What’s a Nice Christian Like You Celebrating Passover?
Christians Celebrating Passover? We determined as a family to only worship God in the way that He tells us pleases him, and we let go of everything that doesn’t please him.
Passover for Christians
What’s a nice Christian woman like me doing making matzo and charoset? And why on earth would I throw out my sourdough into the compost pile and tell my family they can’t have hot cross buns, or Russian Easter Bread for 7 days, or even regular bread, but only these dry, thin, crunchy crackers called “matzo”? Have I gone over to the “dark” side? Have I forgotten my Christian heritage?
Well, actually, it’s because of my “Christian heritage” that my family is celebrating Passover, instead of Easter this year. It all began 2 years ago, when my daughter Sarah, a student at Moody Bible School Online studies, had an assignment to visit a Christian congregation that was ethnically different than our own church. Her assignment found us all in Spokane on a Saturday, at a Messianic Synagogue, learning about the Jewish roots of our own faith and worshipping in Hebrew with English subtitles. It was the week following Passover, and we talked to some Moody-Spokane students about their Passover Seder and how meaningful it was to them. A seed was planted.
Last summer Sarah visited Israel on a short-term education tour with Engage Israel, the young adult arm of Ebenezer Operation Exodus. Sarah learned more about the history and relationship between the land of Israel, Jewish people, and the Christian Faith. She came home and shared with passion the experience of Israel and the things she’d learned. Some of it made us feel ashamed. Some of it was encouraging. Some of it made us pray. When Sarah got home, one thing stood out in her mind. Her Messianic Jewish tour guide told her, “We Jews worship Adonai, the Creator God. You Christians are sun-god worshippers.”
At first, we brushed it off to cultural differences or misunderstandings. But it watered the seed that was planted at the Messianic synagogue in Spokane. We started looking earnestly at what scripture actually said – both Old and New Testaments.
Our first realization was that the words “New Testament” are not inspired. There is no meaningful division between Malachi and Matthew (or if you are using The Complete Jewish Bible, second Chronicles and Matthew.) It’s one book that begins at Beresheet (Genesis) with “In the Beginning the (Aleph and Tov) God..” and ends in Revelation with “Pay attention, [says Yeshua]. I am coming soon…I am the A to Z (Alpha and Omega, in Greek or Aleph and Tov in Hebrew].” In fact, a great deal of what we call, “the New Testament” is filled with quotes taken from the Hebrew Bible – the Tenakh. It’s as if the New Testament is an explanation of the Old Testament. It’s just like when Sarah writes a paper for school and adds quotes from her research to reinforce her points.
Sungod worship, though, that’s a pretty strong accusation. Why would a Messianic Jew say that of Christians – painting us all with the same brush? That’s like saying we are into idolatry. But I couldn’t get rid of the nagging thought that maybe parts of what we do as Christians and call “worship” have nothing to do with the Bible and a lot to do with the traditions of man. And wasn’t the traditions of men what Jesus condemned the Pharisees for? (Mark 7:8, Matt 15:9) What if we determined as a family to only worship God in the way that he tells us pleases him, and we let go of everything that he says, doesn’t please him?
That began the journey of keeping Shabbat, the day of rest, from Friday night to Saturday night, observing the Jewish Feast days and searching the scriptures to know how God says He wants to be worshiped (John 4:24). It was also a journey to looking squarely at history, to discover where these “traditions of men” that we’ve observed for decades actually came from. (Hint: they aren’t anywhere in the Bible.)
The amazing thing is, that the more determined we were to discover what God said in the Bible and what he desires of his worshippers (Micah 6:8), the more God led us to discover the truth about the history of “Christian” worship and the appointments with the Lord written in scripture. God actually strives with us to bring us into joyful obedience to the things he asks of us. Far from being a heavy burden of legalism, it is a journey to freedom.
Besides the weekly Sabbaths, Passover is the first divine appointment commanded in scripture. This week is our first Passover. It’s not a “kosher” Passover. No Rabbis were compromised in the preparation of this meal! Since we are not Jewish, if we had bought Kosher wine, the second we uncorked the bottle, the wine would cease to be Kosher. So while we can’t make it Kosher, it is a baby step toward obeying what God’s word says is necessary to please God.
It was a revelation to me to understand that Abraham observed the “Season of unleavened bread” as did his nephew Lot. (Genesis 19:3) This was before the Exodus and before the written law. The tradition was kept alive in the Exodus and built upon. The Israelites observed it through their history. So much so, that it was forbidden, on penalty of death, by Antiochus Epiphanies when he attempted to syncretize the Jewish faith with Greek sun-god worship.
During the Roman occupation of Israel, Jewish people were once again free to follow their religion and Passover was freely observed. This was when Jesus came, at the appointed time. He was 100% observant and 100% Jewish. We know that Jesus (Yeshua in Hebrew) observed at least 3 Passovers during his public teaching and that it was the habit of his family to travel to Jerusalem every Passover, in observance of the Torah. This puts the expression WWJD (What would Jesus do?) in a whole new light.
While our family has “played” at Passover Seders in the past, this is the first year that we actually determined to “observe” it, getting rid of the old leaven – symbolic of the traditions and doctrines of man. If you’ve never celebrated the Passover before, come to our “virtual table.” I’ve set an extra place.
See the Passover Seder, to join me in this virtual celebration of freedom.
Calling days of the week after pagan gods is exactly what the guide was trying to tell us. Sunday… etc. The days of the week are numbered 1-7, and they are set by the Moed’im/Appointed feasts based on each new moon/bow of God. The Sabbath will never be the same each month (Moonth). But the Jews are guilty also by calling their months after Pagan gods like Tammuz etc. The months are also numbered 1-12/13. These names are from Babylonian exile, and pagan, and God wants us all to come out of that system. He has forced a Shmitah on the world this Passover 2020… will we still be at rest during Yamim Nora’im this fall?
Elisheva Weyers says
What a neat post! The journey of truth is always something special, is it not? There’s something about having your eyes opened after so long and being able to understand and know things that you didn’t before. The first couple of times we did Passover, we tried to keep everything as close to the traditional Passover as possible… now, we’ve come to the understanding of just trying to keep it as Scriptural as possible as there are certain elements that aren’t mentioned scripturally but are in a traditional Jewish seder… such as the egg, the seder plate, the flatbread in the bag, etc. Most importantly, we feel the importance of the taking of the emblems (the wine and the bread) as a renewel of the contract we made with the mikvah (baptism), not being drunk during the passover, trying to keep it set apart and staying up all night… if we can as the Apostles were commanded to stand watch. To us Passover seems a much more solemn feast day than Shavuot and especially Sukkot and one of the reasons why we try not to “drunkards” and its mentioned us not to be… for example I don’t think its appropriate to bring cases of beer and sit around a campfire and make it a party of sorts. To me then this special day loses its meaning. On another note I was wondering why you mention the name Yeshua instead of Yahushua? With the son coming in His Father’s Name… I was curious. I’ve also heard that Yeshua has a more negative meaning (let his name be blotted out..) since the ‘Yah’ from the Father’s name is replaced by ‘Ye’. Anyway… keep up the good work! Blessings!
Joybilee Farm says
Hi, Elisheva, thanks for stopping in. So nice to meet a fellow believer. I was taught by Messianic Jews that Yeshu is the name that means “May his name be blotted out” but Y’shua or Yeshua means salvation in Hebrew. Yahushua would also be correct. I’m sure when our Savior returns he will teach us what to call Him. I think it will be very soon.
I love your tradition of staying up and keeping watch on Passover. I had never thought of that but it makes so much sense. We will do that this year.
Every day we learn something new about how to walk in his ways and to choose the ancient pathways. Thanks for visiting.
Cassandra Spaans says
Thank you so much for these blogs. My mother started going to a Messianic Jewish church and she loves it. I have been learning more and more and I too am loving what I am learning. I Never celebrated “christmas” with santa or easter with the easter bunny with my daughter who turns 9 tomorrow, and want to learn more about Passover, Hanukkah ect. If you can suggest any books or reading material I would be grateful.
Joybilee Farm says
We are on the same journey. So happy to have a walking companion. I don’t attend a Messianic Jewish Church but I would love to find one close to home. The books that have helped me:
God’s Appointed Customs by Barney Kasdan and God’s Appointed Times by the same author. The Complete Jewish Bible by David Stern, and the teaching online at 119Ministries.com.
Thank You all for sharing these traditions & also the reading material. I am new on this walk though I’ve been walking in this world for awhile, I am grateful.
I wanted to let you know that I am so very much blessed with fining your website. And so sorry I am arriving at your “virtual table” late. The recipes look wonderful. I will make a note for next year. I found you while looking for Matzoh recipes and have been browsing ever since. But this last week and a bit I missed visiting as we were preparing for our first time walking through Passover, the Feast of Unleavened bread, and First Fruits.
We live in the Lower Mainland and though we want to find a property in the west Kootenays we are here in suburbia for now. Making as much of a garden as possible, some suburban chickens and homeschooling our three littles as we navigate a conscious turn towards a more simple life and a more conscious walk of faith.
Thank you for all you share in your blog.
Shalom and Blessings to you and you wonderful family.
Joybilee Farm says
Thank you for your kind comment, Marilyn. Vancouver has a lovely climate for year round gardening. And you can homestead where ever you live. You don’t need rural property. A homestead is just the home with surrounding property — whether that is a little square on a balcony or acres — it doesn’t matter. The attitude of living within your means and doing what you can with your own hands, growing what you can to feed your family — these are the homestead mindsets. Bless you.