The Feast of Passover is a holiday known by most of the world today. Many acknowledge that this is a Jewish Holiday, but have limited knowledge as to what it is about. This is the first of the seven feasts established by God’s command, and it holds a large amount of meaning and significance in understanding God’s plan of salvation. It was a feast of remembrance for what God had done, and would also foreshadow what God was going to do through Jesus Christ. Down to the very detail, God had planned these events from the foundation of the world, and this can be seen in the details of the Passover and the other holy feasts.
To begin, let’s look at the history of Passover- what is it? As many will know, the Israelites were held captive in Egypt for many years because of a horrible drought that came upon Israel. They had become slaves, unable to care for themselves. God had sent Moses to lead them out of captivity. This did not happen easily, as Moses pled with the Pharaoh repeatedly to let the Israelites go. The Pharaoh believing he was a God himself, wouldn’t allow it. God then sent 9 successive plagues upon the Egyptian people through Moses to reveal that Moses was speaking on behalf of God, yet the Pharaoh remained hard-hearted. These nine plagues in order were- He turned the water to blood, sent swarms of frogs, sent gnats and lice, they were invaded by wild animals, livestock was struck down with disease, they received painful boils on their bodies, hail and severe weather destroyed their crops, and locusts swarmed Egypt eating any of the remaining crops and food left. Preparations then were made among the Israelites for the 10th and most horrific plague to come- the death of every firstborn child and beast in Egypt. God gave the Israelites specific instructions through Moses.
The Instructions (Exodus 12)
- On the 10th day of the first month- each Israelite family/household (or if the household was too small, it was to share the lamb with the next door neighbor) was to take a lamb that would live with the family for the four days up until Passover. Because of this, the lamb would become a part of the family- cherished. This lamb was to be “without blemish”, as perfect as a lamb could be.
- They were to remove all leaven (yeast) from their homes and only eat unleavened bread
- On the 14th day of the first month- they would sacrifice the lamb by killing it in the evening (as day 14 came to a close). This would not be easy, as the lamb had become cherished by the family.
- They were instructed to take the blood and paint it onto the two side posts and the upper door post of the home
- That night they were to eat the flesh of the lamb- roast it with fire and eat it with unleavened bread and bitter herbs. Not a single bone of this lamb was to be broken. They were instructed not to eat it with water, but roast the whole thing including head and legs in the fire, and they were instructed to eat the entire lamb until it was gone.
- If anything remained until morning- they were to burn it with fire
- While they ate they were instructed to be ready to move- (loins girded) with their shoes on their feet and a staff in their hand- eat in haste or quickly.
Those homes whose doorposts were painted with the blood of the Passover lamb, would be safe from the angel of death, as this angel passed through Egypt to kill the firstborn of every family and beast, and so the Israelites were saved or from this plague or “passed over” by the angel of death. This would open the way for the Israelites to flee Egypt. This is the historic origin of the Passover. In Leviticus 23, the command of this feast is again reiterated:
“These are the feasts of the Lord, even holy convocations, which ye shall proclaim in their seasons. In the fourteenth day of the first month at even is the Lord’s Passover.” ~ Leviticus 23:4-5
Not only was this feast celebrated every year by Israel to commemorate their history, but this was also a foreshadowing of the future events of the Messiah. Let’s compare the events above, to the life of the Messiah:
- Jesus came and lived among the Israelites, he lived with his disciples and he was perfect, without blemish or sin. Jesus would go on to be offered up as a sacrifice for our sin. The last days of his ministry he spent in Jerusalem among the Israelites teaching them the truth.
- Down to the very day of Passover, the 14th day of the 1st month, Jesus was crucified on the actual day of Passover as the day came to a close.
- In the night prior to the day of the Passover day at evening, Jesus celebrated the feast of Passover with his disciples, also known as “The Last Supper.” We know this because the biblical record reveals Jesus was crucified on Passover Day (Preparation Day). There he broke unleavened bread and said:
“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 the cup, and gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying, Drink ye all of it; For this is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins. But 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 26:26-29
Jesus instituted the new “Feast of Passover” no longer involving the sacrifice of a lamb, but partaking of His own body and blood through unleavened bread and wine. Just as Moses and the ancient Israelites ate of the passover lamb, we today eat of our passover lamb- Jesus Christ by eating the unleavened bread and wine in remembrance of His sacrifice. This is a bitter sweet occasion, because we cherish our sacrificed Messiah closely, just as the ancient Israelites cherished their sacrificed passover lamb as a part of their family. The Disciples also shared the Passover meal as a “family in Christ”, just as the Israelite families were to come together to share the Passover meal.
Jesus was not permitted to drink water while being crucified, he was only given bitter vinegar when he was thirsty
Leaven is mentioned 22 times in the OT and 17 times in the NT, and in most cases represents sin or evil. Jesus was free from sin, representing the unleavened bread.
Not a single bone of Jesus was broken in his crucifixion, even as they checked to see if he was dead, they pierced his side rather than breaking his legs which was customary.
Worthily eating and drinking the unleavened bread and wine of Jesus’ flesh and blood out of faith and a repentant heart also offers us protection from the second death (just as the partaking of the passover lamb protected the Israelites from the death plague of the firstborn, visited upon the Egyptians).
Paul then tells us literally, that Jesus was our Passover Lamb, and that we should keep the feast:
“Purge out therefore the old leaven, that ye may be a new lump, as ye are unleavened. For even Christ our passover is sacrificed for us: Therefore let us keep the feast, not with old leaven, neither with the leaven of malice and wickedness; but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.” ~ 1 Corinthians 5:7-8
“The next day John seeth Jesus coming unto him, and saith, Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world.” ~ John 1:29
Remember, Paul is speaking to the congregation in Corinth and this was not a Jewish congregation, rather these were Gentiles. This indicates that this Feast was observed even by the Gentile Christians of the time. This is the first of God’s holy feasts to be observed forever throughout our generations. This includes Gentile Christians who have been “grafted into” the tree of Israel according to Romans 11. Today in Christianity, the first three feasts- the Feast of Passover, the Feast of Unleavened Bread and the Feast of Firstfruits have been replaced by Good Friday and Easter (both with roots in Babylonian Idolatry). We will cover the Feast of Unleavened Bread, and the Feast of Firstfruits in future articles- and you will see how Christ has fulfilled the foreshadowing found in these feasts. The latter of the Seven Feasts will be fulfilled in the future and are “shadows of things to come” (Colossians 2:16-17), and we will cover these also in future posts. We encourage all Christians to return to the ancient paths in obedience to God’s commands. The first Gentile Christians celebrated the feasts of God- and make no mistake, they did not celebrate the pagan Good Friday, Easter, or Christmas- all with worldly roots. We encourage you to “know Jesus” by obeying him- observe the Feast of the Passover.
“And hereby we do know that we know him, if we keep his commandments. He that saith, I know him, and keepeth not his commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him.” ~ 1 John 2:3-4
“Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.” ~ Matthew 7:21-23