[Note: For the entire letter, please see the PDF version]
March 14, 2017
With the Passover and Feast of Unleavened Bread coming in April, this letter will be for both March and April. In this mailing we are including a printout comparing the critical Old Testament passages concerning Passover. We particularly examine the redemption/sanctification sacrifices required in Exodus 13 for all firstborn (human and animal), noting how they compare to the Temple high day sacrifices of Deuteronomy 16. When reading Deuteronomy 16, many assume that God changed the Passover from a domestic observance to a Temple-centered observance. But as you will see, that is not correct.
Numerous questions persist concerning Passover: Is it observed on the 14th or 15th day of Abib according to the Calculated Hebrew Calendar? Was the Passover lamb always to be slain at the Israelites’ homes, or was it later changed to be slain at the Temple? Why do the Jews keep Passover on the 15th with a Seder meal? And why do the churches of God keep the Passover with footwashing, unleavened bread, and wine, yet have no meal on the night of the 14th?
Orthodox Christianity ignores both the Sabbath and Passover. Instead, Catholics observe Sunday and celebrate the Eucharist (the sacrifice of the Mass) frequently throughout the year by partaking of round unbroken wafers of unleavened bread and wine administered by a priest. Protestants keep a “Lord’s Supper” on Sunday mornings (SDAs use the first Sabbath of each quarter). Mormons keep a similar ritual on Sundays with bread and water.
None of them keep Passover—they all celebrate Easter. How did such confusion begin?
In his landmark book From Sabbath to Sunday, the late Samuele Bacchiocchi writes in detail how the Sabbath-Sunday and Passover-Easter disputes developed beginning late in the first century. The Quartodeciman Controversy in particular dealt with the Passover-Easter issue. By the beginning of the second century, both Sunday and Easter were widely observed.
As Bacchiocchi demonstrates, the adoption of Easter in place of the Passover eventually led to the advancement of Sunday over the seventh-day Sabbath. He describes how Satan used counterfeit “Christian” ministers (II Cor. 11:13-15) over centuries to deceitfully bring various pagan practices into the churches—namely Easter and Sunday. Using incrementalism, Satan has slowly and subtly led men to exchange the truth of God for lies (Rom. 1:25). Eventually, all of God’s holy days were replaced with pagan holidays. The apostle Paul describes incrementalism this way: “A little leaven [slowly] leavens the whole lump” (I Cor. 5:6; Gal. 5:9).
Bacchiocchi’s book is well worth the read. Two other recommended books, The Two Babylons by Alexander Hislop and The Golden Bough by Sir George James Frazier, thoroughly document how apostate churches gradually developed into Orthodox “Christianity”—part of modern day “Babylon the Great” (Rev. 13, 17-18). These books will help you see how fully Satan—the “father of lies”—has deceived the whole world (Rev. 12:9).
Additionally, in The Holy Bible In Its Original Order, Appendix N, “Rome’s Challenge to the Protestants,” written by Catholic Cardinal Gibbon in 1893, clearly proves that the observance of Sunday is absolutely not found in the New Testament. Jesus and His apostles never changed the Sabbath from Saturday to Sunday! Rather, Sunday-keeping is of proto-Catholic origin, instituted in 325 AD by Emperor Constantine—in effect, the first Pontiff!
Finally, our book The Christian Passover—the most detailed book on the Passover ever published in English—deals directly with the profound meaning of Passover; when exactly it is to be observed; and how it is to be kept. This book is a must-read to fully understand the true “Christian Passover” and why Jesus was crucified on that day. If you do not have a copy, we will gladly send one to you at no cost.
Passover is vital because it is our renewal of the New Covenant for eternal life. As Jesus said, if we do not partake of the symbols of His flesh (the bread) and His blood (the wine), we do not have eternal life: “Truly, truly I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink His blood, you do not have life in yourselves. The one who eats My flesh and drinks My blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up in the last day; for My flesh is truly food, and My blood is truly drink. The one who eats My flesh and drinks My blood is dwelling in Me, and I in him. As the living Father has sent Me, and I live by the Father; so also the one who eats Me shall live by Me” (John 6:53-57).
Concerning the footwashing, Jesus said: “ ‘If I do not wash you, you have no part with Me.’… Therefore, when He had washed their feet, and had taken His garments, and had sat down again, He said to them, ‘Do you know what I have done to you? You call Me the Teacher and the Lord, and you speak rightly, because I am. Therefore, if I, the Lord and the Teacher, have washed your feet, you also are duty-bound to wash one another’s feet; for I have given you an example, to show that you also should do exactly as I have done to you. Truly, truly I tell you, a servant is not greater than his lord, nor a messenger greater than he who sent him. If you know these things, blessed are you if you do them’ ” (John 13:8, 12-17).
2017 Spring Festival Dates
Passover—Sunday night, April 9
Night to be Much Observed—Monday night, April 10 (begins First Day of Unleavened Bread)
First Day of Feast of Unleavened Bread—April 11—a holy day
Weekly Sabbath during Feast of Unleavened Bread—April 15
Seventh Day of Feast of Unleavened Bread—April 17—a holy day
Beginning the last week in March, we will be mailing everyone the audio sermons and studies for the Passover and Feast of Unleavened Bread. You will have everything you need to keep this year’s spring feasts.
Brethren, may God wonderfully bless you through this year’s Passover and Feast of Unleavened Bread. Thank you for your continued support with your tithes and offerings—which are used to feed the flock and proclaim the Gospel. Thank you for your love and prayers—for us and all the brethren. We continue to pray for you every day—that God would bless you, protect you, heal you, and help you to grow in the grace and knowledge of our Savior, Jesus the Christ.
With love in Christ Jesus,
Fred R. Coulter
Deuteronomy 16 has Nothing to do with
The Domestic 14th Passover as Described in Exodus 12
A side-by-side comparison of Exodus 12 and 13 with Deuteronomy 16 is most revealing. Exodus 12 tells of God’s sparing of the firstborn of the children of Israel from death, while still in their houses in Egypt. At sunrise, they left their houses, spoiled the Egyptians, and gathered at Rameses. They then began their departure from Egypt on the evening and night of the 15th—The Night to be Much Observed to the Lord (Ex. 12:37-42).
Thus, the firstborn of man and beast were spared from death on the Passover night—the 14th. Then, at the beginning of the night of the 15th, they were redeemed. This is why Exodus 13 talks about their leaving Egypt, the seven-day Feast of Unleavened Bread, and the redemption and sanctification of all that open the matrix as the firstborn—human and animal.
Exodus 13 adds more detail about the reason for The Night to be Much Observed and explains why the Israelites were to redeem their firstborn. All of this is essential to understand as we examine Deuteronomy 16.
In Deuteronomy 16, we find that the wording is almost identical to Exodus 13. However, Exodus 13 includes the redemption/sacrificial offering for Israel’s firstborn—both human and animal. Only the firstborn males were redeemed. But the people could not eat of the firstborn male animals because they were wholly dedicated to God; only the priests could eat of them. However, as Deuteronomy 14:23 shows, the people could eat of the female firstborn during the Feast of Tabernacles.
Once the Israelites arrived in the Promised Land, a great number of firstborn redemption sacrifices were offered beginning on the late daytime portion of the Passover day. This is why these sacrifices are called “Passover offerings” in Deuteronomy 16. These Temple offerings were to be taken from the “flock and the herd,” and they were to be “boiled.” They were completely different and separate from the domestic 14th Passover sacrifice of Exodus 12—which was limited to the flock (a lamb or a goat) and was killed at their houses. Indeed, there has never been a Passover calf used for the 14th Passover domestic sacrifice!
In Deuteronomy 16, the Israelites were commanded to offer sacrifices from the flock and the herd—and they were to boil these sacrifices, not roast them over fire. Exodus 12 strictly forbids boiling the domestic Passover sacrifice. Thus, the “Passover offerings” in Deuteronomy 16 have nothing to do with the 14th Passover taking place at the Israelites’ houses or tents.
When Exodus 12-13 is carefully compared to Deuteronomy 16, it becomes evident that these “Passover offerings” were in fact sanctification/redemption offerings for the Israelites’ firstborn children and firstborn animals. Such offerings could not be offered at their houses or “within any of your gates”—but only at the Tabernacle or Temple (Deut. 16:5).
In Deuteronomy 16, the children of Israel were to begin offering these sacrifices late in the daytime portion of the Passover day and on into the night—The Night to be Much Observed, the beginning the 15th of Abib, the first day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread. These “Passover offerings”—sanctification/redemption offerings for the firstborn—were done in preparation for The Night to be Much Observed. Afterwards, the Israelites stayed up all night and returned to their tents in the morning (verse 7).
Therefore, we can conclude that God did not change the observance of the Passover at the beginning of the 14th, when they killed the Passover lamb or kid at their homes—or, when they journeyed to Jerusalem, at the various houses, inns, and pilgrims’ tents.
God never changed the domestic 14th Passover, with the animal slain between the two evenings at the beginning of the day. He did not institute a Temple sacrifice of the Passover lamb late in the afternoon of the 14th, with the Passover meal to be observed on the 15th. Therefore, Deuteronomy 16 has nothing to do with the domestic 14th Passover as described in Exodus 12.
[For the rest of this letter, please see the PDF version]