The Three-Fold Symbolism of Passover and Pentecost
By Gil Afriat
Passover is the first biblical holiday of the year: the biblical year starts on the 1st of Nissan (generally coincides with March-April) and Passover falls on 15th of Nissan. God gave us a total of seven holy days during the year—not a coincidental number at all—3 in the spring, and 4 in the fall. In biblical times, each holy day had a three-fold meaning: past, present and future. They provide a way to remember His wonders, love and grace toward us in the past, to celebrate His goodness and provision in the present, and to look forward to the holiday’s larger messianic fulfillment in the future. Let’s take a closer look at the deeper meaning of the spring holidays of Passover and The Festival of Weeks (Pentecost) which so beautifully point to the first coming of the Lord and His message of salvation.
1st day of Passover: Yeshua’s crucifixion
On the night of Passover, God visited the 10th plague on the Egyptians, killing all their first born. It was the same night that the Israelites had sacrificed a lamb at twilight and put its blood on the doorposts of their homes so that the angel of death would “pass over” them on his way through the land slaying the first born of every family. Furthermore, they had eaten this lamb along with bitter herbs and unleavened bread before being led by Moses out of Egypt and into freedom. Yeshua was crucified on Passover, and it is by His blood that we escape spiritual death—enslavement to sin— to enter into freedom led by the Spirit of God.
2nd Day of Passover: Baptism
Exodus 12 explains that after the first day of Passover, which is a holy day on which no work is done, everyone may return to their regular daylily activities for next five days (while continuing to abstain from leavened products). However, on the last day of the Passover week, God commanded Israel to observe another holy day on which no work is to be done. According to Jewish tradition, crossing of the Red Sea happened on the 7th day of Passover. Paul points out the symbolic significance of the Israelites crossing the Red Sea:
For I do not want you to be ignorant of the fact, brothers and sisters, that our ancestors were all under the cloud and that they all passed through the sea. They were all baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea. ~1 Cor 10:1-2
After accepting the sacrifice of the Messiah Yeshua as atonement for sins, the believer must “pass through the sea”, that is, immerse in water which is, as 1 Peter 3: 21 says, “…not the removal of dirt from the body but the pledge of a clear conscience toward God. It saves you by the resurrection of Jesus Christ.” Water baptism is an essential step for every believer to state their surrender to Yeshua in identification with His death, burial and resurrection.
Festival of Weeks (Pentecost): Baptism of the Holy Spirit
Seven weeks after the 1st day of Passover, God commanded the people to bring the first fruits of their harvest to the temple in Jerusalem. Acts 2 tells us that it was during the Festival of Weeks that the Lord poured out the Holy Spirit on all the believers gathered in Jerrusalem to celebrate the festival. It was from that moment that the early believers began to witness in power and the gospel began to spread—the great harvest had begun.
Having been “clothed with power from on high” which the Lord prophesized in Luke 25, Peter stood in the temple and witnessed to the worshippers who were there from many nations. His message deeply convicted them and they asked him, “What shall we do?” Peter’s reply was:
Repent, be baptized…And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.
Repentance through His blood (1st holy day of Passover), surrendering to Him (2nd holy day of Passover) and empowerment by His Spirit (Festival of Weeks) compose the essential message of salvation which the three spring holidays so wonderfully illustrate in such a deep and meaningful way.