Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Behold the Lamb

Easter is crap. The word Easter is crap. Eggs and bunnies are crap. Saying that Easter is really about the resurrection and simultaneously ignoring the APPOINTED TIME OF THE LORD is the biggest load of crap. You can't really convince me otherwise. (Sorry, I always get a little cranky this time of year.) But instead of beating a dead horse, I'm just going to do a word study. Look at your watch. Give me 10 minutes.

One word.


1. It begins in Genesis 22. The bible's first appearance of the word 'lamb'. Abraham was told to kill his own son. "Take your son, your only son, Isaac, whom you love, and go to the region of Moriah. Sacrifice him there." And on their way up the mountain, Isaac got a little worried... "'The fire and wood are here,' Isaac said, 'but where is the lamb for the burnt offering?' Abraham answered, 'God himself will provide the lamb for the burnt offering, my son.'" and Abraham was going to slay his own son... but the LORD intervened. "I swear by myself, declares the LORD, that because you have done this and not withheld your son, your only son, I will surely bless you and make your descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky... and through your offspring all nations on earth will be blessed."

Pretty important. God will provide the lamb, and bless the nations through Abraham's seed. You with me so far?

2. Then the next major lamb issue comes in Exodus 12. The Israelites are enslaved in Egypt. God tells Moses to get the job done, get 'em outta there. But Pharoh, the Egyptian leader, isn't okay with that. So, before the tenth "request" (read: plague), God tells his people: "On the tenth day of this month each man is to take a lamb for his family, one for each household... until the fourteenth day of the month, when all the people of the community of Israel must slaughter them at twilight." The lamb must be young and without blemish or defect. They were to put the blood of the lamb on their door frames as a sign. The LORD was going to come. "I am the LORD. The blood will be a sign for you on the houses where you are; and when I see the blood, I will PASS OVER you... This is a day you are to commemorate; for the generations to come you shall celebrate it as a festival to the LORD -- a lasting ordinance." The blood of the lamb was going to save their lives from certain death. Hmmm... That reminds me of something.

Then there's A TON of lamb sacrifices for offerings in the book of Numbers. This is a different study. And one I am as-of-yet ill equipped to teach. Then a couple more Passover lamb mentions. Then this doozy in Isaiah.

3. That's right; Isaiah 53. 700 years before the birth of the Messiah. "But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed... The LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all. He was oppressed and afflicted, yet he did not open his mouth; he was led like a lamb to the slaughter." That pretty much seals the deal for me. Missing out on the Abraham/Isaac sacrifice and the meaning of the Passover lamb is missing the point of what Jesus did on the cross. Yeah, I mean it. Christians are missing the point of the cross. From these three scriptures, I already understand Jesus better, and we haven't even broken the zero yet. But let's add a few more AD scriptures for good measure.

4. John "the baptizer" was doing what he did best. Preparing the way for the Lord. When he sees Jesus coming in the distance, he doesn't give him a regular greeting. Here's what he says in John chapter 1: "The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, 'Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!'" This is one of those bible-y (bible-ish?) things that we just get used to, and it consequently loses its bite, but think about it. Stop and think. I'm going to go ahead and say that it was a weird way to greet his cousin. Unless you understand the Abraham and Isaac story, and how God is finally providing the lamb. And how that Lamb will take away the sin of the world. (And cf Gen 22:2 with Matt 17:5. "Whom you love" / "Whom I love". Pretty intense.)

A few more quick references. Stay with me.

5. Read Luke 22. Figure it out. Jesus was crucified ON Passover. ON the night when the lamb was to be sacrificed. And it's on purpose. "I have eagerly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer." Cross reference Leviticus 23 for the passover week timeline. It's real. Okay? It's real. (Remember the biblical days go evening/morning and not morning/evening.) He broke unleavened bread and poured wine with his disciples. On Passover. "Do this in remembrance of me." Do WHAT in remembrance? Passover.

6. 1 Corinthians 5:7-8 "For Messiah, our Passover lamb has been sacrificed. Therefore, let us keep the Feast." It's all there, black and white, clear as crystal.

7. 1 Peter 1:18-20 "For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your forefathers, but with the precious blood of Messiah, a lamb without blemish or defect. He was chosen before the creation of the world, but was revealed in these last times for your sake."

The word "lamb" is undeniably significant here. And "Passover" appears 77 times in the NIV. And "Passover lamb" appears 7 times. (Okay. Just gave myself chills. 77, 7. C'mon, Missler fans.)

(Stepping off soapbox.)

And I'm done.

(Stepping back on soapbox.)

Okay, wait. Let's be fair. "Easter?" Nope, not in the word of God. (The word "Esther" is, though. But that was just the nickname given to Hadassah, because she was beautiful and the name Esther was from a goddess of beauty and fertility. FERTILITY. And Asherah, too. Another fertility goddess. Both derivatives of Easter. ) "Easter eggs?" Swing and a miss. Not in the bible. "Bunnies?" Strike three. Come now, let us reason together. Let us be seekers of the truth.

(Stepping off soapbox.)

Until next year.

(Stepping back on soapbox.)

Except I just have to say it plainly. Stop messing with Easter. And eggs. And bunnies. Trust me on this. It's probably irritating God. We should want so desperately to please Him. And here's the thing. He tells us how. Celebrate Passover, and the Lamb that was slain for the forgiveness of sin and the conquering of death.

It's okay to do it.
It's right to.
He told us to.
It's HOW we're supposed to remember him and what he did.
Every year.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Getting the Best of Me

My family (husband, three kids) and I sat down to watch nearly ten years worth of home movies the other day. A love marathon. It began with our wedding, and then moved quickly on to the kids. They appeared magically into our lives one by one, growing bigger and changing before our eyes by the minute. It was a sweet time for us, reminiscing and laughing and waxing poetic about chubby cheeks and funny firsts. But I was also faced with an ugly reality. In many of the videos, I noticed myself giving irritated glances to the photographer (aka my husband), as if his meticulous documentation of these wonderful years were somehow putting me out. Sure, we women worry about how our hair looks, or if we need a touch up on our lipstick, or the ominous unflattering angle. But to see myself from the other side, giving quick little huffy eyes to my husband, well... yuck.

I turned to him on the couch next to me. "Am I always such a turd?"

He attempted a quick smile, "Well, yeah." Then quickly thought to ease the blow, "I mean, sometimes. But I love you."

After I smacked him a good one, I softened. "I'm so sorry."

Why do I do that? I know we all do, sometimes. We give our best away, and leave our crappy, raw selves for the people we love the most. Over the next few days, I thought about who I was at home, and what a different person I can be with my friends. I started to wish my husband could see how sweet and caring and hilarious (and humble, too) I am around others.

Isn't that idiotic? Why do we give more to those, who -- quite frankly -- mean less? Why wouldn't my husband get the smoothed over, even-tempered, lovely and charming version of me? Even if only SOMETIMES. I know we get to be 'ourselves' around our spouses. There's a beauty in that, don't get me wrong. But we need... I need... to be careful not to abuse that private privilege. Sometimes, I need to give him -- and my kids too -- the 'me' that I use to charm my coworkers, acquaintances, and even strangers. Imagine that.

Think about it. I am willing to spend the extra fifteen minutes getting ready for a lunch date with a girl friend, and even after the most horrific morning with the kids (c'mon, it happens), I can somehow manage a winning smile and a funny story. So how hard is it, then, before my husband walks in the door after a long day, to at least do a quick fix-up in the mirror and put my attitude in check? It just might remind him that I'm a person who puts out a little extra effort for the ones I love. I do love him so dearly, after all.

And I'm sure going to remember it the next time it's recorded for posterity!