Passover Blessings in the Lamb!
Passover is a joyous, profoundly meaningful feast of the Lord, a moed (mow-ED) or appointed time, given through Moses as recorded in Leviticus 23:5: “On the fourteenth day of the first month at twilight is the Lord’s Passover.” Passover has many names. It is Chag HaMatzot (Feast of Unleavened Bread), Chag HaPesach (Feast of the Pascal Offering), Chag HaAviv (Feast of Spring), Zeman Cheruteinu (Season of our Deliverance), and Pesach (Passover, or literally, lamb).
Passover is immediately followed by the Feast of Unleavened Bread, making Passover a seven-day festival. The Messiah Yeshua fulfilled the Passover when He died as the Eternal Lamb of God. His sinless life was the fulfillment of Unleavened Bread. His resurrection from the dead fulfilled the Feast of Firstfruits.
It is important to note that when Messiah was first introduced publicly by John the Immerser, the prophet proclaimed, “Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!” (John 1:29). Not: Behold! the Messiah, or Behold! the Prophet like Moses, or Behold! the Redeemer, but Behold! the Lamb. First and foremost, Yeshua’s title as the Eternal Sacrifice for sin was the focus of John’s proclamation. He was saying, in effect, “Here is your Passover!”
The Passover Instituted
In order to fully understand the Passover, we need to take a journey through Exodus chapter 12 where God instituted this feast. Space limits us to a brief journey. An entire book could be written on this one chapter, which is preceded by Moses and Aaron performing wonders before Pharaoh, whose heart was still hardened, forbidding the children of Israel to leave Egypt.
Exodus 12:1—”Now the LORD spoke to Moses and Aaron in the land of Egypt, saying…” The Lord spoke to two men. A truth was established (Deuteronomy 19:15, Matthew 18:16, 2 Corinthians 13:1) as Moses and Aaron gave instructions to the children of Israel.
Exodus 12:2—”This month shall be your beginning of months; it shall be the first month of the year to you.” Our God is the Lord of time, Lord of the calendar. This month, Aviv, also known as Nisan, would be a new beginning for God’s people. He changed their calendar so that they would reckon time itself from when they were delivered from Egyptian bondage. How do we as believers calculate time? Neil and I always celebrated our “born-again birthdays” (July 25 and September 2) as the days that our new life began, the days when we were delivered from the bondage of sin. Note that the “New Year” biblically is in the spring (not the fall). The “beginning of months” (rosh khodashim, rowsh kho-dah-SHEEM) is at the Passover. The secular new year is in the fall (Rosh Hashanah). God’s calendar begins with Him!
Exodus 12:3—”…On the 10th of this month every man shall take for himself a lamb, according to the house of his father, a lamb for a household.” God gave a mandate to all the congregation of Israel, Kahl Ahdaht Yisrael. They were still slaves. Was He calling out their destiny? This lamb (“a” lamb, seh in Hebrew) would be the difference between life and death. We see a biblical principle in this verse concerning the seh la-BAI-yeet, the lamb for a household. Family salvation. For many years Neil and I prayed every night for my alcoholic father: “Thank You, Abba, that Yeshua is the Lamb for Pop Pop, the Lamb for our household.” Following an angelic visitation, my dad received the Lord and was taken to heaven shortly thereafter. Family salvation seems to be reinforced in Genesis 6:18 (Noah believed, and his whole family came into the ark) and Acts 16:31 (the Roman jailer and his family).
Note that the Lamb was chosen on the 10th of Nisan. This is the date that many believe Yeshua rode into Jerusalem on a donkey. He entered as God’s Lamb to the cries of “Baruch haba b’shem Adonai,” blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord (Matthew 21:9), although the crowds probably saw Yeshua as the One coming to save them from the Romans—a King rather than a Lamb.
Exodus 12:4—”And if the household is too small for the lamb, let him and his neighbor next to his house take it according to the number of their persons; according to each man’s need you shall make your count for the lamb.” “The” Lamb, more specific than “a” lamb of verse 12:3. The Lamb will be an ample, all-inclusive sacrifice. The concept of community enters here (very Jewish!). The lamb is at the center of a larger group, one mishpochah (family) gathered around one sacrifice (See 1 Cor. 10:16-17).
Exodus 12:5—”Your Lamb shall be without blemish, a male of the first year. You may take it from the sheep or from the goats.” “Your” Lamb indicates that redemption must be a personal experience. Yeshua must become the Lamb who takes away my sins, not just the sin of the world. The lamb had to be without blemish, a perfect sacrifice. The prophet Isaiah spoke of the Perfect Lamb that one day would come in Isaiah 53:7, 9. He spoke about the “Arm of the Lord” that would be revealed, the Z’roa Adonai. This word Z’roa is on the Passover Seder plate, where the shank bone of a lamb is placed. When Pilate examined Yeshua, God’s Perfect Lamb, he commented, “I find no fault in this Man” (Luke 23:4, Luke 23:14, John 18:38, John 19:4, John 19:6). Yeshua’s perfection is emphasized five times in the Brit Hadasha with a final affirmation in 1 Peter 1:18-19, “Knowing that you were not redeemed with corruptible things, like silver or gold, from your aimless conduct received by tradition from your fathers, but with the precious blood of Messiah, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot.”
A male of the first year? Our calendar begins with Yeshua. This year is 2020 A.D. A.D. stands for Anno Domini, which is Latin for “year of our Lord,” and means the number of years since the birth of Yeshua HaMashiach. B.C. stands for “before Christ.” Many Jewish people use BCE/CE instead, in order to avoid naming Yeshua as Lord (CE, Common Era, refers to the same years as A.D./B.C.).
Exodus 12:6—”Now you shall keep it until the fourteenth day of the same month. Then the whole assembly of the congregation of Israel shall kill it at twilight.” A beautiful, innocent lamb was kept with the family for four days, and then killed. Any defect or blemish would show up at this time. There is a message in the death of the innocent lamb. Sin is serious to God. The wages of sin is death. There must be a sacrifice for sin. Redemption is costly. Note the corporate aspect of the lamb’s death. As for Yeshua, we all killed Him. Our sin put the Messiah on the cross. In response to Pilate saying, “I am innocent of the blood of this just Person” (Matthew 27:24), the multitude answered, “His blood be on us and on our children” (Matthew 27:25). Who killed the Lamb of God? Herod, Pontius Pilate, the Gentiles, and the people of Israel carried out the will of God. It was God’s plan, necessitated by our collective sin (Acts 4:27-28).
Exodus 12:7—”And they shall take some of the blood and put it on the two doorposts and on the lintel of the houses where they eat it.” Blood, dahm in Hebrew, must be applied. “Doorpost” in Hebrew is meh-ZOO-zah, the same word as the little rectangular box containing Scripture that we place on our doors. When applied to the door, the blood would form the Hebrew letter ח (chet) for chai, life. Applying the blood was a question of obedience. Neil used to point out that some Israelis were probably reluctant since they had just whitewashed their house. But the blood meant salvation and deliverance! It still does. About 25 years ago, my son Jonathan and I made three pieces of “blood” from red poster board. Every year since, the “blood” has been on my front door. The poster board is a little worn, but the blood is more precious to me than ever.
We apply Yeshua’s blood by faith (our hyssop) to the lintel and doorposts of our hearts. His blood has redeeming power, cleansing power, preserving power, and protecting power. Believers overcome by the blood of the Lamb. “And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb and the word of their testimony, and they did not love their lives to the death” (Revelation 12:11). Our testimony is our personal story of our own exodus from spiritual Egypt. Who do we overcome by the blood of the Lamb? The devil, hasatan, in Hebrew. We can “plead the blood” of Yeshua, not as begging, but as a legal term. Our defense. A way of defeating the enemy. Celebrating Passover, with its emphasis on the Lamb and our testimony, is a great way to defeat the devil.
Exodus 12:8—”Then they shall eat the flesh on that night; roasted in fire, with unleavened bread and with bitter herbs they shall eat it.” This verse gives us the three mandatory elements of Passover: the lamb, unleavened bread, and bitter herbs. Where is the lamb today in traditional Judaism? It is symbolically seen as a shank bone on the Seder plate. I still have about 30 shank bones in my collection, in case they are needed at a Seder, since chicken bones are used if someone doesn’t have a lamb bone. Traditional Jewish people do not eat lamb at Passover because there has not been a Temple to sacrifice the lambs since 70 A.D.
For Messianic believers, Passover is all about the Lamb. In fact, Passover without the Lamb is like a wedding without the Bridegroom. Yeshua is called the Lamb of God over 30 times in the New Covenant. The Bible ends with a great event called the “Marriage Supper of the Lamb” (Revelation 19:9). We have the Lamb on the inside through the abiding presence of His Spirit.
Unleavened bread is the second mandatory element of the Passover. So much could be said about leaven, chametz in Hebrew, and unleavened bread in general. Unleavened bread, also known as matzah, was originally round (Exodus 12:39). The Hebrew word is uggot matzah. This matzah is unleavened because the Israelites did not have time to add yeast to their bread when they left Egypt in haste.
Leaven in the Holy Scriptures is a type of sin. The purging of leaven is a picture of the sanctification of the child of God. Yeshua became leaven (sin) for us, so that we could be unleavened (2 Corinthians 5:21). Rabbi Saul encourages believers concerning celebrating a leaven-free Passover: “Therefore let us keep the feast, not with the old leaven, nor with leaven of malice and wickedness, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth” (1 Corinthians 5:8).
Three pieces of matzah are placed in a tash (pocket) on the Passover table. While there are a few traditional Jewish explanations for these three, e.g., Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and Kohens (Priests), Levites, and Israelites, as Messianic Jews, we see the three matzot as a unity. Some see Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Others explain the three as God, Yeshua the Mediator, and mankind. The middle matzah, the afikoman, is a Greek word which means either “that which comes after,” “the coming one,” or “I came!” During the Passover Seder, the middle matzah is broken. Yeshua gave new meaning to this when He said, “Take, eat; this is My body, which is broken for you…” (1 Corinthians 11:24).
The afikoman is a wonderful type and shadow of Yeshua. As the Bread that came down from heaven, He was the Bread of Affliction (Isaiah 53:4-5), Bruised (Isaiah 53:5), Striped (Isaiah 53:5), Pierced (Psalm 22:16-18; Zechariah 12:10), and Unleavened (2 Corinthians 5:2). The broken matzah symbolizes His death. The larger piece of the afikoman that is wrapped in a white cloth and hidden (buried) symbolizes His burial. The finding of the afikoman, “brought forth from the grave,” symbolizes Yeshua’s resurrection. This occurred on Yom HaBikkurim, the Day of Firstfruits, during the Passover holiday. That explains 1 Corinthians 15:20, “But now Messiah is risen from the dead, and has become the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep.”
Bitter herbs are the final element mandated at Passover. They remind us of the bitterness of bondage—to the Egyptians, and to sin. It is good to remember where we have come from! The bitter herbs (maror in Hebrew) also remind us as believers of the bitterness of betrayal. When Judas was seated next to the Messiah at the Last Passover, the Lord dipped matzah into bitter herbs and gave it to Judas. Then satan entered him (John 13:25-26).
Exodus 12:9—Consume the entire lamb; take all that Yeshua has for you.
Exodus 12:10—Yeshua’s body was taken down before 6 PM (before the next day).
Exodus 12:11—”It is the LORD’s Passover.” The word for Passover, Pesach, comes from a root meaning to skip, pass over, or leap (like a young lamb). Yeshua leaps over all obstacles. The word for resurrection in European languages is always related to Pesach, e.g., Pascua, since the Messiah rose from the dead during the Passover.
Exodus 12:12—All the plagues focused on Egyptian gods. The firstborn was also considered a “god.” God, the only true God, was executing judgment.
Exodus 12:13—The blood is a sign (ot, pronounced “oat” in Hebrew). God says, “And when I see the blood, I will pass over you; and the plague shall not be on you to destroy you…” In Yeshua, we have already passed from death to life. YESHUA’S BLOOD PROTECTS US FROM THE PLAGUE.
Exodus 12:14—Passover is a memorial (zikaron) to be kept throughout the generations. Since Yeshua’s last “supper” was a Passover Seder, when He said, “Do this in remembrance of Me,” the “this” was Passover. The early Church participated in “Communion” once per year—at Passover.
Exodus 12:15—The prohibition against eating leaven is serious, with the penalty of excommunication. Traditional rabbis treat leaven (yeast) during Pesach as a doctor treats a contagious disease. Do we do the same with sin?
Exodus 12:16—A holy convocation (mikrah kodesh) on the first and seventh day (April 9 and April 15, 2020). Both fall during the Feast of Unleavened Bread.
Exodus 12:17-20—More prohibitions about leaven. No leaven for seven days. Big emphasis (8x in Exodus 12). This is the origin of examining oneself before Communion—allowing the Holy Spirit to search out spiritual leaven. (Note: Yeshua was getting the leaven out of His Father’s House before the Passover—Matthew 21, Mark 11, Luke 19, and John 2)
Exodus 12:21—Moses called the elders of Israel and told them to pick out and take lambs for their families and “kill the Passover lamb.” Some Bibles leave out the word “lamb.” This is significant since to “kill hapasach,” to kill the Passover, means that Passover is the Lamb. You can’t kill a holiday.
Exodus 12:22—The blood is applied with hyssop. The blood must always be applied.
Exodus 12:23—”For the LORD will pass through to strike the Egyptians; and when He sees the blood on the lintel and the two doorposts, the LORD will pass over the door and not allow the destroyer to come into your houses to strike you.” God passes through. God sees the BLOOD. God passes over. The destroyer is defeated. The Lamb defeats the serpent. God’s people are delivered.
I believe that this is the hour to apply the BLOOD of the LAMB of GOD to our lives and the lives of our friends and family. In prayer last month, I believe the Lord showed me that the most serious “pandemic” is SIN, and there is only one way to overcome it: the BLOOD of the Lamb of God. Our Messiah took the crown (corona in Spanish) for us. It was a crown of thorns. He took the corona so that we don’t have to.
We have total victory through HIS BLOOD. This is the hour to apply it!