A little known fact concerning Passover that not many brethren are aware of is that we are to sanctify ourselves physically and spiritually before we observe this event. Many Jews that kept the Passover the year of Messiah's death understood this, as we read in Joh 11:55. " And the Jews' Passover was nigh at hand: and many went out of the country up to Jerusalem before the Passover, to purify themselves." The act of purifying themselves involved both a physical and spiritual cleansing.
First, let's look at some examples of physical cleansing or physically sanctifying oneself. In Num 9:6-14 we read, "And there were certain men, who were defiled by the dead body of a man, that they could not keep the Passover on that day: and they came before Moses and before Aaron on that day: And those men said unto him, We are defiled by the dead body of a man: wherefore are we kept back, that we may not offer an offering of Yahweh in his appointed season among the children of Israel? And Moses said unto them, Stand still, and I will hear what Yahweh will command concerning you. And Yahweh spake unto Moses, saying, Speak unto the children of Israel, saying, If any man of you or of your posterity shall be unclean by reason of a dead body, or be in a journey afar off, yet he shall keep the Passover unto Yahweh. The fourteenth day of the second month at even they shall keep it, and eat it with unleavened bread and bitter herbs. They shall leave none of it unto the morning, nor break any bone of it: according to all the ordinances of the Passover they shall keep it. But the man that is clean, and is not in a journey, and forbeareth to keep the Passover, even the same soul shall be cut off from among his people: because he brought not the offering of Yahweh in his appointed season, that man shall bear his sin. And if a stranger shall sojourn among you, and will keep the Passover unto Yahweh; according to the ordinance of the Passover, and according to the manner thereof, so shall he do: ye shall have one ordinance, both for the stranger, and for him that was born in the land."
Here we see an example of being unclean physically and therefore being unable to keep Passover. The same principle applies to us today. If, for any reason, we become unclean, we are forbidden to observe Passover at that time and must wait until the fourteenth day of the second month to keep it. There are several ways to become unclean besides touching a dead body. Among those that the scriptures mention are childbirth, which renders the mother unclean for up to eighty days; menstruation; eating the flesh of unclean animals; leprosy; and physical discharges of the sex organs, including emission of semen during sexual intercourse.
Another example is found in 2 Chr 30:1-3. "And Hezekiah sent to all Israel and Judah, and wrote letters also to Ephraim and Manasseh, that they should come to the house of Yahweh at Jerusalem, to keep the Passover unto Yahweh Elohim of Israel. For the king had taken counsel, and his princes, and all the congregation in Jerusalem, to keep the Passover in the second month. For they could not keep it at that time, because the priests had not sanctified themselves sufficiently, neither had the people gathered themselves together to Jerusalem." Continuing in verses 15-20, "Then they killed the Passover on the fourteenth day of the second month: and the priests and the Levites were ashamed, and sanctified themselves, and brought in the burnt offerings into the house of Yahweh. And they stood in their place after their manner, according to the law of Moses the man of Elohim: the priests sprinkled the blood, which they received of the hand of the Levites. For there were many in the congregation that were not sanctified: therefore the Levites had the charge of the killing of the passovers for every one that was not clean, to sanctify them unto Yahweh. For a multitude of the people, even many of Ephraim, and Manasseh, Issachar, and Zebulun, had not cleansed themselves, yet did they eat the Passover otherwise than it was written. But Hezekiah prayed for them, saying, The good Yahweh pardon every one that prepareth his heart to seek Elohim, Yahweh Elohim of his fathers, though he be not cleansed according to the purification of the sanctuary. And Yahweh hearkened to Hezekiah, and healed the people." In this example, the King interceded for those that were unclean and Yahweh personally purified them. Whether this can be done today for unclean saints only Yahweh knows. The most prudent thing to do is to be sure that you remain clean for Passover rather than relying on Yahweh to cleanse you miraculously.
Let's read Ezr 6:19-22; "And the children of the captivity kept the Passover upon the fourteenth day of the first month. 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. 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 Yahweh Elohim of Israel, did eat, And kept the feast of unleavened bread seven days with joy: for Yahweh had made them joyful, and turned the heart of the king of Assyria unto them, to strengthen their hands in the work of the house of Elohim, the Elohim of Israel." This purification involved the priests and Levites. Since believers today are called a "royal priesthood" then we too, should be sure that we are purified or cleansed before we keep the Passover.
The Passover is eaten on the night of the first day of the Feast of Unleavened. By that time every believer should have removed all leaven or all fermented products from his house (Ex.12:15,18,19). Leaven throughout scripture is symbolic of sin, false doctrine and hypocrisy as we read in the following verses;
Mat 16:5-12 - "And when his disciples were come to the other side, they had forgotten to take bread. Then Yeshua said unto them, Take heed and beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and of the Sadducees. And they reasoned among themselves, saying, It is because we have taken no bread. Which when Yeshua perceived, he said unto them, O ye of little faith, why reason ye among yourselves, because ye have brought no bread? Do ye not yet understand, neither remember the five loaves of the five thousand, and how many baskets ye took up? Neither the seven loaves of the four thousand, and how many baskets ye took up? How is it that ye do not understand that I spake it not to you concerning bread, that ye should beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and of the Sadducees? Then understood they how that he bade them not beware of the leaven of bread, but of the doctrine of the Pharisees and of the Sadducees."
Luk 12:1 - "In the mean time, when there were gathered together an innumerable multitude of people, insomuch that they trode one upon another, he began to say unto his disciples first of all, Beware ye of the leaven of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy."
1 Cor 5:6-8 - "Your glorying is not good. Know ye not that a little leaven leaveneth the whole lump? Purge out therefore the old leaven, that ye may be a new lump, as ye are unleavened. For even Messiah our Passover is sacrificed for us: Therefore let us keep the feast, not with old leaven, neither with the leaven of malice and wickedness; but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth."
The "old leaven" spoken of in verse 8 consists of all the false doctrines we have believed until now. If we have any false doctrines remaining in our minds we are to search them out, as we would leaven in our houses, and discard them. The same is true of hypocrisy and sins that we have not repented of. If our false doctrines, hypocrisies and sins are not pointed out to us by our fellow brethren, or even unbelievers, then we are to examine ourselves, to search our own souls thoroughly, to be sure we are free of leaven.
If we go before Yahweh in prayer and ask Him to reveal our hidden faults to us, He will. This was the attitude of David as we read in Psa 139:23, "Search me, O Elohim, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts: And see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting." This should be the attitude of any truly converted person.
Jeremiah showed this attitude in Jer 10:23-24 when he said, "O Yahweh, I know that the way of man is not in himself: it is not in man that walketh to direct his steps. O Yahweh, correct me, but with judgment; not in thine anger, lest thou bring me to nothing." If we do not allow Yahweh's Holy Spirit to correct us or to show us our faults He may have to correct us in anger.As the writer of Hebrews said, "It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living Elohim."
Concerning the symbols of the bread and the cup that we take to remember the death of our Passover Lamb, the Apostle Paul wrote, in 1 Cor 11:28-32, "But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of that bread, and drink of that cup. For he that eateth and drinketh unworthily, eateth and drinketh damnation to himself, not discerning the Master's body. For this cause many are weak and sickly among you, and many sleep. For if we would judge ourselves, we should not be judged. But when we are judged, we are chastened of the Master, that we should not be condemned with the world."
The Passover season is the best time of the year to take a long, hard look at ourselves, to judge ourselves to be certain we are walking in a pleasing way in Yahweh's sight. It is also a time when we must be sure that we are physically clean in our flesh.
The Apostle Paul made a statement in 2 Cor 7:1 that sums up what our obligation is, especially at this time of year. " Having therefore these promises, dearly beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of [Yahweh]."
It makes no sense to keep the Feast of Unleavened, which symbolizes the purity of the believer, if we knowingly have sins, false doctrines and hypocrisies within us. That would be hypocritical. Yahweh is calling us to be pure in heart, mind, and body. This is the time of the year where He commands us to come before Him in an undefiled physical and spiritual condition to worship Him in spirit and in truth. The wise man will do just that.