Passover, also known as Pesach (PAY-sakh), is the second of the spring feasts. It is one of the most significant Jewish holidays. It lasts eight days and is celebrated in combination with the Feasts of Unleavened Bread and First Fruits. This feast day commemorates God’s divine deliverance of the Israelites from slavery in Egypt. Its name comes from the story of the tenth plague (the death of the firstborn), when the angel of death passed over the Israelites’ homes, sparing the firstborn of their families. The first day of the feast is 14 of Nisan, which in 2023 starts at sunset on April 5th.
The Lord’s Commandment
These are the Lord’s appointed feasts, 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.
The Israelites were held in bondage in Egypt for over a hundred years. God, in His infinite mercy and compassion, heard His children’s cries and raised a deliverer, Moses. The Lord then sent Moses and his brother, Aaron, to go to Pharoah and request that His people be released to go into the desert and worship him.
Moses appeared before Pharaoh ten times to petition for the Israelite’s release. Each time Pharaoh refused and increased the hardships on the people. After each rejection of His request, God sent a plague, the tenth and last being the death of all firstborn sons. This plague would have affected all the people in the land, but God provided a way for Israel to be saved. By placing the blood of an unblemished lamb on their doorposts, the angel of death recognized the children of God and “passed over” their homes. It was the death of his firstborn son that drove Pharaoh to finally release the Israelites. The Lord had delivered His people from bondage and set them free to worship Him
The Israelites were just as deserving of death as the Egyptians were due to their sin, but God is faithful. He had made an everlasting covenant with Abraham to deliver His people from slavery and return them to the land He had promised. (Gen. 15:12-16)
God sent Moses to deliver a message to Pharoah, but also one to His children. “I am the LORD, and I will bring you out from under the yoke of the Egyptians. I will free you from being slaves to them and I will redeem you with an outstretched are and with mighty acts of judgment. I will take you as my own people, and I will be your God. Then you will know that I am the Lord your God.” (Ex. 6:6-7)
Redemption means release from not only slavery and suffering but also deliverance to freedom and joy. The Lord is the author of redemption, and His nature is love. God set His love on Israel, and because He loved them, He delivered them out of Egypt and out of slavery.
The Ceremonial Preparation
Preparations for the Passover begin right after Purim. For weeks before Passover, the houses are thoroughly cleaned to do away with all leaven products. The Lord had commanded that for seven days, including Passover Day, the only bread the children of Israel could eat was unleavened bread to commemorate their hasty departure from Egypt. The Jewish people take several weeks to ensure that absolutely no leaven products remain in the home that will taint the ceremonial Seder Dinner. On the final day before Passover, the house is meticulously searched for crumbs, gathering any found and burning them the following day.
Special dishes, cookware, and utensils dedicated to this one purpose are brought out to be used during this time. Kosher foods used in the traditional ceremony will be purchased and set aside. However, there will be no lamb served. Since the temple’s destruction in 70 A.D., the Jewish practice of sacrificing a lamb has been halted and will not resume until the new temple’s building or the Messiah’s return.
The Passover Seder Dinner
The word Seder simply means “order” and refers to an order of service designed to tell the story of the Passover. It begins at dusk and often takes many hours to complete. This telling reminds the Children of Israel each year of what God did by the hand of Moses in delivering them from Egyptian bondage. The Feast of Passover is an especially wonderful time for the children, as they can personally participate in the Seder. By touching, tasting, and smelling the elements on the Seder table, participants are brought back to the great event events of the original Exodus.
One essential component of the Seder dinner is the Haggadah. This booklet contains the various prayers, blessings, rituals, and songs used in the Seder ceremony. These traditions remind the children of Israel each year of what God did by the hand of Moses in delivering them from Egyptian bondage.
Follow the link to access a copy of the Messianic “Haggadah” to see the rich symbolism and full view of how a traditional Seder dinner is conducted. www.messiahinthepassover.com
The Seder dinner and ceremony conclude with the participants singing Hallel Psalms followed by a joyous proclamation of hope and faith recited in unison: L’Shana HaBa’ah B’Yerushalayim or “Next Year in Jerusalem!”.
The New Passover Lamb
Passover becomes even more significant when you realize it points to an even greater event, the death of the ultimate Passover Lamb, Yeshua (Jesus). His death corresponded to the Old Testament sacrifice in many ways. Like the Passover lamb, he was a mature male (Luke 3:23), none of his bones was broken (Ex. 12:46; John 19:36), he was thoroughly examined and found spotless (1 Pet. 2:22), and he was slain for our sins (1 Cor. 15:3; Rev. 1:5). We boast that we’ve been redeemed, “not with perishable things like silver and gold – but with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without blemish or spot” (1 Pet. 1:18–19).
Just as the Jewish people were saved from the death of the firstborn by applying the Passover lamb’s blood to their homes, those who place Yeshua’s (Jesus’) blood on the “doorposts” of their hearts will be saved from spiritual death. Passover reminds us of God’s faithfulness in delivering His chosen people from bondage in Egypt and delivering us from our sins by sending the Lamb of God. Yeshua, our Messiah. It is why God can say to us, “When I see his blood, I will pass over you.”
L’Shana HaBa’ah B’Yerushalayim or “Next Year in Jerusalem!” also has significant meaning to followers of Yeshua, the Messiah, because we expect Him to return at any moment! We do not know the day or hour of His second coming, but we wait in hope, knowing that just as the Messiah came once to free us from sin, He will come again to establish His kingdom.