The Biblical Holydays are an intriguing topic.
A common misunderstanding of these days are that
they are just solemn days to be observed, which paints a
very boring understanding of them, but the scripture
paints an entirely different picture. It is
true, these were "solemn" days to be
observed (Lev. 23:36, Num. 10:10), but the Hebrew
word used for solemn does not have the same meaning
that we use for solemn today. The Hebrew words
used are ‛ătsârâh ‛ătsereth and
mô‛êd mô‛êd mô‛âdâh. The first
simply means, "an assembly, especially on a
festival or holiday" and the second means,
"an appointment, that is, a fixed time or season;
specifically a festival" (Strong's Concordance
- H6116 & H4150). These
days are to be greats feasts of joy, gladness, and
a party (2 Chron. 30:21-22, Ezra 6:22, Neh. 8:16-18). We are to have live music and lots and
lots of people (Psalm 81:3, 2 Chron. 8:13, 9:11). Giant feasts of food and fun
are commanded for us. Our second tithe is
designed to fund these Holydays and we are to spend
this money on, "whatsoever thy soul lusteth
after" (Deut. 14:26). These feasts are
clearly a time of rejoicing and celebrating the
wonderfulness of God with the children of God.
During this time we are to learn God's law as well
(Deut. 31:10-12, Neh. 8:1-2, 13-17).
To put this in modern terms the feasts are like
vacation Bible school for the entire family.
Why would we not want to celebrate them today?
I believe we should celebrate these feasts even
today. Since 2008, my family has celebrated the
feasts. Each year we have learned more about
how to celebrate these holydays. The purpose
of this series of articles is to explain when to
celebrate the holydays, how to celebrate them, and
what we should learn from them.
The details of the first Passover are explained in
the book of Exodus. This feast is a result of
God delivering the Israelites from slavery in Egypt.
The Israelites settled in Egypt as a result of
Joseph's favor with the Egyptian Pharaoh (Gen.
41:41). Shortly after, the Pharaoh changed and
the Israelites lost this favor (Ex. 1:8). The
new Pharaoh saw the Israelites as a threat because
of their growing population (Ex. 1:9). The end
result is their slavery to the Egyptians (Ex.
God raised up a man named Moses to free His people,
Israel. Moses was spared as a baby through the
Nile river as the Pharaoh ordered the death of every
male under two years of age. He was saved from
the river and raised by Pharaoh's daughter.
Moses grew up in Egypt and had great power. As
an adult, Moses learns his true identity and has
compassion for the Hebrew people. In anger,
Moses kills an Egyptian and then escapes to Midian.
Here he lives with his father in law Jethro.
God then appears to Moses in a burning bush and
commands him to appear before Pharaoh to let the
Israelites leave for a feast to the LORD.
Pharaoh refuses and God unleashes ten plagues upon
the Egyptians. The 10th plague is the death of
all firstborn males in Egypt. To spare the
Israelites the death of their firstborn sons, God
gave them the Passover. The Israelites were to
kill a lamb on the fourteenth day of the month (Ex.
12:6). They were to roast it with fire and eat
it that night (Ex. 12:8). They were to strike
their door posts with the blood of the lamb (Ex.
12:7) so that the LORD would "pass over"
the Israelites and their firstborn sons would be
spared (Ex. 12:13).
The Hebrews did as they were told, and the Egyptians
lost their firstborn sons. The Pharaoh let the
Israelites leave for their feast, but quickly
changes his mind and gives chase. The drama
ends as God parts the Red Sea and the Israelites
cross safely (Ex. 14:21-22), but the Egyptians
followed and the waters overtook them (Ex. 14:27).
These are the events that gave way to the Feast of
Passover. We are to tell these events to our
children each year at Passover (Ex. 12:26-27).
God's Timing System:
The question might be asked, how do we know when to
celebrate the Passover? This can be a
confusing topic to study. God's timing system is very different than the
system we use today. It is not like our modern
calendar that can be predicted years in advance.
God's system uses the moon and the sun to determine
the times of the year (Gen. 1:14). This is to
be done by observation and not by mathematical
calculations. In Deuteronomy 16:1, God said
to, "Observe the month of Abib, and keep the
Passover unto the LORD thy God: for in the month of
Abib the LORD thy God brought thee forth out of
Egypt by night." The Hebrew word for
"observe" is shâmar which means,
"to hedge about ... mark, look narrowly, observe ...
wait (for), watch (-man)" (Strong's Concordance
- H8104). We are to "look narrowly"
for, we are to "wait" and "watch"
for the month of Abib to determine when the Passover
is to be. You might ask, what are we looking
for? The answer is found in two of the Hebrew
words in this verse. The first word is the word
for Abib ('âbı̂yb), which means, "to be tender;
green, that is a young ear of grain" (Strong's
Concordance - H24). The first month of the
year is just after winter when the first crops of
the year turn green. We are to look for this
greening of our crops. The second word is
chôdesh and is defined as, "the new moon;
by implication a month" (Strong's Concordance -
H2320). From this definition we can conclude
that we are watching for the new moon. The
conclusion is drawn that we are to watch for the
greening of our crops, then we are to watch for the
next new moon. This next new moon is the first
day of the first month of the year. This seems
like a simple task, but it is not without its
For example, there are many different understandings
of what a scriptural new moon is. I've read
several papers defending these different positions
on the definition of the scriptural new moon, but
still have a difficult time making a definitive
conclusion on the matter. Of these many
understandings there are three positions that stand
out above the others. These positions are: the
crescent moon is the new moon; the dark moon is the
new moon; and more recently is a theory that the
full moon is the new moon. It is not the
intent of this article to try and answer this
question. As already stated, I have not been
able to come to a definitive conclusion in my own
mind as of yet. Although I tend to lean
towards the first position, that of sighting the
crescent moon. Instead of defending one of the
above positions I will briefly
explain each and then continue with this study on
the Passover of the LORD.
The Crescent Moon:
The Crescent Moon theory is the most common position regarding what the
scriptural new moon is. This position holds that the first
visible crescent determines the first day of the
month (new moon). From this date you can
now determine the Passover and all other
holydays. You would first look for the
greening of your crops, then you would look for
the first visible sliver of light from the moon.
This day would be the first day of the first
month of the year.
The Dark Moon:
The second position is that of the dark moon.
This is commonly called a Lunar Conjunction.
This is when the earth, moon, and sun are all
aligned. The moon is not visible at this
time. This position holds that the Lunar
Conjunction is the time of the new moon and this
is what determines the start of the month/year.
The Full Moon:
This position holds that the full moon is in
reality the new moon of the scriptures.
This position holds that the full moon after the
crops turn green is the first day of the first
month of the year.
As stated earlier, I have not come to a
conclusion regarding these positions. My
family started out following the full moon theory,
but recently have shifted more towards the crescent
moon theory. I have no doubt that members from
all sides sincerely believe their position and
sincerely want to follow the God of the scriptures.
I think it is up to each of us to, "Study to shew thyself
approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be
ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth"
(2 Tim. 2:15). We need to
study our best and do what we believe is right.
In eternity, the LORD will straighten out this
matter for us. I believe that this falls under
Outline of the Passover Feast:
Once the first day of the year is established, the
rest of the dates are easily determined. Here
is an outline of all the requirements I could find
in the scripture concerning the Passover, Feast of
Unleavened Bread, and Feast of Firstfruits.
The tenth day of the first month we are to set
aside a lamb (Ex. 12:3).
One lamb for each house (Ex. 12:4).
A lamb can be shared with two households if one
household is too small (Ex. 12:4).
The lamb shall be without blemish (Ex. 12:5).
The lamb shall be male (Ex. 12:5).
The lamb shall be less than one year old (Ex.
The lamb shall come from the sheep or the goats
A hymn shall be sang (Matt. 26:30, Mark 14:26).
Foot washing ceremony (John 13:4-5).
Communion bread shall be eaten (Matt. 26:26-30,
Mark 14:22-25, Luke 22:18-22).
Communion wine shall be drank (Matt. 26:26-30,
Mark 14:22-25, Luke 22:18-22).
Shall keep the lamb until the fourteenth day of
the first month (Ex. 12:6).
Shall kill the lamb in the evening (Ex. 12:6).
Shall strike the sides and upper door posts with
the blood of the lamb (Ex. 12:7).
Shall roast the lamb with fire (Ex. 12:8).
Shall blow the trumpet over the Passover
Offering (Num. 10:10).
Shall eat the lamb in that night (Ex. 12:8).
Shall eat the lamb with bitter herbs (Ex.12:8).
Shall eat the lamb with unleavened bread (Ex.
Shall not eat it raw (Ex. 12:9).
Shall not eat it sodden with water (Ex. 12:9).
Shall roast the lamb whole with it's head, legs,
and internal organs (Ex. 12:9).
Burn the lamb until nothing remains (Ex. 12:10,
Eat with your loins girded (Ex. 12:11).
Eat with your staff in your hand (Ex. 12:11).
Eat with your shoes on (Ex. 12:11).
Eat in haste/quickly (Ex. 12:11).
Shall teach the Passover to your children (Ex.
Servants can eat if circumcised (Ex. 12:44).
Must be eaten in one house (Ex. 12:45-46).
Not one bone shall be broken (Ex. 12:46).
All the congregation shall keep the Passover
Strangers can keep the Passover if all males are
circumcised (Ex. 12:48).
All that keep the Passover shall practice one
law (Ex. 12:49).
If you miss the Passover you can celebrate it on
the second month (Num. 9:6-14).
Shall remove all leaven from your household (Ex.
Shall eat unleavened bread for seven days (Ex.
12:15, 18, Ex. 13:6-7, Lev. 23:6-8).
Those that eat unleavened bread shall be
excommunicated (Ex. 12:15).
There shall be no unleavened bread in all your
camp for seven days (Ex. 12:19-20).
A Sabbath is to be observed (Ex. 12:16, Lev.
A Holy Convocation is to be observed (Ex. 12:16,
No servile work is to be done (Ex. 12:16, Lev.
Shall be on the morrow after the Sabbath (Lev.
A Wave Offering is to be given (Lev. 23:9-11).
A Burnt Offering is to be given (Lev. 23:12).
A Meat Offering is to be given (Lev. 23:13).
A Wine Offering is to be given (Lev. 23:13).
Shall not eat bread until after the offering
Shall not eat parched corn until after the
offering (Lev. 23:14).
Shall not eat green ears
until after the offering (Lev. 23:14).
There shall be no unleavened bread in all the camp
for seven days (Deut. 16:4).
A Holy Convocation is to be observed (Ex. 12:16,
No servile work is to be done (Ex. 12:16, Lev.
This is how the scripture describes to keep the
Passover. It is detailed in Exodus 12 and
Leviticus 23. At the end of these details
listed in Exodus 12 God said, "And ye shall
observe this thing for an ordinance to thee and to
thy sons for ever. And it shall come to pass, when
ye be come to the land which the LORD will give you,
according as he hath promised,
that ye shall keep this
service" (Ex. 12:24-25). He said
again, "And it shall be when the LORD shall
bring thee into the land of the Canaanites, and the
Hittites, and the Amorites, and the Hivites, and the
Jebusites, which he sware unto thy fathers to give
thee, a land flowing with milk and honey, that
thou shalt keep this service in this month"
(Ex. 13:5). The scripture clearly teaches that
we are to do the "service" as outlined in
Exodus 12 and this was to be "forever." Today,
however, very few people keep the Passover in this
manner. Instead, they opt to do a Jewish Seder
instead. For some reason we believe we are to
keep the feasts, but not in the way God lays out in
Seder or Exodus 12?
Many are confused today regarding some passages
about the Passover. Today, many claim to
"sacrifice" the Passover and use a real lamb is
against the scripture. They cite several
verses to show that doing so outside of Jerusalem,
without a Temple, is against the will of God.
This is their justification for doing the Jewish
Seder. Unfortunately, this belief does not
hold up to a detailed study of the scripture.
The scripture does teach that we are not to
sacrifice the Passover within our own gates, but
only at the place where the LORD has placed his name
(Deut. 16:5-6). However, this is not referring
to the Passover lamb. This is referring to all
the offerings during the Feast of Unleavened Bread.
We know this based on the context. The word
"Passover" in the scripture can refer to
several things. First, it refers to the lamb
(Ex. 12:21). We are to kill the Passover.
Second, it refers to the first day of the feast
(Lev. 23:5). This is the preparation day.
Third, it refers to the entire week of unleavened
bread (Eze. 45:21). In Deuteronomy 16 it is
used to refer to the entire week. We know this
based on the offerings mentioned. The context
is clear. We are to "sacrifice the
Passover unto the LORD thy God,
of the flock and the herd,
in the place which the LORD shall choose to place
his name there" (Deut. 16:2). This
sacrifice is of the flock and the herd. The
word for flock is tseh-one' and refers to a
sheep or a goat, but the word for herd is
bâqâr which refers to a bull or heifer.
The Passover is never to be a bull or heifer.
This is clearly referring to all the offerings
during the Feast of Unleavened Bread, which are
required to be at the Temple (2 Chron. 35:7-8).
In Deut. 16:5 it is still referring to the Passover
sacrifices in the Temple of sheep, goats, bulls, and
cows, not the Passover lamb. In Deut. 16:6 it
does sound like the Passover lamb, but it is not.
It says, "thou shalt sacrifice the Passover
at the going down of the sun, at the season that
thou camest forth out of Egypt" (Deut. 16:6).
The word for "at even" is not the same
phrase as in Exodus 12. The phrase in Exodus
12 is bêyn ‛ereb, which means between the evenings.
This refers to the time between noon and the setting
sun, around 3pm. The word used in Deut. 16:6
is just ‛ereb, which is at sunset. You cannot
kill the Passover at sunset and also have it ready
to eat at sunset. To slaughter and roast an
animal whole takes hours. The next verse
clarifies this problem. We are told to "roast
and eat it in the place which the LORD thy God shall
choose" (Deut. 16:7). The word for roast
is also different than in Exodus 12. The word
roast is bâshal, which means to boil in
water. Exodus 12 specifically says not to boil
(bâshal) the Passover (Ex. 12:9). This
is the same word. In Exodus 12 we are told not
to boil the Passover in water, but here in
Deuteronomy 16 we are apparently supposed to boil
the Passover in water. The truth is, this is a
description of the sacrifices during the Feast of
Unleavened Bread, not the Passover Lamb.
The reality is, there are several examples in the
scripture where Israel sacrificed the Passover
outside of Jerusalem. During the 40 years of
wandering Israel kept the Passover outside of
Jerusalem (Num. 9:3-4). At this time Israel
was not in the land. Even in the New Testament
we see this. Paul told the Corinthians to keep
the Passover (1 Cor. 5:7-8). Corinth was 800
miles away from Jerusalem. That is a several
month travel. Does God expect the Corinthians
to keep the feast in Jerusalem? If so, they
would have to spend most of the year traveling to
the feasts. How would you work? How
would you support yourself? This is
unreasonable. The truth is that God had a much
grander plan. Deuteronomy 12 is the answer.
The first twenty verses of chapter twelve speaks of
sacrifices only at the place the LORD shall choose
(Deut. 12:5-6, 11, 13-14, 17-18). God clearly
said not to sacrifice anywhere except where the LORD
thy God chooses. Where the LORD thy God
chooses is clearly Jerusalem, which is where God's
By verse twenty, however, God expands on His answer.
You see, His plan was much bigger than Jerusalem. God
said, "When the LORD thy God shall enlarge
thy border, as he hath promised thee, and thou shalt
say, I will eat flesh, because thy soul longeth to
eat flesh; thou mayest eat flesh, whatsoever thy
soul lusteth after. If the place which the LORD thy
God hath chosen to put his name there be too far
from thee, then thou shalt kill (H2076 - sacrifice)
of thy herd and of thy flock, which the LORD hath
given thee, as I have commanded thee, and thou shalt
eat in thy gates whatsoever thy soul lusteth after"
(Deut. 12:20-21). God's plan was to enlarge
Israel's borders and grow. If Jerusalem is too
far to travel to for the feasts and sacrifices, we
can sacrifice within our own gates. After all,
God's plan was to make Abraham the father of many
nations (Gen. 17:4). Israel was only the
start. Any nation today can follow God's
commands and keep His feasts. Including
America. It is true that God placed His name
in Jerusalem, but is that the only place. At
the start of the Old Covenant God said to Moses,
"An altar of earth thou shalt make unto me, and
shalt sacrifice thereon thy burnt offerings, and thy
peace offerings, thy sheep, and thine oxen:
in all places where I
record my name I will come unto thee, and I
will bless thee" (Ex. 20:24). The word
places is plural. God's plan was to place his
name in several places. This is how Abraham
was to be a father of many nations. God's name
is anywhere his law is practiced.
In fact, the Passover lamb was to be sacrificed in
everyone's homes. This was a special sacrifice
that God commanded each family to do. During
the time of the Messiah the Pharisees did their
Passover's in the Temple, but was this correct?
It does not match the commandments of Exodus 12.
We know from Josephus that "the Pharisees have
delivered to the people a
great many observances by succession from
their fathers, which are
not written in the laws of Moses; and for
that reason it is that the Sadducees reject them,
and say that we are to esteem those observances to
be obligatory which are in the written word, but are
not to observe what are derived from the tradition
of our forefathers" (Flavious Josephus,
Antiquities of the Jews, Bk. 13, Ch. 10, vs. 6).
The truth is, every other Jewish group did their
Passover in their own homes. Josephus also
recorded that "when the fourteenth day was come,
and all were ready to depart they offered the
sacrifice, and purified their houses with the blood,
using bunches of hyssop for that purpose; and when
they had supped, they burnt the remained of the
flesh, as just ready to depart.
Whence it is that we do
still offer this sacrifice in like manner to this
day, and call this festival Pascha which
signifies the feast of the Passover;" (Flavious
Josephus, Antiquities of the Jews, Bk. 2, Ch. 14,
vs. 6). The Jews in the Messiah's day did this
sacrifice just like Exodus 12, painting their doors
with blood using hyssop, eating the Passover at
evening, and burning the remainder of flesh
throughout the night. Philo of Alexandria
confirms this as well when he said of the feast,
"the Hebrews call, in their native language, Pascha,
on which the whole nation sacrifices, each
individual among them, not waiting for the priests,
since on this occasion the law has given, for one
special day in every year, a priesthood to the whole
nation, so that each individual slays his own victim
on this day" (Philo of Alexandria, The
Decalogue, pg. 159). The majority of the Jews
during the time of the Messiah sacrificed their
Passover in their own homes and followed Exodus 12,
while the Pharisees sacrificed their Passover in the
Temple. Based on scripture, the Pharisees had
it wrong, but the people had it right.
After the destruction of the Temple in 70 AD, the
Pharisees could no longer keep their Passover the
way they taught. As a result, they started
keeping the Passover in their own homes, but they
still believed it could only be done in the Temple.
This is where the Seder comes from. It was
modeled after the formal meal of the day called a
Greek Symposium. The Greek Symposium was a
formal meal that involved reclining at the table,
four cups of wine, a learned discussion, and a last
morsel of food called the afikomen. Does this
sound familiar? The similarities go even
further, but the truth is simple. The
Pharisees believed so strongly that sacrifices were
only to be done in the Temple that they changed the
Passover to the Seder. The Seder was modeled
after the common formal meal of the day, which was
the Greek Symposium.
Shadow of Things to Come:
The feasts of the LORD have another purpose as well.
They outline the events of God's plan in history.
Though each of the feasts have a historical aspect,
they also have a prophetic aspect. The
Apostle Paul tells us they are, "a shadow of
things to come" (Col. 2:16-17).
Here is the prophetic aspect to the Feast of
Passover, Unleavened Bread, and Firstfruits.
The name Passover comes from the words of Exodus
12:13 where God says He will "pass over" the
Israelite homes that have the blood of the lamb on
their door posts. This is an obvious reference
to the Messiah, who is called our Passover lamb (1
Cor. 5:7-8). The Messiah was crucified on
Passover day at the exact time the Passover Lambs
were slaughtered (John 18:28). His death gives
us our atonement and God can now "pass over" our
sins and spare our lives from the penalty of sin (1
Pet. 1:18-19). Here are some examples of how
the Messiah fulfilled the Passover:
The Messiah was the Passover lamb (Ex. 12:3, 1
The Messiah was without blemish or defect (Ex.
12:5, 1 Pet. 2:22).
The Messiah's blood covered our lives of sin
(Ex. 12:7, Rom. 3:25).
The Messiah delivered us from our slavery to sin
(Ex. 13:3, Heb. 2:14-15).
The Messiah brought us our sanctification
(removed sin/leaven from our lives (Ex. 12:15, 2
The Messiah is the firstfruits of man (Lev.
23:9-11, 1 Cor. 15:20, 23).
There are many other examples of how the Messiah
fulfilled these feasts. The list can go on and
on. The point to all of this is that these
feasts proclaim God's plan throughout all the ages.
By practicing them we will learn God's plan.
After all, "A good understanding have all they
that do his commandments" (Psalms 111:10).
If we start doing God's commandments we will start
understanding what they are for. When we start
practicing the Feast of Passover, Unleavened Bread,
and Firstfruits, we will learn more and more what
the will of God is for our lives and mankind.
This type of Passover might seem different than
most, but it is truly the biblical Passover.
We have lost sight of this over the years and have
turned the Passover into a religious ceremony.
This has clouded the truth of what the Passover is
designed to teach. It only seems weird to us
today because we are so far removed from reality.
A hundred years ago it was very common for a family
to roast a whole animal for a feast. Today it
is almost unheard of. The Passover is no
different. It is a family barbecue designed to
remember our history and teach a biblical concept.
The most common complaint I hear about this type of
Passover is this. People often say, "but I
can't kill a lamb. How can I do this?" My
response is always, "then don't kill a lamb, but
you can still keep the rest of the commands
correctly." A family could easily buy
their lamb from the supermarket on the tenth.
Set it aside and label it "Passover" in the
fridge until the fourteenth. Barbecue it on
the fourteenth and eat it on the evening of the
fifteenth. They could take the juices from
cooking the lamb, or any substitute desired, to
paint their door posts. The point I make is
this, the closer we keep God's commandments as He
commanded the better off we will be. Who
knows, maybe after a few Passovers kept God will
provide someone who can butcher the animal for you.