By Cordell and Janice Vail

11 April 2004

Copyright 2004 by Cordell Vail, all rights reserved

A weekly email gospel message for the descendents of Ammon and Winona Vail

Easter and the Passover

Years ago we had a marvelous opportunity to hear a talk on the Jewish Passover by a Jewish Rabbi who had been converted to Christianity and become a Christian minister. It was the most amazing thing that I have ever herd about Christ, Easter and the symbolism of the Passover and how it relates to our Christian Easter traditions. I was so fascinated by it that I wrote a research paper on it that is now over 500 pages long. I then started giving firesides on it at Easter time. I of course can not put all 500 pages here. But I would like to just share with you some of the highlights of the Passover and symbolism of Easter that you might have that insight at Easter time. It is going to be really hard to keep this short enough that you will read it. There is sooooooo much significant material to try to put in just one or two pages.

Nephi said something very significant in the beginning of the Book of Mormon. He said that "therefore I was taught somewhat in all the learning of my father". (1 Nephi 1: 1) That learning of my father statement refers to the ways of the Jewish people. We don' have time here to discuss much of that except to say that most of the Jewish mannerisms and customs are symbolic of other things. This is in fact the very key to understanding Isaiah when you read it. We can discuss that in another Sunday Sermon. But in this discussion it is very important to understand that concept and realize that the Savior used a great deal of symbolism with the Children of Israel to help them look forward to His coming. It is in almost everything that the Children Of Israel did.

The original Passover was of course in Egypt the night that the plague came and killed the oldest son of each household in Egypt. But Moses told the Israelite slaves that if they put Lambs blood over their door then the plague would pass over them and their sons would not die.

Now lets just stop right there and look at that. There are obviously some very key words in that story related to Christ. Almost everything the children of Israel did pointed them to Christ or was symbolic of Christ and his life. So look at that story and the key phrases: Oldest Son, Oldest sons died, having faith to put blood on door to be saved from plague, if you put LAMBS BLOOD over your door you were saved. Well lets not belabor the point but that is the kind of symbolism we will be looking at here in the Passover and Easter.

So since the time of Moses the Children of Israel celebrated the Passover every year to give thanks to the Lord for sparing the lives of their children. This ceremony is 3500 years old. To the Jewish people it is known as a day of "HOME COMING FOR THE FAMILY". That is such significant symbolism to me in relation to our coming back to God in the Celestial Kingdom. Coming back home. Normally Passover is the week before Easter every year. This year it was on the 5th of April. Of course the Jewish people do not celebrate Easter. Or do they? Lets take a look at the Passover ceremony and see.

I have to leave much of the Passover preparation ceremony information out here so you may need to do some outside reading to understand some of those things. The Passover begins by the father and mother of the house doing a day of preparation. They spend a whole day cleaning every part of the house even the cracks in the counter top with a tooth brush, to make sure the house is perfectly clean so there is no "OLD LEAVEN" anywhere in the house. They even have 4 sets of dishes that are a special set of dishes that they use that is not used any other time so they are perfectly pure and clean (my what symbolism) (Again I don't have room here so I am going to have to ask you to do some outside reading. Go read 1 Cor 5: 6 to 8 and you will see reference to this ceremony)

Then on the day of the Passover with the table all set and everything ready the ceremony begins at sundown. (remember that to them a day is sun down to sun down). Everyone is at the table except the mother. The candles are on the table in the menorah BUT THEY ARE NOT LIT. Now hear this. The mother is called "THE FIRST LADY". She is not in the room. They are all waiting for her. Then the MOTHER BRINGS THE LIGHT INTO THE ROOM. She comes into the room and lights the candles to start the ceremony. That is so touching to me to realize that the Lord tried to teach them about Mary and how she would bring the "LIGHT INTO THE WORLD" with the birth of the Savior. We don't have time to talk about the Jewish customs and women here. You could learn so much about our temple ceremony if you would study that. For example the washing and anoint ceremony and compare how the Jewish people belive that "A WOMAN WILL BE SAVED IN A DIFFERENT WAY". Or why women sit on one side and them men in a different part in the Jewish Synagogue. But we don't have room to even talk about that here. Let it be enough to just say that the start of the Jewish Passover is the mother coming into the room to light the candles to "KINDLE THE FESTIVAL LIGHTS"

Then they take the 1st cup of wine called the cup of sanctification. The father now does the serving checking to make sure everything is being done according to the HOGGTA (you can look that up). I will leave the actual words of the ceremony out here but many of the words if you read them would greatly help you understand our temple ceremony. After they drink from the 1st cup they all say LAKIAM (you can look that up) but it means "to life". (This symbolism is so astounding to me. It is the greatest witness of the coming of Christ that could have been given to them). To life .... that is what Christ is. Eternal life.

Now for the ceremony of the bread. They have a little holder that has three compartments in it. They have 3 loaves of bread and the put a piece of bread in each compartment. Tradition says that the compartments originally stood for the Father, The Son and the Holy Spirit. But today they say it represents The Priests, the Levites and the Men of Israel. But now get this...... They then take the middle piece of bread out, WRAP IT IN A WHITE LINEN CLOTH AND PUT IT UNDER THE FATHERS CHAIR. Can you believe that symbolism. They wrap the middle piece and put in down under the chair. What clearer symbolism could you have of Christ being put in the tomb than that.

The next part of the ceremony is the 4 questions. If you watch the 10 commandments you will see this part portrayed exactly as the little boy asks the 4 questions and the dad answers them. I will leave it to you to go watch the movie and not try to detail it all here but the questions and the answers are again very significant. On all other nights they eat herbs and all kinds of food. On this night they only eat bitter herbs. Obviously the bitter herbs representing the pain of slavery in Egypt but of course the real symbolism is letting my people go.... Christ freeing us from the bitterness of our sins. In the original Hebrew language the name Mary is "tears or bitterness" see Hosea 11:1, Matt 2:15, Exodus 12:9)

They then have a part here about making brick mortar that I will just let you read in Exodus 1

The Passover includes having a "BONE ON THE PLATE". This bone is from the "PASCHAL LAMB". It must be obtained by shedding the blood of the lamb. It can not be just a lamb that died. There is of course numerous scriptures referring to this 1 John 1:29, 1 Cor 10:11... well we all know well the symbolism of Christ being the Lamb of God and this bone is of course an easy symbol to tie into the symbolism of the coming Messiah that they were looking to come. I don't have room here to put much more about why they have the bone on the plate at the Passover dinner than that symbolism of it being a symbol to them of the sacrificial lamb in their temples of old.

They then put 10 drops of wine on the plate representing the 10 plagues of Egypt. It is not hard to see the symbolism of the drops of wine for the 10 plagues and the drops of Christ's blood for our sins.

Then they drink from the 2nd cup of wine and say these words: "Blessed art thou oh Lord our God, King of the universe, creator of the fruit of the fine." Then they drink it and all say "LAKIAM"

They then take a piece of parsley and dip it in salt water and eat it. They eat it all with no left overs. We will just leave that symbolism of Christ and the bitter cup for this different Sunday Sermon.

They also have a boiled egg on the plate. That is not in the Scriptures. It came from the Babylonian customs and was just merged in to the Jewish Passover over the years. It is a symbol of fertility, or new life. That is where we get the eggs and rabbits and wearing the new dress on Easter. ISHTAR (egg hunt us symbolism of attempt to become pregnant in the original Babylonian ceremony. ) In the current Passover ceremony the egg represents new life. Who could not see the symbolism of even the pagan rights merged into the ceremony pointing to the coming Messiah and his bring of new life.

They then review the story of the flight from Egypt to freedom ending with the story of Jericho (which if you look at the whole story of the Children of Israel that would then be representative of the 2nd coming... this is Isaiah stuff now and I cant put it here).

Now for the most touching part of all. They TAKE THE MIDDLE PIECE OF BREAD OUT FROM UNDER THE CHAIR. This is not just any bread. This is the middle piece of bread that was broken, wrapped in a white linen and put under the chair. Then now take it out and ON THE DRINKING OF THE 3RD CUP OF WINE they eat the bread. Does this sound anything like sacrament? (see Matt 26:26) They say in the Passover ceremony, "WHO BRINGS FORTYH BREAD FROM THE EARTH".

Again I dont have time to put much about the Jewish marriage ceremony here but it is directly tied to this cup of wine. This 3rd cup of wine is a part of the marriage. If you remember in the movie Fiddler on the Roof he said "Do you love me. The first time I saw you was on our wedding day". That is very significant. Being presented on the 3rd cup of wine or wedding day. Coming forth into the light of your life. This is also where the dowry came from. In the old ceremonies the girl gave cup of wine as an acceptance of her husband to be's contract and they then became betrothed. There is so much symbolism here. Bought with a price, the Garden of Gethsemane (1 Cor 6:20). After they became betrothed then he went away and made a place for them to live. And she does not know the day they will get married. But then LIKE A THIEF IN THE NIGHT, the bridegroom and all his fiends come down the street blowing horns to come and get her and take her to the wedding. They come when she is not expecting it so she has to keep her lamp trimmed ready for the coming of the bride groom... Well there is just too much more symbolism in the Jewish traditions to put here. Almost every part of the Jewish traditions can be related to symbolism of the coming of the Messiah.

There are two parts of Passover that are so significant to me. The mother lightning the candles and the putting the middle piece of bread in a white linen under the chair and then bringing it out on the 3rd cup of wine and eating it.

When I was a student at BYU our student ward always got up on Easter Sunday just as it was getting light and went some where where we could see the sun come up. Some times we even hiked up on top of one of the Ski Resort mountains and then waited for the sun to come up. Then there in that environment as we watched the sun come up, we had a testimony meeting. Oh how I loved to watch the sun come come up on Easter morning. I so often hear those that I have converted to the church say that they miss Easter in their old church. They say in the LDS church it is just another Sunday with talks about Easter. I hope that you will make a special effort to make Easter the most significant day of the year in your homes so that your children will know what Easter Sunday is and feel a feeling for Easter in their hearts that will far overshadow the feelings they have for Christmas. We can do that in our homes if we will.

Easter. The most significant time of year for me. I love Easter much more than Christmas. Easter. It is the symbolism of all that we stand for. It is the resurrection. It is the atonement. It is our window into the new life of Eternal Exaltation. All we have to do is live the commandments with exactness and the gift is ours for no price. Christ already paid the price. He already gave us the opportunity. We just need to repent and take what he has offered to us by giving Him a righteous life.

May the Lord bless you and all of your family to have the Spirit of Easter in your hearts today and every day of the year.

Happy Easter to all of you.

NOTE: Nothing in any of these Sunday Sermons is intended to represent the official doctrines of the Church Of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. They are strictly instructions and teachings from Cordell and Janice Vail to their family.

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