A Historic Passover

As the sun set last night a remarkable anniversary began. It wasn’t just the start of the feast of the Passover, it was also—if the Jewish calendar reckoning and the count of the years is correct—the 3333rd Passover since that first incredible night in Egypt so long ago.

Maybe that’s why the forces of the enemy have been working overtime on such an all-out offensive recently. Because, if God were indeed to do something as miraculous as the first Passover, now would be a logical time. 3333, to me at least, is a ‘covenant’ number.

Now we know about two Passover seasons in the life of Jesus. In John 6:4, we’re told that it was near to the Passover when Jesus performed the miracle of the loaves and fishes. People were following Him all through the backblocks of Galilee—well, that’s probably a bit too polite for what they were doing. In today’s terms it would be more like stalking Him, staking Him out. And despite their avid pursuit, after He announced that He was the ‘Bread Come Down from Heaven’, lots of people stopped following Him. He’d made a statement that was way, way too controversial.

I used to love reading an old radical Christian magazine called The Wittenburg Door. On a fairly regular basis, the reporter would remark to some interviewee who’d made a divisive, contentious statement, ‘Thanks for that comment! We need another purge of our mailing lists.’

Sometimes I think Jesus was doing something similar. Purging His mailing list. Uprooting the weeds. Booting out the hangers-on. Or, maybe, if that all seems a little too ungentle a way of expressing it, just simply scouring out the house like a careful housewife would do as the Feast of Unleavened Bread approached.

In fact, because this is the very time that Jews would do their spring-cleaning, making sure to remove all yeast in preparation for the Feast of Unleavened Bread, I think that’s why Jesus was so scathing when people asked Him for a sign—right after they’d witnessed the miracle of the loaves and fishes. He was hunting down the yeast in their thinking and removing it. Sure we know about the way the people couldn’t think of Him as one with the Father and I sympathise with them. It would have been a hard call to accept any I AM statement. But what shouldn’t have been a hard call was the accusation of Jesus about Moses. Apparently many of those wanting a sign thought Moses was the one who dispensed the manna, not God. Somehow Moses had been given the throne of heaven. Sounds incredible, doesn’t it?

And you’d think that wouldn’t be a mistake we could make today, but let me assure you it is. At the beginning of this year I was talking with a pastor who was surprised I knew about an issue that is increasingly prevalent in his denomination. The issue is this: there’s a whole body of thinking today in Christian circles where the writings of Paul are placed at the pinnacle of a hierarchy … … … above, wait for it … … … the words of Jesus. The pastor didn’t fully understand it but I’ve come across it so often I was able to tell them how the thinking is justified: Paul is post-resurrection while Jesus is pre-resurrection.

So while Christians are unlikely to put Moses on God’s throne, they are tempted to put the apostle Paul there.

But back to Jesus and His spring-cleaning. The next time we hear about Him cleansing a House and upending people’s thinking around the Passover is when He cleared out the Temple. He made a whip and He overturned tables and He chased the money-lenders out of the courts.

No doubt you’ve heard the story many times before and know that the money-lenders were practising extortion as they exchanged ordinary currency for Temple shekels which was the only way to pay the Temple tax. As Jesus said, they’d turned the House of God into a den of thieves. But what you may not know is that the defilement involved an unholy trade using an image of the god of Death.

The temple shekel was stamped with a design celebrating Moloch and it was the only acceptable coin for payment of the temple tax.  You’re probably stunned. How on earth did this happen?

Well, the Romans had forbidden the Jews to mint their own coins. They had to buy them. They could have got custom-designed coins of inferior silver from any number of places, but if they wanted the highest quality silver it came from Tyre, already stamped, and with a picture of Hercules Melqart on one side and the words ‘Tyre, holy and inviolable’ on the other. Hercules Melqart was the Phoenician name for Moloch and Tyre, of course, was the place where Ezekiel had seen the power of satan behind the throne of the king.

The decision had been made in the highest political and spiritual quarters that it was better to have the finest silver, no matter what abominable image was on it, than to choose lesser quality silver with an inoffensive symbol on it.

It seems the prince of Tyre had moved in the first century, taking up residence in the outer courts of the Temple of Jerusalem. No wonder Jesus decided a spring-clean was in order. The temple shekels, stamped with a symbol of Death, represented yeast of a truly demonic kind.

Yet there’s a beautiful prophecy in what Jesus did. The emptying of the Temple, casting out the image of Death, foreshadows of the emptying of the tomb and the casting out of Death itself through the power of the resurrection.

But back to today and what the cleansing of the Temple means for us. It’s a perfect time to let Jesus take a look around your mind, your heart, your soul and expose the crumbs of yeast to the light. It’s a perfect time to ask Him to be ruthless with any accommodations we’ve made unconsciously and unthinkingly with sin. It’s a perfect time to ask Him to cleanse us of all unrighteousness.

Take some time right now to ask Jesus to show you where some spring-cleaning is needed.


  1. Judy Rogers

    Thanks Annie. So good to have this back again.

  2. Thank you Annie! What a challenge. Especially considering whether I and some other believers put Paul in the place of Christ, just as some people had put Moses in the place of Christ.
    May we all allow God to cleanse our hearts today and may we not allow anything to take His place in our lives!

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