Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Passover - should we celebrate this yearly?

Passover - should we re-instate this Jewish ceremony from the Exodus as a ceremony of Christianity? Timothy over at Gracehead thinks so - me I am not so sure - but I do believe I will throw this idea to the congregation. Here is some scriptural excerpts about the idea.

"The Bible specifies the yearly observance of the Passover, and history records its annual celebration as the practice of the early Church. Passover, as a memorial of Jesus’ death, is to be observed annually...just as all of the other annual festivals are to be kept once a year. Neither Jesus Christ nor the apostles indicated that we should change...any of God’s festivals. Following their example, we should observe the Passover at the beginning of the evening of the 14th day of the first month (Abib or Nisan) of the Hebrew calendar." (Timothy)

"During His last Passover with His disciples, Jesus explained that this celebration has significant implications for the future as well. In Matthew 26:29” (Timothy)

"Bible writers later explained that the annual Passover observance symbolized Christ. Paul referred to Christ as “our Passover” (1 Cor 5:7), and John recorded that John the Baptist recognized Christ as “the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!” (John 1:29). Jesus came not to destroy the Law but to fulfill (Matt. 5:17)! Only the laws found in ordinances were nailed to the cross of Christ (Eph. 2:15)." (Timothy)

"Paul told the Gentiles to keep Passover and how to keep it in 1 Cor. chapter 11, due to their lack of comprehension. The first-century congregation of Corinth did not understand the significance of the Passover. They observed it "in an unworthy manner," not "discerning the Lord's body" (verses 27 and 29); they did not comprehend its real meaning...Paul warned the Corinthians they could be "guilty of the body and blood of the Lord," and if they failed to properly judge themselves they would be "eat[ing] and drink[ing] judgment" to themselves (verses 27, 29). Paul took the Passover ceremony seriously. His warning makes it clear that Christians should not only observe what Christ commanded, but should understand the meaning of eating the bread and drinking the wine at the Passover service." (Timothy)

"It is vital that we understand the intent behind Jesus Christ's commands concerning the Passover. Christ said that unless we (symbolically) eat His flesh and drink His blood, we have no life in us (John 6:53). It is that important. Once each year, on the anniversary of the night on which one of Jesus' own disciples betrayed Him, Christians should recall and contemplate the meaning of Christ's death through the observance of the Passover service (1 Cor 11:26). Paul told the Corinthian members that "Christ, our Passover, was sacrificed for us" (1 Cor 5:7). The Passover service commemorates the death of Jesus Christ. By participating in the service, we personally proclaim the death of our Savior (1 Cor 11:26). We acknowledge that His dying paid the death penalty for us (Eph 5:2)." (Timothy)

My response: No debate...just obey and do? Whoa horsey...even the council of the early church discussed this idea in detail (Acts 15)...concerning the Law of Moses and Gentile faith.

What happened to be the problem in Acts 15? (1) circumcision and faith (v.1) (2) Observe the law of Moses (v.5) - which I have to believe the 7 celebrations come from.

Answer? (acts 15: 28-29) (1) "For it seemed good to the Holy Spirit and to us to lay upon you no greater burden than these essentials: (1) that you abstain from things sacrificed to idols and (2) from blood and (3) from things strangled and (4) from fornication; if you keep yourselves free from such things, you will do well. Farewell."

And these are all Peter, James, and John laid on Paul, Barnabas, and Silas to teach the Gentiles about the 'law of Moses'. Top that off, Paul questions the first mandate in his letters on the basis of the freedom of the believer.

So what do you the Passover? Or is this again some choppy biblical exegesis?


SocietyVs said...

Okay, here is my personal take and I think the idea is up for debate and here is why - context!!!

(1) Only Luke and Paul record this Passover event as something to be 'done in rememberance'. However, neither of them note when and how often - only that is has to be done.

(2) Scriptures from I Corinthians, John, Matthew, and Ephesians hardly make for a uniform idea (coming from 3 different writers). Since in context they may be making various points to the hearers of the letters or gospels.

(3) I Cor 11 seems to be making a point about eating the Lord's Supper or the Passover - but again never tells how often the Corinthians are doing this. However verses 27-29 seem to relate to verses 20-22 - in which the Corinthians were eating more than others and getting drunk - which is a disgrace to Paul.

(4) John 6:53 can be seen as 'symbolic' itself - in comparison with verse 35 (bread of life). Jesus seems to be talking symbolically about himself as the 'true bread of life' and not a literal eating and drinking of him is the point. The comparison is made with Moses and the manna. Or one could say literally eating the Lord's Supper means we will 'live forever' (vs. 58) - if we go literal. Verse 63 seems to mean the 'words Jesus speaks are spirit and they are life'. The literal translaton of this verse is quite gruesome.

(4) The actual original Passover forbid foreigners from partaking in the Passoever unless they were 'circumcised' first (see Exodus 12). In Acts 15 the disciples and some Pharisees discuss this whole idea. The Pharisee's in verse 5 want the Gentiles to observe the law of Moses. Both James and Peter go against this idea and support less laws upon the Gentiles. So much so they even mention Moses is preached in the synangogues in every city (vs. 21) - so if a Gentile is interested - they can partake (but it's not mandatory). Never is the festivals or ceremonies or the Jewish Law even an issue for the Gentiles - apparently it's burden the Jewish folk can barely bare (vs 10).

I think I am raising the questions that need to be raised on this it something we need to re-incorporate into our services? I guess I have no real problem with the idea (religious freedoms) but to almost demand this be 'law' for all churches - well this is not liberally following Christ anymore - it's adding a religious yolk upon the people that may not have constitution amongst early church leaders (for the Gentiles - which I am).

Jim Jordan said...

OK, if the blood of the lamb saved the Israelites from the wrath of God in Exodus 12, and pointed forward to the Messiah, then the Messiah comes along and provides the blood that will protect us not just one night but forever, why would you continue the practice of the old covenant? [Sorry about the run-on sentence].
It's kind of like celebrating your dog's 39th birthday. He'd be dead of course, so why do that?

Anonymous said...

In the denomination in which I was raised, we call the eating of bread that represents the flesh of Jesus and the drinking of wine that represents His blood, the Lord's Supper. For me, this is the same ordinance as the Passover except that it is done in remembrance of the shed blood of the Lamb of God. It also represents in an outward fashion the spiritual act of eating the flesh of Jesus and drinking His blood. This signifies that Jesus lives in us and it is through Him that we have eternal life.

It is interesting to note that the word Easter is a dirivitive of the name of the goddess that the O.T. refers to as the Queen of Heaven and that the holiday that most all of Christiandom celebrates as a very high holy day is actually more pagan than Christian. Matter of fact, we should celebrate the resurrection every day and there is no Biblical command that Christians celebrate Easter. The only Biblical ordinaces left us are that of Baptism upon confession of faith and the Lord's Supper which comemorates His death and the purchase made that frees us from the penalty of death.

Wouldn't it be more Biblical to celebrate the Passover at this time of year, in remembrance of what Jesus has done for us than to celebrate a pagan holiday and tack His Name on it?

Personally, I'm not much of a holiday person and I love Jesus in such a way that my love for Him increases every day but never because of a day being a holiday. I however, don't judge others to wish to celebrate one day over another. That is between each individual and God to decide.


HeIsSailing said...

Very interesting idea! I usually follow along more closely to these kinds of articles, but you have a LOT of scripture cited here, and time is short for me to follow all your logic.
I never thought of following Passover literally, but I have entertained the idea of celebrating it with Orthodox Jews (never did it though). It might be a good idea though. It would make a long Easter weekend, celebrate Passover on Friday/Saturday (first sabbath after first full moon after spring equinox) as the forshadowing, then celebrate Easter on Sunday (the Sunday after Passover) as the fulfillment.
I think you are onto something there - it would really have more meaning to me, and would teach others about why the Exodus feasts are important.

Timothy said...

Society, good point on number 4.
Here is the answer to that:

Only those Hebrews, who were ceremonially clean, who were circumcised, were allowed to partake of the Passover. Strangers were not allowed to eat of the Passover. In Joshua 5, Israel had to be circumcised before they observed the Passover at Gilgal.

And the Lord said unto Moses and Aaron, This is the ordinance of the Passover: There shall no stranger eat thereof. ~ Exodus 12:43

And when a stranger shall sojourn with thee, and will keep the Passover to the Lord, let all his males be circumcised, and then let him come near and keep it; and he shall be as one that is born in the land. For no uncircumcised person shall eat thereof. ~ Exodus 12:48

Note: The verses above state that only those, who were circumcised in the flesh, were allowed to participate in the Passover feast. However, because Jesus is the new Passover, we now keep it according to how He has taught us (Matthew 26:26-28). Christ did not teach that we must be circumcised in our flesh, but that we must be circumcised in our hearts (Romans 2:24). Jesus gave us this example by sharing the Last Supper with His disciples, who were circumcised in their flesh, but most importantly Passover is for those who are truly circumcised in their hearts. This is the true circumcision.
Therefore, observing Passover is not for unbelievers, but for believers only.

Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers. For what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? And what communion hath light with darkness? And what concord hath Christ with Belial? Or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel? And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? For ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them,; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people. Wherefore, come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean; and I will receive you. And will be a Father unto you, an dye shall be My sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty. ~ 2 Corinthians 6:14-18

Also, as we were once strangers (Gentiles), now we are grafted in by Christ. All who accept Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior are the same as the Jews, even to the point of being grafted into the place where the Jews of native descent once occupied, having been cut out because of their denial of Messiah Yeshua. So then, all those, who are covered in and drink of the blood of Jesus and eat His flesh, are Jews, having become adopted sons of Abraham, even sons of the Most High God by Christ. Amen.
Part 2: The Passover of the Old Testament (cont)

But now in Christ Jesus, ye who sometimes were far off are made nigh by the blood of Christ. ~ Ephesians 2:13

I am your God, and you are one of My chosen sons of the Gentiles, for the Gentiles, living in their midst, grafted into the Vine, of the branch of Levi, adopted son of Abraham. ~ God
[Excerpt from “Chosen by God” - Volume One - Letters from God and His Christ]

And if some of the branches be broken off, and thou, being a wild olive tree, were grafted in among them, and with them partakest of the root and fatness of the olive tree, boast not against the branches. But if thou boast, thou bearest not the root, but the root thee. Thou wilt say then, The branches were broken off, that I might be grafted in. Well, because of unbelief they were broken off, and thou standest by faith. Be not high-minded, but fear. ~ Romans 11:17-20


Passover involved purification and preparation of many things, but especially of the heart.
In the Old Testament Passover, purification rituals were required for all who partook of the Passover feast. But most importantly, we must “prepare our hearts to seek God” as Hezekiah prayed (verse below).

For they could not keep it (the Passover) at that time, because the priest had not sanctified themselves sufficiently, neither had the people gathered themselves together to Jerusalem...then they killed the Passover on the fourteenth day of the second month. And the priests and the Levites were ashamed, and sanctified themselves, and brought in the burnt offerings into the house of the Lord...for there were many in the congregation that were not sanctified. Therefore, the Levites had the charge of the killing of the Passovers for everyone that was not clean, to sanctify them unto the Lord. For a multitude of the people, even many of Ephraim, and Manasseh, Issachar, and Zebulun, had not cleansed themselves, yet did they eat the Passover otherwise than it was written. But Hezekiah prayed for them, saying, The good Lord pardon every one that prepareth his heart to seek God, the Lord God of his fathers, though he be not cleansed according to the purification of the sanctuary. And the Lord hearkened to Hezekiah, and healed the people...then the priests, the Levites, arose and blessed the people. And their voice was heard, and their prayer came up to his holy dwelling place, even unto heaven. ~ 2 Chronicles 30:3,15,17-20,27

For the priests and Levites were purified together, all of there were pure, and killed the Passover for all the children of captivity, and for their brethren the priests, and for themselves. And the children of Israel, which were come again out of captivity, and all such as had separated themselves unto them from the filthiness of the heathen of the land, to seek the Lord God of Israel, did eat, and kept the Feast of Unleavened Bread seven days with joy. For the Lord had made them joyful, and turned the heart of the king of Assyria unto them, to strengthen their hands in the work of the house of God, the God of Israel. Ezra 6:20-22

Note: In our acceptance of Jesus Christ’s sacrifice for our sins, is this part of Passover automatically fulfilled in us. He prepares us by His Spirit, gives us a new heart and purifies us by His blood.

SocietyVs said...

Actually Timothy I am quite unsure about the whole thing - but I do like the ideas of placing the festivals in the church to replace the current ones we use - as an understanding Jewish history tool (or for a better perspective of the Jewish roots in the NT). I think the church has lost this aspect and maybe does need to return to a better understanding of interpretation of the NT (which I find value in).