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Should New Testament Christians
Keep The Passover?
In the Old Testament book of Leviticus chapter 23,
God inspired these words to be written.
1 "And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying,
2 "Speak unto the children of Israel, and say unto them, Concerning the feasts of the LORD, which ye shall proclaim to be holy convocations, even these are my feasts.
4 "These are the feasts of the LORD, even holy convocations, which ye shall proclaim in their seasons.
5 "In the fourteenth day of the first month at even is the LORD'S passover.
11 "And he shall wave the sheaf before the LORD, to be accepted for you: on the morrow after the sabbath the priest shall wave it.
12 "And ye shall offer that day when ye wave the sheaf an he lamb without blemish of the first year for a burnt offering unto the LORD.
13 "And the meat (meal) offering thereof shall be two tenth deals of fine flour mingled with oil, an offering made by fire (cooked) unto the LORD for a sweet savour: and the drink offering thereof shall be of wine (oinos-real fermented wine), the fourth part of an hin.
14 "And ye shall eat neither bread, nor parched corn, nor green ears, until the selfsame day that ye have brought an offering unto your God: it shall be a statute for ever throughout your generations in all your dwellings."
I hope you have noticed that God says these Feasts are HIS! They are not feasts of the Jews or of anyone else. They are God's Feast Days.
He also makes a very definitive statement in verse 14 and says they are to be observed FOR EVER!! How could this be? Most religions teach that the Old Testament was "done away" and these "old laws" are for the long ago and far away, or "just for the Jews." It is odd that God says they are for "the children of Israel" and doesn't mention "the Jews" at all.
What most people don't realize, or really question, is who is Israel. Israel is the name God gave to Jacob after he had persevered in asking a blessing from God. All the children that Jacob/Israel had were then, of course, children of Israel. Only one of them was Judah.
One of the feasts mentioned in the scriptures above is the Passover. It was the first feast of the year, coming in the first month of the year as designated by God Himself.
Most religious people not only reject the Old Testament, claiming to be "New Testament Christians," but they also dismiss all the feasts of God as "those old holy days." They claim they were done away along with the weekly Sabbath and the Old Testament.
What they don't admit, or say, is that Jesus and His Apostles, and disciples, kept all those days and were very careful to do so! The Apostle John was still preaching the Sabbath and Holy Days observance at least 60 years after the death of Christ. The people who claim that all those things are "done away" use every argument imaginable to get rid of them.
What they can't get rid of are the words in the scriptures above that say they were to be observed FOR EVER!!! Those words MEAN, "time without end." They mean FOR EVER.
There is another side to this story that I want to talk about in this article. Even those people, who religiously keep the Holy Days, are still in disagreement as to HOW and WHEN to keep them.
The Passover is one of those days that leads to much disagreement, because Jesus observed an evening, which He called the Passover, on the evening of the Fourteenth of Nisan (which was Abib in Old Testament times). In order to try to justify the keeping of the Passover on the Fourteenth of Nisan, people now try to set the Old Testament Passover on the same day as the New Testament Passover.
However, THEY WERE TWO UNIQUE, SEPARATE, NEVER BEFORE KEPT, OBSERVANCES. They WERE NOT the same things!!!
In order to explain and try to eliminate some of the confusion surrounding the OT Passover and the NT Passover, we need to look at each in a separate light (so to speak).
In Exodus 12 God commands Moses:
1 "And the LORD spake unto Moses and Aaron in the land of Egypt, saying,
2 "This month shall be unto you the beginning of months: it shall be the first month of the year to you (Abib).
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:
4 "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.
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:
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.
7 "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.
8 "And they shall eat the flesh in that night, roast with fire, and unleavened bread; and with bitter herbs they shall eat it.
9 "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.
10 "And ye shall let nothing of it remain until the morning; and that which remainethe morning ye shall burn with fire.
11 "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.
12 "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.
13 "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.
14 "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."
The Children of Israel were to choose from their flocks a lamb or goat kid up to a year old that would have to be without blemish. They were to "keep it up" until the fourteenth DAY and then kill it "in the evening." There is where the problem seems to be. The word DAY in the above scripture is not in italics and is therefore in the original scripture. It is referring to the daylight portion of the fourteenth of Abib.
According to the Hebrew language, the phrase "in the evening" should have been translated as "between the TWO evenings." God established what a day was to be, by the scriptures in Genesis chapter One. According to God, a day begins at sunset and goes until the next sunset, with the night portion of the whole day preceding the daylight portion. According to the way this society keeps time, the "day" starts at midnight and goes until the following midnight. This has caused some confusion about various scriptures from time to time that aren't even related to the Passover.
At any rate, the fourteenth of Abib began at sunset and continued until the following sunset that began the fifteenth day. The fourteenth was the day the Passover lamb (or kid) was to be killed, and it was to be done "between the two evenings."
Some have asked why the lamb was to be put up from the 10th to the 14th of the month. Scripture doesn't say directly but my personal thinking is this: To take a sweet little lamb or goat kid and take care of it carefully for 5 days would cause the people to become VERY fond of that little animal and to LOVE it dearly. They would also have to reflect upon the fact that this was THE MOST EXPENSIVE and BEST lamb in their flock. It was an unblemished animal of the first year.
So here the people had to choose their MOST PERFECT lamb or kid and live with it closely, making sure it wasn't damaged in any way, then KILL it as a sacrifice on the fourteenth DAY. They were then to drain all of the blood of that little lamb into a basin and paint it on the doorposts and lintel of their house. This observance was a unique, one-of-a-kind, one time event that was not repeated in the memorials kept after this.
This was to cause them to realize HOW EXPENSIVE and HOW DEAR this sacrifice was to them! For more on this subject read the article "Works of the Law" in our last newsletter issue.
It was said in the above scriptures, the sacrifice was to be made "between the two evenings." Some have taught two evenings in one, saying that one evening was "at sunset" and the second was "at dark". Many scholars and theologians have disagreed with this. The Jewish Historian Lightfoot said that the evening of the fourteenth was from noon to sunset on the fourteenth. That fits with New Testament scripture where God caused darkness over the land beginning at noon until the ninth hour (3 p.m.) because Jesus, our sacrifice was hanging on the stake and almost dead.
Mt 27:45 "Now from the sixth hour there was darkness over all the land unto the ninth hour.
Mr 15:33 "And when the sixth hour was come, there was darkness over the whole land until the ninth hour.
At the ninth hour, a soldier shoved a spear into Jesus side (John 19:34) and Jesus' blood - and water- drained from His body just like the blood was drained from that Passover Lamb during that OT Passover sacrifice.
When God added a sacrificial law to the Israelites, because they were transgressing His Ten Commandments, there were two sacrifices each day, one in the morning and one in the evening. The evening sacrifices started about 1:30 p.m. and continued until completed. This was usually around 3 or 4 p.m. in the afternoon.
This incident also parallels the time of that first unique sacrifice. The Original Passover was killed on the afternoon of the fourteenth of Abib, between the previous evening (beginning the 14th) and the evening of the fifteenth - i.e. between the two evenings. Doesn't that make sense? The lamb was slain between the evening of the fourteenth and the evening of the fifteenth. That understanding is simple and straight-forward and points out also the "simplicity which is in Christ Jesus."
The Passover was killed on the afternoon of the fourteenth and was eaten after sunset the evening of the fifteenth as God commanded. They ate it in haste because they were going to be "thrust out" of Egypt "by night". (Ex. 12:31, 39; Deut. 16:1).
After they had eaten that Passover meal and burned anything that was left, the death angel passed through the land of Egypt AT MIDNIGHT and killed every first-born person in Egypt except those in houses protected by the blood. The death angel PASSED OVER the houses that had the lamb's blood on the doorposts and lintels, sparing those inside who were first-born. Pharaoh then rose up IN THE NIGHT and called for Moses and Aaron who could leave their homes after the passing of the Death Angel and go to Pharaoh.
Pharaoh COMMANDED Moses to take all the children of Israel and LEAVE immediately!! All the Egyptian people were insistent that they go, also! They were THRUST out of Egypt without having time to leaven their flour and meal. AND THEN WERE THE DAYS OF UNLEAVENED BREAD! Beginning with that Passover meal, the Israeli people ate unleavened bread for seven days. It was a time of coming out of sin, of which Egypt was a type.
Now we come to the New Testament
Before the observance of the Old Testament Passover, called the Jews' Passover by John, Jesus told His disciples to go search out a particular house and prepare the Passover.
Lu 22:8 "And he sent Peter and John, saying, Go and prepare us the passover, that we may eat."
Jesus was going to have a Passover meal with His disciples. Did they wonder about eating the Passover early? The scriptures do not say. Did they have lamb? The scriptures do not say. However, the Passover lamb would not be killed until the next afternoon at the time of the evening sacrifice, and Jesus knew HE would be dying at that time so it is very POSSIBLE and PROBABLE He and His disciples did NOT eat lamb at that meal. He knew He would not be able to eat the O.T. Passover (the Jews' Passover) with everyone else because He would be dead, sacrificed as "our Passover" (I Co. 5:7) at the same time the sacrificial animals were being killed. Scripture shows He was placed upon the STAKE (stauros in the Greek, meaning an upright pale), not a "crux" or cross as most people believe, at about the third hour (nine a.m.).
Jesus told His disciples:
Lu 22:15 "And he said unto them, With desire I have desired to eat this passover with you before I suffer:"
Was it a Passover? Jesus said it was! I choose to believe HIM rather than any preacher or theologian of today! Was it "the Last Supper?" IT WAS FOR HIM!!! It truly was Jesus' last supper. It was NOT the disciples last supper! What night was it on? The night of the fourteenth, because the next afternoon the priests would be killing the Passover lambs (beginning the observance of the Old Testament Passover-the Jews' Passover) in order for everyone to eat the Passover meal on the evening of the fifteenth after sunset! (Remember, days start at sunset.)
During this time, He took some of the bread and broke it, telling the disciples to eat a piece. It was to represent His beaten and broken body (although none of His bones were broken). He also poured wine (REAL wine - Oinos - fermented wine) into a cup and told His disciples to drink some of it and said it was His blood that was shed for the forgiveness of sin. All these were symbolic of His body and blood.
27 "And he took the cup, and gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying, Drink ye all of it;
28 "For this is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins."
As the meal was being completed, Jesus got up, tied a towel around His waist, took a bowl of water and began to wash His disciples feet. After some hassle with Peter, He asked them if they knew what He had done.
They did not know, of course, so He said:
Jo 13:14 "If I then, your Lord and Master, have washed your feet; ye also ought to wash one another's feet.
15 "For I have given you an example, that ye should do as I have done to you.
16 "Verily, verily, I say unto you, The servant is not greater than his lord; neither he that is sent greater than he that sent him.
17 "If ye know these things, happy are ye if ye do them."
This was a totally NEW observance. It was NOT the OT Passover that He was observing! He did not CHANGE the symbols (as some have taught)! He instituted a NEW, UNIQUE observance that was to be kept as a memorial to His death UNTIL He RETURNED. (I Co 11:26)
The OT Passover was a prophecy pointing to an ULTIMATE sacrifice that would allow God to forgive sin upon the repentance of the sinner.
We need to realize there was nothing in the OT Passover observance that even pointed to this NEWLY COMMANDED observance of the NEW TESTAMENT PASSOVER.
Some have called it The Lord's Supper and AT THE TIME Christ observed it, it was.
Paul made the statement:
I Co 11:20 "When ye come together therefore into one place, this is not to eat the Lord's Supper."
The marginal reference says, "You cannot eat the Lord's Supper." Yes, Jesus ate His Supper, and then instituted a new, never before kept observance. It was The New Testament Passover. This was NOT a meal observance!
Paul said Christ was our Passover (1 Co. 5:7) and that was what He instituted in symbols that evening. He became our Passover by shedding His blood and dying for our sins.
Yes, the OT Passover pointed to the death of Jesus Christ on that stake as OUR Passover, and taught Israel they were to "come out of sin" which was typified by coming out of Egypt. The Days of Unleavened Bread after Passover pictured coming out of sin.
Should Christians keep the New Testament Passover? If Jesus is their Savior, they should! Otherwise, they miss ALL the deep meanings of His Death and might possibly lose out on eternal life. It is that cleansing blood that Jesus shed for us (as He was without sin) that covers us and gives us the privilege of coming directly to the Father with our petitions and prayers of repentance. That gift of eternal life is because of that covering blood.
Don't you think you should consider
keeping that special observance?