Developing the Theme of Family through the Torah Portions. Additional thoughts for Passover.

Dr Clifford Denton.

Pesach: Beginning in Exodus, fulfilled in the Gospels.

20th April 2024/12 Nisan.

And He said, “My Presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.”. (Exodus 33:14)

Picture by Helen McNeill

We are coming to the end of Passover Week. Christians have celebrated the sacrificial death and resurrection of the Lord Jesus for many centuries on a different calendar than was instituted for the Feasts of the Lord at the time of Moses. Passover has also been renamed as Easter. The remembrance of the sacrifice of the Lord at Easter coincides with a pagan festival and is named after a pagan goddess.

More and more Christians are realising that now is the time to reconsider when and how we celebrate the Feasts of the Lord in harmony with our Scriptural heritage and with the Jewish world. These are still early days. A start was made for many of us by following a Jewish order of the Passover service (seder) as a means of teaching ourselves from the traditions of the Jews. This is a lengthy process and can seem more a window into the world of the Jews than a celebration from the heart of all that we have inherited in the New Covenant.

The next step, therefore, for us, is to consider how to actually celebrate the Feast. Passover Eve was last Monday, and the first day of Passover was on Tuesday. When one considers the details of the command given to Moses for the yearly Feast of Passover, one finds far less detail than in the traditional Jewish Seder, giving us the freedom to explore this for ourselves in a meaningful way. Having said that, we must remember nevertheless that there is depth and meaning to a traditional Jewish celebration. Every Jewish family gathers around the meal table together in remembrance of the past and anticipation of the future, so we can still learn much from Jewish customs, whilst having the freedom to explore for ourselves in our own family.

We suggested, in last week’s Torah Portion, that this might be something to consider for Passover this year. The day came and went and so we can begin to reflect on what we experienced and what we learned this year.

It is interesting to note a comment by the Chief Rabbi Sir Ephraim Mirvis KBE, as he made his own recommendations for Bible readings at the Seder this year (updated-seder-table-readings-5784-1.pdf ( By way of introduction, he wrote:

Readings for your Seder table 5784-2024

For most of us, our mixed emotions as we enter into Pesach will make this year unlike any other in living memory. There are a variety of creative ways in which families around the world will be using their Sedarim to express their solidarity with the people of Israel and, in particular, the hostages and their families. Here are a series of readings you may wish to choose from for your Seder table, offering an opportunity to highlight some important themes for Israel and the Jewish people in these challenging times.

The Chief Rabbi indicates that Jews should approach the Feast to retain life and meaning, relevant to the days in which we live. For the Jew, as well as the Christian, the celebration must be meaningful.

In our home, we made sure that we had read what God said to Moses. We did not have a whole lamb, but nevertheless had a supper of lamb, ensuring we included bitter herbs (parsley and horseradish). We saw this as symbolic and also bringing thoughts concerning all the Passover celebrations through history and around the world simultaneous with ours. We set the table with some symbols to remind us of Israel – for example, table mats with pictures of the Holy Land, a candle burned in a candlestick bought on a visit to Israel. We served unleavened bread and wine for both the meal and a special remembrance of the bread and wine that Yeshua taught should now represent His body and blood – our sacrificial Lamb. We began with Scriptures from Exodus and ended with readings from the Gospels. We listened to hymns relating to the Cross of Yeshua through our meal together and talked of what we were celebrating. We ended with prayer for our family and for the wider family of God. Passover Day was a rest day and we continued to consider prayerfully our own personal journey to the present time and our future journey in life and ministry together.

Jewish families traditionally end the Seder with the hope, Next year in Jerusalem.  In this world rapidly moving through days of prophetic fulfilment prior to the Lord’s return, what will our focus be for the coming year? How will we take further deepening steps in our walk with the Lord and our remembrance of all He has done? How will we look forward to Passover next year?

Our choice of verse for this week is Exodus 33:14, And He said, “My Presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.” This was a promise for Israel as they left Mount Sinai after the second Passover, a promise fulfilled through Yeshua. Helen McNeill was challenged by this Scripture. She wrote,

It was challenging thinking of a way to visually represent God’s presence, but scripture is wonderfully generous, and the presence of God is many times depicted as a fire or a cloud – so I took my cue from this! 

Rest also means so much in scripture and what God is conveying not just to human beings, but for the whole of creation, which is also waiting for its rest. God has provided an opportunity every 7 days to experience more fully living in His rest and reminding us that He is the one who makes a way and brings us to that place of rest with Him. His glory is what leads us to that place with the fulfilment of His Jubilee in Yeshua and final reconciliation and restoration. 

God’s presence has to go with us and it is Him alone that gives rest. These words were uttered to us by Yeshua as we are invited to take on the yoke of the Kingdom and enter into the place of pure rest in Yeshua’s presence – Yeshua knows the Father has given him the power to provide this gift for us. 

To illustrate this, I have used the image in scripture that in the words built up to the moment that God responded to Moses’ request to God for Him to show His glory to him. As God placed Moses in the cleft of the rock to meet this request, I have used the combination of the fire and thick, dark cloud to appear before Moses. 

I also thought about all the times that other images are used in scripture to relate to ‘rest’. These are often images of ‘each man sitting under his own fig tree’ and images of an abundance of fruit, corn, wine and oil. I have embedded these images into the rock on either side of Moses. 

This image of rest is one of safety, security, no war, no famine and creation and rest and multiplying abundantly – humans, animals and the land all living in the abiding presence of the God of creation and life. 

This is what Pesach brings to our memory – God is the one who takes us out of slavery and bondage to bring us to a place flowing with milk and honey – an abode where we can live in security and thrive in the sweetness of His glorious presence. Because He so loved the world – He sent Yeshua to fulfil and accomplish the task and Yeshua has given us tasks to fulfil to honour God in the work of redemption. 

Pesach is a link in this story we need to recall and understand how we as gentiles are closely linked with Israel and the Jewish people through Yeshua and the history of the Jewish people – God is speaking to us through them also.

These are our reflections to share, but what about yours? How is God leading you and your family? May your walk with God deepen in all things and in anticipation of Passover next year!