God's Holy Days and Salvation; Passover
God’s Holy Days
The Plan of Salvation;
In the fourteenth day of the first month at even is the Lord's passover.
Passover is the first annual Holy Day and is also the most mentioned one; it is mentioned 50 times in the Old Testament and 27 times in the New Testament. Passover is the time of beginnings for Israel. This festival ushers in the coming of spring on the Jewish calendar. It is celebrated on the fourteenth1 day of Abib (the first month of the Jewish religious calendar, later called Nisan). Each of the three pilgrimage festivals Passover, Pentecost and the Feast of Tabernacles has an agricultural basis as well as an historical significance.
Many different things are celebrated during Passover. A few of these include; the end of the rainy season and the beginning of the growing season, the new lambing time and the Exodus of the Israelites from Egypt. God directs parents on this special night of the year to take on the role of teacher and pass down His story of the exodus from Egypt to future generations.
And thou shall shew thy son in that day saying, This is done because of that which the LORD did unto me when I came forth out of Egypt
The Origin of Passover
The Israelites had been slaves in Egypt for about 100 years when God “heard their groaning” and sent Moses and his brother Aaron to Pharaoh and told him that the Lord said to let the Israelites go. Pharaoh refused to release the Israelites, even for a brief visit to the desert to worship their God. In fact, he made life for the Israelite slaves even worse. Moses warned Pharaoh that God would send a series of plagues upon Egypt unless the people were freed.
Anyone with even the most basic knowledge of the Bible is aware of the plagues that God sent upon Egypt. God sent the plagues to show the people that He is the one true God. He confronted the things that the Egyptians called gods. The ten plagues were righteous plagues, and were inflicted upon the Egyptians because each plague had something to do with the false gods that the Egyptians worshipped.
The word plague is from the Hebrew word oth, which means "sign". The Egyptians believed in magic. They were always trying to override the laws of nature to perform their “tricks” God used the laws of nature to bring about His signs and wonders. The entire episode of the plagues is supposed to have happened within eight to ten months. Each of the plagues was a sign to the Egyptians, showing them that He is greater than their so-called gods. The first three plagues affected all the people, even the Hebrews. The next seven plagues were much more intense and only happened to the Egyptians (I will put a division between my people and thy people v. 23). Before each plague, God commanded Moses and Aaron to warn Pharaoh, Let My people go or I [God] will bring a plague upon you. Before each plague, for three weeks, Moses warned Pharaoh. The actual plague lasted one week.
The Ten Plagues
First Plague: The Nile waters turn to blood -- The Nile, the river of Egypt, was the Egyptians idol. The Nile's waters nourished the land and determined the welfare of all the people. The Egyptians thirsted after blood when they slaughtered the Hebrews children, and now God gave them blood to drink. Now the source that brought the Egyptians life brought death instead (Ex. 7:14-25).
Second Plague: The frogs -- The frogs represented the fertility goddess, Isis, that was supposed to help women in childbirth. Frogs were everywhere: in their houses, in their beds, and at their tables. They could not eat, drink, or sleep without their precious god. The frog that symbolized life was left to be raked in heaps of rotting piles of death (Ex. 8:1-15).
Third Plague: The Lice -- The lice which came up to live out of the dust of the earth represented the Egyptians god of the earth, Seth. Matthew Henry notes that lice were small despicable, inconsiderable animals, and yet, by their vast numbers, they rendered a sore plague to the Egyptians. God could have plagued them with lions, bears, wolves, or with vultures or other birds of prey; but He chose to do it by these contemptible instruments (Ex. 8:16-19).
Fourth Plague: The Flies -- The stinging, disease-carrying flies ruined the land. Beelzebub, the prince of the power of the air, has been glorified as the god of flies, the god of Ekron. The fly was always present at idolatry sacrifices. It seems that the god partook of those in this manner. This fourth plague came upon the Egyptians only. It made Israel a separate and Holy People (Ex. 8:20-32).
Fifth Plague: The Disease of Livestock -- A great number of cattle died by a sort of pestilence. The Egyptians made the Hebrews poor and so God caused great loss to the Egyptians. This disease afflicted only the Egyptian livestock. The Egyptians believed animals were possessed by the spirits of gods. The bull was sacred in Egypt, identified in it markings to their god Apis. This pestilence, God's Word tells us, did not affect the Hebrew livestock (Ex. 9:1-7).
Sixth Plague: The Boils -- Again God demonstrated His ability to control nature. When the death of their cattle didn't convince the Egyptians, God sent a plague that seized their own bodies. And they took ashes of the furnace, and stood before Pharaoh; and Moses sprinkled it up toward heaven; and it became a boil breaking forth with blains upon man, and upon beast (Ex. 9:10). Sores in the body were looked upon as punishment for sin, a means by which to call one to repentance. None of the Hebrews had any boils. This plague was a direct attack on the shamanism of the medico-mystical processes in Egypt (Ex. 9:8-12).
Seventh Plague: The Hailstorm -- Moses gave the people a one-day warning before this plague. The notice was given because the sorcerers of Egypt were also agricultural shamans who supposedly controlled the weather. Those who feared the Lord went into shelter (showing us that God had mercy on some of the Egyptians). Those who did not believe God and took no shelter died in the fields (Ex. 9:21). There was ice and fire mingled with the hail, very grievous, such as there was none like it in all of the land of Egypt. The hail killed both men and cattle, and battered down the herbs, vegetable gardens, fruit trees, and other plants. God, in His judgment, caused it to rain or hail on the Egyptians and not on the Hebrews (Ex. 9:13-35).
Eighth Plague: The locusts -- By this time, Pharaoh's people, his magicians, and advisors, began to rebel. Pharaoh stood alone against God. Moses stretched forth his rod over the land of Egypt, and the Lord brought an east wind upon the land all that day, and all that night; and when it was morning, the east wind brought the locusts. And the locusts went up over all the land of Egypt, and rested in all the coasts of Egypt: very grievous were they; before them there were no such locusts as they, neither after them shall be such. The plague was then sent which devastated the land and hence the power of the gods and shamans of agriculture. Pharaoh sent for Moses and pretended to repent. He asked Moses to pray to God to take the locusts away. And the LORD turned a mighty strong west wind, which took away the locusts, and cast them into the Red Sea; there remained not one locust in all the coasts of Egypt (Ex. 10:13-14, 19).
Ninth Plague: The Darkness -- The Egyptians rebelled against the light of God's Word and they were justly punished with darkness. This thick darkness was over Egypt three days, but the people of Israel had light where they dwelt. What a picture of dark and light, of being lost and saved. The children of God walked in the light while Pharaoh and his people wandered in the darkness.
Matthew Henry's Commentary states, "The cloud of locusts, which had darkened the land (v. 15), was nothing to this. It was a total darkness. We have reason to think, not only that the lights of heaven were clouded, but that all their fires and candles were put out by the damp or clammy vapors which were the cause of this darkness; for it is said (v. 23), They saw not one another. It is threatened to the wicked (Job 18:5-6) that the spark of his fire shall not shine, even the sparks of his own kindling, as they are called (Isa. 50:11), and that the light shall be dark in his tabernacle. Hell is utter darkness. The light of a candle shall shine no more at all in thee (Rev. 18:23)."
This plague was an attack on the power of the supreme deity of Egypt, the sun god Re or Amun-Re. The Egyptians could do nothing but stay in their homes and consider what they had experienced up to now, regarding the power of the God of the Israelites. Even then, Pharaoh refused to yield (Ex. 10:21-29).
Tenth Plague: The Death of the Firstborn -- God said in Exodus 13:2, Sanctify unto me all the firstborn, whatsoever openeth the womb among the children of Israel, both of man and of beast: it is mine.
Nelson's Illustrated Bible Dictionary explains the importance of the firstborn: God placed a special claim on the firstborn of man and beast (Ex. 13:11-13). This meant that the nation of Israel attached unusual value to the eldest son and assigned special privileges and responsibilities to him. Because of God's claim on the first offspring, the firstborn sons of the Hebrews were presented to the Lord when they were a month old. Since the firstborn was regarded as God's property, it was necessary for the father to redeem, or buy back, the child from the priest. Early Hebrew laws also provided that the firstlings of beasts belonged to the Lord and were turned over to the sanctuary (Ex. 13:2; 34:19; Lev. 27:26). The firstborn's birthright was a double portion of the estate and leadership of the family. As head of the home after his father's death, the eldest son customarily cared for his mother until her death, and provided for his unmarried sisters until their marriages. He was the family's spiritual head and served as its priest. In figurative language, the term firstborn stands for that which is most excellent.
The significance of the death of every firstborn in Egypt, from the house of Pharaoh to the slaves and the livestock, was great. But Israel would be spared so that there would be an obvious distinction between those who belong to the YAWH and those who do not (Ex. 11:1-10).
And it came to pass, that at midnight the Lord smote all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, from the firstborn of Pharaoh that sat on his throne unto the firstborn of the captive that was in the dungeon; and all the firstborn of cattle. And Pharaoh rose up in the night, he, and all his servants, and all the Egyptians; and there was a great cry in Egypt; for there was not a house where there was not one dead. And he called for Moses and Aaron by night, and said, Rise up, and get you forth from among my people, both ye and the children of Israel; and go, serve the Lord, as ye have said. Also take your flocks and your herds, as ye have said, and be gone; and bless me also. And the Egyptians were urgent upon the people, that they might send them out of the land in haste; for they said, We be all dead men. And the people took their dough before it was leavened, their kneading troughs being bound up in their clothes upon their shoulders. And the children of Israel did according to the word of Moses; and they borrowed of the Egyptians jewels of silver, and jewels of gold, and raiment: And the Lord gave the people favour in the sight of the Egyptians, so that they lent unto them such things as they required. And they spoiled the Egyptians
The Passover in Biblical Times
The ordinance of pecach mitsrayim, the last meal in Egypt, included the following provisions: the taking of a lamb, or kid without blemish, for each household on the 10th of the month; the killing of the lamb on the 14th at even; the sprinkling of the blood on doorposts and lintels of the houses in which it was to be eaten; the roasting of the lamb with fire, its head with its legs and inwards--the lamb was not to be eaten raw nor sodden (bashal) with water; the eating of unleavened bread and bitter herbs; eating in haste, with loins girded, shoes on the feet, and staff in hand; and remaining in the house until the morning; the burning of all that remained; the Passover could be eaten only during the night (Ex. 12:1-23).
During the Passover celebration special foods are eaten associated with the bitterness of slavery and the sweetness of freedom. The entire meal, called the seder, is eaten as the story of Israel's freedom is told. Everything in the Seder is directed toward the prime command from the Bible:
And thou shall shew thy son in that day saying, This is done because of that which the LORD did unto me when I came forth out of Egypt
Unknown to all those that faithfully obeyed God’s command, prior to Christ’s crucifixion, in observing the Passover they were symbolically portraying Christ’s sacrifice for us.
Christ our Passover Lamb
For even Christ our passover is sacrificed for us:
(1 Corinthians Chapter 5:7)
In the first century, a lamb was chosen by the high priest outside of Jerusalem on the tenth of Nisan. Then the priest would lead this lamb into the city while crowds of worshippers lined the streets waving palm branches and singing Psalm 118, "Blessed is He that comes in the name of the Lord." On the same day Jesus triumphantly entered Jerusalem; probably right behind the High Priest’s parade riding on a donkey. The crowds that had just heralded the entrance of the sacrificial lamb heralded the entrance of the Lamb of God.
The High Priest would then take the lamb to the Temple, where it would be tied in public view so that it could be inspected for blemish. In the same way, Jesus sat and taught in the Temple courtyard for four days. He was inspected and questioned by the Sadducees, the Pharisees, and the teachers of the law who sought to trip him up in His words and entrap Him.
It is interesting to take a moment and speak about Christ going to the Garden of Gethsemane after eating the Passover meal with the disciples. The name Gethsemane comes from the Hebrew Gat Shmanim, meaning "oil press". Since oil is used in the Bible to symbolize the Holy Spirit, it may be said that the garden is where "the Spirit of God was crushed".
As most know Christ was seized and arrested and then taken before the High Priest and after what can only be called a ‘show trial’ was sent to Pilate. Despite his wishes to set Christ free; Pilate, to appease the angry mob, sentenced Christ to death.
The paschal lamb was to be killed in the evening; or, as it is more literally translated in the margin, “between the two evenings”. The Jews reckoned two evenings in the day; that which they call the first evening, commenced when noon was over, and lasted till sun-set; the second evening, so evening lasted from sun-set to dark night: and as the passover was to be sacrificed in the month Nisan, which answered pretty nearly to our March, the Jews, in order to fulfil the command, which required the paschal lamb to be offered between the two evenings, constantly sacrificed it a little after what they termed the ninth hour of the day, that is, between three and four in the afternoon. It appears from scripture, that our Lord was fastened to the cross, about the third hour; that is, about nine o’clock in the morning, or a little after; and that He did not expire till some time after the ninth hour, that is sometime between three or four in the afternoon.
The paschal lamb was to be slain by none but Jews only.
“And the whole assembly of the congregation of Israel shall kill it.”
Pilate therefore went forth
again, and saith unto them, Behold, I bring him forth to you, that ye may know
that I find no fault in him.
5 Then came Jesus forth, wearing the crown of thorns, and the purple robe. And Pilate saith unto them, Behold the man!
6 When the chief priests therefore and officers saw him, they cried out, saying, Crucify him, crucify him. Pilate saith unto them, Take ye him, and crucify him: for I find no fault in him.
7 The Jews answered him, We have a law, and by our law he ought to die, because he made himself the Son of God.
(John 19 4-7)
But the chief priests and elders
persuaded the multitude that they should ask Barabbas, and destroy Jesus.
21 The governor answered and said unto them, Whether of the twain will ye that I release unto you? They said, Barabbas.
22 Pilate saith unto them, What shall I do then with Jesus which is called Christ? They all say unto him, Let him be crucified.
23 And the governor said, Why, what evil hath he done? But they cried out the more, saying, Let him be crucified.
24 When Pilate saw that he could prevail nothing, but that rather a tumult was made, he took water, and washed his hands before the multitude, saying, I am innocent of the blood of this just person: see ye to it.
25 Then answered all the people, and said, His blood be on us, and on our children.
(Matthew 27: 20-25)
And, as the paschal lamb was to be slain by none but Jews, so too it was not to be slain in private, but publicly, in the presence of all the people; In like manner was Christ put to death in the most public and ignominious way. He was crucified on a conspicuous mountain, within sight of Jerusalem, their capital city; and that too at the very time of their annual celebration of the Passover; when there was the greatest resort of strangers from all parts: many of whom consented to His death, and all of whom were witnesses of it.
During the Passover time, a sign hung on each lamb’s neck, bearing the name of the owner of the lamb. Jesus was crucified with a sign hung over His head with the name of His Father. Studies have shown the Tetragrammaton probably appeared over Jesus when He hung on the cross. During Bible times, messages were commonly written with the first letter of each word. An example in English: UPS, stands for United Parcel Service. The phrase “Jesus of Nazareth and King of the Jews” was written in three languages on a sign above Jesus as He hung on the cross. The Hebrew initials for “Jesus of Nazareth and King of the Jews” was YHWH. That is why the priest asked Pilate to change the writing.
Then said the chief priests of the Jews to Pilate, Write not, The King of the Jews; but that he said, I am King of the Jews. Pilate answered, What I have written I have written
(John 19: 21-22)
For the previous 1,200 years, the priest would blow the shophar (ram's horn) at 3:00 p.m. - the moment the lamb was sacrificed, and all the people would pause to contemplate the sacrifice for sins on behalf of the people of Israel. At 3:00, when Jesus was being crucified, He said, "It is finished" - at the moment that the Passover lamb was sacrificed and the shophar was blown from the Temple. The sacrifice of the lamb of God was fulfilled at the hour that the symbolic animal sacrifice usually took place. At the same time, the veil of the Temple (a three-inch thick, several story high cloth that demarked the Holy of Holies) tore from top to bottom - representing a removal of the separation between God and man.
The paschal lamb, after being bled to death, was to be roasted with fire, Anciently, fire was an emblem of the wrath of God; as appears from several passages in Scripture: and the passover being roasted with fire, showed that the sufferings of Christ on our account would be inconceivably great and intense; and that He should sustain, in His own blessed person, that vengeance and wrath of God, which we deserved to bear, and which we actually must have borne, had not He endured it for us
Why a lamb?
The paschal sacrifice was not only to be a lamb, but a lamb without blemish. The paschal lamb was to be a year old, so it was not to exceed a year; it was to be slain in the full prime and vigor of its age. So Christ laid down His life not when worn out with age, or enfeebled with sickness: but in the very flower of His days; amid all the bloom of health, and all the vigor of manhood.
Four times in the New Testament we are told He is the lamb. Why was a lamb chosen as the animal to be sacrificed at Passover? There appears to be a number of reasons why this particular creature was selected. First, to reproach the folly and wickedness of the Egyptians; lambs were worshipped by the Egyptians, and it was a tacit reproof of their idolatry, when that which was the object of their adoration was slain and offered up in sacrifice to the true God. Another reason why a lamb was selected, was what better emblem of the Redeemer could have been selected?
no man therefore judge you in meat, or in drink, or in respect of an holyday,
or of the new moon, or of the sabbath days:
17 Which are a shadow of things to come; but the body is of Christ.
For the law having a shadow of good things to come, and not the very image of the things, can never with those sacrifices which they offered year by year continually make the comers thereunto perfect.
Of all creatures a lamb is one of the most innocent, and therefore the fittest to shadow forth the purity and goodness of the future Messiah. Lambs are likewise remarkable for their meekness and patience. “As meek as a lamb” is a common proverb. Lambs are much exposed to injury and danger; their innocence renders them an easy prey to almost every assailant. And was not our Lord persecuted and afflicted?
Isaiah Chapter 53
1 Who hath believed our report? and to whom is the arm of the LORD revealed?
2 For he shall grow up before him as a tender plant, and as a root out of a dry ground: he hath no form nor comeliness; and when we shall see him, there is no beauty that we should desire him.
3 He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were our faces from him; he was despised, and we esteemed him not.
4 Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted.
5 But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed.
6 All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the LORD hath laid on him the iniquity of us all.
7 He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth: he is brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so he openeth not his mouth.
8 He was taken from prison and from judgment: and who shall declare his generation? for he was cut off out of the land of the living: for the transgression of my people was he stricken.
9 And he made his grave with the wicked, and with the rich in his death; because he had done no violence, neither was any deceit in his mouth.
10 Yet it pleased the LORD to bruise him; he hath put him to grief: when thou shalt make his soul an offering for sin, he shall see his seed, he shall prolong his days, and the pleasure of the LORD shall prosper in his hand.
11 He shall see of the travail of his soul, and shall be satisfied: by his knowledge shall my righteous servant justify many; for he shall bear their iniquities.
12 Therefore will I divide him a portion with the great, and he shall divide the spoil with the strong; because he hath poured out his soul unto death: and he was numbered with the transgressors; and he bare the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors
The paschal lamb served the Israelites not only for sacrifice, but also for food:
And they shall eat the flesh in
that night, roast with fire, and unleavened bread; and with bitter herbs they
shall eat it.
9 Eat not of it raw, nor sodden at all with water, but roast with fire; his head with his legs, and with the purtenance thereof.
10 And ye shall let nothing of it remain until the morning; and that which remaineth of it until the morning ye shall burn with fire.
11 And thus shall ye eat it;
(Ex. 12: 8-11)
“Our fathers ate the manna in the desert; as it is written, 'He gave them bread from heaven to eat.’” Then Jesus said to them, “Most assuredly, I say to you, Moses did not give you the bread from heaven, but My Father gives you the true bread from heaven. “For the bread of God is He who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.”Then they said to Him, “Lord, give us this bread always.”And Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life. He who comes to Me shall never hunger, and he who believes in Me shall never thirst…. “I am the bread of life. “Your fathers ate the manna in the wilderness, and are dead.” This is the bread which comes down from heaven, that one may eat of it and not die.” ”I am the living bread which came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever; and the bread that I shall give is My flesh, which I shall give for the life of the world.”
(John 6:31-35, 48-51)
While they were eating, Jesus took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to his disciples, saying, "Take and eat; this is my body." Then he took the cup, gave thanks and offered it to them, saying, "Drink from it, all of you. This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins."
In the same way, after the supper He took the cup, saying, "This cup is the new covenant in My blood, which is poured out for you.
Christ and Passover = redemption
The central theme in Passover is one of redemption;
Wherefore say unto the children of Israel, I am the LORD, and I will bring you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians, and I will rid you out of their bondage, and I will redeem you with a stretched out arm, and with great judgments: And I will take you to me for a people, and I will be to you a God: and ye shall know that I am the LORD your God, which bringeth you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians. And I will bring you in unto the land, concerning the which I did swear to give it to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob; and I will give it you for an heritage: I am the LORD (Ex. 6:6-8).
Christ, our Passover lamb frees us from the bondage of sin;
Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage.
14 For sin shall not have dominion
over you: for ye are not under the law, but under grace.
15 What then? shall we sin, because we are not under the law, but under grace? God forbid.
16 Know ye not, that to whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are to whom ye obey; whether of sin unto death, or of obedience unto righteousness?
17 But God be thanked, that ye were the servants of sin, but ye have obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine which was delivered you.
18 Being then made free from sin, ye became the servants of righteousness.
19 I speak after the manner of men because of the infirmity of your flesh: for as ye have yielded your members servants to uncleanness and to iniquity unto iniquity; even so now yield your members servants to righteousness unto holiness.
20 For when ye were the servants of sin, ye were free from righteousness.
21 What fruit had ye then in those things whereof ye are now ashamed? for the end of those things is death.
22 But now being made free from sin, and become servants to God, ye have your fruit unto holiness, and the end everlasting life.
For we know that the law is spiritual: but I am carnal, sold under sin
Jesus answered them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Whosoever committeth sin is the servant of sin
 There were two calendars in use in Israel, one was civil and the other was a religious, and they were based on agricultural seasons.
 Ex 2:24
 A king normally rode on a donkey
 John 19:19
 Matthew 27:46, 50 see also Mark 15:34-37, Luke 23:44-46
 Matt. 27:51; Mark 15:38; Luke 23:45; Heb 9:3
 Redemption- noun; the act of saving something or somebody from a declined, dilapidated, or corrupted state and restoring it, him, or her to a better condition.
More by this Author
The Rights of Illegal Immigrants? By S A Campbell An interesting side argument has developed relating to the emotional issue of illegal immigrants in this country. There have been repeated...
Many speak of a separation of Church and state, claiming it's in the Constitution but is it? Is there a clear separation mentioned in the Consitution or for that matter anywhere in the legal record? The truth may...