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Sunday, March 25, 2012

Why I Want to Celebrate Passover & The Feast of Unleavened Bread

God has been speaking to me. I've been absent as I've been studying some of the radical things God has shown me. I am not Jewish, but one of these things shown is the importance of His 7 ordained feasts. Of those, the first is Passover and the Feast of Unleavened Bread.

I know without a shadow of a doubt God is leading me to worship Him in the manner written to us through Moses. Jesus worshiped then became the passover sacrificial lamb in this same manner. As I prepare to share the scripture behind my desire to celebrate these feasts, I will mention Easter only this one time in saying I will not participate in traditions once upheld. It has been hard to let go and grasp a celebration I knew nothing about, but God has been patient and merciful in revealing His will to me.

With that said, here is some scriptural references God revealed to me as He prepares my heart to celebrate His passover and feast.

James 4:10
Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and he shall lift you up.

I went back to the original story in Egypt. God let loose the Angel of Death, and His people were protected because of God's specified blood sacrifice. He ordained this sacrifice a memorial feast to be kept by Hebrew generations for ever, explaining to children the reasoning behind the celebration.

Exodus 12:14
And this day shall be unto you for a memorial; and ye shall keep it a feast to the LORD throughout your generations; ye shall keep it a feast by an ordinance for ever.

Forever. That's a long time. I can't see God saying "Do this forever" and being happy with a people not celebrating the way he commanded. So I dug further. I wanted to find instances of the people celebrating the Passover and what it looked like for them.

2 Kings 23:21, 22
And the king [Josiah] commanded all the people, saying, "Keep the Passover unto the LORD your God, as it is written in the Book of this Covenant." Surely there was not holden such a passover from the days of the judges that judged Israel, nor in all the days of the kings of Israel, nor of the kings of Judah;

King Josiah of Judah in the south wanted to lead his people back to serving Yahweh. He put away the poles, idols, and alters to other gods and directed the cleansing of the priests and temple to worship God and celebrate passover as He commanded. After practicing the traditions of other gods set up by his grandfather, Josiah found courage to get the nation back on track with Yahweh. I loved the verse speaking about a passover never been or not celebrated like that one under the kings. It spoke to me about God's important role in our personal and national spiritual healing.

Another story of man's courage to fulfill God's commandment and His abundant mercy: the king [Hezekiah] directed the people to celebrate the passover at a time not commanded of God; however, because the temple was not ready in the first month on the fourteenth day, the day passover is celebrated, the people took the time to prepare the temple and themselves to celebrate this important memorial.

2 Chronicles 30:18-20
For a multitude of the people, even many from Ephraim, and Manasseh, Issachar, and Zebulun had not cleansed themselves, yet they ate the Passover otherwise than it was written. But Hezekiah prayed for them, saying, "The good LORD pardon every one who prepareth his heart to seek God, the LORD God of his fathers, though he be not cleansed according to the purification of the sanctuary." And the LORD hearkened to Hezekiah, and healed the people.

What spoke to me most about this story is that God accepted and healed them even though they didn't get the specifics of the feast perfect. This gave me hope as a novice trying to celebrate in a manner pleasing to God.

I found this deeper explanation involving sin offerings very interesting.

Ezekiel 45:21,22
In the first month, in the fourteenth day of the month, ye shall have the passover, a feast of seven days; unleavened bread shall be eaten. And upon that day shall the prince prepare for himself and for all the people of the land a bullock for a sin offering.

The 45th chapter of Ezekiel continues in describing daily sin offerings for the nation throughout passover and the week of the feast of unleavened bread. This knowledge of sin offering reminded me of Jesus. God began putting the spiritual puzzle in my heart together. This was a memorial of our Christ's sacrifice put in place thousands of years before His birth.

Then, I began exploring the New Testament's passover experiences.

Jesus had his disciples go before him and prepare the feast. This is what they were eating when Jesus instituted the Lord's Supper. "Do this in remembrance of me." So, in the middle of a memorial feast, he breaks bread and shares wine, providing his own body and blood as a sin offering to God for believers so that death will "pass over" them...

Matthew 26:26-29
And as they were eating, Jesus took bread, and blessed it, and brake it, and gave it to the disciples, and said, Take, eat; this is my body. And he took the cup, and gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying, Drink ye all of it; For this is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins. But I say unto you, I will not drink henceforth of this fruit of the vine, until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father's kingdom.

Mark and Luke give confirming points of view about this Passover, Lord's Supper memorial celebration.

Luke 2:32
[Describing Jesus] A light to lighten the Gentiles, and the glory of thy people Israel.

vs. 41
Now his [Jesus] parents went to Jerusalem every year at the feast of the passover.

So celebrating passover was a tradition practiced and taught by his own parents. When Jesus was twelve years old, Jesus went with parents again to Jerusalem for the passover celebration and stayed behind until his parents found him 3 days later, still in the temple.

There were so many references in John, I wanted to give all that were in my Strong's Concordance. If I missed any or do not mention all, please feel free to share anything extra talked about in scripture. :)

John 2:13,23
And the Jews' passover was at hand, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem,
Now when he was in Jerusalem at the passover, in the feast day, many believed in his name, when they saw the miracles which he did.

And the passover, a feast of the Jews, was nigh.

And the Jews' passover was nigh at hand: and many went out of the country up to Jerusalem before the passover, to purify themselves. Then sought they for Jesus, and spake among themselves, as they stood in the temple, what think ye, that he will not come to the feast? Now both the chief priests and the Pharisees had given a commandment, that , if any man knew where he were, he should shew it, that they might take him.

Those that sought to kill Jesus knew he would be near the temple for the feast, and this is God's will since Jesus would become the passover sacrifice.

Then Jesus six days before the passover came to Bethany, where Lazarus was which had been dead, whom he raised from the dead. [A precursor to his own death, burial, and resurrection?]

Now before the feast of the passover, when Jesus knew that his hour was come that he should depart out of this world unto the Father, having loved his own which were in the world, he loved them unto to end.

Then led they Jesus from Caiaphas unto the hall of judgment: and it was early; and they themselves went not into the judgment hall, lest they should be defiled; but that they might eat the passover. Pilate then went out unto them, and said, "What accusation bring ye against this man?"

[The irony behind the high priests paying Judas for Jesus' blood but wouldn't come into Pilate's judgment hall for fear of being defiled and unclean for passover.]

And it was the preparation of the passover, and about the sixth hour: and he [Pilate] brought Jesus forth, and sat down in the judgement seat in a place that is called the Pavement, but in the Hebrew, Gabbatha.

During the night of passover for Jesus and his disciples, Jesus taught them more than just the Lord's Supper. He taught them about the Holy Spirit, the end of days, the purpose of his ministry, and the necessity of his betrayal and death. A memorial celebration feast filled with instruction for the church.

I Corinthians 3:21
Therefore let no man glory in men. For all things are yours.

Your glorying is not good. Know ye not that a little leaven leaveneth the whole lump? Purge out therefore the old leaven, that ye may be a new lump, as ye are unleavened. For even Christ our passover is sacrificed for us: therefore let us keep the feast, not with old leaven, neither with the leaven of malice and wickedness; but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.

Hebrews 11 - "The Hall of Faith"
vs. 23-29 [7 verses describing Moses, leading up to passover]

By faith Moses, when he was born, was hid three months of his parents, because they saw he was a proper child; and they were not afraid of the king's commandment. By faith Moses, when he was come to years, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh's daughter; Choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God, than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season; Esteeming the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures in Egypt: for he had respect unto the recompence of the reward. By faith he forsook Egypt, not fearing the wrath of the king: for he endured, as seeing him who is invisible. Through faith he kept the passover, and the sprinkling of blood, lest he that destroyed the firstborn should touch them. By faith they passed through the Red sea as by dry land: which the Egyptians assaying to do were drowned.

Isaiah 51 - reference to God's miracles and power shown around the time of passover and exodus out of Egypt. Every time the prophets urge the people to remember their Lord God, YHWH, there are usually accompanying references to Him forgiving their sins AND bringing them out of captivity. There are many more biblical references, and I would be interested in anything you feel called to share.

Interested in Hebrew books no longer a part of the canonized bible, I dug further for passover scripture.

Book of Jubilees 49 - Passover and the Feast of Unleavened Bread
vs. 8
For it is an eternal ordinance, and engraven on the heavenly tablets regarding all the children of Israel that they should observe it every year on its day once a year, throughout all their generations; and there is no limit of days, for this is ordained for ever.

I want to end with another scripture.

2 Chronicles 7:14
If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.

I would say our land is in serious need of healing. I want this healing, understanding, blessing, and spiritual empowerment. I do not put limits on God, but I want to put His limits on me and my worship and allow Him to align me with His will and commandments. For an in depth look at the pagan roots of current tradition, please take the time for this 2 hour video by Jim Staley: Truth or Tradition - Should Christians Celebrate Christmas and Easter?

My 2012 verse: Joshua 1:9
Have not I commanded thee? Be strong and of a good courage; be not afraid, neither be thou dismayed: for the LORD thy God is with thee whithersoever thou goest.

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