The Passover and Our Lord’s Supper

The Passover ceremony, as originally instituted, is described in Exodus 12:1-28. A lamb without blemish was slain, its blood was sprinkled on the doorposts and lintels of the house, while the family within ate the flesh of the lamb with unleavened bread and bitter herbs. On that night (the fourteenth of the first month, Jewish time), because of the sprinkled blood and the eaten lamb, the firstborn children of Israel were passed over, or spared from the plague of death which visited the firstborn of the Egyptians. On this account, and because on the next day Israel marched out from Egyptian bondage free, therefore, by God’s command (Exod. 12:41) they commemorate it every year on its anniversary. This was and remains among the Israelites one of the most important of their religious observances. It was the first feature of the “Law” given them as a typical people.

The Israelites saw only the letter of this ceremony, and not its typical significance. So, too, we might have remained in similar darkness had not the Holy Spirit of God given us the key to its meaning by inspiring the Apostle Paul to write the words in I Corinthians 5:7,8: “CHRIST OUR PASSOVER IS SACRIFICED FOR US; THEREFORE LET US KEEP THE FEAST.”

Our attention being then called to the matter by the Spirit, we find other Scriptures which clearly show that Jesus, “the Lamb of God,” was the antitype of the Passover lamb, and that his death was as essential to the deliverance of “the Church of the firstborn” from death, as was the death of the Passover lamb to the firstborn of Israel. (Heb. 12:23) Being led of the Spirit, we come to the words and acts of Jesus at the last Passover which he ate with his disciples.—Matt. 26:26-29; John 6:51-58; Luke 22:15-20

God is very exact, and the slaying of the Passover lamb, on the fourteenth day of the first month, foreshadowed the fact that in God’s plan Jesus was to die at that time. It is remarkable, that God so arranged the reckoning of time among the Jews that it was possible for Jesus to commemorate the Passover with the disciples, and still be slain as the real “Lamb” on the same day. [The Jewish day, instead of being reckoned from midnight to midnight is reckoned, commencing at six o’clock in the evening and ending at six the next evening.] Thus, Jesus and the disciples, by eating the Passover, probably about eight o’clock, ate it “the same night in which he was betrayed,” and the same day he died.

Our Lord instituted his Supper as the remembrancer of his death, and as a substitute for the Passover as observed by the Jews. It is asked why Jesus ate of the typical lamb first? This was done because he was born under the dominion of the Law, and must observe its every requirement. Since he made an end of the Law, nailing it to his cross, we are free from the Law, as relates to either the Passover or the Lord’s Supper—its substitute—but we are of those who esteem it a privilege to celebrate each year the anniversary of our Lord’s death. —I Cor. 11:24-26

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Jacob Prays

Jacob’s life provides the student of the Bible various lessons. One important lesson that we can apply to our own lives is the example of prayer we find in Genesis 32. Here, Jacob is preparing to meet his brother Esau for the first time since Jacob fled Canaan. As Jacob made his way back to the promised land, he learned that Esau was coming to greet him with 400 men. Fearing the worst, Jacob prayed.

Jacob’s prayer can be an example for us when we are in a time of distress. He first recognizes God and then acknowledges his own unworthiness. (Gen 32:9,10) Jacob then recalls all the favors and blessings that he has received. By remembering this in his prayer, Jacob is recognizing God as the source of these blessings and favor. Jacob then asks for God to save him and states that he is afraid. He recalls the promise that God made to him that Jacob’s descendants will be like the sand of the sea.—vss. 11,12

This prayer provides us insight into Jacob’s character. He was humble, not elevating himself in position to God or his brother. Jacob was full of faith in God—he had seen God overrule for him in the past and had confidence that God would continue to do so. He was also a man with a sincere heart unafraid to ask God for help.

When we face a trial or difficulty, God wants us to come to him in prayer. When we ask for help from God, do we base our requests on his promises? God has made many precious promises to his believers. Like Jacob, we can rely on these promises during our trials because we know God is faithful to what he has promised. Isaiah 55:11 (New International Version) says of God: “My word that goes out from my mouth; it will not return to me empty.” Additionally, if we are anxious, nervous, or afraid, God wants us to rely on him. “Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.” (1 Pet. 5:7, NIV) Let us remember during our trials to turn to the Heavenly Father using the privilege of prayer, just as Jacob did.

Jacob and Esau

“Two nations are in your womb, and two peoples from within you will be separated; one people will be stronger than the other, and the older will serve the younger.” (Gen. 25:23, NIV) Those two nations were to come from Esau, the firstborn, and Jacob, whose name means “he grasps the heel” as he did when they were born. Even from birth it seems, Jacob wanted to be the firstborn. Jacob recognized that the birthright of the first son was not merely the inheriting of possessions but more so the authority and promises made to the father, which would mean inheriting from Isaac the promise God had given to Abraham.

Jacob was content among the tents (vs. 27), while his brother found fulfillment in the things of the “open country.” Their mother, Rebekah, was a woman who trusted God. She would have surely taught Jacob of God’s promises and his response to her prayers. Jacob was mindful and desirous of God’s blessing as seen time and again throughout his life. By contrast, Esau did not make spiritual things a priority. He did not recognize the spiritual value of his birthright when Jacob saw opportunity to obtain it by stew and an oath, “I am about to die. What good is a birthright to me?” was Esau’s reply. (vs. 32, NIV) Having legally come into possession of the inheritance of Isaac and Abraham, it is unclear why the deception of Isaac was thought to be necessary, but in it is evident Jacob’s spiritual priority.

 

This lesson is a mirror of the transition from the Jews to the Gentiles at the beginning of the Gospel Age. As Genesis 25:23 foretold, the elder should serve the younger, so the Gospel church, composed mostly of Gentiles and though younger, obtained the birthright of the Jewish house. The nation of Israel as a whole did not have spiritual priorities. In general they were focused on earthly gain. The Gentile believers, however, were eager to find mercy and to serve God and, as a result, were given the blessing of running for the prize of the high calling. God “is a rewarder of them that diligently seek Him.” (Heb. 11:6) Let the story of Jacob and Esau be a reminder to maintain our focus on spiritual matters, always seeking God and the blessings that come with serving Him.

 

Abrahamic Promise to Isaac

Because of his faithfulness, Abraham received many blessings. He was directed by God at the age of 75 to leave his family and land, and relocate to a land that he would eventually inherit. God said in Genesis 12:2,3 (NIV), “I will make you into a great nation and I will bless you; I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse; and all peoples on earth shall be blessed through you.”

Because of Abraham’s obedience, God expanded the promise when repeating it to Abraham’s grandson, Jacob. “Thy seed shall be as the dust of the earth, and thou shalt spread abroad to the west, and to the east, and to the north, and to the south: and in thee and in thy seed shall all the families of the earth be blessed.”—Gen. 28:14

Abraham was 99 and Sarah was 89 when God promised them a son to be born the next year. At the same time, Abraham also received the rite of circumcision. “This is my covenant, which ye shall keep, between me and you and thy seed after thee; Every man child among you shall be circumcised.” (Gen. 17:10) See also Acts 7:8. One year later Isaac was born.

When Isaac became a young man, Abraham sent his eldest servant to Haran to find Isaac a wife from among Abraham’s relatives. The servant found Rebekah who became Isaac’s wife. (Gen. 24:2-67) After marrying Rebekah, Isaac received the land given to his father Abraham by God. “And Abraham gave all that he had unto Isaac.”— Gen. 25:5

Isaac also received God’s promise to Abraham which was confirmed in Genesis 26:2-4, “I will make thy seed to multiply as the stars of heaven, . . . and in thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed.” Notice that in these verses the heavenly seed “stars of heaven,” is mentioned exclusively to Isaac because he pictured that spiritual seed of the Abrahamic promise. Galatians 3:16,29 says, “Now unto Abraham and his seed were the promises made. . . . And to thy seed which is Christ. . . . If ye be Christ’s, then are ye Abraham’s seed and heirs according to the promise.” This shows us that Jesus and his followers will be the starry, heavenly seed of Abraham that will bless all the families of the earth.