Come out of Babylon, My People!
SEVENTEEN PROOFS Why Passover
Should Be Observed on Nisan 15!
There is mass confusion among Christian groups as to when
the Passover should be observed. Orthodox Protestants and
Catholics, of course, repudiate it altogether as "Jewish" and
embrace the pagan 'Easter" instead. Christians who try to live
by the Bible commandments, however, are in dispute as to when
to observe Passover -- some say it should be kept on Nisan 14,
when they believe the "Lord's Supper" occurred; others claim it
should be observed during the beginning evening of Nisan 15,
as the Jews observe it; still others claim it should be observed
at 3:00 PM on the afternoon of Nisan 14, the very time Jesus died
on the stake. What is the truth? What does GOD'S WORD say?
William F. Dankenbring
It is time we understand, and get this matter right, once and for all! There is simply no excuse for all the confusion that seems to exist among end-time remnants of the Church of God as to when Passover ought to be observed. In this article, I will give you seventeen powerful reasons, based on Scriptural evidence, that there should be no question on this vital matter -- no disagreement, no confusion, and no disunity. The very fact that such confusion, disunity and disarray exists, today, tells us a great deal about the spiritual condition of the leadership and members of most of the end-time Churches of God which observe the weekly Sabbath and profess to observe God's annual holy days!
Proof No. 1 -- The Original Passover
When did God originally command that the Passover be observed? God commanded Israel, "In the tenth day of this month [Nisan], they shall take to them every man a lamb, according to the house of their fathers, a lamb for an house . . . And ye shall keep it until the fourteenth day of the same month: and the whole assembly of the congregation of Israel shall KILL IT in the evening [Hebrew, "between the two evenings"]. . . . And they shall EAT the flesh in that night roast with fire, and unleavened
bread; and with bitter herbs they shall eat it . . . For I will PASS through the land of Egypt this night, and will smite all the firstborn in the land of Egypt . . . And THIS DAY shall be unto you for a memorial; and ye shall keep it a FEAST to the LORD throughout your generations; ye shall keep it a FEAST by an ordinance for ever" (Exodus 12:3-14).
This passage shows that the lambs were kept up until the afternoon of Nisan 14, when they were slain, "between the two evenings." This expression meant simply between noon, when the sun begins to go "down," and sunset, when the sun has "gone" down -- it means, in other words, the time of the "going down" of the sun in the sky, until it has completely set (see also Deut.16:6).
Since in God's calendar each day begins at sunset and ends at sunset (Leviticus 23:32; Gen.1:5, 8, 13, 19, 23, 31), this means that the lambs were sacrificed at the last few hours of Nisan 14, and then roasted and eaten that same night after sunset, or on NISAN 15! Nothing can be plainer than this simple fact.
In Exodus 12, God goes on to tell His people, "And ye shall observe this thing for an ORDINANCE TO THEE AND TO THY SONS FOR EVER" (verse 24). When children would ask their parents about this day, they were to teach them, "It is the sacrifice of the LORD's passover, who PASSED OVER the houses of the children of Israel in Egypt, when he smote the Egyptians, and delivered our houses" (verse 27).
That very night, at midnight on Nisan 15, God "smote all the firstborn in the land of Egypt" and "there was a great cry in Egypt; for there was not a house where there was not one dead" (v.30). Pharaoh was very upset and all his advisers. He called for Moses and Aaron "by night, and said, Rise up, and get you forth from among my people" (verse 31). The whole land of Egypt was desperate, anxious that the Israelites should leave immediately, "in haste; for they said, We be all dead men" (verse 33). They were afraid they would ALL die! So early the next morning, which was Nisan 15 still, the Israelites began moving OUT of Egypt in the greatest Exodus the world has ever seen. Three to five million people, men, women, and children began the journey to Canaan, with their flocks and herds.
This fateful night of the Passover was established by God to be "a night to be much observed unto the LORD for bringing them out from the land of Egypt: this is that night of the LORD to be observed of all the children of Israel in their generations" (Exo.12:42). This night was the "ordinance of the passover" (vs.47-48).
We read, "And the children of Israel journeyed from Ramses to Succoth" (Exo.12:37), the first stage of their journey, when they began marching out of Egypt. What day was this? "And they departed from Ramses in the first month, on the FIFTEENTH DAY of the first month; on the morrow [morning] AFTER the passover the
children of Israel went out with an high hand in the sight of all the Egyptians. For the Egyptians buried all their firstborn, which the LORD had smitten among them" (Numbers 33:3-4).
Proof No. 2 -- the Unleavened Bread
When Israel left Egypt we read the peculiar and astonishing statement, "The Israelites journeyed from Ramses to Succoth . . . With the dough they had brought from Egypt, they baked cakes of unleavened bread. The dough was without yeast because they had been DRIVEN OUT OF EGYPT and DID NOT HAVE TIME to prepare food for themselves" (Exodus 12:37-39).
In verse 33 we read, "The Egyptians URGED the people to HURRY and leave the country. 'For otherwise,' they said, 'we will ALL DIE!' So the people took their dough before the yeast was added, and carried it on their shoulders in kneading troughs wrapped in clothing" (vs.33-34).
Some few small groups claim that the Passover was slain after sunset, when Nisan 14 began, that all the next day (still Nisan 14) the Israelites stayed in Egypt taking their merry time, collecting their things, and that they did not leave until the FOLLOWING day -- Nisan 15! This kind of interpretation, however, does violence to the Scriptures which clearly state that the Egyptians were so fearful of their lives that they pressured the Israelites to leave IN HASTE, immediately -- not a whole day later! It also does violence to the fact that when Israel left, they were pushed out with such urgency and haste that their cakes and bread dough "was not leavened; because they were THRUST OUT of Egypt, and COULD NOT TARRY, neither had they prepared for themselves any victuals" (Exo.12:39, KJV). The Israelites did not wait around all day long -- for in that case their bread would have been LEAVENED! Once yeast is added to dough, it only takes about 20 minutes for it to become leavened. Therefore, this Scripture shows that the Israelites left EARLY IN THE MORNING, so quickly that they did not even have time to leaven their dough for bread-making!
Proof No. 3 -- They Left in a Tremendous Hurry!
God commanded the Israelites an unusual command, we would have to say, if they were not to leave Egypt until a whole day passed AFTER the miracle of the Passover itself and the slaying of the Egyptian firstborn! He told them, concerning the Passover, "This is how you are to eat it: with your cloak tucked into your belt, your sandals on your feet and your staff in your hand. EAT IT IN HASTE; it is the LORD's Passover" (Exo.12:11).
Obviously, from this command, we should deduce that they were to eat it quickly, PREPARED FOR IMMEDIATE FLIGHT AND DEPARTURE! If they were to sit around all the next day, and "pack," as some people believe, there would have been no reason for them to eat the Passover in haste, all dressed up and ready to go -- ready to
We read what happened: "At MIDNIGHT the LORD struck down all the firstborn in Egypt, from the firstborn of Pharaoh, who sat on the throne, to the firstborn of the prisoner, who was in the dungeon, and the firstborn of all the livestock as well. Pharaoh and all his officials and all the Egyptians GOT UP DURING THE NIGHT, and there was loud wailing in Egypt, for there was not a house without someone dead.
"DURING THE NIGHT Pharaoh summoned Moses and Aaron and said, 'Up! Leave my people, you and the Israelites! GO, worship the LORD as you have requested. Take your flocks and herds, as you have requested, and GO. And also bless me'" (Exo.12:31-32).
With the Egyptians scared to death, and all this extreme urgency, does it make any sense to you that the Israelites would have ignored this advice, and dilly dallied all the next day, collecting collectibles from the Egyptians, before finally, slowly leaving? Nonsense! The Scriptures say plainly that they left IMMEDIATELY -- in great HASTE! Pharaoh thrust them out of the country in great gnawing fear and terror! There was no delay at all. The Israelites did not wait around, all the next day, giving Pharaoh opportunity to change his mind again, as he had done so many times previously.
Consider for a moment. Nine devastating plagues had fallen on Egypt After several of them, Pharaoh had relented, and told Israel to go -- but then changed his mind. He was a very indecisive individual -- vacillating, changeable, untrustworthy. With such a man at the helm, who had deceived them several times before, now that they had this final word from him to GET OUT of Egypt -- do you think it reasonable that Israel would have disregarded this Pharaoh's state of mind and history of going back on his word, and ignored his request to get out -- for the entire WHOLE NEXT DAY?
Nonsense! Again, the Scriptural account shows that they left early the next morning -- at first light -- at the daytime portion of Nisan 15, right after Passover night! These Scriptures clearly prove, therefore, that Passover should be observed on Nisan 15! This was the original date when God COMMANDED it to be observed!
Proof No. 4 -- the TIME they left Egypt!
Some try to claim that the children of Israel were commanded to stay in their dwellings all that night and could not leave until the next morning, which is true (Exo.12:22). However, the purpose of this command was to keep the children of Israel INSIDE their houses until the PLAGUE was past (see verse 23). If anyone had been outside his house, when the plague came through the region, about midnight, they would have been "fair game" for death! Only those inside their houses, with the blood over the
doorpost and lintel, were under the protection of God! Therefore, there was a practical reason for this command; it had nothing to do with the TIME of their departure from Egypt, but was to prevent them going outside before the plague had run its course. Moses and Aaron themselves, for example, got up that very night when Pharaoh summoned them -- even though it was still nighttime (verse 31). No doubt as soon as Moses and Aaron got back to the Israelites, they summoned them, announced the good news, and they broke camp and began leaving Egypt -- early the next morning -- so quickly that their bread dough was not even leavened!
Some, however, try to say that they left Egypt "at night" on Nisan 15 -- twenty four hours AFTER the Passover, which they claim was at the beginning of Nisan 14. This idea, of course, leads to all the problems mentioned above about the time delay of a whole day between the Passover and Exodus -- a delay completely refuted by a simple reading of Exodus 12, which emphasizes the HASTE and urgency of Israel leaving Egypt! Their faulty reasoning is that since Israel could not leave their homes the night of the Passover, they had to leave the next night, since the Scripture say they left "at night" (Exo.12:42), and on Nisan 15 (Numbers 33:3).
However, the Bible says, "And it came to pass at the end of the four hundred and years, even the selfsame day it came to pass, that all the hosts of the LORD went out from the land of Egypt. It is a NIGHT to be much observed unto the LORD for bringing them out from the land of Egypt: this is that night of the LORD to be observed of all the children of Israel in their generations" (Exo.12:41-42). This reference is to the PASSOVER ITSELF -- not the next night afterwards! The Exodus of Israel BEGAN with the fateful events of the Passover itself, which FREED Israel from Egyptians slavery. It began when Pharaoh commanded Moses that same night to take Israel and to GET OUT, thus giving them official permission to leave the country!
However, did they really leave "at night"? Does it make any sense to you that they would have waited around all the daylight hours, which would have been perfect for marching out of Egypt, and then began their journey a whole night later, IN PITCH DARKNESS? Even with a full moon on a cloudless night, it is VERY DIFFICULT to march anywhere at NIGHT! We are talking about some 3 million people, their oxen, sheep and cattle, and CHILDREN! It would have been INSANE, for them to wait till NIGHTFALL, and then. to leave on a perilous journey in dangerous darkness! I 'know. I helped "march" a group of cub scouts years ago along a dirt road on Catalina Island, AT NIGHT, to the summer camp! We only had about twenty scouts -- and we had the advantage of flashlights -- and still we had to carefully watch our steps! The Scriptures say that they did not have a "pillar of fire" to lead them at night until they left Succoth and camped at Etham (Exo.13:20-22).
However, the Scriptures plainly state that the Israelites, after keeping vigil all that night, left early the next morning, as soon as it was practicable -- during the daylight hours. We read, "The Israelites set out from Ramses on the fifteenth day of the first month, the day after the Passover [that is, the morrow or morning after Passover]. THEY MARCHED OUT BOLDLY, IN FULL VIEW OF ALL THE EGYPTIANS, who were burying all their firstborn, whom the LORD had struck down among them" (Numbers 33:3-4).
Obviously, this occurred at daylight -- when the Egyptians could SEE them passing by, as they themselves were busy -- during the daylight -- burying their dead family members!
Proof No. 5 -- the Day the Jews Observe
The apostle Paul wrote, "What advantage then hath the Jew? or what profit is there of circumcision? MUCH EVERY WAY," he answered his own question. He went on: "chiefly, because that unto THEM were committed the ORACLES OF GOD" (Romans 3:1-2). God entrusted His Word and by extension His Holy Days and revelations TO THE JEWS for them to be preserved throughout the generations and centuries and millennia. Were it not for the Jews' faithfulness to this command, we would not even possess the entire Old Testament of the Bible, where the laws and commandments of God are all recorded!
The Jews all understand the truth about Passover, and all orthodox Jews to this very day, and all Judaism as a whole, observes Passover on NISAN 15, just as their forefathers and ancestors have done, century after century after century! They have never departed from this truth, any more than they have lost the correct weekly Sabbath day! Although Jews have, to this day, by and large rejected Christ as the Messiah, they have adhered to their own ancient laws and customs and traditions, and the laws and holy days of God, despite vehement persecution from Catholics, Protestants, and so-called "Christians," who have rejected the laws of God and substituted pagan observances in their place!
When did the Jews observe Passover during the time of Christ? The answer is, they observed it on Nisan 15, just as God commanded. The gospel of John makes this fact absolutely clear and irrefutable. We read in John 13, "Now BEFORE the feast of the PASSOVER, when Jesus knew that his hour was come that he should depart out of the world unto the Father, having loved his own which were in the world, he loved them unto the end. And supper being ended . . . [Jesus] RISETH FROM SUPPER, and laid aside his garments; and took a towel, and girded himself. After that he poureth water into a basin, and began to wash the disciples' feet. . . " (John 13:1-5).
This was the night of the "Lords Supper." It was the last meal Jesus was to have with His disciples. But notice carefully. John tells us in clear, unmistakable language that this supper was "BEFORE the feast of the Passover" -- therefore it itself was NOT the "Passover," as so many churches claim today! In fact, the following night and day -- when Jesus was taken captive by the guard of the Sanhedrin, and brought before the high priest, and early the next morning before Pontius Pilate, the Jewish leaders "went not into the judgment hall, lest they should be defiled; but that they might EAT THE PASSOVER" (John 18:28). In other words, the Passover had not yet come! And this was the early daylight portion of Nisan 14.
Later that same morning, Pilate had Jesus scourged and beaten (John 19:1-3). This time Pilate brought Jesus before the gathered crowd of Jews, who demanded that He be crucified and executed (verses 5-12). Pilate, having no character or moral convictions about the matter, gave in to the pressure from the masses, and brought Jesus forth to be condemned. "And it was the PREPARATION OF THE PASSOVER, and about the sixth hour [12 noon, Jewish time]: And he said unto the Jews, Behold your King!" (John 19:14).
How plain! The Passover had NOT yet arrived; it has not yet been observed. The Passover type symbols which Jesus had introduced during the last supper He had with His disciples, at the "Lord's Supper," the evening before His capture, were introduced IN ANTICIPATION OF THE TRUE PASSOVER, anticipating or looking forward to the proper day of its observance! This was only natural, for Jesus Himself would be dead and buried in the grave on Nisan 15, the true time for the Passover meal and observance. These symbols of the "bread and wine" were an ancient ceremony called the "Kiddush" and can be traced back to the time of Abraham and Melchisedek (Gen.14:18).
Jesus was then crucified, and hanged on the stake from 9:00 AM till 3:00 PM, when He expired (see Mark 15:25, 34). After His death, "The Jews therefore, because it was the PREPARATION [of the Passover], that the bodies should not remain upon the cross on the sabbath day, (for that sabbath day was an high day), besought Pilate that their legs might be broken, and that they might be taken away" (John 19:30-31). Notice! It was after Jesus was dead, after 3:00 PM in the afternoon of Nisan 14 -- and it was still the "PREPARATION" OF THE PASSOVER! The Passover lambs were even at that precise time being slaughtered at the Temple in Jerusalem -- something like 250,000 of them, according to the Jewish first century historian Josephus. They were being prepared for roasting that very night. Preparations were even then underway for the Passover meal which would be celebrated AT NIGHT, NISAN 15, just as the Jews had done for centuries, just as all Israel had done in the very year of the Exodus out of Egypt!
Clearly, the Jews celebrated Passover on Nisan 15 -- and it was to them that God committed His Words and Oracles! We should, therefore, follow their example!
Proof No. 6 -- the Scribes and Pharisees
Jesus Christ told His disciples, "The scribes and the Pharisees sit in Moses' seat: ALL THEREFORE whatsoever they bid you OBSERVE, that observe and DO. . ." (Matt.23:2-3). The Pharisees were the remnant of God's true Old Testament Church. They taught the word of God and laws of God, insofar as the laws of Moses were concerned. Jesus, in this passage of Scripture, plainly tells us so long as they correctly teach the Torah, that we are to FOLLOW THEIR TEACHING as to the laws and commandments of God, because they had the authority passed down from the time of Moses himself. Jesus said we are to observe "whatsoever" they bid us to do, so long at it is according to Scripture (Isa.8:20)! That would certainly include, since nothing was left out, the observance of Passover on Nisan 15, at night!
The Pharisees were the dominant Jewish religious leaders during the time of Christ and we have already seen how they observed Passover on Nisan 15. The apostle Paul himself was also a Pharisee. He testified to the Jews, "I am verily a man which am a Jew, born in Tarsus, a city in Cilicia, yet brought up in this city at the feet of Gamaliel, and TAUGHT ACCORDING TO THE PERFECT MANNER OF THE LAW of the fathers, and was zealous toward God, as ye all are this day" (Acts 22:3). Paul obviously was not ashamed of this aspect of his Pharisaical upbringing. He had learned God's laws at the feet of their greatest teacher of that time, Gamaliel.
On another occasion, Paul told the assembled Sanhedrin, "Men and brethren, I am a Pharisee, the son of a Pharisee" (Acts 23:6). Paul later testified before king Agrippa, "My manner of life from my youth, which was at the first among mine own nation at Jerusalem, know all the Jews; which knew me from the beginning, if they would testify, that after the most straitest sect of our religion I lived a PHARISEE" (Acts 26:4).
Paul, therefore, always observed Passover and ate the Passover meal on Nisan 15! If this were a huge doctrinal mistake, as some claim, then Paul could not have written to the Philippians that he was "as touching the law, a Pharisee; concerning zeal, persecuting the church; touching the RIGHTEOUSNESS WHICH IS IN THE LAW, BLAMELESS" (Phil.3:4-6).
Proof No. 7 -- the Day Jesus Observed
Jesus Christ Himself, of course, set us a perfect example. He never sinned. He never observed the Passover, or any other holy day of God, on the wrong day! All His life, He was PERFECT! (Heb.5:7-8). He was absolutely sinless -- never sinned a day in His life, although He was tempted as we are (Heb.2:14-18). He was "in all points tempted like as we are, YET WITHOUT SIN" (Heb.4:15). Jesus "knew no sin" (II Cor.5:21).
Therefore, Jesus Christ set us the PERFECT EXAMPLE of how to live pleasing in the sight of God. The apostle John wrote, "He that saith he abideth in him ought himself also so to walk, even as he walked" (I John 2:6). Christ lived His life in a perfect manner, "leaving us an EXAMPLE, that ye should FOLLOW HIS STEPS" (I Peter 2:21).
What day, then, did Jesus observe the Passover? Notice! "Now his parents went TO JERUSALEM EVERY YEAR AT THE FEAST OF THE PASSOVER. And when he was twelve years old, they went up to Jerusalem AFTER THE CUSTOM OF THE FEAST" -- that is, the Jewish traditional custom! "And when they had FULFILLED THE DAYS [observed all seven days of unleavened bread!], as they returned, the child Jesus tarried behind in Jerusalem; and Joseph and his mother knew not of it. . .' (Luke 2:41-43).
This passage shows us plainly that Joseph and Mary and their family, including Jesus, their son, all observed Passover ACCORDING TO THE CUSTOM of the JEWS! That proves, once again, that they observed it at the same time the Jews do -- celebrating the Passover Feast on Nisan 15! Like other Jewish families, they would have brought their lamb to the Temple on the afternoon of Nisan 14, had it inspected, approved, and then would have ritually slaughtered it, and then taken it home with them, and would have begun roasting it that very evening. The roasting itself would have required several hours, so that the final Passover dinner would have been eaten that night -- the night of Nisan 15 -- after the sun would have set! Remember, the day would have changed from Nisan 14 to 15 at the moment of sunset, when the first stars became visible (Lev.23:32).
Proof No. 8 -- Jesus Christ Never Changes!
Is Jesus Christ living His life in you, today, in your heart and mind? Has He taken up residence in your flesh through the Holy Spirit of God? The apostle Paul wrote, "Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ he is none of his" (Rom.8:9). Furthermore, Paul wrote, "For as many as are LED by, the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God" (Rom.8:14). This is a very important truth.
Paul himself declared, "I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but CHRIST LIVETH IN ME: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me" (Gal.2:20). Is Christ living His life IN YOU -- today?
If you think He is, then consider this: God Almighty declared, "I change not" (Mal.3:6). Jesus Christ is very God (John 1:1-3). He also does not CHANGE! The apostle Paul wrote of Him, "Jesus Christ the SAME yesterday, and today, and forever" (Hebrews 3:8).
Now consider. Jesus Christ, as we have proved, observed Passover on Nisan 15, just like the Jews did -- just as God commanded! AND HE DOES NOT CHANGE! Therefore, He must still observe it on the VERY SAME DAY, IN OUR AGE, AS HE DID 1900 YEARS
If He is dwelling inside you, through the Holy Spirit of God, which God only gives to those who OBEY Him (Acts 5:32), and if you are truly being led by His Spirit in you, then YOU, TOO, WILL BE OBSERVING PASSOVER ON NISAN 15, JUST AS HE DID, AND STILL DOES, TODAY, AND WILL -- FOREVER! This is God's eternal template for the Passover -- and His Law, like He Himself, never changes!
Proof No. 9 -- We Must Observe at the Appointed Time
Some may think that it really doesn't matter when we observe the Passover, so long as we observe it. Is this true? Again, the mere opinions of men who are fallible should not be used to justify disobedience to the plain commandments of Almighty God and His divine Word!
God commands us clearly, "These are the FEASTS OF THE LORD" -- not your feasts or my feasts, but GOD's very own Feasts; they belong to HIM, and are to be observed in HIS HONOR! -- "even holy convocations, which ye shall proclaim in their seasons." The word for "seasons" here is moadim, and literally means "at the appointed time." God's Word continues: "In the fourteenth day of the first month AT EVEN [at the end of the day!] is the LORD's passover [when the lambs were to be slain]. And on the FIFTEENTH DAY of the same month is the FEAST of unleavened bread unto the LORD: seven days ye must eat unleavened bread" (Lev.23:4-6).
Notice! These feasts are to be proclaimed "in their seasons." The New International Version translates this passage, "These are the LORD's APPOINTED FEASTS, the sacred assemblies you are to proclaim AT THEIR APPOINTED TIMES. The Passover BEGINS at twilight on [the end of] the fourteenth day of the first month. On the fifteenth day of that month the LORD'S FEAST of unleavened bread begins" (same verses).
Notice! We are COMMANDED to keep these holy days "at their appointed times." That means NO OTHER TIME WILL SUFFICE OR COUNT! To observe these days at any OTHER time would be REBELLION AGAINST GOD! Thus, to observe the Passover 24 hours earlier, at the BEGINNING of the 14th of Nisan, is tantamount to spiritual REBELLION and WITCHCRAFT! As the prophet Samuel said to ancient king Saul, who did not fulfill God's literal command to slaughter and kill ALL the Amalekites (I Samuel 15:1-9), "When thou wast little in thine own sight, wast thou not made the head of the tribes of Israel, and the LORD anointed thee king over Israel? And the LORD sent thee on a journey, and said, Go and utterly destroy the sinners the Amalekites, and fight against them until they be consumed. Wherefore then didst thou not OBEY the voice of the LORD, but didst fly upon the spoil, and didst EVIL in the sight of the LORD?" (I Sam.15:17-19).
Saul protested that he was innocent, even as Samuel heard the bleating of the sheep and the mooing of the cattle in his ears. Then Saul attempted to justify himself by blaming the "people" for saving some of the sheep and cattle of the Amalekites alive. But Samuel thundered in his ear, "Hath the LORD as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in OBEYING THE VOICE of the LORD? Behold, TO OBEY is better than sacrifice, and to hearken than the fat of rams. FOR REBELLION IS AS THE SIN OF WITCHCRAFT, and stubbornness is as iniquity and IDOLATRY. Because you have REJECTED the word of the LORD, he hath also rejected thee from being king" (verses 22-23).
To try to change one of God's Holy Day observances, even by 24 hours, is REBELLION against the law of God, and REJECTION of the Word of God! It is IDOLATRY! It is iniquity and WITCHCRAFT!
Those who knowingly do so are guilty of the very same sin as that of king Saul, who lost his kingship because of his rebellion! Those who knowingly and deliberately REBEL and observe the Passover at the WRONG TIME are doing EVIL in the sight of God, and will lose out on their kingship in the Kingdom of God -- they will wind up instead in the lake of fire and brimstone, along with all the other wicked idolaters and commandment breakers! (Rev.21:8). The fearful, wavering, unbelieving, disobedient, and abominable, will have their portion "in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death" (same verse). From that death there is no resurrection!
Proof No. 10 -- Jesus Did Not Come to CHANGE God's Law
The prophet Isaiah foretold that Christ would come to MAGNIFY the laws of God, not do away with them. We read, 'The LORD is well pleased for his righteousness' sake; he will MAGNIFY THE LAW, and make it honorable" (Isaiah 42:21). The Hebrew word gadal, translated "magnify," also means "to lift up, exceed, advance, make large, increase, promote, tower, make GREAT."
Jesus did not come, as so many Protestants and Catholics teach, to do away with, diminish, abrogate, or nullify the laws and commandments of God. He came to INCREASE their prestige, influence and greatness -- to ADVANCE their cause -- to promote them, and cause them to TOWER OVER all in importance and glory.
Jesus said to His disciples in simple, plain, clear-cut language, "Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. I tell you the truth, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished" (Matt.5:17-18).
How clear it should be, then, that Jesus Christ did not come to do away with the Passover celebration on the 15th of Nisan. Rather, He came to REINFORCE it -- to STRENGTHEN it -- to MAGNIFY it and make it GREATER THAN EVER! He did not come to "change it"
to the beginning of Nisan 14, or any other time. He came to INCREASE the power, scope, and validity of the TRUE PASSOVER CELEBRATION during the night portion of Nisan 15!
Proof No. 11 - Paul Had No Authority to Change God's Law
Some, however, look at I Corinthians 11, and the words of Paul, and think that he gave us authority to observe the Passover at a different time and manner from the ancient commandments of Scripture.
Notice carefully . Paul wrote to the Corinthians, "For I received from the Lord what I also passed on to you. The Lord Jesus, on the night he was betrayed, took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and said, 'This is my body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of me.' In the same way, after supper he took the cup, saying, 'This cup is the new covenant in my blood; do this, whenever you drink it, in remembrance of me.' For whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord's death until he comes" (I Cor.11:23-26).
Some churches claim that since Paul said "whenever" we eat this bread or drink this cup, the symbols of the Passover, that means we can do it "whenever we choose." Some claim that the appropriate time to do this is at the very time the "Lord's supper" occurred, which they believe was at the beginning of Nisan 14. Thus by that reasoning, Paul was abolishing the Passover on Nisan 15 altogether and replacing it with a "modified Lord's Supper."
Did Paul have the authority to make such a complete change? Did Paul have authority to do away with the LAWS OF GOD which were established FOREVER?
Notice! Paul did not state that he was changing anything about the Passover and its observance. Nowhere does he even use the word "Passover" in this chapter. How do we know he was referring to the Passover at all? The truth is, we don't! Ministers have ASSUMED he was talking about the Passover! Why? Because they also ASSUME that Jesus; last supper with His disciples was a "Passover"! But as we have seen, such is not the case! That was merely a "final going-away supper" which they held BEFORE the Passover, which was to be celebrated after Jesus' death on the stake!
What, then, is Paul talking about in I Corinthians 11? It is simply the "bread and wine" ceremony -- the Kiddush -- which goes back to the time of Abraham and Melchisedek (Gen.14:18) -- which, at His last supper, Jesus redefined the symbolism of the "bread and wine," showing that they referred to HIS broken body and shed blood!
Notice! Paul merely said that "when" we observe this ceremony, which some refer to as "communion," we should do it "IN REMEMBRANCE" OF CHRIST and His sacrifice, until He returns in His glory! Paul is merely restating the symbolism of the Kiddush -- the new interpretation that Jesus gave for the bread and the wine. This special ceremony was to be done "AS OFTEN AS" we do it -- that is, "WHENEVER WE DRINK IT" -- many times a year (verses 24-26). When we partake of the bread and wine at fellowship meals, Jesus gave us these two symbols to remind us of the vitality and reality of His own broken body and shed blood on our behalf! Paul did not seek to "change" ANYTHING AT ALL! He was not even talking about the "Passover" -- but was merely pointing out the truth of the new emphasis Jesus gave to the bread and wine which is taken at fellowship dinners throughout the year, on New Moons, and special Sabbaths!
Paul was a meek and humble man. He did not arrogate to himself authority God never gave to him. Rather, he said to these same Corinthians, "Follow my example, AS I FOLLOW THE EXAMPLE OF CHRIST" (I Corinthians 11:1). Paul, therefore, did not change a single thing about the Passover! He observed it the very same day, manner, and time that Jesus Christ did! He also observed it on Nisan 15, in accordance with the law of God!
Proof No. 12 -- The Apostle Paul Observed God's Feasts
The apostle Paul at no time sought to change a single law of God. Contrary to widespread Protestant and Catholic opinion, Paul was the apostle who was dynamically FOR the law of God! Why, he himself was a PHARISEE, who stood tall in support of the Laws of God! And Paul even admitted to the fact that he was STILL A PHARISEE in A.D. 60 and 62 (Acts 23:6; 26:5). This was almost 30 years after his conversion!
Paul's attitude towards the law of God is revealed in the book of Romans. He wrote that the Christian faith does NOT nullify the law of God! He declared, "Do we, then, nullify the law by this faith? NOT AT ALL! Rather, we UPHOLD the law" (Rom.3:31, NIV). Some, today, teach that the laws of God are evil, bad, a curse and a burden. They seem to think that God was a horrible slave-driver and tyrannical monster. However, Paul knew better. He wrote, "What shall we say, then? Is the law sin? Certainly not! Indeed I would not have known what sin was, except through the law. For I would not have known what coveting really was if the law had not said, 'Do not covet'" (Rom.7:7).
Paul goes on, "So then, the LAW is HOLY, and the commandment is HOLY, righteous and good' (Rom.7:12). He wrote that the law of God is "spiritual" (verse 14), and that which is spiritual is ETERNAL (II Cor.4:17-18).
Paul would not attempt to change one iota of God's holy, perfect, immutable, inexorable, eternal LAW! However, the ones who do attempt to rescind, nullify, and abrogate God's Laws, including changing the Passover and Holy Days of God, which Paul
himself observed throughout his life and during his ministry, are under God's CURSE (Gal. 1:6-9; Rom.2:13).
Did Paul observe God's annual Holy Days, which were statutes in His Law (Lev.23)? Notice! Concerning the Feast of Pentecost, or Shavuot, Paul told the Ephesians, "I must by all means KEEP THIS FEAST that cometh in Jerusalem" (see Acts 18:21). On his way back to Jerusalem, Paul stopped at Philippi to observe the Passover and Days of Unleavened Bread. We read the words of his companion Luke, who inscribed in his journal, "And we sailed away from Philippi AFTER the days of unleavened bread" Acts 20:6). Paul wanted to observe the Festival of Pentecost in Jerusalem that year (Acts 20:16).
Did Paul believe that Christians should observe the Passover? Notice! Paul wrote to the Corinthians, "Purge out therefore the old leaven, that ye may be a new lump, as ye are [presently] unleavened [in your homes]." This was no doubt written during the days of Unleavened Bread, which the Church was clearly observing! Paul went on, "For even Christ our passover is sacrificed for us: Therefore LET US KEEP [OBSERVE] THE FEAST, not with old leaven, neither with the leaven of malice and wickedness; but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth" I Cor.5:7-8). The New International Version says, "Let us keep the Festival." To "keep" means to OBSERVE as a Holy Day, an annual Sabbath of God!
How plain this should be to all!
Proof No. 13 -- Beware Those Who Try "To Change Times and Laws"
In the book of Daniel, we read that in the last days, one would arise who is an enemy of God's Law. This wicked king will "speak against the Most High and oppress the saints and TRY TO CHANGE THE SET TIMES AND THE LAWS. The saints will be handed over to him for a time, times and half a time" (Daniel 7:25). Moffat has this, "he shall plan to alter the sacred seasons and the law." The Tanakh has it, "he will think of changing times and laws." He "shall think to change times and law," says the Septuagint.
The Good News Bible: "He will try to change their religious laws and festivals." "He will attempt to alter the seasons and the laws," says the Complete Jewish Bible.
In other words, he is going to work to change holy days, their dates and observances, and any number of God's Laws -- probably declaring prostitution permissible, abortion all right, and even changing God's sacred calendar, New Moons, and the annual holy days.
This same wicked one is called the "son of lawlessness" by the apostle Paul in his letter to the Thessalonians (II Thess.2:3). He is a man "doomed to destruction" (verse 4). He is the "son of perdition." He will attempt to abolish God's laws, especially His
true Holy Days and Sabbaths and religious observances!
Paul wrote, "Don't you remember that when I was with you I used to tell you these things? And now you know what is holding him back, so that he may be revealed at the proper time. For the SECRET POWER OF LAWLESSNESS IS ALREADY AT WORK; but the one who now holds it back will continue to do so till he is taken out of the way. And then the LAWLESS ONE will be revealed, whom the Lord Jesus will overthrow with the breath of his mouth and destroy by the splendor of his coming" (II Thess.2:5-8, NIV).
God condemns all lawless ones who attempt to nullify and abolish or destroy or alter or change in any manner His divine commandments or His true Holy Days!
To attempt to worship God in any way other than the way in which He has prescribed and ordained in His Word, is tantamount to the sin of Nadab and Abihu, the two sons of Aaron who offered 'strange fire' before the LORD. "Aaron's sons Nadab and Abihu took their censors, put fire in them and added incense; and they offered UNAUTHORIZED FIRE before the LORD, contrary to his command. So fire came out from the presence of the LORD and consumed them, and they died before the LORD" (Lev.10:1-2, NIV).
To celebrate Passover at any other time than He commanded, at the night of Nisan 15, is tantamount to offering UNAUTHORIZED FIRE before the Lord, and the penalty for knowingly doing so is DEATH!
Herbert Armstrong himself wrote, in the April 1985 Good News magazine, in an article entitled "Does Easter Commemorate the Resurrection?" the following words concerning the Passover of God:
"Once we learn the truth about its observance, and yet
take it at any other time than what God says, then we
take it unworthily."
Herbert Armstrong, of course, thought that the Jews observed Passover at the beginning of Nisan 14, and that somehow modern Jews have lost that knowledge. He was mistaken, as he often admitted that he could be. In another article, a "Personal" in the June/July 1981 Good News, he confessed, "We are all human. We are all fallible. I have been wrong. I have made mistakes." This is obviously one of those times!
But Herbert Armstrong was right when he wrote that once we learn the TRUTH about Passover observance, if we continue to take it at any other time that what God says, we take it "unworthily," and become guilty of sinning knowingly -- and thereby bring judgment and CONDEMNATION upon ourselves! (I Cor.11:27-32).
Proof 14 -- There is No Biblical Record of Any Change
Think about this for a moment. If God did allow His holy Passover celebration to be changed, and switched from Nisan 15 to the night portion of Nisan 14, such a monumental change in the law should be carefully set forth and documented in the Word of God!
Somewhere in the New Testament, then, there should be clear and precise language and evidence setting forth this enormously important change and alteration. However, the truth is that the entire New Testament, from the gospel of Matthew to the book of Revelation, is strangely silent -- mute -- about any such alleged change or alteration! There is not a peep or a mutter or any mention whatsoever about such a "change"! The strange silence to such a massive and important change is truly "deafening." The silence of the New Testament to such a change, and the fact that no such change is anywhere mentioned, stated, sanctioned, or recorded, commented on or even alluded to, means that such a change NEVER OCCURRED! It was NEVER AUTHORIZED BY GOD IN HIS WORD! Therefore, any such change comes from MEN, and not the Word of God!
What does Jesus say about those who worship Him by their own "human" ideas and customs? Solomon wrote in Proverbs, "There is a way which seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the WAYS OF DEATH" (Proverbs 14:12).
Jesus puts it very plainly: "Why do you also transgress the commandment of God by your tradition? . . . . Ye hypocrites, well did Isaiah prophesy of you, saying, This people draweth nigh unto me with their mouth, and honoureth me with their lips; but their heart is far from me. BUT IN VAIN DO THEY WORSHIP ME, teaching for doctrines the COMMANDMENTS OF MEN" (Matthew 15:3-9).
If you observe the Passover on the night of Nisan 14, then you are following a commandment of MEN! For Jesus Christ and the early New Testament Church of God NEVER observed such a day or celebration as the "Passover"! Such a celebration is a perversion and a corruption of the original Passover truth! Furthermore, to attempt to celebrate the "Passover" by an austere, somber, deadly quiet, fearful meeting, and partaking of a tiny piece of unleavened bread, and a small vial of wine, and calling that the PASSOVER FEAST, is a terrible paltry substitution of the PAGAN MASS for the festival of the Passover! Jesus Christ never intended to institute a new observance the night of Nisan 14, with a pagan mass. He never commanded such a celebration or ceremony, nor did He ever sanction or authorize it. Therefore, it is a "way that seemeth right unto a man" -- it is a "way of DEATH"!
Jesus says those who worship Him in that way DO SO "IN VAIN"!
Are you one of them? These are not merely my own personal words or thoughts. These are the very WORDS OF CHRIST THE MESSIAH! The gospel of Mark records Christ saying, "You have let go of the commands of God and are holding to the traditions of men" (Mark 7:8, NIV). He added, "You have a fine way of setting aside the commands of God in order to observe your own traditions!" (v.9).
Proof No. 15 -- God's Law Is IMMUTABLE
David wrote in the book of Psalms, "The works of his hands are verity and judgment; all his commandments are sure. They stand fast for ever and ever, and are done in truth and uprightness" (Psalm 111:7-8).
David also wrote in the Psalms, "Thou hast rebuked the proud that are cursed, which do err from thy commandments" (Psa.119:21). David went on, "Horror hath taken hold upon me because of the wicked that forsake thy law" (verse 53).
Did David despise the laws of God? Not on your life! He wrote, "For ever, O LORD, thy word is settled in heaven" (Psalm 119:89). God's Law, therefore, is "settled" in heaven. It is eternal. It cannot be, changed, abrogated, annulled, abolished, or altered! And that includes the laws regulating the time and observance of the Passover! David said, "I have inclined mine heart to perform thy statutes ALWAY, even unto the end" (verse 112).
David wrote, "Thy law is the truth" (Psalm 119:142). Truth is eternal -- God's Word is also the "truth" (John 17:17). Jesus Himself is the "truth" -- and the perfect expression and image of the Law of God (John 14:6). It is the "truth" -- or the LAWS of God, therefore -- which Jesus says will "set you free" (John 8:32).
David concluded, "The LAW of the LORD is PERFECT, converting the soul: the testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple. The statutes of the LORD are right, rejoicing the heart: the commandment of the LORD is pure, enlightening the eyes. The fear of the LORD is clean, enduring for ever: the judgments of the LORD are true and righteous altogether. More to be desired are they than gold, yea, than much fine gold: sweeter also dm honey and the honeycomb. Moreover by them is thy servant WARNED: and in keeping of them is GREAT REWARD" (Psalm 19:7-11).
God's Law is spiritual and eternal just as He is spiritual and eternal. Those who keep His Law are His true people.
Proof No. 16 -- Proof of the Early Church
When did the early Christian Church, in the days of the first and second centuries, observe the Passover? What does the record of Church history say? Samuel Bacchiocchi, in his scholarly book
From Sabbath to Sunday.- A Historical Investigation of the Rise of Sunday Observance in Early Christianity, wrote:
'Moreover we know from the Quartodeciman's sources (i.e. those
who kept Passover on Nisan 14 ACCORDING TO THE JEWISH RECKONING), which apparently represent a DIRECT CONTINUATION OF THE PRIMITIVE CHURCH, that the PASCHAL FEAST WAS INDEED OBSERVED BY CHRISTIANS. Its celebration ... occurred ... as well stated by J. Jeremias, 'at the SAME TIME AS THE JEWISH PASSOVER, that is, on the NIGHT
OF THE 15TH OF NISAN. . ." (page 81).
Bacchiocchi writes, in plain language, later on in his monumental classic work:
". . . Epiphanius (ca. A.D. 315-403) suggests that UNTIL
A.D. 135 Christians EVERYWHERE observed Passover ON
THE JEWISH DATE, namely, ON NISAN 15, irrespective of
the day of the week" (ibid.).
This is plain, incontrovertible PROOF that both the Jews, and early Christians, observed the Passover -- and they both did so ON NISAN 15 -- NOT at the beginning of Nisan 14, as some churches claim should be done, today! Nor did they substitute "Easter" Sunday in its place, as later paganized Gentiles began to do, especially after the Council of Nicea in 325 A.D.
Scholars such as M. Simon and Samuel Bacchiocchi point out that the early Christians were characterized by their distinctive Jewishness and observance of Jewish laws and customs. M. Simon stresses that the Nazarenes were noted for "their tenacious attachment to Jewish observances." Bacchiocchi points out that they "retained the ORIGINAL PRACTICE of Jewish Christianity" (p.156-157 of his book).
Epiphanius, an early Church historian, accused these "Nazarenes" of heresy, because of their adherence to "Jewish" customs and laws. He wrote of these early Jewish Christians,
"The Nazarenes do not differ in any essential thing from
them [the Jews], since they practice the CUSTOM AND
DOCTRINES PRESCRIBED BY JEWISH LAW,
except that they believe in Christ'" (ibid.).
Epiphanius says that until 135 A.D., which was the end of the Bar Kochba rebellion, the fifteen Jewish-Christian bishops who
presided over the Jerusalem Church, all practiced the JEWISH PASSOVER. This practice, he wrote, was based on a document called the "Apostolic Constitutions." That document states, in part:
"You shall not change the calculated time, but you shall celebrate it [the Passover] AT THE SAME TIME AS YOUR BRETHREN who came out from the circumcision [the Jews]. WITH THEM OBSERVE THE PASSOVER" (Epiphanius, Advenus haereses, quoted in Bacchiocchi).
Samuel Bacchiocchi concludes from the evidence of history that:
"The fact that the controversy over the Passover date arose not prior to but at the time when the new anti-Judaic policy of the Emperor caused a reconstitution of the Jerusalem Church with Gentile members and leaders suggests, first, that up to that time the Church, composed primarily of Judeo-Christian, HAD BEEN LOYAL TO BASIC JEWISH RELIGIOUS INSTITUTIONS, SUCH AS PASSOVER AND SABBATH; and secondly, that certain changes, particularly in the liturgical calendar, were occasioned by the new repressive measures taken by the Emperor against Jewish religious practices" (p. 162).
The evidence from history, therefore, is clear, and unequivocal -- the Passover's correct date for observance is Nisan 15 -- JUST LIKE THE JEWS OF TODAY STILL OBSERVE IT, and have faithfully preserved it, these two thousand years since the time of Christ and the apostles! If you would like further historical proof of this salient fact, then write for my articles, "When Did the Early Church Observe the Passover?", "When Should Passover Be Observed?", "The Passover Plot," and "Wonderful New Truth about the Passover."
Proof No. 17 -- The True Passover Is A SIGN
Between God and His People
The Passover celebration on the correct day and time, therefore, IDENTIFIES THE TRUE PEOPLE OF GOD as opposed to the deceived, false, misled millions who profess to obey and follow God, but who in truth are victims of a Satanic delusion and false religious teaching -- the same vicious web of lies and deception that Satan the devil began to weave in the Garden of Eden!
God says, "Verily MY SABBATHS [that is, all His Holy Days, including the annual Sabbaths -- including the Passover and First Day of Unleavened Bread!] ye shall keep: for it is a SIGN BETWEEN ME AND YOU throughout your generations; that ye may know that I am the LORD that doth sanctify you" (Exodus 31:13).
"Wherefore the children of Israel shall keep the sabbath , to observe the sabbath throughout their generations, FOR A PERPETUAL COVENANT. It is a SIGN between me and the children of Israel FOR EVER: for in six days the LORD made heaven and; earth, and on the seventh day, he rested, and was refreshed" (verses 16-17).
The Passover and Days of Unleavened Bread are especially called a "SIGN" between God and His true people (Exodus 13:5-9). Those who observance a FALSE Passover, at the WRONG TIME, and in a PAGAN manner, are guilty of SIN and do not possess this vital identifying "sign" of God's true people!
When the time of trouble comes, full blown, therefore, will they be under God's SIGN -- will such disobedient people qualify for GOD'S DIVINE PROTECTION?
Think about it! If some Israelites did not keep Passover at the 'APPOINTED TIME," but kept it a day EARLY, or a DAY LATE -- would they have been spared when the "death angel" visited the homes in Egypt and killed all the firstborn? Or would their transgression on this point have disqualified them from protection and exposed them "naked" to the wrath of God?
God said to His people, "The blood will be a sign for you on the houses where you are; and when I see the blood, I will pass over you. No destructive plague will touch you when I strike Egypt" (Exodus 12:13).
But what would have happened if they observed the WRONG DAY? God would NOT have "passed over" them! They would have been exposed to the destructive plagues sent as punishment on the Egyptians! Similarly, today, if some of God's people observe the wrong days, as God's Holy Days, they will be exposed to the wrathful, furious plagues which God will pour out on this modern "Egypt" -- this modern "Babylon"!
If you observe the TRUE PASSOVER, with the correct symbols that Jesus Christ instituted, at the correct time, on Nisan 15, along with the other holy days and the weekly Sabbath -- that IDENTIFIES YOU as one of God's TRUE SERVANTS! It is a veritable PROOF that you are indeed one of God's own chosen ones! It is an identifying mark, characteristic, or "sign."
If you do not observe the true Passover, then you are off to a wrong start with the very first and in many ways the most important of God's Holy Days -- the one mentioned more often than any other in the Scriptures! Have you been deceived by Satan the devil, who appears as an angel of light and knowledge (II Cor.11:13-15)? Have you been observing a PAGAN ordinance, a PAGAN institution, which Satan has engrafted onto the Church to REPLACE God's true Passover -- the pagan "Eucharist" or "Lord's Supper" which derives from the ancient PAGAN MASS, and the worship of Baal and Tammuz (Ezek.8:14)! If you have not read it, write for my article, "Do You Observe a PAGAN Passover?"
CHOOSE Whom You Will Follow
God commands each one of us to CHOOSE! Choose which way you will go. Choose which Day you will observe. God says, "I call heaven and earth to record this day against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing: therefore CHOOSE LIFE, that both thou and thy seed may live" (Deut.30:19).
Joshua, challenged all Israel, "Now therefore fear the LORD, and serve him in sincerity and in TRUTH . . . And if it seem evil unto you to serve the LORD, choose you this day whom ye will serve; whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the flood, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land ye dwell: but as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD" (Joshua 24:14-15).
Elijah also challenged Israel, in his day, when the whole nation has plunged into the apostasy of Baal worship, and the pagan priests outnumbered the true servants of God at least 850 to one (see I Kings 18:19).
"Elijah went before the people and said, How long will you WAVER between two opinions? If the LORD is God, follow him; but if Baal is God, follow him" (I Kings 18:21).
Are you still wavering between two opinions? Are you still vacillating, shilly-shallying, and pussyfooting around with the truth of God? Have you been unknowingly following a custom of "Baal"?
James wrote, 'If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him. But when he asks, he must believe and not doubt, because he who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. That man should not think he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all he does" (James 1:5-8).
What about you? Are you double-minded and unstable? Or are you settled and sure, "a workman who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth" (II Tim.2:15)?
In this article I have presented 17 powerful PROOFS that should show you beyond the shadow of a doubt the correct day when Passover must be observed, to receive God's approval and blessing.
Now you know the truth. What are you going to do about it?