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Passover, unleaven bread, and first fruits: three feasts converge

For Christian believers Holy Week, the last week of Jesus Christ’s life on earth, culminates with Resurrection Sunday, which commemorates Christ’s being raised from the dead. During the same time, Jews are preparing for the start of Passover, the 8-day festival which began this year at Sundown on Monday, April 14 and will end in the evening of Tuesday, April 22. Passover, also known as Pesach, commemorates the Jewish exodus from Egypt, as families traditionally gather for a Seder dinner, where they retell the story of the escape from slavery, through the plagues, and to the parting of the Red Sea.

Passover is but one of three Jewish feasts that converge during the spring of the year.
Passover is but one of three Jewish feasts that converge during the spring of the year.
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Actually, Passover was one of the three feasts established by God for the Children of Israel to observe when they left Egypt for the Promised Land. It was instituted on Day 14 of Nisan (the first month); the Feast of the Unleaven Bread was to begin the next day, Nisan15, and the Feast of the First Fruits to begin three days following Passover on Nisan 17. They are referred to as one feast.

Jesus Christ appears as a type, a foreshadowing of events to come, throughout the Old Testament, as in the case of the Passover Lamb and other aspects of the Seder. Jesus was recognized as “The Lamb of God that takes away the sins of the world.” Those previous indications are fulfilled in Jesus Christ, whom Paul describes as “our Passover.” Indeed, Jesus died at the very time that the Passover lambs were being sacrificed in the Temple.

Richard Deem discusses some of the Messianic symbolism of the Passover. Click here to read “How the Passover Reveals Jesus Christ.”

Although the generally mistaken for Passover, the Feast of Unleavened Bread lasts seven days, while Passover is only one 24-hour period. When the Children of Israel departed from Egypt on the evening after Passover God specifically told them not to allow their bread to rise, but to grab everything and leave in haste. There was to be no leaven or yeast to speed up the process of preparing the bread for baking, but God instructed them that no leavening should touch the bread: Just bake it and depart. God then told them that in the future they were to commemorate this feast by removing all leavening or yeast from their houses for seven days.

First Fruits was a feast of a thanksgiving offering of the first portion of the harvest to God for His goodness in providing food from the land for the Israelites, acknowledging that all good things come from God and that everything belongs to God. Giving the first fruits was also a way of expressing trust in God's provision; just as He provided the first fruits, so He would provide the rest of the crops that were needed. A first fruits ceremony is described in detail in Deuteronomy 26:1-11.

The following article displays a slide show with a number of elements of the Passover Seder which also symbolically represents aspects of Jesus Christ. Passover and Easter: Two feasts converge

Here is another related article featuring President Obama’s hosting of a Passover Seder at the White House.

President Obama offers a special greeting during this time of the celebration of Passover and the Resurrection of Jesus Christ.