This Shabbat is a very special Shabbat – it is the Shabbat of the Passover. We will be reading from Exodus 12:21-51 and from Numbers 28:16-25.
From the prophets (the Haftarah) from Joshua 3:5-7, 5:2-6:1. From the New Testament we will be reading from Luke 22:7-20. As you can see when you read these texts, all of them are connected with the keeping of the Passover.
When John the Baptist sees his first cousin coming down the slope toward the Jordan River, John said:
“Behold the Lamb of God!” – John 1:36 [NKJV]
And in the book of Revelation:
“And I heard, as it were, the voice of a great multitude, as the sound of many waters and as the sound of mighty thunderings, saying, ‘Alleluia! For the Lord God Omnipotent reigns! Let us be glad and rejoice and give Him glory, for the marriage of the Lamb has come, and His wife has made herself ready.’ And to her it was granted to be arrayed in fine linen, clean and bright, for the fine linen is the righteous acts of the saints.” – Revelation 19:6-8 [NKJV]
The Lamb of God is designated for Yeshua our Messiah. But the origins of this idea that John the Baptist is proclaiming here is not something that was a new concept.
The Pharisees already understood that there is something strange in this lamb. This that every family of Israel that was in Egypt enslaved under the Pharaoh had to keep for a few days in their home. And then on the evening of their Exodus from Egypt slaughter this lamb and eat it standing up with their belts on and their shoes on, ready to move forward and get out of Egypt.
The Passover Lamb
Conceptually, the Passover Lamb makes sense. It is chosen, without blemish, killed (and eaten) on the Passover, and its blood is used to make the sign which will cause the house to be passed over.
Rashi, one of the most famous bible commentators in Judaism, understood the difficulty of this text from Exodus and commented:
“And they shall slaughter it etc. — But did they all slaughter it (one alone did this on behalf of the company formed to eat that particular lamb; (cf. B. Talmud Chullin 29b)? But we derive from this statement the legal principle that a man’s agent is as himself (this is derived from the fact that although one alone slaughtered the lamb on behalf of many, Scripture still states: they shall slaughter it in the singular and not in the plural ‘them.’” – Mekhilta d’Rabbi Yishmael 12:6:2, Kiddushin 41b
In other words, the strange grammar of the Hebrew text of Exodus 12:4 is that it reads as if all of the congregation of Israel slaughtered that one single lamb.
Paul said to the Corinthian church (that was made up of Jews and Gentiles):
“Therefore purge out the old leaven, that you may be a new lump, since you truly are unleavened. For indeed Christ, our Passover, was sacrificed for us. Therefore let us keep the feast, not with old leaven, nor with the leaven of malice and wickedness, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.” – 1 Corinthians 5:7,8 [NKJV]
Some translations add the ellipsis “lamb”, yet the literal is simply “Passover”. Paul, being a Pharisee, very educated and well-versed in the Torah, understands that this Lamb that all of Israel slaughtered collectively is actually a foreshadow of the Messiah Yeshua.
Therefore, Paul states to the Corinthians that they should keep the Feast of Passover. They should not only clean their homes, but also their hearts, because the Messiah is their Passover.
Paul’s words in this text of 1st Corinthians is diametrically opposed to what the Christian church fathers were teaching. That disciples of Yeshua should not keep the Passover and should not celebrate the “appointed times of the Lord” (especially the Passover) because the Jews (according to the church fathers) killed Jesus on the evening of the Passover.
This motif of the Passover Lamb is also recognized by Isaiah the prophet in that chapter that some messianic Jews in the late 19th Century called “The Forbidden Chapter”. It is one of the chapters that is not read in the synagogues, because Christians used it to prove that Yeshua is the Messiah. This is what is called in the South of the United States, “to cut your nose to spite your face!”
The Suffering Servant (Isaiah 53:7)
Isaiah, referring to this singular particular “Lamb” that is “of God” states clearly:
“And he, because of his affliction, opens not his mouth: he was led as a sheep to the slaughter, and as a lamb before the shearer is dumb, so he opens not his mouth.” – Isaiah 53:7 [Brenton]
The same understanding of the Passover Lamb is also given to us by Phillip the evangelist in Acts chapter 8. When Phillip is sent by the Holy Spirit to catch a ride to reach the Ethiopian gentlemen’s cart on the way to Gaza.
Here is the text:
“So, Philip ran to him, and heard him reading the prophet Isaiah, and said, ‘Do you understand what you are reading?’ And he said, ‘How can I, unless someone guides me?’ And he asked Philip to come up and sit with him. The place in the Scripture which he read was this: ‘He was led as a sheep to the slaughter; And as a lamb before its shearer is silent, So He opened not His mouth. In His humiliation His justice was taken away, And who will declare His generation? For His life is taken from the earth.’ [Isaiah 53:7] So the eunuch answered Philip and said, ‘I ask you, of whom does the prophet say this, of himself or of some other man?’ Then Philip opened his mouth, and beginning at this Scripture, preached Jesus to him.” – Acts 8:30-35 [NKJV]
In summary, the Christian anti-Semitic fathers from the 3rd and 4th Centuries after the Messiah worked very hard to delete and uproot any chance of the Gentile disciples having contact with the Jewish disciples of Yeshua, or with the Torah and the prophets.
The Passover will be celebrated by the majority of the Jewish people around the whole world. Most of our Christian brothers and sisters around the world used to condemn believers who kept the Shabbat or the other biblical holidays, but praise the Lord for the brothers and sisters in Israel that have started to keep the Passover and many of the other biblical holidays that are called “the appointed times of the Lord.”
They are not Jewish holidays, they are the Lord’s appointed times that synchronize us, the disciples of Yeshua, with the holy calendar of the Lord.
I am so happy to see that more messianic congregations in Israel and around the world are keeping the Passover, and doing the best they can do under their circumstances. When we in Netivyah started to keep the Passover, we were the only congregation in all of Israel to do so (there were only three congregations in the 1960’s and even well into the 1970’s that had some Jewish disciples of Yeshua).
As the apostle Paul said to the Corinthians:
“For indeed Christ, our Passover, was sacrificed for us. Therefore let us keep the feast, not with old leaven, nor with the leaven of malice and wickedness, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.” – 1 Corinthians 5:7,8 [NKJV]
This article originally appeared on Netivyah and is reposted with permission.