Sunday, April 6, 2014

The Fourth Cup of Passover

And as they were eating, Jesus took bread, blessed and broke it, and gave it to the disciples and said, “Take, eat; this is My body.” Then He took the cup, and gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying, “Drink from it, all of you. “For this is My blood of the new covenant, which is shed for many for the remission of sins. “But I say to you, I will not drink of this fruit of the vine from now on until that day when I drink it new with you in My Father’s kingdom.”       Matthew 26:26-29  NKJV

As we have been looking at the coming spring feasts, and the interest in the occurrence of a blood moon eclipse on Passover, I have taken the opportunity to share some of my thoughts on what it might all mean.  Today I would like to talk for a moment concerning something often overlooked about the Passover dinner Jesus shared with His disciples.  Specifically, something Jesus said, and did, which differed from the norm of the Passover Seder that most people would not be aware of if not Jewish or knowledgeable about the rules regarding it.

First of all, in Israel this event is called the Pesach Seder.  Pesach is the Hebrew word for Passover, and Seder is derived from the Hebrew word for order.  The dinner is an intricate part of the Passover celebration in which the memory of the deliverance of the children of Israel from their bondage in Egypt is recalled.

‘For I will pass through the land of Egypt on that night, and will strike 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. ‘Now the blood shall be a sign for you on the houses where you are. And when I see the blood, I will pass over you; and the plague shall not be on you to destroy you when I strike the land of Egypt. ‘So this day shall be to you a memorial; and you shall keep it as a feast to the LORD throughout your generations. You shall keep it as a feast by an everlasting ordinance.      Exodus 12:12-14  NKJV

In the traditional Seder, there are fifteen steps, or observances which each signify and relate to the deliverance on that first Passover in Egypt.  I am not going to examine all of these today but will encourage you to do that on your own to better understand why this is such an important event.  What I am going to discuss today is four of those fifteen steps which I will call the Four Cups of Wine.  This is because during the entire Seder, there are four instances where the participants drink a cup of wine in remembrance of the promises God made to them when they were still in bondage in Egypt.

“Therefore say to the children of Israel: ‘I am the LORD; I will bring you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians, I will rescue you from their bondage, and I will redeem you with an outstretched arm and with great judgments. ‘I will take you as My people, and I will be your God. Then you shall know that I am the LORD your God who brings you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians. ‘And I will bring you into the land which I swore to give to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob; and I will give it to you as a heritage: I am the LORD.’ ”             Exodus 6:6-8  NKJV

The four cups of wine are taken to recall the four promises made in this passage which are referred to as the “four I wills”.  The first cup is called the cup of Sanctification…”I will bring you out from under the the burdens of the Egyptians”.  The second is called the cup of Blessing…” I will rescue you from their bondage”.  The third is the cup of Redemtion…” I will redeem you with an outstretched arm and with great judgments.”, and the fourth cup is the cup of Acceptance…”‘I will take you as My people, and I will be your God.”

In the passage from Matthew 26, according to many scholars it is believed that when Jesus said “Drink from it, all of you. “For this is My blood of the new covenant, which is shed for many for the remission of sins” during the Seder with His disciples, He was referring to the 3rd cup of the Passover, the Cup of Redemption.  Jesus was saying that by His shed blood we can be redeemed from our bondage to sin just as the Israelites were redeemed from their bondage in Egypt.  He then went on to say, “But I say to you, I will not drink of this fruit of the vine from now on until that day when I drink it new with you in My Father’s kingdom.”     

Why?  In essence Jesus said He would not drink the Fourth Cup, the Cup of Acceptance, until He could do so with those who have chosen to believe in Him when we are together with Him in Heaven.  Since this will occur after the rapture of the Church, is Jesus somehow giving us a clue as to when the season of the rapture might happen?  Additionally, the fourteenth step in the order of the Seder is the recital of the Hallel, traditionally recited on festivals, followed by drinking the fourth cup of wine.  The Hallel is Psalms 113-118, with chapters 113-114 recited before the meal and chapters 115-118 recited now.  Take a closer look if you will at what we find in the last chapter;

Open to me the gates of righteousness; I will go through them, And I will praise the LORD. This is the gate of the LORD, Through which the righteous shall enter. I will praise You, For You have answered me, And have become my salvation. The stone which the builders rejected Has become the chief cornerstone. This was the LORD’s doing; It is marvelous in our eyes.               Psalms 118:19-23  NKJV

According to the Mishnah, a collection of Jewish oral laws and traditions, Jesus is waiting for the marriage feast before He drinks from this cup.  (Mishnah, Pesahim 7:13)  Since we know that the marriage feast takes place after the rapture, is it possible that Jesus’ statement to His disciples about waiting to drink the Fourth Cup of Passover is actually His way of telling us that we will drink this cup with Him on a future Feast of Passover?

With all of the attention being given to this upcoming Passover with its lunar eclipse, and also the fact that Jesus was rejected as the Messiah ending the sixty-ninth week of Daniel at this very time, is it possible there might be an even better reason to be excited about what could occur in the next couple of weeks?  As Passover approaches, and in consideration of what Jesus said, I think it might be an especially appropriate time for us to be watching.  Don’t you?

If you have never made the decision to accept the sacrifice Jesus made for you by dying on the cross for your sins, there is no better time than right now to do so.  Simply pray to the Father and ask Him to forgive you for your sins and tell Him you believe that Jesus died for you.  Accept the gift of salvation He has offered you and you too will drink of the cup of acceptance along with Jesus on that future day when He will invite all of His believers to join Him in drinking the Fourth Cup of Passover.

Keep watching.