Editor’s Note – Please scroll all the way to the bottom for an important message regarding HaDavar.
As we enter this Passover season let’s take a look again at what makes the Passover such a rich time of remembrance.
Passover begins on the 14th day of the Jewish month of Nisan (April 10, 2017). The primary observances of Passover are related to the Exodus from Egypt after generations of slavery. The command to observe Passover continuously is found in Exodus 12:14 . “Now this day will be a memorial to you, and you shall celebrate it as a feast to the Lord; throughout your generations you are to celebrate it as a permanent ordinance.”
In the first Passover, God commanded each Hebrew household in Egypt to sacrifice a perfect yearling lamb and sprinkle the blood on the lintels and the doorposts. The Lord then passed over the houses which were protected by the blood of the lamb, but where there was no blood, the first born was slain. This account is found in Exodus 11-12.
Modern Passover observances include the removal of chametz (leaven) from the homes. This commemorates the fact that the Jews leaving Egypt did not have time to let their bread rise. Leaven is also a biblical symbol for sin. Consequently, Matzo or unleavened bread is eaten during the feast.
Another significant element in the Passover observance is the five cups of wine. Each cup recalls one of the five statements of deliverance found in the Passover account (Ex. 6:6-8 ). 1) “I will bring you out …” 2) “I will rid you of all their bondage.” 3) “I will redeem you …” 4) “I will take you to me for a people, …” 5) “I will bring you into the Land …” Consequently, four toasts are offered to God thanking Him for His deliverance. The four toasts are all named: 1) the Cup of Thanksgiving 2) the Cup of Plagues 3) the Cup of Redemption 4) the Cup of Praise. Offering the fifth cup awaits the appearance of Elijah the Prophet to precede the coming of the Messiah.
The traditional Jewish Passover observance is highly significant for those who believe in the Messiahship of Yeshua (Jesus). Yeshua observed the traditional order of the Passover (the Seder) during the meal commonly known as the Last Supper (Matt. 26:17-29 ). The Last Supper was a traditional, orthodox Passover Seder. The person and work of Yeshua are portrayed throughout the Seder in symbolic form. The most significant ceremony found in the Seder is the origin of the ordinance of Communion.
During the Last Supper, His last Passover Seder, Yeshua exercised Messianic authority by transforming a ceremony that was culture bound to Israel and turning it into a ceremony that, today, is celebrated by believers from every tongue and tribe and people and nation. During the Passover Seder He came to the third toast of thanksgiving offered to God. The third cup is associated with the third “I will” statement found in the Exodus story; “I will redeem you with an outstretched arm and great judgments.” Traditionally, the Third Cup is raised to thank God for physical redemption from slavery in Egypt. Instead, Yeshua transforms the Third Cup into a symbol of spiritual redemption from slavery to sin. He associates the cup with the New Covenant of Jeremiah 31:31-34 . The essence of the New Covenant is spiritual redemption from sin. His actions and words are recorded in Luke 22:20 , “And in the same way He took the cup after they had eaten, saying, ‘This cup which is poured out for you is the new covenant in My blood.’” The Cup of the Redemption now becomes the Cup of Communion we all enjoy today.
In like manner He transformed the symbolism of the Unleavened Bread (Matzo). During the Seder He specifically identified the Matzo with His body. The Matzo is an adequate symbol of the body of the Messiah for five reasons. 1) It is made without leaven which is a symbol of sin. Likewise, Yeshua was sinless. 2) It is made without salt. A rich man could afford to flavor his matzo with salt but a poor man could not. In the same manner, Yeshua was a poor carpenter. 3) The matzo is striped from hot, swift baking. Likewise, His body was striped by means of the Roman whip. 4) The matzo is pierced to prevent rising. Similarly, His body was pierced by the Roman nails in His hands and feet and the Roman spear thrust in his side. 5) Finally, during the Seder the matzo is broken. This action dramatizes His death on the cross when He was broken for you and me. Yeshua exercised Messianic authority by transforming a ceremony that is culture bound to Israel and turning it into an ordinance all believers can embrace. Believers from every family, tribe, tongue, and nation celebrate the eating of the matzo today.
Observing the origin of the ordinance of Communion and contemplating its meaning is surely a good reason for believers today to celebrate the Festival of Passover.
The cup of Elijah and Matzah
Two other Passover observances include looking for Elijah and the breaking of the matzah.
According to the Bible, Elijah, one of the great Jewish prophets never died but was carried off to heaven in a fiery chariot. Scripture identifies Elijah as the forerunner of the Messiah. Tradition states the Elijah will return from heaven on the night of Passover to precede the coming of the Messiah (Malachi 4:5 ). In the course of the Seder meal, a seat is provided at the table for the prophet. A cup of wine is poured for Elijah and the front door is opened as a symbolic gesture of welcoming the prophet.
Matzah is the Hebrew word for unleavened bread (plural – matzot). It is a thin, wafer-like bread which is made from a mixture of flour and water. Because it does not contain yeast, it can be baked quickly. According to the Scriptures, the Hebrews took matzo with them when they fled from Egypt because they did not have time to wait for the bread to rise. To commemorate this, matzah is eaten on the first night of Passover. There are three matzot on the Seder table. They are placed in a central position near the Seder plate. The ceremony known as the “breaking of the middle matzah” contains great spiritual significance that is hidden from the Jewish community today due to the rejection of the Messiahship of Yeshua.
To read more about the Biblical observance as well as the modern observance of the Passover, click here.
A note from Jeff:
I would like to thank you all for your partnership with me during the time God had me here at HaDavar. It was a pleasure to serve in the kind of ministry that has as its goal, to help make disciples of Yeshua. God has called me to serve in a different vineyard, and I will continue to pray that God will bless all that He has planned for HaDavar. I want to encourage you all that your support for HaDavar is needed more than ever at this time of transition and in this new season. And please pray for the leadership of Irvine Community Church as they follow the Lord’s leading in mapping out this next phase for the ministry of HaDavar.
From the elders at Irvine Community Church:
We are thankful to the Lord for Jeff’s partnership in the Gospel, “to the Jew first and also to the Greek”. We are committed to seeing HaDavar’s classes and resources properly stewarded and to that end we have laid out a basic roadmap for the ministry looking ahead:
- Seek the Lord’s will and provision regarding a new Director for HaDavar.
- Revamp HaDavar’s website to make all of the classes easily accessible and searchable, as well as offer tools for students to keep track of progress and create goals for learning.
- Continue to offer classes from the Jewish perspective on campus and add to the resources already available online.
All support given to HaDavar will continue to be used for the ministry of HaDavar and your continued prayers for wisdom and guidance are valued and appreciated!