The slaying of the Passover lamb was just one ceremony associated with Passover. 1 Thes 5.1 says, “Now as to the times and the seasons, brethren, you have no need for anything to be written to you.” The word “times” refers to the festivals of God, called the “Moedim” or “appointed times” and the word “seasons” refers to the festivals “seasons” like the time of Teshuvah (Elul 1 to Tishri 10); Passover to Shavuot, which we will discuss when we talk about the ceremonies at Shavuot; Tishri 1 to Tishri 10 which is called the “Yamim Noraim” or the “days of awe”; and the overall festival season from Passover to Shemini Azreret (“eighth day” or “conclusion”) of Sukkot, so the fall festival seasons are alluded to also. Paul says that the Thessalonians have already been taught about the moedim and the seasons. The believers in the first century knew the festivals and their applications according to the “tavnit” or pattern of God. They knew all the phrases, concepts and idioms associated with these festivals also. God’s eschatology was tied up in these festivals and seasons.
We have talked about just one ceremony of Passover, but there is more. The festival of Hag ha Matzah (Unleavened Bread) was a time to get all the leaven out of the house. This festival started on Tishri 15 and ended on Tishri 21, seven days. At the beginning of Hag ha Matzah there is a ceremony called Bedikat Chametz ceremony which involves the casting out of all leaven out of the houses of the people and then burned. This was to be done by the afternoon of Passover. Yeshua actually did this when he cast out the moneychangers from the Temple around Passover on several occasions (John 2.13; Matt 21.12).
In the Temple, there was a unique way to let the people know the time had come for all the leaven to be out of their homes and when it had to be burned. On Nisan 13, there were two loaves of barley set on the roof of the Portico for all to see. On Nisan 14 about the time of the morning Tamid service (9 am) they took away one of the loaves. You will recognize this as the time that Yeshua was put on the cross. This meant that it was time to get the leaven out of the house. Later that day the second loaf was removed and that signaled that the leaven was to be burned. When Yeshua said in Luke 22.8 “Go and prepare the Passover (the lamb) for us that we may eat it” involved this ceremony. Those charged with this task had to find the room to have the Passover meal, de-leaven the room and burn whatever leaven that was found on the 14th of Nisan. What they did not know or understand was, Yeshua was not going to be with him because he was going to arrested later that night and be on the cross when this was to be done. This is a time consuming job and done before the lamb was slain.
Luke 22.7 says literally “Was coming the day of Unleavened Bread on which the Passover had to be sacrificed.” That means this was Nisan 13 and that night would be the beginning of Nisan 14. Not only did the people in Luke 22.8 need to de-leaven the room and burn the leaven found, they had to go to the Temple and slay the lamb, arrange for tables, cushions, eating utensils, water, wine, bitter herbs, matzah and other things so that they were ready by the night of Nisan 14. As you can see, there is more to eating a Passover than one might think. The meal that is recorded in the Gospels was the “last meal” or “supper” before Passover and Unleavened Bread.
The Bedikat Chamtez ceremony went like this. The head of the house will leave ten pieces of leaven scattered around the house (he had to keep track of the pieces). He will take a feather, a candle, a wooden spoon and a cloth and searches the house with his family. He searches the house with the candle and if he finds leaven, he sweeps the leaven onto the spoon with the feather. After the search is over, he places the leaven, spoon and feather into the cloth. He declares that if there is any leaven left in his house that it be nullified because he has done everything he can to remove it. The next morning all of this is burnt.
Here are the spiritual applications. Usually, but not always, chametz (leaven) symbolizes sin. It can also symbolize teaching, the Kingdom of God and the Ruach ha Kodesh (Holy Spirit). In this case, the leaven symbolizes sin. The candle symbolizes the Word of God because it is a “lamp unto our feet” that shows us what sin is. It is the “light.” The Ruach ha Kodesh is the only one that can reveal sin and remove it, and he is symbolized by the feather. Sin needs to be dealt with. The wooden spoon is the cross that carried away sin. The cloth symbolizes the “death shroud of sin” and it is buried and burned, turned to ashes and destroyed.
Everything associated with the Temple and the festivals is a blueprint, a treasure map revealing the truth of the Lord and the plan of God.
The waving (tenufa) of the Omer at Hag ha Bikkurim (festival of First Fruits) is another ceremony associated with Passover. On the first day of the week after Passover comes the festival of First Fruits. You can eat barley from the previous year till First Fruits, but you cannot eat the new barley until after the Omer is waved before God. On the “morrow after the Sabbath” (the seventh day Sabbath after Passover), the kohanim went out “very early” to a special field where barley was grown. The barley had to be green for this to happen, so that is why the month of Nisan could not begin until this barley was green enough. The word “Aviv” is the Hebrew name for Nisan and it means “green ear.” You cannot declare the new moon valid to begin Nisan until this barley was green. This field of barley was supervised by the kohanim. They will have an elaborate ceremony when cutting the barley stalks down and “plucked up.” They cut it, winnowed it, beat it, rubbed it and put into a Temple vessel of brass. It had holes in it and the kernals were scorched. Then it is passed through 13 sieves, which each sieve getting smaller and smaller until you had fine flour. This was called the “Omer” and an omer is one tenth of an ephah. That translates to about two and half quarts of flour. This is waved in what is called a “tenufa” before the Lord in the Temple. A “tenufa” is done like this. A kohen stands before the Lord on the east or west side of the Altar. He turns to the north, south, east and west, up and down three times in each direction. This is the First Fruits. The final step was to take out a handful of flour from the Omer in what is called a Komitza, and places it on a fire on the Altar. This was followed by the bringing of a single sheep as a Korban Olah. From this point on, grain from the new harvest can be eaten.
What are some of the spiritual applications? This ceremony is going to be a picture of the resurrection. At the very time the priests were going out very early on the first day of the week and “plucked” up the barley, Yeshua rose from the dead very early and he plucked up people from the ground (Matt 27.52-53). They were raised after Yeshua because he was the “first fruits” or the Omer. In 1 Cor 15, Paul does a midrash on this very subject. 1 Cor 15.20 he says that Yeshua was the Omer (“first fruits of those who are asleep”) and then he says that each will rise, each in his own order (there is an arranged order). This refers to the counting of the Omer to Shavuot. Ultimately, this will lead to his teaching in 1 Cor 15.50-52 on the Natzal, the catching away of the believers “at the last trump” which is an idiom for Yom Teruah, or Rosh ha Shannah on Tishri 1. Yeshua went to the Temple in Heaven later that day and presented himself as the First Fruits of the First Resurrection, along with those raised after him. They were the evidence of the coming resurrection.
In Exo 12.1-13 we have the instruction concerning the eating of the Passover meal. It will emphasize that each person should take a lamb for himself and his house. You could only have a lamb in Jerusalem (Deut 16.1-5) and it also says that if a household was to small you could join another house. The custom was that you had to have at least ten people and no more than twenty. You could not just go to a Passover meal. By the first century you would go to a court (Beit Din) and registered. The Passover meal was restricted as to who went (10-20) because you could only have two animals at the most to eat. If there was 10-15 people at the meal, you had one lamb. However, if there was going to be 15-20 people, you could have a second festival offering called the Chagigah. This would come from the sheep or the goats. The Chagigah was roasted the same as the lamb in a Passover oven. As you can see, all of this is very specific.
Will Passover be celebrated after Yeshua comes? Yes, and Ezekiel 45.21-22 says, “In the first month, on the fourteenth day of the month, you shall have the Passover, a feast of seven days; unleavened bread shall be eaten. On that day the prince shall provide for himself and all the people of the land a bull for a sin offering.” In v 23-24 it goes on to talk about the days of unleavened bread. The “prince” mentioned there is understood by many as the Messiah (Isa 4.2, 11.1; Jer 23.5-6, 33.15-16; Zech 3.8, 6.12), the offspring (prince) of King David (Rev 22.16. There are others who see the prince as David or another descendant of David besides Yeshua. On the other hand, Yeshua is King over all the earth at that time and not a prince, unless you see him as the prince under the Father. The point is, Passover will be celebrated again in the Messianic Kingdom, also called the Atid Lavo, the Day of the Lord, the Lord’s day and the Sabbath of God. The Passover is a Temple ceremony that you could bring into your home.
In Part 15, we will begin to talk about the ceremonies and concepts associated with the festival of Shavuot.