Most Christians are totally unaware of the great significance of Passover as it has been replaced by the celebration of Easter (derived from the word Astarte, the goddess of Fertility). A celebration never ordained by the Lord, but instituted by Emperor Constantine who was a sun worshipper, and having deep pagan roots (do not take my word but research it out for yourself). It is essential for the church to restore the centrality of Passover in Christian worship if it is to be a Bride without spot or wrinkle prepared for her Bridegroom, Jesus the Messiah, Yeshua HaMashiach.
Passover as instituted by God in Exodus 12 is the oldest audiovisual presentation in the world having started over 3500 years ago! It celebrates the redemption of Israel from slavery in Egypt under Pharaoh and their release into the Wilderness heading for the Land promised to Abraham in Genesis 12:7 Then Adonai appeared to Abram, and said, “I will give this land to your seed.” Note that the word seed is singular and holds the promise of Messiah, the seed of a woman. Have you ever wondered why the shepherds were the first to minister to the new born child in Bethlehem as directed by the Angel of God in Luke 22? It makes perfect sense when one understands that these shepherds were no ordinary shepherds but the ones who looked after the Passover lambs as they were born. These male unblemished lambs were to be the sacrifice at the following year’s Passover when they were one year old according to Exodus 12:5. Just as this Child was to be sacrificed on a stake when He had come to full maturity.
Passover speaks of redemption through the blood of a lamb. The Israelites were instructed by God to apply the blood on the door posts of their home so they would not come under the judgement of God when He passed over Egypt. (Egypt, Mitzrayim in Hebrew has an uncertain derivation but can mean double straits, narrow place of distress.) Egypt under Pharaoh is a picture of the world system where people are slaves to sin under the prince of the world. Sin in Scripture is pictured as leaven, chametz and was not used for holy purposes. Paul uses it as a picture of malice and wickedness not befitting a Holy walk in l Corinthians 5:6-8:- Your boasting is no good. Don’t you know that a little chametz leavens the whole batch of dough? Get rid of the old chametz. so you may be a new hatch, just as you are unleavened - for Messiah our Passover Lamb has been sacrificed. Therefore let us celebrate the feast not with old chametz, the chametz of malice and wickedness, but with unleavened bread; the matzah of sincerity and truth. (TLV)
On the 10 Nissan every family had to choose a spotless lamb and take it into their home in order to watch it and make sure that it had no blemishes. The family could thus make sure that they gave the very best to God. There was, however, an element to this. The children would have come to know the lamb and started to love it maybe even given the lamb a name and then on the 14 Nissan they had to slaughter the lamb. Not easy but can you see how we would feel about killing a lamb that has been living in our home even if for only a few days. Imagine what our Father in Heaven must have felt when he gave His son up to be killed to save us. Yeshua also came into Jerusalem on the 10 Nissan and was looked upon and checked out by the people as well as by the Pharisees and Sadducees. As Scripture says that they could not find any wrong in him. He was the perfect lamb. Now let us look at the items that are spoken about at Passover and their spiritual significance in Messiah.
The Leaven (chametz): Before the feast began every household has to clean their home of all leaven. Nothing made with yeast could stay in the home. Leaven symbolises sin, evil and pride through out the scriptures. After we have cleaned our homes we need to examine ourselves to see if we have any leaven, in other words pride, impure thoughts, words or deeds that could separate us from the presence of the Lord i.e. do a spiritual spring clean. We need to present our bodies as living sacrifices laying aside everything that could snare us into sinning.
The Candles: Every Shabbat in the evening and on all of the Feasts of God (Lev 23) we light candles. These separate us from the mundane things of life into the Holiness of the Sabbath or the Feasts of God. Once again as Believers lighting the candles reminds us of Yeshua who is the Light of the World. Yeshua has also told us that we are to be a light to the world.
The shank bone: On the Seder plate we have a shank bone and this is very important. This is the most important part of Passover. Sadly in most Jewish homes today and in fact in most homes through out the world Yeshua, the Paschal Lamb is missing. The Lord has already given for all of us the ultimate sacrifice. We do not have to come back again and sacrifice a lamb as it was done ‘once for all’. Yeshua take away our sin completely. All we need to do is accept him and accept that he died for you and for me. John 1:29 “The next day John saw Yeshua coming to him and said, ‘Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world. “ His sacrifice does not just cover sin as it did when the Temple was standing and before Yeshua’s death but it takes it away and the slate is wiped clean. God has no other way to take away the sin of the world. Good deeds or prayer do not take our sin away. It is only the Blood of the Paschal Lamb, Yeshua who died for you and for me which takes away our sin. We need to apply the Blood of the Lamb on the door posts of our lives.
Life in Egypt was not easy for the Israelites. It was a life of slavery with pain and suffering with many tears shed. Later on jealousy from the Egyptians and children were killed. Therefore we take some parsley which reminds us of the hyssop used to apply the blood of the lamb on the doors and dip it in salt water to remember that life can be bitter indeed. We also take a piece of matzah and on this we place the maror (horseradish) so that we remember what our ancestors had to go through thousands of years ago. We also remember that bondage to sin is far worse than slavery. We need to remember that we can have hardships in our life and it will not always be easy, the words of Yeshua that following him would not be easy but we would reap the reward later in heaven. We also take matzah and maror and add to this a brown mixture called charoset which reminds us of the straw the Israelites had to make so as to make bricks. We mix this together to make a sandwich to remember that even in the most bitter of times we can have a sweet hope in God and for Believers in Yeshua as well.
The Four Cups of Covenant
Exodus 6:6-7 Say therefore to the people the LORD and I will out from under the burdens of the Egyptians, and I will deliver you from slavery and I will redeem you with an outstretched arm and with great acts of judgement. I will take you to be my people and I will be your God, and you shall know that I am the LORD your God. who has brought you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians.
First Cup: The Cup of Sanctification “I will bring you out”
We are in this world but not of the world. We are to be set apart, sanctified, to be holy as He is Holy. We take this cup so as to be set apart as we partake of the Seder This cup is also shared between two families which are going to be joined through the covenant of marriage and it starts the betrothal process of being set apart as part of God's family.
Second Cup: The Cup of Deliverance “I will deliver you”
A full cup is a symbol of joy and indeed we are happy because God has redeemed us. We therefore need to take a drop of wine out of the full cup for each plague so that we remember how the Egyptians suffered as well as remember the great cost of redemption. Lives were sacrificed so that Gods people could be freed from slavery in Egypt. Our deliverance from slavery to sin was purchased by an even greater price - the death of Messiah. This cup is shared by the bridegroom, the bride and the two fathers after the groom declares what he will give his bride as the next stage of the betrothal process. Guess who the father of the bride is? Hence this equates with the Abrahamic or Salt Covenant!
The Four Questions: Ma Nishtannh
A child asks the four questions about why tonight is different to other nights? Why do we only eat Matzah? Why do we dip our food twice? Why do we recline? Why do we eat herbs? The person leading the Passover then tells the child the whole story about Passover and how Israel was delivered Egypt.
The Afikomen: (that which comes after or desert)
The eating of the Afikomen after the meal is very interesting custom. The word Afikomen is a Greek word and not Hebrew and means “that which comes after”. Earlier on at the beginning of the Seder a bag is held up that has 3 pouches and is called a Matzah Tosh. A piece of matzah has been put in each pouch. The middle piece of Matzah is taken out and is broken. The one piece is put back in the pouch and this is left on the table while the other piece is wrapped in a linen clothe and is hidden. After the meal the children are sent to go and find this wrapped up Matzah so that the seder can be completed.
We who are believers can see that this represents Yeshua whose body was broken, wrapped in linen, buried and was raised on the third day. The Matzah is pierced and stripped just as Yeshua was beaten and for our sins. The rabbis have very strict instructions for the way matzah is prepared. Its is believed that the early Messianic Believers brought in this custom which is still used to this day in all Jewish homes. When Yeshua shared the Last Supper with the disciples it was this piece of Matzah that He gave to his disciples. At the time of Yeshua matzah was eaten but not broken and hidden, it was just a piece of Matzah that would have been on the table.
And while they were eating, Yeshua took matzah and after He offered the bracha, He broke it and gave it to them and said, “Take, this is My body (Mark l4:22).
Third Cup the Cup of Redemption “I will redeem you” This cup is drunk after the meal.
This is the cup the bridegroom and bride share together when the Marriage Covenant, Ketubah is sealed and they say “We do agree to all the terms of the Covenant”. Just as the Israelites declared on receiving the Torah through Moses at Mt Sinai (Exodus 24:3). Hence this cup points to the Mosaic Covenant as well as New Covenant. In Mark 14:23 -25 continues. And He took a cup, and after giving thanks, He gave to them and they all drank from it. And He said to them, ‘This is My blood of the ‘new’ covenant, which is poured out for many. Amen, I tell you, I will no longer again drink of the fruit of the vine, until that day when I drink it anew in the kingdom of God.’ After singing the Hallel, they went out to the Mount of Olives.
Fourth Cup: The Cup of Praise ‘I will take you to be my people and I will be your God” Yeshua did not drink this cup before leaving the Upper Room but states, “I will no longer again drink of the fruit of the vine, until that day when I drink it anew in the kingdom of God.” In John 19:25-30 After this, when Yeshua knew that all things were now completed, to fulfil the Scripture He said, “I am thirsty” A jar full of sour wine was sitting there, so they put a sponge soaked with the sour wine on a hyssop branch and brought it to His mouth. When Yeshua tasted the sour wine, He said, “It is finished!” And He bowed His head and gave up His spirit. By this He completed the Passover and made His crucifixion and death part of the Last Supper, the ‘new’ Passover and fulfilled the Torah becoming the Paschal lamb that was slain (Rev 5:6, 12). Note that He did not drink but only tasted the sour wine. What could this mean? “This cup Yeshua, the Bridegroom will only drink at the Wedding Feast with His Bride (Rev 19:7-9). For those who have not partaken of the three cups and applied the blood of the Lamb on the doorpost of their lives, they will partake of the cup of Wrath (Rev 16:19).
The 'New' Passover
At the Last Supper, a Passover meal Yeshua instituted a ‘new’ Passover where He became the Paschal Lamb as stated in Hebrew 9:26-28:-
For then He would have needed to suffer again and again from the foundation of the world. But as it is He has been revealed once and for all at the close of the ages to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself. And just as it is appointed for men to die once, and after this judgement, so also Messiah, was offered once to bear the sins of many.
He became the substitute for the lamb which was eaten and whose blood was poured out with the Matzah and the wine becoming His Body and Blood!
Praise God and thank Him for what He has done for us. He the Lord Yeshua is the same yesterday, today and tomorrow. Yeshua has become the Lamb that was slain so now there is no need for any blood sacrifice. The Matzah has become the bloodless sacrifice that represents His Body as given in 1 Cor 11:23-24. For I received from the Lord what I also passed on to you - that the Lord Yeshua, on the night He was betrayed, took rnatzah (Afikomen); and when He had given thanks He broke it and said, “This is My body which is for you. Do this in memory of Me.” and in John 6:48-51 “I am the bread of life. Your fathers ate the manna in the desert, yet they died. This is the bread that comes down from heaven, so that one may eat and not die. I am the living bread, which came down from heaven. If anyone eats this bread, he will live forever. This bread is My flesh, which I will give for the life of the world.” In the same way He also took the cup after supper, saying “This (3rd) cup is the new covenant in My blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in memory of Me.” For as often as you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until He comes (l Cor 11:25-26).
Each time we celebrate Communion o