How Does the Coronavirus
Affect Passover?

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Should believers keep the Christian Passover in the midst of a pandemic like the 2020 Coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak? What options does God offer those who, wanting to obey him, find themselves dealing with a sickness, emergency, or other unique situation that keeps them from observing this sacred ceremony?

The Christian Passover commemorates the sacrifice of Jesus Christ which makes forgiveness and the New Covenant possible (John 1:29, 1Corinthians 10:16 - 17, 11:23 - 26). Each year believers meet to participate in acts such as foot washing, as well as imbibing unleavened bread and wine, which have profound Biblical meanings.

God considers this observance so important that he has provided a second Passover date (Iyar 14) for those unable to participate in the first one (Abib 14). This service (Numbers 9:10 - 11) is for those who, due to emergencies or circumstances beyond their control (e.g. the Coronavirus), cannot meet with fellow believers at the originally specified time.

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Exceptions to the rule

Several Israelite men, in the year after the Exodus, were unable to keep the Passover because they were rendered ceremonially unclean due to a dead body (Numbers 9:6 - 7, Leviticus 7:20 - 21). Concerned about their inability to keep the sacred ceremony they went to Moses who, in turn, took their concerns to the Lord (Numbers 9:8). God's response is quite revealing, as it shows his perfect love was willing to adapt his laws to handle new situations.

The Passover
The Passover
Palma Giovane, 1580 - 81

The Lord declared that the defiled men could still fulfill their obedience to him by keeping, one month later (Iyar 14), the same Passover they missed (Numbers 9:11 - 12). The Eternal even added another exception where those on a long journey could also keep this "in case of emergency" later date when they came back home (verse 10).

Holy Day Dates

Dates for the first (Abib 14) and second (Iyar 14) Passover services, which should be observed right after sunset on the days listed below, are as follows.

Tuesday, April 7
Thursday, May 7
Friday, April 11
Sunday, May 11
Friday, March 26
Sunday, April 25
Tuesday, March 31
Thursday, April 30
Thursday, April 14
Saturday, May 14
Tuesday, April 20
Thursday, May 20
Tuesday, April 4
Thursday, May 4
Sunday, April 9
Tuesday, May 9
Sunday, April 21
Tuesday, May 21
Thursday, March 29
Saturday, April 28
Tuesday, April 16
Thursday, May 16

New Testament applications

God's perfect will is for his people, under normal circumstances, to keep the Passover at its appointed time (Numbers 9:2 - 3). The second date for keeping the ceremony should be utilized only by those who find themselves in an uncommon and unavoidable situation (e.g. the spread of Coronavirus). As a warning against misusing this exception, however, the Lord does reserve the right to punish those who forego the ceremony out of selfish reasons (verse 13).

Those hospitalized or are otherwise dealing with emergencies are clear candidates for taking the second Passover. Since the foot washing part of this service requires at least two Christians, those traveling by themselves can also avail themselves of the later date.

Judgment required

Many situations, however, require a judgment based on personal prayer and study to determine whether a person qualifies for the later observance. For example, just before spring in 2020, the Coronavirus began to spread rapidly around the world. The disease is known to be easier to transmit than the common flu and can be unknowingly spread for several days before symptoms appear.

Certain groups such as the elderly, those with respiratory problems, those with chronic illnesses (e.g. diabetes) and others are susceptible to the worse consequences of the Coronavirus (e.g. death) if they become infected. Given such risks, out of Christian love, a believer should seriously consider not observing Passover at its appointed time (even in a small group) but rather wait one month and then observe it if possible.

Short of a pandemic, a person who can keep Passover at its appointed time, but who has a sickness, infection or other condition that could adversely affect others (especially elderly members) should also consider observing the second Passover out of concern for others.

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