Sunday, March 15, 2015

Passover Lamb

From the Gospel of John:
Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world! [Jn 1:29]
An angel of the Lord instructed Philip to journey south on the desert road that leads from Jerusalem to Gaza. A court official of the Ethiopian queen was returning home after worshipping in Jerusalem, and Philip found him reading from the prophet Isaiah [Is 53:7-8]:
He was led like a sheep to the slaughter, and as a lamb before its shearer is silent, so He did not open his mouth. In His humiliation He was deprived of justice. Who can speak of His descendants? For His life was taken from the earth [Acts 8:32-33].
[Who can speak of His descendants? Contrary to liberal thought Jesus Christ was not married, nor did He have children!]

Moved by the Holy Spirit, Philip asked the man if he understood the scripture that he was reading; and the Bible says that Philip began to preach Jesus from the Scriptures [Acts 8:35].

It is notable that before the New Testament was written people learned of Jesus Christ from reading the Law and prophets. The Old Testament is a signpost of the types and shadows pointing towards the coming Messiah. Indeed, the Rabbin have taught from ancient times that references to the last days. or day of the Lord are Messianic prophecies of the age of  Mashiach.

We can see this is by examining the Feasts of Israel. YHWH established appointed times that the nation of Israel would meet with Him in worship and thanksgiving. There were three feasts in the Spring (Passover, Unleavened Bread and First Fruits); one in the Summer (Pentecost); and three in the Fall (Trumpets, Atonement and Tabernacle).

Jesus Christ is the fulfillment of these feasts, or appointed times. When He spoke from the cross, It is finished [Jn 19:30], our Lord closed the book on the Old Covenant, and established a New Covenant written in His blood:
Behold, days are coming, declares the LORD, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah, not like the covenant which I made with their fathers in the day I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt, My covenant which they broke, although I was a husband to them. But this is the covenant which I will make with the house of Israel after those days,  I will put My law within them and on their heart I will write it; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people [Jer 31:31-33].
This New Covenant was instituted by Christ at Passover:
While they were eating, Jesus took some bread, and after a blessing, He broke it and gave it to the disciples, and said, Take, eat; this is My body [Mt 26:26].
And when He had taken a cup and given thanks, He gave it to them, saying: Drink from it, all of you; for this is My blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for forgiveness of sins [Mt 26:27-28].
What the Law could not do [that is, redeem us from our sins] Christ our Lord fulfilled on the cross [Romans 8:3].

A year earlier, while teaching in the synagogue at Capernaum, Jesus said something which confounded even His disciples:
Anyone who eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me, and I in him [John 6:56].
Understand this mystery. It is the Word of God that nourishes the soul -- and Jesus Christ is the Word  made flesh [John 1:14].

The LORD spoke unto Moses:
These are the appointed times of the LORD, holy convocations which you shall proclaim at the times appointed for them. In the first month, on the fourteenth day of the month at twilight is the LORD’S Passover. Then on the fifteenth day of the same month there is the Feast of Unleavened Bread to the LORD; for seven days you shall eat unleavened bread [Lv 23:4-6].
On the 14th day of Nisan (Hebrew calendar), Passover  is celebrated. This is a fixed date which falls within the month(s) of March/April on the Christian calendar. YHWH told Moses that Nisan would be the beginning of months as the first month of the year. At twilight, on the fourteenth day, each household was to offer an unblemished, sacrificial lamb. The blood of the lamb was to be spread on the doorposts and lintel of the house:
The blood shall be a sign for you on the houses where you live; and when I see the blood I will pass over you, and no plague will befall you to destroy you when I strike the land of Egypt [Ex 12:13].
After the LORD had executed judgement upon Egypt, Pharaoh called Moses and Aaron to take the captive sons of Israel out from the land of exile. They left in such haste that their kneaded dough was not yet leavened thus the children of Israel ate unleavened bread for seven days following Passover as a reminder of how YHWH brought them out of the land.

Matzah is traditionally eaten during the Passover Seder meal. The dough is striped and pricked with holes representing the scourging and piercing of our Lord Jesus Christ. When Yeshua broke matzah (at the Last Supper) He was passing to His disciples what represented His sinless (unleavened), broken body offered as the sacrificial Lamb of God. 

The Feast of First Fruits is celebrated on the day following the Sabbath of Passover week. In the year of our Lord's Passion, First Fruits fell on Sunday (the day of our Lord's resurrection):
But now Christ has been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who are asleep. For since by a man came death, by a man also came the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ all will be made alive. But each in his own order: Christ the first fruits, after that those who are Christ’s at His coming [1 Co 15:20-23].
(First Fruits presents a dilemma for Orthodox Jews who, because of its Messianic relevance, choose to ignore the feast.)

In all love we must say that the Easter celebration does not reveal the beautiful depth and saving grace of Elohim's plan of salvation fulfilled in the sacrifice of our Lord Jesus Christ. Bunnies and eggs, representative of pagan fertility rites, were co-opted by the Church which also established the date for Easter at the First Council of Nicaea in 325 AD.

We are not commanded to celebrate Easter, or Christmas (see our post The Idol of Christmas); but the first century assembly commemorated the resurrection of Christ within the calendar days of Passover (First Fruits), and certainly on the first day of the week when they met and broke bread:
On the first day of the week, when we were gathered together to break bread, Paul began talking to them, intending to leave the next day, and he prolonged his message until midnight [Acts 20:7].
The Ishtar egg was a Babylonian fable in which a giant egg fell into the river Euphrates, and from this egg the fertility goddess Astarte (Easter) was hatched. The rabbit was associated with the Mother Goddess of fertility; and Eastre was worshipped as the Teutonic goddess of Spring. One of the greatest sins of Israel was their adoption of pagan rituals, or playing the harlot with other gods [Jdg 2:17].
Then the sons of Israel did evil in the sight of the LORD and served the Baals (false gods), and they forsook the LORD, the God of their fathers, who had brought them out of the land of Egypt, and followed other gods from among the gods of the peoples who were around them, and bowed themselves down to them; thus they provoked the LORD to anger [Jdg 2:11-15].
To associate pagan symbols (rabbits and eggs) with the death, burial and bodily resurrection of our Savior is, well, not kosher.

We have seen, then, that Jesus Christ fulfilled the appointed times, or Spring feasts of the LORD. He was our Passover Lamb, Unleavened Bread and First Fruits. Counting 50 days from the Feast of First Fruits (the day our Lord rose from the dead) the Summer feast of Pentecost, or Shavuot is celebrated. This is the day the LORD met with Israel after the Exodus, and when YHWH delivered the Law unto Moses. It is on the day of Pentecost that the LORD poured out his Holy Spirit upon the body of Christ.
I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may be with you forever; that is the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it does not see Him or know Him, but you know Him because He abides with you and will be in you [Jn 14:16-17].
When the Helper comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, that is the Spirit of truth who proceeds from the Father, He will testify about Me, and you will testify also, because you have been with Me from the beginning [Jn 15:26-27].
When the day of Pentecost had come, they were all together in one place. And suddenly there came from heaven a noise like a violent rushing wind, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting. And there appeared to them tongues as of fire distributing themselves, and they rested on each one of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit was giving them utterance [Acts 2:1-4].
Finally, Jesus Christ is the fulfillment of the Fall Feasts which are celebrated on the Christian calendar in the months of Sept/Oct. Yeshua is our Atonement, or substitutionary sacrifice.
For the life of the flesh is in the blood, and I have given it to you on the altar to make atonement for your souls; for it is the blood by reason of the life that makes atonement [Lv 17:11].
For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received, that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures [1 Co 15:3].
Trumpets will be the regathering of His people.
Behold, I tell you a mystery; we will not all sleep, but we will all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet; for the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed [1 Co 15:51-53].
For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first [1 Thessalonians 4:16].
Then we who are alive and remain will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we shall always be with the Lord [1 Thessalonians 4:17].
The Feast of Booths, or Tabernacle represents our eternal rest and reunion with Christ our Lord.
So there remains a Sabbath rest for the people of God. For the one who has entered His rest has himself also rested from his works, as God did from His. Therefore let us be diligent to enter that rest [He 4:9-11].
We love our Christian brothers and sisters in the Lord, but please excuse us if we don't color Easter eggs, or eat chocolate bunnies.

Christ is our Passover Lamb slain from the foundation of the world, and we joyously exclaim with the body of Christ (both Jew and Greek):

He is Risen!

Suggested Reading: The Kosher Christian

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