The Festival of Passover will begin on the evening of Monday, April 10 and will conclude at evening on Tuesday, April 18. Within these Holy days, God ordained the Feast of Pesach, the Feast of Unleavened Bread, and the Feast of Fruitfruits -- all in commemoration of what He did in delivering the Israelites out of bondage in Egypt AND as a foreshadowing of the work He would do through His Son, Jesus Christ, in delivering us out of a life of bondage to sin. Within these eight days of Passover, Jesus was crucified, buried, and resurrected, and each Feast speaks of Him and His redemptive work on our behalf.
And yes, God ordained these Feast Days, and they are His Holy Days, not just Jewish holidays, as the Church has mistakenly believed. In Leviticus 23, God proclaimed them as My Feasts and that they would be a perpetual statute among all your generations in all your dwelling places. And because we are the spiritual descendants of Abraham, these Feasts not only have meaning to us, but I believe that we are to celebrate them, too. After all, Abraham is the "father" of our faith, and as Galatians 3:29 says, If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.
But I want us to understand that God consecrated these specific holidays; set them apart as times to remember what He has done, what He continues to do, and what He will complete at the end of this Age. Therefore, it is important that we know what each Feast Day means and what it tells us about the God we serve.
It is the foundation of all three Feasts, and commemorates the Lord's direction to the Israelites to sacrifice an unblemished and spotless lamb, applying it's blood to the side doorposts and top lentil of each home. [It is important to note, that this application made the motion of the Cross]. The Lord promised to pass over homes where the blood of the lamb had been applied. The lambs were the substitutes for the people, sparing them [and saving them] from death and judgment by the Lord. Each house marked by the blood of the lamb would be a haven of salvation, a place safe from the judgment that was about to come upon Egypt. Those Egyptian homes, where there was no application of the blood, would suffer the judgment of the Angel of Death at Midnight.
We know the rest of this story... the Israelites were spared, while the first born in every Egyptian home died that night, causing Pharaoh to issue a decree that the Israelites be released and allowed to leave. For the Jewish people, the focus of the Passover observance is remembering YHWH's deliverance of Israel out of Egypt. "Remember" -- that is the key word for this celebration.
For us Christians, who are Abraham's seed of the New Covenant, the Feast of Passover is a call to remember the Redemption we have received through Jesus Christ, the Lamb of God. He is our Passover who takes away the sin of the world. We are redeemed with precious blood, as of a lamb unblemished and spotless, the blood of Christ. Just as the first Passover proved to be the Power of God to release the children of Israel from their bondage in Egypt, Jesus is the Power of God to release us from the penalty of our sin into Repentance, His love, Life, and Freedom and Liberty. Jesus IS the manifestation of the Passover Lamb, and He was crucified on the Feast of Passover.
The second feast of the Passover Festival is the Feast of Unleavened Bread, which lasts seven days. Historically, it is a call to remember the quick exodus from Egypt, when the Israelites were instructed to make bread without leaven (yeast) because they didn't have time to wait for it to rise. In addition, yeast, or leaven, in the Bible always referred to any corrupting influence in the nation of Israel. In this instance, God was telling them to leave behind the unholy influences of Egypt -- the worship of false Egyptian gods, and the rituals and traditions that had corrupted Israel's relationship with their God during their 430 years of captivity. They were to spend that week in worship and reflection for what God had done for them, and for their relationship with Him that they were privileged to know. They were to remove any leaven [or sin] that was corrupting their present relationship; it was to be a time of absolute separation from leaven in any form.
For today's Christian, this time is a Call to Purity, to an "Unleavened" life. Jesus knew no sin, nor was any deceit found in Him. He was unblemished and spotless. He was made sin for us so that we could be made the righteousness of God in Him. For us, it is a time to call to mind what God has done in each of our lives. We should each have a personal testimony of God's salvation and our relationship to Him. As we reflect on how He has delivered us from sin, we can ask His help in removing any leaven from our life that is separating us from Him. The Feast of Unleavened Bread is a time of renewal and revival in our daily lives.
The third feast of this Holy Festival is the Feast of Firstfruits. This feast occurs during the week of Unleavened Bread on the Sabbath after Passover. In the Old Covenant, it acknowledged the Lord as the giver of the harvest, and commemorated Adam's son, Abel, bringing the first of his flock as an offering to the Lord. It was an expression of dependence on [and gratitude to] the Lord. Offering the first fruits of the harvest [whether grain or livestock] was a way of sanctifying the entire harvest to the Lord, seeking the blessing of God on the harvest so that it could be used and enjoyed by Israel as its people lived out their lives as the people of God. It was a way of connecting to God, and seeking His fruitfulness over the entire harvest as it grew to maturity. It all belonged to Him and was a gift from Him. In essence, it was a harvest celebration, but it was more as we will see.
As Christians, this Feast speaks volumes of Christ as the first of God's Harvest of souls and is a shadow of what Christ has done and the promises He has yet to do. The Feast of Firstfruits points to Christ and His redemptive work. First of all, Jesus's resurrection occurred on the very day of the celebration of the Feast of Firstfruits. He is the offering presented to the Heavenly Father as the first fruit of the harvest. But just as important, He is the guarantee that more resurrections will follow. In His first fruits offering, we see the blessing and the setting apart [or sanctifying] of the entire harvest to the Father, and a preview of what the resurrection will be like for every Believer. Because He overcame death and lives today, every born-again follower of Christ is connected to Him and His power.
The Feast of Firstfruits is the call to remember our hope of Resurrection. Christ is the first fruits of the resurrection and a living hope for all of us! We have hope in knowing that we will be resurrected into eternal life with Him in the future. But for now, we have the hope in His resurrection power in our daily lives. The very power that raised Jesus from the dead, lives in us now, in the person of the Holy Spirit. And by celebrating the Feast of Passover, the Feast of Unleavened Bread, and the Feast of Firstfruits, it is a call to remember all that my God has done in my life, and promises to do today, and into eternity. He has provided a way for me to be delivered from the bondage of sin; to live a life of righteousness and holiness; and to call upon the power that is my salvation in order to effect this world until He returns and I am resurrected into His perfection for eternity.
There is a fullness and expectancy that accompanies the celebration of the Festival of Passover. It is Biblical and it is holy. It is a remembrance of things God has already accomplished for us and a hope of what is to come. I know that this is all new for us Christians, but I truly believe that it is pleasing to God when we make the effort to follow His command to celebrate His ordained Feasts.
It doesn't have to be elaborate or follow the Jewish rituals. Our Home Church will gather together on the Sabbath day of April 15th to honor all three Feasts, sharing a feast of lamb, unleavened bread, and bitter herbs (in the form of horseradish) as detailed in Exodus 12:8. We will share in other favorite dishes and the four cups of wine that were featured in Jesus's last Passover meal to commemorate the promises God made to the Israelites ... the Cup of Sanctification – ( I will bring you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians, and I will free you from their bondage); the Cup of Judgment -- (I will rescue you with an outstretched arm, and by mighty acts of judgment); the Cup of Redemption (I will take you to Me for a people). At the last Passover Supper, Yeshua took this third cup, and said, “This is my blood which is poured our for the forgiveness of sins.” Then we will partake of the fourth Cup, which Jesus said He would not drink until He drinks it with us in His Father's Kingdom. This is the Cup of the Future Kingdom, a kingdom of truth, peace, and freedom -- (I will be to you a God).
We are not concerned with following any strict program of Jewish rituals, because we are not called to become Jews. But we are called, as spiritual descendants of Abraham, to remember what YHWH did in the lives of our spiritual forefathers and to thank Him for Christ's redemptive work in our own lives. This is the fourth year we have celebrated Passover, and with each year, I am blessed with a growing intimacy with the heart of my Lord. I invite you to join me in being obedient to Him and gathering your family to thank Him for the rich heritage that is ours, and for the growing knowledge and intimacy that He shares with us. Happy Passover!
1 Corinthians 5:7-8 "Clean out the old leaven so that you may be a new lump, just as you are in fact unleavened. For Christ our Passover also has been sacrificed. Therefore let us celebrate the feast, not with old leaven, nor with the leaven of malice and wickedness, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth".