Sunday, May 1, 2011

The Seven Feasts: Part 2 - The Haggadah

The Seven Feasts: Part 2 - The Passover Haggadah
Pastor Bruce A. Shields
House of Faith Church | |

Leviticus 23:4-5 4 “‘These are the LORD’s appointed festivals, the sacred assemblies you are to proclaim at their appointed times: 5 The LORD’s Passover begins at twilight on the fourteenth day of the first month.”


We know from scripture about Jesus’ Jewish upbringing, and how He observed Moses’ Law faithfully and no sin could be laid to His account.  I Peter 2:22

We know from scripture that Jesus observed the Holy Days given by God.  The last supper was the feast of Passover, not just wine and bread.  However, the night Jesus went to the cross, He explained what the Passover represented.  He explained to the Disciples that night, what the feast that God had given to the Jews really meant.

He was the lamb, the first born of God to be sacrificed as payment for our sin, so that we could be reconciled with God in spite of our sin.  The unleavened bread they ate that night represented Jesus body, which was without sin, and was to be broken for you and I.  The wine represented His blood, which was to be shed for the remission of our sins.

Today we will look at a typical Haggadah, or Passover feast, and see the symbolic nature of the meal, and its relation to the Lord.

Colossians 2:16-17
16 Therefore do not let anyone judge you by what you eat or drink, or with regard to a religious festival, a New Moon celebration or a Sabbath day. 17 These are a shadow of the things that were to come; the reality, however, is found in Christ.

All of the feasts and celebrations, as well as the food laws and Sabbath, all related to Christ, and were foreshadowing of Him.  We no longer need to observe these things because Christ has come!

We do still observe a new celebration though, given to us by Christ Himself, the celebration of Communion. 
Following Jesus’ resurrection, the Apostles observed Communion on the first day of each week (Sunday), the day on which Christ arose. (John 20:1)

This is the reason we meet on Sundays to worship the Lord, because that is when the Apostles gathered, and shared communion, and the worship of God, as well as had the collection of tithes on Sunday.

What about all of the feasts, food laws and things of the Old Testament?

We no longer need to observe them, Christ has come and fulfilled the law, and salvation is ONLY found in Him!

This is why Jesus said at the Passover meal to the Disciples, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood; do this, whenever you drink it, in remembrance of me.”

We have a NEW COVENANT in Christ...

So let us look at how a Haggadah relates to Christ.

Some definitions and explanations

Yarmulka or Kippah (Skull cap) - One of the most recognized piece of Jewish garb is actually the one of the least significance.  The little round cap they wear.

Pronounced yammica in Yiddish, the word means “skull cap”.

This cap took the place of the prayer shawl approximately 200 years ago.

Tallit (Prayer Shawl) - The Torah commanded that Jews wear one with tzitzit (fringes) at the corners of the garment.

Weddings were sometimes performed under a talit, which was held up by four poles, called a chupa.

We know that Jesus wore one, because He observed the laws and the Torah, but we see in scripture (Matthew 9:20) where a woman with an issue of blood touched the fringe of the tallit, which were also referred to as “wings”, and was healed.

This may be why Malachi said of the Messiah, “There is healing in His wings.” (Malachi 4:2)

Now that we have laid the background to the feast, we can begin with the Passover Seder.

1. Bedikath Chametz: Searching for the Leaven

Leaven represents sin.  Scripture teaches that just a little leaven (sin) can ruin the whole.  This search for leaven was a preparation for the feast of unleavened bread, which was to take place the day after Passover began.  No leaven was to be found in your house.

This command is found in Exodus 12:19, during the feast, there shall be no leaven found in your houses.

This search for leaven reminds us that we need to search ourselves, examining ourselves for sin. 

Traditionally, on the 13th day of Nissan, the head of each household makes a search for Chametz (leaven).

Do you see, the head of each household is to search the house for sin.  the responsibility of keeping a house pure and holy was given to Adam, and continues today. 

Traditionally, pieces were placed strategically to be sure that some was found.  And when it was found, they would recite a prayer.

“Blessed art thou, Eternal God, ruler of the universe, any leaven that may still be in the house, which I have not seen or have not removed, shall be as if it does not exist, and as the dust of the earth.”

When we search ourselves for sin, we will find it, and are required to remove it from our lives.  Sin will always remain because our flesh has not yet been redeemed, and we are nothing more than dust.

We can pray that same prayer, replacing the word leaven with sin.

The leaven which was found was placed into a wooden spoon, wrapped in a cloth and tossed into a fire.

The dead were at one time wrapped in cloth, if we are full of sin when we die, we too will be cast into a fire.

Matthew 7:19 “Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.”

He is the tree, and we are the vine...are we producing good fruit in our lives?

In Luke 22:1-20, we see Jesus celebrating and observing Passover and the Feast of Unleavened Bread. 

Today we continue in light of the New Covenant;

I Corinthians 5:8
6 Your boasting is not good. Don’t you know that a little yeast leavens the whole batch of dough? 7 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. 8 Therefore let us keep the Festival, not with the old bread leavened with malice and wickedness, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.

 9 I wrote to you in my letter not to associate with sexually immoral people— 10 not at all meaning the people of this world who are immoral, or the greedy and swindlers, or idolaters. In that case you would have to leave this world. 11 But now I am writing to you that you must not associate with anyone who claims to be a brother or sister but is sexually immoral or greedy, an idolater or slanderer, a drunkard or swindler. Do not even eat with such people.

12 What business is it of mine to judge those outside the church? Are you not to judge those inside? 13 God will judge those outside. “Expel the wicked person from among you.”

In other words, “Don’t you know that a little sin will ruin all of you?  Get rid of your old sins, so that you may be a new creation - as you really are.  For Christ has been sacrificed for this very reason.  Therefore, let us keep the festival, not with the old sinful malice and wickedness, but with righteous sincerity and truth.
2. Breechat Haner: Lighting the Festival Candles

The lighting of the festival candles takes place after the search for leaven in the home.

In Genesis 1:3 we read, “...and God said, Let there be light: and the light was.”

In Exodus 35:14, we see the almighty God who is the light giver, instruct the Children of Israel to construct the Menorah, for a light in the Holy Place within the Tabernacle.
Traditionally, the Jewish women would light the candles on the tables to mark the beginning of the feast.

We look at how the Passover feast begun with a woman bringing light, just as God said in Genesis chapter 3, that the light of the world was going to be brought to us through a woman.

Jesus is that light of the world, (John 9:5)

3. Kiddush: Sanctification - The First Cup of Blessing

This is where the head of the house would fill their cup with wine and bless the day and the people at the Seder.

This is the cup of sanctification, the first of 4 cups (5 if you count Elijah’s cup).

The four cups represent the four expressions of freedom found in Exodus 6:6-7

6 “Therefore, say to the Israelites: ‘I am the LORD, and I will bring you out from under the yoke of the Egyptians. I will free you from being slaves to them, and I will redeem you with an outstretched arm and with mighty acts of judgment. 7 I will take you as my own people, and I will be your God. Then you will know that I am the LORD your God, who brought you out from under the yoke of the Egyptians.”

This is God’s plan for our Salvation.  Through Jesus Christ, the Messiah, God BRINGS us out from under the yoke of sin.  He FREES us from being slaves to sin.  He REDEEMS us, and He TAKES us as His own.

Here the head of the house would take this first cup, and say, “I am the Lord, and I will bring you out from under the yoke of the Egyptians.”  Then drink.

4. Urchatz: The washing of the hands

The last step of the Haggadah we will look at today is the washing of the hands.

A water basin and towels were brought to the head of the house, this represents the priests washing before entering the Holy of Holies in the Temple.

Psalm 26:6
“I wash my hands in innocence, and go about your altar, O LORD.”

Clean hands represent our “doing”, or actions in this life.  Are they for the right reasons, with the correct motivation?  Who are you serving with your actions in this life, the Lord or your own selfishness?

Clean hands, a right motivation, our actions are prompted by the desire to serve and please God, not for personal gain.


Next week we will continue looking at the Haggadah, beginning with the Karpas, the dipping of the parsley.