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  • July 11, 2014 - Reflections

    By Jean S. Horner
    The other day while walking down a corridor in a public building, I saw what appeared to be someone walking toward me. On coming closer, I found it was my own reflection in a huge mirror. For a moment it frightened me. Somehow a full-length reflection of one’s self is a startling thing. ...

Passover Still Points to the Savior

By Jeff Friedman
April 17, 2011

Some of the most beautiful memories I have from growing up in the Jewish community of Brooklyn, N.Y., are centered around the celebration of Passover. Families would gather and read the Passover story. We would read how the G-d of Israel redeemed the Children of Israel from bondage in Egypt and entered into an everlasting covenant with them. (As a Jew, it is our custom to not spell out the names G-d and L-rd out of respect for the sacred name.)

It was not until many years later when I came to faith in Y’shua (the Hebrew name for Jesus) as the Messiah of Israel that I came to fully understand the significance of Passover and all the holy days that G-d gave to Israel. The holy days are really a picture presentation of the gospel.

• Passover — the Lamb of G-d without spot or blemish

• First Fruits — Messiah became the first fruits of the resurrection from the dead

• Pentecost — the promised outpouring of the Holy Spirit

• Trumpets — when the dead in Messiah will rise

• Atonement — representing the Great White Throne judgment of the nations

• Tabernacles — when we shall dwell in the presence of G-d for eternity

“This is a day you are to commemorate; for the generations to come you shall celebrate it as a festival to the [L-rd] — a lasting ordinance. For seven days you are to eat bread made without yeast” (Exodus 12:14,15, NIV). The first of the holy days is Passover. For seven days we are commanded to eat bread without leaven. In fact, the whole house is to be rendered leaven-free.

In Scripture, leaven represents sin. What a beautiful example to all believers today. What better way to prepare for the celebration of Messiah’s resurrection than to put aside the leaven from our lives. To make an honest assessment of where our hearts are before G-d. To make a decision to repent and begin a new, fresh life without leaven so we can be that new, unleavened batch of which Paul speaks in 1 Corinthians 5:7.

People often ask me if keeping Passover is a burden, to go seven days without leaven. My response is that for seven days, each time I sit down to eat, I am reminded of G-d’s faithfulness. With every meal I am reminded how G-d protected and preserved the people of Israel, and how He is able to keep me as well. Passover and the Feast of Unleavened Bread serve as a reminder of how G-d desires us to live, clothed in the righteousness of Messiah. G-d does not give His children burdens, but joy.

For generations, until the destruction of the temple, the people of Israel offered up a lamb just as at that first Passover in Egypt. The lamb was to be a year-old male without spot or blemish (Exodus 12:5). The blood of that first Passover lamb was placed upon the doorpost and lintel of the home. When the angel of death saw the blood on the homes of the obedient Israelites, he “passed over” that home.

Each family was required to put the blood on the doorpost. There was no national redemption. Today each of us must also apply the blood of the Lamb — not to the door of our home, but the doorpost of our heart.

The sacrificial lamb was to be watched for four days to be sure it was an acceptable sacrifice. For four days the lamb was treated almost as a pet. Then the father would slaughter the lamb. The people of Israel had to understand the high price that was to be paid for their redemption, the shedding of innocent blood. How much more should we understand the high price paid for our redemption? This divine gift required the shedding of the blood of the very Son of the Most High G-d.

For four days the Messiah was examined by the people of Israel, the priests and the Levites. When Messiah Y’shua stood before the Roman governor Pontius Pilate who said, “I find no fault in this man,” unknowingly the governor declared Y’shua to be the Lamb of G-d without spot or blemish. He was offered up at the same time and just a short distance away from where the lamb was being sacrificed at the temple. For that one moment the type (or symbol) and the reality were offered up to G-d. One for the sins of Israel, and the other for the sins of the whole world.

Every year of His life on earth, Y’shua celebrated the Passover. It was the last thing He did with His disciples. He said, “I have eagerly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer” (Luke 22:15). It was in the context of this Passover Seder (order of service) that Y’shua was able to explain to His disciples His suffering as the “lamb of G-d.”

During the Passover Seder, participants drink four cups of the fruit of the vine. These cups were to remind Israel of the promises of redemption and relationship that G-d made to Israel. We too should remember the promises G-d has made to us.

The first cup is the cup of sanctification. This was the cup before supper Y’shua shared with His disciples and said, “I will not drink again of the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of [G-d] comes” (Luke 22:18).

The second is the cup of plagues. Before drinking the cup, we recite the plagues that G-d visited upon Egypt. At the same time we spill a drop from the cup to show our sorrow at the suffering of the people of Egypt. This should remind us of the L-rd’s words to love and forgive our enemies. At this season of resurrection we should remember that we are to love all men. Messiah said, “By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another” (John 13:35).

After supper the L-rd took the bread, the “afikomen.” It’s the final food eaten at the Passover meal. This bread is broken and wrapped in linen and removed from the table. It is returned at the end of the service.

Similarly, the Messiah’s body was broken. He was wrapped in linen and removed from us. But He returned to forever complete our redemption. Messiah took this bread, broke it and gave thanks to the L-rd. Then He said, “This is my body given for you; do this in remembrance of me” (Luke 22:19).

Then Jesus took the third cup, which was and is and always will be known as the cup of redemption. This is the cup after supper with which Y’shua identified himself. Messiah said, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which is poured out for you” (Luke 22:20).

This cup instituted the new covenant promised by G-d to Israel in Jeremiah 31:31 — “I will make a new covenant with the people of Israel.” When we take Communion in church, we are remembering this event where Y’shua, by His own blood, instituted the promised new covenant with Israel.

There is a cup on the table from which we do not drink. This is the cup of Eliyahu hanavi, Elijah the prophet. It has been the hope of the Jewish people for generations that the prophet would come during Passover to bring us the good news of the coming of Messiah Ben David, Messiah the son of David who will establish the kingdom in Jerusalem.

The final cup of the Passover service is known as the cup of praise. After the recitation of the story of G-d’s great redemption of Israel, it is fitting for the redeemed of the L-rd to say so.

As we, the redeemed of the L-rd, rejoice in our great salvation at this season of the L-rd’s resurrection, let us not forget the millions of Jewish people still waiting to hear the good news that the Messiah of Israel has come.

JEFF FRIEDMAN is director of Jacob’s Hope, the Assemblies of God World Missions effort to engage the worldwide Jewish community.

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