Get rid of the old yeast that you may be a new batch without yeast–as you really
are. For Christ, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed. Therefore let us keep the Festival,
not with the old yeast, the yeast of malice and wickedness, but with bread made
without yeast, the bread of sincerity and truth.
1 Corinthians 5:7,8
The Old Covenant Feasts Prefigure Specific Aspects of the Christian Life
?When you enter the land that the Lord will give you as he promised, observe
this ceremony. And when your children ask you, ?What does this ceremony mean to you??
then tell them, ?It is the Passover sacrifice to our LORD who passed over the
houses of the Israelites in Egypt and spared our homes when he struck down the
Egyptians.?? (Exodus 12:26,27). With these and other words, God commanded his people,
through Moses, to celebrate the Passover. The Passover is a reminder of the night that
the destroying angel passed through Egypt to kill the firstborn in every household.
The firstborn of Israel were saved from death through the blood of a lamb, sprinkled
on the wooden beam over their doors. The angel ?passed over? these houses.
?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.? I
n 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). With these and other words, God commanded spiritual Isra
el, through Paul, to celebrate the Lord?s Supper. The Lord?s Supper is a reminder of
the death of the Lamb of God, Jesus Christ, whose blood was poured out over
a wooden beam in order to save those under the New Covenant. The Passover was given
by God to Abraham?s physical descendants as a remembrance of their salvation
from physical death, while the Lord?s Supper was given by God to Abraham?s spiritual
descendents as a remembrance of their salvation from spiritual death.
Is the parallel an accident? Consider the fact that when Jesus instituted the Lord?s Supper,
he and his apostles were celebrating the Passover meal. Both the Passover meal and
the Lord?s Supper include unleavened bread and wine. The death of Jesus on the cross
occurred on the same day that the Jews celebrated the Passover. As with the type, so
with the antitype. On the night Jesus was betrayed, he knew exactly what was happening. He had
already said to his followers that he had come, not to abolish the law, but
to fulfill it. He was about to show the truth of this claim one more time. Once again
, we see God using an event in the history of his chosen people as a prefigure
of a key aspect of the New Covenant. God had planned all along to make the death of
Jesus be an antitype to the death of the Passover lamb which had occurred over
fourteen centuries earlier. He also planned from the very beginning to make the Passover
feast and the Lord?s Supper a type/antitype pair.
When one reads the Old Testament, and especially the book of Leviticus, it is
hard to miss the fact that God instituted a great number of ceremonies, festivals
and feasts. These feasts were given by God to his people with two general purposes
in mind. Some of the feasts were intended to help Israel to remember specific events
in their past (or in one case, in their future) which could cause them to understand
and remember how much they needed to rely on him. The others were intended, not
to remember any one specific event, but to cause them to remember the blessings
they had in a relationship with him. We will see that the antitypes to these feasts
in the New Testament have the same purpose.
There are seven major feasts instituted in the book of Leviticus. All seven are described
in some detail in Leviticus chapter twenty-three. In addition, more information and commandments
related to these feasts are scattered throughout Leviticus, as well as in Exodus,
Numbers, Deuteronomy and elsewhere. The seven feasts can be separated into two
categories. There were the five one-day feasts. These were the Passover, the Feast of Firstfruits,
the Feast of Weeks (also known as the Feast of Pentecost), the Feast of trumpets
(the Jewish New Year feast) and the Day of Atonement. Each of these feasts, as alluded
to above, was intended to remind Israel of a specific event in the life of the
nation Israel and its relationship with God. It will be shown in this chapter that
each of the five one-day feasts are types of specific days/events in the life
of an individual Christian which God wants us to be reminded of as well.
The other two feasts could perhaps better be described as festivals, as they
occurred over a seven day period. These were the Feast of Unleavened bread, a seven
day period of communal worship which was preceeded by the Passover. The Feast of First
Fruits was celebrated on the second day of Unleavened Bread as well. The second
week-long festival was the Feast of Tabernacles (also known as the Feast of
Booths). The Day of Atonement fell on a date five days before the Feast of Tabernacles. Both of
the week-long festivals were intended by God to be reminders of the nature of
their relationship with him. Of course, their antitypes in the New Covenant will
serve the same purpose, as will be shown.
Other prescribed festivals of the Jews bear mentioning in this context as well.
?There was the weekly day of rest, the Sabbath, which was already described
in detail as a type in an earlier chapter. There were also the monthly New Moon festivals.
In the earliest times, these were celebrated on the day following the first
appearance of a new moon in the sky. Later, the Jews prepared a calendar years
in advance, including designated New Moon days based on astronomical calculations. This
?allowed the Jews to prepare ahead of time for these festivals. The dates of all seven
Jewish festivals were set based on the timing of the New Moons. This will be discussed
in a little more detail in this chapter. In addition, the Jews had their Sabbath years
and Jubilee years, as mentioned previously.
Lastly, one could mention two additional feasts celebrated by most Jews which
were instituted after Sinai, and which therefore are not mentioned in the Pentateuch.
?These are the Feast of Purim and the Feast of Hannukah. The Feast of Purim is a three
day festival established to remember the salvation of the Jews from their persecutors
during the time of Esther (Esther 9:26-32). Hanukkah (or Chanukkah) is an eight
day festival which was created by the Jews in the second century BC to commemorate
the reconsecration of the Temple after the horrible persecutions and desecration
under Antiochus Epiphanes in 167-164 BC.
There is one obvious teaching one can gleam from all these feasts and festivals. If one
?can assume that they were all given by God to his people, then it becomes clear
that it is very important fo
r those who are in a relationship with God to spend
time remembering the specific blessings he has given them. The importance of remembering
the blessings of God is stressed again and again in the Old Testament. For example, consider
Deuteronomy 8:10-19. This is an extended quote, but it has a powerful message:
When you have eaten and are satisfied, praise the LORD your God for the good
land he has given you. Be careful that you do not forget the LORD your God, failing
to observe his commands, his laws and his decrees that I am giving you this
day. Otherwise, when you eat and are satisfied, when you build fine houses and
settle down, and when your herds and flocks grow large and your silver and gold
increase and all you have is multiplied, then your heart will become proud and
you will forget the LORD your God who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land
of slavery. He led you through the vast and dreadful desert, that thirsty and waterless
land, with its venomous snakes and scorpions. He brought you water out of hard rock.
He gave you manna to eat in the desert, something your fathers had never known,
to humble and to test you so that in the end it might go well with you. You might
say to yourself, ?My power and the strength of my hands have produced this wealth
for me.? But remember the LORD your God, for it is he who gives you the ability to
produce wealth, and so confirms his covenant, which he swore to your forefathers,
at is is today.
If you ever forget the LORD your God and follow other gods and worship and bow down
to them, I testify against you today that you will surely be destroyed.
It may not be obvious at first glance but there is a great danger lurking behind
any blessings which one receives from God. When we are blessed by God the human
tendency to forget where the blessings come from and begin to give ourselves
the credit for our ?accomplishments? is always present. The festivals and feasts in
the Old Covenant were given specifically so that the Jews would not ever forget
from where their blessings came.
Are those under the New Covenant immune from the temptation to forget where
their blessings came from? Clearly not. ?What do you have that you did not receive? And if
you did receive it, why do you boast as though you did not? (1 Corinthians 4:7).
Apparently the Corinthian disciples struggled with this sin. Remember that the
Old Testament laws were a shadow of things to come. If the Old Covenant feasts were
intended to help the Jews to remember God?s blessings, then they were intended
to do the same for those who are Christians as well. This is a very good reason
to study the type/antitype relationship of the Old Testament festivals. God expects and
even demands that we take the time to remember our blessings and from where
THE PASSOVER (pesach)
The Passover (pesach in Hebrew) was a one-day feast instituted by God in order
that the Jews would remember the ?passing over? of the destroying angel, when
the firstborn of every household in Egypt was killed. This was the last of the plagues
which God brought on Egypt so that Pharaoh would let God?s people go out into
the desert to worship him. Remember from chapter one that the entire event of leaving
Egypt, passing through the Sea of Reeds and entering the wilderness is a foreshadow
of those under the New Covenant leaving their life of sin and entering into
a saved relationship with God after baptism. God established the Passover because he
never wanted the Jews to forget that it was only by his miraculous power that
they were saved, both from slavery and from the destroying angel.
To this very day, Jews hold the Passover to be their second most significant
feast, after yom kippur, the Day of Atonement. Every Jewish family, even some of the least
religiously observant, celebrates a Passover meal in their homes very similar
to the one instituted by God in Exodus chapter twelve. Very precise directions were
given by God in Exodus for how the Passover meal was to be celebrated. Every single detail
of this meal has deep significance for those who are saved by the blood of Jesus.
We will see that God intended the Passover meal all along to be a reminder,
not just for the Jews, but for Christians.
The historical record of the Passover is found in Exodus chapters eleven through
thirteen. God had already brought nine unnatural disasters, commonly known as ?plagues?
on Egypt in order to convince Pharaoh to let his people go out into the desert
to worship him. After some of the plagues, Pharoah had repented and agreed to let
the Jews go out to worship, only to change his mind and harden his heart when
he thought about the implications of letting them free, even for a short time.
God told Moses ?I will bring one more plague on Pharaoh and on Egypt. Afte
r that, he will let you go from here, and when he does, he will drive you out
completely.? (Exodus 11:1). So Moses shared with the people what God had told him;
?About midnight I will go throughout Egypt. Every firstborn son in Egypt w
ill die, from the firstborn son of Pharaoh, who sits on the throne, to the firstborn
son of the slave girl, who is at her hand mill, and all the firstborn of the
cattle as well.? (Exodus 11:4,5). Since the Jews themselves were slaves, this would
presumably include the firstborn sons of every Jewish family. Most of the previous
nine plagues had affected both Jew and Egyptian.
God provided his people with a way to avoid this disastrous plague. Each family was
to take a year old male lamb ?without defect,? slaughter it at twilight and
put some of the blood of that sacrifice on the sides and tops of the wooden
doorframes on their homes. God promised that if they would perform this sacrifice,
he would ?pass over? their houses when he came to destroy the first born in Eg
ypt. The families were to eat the slaughtered lamb that night. Prophetically, God told
them not to break any of the bones of the lamb they slaughtered (Exodus 12:
46). They were also instructed to eat unleavened bread and bitter herbs with
their Passover meal. God told them to eat the meal in haste, ?with your cloak tucked
into your belt, your sandals on your feet and your staff in your hand.? (Exodus
What God had told Moses is exactly what happened. On that same night, the LORD struc
k down the firstborn sons throughout Egypt, right up to Pharaoh?s house, except
for those whose houses were marked with the blood of the Passover lamb. Pharaoh
?called Moses and Aaron into his palace and ordered them to leave into the desert
to worship Jehovah. Unlike in his previous similar orders, he told them to go with
their herds and belongings. The Jews went on their way laden with many valuable gifts
from their Egyptian neighbors–eager to see them go. The Jews left is such haste
that they were unable to leaven their bread. The rest of the story of the Exodus
has already been described in chapter one. The people escaped from slavery in
Egypt, symbolic of those under the New Covenant escaping from slavery to sin.
They were only able to escape by passing through the waters of the Red Sea, as
they were baptized into Moses.
At the same time that God performed the Passover miracle, he also instructed
his people to perform a ritual Passover meal every year from that day forward
as a reminder of how he freed them from their captivity;
?This is a day you are to commemorate; for the generations to come, you shall
celebrate it as a festival to the LORD–a lasting ordinance. ? (Exodus 12:14).
?When you enter the land that the LORD will give you as he promised, observe
this ceremony. And when you children ask you, ?What does this ceremony mean to you??
tell them, ?It is the Passover sacrifice to the LORD, who passed over the houses
of the Israelites in Egypt and spared our homes when he struck down the Egyptians.? (Exodus
If there ever was a command God gave to the Jews which they have followed religiously,
it is the command to celebrate the Passover meal annually.
Every year, Jewish families perform a ritual cleansing of all yeast from their
house before celebrating the Passover. On the night of the Passover meal, known as the
?Seder,? the extended family gathers together to share the meal of lamb, unleavened
bread and bitter herbs. The lamb is eaten to remember the sacrifice and the escape
from destruction. The unleavened bread is to remember the haste of their escape from slavery.
?The bitter herbs are eaten to remind them of the bitterness of enslavement
under Pharaoh. Traditionally, the patriarch of the family reads from set passages
in Exodus. Before the readings it is traditional to choose a young boy from the family
to ask four questions. One of these is ?What does this mean?? (Exodus 13:4), after which,
the whole group is taught about the meaning of the Passover. The other three questions
are, ?Why is this night different from all other nights?? ?Why on this night
do we only eat unleavened bread?? and ?Why eat bitter herbs?? Traditionally,
three pieces of unleavened bread are used. The third piece of bread is broken, hidden
away, only to be recovered and distributed to all later. Additionally, three cups
of wine are shared. For the Jews, the third cup, shared at the end of the supper,
is known as the cup of redemption.
Every single detail of this feast serves as a wonderful foreshadowing of salvation
in Jesus Christ. To quote from Phillip Lester, ?The essence of the Passover is that of
the Lord?s Supper. It is all about remembering where we have come, the bitterness
of our enslavement (to sin), and the price of our deliverance by the blood of
the Lamb.? The Passover of the Jews is a type, while theLord?s Supper is the antitype. I
n fact, it would probably be more accurate to call the meal on the night Jesus
was betrayed the Last Seder, rather than the Last Supper. This truly was the last
Passover meal before the Passover was replaced by its New Testament antitype–The
Lord?s Supper (Not that there is anything wrong with a Christian celebrating
a Seder meal). This is exactly what Jesus meant as he shared the Last Supper with
his closest friends;
Then came the day of Unleavened Bread on which the Passover lamb had to be sacrificed.
Jesus sent Peter and John, saying ?Go and make preparations for us to eat the
When the hour had come, Jesus and his apostles reclined at the table. And he said
unto them, ?I have eagerly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer.
?For I tell you, I will not eat it again until it finds fulfillment in the
kingdom of God.? (Luke 22:7,8,14-16).
It this passage, Jesus is telling the disciples that the next Passover celebration
would be in the form of its New Covenant antitype?the Lord?s Supper. One is reminded
one more time of Jesus? claim that he did not come to bring the law to an end
but to bring it to fulfillment in the New Covenant.
Consider some of the type/antitype relationships between the Passover and the
Lord?s Supper. As mentioned in the introduction to this chapter, when God made the
Passover to be a type of the Lord?s Supper he was not being subtle, given that
Jesus celebrated the Last Supper on the night of the Passover meal. In the Passover
meal, an innocent lamb is sacrificed. The Lord?s Supper commemorates the death of Jesus
who, ?was led like a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before his shearers
is silent, so he did not open his mouth.? The Passover lamb had to be without physical
defect. The antitype to the lamb, Jesus Christ was without spiritual defect. He never sinned.
The original Passover lambs were killed to save people who were under a death
sentence, as the death angel was to pass through Egypt that night. The Lord?s Supper
commemorates Jesus? death for a people who were under a spiritual death sentence. ?
But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive
with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions?it is by grace you have
been saved.? (Ephesians 2:4,5). The Passover lamb?s sacrificial blood was sprinkled
on the wooden cross-beam over the Israelite?s doors. When they did this, the Jews
had no idea whatever that they were prefiguratively acting out the blood of
Jesus, ?the lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world,? (John 1:29) wh
ich was to be shed on a cross-beam fourteen centuries later. Because of the blood
of the Passover lamb, God ?passed over? the houses of the Jews. Because of the blood
of the Lamb of God, ?slain from the creation of the world,? God will pass over
the sin in our own personal house?our lives.
The five type/antitype parallels already mentioned are only the beginning. God commanded
?the Jews not to break any of the bones of the Passover lamb. ?Do not break any
of the bones.? (Exodus 12:46). How did the Jews interpret this seemingly obscure command?
What did God have in mind? The command to not break any of the bones of the Passover
lamb is a prophecy of the antitype to the Passover lamb, Jesus Christ. It is reminiscen
t of the messianic prophecy in Psalms 22:17, ?I can count all my bones.? Jesus was
crucified along with two thieves. Jesus died first of the three, most likely because
of the extremely rough treatment he received even before being crucified. Because the
crucifixion happened on the same day as the Passover meal, the Jews wanted the
bodies taken down from the cross before sunset. When they made this request, the Roman
soldiers broke the bones of the two thieves crucified along with Jesus. They did
this because it was common knowledge that once the condemned person?s legs were
broken, they could no longer push themselves up to get a breath. They therefore expired
within just a few minutes. When the soldiers came to Jesus, they did not break his
legs because he had already died. All this is recorded in John 19:31-33. Thus was fulfilled
the prophecy, dutifully acted out every year, when the Jews carefully avoided
breaking any of the bones of the Passover lamb.
The Jews had to flee Egypt so quickly that they were not even able to leaven
their bread. Jesus expects those who follow him to flee from their life of spiritual
slavery in sin without even looking back
(Luke 9:62). Whatever we are currently doing,
Jesus expects us to drop our nets there and then and follow him when we hear
the call (Mark 1:17,18). Of course, both the Passover meal and the Lord?s Supper
include the eating of unleavened bread. In the Lord?s Supper the unleavened bread
is meant to symbolize the body of Jesus whose life was without leaven. We have already
seen in chapter six that leaven is a symbol of sin. Before the Passover meal, Jews
go through a traditional searching of the house to remove any possible leaven
from their homes. Similarly, God expects us before we even take the Lord?s Supper
to look at our own personal spiritual house in order to deal with spiritual
leaven we will inevitably find there;
A man ought to examine himself before he eats of the bread and drinks of the
cup. (1 Corinthians 11:28).
Don?t you know that a little yeast works through the whole batch of dough? Get rid
of the old yeast that you may be a new batch without yeast?as you really are. For Chris
t, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed. Therefore let us keep the Festival. (1 Corinthians
Here, the imagery of the Passover meal and the Lord?s Supper is intimately intertwined.
Note that the Lord?s Supper is both a reminder of the already accomplished
fact of being without sin and a call to walk away from current sin in our lives.
As part of the Passover meal, God commanded the eating of bitter herbs. This was
to remind the Jews of the bitterness of slavery in Egypt. One would think that
the Jews would never forget how terrible it was to be in bondage. One would be wrong. W
hile wandering in the wilderness, the Jews soon forgot the horrors of slavery
and longed to return to Egypt (Numbers 20:5,6). This is why God gave them the Passover
as a remembrance, not only of the amazing miracle of their release from bondage,
but also as a reminder of the bitterness of slavery. What a great foreshadow for those
under the New Covenant who celebrate the Lord?s Supper. One would think that it would
be easy for a disciple of Jesus to remember how amazingly better their life
is under the Good Shepherd Jesus Christ who gives life and life to the full
(paraphrasing John 10:10,11). Again, one would be very wrong. Christians need to remember
on a regular basis how truly bitter life under slavery to sin was. The ritual reminder
of the Passover and the Lord?s Supper both let God?s people remember the bitterness
Although it is not commanded in the Pentateuch, the Jews have an ancient tradition
of sharing three loaves of bread and three cups of wine. The third piece of unleavened
bread is broken into pieces and the pieces are hidden around the house. After the
meal, the family searches the house, recovering the pieces and sharing them
together. Little do most of them know that they are acting out a foreshadow of the bodily
resurrection of Jesus in this interesting part of the Passover meal. The tradition
al third cup of wine is drunk after the meal. The Jews recognize this as the cup
of redemption. This third cup is the one Jesus took on the night he was sacrificed as
a Passover lamb. ?After supper he took the cup, saying, ?This is the new covenant in
my blood??.? If only the Jews who shared this third cup had any idea how prophetic
the cup of redemption was to become when Jesus shared it with his apostles the
night before he gave a sacrifice for redemption of the whole world.
There are three themes in this chapter. Two of these are the themes of the entire book.
One of these is that entire Old Testament is about Jesus Christ. The second is that
the abundant and intricate foreshadowings in the Old Testament prove beyond
a doubt that the Bible is inspired by God. The additional theme in this chapter
is that God wants and even expects those who come to him to take time to make
a regular habit of remembering what he has done in their lives.