A Study of Passover

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Passover is an important time in the Jewish calender. In the following study Juanita Lubin discusses the significance of Passover for Christians and the importance of celebrating it. All scriptures are King James Version.

Passover: Feast of our Freedom

People will go to any length not to be late for an appointment. We get up extra early and leave home well in advance of the designated time in order to arrive promptly to see a doctor or for a job interview. If the Queen of England summoned us to an appointment, we would do what was required to honor her and be there on time.

In Leviticus 23:2, the Bible outlines the appointment times that God set for His people meet with Him: “Speak to the children of Israel and say unto them, concerning the feasts of the Lord, which you shall proclaim to be holy convocations, even these are my feasts."

Feast in Hebrew is '"mo’ed" and means an appointment, a fixed time, season, a cycle, an assembly, or an exact time. This word embodies the whole intent of the Father's desire regarding His feasts; assembling at exact times in the right season and cycle of the year. God sets appointments, times for Him to meet with us so He can bless us. God always keeps His appointments, but gives us free will to choose if we want to. It's like God is waiting with buckets of blessings and we can choose whether to turn up to claim them.

The Hebrew term translated as "convocation" in Leviticus 23:2 is "miqra" and it means "a rehearsal." From this we understand that God gave the festivals to be yearly "rehearsals" of future events in the redemption of mankind. If we want to understand the major events in redemption, then we need to understand what God was teaching with these rehearsals.

Passover is one of the most biblically significant events of the year; God’s divine appointment with His people for a time of release from bondage into freedom of new life. Passover means “protection” and comes from specific instructions given by God to the Israelites whose doorposts were marked with blood. God declared in Exodus 12:24 “And you shall observe this thing as an ordinance...forever.”

Passover was established by God on the foundation of His blood covenant with mankind as he brought them out of Egypt. Blood is the currency of heaven. As blood on the doorposts signified protection for the Jews in Egypt, the blood of Jesus is our covering and protection from the enemy's attack.

Christ was crucified and He died at the exact time the lambs were being slaughtered for the Passover feast. Jesus kept his appointment with God becoming the lamb dying for all mankind. For 1,200 years, priests blew the shofar at 3:00 p.m. - the moment the lamb was sacrificed. The Israelites would pause contemplating the sacrifice of the lamb for their sins. At 3:00 p.m. when Jesus was crucified, He cried, "It is finished" signifying that He was the Passover lamb for all mankind. That same moment, the veil of the Temple tore from top to bottom - representing a removal of the separation between God and man. This veil was a three-inch thick, several story high cloth that separated the Holy of Holies from the Holy Place, it also separated the priests from the people.

The First Passover

Passover began in Egypt (a representation of the world), where the children of Israel had become slaves. When the Israelites cried out for God to remember the promises He made to Abraham, God called Moses as a deliverer and instructed him to bring the children of Israel out of Egypt and into to the Promised Land (Exodus 3:8). God sent Moses to Pharaoh to ask permission for the children of Israel to take a three-day journey into the wilderness to sacrifice to God. Pharoah's refusal resulted in God inflicting Egypt with plagues. God instructed Moses to have the Israelites kill a lamb for a household and put the blood on the doorposts of their homes. The blood dripping from the door posts formed a cross over the entrances. Because the people were protected under the blood they escaped the plagues of Egypt, and were finally released and left with the spoils of the Egyptians.

Israel came to the banks of the Red Sea and when Pharaoh saw that the children of Israel were trapped, he pursued them with his army. The Israelites became fearful so Moses stood up and said, "Fear ye not, stand still, and see the salvation [Yeshua] of the Lord" (Exodus 14:13). Jesus is "Yeshua" in Hebrew which means salvation or Savior (Matthew 1:21).

Moses extended his rod, the sea divided and the children of Israel crossed through the Red Sea on dry ground. The Egyptian army pursued the Hebrews into the Red Sea and were drowned. Scripture tells us that the Lord's right hand destroyed the Egyptians that day (Exodus 15:6,12). The right hand is a term for the Messiah, Yeshua (Psalms 44:3; 48:10; 63:8; 74:10-11; Hebrews 1:3).

Blessings

Exodus 23:20-31 states that 7 blessings await the people of God who honor and observe Passover.
1. God assigns an angel to you
2. God will be an enemy to your enemies
3. God gives you prosperity
4. God takes your sickness away from you and your family
5. God gives you a long life
6. God causes increase in your life
7. God will give a special year’s blessing

Like New Testament believers, we must recognize that God’s appointment with us is opportunity to honor Him for what He has done in our lives and in turn, release His blessings for us.

Passover emblems and meaning

The celebration of Passover has a defined order (Seder) and is set out in a book called the Haggadah (Telling). The duty of parents and elders is to instruct younger generations why Passover is observed and what the emblems and order of service mean.

Lighting the candles 

One candle is peace and the other blessing. When we light the Passover candles we welcome the Passover Lamb, the Light of the World, who is peace into our homes.

The Matzah (unleavened bread)

3 pieces of matzah are placed within a linen napkin. The middle piece is removed and broken into two parts, one half is replaced and the other half (called the "afikomen") is hidden by the Father of the house for the children to find later that evening. In Messianic celebrations the 3 pieces represent the Trinity - Father, Son and Holy Spirit. The middle piece, broken and hidden for a time represents Jesus who was broken for us and hidden in the tomb for 3 days. On the 3rd day He was resurrected. The broken matzah is resurrected from its hiding place by children, representing that we enter the resurrection life as children. The resurrected half of the matzah is shared by all present at the close of the Passover celebration. Just as Jesus was pierced and took the stripes for our healing, the matzah is pierced and striped prior to baking. The word "afikomen" is the only Greek word in the seder and means "He came."

Wine

During the Passover service 4 cups of wine are taken. 
Cup 1 – The cup of Sanctification
Cup 2 - The cup of Deliverance
Cup 3 - The cup of Redemption
Cup 4 - The cup of Thanksgiving

Seder Plate

On the table there is a large plate called the Seder plate containing the following items:

Hard boiled egg - symbol of the suffering and oppression in Egypt. It also symbolizes New Life.
Roasted shankbone of lamb - a reminder there had to be blood sacrificed to save lives. It represents the Lamb slain before the foundation of the World.
Bitter herbs - horseradish – a reminder that the Israelites were servants to slavery.
Greens - parsley, celery - a symbol of Spring returning which brings hope.
Haroset - nuts, apple, cinnamon, and wine mixture which has the appearance of straw. A reminder of the mortar used to build the Treasure Cities for Pharaoh. It is symbolic of the hope of freedom that enabled the Hebrews to withstand the bitterness of slavery.
Matzah - the unleavened bread a reminder of the haste with which they left Egypt; before the bread could rise properly.

Salt water

Bowls of salt water are placed on the table for the celebrants to dip the greens prior to eating. The salt water represents the tears shed in slavery as well as the Red Sea that was passed through during the exit from Egypt. It also represents the Salt Covenant, the eternal covenant of God's faithfulness and loyalty to His people.

Rememberance

The last meal that Our Lord had was the Passover meal. In 1 Corinthians 11:24 Jesus said "do this in remembrance of me" referring to his Passover Memorial. This Feast (meal) observes the Lord's death until he comes (1 Corinthians 11:26).

1 Corinthians 5:7-8 tells us that "Christ our Passover is sacrificed for us; therefore let us keep the feast"!