THE FIRST PASSOVER
God’s instructions for preparing this last meal are told in Exodus 12:1-15. We read the following:
And the LORD spake unto Moses and Aaron in the land of Egypt, saying,
“This month … shall be the first month of the year to you. Speak ye unto all the congregation of Israel, saying, ‘In the tenth day of this month they shall take to them every man a lamb, … your lamb shall be without blemish, a male … ye shall keep it up until the fourteenth day of the same month … and shall kill it in the evening.
“And they shall take of the blood, and strike it on the two side posts and on the upper door post of the houses, wherein they shall eat it. … in that night, roast with fire, and unleavened bread; and with bitter herbs they shall eat it. … let nothing of it remain until the morning … And thus shall ye eat it; with your loins girded, your shoes on your feet, and your staff in your hand; and ye shall eat it in haste: it is the LORD’s passover.
“For I will pass through the land of Egypt this night, and will smite all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, both man and beast; … the blood shall be to you for a token … when I see the blood, I will pass over you, and the plague shall not be upon you to destroy you, when I smite the land of Egypt. And this day shall be unto you for a memorial; and ye shall keep it a feast to the LORD throughout all your generations; … Seven days shall ye eat unleavened bread; the first day ye shall put away leaven out of your houses.”
God told them that this was to be a perpetual celebration, which they were to carefully explain to their children. Exodus 12:25-27 says,
… that ye shall keep this service. And it shall come to pass, when your children shall say unto you, ‘What mean ye by this service?’ That ye shall say, ‘It is the sacrifice of the LORD’s passover’ …
Moses passed on these instructions, and the people did as God had said. Exodus 12:29-30 tells what happened.
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.
After this, Moses succeeded in leading the Israelites out of Egypt, miraculously crossing the Red Sea, and through forty years of wanderings in the wilderness. His successor, Joshua, led them across the Jordan River, and through the conquest of the land of Canaan, which God had promised to Abraham and his descendants. Then followed almost 1500 years of troubled life there before their promised Messiah, Y’shua (or Jesus), came to Earth.
God gave directions for the “Seven Feasts of Israel” in Leviticus 23. The first three are very closely connected, in time and significance. These all occurred in the month Nisan, the first month of the Jewish religious year. This month begins at sundown on the day of the first New Moon after the spring equinox, sometime in March or April. (See Leviticus 23:5, 6, 11.)
These are the feasts of the LORD, even holy convocations, which ye shall proclaim in their seasons. In the fourteenth day of the first month at evening is the LORD’s passover. And on the fifteenth day of the same month is the feast of unleavened bread unto the LORD: seven days ye must eat unleavened bread. … [then for the next feast of FirstFruits] … ye shall bring a sheaf of the firstfuits of your harvest unto the priest: And he shall wave the sheaf before the LORD, to be accepted for you: on the morrow after the sabbath the priest shall wave it.
To summarize this, on the 10th day of Nisan each family was to select an unblemished male lamb, then on the 14th they killed it in a prescribed manner (not breaking any bones), and ate the ritual Passover Feast. During the eight days from the 14th through the 21st, they had no leaven in their bread — they ate matzohs. One of those seven days had to be a Sunday (the day after Sabbath); that day was called “FirstFruits.”
NOTE: We should remember this timing sequence, and see how it fit with Jesus’s death, burial, and resurrection. We’ll discuss this more completely near the end of this article. Since that time, all Jews who made any effort to worship God properly have observed this ceremony. Jesus himself did this on His last night before His crucifixion. This became the pattern for our observance of the Lord’s Supper (or Holy Communion). We’ll see that each element had more significance than most of us realize.