Celebrating Passover

This morning our homeschool group celebrated Passover by participating in a Seder.  The first time I did one of these was about three or four years ago at our church while studying the Feasts of Israel.  It was a beautiful picture of how Christ fulfilled the Feast of the Passover in every way.  I also loved learning how Jesus celebrated Passover because this is the way the Last Supper was done.  Before, I just pictured them having a meal with Jesus just talking throughout.  I didn't understand the order in which it would have been done and it made what Jesus said during the meal much more meaningful.

As a Christian, we look at this traditional observance much differently because we know that Christ is the Messiah that fulfilled all of these prophesies. 

A Passover service is called a "Seder" which means "set order".  There are many versions of the Haggadah, and Seders vary from family to family.  The Hebrew day begins and ends with sunset.  This is why the Passover celebration begins at sunset with the lighting of the candles.
Typically, the mother of the home lights the candles and says a blessing.  Tabitha Merritt was our "mother".
She wasn't too thrilled that I was taking her picture☺

There are 15 steps in the Seder, as there were 15 steps from the courtyard up to the Temple of Jerusalem.  Each step of the Temple and of the Seder is designed to bring us closer to God.  These are the 15 steps for Seder:

1.  Telling of the Seder symbolism.

The maror, or bitter herb or horseradish, represents the bitter oppression of slavery the Hebrews endured under the Egyptians.

The salt water represented tears shed during the Hebrew's many years in slavery.

The haroset is a sweetened apple salad and represents the mortar used by the Hebrews in building for the Egyptians.

The shank bone is symbolic of the lamb whose blood was put on the door posts of their homes to shield their lives from death.

The hazeret is a second bitter herb (the radish, onion, or romain lettuce).  It represents the bitterness of sacrificing innocent life, the life of the lamb.

The matzah is the unleavened bread that God commanded the Hebrews to eat, a reminder of how they left Egypt in haste.

The karpas, fresh parsley or celery reminds us of spring and new life.

The roasted egg reminds us of the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem, where all Israel used to celebrate Passover.

2.  Blessing the service.  The First Cup-Sanctification...means "to be set apart as holy".  God chose Israel
     as His holy people and He has chosen us also to be set apart as holy.

Lucas said, "Is this blood?"  My answer was, "yes, but no."☺

3.  Washing of hands.  We wash our hands as a reminder of the requirement for a person to be spiritually
     clean before he goes before the Lord.  "Who may ascend the hill of the Lord?  Who may stand in His
     holy place? He who has clean hands and a pure heart."  Psalm 24:3-4
This isn't a good picture, but it was the only one:(  I wish I had a picture of Lucas holding the
bowl for me.  He was so sweet and he was so excited to get to do that for me. 

4.  Blessing of the greens.

The parsley is to remind of us of spring and new life.  It also represents the branches of the hyssop that the Hebrews used to sprinkle the blood on their doorposts, and is a symbol of hope in God.  The parsley is dipped into salt water to remind us of the tears the Hebrews shed in slavery and the passage through the salt water of the Red Sea.

5.  Dividing the middle unleavened bread (Matzah)
The matzah is placed into a matzah tosh, which is made of fabric and has three compartments.  One piece of matzah is placed into each of the compartments to represent the three parts of God.  The middle piece of matzah is the afikomen.  It means "He came" and gives a picture of Jesus who came and whose body was broken for us.  The middle piece is broken in two and wrapped in linen and taken to be hidden somewhere in the room.  The children all close their eyes so it isn't seen where is hidden.   "I am the living Bread that came down from heaven.  If anyone eats of this Bread, he will live forever.  This Bread is My flesh, which I will give for the life of the world."  John 6:54

6.  Telling the Passover story.  Four questions are asked by the youngest child and answered during this
     portion.  The telling of the history is also done at this time.  The plagues are read to remember the
     power of God in their deliverance from Egypt.  The Second Cup-Redemption from God's Wrath is
     to remind them of how God redeemed the Israelites while pouring out wrath and judgement on Egypt. 
     Jesus took God's wrath on Himself to deliver us from the judgement of sin and death. 

7.  Washing of hands.  Hands are washed again with a blessing read.

8.  Blessing the unleavened bread.  The matzah symbolizes Jesus, the Bread of Life that comes to us
     directly from God, not by the hand of another.  Each will break off a piece of the matzah, as a reminder
     that God reveals Himself directly to each person, and that each must reach out to receive the gift of
"He was pierced for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquity, and with His
stripes we are healed." Isaiah 53:5

9.  Combining of the Seder symbols.  The maror and the haroset are combined.  The horseradish
     symbolizes the bitterness of Israel's slavery.  It should bring tears to our eyes to remember their
     affliction while in slavery.  The haroset symbolizes the mortar the Israelites used to lay bricks for the
     Egyptians.  Its sweetness speaks of hope in the midst of trials. 

10. Remembering our atonement.  The egg is sliced as a reminder of the destruction of the Temple. 
      It is dipped into the salt water, a picture of tears, and eaten.  God didn't leave us without a way of   
      redemption for 2000 years.  He gave us Jesus the Passover Lamb, whose sacrifice once for all
      provided atonement for sin. There is no longer a need for a temple..."don't you know that
      you yourselves are God's temple and that God's Spirit lives in you?" 1 Corinthians 3:16

11. Serving the meal.   During the meal, memories of God's blessings in your lives over the last year
      are to be shared.

12. Sharing the afikomen.  The children go and look for the hidden afikomen.  This symbolizes that
      although Jesus was hidden away for a little while, three days later, He rose again becoming the Feast
      of the Firstfruits. 
I wonder if this started the tradition of the Easter Egg hunts...

13. Blessing for the meal.  Grace is said after the meal along with the Third Cup-Salvation.  The blood
      of the lamb saved the Hebrews from death and from slavery in Egypt.  This third cup is what Jesus
      gave His disciples as a symbol of His blood which saved us from death and from slavery to sin.  This
      is when He said, "This is My blood of the Covenant, which is poured out form many for the 
      forgiveness of sins."  Matthew 26:28

14. Anticipating our Messiah's Return.  In the Jewish seder, a separate cup is set at the table for Elijah,
      the Prophet who will appear to herald the coming of the Messiah. 
The children all go to the door to see if he has come. 
Landon came by just a few minutes before this to drop off some food.  We said it would have been really funny if he would have shown up right at this time.  haha.

As Christians, we know that John the Baptist was the one who came to prepare the way for the Lord, so there is no need to look for Elijah.  The Fourth and final cup is the Cup of the Kingdom.  Jesus Himself postponed from drinking of the fourth cup until the feast will be joyfully concluded with all of us together with Him in Eternity at His wedding.  Tabitha explained that we, the church, are the bride of Christ.  Daniel Griffin said, "that is so not cool."  Logan got tickeled and couldn't stop giggling for the rest of the time.  Good thing it was almost over. 

15. Concluding the service.  May we all be at the Lord's wedding!!  Let us proclaim, Come quickly, Lord Jesus!  Psalms 136 is read together responsively. 
Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good.
            His love endures forever.
Give thanks to the God of gods.
            His love endures forever.
Give thanks to the Lord of lords:
            His love endures forever.
 to him who alone does great wonders,
            His love endures forever.
who by his understanding made the heavens,
            His love endures forever.
who spread out the earth upon the waters,
            His love endures forever.
who made the great lights—
            His love endures forever.
the sun to govern the day,
            His love endures forever.
the moon and stars to govern the night;
            His love endures forever.
 to him who struck down the firstborn of Egypt
            His love endures forever.
and brought Israel out from among them
            His love endures forever.
with a mighty hand and outstretched arm;
            His love endures forever.
 to him who divided the Red Sea asunder
            His love endures forever.
and brought Israel through the midst of it,
            His love endures forever.
but swept Pharaoh and his army into the Red Sea;
            His love endures forever.
 to him who led his people through the wilderness;
            His love endures forever.
 to him who struck down great kings,
            His love endures forever.
and killed mighty kings—
            His love endures forever.
Sihon king of the Amorites
            His love endures forever.
and Og king of Bashan—
            His love endures forever.
and gave their land as an inheritance,
            His love endures forever.
an inheritance to his servant Israel.
            His love endures forever.
 He remembered us in our low estate
            His love endures forever.
and freed us from our enemies.
            His love endures forever.
He gives food to every creature.
            His love endures forever.
 Give thanks to the God of heaven.
            His love endures forever.

"When they [Jesus and His disciplies] had sung a hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives"  Matthew 26:30.  Jesus went forth with praises to God on His lips, knowing His time was near to die, the Passover Lamb, for our redemption! 

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