Borrowing the term from the Hebrew practice of observing the Passover, I wrote a Haggadah for my family. It emphasizes the importance of the day. It also adds instruction to help understand the importance of the day.
What is a Haggadah?
The Haggadah is an invention of men desiring to fulfill the decree from God to keep the Passover feast. The meal is called a seder. The Haggadah instructs how to conduct the meal. This is a noble desire to get things right. It is a desire to transmit knowledge and instruction to the next generation. It is a desire to remember something very important.
But caution must be taken to avoid a problem. The invention of the Haggadah is not the problem. The replacement of God’s purpose for the Passover feast with a man-made script is the problem. The Passover is all about Christ, the Lamb of God, not about the ritual.
The elements given to Israel from God serve to instruct and to remind those who participate in the feast of the first Passover event in Egypt. Men have added to the instructions given by God to preserve details of the story and in many cases to include contemporary issues.
A Christian Haggadah
I wrote a Haggadah for our family to observe Passover from a Christian perspective. Now that Christ has been revealed as the Lamb of God sacrificed for our sins, the story of Passover can be completed. Colossians 1:26 explains,
“Even the mystery which hath been hid from ages and from generations, but now is made manifest to his saints.”
As a teacher, I am excited about learning and passing on instruction to others. I have no more authority than any other to write such instructions. But I have as much right as any other to write a lesson for others to learn from. It is my calling. I have been writing books, articles, and study guides since I have been saved. It is one way God has used me in His ministry.
The Original Passover
God’s instructions for the first Passover are found in Exodus 12.
“And the LORD spake unto Moses and Aaron in the land of Egypt, saying, This month shall be unto you the beginning of months: it shall be the first month of the year to you.”
“Speak ye unto all the congregation of Israel, saying, In the tenth day of this month they shall take to them every man a lamb, according to the house of their fathers, a lamb for an house: And if the household be too little for the lamb, let him and his neighbour next unto his house take it according to the number of the souls; every man according to his eating shall make your count for the lamb.”
“Your lamb shall be without blemish, a male of the first year: ye shall take it out from the sheep, or from the goats: And ye shall keep it up until the fourteenth day of the same month: and the whole assembly of the congregation of Israel shall kill it in the evening. And they shall take of the blood, and strike it on the two side posts and on the upper door post of the houses, wherein they shall eat it. And they shall eat the flesh in that night, roast with fire, and unleavened bread; and with bitter herbs they shall eat it. Eat not of it raw, nor sodden at all with water, but roast with fire; his head with his legs, and with the purtenance thereof. And ye shall let nothing of it remain until the morning; and that which remaineth of it until the morning ye shall burn with fire. And thus shall ye eat it; with your loins girded, your shoes on your feet, and your staff in your hand; and ye shall eat it in haste: it is the LORD’S passover.”
“For I will pass through the land of Egypt this night, and will smite all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, both man and beast; and against all the gods of Egypt I will execute judgment: I am the LORD. And the blood shall be to you for a token upon the houses where ye are: and when I see the blood, I will pass over you, and the plague shall not be upon you to destroy you, when I smite 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.”
“Seven days shall ye eat unleavened bread; even the first day ye shall put away leaven out of your houses: for whosoever eateth leavened bread from the first day until the seventh day, that soul shall be cut off from Israel. And in the first day there shall be an holy convocation, and in the seventh day there shall be an holy convocation to you; no manner of work shall be done in them, save that which every man must eat, that only may be done of you. And ye shall observe the feast of unleavened bread; for in this selfsame day have I brought your armies out of the land of Egypt: therefore shall ye observe this day in your generations by an ordinance for ever. In the first month, on the fourteenth day of the month at even, ye shall eat unleavened bread, until the one and twentieth day of the month at even. Seven days shall there be no leaven found in your houses: for whosoever eateth that which is leavened, even that soul shall be cut off from the congregation of Israel, whether he be a stranger, or born in the land. Ye shall eat nothing leavened; in all your habitations shall ye eat unleavened bread.”
Following is a summary of God’s instructions for the first Passover, which occurred in Egypt.
- Observe the Passover during the first month of the year in God’s calendar.
- Take an unblemished, male lamb that is less than a year old into your house on the tenth day of the month.
It may be a lamb from your flock of sheep or a kid from your goats.
- Kill it in the evening of the fourteenth day. (Beginning of the new day is at 6:00 p.m.)
- Strike the blood from the sacrificed lamb on the two side posts and on the upper door post of the house.
- Roast the sacrificed lamb with fire.
- Eat the flesh that night.
- Eat with unleavened bread.
- Eat with bitter herbs.
- Eat with your loins girded, your shoes on your feet, and your staff in your hand.
- Eat it in haste.
- Leave no leftovers. Burn whatever is not consumed with fire.
- It is the LORD’S passover
We also know from Exodus 12:48,
“And when a stranger shall sojourn with thee, and will keep the passover to the LORD, let all his males be circumcised, and then let him come near and keep it; and he shall be as one that is born in the land: for no uncircumcised person shall eat thereof.”
The Second Passover
The second Passover is described in Numbers 9:1-3.
“And the LORD spake unto Moses in the wilderness of Sinai, in the first month of the second year after they were come out of the land of Egypt, saying, Let the children of Israel also keep the passover at his appointed season. In the fourteenth day of this month, at even, ye shall keep it in his appointed season: according to all the rites of it, and according to all the ceremonies thereof, shall ye keep it.”
Numbers 9:12-14 affirms the elements of the Passover and includes instruction for those who are ceremonially unclean and for those who were sojourners in the Israelite camp.
“They shall leave none of it unto the morning, nor break any bone of it: according to all the ordinances of the passover they shall keep it.”
“But the man that is clean, and is not in a journey, and forbeareth to keep the passover, even the same soul shall be cut off from among his people: because he brought not the offering of the LORD in his appointed season, that man shall bear his sin.”
“And if a stranger shall sojourn among you, and will keep the passover unto the LORD; according to the ordinance of the passover, and according to the manner thereof, so shall he do: ye shall have one ordinance, both for the stranger, and for him that was born in the land.”
Deuteronomy 16:5-7 explains the nationalization of the Passover feast. Passover was the first of three, annual feasts all males were required to observe in Jerusalem.
“Thou mayest not sacrifice the passover within any of thy gates, which the LORD thy God giveth thee: But at the place which the LORD thy God shall choose to place his name in, there thou shalt sacrifice the passover at even, at the going down of the sun, at the season that thou camest forth out of Egypt. And thou shalt roast and eat it in the place which the LORD thy God shall choose: and thou shalt turn in the morning, and go unto thy tents.”
Passover After Destruction Of The Temple
After the temple was destroyed in AD 70, the Passover feast was moved back into the homes. The earliest known description of how the seder was conducted is found in the 3rd century Mishnah, a Jewish document containing the oral traditions of the Torah. The earliest known Haggadah, known as The Birds’ Head, dates back to AD 13. Other Haggadahs include The Schechter Haggadah and The Bronfman Haggadah. There are Haggadahs for children and for short or long meals.
The Last Supper
Jesus observed the Passover as described in the Bible. No order or Haggadah for the meal has been described. Following are verses that refer to the Last Supper Jesus had with His disciples before being crucified.
“Ye know that after two days is the feast of the passover, and the Son of man is betrayed to be crucified.” (Matthew 26:2)
“And the first day of unleavened bread, when they killed the passover, his disciples said unto him, Where wilt thou that we go and prepare that thou mayest eat the passover?” (Mark 14:12)
“Then led they Jesus from Caiaphas unto the hall of judgment: and it was early; and they themselves went not into the judgment hall, lest they should be defiled; but that they might eat the passover.” (John 18:28)
“But ye have a custom, that I should release unto you one at the passover: will ye therefore that I release unto you the King of the Jews?” (John 18:39)
“Purge out therefore the old leaven, that ye may be a new lump, as ye are unleavened. For even Christ our passover is sacrificed for us.” (1 Corinthians 5:7)
“Through faith he kept the passover, and the sprinkling of blood, lest he that destroyed the firstborn should touch them.” (Hebrews 11:28)
The Passover began in the homes of the Israelite slaves in Egypt. It became ceremonialized as a feast in Jerusalem in the Old Covenant.
Seders And Haggadahs
The seder is the home version of the Passover. From the Bible, there are three elements described in the first Passover: the roasted unblemished lamb, unleavened bread, and the bitter herbs. There are to be no leftovers. Any part of the lamb not eaten is to be burned with fire in the morning.
Haggadahs have been written to tell the story of the first Passover. Elements have been added to bring attention to other details in the story.
Haggadahs are not the Bible. They are inventions of men to help remember the command of God, which was given to remind them that salvation comes from God by mercy, grace, and promise.
People often get caught up in the elements and procedure. Thousands of Haggadahs have been written to improve previous versions. It is difficult to separate pride from anything humans do because pride is a part of our nature. So it is good to remind ourselves that holiness is not in observing Passover. Holiness is what results in the hearts of the participants because of what the Lamb of God has done for us. It is not what you do, but what you are. And when you are holy, you know the One who made you holy. You know that He is the reason for everything we do. This is the simple message we should remember.
God did not give many details. He did not give a Haggadah. God gave Israel an event to help them remember how He saved them. The Jews formalized it into a procedure. All of God’s memorials are about remembering what He did. The inventions of men are about what they do. This has led to legalism among the Jewish leaders and among legalists today, whether they are called Christian or some other religious name.
The Briney Christian Haggadah
- Set the table for seder. Unleavened bread and bitter herbs (mustard and romaine leaves) in the middle of the plate. Parsley, egg, salt water, and apple around the perimeter of the plate.
- Drink of juice to remember God’s promise to bring us into the heavenly promised land, which is sweet and satisfying.
- During this meal, we remember the Lamb of God slain from the foundation of the world.
- Why was He slain? Because the wages of sin is eternal death. Eph 6:23
- But He is God. He had no sin. Why then did He die? He did not die for His own sins. He died for our sins because we are unable to pay an eternal debt. Only God can pay such a penalty.
- Why is the debt so great? The debt of sin is eternal death because God is eternal. When we sin, we disobey God’s eternal law which requires an eternal punishment. God’s law requires perfect justice summed as an eye for eye and tooth for tooth. Violating an eternal law requires an eternal punishment.
- How can Jesus, the Lamb of God, be slain before the foundation of the world if Jesus was crucified only 2,000 years ago? He is eternal God. He is known as I AM. What He does in our future, He has already done in our past. The death of Jesus occurred 2,000 years ago, but it was as good as done in eternity past by decree of God.
- How is it that Jesus was a man if He is God? He is God manifested in the flesh. 1 Tim 3:16 reminds us, “And without controversy great is the mystery of godliness: God was manifest in the flesh, justified in the Spirit, seen of angels, preached unto the Gentiles, believed on in the world, received up into glory.” John 1:1 and 14 says of Jesus, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” “And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.”
- What is special about this meal? It is the passover meal. It reminds us of the meal God told Israel to observe the night He delivered them from slavery in Egypt. The first born in every house was killed except for the houses of Israelites who had marked their doorposts with the blood of a sacrificed lamb. Those houses indicating that a lamb had been sacrificed were passed over and spared of God’s judgment.
- Why is a lamb sacrificed? The sacrifice of a lamb reminds us that God sacrificed His Son Jesus as a young man to pay for our sins. His death paid for our sins. When we believe in Him, the judgment of God passes over us. His eternal death makes eternal life possible for us.
- Why are there bitter herbs in this meal? [Dip romaine into mustard] These bitter herbs remind us that slavery to personal sin and evil around us is bitter. It robs us of joy now and condemns us forever in the fires of hell where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.
- Why is there only unleavened bread for our meal this day? Leaven represents sin. God told Israel to eat the passover meal of an unblemished, roasted lamb with only unleavened bread. The unleavened bread reminds us that Jesus, as the Lamb of God, was sinless. He alone was qualified to be our Savior. He alone is qualified and able to save us from the bitterness of sin’s consequences.
- God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit determined together in eternity past that the Son would become a man and die for our sins [Stack 3 pieces of bread. Remove the middle piece and rip it in half. Place one half back in the stack, and “hide” the other half in a napkin.] Jesus, the Son of God, was God manifested in the flesh. He was buried for 3 days and 3 nights in the grave to make clear to men that He had truly died.
- Where is the passover lamb for our meal? The lamb is no longer with us because He is in heaven. He only had to die once to pay for all our sins because as God He could pay for all sins to an infinite degree.
- What is the reason for the green leaves? [Dip parsley into salt water twice] These green leaves remind us that there is new life in Jesus Christ, and there is a new beginning when we believe in Him. Israel began new when God delivered them through the Red Sea and drowned their enemies.
- Why is there a roasted egg? The egg reminds us that we are born again to be delivered out of condemnation. This is not something we do for ourselves. It is the work of God. His eternal suffering makes possible our eternal life.
- What is the reason for the apple dessert? This reminds us that God always fulfills His promise. We can be confident He will not fail to deliver us from sin.
- Why did God say to burn the leftover lamb with fire? The Lamb of God saves all those who partake of Him because He suffered the eternal death of hell’s fires for them. Our salvation required that He give His all.
- Clear the table of symbols, and set for the main meal.
- Main Meal. Chicken and dumpling soup.
- After dinner, the hidden bread is “discovered” and served with grape juice.
- Why was the bread hidden? The bread was hidden to remind us that Jesus was buried after dying on the cross. But three days later, He was raised, and He lives in heaven today. His victory over death is our victory over death, if we believe in Him to save us. We will not be condemned if we let Him pay for our sins. He leaves the choice up to us.
- Sing “Thank you Lord for saving my soul.”
Writing and using a Haggadah to memorialize Christ as the Passover Lamb was enjoyable and gave our family a tradition to teach our children about the significance of the day. I wonder if your family would enjoy it as much as ours did. Please let me know about your experience if you try it.