The Redemption Cup
Abstract: What the Church calls the communion cup or the Eucharist was really originally part of the Passover meal. But these terms do not suggest a Passover Observance anymore because they have been almost completely removed from the context of the Passover. The word communion comes from a Greek word meaning fellowship, and the word Eucharist comes from a Greek word meaning blessing. These words have been redefined by a new context and usage in the Church. The greater difficulty with these terms today is that they have been polluted with idolatry, lawlessness, and legalism. The idolatry part pertains to the Catholic claim that the wine and the bread turn into the actual body and actual blood of Christ, and then the elements are put into a place of worship, and treated as worthy of divine honor. Just one step away from this idolatry is the Lutheran real presence doctrine, in which the elements are not equated with Christ, but he is said to be present in them. There is no biblical warrant for this false doctrine, and it tends to make people treat the elements as more special than ordinary food, to give it honor. Also false doctrine is the notion that through the elements there is a channeling of grace and forgiveness issued from on high at the moment of partaking. As this doctrine misrepresents how divine mercy is obtained, it is in fact a profaning of the name of God.
As far as I can tell the Eucharist in Lutheranism, and its liturgies are now frequently mixed with idolatry. Even if only the presence of Christ is said to be in the host, and the host is elevated, and the people kneel or bow in the direction of the host, or genuflect toward the host, then this is idolatry. The reason is, that most idolaters will be quick to tell you that they do not actually worship the physical image they are bowing to. They say they worship what the image represents, or a presence in the image, a presence that is only associated with the image. It does not matter what the reasoning is. The second commandment forbids bowing to any image as an act of worship. It does not matter if the image is not the image of a false god. The act of worshiping before an image is also forbidden in the worship of the true God. The scripture teaches no such thing as this kind of worship is permitted if the true God is in the image.
The breaking of the second commandment is only one of two commandments in which the Almighty threatens his vengeance on violators in the ten commandments. He says
You shall not bow down yourself unto them, and you shall not serve them, because I Yăhwēh your Almĭghty am a jealous Gŏd, attending to the iniquity of the fathers upon the sons, upon the third, and upon the fourth generation of those hating me, but doing loving kindness to the thousandth generation, of those loving me, even those keeping my commandments. Now if someone truly knows the true God, then this sentence may not become effective, however it is a stumbling block, and the scripture does teach that using an image even in the worship of the true God is forbidden.
Take therefore good heed unto yourselves; for you saw no manner of form on the day that Yăhwēh spoke unto you in Ĥoræv out of the midst of the fire. Lest you corrupt yourselves, and make you a graven image in the form of any figure, the likeness of male or female, The likeness of any beast that is on the earth, the likeness of any winged bird that flies in the heavens, The likeness of anything that creeps on the ground, the likeness of any fish that is in the water under the earth (Deut. 4:15-18). So we see here that no image is to be made because they saw no form. The intent of the law here is to ban anything before the face of a person used in an act of worship, which is specially associated with God or his presence.
If we remember the bronze serpent that Israel was supposed to look at when they were bitten by a poisonous snake, we will see that it was destroyed because Israel was later burning incense before it (2Kings 18:4). When the bronze serpent was first made, Israel was only asked to look at it. They were not asked to worship the image or perform any act of worship before it, bowing, genuflecting, burning incense, or making any offering. It was an object lesson with messianic importance pointing to the Messiah. The serpent was held up to show that though the serpent would strike the seed of the woman (Israel) on the heel, that the Messiah would crush the head of the serpent. It was a reminder of that prophecy. The manner in which Messiah would crush the power of the serpent would begin with paying the penalty for Israel’s sin. Thus the holding up of the bonze serpent also symbolizes the holding up of Messiah. Never in the use of any of these symbols was Israel to perform acts of worship before it.
The same thing has happened to the bread and fruit of the vine that Messiah Yeshua decided was a fitting symbol of his broken body and shed blood in his death. Like the bronze serpent was turned into Nehushtan, and they burned incense to it, so also the symbolic use of bread and grape juice at the Passover has been turned into Eucharistic worship! To it has been ascribed the power to channel grace, and to it has been ascribed the special presence of God. As the priest or pastor holds it aloft, the people are tempted to nod at it, or kneel while he does so, or to pay special reverence to it. A simple symbol has been turned into an act of worshipping before images.
Therefore, it is necessary to keep far away from such false worship. Messiah Yeshua does not receive worship in the manner that the nations are accustomed to worship their gods (cf. Deut. 12:30-32), using images to represent their gods so that they would have something physical to worship toward or before, even when the nations are only saying they are worshipping the being the image represents. Despite the excuse, Scripture always represents an act of idolatry as worship of the image itself. This is because God so hates this kind of worship that he regards it as worship of the image, and not him. He will not accept such worship. The scripture is giving the divine commentary on the use of images of any sort in worship. God will regard it all as worship of the image.
Now the symbol of the bread represents the body of Messiah. We pass it around at the Passover Seder as an ordinary piece of bread representing his body. It is an object lesson. We do not bow to it. We do not ascribe it any special properties of divine presence or any grace channeling effects. We have in the past held it up as we say the blessing. I think at our next Seder we are going to leave the cups on the table, and the bread on the table when saying the blessings. I once knew an ex-Catholic, who became a Seventh Day Adventist, and then a Seventh-Day Baptist. This dear lady could not take communion even in a Baptist fashion because of what Rome had done to it, and her former experience of its idolatrous use.
Now Messiah only asked us to remember him in symbols at the Passover, and he said as often as you do it. The fact is that the third cup of the Passover Seder is a traditional part of it. It is not in fact commanded anywhere in the Torah to have a third cup, a cup of Elijah, or any other cup. The story of the ten plagues is told with the second cup. The first cup sanctifies the occasion (sets it apart as special). Only the telling of the story, eating unleavened bread, bitter herbs (at least two kinds), and the Passover lamb (in the place of his Name when the Sanctuary is restored) are commandments. The third cup is a tradition. It is not a bad tradition, and Paul reports Messiah as saying as often as you drink it. The third cup is based on Exodus 6:6,
I will also redeem you with an outstretched arm and with great judgments. That is, it was derived from the text in typical Rabbinic fashion as a drash. Therefore it is the cup of redemption. Clearly, Messiah’s death for our sins is a key part of redemption, and therefore if the third cup is taken as a symbol of redemption, then above all, Messiah’s redemption ought to be remembered in it also. It should be noted that the words “as often as you drink it” (1Cor. 11:25), has no corresponding phrase for the unleavened bread “as often as you eat it”. Exactly what this phrase means is uncertain, though the Church has taken it as permission to serve the Lord’s Super on any schedule they choose, weekly, bi-weekly, monthly, quarterly, etc. I have not heard of any Church serving it only annually at Passover time, unless they are actually trying to observe Passover. Interesting that they avoid that option.
But, it could also be that the words “as often as you drink it” are attached to 1Cor. 11:25 because outside of the land of Israel they usually observed two Seders out of doubt as to which day was declared the new moon day in Jerusalem, and sometimes even in Israel the doubled Seders were kept simply as an exercise. There is no prohibition against an extra Seder or demonstration Seders. And this is what Messiah was doing at the Last supper, since it was not, in fact, held in the night after the 14th day. If they were not certain then they would have an extra Seder on the 14th or the 16th of the month. If this is so then the words “as often as” would apply to the bread also by implication. The words, therefore, appear to make room for recognizing the symbols at extra Seders and demonstration Seders.
The Church’s false doctrine is based on the words “This is my body which is for you” and “This cup is the new covenant in my blood.” But if we keep in mind that Messiah also said I am the bread of life and I am the vine and other similar statements, and that at Passover, the traditional parsley is the hyssop used on the doorposts, and the salt water is the tears of slavery, and the egg (which we omit on account of abuse in Easter) is a stand in for the second Passover offering memorializing the Exodus, and the apple, date, nut mixture is the mortar used to make bricks, then it is clear that these are nothing more than metaphors or figures to give an object lesson. The object lesson becomes more memorable then. They are aids to telling the story of the Exodus, which is the commandment.
Finally, the Church often tries to say that Yeshua was teaching their doctrine in John 6:
For my flesh is true food, and My blood is true drink. Yeshua said the words are spirit and are life (John 6:63). This is because blood represents life. He means that through his faithfulness we are given a share of the divine life. We become consumers of the divine life in Messiah. His righteousness is given to us in sanctification. And he is here speaking of his resurrection life. When he says his flesh is true food, he is speaking of food in the sacrificial sense. For all the ascending offerings were considered food for God, and the people had their share in the other offerings, the fellowship offerings, which were food for God and food for the people. The Jews who disobeyed him chose not to realize that the words only make sense if he is the Almighty Son, and taken in the context of sacrificial offering, and instead they chose to misunderstand them as a crass teaching to consume blood and eat human flesh.
But Yeshua only meant this about His flesh, and His blood. The unleavened bread and fruit of the vine at the Passover Seder are not His body and not His blood. They can only be symbols of such. They do not communicate any divine qualities, grace, or life, or mercy, or forgiveness. Only his actual sacrificial body and actual lifeblood, and restored life, restore to life those under the sentence of death, and give life to those being sanctified. Any imputation of the qualities of Messiah’s offering to the symbols demeans and reduces the value of his once for all offering for our transgressions. It enslaves people to the clergy, and puts before them an inducement to idolatry.
I am very concerned about the Emergent Church Movement. It is not just the Catholic or Lutheran Churches that are tainted with idolatry in their serving of the Eucharist. The seeds of apostasy have sprouted in nearly every denomination, even those who traditionally serve communion as a symbol. At the very least such communion is an unconscious rejection of the obligation to observe Passover, since all Christians are supposed to be joined to the house of Israel. For the new covenant is for the house of Israel and Judah, and this is not a new covenant, but it is an old covenant, which Yahweh made from the beginning, which you have heard. It is now being renewed; the death sentence is passed away, and the ministry of life abounds in the light of the truth, which is already shining.
I therefore say, since Hezekiah destroyed Nehushtan due to idolatry, so it is necessary to avoid the idolatry that has attached to the Eucharist and Communion. It cannot be called safe to celebrate these rites in any church any longer, even Churches which have traditionally regarded them as symbols. Many Messianic believers have long since figured this out on their own. I am writing this paper mainly to expose the evil in the Churches. Because of the Emergent Church Apostasy, they are going to fall right back into idolatry of one fashion or another. True believers are going to have to choose between Yahweh’s Law, and staying as close to it as possible, vs. the ritual’s which the Church commands, yet which ritual’s are based on a long tradition of rejecting God’s Law.
In the past, many Christians have innocently taken the symbols without knowing the history or reason why the ritual was changed from the Passover. This situation is now changing. Yeshua is not just waiting for his people to return to His Laws. Through the Spirit, he is bringing many things to light, and he knows that the truly faithful will reform their ways and follow him. At the same time, he is fed up with the Churches and their traditions against him, and their teaching that they can follow him without repentance. He is therefore not restraining the apostasy, and he is allowing Satan to overcome those unfaithful saints in body and spirit. But all the faithful will overcome in spirit, and a remnant will be saved in body too from the hand of the Anti-Messiah. For no weapon against Israel will prevail, and a remnant will be saved.
To make this paper complete, I should include some remarks about 1Cor. 11. Firstly, Paul said that they were not observing the Lord’s Super (1Cor 11:20). Therefore, we should not take Paul’s description of the situation as instruction on how to observe it. Paul does remark that they have houses to eat in. The explanation of this is that the earlier proselytes who had knowledge of the Law did eat the Passover Seder in their own houses, where they had a feast with it, but that the congregation was providing a congregational Passover. The Passover is referred to in 1Cor. 5:8, six chapters before. Even today, most non-Jews are first introduced to the Passover by some kind of congregational Seder, which is supposed to instruct the participants. It’s purpose is not really to have a feast. That is why it is called a demonstration Seder. Demonstration Seders tend to be long because of the amount of instruction involved, and questions that might arise. Even when done properly they can be contentious! I know this because I have done them. You really have to have a heart for this kind of ministry to other Christians. Some can be very disagreeable when they are confronted with the Torah, and you really can’t uninvite them. We have had some very good extended family Seders. This is probably the best way to learn, and to teach others.
1Cor. 11:21 indicates that at the demonstration Seder, people were responsible for their own food. The congregation was providing the instruction, the unleavened bread, bitter herbs. Some came just to learn with little food, and others came with lots of it. The problem is that that culture did not have a notion of sharing the pot equally as is done today. A long history of Christian influence has taught our culture a sense of charity and fairness that did not exist then. If you bring a dish, expect everyone to share it. Most of the people bringing dishes have to share this virtue. Apparently the Corinthians needed to be taught it. As a result, the teaching situation was turned into chaos by people who came just to feast vs. people who just wanted to learn. The situation was made worse by the large number of non-Jews coming to the faith at the time, who had only the basics of the law. The conversion rate was what missionaries call a mass conversion of a lot of people. The converts bring a lot of worldly influences that they have to grow out of, or they are not really faithful and join with some kind of heresy. It is reasonable to suppose that the congregational elders did not structure the demonstration Seder correctly, and the billed it as a feast, and therefore the more nominal sort of converts, or those who just converted in the emotional moment, and who had not really repented, or yet repented of habits of revelry, flocked to it, while the more mature had their Seder in their homes. Thus this situation arose, and Paul received a bad report on what happened at the congregational Seder.
Paul indicates that the Holy Spirit was in the business of weeding out a lot of the bad apples, and some were getting sick and dying (1Cor. 11:30). This remark of Paul’s implies that this problem had happened at more than one congregational Seder, perhaps caused by someone with money, who brought a big feast, and then shared it with those favored by the rich man. But they were profaning the name of Messiah, and therefore they were judged. I cannot say that the Spirit has such a heavy handed policy with errant Churches today. Heresy and traditions have run too far and too wide, and while Christians have straightened out their personal behavior more than the Corinthians, they are enslaved by more insidious heresies. Judgment without warning and correction to go with it does not work. And there are too few who can issue the warning and correction. Still Judgment is going to come to the Churches.