Hope of Israel Ministries (Ecclesia of YEHOVAH):
How The Passover Should Be Observed Today --
The Messiah In the Passover!
More and more Christians are seeing the need to observe the Biblical Passover, even as the Jews have done for centuries. The Passover celebration has unique and special significance for every believer in the Messiah. Notice how the ancient festival actually FORETOLD IN SYMBOLISM the coming of the Messiah, and his sacrifice, and our deliverance from the power of sin, and anticipates and looks forward to his Second Coming as our High Priest and Saviour!
by HOIM Staff
In previous articles we have gone to great lengths to prove that Christians and every believer in Yeshua, the Messiah, should observe the Passover, and we have carefully proved when this vital festival of YEHOVAH God should be observed -- the proper day on which the Passover should be eaten.
The Passover was celebrated by the early Church along with the Judeans, at the same time and date, at the close of Nisan 14 and eaten on Nisan 15, but with new meaning and understanding, for hundreds of years after the Messiah ascended to heaven. Not until the Council of Nicea in 325 A.D. did the Roman Catholic Church succeed in supplanting YEHOVAH God's holy festival with the celebration of the pagan "Easter," which stems from the worship of the pagan queen of heaven, variously called Ishtar, Astarte, or Ashteroth -- but whose name was pronounced "Easter" in English! Throughout the Scriptures, YEHOVAH God Almighty condemned the worship of this arch pagan deity, who was the wife of the apostate Nimrod, who led the world in rebellion against YEHOVAH soon after the Flood of Noah's time.
However, neither the Old Testament nor the New Testament ever enjoins a celebration called Easter on the Church of YEHOVAH God. To the contrary, the apostle Paul very plainly said that we should be observing the Passover! He wrote, commanding the Corinthian church: "Don't you know that a little yeast works through the whole batch of dough? Get rid of the old yeast that you may be a new batch without yeast -- as you really are. For Christ, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed. Therefore LET US KEEP THE FESTIVAL, not with the old yeast, the yeast of malice and wickedness, but with bread without yeast, the bread of sincerity and truth" (I Corinthians 5:7-8).
The Rich Symbolism of the Passover
For Christians, and true believers in the Messiah, the Passover celebration is rich with meaning and filled with tremendous significance! But thousands miss out completely on these wonderful truths because they do not celebrate the Passover correctly, or at the right time, when YEHOVAH God ordained in the beginning. They do not celebrate it as a wonderful meal, as the Jews have done for millennia. Many have corrupted this festival and turned it into an austere, somber Church "service," of great solemnity and quietude -- the very opposite of what YEHOVAH intended! They do not even begin to understand the significance of the "Passover meal" which YEHOVAH commanded to be eaten, in commemoration of the Passover, and how it so strikingly foretold the sufferings and death of the Messiah, and even his resurrection from the dead, and our deliverance from sin!
The original celebration of the Passover festival is described in Exodus 12. YEHOVAH God commanded Moses and Israel: "That same night they are to eat the meat [of the Passover lamb] roasted over the fire, along with bitter herbs, and bread made without yeast. Do not eat the meat raw or cooked in water, but roast it over the fire....
"On that same night [the end of Nisan 14, and beginning of Nisan 15) I will pass through Egypt and strike down every firstborn -- both men and animals -- and I will bring punishment on all the gods of Egypt. I am the LORD [YHVH]" (Exodus 12:8-12).
YEHOVAH God said further: "This is a day you are to COMMEMORATE; for the generations to come you shall celebrate it as a FESTIVAL TO THE LORD -- a lasting ordinance. For seven days you are to eat bread made without yeast. On the first day remove the yeast from your houses, for whoever eats anything with yeast in it from the first day [Nisan 15] through the seventh [Nisan 21] must be cut off from Israel. On the first day hold a sacred assembly, and another one on the seventh day. Do no work at all on these days, except to prepare food for everyone to eat -- that is all you may do" (Ex. 12:14-16).
The first thing we must do to celebrate Passover is to put leaven out of our homes -- all yeast, baking powder, and baked goods which contain yeast, as well as pancake flour, self-rising flour, and any other product containing yeast. Yeast is a symbol of sin, lawlessness, and wickedness. It is a type of that which corrupts, puffs up, makes proud and vain, and leads to disobedience to the laws of YEHOVAH God.
Leaven is to be cleaned out of our homes, even as sin is to be cleaned out of our hearts, minds, and lives.
The Passover meal itself is called the Passover Seder (say-der). The Hebrew word "seder" means "order" or "division." The meal itself is a lengthy one, as it reflects on the first Passover, and is approached as a ceremonial and instructive occasion for the entire family or group.
The First Cup of Wine
At the Passover Seder four cups or glasses of wine (a red wine diluted with water) are served, which have deep spiritual significance. The first cup is the "Cup of Sanctification" or setting apart, commemorating YEHOVAH's setting His people Israel apart from the Egyptians, and delivering them from physical bondage. It commemorates YEHOVAH's promise to deliver His people and His Church from physical and spiritual slavery or bondage to sin, and to sanctify or separate us to Himself as a holy nation or people, as His ambassadors and priests. As Paul wrote,
"We are therefore Christ's ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ's behalf: Be reconciled to God. God made him to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God" (II Corinthians 5:20-21).
Peter also wrote,
"But you are a CHOSEN PEOPLE, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. Once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God: once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy" (I Peter 2:9-10).
The first cup or glass of wine begins the Seder, with a blessing asked over it. The customary blessing, or kiddush, is "Barukh atah Adonai Elohenu Melekh ha-olam, b'ray pree ha-gafen," which means, "Blessed art Thou, Lord our God, King of the Universe, who created the fruit of the vine." The prayer continues, in Jewish tradition, to the effect,
"Blessed art Thou, YEHOVAH our God, King of the Universe, who has chosen us out of all people, and exalted us from among all languages, and sanctified us with Thy commandments. And Thou hast given us, O YEHOVAH our God, in love, the solemn days for joy, and the festivals and appointed seasons for gladness; and this the day of unleavened bread, and the season of our freedom, a holy convocation, the memorial of our departure from Egypt. For Thou hast chosen us; and hast sanctified and separated us from among all nations; and Thy holy festivals with joy and gladness Thou hast caused us to inherit. Blessed art Thou, O YEHOVAH, who sanctifies Israel, and the appointed seasons. Blessed art Thou, YEHOVAH, King of the Universe, who hast preserved us alive and sustained us and brought us to this season!"
At this point the first cup of wine was then drunk. The wine symbolizes the blood of the Passover lamb prior to the Exodus of Israel from Egypt, and also the blood of the Messiah, poured out for our sins, reconciling us to YEHOVAH God.
Yeshua took on himself the form of a servant. He was appointed to serve his Father's people Israel, and to set us an example of service. He taught plainly, "The kings of the Gentiles lord it over them; and those who exercise authority over them call themselves Benefactors. But you are not to be like that. Instead, the greatest among you should be LIKE THE YOUNGEST, and the one who rules like the ONE WHO SERVES. For who is greater, the one who is at the table or the one who serves? Is it not the one who is at the table? But I am among you as one who serves" (Luke 22:25-27).
We must all learn the attitude and humility of the Messiah, and learn to lovingly serve each other. Paul described this so eloquently when he wrote:
"Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others. Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but MADE HIMSELF NOTHING, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he HUMBLED HIMSELF and became obedient to death -- even death on a cross! Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father" (Philippians 2:3-11).
Children should also participate in the seder service. Did not Yeshua say, "I tell you the truth, unless you change and become LIKE LITTLE CHILDREN, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore, whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. And whoever welcomes a little child like this in my name welcomes me. But if anyone causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a large millstone hung around his neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea" (Matthew 18:2-6).
Yeshua added, "See that you do not look down on one of these little ones. For I tell you that their angels in heaven always see the face of my Father in heaven" (verse 10-11).
The Passover is a FAMILY experience! It must be shared by the entire family, young and old alike. No part of it is exempt from the children. In fact, one of the primary purposes of the Passover is to be a TEACHING TOOL FOR CHILDREN, to teach them about the power, love, and miracles and deliverance of YEHOVAH God!
Moses was inspired to write, "And when your children ask you, 'What does this ceremony mean to you?' then tell them, 'It is the Passover sacrifice to the LORD, who passed over the houses of the Israelites in Egypt and spared our homes when he struck down the Egyptians'" (Exodus 12:26-27).
The Passover Begins
Alfred Edersheim in The Temple declares: "These preliminaries ended, the Paschal table was brought forward. The president of the feast first took some of the herbs, dipped them in salt water, ate of them, and gave to the others. Immediately after it, all the dishes were removed from the table...and then the second cup was filled. A very interesting ceremony now took place. It had been enjoined in the law that at each Paschal Supper the father was to show his son the import of this festival. By way of carrying out this duty, the son (or else the youngest) was directed to at this particular part of the service to make inquiry...
"The son asks: 'Why is this night distinguished from all other nights? For on all other nights we eat leavened or unleavened bread, but on this night only unleavened bread?...On all other nights we eat meat roasted, stewed, or boiled, but on this night only roasted?...'" (p. 239-240). Then the father instructs his child in the meaning of Passover, beginning with the origin of the nation of Israel, its slavery in Egypt, and its glorious deliverance.
Says Edersheim, "In other words, the head of the house was to relate the WHOLE NATIONAL HISTORY, commencing with Terah, Abraham's father, and telling of his idolatry, and continuing, in due order, the story of Israel up to their deliverance from Egypt and the giving of the Law..." (p. 240). But today, the head of the house should not stop there, but continue on describing the commissioning of the Messiah, and how his blood was shed for our spiritual sins and transgressions, delivering us from spiritual "Egypt" and the power of Satan, the "god" of this world!
The Passover Elements
There are a number of elements in the Passover meal which have special significance and meaning. Salt water represents the tears of the Israelites under Egyptians bondage, and reminds us that in Yeshua the Messiah all the tears of the Israelites will be wiped away. "He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away" (Revelation 21:4). "Those who sow in tears will reap with songs of joy. He who goes out weeping, carrying seed to sow, will return with songs of joy, carrying sheaves with him" (Psalm 126:5-6).
Parsley symbolizes the freshness or newness of life in the Messiah, Yeshua. The parsley is dipped in the salt water, symbolizing the tears of slavery and bondage in Egypt, and the tears that are the result of the suffering and woe caused by sin, and Satan, the architect of sin, of whom Pharaoh was a human type.
The word of YEHOVAH God prophesies of all the Judahites, in the not-too-distant future: "And I will pour out on the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem a spirit of grace and supplication. They will look on the one they have pierced, and they will mourn for him as one mourns for an only child, and grieve bitterly for him as one grieves for a firstborn son. On that day the weeping in Jerusalem will be great, like the weeping of Hadad Rimmon in the plain of Megiddo" (Zechariah 12:10-11).
Bitter herbs were to be eaten with the Passover. Horseradish reminds us of the bitterness and harshness of physical and spiritual bondage. After this, everyone receives the second glass or cup of wine, but it is not yet drunk. It is called --
"The Cup of Plagues"
In the blessing of the second glass of wine, YEHOVAH, the Eternal God, is praised for bringing us forth out of spiritual Egypt, even as He brought our ancestors out of physical Egypt 3,500 years ago. We praise Him for delivering us from slavery to freedom, from being the servants of sin to becoming the servants of righteousness.
As the apostle Paul wrote, "What shall we say then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase? By no means! We died to sin; how can we live in it any longer? Or don't you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a NEW LIFE.
"If we have been united with him like this in his death, we will certainly also be united with him in his resurrection. For we know that the old self was crucified with him so that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin -- because anyone who has died has been freed from sin....
"In the same way, count yourselves DEAD TO SIN but ALIVE TO GOD in Christ Jesus. Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its evil desires. Do not offer the parts of your body to sin, as instruments of wickedness, but rather offer yourselves to God, as those who have been brought from death to life; and offer the parts of your body to him as instruments of righteousness" (Romans 6:1-13).
Just as YEHOVAH God redeemed Israel from Egypt by pouring out ten plagues on the heads of the Egyptians, and destroying their power over His people, so YEHOVAH rescues us from the power of Satan and his evil world by divine power and miracles, and through the power of His holy spirit which He gives to us.
The "Cup of Plagues" has to do with the wrath and fury of YEHOVAH God poured out upon the wicked, and those who would enslave and mistreat His people Israel. YEHOVAH's judgment fell upon Pharaoh and ancient Egypt; His judgment will soon fall upon the modern nations of this evil world; and His judgment will also fall upon Satan, his demons, and all the incorrigible and wicked among Israel who refuse the grace and mercy and forgiveness of YEHOVAH God!
YEHOVAH sent Ten Plagues upon the Egyptians, to break the pride of their power and to free His servants. It is traditional to recite these plagues, one by one, which struck down Egypt from her haughty pride and grandeur. The first was the plague of Blood on the Nile river and sources of water. The Egyptians worshipped the Nile as a god. So the Almighty God turned their "god" into a curse of blood! (Exodus 7:14-22).
The Egyptians also worshipped frogs -- and YEHOVAH gave them a plague of frogs infesting the whole land, and even their houses, homes, and bedrooms! (Exodus 8:1-14). This was followed by the plague of lice or gnats (Exodus 8:16-19), and then the plague of flies (Exodus 8:20-30).
The plague of sickness on the cattle and livestock followed (Exodus 9:1-7), and then the plague of boils and excruciating pain on men (Exodus 9:8-12). When even this did not deter the Egyptians from their mad course, YEHOVAH God sent the plague of "barad" or "hail" the worst storm in all the land of Egypt since it had become a nation. Throughout Egypt hail struck everything in the fields -- both men and animals; it beat down everything growing in the fields and stripped every tree" (Exodus 9:13-25).
The plague of locusts came next, bringing Egypt to the point of ruin (Exodus 10:1-20), but Pharaoh still refused to repent and let Israel go. The plague of darkness followed (Exodus 10:21-29), and then the worst plague of all -- the death of all the Egyptian firstborn (Exodus 11:1-10, 12:29-31), after which Pharaoh finally relented and gave up. Israel was now free to leave!
As each of these plagues is narrated, it is customary to pour out a little wine from the glass. You can dip your finger in the wine and spill out a little drop for each plague.
After the history is narrated, the president or host takes up in succession the dish with the bitter herbs, and that with the unleavened bread, and briefly explains the import of each. Then the first part of the "Hallel" was sung or recited (Psalms 113-114), with a brief thanksgiving at the close. At this point the second cup of wine was drunk.
After the "Cup of Plagues," charoseth -- a mixture of apple, walnut, wine and honey -- is eaten. This mixture resembles the mortar used in the laying of bricks in Egypt. But in its sweetness it reminds us of the sweetness of liberty in the Messiah, and the exhilaration and beauty of deliverance from slavery.
A shankbone of a lamb is a reminder of the death of the perfect Lamb of YEHOVAH God, whose blood was spilled and applied to the doorposts of the ancient Israelites, so that the LORD would "pass over" them and spare them from the tenth plague. It also reminds us of the Messiah, the Lamb of YEHOVAH God, who died to pay the penalty of our sins!
At this point the bread is broken, and thanksgiving rendered to YEHOVAH God for it. Rabbinical authorities state that the bread is to be broken before the thanksgiving, because it was the bread of poverty. Pieces of the bread with bitter herbs between them, and dipped in the charoseth, were next handed to the company. This is known as the "Hillel sandwich" -- horseradish between two pieces of unleavened bread -- which is eaten, as a reminder of the pain and tears and bitterness of slavery. The hot horseradish brings tears to the eyes.
The Broken Body of the Messiah
At this point in the seder, the Aphikomen is broken. This is a very special matzoh or unleavened bread. Three matzohs are placed and kept in a matzoh napkin. A traditional Jewish explanation is that these represent YEHOVAH God (HaShem) the High Priest (HaKohen), and the people (haAm). As Israelite Christians or believers in the Messiah, we know that the middle matzoh therefore represents Yeshua the Messiah, our High Priest.
As followers of the Messiah, we know that Yeshua is our High Priest, as the apostle Paul wrote:
"The point of what we are saying is this: We do have such a HIGH PRIEST, who sat down at the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in heaven, and who serves in the sanctuary, the true tabernacle set up by the Lord, not by man" (Hebrews 8:1-2).
YEHOVAH God foretold of the Messiah, "You are a priest forever, in the order of Melchizedek" (Hebrews 7:27).
"Because Jesus lives forever, he has a permanent priesthood. Therefore he is able to save completely those who come to God through him, because he always lives to intercede for them. Such a high priest meets our need -- one who is holy, blameless, pure, set apart from sinners, exalted above the heavens. Unlike the other high priests, he does not need to offer sacrifices day after day, first for his own sins, and then for the sins of the people. He sacrificed for their sins once for all when he offered himself. For the law appoints as high priests men who are weak; but the oath, which came after the law, appointed the Son, who has been made perfect forever" (Heb. 7:24-28).
The apostle Peter wrote of Yeshua, "When they hurled their insults at him, he did not retaliate; when he suffered, he made no threats. Instead, he entrusted himself to him who judges justly. He himself BORE OUR SINS in his body on the tree, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; by HIS WOUNDS you have been HEALED. For you were like sheep going astray, but now you have returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls" (I Peter 2:23-25).
The Aphikomen is unleavened bread, baked so it is pierced and striped, with brown spots caused by the baking process resembling bruises. Even so, Yeshua our High Priest, when he gave himself for our sins, was beaten with whips, with stripes and gashes on his body, bruised, and pierced with a sword. He was also stoned by passers-by as he hung on the tree. Isaiah prophesied of him: "Surely he took up our infirmities and carried our sorrows, yet we considered him stricken by God, smitten by him, and afflicted. But he was PIERCED for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by HIS WOUNDS we are healed.
"We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way; and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all. He was oppressed and afflicted, yet he did not open his mouth; he was led like a LAMB TO THE SLAUGHTER, and as a sheep before her shearers is silent, so he did not open his mouth. By oppression and judgment he was taken away, and who can speak of his descendants? For he was cut off from the land of the living; for the transgression of my people he was stricken. He was assigned a grave with the wicked, and with the rich in his death, though he had done no violence, nor was any deceit in his mouth. Yet it was the LORD's will to crush him and cause him to suffer, as though the LORD makes his life a GUILT OFFERING, he will see his offspring and prolong his days, and the will of the LORD will prosper in his hand.
"After the suffering of his soul, he will see the light of life and be satisifed; by his knowledge my righteous servant will JUSTIFY MANY, and he will BEAR THEIR INIQUITIES. Therefore I will give him a portion among the great, and he will divide the spoils with the strong, because he POURED OUT HIS LIFE UNTO DEATH, and was numbered with the transgressors. For he BORE THE SINS OF MANY, and made intercession for the transgressors" (Isaiah 53:4-12).
What incomparable, rich symbolism! Every time the Jews break the middle matzoh, the Aphikomen, they are unknowingly testifying of the sufferings of Yeshua the Messiah, the promised Messiah, who laid down his life to pay for Israel's sins and iniquities.
The Aphikomen is taken out and broken in half. One half is broken in pieces and passed around the table so each person can take a piece. The other half is wrapped separately and hidden later to be searched for by the children and to be redeemed by the elder of the home.
The matzoh, a symbol of Messiah's cruel and painful death and unjust punishment by the hands of wicked men, is broken, even as the Messiah's body was killed. The half that is laid away symbolizes the Messiah's body that was laid in the tomb of a rich man, to rise again the third day (I Corinthians 15:3-4). After the serving of the Passover seder, toward the end of the meal, the children search for the missing half of the Aphikomen, and bring it back to the table -- symbolizing the resurrected Messiah returning to life once again!
The very word "Aphikomen" means, literally, "I have already come," or "I have come." It is a Greek word. Thus the very ceremony of the Aphikomen proves that the Messiah has ALREADY APPEARED, and done his work of deliverance and sacrifice and redemption! It represents his FIRST appearance, as the Lamb of YEHOVAH God. As John the Baptist said of him, "Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the [Israelite] world!" (John 1:29).
At this point in the seder matzohs are distributed to everyone at the table. Matzoh or unleavened bread is the only type to be eaten for the next seven days. This is in memory of the first Passover when the Israelites left Egypt and ate only unleavened bread. "For the people took their dough before the yeast was added, and carried it on their shoulders in kneading troughs wrapped in clothing....With the dough they had brought from Egypt, they baked cakes of unleavened bread.
"The dough was without yeast because they had been driven out of Egypt and did not have time to prepare food for themselves" (Exodus 12:34,39).
When we eat of the matzoh we remember the price Yeshua the Messiah paid for the salvation of his Father's people Israel's healing, and redemption. He gave his body to be beaten, whipped, and finally stoned while he hung from the tree until the front part of his body looked like hamburger. He was stoned so ferociously, cruelly and heavily, that Isaiah foretold of him:
"See, my servant will act wisely; he will be raised and lifted up and highly exalted. Just as there were many who were APPALLED at him -- his appearance was SO DISFIGURED beyond that of any man and his form MARRED BEYOND HUMAN LIKENESS -- so will he sprinkle many nations, and kings will shut their mouths because of him. For what they were not told, they will see, and what they have not heard, they will understand" (Isaiah 52:13-15).
At this point, the Passover meal may be enjoyed to the utmost. It is usually a sumptuous, resplendent meal with many courses. No specific menu is required or recommended, but is at the discretion of the host. Any wine taken during the meal itself is not included or counted as part of the "four cups." When the dinner is finished, it is followed with the third cup of wine -- the "Cup of Redemption."
"The Cup of Redemption"
Says Edersheim, "Immediately afterwards the third cup was drunk, a special blessing having been spoken over it.... It is called in Jewish writings, just as by St. Paul, 'the cup of blessing,' partly because it and the first cup required a special 'blessing,' and partly because it followed on the 'grace after meat.' Indeed, such importance attached to it, that the Talmud notes ten peculiarities, too minute indeed for our present consideration, but sufficient to show the special value set upon it" (The Temple, p. 244-245).
After the Passover meal is eaten and enjoyed, the third cup of wine is drunk.
After the dinner is finished, the Aphikomen must be found. The children look for it and the finder is rewarded. If no children are present, then the leader of the seder simply "unburies" it at this time. For the Israelite Christian, this has a unique meaning. The "hidden" Aphikomen represents the body of the Messiah, hidden in the "grave" for three days and the resurrection of the Messiah! Again -- notice the remarkable, incredible symbolism, which unbelieving Jews to this day do not understand, even though they observe it every year, faithfully!
Since the destruction of the Temple in 70 A.D., the Passover no longer includes the roasted Passover lamb. When the Temple was in Jerusalem, YEHOVAH God commanded, "Sacrifice as the Passover to the LORD your God an animal from your flock or herd at the place the LORD will choose as a dwelling for his Name" (Deuteronomy 16:2). The Passover was not to be slain anywhere else. YEHOVAH said, "You must not sacrifice the Passover in any town the LORD your God gives you except in the place he will choose as a dwelling for his Name. There you must sacrifice the Passover in the evening, when the sun goes down, on the anniversary of your departure from Egypt" (verses 5-6). YEHOVAH goes on, "Roast it and eat it AT THE PLACE THE LORD YOUR GOD WILL CHOOSE" (v. 7).
After the third cup of wine is drunk, and before the fourth cup, Edersheim says, "to this day, in every Jewish home, at a certain part of the Paschal service -- just after the 'third cup,' or the 'cup of blessing,' has been drunk -- the door is opened to admit ELIJAH THE PROPHET as forerunner of the Messiah, while appropriate passages are at the same time read which foretell the destruction of all heathen nations" (The Temple. p. 230). Among the Scriptures which may be read are Psalm 79:6; 69:25; and Lamentations 3:66.
"The Cup of Praise"
At the end of the Passover meal, the fourth and final cup of wine is drunk, symbolizing the regathering and restoration of the people of Israel to YEHOVAH God -- both the Judahites, who went into captivity in 604 B.C., and later returned to the Holy Land, only to be dispersed again after 70 A.D., and the descendants of the northern Ten Tribes of Israel which were scattered in captivity in 721 B.C., and most of whom never returned. This is called "The Cup of Praise."
Says Edersheim: "The service concluded with the fourth cup, over which the second portion of the 'Hallel' was sung, consisting of Palms 115, 116, 117 and 118, the whole ending with the so-called 'blessing of the song,' which comprised these two brief prayers: 'All Thy works shall praise Thee, Yahveh [YEHOVAH] our God. And Thy saints, the righteous, who do Thy good pleasure, and all Thy people, the house of Israel, with joyous song let them praise, and bless, and magnify, and glorify, and exalt, and reverence, and sanctify, and ascribe the kingdom to Thy name, O our King! For it is good to praise Thee, and pleasure to sing praises to Thy name, for from everlasting to everlasting Thou art God.'
"'The breath of all that lives shall praise Thy name, Yahveh [YEHOVAH] our God. And the spirit of all flesh shall continually glorify and exalt Thy memorial, O our King! For from everlasting to everlasting Thou art God, and besides Thee we have no King, Redeemer, or Saviour.'
"In this manner was the Paschal Supper celebrated by the Jews ..." (The Temple, p. 243-244).
Clearly, this is also the manner in which we should observe the Passover today!
This fourth cup, the "Cup of Praise," is also the "Cup of Regathering" and restoring Israel. At his future appearance, the Messiah Yeshua will regather all of his Father's people Israel and restore them to their proper inheritance.
Yeshua declared, "At that time the sign of the Son of Man will appear in the sky, and all the nations of the earth will mourn. They will SEE the Son of Man coming on the clouds of the sky, with power and great glory. And he will send his angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will GATHER HIS ELECT from the four winds, from one end of the heavens to the other" (Matthew 24:30-31).
Speaking of that day, Isaiah writes: "In that day the LORD [YEHOVAH] will thresh from the flowing Euphrates to the Wadi of Egypt, and you, O Israelites, will be GATHERED up one by one. And in that day a GREAT TRUMPET will sound. Those who were perishing in Assyria and those who were exiled in Egypt will come and worship the LORD [YEHOVAH] on the holy mountain in Jerusalem" (Isaiah 27:12-13).
After this final "Cup of Praise" is drunk, the "Cup of Salvation," looking forward to our final salvation when YEHOVAH God the Father and Yeshua the Messiah return in great glory, it is appropriate to sing a hymn of deliverance and joy from the Psalms of David. This hymn was very likely the latter part of the Hallel, Psalms 115-118, which is sung at the close of the Passover service.
The Customs of the Passover
Most of the customs of the festival of the Passover come to us from Rabbinic tradition of the Jews. Yet, they are marvelous and amazing in their accurate portrayal of the Messiah, Yeshua, the true Passover lamb of YEHOVAH God.
Some people are too harsh on all Rabbinic tradition, and reject it all even though the Messiah did not do so, and said to his disciples: "The teachers of the law and the Pharisees sit in Moses' seat. So you must obey them and do everything they tell you. But do not do what they do, for they do not practice what they preach" (Matthew 23:2-3).
If we threw out all the customs and traditions of Rabbinic tradition, then the Passover would not be nearly so meaningful and significant. Only traditions which are contrary to Scripture should be discarded and avoided. Others have great significance and meaning for us, even as they do for the Jews who have maintained this Festival of YEHOVAH God for almost 3,500 years!
The Meaning of the Passover
Edersheim tells us, in conclusion: "The Passover, therefore, was not so much the remembrance of Israel's bondage as of Israel's deliverance from that bondage, and the bread which had originally been that of affliction, because that of haste, now became, as it were, the bread of a new state of existence. None of Egypt's leaven was to pervade it; nay, all the old leaven, which served as the symbol of corruption and of death, was to be wholly banished from their homes. They were to be 'a new lump,' as they were 'unleavened'" (p. 250).
Truly, the Passover celebration -- unlike the pagan Easter, with its ridiculous bunny rabbits laying colored eggs, in honor of the pagan queen of heaven -- has tremendous meaning for every true Judahite and Israelite Christian and believer in the Messiah, alike. But especially for those of us who understand the Messianic life of Yeshua the Messiah, and his perfect fulfillment of the ancient type of the Passover Lamb of YEHOVAH God, the correct observance and celebration of this holy festival should be a truly wondrous and joyous and exciting and exhilarating event, unlike any other of the entire year!
The Passover not only points back to Israel coming out of Egypt, and their deliverance, and back to the sacrifice of Yeshua the Messiah, as our Passover Lamb, but it also points forward to the RETURN OF YEHOVAH God the Father and YESHUA THE MESSIAH to save the world from total destruction and cosmocide! It points forward to a future Exodus of YEHOVAH's people Israel out of captivity among foreign, Gentile nations around the world, and their rescue by the KING of kings and LORD of lords -- YEHOVAH God Himself!
"'In that day,' declares the LORD [YEHOVAH] Almighty, 'I will break the yoke off their necks and will tear off their bonds; no longer will foreigners enslave them. Instead, they will serve the LORD [YEHOVAH] their God and David their king, whom I will raise up for them. So do not fear, O Jacob my servant; do not be dismayed, O Israel,' declares the LORD [YEHOVAH]. I will surely save you out of a distant place, your descendants from the land of their exile. Jacob will again have peace and security, and no one will make him afraid" (Jeremiah 30:8-10).
The Significance of Passover
Jewish tradition holds that most of the important events in Israel's history were connected with the Paschal season. It is said that on the present Paschal night that the "horror of great darkness" fell upon Abraham when YEHOVAH God revealed to him the future of his progeny (Genesis 15:12-18). It is supposed to have been Passover time when Abraham entertained his angelic visitors, and that Sodom and Gomorrah were destroyed (Genesis 18-19). The walls of Jericho fell flat soon after Passover, and the "cake of barley bread" seen in a dream which led to the destruction of Midian's host, was prepared from the Omer, presented on the second day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread (Judges 7:13-14).
At a later period Sennacherib and his Assyrian army were overthrown by the power of YEHOVAH God at the Passover season. Also, the mysterious handwriting on the wall fortelling the destruction of Babylon occurred at Passover, and Esther and the Judahites fasted to escape the destruction intended by Haman at the Passover season. In the last days, Jews believe, the destruction of "Edom" and the glorious deliverance of Israel will take place during the Passover season.
"Holy Awe Comes Over Us"
The Passover should be observed with great joy and happiness. Even as we understand the true meaning and incredible significance of this momentous feast, we should have a sense of "holy awe." We should meditate on its incredible symbolism and awesome meaning. We should not take it for granted in any way. And we should rejoice in knowing that the Messiah was commissioned to redeem those of us of Israel as our Passover Lamb, and that he is appearing again to help rescue us from oppression and tyranny, and to bring us salvation, and to usher in the Kingdom of YEHOVAH God Almighty!
Therefore, as we gather around the Passover table, we should be like the Jews who "were arrayed in their best festive garments, joyous and at rest, as became the children of a king. To express this idea the Rabbis also insisted that the Paschal Supper -- or at least part of it -- must be eaten in that recumbent position with which we are familiar from the New Testament. 'For,' say they, 'they use this leaning posture, as free men do, in memorial of their freedom.' And, again, 'Because it is the manner of slaves to eat standing, therefore now they eat sitting and leaning, in order to show that they have been delivered from bondage into freedom.' And, finally: 'No, not the poorest in Israel may eat till he has sat down, leaning.' But, though it was deemed desirable to 'sit leaning' during the whole Paschal Supper, it was only absolutely enjoined while partaking of the bread and the wine...." (p. 234-235).
Through the Messiah we of Israel have been set free from the slavery to sin and Satan and the evil influences of the world around us. Therefore, we should celebrate this festival with a sense of profound joy and peace, and a sense of well-being and incredible FREEDOM!
Most Jews today, toward the end of the ceremony of the Passover Seder, after they open the door and look for Elijah the herald of the coming Messiah, and then close the door, unite together to form a combined chorus of voices, and join together to exclaim with profound hope and deep anticipation of the future appearance of the Messiah:
"NEXT YEAR IN JERUSALEM!"
Hope of Israel Ministries -- Preparing the Way for the Return of YEHOVAH God and His Messiah!
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