Tag Archives: Passover

Creation, the Firstborn and the Passover

Creation, the Firstborn and the Passover

Is the Passover not like a revisit by God to the earliest days of Creation? The sin of the first born is again being judged. The assault of the first born, Cain/Egypt, against the second born, Abel/Israel, is being called to account. But in Egypt on this fateful night the roles are reversed. The dead bodies of Israelite’ babies awash in the Nile[1] gives evidence.[2] The lashes from the taskmaster’s whips give evidence. The pervasive idolatry gives evidence. The verdict can no longer be withheld, the Egyptians are being called to account. It is the first born of Egypt who will perish this night.

The blood of a sheep will mark for exemption from judgment the firstborn of the keepers of the sheep. The red blood, like Abel’s, cries out for recognition—a stop sign. How symbolic that God choose a sheep’s blood for identification. Abel, too, was a keeper of sheep. It was his blood shed by Cain that cried out to the Lord. So, the blood of a lamb cried out to the Lord on behalf of the firstborn of the Israelites. The Israelite firstborn did not bear the guilt of the firstborn of Egypt. The blood would reveal this distinction.

The first born of Egypt, like Cain, used its collective will to sin—to be idolators of false gods, to give agreement to the ungodly treatment of the Israelites. Many principles of God’s Torah, His Law, were being violated by the Egyptian tyranny. God would soon spell this out in detail at Mt Sinai. Sin was no longer “crouching at the door” as with Cain. The will, the choice, had long been made by the Egyptians to sin against Israel.

For at least 80 years, since the time of Moses’ birth, the Egyptians had been grievously persecuting the children of Israel. How many other unrecorded atrocities occurred before and after that period of infanticide?

God’s timing is perfect, even if not given man to fully understand or accurately project. God was not indifferent to the plight of the Israelites during all those years of bondage. His testimony was in the land of ungodliness through His servant, Joseph. It was not until a Pharaoh came who knew not Joseph[3]that the trouble began.

Perhaps these were years when the Israelites had opportunity to give testimony of the God they knew and served to the Egyptian idol worshippers. Perhaps they squandered their calling and opportunity on self. Perhaps even Joseph did not recognize their opportunity, but was limited by the edited promises of God to the fathers.[4] Perhaps the Israelites were so isolated in Goshen[5] they did not perceive the sinful, idolatrous condition of the nation about them. Had Joseph forgotten the entire vision laid out by God to Abraham that his descendants were to be a blessing to the nations?[6] It seems the time was squandered between Jacob’s death, Joseph’s death and the coming of the Pharaoh who knew not Joseph. The promise from God to Abraham was not self fulfilling, it required the corporate action of the leaders and the growing populous of Israel.[7]

The implication to me then, in observing Passover and Unleavened Bread, will be where I place the emphasis in observing each. The feast begins with Passover and ends eight days later at the conclusion of Unleavened Bread. There are really two different “Feasts,” each with a different dialogue.
Passover is a one night event, the observing of a clear dividing line, a demarcation between death and life. It epitomized the difference between the protection offered by a fading mark of blood and the futility of the Egyptian raising in his defense, a protesting sinful hand .
The Israelite firstborn was not without sin, not without culpability, no, he was exempt from judgment because of the promises of God to his forefathers.[8] The lamb’s blood shielded him from death that his feet might be put back on the path of Promise. The consequence of past failures were placed in abeyance because of God’s provision, God’s outstretched hand. This event provides an opportunity for a new beginning. The bonds of slavery are removed. A window of opportunity is opened and must be quickly seized. However, repentance for personal and corporate failings cannot be overlooked.

The night following Passover the Feast of Unleavened Bread is celebrated. This is a seven day event. The emphasis is the absence of all leaven, all sin. It symbolizes the embarking upon the journey of a leavenless, sinless life, ending by faith in the further celebration of a grace-filled successful conclusion. The success of the journey embodies the additional directive to be a blessing to the nations. A daily “offering” is made, a time for Holy Spirit revealing of leaven.

After so many years of observing these feasts I am less inclined to embrace the traditions of the observance and more inclined to let it be a time to draw closer to God that He might draw close to me. I feel it does help my celebration to understand the dynamic of that first event. This is not so much to replicate the event, but to make personal application today from an intimate, spiritual insight into the joys and tragedies of my spiritual forefathers – celebrating the joy and repent and seek forgiveness for the failings..

Endnotes
1 Ex 1:22
2 Is the United States not entering into a like dark period with the increasing legalization of
abortion, even up to birth? Are babies not now being “thrown into the Nile?”
3 Ex 1:8
4 Ex 1:23 …Joseph said unto his brethren, I die; but God will surely visit you, and bring you up out of this land….
5 Ex 47:6
6 Genesis 12:3 I will bless those who bless you, And I will curse him who curses you;
And in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.”
Genesis 18:18…since Abraham shall surely become a great and mighty nation, and all the nations of the earth shall be blessed in him?
Genesis 22:18 In your seed all the nations of the earth shall be blessed, because you have obeyed My voice.”
7 For a more comprehensive development of this theme see http://
missionpossiblepeople.com/blog/ Another Perspective on Observing Passover
8 Ex 12:43 et seq

Another Perspective on Observing Passover

Another Perspective on Observing Passover

“Blasphemy,” you say to consider another way to observe Passover from its 3500 years of tradition. Bear with me, I respect and honor God’s command to observe Passover and Feast of Unleavened Bread, but I believe I have an emphasis on the celebration that should be incorporated into the observance.
Consider that Joseph, a mighty man of God, was in Egypt enjoying the favor of Pharaoh for close to 20 years before he brought his family to Egypt. Consider further, that Joseph and Jacob (the Israelites) enjoyed the favor of Pharaoh1 and the Egyptian people for at least another 70 years until Joseph’s death at 110 years of age.2 It was sometime after Joseph’s death that the Israelites fell out of favor with Pharaoh and then into slavery.

For close to 90 years, beginning with Joseph, there were men and women of God present in the pagan land of Egypt, a land and people ripe for the knowledge of the God of the Israelites. But there seems to be no evidence that this knowledge was being shared.

If my understanding is correct, then it appears to me Joseph and Jacob (the Israelites) all fell short in understanding an important reason for their being in Egypt. They brought with them, to the nation of Egypt, the belief in the power and authority of the One True God, but kept it to themselves.
Perhaps they misunderstood the part of God’s promise to the Patriarchs that His chosen, Abraham’s seed, were to be a blessing to the nations.3 The purpose of the blessing was that those observing and hearing the testimony of this blessed people would seek after a relationship with the God those blessed people served.

God loves His creation. He did not create it for the purpose that He might destroy most of it. Even with Noah He gave His creation plenty of notice to change their ways.

And so with Egypt, He sent His emissaries, the Israelites, to be His witness. He was focusing on turning the greatest nation on earth, at that time, from its pagan ways.
A further underlining of God’s plan for Abraham’s descendants is set forth in Genesis 15:9-13, 17.4 (I suggest you read the footnote.) It is at this time God lays out His vision for Abraham and his descendants with an awesome, graphic demonstration—a diverse sacrifice visited by the flame, smoke and dread of God Himself.

This sacrifice ordered by God is the only place in the Torah where the animals are specified to be three years old. It was with this sacrifice that God affirms His covenant with Abraham. It was here He speaks of the years of bondage, but also opportunity, for Abraham’s future descendants.
Since this is the only time in Torah a three year old sacrifice is specified, I considered what might be the significance of such an event. As the owner of a small flock of sheep, I know that to be able to select three year old animals, you have to have an intimate knowledge of your herd or flock to know the ages of the animals.

Perhaps God is emphasizing His intimate knowledge of His “flock,” His creation. The variety of the sacrifice: heifer, goat, sheep, birds indicated the inclusiveness of the entirety of God’s creation. The specification of female and male indicates the inclusiveness of gender in His plan for Abraham’s descendants.

He underlines His seriousness with palpable dread, fire and smoke much as He would do all those hundreds of years later at Mt Sinai. It was at Sinai that He manifested in fire and smoke before a mixed multitude of native-born, sojourner and gender—heifer, goat, ram, birds as on Abraham’s altar.
God’s heart has always been, that all might be saved. Was is any different toward the Egyptians? Were Joseph and subsequently the Israelites not there on a mission?

The years of bondage in Egypt could, instead, have been years of preeminence. Had the Egyptians turned from their idol worship, God would not have had to make His own case against their false gods with His ten plagues. His promised judgment would have been on an entirely different spiritual basis.
It seems God finally expresses His feeling toward the Egyptians and what could have been the purpose for the Israelites being in Egypt at the crossing of the sea, where He states: “…So I will gain honor over Pharaoh and over all his army, his chariots, and his horsemen. Then the Egyptians shall know that I am the Lord, when I have gained honor for Myself over Pharaoh, his chariots, and his horsemen.”5
The Israelites could have been those whose testimony brought honor to God. The Israelites could have possessed the gates of Egypt, instead of the gates of Egypt imprisoning them. Talk about lost opportunity to change world history.

God told Jacob He would make Israel a GREAT nation in Egypt.6 Maybe it was easier to believe God meant GREAT in number rather than GREAT because of recognition for the God they served. It is much easier to default to the easy way. Had the Israelites chosen a God-honoring GREATNESS, I believe God’s favor would have given them an eminence in the “opened eyes” of the Egyptians. The Israelites would have left Egypt with possessions given from gratitude, rather than of “good riddance.”

Joseph certainly had his opportunity through the favor he was given with Pharaoh. Yet, Joseph’s own descendant through his son Ephraim would reintroduce a false god—the infamous golden calf.7 It seems no coincidence that this future betrayer of the faith fled to Egypt while awaiting his timing. Perhaps Joseph, too, failed at being an effective witness of the mighty God he knew. Perhaps God allowed Joseph to be the forerunner of His witness to the Egyptians.

That was then, what about now? Let me heed my criticism with a little personal application. What is my response to the sin, paganism and idol worship that abounds in the U.S. today? What bondage am I
experiencing—will yet further experience? Am I a convincing witness to the God I serve? Or, will I fall into the same camp as Joseph and Jacob?

Let me observe and celebrate Passover and Feast of Unleavened Bread with a different emphasis than I have in the past. It now becomes an opportunity to repent for my spiritual ancestors’ failings, for my failings to be a more faithful witness. A time not to celebrate the death of an “enemy.” but the grace of God for another chance to share the good news to a corrupt and pagan world.

1 Genesis 47:5-6 …Have your father and your brothers dwell in the best of the land….
2 Genesis 50:26
3 Genesis 22:18
4 Genesis 15:9-13
So He said to him, “Bring Me a three-year-old heifer, a three-year-old female goat, a three-year- old ram, a turtledove, and a young pigeon.” Then he brought all these to Him and cut them in two, down the middle, and placed each piece opposite the other; but he did not cut the birds in two. And when the vultures came down on the carcasses, Abram drove them away.
Now when the sun was going down, a deep sleep fell upon Abram; and behold, horror and great darkness fell upon him. Then He said to Abram: “Know certainly that your descendants will be strangers in a land that is not theirs, and will serve them, and they will afflict them four hundred years.
Genesis 15:17
And it came to pass, when the sun went down and it was dark, that behold, there appeared a smoking oven and a burning torch that passed between those pieces.
5 Exodus 14:17b-18
6 Gen 46:3
7 1Kings 12:28

Feast of Unleavened Bread

Feast of Unleavened Bread

Leviticus 23:4-8
” The Passover and Unleavened Bread
“These are the feasts of the Lord, holy convocations which you shall proclaim at their appointed times. On the fourteenth day of the first month at twilight is the Lord’s Passover. And on the fifteenth day of the same month is the Feast of Unleavened Bread to the Lord; seven days you must eat unleavened bread. On the first day you shall have a holy convocation; you shall do no customary work on it. But you shall offer an offering made by fire to the Lord for seven days. The seventh day shall be a holy convocation; you shall do no customary work on it.’ ”

The clear distinction between the observance of Passover and the Feast of Unleavened Bread as two separate events is established in the above verse in Leviticus. Other references, including the original instructions in Exodus, do not clearly identify the celebration of the historic experience as two different events. The clear separation of the feasts into two separate experiences makes sense to the Messianic. The Passover, where the power of the blood is so clearly the essence of the memorialization, is very precious. It is this powerful symbolism that provides the backdrop for the prophetic appearance of Messiah Yeshua fifteen hundred years later. It is His shed blood that is so clearly the foundation of our salvation—of our being set free from the bondage of slavery—our sin.

Following this foundation of freedom from sin laid by the shed blood comes the seven days of consecration to the leaven-free life—the Feast of Unleavened Bread. It is no surprise that Yahweh choose the number seven for the duration of this feast. This is often called the number of completion. This seven days of leaven-less living can be a metaphor for an individual’s life cycle. We enter our spiritual life cycle being “saved” by the blood. We celebrate each day of the life cycle through “sacrificial” obedience to God, concluding the life cycle with a final celebration. It is interesting that the first and last day of the feast is a Sabbath—a day of rest. The first day we “rest” from our sinful past, with thanksgiving to Father who has given us the day of rest. Finally, the seventh day of our life cycle is likewise a rest—a transition from the cares of this world to the eternal joy of our Creator’s presence.

The scriptures give no clue as to how to observe the Feast of Unleavened Bread, except that it is a “feast” and it is “unleavened.” There is one other hint in the word—a daily burnt offering is to be made for each of the seven days. To me this implies that in the austerity of leaven-free there is an attitude of bringing pleasure to Father. Additionally, it must be observed that each day with the burnt offering there is shedding of the blood of the sacrifice. This involves a continual transfer of the offeror’s spirit into the animal whose blood is then placed on the altar. In the Messianic understanding, we have the indwelling presence of Messiah, His tabernacle and altar is within our heart. Therefore, our offerings are still with the power and authority of the blood, but it is with His shed blood that they are made. The same transfer of our leaven (sin) is to Him and brought under His blood on our altar. The same fragrant aroma of the offering arises to Father. It is not the altar that is important it is the offering.

Speaking of the altar, the first instructions from Yahweh through Moses at Sinai for altar construction were simple: if you use stone—no cut stone! (Ex 20:25) Could that mean we are not to lean to our own understanding in our offerings to Father? Keep it simple—what He wants is the unembellished offering of that what separates us from Him. And He wants our praises of thanksgiving for the provision of the blood that makes those offerings acceptable. But, I digress. Let’s get back to the feast.

How far the Israelites got by the end of the first seven days after leaving Egypt cannot be precisely determined. They probably got underway before sundown on 14 Abib (Nisan). Certainly their first meal of unleavened bread was no sooner than the beginning of 15 Abib, after sundown of the 14th. They had traveled from Ramses to Succoth, maybe as little as 8 miles (Ex 12:37-38), but remember there were hundreds of thousands of people and animals involved. They then proceeded to Etham and from there to the seashore of the Red Sea. To me it would be highly significant if during the first seven days (the prescribed time for the feast) the Israelites experienced the ardors of desert travel, the challenge of the pursuing Egyptians and the triumphant crossing of the sea on dry ground—a symbolic life cycle.

This scenario so depicts our spiritual walk: saved by the blood, embracing the leaven-less lifestyle, experiencing seemingly overwhelming opposition from the enemy and finally crossing into the eternal kingdom on dry ground. This ostensible austere lifestyle is all the while accompanied by Father’s magnificent presence as a pillar of cloud by day and a pillar of flame by night. We only need the spiritual eyes to see His manifesting provision in our day-to-day life.

Rather than suggesting a menu and Haggadah for the feast, let me say it should be festive, celebratory—need I say leaven-free. Encourage, during the meal, spontaneous remarks of testimony of the power of the blood, the revelation of leaven, the power of the cloud and fire, the experience of the daily offering, reflections on the spirit-led life, everything honoring Father in the transpiring of the life cycle is appropriate. This meal should be an extended time of sharing and conviviality.

Of course, the host or designated person, should give instruction, which might include the reading of this article. Opening and closing prayer with affirming prayer and praise for the testimonies given is to be warmly encouraged. This is a celebration of the “escaping” of the bondage of slavery (sin)—the shed blood of Messiah Yeshua is the door opener—enter in with enthusiasm.

Kennedy Brown
Gerizim
April 22, 2016

Passover Considerations–2016

Passover Considerations—2016

We, as Messianics, do not observe the solstice event of Easter as the observance of Messiah Yeshua’s passion. We do observe Passover as being the biblically chronicled time of Messiah’s death. Although we are not commanded by scripture to observe Messiah’s death it is so inextricably linked with Passover and our eternal relation with Creator Yahweh that we cannot ignore the linkage.
It is important to be able to give proper observance to both.

Therefore, it is essential that we understand what is the message of the Feast of Passover. The use of “passover” even in scripture seems at times to merge the two events without always a clearly distinction. The first being the passover by the Death Angel of the houses of the Israelites that were blood identified. The blood that was used came from specially selected lambs that were all slain at the same time. The second event is the Feast of Unleavened Bread. That this observance was to follow the next day after the Passover was not necessarily experientally obvious at the time. However, it immediately became a commanded feast. (Ex 12:1-28 and 13:3-10)

There are likewise two events concerning Messiah Yeshua where the distinction is blurred. The prevalent practice in the Christian church and probably spilling over into Messianic thinking is the magnification of the crucifixion of Messiah. To me it is a subtle but very important distinction that is to be made. Was it the death of Yeshua, Son of God, and His resurrection that is to be the essence of observance or the shedding of the blood of the Lamb of God?

It is here that I see the symbolism of the original Passover as being the clue. In the first observance in Egypt the lamb was slain, but NOT as an altar sacrifice. It was the blood of the lamb that was the source of salvation for the Israelite first born. The lamb was roasted and consumed by those protected by its blood. There is no mention of an altar or offering to Yahweh. The lamb that remained was to be burned and not kept over. This act was a faith statement. Leftovers wouldn’t be needed tomorrow because we had our sandals on, staff in hand and were leaving the bondage of slavery. The symbolism can be further understood as representing Yahweh’s provision for our earthly, physical needs (roasted lamb) as well as our eternal, spiritual wellbeing (the blood of the lamb exempting us from death).

It is interesting that Yeshua said we are to “eat my flesh” (John 6:54) Is He drawing a parallel to the Passover lamb? He also said in the same verse in John, “drink my blood.” Was that a dramatic metaphor for saying to apply His blood to the doorposts and lintel of our hearts? I believe so. God has never suggested human sacrifice. Yes, He asked Abraham to “sacrifice” Isaac, but He did not require it. He provided a ram for the sacrifice. It was a test of faith, of obedience. The Torah specifically speaks against the practice of human sacrifice. (Lev 20:1-5)

It may seem I am splitting hairs in the distinctions I make, but please follow me to understand why I am so desirous of the right emphasis. I do not believe Yahweh sent His Son to be sacrificed. He knew that Yeshua would suffer, that His blood would be shed. Of course, all knowing, He knew he would die. But it was really Sin that took Yeshua’s life. It was not God sacrificing His Son except to the extent He sent Him knowing what the outcome would be, as did Yeshua. It was our sin which required the shedding of the divine, unimpeachable blood for the removal of our sin. No reproach or condemnation can ever question the cleansing of sin washed away in this blood. (Rev 1:5) It was far removed from the shedding of the blood of animals. Without it there could be no assurance of enjoying the holy presence of the Father.

I am not endeavoring to diminish the “sacrifice” of Yeshua in the passion of the last supper, the Garden of Gethsemane, the trial, beatings and piercings, but to reemphasize the shedding of the blood. Had there been no shedding of blood the death of Yeshua would have accomplished nothing in terms of our eternity. His death would have been that of just one more martyr of the faith. The Torah clearly says in Lev 17:11 “it is the blood that makes atonement for the soul.” It is reaffirmed in Hebrews 9:22, “without the shedding of blood there is no remission.” In Rev 1:5 it says, “To Him who loved us and washed us from our sins in His own blood.” The fact of the crucifixion, death and resurrection was certainly a testimony that Yeshua was God come in the flesh, but had His blood not been shed we would still be dead in our sin.

All this to say I feel we must take a different tack, as Messianics, from the Rabbinic view of the Passover observation as a “feast of celebration.” My understanding is that in today’s observance the first night of, while not necessarily requiring the blood of a lamb to be shed, is deeply contemplative. Emphasis is to be on the shed blood and especially the shed blood of the Lamb of God. I see each redeemed believer as first born—blood bought, sanctified and set apart unto Yahweh. Interestingly this 14th day of Abib (Nisan) is not a Sabbath. Do you suppose that means we are never to rest from knowing and acting on who we are in Messiah and the work His blood has done?!

The Feast of Unleavened Bread (FUB) commences the next evening at sundown. This would be after sundown on the 14th which is then the 15th . I believe the daylight of the 14th (that is the daylight hours that follow the passover of the Death Angel) is then for the removing of leaven and meal preparation. We, in practice, actually use all seven days of FUB for leaven removal—not physical leaven but those spiritual ingredients of leaven in our lives. We have taken the Torah instruction to make an offering by fire each of the seven days of FUB (Lev 23:8) to include this discipline. There is no sweeter savor to Father, I’m sure than giving His Spirit opportunity to bring under the blood those things in our lives that would separate us from His presence. As priests and kings the altar in the tabernacle of our spirit (heart) should carry this fragrance to Father. (Rev 1:6)

Sequentially then, first comes the shedding of the blood. The Passover meal is simple so it does not distract from the introspective appreciation of the original exemption in Egypt from death; from the inescapable parallel to our personal encounter with the shed blood of Yeshua. Then, the second event (FUB) is in effect a celebration of freedom from slavery (first in Egypt, then from our individual sin). This is tempered by seven days of spiritual “sacrifice” being placed on the altar of the tabernacle jn our heart. Lastly, comes the final feast on the seventh day—it being a Sabbath-a recognition of the promise of rest in the presence of Yeshua. This rest having been purchased by His blood. The rest being symbolic of a life cycle of leavenless living.

May Yahweh bless you as you explore anew the beauty and depth of Passover.

Kennedy Brown
Gerizim
April 19, 2016

Counting the Omer

Itʼs that season again. This year I finally asked, “What is counting the Omer?” Maybe you havenʼt even heard that expression. In Judaism, it is the term used to count the 50 days between Feast of First Fruits and Feast of Shavuot (Pentecost). It is the time being counted from First Fruits until the celebration of the giving of Torah from Mt. Sinai. In Christianity it is the time between Yeshuaʼs resurrection and the giving of the Holy Spirit. The Messianic embraces and esteems both events–they are Godʼs appointed feasts.

Realizing that counting the omer is related to two feasts: First Fruits and Shavuot (Pentecost or Weeks), it must mean the word, omer, appears in the bibleʼs description of one or both of the feasts. On the contrary, the word doesnʼt appear in either set of verses. God does give specific instruction for calculating the time between the two events, but no mention of omer. So, isnʼt the air alive with curiosity? Please join me as we attempt to solve the riddle of where the saying comes from and why, regardless of what itʼs called it is a time filled with expectation.

The word omer does appear in Exodus 16:36, however, but briefly:

“Now an omer is one- tenth of an ephah”

Even though it is a brief appearance. it is an important clue to understanding how the omer is part of the counting process.  Continue reading Counting the Omer