Today I’m sharing a series of posts with you on keeping Passover. If you’re reading this because you want to keep Passover this year but are not quite sure how, I want to encourage you to read my other two posts in addition to this one (links at the bottom). I feel confident that the three posts together will give you the information and peace you need to move forward with having a deeply meaningful Passover.
I began working on this post by writing a Messiah-centered Haggadah. These are small booklets that serve as “scripts” to follow during a Passover meal. They literally read as you would a script for a play, with roles being assigned and readings listed for each role to read aloud during the meal. I set out to do this because a traditional Seder is what most people think of when they think of Passover.
You see, our Jewish brethren have been faithful in keeping Passover, whereas we (believers in Messiah) have largely abandoned this feast of the Father and developed our own traditions instead. So, when we return to keeping a feast, it is only natural that we look to those who are already doing so for guidance.
However, a Seder is simply a traditional way to keep Passover that was developed over the ages by our Jewish brethren. While it is a lovely tradition, it is not the only way to follow the instructions of our Father for keeping His Passover. So we need to be careful not to teach that it is. In Matthew 15:9, Messiah warns of those who teach man-made ideas as if they were commandments: “Their worship is a farce, for they teach man-made ideas as commands from God.”
Now don’t get me wrong; traditions can be beautiful things. However, I want to be careful not to treat tradition as if it were a commandment.
The thing is, we have to pay attention to the soil that we are planting seeds in, or our efforts will not yield the fruit we are hoping for. This realization brought my Passover seder writing to a hard stop because I realized that if I were to release a seder, many would view it as the one and only way to do Passover. Even though I wouldn’t be teaching tradition as a commandment, it would be viewed that way by some.
I want to be clear: There is nothing wrong with having or participating in a Passover Seder program. It checks all the boxes we are given on how to keep Passover and then some. But it is not required, and it is not the only way to keep Passover.
So instead of teaching you traditions, I’m going to explain what is asked of us biblically and how we keep Passover. If you would like to add traditions, you are free to, but I would encourage you (especially those with impressionable children at home) to avoid traditions until you have the basics down pat, lest you risk inadvertently treating them as commandments in both yourself and your family.
The point and theme of my Passover instructions are this:
YHWH’s way is simple; we are the ones who make it complicated.
This time of year, each year, after a whirlwind couple of months of studying the Bible in depth for what, for many, is the first time, we arrive at Passover. Without fail, by the time we get to this point, I’ve heard countless renditions of “This is so complicated. There is too much to learn. This is too hard.” Despite the Father breaking it down time and time again to the basic building blocks.
However, I get it. The thing is, we were meant to be raised in this, immersed in it from the moment we came into the world. So, when we finally settle in to read the Bible and discover there really is information in there that we were supposed to be applying to our lives, it can be disheartening and overwhelming.
And so, the following is what we concluded:
To begin with, Passover is a single meal, and the Feast of Unleavened Bread is a week. We eat the Passover meal in the evening, and as the sun sets, the Feast of Unleavened Bread begins. As these two biblical feasts take place on top of one another, they are often referred to collectively as “Passover”.
What do we do? This is simple, and yes, I can give you a checklist (but in all things, I suggest you read the Bible firsthand and take personal responsibility for studying and knowing it).
- We remove the leaven from our homes. (Exodus 12:15)
- We have a special Passover meal. (Exodus 12:16)
- We eat bitter herbs at our Passover meal. (Numbers 9:11)
- We tell the story of the Exodus in whole or in part, found in (Exodus 4:1-13:10)
- We eat unleavened bread each day of the week. (Exodus 12:15)
- On the first and seventh days of Unleavened Bread, we have a Bible study together with families and/or our fellowship if possible. Our Passover meal meets this requirement for the first day, as that begins at sunset on the day we have our meal. (Exodus 12:16)
No, we do not sacrifice a lamb. There are a few answers I can give as to why, but for now I’ll stick with we have no temple and we are not Levitical priests. (See Deuteronomy 12:13). Outside of Israel and in the time we are living in, we are not able to keep Passover perfectly. However, we do this as a memorial of the Passover, and we do not let what we cannot do serve as an excuse to not do what we can.
In Exodus 12, we find our instructions for keeping Passover:
14 “This day is to be a memorial for you, and you must celebrate it as a festival to the Lord. You are to celebrate it throughout your generations as a permanent statute. 15 You must eat unleavened bread for seven days. On the first day you must remove yeast from your houses. Whoever eats what is leavened from the first day through the seventh day must be cut off from Israel. 16 You are to hold a sacred assembly on the first day and another sacred assembly on the seventh day. No work may be done on those days except for preparing what people need to eat—you may do only that. 17 “You are to observe the Festival of Unleavened Bread because on this very day I brought your divisions out of the land of Egypt. You must observe this day throughout your generations as a permanent statute. 18 You are to eat unleavened bread in the first month, from the evening of the fourteenth day of the month until the evening of the twenty-first day. 19 Yeast must not be found in your houses for seven days.”
and in Numbers 9
9 Then the Lord spoke to Moses: 10 “Tell the Israelites: When any one of you or your descendants is unclean because of a corpse or is on a distant journey, he may still observe the Passover to the Lord. 11 Such people are to observe it in the second month, on the fourteenth day at twilight. They are to eat the animal with unleavened bread and bitter herbs; 12 they may not leave any of it until morning or break any of its bones. They must observe the Passover according to all its statutes.
13 “But the man who is ceremonially clean, is not on a journey, and yet fails to observe the Passover is to be cut off from his people, because he did not present the Lord’s offering at its appointed time. That man will bear the consequences of his sin.
14 “If a foreigner resides with you and wants to observe the Passover to the Lord, he is to do so according to the Passover statute and its ordinances. You are to apply the same statute to both the foreign resident and the native of the land.”
Did you catch that verse about the foreigner who resides among them observing Passover? Now keep in mind that these instructions are for YHWH’s chosen people, which many of us claim to be. The problem is that we claim to be chosen and therefore ascribe all of the blessings of the chosen people to ourselves, but we tend to excuse ourselves from the expectations of the chosen people. Just in case someone is not quite at the point of understanding that we are adopted/grafted into Israel, this verse is there as an addition that can help them see a reason for keeping Passover. In His great and unending grace, YHWH covers all the bases, even making allowances for folks who don’t quite know where they fit in just yet.
What is leavening? In Bible times, this was simply yeast or their bread starter. Many people remove anything with yeast from their homes (get ready to read a lot of ingredient lists!). Others remove anything with yeast, baking powder, or baking soda. I am in that second category, but you are fine just removing yeast products if that is what you choose to do—that is entirely biblical.
Remember, this isn’t about doing what I do or keeping Passover as I keep Passover. This is about a personal relationship between you and the Father. Seek Him in all things.
What do you mean by “remove them from your home”? Some people donate all products with leavening. Some people put them in a storage bin or boxes and remove them from the house until after the feast is over. I tend to keep a lot of yeast on hand in my freezer, so during this week I put all of that in a box and keep it in a storage building in my backyard. I could throw it away (or donate it), but I know I will need it in the coming year, and I want to be a good steward of my resources.
My timeline: This year, the Passover meal is the evening of April 5 (2023) on the calendar we use. To find any of the biblical feast dates on the calendar we use, you can simply google the feast name and current year.
Unleavened Bread begins at sunset April 5 and ends sunset April 13.
1 week before:
Remove the leavening. I set aside some time to clean and organize the pantry. Remove all leavened products and place in an easy-to-access location. Anything that there is too much of to use up, place in a storage bin to either donate or otherwise remove from the house.
Plan your Passover menu and shop for groceries. Also plan the menu for the week of Unleavened Bread and make sure you have those groceries as well. I have the recipes we use below. Now, keep in mind that we are told to eat unleavened bread each day during those seven days. That doesn’t mean you have to eat a plate full; a bite will suffice, but you’ll want to have some on hand. I bake mine, but most folks simply purchase a box of matza, which is a thin cracker, and eat that.
1-3 days before:
With my menu planned, I prepare any items that can be made ahead of time.
The Day of Passover: This is a day for another clean sweep of the house and lots of cooking, table setting, and preparation for our meal that evening. I usually make two or three pans of unleavened bread to have handy for the next couple of days, as this recipe, once prepared, can be the base for cinnamon sugar bread and Passover pizza later on.
My Passover menu this year:
This year we have family coming to our home for Passover. We are going to eat outside on the patio, and food will be served buffet style.
*Some items below include recipe links, which go to a website that I used to own but retired from last year in order to focus on Bible study full time. The new owner is a wonderful person, and I know she will appreciate your paying her a visit.
- Bitter herbs and dark greens salad with honey vidalia vinaigrette (for the salad, I purchase dark salad greens and tear up fresh parsley to put in as my bitter herb)
- Pot roast in gravy
- We will have a small dish of lamb (we don’t care for lamb). I will purchase a little bit of this pre-cooked from a gyro shop.
- Corn in butter sauce
- Mashed potatoes
- Unleavened bread
- Skillet candied apples
- Roasted broccoli
- Roasted assorted veggies
- Spring fruit salad with lemon honey dressing
- Cinnamon sugar unleavened bread
Other Passover recipes:
*Giving up bread for a week isn’t difficult for us as we’re not big bread people (a result of eating low carb in the past). However, there are all sorts of specialty mixes you can get for Passover either online or in local grocery stores. Publix in Alabama usually carries quite a few. Note that these do contain baking soda, so it depends on what you’ve determined is leavening in your home. If you simply remove products containing yeast, these will be fine to use. Here is a link to one we’ve had before that was delicious to get you started: https://amzn.to/2OhjQKx
Many of you who are familiar with a traditional Southern Sunday dinner may have gotten that distinct feeling from looking over my menu and reading about my plans. Truthfully, if you were to come to my home during our Passover meal, you’d see something looking very akin to that. The main differences are that we are not serving or eating anything with leavening and we will be reading from Exodus and talking about the story of Passover as a means of telling of our Father’s goodness. If that feels far simpler than what you had expected to find, this simply proves my earlier point:
YHWH’s way is simple – We are the ones who make it complicated.
Other important Passover posts (please read):
Hezekiah’s Passover (this one really helps you relax and have a wholehearted Passover, especially if it is your first!)
Another Passover post I wrote (with more compelling and detailed info!)
I pray you have a deeply meaningful and richly blessed Passover. ❤️Print This Post