CHRIST IN THE PASSOVER
by Curt Sewell
This article describes the history and background of the Jewish Passover Seder, or Order of Service, which is probably the oldest ceremony still being celebrated anywhere in the world today. It’s been done for about 3500 years. We’ll learn the meaning of each of the strange items served. We’ll discover the true meaning of the “Mystery of the Aphikomen,” which most modern Jews practice without knowing why. This ritual is rich with meaning for Christians, and shows that the Jewish Messiah, Jesus Christ, is actually the central figure in this ancient Jewish feast. We end with a discussion of the timing of Crucifixion Week events, and show how they fit the prophetic pattern of three of the Seven Feasts of Israel.
The Passover is an ancient Jewish celebration, that started in Egypt about 3500 years ago. So why should modern Christians, most of whom aren’t Jewish, pay any attention to this feast of Judaism? Does it have any significance to us today? Who is the central character in the Passover?
Many people tend to think of Judaism and Christianity as two different religions. Some Christians even think that since God’s chosen people, the Jews, rejected Y’shua (or Jesus), as their Messiah, God has rejected them; they think that God then started over with Christians as His chosen people. That’s not so — Christianity is actually a continuation and fulfillment of God’s original religion that He gave to man.
Most of the Jews rejected God’s new covenant when their Messiah came, over 2000 years ago. They didn’t recognize Y’Shua’s fulfillment of many of the prophesies in their Tenach, but preferred to stay in their old religious habits, and not take advantage of the Saviour God sent. But even so, God preserved a remnant of saved people among the nation of Israel.
Look at Romans 11:25-29 (RSV). It shows that the Jews are still God’s chosen people, and that eventually all surviving Jews will be saved.
Lest you be wise in your own conceits, I want you to understand this mystery, brethren: a hardening has come upon part of Israel, until the full number of the Gentiles come in, and so all Israel will be saved; as it is written, “The Deliverer will come from Zion, he will banish ungodliness from Jacob; and this will be my covenant with them when I take away their sins.” As regards the gospel they are enemies of God, for your sake; but as regards election they are beloved for the sake of their forefathers. For the gifts and the call of God are irrevocable.
We’ll see that Passover actually has a lot of importance to Christians, because it is a picture of Jesus. He is really the central character, even though that’s not obvious to most Jews because they haven’t believed the New Testament.
THE NATION OF ISRAEL
The book of Genesis tells us about God’s first covenant with Abraham, in Genesis 12:1-3, 15:5,18, and 17:5-8. He renewed that covenant relationship, first to Isaac in 17:21 and 26:2-4. Later Abraham’s grandson Jacob (whose name was changed to “Israel”) and all of his descendants received this covenant, in Genesis 28:13-15.
Genesis 37-50 describes how Jacob’s descendants (“children of Israel”) migrated to Egypt. At first they were well-treated, but after many years the government changed, they were enslaved by the new Pharaoh, and life became miserable.
PREPARATION FOR DELIVERANCE
The book of Exodus tells how God heard the prayers of His people, and sent a deliverer, Moses. He told Moses to go to Pharaoh and say, “Let my people go.” At first Pharaoh refused.
Then the Lord began to show his power to Pharaoh. He sent plagues on the land — first the water of the Nile was turned to blood, then the land was covered with frogs, there were lice, then flies, then their cattle died, then the people were infected with boils, hail devastated their crops, locusts ate what was left, and the sun was turned to darkness. Each of these plagues hit directly at one of the Egyptian false gods.
As each plague came, Pharaoh first promised to let the people go, and then broke his agreement. He had started by rejecting God (see Exodus 5:2), and God later used this hardness of heart to show His power. Finally the last and worst plague became inevitable. This began with the first Passover.