Re-posting about Passover for 2017: Most people have at least some knowledge of what the Jewish Festival of Passover (Pesach) is all about, even if it is only from watching Charlton Heston as Moses in the movie ‘Ten Commandments’. In the Bible book of Leviticus, God decrees that seven feasts are to be observed every year by His people (an eighth one is the weekly Sabbath). “‘These are the LORD’s appointed festivals, the sacred assemblies you are to proclaim at their appointed times: The LORD’s Passover begins at twilight on the fourteenth day of the first month. ***On the fifteenth day of that month the LORD’s Festival of Unleavened Bread begins; for seven days you must eat bread made without yeast. On the first day hold a sacred assembly and do no regular work. For seven days present a food offering to the LORD. And on the seventh day hold a sacred assembly and do no regular work.’” (Lev. 23:4-8). The Passover is basically to remember how God delivered His people from their 430 year slavery in Egypt. The Jews were told by God through Moses, on the night before their liberation, to paint the blood of a sacrificial lamb over the doorposts of their homes to avoid the angel of death to their firstborn. Christians believe that this event was a ‘shadow’ or ‘type’ of what was to come in the future when Messiah Jesus (Yeshua, the only sinless man in history) came to set people free from their captivity to sin and damnation by being the perfect Lamb who was sacrificed. The Passover in Moses’ day was celebrated by bringing a flawless lamb to the high priest to be slaughtered and have its blood sprinkled on the Mercy Seat in the Holy of Holies of the Tabernacle (“.. without the shedding of blood there is no remission of sin..” Hebrews 9:22) The blood of Christ symbolically covering Jewish and gentile believers likewise avoids for us eternal damnation for our sins.
Being a ‘pilgrimage festival’, all the men of Israel were to come up to Jerusalem in the Hebrew month of Nissan 14-21 (usually April – this year (2017) on April 10-11) for an 8 day holiday beginning with a special meal called the seder (order) on the eve of the first day of Passover (erev pesach). (Did you know that the Christian Last Supper was a Passover Seder?) Today, as then, at the family table there are symbolic foods, special songs and the story of deliverance is retold in detail with the youngest child asking certain questions of the father, beginning with ‘What makes this night different from all [other] nights?’ This liturgy is called the Haggadah (telling your son). Before Passover, houses are swept clean of all leaven (symbol of sin) and unleavened bread (matzah) is eaten for the entire week.
The matzah is striped and pierced in appearance. This is such a picture of the striped and pierced body of Christ at the hands of the Roman guards who pierced Him with a sword, and scourged Him with whips.
The symbolic foods eaten at the Passover seder are these:
Beitzah – A roasted egg – symbolizes the cycle of the seasons and of the sacrifices in the Temple, and
- Karpas – Parsley (or vegetable) – symbolizes the renewal of spring
- Ze’roa – Roasted shank bone – symbolizes the pascal offering in the Temple
- Charoset – Chopped apples and nuts – symbolizes the mortar that the Israelites used to build the storehouses for Pharaoh
- Maror – Bitter herb (horseradish) – symbolizes the bitterness of the slavery that the Israelites endured in Egypt.
- Chazeret – Romaine lettuce – symbolizes spring
- Salted water — represents the tears the Israelites shed when they were slaves in Egypt. The parsley is dipped in the salt water
- Four cups of red wine or grape juice — Each cup is related to a different Biblical verse that promises that God will redeem the Israelites from bondage in Egypt
- Matzah — the unleavened bread the Israelites baked before leaving Egypt
Finding the ‘afikomen’ (dessert) is part of the celebration of Passover. Three pieces of matzah are ceremonially set aside. The middle one is the afikomen. At one point during the meal, it is taken out, broken in half, wrapped in linen and hidden. Later in the evening the children are invited to search for it, and whoever finds it rejoices greatly as he/she receives a gift. Yeshua also was wrapped in linen and hidden in the grave. Three days later He rose again, a cause for great rejoicing by believers ever since because of the GIFT of Salvation! Our Christian celebration of Resurrection Day (Easter) commemorates the resurrection of Yeshua. Do you see the parallels? There are so many more but enough for this blog post. I will be attending a Passover Seder with the congregation of Mishkahn David this year. I also attended one in a Jewish family’s home in 2009. Remember, I am ‘GRAFTED IN’!
***2017 update: Just learned another Passover parallel. Exodus 12:1-3 states this – 1 “The Lord said to Moses and Aaron in Egypt, 2 ‘This month (Nisan) is to be for you the first month, the first month of your year. 3 Tell the whole community of Israel that on the tenth day of this month each man is to take a lamb for his family, one for each household.'” and 5 “‘The animals you choose must be year-old males without defect, and you may take them from the sheep or the goats.6 Take care of them until the fourteenth day of the month, when all the members of the community of Israel must slaughter them at twilight.'” Note that the Lord commanded the Jews to take a perfect lamb into the home of the father and take care of it. This lamb became like a pet who was loved by the family, yet they were commanded to kill it on the 14th day. There was sacrifice on the part of the lamb and the people were sad.
The Christian parallel is this, that on the 10th day of the same month of Nisan, Jesus was brought into Jerusalem to the house of His Father, and His followers loved Him and waved palm branches shouting ‘Hosanna – Blessed is He who comes in the Name of the Lord! Blessed is the King of Israel!” This is found in John 12:1 – “Six days before the Passover (or the 9th day of Nisan), Jesus came to Bethany, where Lazarus lived, whom Jesus had raised from the dead.” and John 12:12-13 – 12 The next day (the 10th day) the great crowd that had come for the festival heard that Jesus was on his way to Jerusalem. 13 They took palm branches and went out to meet him, shouting, ‘Hosanna – Blessed is He who comes in the Name of the Lord! Blessed is the King of Israel!” And, on the 14th day, He celebrated a Passover supper (the Christian ‘Last Supper’) leading to His crucifixion the next day where He paid the ransom for all sinners who believe on His Name! These two events, separated by centuries, are one and the same!