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Jesus Did Not Abolish Passover

The following letter is a response to a prominent international evangelist, who wrote about Passover no longer being relevant to the Church today. Since acceptance of this truth by the Church is part of the fusion of the two movements about which Smith Wigglesworth prophesied – the Word and the Spirit – I reproduce it here.

15th January 2001

I received your latest circular letter today, written on 1st January. There is a serious error in it which I wish to point out. Before I do, however, I want to state that whatever I bring to your attention in criticism is constructive criticism. I don't mean to denigrate what you do at all. I hold you and your work for Jesus in the highest regard, despite the few flaws in your theology which we might see from time to time.

Now to your remark.

You stated: "Passover, for example, is not one day a year, for Christ IS our Passover – 1 Cor 5:7-8. 'Christ our Passover Lamb had been sacrificed. Therefore let us keep the festival with the bread of sincerity and truth." That festival is not one day, but every day."

That's like saying "Christmas is not one day but every day of the year, because Christ was born to save us; He is alive and His saving power saves us every day." It is merely human philosophy. It is not biblical philosophy.

What you said was not biblical theology at all, but human philosophy. When we add to scripture or take away from it through our human philosophy, that itself is against scripture and carries a fearsome penalty. I'm sure I don't have to remind you.

The error in your statement is actually heresy, although I realise you didn't think you were deliberately being heretical.

Here is the truth from the Bible on the subject:

1. The Passover festival was introduced by the One who became Jesus. He is our Rock, just as He was Israel's Rock (1 Cor 10:4).

2. He instituted it to prefigure His sacrifice, as you know. It was observed once a year, on the 14th day of the first month (Abib or Nisan) in God's calendar which He gave Israel. Leviticus 23 contains the details. It is likewise commemorated once a year today in the New Testament. Jesus didn't give any command to alter what He had already established as the Passover festival, other than that concerning the emblems. Lamb and bitter herbs are no longer eaten. Instead, bread and wine are taken.

3. But you are saying Passover is every day. That is untrue, because God commanded Passover to be observed in a specific way on a specific day. To say that it is every day is to say God is wrong. Scripture is immutable. Jesus did not take one jot or tittle away from the Law (Matt 5:17-20). He established it, expounded it, elaborated upon it, and added to it for spiritual advancement. You don't have that authority to add to it or take away from it.

Nowhere has Jesus intimated that He has done away with the Passover festival to supercede it with something more nebulous. He means it to be kept as a specific ceremony on a specific day as an annual reminder of His death – a memorial. Memorials are not kept every day, otherwise they become meaningless. They have meaning because they are kept in a certain way on a certain day. The ritual is not empty ritual, but full of meaning. It teaches us greater spiritual lessons. Those who say these days are empty ritual are ignorant. Keeping the day is no more empty than taking the bread and wine. They are loaded with meaning, just as is the time of its observance and its position in the sequence of festivals God has laid out.

What if I said to you that we should keep Christmas every day of the year? How silly and impractical that would be! Should we stock up on food, prepare a roast turkey, get out the crackers and tinsel, decorate a tree, send cards to everybody, and give presents every day of the year, and call it Christmas?

I'm sure you get the point. To do so would be to undermine the specialness of the occasion. There is no point in taking what God means to be a special ceremony in the physical, commanded for a certain day, and spiritualise it away by claiming we can properly observe it every day of the year. Doing that is to do away with it, to ignore God's commands about it, and to disobey the clear instructions of the Word of God concerning festivals He has instituted to be kept to remind us of His plan of salvation.

One other point about that, too. If you are to be consistent, then you should tell everyone to take bread and wine EVERY DAY of the year, too. After all, Jesus specifically COMMANDS that we are to partake of those emblems, which depict Him in this ritual of being the Passover Lamb.

4. Paul stated quite clearly in 1 Corinthians 5:8 that we, as Christians, are to keep this festival. It is ironic that Jehovah's Witnesses keep it! Satan doesn't mind them having that truth, because their observance of it is empty, being devoid of the Spirit in the ceremony.

How ironic that the Spirit-led sector of the Church is held in ignorance by Satan on this point! Even a child can see that Paul was promoting the Passover festival – not merely the bread and wine aspect of it. He says plainly, "Therefore let us keep the festival...."

How was it kept? Back then there was no need to elaborate on the physical aspects of its observance, because it was a recognised custom among the Jews.

5. Many say, "Ah, yes. Well, there you are, then. You see it was a Jewish custom. It is not meant for Christians. We have Christian customs which have replaced the Jewish ones."

But Paul was directing his admonition to the Christians in Corinth, who were not merely Jews, but also many Gentiles.

Did the Gentiles have Easter, while the Jews had Passover? Of course not. They both kept the same observances. And when did Easter gain prominence? Not until the fourth and fifth centuries AD. Easter and Christmas were instituted by the precursor of the Catholic Church. The Roman Emperor, Constantine (who, incidentally, was a false Christian – he butchered in the name of Jesus, under the banner of His cross, and imposed beliefs on others), was the chief instigator of change. But changes that he and later popes brought about, were in flagrant violation of God's express command NOT TO ADD TO OR TAKE AWAY FROM THE WORD OF GOD!

Paul wrote in Romans that Gentiles are grafted into the stock of Israel. Israel is the trunk of the tree when it comes to what to observe as Christian ceremony. I don't mean that Jewish customs should be taken as church customs. Not at all. The Jews have added a plethora of meaningless religious ritual to the ritual which God commanded.

But we must not lose sight of the fact that God HAS COMMANDED CERTAIN RITUALS TO BE OBSERVED IN THE CHURCH, otherwise we might as well all do our own thing and justify it by saying I keep my mind on Jesus when I do it, so it's fine.

No, it's not fine. When God commands, we must obey. That's the bottom line of Christian duty.

We are saved by faith, yes, but rewarded according to our works. There is great reward in observing everything God has laid out in His Word.

6. Passover had two meanings in the time of Jesus. First, it meant the actual day on which the Passover lamb was killed and eaten. Secondly, it was an abbreviation of Passover lamb. When Paul wrote 1 Corinthians 5:7,8, he was clearly referring to keeping the Passover festival. He says so. It is correctly translated for us. He also added that "Christ is our Passover Lamb". So, he delineated between the two meanings in his own usage.

So, your usage of Passover to mean merely Christ is untenable from the context and from Paul's own theological understanding.

7. I hope that is enough to prove to you that what you have written is a serious error and perpetuates a heresy which church leaders have been quite content (some wilfully, but many in their ignorance) to promote for centuries. This is Elijah's hour. His time has come for restoration of truth, and this is one of the truths that will be restored to the Church before Jesus finally returns.

That you may know that I am a prophet appointed by the Almighty to deliver this truth to you, I give you a sign. It is this:

We shall raise the dead through the power of Jesus and you will know of it.

When this comes to pass, and it surely will, then you will know that a prophet has been among you (Ezek 33:33).

Malcolm B Heap

N.B. All God’s festivals are itemised in The Festivals of God.

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