Passover is the first of the biblical feasts mentioned in the Bible (Exodus 12). It is also one of the three festivals during which the nation was commanded to come to Jerusalem, bringing their sacrifices to the Temple (Exodus 23:14-17). I also call Passover the Feast of Unleavened Bread, the Feast of Freedom and the Feast of Spring. Each name is connected with the historical commemoration of Israel’s exodus from Egypt.
During the festival of Passover we are commanded by God to follow what today might be referred to as traditions, each one pointing to the Messiah. The story of the exodus is a parallel to the exodus we will have with the Lord when He comes to redeem us. Even now Israel, by and large, is still living in “Egypt,” living according to the world’s system.
The Lord’s redemption of Israel from the hands of the Egyptians is full of miracles and wonders. Throughout history, until this present day, God commanded that we remember and retell this great event to our children and our grandchildren (Exodus 13:8). Therefore, on the eve of Passover we read and recite the story of the Exodus using the Hagaddah. Here we see the symbolism of the six elements on the Passover Seder plate: roasted egg – festival sacrifice; shankbone – Passover lamb offering; charoset (apple, nuts and honey mix) – like the mortar that the Hebrew slaves used to build Egyptian structures; parsley dipped in salt water – the tears of the slaves; “bitter herbs” (horseradish) – bitterness of slavery; lettuce – part of the “bitter herbs.” The matzah or unleavened bread is eaten for a week to commemorate the fact that the Israelites did not have time to let their bread rise before their departure from Egypt.
Before the festival of Passover, the entire nation of Israel is commanded to remove all yeast or leaven from the home. We as believers are also called to remove the leaven (sin) from our lives. Removing the leaven means searching our hearts for inner impurities, in other words taking a good look at our spiritual condition.
The feast of Passover according to Leviticus 23:5 starts at the very end of the 14th of the month of Nisan; the lambs were to be slaughtered “between the twilights”, on the cusp of the change from the 14th to the 15th day. Thousands of years later, before nightfall on the 14h of Nisan, Yeshua, the Passover lamb was sacrificed. He is the Passover lamb who died on the cross, carrying on Himself the iniquities of the world and redeeming all who believe in Him.
When God sees the blood shed by Messiah on the doorpost of our hearts (our lives), He passes over us, giving us life. Yeshua is the Passover lamb. In the same way, the angel of death passed over the homes in Egypt which were marked with the blood of the lamb on the doorposts.
The 15th of Nisan, including the Passover Seder itself is a holy convocation, and the start of the seven day period of eating unleavened bread begins. For us as believers, this is symbolic of the lifestyle we should be living (I Corinthians 5:7-8).
Then on the day following the Shabbat, which was the third day 17th of Nisan, the day of Yeshua’s resurrection in that year, we begin the counting of the Omer, the barley harvest.
On that day the high priest would lift up the Omer (a sheaf of barley) in a ceremony thanking God for the first fruits of the harvest. He then would begin the count – asking God to bless the harvest. This period lasts for fifty days and brings us to Pentecost or Shavuot (Leviticus 23:11-16). Yeshua is the first fruit (ICorinthians 15:20-23); He is the first resurrection (Colossians 1:18).
We are called to be one in Yeshua’s death and resurrection. We who are dead in Messiah will be raised up with Him (I Thessalonians 4:6). Yeshua is the first fruit of the harvest and we are the harvest.