A Simplified Christian Passover Guide From A Messianic-Pentecostal Perspective

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            There is no shortage of Passover Haggadahs (guides with the liturgy for hosting a Passover Seder) available, including many great Messianic Jewish and Christian ones. So why create another? Simple: because I believe in keeping things simple and biblical. This is not a haggadah for a Passover Seder so much as it is a guide to host a more simplified family Passover celebration with the key points we find in The Bible regarding the Holy Feast. Most haggadahs and Seders are filled with extra-biblical Jewish traditions and at least one element, the egg, is suggested by some to be of pagan origin (for example, this is made mention of in a Messianic Passover guide titled Behold The Lamb: A Scripture-Based Modern, Messianic Pesach Memorial ‘Avodah put out by Perfect Word Ministries). The modern Seder also utilizes a lamb shank bone because of a belief that without a Temple in Jerusalem one cannot have a Passover lamb. There was no Temple (or Tabernacle) during the first Passover in Exodus 12; the Israelites had not even departed Egypt yet.

            The purpose of this simple guide is an attempt to cut out all the unnecessary liturgy and tradition and stick to what is supported by Scripture. For example, a traditional Seder has four questions for a child to ask, but when you read the record in Exodus 12 there is only one question listed (verse 26), so that is the only question included in this guide. On the other hand, some might argue that the four cups is an extra-biblical tradition, but I believe the Gospel record of Yeshua’s Passover supports it, at least vaguely, therefore the four cups are included in this guide. This guide is great for anyone who wants to cut out a lot of traditions not found in The Bible, as well as for those celebrating Passover for the first time and are confused by all the details of a standard haggadah or those with small children that have short attention spans.

            In my house we go through this guide prior to serving the meal. However, you should do whatever works best for your family and specific needs. One thing to note is that Passover is the only place in The Bible that specifically commands us on what to eat. Every other instruction regarding food either tells us what we are prohibited from eating or what we are permitted to eat. But during Passover we are specifically commanded to eat lamb/goat prepared with bitter herbs and matzot (unleavened bread). I guess this poses a problem for Genesis 1:29 vegetarians who apparently don’t believe anything else The Bible says regarding food (so far as I know, this is primarily an issue of doctrine among the Seventh Day Adventists). So, if it is your desire to fully keep the commandment of Passover, be sure to prepare lamb or goat with bitter herbs and unleavened bread.

            I also want to note that leaven does not necessarily mean “without yeast” as many claim. One tradition many follow for Passover is to “rid the home of yeast” going as far as intensely cleaning every corner of the house. This is an exercise in futility as yeast in in the air we breath, you literally cannot get rid of it. Going to this extreme, I believe, takes much away from the purpose of a Feast of Yahweh, which should never be burdensome on the Believer. Simply discarding all leavened bread in your home prior to Passover should be considered sufficient. All indications are that the Israelites had no means of preparing bread for the exodus without yeast, but merely that they prepared it in haste not giving it time to rise. That’s what unleavened bread really is, bread that has not risen. I use traditional kosher for Passover matzot from Israel for the service outlined below, but for the meal that follows and for the weeklong Feast of Unleavened Bread beginning the day after the Passover celebration I will also use flat breads that sometimes, depending on what I can find at the local grocery stores, do contain yeast but were not allow to rise in baking. A full teaching on this issue will take more time than this guide will allow. Ultimately, what you decide is acceptable in fulfillment of the commandment to eat unleavened bread for Passover and the weeklong Feast of Unleavened Bread is a matter of your personal choice and, perhaps, convictions.

 

            With that, let me share with you my simplified guide for a family Passover celebration.

Beginning Of The Passover Service

Guide 1            The table should be set with each participant having a plate with a kosher for Passover matzot and bitter herbs (traditionally horseradish or a romaine lettuce leaf is used, depending on personal preference) and four cups per participant each containing wine or grape juice. The third cup should contain a 50/50 mix of room temperature water and wine/juice (you’ll understand this when you get to this part of the service).

(Note: I do believe and teach against the consumption of alcoholic beverages, but not everyone does and this again is based on personal preference and convictions.)

 

Can We Keep the Passover?

(Read By The Host/Facilitator/Head Of Household)

[adapted from Do This in Remembrance of Me Passover Haggadah for Disciples of the Messiah Yeshua by TorahResource]

“But the person who is clean and not away on a journey, yet neglects to celebrate Passover, that soul shall be cut off from his people because that person did not present Adonai’s offering at the appointed time. That man will bear his sin. ~Numbers 9:13 (TLV)

The Torah requires three main elements in observing the Passover:

1) A Passover lamb slaughtered and roasted with bitter herbs,
2) Abstaining from eating leaven throughout the festival (eating unleavened bread during Passover)
3) Observing the two Sabbaths of the festival.

With the destruction of the temple in 70 AD, the ability to sacrifice the Passover lamb was lost. Does this mean we are not able to truly keep this festival?

For non-believers this feast is impossible to observe, as there is no lamb present at the table. But for believers in the Messiah Yeshua, we are able to observe this festival in its entirety. Paul writes:

Get rid of the old hametz, so you may be a new batch, just as you are unleavened—for Messiah, our Passover Lamb, has been sacrificed. Therefore let us celebrate the feast not with old hametz, the hametz of malice and wickedness, but with unleavened bread—the matzah of sincerity and truth.
~1 Corinthians 5:7-8 (TLV)

Yeshua is our Passover lamb, and the saving merit of His atoning sacrifice is continually presented in the heavenly tabernacle!

Now on the one hand, many have become kohanim, who through death are prevented from continuing in office. But on the other hand, the One who does remain forever has a permanent priesthood. Therefore He is also able to save completely those who draw near to God through Him, always living to make intercession for them.
~Hebrews 7:23–25 (TLV)

What is more, our Passover lamb is present at this very table. As Yeshua stated:

And remember! I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”
~Matthew 28:20 (TLV)

Three Witnesses To Passover

(Read By The Host/Facilitator/Head Of Household)

Guide 2We are told by three of the most prominent men in the entire Bible to keep Passover as a remembrance.

MOSES – Moses said to the people, “Remember this day, on which you came out from Egypt, out of the house of bondage. For by a strong hand Adonai brought you out from this place. No hametz may be eaten.”
~Exodus 13:3 (TLV)

YESHUA/JESUS – And when He [Yeshua] had taken matzah and offered the bracha, He broke it and gave it to them, saying, “This is My body, given for you. Do this in memory of Me.” In the same way, He took the cup after the meal, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in My blood, which is poured out for you.”
~Luke 22:19-20 (TLV)

APOSTLE PAUL – Get rid of the old hametz, so you may be a new batch, just as you are unleavened—for Messiah, our Passover Lamb, has been sacrificed. Therefore let us celebrate the feast not with old hametz, the hametz of malice and wickedness, but with unleavened bread—the matzah of sincerity and truth.
~1 Corinthians 5:7-8 (TLV)

Whether you believe dominance should be placed on God’s Torah, the Gospels, the Post-Gospel “New Testament”, or The Bible as a whole you cannot escape the fact that all of these segments of Scripture tell us, through the most important figure in each of them, to keep Passover as a memorial.

Opening Blessing

Guide 3The Facilitator (head of household, typically the man of the house) will recite the following blessing over the Passover service:

Blessed are you, Yahweh our God, King of the universe, who has chosen us from among all people, and raised us above all tongues, and made us holy through His Torah. And you, Yahweh our God, have given us in love and holy convocation, commemorating the departure from Egypt. For you have chosen us and sanctified us from all the nations, and you have given us as a heritage Your holy Shabbat and Feasts in love and favor, in happiness and joy. Blessed are you, Yahweh, who sanctifies the Shabbat and Israel and the Festival Seasons.

Lighting The Passover Candles

The Woman of the House prepares to light the candles of the Passover Table and recites the following blessing:

Blessed are you, Yahweh our God, King of the universe, who has sanctified us through faith in Yeshua the Messiah, the Light of the world, and in His name we kindle the Passover lights.

Light the candles.

The Passover Story (Exodus 12, TLV)

Guide 4Oldest Child (or other designated participant) asks: What does this ceremony mean to you?

Facilitator replies: Exodus 12 says – Now Adonai spoke to Moses and Aaron in the land of Egypt saying, “This month will mark the beginning of months for you; it is to be the first month of the year for you. Tell all the congregation of Israel that on the tenth day of this month, each man is to take a lamb for his family one lamb for the household. But if the household is too small for a lamb, then he and his nearest neighbor are to take one according to the number of the people. According to each person eating, you are to make your count for the lamb. Your lamb is to be without blemish, a year old male. You may take it from the sheep or from the goats. You must watch over it until the fourteenth day of the same month. Then the whole assembly of the congregation of Israel is to slaughter it at twilight. They are to take the blood and put it on the two doorposts and on the crossbeam of the houses where they will eat it. They are to eat the meat that night, roasted over a fire. With matzot and bitter herbs they are to eat it. Do not eat any of it raw or boiled with water, but only roasted with fire—its head with its legs and its innards. So let nothing of it remain until the morning. Whatever remains until the morning you are to burn with fire. Also you are to eat it this way: with your loins girded, your shoes on your feet and your staff in your hand. You are to eat it in haste. It is Adonai’s Passover.

“For I will go through the land of Egypt on that night and strike down every firstborn, both men and animals, and I will execute judgments against all the gods of Egypt. I am Adonai. The blood will be a sign for you on the houses where you are. When I see the blood, I will pass over you. So there will be no plague among you to destroy you when I strike the land of Egypt.

This day is to be a memorial for you. You are to keep it as a feast to Adonai. Throughout your generations you are to keep it as an eternal ordinance. For seven days you are to eat matzot, but on the first day you must remove hametz from your houses, for whoever eats hametz from the first day until the seventh day, that soul will be cut off from Israel. The first day is to be a holy assembly for you as well as the seventh day. No manner of work is to be done on those days, except what is to be eaten by every person—that alone may be prepared by you. So you are to observe the Feast of Matzot, for on this very same day have I brought your ranks out of the land of Egypt. Therefore you are to observe this day throughout your generations as an eternal ordinance.

During the first month in the evening of the fourteenth day of the month, you are to eat matzot, until the evening of the twenty-first day of the month. For seven days no hametz is to be found in your houses, for whoever eats hametz, that soul will be cut off from the congregation of Israel, whether he is an outsider or one who is born in the land. You are to eat no hametz; in all your houses you are to eat matzot.”

Then Moses called for all the elders of Israel and said to them, “Go, select lambs for your families and slaughter the Passover lamb. You are to take a bundle of hyssop, dip it in the blood that is in the basin, and apply it to the crossbeam and two doorposts with the blood from the basin. None of you may go out the door of his house until morning. Adonai will pass through to strike down the Egyptians, but when He sees the blood on the crossbeam and the two doorposts, Adonai will pass over that door, and will not allow the destroyer to come into your houses to strike you down. Also you are to observe this event as an eternal ordinance, for you and your children.

“When you come into the land which Adonai will give you as He has promised, you are to keep this ceremony. Now when it happens that your children ask you, ‘What does this ceremony mean to you?’ You are to say, ‘It is the sacrifice of Adonai’s Passover, because He passed over the houses of Bnei-Yisrael in Egypt, when He struck down the Egyptians, but spared our households.’” So the people bowed their heads and worshipped.

Then Bnei-Yisrael went and did it. They did just as Adonai had commanded Moses and Aaron. So it came about at midnight that Adonai struck down all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, from the firstborn of Pharaoh sitting on his throne to the firstborn of the captive who was in the dungeon, and all the firstborn cattle.

Then Pharaoh rose up in the night, he and all his servants and all the Egyptians, and there was loud wailing in Egypt. For there was not a house where someone was not dead. So he called for Moses and Aaron at night and said, “Rise up, go out from my people, both you and Bnei-Yisrael, go, serve Adonai as you have said. Take your flocks and your herds, as you said, and be gone! But bless me, too.”

Now the Egyptians urged the people, sending them out of the land quickly, for they thought, “We will all be dead!” So the people took their dough before it was leavened, with their kneading bowls bound up in their clothes on their shoulders. So Bnei-Yisrael acted according to the word of Moses. They asked the Egyptians for articles of silver and gold, and for clothing. Adonai gave the people favor in the eyes of the Egyptians and let them have what they asked for. So they plundered the Egyptians.

Then Bnei-Yisrael journeyed from Rameses to Succoth, about 600,000 men on foot, as well as children. Also a mixed multitude went up with them, along with the flocks, herds and heavy livestock. They had baked matzot cakes from the dough that they brought out of Egypt. It had no hametz, because they were thrust out of Egypt and could not delay, so they had not made provisions for themselves.

Now the time that Bnei-Yisrael lived in Egypt was 430 years. So it happened at the end of 430 years, to the very day, that all the armies of Adonai went out from the land of Egypt. It was a night of watching for Adonai to bring them out of the land of Egypt. This same night is a night of vigil for Adonai, for all Bnei-Yisrael throughout their generations.

Then Adonai said to Moses and Aaron, “This is the ordinance of the Passover. No foreigner may eat it, but every man’s servant that is bought for money, after you have circumcised him, may eat it. Nor should a visitor or hired servant eat it. It is to be eaten inside a single house. You are not to carry the meat out of the house, nor are you to break any of its bones. All the congregation of Israel must keep it. But if an outsider dwells with you, who would keep the Passover for Adonai, all his males must be circumcised. Then let him draw near and keep it. He will be like one who is native to the land. But no uncircumcised person may eat from it. The same Torah applies to the native as well as the outsider who dwells among you.”

So all Bnei-Yisrael did so. They did just as Adonai commanded Moses and Aaron. It was on that very day that Adonai brought Bnei-Yisrael out of the land of Egypt as armies.

The Cup Of Consecration

Cup 1Facilitator says: The first cup represents God’s statement “I will bring you out.” God has called us and set us apart for His holy service. We are His children and He is our God.

(Reading from The Torah Blessing by Pastor Larry Huch)

The first cup is to remind us that through the blood of Yeshua*, our Passover Lamb, our sins have been washed away. “Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be white as snow” (Isaiah 1:18). We cannot let the devil condemn us and tell us we aren’t worthy because, although we may have been sinners, we are not sinners any longer but children of the living God.

Facilitator recites the following blessing over the first cup:

Blessed are you, Yahweh our God, King of the Universe, Creator of the fruit of the vine.

Blessed are you, Yahweh our God, Ruler of the world, who chose us out of all the people and selected us over all the nations, and made us holy through His Torah. Lovingly, Yahweh our God, you have given us Sabbath days for rest and Feast days for joy, this Feast of Passover, anniversary of our freedom, lovingly, a holy assembly, honoring our departure from Egypt: for you have chosen us and made us holier than other people, and caused us to inherit the Sabbath and your holy Feasts, you give us lovingly and kindly with happiness and joy. Blessed are you, Yahweh our God, Who made holy the Sabbath, the people of Israel, and the Feasts.

All take and drink from the first cup.

The Bitter Herbs

Facilitator says: Scripture commands us to celebrate the Passover by eating the lamb with bitter herbs. This reminds us of the suffering and persecution inflicted on Israel under Egyptian bondage. Just as our people worked in slavery with a bitter taste in their mouth and tears in their eyes, so too we take these bitter herbs to honor their suffering.

All take and eat the bitter herbs.

The Cup Of Salvation

Cup 2Facilitator says: The second cup remembers God’s words “I will deliver you from slavery, I will free you from bondage.” In the days of Moses this cup remembers God’s deliverance of His people from Egyptian bondage. Today this cup also represents our deliverance from the bondage of sin—the transgression of Torah (1 John 3:4)—through faith in Yeshua our Messiah.

These are the plagues that God inflicted on the Egyptians: Blood, Frogs, Vermin, Flies, Pestilence, Boils, Hail, Locusts, Darkness, and Death of the First-Born Sons.

(Reading from Letters To The Church by Francis Chan)

There are millions of people in our country who call themselves Christians because they believe the Christian life is about admiring Christ’s example, not realizing it is a call to follow it. If they really understood this, the numbers would drop drastically. The New Testament could not be clearer: we are not just to believe in His crucifixion; we are to be crucified with Christ.

If you only listened to the voice of Yeshua*, read only the words that came out of His mouth, you would have a very clear understanding of what He requires of His followers. If you listened only to modern preachers and writers, you would have a completely different understanding of what it means to follow Yeshua*. Could there be a more catastrophic problem than this?

There are millions of men and women who have been taught that they can become Christians and it will cost them nothing. And they believe it! There are even some who have the audacity to teach that life will get better once people pray a prayer and ask Yeshua* into their hearts. Yeshua* taught the exact opposite.

John 4:22 (TLV) says: “You worship what you do not know; we worship what we know, for salvation is from the Jews.” We are reminded of this in following our Messiah in keeping The Passover.

Facilitator recites the following blessing over the second cup:

Blessed are you, Yahweh our God, King of the Universe, Creator of the fruit of the vine.

All take and drink from the second cup.

The Cup Of Redemption

Cup 3Facilitator says: The third cup remembers God’s words “I will redeem you.” It is believed that it was this third cup that Yeshua took, as recorded in Luke 22:20, and said, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which is poured out for you.” In this third cup, the cup of redemption, is the fruit of the vine. Tradition says that in this cup the wine is mixed with warm water representing the blood and water that poured out of the body of our Messiah as He laid down His life for our redemption.

 

(Reading from God’s End Time Calendar by Pastor Rod Parsley)

I want to pause for a moment here and examine an important aspect of the Cup of Redemption. In the record of the teachings from the ancient Rabbis, which is called the Mishnah, we are told “the Passover wine was said to be red and was mixed with warm water.”

Ask a rabbi why wine and warm water are mixed, and he will tell you that this mixture of blood and water produces a closer representation of the blood of the Passover Lamb. This ancient tradition begs us to remember that tragic day when the perfect and precious Lamb of God was sacrificed.

Yeshua had hung on that rugged cross for six excruciating hours. He had just uttered the sacred words, “It is finished,” and Miriam, His mother, who watched Him take His first breath, wept as He exhaled His last, thus completing His Father’s master plan to redeem this cursed planet and the souls of men.

We are told in John 19:33-34 that when the Roman soldiers approached the body of Yeshua* on the cross, they saw that He was dead already, so they did not break His legs. But one of the soldiers pierced His side with a spear and out poured blood and water.

Think of it: through all of the centuries, God’s covenant people drank a ceremonial cup of wine mixed with water and called it a “Cup of Redemption,” foreshadowing what they could never have conceived—that Yeshua, the sinless Lamb of God, the final Passover sacrifice, would pour out His blood mixed with water on the cross of Calvary.

Facilitator recites the following blessing over the third cup:

Blessed are you, Yahweh our God, King of the Universe, Creator of the fruit of the vine.

Blessed are you, Yeshua our Messiah, who laid down your life, shedding blood and water, for our redemption.

All take and drink from the third cup.

The Matzo

Guide 5Facilitator says: Scripture says that when the people were fleeing Egypt that they had to move quickly and were unable to allow their bread to leaven while baking it. The matzo—unleavened bread—is a remembrance of the rapid departure from Egypt.

When Yeshua celebrated His final Passover with His disciples, he took the bread and the fourth cup and recited the following:

Now while they were eating, Yeshua took matzah; and after He offered the bracha, He broke and gave to the disciples and said, “Take, eat; this is My body.”
~Matthew 26:26 (TLV)

Facilitator recites the following blessing over the bread:

Blessed are you, Yahweh our God, King of the universe, who brings forth bread from the Earth.

All take and eat of the bread.

The Cup Of Praise

Cup 4Facilitator says: The final cup is given for us to praise our God for His deliverance. With this final cup we lift up praise to our God for all that He has done and all that He will do for us. He is our God, and we are His people.

(Reading from The Incomplete Church by Sid Roth)

The fourth cup that we drink at the Passover meal is called “the cup of praise.” Yeshua did not drink this cup on earth. After the third cup He said, “But I say to you, I will not drink of this fruit of the vine from now on until that day when I drink it new with you in My Father’s kingdom” (Matt. 26:29). That day will come when the Church, the Bride, the One New Man, is caught up in the air to be with Yeshua (see 1 Thess. 4:16-17). We will share with Him in the marriage supper of the Lamb—a heavenly Passover meal (see Rev. 19:7-9).

Continuing to look to Yeshua’s final Passover before laying His life down for us, Scripture says:

And He took a cup; and after giving thanks, He gave to them, saying, “Drink from it, all of you; for this is My blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the removal of sins.”
~Matthew 26:27-28 (TLV)

Facilitator recites the following blessing over the fourth cup:

Blessed are you, Yahweh our God, King of the Universe, Creator of the fruit of the vine.

All take and drink from the fourth cup.

This concludes the Passover memorial observance, done in remembrance of the exodus of God’s people from Egyptian slavery and in memory of Yeshua our Passover Lamb. At this point you can serve the Passover meal, which again according to the commandment should include lamb/goat meat prepared with bitter herbs.

*In some of the readings the name “Jesus” used in the original work cited has been changed to “Yeshua” for the purposes of this guide.

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