By Sam Nadler
Passover is a great time for all believers to invite a Jewish friend to a Passover Seder to discover the Lamb of God. We are thrilled at the hundreds of people who attend our Messianic Seders throughout these months. Using Passover for outreach is not a new idea, though. Hezekiah, one of Judah’s greatest kings, utilized it for this purpose over 2,700 years ago. This is what we read in 2 Chronicles 30:1-5:“Now Hezekiah sent to all Israel and Judah… that they should come to the house of the Lord at Jerusalem to celebrate the Passover to the Lord God of Israel. For the king… had decided to celebrate the Passover in the second month, since they could not celebrate it at that time, because the priests had not consecrated themselves in sufficient numbers, nor had the people been gathered to Jerusalem… So they established a decree to circulate a proclamation throughout all Israel from Beersheba even to Dan, that they should come to celebrate the Passover to the Lord God of Israel at Jerusalem. For they had not celebrated it in great numbers as it was prescribed.”
Hezekiah’s Later, Greater Passover
The fact that the feast had not been celebrated in “great numbers” meant, among other things, that it had not been celebrated as a unified kingdom since the time of Solomon. But in Hezekiah’s time, when the first month came, when Passover was to be celebrated, the priests and the people were not prepared. Rather than having an unprepared Passover at the right time, Hezekiah called for a properly prepared Passover a month later. There could be no celebration without preparation.
The Outreach Program
Hezekiah wanted to reach all Jews everywhere. He realized that God was worthy of the praise of many, certainly more than just that of his own people of Judah. In 2 Chronicles 29:24, we see that Hezekiah had previously ordered sacrifices to be made for all Israel, hoping for a revival among the Jews of the north. His desire anticipated Paul’s prophecy that, “All Israel will be saved” (Rom. 11:26). This has always been the heart of God and still is today. In light of this, Hezekiah sent messengers out “from Beersheba even to Dan.” This is a colloquial way of saying that he reached out to everyone in the nation (as some might say, “from sea to shining sea”).
But this meant that Hezekiah would also be reaching out to his sworn enemies in the northern kingdom of Israel! Why would he do this? Because he was quite concerned that the Passover feast be celebrated “as it was prescribed” (30:5). In Deuteronomy 16:16, we read that all Jews everywhere were to come to the Temple in Jerusalem to celebrate Passover (as well as Pentecost and the Feast of Tabernacles). Since the division of the kingdom after Solomon’s reign, it was only the southern kingdom of Judah that met in Jerusalem for Passover worship. Even then, many in the kingdom of Judah had neglected to do this, or at least had not kept the feast as the Scriptures required.
One might think that Hezekiah need not encourage others to come and celebrate, rationalizing that as long as he was personally celebrating and worshipping God, it would be “good enough.” But it was not good enough for Hezekiah. He understood that the meaning of Passover was not only to redeem Israel, but to reach out to others so they could be redeemed as well (see Ex. 12:4). At the time of the first Passover, Israel reached out to their Egyptian neighbors, and ultimately there was a “mixed multitude” – not just Hebrews – who left Egypt (Ex. 12:38). Because the Lamb of redemption is always greater than your needs, you can share and reach out with the same grace you have received. Even then, redemption was to the Jew first, but not to the Jew only!
Hezekiah understood the teaching in Scripture that all believers should encourage others to follow the Lord. This spiritual insight became a biblical mandate in the New Covenant: “Go into all the world...” (Matt. 28:18-20). Here we see pictured the kind of service we all need to be living out. The feast of Passover is a yearly reminder to be reaching out to others with an invitation to come to the Lord, celebrate redemption, and rejoice in the Lamb of God. Those who reach out share in the heart of God who desires “all to come to repentance” (2 Pet. 3:9). Believers who do not reach out will eventually dry up spiritually. A hidden faith is not a fruitful faith. The truth is, the more you give your faith away, the more you have!
In one year’s time, a congregation can grow to twice its size. How? It’s simple really: each one reach one. If each believer brought just one person to know Messiah and be part of his congregation, then that congregation’s attendance would soon double. Growth like this is important, not merely for things to get bigger. Rather, just as in Hezekiah’s day, the Lord is always worthy of the praise of many!
The response to Hezekiah’s gracious invitation had mixed reviews.
Many who did not believe mocked and laughed at such an invitation (30:10), but the humble repented and found salvation in the Lamb (30:11). The repentant of Judah found unity “by the hand of God… and great joy” (30:12, 21).
So don’t let the nay-sayers keep you from the “great joy” the Lord has for you; reach out instead! For Scripture assures us that there is a remnant of Jewish people prepared even now to humble themselves and come to the Lamb of God (Rom. 11:5-6). During Passover season, and all year round, let’s invite our Jewish friends, and all our friends who don’t yet know the Lord, to hear the Good News of Yeshua.