by Hermanus W. Smeenk

During the evening of April 6, 2001, Nisan 14 according to the Jewish calendar, many devout worshipers observed the feast of the Passover.

Although the congregations observed the same feast, they followed different traditions.

Some followed the traditions recorded by Moses as commanded by the God of Israel, Yehowah or the Eternal, while others believe that Christ changed the Passover symbols during the observance of the Passover by Christ and His disciples the night before He was betrayed, beaten, and killed by the rulers of the Jews and the Roman occupation forces.

The change, they believe, came about when Christ told his disciples to remember his death when they eat the unleavened bread and drink the wine.

In addition, these individuals also point to Paul's chastisement of the Corinthians in I Corinthians 11:19-22.

Some individuals have even advanced the theory that Paul thought it to be a heresy to eat and drink during the observance of the Passover or Lord's Supper as it is interpreted in the King James version of the bible.

There are two different ways of observing the Passover.

The one group points to the Law and the Prophets for the reason of following their tradition while the other group points to the writings of the Apostles for their reason of following their tradition.

Which one is correct or does it make any difference how it is observed?

Let us go to the Bible to find an answer to these questions.

(We'll limit this research into the Bible to what should be done for the Passover and leave the question for when it should be observed for another time).

The first time the bible records the requirement for Israel to observe the Passover is in Exodus 12:1-11.

In these verses, the Eternal gives Moses specific instructions on how to observe the Passover.

The Israelites were to pick a lamb, a male of the first year, without blemish, kill it and roast it with fire, and eat it with unleavened bread and bitter herbs.

In verse 14, the Eternal adds "And this day shall be unto you for a memorial; and you shall keep it a feast to the Eternal throughout your generations; you shall keep it a feast by an ordinance forever."

Notice the emphasis that the Eternal uses in that He stated twice - for added emphasis - that the feast must be kept forever.

Moses also relates this same requirement to the Israelites in verse 24-- "...And you shall observe this thing for an ordinance to you and to your sons forever" and, continuing in verse 25, "...And it shall come to pass, when you be come to the land which the Eternal will give you, according as He has promised, that you shall keep this service".

In Exodus 12:43 the Eternal tells Moses observance of the Passover is limited to the children of Israel when He says to Moses, "There shall no stranger eat thereof."

However, reading further, we find that the Eternal explains which strangers may eat the Passover in Exodus 12:48 "…when a stranger shall sojourn with you and will keep the Passover to the Eternal, let all his males be circumcised, and then let him come near and keep it; and he shall be as one that is born in the land; for no uncircumcised person shall eat thereof."

So here we find that the restriction in Exodus 12:43 is not so much against strangers but against those individuals that are not circumcised.

(Here we also see that the Eternal is very adamant that anyone who comes to Him must be circumcised in the flesh).

Notice, however, that the same laws apply to the strangers, or those not born into the tribes of Israel, as are applied to Israel as we see in Joshua 5.

In Joshua 5:2, we read: "At that time the Eternal said to Joshua, 'Make sharp knives, and circumcise again the children of Israel the second time."

In verses 4 and 5 of this chapter we read the explanation of what the Eternal was talking about when He said to "circumcise the children of Israel the second time."

Here we find that: "And this is the cause why Joshua did circumcise: All the people that came out of Egypt, that were males, died in the wilderness by the way, after they came out of Egypt.

Now all the people who came out were circumcised; but all the people that were born in the wilderness by the way as they came forth out of Egypt, they had not been circumcised."

Why did the children of Israel have to be circumcised at this point?

They were about to enter into the Promised Land and the observance of the Passover was near as is explained in Joshua 5: 8-10.

We read: "And it came to pass, when they had done circumcising all the people, that they abode in their places in the camp, till they were healed.

And the Eternal said unto Joshua: 'This day have I rolled away the reproach of Egypt from off you.' Wherefore the name of the place is called Gilgal to this day. And the children of Israel encamped in Gilgal, and kept the Passover on the fourteenth day of the month at even in the plains of Jericho."

This was in observance of that which the Eternal had commanded Moses shortly before the first Passover observance as recorded in Exodus 12:25.

In Numbers 9:6-7 we find that anyone who has been defiled is not allowed to participate in the observance of the Passover.

In those situations, the Eternal arranged for those individuals to observe the Passover on the fourteenth day of the second month at even, Numbers 9:9-11.

What does the bible define as being defiled?

In Leviticus 11 the Eternal commanded Israel to observe the law of clean and unclean animals and things.

In verses 43 through 45 He commanded Israel: "You shall not make yourselves abominable with any creeping thing that creeps, neither shall you make yourselves unclean with them, that you should be defiled thereby. For I am the Eternal your Elohim; you shall therefore sanctify yourselves, and you shall be holy; for I am holy; neither shall you defile yourselves with any manner of creeping thing that creeps upon the earth. For I am the Eternal that brings you up out of the land of Egypt, to be your God (Elohim). You shall therefore be holy, for I am holy."

Also, in Leviticus 21:1-2 the priests were also warned not to be defiled by the dead among the people except for those of their immediate family, father, mother, brother, son, daughter, and a sister who is a virgin and has not been married.

An application of this commandment is recorded in II Chronicles where King Hezekiah commanded the people of Judah to observe the Passover and also sent letters to the northern ten tribes to invite them to Jerusalem to observe the Passover with them.

In II Chronicles 30:3 we read: "For they could not keep it (Passover) at that time, because the priests had not sanctified themselves sufficiently, neither has the people gathered themselves together to Jerusalem."

As a result, they observed the Passover on the fourteenth day of the second month (verses 13-15): And there assembled at Jerusalem much people to keep the feast of unleavened bread in the second month, a very great congregation. And they arose and took away the altars that were in Jerusalem, and all the altars for incense took they away, and cast them into the brook Kidron. Then they killed the passover on the fourteenth day of the second month: and the priests and the Levites were ashamed and sanctified themselves, and brought in the burnt offerings into the house of the Eternal."

Furthermore, the priests also sanctified the people (verses 16-20) "And they stood in their place after their manner, according to the law of Moses the man of God (Elohim); the priests sprinkled the blood, which they received of the hand of the Levites. For there were many in the congregation that were not sanctified: therefore the Levites had the charge of the killing of the passovers for every one that was not clean, to sanctify them unto the Eternal. For a multitude of the people, even many of Ephraim, Manasseh, Issachar, and Zebulun, had not cleansed themselves, yet did they eat the passover otherwise than it was written. But Hezekiah prayed for them, saying, 'The good Eternal pardon every one that prepares his heart to seek God (Elohim), the Eternal Elohim of his fathers, though he be not cleansed according to the purification of the sanctuary. And the Eternal hearkened to Hezekiah and healed the people."

For more examples, see also II Chronicles 35 which describes the observance of the Passover in the days of king Josiah, and Ezra 6 describing how the Jews of the captivity observed the Passover when they had returned to Jerusalem.

In Deuteronomy 16:2 we also find that the Passover was to be observed in a specific place chosen by the Eternal.

We read: "You shall therefore sacrifice the Passover to the Eternal your God (Elohim) of the flock and the herd, in the place which the Eternal shall choose to place His name there."

Further, in verses 5 and 6 the Eternal commands Israel: "You may not sacrifice the Passover within any of your gates, which the Eternal your Elohim gives to you, but at the place which the Eternal your Elohim shall choose to place His name in, there you shall sacrifice the Passover at even, at the going down of the sun, at the season that you came forth out of Egypt.

Jesus also observed the Passover according as it was commanded in the books of the law and had become the custom among the Jews as related to us in Luke 2:41-43.

Here we read: "Now his parents went to Jerusalem every year at the feast of the Passover. When he was twelve years old, they went up to Jerusalem after the custom of the Feast. And when they had fulfilled the days, as they returned, the child Jesus tarried behind in Jerusalem; and Joseph and his mother knew not of it."

Also, in John 2:13 and 23, John recorded for us: "And the Jews' Passover was at hand, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem…..Now when He was in Jerusalem at the Passover, in the feast day, many believed in His name, when they saw the miracles which He did."

Furthermore, Jesus kept the Passover shortly before His death with his disciples as recorded in Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John.

In Matthew 26:17-19 we read: "Now the first day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread the disciples came to Jesus, saying unto Him, 'Where will you that we prepare for you to eat the Passover?' And He said, 'Go into the city to such a man, and say to him 'The Master said 'My time is at hand; I will keep the Passover at your house with my disciples' and the disciples did as Jesus had appointed them; and they made ready the passover."

In Luke 22:14-20 is a description of how Jesus observed the Passover with His disciples.

"And when the hour was come, He sat down, and the twelve apostles with him. And He said to them, 'With desire I have desired to eat this passover with you before I suffer. For I say to you, I will not anymore eat of it until it is fulfilled in the kingdom of God (Elohim).' And He took the cup gave thanks and said 'Take this and divide among yourselves: For I say to you, I will not drink of the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God shall come.' And he took bread, and gave thanks, brake it, and gave to them saying, 'This is my body which is given for you; this do in remembrance of me.' Likewise also the cup, after supper, saying , 'This cup is the new testament (covenant) in my blood which is shed for you.'

It is symbolic that Jesus took the cup, which was the last cup of wine, after supper.

The Jews traditionally drink four times from the wine cup. Each drink from the cup has a special significance - an expression of redemption.

These expressions can also be found in Exodus 6:6-8 where the Eternal tells Moses the 7 things He will do for Israel.

The first cup signifies the first thing the Eternal will do: "I will bring you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians" or in Hebrew "V'hotzaiti - and I removed you."

The second cup signifies the second expression: "I will rid you out of their bondage" or "V'hitzalti - and I rescued you."

The third cup signifies the third expression: "I will redeem you with a stretched out arm" or in Hebrew "V'ga'alti - and I redeemed you."

The fourth and final cup signifies the fourth expression: "And I will take you to me for a people" or in Hebrew "V'lakachti - and I took you."

When Jesus took the last cup and gave it to His disciples he was also signifying that he was taking them out of the world and they would become His people (apostles) to be His witnesses, even as Israel was to be the Eternal's witnesses when they came to the Holy land.

Here, then, we also see the beginning of the next phase of God's work where He makes His Holy Spirit available to those Israelites (and a few gentiles) whom the Father will call (John 6:44).*

Luke is the only gospel account in which Jesus commanded the disciples to break and eat the unleavened bread in remembrance of Him.

None of the other gospel accounts mention this.

We see from Luke's description (see also John 13 for a further description) that Jesus and His disciples continued to observe the Passover according to the custom of the Jews and the law of Moses.

According to Luke, every one drank from the same cup at the start of the Passover observation before eating the passover (lamb) and eating the unleavened bread.

When the time came for eating the unleavened bread (in Chapter 26:26 Matthew wrote that as they were eating, Jesus took bread), Jesus blessed it, divided it among his disciples and likened it to His body which would be given for them, and told them to do this in remembrance of Him.

Notice that He blessed the wine AFTER they finished eating the supper likening the wine to His blood that would be shed for them.

NOTICE THAT JESUS DID NOT command the disciples to drink the wine in remembrance of Him as He commanded them to do in the case of the unleavened bread.

NOTICE ALSO THAT JESUS DID NOT SAY that from that point forward the apostles and those that were to believe on Him and would also become His disciples through their preaching of the word were to change the custom of the Passover observance and eat only a piece of unleavened bread and drink a small amount of wine.

You will not find this recorded anywhere in the Bible.

Rather, the only way in which one can reconcile the commandment that the Eternal issued to observe the Passover in all the generations of the Israelites and the commandment by Jesus to eat the broken unleavened bread in remembrance of Him (For I am the Eternal, I CHANGE NOT… Malachi 3:6) is to understand that this was IN ADDITION TO the way the Passover was being observed."

Furthermore, we read in Matthew 5:17-18: "Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfill. For verily I say to you, till heaven and earth pass, one jot or tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled."

Which law was Jesus talking about -- the 10 commandments?

NO, he was talking about the entire bible, or Torah, as the Jews call it.

In Matthew 12:5, Jesus, talking to the Pharisees asks them: "Or have you not read in the law, how that on the sabbath days the priests in the temple profane the sabbath, and are blameless?"

This is quoted by Jesus from Numbers 28:9.

Also, in John 10:34, Jesus tells those who are about to stone him because the Jews accused Him of making Himself God: "…Is it not written in your law, I said, You are gods?" Here Jesus is quoting Psalm 82:6.

Many other quotations by Jesus in which he points to the Jews' law all indicate that Jesus was talking about the entire Torah (Old Testament as it is now called) when He said that He did not come to destroy the law.

The commandment to Israel to observe the Passover by killing a lamb and eating it with unleavened bread and bitter herbs is a part of that law which Jesus was talking about.

Therefore, we should continue to observe the Passover as originally commanded WITH THE ADDITION OF REMEMBERING THE BROKEN BODY AND SHED BLOOD OF JESUS CHRIST.

So, how often should we do this, every Sabbath?

No, in accordance with the law, at least once a year on the fourteenth of Nisan at even as commanded by the Eternal to Moses.

The disciples were to take the bread and drink the wine as a memorial to the death of Christ.

According to Paul where he writes in I Corinthians 11:26 "for as oft as you eat this bread and drink this cup, you show the Lord's death until He comes."

Paul said this because, apparently, the early disciples customarily came together to eat and drink together.

We can read in the prior verses of chapter 11 and as we also find in Acts 4:32 where we read that the disciples had all things in common.

So, they appeared to practice the command to remember the Lord's death whenever they ate the bread and drank from the cup.

 Some will say that in I Corinthians 11:19-29, Paul berated the Corinthians for coming eating and drinking together and that they were only to observe the breaking of the unleavened bread and drinking of the wine.

The interpretation of this passage seems to validate a change of the observance of Passover according to the customs of the Jews and a change in the law which Jesus Christ emphatically denied that he came to do.

Did Paul, who was taught the law at the feet of Gamaliel, the most revered doctor of law at the time, change the law of Moses?

The same Paul who, even towards the end of his ministry, still called himself a Pharisee and a son of a Pharisee (Acts 23:6), someone who was so strict in observing the law, that he said of himself in Philippians 3:6 that, as to the righteousness which is in the law he was blameless?

Would this same Paul turn now turn around and change that same law that he revered so much during his whole life?

Of course not.

Paul wasn't berating the Corinthians for eating together or observing the Passover but for their attitude and the MANNER IN WHICH THEY ate and drank together and OBSERVED THE PASSOVER.

The Corinthians were being gluttonous and becoming drunk from too much wine.

Therefore, Paul wrote in I Corinthians 11:27: "Wherefore whosoever shall eat this bread, and drink of this cup unworthily shall be guilty of the body and blood of the Eternal."

The behavior of the Corinthians indicated that they were still living according to the flesh, living in sin by being gluttonous and drunken.

This behavior did not exhibit a cleansing and sanctification of their way of life...but they continued to live in a defiled state of mind.

Remember, Israel had to sanctify and to cleanse themselves before they could come to observe the Passover.

This same law applies to the converted strangers or gentiles that wanted to observe the Passover because, in this regard, they are bound by the same laws as the Israelites.

Paul strongly emphasizes to the Corinthians the seriousness of remembering the broken body and shed blood of Jesus Christ when observing the commanded memorial of Christ's death.

The Corinthians did not exhibit the proper attitude in the manner that they observed the attitude when observing the memorial of His death.

Furthermore, we need to remember that Christ came to fulfill or magnify the law. Paul tells the Corinthians in Chapter 11:1 where we read: "BE YOU FOLLOWERS OF ME, EVEN AS I ALSO AM OF CHRIST."

Therefore, Paul, as well as all of the other apostles who imitated Christ, also lived in such a way as to magnify the law.

And just as Christ did not come to change the law, so also Paul did not change any part of the law.

If you were taught that Paul changed the way we should live from the way Christ lived and that he started a new religion called "Christianity", then you have been deceived along with billions of others by the teaching of that great church and her daughters identified in Revelation 17.

God, the Most High, the Father of Jesus Christ, tells His people to come out from her (Babylon) that they should not partake of her sins nor receive of her plagues (Revelation 18:4).

What about you?

If you have always believed that the observance of the Passover as commanded to Moses and Israel by the Eternal was changed by Jesus Christ or by Paul, then you have been deceived also and must heed that warning given by the Most High.

As long as you continue to cling to false teachings such as these, you continue to live in Babylon.

Come out of her while there is still time to learn and abide by the truth.

The truth will not always be preached as we read in Amos 8:11, "Behold, the days come, says the Eternal Elohim, that I will send a famine in the land, not a famine of bread, nor a thirst for water, but of hearing the words of the Eternal."

Continue to read the next chapter titled "When Will Christ Return?"

* I am indebted to M. Joseph for helping me with the content of this section of the bible study

  Return to Table Contents