Last month, we learned that God reveals His plan of salvation for mankind in His commanded holy days. The first step in that plan is shown in the observance of the Passover. The world around us is filled with sin and evil of every kind, and it has been that way since Adam and Eve disobeyed God's command not to eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. For God to fulfill His plan of reproducing Himself, He had to provide a way to redeem man from his sinful condition and implement a means of forgiveness.
God is holy and will not tolerate sin in any form, even in human beings. Because He will not allow sinful people into His Kingdom, humans must be "justified." By this, God forgives a person's sins, brings him into a right relationship with Himself and imputes Christ's righteousness to him. Only after being forgiven can people take the additional steps of character development and overcoming to qualify to enter the Kingdom of God. Our annual keeping of the Passover reminds us of this initial step in fulfilling the plan of God.
1. When God called the children of Israel out of Egypt, did He have to show them when the year began? Exodus 12:1-2.
Comment: During their long sojourn in Egypt, the Israelites lost track of time—they even forgot which day was the Sabbath! God had to show Israel when His year began so that they could begin observing His holy days. Israel's calling out of Egypt symbolizes God calling us out of this evil world.
2. Is Passover one of God's festivals? Leviticus 23:4-5.
Comment: Passover is a feast of the LORD , not a feast of Israel or the Jews! He instituted it and commands us to keep it.
3. How was Israel to observe the Passover? Exodus 12:3-11.
Comment: God told each Israelite family to choose an unblemished lamb on the 10th day of the month Abib. On the 14th day at twilight (just after sundown as the 14th began), they killed the lamb, putting its blood on the doorpost and lintel of their homes. Then they roasted and ate the lamb.
4. Why did they put the blood on their doorposts and lintels? Exodus 12:12-13.
Comment: The blood was a sign to the death angel to "pass over" their homes when it went through Egypt. Because of it, Israel's firstborn were saved, while Egypt's firstborn died.
Comment: These yearly rituals represented the death of Jesus Christ, who was God in the flesh. The innocent lamb had to be without blemish because it represented the only Man who ever lived a perfect, sinless life. Jesus Christ was the Lamb of God who gave His life and shed His blood so that we may be saved from eternal death by paying the penalty for our sins. Through faith in His sacrifice, we receive forgiveness of sin and come into a right relationship with God. Because His life was worth more than all human life combined, His sacrifice paid the price for all sin. He redeemed us from the penalty that the breaking of God's law imposes and freed us to live righteously.
Comment: Our Savior was crucified in the early afternoon of the day of the Passover. This further confirms He was the One who was to give His life as a ransom for many. Even to the very day, He completely fulfilled the symbolism of the lamb.
Comment: Jesus kept the Passover as a man because God had commanded it as a festival. In this, He set us a perfect example, showing us that we should observe this festival too.
8. Are New Testament Christians commanded to keep the Passover? I Corinthians 5:7-8.
Comment: The apostle Paul instructed the Corinthian Christians to observe the Passover as a memorial of the death of Christ, our Passover, who was sacrificed for us.
9. What did Jesus teach is the first step in observing the New Testament Passover? John 13:1-5, 14-15.
Comment: While His disciples ate the Passover meal, Jesus arose and washed the disciples' feet. Considered a very lowly responsibility in that culture, footwashing was performed by servants when visitors entered a house. By performing this act of humility, Jesus showed us how we should serve each other. He commands Christians everywhere and throughout all ages to follow His example.
Comment: Jesus told His disciples to partake of unleavened bread and wine during the New Testament Passover service. Through this command, He charged His followers to observe it as a memorial of His death for all time. Since Christ's death completely fulfilled the symbolism of killing a lamb, we no longer need to slaughter a lamb in keeping the Passover.
11. Must all converted Christians observe the New Testament Passover every year? John 6:48, 51-54.
Comment: Unless we eat His flesh (represented by the unleavened bread) and drink His blood (symbolized by the wine), we have no life in us and will not inherit eternal life! How vital it is for us to keep the Passover every year!
12. Did the New Testament church of God continue to keep the Passover yearly? Acts 12:4.
Comment: Some translations grossly mistranslate the Greek word pascha as "Easter." It always means "Passover."
13. Did the apostles teach the Gentiles to observe the Passover? I Corinthians 11:23-26.
Comment: The apostle Paul carefully taught the Gentile Corinthians to keep the Passover using the symbols of bread and wine that Jesus had instituted. These scriptures teach us to keep the Passover "till He comes," and the true church of God will still be observing the Passover as He commanded. All those who have accepted His redemption eagerly anticipate His return to share the eternal life He makes possible by His sacrifice!
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