[Word Count: 1286]
The Christian Ordinances
From a Biblical perspective, there are only three Ordinances handed down to the Body of Christ from its Savior. Two Ordinances came to us from the Old Covenant (Passover and Water Baptism by Immersion), which gained new meaning when they came to the New Covenant. The Third (the Foot Washing, also known as the Ordinance of Humility), which was not an Old Covenant Ordinance, but a Jewish cultural tradition sanctified by Christ to be a New Covenant Ordinance, is slowly gaining wider acceptance in American churches, for which i am both grateful to GOD and excited to see. I consider it beneficial to you, Dear Reader, to understand and appreciate the rich historical and spiritual heritage of Christian Communion when it yet existed as an Old Covenant Ordinance in the Israeli Feast of Unleavened Bread (Exodus Chapters 11-13).
Regardless of your world view, you've heard of the Exodus (Latin for expedition or departure) of the Nation of Israel out of Egypt sometime during the 1400s B.C.
The Bible is the most accurate ancient library of its kind, and 1,500 years of so-called "higher criticism" has not proven otherwise. Rather, the reliability and reputation of the Holy Scriptures has only increased with the continuous examination of Their contents. I said that to say this: the Exodus is an undisputed historical Fact, the purpose of which was to make GOD, The Creator of Heaven and Earth, famous...which the Exodus succeeded in doing.
On Israel's last night in Egypt GOD struck every human and domesticated mammal living in Kemet (Hebrew Mizraim; Greek, Aigyptos, English "Black Land") with a tenth plague: the death of all the firstborn. Even Israelis and their animals would be subject to the plague unless they followed GOD'S Instructions to the letter. Any Egyptian, Israeli or foreigner household that prepared and consumed the unblemished lamb or goat with yeast-free bread, spreading its blood upon the outer lintel and door posts with branches made of hyssop shrubs, would be passed over by GOD with their firstborn offspring and animals unharmed.
The Egyptians considered shepherding an abomination...so only a few obeyed Moses' warning. There were also foreigners who obeyed; these followed Israel out of Egypt and associated themselves with the people of GOD.
This may all seem pedantic and academic to you; don't be fooled! There are in the first Passover serious concepts that illuminate the Great White Throne Judgment happening at the end of this age (Revelation Chapter 20):
The lamb or goat sacrificed was itself called "the Passover" because there was no chance of escaping the Tenth and Final Plague without it.
Spreading the blood of the Passover on the lintel and door posts of the dwelling was NOT enough; everyone in the household had to eat the Passover till there was nothing left...any parts that could not be eaten had to be incinerated!
The Passover meal could not include anything else but yeast-free (unleavened) bread and bitter herbs. Yeast in Scripture is a reference to sin. Bitter herbs consisted of chicory, bitter cresses, hawkweeds, sow-thistles and wild lettuces; these had nutritional and medicinal value and symbolized love, faithfulness, remembrance and devotion.
All the firstborn that were spared--human or animal--were subsequently the property of GOD and had to be either purchased by their parents/owners or sacrificed to GOD.
It should also be noted that the Tenth Plague was the rule...not the exception. Every family in Egypt--regardless of nationality or religion--lost someone; the only exceptions were those who believed the warnings and followed the instructions provided by GOD. Saying the warnings were believed was futile if the instructions were not followed exactly.
Likewise, the Lake of Fire and Sulfur, filled with the unendurable Wrath of GOD is the rule, and not the exception; everyone...and i mean EVERYONE who is raised from death in the Second Resurrection WILL spend Eternity in Its hot, caustic depths. The only exceptions will be those whose names were written before the foundation of the world in the Book of Life belonging to the Lamb of GOD Who Himself was ordained to be slain from before the foundation of the world to satisfy the Wrath of GOD on behalf of those who placed all their faith in His Righteousness!
The Lord's Supper
By the time of Christ a bit of ceremony had been added to the Passover meal: instead of one cup there were now four:
The significance has changed due to Christ's impending Sacrifice of Himself: now, in a culture that saw the drinking of blood as an abomination, Jesus commands His disciples to symbolically drink "all" of His Blood. This represents the setting apart (sanctification) and sealing of the elect before the foundation of the world. We may also deduce that the practice of transubstantiation (the actual conversion of the substance of the Eucharistic elements into the body and blood of Christ) is both unnecessary and unscriptural.
The Apostle Paul has a great deal to say about Communion, but Jesus says it best:
“'I AM THE BREAD OF LIFE. Your fathers ate the manna in the wilderness, and they died. This is the Bread that comes down from Heaven, so that one may eat of It and not die. I AM THE LIVING BREAD that came down from Heaven. If anyone eats of This Bread, he will live forever. And the Bread that I will give for the life of the world is My Flesh.' The Jews then disputed among themselves, saying, 'How can this Man give us His Flesh to eat?' So Jesus said to them, 'Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the Flesh of the Son of Man and drink His Blood, you have no life in you. Whoever feeds on My Flesh and drinks My Blood has Eternal Life, and I will raise him up on the Last Day. For My Flesh is true food, and My Blood is true drink. Whoever feeds on My Flesh and drinks My Blood abides in Me, and I in him. As the Living Father sent Me, and I live because of the Father, so whoever feeds on Me, he also will live because of Me. This is the Bread that came down from Heaven, not like the bread the fathers ate, and died. Whoever feeds on This Bread will live forever.'" -- John 6:48-58 ESV
The Holy Spirit of GOD, of Which the Blood of Christ is a symbol, not only seals us but saturates and fills us...incinerating our dross (our impurities) and bringing us to a state where it becomes difficult to discern where the saint ends and where the Savior begins!
Communion Begets Community
In this series we return over and over to this idea of Transcendent Relationship...not only between each of us and GOD yet also between each other! No sin means no secrets and no shame! We are forever free of the need to pretend spirituality because Jesus has replaced our hearts with His Own! Hours of meditation upon these Scriptural Truths invokes the Presence and Comfort of Christ, giving us a taste even in this earthly life of the effortless Perfection awaiting us in our Eternal Home!
In Part Twenty-Eight we come to the Glorification of our bodies in the First Resurrection: The Complete Redemption of our spirits, souls and bodies!
But first, we must appreciate what we're being saved from.