The Old Testament Scriptures state that the Passover should remain an “ordinance forever unto Israel”. But did ‘forever’ literally mean forever – to continue even after the New Covenant has already come?
I always knew instinctively that couldn’t be the case, but I couldn’t prove it until one day I decided to run a search on the phrase: “ordinance forever” in the Bible. I found that the Passover wasn’t the only ordinance that was to carry-on “forever” in Israel – here is a partial list of other ordinances that were also to last ‘forever’:
The feast of unleavened bread; the sweet incense offerings and the continual shewbread; the burnt offerings morning and evening; the annual blood-sacrifice on the Day of Atonement in the seventh month; the lighting of candles in the court on the other side of the curtain in the tabernacle; the Levitical priesthood itself – including all of its garments and ceremonial washings in the tabernacle; trumpets were to be sounded by priests every time the Israeli defence force engaged in any military action; and any time a Jewish citizen visited a grave site, he or she was to afterwards perform special ceremonial washings and sacrifices.
If ‘forever’ literally meant forever, then not only the Passover, but also ALL OF THE ABOVE ORDINANCES should still be carried-out by Jewish believers – because EACH OF THOSE THINGS WERE INCLUDED AMONG THE THINGS WHICH THE LAW SAID WERE TO REMAIN “AN ORDINANCE FOREVER UNTO ISRAEL”. But we know that’s not the case, because the Scriptures of the New Testament state that some of the above ordinances are categorically replaced under the terms of the New Covenant. Seeing we know that some of the above ordinances were not meant to last literally forever, we therefore deduce that the term ‘ordinance forever unto Israel’ was never intended to mean literally forever – it just meant: FOR AS LONG AS THE OLD COVENANT STILL STOOD.
Then I realized SCRIPTURALLY what I already knew intuitively – that ever since Jesus ratified the New Covenant in His blood, believers (whether Jew or Gentile) do not need to keep the feast of Passover. This understanding of the term ‘ordinance forever unto Israel’ is a truth that could set millions of people free!
There is a sense however in which the ‘feast’ of Passover is being kept forever: Christ is our passover – and sincere believers are keeping the ‘feast’ through living faithful, holy, Christ-honouring lives.
Nevertheless, the law of love teaches us that we should not criticize believers with weaker consciences who feel they should still observe certain dates in the calendar as special; and they should not criticize those of us who know we don’t need to – for God has called us to unity.