On Saturday evening, April 7, 2001, Jewish families throughout the world will celebrate the longest continuous religious festival in history.
Passover commemorates the birthnight of the people of Israel. The Jewish people had at that time been slaves for centuries under a series of tyrannical Pharaohs.
God had spoken to the first Hebrew, named Abraham, and promised him that one day his descendants would become a great nation. God also told Abraham that his descendants would be slaves for 400 years, but a Savior would eventually come and deliver them from bondage.
God fulfilled His promise and sent a deliverer, Moses, to set His people free. Through ten miraculous plagues God demonstrated to Pharaoh His awesome power. Pharaoh, though, hardened his heart and refused to let Israel leave Egypt-that is until the final horrific plague.
We have all probably seen the classic movie, The Ten Commandments, and the more recent animated film, The Prince of Egypt. Both films graphically show that final judgment on Egypt called the Death of the Firstborn. God told Moses that a death angel would pass through the land killing every first born child.
The first born of each Jewish family, however, would be protected-but only if the blood from a slain lamb had been applied to the door posts of their home. Then, when the death angel would pass over, the first born would be saved from death.
So what does this ancient command have to do with Jesus' death some 1500 years later? Let me explain.
Here is the exact wording of the Old Covenant (Old Testament) instruction to Moses (Exod. 12:22,23): "Take a bunch of hyssop, dip it into the blood in the basin and put some of the blood on the top and on both sides of the doorframe. Not one of you shall go out the door of his house until morning "When the LORD goes through the land to strike down the Egyptians, he will see the blood on the top and sides of the doorframe and will pass over that doorway, and he will not permit the destroyer to enter your houses and strike you down."
Carefully note the prescribed way in which the blood was to be applied to the doorposts. As the blood in the basin (at the front of the door) was lifted up to touch the top of the door and then across to touch the sides of the door, the arm movement made the sign of a cross!
Jesus celebrated his own Last Supper (or what should be called his Last Seder). Luke records Jesus' statement in the New Testament (22:19,20): "And he took matzah, gave thanks, broke it, and gave it to his disciples, saying, This is my body given for you; do this in remembrance of me. In the same way, after the seder meal, he took the third cup saying, This cup is the New Covenant in my blood, which is poured out for you."
Jesus gave the true meaning of Passover by taking the traditional third cup of redemption/blessing and predicted his own sacrificial death. The amazing thing is that Moses, 1500 years earlier, gave instructions that foreshadowed the Messiah's death on a cross!
2000 years ago God provided a way for both the Jewish people and gentiles to cross over from sin and spiritual death to forgiveness and eternal life! At this Passover, why not ask God to bring salvation to you and your family through faith in the Messiah Jesus and his atoning blood?
Graphic from Christ in the Passover, Ceil and Moshe Rosen, Moody Press, 1978.
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