The Journey To Jerusalem - Part 1
n increasingly popular phenomena is occurring among Judaeo-Christians in this generation, and it is usually referenced as the practice of Aliyah -- which is a term related to the undertaking of a pilgrimage toJerusalem. Messianic Jews, "Two House" adherents (populated by those who posit the so called "lost tribes" of Israel myth coupled with Jewish believers supposedly follow Yahshua), and Torah Observant believers of various stripes are said to "make" Aliyah, which is to say they are making the journey to Jerusalem, in response to Old Testament imperatives.
While believers who are attempting to infuse their Spiritual lives with a renewed sense of fervency through immersion in the "Hebrew Roots" movement believe they are responding to a call from the LORD, in reality the global trend is part of the prophesied falling away so often referenced in an end time's context. A central part of this is the effort at performing the pilgrimage which is referred to as Aliyah.
According to the laws of Moses, as articulated in the Pentateuch (the first 5 books of the Bible), the practice of the Feasts of Israel included compulsory attendance in Jerusalem for three of the feasts of Israel:
"Three times in a year shall all thy males appear before the LORD thy God in the place which he shall choose; in the feast of unleavened bread, and in the feast of weeks, and in the feast of tabernacles: and they shall not appear before the LORD empty" (Deuteronomy 16:16).
Once again, these three feasts are the Feast of Unleavened Bread -- which culminates in Passover, the Feast of Weeks (also called Firstfruits), and the Feast of Tabernacles.
The first is at the beginning of the Hebrew calendar, as the Passover-Exodus account restructured a calendar for the Israelites when they came out of Egypt. The second feast, the Feast of Weeks, is associated with the beginning of the harvest, and includes a celebration of the abundance which God provides. This is in the middle portion of the year, and the third feast, Tabernacles, is at the end of the year.
It is self evident that observing the feasts is directly tied to the Old Covenant between God and Israel, as the Scriptures repeatedly remind the Israelites that the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, is the LORD who brought them out of the bondage of Egypt, gave them a plentiful land to live in, and maintained an active role in the national life of Israel. All three aspects are seen in these three feasts.
The picture of leaven, the component which makes the bread to rise, or puff up, is used as a simile of sinthroughout the Scriptures. At the time of the Passover, Israel was told to eat only unleavened bread in conjunction with the Passover -- so named because the angel of death passed over the Israelite's homes. The ritual included placing some blood from the lamb onto the two sides posts, and the top of the door, and the imagery is related to a people without sin in their homes (the lack of leaven representing iniquity), and such a house was seen by the destroying angel as "under the blood" of the lamb.
You don't have to be Elijah to see the symbolic foreshadowing of the sinless Jesus, who sheds His blood as a covering for those who respond to His call. The New Testament removes any doubt, for not only does I Corinthians mention the removal of the "leaven," the text flatly states the death of Jesus is directly associated with the killing of the Passover lamb:
"Purge out therefore the old leaven, that ye may be a new lump, as ye are unleavened. For even Christ our passover is sacrificed for us.... (I Corinthians 5:7).
The second feast, the Firstfruits, or Feast of Weeks, had to do with the firstfruits of the harvest. When the harvest begins, the very first portion of the increase to be harvested is called the firstfuits. It's also called the Feast of Weeks, because the LORD began a count of seven weeks from the first day the harvesters set about to "put a sickle to the corn [KJV for grain]" (Deuteronomy 16:9) . The book of Exodus confirms the recognition of the firstfruits as a pivotal part of recognizing that the LORD has kept His promise to give the Israelites a land which will yield an abundant harvest:
"And thou shalt observe the feast of weeks, of the firstfruits of wheat harvest...." (Exodus 34:22).
Most modern Americans, existing so far apart from the land and the agrarian cycles of life, fail to realize how a seed can be planted in the ground, grow to the time of the harvest, and it is God who gives the increase. The picture of death seen in the Passover lamb who is killed, is followed by the imagery of new life, seen in the firstfruits of the cycle -- and it plainly points to the resurrection of Jesus Christ. That same book of I Corinthians tells the tale:
"But now is Christ risen from the dead [and] become the firstfruits of them that slept." (I Corinthians 15:20).
Although Rapture Cult teachers have tried to use the idea of firstfruits as a way to show the supposed pretribulation rapture as a "firstfruits" of the believers (who would then be followed by a "general" resurrection/harvest 7 years later), they inadvertently blaspheme the Spirit of truth every time they shift the emphasis away from Christ -- who is repeatedly stated to be the fulfillment of the firstfruits. Indeed, speaking of the resurrection, the Holy Spirit specifies the order of resurrection :
"But every man in his own order: Christ the firstfruits; afterward they that are Christ's at his coming" (I Corinthians 15:23).
In the third feast which required Aliyah to Jerusalem, we find the Feast of Tabernacles -- a reference to the portable temple which moved with Israel in their journey. The Tabernacle was not dissimilar to the permanent temple built much later, as it had an outer court, and the room where God would meet with the priest of Israel, who would approach the LORD on behalf of the people. The Tabernacle was to show how God sustained an ongoing presence with the children of Israel, as the third of three feasts requiring a journey to Jerusalem, was to foreshadow the ongoing presence of God in the midst of His people.
"But Christ being come an high priest of good things to come, by a greater and more perfect tabernacle, not made with hands, that is to say, not of this building....(Hebrews 9:11).
The association with the Tabernacle and the Temple is obvious, as Jesus flatly stated His body is that temple (read Tabernacle) which was "not made with hands," as the LORD challenged the corrupt priesthood to try to stop His mission to redeem Israel:
"Jesus answered and said unto them, Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up" (John 2:19).
Most everyone knows that the body of the believer is the temple of the Holy Spirit:
"Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you?" (I Corinthians 3:16).
Yet many have missed how Peter equated his body with the Tabernacle, making the two terms synonymous:
"Knowing that shortly I must put off this my tabernacle, even as our Lord Jesus Christ hath shewed me" (II Peter 1:14).
Thus, the three feastswhich required Aliyah to Jerusalem are all three associated with three aspects of our relationship to Jesus Christ -- His call to come out of this world and into His realm in the Kingdom of God (Unleavened Bread & Passover), the blessing received when we respond to His call and come into the promised land (Weeks/Firstfruits), and an ongoing presence with Him dwelling within our bodies in our present state (Tabernacles).
In our next installment of the present work, we will see that when the Scriptures tell us God desires us to make an Aliyah to Jerusalem, it has nothing to do with the tumultuous city in the Middle East, for we arerequired to journey to New Jerusalem -- that is, if we desire to be in the kingdom of God.
-- James Lloyd
For more on how the law and the prophets anticipate the Spiritual renewal of Israel in the New Covenant, see the online video on THE TRANSLATION OF ISRAEL.