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The Last Day of Passover: A Feast Day Devoted to the Messiah!

Messiah in watercolor

Acharon Shel Pesach: The Eighth Day of Passover
Deuteronomy 15:19–16:17; Numbers 28:19–25; Isaiah 10:32–12:6

“A shoot will come up from the stump of Jesse; from his roots a Branch will bear fruit.”  (Isaiah 11:1)

Outside the Land of Israel, in the Diaspora (the Jewish People outside of Israel), an eighth day of Passover is also celebrated, which begins tonight.  This extra day, called Acharon Shel Pesach (Last Day of Passover), is devoted to the Messiah (HaMashiach)

The Torah readings for this day are beautiful Messianic prophecies that promise the Messianic era. 

In Jewish tradition, it is believed that the first two days of Passover speak of past redemption from Egypt, but the last two days of Passover speak of the complete and ultimate redemption through the coming of Messiah. 

This day was instituted by Rabbi Israel ben Eliezer, also called Baal Shem Tov, a Jewish mystical rabbi who lived from August 25, 1698 – May 22, 1760.  He is considered the founder of Chassidic Judaism, a branch of Orthodox Judaism.  

Father-Son-Jerusalem-Kotel-Plaza

A Jewish boy follows after his father at the Western (Wailing) Wall in Jerusalem.

Some Believers are unaware of the fact that the Messiah, or Moshiach, is a fundamental ancient concept in Judaism.  Indeed, it has been said, half in jest, that when Yeshua (Jesus) returns, the one question that will be asked of Him by the Jewish People is whether or not it is His first or second visit to earth. 

Belief in an eventual coming of a Messiah is one of the thirteen foundational principles of the Jewish faith, according to Rambam (an acronym of the name Rabbi Mosheh Ben Maimon), one of the most prolific and well respected Torah scholars of the Middle Ages. 

Also, in a central prayer of Judaism called the Shemoneh Esrei (also called Amidah), the Jewish people pray three times a day for the coming of the Mashiach. 

The Hebrew term Mashiach means anointed one, from the practice of anointing the kings of Israel with oil; therefore, the Mashiach will be the one anointed as King of Kings in the end of days. 

This word is closely related in Hebrew to the word, Moshiach, which means to save; therefore, the Messiah can be both the Anointed One and Savior. 

Jewish Family Eats-Shabbat-Dinner

A Jewish family ushers in the Shabbat and then enjoys dinner together.

What Will the Mashiach Do? 

According to Jewish belief, the Messiah will come after a time of war and suffering (Ezekiel 38:16–17), and there are several things that the Messiah, if He is genuine, must accomplish: 

  • The Messiah will bring about spiritual and political redemption of the Jewish People.  He will bring the Jews home to Israel and restore Jerusalem (Isaiah 11:10–12; Jeremiah 23:8, 30:3; Hosea 3:4–5). 

“For the Israelites will live many days without king or prince, without sacrifice or sacred stones, without ephod or household gods.  Afterward the Israelites will return and seek the LORD their God and David their king.  They will come trembling to the LORD and to His blessings in the last days.”  (Hosea 3:4–5) 

  • The Messiah will establish and rule over Jerusalem as the center of all world government for Jews as well as Gentiles (Isaiah 2:2–4, 11:10, 42:1).  

“In the last days the mountain of the LORD’s temple will be established as the highest of the mountains; it will be exalted above the hills, and all nations will stream to it….  The law will go out from Zion, the word of the LORD from Jerusalem.”  (Isaiah 2:2–3) 

Second-Temple-Model

Model of the Second Temple, which was demolished by the Romans in about AD 70.  Bible prophecy states that the Third Temple will be built and the Temple sacrifices will be re-established.

  • The Messiah will rebuild the Holy Temple and re-establish Temple worship and sacrifices (Jeremiah 33:17–18). 
  • The Messiah will restore Jewish law as the rule of the Land and establish a religious court system (Jeremiah 33:15; Isaiah 11:1–5). 
  • The Messiah will bring peace to Israel and the world.  (Isaiah 2:2)

“He will judge between the nations and will settle disputes for many peoples.  They will beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks.  Nation will not take up sword against nation, nor will they train for war anymore.”  (Isaiah 2:2) 

Most Jewish people do not believe that Yeshua (Jesus) is the Messiah because He did not fulfill this mission of bringing world peace. 

In addition, the issue that a Savior who is both man and God who dies for our sins is a foreign concept in Judaism.  And the fact that Yeshua has not accomplished most of the ideals or goals listed above makes Him unacceptable as Mashiach to the majority of the Jewish People. 

Maimonides

A sculpture of Rambam (Maimonides) in Cordoba, Spain: Maimonides was one of the most influential Torah scholars of the Middle Ages.  His 13 Principles of Faith summarize the required beliefs of Judaism and include the coming of the Jewish Messiah and the resurrection of the dead.

Rabbi Schneerson Proclaimed as Messiah 

Throughout Jewish history, many have either claimed to be the Mashiach, or had followers who claimed him as the mashiach: Shimeon Bar Kokhba, Shabbatai Tzvi, and many others.  Most of those false messiahs were imprisoned, killed, or converted to various religions to escape punishment or death. 

Even today, all over Israel, are posters and signs proclaiming a certain man as Melech Mashiach (King Messiah):  Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson, also known as the Lubavitcher Rebbe or just “the Rebbe” among his followers. 

Rabbi Schneerson was born in the Soviet Union on April 5, 1902 and became a prominent Chassidic rabbi—the seventh and last Chassidic leader (rebbe) of the Chabad-Lubavitch sect of Judaism.  After the death of his father-in-law in 1951, Schneerson became the leader of the Lubavitch movement until he died in 1994.  Although he worked to promote traditional Judaism and moral values and contributed greatly to the worldwide Jewish community, he never announced himself as the Jewish Messiah, as some of his followers claimed. 

Chasidic-Jewish-Men-Jerusalem-Sukkot

Chasidic Jewish men praying at the Western (Wailing) Wall in Jerusalem

In fact, Rabbi Schneerson discouraged all such talk as foolish and unfounded.  

In contrast, Yeshua clearly and openly proclaimed Himself to be the Messiah that the Jewish People were eagerly anticipating, patiently awaiting and passionately longing for. 

When Yeshua met the Samaritan woman at the well, He told her that He was the Messiah.   

“The woman said, ‘I know that Messiah’ (called Christ) ‘is coming.  When he comes, he will explain everything to us.’  Then Yeshua declared, “I, the one speaking to you—I am He.”  (John 4:25–26) 

Yeshua also publicly proclaimed his Messianic mission in the synagogue.  When He received an aliyah (a call to come up and read from the Torah scroll) in the synagogue on one particular Sabbath day, He was handed the scroll of Isaiah, which He unrolled to the well-known Messianic prophecy of Isaiah 61:1–2: 

“The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor.  He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”  (Luke 4:18–19) 

To everyone’s amazement, this simple carpenter, son of Joseph, then rolled up the scroll and sat down, saying, “Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.”  (Luke 4:21) 

Chasidic-prayer-Wall

A young ultra-Orthodox Jewish man prays at the Western (Wailing) Wall in Jerusalem.

Recognizing the True Messiah 

“The Spirit of the LORD will rest on Him.”  (Isaiah 11:2) 

Jewish people have looked for centuries for a Messianic deliverer who would bring world peace. 

With so many false messiah’s out there, how can we recognize the true Messiah?  How can we be sure that Yeshua (Jesus) is truly the Moshiach or know that someone like Rabbi Schneerson is not? 

Yeshua warned us to beware of the numerous false messiahs and false prophets that would arise in the last days, performing signs and wonders to deceive people, even the very elect.   Yeshua said, 

“Watch out that no one deceives you.  For many will come in my name, claiming, ‘I am the Messiah,’ and will deceive many.”  (Matthew 24:4–5) 

“At that time if anyone says to you, ‘Look, here is the Messiah!’ or, ‘There he is!’ do not believe it.  For false messiahs and false prophets will appear and perform great signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect.  See, I have told you ahead of time.”  (Matthew 24:23–25) 

The fact that so many people in Israel and around the world believe that the late Rabbi Schneerson is the Messiah is one more sign that we are truly in the end times. 

Rabbi_Schneerson

Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson

To distinguish the real Messiah from false messiahs, we must rely on the Word of God for answers. 

There are at least 333 Messianic prophecies in the Jewish Scriptures that describe the real Messiah. 

Yeshua’s entire ancestry, birth, character, teaching, ministry, life, death, burial and resurrection were prophesied by 25 Jewish writers hundreds of years before His birth. 

The following is a list of just a few of these, which point to Yeshua as “Mashiach” and disqualify Rabbi Schneerson or other false messiahs: 

  • He will be born in Bethlehem (Beit-Lechem) (Micah 5:2, Matthew 2:1) 
  • He will be born to a virgin and will be called God With Us (Isaiah 7:14, Matthew 1:23) 
  • He will be despised and rejected by his own people (Isaiah 53:3, John 1:11, John 5:43) 
  • He will suffer terribly (Isaiah 53:3, Matthew 26:38) 
  • He will be pierced and wounded for our sins (Isaiah 53:5, Psalm 22:16, Luke 23:33) 
Yeshua-Cross

The Tree of Sacrifice

  • He will take upon himself the punishment that we all deserve (Isaiah 53:5, 1 Peter 2:24)

  • He will not open his mouth in his own defense (Isaiah 53:7, Matthew 27:1214)

  • He will die a violent, premature death (Isaiah 53:8,12, Luke 23:46)

  • He will die with the wicked but be buried with the rich (Isaiah 53:9, Matthew 27:57–60)

  • He will be raised from the dead to life (Psalm 16:10, Acts 2:29–32, Matthew 28:5–6)

  • He will sit on the throne of His father, David, and rule forever (Isaiah 9:6–7, Luke 1:30–33)

The Messianic Prophecy Bible will go to great lengths to explain all of these Messianic Prophecies and more so that the Jewish People will be able to read in a Jewish Bible the truth about Yeshua HaMashiach! 

Many of these prophecies have already been fulfilled in the true Messiah, Yeshua.  Others remain to be completed at His second coming.  This also will be explained.  

The Word of God testifies about Messiah in other ways, as well; for instance, even Biblical holy days like Passover, which is so rich in symbolism, testify of Messiah! 

And even though the eighth day of Passover, Acharon Shel Pesach, is a manmade addition to Passover, it is an incredibly powerful testimony of Yeshua, the Lamb of God, whose blood saves us from all sin and judgment. 

For instance, a special feast called Moshiach’s Seuda (festive meal, banquet) is held in honor of the Messiah on this eighth day of Passover. 

This final day is only celebrated in the Diaspora (Jews in living exile outside Israel) because it testifies of their future redemption when the Jewish People will live in their own Land and Messiah will reign in Jerusalem.  

Passover-Haifa-Elijah-tomb-shofar

An Orthodox Jewish man blows the shofar in Elijah’s Cave in Haifa on Passover.  The Bible states that Elijah’s coming will precede the coming of the Messiah.

Moshiach’s Seuda is the third meal of the day, and the essential elements of this final meal are the four cups of wine and the unleavened bread (matzah) of the Passover.  Amazingly, this wine and bread are received as symbols of the “very flesh and blood” of the Messiah!  (lchiamweekly) 

This is reminiscent of Yeshua’s testimony to His disciples as they ate the Passover together, when He proclaimed to them salvation through His imminent death: 

“While they were eating, Yeshua took bread [matzah], and when He had given thanks, He broke it and gave it to His disciples, saying, ‘Take and eat; this is My body.’  Then He took a cup, and when He had given thanks, He gave it to them, saying, ‘Drink from it, all of you.  This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.’”  (Luke 22:19) 

Pesach-wine-matzah

Matza and wine

While belief in the Messiah is a Jewish belief, statements that Yeshua HaMashiach (Jesus the Messiah) made such as “Take and eat; this is My body” have been perceived as alien to Judaism despite the matzah and wine elements of the Moshiach’s Seuda, which is celebrated in Chasidic Judaism.