Pesach begins in the first month of the year, on Nisan 15. Known as the Feast of Freedom because it celebrates the Exodus of the Israelites from bondage in Egypt. It memorializes the night when the faithful were protected by the blood of the lamb, which points to the sacrifice of Yeshua Ha Mashiach as Seh Ha Elohim —Jesus the Messiah, the Lamb of God — who takes away the sin of the world.
Passover is the clearest picture of God's Salvation in the Old Covenant. The very object of Egyptian scorn toward the sheep-loving nation of Israel, a lamb, became the central emblem of the Festival. The night of the 10th plague, when the angel of death passed over Egypt and killed all firstborn who were not dwelling under blood-stained doorposts, was the night God delivered the Hebrews from slavery and oppression in Egypt.
The symbolism of Passover (פֶּסַח see Exodus 12) is clear — the lamb represents Messiah — which had to be young, pure and without blemish. The lamb had to be totally consumed either by eating or by burning the remains. All of this is a prophetic picture of Messiah — a young man, who was sinless and gave His all for mankind — and this prophetic picture was fulfilled by Yeshua on the Cross. Passover clearly speaks of Messiah shedding His blood to redeem His people.
Passover is first of seven feasts falling in March or April. Leviticus 23:5 -8, The LORD's Passover begins at twilight on the fourteenth day of the first month. On the fifteenth day of that month the LORD's Feast of Unleavened Bread begins; for seven days you must eat bread made without yeast. On the first day hold a sacred assembly and do no regular work. For seven days present an offering made to the LORD by fire. And on the seventh day hold a sacred assembly and do no regular work.
When the feasts were instituted Nisan was the first month, Chodesh Nisan, (Exodus 12:1-2). This is still the start of the religious calendar. The civil new year is celebrated in the Autumn. (Rosh Hashannah).
The book of Exodus reveals how Moses was sent by God to Pharaoh to be Israel’s deliverer. Pharaoh would not listen to Moses’ appeal to set the people free from their slavery. The stage was set for a showdown between the God of Israel and the gods of Egypt. The 10th and final plague that descended upon the people of Egypt was the death of all the firstborn in the land. Only those families that sacrificed an unblemished lamb (pesach) and smeared its blood upon the doorposts of the homes would be ‘passed over’ (pasach) by the destroyer (Exodus 12:23).
Technically speaking, Passover is a 1 day holiday that recalls the deliverance of the LORD by means of the blood of the lambs, immediately followed by the 7 day Feast of Unleavened Bread1. Modern Judaism, however, considers Passover to be an 8 day holiday that remembers the birth of the Jewish people as a nation.
From Passover, Israel was required to keep the Feast of Unleavened Bread for one week. During this time they were forbidden from eating leavened bread and were required to eat bitter herbs with this bread. This is associated with grieving. The time between Messiah’s death and resurrection was a time of grief for the first disciples.
Today Jews celebrate Passover to commemorate the liberation of the descendants of Abraham from their prophesied slavery in Egypt (Genesis 15:13) under the leadership of Moses, but Christians and Messianic Jews also remember the sacrifice of Yeshua HaMashiach as the Lamb of God2 who takes away the sins of the world (John 1:29, 36). This is the real meaning of Passover.
Blood on the Door Frames
Yeshua celebrating Pesach
The Second Cup — Judgement
God commanded that on Nisan 10 each head of the household should set aside a young male lamb which should be examined for blemishes which might disqualify it as an offering. Interestingly, this period of time allowed for each family to become personally attached to their lamb, so it would no longer simply be a lamb (Exodus 12:3) but rather their lamb (Exodus 12:5). On the afternoon of the Nisan 14 the lambs were to be publicly sacrificed by the ‘whole assembly’ (Exodus 12:6).
And even though the entire nation was responsible for the death of the lambs, each family was to apply the blood of their personal lamb on their doorpost as a sign of their faith in the Lord’s deliverance(Exodus 12:7).
The Keynote and accompanying Leader’s Edition booklet looks back to the Last Supper which was set in the context of Passover, the first in a cycle of 3 ancient Pilgrim Festivals—the others being Shavuot3 and Sukkot4. The film clips used throughout the presentation tell the story of a Rabbi returning home to celebrate Pesach one year after Yeshua’s death and how his experiences have changed his understanding as he now accepts Yeshua as Messiah.
The unleavened bread acts as a reminder that when the Jews fled Egypt, they had no time to bake their bread.
Salt Water & Charoset
The Karpas is dipped in the Salt Water and eaten as a reminder of the tears of sorrow shed by the slaves before they were freed from oppression in Egypt.
A mixture of chopped apples, nuts, raisins, cinnamon, spices and honey that represents the mortar used by the Hebrew slaves to make bricks in Egypt. It also represents the food of the Promised Land.
From the Hebrew Mar meaning bitter (Exodus 1:14). Exodus 12:8 specifies herbs plural, so bitter herbs appear at 2 places. Horseradish is most commonly used. Bitter herbs bring tears to the eyes and recall the bitterness of slavery. We are called to look at our own bitter enslavements, addictions or habits.
Chazeret is a second bitter herb, most often Romaine Lettuce. Karpas, usually Parsley or Celery represents the Hysop used to daub the blood of the Passover lamb on the doorposts and lintel of the house.
The Afikomen ritual has been part of Passover since Second Temple times, and so would have been part of Yeshua’s Passover. The Greek word aphikomenos means he is coming or it comes later and therefore it has Messianic overtones. It’s the middle of the 3 that’s broken focusing on the broken middle or second member of the Trinity (Yeshua). Note it’s wrapped in a linen cloth, hidden from view and discovered by children.
Yeshua’s death, burial in a linen shroud, and resurrection being clearly revealed. In Yeshua’s day, if someone got up from their meal and folded their napkin, it meant they’d return.
Evidence for the Exodus
Is there currently any evidence that the Exodus account is true? Filmmaker Timothy Mahoney spent 12 years making a documentary film Patterns of Evidence, The Moses Controversy, that attempts to answer that question. Mahoney’s work suggests the events of the Exodus probably did not occur in Egypt’s New Kingdom under Pharaoh Ramesses II, but instead, he argues that the modern view of the chronology of Egyptian history is off by about 200 years. Once that gap is corrected, the evidence (scarce though it may be) lines up more closely with the Biblical account.