It is understandable that in defense of a position on the Passover or any other dogma one
will go to unbelievable lengths to acquire an advantage, especially where believers within
one’s own faith are contesting that belief. However, if we are, or presume ourselves to
be, followers of God, we should be honest with His Word. In other words, we cannot use
one line of reasoning for our argument with one doctrine and totally ignore the same line
of argument with another doctrine that has the same faults.
In the way of illustration: The larger Church of God organizations have little
disagreement about the way they keep the Feast of Tabernacles. There seems to be no
disagreement about which days they keep this festival season. They all tend to adhere to
the Jewish calendar. In most of the larger branches of God's Church, they convene in
motels, hotels, and condominiums and appear in services once a day on certain days and
twice on other days to listen to a sermon and sing songs of praise. They rejoice before
God with food, wine, and fellowship among the members. Perhaps this is acceptable to
God, for now.
Leviticus 23.33-34, "Then the Lord spoke to Moses, saying, 'Speak to the children of Israel, saying:
The fifteenth day of this seventh month shall be the Feast of Tabernacles for seven days to the Lord'.
This is a "Thus Saith the Lord" statement. God is speaking here, telling Moses what to
say to the people.
Leviticus 23:40, "And you shall take for yourselves on the first day the fruit of beautiful trees,
branches of palm trees, the boughs of leafy trees, and willows of the brook; and you shall rejoice
before the Lord your God for seven days." Verses 42-43, "You shall dwell in booths for seven days.
All who are native Israelites shall dwell in booths, that your generations may know that I made the
children of Israel dwell in booths when I brought them out of the land of Egypt: I am the Lord your
As far as we know, God never changed the instructions for the Feast of Tabernacles.
One could argue that we are not native Israelites, but would we use the same argument
for Passover. The Bible says that for the native born and the circumcised foreigner there
was to be no difference. These instructions were never changed as far as we know –
neither for spiritual or physical Israel. Where does the bible record any changes? There
was no controversy in the New Testament over this as over circumcision. We do not do
these things today. The point is that we have taken things away from the written word in
our observance of Tabernacles. Which is worse, to take away or to add to God's
Festivals? In addition, the bible records the changes for the Passover, something we do
not have for the Tabernacles deductions.
We can safely say there were several things not required in the second Passover – held in
the wilderness – which were required in the first Passover. First and most obvious the
Israelites were not in Egypt, but in the wilderness. In the first Passover they were living
in houses, in the wilderness they were living in tents. In the first Passover there was no
tabernacle, in the wilderness there was a tabernacle. In the first Passover, they were to
take the blood of the lamb and strike it on the lintel and the two doorposts. In the
wilderness, there was no lintel or doorposts, because there was no door! Nor would they
have been required to place the blood on their tents, because while in Egypt there was a
destroyer, who would snuff out their lives if they did not do so, in the wilderness there was
no fear of such destroyer. In the wilderness there would have been no need to have their
loins girded, with shoes on their feet, and a staff in their hand for they were not having to
leave Egypt or the wilderness in haste. There would have been no need for them to stay
in their tents all night as they did in their houses in Egypt. They would have roasted the
lambs outside and eaten them outside and burned the remains outside until the wee hours
of morning. One does not cook and eat in a tent when camping!
They probably did not stay in their tents at all that night. We will see some evidence of
this later on! Why put the blood on the tent poles, if one is not even going to be in the
tent? We can see the circumstances were changed. Moreover, while the meaning of the
Passover did not change and never will, as far as its representation of Christ is
concerned; changes in the way the Israelites observed Passover began with its second
celebration. As the Bible does not record for us the details of this second Passover in
Numbers 9:1-14, one cannot, as some do, make dogmatic statements that the lambs were
not slain at the tabernacle. From this passage, we cannot know that detail, because the
Bible does not tell us. If we are honest with the Word of God, we will agree that we
cannot prove that the lambs were or were not slain at the tabernacle with only the
information of Numbers 9:1-14.
True, they were to keep it according to all its ordinances and its manner, but we also keep
the Feast of Tabernacles according to all its ordinances and manner even to this day, and
there are changes as noted earlier. In Young's Literal Translation, Numbers 9:3, "...
according to all its statutes, and according to all its ordinances ye prepare it" – and verse 5,
“according to all that the LORD commanded Moses, so did the children of Israel.” An important
point to note in this verse is the verbal commands from God to Moses concerning the
Passover in the wilderness! Could this be the reason that Moses gave additional written
instructions about the Passover in Deuteronomy 16.1-8? We will see some surprising
evidence later that strongly indicates this to be the case!
Numbers 9:3 In the fourteenth day of this month between the evenings ye prepare it in its appointed
season; according to all its statutes, and according to all its ordinances ye prepare it.
Numbers 9:5 And they kept the Passover on the fourteenth day of the first month at even in the
wilderness of Sinai: according to all that the LORD commanded Moses, so did the children of Israel.
As for change in the Passover, how did wine get into the ceremony? There is no
indication of the use of wine in the original Passover! There is no mention of wine, as part
of the Passover ceremony, anywhere in the Old Testament. However, by New Testament
times, wine was a part of the Passover. The Jews use wine in their Passover Feast today,
and we use wine in our Passover Feast today. Somewhere along the way, someone
effected a change in this regard. Who originally authorized this change? Some claim that
the word bitter <04844> in Exodus 12:8 is wine. There is not a particle of evidence to
suggest this fancy. The word means bitter thing, bitter herb or bitterness. Furthermore,
wine is not bitter.
We might ask the question, "Why did God have Israel keep the Passover only one time in
the wilderness (Exodus 12.25; 13.5) and that right after the tabernacle was finished and
ready for use?" Was it because of the importance that they go through the ceremony one
time with the necessary changes that a tabernacle would require, and under the watchful
eye of Moses, God’s servant? The Israelites placed the blood on the doorposts and the
lintels in Egypt so the plague would not destroy them. However, where did they place the
blood, in this second Passover? One should deeply ponder this question. The Israelites
placed the blood before God in Egypt so He would cause the destroyer to pass over
them. Where was the presence of God in the wilderness? Was it not in the tabernacle?
Moreover, if they did indeed keep an open air Passover, what would have been the
significance of the blood on the tent poles?
In the following Scriptures, the Jews were keeping the Passover; and the Levites
slaughtered the Passover lambs for all the descendants of the captivity.
Ezra 6:19 And the children of the captivity kept the Passover upon the fourteenth day of the first
20 For the priests and the Levites were purified together, all of them were pure, and killed the
Passover for all the children of the captivity, and for their brethren the priests, and for themselves.
21 And the children of Israel, which were come again out of captivity, and all such as had separated
themselves unto them from the filthiness of the heathen of the land, to seek the LORD God of Israel,
22, "And they kept the Feast of Unleavened Bread seven days with joy; for the Lord made them joyful,
and turned the heart of the king of Assyria toward them, to strengthen their hands in the work of the
house of God, the God of Israel."
God worked with His people and blessed them in their practice of slaying the Passover
lambs at the temple.
Notice II Chronicles 30.12, "Also the hand of God was on Judah to give them singleness of heart
to do the commandment of the king and the leaders, at the word of the Lord." Verse 15,
"Then they slaughtered the Passover lambs on the fourteenth day of the second
month..." Verse 16, "They stood in their place according to their custom, according to THE
LAW OF MOSES the man of God; the Priests sprinkled the blood which they received from the hand
of the Levites." Verse 27, "Then the priests, the Levites, arose and blessed the people, and
their voice was heard: and their prayer came up to His holy dwelling place, to heaven."
Therefore, God continued to bless His people while they were sacrificing the Passovers at
the temple – AND THAT ACCORDING TO THE LAW OF MOSES THE MAN OF
Next, notice Numbers 9.13 (NKJV), "But the man who is clean and is not on a journey,
and ceases to keep the Passover, that same person shall be cut off from among his people,
because he did not bring the offering of the Lord at its appointed time; that man shall
bear his sin." A question to ask, "If the Passover was to be kept totally as a home
celebration, why did someone on a journey during the time of the Passover, have to wait
until he returned, and then keep the Passover in the second month?" Could it have
anything to do with the commands of Leviticus 17.1-7? Please note that the bible does
not record any exception to this commandment, for the Passover lamb. And what does
Numbers 9:13 mean, "...because he did not BRING the offering of the Lord at its
appointed time...” This was a reference to the Passover lamb. Why did he have to bring
the Passover offering or sacrifice some place? Where would he be taking the Passover
offering other than the tabernacle, or the temple? Moreover, was this because of the
command in Leviticus 17.1-7?
Leviticus 17:1 And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying,
2 Speak unto Aaron, and unto his sons, and unto all the children of Israel, and say unto them; This is
the thing which the LORD hath commanded, saying,
3 What man soever there be of the house of Israel, that killeth an ox, or lamb, or goat, (the Passover
sacrifice was either a lamb or a goat) in the camp, or that killeth it out of the camp,
4 And bringeth it not unto the door of the tabernacle of the congregation, to offer an offering unto the
LORD before the tabernacle of the LORD; blood shall be imputed unto that man; he hath shed blood;
and that man shall be cut off from among his people:
5 To the end that the children of Israel may bring their sacrifices, which they offer in the open field,
even that they may bring them unto the LORD, unto the door of the tabernacle of the congregation,
unto the priest, and offer them for peace offerings unto the LORD.
6 And the priest shall sprinkle the blood upon the altar of the LORD at the door of the tabernacle of
the congregation, and burn the fat for a sweet savour unto the LORD.
7 And they shall no more offer their sacrifices unto devils, after whom they have gone a whoring.
This shall be a statute forever unto them throughout their generations.
Now, where do we get the practice of getting an entire church congregation together to
keep the Passover Feast today? The Israelites kept the original Passover with only one
or two families gathered for this observance. Who authorized this change?
Although there is no direct "thus saith the Lord" command of God recorded in the Bible
for some of these tabernacle/temple changes to be made to the Passover, they were made
and recorded in the Bible for us to read today. Moreover, God blessed those who
observed these temple Passovers. Why did God not frown on these Passovers? Why did
He not once rebuke them for the changes that they made? Perhaps God Himself made
these changes through Moses and saw that Ezra and others wrote them down for all
posterity and us? The irony of this whole discussion about Passover changes is that it
does not prove a 14th or 15th Passover Feast. Passover changes only involve the where
and how, not the when. However, some argue that these changes also involved a date
change for the Passover. In other words, they believe that some of the writers of the
bible were in a conspiracy – perhaps unwittingly – to make changes to the Passover. In
other words, these “teachers” would sacrifice the veracity of the bible to hold on to their
early 14th theory. The traditions of recent years have become more important to them
then the bible! However, even if one could prove that some observed a domestic
Passover sacrifice in New Testament times, this would not prove an early 14th Passover
Feast setting. Pointing out Passover changes recorded in the bible does not prove a
conspiratortial Passover time change. If God blessed His people for keeping the Passover
– a Passover based on recorded changes from the original Passover – we must accept that
it was according to His will.