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Understanding Scripture in Light of a Jewish Timeline

Passover (Pesach)

This year, Passover and Easter are very close to each other. Passover starts on April 19th and Easter occurs on April 21st. Passover occurs on the 15th day of the month Nissan which typically begins on the on the night of a full moon after the northern vernal equinox. Easter is similar as it occurs on the first Sunday after the first full moon occurring on or after the vernal equinox. The two usually fall close to each other but can be up to a month apart. Some feel Passover is a Jewish holiday while Easter is a non-Jewish holiday. We’ll get to understanding their relationship and this difference later. For this post, lets focus on Passover.

The Jewish feasts mentioned in Leviticus 23 have a prophecy component to them as well as a memorial component. We’ll look at the first three in this post: Passover (Pesach), Unleavened Bread (Matzah), and First Fruit (Bikkurim). They occurred back to back in the first month of the Jewish calendar.

Right before the first Passover (Pesach), on the 10th day of 1st month (Adar/Nissan or March/April of our calendar), a 1-year old lamb was set aside until the 14th day of the month. This ensured the lamb was unblemished. On the 14th day of the 1st month, a lamb was slaughtered at twilight and blood put on the sides and tops of the doorframe of one’s house. That night, the roasted lamb, along with bitter herbs and bread made without yeast, was eaten. None of the lamb was to be left at morning and none of its bones were to be broken. They were to eat the meal in haste while being dressed for travel, as the angel of death would pass over their houses because of the blood on their doorposts. This was to be a lasting ordinance – one to be celebrated for all time.

From the evening of the 14th day of the 1st month to the evening of the 21st day of the 1st month (7 days), leaven (yeast) was purged from one’s house and only unleavened bread was eaten for 7 days. This was the Feast of Unleavened Bread or Matzah. This was celebrating the day God separated Israel from Egypt. This was a lasting ordinance – one to be celebrated for all time. This represents sanctification. The Israelites left Egypt (sinful ways) and pledged themselves to God; traveled through the wilderness (our earthly life) understanding more about God who delivered them to their Promised Land (7th day of Feast – number of completion). This also points to Christ’s sinless life and the understanding of the matzah of Passover.

First Fruits (Bikkurim) occurred the day after the Sabbath (i.e., the day after the first day of Unleavened Bread which is treated as a Sabbath). The first sheaf of the barley harvest was brought to the priest. The priest was to wave the first sheaf before the Lord. Also, an offering of each of the following was made: a 1-yr old lamb as a burnt offering, a grain offering, and a drink offering. This was a lasting ordinance – one to be celebrated for all time.

There were a couple of reasons for these feasts. It became a relationship builder with their God by setting up memorials of notable events in Israel’s history. The feast countered pagan influences, offered an alternative to pagan harvests festivals, and represented their dependence upon God for everything.

Passover points to Christ as our acceptable sacrifice. As the blood on the doorposts caused the death angel to pass over that household, Christ’s blood and our acceptance of his payment, by faith, causes death to pass over us.

Unleavened Bread (Matzah) points to yeast as a symbol of sin (not always, but usually). Christ’s death was acceptable because it was free of sin.

First Fruit (Bikkurim) represents the first of something more to come. Jesus was the first fruit of the resurrection (1Co 15:23), and points to the fact that one day we also will be resurrected.

Jeremiah 23:5-8, tells us that Passover in the future will be different from today’s Passover: “The days are coming,” declares the LORD, “when I will raise up to David a righteous Branch, a King who will reign wisely and do what is just and right in the land. In his days Judah will be saved and Israel will live in safety. This is the name by which he will be called: The LORD Our Righteousness. ”So then, the days are coming,” declares the LORD, “when people will no longer say, ‘As surely as the LORD lives who brought the Israelites up out of Egypt,’ but they will say, ‘As surely as the LORD lives, who brought the descendants of Israel up out of the land of the north and out of all the countries where he had banished them.’ Then they will live in their own land.”

This is important because it shows us that God keeps His promises. Time is not a factor in whether a promise of God will be kept. This gives us hope that promises that God have given to us will also be kept. What seems impossible to us is not impossible to God. We can trust in what God has stated no matter if how it will be accomplished cannot be understood by us. The Passover will be important for all who put their trust in Jesus Christ. Passover is a “forever” ordinance. We should therefore understand its significance. We have a very promising future. Are you ready for it?