The first Passover was observed by the children of Israel in the land of Egypt, on the eve of their departure out of the house of bondage into the wilderness. It was the evening of the fourteenth day of the first month. God had raised up a deliverer for the people in the person of the Man Moses, and had equipped him with such power and authority in the Spirit that he was to Pharaoh even “as God.” Many and dreadful and great were the signs and wonders which were wrought by his hand, so that Egypt became utterly wasted at the hands of a God of judgment. One by one the plagues fell upon the land; and time and again Pharaoh promised to let the people go, only to harden his heart when the plague was lifted. Finally God declared His judgment upon the firstborn of all the land of Egypt--and then Egypt was literally “glad” to see the people depart, so dreadful and far-reaching was the destruction of the Almighty.
A NEW BEGINNING
“And the Lord spake unto Moses and Aaron in the land of Egypt, saying, This month shall be unto you the beginning of months: it shall be the first month of the year to you” (Ex. 12:1,2). As from this date Israel was to have a new calendar. It was to be the first month instead of the second, because God was going to deliver them from Egyptian bondage, and bring them into a new experience and into a new land. Israel’s old associations were to be gone forever. No longer would they serve the Egyptian taskmaster under hard bondage, but they were to serve the Lord their God. No longer were they to eat the leeks and onions and garlic of Egypt, but they would feast upon manna from heaven, and drink water out of the flinty rock. No longer would they abide in the houses of their little world in Egypt, but they would henceforth follow the cloud of glory from one place to another, from one experience to another, even from “glory to glory.” Had not the Lord plainly declared, “I have surely seen the affliction of my people which are in Egypt, and have heard their cry by reason of their taskmasters; for I know their sorrows; and I am come down to deliver them.” (Ex. 3:7,8). And so, to deliver Israel from the judgment of the firstborn, and to prepare them for a new life as a separated and holy nation, God instituted the Passover. And this event would mean the preservation of Israel in the hour of God’s judgments upon the land of Egypt, and the beginning of a new era for the people of God.
So it is that the Cross of Christ becomes the beginning of a new era for the children of God. Old things begin to pass away, and all things begin to become new. The bondage of the world, the flesh, and the Devil, gives way to a liberty in the Spirit, and a life of servitude to the God of our salvation. “Being then made free from sin, ye became the servants of righteousness.” (Rom. 6:18). From the time we receive Christ as our personal Savior, and really partake of the benefits of Calvary’s Cross--from that very hour we begin a new life in God. And whereas, we once served the enemy of our souls under cruel bondage, now we have become the voluntary bond-slaves of Christ. And after all, the only liberty man will ever find in this world is the liberty which he derives in becoming the “slave” of the Lord Jesus. Paul delighted in calling himself a “doulos,” a “bond-slave” of Christ. Man is only free when he is bound to Christ with a chain of love and friendship which neither the cares of life nor the attacks of Satan can sever.
A LAMB FOR AN HOUSE
Our Passover Lamb is sufficient for all our needs. And though men have appropriated His grace and blessing from the foundation of the world even until now--still there remaineth grace sufficient for any sinner who comes to Christ. “And God is able to make all grace abound toward you; that ye, always having all sufficiency in all things may abound to every good work.” (2Cor. 9:8).
THE LAMB TO BE WITHOUT BLEMISH
This was necessary because it typified the true “Lamb of God which taketh away the sin of the world.” (Jn. 1:29). “Forasmuch as ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, from your vain conversation received by tradition from your fathers; but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot.” (1Pet. 1:18,19).
THE LAMB MUST BE KILLED
Modernism will accept the Lamb of God as He teaches in the temple, lives a life of righteousness and purity, and expounds His parables. But they will have nothing to do with the Lamb who was crucified for their sins. And therefore the door of salvation is closed to them. For there is positively no acceptance for any man before God except by the shedding of the precious blood of Christ. It is the blood that maketh atonement for the soul, and “without shedding of blood is no remission.” (Heb. 9:22).
THE BLOOD MUST BE APPLIED
It is not even sufficient that the lamb should be slain; the blood of the slain lamb must be applied to the door-posts of the house. In other words, there must be an individual and personal appropriation, by faith, of the work of the Cross. “Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation (Mercy Seat) through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God; to declare, I say, at this time his righteousness: that he might be just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus”. (Rom. 3:25,26).
THE FLESH MUST BE EATEN
Jesus said, “Verily, verily, I say unto you, except ye eat the flesh of the Son of Man, and drink his blood, ye have no life in you. Whoso eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, hath eternal life; and I will raise him up at the last day. For my flesh is meat indeed, and my blood is drink indeed.” (Jn. 6:53-55). It was a hard saying then, and it is a hard saying today. How can we eat the flesh of Christ? So reasons the natural man. But we can do so by the Spirit, through faith. We may eat His flesh in daily meditation and appropriation of the Word. We may eat His flesh in prayer and communion by the Spirit. And we may eat his flesh as we discern the Lord’s Body in the Communion. Jesus said, and incidentally it was on the occasion of the last Passover, “This is my body which is given for you; this do in remembrance of me.” (Lk. 22:19). For He was the fulfillment of every Passover Lamb which was ever offered in Jewish ceremony; and the Substance having been revealed, the type has passed away.
THE PEOPLE MUST DEPART
The children of Israel were to eat the Passover lamb with their loins girded and with their shoes on their feet--ready to depart from Egypt. The moment a man receives Christ as his Passover Lamb, he must there and then be prepared to depart from the world and all of its allurements. He is not saved by works, and it is entirely unscriptural to teach holiness as the means of salvation. For it is not within the power of any man in Adam’s fallen race to present himself acceptably before God. There is none righteous, no not so much as one; and by the works of the law there shall no flesh be justified in God’s sight. (See Rom. 3:9-31). He receives the efficacy of the blood, and eats of the Passover Lamb by faith--and that constitutes his salvation. But when one identifies himself with Christ he must depart from the world and its corrupting influences, and be prepared to follow his Lord in the pathway of separation and consecration. Then only, by the works of grace produced in the heart, do we behold the scriptural signs and evidences of the salvation of Christ.
THE BLOOD IS THE SIGN
“When I see the blood I will pass over you.” (Ex. 12:13). For our part we must apply the blood by faith to our hearts. Our feet must be shod, and we must be ready to leave the old ways behind. We must participate in Christ, and give evidence of the fact that we are true disciples. But so far as God is concerned He beholds this one token: “When I see the blood I will pass over you.” God is eternally satisfied with the work of Calvary’s Cross, and we as God’s children are “accepted in the Beloved.” (Eph. 1:6). “For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.” (2Cor. 5:21).
‘Five bleeding wounds He bears,
Received on Calvary,
They pour effectual prayers,
They strongly plead for me;
Forgive him, O forgive, they cry,
Nor let that ransomed sinner die.’
O, there are so many, many things that we have left unsaid concerning the Passover Lamb. He is the theme of the whole Bible. All spiritual blessings stem from Calvary, and all power and glory and majesty pertaineth to the Lamb that was slain, and He is therefore “Worthy... to receive power, and riches, and wisdom, and strength, and honour, and glory, and blessing.” (Rev. 5:12).
The observance of the Unleavened Bread followed Passover and was associated with it. So much so that the two events were regarded as being one and the same Feast. We read therefore, “Now the feast of unleavened bread drew nigh, which is called the Passover.” (Lk. 22:1; Matt. 26:17). The Passover event itself was on the fourteenth day of the first month, in the evening. Then the Unleavened Bread continued from the fifteenth day until the twenty-first day, seven days in all.
THE SIGNIFICANCE OF LEAVEN
As to the spiritual significance of the Unleavened Bread we are not left in doubt. Says Paul to the Corinthians, “Know ye not that a little leaven leaveneth the whole lump? Purge out therefore the old leaven, that ye may be a new lump, as ye are unleavened. For even Christ our passover is sacrificed for us; therefore let us keep the feast, not with old leaven, neither with the leaven of malice and wickedness; but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.” (1Cor. 5:6-8).
The penetrating and spreading characteristics of leaven make it to be a fitting type of malice and wickedness in a believer or in an assembly. Paul likens the persuasive and corrupting influence of the Judaizers upon the Galatians to “leaven.” “This persuasion cometh not of him that calleth you. A little leaven leaveneth the whole lump.” (Gal. 5:8,9). Again, our Lord likens the doctrines of the Pharisees and Sadducees to “leaven,” because of their evil influence. “Take heed and beware of the leaven of the Pharisees, and of the Sadducees.” (Matt. 16:6). To observe the Feast of Unleavened Bread, therefore is to live a life that is free from the corrupting influences of sin and the flesh.
HOW TO BE FREE FROM LEAVEN
When the children of Israel departed from Egypt they gathered up their dough before it was leavened, for they did not have opportunity to leaven it, “because they were thrust out of Egypt, and could not tarry.” (Ex. 12:39). Had they lingered in Egypt, they would have had plenty of opportunity to leaven their dough; but because they were thrust out in haste their bread was unleavened.
So it is with the child of God. As long as he is pressing on with God, and fleeing from the corrupting influences of the world, the flesh, and the Devil--his life is free from sin. He does not have “time” for sin to work within him. He is too busy following his God and following on in the pathway of obedience. But let him linger by the way, lose the vision of the glory that is set before him, and yearn for the good old days when he had plenty in Egypt--and leaven will begin to work afresh in his life. Let any child of God, or group of saints, lose the vision of God’s glory, and before long that man or that assembly becomes filled with the leaven of malice and wickedness. There is only one sure way by which a stream of water can be kept pure and clean--and that is by flowing. Let it be diverted into an open pit, and before long the water becomes a stagnant pool and will breed corruption and death. So it is with Truth. When an individual, and assembly, or a group of assemblies settles back in self-complacency, satisfied with their condition, and content with the thought that they have arrived at the Truth--stagnation immediately sets in, the leaven begins to function, and “malice and wickedness” characterize the whole denomination. You simply cannot expect to keep a sect clean from the corrupting influences of the flesh, because if they linger behind when the glory-cloud moves forward, they have plenty of time to leaven their dough. On the other hand, if you proceed from “glory to glory” there is no opportunity for you to become leavened.
MODERN PHARISEES AND SADDUCEES
That is why Jesus warned the disciples to beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and Sadducees. Now the doctrines of the Sadducees were definitely false, for they denied the resurrection, the fact of angels and spirits, and so forth. They were the predecessors of our modern religions which have a form of godliness but “deny the power thereof.” They denied the supernatural; and we have plenty of Sadducees in the world today. But the Pharisees, on the other hand, were quite orthodox in their teachings; so much so that Jesus commanded His own disciples to observe and do what they said. (Matt. 23:3). Why then did He tell the same disciples to “beware” of their doctrine? For this simple reason: “They say, and do not.” What they said was all right, generally speaking, but their works gave the lie to their teachings. So it is with our modern Pharisees, our orthodox Christian teachers. They teach about the power of Jesus’ blood; they lift you to heights of praise as they expound the glories of the celestial, and the power of Christ’s resurrection; they speak much of the miracles of Christ, and the power of the early Church; they will expound the doctrines of healing, and miracles, and the various gifts of the Holy Spirit. But “they say, and do not.” And not only that: for they condemn and denounce the man who wishes to go in and explore the glories of resurrection life and the “powers of the age to come.” They think it is all right to talk about resurrection and life and the heavenly realm--but when one suggests that this is the heritage of the saints here and now, there are loud protests from the Pharisees. Then the leaven begins its subtle influence, and an orthodox theology develops into malice and wickedness.
O saints of God everywhere, let us launch out into the deep! Let us lift our anchor which has gripped the earth for so long--and let us become anchored to Christ in the heavens, where we ought to be anchored. For God has intended that our anchor should pass into the heavens, behind the veil, whither the forerunner has for us entered. (Heb. 6:19,20). If we are anchored to earth, and to the doctrines of men, we will be earth-bound creatures; but once we anchor to Heaven and to the Man behind the veil, we are Heaven-bound creatures--and we are constantly rising higher and higher and higher into the realms of the Spirit. Then one day, thank God!--the veil of the flesh shall be rent asunder, and we shall see Him as He is! And when we speak this way, we are not talking about physical death, nor about the rapture; but we are speaking of seeing Him “who is invisible,” as Moses did of old. We shall see Him, even though the world sees Him not. Did not Jesus say, “The world seeth me no more; but ye see me...” (Jn. 14:19)? And was He not speaking of seeing Him in the Spirit, because of the coming of the Holy Spirit into the hearts of the disciples?
THE LORD’S SUPPER
“Now the feast of unleavened bread drew nigh, which is called the Passover.” (Lk. 22:1). It is most significant and enlightening when we discover that Jesus used the natural observance of the Feasts of the Lord by which to explain and reveal their spiritual significance. So it was on the occasion of the last Passover that Jesus revealed its true spiritual significance. To fulfill ass the righteousness of the Law on the one hand, and to establish the new Covenant on the other, the Lord kept this Feast with His disciples. “With desire,” He said, “I have desired to eat this passover with you before I suffer.” (Lk. 22:15). He greatly desired to do this that He might introduce His disciples into a new order of worship and fellowship in the Spirit. On the eve of the Passover, when He Himself was about to be slain as the true Passover Lamb, then it was that our Lord gathered His disciples together and gave them the ordinance of the Lord’s Supper. He finished the old ceremony that He might establish the new. For it is always consistent with God’s plains and purposes that He takes away the first before He establishes the second. (Heb. 10:9). And again, “Howbeit that was not first which is spiritual, but that which is natural; and afterward that which is spiritual.” (1Cor. 15:46). First the earthly, then the heavenly. First the flesh, and then the Spirit. Christ was therefore desirous to eat the last Passover with His disciples, that He might take it away and establish the new Feast, the Lord’s Supper. “And He took bread, and gave thanks, and brake it, and gave unto them, saying, This is My body which is given for you: this do in remembrance of Me. Likewise also the cup after supper, saying, This cup is the new testament in My blood, which is shed for you.” (Lk. 22:19,20).
THIS IS THE HOUR OF RESTORATION
It is certain that God is now preparing His people for the greatest Feast of her long history--the Feast of Tabernacles. And therefore it is not without significance that in this day and hour of restoration God is stressing the spiritual significance of the Feast of Unleavened Bread, that we might be prepared to go on to the fullness of Pentecost, and then to Tabernacles. And this must be so, because it is always God’s plan to lead us from “glory to glory” and from one experience to the next in Divine order. And though it is true that the Unleavened Bread, and Pentecost, both found their fulfillment in Christ and the early Church--we have now come to the “ends of the ages” when the glory of the past must be restored and absorbed in the last great Feast of the Church. Truth having been largely lost or obscured during the Dark Ages, the Spirit is now as never before bringing forth out of God’s treasure-house things new and old, re-establishing the walls and foundations of Truth, and rebuilding the Temple of God. And so from Reformation days and until now, God has graciously been restoring lost Truth; and the Reformation is by no means finished yet.
Therefore, with the corruption and division of God’s people, the true meaning of the Lord’s Supper has been lost. That is why Paul said to the Corinthians, rent asunder as they were with strife and heresy: “When ye come together therefore into one place, this is not (or, it is not possible) to eat the Lord’s Supper.” (1Cor. 11:20). The fact is this: the Lord’s Supper, when observed in the Spirit, and in spiritual union and fellowship with the saints, is actual participation with Christ. “The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not the communion of (participation with) the blood of Christ? The bread which we break, is it not the communion of (participation with) the body of Christ?” (1Cor. 10:16). Therefore, without that spiritual participation and fellowship, it is really not the Lord’s Supper. True, the Corinthians partook of the elements of the Communion just the same as our churches do today--but it was not really the Lord’s Supper, because in their carnality they did not understand its true meaning, and instead of appropriating Christ they became weak and sickly, and many even died.
This however, is the day and hour when God is moving by His Spirit to restore His Church, to perfect the saints, and to establish unity in the Body of Christ. This is the day and hour that God has chosen to restore the walls of the heavenly Jerusalem, and turn again the captivity of Zion. And therefore, it is beginning to become possible, once again, for the saints to eat the Lord’s Supper in reality, and partake of Christ in so doing. “For we being many are one bread, and one body: for we are all partakers of that one bread.” (1Cor. 10:17). Perhaps we have often wondered why there are so many sick and weak saints of God. But how could we have anything else with a Church filled with malice and wickedness and disunity and bitterness? Under such conditions the Church has been doing nothing more nor less than eating and drinking condemnation to itself--and consequently many have become weak and sickly, and many have died. For it is only in discerning the Lord’s Body that we can expect to derive healing and health and life from the Table of the Lord. “For he that eateth and drinketh unworthily, eateth and drinketh damnation (condemnation) to himself, not discerning the Lord’s body...” (1Cor. 11:29).
THE REAL UNITY IS SPIRITUAL
This Feast is pre-eminently a spiritual Feast, and consequently a spiritual unity that God is mostly concerned about. Let us not be deceived into thinking that great mass rallies, with hundreds and thousands of people from various sects assembled together in one building, constitute the Body of Christ. The Body of Christ is a spiritual Body, and the unity in that Body is a spiritual unity. In this Body, Divine life can flow from one member to another, and from Christ the Head to all members--as the various members minister one to another by the Spirit, and Christ the Head ministers to the whole Body by the same Spirit. Feasting upon the Unleavened Bread, therefore, is living in real genuine fellowship and communion with all the saints, recognizing their God-ordained ministry in the Body of Christ, and giving honour one to another in meekness and humility. May our constant prayer be, ‘Lord, evermore give us this bread. Make us one, even as thou didst pray in the gathering darkness of the Cross. Purge out of our midst the old leaven, that we might become a new lump. Rid us of all our carnal ways--from divisive tendencies, from the chaos of doctrinal disputes, from hatred and variance and emulations and strife. Restore unity to Thy people, that we may become that holy and glorious Church of which all the prophets and apostles have spoken since the world began. Give us the mind of Christ, till we all think and say and believe and understand the same things.’
And rest assured, child of God, that this prayer is going to be answered; for it is the burden--not only of the holy apostles and prophets who penned the sacred pages of the Bible, but also the prayer of the Son of God Himself, who testified concerning His Father, “I know Thou hearest Me always.”