Unfortunately for most Christians today, they have not had the delight of understanding the Feasts of Israel in relation to Yeshua (Jesus). The Lord set these annual Feasts in motion for the express purpose of exalting Himself and what He had done for Israel, and using them as practical teaching tools for generations yet unborn, to learn who their God was. These Feasts of Yahveh (the Name of the God of Israel in Ex. 3:15, commonly mistranslated as ‘the Lord’) exalt the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.
Many Christians are coming to realize that a major area of their ancient biblical heritage is being filled as they learn to walk in the Feasts of Israel found in Leviticus 23. Looking at Colossians 2:16-17 we find that far from it being a text that ‘does away with the Feasts,’ it establishes them, speaking of the Feasts pointing still of things in the future:‘Therefore no one is to act as your judge in regard to food or drink or in respect to a Festival or a New Moon or a Sabbath Day, things which are a shadow of what is to come, but the substance belongs to Christ.’This speaks of the Feasts as being able to paint a picture of what Yeshua is like. Just as a photo picture of a person is not really that person, but you can see so many different things about that person that you might not have known before, so too, with God’s Feasts. They have been set up by God to reveal a portion of His identity. By not walking in the Feasts of Israel, one throws away a perfect picture of God.
I once arrived at a church, before anyone else had gotten there, for a Sunday night service where I was the guest speaker. It was the middle of the winter, but it wasn’t too cold, and so, I decided to walk down the street a bit to gather my thoughts. As I walked, my eye was drawn to a glaring light on my left that was coming from a front porch light bulb. There wasn’t any fixture on the bare light bulb and I quickly looked away, not wanting to stare into the light. On my way back, as I came to that porch, I intentionally looked across the street. To my delight there was a perfect silhouette of a tree on the wall of a school. The tree stood about twenty yards in front of the wall. The light from the porch across the street was so bright that I could make out the smallest detail of the tree branches by its shadow on the wall. There were no leaves on the tree and so all the branches could be seen, their shadows imprinted on the wall. I could tell immediately by looking at the shadow of the tree that it was a tree, even if I wouldn’t have seen the actual tree that made the shadow! I could also tell that it was a tree and not a lion, or a car or a human being.
The Feasts of Israel are like this. We don’t see Yeshua (the tree) in all His brilliant Glory today, but He has left behind for us His Imprint in the Feasts. This is the Glory that our God has placed within His Feasts from the beginning because He knew what He wanted to do with His Son and how He was going to deal with Israel’s carnality and future life with Him in the New Jerusalem.
The word shadow can equally be translated as ‘picture.’ The Feasts are pictures of what is to come. This is why many Christians are celebrating them today. They are finding part of their ancient Hebraic heritage in the Feasts of Israel. The Feasts can be broken down into three sections:
1. The Spring Feastsa. Passover2. The Summer Feast
b. Matza: The Feast of Unleavened Bread
c. The First Sheaf Wave Offeringa. Shavu’ot (Pentecost)3. The Fall Feastsa. Yom Teru’ah: The Day of Unspeakable Joy (commonly known in Judaism as Rosh Ha-Shana, the New Year, a biblical misnomer) and also called The Feast of Trumpets.Yahveh instituted these Feasts as a picture of Salvation. They were a yearly cycle of celebrations of what Yahveh had done for Israel and also a prophetic picture of what Yahveh would do for Israel, hence, what Paul writes in Colossians 2:17
b. Yom Kipor: The Day of Atonement
c. Sukote: The Feast of Tabernacles (and The Eighth Day)
The Spring Feasts
God created the world and placed things in it to act as symbols or pictures to make us aware of Who He is, what He’s done and What He will do. Everyone needs water for survival. Without it we perish. In Ex. 17:6 God says to Moses,“‘Behold! I will stand before you there on the Rock at Horeb and you shall strike the Rock and water will come out of it, that the people may drink,’ and Moses did so in the sight of the Elders of Israel."God gave Israel her most basic need for life: water, from a rock of all places! The Rock is Yeshua, as Paul says in 1st Cor. 10:1-4, and pictures Him being crucified for our greatest need—Living Water:‘ For I do not want you to be unaware, brethren, that our Fathers were all under the Cloud and all passed through the Sea and all were baptized into Moses in the Cloud and in the Sea and all ate the same spiritual food and all drank the same spiritual drink, for they were drinking from a spiritual Rock which followed them and the Rock was the Messiah.’First, Paul says ‘our Fathers’ including the Gentile believers of Corinth with the Sons of Israel in the Wilderness. This complements that the Gentile believers have been grafted into the House of Israel (Rom. 11:1-36; Eph. 2:1-22) in a most dramatic way. They are fully brothers with the literal descendants of Israel in the Wilderness because of their belief in Yeshua.
Second, all Israel was ‘baptized into Moses.’ We know that baptism into Yeshua means that we die to self and are alive unto Him. That’s what it should have meant to the Sons of Israel in the Wilderness, in relation to Moses, but their stubborn carnal nature led them another way.
Third, we come to the ‘Rock’ from which the Sons of Israel got water in the Wilderness. This was a picture of Messiah Yeshua giving the Water of life to both Jew and Gentile who believe. Water from a rock is a pretty impossible thing, but it parallels making Israel clean before the holy God.
Water not only sustains life as we drink it, but we also use it to clean ourselves with. The Rock is also a picture of stability in a very shaky world. These and other symbols are constantly used by Yahveh and Yeshua to denote God’s qualities. In Jeremiah 2:13 God says,‘For My people have committed two evils: they have forsaken Me, the Fountain of Living Waters, to hew for themselves cisterns, broken cisterns that can hold no water.’In Revelation 7:17 it states,‘for the Lamb in the center of the Throne will be their Shepherd and will guide them to Springs of the Waters of life and God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.’God uses the natural water to point us to Waters that are Living. In the Hebrew language, water is always plural: waters. When we look at the Earth we see that we not only get our food from it, but we also live upon it. This is a picture of Yahveh as our Rock and our Provider. In Dt. 32:4 it says,‘The Rock! His work is perfect, for all His ways are righteous! A God of faithfulness and without injustice! Righteous and upright is He!’This speaks of Yahveh as One who is stable, secure and can be trusted. The Lord’s Supper is the eating of the body and blood of Yeshua, which is the food of God for His people Israel, both Jew and Gentile who believe in Yeshua the Messiah.
The Feasts of Israel picture Yahveh’s ability to save His people from slavery, sustain and provide for them, both physically and spiritually, which is really one and the same thing in Hebraic terms.
Why Celebrate Passover Today?
1. Passover is a picture of salvation.• The Hebrew people went from slavery to freedom and from darkness to light. With the Second Passover, both Jew and Gentile were released from slavery to sin, Satan and eternal death, to walk in the Kingdom of Yeshua, the Light of the world.2. Passover remembers the death of the lamb in Egypt, which freed the Hebrews from slavery.• Yeshua is called the Lamb of God. When Yeshua dies, He tells us that as often as we eat His body and His blood, we do it in remembrance of His death, which means that we, too, must die to self.3. The essence of the Passover is where the Lord’s Supper comes from.• The Lord’s Supper was in the ancient Passover all the time. When Yeshua says that the ancients said not to murder, but that He says that we are not to hate our brother in our heart, Yeshua isn’t making up a new commandment and discarding the commandment not to murder. He’s explaining that the essence of the commandment not to murder is not to hate your brother. It was there all the time at the commandment’s very core, center or essence. So, too, with the Lord’s Supper in the First Passover.4. Yeshua and every Apostle celebrated Passover all their lives.• If we really want to know Who Yeshua was, and is now, we must realize that He not only celebrated Passover all His life on Earth in Israel, but that He commanded it to come into existence in the beginning. As we’ll see, He will also be celebrating it with us in Eternity.5. Passover is the ancient Hebraic heritage of every Gentile who has been grafted into the House of Israel.• It’s your time to start learning some of the God-given Family values.6. Passover also offers you a great lead in with Jewish people.• Tell a Jew that you celebrated or learned about Passover and their ears will perk up. They’ll think, ‘A Gentile knows about Passover?!’ It’s a great way to start a conversation about the Passover Lamb whose blood will deliver us from the wrath of God on the Day of Judgment, just as the blood of the lamb saved the Hebrew people from the wrath of God that First Passover.
The Dual Reality of the Three Spring Feasts
Passover proclaims the death of the lamb that freed Israel from Egyptian slavery. With the death of the Lamb, Israel was freed from slavery to sin and eternal death.
The Feast of Unleavened Bread was a seven day picture of ‘death to self’ for Israel. Yahveh demanded that Israel walk in holiness and sanctification. This was symbolized by the eating of bread without yeast; matza (unleavened bread). It’s during this Feast, that begins a couple of hours after the death of the lamb, that Yeshua dies as the Grain from Heaven that was crushed in order for His followers to eat of Him who is the Matza (Unleavened Bread) of life:‘Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the round and dies, it remains alone, but if it dies, it bears much fruit. He who loves his life will lose it, but he who hates his life in this world, will keep it to life eternal’ (Jn. 12:24-25).In this period of a week we are called to evaluate our position in Yeshua: are we dying to self daily that His life might be seen? Are we seeking to be made into His Image? This is pictured in the Lord’s Supper: death to self, which is eaten on the first day of the Feast of Matza and every day thereafter.
The First Sheaf Wave Offering always came on the Sunday of the Feast of Unleavened Bread week (except when Passover began on the seventh day Sabbath [Saturday], which meant that it would come a week later on Sunday). It was the time that Israel recognized that Yahveh provided grain (food and life) for His people and that giving the first of it to Him sanctified all the rest of the harvest for Israel. All the harvest is Yahveh’s, for He caused it to come forth and He was seen as giving it to Israel for her needs.
This also pictures Yeshua as that Grain from Heaven risen from the dead, caused to rise by Yahveh, and that all that who follow Him will be acceptable to Yahveh. The First Sheaf is dedicated or given to Yahveh, thereby making the rest of the harvest acceptable for consumption by Israel and also making Israel acceptable to Yahveh. Yeshua, rising from the dead, is seen as the First Sheaf. We as priests can eat of Him because He has been given to us by Yahveh for our food for life. As we walk with Him and are made into His Image, others are able to eat of Messiah Yeshua from us. The Aaronic Priests were the only ones able to eat of the First Sheaf Offering.1
The Meaning of Passover
The first Passover in Egypt was a time of entering into God’s covenant, of being cleansed or protected by the blood of a lamb and of release from bondage or slavery. It’s a time of new beginnings or new birth. Israel was birthed out of the Kingdom of Darkness into the Kingdom of Light. The new birth that Yeshua speaks of is a picture of what Yahveh had already done for His people in Egypt.
In Adam we have the Creation of the World. In Moses we have the Creation of the people of Yahveh, Israel. In Yeshua we have the re-Creation of the people of Yahveh—Israel; both Jew and Gentile.
Romans 8:18-25 says that everything in history awaits this new Creation. In Gen. 1:3 God’s first recorded words are ‘Let there be Light!’ and Light was. Now, that Light is in us! For the Light that appeared on the first day of Creation was not the sun, as the sun was made on the fourth day. The Light that manifested that First Day was the Light of the World, Yeshua, the uniquely begotten Son of God. Yeshua was not created. He is not a creature. He is the uniquely begotten Son of the Father, fully deity and with His conception in the womb of Miryam (Mary), fully human. With His death and resurrection He is now the God-Man glorified.
Israel was conceived in one man: Abraham and the re-created Israel is conceived in one Man, also: Yeshua. Abraham left his family and all behind him, to come to Israel, and so did Yeshua.
Three thousand, four hundred years ago, Yahveh moved in a way that He had never moved before. To Fathers Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, He appeared in dreams and visions. To Joseph, He worked behind the scenes. In Moses, Yahveh, the great I AM, exploded upon history!
Egypt was the United States of its day, the superpower in the world, and therefore, the gods of Egypt were considered invincible by everyone. The Hebrew slaves were not in any position to negotiate their freedom. There was nothing that they possessed that they could offer Pharaoh in exchange for their freedom. Pharaoh owned them as slaves, and therefore, everything they had was Pharaoh’s. There was no way out. Before Yeshua died this was a perfect picture of our position to sin, eternal death and Satan.
Passover begins in Exodus 3 when the Messenger of Yahveh, commonly mis-translated as the Angel of the Lord, and Yahveh appear to Moses and send him to save the Hebrew slaves from Pharaoh and Egyptian oppression. In the Great News according to John, Yeshua refers to Himself as the Sent One at least 39 times.2 Here are just two of those references:‘ I can do nothing on My own initiative. As I hear, I judge and My judgment is just, because I do not seek My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me’ (Jn. 5:30).A messenger is ‘a sent one.’ Someone sent with a message. In Hebrew, the word used for ‘angel’ is mahl-ahch מַלְאַךְ, literally, a ‘messenger.’ Now, generally, messengers sent from God are angels, but in the case of ‘the Angel’ of the Lord, this Messenger is none other than Jesus. Why a number of English translations continue to use the word ‘Angel’ instead of ‘Messenger,’ when all know that it refers to Jesus, is beyond comprehension because this gives rise to doctrines of Satan that make Jesus out to be a created being. What else can an angel be? The text should be translated, ‘the Messenger of the Lord’ with a capital ‘M’ for this Messenger (and of course, even more properly, it should be translated as the Messenger of Yahveh). In the places where the Messenger of Yahveh is seen, the Messenger not only receives worship, something that only should be given to God, but also speaks in the first person as God Himself, something an angel of Yahveh never does in Scripture.3
‘ As the living Father sent Me, and I live because of the Father, so he who eats Me, he also will live because of Me’ (Jn. 6:57).
The ten plagues in Egypt are judgments against Egypt and her gods. The first plague, the Nile being changed into blood, gets the attention of the Egyptians in two very powerful ways. First, the Nile was the source of ancient Egypt’s rich fertility, and therefore, her life. Without the Nile there never would have been an Egypt as we know it.
Second, because it was seen as the source of life (water), religious hymns were song to the Nile for it was also considered a god. The Nile was deified by the Egyptians.4 These hymns can be found in museums in Cairo and London today. They are prolific.
The Nile being changed into blood would also picture the last judgment upon Egypt, death; the (red) blood of the firstborn of Egypt being required because of Pharaoh’s stubbornness. The number ten is the number one with a zero after it. The significance is that the number one remains the same in essence, but it’s magnified.
The second plague was frogs. They also symbolized a god of fertility to the Egyptians. It’s as though Yahveh were saying, ‘You like to worship frogs, I’ll give you frogs!’
All the ten plagues were directed at a particular god of Egypt. The ninth plague was darkness upon all the land of Egypt, except where the Hebrew slaves dwelt, in Goshen. It was directed at the highest Egyptian god, Ra, the sun god. Pharaoh was worshipped as an incarnation of Ra (the son of god in the flesh). Sound familiar? The incarnation of the sun god was a common ancient pagan concept before Yeshua wedded Himself to humanity. Satan is the master deceiver and has set up pagan religions to mimic the true religion of the God of Israel. Many get caught in his trap, thinking that if the ancient religions of the world had an incarnate sun god, with him dying and being resurrected, surely Christianity’s Jesus is just another version of that.
The tenth plague was the death of the firstborn of Egypt. Pharaoh and Ra (Satan) could do nothing to protect their people or stop it. Pharaoh’s son, next in line to the throne of Egypt, was killed, as well as all the other firstborn sons and all the firstborn of their animals. Yahveh struck at the very heart of Egypt. The firstborn son signifies the strength of a man or nation (Gen. 49:3).
Just as Adam is the head of all mankind, so the firstborn of Egypt were the head of their race. In the Passover, Yahveh claims all the firstborn of Israel for Himself. They belong to Him in a special way. They would have all been priests unto Yahveh, from every Tribe and family of Israel, had Israel not rebelled in the incident of the Gold Calf.
Israel’s firstborn sons were spared in Egypt, saved or delivered from death by a ceremony that sacrificed a lamb and placed its blood upon the doorposts and the lintel of their homes. Passover literally means, ‘to leap over; to pass over.’ This pictures the Lord Yahveh passing over the homes of the Hebrews because of the blood of the lamb that ‘protected’ that home. Exodus 12:23 reads:
‘For Yahveh will pass through to smite the Egyptians and when He sees the blood on the lintel and on the two doorposts, Yahveh will pass over the door and will not allow the Destroyer to come into your houses to smite you’ (Ex. 12:23).This is a picture of what will happen to all believers in Yeshua on the Day of Judgment. Having the blood of the Lamb within us means that the wrath of Yahveh will ‘pass over’ us. We will be saved from eternal death. Exodus 12:27 reads:“you shall say, ‘It is a Passover sacrifice to Yahveh, who passed over the houses of the Sons of Israel in Egypt when He smote the Egyptians, but spared our homes,’ and the people bowed down and worshiped."The 10th plague of death shattered the very fabric and core of Egyptian reality. It was not only the death of the firstborn of Egypt, but the total destruction of their religious understanding and of how they perceived the universe. They were completely shattered. The Egyptian gods could do nothing against Yahveh, the God of the Hebrew slaves—the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. Passover is a mini-Judgment Day. Yahveh could have destroyed all the Egyptians, but chose to keep some around to proclaim what He had done.
Exodus 12:1-14 records the commandment to keep Passover, along with the three foods that are required for a biblical Passover: lamb, matza and bitter herbs. Exodus 12:1-2 states:“Now Yahveh said to Moses and Aaron in the land of Egypt, ‘This month shall be the beginning of months for you. It’s to be the first month of the year to you.’"This speaks of the month in which Passover falls, that it will be the beginning of the months for the Hebrews, in distinction to the Egyptian calendar.5 Exodus 12:3-5 has Israel separating the lamb on the 10th day of the month, four days before the Passover. Interestingly enough, Passover, 14 Aviv (the name of the first month in the biblical Hebrew calendar) is not a holy day, but the day the Passover lamb was slain, in the late afternoon at twilight, just before 15 Aviv when the Passover ceremony would take place:“Speak to all the Congregation of Israel, saying, ‘On the tenth of this month they are each one to take a lamb for themselves, according to their fathers’ households, a lamb for each household. Now, if the household is too small for a lamb, then he and his neighbor nearest to his house are to take one according to the number of persons in them; according to what each man should eat, you are to divide the lamb. Your lamb shall be an unblemished male a year old. You may take it from the sheep or from the goats.’"Setting the lamb apart for four days would mean that it was like a pet. At the end of the four days it would have been very hard to sacrifice it. These feelings are also seen in the hearts of the Apostles as they watched Yeshua being crucified.
Yeshua came into Jerusalem four days before His death ‘to be inspected’ by the Elders of Israel for ‘flaws or blemishes’ (i.e. sins, and if He really was the Messiah). In John 12:1, 12-13 it states:
‘Yeshua, therefore, six days before the Passover, came to Bethany where Lazarus was, whom Jesus had raised from the dead…On the next day the large crowd who had come to the Feast, when they heard that Yeshua was coming to Jerusalem took branches of palm trees and went out to meet Him, and cried out, ‘Hosanna! Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord! The King of Israel!’”
In Hebrew counting the day of the Passover would have been included in John’s description, therefore, what we might think of as five days before Passover was actually four days before Passover. ‘Without blemish’ means that the lamb would be healthy. It doesn’t mean that it had to be pure white. It would be a male of the flock, one year old and it would picture Yeshua in the prime of His life. John the Baptist declared, ‘Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world’ (Jn. 1:29).
John’s disciples might not have understood that as we do today, but they would have associated it with the Passover lamb who brought them forth from Egyptian slavery. How they might have understood it at that time was that the Messiah would deliver them from Roman oppression.
Everyone ‘participated’ in the sacrifice of the lamb:‘ You shall keep it until the fourteenth day of the same month, then the whole assembly of the Congregation of Israel is to kill it at twilight’ (Ex. 12:6).The ‘whole assembly killing it at twilight’ meant that everyone, not just the ones slaying the lamb, and not just the firstborn whose lives were on the line, but everyone had to see the sacrifice of the lamb. Every Hebrew man, woman and child who was to be delivered from Egyptian slavery had to look upon the sacrifice of the lamb—to the Glory of Yahveh.
Anyone who desires to enter into the Kingdom of Heaven must look upon Messiah crucified—to the Glory of the Father. The heavenly work of Yeshua’s sacrificial blood must be upon their lives.
Exodus 12:7 speaks of where the blood was to be placed: upon the doorposts and the lintel:‘Moreover, they shall take some of the blood and put it on the two doorposts and on the lintel of the houses in which they eat it.’Houses are often used in cartoons as a picture of the face: the door is the mouth and the windows are the eyes. The blood of the lamb was symbolically being placed over the mouth of Israel. This is one part of the Lord’s Supper because wine is symbolic of blood. Blood is represented in Scripture as wine. In Gen. 49:11 it states of the future Messiah:‘ He ties his foal to the vine and His donkey’s colt to the choice vine. He washes His garments in wine and His robes in the blood of grapes.’The juice of the grape is called ‘blood.’ In an allusion to Yeshua defeating His enemies and their blood flowing like wine, Rev. 14:20 states:‘ And the wine press was trodden outside the city and blood came out from the wine press up to the horses’ bridles for a distance of two hundred miles.’In Deuteronomy 32:14 it has:‘ Curds of cows and milk of the flock with fat of lambs and rams, the breed of Bashan and goats. With the finest of the wheat and of the blood of grapes you drank wine.’This dual reference, wine picturing blood and vice versa, is why Yeshua could use the wine at the Passover table to picture His blood sacrifice. The wine was there on the table to symbolize the blood of the lamb that saved Israel from Egyptian slavery.
Exodus 12:8 reveals the three biblical foods for Passover: Roasted lamb, which pictures Yeshua’s brutal death. Bitter herbs, which stand for the life of bitterness that the Hebrews had in Egyptian slavery, and matza, which also speaks of their being afflicted. In Jer. 11:4 Yahveh calls Egypt an iron furnace:“ which I commanded your Fathers in the Day that I brought them out of the land of Egypt, from the iron furnace, saying, ‘Listen to My Voice and do according to all which I command you so you shall be My people and I will be your God.’"An iron furnace is a furnace so hot that it literally melts iron. It’s symbolic of the intense suffering and pain that the Egyptians perpetrated against the Hebrews. For us it pictures the bitterness of trusting in ourself before we come to Yeshua and the fruitlessness of walking in carnality after we come to Him.
Matza (unleavened bread) is symbolic of pure bread because it has no yeast (corruption) in it. Yeast or leaven pictures sin. Yeshua is the Bread of Heaven pictured in the unleavened bread of Passover. Unleavened bread (matza) is a picture of sinless or holy bread. Yahveh continued to give directions to Israel for the celebrating of His Passover:‘Do not eat any of it raw or boiled at all with water, but rather roasted with fire, both its head and its legs along with its entrails’ (Ex. 12:9).This pictures that in His sacrifice Yeshua would die a brutal death and that He would be ‘whole,’ with not a bone broken. In Ex. 12:10 it states,‘And you shall not leave any of it over until morning, but whatever is left of it until morning you shall burn with fire.’This refers to the one-time sacrifice of Yeshua. He doesn’t have to come back in each generation and be sacrificed again (Heb. 9:23-28).
In Ex. 12:11 it speaks of how Israel was to eat it:‘Now you shall eat it in this manner: with your loins girded, your sandals on your feet and your staff in your hand, and you must eat it in haste—it is Yahveh’s Passover.’In preparation for leaving Egypt, the Hebrews were to have a belt or a sash on their waist, which meant that it would lift up the bottom of their garments to make walking a long distance easier. Sandals on their feet spoke of the distance involved that they would travel and of the necessity for protecting their feet. A staff in their hand would also help them on their long journey.
Every time we take the Lord’s Supper we need to be ready to leave our life of sin and indifference in order to walk with Yeshua in His Kingdom. It’s a picture of what happened when we first said, ‘Yes!’ to Yeshua. He took us out of the Kingdom of Darkness and brought us into His Kingdom of Light.
Exodus 12:12-14 speaks of the destruction and judgment that Yahveh would cause to happen upon an Egypt that was stubborn to her core. She would not take the blood of the lamb. Egypt pictures the world that refuses what Yahveh has done for it in offering it His Son. When we take the matza and the wine, the body and blood of Yeshua, we are entering into, re-enacting, the Passover drama and taking upon ourself Yahveh’s provision for salvation. Without the blood of the Lamb it would have been just as impossible for us to leave Satan’s Kingdom as it was for Israel to leave Pharaoh’s Kingdom:‘For I will go through the land of Egypt on that night and will strike down all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, both man and beast and against all the gods of Egypt I will execute judgments—I am Yahveh! The blood shall be a sign for you on the houses where you live and when I see the blood I will pass over you and no plague will befall you to destroy you when I strike the land of Egypt. Now this day will be a memorial to you and you must celebrate it as a Feast to Yahveh throughout your generations. You are to celebrate it as a permanent ordinance.’This passage reveals that it was a ‘show-down’ between the powers of darkness and the God of Light. It also speaks of celebrating the Feast of Passover forever. Passover honors Yahveh and what He has done for His people Israel in giving the Passover Lamb; to free her first from slavery to Pharaoh, and then, Satan.
The Passover Ceremony
In celebrating the Feast a ceremony arose with the eating of the lamb, the matza and the bitter herbs. The Passover ceremony can be divided into three parts:1. The ceremony before the meal.The Lord Yeshua would take the already present matza and wine after the meal and speak of them representing His body and blood. The matza pictured sinlessness, humility and holiness and so those who eat of His body will become like Him. The wine pictured the blood of the lamb that God used to set Israel free from slavery to Pharaoh and the wine now also pictures the blood of the Lamb to set us free from slavery to Satan. Both sets of meanings for Passover remain for us today. They complement one another because Yahveh set it up that way. This allowed Yeshua to walk into an already established feast that spoke of freedom from slavery by the blood of a lamb.
2. The meal.
3. The ceremony after the meal.
I’m going to interweave an ancient Passover ceremony, one that Yeshua would have participated in all His life, and one that you might see today if you were to be invited to a traditional Jewish Passover ceremony this year.
Before the Ceremony
Traditionally, before the Passover ceremony, all yeast and leavened bread would have to be out of the house and out of the Land of Israel. Bread with yeast must not be eaten for seven days or even seen in the Land (Ex. 14:15-20).
Many times in the Gospels, Passover and the Feast of Unleavened Bread are used interchangeably. Luke 22:1 reads, ‘Now the Feast of Unleavened Bread drew near, which is called Passover’ (see also Mt. 26:17; Mk. 14:1, 12; Lk. 22:7). Passover technically relates to the sacrifice of the lamb which would happen in the late afternoon of the 14th of Aviv. The Feast of Unleavened Bread would begin a couple of hours later at dark (the beginning of a new day, the 15th of Aviv). Yeshua would have eaten the lamb that night, on the 15th of Aviv, as darkness begins the next day in biblical understanding (‘and the evening and the morning were the first day’ Gen. 1:5). The symbolism to Israel was this:a. Leaven represents sin.The Israeli saw this seven day feast as removing sin from himself and his country and walking in holiness. It also spoke to Israel of walking in holiness for the greater cycle of time: a year; until the next Passover. Passover was a ceremonial reminder that Yahveh had freed Israel from Egyptian slavery, not to do their own thing, but to be holy unto her God.
b. The house represents the person.
c. Seven days represents completion, perfection and holiness and a complete unit or cycle of time; a week or a year.
The Ceremony Begins!
The Blowing of the Shofar
Numbers 10:10 speaks of the silver trumpets announcing the beginning of the holy feasts to Israel. They would announce the Passover in Yeshua’s time in Jerusalem. The Temple priests would blow the trumpets from atop the Temple. In many places of Scripture, the shofar (ram’s horn) is blown as a trumpet.
The Lighting of the Oil Lamps (or Candles)
Light symbolizes Creation (Gen. 1:1-5). The lighting of oil lamps in Yeshua’s day (or candles today) would thank God for the Light of Creation. The first Words of Yahveh in the Bible are: ‘Let there be Light!’ Before that there was only darkness. Israel is seen as coming out of the darkness of Egyptian slavery into the Light of God’s Freedom. We, too, are called out of darkness into His marvelous Light. 1st Peter 2:9 says:‘ But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a peculiar people. That you should show forth the praises of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous Light.’The lighting of the oil lamps is always done by a woman. Isn’t it interesting that Yeshua, the Light of the World, came through Miryam, a Jewish woman.
The First of the Four Wine Cups (Glasses) of Blessing
Four times during the ceremony, cups full of wine are raised and God is blessed and thanked with various themes. The four cups each symbolize something different:1. The first cup is called the Cup of Sanctification. This officially begins the ceremony and has as its theme the sanctification or setting apart of the Passover meal in a very holy way. God has commanded it to be done (Ex. 12:14) and that makes it holy. The first cup pictures this. This is not an ordinary meal, but one that God has called Israel to observe. It speaks of the marriage supper of the Lamb (Rev. 19:6-9).
2. The second cup is called the Cup of Remembrance. It will be drunk just before the meal is eaten and call to mind that Israel’s salvation cost the lives of many Egyptians. They were also part of God’s creation and this cup traditionally remembers that.
3. The third cup is called the Cup of Redemption. It takes place immediately after the Passover Meal. It will be this third cup of wine that Yeshua lifts up and tells His followers to drink, for it’s not only a picture of the blood of the lamb in Egypt that God used to spare the Hebrew firstborn sons, but also a picture of the blood of the Lamb of God whose death spares all the firstborn sons of God who believe in His Firstborn Son (Heb. 12:23).
4. The fourth cup is called the Cup of Praise. It concludes the ceremony, giving praise to God for the Redemption that He has accomplished.
Washing the Hands
In the Passover ceremony there are a number of Jewish traditions that have sprung up over the centuries. One of them is the ceremonial washing of hands. Older children will come around the table with pitchers of water, a basin and a towel and the people will wash their hands saying the appropriate traditional blessing to God.
I realize that in the Christian world Jewish tradition has about as much value as legs on a snake! We must remember, though, that the Lord didn’t come against all Jewish tradition (Mt. 23:23), but only those which nullified the Word of God (Mt. 15:1-9).
Tradition is like a picture frame. If we were looking for a good picture frame to enhance a picture that we have, we wouldn’t buy one that distorted or hid the picture. The Word of God is the Picture. Traditions can be either good picture frames or bad picture frames. They can either enhance the meaning of the Word of God or they can distort, pervert and deny it.
The tradition of washing the hands and blessing God has a scriptural foundation in Psalm 24:3-4:‘ Who has the right to climb the Mountain of Yahveh? Who has the right to stand in His Holy Place? He whose hands are clean, whose heart is pure, whose soul does not worship worthless things and who never swears to a lie.’The symbolism for the traditional washing of the hands speaks of the Passover participants wanting their souls to be clean. Yeshua, though, refused the ‘washing of the hands’ ceremony for both Passover and every day (Lk. 11:37) because the Pharisees had turned it into a matter of sin or righteousness.6 They had made it so that anyone who didn’t say their blessing was sinning against God with ‘unclean hands’ (Mt. 15:1-20), at least in their eyes.
Yeshua uses the concept of hand washing, though, to springboard off of it and establish a tradition within Christianity. In John 13:4-5 we read,‘ He rose from supper and laid aside his garments and took a towel and girded Himself. After that He poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples feet and to wipe them with the towel in which He was girded.’Of course, the ‘supper’ is the Passover Meal and the towel and the basin and the water were there as part of the hand washing ceremony. Yeshua, as He had done with explaining the commandments of murder and adultery and what they ultimately meant (Mt. 5:21-32), radically changed the hand washing ceremony into a perfect ceremony on humility (Jn. 13:1-15).
The Three Matzot: A Messianic Tradition
Matzot is plural for matza (unleavened bread). If you were to be invited to the next Passover by a Jewish man by the name of, say, Max Goldstein, you would see a ceremony involving three matzot at this time in the Passover ceremony. Store bought matza is usually square, about 10 by 10 inches and tastes very dry and plain, like cardboard. It’s like a big cracker without yeast.
Max, as the head of the house, would have the three matzot layered in three napkins so that they didn’t touch one another, or a special Passover ‘pouch’ that would contain three sections within it so that each piece of matza would be in a separate compartment. He would then take out the middle matza, break it in half and put half back into the pouch and the other half he would wrap up in a linen napkin.
Max would place the half that was wrapped in a linen napkin next to his place setting until the meal would begin. Then, while everyone was eating, he would discreetly get up and hide it somewhere in the house. Once the children finished their meal they would be excused to leave the table to try and find the hidden matza. Max would then present the child who found it with a silver coin and lead everyone in thanking God for His redemption of Israel by eating of that piece of matza
. We Jewish people pride ourselves on being very smart. We normally have at least two reasons for doing anything we do, but if you were to ask Max why he just did what he did, in having three pieces of matza, breaking the middle piece and hiding it, he would have absolutely no satisfactory answer for you. The best that the Rabbis can do for Max is to suggest two possible groups of three:1. The Fathers of Israel: Abraham, Isaac and Jacob or,The grouping of three is there, but what the Rabbis cannot answer is why would Isaac, or the Levitical Priests, the ones in the middle of the groups representing the middle matza, have to be broken in half? There is no satisfactory rabbinical explanation for this, but what we see in this traditional ceremony of the matza is a very ancient Messianic tradition that obviously found its way into the traditional Jewish community as well. It’s a picture of the death, burial and resurrection of Messiah Yeshua:
2. the three layers of Israeli society: the Aaronic Priests, the Levitical Priests and the rest of Israel.1. The middle Matza is a picture of the middle Person of the Godhead: Yeshua.It’s very interesting that Jewish people do this ceremony and don’t realize that it’s a perfect picture of Messiah Yeshua. During the time of Passover, my prayer is that when they break the middle matza, that the Lord Yeshua will manifest Himself to them and that they would give their lives to Him. I base this prayer on Luke 24:30-31, where the two disciples (Cleopas and Simon; Lk. 24:18, 34) who walked with Him on the road to Emmaus, recognized Yeshua only after He blessed His Father for the matza and broke it at dinner with them that night:a. The other two matzot are the Father and the Holy Spirit.2. The breaking of this middle Matza is a picture of His crucifixion. The wrapping of the middle matza in a linen napkin pictures Yeshua being wrapped in a linen burial cloth after His death (Mt. 27:59: ‘And when Joseph had taken the body, he wrapped it in a clean linen cloth’).
b. The placing of the three matzot in the linen pouch so they can’t be seen is a picture of the God who is with us, yet invisible.
3. The hiding of this Matza is a picture of His burial.
4. The finding of the Matza is a picture of His being found alive from the dead, His resurrection.‘ When He had reclined at the table with them, He took the bread (matza) and blessed, and breaking it, He began giving it to them. Then their eyes were opened and they recognized Him and He vanished from their sight’ (Lk. 24:30-31).The bread would have to have been unleavened (matza) as it was still the Passover week (the Feast of Unleavened Bread on that Sunday).
The Four Questions
Religious Education at its Best—Designed by God
Exodus 12:24-27 and 13:8 set up the Ceremony to be unfolded to the next generation of Israel:“ And you must observe this event as an ordinance for you and your sons forever. When you enter the Land which Yahveh will give you, as He has promised, you must observe this ceremony, and when your sons say to you, ‘What does this ceremony mean to you?’ you shall say, ‘It is a Passover sacrifice to Yahveh who passed over the houses of the Sons of Israel in Egypt when He smote the Egyptians, but spared our homes’" (Ex. 12:24-27).Even this coming Passover, when Max retells the Passover story, he will say the Lord ‘did it for me, when I came out of Egypt.’ We Jews see ourselves as coming from the loins of our Fathers whom Yahveh delivered from Egyptian slavery. If Yahveh hadn’t saved us we would still be making bricks for Pharaoh.
“ You must tell your son on that day, saying, ‘It is because of what Yahveh did for me when I came out of Egypt’" (Ex. 13:8).
Tradition assigns the four questions to the youngest child who is able to read and understand. The logic behind this is divine. As the Passover was the highlight of the year, it was imbued with much value and honor. The only part of the ceremony that wasn’t done by the father as the head of the household would be the lighting of the oil lamps by his wife, and the asking of the four questions by his youngest son. The honor of being the youngest son of the family would fall upon every son, no matter how many sons the family had, as Passover would come around once a year and the son that was in that position would enter into the honor of asking the questions.
This would, of course, make a holy imprint upon the boy, that he had been able to be an active member of the Passover when there would be many people there who didn’t have a part, and here he was, with a key role. This would help to reinforce the reality of the value of the Passover among all the Sons of Israel. As we saw from Ex. 12:24-27 and 13:8, it was Yahveh, the God of Israel, who set the question up; ‘when your son asks you’.
The first two questions that Jewish people assign to the son are from the scriptural account. The last two questions are from tradition:1. Why is this night different from all other nights? On all other nights we can eat any bread that we want, but on this night we eat only matza. Why?The head of the household, the father, answers:
2. On all other nights we can eat any herb we like, but on this night we must have bitter herbs. Why?
3. On all other nights we don’t dip, but on this night we dip twice. Why?
4. On this night we recline at table. Why?1. Matza is eaten because when I left Egypt there was no time to wait for the dough to rise.2. Bitter herbs are eaten to reflect on the bitterness of our slavery in Egypt.
“The Egyptians urged the people, to send them out of the land in haste, for they said, ‘We will all be dead!’ So, the (Hebrew) people took their dough before it was leavened, with their kneading bowls bound up in the clothes on their shoulders" (Ex. 12:33-34).
‘ They baked the dough which they had brought out of Egypt into cakes of unleavened bread (matza). For it had not become leavened, since they were driven out of Egypt and could not delay, nor had they prepared any provisions for themselves’ (Ex. 12:39).
Yeast in dough must have time to set. If it is moved about, it won’t properly affect the dough. Also, when Israel left Egypt it says that the dough was in their kneading bowls and wrapped up in cloth. This way, the yeast from the air couldn’t get into the dough to leaven it.
The picture for those who love Yeshua is simple: get out of the land of sin and darkness as fast as your spiritual feet can carry you, leaving all your sin (leaven) behind!In Deuteronomy and Jeremiah both Moses and Yahveh call Egypt an iron furnace:3. We dip twice tonight in salty water to convey that God brought Israel through the Red Sea on dry land, but when the Egyptians tried to follow us, God caused the Sea to turn back on them.
‘ But Yahveh has taken you and brought you out of the iron furnace, from Egypt, to be a people for His own possession, as you are today’ (Dt. 4:20).
“ which I commanded your Fathers in the day that I brought them out of the land of Egypt, from the iron furnace, saying, ‘Listen to My Voice and do according to all which I command you, so you shall be My people and I will be your God’ (Jer. 11:4).
An iron furnace was a furnace that was so hot it literally would melt iron. It’s a picture of intense suffering, pain and humiliation. Isn’t that what Yeshua went through for us and what many believers go through before (and after) they come to Jesus?
The bitter ‘herbs’(maror מָרוֹר is usually horseradish. This bring tears to the eyes, an appropriate response to the time of suffering in Egypt. (Others eat watercress, celery, baby greens, radish (and/or) leaves, or anything else bitter. The word ‘herbs’ is not found in the Hebrew, so, it can be anything bitter, including horseradish.)
When I look back before I came to believe, I thought that I was a Somebody, going Somewhere, doing Something. I was totally deceived by the Prince of Darkness. I was actually a Nobody, going Nowhere, doing Nothing!Parsley is dipped twice into very salty water and then eaten. It pictures both Israel and Egypt going into the Red Sea. The parsley being eaten after the second dipping pictures the Egyptian Army being ‘swallowed up’ by the Sea.4. We recline at table tonight to express that we are no longer slaves. God saved us from Egyptian slavery so we could be free.7Max will recline at the table, with a pillow on his chair, to picture that the salvation that God has given to him and to all the Jewish people has made us a free people. In Egypt we had to stand and eat; there was no rest or freedom for us. We were slaves.
Isn’t that how we all were before we came to Yeshua: slaves to Satan?
In Yeshua’s day the Passover table was made up of three rectangular tables making a sort of square U, low to the ground, only a foot or so off the ground (a third of a meter). They didn’t use chairs, but long pillows to lay upon, which would surround the outer three sides of the tables. They would lie down on the large pillows with their bodies parallel to the table, with their feet jutting out at an angle from the table so that another could use that space for their body. In other words, their head and trunk would be closest to the table. They would be leaning on their left side and arm, and with their right hand they would pick up the food and eat it. The Apostles and Yeshua would seem to form a sort of large horseshoe around the table. The open part of the U allowed for food and wine to be placed on the tables and then taken up.8
The seating, or rather laying down order, would be hierarchical. Picturing a U, the youngest would be at the upper right hand side with feet at the very top of the U. Going down the U the host would be next, and then the guest of honor and after him, the next in honor, until one got all the way around the U to the upper left hand side where ‘least’ honored would be.
The youngest member in Yeshua’s day, situated in the upper right hand corner would have been John. If any questions were asked that night, John would have asked them (‘Why is this night different than all other nights,’ etc.) As we’ll see, he asked the most important question of the evening—one that wasn’t on the traditional menu.
The host (the person in charge) of the Passover ceremony would have been Yeshua as the head of the group. He would have most likely assigned the seating arrangements, including the place for the guest of honor, the one whom the host desired to honor. Yeshua would place Judas in the position as the guest of honor, as Scripture shows us, once we understand the seating (or reclining) positions.9 John recoremds,“ When Yeshua had said this, He became troubled in spirit and testified and said, ‘Truly, truly, I say to you, that one of you will betray Me.’ The disciples began looking at one another, at a loss to know of which one He was speaking. There was reclining on Jesus’ bosom one of His disciples whom Jesus loved" (Jn. 13:21-23).The one ‘whom Jesus loved’ would, of course, be John the beloved. He was able to be ‘in the bosom’ or chest area of Yeshua because John was laying with his back close to Yeshua’s front torso. The beloved one speaks of what happened next at the meal:“So, Simon Peter gestured to him, ‘Tell us who it is of whom He is speaking’" (Jn. 13:24).Where was Peter? He was at the opposite side of the table, facing John. In other words, it seems that Peter was directly across from John. This is very interesting as the assignment of places at the table was in order of importance; the youngest would be on the host’s right, then the host, then the guest of honor, then the next in honor, the next, the next until the very last ‘honored’ at the opposite end of the table. That’s most likely where Peter was, in the most humiliating place at the Passover table. He was either symbolically being humbled by the Lord, something that would happen in reality to Peter during the next three days when he came to see his heart, or Peter, in his carnal humility would take the place of ‘least honored.’10 That night Peter would deny he even knew Yeshua, three times. Peter’s pride would be crushed. Peter would be humiliated and in that humiliation he would cry out to the Lord for help and forgiveness, be forgiven, take the place as the chief Apostle of Messiah Yeshua. In that state, Yeshua would be able to use him. God cannot use those who walk in pride. Pride exalts itself above God and is at war with God. Pride in us is what Passover is all about. John further records in 13:25-26:“ He, leaning back thus on Jesus’ bosom, said to Him, ‘Lord, who is it?’ Yeshua then answered, ‘It is he for whom I shall dip the morsel and give it to.’ So, when He had dipped the morsel, He took and gave it to Judas, the son of Simon Iscariot"The morsel or sop, Edersheim writes, was a piece of lamb and bitter herbs on matza.11 This feeding or serving the guest of honor by the host pictures the honoring of the guest of honor by the host. Yeshua serving or feeding Judas, the one that was about to betray Him is an incredible picture of Who Yeshua is. Earlier in this chapter, one reads that Yeshua, washing the feet of all His followers would also certainly have washed the feet of Judas. In Yeshua’s day, the only slaves who washed the feet of others were the lowest slaves in the house.12 That’s why Simon Peter recoiled and rebukes Yeshua when Yeshua wanted to wash his feet (Jn. 13:8).
Why did Yeshua wash the feet of Judas and assign His betrayer the place of honor at the Passover table? Because Yeshua loved Judas, too. He knew that Judas would betray Him, but as a father loves all his sons, Yeshua as Creator loves all His sons and daughters. It’s a very tender and poignant reality that the King of the Universe had taken on the role of the lowest slave in Jewish society, to show Judas, the other Apostles and all of us that there is nothing that He will not do to serve us; to see us set free from sin and death; to help us to grow into His Image in this lifetime; to help us to overcome every physical, emotional, mental, spiritual and any other ‘reality’ that would seek to keep us from walking in intimate fellowship with Him now, and to live eternally with Him who is life in the future manifestation of the New Jerusalem. This is our Messiah.
“ After the matza, Satan then entered into him. Therefore Yeshua said to him, ‘What you do, do quickly.’ Now, no one of those reclining at the table13 knew for what purpose He had said this to him. For some were supposing because Judas had the money box that Yeshua was saying to him, ‘Buy the things we have need of for the Feast’ or else, that he should give something to the poor" (Jn. 13:27-29).Edersheim dismantles the argument that the ‘supper’ of John wasn’t a Passover meal by stating:
“ Sufficient here to state, that the provision and preparation of the needful food, and indeed of all that was needful for the Feast, was allowed on the 15th Nisan14 the mention of these two suggestions by the disciples seems almost necessarily to involve, that the writer of the Fourth Gospel had placed this meal in the Paschal Night. Had it been on the evening before, no one could have imagined that Judas had gone out during the night to buy provisions, when there was the whole next day for it, nor would it have been likely that a man should on any ordinary day go at such an hour to seek out the poor. But in the Paschal Night, when the great Temple-gates were opened at midnight to begin early preparations for the offering of the Chagigah, or festive sacrifice, which was not voluntary but of due, and the remainder of which was afterwards eaten at a festive meal, such preparations would be quite natural. And equally so, that the poor, who gathered around the Temple, might then seek to obtain the help of the charitable."15Why that would happen now at the meal only shows that those who saw it happening didn’t understand what was really going on, but thought of those two things.‘ So, after receiving the matza he immediately went out and it was night’ (Jn. 13:30).Why hadn’t the Apostles realized that Jesus was pointing to Judas as the traitor? It could have been that Yeshua only spoke it in a whisper to John.
Hagada: The Telling of the Passover Story
Hagada means ‘to tell’ and in this case refers to the telling of the Passover story. It explains why they are celebrating what they’re celebrating. It may start at Creation and go on for hours!, as the host would also recount how Yahveh chose Father Abram and changed his name to Abraham and promised him a great seed (many people) would come from him, and that God would give Father Abraham the Land of Israel and on and on and on, until he would come to the plagues and the salvation of Israel from Egyptian slavery.
In the days before movies and television this part of the Passover hagada was what everyone waited for. It was a reinforcing of who we were as Jews and how we had come to be God’s chosen people. There was much joy and excitement at the table. Only recently, in the course of human history, could every household have a Bible, and more than one, but the Passover hagada goes back 3,400 years during which most of that time, Jewish families would not have a Bible or a scroll. The hagada was a very special time of remembrance, especially as Yahveh had commanded it to be so. This was religious education at its best. This was the way the faith was passed on from fathers to sons in all Israel.
The Passover Seder Plate
Pesach, Hebrew for ‘to pass over, or to leap over’ comes into English as Passover. It pictures Yahveh passing over the houses of Israel where the blood of the lamb was and striking the houses of Egypt where the blood of the lamb wasn’t. Seder is a Hebrew word for ‘order,’ as in an arrangement of things, hence, the order in which the Passover ceremony proceeds. The Passover Seder Plate is a plate that has the biblical and traditional Passover foods on it. Each food item tells a story.
In the days of Yeshua there would be Passover lamb meat from the sacrifice at the table for all to eat. The lamb, eaten once a year, would picture both the lamb of God at the First Passover and the Lamb of God as the Second Passover.
Today, Max and millions of Jewish people that celebrate Passover will not have lamb meat. There are two reasons for this.1. When the Temple in Jerusalem, the heart of the Jewish people, was destroyed by the Roman Army under Titus in 70 A.D., all sacrifice ceased. This would include the Passover sacrifice not being done as well. Yet, in the centuries after that, they would still have lamb at the Passover table, but not sacrifice it. They would usually butcher it a day before the 14th of Aviv (Nisan) so that it couldn’t be taken to be a sacrifice. The Rabbis believed that sacrifice could only take place in the Temple.I realize that not many Christians today know this dark side about Church history, but validating this is not hard. One can read any Jewish history of the last 15 centuries, of which there are many paperback books out under such titles as ‘History of the Jews’ and you will be given specific dates, towns and accounts where Jewish communities have been burned to the ground and their property and goods plundered, their children taken from them, and many Jews murdered, all in the Name of Jesus. As hard as that is to imagine, this was Church theology toward God’s chosen people, the Jews, and much of that theology is still in place today.
2. It wasn’t until ten centuries after the crucifixion, with the rise of anti-Semitism in the Church and the demonic ‘blood libels’ that some Christians would accuse the Jews of, that the Jewish community in Europe stopped having lamb at Passover ‘to show’ the Christian community that they didn’t sacrifice any more.
The blood libels leveled against the Jews throughout the last one thousand years said that at Passover time the Jews kidnapped Christian boys and murdered them in order to use their blood for making matza. Horrible? Yes, but even in this day, Israel’s Arab enemies still teach this.
This accusation would be preached ‘as Gospel’ from pulpits by the Christian clergy and many a Jew would lose his or her life when Christian mobs, led by the clergy, would riot and destroy whole Jewish communities, venting their rage at the ‘Christ killers,’ as they were called. These were names given to them by such Christian theologians as Martin Luther, St. Augustine and Jerome. It wasn’t a great way to win Jews to Jesus.
Of course, this would culminate in six million Jewish men, women and children being murdered by the Nazis, just because they were Jewish. The Nazis, after the war at the Nuremburg trials, would use as their defense that ‘they were only doing to the Jews what the Church had been doing for centuries.’ Unfortunately, they weren’t lying, a very sad commentary on the European Church(es) and its relationship to the Jewish people.
In order to avoid the appearance of sacrifice, all Jews who have come from Europe, for almost every country of Europe turned against the Jews in the last thousand years, have stopped eating lamb altogether at Passover. Instead, they have beef or chicken as the meat dish.1. At Max’s table in the United States there will be the shank bone of a lamb (a part of one of the leg’s of a lamb). This will symbolize the lamb of the First Passover in Egypt for Max and the others at the table.
2. Maror (bitter) will also be on the plate. This is generally made up of horseradish, designed to put tears in their eyes to remember the life of bitterness in Egyptian slavery.
3. Parsley, lettuce or watercress is used for the tradition of dipping twice with salt water, very salty water being used to picture the Red Sea.
4. Next is the hard boiled egg which is also a traditional food that is used to represent Pharaoh’s hard heart. There are people who say that God isn’t fair because God Himself says that He will harden Pharaoh’s heart. The reasoning of these people go like this:‘If God hardens someone’s heart, what chance is there for that person to have anything but a hard heart?!’5. Another food on the Seder Plate is the dessert of the meal: haroset. It’s a finely chopped mixture of apples, honey, nuts, cinnamon and wine. It’s delicious! Once the mixture is made you can imagine that the apples will begin to oxidize. This is done intentionally because now the mixture will look like the mortar that we Jews were forced to use to make the pyramids, and other building projects, for Pharaoh.
This sounds reasonable, but these people don’t understand the one true God. If any of us have any sense of fairness or justice within us it must come from God who is righteous. In the Scriptures Yahveh does say that He will harden Pharaoh’s heart (Ex. 4:21; 7:3; 9:12; 10:1, 20, 27; 11:10), but it also says that Pharaoh will harden his own heart (Ex. 8:15, 32; 9:34). What is happening here?
The Lord Yeshua has given me an illustration that helps to explain this: if a brick of clay and a brick of wax are placed on the pavement in the heat of the sun on a hot day in July, the brick of clay will harden and the brick of wax will soften and melt. No one can rightfully accuse the sun and say, ‘It’s the sun’s fault!’ It is the nature (substance) of the two bricks that determines what will happen to them, and so it is with the human heart. We can either harden ourselves before the living God or we can melt and allow Him to use us for His Glory; a glory that makes us become like Him. This is called free will. We all have the ability to choose God or Satan, and so did Pharaoh.
In Pharaoh’s day every new plague was like ‘a ray of very hot sunshine’ revealing the one true God of the Hebrews to Pharaoh. After every plague Pharaoh had an opportunity to free Israel of his own volition. Pharaoh obstinately chose to rebel, time and time again, against the Most High God, each plague hardening him or revealing his true nature—his heart of stone. The price he paid is a picture of all who rebel against Yahveh and reject the blood of the Lamb of God over the doorway of their soul.The question comes, ‘Why would anything that is supposed to represent our painful labor under Pharaoh taste good?!’ The Rabbis say that it is symbolic of the pleasure that Israel had, even in Egyptian slavery. It’s a picture of the enjoyment of sin in the land of darkness. This is a great tradition from the Rabbis and very appropriate for all of us who believe in Messiah Yeshua, for we, too, take our sins of pleasure with us when we come into His Kingdom, hence, the need to die to self and live for Messiah.
The Second Cup of Blessing: The Cup of Remembrance
After Max would have explained each food item and everyone would have taken of them, the Seder Plate would give way to the Second Cup of Blessing (with another ceremonial washing of hands). The First Cup was used to sanctify or ‘set apart’ the table and the ceremony as holy, Yahveh commanding Israel to do so. The Second Cup, which would be used to begin the actual meal, is called the Cup of Remembrance because it ‘remembers’ that the Egyptians who died in the last plague of judgment were also part of God’s Creation and that Israel’s freedom came at the price of death for many.
Max will fill up the, as yet unused, second wine glass and place it on his plate, right in the center of the plate. At each place setting there will be four wine glasses, not just one wine glass used four times (although in poorer homes that practice is alright). He will then recite all the plagues that Yahveh did against Egypt, starting at the first; the Nile River being turned into blood, etc. Every time he mentions a plague, he, and all those present, will take their finger and dip it slightly into the wine glass to pick up some wine on their finger tip. They will then drip it onto the plate in remembrance of those awesome plagues and the havoc, destruction and death that it wreaked upon Egypt.
With the 10th plague finished, Max will lift up his slightly less than full wine glass and say the blessing, thanking God for the deliverance of Israel from Egypt. A full glass of wine symbolizes fullness of Joy. What this ceremony pictures is that their Joy is slightly diminished in their knowledge that their freedom came at the expense of Egyptian lives.
Max will then bless God for the meal and the eating will really begin. We Jews love to eat and the meal can go on for hours. As the children are always the first to get done with eating, the ceremony of the three matzot in the pouch was especially designed for them to be occupied in looking for the hidden matza while the adults continued to eat and enjoy the time that the Lord had provided in the Passover. The children would be dismissed to find the hidden matza and the one who found it would be given a silver coin. Silver is the metal of redemption in Scripture:“Yahveh also spoke to Moses, saying, ‘When you take a census of the Sons of Israel to number them, then each one of them shall give a ransom for himself to Yahveh when you number them, so that there will be no plague among them when you number them. This is what everyone who is numbered shall give: half a shekel according to the shekel of the sanctuary (the shekel is twenty gerahs), half a shekel as an offering to Yahveh.’"The shekel that is spoken of is a silver shekel. Scripture speaks of where all those silver half shekels went—to the work on the Tabernacle:
“Everyone who is numbered, from twenty years old and over, shall give the offering to Yahveh. The rich shall not pay more and the poor shall not pay less than the half shekel, when you give the offering to Yahveh to make atonement for yourselves. You shall take the atonement money from the Sons of Israel and shall give it for the service of the Tent of Meeting, that it may be a memorial for the Sons of Israel before Yahveh to make atonement for yourselves" (Ex. 30:11-16).“ And the silver of them that were numbered of the Assembly was a hundred talents, and one thousand, seven hundred and seventy-five shekels, after the shekel of the Sanctuary: a bekah for every man, that is, half a shekel, after the shekel of the Sanctuary, for every one that went to be numbered, from twenty years old and upward, for six hundred and three thousand, five hundred and fifty men’ (Exodus 38:25-26).Silver is the biblical metal picturing redemption, and therefore Yeshua as Savior-Redeemer. The child who finds the hidden matza is acting the part of the women who first saw Yeshua alive from the dead and who proclaimed Him as such. In essence, the child is being rewarded in the form of what he has symbolically found: the Redeemer Alive from the dead redemption has come!
At this time Max will take the half piece of matza that was found, what I call the picture of the resurrected Bread of Life found alive, and what Max calls ‘dessert’ and say, ‘All you who are hungry and afflicted, come to this table and eat!’
Now, after eating for a couple of hours, no one is starving to death, but the profound significance of his declaration is that this table, the Passover table, is the Table of Freedom. The un-leavened bread or matza is a picture to Max and the Jewish community of that freedom. This is why Yeshua, when He sat down to His Passover meal before His death, could align Himself, who is Freedom, with the matza that was already on the table picturing sinlessness, purity, affliction and freedom. He wasn’t making up something new, but giving the matza a greater meaning, in representing Him who gives freedom from sin and death, as we eat Him who is the Matza of life.
How Max could not question this anomaly, of calling this piece of matza dessert, is beyond my understanding. This matza is so very symbolic, even to him. To say that it’s dessert defies all reason.
After blessing God for the redemption that He has given Israel, Max and all present will eat of the ‘dessert.’ He will then take the Third Glass, fill it full with wine and bless God for redeeming Israel from Egypt, again. Yeshua takes this glass, after the Meal, and speaks of it picturing His blood sacrifice for the New Covenant. This Third Glass is known as the Cup of Redemption and this section of the Passover ceremony is the origin of what the Scriptures call the Lord’s Supper.16
An interesting side point is that wine is not mentioned as one of the three biblical foods of the Passover (Ex. 12:8); just lamb, matza and bitter herbs. So, one half of the Lord’s Supper, the wine, comes from a Jewish tradition! Jesus had no problem with this Jewish tradition. He used it to picture His blood. The other half of the Lord’s Supper comes from the Law where it speaks of matza having to be at the Passover meal (Ex. 12:8). So, one half of the Lord’s Supper comes from the Law (matza) and the other half comes from a Jewish tradition (wine).
The Lord’s Supper is actually a mini Passover meal, having within it the essence of the Passover. Biblically, this can be done twice a day (Ex. 29:38-43), but once a year, the Lord commands His people to observe the fuller, yearly Passover in honor to Him and the great deliverances that He has performed for Israel: the First Passover in Egypt—delivering the Hebrew slaves from Egyptian slavery, and the Second Passover in Jerusalem—delivering Israel, both Jew and Gentile from slavery to sin, Satan and death.
Matza is known both as the bread of affliction and the bread of freedom. God is still calling people to the Passover table.
Max calls the middle matza that is broken afikomen. This is a Greek word that can mean ‘dessert.’ From the very first time that I heard that, the meaning didn’t sit well with me. Why would Max have to use yet another piece of matza, bless God for it, say that it spoke of redemption from Egypt and then call it dessert?
Afikomen can mean ‘dessert,’ literally ‘it came’ (i.e. the portion after the meal; dessert), but it also means ‘He came.’ What the child is proclaiming in the hidden matza that was found is, ‘He came!’ (i.e. He has risen!). This ceremony of breaking the three matzot, hiding it and finding it must have originated with Greek speaking Jewish and Gentile believers (as the word is Greek and not Hebrew). Obviously, it originally spoke of Yeshua, as the Rabbis to this day don’t have a plausible biblical explanation for the three matzot, with the middle one being broken, hidden, found, and eaten ‘after the meal’ as part of the redemptive story.
Some Rabbis say that it’s only recently that afikomen found its way into the Passover Seder (ceremony), but that’s not possible. The ceremony is old enough that Jews all over the world have been doing it for a long time. It’s also alluded to in the Talmud, Pesachim 109a, so it’s at least 1,800 years oldÉold enough to have come from the Passover of believers in the days of the Apostles, and thereafter, picked up by the traditional Jewish community for their Passover.17
With tens of thousands of Jewish believers in the first century, Jews like Peter that believed Jesus was the Messiah, this ceremony of the three matzot came into being. It’s very clear that it relates to the death, burial and resurrection of Yeshua: the breaking of the matza at the beginning of the ceremony is Yeshua being broken: His death. The wrapping of the matza in a linen napkin is His Burial and the child finding the matza is the proclamation and celebration of His resurrection.
The book of Acts speaks of many thousands of Jews who came to Yeshua on the first day of Shavu’ot (Pentecost):‘So, then those who had received his word were baptized and that day there were added about three thousand (Jewish) souls’ (Acts 2:41).These 3,000 would only be men because women and children were seldom counted in a tally.18 Luke notes that many thousands of Jews came to the Lord a few days after that:‘ But many of those who had heard the message believed and the number of the men came to be about five thousand’ (Acts 4:4).The first Gentile doesn’t come into the Kingdom until about nine years after the resurrection. That would be Cornelius, as Acts 10:28, 44–11:1-18 point out. Later on in Acts it’s written that there were many tens of thousands of Jews that believed:“And when they heard it they began glorifying God and they said to him, ‘You see, brother, how many thousands there are among the Jews of those who have believed, and they are all zealous for the Law’" (Acts 21:20).Now we can better understand how their ceremony of the resurrected Savior would overflow into the traditional Jewish community. Of course, the traditional community that didn’t believe in Jesus would not use the true meaning, but everything else stayed the same so that today, when Max comes to this part after the Meal, he is in form, taking the Lord’s Supper; the matza and the wine, without realizing it. That’s why, in the breaking of the matza, Yeshua was seen. He was broken for us that we might see God and that’s why I will pray at this Passover coming up, that the Lord Yeshua will reveal Himself to Max and all the Jewish people in the world, that He is the One who was broken for their salvation from sin and death. I believe that it will happen one day for the Scriptures say:‘ I will pour out on the House of David and on the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the Spirit of grace and of supplication, so that they will look upon Me whom they have pierced and they will mourn for Him as one mourns for an only son and they will weep bitterly over Him like the bitter weeping over a (dead) firstborn’ (Zech. 12:10).The two Jewish disciples on the road to Emmaus saw their Messiah in the breaking of the matza, so one day, millions of Jews may very will see Yeshua as they break the matza for this Passover ceremony. Passover is the time when the Jewish people believe that Messiah will come and Passover will most likely be the time when Yeshua will reveal Himself to them. Why? Because Passover is a picture of going from slavery to freedom, and in that day all Israel will be saved, as it is written:
‘ In that Day a Fountain will be opened for the House of David and for the inhabitants of Jerusalem for sin and for uncleanness’ (Zech. 13:1).“and so all Israel will be saved, just as it is written, ‘The Deliverer will come from Zion. He will remove ungodliness from Jacob. This is My covenant with them when I take away their sins’" (Rom. 11:26-27).What better way to take sin away then at the Table of Freedom, the Passover table. That these verses cannot apply to those who are already in the body of Messiah is seen in that they are already saved, having their sins already washed away by the blood of the Lamb. Paul is writing for the Jewish people who have not yet come to know their Messiah. This is Yahveh fulfilling His word to Father Abraham when He said that He would be the God of Abraham’s sons:‘ I will establish My Covenant between Me and you and your descendants after you throughout their generations for an everlasting Covenant, to be God to you and to your descendants after you. I will give to you and to your descendants after you, the land of your sojournings, all the land of Canaan, for an everlasting possession and I will be their God.’ (Gen. 17:7-8)The Lord’s Supper comes from the Third Cup at Passover, the Cup of Redemption. When Yeshua sat down at the table, the table was already waiting for Him because the First Passover is a picture of the Second Passover that would come. What the matza and the wine symbolized would now take on an even greater meaning.
The foundation for the Lord’s Supper in the Old Testament is seen in three places:1. the Passover,In the daily sacrifices it’s revealed that the Lord’s Supper can be taken at least twice a day, biblically:
2. the daily sacrifices,
3. and the last or ultimate sacrifice of the Mosaic sacrificial system, the oblation and the libation.‘ Now this is what you must offer on the Altar: two one year old lambs each day, continuously. The one lamb you shall offer in the morning and the other lamb you shall offer at twilight and there shall be one-tenth of an ephah of fine flour mixed with one-fourth of a hin of beaten oil, and one-fourth of a hin of wine for a drink offering with one lamb. The other lamb you must offer at twilight and shall offer with it the same grain offering and the same drink offering as in the morning, for a soothing aroma, an offering by fire to Yahveh. It shall be a continual burnt sacrifice throughout your generations at the doorway of the Tent of Meeting before Yahveh, where I will meet with you, to speak to you there’ (Ex. 29:38-42).The daily sacrifices were done twice a day; at the beginning of light and at the end of light. It’s almost as if they formed two pillars that stood between light and darkness or encapsulated the light and kept the darkness out (because of the Lamb, Israel would have Light). The daily sacrifices were a picture and reminder of the First Passover and how Israel came to walk in freedom. Deuteronomy 16:3 commands Israel to remember every day, the day of their salvation (Passover). Should we do any less?‘ You must not eat leavened bread with it. Seven days you must eat with it unleavened bread, the bread of affliction (for you came out of the land of Egypt in haste), so that you may remember all the days of your life the day when you came out of the land of Egypt’ (Dt. 16:3).Of course, ‘the day’ they came out of Egypt was the first day of the Feast of Matza, the 15th of Aviv (Ex. 12:29-32; Num. 33:3), the night before, the beginning of 15 Aviv, was when they ate the Passover meal, having slain the Passover lamb the afternoon before. Yahveh killed all the firstborn of Egypt that night (Ex. 12:29), but spared Israel’s firstborn because of the blood of the lamb.
The daily lambs sacrificed were a whole burnt sacrifice, meaning that Israel was to see itself as being totally consecrated to Yahveh. The fine flour without yeast (an oblation) pictured the matza of Passover. The libation or wine pictured the blood sacrifice of the lamb. All this pictured Yeshua as the Lamb of God. The lamb and the flour picture His body, real flesh, crushed like grain; and the wine, His blood.
Another interesting point is that only the priests could eat of the flour (bread or matza) and the wine of the daily sacrifice. Believers, as priests of Yeshua, can eat from the sacrifice of Messiah that is in the heavens today. This is what the writer of Hebrews is talking about when he says,‘We have an Altar from which those who serve the Temple have no right to eat’ (Heb. 13:10).The reason the Temple priests had no right to eat from the heavenly Altar, where the eternal sacrifice of Yeshua continually goes up, is because they didn’t believe in Him, but we who believe in Him take of His body and His blood daily. Yahveh set up the daily sacrifice of the lambs for Israel to realize that it was the blood or death of the lamb that gave them their freedom. Theologically, one can have the Lord’s Supper twice a day; in the morning and in the late afternoon just before dark, but I also see here that anytime during the day would be alright as the two are a continuous offering, and one could have it as many times a day as one wanted because it was a continuous sacrifice.
Also, this Altar mentioned in Hebrews is not the gold Altar of Incense where only incense was burned (picturing the prayers of the High Priest for His people Israel and the prayers of Israel). No one ate of anything placed on the gold Altar in the Holy Place. Only incense was placed on it. The only Altar that the priests could eat from was the bronze Altar of Sacrifice. It’s this Altar that Hebrews is pointing to and it’s the eternal or heavenly body and blood of the Lamb of God that is on it for us to eat of today and to thank our Messiah for eternally. We can eat from His body and drink from His blood anytime, day or night.
Looking at it from another biblical perspective, we also see that the flour and the wine, the oblation and libation, are the highest sacrifice in the Mosaic sacrificial system.19 This sacrifice speaks of transformation: flour was once whole kernels. Wine was once grapes. Both had to be crushed in order for them to be eaten or drunk. Yeshua was crushed for us that we might eat of Him who is Life. Again, only the priests could eat from this sacrifice (Lev. 22:10-16).
Yeshua was the Sacrifice Lamb. All these things pointed to Him and they still point to Him. That’s what the Apostle Paul is saying in Col. 2:16-17. When we take the Lord’s Supper we are walking in the triple biblical reality of the daily sacrifice, the ultimate sacrifice in the Mosaic sacrificial system (the grain and the wine) and the Passover of Yahveh.
The Lord’s Supper
The Third Cup of Wine and the Matza after the Passover Meal
In the last Passover that Jesus celebrated with His disciples, He took the matza and the cup of wine and amplified its meaning. Both the matza and the cup already meant freedom from slavery because of the lamb slain in Egypt and God having the Hebrews to eat matza. Now Yeshua spoke of the matza and the wine picturing His body and blood. Before I share on what the Lord’s Supper is, I want to explain what the Apostle Paul’s admonition to the Christians at Corinth meant.
In 1st Cor. 11:23-32 Paul speaks about the Lord’s Supper. Unfortunately, it’s not his theological dissertation on the Lord’s Supper, but mostly a negative rebuke to Gentile Christians to stop practices that were contrary to the Spirit of Messiah (1st Cor. 11:17-22). To understand Paul’s attitude in dealing with the problem in the Corinthians’ taking of the Lord’s Supper I’ve included some highlights from a few chapters of his letter. Paul was very frustrated with those Corinthians. I think Corinth was one place where we might expect to see the Apostle pulling out his Jewish beard (Lev. 19:27).1. In the first chapter Paul writes of factions. One is for Apollos, one is for Paul and another for Peter!Finally, Paul comes to the body and blood of Yeshua, but he is still putting out brush fires! 1st Cor. 11:17-22 has him coming against them for their current practice of the Lord’s Supper:
2. In the third chapter Paul rebukes them for their carnality, calling them infants in Christ.
3. In the fifth chapter a man is sleeping with his father’s wife and is still a member in good standing in the church!
4. In the sixth chapter church members are taking one another to court, and that, in front of unbelievers! Some of them are practicing fornication, which means they were having sex with cult prostitutes.20 This is quite a lively congregation!
5. In the eighth chapter Paul tells them not to eat food sacrificed to idols in the temple of their gods for it will cause a weaker brother to stumble.
6. In the 10:21 he warns them, ‘You cannot drink the Cup of the Lord and the cup of demons! You cannot partake of the Lord’s table and the table of demons!’ This means that there were some who professed belief in Jesus and drank the cup of demon gods! What they drank would have been either real blood from an animal sacrifice (to the god or goddess) or a blood substitute.‘But in giving this instruction, I do not praise you because you come together not for the better, but for the worse. For, in the first place, when you come together as a church, I hear that divisions exist among you, and in part I believe it. For there must also be factions among you, so that those who are approved may become evident among you. Therefore when you meet together, it is not to eat the Lord’s Supper for in your eating each one takes his own supper first and one is hungry and another is drunk. What?! Do you not have houses in which to eat and drink? Or do you despise the congregation of God and shame those who have nothing? What shall I say to you? Shall I praise you? In this I will not praise you.’Then Paul goes on to speak about the body and blood of Yeshua:“ For I received from the Lord that which I also delivered to you, that the Lord Jesus in the night in which He was betrayed took bread (matza) and when He had given thanks, He broke it and said, ‘This is My body, which is for you. Do this in remembrance of Me.’"1st Cor. 11:23-32 tells us very little of what the Lord’s Supper really is, but it does say that we should not be unworthy in taking it. If we were, it would make us guilty of not taking His body and blood for the reason that it was given: to cleanse us and make us like Him. Paul tells us to examine ourselves and in v. 31 he tells us to judge ourselves.
“ In the same way He took the cup also after supper, saying, ‘This cup is the New Covenant in My blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of Me.’"
“ For as often as you eat this matza and drink the cup you proclaim the Lord’s death until He comes. Therefore, whoever eats the matza or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner shall be guilty of the body and the blood of the Lord, but a man must examine himself and in so doing he is to eat of the matza and drink of the cup. For he who eats and drinks, eats and drinks judgment to himself if he does not judge the body rightly. For this reason many among you are weak and sick and a number sleep, but if we judged ourselves rightly, we would not be judged, but when we are judged we are disciplined by the Lord so that we will not be condemned along with the world" (1st Cor. 11:23-32).
What Paul is saying is that before we take the Lord’s Supper, if there is sin in our life we must separate ourself from it. We must confess it to Yeshua and ask Him to forgive us and to deliver us from it. If we have bitterness in our heart from pain caused by someone we are to tell Him about this and ask Him to heal us that we might be able to walk in forgiveness and love. Now, we may take the Lord’s Supper, relying upon His blood and His body to free us from that sin and make us like Him. This is the ‘negative side’ of the Lord’s Supper. We are to judge ourselves. His body and blood are real food. Those that are hungry, in need of the Matza of Heaven, may confidently come and know that they will be strengthened, just as much as if they were famished and someone had fed them natural food.
What does it mean to ‘proclaim His death’ every time we take the Lord’s Supper (vv. 24-26)? It means that we are to die to self. This is part of judging oneself. We are to enter into His death, that we might die to ourselves and be alive unto Him. We ‘proclaim His death’ by dying to self and if we take the Lord’s Supper thinking that we don’t have to die to self, that we can walk in our own carnality, we take the Supper to our own condemnation. He did not die to sanctify our carnality, rebellion, stubbornness and pride.
A word about unworthiness or condemnation: if one feels unworthy and refuses to take the Lord’s Supper because of it, they are rejecting Jesus and His death on the tree for them. No one is ‘worthy enough’ in their own to take the Lord’s Supper. It’s only for those who know their lack of worth before the most holy God. The attitude of ‘unworthiness’ that refuses to accept what God has done for it is really one of inverted pride. It will not trust in the sacrifice of Yeshua, but in self. It says, ‘I will make myself acceptable to God, my way,’ but we can never get ‘good enough’ to take the body and blood of Yeshua in our own strength or righteousness.
The positive side of the body and blood of Yeshua has another major aspect to it, which all stems from the original symbolism of the First Passover, Paul making mention of it, but not explaining it. It is the word remembrance and from this flows table fellowship and the attitude with which God wants us to eat the the body and blood of His Son.
As the Lord Yeshua passed the matza around the table that Passover night, Paul says that the meaning was to eat it in ‘remembrance of Him.’ Yeshua said this also (Lk. 22:19). The very next verse (11:25) declares that the wine pictures His blood and that we are to drink it in ‘remembrance of Him.’ We do this in remembrance of His death—this was the price of our freedom.
In Hebrew, the concept ‘to remember’ means, ‘to re-experience the event by going back to it.’ This is the reason for the Feasts of Israel, especially the Passover. Ex. 13:8 says,“ And on that day you will explain to your son, ‘This is because of what Yahveh did for me when I came out of Egypt!’"We Jews still say this today when we celebrate the Passover even though we obviously weren’t part of the group that left under Moses. When we Jews sit at our Passover table we envision ourselves at that First Passover in Egypt. This is seen from the above passage where God commands us to say that we came out of Egypt. As believers in Messiah, both Jew and Gentile, we come to see ourselves also at the Second Passover with Yeshua and all the Apostles with all the believers present.
Corporate identity is a term that theologians use to express the body of Christ: past, present and future, and we who believe in Yeshua are all part of that body. Hebrews 7:4-10 states that Melchizedek was a greater priest than the Levitical Priesthood (or the High Priest Aaron), and uses the concept of corporate identity. The writer says that Levy was in the loins of his father Abram when Abram gave a tithe to Melchizedek and Melchizedek blessed Abram (Gen. 14:18-20).
Therefore, Hebrews tells us that, without a doubt, the lesser is blessed by the greater. Levy, in a biblical sense, was tithing to a greater priesthood even though he hadn’t been born yet. Corporate identity allows us to consider Levy doing this even though the Levitical Priesthood wouldn’t come into existence until after the First Passover, 400 years later.
The Marriage Supper of the Lamb (Rev. 19:9) is a Passover. The BrideGroom and His Bride are sitting down at His wedding table. It’s a covenant of marriage for His Bride, the body of Messiah. That’s why it’s so important that we are totally dedicated to Yeshua when we take His body and His blood. We know that as we eat the Passover matza and wine that we are eating and drinking our God and becoming like Him. This is not magic, but the work of the Holy Spirit. This is how Yeshua can marry us, for in our earthly state, we are not fit for Yeshua to marry us. He is sinless and we are still in our mortal bodies sinning, but as we become like Him, and that is what His body and blood are all about, He is able to marry ‘after His own kind.’
All the creatures that were created could only marry after their own kind: Man with Woman, an eagle with an eagle, a lion with a lioness, etc., and so in order for God the Son to have a mate, that mate would have to be like Him. The original seven day Creation is a picture of the heavenly Creation. A wife for Adam came from the side of Adam, and so, a wife for Messiah came from His pierced side. Yeshua’s side was pierced and His blood and water came out unto the Earth to form His Bride, Israel. Man was created from the dust of the Earth, and now, any ‘dust’ that believes in Yeshua is effected by His life-giving and transforming blood. The blood is for cleansing, sanctification and transformation and the water for eternal life. The reality is that our nature, Adamic, will one day be made like the nature of Yeshua—human deity.
As we truly eat of His flesh and drink of His blood, which is real food and drink, pictured in the matza and the wine, we call upon the Holy Spirit to bring into our presence, the reality of His great sacrifice, which is pictured in the Second Passover with Yeshua and all that it implies for us.
His death means that we enter into it, by faith, dying to ourselves, which is what the Passover Lamb is all about, and baptism also:‘ What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin so that Grace may increase? May it never be! How shall we who died to sin still live in it? Or do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Messiah Yeshua have been baptized into His death? Therefore, we have been buried with Him through baptism into death, so that as Messiah was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we, too, might walk in newness of life. For if we have become united with Him in the likeness of His death, certainly we shall also be in the likeness of His resurrection, knowing this, that our old self was crucified with Him in order that our body of sin might be done away with, so that we would no longer be slaves to sin, for he who has died is freed from sin’ (Rom. 6:1-7).
‘Death to self’ is the basic concept behind both Passover and baptism. This is a death that brings freedom. Baptism is done at the beginning of our walk with Yeshua and Passover is done once a year. The mini-Passover (the Lord’s Supper) can be biblically done twice a day (Ex. 29:38-46) and in practice, can be done anytime, and as many times, during the day as one desires.
When anyone in the ancient Middle East would eat with anyone else, even an enemy, they were now bound to be like blood brothers. This is how powerful table fellowship or eating together is. It’s a sign of the strongest possible friendship. At the Passover table we have God in Yeshua, and Israel, sitting down and becoming friends. This is the New Covenant given to the House of Israel and the House of Judah as Jeremiah spoke of (31:31-34), and the Gentiles have been included in this. Isaiah prophesied, but it was Yeshua speaking, and He said,“And now says Yahveh, who formed Me from the womb to be His Servant, to bring Jacob back to Him, so that Israel might be gathered to Him, for I am honored in the sight of Yahveh, and My God is My strength. He says, ‘It is too small a thing that You should be My Servant to raise up the Tribes of Jacob and to restore the preserved ones of IsraelÉI will also make You a Light to the nations so that My salvation may reach to the ends of the Earth’" (Is. 49:5-6).We who were enemies of God, as the Apostle Paul says (Rom. 5:8), are now His friends. We are seen as friends of God because of the blood and body of the Lamb. Yeshua makes it possible for God the Father and us to be friends because of His Passover sacrifice. This is a very powerful reality. The God of Israel is our Friend. If we have any need, He will meet it. That’s the nature of friendship.
Rejoice! The Biblical Attitude for the Lord’s Supper
I have seen many people ‘prepare’ for the Lord’s Supper as though they were going to have to eat two pounds of sand. This is not the way we come to the table. In Ex. 12:14 Yahveh explains what the proper attitude for Passover, and therefore the mini-Passover, must be:‘ And this day will be for you a day to remember (and enter into) and you must celebrate it, a Feast (celebration) to Yahveh for all your generations, an eternal decree. You must celebrate the Feast!’The Passover is to be celebrated in honor of Yahveh and what He has done, not how we might feel over our sins that drag us down. The word celebrate means ‘to dance, to reel about, to be giddy and to rejoice,’ to rejoice mightily! The picture that best captures the emotional reality that God desires for us to have at the Passover or the Lord’s Supper is seen on the face of the Hebrews when they watched their enemies, the Egyptians, who wanted to murder them, engulfed in the Red Sea. First, complete dumbfounded amazement. Then slowly, grasping what had just happened, amazement gave way to incredible Joy!
The Psalmist rejoices in Yahveh and says that Passover is one of the great and mighty deeds of Yahveh (Ps. 77:12-20; 114:1-8). Salvation or redemption from Egypt is an unbelievable act that Yahveh did for His beloved Israel. Creation is the other mighty deed of Yahveh (Ps. 115), but the sacrifice of His Son, Yeshua, is the greatest and mightiest deed of Yahveh.
The sacrifice of Yeshua combines both creation and redemption. We have been set free from our enemies: sin, Satan and eternal death, and God has given us His Nature! This is not only a creative miracle, but a revelation of God’s heart for us. Who would give up their son for the likes of us?! What kind of a God is the God of Israel?! How to respond to all this? God commands us to rejoice, sing and dance unto Him! This is the biblical attitude for observing Passover and taking the matza and the wine (the Lord’s Supper). Using this understanding of ‘remembrance,’1. women can picture themselves next to Miryam as the Lord reveals Himself to her.
2. Men can be at the Passover table and feel the Lord’s friendship as He gives them the matza.
3. We can also ask to be at the tree where Yeshua is dying, our hearts breaking, standing shoulder to shoulder with the Apostles and the women and feeling His pain as His life slowly ebbs out of Him.
4. We can also be at the tomb and rejoice at His first appearance to Miryam. The Holy Spirit desires to reveal all these things to us and more.
Matza: the Crucified Lord
God has placed many word pictures within the Tanach that speak of Yeshua. There are few greater than Isaiah 53:5, which gives us an extraordinary picture of our Messiah as the crucified Lord:‘ He was pierced through for our open rebellion and crushed for our perverse heart. On Yeshua lies a punishment that brings us Shalom (Peace) with Papa God and through His bruises (stripes or scars) we are healed’ (my translation).For those of you who haven’t seen or tasted traditional matza yet, store bought matza is like a thin cracker with small holes in it and tastes like the cardboard box it comes in. The holes or piercings are done so as not to have one big ‘heat bubble’ while it’s being made.
In the days of Yeshua, the matza was also pierced through, but the texture was a lot more like bread without yeast. Matza, made with water, salt and olive oil, was supple and has a wonderful taste and nutritional quality to it.
Yeshua was literally pierced through. Not only were His hands and His feet pierced through, but also His side (Jn. 19:34). Isaiah said that our open rebellion to God was the reason for this: ‘He was pierced through for our open rebellion’.
The matza was once very hard kernels of wheat. It had to be crushed in order for it to be baked and made edible. Yeshua was crushed at His crucifixion because of our perverse and twisted hearts. The punishment we deserve is crucifixion, but He took our place that we might have shalom with Yahveh.
The brown markings on the matza are known as stripes or bruises. They come from the fire. Yeshua’s back was lashed open by the Romans until His flesh was bruised and torn in pieces: ‘and by His stripes (bruises) we are healed.’
The matza that we are to eat for the Lord’s Supper, coming from the Passover table, thus forms a perfect picture of the crucified Messiah. This is why Yahveh instituted matza for the First Passover.
Next we come to the wine. It comes from grapes. They, too, had to be crushed so we could drink it. This pictures Yeshua’s blood that we can drink because of His being crushed. The Rabbis say that the wine for Passover must be red, for it has to reflect the sacrificial blood of the Passover lamb, and in so doing, it also represents the blood of Yeshua, the Lamb of our God.
Wine in the Bible is a symbol of both of death (sacrifice) and life. Psalm 104:15 states, ‘and wine which makes man’s heart glad.’ Wine is not a part of the biblical commandment in Exodus, but Yeshua uses this Jewish tradition to form one half of the Lord’s Supper. This is one reason why it’s important to understand the Hebraic perspective of your faith.
When Yeshua came upon the scene 2,000 years ago everything was already there for Him. The Stage had already been set by His Father 1,400 years earlier in the First Passover. In Yeshua’s time, as He came to the third Passover cup of wine, He identifies Himself who is freedom (redemption) and salvation with the matza and the wine, which already pictured freedom and salvation from slavery, thus overlapping and intensifying the picture of the Passover matza and the wine.
Things to know for the Lord’s Supper1. Judge yourself. Die to yourself:Now one is ready to take the body and blood of our Lord Yeshua. The blessing that Yeshua said that night is evident from the words He used, ‘the fruit of the vine’:a. If there is sin in your life, ask Yeshua to forgive you and to take both it, and the desire to do it, away. Hebrews 12:1-3 speaks of the weight that so easily besets us: sins of pleasure, pride; sins that seduce and entice. The sin that so easily entangles or besets us ensnares us, trips us up so we can’t walk with Yeshua as He wants us to.
b. If you feel bitterness from relationships and injustice done to you, ask Yeshua to heal you so that you can forgive that person, as He has forgiven us.‘ But I say to you, I will not drink of this fruit of the vine from now on until that day when I drink it new with you in My Father’s Kingdom’ (Mt. 26:29, cf. Mk. 14:25).The term ‘fruit of the vine’ is taken from the Greek and is a direct quote from the traditional Hebrew blessing to Yahveh for wine. Because of this we know that Yeshua said the traditional Jewish blessing, thanking His Father for the fruit of the vine (wine). Understanding this, we realize that He also blessed His Father with the traditional Jewish blessing for the matza as well. Interestingly enough, these refer to Yeshua as the Wine and the true Bread (Matza) from Heaven.21 This is what Yeshua said that night in thanking His Father for the wine, and for His blood, which is true wine:
‘ Blessed are You, Yahveh our God, eternal King, Creator of the fruit of the vine.’
22ברוך אתה יהוה אלהינו מלך העולם בורא פרי הגפן.
The traditional Jewish blessing to God concerning bread or matza that Yeshua spoke that night was:‘Blessed are You, Yahveh our God, eternal King, the One who causes bread to come forth from the ground.
23 ברוך אתה יהוה אלהינו מלך העולם המוציא לחם מן הארץ
In turning to God we realize these things:1. Remember! We go back to the First Passover and the slavery before it. We see what God did for us as He brought Pharaoh to his knees, killing the firstborn of Egypt and He parted the Red Sea for us, drowning all the Egyptians who wanted to murder us.
2. The Second Passover: We can ask the Holy Spirit to help us to be at the table with Yeshua: We desire to feel the warmth of His friendship and love and to know that He is pleased with us because of what He has done for us.a. We can be there at His death. We can stand at the tree and feel His pain that He took in our place and know that our sins have been forgiven, God’s way.
b. We can ask to see Yeshua alive from the dead! We can rejoice with Miryam and the Apostles! The Lord Yeshua is risen! All our enemies are defeated! Not the least of which is our sinful self, and know that, one day, we will be glorified like Him.
A Place Setting for Elijah
At every traditional Passover table there is a place setting for Elijah. Food is placed on his plate and wine is poured into his glass. Why? Because the Jewish people believe that before the Messiah was to come, Elijah would proceed Him. This was not just a rabbinic tradition:‘Behold! I am going to send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and terrible day of Yahveh! He will restore the hearts of the fathers to their sons and the hearts of the sons to their fathers, so that I will not come and smite the Land with a curse’ (Mal. 4:5-6).This is why the disciples of Yeshua asked Him about Elijah:“They asked Him, saying, ‘Why is it that the scribes say that Elijah must come first?’ And He said to them, ‘Elijah does first come and restore all things, and yet, how is it written of the Son of Man that He will suffer many things and be treated with contempt? But I say to you that Elijah has indeed come and they did to him whatever they wished, just as it is written of him’" (Mark 9:11-13).At this point in the Passover ceremony Max will allow the children to leave the table and go to the front door. They’ll open it and shout as loud as they can, ‘Elijah! Come quickly!’
The Jewish people realize that the prophet must come before Messiah, and so, they want Elijah to come to herald the coming of the Messiah. Why at Passover? Because Passover speaks of freedom and what better time for a savior to come then at the time of our freedom from Egypt?
The Fourth Cup of Wine: The Cup of Praise
This cup praises Yahveh for His completed work of redemption, as seen in the Passover and Red Sea. The Hebrew people that came out of Egypt were completely saved from Egyptian slavery. Just about every believer who does the Passover drinks from this fourth cup, but there’s a problem with this. Jesus didn’t! Matthew 26:29, which takes place immediately after Yeshua drank from the third cup that He said was His blood, has Yeshua saying,‘I tell you, I will not drink this fruit of the vine again until the day I drink new wine with you in the Kingdom of My Father.’Traditional Jews drink from the fourth cup because God’s work of redemption (salvation) from Egyptian slavery was complete at the First Passover and the Red Sea. We shouldn’t though, because our redemption won’t be complete until we stand before God on Judgment Day and become like our Messiah, glorified. That’s why Yeshua didn’t drink of the fourth cup that night—we are not yet like Him. Before that Day we have the heavenly promise sealed by the death of Yeshua and the Holy Spirit within. Our glorification is more certain than the sun rising in the east tomorrow.
The fourth cup symbolizes the completed work of redemption for Israel in Messiah. This is the New Jerusalem, coming down from the new Heavens. Yeshua will drink it with us then, when we are glorified like Him. This is the praise to Papa God who has wrought this great redemption, the picture of the fourth cup, and why Yeshua didn’t drink of it that night on the Second Passover. He will, though, with us on the Third Passover, what Revelation calls the Marriage Supper of the Lamb (Rev. 19:6-9).
Another aspect of why Yeshua didn’t drink that fourth cup is that God is still calling people to the Second Passover table! It’s as though time has stood still for 2,000 years and has allowed us, who weren’t literally at that Second Passover table with Yeshua, to sit down and eat of His body and blood that we might be part of the Kingdom of God! This time period will end on the Day of Judgment, the Day of Yahveh, when all those who have really eaten of Him will have the wrath of God pass-over them, but those who haven’t will spend eternity in Hell Fire.
Hallel: the Psalms Sung
At the Passover meal it’s traditional to sing psalms of praise to Yahveh.24 In Matthew 26:30 it states,‘After singing the Hallel (hymns), they went out to the Mount of Olives.’Hallel means praise in Hebrew. Hallelu means, ‘you praise!’ It’s in the imperative form (a command). Halleluyah means (you) praise Yahveh! ‘Yah’ is a shortened form of Yahveh. In Exodus 15:2, in this most ancient Hebrew poetry, the Song of the (Red) Sea (in the Hebrew) reads,‘Yah is my strength and my song and He has become my salvation!’Psalms 113–118 are known as the Hallel and are traditionally sung or read at the Passover and that’s what the reference to ‘hymns’ refers to (in an English Bible for Mt. 26:30), although one might never realize this from the English word itself. The Lord Yeshua and the Apostles sung those Psalms that night, lifting up the God of Israel as the Creator of the universe and the Redeemer of Israel.
The Lord Yeshua and the Apostles went out that night to Gethsemane and He desired that His friends stay awake and ‘watch’ and pray with Him. Exodus 12:42 states that the Sons of Israel weren’t to fall asleep on this night because Yahveh had ‘kept watch’ for them that night so long ago in Egypt:‘Because Yahveh kept vigil that night to bring them out of Egypt, on this night all Israel is to keep vigil to honor Yahveh for the generations to come’ (Ex. 12:42).The Hebrew word shmurim שִמֻּרִים is translated as ‘vigil’ (NIV, NRSV and HCSB, while the NKJV has ‘solemn observance’) and comes from the verb that means, ‘to keep, (to) watch25.’ The Scriptures are saying that the night the Passover lamb is eaten is a night ‘of watching’ or staying awake all night. Yahveh commanded this because He ‘kept watch’ that night to bring Israel out of the kingdom of Egypt. Every one of the Hebrews stayed awake that night in anticipation of leaving Egypt. God also commanded Israel to stay awake on this night in the future, as a remembrance, because it symbolized that they, too, were there in Egypt with their Fathers who left Egypt at dawn. At the First Passover, no Hebrew slept that nightÉthey had to be ready to leave the Kingdom of Darkness.
The Apostles, also, should have stayed up all night long. Matthew specifically records that Peter, James and John fell asleep and broke the commandment. They also failed Yeshua, who asked them to stay awake with Him and pray:
“Then Yeshua came with them to a place called Gethsemane and said to the disciples, ‘Sit here while I go and pray over there.’ And He took with Him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee and He began to be sorrowful and deeply distressed. Then He said to them, ‘My soul is exceedingly sorrowful, even to death. Stay here and watch with Me’" (Mt. 26:36-38).“He went a little farther and fell on His face and prayed, saying, ‘Oh My Father, if it is possible, let this Cup pass from Me. Nevertheless, not as I will, but as You will.’ Then He came to His disciples and found them sleeping and said to Peter, ‘What?! Could you not watch with Me one hour? Watch and pray lest you enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak’" (Mt. 26:39-41).
“Again, a second time, He went away and prayed and He came and found them asleep again, for their eyes were heavy. So He left them, went away again and prayed the third time, saying the same words. Then He came to His disciples and said to them, ‘Are you still sleeping and resting? Behold, the hour is at hand and the Son of Man is being betrayed into the hands of sinners. Rise, let us be going. See, My betrayer is at hand’" (Mt. 26:42-46).
The Lord, even among His closest friends, was alone in His hour of agony and pain, yet it didn’t deter Him from setting His heart and mind to do the will of His Father. He not only kept watch all that night, He put into practice what that night meant: death to the old way of life so that the new life could come forth. Now, He is able to nurture those who are also walking ‘alone’ because they are following Him with all their heart.
If the Apostles had known that that Passover night would require the death of Yeshua, they would have forced themselves to stay awake, as the Hebrew slaves had done that night many years before (about 1,450 years earlier). The Apostles, though, thought that their Passover would be like all the other Passovers that they had observed before. How wrong they were. Gethsemane means, ‘oil press.’ This is where the olives were crushed by a massive stone rolling over them, to squeeze out the oil from them. It was here that Yeshua determined to do the will of His Father, saying, ‘Father, if You are willing, remove this Cup from MeÉyet not My will, but Yours be done’ (Lk. 22:42). Because Yeshua was willing to surrender His life and be crushed, the Oil of the Holy Spirit that was within Him is available to those who call upon His Name26.
There are ‘only’ three Passovers: the First in Egypt, the Second in Jerusalem, and the third in the New Jerusalem. At each Passover, Yahveh moves in such a way that He never did before or will again.1. At the First we see the death of the firstborn sons of Egypt and the sparing of Israel’s firstborn because of the blood of a lamb, and the freeing of Israel from Pharaoh’s slavery.
2. At the Second there is the death of the Firstborn Son of God, Yeshua, and again the sparing of Israel’s firstborn sons (which we all become in Yeshua) from Satan’s Kingdom.
3. At the Third Passover, because of the blood of the Lamb, we have the wrath of God Pass-over us and we are changed into glory to the praise of Abba El (Papa God). He has brought this great creative-redemption to His people Israel at the cost of His Son.
Passover and the Gentile
Passover is also for the Gentile believer. Celebrating Passover glorifies the Lord even and especially after His death and resurrection and is still a picture of things to come (the Marriage Supper of the Lamb). More and more Christians each year are experiencing the Passover in their homes and congregations.
Church history records that all Christians celebrated Passover till about 95 AD. Then, what would later become the Roman Catholic Church (in Rome), substituted Easter for it. Easter is a pagan holy day that commemorates the resurrection of the god Tamuz by his mother-wife Ishtar, her name being where ‘Easter’ comes from. Well past 400 A.D. many Christians were still celebrating Passover. Why did the Roman Catholic Church change it? Because they didn’t want to associate with anything ‘Jewish,’ which meant being persecuted, even Jewish believers. Little did they realize or care that what made the Jewish people ‘Jewish’ was their observance of the ways of Yahveh. Passover was given to the Jewish people by God, the Jewish people didn’t make it up. In 1st Cor. 5:6-8 Paul admonishes the Corinthian Christians to keep Passover:‘Your glorying is not good. Do you not know that a little leaven leavens the whole lump?’ (v. 6)This is nothing new to the ancient peoples. All Gentiles knew that a little leaven leavened the whole lump of dough, but then Paul went on to say,‘Therefore, purge out the old leaven that you may be a new lump, since you truly are unleavened’ (v. 7).This would only have meaning to them if they understood the Feast of Passover and Unleavened Bread. No other ancient or modern people has a feast in which yeast and leavened bread is taken away from them. Paul goes on to say,‘ For indeed, Christ our Passover was sacrificed for us’ (v. 8).Indeed, by the time First Corinthians was written (51–52 A.D.), the Messiah had already been sacrificed more than 20 years earlier. Paul then writes, ‘Therefore, let us celebrate the Feast’. This phrase, in the present ongoing tense, reminds one of God commanding Israel to celebrate the Passover forever (Ex. 12:14). Then Paul finishes by saying to celebrate the Passover,‘not with old leaven, nor with the leaven of malice and wickedness, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.’This is the very attitude that the ancient Hebrew were to walk in for their Passover: holiness. Measures against the Jewish people, wherever they lived, whether in Israel, Greece, Egypt or Rome would grow because the Jewish people would not bow down to the Roman Empire. In order not to be mistaken for a Jew, the Gentile believers in Rome began changing things like the Passover and the Sabbath day (to Sunday) and threw out the Law of Moses. Luke mentions one repressive measure by the Rome Empire against the Jews in Acts 18:2, about 50–51 A.D. It shows us the attitude of the Roman Emperor Claudius toward the Jewish people in Rome:‘And he found a Jew named Aquila, a native of Pontius, having recently come from Italy with his wife Priscilla, because Claudius had commanded all the Jews to leave Rome.’When the Temple in Jerusalem was destroyed by the Roman Army in 70 A.D. many Jews around the Roman Empire rioted in their cities. The Temple was the heart of the Jewish people, as you might well imagine. Many repressive Roman measures would be enacted against the Jews after that.
Samuele Bacchiocchi, in his book, From Sabbath to Sunday, notes that the celebration of Passover in Christian communities continued for hundreds of years after the resurrection of Yeshua, even though the Roman Church wanted to snuff it out. Here are two excerpts from Epiphanius, the bishop historian who lived from 315-403 A.D:
‘The controversy arose (literally, ‘was stirred up’) after the exodus of the bishops of the circumcision, 135 A.D. (of which there were 15), and it has continued until our time.27’Bacchiocchi remarks:
‘ The bishop makes specific reference to the 15 Jewish Christian bishops who administered the Church of Jerusalem up to 135 A.D. and who up to that time had practiced the Quartodeciman Passover28 since they based themselves on a document known as the Apostolic Constitutions, where the following rule is given:’The phrase, ‘as your brethren who came out from the circumcision’ speaks of the Jews who believed in Yeshua. The historian Eusebius, 260-340 A.D. speaks of the Passover being celebrated by Christians in the second century and the conflict within the Roman Church because Rome wanted it changed. Bishop Victor of Rome, 189-199 A.D.,
‘You shall not change the calculation of the time, but you must celebrate it at the same time as your brethren who came out from the circumcision. With them observe the Passover.’29
‘threatened to excommunicate the recalcitrant Christian communities of the province of Asia which refused to follow his instruction’ (to stop celebrating Passover).30This would be the entire Christian community of Asia Minor (present day Turkey), which would have included all the churches spoken of in chapters two and three of Revelation, and many more churches that Paul had both gone to and had written to because churches had sprung up in the hundred years since Paul and John were there. ‘Asia’ would have also included modern day Syria and Lebanon as well as points east:
“ Polycrates, Bishop of Ephesus and representative of the Asian Churches, strongly advocated the traditional (biblical) Passover date of the 14th of Nisan, commonly called ‘Quartodeciman Passover.’ Polycrates, claiming to possess the genuine Apostolic tradition transmitted to him by the Apostles Philip and John, refused to be frightened into submission by the threats of Victor of Rome.’31Quartodeciman breaks down into ‘quarter’ (fourth or four) and decimal (ten). This four and ten equals fourteen, the day that God commanded Israel to celebrate the Passover on: the 14th day of the first Hebrew month. That’s why the controversy was labeled the ‘Quartodeciman Passover.’ The Roman Church wanted to celebrate Easter at the traditional pagan time of Easter Sunday, but God commanded in Ex. 1:6,‘You must keep it (the Passover lamb) until the fourteenth day of the same month, then the whole assembly of the Congregation of Israel is to sacrifice it at twilight.’Bacchiocchi speaks of many others that kept the Passover:
“Athanasius of Alexandria mentions the ‘Syrians, Cilicians and the Mesopotamians’ as observant of the ‘Quartodeciman Passover.’"32Gentile Christian observance of Passover was very prevalent and not confined to just one locality: all of Turkey, Syria, the Middle East, Iran and Iraq kept it despite the perversion of Rome, and as we saw with the Apostle Paul, all Christianity (i.e. those in Rome and Egypt and Greece, etc.), kept the Passover in the days of the Apostles. This is confirmed by Jerome and Severian.
‘Jerome paraphrases a statement from Irenaeus’ work (176 AD) on the Paschal Controversy, where the latter warns Pope Victor not to break the unity with ‘the many bishops of Asia and the East, who, with the Jews celebrated the Passover on the fourteenth day of the new moon.33This means that as late as the fifth century, Gentile Christians were still celebrating the biblical Passover! That’s 400 years after the Resurrection.
‘Severian, Bishop of Gabala’ (400 A.D.) ‘strongly attacks those Christians who still maintained the Jewish Passover ritual.’34“ Epiphanius, Bishop of Salamis" (315-403 A.D.) “deals extensively with the Quartodeciman controversy in his Adversus haereses 50 and 70. The Bishop suggests in various instances that the Quartodeciman custom, which he calls ‘heresy,’ was widespread."35It would take a long time for the Roman Catholic Church to stamp out the God given observance of Passover among Gentile Christians, so that today, most Christians don’t realize what has been taken away from them by the Church at Rome. There were no large Protestant groups around to vie with the Roman Church then. Protestantism won’t arrive on the scene until the Reformation in Europe around 1500 A.D. For all the good they would do, they would still take Rome’s ‘holy days’ with them and anti-Law theology. Rome’s ‘holy’ days are pagan through and through, like Easter. The biblical celebration of Passover is an ancient heritage for the body of Messiah today, that the Lord, by His Spirit, is revealing once again to His body. In Daniel 7:25 it says that Satan’s agent would change the times of God, as well as other things (the Law) of God:‘ And he shall speak great words against the Most High and shall wear out the saints of the Most High and think to change times and laws. And they shall be given into his hand until a time and times and the dividing of time.’
That’s exactly what has happened with the Catholic Church throwing out Passover and bringing in Easter, a pagan holy day. The reason why Protestant churches celebrate Easter (or the now fashionable ‘Resurrection Sunday’) is because they got it from the Catholic Church and never scrutinized it in light of God’s Word. There is no biblical evidence for Jesus being resurrected on Sunday36, and yet, even if there was, there’s no mention that because He did rise on Sunday, Sabbath should give way to Sunday. God has not authorized Sunday assembly over Sabbath holiness.
Why Shound You Celebrate Passover?
On this night Yahveh moves in a way that He never does again, whether the First Passover with the Sons of Israel being freed from Egyptian slavery by the blood of the lamb and the death of Egypt’s firstborn sons, or the Second Passover, where God offers His Firstborn Son Yeshua to die for us, to free us from slavery to sin, eternal death and the Kingdom of Satan.
Passover is our ancient heritage given to us by Yahveh to honor what He has done in setting us free from sin and death by the blood of Yeshua, the Lamb of God. God has commanded it for His people Israel forever—both Jew and Gentile (Ex. 12:14; 1st Cor. 5:6-8).
If you are a Gentile believer in Jesus then you have been grafted into the House or the Family of Israel (Rom. 11 and Eph. 2). You should learn of their, now your, Feasts. You have been adopted into the Family to become like the Family, not that the Family has to become Gentile, which at its root means pagan. It’s not for the House of Israel to celebrate pagan holy days, even if the Name of Jesus has been plastered upon them for 1,900 years. Christmas, Easter, Sunday, Thanksgiving, Halloween and Valentine’s Day are all pagan holy days commemorating various gods and goddesses.
If God’s truth matters at all to you, then you owe it to yourself to investigate these matters. If they are true then why would you want to participate in celebrations that are pagan, offering them up to Jesus? If what I have written about the Passover is true, then you should begin to walk in this celebration that your God has ordained for you. It was no coincidence that Yeshua was sacrificed at Passover.
Passover: A Celebration Of Yahveh’s Salvation
Passover remembers or honors what Yahveh has done in saving Israel from slavery by the blood of the Lamb. Passover also reaffirms the covenant that Yahveh had made with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and paves the way for Yeshua to come as the Lamb of God. God commands us to celebrate His goodness and what He has done for us (Ex. 12:14).
The next 3 Feasts all date from Passover, which always falls on the 14th of Aviv (Nisan in modern Judaism), the middle of the lunar month, which means that the moon is full. Passover refers to the sacrifice of the lamb. This would have been about 5:00 P.M. for the First Passover on 14 Aviv in Egypt. The eating of the sacrifice didn’t come until that evening, which at darkness begins 15 Aviv. The lamb was skinned and roasted, and then eaten in the night of 15 Aviv. The 15th of Aviv begins the first day of Unleavened Bread (a Sabbath), the beginning of the Feast of Matza. 37.
1. Lev. 2:1-3, 10; 5:11-14; 6:14-17; 7:10, 13-14.
2. John 3:34; 4:34; 5:23, 24, 30, 36, 37, 38; 6:29, 38, 39, 44, 57; 7:16, 28, 29, 33; 8:16, 18, 26, 29, 42; 9:4; 10:36; 11:42; 12:44, 45, 49; 13:20; 14:24; 15:21; 16:5; 17:3, 8, 18, 21, 23, 25; 20:21.
3. See Gen. 16:13; 22:11; 31:11-13; 48:15-16; Ex. 3:2-6; Num. 22:21-35; Joshua 5:13-6:2. For a fuller understanding of these cites, see the 7th Jewish Newsletter: ‘We Jews don’t Believer that a Man can be God!’
4. J. I. Packer and M. C. Tenney, Editors, Illustrated Manners and Customs of the Bible (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1980), p. 120.
5. This is also in distinction to the Jewish calendar today, which starts the year in September.
6. Rabbi Nosson Scherman and Rabbi Meir Zlotowitz, General Editors, The Artscroll Siddur (Brooklyn, N.Y: Mesorah Publications, Ltd., January, 1987), pp. 224-225. The blessing that the Pharisees said while washing their hands is known as נְטִילַת יָדָיִם (nitilat yadie’im), literally, the ‘taking of the hands,’ not the ‘washing of the hands.’ ‘Blessed are You, Hashem’ (a rabbinic way of circumventing the name of Yahveh) ‘our God, King of the universe, who has sanctified us with His commandments and commanded us regarding washing the hands.’ It’s still practiced today in Orthodox Judaism. If a Jew doesn’t say this blessing, then according to the Rabbis, their hands are seen as ‘unclean’ or ‘defiled.’ Therefore, any food that a Jew might eat with those hands would also be considered unclean and defiled. This is why Yeshua refused to have any part in it and also why we shouldn’t observe it, either. This was the blessing spoken in Yeshua’s day, being affirmed in the Hebrew translation of the New Testament for Mt. 15:2, 20 and Mark 7:2, 3 in The Torah, Prophets, Writings and The New Covenant (Jerusalem: The Bible Society of Israel, 1991), p. 20-21; 52.
7. Alfred Edersheim, The Life and Times of Jesus The Messiah (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson Publishers, 2000), p. 808, note 18: ‘The Talmud puts it that slaves were wont to take their meals standing, and that this reclining best indicated how Israel had passed from bondage into liberty.’
8. Ibid., p. 815
9. Ibid., pp. 814-815.
10. Ibid., p. 816
11. Ibid., p. 824. “This, we believe, was ‘the sop,’ which Jesus, having dipped it for him in the dish, handed first to Judas, as occupying the first and chief place at Table." This understanding of the ‘sop’ or ‘morsel’ is seen in the Jer. Chall. 57b, which was written about the time of Hillel (who lived a generation before Yeshua).
The NRSV, HCSB and the NIV call it a piece of bread, which, of course, for the Passover was matza bread. The Greek word for sop (morsel) is the same in both the Textus Receptus and the Majority Text.
12. I. Howard Marshall, Author; I. Howard Marshall and W. Ward Gasque, Editors, The New International Greek Testament Commentary: The Gospel of Luke (Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1978), p. 146. Taken from Midrash Exodus 21:2 (82a); Keth. 96a. ‘Only non-Jewish slaves were required to perform this menial duty for their masters.’
13. By this term we know that this was the Passover meal, and not any alleged meal a day before the Passover meal. Jews only reclined at the Passover table. See also Mk. 14:18 (reclining; NASB, NIV, HCSB).
14. Edersheim, The Life and Times of Jesus The Messiah, p. 825, note 30: ‘The Mishnah expressly allows the procuring even on the Sabbath of that which is required for the Passover, and the Law of the Sabbath-rest was much more strict than that of feast days. See this in Appendix 17.’
15. Ibid., p. 825.
16. 1st Corinthians 11:20
17. See http://judaism.about.com/library/3_askrabbi_o/bl_simmons_pesachafikomenorigin.htm: ‘Ta’amei Minhagim’ 529, quoting Chok Yaakov 477:2. Also http://www.chaim.org/afikomen.htm, http://www.adathjeshurun.org/calndr/holsupp/06Pesach/Afikoman.htm and http://wonderful1.com/wst_page3.html (the section on afikomen is about halfway down the page of questions and answers. Put in afikomen and you’ll find it).
18. Num. 1:1-4, 20, 22; 2:32; 26:1-4; Mk. 14:21; Lk. 9:14; Jn. 6:10, etc.
19. See the two articles at http://www.seedofabraham.net/sacrific.html for a biblical understanding of the Mosaic sacrifices in relation to the sacrifice of Yeshua, and sacrifice in the New Testament.
20. For a biblical understanding of fornication and its implications for every believer, both here and in Acts 15:20, read two chapters from my book, The Lifting of the Veil: Acts 15:20-21 at www.SeedofAbraham.net/LiftingTheVeil.html.
21. Yeshua, the true Bread from Heaven, has no sin in Him. The bread that Yeshua presents about Himself in John is matza (Jn. 6:32-33, 35, 41, 48-51, 53-58).
22. Baruch ah’ta Yahveh eh’lo’haynu melech ha’olam bo’ray p’ri ha’gafen.
23. Baruch ah’ta Yahveh eh’lo’haynu melech ha’olam ha’motzi leh’chem min ha’ar’retz.
24. Psalms 113-114 (in the group known as the Hallel–praise psalms) are sung after the second cup is drunk and Psalms 115-118 are sung after the fourth cup is drunk (along with Ps. 136 and other songs). This order may not have applied in Yeshua’s day, but we know that He and His disciples sang at least some of them at this time.
25. Benjamin Davidson, The Analytical Hebrew and Chaldee Lexicon (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House, 1979), p. 727.
26. John 16:7: “Nevertheless I tell you the truth. It is to your advantage that I go away, for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you, but if I depart I will send Him to you."
27. Dr. Samuele Bacchiocchi, From Sabbath To Sunday (Rome, Italy: The Pontifical Gregorian University Press, 1977), p. 161. Epiphanius, Adversus haereses 70, 10, PG 42, 355-356.
28. This word speaks of the Passover sacrifice on the 14th day of the biblical month and not at the time of Easter. Quartodeciman means four (quarto) and ten (deciman), hence, 14 Aviv.
29. Bacchiocchi, From Sabbath To Sunday, p. 161. PG 42, 357-358
30. Ibid., p. 198
31. Ibid., pp. 198-199.
32. Ibid., p. 199, note 97.
33. Ibid., p. 199, note 97. See De viris Illustribus 35, NPNF, 2nd, III, p. 370. Jerome lived from 347–420 A.D.
34. Ibid., see Gabala’s Homilia 5 de Pascha, ed. J.B. Aucher (Venice: 1827), p. 180.
36. See Mark 16:9 and the Resurrection at http://www.seedofabraham.net/mark169Res.html.
37. Insights into Exodus 12:
In Ex. 12:3 it speaks of taking the lamb and setting it apart for four days until it’s sacrificed. This would have made the lamb a beloved pet and so much harder to sacrifice it on the 14th, but this is exactly why God commanded it. It’s a picture of our affection and love for Yeshua if we were there watching Him being sacrificed.
In Ex. 12:5 it speaks of the lamb being a male without blemish, a year old. This spoke of Yeshua being without sin, and sacrificed in the prime of His life.
In Ex. 12:6 is speaks of the lamb being slain by the whole community, not that everyone had a knife, but that everyone had to watch the lamb being sacrificed. All who would seek salvation must look upon Yeshua crucified. They cannot get into the New Jerusalem on the faith of their friends or parents.
In Ex. 12:7 the blood was to be placed upon the lintel and the two doorposts as a sign to God so He wouldn’t destroy the firstborn son within. The house pictures the face of a man and the blood on the doorposts speak of his mouth. Drinking the blood of Yeshua is the only way to survive the wrath of God on Judgement Day.
In Ex. 12:8 God commands the three foods for Passover: the lamb, matza and (something) bitter. The lamb speaks of Yeshua as the Lamb of God (Jn. 1:29), the Savior of Israel. The matza speaks of Yeshua being sinless. The bitter thing speaks of our life of bitterness without God.
In Ex. 12:9 the lamb was to be whole and roasted over the fire, which pictures Yeshua’s brutal crucifixion.
In Ex. 12:10 it speaks of not leaving anything of the sacrificed lamb remain until morning (light). Anything left at dawn was to be burned. The lamb not being eaten after dawn, but burned up, spoke of the one-time sacrifice of Messiah. It wasn’t necessary for Him to be sacrificed in every generation (Heb. 7:27; 9:12).
Ex. 12:11 speaks of wearing sandals and having a staff in one’s hand, etc., in order to leave Egypt quickly (see also v. 39). When we are set free from slavery to Satan and his kingdom we’re to leave as fast as our feet will carry us.
Ex. 12:12 speaks of God going through Egypt and slaying the firstborn sons of Egypt as well as passing judgment on the gods of Egypt. The gods of Egypt were considered the greatest gods in the world at that time because Egypt was the greatest nation, but the God of the Hebrew slaves revealed that He was greater. All the plagues of Egypt were aimed at the Egyptian pantheon of gods. Pharaoh was supposed to be the incarnation of the sun god, and so, the ninth plague of darkness for three days showed that his power was no match for the God of the Hebrew slaves.
Ex. 12:13, 21-24 speak of the blood on the doorposts and the lintel being a sign to God that the firstborn was protected or covered by the blood of the lamb. The firstborn are the ‘cream of the crop’ and they represent all the others; the entire nation. The blood of the Lamb of God is needed over the soul of a person so that on Judgment Day the Lord will ‘pass-over’ him and not send him to Hell, but bring him into everlasting life.
Ex. 12:14 speaks of the day (the first day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread when the Passover is kept) as being a memorial forever, something that was to be reenacted every year at this time.
Ex. 12:15 commands that we eat matza for the seven days of the Feast. Anyone eating leaven products during the Feast was ‘cut off’ from Israel, a form of punishment more severe than death (if actual death wasn’t the punishment). To be cut off from one’s people was tantamount to losing one’s identity; their own soul. Also, the verse speaks of removing the leaven from our houses on the first day. The Rabbis say that all of it must be removed by the afternoon of 14 Aviv at the latest, but the first day is 15 Aviv, so, a tiny portion of leavened bread for each person should be kept until after the taking of the Lord’s flesh and blood on the night of 15 Aviv because only after eating and drinking of our Lamb are we cleansed from our sins, pictured in the last piece of leavened bread being burned or flushed down the toilet.
Ex. 12:16 reveals that the first and last days of the Feast are Sabbaths. There is to be a holy assembly on those days and no work is to be done on those days, except for the making of food for the Feast. The first day pictures us eating of Yeshua and leaving the Kingdom of Satan. The seventh day is holy perfection and pictures our walk on this Earth with Yeshua.
Ex. 12:17 speaks of Israel leaving Egypt on the first day of the Feast. This was 15 Aviv (Num. 33:3).
Ex. 12:18-19 speak of the Feast beginning on the evening of 14 Aviv and going to 21 Aviv. What this means is that the Feast begins at the end of 14 Aviv when 15 Aviv comes. This is supported by a reference to the Day of Atonement beginning in the evening of the ninth day of the seventh month, when actually, God speaks of it being only on the tenth day (Lev. 23:26-27, 32). The Feast of Unleavened bread is only seven days, not eight days, as it might seem to be from a 14 to a 21 Aviv inclusive counting.
Ex. 12:26-27 speak of the Passover ceremony being a time of training for the sons of Israel in asking their fathers what the Passover means. Every year as we celebrate and remember the Passover we are being trained by our Father and His Spirit as to the meaning of the Sacrifice of our Messiah.
Ex. 12:40-42, 51 speak of the exact time that Israel was in Egypt and that God brought them out 430 years later on the same day that they had gone into Egypt. It was to be a night observed by everyone every year and it speaks of both the perfect timing of Yahveh in our lives, and also, that we, like Yeshua, are to stay up on this night to symbolize our remaining alert in the Spirit (unlike the five foolish virgins; Mt. 25:1f.). This night symbolized the entire coming year and our being alert means that the Lord can move upon us in a way that He might never have done before and might never do again.
Ex. 12:43-45, 47-48 explains who of non-Israel was eligible for keeping Passover and that those who were eligible and wanted to keep it had to be circumcised. This has raised concern among some Gentiles who think that they should be circumcised, but with Acts 15:1-21; 1st Cor. 7:17-19 and Gal. 1:3 declaring otherwise, it must not be. The circumcision made without hands (Phil. 3:3; Col. 2:11) allows the Gentile (and the Jew!) to partake of Messiah’s Passover. See Circumcision for the Gentile Believer? at http://seedofabraham.net/Gentile_Circumcision.html for why the Gentile must not be physically circumcised.
Ex. 12:46 commands Israel not to break any of the bones of the lamb. This points to the body of Yeshua, which, although beaten beyond recognition and crucified, not one of His bones was broken.
Ex. 12:49 speaks of there being one law for the native-born Israeli and the stranger.This is a powerful Scripture for the Gentile, leading him to walk in all of the laws of the Torah (the Law of Moses) that apply to him. See The Lifting of the Veil: Acts 15:20-21 at http://seedofabraham.net/LiftingTheVeil.html for more on this concept.
Email Avram — avramyeh @gmail.com
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