Passover for Israel was and remains a time for Israel to remember. To recall our redemption from bondage and how God who delivered us from bondage and slavery. Moses wrote:

(Exo 12:24-27) “And you shall observe this event as an ordinance for you and your children forever. “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. “And it will come about when your children will say to you, ‘What does this rite mean to you?’ 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 to consider some essential elements of the Passover and the week of unleavened bread.  In Jewish homes Passover is celebrated at the dinner table where we retell the outgoing from Egypt fulfilling Moses’ instructions in the above verses.

In our homes we generally read from a Haggadah to retell the story.  Haggadah comes from the Hebrew word “to tell”. There are hundreds of different Haggadah’s in print that relate the essential elements of Passover from the writer’s perspective.

I want to consider eight components of the Seder. The word Seder comes from the Hebrew word meaning “order” and speaks of the order of the retelling of the story of God’s redemption of Israel from bondage and slavery in Egypt.

The Rabbi’s teach that all the Law and the prophets were written to point to the Messiah, the coming king of Israel. So, we will consider how the Seder foreshadows the Messiah.  

  1. Removal of Leaven from our homes

In preparation for Passover, we are called to search and remove leaven in our households.  The house with leaven in it 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.

Removing leaven according to the Rabbi’s is required 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 is also required to teach us that leaven is a symbol of the “yester hara” or 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.  In much the same we are called to search for leaven in our lives prior to Passover and remove it.

Paul, writing to the believers in Corinth explains this Jewish understanding.  Your boasting is not good. Do you not know that a little leaven leavens the whole lump of dough? Clean out the old leaven so that you may be a new lump, just as you are in fact unleavened. For Christ our Passover also has been sacrificed. Therefore let us celebrate the feast, not with old leaven, nor with the leaven of malice and wickedness, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth (1 Cor. 5:6-8).

Leaven is compared to malice and wickedness. Such behavior cuts us off from our relationship with God. Leaven, generally yeast, is placed in bread to make it rise. It continues to grow and permeate the bread until it is placed in the oven. 

Sin is like leaven in our lives and God’s method for its removal is outlined in the New Covenant 1 John 1:9. “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness”.

Yeshua is our Passover, through Him we have been brought out of bondage and slavery, and like Israel we have begun our journey to the Promised Land.  

Removal of the leaven is a reminder that Israel was redeemed to be a kingdom of priests and a holy nation (Exodus 19:6). God made provision for their sin and holiness through the Tabernacle and the sacrifices offered there. So, New Covenant people are called to be a kingdom of priests and holy to the Lord (1 Pet. 2:5). Passover is an annual reminder of our calling to be God’s holy people. 

It is in this context of Passover that the Lord revealed to Paul concerning the Lord’s supper in 1 Cor. 11:23-32. In verses 27-31 Paul admonishes Believers to not eat the meal in an unworthy manner. This is a call to remove the sin or leaven in our lives before we partake of the meal.  Failing to do so will bring the Lord’s discipline in our lives. If we continue in sin we are told that it will leads to sickness and death. 

The Jewish people were told that if they failed to remove the leaven from their homes during Passover they would be cut off from Israel.  The same is true for us.  If we fail to remove the leaven in our lives we compromise our fellowship with God and eventually will become sick and even die.  

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

  • A second Key element in the Passover is the first of four cups that 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 called us to be His holy people. 

I just 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 sin. 

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. Sanctification is an ongoing process and in fact the will of God for Believers (1 Thess. 4:2-3).

  • 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 to teach His children an important lesson. They too questioned him why would he 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.

  1. Do I have a servant attitude?
  2. Do I need recognition and credit for the things that I do?
  3. Have I given all my rights to Yeshua?
  • The fourth thing I want to consider in anticipation of Passover is the Magid. 

The Magid is 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.  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 Magid 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 too 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 to develop a victim mindset.  We need to always remember that we all deserve judgment damnation and death. 

I hate it when people slow down to 40 miles an hour on the interstate just to gaze at someone with a flat tire, or when people take more than 10 items in the express lane. What do you hate? God hates sin.

It is unbelievable to some people that God could hate…anything.
Isn’t God “love?”  Isn’t God “peace?”  Isn’t God “mercy?” Yes, he is most certainly all of these. Passover is the story of all of that.

But to picture God as one who does not hate anything goes directly against the very core, the very essence of who God is.

We who have been redeemed by the mercy of God – have forgotten what it means to serve a God who hates sin.

In recent days those who name the Name of God have too often been ruled by the authority of popular culture, rather than by the God of Passover. 

We are constantly bombarded with calls “to be tolerant.” We are constantly told that it is uncivilized to hate anything. We are constantly fed the notion that all ideas, all religions, all actions are equal, that none should be looked at with any malice whatsoever.
Many Believers place themselves in a very dangerous position when we 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.

J. Kirk Johnston, in the book, “Why Christians Sin” wrote “Some Believers choose to sin because they have lost sight of what God has done for them. Some Believers choose to sin because they have forgotten that God will severely discipline those who rebel against Him. Some Believers choose to sin because they have lost their focus on the future.” But I would add a 4th: Some Christians choose to sin because they have forgotten how much God hates sin.

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

We should remember how we received grace and mercy and God opened our heart to the Good News. And we should remember that we are called to obey and fear God as our fathers did when they saw God’s hand of discipline in the wilderness.

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

Including the Red Sea Crossing and his provision of manna all of these things should be part of our preparation and participation in Passover.

  • The fifth aspect of Passover I want us to consider is a song we sing during our dinner “Dayenu” (It would have been enough).  It is a song calling for thankfulness.  

Alex Haley, the author of “Roots,” had an unusual picture hanging on his office wall. It was a picture of a turtle on top of a fence post. When asked, “Why is that there?” Alex Haley answered, “Every time I write something significant, every time I read my words & think that they are wonderful, & begin to feel proud of myself, I look at the turtle on top of the fence post & remember that he didn’t get there on his own. He had help.”

That is the basis of thankfulness – to remember that we got here with the help of God, and that He is the provider of every blessing we have.  Being ‘thankful’ is not passive, but active. Many of us want to know what God’s will is for us.  Well, this is clearly His will 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 are downright awful. But the Word of God tells us, no, it 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. Often we are ungrateful because we just don’t think what God has done for us. Thankfulness comes out of a realization of 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 seen it but there are Five blessing in these verses that David gave thanks for (1) Forgiveness (2) healing (3) redemption (4) compassion (5) satisfaction.

A second barrier 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 is discontent many suffer from the “thanks BUT” syndrome. Before we can genuinely be thankful, we must develop contentment. 1 Tim 6:6 But godliness with contentment is great gain. 7 For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it. 8 But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that. 

Listen to the words of Paul, Phil. 4:11 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.

Matt 18:23-35  Yeshua taught a valuable lesson with the Parable of the Debtor. 

Mt. 18:28 “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. 29 “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 = $10 MILLION/150,000 years of labor. (15 years labor = 1 talent) While his fellow slave owed him 100 denari = $18.00/100 days worth of labor (His lack of mercy demonstrated his ingratitude!)

As we prepare our hearts for communion 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 Dayenu!

  • Sixth, we 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. 

This is the second cup of the Passover Seder.  With this cup we remember the cup of plagues that came upon Egypt to affect our deliverance from bondage and slavery. 

This is the cup Yeshua took on our behalf in the Garden of Gethsemane. We hear him praying in Matt. 26:39 ““My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; yet not as I will, but as You will.”

  • Thirdly we need to reflect on the elements of communion, that they are a reminder of the Afikomen, the bread of affliction.  

The Matzah comes from a special container on the Seder dinner table called the Matzah tash which pictures the echad or Unity of our God. It contains three matzahs. The middle one is removed and the father breaks it and says to all at the table “this is the bread of affliction that our fathers ate in the wilderness”. 

The Middle Matzah is a picture our our Messiah who was broken for us a picture of His death for our sin.  The Afikomen is wrapped in linen and hidden a picture of his burial.

It needs to be found and brought back to the father a picture of the resurrection.  It is called Afikomen which means literally I have come.

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

  • The Third cup of the Seder is the “cup of redemption”.  For Israel it was a reminder of the blood placed on the doorpost that separated those who were saved from the judgment of death of the first born.

Our Messiah took that third cup 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.

The Seder ends with the readings of Psalms Ps 115-118. The 118th Psalm closes with the reminder in vv 20-26.

This is the gate of the LORD; The righteous will enter through it. I shall give thanks to You, for You have answered me, And You have become my salvation.  The stone which the builders rejected Has become the chief corner stone. This is the LORD’S doing; It is marvelous in our eyes. This is the day which the LORD has made; Let us rejoice and be glad in it.

O LORD, do save, we beseech You O LORD, we beseech You, do send prosperity! Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the LORD; We have blessed you from the house of the LORD.

The Stone the builders rejected is Yeshua may we pray that the Jewish people this Passover might come to recognize the Stone. 

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