Passover

 

 

 

Celebration Dates:

April 11-18, 2017

March 31-April 7, 2018

Passover, Jewish Pesah, is the Festival of Freedom and is by far the most popular Jewish holiday. One of the reasons for Passover's universal interest is its home character. Members of the family travel great distances to be together at the Seder table (Passover Meal) with their kin. The desire to participate in a Seder, no matter where a person may be, indicates that the childhood impressions of the holiday have a fast hold upon the Jewish heart.

The holy days begins on the fourteenth day of the Biblical month of Nisan and continues for seven days through the twenty-first day (Leviticus 23:8).  Like Sukkot and Shavuot, Pesach was originally a nature festival that later took on historical significance. At one time it commemorated the barley harvest and the lambing season in ancient Palestine; it also marked the rejuvenation of life in general. Passover came to symbolize the Exodus from Egyptian bondage, which meant more than any other single historical event in the life of the ancient Hebrews.

The Seder, which is held in traditional households on the first two nights of Passover, highlights the festival. The entire family is seated around the table with the father as teacher and the family as students; it is a class in audio-visual education, each object on the table representing a symbol of the freedom lesson.

The matzah is the bread of affliction that our forebears ate in haste while in flight from Egypt. The shankbone represents the paschal sacrifice offered by each family on the eve of Passover. The egg represents an additional sacrifice, but it has also been interpreted to signify the Jewish people - just as the egg hardens when heated, so has the Jewish will to survive become more resolute with each added persecution. The maror or bitters remind us of the anguish that the Jews experienced in servitude; the haroset, or mixture of apples, nuts, and wine, serves to recall the mortar that the Hebrews were forced to make under the Pharaoh. The greens serve as the symbol of spring. Four cups of wine are drunk at various intervals to recall the four times that God promised freedom to the Israelites. Since the establishment of the State of Israel, a fifth cup has been added in many homes, with an appropriate prayer.

Much of the Seder is geared to the interest of the children. The youngest anxiously awaits his or her turn to ask the four questions; they read with the family a description of four different kinds of children and their respective interest in Judaism; they attempt to "steal" the afikomen (dessert Matzah), which is hidden at the beginning of the ceremony. The songs are postponed to the end of the service so that the children's interest will be maintained to the very end.

The Haggadah, out of which the family reads the account of Israel's flight to freedom, is a short history of the Jewish people rather than just a description of the holiday. Its passages help to entertain and instruct the more supple minds, to enlighten and to challenge the astute. The principal theme of the entire Haggadah is found in the following passage: "In every generation each man must regard himself as though he left Egypt." The Jew is bidden to remind him or herself continually that the task of seeking freedom for the oppressed is never ended. One should never take freedom for granted, and "the more one repeats the story of the Exodus the more praiseworthy he becomes."

The Historical Passover 

The name Passover is taken from the Exodus story.  During the tenth and ultimate plague inflicted upon Pharaoh, king of ancient Egypt, the Lord passed over the Israelites and struck dead the Egyptian firstborn.  That night Pharaoh finally agreed to let the children of Israel go; and ever since then Jews have gathered together on this night to commemorate being freed by the "strong arm" of Elohim.

Passover marked the beginning of the relationship between the Holy One of Israel and the nation of Israel, because up to that time the Covenant was established only with individuals, such as Abraham.

Passover is a spring holiday which follows the bleakness of winter. Spring marks the rebirth of the earth with the bursting forth of new life.  Similarly, a people shackled in oppressive slavery to Pharaoh, being the lowest of the social group and doomed to a slow process of degradation, burst forth out of Egypt in a new life's journey leading to the land of promise.  God adopted them as the very sons and daughters of the Most High.  

So it is today. Once set free from sin the saint of God should never return to be spiritually enslaved again.  The Israelites believed they would always be slaves, having been bound for so long by Pharaoh; but when the prophet Moses called for the people to go, they left behind their jobs and secure homes with the hope for a better life.  The redemption of the Exodus foreshadows the redemption of Israel soon to come.

Devout observants today prepare for Passover in much the same way they have for centuries.  Days before the holy day, a search is made of their homes for any yeast or leavened products, which are then discarded.  God required that leaven be put away for the seven days of Passover ( Exodus 12:15; 13:7)..  The Seder table is set for the family.  Around the meal, with an extra cup of wine set for the expected prophet Elijah, the Jewish household prays and sings, and the children ask questions about the Exodus.

Passover evening is a time of reflection, both of the freedom from slavery as well as the future redemption to be heralded by Elijah.  God promises in Malachi 3:1, "See, I will send my messenger, who will prepare the way before Me" just before the Lord--the Angelic Messenger of the Covenant at Mount Sinai--comes to His Temple in Jerusalem.  Malachi identifies the one who will prepare the path for Messiah: "See, I will send you the prophet Elijah before the great and dreadful Day of the Lord comes," (4:5).  Many Jews expect Elijah's arrival at Passover.

The Prophetic Passover Of The Appointed Time Of the End

As Passover draws near in a year not far distant, a wide-scale series of global disasters involving war, earthquakes and nature's wrath will coincide with an increase in demonic signs and wonders in the skies.  Untold millions of innocent men, women and children will lose their lives during the upheaval.  Matthew 24:4-8 forewarned the children of God, "watch out that no one deceives you. For many will come in My name [Christians, speaking in the name of the Lord], claiming, I am Christ" which might cause you at first to believe their lies. Jesus continued, "you will hear of wars and rumors of wars, but see to it that you are not alarmed [even though it looks like the end of the world is upon you]. Such things must happen, but the end is still to come. Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom [or, race against race].  There will be famines and earthquakes in various places.  All these things are the beginning of birth pains [for the nation of Israel. The actual delivery is yet to come at the end]."  

Although ancient Israel experienced a new beginning nearly 3500 years ago upon their escape from Egypt, still their wilderness journey was plagued with numerous trials.  Nonetheless, God provided miracles of food and water.  In turn, when Elijah calls for the people of Israel to leave "spiritual" Egypt (Jerusalem-- Revelation 11:8) at Passover, Israel will "fly to the place for her in the desert, where she would be taken care of for a time, times and half a time [1260 days], out of the serpent's reach," (12:14).  During this time Elijah will, for that smaller group willing to listen to his guidance, "turn the hearts of the fathers to their children, and the hearts of the children to their fathers" in harmonious love towards one another and towards God (Malachi 4:5-6).  In this same line of thought, Revelation 11:3 promises that two witnesses-- Elijah, and no doubt Moses--"will prophesy for 1,260 days, clothed in sackcloth [of mourning]. God's two prophets will protect the children of God while in the desert, for they are invincible for a time and can also inflict plagues for protection of themselves and those under their care (11:5-6). 

During the appointed time of the end and the beginning of the 1,260 prophetic days (see The Kingdom Calendar), Passover will mark the time when, because the nations have given themselves over Antichrist's 1,260 rule, the saints may wish to leave the larger cities to live in less populated areas.  Matthew 24:9-12 clearly indicates when the great sorrows begin "then you will be handed over to be persecuted and put to death, and you will be hated by all nations because of Me. At that time many will turn away from the faith and will betray and hate each other . . . the love of most will grow cold."  Jesus said of this last great conflict, "You will be betrayed by parents, brothers, relatives and friends, and they will put some of you to death," (Luke 21:16).  Because of this great hatred within families, Almighty will indeed come with a divine curse on the land that Malachi warned of (4:6).  So it is that Christ stated without reservation, "when you see Jerusalem surrounded by armies [at the end of time], you will know that its desolation is near," Luke 21:20.

 

Statements By Jewish Writers & Scholars

Concerning...

PESAH (Passover) and ELIJAH

“The custom [of the fifth cup of wine at the Passover table] became associated with the belief that Elijah did not die but ascended to Heaven alive (II Kings 2: 11) . . . and in the future he would announce the coming of the Messiah (Malachi 3:[1-2], Pirkei DeR. Eliezer 43). Further, it was believed that as the first redemption took place in [the Jewish month of] Nisan, so the future redemption would take place in Nisan (Talmud B., Rosh Hashanah lib).” Gates of the Seasons: A Guide to the Jewish Year, 1983, by Central Conference of American Rabbis, page 129.

“God promises: ‘And I will take you to be My people, and I will be your God, And you shall know that I, the Lord, am your God who freed you from the burdens of the Egyptians’ (Exod. 6:7). This covenantal relationship lies at the heart of the celebration of Passover. We rejoice for the past liberation from Egypt and for other redemptions by God since then. And because of the fulfillment of past promises, we anticipate at Passover the future final redemption. We create a special role for the prophet Elijah at the seder [the family meal and home ritual for Passover] as the symbol of our faith in the redemption soon to come.” The Jewish Holidays: A Guide & Commentary, 1985, by Michael Strassfeld, page 7.

“The Sabbath before Passover is call Shabbat ha-Gadol—the Great Sabbath—because the special haftarah [section of the prophetic books of the Bible read on holidays] for this Shabbat refers to the great and awesome day at the final redemption (see Mal. 3:[1—2]). Even before we recount the redemption from Egypt at Passover, we look forward to the final redemption, which will be heralded by Elijah.” The Jewish Holidays: A Guide & Commentary, 1985, by Michael Strassfeld, page 13.

“After the blessing the wine is drunk. Before anyone drinks, however, some is spilled into a plate or tray. This gesture symbolizes sadness and loss; as Shabbat ends, so ends it glimpse of redemption, of a world made whole. Havdalah [the evening ceremony that separates a weekly Sabbath or a major holy day of rest, such as Passover Sabbath, from the rest of the week] expresses a longing for a never-ending Shabbat, which for Jews is expressed in the image of the messiah and, because according to Talmudic legend Elijah will come after havdalah [a blessing recited at the end of the celebration], it is traditional to sing “Eliyahu Hanavi” [which words are—Elijah the prophet, Elijah the Tishbite, Elijah from Gilad, Come to us soon in our days with Messiah child of David].” Living A Jewish Life, 1991, by Anita Diamant and Howard Cooper, page 63.

According to the thoughts written above, Elijah is thought to have a special connection to Passover.  The Seder table is set with wine in anticipation that Elijah will come.  

The Kingdom Calendar Pt.9 shows Elijah's 1260 day mission beginning at Passover.  According to Talmudic legend, Elijah will come after havdalah--the evening ceremony which ends Passover Sabbath from the rest of the week. 

More About Passover on Wikipedia.