Passover: First Mercy, then Miracles!

Jewish Days of Distinction--

By Bonnie Saul Wilks, MJBI Staff Writer
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Posted in Jewish HolidaysPesach on March 14, 2018

“In addition to the Sabbath, these are the LORD’s appointed festivals, the official days for holy assembly that are to be celebrated at their proper times each year” (Lev. 23:4 NLT).

Feast–Passover or Pesach

Summary–Passover or Pesach in Modern Hebrew is the Jewish festival of redemption that celebrates the miraculous historical story of the Exodus of the children of Israel from Egypt. This is the watershed event for the Jewish people, which freed them from slavery.

Passover starts on Nisan 14 through 22 on the Jewish calendar, and while not the holiest of the feast days, it is possibly the most widely observed among both secular and religious Jews today. Messianic Jews commemorate the Passover history of the Exodus traditionally as well as their spiritual freedom from the bondage of sin. Because of the shed blood of Yeshua as the sacrificed and risen Pascal Lamb of God, they celebrate this incredible event with great fulfillment and joy.

Read–Exodus 12

Hebrew Words–The Hebrew word for Passover is “Pesach” and traditionally means “to pass over” as the Lord passed over the Israelites’ homes that had lamb blood smeared on the lintels of the doorposts. The Angel of the Lord saw the blood and did not slay but “passed over” the firstborn.

The Hebrew connotation of the verb pesach in Isaiah 31:5 brings greater clarity in the Exodus narrative: “Like the birds that fly, even so will the LORD of Hosts shield Jerusalem, shielding and saving, hovering (pesach), and rescuing.” Imagine a mother eagle hovering over to shield and protect her eaglets in the nest. This is what the Lord of Hosts did as death passed through Egypt. God Himself hovered to save and protect His own.

The Hebrew word for compassion derives from this root, racham, meaning “womb.” Its meaning is to convey the deep, connected love of a parent who longs to protect and care for the needs of his or her child. This word is found in both the Old and New Covenants and is used to describe God’s extent of love toward His creation and people (Ps. 145:9; Isa. 49:15). It was also used to describe how Yeshua felt walking among His own and seeing their distress (Matt. 9:36).

Scriptures–“Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the whole world” (John 1:29). “Seeing the people, He felt compassion for them, because they were distressed and dispirited like sheep without a shepherd” (Matt. 9:36 NAS). “The Lord is good to all; He showers compassion on all He made” (Ps. 145:9 NLT).

Devotional Thoughts–Life’s journey is filled with pain (Job 5:7). Suffering is inescapable. The brokenhearted, desperate, lonely, hopeless, and faithless surround us daily. Sometimes we are oblivious because of the pressing need of the moment, but the hurting are ever-present. For some, each day is a battle of survival. Imagine the painful plight of the widow, abused child, prisoner, terminally ill, or mother whose son was killed in war. Often the need for mercy and miracles is the missing bridge that brings passage-way to relief.

The ancient Passover story is timeless. Not only is it a record of Jewish history, but it is a modern-day message of hope. It all started with the mercy and compassion of God toward His people, and it ended with a mighty display of the miraculous. The descendants of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob grew despondent in captivity; as year after year, their masters became more cruel and demanding. With earthly eyes, their situation was hopeless. But through miracle after miracle, God brought great deliverance.

Yeshua, a Jewish rabbi, remembered the story of the great exodus and celebrated Passover with His special band of followers the night before He died. His life story was filled to overflowing with pain and immeasurable suffering, too. Rejected and misunderstood by His own, Yeshua knew loneliness and ridicule (John 1:11). Born to a virgin, great controversy surrounded his birth. He knew what it was like to live on the fringe of judgment (John 8:41). Yet Yeshua did His Father’s business and moved with compassion through the land, changing all who encountered Him.

As the Master broke bread with his disciples during the last supper of Passover (Matt. 26:21), He knew that God required the giving of His life that night; and yet the message He spoke to His beloved friends was one of future hope! Yeshua told them clearly of His impending death and resurrection (Mark 14:28). Imagine that night after they celebrated the Passover together, Yeshua and His followers walked to the garden of Gethsemane. The disciples’ hearts grew heavy and sorrowful, yet Yeshua’s obedience to suffering and ultimately death and resurrection inaugurated a new dayfor mankind. A day of hope!

The original Passover began with God’s incredible mercy and ended in stunning miracles to bring about the freedom of His people. Each year Jewish people recount the miracles from the plagues, to the parting of the Red Sea. Each year their hearts are moved at how God acted to save them as a people group. But each miracle came about because of the heart of compassion that the Shepherd of Israel has for His lost flock.

The same is true of the life of Yeshua, who was the ultimate fulfillment of Passover as the Paschal Lamb. As he moved about the little country of Israel, his heart welled with love because of their distress. He constantly moved from mercy to miracles as He walked among the people. The mercy and miracles of Passover and the Life of Yeshua belong to us today. These should become part of our history as well. Ask God for mercy and compassion in your daily walk and believe for miracles (John 14:12).

Holiday Celebrations and Traditions- There are many traditions, foods, and songs surrounding Passover. The Seder, or liturgy, and meal are just one. At sundown the evening before Passover, Jewish people re-tell the history of the Exodus story in a ceremonial banquet called a seder. They read from a storybook called a Haggadah, eat special food like matzo-ball soup and gefilte fish, and sing traditional songs. There is a seder plate that contains five essential items that are symbolic of their history. This helps the children remember and never forget the history. They also do not eat leavened bread for seven days, and they conduct a thorough “spring” cleaning to get the house ready for Passover celebrations.