Celebrating a True Passover
Assuming the new moon is sighted as expected on Monday, March 31, 2014: Passover and the Feast of Unleavened Bread begins Monday, April 14th, 2014 at sunset and the eating of our Passover slaughter. But Passover does not happen by accident for those who are intent on following Yehovah’s (the LORD’s) instructions.
Passover is not like Christmas and Easter where you buy and wrap a few gifts or paint a few eggs at the last-minute. God forbid that His people ever go back to those pagan ways. As you will see Passover, Yehovah’s way, requires much planning to get it right; especially for those who are keeping Passover for the first time. I have been asked by a couple of brothers to give a check list of things that are needed and things that must be considered as we draw close this most important Spring Feast of Yehovah.
The first and most important item for our consideration is WHY do we keep Passover? In brief, the Passover is the one and only time each year when a “ger” (Strong’s H1616 – a citizen to True Israel who keeps all Yehovah’s ways) has a chance to become an “ezrach” (Strong’s H249 – one “Born in the Land,” the land of his second birth). We are all born the first time, into some kingdom of the earth, Passover is our once a year chance to be born again into the kingdom and land of our dear Father. In contrast, we can become a ger by joining ourselves as citizens of True Israel at anytime through repentance and baptism.
“And when a stranger (ger) dwells with you and wants to keep the Passover to Yehovah, let all his males be circumcised, and then let him come near and keep it; and he shall be as a native-born of the land (ezrach). For no uncircumcised person shall eat it.” (Exo 12:48)
If this concept seems strange to you, you will know why I have developed almost four hours of videos to help folks understand these ideas. Here is a link to the ‘Born Again’ series.
“O Yehovah, my strength and my fortress, My refuge in the day of affliction, the Gentiles shall come to You from the ends of the earth and say, ‘Surely our fathers have inherited lies, worthlessness and unprofitable things.’” (Jer 16:19)
For those of us who have partaken of the true Passover before, the taking of it yearly is a matter of remaining part of True Israel. For if an Israelite does not keep Passover he is kicked out of True Israel. That is NOT an option for me; I WILL keep it as instructed!
“But the man who is clean and is not on a journey, and ceases to keep the Passover, that same person shall be cut off from among his people, because he did not bring the offering of Yehovah at its appointed time; that man shall bear his sin”. (Num 9:13)
The second item to consider is WHERE will the Passover be kept? The last two years we have had our Passover on a semi-rural piece of property which was about an acre and fairly secluded from the neighbors. This has been ideal. The host had a home and one out building. Remember that once the blood is on the doorway(s) and Israel has finished burning everything remaining, the skin, bones, internal organs and left over meat, NO ONE goes out of the house, shed, RV or even tent until morning.
“You shall let none of it remain until morning, and what remains of it until morning you shall burn with fire. And thus you shall eat it: with a belt on your waist, your sandals on your feet, and your staff in your hand. So you shall eat it in haste. It is Yehovah’s Passover.” (Exo 12:10-11) “… And none of you shall go out of the door of his house until morning.” (Exo 12:22)
As I said, tents and RVs in the wilderness is an option on the place. Joshua kept Passover just after they crossed the Jordan. All they had were tents.
The third consideration is the animal. This male sheep or goat must less than one year old (1 month to a year) without blemishes, spots, etc. This may seem easy until you try to find one; unfortunately the majority of people who raise these animals castrate them within weeks of their birth; thus making those animals unacceptable for the Passover slaughter. I prayed for two months this year for a place to supply an acceptable animal and after much prayer I found a man who raises sheep for this purpose. DO NOT TAKE finding an acceptable animal for granted, for it too is a provision of Yehovah.
By the way, many folks will charge anywhere from $50 to $250 for the right animal; however Yehovah provided a goat last year for $60 and he was raised by a Torah keeping family, our Father is so good! Remember also, that this lamb or goat is to be selected and kept near the home or camp beginning on the 10th of Aviv.
“Speak to all the congregation of Israel, saying: ‘On the tenth of this month every man shall take for himself a lamb, according to the house of his father, a lamb for a household. And if the household is too small for the lamb, let him and his neighbor next to his house take it according to the number of the persons; according to each man’s need you shall make your count for the lamb.” (Exo 12:3-4)
One small lamb will feed about 20 people.
The fourth consideration is the slaughter and dressing of the animal. Here is a link to a pdf file which discusses the “humane” slaughter of an animal. If you have been raised on a farm, most of this is a “no-brainer”, but for most of us city folks it seems like an abomination – PLEASE – just get over it and follow Yehovah’s instructions. Nothing Yehovah tells us to do is an abomination.
Did you know that Passover will be kept in the millennial kingdom also? See Ezekiel 45.
To perform a humane slaughter properly you will need a knife designed for that purpose. This knife must be at least twice the length of the animal’s neck which means that to do a humane slaughter of a sheep or goat, a blade with a length between 12″ and 14″ is required. This again is not something that you can just run out to Wal-Mart and pick up. Most of these knives are razor-sharp and are not cheap; they generally range from $85 to $140+. Here is a vendor for this type of knife that has a very fair price.
Hyssop and a large bowl will be needed to catch the blood as it drains from the animal. Blood coagulates very quickly; dipping the hyssop in the blood and applying it to the lintel and two door posts is not easy. This is a job that must be delegated and done quickly. I have grown hyssop for this purpose for several years.
“And you shall take a bunch of hyssop, dip it in the blood that is in the basin, and strike the lintel and the two door posts with the blood that is in the basin. And none of you shall go out of the door of his house until morning.” (Exo 12:22)
We dug a very shallow hole in the earth in preparation for this slaughter which was done over this hole; any extra blood, which is practically all the blood, must be placed in the hole. Two places in Torah we are instructed concerning the disposal of the blood; “pouring it out on the ground like water” is the general order of the day.
“Only you shall not eat the blood; you shall pour it on the earth like water.” (Deu 12:16) “Only you shall not eat its blood; you shall pour it on the ground like water.” (Deu 15:23)
If you are fortunate enough to have a hunter in your group, it is a great blessing. He will know how to dress and skin the animal for cooking; but be careful not to break any bones.
“In one house it shall be eaten; you shall not carry any of the flesh outside the house, nor shall you break one of its bones.” (Exo 12:46)
If we are not to break any bones while eating the animal; we certainly do not want to break any bones while we are dressing it. We have gutted the animal each year while it was on the ground and then hung it from its rear legs to skin it. All skin is removed from the lower legs to the top of the neck before cooking.
The fifth item of consideration is how do we cook the lamb? There are two issues that must be discussed here.
First let see WHAT is to be cooked. A careless and ignorant reading (I am not trying to step on any toes here, but only trying to bring some light to this subject) of this verses 9 & 10 of Exodus 12 would lead most who have never cooked game to believe that we are to cook the animal whole. Let’s look closely at those two verses.
(9) “Do not eat it raw, nor boiled at all with water, but roasted in fire–its head with its legs and its entrails. (10) You shall let none of it remain until morning, and what remains of it until morning you shall burn with fire.” (Exo 12:9-10)
I believe this translation was “designed” to discourage the people of Yehovah from keeping the Passover; for even translators have their own theologies and biases. Wow, that is real understatement! Gaining a correct understanding of these two verses depends on how these two verses are divided; so a more correct and honest translation might go something like this.
“Do not eat it raw, nor boiled at all with water, but roasted in fire. Its head with its legs and its entrails, you shall let none of it remain until morning. Anything that does remain until morning you shall burn with fire.” (Exo 12:9-10 MDV)
The second issue concerning cooking the animal is how to cook it. We created a pit out of cinder-block the first year and the second year we made a pit of stone. Both times we had a large grate from a barbecue that we made to be height adjustable in both pits. The first year it was rainy and windy and we made a wood cover to keep the rain out and the heat in a pit. The second year it was dry and very cold. Both years it took 5 – 6 hours to cook (seemed like forever) and the meat was very dry and tough.
Last year, 2010 Passover, we wired the front legs together and then passed the back legs through the front legs and then wired all four legs to the head; this made a nice little bundle that we, after rubbing the meat down with oil and sprinkling with garlic power, wrapped several times with foil. We also sealed both ends and then laid it just inches from our hot coals. We were careful to turn it over every 15 minutes or so and after just two hours we had a fine meal, very moist and tender. It was rainy and windy at times but it did not matter. I will cook the Passover this way from here on in, and beyond.
The sixth item of consideration is WHO may eat the lamb. If you are a “ger” who has joined himself to Israel and committed your life to keeping all of Yehovah’s instruction AND you have been circumcised; then you may eat the lamb. If you have not, DON’T! I know that this business about circumcision has been greatly perverted. The teaching concerning the new believers in Acts 15 and the righteous decision made by James is spot on! But all that chapter was about was the starting point, the minimum requirements for brand new baby believers who had just repented (that is the circumcision of the heart) and was beginning to learn about basic things like keeping the Sabbath. Circumcision of the flesh comes later; and ALWAYS after the circumcision of the heart. Parts 3 The Way of Life & 4 Baptism – a New Beginning of the born again series explains in great detail what it means to be a ger and the truth about baptism and circumcision.
The seventh item for consideration is the actual eating of the Lamb. We eat it with unleavened bread and bitter herbs (be creative). We eat it in haste, with our sandals on our feet and a staff in our hand.
“Then they shall eat the flesh on that night; roasted in fire, with unleavened bread and with bitter herbs they shall eat it.” (Exo 12:8) “And thus you shall eat it: with a belt on your waist, your sandals on your feet, and your staff in your hand. So you shall eat it in haste. It is Yehovah’s Passover.” (Exo 12:11)
The eighth item for consideration is, “do not leave the property until daylight.” Unlike Seder (which is not part of the instructions) NOBODY GOES HOME until daybreak.
The final consideration is the clean up, EVERY PART of the animal that is left over is to be burned. The first year we thought we had done such a great job in our Passover and then later in the afternoon someone found the lamb’s scrotum lying on the ground. Oops! We tossed it in the pit immediately.
Practice and planning, planning and more planning will make for a wonderful and satisfying experience as we follow Yehovah’s instructions. When one sees that dear little innocent lamb that became our friend over the last 4 day slaughtered in obedience to Yehovah’s instructions we remember what Yeshua said, “Father, if it is Your will, take this cup away from me; nevertheless not my will, but Yours, be done.” May we always remember these words and apply them to our lives.
For thousands of years people looked forward to see that precious lamb of God to come into the world, now we look back. It is my sincere hope that you have the first and most important TRUE Passover that you will ever have, but with many, many more throughout eternity. Four times in Yehovah’s instructions for our Passover and Feast of Unleavened Bread (Exodus 12) He says:
“So this day [Passover] shall be to you a memorial; and you shall keep it as a feast to Yehovah throughout your generations. You shall keep it as a feast by an everlasting ordinance.” (Exo 12:14)
“So you shall observe the Feast of Unleavened Bread, for on this same day I will have brought your armies out of the land of Egypt. Therefore you shall observe this day throughout your generations as an everlasting ordinance.” (Exo 12:17)
And you shall observe this thing as an ordinance for you and your sons forever. (Exo 12:24)
It is a night of solemn observance to Yehovah for bringing them out of the land of Egypt. This is that night of Yehovah, a solemn observance for all the children of Israel throughout their generations. (Exo 12:42)
Israel’s God does not change; and “everlasting,” is a very long time!