Nissan 1 is the beginning of the Biblical new year, at the first appearance of the “new moon.” To understand Hebrew dates, you must understand that the Jewish calendar is a lunar calendar (versus the solar, Gregorian calendar used by the majority of the world). Though I won’t go into great detail about how the lunar calendar works, suffice it to say that, in general, it follows a 30-day cycle based on phases of the moon. Hebrew years always begin in the spring and, this year, Nissan 1 fell on April 9. (See a calendar comparison here.) Keep in mind, also, that a Jewish day begins at sunset.
Given that basic foundation, let’s turn our focus to this new Jewish/Biblical year! Spring is marked by the first of three annual pilgrimage festivals: Pesach, meaning “passed over.” (Thus, “Passover” in English!) While the new year begins at new moon, Pesach begins during the first full moon of the year. Pesach is an 8-day “feast of freedom” celebrating the deliverance from Egyptian bondage, as the angel of the Lord “passed over” those who killed the Passover Lamb and put blood on the doorposts. (Read the entire account in Exodus 12.)
Technically, Passover is a 1-day holiday commemorating that day of deliverance, but it is followed immediately by the 7-day Feast of Unleavened Bread. In Israel today, though, the entire 8 days are a remembrance of the birth of Israel as a nation, and is thus celebrated as such.
For Messianic Jews and Christians, Pesach marks the liberation of the world from the curse of sin. Jesus, the Passover Lamb, fulfilled all that Pesach represents! As we approach Pesach (Passover) this coming Friday evening, let’s be mindful of the sacrifice Jesus made so that we might have eternal life. But let’s also pray for the Passover Lamb…Jesus Himself…to be revealed to our Jewish friends.
Happy Lord’s Day!