Toward a Better Understanding of Passover
by: Tim Kelley
It has been my intention for quite some time to write an article about my thoughts concerning when the followers of YHVH - the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob - should observe Passover. This has been a topic of great discussion for many years, and for many believers, it is still an un-resolved problem.
I was baptized in 1979 and for 16 years observed Passover in accordance to what our church taught. During that time I heard a number of sermons leading up to the spring festival season, many of which dealt with Passover timing issues. Though I was not paying much attention back then, there must have been questions about the church's teachings all along, thus all the sermons. What opened my eyes to the fact that there was a problem is when I was listening to yet another sermon about the timing of Passover, and as the preacher quoted -
KJV Leviticus 23:5 In the fourteenth day of the first month at even is the LORD'S passover.
I just happened to look at the notes in my study bible and saw that it said "literally 'between the evenings'; 3-5 PM". "That's interesting" I thought, then it came to mind that the preacher had just mentioned that Jesus had died at about 3PM. Again I thought "If Jesus died about 3 PM on the 14th, why are we observing Passover before He died?". At that point, I decided to study into it a little more to see what I could find. I remembered that the church had taught a number of things about the timing of Passover and why the "New Testament Passover" was not the same as the (I guess you'd call it) the "Old Testament Passover". Some of the explanations that were given included -
- the Jews lost the timing of Passover while in Babylon
- the Jews were a day off
- the Jews changed the Passover
- Christ changed the Passover
I began to question these explanations because the church also taught that "not one jot or tiddle would pass from the law", that "Jesus is the God of the Old Testament", and that Jesus was "the same, yesterday, today, and forever". One thing they also taught was that Jesus was also a Jew - born to Jewish parents, and that He never broke the Law. So if Jesus is the God of the Old Testament, and He never changes - why did He change the Passover? And if Jesus was a Jew, and His parents were Jews, and the Jews were keeping the Passover on the wrong day, did He keep Passover wrong all the years He kept it? Hmmmmmmm . . . something doesn't add up here!
To make a long story short, I did some studying and came upon some Passover timing tapes by Jim Rector, a person who up to this time I had not heard of. I listened to his tapes and was excited. It seemed to make sense. A little later Jim sent me a written copy of his intense studies on Passover, which I devoured! I came to see the error in my previous beliefs and now observe Passover differently.
In my estimation, the problem people have when trying to figure this out is because of two things -
- They want to put Jesus at a Passover table on the evening before His crucifixion and thus base their timing on their assumption instead of looking at what the Law says about the timing of Passover. If they would first establish the timing according to the Law - the Torah, then the other things will eventually fall into place.
- They are willing to believe that an unchanging God actually did change in regards to the timing of the Passover. In my opinion, a god that changes is like the Greek gods who always changed.
NKJ Malachi 3:6 "For I am the LORD, I do not change; Therefore you are not consumed, O sons of Jacob.
After getting past these hurdles, it's easy to understand Passover, and as we grow "Hebraically" in our understanding, we can have more confidence in the fact that YHVH does not change, and thus we can really believe that He will "never leave or forsake us".
So, as I said earlier, I had hoped to be able to write an article about this topic. After going back over my notes and looking at some previous articles, I decided that there was already plenty of information out there for those who are interested, and since Jim Rector's article was so well written and documented, there was no need to "re-invent the wheel". Instead, I called Jim's widow (he died in March 2006) and got her permission to publish his article on the Ami Yisrael web site, along with a few clearly delineated comments.
Jim's article is published in its entirety. It iss very long, so I put it on separate pages according to topics which are based on his titles. Hopefully, this will make it easier to read. I hope you gain understanding from it as I did.