Posts Tagged With: pesach

Passover 2017 (5777)

Chag Sameach Pesach!

This Pesach was the first year that my family has had room to host a Seder in several years. I wanted to make it extra special and was inspired by the clever decorators on Pinterest. I bought a bunch of items from Amazon hoping it would all come together for a beautiful Passover table scape. As it turns out, it was beautiful and fun to create! For those of you seeking ways to make your table special next year, I thought I’d post pics from our Seder and links to the items I bought for this look.

I wanted to recreate the scene of Moses leading the children of Israel through the Reed (red) Sea on dry ground. I had the pleasure of seeing this sea a few weeks ago in Eilat, Israel. The water was truly many shades of blue from aquamarine to deep navy; it was breath-taking. I used small glass beads to mimic this look. I bought an inexpensive blue tablecloth to represent the Yam Suf and a simple roll of burlap as a runner that doubled as “dry ground.” I also wanted to depict the pillar of fire that protected Israel from the Egyptians. I found some micro LED lights on wire strands that I wound around my Sabbath candles. To showcase Pharaoh, I bought a pyramid meant for a fish tank. The little wood people are simple arts and crafts figures meant to be painted, but I loved that they are “faceless” —- they can be anyone. Me. You. Anyone. The Moses and Pharaoh figurines came in a set together from the toy department on Amazon. Below the photographs, I’ve linked to each item on Amazon. The whole table scape is only about $115! Save them in your cart and buy one at a time throughout the year for a beautiful Passover table in 2018.

Next year in Jerusalem!

© K. Gallagher

© K. Gallagher

© K. Gallagher

If you look closely, you can see Pharaoh (and his pyramid) in the background on the far end of the table, behind the pillar of fire (candles).
© K. Gallagher

© K. Gallagher

From this view, Pharaoh (and his pyramid) are on the left with the pillar of fire (candles) blocking him from the children of Israel.
© K. Gallagher

© K. Gallagher

© K. Gallagher

© K. Gallagher

© K. Gallagher

Gulf of Aqaba (Red Sea) March 2017
© K. Gallagher

Amazon Links for Table Setting

Click on description for link to the items. You can have this whole look for about $115! Best of all, most of it can be reused every Pesach.

Moses and Pharaoh

Wooden People

Pyramid

Glass Beads  

Micro LEDs  (I only used 2 strands, so I still have 8 more to use for something else or 4 more Passovers!)

Blue Tablecloth 

Burlap Runner  ( I have lots leftover for future projects.)

Categories: Moedim | Tags: , , , | 3 Comments

Tu B’Shevat

tree15th of Shevat (eleventh month)

February 11th, 2017 (begins at sundown on the 10th)

Rosh HaShannah La’ilanot

As of late, I’ve been reading a very interesting book called, The Hidden Life of Trees by Peter Wohlleben. While this isn’t a spiritual book, I cannot help but notice once again how the natural things teach spiritual truths. In the book, Mr. Wohlleben explains the marvelous activities of trees in life, death, and regeneration. Trees (in forests) live, communicate, support, and tend to one another. They detect and warn others of parasites and insects that cause harm, and can even release toxins to kill such threats. Deep in the soil, their roots work with fungi, creating a biological internet to communicate and share vital nutrients with sick trees and even the stumps of fallen family members, keeping them alive. However, trees can also shun other trees, robbing them of nutrients and sunlight. They tend to share only with those that are direct family members.

Interestingly, humans could not survive on earth without trees. They produce most of the oxygen that people and animals breathe. There would be no rain without trees, since trees absorb water from the soil and release it through evapotranspiration back into the air in the form of clouds. Forests are earth’s air filters, without which, we’d all die from pollutants. Trees prevent topsoil erosion, break the force of wind and rain, and their decaying leaves enrich the soil for other trees and plants.

In the Bible, trees (etz) were created on the third day, linking them with the Spirit of Counsel (Etzah), the Feast of early Firstfruits, and resurrection. The Biblical imagery of trees and their direct comparison to people is astounding. In fact, the only person that required a second touch from Yeshua for healing exclaimed, I see men like trees, walking.” (Mark 8:24 NKJV) Yeshua actually spit in this blind man’s eyes. I am of the opinion that Yeshua’s saliva “over-healed” this man, if you will, and he saw too well (spiritual), requiring an additional touch (a tamping down) to see as a man.

People have trunks and limbs. They grow roots, have seeds, and produce fruit. Trees and people feel pain and bleed when wounded. Both breathe and sway (move) when the wind (ruach) blows upon them. The growth of trees and people are deeply affected by the type of soil, the volume of water, and the amount of sunlight that they receive. Even the House (Temple) of YHWH is built with both trees and people. (2 Chron. 2, 1 Cor. 6:19) Thus, it is no wonder that the Scriptures abound with analogies, metaphors, similes, and puns that compare mankind to the majestic trees of the field.

In this post, I hope to illuminate the surprising connections between the month of Shevat, trees (seed to fruit), Messiah, resurrection, water, and Torah. My hope is that you will be inspired to explore Judaism’s traditional New Year for Trees with fresh eyes, like the healed blind man. Tu B’Shevat or Shevat 15th is not mentioned in the Torah. However, it is mentioned in the Mishnah, where it is called the New Year for Trees.[1] Why in the world do trees need a new year and what benefit is this for a follower of Messiah?

First, it is helpful to understand the four different Rosh Hashanim[2] or New Years celebrated in Judaism. They are the following:

  • Nisan 1st is Rosh Hashanah for the festival or feast day calendar. (Ex. 12:2) It is also Rosh Hashanah for calculating the years of the reign of the Kings of Israel. No matter when a king was crowned, his first year ended and his second year began on that day. Thus, if a king was anointed in the month of Adar, the following month of Nissan would be the beginning of the second year of his reign.
  • Elul 1st is Rosh Hashanah for the tithing of animals. A farmer is obligated to tithe his livestock, consecrating every tenth animal. But all ten animals counted must be born in the same year. The 1st of Elul became the mark to separate the year for tithing cattle.
  • Tishrei 1st is Rosh Hashanah for years, for Sabbatical years and Jubilees, and for the judgment of mankind. It is also Rosh Hashanah for the calculation of orlah (the first three years of a fruit tree when its produce may not be eaten[3]), and for the tithes separated from grains and vegetables.
  • Shevat 15th or Tu b’Shevat is Rosh Hashanah for trees. The sages designated the fifteenth of Shevat as the boundary between one year and another regarding fruit trees for tithing fruit. All fruits which blossom before Shevat 15 are a product of the rains of the previous year, and are tithed together with the crops of the previous year. Fruits that grow after this date are produce of the new year. Like Elul 1st and the new year for cattle, this demarcation was instituted so one could tithe without confusion.

dsc_0687Below, we will briefly examine the following relationships:

  • The Early and Latter Rains (Water and Torah)
  • Pesach and Sukkot (Trees, People, and Torah)
  • Celebrating Tu B’Shevat (Seder: Wine, Seeds, & Fruit)

 

Early and Latter Rains

The roots for Tu B’Shevat are found four months prior when Sukkot is celebrated. One of the major themes for the Feast of Tabernacles is water, especially in the form of rain. Prayers are offered up for rains in their season, which is a direct reference to the early rains in Israel.

“It shall come about, if you listen obediently to my commandments which I am commanding you today, to love the LORD your God and to serve Him with all your heart and all your soul, that He will give the rain (matar) for your land in its season, the early (yoreh) and late rain (malqosh), that you may gather in your grain and your new wine and your oil. (Dt. 11:13-14)

Rain in season is essential for trees that will bloom in spring. Thus, the prayers and water ceremonies from Sukkot look forward to the future feast and harvest cycles of the coming festival New Year of Nisan. The timing of the early and latter rains in Israel can be confusing to a westerner. We tend to associate the early part of the year with January or spring, but in Hebraic thought the civil year begins in the fall with the 1st of Tishrei. Thus, when the Bible speaks of the early rains, it is implying the time just after Sukkot in the fall. The latter rains fall near Pesach (Passover).

So rejoice, O sons of Zion, And be glad in the LORD your God; For He has given you the early rain for your vindication. And He has poured down for you the rain, The early and latter rain as before. (Joel 2:23 NASB) 

In Hebrew, the word for “early rain” in the underlined phrase above is moreh (H4175). This is also the word for TEACHER. The actual word for early rain is yoreh as used in Deuteronomy above. However, Joel chose to use one of its cognates, moreh, to ensure that we didn’t miss his connection between rain and teaching. They both share the Hebrew root yarah, meaning to cast or throw (like an arrow). This is also the root word for Torah!

The Torah of Adonai is like an arrow being shot to its target. It delivers precise information from teacher to student. It is also like the gentle rains that fall from heaven to soften up the soil (hearts) to receive His Seed.

“Let my teaching drop as the rain, My speech distill as the dew, As the droplets on the fresh grass And as the showers on the herb. (Dt. 32:2)

The NASB of Joel 2:23 states that YHWH gives the Teacher or early rains for our vindication, but the Hebrew texts actually says it is for our tzedakah or righteousness. Perhaps Young’s Literal Translation of this verse will put this into perspective:

And ye sons of Zion, joy and rejoice, In Jehovah your God, For He hath given to you the Teacher for righteousness, And causeth to come down to you a shower, Sprinkling and gathered—in the beginning. (Joel 2:23 YLT)

Very simply, the early rains are associated with the Teacher of Righteousness and His Word, the Torah. Why? Because the Word is a Seed and seeds require rain or water to sprout and grow and eventually produce fruit that has more of the same seed within it. The early rains (Torah) also soften the hard earth after a long, hot summer, allowing seeds to be planted in favorable soil.

Tu B’Shevat occurs between the early and latter rains. At this point, sap begins to rise through the veins of trees, pricking them to awaken from their winter sleep. This mirrors resurrection, new life, and renewal. Dormant seeds know that the time to spring from their earthly graves is near. Thus, the month of Shevat, the time between Sukkot and Pesach, is pregnant with the energy of new life. In fact, the sages teach that on the 15th of Shevat, a unique wave of Divine energy flows through all of creation as a forerunner to restoration and rebirth (in spring).

dsc_0773It was on the first day of the Hebrew month of Shevat that Moses recited the book of Deuteronomy to the people of Israel. Once again, this links Shevat with receiving the Seed and the Rain, YHWH’s divine instructions:

These are the words which Moses spoke to all Israel across the Jordan in the wilderness, in the Arabah opposite Suph, between Paran and Tophel and Laban and Hazeroth and Dizahab. It is eleven days’ journey from Horeb by the way of Mount Seir to Kadesh-barnea. In the fortieth year, on the first day of the eleventh month, Moses spoke to the children of Israel, according to all that the LORD had commanded him to give to them. (Dt. 1”1-3)

Sukkot and Pesach

The Teacher of Righteousness (Messiah) was given to Israel in the season of the early rains, as He was born during Sukkot. He was also the Living Waters and the Lamb needed at Passover in the spring when the latter rains saturate Israel. If this still seems a little backwards to you, consider that time is a cycle or circle in Hebraic thought and that Passover and Sukkot mirror one another.

For example, Pesach and Sukkot are exactly six months apart and like Tu B’Shevat they always occur on the 15th of their respective month. This means that all three dates occur on the full moon when there is the most physical and spiritual light in the darkness. Both Passover and Sukkot commemorate the exodus from Egypt, slavery, and bondage. Moreover, they are the only two festivals that the Torah specifically calls a chag rather than a moed in Leviticus 23. The Hebrew word chag means to make a cycle or circle with your feet.[4]

lulavOne of the most astounding links between Tu B’Shevat and Sukkot are the commanded four species that are waved during the festival.

On the first day you are to take choice fruit of trees, branches of palm trees, boughs of leafy trees, and willows of the brook, and rejoice before Adonai your God for seven days. (Lev. 23:40 TLV) 

Have you ever wondered why trees are used to commemorate the Israelite’s trek through the desert? We know that their diet consisted of manna from Heaven and water from a Rock. Could it be that the trees (Lulav and Etrog) that are waved at Sukkot represent the people? The Torah asks us a rather odd question in Deuteronomy 20:19, “Is the tree of the field a man?” While the context deals with war and is meant to define which trees can be cut down as tools to besiege a city, the association with men and trees are found elsewhere. Consider these verses:

But I—I am like an olive tree flourishing in the House of God. I trust in God’s lovingkindness forever and ever. (Ps. 52:10 TLV) 

 The righteous man will flourish like the palm tree, He will grow like a cedar in Lebanon. Planted in the house of the LORD, They will flourish in the courts of our God. They will still yield fruit in old age; They shall be full of sap and very green. (Ps. 92:12-14 NASB)

“They will not build and another inhabit, They will not plant and another eat; For as the lifetime of a tree, so will be the days of My people, And My chosen ones will wear out the work of their hands. (Is. 65:22)

Does Sukkot’s mirror, Passover, have any associations with trees? Yes! The people were to take hyssop branches to apply the blood of the lamb upon their doorposts and lintels. (Ex.12:22) Many centuries later, on another Passover, Yeshua was crucified on a tree. When death was nearly upon him, he said, “I thirst.” They took a hyssop branch with a sponge on the end of it and soaked it in vinegar and myrrh. They lifted it up to his mouth, but Yeshua refused it. (Mt. 27:34, Mark 15:23, John 19:29) The hyssop tree is also mentioned along with the Torah, water, people and the blood of the covenant:

For when every commandment had been spoken by Moses to all the people according to the Law, he took the blood of the calves and the goats, with water and scarlet wool and hyssop, and sprinkled both the book itself and all the people, saying, “THIS IS THE BLOOD OF THE COVENANT WHICH GOD COMMANDED YOU.” (Heb. 9:19-20)

Trees are intrinsic to both the beginning and the end. In Genesis, we see both the Tree of Life and the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil. In Revelation, Trees of Life line the banks of the River of Life. In Proverbs 3, the Spirit of Wisdom is a Tree of Life to those that cling to her. In Jewish tradition, the large spindles that carry Torah scrolls are called Trees of Life and the many sections of parchment are called its leaves.

The holy seven-branched menorah is also a Tree of Life, and is modeled after the almond tree. Interestingly, almond trees are the first trees to “wake-up” and bloom in Israel. The imagery of light, oil, buds, blossoms, and, eyes all add to the heavenly pattern of the menorah/tree being a symbol of resurrection and the power of the Holy Spirit. Moreover, the Hebrew word for tree, etz, is the same word for counsel, etzah. Thus, we find wise counselors like Abraham and Deborah near trees.

dsc_0701Messiah compares our ability to understand and discern His truth with four different types of soil receiving Seed[5], which are amazingly similar to the four-species waved at Sukkot. According to Yeshua, it is entirely possible to hear and see and not understand. Understanding is another Spirit of G-d, Binah.

Our good works and outward treatment of others is likened to fruit. Since we cannot possibly know the heart of another person, Yeshua reminds us that a tree is known by its fruit, for it reveals the seed from which it sprouted. (Mt. 12:33-37) YHWH even gave specific instructions for fruit trees in the Torah:

‘When you come into the land, and have planted all kinds of trees for food, then you shall count their fruit as uncircumcised. Three years it shall be as uncircumcised to you. It shall not be eaten. But in the fourth year all its fruit shall be holy, a praise to the LORD. And in the fifth year you may eat its fruit, that it may yield to you its increase: I am the LORD your God. (Lev. 19:23-25 NKJV)

Thus, discernment is key. For even if the fruit we see and taste came from good seed, it can still be uncircumcised and unfit for consumption in its sour immaturity. People are inherently connected with seeds, trees, and fruit. Hopefully, the tree we choose to partake of is the Tree of Life and not the one that simply makes one wise with the knowledge of good and evil. We must choose life.

The counterfeit tree is deceitful and its fruit enticing. Nebuchadnezzar had a dream of himself and his kingdom that YHWH equated to a mighty tree. (Dan. 4:10-16) Moreover, the wicked are planted in the earth like tree:

I have seen a wicked, violent man Spreading himself like a luxuriant tree in its native soil. (Ps. 37:35)

Israel is to be like the precious fruit trees that grow from the Seed of the Torah (Messiah) into a flourishing plant that gives sustenance and shade to others. Birds, like the sweet dove of the Holy Spirit, will nest in such branches. (Mt. 13:31-32) Notice the imagery and links between counsel, Torah, water, trees, leaves, and fruit that the psalmist uses in Psalm 1:

How blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked, Nor stand in the path of sinners, Nor sit in the seat of scoffers! But his delight is in the law of the LORD, And in His law he meditates day and night. He will be like a tree firmly planted by streams of water, Which yields its fruit in its season And its leaf does not wither; And in whatever he does, he prospers. The wicked are not so, But they are like chaff which the wind drives away. Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment, Nor sinners in the assembly of the righteous. For the LORD knows the way of the righteous, But the way of the wicked will perish. (Psalm 1)

In Romans 11, the Jewish people are called the holy, natural branches of an olive tree. Those of the nations are grafted into this tree and receive the same rich sap from its Root. Paul warns the grafted-in wild branches to not become arrogant against the natural branches, but rather to FEAR. Judah indeed holds a scepter of authority over the House of YHWH.[6] Not coincidently, the Hebrew word for scepter is shevet, the very name of this month (Shevat)![7] It also means a scion (graft), branch, rod, shepherd’s staff, and even a tribe.

In modern times, Jews have been planting trees in the land of Israel to honor righteous Gentiles such as Oscar Schindler and Corrie ten Boom, who helped save Jewish lives during the Holocaust.[8] These trees are planted in Jerusalem at the Holocaust museum in the Garden of the Righteous at Yad Vashem.

As you can see, the connections with people and trees are many. I have only briefly explored this concept. If nothing else, I hope you are inspired to research trees in Scripture during this season of transition. I pray that you bloom in the rich soil in which Adonai has planted you and that you continue to draw life giving nutrients from our Root, Yeshua.

Trees

By Joyce Kilmer

I think that I shall never see 
 A poem lovely as a tree. 
 A tree whose hungry mouth is prest 
 Against the earth's sweet flowing breast; 
 A tree that looks at God all day, 
 And lifts her leafy arms to pray; 
 A tree that may in summer wear 
 A nest of robins in her hair; 
 Upon whose bosom snow has lain; 
 Who intimately lives with rain. 
 Poems are made by fools like me, 
 But only God can make a tree.

 

Celebrating Tu B’Shevat

4-speciesHow can we make Tu B’Shevat meaningful? Consider some of the following activities:

  • Plant a tree! Or start some seeds for the spring.
  • Give the gift of fruit (or money) to the needy. Or volunteer to help feed or nurture them.
  • Study trees, tithing and/or the seven species of Israel in the Bible (Dt. 8:8)
  • Prepare a meal that includes various seeds, leaves, and fruit. Discuss with your family.
  • Take a walk or hike through forested land and thank the Creator for the mighty trees.
  • Recite Psalm 104.[9] Or the Psalms of Accent (120-134).
  • Host a Tu B’Shevat Seder. (Explained below.)

Intriguingly, the rabbis have developed a seder, complete with haggadah, to lead the family through the new year for trees, further linking Tu B’Shevat to Passover. Like the Passover haggadah, there many versions to choose from. A basic outline is as follows:

The service often begins by singing Psalm 133 or the “Hinei Ma Tov”. This song recalls our familial connections to Israel’s family TREE. During the ceremony, each participant will drink 4 cups of wine (or juice), starting with white wine, mixing increasing amounts of red wine with white, ending with a glass of red wine. YHWH is blessed before each cup by reciting Kiddush. These four cups symbolize the cycle of life in four seasons:

  • Pure White —represents the winter and the (seeming) void of life. It also symbolizes Day One of creation when divine light is separated from darkness.
  • Pale Pink (white with a few drops of red) —represents the approach of spring, and the splash of red signifies the emergence of color. It also symbolizes Day Two of creation when the earthly (red) and heavenly (white/fire) waters are separated from one another.
  • Dark Pink (a mixture of white and red) —represents the progression of spring. The ground has warmed to allow the seeds to take root, and the plants have started to grow. It also symbolizes Day Three when the waters (white) are gathered and dry land (red) appears with the life of seeds, trees, and fruit.
  • Pure Red —represents the arrival of summer. The trees are in full bloom and filled with fruit, ready for harvest. It also symbolizes Day Four when the sun, moon, and stars were given to govern our clocks and calendars to worship the King in proper seasons (moedim).

In between the cups of wine, participants eat a total of fifteen (or seven) types of nuts and fruits from three categories: fruits/nuts with shells, fruits with pits, and fruits edible inside and out. (Recall the Lulav and Etrog and the Parable of the Sower.) Each type of fruit represents a type of person and is intended to stimulate discussion around the table. The fourth element or fruit is spiritual and is not eaten. To represent the spiritual fourth fruit (Holy Spirit), the fragrance from cloves, cinnamon, rosemary or any other pleasant spice is inhaled by the participants. The entire seder is meant to increase awareness of Tu B’Shevat through nature, prayer, song, story, and dialogue.

The following links may be helpful in creating a meaningful Tu B’Shevat Seder.[10]

My jewish Learning

The Coalition on the Environment and Jewish Life (COEJL)

“My beloved responded and said to me, ‘Arise, my darling, my beautiful one, And come along. ‘For behold, the winter is past, The rain is over and gone. ‘The flowers have already appeared in the land; The time has arrived for pruning the vines, And the voice of the turtledove has been heard in our land. ‘The fig tree has ripened its figs, And the vines in blossom have given forth their fragrance. Arise, my darling, my beautiful one, And come along!'” (SOS 2:10-13 NASB)


[1] Rosh HaShana 2a: Chapter I, Mishnah. “There are four new years. On the first of Nissan is new year for kings and for festivals. On the first of Elul is new year for the tithe of cattle. R. Eleazar and R. Simeon, however, place this on the first of Tishri. On the first of Tishri is new year for years, for release and Jubilee years, for plantation and for [tithe of] vegetables. On the first of Shevat is new year for trees, according to the ruling of Beth Shammai; Beth Hillel, however, place it on the fifteenth of that month.”

[2] Shanah, the Hebrew word for year, is a feminine noun. It is one of the “rule breakers” in Hebrew grammar. In the plural, shanah takes the masculine ‘im ending rather than the usual feminine ‘ot.

[3] Lev. 19:23-25

[4] We use our feet to make cyclical pilgrimages to the mountain of YHWH in Jerusalem, hence they are called “foot-festivals.” Chag is also related to the circle dancing or whirling of worship.

[5] And He *said to them, “Do you not understand this parable? How will you understand all the parables? (Mark 4:13 NASB)

[6] Gen 49:10  “The scepter shall not depart from Judah, Nor the ruler’s staff from between his feet, Until Shiloh comes, And to him shall be the obedience of the peoples.

[7] H7626 שֵׁבֶט  shêveṭ  From an unused root probably meaning to branch off; a scion, that is, (literally) a stick (for punishing, writing, fighting, ruling, walking, etc.) or (figuratively) a clan: –  X correction, dart, rod, sceptre, staff, tribe.

[8] Moody, Valerie. The Feasts of Adonai: Why Christians Should Look at the Biblical Feasts. Lubbock, TX: Gibbora Productions, 2009. Print. p.143

[9] Psalm 104 is traditionally read on Rosh Chodesh (the new moon), but it’s filled with all the rich imagery we just explored.

[10] Linking to these sites does not suggest that I agree with all their content.

Categories: Biblical Symbols, Moedim | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Hezekiah’s Passover

The Strength of YHWH

The name Hezekiah comes from the root chazak which means “YHWH strengthens” or “The strength of YHWH”. You are probably familiar with this term if you follow the weekly Torah Portions. At the end of each book of Torah, there is a traditional chant that is recited. It is: be-strengthenedChazak, chazak v’nitchazek”, which means, “Be strong, be strong, and let us be strengthened”. What I hope to answer in this post is how King Hezekiah demonstrates YHWH’s chazak or strength in the Passover.

HezekiahPraying_JS_0015King Hezekiah was one of the few righteous kings to reign in the southern kingdom of Judah. You can read about this fascinating man in 2 Kings 18-20, Isaiah 36-39, and 2 Chronicles 29-32. Isaiah, Hosea, and Micah all prophesied during his reign. Hezekiah tore down the high places, destroyed the bronze serpent, rebelled against the king of Assyria, was miraculously restored to health, cleansed the Temple, and restored the observance of Passover. I’d love to explore all these aspects, but for the sake of space and time, we will focus on his restoration of Pesach (Passover).

Now it came about in the third year of Hoshea, the son of Elah king of Israel, that Hezekiah the son of Ahaz king of Judah became king. He was twenty-five years old when he became king, and he reigned twenty-nine years in Jerusalem; and his mother’s name was Abi the daughter of Zechariah. (2 Kings 18:1-2)

King Hezekiah was the son of wicked King Ahaz. (2 Kings 16) But he is also known by his mother, Abi or Abijah, the daughter of Zechariah. The Word of YHWH classifies people by their paternal lineage; while, maternal lineage is rarely given. Interestingly, several of the kings of Judah and Israel are identified by both their father and mother. King Hezekiah is one of them as you can see in the verses above.

Avi (Abi) means “my father” or “fatherly”. She is called Aviyah (Abijah) in 2 Chronicles 29:1, which has the similar meaning of “YHWH is my Father”. I find this fascinating since Hezekiah’s earthly father was wicked. It’s as if the text (in Hebrew) is hinting at his strong motherly role model, Avi. She was “like a father” to Hezekiah because she pointed him to our true heavenly Father, YHWH.

While Hezekiah was far from perfect (as we all are), he was a restorer and nurturer to all Israel. His invitation to Passover revealed a tender heart not just toward YHWH, but also toward his brothers and sisters. Instead of giving the wayward people a strict or harsh “fatherly” correction or direction, he opened his arms wide in gentleness and mercy, which are “motherly” traits. We can learn a thing or two from King Hezekiah about proper (Spirit-led) Passover observance.

If you’ve ever wondered or even speculated about the proper protocol in keeping YHWH’s Passover, King Hezekiah’s example must not be overlooked. I have witnessed too many people deny others the opportunity to participate in the Seder simply because the person in question fails to meet some perceived standard or expectation. While said “standard” might be based on Scripture, it is more often than not based on a private interpretation, tradition, or the preference of man — rather than on Spirit and Truth.

The following is a rather long quote, but its context sets the stage for Hezekiah’s Passover. I encourage you to read the entire passage.

Now Hezekiah sent to all Israel and Judah and wrote letters also to Ephraim and Manasseh, that they should come to the house of the LORD at Jerusalem to celebrate the Passover to the LORD God of Israel. For the king and his princes and all the assembly in Jerusalem had decided to celebrate the Passover in the second month, since they could not celebrate it at that time, because the priests had not consecrated themselves in sufficient numbers, nor had the people been gathered to Jerusalem. Thus the thing was right in the sight of the king and all the assembly.  

So they established a decree to circulate a proclamation throughout all Israel from Beersheba even to Dan, that they should come to celebrate the Passover to the LORD God of Israel at Jerusalem. For they had not celebrated it in great numbers as it was prescribed. The couriers went throughout all Israel and Judah with the letters from the hand of the king and his princes, even according to the command of the king, saying, “O sons of Israel, return to the LORD God of Abraham, Isaac and Israel, that He may return to those of you who escaped and are left from the hand of the kings of Assyria.

“Do not be like your fathers and your brothers, who were unfaithful to the LORD God of their fathers, so that He made them a horror, as you see. “Now do not stiffen your neck like your fathers, but yield to the LORD and enter His sanctuary, which He has consecrated forever, and serve the LORD your God, that His burning anger may turn away from you. “For if you return to the LORD, your brothers and your sons will find compassion before those who led them captive and will return to this land. For the LORD your God is gracious and compassionate, and will not turn His face away from you if you return to Him.” (2 Chron. 30:1-9 NASB)

King Hezekiah tried to unify the people by inviting ALL of the tribes to a Passover service in Jerusalem. In his letter to the people, Hezekiah urges Judah and Israel to return to YHWH and His true sanctuary. He reminds them of the great compassion and grace of YHWH. Oh, that we would have a heart like this for our brothers and sisters! Hezekiah knew that the people were nowhere near where they should be in regards to obedience; and yet, he still invited his brethren to this monumental meal of the covenant. You see, it was more important, a weightier matter if you will, that the people simply COME at his invitation. (Does this remind you of Yeshua?)

king-hezekiah-s-ancient-seal-has-been-found-in-construction-dump-siteSadly, many mocked the king and his messengers.

So the couriers passed from city to city through the country of Ephraim and Manasseh, and as far as Zebulun, but they laughed them to scorn and mocked them. Nevertheless some men of Asher, Manasseh and Zebulun humbled themselves and came to Jerusalem. The hand of God was also on Judah to give them one heart to do what the king and the princes commanded by the word of the LORD. (2 Chron. 30:10-12)

Many from the northern kingdom of Israel could not imagine joining themselves with the southern kingdom of Judah. After all, they had their own places of worship, priesthood, and calendar. Why would they heed to the call of brother Judah? Thankfully, the hearts of some were pricked and they “humbled themselves” and went to Jerusalem. Can this be compared to anything we see happening in our “movement” today? I believe so.

While it’s true that many (in the church) mock those of us that desire to return to the Old Ways, there are also those in OUR midst that scorn the House of Judah and their traditions. Many follow the way of the northern kingdom of Israel and set up on their own houses of worship in (a figurative) Dan and Bethel. They also create their own calendars and make priests from those that they find fit in their own eyes. (1 Kings 12:25-33) The pride that comes from this type of self-righteousness creates huge rifts between them and the Church and also between them and the Jewish people. Thus, you will hear them mocking either or both of these groups to scorn. Instead of mirroring the prideful hearts of Ephraim, Manasseh, and Zebulun in the above verses, let’s HUMBLE ourselves and come to the Passover with Judah.

Now many people were gathered at Jerusalem to celebrate the Feast of Unleavened Bread in the second month, a very large assembly. They arose and removed the altars which were in Jerusalem; they also removed all the incense altars and cast them into the brook Kidron. Then they slaughtered the Passover lambs on the fourteenth of the second month. And the priests and Levites were ashamed of themselves, and consecrated themselves and brought burnt offerings to the house of the LORD. They stood at their stations after their custom, according to the law of Moses the man of God; the priests sprinkled the blood which they received from the hand of the Levites. (2 Chron. 30:13-16)

Those that heeded the call of Hezekiah removed all of the false altars (high places –especially in their minds/hearts) from Jerusalem before sacrificing the Pesach lambs. They did this in the second month because the people had not gathered in the first month, nor had a sufficient amount of priests consecrated themselves to serve in the House of YHWH. The following verses explain the Torah regulations about observing Passover in the second month (Passover is so imperative that there is a “second chance” to celebrate it):

“Speak to the sons of Israel, saying, ‘If any one of you or of your generations becomes unclean because of a dead person, or is on a distant journey, he may, however, observe the Passover to the LORD. ‘In the second month on the fourteenth day at twilight, they shall observe it; they shall eat it with unleavened bread and bitter herbs. ‘They shall leave none of it until morning, nor break a bone of it; according to all the statute of the Passover they shall observe it. ‘But the man who is clean and is not on a journey, and yet neglects to observe the Passover, that person shall then be cut off from his people, for he did not present the offering of the LORD at its appointed time. That man will bear his sin. (Num. 9:10-13)

Adding to Torah? Compromisers?

Notice that neither the people nor the priests actually met the requirements for the second Passover. Those from the northern tribes had not been on a long “journey” and many obviously were unclean on account of death (dead bodies).

For there were many in the assembly who had not consecrated themselves; therefore, the Levites were over the slaughter of the Passover lambs for everyone who was unclean, in order to consecrate them to the LORD. For a multitude of the people, even many from Ephraim and Manasseh, Issachar and Zebulun, had not purified themselves, yet they ate the Passover otherwise than prescribed.

For Hezekiah prayed for them, saying, “May the good LORD pardon everyone who prepares his heart to seek God, the LORD God of his fathers, though not according to the purification rules of the sanctuary.” (2 Chron. 30:17-19)

King HezekiahWhat was the remedy for those that “ate the Passover otherwise than (Torah) prescribed”? Our tenderhearted King PRAYED for the people. You aren’t going to find a precedent for this in the Torah, and yet Hezekiah did so anyway. He was far more concerned that the people return to YHWH and keep the covenantal Passover meal than he was for strict observance. I don’t believe that Hezekiah was snubbing his nose at YHWH’s Word, nor do I believe that he was a compromiser. I also don’t believe that his actions were “adding to” the Torah. Yet sadly, many in our midst today would have accused Hezekiah of all of these things and more. What we should concern ourselves with is YHWH’s response:

So the LORD heard Hezekiah and healed the people. (2 Chron. 30:20)

Instead of acting by the strictest judgment of His Torah, YHWH extended mercy to the people. In other words, according to the Torah, the people deserved to be “cut off” from Israel and to bear the full weight of their sins. The wages of sin is death; and thus, the holy Torah would judge them as guilty. But YHWH heard Hezekiah’s heartfelt prayer and HEALED the people. He CHOSE to exercise mercy and compassion toward the people even while they reeked of death. This is the SPIRIT of the Torah.

In light of the Torah commandments of Passover and this very real example of a Passover restoration, how do you suppose that YHWH expects us to deal with those that desire to eat of the Passover “other than what is prescribed”? Do we judge them based on the strictest sense of the Law? Or do we extend mercy and compassion unto them and pray for healing and complete restoration? While it is clear what the Torah says, we also have a very real example of what YHWH Himself did for Hezekiah. I believe cases like this are written so that our sword of Spirit and Truth remains balanced. It is vital that we understand righteous judgment AND divine mercy. For our Elohim is both!

Those that have been forgiven much, love much. (Luke 7:36-50) Can you even imagine the immense joy that was experienced at Hezekiah’s Passover? Beloved, we CAN have this same zeal!

The sons of Israel present in Jerusalem celebrated the Feast of Unleavened Bread for seven days with great joy, and the Levites and the priests praised the LORD day after day with loud instruments to the LORD. Then Hezekiah spoke encouragingly to all the Levites who showed good insight in the things of the LORD. So they ate for the appointed seven days, sacrificing peace offerings and giving thanks to the LORD God of their fathers. (2 Chron. 30:21-22)

Adding Even More to the Torah?

The people were so overwhelmed with the joy that comes from forgiveness and unity that they decided to celebrate the feast of Passover (Unleavened Bread) for an additional seven days.

Then the whole assembly decided to celebrate the feast another seven days, so they celebrated the seven days with joy. For Hezekiah king of Judah had contributed to the assembly 1,000 bulls and 7,000 sheep, and the princes had contributed to the assembly 1,000 bulls and 10,000 sheep; and a large number of priests consecrated themselves. All the assembly of Judah rejoiced, with the priests and the Levites and all the assembly that came from Israel, both the sojourners who came from the land of Israel and those living in Judah. (2 Chron. 30:23-25)

It seems as though this story once again challenges us to find the Spirit of the Torah rather than the Letter. Both matter a great deal. The decision of the assembly to add an additional seven days to the feast of Unleavened Bread wasn’t frowned upon by the Almighty. Instead, we are told that their voices were heard in Heaven.

So there was great joy in Jerusalem, because there was nothing like this in Jerusalem since the days of Solomon the son of David, king of Israel. Then the Levitical priests arose and blessed the people; and their voice was heard and their prayer came to His holy dwelling place, to heaven. (2 Chron. 30:26-27)

Perfect Before Pesach?

As you can see, the priests and the people did not come to the Passover table perfect. They had sin that had to be dealt with and many other areas where improvement was needed. But, if we think back to the original Exodus, this shouldn’t surprise us. The children of Israel were in the same boat before YHWH brought them out of Egypt. In fact, we could say the same thing about us. If we lose sight of what the Pesach meal really represents and begin demanding that others be “perfect” in order to celebrate this memorial, we become the ones that are “adding to the Torah”. Yet, that’s what I see happening all over the place.

asherah-poleWhile the false altars were removed from Jerusalem before Hezekiah’s Passover, the rest of the cities in the kingdom (where most of them lived) were still inundated with idols. And even still, YHWH received the people. It wasn’t until AFTER they had celebrated Unleavened Bread for two weeks that the rest of the kingdom was cleaned up. (2 Chron. 31:1)

Passover is the gateway, the bloody door of the covenant. It is the beginning of “our beginning” with YHWH through Yeshua. We are immature at our first Passover. We still carry baggage and junk and possibly a lot of leavened crumbs that we must LEARN to identify and remove. This is a process and a practice. We don’t say the old adage “practice makes perfect” for no reason. We say it because it is TRUE.

Can you imagine demanding that a very beginner piano student play a perfect concerto? That’s ridiculous, yes? Well, so is demanding others to meet an expectation that they have no training for. There must be a starting point. On our Abba’s calendar, that place is Passover. He wants all the whosoever’s at His Table — even the immature little children (spiritual babies included).

This requires a great deal of humility and even more mercy and compassion from those that are older (spiritually). The stricter things can be learned as they mature in the Torah. For now, go and make disciples of all nations. Be patient with those that want to sit at the feet of the Master. Give them a safe place to study, grow, and wrestle with the Word. If they fall down as they are learning to walk (Torah), don’t write them off, pick them up and offer a helping hand!

This is real godly “chazak” or strength. This is where Hezekiah excelled in the Spirit of Adonai. He strengthened his brothers and their unity. He reverted Jerusalem back into a safe womb where life could grow and mature.

The entire purpose of the Passover is to TEACH the CHILDREN, so go and do so!

 

Chag Sameach Passover!

 


 

Categories: Moedim | Tags: , , , , , , , | 13 Comments

The Four Cups of Passover

Beloved, Pesach has been on my mind for a while now. I’ve started a few posts about this most important moed. Hopefully, I will find the time to finish them all before it arrives this year. Here is my first installment. I haven’t forgotten other promised posts. They are also in the works, but I am in a very busy season of life at the moment. I hope you’ll continue to have patience with my limited articles. 🙂 

 

Four_Cups_-_VideoA few of years ago, I revised our family Haggadah with a special emphasis on revealing the Messiah. While I prefer a more traditional Haggadah and feel it amply reveals Messiah, it’s not about me. (Imagine that, lol!) My mother suggested this format for those new to keeping the Moedim (feasts). And I completely agree with her. If we truly want to “love our neighbor”, we must consider where others are at on the journey. How we handle these “little children” is a direct reflection of our own hearts.

I’ve met some Torah keepers that refuse to allow certain people to “eat of their Passover.”[1] While I understand Torah commandments regarding this vital festival, I wonder if we are using just weights and equal measures when we make a judgment that refuses their participation. Will we deny the little children to enter the Kingdom? Do we have the “authority” to deny them?

Mat. 18:1-6 At that time the disciples came to Jesus and said, “Who then is greatest in the kingdom of heaven?” (2) And He called a child to Himself and set him before them, (3) and said, “Truly I say to you, unless you are converted and become like children, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven. (4) “Whoever then humbles himself as this child, he is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. (5) “And whoever receives one such child in My name receives Me; (6) but whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in Me to stumble, it would be better for him to have a heavy millstone hung around his neck, and to be drowned in the depth of the sea.

It seems to me that many of us “seasoned” in the festivals have forgotten our first love and that that love “covers a multitude of sins[2]. Our zeal to do what is “right” in our own eyes or to follow our own interpretations becomes a block of stumbling. We smugly begin to think we are the ones that are greater in the Kingdom because we are doing things more accurate or holy. We believe we have the right calendar or the right tradition. We become the focus of the parable above, refusing to humble ourselves, which is in essence, us rejecting the children. We shoot our own foot with our so called “rightness”. When will we realize that this is nothing more than SELF-righteousness? This must turn the stomach of our loving Elohim.

The Father has really been speaking to me through the four traditional cups we drink at the Passover Seder. Oddly (especially since I’m Creation Gospel trainer[3]), I had not previously meditated on the fact that the Passover meal centers around FOUR.[4] The number four in Hebrew is the letter “dalet”. It is a picture of a door (delet). Passover is YHWH’s appointed time or moed that commemorates the Israelites applying the blood of a lamb to the lintels and doorposts of their homes. Without this act of obedience through faith, the death angel would have smitten Israel’s firstborn sons along with the Egyptians during the tenth plague. Moreover, Yeshua declared Himself the door. Consider the context of the following verses. Those familiar with Pesach will receive His intent immediately.

I am the door; if anyone enters through Me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture. “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly. (John 10:9-10)

All those in covenant with YHWH must, by faith, apply the Lamb’s blood to their doorposts (hearts). There has always only been one Way to the Father. Passover is our entry into the covenant with YHWH.[5] Outside the covenant (door), the enemy seeks our destruction. We see this pictured with Cain[6] (sin crouches at the door) and with the death angel in Egypt passing over those homes with the blood of the Lamb.

Pesach is that first inkling of raw wisdom (light) that draws us unto the Father. It is realizing the depth of our depravity and our desperate need for a Savior. It is not as mature as Shavuot (Pentecost) or Sukkot (Tabernacles). But, it is still the entry point. It is accepting the Messiah and the Covenant. Understanding and deep Knowledge comes later and with maturity — as we journey through wilderness with YHWH. Again, will we deny the less mature babes from entering in?

When they had arrived and gathered the assembly together, they began to report all things that God had done with them and how He had opened a door of faith to the Gentiles. (Acts 14:27)

For I do not wish to see you now just in passing; for I hope to remain with you for some time, if the Lord permits. But I will remain in Ephesus until Pentecost; for a wide door for effective service has opened to me, and there are many adversaries. (1Cor. 16:7-9)

There are real adversaries outside the “door”. The last thing we would desire is to become an enemy to those trying to enter this DOOR! I’m afraid that some of us have (unintentionally) become an adversary to the immature children trying to enter. We must repent of this great tragedy! A wide door of effective service is open to us and the myriads that are loved by the Father. We have no right to be an enemy by standing in front of the door and blocking those that desire to enter. Perhaps we do not properly understand righteous judgment. If we have received mercy, we should also extend mercy – which we will examine further in the fourth cup.


passover_sederFour Cups

Those of you familiar with Dr. Alewine’s Creation Gospel[7] model are aware that the number four is also a picture of seven or fullness. It also speaks to authority, government, and servanthood. All these belong to Messiah Yeshua. He truly is the Door to Life. Passover may be the entry to the Covenant, but it is also a picture of our complete redemption to come. The four cups of Passover mirror this truth in a profound way. They are based on this passage from Exodus:

Ex. 6:6-7 “Say, therefore, to the sons of Israel, ‘I am the LORD, and I will bring you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians, and I will deliver you from their bondage. I will also redeem you with an outstretched arm and with great judgments. (7) ‘Then I will take you for My people, and I will be your God; and you shall know that I am the LORD your God, who brought you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians.

The four cups are called by different names depending on the Haggadah you are using. Don’t let this confuse you. It is very difficult to encapsulate the full meaning of each cup with one English word. Therefore, it is fitting that we embrace the various names used for each one and seek to understand how they harmonize or complete the “picture” of the promises given to us in Exodus.

  1. The Cup of Sanctification —- “I will bring you out”
  2. The Cup of Deliverance/Plagues/Judgment —- “I will deliver you”
  3. The Cup of Redemption/Blessing —- “I will redeem you”
  4. The Cup of Praise/Hope/Kingdom/Salvation/Restoration —- “I will take you for My people”

We will look at each cup and explore its implications for the people of YHWH.

 

The Cup of Sanctification

“I will bring you out.” Ex. 6:6

All of us are lost sinners before coming to saving faith. We are in utter darkness. We are like dead men walking toward our ultimate demise. In other words, we are in complete bondage to sin and death. There is no escape. Enter in YHWH. Despite our circumstances and even our multiple transgressions, the Creator of Heaven and Earth loves His Creation. He loves YOU. Therefore, with a Mighty Hand, He separates us from the bondage of sin and death. We simply must believe His promise and apply the blood to our doorposts by faith. He alone sets us apart from the clutches of “Pharaoh” so that we may serve Him.[8]

The Sarajevo Haggadah 14th century

The Sarajevo Haggadah 14th century

When we are enslaved to sin and death, we cannot serve or worship YHWH in the manner He prescribes. Logically, the first step is for Him to call or bring us out of our depravity. This is the symbolism of the first cup, sanctification. You have been set apart, called out, and marked as one of His children. Passover is the moed (feast) that demonstrates this reality in process, deed, and ritual.

How this is accomplished by the Father is also abundantly clear; it is by the blood of the Pascal Lamb. This has been the process from the very beginning. Salvation has always come by believing (faith in action) in the promises of God.

When we look back on the original Passover, we can liken this cup to our salvation from the harsh bondage of Egypt or Pharaoh. Like the Israelites, we may still be in Egypt or the world at this point, but the plagues placed on our evil taskmasters have lessened our hardships considerably. We await deliverance.

 

The Cup of Deliverance

“I will deliver you.” Ex. 6:6

The second cup is based on YHWH’s promise to deliver us. How is this different from the first cup, “bringing us out”? Being called out and separated is only the beginning of the redemption process. Once we are separated unto the Father, we are still in great need of rescue. The trappings of Egypt are many. These bondages have many forms with very tight shackles. Like Pharaoh, they do not want to let us go! While some of these trappings are external, many are internal. Our time in Egypt (the world) has created a lot of soul ties. Our nephesh or flesh likes many of the delicacies in which it has grown accustomed.

So, while deliverance is always available to those brought out of Egypt, many refuse this cup or fail to drink it in its entirety. Like it or not, we all have a few “pet” sins. Our Abba desires for us to give these over to Him, so that we may have life more abundantly. He knows full well how these “shackles” limit us and His purposes for our lives. I believe this particular cup is one that we must drink again and again to fully reveal some of these “hidden” sins that seek more importance in our lives than YHWH (which is idolatry).

passover 2The good news is that no matter the issue —- deliverance IS available. It’s never too late and we are never too old to experience this sweet release. When Israel was “delivered” from the burdens of the Egyptians, it was so that they could fully worship YHWH as He intends. Therefore, anything that hinders us from being able to worship Him in fullness can be likened to one of these “burdens” — whether they are external or internal. The point is to keep seeking for and to receive what is already ours.

We can compare this cup to YHWH delivering an entire nation from the clutches of Pharaoh. Though he chased them with great haste and with many chariots, the mighty pillar of cloud by day and the pillar of fire by night would not allow the Egyptians to touch even one hair on the heads of the Israelites.

 

The Cup of Redemption

“I will redeem you.” Ex. 6:6

The third cup is often called redemption or blessing. YHWH buys back or redeems His people from the realm of sin and death. At the first Passover, the blood of the Lamb saved the lives of the Israelites. But with Pharaoh and Egypt closing in, many were sure that YHWH brought them into the desert to die. If we are honest, sometimes we feel the same way. Are you still there, Abba? Things are looking pretty bad down here! I am about to be swallowed up by the enemy! At this point, Israel would be standing in front of the Reed (Red) Sea. People that have known nothing but bondage their whole lives often believe the worst in hard circumstances. It takes intent and time to change our attitudes from victim to victor. Consider Israel’s words as they stood near the Reed Sea:

Ex. 14:11=12 Then they said to Moses, “Is it because there were no graves in Egypt that you have taken us away to die in the wilderness? Why have you dealt with us in this way, bringing us out of Egypt? “Is this not the word that we spoke to you in Egypt, saying, ‘Leave us alone that we may serve the Egyptians’? For it would have been better for us to serve the Egyptians than to die in the wilderness.”

From the Israelite’s unredeemed natural eyes, their circumstances appeared to be hopeless. Even though they experienced the miracle of the plagues and the pillar of cloud and fire, they still weren’t convinced that God would actually save them. In fact, it probably felt as if He led them into a horrible trap (G-d Forbid)! But that was far from the true intent of our loving Elohim. Instead, He wanted the people (and us) to be completely confident in His saving power and in His great affection toward them (us). The very next verse says:

red seaEx. 14:13-14 But Moses said to the people, “Do not fear! Stand by and see the salvation of the LORD which He will accomplish for you today; for the Egyptians whom you have seen today, you will never see them again forever. “The LORD will fight for you while you keep silent.”

Moses tells the people to stand still and see the salvation, that is the YESHUA, of YHWH. Abba’s salvation, His Yeshua, will accomplish our complete redemption from Egypt! YHWH will fight for us, while we shut our doubting mouths.

The cup of blessing that we bless, is it not a partaking of the blood of Messiah? The bread which we break, is it not a partaking of the body of Messiah? (1Cor. 10:16 HRB)

When the mighty sea splits before us and we walk across on dry ground, we can no longer doubt who the One True God of heaven and earth is. The waters figuratively wash the dust from Egypt off of our weary souls and baptize us in Moses and Yeshua.

Rev. 15:2-4 And I saw something like a sea of glass mixed with fire, and those who had been victorious over the beast and his image and the number of his name, standing on the sea of glass, holding harps of God. And they *sang the song of Moses, the bond-servant of God, and the song of the Lamb, saying, “Great and marvelous are Your works, O Lord God, the Almighty; Righteous and true are Your ways, King of the nations! “Who will not fear, O Lord, and glorify Your name? For You alone are holy; For ALL THE NATIONS WILL COME AND WORSHIP BEFORE YOU, FOR YOUR RIGHTEOUS ACTS HAVE BEEN REVEALED.”

Eventually, this brings us to becoming One stick and One body — a fully redeemed nation in the fourth cup of fullness.

Mar. 14:23-26 And when He had taken a cup and given thanks, He gave it to them, and they all drank from it. (24) And He said to them, “This is My blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many. (25) “Truly I say to you, I will never again drink of the fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it new in the kingdom of God.” (26) After singing a hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives.

 

The Cup of Praise

“I will take you for My people.” Ex. 6:7

The fourth and final cup is a picture of restoration and completeness. This is one reason it is sometimes called the cup of hope, acceptance, or salvation. I prefer its more common name, hallel or praise. Though the Passover is the beginning of YHWH’s moedim (feasts) cycle, in it He declares the end.[9] God’s desire has always been to restore us (deal with our sin) and then dwell with us for eternity.

Thus, with the fourth cup, we await the coming Kingdom of Heaven where Yeshua will be our King. Though we partake of this cup in our rehearsal of His return, Yeshua will not drink it again until we see Him in the Kingdom. I imagine that when He does partake, it will be one glorious event!

Mat. 26:29 “But I say to you, I will not drink of this fruit of the vine from now on until that day when I drink it new with you in My Father’s kingdom.”

Wine can be a symbol of judgment or blessing and kindness.[10] A “cup” can denote the same imagery. Passover weaves both of these themes together seamlessly. Sin and wickedness must be judged. There is a false bread and a false wine that competes with Adonai’s covenant Passover meal. Like the righteous woman and the harlot, both call and ask us to rest in their presence.

Pr. 4:17 For they eat the bread of wickedness And drink the wine of violence.

Obviously, the harlot feeds us false bread and wine, which is in reality a covenant of wickedness. The problem is that our nephesh or flesh craves the (spiritual) false bread and wine just as we often prefer processed junk rather than the healthy plants and animals that Abba meant for us to consume.

Nephesh (flesh) fears judgment because it knows that what it likes isn’t healthy or holy. Like the Israelites, we fear that YHWH won’t keep His promise to “bring us out”, “deliver us”, “redeem us”, and “make us His people”. Many feel as though they will get lost in the shuffle of the four cups. But YHWH is faithful, even when we are not![11]

1Th. 5:23-24 Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you entirely; and may your spirit and soul and body be preserved complete, without blame at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. Faithful is He who calls you, and He also will bring it to pass.

Though Passover is certainly the season for us to thoroughly examine ourselves and root out all chametz (sin), it is also a time to remember these four grand promises of YHWH! His Word will not return to Him void. I think many of us fear that instead of blessing, YHWH will only rain down judgment on our heads. For we know that we are not worthy. And we know that there is a lot that we still don’t know!

Is. 55:11-12 So shall My word be that goes forth from My mouth; It shall not return to Me void, But it shall accomplish what I please, And it shall prosper in the thing for which I sent it. “For you shall go out with joy, And be led out with peace; The mountains and the hills Shall break forth into singing before you, And all the trees of the field shall clap their hands.

chesed_etymologyPsalm 136 is generally recited or sang before partaking of the fourth cup. This Psalm recounts the fact that YHWH’s mercy/lovingkindness/grace endures forever. This is good news for each of us. The Hebrew word repeated over and over in this Psalm is chesed (חֶסֶד). Abba’s chesed endures forever. Chesed cannot be encapsulated by just one English word. In fact, it would take a book or many volumes to fully realize the depth of what chesed actually means.

To put it as succinctly as possible, chesed is a covenantal term that encompasses both love and loyalty. God has chesed toward us and hopefully, we have chesed toward Him and our neighbor. My acceptance of His chesed requires that I give it back to Him and to others. The Theological Workbook of the Old Testament says this under chesed:

“God’s loving-kindness is that sure love which will not let Israel go. Not all Israel’s persistent waywardness could ever destroy it. Though Israel be faithless, yet God remains faithful still. This steady, persistent refusal of God to wash his hands of wayward Israel is the essential meaning of the Hebrew word which is translated loving-kindness.”

The wonderment of God’s immense chesed toward us may cause us to question His righteous judgment. How do mercy and judgment coexist? Which one is stronger? Obviously, we do not deserve the chesed or loving-kindness of God. The Bible is full of examples of a wayward stiff-necked Israel. We are no different. Like them, we most often refuse to walk in His Ways. In other words, we all deserve judgment, destruction, and death.

Knowing this, most of us have an unhealthy fear of the coming worldwide judgment, life circumstances in general, and of what God is going to do with our “loved” ones. But this type of thinking is fear based. It is not rooted in chesed or true love. All of our worries, anxieties, and fears come forth from a skewed view of the Creator. He is no tyrant, dictator, or sadist. He is LOVE.

I believe John really tried to help us understand this. Years ago, while suffering from anxiety attacks, I used to quote 1 John 4:18 over and over. I didn’t understand what it actually meant until this past year. Studying chesed has helped me in that endeavor. Carefully read John’s words: (Actually, I’d read them again and again!)

1Jn. 4:16-19 We have come to know and have believed the love which God has for us. God is love, and the one who abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him. By this, love is perfected with us, so that we may have confidence in the Day of Judgment; because as He is, so also are we in this world. (18) There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves punishment, and the one who fears is not perfected in love. We love, because He first loved us.

Notice what John says above. FEAR has to do with punishment. When we only fear punishment, our love is NOT perfected. In other words, if we fail to grasp how deep and wide the love that God has for us really is — we will fear. We will worry. We will believe that YHWH is ready to strike us down at our very next breath. But LOVE, that is His chesed, is stronger than the judgment we all deserve. John tells us all of this, so that we can have confidence in the Day of Judgment (the end).

YHWH is certainly a holy and righteous Elohim, but His love for His people is greater still. Rashi said that God gave ‘precedence to the rule of mercy’ and joined it ‘with the rule of justice.’ God’s judgment and His mercy is an enigma to our peon minds and hearts. Which shall we receive? Passover is the perfect time to ponder this question. The cups reveal the answer. Within each, wickedness is judged and yet mercy prevails. The paradox may twist our brains, but hopefully it causes your heart to rejoice.

YHWH will NEVER give up on you, me, our loved ones, or any one else. NEVER. His chesed is incomprehensible. Because of His chesed, Yeshua is still waiting to drink the final cup with you and me and them (everyone else). His love NEVER fails, it NEVER gives up, and NEVER runs out on you or me. This is chesed. This is Love. This is Covenant. This is Passover.

May your Cup of Praise runneth over this Pesach and always.

 

For more on Pesach, click here.

 


 

[1] They are referring to those still in the “church” or those that may not be as “Torah observant” as themselves. There are direct and clear commandments that admonish us to not eat (the Passover) with those that are practicing blatant and willful sin. However, we must remember that there is always a sacrifice for sin committed in ignorance. If YHWH provides a sacrifice for them, we should also. Those that DO know better and yet persist in their sin, Paul has the correct course to take: But now I have written unto you not to keep company, if any man that is called a brother be a fornicator, or covetous, or an idolater, or a railer, or a drunkard, or an extortioner; with such an one no not to eat. (1Cor. 5:11 KJV)

[2] 1 Peter 4:8

[3] Please refer to Dr. Hollisa Alewine’s work in the Creation Gospel workbooks. These thematic studies will forever change your worldview of the Scriptures. Your understanding of the “bigger picture” will come into sharp focus by learning about the Seven Spirits of God and how they operate in both the physical and spiritual realms. Thecreationgospel.com

[4] For example, there are FOUR sons (or children) that ask FOUR questions, three matzot (unleavened bread) become FOUR with the breaking of the middle cracker, YHWH uses FOUR expressions to describe our redemption from Egypt, which is mirrored in the FOUR cups of wine.

[5] Whether they realize it or not, when a Christian accepts Yeshua as their Lord and Savior and repents of their sins, they are in effect applying the Passover Lamb’s blood to their “doorposts”.

[6] “If you do well, will not your countenance be lifted up? And if you do not do well, sin is crouching at the door; and its desire is for you, but you must master it.” (Gen. 4:7)

[7] Thecreationgospel.com

[8] The famous “Let my people go” phrase is always followed by YHWH’s intent: “so that they might serve me”. Ex. 7:16; 8:1,20; 9:1, 13; etc.

[9] Is. 46:9-10 “Remember the former things long past, For I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is no one like Me, Declaring the end from the beginning, And from ancient times things which have not been done, Saying, ‘My purpose will be established, And I will accomplish all My good pleasure‘.

[10] Ps. 75:7-8 But God is the Judge; He puts down one and exalts another. For a cup is in the hand of the LORD, and the wine foams; It is well mixed, and He pours out of this; Surely all the wicked of the earth must drain and drink down its dregs.

Pr. 3:9-10 Honor the LORD from your wealth And from the first of all your produce; So your barns will be filled with plenty And your vats will overflow with new wine.

[11] 2Ti 2:11-13 It is a trustworthy statement: For if we died with Him, we will also live with Him; If we endure, we will also reign with Him; If we deny Him, He also will deny us; If we are faithless, He remains faithful, for He cannot deny Himself.

 

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