How Jesus Fulfilled the Passover
We want to look at the Feast of Passover and how Jesus the Messiah typified and fulfilled the feast of Passover, the Feast of Unleavened Bread and the Feast of Firstfruits, which down the years have all been combined into the Feast of Passover.
The celebration of the Feast of Tabernacles is the larges Christian celebration of this type that goes on in Israel every year with Christians of many nations gathering for the celebration. What bring Christians from many nations to celebrate what is a Jewish feast? Yes, the church of Jesus Christ becomes a ‘Jew’ in heart according to Romans 2:28-29. “For he is not a Jew, which is one outwardly; neither is that circumcision, which is outward in the flesh: But he is a Jew, which is one inwardly; and circumcision is that of the heart, in the spirit, and not in the letter; whose praise is not of men, but of God.” It is a circumcision that is of the heart and not of the flesh. Yet the Christian church has lost something of its heritage over the years. Jesus and the early church fathers were Jewish. And we have lost touch with our roots and part of our heritage. This is intended to help us regain something of the heritage we have lost over the years.
No, we are not bound by the law! No, Gentile believers are not required to become Jews or to convert to Judaism or to be circumcised, nor or we bound by the Law of the Old Testament or any of the ceremonial requirements or to keep all the Jewish feasts that were given to Israel. Jesus has redeemed us from the curse of the law, a law that no man could keep, however, God never intended for this festivals to be overlooked and forgotten. No, I am not saying that we are to observe Passover by having a seder dinner in our homes or blow a Jewish shofar on the Feast of Trumpets. But it merits our attention that we can learn how Jesus has fulfilled the first three feasts and how the church of Jesus Christ has fulfilled the fourth feast, the Feast of Pentecost and how we can expect the last three feasts to also be fulfilled by the Lord Jesus Christ.
Our early church fathers realized the significance of Jesus coming and the time that He suffered and was crucified and rose from the dead and how Jesus fulfilled the custom of sacrificing lambs on the day of Passover that had been carried on for about 1500 years. How the blood of the lamb was to be a token of the Lamb of God, the Messiah who was to come. Year after year the sacrificing of these lambs was a token of Jesus coming, suffering and sacrificing His life and being resurrected. It is the proof that He is who He said He was.
1 Peter 1:18-19 “Forasmuch as ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, from your vain conversation received by tradition from your fathers; But with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot:” The lamb was the focal point of the Passover Celebration. Peter acknowledged that Jesus fulfilled that role of the lamb. Paul wrote in 1Corinthians 5:7 “Purge out therefore the old leaven, that ye may be a new lump, as ye are unleavened. For even Christ our passover is sacrificed for us:” Paul recognizes the significance of Jesus suffering and that He was our Passover and is our Passover Lamb today. We are in the season of the Passover and Easter and we want to realize the importance of the death and resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ to save and redeem us.
What exactly is Passover and when does it take place?
First, Passover in modern times is celebrated for 7 days in Israel and 8 days outside the land of Israel. Passover actually was one night when the people of God ate the lamb, bitter herbs and matzo. Immediately following that night, there was a 7 day period called the week or Feast of Unleavened Bread, which is called matzo. This time has all been combined into the Feast of Passover, which includes the festival of unleavened bread. In fact, there is another feast or festival in the midst of all this called the Feast of Firstfruits.
Passover is in the spring in the month of Nisan or Aviv, which means ‘a new beginning’. It has to do with redemption, the redemption of God’s people from bondage in Egypt. That is the significance to Israel under the Law. The future significance was for the believers in Christ, redeemed from the bondage of sin, which we say in 1Peter chapter one. The event tied to that in the Old Testament was the exodus from Egypt and in the New Testament it was the crucifixion.
The Festival of Unleavened Bread occurs at the same time of year. What is the significance of that? It is the purging of all the leaven from the home and partaking of only unleavened bread. Leaven is a symbol for sin. The future significance of that was that all believers in Christ are cleansed from sin and empowered to walk in newness of life. We can purge from us the sinful things, the leaven that God doesn’t want in our lives. Purging out the old leaven is the process of sanctification. In 2 Corinthians 5:21 “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.” Justification! So in Passover and the feast of Unleavened Bread we can understand the significance of what Jesus did for us on the cross of Calvary.
The Festival of Firstfruits which will occur during the week of Passover you don’t hear much about, but this time of year was the time of the first grain harvest, usually barley. The Festival of Firstfruits was a feast of thanksgiving and for the promise of the harvest that was to come. What is the significance for us? Christ was the first to rise from the dead, giving the promise of resurrection and eternal life for all those who believe in Him. 1 Corinthians 15:20 “But now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the firstfruits of them that slept.” The significant New Testament event was the resurrection of Jesus Christ.
So this is just to make us aware that when we refer to Passover we are referring to a 7 day period of time in which there were actually 3 festivals. So we will be referring to this whole period as Passover, which is called the season of our freedom. Why? Because the Israelites were in Egyptian bondage and God redeemed them from that bondage. It is called the season of our joy. IT is dealing with redemption. That is the theme of Passover. Exodus 12:12-13 “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 the blood shall be to you for a token upon the houses where ye are: 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.” We know the story of the Exodus and the killing of the first born. During that night in the land of Egypt, the Jewish people from within their homes, could hear the screams of Egypt. They ate the lamb and matzo and bitter herbs knowing full well that at any time the death angel would come to destroy the first born of all the land who had not applied the blood to the lintel and doorposts of their home. God said it was a token and when the death angel saw it, he would pass over that house.
When we use the term Passover, we picture the death angel passing over Egypt and upon coming to the door with the blood of the lamb applied, passed by and that family was spared. But not only was the death angel going through the land that night, but God Himself was also passing through the land of Egypt. What was God doing? He was not bring death or destroying. Later in chapter 12 it tells who was doing the destroying and he is called the destroyer. God protected His people so that the destroyer did not go into their houses. Passover or in Hebrew, (Pesa), a noun which comes from the verb (pasa) which is the word used in Exodus 12:13 for “I will pass over you” (pasa you). That word, if it meant that God would see the blood and pass over the house would be a different Hebrew word, abar or gabar, but it is not. The word pasa resembles an Egyptian word, pesh which means to spread wings over in an act of protecting.
In a book called, “Christ and the Passover” written by S. M. Roshen, the founders of Jews for Jesus, he quotes “Pink” in his book, “Wings in Exodus”. I want to read something concerning the word pasa. The word is used in this sense in Isaiah 31:5. “As birds flying, so will the LORD of hosts defend Jerusalem; defending also he will deliver it; and passing over he will preserve it.” As birds flying so will the Lord of hosts defend Jerusalem. Defending also, He will deliver it and passing over He will preserve it. The word has consequently the very meaning of the Egyptian term for spreading the wings over and protecting.” The Lord’s Passover means such sheltering and protection as is found under the outstretched wings of the Almighty.” This sounds familiar to Luke when Jesus said, “Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killeth the prophets. How oft would I have gathered thy children together…” Jesus said this as he was entering into the city just before the festival of Passover. “The term pesa is applied one, to the ceremony and two, to the lamb. The slain lamb, the sheltering behind it’s blood and the eating of the flesh constituted the pesa. The protection of God’s chosen people beneath the sheltering wings of the Almighty. It was not merely that the Lord passed by the houses of the Israelites but that He stood on guard, protecting each blood sprinkled door.” Exodus 12:23 “For the LORD will pass through to smite the Egyptians; and when he seeth the blood upon the lintel, and on the two side posts, the LORD will pass over the door, and will not suffer the destroyer to come in unto your houses to smite you.” When it says that it is the Lord’s Passover and “I will Passover you” He was not saying “I am going to pass by you. I’m not going to forsake you but instead I’m going to be at the door so when the enemy, the destroyer comes seeking your life, I am going to stand there and I am going to protect you and I am going to tell him that they have the token of the covenant, they have the blood applied upon their home, they have the blood applied upon their heart and I will not allow you to come in and take what belongs to me. They have a covenant with me. That is what the Lord’s Passover deals with. God protecting what belongs to Him. And when Jesus Christ, the Lamb of God spilled His blood out upon the ground of Golgotha, He was not saying ‘I am not going to forsake you.” But God Himself said, “When you apply that blood to your heart. When you accept Jesus Christ as your savior and as your Messiah, I am going to protect you. I am going to watch over you and when the destroyer comes to seek your life, I am going to tell him that He cannot have you.” That is what Passover is about. That is what redemption is about. Hallelujah.
Exodus 12:1-2. “And the LORD spake unto Moses and Aaron in the land of Egypt, saying, This month shall be unto you the beginning of months: it shall be the first month of the year to you.” That is the month of Aviv. God is changing their calendar. (V.3-16) “Speak ye unto all the congregation of Israel, saying, In the tenth day of this month they shall take to them every man a lamb, according to the house of their fathers, a lamb for an house: And if the household be too little for the lamb, let him and his neighbour next unto his house take it according to the number of the souls; every man according to his eating shall make your count for the lamb. Your lamb shall be without blemish, a male of the first year: ye shall take it out from the sheep, or from the goats: And ye shall keep it up until the fourteenth day of the same month: and the whole assembly of the congregation of Israel shall kill it in the evening. And they shall take of the blood, and strike it on the two side posts and on the upper door post of the houses, wherein they shall eat it. And they shall eat the flesh in that night, roast with fire, and unleavened bread; and with bitter herbs they shall eat it. Eat not of it raw, nor sodden at all with water, but roast with fire; his head with his legs, and with the purtenance thereof. And ye shall let nothing of it remain until the morning; and that which remaineth of it until the morning ye shall burn with fire. And thus shall ye eat it; with your loins girded, your shoes on your feet, and your staff in your hand; and ye shall eat it in haste: 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 the blood shall be to you for a token upon the houses where ye are: 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 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. Seven days shall ye eat unleavened bread; even the first day ye shall put away leaven out of your houses: for whosoever eateth leavened bread from the first day until the seventh day, that soul shall be cut off from Israel. And in the first day there shall be an holy convocation, and in the seventh day there shall be an holy convocation to you; no manner of work shall be done in them, save that which every man must eat, that only may be done of you.”
There are certain days in the month of Aviv that are very important. First of all, from verse 3, the tenth day. Then in verse 6, the fourteenth day. Then in verse 15 it says 7 days, or the Festival of Unleavened Bread. The first day of the seven days will be the 15th of the month of Aviv and will go until the 21st of the month, Aviv and those two days, the 15th and 21st will be Sabbath days. So the important days are the 10th day, the 14th day, the 15th day. In Jewish reckoning the day doesn’t begin when the sun rises or comes up nor does the day begin at 12 midnight. The Jewish day begins in the evening when the sun goes down. That comes from Genesis chapter one, when the evening and the morning were the first day. The evening will the new day. If it is Tuesday night for us it is the beginning of Wednesday for the Jewish people. The day begins at dusk. That is very important to understand. When we get into the specifics of when Jesus fulfilled these things you will need to know that. So in the month of Aviv, during this time, the 10th, 14th and 15th days are very important to remember.
Originally, before Exodus chapter 12, during this time of year most Jews already celebrated something. They didn’t call it Passover, but they celebrated the advent of spring and they would offer animal sacrifices. Also they took bread in the spring festival, the farmers celebrated the beginning of the grain harvest, which was this time of year. The bread and the offering of an animal to celebrate the advent of spring was something they were already doing. There was already an historical celebration that had been taking place in their past. Moses tells Pharaoh to let Israel go 3 days journey in sacrifice to God during this time of the beginning of spring. They had been accustomed to worshipping God and celebrating in the past. What God does, in the festivals that God begins have a three-fold aspect. God attached something He was going to do, an historical remembrance of God dealing with the Jewish nation, He attaches it to a seasonal celebration, something they were already familiar with. There is another important aspect of these festivals; they were going to look to the future and a future fulfillment. God attaches Himself by an historical event to something these people were already accustomed to and tells them that this will be something to point to the future.
Why did God choose this time of year to do this?
I think it is because the sons of Jacob had to forsake Egypt to serve Him, to serve the Living God. Old things, old attitudes, old affections had to go away and all things had to be new. The nation needed a rebirth. They had been in Egypt all these years and the redemption or the Passover prepared them for the covenant that God was going to make with them at Sinai that would take place later. Their had to be something to bring a change in their heart first. God went so far as to change their reckoning of time. In Exodus 12:2 God said this would be the first of months for them, the beginning of months. “This month shall be unto you the beginning of months: it shall be the first month of the year to you.” Before that, the first month of the Hebrew calendar was the month of Tishri which comes in the fall, our September to October. But God changes their recokening of time and to this day the Jews have two calendars. One is a civil calendar, which begins in the month of Tishri, and one is a religious calendar, which deals with the religious events, and the things associated with God and that calendar being sin the month of Nisan or Aviv. God wanted to establish that this is a new beginning. This is a rebirth.
Isn’t it interesting that in our measurement of time we make everything BC or AD. We make everything in history as before the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ or after the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. When the rebirth took place, when the redemption took place, when the Passover took place everything changed and there was a new beginning. I think that is why God choose this time to institute this redemption and bring the people out of Egypt. It had to be in the time of new beginnings.
Some of the events leading up to the Exodus and the first Passover
Everyone is familiar with the story of Moses out in the wilderness in the Mount of Sinai and Mount Horeb attending sheep for his father in law and God speaks to him out of a burning bush and tells him to go to Pharaoh. God tells Moses that He will bring him into the land of Canaan, the land flowing with milk and honey. Exodus 3:8, 17 “And I am come down to deliver them out of the hand of the Egyptians, and to bring them up out of that land unto a good land and a large, unto a land flowing with milk and honey; unto the place of the Canaanites, and the Hittites, and the Amorites, and the Perizzites, and the Hivites, and the Jebusites… And I have said, I will bring you up out of the affliction of Egypt unto the land of the Canaanites, and the Hittites, and the Amorites, and the Perizzites, and the Hivites, and the Jebusites, unto a land flowing with milk and honey. ” In verse 18 God says, “The LORD God of the Hebrews hath met with us: and now let us go, we beseech thee, three days' journey into the wilderness, that we may sacrifice to the LORD our God.” Moses knows what God has intended for him to do. He knows that he is to bring the people out of Egypt into the land of Canaan and yet God tells him, don’t tell Pharaoh that, but you tell him to let you go three days journey into the wilderness. Why is that? Was God trying to mislead Pharaoh? Was He lying to him? No! We will come back to this later and redo this story on a spiritual level but just wanted to mention it now.
Moses goes to Pharaoh and tells him to let the people of God go. Pharaoh replies in Exodus 5:2 “And Pharaoh said, Who is the LORD, that I should obey his voice to let Israel go? I know not the LORD, neither will I let Israel go.” He was not going to release the Hebrews. He considered them his own personal property. They were not the slaves of Egypt, they were Pharaoh’s slaves, he owned them personally. The people of Egypt, if you remember the story of Joseph, when the famine took place, the Egyptians sold everything they had to Pharaoh for grain. So when this Pharaoh came along he owned everything and he owned the Hebrews personally. Just as before Jesus Christ saved us, before he redeemed us, we belonged to Satan, whether we wanted to admit it or not, believed it or not. There are many in the world living in sin, thinking they are doing their own thing, living their own life and think they are in control but do not realize that they belong to Satan. Abortionists have a saying, “Keep your laws off my body.” These people do not know that they are not independent agents but that they belong to the devil, as do all who live in sin. Jesus was sent into the world to free us from that.
As Pharaoh denies Moses request, God says that He will bring plagues upon the land of Egypt so Pharaoh will see that He is the Lord. God already told Moses that He would have to deal severely with Pharaoh. So the plagues begin to happen. The water of the Nile is turned into blood. The plague of frogs, lice and all the rest were to bring judgment upon particular Egyptian gods. The Egyptians worshipped hundreds if not thousands of gods and God brings judgment against the people in the land of Egypt to let them see that He is the true God and the things that they worshipped could not help them. The fourth was the plague of flies, then the plague upon the beasts, then the boils. Now the sixth plague, of boils is interesting.
Exodus 9:8-10 “And the LORD said unto Moses and unto Aaron, Take to you handfuls of ashes of the furnace, and let Moses sprinkle it toward the heaven in the sight of Pharaoh. And it shall become small dust in all the land of Egypt, and shall be a boil breaking forth with blains upon man, and upon beast, throughout all the land of Egypt. And they took ashes of the furnace, and stood before Pharaoh; and Moses sprinkled it up toward heaven; and it became a boil breaking forth with blains upon man, and upon beast.” It doesn’t say that Moses and Aaron took ashes of a furnace but the furnace. When they did this Pharaoh was there. The furnace may have been one where human victims were burned to an Egyptian god. This Egyptian god was possible one to ward off plagues. If this is true, then according to research, what Moses and Aaron were doing was presenting to God evidence of the sins of Egypt. They flung them to heaven and the ashes were a challenge to the great Egyptian god who was the queen of highest heaven. Immediately after that in verse 12 is says; “And the LORD hardened the heart of Pharaoh, and he hearkened not unto them; as the LORD had spoken unto Moses.” When the evidence of this killing took place, that is when God hardened Pharaoh’s heart. Up to this point, Pharaoh had hardened his own heart. When he did not repent of his sin and when he continued in his sin, God said, okay, I have dealt with you long enough, now I am going to harden your heart. That is exactly what is going to happen in the book of Revelation in the last days. People will repent not of all their sins. God hardens their hearts.
Then there was the plague of hail, locusts and darkness. One of the principal cities of Egypt was called On, the seat of sun worship where they worshipped Ra, the sun god. That was a plague to show that there was nothing to this god Ra. After the ninth plague, in verse 28-29, Pharaoh seals his doom. “Entreat the LORD (for it is enough) that there be no more mighty thunderings and hail; and I will let you go, and ye shall stay no longer. And Moses said unto him, As soon as I am gone out of the city, I will spread abroad my hands unto the LORD; and the thunder shall cease, neither shall there be any more hail; that thou mayest know how that the earth is the Lord's.” He says to Moses, “get from me. Take heed to yourself that you see my face no more. In that day. You will die… Moses said, you will see my face no more.” He knows that God is about to finish what He has started. In v.11 God tells Moses that He will bring one more plague upon Pharaoh and Egypt and then he will let them go and when he does, he will thrust you out. SO God tells Moses to tell the people of Israel what is about to happen. Exodus 11:4-7 “And Moses said, Thus saith the LORD, About midnight will I go out into the midst of Egypt: And all the firstborn in the land of Egypt shall die, from the firstborn of Pharaoh that sitteth upon his throne, even unto the firstborn of the maidservant that is behind the mill; and all the firstborn of beasts. And there shall be a great cry throughout all the land of Egypt, such as there was none like it, nor shall be like it any more. But against any of the children of Israel shall not a dog move his tongue, against man or beast: that ye may know how that the LORD doth put a difference between the Egyptians and Israel.” God will separate and keep His people through judgment. He will protect His own and the world will see how God protects those who have a covenant with Him.
Exodus 12 tells them how to prepare for it. Let’s now lay out some specifics of the Passover and how they were to prepare for the judgment that was coming. Exodus 12:3 “Speak ye unto all the congregation of Israel, saying, In the tenth day of this month they shall take to them every man a lamb, according to the house of their fathers, a lamb for an house:” On the tenth a lamb is taken out that is marked for death. It will be inspected to see that there is no spot or blemish and will remain in the house until the 14th day. What kind of lamb is it. (V.5) “Your lamb shall be without blemish, a male of the first year: ye shall take it out from the sheep, or from the goats:” One year old, mature but still young. It will be watched to see that it is perfect and then: (V.6) “And ye shall keep it up until the fourteenth day of the same month: and the whole assembly of the congregation of Israel shall kill it in the evening.” “Kill it in the evening” in the Hebrew means ‘between the evenings.’ What does that mean In the temple days, the day was quartered, 12pm to 3pm was called the minor evening oblation. From 3pm to 6pm was called the major evening oblation. The common point of these two quarters was 3pm in the afternoon. That is between the evenings. So on the 14th day of Nisan or Aviv, at about 3pm they were to kill the spotless lamb. The father went to the door, gathered his family together. He lays his hands on the lamb and cuts its throat and drains the blood into a basin. That is not what we think of as a basin, as a bowl. In those days the front door had a notch or place cut out that the father emptied the blood into at the foot of the door. Then he took a hyssop branch and dipped it into the blood at the foot of the door and applied it to the doorposts and the lentil. He took the blood from the foot of the door and placed it on the top and on the sides of the door. After this was completed, the mother would take the lamb. Because it had to be roasted whole, with all the organs in it, they couldn’t just remove and throw the organs away. But, if you know anything about cooking meat, you know that you don’t want to cook that stuff inside the meat. You don’t want to get the taste from the organs into the meat. So they would take the intestines out and wrapped them around the head of the lamb. They took a stick after the lamb had been gutted and ran it up vertically up through the cut in the abdomen out its mouth and take another stick and run it horizontally across the ribs and put it upon the fire and roast it. They didn’t break any of the bones. They were careful not to do so because it had to be a perfect lamb.
What we have here is a picture of the crucifixion. The intestines wrapped around the head of the lamb, the father taking the blood at the foot of the door and applying it to the top and two sides, which is where Jesus head and hands were. You have this lamb being roasted upon two sticks forming a cross. Jesus Christ, the Lamb of God, who wore a crown of thorns was taken and put upon a cross. They pierced his hands and feet. They didn’t break any of His bones and He endured the fire of God’s wrath for sinners. After they had concluded roasting the lamb, they took it inside and they were to eat it in the evening. Keep in mind, the evening begins a new day on the Hebrew calendar. They killed the lamb on the 14th day of Aviv at 3pm in the afternoon. The sun goes down and now it is the 15th day of Aviv. What happens on the 15th day of Aviv? It is a holy Sabbath Day, a holy convocation, the beginning of the Feast of Unleavened Bread. So on the night beginning the 15th day of Aviv, this Passover meal was eaten. The meal centered on the lamb, eaten with unleavened bread, which is matzo, with bitter herbs.
God granted life to man in this first Passover through the death of a plant with the bitter herbs and the death of an animal, the lamb. A life for a life! Passover is about redemption, a life for a life. This first Passover was a rehearsal for the Messiah. When He would come, John the Baptist refers to Jesus as the Lamb of God that takes away the sins of the world. When Jesus is about to be delivered up by the elders of Israel to Pilot to die, Jesus enters into the temple or the house of God on the 10th day of the month of Aviv. In John 12:1, The Passover begins not on the 14th day of Aviv. That is the preparation day. The Passover meal was eaten in the evening that began the 15th day of Aviv. The Passover doesn’t begin until the 15th day. If Jesus was in Bethany six days before Passover, then he was in Bethany on the 9th day of Aviv. In John 12:12 it tells us that the next day after he was in Bethany, Jesus entered in what is called the triumphal entry or Palm Sunday. “On the next day much people that were come to the feast, when they heard that Jesus was coming to Jerusalem,” What day was it? It was 10th of Aviv. Jesus rides into the temple being hailed as the king. He is the lamb of God going into the house of God on the same day that the lamb was taken into the house of these families to be inspected. What happens after that? Jesus is in the temple teaching and He is being inspected of the elders, the Saducees, the Pharasees and the Herodians and Scribes. He is grilled with questions in an effort to try and trip Him up and catch Him in something to accuse Him. They make false accusations, they have an illegal trial and it all climaxes with Pilot saying, “I find no fault in Him.” He was found to be without spot or blemish or imperfection. He was the perfect male lamb.
Then what happens? The lamb was to be killed on the 14th day of Aviv. This day is called the day of preparation. John 19:31 “The Jews therefore, because it was the preparation, that the bodies should not remain upon the cross on the sabbath day, (for that sabbath day was an high day,) besought Pilate that their legs might be broken, and that they might be taken away.” Because the next day is going to be a high Sabbath, a holy convocation unto the Lord, the Jews didn’t want these people on the cross. Jesus was crucified, put on the cross on the day of preparation, which is the 14th day of Aviv. Mark 15:42 “And now when the even was come, because it was the preparation, that is, the day before the sabbath,” verifies this. Jesus too the letter and day fulfilled this first Passover.
On the night when the death angel was going through Egypt, can you imagine the scene that was happening? Many of the people were probably praying that Moses was right and that they did everything right as they were told to do and that their sons would live and not die. Surely they thanked God for the lamb, for providing a way of escape, that the lamb could be killed in the place of their first-born son or even in their own place. Thank God for Jesus the Messiah, who came and died and suffered and fulfilled the Passover Lamb that you and I might live.
Exodus 12:29-30 “And it came to pass, that at midnight the LORD smote all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, from the firstborn of Pharaoh that sat on his throne unto the firstborn of the captive that was in the dungeon; and all the firstborn of cattle. And Pharaoh rose up in the night, he, and all his servants, and all the Egyptians; and there was a great cry in Egypt; for there was not a house where there was not one dead.” Israel leaves that very night, the 15th of Aviv. (V.31-34) “And he called for Moses and Aaron by night, and said, Rise up, and get you forth from among my people, both ye and the children of Israel; and go, serve the LORD, as ye have said. Also take your flocks and your herds, as ye have said, and be gone; and bless me also. And the Egyptians were urgent upon the people, that they might send them out of the land in haste; for they said, We be all dead men. And the people took their dough before it was leavened, their kneadingtroughs being bound up in their clothes upon their shoulders.” They left that very night. What is the first thing they did? (V.37) “And the children of Israel journeyed from Rameses to Succoth, about six hundred thousand on foot that were men, beside children.” Why is this interesting? Because in Exodus 13:19 we read “And Moses took the bones of Joseph with him: for he had straitly sworn the children of Israel, saying, God will surely visit you; and ye shall carry up my bones away hence with you”. What is that telling us? That they went to Succoth, were Joseph the son of Jacob, who had been second only to Pharaoh, was buried. He was well known and probably given an elaborate tomb. The Israelites go there first and then they go on Etham where they camped (Exodus 13:20). “And they took their journey from Succoth, and encamped in Etham, in the edge of the wilderness.”
Joseph was a man hated by his brothers, cast into a pit, sold into slavery, falsely accused, rose to power. He revealed himself to his brothers when he chose to and extended mercy. Joseph is a shadow of Jesus. Jesus was hated by his brothers, the Jewish leaders, He was cast into a pit in the house of Chaiphas in Jerusalem, a dungeon that can be visited and seen today. He was falsely accused and tried illegally. Joseph rose to power to be second to Pharaoh, but Jesus has been given all authority over man and will return as the King of Kings and is second only to the Heavenly Father. Joseph in his authoritarian role had his brothers come to him, seeking help from him and they didn’t realize who He was. The Jews one day will realize who Jesus is, who their Messiah is and Jesus will not condemn them but he will extend mercy. Romans 11:26 “And so all Israel shall be saved.” So Joseph is a shadow of Jesus Christ.
Why did Pharaoh go after Israel?
In Exodus 14:5-6. “And it was told the king of Egypt that the people fled: and the heart of Pharaoh and of his servants was turned against the people, and they said, Why have we done this, that we have let Israel go from serving us? And he made ready his chariot, and took his people with him:” Why did he do this? He had just the night before told them to go three days journey into the wilderness to sacrifice to their God. He didn’t tell them that they could go to the promised land, Canaan. If he had known that, he would not have let them go. When God first spoke to Moses, He told him that He would bring the Israelites into the land of Canaan, but to tell Pharaoh to let them go three days journey to sacrifice to Him. Why? I think God had the plan but didn’t want the enemy, and remember that Pharaoh is a type of Satan, to know what His objective was. So He only told Pharaoh the first part of what He had planned. He led Pharaoh into a trap because He is going to lead Israel into a place where there were walls of stone on each side and a sea in front of them, with only one way in and one way out of where they were. They were in a place by the Red Sea where only God could save them, so that Pharaoh would come after them not knowing that He is being led into a trap to be destroyed. That is why I think God had Moses not tell Pharaoh the whole story but just the first part. God did this because Pharaoh had owned the people and if Pharaoh lived, the people of Israel would continue to be slaves to him. Therefore Pharaoh must die and be defeated. Pharaoh discovers that the people were going to flee Egypt. The first place they went was Succoth where Joseph’s bones were buried. It is very possible that Pharaoh’s people saw that this famous man, Joseph of Ramah, which means seat of idolatry, had had his tomb opened and his remains taken. It may have been recorded that Joseph gave commandment not to leave his bones in Egypt. That would have told Pharaoh that they were not just going three days journey into the wilderness but would then keep going to the Promised Land. So he gets his chariots and sets out to catch them.
Joseph of Egypt was now as Joseph of Ramah, which is a Hebrew word of seat of idolatry. Egypt was the seat of idolatry. If that is transliterated into Greek the title is Joseph of Aramathea. Who was this? When Jesus died, he was taken into a tomb owned by a man named Joseph of Aramathea, who was Jewish and if it was given in Hebrew, he would have been called, Joseph of Ramah, the town. What happened on that Easter Sunday morning? The devil, Satan, Lucifer who owned us, who owns the people in sin, on the third day, he knew that we were headed to the Promised Land because the tomb of Joseph of Ramah was empty, the bones were gone. There were no remains left in the grave, it was emptied. That is how Pharaoh knew they were headed to the Promised Land. That’s how the devil knew that he was defeated and the people of God were headed to the Promised Land because the grave was empty.
Pharaoh gets in his chariot and follows the people of Israel and finds them encamped on the Red Sea. Exodus 14:2 “Speak unto the children of Israel, that they turn and encamp before Pihahiroth, between Migdol and the sea, over against Baalzephon: before it shall ye encamp by the sea.” This is the night beginning the 17th day of the month of Aviv. The 15th they eat the Passover lamb and leave. The 16th of Aviv they camp at Etham and the night beginning the 17th they are at Pi-hahiroth, which means mouth of the gorges. The only way to get to this place where they encamped was to go through a canyon surrounded on both sides by high cliffs that led them to the sea, totally surrounded. This is where Pharaoh overtakes them. (V.3-9) “For Pharaoh will say of the children of Israel, They are entangled in the land, the wilderness hath shut them in. And I will harden Pharaoh's heart, that he shall follow after them; and I will be honoured upon Pharaoh, and upon all his host; that the Egyptians may know that I am the LORD. And they did so. And it was told the king of Egypt that the people fled: and the heart of Pharaoh and of his servants was turned against the people, and they said, Why have we done this, that we have let Israel go from serving us? And he made ready his chariot, and took his people with him: And he took six hundred chosen chariots, and all the chariots of Egypt, and captains over every one of them. And the LORD hardened the heart of Pharaoh king of Egypt, and he pursued after the children of Israel: and the children of Israel went out with an high hand. But the Egyptians pursued after them, all the horses and chariots of Pharaoh, and his horsemen, and his army, and overtook them encamping by the sea, beside Pihahiroth, before Baalzephon.” As Pharaoh draws close the Israelites begin to panic and cry out to the Lord. When Pharaoh overtakes them, they were in the mouth of the gorges. When we realize what is about to take place this is interesting. What begins to happen as Pharaoh draws close, the people cry out and Moses speaks in (V.13); “And Moses said unto the people, Fear ye not, stand still, and see the salvation of the LORD, which he will show to you to day: for the Egyptians whom ye have seen to day, ye shall see them again no more for ever.” Salvation is the Hebrew word, Yeshua, the name Jesus in Hebrew. Moses says, see the Yeshua of the Lord. As Moses says this, according to verses 19-20 the angel of God, which was before the camp of the people of God in a pillar of cloud moved to behind them and stood between them and the Egyptians. To the Egyptians it brought darkness but to the people of God it gave light. Why would they need light? Because they were getting ready to cross the Red Sea! They have encamped here the night beginning the 17th day of Aviv. God causes a strong east wind to blow all night, freezing the waters on each side of the Israelites and they went through on dry land. Recently some scientists reported that at this particular place we are talking about there is a land bridge submerged under water and that if a strong wing blew there it would be possible to blow this water back so that this submerged land bridge would become visible. We are fairly sure that we have found and know the place where the Israelites crossed the Red Sea, because of many evidences, including chariot wheels being found underwater there that are exactly as those of that time period in Egypt. We only know that by a breath from the nostrils of God, a strong east wind blew and separated the waters wide enough for about 2 million people to cross in one night. That would take a very wide area. They did this during the night of the 17th of Aviv while Pharaoh and his chariots were being held at bay by the angel of God. As the Israelites come up out of the water on the other side, the cloud is lifted so that Pharaoh is allowed to pursue them with his chariots, following into the Red Sea. (V.24-25) “And it came to pass, that in the morning watch the LORD looked unto the host of the Egyptians through the pillar of fire and of the cloud, and troubled the host of the Egyptians, And took off their chariot wheels, that they drave them heavily: so that the Egyptians said, Let us flee from the face of Israel; for the LORD fighteth for them against the Egyptians.” God confused them and caused their chariot wheels to fall off and they are left between these walls of water and this is taking place on the morning watch just before the dawn. (V.27-28) “And Moses stretched forth his hand over the sea, and the sea returned to his strength when the morning appeared; and the Egyptians fled against it; and the LORD overthrew the Egyptians in the midst of the sea. And the waters returned, and covered the chariots, and the horsemen, and all the host of Pharaoh that came into the sea after them; there remained not so much as one of them.” When was Pharaoh and the Egyptians destroyed? Not during the night by the morning of the 17th of Aviv. Why is that important?
Let us go back to the beginning
They killed the lamb on the 14th day, that night which began the 15th day they ate the lamb and left Egypt. If you count forward from the killing of the lamb on the 14th, 3 days, the morning of the 3rd day the Israelites come up out of the sea on the other side and as the morning broke God destroyed the person who had held them captive. On the 3rd day, in the early morning God destroyed Pharaoh, the person who had held them in slavery and bondage. On the morning of the 3rd day, Jesus rose from the tomb and crushed the head of the serpent and took the keys of death and hell away from him and released us who were held in bondage to sin, who were held by the curse of death hanging over our heads and did away with it and crushed the one who had owned us until that time. All this occurred on the same day. Even in the morning, this day when the Israelites came up on the other side, Moses had led them, the captives, into freedom. All that night preceding this morning he had led the captives into freedom. This would later become the Feast of Firstfuits. What did Paul say about Jesus? He is the firstfruits of the dead.
According to a Rabbinic sage who lived hundreds of years ago, said that the Exodus began on a Friday, the 15th day of Aviv. The crossing of the Red Sea occurred on the night of the 17th of Aviv and they came up on the sunrise of that 17th day. If they began on a Friday, then the 17th when they came up on the other side was a Sunday morning. That is the tradition handed down for centuries. That day would become the firstfruits. The evidence that Jesus was who He said He was is overwhelming.
Lets move ahead in time about 1500 years to the time of Jesus and talk about how they celebrated the Passover at that time and exactly how Jesus fulfilled certain things concerning the Passover during His time. After the Babylonian captivity when the Temple was destroyed and they rebuilt the Temple and Passover was revived. At this time they came out with some traditions, which remain until this day. One, the lamb could only be eaten in Jerusalem because the Temple was there. There is no Temple in Jerusalem today therefore we do not eat a lamb today. But at the time of Christ, the lamb could only be eaten in Jerusalem. Two, the Passover Seder, which means order, the order of the service started approximately 200 years before Christ. But at the time of Christ and before the destruction of the Temple in 70 AD it only told the story up to the lamb, to the killing of the lamb. What is interesting is that after the destruction of the Temple, God placed it upon the hearts of the Rabbis to expand the story and where the Seder stopped at the killing of the lamb before, it goes on to tell of the exodus from Egypt and how they went on to the Promised Land. That tells us that since the lamb has come we don’t have to stop there but we can go on and look forward to dwelling in the Promised Land. That is another story.
This feast was so popular, one of three feasts that every Jewish male was to come up to Jerusalem to keep. Josephus wrote that approximately 3 million people were at the Passover only 2-3 years before the destruction of the Temple. Keep in mind that this is the time that Jesus would be crucified and there were all these people here celebrating the Passover festival.
How did they celebrate? What were the customs that arose after that Babylonian captivity? First, beginning on the night that begins the 14th day of Aviv the first custom is the fast of the firstborn. They were to offer thanks for sparing the firstborn. The firstborn males of Jewish families would fast that day. If you remember when Jesus sat down with His disciples, He did not eat. He told them I want to eat this meal with you but I cannot eat it until it is fulfilled in the kingdom of God. Jesus was in a sense the firstborn of Mary, though not of Joseph.
The Search for Unleavened Bread
Another custom of the Passover is the search for leaven. On the evening before the Passover meal is eaten, the house is searched for leavened foods, for breads and things that would contains something that is sour. When bread becomes leavened a fermentation process takes place, a souring and the bread becomes fluffed up. This type of bread had to be removed from the house. Remember leaven is a picture of sin. On this night they are symbolically removing sin from their homes. This was another celebration on the same night, the 14th of Aviv. What they would do when they searched for the leaven was the mother who has been spending days cleaning the house, even some use a different set of cooking utensils, would search the homes for leaven. She was the primary one. When the sun went down and the 14th of Aviv began, the father would take the children and go through the house with a candle, a wooden spoon and possible a feather. They would go looking through the house to find leaven that had been purposely left. This was all symbolic. And they would go and remove the leaven from their house. They would say a prayer over it. The next morning they would take it out to the side of the house and burn it. After Jesus has supper with His disciples, He goes out of the city, across the brook called Kidron into the Garden to Pray. Judas leads the chief priest and some soldiers out into the night and they come out with torches and staves or clubs looking for Jesus. They are looking for the leaven. Jesus went into the Garden and He prayed a prayer and the Bible says, He who knew no sin or He who knew no leaven, became leaven for us. Here we have the search for the leaven identified.
The day of the 14th of Aviv, the sun has come up and the day has begun and it is the day of preparation. This is what is going to happen. The sacrifices are going to be made on this day. They will be preparing for the meal they will eat that night.
The Pascal Lamb
There were two different types of sacrifices on this day. There was the sacrifice that the family made. A family might be 10, 15 or even 20 people. Then there was a public sacrifice, one representing the entire nation. The Pascal Lamb was that sacrifice representing the entire nation. This lamb was paraded from the mount of olives, across a ramp that crossed the Kidron valley, taken into the Eastern Gate on the 10th day of Aviv. Here is what they did as they led this lamb across the Kidron valley. They took palm branches and went before this lamb and behind it, waving the palm branches and sing a Psalm 118. Let me read beginning with V.14. “The LORD is my strength and song, and is become my salvation.” The word there is Yeshua. (V.15-19) “The voice of rejoicing and salvation is in the tabernacles of the righteous: the right hand of the LORD doeth valiantly. The right hand of the LORD is exalted: the right hand of the LORD doeth valiantly. I shall not die, but live, and declare the works of the LORD. The LORD hath chastened me sore: but he hath not given me over unto death. Open to me the gates of righteousness: I will go into them, and I will praise the LORD:” They are going into the Easter Gate now. (V.20-21) “This gate of the LORD, into which the righteous shall enter. I will praise thee: for thou hast heard me, and art become my salvation.” My Yeshua! (V.22) “The stone which the builders refused is become the head stone of the corner.” Jesus will talk about that scripture in a couple of days. (V.23-27) “This is the LORD'S doing; it is marvellous in our eyes. This is the day which the LORD hath made; we will rejoice and be glad in it. Save now, I beseech thee, O LORD: O LORD, I beseech thee, send now prosperity. Blessed be he that cometh in the name of the LORD: we have blessed you out of the house of the LORD. God is the LORD, which hath showed us light: bind the sacrifice with cords, even unto the horns of the altar.” This is a key verse. This is what they sang as they led this lamb into the Eastern Gate from the mount of olives. Verse 25 says, “Save now, I beseech thee, O LORD:” Then they said, “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.” Get a picture of this. What is going on. On the 10th day they lead this lamb into the Temple that will be kept in the temple and inspected by all of Israel until the 14th day of Aviv when it will be tied to the horns of the altar at 9am in the morning. Three o’clock that afternoon, between the evenings, it will be killed by the High Priest. When the High Priest slays the Pascal Lamb, He will say, “It is finished,” signifying that this was the final sacrifice of the preparation day. Matthew 21:6-11 They were quoting Psalm 118. The Psalm just sung for this lamb taken across the Kidron Valley. As one group is taking this lamb that was going to be killed for the sacrifice of all of Israel and at this same time, Jesus of Nazareth tops the mount of olives and looks upon all this, His followers were there, people who heard and knew that He raise Lazarus from the dead, people who know that He has healed blinded eyes and who have hailed Him as the Messiah as the King of Israel turn and see the lamb of God and are inspired by the Holy Spirit and the scriptures to realize that this is the one who has fulfilled the very sacrifice that they are here to celebrate. They sing, Hosanna, Hosanna. Blessed is He that comes in the name of the Lord and they welcome the Lamb of God and on the very day that the Pascal Lamb is led into the Temple the Lamb of God follows it into the Temple. Can you see this and how God pays attention to His Word and how He sees that every jot and tittle will be fulfilled? Jesus followed the same path of the Pascal Lamb on the very same day. Jesus is in the Temple teaching for four days after that and being inspected of the leaders and the people just as the lamb is being inspected. The lamb was tied to the horns of the Altar at 9am, Jesus was tied to the cross on the same mountain at about 9am in the morning. Both await death for 6 hours and at 3pm the High Priest this year, who was Caipais, kills the Pascal Lamb and says, “It is finished.” At that same time, the Lamb of God speaks those same words and gives up the ghost. Who could cause that to happen but God. If you have ever doubted that Jesus Christ was who He said He was, no man can make these things happen and plan these things out. No man could plan to be born of a virgin. No man could plan for all the prophecies to be fulfilled by his coming. No man could plan to fulfill the Passover unless He was God.
The sacrifice of the individual family was the festival or peace offering. It might be a lamb or a goat and some sources say that it could even have been a bird, as a dove. But in most cases, families would get together and would have a lamb and keep that lamb for their sacrifice. To remind them of the first Passover, the head of that family, the father of that family had to take the lamb into the Temple and he would kill it himself. The priests or Levites would be standing there with a vessel to catch the blood and would pour the blood upon the altar and the priest would take it and place it upon the altar to be burned, but the father or the host would actually do the killing. He would slay the animal, even in the times of Jesus. This lamb had become a pet lamb to his family and children. They had kept it, fed it, watched it and inspected it. It was as a pet to them.
Each family when they kept the Passover, it was a custom that they make a nameplate with their family name and they placed it around the neck and shoulders of that lamb. This was to represent them telling God, “God, we have kept the Passover. We have kept the festival that you commanded.” They would take the lamb and slay it. Jesus was brought to be killed. It was the Father who willed it to be so. Jesus prayed, not my will, but thine be done. It was the Father’s will for Jesus to go to the cross. So the father is presenting the lamb to be killed. When John calls Jesus the Lamb of God, the word that he uses emphasizes the pet lamb, my favorite lamb. When Jesus was taken to the cross and placed upon the cross, Pilot had a superscription placed upon the cross upon which was written, “Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews.” It was written in Greek, Latin and Hebrew. It was the custom in those days and to some extent today to make words by taking the first letter of each word and dropping it down. Those with a catholic background can look at a crucifix and see the letters INRI. That is the Latin phrase for Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews. The I is the first letter for Jesus, the N is the first letter in Nazareth, the R from Rex, which means king and the I from the first letter of the word for Jews. The Hebrews did that. From the Hebrew Phrase for Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews and drop down the first letters you get what is know as the unspeakable name of God or the tetragramaton. We would say Yahway or Jehovah. It was a name for God that was not to be uttered by anyone but the High Priest. So as Jesus is upon a cross and this superscription is there, these scribes and priests are looking upon this man whom they had killed by delivering him up to Pilot to be crucified and they see the name of God hanging over Jesus and they complain to the soldiers and Pilot said, What I have written, I have written. Pilot had no choice. God was going to show that this is my Lamb. This was the lamb that He had provided that all might find redemption and escape bondage. Jesus fulfilled that family sacrifice, that Peace Offering sacrifice.
Other Elements of the Passover
Now we will look at some of the other elements of the Passover and understand that these are not things which have just came about in the past few hundred years, but elements used and traditions used before or during the time of Christ. It is very probably that as Jesus sat down with His disciples, these very things were being used as today.
Beginning with the Matzo or unleavened Bread
This bead was cooked without leaven. When they made it, they cooked it very quickly because if they let it sit too long a souring or fermentation process would begin and leaven would result. It is very similar to the communion wafers today. It is very bland tasting and not appealing to the taste. That is because there is no leaven. Secondly, it is pierced to retard the fermentation process. In Jesus day they would cook it on a grill or griddle device. They would take sharp instruments and pierce it and put little holes in it. Also, because it was cooked on a grill, it was stripped. If you have ever seen matzo bread has holes and is striped. This is done even today and it is traditional for the matzo to have holes and stripes because that is the way it looked and was in the days of old. During the time of Christ, three matzo or three pieces of unleavened bread were used.
Why were their three pieces of matzo? There are four theories among the Jews concerning this. First, the matzo represents the two loaves of the Sabbath bread and the third for the joyous nature of the Passover holiday. That doesn’t make sense. Two, the matzo represents the priest, the Levites and the Israelites. The third theory is that the three matzos represent Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. The fourth theory is that the three matzos represent the three angels that appeared to Abraham in Genesis chapter 18. Let’s look at this theory. The theory most accepted by the priests today is that they represent the priests, the Levites and the Israelites. The other is that it represents the three patriarchs. Why, during the Seder would you break the second piece of matzo if it represented the Levites? Or if it represented the three patriarchs’, why would you break the piece representing Isaac? The three angels that appeared to Abraham in Genesis 18 seem to make the most sense. Look at Genesis 18:1. “And the LORD appeared unto him in the plains of Mamre: and he sat in the tent door in the heat of the day.” The Lord appears to Abraham, so at least one of these angels is the Lord. There are many similarities in this story with the Passover story itself. (V.6) “And Abraham hastened into the tent unto Sarah, and said, Make ready quickly three measures of fine meal, knead it, and make cakes upon the hearth.” The key word here is quickly. There are three measures of fine meal made quickly, so they would not have time to ferment, so they would be unleavened bread. And they were made upon the hearth or grill which would put stripes upon them. (V.7) “And Abraham ran unto the herd, and fetched a calf tender and good, and gave it unto a young man; and he hasted to dress it.” It was a young, yet mature calf. Good tells you that it was without blemish or imperfection. The Hebrew word for ‘dress’ is used referring to a sacrifice or to keep Passover. That is one of the definitions of the word for dress, which is very interesting. It is believed that this occurrence happened about this same time of the year in the spring. One book says that it is believed that it was on the 15th day of Aviv that Abraham saw the three angels, which visited him and in which he killed the calf and Sarah made the three cakes. This is believed by the Jews to have occurred on Passover.
Genesis 18:2 “And he lift up his eyes and looked, and, lo, three men stood by him: and when he saw them, he ran to meet them from the tent door, and bowed himself toward the ground.” Why would Abraham bow down to the ground before them? Doing a close word study you find that what Abraham did was to literally throw himself down upon the ground in an act of worship. (V.3) “And said, My Lord, if now I have found favour in thy sight, pass not away, I pray thee, from thy servant.” The Hebrew word used here for Lord is 'Adonay, ad-o-noy', the emphatic form of 'adown, aw-done, which is only used as a name for God and literally means “My Lord”. Notice that both of the words are capitalized. So it is very apparent that one of the angels was not an angel at all, but the pre-incarnate Christ, God almighty. It is the same word used by David in Psalm 100:1 “The LORD said unto my Lord, Sit thou at my right hand, until I make thine enemies thy footstool.” The first Lord is Yehovah, yeh-ho-vaw, the Father and the second, the ‘my Lord’ is 'adown, aw-done'. Some think that thee three angels were the three members of the trinity, but that is an opinion that cannot be substantiated, though we do not know. God can do whatever He wants. But at least one of these angels had to have been the Son of God. With that in mind, going back to the theory that the three matzos represent these three angels, that makes sense as to why there are three matzos in the Passover Seder. The second, which is broken, represents Jesus, the Son of God, who was broken for us. Also, there is a promise of life in this passage. Genesis 18:10 “And he said, I will certainly return unto thee according to the time of life; and, lo, Sarah thy wife shall have a son. And Sarah heard it in the tent door, which was behind him.” A new life and new beginning is promised. If this did occur on the 15th of Aviv that would tie this to the Passover and redemption – a starting over. This all fits into the pattern of things and so it is my opinion that the three matzos do really represent these three angels, if not the trinity itself, The Father, The Son and The Holy Spirit. Actually, I believe the three pieces of bread do represent the trinity, however, the Jews who do not accept Christ as the Messiah and second person of the trinity, do not consider this option so it is not one of their four theories concerning the three pieces of matzo bread used in the Seder meal.
The middle matzo in Hebrew means the bread of affliction. Jesus was born in a town called Bethlehem, or house of bread. The middle matzo, the bread of affliction (Isaiah 53) is without leaven. 1Corinthians 5 tells us to purge out the old leaven, it has a bland taste. Isaiah 53 said there was no beauty that we should desire him. Psalm 22 says he was pierced. Zech 12 says they, which pierced him, will look upon him. This middle piece of matzo is broken and wrapped in a linen cloth and buried, hidden away and it stays hidden away during the service. Later it will come back into the service, it will be resurrected if you will. It is now known, not as the bread of affliction but as the affacomen. Because there is no temple in Jerusalem, there is no lamb used in the modern day Seder. That broken piece of matzo comes back and takes on and represents the Passover lamb. In fact, a prayer is prayed that God would recognize this piece of matzo as replacing the Passover lamb. This takes place after it is resurrected or brought back to the Seder. Jesus, when He took the bread, said; “this is my body which is broken for you” And he took and broke the bread. Jesus was buried and rose again and now we don’t have the Passover lamb, but when we remember Jesus and the Passover of Calvary, we partake of the bread. There is no longer any need for a lamb to be sacrificed. So when we do this as a memorial to remember the Lord, we take the bread that now represents that lamb and eat.
Another element in the Seder is the bitter herbs. There is what is usually a piece of parsley, that is dipped into saltwater and eaten. The saltwater is to remind them of the tears during the years of their slavery. What is interesting is that when you dip the parsley into the saltwater and eat it, it can remind you of the hyssop, dipped into vinegar and mingled with gall that was given to Jesus to drink while He was upon the cross, which He refused to drink. Horseradish is eaten. That can bring tears to your eyes. This reminds us of Jesus, of His humanity. How He wept over Jerusalem, how He wept at the tomb of Lazarus, how He wept for the people. There are several other herbs which can be substituted and eaten for these, but these are the ones primarily used today.
Of course today, Christian Jews when partaking of the Passover meal, the Seder, use unfermented wine, the pure grape of the vine or grape juice. But during the Seder and it was the same in Jesus day, there were four cups of wine. The cup of sanctification, the cup to set aside and sanctify the holiday. This is the cup that Jesus took in Luke 22:17-18. “And he took the cup, and gave thanks, and said, Take this, and divide it among yourselves: For I say unto you, I will not drink of the fruit of the vine, until the kingdom of God shall come.” The second cup was the cup of affliction. The third cup was called the cup of redemption. This is the cup that comes after supper, after the eating of the bread. Luke 22:20 “Likewise also the cup after supper, saying, This cup is the new testament in my blood, which is shed for you.” This cup represents the New Testament. In Psalm 116:13 “I will take the cup of salvation, and call upon the name of the LORD.” The Hebrew word translated salvation is yeshuw'ah, yesh-oo'-aw. The Hebrew word translated Lord is Yehovah, yeh-ho-vaw'. Then it says that when Jesus took the cup, He gave thanks. During the Seder, when you are going to take of the cup or eat, you always say a blessing over it. They say in the Hebrew over the cup that which is translated into English as “Blessed are you O Lord, our God, king of the universe, who creates the fruit of the vine.” This is the cup of the New Covenant. Jesus is going to shed His blood that we might be redeemed. When you take the cup today and bless it, even today you are blessing the one who brings forth the fruit of the vine. Who is the vine? Jesus, later this very night according to John, said; “I am the vine, you are the branches.” What grows on the branches? The fruit! So when you lift up this cup and bless it, when Jesus lifted it up and blessed it, He was prophesying and thanking God that through the blood of the New Covenant, that one day because of His death, because of the shedding of His blood, that the vine and the branches would bring forth fruit unto the maker, unto the one who created that vine. That blessing is still true today. We can bless the one who has created and made the vine and who has allowed us to be grafted into that vine. We today can bring forth the fruit and present it unto our God and creator.
The fourth cup
There is some debate upon it. It can be called the cup of deliverance or it is sometimes referred to as the cup of Elijah. We will refer to it as the cup of Elijah. Micah 4:5 God would send Elijah before the time of the Messianic redemption. Now it is the belief that Elijah will come at the time of Passover to announce the Messiah. During the Seder, a door is opened and symbolically and traditionally a young child will go to the door and look outside to see if Elijah the Prophet is appearing. That is done to this day. We know that John the Baptist came in the spirit of Elijah. He preceded Jesus and prepared the way for Him. We can see in the scriptures that John the Baptist was born on or around the time of the Passover, 6 months before Jesus was born. He fulfilled the role of Elijah in Jesus first coming. But Jesus is going to come again. So who will be sent to precede Jesus’ second coming? Who will precede the Messiah’s second coming. Today the Christian Jews believe this will be the literal man Elijah who was taken up to heaven on a chariot of fire; that has never died physically, never tasted of death. So Messianic Jews believe he will be one of the two witnesses of Revelation who will herald the Messiah, which will take place at the end of the Tribulation period when Jesus Christ comes again.
Now lets go back to Joseph, the son of Jacob, who was a type and shadow of Jesus Christ. There is a belief in some circles of Judaism that there will be two Messiah’s. There will be one called Messiah ben Jospeh, the son of Joseph and another called Messiah ben David, the son of David. Messiah ben Joseph is also known as Messiah ben Ephriam, one of the sons of Joseph. This Messiah will be a servant who will be killed. Messiah ben David will be a military ruler who will sit upon the throne of David. Now, you look at Jesus’ first coming and you see that He was a servant and He was killed. Now they expect Him to return as ruler and to sit upon the throne of David. Joseph was the first son of Rachael. His name means God will add” implying that there is more to come. Jesus was the son of an earthly man named Joseph (by adoption) and he completed His mission for His first coming but God was implying that there is more to come. The second son of Rachael was named Ben… but Jacob changed his name to Benjamin, which means the son of my right hand. So when Jesus returns as the son of David, who will rule and reign, He will be the son of the right hand, He is upon the right hand of God Almighty at this very time. So, we can see that Jesus in His first and second coming identifies with this concept in Judaism of the two Messiah’s. Messiah ben Joseph, the servant who would be killed is also called Messiah ben Ephriam. When Jesus heals Lazarus in John 11, He leaves the city of Bethany and goes to a city called Ephraim. John 11:54 “Jesus therefore walked no more openly among the Jews; but went thence unto a country near to the wilderness, into a city called Ephraim, and there continued with his disciples.” So when Jesus comes back to Jerusalem, He goes through Jericho, but His journey begins to Jerusalem from the city of Ephraim. His earthly father was named Joseph and He is coming as a servant who will be killed. So there are a lot of parallels.
In the Passover season in Jesus day, we have seen some of the customs and traditions that were practiced and how Jesus identified with and fulfilled them. How He fulfilled the cups of wine and the matzo, the unleavened bread and the bitter herbs and the lamb. In John 12, as Jesus is entering Jerusalem on the 10th day of Aviv, he says something very interesting. John 12:24 “Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone: but if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit.” Remember, Passover before the Exodus was the time of year that the firstfruits of the harvest came in. usually the Barley harvest. IT was a time of celebration and God identified this historical event with this seasonal celebration. Jesus said something that will connect Passover with another festival. The barley harvest is coming in during the time of Passover, the first Sunday after Passover has begun is what became know as firstfruits when they brought their offering of firstfruits of the earth to God. That is what happened to Jesus. He was the firstfruits of the dead, resurrected on the day of the firstfruit celebration and ascended to God and presented Himself to God in a resurrected body. He was the firstfruits of the dead. That naturally implies that there are more fruits to follow, more harvest. The Rabbis saw this. They saw and taught that liberation without law was not good. Passover, the redemption, the deliverance, the liberty was good but it was not good and perfected until the giving of the Law at Mount Sinai. When did that take place? It took place on the day we call Pentecost today. They call it Shavot, which means weeks. Fifty days following the festival of firstfruit, comes what is called Pentecost. Pentecost is the celebration of the firstfruits of the wheat harvest. To connect these two festivals together, the Rabbis came up with what is called the counting of the omer. They would count from the firstfruits of the barley harvest, which occurred during Passover, 50 days until Shavot, or Pentecost. So Rabbis saw these two festivals as being connected and even combined them together to go so far as to say that Pentecost was the ending or the conclusion of Passover. Jesus says that unless a corn of wheat falls into the ground and dies, it will abide alone. But if it dies, it will bring forth fruit. Jesus was that corn of wheat that went into the ground and die. He comes up out of the ground on firstfruits, 50 days later, because of His death, the Spirit of God is poured out on the early church on the day of Pentecost, the firstfruits of the wheat harvest. So by Jesus going into the ground and dying, He is bringing forth the fruit that manifests itself on the day of Pentecost when the church is born, thus tying the birth of the church to the time of Passover. That is what we have been trying to get across and for everyone to understand. The church, the roots of the church are in Passover, a Jewish celebration. The roots of the church are in Jerusalem. The church was born out of Christ’s suffering at the time of Passover. This season is called Easter, or Resurrection Sunday, or Passover. This is where it all started. Your roots don’t go to Washington, DC; Cleveland, Tennessee; Springfield, Missouri; Rome, Italy; London, England or anywhere else, but back to Jerusalem, Israel about 2000 years ago when a man from Nazareth came to Jerusalem and died upon a Roman cross and went into the grave and was resurrected the following Sunday morning. His followers, receiving the spirit of God went out and preached the gospel of Jesus Christ and changed the world, turned the world upside down by the testimony of unbelievers.
Romans 2:28-29 “For he is not a Jew, which is one outwardly; neither is that circumcision, which is outward in the flesh: But he is a Jew, which is one inwardly; and circumcision is that of the heart, in the spirit, and not in the letter; whose praise is not of men, but of God.” If you have the blood of the lamb applied to your life and you have been circumcised in your heart, the Word of God says that you are a Jew. You have been grafted into that vine and blessed with the privilege of hearing the gospel of the Jewish Messiah, the savior of the world, Jesus Christ. When we get to heaven and can stand before God, the Bible says that when we worship we will say, “worthy is the lamb who was slain before the foundation of the world.” Jesus, before we ever existed, made up His mind to become that spotless and pure lamb to die for our sins.