Passover for Israel was and is a time for Israel to remember, to remember our redemption from bondage to remember the God who delivered us, and to remember to abide in Him. For as our fathers learned in the wilderness, we can do nothing without Him.

(Exo 12:24-27) “And you shall observe this event as an ordinance for you and your children forever. {25} “And it will come about when you enter the land which the LORD will give you, as He has promised, that you shall observe this rite. {26} “And it will come about when your children will say to you, ‘What does this rite mean to you?’ {27} that you shall say, ‘It is a Passover sacrifice to the LORD who passed over the houses of the sons of Israel in Egypt when He smote the Egyptians but spared our homes.'” And the people bowed low and worshiped.

I want us to consider some essential elements as we prepare to celebrate the Passover this evening and the week of unleavened bread.

There are eight elements of the Seder that might be helpful in preparing our hearts not just for Passover and the week of Unleavened Bread but also for the fulfillment of what Passover foreshadowed, Messiah’s Nizkor (Hebrew for we will remember) Communion.

The Seder (Hebrew Order of service) and the Haggadah (Hebrew “to tell”) of Passover instructs us to remember key elements that foreshadow things that were promised by God and spoken of in both the Torah (5 books of Moses) and the Prophets.

In preparation for Passover, we are called to search and remove leaven in our households. The family that had leaven in their home was to be cut off from God and His people. (Exo 12:15) “For seven days you are to eat bread made without yeast. On the first day remove the yeast from your houses, for whoever eats anything with yeast in it from the first day through the seventh must be cut off from Israel.”

Leaven according to the Rabbi’s is in the Haggadah to remind us that our ancestors left Egypt in a hurry and didn’t have time for their dough to rise (Ex.12:34,39). It also instructs us that leaven is symbolic of the yester ha ra (Hebrew for evil inclination), which the Talmud (Berachos 17a) refers to as “the leaven in the dough”.

This is what Yeshua taught as well (Mat 16:6-12) where He compared the teaching of the Pharisees and Sadducees as leaven. So, we are especially called to search for leaven on Passover.

Considering this, as we prepare our hearts for Passover, we need to examine our lives and ask ourselves some questions.

When Yeshua was asked what is the most important commandment that God gave to Israel his response was “And He said to him, “‘you shall love the lord your god with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ {38} “This is the great and foremost commandment. {39} “The second is like it, ‘you shall love your neighbor as yourself.'(Mat 22:37-39)

As God’s children we should look for the leaven in our lives by reflecting on the 10 commandments of the Covenant at Sinai. While we have a new covenant, not like the Old the New is gives us insight and guides our thinking about the New Covenant.

Is God first in My Life? The first four commands clarify this.
Is He the only god in my life? Is there anything that comes before Him? Is my work more important, or my family, or my finances, or my plans? If God is first, all these other matters will fall into their rightful place.

Do I worship any created images? This could be my material possessions, or religious images. An idol replaces God. People begin using “something” to help them worship but end up worshipping the “thing.” So we need to ask ourselves Have I created anything that is a substitute for God?

Do I misuse the Lord’s Name? The name of God means the person of God. How can we take God’s name in vain? By Joking about God, or showing unbelief in God’s ability. Not taking God seriously. Making a vow in God’s name but not meaning it or doing it. By Repeating religious expressions without meaning. Or by using God’s name as a curse.

Do I observe the Sabbath by setting one day a week as holy to the Lord?

Do I love my neighbors as myself? The last 6 of the 10

Do I honor my mother and father?
Do I hate anyone?
Do I lust after any other person other than my spouse?
Do I steal or cheat others?
Am I honest in all that I say?
Do I desire things that do not belong to me?

The warning God gives us in the Passover Seder and Messiah in Nizkor is that if leaven is found in our houses we would be cut off from God and his people (Ex. 12:15; 1 Cor. 11:27-30).

A second Key element in the Passover is the first of four cups we partake of – the cup of sanctification. To sanctify means to set apart.

As God’s people we are called to remember that God has set us apart to be His holy people.

I came across an insight in what makes someone holy to the Lord in reading in Exodus 29:36 “Purify the altar by making atonement for it; make it holy by anointing it with oil.”

The first of the two lines says, “Purify the altar by making atonement for it.” Atonement was made through a blood sacrifice. After that was done, the altar was pure. The altar is, at that point, without sanctified or holy.

Now if we use the definition of holiness, “without sin” then we could say at this point that the altar was already “holy” right? If holy means “without sin” and the altar has just been cleansed from sin, that would make the altar holy.

But God’s next instruction for the altar is “Make it holy by anointing it with oil.” Even when it was made sin-free by the blood, the altar still needed to be “made holy.”

So too are we made clean through the atonement of the Lamb, but we are not holy unless we are anointed and filled with the oil of God’s Holy Spirit. We need to realize that we are in the world but not of the world, thus sanctified, set apart and then we need to continue the process of sanctification by walking in the Spirit of God (Gal 5:13-26).

The next significant part of the Seder is the washing of the hands or the Urchatz. It is ceremonial washing without saying a blessing that the children might ask the question why do we do this and not recite a prayer?

Our Messiah used this kind of approach when taught His disciples an important lesson. They questioned him why he would wash their feet.

(John 13:3-16 NASB) Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into His hands, and that He had come forth from God, and was going back to God, {4} rose^ from supper, and laid^ aside His garments; and taking a towel, He girded Himself about. {5} Then He poured^ water into the basin, and began to wash the disciples’ feet, and to wipe them with the towel with which He was girded. {6} And so He came^ to Simon Peter. He said^ to Him, “Lord, do You wash my feet?” {7} Jesus answered and said to him, “What I do you do not realize now, but you shall understand hereafter.” {8} Peter said^ to Him, “Never shall You wash my feet!” Jesus answered him, “If I do not wash you, you have no part with Me.” {9} Simon Peter said^ to Him, “Lord, not my feet only, but also my hands and my head.” {10} Jesus said^ to him, “He who has bathed needs only to wash his feet, but is completely clean; and you are clean, but not all of you.” {11} For He knew the one who was betraying Him; for this reason He said, “Not all of you are clean.” {12} And so when He had washed their feet, and taken His garments, and reclined at the table again, He said to them, “Do you know what I have done to you? {13} “You call Me Teacher and Lord; and you are right, for so I am. {14} “If I then, the Lord and the Teacher, washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. {15} “For I gave you an example that you also should do as I did to you. {16} “Truly, truly, I say to you, a slave is not greater than his master; neither is one who is sent greater than the one who sent him.

Questions we need to ask ourselves this Passover as we prepare our hearts and remember.

Do I have a servant attitude?
Do I need recognition and credit for the things that I do?
Have I given all my rights to Yeshua?

The Maggid, the story of redemption. In it we learn of God’s grace. Grace in that Israel was in bondage and enslaved, but their slavery was not such that they were totally victims, as many of us think.

Part of their bondage was rooted in their spiritual rebellion to God as our parsha for Passover speaks of. The parsha’s or portions of Scripture are the weekly Torah (5 books of Moses) and haftorah (the prophets) we read every week in the Synagogue. In Lev 17 we learn that our fathers in Egypt worshiped the idols and demons that the Egyptians did.

(Lev 17:7 NASB) “And they shall no longer sacrifice their sacrifices to the goat demons with which they play the harlot. This shall be a permanent statute to them throughout their generations.”‘

(Josh 24:14 NASB) “Now, therefore, fear the LORD and serve Him in sincerity and truth; and put away the gods which your fathers served beyond the river and in Egypt, and serve the LORD.
The Maggid is the story of God’s grace in which we are called to remember that though we deserved judgment, God had mercy and delivered our fathers from bondage.

But we too should remember our deliverance; we should remember the state we were in before we were redeemed. We are prone to pride thinking that we somehow deserved to be redeemed, that we are somehow better than others.

This kind of pride and arrogance causes us to be ungrateful, and leads to a victim mindset. We need to always remember that we all deserve judgment damnation and death.

We need to remember that God hates sin. Some people believe that since “God is love” He is unable to hate anything. But to believe that goes directly against the very core, the very essence of who God is.

God is holy as the prophet Habbakuk reminds us “Thine eyes are too pure to approve evil, And Thou canst not look on wickedness with favor (Hab 1:13).

We are constantly bombarded with calls “to be tolerant.”
We are told it is uncivilized to hate anything. We are regular told that all ideas, religions, and actions are equal, that none should be looked at with any discrimination whatsoever.

Many Believers place themselves in this dangerous position when they forget the story of Passover.

When we forget the story of Passover, we begin to fear men more than we fear God.

When we forget the story of Passover, we want to be more in tune with what is popular in society, rather than learn and obey the Word of God.

When we forget the story of Passover, we forget that God can do great and wondrous things for His children.

Some Believers choose to sin because they’ve forgotten that God will severely discipline those who rebel against Him. Some Believers choose to sin because they’ve lost their focus on the future. Some Christians choose to sin because they’ve forgotten how much God hates sin.

But the story of Passover is a story of grace and mercy, and God’s judgment and this is something we are called to remember.

Remembering God’s grace and mercy and God and how He opened our hearts to the Good News. We should remember that we’re called to obey and fear God as our fathers did when they saw His hand of discipline in the wilderness.

As we retell the story of Passover, we are reminded how God provided for our fathers throughout theit journey to the Promised Land.

Including the Red Sea Crossing and his provision of Manna. All of these should be part of our preparation and participation in the Passover.

Dayenu (It would have been enough) is another aspect of the Seder as we prepare our hearts and minds. This is an attitude of gratitude.

The basis for thankfulness is remembering that we got where we are with the help of God, and that He is the provider of every blessing we have. Being ‘thankful’ is not passive, but active.

We are where we are not because of something done TO us, but done BY us! Many of us want to know what God’s will is for us. Paul taught us clearly that His will for us is that we be thankful.

(1 Th 5:18 NIV) give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Messiah Yeshua.

In life, all people (including Believers) will be placed into situations which we may not like. Situations that may go against what we want. Situations that at times seem downright awful. But the Word commands us, to give thanks, in EVERYTHING, because giving thanks is the will of God for our lives.

Some of the barriers to not being thankful is thoughtlessness.
Did you know that “THINK” and “thank” come from same Anglo-Saxon root word? Etymologists suggest that Thank is actually the old English past tense of Think. 

Often, we are ungrateful because we just don’t think about all that God has done for us. Thankfulness comes from a acknowledgment of His blessings. Listen to the words of David from Ps 103:

Praise the LORD, O my soul; all my inmost being, praise his holy name. 2 Praise the LORD, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits– who forgives all your sins and heals all your diseases, who redeems your life from the pit and crowns you with love and compassion, who satisfies your desires with good things so that your youth is renewed like the eagles.

You may not have noticed it but there are Five blessings here that David gave thanks for (1) Forgiveness (2) healing (3) redemption (4) compassion (5) satisfaction.

Another barrier to thankfulness is faithlessness. Giving thanks is an expression of genuine faith and belief in GOD. The person who refuses to believe, can’t really be thankful because he trusts in himself.

A third barrier to thankfulness is discontent. Many suffer from the “thanks..but” syndrome. Before we can genuinely be thankful, we must develop contentment (1 Tim 6:6-8) But godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it. But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that.

Listen to the words of Paul in Phil. 4:11-12 I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. 12 I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. 

A fourth barrier to thankfulness is selfishness. Those who have been blessed by God must learn to be a blessing.

In Matt 18:28-29 Yeshua taught a valuable lesson with the Parable of the Debtor. “But when that servant went out, he found one of his fellow-servants who owed him a hundred denarii. He grabbed him and began to choke him. `Pay back what you owe me!? he demanded. “His fellow-servant fell to his knees and begged him, `Be patient with me, and I will pay you back.? 30 “But he refused. Instead, he went off and had the man thrown into prison until he could pay the debt.

His Lord had forgiven him a debt of 10,000 talents today would be $10 million or 150,000 years of labor. 15 years labor = 1 talent. While his fellow slave owed him 100 denari = $18.00/100 days. His lack of extending mercy that had been granted to him was demonstration of his ingratitude.

As we prepare our hearts for Passover and Nizkor we should do so with a heart of gratitude and thankfulness for our gracious God who has given to us far more than we deserve. We truly deserve judgment and death. All of us should remember and join the chorus saying Dayenu!

We also need to remember the cup of Judgment. Do I realize that God will judge my idols as He judged the idols of Egypt? Idolatry is anything that comes before God in my life.

Do we believe that God will judge our enemies? (Rom 12:19-21 NIV) Do not take revenge, my friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” says the Lord. {20} On the contrary: “If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.” {21} Do not be overcome by evil but overcome evil with good.

We should reflect on the elements of Nizkor and Passover, concerning the Afikomen, the bread of affliction. The Matzah comes from the Matzah tash (three sectioned napkin that contains Matzah) which pictures the echad or Unity of our God.

The middle matzah is a picture our Messiah who was broken for us a picture of His death for our sin. During the Seder the Afikomen is removed and wrapped in linen and hidden which is a picture of his burial.

It needs to be found by the children and brought back to the father as a picture of the resurrection. Afikomen means literally “I have come”.

It was this piece that Yeshua broke and said that it represented His body which was given for us.

The Third cup of the Seder is the “fruit of the vine” meaning that which is poured out after being crushed. This is the cup of redemption. For Israel it was a reminder of the blood of the lamb placed on the doorpost. It was this cup that our Messiah took and said this is my blood poured out for you.

It is a reminder of The New Covenant made possible through His blood. As often as we drink of this cup, we are to remember the Lord’s death until He comes.

In the case of Nizkor after we partake It might be good to
Read responsively Ps 115-118 just as the Haggadah calls us to read.

The fourth cup of Passover is the Cup of Praise and is the reminder of the Lord’s return. Yeshua did not take this cup in the upper room, meaning it is still unfulfilled. Some of us believe that Yeshua was referring to this cup when He said that He would drink this cup with us in His kingdom. We are called to look forward to that glorious day.