Dear prayer partners,
The month of March usually coincides with the Hebrew month of Nisan, which “shall be for you the beginning of months.” (Ex 12:2) It is in this month, on the night of the first full moon of spring, that the Jewish people celebrate one of the most important Biblical feasts: the Passover. The Church usually celebrates Easter around the same time. This year, the Passover Seder, the festive meal to mark the beginning of the seven-day feast, falls exactly on Good Friday, providing a valuable opportunity to take a look at the connection between the Jewish and Christian traditions.
During the Passover celebration, the Jewish people recall a defining moment of their national history. They were slaves in Egypt and cried out to God for help. And God heard their groaning, and remembered the covenant with Abraham, with Isaac, and with Jacob. God rescued them with His mighty hand and outstretched arm.
When the showdown between Moses and Pharaoh came to its climax, God commanded the Israelites to take a lamb without blemish and slaughter it. Then they were to put the lamb’s blood on the doorposts and the lintel of the houses in which they lived. They learned that the blood of the lamb would make the difference between life and death:
“For I will pass through the land of Egypt on that night and will strike all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, both man and beast; and against all the gods of Egypt I will execute judgment: I am the Lord. Now the blood shall be a sign for you on the houses where you are. And when I see the blood, I will pass over you.” (Ex 12:12-13)
What a splendid picture of the salvation through the blood of Jesus! When John the Baptist saw Him, he declared, “Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.” Jesus died on the cross for our sins, and His blood applied to our lives rescues us from death. Jesus said, “He who hears My word and believes in Him who sent Me has everlasting life, and shall not come into judgment, but has passed from death into life.” (John 5:24)
Jesus fulfilled the picture of the Passover lamb, and it is no coincidence that He died exactly on Passover. This biblical feast provides the most direct connection between the Old and the New Testaments. It illustrates that we Christians need to study the whole Bible, including the Old Testament, in order to fully understand and appreciate God’s perfect plan.
It is also useful to get acquainted with the Jewish tradition of keeping the Passover Seder. It is an elaborate meal with many symbolic elements and a complicated structure. It turns out that the description of the Last Supper in the Gospels contains many hints which can only be understood if we know the Jewish Seder. For instance, when Jesus took the cup after they had eaten and said, “This cup that is poured out for you is the new covenant in my blood,” (Lk 22:20) he used what is known as the cup of redemption, which is drunk after the meal.
Let us celebrate the feast this year with a thankful heart, remembering that through Christ we have been joined to the commonwealth of Israel and share in God’s covenants with the Jewish people.
And let us pray for the Jewish people that as they sit at the Passover table, God might open their eyes to see His salvation. One of the traditional elements placed on the table and meant to symbolize the Passover lamb is a shank bone, in Hebrew called zroa. Although, the word zroa is not normally used for a bone. In the Hebrew Bible, it denotes the mighty Arm of God, and is featured prominently in Isaiah 53: “Who has believed our report? And to whom has the arm (zroa) of the Lord been revealed?” Let us pray that the Messiah as described in this chapter is revealed to many at this year’s Passover table.
Thank you for joining our Isaiah62 prayer movement!
Shalom from Jerusalem,
ICEJ VP Interational Affairs