As most of the Christian world prepares to celebrate Easter this weekend, I am excited to see more and more Christians in the Western Church acknowledge the Lord's Feast of Passover. According to the Messianic Sabbath website, the Feast of Passover begins at sundown this evening, April 14th. I would like to share with you why this Passover Festival should be important to you, as a Christian, and the significance the associated Feasts have with the crucifixion and Resurrection of our Lord. Additionally, I want you to understand what YHWH says about these Feasts, and just how the Enemy has worked to corrupt the celebration by introducing pagan elements into the Christian religion.
We often hear the Spring Feasts of Passover, the Feast of Unleavened Bread and the Feast of First Fruits described as the "Feasts of the Jews". But these are not only Jewish Holy Days, but apply to all followers of YHWH. In fact, Leviticus 23 says, "These are My appointed festivals, the appointed festivals of the Lord, which you are to proclaim as sacred assemblies... they shall be a permanent statute, throughout your generations, wherever you shall be." They are the Lord's Feasts! And they are to be celebrated for everyone who is the seed of Abraham. And if you are doubting that we are the seed of Abraham, then let me present Galatians 3:29 ... And if you belong to Christ [if you are in Him], then you are Abraham’s descendants, and [spiritual] heirs according to [God’s] promise.
So, that is a very simple, but accurate, introduction to why Passover and the Lord's Spring Feasts have significance to Christians. Now, I'd like to quickly explain the meaning and sense of each of these Spring Feasts. and how they correspond with the Western Church's celebration of Easter.
First of all, we need to comprehend how the dates of these feasts are determined. God calls the first day into existence in Genesis 1:5 ... And there was evening, and there was morning, the first day. So, on the Hebrew/Biblical calendar a day begins and ends at dusk. And God, instituted the new moon as appointed times to worship and make sacrifice for Him ... Blow up the trumpet in the new moon, in the time appointed, on our solemn feast day (Psalm 81:3). So the Hebrew calendar is lunar-based and the dates for the Feasts are determined according to Leviticus 23, with the start of the Hebrew month on the new moon as it would be seen from the Temple Mount in Jerusalem. This year that date is at dusk on April 14th.
The eight days that make up the Festival of Passover are actually recorded in Exodus, Chapter 12. Here we find three separate Feasts, all under the umbrella of "the Feast of Passover". The first day of the Festival, and the first of the Feasts, is called Pesach, which means "spare" or "exempt" in Hebrew, and which our English Bibles translate as "pass over". Therefore, it has become known as the Feast of Passover in our time. 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.
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, Freedom, Liberty, AND into the Kingdom of God as Kingdom citizens. 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, from the evening of April 15th until the evening of April 22nd. 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 (sin) 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.
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. As we reflect on how Jesus has delivered us from sin, we can ask His help in removing any leaven from our life that is separating us from Him and ask Him to reconnect us back to our original relationship with God!
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. 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. And here is why it is important to Christians -- Jesus's resurrection occurred on the very day of the celebration of the Feast of First Fruits! He is the offering presented to the Heavenly Father as the first fruit of the harvest of souls. 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!
And now, I come to what may be the most difficult part of this post for you to understand... God did not appoint a celebration of a Holy Day called Easter! I know this will offend many religious Christians, but the only version of the Bible where I could find the word "Easter" mentioned is in Acts 12:1-5 of the King James Bible. Here is an important truth that the modern Church needs to understand ... the word Easter is never biblically associated with the death and Resurrection of Jesus Christ. Read Matthew 26-28 and the account of the betrayal of Jesus, His death and resurrection, and you will find the references to the Passover week. He is crucified, buried, and raised from the dead during those Holy Feast days, and the Feasts are mentioned ... not Easter!
So, how did the Western Church come to associate this unbiblical holiday with our Lord's death and resurrection? Enter Roman Emperor Constantine, who sought to strengthen his empire by professing a conversion to Christianity. At the time, his empire was divided between Pagans and Believers. Before his supposed conversion, Emperor Constantine -- like many pagans -- celebrated various pagan gods. These pagan religions often centered around moon goddesses and sun gods. "Ishtar", which is another pagan name for "Easter", was a day that commemorated the resurrection of one of their gods that they called "Tammuz", who was believed to be the only begotten son of the moon-goddess and the sun-god.
In 325 A.D., Emperor Constantine, at the Nicean Council, ordered all Churches to celebrate the Resurrection of Christ on Easter Sunday, named for the Goddess of Spring [and moon] and his pagan Sun god. The early Church had celebrated the Resurrection during the Passover, beginning on the 14th day of the Hebrew month called Nisan, which could fall on any day of the week. But the Churches near Rome had abandoned the practice because they hated the Jews, blaming them for the death of Jesus, so they fixed the date to the first Sunday after the first full moon of Spring, which coincided with the ancient Roman celebration called ‘Easter’, after the pagan goddess of Spring, Eostre, who was also known as Ishtar, Astarte, Ashtaroth, the Queen of Heaven, and Mother Nature. Constantine saw how his newfound faith could be united with his old pagan ways to unite his Empire. He couldn’t force pagans to believe in his new faith, but he could entice them by incorporating some familiar pagan themes, such as the goddess, Eostre/Easter, herself, seen as a goddess of fertility. [This is where we get Easter eggs from and the symbol of the Easter bunny, which is also a symbol of fertility]. He could replace the Feasts of the Lord, which were practiced by the Hebrew Believers, with familiar "sunrise" services and worship centered around the Spring Equinox.
As I said earlier, during the first couple hundred years of the Early Church, believers followed the Jewish traditions of the Lord's Feasts. But Constantine's Satan-induced hatred of the Jews caused the Jewish influence (in the form of the Feasts) to be erased from the Church. Here is a direct quote from Constantine himself: “And truly, in the first place, it seems to everyone a most unworthy thing that we should follow the customs of the Jews in the celebration of this most holy solemnity, who, polluted wretches! having stained their hands with a nefarious crime, are justly blinded in their minds. It is fit, therefore, that rejecting the practice of this people, we should perpetuate to all future ages the celebration of this rite, in a more legitimate order, which we have kept from the first day of our "Lord's" passion even to the present times. Let us then have nothing in common with the most hostile rabble of the Jews.” (Council of Nicea, pg. 52.)
The consequences of this hostility towards the Jews has meant that nearly 2000 years after its establishment, the Church has lost the truth about God's commandments as to how we are to celebrate His Son's resurrection. But, thankfully, in this dawning of the Last Days, we have received Divine revelation, and are returning to the roots of our faith; celebrating the First Coming of our Lord, by observing His Feasts according to His calendar; the same calendar He gave to Moses.
Nearly 1400 years after the Exodus, the Roman government crucified Jesus, or Yeshua, on God's commanded Feast of Passover, and He became our sacrificial Passover Lamb. By His blood, that covers us, we are saved from Death. For over a thousand years, families had selected Passover lambs on the 10th day of Nisan, and observed them for 4 days before Passover. On Nisan 10, the day they selected their lambs, Yeshua entered Jerusalem to the shouts of the multitudes, as they cried, “Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest heaven!” (Matthew 21:9). They saw Him as their conquering King of Israel; not as the Sacrificial Lamb.
On the Morning of Nisan 14, which is Passover Preparation Day, Jews rushed their lambs to Jerusalem. That same morning, the High Priest Caiaphas rushed to condemn Yeshua. He was a Sadducee who denied the resurrection, and hated Jesus for teaching it. He led other Sadducees in the Sanhedrin to convict Yeshua to death. Yeshua was nailed to the cross at 9 a.m., at the time of the morning sacrifice and prayers at the Temple.
That afternoon, shortly before Yeshua died, priests blew the shofar, which signaled the opening of the Temple gates when men flooded into the courtyards to slaughter their Passover lambs. As they hung their lambs on hooks with forearms spread for skinning and cleaning, Yeshua was hanging on the Cross in the same pose. He died at 3 p.m., the time of the evening sacrifice and prayers.
The blood of slaughtered lambs covered doorposts in ancient Egypt. That was a picture of the Messiah ... He was a lamb led to slaughter ... He was the Lamb of God ... He was a Lamb without blemish (free of sin) ... He is the slain Lamb on the Throne ... He is the Lamb whose blood overcomes Satan and He died for the sins of the world.
So, as you can see, through His commandments to observe His Feast Days, God
gave us an exact picture of His plan to redeem mankind. The Feast Days
of Passover week point us to the First Coming of Christ in a very
specific way that a holiday named Easter -- with its pagan roots -- can
never do. And if you are saying to yourself, "But, that's not what Easter means to me ... I recognize the sacrifice that Jesus made for me". But what does it mean to God when He knows the origins and symbols of Easter? I invite you to consider what the Lord says in Amos 5:21: I hate, I despise and reject your (sacred) feasts, and I do not take delight in your solemn assemblies.
Just as the blood of Passover lambs in ancient Egypt covered the doorposts, the blood of the Messiah, our Passover Lamb, covers our hearts. The Israelites were delivered from slavery in Egypt on these very days, just as we are delivered from slavery to sin! And Jesus died, was buried, and resurrected on these specific days. That's why, beginning tonight at sundown, and for the next 8 days, I will be celebrating my freedom from sin's hold on me -- my victory in Yeshua -- and celebrating the hope that is my resurrection.
1 Corinthians 5:7 Cleanse out the old leaven that you may be a new lump, as you really are unleavened. For Christ, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed.