Passover: Deep Meanings Behind the Tradition

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Pesach or Passover is a beautiful celebration of God’s redemption of the Israelites from Egypt. There is a lot of preparation that goes into the Passover meal, but each part has such a deep meaning. When God commanded the Israelites to celebrate Passover every year, He was actually revealing to them His ultimate redemption plan. Unfortunately many of the Jews were unable to connect the dots and realize their Messiah did come and fulfill all that God had promised. As you read about their Passover celebration see if you can see the hidden, deeper meanings.

You can read about the first Passover in Exodus chapter 12. This chapter talks about the conclusion of the 10 plagues that led to Pharaoh allowing the Israelites to leave Egypt. The Israelites were automatically exempt from the first 9 plagues, but they could only escape the tenth plague if they did exactly as God had instructed. Today death is our final plague, and if we do not do exactly what God says we will not escape this final “plague” no matter what our nationality is or what we have done. (See Romans 6:23, Romans 3:22-24 and Romans 10:8-10)

There were a lot of steps that went into preparing a Jewish household for Passover. One act that was extremely important to do was to remove all yeast or leaven from the household. To the Jews leaven was a symbol for sin. A small amount of leaven made a whole piece of dough rise, to be puffed up. After the dough had risen they would keep a small amount and set it aside to be used to make another bread at another time. If any amount of leaven was present in the dough, it would rise. Just like in our own lives if we have a small amount of sin that remains it will eventually grow and become greater than the original amount. It will turn into pride and prevent us from becoming all that God wants us to become. It is so important to rid yourself of all leaven (sin) and start afresh with new, pure dough. A dough that is sanctified, cleansed and redeemed. This purification can only happen through the Passover Lamb. Instructions for the removing the leaven are found in Exodus 12:15, 18-20, 34, 39, Exodus 13:6-7.  The New Testament is full of passages talking about the importance of ridding yourself from any form of sin. Here are a few: 1 Corinthians 5:6-8, Romans 6:5-7, Ephesians 4:21-23 and Colossians 3:1-10.

The second and most important part of preparation was the choosing and killing of the Passover lamb. God was very specific in how this sacrifice was to be carried out. The lamb had to meet certain qualifications.

  • First, it was chosen. Exodus 12:3 (Just like Jesus who was chosen in John 3:16.)
  • Second, it couldn’t be just any lamb that they had. It had to have no defects, spots or blemish, Exodus 12:5 and Deuteronomy 15:21. In the New Testament we learn that Jesus was the only one perfect in all ways, Hebrew 4:15 and 1 Peter 1:18-19.
  • Third, no bones on the lamb were to be broken during the killing and sacrifice, Exodus 12:46 and Numbers 9:12. When Jesus was crucified, His bones were also not broken, John 19:36-37.
  • Fourth, the blood was to be placed on the doorpost of their homes in a specific pattern, Exodus 12:7, 21-22. The pattern went across the top and then down in a cross formation to either side. Today we are to have the blood of Jesus, the blood shed on the cross, on the doorposts of our hearts to save us from death, Romans 10:8-10.

Another neat tradition that the Jews added to Passover through the years was Elijah’s Cup.  They knew that God had promised to send a Savior to the world to deliver His people, just as He had delivered them from Egypt long ago.  Since Elijah had ascended into heaven without dying, they knew that he would have some part to play in the future…either as the Messiah or as the person who announces the Messiah.  As part of Passover they would fill several cups with wine (more on that in another post).  Each cup would remind them of a blessing from God.  At each Passover table, there was a single cup that was never touched, and that was Elijah’s cup.  They set a place at their table where no one would sit in hopes that Elijah would come that night to announce that the Messiah was here. They even would have their kids run to the front door and open it, hoping that Elijah would be standing there so they could invite him in.  Year after year at millions of tables, Elijah’s cup is ready and waiting.  What the Jews missed so long ago was that when Jesus took that cup on the last Passover night and blessed it, He was showing them that their wait was over!

These three symbols provide so much meaning to the Passover ceremony.  As you prepare for Passover, impress on your kids and your own hearts these lessons:

  • Diligently work to remove all sin.  Every speck!
  • Jesus saved us from death.  He allows us to conquer that unavoidable fate.
  • Communion reminds us that Jesus is the Messiah, who, like Moses, will lead us to freedom!

 Other Resources/Works Cited:

Jews For Jesus has a lot of information and books/DVDs you can purchase.  We used their products to learn about all of these things!

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