Passover (Pesach) is an eight day holiday that commemorates the liberation of the children of Israel from slavery in Egypt by the outstretched arm of the LORD and the blood of the Lamb some 3,000 years ago. Since the events of the Exodus led directly to the covenant given at Sinai (and the revelation of the altar), Passover also memorializes the emergence of the nation of Israel in history.
The Passover Seder remembers the fateful night when the faithful were protected by the blood of the lamb - a clear picture of the sacrifice of Yeshua the Messiah as Seh HaElohim - the "Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world" John 1:29. Before his crucifixion, Yeshua used the symbolism and imagery of the Passover Seder to foretell of the New Covenant given in his broken body and shed blood. His followers were expected to purge out the "the old leaven" and to keep the feast, understanding how He is the embodiment of this sacred holiday. ``Get rid of the old yeast, so that you may be a new unleavened batch—as you really are. For Christ, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed.``1 Corinthians 5:7
Passover is divided into two parts: The first two days and last two days are full-fledged holidays, and Seders are celebrated on both days. Holiday candles are lit at night, and kiddush (recited blessings) and sumptuous holiday meals are enjoyed. We don’t work, but we are permitted to cook.The middle four days are called chol hamoed, semi-festive “intermediate days,” when most forms of work are permitted.
Passover/Pesach Laws and Customs
There are two main observances in Preparation for Passover/Pesach
First, the search and removal of all Chametz
NO CHAMETZ - How do you say that word? It is pronounced with the accent on the second syllable: cha-METZ.Taking it one sound at a time:ch - as in "Bach" - a rough guttural sound like when you clear your throat (but briefly) a - as in "father", but brieferm - as usual... how else can you pronounce m?e - as in set, though perhaps with a bit of "ay as in say" mixed intz - like the "ts" in "pets"Except for the first sound, it's similar to how a baseball fan says "the Mets".
Jewish tradition considers Pesach to be the start of Chag HaMotzi - the Feast of Unleavened Bread, and therefore no chametz is eaten for the eight days from Nisan 14 through Nisan 22.
To commemorate the unleavened bread that the Israelites ate when they left Egypt, there is no eating —or even retain of it in our possession—any chametz from midday of Passover until the conclusion of the holiday. This is the most significant observance throughout the eight day holiday. It commemorates the fact that the Jews leaving Egypt were in a hurry, and did not have time to let their bread rise. It is also a symbolic way of removing sin (arrogance, pride, puffiness) from us.
Chametz means leavened grain—any food or drink that contains even a trace of wheat, barley, rye, oats, spelt or their derivatives, and which wasn’t guarded from leavening or fermentation. This includes bread, cake, cookies, cereal, pasta and most alcoholic beverages. Most any processed food or drink can be assumed to have chametz unless certified otherwise.
Removing chametz from the home is an intensive process. It involves a full-out spring-cleaning search-and-destroy mission during the weeks before Passover, and culminates with a ceremonial search for chametz on the night before Passover. You are to go through the house with a flash light and a feather to sweep up every crumb or chametz in every corner of the house and remove it. Any children in the house are to assist with the search. The last chametz is gotten rid of either by ceremonial burning outside the home, while contemplating one’s own egotism, self-inflating pride and how it adversely affect our relationships with God and others, or disposal by being sold to a non-Jew, for the duration of the holiday (as long as it is not for profit).
It sounds funny to be so serious about this, until you realize that chamet is a symbol of our sinful, unredeemed nature. God does not take it lightly, and we can see that in these practices.
Thank God for the blood of Jesus, the perfect Lamb of God that has covered all this for us. We need only remember Him and announce Him and be covered. By the blood of the Lamb and the Word of our testimony, He makes us righteous and clean. And that is what this feast is teaching us, the seriousness of our previous fallen state and the value of the blood of the spotless Lamb who was slain for us, once and for all. Now we do this in remembrance of the covenant He has made of us.
Second, the fast of the firstborn
If a woman's first child is a male child born by natural childbirth, then the child must be redeemed from a kohein – a priest by a procedure called Pidyon Ha-Ben. In addition, firstborn males must observe a special fast the day before Pesach-Passover, commemorating the fact that they were saved from the plague of the first born. This ritual Pidyon Ha-Ben, literally means, Redemption of the Son. A firstborn son must be redeemed after he reaches 31 days of age. The child is redeemed by paying a small sum (five silver shekels in biblical times; today, usually five silver dollars) to a kohein-priest (preferably a pious one familiar with the procedure) and performing a brief ritual. This procedure is commanded at Num. 18:15-16.
The Story in a Nutshell
After many decades of slavery to the Egyptian pharaohs, during which time the Israelites were subjected to backbreaking labor and unbearable horrors, God saw the people’s distress and sent Moses to Pharaoh with a message: “Send forth My people, so that they may serve Me.” But despite numerous warnings, Pharaoh refused to heed God’s command. God then sent upon Egypt ten devastating plagues, afflicting them and destroying everything from their livestock to their crops.
At the stroke of midnight of 15 Nissan in the year 2448 from creation (1313 BCE), God visited the last of the ten plagues on the Egyptians, killing all their firstborn. While doing so, God spared the Children of Israel, “passing over” their homes—hence the name of the holiday. Pharaoh’s resistance was broken, and he virtually chased his former slaves out of the land. The Israelites left in such a hurry, that the bread they baked as provisions for the way did not have time to rise. Six hundred thousand adult males, plus many more women and children, left Egypt on that day, and began the trek to Mount Sinai and their birth as God’s chosen people.