(This article is written by Brent Johnson, an AGWM International Ministries missionary and director of Jacob’s Hope.)
In the last decades, the Christian Church has demonstrated a dramatic increase in its interest in all things Jewish. Globally, Christians are enthusiastically exploring the Jewish roots of their faith and re-examining the Hebraic lens of Scripture. They are engaging in evangelistic efforts among the Jewish people and adding value to their faith by joining with Jewish brothers and sisters to learn about the Feast of Passover and other festivals of the Lord. Because of this renewed passion to reach and minister to the Jewish people, many churches and individuals in our Fellowship are partnering with the ministry of Jacob’s Hope to be a blessing, reaching out to Jewish people by bringing hope and compassion in tangible ways.
The Feast of Passover occurs yearly during the first month of the biblical year Nisan, usually in March or April on the Gregorian calendar. It is one of seven feasts that take place on the Jewish calendar and is the most observed and celebrated of the feasts. It is celebrated around the world not only among the religious Jewish community, but also among Messianic Jewish believers. The Feast of Passover actually incorporates three feasts lasting eight days: Passover, Unleavened Bread, and First Fruits.
In 2021, Passover runs concurrently with the Christian calendar, beginning with Good Friday (April 2) and culminating at Easter. It must be noted that the Bible makes clear in Leviticus 23 that the Feast of Passover, along with the other feasts, are referred to as the “feasts of the Lord” and were and are to be observed by not only the ancient Israelites, but also by the strangers who joined themselves with Israel as they came out from the cruel bondage of Pharaoh’s task masters.
This ancient ceremony provides for us a modern-day picture of the life, death, and resurrection of Yeshua ha Mashiach, Jesus the Messiah, the Lamb of God who came to take away the sin of the world (John 1:29). This celebration remains a modern miracle and pattern for the Jewish people and the nations.
The feast of Pesach, a Hebrew word meaning Passover in English, is a celebration that concerns the events in Jewish history as recorded in the Bible in the book of Exodus. It recalls the Israelites’ deliverance from Egypt after 400 years of captivity, following the judgement plagues God used to secure their freedom.
AT THE CORE — DISCOVERY OF JESUS
Some may be familiar with or have participated in a Passover Seder, a word meaning “order.” The idea of family and community cannot be overstated throughout the Seder service. It begins with a traditional lighting of candles. The woman of the house lights the candles, followed by a prayerful expression of remembrance that God used a woman to bring forth the Messiah, the Light of the world. Men, women, and children all engage in keeping the Lord’s Passover in the continuing telling of the Exodus story.
The Seder leader follows a booklet designed to guide all the participants through the significant moments of this ceremony. A booklet known as a Haggadah, which means “the telling,” incorporates traditional Jewish prayers and multiple Scripture passages from both the Old and New Testaments.
The Passover Seder fulfills the commandment established by God with the Jewish people in Exodus 12:14: “Now this day will be a memorial to you, and you shall celebrate it as a feast to the Lord; throughout your generations you are to celebrate it as an eternal ordinance.”
The Seder points to Messiah Jesus — Yeshua, His Hebrew name meaning “the Lord saves.” Jesus is the central figure of this event. His body and blood are the eternal and miraculous ways for all people to receive cleansing from sin and experience their own deliverance and salvation as they apply His precious blood on the doorposts of their hearts and become fruitful witnesses and disciples.
During the Passover Seder, participants are transported back to the ancient days of Moses and the children of Israel, then moved forward some 1,500 years to the time of Messiah Jesus and His disciples. Finally they progress into the present to ponder the implications of this amazing historical journey.
While actively engaged in the Passover Seder ceremony and meal, we realize we are guests at the table of Messiah Jesus, who brings light, forgiveness, and deliverance. This gives rise to a celebratory atmosphere, and to praise of our Savior.
There is much more to encounter and discover during the Passover Seder; however, space does not allow for further explanations. Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to attend a Passover Seder in the near future, experiencing for yourself the rich meaning of Passover and the life it brings to all who embrace Messiah Jesus.
THE ROLE OF JACOB’S HOPE
Jacob’s Hope — AGWM’s International Ministry for Jewish people worldwide — supports and sponsors many Passover Seders. During these annual events, Jacob’s Hope partners with Messianic congregations and churches in Eastern Europe, Israel, Ethiopia, and the U.S. to share the love of Messiah Jesus. We are able to serve unbelieving family members and neighbors, non-Jewish friends, elderly homebound Holocaust survivors and their relatives, and the larger Jewish community.
These Feasts of Passover are wonderful services filled with rich celebration, joy, and encouragement for all in attendance.
As the ceremonies unfold, leaders make application to Messiah Jesus and the Holy Spirit reveals the love and delivering power available to each person. This sacred time of retelling of the Exodus story becomes attendees’ time to be set free and establish relationship with their Jewish Messiah. Jacob’s Hope helps these new believers connect with nearby messianic congregations where they can be discipled.
Jacob’s Hope and its partners have conducted Seders in homes, churches, synagogues, study groups, and even for a group of hospital chaplains. It is incredible to have the opportunity to join together with thousands of Messianic Jewish believers and Christians to witness and participate in this ancient celebration connecting the Passover and Christian communion in concert with the miracle of salvation through our faith in Messiah Jesus. Hallelujah!
In these endeavors, Jacob’s Hope has been blessed by the partnership of the National Jewish Fellowship of the Assemblies of God, led by Rabbi Michael Calise. The goal of the NJF is to support and promote fellowship among Jewish congregational leaders within our Movement across the United States.
Another Jewish organization in the Assemblies of God that Jacob’s Hope has partnered with is Rock of Israel, an affiliated ministry led by Robert Specter, (an AG US Missions Jewish missionary and officer of the AG National Jewish Fellowship). This evangelistic outreach ministry provides Jewish resources, conducts Passover Seders, is represented at General and District Councils, and raises awareness and encourages evangelistic efforts among the Jewish people.
FROM PAST TO PROPHETIC
The Passover found in the book of Exodus is mentioned throughout the Hebrew Scriptures, in the Gospels, and in the writings of Paul. The apocalyptic imagery in the book of Revelation echoes the historic event of the Exodus narrative and serves as a continuing model for the miraculous today.
I would submit that a greater appreciation for and participation in Passover by Christians will serve to enhance Christian understanding of the Jewish roots of their faith. It is not based on or shrouded in legalism but rather is part of the miraculous, prophetic fulfillment found in the life, death, and resurrection of the Jewish Messiah — the central figure and force behind our faith and practice.
The Jewish people remain an unreached people group; however, there are growing numbers of Jewish people coming to faith on almost every continent. This is a prophetic promise being fulfilled in our day. I believe it is a direct result of your prayers, and we are grateful. I ask you to pray for the salvation, healing, and restoration of Jewish people worldwide during this Passover season. Scripture repeatedly reminds us that God never has and never will forsake the Jewish people. To care for them is to care for what is dear to Him.
For further information on partnering with Jacob’s hope, please visit www.jacobshope.com.