This is the third time I am coming to you. “By the testimony of two or three witnesses shall every word be established.”
~2 Corinthians 13:1 (TLV)
It is a biblical principle that traces its roots all the way back to Moses in the Torah. Deuteronomy 17:6 and 19:15 establish the principle of the two or three witnesses as being required for an accusation to stand. Yeshua reaffirms this in Matthew 18:16 where dealing with how to handle someone in the Body of Messiah who has sinned against you, saying to first approach him one-on-one in private and if he doesn’t listen to take two or three others with you to discuss the matter—a principle Christians would do good to revisit in an age where social media allows you to simply delete someone from your contact list when offended without even attempting to discuss it. Yeshua also uses this principle in John 8 where noting that He and His Father, Yahweh, testify together that He is the light of the world. Then we have Paul, not only in 2 Corinthians 13:1 but also in 1 Timothy 5:19, referring us back to this precept.
I find it interesting, as we approach another Passover season, that these same three men who declare in unison that every word be established on the testimony of two or three witnesses, their own numbers totaling three (Moses, Yeshua, and Paul), also make strikingly similar yet uniquely distinct statements regarding why we are to celebrate the biblical Feast of Passover (along with the associated Feasts of Unleavened Bread and First Fruits). So let’s take a look at these three witnesses and what they said regarding this matter.
Witness Number 1 – 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)
Notice the first words said by Moses here: Remember this day. He proceeds to remind the people that it is this day that God delivered His people from the hands of Egyptian bondage.
Moses may very well be the most important prophetic voice in the totality of the Tanakh—the Hebrew Bible that most Christians wrongly refer to as the “Old Testament” (The Bible was never intended to be divided into testaments, books, chapters, and verses, it is all God’s Word from cover to cover). Remember that Yeshua made the statement: “For if you were believing Moses, you would believe Me—because he wrote about Me” (John 5:46).
Considering that Moses wrote the Torah and that is the only known written work attributed to him, it stands to reason that the Torah was written about Yeshua. This is further emphasized in the opening words of John’s Gospel in saying in the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God … and the Word became flesh and tabernacle among us. At the time this was said there was no Christian Bible canon as we know it today. The statement clearly refers to the Torah as the “Word” in question with an added possibility that it referred to the whole of the Tanakh. Also, we have Yeshua’s statement that He is the way, the truth, and the life, a phrase that had already been established as a description of the Torah within the Jewish culture of the time.
So it is that this Moses, the man who wrote of Yeshua in penning the Torah, tells us to remember this day of Passover.
Perhaps you are reading this and of the inclination that Passover is “Old Testament” and part of whatever Christians believe has “passed away” with the establishment of the new covenant. Well, Moses is just one of three witnesses to keeping the Passover that we are looking at in this brief study.
Witness Number 2 – Yeshua
And when He 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)
Here we see Yeshua, our Messiah, saying almost the same thing as Moses: Do this in memory…
In much of Christianity this event is generally referred to as “The Last Supper” and the basis of the tradition known as communion stems from it. But it is quite apparent from the context that this was not necessarily the initiation of some new ritual that today is minimized to a stale cracker the size of a fingernail and a cup of grape juice the size of a thimble—as if that’s the best we can offer in memory of the One who gave His life for us. But none of that is really seen in the passage.
Clearly the context of this was not the taking of something called communion, the record is quite clear as verse 15, just a few sentences earlier, Yeshua says: “I have eagerly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer.” What He was saying, then, in verses 19 and 20 was that we are to keep the biblical Passover Feast in memory of Him.
What is fascinating here is that Yeshua is in these statements declaring that the pending work of the cross and the resurrection, which were moments away when he said these things, were parallel to the exodus from Egypt. Think about that for a moment. The deliverance we have through Yeshua as our Messiah is directly connected, through His own declaration, with the original Passover where God struck down the firstborn of all families in Egypt and led His people on a journey to their promised land.
Clearly it goes without saying that Yeshua would be the most important figure in the Gospels, as He is the most important man in the entirety of The Bible. Here we have Him in perfect agreement with Moses that we are to keep the Passover, not merely as a remembrance of the deliverance of God’s people from Egypt but now also in remembrance of that Passover where He was crucified to provide a greater exodus, freeing us from the bondage of sin.
Sin, as we know from 1 John 3:4, is the transgression of God’s Torah. Since keeping the Feast of Passover is a commandment of Torah, not keeping it would be a transgression of Torah. Therefore one of the things the cross does for you is saves you from not keeping Passover. There are 612 other commandments in the Torah as well, and if sin by definition is the not keeping of the commandments, then salvation by definition is harmonized with keeping them. In other words, you are not saved from some “bondage of the Torah” as many claim; you are saved from breaking the Torah. This would mean that if you are saved, your natural desire will be to seek out what God instructed through Moses and do those things because you are saved from breaking Torah.
Today Christians have mostly forgotten the Passover. As I mentioned before, they have traded this in part for a religious ritual they call communion. While there is evidence indicating that the earliest Believers, even in the first century, began the remember Messiah’s death and resurrection with the bread and the cup frequently, they did so when they were gathered together for meals after the pattern of the Passover meal. They were not initially creating some new ritual or “sacrament”. They simply remembered His death and resurrection every time they ate together as the bread and the cup continually reminded them of those events, and they also continued to keep the Passover itself annually as a memorial to Yeshua their Passover Lamb—and ours too.
Witness Number 3 – 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)
Moses may be considered the most important prophetic voice in the Tanakh and Yeshua in the Gospels, but the Apostle Paul holds a unique place of significance in the remainder of Scripture as it is his writings that are so often used to say we don’t have to follow Father’s Torah (often wrongly referred to by Christians as the “Law of Moses” or “Mosaic Law”, attributing to a mortal man that which came from the mouth and hand of Yahweh—the Eternal God).
Yet here we see this very same Apostle Paul charging us to celebrate the Feast of Passover, clearly including the week-long celebration of hametz (unleavened bread). Isn’t it interesting that the very person in The Bible who so many misquote as saying we are not under the law is telling us here to keep a Feast that is part of the Law these people want us to believe we are not under?
What many fail to realize is that the context of Paul’s not under the law is two-fold. First we need to look at Romans 6:14: “For sin shall not be master over you, for you are not under law but under grace.” Notice that this pairs not being under the law with sin not being master over us. As noted earlier, sin is the transgression of the Torah (or, The Law). Then we need to look at Galatians 3:13: “Messiah has redeemed us from the curse of the law by being made a curse for us…”
What is the curse of the law? For that you will need to turn to Deuteronomy 28. This chapter is often quoted by Christians… in part. Most people like to quote just the list of blessings, things like: blessed in the city, blessed in the field, blessed coming in, blessed going out, you will be the head and not the tail and so on. They totally neglect verse one where these blessings are linked directly to obeying the Torah and then everything after verse fifteen where there is a much longer list of curses that will fall on those who do not keep Torah: The curse of the law. All Paul was saying was that if you receive Yeshua as your Messiah and begin to follow Torah as a result, you are no longer under the curse of the law. He was simply telling you what The Bible already said thousands of years earlier.
As so often is the case, we see that Paul never taught against following what is written in the Torah and charges us to keep the Passover in perfect agreement with Moses and Yeshua. Acts 18:21, depending on what translation you look at, indicates that Paul was eager to keep one of the Feasts. Many believe this was Shavuot (the Feast of Pentecost). Acts 20:6 indicates that Paul was participating in observation of the Feast of Unleavened Bread, part of the overall celebration of Passover. In fact, Paul’s entire defense of himself to his accusers is recorded in Acts 25:8, “I have committed no offense against the Torah of the Jewish people, or against the Temple, or against Caesar.” Just prior to that in Acts 24:8 Paul says, “I worship the God of our fathers, believing everything written in the Torah and the Prophets.” Think about that. The man everyone uses to oppose Torah defended his theology by saying he never violated Torah, continued to obey it, and never taught against it.
Tradition Or Torah?
I want to close this message by looking briefly at the traditions that try to replace the Passover.
As I mentioned already, one of these traditions is called communion. I don’t see anything overly wrong with those who observe this, but in practice I have noticed over the years that this ritual is more of a convenience for people who want to soothe their conscience by doing something that appears to fulfill a commandment with the least possible effort. After all, in private practice it takes mere seconds to eat the tiny cracker and drink the shot of grape juice. In some church settings it may take a little longer if a long-winded preacher offers a lengthy teaching before partaking of the elements, but the actual communion ritual itself still takes little time and effort on the part of the Believer.
The earliest Believers may have remembered Messiah’s death in a similar fashion apart from their actual celebration of Passover. However, they did keep the Passover. Also, their additional remembrances with the bread and the cup would have been during a full meal they shared with others in the community of Believers in their home fellowships. It had a lot more meaning and significance than the little communion ritual today.
Another replacement for Passover, and a much more concerning one, is a secular-pagan holiday called Easter. I will not belabor this as I have provided plenty of teaching on this in the past. In short, Easter most likely comes from the pagan worship of a goddess named Eostre. The followers of her cult appear to have lived in pre-Christian Europe and when Christianity spread into that region this was, perhaps, one of many pagan religious practices that assimilated with Christianity. As one prominent preacher I know used to say: “Don’t ever say the word ‘Easter’.” He would tell people to say Resurrection Day, which is certainly appropriate, but perhaps more appropriate would be to keep the Feasts of Passover, Unleavened Bread, and First Fruits. It was, after all, on the Feast of First Fruits that Yeshua rose from the dead and exited the tomb. So even Resurrection Day is more appropriately to be called the biblical Feast of First Fruits, which is part of the overall Passover celebration.
You will not find people hunting for colored eggs left by some egg-laying rabbit in The Bible. What you will find are passages like Deuteronomy 12 that tell us not to take the practices of pagan religion and turn them into things to worship Yahweh with. People who used to preach against saying Easter in the past may be changing their views to appease the crowd, but I will stand firm against such a practice. So long as the evidence suggests even the possibility that Easter is derived from paganism, I will continue to warn Christians against something that would ultimately provoke the wrath of the God they claim to be serving.
Finally, there is the modern Jewish Seder. This is becoming more popular with Believers who are identifying with the Hebraic foundations of Christian faith. Much like communion, I don’t oppose the practice. Some claim that the Passover celebration Yeshua led His disciples in just prior to being led to the cross was a full Seder. While there are some obvious similarities, there are also problems with this theory. Most dominant being how all indications are that the modern Seder was developed by Rabbis around 80 A.D., ten years after the Temple was destroyed, because they were trying to figure out ways to continue keeping Torah without a Temple in Jerusalem.
The Seder is a great event. I have participated in them in the past and they offer up a lot of symbolism and help you connect with the Jewish culture that is so prominent in The Bible—a Hebrew Book written by Hebrew people about the Hebrew God while they lived in the Hebrew culture inspired by the Torah. But when you get down to basics, the Passover has always been intended to be an intimate family celebration kept at home.
When you go back to Exodus 12 you find out that the Passover is very simple. You are to eat the lamb prepared with bitter herbs and unleavened bread in your home with your family. I recommend developing a shortened and simplified haggadah—a guide prepared with liturgy for the Passover—for your family celebration. This will allow you to hit the key biblical points of a traditional Seder without all the unnecessary additions.
If you are reading this and have been in modern mainstream Christianity, celebrating the Easter festival or taking communion, I hope this will cause you to think a bit about what you are doing and whom you are really serving by doing such things. Research the origins of these practices; you might be surprised just how unbiblical they actually are.
However you keep the Passover, I hope this short article has given you some added insight. Christian religion tells you to celebrate numerous things you cannot find in The Bible. Moses, Yeshua, and Paul all tell you to keep The Passover. I ask you to consider in the days leading up to Passover whether you want to follow tradition or Torah.
~Blessings and Shalom~
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