Tag Archives: Passover

Elijah Has Come

Elijah's Coming“In haste and in our days may he come to us
with the Messiah son of David.”

Passover 2013

As I type this it’s the first day of Passover. This year Passover started yesterday evening, Monday, March 25th and lasts until the evening of Monday, April 1st. This year marks our family’s sixth year in observing the Passover festival, which is also known and used synonymously with the Feast of Unleavened Bread. This year’s celebration is by far the most unique and exciting Passover that we’ve ever celebrated to date. I’m not just talking about unique and exciting in the fact that it’s a new year and we might have different guests at our Seder table. Or that we have a better understanding and relevance of the holiday or a fresh perspective on the Scripture and Haggadah reading to be enamoured with this year. Nope, all of those things could be true and exciting for many different individuals and families this season. Though the reason this year is different for our family does include a new year to celebrate and to be thankful for, plus a very special, unique and exciting guest at our seder. More on this in a little bit.

For this Passover season I felt compelled to study and write a little bit more about the Prophet Elijah and his connection to the Holiday and this season we find ourselves in.

Who is Elijah?

Elijah’s origins are a mystery. There is no mention of his parents, siblings or any other immediate familial particulars including his upbringing. The Bible mentions only of him being part of a clan from Gilead. “Now Elijah the Tishbite, of Tishbe in Gilead” 1 Kings 17:1

Elijah’s original name is Eliyahu in Hebrew and it meansMy God is YHVH“. Elijah’s name in Greek is Elias.

Elijah is one of a shortlist (Abraham, Moses and David) who have a major impact on the Hebrew and New Covenant Scriptures. Elijah continues to play a prominent role each and every year within Jewish Holiday (Passover – more below) and Life cycles (Circumcision). At the Brit Milah (Circumcision ceremony), like Passover, Elijah is given his own chair. Elijah is also known as the “Angel of the Covenant” for this reason.

Elijah Brings The Fire!

Elijah is amongst the most famous of all the Prophets of Israel and has one of the coolest (literally one of the hottest) showdowns in Scripture. Elijah calls out King Ahab whose wife has introduced the false worship of the pagan god Baal to the nation. Elijah puts a curse on the land of Israel which causes a devastating drought for a few years during which time Elijah seemingly disappears from the scene. Eventually, Elijah steps back onto the stage and throws down a challenge to the 450 prophets of Baal. Elijah’s challenge to the prophets of Baal took place on Mt. Carmel and it involved slaughtering a bull to see whose God would consume the sacrifice. After the prophets of Baal couldn’t entice their so-called god to consume the sacrifice, Elijah started doing some of the best trash talking to the prophets of Baal ever recorded in Scripture “Cry aloud, for he is a god. Either he is musing, or he is relieving himself, or he is on a journey, or perhaps he is asleep and must be awakened.” 1 Kings 18:27. After this episode, Elijah brought it (or you could say God brought it for Elijah)! Elijah set up 12 stones and built an altar for YHVH. Then he dug a trench around the altar and had water poured on top of the wood and the sacrifice three times until the whole altar was soaking wet and the water even filled up the trench. Then Elijah prayed to the God of Israel and “the fire of the LORD fell and consumed the burnt offering and the wood and the stones and the dust, and licked up the water that was in the trench.” 1 Kings 18:38

After this, Elijah tells the people of Israel to kill the prophets of Baal and they do. The people agree to serve only the God of Israel and Elijah goes to the top of the mountain and prays for rain again and behold a massive thunderstorm comes and the drought is lifted. Job well done and all is well right? Well, not exactly…..Elijah flees in fear of Jezebel, the People of Israel don’t remain faithful to their commitment to YHVH and Elijah has a few other encounters with calling fire down from heaven and even riding in a fiery vehicle (perhaps the first Hot Rod?) into the Heavens. I haven’t the time to elaborate on these adventures but of course you can read all about them in 1st and 2nd Kings.

Elijah Before Messiah?

It has been a long-held tradition amongst the Jewish sages that the Prophet Elijah would announce the coming of the Messiah and thus usher in the Messianic Age. In fact, this tradition is symbolized and put into practice each year at Passover. During the Seder a seat is reserved, a cup of wine poured, and a door is opened for the Prophet who is expected to arrive during the Passover season to bring the good news of Messiah’s coming. For this reason, one of Elijah’s titles is the Prophet of Passover. The two primary Hebrew Scriptures that this idea comes from are both found in Malachi.

“Behold, I send my messenger, and he will prepare the way before me. And the Lord whom you seek will suddenly come to his temple; and the messenger of the covenant in whom you delight, behold, he is coming, says the LORD of hosts.” Malachi 3:1

 “Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the great and awesome day of the LORD comes. And he will turn the hearts of fathers to their children and the hearts of children to their fathers” Malachi 4:5

By the time we reach the 1st Century, we have evidence of this Elijah before Messiah theme recorded in the Gospel’s and alluded to by the Qumran Community as evidenced in the Dead Sea Scrolls. The Gospel of Luke records that Zechariah the Priest was serving in the Temple when the Angel Gabriel appeared to him next to the Altar of Incense and gave Zechariah the news of him having a son that should be named John. “And he will turn many of the children of Israel to the Lord their God, and he will go before him in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just, to make ready for the Lord a people prepared.” Luke 1:16-17

Zechariah was stunned and in disbelief. He must have recognized the Scriptures that the Angel Gabriel had quoted him from Malachi about the Prophet Elijah. He must have also been perplexed that this most honorable distinction and highest task of “preparing the way of the Lord” would be assigned to a son that he would call his own. True to the Angel Gabriel’s word, when John was an adult he had become great and well-known amongst those in Israel. When the Jewish leaders from Jerusalem sent Priests and Levites to try to figure out who this John was who was making such waves down by the river Jordan, they ask him “Who are you?” He confessed, and did not deny, but confessed, “I am not the Christ.” And they asked him, “What then? Are you Elijah?” He said, “I am not.” “Are you the Prophet?” And he answered, “No.” So they said to him, “Who are you? We need to give an answer to those who sent us. What do you say about yourself?” He said, “I am the voice of one crying out in the wilderness, ‘Make straight the way of the Lord,’ as the prophet Isaiah said.” John 1:19-23

Amazingly, during the 1st century amongst the Jewish people there was a great anticipation for the return of Elijah and a great expectancy for the coming of the Messiah. The Jewish sages knew the Scriptures well and they had calculated that Messiah could appear on the scene at any point and they were searching and investigating hard for that news – news that would be brought by Elijah of course.

There was another man at this time named Yeshua of Nazareth (Jesus of Nazareth) who had become very popular with the people by his teachings and the signs that he performed. In fact, he was now even more popular than John had been and the same questions that had been being gossiped through-out the land as to John’s identity were now being directed towards Yeshua, even amongst those that were closest to him and Yeshua asked his disciples “Who do the crowds say that I am?” And they answered, “John the Baptist. But others say, Elijah, and others, that one of the prophets of old has risen.” Luke 9:18-19  

Then at sometime later a few of the disciples saw what is undoubtably one of the most amazing things ever at the top of a mountain in the Land of Israel. Just like as before in the days gone by when the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob appeared at various times to the patriarchs and the children of Israel, this man Yeshua’s true identity was revealed “And he was transfigured before them, and his face shone like the sun, and his clothes became white as light.” And who appeared with him during this transfiguration of glory? And behold, there appeared to them Moses and Elijah, talking with him.” Matthew 17:2-3

You got it! None other than Moses who represented the Torah (Law) and Elijah who represented the Prophets! It’s at this point that the disciples get back to the question of Elijah coming first to announce the coming of Messiah? “And the disciples asked  him, “Then why do the scribes say that first Elijah must come?” He answered, “Elijah does come, and he will restore all things. But I tell you that Elijah has already come, and they did not recognize him, but did to him whatever they pleased. So also the Son of Man will certainly suffer at their hands.” Then the disciples understood that he was speaking to them of John the Baptist.” Matthew 17:10-13

There are some profound takeaways from just these few verses of Scripture to consider about the Elijah before Messiah theme:

  1. The ancient Jewish Sages had been right in their interpretation of Malachi
  2. It was a common thought even amongst the Disciples of Yeshua to think The Elijah would literally return to Earth
  3. Yeshua himself confirmed the Elijah before Messiah Theme
  4. God had raised up someone in the Spirit like unto Elijah to announce Messiah’s 1st coming
  5. It is logical to suppose that “Elijah” will announce Messiah’s 2nd coming as well
  6. Modern Judaism and some eschatological interpretations are still valid and relevent to expect Elijah’s return
  7. Like Messiah, Elijah has come – Like Messiah, Elijah will come again

Our Elijah

Back to that unique and exciting part I mentioned at the beginning……

Back in July of 2012, we were given a date – March 26th, 2013. We were pregnant and going to have our 3rd child. We have a bit of an affinity with holiday birthday’s in my family that as far as I know started with my dad who was born on Mother’s Day, 1958. I was born on Cinco de Mayo, my brother was born on Thanksgiving, my daughter was born on New Year’s Eve and my 1st son was born on Rosh Hashannah. So immediately after we received the due date, we looked on the calendar and lo and behold what day is March 26th, 2013 – you know by now, it’s Passover! Wow we thought, that would be amazing.

A couple of months went by and we found out that the sex of our new baby was going to be a boy, so it didn’t take much imagination for us to come up with a name – Elijah John – of course knowing the symbolism with the date and Biblical accounts and similarities of the two men. So we waited months and months and months (you get the picture) and on Saturday morning, March 23rd, we thought “it looks like he’s really going to make it to Passover”. Afterall, it would be just 2 days and we had no indication he was coming anytime before then. It looked like we were well on our way to having another holiday baby in the family, but then something started to happen.

That evening after Shabbat was over we were on our way to the grocery store to pickup some supplies for Passover week when my wife began having frequent contractions. We thought, probably “braxton-hicks” right, you know the practice contractions. We made it through the grocery store and went to dinner afterwards and the contractions hadn’t went away yet. At this point my wife was starting to get nervous and couldn’t eat. I started to think this is probably the real deal and we just passed one holiday (Shabbat) and knew there was a good chance we wouldn’t make it to the next (Passover). All we had between now and then if we had this baby was Sunday and all of Monday until Passover started that evening – nothing special there I thought. By midnight on Sunday morning it was becoming ever so apparent that we were going to have this baby soon – real soon – I mean like in a few hours soon.

We had a family friend staying with us and we turned on the tv after we had watched the movie Argo and TBN was playing The Passion of Christ and it hit me “Today is Palm Sunday”! Palm Sunday – the traditional date of Yeshua’s triumphal entry into Jerusalem on a lowly donkey and the start of Holy Week. I had called my mom by this point to inform her of the baby’s imminent arrival and she looked at the calendar and exclaimed its Palm Sunday! To all of our amazement, this day had been completely off of our radar the whole entire time until the date was actually here. So there we were, on the traditional date that Yeshua’s triumphal entry is celebrated, our Elijah made his own triumphal entry into the world at 4:01am on Palm Sunday. This post is primarily for him which is a bit ironic since he won’t be able to read it for a few years and when he does it may be many more years before he actually appreciates it. One day I hope!

Elijah sleeping

He’s been sleeping beside me for almost 2 hours while I put this reading together which is amazing in and of itself – Here’s to looking at you Elijah John Bennett Bond! May the grace and shalom of our Messiah Yeshua bless you and yours through-out this season and always – Amen!

Happy Passover 2013 – The Bond Family

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Passover on the Plains of Jericho

“Let the people of Israel keep the Passover at its appointed time.” Numbers 9:2 ESV

Our family Passover preparations are now in full swing as we prepare to host a Seder at our home with family and friends in just a couple of days. Passover begins this year on Friday evening, April 6th. Today we are busy finalizing our guest list, grocery shopping, studying, rehearsing, writing this blog and doing plenty of Spring cleaning (which also means we have to drink up all the beer in the fridge really soon – it’s not that much I promise:-)!

Last week I wrote about The “Egyptian Passover” and gave a brief history of that very first Passover event and what made it unique in comparison to all others after it. For this post, I originally wanted to take a quick look at the post-Exodic (not “exotic”, but “exodic” as in after the Exodus) Passover up until the time of the Men of the Great Assembly. But as I begin to research the Passover from the Biblical and extra-biblical sources starting with the Book of Joshua to King Josiah on to the Book of Jubilees and The Wisdom of Solomon, I quickly realized that this would not be a quick survey after all. Instead of writing a 4,000 word blog of which I have scarcely the time, I decided to split this chronological theme up into much smaller sections over a longer period of time (I have Passover ideas to blog about for many years to come now:-). Makes sense right?

Passover on the Plains of Jericho

“While the people of Israel were encamped at Gilgal, they kept the Passover on the fourteenth day of the month in the evening on the plains of Jericho.” (Joshua 5:10 ESV)

This phrase “on the plains of Jericho” sounds very idyllic to me, like some sweeping grandiose setting from a bygone era that gets romanticized in a Hollywood movie. I can picture the scenes in my mind well and imagine some of the interactions of the people. The sweeping Jericho plains at sunset with Palm trees shadowed in the background and the Jordan river flowing in the distance. The tent sites are abuzz with campfires crackling and the excited chatter of the relatively youthful Israelites, almost all who are under the age of sixty with the majority not even forty years old yet. These young generations of Israelites who had weathered the sins of their parents and the harshness of desert life, have just crossed over the Jordan river into this Land they have heard only stories about since they were born. Now it is coming to pass before their very eyes, all of their hopes and dreams will soon be realized in this Land that had been promised to the generations of old, to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Joshua, who is one of only two who are left from their parents generation, is their courageous and very capable leader. Joshua was Moses’ right hand man while Moses was alive and Joshua was ordained by God to take Moses’ place after his death. Joshua gives a speech to this young nation that is both inspiring and sobering at the same time. He recounts the faithfulness of the Lord in leading them to this Promised Land and details the blessings spoken of to Moses about how God will shower them with so much provision and abundance that it will be like the Land breaking forth into song and dance all around them. Yet, Joshua also reminds them of the dangers of disobedience and rebellion, of a lack of trust in the Lord and the byproduct of that behavior that they know all too well. The youthful crowd responds to Joshua, “We will take care to do all that the Lord has commanded us to do”!

Many of the young men of the camp were anxious to go forth and “conquer” the Land. They were confident and not a few a bit cocky after they had seen what had happened to the Kings of the Amorites and Canaanites (Joshua 5:1). They knew well the report of the their brethren who had went to spy on the city of Jericho and had brought back this report to Joshua, “Truly the LORD has given all the land into our hands. And also, all the inhabitants of the land melt away because of us.” (Joshua 2:24 ESV). But before the next battle was to begin, the Lord commanded patience, an obedient patience in the form of circumcision.

 Circumcision?! This second generation of Israelites had not been circumcised in the wilderness due to the sins of their fathers, which had delayed the Israelites from entering into the Promised Land in the first place for 40 years. That ancient rite of passage “hadn’t been practiced in many years” some of them said and others cringed at the thought of the pain it entailed. Nevertheless, the whole nation was obedient to the Lord’s command through Joshua and they remained in their camp at a place called Gilgal until they were healed.  After Joshua had all the males circumcised, God told Joshua, “Today I have rolled away the reproach of Egypt from you.” (Joshua 5:9 ESV). This circumcision was important for multiple reasons;

  1. According to the Covenant God made with Abraham in Genesis 17:10-11, all of Abraham’s descendents should be circumcised as an act of obedience.
  2. Circumcision is a sign of the Israelites being in covenant with God and the Land of Canaan is a Promise of that Covenant (Genesis 17:8).
  3. According to Exodus 12:48, no one uncircumcised may partake of the Passover sacrifice.

During the time of healing and waiting, their was another rite, albeit a much more “modern” one that perhaps some had never took part in and others had but it had been since their teenage years or earlier – The Passover. Passover was the memorial and commemoration of God’s deliverance of His people Israel, that culminated in the Exodus out of Egypt and set in motion the journey that led them here, to the plains of Jericho – the gateway to the Promised Land.

Sure, they all knew what the Passover was and what it meant to them historically, but most had never actually experienced this sacred event. So here they were on the plains of Jericho, on this side of the Jordan river, with their tribes and divisions of families and they were about to fulfill God’s command to Moses to “Observe the month of Abib and keep the Passover to the Lord your God, for in the month of Abib the Lord your God brought you out of Egypt by night.” (Deuteronomy 16:1). On this night so long ago in the shadow of the infamous walls that would soon come tumbling down, I can imagine all the families remembering the past 40 years gone by since the Lord’s redemption from Pharaoh and his army and a young son of Israel probably no more than 4 or 5 years old asking his father “what does this night mean?” and his father replying with the words of Exodus 13:8 ‘It is because of what the LORD did for me when I came out of Egypt.’ I could also imagine the words and thoughts of the evening not just dwelling on the past but looking forward to the future redemption as well, when God will deliver yet again the people who He saved for all eternity in peace and glory. At least that’s how I suppose it could have all happened out on the plains of Jericho over 3,000 years ago. This was the first Passover celebrated in the Promised Land!

May grace and shalom be multiplied upon you in the name of Yeshua the Messiah, our Passover!

Chag Sameach Pesach 5772!!! Happy Passover 2012!!!

The Bond Family

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The “Egyptian Passover”

‘The blood shall be a sign for you……And when I see the blood, I will pass over you, and no plague will befall you to destroy you” (Exodus 12:13 ESV)

Passover is less than two weeks away. This year Passover begins on the evening of Friday, April 6th, which is also the day that Christians through-out the world will be observing Good Friday (the traditional day of the week that Yeshua was crucified). On Passover Eve, Jewish families gather to have a festive meal called a “seder” in which there are special readings that tell about the Exodus from Egypt. Through a book called a “haggadah”, Jews remember the plight of their ancestors and how God through Moses miraculously saved and redeemed them from their oppressive state in Egypt. This celebration of Passover, which has been  an institution of the Jewish people for thousands of years also has special significance for the Messianic community today that is made up of Gentile Christians as well as Jewish believers of Messiah Yeshua(Jesus).

My home congregation Baruch HaShem Messianic Synagogue (BHS) is not having a corporate Seder this year. This is the first time that I know of that they are not hosting a congregational Seder. The reasoning is that they wanted to go smaller this year and encourage greater fellowship amongst the BHS family by having members host a home seder (which is how the first Passover recorded in Scripture is celebrated as well as all subsequent Passover’s since the destruction of the 2nd Temple) and invite other BHS attendees and guests. In preparation for this Rabbi Marty Waldman taught a very demonstrative and interactive Passover Seder training course in which he walked through the entire Haggadah. In addition to this, I have also been studying The JPS Commentary on the Haggadah by Joseph Tabory in preparation for the home seder I will be leading this year. In the Foreward to The JPS Commentary, Professor David Stern says that Tabory is “one of the world’s leading authorities on the Haggadah”. Needless to say I came across plenty of insight and I got the idea to chronicle a short summary of that First Passover up to the time of Rabbi Hillel, Rabbi Shammai and the Rabbi Yeshua from Natzeret, who they call Mashiach.

A Quick History Lesson (Exodus 1-13)

Under the Pharoah of that time, the Israelites had become enemies of the state and the Egyptians  feared them causing a revolution. Due to this, the Israelites endured many hardships including  infanticide and harsh slavery.  Through Moses and his brother Aaron, God made Himself known to His people Israel, as well as the Egyptians by His judgment upon the so-called gods of Egypt. God’s power and sovereignty was made known through the 10 plagues, which culminated in the death of the firstborn. The Israelites were told to apply the blood of a lamb to their door posts so that the Angel of Death would “passover” their homes. Due to the Israelites trust in this provision of God, they were saved from death and given the opportunity to have a new life no longer bound by the shackles of their previous existence but freedom to serve the God of their ancestors Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.

The “Egyptian Passover”

Some scholars refer to the Passover spoken of in Exodus 12 as the “Egyptian Passover”. The Rabbincal Sages considered the instructions from Exodus 12:11 to be a onetime occurence and a permanent distinction of that first Passover and every other that would come after it.  “In this manner you shall eat it: with your belt fastened, your sandals on your feet, and your staff in your hand. And you shall eat it in haste. It is the LORD’s Passover.”  Modern Samaritans on the other hand still consider this instruction to be applicable today.

The Torah itself doesn’t make any other distinction in regard to the timeliness of the meal, but it is assumed that Passover in post-Exodic times were festive and leisurely. The Torah does suggest a change in setting, from home based to Temple based in Deuteronomy 16:2  “And you shall offer the Passover sacrifice to the LORD your God, from the flock or the herd, at the place that the LORD will choose, to make his name dwell there.” This change in setting would happen once the Israelites had settled in the Promised Land and God had chosen a place for His dwelling (The Temple).

The only items mentioned in Scripture that were on the table that first Passover were: 1. Lamb (The actual Passover sacrifice) 2. Unleavened Bread 3. Bitter Herbs as it says in Exodus 12:8  “They shall eat the flesh that night, roasted on the fire; with unleavened bread and bitter herbs they shall eat it.” The cups of wine, haroset (apple and nut mixture), debates about lettuce or horseradish, etc etc. were much later additions.

The Torah also omits any instructions for any specific ceremony connected with the meal though the Torah does suggests that some type of narrative or commentary would accompany the meal for later generations in Exodus 12:26-27  “And when your children say to you, ‘What do you mean by this service?’ you shall say, ‘It is the sacrifice of the LORD’s Passover, for he passed over the houses of the people of Israel in Egypt, when he struck the Egyptians but spared our houses.’” Also in Exodus 13:8 “You shall tell your son on that day, ‘It is because of what the LORD did for me when I came out of Egypt.’ I agree with Tabory when he states that it would be “hard to imagine that a meal in the memory of the Exodus would not be used by parents to transmit the story of the Exodus to the younger generation – even if there were no specific Torah mandate.”

It was a night of watching by the LORD, to bring them out of the land of Egypt; so this same night is a night of watching kept to the LORD by all the people of Israel throughout their generations.
(Exodus 12:42 ESV)

For additional insight into the “Egyptian Passover” check out Rabbi Derek Leman’s recent post on the matter The First Passover.

Next Time (Hopefully by next weekend:-): Post-Exodic Passover to the Men of the Great Assembly

May grace and shalom be multiplied upon you in the name of Yeshua the Messiah!

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Passover Combo

Today is the first official day of the Passover/Feast of Unleavened Bread Holiday. In our house we got started a bit early, and though we didn’t need a reason to start the celebration early, there are some good ones to note this year. To begin with, I love it when Passover and Passion week coincide together. To me it adds an extra element or sense of how big God’s community is around the world when you have billions of believers reading and memorializing the same texts and events at the same time. We hosted our first Seder for some family and friends this past Sunday night and had a wonderful evening. It was cool to us that this was Palm Sunday, which starts the Passion week and memorializes Yeshua riding into Jerusalem on the donkey while the crowds were shouting Hosanna and waving and placing palm branches at his feet. Also, depending on how you reconcile the Gospel accounts and which commentary you read, Yeshua could have had his last Seder with his disciples a night early and then was led to be crucified at the same time the actual Passover lambs were sacrificed the next afternoon.

For our first Seder at our house, we chose to utilize the recently updated Passover Encounter Haggadah by First Fruits of Zion. The Passover Encounter Haggadah is not an orthodox Haggadah but does follow the order of a traditional Seder and includes relevent texts from it. The heart of the Passover Encounter Haggadah and its main thrust is to connect Christians in solidarity with Messianic Jews and the Jewish community at large. To join the Jewish people in celebrating the historical Exodus from Egypt while at the same time focusing, honoring and making explicit our trust in Yeshua as the Messiah and the historical work that he did on the cross to provide forgiveness of sins and make redemption available to all mankind, Jew and Gentile. The flow of the Passover Encounter texts were easy to incorporate into a group setting and the optional discussion points were great for additional thoughts and ideas.

We had our second Seder last night with Sar Shalom Messianic Congregation. Sar Shalom used to be Heritage Fellowship and they just recently relocated from about 25 minutes from our house to less than five. This move made travel nice for us and now obligates us to check them out on a deeper level soon since they are now in our own back yard. This is the second year in a row that we have joined Rabbi Mark Griffin’s congregation for a Passover. Rabbi Griffin makes it a point to keep the focus on our Passover Lamb, Yeshua and make much of him through-out the traditional ceremony of the evening.  I commented to Rabbi Griffin after the Seder, that I have now been to half a dozen Passover Seder’s and no two have been alike. It’s true that the Passover Seder and it’s text the Haggadah are living events and texts in the truest sense with additional insight gained with every re-telling and enactment. By the way, the Violin Guy that has been there the past two years is absolutely amazing and has been a highlight and would be worth just an evening alone.

***Addendum*** My wife got a message from a friend on Facebook mid Tuesday afternoon about a Seder ticket for Baruch HaShem Messianic Synagogue that had just come available. Baruch Hashem is the Messianic congregation in our area we are most familiar with and have been visiting them regularly for the past few years. We had wanted to go to their Seder but it sold out (600+) before the tickets went public. My wife was already scheduled to go to work that evening so she was unable to go but she asked if I’d be up for it and I jumped at the chance. The Seder was led by Rabbi Marty Waldman and like I said above about the other Seder’s, was in many ways the same (obviously there is a traditional order) but was in many ways unique to the leader and congregational style. This was definitely the largest Seder I had been a part of by a long shot and I commented to a friend afterwards that I felt this was the first time I really connected and got the symbolism and parallels of the Afikoman and the piece of bread Yeshua blessed and broke after dinner. So I guess originally I wrote this blog a day and Seder too soon. If I had only waited I could have posted the Hat-trick instead of the combo:-).

May you be blessed by Messiah Yeshua this season and beyond with grace and truth! Happy Passover 2011!!!

The Bread of Affliction and Freedom

With Passover less than a week away now, my wife and I have been busy over the past few days prepping for Passover. This will be the first year that we will be leading a family and friends Seder at our house and we’re a bit nervous but super excited. We will also be leading a Meal of Messiah Seder the following week for the 2nd year now to close out Passover/Feast of Unleavened Bread. For both of our Seder’s we will be utilizing resources produced by First Fruits of Zion and Vine of David. For Passover;  the Passover Encounter Haggadah. For Meal of Messiah; the Meal of Messiah Haggadah. As a part of my preparation, I have been re-reviewing the JPS Commentary on the Haggadah which is a book that I read last year as part of JBOM. You can read my posts about this book under the archives from Feb/March 2010.

On p. 82 of The JPS Commentary on the Haggadah, it has some interesting notes about the most common first verse that begins the Maggid or Narrative portion of the traditional Seder.

“Behold, this is the bread of affliction (or distress) that our ancestors ate while in Egypt.”

Though the commentary goes on to explain that some versions of the Haggadah have this slight variation as the first verse:

“Behold, this is the bread of affliction that our ancestors ate when they left Egypt.”

So why the discrepancy and which one is correct? The commentary goes on to explain that both variations are not contradictory but rather fit quite well in the context of the Passover story. Here is an excerpt of the explanation below:

“We might say that the bread is transformed from a symbol of distress to a symbol of freedom….because matzah is bread baked when there is no time to allow the dough to rise. The lack of time is the common element to slavery and the Exodus. The lack of time serves to symbolize the change in the status of the Jews-their time is now devoted to God and not to Pharaoh. They have been transformed from the slaves of Pharaoh to servants of God.”

This discussion about the bread of affliction and freedom from the JPS Commentary got me thinking about Yeshua who is our Passover and Bread from Heaven (represented by the matzoh at Passover, which is unleavened, striped, pierced and bruised). Yeshua our Messiah who was afflicted on account of our transgressions and was faithful according to the Father’s will to purchase our freedom by His sacrificial death. Yeshua’s death and resurrection by the power of the Holy Spirit transforms those who put their trust in His work from slaves to sin to servants of freedom, from works of the flesh to the fruit of the Spirit, from death to life. Amen and Amen!

“Cleanse out the old leaven that you may be a new lump, as you really are unleavened. For Christ, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed.” 1 Corinthians 5:7

“This is the bread that came down from heaven, not like the bread [1] the fathers ate and died. Whoever feeds on this bread will live forever.” John 6:58

“knowing that you were ransomed from the futile ways inherited from your forefathers, not with perishable things such as silver or gold, 19 but with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without blemish or spot.” 1 Peter 1:18-19

“Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted. 5 But he was wounded for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his stripes we are healed.” Isaiah 53:4-5

“For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” 2 Corinthians 5:21

May you and yours have a peaceful Passover this season and beyond by God’s amazing grace!

Shalom and grace be multiplied upon you in the name of Yeshua the Messiah!

The Tale of Two Passover Seder’s

First Night

On Monday night we attended our first seder of this Passover season in Euless, TX at Metroplex Messianic Fellowship www.metroplexmessianic.org. Metroplex Messianic Fellowship is a Torah Observant, Messiah Centered messianic congregation of about 75 people led by Rabbi Moshe (Marty) Cohen. This was our second year in a row to attend the Metroplex seder. This is a very well put together, laid back and enjoyable seder and is especially good for introducing someone to a Passover Seder who is unfamiliar with its themes. Rabbi Marty has been leading Passover Seder’s for 25 years and has conducted over 300 of them throughout the US. It is evident that Rabbi Marty has a gift in this area as he brings a very charismatic filled with Jewish humor approach to the evening. The room was set with round tables covered in white linens with water and wine (grape juice was provided as the fruit of the vine, unless you brought your own-we did :-)) glasses set along with the plates of Matzah, Karpas, Maror and Haroset for each individual. Dinner served was a Greek Salad, Matzah Ball Soup, Mashed Potatoes, Green Beans, and Chicken with Gravy (this meal was excellent and the catering team did a great job) accompanied by a tea station. There were probably about 200 people in attendance at this seder. The evening begin with a prayer by Rabbi Marty and then a 4-5 song set by Messianic Worship Artist Ted Pearce www.tedpearce.com that got everyone in a celebratory mood. It was announced that Ted and Rabbi Marty have been ministering at Passover Seder’s together for 19 years and it is such a blessing to have someone of Ted’s talent providing the soundtrack to the evening. After the initial song set the room was divided into two sections to begin the dinner lines, though not traditional (most would begin dinner after the second cup), this is something that really flows well at this seder. There’s more than enough food and you eat before the teaching and telling portion of the seder begins so your mind isn’t being controlled by your belly. During dinner, Ted continued to perform an additional 4-5 songs that begin to really build the anticipation for the telling of the Passover story. At 7:45 the teaching portion of the seder began and lasted until around 9:45. Though this Seder is not the most traditional in text or historical in details, it is wildly enjoyable and entertaining indeed! The only negative to the night was that it seemed the air conditioning wasn’t set properly for the room as there were many people breaking a sweat bead or two and fanning themselves throughout the night.  Here are some of the quotes and bits of info that I can remember from memory:

“Let the redeemed of the Lord say so!” An introduction to the Haggadah and fulfilling the commandment to tell the next generation.

Rabbi Marty asked the room to raise their hand if it was anyone’s first seder – about a third of the room from my vantage point, Praise God! Rabbi Marty really challenged us as both Jew’s and non-Jew’s to share and live Messiah in a way that would provoke Jew’s to jealousy a la Romans 11.

“For many years the Passover Seder was conducted orally, but each year after the four cups of wine, the participants didn’t remember this year’s seder being like last year’s seder” On why the seder had to be written down.

” I understand now why Christian mother’s don’t like Jewish mother’s….Jewish mother’s invented Spring cleaning” Talking about the process of removing the leaven from the house.

“After Moshe left Egypt, he did what every Jewish man has been doing for centuries…..he married a gentile bride and started working for her father”

Rabbi Marty believes it is possible that the disciples families were in the same room as Yeshua but at different tables due to the high priority of this being a family meal.

Rabbi Marty stated that the numerical value of Chai which means “life” in Hebrew is 18. 18 is also the number of minutes determined for the process to make unleavened bread, which was the bread of affliction that became the bread of life for Israel coming out of Egypt.

I pray that God continues to bless Rabbi Marty, Ted, and the whole congregation of Metroplex Messianic Fellowship and I thank them and all who had a part in putting together such a wonderful seder and start to this festival season. Amen.


Second Night

On Tuesday night we attended our second Passover Seder in Denton, TX at Heritage Messianic Fellowship www.heritagedfw.com. My brother Brandon has been going to school at North Texas University in Denton and had come across this congregation last year. Denton is a very artsy and eccentric college town and Heritage is a small messianic congregation with a heart for Israel and the Jewish people along with a passion for raising up disciples of Yeshua in college ministry. This seder was special in that we had a lot of family and close friends that were able to attend with us and it was such a blessing to see their faces and have their fellowship. The seder was led by Pastor Mark who is the lead teaching and preaching pastor at Heritage and though this seder was about half the size (100 people) of the one we attended on Monday, due to the size and warm setting of the room this seder had a very welcoming and intimate feel. The seder began at 7pm and ended about 10pm. The flow of the evening went well as we recited the traditional blessings and texts along with many unique insights and parallels to Yeshua that I hadn’t heard taught before at a seder. After the second cup we were served a magnificent mediterranean meal consisting of a Greek salad, roasted vegetables, humus, chicken, beef and lamb. Throughout the evening and especially during the meal we were treated to a classical violinist (I don’t remember his name? I should he was amazing!) who played traditional Jewish folk songs and many Fiddler on the Roof number’s that got many on their feet and dancing around the room. I couldn’t believe how fast the night had went when we came to the fourth cup of wine and said the final blessing’s of the meal. I am always left longing for more of the sights, sounds and tastes of this blessed festival. One day soon and may it be next year in Jerusalem!

Each year at Passover I come away with new and renewed insights about the Grace of God, His Redemption, Slavery, Freedom and what it all means to us as a people of God and myself individually to have been purchased with such a costly price and to walk out our salvation collectively and individually in a manner worthy of His calling. Halleluyah for Messiah Yeshua!

Chag Sameach!!!

Holidays: Pesach is Coming!

As I write this, we are one week away from Pesach (Passover) – The Feast of Redemption. We picked up a couple of boxes of Kosher for Passover Matzah today after visiting 4 or 5 grocery stores in our area that only had Kosher-but not for Passover Matzah (at this point I am unsure of the difference?). We also started cleaning out the pantry and marking items in the fridge and freezer that had to either be eaten or put out by next Monday due to their leavening content. This physical exercise of preparing our homes and scrutinizing our dwelling places is a great yearly activity and reminder of the carefulness and diligence we should have in our spiritual lives empowered by the Holy Spirit with Messiah in us, to rid our hearts and minds of the “leaven” which is left over from our old nature, which left unchecked can all too easily spoil and puff us up full of pride, hard-heartedness and deceit.