The Feast of Passover - Pesach 2023
"For Zion’s sake I will not be SILENT, and for Jerusalem’s sake I will not rest…" Isaiah 62: 1
Shalom Partner and Friend of Israel,
In the seven feasts of the Lord, of which the Feast of Passover is the first, God has given mankind a clear prophetic outline of His complete work of redemption from sin through Messiah. Yeshua (Jesus) fulfilled the four spring Feasts in Jerusalem among the Jewish people when He came the first time. The remaining three fall Feasts will also be fulfilled by Yeshua in Jerusalem, among the Jewish people, at His second coming. Passover is not only chronologically the first of the Feasts; it is also the first in matter of importance, as it constitutes the foundation upon which all the rest is built.
Most nations have a national holiday in memory of the day when the nation was born, or when some other important event in its history took place. The Feast of Passover can be said to mark the beginning of the nation of Israel. It was on this day that the people were delivered out of bondage in Egypt, by God’s mighty hand, to become an independent, free nation – a holy nation of priests unto Him. Even in their unbelief, God has never taken away this eternal calling on the physical nation of Israel. (See…Romans 11: 28 -29)
God commanded the people of Israel to celebrate the awesome act of deliverance out of Egypt every year, during the Feast of Passover.
The celebration takes the form of a special meal, the Passover Seder Meal. It is the oldest, still practiced religious rite in the world, almost 3,500 years old. Wherever the Jews were dispersed, they still observed the Passover. The original simple instruction for the Passover meal is found in Exodus 12:8, "Then they shall eat the flesh on the night; roasted in fire, with unleavened bread and with bitter herbs they shall eat it."
God sent Moses back to Egypt from the land of Midian with a plan to free the Jews from Egyptian slavery. God used Moses to announce each plague before He sent it upon Egypt. In all there were ten plagues:
The plague of water turned to blood: Exodus 7:20-25.
The plague of hail: Exodus 9:12-35.
It was out of the tenth plague that God instituted the Passover. (Exodus 12:1-4).
The Passover can be traced to Exodus 12:25-27; "When you enter the land that the Lord will give you as he promised, observe this ceremony. And when your children ask you, ‘what does this ceremony mean to you?’ Then tell them, it is the Passover sacrifice to the Lord, who passed over the houses of the Israelites in Egypt and spared our homes when he struck down the Egyptians....."
It is observed in the Jewish month of Nisan, and this year it is celebrated from the 05th - 12th April, 2023. However, the Jewish calendar is a lunar calendar unlike our solar calendar. So the Passover comes at a different time each spring as far as our calendar is concerned.
Regrettably, in the early centuries of the Church Age, when so-called Christendom gave the dates for Easter, they deliberately gave the date so that it would not correspond with the Jewish feast of Passover. They did not want people to see any association with the Jewish feast of Passover and the Christian Holiday of Easter. The first church council of Nicea in Bithynia was held in 325 AD (Bithynia is in present day Northern Turkey).This council set the standard by which we observe Easter and its date varies from year to year.
The council declared that Easter would fall on the first Sunday after the first full moon after March 21 and it cannot come before March 22 or after April 25. The result of the first council of Nicea also established or confirmed the true divinity of Christ and the identity of essence between the Son and the Father, plus other doctrinal issues. These were discussed and voted on by the attending bishops because of the many heretical teachings coming from many false teachers at that time. But along with doctrinal issues, they also set the date for Easter. And this procedure for setting the time for Easter lasted for over 1100 years. After the Reformation, Bible believers had varied views concerning Easter.
Although most who profess Christianity now celebrate Easter-Sunday but it was not observed by the second century Christians in Asia Minor. They observed Passover.
What is now called Easter began to be observed first in Rome. First, it was apparently a change in date of Passover from the 14th of Nisan to a Sunday. This is believed to have happened because there was a rebellion by Jews and that any distancing between Jews and Christians which seemed to be physically advantageous (at least to some in Rome and the Greeks in Jerusalem).
However, we must keep in mind that these two holidays are eternally interlocked.
Then why should Christians be interested in a Jewish Holiday? First of all; only hours before going to the cross Yeshua (Jesus) said in Luke 22:15, "With desire I have desired to eat the Passover with you before I suffer." In the Greek that statement is very emphatic. It literally says, "With GREAT desire I have desired to eat the Passover with you before I suffer."
The Passover Lamb had to be perfect, without a spot or a blemish, and what Yeshua was actually saying was that, "With great desire, I desire to eat the Passover before I become the Passover."
When Yeshua observed the Passover in the upper room, it would be a reminder that that lamb which had suffered, had by its suffering and dying provided redemption or freedom for the Jews in Egypt. That suffering lamb had secured redemption by its death, and as proof of the death of the lamb, its blood was collected and placed on the door posts of the homes of all those who were positive and believed the plan of God. All those who believed and did as they were told were saved. And as Yeshua anticipated going to Calvary and dying for the sins of the entire world, the observance of the Passover and the realization that that suffering lamb had secured redemption and freedom, reminded Yeshua of the redemption and freedom that He would purchase for all mankind as He was offered on the Roman cross.
There is strong historical evidence that because of the large number of people returning to Jerusalem to observe the Passover, the Passover was actually observed on two separate days to accommodate all the people. One day for the out-of-towners, and one day for the locals. The consensus is that our Lord observed the Passover the first day, and HE WAS THE PASSOVER on the second day. And even today, the first two days of the Passover week are the most significant to Jews.
The second reason why Christians should be interested in knowing and understanding the Passover is that the Apostle Paul (a great Jew of the first century) wrote to the church at Corinth and said in I Corinthians 5:7, "Christ our Passover is sacrificed for us." In other words, "The Messiah our Passover is sacrificed for us."
To truly understand the purpose of the death of Christ, we must understand the purpose of the death of the Passover Lamb in the Old Testament.
Thirdly; it was out of the Jewish Passover that Yeshua introduced "The Lord’s Table," also called the Eucharist or Communion. It is impossible to fully comprehend what God intends for us to comprehend relative to the Lord's Table unless we see it from out of the Jewish Passover from which it was instituted.
Fourthly; if we want to intelligently witness to any Jewish friends, then understanding something of their Passover will help.
In fact, in witnessing to Jews you must realize that the use of the New Testament should be very limited. In Acts 8, when Philip was witnessing to the Ethiopian eunuch, it says that he took the book of Isaiah and "Preached Yeshua to him." So anytime you desire to talk to a Jew about Yeshua, you should start with the Old Testament.
When the Jews observe the Passover today they read from the HAGGADAH, a book that is the non-legal part of the Talmud (the book of Jewish history and traditions). It describes the redemptive work of God, the plagues on Egypt, His power in delivering them out of Egyptian slavery, and how He opened the door to the Promised Land and gave them their freedom.
When the Passover is being observed, the head of the home will be seated at one of the ends of the table, and he will have a pillow beside him, and on a number of occasions during the course of the meal he will recline on the pillow beside him, he will place his head on it.
REASON: back in Egypt the Jews were slaves, and slaves were not permitted to recline and eat as freemen could in a leisurely way. But at the Passover the Jew is reminded that he had been redeemed, he had been redeemed by the mighty hand of God, he was no longer a slave. So to remind the Jews that they were no longer slaves, the head of the home will place his head on the pillow, and in doing that he is saying, "We are not slaves, we are freemen." It is very possible that this is what was being enacted when a disciple placed his head on the Lord's bosom at the last supper in the upper room in John 13:23.
Before the cross Yeshua (Jesus) was called "the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world," (John 1:29). But after the cross He is called "the bread of life," (John 6:35).
Matthew 26:26-30; (VS 26) And as they were eating, Jesus took bread, and blessed it, and broke it, and gave it to the disciples, and said, Take, eat; this is my body.
And as they were eating - This refers to eating the Passover meal.
Jesus took bread - This is the unleavened bread of the Passover table. This is where the changeover occurs. The bread actually replaces the Passover lamb in this ritual. Before the cross, the lamb was used to represent the Lord Jesus Christ. After the cross the bread is used to represent our Lord.
And blessed it - If you look at this closely, this is different. Here we see a blessing in the middle of a meal. But in reality Yeshua is beginning a new meal. Yeshua always blessed food at the beginning of a meal (Matthew 14:19). And here we see Yeshua beginning a new meal. So as they were finishing the old meal (the Passover) Yeshua began a new meal. This is a way of announcing a new dispensation or a new era.
And broke it - The breaking of the bread is a picture of Yeshua bearing the sins of the world. The breaking of bread is a custom in the Middle East that goes back as far as history is recorded, and that custom still exits today. Since bread is the main form of food there, and represents life, it isn't cut with a knife or any other instrument. It is always broken with the hands.
And he gave it to his disciples, and said, Take, eat, this is my body - The word "take" comes from the Greek word that means "to take to one's self." And the word "eat" comes also from the Greek word meaning "to eat, to consume, to chew and swallow." This word also has the connotation of digestion.
To eat, to swallow, and to digest or metabolize!
PRINCIPLE-- All normal people can eat. It is non-meritorious. We don't earn it or deserve it. Good people as well as bad people can eat. So eating becomes a picture of believing in Yeshua HaMashiach (Jesus the Messiah). This command to "take, eat," comes down to us today, and whenever we eat at the Lord's Table we are simply saying, "I have personally believed in Yeshua as my Saviour, I have placed my faith and trust in Him, and as a child of God, I recognize what He has done for me.
This is my body - Literally, "This represents my body."
For over 1500 years the Jews observed the Passover by the killing and eating of a spotless lamb. But now "The Lamb of God" was provided and died on the altar of a Roman cross. He died for the sins of the entire world. The reality has come, no longer are animal sacrifices necessary. They were only shadows of the reality.
When Jesus said to those Jewish Disciples who were with Him "Take, eat, this represents my body," He meant that they no longer needed the animal as a symbol, the bread He was serving would become the symbol.
In Exodus chapters 12 & 13 the Lord said that the Passover observance would be a memorial. There was only one real Passover, and every one after that was simply a memorial of the first one.
The unleavened bread became the symbol of the sinless One, the One who died, "the just for the unjust."
Matthew 26: 27 And he took the cup and gave thanks and gave it to them saying, "Drink ye all of it."
And he took the cup - In the original Passover they took the blood of the slain lamb and sprinkled it on the sides and on the top of the door. Then after the Exodus and for the next 40 years the Jews didn't have doors because they lived in tents.
So in the second Passover and each year thereafter, they used the cup, and they used wine in the cup. But the wine was unfermented. No leaven was to be used in anything on the Passover table, because leaven spoke of sin. Since leaven was used in fermenting wine, the wine had to be unfermented. Therefore, the cup of wine took the place of the blood of the lamb sprinkled on the door post. The cup took on a symbolic meaning referring to the work of Yeshua on the cross.
Yeshua said to two of His disciples in Matthew 20: 22 ".....are you able to drink from the cup that I shall drink from.....?" Then in Matthew 26:39, Yeshua said, "...O my Father, if it be possible let this cup pass from me, nevertheless, not as I will, but as you will." In these two passages, "the cup" referred to a container that was filled with all the sins of the world. While Yeshua was on the cross, God the Father took that cup and poured it out on Yeshua and at that time He tasted death for every human being.
Now our partaking of the cup during the communion service symbolizes Yeshua drinking of the cup of our sins. By drinking from that cup we are saying that we recognize that Christ took all of our sins to Himself, and paid for them in full by His substitutionary spiritual death on the cross. Therefore, the cup is used as a synonym for Christ's work on the cross.
And gave thanks - The Greek word is EUCHARISTEO, it means, "to be thankful, to give thanks." This Greek word is where we get our English word EUCHARIST, which is the name of the ritual of the Lord's Table, the Communion, or the Eucharist, which is another name for the Lord's Table or Communion.
And gave to them, saying, Drink ye all of it - Note the emphasis on the words "All of it." Jesus Christ drank all of the cup of sins on the cross. There wasn't a single sin that He didn't take and pay for. And commemorating that event, we are to drink "all" of the cup.
Matthew 26:28"For this is my blood of the New Testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sin."
For this is my blood - Literally, "For this represents My blood." In other words, the wine in the cup is used to represent the blood of Christ, and the blood of Christ simply refers to His work on the cross.
The Greek word HAIMA, translated "blood" in the New Testament is a technical word which refers to our Lord's substitutionary spiritual death on the cross, NOT HIS PHYSICAL DEATH.
Of the New Testament - Literally, "Of the New Covenant." Jeremiah 31: 31 had promised that there would be a New Covenant.
Which is shed for many - In other words, this NEW COVENANT will include the entire world, Jew and Gentile.
For the remission of sins - Literally, "For the forgiveness of sins." The Lamb of God would be the great sin bearer.
Matthew 26: 29 "But I say unto you, I will not drink henceforth of this fruit of the vine, until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father's kingdom." In this verse we see the prophecy of the kingdom.
"But I say unto you" - Yeshua is talking here. "I will not drink henceforth of this fruit of the vine..." The phrase "Fruit of vine" is another name for unfermented wine "…until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father's kingdom" - He is saying, "I will not drink this fruit of the vine, I will not observe this Passover or Communion feast until I can do it in the Millennium."
Yeshua came to His own, and His own received Him not. He came to the Jews as their promised Messiah, but they rejected Him. And in their rejection of Him He was unable to establish the Kingdom of God on earth. So He is saying here, I will not drink of this fruit of the vine again, while I am here now, but I will drink it when I have come back a second time, and established the Kingdom of God on the earth.
And when they had sung a hymn, they went out into the Mount of Olives. - The "praise" hymn of the Passover was called the HALEL. This included Psalm chapters 115-118. The HALEL was always used in the Passover, and also the feast of unleavened bread.
The order for the Passover Meal that eventually emerged out from the command from Exodus 12:8 go back several hundred years before Christ. Additions have been made through the centuries. The tradition Seder of today has amazingly also received influences from the early church. It is important to understand that the order of the Seder Meal is essentially the same today as it was in the days of Yeshua. The eternal principles of God’s salvation are illustrated and explained in the Passover Meal.
Yeshua used this meal to reveal the New Covenant for the first time. As the Apostle Paul wrote in 1Corinthians 5: 7 "Christ, our Passover, was sacrificed for us," clearly stating the importance of the Feast of Passover for the church. Passover gives us the basic understanding of the New Covenant, the Lord’s Table, the death of the Messiah and God’s end time judgments and redemption of the earth through the blood of the lamb.
The law is a shadow of what is real in Messiah. A picture without shadows conveys no sense of depth. It is only two dimensional and lifeless. Paul warms Gentile believers in Romans 11:18 "remember that you do not support the root, but the root supports you." The full blessing of God will not operate through the church without a connection to the Jewish roots of our faith. It was after the separation from Israel that the church went into the apostasy of the dark ages.
This connection is being restored in our day. Nothing better illustrates the relationship between Israel and the church than the Passover Seder Meal.
Seder is a Hebrew word that means "order" the "instruction manual" for the order of the Passover Meal with all the scripture readings, songs etc is called "Haggadah." It is a Hebrew word that means "the telling" taken from Exodus 13:8. And you shall tell your son in that day saying, "This is done because of what the Lord did for me when I came up from Egypt."
There are 100’s of different Haggadah’s today from traditional to Messianic.
Just like Israel gave birth to the church in the first century, the church is called to give birth to Israel in the last. The Passover is vital for a correct understanding of Israel in order to pray for her salvation. This is the absolute peak of the whole year for the Jewish people. "It is a night of solemn observance to the Lord for bringing them out of the land of Egypt. This is that night of the Lord, a solemn observance of all the children of Israel throughout their generations," Exodus 12: 42. The complete Jewish Bible reads, "This was a night when Adonai kept vigil to bring them out of the land of Egypt, and this same night continues to be a night when Adonai keeps vigil for all the people of Israel through all their generations."
"Now the blood shall be a sign for you on the house where you are. And when I see the blood, I will Passover you; and the plague shall not be on you to destroy you when I strike the land of Egypt." Exodus 12:13.
The Passover story also gives us the blueprint for the "salvation ready to be revealed in the last time" showing us how to intercede. The song of redemption sung in the book of revelation is the song of Moses and of the lamb. Revelations 15: 2 – 4
Please also see our latest teaching on "Passover - Pesach" The First Three (of 7) Feasts of the Lord.
BARUCH ATA ADONAI ELOHEI YISRAEL (Blessed are you Lord God of Israel)
God bless you,
Alf & Julie Saunders
02nd January, 2023
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