Yeshua On Every Page                     April 2003
Yeshua In The Passover

This year Passover and the Feast of Unleavened Bread will be celebrated April 17 - April 24.  There are many wonderful things that we as believers in the Messiah can learn from these Biblical Feasts, not only about ourselves and the way we should live, but about our Messiah as well.

One of the seven Feasts of Moses and the first of the three springtime festivals, Passover falls on Nisan 14th on the Jewish calendar and is filled with Messianic significance.  At the first Passover in Egypt the Israelites were commanded to slaughter a lamb that had no spot or blemish nor any broken bones, then apply the blood of the lamb to the doorposts and lintels of their homes with hyssop.  By applying the blood of the lamb to their homes the angel of death would pass over their home (hence the name of the feast) and all in their household would be saved.  It didn't matter if those inside were Jewish or not.  As long as they put themselves under the protection of the blood of the lamb their life was spared.  Subsequently, in preparation for the Passover and the Feast of Unleavened Bread (which lasts seven days), we are also told to remove all leaven from the home.

The second spring feast, the Feast of Unleavened Bread (the bread of affliction), begins the day after Passover.  It is then that the peace offering was made.  On Nisan 17th is the Feast of First Fruits, when the first fruits from the harvest would be brought before the Lord.  (Leviticus 23:4-14, outlines each of these three feasts.)  Because these three feasts fall so closely together, the term “Passover” is usually used to reference all three.

Okay, so these are nice holidays that God cooked up for Israel, and it's wonderful that the Jews still commemorate their deliverance from bondage in Egypt, but what does this have to do with us?  Let's take another look at the Messianic implications of these feasts and how they were fulfilled.

“Purge (clean out) the old leaven that you may be fresh (new) dough, still uncontaminated [as you are], for Christ, our Passover [Lamb], has been sacrificed.  Therefore, let us keep the feast, not with old leaven, nor with leaven of vice and malice and wickedness, but with the unleavened [bread] of purity (nobility, honor) and sincerity and [unadulterated] truth.” - I Cor. 5:7-8

Many people are quite familiar with a portion of this passage and usually hear it before being served communion.  Leaven is always a type for sin in Scripture, so here Paul is telling the believers in Corinth to search out the sin in their lives that they may come in to relationship with the Messiah without any leaven, or sin, in their lives and be in a sincere and right relationship with God with nothing hidden from Him.  You might also be familiar with the following passage from Luke 22:14-20:

“And when the hour came, [Jesus] reclined at table, and the apostles with Him.  And He said to them, I have earnestly and intensely desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer; For I say to you, I shall eat it no more until it is fulfilled in the kingdom of God.  And He took a cup, and when He had given thanks, He said, Take this and divide and distribute it among yourselves; For I say to you that from now on I shall not drink of the fruit of the vine at all until the kingdom of God comes.  Then He took a loaf [of bread], and when He had given thanks, He broke [it] and gave it to them saying, This is My body which is given for you; do this in remembrance of Me.  And in like manner, He took the cup after supper, saying, This cup is the new testament or covenant [ratified] in My blood, which is shed (poured out) for you.”

Unfortunately, without understanding what takes place at a Seder (the Passover meal) and why, this scene becomes nothing more than a nice glimpse of Yeshua's last earthly meal.  Let's try to unravel this.

First of all, we see that Yeshua and His apostles are reclining at the table.  This reclining is an important part of the Passover and brings back many fond memories for me of my father and uncle practically sliding off their chairs from their "reclining."  Because the first Passover was made in haste in preparation for flight from Egypt, today when the Passover is celebrated we recline to show that we are no longer sojourners.  This is what Yeshua and His apostles were doing.

Next, Yeshua says that He will not eat of the Passover again until it is fulfilled in the Kingdom of God.  But didn't Yeshua fulfilled the Passover?  He did, in that He is our Passover Lamb under whose blood we find protection.  (This protection was inferred when Yeshua wept over Jerusalem in Luke 19:41-44.  Here He stated that He would have taken Jerusalem under His wings as a mother hen with her chicks.  This concept of covering or protecting Israel with His wings is the identical concept conveyed in the Egyptian word "pesh", from which we get Pesach (Passover) - to shelter and protect under the outstretched wings of the Almighty as He stood guard protecting each blood-sprinkled door.)  But the fullness of the Passover can not be completed until Yeshua returns to establish His kingdom for reasons we will see in a moment.

Next we see Yeshua giving His apostles “a cup” to divide amongst themselves.  This is an unfortunate translation.  This wasn't just a cup of wine to drink, but the third of four cups that are drunk during the Passover meal.  This third cup is called the cup of redemption.  The apostles drank it as part of the proscribed order of the meal, but Yeshua did not drink the third cup at the meal - He drank it on the cross (Mark 15:35-37).  It is through Yeshua's transaction on the cross that we are redeemed.

Yeshua then breaks bread, the unleavened bread of affliction, and gives it to the apostles telling them that it is His body and to “do this” in remembrance of Him.  Again, without understanding the Passover this makes no sense.  During the Passover meal there are three pieces of matzo that are placed in the center of the table, stacked and covered with white linen.  The center piece is broken in two, one piece of it wrapped in white linen and hidden until the end of the meal, at which time it is redeemed and eaten by all.  This is highly symbolic of what Yeshua was about to endure on His way to the cross and on the cross itself.  His body was brutally beaten - so beaten, in fact, that He no longer looked human (Isaiah 52:14).  And just like that piece of broken bread gets wrapped in white linen, so too was the body of the Messiah.  He was then hidden in a tomb and redeemed, resurrected, on the third day!

Finally, Yeshua gave the apostles the fourth and final cup of the Passover meal.  This is the cup that Yeshua identifies with the new covenant which was ratified by His shed blood.  Again, He did not partake of this cup Himself, and said that He would not drink of this fourth cup until the Kingdom of God comes.  This fourth cup is known as the cup of the kingdom, and it is for this reason that the Passover has not been completely fulfilled, and can not be completely fulfilled, until God's Kingdom is established on the Earth.

The next time you take communion, remember that it is not some newly established practice divorced of Old Testament roots.  It is born out of the Passover, out of Israel's deliverance from bondage.  It was established as a memorial in advance of the coming Messiah and is now ours as a promise of the complete fulfillment of the Messianic Kingdom.  When you “do this in remembrance of Me (Yeshua),” think not only of the sacrifice made by the Messiah on your behalf, but of the promise of the wonderful age that is yet to come!

Just as in the first Passover in Egypt, it doesn't matter if you are Jew or Gentile as long as you place yourself under the blood of the Lamb of God, you will be spared.  But not only is Yeshua our Passover Lamb, He is also our peace offering (Isaiah 53:5).  While Yeshua was offering Himself on the cross as a sacrifice for us, the lambs that had been brought to the Temple for peace offerings were being sacrificed at the same time.  Coincidence?  I wouldn't bet on it!

Then, on First Fruits - the day after the Sabbath after Passover (or Sunday) - the Messiah Yeshua became the First Fruit of the grave when He was resurrected by the power of the Holy Spirit.  That year First Fruits fell on Nisan 17th.

It is interesting to note that it is believed that the flood in Genesis ended on Nisan 17th - the new beginning for mankind.  It is also believed that Israel crossed the Red Sea on Nisan 17th - the beginning of a free nation.  And through the Messiah's death and resurrection on Nisan 17th, we have our new beginning in Him.

The day after First Fruits, God commands that seven Sabbaths, or 49 days, be counted.  Then on the 50th day there is another feast - Shavuot, or Pentecost, which we'll look at next month!  Until then, Hag Sameach - Happy Holidays!

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