Hebrew Roots/Holy Days/Passover/Overview
THE NEW COVENANT PASSOVER
The Passover season commences at the evening commencing the 14th day of Nisan which is the Preparation Day for the Passover proper and begins the Feast of Unleavened Bread (Exodus 12:16) which lasts for seven days. This feast was initially instituted at the exodus of the children of Israel from the bondage of Egypt when Yahweh delivered them with a mighty hand from the dominion of Pharaoh. (Exodus 12:12-20)
In the new covenant our deliverance is from the system of this world with its inherent sinfulness, of which Egypt is a type, and also from the dominion of Satan who kept us in bondage to the power of sin, typified in Pharaoh. The foreigner was not allowed to eat the Passover unless he was circumcised. (Ex12: 43-51) and this applies today to any who are strangers to the covenant, and are outside the commonwealth of Israel. (Ephesians 2:12)
Now when celebrating the Passover, believers do not need to sacrifice a lamb, because "Messiah, our passover lamb, has been sacrificed for us" 1 Corinthians 5: 7
He instructed His disciples to celebrate His death henceforth by partaking of the unleavened bread and wine in remembrance of His body and blood which was to be sacrificed for them. His sacrifice as our Passover Lamb, rather than making the celebration unnecessary, gave it new meaning and ritual. 1 Corinthians 11:26
SIGNIFICANCE OF PASSOVER
Year-by-year in Israel they recalled out of the past into the present, the experience of the Exodus deliverance by reenacting it in the Passover Seder, and in the memorial of it, they reentered into the covenant with its blessings and obligations. Exodus 12 - 13:16 The covenant is at the core of the Passover account. On the eve of the Exodus, God revealed Himself as the God who remembered His Covenant to the Fathers (Exodus 2:24; 3:15). The Passover lamb whose blood was struck with a bunch of hyssop over the lintel and doorposts of the houses (Exodus 12: 7, 22), represented the outworking of God’s covenant to protect and deliver the Israelites.
Similarly, on the eve of His Crucifixion, Messiah reaffirmed His covenant by His willingness to shed His blood. Through the vicarious death of the sacrificial animals, the Israelite accepted the provision of forgiveness and salvation. Similarly, through the vicarious death of Messiah, the believer accepts the provision of His redemption. As the blood of the Passover lamb kept God from killing the firstborn of the Hebrews, so the blood of Y'shua shed on the torture stake keeps God from punishing with death the penitent sinner. Thus the New Covenant Passover reaffirms the eternal Covenant that God promised to the fathers (Jeremiah 32:40; 50:5; Isaiah 55:3; Ezekiel 16:60) and seals it in the blood of the Messiah (Hebrews 13:20).
He now "passes over" our sins when He sees the "blood of Messiah" upon the doorposts of our lives. The blood covers us from wrath, making available to us forgiveness of sin, and blotting out our transgressions of His Law -- enabling us then to receive complete redemption when Messiah returns to execute judgment on the wicked, to deliver the righteous, and to usher in everlasting righteousness and the Kingdom of His Father!
The New Covenant Passover looks back at what has already happened and is a proclamation of the death of Y'shua and appropriation by the believer of the benefits of Messiah’s death (1 Corinthians 11:26). In many ways this was true also of the Israelite Passover where they recalled the original exodus to each new generation. (Exodus 12:24-27). This is the account which we now have to pass on to our posterity - the story of Messiah's death, resurrection, what it means to us, His ascension into heaven, and the final judgment He will bring on the world in the Great Tribulation, the "Day of Yahweh," and the prophecies leading up to His second coming!
Redemption and Deliverance The first and foremost truth connected with Passover is redemption and deliverance — the releasing of slaves and bringing them into freedom. God sent His Son Y'shua to atone for our sins and to release us from the bondage of sin. The blood of Messiah is the ransom price paid to set us free.
Sanctification — One of the reasons Yahweh redeemed and delivered Israel was to set His people Israel apart from the rest of their immediate world (Egypt) and from the dominion of the enemy over them so that He could bring them unto Himself as His own beloved possession and they would be free to serve Him. We are now also called to be sanctified, or set apart from the things of this world so we can serve Him. For the new covenant believer, the significance of redemption, deliverance, and sanctification is not so much in the physical and the natural, as much as in the removal of the fruit of the old nature, replacing it with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth. Therefore, it is not only just the redemption from the bondage of sin, but also our deliverance from the fruit of the fallen nature.
CELEBRATING THE FEAST
Prior to the destruction of the Temple in A. D. 70, it was unthinkable for a Jew to celebrate Passover without the lamb, because it was the blood of the lamb, the symbol of divine deliverance from Egyptian bondage, that gave meaning to the feast. For believers, however, the paschal lamb is not needed to celebrate Passover, because Y'shua Himself is the true Paschal Lamb whose blood delivers us from the bondage of sin. After His resurrection, Y'shua' followers, all Jews, abandoned the Mosaic form of the Passover and its animal sacrifice, as they saw Y'shua of Nazareth, the Messiah, as the "Passover" (I Corinthians 5:7), the supreme sacrifice once and for all. (Hebrews 10:10-14, 18) Thereafter they felt very strongly against the eating of lamb with the celebratory meal of the feast and although they kept the feast at the same time as their Jewish brethren, they abstained from the meat. They instead used the "Afikomen" and its Messianic symbolism to represent Y'shua's sacrifice as the Lamb of God. In the Messianic thinking of the first believers, the events of the Last Supper produced a new observance of the Passover Feast. For them, this new Passover ritual commemorated the realisation of the New Covenant through Y'shua being the Lamb of God that effected deliverance for them from a greater bondage than that of Pharaoh in the Exodus, and they kept it annually as determined by the priestly luni-solar calendar of the temple era. He was their Paschal Lamb. Therefore, they celebrated Passover not by eating the flesh of a lamb and pouring out its blood at the Temple’s altar, but by partaking symbolically of His own flesh and blood, their true Paschal Lamb.
The appointed time and date for the Passover Service is on the 14th Nisan. This is the first month in the religious calendar being calculated by the first full moon after the equinox when the barley is in the stage of ripening to be ready for the feast. The supper was concluded by midnight. The day before, from sundown on the thirteenth, was set aside as part of the overall Feast period for the necessary practical and spiritual preparation, the sacrifice of the Passover lamb, the removal of leaven, preparation of food etc.. Thus the whole of the fourteenth of Nisan is called the Day of Preparation. This day is traditionally a day of fasting and spiritual preparation for the following Passover meal. It has been established in scripture that the first-born male belongs to Yahweh. (Exodus 13: 2) When He killed the firstborn of Egypt, He spared the first- born of Israel and as a result all firstborn males fast on the day before Passover in gratitude to God from morning till night. The early believers identified themselves as being His firstborn in the Spirit and also kept the fast, sometimes longer than the required day on the fourteenth of Nisan. "And you shall keep it (the lamb) up until the fourteenth day of the same month: and the whole assembly of the congregation of Israel shall kill it in the evening ..." "In the first month, on the fourteenth day of the month at even, you shall eat unleavened bread, until the one and twentieth day of the month at even." Exodus 12: 6, 18
The Passover Seder (service) itself consists of the ceremonial cleansing and consecration rituals, the Breaking of Bread and the four Cups of Redemption (Kiddush), hymns, prayers, singing, scripture readings and spiritual exhortations regarding our salvation and the special festive meal. Suggested readings -- Exodus Chs.12 and 13, Isaiah 53
THE SIGNIFICANCE OF THE EMBLEMS
This ordinance is the ceremonial introduction to the sacrificial covenant meal of the feast, and those partaking of it, are entering into a covenant with one another and with Yahweh Himself. From ancient times a covenant was always established with a sacrificial animal whose blood was the token of the covenant made. The flesh of the animal was consumed in a sacrificial meal by the participants and the terms of the covenant for each party were established and recorded. Those entering into such a covenant became 'blood brothers' and were pledging their lives and substance to one another for the purposes of the covenant. Passover then, becomes for the believer an act of remembrance and reaffirmation of the original covenant we made with Y'shua in our salvation and baptism where we identified with Him in His death, burying our old life in the watery grave, and rising to live a new life with Him. Romans 6: 3-5 The receiving of the tokens of the covenant therefore acts as a participation in the death and life of our risen Lord. His death becomes our death and His resurrection life - ours! This simple and yet dramatic ritual enables the believer not only to conceptualize, but also to internalize and appropriate the reality of His vicarious death and to reaffirm once again their covenant with Him. As in the Lord's Table, we become identified in His death and resurrection when we eat the emblems of His pierced flesh and His drink the token of His shed blood. John 6:53, 56 Paul describes this fellowship as "a participation in the blood . . . [and] body of Messiah" (1 Corinthians 10:16) Thus the believer's Passover reaffirms the eternal Covenant that God promised to the fathers (Jeremiah 32:40; 50:5; Isaiah 55:3; Ezekiel 16:60) and which was sealed in the blood of His Son and made available to us. Hebrews 13:20
The symbolic partaking of the body and blood of Y'shua through the elements of the bread and wine (Mark 14:22-24) can be understood best as the replacement of the paschal lamb. The reference in John 6 to eating of the flesh and drinking of the blood of the Messiah has meaning only in the context of the Passover meal. Just as the Israelites were saved by the blood of the Passover and participated in the first Exodus, so the believers in the Messiah are saved by the sacrifice on the Messiah and His shed blood to participate in the second and greater Exodus–from the slavery of sin to the freedom of the children of God. Y'shua wanted to institute a new Passover in which His followers would celebrate redemption from sin, not through the flesh and blood of a lamb, but by partaking, through the symbolic elements of the bread and wine, of His own body and blood, the true Paschal Lamb offered "for the forgiveness of sins" (Mark 14:22-25; Matt 26:26-29; 1 Pet 1:19). He was the Lamb "who takes away the sin of the world" (John 1:29). His followers no longer needed to sacrifice a lamb at Passover; their Passover Lamb "had been sacrificed" once for all times (1 Corinthians 5: 7). Had Messiah chosen flesh and blood from a lamb to represent His atoning sacrifice, He would have perpetuated the sacrificial system which was designed to come to an end with His death on the Tree (Matthew 27:51). By choosing instead the bread and wine (nonsacrificial elements of the Passover meal) as the emblems of His atoning death, Y'shua detached the new Passover from the sacrificial system and transformed it into a fitting memorial of His redemption. This radical transformation can be seen also, for example, in the cup of blessing of the paschal meal which becomes the cup of salvation: "The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not a participation in the blood of Messiah? The bread which we break, is it not a participation in the body of Messiah?" (1 Corinthians 10:16). Paul shows that though some of the elements of the Passover of the Exodus survive, their meanings have changed. The sacrifice of Y'shua is the new reality commemorated by the remaining ancient signs.
THE FULFILLMENT OF PASSOVER
Y'shua stated His earnest desire to eat Passover with His disciples before His death, "for I tell you I shall not eat it until it is fulfilled in the kingdom of God" This also implies that for Messiah the ultimate fulfillment of Passover was still in the future and is the pledge of His return. The future fulfillment in the kingdom of God points forward to a greater deliverance, that we will celebrate at the consummation of His kingdom. (Luke 22:16). Saying "I shall not eat it until" implied that He expected the eating of the Passover to continue during His absence until He would partake of it again at the marriage supper of the Lamb. Revelation 19: 9 The Book of Revelation uses the very imagery of the epic struggle with Egypt to depict the final conflict and deliverance of God’s people. When the angels pour out the vials of God’s wrath (Revelation 16:2-21), the plagues are unleashed and, like the Egyptians of old, the enemies of God’s people are scourged with hail, fire, darkness, locust, ulcers, bloody waters, and frogs. Such a chain of events leads up to a new exodus of a great multitude out of all nations who "sing the song of Moses, the servant of God, and the song of the Lamb" which was sung after the victory over the Egyptians at the Red Sea. They are in a similar setting, as they stand on the banks of the sea of glass which is mingled with fire, seemingly representing the Red Sea experience of the redeemed where we shall see the final destruction of the wicked. Revelation 15:3 To the rabbis the first deliverance from Egypt, which marked the institution of Passover, foreshadowed the final deliverance of God’s people who are invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb. Their understanding was `On this night they were saved, and on this night they will be saved'.
The Passover is the beginning of a joyful journey leading to a happy reunion with the Savior at the celebration of the marriage supper of the Lamb. This Banquet represents the consummation of the hopes and expectations of God’s people of all ages. Revelation 19: 9