by Harold Smith
from Jerusalem, Israel
Pesach (or Passover) is celebrated here in the Land of Israel with an excitement that is truly remarkable to experience. From the balcony overlooking the hillside upon which this settlement is built, the songs being sung from other homes nearby by the men, women and children of this Land wafted up from every corner of the canyon floor, swirling past my ears with an unabashed exuberance as they made their way heavenward - a sweet smelling scent in the nostrils of the Lord. Quietly secluded from above offered a vantage point to be able to view the events taking place on the portico below of another small group as they suddenly arose from the table where they had been eating. Singing joyously loud they locked arms, hands to shoulders, and proceeded to dance with abandon to the music they voiced, extolling this God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. It was a moment that personified the Spirit resonating throughout this wonderful Land of our inheritance.
Pesach is the first day of the week-long Feast of Unleavened Bread (Leviticus 23:6), and commemorates the time when the Israelites left Egypt under the mighty hand of power of this One True God to cross the Red Sea, redeemed from the yoke of bondage to walk in freedom. The bread they took with them was not puffed up, it was baked without yeast - it was unleavened. There simply was not time, in their haste to leave, to allow the bread to rise. For days preceding the Pesach Seder (Passover meal), in remembrance of this time of deliverance, the stores quit selling bread and every crumb of leaven is swept from and thrown out of the houses. The Feast of Firstfruits, a celebration of the first fruits of the barley harvest, begins the day following Pesach (the 17th of Nisan - Leviticus 23:10-11), and is the first day of the "Counting of the Omer" - the forty-nine days leading up to the Feast of Shavuot (Pentecost) on the fiftieth day.
Prior to this Exodus from bondage, on the 14th day of Nisan (Hebrew calendar - Exodus 12:12-14), the blood of a sacrificial lamb is spread on the doorposts of God's People who were languishing in slavery in Egypt and it brought salvation as the Lord that passed overhead. It is the eve of the Passover and in the Exodus that follows, God's covenant people are delivered from that bondage and out of Egypt. 50 days later, from the day the Firstfruits of the barley harvest was waved before the Lord, Rabbis believe this was the earthshaking day of Shavuot (Pentecost) where God visited His people and brought them His Law written in stone. Answering positively when asked if they would make a personal and collective covenant (betrothal) with YHVH caused their birth as the nation of Israel. (Exodus 19:5-8),
On the 14th day of Nisan in 32 A.D., on the eve of Passover, Y'shua is crucified. The blood of the promised Sacrifice Lamb is shed once and for all. Once again, this is the redemption God has provided to bring salvation to all of His covenant people, delivering those who would spread it on the doorposts of their life from the bondage of sin and death. 50 days later, from the day the Firstfruits of the barley harvest was waved before the Lord, God visits His people with another earthshaking day of covenant (betrothal) visitation on Pentecost (Greek for 'fiftieth day' - Shavuot) fulfilling the prophecy of Joel 2:28-32 by making His abode in the hearts of his covenant people, thus birthing the Commonwealth of Israel, the Body (nation) of Christ.
Leaven in the scriptures symbolizes wickedness. Y'shua is the unleavened sinless Bread of Life. His body, broken and humbled on the cross, was offered as the pure, unblemished sacrificial Passover Lamb required for our redemption. He died at the very hour that the Passover lambs were being ritualistically slaughtered. He was buried just as the eve of the Feast of Unleavened Bread approached. He was in the grave for the 15th of Nisan according to the scriptures, the first day of the Feast, and He was resurrected on the day of Firstfruits. Thus, by His death and resurrection, Jesus Christ/Y'shua HaMashiach fulfilled the Feast of Unleavened Bread, became our Passover Lamb and the First Fruit of many brethren to walk in the Way of His Atonement for sin. (Romans 8:29).
So, what, actually, is the leaven we are admonished to remove from our "house", our spirit, since we have now become the dwelling place of the Most High - the temple where the Sacrifice resides? What is the leaven of malice and wickedness? (1Corinthians 5:6-8).
Job 1:6-12 is a very telling verse of scripture for it shows us that Satan has access to the Presence of the Lord through the sons of God - that's us. Ephesians 4:27 admonishes us to not "�give place to the devil." When we allow animosity toward another brother to provoke us to accusation, we are giving place to the enemy to dwell among us, bringing all kinds of darkness into the Body of Christ. We are the Body of Christ, the Holy Temple of God, housing the very Presence of God. When we accuse one another, we allow the enemy entrance before the Throne of the Lord Most High and, thus, we defile the entire Body of Christ. (James 3:5-6 and 14-16).
Acts 5:1-16 tells us of the awesome power of God manifest among the believers in Jerusalem after the Day of Pentecost because they were of "one accord" to not allow the power of the tongue to produce discord, disharmony and disunion through accusation among them. The apostle Paul said to the church at Corinth that because "they did not (properly) discern the Lord's Body" many were sick and dying among them. (1Corinthians 11:28-30).
The korban Pesach - Passover offering - referred to in Exodus 12:3 is the essence of the annual Passover re-enactment of the Jewish liberation from Egypt, not merely symbolically, but in the very act of performing the commandment. For too long the nation of Israel has been bereft of the korban Pesach, and, of course, of the very place where that public offering is to be performed: the Holy Temple. This year, for the first time in nearly two thousand years, the Temple Institute led a day long symposium in Jerusalem, overlooking the Temple Mount, in which, not only were practical issues concerning the renewal of the Passover offering discussed by leading Rabbis, but a one year old, flawless lamb was ritually prepared, slaughtered and tended to according to halachah (Jewish law), and the specific instructions concerning how such an offering would be made at the Holy Temple. Although this event was only for instructional purposes as the nation of Israel readies itself for the renewal of the Passover offering, and was not an actual offering, (and although the meat was distributed to needy families), the controversy that it raised in Israel clearly reminded us that liberation from the narrow straits of the politically correct, post modern society in which we live, is no less urgent to us today than it was those many years ago, when an entire nation made known its trust in God. From The Temple Institute newsletter www.templeinstitute.org.
We are living in the most incredible time of all time. All of creation is groaning in anticipation of the manifestation of the sons of God in this earthly realm (Romans 8:19-22) - waiting for us to choose to come into agreement, into one accord, to not provide a place for the enemy to divide us, thereby diminishing and diluting the power that raised Christ from the grave. That Power resides within us waiting for us to manifest it to the world. (Romans 8:11)
This next scripture from the book of Revelation is a prophecy of things to come - it has NOT happened yet. When we become determined to not allow the accuser a place in our hearts (heaven) for our mouths to speak (Matthew 12:34) we will then rid the kingdom of the enemy among us and begin to prepare a place for the coming of the Lord in our midst.
"And war broke out in heaven: Michael and his angels fought with the dragon; and the dragon and his angels fought, but they did not prevail, nor was a place found for them in heaven any longer. (Luke 17:20-21) So the great dragon was cast out, that serpent of old, called the Devil and Satan, who deceives the whole world; he was cast to the earth, and his angels were cast out with him. Then I heard a loud voice saying in heaven, 'Now salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of His Christ have come, for the accuser of our brethren, who accused them before our God day and night, has been cast down'. And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, and they did not love their lives to the death. Therefore, rejoice O heavens, and you who dwell in them! Woe to the inhabitants of the earth and the sea! For the devil has come down to you, having great wrath, because he knows that he has a short time." Revelation 12:7-12