And he took bread, gave thanks, brake [it], and gave unto them, saying, this is my body which is given for you:
This Do in Remembrance of Me” (Luke 22:19)
Our yearly Memorial is the observance of our Lord’s death as the antitypical Passover Lamb — “the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world.” (Rev. 13:8) The date of course is Nisan 14, the first month of the Jewish year.
Some might quibble to point out that it is the first month of the Jewish religious year, to distinguish it from Tizri, the seventh month, which is the first month of the Jewish business year.
However, there is no Biblical justification for this distinction for it is merely a “tradition of men” developed over the centuries. At the time of the actual Passover as instituted in Egypt, the Jews had only one calendar year, the religious.
“This month shall be unto you the beginning of months: it shall be the first month of the year to you.” (Exod. 12:2)
All the Jewish ceremonies were thus originally determined on that basis. The Day of Atonement is the tenth day of the seventh month, the month Tizri. The time for beginning Tizri is determined exclusively and without variation by the time the first month Nisan begins.
In this year 2013, the 14th day of Nisan begins after 6:00 PM on March 24. The first day of Nisan is determined by the new moon nearest the Spring Equinox; and the Passover observance must be the 14th day of that month, regardless of the state of the moon on Nisan 14. It is always substantially full on Nisan 14, although it may be two or three days thereafter before it reaches exact fullness.
The “traditions of men” have combined to corrupt the proper date of the Passover, as they have done with so many other Biblical truths.
By the time Jesus appeared on earth, Even the observance of the Passover Feast had become altered considerably from that first fateful and historic date in Egypt. It would seem however; these alterations and enlargements did not annul the essential purpose of the Festival. Even Jesus Himself in most respects, adhered to the custom of His time in observance of the ritual. That this momentous event in Egypt had left a deep and indelible mark on the Jewish mind and heart is attested by their rigid attempt to give it proper service even as late as Jesus’ day. The original ordinance had commanded that “ye shall put away leaven out of your houses” (Ex. 12:15); and this injunction had taken a vice-like hold of the Jewish conscience.
On Nisan 13 the head of each house placed a chunk of leavened bread on a window sill, or other prominent place, and proceeded thence with a pan, a lighted candle and fine brush to gather even fine dust from every corner of the house until the circuit was completed back to the piece designedly placed. Thus, they would be sure of removing any particles of leaven that mice or other animals may have scattered about. Here is another instance of their “straining at gnats,” after which they proceeded to “crucify the Lord of Glory.” Although, it must be noted, those who did this from “an honest and good heart,” eventually did recognize the Messiah and came into the Christ Company.
But not only was the tangible and visible leaven removed, every taint of leaven was also eliminated by having all the culinary and other vessels to be
used during the festival cleaned and legally purified from all contact with leaven or leavened bread. They were then said to be “kosher.” As we ponder this minute examination of each house, we are then more acutely impressed with St. Paul’s admonition, “Let a man examine himself...” Therefore let us keep the feast, not with the old leaven of malice and wickedness, but with unleavened bread of sincerity and truth. As leaven was a type of sin, so each participant of our great Memorial of “Christ our Passover who is sacrificed for us;” should just as scrupulously as did the Jewish fathers eliminate sin and the “lusts that war in our members,” as we come to the antitypical observance. We realize, of course, that it was physically impossible for the Jewish fathers to recover all the leaven from every rat hole and other inaccessible places; nor was it the Divine purpose to impose an impossible burden upon them. Just so, it is not now God’s edict that we do the impossible and eliminate the sin “which has passed upon all men” through the transgressions of our ancestors, which reach back to Father Adam. Therefore, we can only attempt to emulate the typical Jewish householders and free ourselves of such as we can control from a “pure heart.”
In all the minute Jewish preparation, the eldest son of each family – if he were thirteen
years of age or older – was required to fast on the day leading up to the Passover table. The table also was scrupulously set. The special foods provided, and cups or glasses set for wine for each one present and one extra cup “for Elias.”
Had not the last lines of inspired Jewish Scripture warned them, “I will send you Elijah the prophet, before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord.” (Malachi 4:5-6) Not realizing that this was one of those “dark sayings,” every serious-minded Jew was alerted to the possibility of Elijah’s visitation “in an hour when ye think not” and possibly into his own house. Thus, he would not be overtaken unawares.
But this meticulous arrangement was yet further augmented by the decree that at least four vials of wine were to enter into the feast. If any Jews were too poor to bear such expense, the wine was supplied for them out of public funds. Thus, every house would have measurably identical ritual with every other house; each would rest in the assurance that his brethren throughout Jewry were in physical and heart accord with him that momentous night. Nor was this arrangement without purpose. One cup was drained at the very beginning, at which the Small Hallel was recited, or sung; then followed a profuse ceremony. It all ended with the fourth cup and recitation of the Great Hallel. On that awesome and fateful night in Egypt the Jews were to eat the Passover “with your loins girded, your shoes on your feet, and your staff in your hand; and ye shall eat it in haste.” (Ex. 12:11) Probably they stood as an indication that they were still in bondage, not yet free from the yoke of Egypt. But in Jesus’ day they observed the ritual reclining on couches or the like, about the table – as becomes free men.
It will be noted in Luke 22:17 that Jesus “took the cup, and gave thanks”; but this could not have been the Memorial Cup, the latter being described in verse 20 as “the cup after supper” – after “he took bread, and gave thanks.” The cup mentioned in verse 17 was probably the third of the four cups, the Memorial Cup being the fourth one of the feast.
AND THEY SANG THE HALLEL
Above we spoke of the Small Hallel and the Great Hallel. The Hallel in its entirety is the 113th through 118th Psalms, Nos. 113 and 114 being the Small Hallel; and the remaining four the Great Hallel. In Matt. 26:30 it is related, “They had sung a hymn, and went out into the Mount of Olives.” What they sang was the Great Hallel (See Margin for Matt. 26:30). “Hallel” means “praise” and is the root of our English word “hallelujah,” which means “praise to God.” And what more fitting conclusion could be offered to this solemn observance than “praise to God” – praise by bondsmen now made free, formerly blind but now able to see. It is little wonder that those today who are inclined to give voice and outward emphasis to their religion should so easily shout, “Hallelujah!”
In medieval times King Arthur’s Knights of the Round Table often set forth in quest of the Holy Grail, that mythical golden cup which Jesus supposedly used as He said to the Disciples – “This cup is the new testament in my blood.” That Holy Grail was never found, of course, undoubtedly through God’s overruling providence. That Cup today would be the most priceless treasure on earth, an idol of all Christendom.
But God did provide that we should be heir to the exact words of Jesus that night, when we are informed “they had sung the Hallel” and for this heritage we may now offer our own Hallel. Our “praise to God” for the words in Psalms 113 thru 118; and we do well to include some parts of that Scripture in our Memorial observance.
What has been presented here is not in anywise intended to supplant the Passover description in Parousia Volume Six; Page 457 and we urge upon all to read that chapter in their preparation for the occasion. We pray for all our readers the Lord’s rich blessing in their preparation for and participation in this blessed event.
The Memorial of our Lord’s death comes with the realization of the truly sanctified faith justified that its observance under existing conditions draws nearer and nearer to finality. This realization should ever determine us to continue in the course we have embraced and to reside in that isolated and privileged place provided for us as we−
“Go to Him without the Camp”
“And Moses proceeded to take a tent and pitch it by itself outside the camp afar off from the camp, and he called it the Tent of Meeting, – and so it came to pass that whosoever was seeking Yahweh went out unto the tent of meeting, which was on the outside of the camp.” (Ex. 33:7, Rotherham Translation)
Moses in this instance types our Lord as he arranged to remove the Star Members and his fully faithful people from the midst of the measurably faithful and the tare class. This was begun in the Pergamos epoch of the Gospel‑Age church and continued until 1799. We quote parts of Brother Johnson’s comments on this from E: 11‑430 (70):
“God had our Lord do another thing indicative of His displeasure with His nominal people, i.e., remove the faithful servants of the Truth and Its Spirit from places of prominence and influence in the nominal church – caused the symbolic woman, the Covenant promises and the servants who apply them to the brethren to go into the wilderness condition (Rev. 12:6) – to the Tent of Meeting, not the Tabernacle, but Moses' official residence – and that not but slightly away from the erroneous doctrines, practices, organization and disciplines of the nominal church, but very far from these, and made the Truth and the servants who applied it to the brethren, as well as these last, the place where God resided, met with His people and blessed them. Henceforth everyone who in heart’s loyalty sought fellowship with the Lord in spirit, truth, righteousness and holiness went forth from the nominal church to such Truth, its applying servants and the others of His real people, apart from the nominal church (without the camp)... When our Lord busied Himself with Truth matters, its applying servants, etc., the Truth and its Spirit as due became manifest (the cloudy pillar descended), and remained at the entrance, consecration, where God revealed truths to Jesus in the star‑members.”
The foregoing dovetails so very beautifully with St. Paul’s admonition in “Let us, then, now go forth to Him outside of the camp bearing reproach for Him.” (Heb. 13:13, Diaglott)
It is such a very clear‑cut and definite course of procedure for all who elect to “follow In His steps.” Such Indeed is one very appropriate Thought for the Memorial. In principle, this arrangement is as true today as it ever was, of which we shall offer some elaboration further on —
“What mean ye by this service?”
All the details of the original Passover in Egypt were pre‑arranged with meticulous care and exaction, even to its future remembrance “throughout your generations,” and the instruction of the Jewish children during future observances.
It was properly anticipated that inquiring and curious children would ask, “What mean ye by this service?” (Ex. 12:26), thus providing the opportunity to instruct them in the niceties and the solemn responsibility of every Jew participating in it. And this exaction so thoroughly gripped the Jewish conscience and imagination that the Passover observance today is almost identical to what it was in the day of Christ, excepting only the temple sacrifices which are no longer performed. However, they yet make very elaborate preparations for the festival. In previous years we have detailed the search for leaven. After all leaven was collected, it was then cast into the fire, and the master of the house declared in Aramaic that any further leaven that may have been in his house and of which he was unaware was to him no more than dust.
The eldest son of each family, if he were thirteen years or older, was required to fast on the day leading up to the service. Then on the evening of the 14th all the male members of the house betook themselves to the synagogue, attired in their best apparel. On their return they would find the house lit up, and the “Seder” or paschal table prepared. The head of the family took his place at the head of the table, after which all the family, including the servants, were seated around the table, to partake of the Seder, or Haggadah, as some Jews designate it. To be certain the question would properly arise, the youngest son was previously coached to ask, when they came to the table, why on this night above all other nights do they eat bitter herbs, unleavened bread, etc., at which the head of the house would relate the story of the original Passover and the deliverance of the Jewish firstborn on that fateful night in Egypt. Then proceeded the feast, which had been elaborately and meticulously prepared – the bitter herbs such as parsley and horseradish, and a kind of sop with charoseth consisting of various fruits compounded into a sort of mucilage and mixed with vinegar and salt water – each arranged in its own vessel. At the outset the master took some of the bitter herbs, dipped them into the charoseth and gave to each one present to be eaten along with the first cup of wine. Thus the feast continued throughout the evening until the fourth cup and the recitation of the Great Hallel – after which, in the case of Jesus and the Disciples, “they went out into the Mount of Olives.” (Matt. 26:30)
Many of the requirements of the original Passover were subsequently ignored, and properly so. The Lord had told them in Egypt, “Thus shall ye eat it; with your loins girded, your sandals on your feet, and your staff in your hand, – so shall ye eat it in haste, it is Yahweh's passing over.” (Ex. 12:11)
Every minute detail in these instructions is fraught with grave significance to those who would commemorate the memorial of “Christ our Passover who is sacrificed for us.” The girdle in Bible symbols represents the serving features of those who would be servants in God’s Household. “He that is chief among you, let him be your servant,” – just as Jesus Himself illustrated this on His last night by “girding” Himself, taking a towel and washing the Apostle’s feet. “I am among you as one that serveth,” (Luke 22:27) he had told them. Then, the sandals on their feet were a representa-tion of the Gospel‑Age fact that “we have here no abiding city”; always should God's people be alert to “move on” as occasion dictated, ever willing to follow the cloudy‑fiery pillar, the Truth as due; and to remember always that “The King's business requires haste”– no time to linger and ‘change clothes’ when the occasion should arise to journey on.
And all this should be done with “your staff in your hand,” the staff typifying God’s precious promises, without leaning on which no one could ever make the journey from antitypical Egypt (the world in sin) to the heavenly Canaan.
EVER THE TRUE AND THE FALSE
As most of us know, so many features of the true religion have been counterfeited by Satan. This was even true of Jesus’ death and resurrection.
In Ezek. 8:14 it is related, “There sat women weeping for Tammuz.” Tammuz, consort of Ishtar was the Sun God of the Babylonians. He was identical with Adonis, the same as Baal of the Canaanites. Tammuz supposedly died each year, descended into the lower world, and was brought back to life by the weeping and lamentation of Ishtar, who was joined in her weeping by the women of Babylon.
Thus, as Jesus was being led to the cross, he saw women weeping along his journey, and mildly admonished them.
“Daughters of Jerusalem, weep not for me, but weep for yourselves, and for your children.” (Luke 23:28). It is also related in Ezek. 8:17 that the Jews “put the branch to their nose,” in keeping with the custom of the Persian sun worshipers holding before them a branch of date, pomegranate or tamarisk that their breath might not contaminate the risen deity. All of these sacrilegious practices by the Jews brought forth the scathing denunciation of God through the mouth of His prophets; and are a warning to all God’s people to “have no other Gods before thee.”
While it is our hope and prayer that the foregoing will result in blessing our readers, by no means is it our thought that this should replace the excellent exposition of the Passover in Parousia Volume 6. We believe it also appropriate to offer something from E: 11‑210 (66):
“Moses’ charging Israel to remember Nisan 15 as the day that they went forth from Egypt from the house of servants, types our Lord’s charging the Gospel Church in general, and the Parousia and Epiphany Church in particular, to remember anti-
typical Nisan 15 as their deliverance time from the house of servants to sin, error, selfishness and worldliness.
This implies a remembering of our justification, sanctification, and deliverance, as well as of our Truth Instruction (1 Cor. 1:30; Rom, 8:29, 30).
As Israel in general remembered the typical deliverance at all times and in particular at the Passover, so are we as antitypical Israel to remember our deliverance at any and every time, but especially in connection with our Memorial service.
We do the antitypical remembering, not only in thought, but also by living out the principles implied in our instruction, justification, sanctification and deliverance. As God’s mighty delivering power exercised on Israel’s behalf deserved their remembering their deliverance day, so the power of God exercised in our deliverance from our taskmasters of sin, error, selfishness and worldliness in our coming out of Satan’s empire, is worthy of our remembrance in thought, word and deed.
One way in which Israel was to remember the typical deliverance was to abstain from leaven. Accordingly, we are to commemorate our deliverance, among other ways, by abstaining from antitypical leaven, sin, error, selfishness and worldliness.”
There is much else that could be included here, but we believe the foregoing will suffice to bring forcefully to mind once more our obligations to “do this in remembrance of ME”; and it is our hope and prayer that all our readers may be richly blessed in their preparation for and participation in this year’s Memorial as they “consider Him who endured such contradiction of sinners against Himself.”
“Watch and pray lest ye enter into temptation.” To Peter Jesus had said, “Satan hath desired to have thee, that he may sift thee as wheat” (Luke 22:31); and Peter fell under the temptation. His failure is a warning to all not to trust too much to “the arm of flesh” – Jer. 17:5.
This year we shall commemorate the Memorial at 1501 Morningside Drive, Mount Dora, Florida, at 7:0O p.m. Sunday, March 24, 2013; and we invite all who may be of like mind to join with us in this service.
All of the foregoing paper is from the writings and discourses of Bro. John J. Hoefle, Our thanks go to him and his wife Emily, founders of The Epiphany Bible Students Assn.