Shalom in our Messiah. I hope you will have a wonderful Passover/Easter season and that this newsletter will help prepare your heart for the celebrations next month!
This is one of my favorite times of year as we are surrounded by symbols and celebrations to help us remember God’s faithfulness through providing Jesus, the perfect Passover Lamb, to die for our sins…and to rise from the dead!
My First Family Passover after becoming a Believer in Jesus
I remember my first Passover after coming to faith in Jesus the Messiah. In November 1971,
I accepted Jesus as my Savior and Messiah in San Francisco, California, and traveled back to the East Coast to tell my parents about my newfound faith. I knew it was not going to be easy, but I never imagined it would be so difficult.
My parents were wonderful and tried to understand me, but it was just too much of a stretch to understand how their son, a nice Jewish boy, could believe in Jesus. A few months after I returned home, it came time for my first Passover with my extended family.
I was under strict instructions not to say anything to my relatives, especially my grandparents, about my relationship with Jesus. It was difficult. I sat quietly through the Passover Seder at my grandparents’ home in Brooklyn, but the parallels between the New Testament and the traditional Passover became so obvious to me.
I said nothing, but my heart was bursting! And surprisingly, even to me, the Passover made me feel so Jewish! I realized that Passover pointed to a day of greater redemption through the shed blood of the Lamb of God, Jesus the Messiah. I recognized that I did not need to give up my Jewishness to believe in Jesus, since Jesus and His disciples were all Jewish. In fact, my faith was the fulfillment of all God had promised to the Jewish people.
This is why Passover means so much to me. It is a time when I feel joyously whole as a Jew who believes Jesus is the Messiah. For me it all comes together at Passover! Let me explain why.
Jesus, the Passover, and Older Covenants
Jesus’ last meal with His disciples before going to the cross was a Passover Seder. During that last Seder, we know that Jesus took a cup and said, “This cup which is poured out for you is the new covenant in My blood” (Luke 22:20).
This cup is traditionally called the Cup of Redemption and is always taken after the meal. He could have chosen any of the four cups, but took the third cup as it would have the greatest meaning for His Jewish disciples. The cup pointed to the blood of the Passover Lamb, and by taking this cup Jesus was declaring that He was the true Lamb!
This event inaugurated the New Covenant prophesied in Jeremiah 31:31–35. As I reflect upon His statement, I wonder, “What is the New Covenant?” What about this covenant is new?
The Greek word for new, kainos (καινός), generally translates the Hebrew term chadash (שׁדָחָ), and is a common word that means new or renewed, allowing for a connection to the past. The New Covenant is new, but is also built upon the previous covenants God had made with the Jewish people, particularly the Abrahamic and Davidic covenants (Genesis 12:1–3, 2 Samuel 7:27–29).
Two Types of Covenants
In the Hebrew, a covenant is never made—it is cut. All covenants are cut and confirmed with the shedding of blood. Additionally, we understand that, in general, God makes two types of covenants with His people—one is conditional and the other unconditional. This might very well reflect the various types of covenants made in the Middle East at the time.
A Conditional Covenant
Covenants that are conditional demand the obedience of the lesser party in order to receive the good promised by the greater. In order to receive the blessings of the covenant, Israel had to be obedient to the Law God gave on Mount Sinai.
An Unconditional Covenant
Covenants that are unconditional depend upon the work of God Himself to ensure Israel receives the blessings of the covenant. This means that the ultimate blessing for Israel, based on the covenant with Abraham, is certain. God gave the Land of Israel to the descendants of Abraham. Isaac, Jacob, and ultimately Jacob’s descendants will inherit the Land.
Jeremiah makes this clear when he writes,
“‘Behold, days are coming,’ declares the Lord, ‘when
I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah, not like the covenant which I made with their fathers in the day I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt, My covenant which they broke, although I was a husband to them,’ declares the Lord” (Jeremiah 31:31–32).
The New Covenant Today
The prophet Jeremiah writes,
“But this is the covenant which I will make with the house of Israel after those days,” declares the Lord, “I will put My law within them and on their heart I will write it; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people. They will not teach again, each man his neighbor and each man his brother, saying, ‘Know the Lord,’ for they will all know Me, from the least of them to the greatest of them,” declares the Lord, “for I will forgive their iniquity, and their sin I will remember no more.” (Jeremiah 31:33–35)
Jeremiah outlines five major promises assured by the New Covenant:
The law will be internalized in the hearts of believers (1 Corinthians 3:16).
Forgiveness of sins will be available to all who believe (Hebrews 8:12).
Israel will be reconciled to God, just as He promised to Abraham (Romans 11:25ff).
All humanity will know the Lord (Jeremiah 31:34).
The Jewish people will be preserved throughout the ages (Jeremiah 31:35–37).
The New Covenant Tomorrow
The forgiveness of sins and the indwelling of the Holy Spirit apply to both Jewish and Gentile believers in Yeshua. The other three are future and look forward to the second coming of Jesus.
The Jewish people will come back to the Land and to the Lord as outlined in the Abrahamic Covenant. When this happens, the fulfillment of His Kingdom promises will be a blessing to all Jews and Gentiles who know the one true King.
Just imagine the beauty of a renewed earth when Jesus is on His rightful Davidic throne.
Ezekiel phrases it this way:
“They will say, ‘This desolate
land has become like the garden
of Eden; and the waste, desolate and ruined cities are fortified
and inhabited’” (Ezekiel 36:35).
Paul writes: “…that the creation itself also will be set free from its slavery to corruption into the freedom of the glory of the children of God” (Romans 8:21).
I believe that the return of almost seven million Jewish people to the Land is a foretaste of what is to come! He is faithful! But this is not end of the story. We also look forward to the day when the Jewish people will turn to Jesus, and Your Mission to the Jewish People, by the power of the Holy Spirit, is working towards this ultimate goal day in and day out. This is why we are so concerned with training a new generation of disciples in Israel and across the globe to bring the gospel to the Jewish people. Please keep reading, as I know you will be greatly encouraged to see what God is doing among a new generation!
And please remember to pray for Chosen People Ministries as we continue to celebrate our 125th year of service for the Lord among the Jewish people. We are planning our largest outreach effort in New York City this summer, and I hope you might pray about joining us for a week or two. We are praying that 125 people will join us each week! The details are on the back page of the newsletter. We are calling it Shalom New York because we will be bringing the message of the Prince of Peace to the largest concentration of Jewish people in the world! And if you cannot come, please pray and support this massive effort to reach Jewish people with the message of the New Covenant.
Peace in our Messiah,
P.S. I hope you will think about conducting a Messianic Passover Seder in your home next month. See the materials on the back page of the newsletter that will provide all you need to enjoy this great festival with your family, church, or small group.