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Saturday, April 5, 2014

What is Passover? Why Celebrate it?

Why Celebrate Passover Today?
1. Passover is a picture of salvation.
• The Hebrew people went from slavery to freedom and from darkness to light. With the Second Passover, both Jew and Gentile were released from slavery to sin, Satan and eternal death, to walk in the Kingdom of Yahshua, the Light of the world.
2. Passover remembers the death of the lamb in Egypt, which freed the Hebrews from slavery.
• Yah­shua is called the Lamb of God. When Yahshua dies, He tells us that as often as we eat His body and His blood, we do it in remembrance of His death, which means that we, too, must die to self.
3. The essence of the Passover is where the Lord’s Supper comes from.
• The Lord’s Supper was in the ancient Passover all the time. When Yahshua says that the ancients said not to murder, but that He says that we are not to hate our brother in our heart, Yahshua isn’t making up a new commandment and discarding the commandment not to murder. He’s explaining that the essence of the commandment not to murder is not to hate your brother. It was there all the time at the commandment’s very core, center or essence. So, too, with the Lord’s Supper in the First Passover.
4. Yahshua and every Apostle celebrated Passover all their lives.
• If we really want to know Who Yahshua was, and is now, we must realize that He not only celebrated Passover all His life on Earth in Israel, but that He commanded it to come into existence in the beginning. As we’ll see, He will also be celebrating it with us in Eternity.
5. Passover is the ancient Hebraic heritage of every Gentile who has been grafted into the House of Israel.
• It’s your time to start learning some of the God-given Family values.
6. Passover also offers you a great lead in with Jewish people.
• Tell a Jew that you celebrated or learned about Passover and their ears will perk up. They’ll think, ‘A Gentile knows about Passover?!’ It’s a great way to start a conversation about the Passover Lamb whose blood will deliver us from the wrath of God on the Day of Judgment, just as the blood of the lamb saved the Hebrew people from the wrath of God that First Passover.

The Dual Reality of the Three Spring Feasts

Passover proclaims the death of the lamb that freed Israel from Egyptian slavery. With the death of the Lamb, Israel was freed from slavery to sin and eternal death.

The Feast of Unleavened Bread was a seven day picture of ‘death to self’ for Israel. Yahweh demanded that Israel walk in holiness and sanctification. This was symbolized by the eating of bread without yeast; matza (unleavened bread). It’s during this Feast, that begins a couple of hours after the death of the lamb, that Yahshua dies as the Grain from Heaven that was crushed in order for His followers to eat of Him who is the Matza (Unleavened Bread) of life:
‘Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the round and dies, it remains alone, but if it dies, it bears much fruit. He who loves his life will lose it, but he who hates his life in this world, will keep it to life eternal’ (Jn. 12:24-25).
In this period of a week we are called to evaluate our position in Yahshua: are we dying to self daily that His life might be seen? Are we seeking to be made into His Image? This is pictured in the Lord’s Supper: death to self, which is eaten on the first day of the Feast of Matza and every day thereafter.

The First Sheaf Wave Offering always came on the Sunday of the Feast of Unleavened Bread week (except when Passover began on the seventh day Sabbath [Saturday], which meant that it would come a week later on Sunday). It was the time that Israel recognized that Yahweh provided grain (food and life) for His people and that giving the first of it to Him sanctified all the rest of the harvest for Israel. All the harvest is Yahweh's, for He caused it to come forth and He was seen as giving it to Israel for her needs.

This also pictures Yahshua as that Grain from Heaven risen from the dead, caused to rise by Yahweh, and that all that who follow Him will be acceptable to Yahweh. The First Sheaf is dedicated or given to Yahweh, thereby making the rest of the harvest acceptable for consumption by Israel and also making Israel acceptable to Yahweh. Yahshua, rising from the dead, is seen as the First Sheaf. We as priests can eat of Him because He has been given to us by Yahweh for our food for life. As we walk with Him and are made into His Image, others are able to eat of Messiah Yahshua from us. The Aaronic Priests were the only ones able to eat of the First Sheaf Offering.1

The Meaning of Passover

The first Passover in Egypt was a time of entering into God’s covenant, of being cleansed or protected by the blood of a lamb and of release from bondage or slavery. It’s a time of new beginnings or new birth. Israel was birthed out of the Kingdom of Darkness into the Kingdom of Light. The new birth that Yahshua speaks of is a picture of what Yahweh had already done for His people in Egypt.

In Adam we have the Creation of the World. In Moses we have the Creation of the people of Yahweh, Israel. In Yahshua we have the re-Creation of the people of Yahweh—Israel; both Jew and Gentile.

Romans 8:18-25 says that everything in history awaits this new Creation. In Gen. 1:3 God’s first recorded words are ‘Let there be Light!’ and Light was. Now, that Light is in us! For the Light that appeared on the first day of Creation was not the sun, as the sun was made on the fourth day. The Light that manifested that First Day was the Light of the World, Yahshua, the uniquely begotten Son of God. Yahshua was not created. He is not a creature. He is the uniquely begotten Son of the Father, fully deity and with His conception in the womb of Miryam (Mary), fully human. With His death and resurrection He is now the God-Man glorified.

Israel was conceived in one man: Abraham and the re-created Israel is conceived in one Man, also: Yahshua. Abraham left his family and all behind him, to come to Israel, and so did Yahshua.

Three thousand, four hundred years ago, Yahweh moved in a way that He had never moved before. To Fathers Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, He appeared in dreams and visions. To Joseph, He worked behind the scenes. In Moses, Yahweh, the great I AM, exploded upon history!

Egypt was the United States of its day, the superpower in the world, and therefore, the gods of Egypt were considered invincible by everyone. The Hebrew slaves were not in any position to negotiate their freedom. There was nothing that they possessed that they could offer Pharaoh in exchange for their freedom. Pharaoh owned them as slaves, and therefore, everything they had was Pharaoh’s. There was no way out. Before Yahshua died this was a perfect picture of our position to sin, eternal death and Satan.

Passover begins in Exodus 3 when the Messenger of Yahweh, commonly mis-translated as the Angel of the Lord, and Yahweh appear to Moses and send him to save the Hebrew slaves from Pharaoh and Egyptian oppression. In the Great News according to John, Yahshua refers to Himself as the Sent One at least 39 times.2 Here are just two of those references:
‘ I can do nothing on My own initiative. As I hear, I judge and My judgment is just, because I do not seek My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me’ (Jn. 5:30).

‘ As the living Father sent Me, and I live because of the Father, so he who eats Me, he also will live because of Me’ (Jn. 6:57).
A messenger is ‘a sent one.’ Someone sent with a message. In Hebrew, the word used for ‘angel’ is mahl-ahch מַלְאַךְ, literally, a ‘messenger.’ Now, generally, messengers sent from God are angels, but in the case of ‘the Angel’ of the Lord, this Messenger is none other than Jesus. The text should be translated, ‘the Messenger of the Lord’ with a capital ‘M’ for this Messenger (and of course, even more properly, it should be translated as the Messenger of Yahweh). In the places where the Messenger of Yahweh is seen, the Messenger not only receives worship, something that only should be given to God, but also speaks in the first person as God Himself, something an angel of Yahweh never does in Scripture.

The ten plagues in Egypt are judgments against Egypt and her gods. The first plague, the Nile being changed into blood, gets the attention of the Egyptians in two very powerful ways. First, the Nile was the source of ancient Egypt’s rich fertility, and therefore, her life. Without the Nile there never would have been an Egypt as we know it.

Second, because it was seen as the source of life (water), religious hymns were song to the Nile for it was also considered a god. The Nile was deified by the Egyptians. These hymns can be found in museums in Cairo and London today. They are prolific.

The Nile being changed into blood would also picture the last judgment upon Egypt, death; the (red) blood of the firstborn of Egypt being required because of Pharaoh’s stubbornness. The number ten is the number one with a zero after it. The significance is that the number one remains the same in essence, but it’s magnified.

The second plague was frogs. They also symbolized a god of fertility to the Egyptians. It’s as though Yahweh were saying, ‘You like to worship frogs, I’ll give you frogs!’

All the ten plagues were directed at a particular god of Egypt. The ninth plague was darkness upon all the land of Egypt, except where the Hebrew slaves dwelt, in Goshen. It was directed at the highest Egyptian god, Ra, the sun god. Pharaoh was worshipped as an incarnation of Ra (the son of god in the flesh). Sound familiar? The incarnation of the sun god was a common ancient pagan concept before Yahshua wedded Himself to humanity. Satan is the master deceiver and has set up pagan religions to mimic the true religion of the God of Israel. Many get caught in his trap, thinking that if the ancient religions of the world had an incarnate sun god, with him dying and being resurrected, surely Christianity’s Jesus is just another version of that.

The tenth plague was the death of the firstborn of Egypt. Pharaoh and Ra (Satan) could do nothing to protect their people or stop it. Pharaoh’s son, next in line to the throne of Egypt, was killed, as well as all the other firstborn sons and all the firstborn of their animals. Yahweh struck at the very heart of Egypt. The firstborn son signifies the strength of a man or nation (Gen. 49:3).

Just as Adam is the head of all mankind, so the firstborn of Egypt were the head of their race. In the Passover, Yahweh claims all the firstborn of Israel for Himself. They belong to Him in a special way. They would have all been priests unto Yahweh, from every Tribe and family of Israel, had Israel not rebelled in the incident of the Gold Calf.

Israel’s firstborn sons were spared in Egypt, saved or delivered from death by a ceremony that sacrificed a lamb and placed its blood upon the doorposts and the lintel of their homes. Passover literally means, ‘to leap over; to pass over.’ This pictures the Lord Yahweh passing over the homes of the Hebrews because of the blood of the lamb that ‘protected’ that home.  Exodus 12:23 reads:
‘For Yahweh will pass through to smite the Egyptians and when He sees the blood on the lintel and on the two doorposts, Yahweh will pass over the door and will not allow the Destroyer to come into your houses to smite you’ (Ex. 12:23).
This is a picture of what will happen to all believers in Yahshua on the Day of Judgment. Having the blood of the Lamb within us means that the wrath of Yahweh will ‘pass over’ us. We will be saved from eternal death. Exodus 12:27 reads:
“you shall say, ‘It is a Passover sacrifice to Yahweh, who passed over the houses of the Sons of Israel in Egypt when He smote the Egyptians, but spared our homes,’ and the people bowed down and worshiped."
The 10th plague of death shattered the very fabric and core of Egyptian reality. It was not only the death of the firstborn of Egypt, but the total destruction of their religious understanding and of how they perceived the universe. They were completely shattered. The Egyptian gods could do nothing against Yahweh, the God of the Hebrew slaves—the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. Passover is a mini-Judgment Day. Yahweh could have destroyed all the Egyptians, but chose to keep some around to proclaim what He had done.

Exodus 12:1-14 records the commandment to keep Passover, along with the three foods that are required for a biblical Passover: lamb, matza and bitter herbs. Exodus 12:1-2 states:
“Now Yahweh said to Moses and Aaron in the land of Egypt, ‘This month shall be the beginning of months for you. It’s to be the first month of the year to you.’"
This speaks of the month in which Passover falls, that it will be the beginning of the months for the Hebrews, in distinction to the Egyptian calendar.5 Exodus 12:3-5 has Israel separating the lamb on the 10th day of the month, four days before the Passover. Interestingly enough, Passover, 14 Aviv (the name of the first month in the biblical Hebrew calendar) is not a holy day, but the day the Passover lamb was slain, in the late afternoon at twilight, just before 15 Aviv when the Passover ceremony would take place:
“Speak to all the Congregation of Israel, saying, ‘On the tenth of this month they are each one to take a lamb for themselves, according to their fathers’ households, a lamb for each household. Now, if the household is too small for a lamb, then he and his neighbor nearest to his house are to take one according to the number of persons in them; according to what each man should eat, you are to divide the lamb. Your lamb shall be an unblemished male a year old. You may take it from the sheep or from the goats.’"
Setting the lamb apart for four days would mean that it was like a pet. At the end of the four days it would have been very hard to sacrifice it. These feelings are also seen in the hearts of the Apostles as they watched Yahshua being crucified.

Yahshua came into Jerusalem four days before His death ‘to be inspected’ by the Elders of Israel for ‘flaws or blemishes’ (i.e. sins, and if He really was the Messiah). In John 12:1, 12-13 it states:

‘Yahshua, therefore, six days before the Passover, came to Bethany where Lazarus was, whom Jesus had raised from the dead…On the next day the large crowd who had come to the Feast, when they heard that Yahshua was coming to Jerusalem took branches of palm trees and went out to meet Him, and cried out, ‘Hosanna! Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord! The King of Israel!’”

In Hebrew counting the day of the Passover would have been included in John’s description, therefore, what we might think of as five days before Passover was actually four days before Passover. ‘Without blemish’ means that the lamb would be healthy. It doesn’t mean that it had to be pure white. It would be a male of the flock, one year old and it would picture Yahshua in the prime of His life. John the Baptist declared, ‘Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world’ (Jn. 1:29). 

John’s disciples might not have understood that as we do today, but they would have associated it with the Passover lamb who brought them forth from Egyptian slavery. How they might have understood it at that time was that the Messiah would deliver them from Roman oppression.

Everyone ‘participated’ in the sacrifice of the lamb:
‘ You shall keep it until the fourteenth day of the same month, then the whole assembly of the Congregation of Israel is to kill it at twilight’ (Ex. 12:6).
The ‘whole assembly killing it at twilight’ meant that everyone, not just the ones slaying the lamb, and not just the firstborn whose lives were on the line, but everyone had to see the sacrifice of the lamb. Every Hebrew man, woman and child who was to be delivered from Egyptian slavery had to look upon the sacrifice of the lamb—to the Glory of Yahweh.

Anyone who desires to enter into the Kingdom of Heaven must look upon Messiah crucified—to the Glory of the Father. The heavenly work of Yahshua’s sacrificial blood must be upon their lives.

Exodus 12:7 speaks of where the blood was to be placed: upon the doorposts and the lintel:
‘Moreover, they shall take some of the blood and put it on the two doorposts and on the lintel of the houses in which they eat it.’
Houses are often used in cartoons as a picture of the face: the door is the mouth and the windows are the eyes. The blood of the lamb was symbolically being placed over the mouth of Israel. This is one part of the Lord’s Supper because wine is symbolic of blood. Blood is represented in Scripture as wine. In Gen. 49:11 it states of the future Messiah:
‘ He ties his foal to the vine and His donkey’s colt to the choice vine. He washes His garments in wine and His robes in the blood of grapes.’
The juice of the grape is called ‘blood.’ In an allusion to Yahshua defeating His enemies and their blood flowing like wine, Rev. 14:20 states:
‘ And the wine press was trodden outside the city and blood came out from the wine press up to the horses’ bridles for a distance of two hundred miles.’
In Deuteronomy 32:14 it has:
‘ Curds of cows and milk of the flock with fat of lambs and rams, the breed of Bashan and goats. With the finest of the wheat and of the blood of grapes you drank wine.’
This dual reference, wine picturing blood and vice versa, is why Yahshua could use the wine at the Passover table to picture His blood sacrifice. The wine was there on the table to symbolize the blood of the lamb that saved Israel from Egyptian slavery.

Exodus 12:8 reveals the three biblical foods for Passover: Roasted lamb, which pictures Yahshua’s brutal death. Bitter herbs, which stand for the life of bitterness that the Hebrews had in Egyptian slavery, and matza, which also speaks of their being afflicted. In Jer. 11:4 Yahweh calls Egypt an iron furnace:
“ which I commanded your Fathers in the Day that I brought them out of the land of Egypt, from the iron furnace, saying, ‘Listen to My Voice and do according to all which I command you so you shall be My people and I will be your God.’"
An iron furnace is a furnace so hot that it literally melts iron. It’s symbolic of the intense suffering and pain that the Egyptians perpetrated against the Hebrews. For us it pictures the bitterness of trusting in our self before we come to Yahshua and the fruitlessness of walking in carnality after we come to Him.

Matza (unleavened bread) is symbolic of pure bread because it has no yeast (corruption) in it. Yeast or leaven pictures sin. Yahshua is the Bread of Heaven pictured in the unleavened bread of Passover. Unleavened bread (matza) is a picture of sinless or holy bread. Yahweh continued to give directions to Israel for the celebrating of His Passover:
‘Do not eat any of it raw or boiled at all with water, but rather roasted with fire, both its head and its legs along with its entrails’ (Ex. 12:9).
This pictures that in His sacrifice Yahshua would die a brutal death and that He would be ‘whole,’ with not a bone broken. In Ex. 12:10 it states,
‘And you shall not leave any of it over until morning, but whatever is left of it until morning you shall burn with fire.’
This refers to the one-time sacrifice of Yahshua. He doesn’t have to come back in each generation and be sacrificed again (Heb. 9:23-28).

In Ex. 12:11 it speaks of how Israel was to eat it:
‘Now you shall eat it in this manner: with your loins girded, your sandals on your feet and your staff in your hand, and you must eat it in haste—it is Yahweh's Passover.’
In preparation for leaving Egypt, the Hebrews were to have a belt or a sash on their waist, which meant that it would lift up the bottom of their garments to make walking a long distance easier.  Sandals on their feet spoke of the distance involved that they would travel and of the necessity for protecting their feet. A staff in their hand would also help them on their long journey.

Every time we take the Lord’s Supper we need to be ready to leave our life of sin and indifference in order to walk with Yahshua in His Kingdom. It’s a picture of what happened when we first said, ‘Yes!’ to Yahshua. He took us out of the Kingdom of Darkness and brought us into His Kingdom of Light.

Exodus 12:12-14 speaks of the destruction and judgment that Yahweh would cause to happen upon an Egypt that was stubborn to her core. She would not take the blood of the lamb. Egypt pictures the world that refuses what Yahweh has done for it in offering it His Son. When we take the matza and the wine, the body and blood of Yahshua, we are entering into, re-enacting, the Passover drama and taking upon our self Yahweh's provision for salvation. Without the blood of the Lamb it would have been just as impossible for us to leave Satan’s Kingdom as it was for Israel to leave Pharaoh’s Kingdom:
‘For I will go through the land of Egypt on that night and will strike down all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, both man and beast and against all the gods of Egypt I will execute judgments—I am Yahweh! The blood shall be a sign for you on the houses where you live and when I see the blood I will pass over you and no plague will befall you to destroy you when I strike the land of Egypt. Now this day will be a memorial to you and you must celebrate it as a Feast to Yahweh throughout your generations. You are to celebrate it as a permanent ordinance.’
This passage reveals that it was a ‘show-down’ between the powers of darkness and the God of Light. It also speaks of celebrating the Feast of Passover forever. Passover honors Yahweh and what He has done for His people Israel in giving the Passover Lamb; to free her first from slavery to Pharaoh, and then, Satan.

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