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The first spring feast (appointed time) initiated in Exodus as the time when God delivered the children of Israel out of bondage to Egypt. It is known as the time God came down to begin the courtship with His Bride, Israel. We see in Exodus 6:6-7, the four steps of redemption, (the four cups of wine we drink during the Passover Seder). We see the change in their identity from slaves, to sons and daughters by the blood of the Passover lamb on their dwellings, to priests and then to a Bride. First Moses led the Jewish people through this pattern of redemption and then,1500 years later, Jesus, a Prophet like Moses (Deut. 18:15), came down and fulfilled the same pattern to get His Bride…Jew and Gentile.

Passover is a picture of our redemption in Jesus. It is the first of the Jewish festivals listed in Leviticus 23. It marks the beginning of the Jewish religious year during the Hebrew month of Aviv (called Nissan after the Babylonian captivity). In Leviticus 23 it is called a ‘holy convocation, a Hebrew word that means rehearsal.  It is to be acted out or “rehearsed” every year so we can remember God’s great work of salvation in our lives. By looking back we see His faithfulness and ways; by looking forward, we see the yet to be revealed and experienced aspect of His love; and, by looking at our hearts and lives in the light of our present circumstances, it allows us to feel His pleasure and ask for His help.

Just as the other festivals listed in Leviticus 23, Passover is an “appointed time”, a “moed”… an appointment on God’s holy calendar that, although He has fulfilled the spring feasts at His first coming, He desires to meet with us every year on these appointed times so we can enter into our own personal story of salvation and deliverance. The feasts are the “blueprint” of His plan of redemption. The former rain festivals like Passover are in the spring and refer to His first coming. The latter rain festivals are in the fall, referring to His second coming. Hosea 6:3 says, “He will come to us like the rain, the former and the latter rain and water the earth”.

How To

Before sundown of the 14th of Nissan… Looking for chametz (leaven)… Chametz represents sin. The word sin in Hebrew means, “missing the mark”; so examining your heart to ask Him what is holding you back from giving yourself totally to the Lord… it could be big or little things: bad attitudes, unforgiveness, offenses etc… or anything stale from past years that has been attached to your life for too long. Give it to the Lord and prepare your heart to encounter Him at the Passover Seder. If you are hosting a Seder, it is a time of preparation of food and preparing the atmosphere for Him to come.

The ‘substance’ in all of the Leviticus 23 festivals is Jesus. They are prophetic pictures of Him and they are to be observed for the purpose of heart encounter. As we partake of the Passover together, we want more than a night of dead liturgy; more than mechanically going through the Passover Seder (order).

During our Passover celebration together, we are to remember and experience our personal testimony of how God delivered us out of the darkness of our unredeemed lives in the world (Egypt); delivered us from the bondage of a cruel taskmaster (Satan/Pharaoh); brought us through death and burial in our water baptism (the Red Sea); and raised us to new life into our intimate relationship with Him.  THIS IS TO Be EXPERIENCED! You are entering into a picture of remembering your own salvation journey by being a participant in this night; as an individual and as a community, as you partake of the wine and various ritual foods tec. Passover is referred to as the FESTIVAL OF FREEDOM.

During the Seder (word that means order, or order of service), you will taste foods that represent different elements in the Exodus story. Central to the evening we will be drinking four cups (or sips) of wine that represent the four parts of our redemption. We use wine because it is part of experiencing our FREEDOM, but if you prefer to use grape juice, that is totally acceptable.   During Passover we distinguish between “social drinking” and partaking of wine set apart for the purpose of encountering God and strengthening our spirits. Jewish people use wine at festivals, Sabbaths, and weddings, because wine represents the joy of the Holy Spirit. Orthodox Jews believe that a spiritual person can rejoice and celebrate a festival with food and drink without it diminishing his spirituality.

To the Greek way of thinking, things are understood with our minds, intellectually. Hebrew thought, on the other hand, still satisfies the intellect, but believes that true learning and understanding begins in the heart and senses. The things in our hearts connect to our remembrance, since they have been experienced. Jesus said to the religious leaders of His day in John 5:39:

“You search the scriptures, (intellectually/religiously) for in them you think you have eternal life; and these are they which testify of Me. But you are not willing to come to Me (in intimate encounter) that you may have life.”

John 1:1 confirms getting to know God is experiential and says,

“That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled, concerning the Word of life.”

God wants us to engage our hearts, minds, souls, emotions, and senses, to encounter Him. When Jewish children begin to study Torah, the teacher puts honey on their tongue to remind them that tasting the word is sweet. The biblical holidays are to be experienced and observed by communal participation.