Christian Churches of God
Passover, Night of Watching and Seven Days of Unleavened Bread
(Edition 3.0 20030612-20070125)
The Passover, including the Feast of Unleavened Bread is the first of three annual Feasts.
As we learned in the introductory lesson in this series (Introduction to God’s Holy Days (No. CB131)), the Feasts and Holy Days of God tell us the story of God’s Plan of Salvation for all of mankind. The Passover pictures the salvation of the nation of Israel, and points to the salvation of the entire planet. It points to Messiah as the Passover Lamb.
The very first Passover story is in Exodus. It occurred in Egypt and was essentially salvation from the last plague that God gave to Pharaoh and the Egyptians. The Israelites were told on the 10th of the First month that they were to set aside a perfect, unblemished lamb of the first year for their family (Ex. 12:3-5). During late afternoon on the 14th of the First month, the Israelites were told to kill a lamb and take its blood and put it on their doorposts and lintels (Ex. 12:6-7). The Israelites were told to stay within the house where they ate the Passover lamb. They were to roast the lamb whole and eat it with bitter herbs and unleavened bread (Ex. 12:8-9). None of the lamb was to remain until the morning. If their families were too small to eat the entire lamb, they should share it with another family (Ex. 12:4). At midnight, the Lord delivered the last of the ten plagues and all the Egyptians suffered the death of the first born of man and beast. The houses with the blood on the doorposts and lintels were “passed over” and the death plague did not affect them.
The lamb that was sacrificed on the night of the original Passover looked forward to Jesus Christ and his sacrifice as our Passover Lamb (Jn. 1:29-30; 1Pet 1:19). His death on the stake came at the same time the Passover lamb was being killed at the Temple. His blood would provide a way of salvation for mankind. He would become the perfect sacrifice (Heb 7:27; 9:12; 10:10-14; 1Pet 3:18) and grant us reconciliation with God the Father. For more information on the sacrifice of Christ see Messiah the Perfect and Complete Sacrifice (No. CB120).
Since the Passover is so important, God provides an alternative for those who cannot take the first Passover. They are to keep it in the Second month (Num. 9:6-12; 2Chr. 30:2-4).
The first of the three annual offerings is taken up at the beginning of the Feast of Unleavened Bread, prior to the morning (Ex. 23:18; 34:23; Deut. 16:16). We are able to have the privilege of bringing our freewill offering before God the Father.
The Lord’s Supper begins the Passover season. In 30 CE, Jesus Christ introduced the symbols associated with the Lord’s Supper. For a detailed review of the Lord’s Supper refer to What is the Lord’s Supper? (No. CB135).
Jesus Christ and the disciples kept the Passover and Feast of Unleavened Bread. The day before Jesus Christ was going to be crucified, his disciples asked where they should go to prepare for the Passover meal (Mk 14:12; Lk 22:7). Jesus Christ desired to eat the Passover meal with them, but he knew at this point that the next day he was going to die.
At the beginning of the 14th, after dark, Jesus Christ and his disciples came together to share a meal. We refer to this night as the Lord’s Supper. This was the meal that was the night before the actual Passover meal, the evening before the lamb was sacrificed.
This is the night that Messiah introduced the symbols of the foot-washing (Jn. 13:1-15), and eating the bread and drinking the wine (Mat. 26:26-30; Mk. 14:22-26; Lk. 22:15-20; Jn. 6:53-58). The Lord’s Supper service is only for baptized members, because it is an annual renewal of our baptismal commitment and shows our participation in the body of Jesus Christ.
The Lord’s Supper is one of only two sacraments of the Church. The second is baptism. For more information see What is the Lord’s Supper? (No. CB135), Procedures for the Lord's Supper (No. 103B), The Lord's Supper (No. 103), Preparing for the Passover (No. 190), and God’s Holy Days (No. CB22).
How Do We Keep the Passover and Days of Unleavened Bread Today?
Today, we assemble at the place where God has placed His name (Deut. 16:2,6-7); in other words, where the Church has chosen.
The Passover lamb was to be chosen and set aside on the 10th day of the First month. This mirrors the Day of Atonement, which takes place on the 10th day of the Seventh month. We don’t have to set aside a lamb today, because this part of God’s Plan was fulfilled when Jesus entered Jerusalem on the 10th day of the First month in the year he was crucified. (cf. Mat. 21). He was the perfect, unblemished lamb. Today, we simply provide an animal of the herd, which could be beef, lamb or goat for our Passover meal.
Night to be Much Remembered or the Night of Watching
The Passover Lamb was killed on the 14th day of the First month toward the end of the day. CCG teaches this was probably around 3:00 p.m., coinciding with the beginning of the afternoon sacrifices. (See the paper Timing of the Crucifixion and the Resurrection (No. 159).) Today, we don’t kill a Passover lamb, because Jesus Christ was our Passover lamb. His sacrifice was once for all so we no longer need the blood of animals to atone for or cover our sins. We do, however, have a church service at 3:00 p.m. on the 14th day where we remember the death of our saviour, Jesus Christ. It is after this service that we usually take up our first of three annual offerings.
We continue the instructions to eat a Passover meal on the beginning of the 15th day of the First month. We call this the Night of Watching or Night to Be Much Remembered.
The Night of Watching begins the 15th day of the First month. This is the first Holy Day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread. It is this night that we eat the Passover meal.
We see on the night of watching that children and strangers can attend (Ex. 12: 14, 48.49; Num. 9:14). In this context, in the Old Testament, strangers meant non-Israelites. Today, this means that anyone is welcome to eat the Passover meal and continue on “watching” until late in the evening.
We understand the meaning of the Passover meal to be an extension of salvation to the whole nation. Whereas the previous night’s symbols of the Lord’s Supper are for baptized members only, this night is for all. That is why we generally ask a non-baptized male to provide the prayer for the meal. The symbolism is that this meal looks toward the salvation of the entire nation.
On this night, one of the young children (or unconverted of any age) asks: “What is the meaning of this night?” (Ex. 12:26), as it relates to the meal (Ex. 12:8). The congregation that is present proceeds to explain and discuss the meaning of the symbols associated with the Passover. The meaning of the lamb, unleavened bread, wine, salt, bitter herbs, etc. are then reviewed and discussed. For more details on this subject see The Night to be Much Observed (No. 101) and Preparation for the Passover Meal on the Night of Watching (No. 93).
The reason we have a child ask: “What is the meaning of this night?” looks forward to the education and salvation of the entire nation. Salvation is now extended to the Gentiles, or to everyone.
It is truly a blessing to know, understand, and be able to be a part of the One True God’s Plan of redemption for the planet. The 15th day of the First month, as stated earlier, is the beginning of the days of unleavened bread. The 15th is a High Day / Sabbath, and we are commanded to gather with our brethren.
Seven Days of Unleavened Bread
The Passover legislation is found in Exodus 12:3-49; 23:15-18; 34:18; Leviticus 23:4-8; Numbers 9:2-5, 13-14; 28:16-25; Deuteronomy 16:1-8,16; Psalms 81:3,5 and Ezekiel 45:2ff. See The Passover (No. 098) for more details.
We are instructed to eat unleavened bread for seven days, beginning on the 15th through the 21st. We are also to remove all of the leaven from our homes, office and cars before we leave for the Feast (Ex. 12:15,19; Deut. 16:4), and make sure we have removed all of the leaven from our feast housing before Unleavened Bread begins. This includes going through the house and throwing away cookies, cakes, breads, etc., or anything that has leavening in it. Leavening is an ingredient that makes things rise like baking soda, baking powder or yeast. De-leavening would also include vacuuming to remove the crumbs.
We are reminded of the Israelites’ quick exodus from Egypt when there wasn’t enough time for their bread to rise. It also gives us great symbolism in terms of putting sin out of our lives. Sometimes in the Bible sin is symbolized by leaven.
During the Feast, the meals must contain unleavened bread. It is an actual instruction to eat unleavened bread for seven days (Ex. 12:15; 13:6-7; 23:15; 34:18; Lev. 23:6-8; Num. 28:17; Deut. 16:3), not just remove the leaven. At least once a day we should eat bread that is unleavened. We are continually reminded each day of our need to put sin out of our lives. At the Feast of Unleavened Bread we will not see any desserts that have leaven, such as cakes, cupcakes etc.
The first and last days of Unleavened Bread are Holy Days, and we treat them as we do a Sabbath Day.
It is important to remember the last day of Unleavened Bread, the 21st day, brings the Sanctification period to a close for the year. (See: Sanctification of the Nations (No. 077), 21-Day Sanctification Period (No. CB82) and Lesson: 21-Day Sanctification Period (No. CB82_2).)
There is a very special day that falls during the days of Unleavened Bread. It is not a Sabbath, yet it is important because it helps us to count and determine when Pentecost falls. During the week of Unleavened Bread, the Sunday or first day of the week of those seven days is referred to as “Wave Sheaf”.
Jesus Christ died on a Wednesday afternoon in 30 CE. Jesus Christ was in the tomb for three days and three nights just like the Sign of Jonah tells us. (See the paper Who is Jesus? (No. CB2).) He was resurrected at the end of the seventh day of the week (Sabbath). He did not immediately ascend to God’s right hand. In fact, he stayed here on earth until the next morning, which was Sunday, or the first day of the week. Then, at approximately 9:00 a.m., he ascended to heaven to be with God the Father. This was the same time as the Wave-Sheaf Offering. We continue to see that everything in the Old Testament instructions for Passover points us to Jesus Christ. He ascended as the Wave-Sheaf Offering, being the first of the first-fruits. Jesus Christ was accepted as the perfect sacrifice. Every year during the Feast of Unleavened Bread we keep the Wave-Sheaf Offering service at 9 a.m. on Sunday, in memory of this event (Lev. 23:10-14).
Lord’s Supper, Passover, Wave Sheaf and the Days of Unleavened Bread are a sign forever (Ex. 13:9-10). Passover and the Feast of Unleavened Bread, inclusive of Wave Sheaf, and Pentecost tie together and reveal the beginning of God’s Plan of Salvation.
We see that this First month is very important to Eloah and the entire planet. We are to remember we were slaves in Egypt and came out of that system. We are to reflect weekly on the Exodus during the Sabbath (Deut. 5:15; 16:3; Ps. 81:10).
The days of Unleavened Bread are to be kept for all generations (Ex. 12:14,17, 23-27) by everyone. If we were all repenting daily and examining ourselves prior to taking the Passover, the world would be a much better place. If we don’t learn from our past we are bound to repeat it.
We know that even many hundreds of years later, people remember the first exodus. We also see that Isaiah 66 talks of a future Exodus.
Even the name of our elder brother and savior Joshua the Messiah means Salvation is of Yaho the anointed one. Let us each do our part in assisting the Messiah with bringing salvation to the world.