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The True Significance of the Passover
With the Jewish Passover coming up, this weeks Bible in the News looks at its true significance
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March 7, 2013 - Audio, 14.00 MIN
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Shabbat HaGadol - Coming up on Saturday the 23rd of March, will be, according to the Hebrew calendar, the 27th day of the month of Adar. This is the last Shabbat (or sabbath) before the Jews celebrate the Passover and is considered a special Shabbat, called "Shabbat Hagadol" (the Great Sabbath). Hello, this is Matt Davies joining you once again.
The passover is a feast of remembrance of an event which took place approximately 3300 years ago and is a living testimony to the truth of the events we find in the Bible.

The children of Israel had been made slaves in Egypt and been treated bitterly by the Pharaoh of the time. Yahweh the God of Israel had prepared Moses for the special work of leading his people out of Egypt. Moses had been told by God to bring judgment upon the Egyptians in the form of nine plagues which God performed for two reasons:

1. “God's name of Yahweh would be declared throughout all the earth.” Exodus 9:14-16, Exodus 10:1-2
2. To show the uselessness of the pagan gods of Egypt - Exodus 12:12, Numbers 33:4

Before each plague the Egyptians were warned that if they did not allow the children of Israel to leave, then the judgment would come upon them. But the warnings of Moses were not heeded and plague after plague was inflicted upon the then super power of the day Egypt.

Before the tenth and final judgment plague was to be performed by God - through His angel of death, the Jewish people were to eat a special "Passover" meal.

This event occurred on the 15th day of the month Nisan. This year the Passover falls on the date of Mon, 25 March 2013 at sundown.

The Events of the Passover meal
We read about the passover meal in Exodus chapter 12 where God tells Moses to proclaim this feast to Israel:

"This month shall be unto you the beginning of months: it shall be the first month of the year to you. Speak ye unto all the congregation of Israel, saying, In the tenth day of this month they shall take to them every man a lamb, according to the house of their fathers, a lamb for an house: And if the household be too little for the lamb, let him and his neighbour next unto his house take it according to the number of the souls; every man according to his eating shall make your count for the lamb. Your lamb shall be without blemish, a male of the first year: ye shall take it out from the sheep, or from the goats: And ye shall keep it up until the fourteenth day of the same month: and the whole assembly of the congregation of Israel shall kill it in the evening. And they shall take of the blood, and strike it on the two side posts and on the upper door post of the houses, wherein they shall eat it. And they shall eat the flesh in that night, roast with fire, and unleavened bread; and with bitter herbs they shall eat it. Eat not of it raw, nor sodden at all with water, but roast with fire; his head with his legs, and with the purtenance thereof. And ye shall let nothing of it remain until the morning; and that which remaineth of it until the morning ye shall burn with fire. And thus shall ye eat it; with your loins girded, your shoes on your feet, and your staff in your hand; and ye shall eat it in haste: it is the LORD’S passover. For I will pass through the land of Egypt this night, and will smite all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, both man and beast; and against all the gods of Egypt I will execute judgment: I am the LORD. And the blood shall be to you for a token upon the houses where ye are: and when I see the blood, I will pass over you, and the plague shall not be upon you to destroy you, when I smite the land of Egypt. And this day shall be unto you for a memorial; and ye shall keep it a feast to the LORD throughout your generations; ye shall keep it a feast by an ordinance for ever." Exodus 12:2-14

On that fateful night the Jews gathered into their houses to partake of this feast. On that fateful day around 3300

The law of Moses records that this feast was to be marked every year from that point onwards "a feast to Yahweh throughout your generations...". This event truly is an amazing piece of evidence to the truth of the Bible -  as it is a powerful link to the past. Why else would thousands of people spanning hundreds of generations mark such an occasion such as the Passover?

However, there is more to this than simply the marking of an amazing series of events and the freeing of Israel. It is the inspired apostle Paul who tells us that "the law was a schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ" Galatians 3:24. Therefore by examining the principles involved in the Passover, we can see the role of Messiah, the Lord Jesus Christ and draw lessons for ourselves.

The Passover lamb - a symbol of the work of Christ
In the Passover, the unblemished lamb is slain. Its blood saves the house from suffering from death. This lamb pointed to the work of redemption wrought by the Lord Jesus Christ - who died as a sacrificial representative of all those who associate themselves with him.

We read of this in 1 Cor 5:7 "Christ our passover is sacrificed for us". It is John the baptist who - when he saw Jesus - said "Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world." (John 1:29).

By bearing the same nature as us and being "in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin."  (Hebrews 4:15 see also 9:28, Romans 8:3 and 2 Cor 5:21) the Lord Jesus Christ was indeed an unblemished lamb who overcame the temptations of sin to fulfil perfectly the will of his Father and who voluntarily laid down his life as a sacrifice for sin.

Because Jesus had not committed any sin he was raised from the dead by God and his mortal, sin cursed nature was removed and eternal life was given to him. The amazing thing is that the Bible teaches that those who associate themselves with Christ's sacrifice can also have the hope of resurrection and have their human nature removed and in its place, eternal spirit nature given to them when Jesus Christ returns:

"For our way of life is in heaven; from whence also we look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ: Who shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto his glorious body, according to the working whereby he is able even to subdue all things unto himself." Philippines 3:20-21

It is through this sacrifice, Paul says, that those "who sometimes were far off are made nigh by the blood of Christ." (Ephesians 2:13). Before Christ, a person was symbolically in Egypt - in bondage to sin and death but now baptised they have left Egypt and are on their way to the promised land through the blood of the Passover lamb, Christ.

But how does a person become associated with the blood of Christ? Well initially it is through belief in the gospel and baptism into Christ (Mark 16:16). Through the act of baptism into Christ, a believer is said to have "put on Christ" or is "covered" by his work of redemption and becomes associated with the promises God made to the fathers of Israel (Galatians 3:27-29). These promises speak of an eternal inheritance on the earth. It is Christ's sacrifice which allows a person to have righteousness imputed to them (Romans 4:23 and 5:19) where otherwise righteousness would not be (e.g. in their natural state) and gives them hope of salvation through the mercy of God.

The inspired Peter tells us:
"Forasmuch as ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold... But with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot:" 1 Peter 1:18-19

What a marvellous meaning then we find in the Passover lamb, as it points us, like a schoolmaster, to the work of the Lord Jesus Christ.

The significance of other details
There are other aspects of the feast which are worth briefly considering as well - as many lessons are held within them.

• The house signifies the ecclesia or community of believers (Hebrews 3:6 and 1 Peter 2:5)
• The unleavened bread signifies sincerity and truth (1 Cor 5:7)
• The bitter herbs signify the struggle with sin and the judgments of God (Lam 3:15, Hebrews 12:15)
• The readiness in which the feast was eaten signifies the state of constant readiness for the day of deliverance that believers should be in (Luke 12:35,  Ephesians 6:13-15)

Shabbat HaGadol Mevorach
So as the Jewish world looks towards the Passover by marking the last Shabbat before that event, we look for the greater work of salvation which will be wrought through the work of the Lord Jesus Christ when he returns to the earth, "then he shall reward every man according to his works" (Matthew 16:27) for "many of them that sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt." (Daniel 12:2).

We shall end this weeks Bible in the news with the special greeting of Shabbat Hagadol:
"Shabbat haGadol mevorach" - a blessed great Shabbat. Indeed what a blessing the Shabbat (or the "rest" as the word shabbat means) of the age to come will be. This has been Matt Davies joining you for another Bible in the news.

"Shabbat haGadol mevorach"

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