“In that night they were redeemed and in that night they will be redeemed.”
From the Mekilta on Exodus 12:42
(from between 50-200 CE)
Growing up Lutheran then Baptist and an overall western-minded Christian, I missed so much of the eastern thinking in our Bible. As I began to delve into our Jewish roots, there was revelation after revelation. What I am about to share is perhaps the most earth-shaking revelation. You may already know this, and that would mean that you have good teachers. I did not make this connection until recently. God has given me very good teachers.
It is my honor and good pleasure to pass it on to you.
Everything God did in the Old Testament was telling a story about a King and a Kingdom. The narrative describes a fallen world and a God who provides a way to be cleansed and redeemed. The feasts and sacrifices came first. They painted the picture and showed us the way to our Messiah. The Jewish people knew this very well. The Messiah came. Many of them got it! The first believers were Jews. But those in power tried to squelch the truth.
We grow up believing in Jesus and that He rose, but we miss what an amazing fulfillment Jesus was and is. It’s an absolutely astounding timeline of radical redemptive love.
In Exodus 12:1-27, God details the first Passover and Feast of Unleavened Bread. “The Lord said to Moses and Aaron in the land of Egypt, “This month shall be for you the beginning of months. It shall be the first month of the year for you.”
God is beginning a new calendar. He is doing this because He wanted them to note the time and season of the amazing redemptive act He was about to perform. They allowed God to rearrange their calendar; they obeyed. Even though it sounded a bit strange, they followed His words exactly. Do you allow God to rearrange your calendar? Do you obey Him down to the specific details of your life? We owe respect to His chosen people because they did. Yes, they were a mess; but they turned around again and again and preserved His words and His plan.
Obeying God in Egypt, they took the lambs, perfect unblemished year old lambs, into their homes. They did not break any of its bones (Ex. 12:43-51) .They kept it inside with them for four days. Sweet lamb…right there with them. They did this knowing they would be killing it at twilight along with all of Israel. Then they took its blood and put it on the doorposts so their lives would be spared. Then they ate a meal as directed:
With the lamb, the sacrificial meat, unleavened bread, and bitter herbs. The did it all in the order, or “seder” God directed. This is why the Jewish people call the Passover meal “seder”. When God saw the blood, He passed over and no plague befell the houses of Israel; God did strike down the first born of Egypt. The lamb atoned for the Israelites.
This ‘Memorial day” (Exodus 12:14) that began a 7 day Feast of Unleavened Bread was to be kept forever to remind them that God freed and redeemed them. Then came the Feast of Firstfruits that occurred on the Sunday following the Sabbath after Passover. This was a dedication of the harvest to the Lord; no other gathering in could be done until the first sheaves were offered to the Priests at the temple.
So all of this pointed to what? The Messiah. Yeshua…Jesus. At exactly these days and times ordained by God so long ago…so far in advance, Jesus had the Passover supper, what we call today, “The Last Supper”, offered Himself up as our sacrificial lamb on the cross, rose, and ushered in a new covenant.
He rearranged our calendar again. Let’s see the timeline through Christian eyes and make the connections:
The 10th of Nisan, our Palm Sunday -the day the lamb was selected was the day Jesus rode into Jerusalem on a donkey. Jesus was letting us know He was the lamb that God selected.
Thursday-Passover was the Last Supper. It was a pilgrimage festival that all male Israelites had to attend. If you were going to make the once in a lifetime trip, you would make it on Passover. In Jesus’ day the temple was full of corruption and the people needed this hope of their coming Messiah more than ever before. In the Passover custom, they reclined at the table. Breaking with custom, as the seder leader is supposed to wash his hands before serving, He washed the disciples’ feet (John 13:3-5). As the pieces of Matzah are broken, dipped in bitter herbs and distributed is likely when Jesus said “He who has dipped his hand in the dish with me will betray me.” (Matthew 26:23). Then come the Four Cups of wine based on God’s four promises in Exodus 6:6,7 and the breaking of the bread/matzah.
This next part of the seder is my favorite. Before the meal, three matzahs are put in a linen cloth. At a certain point in the meal, the leader breaks the matzah into three pieces. The middle piece is wrapped in its own linen cloth and hidden. Mystery surrounds this ritual; the Jews wonder what the three matzo mean. Rabbis have proposed many speculations, but none explains why the middle matzah is broken, wrapped, hidden and then brought back. We know, don’t we!
Then the matzah breaking was when Jesus likely said “Take eat, this is my body.” (Matthew 26:26) He was making the connection.
The third “cup of redemption” or “cup of blessing” is likely when Jesus said “drink of it all of you, for this is my blood of the covenant which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins. Whenever you do this (from now on) think of me.” (Matt. 26:27).
Paul also made the connection in 1 Cor. 11:25, and 1 Cor. 10:16- check it out for yourself. Then during the fourth cup, the “cup of completion”, Jesus says. “ I will not drink of this cup until I drink it with you in My Father’s kingdom.” (Matt. 26:29) So the Last Supper was the Passover, and we will all celebrate it together when Jesus comes back! Jesus and his disciples ended the Passover seder in the traditional way of singing Psalms 115-118 (Matt. 26:30,Mark 14:26). As they joyously sung of of “binding of the festal sacrifice to the altar”, they still had no idea.
Friday/Good Friday was the Feast of Unleavened Bread:
At 9 am the traditional sacrifice was offered in the temple by the priest along with a special sacrifice…this was happening as Jesus was being put on the cross.
Feast of Firstfruits Dedication/Resurrection Sunday_:
In the year Jesus died, this feast occurred three days after the crucifixion- the day he was resurrected from the dead.
The Jewish people saw the importance of Passover telling them the details of the coming Messiah. Of Exodus 12: 42. the verse in the title, they proclaimed their expectation that their redemption would take place at the time of the first redemption from Egypt.
Paul saw the connections and describes them in Corinthians. Now you know the connections. And as if you aren’t amazed enough, note the scripture selection from the Torah and the Haftarah that was read aloud the Sabbath before Firstfruits…on Resurrection day-Ezekiel 37:1-14 “…Oh dry bones, hear the word of the Lord…Behold I will cause breath enter you and you shall live….These bones are the house of Israel…behold I will open your graves and you shall rise from your graves…I will put my Spirit within you and you shall live.” As we cannot be 100% sure this was read on that Sabbath in Jesus’ day, we do know it is what is read during Passover now because Jews still keep that calendar. God is still trying to tell them…in advance. But we know..now. Easter is passover! Constantine separated them in the Council of Nicea in 325 AD. This year, 2020, Jewish people begin Passover week tomorrow on April 8th. So now you can celebrate it at either time and know the connection. As author of Christ in the Passover, Rosen writes: “The death and resurrection of Jesus the Messiah are forever interwoven with the Passover and its symbolism.”
Prayer: Dearest God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob-I praise you as the God who chose a people to carry out Your Promise. I praise You as the mysterious Trinity: Father, Son and Holy Spirit. I praise You as the One true God, Father of Jesus, and my God. Forgive me for walking in anything but awe of Your amazing plan to provide man with a way to be forgiven. Thank You for providing the cover I needed so that death would pass over me. Thank You for the hope of living forever with You. Thank You for allowing me to be grafted in to Your chosen people through Your Son. Thank You, Jesus, for being the living sacrifice so that I would not have to offer sacrifices to pay for my sin. Thank you for dying so that I might have abundant life, both now and forever. You give me Your Holy Spirit so that we could walk together…until we meet face to face. Thank You for making the connection! I praise You as the God who saves, offers a way to You, and as the One Who is coming back for us all. Amen.