A Better Understanding of the Passover

I would like to start my blog today with some quotes from a little book I found in my library this morning. It is called. “The Quiet Revival” written and co-written by Dean and Susan Wheelock.

“As we looked into the connection between our understandings as Believers in Yeshua HaMashiach (Jesus the Messiah) and those commonly found in the Jewish faith, we discovered numerous parallels.” In my next few blogs, I am going to attempt show by uncovering evidence of the “Communion and Passover Connection“. Since Easter is on most of our minds this month anyway, why not begin here!

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–Learning the Old Ways—

In order to “rightly divide the word of truth,” we must turn back to God’s Instruction Book: The Torah (Toh-rah=the first five books of the ‘Old Testament:’  Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy).  Just as the Tanakh (Old Testament) is strictly a Hebrew book, so too is the Brit Chadasha (New Testament), where all of the authors except one are identified within each book individually.

“The bulk of the Epistles were written by Shaul (Shaw-ool=Saul, the given name of the Apostle Paul), who clearly stated he was Jewish:

“…circumcised the eight day, of the stock of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of the Hebrews: concerning the law, a Pharisee;…”

I have come to the general conclusion, that to get a better grasp on the Communion we participate in our Christian churches, we need to see the connection to the Jewish Passover. With Easter coming soon, I have decided to relate my detective work in the next blogs.

-Relationship Vs. Doctrine—

“It has been said that in Christianity people are more concerned about what one thinks, while in Judaism they are more concerned about how one believes.”  Marvin R. Wilson, in his book Our Father Abraham,writes on page 138,

“Jewish anthropologist Raphel Patai has observed that because the Hebrews like the concrete and tended to avoid the abstract, the idea of doctrinal formulation was alien to their mind.  In Hebrew thought the essence of true godliness is tied primarily to a relationship, not a creed.”

In other words, what is important in the Hebrew way of thinking is one’s relationship with God and his fellow-man; not what one thinks about God. “Prayer then becomes the focal point in the Hebrew’s relationship with their Creator and good deeds the center of their relationship with other people.”

Dianne and I, several years ago attended a Passover Seder at a Messianic Church in Renton, Washington with our son and his family. It was just before Easter and we received a better understanding of the connection between Communion services and Haggadah (Passover).  The last two years before Easter, Dianne and I have held the Seder in our home. I have wondered if we would invite guest, how many would be interested? Just a thought. I want to give you a sampling of what is contained in a small booklet, starting with what is written inside of the front cover:

Preparing for Passover

Leader:

“One of Messiahs’ last earthly acts was the celebration of the Passover.  Gathering His disciples in a small room in Jerusalem, He led them in a Seder.  “I have eagerly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer.”  (Luke 22:15)  He passed the foods among them. It was there, in the context of this celebration that Yeshua revealed to them the mystery of God’s plan of redemption. He spoke to them of His body and blood. He explained to them that He would have to die. It was not coincidence that Messiah chose the Passover for the setting of what is now celebrated as communion, or the Lord’s supper in Christianity today. For in the story of the Passover lamb, Yeshua could best communicate the course He would be taking over the confusing hours that were to follow. As we participate together in this Covenant Meal, let us experience God’s great redemption!”

I picked out some key words in the Leader’s portion of the “Preparing for Passover“. Are we preparing for Communion in our monthly, weekly, daily rituals in the same way Jesus prepared and led for the Passover?

#1.  “Eagerly desired” to participate.

#2.  A celebration of redemption.

#3.  Mysteries revealed.

#4.  A “Receiving”.”

That last key that I listed above, I put into a question as a reminder:  “What does it mean when we speak of Receiving Communion?”   I decided, before I could correctly answer that question I needed to investigate, “How did communion come about?”

Over 3500 years ago the Hebrew people had become slaves to the Egyptians. The king of Egypt. or Pharaoh, was unwilling to release the Hebrews and allow them to return to Israel. God sent 10 plagues on Egypt. The end result was that Pharaoh released the Hebrew nation, consisting of 600,000 men of war, not counting the women and children. Most of us know about the story in Exodus 11:5.

To protect the Hebrews from the destroying angel, God required each Hebrew family to take a young lamb, place the blood on the left, right and top post of the door to the house, and eat all of the lamb before midnight (Exodus 12:7, 8). The miracle was two-fold: they were healed and they were protected. By eating the lamb, the Hebrews experienced supernatural healing, as indicated in Psalm 105:37.  The other miracle was that the blood on the outside doorposts kept the angel from entering the homes marked with lamb’s blood. The Hebrew families were protected from both sickness and death as a result of the blood and body of the lamb. God promised that their obedience of marking the door by the lamb’s blood would cause death to “pass over” their houses. (Exodus 12:13).

The Hebrew word for “Passover” is Pesach, and refers to “skipping over, to leap or dance.”  Each year religious Jews conduct a Passover seder in which they tell the amazing story of the deliverance from Egypt. During this season bread is baked without leaven, recalling how the Hebrews did not have time to put leaven in their bread before departing from Egypt. As you probably already know, today yeast is a leaven which causes the bread to rise. The Hebrews didn’t have time for this “rising” to occur; thus the unleavened bread making. Getting any connecting pictures yet? If not, you will soon.

Also, four different cups of wine are used, each cup identifying a different aspect of the Passover story. These cups are numbered and named. Since Jesus was a Jew, He used these same four cups at the “Last Supper”:

The first cup is called the cup of sanctification.

The second cup is called the cup of affliction.

The third cup is the cup of redemption.

The fourth cup is the cup of consummation or Hallel.

As a backlash to Judaism and religious formality, I believe churches today have become expedient toward the “Communion”. To the best of my knowledge, we don’t treat Communion as a celebration. In the Hebrew language “Hallel” was worship at the highest point of celebration. We have taken “communion” as a ritual that must fit in with time constraints of the morning worship service. Communion should not become a ‘side-track’ in our morning services. We actually spend more time in “fellowship” than we do in “communion”. If “Communion” isn’t a celebration at your church…then keep following along with me. If you are just curious, that’s okay too.

I will look next into some revealing evidence; our connections towards Communion and Passover.

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