Messiah Our Pesach
Elohim's Deliverance From the Bondage of Sin
Table of Contents
From most church pulpits around the world, God's people are told that the Passover is a "Jewish" thing; that it was given to the ancient nation of Israel; and that Jews, not the "Church" should be celebrating it today. This is easy for pastors, evangelists and preachers to say, because it's popular, and because no emancipated, free-thinking New Testament Christian seriously thinks that Gentile believers should have to do any of those "Jewish" things! Do they?
Well, it's time that those pew sitters put the milk bottle down and start reading and studying the Scriptures for themselves, instead of being satisfied with the spoon-fed sermons from the wolves in expensive 3 piece wool suits (sheep's clothing) standing at the pulpits. "Gentile Christians" ought to think long and hard about something which Yahusha (a.k.a. "Jesus") the Messiah told his disciples. On the night he was betrayed, while he was showing his disciples how they should celebrate the Passover, Yahusha
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" (1 Corinthians 11:23,24, NAS).
And then Yahusha took the cup of wine and he said to his disciples,
"This cup is the new covenant in My blood; do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of Me" (1 Corinthians 11:25, NAS).
In both cases, Yahusha told his disciples to remember Him in the eating of the Unleavened Bread of the Passover, and to remember Him in the drinking of the wine of Passover.
Most Gentile Christians don't know this simple, straight-forward fact of history - that Yahusha was showing his disciples the deeper meaning of the bread and wine of Passover when he told his disciples to remember Him in the eating of that bread and in the drinking of that cup. Most believers have never been shown that the Passover is a beautiful picture of Elohim's love for his people, and that He gave his people this special observance to remember the Messiah's death as an atoning sacrifice to redeem mankind.
It's about time we all take a deeper look into the meaning of Pesach (pronounced "pe-sawk" - Hebrew for "Passover") in the Scriptures and into the future event which Pesach foreshadows. Let's investigate what it teaches us concerning our Messiah and Redeemer. And we shall investigate how Messiah would have us celebrate the Pesach at its appointed time today.
What Christian isn't familiar with Isaiah 53 as pertaining to the sufferings of the Messiah in his arrest, his trial before Pilate and on the tree? Yet most of our Torah observant Orthodox Jewish friends do not view Yeshayahu 53 as depicting their Messiah. This is likely on account of their rejection of Yeshua of Nazareth as Messiah. Instead, most Jews see Yeshayahu 53 as depicting the nation of Israel as the suffering servant. No doubt Israel throughout its history has been afflicted and has suffered greatly. But, who is right - the Jews who say Isaiah 53 has nothing to do with Messiah, or the disciples of Messiah who say it has everything to do with him? What is Isaiah 53 talking about?
In Isaiah 53, a figure is portrayed as suffering severe rejection and torture, followed by acceptance by Elohim and subsequent exaltation (resurrection). It begins in chapter 52, where the Servant of Yahuwah is appalling to look at!
See, my servant will act wisely; he will be raised and lifted up and highly exalted. Just as there were many who were appalled at him--his appearance was so disfigured beyond that of any man and his form marred beyond human likeness-- so will he sprinkle many nations, and kings will shut their mouths because of him. For what they were not told, they will see, and what they have not heard, they will understand (52:13-15).
The sufferings of this one are further elaborated in the text that follows:
He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows, and familiar with suffering. Like one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not. Surely he took up our infirmities and carried our sorrows, yet we considered him stricken by Elohim, smitten by him, and afflicted. But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed. We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way; and Yahuwah has laid on him the iniquity of us all. He was oppressed and afflicted, yet he did not open his mouth; he was led like a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is silent, so he did not open his mouth. By oppression and judgment he was taken away. And who can speak of his descendants? For he was cut off from the land of the living; for the transgression of my people he was stricken. He was assigned a grave with the wicked, and with the rich in his death, though he had done no violence, nor was any deceit in his mouth. (Yeshayahu 53:3-9)
The Jews believe this prophesy speaks of their own history of rejection and wandering without a homeland. The history of the nation of Israel is fraught with suffering and punishment. In 722 BCE, the Northern Kingdom of Israel was carried away into captivity by the Assyrians. The prophet Hosea tells of the reason for their captivity in Assyria:
When Yisrael was a child, I loved him, and out of Mitzrayim I called my son. But the more I called Yisrael, the further they went from me. They sacrificed to the Baals and they burned incense to images. It was I who taught Ephraim to walk, taking them by the arms; but they did not realize it was I who healed them. I led them with cords of human kindness, with ties of love; I lifted the yoke from their neck and bent down to feed them. Will they not return to Mitzrayim and will not Assyria rule over them because they refuse to repent? (Hosea 11:1-5)
Israel had rebelled against their compassionate Elohim in spite of his deliverances and great signs and wonders performed on their behalf.
The southern kingdom of Yehudah also served the Baalim and were carried away into Babylon. After seventy years of captivity, a remnant of Yehudah returned to the Land. But their continued rebellion resulted in the destruction of the temple in Jerusalem in 70 CE under the Roman Titus. Then the Jews suffered throughout the centuries of the modern era, wandering from place to place. The atrocities of the Jews culminated in the Holocaust under the tyrannical reign of the "Third Reich" Nazis by the hand of Adolph Hitler. It wasn't until 1948 CE that the Jews were able to return back to their own land with the establishment of the modern state of Israel.
So, history is clear that the people of Israel have suffered greatly and paid dearly for their rebellion against Elohim. But is Yeshayahu 53 speaking of this suffering of Israel? Or is it speaking of the Messiah as suffering on behalf on his people? The Talmud connects Isaiah 53 to the Messiah:
"Rabbi Yochanan said, ‘The Mashiach - what is his name?’ And our Rabbis said, ‘the pale one… is his name,’ as it is written ‘Surely he took up our infirmities and carried our sorrows - yet we considered him stricken by God, smitten by him and afflicted.’" (Isaiah 53:5; Zohar, Bemidbar, Section 3, Page 218a)
Though modern Rabbinical commentary does not acknowledge the obvious connection of Isaiah 53 with the suffering Messiah - known by Rabbis as "Messiah ben Yoseph" - the ancient Zohar does make this association:
When God desires to give healing to the world He smites on a righteous man among them with disease and suffering, and through him gives healing to all, as it is written, "But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities... and with his stripes we are healed." (Mas. Sukkah 52a)
As such, the healing of the nations is accomplished through the suffering of this "righteous man" - the Messiah - as detailed in Isaiah 53.
Furthermore, the Talmud again makes the connection of the suffering servant as depicted in the prophet Zechariah with the Messiah. The prophet says,
They will look on me, the one they have pierced, and they will mourn for him as one mourns for an only child, and grieve bitterly for him as one grieves for a firstborn son. (Zecharyah 12:10)
And the Talmud says,
“And the land shall mourn, every family apart; the family of the house of David apart, and their wives apart... What is the reason for the mourning? R. Dosa and the Rabbis differ on the point. One explained, ‘The cause is the slaying of Mashiach the son of Yosef’, and the other explained, ‘The cause is the slaying of the Evil Inclination.’” (After some discussion, they concluded:) “It is well according to him who explains that the cause is the slaying of Mashiach the son of Yosef, since that well agrees with the Scriptural verse, ‘And they shall look upon me because they have thrust him through, and they shall mourn for him as one mourneth for his only son.’” (Mas. Shabbath 33a)
What seems to emerge from these prophetic texts and the commentaries after them is that the prophesies of the suffering servant may vaguely allude to the historical sufferings of the people of Israel. But more specifically, the prophesies speak of the sufferings of Messiah ben Yoseph as the one who takes upon himself the infirmities and diseases of his people and makes atonement on their behalf.
This is what the Zohar means where it says
When the Mashiach hears of the great suffering of Israel in their dispersion, and of the wicked amongst them who seek not to know their Master, he weeps aloud on account of those wicked ones amongst them, as it is written: "But he was wounded because of our transgression, he was crushed because of our iniquities." ...The Mashiach, on his part, enters a certain Hall in the Garden of Eden, called the Hall of the Afflicted. There he calls for all the diseases and pains and sufferings of Israel, bidding them settle on himself, which they do. And were it not that he thus eases the burden from Israel, taking it on himself, no one could endure the sufferings meted out to Israel in expiation on account of their neglect of the Torah. So Scripture says; "Surely our diseases he did bear." As long as Israel were in the Holy Land, by means of the Temple service and sacrifices they averted all evil diseases and afflictions from the world. Now it is the Mashiach who is the means of averting them from mankind until the time when a man quits this world and receives his punishment....
Thus, Messiah ben Yoseph's sufferings are believed by some ancient Jewish Torah scholars to be on behalf of the people of Israel.
While modern day Jews may continue to deny that Yeshua ("Jesus") was the promised Messiah ben Yoseph, they cannot deny what many of their own have acknowledged - that Isaiah 53 is indeed speaking prophetically of the promised Messiah, who was to suffer vicariously on behalf of his people.
The Messianic Scriptures present a clear picture of Yahusha of Nazareth fulfilling the picture of the suffering Servant prophesies. In Yeshayahu 42:1-4:, we are given a glimpse of the Messianic deliverer:
Here is my servant, whom I uphold, my chosen one in whom I delight; I will put my Spirit on him and he will bring justice to the nations. He will not shout or cry out, or raise his voice in the streets. A bruised reed he will not break, and a smoldering wick he will not snuff out. In faithfulness he will bring forth justice; he will not falter or be discouraged till he establishes justice on earth. In his law the islands will put their hope."
The picture of him is twofold in nature. He will be "gentle" as he will not "break a bruised reed." But he will also be strong as he establishes justice in the land.
Mattityahu's gospel tells the account of Yahusha healing the sick as a fulfillment of Yeshayahu's prophesy of the Servant of Yahuwah who comes meekly:
Many followed him, and he healed all their sick, warning them not to tell who he was. This was to fulfill what was spoken through the prophet Yeshayahu: "Here is my servant whom I have chosen, the one I love, in whom I delight; I will put my Spirit on him, and he will proclaim justice to the nations. He will not quarrel or cry out; no one will hear his voice in the streets. A bruised reed he will not break, and a smoldering wick he will not snuff out, till he leads justice to victory. In his name the nations will put their hope." Then they brought him a demon-possessed man who was blind and mute, and Yahusha healed him, so that he could both talk and see. All the people were astonished and said, "Could this be the Son of David?" (Matthew 12:15-23)
Also, the Fourth Gospel account begins with Yochanan the Immerser pointing out Yahusha as the very Lamb from Elohim:
Now some Pharisees who had been sent questioned him, "Why then do you baptize if you are not the Messiah, nor Eliyahu, nor the Prophet?" "I baptize with water," Yochanan replied, "but among you stands one you do not know. He is the one who comes after me, the thongs of whose sandals I am not worthy to untie." This all happened at Bethany on the other side of the Yarden, where Yochanan was baptizing. The next day Yochanan saw Yahusha coming toward him and said, "Look, the Lamb of Elohim, who takes away the sin of the world! This is the one I meant when I said, 'A man who comes after me has surpassed me because he was before me.' I myself did not know him, but the reason I came baptizing with water was that he might be revealed to Yisrael." (4th Gospel 1:24-31)
And again, Yochanan reveals the same:
The next day Yochanan was there again with two of his disciples. When he saw Yahusha passing by, he said, "Look, the Lamb of Elohim!" When the two disciples heard him say this, they followed Yahusha. (4th Gospel 1:35-37)
By announcing Yahusha as the Lamb of Elohim, Yochanan was clearly alluding to the well known prophesy of Yeshayahu 53:7-8, where the prophet says,
He was oppressed and afflicted, yet he did not open his mouth; he was led like a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is silent, so he did not open his mouth. By oppression and judgment he was taken away. And who can speak of his descendants? For he was cut off from the land of the living; for the transgression of my people he was stricken.
This "lamb" of Isaiah 53 is the one who bears the "transgression of my people."
Yochanan's reference to the Lamb of Elohim also calls to mind not only the numerous instances in the Torah where a lamb was to be slaughtered to provide atonement and forgiveness of sins, but to the Pesach. The Pesach, according to Torah, was to be a year old lamb:
Tell the whole community of Yisrael that on the tenth day of this month each man is to take a lamb for his family, one for each household. If any household is too small for a whole lamb, they must share one with their nearest neighbor, having taken into account the number of people there are. You are to determine the amount of lamb needed in accordance with what each person will eat. The animals you choose must be year-old males without defect, and you may take them from the sheep or the goats. Take care of them until the fourteenth day of the month, when all the people of the community of Yisrael must slaughter them at twilight. Then they are to take some of the blood and put it on the sides and tops of the doorframes of the houses where they eat the lambs. (Shemot 12:3-7)
This Pesach lamb was to take the place (substitute) for the firstborn son of the house.
In each house that night, where the lamb was not slaughtered and its blood splattered on the doorpost and lintel of the house, the firstborn was put to death. But in those houses who slaughtered the yearling male lamb, and who splattered its blood at the entrance of the home, the firstborn were spared and allowed to live. Thus, the Lamb was killed in their stead.
The writers of the New Testament recognized that Yahusha's death was in fulfillment of the picture of the Pesach lamb. Shimon Kepha, also called Simon Peter, wrote of the death of Messiah:
For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your forefathers, but with the precious blood of Messiah, a lamb without blemish or defect. He was chosen before the creation of the world, but was revealed in these last times for your sake. Through him you believe in Elohim, who raised him from the dead and glorified him, and so your faith and hope are in Elohim. (1 Peter 1:18-21)
The "lamb without blemish or defect" is obviously a reference to the Pesach lamb. This redemption Kepha writes about is accomplished according to the Torah by the slaughtering of the innocent lamb.
The apostle Sha'ul (aka Paul) also makes this same identification.
Get rid of the old yeast that you may be a new batch without yeast-- as you really are. For Messiah, our Pesach lamb, has been sacrificed. Therefore let us keep the Festival, not with the old yeast, the yeast of malice and wickedness, but with bread without yeast, the bread of sincerity and truth. (1 Corinthians 5:7-8)
For Sha'ul, the death of Messiah as our Pesach lamb provides a reason why sin should no longer be tolerated in the assembly. He calls for the expulsion of the brother who flagrantly transgresses Torah.
So we have clear testimony in the New Testament that the disciples of the Master understood Yahusha's passion and death as a fulfillment of the picture and type of the Pesach sacrifice.
Great and long lasting has been the disagreement between Roman Catholics and Protestants over the teaching by the Master regarding his flesh and blood. I have no grand delusion that my brief comments here are going to end this debate and set everyone straight on this topic. Nevertheless, what I have to say about it is pertinent and should be considered by those who are open-minded to change and want to know the truth.
The Fourth Gospel tells the account of a curious teaching by the Master Yahusha. This teaching provoked many of his disciples to leave him. They were so appalled at what he was saying that they could no longer stomach listening to him and following him.
Yahusha had fed a large hungry crowd by multiplying 5 barley loaves and 2 fish. He had then passed over the sea by walking on the water. The crowds were looking for him - evidently for another meal!
When they found him on the other side of the lake, they asked him, "Rabbi, when did you get here?" Yahusha answered, "I tell you the truth, you are looking for me, not because you saw miraculous signs but because you ate the loaves and had your fill. Do not work for food that spoils, but for food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you. On him Elohim the Father has placed his seal of approval." (4th Gospel 6:25-27)
Yahusha turned the occasion of the people seeking another free meal into a discussion of seeking the really important food - that of the Word of Elohim. Having engaged the people, they inquired about what he meant:
Then they asked him, "What must we do to do the works Elohim requires?" Yahusha answered, "The work of Elohim is this: to believe in the one he has sent." So they asked him, "What miraculous sign then will you give that we may see it and believe you? What will you do? Our forefathers ate the manna in the desert; as it is written: 'He gave them bread from heaven to eat.'" Yahusha said to them, "I tell you the truth, it is not Mosheh who has given you the bread from heaven, but it is my Father who gives you the true bread from heaven. For the bread of Elohim is he who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world." "Sir," they said, "from now on give us this bread." Then Yahusha declared, "I am the bread of life. He who comes to me will never go hungry, and he who believes in me will never be thirsty. (6:28-35)
The manna which Yahuwah fed the people in the wilderness was only a picture to illustrate the true bread coming down from heaven which would give eternal life to those who eat it. Yahusha declares that he himself is that bread from heaven.
Next, he describes his purpose in coming down out of heaven:
But as I told you, you have seen me and still you do not believe. All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never drive away. For I have come down from heaven not to do my will but to do the will of him who sent me. And this is the will of him who sent me, that I shall lose none of all that he has given me, but raise them up at the last day. For my Father's will is that everyone who looks to the Son and believes in him shall have eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day." (6:36-40)
His mission is to do the Father's will (teach and keep Torah) and ultimately to raise up all those who belong to Elohim. But the Yehudim didn't receive his teaching that he came down from heaven:
At this the Yehudim began to grumble about him because he said, "I am the bread that came down from heaven." They said, "Is this not Yahusha, the son of Yoseph, whose father and mother we know? How can he now say, 'I came down from heaven'?" "Stop grumbling among yourselves," Yahusha answered. "No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him, and I will raise him up at the last day. It is written in the Prophets: 'They will all be taught by Elohim.' Everyone who listens to the Father and learns from him comes to me. No one has seen the Father except the one who is from Elohim; only he has seen the Father. I tell you the truth, he who believes has everlasting life. (41-47)
Since the Father sent this "Bread" from heaven, his people ought to receive this bread. Yahusha is that "Bread".
Next comes the controversial part. Yahusha tells his audience that they must eat this bread, which is his flesh!
I am the bread of life. Your forefathers ate the manna in the desert, yet they died. But here is the bread that comes down from heaven, which a man may eat and not die. 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." Then the Yehudim began to argue sharply among themselves, "How can this man give us his flesh to eat?" Yahusha said to them, "I tell you the truth, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day. For my flesh is real food and my blood is real drink. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me, and I in him. Just as the living Father sent me and I live because of the Father, so the one who feeds on me will live because of me. This is the bread that came down from heaven. Your forefathers ate manna and died, but he who feeds on this bread will live forever."(6:48-58)
Yahusha's words, taken literally, are extremely offensive. How could anyone eat the flesh and drink the blood of another human being? It's an appalling thought - in any culture or place in the world, or at any time in human history. Cannibalism is not an acceptable human practice and is deeply disgusting. So, many left him after that teaching:
This he said this while teaching in the synagogue in Capernaum. On hearing it, many of his disciples said, "This is a hard teaching. Who can accept it?" Aware that his disciples were grumbling about this, Yahusha said to them, "Does this offend you? What if you see the Son of Man ascend to where he was before! The Spirit gives life; the flesh counts for nothing. The words I have spoken to you are spirit and they are life. Yet there are some of you who do not believe." For Yahusha had known from the beginning which of them did not believe and who would betray him. He went on to say, "This is why I told you that no one can come to me unless the Father has enabled him." From this time many of his disciples turned back and no longer followed him. "You do not want to leave too, do you?" Yahusha asked the Twelve. Shimon Kepha answered him, "Master, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. We believe and know that you are the Holy One of Israel. (6:59-69)
So why did these disciples leave the Master at this time? Because they were offended when they interpreted what he had just said as literal. They thought that the Master was actually instructing them to eat his flesh and drink his blood!
Yet, this is what the Master said, isn't it? Some point out that the Greek word employed in verses 54, 56, 57 and 58 is trw,gw (pronounced trōgō). This word means strictly to crunch; literally, of animals gnaw, nibble, chew. Thus, these verses could rightly be translated:
Whoever chews my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day. For my flesh is real food and my blood is real drink. Whoever chews my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me, and I in him. Just as the living Father sent me and I live because of the Father, so the one who chews on me will live because of me. This is the bread that came down from heaven. Your forefathers ate manna and died, but he who chews on this bread will live forever."
Since Yahusha taught his disciples "to chew" on his flesh, some today believe that we should literally be doing this.
The Roman Catholic doctrine called transubstantiation basically says that the bread wafer and wine of communion is transformed into the literal flesh and blood of Messiah when the priest so blesses it. Although the bread and wine may continue to take the form of a wafer cracker and grape juice in a cup, that is only its form. Its actual substance, though, is the literal body and blood of Christ. Thus, Roman Catholics believe they are chewing on Jesus' literal flesh and drinking down his literal blood when they take communion.
Is this a valid interpretation of Scripture? Is it possible that Messiah wants his disciples to actually chew on his flesh and drink his blood? I would answer, "NO", and provide you with the following reasons why this is simply impossible and unthinkable.
First, we understand that Messiah came to uphold the Torah and teach the true meaning of the Torah to his disciples. He made this very clear in his teaching as recorded in the Gospel of Matthew:
Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. I tell you the truth, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished. (Matthew 5:17-18)
If not even the least detail of the Law was to be done away with, and is to be valid until heaven and earth pass away, then we can be sure that every detail of the Law was kept by Messiah because heaven and earth are still with us (We're here, aren't we?). Furthermore, we should be doing the same.
This being the case, then Messiah always obeyed the Torah in every detail. He could not break or transgress the Torah. This was his mission - to teach Torah as the correct walk of faith for his disciples. This agrees with the prophecy which states that Messiah would teach the Torah to the nations:
In the last days the mountain of Yahuwah's temple will be established as chief among the mountains; it will be raised above the hills, and peoples will stream to it. Many nations will come and say, "Come, let us go up to the mountain of Yahuwah, to the house of the Elohim of Ya'acov. He will teach us his ways, so that we may walk in his paths." The Torah will go out from Zion, the word of Yahuwah from Yerushalayim. (Micah 4:1-2)
This prophecy speaks of the time when Messiah will rule and reign in Jerusalem. Since this has not yet happened, we can be sure that Messiah will do this soon. And since Messiah will teach Torah to the nations, we can easily see and conclude that Messiah did not do away with the Torah when he came as Messiah ben Yoseph - the Suffering Servant.
Now the Torah provides detailed instructions on what flesh is fit for human consumption. Though the eating of human flesh is not specifically addressed by the Torah (the very thought of it is sickening and so did not need to be singled out), the Torah does tell us what animals may and what animals may not be eaten:
Of all the animals that live on land, these are the ones you may eat: You may eat any animal that has a split hoof completely divided and that chews the cud. 'There are some that only chew the cud or only have a split hoof, but you must not eat them. The camel, though it chews the cud, does not have a split hoof; it is ceremonially unclean for you. The coney, though it chews the cud, does not have a split hoof; it is unclean for you. The rabbit, though it chews the cud, does not have a split hoof; it is unclean for you. And the pig, though it has a split hoof completely divided, does not chew the cud; it is unclean for you. You must not eat their meat or touch their carcasses; they are unclean for you. (Vayiqra [Leviticus] 11:2-8)
Since the last time I looked, humans do not have a split hoof and do not chew the cud, then humans cannot be eaten by humans. They, like the pig, camel and rabbit, are unclean to us.
The Hebrew word for "unclean" is amej', (pronounced tǎmā) which means unclean, polluted, defiled. So, eating anything that is unclean would defile us. A synonym for unclean is used throughout Vayiqra 11. That word is #q,v, (pronounced shekets) and it means abomination, detestation. The teaching says that we should detest and abominate those things which are unclean for us. It should be disgusting to us to even think about eating those animals, birds and fish which Elohim has declared to be unclean to us. As such, eating human flesh is also a detestable practice which would pollute and defile us.
How do we know that eating human flesh is detestable and an abomination in the eyes of Yahuwah? Simply because he gave us clear instruction about what flesh is considered to be clean and could be eaten.
You may eat any animal that has a split hoof completely divided and that chews the cud. (Vayiqra [Leviticus] 11"3)
That's it! It is that simple. And since humans do not have a split hoof, nor do they chew the cud, that, by definition, makes human flesh an abomination as a food source.
Not only does the Torah insinuate human flesh to be unclean and detestable to us as food, but there is clear instruction that blood is never to be drunk. It is an abomination to drink any kind of blood. Such an action separates us from fellowship with the living Elohim and with his people.
Any son of Yisrael or any alien living among them who eats any blood-- I will set my face against that person who eats blood and will cut him off from his people. For the life of a creature is in the blood, and I have given it to you to make atonement for yourselves on the altar; it is the blood that makes atonement for one's life. Therefore I say to the sons of Yisrael, "None of you may eat blood, nor may an alien living among you eat blood." Any son Yisrael or any alien living among you who hunts any animal or bird that may be eaten must drain out the blood and cover it with earth, because the life of every creature is its blood. That is why I have said to the sons of Yisrael, "You must not eat the blood of any creature, because the life of every creature is its blood; anyone who eats it must be cut off." (Vayiqra 17:10-14)
Eating the blood of any creature is such a grave offense to Elohim that anyone who does it is cut off from the people and community and shut out of the presence of Elohim.
Not only does the Torah teach that eating blood is forbidden and a grave offense, but the New Testament emphasizes this teaching as well. When the elders of the assembly in Jerusalem gathered to discuss the issue of what would be required of new Gentile converts, they decided that four things would be necessary for the Gentiles to comply with in order to be accepted into the Messianic community:
It is my judgment, therefore, that we should not make it difficult for the Gentiles who are turning to Elohim. Instead we should write to them, telling them to abstain from food polluted by idols, from sexual immorality, from the meat of strangled animals and from blood. (Acts 15:19-20)
The meat of strangled animals would still have blood in them and those who eat strangled animals would also be consuming the animal's blood as well. So the third and fourth requirement both have to do with the prohibition in the Torah of drinking blood. For all New Testament believers in Messiah, drinking blood is still an abomination.
Since it is so clear that eating human flesh and drinking blood are both strictly forbidden by Elohim, how could it enter anyone's mind that the Messiah whose mission is to uphold the Torah of Elohim could be suggesting that his followers not only break these two commandments of Torah, but also eat and drink his own flesh and blood. Such a concept is so far askew from proper behavior for anyone with the remotest understanding of morality and ethical conduct, that it boggles the mind how anyone could attribute such behavior to the righteous Messiah who came to save us from such sin!
When we read that Messiah was teaching the crowds that they must eat his flesh and drink his blood, it surely is obvious that he was not speaking literally. He must be speaking figuratively. His words must carry another meaning, or else he could not be the true Messiah - because the true Messiah upholds the Torah as the proper walk of faith for those who love Elohim.
There is additional support in the Gospels that Yahusha spoke figuratively. Matthew's gospel tells us that Yahusha spoke to the people in parables but that he spoke plainly and clearly to his disciples:
Yahusha spoke all these things to the crowd in parables; he did not say anything to them without using a parable. So was fulfilled what was spoken through the prophet: "I will open my mouth in parables, I will utter things hidden since the creation of the world." (Matthew 13:34-35)
If it was his habit of speaking to the crowds in parables, in order to fulfill was was written about him in the Psalms (the quote is from Psalm 78), then why is it even debated about his words at this time to the crowds?
Also, the reason Messiah spoke in parables explains the reaction of the crowds in leaving him.
The disciples came to him and asked, "Why do you speak to the people in parables?" He replied, "The knowledge of the secrets of the kingdom of heaven has been given to you, but not to them. Whoever has will be given more, and he will have an abundance. Whoever does not have, even what he has will be taken from him. This is why I speak to them in parables: "Though seeing, they do not see; though hearing, they do not hear or understand. In them is fulfilled the prophecy of Yeshayahu: "'You will be ever hearing but never understanding; you will be ever seeing but never perceiving. For this people's heart has become calloused; they hardly hear with their ears, and they have closed their eyes. Otherwise they might see with their eyes, hear with their ears, understand with their hearts and turn, and I would heal them.' But blessed are your eyes because they see, and your ears because they hear. (Mathew 13:10-16)
He taught the crowds in parables because they did not believe him to obey him, just as the gospel account tells us:
For Yahusha had known from the beginning which of them did not believe.
The crowds are always looking for an excuse to go their own way. Their hearts are hard and they don't want to follow.
When he spoke, then, about eating his flesh and drinking his blood, it is obvious why so many people left him after he said those words. They thought he actually wanted his followers to eat his flesh and drink his blood. No reasonable person would do that. They didn't understand that he was speaking figuratively. And they didn't believe him to be the Messiah anyway. But his true disciples didn't leave him. Their response as to why they weren't leaving was:
Shimon Kepha answered him, "Master, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. We believe and know that you are the Holy One of Israel. (4th Gospel 6:69)
So just what did Yahusha mean by eating his flesh and drinking his blood? Since he must have been speaking in a parable, what was he alluding to in his figurative speech? The clue is given to us at the beginning of the account of this curious teaching about his flesh and blood.
Some time after this, Yahusha crossed to the far shore of the Sea of Galilee (that is, the Sea of Tiberias), and a great crowd of people followed him because they saw the miraculous signs he had performed on the sick. Then Yahusha went up on a mountainside and sat down with his disciples. The Yehudi Pesach Feast was near. (4th Gospel 6:1-4)
This entire episode of the feeding of the 5000 and the subsequent teaching about the Bread coming down out of heaven and the requirement of his disciples to "eat his flesh and drink his blood" was set in the context of the arriving of the season of Pesach. Messiah was teaching the deeper meaning of the Pesach! He was teaching his disciples the symbolic meaning of the bread and wine of Passover as a representation of his flesh and blood. Thus, the eating of unleavened bread and the drinking of the wine was, figuratively speaking, like eating his flesh and drinking his blood.
Messiah Yahusha himself effectively endorsed the annual observance of the Passover with all its customs, which is a retelling of the story of redemption, when he instructed his disciples to "do this" with him in mind:
Then he took bread, and after giving thanks he broke it and gave it to them, saying, "This is my body which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me" (Luke 22:19).
The annual retelling of the story of the working of the powerful hand of Yahuwah is a feature of the appointed time of the Pesach. Every man is to retell the account of how Yahuwah cut a covenant with his people and of the redemption (rescue) he enacted to deliver them from the bondage of slavery. This deliverance provides the basis for Yahuwah's insistence that his people obey his commandments.
Through the prophet Yirmeyahu (Jeremiah, chapter 31), Yahuwah had later promised a renewal of the Covenant he made with them at Sinai. This renewal of the agreement between Yahuwah and his people was to place the Laws of Elohim upon the minds and hearts of his people.
This is precisely the same Covenant which Yahusha was renewing with his disciples as he explained that the new understanding of the elements of the Pesach were to be with reference to himself. Paul recalls these well known words of Yahusha:
For I received from Yahuwah what I also passed on to you, that the Master Yahusha on the night in which he was betrayed took bread, and after he had given thanks he broke it and said, "This is my body, which is for you. Do this in remembrance of me." In the same way, he also took the cup after supper, saying, "This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, every time you drink it, in remembrance of me." For every time you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim Yahusha's death until he comes (1 Corinthians 11:23-27).
The covenant Yahuwah made with his ancient people was enacted by the blood of the lamb. Likewise, the "new covenant" was put into effect by Yahusha's blood ("my blood").
Yahusha Himself even plainly told his disciples that his death had to occur at an appointed time:
He replied, "Go into the city to a certain man and tell him, 'The Teacher says: My appointed time is near.'" (Matthew 26:18)
Now, many Christians have no clue what Yahusha meant by "my appointed time." But his disciples have a respect for the Torah and knew precisely what he was alluding to. Israel's life was framed around the scriptural "appointed times" - the Sabbath day, the three annual feasts and the seven annual set-apart days. So his disciples knew he was alluding to a specific calendar day when he spoke of "my appointed time."
Yahusha was suggesting that the Pesach was His appointed time. And in fact, He was to die on that very Pesach as the Pesach lamb! Yahusha's death was to occur at the annual appointed time of Pesach and was to be incorporated into those historical events which were to be "remembered" from year to year at the set time. This is the context for the "Lord's Supper." Messiah was instructing us that when we do the Pesach, according to the commandment of the Father, that we should be remembering him and his death for us in the doing of the Pesach.
In the eating of his flesh and in the drinking of his blood, he was drawing an analogy between the eating of the unleavened bread of Pesach and the drinking of the wine of Pesach with his own flesh and blood. The wine, he explained, is the blood of the renewed covenant:
Then he took the cup, gave thanks and offered it to them, saying, "Drink from it, all of you. This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins. (Matthew 26:27-28)
His blood, which he was about to shed, is the shedding of blood of the renewal of the covenant. This is what the wine of Pesach represents. And the unleavened bread of Pesach represents his flesh which is given up for us:
While they were eating, Yahusha took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to his disciples, saying, "Take and eat; this is my body." (Matthew 26:26)
Thus, because he was giving up his flesh and shedding his blood on Pesach as the Pesach lamb of Elohim, we are to remember his death in the eating of the unleavened bread and wine of Pesach.
There is an apparent contradiction in the four gospel accounts of the ministry of Yahusha. Mattityahu, Mark and Luke read like Messiah ate the Pesach (Passover) with his disciples. Yochanan's account indicates that Messiah became the Pesach (Passover lamb) with his death on the tree. But Yahusha could not have both eaten the Pesach and then have become the Pesach. So which is it?
This problem had confused me for years. And I had interpreted and taught the wrong answer to the above question. My reasoning was that the 3 accounts of Mattityahu, Mark and Luke were a stronger witness than the single testimony of the Fourth Gospel, known as "John." The Torah tells us that on the testimony of 2 or 3 witnesses a thing is established. Thus I was inclined to side with the testimony of the 3 synoptic gospels and assumed that the Fourth Gospel's retelling of the story was faulty.
Mattityahu tells us:
Now on the first day of the feast of
Unleavened Bread the disciples came to Yahusha and said, "Where do you want
us to prepare for you to eat the Pesach?"
Mark's account says,
Now on the first day of the feast of Unleavened Bread, when the Pesach lamb is sacrificed, Yahusha disciples said to him, "Where do you want us to prepare for you to eat the Pesach?" He sent two of his disciples and told them, "Go into the city, and a man carrying a jar of water will meet you. Follow him. Wherever he enters, tell the owner of the house, 'The Teacher says, "Where is my guest room where I may eat the Pesach with my disciples?"' He will show you a large room upstairs, furnished and ready. Make preparations for us there." So the disciples left, went into the city, and found things just as he had told them, and they prepared the Pesach. (Mark 14:12-16)
And Luke writes:
Then the day for the feast of Unleavened Bread came, on which the Pesach lamb had to be sacrificed. Yahusha sent Peter and Yochanan, saying, "Go and prepare the Pesach for us to eat." They said to him, "Where do you want us to prepare it?" He said to them, "Listen, when you have entered the city, a man carrying a jar of water will meet you. Follow him into the house that he enters, and tell the owner of the house, 'The Teacher says to you, "Where is the guest room where I may eat the Pesach with my disciples?"' Then he will show you a large furnished room upstairs. Make preparations there." So they went and found things just as he had told them, and they prepared the Pesach. Now when the hour came, Yahusha took his place at the table and the apostles joined him. And he said to them, "I have earnestly desired to eat this Pesach with you before I suffer. (Luke 22:7-15)
But the Fourth Gospel informs us:
Then they brought Yahusha from Caiaphas to the Roman governor's residence. (Now it was very early morning.) They did not go into the governor's residence so they would not be ceremonially defiled, but could eat the Pesach meal. (18:28)
(Now it was the day of preparation for the Pesach, about noon.) Pilate said to the Jewish leaders, "Look, here is your king!" (19:14)
Clearly, just by what is cited above, the first 3 gospels are telling one story, while the Fourth Gospel another. The 3 Gospels indicate that Yahusha was eating the Pesach with his disciples on the evening in which he was later betrayed. But the Fourth Gospel tells us Yahusha was being tried and was subsequently sent to his death prior to the onset of the Pesach meal being eaten.
But I am convinced by the evidence that the Fourth Gospel's account is accurate, while the other 3 are not - at least in the form that they have been passed on to us. So what is that evidence? First of all, since Yahusha could not have both eaten the Pesach and then become the Pesach, the important question is: which of those two did he HAVE to do? The Torah requires all to eat of the Pesach. So, if Messiah ate the Peach in obedience to the Torah, he then could not have been the fulfillment of the Pesach lamb the next day. But if he became the Pesach on the correct day - the 14th of Aviv, then he would have been dead when the Pesach meal was eaten. Thus being dead, he would not have been required to eat the Pesach.
The pattern that was established long ago, and was pictured in the appointed times of Vayiqra 23 requires that the Messiah become the Pesach and die as the Pesach on the 14th of Aviv. All of the appointed times tell the story of the redemption plan, beginning with the death of the Lamb on the 14th of the 1st month of the Hebrew calendar. Thus, since Messiah had to fulfill the Pesach, he did NOT have to eat the Pesach - because he would have already fulfilled his mission and have been in the grave when the roasted Pesach lambs were eaten that night.
Scriptures that support the premise that Yahusha HAD TO BE the Pesach that year are as follows:
On the next day Yochanan saw Yahusha coming toward him and said, "Look, the Lamb of Elohim who takes away the sin of the world! (Fourth Gospel 1:29)
Clean out the old yeast so that you may be a new batch of dough--you are, in fact, without yeast. For Messiah, our Pesach lamb, has been sacrificed. (1 Corinthians 5:7)
You know that from your empty way of life inherited from your ancestors you were ransomed--not by perishable things like silver or gold, but by precious blood like that of an unblemished and spotless lamb, namely Messiah. (1 Peter 1:18-19)
And in the book of Revelation, there are about 25 references to Messiah as "the Lamb" - a clear reference to his fulfillment of the Pesach sacrifice of the one-year old lamb.
In addition to this are the allusions to the death of Messiah as being a fulfillment of the lamb sacrifice at the appointed time of Pesach:
So Yahusha replied, "My appointed time has not yet arrived, but you are ready at any opportunity! The world cannot hate you, but it hates me, because I am testifying about it that its deeds are evil. You go up to the feast yourselves. I am not going up to this feast because my appointed time has not yet fully arrived." (Fourth Gospel 7:6-8)
So then they tried to seize Yahusha, but no one laid a hand on him, because his apppointed time had not yet come. (Fourth Gospel 7:30)
(Yahusha spoke these words near the offering box while he was teaching in the temple courts. No one seized him because his appointed time had not yet come.) (Fourth Gospel 8:20)
He said, "Go into the city to a certain man and tell him, 'The Teacher says, "My appointed time is near. (Mattityahu 26:18)
Just before the Pesach feast, Yahusha knew that his appointed time had come to depart from this world to the Father. (Fourth Gospel 13:1)
When Yahusha had finished saying these things, he looked upward to heaven and said, "Father, the appointed time has come. Glorify your Son, so that your Son may glorify you-- (Fourth Gospel 7:1)
The appointed time of the Messiah's death was pictured thousands of years ago in the festival that is Pesach. This picture of the substitute offering of atonement had to occur at an exact time. This appointed time must occur on the 14th day of the 1st month of the new year, between the evenings (between midday and sunset). And this is exactly when Messiah died on the tree:
At about three o'clock Yahusha shouted with a loud voice, "Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?" that is, "My Elohim, my Elohim, why have you forsaken me?" When some of the bystanders heard it, they said, "This man is calling for Eliyahu." Immediately one of them ran and got a sponge, filled it with sour wine, put it on a stick, and gave it to him to drink. But the rest said, "Leave him alone! Let's see if Eliyahu will come to save him." Then Yahusha cried out again with a loud voice and gave up his spirit. (Mattityahu 27:46-50)
How do we explain the discrepancies of the other 3 gospels? Likely what happened is as follows: The synoptic gospels were originally written in the Hebrew tongue by the eyewitnesses, who were all Jewish and Hebrew speaking. When these accounts were translated into the Greek language, this was done by Greek speaking people of the Greek culture who were unfamiliar with Hebrew culture and customs. They misunderstood the Hebrew customs and practices surrounding Pesach, and therefore misunderstood the series of events which took place. Thus, mistakes were made in translating to Greek because the translators had a foreign point of reference. These mistakes were most likely unintentional, although, a more cynical possibility is that some of the changing of the account may have been an intentional effort to remove the Hebraic and Jewish flavor of this historic event by Hellenists and Jew-haters.
In times long ago, there was a need for an annual reminder of the sinful human nature and their need to be redeemed and set free from their sins. The Pesach sacrifice was that reminder for ancient Israel. But the situation has changed since those ancient times. Yahuwah's presence left the temple and Yerushalayim a long time ago, and Yahusha came and "fulfilled" the Pesach by becoming the Pesach with his death on the tree. For this reason, most people you talk to will insist that there is no more need to actually slaughter and eat an animal at Pesach. It is enough, in their reasoning, that Messiah is our Pesach, and that his death on the tree once and for all fulfilled the requirements of the Pesach ritual. Sounds reasonable, doesn't it?
Well, that's not the end of the story. The truth is, that none of the animals sacrificed before the death of Messiah, nor any animal sacrifices after the death of Messiah can take the place of Yahusha's "once for all" self-sacrifice on the tree. Every one of the lambs killed before the time of Messiah were merely a picture and foreshadow of Messiah's death on the tree. And any and all lambs slaughtered after the fact are the same - they serve to remind us of the death of Messiah. Similarly, each one of the appointed times serves to remind us of the past redemptive acts of Elohim and to foreshadow the future redemptive acts.
For this reason, there is no logic behind the thinking that the animal no longer should be killed and eaten according to the Instructions of Scripture. The command of Yahuwah is clear: select a perfect one year old and slaughter it on the 14th and roast it over a fire and eat is with bitter herbs and unleavened bread. Why is this command shunned and those who would obey the command are shamed and humiliated? Why are we so quick to abandon the practice which Yahuwah established because we think it is barbaric to slaughter an animal?
Every day, all over the world, animals are slaughtered and prepared for eating. Nobody seems to think there is anything wrong with our food processing establishments killing the animals and packaging them for human consumption. So why do believers in Messiah believe the lie that it is barbaric to slaughter and roast and eat a lamb or a goat at the time of the year which Yahuwah has commanded it?
Shouldn't we rather just obey our heavenly Father and celebrate the anniversary of the great redemption at the time commanded and according to all of its laws and rulings? Yes, we should. And let's put to rest the absurd arguments to the contrary which amount to an abrogation of Yahuwah's Word.
This observance will be for you like a sign on your hand and a reminder on your forehead that the law of Yahuwah is to be on your lips. For Yahuwah brought you out of Mitzrayim with his mighty hand. You must keep this ordinance at the appointed time year after year (Shemot 13:9-10).
It is right and proper to kill the Pesach animal and eat it according to the instructions of the Creator of heaven and earth. It is not only our right to do this, but it is an affirmation of our trust in Yahuwah and his authority to be Elohim over us.
Pesach is for all of Israel, including the "New Testament" people of Elohim. It was intended to remember the liberation from Mitzrayim and also to foreshadow and then to remember the Messiah's shed blood making atonement for his people. Yahusha commanded his disciples to remember his death for them every year at the Appointed Time with the eating of the Unleavened Bread and the drinking of the wine. This commandment was not just given to his Jewish followers. He wants all who love him to remember his death for them at the anniversary of his death - at Pesach. And so, this is what all believers of our generation should be doing. It's time to get rid of the ridiculous and offensive Easter basket with all its pagan attachments and follow the Messiah by obeying his instructions and doing his perpetual statutes, including the Pesach and Feast of Unleavened Bread.
Written by David M Rogers
Published: July 2010
Written by David M Rogers
Published: July 2010