The Seder – a Denial of Christ
ADVENTISTS ARE BEGINNING TO OBSERVE THE SEDER — by Vance Ferrell
The Seder - a Denial of Christ
The Passover Service ended at the death of Christ.
But Jews, denying Christ as their Saviour, have continued
celebrating it down to the present time. After
the Temple was destroyed in A.D. 70, the Jewish
people switched to a family Passover, held in the
home—which eventually acquired the name, “seder.”
As we will learn below, in the middle of the meal,
the father of the home tells everyone that, since there is
no sacrifice of a lamb at the Temple anymore (since there
is no Temple now in Jerusalem), the family has “no sacrifice
to make them righteous.”
Thus, everyone who participates in the seder has
rejected the Great Sacrifice—the death of Christ on
Calvary. For this reason, no genuine Christian should
take part in a seder, with its wine drinking and ceremonial
repudiation of Christ as our Sacrifice and Mediator.
In the place of the Passover meal, Christ instituted
the Lord’s Supper just before His sacrificial
death on our behalf. That is the only commemorative
meal we are to attend.
While the Jewish seder looks forward to the first
arrival of their messiah, the Lord’s Supper looks back
to the first advent of the Christian Messiah.
Surprisingly, some Seventh-day Adventist Churches
are beginning to have complete seder services at their
churches at Passover time (in April this year)—at about
the same time that Orthodox Jews will be holding their
In view of this fact, you may want to know more
about this ceremonial meal which was devised by Jewish
rabbis over a period of centuries after A.D. 70, to
help comfort their flocks and encourage them to keep
hoping that the promised Messiah would one day appear.
As we will learn below, one of their predictions is
that He will arrive in the evening while they are sitting
at the table during one of their seders.
The Passover Seder (or say-der) (the Hebrew word
literally means “order” or “arrangement”) is a special
Jewish ritual which takes place on the first evening of
the Jewish holiday of Passover (the 15th day of Nisan
in the Hebrew calendar) in the nation of Israel, and on
the first and second evenings of Passover (the 15th and
16th days of Nisan) among Orthodox Jews outside of
Israel (in the Jewish diaspora).
Reading from the Haggadah—At a special meal,
portions of the Haggadah are read and explained to all
who are present, about how the Jews were enslaved in
Egypt and then left one night.
While the Haggadah is read, those at the table drink
Four Cups of Wine, eat the matzo, and other symbolic
foods placed on the Passover Seder Plate.
The Mitzvah—The seder is an integral aspect of
Jewish faith and identity; it is part of their ceremonial
laws, as given in the Haggadah, which is a heavily revised
and changed Biblical Passover service.
It is considered a mitzvah to embellish one’s retelling
of the Exodus on this night, telling many imagined
details of what happened during the Exodus. Often the
seder lasts into the early hours of the morning of the
next day, as participants continue to learn Torah, talk
about the events of the night, and sing special Passover
songs included in the Haggadah.
Where held—Unlike other public holiday observances
that are traditionally held in the synagogue, the
seder is specifically designed to be conducted by a family
at home, with or without guests. (However, the seder
may also be conducted by any group of Orthodox Jewish
believers.) This focus is derived from the opening
words of the Torah verse which is the source for the
mitzvah of retelling the Exodus from Egypt: Vehegadeta
levincha bayom hahu leymor ba’avur zeh asah Adonay
li betzaysi miMitzrayim - “And you shall tell it to your
son on that day, saying ‘Because of this God did for me
when He took me out of Egypt’ ” (Exodus 13:8).
The words and rituals of the seder are a teaching
device for the transmission of the Jewish faith (as revised
during the Dark Ages since Christ) from parent to
child and from one generation to the next.
What happens during a seder?
Removing the leaven—Before the beginning of the
Passover, all leaven must be removed from the Jewish
home. First, the house is cleaned from top to bottom;
and anything containing leaven is removed. Then, the
evening before the Passover, the father of the house takes
the traditional cleaning implements: a feather, a wooden
spoon, and a bag, and searches the house for any specks
of leaven which might have been missed. He may spend
an hour or two looking in all the drawers, etc.
Setting the table—The table set for the beginning
of the Passover Seder includes the Passover Seder Plate
(front center), saltwater, three shmurah matzo (rear
center), and two or more bottles of kosher wine. (As we
will learn below, everyone, including the smallest child,
drinks quite a bit of it.) A Hebrew language Haggadah
sits beside each place setting.
Washing hands—Once the leaven is removed, the
family sits around the table and ceremonially washes
their hands with a special laver and towel.
Lighting the candles—Once the house and the
participants are ceremonially clean, the Passover Seder
can begin. The woman of the house asks God to bless
the food. Then she lights the Passover candles.
Haggadah—As the lengthy meal begins and continues,
portions from the Jewish Haggadah are read.
The first cup of wine—The seder begins with a
blessing recited over the first of four cups of wine:
“Blessed art thou, Lord our God, King of the Universe,
who hast created the fruit of the vine.”
The second cup of wine—The second cup of wine
is drunk next. It is to remind the group of the Ten Plagues
and the suffering of the Egyptians. Each of the Ten
Plagues is recited; and, as each one is mentioned, a drop
of wine is spilled on the plate by each person present.
Afikomen—A very curious ceremonial tradition
occurs next. At the table is a bag with three compartments
and three pieces of motza. The middle piece of
motza is taken out, broken, and half is put back into
the bag. The other half is wrapped in a linen napkin
and hidden, to be taken out later, after the meal.
(Matzo—also matzoh, matzah, matza, motza— is a
Jewish food item made of plain flour and water, which
is not allowed to ferment or rise before it is baked. The
result is a flat, crispy, cracker-like bread, with no leaven
The seder plate—Over the centuries, the rabbis
devised a series of object lessons to keep the attention
of the little ones during the Passover Seder. These items
are tasted by each person, as each is instructed to feel
as if they themselves had taken part in the flight from
Here they are:
• Karpas (greens)—The first item taken is the
karpas, or greens (usually parsley), which is a symbol
of life. The parsley is dipped in saltwater, a symbol of
tears, and eaten, to remind us that life for our Jewish
ancestors was immersed in tears.
• Beitzah (egg)—A roasted egg is on the seder plate,
to bring to mind the roasted daily temple sacrifice that
no longer can be offered because the Temple no longer
stands. In the very midst of the Passover Seder, the Jewish
people are reminded, by the one leading out at the
seder, that they have no sacrifice to make them righteous
That is a significant admission! It also means that
everyone who takes part in the seder agrees that he has
no sacrifice or mediator between him and God. We know
that, after the death of Christ, the earthly Passover no
longer has any significance. Therefore, to take part in
the seder is to deny Christ our Lord.
• Maror (bitter herb)—Maror is usually ground
horseradish; and enough is eaten (with Motza) to bring
a tear to the eyes. It is to remind those at the table of
the bitterness of slavery, which their Jewish ancestors
experienced in Egypt.
• Charoset—Charoset is a sweet mixture of chopped
apples, chopped nuts, honey, cinnamon, and a little
Manischewitz grape wine (kosher for Passover) just for
color! This sweet, pasty, brown mixture is symbolic of
the mortar that our Jewish ancestors used to build
bricks in the land of Egypt. The question is asked, Why
do we remember an experience so bitter with something
so sweet? The leader at the table then explains that the
rabbis say it is to remind all Jews that the promised
Jewish Messiah is yet to appear.
Shankbone of the lamb—In every Jewish home,
on every seder plate, is a bare shankbone of a lamb,
stripped of meat. That is to remind those at the table of
the blood of the lamb which was placed on the doorpost
and lintel of the home.
The meal—Next comes the meal: steaming hot
chicken soup with huge, fluffy motza balls; other motza,
in the form of crackers; slices of pungent, homemade
gefilte fish with just-ground make-you-cry horseradish;
more motza; chopped liver (with lots of schmaltz and
crunchy fried onions) on a bed of lettuce; more motza;
enough delectable green salad to feed a colony of hungry
rabbits; more motza; more crispy fried onions on the
side; more motza—and that was just the appetizer!
Next comes the meal! Tender, sweet brisket with
cabbage; more motza; homemade flanken; stewed
chicken, roasted chicken, broiled chicken, boiled chicken,
sautéed chicken, baked chicken; more motza; a whole
roasted turkey; more motza; fresh-cut green beans with
onions; more motza; carrot and prune tzimmes; more
motza; sweet potato and raisin tzimmes; more motza;
homemade mashed potatoes swimming in butter; more
motza—and on it goes! Remember that this meal lasts
for hours; and the celebration often continues until early
the next morning.
(Schmaltz or schmalz is rendered chicken or goose
fat used for frying or as a spread on bread. Schmaltz,
rendered from a kosher-slaughtered chicken or goose,
is popular in Jewish cuisine; it was used by Northwestern
and Eastern European Jews who were forbidden,
by dietary laws, to fry their meats in butter or
lard, the common forms of cooking fat in Europe.)
(Tzimmes or tsimmes is a traditional Jewish casserole.
It is a sweet dish, a combination of fruit, meat,
and vegetables cooked slowly over very low heat, flavored
with honey and sometimes cinnamon.)
The Search for the afikomen—After the meal is
finished, and most are too stuffed to get up from the
table, the leader of the seder lets the children loose to
hunt for the afikomen, which was wrapped in a napkin
and hidden somewhere in the house. The home is in a
ruckus as everyone rushes around to be the first to find
the afikomen and claim the prize (usually about $5.00);
and Grandpa redeems the afikomen from the lucky locator.
Once the leader has retrieved the afikomen, he
breaks it up into pieces and distributes a small piece to
everyone seated around the table. Jewish people don’t
really understand either the origin or meaning of this
ceremonial tradition, but they happily enjoy it. However,
it is widely believed that these pieces of Afikomen bring
a good, long life to those who eat them.
Elijah’s cup—A place setting at the table remains
empty for Elijah the prophet, the honored guest at every
Passover table. The Jewish people expect Elijah to come
during the Passover Seder and announce the coming of
the Messiah (Malachi 4:5). So a place is set, a cup is
filled with wine, and hearts are expectant for Elijah to
come and announce the good news that the Messiah
has come to deliver them, by conquering their enemies.
At the end of the seder meal, a child is sent to the
door to open it and see if Elijah is there. Every year, the
child returns, disappointed; and the wine is poured out
without being touched.
Third Cup—With everyone once again settled at the
table, the meal is now officially ended; it is now time to
drink the third cup of wine. This is the cup; everyone is
reminded by the leader that, although the Messiah did
not come this time, He will soon come and redeem them.
Fourth Cup—As if that is not enough wine, it is
now time for the fourth cup: the Cup of Hallel. The word,
hallel, in Hebrew means “praise.” After four cups of wine
inside every man, woman, and child at the table, they
must surely feel in a happy mood!
What is the origin of the Haggadah?—Where did
this Haggadah come from, which is read to everyone in
attendance at the seder? The Haggadah, which includes
the order of the Passover Seder, is very important in the
home of every Orthodox Jew. This is because it contains
a promise that the Messiah is soon to come. It is
this promise that the faithful rely on. It also helps them
resist suggestions, by Christians, that they should accept
Christ as their Saviour. —For has not the
Haggadah promised them a future Messiah?
According to Jewish tradition, the Haggadah was
compiled during the Mishnaic and Talmudic periods;
but the exact time is not known.
The Haggadah could not have been written earlier
than the time of Rabbi Yehudah bar Elaay (around 170
B.C.), who is the latest tanna (expert) to be quoted in
the Haggadah. According to most Talmudic commentaries,
Rav and Shmuel argued about the compilation
of the Haggadah; and hence it was not completed by
However the Malbim, along with a minority of Jewish
rabbis, believed that Rav and Shmuel were not arguing
about its compilation, but its interpretation; and
hence it was completed by then. According to this explanation,
the Haggadah was written during the lifetime
of Rav Yehudah haNasi, the compiler of the Mishna.
The Malbim theorizes that the Haggadah was written
by Rav Yehudah haNasi himself. —We will stay out of
Nevertheless all commentators agree that it was
completed by the time of Rav Nachman (mentioned in
Pesachim 116a). But there is a dispute as to which Rav
Nachman the Talmud was referring to. According to
some commentators, this was Rav Nachman bar Yaakov
(around A.D. 280), while others maintain this was Rav
Nachman bar Yitzchak (A.D. 360).
Now you know the story behind the seder; so you
will be prepared when the leaders at your local church
want to have a seder in the spring of the year. —vf