BibleTools

Topical Studies

 A | B | C | D | E | F | G | H | I | J | K | L | M | N | O | P | Q | R | S | T | U | V | W | X | Y | Z


Bible verses about Passover
(From Forerunner Commentary)

All four gospel writers mention that Jesus was tried, convicted, crucified, and buried on a preparation day. Without any further clarification, one would assume that they meant a Friday, the weekly preparation day before the Sabbath. But can other days be considered preparation days as well?

Yes, indeed! God Himself gave the instructions about the use of the preparation day to the Israelites before they reached Mount Sinai (Exodus 16:23). The Jews later considered this to be so important that they made sure each of the holy days, which are also Sabbaths, was preceded by a preparation day. Since the holy days can fall on any day of the week, the preparation day can fall on any day of the week as well.

This is very relevant to the Passover. Not only is the Passover a festival in its own right, it also functions as the preparation day for a holy day, the first day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread. According to the calculated Hebrew Calendar, Passover can fall on a Monday, Wednesday, Friday, or Sabbath.

Clearly, our Savior was crucified on a Passover day (Matthew 26:2). Thus, it was on one of these days of the week that Jesus was killed and buried.

Richard T. Ritenbaugh
'After Three Days'


 

Jesus Christ, our Savior, commands Christians as His disciples to participate in the annual Passover memorial of His work on our behalf. The service consists of three parts:

1) Mutual footwashing, which forces the obedient follower of Christ to consider his ongoing individual relationships with all of Christ's brethren.

2) Drinking of the wine, which represents the Savior's blood that we helped to shed. His life was poured out instead of our own. His death has reconciled to God the repentant individual who acknowledges his past sin, saving us from eternal death, and making eternal life possible for us.

3) Eating of the bread, which represents the Savior's body broken for us. The bread is also symbolic of the words of life which He spoke. If we continue to eat this true bread from heaven, we will have imparted to us eternal life in God's Family.

Staff
Discerning Christ's Broken Body


 

The breaking of the unleavened bread during the Passover ritual provides an additional and extremely important principle. Since it is part of the annual ceremony, we need to be reminded at least once a year that the true Bread from heaven, which we must eat in order to live, was also broken for us.

First, how was Christ's body "broken"? John writes that the soldiers broke the legs of the two criminals crucified at Jesus' side, to hasten their deaths before the annual Sabbath—the First Day of Unleavened Bread (John 19:31-32). But Jesus' death resulted, among other horrible wounds, from the tip of a soldier's spear puncturing His side and spilling His blood on the earth (verses 33-34; see Zechariah 12:10). Not a bone was broken in Jesus' body, as was prophesied (verses 35-37; see Exodus 12:46; Psalm 34:20).

Christ's body was "broken," not by the breaking of His bones, but by the breaking of His skin. Besides the spear that pierced His side and the metal spikes that nailed His wrists and feet to the stake, He was subjected to a most severe beating or whipping. This latter torture, foretold in Isaiah 52:14, made Him nearly unrecognizable. His body bore a multitude of welts, skin lacerations, and open wounds, spilling His blood over all His body.

Isaiah 53:5 expands upon His scourging: "But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; the chastisement for our peace was upon Him, and by His stripes we are healed." A stripe is "a stroke or blow made with a rod or lash." This is how our Lord's body was broken.

We cannot but be deeply embarrassed—ashamed—that we should benefit from His beating, His suffering, His stripes, especially, when we consider that in God's eyes we broke His body! But it is prophesied that by the stripes He received, we should be healed. How is this possible?

When we eat the broken, unleavened bread at Passover, we, as baptized members, must ask ourselves: "Have I been healed by His stripes? Am I in the process of being healed by them? Do I really believe this promise?" If we cannot answer these questions positively, then something may be wrong. We may not be discerning the Lord's body properly.

Staff
Discerning Christ's Broken Body


 

Every holy day requires some preparation, but a day that is not even a holy day—Passover—demands the most significant personal preparations. Passover itself is preparatory. It prepares us spiritually to participate in the rest of God's plan as outlined by the holy days.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Christ, Our Passover


 

Remember, the focus at Passover is on the Lamb, not our sins. Certainly, we should be aware of our sins to provide the contrast to the sinless, spotless and unblemished Lamb, but we ought not wallow in them. To the contrary, we should rather glory in the unique One who makes our deliverance possible.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Christ, Our Passover


 

Under the Old Covenant Passover, the lamb was separated from the flock on the tenth day of Nisan, giving each family four days to observe it more closely. Perhaps, at its birth or purchase, only the father of the family saw and examined it. But from the time of separation until the lamb was slaughtered, the family came to know it more intimately.

Perhaps this sacrifice will have more impact on us if we realize that for many Israelite families, the lamb may have been the family pet. Most Israelites were not ranchers with large flocks, but farmers with very few animals for meat. In such a situation, their animals became much like members of the family.

How often have you killed an animal you love? Even if you have had to do so, you probably avoided putting a knife to its throat! God devised an object lesson in Passover to illustrate its price as forcefully as only the death of an innocent can.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Christ, Our Passover


 

Passover and Unleavened Bread are separate festivals, each with a different focus but related to the other. To blend them to the point of making them one festival stretches the Scriptures and introduces confusion into the instruction. The Pharisees did this and proved that the mixture produces weakness, not strength. Thus Passover, even when it occurs on a weekly Sabbath, is never legally part of the Days of Unleavened Bread and cannot be used for determining wavesheaf day. If one uses it as the starting point, it places the wavesheaf offering on a Sabbath in violation of the instruction in Leviticus 23:11 and Deuteronomy 16:9, which show it must be after the Sabbath and on a common workday.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Countdown to Pentecost 2001


 

Jesus Christ kept the Passover. So did the apostle John. And so did some Christians in Scotland even until the 7th century AD.

This information comes from no less an ecclesiastical authority than the church historian Bede. His Ecclesiastical History of the English Nation would astound many who have assumed that Christ and the early apostles all kept Easter.

He writes that "John, following the customs of the Law, used to begin the Feast of Easter [actually the Passover] on the evening of the fourteenth day of the first month, whether it fell on the Sabbath or on any other day" (III, 25).

The apostle John was the author of five books of the New Testament and the "disciple whom Jesus loved." Yet he kept the Passover on the 14th day of the first month (Nisan) just as God commanded in the time of Moses. That is the plain statement of this early Catholic theologian!

But where did John's custom come from? From the very example of Jesus Christ! "Nor did our Lord, the Author and Giver of the Gospel, eat the old Passover or institute the Sacrament of the New Testament to be celebrated by the Church in memory of His Passion on . . . [any other day], but on the fourteenth" (Eccl. History, III, 25).

Bede thus reiterates what the Bible itself plainly tells us—that Christ partook of the old Passover and then substituted the New Testament symbols of the bread and wine on the 14th of the first month.

The custom of keeping the New Testament Passover, after the example of Christ and John, persisted among isolated groups for centuries. Bede tells us that some faithful were still keeping it in Scotland in the 7th century! (II, 19.)

Herbert W. Armstrong (1892-1986)
The Plain Truth About Easter


 

Participation in the ceremonies of the New Testament Passover service is restricted to baptized, adult church members.

Why? Are we ashamed or embarrassed about what we do at that service? Not at all! In the Old Testament Passover, all members of Israelite families participated in the evening, including the children (see Exodus 12:43-47). Non-Israelites (Hebrew gêrîm: "strangers," "newcomers," "foreigners," "sojourners") were also permitted to keep it as long as their males had been circumcised (verse 48). Circumcision was the sign of the Old Covenant that Israel made with God. Under the Christian New Covenant, it has been replaced with the rite of baptism (Acts 2:38; Romans 6:3-4). As practiced by the church of God, water baptism is only for those mature enough to understand basic doctrine, to repent of their sins, and to grasp the serious, spiritual commitment they are making to God.

In addition, the example of Jesus on the last night of His human life, which we find in Luke 22:14 - "When the hour had come, He sat down, and the twelve apostles with Him" - provides additional evidence that only baptized, adult church members are permitted to attend the Passover service. Children and unbaptized people would be unable to comprehend the ceremony's deeply solemn and spiritual nature.

Staff
What Is the Passover Anyway?


 

When should the Passover be kept? This question has caused much contention in the church over the years, but we will avoid those controversies here by examining the question straight from God's Word. The answer is surprisingly simple. Passover is to be kept on the fourteenth day of the first of God's months, called Abib or Nisan. Scripture after scripture proves this point beyond every shadow of doubt. We will quickly run through six of them:

» On the fourteenth day of the first month at twilight is the LORD'S Passover. (Leviticus 23:5)

» And they kept the Passover on the fourteenth day of the first month, at twilight, in the Wilderness of Sinai; according to all that the LORD commanded Moses, so the children of Israel did. (Numbers 9:5)

» On the fourteenth day of the first month is the Passover of the LORD. (Numbers 28:16)

» Now the children of Israel camped in Gilgal, and kept the Passover on the fourteenth day of the month at twilight on the plains of Jericho. (Joshua 5:10)

» Now Josiah kept a Passover to the LORD in Jerusalem, and they slaughtered the Passover lambs on the fourteenth day of the first month. (II Chronicles 35:1)

» And the descendants of the captivity kept the Passover on the fourteenth day of the first month. (Ezra 6:19)

The evening beginning Abib/Nisan 14 was when the Passover lamb was killed, cooked, and eaten. The night of Abib/Nisan 14 was when God's Angel of Death passed over Egypt. During the evening of Abib/Nisan 14, Jesus kept the Passover, often called the Last Supper, with His disciples. Later that same night and day of Abib/Nisan 14, Jesus was arrested, tried, tortured, and murdered. So it is on the evening beginning Abib/Nisan 14 that we hold the Passover service.

It is well known that God's days begin and end at sunset. As Passover day is not specified as one of the holy days, if a person must attend school or work on it, he or she should make a point of keeping in mind what happened during this very day in AD 31.

Staff
What Is the Passover Anyway?


 

How should the Passover be kept? There has been some controversy over this question. Some groups, including the Jews, the Samaritans, and even some church of God individuals and smaller groups, maintain the Passover lamb dinner. Though this practice was commanded in Exodus 12, considering the fact that Jesus' sacrifice fulfilled the Old Testament lamb sacrifices, it is not necessary to be kept in the New Testament era.

The Jews call the Passover lamb dinner a Seder, which comes from a Hebrew word meaning "order," as in a strict order of events and activities. To this author's knowledge, the Samaritans are the only group that still maintains the formal Passover sacrifice of lambs and goat kids. Some groups traditionally include roast lamb as part of the dinner on the Night to be Much Observed, which we keep on Abib/Nisan 15, the evening after the Passover.

Again, are we ashamed or embarrassed about what we do at the Passover service? Not at all! Most church of God groups, including ourselves, take their example from just a small slice of Jesus' final night as a human on this earth. There is absolutely nothing for us to be embarrassed or ashamed of in what we do:

» We hold a solemn service in a quiet, private, rented room, as Jesus and His disciples did.

» We obey Jesus' command and example to maintain the footwashing ceremony (John 13:1-17).

» We obey Jesus' command and example to maintain His symbols of the partaking of the unleavened bread, symbolizing His broken, sinless body, and the red wine, representing His shed blood.

» With little comment, the minister reads through the scriptures that describe the events of this evening in AD 31. We do not get into the subsequent details of the arrest, trials, mocking, torture, crucifixion, and death of Jesus. These are left for one's personal Bible study.

» We end the service, again as Jesus and His disciples did, with the singing of an appropriate hymn (Matthew 26:30; Mark 14:26).

Because young people are not involved in the Passover service and because it is not a formal holy day, does this mean that they should sit at home, playing video games or watching sitcoms or reality shows on television? Although the Passover evening and its daytime portion are not formally recognized as a holy day, it is important that young people learn to treat this special time with appropriate respect.

Remember what this time commemorates. This was the night when Jesus went through His awful, mental anguish, knowing that He would have to take the sins of the world upon Himself and thus be separated from His Father. This is the night when He was arrested, illegally tried, and terribly beaten. The daytime portion of Passover day was when He suffered further physical tortures, was crucified, and died.

Why God chose not to make this day a formal holy day is not entirely clear. Some day we will know. However, whether at home, at school, or at work on the day of the Passover, everyone, including children, should treat the day with a proper level of reverence and thoughtfulness, remembering our Savior's experience for us on that day in AD 31.

Staff
What Is the Passover Anyway?


 

We would normally read and expound these scriptures in the context of Passover. We normally think of Passover in terms of being reconciled to God. However, Passover and the Day of Atonement are inextricably bound in that both of them involve reconciliation.

Atonement, though, supplies answers and solutions to problems not resolved by Passover. The Passover is personal in nature, providing reconciliation of the individual to God and the beginning of unity with man in the church with Christ. It is through Passover that we learn the price of redemption and reconciliation—xno less than that of the Creator, Jesus Christ.

Atonement, however, is universal in nature and provides reconciliation of the world to God—all of mankind at one with God and each other through Christ. Passover shows Satan defeated, but still free to work out his nefarious schemes to produce confusion and division, as well as rebellion against God. Atonement, on the other hand, shows Satan defeated and punished by banishment—no longer free to do anything but to bewail his lot.

The emphasis in I Peter 1:17-21 is on the cost of reconciliation, which is vital to God's purpose because a major portion of our desire to obey God comes from our sense of obligation to God and Christ in appreciation for how much was paid for us to be free.

We will never feel this until we begin to understand that this was done for us as individuals. If only one person had ever sinned in all of God's creation, it still would have taken the life of the Creator to get him free from the wages of his sin.

He did it for us! It is easy for us to escape responsibility for His death when we conclude, "Well, He did it for all of mankind." Indeed, He did, but he did it for us as individuals too. This is the path that a person has to take in his thinking to recognize the cost that was made for us and to come to a sense of obligation. We ought to respond if only out of thanks for what He did. We owe our lives to Him.

People have been willing to give virtually everything to someone who saved their lives from drowning, snatched them out of the way of a speeding automobile, or saved them from some other kind of painful death. At Passover, we rehearse that, understanding that Jesus Christ saved us individually.


 

Genesis 15:1-6

Following the "bread and wine" incident of Genesis 14:18, Abraham asks for clarification of his status with God, because earlier, in Genesis 12, God had implied that Abraham's family would be great. After Abraham asks for clarification, God give the promise using an illustration involving stars. In order for Abraham to see stars, this event had to take place at night.

Notice Exodus 12:5-6:

Your [Passover] lamb shall be without blemish, a male of the first year; you shall take it out from the sheep, or from the goats: And you 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.

This is one of those places where the word "evening" is from the term in Hebrew ben ha arbayim. In modern English it means "twilight" or "dusk." The meaning of this word describes the time that the sun has gone down, but light continues to remain for a period of time. At this time of the year, the light would have lingered very close to about 45 minutes. After that, it would be dark.

Abraham is brought bread and wine by Melchizedek. The next thing we see in Genesis 15 is the mention of "stars"; it is dark. The Passover takes place in that period of dim light before it becomes dark. That is the time that we, in our observance, normally take Passover, just as the sun goes down. That is where the opening of Genesis 15 is time-wise. By the time you see stars, it is dark. We are beginning to see that time is moving in this episode.

When ben ha arbayim takes place, the Abib 13 has ended and Abib 14, Passover day, begins. This is undoubtedly when Melchizedek brought forth the bread and wine. Then came Abraham's vision, when it was dark and the stars were out. It is clearly into Abib 14, because it is dark.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Wavesheaf and the Selfsame Day


 

Genesis 15:4-5

Twilight is clearly past and now—with stars visible—it must be the dark part of Nisan 14. Both John 13:30 and I Corinthians 11:23 confirm the same general time in the events of Christ's final Passover. The daylight portion of the 14th is approaching.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Countdown to Pentecost 2001


 

Genesis 15:8-17

In Genesis 15:8-17, Abraham asks for evidence that God will follow through. He receives a command to prepare a sacrifice and an additional prophecy concerning his family's future. Genesis 15:12 shows that he made the sacrifice during the daylight part of the 14th. By this sacrifice, God ratifies His promise to Abraham.

Many have wondered why Christ was sacrificed during the daylight portion of the 14th, in the afternoon, rather than at its beginning and more in alignment with the Passover service in the twilight portion of the 14th. This reveals why. Even as He ratified His covenant of promise with Abraham by this sacrifice, Christ's sacrifice provides the ratification of the New Covenant. Christ's sacrifice, by God's decree, had to align with the ratification of His covenant of promise with Abraham. In Christ's sacrifice, death, and burial, God's draws together in one event the main elements of both the covenant of promise with Abraham and the Passover.

Notice especially how close this chronological alignment is. Verse 12 specifically states, "When the sun was going down." Thus, this sacrifice, like Christ's, took place in the afternoon. In the late afternoon, a great darkness and horror fell upon Abraham, allowing him to experience a small taste of the horror Christ faced in His crucifixion when God forsook Him. In addition, Moses inserts a detail that is not so readily apparent at Christ's crucifixion: that Abraham had to beat off some vultures. Vile birds are a Bible symbol of demons. This detail suggests that a great spiritual battle occurred, during which the demons taunted and persecuted Christ to induce Him to give up. He had to fight them off alone because the Father had forsaken Him.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Countdown to Pentecost 2001


 

Genesis 17:23

Comparing Genesis 17:23; Exodus 12:41; and Galatians 3:16-18, we have evidence of a significant Genesis event that later became a festival date, and thus it is important to Christianity. Exodus 12:2-6 dates the Passover on the fourteenth of Abib. Israel left Egypt on the next day, the fifteenth. Verse 41 strongly suggests that the Exodus was 430 years to the very day from when Abraham made the covenant with God which was sealed by the patriarch's circumcision. Galatians 3 reinforces the link between the events of the Exodus (Paul sums them up in the term "the law," which was given about two months after leaving Egypt), the 430 years and God's covenant with Abraham. These verses confirm that the Abrahamic covenant, the introduction of circumcision, and Israel's going out of Egypt took place on Abib 15, the First Day of Unleavened Bread.

John W. Ritenbaugh
God's Promises Are Sure!


 

Exodus 12:1-14

Historically, the church of God has observed the Passover just after sunset as the 14th day of Abib begins, as commanded in Exodus 12:1-14 (see also Leviticus 23:4-5; Numbers 9:2-5). However, it is also plain from Scripture that Jesus Christ was not sacrificed at that time—His trial and crucifixion took place during the daylight portion of the 14th, and He died around 3:00 pm on the preparation day for the first day of Unleavened Bread (Matthew 27:45-50; Mark 15:33-37; Luke 23:44-46; John 19:30-31). Since He is our Passover (I Corinthians 5:7), why did His death not occur at the time the Passover lambs were to be slain—at the beginning of the 14th day? Or should His death set the standard for understanding the instructions given to Israel?

To add to the complexity, the gospel accounts show Jesus observing the Passover with His disciples at the beginning of the 14th. Which of His actions should we use as our guide for observing Passover: the time when He observed it or when He died? And why are those events at different times?

When the time of Jesus' death is chosen above all else, the typical result is a change in the observance of Passover from the beginning of the 14th day of Abib, just after sunset, to the afternoon of the 14th or even into the 15th. Further, those who make this change must then find a different explanation for when the Israelites killed the lambs and later left Egypt, which frequently involves leaning on Jewish tradition for support—for those Jewish sects that follow Talmudic traditions promote this divergent perspective.

David C. Grabbe
Why Was Jesus Not Crucified as Passover Began? (Part One)


 

Exodus 12:3-11

God told each Israelite family to choose an unblemished lamb on the 10th day of the month Abib. On the 14th day at twilight (just after sundown as the 14th began), they killed the lamb, putting its blood on the doorpost and lintel of their homes. Then they roasted and ate the lamb.

Earl L. Henn (1934-1997)
Holy Days: Passover


 

Exodus 12:3-14

Notice in verse 3 that on the tenth day each person was to take a lamb for himself. In verse 5, the lamb must be without blemish and a male of the first year.

Think of Jesus in reference to these instructions. The meat could be either from the sheep or the goats. Jesus is a type of both sheep and goat. In the atonement offering, one of the two goats typified Jesus.

Verses 6-8 show that the innocent lamb bled to death. Scripture also says that the bones were not to be broken, and it must be roasted whole. Jesus' bones were not broken either.

Through these verses, we see that Jesus was the perfect antitype of this lamb that was slain at the Passover service. By means of the blood that was smeared on the lintel and the doorposts, Israel was saved from the tenth plague, the death of the firstborn. The blood of the lamb redeemed, bought back, the firstborn of Israel. Otherwise, they too would have been killed.

Jesus' ghastly death and the terrible scourging He endured do the same for us; it redeems us, buys us back. Some Protestants say He died of a broken heart, but that is not true. Like the Passover lamb, He bled to death; His blood spilled onto the earth, and He expired an innocent and pure man. He had never sinned, just like the lamb without blemish and without spot.

Therefore, we call Him our Savior and Redeemer. Once we accept Him as our Savior, because He was sinless and He died for us, His blood covers our sins. He redeems us from the second death—from the death angel.

He is the firstborn among many brethren, and we are called the firstfruits. We are the firstfruits of spiritual Israel that are protected from that death angel, the second death.

God often works in dual stages, as shown here. The first is the type of the lamb slain at Passover, and the second is the antitype or the perfect fulfillment in Jesus Christ. For the type of the Passover lamb to be fulfilled perfectly and completely in the antitype of Jesus Christ, His crucifixion and death had to occur on Nisan 14. There is no other day in which the type would have been fulfilled because that is the day of the Passover.

Richard T. Ritenbaugh
Christ's Death, Resurrection, and Ascension


 

Exodus 12:12-13

The blood was a sign to the death angel to "pass over" their homes when it went through Egypt. Because of it, Israel's firstborn were saved, while Egypt's firstborn died.

The yearly ritual of Passover represents the death of Jesus Christ, who was God in the flesh. The innocent lamb had to be without blemish because it represented the only Man who ever lived a perfect, sinless life. Jesus Christ was the Lamb of God who gave His life and shed His blood so that we may be saved from eternal death by paying the penalty for our sins. Through faith in His sacrifice, we receive forgiveness of sin and come into a right relationship with God. Because His life was worth more than all human life combined, His sacrifice paid the price for all sin. He redeemed us from the penalty that the breaking of God's law imposes and freed us to live righteously.

Earl L. Henn (1934-1997)
Holy Days: Passover


 

Exodus 12:12-14

Why should a Christian keep the Passover? We should keep the Passover because God commands us to. This, of itself, is good enough reason, but there is much more!

God has us keep the Passover because it forces us to consider the deaths of the firstborn Egyptians and how that miraculous and terrible event led to the freeing of Israelites from Pharaoh and from Egypt. It should lead us to think deeply about what these events symbolize.

Yet, is not Passover just an Old Testament, Jewish ritual? No! God's commands are never merely empty rituals. His commands always contain rich and meaningful purposes, including spiritual, New Testament applications that we can learn from today.

Keeping the Passover also forces us to think about the death of God's firstborn Son and how that momentous event will lead to the eventual freeing of all mankind from Satan and from sin:

For I received from the Lord that which I also delivered to you: that the Lord Jesus on the same night in which He was betrayed took bread; and when He had given thanks, He broke it and said, "Take, eat; this is My body which is broken for you; do this in remembrance of Me." In the same manner He also took the cup after supper, saying, "This cup is the new covenant in My blood. This do, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of Me." For as often as you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord's death till He comes. (I Corinthians 11:23-26)

Notice that this reminder to keep the Passover was recorded by the apostle Paul some years after the close of the Old Testament era. It is most decidedly a Christian observance.

He adds that our preparation for Passover should cause us to take a close look at ourselves in solemn self-examination, to see how far we have grown and how much we still need to overcome: "But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of the bread and drink of the cup" (verse 28). In the days preceding the Passover each year, we think about the past year and how imperfect we still are, and we ask God to continue to cover our sins and imperfections with the blood of our Savior, Jesus Christ. Each of God's people makes a practice of looking back at the years that have flown by since his baptism, considering how far we have left our lives of sin behind. Self-examination shows us areas in which we still need to overcome and should motivate us to rededicate ourselves to the covenant we have made with God.

Staff
What Is the Passover Anyway?


 

Exodus 12:22

One cannot go out of Egypt by night (Exodus 12:51) and stay in his home until morning (Exodus 12:22; Deuteronomy 16:21) at the same time. One cannot "leave" and "stay" simultaneously. The events of Passover and the events of the Night To Be Much Observed (beginning of the first day of Unleavened Bread) occurred on two different nights.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Night to be Much Observed


 

Exodus 12:26-27

What is the Passover? Right from the start, God knew that young people would ask this very same question: "And it shall be, when your children say to you, 'What do you mean by this service?'" (Exodus 12:26). So He prepared an answer for them: "It is the Passover sacrifice of the LORD, who passed over the houses of the children of Israel in Egypt when He struck the Egyptians and delivered our households" (verse 27).

Passover is a memorial day—a very important anniversary day. However, it commemorates three events, not just one. As God said, it commemorates the tenth and last plague upon ancient Egypt in which, after giving them ample warning, God passed over the nation of Egypt and killed all the firstborn in the land. Through this decimating plague, God freed the children of Israel from their captivity and servitude in Egypt.

Secondly, and most importantly, it commemorates the death of Jesus Christ, who was and is the firstborn Son of God the Father. Through Jesus' awful death—which, by God's design, took place on Passover day in AD 31—God freed us, regenerated Christians, from our captivity and slavery to the world, to Satan, and to sin.

Finally, it commemorates the baptism of each Christian, when we formally accepted the death of Jesus Christ, when we asked Him to apply His priceless sacrifice to our sins, when we asked that He would cover and blot out our sins with His blood (Psalm 41:1, 9; Acts 3:19; Romans 4:7).

Staff
What Is the Passover Anyway?


 

Exodus 12:40-42

Exodus 12:40-42 is describing the Night To Be Much Observed, not the Passover night. There is a reason why God established two different festivals. The first, Passover, on the 14th of Nisan, begins in the evening, that is, at the beginning of the day with the killing of the lamb.

The killing of the lamb has a specific focus, the death of the Savior, showing that we have a part in His death. The second part of the ritual, the eating of the lamb, emphasizes the more important continuance of the relationship. When a person ingests food, he receives energy, and his life is sustained. This is the symbolic meaning of eating the lamb.

Nisan 15—the First Day of Unleavened Bread, when the exodus occurred—emphasizes the action required to keep the relationship going and growing. That is our part. We have to get up and do something; we have to leave Egypt, a type of leaving sin.

We are dealing with two different festivals with two altogether different focuses.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Night to be Much Observed


 

Exodus 12:48

The Hebrew language lacks an exact equivalent to the Greek noun proselyte, which means a newcomer (Strong's #4339). However, in the Old Testament, God's law does allow the ger (Strong's #1616), usually rendered "stranger," to become a full-fledged citizen of Israel. To do this, he needed to become circumcised. Exodus 12:48 addresses this changing of belief system in reference to the Passover.

The stranger "wants to keep the Passover." There is no hint of God expecting Israel to seek converts among the heathen by actively preaching to—or, at—them. Here, there is no coercion, subtle or otherwise; the Gentile convert voluntarily gives himself to come under the Old Covenant. Deuteronomy 4:5-7 states the dynamics of this conversion.

Charles Whitaker
Proselytism Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow (Part One)


 

Exodus 13:14-15

What does this mean to us? The Old Testament answer is only symbolic of its New Testament principle. God has brought the people of His church out of this sinful "world held captive." Verse 15 now takes on new meaning:

And it came to pass, when Pharaoh was stubborn about letting us go, that the Lord killed all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, both the firstborn of man and the firstborn of animal. Therefore I sacrifice to the Lord all males that open the womb, but all the firstborn of my sons I redeem.

The firstborn animals represent the Egyptian firstborn. God released Pharaoh's strong grip on Israel—His Old Testament firstborn—by killing Egypt's firstborn on that first Passover night. Likewise, God released Satan's grip on the people of His church—His New Testament firstborn—by allowing His Firstborn Son, Jesus Christ, to be killed as our Passover (I Corinthians 5:7). We are then free to escape this world and our sins, just as Israel left Egypt on the first day of Unleavened Bread (Exodus 12:37-42).

Can the Egyptian firstborn symbolize our Savior, the slain Lamb of God? Though it seems an unworthy comparison, God inspired the apostle Paul to write that Jesus allowed Himself to be degraded to the bottom of the barrel—to become the lowest of the low—to personify a curse and sin itself. Notice Galatians 3:13-14: "Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the law, having become a curse for us (for it is written, 'Cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree'), . . . that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith."

The redemption or "buyback" of the Israelite human firstborn is a reminder of the miraculous preservation of their firstborn on the first Passover night. It also looks forward to the church's redemption by the sacrifice of Jesus Christ, who became sin like the lambs that represented Egypt and the Egyptian firstborn. Paul says in II Corinthians 5:21, "For He [the Father] made Him who knew no sin [Jesus Christ] to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him."

Because Jesus willingly became sin for us, He has become our Firstborn Elder Brother:

· For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren. (Romans 8:29)

· He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. . . . And He is the head of the body, the church; who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in all things He may have the preeminence. (Colossians 1:15, 18)

· But when He again brings the firstborn into the world, He says, "Let all the angels of God worship him." (Hebrews 1:6)

· . . . and from Jesus Christ, the faithful witness, the firstborn from the dead, and the ruler over the kings of the earth. To Him who loved us and washed us from our sins in His own blood. . . . (Revelation 1:5)

Staff
The Law of the Firstborn


 

Exodus 16:4-5

Clearly, God allows the people to gather manna on the first through sixth days of the week. However, on the sixth day He tells them to gather twice as much, as well as to prepare what they would eat on the seventh day. Historically, then, the day before a Sabbath (Friday) was a preparation day.

But is the preparation day only for weekly Sabbaths? No! From the example of the holy days (see the notes at Exodus 12:15-18), a preparation day can fall on any day except Saturday! The Passover itself occurs the day before the first day of Unleavened Bread, a Sabbath, making it a preparation day.

Staff
Was Jesus Resurrected on Easter Sunday?


 

Exodus 23:14-16

The "three times" are three general periods during which God's holy days fall. Passover and Unleavened Bread occur in early spring, the "Feast of Harvest" in late spring, and the "Feast of Ingathering" in the fall.

Earl L. Henn (1934-1997)
Holy Days: Pentecost


 

Exodus 23:18

My sacrifice is the Passover. It is the only sacrifice within the terms of the Old Covenant, yet we keep it under the New Covenant! Why?

When did sacrifice began? It began long before the Old Covenant—in fact, it began at the beginning. The earliest record of a sacrifice is Cain's and Abel's sacrifices. Where did they learn of it? They undoubtedly were taught it by Adam and Eve, who learned it from God. They did not just dream up this idea of offering the Deity an animal in sacrifice. The implication is that they were commanded to do it by God (Genesis 3:21 may have been the occasion of the first animal sacrifice). Cain and Abel knew what God required.

We do not offer sacrifices today, due to Christ's sacrifice once for all (Hebrews 9:12-14), but we do offer the Passover. The other sacrifices that we do not offer are never mentioned in the Old Covenant. Yet here is the Passover, which is mentioned in the Old Covenant, and we are commanded to keep it (I Corinthians 11:23-26).

The Bible is an expanding revelation. Just because something appears in the Old Covenant does not mean that it is obsolete and done away. We understand that some aspects of it are no longer required of us, but we still keep Passover in its New Covenant application.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Covenants, Grace, and Law (Part 17)


 

Leviticus 23:4-5

Passover is a feast of the LORD, not a feast of Israel or the Jews! He instituted it and commands us to keep it.

Earl L. Henn (1934-1997)
Holy Days: Passover


 

Leviticus 23:5

While the Passover is one of God's appointed times, it is not listed in Scripture as one of the annual Sabbaths. It is a regular day of work—in fact, it is the preparation day for the first day of Unleavened Bread—but the first few hours, the evening portion of the day, is a significant memorial of two great events in God's plan for mankind: the death of the firstborn in Egypt and the sacrifice of our Savior, Jesus Christ.

The bulk of the instruction about the Passover is written in Exodus 12, and a great deal of it concerns the Old Testament ritual meal that was eaten on that evening. These details are types that were fulfilled in the sacrifice of Jesus Christ, so the New Testament church is no longer required to slay a lamb, since, as the apostle Paul writes, "For indeed Christ, our Passover, was sacrificed for us" (I Corinthians 5:7).

The New Testament Passover is modeled after the events that occurred during what is commonly known as the Last Supper, the Passover meal that Jesus ate with His disciples just before His arrest, trial, and crucifixion. Jesus began His instruction that evening with a command to wash one another's feet: "For I have given you an example, that you should do as I have done to you" (see John 13:1-17), and so we do.

The apostle Paul summarizes what happens next:

For I received from the Lord that which I also delivered to you: that the Lord Jesus on the same night in which He was betrayed took bread; and when He had given thanks, He broke it and said, "Take, eat; this is My body which is broken for you; do this in remembrance of Me." In the same manner He also took the cup after supper, saying, "This cup is the new covenant in My blood. This do, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of Me." (I Corinthians 11:23-25)

So, to commemorate His sacrifice—His broken body and His shed blood—by which He paid the penalty for human sin and consecrated the New Covenant (see Hebrews 9:11-28), Christians eat a little unleavened bread and drink a small amount of wine. In doing so, they acknowledge His sacrifice and rededicate themselves to their covenant with Him. It is clear from both the Old Testament and New Testament examples that only those who have made the covenant—Christ's disciples—are allowed to partake of the bread and wine, thus only baptized members should participate in this part of the service (see the principle in Exodus 12:43-49; also I Corinthians 11:27-29).

As Christ did after changing the Passover symbols, members of the church then listen to the words of Jesus' discourse to His disciples, which is found in John 13-17. Then, to close the service, they sing a hymn before concluding the solemn service (see Matthew 26:30; Mark 14:26).

Richard T. Ritenbaugh
How Do We Keep God's Festivals?


 

Leviticus 23:10-16

Less than 13% of the time in the last century, Passover has fallen on a weekly Sabbath. The conclusion reached by some church of God groups on when to begin the count destroys unity on this issue. A weekly Sabbath Passover causes the next day, a Sunday, to be the First Day of Unleavened Bread and thus a holy day Sabbath. The practice of beginning the count to Pentecost on this day began in 1974 in the Worldwide Church of God and has been continued by several groups following Herbert Armstrong's death.

However, a number of things are wrong with the conclusion to begin counting with this day.

First, we are warned in Deuteronomy 12:32 and Revelation 22:18 neither to add nor to take away anything from God's Word. There is no command or example anywhere in Scripture that the sheaf must be waved during the Days of Unleavened Bread. Instead, the implication of Leviticus 23 is that the weekly Sabbath's location within the Days of Unleavened Bread is of primary importance, as the instructions in verses 10-11, 15-16 show.

Second, Passover, though it falls on a weekly Sabbath occasionally, never qualifies as a weekly Sabbath within the Days of Unleavened Bread. Leviticus 23:5-6 clearly states that "on the fourteenth day of the first month . . . is the Lord's Passover," and "on the fifteenth day of the same month is the Feast of Unleavened Bread." That Passover and Unleavened Bread are adjacent to each other is patently true, but they are separate festivals with distinctly different teaching. Passover teaches us of the death of our Savior to cover our sins. The Days of Unleavened Bread instruct us to come out of sin, to overcome and grow from the trials of daily life.

Passover is not part of the Days of Unleavened Bread, and therefore the Sabbath it infrequently falls on does not qualify as a weekly Sabbath within the Days of Unleavened Bread. To use it so is inconsistent with the counting pattern used in the other 87% of years. Furthermore, Wavesheaf Day is directly attached to Pentecost?the former begins the count, the latter concludes it. In addition, both days involve harvest symbolism. Wavesheaf Day is only indirectly attached to the Days of Unleavened Bread due to the count often beginning within them.

Third, no one has ever found a record in all of history of the Jews?whether Sadducees, Pharisees, Falashas, Kairites, or Essenes?observing Wavesheaf Day on anything but a common workday. All these groups began their count following a Sabbath, but none of them ever permitted Wavesheaf Day to be observed on any type of Sabbath. This is because they could see that Scripture clearly states the Wavesheaf Day falls the day after a Sabbath, not on one.

John 20:1, 11-18 absolutely proves that Wavesheaf Day follows the day after the weekly Sabbath that falls within the Days of Unleavened Bread. Jesus, as the first of the firstfruits, is the reality of the symbolism of the Old Covenant Wavesheaf Day ceremonies. He was crucified on a Wednesday Passover and was interred as the sun set that day. He spent exactly three days and three nights buried in the tomb, being resurrected as the sun set ending the weekly Sabbath. Then, on Sunday morning, He rose to heaven for acceptance as the first of God's spiritual harvest.

Seeing their conclusion is weak, those who want to place Wavesheaf Day on the day following a Sabbath Passover have devised a cunning argument for beginning the count with the First Day of Unleavened Bread: Since Jesus, the first of the firstfruits, was "waved" for acceptance before the Father following His resurrection within the Days of Unleavened Bread, they conclude that every Wavesheaf Day thereafter should be conformed to it. But consider this: Does every Passover have to be observed on a Wednesday because Jesus was crucified in a year when Passover fell on a Wednesday? We do not do that, do we? Wavesheaf Day and the beginning of the count to Pentecost are, like all other festivals and their ceremonies, to fall on the dates and days assigned them by God in Leviticus 23 (see verse 2) and in the calendar rules.

There is no consistency to their argument and practice, but those who believe this reasoning are so insistent that at least one group declared Passover to be a Day of Unleavened Bread, despite Leviticus 23:4-6 showing they are two different festivals.

No statement in the Bible says that Wavesheaf Day must fall within the Days of Unleavened Bread. Instead, God uses a weekly Sabbath falling within Unleavened Bread as His marker, and the following day begins the count. Thus, the day the count begins?a Sunday?can fall outside the Days of Unleavened Bread in about 13% of years.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Pentecost, Consistency, and Honesty


 

Leviticus 23:11

If we do not accept the fact that the Sabbath mentioned in Leviticus 23:11, 15 is the weekly Sabbath within the Days of Unleavened Bread, we are left without a consistent defining point from which to begin the count. Only these two verses in the Old Testament show when to wave the sheaf. Why not any other Sabbath, either holy day or weekly? John 20:1, 17 absolutely confirm that Jesus was "waved" on the Sunday following the weekly Sabbath within the Days of Unleavened Bread. When Passover falls on the weekly Sabbath, the only Sabbath within the Days of Unleavened Bread is also the last day of Unleavened Bread. When Passover falls on the weekly Sabbath, should we throw out the rule used to calculate Pentecost for all other years? Pentecost is always calculated from the weekly Sabbath within the Days of Unleavened Bread.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Countdown to Pentecost 2001


 

Numbers 11:18

How quickly they forgot! They were slaves in Egypt. They may have had a variety of food, but they were slaves. Was that a good trade-off? Would we rather be free or have good food? If we take the food, we fall into the same category as Esau. What do we want—the sensual stimulation that the world can provide or eternal life? It comes down to questions like that. What do we want? Are we going to crave it, or are we going to follow God?

John W. Ritenbaugh
Passover and I Corinthians 10


 

Deuteronomy 16:1

That "God brought you out of Egypt by night" ought to give us a clue as to what this context is about. It is about coming out, the Exodus from Egypt, not Passover night and the slaying of the firstborn. This is what we have called the Night To Be Much Observed (Exodus 12:40-42). Anyone who understands the context of Exodus 12 and similar places can understand that the instruction in Deuteronomy 16:1-8 does not contemplate Passover per se. It certainly speaking of the Passover season, but it is generally describing the Days of Unleavened Bread and specifically the Night To Be Much Observed.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Night to be Much Observed


 

Deuteronomy 16:5

Where was the Passover supposed to be sacrificed? At home! This sacrifice was not to be performed within their gates but somewhere else.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Night to be Much Observed


 

Deuteronomy 16:7

The word "roast" (KJV) is mistranslated. The word here is bashal, which means "to boil." Was the sacrifice of the Passover allowed to be boiled? No, it was not.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Night to be Much Observed


 

Deuteronomy 27:7

In their reference work, McClintock and Strong inform us that these offerings (especially those made on the first day of Unleavened Bread) were called hagigah (sometimes also transliterated chagigah), which means "festivity." These offerings were a festivity, something given in order to have a feast, a happy, festive time. If a person wanted to give God a peace offering, it was divided three ways: some to God, some to the priest, and the remainder came back to the offerer. With his portion, he would invite his family and friends, and they would have a fine time, eating a sumptuous meal and fellowshipping together.

These offerings are stipulated in Numbers 10:10. They are shown actually being offered in II Chronicles 30:22, included, in this case, under the name "Passover." But these offerings cannot be the actual Passover, because of the rules regarding the Passover having to be roasted and from a lamb or a kid of the goats. These offerings—the hagigah—are shown in II Chronicles 30 quite a number of times. This was when Hezekiah had his great Passover and Feast of Unleavened Bread in the second month.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Night to be Much Observed


 

Joshua 5:10-12

Some assume the events of Joshua 5:10-12 can only mean—by the eating of unleavened cakes and parched corn—"that Passover occurred on a weekly Sabbath and wavesheaf day was the first day of Unleavened Bread." However, nothing in the context directly states those assumptions, nor does it indicate anywhere that a wavesheaf offering or its accompanying burnt offering occurred either.

We may know the dates on which these events occurred, but they in no way reveal on which days of the week they fell. If Israel made a wavesheaf offering, when did they do it? It seems especially critical at this point, since it would have been the first time in the land. But Joshua says absolutely nothing about it.

We know that Passover observance begins at twilight when the lamb is slain, but the bulk of it is observed at night. We also know that twenty-four hours after Passover begins the Night to be Much Observed begins. The first day of Unleavened Bread begins with this observance at night. On the 15th, beginning with the keeping of the Night to be Much Observed, the people would be eating unleavened bread just as we do today because it is such a significant event in the history of God's people.

Where did the grain for making the unleavened bread and parched corn come from? It came from the grain of the land, exactly as the Scripture implies (Joshua 1:11). They could have used the old corn confiscated from the Canaanites' storage places or even harvested a sufficient amount from fields of grain left behind by Canaanites as they fled the Israelites. They had sufficient time to make such preparations. Joshua 5:11 says the Israelites ate unleavened bread and parched grain on the day after Passover. Day does not necessarily have to mean "daylight," but simply any portion of the next 24-hour day. The observance of the Night to be Much Observed is a very significant part of the day after Passover.

The Israelites rested on the holy day. They could eat manna as well as unleavened preparations. On the 16th, the next day, when they would normally have expected manna to appear, it did not. From this point, they were completely dependent upon the crops harvested from the land.

Why did Israel not make a wavesheaf offering? Because they could not lawfully do so for many reasons:

1. Because the 15th is a Sabbath, and Leviticus 23:11 clearly commands the wavesheaf offering to be made on the day following the Sabbath, not on the Sabbath.

2. Because, if the particular Sabbath that preceded the 15th was also Passover (as per the WCG scenario), it would not qualify to determine wavesheaf day since it is not part of the Days of Unleavened Bread.

3. Because they had absolutely no grain that qualified as an acceptable offering. The wavesheaf offering law states specifically that it had to be from seed that they had sown. Israel reaped what Canaanites had sown. Conquest did not change this fact. They could eat it but not offer it.

4. Because Deuteronomy 12 specifically forbids making the required animal sacrifice that accompanied the wavesheaf offering until the Tabernacle was established where God had placed His name. This did not occur until seven years had passed (compare Joshua 14:6-13 and Joshua 18:1).

5. Because Leviticus 22 strictly forbids an offering from the stranger's hand. It had to come from someone who had covenanted with God. A stranger is someone "unknown" to God, an outsider, or someone not in the family.

Israel never made a wavesheaf offering in Joshua 5.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Countdown to Pentecost 2001


 

Psalm 51:7

Woven into the fabric of the Psalms are many of the very words that Jesus Christ used Himself during His life on earth, including some of the final words He uttered before His death. The understanding that David possessed, a gift and blessing that the Eternal gave to him, is further evidenced in Psalm 51:7: "Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean; wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow."

Here, David refers to the spiritual washing required for his cleansing. He makes a deliberate request of God to wash Him, knowing that only the cleansing power of Almighty God can make a man clean and pure. Though his sins have covered him in filth and stained him to the very roots of his being, the washing power of God makes a man whiter than snow.

In our understanding of the symbolism of colors, "snow-white" is considered the ultimate in white, the whitest of white, as pure and unsullied a white as possible. David's expectation was that God's cleansing power would exceed even that ultimate white - "I shall be whiter than snow." We can only relate this to absolute spiritual, moral perfection, the very state in which Almighty God exists. The wording expresses that the scrubbing God could give him would permit him to exist in that absolute, ultimate state of perfection.

At the beginning of verse 7, David makes the deliberate request of God to purge him with hyssop. Hyssop is an interesting choice as a cleansing agent. It is an herb, a species of marjoram and member of the mint family, and some Bible versions actually refer to it as "marjoram." It has long been considered an aromatic and medicinal herb, anciently indigenous to western Asia and northern Africa, including regions of the Middle East. The hyssop plant grows just under three feet in height, producing clusters of variously colored flowers. In ancient times, it grew naturally in rocky crevices, and people cultivated it on terraced walls.

The short, cut stems of the plant can be gathered into bunches, and in the Old Testament, these bunches were used for ritual purposes. The most spiritually significant of these uses is recorded in Exodus 12:22. Moses has just given the instructions for the killing of the Passover lamb, and he continues with some further instructions that must have been rather startling for those participating Israelites:

And you shall take a bunch of hyssop, dip it in the blood [of the Passover lamb] that is in the basin, and strike the lintel and the two doorposts with the blood that is in the basin. And none of you shall go out of the door of his house until morning.

It is important that we consider all the aspects of this event. During repeated requests by Moses for Pharaoh to allow Israel to leave Egypt, Pharaoh had continually refused to let God's people go, and the nation had endured nine plagues of cataclysmic consequences. The economy of the nation was largely a shambles. Crops were ruined, and disease had run rampant.

Since the third plague, God had also made readily visible a clear distinction between the captive nation of Israel and the Egyptians, in that the Israelites in Goshen had been spared much of the devastation that had ruined the rest of Egypt. By the use of the blood of the sacrificial lamb, God was about to make a final, absolute distinction between these two nations that would never be forgotten.

We must recognize that Egypt suffered the devastation at the hand of God because though it was a sophisticated, dazzling, world-dominating empire, it was also a wicked, idolatrous nation. The Egyptians were a people who openly flouted the natural evidence of a supreme Creator by worshipping a pantheon of idols and gods dedicated to their own passions and lusts. Egyptians regularly engaged in a frenzy of immoral and idolatrous celebrations, sporting events, fashions, and music all dedicated to gods of materialism and human gratification.

The plagues God meted upon the land of Egypt and its people were just as much attacks on her idols and lifestyle as they were punishments for the sins of her people. As just one example, the Egyptians worshipped the Nile River as a god, and when God turned its waters to blood, the life-giving nature of the river was destroyed, along with the power that the Nile River god supposedly possessed.

Thus, in this solemn Passover event of Exodus 12, God used blood of a different nature to represent the saving, life-giving power that only He, the almighty, eternal God, possessed. The sacrificial lamb of Passover symbolized the future Son of God, who would take upon Himself the role of the sacrificial Lamb of God (John 1:29). The shed blood of the Passover lamb symbolized the blood to be shed by the coming Messiah.

The bunch of hyssop was dipped into the blood, and per God's instructions, that blood was sprinkled or brushed on the doorposts and lintel of each home. The Israelites were then told to stay within those homes, separated from the Egyptian people and their normal routines. That night, there was to be no interaction or communication with any aspect of the Egyptian civilization. Their very lives depended on their following this command to the letter.

The sacrificial blood, sprinkled or smeared by the bunch of hyssop, graphically represented a separation and a protection of Israel against the deadly havoc that God wrought upon Egypt that night. The blood ceremonially cleansed and protected the people inside those homes against the plague of death that struck a people who practiced the filthy abominations of godlessness.

Later, in the books of Leviticus and Numbers, hyssop was used as part of sacrificial ceremonies. The hyssop was always tied into bunches for use in sprinkling the blood of the sacrificed animal. In some sacrifices, the priest sprinkled the blood onto the person making the sacrifice.

In Numbers 19, Moses gives instructions for one who is unclean due to touching a dead body. These instructions include taking a bunch of hyssop, dipping it into clean, running water, and sprinkling the unclean individual, his tent, and possessions. This example clearly connects the use of hyssop and clean water for cleansing.

Over the years, some have suggested that hyssop contains valuable antiseptic or cleansing properties that would "disinfect" the contaminated person or his possessions. This cannot be the point because such an idea contradicts the fact that God is the only Source of true purification. The biblical use of hyssop in the Passover, the sacrifices, and the ceremonial cleansing rituals was a constant reminder, painting a detailed picture of the washing, cleansing, saving, purification, and salvation from death itself that come only from the eternal God.

This is the kind of cleansing that David requested of God when he asked to be purged with hyssop.

Staff
Purge Me With Hyssop


 

Psalm 77:10-15

In this passage, we see that the “right hand of the Most High” involves all of His works, all of His wonders, all of His doings. Remember, this is the “Possessor of heaven and earth” (see Genesis 14:18-23), and His right hand is continually involved in the work of “possessing.” It means more than just “owning”; it implies “keeping” in the sense of “tending” or “managing.”

Specifically, verse 15 shows that the right hand of the Most High is used for redemption—such as securing the freedom of Lot when he was foolishly living in a sinful place. We see redemption in the protection of Abram when he attacked what was most likely a superior force. Redemption appears again when God slew the firstborn of Egypt and protected His people from the death angel.

We clearly experienced redemption when God blessed us with the forgiveness of our sins through the substitution of the sinless life of the Son of the Most High. We commemorate this redemption each year with gravity because of the tremendous meaning, but also with joy and thankfulness because God is governing in the affairs of men, and especially in the affairs of His people. He blesses us with everything necessary for us to take on His image, and the Passover represents the beginning step of that blessing.

David C. Grabbe
Passover of the Most High God


 

Psalm 78:17-22

This passage relates various works of the Most High's providence, but it carries a negative tone because of the people's unbelief and distrust. God blessed Israel with water in the desert, manna every day for forty years, and everything else that they needed. This was after He had delivered them from Egypt, led them between walls of water, and destroyed the might of the world's greatest empire. The people, though, would not believe that the Possessor of heaven and earth would govern His creation favorably for them! They would not believe because He was not real enough to them.

Do we believe? Do we trust in the salvation process that the Most High is leading us through? Do we believe in His deliverance? Do we believe in His ability and willingness to bless us with whatever we need to be a part of His Family—even to the point of providing a Lamb without blemish to take away our sins? Is there any righteous work that He will not perform or any good thing He will not provide for His people?

Do we trust in His nature and His unassailable character? Israel did not, and as a result, provoked the Most High to wrath. They created their own self-fulfilling prophecy. Because they did not believe God, they believed that things would turn out badly, and in not believing Him, things turned out badly!

In the same way, those who tend toward pessimism usually prove themselves right because the pessimism clouds their view of God and thus their belief of and trust in Him. When that happens, as with Israel, they run the great risk of provoking Him to wrath. People see either God or the negatives, and whichever one they see determines their trajectory.

David C. Grabbe
Passover of the Most High God


 

Psalm 81:3

If one looks in the King James or an Interlinear Bible, it reads, "at the set time." The holy days occur right on schedule. It is God who sets the schedule; He sets the holy days at a specific time. Interestingly, as these holy days are fulfilled, the literal fulfillments occur right at the set time. The ones with which we are probably most familiar are Passover, the Days of Unleavened Bread, and Pentecost because they have already, in that sense, been fulfilled. For instance, the Holy Spirit came "at the set time"—on the day of Pentecost.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Conviction, Moses and Us


 

Jeremiah 7:22-23

Jeremiah says that God never commanded offerings and sacrifices when the Old Covenant was made! He is talking about the generation to whom God gave His law and with whom He made the Old Covenant. It is easily understood why no other sacrifices are given in the Old Covenant except for the Passover (see Exodus 23:18). God does not mention them because He did not require them under the terms of the Old Covenant. All He wanted Israel to do was to keep the Ten Commandments, the statutes, and the judgments that He had already given to them with one exception—the Passover, the only sacrifice that He required!

This is one reason why the New Covenant did not perpetuate the other sacrifices, even though the Old Covenant became obsolete: The sacrifices were never a part of it in the first place. In terms of Passover, the symbols changed to bread and wine, but we still keep it.

There are three reasons why true Christians keep Passover even though it is also part of the Old Covenant. First, like the Ten Commandments, they preceded the making of the Old Covenant. Passover was commanded in Exodus 12, enforced, and practiced before Israel ever got to Mt. Sinai. Second, it is commanded in the New Testament and shown by the example of Christ and the apostles. Third, Passover is included within the statutes of God as a corollary of the fourth commandment. It is a festival and therefore to be kept.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Covenants, Grace, and Law (Part 17)


 

Jeremiah 7:22

Even though animal sacrifices were used in the worship of God from as early as Cain and Abel, when God made the covenant with Israel, only one sacrifice was required. Exodus 23:18 shows that it was the Passover sacrifice, which God calls "My sacrifice." He further confirms here that He added the sacrificial system later. Sacrifices were not added, but the sacrificial system was added. Obviously, they were sacrificing before the Old Covenant was made.

He gives a very definite time marker, "when you were brought out of Egypt," which is just prior to the making of the Old Covenant. He is undoubtedly referring to the Covenant. God did not speak to them nor command them about making burnt offerings and sacrifices at this time. That came later.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Covenants, Grace, and Law (Part 18)


 

Daniel 9:26

Verse 26 continues explaining about the Messiah. He would be cut off—killed—sometime after the sixty-two weeks. Verse 27 tells us how long after: "in the middle of the [seventieth] week." Halfway through a literal week is three and a half days, prophetically three and a half years, which is how long His ministry lasted before He was crucified. That brings us to AD 31, when significantly, the Passover, Nisan 14, was on a Wednesday, literally the middle of a week! Good Friday and Easter cannot stand before these facts.

The prophecy says that the Messiah would be killed "not for Himself." How true! He died for the redemption of mankind in a completely selfless, sacrificial act. His crucifixion also brought an end to the need for further sacrifice and offering of animals (Hebrews 10:12: "He . . . offered one sacrifice for sins forever").

Richard T. Ritenbaugh
'Seventy Weeks Are Determined...'


 

Zechariah 9:9

This verse prophesies Jesus' triumphal entrance into Jerusalem, and it is the basis of the traditional Christian holy day of Palm Sunday. However, the Bible's chronology shows that Christ's entrance did not occur on a Sunday.

John 12:1 says, "Then six days before the Passover, Jesus came to Bethany, where Lazarus was who had been dead, whom he had raised from the dead." After Mary anoints Jesus' feet, the next time marker appears:

The next day a great multitude that had come to the feast, when they heard that Jesus was coming to Jerusalem, took branches of palm trees and went out to meet Him, and cried out, "Hosanna! Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord. The King of Israel!" (verses 12-13).

If one is not paying attention, Palm Sunday seems plausible, but closer inspection proves otherwise! When Jesus comes to Bethany, it is six days to the Passover, or the ninth of Abib/Nisan. The next day, the tenth, Jesus enters Jerusalem, five days before the Passover (counting inclusively). The tenth of Abib/Nisan is special because it is the day that the Israelites were to take the Passover lamb into their homes and keep it until the fourteenth day (Exodus 12:3-6). Therefore the people of Jerusalem symbolically select Him as their Passover lamb.

If His triumphal entry occurs on Sunday, five days before Passover, the Passover must occur on Thursday, the fifteenth of Abib/Nisan—not Friday! This alone destroys the Friday crucifixion—Sunday resurrection argument. The truth is that Christ enters Jerusalem on a Sabbath, is crucified on Wednesday, the fourteenth of Abib/Nisan, and rises from the dead 72 hours later as the Sabbath ends.

Staff
Was Jesus Resurrected on Easter Sunday?


 

Matthew 16:6-12

Jesus warns His disciples to "beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and the Sadducees." Seeing their puzzlement, He explains further. "Then they understood that He did not tell them to beware of the leaven of bread, but of the doctrine of the Pharisees and Sadducees" (verse 12). Both testaments use leaven as a symbol of sin because of what it does to a lump of bread dough. Once yeast enters the dough, it immediately begins to spread by breaking down in reaction to the dough's sugars and producing a gas that puffs the bread up.

Like leaven, when sin enters a person's life, it begins to corrupt and fill him with vanity. A person enslaved by habitual sin will have a difficult time growing in the grace and the knowledge of Jesus Christ because of sin's corrupting influence. Sin defiles and can permanently destroy relationships with God and man.

Throughout the year we hear frequent exhortations to produce fruit and grow in the grace and the knowledge of Jesus Christ. During Passover and the Days of Unleavened Bread, we give special emphasis to "getting the leaven out." These three actions are all parts of the same process. Though not technically the same, they are related closely enough to say they are simply different ways of describing the same process. "Getting the leaven out" is the most negative, "growing" is the most general, and "producing fruit" is the most specific. All three emphasize that a Christian should not stand still after entering the New Covenant. God expects him to take steps to ensure that these actions will occur in his life.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Five Teachings of Grace


 

Matthew 26:2

Two days before Jesus fulfilled the Passover, He prepares His disciples for His death by telling them that after two days would be the Passover and that the Son of Man would be delivered up and crucified. Thus, He was crucified on the Passover. For further proof of that, John shows that it was preparation day for a high day, the first day of Unleavened Bread (John 19:31). Obviously, preparation day for the first day of Unleavened Bread is the day of Passover, the fourteenth day of Nisan/Abib.

Christ is specifically named as "our Passover" in I Corinthians 5:7. Jesus is called "the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world" (Revelation 13:8). John the Baptist, when he first saw Him after He began His ministry, as He approached the River Jordan for baptism, said, "Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world" (John 1:29). It is easy to see the strong connection between Jesus and the lamb killed at Passover.

Richard T. Ritenbaugh
Christ's Death, Resurrection, and Ascension


 

Matthew 26:17

Hidden in the Greek of Matthew 26:17; Mark 14:1, 12; and Luke 22:7 is a reference to Passover as "the first of the unleaveneds." This is because unleavened bread is indeed used on the 14th as part of the Passover service. A comparison with the Old Testament, however, discloses this to be only the popular usage of some during New Testament times. In the Old Testament, something akin to this is found in Deuteronomy 16, where the first day of Unleavened Bread is called "Passover," while the context clearly describes the first day of Unleavened Bread. People popularly used Passover and Unleavened Bread interchangeably, and the Bible notes this practice, though "Passover" was the term most generally used for the whole period.

Doing things like this is not uncommon. Today, we commonly refer to the Feast of Tabernacles and the Last Great Day as either the "Feast" or "Tabernacles," even though we clearly understand that the Feast of Tabernacles and Last Great Day are separate festivals. So it was with Passover in the time of Christ and the apostles. Neither our use of "Tabernacles" nor the Jews use of "Passover" alters the authority of God's intent in the Scriptures.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Countdown to Pentecost 2001


 

Matthew 26:26-29

Jesus told His disciples to partake of unleavened bread and wine during the New Testament Passover service. Through this command, He charged His followers to observe it as a memorial of His death for all time. Since Christ's death completely fulfilled the symbolism of killing a lamb, we no longer need to slaughter a lamb in keeping the Passover.

Earl L. Henn (1934-1997)
Holy Days: Passover


 

Matthew 26:27-29

At Jesus' final Passover service (Matthew 26:27-29), He poured wine into His cup, blessed it, and passed it around to His disciples. Each disciple took a sip from it. Though nowadays we pour wine into many separate vials for Passover, the principle is the same since the wine comes from one source, all of it is blessed together and all of it pictures the same thing—drinking from the cup of the Lamb. Perhaps the meaning is more poignant and easier to grasp by recalling Jesus' Passover service, when the disciples literally took a sip from His cup. When we commemorate this in our Passover service, we are also drinking from the cup of Christ, blessed by our Savior.

Have we consciously rejected the cup of this world, of Babylon, in favor of the "cup of the Lord"? God will not mix the contents of these two cups; they are totally incompatible. We must choose one or the other. Paul says, "We cannot drink of the Lord's cup and of the cup of demons" (I Corinthians 10:21). We must totally reject this world, this Babylon, and that awful cup of the Woman, full of her abominations and of the blood of the saints (Revelation 18:6).

If we have lived in this world—and we all have to some degree—we have sipped from that awful cup and have been affected by its contents. We must now unconditionally reject it, empty it, discard it, and replace it totally in favor of the new cup of blessing from God.

Notice, Christ commands us to drink of His cup! "Drink from it, all of you," Jesus says (Matthew 26:27). He does not say "drink the wine," but to drink of the cup. We know the red wine symbolizes the blood of Christ, shed for the remission of sins (verse 28). We know we need to remember that it took the blood of the Son of God to forgive our sins, and we certainly rehearse that aspect of this service every year. We know that by drinking the wine, we accept His shed blood in our behalf, forgiving our sins and wiping our sinful slate clean. Thank God for that! But drinking of His cup adds so much to the meaning of the Passover wine.

In I Corinthians 10:16, Paul refers to this cup as "the cup of blessing." He asks, "Is it not the communion [margin, fellowship, sharing] of the blood of Christ?" In the Jew's Passover meal, several cups are consumed. Notice what Vine's Expository Dictionary says under article "Cup":

The cup of blessing, I Corinthians 10:16, is so named from the third (the fourth according to Edersheim) cup in the Jewish Passover Feast, over which thanks and praise were given to God.

So as we drink of the cup of the Master, we should understand that it is a wonderful "cup of blessing," thanksgiving, and praise that we offer to God as we drink it!

Staff
Are You Drinking of the Master's Cup?


 

Matthew 26:27-28

In "Are You Drinking of the Master's Cup?" (Forerunner, March 1999), the author tells of an ancient Hebrew tradition: When a young man and woman were to be betrothed (engaged) for marriage, the groom poured wine into his cup and invited the woman to drink of it. The choice was hers: If she drank from it, she was considered betrothed to the young man. She was agreeing to experience all the things that his life entailed, the good as well as the bad. When the woman drank of the cup, she drank of the marriage covenant and accepted it. Paul refers to this when he tells the church in II Corinthians 11:2: "For I am jealous for you with godly jealousy. For I have betrothed you to one husband, that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ."

As Jesus sat at His last Passover with His disciples, He poured wine into His cup and blessed it, telling the disciples, "Drink from it, all of you. For this is My blood of the new covenant, which is shed for many for the remission of sins" (Matthew 26:27-28). By literally drinking from His cup, they each accepted the terms of the New Covenant. It was a symbolic betrothal or engagement of the church, the Israel of God, to Christ. This is part of what we commemorate with each Passover service—our spiritual engagement to Christ, which will culminate with the marriage feast after He returns (Revelation 19:9).

Before we were called out of this world, we all walked according to the course of the world (Ephesians 2:2-3). We were the sons and daughters of disobedience, conducting ourselves in the lusts of the flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and mind. We drank from the cup of Babylon by ingesting a false religion and the culture around us that God says is filthiness (Revelation 17:1-6; 18:1-6).

This is why God tells us to come out of Babylon—so that we do not share the sins in her promiscuous cup and the consequences that God promises He will pour out upon her.

Formerly, we were slaves to sin and its consequences. Now, under the New Covenant, we drink from Christ's cup and agree to His terms. This frees us from the death penalty of sin as well as making us responsible to remain faithful to this spiritual engagement.

Paul warns us that God is jealous toward His people, and that they must choose to whom they will be loyal: "You cannot drink the cup of the Lord and the cup of demons; you cannot partake of the Lord's table and of the table of demons. Or do we provoke the Lord to jealousy? Are we stronger than He?" (I Corinthians 10:21-22).

It is plain that we must make a choice: We either drink of the cup of Christ and remain faithful to our commitment, or we drink of the cup of demons and the sinful system they rule. These two cups are mutually exclusive. We cannot have both!

If we have drunk from Christ's cup, can we continue to sip from the cup of this world's culture or its false religious system? Can we drink of His cup, accepting His proposal for marriage, and still have intimate interactions with Babylon? Even in our morally debased secular world, this would be grounds for nullifying that covenant of future marriage.

David C. Grabbe
Strange Women (Part Three)


 

Matthew 26:28

According to tradition, when a young Hebrew man and woman were to be betrothed, the groom poured wine into his cup and invited the woman to drink of it. It was up to her. If she drank from it, she was considered betrothed to him. If she did not, no marriage would take place. Paul tells the church in II Corinthians 11:2: "For I am jealous for you with godly jealousy. For I have betrothed you to one husband, that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ." When the bride drank of the cup, she drank of the marriage covenant or contract, accepting it.

Understanding this symbolism, it is no wonder that Jesus tells His disciples in Matthew 26:28, "For this is My blood of the new covenant, which is shed for many for the remission of sins." As we drink of His cup, we accept His invitation to be betrothed to Him and to be forgiven of our sins so we can be like He is—sinless, spotless, and without fault in His presence at the Marriage Supper.

Yet it means far more! Remember that "drinking the cup" meant to accept whatever that cup represented. When the mother of James and John approaches Jesus with her request to have her sons sit on each side of Jesus when He came into His Kingdom, Jesus replies with a question:

But Jesus answered and said, "You do not know what you ask. Are you [James and John] able to drink the cup that I am about to drink, and be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with?" They said to Him, "We are able." (Matthew 20:22)

They do not take the cue from Jesus that they may have to drink more than they care to swallow! They answer affirmatively before they realize what Christ's cup contained. Jesus continues in verse 23:

So He said to them, "You will indeed drink My cup, and be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with; but to sit on my right hand and on My left is not Mine to give, but it is for those for whom it is prepared by My Father."

What happened to them? James the son of Zebedee was the first apostle martyred, early on by Herod (Acts 12:2). Though John was the longest-lived of the twelve, apparently living nearly 100 years, he certainly suffered greatly at the hands of persecutors. Not only did he spend many years in exile on the Isle of Patmos, one tradition says he miraculously survived being boiled in oil! Beyond this, he had to watch the church disintegrate through apostasy and persecution.

Part of what Jesus' cup entails is suffering. When we drink of His cup, we are saying we are willing to suffer with Him and experience with Him whatever He ordains for us. We symbolically pledge that we are willing to walk down the same path He walked, with similar consequences.

We do not just drink the wine at Passover—we drink "of the cup" of Passover, meaning we are proclaiming our willingness to share in similar trials as Jesus did. We proclaim we are willing to endure whatever He has appointed for us as our lot.

We are also identifying ourselves with Him exclusively: We are cupbearers to the King of kings and to Him only. Psalm 16:5 says, "O LORD, You are the portion of my inheritance and my cup; you maintain my lot." The Eternal is our cup! Do we grasp the meaning of this? We cannot serve two masters (Matthew 6:24). We cannot simultaneously identify with Christ and Satan. Our lives, our actions, our words, our thoughts, continuously announce which is our father, God in heaven or Satan. Drinking of Jesus' cup means to live His way of life and renounce Satan's ways.

Staff
Are You Drinking of the Master's Cup?


 

Mark 15:6-15

Each of the four gospels gives an account of Barabbas' part in Jesus' trial (see Matthew 27:15-26; Luke 23:18-25; John 18:39-40). Matthew 27:16 says Barabbas was a notorious prisoner; John 18:40 calls him a robber. Many find the whole story little more than a curiosity, an interesting detail of the whole sordid affair. But is that all?

Barabbas, a condemned murderer, robber, and insurgent. Guilty as charged. The Romans had gotten their man, and he deserved his punishment. Do we ever identify with Barabbas, the murderer? Perhaps we should.

We have also been found guilty of murder. How? On the day of Pentecost after Jesus' death, Peter explains that we all have killed the Christ (Acts 2:36). We all, by requiring His blood be spilled to cleanse us of our sins, are really the ones who crucified Him. As surely as the Jewish mob agitated for His condemnation, as surely as the Roman lictor tore His flesh with his whip, as surely as the Roman soldiers pounded nails into His hands and feet, as surely as one ripped His side open with a spear, we caused the death of the innocent Son of Man, the very Son of God. Yes, the shed blood of the Innocent drips from our hands.

By the standard Peter uses in Acts 2, we should be considered convicted murderers. This also means each of us should also have a date with the executioner—unless somehow, some way, someone can pass over our sins too.

We know that Jesus is the Lamb of God, who came to take away the sins of the world (John 1:29). He is our Passover (I Corinthians 5:7). Jesus took on Himself all the sins of all time and paid the penalty for all who will receive Him as Lord and Savior (I Timothy 2:6; Hebrews 2:9; 9:12; I John 2:2; etc.). So now, we can stand before God without condemnation, for "there is now no condemnation to those who are in Christ, who . . . walk . . . according to the Spirit" (Romans 8:1). Even this sin—of murdering the Christ—is washed away forever.

We are guilty as charged of murder and other sins. We have incurred the death penalty by law—unless somehow, someone will redeem us by paying the death penalty for us, pardoning our sins and canceling our appointment with the executioner. And just as happened to Barabbas, the One who does these things for us is Jesus Christ, our Savior.

So what about Barabbas? Where does he come into this story? It is a moving reminder at Passover time each year that God leaves nothing to chance. Even the man who receives unmerited pardon is in the story for a reason: to remind us what we were and who we are now.

Many look at the name "Barabbas" and think it is just a name. Perhaps they realize that it is an Aramaic word. But what does it mean? Bar means "son of" and abba means "father," with the connotation of closeness and intimacy similar to our "dad," "daddy," or "papa." Therefore, Barabbas is "the son of the father" or "the son of his dear father." That Passover day in AD 31, there was a guilty "son of the father"—Barabbas—and a totally innocent "Son of the Father"—Jesus Christ of Nazareth.

There is possibly even more. Extant ancient texts say that Barabbas' full name was Jesus Barabbas. If that is correct—and it may be—then the crowd picked the wrong Jesus to be freed! Is that not typical of human nature? On our own, we too would choose the wrong savior and doom ourselves to bondage to sin and death rather than freedom from sin and eternal life (John 6:44; Romans 2:4).

As individuals, we are whom Barabbas depicted, "the sons of our dear Father" who did not measure up. Each one of us is that child of God. When our Elder Brother Jesus Christ stepped up to be crucified for us, though He should have been the one released, having committed no wrong at all, God also released the rest of His children who would call upon the name of Jesus and accept His sacrifice in our stead. Just as surely as Barabbas walked out of that prison—a free man—Jesus gave Himself so each of us can walk free as well.

That day was an agonizing, terrible day for Jesus, the Son of God. Were these not His own people? Some of these now screaming for His death were ones He had often seen, talked with, perhaps even dined with. These were people He knew, and some He knew well. Someday, when those of the house of Judah see the wounds in His hands, they will indignantly ask the Lamb, "Who did this to you?" (Zechariah 13:6). His prophetic reply is tinged with pain: "My wounds happened in the house of My friends." Jesus even calls Judas His "friend" (Matthew 26:50). Those "friends" include Peter, who denied Him; the Roman soldiers who executed Him; Pilate, who condemned Him; Caiaphas the High Priest, the Pharisees and Sadducees, and the Jerusalem mob who schemed and clamored to crucify Him—and His friends include us, those who will form His Bride (John 15:13-15), whose sins made His gruesome, excruciating death necessary.

Jesus is getting married soon. His Bride—the church of God—is bone of His bones, flesh of His flesh, (Genesis 2:23), one body with Him (Ephesians 5:27-32). Jesus gave Himself for her—for us. The converted children of God are said to "be in Christ" and to be one with Him. We are His body, and He is the Head of that body of believers.

If Jesus Barabbas was the murderer's name, perhaps Barabbas actually pictures those who are of Christ who are handed undeserved pardon. He may picture those of us who want to take on the name of Jesus but who have fallen short spiritually. We were guilty of sin and earned the death penalty. But the Eternal God saves. The Lord is salvation, which is what "Jesus" means. Thus, just as Barabbas was granted his life and freedom that day, the real Jesus, the real Son of the Father, steps up beside us and lovingly offers to take our place.

We are Barabbas. We have truly become "the sons of the Father" because of what Jesus did in our behalf. We have been released from the penalty of eternal death because our Savior and affianced Husband, Jesus the Christ, died in our stead.

All of this came about when the true Son of the Father took the place of Barabbas, who represents us all. As the despised Roman guards marched up to him, he was expecting the worse was about to begin. But instead, they broke off his heavy chains, dropping them to the stone floor with a clang that echoed through the corridors of the prison. Slowly, reality began to sink in: They were letting him go! Before long, Barabbas learned that the innocent Jesus of Nazareth, whom some considered a prophet, had given him a new lease on life—a fresh start, a new life. He was free! No crucifixion awaited this murderous, thieving rebel after all! He undoubtedly could not believe his "luck."

Because of the gracious act of Jesus, the true Son of His dear Father, the iron shackles have been broken from us, and we walk about as truly free men and women. His sacrifice and resurrection make it possible for God to give us of His Spirit, to bring us into His household, the Family of God. We are regenerated to a new life, and made part of the very Family in which Jesus is the Firstborn. The Father invites us to be His Son's Bride, whom Jesus is preparing for the Great Marriage Supper, giving of Himself totally for us, so that we can be totally free of sin as He is. When we pronounce our wedding vows to the King of kings, He will present us faultless, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing (Ephesians 5:25-27; Jude 24; II Peter 3:14).

When we eat of the Passover bread, representing His body broken for us, and drink the wine, symbolizing His blood shed for the remission of our sins, let us remember who we are. We can be even more grateful for Jesus and the liberty and life He has given to each of us (Luke 4:18).

Yes, we are Barabbas, sons of our dear Father, children of God. But we are Barabbas without the condemnation, for there is no more condemnation when Jesus passed over our sins and paid the ultimate penalty for us. Did Barabbas reform as a result of Jesus' sacrifice of Himself for him? Nobody knows. But we have a say in our future. As Paul admonishes, because of what the Father and the Son have done undeservedly for us, "we should walk in newness of life" (Romans 6:4).

Staff
I Am Barabbas


 

Luke 2:8

Jesus was not born in the winter season! When the Christ-child was born "there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night" (Luke 2:8). This could never have occurred in Judea in the month of December. The shepherds always brought their flocks from the mountainsides and fields and corralled them not later than October 15, to protect them from the cold, rainy season that followed that date. Notice that the Bible itself proves, in Song of Solomon 2:11 and Ezra 10:9, 13, that winter was a rainy season not permitting shepherds to abide in open fields at night.

"It was ancient custom among Jews of those days to send out their sheep to the fields and deserts about the Passover (early spring), and bring them home at commencement of the first rain," says the Adam Clarke Commentary (vol. 5, p. 370, New York ed.).

Continuing, this authority states: "During the time they were out, the shepherds watched them night and day. As . . . the first rain began early in the month of Marchesvan, which answers to part of our October and November [begins sometime in October], we find that the sheep were kept out in the open country during the whole summer. And, as these shepherds had not yet brought home their flocks, it is a presumptive argument that October had not yet commenced, and that, consequently, our Lord was not born on the 25th of December, when no flocks were out in the fields; nor could He have been born later than September, as the flocks were still in the fields by night. On this very ground, the nativity in December should be given up. The feeding of the flocks by night in the fields is a chronological fact."

Any encyclopedia, or any other authority, will tell you that Christ was not born on December 25. The Catholic Encyclopedia frankly states this fact.

The exact date of Jesus' birth is entirely unknown, as all authorities acknowledge—though there are indications that it was in the early fall—probably September—approximately six months after Passover.

If God had wished us to observe and celebrate Christ's birthday, He would not have so completely hidden the exact date.

Herbert W. Armstrong (1892-1986)
The Plain Truth About Christmas


 

Luke 2:40-42

Jesus kept the Passover as a man because God had commanded it as a festival. In this, He set us a perfect example, showing us that we should observe this festival too.

Earl L. Henn (1934-1997)
Holy Days: Passover


 

Luke 22:1

What Luke is doing is showing the popular usage of the terminology, which is similar to what we do. Sometimes we call this season "Passover season," but at other times we refer to "the Days of Unleavened Bread," often implying the inclusion of Passover. We are probably less likely to do this than the Jews were because many of them blended the two days (Passover and the first day of Unleavened Bread). Luke is showing that the two terms were used in both ways. Sometimes "Passover" referred to the whole eight days, and sometimes "the Days of Unleavened Bread" identified the whole eight days.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Night to be Much Observed


 

Luke 22:14-20

Let's clear away the web of error that covers the truth about keeping the Passover, the memorial of Christ's death.

Let's examine the way Jesus observed this ordinance, because we can't be wrong if we follow His example. In Luke 22:14-20, we read:

And when the hour was come, he [Jesus] sat down. . . . And he took bread, and gave thanks, and broke it, and gave unto them, saying, This is my body which is given for you: this do in remembrance of me. Likewise also the cup after supper, saying, This cup is the new testament in my blood, which is shed for you.

Notice, it was "when the hour was come," that Jesus introduced the unleavened bread and the wine. There was a definite time - a definite hour - when He held this ordinance as an example for us.

Notice, too, He commanded them to observe it - "This do"! And why? "In remembrance of me," said Jesus. He instituted this New Testament way of keeping the Passover, on that tragic night, the very eve of His death.

In Matthew's account, the Bible shows that this ordinance was at the very time of the Passover, "as they were eating" (Matthew 26:2, 26). Jesus knew that His time had come. He was our Passover, sacrificed for us (I Corinthians 5:7).

The Passover had always been held on the eve of the 14th of God's first month, according to the Sacred or Jewish Calendar. It was the night of the final and last Passover supper that Jesus introduced these New Testament emblems - the unleavened bread and the wine - in place of the lamb that was always slain annually.

Remember Jesus commanded: "This do in remembrance of me." Why? Because the Passover was commanded "forever."

The Passover was to be observed annually, along with the Days of Unleavened Bread. "Thou shalt therefore keep this ordinance in his season year to year" (Exodus 13:10). Jesus set us an example (I Peter 2:21), observing this ordinance at the same time once a year (Luke 2:42). Suppose the Israelites in Egypt had observed this ordinance at some other time than that set by God? They would not have been saved when the death angel passed by that night! God does things on time. He has given us an exact time for this ordinance. Jesus instituted the New Testament symbols "when the hour was come."

Herbert W. Armstrong (1892-1986)
The Plain Truth About Easter


 

Luke 22:15-16

Luke 22:15-16 specifically concerns Jesus' Passover offering, but we need to consider its effects in light of the peace offering rather than the sin offering.

First, God is satisfied because man is in communion with Him through Christ, the offering. Second, man is satisfied because he knows he is accepted by God and in fellowship with Him. Third, the priest is satisfied because, as the common friend of formerly estranged parties, He is happy to see them in fellowship. No wonder Christ desired this particular Passover! It produced the very purpose for which He came.

The medium that brings this all about is sacrifice. It is not just Christ's sacrifice on the stake, for it just culminated a whole series of sacrifices that began in heaven when He sacrificed His glory as God, became a man, and subjected Himself to the Father's will perfectly. Christ's stated desire here is looking forward to God and mankind being in fellowship with each other in His Kingdom—the ultimate effect of giving the best of ourselves to God following Jesus' example.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Offerings of Leviticus (Part Four): The Peace Offering


 

John 2:23

The first Passover of Jesus Christ's ministry (AD 28) is mentioned here and in John 2:13. During this time, Jesus cleansed the Temple the first time and first mentioned the sign of His Messiahship.

Richard T. Ritenbaugh
'After Three Days'


 

John 6:4

The third Passover of Jesus Christ's ministry, that of AD 30, is found plainly in this verse: "Now the Passover, a feast of the Jews, was near." During this time, Jesus fed the five thousand (verses 10-14) and walked on the Sea of Galilee (verses 16-21).

Richard T. Ritenbaugh
'After Three Days'


 

John 6:48

Unless we eat His flesh (represented by the unleavened bread of the Passover ritual) and drink His blood (symbolized by the wine), we have no life in us and will not inherit eternal life! It is vital, therefore, for all converted Christians to observe the New Testament Passover every year.

Earl L. Henn (1934-1997)
Holy Days: Passover


 

John 6:53-56

Jesus Christ explains that both the eating of His flesh and the drinking of His blood are required if we are to have eternal life. As we symbolically drink His blood when we partake of the wine at Passover, we acknowledge our individual part in the shedding of His blood, and reconciliation with God occurs. But the process does not stop here. Once we are reconciled, we must also feed on His flesh, His words, to gain eternal life. Still, this is not enough—we must continually repeat this process as long as we live.

Staff
Discerning Christ's Broken Body


 

John 6:53-58

These people knew well that Leviticus 17:10-11 forbids the eating of blood. They should have understood that He was not speaking of literally drinking the blood coursing through His body. If they knew Him from His youth, as they had earlier claimed, they should have known He was the most law-abiding person they had ever witnessed. What Jesus means is: "He who accepts, appropriates and assimilates, and understands My sacrifice as the only ground of his salvation remains in Me and I in Him." This is why He adds, "He who eats My flesh and drinks My blood dwells in Me and I in Him." He is the living Word.

As physical food and drink are offered, accepted, and eaten, so also must Christ's sacrifice be offered, accepted, and eaten. As the stomach assimilates the physical, so His sacrifice is spiritually assimilated in the heart of believers. As food nourishes and sustains the physical body's life, so Christ's sacrifice nourishes and sustains spiritual life.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Eating: How Good It Is! (Part Four)


 

John 8:32

Freedom is what Passover and the Days of Unleavened Bread are ultimately about. God's freeing Israel from bondage in Egypt is the object lesson that we are to apply spiritually. Truth and freedom go hand and hand. This is why the Christian world is in the condition it is in. The vast majority of Christians do not really mark the death of Jesus Christ in the way that God commands us to observe it. They may be very much aware of it, and it is a large part of their teaching: They understand that Christ died for our sins. But they miss its full importance—its full impact—because they do not observe the Passover. Thus the lesson is missed.

Truth and freedom go hand in hand, but truth will produce freedom only as it is used. That ought to be self-evident. We can know something is true, but if we fail to use it, what good is it? Its value is worthless unless it is used.

Freedom and truth come to those who press on. Freedom, the kind of freedom that God is involved in bringing us into, comes progressively, not all at once. These are lessons from the Days of Unleavened Bread. It took the Israelites seven days to get to and across the Red Sea. It took them another forty years to get into their own land, into their inheritance, the Promised Land.

Their freedom was progressive. There was a time when it began, but if they had never continued on the way, they would never have had their own land, never have had their inheritance, never have been free. This is a large part of the object lesson: We have to continue. If we continue, then we will truly be a disciple. We will understand the truth, and we will become free. The truth of God shows us the real values of life because it shows us what we are to give our life to.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Awesome Cost of Salvation


 

John 13:1-5

During the evening of Nisan 14, Jesus and His disciples ate the Passover, commonly known as the "Last Supper." After the meal was served, Jesus rolled up His sleeves, as it were, tied a towel around His waist and washed His disciples' feet. Later in the evening, after He predicted that one of the disciples would betray Him (verses 21-26), Jesus introduced the symbols of bread and wine as part of the Passover service (Mark 14:18-24). Following this example, the church places the footwashing ritual first in the annual service.

Richard T. Ritenbaugh
Footwashing


 

John 13:1-5

While His disciples ate the Passover meal, Jesus arose and washed the disciples' feet. Considered a very lowly responsibility in that culture, footwashing was performed by servants when visitors entered a house. By performing this act of humility, Jesus shows us how we should serve each other. He commands Christians everywhere and throughout all ages to follow His example.

Earl L. Henn (1934-1997)
Holy Days: Passover


 

John 13:6-11

Passover, in part, is an annual renewal of our initial washing through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ from the defilement of sin. It serves not only as a reminder of this, but also that our daily walk, symbolically represented by our dirty feet, needs to be cleaned as it becomes defiled.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Beatitudes, Part 6: The Pure in Heart


 

John 13:6-10

Kenneth N. Taylor, in his Living Gospels: The Paraphrased Gospels, puts it this way: "Master, You shouldn't be washing our feet like this!" Christ responds, "What I am doing you do not understand now, but you will know after this" (verse 7).

Peter, still not convinced, flatly states, "You shall never wash my feet" (verse 8). Christ's next words, however, finally cause him to give in: "If I do not wash you, you have no part with Me." Jesus' response—whatever His tone of voice—struck the disciple squarely between the eyes: Peter's eternal life was on the line! This time, his response is quite different: "Lord, not my feet only, but also my hands and my head!" (verse 9). This sounds a little like Psalm 51:2, where David prays, "Wash me thoroughly. . . ."

Our Savior's answer to this request is not what some would expect: "He who is bathed needs only to wash his feet, but is completely clean" (John 13:10). The New International Version's translation of this verse makes His thought clear: "A person who has had a bath needs only to wash his feet; his whole body is clean." Obviously, the disciples had bathed before coming to eat the Passover meal. But having to walk along dusty roads in sandals, they collected a small amount of dirt on their feet. Thus, Christ explains that to be perfectly clean again, all He needed to do was to wash their feet.

Upon repentance, baptism, and receiving God's Holy Spirit, we are at that point perfectly clean in God's eyes. The blood of Jesus Christ has symbolically washed away all our past sins, and we stand before Him completely sinless. We have been buried in the waters of baptism and resurrected to a new life. However, as we all know, our human nature has certainly not departed from us, and it is not very long until the fact that we have sinned again stares us in the face. The old self has not really gone away; our lives are much as they were—with some important exceptions: We now have the Holy Spirit and have been given God's grace.

Having been regenerated by God through His Spirit that He has given us, we have entered a unique relationship with God the Father. The veil that once separated us from having access to Him has been torn away by the death, resurrection, and ascension of Jesus Christ (Matthew 27:51; Hebrews 6:19-20; 10:19-22). Through Him, we can communicate with the Father to seek mercy and forgiveness for our sins and weaknesses. Upon repentance, God applies again the sacrifice of Christ to us and forgives us by His grace.

Now we can see that, even though we were once washed completely clean at baptism, we will occasionally sin as we walk through this life. We will spiritually get our feet dirty, and we will need Christ to wash our feet to make us completely clean again. Thus, He tells Peter, if He did not wash his feet, he would have no part with Him. None of us can carry unforgiven sins and still remain part of the body of Christ. This points out why it is so imperative that we seek His mercy and help to repent each day. When we do this, He can symbolically wash our feet and make us clean again. Each year at the Passover service, we reenact this to remind us how important it is.

Bill Keesee (1935-2010)
Another Look at Footwashing


 

John 13:14

The common explanation for this is that it teaches us to learn humility by doing good for others, by doing acts of service or kindness for our brethren. This is certainly a good lesson that we can take from Christ's example, but we can perhaps derive another from it.

In John's account, what did Jesus suggest that the washing of feet symbolized? He tells Peter that the washing of his feet symbolizes forgiveness of his sin to return him to a "clean" relationship with God. It is only logical to deduce that God expects nothing less from us in response to the sins of our brethren. In the section of the Sermon on the Mount on prayer, Jesus says: "For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses" (Matthew 6:14-15).

No doubt, God puts a very great emphasis on our relationships since our lives are to reflect His character. If we have begun to "put on Christ" (Galatians 3:27), would we be a good example of His love for us if we held grudges, hated our brother, or would not forgive another? Obviously, no. Putting on Christ demands that we "put off" these carnal destroyers of relationships and replace them with Christian virtues.

Peter asks Christ, "Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? Up to seven times?" (Matthew 18:21). Christ's answer should give us a clue to how He feels about this issue. Peter had ventured a number he thought would be sufficient to establish his forbearance. Christ, though, pulls out all the stops, telling him that there is no set limit: "I do not say to you, up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven" (verse 22). We are indeed fortunate and can be thankful that same unlimited forgiveness applies to us when we need God's mercy.

The following verses, Matthew 18:23-35, is the Parable of the Unforgiving Servant. The servant was deeply in debt to his master, and when he sought relief, his master forgave him his gargantuan debt. Then the tables turn. Another man owed him a small amount and could not repay it. Instead of following his master's example, the servant forgot the mercy he had just received and had the man thrown into prison!

Verses 34-35 sum up the story: "And his master was angry, and delivered him to the torturers until he should pay all that was due to him. So My heavenly Father will do to you if each of you, from his heart, does not forgive his brother his trespasses." The language Christ uses leaves little room for exclusions. He Himself, in the agony of crucifixion, says without reservation, "Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they do" (Luke 23:34). His plea applies, not only to those who cried out for His death and nailed Him to the stake, but to all, past and future, who would be just as responsible as they were and need God's forgiveness. That includes everybody.

Bill Keesee (1935-2010)
Another Look at Footwashing


 

John 18:39

Our Savior was crucified in the early afternoon of the day of the Passover. This further confirms He was the One who was to give His life as a ransom for many. Even to the very day, He completely fulfilled the symbolism of the lamb.

Earl L. Henn (1934-1997)
Holy Days: Passover


 

John 19:14

The word "Passover" in this context requires some explanation. At some time before Christ's day, the Jews had begun calling the day of Passover and the following seven-day Feast of Unleavened Bread (Leviticus 23:6-8) by the single name "Passover." This has caused great confusion for non-Jews, especially when they read the account of this particular Passover. But John 19:31 should clear up any confusion: "Therefore, because it was the Preparation Day, that the bodies should not remain on the cross on the Sabbath (for that Sabbath was a high day) . . ."!

So, without a doubt, Jesus was crucified on a Passover day, Nisan 14, and the Sabbath that followed was the first day of Unleavened Bread, an annual holy day, a high day. This only makes sense, for the apostle Paul says in I Corinthians 5:7, "For indeed Christ, our Passover, was sacrificed for us."

Richard T. Ritenbaugh
'After Three Days'


 

Acts 12:4

It is evident the New Testament church of God continued to keep the Passover yearly. Some translations grossly mistranslate the Greek word pascha as "Easter." It always means "Passover."

Earl L. Henn (1934-1997)
Holy Days: Passover


 

Acts 20:7

There are some denominations that read Acts 20:7 as a proof that the "Lord's Supper" should be taken each Sunday morning! First notice that this was after the Days of Unleavened Bread (verse 6). Paul was preaching a farewell meeting, not on Sunday morning, but on Saturday night. It was after midnight (verse 7) that they broke bread because they were hungry. When they "had broken bread, and eaten, and talked a long while, even till break of day," Paul departed.

So this was just an ordinary meal!

The same expression "break bread" is found in Acts 27:34-35. "Wherefore I pray you to take some meat . . . he took bread . . . and when he had broken it, he began to eat." Also Acts 2:46: "And breaking bread from house to house, did eat their meat with gladness." This could not possibly have been the "Lord's Supper" or, more properly, Passover, because Paul says that if we take it to satisfy our hunger we take it to our condemnation (I Corinthians 11:34). In that day, everyone "broke bread" at ordinary meals, because they did not have the kind of bread that we slice. Jesus broke bread because it was at the Passover supper, while eating a meal.

Herbert W. Armstrong (1892-1986)
The Plain Truth About Easter


 

Romans 6:23

God could see—in His wisdom He knew—that man would sin. Because the wages of sin is death, how could God extricate man from this dilemma? How would He continue His purpose?

There is an interesting aspect to this when we consider the word "wages." The apostle uses this term because in his day they did things in much the same way as we do. One does not work for a person for a lifetime and then receive his wages, but rather he works a specified period of time—a week, two weeks, a month—and receives his wages on a regular basis. Today, it is common to receive wages every two weeks.

This should give us a better understanding of this verse. Since a wage is something that we earn and the wages of sin is death, the apostle—and therefore God—is telling us is that we will receive these wages—the penalty of sin—not just at the end of our lives. The penalty of sin is meted out on a regular, just as wages are. In other words, we will be affected by the penalties of sin all the time. It is what we are earning.

God looks at these things in an interesting way. We can begin to see the scope of what God is doing, with Passover opening up a new avenue. Salvation is not something that we receive at the end of our life. Actually, it is something that begins whenever we accept the blood of Jesus Christ. Whenever we begin on the process of salvation, of true freedom, we begin to receive salvation on a daily, weekly, monthly basis. In other words, our liberty, our freedom, is progressive. Like the penalties of sin, freedom or salvation does not come all at once.

It is not that we earn it—please do not misunderstand. It is something given. Grace is a gift of God, and it is not something that happens only once but constantly. God is always giving because it is His nature, His way. He is giving us of His life constantly. Christ says, "I am come that they might have life and have it more abundantly." God wants us to begin to receive His salvation right here and now by living the abundant life. It is a wonderful concept.

We need to expand our thinking in regard to Passover because the solution to God's "predicament" regarding human sin begins immediately upon our acceptance of the blood of Jesus Christ. Salvation is much bigger in scope, involving far more than just the end of the process.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Awesome Cost of Salvation


 

Romans 10:14-17

The word of Christ is what brought us out of the world and that to which we were converted. When we drift away from it, we become confused, and we begin dividing, bickering and fighting among ourselves. The solution is given elsewhere in the Bible: Get back to what brought us together in the first place—the combination of the word of Christ and devotion to Him, to the love that we had at the beginning (Revelation 2:4-5).

Genuine ignorance may be a defense before God, but neglect never is. We need to remember Hebrews 2:3, "How shall we escape if we neglect so great a salvation?" God can forgive ignorance because we cannot believe what we did not know, and even though we may be punished in our ignorance, it is far different from being punished when we know better. Yet, "to whom much is given, from him much will be required" (Luke 12:48). We are not in ignorance. If we are slipping away, it is because of neglect.

One way we can be unworthy at Passover time (I Corinthians 11:27) is by neglecting or forgetting what we are now. We need to evaluate faith in light of the Passover and the state of our minds and our hearts as we approach it. Moffatt translates Romans 10:17 as, "Faith must come from what is heard, and what is heard comes from the word of Christ." We are saved by grace through faith, and faith comes from knowledge of God and His Word, so the importance of studying His Word, meditating on it, seeking practical applications for our life, cannot be overstated.

Along with obedience, practical application of God's Word is a must if we want to have saving faith. We must check ourselves before Passover to see whether we have passed up or neglected opportunities to make practical use of our faith. This means so much to our attitude, the way we approach life on a daily basis.

John W. Ritenbaugh
A Pre-Passover Look


 

Romans 15:4

Within its scope, this verse includes God's work with Israel and with other nations and peoples over the entire Old Testament. This should teach us that the scope of God's salvation activities is far vaster than it appears on the surface.

II Peter 3:9 confirms this: "The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is long suffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance." In I Timothy 2:3-4, the apostle Paul echoes Peter's statement: "For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth."

God is preparing us for what is to come. He has caused these examples and principles to be recorded and preserved so that we would be equipped with the guidance to conduct our life in the right way. The scope of what God is working out in our lives is awesome! If we are to discern Passover and its costs rightly, this has to be considered deeply. When properly understood, every bit of what God is doing is out of love. We will not be able to observe Passover properly unless we can see its importance in its broadest sense.

What a moment in time it was on that Passover in AD 31! God must have been filled with excitement about what was taking place. It was an awesome step toward what He is working out with us.

We must consider Romans 15:4 in light of the historical witness that God is making in our lives. Meditate on this: How many people have lived and died in the vast sweep of the history of each nation to prove a very important point—that there is no way but God's way that will produce the environment that man greatly desires but has never achieved? We need to consider this before taking the next Passover because it is important to our thinking that we look at things from God's point of view.

It is not necessary to recount everything, but from Abraham on, how many Israelites have lived and died without ever being offered spiritual salvation? The numbers become staggering as we expand our meditation further back in time. How many people were obliterated from existence at Sodom and Gomorrah? How many people lost their lives in the Flood?

How many people died in Egypt over and above the firstborn? That land was so devastated that it took generations to recover—and may never have truly regained its former glory! In the days of Ezekiel, God prophesied that Egypt would "be the lowliest of kingdoms" until the Millennium (Ezekiel 29:15), when He will raise it up to be one of three major nations with Israel and Assyria (Isaiah 19:23-25). Egypt must have been an awesome nation, a wonderful people, with plenty of ability, as their remaining architectural monuments testify. Yet, God decimated them to provide an object lesson for us! He can do that—He is God, and it is His purpose being worked out. He perhaps did not have to do it, but He did it to help us to understand and appreciate Passover more fully. God thinks so big that it is beyond our comprehension.

God's Old Testament record of His dealings with them continued to be written right on through Malachi. Even among the Israelites, few seemed to have been called to conversion. From the days of Abraham to Jesus, how many lived and died just as the wilderness generation did so that this record could exist for our edification? What a costly operation!

When we take the Passover, we need to weigh these things so that they make a deeper impression on our minds than they did before. Even so, the cost of the Father and Son's love, as shown by Passover, does not end here. It goes on.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Awesome Cost of Love


 

1 Corinthians 5:7-8

The apostle Paul instructed the Corinthian Christians to observe the Passover as a memorial of the death of Christ, our Passover, who was sacrificed for us.

Earl L. Henn (1934-1997)
Holy Days: Passover


 

1 Corinthians 11:17-34

The main point of this entire passage is that those who partake of these Passover symbols should be "discerning the Lord's body" (verse 29). The apostle tells us how to discern the Lord's body in these same verses.

Staff
Discerning Christ's Broken Body


 

1 Corinthians 11:23-26

The apostle Paul carefully taught the Gentile Corinthians to keep the Passover using the symbols of bread and wine that Jesus had instituted. These scriptures teach us to keep the Passover "till He comes," and the true church of God will still be observing the Passover as He commanded. All those who have accepted His redemption eagerly anticipate His return to share the eternal life He makes possible by His sacrifice!

Earl L. Henn (1934-1997)
Holy Days: Passover


 

1 Corinthians 11:23-29

I Corinthians 11:17-34 encapsulates the solution to a tragic story of gluttony, drunkenness, class distinction, and party spirit—all within the framework of the "love feasts" of a Christian congregation! Why were some guilty of these sins? Because, despite being converted, some of them neither loved God nor their brethren, which a reading of the entire epistle reveals.

To what does Paul refer them to correct their abominable behavior? To the Passover service and Christ's death! Christ's death is the supreme example of unselfish and sacrificial service in behalf of the undeserving guilty. It is the highest, most brilliant example of love.

Out of a beneficent good will, the Father and the Son freely gave of themselves for the sake of our well-being. For those of us still in the flesh, this beneficent goodwill results in our forgiveness, forging a foundation from which the same approach to life can begin to be exercised. When we can properly judge ourselves in terms of what we are in relation to Their freely given sacrifices, it frees us, not only to conduct life as They do, but eventually to receive everlasting life too.

Job confesses in Job 42:5-6, "I have heard of You by the hearing of the ear, but now my eye sees You. Therefore I abhor myself, and repent in dust and ashes." Though Job was among the most upright of men, all his life he had held a wrong evaluation of himself in relation to God and other men. Yet when God allowed him to "see" himself, as He did the apostle Paul in Romans 7, Job was devastated, his vanity crushed, and he repented. Now, he was truly prepared to begin to love.

"Do this in remembrance of Me" has a couple of alternative renderings that may help us understand more clearly. It can be rendered more literally, "Do this for the remembering of Me," or "Do this in case you forget." God does not want us to let this sacrifice get very far from our minds. It is not that He wants maudlin sentimentality from us. Instead, He wants to remind us that it represents the measure of His love for us as well as of our worth to Him, that we always bear a right sense of obligation, not as an overbearing burden, but a wondering awe that He would pay so much for something so utterly defiled.

We are admonished to remember not merely the personality Jesus, but the whole package: His connection to the Old Testament Passover; His life of sacrificial service; His violent, bloody death for the remission of the sins of mankind; the sacrificial connection to the New Covenant; and who He was, our sinless Creator! This act becomes the foundation of all loving relationships possible to us with God and His Family because it provides us reason to hope that our lives are not spent in vain. In addition, it motivates us to do what we failed to do that put us into debt in the first place—to love.

Paul admonishes in verse 29, "For he who eats and drinks in an unworthy manner eats and drinks judgment to himself, not discerning the Lord's body." To eat the bread or drink the wine in an unworthy manner is to treat His sacrifice with casual, disrespectful ingratitude—a better translation might be "without due appreciation, especially as shown by one's life." It means that the person who does this is not showing much love in his life because he is barely aware of his sins and the enormous cost of forgiveness.

Such a person is not really free to love because he is still wrapped up in himself. When we take Passover, let us strive to remember that our fellowship at that special time is with Him. The others there to participate in the service are at that time only incidental to our relationship with Christ. The focus is on Christ and our unpayable debt and subsequent obligation.

John W. Ritenbaugh
An Unpayable Debt and Obligation


 

1 Corinthians 11:24-25

Concerning the bread and wine, Christ instructs us, "Do this in remembrance of Me". This command could also be translated, "Do this for the remembering of me," or "Do this in case you forget." God does not want us to let His Son's sacrifice get very far from our minds. He does not want us to get maudlin over it, but to remember that it represents the measure of His love and our worth to Him. Remembering helps us retain a right sense of obligation. He does not wish that our obligation become a burden, but fill us with a wonder, an awe, that He would pay so much for something so utterly defiled.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Passover, Obligation, and Love


 

1 Corinthians 11:24-29

The "cup" symbolizes the blood Jesus spilled in sacrificing His life. God is saying that through the blood of Christ, He is "sealing" His agreement of salvation with us. Though He had already promised it, Christ's blood certifies His agreement to justify us in preparation for salvation (Romans 5:9-10).

Such a monumental sacrifice must be fittingly remembered! If Passover becomes a mere ritual or pious habit, it loses its significance because Christ is not really being remembered with understanding and appreciation. In his letter to the Corinthians, Paul describes the brethren as rushing through the service, their minds so focused on their own bellies that they were treating each other with selfish disregard. Passover's purpose is not just to remember certain historical events, but to grasp the point of Christ's death. If we fail to comprehend its meaning, we are much more likely to treat His death unworthily.

Paul covers three major subjects in I Corinthians 11 and the chapters surrounding it: 1) our relationship with God, 2) our relationship with other members of the church and 3) spiritual liberty. Their common factor—the unique means by which all three are made possible—is the sacrifice of Jesus Christ.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Christ, Our Passover


 

1 Corinthians 11:26

The eating and drinking of these symbols reminds us every Passover of our Savior's death. We should remember, not only that He died, but also what manner of death He suffered. More importantly, we are forced to remember why His sacrifice was necessary.

Staff
Discerning Christ's Broken Body


 

1 Corinthians 11:26-29

Some misunderstand verse 26, which says: "As often as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup," by interpreting it "take it as often as you wish." But it does not say that!

It says "as often" as you observe it, "ye do show the Lord's death till he come." Even Jesus commanded, "This do ye, as oft as ye drink it, in remembrance of me" (verse 25). We do it in remembrance of the Lord's death - a memorial of His death. As you know, memorials are celebrated annually, once a year, on the anniversary of the events commemorated. So we observe the memorial of Christ's death annually. And just as often as each year comes around, we are to "show the Lord's death till he come," by keeping this memorial.

Christ instituted this ordinance on the eve of His death. It was the 14th of Abib, by God's Sacred Calendar, in the very beginning of the day. God starts days at sunset, not midnight. So, later that same day, after Jesus had gone out to Gethsemane, Judas Iscariot led the crowd to seize Jesus. Then He was crucified later that same day, in the daylight part of this same 14th of the month Abib.

By following the example of Jesus in observing this sacred ordinance at the same time He did - the very same time the Passover was forever commanded to be observed - we continue to remember His death, annually, on the eve of the crucifixion.

Some always question the meaning of Paul in verses 27-29 in I Corinthians 11. The apostle is not speaking about a Christian being worthy or unworthy to take it. It is speaking of the manner in which it is done. We take it unworthily if we take it wrongly, in the wrong manner. Once we learn the truth about its observance, and yet take it at any other time than when God says, then we take it unworthily. We take it unworthily if we do not accept the body and blood of Christ. So let's not take this most sacred ordinance to our condemnation, but take it worthily instead!

Herbert W. Armstrong (1892-1986)
The Plain Truth About Easter


 

1 Corinthians 11:27-28

"Examine" (dokimazo) means to prove, to test, to determine if metal is pure. It connotes approval rather than condemnation. Our self-evaluation is an honest inspection to see if we are progressing as God expects us to. He wants us to see what the attitude of our heart is! Then we can take the Passover confidently with a right heart.

When Paul says "examine yourself," he is not referring to an "out-of-body experience," yet it could be likened to that. God wants us to stand to one side and look at ourselves, making an honest evaluation of our progress over the past year.

Some of us do not truly realize what a wonderful season the pre-Passover period is. We can fool ourselves all year long by rarely studying, praying sporadically, and maintaining our vices, but if we remotely care what God thinks of us, we are forced to face our true natures in this self-examination. God wants us to do this for our own good. He wants us to see what we need to work on and change.

He wants us to worship Him in Spirit and truth (John 4:24). He wants us to be honest in our evaluation. Though we often dredge up past problems and old feelings from childhood of which we have long ago repented, God wants us to examine our present state. We must look for flaws we have now and seriously and positively make the necessary changes in our lives.

John O. Reid (1930-2016)
Time for Self-Evaluation


 

1 Corinthians 11:27

It is quite possible to eat the Passover unworthily. When we do so, we take upon ourselves the guilt of Christ's death. That is, our attitude denigrates His sacrifice, and, in effect, it is as though He died in vain.

Staff
Discerning Christ's Broken Body


 

1 Corinthians 11:28

Self-examination of our manner of life and our attitude is therefore paramount in discerning the Lord's body, what He suffered and why. Once we come to realize these things, the Passover's significance becomes very personal, and it becomes crucial for us to participate in it.

Staff
Discerning Christ's Broken Body


 

1 Corinthians 11:28-29

Understanding Christ's sacrifice properly determines the quality of our observance of the Passover. To prevent taking it in a careless and unappreciative manner, Paul charges us to examine ourselves, discerning the Lord's body. "Examine" means to test, prove or scrutinize to determine whether a thing is genuine. "Discern" means to separate, discriminate, to make a distinction for the purpose of giving preference.

An example will help to illustrate what this should accomplish. I have twice had the opportunity to observe a day's play of the Masters golf tournament in Augusta, Georgia. After a short time, I became aware that the spectators there were different from fans at other professional sporting events. Besides enjoying the professional golf, I began watching and listening to the spectators just as closely and found them to be the most appreciative spectators I had ever seen. I soon discovered why. They had, for the most part, personally attempted to make the same shots that the professionals seemed to do so effortlessly. And most of them had failed! This realization drove the spectators to appreciate deeply the professional golfers' skills.

Our pre-Passover preparations should involve this principle. A major factor that enables us to take Passover in a "worthy" manner is seriously reviewing our spiritual and moral failures in contrast to the perfect glory of our Savior, Jesus Christ. This Man lived thirty-three-and-a-half years without committing even one sin!

To avoid taking Passover unworthily, we should not take it without seriously considering its meaning. If we fail to do this, instead of honoring Christ's sacrifice, we share in the guilt of those who crucified Him. However, awareness of sin should not keep us from taking Passover. It should drive us to it, for our grateful participation in eating and drinking the symbols enables our sins to be paid.

Despite our self-examination, the focus at Passover is not on ourselves but on the payment for our sins, the means by which we are forgiven. It is a time to concentrate on the most elementary precepts of our salvation, especially on the part Jesus Christ plays in it. Only by a thorough understanding of the fundamentals of any discipline, and energetically and skillfully using them, will we produce success in an endeavor. In this way of life, if we do not understand and use the fundamentals, we will not overcome sin.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Christ, Our Passover


 

1 Corinthians 11:29

None of us needs to fall short because we misunderstand and thus neglect the importance of what Jesus did in our behalf.

The Contemporary English Version (CEV) renders this verse, "If you fail to understand that you are the body of the Lord, you will condemn yourselves by the way you eat and drink." The Amplified Bible translates it, "For anyone who eats and drinks without discriminating and recognizing with due appreciation that [it is Christ's] body, eats and drinks a sentence (a verdict of judgment) upon himself."

These translations show two possible understandings of what Paul meant. The CEV contemplates our overall response in how we, knowing we are Christ's body, conduct our daily lives, whereas The Amplified Bible focuses on appreciation of Christ's literal sacrifice while actually taking the bread and wine. Both approaches are correct. In either case, Passover must affect our life in a positive way, or it brings judgment against us.

Along with appreciation and respect, God desires an understanding so deep, strong, and consistent that it motivates us to glorify Him by conforming to His will in daily life. This sense of obligation is not a maudlin sentimentality, but is of such sincere and intense gratitude that it gives us insight into the standard of selflessness Christ exemplified. We must strive to put it into practice in our lives if we are to be like Him and be in our Father's Kingdom.

Put another way, our obligation is to love Them as They loved us—not a resigned attitude of "Okay, I'll do it because I have to" that issues in low-level, letter-of-the-law obedience, but a love that expresses itself in fervent, sacrificial affection, as the woman in Luke 7 exemplified. This level of love is reasonable to pursue because it drives us far beyond mere superficial conformity. Notice how Romans 12:1-2 draws our attention to this:

I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God which is your reasonable service. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.

Paul proclaims that this sacrificial love will serve to transform us and provide the proof we need to bolster us in following God's will.

John W. Ritenbaugh
A Priceless Gift


 

2 Corinthians 13:5

We generally take one of two approaches to self-examination. The first is something on the order of, "I'm no good. I've never lived up to my expectations. I'm just worthless."

Some of us hail from some pretty painful backgrounds. A handful have been molested and feel worthless because of it. Others have been told they were useless from childhood and have a very low opinion of themselves. Many have just had terrible experiences that have left scars, making accurate self-examination very difficult.

We may not like ourselves, and we wonder how anyone else could like us—especially God. We may look at ourselves, at the plethora of mistakes that dot our past, and judge ourselves harshly. In some cases, we feel we are unworthy to take the Passover.

The second approach to self-examination is just the opposite. Here we give ourselves a quick once-over and go on our way. Like the man in James 1 who looks in the mirror, sees what he is, but immediately forgets, some of us fail to give our lives a thorough evaluation.

We may think, "Well, in Romans 7 it shows that Paul sinned. He didn't want to, but the sin in him caused him to. Man will never be perfect until the return of Christ. If Paul couldn't overcome sin, then I guess that God knows that we really can't get out all the sin. I'll try, but if it's too hard, I'm sure that God will understand." A person who uses this approach may feel he is taking the Passover seriously, but in fact has not done a proper self-examination.

John O. Reid (1930-2016)
Time for Self-Evaluation


 

2 Corinthians 13:5

We understand that we are to examine ourselves in the weeks preceding Passover and the Days of Unleavened Bread. Sometimes, however, we miss the purpose for the examination. Consider these two scriptures in relation to self-examination:

» Examine yourselves as to whether you are in the faith. Prove yourselves. Do you not know yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you?—unless indeed you are disqualified. (II Corinthians 13:5)

» For we dare not class ourselves or compare ourselves with those who commend themselves. But they, measuring themselves by themselves, and comparing themselves among themselves, are not wise. (II Corinthians 10:12)

If we are not careful in this, we can easily fall into two snares, both of which center on the self.

The most obvious one, expressed in II Corinthians 10:12, is that we will judge ourselves in light of other people. This fatal trap deceitfully provides us with self-justification for the way we are. The result is that we will not change or grow because we will be judging according to our own standards—and why change perfection? Self-examination by our own code produces self-righteousness.

The other dangerous snare occurs when our self-examination is so rigorous that we become very depressed and feel salvation is impossible. This is just as utterly self-indulgent as the other! This "woe is me" approach is a not-too-subtle blast against God's judgment and grace for calling us and making things so difficult for us!

Anyone who compares himself to others is not exhibiting faith in God. He is telling God that His Son's life means little to him. Likewise, anyone who feels so morose with guilt that he threatens not to take the Passover is not exhibiting faith in God. He is telling God that He is unable to forgive that much.

At Passover, our focus should be on the payment for sin through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ. God in His grace is willing to forgive our transgressions on the basis of Christ's death. During Unleavened Bread, the focus shifts to overcoming sin and coming out of this world through God's power, which is also part of His grace. At Passover, it is the grace of God to justify us through Christ's blood. At Unleavened Bread, it is the grace of God to sanctify us as we move toward His Kingdom and glorification.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Christ, Our Passover


 

Galatians 4:9-10

The common, traditional explanation of Galatians 4:9-10 is that Paul is reprimanding the Galatians for returning to Old Testament observances that were a form of "bondage." Insisting that Paul taught that the Old Testament law was "done away" (Colossians 2:14), they conclude that Christians should not keep the days that God had commanded Israel to keep. In verse 10, Paul mentions observances of "days and months and seasons and years." Some contend that these observances refer to God's Sabbath and holy days commanded in the Old Testament. But this interpretation overlooks many foundational points.

Galatia was not a city but a province in Asia Minor. The church membership was undoubtedly composed mainly of Gentiles, and the males were physically uncircumcised (Galatians 5:2; 6:12-13). In looking at Paul's initial dealings with these people, we find that they had a history of worshipping pagan deities. In Lystra, a city in Galatia, God healed a crippled man through Paul (Acts 14:8-18). The people of the area were so astonished at this miracle that they supposed Barnabas and Paul, whom they called Zeus and Hermes (verse 12), to be pagan gods! They wanted to sacrifice to them, and would have, if the apostles had not stopped them (verses 13-18). This shows that the people in Galatia were generally superstitious and worshipped pagan deities.

The major theme of the Galatian epistle is to put them "back on the track" because someone had been teaching "a different gospel," a perversion of the gospel of Christ (Galatians 1:6-7). The Galatians had derailed on their understanding of how sinners are justified. False teachers in Galatia taught that one was justified by doing physical works of some kind. The majority of evidence indicates that the false teachers were teaching a blend of Judaism and Gnosticism. The philosophy of Gnosticism taught that everything physical was evil, and that people could attain a higher spiritual understanding through effort. It was the type of philosophy that its adherents thought could be used to enhance or improve anyone's religion. In Paul's letter to the Colossians, we read of this same philosophy having an influence on the church there. It was characterized by strict legalism, a "taste not, touch not" attitude, neglect of the body, worship of angels, and a false humility (Colossians 2:18-23).

What, then, were the "days, months, seasons and years" that Paul criticizes the Galatians for observing? First, Paul nowhere in the entire letter mentions God's holy days. Second, the apostle would never refer to holy days that God instituted as "weak and beggarly elements." He honored and revered God's law (Romans 7:12, 14, 16). Besides, he taught the Corinthians to observe Passover and the Days of Unleavened Bread (I Corinthians 5:7-8), and he kept the Sabbath and holy days himself (Acts 16:13; 18:21; 20:6; I Corinthians 16:8).

When the scriptures in question are put into context, the explanation of what these days were becomes clear. In Galatians 4:1-5, Paul draws an analogy in which he likens the Jew to a child who is waiting to come into an inheritance and the Gentile to a slave in the same household. He explains how, before the coming of Christ, the spiritual state of the Jew was no different from the Gentile because neither had had their sins forgiven nor had they received God's Spirit. Prior to the coming of Christ, both Jews and Gentiles were "in bondage under the elements of the world" (verse 3).

The word "elements" is the Greek stoicheion, which means any first thing or principal. "In bondage under the elements of the world" refers to the fact that the unconverted mind is subject to the influence of Satan and his demons, the rulers of this world and the authors of all idolatrous worship. Satan and his demons are the origin, the underlying cause, of the evil ways of this world, and all unconverted humans are under their sway. "Because the carnal mind is enmity against God; for it is not subject to the law of God, nor indeed can be" (Romans 8:7). Paul is saying that both Jews and Gentiles had been in bondage to sin.

In Galatians 4:8, Paul brings up the subject of the idolatry and paganism that they had participated in before their conversion. "But then, indeed, when you did not know God, you served those which by nature are not gods." This obviously refers to the worship of pagan deities (Acts 14:8-18). He is making it clear that God had called them out of that way of life. Paul continues this thought in verse 9, where his obvious concern was that the Galatians were returning to the way of life from which God had called them. The "weak and beggarly elements" were demon-inspired, idolatrous practices, NOT something God had commanded. "Elements" here is the same word, stoicheion, translated "elements" in verse 3. An extension of stoicheion can refer to the heavenly bodies that regulate the calendar and are associated with pagan festivals. The apostle condemns the practices and way of life that had been inspired by Satan and his demons, the principal cause of all the world's evil. Paul recognized that the Galatians had begun to return to their former slavish, sinful practices.

It is evident that the "days, months, seasons and years" Paul refers to in verse 10 were the pagan, idolatrous festivals and observances that the Galatian Gentiles had observed before their conversion. They could not possibly be God's holy days because these Gentiles had never observed them before being called, nor would Paul ever call them "weak and beggerly." Rather, they were turning back to their old, heathen way of life that included keeping various superstitious holidays connected to the worship of pagan deities.

Far from doing away with God's holy days, these scriptures show that we should not be observing "days, months, seasons and years" that have their roots in paganism, such as Christmas, Easter, Valentine's Day, Halloween, and any other days that originated from the worship of pagan gods.

Earl L. Henn (1934-1997)
Does Paul Condemn Observing God's Holy Days?


 

Hebrews 2:5-10

Now, since we are co-heirs with Christ, we are co-heirs with Him of all things—everything that God made through Jesus Christ: the universe and everything that is in it! Are we, in the rush of life, forgetting who we are? Are we neglecting the fact that God will turn the governance of the things He has made—this awesome universe—over into our hands? When that happens, we will not be as poor and pitifully weak as we are now.

But we should not undervalue what we are. If we do, we will not take Passover in the right attitude, because what Passover represents was done for us so that we would be in a position to inherit all things. We do not have to feel like we just crawled from under a rock! We have been blessed beyond our wildest imaginations, but for now in God's plan, we are a little lower than Elohim. Yet, what a future lies before us!

Even now, we are the "apple of God's eye," the focus of His attention. We are so important to Him that His Son died for us. Truly, He died for the whole world, but right now, before He calls and converts the whole world, it is for you and me that the Creator died so that we could become co-heirs with Him. He wants to share what He made with us because He likes what He made. It is beautiful and has awesome potential, and just as any artist who makes something beautiful wants to share his creation with others, so does Jesus Christ, so that we can appreciate it and emulate it in our own works.

John W. Ritenbaugh
A Pre-Passover Look


 

Hebrews 9:19-26

This passage contains a couple of points to help us understand why Jesus Christ's death took place late on the afternoon of Abib 14, while the Passover was commanded to be observed at the beginning of that day. The first is that the entire sacrificial system, the Aaronic priesthood, and the Tabernacle system of worship were only copies of a spiritual reality. While the instructions given in the Pentateuch about these things are decidedly important in their own right—including the Passover instructions—they point to something that is vastly more significant. The physical rites were critically important for what God was doing with a carnal people, and they still contain valuable principles for us, but they in no way supersede the spiritual, heavenly reality.

Secondly, Jesus perfectly fulfilled all the spiritual requirements on which these physical rites were based. But it is imperative to remember that what was most important is what needed to be accomplished spiritually. The Father and the Son determined what needed to happen to meet the spiritual requirements. This passage shows that the Father was perfectly satisfied with everything that Jesus did, thus whatever the spiritual requirements were for the various sacrifices and rituals, they have been met. Everything in the sacrificial system that was of consequence to God's plan and His sense of justice has been fulfilled.

Yet, even though the physical rites point to the spiritual reality, they do not match up exactly. For example, the Israelites were required to make a morning sacrifice and an evening sacrifice. There is no doubt that Jesus Christ fulfilled all sacrificial requirements, including those. However, He was not crucified in the morning nor in the evening when those sacrifices were supposed to be made. He was not killed on a Sabbath, when special sacrifices were made. Nor was He killed on a new moon, when other special sacrifices were made. (The 14th day of the month is a full moon.)

Taking this a step further, the Day of Atonement is considered the holiest and most solemn day of the year. Only then could the high priest enter the Holy of Holies. The blood sacrifices for the sins of the priest and the nation were very detailed. In the passage above, Christ's sacrifice is described in the imagery of the Day of Atonement, not of the Passover. Jesus, though, was not sacrificed on Atonement. His blood was never sprinkled on any altar, let alone the Mercy Seat. Our High Priest did not enter the Holy of Holies of the physical Temple. He entered the heavenly Temple, but if He did that when He ascended to the Father, He did not do even that on the Day of Atonement.

Clearly, the way that Christ fulfilled all of these things was not identical to the requirements He gave to Israel. Rather, the instructions given to them were only types of what He would later fulfill in His life, crucifixion, and death.

David C. Grabbe
Why Was Jesus Not Crucified as Passover Began? (Part One)


 

Hebrews 10:1-4

Perhaps one might think of this as being a rather minor affair, but God shows that He had—and so we must have—respect for the life of an animal. God, in the instructions regarding the regular sacrifices, says not to eat the blood! He says this out of respect for the animal because its life was in its blood. The blood had to be drained on the ground, not imbibed by a human being.

Animals have at least a low level of feeling. They experience fear; situations can frighten them. What animal owner does not think that his pet, his dog or cat, has a special relationship or special feeling for him? Can we extend that out—that a bullock, a goat, a sheep, a kid of the goats, or a lamb might have feelings too? Not human feelings, certainly, but they have life and they symbolize—every single one of them—the life of Jesus Christ. How many animals had to give their lives to make a witness, an example of that? We will never know, but just to help us understand, Josephus records that one year during his lifetime, the Romans took a census of all of the lambs that were killed in Jerusalem, and 256,000 lambs were killed on Passover alone—256,000 lambs on one Passover just to teach a lesson to Israel and to us.

Perhaps it would help us to understand why God told the Israelites in Exodus 12 that keeping Passover was to be a family affair. It was not done at the Temple or the Tabernacle. God commanded that everybody killed his own lamb—every family. He wanted to make the point to all that each person is responsible for the death of the Lamb of God, Jesus Christ!

Consider that Israelite families were not rich. Most of them had small herds and flocks—just a few sheep and lambs. They lived, in most cases, with their animals, and when they put a lamb to death on Passover, it was very likely the family pet! They killed and ate something that was very close to them—something that they had treated like part of the family. This was an object lesson, and God allowed millions of them to occur!

As far as God is concerned, nothing is too great a price to pay for us.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Awesome Cost of Salvation


 

1 Peter 1:18-21

Jesus lay dead and buried three days and three nights. His resurrection is the foundation of our faith, and His glorification is God's pledge to us that there is hope for our future. I Peter 1:20 emphasizes that "He indeed was foreordained before the foundation of the world" to be that sacrifice. That is not merely foresight, that is planning! God's plan included redemption from the very beginning.

Verse 19 stresses the value of His sacrifice by using the word "precious," translated "honor" three times in chapters 2 and 3. The Greek word means "to place a value upon," and this is exactly what we are to do in preparation for Passover! We are to assess the value of His sacrifice to us personally. What would you be willing to pay for His sacrifice?

Verse 18 emphasizes "knowing." The Christian lives his life knowing the redemption Christ accomplished. The price of our redemption is the value we place on the Life given for our forgiveness. Our former lives were "aimless" because of the value we placed on possessions and our own satisfaction. Now our lives have direction because we count Christ's sacrifice as priceless!

John W. Ritenbaugh
Christ, Our Passover


 

Revelation 10:9

"Take and eat it" sounds very much like what Jesus said to His disciples when He told them to eat the unleavened bread during the Passover service. Eating the bread symbolizes partaking of His flesh, that is, devoting ourselves to the life He lives, becoming one with Him as part of His Body, living as He lives. Eating the little book has a similar meaning.

Richard T. Ritenbaugh
The Two Witnesses (Part 1)


 

Find more Bible verses about Passover:
Passover {Nave's}
 




The Berean: Daily Verse and Comment

The Berean: Daily Verse and Comment

Sign up for the Berean: Daily Verse and Comment, and have Biblical truth delivered to your inbox. This daily newsletter provides a starting point for personal study, and gives valuable insight into the verses that make up the Word of God. See what over 140,000 subscribers are already receiving each day.

Email Address:

   

We respect your privacy. Your email address will not be sold, distributed, rented, or in any way given out to a third party. We have nothing to sell. You may easily unsubscribe at any time.
 A | B | C | D | E | F | G | H | I | J | K | L | M | N | O | P | Q | R | S | T | U | V | W | X | Y | Z
©Copyright 1992-2017 Church of the Great God.   Contact C.G.G. if you have questions or comments.
Share this on FacebookGoogle+RedditEmailPrinter version
Close
E-mail This Page