Passover

Feasts of the Lord


These seven Feasts of the Lord God gave to Israel to celebrate throughout their generations. These feasts are not just agricultural in nature, but they are an outline of the entire redemptive program, from the death of Yeshua, the Messiah, to the fulfillment of the Messianic Kingdom. We will be seeing in all seven of the feasts, under the Messianic implications, just how that redemptive program of God will be carried out. These feasts are divided into two sections. The first four will be dealing with the First Coming of the Messiah, also called the spring feasts. The last three which are called the fall feasts will be dealing with the Second Coming of the Messiah to establish His Kingdom, and to fulfill to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob the Covenant promises made to them.


Also understand that the Israelite people at that time did not understand this as the redemptive program of the Messiah. Therefore we must be careful not to read back into the Jewish scriptures according to our understanding of the New Covenant, as they did not know or understand it as we do today. Remember, the revelation of scripture was progressive, and not until the Messiah came and died, was buried, and rose again, and then ascended into heaven did the Apostles even begin to understand what God was doing in relation to the Feasts. Now, with that background, let us move into the first feast, the Passover.


Pesach ñ Passover


Exodus 12:1-28 & Leviticus 23:4-5


Israel had been in the land of Egypt for 430 years. The time of this event would be the last night they would spend as slaves in Egypt. God had already given out nine plagues against Pharaoh and the tenth one was about to come. On the 10th day of the first month (Nisan) of the year, they were to take a lamb and set it aside from all the other lambs to examine it for four days. Then on the 14th day of the first month they were to kill the lamb, put the blood of the lamb on the lintel and on the two side posts of the door of their homes. Then they were to roast the lamb and eat it in their homes, for on this night God was coming through the land, and wherever He saw the blood of the lamb on the doorposts of the home, He would "pass over" that home and spare the first born in that home. Hence you have the name of this their first feast, Passover. This night Israel would experience national deliverance and be delivered by the hand of the Lord from Pharaoh. This was the beginning of the exodus to the land of Canaan that God had promised to them in the Abrahamic Covenant.


Passover was be the first of the Feasts of the Lord that would be given to them through Moses, and the second, which is also mentioned in verses 15-20, was the Feast of Unleavened Bread. Later God would give them five more Feasts of the Lord. The Passover is predominate in the mind of God because through both the Jewish Scriptures and the New Covenant it is mentioned 77 times. All the other feasts are mentioned no more than 10 times each, and most of them only a couple of times.


Before the Passover begins there are some preparations to accomplish. First, a week or so before the Passover, the woman of the house must clean the whole house. The purpose of this is to remove all leaven from the house (Exodus 12:19, 20; 13:7-8). Until all leaven is removed from the house it is not worthy for Passover to be celebrated, for the Talmud says,


"Leaven represents the evil impulse of the heart." (Berachot 17a)


Then the evening before Passover the husband of the house will take the children with him, a candle, a feather and a wooden spoon, and they will search the house for leaven. He is conducting a religious ceremony in which he symbolically searches for the last vestige of leaven in every room of the house. The wife has cleaned the house, but in ten different locations she has left pieces of leaven for the husband and children to find. When they find the 10 pieces, the husband takes the leaven on the wooden spoon along with the feather and candle, wraps them in a linen napkin, and takes it outside to a fire in the backyard (bonfire in city locations), and throws it all into the fire. In so doing it states that this house is now worthy to have Passover.


Also in Orthodox homes they will have a separate set of dishes to replace the common ordinary set for the 8 days of Passover and Unleavened Bread.


Today when we look at the Passover as it is celebrated by Jewish people in their homes there are a number of items on the Passover table that we need to look at. Let me list the items as they would appear on the Passover Seder Table.


  1. Two Candle Sticks
  2. Chairs and Pillows
  3. Haggaddah
    Four Questions
  4. Cup of Wine (4)
    Cup of Blessing
    Cup of Judgment
    Cup of Redemption
    Cup of Praise
  5. Matzah Tash
    Three Loaves of Matzah
    Afikomen
  6. Seder Plate
    Salt Water
    Parsley
    Shank Bone
    Bitter Herbs
    Charoseth
    Roasted Egg
    Onion
  7. The Meal
  8. Elijahís Cup


We will be looking at each of the items and what they mean to the Jewish family celebrating the oldest on going religious feast in the world, (3400 years old). There was only one Passover. Only on one occasion was the blood applied to the door posts and lintels of the their homes, and only once did the Lord go through Egypt to smite the first-born. So, according to Exodus 12:14, every succeeding Passover was to be a memorial of the first Passover, a permanent ordinance.


As the Passover is celebrated yearly, every Jew is to be involved in the Passover and the telling of the story as if he were personally there. This whole celebration is a remembrance of the physical redemption and deliverance from slavery and the gift of freedom that God provided.


Kindling of the Candles


Before the Passover Seder can begin it is customary for the women of the house to kindle the candles and then say the following:


"Blessed are you, O Lord our God! King of the universe, who has sanctified us by your grace and has permitted us to kindle the Festival-light".


"Blessed are you, O Lord our God! King of the universe, who has kept us in life, and has preserved us, and has enabled us to reach this season".


Why do women traditionally light the Passover and Sabbath candles? In the Talmud (Shabbat 31b) where Rashi comments that since it was a woman who was the cause of manís downfall, causing the light of the world to be dimmed, it is womanís obligation to light the candles and bring back light. The woman will cover her head with a covering before kindling the candles, and while reciting the prayer, encircle the flames with her hands as a way of spreading the light and drawing it close to themselves.


Chairs and Pillows


You will notice as you look at the place setting of the Seder table that each setting has a chair and a pillow on it. The purpose of this is that when Israel served as slaves in Egypt that they were not free and had to eat their meals on benches or even standing. Now as freemen they can recline. So, when the cups or elements are partaken they will lean to the left on the pillow symbolizing their freedom.


Kittel


In Orthodox homes the man who leads the Passover, the father or grandfather, will wear a long white robe called a kittel. This is the same type of garment worn at services on Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur. In this case it is symbolic of the Levites. The Levites had three responsibilities;


  1. to care for the Tabernacle, and later the Temple;
  2. to lead in the sacrificial system at the Temple;
  3. lastly the Levites were divided among the 12 tribes of Israel and were to teach and instruct the people in the Word of God


On this night the father is acting as the priestly levite for his family as he tells the story of the Passover and teaches its remembrance to his family.


First Cup: The Cup of Sanctification


At each place setting you will find one cup. This cup will be filled and drunk four times through out the Passover Seder. This cup represents the first of four "I wills" in Exodus 6:6-7:


"I will bring you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians."


This cup will be filled and the Kiddush is said:


"Blessed are you, O Lord our God! King of the universe, Creator of the fruit of the vine. Blessed are you, O Lord, our God! Sovereign of the Universe, who has chosen us from among all peoples, and did exalt us above all nations, and did sanctify us with your commandments: and with love have you given us, O Lord, our God! Solemn days for joy; festivals, and seasons for gladness: this day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread, the season of our freedom: a holy convocation, a memorial of the departure from Egypt: for you have chosen and sanctified us above all people; and holy festivals have you caused us to inherit with joy and gladness. Blessed are you, O Lord! Who sanctifies Israel and the season".


As the family drinks the wine of the first cup they recline to their left side.


Seder Plate


In the center of the Seder table is the Seder plate. This plate has six indented sections for six separate items that will all be used (but one) before the Passover meal as the story of the Exodus is told. The meaning of the word Seder is "order".


The first item on the plate is a sprig of parsley which is taken and dipped into a small dish of salt water by the Seder plate and says:


"Blessed are you, O Lord our God! King of the universe, Who creates the fruit of the earth."


This Parsley dipped in the salt water is then eaten. The salt water can have two meanings, (1) first tears for the suffering during their enslavement, (2) secondly for the waters of the Red Sea that God took them through never to see the Egyptians again. The green sprig of Parsley represents spring. As Israel is in the spring of its nationhood, God takes them through the Red Sea.


Matzah Tash


Laying near the Seder plate is a bag that contains three pockets, called a Matzah Tash. The bag holds three pieces of Matzah. This bag is also called the "unity bag" because it is one bag holding three loaves of unleavened bread called Matzah. The three loaves of Matzah are interpreted by the Rabbis as representing the three groups in Jewish religious life: Priests, Levites, and Israelites. The father will take the Matzah Tash bag, open it, pass over the first loaf of bread, take the second loaf, and ignore the third loaf. Upon taking the middle loaf of Matzah bread he brakes it and wraps half of it in linen and hides it away. It will be brought out later as the Afikomen after the meal.


The second half is held up by the father who is leading the Passover, and he says:


"Lo! This is as the bread of affliction, which our ancestors ate in the land of Egypt; let all those who are hungry enter and eat thereof; and all who are in need come and celebrate the Passover. At present we celebrate it here, but next year we hope to celebrate it in the Land of Israel. This year many of our brethren are still slaves, but next year we all hope to be freemen of the land of Israel."


At this time the cup is filled a second time, and the youngest male of the family stands and asks four questions.


The Four Questions


The youngest child, usually the youngest son, asks the four traditional question at the Passover. They are as follows:


"Why is this night different from all other nights?"


  1. On all other nights we eat leavened or unleavened bread; on this night why do we eat only unleavened? The people left in a hurry, the bread didn”t have time to rise. (Exodus 12:39)
  2. On all other nights we eat all kinds of vegetables, but on this night why do we eat only bitter herbs?
  3. On all other nights we are not required to dip at our meal, but on this night why do we dip two times?
  4. On all other nights we eat either seated upright or Reclining; but on this night why do we all recline?


In ancient times reclining was a sign of a free man, at ease. This night all distinction between master and slave was done away with. All were to come to the table and eat.


These Four Questions set into motion the telling of the Exodus story with the help of the Haggadah. The Haggadah is a small book that comprises the exodus story with songs, prayers. The term Haggadah means "the telling". As part of the retelling of the Exodus story, they recount the ten plagues that were visited upon the Egyptians. As we mentioned before the cup was filled the second time, and at the mention of each plague (Blood, Frogs, Vermin, Flies, Pestilence, Boils, Hail, Locusts, Darkness, and Slaying of the First-Born), they remove a drop of wine from their cup with the small finger. The tradition for the use of the finger is a reminder of the verse in Exodus 8:15 when Pharaohís magicians, who were unable to duplicate the miracles by Moses, admitted that it was the "finger of God". A full cup would symbolize complete joy. By diminishing the amount of wine in the cup, they symbolically show that their joy is diminished when other people suffer. The cup is then set down again. Once the story is finished they sing the Dayenu Song, (Dayenu is Hebrew for, "It would have been sufficient for us.").


According to Exodus 12:8 only three elements were on the Passover table (Passover Lamb, the unleavened bread, and the bitter herbs). All the other item were added over the years. In the Talmud, Pesahim 10:5, Rabban Gamaliel (who was Paulís teacher) said:


"Whosoever has not said (explained) these three things at Passover has not fulfilled his obligation."


Shank Bone


The second item on the Seder Plate is the shank bone of a Lamb. This is in remembrance of the Lamb that was slain on Passover eve by the multitude of families that came to Jerusalem to celebrate the Passover. Up until the destruction of the Temple in 70 CE by command in scripture, the people were to celebrate this feast in Jerusalem with the sacrifice of the lamb, and the family would then roast the lamb. But after 70 CE with no temple and no priesthood, the Rabbis declared that Passover would be celebrated in their homes whether in Israel and in the Diaspora. The Shank bone of a lamb would be used as a remembrance of the Lamb that was sacrificed. Today Jewish people commonly use roasted chicken as a substitute for the roasted lamb. The Shank bone is a remembrance of the redemptive price of the blood of the lamb for the first-born when they were enslaved in Egypt, and for the Paschal lamb offered in the days of the Temple. The father would hold up the shank bone of the lamb and say:


"The Paschal lamb, which our ancestors ate during the existence of the holy temple, what did it denote? It denoted that the Most Holy, blessed be He! Passed over our fathersí house in Egypt; as it is said: And you shall say, it is the Lordís sacrifice of the Passover, because He passed over the houses of the children of Israel in Egypt, when He smote the Egyptians, and delivered our houses. And the people bowed their heads an worshipped."


In reference to Passover, Rabban Gamaliel also said, "In every generation a man must so regard himself as if he came forth himself out of Egypt. For it is written, ”And thou shalt tell thy son in that day saying, It is because of that which the Lord did for me when I came forth out of Egypt”" (Exodus 13:8).


Matzah


Next the father takes hold of the broken matzah on the table, holds it up and says:


"These unleavened cakes, why do we eat them? Because there was not sufficient time for the dough of our ancestors to leaven before the Supreme King of kings, Blessed be He! Appeared unto them, and redeemed them, As it is said: And they baked unleavened cakes of the dough, which they brought forth out of Egypt; for it was not leavened, because they were thrust out of Egypt, and could not tarry; neither had they made any provisions for themselves."


Bitter Herbs


Next the father takes the bitter herbs which is most often horseradish, holds it up and says:


"This bitter herb, why do we eat it? because the Egyptians embittered the lives of our ancestors in Egypt; as it is said: And they embittered their lives with cruel bondage, in mortar and brick, and in all manner of labor in the field; all their service, wherein they made them labor with rigor."


Second Cup ñ Cup of Judgment or Plagues


Then the second almost full cup is taken by all in the hand and the Father says:


"Blessed art thou, O Lord our God! Sovereign of the universe who has redeemed us, and our ancestors, from Egypt; and caused us to attain the enjoyment of this night, to eat thereon unleavened cakes and bitter herbs; O Lord our God! And the God of our ancestors, may you thus cause us to attain other solemn festivals and seasons which approach us: that we may rejoice in the rebuilding of your city, and exult in your service: and that we may there eat of the sacrifices and paschal lambs, whose blood shall be sprinkled on the sides of your altar, that they may be acceptable: then will we give thanks unto you with a new song for our deliverance and redemption. Blessed are you, O Lord! Who redeems Israel. Blessed are you, O Lord our God! King of the universe, who created the fruit of the vine."


After the blessing, the second cup of wine is taken while reclining to the left.


After this each person at the table takes a piece of the broken Matzah on the table with the bitter Herbs on it the size of an olive and they all partake together after the father pronounces the blessing:


"Blessed are you, O Lord our God! King of the universe who brings forth bread from the earth. Blessed are you, O Lord our God! King of the universe, who has sanctified us with your grace, and commanded us to eat unleavened cakes."


The purpose of the bitter herbs or horseradish is to make you shed tears so you can identify with the hardships and tears of the slaves under the cruel task masters. It is also to be a reminder of the tears that were shed for all the sons that were drowned in the Nile River at Pharaohís edict.


Charoseth


Charoseth is a mixture of chopped apple, nuts, cinnamon, honey, lemon juice and wine. The mixture is to be symbolic of the mortar the children of Israel were compelled to make for their Egyptian taskmaster during their period of enslavement in Egypt. It is left stand until it turns brown and resembles the appearance of mortar.


Next everyone at the table takes two pieces of broken matzah. On the one is placed again the bitter herbs as before. But on the second piece they will put the Charoseth, with is a sweet mixture and deludes the bitterness of the bitter herbs. Then they place the two piece together in what is called "Hillel sandwich".


Roasted Egg


This roasted egg has three possible meanings. First, the egg is symbolic of the regular festival sacrifice brought in the days when the Temple stood in Jerusalem. It represented the Paschal lamb that was offered as a second sacrifice on the day of Passover. Secondly, many interpret it as a symbol of new life, hope and triumph over death, meaning resurrection. Thirdly some authorities have interpreted the roasted egg as being a symbol of mourning for the loss of the two temples that once stood in Jerusalem. With the Temples destroyed, sacrifices could no longer be offered. The egg symbolized this loss and traditionally became the food of mourners.


At this point in the Passover Seder the roasted egg is sliced and given to each one at the table. They dip the egg in salt water, which represents tears, and eat it just before the meal to portray mourning over the destruction of the Temple.


Onion


The onion is said again to be symbolic of tears, but these tears represent the tears shed for all the Jews in the Diaspora. For Israel is not truly free until all of its people return to the Land.


Passover Supper


At this point the Passover meal is served and all enjoy and celebrate in this festive occasion.


Afikomen


Remember, back near the beginning of the Passover we discussed the Matzah Tash and the three loaves of unleavened bread in the three separate compartments of the unity bag. Remember, the middle loaf of matzah was removed and broken, and half of it was wrapped in a linen napkin and hidden away for later. At this point in the Passover the children begin to look for the Afikomen that was wrapped in linen. They search the room until one of them finds it. They are rewarded for the find and the leader takes the afikomen and brakes it and distributes it among all present and they partake together. The word Afikomen means "dessert" or "that which comes last". After this Grace was offered for the meal. Jewish tradition says that the Afikomen is symbolic of the lamb that was eaten last and that it is no longer on the Passover table.


Third Cup: The Cup of Redemption


"We will give thanks unto you, O Lord our God! For having caused our ancestors to inherit that desirable, good and ample land; and because you have brought us forth from the land of Egypt, and redeemed us from the house of bondage; and for your covenant which you have sealed in our flesh; for the law which you have taught us and for your statutes which you have made known unto us; and for the life, kindness and mercy, which you have graciously bestowed upon us, and for the food wherewith you do feed and sustain us continually, every day, every season, and every hour."


Which is then followed by this blessing:


"Baruch attah Ah-doh-noy Elo-he-nu Me-lech Ha-olam Boh-ray pree ha-gaw-fen."


Blessed art thou, O Eternal, our God, King of the Universe, Creator of the fruit of the vine.)


At this time the cup is taken and all drink together.


Elijahís Cup


If you remember there where place settings for everyone around the table, but at one of them no one sat for it is set in anticipation for Elijah, who is to come before the Messiah. So, at this setting the cup is filled and the son goes to the door to open it to see if Elijah is indeed coming. According to Jewish tradition it is believed that the Messiah would come during one of Israel”s two major holidays — the Day of Atonement, or Passover — and that Elijah would announce His coming. It is a way of saying that Elijah is welcome and the Messiah and his kingdom is anticipated.


Fourth Cup: The Cup of Praise


The ending of the Passover Seder is the filling and drinking of the fourth cup. Upon the drinking the fourth cup, the Cup of Praise, the Hillel Psalms are sung. These are Psalms 113-118. With that the Passover Seder meal is completed.


OBSERVATIONS


Seventy Seven References


The Passover is one of the three major feasts that God commanded Israel to come to Jerusalem and celebrate. This was one of the most important Feasts for Israel and for the Jewish people to celebrate. Of the seven Feasts of the LORD, Passover is the most important and foundational in Godís eyes. Passover is mentioned 50 times in the Hebrew Bible and 27 in the New Testament, a total of 77 times. The other 6 feasts individually are mentioned less than 10 time each. The other two feasts that were to be celebrated in Jerusalem were Pentecost (Shavuot) and Tabernacles (Succoth).


Why did Paul refer to Passover in I Corinthians 5:7? In I Corinthians 5:7 Paul says;


"Clean out the old leaven, that you may be a new lump, just as you are (in fact) unleavened. For Christ our Passover also has been sacrificed".


Here Paul speaks of purging out the old leaven, an act done in preparation for Passover. Then He refers to Christ as our Passover which was sacrificed for us. You would think that he is writing to Jewish believers, but not so. Corinth was predominately a Gentile church and yet Paul is identifying Yeshua with the Jewish Passover and expecting them to know the Jewish significance.


Leaven being a symbol of sin, Paul says that just as Jewish people purge the leaven from their homes for Passover, we as Gentile believers should be purging sin (leaven) from our lives on a continual basis. Paul through out his epistles instructs believers to put on Christ and live accordingly (Ephesians 4:22-32; Colossians 3:1-25). Here he equates it to the Passover. We are to do as Paul says daily. Are we?


Blood on the Door posts


When the Jewish father in Exodus 12 took the lamb and followed the instructions of Moses, he was obedient to God and he received physical redemption from Egypt. He was to take a year old male lamb and set it aside to observe it for four days to make sure there were no spots or blemishes on the lamb. On the eve of Passover he was to kill the lamb and put the blood of the lamb on the lentil and side posts of the doorway of his home with a hyssop branch. The lamb was then roasted and on that night the family would eat together in the security of their own home. That night they were delivered from Pharoah.


Now, what if a Jewish father took the lamb, observed it for four days, then killed the lamb, roasted the lamb and ate it with his family. On that night the first born in his family would have died when the death angel came through the land of Egypt. Why? Because the blood of the lamb had not been applied to the lentil and side posts of the doorway of his home as instructed by Moses. You see, God had a prescribed a way of deliverance for them to carry out. The father could have followed all the instructions except one and would have received Godís wrath instead of Godís mercy. Because God required the shedding of blood for the atonement of sin, it is also just as true for us today. Unless you apply the blood of the Lamb of God, the Messiah of Israel to the "lentil and door posts" of your heart, you will receive the wrath of God and not experience His love and mercy.


You can know all about God, even know the doctrines of the bible and live a moral life and attend church faithfully. But unless you applied the blood of Jesus to your heart, for your sins, you cannot be delivered from sin (Egypt) and experience the promised land (Heaven). God requires of you the same thing He has always required of man, a blood sacrifice for your sins. That was accomplished for you by Jesus on the tree when he died for the sin of the world, but you must apply it and put your faith and trust in the Lord Jesus, the Messiah (Christ) of Israel.


John the Baptistís Statement


John the Baptist was the forerunner of the Messiah that the Scriptures promised (Isaiah 40:3; Malachi 3:1; Matthew 3:2-3: Mark 1:2-3: John 1:19-28). John had two primary responsibilities:


First to "prepare the way of the Lord", to call the people to repentance in preparation for the Messiahís coming.


Secondly, he was to identify the Messiah by pointing him out to Israel.


These two things John did. On that day when he did identify Jesus he didnít use the title we think he should have used. We could think of some very appropriate biblical titles like:


Behold the Son of David, but no


Behold the Son of Man, or


Behold the Son of God, not that either


Behold the King of Israel (and that they were looking for because of the oppression of Rome; they were an occupied country).


But John didnít use any of these titles; instead he used a very unusually title for the Messiah, as given for us in John 1;29, (36):


"Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world"


Why was this statement important to the Jewish people, what did it convey?


From a Jewish mindset of the first century, the people would think, Jerusalem, Temple and Passover feast. Why? Because only in Jerusalem and in the Temple was sacrifice permitted. So John is connecting the Messiah of Israel with the place of sacrifice, Jerusalem. Roughly three years later on Passover, when the city was jammed with Jewish pilgrims from all over the world to celebrate Passover, the leadership of Israel would see to it that Jesus would be crucified by Roman hands. So, John the Baptist, the forerunner of Messiah, like Paul was identifying Yeshua with the Jewish Passover lamb.


One other point of reference, when the angel Gabriel announced to Joseph the birth of Yeshua in Matthew 1:21, notice what he said his name would be:


"And she shall bring forth a Son, and thou shalt call His name Jesus (Yeshua), for He shall save His people from their sins."


What was it that John the Baptist said,


"Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world."


Why was Joseph to call his name Yeshua? Because He would save His people from their sins. Do you see the connection? Both are saying the same thing, Yeshua will save and take away the sins of His people and the world. We in English call Him Jesus, but His Hebrew name is Yeshua. In the Hebrew Bible the word for salvation is Yeshuah, and in Isaiah 49:6 the English says:


"Öso that My salvation may reach to the end of the earth."


The words "My salvation" in the Hebrew is written like this, Yeshuati. Do you see the connection? The root word for Yeshua is Yeshuah, salvation! What did both the angel Gabriel and John the Baptist say? He would save His people and the world. He would be the literal vehicle for the provision of salvation, Yeshuah.


Kindling of the Candles


In the Jewish home every Sabbath and feast day when the candles need to be lit, it is the woman of the house that lights the candles. As the quote from the Talmud earlier said that because of womanís sin in the Garden of Eden, darkness or sin came into the world. It is the obligation of the woman to light the candles to bring back the light. By way of application woman was deceived and sinned in the garden and sin entered the world. But through woman light would come into the world. A young maiden, a virgin (Genesis 3:15; Isaiah 7:14) by the name of Miriam (Mary) gave birth to the light of the world, the Messiah of Israel. In John 8:12 one of the seven I AMís of Jesus is:


"I am the light of the world; he that followeth Me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life."


Yeshua here refers to Himself as the light of the world, as does the Prophet Isaiah in 42:6 and 49:6. The application is clear; woman, Miriam, did provide the world with the light, the veiled glory of God. She provided the Messiah of Israel, so in lighting the Passover it symbolizes more than just providing light for the Passover table, Miriam provided the Passover Lamb!


Palm Sunday or the Triumphal entry ñ 10th day of Nisan


In the Gospel accounts we see Jesus riding into Jerusalem on a donkey, and we call this the Triumphal entry which we celebrate in our churches on Palm Sunday. This is misnamed and the whole point is missed by most people. We often hear that Jesus is presenting Himself as the King of Israel to the Jewish nation. I do not believe so and let me give you several reasons why.


Upon reading the context of Matthew 21-23 and Luke 19, there is nothing there to indicate triumph, only judgment and destruction.


In Matthew 12, about a year and a half before this, Yeshua is officially rejected by the religious leadership of Israel. From that point on the offer of the Kingdom is withdrawn by Jesus, to be offered later to a future generation. If you read that chapter you find the phrase, "that wicked generation" and some other very strong rebukes by Jesus on the Pharisees.


So why then is Jesus riding the donkey and fulfilling Zechariah 9:9 with all the people saying in Matthew 21:9;


"Hosanna to the Son of David, blessed is He that cometh in the name of the Lord."


What does it mean? Isnít he coming as a king? Look at what the people are saying. The people are waving palm branch and lifting there voices to proclaim Him as King. Remember what the angel Gabriel and John the Baptist said.


This time he comes as Saviour, the next time He comes as King. Also the feasts of the Lord are the prophet ministry of the Messiah, and Passover comes before Tabernacles. Passover is sacrifice and deliverance and Tabernacles is Kingdom.


Remember Exodus 12? On what day was the lamb to be set aside? The 10th day of the first month of your year (Nisan). How long was the lamb to be observed? Four days, till the 14th of Nisan. Then the lamb was slain for the sacrifice.


It just so happens that Yeshua rode on the donkey down off of the Mt. of Olives on the 10th day of the first month or their year. He was observed and tested for four days by the Pharisees, Sadducees, Scribes and the Herodians till the 14th day of Nisan and they could find no fault in Him. He then became the Passover Lamb, the substitutionary sacrifice for sin just as Gabriel and John the Baptist said. Yeshua came riding down off of the Mt. of Olive presenting Himself as the Passover lamb, and not presenting himself as King.


Table of Remembrance


The Jewish Passover Seder is a celebration of remembrance of their physical deliverance from slavery in Egypt. For up to four centuries they suffered under the taskmasters, who ruled cruelly over them to build Pharaohís great cities. But on Passover God instructed them to celebrate this feast and the other ones yearly throughout their generations. So, as long as there is a Jew living on this earth they are to be celebrating this feast as a remembrance of God deliverance from slavery.


It is not a coincidence that the Lordís table, or the communion table as we call it in our congregations, is also a table of remembrance. As we will see in the Messianic significance below the Lordís table comes directly out of the Passover Table from 20 centuries ago. Look what is printed in the front of the communion table at your church. You will find the words "in remembrance of me". This is just as the Jewish people where to celebrate throughout their generations in remembrance of their deliverance. So, we too are to celebrate the Lordís table in remembrance of the deliverance from the power and penalty of sin, a deliverance which Yeshua provided on the Cross for our sins as our substitute sacrifice for our sin.


MESSIANIC SIGNIFICANCE


Under Messianic Significance we will see that there are several areas of the Passover which includes pictures of Messiah: unleavened bread, Lamb, Cup and the roasted egg. We will look each and see just how they do picture the Messiah.


Unleavened bread


Unleavened bread has been used in the Passover since itís origin over 3400 years ago. First of all, remember that one of the 7 I AMís of John is located in John 6:35; 48-51; (Exodus 16:4, 15, 21; Numbers 11:8-9). Where Yeshua said He was the bread of life that came down from heaven, He indeed would provide eternal life, but not as they thought.


On every Passover table around the world unleavened bread or matzah is used. Now what Iím going to share with you is rabbinic in origin and not biblical, but as I go through this you will be amazed by the beautiful picture of the suffering Messiah. The rabbiís have declared that matzah must have three characteristics:


1. It must be unleavened bread. In the Hebrew bible and rabbinic writings, leaven is spoken of as evil desire, corruption, and called it the leaven in the dough. This means that a little leaven in the dough will infiltrate all the dough. In the New Covenant we find that leaven is symbolic of sin, falsehood, hypocrisy, moral and political corruption (Matthew 16:6, 11-12; Mark 8:15; Luke 12:1), and unleavened is a symbol of the complete absence of sin. Look how Paul used it in I Corinthians 5:6-8 and Galatians 5:9. If you remember on the Passover night, with Jesus and His disciples, it says that He took (unleavened) bread and broke it and said this is my body which is given for you. So He pictures his body as unleavened bread, a sinless body, a life without sin. So, when we partake of the unleavened bread in our communion we are remembering the perfect, sinless substitutionary sacrifice for our sins. Unbeknown to the Jewish people, they are partaking of the unleavened bread that pictures the body of Yeshua that he gave for us in sacrifice.


2. The second characteristic is that the bread must be striped. Remember this is what the Rabbis say. We turn to Isaiah 53:5 and there it says " and with his stripes we are healed."


May I remind you of just what a Roman scourging was. We think in our western mind of a bull whip, but the Roman whip was a multi-ended whip with pieces of bone or metal on the ends of the whip. So as the person was beaten the multi-ends of the whip would literally cut and rip open pieces of flesh and lay the back completely open as well as the chest area as the ends of the whip would wrap around the front of a person. When they were done with Jesus, he was a bloody mess, not like the pictures we see with a few bruise marks and a trickle of blood running down His forehead. That was not the case. Yeshua was scourged for us and this unleavened bread must be striped, as He was striped or scourged for us as he took our place as our substitute for sin.


3. The third characteristic for unleavened bread by the Rabbiís is that it must be pierced. If you hold it up to the light you will be able to see through the matzah bread because it is pierced. In Psalm 22:16 and Zephariah 12:10 it says:


"ÖThey pierced my hands and my feet."


"Öand they shall look upon me whom they have pierced,Ö"


Yeshua was nailed to the tree through His hands and feet and the spear thrust into His side and there he died for our sins.


So in summary we see that the three characteristics of the unleavened bread designated by the Rabbis are a beautiful picture of just what Yeshua went through in His sinless body as He suffered and died on the tree for our sins. In the communion service at your local church, if you do not use unleavened bread, you have lost the significance of this picture that Yeshua Himself gave us.


Matzah Tash


The Matzah Tash (otherwise know as a unity bag) is used on the Passover table in every Jewish home. This unity bag is a single bag with three pockets. Each pocket in the Matzah Tash has a loaf of unleavened bread placed in it. The leader of the Passover in the home will take the unity bag, open it up, pass by the first loaf of unleavened bread, take out the second loaf, and ignore the third. God is a tri-unity made up of three persons, God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Isnít it interesting that the father will take out the middle loaf and brake it. Take half of it and wrap it in a linen cloth and hid it away as the Afikomen until after the Passover meal. God the Son is the second member of the unity of God, and He became flesh, was taken and put on the tree and died for the sins of the world. Then his body was taken down from the tree wrapped in linen and hidden away in the grave, and then resurrected from the grave.


Now the interesting thing is that the Jewish people believe in one God and do not in any way believe in the tri-unity of the God-head. In fact the belief in one God is so strong in Judaism, that Yeshua is not accepted as the Messiah because He claimed to be God. Rabbiís and Jewish people will point to Dueteronomy 6:4, called the Shema, which says:


"Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God is one LORD."


But this verse does not prove that God is one, but instead it opens the door for the plurality of the Godhead. The word God is the Hebrew word Elohim, which is the plural form for God, more then one. Also the Hebrew word for "one" in this verse is not an absolute one as they desire. Yet interestingly enough Moses had available to him both these words in the singular form and he did not use them. This Hebrew word for "one" is the word Echad, which is used as a unity of one. Let me give you two examples. In Genesis 1:5 it says:


"And the evening and the morning were the first day."


You have two things, evening and morning being echad, "one" day. But two things, a unity make one day. Also in Genesis 2:24 you have the same thing:


"Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh."


Here you have man and woman coming together in a physical union, and the two of them become "one" echad flesh. So in both these examples, and there are many more, echad is used as a one of unity, not an absolute one.


Yet in this Passover, with the use of the Matzah Tash, or unity bag, they are unknowingly celebrating the tri-unity of the God-head. The second person of the God-head, whose responsibility is to reveal the Father, is made visible. His sinless body (the unleavened bread) is taken, broken, with half becoming the Afikomen. The Afikomen is wrapped in linen and hidden away, just as Yeshuaís body was wrapped in linen grave cloth and put in the grave ñ then to reappear as a result of the resurrection. His is the unleavened bread that was scourged and pierced for our sins, the three characteristics that unleavened bread must have according to the Rabbiís.


So, in each and every Jewish home on Passover they are literally celebrating the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus, without knowing it.


Now remember the Afikomen that was brought out after the Passover meal. They refer to the Afikomen as a dessert. But this is not what the word means. This word is not used in the Greek Septuagint (Old Testament) or in the Greek New Testament. This is what the word means: "To let go" or "Release." The concept is to "release from a legal obligation." Donít miss the word picture in this definition. Yeshua rose from the grave. He made it possible for the first time to be released from the legal obligation that sin imposesÖdeath. But now we can have life eternal through Him. Well just after the meal on that night when Yeshua celebrated the Passover with His disciples, Yeshua took the unleavened bread (afikomen) and broke and gave to the 11 disciples and Jesus said in Matthew 26:26 and Luke 22:19:


"And as they were eating, Jesus took bread, and blessed it, and brake it, and gave it to the disciples, and said, Take, eat; this is my body.


"And he took bread, and gave thanks, and brake it, and gave unto them, saying, This is my body which is given for you: this do in remembrance of me."


This is what the Apostle Paul refers to in I Corinthians 11:23-24 when he says:


"For I have received of the Lord that which also I delivered unto you, that the Lord Jesus the same night in which he was betrayed took bread: And when he had given thanks, he brake it, and Said, take, eat: this is my body, which is broken for you: this do in remembrance of me."


So when you partake of communion you are participating in something that was lifted by our Lord out of the Jewish Passover as part of what we call today the Lordís table. The picture is clear and cannot be missed. Yeshua is our unleavened bread, who was scourged and pierced and took our place as the Lamb of God to be our substitute, and He received Godís judgment, and He paid the penalty for sin so that we could be saved from our sins.


Shank Bone


The shank bone of the lamb is placed on the Seder plate as a remembrance. For in the days when the temple stood, lambs were sacrificed on Passover and roasted for the Passover seder meal. But since the temple was destroyed in 70 CE no lambs have been sacrificed, and no Jewish families today have roasted lamb for Passover. Instead as a remembrance on the seder plate they have the shank bone of the lamb to remind them of the lamb that was once slain. It is a remembrance of the blood of that first lamb on the first Passover night that was slain and its blood put on the door posts of their homes. It is a remembrance of the blood sacrifice that gained their physical redemption from Egypt.


Now Yeshua is that Passover lamb that was sacrificed on Passover for the sins of world. For he was the price of redemption as Peter states in I Peter 1:18-19. As a result, He gives us spiritual redemption from the power and penalty of sin when we put our faith and trust in Him alone.


Roasted Egg


Remember earlier when we spoke of the roasted egg that there were three possible meanings? Well, two of them are very applicable to the Messiah. The first one is symbolic of the regular festival sacrifice brought on Passover day. At approximately the ninth hour (Matthew 27:45-53; Mark 15:33-38; Luke 23:44-46; John 19:30), when Yeshua died, was the same time that the Paschal lamb was offered on Passover day. He did become our Passover. The second application is that the egg symbolizes new life, hope and triumph over death. Yeshua spent three days in the grave and then rose again from the grave.


Third cup


Ancient Jewish commentaries say that this cup represents the blood of the Passover lamb. Yeshua picks up this cup, the third cup, that symbolized the blood of that first Passover lamb slain in Egypt and is called the cup of redemption, and He says the following from Matthew 26:27-28:


"And he took the cup, and gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying, Drink ye all of it; For this is my blood of the New Covenant, which is shed for many for the remission of sins."


He says that this cup is the New Covenant in His blood. First understand that when you have communion in your church, that is was the third cup of the Passover Seder that Yeshua used to speak of His blood. When we take communion we are remembering what He did on the Cross for our sins, plus the fuller meaning that stands behind what Jesus did at that last Passover supper. Also he speaks of the New Covenant which is NOT a gentile covenant but a Jewish covenant from Jeremiah 31. Thus, we as gentiles are partakers with Jewish believers in a covenant that is Jewish- theirs. By the grace of God we have been grafted in according to Romans 11:17-24.


Fourth cup


The Fourth cup is called the Cup of Praise, for it represents the hop of the Kingdom and of Israelís that will be restored when Messiah comes. The Messianic connection with this cup is that they will sing hymns (Psalms). What they sing are the Hillel Psalms, chapter 113-118. Psalm 118 is a Messianic psalm. Let us quote for you a couple of verses from that Psalm: Verse 24:


"This is the day that the LORD hath made; we will Rejoice and be glad in it."


Yeshua on the last Passover would have sung this with his disciples. Within a few short hours that "day that the LORD had made" would provide for us the sacrifice for our sins in the person of the Son of God Himself dying for us as our substitute. He would rejoice and be glad in it, for the Lamb of God that was slain before the foundations of the earth would on this day redeem us from our sins. The provision for our Salvation is now complete. You and I 2000 years later have that salvation that He provided for us on that day. Verse 26:


"Blessed be he that cometh in the name of the LORD: we have blessed you out of the house of the LORD."


That statement, "Blessed be he that cometh in the name of the LORD," is a Messianic greeting or salutation. It is the greeting that Israel will have to give to Him before He will return and set up His kingdom. Look at Jesus words in Matthew 23:39:


"For I say unto you, Ye shall not see me henceforth, till ye shall say, Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord."


The Jewish nation will have to say this to Him before he will return and save them from destruction, restore them, and then set up the promised Messianic Kingdom. One last verse of Psalm 118: Verse 22:


"The stone which the builders refused is become the Head stone of the corner."


The Jewish leaders rejected Yeshua as the Messiah of Israel, but in the end He will be the chief corner stone. Because He was the one whom all the prophets spoke of in the Hebrew Bible. Yet He was the stone they thought to be of no value and had thrown away, He will be the chief corner stone.