Thursday, April 2, 2009

Passover, or Easter?

I'm sure most of us are aware that we are coming upon two "holidays" - Passover and Easter. One will be largely celebrated by the Jewish population of the world, along with some Christians, and the other will be celebrated by Christians, and those of some of the various Pagan religions (for example, note this online pagan calender, where Easter is listed as one of the holidays on the calender. It must be noted that there are many, many pagan religious groups, so there is not just one, uniform calender.).

In Genesis 1:14 we read the following: "And God said, Let there be lights in the firmament of the heaven to divide the day from the night; and let them be for signs, and for seasons, and for days, and years."

Let's look at this for a minute. The Hebrew word for "signs" in this verse is 'oth' and it means: sign, signal, a distinguishing, mark, banner, remembrance, miraculous, sign, omen, warning.

Next we have "seasons" which is the word 'mo'ed' which means: appointed place, appointed time, meeting, sacred season, set feast, appointed season.

The last two, "days" and "years" are 'yom' and 'shaneh' respectively, which can mean "time" in a more generic sense, but for the most part simply mean "days" and "years."

I want to focus specifically on the word 'mo'ed', translated "seasons" in the verse, for it is this same word that is used in Leviticus ch. 23 when God is giving the "feasts of the LORD" as the King James puts it. Here the word "mo'ed" is translated "feasts." If you take the time to read Leviticus 23, God calls the feasts that are listed, the "feasts of the LORD." In other words, they are HIS feasts. If you recall (from the definition above, taken from BrownsDriverBriggs Lexicon - Strong's will give you the same definitions), the word "mo'ed" means appointed time, place, meeting, etc. These "feasts" given by God are his "appointments" to meet with His people. He gave them to Israel after He delivered them from their bondage in Egypt, and took them as His people.

The "mo'edim" (plural of mo'ed') of Leviticus 23 are known as the 7 feasts typically (Passover, Firstfruits, Unleavened Bread, Feast of Weeks, Feast of Trumpets, Day of Atonement and Feast of Tabernacles) although the sabbath is listed first, so technically there are 8 "appointments" listed. Of these, I want to focus on Passover, since this is the "season" were are currently in, and share why Christians should be celebrating Passover, not Easter.

I'm going to keep this simple, so I'm not going to go through a long explanation of the Passover. However most, if not all Christians are aware that Jesus fulfilled this feast, being Himself the Passover lamb. In John 1:29 we read: "The next day John seeth Jesus coming unto him, and saith, Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world." I want to note that in the bible, to "fulfill" does not mean to do once and then it is never to be done again. Let me give an example. If you were to buy a coffee mug, the purpose of the mug is to drink coffee out of it. Usually people don't buy a coffee mug, drink coffee from it one time, and then throw it away. The mug was made for drinking coffee. Every time you drink coffee from the mug, it has "fulfilled" it's purpose. It has multiple "fulfillment's." Many biblical prophecies work this way. For example, when Jesus' parents fled Bethlehem to Egypt to flee Herod, they later returned to Israel, going up to Nazareth. Matthew tells us ( In Matt. 2:15) "And was there until the death of Herod: that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet, saying, Out of Egypt have I called my son" (emphasis mine). Matthew was quoting from Hosea 11:1, where it is written "When Israel [was] a child, then I loved him, and called my son out of Egypt." Notice that Hosea was speaking about Israel's deliverance from Egypt, yet Matthew claims that when Jesus' parents left Egypt to return to Israel, Hosea's statement was fulfilled. Earlier, in Genesis, we see that Abraham goes down into Egypt for a time, and then returns to the land of Canaan. Isaac, Abraham's son does the same thing. Abraham and Isaac were the "Fathers" of Israel. So we see the pattern of "Israel" coming out of Egypt - multiple fulfillment's.

Jesus was crucified on Passover, and three days later, exactly on the feast of Firstfruits, He rose from the dead at the same time that the priests in the Temple were waving the firstfruit grain offering before the LORD. The feasts (remember mo'edim - appointments) were and are the pictures of our Messiah.

Today, most Christians celebrate Easter as the resurrection of Jesus. There are several problems with this. First, and most importantly, where do we find Easter being celebrated in the bible by the followers of Jesus? I thought we were people that believed "sola scriptura" (scripture alone)! Second, Easter has Pagan origins that can easily be confirmed by consulting many available Encyclopedia's. Why are we mixing our celebration of Jesus' resurrection with Pagan religious holidays? And third, God already gave us a day to celebrate Jesus' resurrection in His word - the feast of Firstfruits! We see this feast connected to Jesus by Paul in the New Testament in 1 Corinthians 15, the "resurrection" chapter: "But now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the firstfruits of them that slept... for as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive. But every man in his own order: Christ the firstfruits; afterward they that are Christ's at his coming." 1 Cor. 15:20,23 - emphasis mine. Firstfruits is celebrated, indeed integrated, into the Passover celebration. Paul tells us in 1 Corinthians 5:7-8 that we should "keep the feast" of Passover, in remembrance of Jesus. He gets this from Jesus Himself when Jesus took the unleavened bread of the Passover meal that He shared with His disciples, and said "...This is my body which is given for you: this do in remembrance of me." Luke 22:19. When He said "this do in remembrance of Me" what was He talking about? He was talking about the unleavened bread of the Passover. Just before He broke the bread, He told His disciples the following: "With desire I have desired to eat this passover with you before I suffer: For I say unto you, I will not any more eat thereof, until it be fulfilled in the kingdom of God." Luke 22:15,16. Someday we are going to eat the Passover meal with Jesus in His kingdom, for He said He would not eat it again until it be fulfilled in the kingdom. Do we ever read of Him eating it again with His disciples? No, but He will eat it with us in His Millennial kingdom. The "cup" that He shared with His disciples was one of the cups of the Passover Seder meal. He tells us that it is the "cup of the New Covenant in [His] blood which is shed for [us]." Luke 22:20. So Jesus tells us that we are to participate in the Passover meal in "remembrance" of Him. Paul tells us to keep the Passover in Remembrance of Jesus.

The "appointments" of Passover, Unleavened Bread, and Firstfruits were given by God in His word. Often when we write papers, we first give an outline. God gave us His redemptive and prophetic outline in His feasts. Jesus not only fulfilled them, He told us to do them in remembrance of Him. Paul told us the same thing. So why are most Christians celebrating Easter, a holiday that has Pagan connections, and often does not even occur at the same time as Passover (sometimes it occurs before Passover - how on earth can we celebrate His resurrection before He even died, chronologically speaking?)? In fact, one of the practices involved in the Easter celebration is the sunrise service. This is reminiscent of the Pagan celebration of facing the East as the sun rises in celebration of it. We see a picture of this in Ezekiel chapter 8 (specifically vs. 16).

Please understand that I do not intend to judge or condemn anyone. The practice of celebrating Easter/Resurrection Sunday is well intentioned by Christians. My desire is to teach and tell others what I am learning, and to call us all back to the bible. Let's see what the bible says, and follow it. And the bible gives us the feasts of the LORD. If we are followers of Jesus, shouldn't we celebrate the feasts that speak of Him (they are literally the shadows of Messiah - in other words, when we celebrate the feasts as His people, we are forming a picture of Him and His work of redemption and salvation on earth)?

Lastly, God's appointments have prophetic implications. They are not only commemorative, they are predictive, and explanatory of what is to come. Shouldn't we be celebrating that which is biblical, fulfilled by our Savior, and demonstrative of what's to come?

May you be blessed in Jesus our Messiah, and may you continue to grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ, our Passover Lamb. Hallelujah!

B.T.W. - If you would like a resource to read that does a good job of explaining the feasts, is simple to read, and a good place to start, I would recommend a book by Valerie Moody called "The Feasts of Adonai" (pictured at the top) which I believe is available at her website or you can get it God's Learning Channel bookstore.


No comments: