JC Studies Blog


SERIES INTRODUCTION

Biblical Judaism is unique among the world's religions for sanctifying time — according to divine instruction — creating a vibrant rhythm to life that gives every season special significance. It also imbues Jewish history with meaning, both past, and present. Within the course of a year, all the key events of Jewish history are re-enacted and celebrated.


Highlighted in Exodus 23:14-17, the three pilgrim festivals are Passover (Pesach) in the spring, Pentecost (Shavu'ot) in early summer, then comes Sukkot (Tabernacles) in the fall.

Passover is such a rich subject and an incredibly fertile area of study. Rather than walk through the symbols of a seder meal, I want to go deeper into some of the essential ideas underlying and demonstrated in Passover. I want to examine the important principles from the perspective of how they can impact the way we live.


The Exodus from Egypt — punctuated by Passover — is all about the drama of God's great redemption. It is a journey he has ordained for his people. Passover redemption is the central paradigm of the Jewish faith, celebrated annually in Jewish homes throughout the world. It is an event that you and I need to understand because we, too, are called to remember and re-enact it in the context of sharing the Lord's Supper.

The heart of biblical thinking is a focus on living. As followers of Jesus, the Feasts are another area in which we are indebted to our Jewish roots and forefathers. In this study, I am seeking to answer the question, What light does Passover shine on our journey of redemption?

The first lesson Passover teaches us is that the focus of biblical faith is on life in the present, on the here and the now.


It is not an exclusive focus, but it is the priority. Living here and now is how we redeem the time, not being preoccupied with things beyond this world or things in the future. It is a matter of paying attention to God's priorities.

A proper Hebraic understanding of eternity tells us that which is eternal is not so much an issue of duration as it is of dimension. Eternity is that which redeems the present, gives hope and purpose to the future, and sanctifies the past. Eternity is a dimension, a way of living with a different perspective.


Salvation from a Hebraic point of view is not a future escape but a present experience of God's presence and power.


In the Exodus, you have God's presence demonstrated, tangibly and visibly apparent in the luminescent cloud, also viewed by night as a burning fire. The dwelling of God's presence (shekinah) accompanied his kingdom of priests on their redemptive journey. Biblically speaking, salvation is not a free pass to some heavenly amusement park—salvation is a summons to serve the great King, the Redeemer of Israel.


Salvation is a call from heaven saying, "Come near and serve me. Become my priests and be a blessing to my world." Salvation is not focused on escape or removal from this world. It is a way of seeing this world with totally new eyes, as God's creation, in which at some point the epic final redemption of planet earth is going to come.


As the exodus from Egypt is a foretaste of that future consummation, covenantally speaking, so the exodus at Calvary is a foretaste of the new creation.


Jesus was, and we are the firstfruits of what shall be a glorious cosmic redemption. The whole planet is going to come under the kingship of the God of Israel. That means salvation in this life is more than some personal or internal experience. It is a communal reality, an event encompassing all the people of God.

The Exodus is the core event in all Jewish history; it gives them their very identity. It imbues the present and provides direction to the future because of what God did. We know with certainty that God's activity in the Passover is the result of his redemption history. It is not some meaningless, cyclical recurrence of an illusion called time.


History is a time stream that has a direction, a purpose, a goal. In the end, we shall see that from the beginning, it has indeed been His-story.


Right now, when we look at human history—even our personal history—it is like looking at the underside of a tapestry. We see threads and loose ends, and we cannot discern a picture or a pattern. But from the other side, the side of redemption, you can see a divine design woven on that tapestry which reveals a grand drama. In it, the King is revealed for who he truly is! His creation will come into partnership with him, and it shall indeed be joy unspeakable.


The prophets can only find images to try to convey what a glorious, final transfiguration it shall be.


Passover teaches us and reminds us that history is meaningful, purposeful. Therefore the here and now is ultimately significant. We have a direction regarding the future, but here and now is where we experience God's salvation, his redemption, his presence, his power. Hallelujah!

This study is from a professionally produced transcription of the audio recording. It was edited for readability by the team at JC Studies.

Dwight A. Pryor (1945-2011) was a gifted Bible teacher of exceptional clarity and depth who earned the friendship and admiration of both Christian and Jewish scholars—in the United States and Israel—as well as the respect and appreciation of followers of Jesus around the world. His expertise in the language, literature, and culture of Israel during the life and time of Jesus and the early church yield insights that nourish every area of faith and practice.


Dwight founded JC Studies in 1984 to edify the people of God. Click here to explore over fifty of his audio and video seminars.

Updated: Feb 1


3 min 55 sec reading time


From the Hebraic perspective of Jesus and the early church, salvation is more about a way of journeying in this life than our final destination. It is a matter of emphasis. Salvation does not mean receiving and putting a faith token in your pocket so that when you die, it goes in the slot, and you watch as the pearly gates swing wide open. Salvation means you are — here and now — in a relationship with the God of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, through Jesus. You have personal, ongoing communion with him characterized by his presence and power working both in and through you. To be saved means to be in a right relationship with the living God that changes how you live today. And it all begins with the renewing of your mind. If discipleship is optional, then it is an offense to both YHWH, who came as a Teacher, and his son Yeshua, who came as a rabbi (teacher). To be a disciple means more than merely acquiring data about God. It is about knowing him and growing up in our faith. That is why Peter says, There are some things in them that are hard to understand, which the ignorant and unstable twist to their own destruction, as they do the other Scriptures. You therefore, beloved, knowing this beforehand, take care that you are not carried away with the error of lawless people and lose your own stability. But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. - 2 Peter 3:16-18 I am not asking you to become a scholar; you can be a scholar and still be far from the knowledge of God. In the Kingdom, it is not a matter of degrees; it is a matter of relationship. The apostle Peter, whom I just quoted, was a simple fisherman with a powerful witness. Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were uneducated, common men, they were astonished. And they recognized that they had been with Jesus. - Acts 4:13 Salvation, to use a Jewish metaphor, means to be born again. It means you enter into eternal life and then grow up in it. Again, let's listen to Simon Peter. Like newborn infants, long for the pure spiritual milk, that by it you may grow up into salvation — if indeed you have tasted that the Lord is good. - 1 Peter 2:2-3 How do you grow up into your salvation if it only means being on the other side, in the world to come? To grow up in salvation means daily developing a dynamic, maturing relationship with the Holy One of Israel. Biblically speaking, salvation is a synonym for life. I call heaven and earth to witness against you today, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and curse. Therefore choose life, that you and your offspring may live, loving the LORD your God, obeying his voice, and holding fast to him (Deut 30:19-20). Jesus came to save us, which means he came to bring us into life. It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh is no help at all. The words that I have spoken to you are Spirit and life (John 6:63). And how do you come into the fullness of life? By laying hold of the Life-giver. To study, do, and teach means to imitate God in all your ways — in your thinking, your behavior, and your witness. As I understand it, that is the this-world goal of salvation. We are to be transformed rather than conformed. By imitating him in all we do, we are not conforming to our natural desires or the pressures of this world. Instead, we are slowly and surely transforming into the image of our Lord, Jesus the Messiah. I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect. - Romans 12:1-2 My friends, I exhort each of you in your own way to make a more serious commitment to discipleship than you have ever done before. In my judgment, to do so is evidence you are connecting with the Jewish roots of your faith. Conversely, to do otherwise is to engage in a bit of hypocrisy. Central to the synagogue liturgy is an ancient Jewish prayer made up of eighteen benedictions known as the Amidah. The opening benedictions extol God and humbly ask him to grant wisdom and understanding. Requests for repentance and forgiveness follow that. What does this teach us? True knowledge leads to repentance, and authentic repentance leads to true knowing. We live in urgent times — God is searching the earth, looking for righteous men and women who are willing to do what it takes. We study because study sanctifies our thoughts, we pray because prayer sanctifies our words, and we obey because obedience sanctifies our deeds.

This study is from a professionally produced transcription of the audio recording. It was edited for readability by the team at JC Studies.

Dwight A. Pryor (1945-2011) was a gifted Bible teacher of exceptional clarity and depth who earned the friendship and admiration of both Christian and Jewish scholars—in the United States and Israel—as well as the respect and appreciation of followers of Jesus around the world. His expertise in the language, literature, and culture of Israel during the life and time of Jesus and the early church yield insights that nourish every area of faith and practice.


Dwight founded JC Studies in 1984 to edify the people of God. Click here to explore over fifty of his audio and video seminars.



Words have connotations specific to the language and the culture in which they are used. That is why it is essential to learn about the Hebrew language and culture of Jesus and his first disciples.


When you read the Bible, you are reading it through the eyes of English translators who were part of the 20th-century, mostly American world. Or in the case of one woman who said to me, “if the King James Version was good enough for Paul, it is good enough me,” a 17th-century English world. That may be humorous on the one hand, but this kind of thinking betrays a lamentable lack of knowledge about the history of scriptural translation.


Please don’t misunderstand me; I am not dismissing the essential work of good and godly scholars or the need to translate the Bible. My point is that we, the readers, look at the world differently from what Jesus and the early church did. And never is that difference seen more clearly than in our attitude toward studying God’s Word.


When you talk about study to an American adult audience, they kind of cringe—perhaps they think of going back to school and how boring it was. Many prominent preachers even dismiss the importance of study in favor of their personal revelations and interpretations.


The Jewish sage Abraham Joshua Heschel succinctly summarized the difference between our Western view of study and the Hebraic view.

“The Greeks learned in order to comprehend. The Hebrews learned in order to revere. The modern man learns in order to use.” (God in Search of Man, pg. 34)

Do you understand the difference? The biblical worldview is that you study Scripture to revere the one, true God. Knowing God is more than accumulating information about him. We learn in order to worship him, to sanctify his Name in word and deed. Knowing — biblically — means being conformed to God’s image by submitting to his authority and obeying his will. It means having an intimate relationship with the Father, being in dialogue with him, and being in partnership with him.

Now Adam knew [yada] Eve his wife, and she conceived and bore Cain, saying, “I have gotten a man with the help of the LORD.” Genesis 4:1


This verse is the first instance of the Hebrew root word yada (to know). You get the picture. So when I say to you that we are called to study, do, and teach, I am not saying to take on the kind of knowledge that puffs up. You know if you are learning the biblical way because it humbles you, it leads you to a more profound reverence and awe.


To study means to draw close. In a word, to study is to enter into life. The words that I have spoken to you are spirit and life. - John 6:63


Do you understand the implications of all this? To lead an authentically Spirit-filled life means to be actively searching out the teaching of Jesus in Scripture; it means to be diligently walking out the Word of God in your life. It means more than having goose-bumps, dancing for joy, and shouting hallelujah — not that those don’t have their place.


Make no mistake about this, the Spirit-filled life is a life characterized by submission to God’s authority. All of which springs from actively searching, studying, investigating, and inquiring of God through his Word.


People say to me, but I don’t have a degree. And I say to them, you can read, can’t you? And if you cannot read, you can listen to recorded audio versions, can’t you? Even better, gather with others and read the Bible out loud together.


What is important is that you seek to hear the Word of the Lord every day; that you input it into your mind, that you hide it in your heart.


The Hebrew word for heart (lev) has the connotation of your mind. King David writes, I have stored up your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you (Psalm 119:11). He is saying; I will commit it to memory so I will act appropriately.

There has been a predominant interest in the Protestant church on evangelism in the last three centuries, and, of course, that is not a bad thing. The way we go about it, though, is often not entirely biblical. The commission is as much about discipleship as conversion.

And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” - Matthew 28:18-20


Jesus is not looking for converts. He is looking for disciples.


He wants more from you than just a decision; he wants a disciplined life. As John Wesley said, the soul and the body make a man, but the spirit and discipline make a Christian.

The word disciple is used 269 times in the New Testament, while the word Christian is used only three. To be a Christian in name only is about as absurd to the Hebraic mind as saying you have faith without appropriate conduct. A body without breath is dead.


What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him? If a brother or sister is poorly clothed and lacking in daily food, and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and filled,” without giving them the things needed for the body, what good is that? So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead. - James 2:14-17


To Jesus, there is no such thing as being a casual believer. “Count the cost,” he says. “If you are going to be my student, you have to be willing to put your hands to the plow.”

This study is from a professionally produced transcription of the audio recording. It was edited for readability by the team at JC Studies.

Dwight A. Pryor (1945-2011) was a gifted Bible teacher of exceptional clarity and depth who earned the friendship and admiration of both Christian and Jewish scholars—in the United States and Israel—as well as the respect and appreciation of followers of Jesus around the world. His expertise in the language, literature, and culture of Israel during the life and time of Jesus and the early church yield insights that nourish every area of faith and practice.


Dwight founded JC Studies in 1984 to edify the people of God. Click here to explore over fifty of his audio and video seminars.


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