Passover Controversy

What scriptural topic evokes the most confusion and controversy among those professing to be followers of Yahweh?

If one answers that it is the Festival of Passover, it would be apparent that this answer is quite insightful.

Almost everyone who attempts to observe the Festival of Passover correctly seems to be at variance with some other person or group. Logic dictates that not everyone is right, and at the same time, there is the possibility that everyone is wrong.
What is the problem, and how does it get fixed?

It brings to mind an encounter that occurred many years ago involving the leader of a popular Sacred Name group in Missouri. The conversation was going fine as we discussed various scriptural topics. Then the subject of Passover came up, and before anything could be said, this leader assertively proclaimed that no matter what was said, “I am not changing on this one. My mind is made up. I have extensively researched this topic, and it is final.”

Well, so much for abiding by the following scriptural precept:

Come, let us reason together. (Isaiah 1:18)

There is no lack of written material by numerous Sacred Name groups purporting to prove the correct method of observing the Festival of Passover. However, one would be hard-pressed to find a universal agreement. When the dust settles over the various arguments touted back and forth, most everyone realizes the little progress made to find truth and unity.

The arguments presented by the various groups for the correct observance of Passover are fairly well known.

We want to introduce a perspective that might help break through the barriers and allow Yahweh’s truth to prevail regarding the Passover dilemma.

First, we recommend an action that most people hesitate to do, which requires humility. For instance, one has to realize that the interpretation of Scriptures does not come from a person’s inner self.

Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation. (2 Peter 1:20)

Therefore, one must admit that the interpretation of Scriptures or scriptural truth does not come from oneself. However, one can seriously tackle the situation if one understands and accepts that.

Next, let us keep it simple. For instance, we will only address one aspect of the Passover controversy. But, hopefully, we will provide some food for thought to provoke some questions and make some progress in the right direction toward Yahweh’s truth of the matter.

Question: Does the Festival of Passover and Unleavened Bread begin on Abib 14 and end on Abib 20 for a total of 7 days of the Festival? This also indicates that the first day of Unleavened Bread begins on Abib 14. But, of course, most professing followers of Yahweh would disagree and proclaim that there is all that proof in Scriptures that proves otherwise.

For the sake of simplicity, let us try using Yahushua the messiah as the benchmark to provide us with an excellent example of the Passover observance. If anyone were going to be right about the Passover, surely it would be Yahushua.

The messiah came under the Law (Torah of Moses) and was subject to all its relevant commands, including keeping the Passover. Since Yahushua never sinned (i.e., transgressed the Law), we can be sure he correctly observed the Passover. (Otherwise, Yahushua would have sinned.)

But when the time had fully come, Yahweh sent forth his son, born of woman, BORN UNDER THE LAW (Torah of Moses). (Galatians 4:4)

Scriptures are clear on this matter regarding the the Law.

And it was the PREPARATION OF THE PASSOVER, and about the sixth hour: and he (Pilate) saith unto the Jews, Behold your King! (John 19:14)

So because of the JEWISH DAY OF PREPARATION, as the tomb was close at hand, they laid Yahushua there. (John 19:42)

Undoubtedly, the implications gleaned from the two verses above pose a massive problem for many.

According to the scriptural narrative, Yahushua had made preparations for Passover prior to Abib 14. Along with his disciples, he ate the Passover meal that night after sundown at the beginning of Abib 14. This would mean that Yahushua observed the Festival of Passover, including the eating of the Passover lamb, was murdered and buried on the Jewish day of preparation of the Passover (Abib 14)!

Also, unless there is information to the contrary, Yahushua and his disciples would have eaten unleavened bread with the Passover meal after sundown at the beginning of Abib 14.

One counter-argument is that the meal that Yahushua ate with his disciples at the beginning of Abib 14 was not actually the Passover meal. According to the following passage, just what then was going on?

So Yahushua sent Peter and John, saying, “Go and PREPARE THE PASSOVER for us, THAT WE MAY EAT IT.” (Luke 22:8)

One conclusion could be that Yahushua knew he was to eat a fake Passover meal, and then, to perpetrate the fraud, he lied to Peter and John. Of course, he would have had to lie, as he knew the true Passover meal was to take place at the beginning of Abib 15.

Continuing with the thought, since Yahushua knew he could not observe the Passover meal on Abib 15 (since he would be dead by then), he just bumped the meal up by a day. Besides, he also had to be the sacrificial lamb that was slaughtered in the afternoon of Abib 14, just as the Pharisaical religious leaders were killing their Passover lambs, which were to be eaten after sundown at the beginning of Abib 15.

Amazingly, some go so far as to think that one would have to break the law to keep the law. But, of course, one could spin this scenario in all kinds of directions.

So here is the situation. Per scriptural instructions, Yahushua and his disciples did, in fact, eat the Passover meal along with unleavened bread after sundown beginning Abib 14. It, therefore, becomes clear that Abib 14 begins the Festival of Passover and Unleavened Bread. The logic would seem to follow that this day is also the first day of Unleavened Bread since unleavened bread is commanded to be eaten with the Passover meal. The book of Deuteronomy gives:

And you shall offer the Passover sacrifice to Yahweh your eloahi, from the flock or the herd, at the place which Yahweh will choose, to make his name dwell there. YOU SHALL EAT NO LEAVENED BREAD WITH IT (PASSOVER MEAL); SEVEN DAYS YOU SHALL EAT IT (PASSOVER MEAL) WITH UNLEAVENED BREAD, the bread of affliction–for you came out of the land of Egypt in hurried flight–that all the days of your life you may remember the day when you came out of the land of Egypt. (Deut. 16:2-3)

On the other hand, the Jews (Pharisaic religious leaders and followers) killed their Passover lambs during the afternoon of Abib 14, preparing for their Passover meal after sundown, beginning Abib 15.

By now, it is hoped that one has seen the red flag hoisted. Who observed Passover correctly? Yahushua or the Pharisaic Jews?

We have barely scratched the surface here, but this should demonstrate why the pertinent questions need to be asked of those who have placed themselves as leaders and teachers of Yahweh’s assemblies. It is also incumbent that the teachers who purport to uphold Yahweh’s truth make an honest attempt to provide the best scripturally correct answers to these questions.

Several years ago, Dennis Bitterman, one individual who questioned the Passover and Unleavened Bread subject, sent an open letter to all the assemblies and teachers challenging the generally accepted 8-day observance Abib 14-21 for Passover and Unleavened Bread.

Dennis has done a reasonably good job of briefly presenting the evidence supporting a 7-day Festival of Passover and Unleavened Bread observance, which consists of Abib 14-20. This letter has been converted into a PDF file and made available for everyone to evaluate and determine if there is any merit to Dennis’s conclusions.

Just click on the following link to download: EAOY Open Letter.

Note: As of this date, there does not seem to exist any written response to Dennis’ letter by any elder or teacher from the various Sacred Name groups.

For a more in-depth scriptural examination, including the historical evidence regarding Passover, please download the publication by Qadesh La Yahweh Press titled “The Festivals and Sacred Days of Yahweh.”

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