Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Why I Love Passover

Passover began at sunset last night, and our family had a nice seder, where we retold the story of Passover and enjoyed a holiday dinner together.  This has become my very favorite holiday ever!  Since my family and I started celebrating the Biblical Holidays, we have learned so much!  Every year I learn something new.  At Passover, we eat unleavened bread (matzah) for seven days, so here are seven reasons why I love Passover:

1.  I love the miraculous Exodus story that we tell every Passover, about the Hebrews and their deliverance from slavery under the Egyptians.  This is found in Exodus 12-13. We remember how God sent 10 plagues, and with each plague, Pharoh still refused to let the people go so that they could serve God.  Then came the last plague, the death of the firstborn.  The Israelites followed God's instructions by sacrificing a perfect lamb and brushing its blood on their doorposts, and their lives were spared.  The Egyptians experienced death in every household, and Pharoh finally let the people go.  So they left in a hurry, just like God said they would.  They quickly packed up their things, including their bread dough which hadn't had time to rise, and they headed out of Egypt.  The Egyptians even gave them clothes and jewelry as they were leaving!  Soon after they left, Pharoh changed his mind, and sent his army after them.  God told Moses to hold his staff over the sea, and the sea parted so the Hebrews could cross over on dry land (the word "Hebrew" means "crossed over").  The sea closed behind them as the Egyptian army was following.  They were free!!!

2.  I love the preparation for Passover.  Passover is the beginning of seven days of eating nothing with leaven in it, but unleavened bread instead.  The days before Passover begins are spent cleaning the house and getting rid of anything with leaven in it.  We have a "bread hunt" the night before Passover, where we search for leaven.  I hide 10 pieces of bread, and my husband leads the hunt in the dark with a candle.  The bread is swept into a paper bag which is burned the next morning.  This is a wonderful illustration of getting rid of the sin in our lives.  The leaven represents sin, and we need to search our hearts in order to make sure there's nothing hiding in there that we need to get rid of.  God's light helps us in this search and reveals the leaven.  Then we need to get it out of our lives and totally destroy it.  It's really quite a job finding all the leaven and getting it out of our house.  There is leaven in the most unexpected places!

3.  I love the tradition and ceremony of the seder.  The word "seder" literally means "order".  The seder is a special dinner we have at Passover, when we tell the story from the Haggadah (the seder booklet) and eat symbolic foods from the seder plate to help us remember.   Our seder plate is pictured above (I forgot to take pictures during the actual seder).  This year the horseradish on the plate really did its job!  Our eyes watered as we ate and remembered the bitterness of the slavery and bondage in Egypt.

4.  I love the symbolism in Passover.  Every part of it, from the sacrifice of the lamb, to the traditions that are carried out today, is a symbol of the Messiah Yeshua (Jesus)!  In John 1:29, John the Baptist introduced Yeshua by saying "Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world".  Yeshua is our perfect Passover Lamb, sacrificed on our behalf, who keeps us from spiritual death and frees us from the bondage of sin!  The matzah, with its stripes and piercings, is also a symbol of Yeshua. In John 6:35, Yeshus refers to himself as the Bread of Life.  In Luke chapter 22, Yeshua and his disciples were having a seder.  He broke the matzah and said it was his body, broken for us, and the wine was his blood, poured out for us.  There are many more symbols in Passover, and I am learning more every time we celebrate this holiday that is so meaningful.

5.  I love that we celebrate Passover in remembrance of Yeshua.  This is what he wanted us to do when he said, "do this in remembrance of me" in Luke 22:19. 

6.  I love the song that goes through my head every year at this time:
O, the blood of the Passover Lamb
is applied to the door of my life.
No power of darkness could ever withstand
the force of the blood sacrifice;
Though satan will bring accusations,
I let him know right where I stand,
For now there is no condemnation,
I'm under the blood of the Lamb!

I'm under the blood of the Lamb
that covers the guilt of my past.
By the mercy of God, holy and righteous I stand.
I'm under the blood of the Lamb
I'm safe and secure from the enemy's plan.
No weapon formed against me will stand,
I'm under the blood of the Lamb!

(Under the Blood, by Martin J. Nystrom and Rhonda Gunter Scelsi)

7.  I love the seven days of unleavened bread.  It takes a lot of creativity to have a variety of food during this week.  It's a time to try new foods and recipes so that we aren't eating just matzah crackers every day.  And homemade matzah is much better than the kind in the boxes! 

Passover is a time clean out the "leaven" in our lives.  It's a time to remember the sacrifice of the Passover Lamb.  It's a time to celebrate our freedom! I love Passover!      

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