When you read this Editorial, we will have completed our Church Conference, and my wife and I will have been busy preparing for our trip to Germany. Before leaving our home, we will have finished deleavening our premises, as the Jews had to do at the time of Christ, before beginning their pilgrimage to Jerusalem.
Even though we might think more of the concept of our pilgrimage in respect to the Feast of Tabernacles in the Autumn, when we will live for eight days in temporary dwellings, our entire Christian life ought to be viewed as a pilgrimage, and it is therefore appropriate to apply this comparison to the upcoming Passover season as well. As Israel was saved from physical death during the Passover night and led out of Egyptian slavery on the First Day of Unleavened Bread, with the goal of ultimately entering the Promised Land, true Christians have been and are being saved from spiritual or eternal death through the Sacrifice of Jesus Christ, and they are leaving behind the captivity of sin with the goal of ultimately entering the Kingdom of God.
At times, the Bible compares sin with leaven, and if leaven is not removed, it grows and permeates the whole lump. In the same way, sin grows and spreads in our lives. The Days of Unleavened Bread picture our complete departure from sin, but this is impossible without God’s help. It is God who must fight our battles. According to tradition, Israel stood in front of the Red Sea on the Last Day of Unleavened Bread. They were completely helpless and in despair, when they saw Pharaoh’s army pursuing them. But God intervened miraculously and saved them from physical death or renewed physical captivity. Today, God is giving us—spiritual Israelites— spiritual victory over sin, if we submit to Him and let Him fight our spiritual battles for us.
A few weeks later, God gave Israel the Law of the Ten Commandments and other statutes and judgments. Following Jewish tradition, this happened on the Day of Pentecost. But ancient Israel was never offered the gift of the Holy Spirit. It is true that the people were supposed to keep the Ten Commandments according to the letter, but they were not able to keep them in spirit. Even though they could and should have refrained from killing someone else, they were not really able to eradicate all hatred from their lives. In New Testament times, God gave His Holy Spirit to His Church on the Day of Pentecost, enabling them to obey Him in the letter AND in spirit—to actually worship Him in spirit, as God is Spirit. God’s converted disciples are to apply and follow the spiritual dimensions of His Law, since the Law is spiritual.
When we, as baptized members of the Church of God, keep the Passover and the Days of Unleavened Bread, while focusing already on the Day of Pentecost, we ought to remember that everything we accomplish in this life is not because of our might and strength, but because of God’s grace and favor. Because of Christ’s great love for us, He died for us, when we were still sinners and God’s enemies. We did not deserve to be forgiven—God forgave us because of unmerited pardon. It is God who shows us the way out of sin and who enables us to follow His path. And it is God who gives us His Holy Spirit to empower us to obey Him in spirit and truth. In doing this, we can gladly focus on the Holy Days in the Autumn, beginning with the next dramatic event in the plan of God. This earth-shaking occurrence is pictured by the Feast of Trumpets and describes the return of Jesus Christ to establish God’s rule here on earth and to give us His gift of eternal life, by changing us from mortal human beings to immortal members of God’s Family.
How thankful must we be to God for His priceless and undeserved gifts.