Passover is not about atonement.
I bet you are asking, “Really, Ro? Have you lost your mind?” Read on.
My friend, Pete Rambo, was interviewed for an article in Breaking Israel News. The author reported on Christians celebrating Passover. Having just hosted a Seder for 54 guests, I was very interested in what this author had to say.
You see, I usually do a short teaching while we linger over dessert. Every year, there is a little tweak here and there, but the teaching has been the same overall. This year, however, as I was teaching, I clearly heard the Lord speaking. Several times He told me to omit something, other times add something. For a teaching that has been the same for 8 years, it was as though I heard it for the first time. I wondered why.
After recovering from all the preparation, set up, break down, and clean up, I finally had the opportunity to reflect on the holiday and events during the Seder. A couple of years ago I began taking notes then putting them in my copy of the Haggadah for review the following year. They come in handy and help improve the experience each year.
This year, while in debriefing mode, I ‘happened upon’ Pete sharing the BIN article. While reading, clarity struck and I understood why I struggled with the teaching that I knew by heart. The article helped me articulate what my spirit understood: Passover is not about atonement, it is about freedom.
“Passover is the story of how the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob intervened in human history to liberate a powerless people. God’s miraculous freeing of the Hebrew slaves was never meant for Israel alone. Every human being is created in the Divine image, and therefore every individual has the inalienable right to be free.” – David Nekrutman
That is what we are missing – Passover is about freedom! Freedom from sin, from the power of sin. Rav Shaul (the apostle Paul) said ‘if anyone is in Messiah, we are a new creation’ and we are no longer under the power of sin.
When we only look at Yeshua’s sacrifice as atoning for our sin, we miss the greater blessing – that we are no longer slaves to sin, that we should walk in newness of life. The old man is dead because we have been freed from his power to give into sin!
Judaism teaches the dual nature of man. We have the ‘yetzer tov’, which is the moral conscience. We also have the ‘yetzer ra’, which is more of a selfish part of us, sometimes referred to as the ‘evil inclination’. (To understand this better, please read this article.)
The yetzer ra chose to disobey God in the garden. The yetzer ra causes us to take care of ourselves before others. It is the yetzer ra, our own selfish desires and demands, which keeps us enslaved to sin and subject to death and punishment.
It is the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob who set us free!
We have been redeemed from sin and death, from our own evil inclination. We have been given the very Spirit of God (as promised in Ezekiel, Joel, Proverbs, and Acts!) Yeshua promised that the Comforter would come and teach us all things.
What we miss when we only focus on the atonement of Yeshua’s death is that we are free. We are free from the power of sin. We are free to live a life of righteousness. We are free to enjoy a relationship with the Creator of All Things.
We have been redeemed. We are no longer slaves to sin. We sing about it, we talk about it, but are we living it?