Toward a Better Understanding of Passover
Part 13 - Let Us Keep the Feast!
by: Jim Rector
Today we do not sacrifice the Passover lamb anymore. There is no Temple in Jerusalem; there is no priestly system or Levitical order. But, indeed, our Passover Lamb, Yahshua Messiah, has already been slain once for all.The Scriptures are specific on this point.Paul wrote:
“For even Christ our Passover is sacrificed for us,. Therefore, let us KEEP THE FEAST” (I Cor. 5:7-8).
What took place at 3 PM on the 14th day of Nisan has already been accomplished. What remains for true believers now is to KEEP THE FEAST! And please remember that the Passover is called a feast (Ex. 12:14). Think about that for a moment. In the past, has this really been taught and practiced–that the Passover is a feast? That certainly has not been my experience. It has been nothing short of a mere ritual, much more akin to a Roman Catholic Mass than a feast to the Eternal God! The Days of Unleavened Bread commenced with the celebration and eating of the Passover which had been slain earlier on the afternoon of the 14th day. Notice how perfectly this pattern fits in with the spiritual aspects for believers today.
Israel did indeed choose out their lambs on the 10th day. They definitely kept them separate until the 14th day. They fed them and cared for them during that time. But no matter what transpired, they could not eat of the lamb UNTIL IT WAS SLAIN!! Everything that came before that event was only preliminary. It was the slaying of the lamb that was the key event. It was the blood of the lamb that covered them. And it is an absolute fact that they could not partake of the lamb until after these things were done.
It is the very same in the Spirit. Just as Israel could not eat the Passover until after it was killed, neither can we partake of the ultimate Passover Lamb, Yahshua, until AFTER He is slain. When did He die? This now becomes crucial information! It is remarkable that God saw fit to include the precise time when His Son was hung on the tree (9 AM - Mark 15:25 - And it was the third hour, and they crucified Him), and the exact moment of His actual death as well (3 PM - Mark 15:34 - And at the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice . . . ).
Why was it important that these times be specifically noted? The third hour or 9 AM was the period known as between the two mornings. Another way of saying that would be mid-morning, meaning that this was the time between the first morning, which occurred at sunrise, and the second morning, which ended at noon.
It was at this third hour that the daily morning sacrifice was offered. In like manner, the ninth hour or 3 PM was the time known as between the two evenings, meaning that this period fell between the first evening, which began at noon (the point in the sky at which the sun begins it downward descent), and the second evening, which concluded at sunset. It was at this 9th hour that the daily evening sacrifice was offered. The only exception to this last rule was on the day of Passover. When that occurred, the evening sacrifice was offered first, and then the Passover offering was made.
So we see clearly that by being hung on the cross at 9 AM and expiring at 3 PM on the 14th day, the Messiah perfectly fulfilled both the daily sacrifices and the Passover offering. This could be accomplished only by the hand of God, and it is the most powerful, convincing proof of the timing and meaning of the Passover sacrifice, both Old and New Testament.
The Passover is a memorial of something very specific – a showing forth of our Savior’s DEATH, not His last meal or His last prayer or His arrest or His trial. We are to partake of the Passover in remembrance of Christ and what He did for us. He became our sacrificial lamb. For 1500 years, God had laid out a pattern that foreshadowed the death of His Son for the sins of the world. Yahshua came and completely fulfilled that pattern by dying at precisely the time when the physical Passover lambs were slain. Are we now to assume that the spiritual patterns are going to be changed? Not at all.
There is absolutely no reason whatsoever to alter the time when we keep this memorial, because the Messiah died at right moment, thus the pattern remains intact. Just as the original Passover was orchestrated so that the observance was to follow the slaying of the physical lamb and the application of its blood, so we today should celebrate Passover AFTER our Savior died, not before! One does not keep a memorial before the time of the event being memorialized. We are to commemorate Christ’s DEATH. He died at 3 PM on the 14th day. The memorial therefore must follow that strategic event.
Nothing need be changed in the patterns God established. In ancient Israel, the Passover lambs were slain around 3 PM on the afternoon of the 14th of Nisan. Yahshua, the true Passover Lamb, died on the cross at 3 PM on the 14th day. After the physical lambs had been slain, the blood was cast upon the altar. Our Savior’s blood was shed as a covering and atonement for our sins. The physical lambs were then prepared in the late afternoon of the 14th day, just as Christ’s body was prepared for burial at the same time of the day. Finally, in ancient Israel, the people gathered together to partake of the Passover meal, eating with it unleavened bread, because the high Sabbath of Unleavened Bread had arrived. In like manner, we too eat of our true Passover as the Days of Unleavened Bread begin on the 15th day of the first month.