2nd April 2015

We greet you this Passover and pray that it will be a blessed and refreshing time for you and your family. During this season we are celebrating Israel's escape from the slavery of Egypt, as well as our escape from the slavery of sin, through the blood of Yeshua, who is our eternal Passover Lamb!

Some think that Passover Seder (Passover Supper) consists of the lengthy readings from the Hagadat Pesach (the written guidelines for the Passover supper), obscure symbolism of the items on the Seder plate, four cups of wine (which may seem strange to some conservative Christians). The songs don't always make sense to non Hebrew speakers. Retelling of different rabbinical interpretations can also seem strange. Tired listeners eagerly wait for the main dish to be served. Many people see Passover Seder this way.

There is, however, another viewpoint. Passover Eve is a special night. The week before Passover is reserved for the preparation and thorough cleaning of the house. Families gather together. Passover can be fun and interesting. Again, there is plenty of food. Even if the Passover Seder ceremony is long, it is interesting and can be conducted in creative ways. There is wine, but each cup has a symbolic meaning. This is a positive view of the Passover Seder.

There are countless articles written about Passover. Today, some researchers say that the first century celebration of Passover was a lot less complicated than it is today. It used to be a family assembly, that consisted of the blessings and eating of the Lamb. After the appearance of the young rabbi from Nazareth, the prophetic meaning of Passover ceremony - receiving the bread and the wine - was revealed in a new light.

In fact, this "Last supper" tradition created a competition between the traditions of Yeshua's followers (also known as anashei haderech - people of the way) and those following other branches of Judaism, such as the followers of Rabbi Akiva some decades later. The actions of Yeshua during the Last supper as recorded in the New Testament created an alternative branch of Judaism, and the Passover Hagada written by the Rabbis decades later may well have been influenced by Yeshua's example. It is also possible that Yeshua simply repeated, what Jews had always done, and asked his followers "to teach their children that the Lord has brought us them out of Egypt". We may never now what the fact is.

The essence of Passover is to remember, to give thanks and to be strengthened.

- To remember, that the Lord brought the people of Israel out of Egypt with His own hand. The Scriptures teach that everyone who belongs to Israel must experience the Exodus as if it happened to him personally. This changes us from the inside and gives our life a different meaning. Through this personal "exodus" one can become truly free.

- To be thankful: to glorify God for His mercy and faithfulness, that do not leave us as sinners, but redeem us instead. We are not to get frustrated in our hearts, but need to cultivate hope and faith. Unfortunately, the world is filled with problems that each one of us faces. May God help us to see things from His perspective, as quoted in the Jewish prayer "fill my mouth with joy and I will praise thee."

- To be strengthened as family. It's great habit to spend time as a family around the dinner table, and share stories before and after the meal. This way young men learn to imitate their fathers and daughters learn from their mothers. Godly traditions are passed on to the next generation. If your family hasn't been able to enjoy the tradition of family dinners, by God's grace it's never too late to start.

Faith in Yeshua

Faith in Yeshua gives a deeper meaning to the Passover Seder, instead of reminiscing only about the exodus. Yeshua is the catalyzer of the Passover celebration. It is not so important, how many cups are raised and how punctually we arrange the Seder plate. The most important thing is to do everything by faith and by will.

The Lamb of God has died for us - for you and for me. Prophet Isaiah said, that "But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities" Isaiah 53:5a (ASV). You have come out of Egypt, not only externally, but the power of atonement has helped you to overcome sin and judgement and it gives hope. The Lamb of God has become the outstretched hand of the Creator, and is constantly there to lead and strengthen you.

Even those that were not part of Israel, and did not have contact with the Creator, can through Yeshua partake in eating of the passover lamb. "now in Christ Jesus you who formerly were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ." Ephesians 2:13 (ASV). By eating the Matza (Unleavened bread) we become partakers of God's divine nature. By drinking the wine, we allow the blood of the Lamb to wash our interior of all curses of this world, and allow God's kingdom operate in us more and more.

Fire

John the Baptist says "He will baptize you in the Holy Spirit and fire" (Luke 3: 16). Receiving the Holy Spirit is a visitation of the Creator, which provides strength to serve. One just needs to trust Him, which is not always easy.

I believe the above scripture may well point to the same fire that Moses and the Israelites encountered on the mountain, when they received the two stone tablets as mentioned in Deuteronomy 5. Somehow every Jew and every believer in Yeshua was hidden in the loins of Moses as he stood on that mountain ablaze with fire. Passover becomes alive for you, as you have personally come out of "Egypt". You now belong to the Creator. The Lamb has taken away your sin, and has made you pure before the Judge, and the Lion of the Tribe of Judah has become the Lord of your life.

Your kind gifts and prayers have enabled us to extend our hands to many new immigrant families in Haifa.

We have been able to bless them with food packages, toiletries, kitchen utensils, quilts, bedding and warm clothes.



Contents of a grocery package (+ frozen chicken)

Return to Zion has decided to do more for our hard-working soldiers in 2015. Young men and women from our congregation are serving the country in IDF units; some of them are in the Special Forces.

We have built a plan and have started collecting support to enable messianic soldiers, who finish their service, to travel to a quiet place, to spend some time alone with God, to receive teaching and travel around. We hope that they will return to Israel with new power for their next step, which is serving the Lord.

Click here to visit our project page.

Thank you for standing with Israel and Return to Zion! We wish you a Happy Passover!

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