Passover will soon be upon us and as it is with all of the feasts, we need time to prepare our hearts and our homes for this important season. Within the Jewish community there is always a period of preparation for God’s appointed times. In the fall, the sixth month of Elul is a time to prepare for the fall feasts. In the springtime the month of Adar and Nisan is the time to prepare for the Spring Feasts.
The next two years will be very significant prophetically. We will be witnessing four blood moons , the first one this Passover and then this fall during Sukkot and then again next year at the same times. The last time this happened was in 1948 and 1967. Many are believing that some prophetic event could take place, so we will be watching the heavens over the next two years.
Passover is the one of the most important of Gods Appointed Times. It is the first Biblical feast observed on the Jewish calendar and begins the entire cycle of feasts for the coming year. So important was this day that God chose to set it apart as the beginning of months. God said in Exodus 12:1 “This shall be your beginning of months it shall be the first month of the year to you.” One reason why it is so important is because it represents Israel’s birth as a nation and the anniversary of their freedom after 400 years of slavery in Egypt.
The story of this ancient feast has been observed and retold in every generation for the past 3500 years. It is one of the oldest feasts still celebrated in the world today and yet there is something new and fresh about its observance every year. God chose to institute this feast during the spring season when nature is coming to life.
As a messianic community we celebrate two Passovers during the Passover season, Israel’s Passover and the Messiah’s. We are all familiar with the Passover in Egypt: The Lord brought Moses out of retirement and called him when he was 80 years old . Moses himself said, in Psalm 90 – The days of our lives are seventy years and if by reason of strength they are eighty years. Moses was just beginning his bonus years when he returned to Egypt. And he still lived another 40 years. Moses and Aaron appeared before the Pharaoh, saying “let my people go that they may worship me”, but the Pharaoh hardened his heart and refused to let Gods people go. So Adonai poured out nine horrible plagues and with the tenth, the death of all the first born of Egypt, Pharaoh finally agreed to let them go. Adonai led the children of Israel out of Egypt and Adonai parted the Red Sea so they could walk through on dry ground. As the armies of Egypt pursued them Adonai returned the waters and drowned the entire army of Egypt. No other generation in history has ever witnessed the awesome power of Adonai. God literally took out a nation from the midst of another nation with signs, wonders and with a mighty hand. 3500 years later we are still talking about it. But as great and awesome as that first Passover was, it faded in comparison to the Messiah’s Passover 2000 years ago. Yeshua came to bring to fulfillment and the true meaning of Passover. Yeshua was the Passover Lamb who came to take away the sins of the world.
In Ex. 12:13 Now the blood will be a sign for you on the houses where you are. And when I see the blood I will pass over you and the plague shall not be on you to destroy you when I strike the land of Egypt. This day shall be to you a memorial you shall keep it as a feast to the Lord throughout your generations. You shall keep it as a feast by an everlasting ordinance.
Adonai intended for this feast to be remembered throughout all generations as an everlasting ordinance. Yeshua came as a Moses figure, a mighty warrior in the Spirit to take a stand against the spiritual pharaoh of this world. He came as a lion from the tribe of Judah but He also came as the lamb . Behold the Lamb of God who comes to take away the sin of the world. He came to shed His blood so that the plague of death would pass over us so that we will not be destroyed. It was through signs, wonders, miracles, through His death, His shed blood and His resurrection that Yeshua destroyed the works of the Devil.
The Messiahs Passover is a message of judgment, of redemption, of freedom and deliverance from the bondage and slavery of sin. That is why this feast is so important and laid the foundation for Gods entire plan of redemption. As new Covenant Believers whenever we celebrate the Passover we are also to remember the Messiahs Passover. This day shall be a memorial feast, you shall keep it as a feast to the Lord throughout your generations. Whenever we partake of the bread and the cup we are remembering and proclaiming Yeshua’s death until He comes. The Lord left a promise for the world. For God so loved the world… John 3:16 Do you have everlasting life? Do you believe in the Son? If you want everlasting life and if you don’t want to perish you must believe in the Son.
This is Gods Appointed time to purge out the leaven from your homes and from your heart. The word purge means to eradicate, to remove, to eliminate. As Believers, we need to be radical, to be passionate, zealous, fervent, enthusiastic, whole hearted for Adonai. Passover is about change, about entering into a new season. Spring is a new season and the Lord wants to create new life in us, He wants to refresh us, to revive us , to wake us up from our spiritual slumber, to come out of hibernation, to shake off the old and put on the new. Behold I will do a new thing and it will spring forth.
One way we do this is to get rid of the spiritual clutter, rubbish and baggage that we often carry around in our lives. Hebrews 12:1 says, “Let us lay aside every weight and encumbrance, the burden of sin that so easily entangles us and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Yeshua, the author and finisher of our faith.” Many of us carry around a lot of burdens and baggage that entangles us and weighs us down. We need to learn how to lay them aside, to cast them off, to run with endurance, to keep our eyes fixed on Yeshua.
He knows the beginning and end of our life. He is the author and finisher of our faith. When all is said and done in the end, we want to hear the words of our Master say, Well done thou good and faithful servant, you have been faithful in a few things, I will entrust you to many, enter into the joy of my kingdom. There is a work that we have been called to do on this earth. We need to learn how to work out Gods plan for our lives, to work out our salvation with fear and trembling. Not work for our salvation but to walk it out. There is a difference.
During Passover we have the opportunity to refocus, to start fresh, and begin anew. What we do in the natural is a picture of what we need to do in the spiritual. It is traditional to begin the process of doing a thorough springhouse cleaning in preparation for Pesach. And so this is my traditional springhouse-cleaning message. It’s that time of the year again. You may have heard the expression– Home is where the dirt is. It can have a double meaning not only physical but spiritual as well. We need to clean out the dirt in our lives, those things that are unclean and unholy that hinder our relationship with the Father. But let’s first begin with the practical, the hands on.
Preparing for Passover usually begins a full month before the holiday arrives just after the feast of Purim. That’s why I am giving this message, to give us lots of time to do our spring house cleaning. Since no leavened bread is to be eaten during the seven days of Unleavened Bread, we make a special effort to remove all leaven from our homes in obedience to the Torah’s commandment in Ex. 12:15,19 “Seven days you shall eat unleavened Bread. On the first day you shall remove leaven from your houses. For whoever eats leavened Bread from the first day until the seventh day, that person shall be cut off from Israel…whether he is a stranger or native of the land. You shall eat nothing leavened, in all your habitations you shall eat unleavened bread. “
This means we clean every room of the house so that all chametz or leavened products are removed. We search for bread crumbs under the cushions of our sofas, and chairs, in the pockets of our coats and pants, on closet floors, we vacuum carpets and remove every trace of leaven that we can find. We also thoroughly clean our stove, oven, refrigerator and freezer, microwave, toaster. It is a big job to clean a house but as we do it, it provides an important object lesson about the need to separate ourselves from the corrupting influences in our lives. This traditional spring cleaning to get ready for Passover also helps us to spiritually prepare ourselves for the coming New Year. Exodus 12:1 says, This month shall be your beginning of months it shall be the first month of the year to you. The process of removing chametz from our homes is quite involved and frankly very few people have the time and energy to perform such an undertaking in the traditionally prescribed manner. If you don’t have the time and energy and your health may not be up to it, the most important commandment in the Torah is to ensure that on the day before Passover, everything with leaven is to be removed from the home. This is the biblical commandment that we are to obey. Many of the other traditions of how to clean the house so meticulously are rabbinic and you don’t need to feel obligated.
To fulfill the biblical commandment to remove all the leaven from your home is what is most important. This includes all food and drink made from wheat, barley, rye, oats or their derivatives. All types of breads, buns, pizza, cereals, crackers, pasta, baking agents and so on. Look on the labels of food boxes and cans to see if they have yeast. According to Jewish Halacha, water is considered a fermenting agent. It is water that begins the process of fermentation so rice, grain, wheat etc. are ok to keep in the home unless you mix them with water. Once you have gathered all the chometz , the leaven products together they are then stored in a sealed container, removed from the home and stored in the garage, a neighbor’s home or taken out of the house to be burned. Matzoh is the only type of bread that we are to eat during the seven days of Unleavened Bread.
Once the house is thoroughly cleaned, leaven may still be eaten up until the morning of the day before Passover that would be Sunday April 13th. That Sunday evening, there is a Bedikat Chametz ritual and the blessing ceremony that is recited to finally dispose of any remaining chametz. Only after all the leaven has been removed from the home it is considered leaven free and ready for Passover.
Why did God give such a strong command regarding leaven? Exodus 12:14-20 It is because leaven is considered a metaphor for sin within us that corrupts and sours our soul. It represents a corrupting influence, that is found in the hidden places of our heart . The commandment to thoroughly clean our homes and remove all leaven before Passover is a powerful picture of God’s commandment for us to be a holy and sanctified people, set apart from sin. Just like the influence of a small amount of leaven in a batch of dough that causes it to rise in just 18 minutes, so also even a small trace of spiritual leaven in our hearts can rise up very quickly as an evil impulse within us and corrupt and sour our relationship with the Father and others.
Leaven in Hebrew is called Chametz and literally means sour. That is why God compares leaven to sin. God strictly forbids the eating of anything with leaven during these seven days. It was not enough to simply refrain from eating leaven while it was still in the home. All leaven was to be removed from the house and burned. No leaven shall be seen among you in all your quarters and in all your territory for seven days. Ex. 13:7 The punishment for not obeying was to be cut off from the house of Israel. God views sin very seriously. Just as a little bit of leaven can cause a whole lump of dough to rise , so also a little sin if not dealt with can work its way through an entire congregation and defile it. Gossip, sowing discord of discontent is one of the tools the enemy uses very effectively. Our tongue is the most unruly member of the body and the enemy knows it and uses it to his advantage by afflicting Gods people with foot in mouth disease. That is why the apostle Paul shared a spiritual truth about how we should prepare for Passover in 1 Co. 5:6-8 “Your boasting is not good. Do you not know that a little leaven leavens the whole lump? Therefore purge out the old leaven, that you may be a new lump since you truly are unleavened. For indeed Messiah, our Passover was sacrificed for us. Therefore let us keep this feast not with old leaven, nor with the leaven of malice and wickedness, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.”
In the Scripture, matzoh or unleavened Bread is also called the Bread of affliction ( Deut. 16:3 “You shall eat no leavened bread with it, seven days you shall eat unleavened bread with it, that is, the bread of affliction ( for you came out of the land of Egypt in haste) that you may remember the day in which you came out of the land of Egypt all the days of your life.”
It is not called the Bread of Affliction’ because it is unleavened but it is unleavened because it was born out of Affliction. In other words, since the Israelites had no time to prepare their bread because of their affliction ( their slavery) their bread did not have time to rise. They had to eat the Passover lamb in haste. The matzah then, is not so much the remembrance of bondage as of their deliverance from bondage, but that which had once been affliction now became, and account of Gods deliverance sign of their freedom. Matzah is the sign of Freedom that was birthed out of affliction.
The search for leaven is not unlike the soul searching that we do before the Fall Feasts when we perform chesbon hanefesh, taking inventory of our spiritual condition before Adonai and one another. Going to those who we may have offended and make things right. We are commanded to search and remove those unclean hidden places of the heart so that we might experience the truth that we are a new creation in the Messiah. Since Yeshua was sacrificed for us as our Passover Lamb, we have become a new creation and have been made unleavened through the indwelling presence and power of the Ruach HaKodesh. We are commanded to put away , put off the old nature, the old man and purge from our life the old influences, the bad habits, the addictions that inwardly plague us and cause us to sin. We need to make Psalm 139: 23,24 our Passover Prayer. “Search me O God, and know my heart! Test me now and know my thoughts. And see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.”
As we prepare for this Passover season may we not only be diligent in searching our homes for leaven and removing it but especially that we would be diligent to pray that the Ruach will search our hearts and purge out the leaven of sin within us so that we can stand fast in the freedom by which Messiah has made us free, so that we will not become entangled again with a yoke of bondage.