PASSOVER – What makes this night different?

February 17, 2017


In a white gown, a “kittel,” used for special ceremonies, Rabbi Robert Pristoop, with a huge smile, welcomed church leaders to a Passover observance at the Mid-Atlantic Baptist Network Center, saying, “I am so excited to share this Passover with you!” paraphrasing Jesus’ words in Luke 22:15.

Pristoop, rabbi/pastor of Mishkan HaShofar Congregation, Silver Spring, led the observance to give church leaders the experience of Passover and to demonstrate what he offers to share in local churches.

Herta Pristoop, Robert’s wife, assisted, preparing each table with the elements: parsley, a lamb shank bone, a hardboiled egg, horseradish, charoset, and matzo. In front was a table that also had four silver cups, representing sanctification, judgment, redemption, and hallel, meaning praise.

Robert shared a comprehensive Passover account, including the prophesy regarding the Passover to Abraham in Genesis 15, the story of Joseph and his brothers, through the crossing of the Red Sea. He added historical information, some laughs, and biblical and spiritual truths, as he revealed the Gospel of Jesus.

His brothers didn’t recognize Joseph in Egypt, Pristoop said. After all, he was dressed like an Egyptian, and wore the makeup of an Egyptian, not a Jew.

“This was a problem with my people,” Robert said sadly. “When Messiah came the first time, they were looking for a conquering king, not a suffering servant. He wasn’t dressed as they expected. They didn’t recognize him.”

Pristoop shared the Exodus account of Moses’ plea (to let the people go from Egypt) and Pharaoh’s rejection. Pristoop said each plague God sent on Egypt correlated with Egyptian gods, culminating with the death of Egypt’s firstborn, a direct polemic against Amun, the most powerful Egyptian deity.

Participants followed through the ceremony, dipping parsley in saltwater, eating the horseradish and haroset, the egg, and the matzo.

The lamb bone represents the Passover sacrifice. “The Lamb of God replaced this lamb bone with flesh,” Robert said, explaining God had John the Baptist choose his words carefully, “Behold, the Lamb of God.”

Robert said Bethlehem had one industry— shepherding, “where perfect, unblemished baby lambs were born to be sacrificed to take away the sin of Israel.”

Robert shared that the Matzo, to be kosher for Passover, must be unleavened, have stripes and be pierced.  He explained the custom of placing three pieces of the unleavened bread in a bag, or “echod,” and how one is broken in half and one half is hidden. Children look for the missing piece and it must be ransomed before being redeemed and before the supper can be completed.

Robert said Jewish people have many ideas of what the three pieces represent, but when he accepted Christ, he saw the truth—the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.

“Jewish people do this every year and don’t see their Messiah. Christians don’t do this, and Messiah is all over it,” he exclaimed.

Robert shared that communion, as well as the new covenant, was observed at Passover. He led the group in a time of communion.

He acknowledged the fourth cup. Jesus said He would not drink that cup until his joy is complete, when His people come into the kingdom, he said.

As participants bowed their heads in prayer, Robert blew on the Shofar, and warned listeners that Jesus is coming back, that if the sound of the Shofar doesn’t excite them at the thought of seeing Jesus, they need to examine their salvation.

Robert encouraged church leaders to celebrate the feasts in their churches and to invite the community, especially people from the Jewish community.

The three spring festivals, Passover, Unleavened Bread, and First Fruits, represent Christ’s first coming, salvation, burial and resurrection.

The fall festivals, the Feast of Trumpets (Rosh Hashanah), the Feast of Atonement (Yom Kippur), and the Feast of Sukkot (tabernacles) represent Jesus’ second coming and reign.
“Everything points to Jesus,” he said.

He also encouraged churches to witness to Jewish people.

“Christians go out and tell people about their faith but they don’t tell Jewish people because of the fear of rejection,” he said. He also encouraged Christians to pray for and with Jewish people.

“It touches them in a way they don’t understand.”

He also asked churches to support Jewish missions.

Robert shared that Jewish believers are despised and rejected by many traditional Jewish people.

“My Orthodox family doesn’t speak to me,” he said. Though atheists, Buddhist and Hindu Jews are invited to weddings and funerals, he is excluded.

“I’m a threat,” he said. “Only one name in heaven has power, and when they see me, they see Him, and they can’t stand it.