Passover and Beyond
Most Christians know that there is somewhat of a correlation between the Passover of the Old Testament and Communion in the New Testament.
Passover – Instituted when God was about to deliver Israel out of Egyptian bondage.
Communion – Instituted when God was about to deliver us from the bondage of sin.
Passover – A lamb without blemish was slain and sacrificed.
Communion – Jesus was identified as “the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.”
Passover – They were spared from death when they applied the blood to the door frames.
Communion – We are saved from the penalty of sin when we apply the blood by faith.
1 Corinthians 5:7
…For indeed Christ, our Passover, was sacrificed for us.
There are situations like this where the Old Testament illustrates things that are later fulfilled in the New Testament. These are called types and shadows. These were “object lessons” that prophetically foreshadowed future realities.
We need to be careful, though, not to try to read some specific spiritual or prophetic meaning into every minute detail of things brought out in the Old Testament. When this is done, a wide array of fanciful interpretations appear. Consider the following illustration:
A “Peanuts” cartoon showed various characters looking at a cloud formation and identifying what they saw. Lucy imagined the bust—a head and shoulders image of Rembrandt. Linus thought he saw the outline of the map of Nova Scotia. Charlie Brown, obviously intimidated by their descriptions, said, “I was gonna say I saw a horsey and a duckey.”
Some of the points in this message have very direct New Testament parallels. In other areas, something may very loosely remind us of something or resemble something else in the New Testament, but we are not going to be dogmatic about it or try to read some mysterious, hidden meaning into it.
Because our Communion seems to have certain parallels with the Jewish Passover, and because we focus so much on Communion, Christians sometimes tend to forget that Passover was just one of several feasts instituted by God and celebrated by God’s Covenant people.
As a matter of fact, when God instituted Passover in the Old Testament, He rearranged their entire calendar so that Passover would be at the beginning of their calendar. We want to not only look at Passover, but we want to see what’s beyond Passover.
When Passover was originally instituted, it occurred in the fourth month of the year, but God saw it as such an outstanding event that God changed the entire calendar.
“This month shall be your beginning of months; it shall be the first month of the year to you.”
When we accept Christ as our Passover, God starts a new calendar with us also. We become a new creation, and old things pass away (2 Corinthians 5:17).
Passover then occurred right at the beginning of their year, but it was not the only feast they celebrated. It initiated a chain of events. It marked the beginning of a sequence of other feasts. You can read about this in Leviticus 23.
Illustration from the TV game show, “Let’s Make a Deal”
Monte Hall: “Jay, tell them what’s behind door #1.”
Jay: “Well Monte, they have just won this beautiful new travel trailer…”
And that’s not all… They’ll be pulling their travel trailer with this new Ford pick-up truck… and to help them put gas in their truck, we’re throwing in $1,000 cash. And if they get tired of traveling cross-country, maybe they’ll enjoy an all-expense paid trip for two to Hawaii…”
At first, it just looked like there was only one prize involved, but it turned out that the first prize was only the beginning of others that were to come.
In studying the Bible, we discover that when the Jews came to Jerusalem to celebrate the Passover, there were two other feasts that were celebrated in conjunction with Passover.
The Feast of the Unleavened Bread
This feast was closely connected to Passover.
Passover occurred on one day. The Feast of Unleavened Bread began the next day and lasted for seven days.
During this time, no Jew was to eat any bread with yeast in it, and no one was to even have even a trace of yeast in their home.
The Jews had what was called a day of preparation:
“This day involved a great time of spring-cleaning. No leaven was allowed within their dwellings. It meant more than not eating leaven. It was a matter of complete separation.
This, therefore meant a great deal of activity for the woman. Everything in the house had to be cleansed thoroughly. The ceilings and walls were washed, floors and cupboards were scrubbed, corners were scoured, and every piece of furniture cleaned. All the cooking utensils were boiled in water and put away, while special utensils and ovens were brought into use, things that had never been contaminated by leaven in the course of the year. So thoroughly was this work done that the woman would have a pointed implement with which she would scrape through every crack or joint, impression or corner, any spot where, during the year, a crumb of bread containing leaven might have settled. The law was that no leaven should remain anywhere within their dwellings. They carried out the law strictly to the letter.”
(Thus Shalt Thou Serve. C.W. Slemming, Christian Literature Crusade, page 95).
1 Corinthians 5:6-8
Your glorying is not good. Do you not know that a little leaven leavens the whole lump? Therefore purge out the old leaven, that you may be a new lump, since you truly are unleavened. For indeed Christ, our Passover, was sacrificed for us. Therefore let us keep the feast, not with old leaven, nor with the leaven of malice and wickedness, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.
Leaven (or yeast) is used in the Bible to illustrate the nature and influence of sin. Just like a little yeast mixed in with dough will work its way through and influence the whole loaf, even so, sin will work its way through and influence the church.
God’s word is simply this:
- Cleanse yourself!
- Remove sin and impurities from your life!
- If something in your life is displeasing to God, get rid of it!
- Be holy!
- Live holy!
- Be sanctified!
The Feast of Firstfruits
Immediately on the heels of the Feast of Unleavened Bread came the Feast of Firstfruits.
Men would go out to the fields of ripening grain with their sickles and cut down a certain amount of barley and bundle it up into a sheaf.
No one could partake of the harvest until the firstfruits had been offered unto the Lord.
God wanted the firstfruits then and he wants the firstfruits now!
Then these men, with the priests and elders, would march in procession up to the temple with much rejoicing. They would turn their sheaf of barley in to the priest who would wave it back and forth before the Lord as a wave offering.
Men were giving thanks for the harvest before it was ever harvested.
1 Corinthians 15:20
But now Christ is risen from the dead, and has become the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep.
Jesus was the corn of wheat that fell into the ground and died, that He might spring up again and have much fruit (see John 12:24)!
When a man went out to the field and cut down a sheaf of barley, a small vacant spot was left behind. When the Lord rose from the dead, He left behind Him a small vacant spot, which still remains as a reminder of His resurrection – it is an empty tomb.
Christ the firstfruits offered Himself in consecration unto God as a token of the rest of the harvest that was to follow Him.
We, in turn, offer the firstfruits of our lives to God as token that everything we are and everything we have belongs to Him.
Passover speaks of salvation!
Unleavened bread speaks of sanctification!
Firstfruits speaks of resurrection and consecration!
The Feast of Pentecost
After Firstfruits, the harvesting began – and it took seven weeks to do the harvesting.
Just as there was a feast to acknowledge firstfruits, there was also a feast to celebrate the full harvest “coming home.”
At Firstfruits, a sheaf of barley which contained hundreds of separate grains of corn was offered up.
At Pentecost (so called because it is 50 days after Passover), two complete loaves were waved.
A loaf of bread consisted of:
- grains of corn ground into flour
- mixed with oil
- baked in an oven
The result: The separate identities were consolidated into a oneness.
On the Day of Pentecost (in the Book of Acts), those once feisty, argumentative disciples were all gathered as one – they were in unity. God mixed in the oil and the fire of the Holy Ghost and they emerged on the world scene as “The Church.”
After Pentecost, several months went by before there would be three more feasts be held close together.
The Feast of Trumpets
At the beginning of the seventh month, trumpets were blown. Shortly thereafter, two other feasts began. But what about the trumpets?
Trumpets were ways of communicating.
They called people together…to assemble
They proclaimed when it was time to advance…to move on
They sounded when it was time for war
They sometimes called people to worship
They also communicated freedom and emancipation
I’m not saying this is all that was being alluded to in the Old Testament Feast of Trumpets, but I do know that the church has a proclamation to make to the world!
They had two trumpets!
We have two testaments!
The trumpets were made of silver. In the Old Testament, silver often speaks of redemption.
The two trumpets were each made of one piece of hammered silver. Some have speculated that this speaks of the unity, the oneness, and the harmony of the Word of God. The two testaments, the Old and New Testament exhibit a tremendous and supernatural harmony in the essence of their message.
The message of the two testaments is none other than the Lord Jesus Christ! Jesus and His redemptive work is the theme of the word of God from cover to cover.
In Oral Roberts’ classic sermon, The Fourth Man, and later in his book, Christ in Every Book of the Bible, he shared the following insights (modified slightly) about Jesus in the Bible:
In Genesis, He is the Seed of Woman.
In Exodus, He is the Passover Lamb.
In Leviticus, He is our High Priest.
In Numbers, He is the Pillar of Cloud by Day and the Fire by Night.
In Deuteronomy, He is the Prophet like unto Moses.
In Joshua, He is the Captain of our Salvation.
In Judges, He is our Judge and our Lawgiver.
In Ruth, He is our Kinsman-Redeemer.
In 1st and 2nd Samuel, He is our Trusted Prophet.
In Kings and Chronicles, He is our Reigning King.
In Ezra, He is our Faithful Scribe.
In Nehemiah, He is the Rebuilder of the Broken Walls of our Shattered Lives.
In Esther, He is our Mordecai.
In Job, He is our Ever-Living Redeemer.
In Psalms, He is the Lord our Shepherd.
In Proverbs and Ecclesiastes, He is our Wisdom
In Song of Solomon, He is our Lover and our Bridegroom.
In Isaiah, He is the Prince of Peace.
In Jeremiah and Lamentations, He is the Weeping Prophet.
In Ezekiel, He is the wonderful four-faced man.
In Daniel, He is the Fourth Man in the Fiery Furnace.
In Hosea, He is the Eternal Husband, forever married to the Backslider.
In Joel, He is the Baptizer in the Holy Spirit.
In Amos, He is our Burden-Bearer.
In Obadiah, He is our Savior.
In Jonah, He is the Great Foreign Missionary.
In Micah, He is the Messenger with Beautiful Feet.
In Nahum, He is our Avenger.
In Habakkuk, He is the Evangelist pleading for Revival.
In Zephaniah, He is the Lord Mighty to Save.
In Haggai, He is the Restorer of the Lost Heritage.
In Zechariah, He is the Fountain Opened to the House of David for the cleansing of sin and uncleanness.
In Malachi, He is the Sun of Righteousness Rising with Healing in His Wings.
In Matthew, He is the Messiah.
In Mark, He is the Wonder-Worker.
In Luke, He is the Son of Man.
In John, He is the Son of God.
In Acts, He is the Resurrected Lord continuing His Work on Earth through the Holy Spirit.
In Romans, He is the Justifier.
In 1st & 2nd Corinthians, He is the Sanctifier.
In Galatians, He is the Redeemer from the Curse of the Law.
In Ephesians, He is the Christ of Unsearchable Riches.
In Philippians, He is the God who supplies all of our needs.
In Colossians, He is the Fulness of the Godhead dwelling bodily.
In 1st & 2nd Thessalonians, He is our Soon Coming King.
In 1st & 2nd Timothy, He is the Mediator Between God and Man.
In Titus, He is the Faithful Pastor.
In Philemon, He is the Friend of the Oppressed.
In Hebrews, He is the One Who Shed the Blood of the New Covenant.
In James, He is the Lord Who raises up the Sick.
In 1st & 2nd Peter, He is the Lord Who shall soon appear.
In 1st, 2nd, & 3rd John, He is Love
In Jude, He is the Lord coming with ten thousands of Saints.
In Revelation, He is our King of Kings and Lord of Lords.
Others may ascribe other meanings to the trumpets, but I do know that we’ve been given the assignment of proclamation today, and our job is to proclaim Jesus!
The Day of Atonement
An entire message could easily be devoted to this special event.
Like Passover, sacrificial blood is shed on behalf of the people, but on this day the people watch as the High Priest takes that blood into the Holy of Holies to make atonement for the sins of the people.
In that day, it was only a temporary covering – that’s why their High Priest had to do the same thing year after year. But we have something far better:
Hebrews 9:11-12, 24
But Christ came as High Priest of the good things to come, with the greater and more perfect tabernacle not made with hands, that is, not of this creation. Not with the blood of goats and calves, but with His own blood He entered the Most Holy Place once for all, having obtained eternal redemption. For Christ has not entered the holy places made with hands, which are copies of the true, but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us…
The Feast of Tabernacles
Tabernacles (or Tents) was the most joyous of all the feasts. It was the end of summer. The work in the fields had finished. It was time to rest and relax. There was a seven day period where all of the Israelites were to erect and live in tents. It was to remind them of their journeying in the wilderness. When all of our work here is done, we have something to remind us that we were really just on a journey as well.
2 Corinthians 5:1-2
For we know that if our earthly house, this tent, is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. For in this we groan, earnestly desiring to be clothed with our habitation which is from heaven…
The idea here is that when we’re finished with this temporary tabernacle, we receive an eternal dwelling place.
We need to enjoy the journey, and we can reflect upon the fact that God has tabernacled with us and has been with us and has sheltered us.
But we also need to keep in mind how good our destination is and rejoice in the fact that God has prepared an eternal dwelling for us!
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me All the days of my life; And I will dwell in the house of the LORD Forever.
As wonderful as Passover was, the Jews could not stop there. They had to go on to other feasts:
- Unleavened Bread
As wonderful as Communion is, we cannot stop there. We must go on to the fullness of what God has for us:
- Empowerment of the Spirit
- Seeing Jesus in Heaven – knowing that He’s prepared a place for us
Dwelling in His Presence