What Is Passover? :: by Ron and Nathele Graham

Ron Graham was called home on March 14, 2013. He began writing this commentary before his death and had asked me, Nathele Graham, to continue his service to our Lord by finishing what he began.

Passover, or Pecach in Hebrew, is a very important feast of Israel. It is one of three feasts which every male Jew is supposed to celebrate in Jerusalem if at all possible. To the Jews it is a time to remember what God did for them…He miraculously delivered them from Egyptian bondage.

“And it shall come to pass, when ye be come to the land which the LORD will give you, according as he hath promised, that ye shall keep this service. And it shall come to pass, when your children shall say unto you, What mean ye by this service? That ye shall say, it is the sacrifice of the LORD’S Passover, who passed over the houses of the children of Israel in Egypt, when he smote the Egyptians, and delivered our houses. And the people bowed the head and worshipped” (Exodus 12:25-27).

The Hebrew word Pecach is translated “Passover” and refers to this event in history that is celebrated by Jews to this day. As we will see it is of the utmost importance to Christians as well.

The book of Exodus is where we pick up the story of the Israelites departure from captivity in Egypt. God, through Moses, told Pharaoh to let His people go. Pharaoh flat out told God no so God sent ten plagues on Egypt. Each plague was directed toward a specific demonic god worshiped in Egypt. The tenth plague was the one that hurt the most and ultimately caused Pharaoh to release the Jews from bondage.

“And all the firstborn in the land of Egypt shall die, from the firstborn of Pharaoh that sitteth upon his throne, even unto the firstborn of the maidservant that is behind the mill; and all the firstborn of beasts” (Exodus 11:5).

This tenth and final plague would kill the first-born man and animal of all Egypt regardless if they were Egyptian or Jew. This might seem like God will kill people on a whim. Nothing could be further from the truth. God…the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob…is love. The time had come for the Jews to leave Egypt and move to the Promised Land, but first they had to come out of bondage.

Moses took God’s directive to Pharaoh. Because Pharaoh would not agree to let the Jews go free, God sent plagues against the demonic gods the Egyptians worshipped. The Nile turned to blood, there was a plague of frogs, then gnats, and so on. Each plague came and went but Pharaoh defied God and would not let them go. The final plague came upon the firstborn.

“For I will pass through the land of Egypt this night, and will smite all the first born in the land of Egypt, both man and beast; and against all the gods of Egypt I will execute judgment: I am the LORD” (Exodus 12:12).

Like all sin, which is disobedience to God, the consequences are a result of the individual’s choice to commit sin. If Pharaoh had obeyed God, the one true God and not demonic “wanna be” gods, and allowed the Jews their freedom then this final plague would not have happened. If he had obeyed from the beginning, none of the plagues would have happened.

Even so, God provided a way to avoid death. An unblemished lamb was to be chosen by each household on the tenth day of the month of Nisan.

“Your lamb shall be without blemish, a male of the first year: ye shall take it out from the sheep, or from the goats: and ye shall keep it up until the fourteenth day of the same month: and the whole assembly of the congregation of Israel shall kill it in the evening. And they shall take of the blood, and strike it on the two side posts and on the upper door post of the houses, wherein they shall eat it” (Exodus 12:5-7).

This was an act of faith. It didn’t matter who was inside the house. If the blood was applied to the doorposts those inside were saved from death. The firstborn of the Jews who did not apply the blood would die, but Egyptians inside a house with blood applied would be saved. The blood of the lamb would be the saving grace.

The Passover meal was to be prepared in a specific way. Unleavened bread was necessary. Leaven “puffs up” like pride puffs up a person. Throughout Scripture leavening is symbolic of sin. Jesus even used it as an example of sin:

“And he charged them, saying, Take heed, beware of the leaven of the Pharisees, and of the leaven of Herod” (Mark 8:15).

The Jews were to go through their entire house and remove all leaven from their homes. What would happen if there was a bit of leaven that remained in the house? Scripture doesn’t specifically say, but it was the blood of the lamb that saved the household from death. This purging of the leaven is still done by Jews today and we all need to look inside of us and purge sin from our life.

The lamb was to be roasted and eaten with the unleavened bread and with bitter herbs:

“Eat not of it raw, nor sodden at all with water, but roast with fire; his head with his legs, and with the purtenance thereof. And ye shall let nothing of it remain until the morning; and that which remaineth of it until the morning ye shall burn with fire” (Exodus 12:9-10).

The meal was to be eaten in haste and they were to be ready to leave on a moment’s notice.

Then it happened:

“And it came to pass, that at midnight the LORD smote all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, from the firstborn of Pharaoh that sat on his throne unto the firstborn of the captive that was in the dungeon; and all the firstborn of the cattle” (Exodus 12:29).

It’s always a good idea to obey God. He really meant it when He said to put the blood of the lamb on the door posts. He really meant it when He said that the firstborn of those who didn’t have the blood of the lamb on their door posts would die. It took the death of the firstborn for Pharaoh to finally set the Jews free.

John the Baptist was the first to publicly proclaim the truth about Jesus.

“The next day John seeth Jesus coming unto him and saith, ‘Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world’” (John 1:29).

At this time in history the Jews were once again in a sort of bondage. The Romans were the oppressors this time and the Jews were looking for their Messiah to come and deliver them from this bondage. They were looking for a warrior who would come with a sword and fight for them. They weren’t looking for God to come in the flesh and first deliver them from sin.

Jesus Christ entered His creation and became our Sacrificial Lamb.

“Forasmuch as ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, from your vain conversation received by tradition from your fathers; but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot: who verily was foreordained before the foundation of the world, but was manifest in these last times for you, who by him do believe in God, that raised him up from the dead, and gave him glory; that your faith and hope might be in God” (1 Peter 1:18-21).

The Jews were saved from death in that first Passover by putting the blood of the lamb on their door posts as an act of faith. Their salvation was temporary and death would one day come to each of them. Today we have a permanent salvation from death. Our body will die but by accepting the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ and applying His blood to our hearts we will live eternally with Him.

“You know that after two days is the Passover, and the Son of Man will be delivered up to be crucified” (Matthew 26:2).

The Jewish Passover was an important event in history, but it was also a picture-type of what Jesus would accomplish on the cross of Calvary. Jesus is our perfect blemish-free lamb and was slain for our salvation. His blood has taken away the sin of all who trust in Him. Yet, we need to ask ourselves if we have removed the leaven from our life. His blood has saved us from eternal death, but we still have sin inside of us and we need to purge it.

“Purge out therefore the old leaven, that ye may be a new lump, as ye are unleavened. For even Christ our Passover is sacrificed for us: therefore let us keep the feast, not with old leaven, neither with the leaven of malice and wickedness; but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth” ( 1 Corinthians 5:7-8).

The Greek word Pascha is translated Passover. It is the Paschal feast, the feast of the Passover, extending from the 14th to the 20th day of the month Nisan.

Jesus fulfilled the Passover. As John the Baptist proclaimed, He is the Lamb of God and only His blood can take away our sins. He knew before the foundation of the world that He would come to be our Redeemer. He was crucified on Passover and on the third day His tomb was empty. He conquered death. God was very specific to the Jews as to the day that they were to institute the Passover and He never change that day. Jesus’ sacrifice was on that very day. Why then do Christians celebrate a pagan holiday and pretend it is all right with God?

Easter is named for a pagan fertility goddess and her feast day is based on the Spring Equinox. Since she is a fertility goddess, sexual sin is the main event. Rabbits (a symbol of fertility) are revered and eggs (also a fertility symbol) are colored and hunted. Why, when we know the specific date of Christ’s crucifixion and resurrection, have we changed the date we celebrate it to a date that glorifies a pagan sex goddess? Does the word “Easter” appear in our Bible? Well, sort of:

“And when he had apprehended him, he put him in prison, and delivered him to four quaternions of soldiers to keep him; intending after Easter to bring him forth to the people” (Acts 12:4).

This verse refers to a time when Peter was arrested. Was it on “Easter?” Well, so the King James Version of the Bible would have you believe. The verse which precedes this says it was in the days of unleavened bread. More than that, the word translated Easter is the Greek word Pascha. Yep, it’s Passover not the pagan celebration.

Does this really matter? If it didn’t matter, why was God specific as to the date of the Passover? We know this date from Scripture and we know it was the date that Christ was crucified. We celebrate Christ’s birth on another pagan holiday, but we aren’t given a specific date that He was born, though a little digging will tell you that he was probably born in September. His resurrection is different. We have the specific date of Pascha.

“A little leaven leaveneth the whole lump” (Galatians 5:9).

If we celebrate Christ’s resurrection on the feast day of a pagan sex goddess are we letting a little sin sneak in? On “Easter Sunday” will you dress up and go sit in a pew, then rush home to hide eggs and say they are from the Easter Bunny? What will you answer your children when, as they are finding eggs, they ask: What mean ye by this service? When the Israelite children asked that question God said to answer:

“…It is the sacrifice of the LORD’S Passover, who passed over the houses of the children of Israel in Egypt, when he smote the Egyptians, and delivered our houses…” (Exodus 12:27).

When your children stop a moment from searching for eggs and eating chocolate bunnies, will your answer be “We are celebrating the Resurrection of Jesus who gave His life so we may live”? Try to explain that one to them.

Christ died so that we may live. It is our faith in His death, burial, and resurrection that allows us to live eternally with Him. Celebrate Him every day. Thank Him every day. Love Him every day. Live for Him who died for you.

God bless you all,

Ron Graham