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UCG IA Bible Insights Thursday, April 07 2022

Does God expect us to observe the Passover?

The two early-spring biblical festivals mentioned in the Bible are the Passover and the Feast of Unleavened Bread. The sacrificial lamb was slain on the Passover (the 14th of Nisan), and the Days of Unleavened Bread were observed for seven days from the 15th of Nisan. It was during these days that ancient Israel marched out of the land of Egypt toward Mount Sinai.

God instituted the Passover, and all His other festivals, as continual and enduring observances (Leviticus 23:14, 21,31 and 41). The word translated "forever" in these verses usually means perpetual rather than eternal. In other words, these festivals were given as permanent festivals, observances we should keep throughout our life. God never intended them to be temporary observances that we would discard at a later date, as is commonly taught today (be sure to read "What Did Paul Really Say in Colossians 2:16?")

"On the fourteenth day of the first month [of the Hebrew calendar] at twilight is the Lord's Passover. And on the fifteenth day of the same month is the Feast of Unleavened Bread to the Lord; seven days you must eat unleavened bread. On the first day you shall have a holy convocation; you shall do no customary work on it ... The seventh day shall be a holy convocation; you shall do no customary work on it" (Leviticus 23:5-8).

Through the observance of God’s sacred festivals, ancient Israel acted out the major steps in His plan of human redemption annually. God's plan for the redemption of mankind begins with Christ's sacrifice for our sins. "For indeed Christ, our Passover, was sacrificed for us" (1 Corinthians 5:7).

The apostles Paul and Peter understood the slain Old Testament Passover lamb foreshadowed the death of Jesus Christ as the sacrifice for our sins: "For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed…but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect. He was chosen before the creation of the world, but was revealed in these last times for your sake" (1 Peter 1:18-20; compare Exodus 12:3-6).

On the night before His death Jesus instituted the New Testament Passover service, with new symbols of His suffering and death—unleavened bread and wine. "While they were eating, Jesus took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to his disciples, saying, 'Take and eat; this is my body.' Then he took the cup, gave thanks and offered it to them, saying, 'Drink from it, all of you. This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins'" (Matthew 26:26-28).

We are told in I Corinthians Christians should continue to observe this New Testament Passover service: "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).

Paul shows the earliest Christians not only observed this festival annually—with its new symbols of bread and wine instituted by Christ to represent His suffering and death—but also that all Christians should continue observing it until Christ returns. Jesus indicated this observance will continue in His Kingdom (Matthew 26:29).

Since the Passover observance is a memorial, it should be observed only once every year as God has commanded (Numbers 9:2-3)—not at our discretion or on some weekly or monthly schedule. The annual Passover festival in the spring of each year should be observed on the exact annual date that is the anniversary of Christ's death for our sins—and in the proper manner as described above. This year the annual Passover will be observed on the evening of April 14, 2022 after sundown. (For the correct dates for all of God's festivals request our free Holy Day Calendar.)

Christ's supreme sacrifice by means of His crucifixion —which occurred on the biblically commanded Passover date—is the foundation of the Christian faith. It reflects the all-encompassing love God has for His creation and His concern for the ultimate well-being of every human being (John 3:16).