Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Passover Prep 2011

First of all, I realize that I haven't posted in a while, but things have gotten really busy. Next week is Passover and the other Spring Feasts. I have the privilege to host a Passover (with a full meal) for a group of 40+ people at a church in Traverse City. Most of these people haven't gone through something like this, so I thought I'd begin with a few opening comments. The following comes from the first 3 pages of the Haggadah that we'll be using. The idea about God marrying Israel comes from some recent teaching from Ray VanderLaan currently being held at Central Wesleyan Church in Holland, Michigan.

Passover is the Beginning of a Journey to a Wedding

Why did God redeem the Jewish people from slavery? To bring them to Himself as His bride.

Jeremiah 2:2 "Go and cry in the hearing of Jerusalem, saying, 'Thus says the LORD: "I remember you, The kindness of your youth, the love of your betrothal, When you went after Me in the wilderness, in a land not sown.

Exodus 20 is like a Ketubah – which is a marriage contract, 
often beautifully illustrated: 

The 10 commandments are like marriage vows:

Exodus 20:2-20
"I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land
 of Egypt, out of the house of bondage.
1 You shall have no other gods but Me. (no other lovers)
2 You shall not take the name of the LORD your God in vain…
3. Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy.  (Like “date night”.) The Sabbath is like a wedding band.

What is God’s love language? Obedience.  Obey his commandments.  God’s love language hasn’t changed!

Hosea 2:16-19
"And it shall be, in that day," Says the LORD, "That you will call Me 'My Husband,' and no longer call Me 'My Master,' For I will take from her mouth the names of the Baals, And they shall be remembered by their name no more. In that day I will make a covenant for them with the beasts of the field, with the birds of the air, and with the creeping things of the ground. Bow and sword of battle I will shatter from the earth, to make them lie down safely. "I will betroth you to Me forever; Yes, I will betroth you to Me In righteousness and justice, in lovingkindness and mercy; I will betroth you to Me in faithfulness, and you shall know the LORD.

Rev 19:9
Then he said to me, "Write: 'Blessed are those who are called to the marriage supper of the Lamb!'" And he said to me, "These are the true sayings of God."

Haggadah means “the telling” - of the greatest redemption story in history.
It is a story that has been retold for thousands of years, just as God had commanded:
Exodus 12:24-25:
“Obey these instructions as a lasting ordinance for you and your descendants. When you enter the land that the LORD will give you as He promised, observe this ceremony.”

This was later codified in the wilderness:
Leviticus 23:4-7:
These are the LORD’s appointed feasts, the sacred assemblies you are to proclaim at their appointed times: The LORD’s Passover begins at twilight on the fourteenth day of the first month. On the fifteenth day of that month the LORD’s Feast of Unleavened Bread begins; for seven days you must eat bread made without yeast. On the first day hold a sacred assembly and do no regular work.” 

The Passover ceremony, is then, not a Jewish thing; it was and is the LORD’s. It was so foundational to the life of Israel that God commanded that they change the first month of their calendar to the month of their deliverance (Nisan). When Israel left Egypt, it was a forsaking of the world; their rebirth as a nation. Crossing the Red Sea was like a Mikvah (baptism). The Bible mentions only a few times when Israel celebrated the Passover: when Israel finally entered the land (Joshua 5:7-9), during the reign of King Hezekiah (2 Chronicles 30), during the reign of King Josiah (2 Chronicles 35:1-17), and after the remnant returned from the Babylonian captivity (Ezra 6:19). In the New Testament, all of the Jews observed it regularly in Jerusalem, including Jesus, His family, and the disciples.
One of the key activities that a family did to prepare for the Passover was to remove all leaven from their home. Exodus 12:15 states “For seven days you are to eat matzah (bread made without yeast) – on the first day remove the leaven from your houses. For whoever eats chametz (leavened bread) from the first to the seventh days is to be cut off from Israel.” Preparation began with a thorough cleaning, culminating in a ceremonial search for leaven, called bedikat chametz. Leaven, in the Bible, usually represents sin. God was saying that He wanted them to remove sin from their lives, from their homes.
There is a parallel here in the actions of Yeshua (Jesus). On the last week of his earthly life, just as Passover was about to begin, Jesus came to the Temple area and turned over the money changer’s tables. He said to them, “It has been written, ‘My house will be called a house of prayer.’ But you are making it into a den of robbers!” (Matthew 21:13) In Hebrew, the temple is called the “Beit HaMikdosh” or “the Holy House”. Jesus was removing the leaven (sin) from His Father’s house before Passover. He then proceeded to spend four days in the Temple courts preaching and teaching as the authorities tried to find fault with Him, but they couldn’t. This is exactly what was done to the Passover lamb. It was put on display in the Temple area for four days to make sure that it was without spot or blemish. Then it was sacrificed, just as the original Passover lamb or goat was. We will cover this in more detail later.

These items were chosen to cause our senses to interact with the event. You are part of a dinner theater tonight. We will experience, in a small degree, what happened at the first prophetic Passover.  In so doing, we can better appreciate what happened when the Lamb of God came to take away the sins of the world. For He said to his closest friends:
So they prepared the Passover. When the hour came, Jesus and his apostles reclined at the table. And he said to them, ‘I have eagerly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer. For I tell you, I will not eat it again until it finds fulfillment in the kingdom of God.” Luke 22:13b-16
As we kindle the festival lights, we pray for the illumination of the Spirit of God to bring great personal meaning to this, our Passover celebration.
A Woman: (lighting the candles)
Barukh Atah Adonai Eloheynu Melech ha’olam asher kidshanu b’Yeshua HaMashiach, Or ha’olam u’Pesach shelanu

Blessed are You, O Lord our God, King of the universe, who sanctified us in Yeshua the Messiah, the Light of the World and our Passover Lamb
It is appropriate that the woman of the home lights the candles that bring light to the Passover celebration. It reminds us that Messiah Yeshua, the Light of the World, is the promised “seed of the woman” who will restore truth and overcome the powers of darkness. (Genesis 3:15)

And so the night that is different from all other nights will begin.

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