Can we truly keep Passover?
People argue that we can’t keep Passover unless we go to Yerushalayim, but is that true?
There is a growing debate amongst Torah Observant believers that say we cannot observe Passover unless we are in The Land.
The reason for going to Yerushalayim was to offer the Passover sacrifice. That is the place where the Temple and the Priests were located. That is why it was required to go to Yerushalayim. The Scriptures say that we must offer the Passover sacrifice in the place where YaHuWaH chooses to place His name, and we cannot offer the sacrifice at our homes.
“And you shall slaughter the Pĕsaḥ (Passover) to YaHuWaH your Elohim, from the flock and the herd, in the place where YaHuWaH chooses to put His Name. “Eat no leavened bread with it. For seven days you eat unleavened bread with it, bread of affliction, because you came out of the land of Mitsrayim in haste – so that you remember the day in which you came out of the land of Mitsrayim, all the days of your life. And no leaven should be seen with you in all your border for seven days, neither should any of the meat which you slaughter in the evening on the first day stay all night until morning. “You are not allowed to slaughter the Pĕsaḥ (Passover) within any of your gates which YaHuWaH your Elohim gives you, but at the place where YaHuWaH your Elohim chooses to make His Name dwell, there you slaughter the Pĕsaḥ (Passover) in the evening, at the going down of the sun, at the appointed time you came out of Mitsrayim.” Deḇarim (Deuteronomy) 16:2-6
This surely makes it sound like we can’t keep the Passover anywhere but Yerushalayim, but there are a few things we need to consider about this. First, it says you must offer the Passover sacrifice in the place where YaHuWaH places His name. It is talking about the sacrifice.
In this passage, we run into the danger of eisegesis (reading into the text) rather than exegesis (reading out of the text) – reading what the words actually say, rather than projecting our own preconceived ideas onto the text and calling the process ‘Biblical interpretation’. Metaphor, allegory, and symbolism are problematic when approaching scripture.
Even if we go to Yerushalayim, we cannot offer a sacrifice because there is no Temple and no Levites. So, there is no reason to go to Yerushalayim.
Second, notice that the Scriptures are careful not to say, “you must go to Yerushalayim for the Passover.” It simply says you must go to the place where YaHuWaH causes His name to abide.
Once again, we run into the danger of eisegesis (reading into the text) rather than exegesis (reading out of the text).
It was believed to be Yerushalayim by the Yahudim, but the Samaritans believed this was referring to Mount Gerizim. This was the biggest debate between the Yahudim and Samaritans in the First Century.
It was a question that Yahusha addressed when He spoke to the Samaritan woman at the well. She asked Him where we should go to worship, in Yerushalayim or on Mount Gerizim, but His response shows that there is another option.
“Our fathers worshipped on this mountain, but you people say that in Yerushalayim is the place where one needs to worship.” Yahusha said to her, “Woman, believe Me, the hour is coming when you shall neither on this mountain, nor in Yerushalayim, worship the Father. You worship what you do not know. We worship what we know, because the deliverance is of the Yahuḏim. “But the hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father also does seek such to worship Him. “Elohim is Spirit, and those who worship Him need to worship in spirit and truth.” Yoḥanan (John) 4:20-24
He affirmed the Yahudim worship in Yerushalayim, saying, “You worship what you do not know. We worship what we know.” However, He went on to explain that Yerushalayim will not always be the place of worship, saying, “But the hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshippers will worship the Father in spirit and truth.” He was saying that it will no longer be required to go to Yerushalayim to worship at the Feasts, because “the true worshippers will worship the Father in spirit and truth.”
But what did He mean by that?
We know that in 70 AD, the Temple in Yerushalayim was destroyed and has never been rebuilt. Thus no one has been able to offer sacrifices since 70 AD. However, the Scriptures explain that we have a better Temple and a better Priesthood in Heaven. The book of Hebrews explains that Yahusha is our Great High Priest, and He offers a better sacrifice in the Heavenly Tabernacle.
“Now the summary of what we are saying is: We have such a High Priest, who is seated at the right hand of the throne of the Greatness in the heavens, and who serves in the set-apart place and of the true Tent, which YaHuWaH set up, and not man. For every high priest is appointed to offer both gifts and slaughters. So it was also necessary for this One to have somewhat to offer. For if indeed He were on earth, He would not be a priest, since there are priests who offer the gifts according to the Torah, who serve a copy and shadow of the heavenly, as Mosheh was warned when he was about to make the Tent. For He said, “See that you make all according to the pattern shown you on the mountain.” But now He has obtained a more excellent service, inasmuch as He is also Mediator of a better covenant, which was constituted on better promises.” Iḇ`rim (Hebrews) 8:1-6
The Scriptures also tell us the earthly Temples and Tabernacles were symbolic copies of the Heavenly Tabernacle, but that Yahusha is ministering in the real Tabernacle. It was symbolic for the present time in which both gifts and sacrifices are offered, which cannot make him who performed the service perfect regarding the conscience.
“For Messiah has not entered into a Set-apart Place made by hand – figures (copies) of the true – but into the heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of Elohim on our behalf,” Iḇ`rim (Hebrews) 9:24
This means that believers in Yahusha are the only ones who can truly keep the Passover or any of the Feasts for that matter. We are the only ones who have a High Priest, a Temple, and a Sacrifice.
After the destruction of the Temple, Judaism went through some major changes. They went from being a Temple-based religion to a Synagogue-based religion. They also understood that they could no longer offer sacrifices. They modified their beliefs and now say that charity and good works should be done instead of sacrifices. However, the Scriptures tell us that blood is required, and without the shedding of blood, there is no atonement.
“For the life of the flesh is in the blood, and I have given it to you upon the slaughter-place to make atonement for your lives, for it is the blood that makes atonement for the life.” Wayyiqra (Leviticus) 17:11
That is why the sacrifice of Yahusha is so important because without His blood we have no way for atonement. Those who reject Yahusha have no High Priest, no Sacrifice, and no Temple. Paul explains that Yahusha is our Passover lamb, which is the basis for his argument that we should keep the feast.
“Therefore cleanse out the old leaven, so that you are a new lump, as you are unleavened. For also Messiah our Pĕsaḥ was slaughtered for us. So then let us celebrate the festival, not with old leaven, nor with the leaven of evil and wickedness, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.” Qorintiyim Aleph (1 Corinthians) 5:7-8
“For truly, I say to you, till the heaven and the earth pass away, one yod or one tittle shall by no means pass from the Torah till all be done. “Whoever, then, breaks one of the least of these commands, and teaches men so, shall be called least in the reign of the heavens; but whoever does and teaches them, he shall be called great in the reign of the heavens. For I say to you, that unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you shall by no means enter into the reign of the heavens.” Mattithyahu (Matthew) 5:18-20
There are a lot of people who are coming to the knowledge of the truth and are wanting to keep YaHuWaH’s Feasts and we in no way should ever discourage them from doing so. This is all new to a lot of us and our zeal and passion to want to keep them and our knowledge and understanding of how to do so should never discourage anyone. No matter how much wisdom we think we have received.
The purpose of keeping the Feasts is because our hearts have been turned back to the Father and we want to worship Him according to His ways.
So, can we keep Passover outside of Yerushalayim?
Yes, because true worshippers will worship in spirit and truth.