“Will the Passover be kept for eternity?”

Answered by Eugene P. Vedder, Jr.

QUESTION: Exodus 12:14,24 says that the Passover will be kept “for ever” (KJV). Does that really mean that believing Israel will keep the feast of the Passover for eternity or in the eternal state? Two other references for “forever” come to my mind: “To put my Name there for ever” (1 Ki. 9:3), and “Establish the throne of Thy kingdom upon Israel for ever” (v.5).

ANSWER: Scripture is the best interpreter of Scripture. Therefore, it is important that we read Scripture carefully and compare passages one with another to see what God is telling us. God speaks plainly in His Word, but it is well to keep in mind that there are words in our older translations that have changed their meaning in the course of the centuries. Words and expressions in the languages in which Scripture was written must be understood in the context in which they were written rather than how we ordinarily use them today.

When we look at Exodus 12:14,24 carefully we see that God instructed Israel to keep the Passover feast forever. Three times in Deuteronomy 16 God commands His earthly people to sacrifice the Passover in the place where the Lord shall choose to place His name (vv. 2,6-7). In verse 5 He explicitly forbade His people to sacrifice the Passover in any of their gates. When Jewish people today keep the Passover they are keeping it in a manner contrary to God’s commandment. God does not appreciate disobedience.

The reference in 1 Kings 9:3 reveals God’s promise to Solomon, while the following verses show conditions that His people were to fulfill if God was to keep His promise. Solomon did not keep God’s commandments, so God brought in Nebuchadnezzar to destroy the temple and to make an end of the royal line of Solomon on the throne of Israel.

God will, however, take up dealings with Israel again in a day soon to come. The faithful remnant of the nation is viewed as all Israel in that day. The Lord will then indeed sit upon His royal throne and there will be a reconstructed temple. Sacrifices will again be offered, but they will be memorial sacrifices as the work of Christ upon the cross is sufficient to take care of every problem about sin and its forgiveness. We read of these things in the last nine chapters of Ezekiel and the final chapters of Zechariah, among other passages. Ezekiel 45:21-25 mentions how God will have His earthly people keep the Passover in that day.

But after 1,000 years, when He shall have put all enemies under His feet, He will deliver up the kingdom to God, having put down all rule, authority and power. Revelation 20 and the beginning of chapter 21 go into a bit more detail on this. They indicate that at the end of the millennium Satan will be released for a short time from his prison and will again go out and deceive the nations worldwide, gathering them together to battle. This revolt against the Lord’s authority will be put down by fire coming down from God out of heaven. The judgment of Satan and that of the unsaved dead at the great white throne follow immediately, the wicked being raised for their final judgment.

Afterwards, the new heaven and the new earth come into focus. There is no more sea on the new earth – the sea is a type of the nations throughout Scripture. Israel is no longer a separate people, distinguished from the nations. We simply find that “the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people, and God Himself shall be with them, and be their God” (21:3). All the consequences of sin that have plagued mankind since the fall – tears, death, sorrow and pain – will be taken away. “The former things are passed away” (v.4), we are told. And the One who sits on the throne says, “Behold, I make all things new” (v.5)

From all this we can see that the “forever” of the Passover takes us to the end of this present creation. As long as God views Israel as a nation it is to remember how God delivered it from the bondage of Egypt. In the new heavens and the new earth the former things will have passed away. Isaiah 65:17 already tells us: “Behold, I create new heavens and a new earth: and the former shall not be remembered, nor come into mind.” With no nation of Israel, there will no longer be a reason to celebrate the Passover. The full sufficiency of the work of Christ will be the portion that every believer will rejoice in with a full heart in the world to come!