A Passover Discovery
by Eitan Shiskoff, Executive Director, Tents of Mercy Network

 

As a new believer, I read the New Covenant account of Yeshua's "last supper" and was stunned by what should have already been obvious. This was a Passover Seder - the ceremonial meal mandated by God in Exodus 12, to be celebrated "through your generations". That one realization changed my life and brought me back to the Jewish heritage that had been lost in my assimilated upbringing.

It was no coincidence that this discovery took place after Yeshua was revealed to me as my Savior, Messiah, and Lord. Whereas conventional Jewish wisdom says that when a Jew turns to Jesus he has turned away from his Jewishness and from his people, the exact opposite was my experience and that of multitudes of Messianic Jews. Yeshua, King of the Jews, restored me and my family to a biblical legacy that eventuated in becoming Israeli citizens in 1992.

The ways of God are fascinating, aren’t they? In spite of nearly two millennia of bitter antipathy between the Church and the Synagogue, He refuses to be shoved off His original course.

And so we ask, "Is there continued Jewish identity and 'membership' in the peoplehood of Israel for those Jews who come to faith in Jesus?'

The answer of the Catholic Church in the time of the Inquisition was 'absolutely not!' They humiliated and burned at the stake, thousands of conversos. These were the Jewish converts to Catholicism who secretly continued to practice Jewish customs. Their "Christian" status was supposed to have erased their Jewish heritage. Hitler's answer was also a diabolical "no", as Jewish Christians throughout Europe were sent to the gas chambers and killing pits along with their "non-Messianic" brothers and sisters during the Holocaust. Their fate was fixed by their Jewish status without regard to their Christian faith.

Long Centuries without Jewish Life in Yeshua

Eitan and son at Passover Seder
As a Messianic Jew born in the 1940s, I belong to the first generation of Yeshua's openly Jewish followers since approximately the end of the 2nd century. Many heroic and sacrificial pioneers preceded our time, and we stand on their courageous shoulders. Yet their efforts remained within the context of church life. It was still uncharted territory to form Messianic Jewish communities.

Thus, the celebration of Passover as an active facet of life in Messiah (and not merely as a teaching device) has largely been recovered only in the past 40 years. Hanging on the wall of my office is a photo of me with my son at one of our first family Passover Seders. An atmosphere of tenderness and completion still radiates from our faces. We were experiencing the miracle of restoration - the restoration of an ancient, God-ordained way of life. At last, we had entered unapologetic identification with Israel's divinely-mandated nationhood, history, and way of life.

Passover began as an annual commemoration of our deliverance from Egyptian Slavery. Yeshua amplified and heightened that meaning by connecting it forever with His own blood sacrifice for our deliverance from sin's slavery. As we savor the Feast of Unleavened Bread (April 14 to April 21) may we partake of God's eternal redemption - of each of us, of Israel, of all the world.

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