The four cups of Passover are an integral part of the Passover celebration. They stand for each of the four promises the Lord makes to His people in Exodus 6:6-7.
The Cup of Sanctification : the first cup of the Passover Seder
“I will bring you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians.”
The first cup is the cup of sanctification. Four cups of wine are poured during the course of the Seder. When drinking the cup of sanctification we recite, “I will bring you out from Egypt.” Isn’t the Lord wonderful? Think about it, the children of Israel were enslaved in Egypt for 400 years. Their tears were bitter! They started out their time as dignified guests but with time and regime change, they became slaves. The yoke of slavery was burdensome and heavy. During Passover, we remember how God brought the children of Israel out from slavery and made us into a great nation with a name and a great purpose. You see, Israel always had a purpose and calling—to be light to the nations (Isaiah 42:6, Isaiah 49:6, Acts 13:47) and to bring Messiah Jesus into the world! Without the Jewish people, without Passover, we would not have the Messiah—what a humbling thought!
When drinking the cup of sanctification, we remember God bringing Israel out of slavery and the miracle that the Messiah came through the line of David. We also earnestly pray for the many Jewish people who are still in spiritual slavery, who have yet to embrace Jesus, their very own Messiah.
The Cup of Deliverance : the second cup of the Passover Seder
“I will rescue you from their bondage.”
These days, no one likes to talk about the judgment of the Lord. Yet, it is a biblical truth that all people, both Jew and Gentile, are under God’s judgment unless they accept salvation, that is, substitutionary atonement, through Jesus the Messiah (Romans 5:9, 1 Cor. 15:1-5, John 14:6). There are teachings out there that say Jewish people do not need Jesus to be made right with God—but this is against the very Gospel itself. In John 14:6 Jesus says, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life: no one comes to the Father but through me.” Even in the story of Passover itself—the children of Israel could not rest on their status as Israelites. They had to respond to the method that God chose—the slaying of the Passover lamb—to be spared from the 10th plague of the slaying of the firstborn. In the same way, until the Jewish people respond to Jesus, the way of eternal salvation, Jewish people are still under God’s judgment. Romans 1:16 says, “For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.”
Let us have a sense of urgency as we share with our Jewish friends and family, knowing that just as the children of Israel escaped Egypt in haste, so is our time on earth fleeting – each moment is precious. I encourage you to share Jesus with your Jewish friend or family member and perhaps even invite him or her to a Chosen People Ministries Passover Banquet near you!
The Cup of Redemption: the third cup of the Passover Seder
“I will redeem you with an outstretched arm.”
The Cup of Redemption is the third cup of the Passover Seder and is the first cup to be drunk after the meal. It is believed that it is the Cup of Redemption that Jesus instructed the disciples to partake of in the last supper, since both accounts in Matthew 26:27 and Luke 22:19 describe the cup being taken after the meal. Luke’s account even refers to the last meal Jesus had with his disciples as “Passover” (Luke 17:15). In this verse specifically, Jesus tells His disciples: “I have earnestly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer.” The Cup of Redemption traditionally signifies the slaying of the Passover lamb that spared the Israelites from the 10th plague of the slaying of the first born. This cup traditionally remembers how the Lord redeems Israel with an outstretched arm.
Therefore, it is so very poignant when Jesus tells His disciples that the wine in this cup is “My blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for forgiveness of sins.” As the blood of the Passover Lamb covered the believing Israelites and Egyptians back in Egypt, so the blood of Jesus covers Jewish and Gentile believers today!
The Cup of Praise : the fourth cup of the Passover Seder
“I will take you as My people.”
The 4th cup of the Seder is the Cup of Praise. When drinking this cup, we sing and rejoice that Israel was made into a nation at Sinai! The leader of the Seder says that Lord has remembered us; and to this day, God has remembered the everlasting covenant that He made with Abraham in Genesis 17:7. Traditionally we sing Dayenu—“it would have been enough” – and psalms of praise. In the song Dayenu, we thank God for delivering us from the Egyptians, bringing us through the Sea of Reeds, and bringing us forth as Am Yisrael, the people of Israel!
However, this cup tastes bittersweet, since those of us outside of Israel remember that we are still in the Diaspora, exile from the Land. More observant Jewish people refer to the diaspora as “the galut” which is the Hebrew word for exile. In traditional Judaism today, it is commonly understood that the destruction of the Second Temple in 70 AD, and resulting exile from the Land is God’s punishment to the Jewish people for “baseless hatred” of the people against one another in the first century. Even though our people have been partially restored to Israel, our historical homeland, among traditional Jewish people there is still a sense of longing and expectation, as not all exiles have been regathered from the four corners of the earth, and Messiah has not yet come–but of course He has!
Even within the shame of galut–there is hope that this state of exile is temporary, just as the punishment of a loved child is temporary. Within the heaviness of the punishment of exile, there is a hope when drinking this 4th cup, that God will forgive, restore the Jewish people, bring them back to the Land of Israel and that the Messiah will finally come! I don’t know about you, but my heart leaps at this promise!
The ministry of Messiah speaks to each of these four promises:
Messiah sanctifies us – “And for their sakes I sanctify Myself, that they also may be sanctified by the truth” (John 17:19).
Messiah delivers us – “And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free” (John 8:32).
Messiah redeems us – “But when the fullness of the time had come, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, that we might receive the adoption as sons” (Galatians 4:4-5).
Messiah is our joy – “These things I have spoken to you, that My joy may remain in you, and that your joy may be full” (John 15:11).
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