such distinction and the SAME TERM is used to describe both the ceremonial washings of the Levitical priesthood and the mundane task of every day washing (rachats, see Genesis 43:24; Exodus 40:31, etc.).
Now since the language of Palestine was Aramaic (a sister dialect of Hebrew), it would not be wrong to say that John the Baptist was simply known to the people at large as "John the Washer." Yeshua taught in Aramaic; so his words had to be translated into Greek by the original Gospel writers. It is also more than likely that the Epistle to the Hebrews was originally written in Aramaic.
An Extension of Baptism?
With this in mind, the reference in Hebrews 6:2 to the doctrine of BAPTISMS (PLURAL) takes on noticeable significance: It clearly suggests that FOOT-WASHING IS A FOOT BAPTISM, and is a part of the foundation of the elementary principles of the Messiah (Hebrews 6:1). Is it possible that YEHOVAH's Church cannot advance to perfection because by neglecting FOOT BAPTISM, it lacks a completed foundation? Notice Hebrews 6:1-3 :
"Therefore, leaving behind the initial lessons about the Messiah, let us go on to maturity, not laying again the foundation of turning from works that lead to death, trusting God, and instruction about WASHINGS [PLURAL], s'mikhah, the resurrection of the dead and eternal punishment. And, God willing, this is what we will do" (Jewish New Testament).
Now to what other "washings" could Paul have been referring? He could not have been referring to any ritual washings associated with the Pharisees because Yeshua strongly condemned those customs (Mark 7:1-8). The only other "washing" or "baptism" found in the New Testament is the FOOT BAPTISM of John 13!
More than one interpreter of the New Testament has seen, in the foot-washing incident, an clear allusion to forgiveness of post-baptismal sin. Read what John Christopher Thomas says in his ground-breaking work Footwashing in John 13 and the Johannine Community --
"The literary and exegetical analysis has shown that as a sign of preparation for Jesus' departure, the footwashing signifies the disciples' spiritual cleansing for a continued relationship with Jesus. As such, the footwashing functions as an extension of the disciples' baptism in that it signifies continual cleansing from the sin acquired (after baptism) through life in a sinful world. This act then is a sign of continued fellowship with Jesus, but it also functions as a sign of their continued readiness for participation in his mission" (Sheffield Academic Press: Sheffield, England. 1991, p. 150).
Augustine (early Catholic Church Father) affirms that Yeshua was referring to the washing away of sin when he said that the disciples had no need to wash except the feet. In Homilies on John 56.4 he explains John 13:10 by appealing to the sin accumulated on the journey through this life -- notice!
"But what is this? what does it mean? And what is there in it we need to examine? The Lord says, The Truth declares that even he who has been washed [baptized] has need still to wash [baptize] his feet. What, my brethren, what think you of it? Save that in holy baptism a man has all of him washed, not all save his feet, but every whit: and yet, while thereafter living in this human state, he cannot fail to tread on the ground with his feet. And thus our human feelings themselves, which are inseparable from our mortal life on earth, are like feet wherewith we are brought into sensible contact with human affairs; and are so in such a way that if we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us."
Jerome, in a discussion of Isaiah 6, compares Isaiah's need for cleansing his unclean lips with the disciples' need for cleansing their sin-stained feet --
"For example, Our Lord in the Gospel is girt with a towel, He prepares a basin to wash the disciples' feet, He performs the service of a slave. Granted, it is to teach humility, that we may minister to each other in turn. I do not deny that. I do not reject it. What is it that He says to Peter upon his refusal? If I wash not thy feet, thou shalt have no part with me. And he replied: Lord, not only my feet, but also my hands and my head. Because His apostles, as men walking the earth, still had feet stained by the pollution of sin, the Lord being about to ascend to heaven, desires to free them entirely from their transgressions, that the words of the prophet may be applicable to them: How beautiful are the feet of those that preach peace" (Epistle 17A.12).
Clearly, Yeshua's foot-washing removes the stain of sin's pollution accumulated by walking in a sinful world. The washing is also seen as preparation for the disciples' mission. It seems obvious that Jerome has in mind the disciples' POST-BAPTISMAL SIN, for he describes the foot-washing as freeing them entirely from their transgressions -- implying an earlier freeing from sin by John the Baptist's baptism.
In explaining John 13:10-11, Theodore of Mopsuestia affirms that foot-washing removed the sins of the disciples which had been committed AFTER their baptism at the hand of John the Baptist. Notice:
"This is not baptism in remission of sin (which they surely received once for all), neither again is there need for another baptism, for total cleansing is received the first time (it is performed). Now it is needful to wash only their feet in order to cover [sins], which things are committed again [i.e. after baptism] as you well know" (Commentary on the Gospel of John the Apostle 6.26-30).
The disciples' baptism at the hands of John the Baptist designated initial belief and fellowship with the Messiah, whereas footwashing signified the continuance of that belief and fellowship. As a sign of Yeshua's departure, foot-washing signifies the disciples' SPIRITUAL CLEANSING in preparation for both a continuing relationship with the Messiah and for taking on his mission in the world. In light of this, an identification of foot-washing with the cleansing from the sin contracted through daily life in this world is an appropriate one! So Peter (the believer) who experiences baptism -- which signifies a complete cleansing from previous sin -- does not need to be rebaptized but undergoes foot-washing -- which signifies the removal of sin that might accumulate after baptism as a result of living in this sinful world. In this way foot-washing IS AN EXTENSION OF BAPTISM, for it signifies the washing away of post-baptismal sins in Peter's (the believer's) life.
The Levitical Parallel
Notice, now, the parallel with the Levitical washings (baptisms):
"And the LORD said to Moses...And you shall anoint the laver and its base, and sanctify it. Then you shall bring Aaron and his sons to the door of the tabernacle of the congregation, and WASH THEM WITH WATER....
"And he set the laver between the tent of the congregation and the altar, and put water there to wash with it. And Moses and Aaron and his sons WASHED THEIR HANDS AND THEIR FEET at it; when they went into the tent of the congregation, and when they came near to the altar, they washed; as the LORD commanded Moses" (Exodus 40:1, 11-13, 30-33).
Here was the Old Testament foot-washing. It was a BAPTISM reserved for the priests during their service at the Tabernacle, and later at the Temple. This fact immediately establishes the believer's PRIESTLY STATUS in the New Covenant or Testament. Yeshua, the new Moses who has fulfilled all Scripture, has ordained a NEW PRIESTHOOD to replace the old Aaronic priesthood. With Aaron, we find an initial baptism, covering THE ENTIRE BODY (Exodus 40:11-12). Later, he washes his hands and his feet alone in order to minister (Exodus 40:32). Compare this with the Messiah's reply to Peter when he pled for his head, his hands, and his feet to be washed --
"A man who has had a bath [baptism] doesn't need to wash, EXCEPT HIS FEET -- his body is already clean" (John 13:10, JNT).
One of the noticeable differences between the washings of Old Testament priests and New Testament priests is that we no longer wash our hands (hand baptism). Why? Because Old Testament men had unclean hands; they were unrighteous men whose sins were laid up until the release on the Day of Atonement -- once a year. The Messiah's atonement, however, was ONCE FOR ALL TIME! We who follow the Messiah are truly clean, truly righteous. Our hands are clean to exercise dominion upon the earth. In contrast, however, our feet are dirty because the earth awaits redemption. And that redemption cannot take place until the sons of YEHOVAH God are manifested (Romans 8:18-22). The dust (the earth) is the place of Satan's dominion. The Christian crushes the Serpent's (Satan's) head, but the Serpent bites his heel. The dirt (the earth) is unclean because of death. As a result, sin affects the feet ONLY (Gensis 3:14-15).
From this typology we can see that while baptism cleanses the believer and makes him fit to enter the sanctuary, foot-washing makes him fit for ministry (see I Peter 3:21 and the "pledge to keep a good conscience"). Therefore, while full body immersion (baptism) need ONLY OCCUR ONCE as an initiatory rite into the faith, FOOT BAPTISM IS A RITE THAT MUST BE PRACTICED REPEATEDLY! That is WHY Yeshua introduced it during his last meal with his disciples. Since this bread and the wine ceremony (the Kiddush) -- was intended to be practiced regularly, SO TOO WAS FOOT-WASHING!!
The Brazen Laver
Now that we have established that foot-washing is a FOOT BAPTISM that hearkens back to the Levitical priesthood and the ministry in the Tabernacle, let us take a look at the significance of the laver. The laver was a huge tub replaced periodically with clean water from the Gihon Spring below. Notes Smith's Bible Dictionary, it was
"a vessel of brass containing water for the priests to wash their hands and feet before offering sacrifice. It stood in the court between the altar and the door of the tabernacle. Ex. 30:19, 21. It rested on a basis, i.e. a foot, which, as well as the laver itself, was made from the MIRRORS of the women who assembled at the door of the tabernacle court." -- Ex. 38:8.
The brass of the laver and foot or base was so pure it served as a mirror. The Priest could clearly see his reflection in great detail as he washed. The laver provided the Priest with a standard for self-evaluation -- to make certain he was presentable to YEHOVAH God. If he was not properly prepared he would have perished.
That the primary use of the brazen laver was for washing or cleansing is commented on by Arthur W. Pink in his book Gleanings in Exodus --
"There is therefore no difficulty at all in perceiving the spiritual meaning of the holy vessel which is now before us [the laver]:...The laver tells of the need of cleansing if communion with God is to be maintained: CLEANSING NOT FROM THE GUILT OF SIN, BUT FROM THE DEFILEMENTS OF THE WAY...the question of sin was dealt with at the brazen-altar: that must be settled before there can be any approach unto God. Hence the brazen-altar was the first holy vessel to be met with in the outer court, being stationed just within the entrance. But having there slain the sacrifice and poured out its blood at the foot of the altar, the sons of Aaron were now able to advance; but ere they were ready to burn incense upon the golden-altar they must wash at the Laver. The need for this will be easily discerned."
Pink goes on to explain:
"Having officiated at the brazen-altar their hands would be unclean, smeared with blood. Moreover, as no shoes were provided for Aaron and his sons, THE DUST OF THE DESERT WOULD SOIL THEIR FEET. These must be removed ere they could pass into the holy place; as it is said concerning the eternal Dwelling place of God, 'And there shall in no wise enter into it anything that defileth' (Rev. 21:27). The spiritual application of this to Christians today is obvious. The blood on the hands of Aaron and his sons evidenced that they had come into contact with death. So we, in our everyday lives, constantly have dealings with those who are dead in trespasses and sins, and their very influence defiles us. In like manner, our passage through this wilderness world, which lieth in the Wicked one [Satan] (I John 5:19), fouls our walk. THERE IS THEREFORE A DAILY NEED FOR THESE TO BE REMOVED."
It should be noted here that it was in their official capacity as priests -- not merely as Israelites -- that Aaron and his sons were required to wash their hands and feet at the Laver. "Had they failed in this duty," expounds Arthur Pink, "they had still been Israelites, but they were disqualified for entering into the holy place and ministering before God." Likewise, under the New Testament, the soiling of our hands and feet through association with Satan's world, and as a result of living in a world that does not know and love the Messiah, DOES NOT in any way affect our perfect standing before YEHOVAH God: "For by a single offering he has brought us to the goal for all time those who are being set apart for God and made holy" (Hebrews 10:14, JNT). But while the defilements of our walk through this world do not affect our standing, THEY DO INTERFERE WITH OUR RELATIONSHIP WITH YEHOVAH GOD! "We cannot enter into our priestly privileges (I Peter 2:5)," concludes Pink, "nor discharge our priestly duties (Hebrews 13:5), till we have been cleansed at the Laver." The Laver, like everything else in the Tabernacle, pointed to Yeshua the Messiah and tells of his sufficiency to meet our every need. And, above all, it shows us that we must have recourse to him -- ON A REGULAR BASIS -- for cleansing!
Water -- and not blood -- was the element appointed by YEHOVAH God and used for the purification of his priests. There were, we should understand, TWO clearly defined types of cleansings or baptisms --
"Now it is of first importance that we should discriminate between two distinct types. Exodus 29:4 we are told, 'And Aaron and his sons thou shalt bring unto the door of the tabernacle of the congregation, and thou shalt wash them with water.' While in Exodus 30:19 we read, 'Aaron and his sons shall wash their hands and feet thereat.' The former was done for them; the latter was done by them. In the one they were COMPLETELY washed all over [baptism in the N.T.]; in the latter, it was ONLY THEIR HANDS AND FEET that were concerned [foot-washing in the N.T.]. The former was NEVER REPEATED; the latter WAS NEEDED EVERYTIME THEY WOULD DRAW NEAR THE GOLDEN-ALTAR [YEHOVAH's presence]. The one was a figure of regeneration, the other TYPIFIED THE CHRISTIAN'S NEED OF DAILY CLEANSING" (Pink, Gleanings in Exodus).
Now this use of the laver for cleansing -- as well as for self-judgment -- has striking similarities to the New Testament description of the word of YEHOVAH God. Notice the following passages --
"Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless (Ephesians 5:25-27, NIV).
"Don't deceive yourselves by only hearing what the Word says, but do it! For whoever hears the Word but doesn't do what it says is like someone who looks at his face in a mirror, who looks at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. But if a person looks closely into the perfect Torah, which gives freedom, and continues, becoming not a forgetful hearer but a doer of the work it requires, then he will be blessed in what he does" (James 1:22-25, JNT).
"You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you" (John 15:3, NIV).
The Old Testament mandates the cleansing use of the Law:
"How can a young man cleanse his way? By taking heed according to Your word. With my whole heart I have sought You; Oh, let me not wander from Your commandments! Your word I have hidden in my heart, that I might not sin against You" (Psalm 119:9-11, NKJ).
The New Testament book of Hebrews instructs us that all these things pertaining to the Levitical system were shadows of the eternal realities of YEHOVAH God's kingdom. This is readily highlighted in the sacrificial system which foreshadowed the Messiah (Hebrews 10:1). It is also true of the Tabernacle itself and its furnishings (9:1-11).
If it's true that the laver represents the cleansing properties of the word of YEHOVAH God, then foot baptism represents the daily cleansing we receive from meditating on the Scriptures. It is evident that a priest had his feet and hands washed with the help of a Levite assistant; he did not dip his hands and feet into the laver and pollute the entire container. The water was dipped out and poured over the priest's hands and feet. Similarly, New Testament foot baptism requires one to be washed by a fellow believer. What this means should be obvious: Christians are to provide an edifying influence on one another on a REGULAR BASIS!
How Often Should We Practice Foot-Washing?
While the initiatory rite of baptism should only occur once, FOOT BAPTISM SHOULD BE AS FREQUENT AS THE WEEKLY KIDDUSH! Why? Because foot-washing was an integral part of that last meal Yeshua had with his disciples (John 13:2, 4, 8-10). The Kiddush cannot be considered complete without foot-washing!
That foot-washing was a common part of the Agape meal is recognized by the Catholic Church Father Tertullian (c. 155-c. 222) who mentions a "manual ablution" -- notice!
"Our feast explains itself by its name. The Greeks call it agape, i.e. affection....As it is an act of religious service, it permits no vileness or immodesty. The participants before reclining, taste first of prayer to God. As much is eaten as satisfies the craving of hunger; as much is drunk as befits the chaste. They say it is enough, as those who remember that even during the night they have to worship God; they talk as those who know that the Lord is one of their auditors. After MANUAL ABLUTION, and the bringing in of lights, each is asked to stand forth and sing, as he can, a hymn to God, either one from the holy Scriptures or one of his own composing -- a proof of the measure of our drinking" (The Apology 39; written in 197).
The term "manual ablution" here refers to foot-washing. As such, this term coincides with similar language found in Augustine and John Cassian.
Additional evidence for the WEEKLY practice of foot-washing is found in B.W. Bacon's work The Sacrament of Footwashing (1931-32, pp. 218-21), where he states that "instead of the washing of hands belonging to the Jewish KIDDUSH he [John] substitutes a rite of the Ephesian Church, a washing of the feet of the Bride [the Church]. In 13:10 it is interpreted to symbolize removal of post-baptismal sin that all the Church's members may be sanctified, cleansed by the washing of water with the word. Thus the Bridegroom [the Church], in due time, will 'present her to himself a glorious bride, holy and without blemish.'"
When we look at most of the Churches of God, what do we see? In the most part we see the well-intentioned religion of men. It bears little or no resemblance to what we see in the Bible. In not practicing foot-washing on a regular or weekly basis allows such churches a nominal Christianity. People can eat at the Lord's meal, as did Judas, and remain in fellowship because, to use modern vernacular, the rubber never meets the road! In so doing, these churches allow self-deception and allow for their churches to fill with tares. There is no accountability, no judgment, and no cleansing. The Lord's Table becomes the Table of Demons and of a syncretistic "Christianity" -- a gnostic "Christianity" (I Corinthians 10).
The Messiah's last meal was part of the Kiddush observed on every Sabbath and Holy Day. As such, ALL the practices introduced at the beginning of Yeshua's last meal -- INCLUDING FOOT-WASHING -- should be retained in the Kiddush or weekly Agape Feast. No elaborite ritual is needed for foot baptism. A prayer for the one being washed, a word of encouragement, a spirit of humility and service -- these are all that are needed. Partners should be chosen by lot. That avoids favoritism. If there is strife in the congregation, we should make sure that the antagonists are matched up. Foot-washing greatly contributes to the healing of strained relationships. YEHOVAH's people have robbed themselves by its neglect.
Some have wondered if we should do it "after" having a meal? Some would do it after having the bread and wine as symbols of the Messiah, as a "final act" showing humility. Also, it has been suggested that this is "part of preparation for the Passover." Is this true? Not at all. First of all, Yeshua set the example of doing it BEFORE the meal, when the meal was about to be served -- not after the meal! Secondly, proper "preparations" for Passover are given in the original commandment -- putting leaven out, and preparing the lamb, and the Passover dinner. No other acts would constitute "preparation" unless Yeshua commanded it as preparation. But he did no such thing. He merely said to do it, but never connected it with Passover itself! That is nothing more than human reason! There is no Scriptural justification for it!
The reason why the foot-washing ceremony should be performed BEFORE the meal and the bread and wine is because it replaced the Jewish tradition of washing the hands before partaking of a meal. And, also, because of of the symbolism associated with the Laver and the priestly washings. It is important to realize that the Laver stood in the OUTER COURT and not within the holy place -- which was the chamber of worship. If the sons of Aaron failed to wash at the Laver and then proceeded into the holy place to serve at the golden-altar, they would have committed an unspeakable insult to YEHOVAH God by passing into the holy place with soiled hands and feet! In fact, YEHOVAH God would have put them to death for such an act.
In a similar manner, we cannot enter into a meaningful relationship with YEHOVAH on the Sabbath or Holy Days until we first wash at the Laver -- the confessing of our sins and the consequent washing of our feet should take place BEFORE, IN THE OUTER COURT! Failure to do so at this point -- BEFORE THE BEGINNING of the Sabbath or Holy Day services -- is to, morally speaking, bring "death" into the service. "So let a person examine himself first, and then he may eat of the bread and drink from the cup" (I Corinthians 11:28, JNT). This involves washing our feet at the "Laver" BEFORE coming to the Lord's table.
Brethren, it's time we WAKE UP, and watch out for our selves, and our salvation! Solomon warned, "He that walketh with WISE men shall be wise; but a companion of fools shall be destroyed" (Proverbs 13:20).
Solomon also wrote: "Smite a scorner, and the simple will beware: and reprove one that hath understanding, and he will understand knowledge" (Proverbs 19:25). He added: "CEASE, my son, to hear the instruction which causeth to ERR from the words of knowledge" (v.27).
Let's quit listening to seducers, filled with guile, and self-will. Let's quit listening to seductive false teachers who try to use their snake-oil charm and winsome smiles and then inveigle themselves into our midst, and who bring in heresies and seek to teach things which they ought not! Let's stop listening to EVEN ONE WORD from such wicked and deceitful servants of Satan the devil!
It all seems to begin to innocently. And then, sooner than you can say "Gotcha!" -- they indeed "got to you"! Remember, Peter warned, "But false prophets also arose among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive opinions. They will even deny the Master who bought them -- bringing swift destruction on themselves. Even so, many will follow their licentious ways, and because of these teachers the way of truth will be maligned" (II Peter 2:1-2).
Jude warns, "For certain intruders have stolen in among you, people who long ago were designated for this condemnation as ungodly who pervert the grace of our God into licentiousness and deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ" (Jude 4).
John writes: "Be on your guard, so that you do not lose what we have worked for, but may receive a full reward. Everyone who does not abide in the teaching of Christ, but GOES BEYOND IT, does not have God; whoever abides in the teaching has both the Father and the Son. Do not receive into the house or welcome ANYONE who comes to you and does not bring this teaching; for to welcome is to participate in the evil deeds of such a person" (II John 8-11, NRSV). Isn't that plain enough?
We must not fall into the trap of "adding to" the Word of YEHOVAH God. We must stop associating and listening to false teachers, who attempt to seduce YEHOVAH's people, and lead them astray. "Adding" an observance to what YEHOVAH God commands may seem like such a small, innocent thing, but that is how Satan always begins his seduction. Taking the one little bite of one piece of "forbidden fruit" seemed so harmless to Eve -- yet look at all the tragedy it has caused!
I sincerely hope that some of you will take this seriously, and quit having anything to do with those who teach and propound serious error. They may be charming, friendly men who seem so innocent. But they inwardly are "wolves" who seek to lead you off into the "wild unknown" (II Corinthians 11:13-15). They may seem ever so sweet and delightful. But such fellowship is EVIL -- it is DANGEROUS!
Remember -- Satan seeks to divide us -- and destroy our unity. We must stand together -- or he will pick us off, one by one. Please give this instruction your utmost attention -- and do not deviate from it! Your crown of salvation and eternal life could be at stake!
Hope of Israel Ministries -- Preparing the Way for the Return of YEHOVAH God and His Messiah!
Hope of Israel Ministries
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