Passover: Seven Days or One Day?
Is Passover a seven- day Feast, or a one- day Feast?
To answer this question, we must first acknowledge the mystery nature of Passover. And to do this, we will look at an analogy.
The Picture Puzzle
The full revelation of Passover is like the picture on the front of the picture-puzzle box, for it reveals the picture shown by the completed puzzle.
Since we do not yet have the full revelation, the full picture, we do the next-best thing. We attempt to imagine what the full picture looks like, simply by examining a few pieces of the puzzle found in Scripture.
The problem is compounded by the fact that Yahuweh delights in giving only a few puzzle-pieces of understanding to any one person. He then requires that we share together the pieces He has given.
Father delights in our working together, to bring forth the fullness of the picture He has prepared for us — for it is the picture of Messiah Himself.
Many today have been given a few Biblical puzzle-pieces of Passover understanding. They are looking closely at these Biblical puzzle-pieces, and are trying to assemble the puzzle, while trying to understand the big picture.
But there is a problem!
While trying to assemble the puzzle, most Messianics today have been looking at the modern-day, traditional picture of Passover, painted by Rabbinic Tradition — which has all but obscured the Biblical picture of Passover.
While trying to fit the Biblical Passover puzzle-pieces to the modern, traditional Passover picture, many are finding that the Biblical Passover puzzle-pieces do not fit the modern, traditional picture of Passover – a clue that our picture of Passover has been distorted, and is not Scriptural.
This distortion in our understanding of Passover results in issues labelled as troublesome by some, and perhaps even contradictory by others. For those who are serious about returning to Biblical practice, we must identify all non-Biblical ideas and issues, and remove these from our practice. There are several such issues in Scripture regarding Passover, with which we must deal one at a time.
In this writing, we will look at certain Passover Scripture passages, and compare these to what we see in the traditional practice of Passover. We will begin with the prophetic Passover statement made in Ezekiel 45:21:
In the first month, in the fourteenth day of the month, ye shall have the passover, a feast of seven days; unleavened bread shall be eaten. (Ezekiel 45:21)
In the above passage, Ezekiel tells us clearly that the Feast of Passover is a 7-day feast.
Let us next notice the following passages:
In the fourteenth day of the first month at even is the LORD’S passover. 6 And on the fifteenth day of the same month is the feast of unleavened bread unto the LORD: seven days ye must eat unleavened bread. (Leviticus 23:5-6)
And in the fourteenth day of the first month is the passover of the LORD. 17 And in the fifteenth day of this month is the feast: seven days shall unleavened bread be eaten. (Numbers 28:16-17)
In the above Torah passages, we are told clearly that Passover is a 1-day event, occurring in the fourteenth day of the first Biblical month. We are also told that the Feast of Unleavened is a 7-day Feast, beginning on the fifteenth day of the first month.
Let us now narrow our focus, to closely examine and compare these statements.
The Prophetic Contradiction
First, we notice that the words of Ezekiel say:
“…the passover, a feast of seven days…”
Then we see that the words of Torah say:
“…the fourteenth day of the first month is the passover…”
On first glance, the words of Ezekiel appear to contradict the words of Torah!
And, according to Deuteronomy 13:5, anyone who speaks or teaches in contradiction to, or against, the words of Torah, is deserving of death.
Would Ezekiel contradict Torah?
So, what shall we do? Ezekiel tells us clearly that the Feast of Passover is a 7-day feast — and appears to contradict the clear statements in Torah, that Passover is a 1-day feast.
Messiah appeals to us, that we should not be among the foolish — those who are slow of heart to believe [be “DO-ers” of] all the words of the Prophets (Luke 24:25). This means if we are to be wise, we are to believe [be “DO-ers” of — to obey] all the words of the prophets.
So, what are we to do? Are we to follow the prophet’s words in Ezekiel 45:21 — or do we disbelieve all the words of the prophets, and follow only Torah?
Let us also be reminded that there are no contradictions in Scripture. If one passage appears to be in contradiction to another, is faulty understanding on our part.
Let us look further.
Some would say the problem is solved in the rearrangement of the words in the Ezekiel passage:
In the first month, on the fourteenth day of the month, you shall celebrate the Feast of the Passover, and for seven days unleavened bread shall be eaten. (Ezekiel 45:21 – ESV)
The above wording would be more clear, and would find agreement with the Torah passages, but this wording is not the answer. This answer would merely conceal the prophetic meaning of Passover that Ezekiel’s prophecy reveals, as we shall see confirmed by the apostle Sha’ul, who is also called Paul!
The words of the Book of Ezekiel contain many major, prophetic revelations of New Covenant truths — and our passage in Ezekiel 45:21 is one of these!
And so in order to uncover the mystery of Ezekiel’s words, we will first review and summarise a few of the prophetic puzzle-pieces we have discussed thus far in other writings, as compiled in The New Covenant Passover: A Mystery.
The Prophetic Passover: An Overview
As an overview of the Scripture accounts, we saw in this article that the Feast of Pesach [Passover] and the Feast of Matzah [Unleavened] are two separate Feasts — each with its own specific requirements, and each with its own unique memorial, and each with its own prophetic meaning. We will summarise these briefly, as follows.
The Passover observance speaks of the true sacrifice of Messiah, as seen in the pattern of the Israelites’ original Passover observance while in Egypt, and demonstrated by Messiah in the Gospel accounts.
The Passover Lamb [Messiah] is the sacrifice (Ex 12:27), to be killed in the fourteenth day (Ex 12:6; Ex 12:21; 2Chron 30:15). The blood of the sacrifice is to be sprinkled on the doorpost of the heart, and the flesh of the sacrifice is to be eaten with unleavened bread (Ex 34:25) — by all those within the blood-sprinkled household, the Born-Again Believers in whom Messiah dwells (Luke 22:19-20; John 6:53; Col 1:27).
Messiah tells us that the Passover is to be observed annually forever, as a memorial or ‘remembrance’ of Messiah’s death (Ex 12:14; Luke 22:19-20).
Thus the 1-day Passover speaks of Messiah as our Passover [sacrificial] Lamb, and as such He is our life.
The 7-day Feast of Unleavened, however, speaks of the complete lifetime of the Believer, during which lifetime he is to live an unleavened life, one of sincerity and truth. The unleavened life, however, is not automatic, but is contingent upon our experience of the Passover sacrifice, which must first occur.
We then see that our 7-day ‘Messiah Passover’ life is thus to be lived for the completion of our lifetime on earth. That is, once we have personally received Messiah’s initial, one-time sacrifice for us, on our behalf, we are to then live in a perpetual state of ‘keeping the Feast’ of sincerity and truth.
The Prophetic Passover: Revealed by the Apostle Paul
This prophetic overview of Passover is confirmed by the apostle Sha’ul, who also is called Paul.
But first we must ask, “Who was Paul?”
Scripture tells us two very important bits of information about Paul.
First, we are told that Paul was among the ‘prophets and teachers’ (Acts 13:1).
Next, Paul himself tells us that he writes to those Believers [‘brethren’] who know the Law [Torah] (Romans 7:1). That is, in the Hebrew sense of the word, Paul writes to those who experience the Torah — who keep, guard, and obey Torah. Those who do not know Torah [most Gentile Believers today], will surely misunderstand most of Paul’s messages!
Because Paul had been Born-Again [that is, the person of Messiah had been birthed within him], the spirit of Messiah was living within Paul, to open his eyes.
And because Paul was a prophet, and also observed all things written in Torah (Acts 24:14), he was able to see the prophetic pictures within the T-N-K [Torah, Writings, Prophets], also called the ‘old’ testament writings.
And so it is, that Paul gives us some prophetic insight into Ezekiel’s hidden meaning:
Purge out therefore the old leaven, that ye may be a new lump, as ye are unleavened. For [‘because’] even Christ our passover [sacrifice] is sacrificed for us: 8 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. (1Corinthians 5:7-8)
In the above passage, Paul reveals that because Messiah [who is our Passover sacrifice] has been sacrificed for us, therefore the following is true:
- We are now unleavened, because of Messiah;
- We may now keep the Feast [Feast of Unleavened, which occurs only after, and as a result of, the Passover].
Let’s look further at Paul’s revelation.
The Revelation Given to the Apostle Paul
Paul gives us some further insight as to what Messiah is for us:
For Messiah is my life, and to die is gain. (Philippians 1:21 – HRB)
When Christ [who is] our life shall appear, then shall ye also appear with him in glory. (Colossians 3:4)
I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me. (Galatians 2:20)
And they that are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts. (Galatians 5:24)
For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world. (1John 2:16)
I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. 2 And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God. (Romans 12:1-2)
In the above passages, we as Believers are told that Messiah is our life; and that our life is to become one of being crucified [sacrificed] along with Messiah.
That is, we are exhorted to present our bodies as a living sacrifice — to ‘crucify’ the tendencies of the natural man, in its affections and lusts of the flesh, of the eyes, and of the pride of life, in order to discover Father’s perfect will for our life.
Thus our entire lifetime is to be one of living the life of Messiah, as a living Sacrifice for Messiah, in the same way that Messiah is the Passover Sacrifice for us, on our behalf. Thus our lifetime is a life of living just as Messiah did, just as if we were a Passover Sacrifice.
And so we can now see the ‘prophetic’ meaning of Ezekiel’s words in Ezekiel 45:21, as revealed by Paul, as follows:
In the first month, [beginning] in the fourteenth day of the month, ye shall have the passover [sacrifice, which is Messiah himself], [resulting in living as the Unleavened Passover Sacrifice of Messiah, which becomes] a feast [living the unleavened life] of seven days [until the completion of your lifetime]; unleavened bread [only the unleavened teaching of the Words of Messiah] shall be eaten. (Ezekiel 45:21 – Author’s annotation)
From this we can give a summary:
And so it is, that Ezekiel is indeed giving us, not a statement contradictory to Torah, or of observing the Passover in the physical sense. He is instead giving us a prophetic picture of Messiah — who is our life — and that ‘to live’ is Messiah, as our Passover, for the duration of our lifetime!
But one problem remains!
How does the apostle Paul’s prophetic picture of Passover [as given by Ezekiel’s prophecy], relate to the picture of Passover observance in the physical sense, that we see in Rabbinic Tradition?
The Passover: According to Rabbinic Tradition
It must be noted that modern Rabbinic Tradition today, just as in the days of Messiah, does not observe the one-day Passover! Instead, notice what Scripture tells us:
Now the feast of unleavened bread [the Biblical 7-day Feast] drew nigh, which is called [by tradition] the Passover. (Luke 22:1 – Author’s annotation)
The above passage describes Rabbinic Tradition as seen in Yahushua’s day, and as seen even today. It should be noted that the one-day Passover is not observed by Rabbinic Tradition, but is hidden, and ‘combined’ with the Feast of Unleavened.
Instead, Rabbinic Tradition observes only the Feast of Unleavened, for seven days beginning in the night of [after sunset, marking the start of] the 15th day of the first month, calling the 7-day Feast of Unleavened by the name of Passover — exactly as described in Luke 22:1!
It is probable that the during the Babylonian captivity, the Passover observance was lost, and later only the 7-day Feast of Unleavened was recovered, perhaps renamed because of failure to see and understand the prophetic words of Ezekiel.
Today this Rabbinic Tradition observes a 7-day ‘passover’ feast, having a ‘first’ seder in the night beginning the 15th day, and a ‘second’ seder the next night, perhaps added to allow for variations in the man-made calculations used to determine Rosh Chodesh, the first day of the Biblical month.
In contrast, the Biblical Passover occurs in the night beginning the 14th day, just as Messiah and His disciples observed, exactly as Messiah said, and exactly as Messiah and His disciples demonstrate, as we see in the Gospel accounts.
Because Ezekiel’s prophetic words have not been widely understood, many today continue to devise many inventions and imaginations concerning Messiah’s last Passover, giving rise to fables and man-made doctrines that ‘fit’ the picture of Passover painted by Rabbinic Tradition.
We should remember that the prophetic words in Scripture can be understood only in the light of acknowledgment and acceptance of Messiah’s sacrifice — and only when Messiah opens the eyes to see!
We should also remember that the words and actions of the New Testament writers are in full agreement with, and are even validated by, the words of Torah — and by ‘all the words of the prophets’ — just as as we see throughout Paul’s writings, and in Peter’s examples (Acts 15:15; 1Pet 1:16).
We must then ask, “Is there a Scriptural reason that Rabbinic Tradition does not observe the true Passover according to the Torah commandment?”
The answer to this question lies in the fact that the ‘unleavened’ life, as pictured by the Feast of Unleavened, can not be lived by man’s own effort! The unleavened life can be lived only as a result of experiencing the true Passover Sacrifice — by the acknowledgment and cleansing of the Blood of the True Passover Lamb, Messiah Yahushua.
It is only by the Blood of the Lamb, that Yahuweh’s Firstborn are redeemed out of the house of bondage — out of the kingdom of darkness and slavery, into the Kingdom of light and freedom. (Exodus 4:22; Ephesians 1:7; Colossians 1:14; Hebrews 9:12; Rev 5:9)
Prior to Messiah’s Sacrifice on the tree, the Biblical Passover always was a memorial of looking forward — a looking forward in time to Messiah’s redemption of His people, by His own Blood. From that day forward, the Passover always will be a memorial of looking backward — a looking backward in time to Messiah’s redemption of His people, by His own Blood.
As long as men embrace Rabbinic Tradition, yet reject Messiah Yahushua as the true Passover Sacrifice, they will continue to be blinded to, and will not observe, the true, Biblical one-day Passover (John 12:38-40; Romans 11:7; 2Co 3:14, 2Co 4:4). They will instead continue to observe, in man’s own strength, the ‘unleavened’ life pictured in the 7-day Feast of Unleavened.
The celebration of Unleavened, without first celebrating Passover, is the prophetic illustration and embodiment of a works-based religion, and is not according to Scripture!
Those who desire to follow Messiah Yahushua as the true Passover Sacrifice, however, will embrace Messiah’s words, and Messiah’s examples in all things. For Messiah is now restoring all truth to His people, as He prepares them for His soon return.
From what we have seen thus far, we must also ask, “Is there a historical reason that Rabbinic Tradition does not observe the true Passover according to the Torah commandment?” And, why did Yahushua observe the Passover with His Disciples at night at the start of the 14th, while the Rabbinic authorities followed the tradition of observing Passover the next night, at the start of the 15th?
These questions can be answered by looking back over the history of the Israelites, before and after their exile and captivity in Babylon, and from the Scriptures decribing what was to happen.
Notice what the Encyclopaedia Judaica has to say about the origin of today’s tradition, of celebrating ‘Passover’ as integral to and concurrent with the Feast of Unleavened:
In the above historical account, we see that the Passover was ‘lost’ when parts of it were combined with the Feast of Unleavened, at some point around the time of the exile.
Now notice the following Scripture passage:
The Lord was as an enemy: he hath swallowed up Israel, he hath swallowed up all her palaces: he hath destroyed his strong holds, and hath increased in the daughter of Judah mourning and lamentation. 6 And he hath violently taken away his tabernacle, as if it were of a garden: he hath destroyed his places of the assembly: the LORD hath caused the solemn feasts [‘moedim’] and sabbaths to be forgotten in Zion, and hath despised in the indignation of his anger the king and the priest. (Lamentations 2:5-6)
As we see in the above passage, Yahuweh Himself was the one who removed, destroyed, caused to be forgotten, the proper keeping of His moedim, His Feast-days. And so even today, the Biblical Passover held on the 14th day of the first month, the first of the of the annual, Biblical appointed Times of Yahuweh, is not even celebrated today by those who continue to hold to Rabbinic Tradition.
Passover Being Restored
From the above historical account, and from Scripture, we can easily understand how even in Messiah’s day, the Passover had evolved, from the time of the exile to the present, into a hybrid celebration, in which the Passover sacrifice was slaughtered on the 14th day, and then eaten that night after the start of the 15th, coinciding with the Feast of Unleavened.
We can also understand that because Messiah came to restore all things, by His being obedient to Torah in every way, He became the living example for His disciples for all time. His example shows us how Passover [and the other moedim] are being restored even today to their rightful place, and to their rightful time of celebration, each in its own day, as appointed by our Abba Father (Lev 23:37), with each of the moedim in full agreement with the words of Torah.
It is thus Messiah’s words, and His examples in all things, that we must hold as supreme, if we are to be a part of His restoration in this generation. For it is only by Messiah’s words, and by His examples, that we are able to discern the Truths of Torah from the traditions of men.
What is done in the earth, in the natural realm, is exactly as it is in heaven, in the spiritual realm. Selah — Pause, and consider this!
Today, many Messianics, Yahudah and Ephraim together as one new man, are having their eyes opened. They are choosing to abandon the many un-Scriptural patterns established by Rabbinic Tradition, and are returning to the pure and unleavened teaching of Scripture alone.
Following Messiah’s example, they are returning to the Biblical observance of the one-day Passover, after sunset at night marking the start of the 14th day of the first Biblical month. They observe the Passover supper in memory of Messiah, who become our Passover on the tree, the sacrifice made on our behalf.
Then the next night, after sunset marking the start of the 15th day of the first Biblical month, also begin the Biblical observance of the 7-day Feast of Unleavened, for seven days to the end of the 21st day.
They observe the Feast of Unleavened, in memory of our exodus from Egypt, and from the leavened life of bondage of the impure, man-made principles of the world, to the unleavened life of Biblical Truth and freedom.
Surely Messiah, who is our Passover Lamb, is restoring His people to His original Truth. And as we endeavour to follow Messiah’s examples of obedience to Torah, we can be fully confident that His words, and His actions, are in full agreement with the Torah, and with all the words of the Prophets.
And as Messiah tells us,
“If ye know these things, happy are ye if ye do them.” (John 13:17)
Now that we know these things, there is no further need to ask the question:
and thou shalt not know what hour I will come upon thee.” (Rev 3:3)