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Elements Of The 2013 Passover Season

After sunset, the evening before March 25th we will be celebrating the Passover. Passover is always a very humbling experience -- a humbling but thankful service. A service where we really see the need for Christ's sacrifice for us - for each of us individually.

Some probably wonder if we will also celebrate with a Passover Seder the following night. We will, but not in the same manner that Judaism celebrates it. "Seder" is Hebrew for "set order." I will get into the subject of the Seder a little later. Instead of the traditional Seder, we will celebrate what is called the Night to be Much Observed or Night to be Much Remembered. Typically this night is celebrated with a big meal. I will go into that later, too.

On the morning of Sunday, March 31st we WILL be observing the Wavesheaf Offering. That day is also Easter. That sometimes causes concern and chagrin among some people in the Church but we must remember it is a pagan-based Easter observance which has invaded Wavesheaf Offering Sunday, not the other way around.

Well, this is what I want to talk to you about today. I want to discuss these days, these events, and our participation in them. This will be a rather short sermon. It is intended as an introductory sermon to the Passover season.

I will not go into the details of the Passover service again today but they are described in our earlier sermon "Examining Our Need for Christ's Sacrifice." It should be on our web site. Hopefully, that sermon will help its hearers and readers to be ready for Passover and our need for its observance.

Let's begin by learning a little more about the Passover Seder. As most of you know Jesus Christ (Yeshua ha Mashiach in Hebrew) celebrated the Passover with a meal. The day before He was crucified, He directed His disciples to prepare the Passover.

Mat 26:17-21, 26 (NKJV) Now on the first <day> of the <Feast of> the Unleavened Bread . . .

The words "day," "Feast of," and "Bread" are not in the original Greek text. The word "on" is from the Greek word "pro'tos" which can mean "before", so I think the verse should read "before the first of the unleavened," Abib or Nisan 13 in other words.

[continuing]. . . the disciples came to Jesus, saying to Him, "Where do You want us to prepare for You to eat the Passover?" {18} And He said, "Go into the city to a certain man, and say to him, 'The Teacher says, "My time is at hand; I will keep the Passover at your house with My disciples'."{19} So the disciples did as Jesus had directed them; and they prepared the Passover. {20} When evening had come, He sat down with the twelve. {21} Now as they were eating,......[and again in verse] {26} And as they were eating,....

Yes Jesus' disciples ate the Passover meal. Some say Christ didn't eat or drink because He was to be the Passover Lamb. Luke 22 may support this opinion:

Luke 22:15-19 (NKJV) Then He said to them, "With <fervent> desire I have desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer; {16} for I say to you, I will no longer eat of it until it is fulfilled in the kingdom of God." {17} Then He took the cup, and gave thanks, and said, "Take this and divide <it> among yourselves; {18} for I say to you, I will not drink of the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God comes." {19} And He took bread, gave thanks and broke <it>, and gave <it> to them, saying .........

Mat 26:18 seems to say otherwise, but it's possible Christ may not have eaten His final Passover meal. But His disciples did. These verses and others leave the question open.

But was the meal the same as a Seder? The Book of John gives us further insight that the meal was followed by the Passover service.

John 13:2,4 (NKJV) And supper being ended........Jesus {4} rose from supper and laid aside His garments, took a towel and girded Himself.

So we should all eat the Passover meal just before the washing of feet and the taking of the bread and the wine, just as Jesus and His disciples did. But in 1 Corinthians 11 Paul also raises some concerns about our proper conduct at the Passover meal.

1 Cor 11:18-34 (NKJV) For first of all, when you come together as a church, I hear that there are divisions among you, and in part I believe it. {19} For there must also be factions among you, that those who are approved may be recognized among you. {20} Therefore when you come together in one place, it is not to eat the Lord's Supper. {21} For in eating, each one takes his own supper ahead of <others>; and one is hungry and another is drunk. {22} What! Do you not have houses to eat and drink in? Or do you despise the church of God and shame those who have nothing? What shall I say to you? Shall I praise you in this? I do not praise <you>. {23} For I received from the Lord that which I also delivered to you: that the Lord Jesus on the <same> night in which He was betrayed took bread; {24} and when He had given thanks, He broke <it> and said, "Take, eat; this is My body which is broken for you; do this in remembrance of Me." {25} In the same manner <He> also <took> the cup after supper, saying, "This cup is the new covenant in My blood. This do, as often as you drink <it>, in remembrance of Me." {26} For as often as you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord's death till He comes. {27} Therefore whoever eats this bread or drinks <this> cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord. {28} But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of the bread and drink of the cup. {29} For he who eats and drinks in an unworthy manner eats and drinks judgment to himself, not discerning the Lord's body. {30} For this reason many <are> weak and sick among you, and many sleep. {31} For if we would judge ourselves, we would not be judged. {32} But when we are judged, we are chastened by the Lord, that we may not be condemned with the world. {33} Therefore, my brethren, when you come together to eat, wait for one another. {34} But if anyone is hungry, let him eat at home, lest you come together for judgment. And the rest I will set in order when I come.

There are many, many interpretations of these scriptures but one is certainly that verses 23 through 26 set up a new Passover service; that Jesus celebrated His last Passover meal and instituted the service we observe every Passover evening.

But there is more to this subject than the Passover meal. There is the Passover Seder. What is the difference between the two? The original Passover meal consisted of a roasted, whole lamb and bitter herbs. That was it as far as we know.

This is a far cry from a modern day Judaic Passover Seder. The Seder today consists of a roasted shank bone of a lamb; a hard-boiled egg which has been roasted until it turns brown; a piece of whole horseradish root; freshly ground horseradish; a piece of lettuce, parsley or celery; and a mixture of chopped apples, nuts, raisins, cinnamon, and wine. There is also four cups of wine per person, some Matzos (unleavened bread with symbolic holes in it), and a bowl of salt water in which to dip the vegetables. All of this is part of the Seder celebrated the same night we would be celebrating the Night to be Much Remembered. Remember Judaism keeps what they call Passover on the 15th, not the 14th, of Nisan. The Seder is their celebration of the Passover.

How do the two meals, that celebrated by the Israelites in Egypt on the 14th and the Seder celebrated today on the 15th, compare? I don't think they compare very well at all - even though they are supposedly celebrating the same event. Christ and/or His disciples seems to have eaten the meal like they did in Egypt, certainly on the same day. Do you want a New Testament scripture proving that the Passover is on the 14th? Try John 13:29.

(John 13:29 NASB) For some were supposing, because Judas had the money box, that Jesus was saying to him, "Buy the things we have need of for the feast"; or else, that he should give something to the poor.

If this occurred on Abib (Nisan) 15, Christ would have been telling Judas to buy things for the Feast on a holy day in violation of Lev 23:6. No, this occurred on the 14th. Christ could not break the law.

You may remember Christ dipping the sot (some unleavened bread) into the juice of the lamb. Today Jews do not have a lamb, ostensibly because there is no temple to sacrifice it in, hence the symbolic shank bone.

How can we have a Passover Seder on Abib (Nisan) the 15th when, according to Lev 23:5, Passover has already passed?

But you may ask, why don't you eat a lamb and unleavened bread snack before Passover services? We can and some do. That would be the appropriate time. But with what do we celebrate it? A whole lamb? Some do. We would end up burning up 99% of it before morning (Ex 12:10). Is that really what we should do? Or would we be justified in doing a traditional Seder with its non-biblical foods? These are some of the reasons we do not observe the Seder prior to our Passover service.

Now let's talk about the Night to be Much Remembered/Observed. This is observed the night of Nisan (Abib) 15. Many observe this night with a huge meal. But scripture doesn't really say to do that. Let's read it, first from the New King James version.

Exo 12:41-42 (NKJV) And it came to pass at the end of the four hundred and thirty years; on that very same day; it came to pass that all the armies of the LORD went out from the land of Egypt. {42} It <is> a night of solemn observance to the LORD for bringing them out of the land of Egypt. This <is> that night of the LORD, a solemn observance for all the children of Israel throughout their generations.

The Tanakh reads Exodus 12:41-42 quite differently. the end of the four hundred and thirtieth year, to the very day, all the ranks of the LORD departed from the land of Egypt. {42} That was for the LORD a night of vigil to bring them out of the land of Egypt; that same night is the LORD's, one of vigil for all the children of Israel throughout the ages.

Not even a mention of a solemn observance, is there? But the word "vigil" is used instead. Now I'm going to read to you from the Hebrew interlinear. The translated text in the margin reads:

And it happened, from the end of four hundred and thirty years, on this very day all the armies of Jehovah went out from the land of Egypt. {42} It is a night of celebration to Jehovah, for bringing them out of the land of Egypt. This night is it, a celebration for all the sons of Israel to their generations.

The actual text translation is more difficult to follow but let me give it to you anyway:

And it was from the end of thirty years and four hundred years. was on very day this, went out all the armies of Jehovah from the land of Egypt. a night of celebration It (is) to Jehovah, for bringing them out of the land of Egypt; it (is) night this to Jehovah a celebration for all the sons of Israel for their generations.

One's first impression is that the Tanakh is not correct in verse 42. Again, let's dig into and compare the word "vigil", as used in the Tanakh, with the word "celebration" or "solemn observance" as used elsewhere. The Hebrew word is "Shim-mur'" and is Strong's #8107. It is translated as "celebration" in verse 42 of the New King James. According to the Hebrew lexicon, shammur means watching or vigil. According to Strong's, shammur means an observance but Strong's also says the word is from the root word "shaw-mar'", Strong's #8104, which means to guard, protect, attend to, heed, preserve, wait for, watch. The two words, shimmur and shamar, seem quite different in meaning. Ex 12:42 is the only place in the Bible where this Hebrew word is used. I cannot explain why both the interlinear and the King James use the word "celebration". According to the lexicon, the Tanakh seems to have it right. Let me read it to you from the Tanakh again: the end of the four hundred and thirtieth year, to the very day, all the ranks of the LORD departed from the land of Egypt. {42} That was for the LORD a night of vigil to bring them out of the land of Egypt; that same night is the LORD's, one of vigil for all the children of Israel throughout the ages.

It appears to me that (1) God watched the Israelites leave Egypt on that night and (2) the children of Israel are to watch for and vigilantly observe that night forever. The definitions we have read do not seem to describe a night of solemn observance; only that we must remember to observe the night vigilantly.

The Israelites went out of Egypt on the night portion of Nisan or Abib 15th. Now, there is no doubt we should all feel jubilant that they left. It is symbolic of us leaving sin behind, which is what the days of Unleavened Bread, which starts on the night portion of the 15th, is all about. See Numbers 33:3. We should be glad. But scripture, at least the King James scripture, says it is a night of solemn observance. Is a huge meal a solemn observance? Many Night to be Observed meals I've attended has been jubilant, and not necessarily because of Israel leaving Egypt or because we are leaving sin behind. In our mind, and I want to stress that, it is a good time to vigilantly remember the date, but dispense with the big meal and treat it as a solemn observance, a time to discuss the exodus from Egypt and sin. This is our rational. I am not trying to influence you one way or the other, especially in regards to the big meal, and you are certainly free to observe it as you understand scripture.

Now let's talk about the Wave sheaf offering. Judaism calls this Sfirat Haomer or First Fruits. Another name for it is Yom HaBikkurim. Sfirat Haomer means literally "the Counting of the Sheaf". The lesson of this offering is clear: If God has been faithful to bless us with an early harvest, He will most certainly provide the late harvest of late summer. In Leviticus we have the actual command to observe it:

Lev 23:9-14 (NKJV) And the LORD spoke to Moses, saying, {10} "Speak to the children of Israel, and say to them: 'When you come into the land which I give to you, and reap its harvest, then you shall bring a sheaf of the firstfruits of your harvest to the priest. {11} 'He shall wave the sheaf before the LORD, to be accepted on your behalf; on the day after the Sabbath the priest shall wave it. {12} And you shall offer on that day, when you wave the sheaf, a male lamb ................verse 14 <it shall be> a statute forever throughout your generations in all your dwellings.

So why haven't we been observing it since we first came to a knowledge of the Holy Days? Only because it is not defined as a Holy Day? It seems like it should be one of the most important festivals for believers in Jesus (Yeshua) to observe. Let's turn to the book of John.

John 20:1 (NKJV) Now on the first <day> of the week Mary Magdalene went to the tomb early, while it was still dark, and saw <that> the stone had been taken away from the tomb.

So here was Mary visiting the tomb of Jesus early on a Sunday morning, so early it was still dark...and the body of Jesus was gone! She notified Peter and John and returned to the tomb, talked to the angels, and began to leave. Turn to verse 14.

John 20:14-17 (NKJV) Now when she had said this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing <there>, and did not know that it was Jesus. {15} Jesus said to her, "Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you seeking?" She, supposing Him to be the gardener, said to Him, "Sir, if You have carried Him away, tell me where You have laid Him, and I will take Him away." {16} Jesus said to her, "Mary!" She turned and said to Him, "Rabboni!" [Rab-bo'-ni] (which is to say, Teacher). {17} Jesus said to her, "Do not touch Me, for I have not yet ascended to My Father; but go to My brethren and say to them, 'I am ascending to My Father and your Father, and <to> My God and your God.'"

Jesus had not yet ascended to His Father to receive His acceptance of Christ's sacrifice for all mankind. Did Jesus ever allude to anything about this? Indeed he did. Let's turn to John 12.

John 12:23-24 (NKJV) But Jesus answered them, saying, "The hour has come that the Son of Man should be glorified. {24} Most assuredly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the ground and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it produces much grain."

Skip down to verse 32.

John 12:32 (NKJV) "And I, if I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all <peoples> to Myself."

These words of Jesus allude to both His resurrection and His ascension. He died, was buried, was resurrected, ascended to our Father, and is now producing more "grain."

After He was accepted He returned to His disciples. Matthew 28 completes the picture.

Mat 28:9 (NKJV) And as they went to tell His disciples, behold, Jesus met them, saying, "Rejoice!" So they came and held Him by the feet and worshiped Him.

Notice that His disciples could then touch Him and even worship Him. This is significant. They could not touch Him before He had been accepted but afterward He could even be worshiped. Exodus 22:20 tells us they could not have worshiped Him if He were not of the God family. See our sermons "Whom Do We Worship?" and "Trini-Bini-Uni-tarianism.. Which?" to better understand this.

On that first Sunday after Passover, Jesus Christ became the first fruit offering, that is the wave sheaf offering, for all of us who will be accepted by Him as part of the first resurrection.

1 Cor 15:20-23 (NKJV) But now Christ is risen from the dead, <and> has become the first fruits of those who have fallen asleep. {21} For since by man <came> death, by Man also <came> the resurrection of the dead. {22} For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ all shall be made alive. {23} But each one in his own order: Christ the first fruits, afterward those <who are> Christ's at His coming.

These words of Paul are generally read as a commentary on the order of the resurrection, but Paul is actually making a technical reference to Sfirat Haomer. It is not merely that Jesus was the first to rise bodily from the grave and be accepted by our Father, but that by doing so, He is the direct fulfillment of the feast of First Fruits.

So what do we do on the day of the wave sheaf offering to remember Christ's ascension and acceptance? Scripture is not clear for us today. Christ was the wave sheaf offering. We can't change or add to that. Christ was the sacrifice. We can't add to that. What we do is to have a Sunday morning brunch dedicated to Christ's ascension. As I said earlier, most years this day falls on Easter, a problem for some. But we should look at Easter as the paganizing of a very meaningful and important day, not at the wave sheaf memorial as being held on a pagan holiday.

This brings us to another question raised by some regarding which Sunday we should observe the wave sheaf offering. As you know, the offering was to be waved the day after the weekly Sabbath. Some years, not this year, the last day of unleavened bread also falls on a Saturday. Should we be observing the Sunday after the days of unleavened bread instead of the Sunday after Passover? For the answer, we must study an example in the book of Joshua. We know that the Wave Sheaf Offering was strictly commanded before Israel could eat any kind of new grain or bread made from it. We read that earlier in Lev 23:11-14. Joshua was leading Israel in righteousness by:

1. Carefully following the law -

Josh 1:7-9
"Only be strong and very courageous; be careful to do according to all the law which Moses My servant commanded you; do not turn from it to the right or to the left, so that you may have success wherever you go. {8} "This book of the law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it; for then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have success. {9} "Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous! Do not tremble or be dismayed, for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go." [I wish modern Israel would remember this.]

2. Respecting the Captain of the Host -

Josh 5:13-15
Now it came about when Joshua was by Jericho, that he lifted up his eyes and looked, and behold, a man was standing opposite him with his sword drawn in his hand, and Joshua went to him and said to him, "Are you for us or for our adversaries?" {14} And he said, "No, rather I indeed come now <as> captain of the host of the LORD." And Joshua fell on his face to the earth, and bowed down, and said to him, "What has my lord to say to his servant?" {15} And the captain of the LORD'S host said to Joshua, "Remove your sandals from your feet, for the place where you are standing is holy." And Joshua did so.

3. Circumcising his men again, as ordered, even though it was logically crazy to do prior to going into what might have been a major battle.

Now let's look at the observance of Passover by Joshua:

Josh 5:10-12 While the sons of Israel camped at Gilgal, they observed the Passover on the evening of the fourteenth day of the month on the desert plains of Jericho. {11} And on the day after the Passover [the 15th], on that very day, they ate some of the produce of the land, unleavened cakes and parched <grain>. {12} And the manna ceased on the day [the 16th] after they had eaten some of the produce of the land.....but they ate some of the yield of the land of Canaan during that year.

Lev. 23:14 said that they could not eat roasted grain or new growth until it was offered. So it had to have been offered by the 15th of Abib if Joshua was to obey the law.

Joshua was zealous about keeping Passover. He knew he needed God in the great conquest ahead. The next day they ate grain. Could he have ignored the wave sheaf offering command to not eat grain or produce before the wave sheath offering, and thereby incurred sin? That seems very unlikely. The only explanation is that the Wave Sheaf Offering was made in the morning on the day after Passover day that year! In order for Passover to be followed by the Wave-sheaf offering, Passover would have to fall on Saturday. The Wave-sheaf offering, then, would fall on the first day of Unleavened Bread. That means that the Sabbath referred to in Leviticus 23, verses:11 and 15, can precede the days of Unleavened bread, and hence, the Wave-sheaf offering can not fall after the days of unleavened bread.

As a side-light, Lev 2:12-16 describes the first fruits offering:

Lev 2:12-16 'As an offering of first fruits, you shall bring them to the LORD, but they shall not ascend for a soothing aroma on the altar. {13} 'Every grain offering of yours, moreover, you shall season with salt, so that the salt of the covenant of your God shall not be lacking from your grain offering; with all your offerings you shall offer salt. {14} 'Also if you bring a grain offering of early ripened things to the LORD, you shall bring fresh heads of grain roasted in the fire [parched], grits of new growth, for the grain offering of your early ripened things. {15} 'You shall then put oil on it and lay incense on it; it is a grain offering. {16} 'And the priest shall offer up in smoke its memorial portion, part of its grits and its oil with all its incense as an offering by fire to the LORD.

Notice, in verse 14, that grits of new growth was part of the offering. What is the difference between "grits of new growth" and "green ears", the definition of "Abib?"

Now let's consider the following scenario from Joshua chapters 2-6:

Sunday, Abib 1 Spies were sent to Jericho. They make agreement with Rahab, who hides them and helps them escape that night (Josh. 2:1-15). It seems logical to start on New Years Day
Monday, Abib 2 thru Wednesday, Abib 4 The spies were in hiding for 3 days (Josh. 2:16,22).
Thursday, Abib 5 The spies return to Joshua at Shittim (Joshua 2:24).
Friday, Abib 6 Israelites go from Shittim to the bank of the Jordan and lodge for the Sabbath before crossing (Josh 3:1)
Sunday, Abib 8 or possibly Saturday night Officers went thru host the first time; saying "..prepare food for within 3 days you will pass over this Jordan." (Josh 1:10)
Monday, Abib 9 At end of three days, officers went thru host the second time; God will do wonders "tomorrow." (Josh. 3:2,5).
Tuesday, Abib 10 Jordan crossed after waters were dried up (Josh. 4:7,10-19).
Wednesday, Abib 11 Circumcision of all men (Josh. 5:2-3).
Thursday, Abib 12 and Friday, Abib 13 Recovering from circumcision. Near Jericho, Joshua is met by the Prince of the Host regarding procedures for the siege of the city (Josh. 5:8, 13-15)
Saturday, Abib 14 Kept Passover (Josh. 5:10).
Sunday, Abib 15 1st day of Feast of Unleavened Bread (Josh. 5:11). Wave Sheaf Offering which starts the Pentecost count (Lev 23:10-16. Ate some of the produce of the land. They began the first of seven daily circuits of Jericho (Josh. 6:3, 12-14)
Monday, Abib 16 Manna ceased [after fruit of the land was blessed by the offering, and eaten] (Josh. 5:12).
Saturday, Abib 21 Last day of Unleavened Bread. Jericho falls (Josh 6:5,20).

What will we gain from these days other than thoroughly cleaning our homes and avoiding leavened food? Here are several goals to be worked on during the days of unleavened bread: The reduction of personal pride, vanity, self, ego, and self importance. These are also described in Philip Edwards' sermon "Passover and the Feast of Unleavened Bread."

I hope this sermon has helped you to sort out and justify your understanding of these days. We would encourage you to study what you have been given today and perhaps add to it from other sources so that you can truly be edified by these important days.

Sermon given by Wayne Bedwell
16 March 2013
Copyright 2013, Wayne Bedwell

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