As a messianic Jew, I celebrate the feasts in both spring and fall. This is a cycle that repeats each year, as the seasons change.
I have been asked by non-messianic Christian friends, “Why do you bother? Wasn’t that all done away with under the ‘new covenant’? I often want to reply, “Why do married couples still date? Once their covenant is completed at the wedding, they don’t ‘have’ to still go out on dates”.
But the joy of relationship makes you want to.
For instance, I often feel as if Shabbat is a kind of weekly “date” with the LORD. It’s a time when cell phones and computers get turned off, no work is done, and the candles are lit on Friday night. It’s a beautiful reminder of God’s love on a weekly basis, as my family and I share in this special meal. Do I believe this is a ‘work’ that I have to do, for salvation? Of course not! Instead, it is a time of calling away to spend time with the LORD without distractions; a time of prayer and listening. And, it is a time of rest. Shabbat is a gift that comes each week, that I love to unwrap. Plus, I love the music at Shabbat (“Friday Night Live” is my all-time favorite CD!)
The feasts are very special gifts, and two of them, Passover and the Day of Atonement, are two of the most special of all.
Passover is a beautiful celebration of the deliverance that God provided to Israel from Egypt, the nation that was oppressing her under an ungodly governance. I believe this is a message so needed today, when things can seem dark or difficult around the world: God delivers. He delivered Israel from oppression and slavery, and He can do the same today. He hears the cries for deliverance being raised up, and I know with all my heart that He will answer.
So many aspects of Passover point to what Yeshua did for us. The lamb that was originally slaughtered, and its blood sprinkled on the lintels, so that death would pass over the homes of those who obeyed, is a direct picture of how Yeshua’s blood rescues us from spiritual death: He paid the price so that we could become free.
Even the unleavened bread in the service is broken into three pieces, representing for believers in Yeshua the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. The center portion of the bread is “hidden” to be found by children, and I believe this represents the “hiddenness” of messiah, who is found when we come to Him as children in faith and believe that He is the true, eternal Passover lamb who purchased our redemption.
One of my favorite parts of the service is singing “It would have been enough”, a reminder to be thankful and not grumble. Because the children of Israel complained in the desert after their deliverance, and were punished, we now sing “It would have been enough” for the aspects of the deliverance from Egypt and God’s provision, with reminders to be thankful for all that God has done for us. This is always a reminder to me personally to be thankful for the many things God has done in the past year, instead of complaining because things didn’t always go the way I wanted.
I could write so much more about the symbolism of the Passover service, and how it points to so many aspects of what Yeshua did for us. But I recommend finding a copy of the Seder service, and reading it yourself. Each year, in the spring, God provides a wonderful feast that reminds us of His ability to deliver. We even say “Next year in Jerusalem!” at the end of the service, looking forward to a time when the temple will be rebuilt in Jerusalem. I believe that one day, we will be celebrating this in fact, during the messianic kingdom.
Each of the feasts brings special joy, and points to God’s desire to set a special table for us. He invites us to this table, where we honor Him with thanksgiving and joy, and humble gratitude for the gift of His Son. Because of Yeshua, our sin is forgiven, and we pass from death into life. This is the greatest gift of all – that God in His mercy provided a sinless lamb to pay the price for our sins so that we could enter into fellowship with Him, and enjoy the benefits of being a child of God in the kingdom of heaven.
This is the real source of joy for me in Passover – the remembering of what God has provided.
May your Passover be blessed, and filled with shalom.