The Good News, Part 2
The Mystery of the Gospel
Christians believe that the gospel message is only about Yeshua’s death and resurrection. And it is, but only in part. We only see through the lenses of Christian theologians, but we must understand that Yeshua was Jewish, and the message is a Jewish message. He was the Jewish Messiah, and He came to His people, the Jewish people. Us Gentiles were far off; in other words, we were pagans. Yes, today we may be believers, but back 2000 years ago, the Jewish people along with a few God-fearers were the only people to believe in the one true living God. He is the covenant-keeping God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and because of Yeshua’s sacrifice, we who once were far off can now draw near. Paul tells us in Ephesians 6:19, “Pray on my behalf, that utterance may be given to me in the opening of my mouth, to make known with boldness the mystery of the gospel.” What is the mystery of the gospel, or more correctly, “good news,” and why is it a mystery? In Ephesians 3:3-6, Paul writes, “That by revelation there was made known to me the mystery, as I wrote before in brief. And by referring to this, when you read you can understand my insight into the mystery of Messiah, which in other generations was not made known to the sons of men, as it has now been revealed to His holy apostles and prophets in the Spirit; to be specific, the gentiles are fellow heirs and fellow members of the body, and fellow partakers of the promise in Messiah Yeshua through the gospel.” Romans 11: 16-18 tells us, “If the first piece of dough is holy, the lump is also; and if the root is holy, the branches are too. But if some of the branches were broken off, and you being a wild olive branch, were grafted in among them and became partakers with them of the rich root of the olive tree, do not be arrogant toward the branches; but if you are arrogant, remember that it is not you who support the root, but the root supports you.” The Jewish message is now our message, and we will see next how the Exodus from Egypt became our exodus, and the redemption of Israel became our redemption.
Christians ask, “Are you saved?” An unbeliever must think, “Saved from what?”
This is a good question, even for us Christians. We speak of redemption, but redemption from what? There is no better place to answer those questions than to look at the Passover Seder. We ask, “Isn’t the Passover just for the Jews?” No! It is for each one of us. We know that God delivered the Jewish people from Egypt with great signs and wonders. God told them to put the blood of an unblemished lamb on the doorpost of their homes and to eat the lamb with their loins girded and their staff in their hand, for it was the Lord’s Passover; and that night, the death angel struck down the firstborn of man and animal. But He passed over the homes where the blood appeared. That night, Pharaoh told the people to leave his land; and with that, they gathered their belongings in the morning and fled the land. They did not even wait for their dough to rise in their kneading bowls. So let’s take a closer look as to why this has to do with each one of us; and at the same time, we will see the gospel message begin to develop. The Jewish people were in exile in the land of Egypt for 430 years. They had been under the yoke of bondage, slaves, and no way to escape from their plight until God sent Moses to deliver them. We too, were in bondage, slaves in Egypt, per se, until Yeshua came and delivered us. Egypt is symbolic of the kingdom of darkness,the world and all that the world stands for,the lust of the eyes, the lust of the flesh and the pride of life. The Seder Meal, or the Passover meal, has come to represent the story of the exodus. The Seder plate is full of symbolism of this redemption; and what is redemption but the purchasing or redeeming of one who is in slavery. Yeshua begins the Passover knowing that He would be the Passover Lamb bringing redemption, Luke 22:14-16, “And when the hour had come, He reclined, and the twelve apostles with Him. He said to them, ‘I have greatly longed to eat this Passover offering with you before My suffering . For I say to you that I will not eat it any more until it is fulfilled in the kingdom of God.”’ The plate consists of the bitter herbs, maror,(usually horseradish) which reminds us of the bondage,the slavery in Egypt. Paul tells us in Romans 6:16, “Do you not know that when you present yourselves to someone as slaves for obedience, you are slaves to the one whom you obey, either of sin resulting in death, or of obedience resulting in righteousness.?”
Parsley, karpas, alludes to the crushing labor, and it is dipped in salt water to remind us of the tears of the Israelites as they cried out to God. In Matthew 26:20, Yeshua says, “I say to you, one of you will betray me.” The disciples began to question, “Is it I?” Yeshua answers them, “The man that dipped his hand in the bowl (salt water) with me is the one who will betray Me.”
Unleavened bread, matzah, is the bread of affliction. Leaven or yeast represents sin, so unleavened means free from sin. Paul says, “Don’t you know that a little leaven works through the whole dough? Get rid of the old leaven that you may be a new batch without leaven as you really are.” The matzah is a flat, unleavened piece of bread. In the matzah, we see a picture of the Messiah, for the matzah is striped and pierced. “But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; the chastisement of our peace was upon Him; and by His stripes we are healed.” Paul, in Romans 6:6-7, tells us, “Knowing this, that our old self was crucified with Him, that our body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin; for he who has died is freed from sin.” The matzah piece that is called the Afikomen is broken in half, and one of the halves is placed in a white napkin and hidden until it is revealed again later in the meal. This represents the death and burial of the Messiah, and later resurrection. Paul tells us in 1 Corinthians 11:24 “And when He had given thanks, He broke it (the Afikomen) and said, “This is My body which is for you; do this in remembrance of Me.”
The Apple mixture, charoset, represents the mortar used between the bricks. Lettuce, chazeret, reminds us of life and how we can go from joy to sadness when sin enters our lives and enslaves us. James writes, “Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double minded. Be miserable and mourn and weep; let your laughter be turned into mourning , and your joy to gloom. Humble yourselves in the presence of the Lord, and He will exalt you.” Roasted egg, beitzah, is a symbol of mourning that the temple does not stand any longer; but we know that one day, Yeshua will rule and reign in Jerusalem. The shankbone, zeroah, represents the Passover Lamb. Since the destruction of the temple in 70 CE, no lamb is eaten on Passover because there is no temple to slaughter them. We know that Yeshua was the Lamb, for Paul tells us in 1 Corinthians 5:7-8, “Clean out the old leaven, that you may be a new lump, just as you are in fact unleavened. For Messiah our Passover also has been sacrificed. Let us therefore celebrate the feast, not with old leaven, nor with the leaven of malice and wickedness, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.” Four cups of wine are also drunk at the Seder Meal; each cup represents the four promises of God regarding redemption and salvation. The first cup is called the Cup of Sanctification: “I will bring you out from under the yoke of the Egyptians.” The second cup is called the Cup of Deliverance: “ I will free you from being slaves.” The third cup is called the Cup of Redemption or the Cup of Blessing: “I will redeem you with an outstretched arm.” It was here that Paul tells us, “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.” Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 10:16-17, “Is not the cup of blessing which we bless a sharing in the blood of Messiah? Is not the bread which we break, a sharing in the body of the Messiah? Since there is one bread, we who are many are one body; for we all partake of the one bread.” The fourth cup is called the Cup of Praise: “ I will take you as My own people and I will be your God.”
We have seen in the story of the Exodus that Egypt = the kingdom of darkness, this world, Pharaoh = Satan, leven =sin, Yeshua = Passover Lamb.
Because of the blood of the Passover Lamb, the death angel passed over those homes that had the blood on the doorpost. Why blood on the doorpost? Hebrews 9:22 tells us, ”According to the Torah, all things are cleansed with blood; and without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness.” Paul tells the Colossians, “Because of what He has done; He has taken us out of the power of darkness and created a place for us in the kingdom of His Son that He loves, and in Him we gain freedom (redemption), the forgiveness of our sins,” (JB)
The redemption from Egypt was our redemption also. This is the Salvation message, which is part of the gospel message. Paul tells the Romans, “I am not ashamed of the gospel (good news) of Messiah, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also the Gentile.”
We have been looking at the Biblical gospel message, also known as the “Good News.” We have seen that this message was a Jewish message before it became a Christian message. Christians believe that the gospel message is “that you can be saved by the blood of Jesus;” and this is true. But we don’t realize the meaning behind all of this. Saved from what? Words like salvation and redemption are Jewish terms which then became Christian terms. We have learned that Yeshua, (Jesus) was Jewish and that He is the Jewish Messiah who was prophesied of by the prophets of old and spoken of by the angel to the shepherds; He was the promised Child, the good news of the one who would come. The angel revealed to Mary that He would sit on the throne of David in Jerusalem and there would be no end to His kingdom. He will be a mighty warrior and defeat His enemies, and He will gather the exiles of Israel and they shall live in peace from all their enemies in the promised land of Israel. None of this sounds like the Christian message as we know it. Yeshua, John the Baptist, and the disciples all preached the good news: “Repent for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” The first step of the gospel message is just this, Repent for the kingdom is at hand. We learned that the kingdom is the kingdom that the angel spoke of to Mary, that would never come to an end; for Yeshua would sit on the throne of King David forever. This Kingdom is the Messianic age, which most Christians have heard about. So, what about the Christians? Do they have their own message? Well, yes and no. Yes, because for now, many Jewish people have not come to the knowledge of Yeshua as Messiah. No, because their message is still our message. You see, the Scriptures tell us that we were alienated, hopelessly lost without the One true God (Ephesians:2:12). But God, in His great mercy, made the way for us. You see, Yeshua came as the Jewish Messiah. He is the King of the Jews; but because of God’s great mercy, we who were afar off have been brought near by the blood of Yeshua (Ephesians 2:13). Now, you must understand that Yeshua never stopped being the Jewish Messiah, nor did the message that was prophesied of Him ever change. The message is still a Jewish message, and Yeshua is still Jewish, and He is still going to rule and reign forever in Jerusalem. But God made the way for the nations who believe in Yeshua and accept His sacrifice of redemption to now become part of Israel. No, we do not become Jewish, but now we have been grafted into Israel (Romans 11:16-18) and we now can become part of the covenants and draw near to God by the blood of Yeshua. Their message now becomes our message. Their Messiah becomes our Messiah, their worship becomes our worship, and their Scriptures become our Scriptures. That is why we are called Judeo-Christians, a term that has been done away with over the last several decades. We must not get the Salvation message mixed up with the Gospel message, because the salvation message is only a part of the whole message. We have seen that the first step of this message is to repent. Next, we must accept Yeshua’s work of redemption which He accomplished for us on the cross, which took us from being slaves in the kingdom of darkness to now being children serving God our King in His Kingdom of Light. So let’s now look at the second step of the gospel message.
The second step of the gospel message is found in Matthew 6:31-33: “Do not be anxious then, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘With what shall we clothe ourselves?’ For all these things the Pagans eagerly seek; for your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But seek first His Kingdom and His righteousness; and all these things shall be added to you.’’ We see here that the kingdom must become our priority. We are to seek the kingdom first before any other thing. Remember, Yeshua tells the people to repent, for the kingdom was at hand. It was right there for them to grab hold of, if they would just begin to seek it out and live by it’s righteousness. Now, we must understand that the kingdom that is referenced here is the Messianic Age, when Yeshua will set up His kingdom right here on earth in Jerusalem and rule and reign forever. We do not need to go to Jerusalem to seek the kingdom, but we need to begin to live out kingdom principles right here, right now in our own lives. He tells us how to do this in Matthew 6: 19-21. He tells us, “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures upon earth where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven ( the Messianic Age) where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves do not break in or steal; for where your treasure is there will your heart be also.” We are the Bride anxiously awaiting the return of our Bridegroom. We are to prepare ourselves for His coming, longing for the day when He will deliver His people from their enemies and bring us all home to the land of promise, Israel, so we may be where He is forever (1 Thessalonians 4:17). Let us Repent; let us accept Yeshua’s sacrifice on our behalf, and let us draw near to God our Father with the blood of the Lamb sprinkled on our hearts (Hebrews 10:22). Let us grab hold of the kingdom as we serve our King (John 12:26), longing and waiting for His return (Hebrews 9:25-28) as we live out our deeds of righteousness (Ephesians 2:10).
Now, this is the Biblical Gospel Message, and it is truly the Good News!