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Bible Truth Examiner

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Scriptures are cited from the King James (Authorized) Version, unless stated otherwise.

“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”

(1 Corinthians 5: 7, 8).

ONE of the most significant experiences of the nation of Israel was the Passover. The Feast of the Passover, which was celebrated every year for seven days, began on the fifteenth day of their first month. In general, it celebrated the deliverance of Israel from the bondage of Egypt, but in particular, the passing over, or sparing alive of the first-born of the nation during the plague of death that came upon the Egyptians. As the tenth and last of the plagues, it finally compelled Egypt to release the Israelites from compulsory servitude. The passing over of the first-born of Israel became the precursor of the liberation of the entire nation, and their passing in safety over the Red Sea into freedom. We can easily see why such an important event would still be celebrated by the Jews as commemorating the birth of their nation. And it should be of interest to us, for it pertains to natural Israel, spiritual Israel and the whole world of mankind.

Israel’s Passover Pictures Great Truths

God used the Apostles to give us clues whereby we may understand the deep things of God, and one of those clues is found in our text. From those verses and other Scriptures, we see that fleshly Israel typified the whole people of God – all who shall ultimately become His people, down to the close of the Millennial Age; the Egyptians represented the opponents of God’s people, Pharaoh, their ruler, representing Satan; and Pharaoh’s servants and horsemen representing fallen angels and men who have associated, or who will associate themselves with Satan as opponents to the Lord and His people. 

The Israelites longed for deliverance, and groaned under their taskmasters, yet were weak and unable to deliver themselves, except for the Lord’s intervention, and His sending Moses to be their deliverer. Similarly, the world of mankind at present and throughout the past has been groaning and travailing in pain together under Satan, Sin and Death. These billions have a craving for liberty, but their only hope is in God and in the antitypical Moses, who shall deliver His people in the appointed time. He shall bring them across the Red Sea, representing the Second Death, in which Satan and all who associate with him shall be everlastingly destroyed, typified by the overwhelming of Pharaoh and his hosts in the literal Red Sea.  

The Church Pictured by the First-Born

In the type, the first-born occupied a special place – they were the heirs, and were also subjected to a special testing in advance of their brethren. They became liable to death before the general exodus, and when the exodus did occur, these first-born ones had a special work to do in connection with the general deliverance. They became a separated class, represented in the tribe of Levi, and gave up their inheritance in the land so that they might become the teachers of their brethren.

This tribe or house of Levi represents the household of faith, which is represented in turn by the preparatory Royal Priesthood. They gave up their inheritance in earthly things, and shall constitute the Royal Priesthood, whose Chief Priest is our Lord, and along with Him, shall bless, rule and instruct the world during the Millennial Age. As the first-born of Israel in Egypt were subject to death, but were passed over, escaped it, and losing the earthly inheritance became a priesthood, so the antitypical Church of first-borns was subject to the Second Death, having their trial for everlasting life or everlasting death in advance of the remainder of mankind.

They sacrificed the earthly inheritance with Jesus, to attain a heavenly inheritance – glory, honor and immortality with Him. Their passing over occurred during the night-time of the Gospel Age, and they will be the leaders of the Lord’s host, to bring it forth from the bondage of Sin and Satan, as we read: “The whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together,” waiting “for the manifestation of the sons of God” (Romans 8: 22, 19).

But to effect the passing over of the first-born and the deliverance of all the Lord’s people in the type, the Passover lamb needed to be slain, its blood sprinkled upon the doorposts and lintels of the house, and its flesh eaten that night with bitter herbs and unleavened bread. Thus each house of Israel represented the household of faith, and each lamb represented the Lamb of God which taketh away the sin of the world, and the first-born in each family represented the Christ, Head and Body. The bitter herbs represented the trials and afflictions of the Gospel Age. As each household was to eat with staff in hand and girded for a journey, it represented that the antitypical first-born and household of faith who would partake of the Lamb during the nighttime of the Gospel Age would be pilgrims and strangers in the world, realize the bondage of sin and death, and be desirous of being led by the Lord into freedom from sin and corruption – into liberty of the sons of God.

Our Lord’s Memorial Instituted       

In harmony with this type of the killing of the Passover lamb on the 14th day of the first month – the day preceding the seven days’ Feast of the Passover – our Lord died as the antitypical Passover Lamb. At no other time was it possible for our Lord to have finished His sacrificial death which He began when He was thirty years of age, in His baptism unto death.

As the Jews were commanded to select the lamb of sacrifice, and to receive it into their houses on the tenth day of the first month, the Lord appropriately offered Himself to them on that date, when, five days before the Passover, He rode into the city on the ass, the multitude crying, “Hosanna to the son of David: Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord!” However, the nation, through its representatives, the rulers, rejected Him. Therefore, they lost the opportunity of becoming as a nation the first-born ones, the Royal Priesthood. But the Scriptures inform us that they will have an opportunity of accepting the Lamb, under the Lord and His Church (Romans 11: 11-26).

At the close of our Lord’s ministry, on the 14th day of the first month, in “the same night in which he was betrayed,” and in the same day, therefore, in which He died as the antitypical Lamb, He celebrated the typical Passover of the Jews with His disciples. They ate the typical lamb that represented Himself, His sacrifice for the sins of the world. 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 that began each day, not at midnight, but at 6:00 p.m. in the evening. The Lord evidently arranged all the affairs of Israel in conformity with the types that they were to express.

As Jews “born under the Law,” our Lord and His Apostles were obligated to celebrate this type, and at its proper time. After they had observed the Jewish supper, eating the lamb with unleavened bread and herbs, and probably also with “fruit of the vine,” the Lord took part of the unleavened bread and the fruit of the vine remaining over from the Jewish Supper, and instituted a new thing, something that would take the place of, and supplant, the Jewish Passover Supper.

What was it? It was a Memorial of the antitype – a remembrancer for His followers of the beginning of the fulfillment of the antitypical Passover. To accept our Lamb, and to commemorate His death for us, means expectancy as to the promised deliverance of God’s people. Hence it signifies that those appreciating and memorializing intelligently while in the world, shall not be of the world, but that they seek more desirable conditions, free from the present reign of Sin and Death. These partake of the true, antitypical unleavened bread, and they partake of the bitter herbs of persecution (2 Timothy 3: 12).

When our Lord instituted His Memorial, or Last Supper, He “took bread: And when he had given thanks, he brake it, and said, Take, eat: this is my body, which is broken for you [this represents Me, the antitypical Lamb; it represents My flesh]: this do in remembrance of me. After the same manner also he took the cup, when he had supped, saying, This cup is the new testament [covenant] in my blood: this do ye, as oft as ye drink it, in remembrance of me.” As it would not have been proper to celebrate the Passover at any other time than that appointed of the Lord, likewise it is still not appropriate to celebrate the antitype at any other time than its anniversary (1 Corinthians 11: 23-25).

1 Corinthians 10: 16, 17 reads, “The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not the communion of the blood of Christ? The bread which we break, is it not the communion of the body of Christ? For we being many are one bread [loaf], and one body: for we are all partakers of that one bread.” The Apostle here gives an additional thought respecting the Memorial – that the members of the body of Christ became participators with the Lord in His death, sharers in His sacrifice.

Memorial to be Celebrated Annually

The original celebration of the Memorial was on a particular date – the fourteenth day of the first month, Jewish reckoning. However, as the real meaning of the Lord’s symbolical supper was lost sight of during the Gospel Age, the propriety of its annual observance was also neglected.

The Mass in the Roman Catholic Church practically took the place of the annual observance of the Lord’s Memorial Supper; for the Mass was said at frequent intervals, with a view to cleansing the people repeatedly from sin. As the Reformers saw this error, they attempted to come back to the original simplicity of the first institution. However, not seeing the close relationship between the type of the Passover and the antitype of our Lord’s death, and the supper as a memorial of the antitype, they did not grasp the propriety of its annual observance. Hence, some Protestant denominations celebrate monthly, others every three months and some every four months. The Disciples celebrate weekly, based upon the statements of the Acts of the Apostles that the early Church came together on the first day of the week, and had “breaking of bread” (Acts 2: 42, 46; 20: 7).

But these weekly celebrations were not commemorations of the Lord’s death, but were love-feasts, commemorating His resurrection, and the breakings of bread that they enjoyed with Him on several first-days during the forty days before His ascension. The remembrance of these breakings of bread probably led them to meet on each first day of the week thereafter, and to have a social meal together, a breaking of bread. The cup is never mentioned in connection with these, while in every mention of the Lord’s Memorial Supper it occupies as important a place as does the loaf.

Who may Celebrate?

(1.) All who have faith in the precious blood of Christ as the sacrifice for sins.

(2.) Consecration to the Lord and His service, even unto death.

1 Corinthians 11: 27-29 reads, “Whosoever shall eat this bread, and drink this cup of the Lord, unworthily, shall be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord. But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of that bread, and drink of that cup. For he that eateth and drinketh unworthily, eateth and drinketh damnation [condemnation] to himself, not discerning the Lord’s body.”

The Apostle here warns against a careless celebration of this Memorial that would make of it a feast. Instead, it is a solemn Memorial, intended only for the justified and consecrated. Whoever does not discern that the loaf represents Jesus’ flesh, and that the cup represents His blood, would, in partaking of it, come under condemnation in the Lord’s sight, and in his own conscience. Before partaking of these emblems, each individual should decide for himself whether or not he believes and trusts in the broken body and shed blood of Jesus as being his ransom price; and secondly, whether or not he has consecrated his all to the Lord. But all who have taken the above two steps may, and surely will, desire to celebrate and conform to the Master’s dying admonition, “Eat ye all of it; drink ye all of it.”

Who may Officiate?

The creation of a clergy class in the Church has created such a deep impression that it is still generally believed that “an ordained minister” must officiate in such a memorial service. However, the Scriptures teach that all the consecrated are fully commissioned to preach the Lord’s Word according to their talents and opportunities, and fully ordained to perform any service or ministry of which they are capable. “All ye are brethren” is the Lord’s standard. Nevertheless, in every little group, or Ecclesia of the Lord’s people, there should be order, and that includes the selecting of “elders in every church.” Therefore, the elders, as the representatives of the Ecclesia, should arrange and minister this Memorial.

Our Lord’s declaration, “Where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them,” shows us that, wherever possible, this memorial should be celebrated with fellow consecrated brethren. Even when an individual finds it impossible to meet with others, his faith may reach out to the Lord to claim the promise – regarding the Lord and himself as the two. May each little group or individual provide bread (unleavened bread, such as a soda biscuit or water cracker) and fruit of the vine (grape juice or wine) for the occasion.

An Order of Service

Following is a suggested order of service, subject to modification as may seem advisable:

(1.) The opening of the service with one or more hymns appropriate to the occasion – of solemn spirit, and drawing the mind in the direction of the Memorial.

(2.) Prayer for Divine blessing upon the assembly, especially upon those who shall participate, remembering also fellow brethren, known and unknown to us in the world, especially such as are celebrating this Memorial on its anniversary.

(3.) The Elder officiating might read an account of the original institution of the Memorial from the Scriptures.

(4.) He or another Elder might then present an account of the matter, type and antitype, either speaking extemporaneously, or reading some such explanation of the entire matter.

(5.) The leader might now call upon some competent brother, or the leader himself may ask a blessing upon the bread and upon those who would partake of it, that the eyes of their understanding might be opened widely to an appreciation of the depths of meaning attaching to it, and that all participating might have blessed communion with the Lord in the use of this symbol of His flesh, and to renew their consecration.

(6.) One of the crackers or pieces of unleavened bread might then be broken, using the Lord’s words, “This is my body, broken for you, eat ye all of it”; and the platter might be served by one of the brothers or by the officiating person himself; or, if the congregation were a large one, a number of plates of bread might be served simultaneously by a proportionate number of consecrated brothers.

(7.) Silence would well be maintained during the passing of the emblems, that the communion of the participants be not intruded upon.

(8.) A blessing should then be asked upon the cup, even as we read our Lord “took the cup and blessed it,” and gave to His disciples. Some brother might be called upon for this prayer of thanks, and of request for the Lord’s blessing upon those participating, and it should similarly be served in silence.

(9.) The service being thus ended, may we follow the course of the Lord and the Apostles – that a hymn be sung in conclusion, and the congregation thus dismissed without any concluding prayer. Let each go to his home avoiding, as far as possible, anything that might disturb his reflections and communion, and that so far as possible, each seek to continue to commune also on the following day, remembering the Lord’s experiences in Gethsemane and on the following day.