The Significance of Passover for Messianic Believers: An Israel Interview

This is Ron Pearce, and I welcome you to our mission’s podcast focusing on the spiritual hotspots of the world. Just a few days ago, I was in Israel, and I had the privilege of interviewing Dani and LuAnne Sayak, who pastor in Haifa and are exceptional friends and partners of Empower. On this occasion, I asked them to explain the correlation in the thinking of Messianic believers living in Israel today between Easter and Passover. I knew the theological significance of both Bible events, but I was curious to learn the impact of new believers coming to realize that Passover was pointing in many ways to the coming of the Messiah and his death on the cross. So now, I would like to introduce you to Dani and LuAnne as they answer this question.

Ron: Hello everyone! It’s Ron Pearce, and I’m in Israel on March 11th, 2023, with our good friends at Mt. Carmel Assembly, Dani and LuAnne Sayak. Today, I want to ask them a question that I often get asked back at home and while traveling. How do Messianic believers here in Israel connect Passover, which we are just coming up on right now, with Easter? In the North American western church, we talk about Easter, the Easter bunny, Easter eggs, and Easter chocolate. But I didn’t read about bunnies, chocolate, or eggs in Passover. So, how do you put these two things together into one package? Dani, take us somewhere on this discussion, okay?

Dani: Hi everyone! Just to share from my personal journey into Passover and Easter. Before I came to faith in Yeshua, in Jesus, Passover was a big holiday for me. In Israel, they emphasize this holiday not just as a family gathering but also as a time for cleaning your house of unleavened bread and eating matza for seven days, and going to synagogue. It’s a time to remember the story of the exodus of the children of Israel from Egypt into the promised land. So, that’s how I grew up understanding Passover. When I heard about Easter, it seemed like some kind of Christian holiday with no relation to Passover.

But when I came to faith in Yeshua, when Yeshua saved me, I suddenly saw the full picture of the meaning of Passover. You see, when you read in Leviticus about the feasts of the Lord, with understanding from the Spirit of God, you can see that each feast points to the Messiah and will be fulfilled in the Messiah. So, when we read Passover, the Feast of Weeks, or the Feast of Pentecost, these holidays have been fulfilled in Messiah. As a new believer in Yeshua, I was introduced to Passover, and suddenly I saw its fulfillment in God’s words in the Old Testament as shown in the New Testament.

For example, I would have never understood the meaning of the blood on the doorposts. To me, it was just something that God did to save Israel from the angel of death in Egypt, and that was it. But through faith in Yeshua, I understood the meaning of the blood. Yeshua is our Passover lamb. He died for us on the cross, and through him, we are protected from judgment. That brought a completely new understanding. Even in the Christian world, when they celebrate Easter with bunnies and eggs, as a Jew, I couldn’t connect because there is no connection to the Old Testament Passover. But when you have that connection from both sides, you get the full picture. Suddenly, you understand the meaning of the cross and the resurrection. And not many people know that when you say Passover in the Old Testament, there are actually three holidays in that celebration.

But when I came to faith in Yeshua, when Yeshua saved me, I suddenly saw the full picture of the meaning of Passover

So, there is Passover, also known as Pesach, followed by the Feast of Unleavened Bread and the Waiving of the First Fruit, all within the season of Passover. Passover represents God’s act of skipping over the Israelites during the exodus, with the blood of Yeshua symbolizing the sacrifice. The Feast of Unleavened Bread involves cleansing one’s house of leavened bread, symbolizing the removal of sin in the Old Testament. In the New Testament, it signifies a time of reflection, repentance, and transformation. The Feast of the Waiving of the First Fruit is directly connected to Yeshua’s resurrection. Celebrated on the first Sunday, it aligns perfectly with Yeshua’s death and resurrection. As Messianic believers, understanding the full meaning of these holidays brings a sense of awe and revelation. It unveils the deeper purpose and fulfillment of the Old Testament prophecies and traditions. The connection between the biblical holidays and Yeshua’s life, death, and resurrection becomes clear, enriching one’s faith.

Ron: Oh, I can imagine! LuAnne, could you talk to me about how the secular population of the country reacts to Passover? In some countries, there are religious and secular divisions, so I’m curious about the dynamics here.

LuAnne: Passover is actually a universal tradition for both religious and secular Jews in this country. While religious Jews may spend hours reading the Haggadah, the secular Jews also see the importance of sitting together as a family and reading the Passover story. Some secular Jews may quickly read through the story to get to the food, which is a significant part of the holiday. Overall, Passover is highly regarded by both religious and secular Jews in Israel.

Ron: So would you say that Passover is the most important holiday on the calendar?

Dani: Yes, absolutely. In fact, a survey showed that over sixty percent of Jewish people in Israel observe Passover by cleaning their homes of leavened bread. This includes both the religious and secular population, showing how seriously they take this holiday.

Ron: It’s truly amazing how Passover has been preserved and passed down through thousands of years. It almost feels like God’s hand has been protecting and guiding it. Now, for young believers in Yeshua, do they usually have a good understanding of Passover from the Old Testament, or do you need to educate them about its significance?

Dani: Typically, we need to bring new believers up to speed and help them have a revelation of the significance of Passover. We do this by celebrating Passover together. Sitting around the table, we explain the meaning behind each part of the food and tell the story from Exodus to the resurrection. It’s a powerful and immersive way for them to understand the full package of Passover. If someone hasn’t celebrated the Passover meal before, we encourage them to do so to fully grasp its significance.

It almost feels like God’s hand has been protecting and guiding it.

Ron: Wow, I wish I could bottle you two and bring you to Canada and the United States and just take you around for those few days around Passover and have you walk us through the significance because I don’t think we, in the Gentile-ized western church, fully understand the depth of this. I have read about it, I’ve studied it, I’ve been at them, but to live it like you do every year in this climate. Wow, that is something. Ok, just in closing now, where do you think Israel is at today? We are going to shift gears here a bit and we are talking about people coming to understand Passover in a new light through the cross. Where is Israel right now because that is the other part of the question that everybody asks me. Are we growing here? Is the body growing in the country?

Dani: I will say definitely that the body is growing. This is something that you can see since 1948 until today. There is growth. It’s slow growth but it is always consistent. This is something amazing, there is no moment where it stopped. So, we see the growth of congregations and new believers in the land, and we believe, I mean we have that expectation in our hearts that we are about to experience something you know, call it revival, but we see what is happening now in the land. There is such a division right in the middle of Israel among the people, politically in what’s happening, and I feel that this is time where God even uses this situation to show the people in Israel that they cannot put their trust in people, in man. This is something that I think will cause people to start looking up to God and when there is that hunger in the hearts of people to seek God, God is going to reveal himself. And so, we are getting ready for this.

Ron: Yes. I’ve been reading several articles lately from various people over here and they are talking about increased interest among the people who have been disinterested for years. Do you sense that in the air right now?

LuAnne: That is true too and I would say we have even experienced that ourselves, that people that have not been interested suddenly are interested and want to hear.

Dani: Right before I came here, I was talking to an Israeli believer that for ten years didn’t have a relationship with his brother because his brother was against the faith. He didn’t even want to talk to him. And he just told me now that his brother called him after ten years and they had an amazing conversation, and his brother is going to come and celebrate Passover with him this year. So, we see that openness that is happening around the people in Israel.

Ron: Well, all of us around the world are praying that the Spirit of God does not pass over this country.

LuAnne: Amen!

Ron: And that the Lord comes, and we see what has been prophesied, a tremendous turning in this land. And Empower Ministries, we are right behind you all the way and we will be there with you until the glorious end comes and Jesus returns. So, God bless you folks. Thank you for sharing with us today about Passover and Easter, and we will be back again. Bye bye.

LuAnne, Dani: Thank you!

You have been listening to Dani and LuAnne Sayag of Haifa, Israel, who lead Mt. Carmel Assembly, talking about Passover, Easter, and the state of the body of Christ in Israel today. For more interviews like this, visit ron​pearce​.org.

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