The LORD’s Passover – Pesach

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“This is a day you are to commemorate; for the generations to come you shall celebrate it as a festival to the LORD — a lasting ordinance” (Exodus 12:14).

The LORD’s Passover is the first annual Feast of the LORD.  It is the   memorial to the extraordinary account of God’s judgment on Egypt’s gods and Israel’s miraculous deliverance from a life of slavery.   The Passover, or Pesach in Hebrew, began Israel’s physical redemption as God’s holy nation and they were to  remember their salvation from death to life in the ‘appointed time’ called Passover. 

Hebrew Word Pictures

Passover or Pesach – פסח

Peh פ – A Mouth means ‘to speak, pour out’

Samech ס  A Prop means ‘to support and protect’

Chet ח – A Fence means ‘inner chamber’

The Hebrew word picture for pesach: “To pour out protection in the inner chamber.”

For hundreds of years the descendants of Jacob were enslaved in Egypt building Pharaoh great cities.  They were oppressed with hard labor from digging clay to making bricks and all kinds of field work.  They were shown no mercy by their overseers.  In spite of the  oppression, their population increased.  Pharaoh commanded the midwives to kill all baby boys as they were born, but because they feared God, they let the boys live.  Pharaoh then ordered that all baby boys be thrown into the Nile River. 

One infant boy from a Levite family was placed in a papyrus basket and floated in the Nile river.  He was found by Pharaoh’s daughter who named him Moses or Moshe which means ‘pulled out of the water.’ She located his mother and paid her to nurse him.  When he was old enough, he left his mother and went to live in Pharaoh’s house as a prince of Egypt.

As an adult, Moshe struggled with what he saw happening to his people, the Hebrew people.   In a moment of anger, he killed a man.  When word of it spread to Pharaoh, he feared for his life and ran to the land of Midian on the northwest Arabian peninsula.  He became a shepherd and married Tzipporah, the daughter of a Midian priest.    They had two sons named Gershom and Elieazer.   

God heard the cries of the children of Israel.  He saw their bondage and their misery.  Through a burning bush, He called Moshe to become their deliverer.  He told Moshe to go to Pharaoh and tell him to let His people go.  Even so, God warned Moshe that He would harden Pharaoh’s heart until he understood through the death of his firstborn son that Israel is the firstborn son of God.  Armed with a staff in his hand and the name of God – the Ehyeh Asher Ehyeh, the “I Am that I Am”- Moses started out for Egypt.  During his journey, Moshe met Aaron and they returned to confront Pharaoh together.

Egypt was culture of death.   Their gods and goddesses glorified death.   Their Pharaohs were immortalized in grand pyramid tombs filled with symbols of death.   Their book for immortalizing those who passed on was called the “Book of the Dead.”   So God gave them what they worshipped and honored the most – death.

Through Moshe, God judged each of the gods of Egypt with plagues: water to blood, frogs, gnats or lice, flies, cattle disease, boils, hailstones, locusts, and darkness.   The people of Egypt suffered.  The land of Egypt suffered.  Even with the loss of livestock and crops, Pharaoh would not relent and set his slaves free.  Then, God’s  ‘appointed time’ of deliverance arrived.

“Moshe said [to Pharaoh], “Here is what the LORD says: ‘About midnight I will go out into Egypt, and all the firstborn in the land of Egypt will die, from the firstborn of Pharaoh sitting on his throne to the firstborn of the slave-girl at the handmill, and all the firstborn of the livestock. There will be a horrendous wailing throughout all the land of Egypt — there has never been another like it, and there never will be again. But not even a dog’s growl will be heard against any of the people of Israel, neither against people nor against animals. In this way you will realize that the LORD distinguishes between Egyptians and Israel. All your servants will come down to me, prostrate themselves before me and say, “Get out! — you and all the people who follow you!” and after that, I will go out!’ ” And he went out from Pharaoh in the heat of anger” (Exodus 11:4-8).

Preparations Begin

“The LORD said to Moses and Aaron in Egypt, “This month is to be for you the first month, the first month of your year. Tell the whole community of Israel that on the tenth day of this month each man is to take a lamb for his family, one for each household” (Exodus 12:1-3).

Though the children of Israel experienced the first three plagues against Egypt, God separated them from the rest.  In order to protect His people from the death of the firstborn, He had them bring a lamb or goat into their home for four days.  It had to be an animal without defect, a first-year male, and enough to feed each household. 

“Take care of them [the goat or lamb] until the fourteenth day of the month, when all the members of the community of Israel must slaughter them at twilight.  Then they are to take some of the blood and put it on the sides and tops of the door frames of the houses where they eat the lambs”

(Exodus 12:-6-7).

After caring for their animals for four days, the Israelites were to slaughter them at twilight, after sunset, when the sun is below the horizon and a soft glowing light emanates from the sky.  They were to put some of the animal’s blood on the sides and tops of the door frames where they were going to eat the meal.

In the Hebrew alphabet, the eighth letter is chet ח and represents the number 8 and ‘new beginnings.‘   The word ‘life’ or chaim also comes from chet and means ‘life.’  The manner in which the blood was placed around the door sides and top formed the letter chet for a new beginning of life.

ח

“On that same night I will pass through Egypt and strike down every firstborn of both people and animals, and I will bring judgment on all the gods of Egypt. I am the Lord. The blood will be a sign for you on the houses where you are, and when I see the blood, I will pass over you. No destructive plague will touch you when I strike Egypt” (Exodus 12:12-13).

As the Israelites remained in their homes, the blood on their doorposts would be a sign for God, the Destroyer.  When He saw the sign of the blood, He would ‘pass over’ the firstborn sons who were in the home protected by blood while allowing the firstborn of Egypt to die.   

“This is how you are to eat it [the meal]: with your cloak tucked into your belt, your sandals on your feet and your staff in your hand. Eat it in haste; it is the LORD’s Passover” (Exodus 12:11).

The Passover meal consisted of roasted lamb, bread without leaven, and bitter herbs.  The Israelites were not to break the bones of the lamb or take any of the meal outside of their homes.  They were to eat it in haste.

“At midnight the LORD struck down all the firstborn in Egypt, from the firstborn of Pharaoh, who sat on the throne, to the firstborn of the prisoner, who was in the dungeon, and the firstborn of all the livestock as well.  Pharaoh and all his officials and all the Egyptians got up during the night, and there was loud wailing in Egypt, for there was not a house without someone dead” (Exodus 12:29-30).

Lasting Ordinance

“And when your children ask you, ‘What does this ceremony mean to you?’ then tell them, ‘It is the Passover sacrifice to the Lord, who passed over the houses of the Israelites in Egypt and spared our homes when he struck down the Egyptians” (Exodus 12:27). 

Passover was to be celebrated forever throughout all the generations of the Israelites no matter where they lived.  There were also specific regulations regarding the Passover.  No foreigner, slave or traveler was to eat the meal unless they were circumcised.  Once circumcised,  they would be considered a citizen of Israel and could take part in the meal.   The meal was always to be eaten in the house and no meat was to be taken outside.  The bones of the Passover lamb were never to be broken.

In Joshua chapter 5, there is the account of the Israelites celebrating Passover in Gilgal after taking flint knives and circumcising all the men who had come out of the wilderness.  In 2 Kings 23, Josiah destroys all the high places and idols in Israel and the nation celebrates Passover in Jerusalem for the first time since the days of the Judges.  In Ezra chapter 6, when the Israelites returned from captivity, all who renounced the pagan practices of the nations celebrated the Passover.  Ezekiel 45 speaks about Passover being celebrated in the Millennial Kingdom by putting blood on the door-frames of the Temple, on the four corners of the Altar’s ledge and on the supports of the gate of the Inner Courtyard.   

The ‘appointed time’ of Messiah

“He [Yeshua] replied, “Go into the city to a certain man and tell him, ‘The Teacher says: My ‘appointed time’ is near. I am going to celebrate the Passover with my disciples at your house’” (Matthew 26:18).

The ‘appointed time’ of Passover was celebrated by Yeshua with his disciples.  Using two cups of wine and unleavened bread from the traditional Passover memorial called a seder, he began to renew the marriage covenant given to Israel at Mount Sinai (Luke 22).   However, in order to institute the new covenant, there had to be the shedding of blood.  His blood. 

Another cup of wine, a third cup, was also poured at a traditional seder to remember the plague judgments on Egypt with the final one being the death of the firstborn.   Yeshua didn’t mention this cup of wine at his seder probably because he knew the plague of  death was coming for him as the Lamb of God.  Even though he prayed earnestly for his Father to allow the cup of death to ‘pass over’ him, he knew he had to go forth with his Father’s plan.  There would be no lamb’s blood on the doorposts of any house to protect his life.  His blood was going to be poured out. 

“They are the Israelites who are to be given wholly to me. I have taken them as my own in place of the firstborn …” (Numbers 8:16).

Isaac, the beloved firstborn son of Abraham, had experienced the ‘passover’ when the blood of a ram saved him from death.  This ‘binding of Isaac’ became the vision of redemption for God’s people.  When God allowed the firstborn the sons of Israel to live through the plague of death with the substitute sacrifice, He again revealed His plan of salvation through a lamb.   When Yeshua hung on the cross, he cried out, “It is finished.”  With those words he died. The beginning of the salvation of Israel and the world began with the substitute sacrifice of the Lamb of God. 

“For Messiah, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed. Therefore let us keep the Festival …” (1 Corinthians 5:7).

If you are interested in celebrating the Passover, use our Passover Haggadah Booklet.

©2000 Tenstake Ministries, chapter from Journey with Jeremiah on amazon.com

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