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The Secret Codes in Matthew: Examining Israel’s Messiah, Part 22: Matthew 27:27-28:20, by Kevin M. Williams

Today, amidst Easter lilies, pretty dresses, chicks and eggs, sunrise services, and ham dinners, it has become all too easy to forget that this was a significant day in God’s calendar, a spiritually symbolic predecessor of what was to come through the Messiah, as Paul rightly notes, “Christ has been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who are asleep” (1 Corinthians 15:20). It was a day to bring tithes into God’s house with thanksgiving for all He had provided and was going to provide. How much more so then, by the power of the resurrection of Yeshua the Messiah!

Before leaving the topic of the Sabbath entirely, there are few theologians who do not recognize that the biblical Sabbath is indeed Saturday, and that Sunday-is-Sabbath is nothing more than a long-held religious tradition born out of the Church of Rome.

Thomas Aquinas, from the 13th Century wrote, “The observance of the Lord’s day took the place of the observance of the Sabbath not by virtue of the biblical precept but by the institution of the church.”1

Eusebius, a 4th Century church historian notes these words of Roman Emperor Constantine: “On that day of light, the first day, day of the real sun, when we gather together at intervals of six days … we then accomplish, following the spiritual law, that which had been ordained by the law for the priests to do during the Sabbath … all that which had to be accomplished during the Sabbath we have brought over to the Lord’s Day, inasmuch as it is the most important, the dominant, the first, and it has more value than the Sabbath.”2

The intent here is not to inflame or offend, but rather, to point out biblical truth. It is presented with no other obligations or encumbrances. In fact, it was Constantine who placed obligations what to do on Saturdays: “Christians must not judaize by resting on the Sabbath, but must work on that day.”3

“Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age” (Matthew 28:19-20).

These words, commonly known as the “Great Commission,” must have amazed and dismayed the disciples. The very thought of making disciples of the nations—the gentiles—would have rubbed against the very bedrock of the Judaism they had been taught since childhood. For them, the Messiah was for Israel and Israelis, not the nations. For them, the Messiah was to establish Israel as the seat of world government, as noted in Acts 1:6, “Lord, is it at this time You are restoring the kingdom to Israel?”

How amazing it is to consider that today’s Christianity is largely waiting for the Messiah to establish his kingdom for Christians, and Jewish people have been relegated to the back seat. Yes, there are some Jewish missions, but the vast majority of evangelism is pointed away from Israel, not toward her. Yeshua has been so “de-Hebrewed” so much that the Jewish people have a very difficult time recognizing Him as Jewish. Even His name has been changed to “Jesus.”

“For I do not want you, brethren, to be uninformed of this mystery, lest you be wise in your own estimation, that a partial hardening has happened to Israel until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in; and thus all Israel will be saved” (Romans 11:25, 26). The hardening is partial, the obligation clear: Israel will be saved, but it requires Gentile participation. This too, is a commission.

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Category: Biblical Studies, Fall 2006, Pneuma Review

About the Author: Kevin M. Williams, Litt.D., H.L.D. has served in Messianic ministries since 1987 and has written numerous articles and been a featured speaker at regional and international conferences on Messianic Judaism.

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