The Passover in Type and Anti-type

'Now all these things happened to them [as] types, and have been written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the ages are come.' 1 Cor. 10:11 (Darby)

Keep the Big Picture in Mind

We are all familiar with the wonderful story of the Exodus from Egypt and particularly the role the Passover had in that story. While we love to examine and harmonize all text of scripture related to this wonderful event it is well that in so doing we keep the 'big picture' in mind. So what is the 'big picture?'

By remembering the basic facts of the story we will keep ourselves on sure ground. First, it is called 'Passover' for a reason, i.e., the firstborn if Israel were spared from death, i.e., they were 'passed over' by the death angel on the night in which they ate the Passover meal. No one else was in danger of death that night, only the firstborn.

This well pictures the passing over of the antitypical firstborn (the true church of God, the 144,000) during the Gospel Age. None of the world of mankind is in danger of the second death during the Gospel Age, only the antitypical firstborn, the saints. Others do not yet have enough light and therefore do not have that level of responsibility.

Exodus 12:22-23 (KJV) And ye shall take a bunch of hyssop, and dip it in the blood that is in the bason, and strike the lintel and the two side posts with the blood that is in the bason; and none of you shall go out at the door of his house until the morning. [23] For the Lord will pass through to smite the Egyptians; and when he seeth the blood upon the lintel, and on the two side posts, the Lord will pass over the door, and will not suffer the destroyer to come in unto your houses to smite you.

What would happen to any of the firstborn of Israel if they were to come out from their houses during that night? They would die. What protected them from death? It was the blood of the lamb. This forms an unmistakable picture of the Lord's people remaining under the blood of Christ until the night time is over. If we were to leave the protection of being under the blood of Christ we would die the second death.

Passover - What Day was the Supper?

This has become a question in recent years which needs to be addressed with the facts as found in the Lord's word.

Exodus 12:5-6, 8 (KJV) Your lamb shall be without blemish, a male of the first year: ye shall take it out from the sheep, or from the goats: [6] And ye shall keep it up until the fourteenth day of the same month: and the whole assembly of the congregation of Israel shall kill it in the evening. ' [8] And they shall eat the flesh in that night'
  • The lamb pictures Jesus.
  • It is without blemish. - Jesus was perfect, He had no sin.
  • It was kept until the 14th of Nisan.
  • It was to be killed 'in the evening.'
  • It was to be eaten that night.

At first glance this seems fairly simple and straight forward. However, when we remember that the Jewish day begins at sunset, a question naturally arises. What is intended by the instruction that Israel was to eat of the lamb 'in that night?' Was it the night of the 14th or the night of the 15th?

Then we also need to consider just what is meant by the instruction that 'Israel shall kill it in the evening?'

This last point is the one around which all the controversy centers. Literally the phrase 'in the evening' means 'between the evenings.'

What seemed to be the spark of this controversy started out innocently enough when in 1902 Pastor Russell included the following letter in the Tower:

R2953 : page 46

"BETWEEN EVENINGS" – A JEWISH VIEW.

'Dear Brother Russell:' Allow me to express to you my deep gratitude for your kindness in supplying me gratuitously with the Watch Tower and booklets. I have not language at my command to convey to you how thankful I feel to our heavenly Father for raising you up as one of his honored servants in the spreading of the present truth, and trying to build up and assist those of the household of faith in their walk in the narrow way. It is proving a great blessing to me. I lay awake for hours meditating on the great and precious promises of God and the glorious prospect there is in store for those whom he has called according to his purpose.

'In reading the last Tower for Dec. 1st, I was much helped by your interpretation of "The Voices of the Three Signs," also with the typical meaning of "The Passover Lamb." But I can not quite understand what you mean when you say, "On the fourteenth day of the month it was to be killed between evenings (between six o'clock the one evening and six o'clock the next evening – the usual Jewish day)." If the lamb had to be killed on the fourteenth day, between the evening of that day and the evening of the next, which would be the fifteenth, it would have to take place after six o'clock in the evening on the fourteenth day, and that would not correspond with the time of the death of the antitype as recorded in Matt. 26:45,46,50; Luke 23:44,46; and yet the properties which the passover lamb was to possess, the manner in which it was to die, the effects which were to be produced, and the ceremonies which were to be observed, as recorded in the twelfth chapter of Exodus, have been fulfilled in a most remarkable and striking manner in the promised Messiah, Jesus of Nazareth, our blessed Lord.

'Having been brought up in the Jewish faith up to the age of 20, I always understood the matter to be thus: The killing of the lamb was on the evening of the fourteenth day, or more correctly speaking, according to the original, Bain haarbayim, between the evenings, that is, between the sun's declining west and his setting about three o'clock p.m. For the Jews observe two evenings in each day. The first commences after twelve o'clock at noon, and the second at three o'clock, p.m. Between these two evenings the daily evening sacrifice was offered up and immediately after the passover lamb was killed and prepared. But if the passover fell on the weekly Sabbath, i.e., on Friday, they began an hour sooner, that they might despatch their business by the time that the Sabbath began. Hence that day is called the preparation of the passover. – John 19:14.

'The Jews computed their days from evening to evening; i.e., from the setting of the sun of one day to the setting again on the next day. This appears to be the command given by Moses, "From even to even shall ye celebrate your Sabbath." (Lev. 23:32.) Moses, in giving an account of the Creation, says, "And there was evening, and there was morning, one day." (Gen. 1:5.) By the evening and the morning the Jews understand the same portion of time that we call day and night, or twenty-four hours; the former continued from the rising of the sun until its setting, and from that time till his reappearance was called the night. The division of time into hours was not known in the days of Moses. – Compare Gen. 15:12; 18:1; 19:1.

'The day was again divided into two equal portions; from the rising of the sun until noon was the morning, and after that, until the sun had gone down, was the evening. Hence we read only of morning and evening sacrifices. Again, the morning and the evening were divided each into two equal parts, for the regulation of the morning and evening sacrifices and prayers.

'The morning sacrifice and prayer was allowed to be offered at any time between the rising of the sun and the third hour, i.e., 9 a.m., and the evening sacrifice and prayer may be offered up at any time during the first evening, Hebrew, erev katon, the short or lesser evening, i.e., from noon until ninth hour, or 3 p.m.; and from that time until sun setting, is called in the Hebrew erev gadol, i.e., the greater evening. It was between these two evenings the paschal lamb was to be slain, and so was Jesus, the antitype, the Lamb of God, who taketh away the sin of the world as recorded.

'I remain, dear Brother Russell, Faithfully yours in the Lord, J. Gronowsky,'England.'

It is upon this 'Jewish view' that the problems have arisen. In an apparent attempt, not only to harmonize the scriptures with this Jewish view, but also, noting the fact that, because they had taken this view, the Jews in 33 A.D. were killing the typical Passover Lamb at exactly the same time (3 P.M.) as they were killing the antitypical Passover Lamb, the Lamb of God, some have thought that all this was by Divine Arrangement and must therefore show up in the type. While the scriptures speak of things being fulfilled 'even the selfsame day' there seems to be little or nothing else that is to the very hour.

While it is absolutely true that God has shown us wonderful things in the types found in the Old Testament, nevertheless, we need to be careful in our handling of His word and never to force what we want to find into it. In this we are reminded of Brother Russell's words in Volume 1:

'The various creeds continually conflict and clash; and as each claims a Bible basis, the confusion of thought, and evident discord, are charged to God's Word. This has given rise to the common proverb: 'The Bible is an old fiddle, upon which any tune can be played.' A24:2

Looking back at this letter published in 1902 it is worthy to note that this is based upon the Jewish tradition. Here we cannot help but be reminded that our Lord chided the leaders of Israel for too great a reliance upon their traditions. See Matt. 15:1-9. While the scriptures do indicate 'between the evenings' we cannot find any point where they indicate that these two evenings would refer to anything other than the delimiter between one day and the next. It is as if we were to say 'Between midnight and midnight.' They simply indicate that evening refers to both the closing of one day and the beginning of the next. It was only the Jewish tradition that insisted upon two evenings in the same day.

In support of this thought that the evening refers to either the beginning or the ending of the Jewish day consider how the scriptures refer to the Passover and the Feast of Unleavened Bread using the terms both ways.

Exodus 12:18 (KJV) In the first month, on the fourteenth day of the month at even, ye shall eat unleavened bread, until the one and twentieth day of the month at even.

Here it sounds like the 14th is indicated, the same way as the Passover is indicated, i.e., on the 14th 'at even'.

Numbers 28:16-17 (KJV) 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.

In Numbers 28 we have the clear distinction that the 14th is the Passover and the 15th is the Feast of Unleavened Bread, lasting 7 days. Yet in Exodus 12:18 (cited above) we are told that the 7 days of Unleavened bread began on the 14th 'at even'  '..on the fourteenth day of the month at even, ye shall eat unleavened bread'. Unless we learn to 'rightly divide the word of truth' we will be hopelessly lost in confusion. All confusion is removed however by the simple truth that the term 'evening' in the Old Testament is referring to that time at sunset. Since this is the close of one day as well as the beginning of another we must rely upon the sense of the passage to understand which day is being specifically indicated. In this case, we suggest that the evening of the 14th indicated the end of the day at sunset and therefore was the beginning of the 15th, thus beginning the 'feast' described in Numbers 28:17.

In examining the presentation given in the Herald [March/April 2004] we find the following:

'What is meant by 'between the two evenings?' There are two quite different views. (Note that the Jewish day was reckoned from sunset to sunset, 6 P.M. to 6 P.M. our time.)

'One view is that the first evening refers to sunset at 6 P.M. our time when the Jewish fourteenth day of Nisan began, and the second evening refers to when it became completely dark. In this view 'between the two evenings' would mean it was near the beginning of the new Jewish day.

'A second view is that the first evening begins at twelve noon when the sun begins to set from the zenith, and the second evening is 6 P.M. when the sun set, ending the Jewish day. Thus 'between the two evenings' would be 3 P.M., near the ending of the Jewish day. ''

These are the only views presented in the article, as though no other view exists amongst the brethren. [We note in the first paragraph quoted above that the article's author does recognize 6 P.M to 6 P.M. as being the Jewish day, but he does not recognize that anyone (including Pastor Russell) ever used that to refer to 'between the evenings.']

There is at least one more view, i.e., the one presented by Pastor Russell. His explanation is that this simply refers to the Jewish day as beginning with sunset at the close of Nisan 13 to the following sunset which ends Nisan 14 (or about 6 P.M. to 6 P.M.) and says nothing about the time from sunset until it became completely dark.

'Beginning with the 1st of Nisan the Hebrews counted, and on the tenth day the Paschal lamb was chosen or selected from the flock. On the fourteenth day (the full of the moon*) "between evenings" (at any time between 6 p.m. of the 13th and 6 p.m. of the 14th of Nisan) the lamb was to be killed and eaten. On the fifteenth day their Passover Feast began, lasting seven days, the first and the seventh days being observed as specially holy, as Sabbath days, or "high" days. (Exod. 12:16.) On the sixteenth day, the omer of the first-fruits of the barley harvest was offered to the Lord, and fifty days after (Pentecost Day) they offered before the Lord two wave loaves. – Lev. 23:17.' R5191

The Herald article then proceeds to give 4 reasons why (to its author) the 2nd view (mentioned above) is correct. The first point being:

'1. It becomes a type of the exact time (3 P.M.) our Lord died on the cross as the antitypical Passover lamb.'

Here we have the heart of the matter, the author's number one point. It is a clear attempt to form a type (in this case, where one does not exist). Admittedly this is tempting and yet there is a very simple explanation which glorifies our Heavenly Father while at the same time keeps us away from the temptation to force our own views into the picture.

Our view is that the God of Heaven, knowing the Jewish people would be caught up in 'the traditions of men,' foresaw this taking place and permitted it in order to give extreme emphasis to them that in killing Jesus, they were indeed killing the true Passover lamb, the lamb of God. The emphasis was made by the fact that, while His crucifixion began hours earlier, his death was at exactly the time when the Jewish tradition had them killing the (typical) Passover lamb.

'2. The exact same Hebrew phrase, 'between the evenings,' is used in Exodus 29:38, 39 to describe the time the second daily sacrifice was to be offered: 'This, moreover, is what thou shalt offer upon the altar, two lambs of a year old day by day, continually: the one lamb, shalt thou offer in the morning, and the second lamb, shalt thou offer between the evenings' (Rotherham). The King James translation has 'other lamb' but the correct Hebrew should be 'second lamb' (Strong's #8145). Notice they were to offer the first lamb in the morning (that is daylight hours) and the second lamb 'between the evenings,' that is later in the day. If 'between the evenings' were to mean the beginning of the Jewish day (after 6 P.M.) then it would be the first offering of the day, not the second as this Scripture brings out.'

The article then proceeds with a 2nd point and seems to again overlook the fact that, while the emphasis is on sunset at either the beginning or the ending of the day, the phrase 'between the evenings' simply indicates the entire day. This appears to be an argument against the view that was presented earlier by the author:

'One view is that the first evening refers to sunset at 6 P.M. our time when the Jewish fourteenth day of Nisan began, and the second evening refers to when it became completely dark. In this view 'between the two evenings' would mean it was near the beginning of the new Jewish day.'

This is not the view of the scriptures nor of Pastor Russell nor of anyone with whom we have discussed this subject. It appears to be an argument against 'a straw man.' In any case, the reference to the second lamb on the same day being sacrificed 'between the evenings' simply indicates that it is much nearer to sunset than the first or 'morning' offering. When this is kept in mind the argument made in point 2 concerning the offering of the two lambs (as it relates to the timing of anything to do with the Passover) becomes moot.

Sunset ends one day and starts another
Leviticus 23:27, 32 (KJV) Also on the tenth day of this seventh month there shall be a day of atonement: it shall be an holy convocation unto you; and ye shall afflict your souls, and offer an offering made by fire unto the Lord. ' [32] It shall be unto you a sabbath of rest, and ye shall afflict your souls: in the ninth day of the month at even, from even unto even, shall ye celebrate your sabbath.

The third point of the article refers to Lev. 23:27, 32 and seems to be pointing out that evening indicates primarily the end of the day at sunset, especially when it comes to the Day of Atonement. To this we agree. To go a bit further, we suggest it was because of the fact that evening was at sunset and that this indicated both the close of one day and the beginning of another, that the Lord was so explicit when it came to the Day of Atonement. There was to be no doubt. The Israelites had to clearly understand exactly which day was being spoken of.

'Tradition' kept at all cost
'4. Josephus, the historian of Jesus' day, stated that the evening sacrifice was at the ninth hour (our 3 P.M.). When referring to the time Jerusalem was under siege by Pompey in the first century B.C., he writes: 'Any one may hence learn how very great piety we exercise towards God and the observance of his laws, since the priests were not at all hindered from their sacred ministrations by their fear during the siege, but did still twice each day, in the morning and about the ninth hour, offer their sacrifices on the altar' (Antiquities, 14, 4, 3).'

Point 4 only has importance if we were in acceptance of the article's first explanation of between the evenings as being from sunset (6 P.M) and the time when it became dark. We claim that this is not the scriptural view. This argument simply verifies how tenaciously the Jews held to their traditions. In a similar fashion today there are many nominal Christians who would die rather than to denounce the trinity. They hold very firmly to their misunderstanding of God's word.

The Correct Understanding Must Include All Scripture

At this point we would like to introduce some scriptures which were not taken into account in the Herald article. Please notice that these are NOT obscure texts that might easily be missed in a study of the Passover. No, these are all taken from the account of the original exodus given in Exodus chapter 12 and should not be overlooked.

From Exodus 12
1) 21-22 (ASV) Then Moses called for all the elders of Israel, and said unto them, Draw out, and take you lambs according to your families, and kill the passover. [22] And ye shall take a bunch of hyssop, and dip it in the blood that is in the basin, and strike the lintel and the two side-posts with the blood that is in the basin; and none of you shall go out of the door of his house until the morning.

2) 28 (KJV) And the children of Israel went away, and did as the LORD had commanded Moses and Aaron, so did they.

3) 32 (KJV) Also take your flocks and your herds, as ye have said, and be gone; and bless me also.

4) 35 (KJV) And the children of Israel did according to the word of Moses; and they borrowed of the Egyptians jewels of silver, and jewels of gold, and raiment: [36] And the LORD gave the people favour in the sight of the Egyptians, so that they lent unto them such things as they required. And they spoiled the Egyptians.

5) 37 (NASB) Now the sons of Israel journeyed from Rameses to Succoth, about six hundred thousand men on foot, aside from children.

6) 50 (KJV) Thus did all the children of Israel; as the LORD commanded Moses and Aaron, so did they.

From the above verses we collect the additional points to help our understanding. Let us now include these facts along with that which we have already looked at and see how the Truth lines up.

Examining the details of the Type

Fact Scripture References
The lamb was slain on the 14th. Exo. 12:6
Blood put on doorposts of the houses. Exo. 12:7
Passover supper was eaten that night. Exo. 12:8-10
Firstborn of Israel passed over and Egyptian firstborn slain at midnight. Exo. 12:29
After eating the Passover meal, Israel was to remain in their houses until the morning. Exo. 12:21,22
Israel did as God commanded. Exo. 12:28,35,50
Israel departed from Egypt with 600,000 men, giving a total estimated population of about 2,000,000. Exo. 12:37
Israel left with their flocks and their herds. Exo. 12:32
Israel took spoils from Egypt. Exo. 12:33-36
Israel left Egypt from Rameses on the 15th, 'the morrow after the Passover.' Exo. 12:37; Num. 33:3
They left Egypt by Night. Deut. 16:1

The Herald article summarized its points by use of a chart which we have tried to faithfully represent here.

In 'View B', the supposedly correct view, where does the author take into account the fact that on the night they ate the Passover Israel remained in their houses that night until the morning? ' Exo. 12:22, 28

Israel remaining in the house until the morning is an essential part of the type. The lesson for the New Creation is clear. We are to remain in the house (household of faith), under the blood (of Christ) until the night time of sin and death is passed, thus we are 'passed over' and spared from (second) death. If we, like the firstborn of Israel on the night of Passover, were to come out from the door of the house before the (millennial) morning, we, like they, would die. In our case it would be much worse than the death of any of Israel's firstborn for they would still come up in the resurrection with the world of mankind. Not so with us. If we come out from under the blood during the night of sin we will die the second death, from which there will never be a recovery.

This was clearly Pastor Russell's thought on the subject. Consider the following taken from the Expanded Bible Comments on Exo. 12:22.

'None of you shall go out – If any abide not under the covering of the blood of Christ he must surely perish. R1657:2, R131:5

None of the nominal first-born shall be passed over and become members of the Church in glory except those who, during this night, abide under the blood. R2272:5

Until the morning – And so the deliverance of spiritual Israel comes in the Millennial morning. "God shall help her, early in the morning." (Psa. 46:5, Margin) R2918:3'

Israel left Egypt the Night of the 15th

The author of the article did a nice job of nailing down the fact that Israel left Egypt on the night of the 15th (esp. by comparing Deut. 16:1 with Num. 33:3).

'We are told specifically that Israel left Egypt by night of the fifteenth..'

Israel lived in the land of Goshen, not Rameses. (See Gen. 46:28 - 47:1) Since the scriptures tell us specifically that they left Egypt from Rameses we must conclude that they had to travel some distance, with their flocks and herds, in order to get there. All this takes time and more than accounts for what the article refers to as the '18 hour delay.' When we consider the logistics involved, we stand in amazement and marvel at how Moses was able to organize 2 million people to get all this done in less than a single day!

Even if Goshen and Rameses were two different names for the same place (we think this was more like city and suburbs of today), the fact of their departure coming on the night of the 15th coupled with their remaining in the house until the morning eliminates the possibility that they could have eaten the Passover supper, remained in the house until morning, AND left Egypt all in the same night. They could not both remain in the house and leave the same night. It is simply a physical impossibility.

Exodus 12:10 (KJV) And ye shall let nothing of it remain until the morning; and that which remaineth of it until the morning ye shall burn with fire.

Exo. 12:10 is interesting here. The instruction given to Israel was that they were to eat all of the lamb that night. Now the Lord knew that for some families this was simply too much to eat at one time. So He provided a way for them to comply with His requirements by allowing them to burn anything that they were not able to consume that night.

What does this have to do with our current discussion? We answer it is yet another way the Lord made clear the fact that Israel did NOT leave Egypt that night. No, they were still in their houses until the morning where (for those families who were unable to completely consume the lamb that night) they burned all that remained from the Passover supper.

What Pastor Russell Taught

Passover supper and Jesus' death on same day

'The eating of this supper on the night preceding our Lord's death, and yet the same day, was made possible by the Jewish custom, which began each day, not at midnight, but in the evening. The Lord evidently arranged all the affairs of Israel in conformity with the types which they were to express.

Jesus and disciples required to celebrate Passover

'As Jews "born under the Law," it was obligatory upon our Lord and his apostles to celebrate this type, and at its proper time; and it was after they had thus observed the Jewish Supper, eating the lamb with unleavened bread and herbs, and probably also, as was customary, with "fruit of the vine," that the Lord – taking part of the unleavened bread and of the fruit of the vine remaining over from the Jewish Supper, the type – instituted amongst his disciples and for his entire Church, whom they represented (John 17:20), a new thing, that with them, as the spiritual Israel, the Church of the First-born, the New Creation, should take the place of, and supplant, the Jewish Passover Supper.' - F462

Lamb both killed and eaten on 14th

"Beginning with the 1st of Nisan the Hebrews counted, and on the tenth day the Paschal lamb was chosen or selected from the flock. On the fourteenth day (the full of the moon) "between evenings" (at any time between 6 P.M. of the 13th and 6 P.M. of the 14th of Nisan) the lamb was to be killed and eaten. On the fifteenth day their Passover Feast began, lasting seven days ..." R5191

In eating the Passover, Jesus fulfilled the Law

'The Passover supper of lamb and herbs and unleavened bread (fulfilling the Law, which was not ended until the cross) was eaten shortly after 6 P.M. Then followed the institution of the Memorial Supper of bread and wine, representative of the body and blood of the antitypical lamb.' R2270:8

Law permits both killing and eating on 14th

'We have various questions respecting the fourteenth of Nisan, all of which arise from a failure to recognize that the "Passover," as understood by the Jews, refers to the Feast of Passover, and has no reference to the killing of the lamb on the 14th, - which is the thing we celebrate. With the Jew, the 14th was merely a day of preparation for Passover, and the eating of the lamb, and especially its killing, was only a part of that preparation. The Law provided that the lamb should be killed on the 14th of Nisan at even – or literally, between evenings. It was therefore within the scope of that requirement, if the lamb were killed and eaten on the 14th at any time after 6 P.M. of the 13th.' – R2283:4

Jesus and disciples celebrate Passover and memorial on 14th

It was on the fourteenth day of Nisan that our Lord partook of the Passover with his disciples, early in the evening. Later on in the same night he was betrayed. The next morning of the same day he was condemned and crucified. Later in the same day he was buried. All this was on the fourteenth day between evenings, between six p.m., where the day began, and the next six p.m., where it ended, and it was on the next day, the 15th, in the evening, that the Passover feast of the Jews was celebrated. We celebrate that feast anti-typically, continuously feasting and rejoicing in the grace of God toward us. But the Lord's Supper belongs to the 14th of Nisan and commemorates the killing of the Lamb of God. That night in which the Passover feast was eaten represents this Gospel age'a dark time, in which sin and evil still triumph, and darkness is abroad, and in which the Lord's people feed upon the merit of Christ, our Passover Lamb, slain for us, and realize that his "flesh is meat indeed." – R2918

While it is good to see what 'that servant' had to say on this (or any) subject of scripture, nevertheless we are to 'prove all things'; old fast that which is good.' 1 Thes. 5:21

With this in mind, it behooves us to take in all the pertinent facts and then see just how this fits with the scriptures.

Let us look again at the chart previously presented but now modified to include those facts which were left out before.

Now that we have included the fact of Israel remaining in the house until the morning, as well as the approximately 2,000,000 of Israel traveling with their flocks and their herds from Goshen to Rameses, we discover that 'View B' cannot work whereas 'View A' incorporates the previously missing facts and requires no adjustments.

The Blood of the Lamb is Most Important

Notice how the Lord makes constant reference to the blood of the Lamb. As you read, keep thinking of the antitype - the church being under the blood of Christ.

[7] '..take of the blood, and strike it on the two side posts and on the upper door post of the houses ... [13] And the blood shall be to you for a token upon the houses where you are: and when I see the blood, I will pass over you, and the plague shall not be upon you to destroy you, when I smite the land of Egypt. ..[21] .. take you a lamb ..and kill the passover. [22] .. take .. the blood .. and strike the lintel and the two side posts with the blood ..; and none of you shall go out at the door of his house until the morning. [23] .. and when he sees the blood, ..the LORD will pass over the door, and will not suffer the destroyer to come in unto your houses to smite you.'
Golden Text – "Christ our Passover is sacrificed for us." – '1 Cor. 5:7'.

'The term Passover signifies to pass by or spare from an affliction. When the last plague was visited upon Egypt, the houses of the Israelites were all marked with the blood of a slain lamb, that the destroying angel might not cut off the first born of Israel with the first born of Egypt. These first born ones were afterward represented in the priestly tribe of Levi, to which Moses belonged (Exod. 13:2; Num. 3:11-13), and through this priesthood all Israel was brought into covenant relationship with God. The Gospel Church, is the antitype. These alone of all people are now in danger of everlasting death – the second death – because these only have the knowledge sufficient – if rejected or abused – to bring condemnation to the second death.

'The first born of Israel represented those who now by faith abide in Christ, under "the blood of sprinkling" – the precious blood of Christ, our passover lamb, slain for us. And these shall be delivered, spared, passed over, being counted worthy of life through the merit of the precious blood of Christ. But if any abide not under this covering, he must surely perish, as any of the first born of Israel would have perished had they ventured out, beyond the protection of the blood of the typical lamb. How forcibly does the type thus illustrate the value of the precious blood of Christ, our Passover Lamb!' - R1657

Amen! Indeed we must all remain in the house, under the blood of the antitypical lamb of God during the night until the Millennial Morning (fully) comes in and we will no longer be in danger of the second death.

Notice how important a feature this is to the entire Passover Type! It is specifically to show the deliverance of the firstborn by remaining under the blood of the lamb that God arranged all this! According to the Herald article this IS NOT what took place. In that article, Israel did not remain under the blood, but rather, they left Egypt that night. Not only does this completely destroy this most important feature of the type, but it denies the scriptural account itself which declares in no uncertain terms 'none of you shall go out at the door of his house until the morning' (vs. 22) and 'the children of Israel went away, and did as the LORD had commanded Moses and Aaron, so did they' (vs. 28). They simply cannot both remain in their houses (under the blood of the lamb) until the morning and yet leave their houses to depart from Egypt in the same night. Neither can we both remain under the blood of the Lamb of God and yet come out from under the blood and expect to live.

Our Lord's Last Day as a Man

According to the Herald article the Passover was to be eaten on the 15th. This we have already demonstrated was an impossibility. It then goes on to conclude that if Jesus celebrated on the 14th He would have been in violation of the law. This is really the most important feature of all. This is why determining the correct day for the eating of the Passover is absolutely vital, for if the premise is correct (i.e. that the Passover supper was to be eaten on the 15th) then the conclusion would also be correct. However, if their premise is false (as we have shown) then their conclusion is also false. Since we have validated the Passover supper as being on the 14th, we must conclude that it was the nation of Israel that was in violation of the Law and not our Lord.

That our Lord and His disciples celebrated the Passover one day before the rest of the nation of Israel is a fact that all who are familiar with the New Testament accounts can agree. The question brought up by the Herald article is: 'Did Jesus and His disciples celebrate the Passover in accordance with the Law?'

The Herald article's answer is a qualified 'No.' Their claim is that what Jesus celebrated was something that looked and felt very much like the Passover, but in fact was not the Passover at all. It was simply a Passover like meal and from this our Lord instituted the Memorial of His death.

'..we believe that Jesus' last supper was not the Passover observance.'

After quoting Luke 22:7-16 the claim is made that Jesus did not bother to explain to His disciples that he would not eat the Passover because he would then be dead.

Do the facts support this? Let us examine the same passage and note the internal evidences to see if there is something which makes the matter clear, one way or the other.

Luke 22:7-16 (KJV) Then came the day of unleavened bread, when the passover must be killed. [8] And he sent Peter and John, saying, Go and prepare us the passover, that we may eat. [9] And they said unto him, Where wilt thou that we prepare? [10] And he said unto them, Behold, when ye are entered into the city, there shall a man meet you, bearing a pitcher of water; follow him into the house where he entereth in. [11] And ye shall say unto the goodman of the house, The Master saith unto thee, Where is the guestchamber, where I shall eat the passover with my disciples? [12] And he shall shew you a large upper room furnished: there make ready. [13] And they went, and found as he had said unto them: and they made ready the passover. [14] And when the hour was come, he sat down, and the twelve apostles with him. [15] And he said unto them, With desire I have desired to eat this passover with you before I suffer: [16] For I say unto you, I will not any more eat thereof, until it be fulfilled in the kingdom of God.

FIVE TIMES in this passage it calls it the Passover! Three times it is Jesus Himself who calls it the Passover. How then is it possible that anyone could think it was otherwise?

We have emphasized certain portions of the passage in order to help draw our attention to the pertinent facts. In verse 8 Jesus specifically calls it 'the Passover,' indicating they all would eat of it. In verse 11 he declares 'I shall eat the Passover.' And in verse 15 he is specific that He is not referring to any Passover but 'this Passover.' If, as claimed by the article in question, Jesus instructed his disciples (verse 11) to tell the Goodman of the house that 'I shall eat the Passover,' but it was not the Passover, then our Lord lied, or at least deceived the Goodman by these instructions. This cannot be true since the prophetic description of Him is:

Isaiah 53:9 (KJV) And he made his grave with the wicked, and with the rich in his death; because he had done no violence, neither was any deceit in his mouth.

Additional Support
Mark 14:16 (KJV) And his disciples went forth, and came into the city, and found as he had said unto them: and they made ready the passover.

Exercise Extreme Caution

A Denial of the Ransom

One of these two views is a denial of the Ransom. If the 14th (when our Lord celebrated) is indeed the correct date for the Passover and brethren are presenting the thought that the 15th is correct, they are teaching that our Lord did not truly celebrate the Passover. Since their claim is that He did not eat the Passover Supper then He therefore failed to keep the Law and that is a denial of the Ransom.

On the other hand, if the 15th is the correct date for the Passover supper, and brethren are teaching that the 14th is correct, then our Lord in calling it 'the Passover' was not telling the truth, i.e., He lied and thus sinned. And since He sinned (if indeed the 15th be correct) He could no longer be the perfect unblemished lamb of God, the corresponding price for Adam. Once again, a denial of the Ransom.

The matter should be clearly before our minds. The two views are completely incompatible. Either the 14th or the 15th of Nisan was the correct date for the eating of the Passover supper. If those who teach it was the 14th are correct then those who teach the 15th are (doctrinally) denying the Ransom. If those who teach it was on the 15th are correct, then those who teach it was on the 14th are teaching that Jesus violated the Law by celebrating the Passover on the wrong day. This would be a denial of the Ransom.

Be careful to judge Principles and Doctrines, not Individuals

As children of the Most High we are to both exercise judgment (discernment) as well as Christian charity. There is not one among us who does not want the opportunity to search out the scriptures without being told that the direction of our search is somehow forbidden. What we have presented here seems to us to be clear and fits all the facts. The view presented in the Herald (no doubt unintentionally) missed a couple of key facts and as a result an incorrect conclusion was reached.

Let us be clear on this point! We do not for a single moment believe that the brother who wrote the article which appeared in the March/April 2004 edition of the Herald has in mind to deny the Ransom. Let us immediately put all such thoughts far from us. Rather let us approach this subject with clear thought and, leaving our own preferences and emotions behind, examine the facts of scripture on the subject and let them speak for themselves.

Let us be equally clear concerning those who may share his views on this subject. The same thing applies. There are many fine brethren with whom we have shared sweet fellowship in the past and hope to do so again who may share the views of this brother. All need to be given the freedom and the time to consider these points. We know of NONE who believe they are denying the Ransom by such belief.

We urge all to examine this subject carefully (including the points brought out in this article) with a prayerful attitude. These matters are too important to be considered as merely 'an interesting point of view,' for they touch directly on the core of Bible teaching, i.e., the Ransom itself.

We are reminded of Pastor Russell's words in the forward to the Fourth Volume when he said:

'We discuss PRINCIPLES, DOCTRINES, ALWAYS; individuals, NEVER!' Div

So too here, we are discussing principles and doctrines, not the brother who wrote the article, nor those who may agree with his point of view.

A Personal Story

In my youth there was, as has occurred on other occasions, doctrinal controversy amongst the brethren. I remember very clearly being at convention in San Diego and staying in the home of brethren. After supper one evening three of us remained at the dinner table discussing some of the 'issues of the day.' There were two on one side of the issues and I was on the other side. We had a good discussion with point, counter-point and several scriptures being used, all with the proper spirit. I remember believing that I was defending the truth. But the brethren presented me with a scripture and an argument for which I had no counter-point. To this day I see no counter-point to the argument they presented and, as a result, it has changed my life. All my thinking concerning the subject (primarily concerning the Times of Restitution and the setting up of the Kingdom) has been radically changed as a result of that single discussion.

So what does that have to do with our discussion of the Passover? The writer of the Herald article under discussion was one of the two brothers who so very kindly took the time to patiently go over (with this young and inexperienced brother) and present from the scriptures that understanding which had such a great impact on my consecrated life. At no time during that conversation did I ever get the feeling that these brethren, of such greater experience than my own, were looking down on me or treating my arguments as though they were not sincere.

In all likelihood the brother who wrote the article does not remember this conversation and I am sure he has no idea the impact it had on my life, but I will forever be grateful to the Lord for the experience and for His sending these two brethren to help set me on a better course.

The mere fact that we are touching things which involve so much should cause us to exercise great caution. It is of little importance how one has viewed this subject in the past. What is, however, of great importance is how we look at it now. It is one thing to hold and even to teach a false doctrine. It is quite another to continue in that way after the Lord (through whatever means He may choose) shows us the error of our ways. This is true of all our discussions. We all must exercise both judgment (discernment) as well as Christian liberty.

Some of the points in this article may be new to some and therefore take time to 'digest.' To such we offer the following scripture (which we have always taken great comfort in, especially when the correct answer is not immediately apparent to us):

Proverbs 15:28 (KJV) The heart of the righteous studieth to answer:

May the Lord bless all His people with the joys of the Truth.

Brother Rick Hill