We’ll be eating lamb and unleavened bread with bitterness, remembering what happened on the night before the great exodus from Egypt in Moses’ day, as well as recalling the event of Yeshua’s death as recorded in Matthew, Mark, Luke and John.
How to Memorialize Passover
When we first rejected the idea of celebrating Good Friday and Easter Sunday six years ago, our desire was to simply learn about the Passover because we never paid that much attention to it in the past. But over time, as we met others who were observing Passover, it was difficult to know how we were supposed to recognize this occasion each year, given what we were hearing from them.
We did not feel comfortable with the traditional Jewish Seder service/meal because much of it was based on tradition, and we were only interested in doing what the Bible said. So, we understood the Passover meal was to simply consist of eating roasted lamb (or goat) with unleavened bread and bitterness.
And the best way to memorialize it we thought was to read (and discuss) the story of Moses being called to lead the children of Israel out of Egypt, and the plagues leading up to and including the plague of death to the firstborn as outlined in the first 12 chapters of Exodus.
When is Passover Memorialized?
When it came to knowing when to memorialize this event, we initially found that to be very confusing.
According to the calendar we hung on our wall, it gave a particular date for the Passover holiday. But knowing the Jews considered the “day” to be from sundown to sundown, we weren’t sure if the date noted on the calendar was when the 24-hour day of Passover began, or if it was the date the lamb was to be slain and then eaten later that night.
According to the account given in Exodus 12, the lamb was to be slain “between the evenings”, which we currently understand to be in the afternoon, on the 14th day of the 1st month of the year.
Then, it was roasted over fire and eaten later that night indoors. It was during that night that the death angel came through Egypt and killed all the firstborn of homes that did not have the sign of the blood on their doorposts.
We had no idea the first year we recognized Passover about the different “calendars” folks went by to determine the start of the year and/or each month. We just went with the date given on our Gregorian wall calendar.
It was after this first year that I began to study the Bible regarding the various elements of time (day, week, month and year) from that point forward. I wrote a post last year explaining my understanding of the Passover Timeline based on Exodus 12.
Currently, we understand the “year” to be a reference to a solar year, and the 1st month of the year referenced in Exodus appears to be in the spring. So, we started counting from the Spring Equinox to determine the date to memorialize the Passover event.
We also recognize there are no “24 hour days”, there is just “day” and “night”, two components that make up a 24-hour period. This morning, at dawn’s early light, marked the 14th “day” after the spring equinox.
There are particular instructions as to who can eat of the Passover according to Exodus 12:43-49. It was only for those whose males have been circumcised. Both my husband and sons were circumcised shortly after birth, so this has not been a particular concern for us.
Slaughtering the Lamb
As for the whole slaughtering of the lamb/kid and putting the blood on the doorposts exercise, we struggled over the years with whether or not that was something we were supposed to do in this day and age. I am still not totally settled on it.
What was done in Egypt was a home-based slaughter; it was not a temple sacrifice. The instructions for performing a temple/tabernacle sacrifice came later in the wilderness for when the tabernacle was built.
Exodus 12:25 specifically says, “when ye are come to the land which YHVH will give you…”, which indicates to me that the slaughtering of the lamb was to be done specifically in the promised land.
We see that the Passover was kept in the book of Joshua, just after they crossed the Jordan River. Eventually however, they were expelled from the land for their wicked ways. And there is no indication from the Bible (that I can find) that this slaughtering was done outside of that land.
Given this, we have chosen again to simply buy lamb’s meat from the store, forego marking our doorposts with blood (which is something we’ve never done), and eat the roasted lamb with unleavened bread and bitterness, all the while reading and talking about what was done during the actual Pass Over event in Egypt. This seems sufficient for our purposes.
Generally speaking, we have slaughtered chickens and goats before…not for a sacrifice, of course, but for food. Although we could slaughter a kid from our own flock for this meal, if the idea is to eat it completely in one night or else burn up what remains, that seems like a terrible waste to us, given there are so few people who would be participating in the meal.
But having slaughtered our own animals before, we are keenly aware of what it means to do such an act, and to literally have blood on our hands.
It seems to me the intention for this memorial service is to remember the event, not necessarily re-enact it.
Remembering the Death of Yeshua
While the instructions for the Passover memorial are particularly addressing what took place in Egypt, we also recognize that Yeshua was killed on the day of the Passover feast roughly 2,000 years ago.
Throughout the Old Testament we see references to the children of Israel as “sheep”, so I can see how Yeshua, being one of the sons of Israel, can be referred to as a “lamb”. And since he was without blemish (or blameless), and was slaughtered on Passover (as opposed to dying of natural causes), I can understand the reference to him being the Passover lamb, or “the lamb that was slain”.
Growing up in Christianity I was taught that Jesus died for our sins. And that through his death and resurrection somehow we were saved. All we had to do was accept, believe and confess Jesus as Lord and we would be saved. But I didn’t understand how this all fit in with the Old Testament.
I have since done quite a bit of studying of the Old Testament and am continually reassessing the words written in the New Testament. I’m not saying I have it all figured out, but I think I have a better understanding now concerning Yeshua’s death and what was accomplished through it, considering what the Old Testament teaches.
I look forward to delving into these things more over the coming week, as we spend seven days eating Unleavened Bread. But as for now, my mind is stayed on the events surrounding this day of Passover memorial.