Hope of Israel Ministries (Ecclesia of YEHOVAH):
When Should We Observe --
The New Testament PASSOVER?
Did Yeshua the Messiah change the time and manner in which the Passover should be observed? The Jews have always kept Passover on Nisan 15. Yeshua gave new Passover symbols to his disciples at his "Last Supper," on Nisan 14. He was crucified and died at 3:00 PM during the afternoon of Nisan 14, when the Jews were slaying thousands of Passover lambs. What does all this have to do with the Christian PASSOVER? When should the Passover be observed by YEHOVAH God's people today? When the "Lord's Supper" occurred? At 3:00 PM? Or on the traditional day of Nisan 15?
by HOIM Staff
In Proverbs 18:13 we read, "He that answereth a matter before he heareth it, it is folly and shame unto him." And in Revelation 12:9 we read that ". . . that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan . . . deceiveth the WHOLE WORLD."
Truer words were never spoken -- and they apply to the Passover ceremony and celebration itself, believe it or not!
When should the Passover be kept today? When should (Christians observe the Passover? Is the "New Testament Passover" any different or at a different time than the Old Testament Passover? Did Yeshua change the date, time, and manner of observance?
Yeshua himself said we are to live by "every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God" (Matt. 4:4; Luke 4:4). What does the WORD OF YEHOVAH GOD say about the Passover?
A person wrote to me recently saying that he doesn't know of any Church that observes Passover at the time the Bible quotes (Matt. 27:46, Mark 13:34, Luke 23:44) -- that is, 3:00 PM in the afternoon of Nisan 14, when Yeshua actually died on the tree. He also mentioned there are four distinct events at Passover time -- the Last Supper, crucifixion, night to be remembered, and resurrection. He then quoted Luke 22:15 as implying that Yeshua kept the Passover a night early so that he could change it from physical to spiritual. He also quoted Deuteronomy 16:6 as showing me Passover was to be kept at the going down of the sun, before even or sunset. He then referred to Matthew, Mark, Luke, John and I Cor. 11:24-25, saying Yeshua told us to take the bread and wine -- symbols of his body and blood -- in remembrance of him, not of the Last Supper, or the resurrection. This person concluded that the time to "remember him" is 3:00 PM when he died on the stake, not some other time.
Is this true? Should the Passover therefore be observed at 3:00 PM in the afternoon?
This same individual then pointed out that "we," meaning I suppose the Worldwide Church of God, Church of God International, and other offshoots, take the Passover the evening before the time Yeshua was killed, then go home, eat leavened bread or products, and the following day -- the daylight portion of the 14th -- continue eating hotcakes, biscuits, toast, hamburgers, hot-dogs, etc., all day up until sunset, when all leavening is finally put out, prior to Nisan 15. This, he pointed out, makes no sense.
In conclusion, he said, his question is this: "Where in God's Scriptures does it tell us to observe the Passover at any time other than the 9th hour (3:00 PM) on the 14th day of the first month of God's calendar?"
That's a good question! As the Bible is our sole authority on this subject, and all Scripture is given by inspiration of YEHOVAH God -- is "God-breathed" (II Tim.3:16) -- what does Scripture say about this question?
Illogical Passover Nonsense
My correspondent was right that the present day observance of Passover by those who attempt to keep it during the "Lord's Supper," prior to the actual Passover, at the beginning of Nisan 14, is in error and makes no sense. It is ludicrous that some eat the unleavened Passover bread at what they call the "Passover," then go right back into eating leavened bread -- a type of SIN -- the following hours, and don't put it out of their homes until prior to sunset the following day, almost 24 hours later! Such a symbolism is screwy and foolish. Do we partake of the Messiah, then go back into SIN and "live it up" for 24 hours, and only then finally "repent" and put the leaven -- SIN -- out of our lives? Nonsense!
The Lord's Supper, as it has been called, which occurred at night shortly after the beginning of Nisan 14, was NOT the Passover. The Jews did not celebrate the Passover until after the lambs were slain, generally from 3-5 o'clock during the afternoon of Nisan 14, according to the Jewish historian Josephus of the first century. They slew the lambs on the 14th, as YEHOVAH God commanded, and then ate the Passover on the 15th of Nisan. This was the "night to be observed unto the LORD" (Exodus 12:42).
When, then, should we observe Passover? YEHOVAH's commandment is plain. YEHOVAH commanded Moses and all Israel, "And ye shall keep it [the lamb] until the 14th day of the same month: and the whole assembly of the congregation of Israel shall KILL it in the evening" (Exo. 12:6). The expression "in the evening" in Hebrew means "between the two evenings." This is a general period of time which means between high noon when the sun begins to go "down," until actual sunset when the sun has disappeared beneath the horizon -- a time span of about six hours. Thus the Israelites were permitted to begin slaying the Passover lambs after noon and up until sunset. This was important, because all the lambs had to be slain at the Temple or place where YEHOVAH God put His name. The Passover had to be sacrificed "in the place which the LORD shall choose to place his name there" (Deut. 16:2).
This slaying of the lambs perfectly represented the supreme sacrifice of Yeshua the Messiah, our Passover Lamb, who was slain for our sins (I Cor. 5:7; II Cor. 5:20), and who expired on the tree about 3:00 PM in the afternoon of Nisan 14 (Matt. 27:46; Mark 15:34; Luke 23:44).
But when was the Passover actually to be eaten, and partaken of, as a meal? Notice the very Word of YEHOVAH God on this question! "And they shall eat the flesh IN THAT NIGHT, roast with fire, and unleavened bread; and with bitter herbs they shall eat it. . . And ye shall let nothing of it remain UNTIL THE MORNING . . . It is the LORD'S PASSOVER For I will pass through the land of Egypt THIS NIGHT, and will smite all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, both man and beast; and against all the gods of Egypt I will execute judgment. I am the LORD . . . and when I see the blood, I WILL PASS OVER you, and the plague shall not be upon you to destroy you, when I smite the land of Egypt. And THIS DAY [NISAN 15] shall be unto you for a MEMORIAL; and ye shall keep it a FEAST to the LORD throughout your generations; ye shall keep it a FEAST by an ordinance forever" (Exodus 12:7-14).
Notice carefully. The LAMB was to be slain during the afternoon of the 14th, at the very time Yeshua the Messiah died on the tree for our sins. But the PASSOVER itself was not to be celebrated, and EATEN, as a meal of rejoicing and deliverance, until NIGHT (Exo.12:8-10), and nothing of it was to remain until the next MORNING. Since Nisan 15 began at sunset, this proves conclusively that the Passover celebration of eating the Passover meal, with the lamb and unleavened bread and bitter herbs, was not to occur until SUNSET -- AT NIGHT -- ON NISAN 15!
This is the very time YEHOVAH God Almighty COMMANDS us to observe the Passover -- and it is the TIME when the Jews have kept it from time immemorial, throughout their history! They never forgot the right day to observe this chief of all their holy days! This is the very time we should observe it TODAY -- A FEAST BY AN ORDINANCE "FOREVER"! (Exo. 12:14). To observe it on any other day or time, such as 24 hours earlier, at the beginning portion of Nisan 14 -- is an act of sacrilege, disobedience, rebellion, willful pride, and arrogance -- an act of callous REBELLION against this plain and simple LAW of Almighty GOD! He is the One who sets the date, time and manner we should observe His festivals -- not some church leader, sect, cult, or modern day church group!
YEHOVAH's Word says plainly, "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 [at the end of the day] is the LORD's Passover" (Lev. 23:4-5). The Passover was actually to be slain or sacrificed "AT EVEN, at the going down of the sun" (Deut. 16:6). The sun goes down from noon till about six o'clock, when it sets; after the sun "sets," it is no longer "going down, "but has "gone down." Therefore, the Passover lambs were to be sacrificed during the AFTERNOON of Nisan 14 -- not on Nisan 13 or any other day! Nor were they to be slain after sunset of Nisan 13, at the beginning of Nisan 14, when it was dark, after the sun had already "gone down."
The Scriptures are PLAIN. The Passover was killed in the afternoon of Nisan 14, and then eaten on the NIGHT portion of Nisan 15. Nothing else makes any sense whatsoever. The Jews, knowing this fact, have properly observed the Passover on Nisan 15 for thousands of years, and never lost this precious knowledge. No wonder YEHOVAH God said He gave His holy oracles to them to preserve, and not to others (Rom. 3:1-3). No wonder Yeshua said that the Pharisees sat in Moses' seat, and had authority to interpret the commandments and holy days of YEHOVAH God (Matt. 23:1-2).
However, YEHOVAH God never commanded us to partake of the Passover meal, with its rich symbolism, at the beginning of Nisan 14, or even at 3:00 PM during the afternoon of Nisan 14. The fact is, Nisan 14 was simply regarded as the "PREPARATION of the Passover," which involved the killing and dressing of the lambs, and putting leaven out of their homes.
"The Evening of the 14th"
Some have claimed that the "evening" of Nisan 14 means the beginning of that day. They teach that the Israelites were to keep the Passover lambs up until sunset when Nisan 14 began, then sacrifice them before dark, and eat them that same night. Is this true? Is it even possible? During the time of Josephus, the first century Jewish historian, he tells us that the Jews sacrificed some 256,500 lambs in Jerusalem, at the Temple, for the Passover, at a typical Passover celebration. Josephus wrote:
"So these high priests, upon the coming of their feast which is called the Passover, when they slay their sacrifices, from the ninth hour to the eleventh, but so that a company not less than ten belong to every sacrifice, (for it is not lawful for them to feast singly by themselves,) and many of us are twenty in a company, found the number of sacrifices was two hundred and fifty six thousand five hundred; which, upon the allowance of no more than ten that feast together, amounts to two million seven hundred thousand and two hundred persons that were pure and holy" (Wars of the Jews, VI, ix, 3).
Josephus plainly states these lambs were slain between the ninth and eleventh hour, generally -- or from 3:00 PM in the afternoon until 5:00 PM -- obviously BEFORE sunset! Can you imagine the disarray and consternation the priests would have been under if they had to sacrifice all these lambs in the brief "twilight" period of time between sunset and dark -- maybe thirty minutes or so? Sheer chaos and pandemonium would have reigned! But YEHOVAH God is NOT the author of CONFUSION (I Cor. 14:33) and commands that all things be done decently and in order (v. 40).
In Exodus 12:6 YEHOVAH God commands the Passover be killed "between the two evenings." This is the period of time between high noon, when the sun begins to go down, and actual sunset, when the sun has gone down. It is the time of the "going down of the sun" (Deut. 16:6) -- not the time AFTER the sun has already gone down!
Some claim, however, that "evening" must refer to the beginning of the 14th of Nisan. One man said, in effect, "Show me one place where the Bible says a holy day begins the EVENING of the previous day! " Is this expression used anywhere else in the Bible?
You bet it is! In fact, in this very same chapter, YEHOVAH tells His people, "In the first month, on the fourteenth day of the month AT EVEN, ye shall eat unleavened bread, until the one and twentieth day of the month AT EVEN. Seven days shall there be no leaven found in your houses . . ." (Exodus 12:18-19).
Notice! What were the beginning and ending days of this Feast? From the 14th at even till the 21st at even was SEVEN days, this verse tells us. If the 14th "at even" meant the beginning of Nisan 14, then the 21st day "at even" would have to mean the beginning of the 21st -- this would mean we would have to keep the Feast from Nisan 14 through the 20th, and exclude the 21st! Is this what YEHOVAH God intended? Not at all!
Leviticus 23 answers plainly: "In the fourteenth day of the first month AT EVEN is the LORD's Passover. And on the FIFTEENTH DAY of the same month is the feast of unleavened bread unto the LORD: seven days ye must eat unleavened bread. In the first day [the 15th] ye shall have an holy convocation: ye shall do no servile work therein . . . in the seventh day [the 21st add it up yourself] ye shall have an holy convocation: ye shall do no servile work therein" (Lev. 23:5-8).
Now notice. The Passover occurred at the end of the 14th, beginning with the sacrificing of the lambs. The FEAST began after sunset, on Nisan 15, with the Passover meal itself. This feast continued for seven days, during which no leaven was to be found in their dwellings. Thus the feast concluded on Nisan 21. Now YEHOVAH had commanded them to eat "unleavened bread" on the 14th day of the month "at even" UNTIL -- THAT IS INCLUDING -- the 21st day of the month SEVEN DAYS! Count it up. From the evening (end) of the 14th of Nisan till the evening (end) of Nisan 21 is exactly SEVEN DAYS! Here is clear proof that "evening" means the END of a day -- not its beginning!
But there is even more proof. In Leviticus 23 YEHOVAH God commands us to celebrate the Day of Atonement "on the tenth day of the seventh month" (Lev. 23:27). That is very plain. YEHOVAH then says, "It shall be unto you a Sabbath of rest, and ye shall afflict your souls: in the NINTH DAY of the month AT EVEN, from even unto even, shall ye celebrate your Sabbath" (verse 32).
Thus the ninth day "at even" means the END of the ninth day even as the fourteenth day of the first month "at even" means the END of the fourteenth day -- not its beginning!
"The Preparation of the Passover"
Notice! The day after the "Lord's Supper( John 13), Yeshua had been arrested by the Jews, and brought before Pontius Pilate, who ordered him to be whipped and scourged (John 19:1). On the morning of the 14th of Nisan, Pilate had Yeshua brought to the place of judgment called "the Pavement" (John 19:13). John records: "And it was THE PREPARATION OF THE PASSOVER, and about the sixth hour [6:00 AM in the morning]: and he saith unto the Jews, Behold your King!" (John 19:14). The Passover itself would not be partaken of until that evening, after sunset. Nisan 14 was "the preparation," and the body of Yeshua had to be laid in the tomb before sunset (John 19:31), when the High Holy Sabbath-- the first day of Unleavened Bread, would begin.
Yeshua's "Last Supper"
But now let's go backward in time. Let's go back to the previous evening, when Yeshua sat down with his disciples for a final dinner before he was apprehended by the Jewish authorities. Notice the facts about that final dinner, as revealed in the Scriptures.
The last meal Yeshua had with his disciples was not the "Passover." It was merely a "last supper," often called "The Lord's Supper." As we have just seen, the following morning of Nisan 14 was still called "the PREPARATION of the Passover" (John 19:14, 31). Nowhere in Scripture does YEHOVAH God command us or tell us to commemorate or observe this last supper which Yeshua had at the beginning of Nisan 14 as a distinct event or observance. It is not a holy day or feast or festival of YEHOVAH God. The fact that it was not the Passover itself is clear from the apostle John's record.
Notice! John explicitly wrote, '"Now BEFORE the feast of the PASSOVER, when Jesus knew that his hour was come that he should depart out of the world unto the Father, having loved his own which were in the world, he loved them unto the end. AND SUPPER BEING ENDED . . . HE RISETH FROM SUPPER" (John 13:1-4) and he began to wash the disciples' feet. Notice! This supper was clearly stated to have been "BEFORE the feast of the Passover" (verse 1). Therefore it could NOT have been the Passover!
Matthew, Mark and Luke actually corroborate this account in John's gospel. There is no contradiction in the so-called synoptic gospels. In The NIV Harmony of the Gospels, by Robert L Thomas and Stanley N. Gundry, we find the events of the last days of Yeshua the Messiah on this earth laid out in striking detail, verse by verse in the four gospels. We find that after Yeshua taught on the Mount of Olives, on Nisan 12, teaching his disciples about his second coming (Matthew 24-25; Mark 13, Luke 21), probably teaching into late afternoon. Then, either on Nisan 12, shortly before sunset, or on Nisan 13, shortly after it began, in the evening, Yeshua said to his disciples, "As you know, the Passover is two days away" (Matt. 26:2). Mark records, "Now the Passover and the Feast of Unleavened Bread were only two days away" (Mark 14:1). Luke simply records, "Now the Feast of Unleavened Bread, called the Passover, was approaching" (Luke 22:1).
Harmony of Final Events
That same evening, after sunset fell and Nisan 13 began, "a dinner was given in Jesus' honor. Martha served, while Lazarus was among those reclining at the table with him" (John 12:2). This was in the home of a man known as Simon the Leper (Matt. 26:6-13; Mark 13:39; John 12:2-8). During the meal, while he was reclining at the table, a woman came and anointed his feet with precious ointment, which some disciples, led by Judas Iscariot, criticized as a waste of money. Yeshua rebuked them and told them that what she had done was very precious, as she did it to prepare him for burial, and that her act of love would be told wherever the gospel is preached throughout the world (Matt. 26:10-13; Mark 14:6-9; John 12:4-8).
After this event, Judas Iscariot plotted with the Pharisees and chief priests, who were mainly Sadducees, to betray Yeshua to them (Matt. 26:14-16; Mark 14:10-11; Luke 22:3-6). This event most likely occurred sometime during the morning or early afternoon, or the daylight portion of Nisan 13.
That evening, as Nisan 14 began, after sunset -- the day when all leavening is put out of the homes of YEHOVAH's people in preparation for the Feast of Unleavened Bread -- therefore sometimes called "the first day of unleavened bread" Yeshua sent his disciples to make preparations for the upcoming Passover. Passover -- the night portion of Nisan 15 -- was now ONE day away. Yeshua was giving them plenty of time to make the preparations. If the Passover was to be that very night, he would hardly have waited until sunset and then ask them to make preparations! That would be utterly nonsensical. Besides, if he had intended to hold the Passover that very evening, the disciples would have been utterly confused and perplexed -- as there was NO LAMB for the Passover and none would be slain until the following afternoon, for the traditional Passover meal to come on Nisan 15! Besides, Yeshua had clearly just told them ONE DAY BEFORE that Passover was TWO DAYS HENCE -- and there was still one day to go until that would be true!
How clear, then, that the disciples went out and obtained a room for the upcoming Passover, during the late afternoon of Nisan 13 or early evening of Nisan 14, about 24 hours before the actual Passover would occur (Matt. 26:17-19; Mark 14:12-16; Luke 22:7-13). So we read that that very evening, at the beginning of Nisan 14, "So the disciples did as Jesus had directed them and prepared the Passover" (Matt. 26:19; see also Mark 14:16 and Luke 22:13).
Now, we continue reading these parallel accounts. What happened on the evening or beginning of Nisan 14? Matthew tells us, "When evening came, Jesus was RECLINING AT THE TABLE with the Twelve." John tells us: "It was JUST BEFORE the Passover Feast.... The evening meal was being served, and the devil had already prompted Judas Iscariot, son of Simon, to betray Jesus. Jesus knew that the Father had put all things under his power, and that he had come from God and was returning to God; so he got up from THE MEAL" (John 13:1-4). This was a regular MEAL, not the Passover feast! Luke adds, "When the hour came, Jesus and his apostles reclined at the table" (Luke 22:14).
How clear! This was not the Passover -- it was about 24 hours BEFORE the Passover! But a unique thing happened at this special meal -- this final meal Yeshua would have with his disciples, since he would BE our Passover lamb slain for us the very next day. Therefore, at this final meal, Yeshua gave his disciples instructions for the future.
This was not the actual Passover, which would not be eaten for another 24 hours, but it would have to do since Yeshua would be dead and in his tomb during the normal Passover. Therefore, he told his disciples, "I have eagerly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer. For I tell you, I will not eat it again until it finds fulfillment in the kingdom of God" (Luke 22:15-16). Luke is the only gospel writer who records this statement, and he wasn't there at the time. Matthew and John were, and Mark wrote his gospel based on the personal first-hand account of Peter. None of them record this statement. What did Yeshua mean here?
"Desire for the Forbidden"
Yeshua is merely expressing a wish or desire -- not an actual fact! He is saying that he really desired to eat this upcoming Passover meal with his disciples BEFORE he suffered and died -- but that was going to be impossible! His suffering and death would occur first! Therefore, Yeshua is merely expressing his desire -- not an actual event. He was not calling the meal he had on Nisan 14 that night the "Passover." Everybody knew better than that. He was merely indicating how much he had wanted to eat the upcoming Passover with them -- but that was going to be impossible, under the circumstances!
In actual fact, Yeshua used a very unusual word here, translated in the NIV as "eagerly desire," and in the King James Version as "desire." The Greek word he used is epithumea and means, according to Strong's Exhaustive Concordance, "a longing (especially for what is forbidden)," and can even be translated "lust after."
This word comes from the word epithumeo which means, "set the heart upon," "long for (rightly or otherwise)," "covet, desire, lust after." In other words, Yeshua is simply telling his disciples how much he LONGED to be able to eat this upcoming Passover on the night of Nisan 15 with them -- but he knew it would be impossible! It simply was not to be; it was not possible according to the plan of YEHOVAH God. Rather than eat the Passover with them, he would BE our "Passover lamb," sacrificed for us (I Cor. 5:7)! What he was longing for, in this particular instance, was indeed "forbidden" -- for he could not possibly do BOTH, partake of the Passover and BE our Passover!
Thayer's Greek-English Lexicon points out that this word literally means, "desire, craving, longing," specifically, "desire for what is forbidden, lust." The plain truth is, humanly speaking, Yeshua did not want to have to go through with the crucifixion, being beaten, scourged, nailed to the tree, and KILLED! He sweated great drops of blood, praying to the Father later that same night, saying, "Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done" (Luke 22:42). Luke records, "And being in anguish, he prayed more earnestly, and his sweat was like drops of blood falling to the ground" (verse 44). Even for Yeshua, our savior, this trial of the crucifixion was a great ordeal, one he did not look forward to. This fact adds meaning and depth to our perception of his remarkable words to his disciples that he literally "CRAVED" to eat this upcoming Passover with them, on Nisan 15, and not have to go through with the ordeal that lay ahead of him that would prevent him from doing so! He most certainly would NOT have used such a word merely to describe having the "last supper" with them at the beginning of the 14th of Nisan. That meal itself has no particular significance other than being their last meal together.
All the gospel writers, other than Luke, plainly state that the true Passover was not to occur until another DAY passed. John plainly says this evening meal was "BEFORE" the Passover. Yet some think Yeshua seems to be calling this final meal "this Passover." Why, then, does this ambiguity occur? Why does Yeshua refer to "this Passover"? The answer is simple: Yeshua is going to USE THIS MEAL, this FINAL OPPORTUNITY, to give his disciples NEW instructions about the PASSOVER itself! At this moment, during this Last Supper, he intends to introduce the new PASSOVER symbols of the unleavened bread representing his body and the wine representing his blood, which his disciples are to remember EVERY FUTURE PASSOVER, WHEN THEY OBSERVE IT!
The New Passover Symbols
Notice! We read:
"While they were eating, Jesus took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to his disciples, saying, 'Take and eat this is my body.' Then he took the cup, gave thanks and offered it to them, saying, 'Drink from it, all of you. This is my blood of the covenant which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins. I tell you I will not drink of this fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it anew with you in my Father's kingdom" (Matt. 26:26-29). Mark corroborates this account exactly (Mark 14:22-25).
Luke, however, adds a distinction. Very plainly, in Luke, there are TWO CUPS of wine Notice! "After taking the cup, he gave thanks and said, 'Take this and divide it among you. For I tell you I will not drink again of the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God comes.'
"And he took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them, saying, 'This is my body given for you; do this in remembrance of me.' IN THE SAME WAY, AFTER THE SUPPER HE TOOK THE CUP, saying, 'This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which is poured out for you' (Luke 22:17-20).
Why does Luke mention two cups? Was he all mixed up? Of course not! The Scripture cannot be broken, Yeshua told us (John 10:35). "Thy Word is TRUTH" (John 17:17).
Luke did not make a mistake. His gospel account is also inspired Scripture (II Tim. 3:16). Luke was a very careful and elegant writer, the most learned of the gospel writers. He did not become confused and repeat himself. Rather, he really meant to say that there were TWO distinct cups of wine during that supper that Yeshua called special attention to. Luke's gospel account is simply more complete than that of the other apostles on this point. John doesn't mention the bread and wine symbolism at all, whereas Matthew and Mark give very similar accounts. But Luke adds this extraordinary observation that TWO CUPS were actually involved, one simply divided among the Twelve after giving thanks, and the SECOND or LAST cup symbolizing the blood of the covenant!
In this regard, it is interesting to observe that the Jewish Passover seder or meal, which is held on Nisan 15 and lasts for several hours, in remembrance of Israel's deliverance out of Egypt and freedom from bondage, involves the taking of FOUR CUPS of wine diluted with water during the evening, each cup having special meaning and significance. The first cup is the "cup of sanctification," taken at the beginning of the Passover. At the end of the first part of the meal the "cup of plagues" is taken -- symbolizing the wrath of YEHOVAH God upon His enemies, and the plagues poured out on ancient Egypt. The third cup begins the main portion of the Passover, and is the cup of redemption. The final cup, taken toward or at the end of the meal, is the cup of praise. Obviously, the first cup Yeshua offered his disciples recorded in Luke at the beginning of the final supper he had with his disciples corresponded to the first cup of wine which was taken at the beginning of a meal -- the cup of sanctification. The second cup of wine Luke mentions was the cup symbolizing the blood of the new covenant in his shed blood -- it was the same as the cup of redemption!
Yeshua never intended to TRANSFER the Passover ceremony and dinner to the night of Nisan 14 -- rather, he just introduced these new symbolical meanings to the cup of wine and the unleavened bread which had always been part of the traditional Passover observance! He used this opportunity of his final meal with his disciples to do this. This was the most logical time for him to do it. After the resurrection it would no longer be so "imminent" or meaningful; it would be "after the fact." Therefore, on this last evening before his death, he took his disciples through a "dry run," so to speak, giving them a PREVIEW of the Passover, as they were to observe it from that time forward! This teaching, occurring so close to the actual upcoming Passover, and just before his death, would therefore be indelibly linked in their mind to the true Passover. The connection would never be erased or forgotten!
There is NO HISTORICAL CHURCH DOCUMENT OR RECORD THAT STATES YESHUA CHANGED THE PASSOVER FROM NISAN 15 TO NISAN 14! He could not do that, because the Passover was ordained as a festival of YEHOVAH God on Nisan 15 for all time!
YEHOVAH God Almighty commanded: "THROUGHOUT YOUR GENERATIONS; ye shall keep it a feast BY AN ORDINANCE FOR EVER" (Exo. 12:14). The Hebrew word for "forever" is olam and means "concealed, the vanishing point, time out of mind" (Strong's Exhaustive Concordance). It means "eternity, always, forever, eternal, continuous, perpetual, without end."
The Passover was always to be observed along with the other festivals of YEHOVAH God only "AT THEIR APPOINTED TIMES," and at no other time (Lev. 23:4, NIV).
Yeshua did not change the time or manner of observing the Passover. He merely changed the MEANING of two elements of the original Passover -- the meaning of one of the cups of wine, and of the unleavened bread! He showed that the "cup of redemption" referred to his own shed blood, poured out for all our sins. He showed, also, that the real meaning of the unleavened bread was not only to show putting sin or "leaven" out of our lives, but that the unleavened bread stood for his sinless body offered up on the altar for our sins.
As Paul wrote in I Corinthians, Yeshua could not very well have given these new emblems or meanings of the Passover elements to his disciples at the REAL time of the Passover celebration, on the night of Nisan 15, because Yeshua was DEAD AND BURIED at that time. Therefore, in advance, he taught them the new Passover meaning of the unleavened bread and wine taken on Passover evening as part of the Passover seder or dinner. Paul explained it thus: "The Lord Jesus, on the NIGHT HE WAS BETRAYED, took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and said, 'This is my body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of me.' In the same way, AFTER SUPPER he took the cup, saying, 'This cup [not the previous cups] is the new covenant in my blood; do this, whenever you drink it [at each Passover seder], in remembrance of me"' (I Cor. 11:23-25).
Paul did not say here that Yeshua changed the Passover from the night of the 15th of Nisan to the 14th. That would be absurd! YEHOVAH's laws are eternal, and the date of the Passover has NEVER been changed from Nisan 15! Rather, Paul simply pointed out the obvious fact that it was the night Yeshua was actually BETRAYED that he gave these new future Passover instructions to his disciples -- at his last full meal with them, before his death!
Paul went on, "For whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup, you PROCLAIM the Lord's death until he comes" (verse 26). In other words, at each annual celebration of the Passover, on Nisan 15, when we participate in the cup and the unleavened bread, we remember and proclaim that we accept and honor and cherish the sacrifice of Yeshua the Messiah for our sins, and accept and worship him as our savior, redeemer, Messiah and coming king!
The Passover Is Not a Death Memorial
Note very carefully. The Passover celebration is NOT a celebration of the DEATH of the Son of YEHOVAH God -- not at all! We do not "rejoice" at his death on the tree. The one who rejoiced at that event was Satan the devil, the prince of darkness. That was his supreme hour, his greatest conquest, his most notable victory in the history of the world! Only SATAN would rejoice and proclaim a "holiday" and celebration at the DEATH of the Son of YEHOVAH GOD!
Furthermore, only SATAN would celebrate the previous "Night of Betrayal," the evening portion of Nisan 14, when Satan entered into Judas Iscariot and led him to treacherously betray and turn traitor to the Son of YEHOVAH God! That evening was "Satan's night" -- certainly NOT a night that true Christians and believers in the Messiah would want to celebrate or honor!
The Passover was never intended to be a commemoration of the DEATH of the sacrificial lambs in Old Testament tunes. Rather, it was a celebration of LIBERTY AND DELIVERANCE from Egypt, which symbolizes the power of sin and Satan's world (Exo. 12:12-14). The "Passover" celebrated the night YEHOVAH God actually "PASSED OVER" the Israelites and did them no harm, but destroyed their enemies, the gods of Egypt, and the firstborn of all the Egyptians.
Even so, the New Testament Passover celebrates our VICTORY OVER SIN through the shed blood of the Messiah! We do not celebrate the DEATH of YEHOVAH's Passover Lamb as such, but realize that it took the DEATH of His Son for our sins to be forgiven! WE thank YEHOVAH God in awe that He was willing to pay such a price for redeeming us, and we thank the Messiah that he was willing to give up his life for us. But we do not celebrate the death of the lamb itself, any more than the Israelites celebrated at the killing of poor innocent lambs.
It is the DELIVERANCE WROUGHT, the TRIUMPH over our enemies, including our own flesh, Satan and his demons, and the world around us, that we celebrate, through the shed blood of the Messiah, and his indwelling Spirit power that he gives to us for accepting his shed blood and broken body in our behalf! Through Yeshua the Messiah we can be OVERCOMERS -- we can TRIUMPH over all our enemies, and inherit the Kingdom of YEHOVAH God!
Strangely, in a bizarre and mysterious fashion, those who observe what they call the "Passover" in the beginning of Nisan 14, BEFORE the actual slaying of the lamb occurred the following afternoon, are actually celebrating a Roman Catholic, Babylonish type of mystery-religion. The little tiny piece of "unleavened bread" they partake of is reminiscent of the Roman Catholic MASS, which sterns directly from Babylonian Paganism!
This strange ritual, when hundreds and thousands of people gather together somberly, without laughter or rejoicing, and partake only of a piece of unleavened bread and a tiny thimble of wine, has NOTHING WHATEVER REMOTELY to do with the true PASSOVER, which was a FULL COURSE DINNER CELEBRATION OF GREAT JOY for the entire family, or several families together! (Exo. 12:3-4). It was a time for careful rehearing of the History of Israel and YEHOVAH's redemption and providence for the benefit of the children (Exo. 13:14-15; 12:26-27). It was intended to be a joyous FAMILY AFFAIR!
WHY then do modern churches, such as Worldwide Church of God, Church of God International, and others, PROHIBIT CHILDREN from the "Passover"? Thus they drive one more wedge between fathers and sons, mothers and daughters. Instead of reconciling families, they drive them apart (see Malachi 4:5-6).
The true Passover of YEHOVAH God is not a solemn, mysterious "mass," but a JOYOUS FAMILY CELEBRATION OF LIFE, FREEDOM, JOY AND LIBERTY THROUGH THE MESSIAH!
The Death of the Messiah
Do you see the difference? That is why we do NOT celebrate the Passover at the 3:00 PM time when Yeshua actually expired on the tree. That horrible death needs no celebration or commemoration. We do not rejoice that YEHOVAH God had to die. That the Messiah had to die was a horrible reality, necessitated by our sins. He was nailed to that tree for us. He do not rejoice in that horrifying event.
We do rejoice, however, in the wonderful deliverance wrought through the death of the Son of YEHOVAH God in payment for our sins. As Paul wrote, "For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him" (II Cor. 5:21).
Paul expressed it this way: "For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly. For scarcely for a righteous man will one die: yet peradventure for a good man some would even dare to die. But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him. For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be SAVED BY HIS LIFE" (Rom. 5:6-10).
The truth is, YEHOVAH God never commanded the Passover to be observed on Nisan 14, whether in the beginning portion as night fell, or whether in the afternoon, around 3:00 PM, when the Messiah died. Those events were simply preparatory for the true Passover celebration, which has always been celebrated and is to be celebrated during the NIGHT of Nisan 15! The Passover is, therefore, "a night to be much observed unto the LORD for bringing them out from the land of Egypt this is THAT NIGHT OF THE LORD TO BE OBSERVED of all the children of Israel in their generations" (Exodus 12:42).
YEHOVAH God commands us: "And this day" -- PASSOVER -- "shall be unto you for a memorial: and ye shall keep it a FEAST TO THE LORD throughout your generations; ye shall KEEP IT A FEAST BY AN ORDINANCE FOR EVER" (Exodus 12:14).
If you would like more information on how to properly observe the Passover this coming year, then be sure to write for our articles, When Should the Passover Be Observed?, Passover-- The Final Solution!, Do You Observe a Pagan Passover?, Wonderful New Truth about the Passover! and How To Celebrate the Passover! The last articles gives you the proper format, place settings, instructions, and even recipes, for a proper Passover seder -- the same kind that Yeshua and his disciples observed.
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