I was teaching a Bible Study in the home of our best friends, Gary and Carol Leach sometime during the late 1970’s. Someone asked me questions about Passover. I was a young man, new to ministry, and knew better than to try and fake some answer. These people were, and remain, very smart. I admitted my ignorance, and promised I would start researching it immediately.
In those days I was a sales representative for the SAVIN Corporation. We sold photocopy machines. My territory was the city of Encino. At that time Encino was growing very rapidly. As people from Beverly Hills and Brentwood needed addition office space, they found them over the hill in Encino. A vast percentage of the business district in Encino was built on both sides of Ventura Boulevard.
Additionally, Encino was at that time believed to be 90% Jewish, or more. The largest Jewish Synagogue was, and remains, in Encino, right on Ventura Boulevard, Valley Beth Shalom. It also was a private preschool, grade school and high school.
I went into the school office and introduced myself explaining that I was a Christian conducting a Bible Study and wanted to learn about Passover. The lady I spoke with returned with a very distinguished man who introduced himself as the head of the school. Once inside his office I noticed that he had earned several theological doctorates. After explaining my quest, he excused himself and I heard him getting several of the staff to collect the materials.
While I was waiting, I noticed four books displayed prominently on his desk. They were the Books of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. You can imagine the questions that filled my head.
The doctor returned with an arm full of materials and the education began. He then instructed me to go to a particular store over on Victory Blvd. to acquire an authentic Seder Plate, and any think else I desired.
As I was about to leave, I asked about the four Gospels on his desk. He explained that they taught from them in the school, starting in the grade school, up through the high school. He explained that they believed Jesus to be a great prophet. I thanked him again for his time, his teaching me and the materials.
That started a 40 plus year study of Passover. I am still learning. I have taught on, and conducted Passover almost every year since. The most common reacting I hear from participants that Resurrection Sunday is now the most important time and the year to them, and that they have never taken the Lord’s Supper (Communion) the same again.
I have found many things to be unimpeachable truths in my life of study. It has made me realize how poor we are as modern day Christians because we have never stopped to understand the traditions of the Jewish people and how they give us greater understanding of our New Birth Covenant with God, through our Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God, our Risen Savior, through the power of His Holy Spirit.
Please take the time to set your heart to learn as you participate in this wonderful service. If your heart is open, the Holy Spirit will fill it will understanding that will change your life, draw you closer to Jesus, and fill you with knowledge that will make Resurrection Sunday the most important day of the year.
“The LORD bless you and keep you; the LORD make his face shine upon you and be gracious to you; the LORD turn his face toward you and give you peace.”(Num 6:24-26; NIV)
THE SEDER TABLE
The following is the MINIMUM requirements to have a proper SEDER (Passover)
(Table: The following description is for ALL participating tables.)
- Fresh Spring Flowers as a centerpiece.
- One (or more) unlit candle(s). Have some matches next to the candle to light the candle at the beginning of the service. All the “Mother & the table” will light the candles together at the beginning of the service.
- A bowl of water, with a towel (or napkin), for the leader of each table to wash their hands during the early part of the service. Does not have to big a big bowl. Just enough to dip the hands, wash them, and dry them with the towel or napkin.
- 4) Four whole pieces of Matzo. Three of these will go into a large paper napkin (Elegant type napkins that can completely contain three pieces of Matzo). The one piece will be used in other aspects of the service.
- A plate, napkin, glass of water and a small spoon for each participant. Paper plates are fine.
- A small cup for each participant. We will be consuming four cups of grape juice during the service. These do not needto be large, but they do needto be larger than communion cups.
- Each table must have a large pitcher to refill the glasses with juice as the glasses will start out full, and will be replenished three times.
- A small bowl of salt water next to the Seder plate. Small enough to pass, large enough for every participant at the table to dip a small amount of parsley and then eat. Water needs to be salty water.
- THE SEDER PLATE: Located at the table leaders seat, instead of a regular plate. Shouldbe different from the rest of the plates at the table; decorative; large dinner plate. The elementsmust be (see diagram for placement of the elements);
- The Shank Bone: Preferably a large meatless beef . 1f not available, any large meatless soup bone.
- The Karpas: A clump of parsley. Should have enough for each person to have a piece to dip in the salt water. Should be in a small Dixie type cup (about the size of the cups you find at drinking fountains). This will be passed to each participant.
- Root of the Bitter Herb: A Horseradish root, or a quartered potato (peeled)
- The Bitter Herb: A small dish of ground horseradish. Needs to have enough horseradish for each person at the table to have a share (quarter of a teaspoon for each person). Should be in a small cup (Dixie cup will do. Drinking fountain style). This cup with the horseradish will be passed around the table.
- The Haroset: This is a mixture of fruits, nuts and other ingredients blended into a paste. It must be in a paste form and enough for each person at the table to approximately a quarter teaspoon each. Should be in a small bowl or cup because it will be passed around the table.
- The Haggadah: Each person at the table must have their own copy of the Haggadah because of the responsive readings.
Seder Leaders Elements for the Passover Seder Service
“SEDER” is a Hebrew word that means “arrangement”, or “order”. It is also used to mean the entire Passover eve service. PESACH (Passover) in Hebrew means “to spread wings over” (See Ps 91). Jesus, in His lament over Jerusalem, used the term of gathering Israel under His wings as a hen gathers her chicks. God stands guard over His people today, just as He did on the first Passover Night. “HAGGADAH” is the book you are holding. In the Hebrew it means “the book, or the story”. At the Passover service, every participant has their own copy so they can follow along with the leader, and participate at the right moments. “PASCAL LAMB” is Hebrew referring to the sacrificed Passover Lamb
The Seder Table includes a number of objects, prescribed by the tradition, which symbolizes the spirit of the holiday. The table is usually set in a festive style because of what Passover represents (redemption), and because it is celebrated during the birth of spring when everything is fresh and new (just like redemption). Flowers and candles are main elements of this table.
A large platter is placed in front of the one conducting the Seder. This can be an ordinary platter, or a special Seder Plate. Upon the plate are placed the following objects;
- A roasted shank bone – A memorial of the Pascal (Passover) Lamb.
- Roasted Egg – In memory of the Freewill Offering of the feasts.
- Bitter herbs – “MOROR” in Hebrew (usually horseradish roots) in remembrance of the bitterness of slavery.
- Parsley or Lettuce – “KARPAS” in the Hebrew. This green vegetable represents the hyssop branch used to sprinkle the Pascal Lamb’s blood on the door posts, and across the top of the door.
- A mixture of nuts and fruit – “CHAROSES” in the Hebrew. Represents the mortar with which the Hebrew slaves made into bricks, which were used to build Pharaoh’s cities.
- There are four cups of wine at the leaders table. One by itself is for the Prophet Elijah.
- ln a separate bowl there is salt water, or vinegar to symbolize the sweat and tears of the Hebrew slaves.
- There is also a bowl of water and towel for the washing of the hands of the Seder Leader.
- In a second plate there are three pieces of unleavened bread called “MATZAH” wrapped in a special napkin that has three compartments (called a “MATZAH TOSH” in Hebrew).
- Matzos symbolize purity, and freedom, leaven represents the evil impulses of the heart and all sin. The eating of the Matzah is intended to recall the hurried departure of the Israelites that night in Egypt. When the Egyptian people drove them out, they didn’t have time to let their dough rise. So they had to eat it in haste. Jewish Rabbi’s have many explanations for this strange Matzah Tosh, but the real reason for it will be evident during the service to follow.
Everyone at the table has a plate, and a glass for wine. These will be filled four times during the course of the service.
Traditionally the Seder is celebrated at home with family, and sometimes, close friends. Children are an important part of the Seder service and participate throughout. This is a service for all to remember the great redemption of God. For the Jewish people, it is a look forward to the coming of the Messiah. As Christians who already know the Messiah, this service takes on even greater significance as we experience this service as it points directly to our Lord Jesus. Jesus is the Passover Lamb who takes away the sins of the world. John 1:29 This, therefore, is a celebration of our redemption from the bondages of sin.
Everyone participates in the Seder service;
|ALL||Everyone reads aloud in unison.|
|Fathers||Just the men read aloud in unison.|
|Mothers||Just the women read aloud in unison.|
|Children||Just the children read aloud in unison.|
|Leader||Just the leader of the Seder.|
|Added Text||The text that is in a different type style, represents what has been added to the Jewish Seder service to show us the New Testament fulfillment found only in the Lord Jesus Christ.|
The following service is the same order the Jewish people use in their Passover Celebration. However, it has been altered to show how Jesus is the total fulfillment of the Passover. Keep that in mind as we proceed. Remember the Apostle Paul’s words; “Therefore, since we have such a hope, we are very bold. We are not like Moses, who would put a veil over his face to keep the Israelites from gazing at it while the radiance was fading away. But their minds were made dull, for to this day the same veil remains when the old covenant is read. It has not been removed, because only in Christ is it taken away. Even to this day when Moses is read, a veil covers their hearts. But whenever anyone turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away.” 2 Corinthians 3:12-18
THE PASSOVER SEDER BEGINS THE LIGHTING OF THE CANDLES;
The woman of the house lights the candle(s) as the leader explains;
LEADER: The Passover begins as the woman of the household kindles the festival lights and recites a traditional Jewish blessing;
MOTHERS: Blessed are You our God, King of the universe, who sanctifies us by your commandments, and has ordained that we kindle the Passover lights.
LEADER: It is most fitting that a woman kindles the lights, for we are reminded of God’s promise that the Messiah, the light of the world, would come, not from the seed of man, but from the seed of a woman, and by the will of God. As the prophet Isaiah declared,
MOTHERS: ‘A virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call His name Immanuel”. Isaiah 7:14.
LEADER: A light to lighten Gentiles,
MOTHERS: …and the glory of God’s people, Israel.
LEADER: “When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”John 8:12 While I am in the world, I am the light of the world.”John 9:5 <><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><>
THE FIRST CUP: THE CUP OF SANCTIFICATION
LEADER: The Passover has begun, and during the course of our Seder we wilt drink from our cups, and replenish them, a total of four times. (All raise the first cup) The first cup is called the “KIDDIJSH” cup, or “THE CUP OF SANCTIFICATION”.
ALL: With this cup, we commit our observance to the Lord, and pray for His blessing upon the rest of the service to follow.
FATHERS: Blessed are You, O Lord our God, King of the universe, who created the fruit of the vine.
LEADER: It is concerning this first cup that Jesus our Messiah declared;
ALL: “After taking the cup, he gave thanks and said, “Take this and divide it among you. For I tell you I will not drink again of the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God comes.”Luke 22:17-18 All drink the first cup.
WASHING OF THE HANDS
LEADER: Ritual washings have been a part of Jewish life since God commanded Aaron to bathe his hands and feet before approaching the alter of the Lord. And so we customarily wash our hands at this time as a token of our desire to live lives of acceptable service to our Almighty God.
FATHERS: Yet Jesus carried this notion of servant-hood one step further on that Passover night in the upper room. At this point of the last Passover Jesus spent with His disciples; “…so he got up from the meal, took off his outer clothing, and wrapped a towel around his waist. After that, he poured water into a basin and began to wash his disciples’ feet, drying them with the towel that was wrapped around him. He came to Simon Peter, who said to him, “Lord, are you going to wash my feet?” Jesus replied, “You do not realize now what I am doing, but later you will understand.” “No,” said Peter, “you shall never wash my feet.” Jesus answered, “Unless I wash you, you have no part with me.” “Then, Lord,” Simon Peter replied, “not just my feet but my hands and my head as well!” Jesus answered, “A person who has had a bath needs only to wash his feet; his whole body is clean. And you are clean, though not every one of you.” 11 For he knew who was going to betray him, and that was why he said not everyone was clean. When he had finished washing their feet, he put on his clothes and returned to his place. “Do you understand what I have done for you?” he asked them. “You call me ‘Teacher’ and ‘Lord,’ and rightly so, for that is what I am. Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet. I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you. I tell you the truth, no servant is greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them”.John 13:4-17 LEADER: How graciously has He taught us the fullest meaning of servant-hood; Humility ALL: The greatest among you will be your servant. 12 For whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted.Matthew 23:11-12 Leader washes hands
THE SEDER PLATE
LEADER: Behold the Seder Plate and these traditional symbols.
ALL: What do they mean, and of what do they speak?
LEADER: The story of Passover is a story of our deliverance from bondage, and all the elements of the Passover meal are part of the portrait of redemption.
ALL: What is the meaning of the “KARPAS”, or greens, and the salt water?
FATHERS: The greens represent life, and the salt water represents the tears of life. Before we eat the greens, we dip them into the salt water, for truly
ALL: A life redeemed is a life immersed in tears.
LEADER: Let us eat the KARPAS. (Everyone dips a piece of the greens and dips it in the salt water and eats it) <><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><> ALL: What is the meaning of the HAZERET, the root of the bitter herb? FATHERS: This horseradish root reminds us that the root of life is often bitter, as it certainly was for the sons of Israel in the land of Egypt
ALL: And what is the meaning of the “MAROR”, the biller herb itself?
FATHERS: As we partake of the freshly ground horseradish, we are reminded afresh of how bitter life is without redemption.
LEADER: Let us eat of the bitter herb. (All eat a small amount of horseradish between two small pieces of Matzah) <><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><> ALL: What is the meaning of the “HAROSET:, and why is it sweet to the taste?
FATHERS: The HAROSET is a reminder of the mortar with which the Israelites made bricks for Pharaoh.
ALL: But why should such a sweet mixture represents such bitter toil?
FATHERS: Even the bitterest labor is sweetened by the promise of redemption.
LEADER: Let us eat the HAROSET. (All eat a small amount of HAROSET between two small pieces of Matzah) <><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><> ALL: What is the meaning of the egg, the “HAGIGAH”? Why is it brown?
FATHERS: HAGIGAH was the name given to the daily Temple sacrifices in ancient Jerusalem It is roasted to turn it brown, just as the daily offerings were burned with fire upon the altar of the Lord. The HAGIGAH is a token of grief to the Jewish people; Grief over the destruction of the Temple; and so before we eat it, we dip it into salt water – the tears of life.
LEADER: Let us eat the HAGIGAH. (All dip a small piece of the egg into salt water and eat it)
ALL: What is the meaning of the “ZEROAH”, the shank bone of the lamb?
LEADER: Passover is also known as the Feast of the Passover Lamb, and yet in Jewish homes throughout the world, lamb is not served at any Passover table. Instead, we have this ZEROAH to remind us of those first Passover lambs which were sacrificed on the night of redemption. As it is written;
ALL: “In one house shall it be eaten. ..neither shall you break a bone of it.’ (Ex. 12:46)
FATHERS: lt is the sacrifice of the Lord’s Passover, Who passed over the houses of the children of Israel in Egypt, when He smote the Egyptians, and delivered our houses.
ALL: But why do we no longer partake of the Paschal Lamb as in the days of old when the ancient Temple stood?
LEADER: Simply because the Temple stands no more. The Passover sacrifice, as well as all sacrifices, could only be offered upon the altar in Jerusalem. Since the Temple’s destruction in 70 A.D., no sacrifices have been made, and no Iamb is found on the Passover table. .
ALL: But without sacrifices, how can we atone for our sins? The law declares, “it is the blood that makes atonement for the soul.” (Lev. 17:11) Does this mean that the atonement, and redemption, are no longer possible?
LEADER: May it never be! Those of us who have a personal relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ, the Messiah, know that God has provided a sacrifice for our sins. That sacrifice for our sins is the PASSOVER LAMB WHO TAKES AWAY THE SINE OF THE WORLD. (John 1:29 & 36)
ALL: The Messiah, the Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of the Living God.
LEADER: Blessed are You, O Lord our God, Who offers redemption from death, and atonement for sins.
THE BREAD OF AFFLICTION
LEADER: Rabbi Gamaliel said, “He who has not explained the three symbols of the Seder, has not fulfilled his duty; the Passover lamb, the bitter herb, and the unleavened bread.”
ALL: We have heard of the Paschal Lamb, and we have eaten of the bitter herb, but what of the unleavened bread?
LEADER: (The Leader holds up a piece of Matzah) Behold the bread of affliction which our ancestors ate in the land of Egypt. Let all who are hungry come and eat
ALL: What is the meaning of the unleavened bread?
FATHERS: Throughout the Bible, leaven is frequently employed as a symbol of sin. In Biblical times a small piece of bread from the previous loaf was used to ferment an entire portion of fresh dough. Thus the leavening of each batch of dough was related to the original loaf. It was the leaven that caused the dough to rise.
LEADER: In the same way, we are related through the generations to the sin of our first forefather, Adam. As the leaven in bread causes the dough to rise, so the sin in our life causes us to rise in our own estimation; to be puffed up.
FATHERS: On this night and for the seven days to follow, we eat nothing that contains any leaven. In this we demonstrate our desire to be cleansed of our sin, and to live lives devoted entirely to the Lord. It is written; “For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the measure of faith God has given you.(Romans 12:3) LEADER: “I am the LORD your God; consecrate yourselves and be holy, because I am holy.” (Leviticus 11:44) “Get rid of the old yeast that you may be a new batch without yeast-as you really are. For Christ, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed. Therefore let us keep the Festival, not with the old yeast, the yeast of malice and wickedness, but with bread without yeast, the bread of sincerity and truth.”(1 Corinthians 5:6-8)Let us take this moment to search our hearts for any leaven that might be hindering our relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ. Now go before the Lord in prayer to repent of the leaven and then rejoice in His faithfulness to forgive us our sins and cleanse us for all unrighteousness.
THE MATZAH TOSH
LEADER: (Leader holds up the “MATZAH TOSH”) One of the most intriguing items on the Passover table is this pouch called a Matzah Tosh, which is a unity. Yet concealed within this unity are three pieces of unleavened bread – Matzah – and each piece is separated from the others by a piece of cloth.
ALL: Though the matzos are concealed, yet we know that they are there.
(Leader removes the middle Matzah)
FATHERS: But now the middle is removed from its place among the others and made visible to our eyes.
LEADER: (Leader performs as the following is read) It is broken, and half is set aside while the other half is wrapped in a white napkin. ln a moment it will be hidden from view. This broken piece of Matzah has a special name: the “AFIKOMEN”. This is not a Hebrew word, but a Greek word, and it means, “That which comes after. “The origin and significance of the AFIKOMEN, and the MATZAH TOSH, are shadowed in mystery. We will explore this mystery as our celebration unfolds. But for now, guesses must give way to a game. We are going to hide the AFIKOMEN as you children close your eyes. If you find it, we have to buy it back from you, or the Passover cannot be concluded,
And remember …
ALL: Great is the reward of he who finds the hidden AFIKOMEN.
LEADER: (Leader hides the AFIKOMEN while the children hide their eyes)
THE FOUR QUESTIONS
LEADER: The children are essential to the Passover celebration, for it is through this feast that they may learn of God’s redemptive nature. So at this time, the children participate together to learn the meaning of Passover by asking the traditional four questions.
CHILDREN: Why is this night different from all other nights?
FATHERS: Once we were slaves to Pharaoh in Egypt, but the Lord in His goodness, and mercy, redeemed us from that land with a mighty hand, and an outstretched arm.
ALL: Had He not redeemed us, surely we, and our children, would still be enslaved.
CHILDREN: On all other nights we eat either leavened or unleavened bread. On this night why do we eat only unleavened bread?
FATHERS: We eat the unleavened bread to remember that the sons of Israel, in their haste to leave Egypt, had to take their bread with them while it was still flat.
CHILDREN: On all other nights, we eat herbs of every kind. On this night why do we eat only bitter herbs?
FATHERS: We eat the bitter herbs to remember how bitter it is to be enslaved.
CHILDREN: On all other nights we do not dip the sop even once. On this night, why do we dip twice?
FATHERS: By dipping, we remember that a life of bondage is bitter indeed, but that even the harshest bondage is sweetened by the promise of redemption.
CHILDREN: On all other nights we eat our meals in any manner. Why is this night so special?
FATHERS: This night is truly special. Once we were slaves, but now we are free. So we recline in order to appropriate the rest He has wrought for us.
LEADER: “Therefore, holy brothers, who share in the heavenly calling, fix your thoughts on Jesus, the apostle and high priest whom we confess. He was faithful to the one who appointed him, just as Moses was faithful in all God’s house. Jesus has been found worthy of greater honor than Moses, just as the builder of a house has greater honor than the house itself. For every house is built by someone, but God is the builder of everything. Moses was faithful as a servant in all God’s house, testifying to what would be said in the future. But Christ is faithful as a son over God’s house. And we are his house, if we hold on to our courage and the hope of which we boast. So, as the Holy Spirit says: “Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts as you did in the rebellion, during the time of testing in the desert, where your fathers tested and tried me and for forty years saw what I did. That is why I was angry with that generation, and I said, ‘Their hearts are always going astray, and they have not known my ways.’ So I declared on oath in my anger, ‘They shall never enter my rest.'” See to it, brothers, that none of you has a sinful, unbelieving heart that turns away from the living God. But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called Today, so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness. We have come to share in Christ if we hold firmly till the end the confidence we had at first. As has just been said: “Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts as you did in the rebellion.” Who were they who heard and rebelled? Were they not all those Moses led out of Egypt? And with whom was he angry for forty years? Was it not with those who sinned, whose bodies fell in the desert? And to whom did God swear that they would never enter his rest if not to those who disobeyed? So we see that they were not able to enter, because of their unbelief. Therefore, since the promise of entering his rest still stands, let us be careful that none of you be found to have fallen short of it. For we also have had the gospel preached to us, just as they did; but the message they heard was of no value to them, because those who heard did not combine it with faith. Now we who have believed enter that rest, just as God has said, “So I declared on oath in my anger, ‘They shall never enter my rest.'” And yet his work has been finished since the creation of the world. For somewhere he has spoken about the seventh day in these words: “And on the seventh day God rested from all his work.” And again in the passage above he says, “They shall never enter my rest.” It still remains that some will enter that rest, and those who formerly had the gospel preached to them did not go in, because of their disobedience. Therefore God again set a certain day, calling it Today, when a long time later he spoke through David, as was said before: “Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts.” For if Joshua had given them rest, God would not have spoken later about another day. There remains, then, a Sabbath-rest for the people of God; for anyone who enters God’s rest also rests from his own work, just as God did from his. Let us, therefore, make every effort to enter that rest, so that no one will fall by following their example of disobedience. For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account. Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has gone through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are-yet was without sin. Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need. (Hebrews 3-4) LEADER: By strength of hand the Lord brought us out of Egypt, from the house of bondage. In gratitude, let us worship our God and recount the story of Passover.
THE STORY OF PASSOVER (Narrated by the Leader – Genesis 42- Exodus 12)
The Bible teaches that during a great famine in the land of Canaan, the sons of Israel journeyed to Egypt to purchase food. There they were reunited with their brother Joseph. Because of his influence, they were permitted to dwell in the fertile plains of Goshen.
At first the house of Israel numbered less than eighty souls. But in time their numbers swelled, their flocks increased, and they became a mighty people.
Then there arose a new Pharaoh, one who did not know Joseph. He beheld the might of Israel, and he feared that in time of war, the sons of Jacob might join themselves with Egypt’s foes. Pharaoh decided to subdue the Israelites, and afflicted them with cruel labor. Taskmasters were placed over the Israelites to compel them to make bricks and to build Pharaoh’s great storage cities of Rameses and Pithom.
But despite their hardships, they continued to thrive just as God had promised. This caused Pharaoh even greater alarm, and he ordered the slaughter of Israel’s infant sons. By his command, every male child born to the Hebrews was to be cast into the Nile and drowned.
How sore were the afflictions of the Jewish people? In anguish they cried unto God of their fathers. God heard their cry, and remembered His covenant. God raised up a deliverer, a redeemer, the man Moses. He sent Moses to Pharaoh’s court to declare the commandment of the Lord, “Let My people go.”
But Pharaoh would not hearken to the Lord of Host. As a result, Moses pronounced God’s judgment on Pharaoh’s house, and on Pharaoh’s land. Plagues were poured out upon the Egyptians, upon their crops, and upon their flocks.
But Pharaoh’s heart was hardened. He would not yield to the will of God. He would not let the house of Jacob depart.
Then the tenth plague fell upon the land; the death of Egypt’s first born. “And all the firstborn in the land of Egypt shall die, from the firstborn of Pharaoh that sits upon his throne, even unto the firstborn of the maidservant that is behind the mill; and all the firstborn of beasts For I will pass through the land of Egypt this night, and will smite all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, both man and beast; and against all the gods of Egypt, I will execute judgment: l am the LORD.” (Ex:11:5:, Ex:12:12:)
But to protect the children of Israel, God commanded the head of each Jewish household to select a spotless lamb from the flock, have it live with them for three days, and then sacrifice it outside the front door, catching it’s blood in the basin (the depression in front of the door to catch rain water and keep the house from flooding). Then they were instructed to take a Hyssop branch, dip it in the blood of the lamb, and strike both sides of the door frame and the top of the door frame (forming a blood threshold through which the entire family had to pass). They were instructed not to leave their homes until morning.
ALL: “And the blood shall be to you a token upon the houses where ye are; and when I see the blood, I will pass over you, and the plague shall not be upon you to destroy you, when I smite the land of Egypt”.
LEADER: “And this day shall be unto you for a memorial; and ye shall keep it a feast unto the Lord throughout your generations.”
ALL: ‘You shall keep it a feast by an ordinance forever.”
LEADER: By the blood of the lamb was Israel spared.
ALL: By the blood of the lamb was Jacob redeemed.
LEADER: By the blood of the lamb was death made to pass over.
Passover, or in Hebrew, PESACH, that holiday which commemorates the night when death passed over the houses of Israel because of the blood, the blood of the lamb; the Passover Lamb. What a mighty act of redemption! What a beautiful picture of a greater redemption destined to come. For just as none of the bones of the first Passover Lamb were broken, so none of the Messiah’s bones were broken.
ALL: Just as the blood of those first Passover lambs was applied in faith to the door posts Israel’s homes, so the blood of the Messiah must be applied in faith to the door posts of our hearts. Tonight we worship God, not only because the angel of death passed over the Jewish people’s homes,
LEADER: but because all of us, whether Jewish or Gentile, may be redeemed from an even greater bondage through faith in the Messiah of Israel,
ALL: The Messiah, the Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of the Living God.
LEADER: Through Him we may pass over from death to life.
THE TEN PLAGUES
LEADER: Pharaoh defied the Lord and placed his will above the will of God. As a result, he brought destruction upon his house and land. How often do we, like Pharaoh, choose our desires over God’s direction? How often do we, like Pharaoh, bring harm upon ourselves and upon those closest to us? Because we share with Pharaoh the sin of disobedience, and because we regard all people as God’s creations, we do not rejoice over the destruction visited upon the Egyptians.
ALL: For our sake they met with suffering and death. We mourn their loss and express our sorrow over their destruction.
LEADER: Though we celebrate our liberation, our happiness is not complete as long as others remain bound to slavery and death.
(Leader raises cup and continues)
A full cup is a symbol of complete joy. Let us, therefore, diminish our cups as we recall the plagues which befell the Egyptians.
(Everyone empties a drop from his cup for each one of the ten plagues)
5. Cattle disease
9. Darkness .
10. Slaying of the first-born.
THE SECOND CUP: THE CUP OF PLAGUES
LEADER: It is time to drink the second cup. (All raise their cups.)
ALL: Blessed are You, O Lord our God, Who created the fruit of the vine. (All drink the second cup.)
LEADER: (Leader’s prayer for GOD’s blessing over dinner).
THE PASSOVER MEAL
The Leader now sends the children in search of the Afikomen. The child, who recovers it, returns it to the Leader, who gives the child a reward. LEADER: The search of the Afikomen is certainly one of the most delightful moments of the Passover Seder. Yet, some mystery surrounds the significance of the Afikomen and the Matzah Tosh from which it has been drawn. We may justly ask,
ALL: What is the meaning of the three Matzos and why is the middle Matzah broken, buried and then brought back.
LEADER: To many, the question is a riddle yet to be resolved. For those who have a personal relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ, the Messiah, it need not be a riddle at all. Where can we find a clearer picture of our Messiah than in this tradition concerning the Afikomen which has been broken, buried and then brought back? Even the Matzah, a symbol of a sinless nature speaks of Jesus. The Rabbis have set down some very special regulations concerning the appearance of Matzah. If it is to be found suitable for use in the Passover Seder, it first has to be stripped. ALL: As was Jesus after He was flogged. Isaiah said, “and with His stripes are we healed.”(Isaiah 53:5)
LEADER: In the second place, it must be pierced. ALL: As was Jesus. The prophet Zechariah said, “They will look on me, the one they have pierced,..” ( Zechariah 12:10) LEADER: Earlier, we called this the bread of affliction which our ancestors ate in the land of Egypt. And this is true. But it is also a symbol of the bread of life, which comes down from heaven, and gives life unto the world. ALL: “Then Jesus declared, “I am the bread of life. He who comes to me will never go hungry, and he who believes in me will never be thirsty.”(John 6:35) LEADER: Let all who are hungry come and eat.(The Matzah is lowered, and the cups are refilled) ALL: Then what is the meaning of the Matzah Tosh, and why is the middle Matzah broken, buried, and then brought back?
FATHERS: Some teach that the three matzos represent the unity of the three patriarchs of Israel;
- and Jacob
ALL: Then why is the middle Matzah broken, buried and then brought back?
FATHERS: Others say that the Matzos represent the unity of worship in ancient Israel;
- the High Priests,
- the Levites and
- the people of Israel.
ALL: Then why is the middle Matzah broken, buried and then brought back? FATHERS: Still others teach that the matzos represent three crowns;
- The Crown of Learning,
- The Crown of Priesthood and
- The Crown of Kingship.
ALL: Then why is the middle Matzah broken, buried and then brought back?
LEADER: There is yet one final explanation. An explanation suggested by the design of the Matzah Tosh itself. For the three parts of the Matzah Tosh form a unity. A TRI-UNITY. A mysterious three in one. Could it be that the TRI-UNITY of the Matzah Tosh bear witness to the TRI-UNITY of One God revealed in three persons;
- God the Father,
- God the Son and
- God the Holy Spirit?
ALL: Then why is the middle Matzah broken: buried and then brought back?
LEADER: Because Jesus, the second Person of the Godhead, was broken, buried and then brought back. It was at this time during the last Passover Seder Jesus had with His disciples, before His sacrifice, that Jesus said, “and when he had given thanks, he broke it and said, “This is my body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of me.” (1 Corinthians 11:24) During Jesus time, the sacrificed lamb was supposed to be the last food eaten, of any kind of food, until morning. Jesus broke with tradition that night by this act of breaking and distributing the unleavened bread. What Evangelical Churches refer to the “Lords Supper”, “The Lord’s Table”, or “Communion” is actually what Jesus did that last Passover Seder night by breaking the unleavened bread and distributed it to His disciples. In fact, Jesus did NOT violate the Seder tradition. Lamb was the last things they ate that night. In John 6:48-58, Jesus is recorded as explaining this; “I am the bread of life. Your forefathers ate the manna in the desert, yet they died. But here is the bread that comes down from heaven, which a man may eat and not die. I am the living bread that came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever. This bread is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world.” Then the Jews began to argue sharply among themselves, “How can this man give us his flesh to eat?” Jesus said to them, “I tell you the truth, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day. For my flesh is real food and my blood is real drink. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me, and I in him. Just as the living Father sent me and I live because of the Father, so the one who feeds on me will live because of me. This is the bread that came down from heaven. Your forefathers ate manna and died, but he who feeds on this bread will live forever.”
THE THIRD CUP: THE CUP OF REDEMPTION
LEADER: It is now time for the third cup, the Cup of Redemption. The fruit of the vine at Passover is always red to remind us, the rabbis explain, of the precious blood of that ancient Passover lamb; the lamb that was sacrificed to redeem us from bondage to Pharaoh.
ALL: In the same way, the blood of another Passover Lamb, the Messiah Jesus, was sacrificed to redeem us from bondage to sin and death. It was concerning this cup, “The Cup of Redemption”, the cup taken after dinner, which the Messiah Jesus said, “In the same way, after the supper he took the cup, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which is poured out for you.(Luke 22:20) LEADER: At Passover, each person at the Seder receives a piece of the Afikomen, about the size of an olive. Then the morsel of Afikomen and the third cup of wine are taken together. For those of us who know the Messiah, this serves as a remembrance of the body and blood of our Passover Lamb, Jesus the Christ, The Son of the Living God.
COMMUNION/THE LORD’S SUPPER
LEADER: A warning from the Apostle Paul before we take the Afikomen and Cup of Redemption. The Apostle Paul wrote to the Corinthian Church, and also to all Christian believers, the following; “What you must solemnly realize is that every time you eat this bread and every time you drink this cup, you reenact in your words and actions the death of the Master. You will be drawn back to this meal again and again until the Master returns. You must never let familiarity breed contempt. Anyone who eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Master irreverently is like part of the crowd that jeered and spit on him at his death. Is that the kind of “remembrance” you want to be part of? Examine your motives, test your heart, and come to this meal in holy awe. If you give no thought (or worse, don’t care) about the broken body of the Master when you eat and drink, you’re running the risk of serious consequences. That’s why so many of you even now are listless and sick, and others have gone to an early grave. If we get this straight now, we won’t have to be straightened out later on. Better to be confronted by the Master now than to face a fiery confrontation later”.(1 Corinthians 11:26-32 from THE MESSAGE) Please search your heart right now. Make sure your attitude and your focus are correct. If, if needed, repent and accept Jesus forgiveness.
TAKING THE AFIKOMEN AND THE THIRD CUP, THE CUP OF REDEMPTION: “For I received from the Lord what I also passed on to you: The Lord Jesus, on the night he was betrayed, took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and said, “This is my body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of me.” In the same way, after supper he took the cup, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood; do this, whenever you drink it, in remembrance of me.” For whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.(1 Corinthians 11:23-26) A Time for reflection, prayer, praise and thanksgiving.
THE FOURTH CUP: THE CUP OF HALLEL
(The fourth cup is filled)
LEADER: Now comes the Hallel, the recitation from Psalms 113 through 118. Let us recite psalms of worship at this time, just as Jesus recited them every year as part of His Passover Seder observance. Praise ye the Lord.
ALL: Praise, O ye servants of the Lord. Praise the name of the Lord.
LEADER: Blessed be the name of the Lord from this time forth and forevermore.
ALL: From the rising of the sun unto the going down of the same, the Lord’s name is to be praised.
LEADER: The Lord is high above all nations, and His glory above the heavens.
ALL: Who is like unto the Lord, our God, who dwells on high?
LEADER: Give thanks unto the Lord, for He is good.
ALL: For His mercy endures forever.
(All drink the fourth cup)
THE CUP OF ELIJAH:
LEADER: The sharing of the Afikomen and the Cup of Redemption are precious moments in the Passover Seder.
Yet most of God’s beloved Chosen People, Israel, do not yet see how the Messiah, and His promise to redeem them, are portrayed in the breaking of this bread, and the drinking of this cup. As a result, they look ahead to the promise represented by a special cup set aside for the prophet Elijah. It is recorded by the Hebrew prophet Malachi that the coming of the Messiah will be preceded by the return of the prophet Elijah. “See, I will send you the prophet Elijah before that great and dreadful day of the LORD comes. He will turn the hearts of the fathers to their children, and the hearts of the children to their fathers; or else I will come and strike the land with a curse.”(Malachi 4:5-6)
Each year at Passover, a child goes to the door and opens it wide, hoping the prophet will accept the invitation, enter the home, and announce the coming of the Messiah. A cherished Jewish prayer is for the prophet Elijah to come soon, in our time, with the Messiah, the Son of God.
Yet we who have a personal relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ already know that Elijah did return. In the book of Matthew Jesus is recorded as saying, “As John’s disciples were leaving, Jesus began to speak to the crowd about John: “What did you go out into the desert to see? A reed swayed by the wind? If not, what did you go out to see? A man dressed in fine clothes? No, those who wear fine clothes are in kings’ palaces. Then what did you go out to see? A prophet? Yes, I tell you, and more than a prophet. This is the one about whom it is written:
“‘I will send my messenger ahead of you, who will prepare your way before you.’
I tell you the truth: Among those born of women there has not risen anyone greater than John the Baptist; yet he who is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he. From the days of John the Baptist until now, the kingdom of heaven has been forcefully advancing, and forceful men lay hold of it. For all the Prophets and the Law prophesied until John. And if you are willing to accept it, he is the Elijah who was to come. He, who has ears, let him hear.(Matthew 11:7-15)
The prophet, the forerunner, has come. So did the Messiah, Jesus the Christ, during Passover more than 2,000 years ago.
LEADER: As we partake of this Passover Seder, may our hearts be joined in gratitude to God for the coming Messiah,
for His death, resurrection and the promise of His soon return.
ALL: Praise the Lord, all you nations; praise Him all you people. For His merciful kindness is great toward us; the truth of the Lord endures forever. Hallelujah!
LEADER: It is traditional to conclude the Seder by singing, “Next Year in Jerusalem”. For generations this song has captured, in melody, the fervent hope of the Jewish people. A hope to be restored to the ancient land of Israel in the presence of the Messiah Himself.
As followers of the Lord Jesus Christ we too have a similar hope; The Hope of Jesus’ soon return. Let us read from the Revelation of John;
ALL: “Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea. I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Now the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.”
He who was seated on the throne said, “I am making everything new!” ….
“Behold, I am coming soon! Blessed is he who keeps the words of the prophecy in this book.”
“Behold, I am coming soon! My reward is with me, and I will give to everyone according to what he has done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End.
“Blessed are those who wash their robes, that they may have the right to the tree of life and may go through the gates into the city. Outside are the dogs, those who practice magic arts, the sexually immoral, the murderers, the idolaters and everyone who loves and practices falsehood.
“I, Jesus, have sent my angel to give you this testimony for the churches. I am the Root and the Offspring of David, and the bright Morning Star.”
He who testifies to these things says, “Yes, I am coming soon.”
Amen. Come, Lord Jesus.(Revelation 21:1-5, Revelation 22:7, Revelation 22:12-16, Revelation 22:20)