Are Christians obligated to observe Passover?

MUST WE CHRISTIANS OBSERVE PASSOVER?

by Shawn Brasseaux

Should we as Christians observe the Passover? After all, some argue, unlike Easter, it has Biblical support. Let us search the Scriptures for the answer.

ORIGIN OF PASSOVER

Every person familiar with the Holy Bible knows of the first Passover, the feast Israel held just before JEHOVAH God delivered the Jews from Egyptian bondage. In Exodus 12:1-2, we read: “[1] And the LORD spake unto Moses and Aaron in the land of Egypt, saying, [2] This month shall be unto you the beginning of months: it shall be the first month of the year to you.” The first month on Israel’s religious calendar is what Scripture calls the month of “Abib” (Exodus 13:4; Exodus 23:14; Exodus 34:18; Deuteronomy 16:1)—Abib is also known as “Nisan” (Nehemiah 2:1; Esther 3:7).

In Exodus 12:6-14, JEHOVAH instructed the Jews to pen up the Passover lamb on Abib 10th, to check and make sure that it was not sick or crippled, and the Jews were to kill the Passover lamb during sunset on Abib 14th (roughly equivalent to April 14th on our Gregorian calendar). This lamb’s blood was then applied to the side posts and lintel of the door of every Jewish home in Egypt. That night, God slew all of the Egyptians’ firstborn, but He “passed over” and spared the Jews who had the lamb’s blood on the door. In Israel’s program, Passover is “an ordinance for ever” (Exodus 12:14).

Through the annual Passover observance, God was teaching Israel that blood had to be shed in order to redeem her, or buy her back. Israel was trapped, not only under Egyptian rule, but Satan’s tyranny as well (domination of sin); hence, the Bible calls Egypt “the house of bondage” many times (Exodus 13:3,14; Exodus 20:2; et al.). The Jews were slaves to Egypt and to sin. Thus, they could not function as the nation God designed them to be. The blood of the Passover lamb was a preview of what Jesus Christ would do at Calvary many centuries later. The Apostle Peter reminded Israel in 1 Peter 1:18-19: “[18] Forasmuch as ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, from your vain conversation received by tradition from your fathers; [19] But with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot:” As the Apostle Paul wrote, “Purge out therefore the old leaven, that ye may be a new lump, as ye are unleavened. For even Christ our passover is sacrificed for us:” (1 Corinthians 5:7).

When Israel celebrated her new life on the other side of the Red Sea, a life as a free people, the pagans were celebrating the new life associated with Easter (Satan’s counterfeit religious system). Easter was Satan’s way of mocking Passover: the devil is the master counterfeiter, and as long as he can distract you from God’s Word to you, he is very pleased with himself (Satan gets the worship and glory when the God of the Bible does not; Matthew 4:8-10; Luke 4:5-8). March-April was the time when God shed blood for Israel’s redemption, and when He gave her new life (once she crossed the Red Sea).

From the Four Gospels, we learn that Jesus Christ died near the time the Passover lamb was killed (Matthew 26:2,17-19; Mark 14:1,12-16; Luke 22:18,11,13,15; John 11:55; John 12:1; John 13:1; John 18:28,39; John 19:14). In other words, Jesus died during the same holiday that had typified His death for the last 1,500 years. The blood of the true Passover lamb—Jesus Christ—was shed at Calvary. This shed blood of Christ would then make Israel’s spiritual birth possible (her forgiveness, her redemption, her justification, and so on). With the death of Jesus Christ at that time of year, March-April was that much more appealing to Satan to further corrupt.

During the centuries following the apostles’ deaths, as Christianity was paganized to welcome new converts, the pagan fertility/reproduction festival Easter that had counterfeited Israel’s Passover for centuries gradually merged to form one convoluted “Christian” celebration. Hence, today, the non-Christian and Christian elements of the Easter-Passover season have blended into one festival within Christendom. While it is often assumed that Easter celebrates Jesus Christ’s resurrection, it actually was never intended to do so.

 

WHAT IS THE CHRISTIAN TO DO?

Certainly, Passover is a Biblical practice, but being Scriptural is not necessarily correct and godly. There are many activities and procedures that are taught in Scripture, and we would be utterly foolish to follow them. (Are you still offering blood sacrifices like Leviticus says? Are you building an ark like Genesis says?)

As people who study, understand, believe, and enjoy the Bible dispensationally, we recognize that not all of the Bible is to us or about us. When the Bible says, “Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth” (2 Timothy 2:15), we comprehend that to mean that God has made divisions in His Word, and we need not ignore these distinctions.

According to Leviticus chapter 23, JEHOVAH instituted a very complex calendar of seven annual feasts for the nation Israel to follow (Passover was the first). These feasts taught the Jews specific doctrines—what God would do for them, what He would do with them, and so on. As Gentiles apart from Israel’s program, we have no direct connection to Passover. God never “passed over” our ancestors as He did Israel’s patriarchs in Egypt. Furthermore, God through Paul our apostle (Romans 11:13) never instructed us members of the Body of Christ to observe Passover. Faith comes by hearing God’s Word (Romans 10:17), but God’s Word does not lead us Gentiles to observe Passover; observing Passover would not be of faith.

In fact, according to Deuteronomy 16:2, the Passover was to be observed only in Jerusalem (1 Kings 9:3; 1 Kings 14:21)—it was never to be observed throughout the world. This is why Israel’s males, no matter where they lived, had to travel to Jerusalem for Passover every year (Deuteronomy 16:16). Furthermore, this is why the Lord’s Supper is not to be confused with the Passover—the Corinthians observed the Lord’s Supper in Corinth, not Jerusalem. Strictly speaking, even if Israel’s program were in operation today, the only valid Passover in Scripture would have to be observed in Jerusalem!

We do find these words of God the Holy Ghost through Paul in Colossians 2:16-17: “[16] Let no man therefore judge you in meat, or in drink, or in respect of an holyday, or of the new moon, or of the sabbath days: [17] Which are a shadow of things to come; but the body is of Christ.” We have no obligation to observe any religious feasts or holidays of Israel—Sabbath days, monthly demarcations, Passover, Pentecost, et cetera. They all belong to Israel, not us. These activities do not belong in our mystery program.

Paul warned the Law-keeping Galatians: “But now, after that ye have known God, or rather are known of God, how turn ye again to the weak and beggarly elements, whereunto ye desire again to be in bondage? [10] Ye observe days, and months, and times, and years. [11] I am afraid of you, lest I have bestowed upon you labour in vain” (Galatians 4:9-11). The Galatians had returned to Mosaic Law keeping, and they were ignoring God’s grace to them in Christ. They were observing Israel’s religious calendar, and Paul called that “bondage!” He said he feared for their spiritual destruction, that they had made God’s grace useless in their lives. We should not let Satan get an advantage of us by using religious tradition or religious ceremonies.

Finally, Paul wrote in Romans 14:5-8: “[5] One man esteemeth one day above another: another esteemeth every day alike. Let every man be fully persuaded in his own mind. [6] He that regardeth the day, regardeth it unto the Lord; and he that regardeth not the day, to the Lord he doth not regard it. He that eateth, eateth to the Lord, for he giveth God thanks; and he that eateth not, to the Lord he eateth not, and giveth God thanks. [7] For none of us liveth to himself, and no man dieth to himself. [8] For whether we live, we live unto the Lord; and whether we die, we die unto the Lord: whether we live therefore, or die, we are the Lord’s.” God’s grace gives us liberty to apply sound grace doctrine to our lives. We need to take this sound information and consider it, and choose how we should use our life’s calendar to bring glory and honor to the Lord Jesus Christ. As Christians, we live unto Him, and not unto ourselves. Let us walk by faith in light of these precious truths and verses!

Also see:
» Should Christians observe Lent?
» Is “Easter” a mistranslation in the King James Bible in Acts 12:4?
» Should Christians celebrate Easter? (LINK TEMPORARILY UNAVAILABLE)

8 responses to “Are Christians obligated to observe Passover?

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