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Updated: Apr 2

The Jewish people will be celebrating Passover beginning with the first Seder at sundown on April 22nd and ends on April 30th.

Here’s an excerpt from Finding Jesus in Judaism on the festival of Passover::

Passover is the second of the Shalosh Regalim (three pilgrimage festivals). In Temple times, the people brought their offerings to the Temple, as God commanded them to do. Passover is a celebration of freedom and deliverance of the Israelites from Egypt. After the tenth plague of the “killing of the firstborn,” Pharoah told the Israelites to leave Egypt. God commanded them to kill a lamb and place its blood on the doorposts of the Israelites houses, so the angel of death would “pass over” the firstborn Israelites and spare them. It is also a story of deliverance when God freed the Israelites from bondage in Egypt and brought them out of Egypt.

“Passover” was initially celebrated beginning on the 14th of Nisan and today is combined with “The Feast of Unleavened Bread” (Hag HaMatzot) mentioned in Leviticus 23, and begins on the 15th. In my studies, I learned that the 14th is actually the first day of Passover, as it was the day the lamb was commanded to be slaughtered. In later

times, however, it merged into starting on the 15th. The length of the holiday is for seven or eight days, depending where you live or which sect you associate with. No leavened bread is eaten during this

time. On the evening of the 15th and the 16th, the story of Passover is re-told at the “Seder” (which means order) each year in Jewish homes around the table. A “Haggadah” is used (a special book), which comes from the Hebrew word “Hageyd” meaning “to tell.” The family reads the Passover story from the Haggadah, re-telling the story to the children as not to forget that their forefathers were in bondage in Egypt and God freed them from slavery. There are several symbols placed on the Seder plate to remind Jews of the different aspects of the Passover. Maror (bitter herbs) remembering the bitterness of slavery, salt water dipped in parsley remembering the tears that were shed while in bondage. The parsley or greens reminds the Jews of the hyssop used to place the blood on the doorposts of the Israelites houses, and the Charoset made of apples, walnuts and honey is reminiscent of the mortar used to lay bricks while enslaved. The lamb shank is also on the Seder plate and will be discussed further.

Before Passover begins, it is customary to rid the house of any “hametz” or leaven, as there will be no more leaven eaten during the length of the Passover holiday. This is to remind the Jews that they had to leave in such haste after Pharoah came to them during the night and told them to leave; so they had no time to let their bread rise. This is the reason why only unleavened bread (matzoh) is eaten on Passover. So, spring cleaning is done to remove any leavened products, and the ordinary dishes are replaced with the special Passover dishes.

New Testament Fulfillment: Leaven for believers is a sign of sin, and the significance of purging the leaven from the house symbolizes dealing with sin, as Jesus dealt with the ultimate sin problem for us.

At the Seder, there are very meaningful symbols for us as believers:

There are four cups of wine based on four “I wills” given to the Israelites. The first, The Cup of Sanctification comes from Exodus 6:6-7 “I am the Lord; I will bring you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians.” God separated the Israelites from the Egyptians, just as we have been set apart, or sanctified, as His children.

The second cup of wine is The Cup of Praise, Cup of Plagues or Cup of Judgment, “I will free you from being slaves.” This cup is the cup of praise because the Jewish people are reminded, they can praise God for using the plagues to free the Israelites from slavery. The Cup of Plagues is another name for the second cup reminding them of the Ten Plagues brought on the Egyptians. It is also the Cup of Judgment because God judged the Egyptians and freed the Israelites from slavery. Just as the Israelites were delivered from the bondage of slavery, so we can praise God for delivering us from the bondage of sin!

The third cup of wine is The Cup of Redemption, “I will redeem you with an outstretched arm.” Just as God redeemed the Israelites from the Egyptians, so we have been redeemed by the price Yeshua paid and the punishment He took on Himself in our place. Just as a perfect lamb was sacrificed for the blood to be used on the doorposts, so Yeshua became our perfect Passover Lamb when He

shed His blood for us. It was this cup at the Passover that He raised His cup and said, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which is shed for you.” Luke 22:20

The fourth cup of wine is The Cup of Praise, “I will take you for my people and I will be your God.” Just as God took the Israelites

to be His people, we can offer praise because He took us for His own people.

This is also Elijah’s cup. Some combine the fourth cup of praise with Elijah’s cup. Some follow the tradition that Elijah’s cup is the fifth cup. In many homes, not only a cup of wine but a full place setting is set, in case Elijah the prophet should come, in fulfillment of Malachi 4:5: “Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord.” The youngest child is sent to the door to see whether or not Elijah has come this year. Jesus did not drink the fourth cup at His Seder. After He drank the third cup, He said, “I say unto you, I will not drink henceforth of this fruit of the vine, until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father’s Kingdom.” Matthew 26:29 The Jews do not partake in drinking this cup today!

Jesus had said that John the Baptist had already come in the spirit of Elijah (Elijah had appeared on the night of the transfiguration). This cup symbolizes awaiting the coming of the Messiah. The Jews don’t realize that the Messiah has already come. When Elijah does not come at the Seder, it is assumed that another year must pass before Messiah can come. The head of the family will say, “Next year in Jerusalem!”

The lamb shank on the Seder plate represents the lamb that was slain. God told Moses to have the Israelites take a lamb four days before slaughter. Messiah entered Jerusalem four days before His crucifixion. The lamb was to be without blemish, just as Jesus was sinless and without blemish. The lamb shank on the Seder plate is untouched symbolizing that no more sacrifices are made. As believers, we know that we don’t need to make sacrifices. Our

Messiah was the ultimate sacrifice once for all! He was the

Passover Lamb without spot or blemish, just as the Israelites were commanded to slaughter a lamb without spot or blemish! (Exodus 12:5)

Just as the blood of the lamb was to be put on the doorposts to spare the Israelites from death, so too Jesus’ blood keeps us from eternal death.

There are three matzot on the table in a “Triune.” This is astounding for us as believers. There has been much debate from rabbis about what this Triune represents. They believe, perhaps, it represents the Kohanim, the Levites, and Yisrael (other ten tribes). We as believers know this is a symbol of the Trinity. The unleavened bread is a symbol of being without sin. So, too, the unleavened bread is striped and pierced, just as the Messiah was scourged and pierced for our transgressions as Isaiah prophesied in Chapter 53:5.

The Afikomen (meaning “Thou Shalt Come”) is the matzoh portion taken out from the Triune during the Seder. It is the middle matzoh that is taken out, broken in half, half is wrapped in a napkin and hidden by the father for the children to find after the meal and return to the father to “redeem” for a price (the children barter for money). We know as believers this middle matzoh represents the Son of God, Yeshua, who was broken for us, died, was buried, and rose again. He was also redeemed for a price. [1]

In Luke 22:7-16, Jesus ate the Passover with His disciples, saying He desired to eat the Passover with them before suffering, and He would not eat it again until the kingdom of God is fulfilled. After the Passover, the Scriptures say they sang a hymn and went to the Mount of Olives. At the Seder, the “Hallel” is said from Psalm 118:22, “The stone which the builders rejected has become the chief cornerstone.” Matthew 21:42 Jesus is our cornerstone!

Jesus the Messiah is our Passover Lamb!

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