The Feast Days of Israel
By Clovis E. Miller
The feast days of Israel are an outline of God's prophetic plan for the redemption of mankind. These are found, in their fullest form in the Book of Leviticus (Chapter 23). They are also referred to in other passages such as Exodus Chapter 12, Numbers Chapter 28-29, and in Deuteronomy Chapter 16.
In the Book of Leviticus we want to read from Chapter 23: 1-38.
From this passage of Scripture we learn that there are a total of seven festivals, or feast days, on God's prophetic calender, and these can be divided into 2 groups:
Those of the Spring (there are 4 of them):
2) Unleavened Bread
4) Feast of Weeks or Ingathering
The first 3 of these feasts were to be observed in the 1st month of the religoius calender which is called Nissan or Abib; and the 4th feast was to be observed in the 3rd month which is called Sivan.
This was following by the growing season which is (the summer time)
Then there are (3) Feast days in the Fall:
5) The Feast of Trumpets
6) The Day of Atonement
7) The Feast of Tabernacles
All three of these festivals are observed in the 7th month of the Jewish calendar. That month is called Tishri.
The first four feasts speak to the first coming of Messiah who we know to be Jesus. The last three speak of his second coming and the establishment of God's Kingdom on Earth. Zechariah said that in that day, "The Lord shall be King over all the earth" (14:9)
Jesus, as the pre-incarnate Word of God, had a mission set before him to complete. And here is what the Feast Days of Israel tell us about that mission:
Jesus was to be born into this world and die as the Passover Lamb of God. We are told this in the New Testament:
In John 1: 29 John the Baptist said, "Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world"
The Apostle Paul also stated that , "Christ our Passover is sacrificed for us". (I Cor.5:7)
By his death on the Cross, Jesus literally fulfilled this feast day in the very smallest detail .
The Second feast is the Feast of Unleavened Bread, which is a seven day festival which begins and ends with sabbaths or days of rest.
How did Jesus fulfill this feast?
Jesus declared that he was "the bread of life" which came down from heaven.
John 6:32 -35 states,
32) "Then Jesus said to them, Most assuredly, I say to you, Moses did not give you the bread from heaven, but My Father gives you the true bread from heaven.
33) For the bread of God is He who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world."
34) And they said to him, "Lord give us this bread always."
35) And Jesus said to them, I am the bread of life. He who comes to me shall never hunger, and he who believes in me shall never thirst."
Jesus declared that he was the "Bread of Life"
Jesus was born at Bethlehem.
The word, Bethlehem, in Hebrew means "House of Bread". In Hebrew it's pronounced "Bayth - Lekh' em". So Jesus "the bread of life" which came down from Heaven, came to us through the House of Bread. The word Hebrew word, Lekh'em, can also refer to the grain from which bread is made.
Jesus said "....unless a grain of wheat falls into the ground and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it produces much grain." (John 12:24). This was a prophetic reference not only to his death, burial and resurrection, but also to the Church which would grow out of it (the church, being the "much grain" which he referred to).
In Mark 14:22, Jesus broke the bread on the Passover, gave it to his disciples and said, "Take, eat; this is my body." The Scriptures are clear that the Feast of Unleavened Bread pointed to Jesus. The "matzah" or bread which is used used during the Passover season was made without leaven (which is the rising agent) Leaven is a type of sin.
The bread was, and still is, cooked on a grill causing it to have a striped appearance (Isa. 53:5 declares, "...with his stripes we are healed.), I Peter 2:24 (says, "By whose stripes ye were healed").
The Bread is also perforated with small holes to help the baking process (Psalms 22:16 records, "They pierced my hands and my feet") ( In Zechariah 12:10 we find, "They shall look upon me whom they have pierced.") This theme is repeated in John 19:34. Then also in the Book of Revelation Chapter 1 verse 7 we read: "Behold, He is coming with clouds, and every eye will see him, even they who pierced him."
It's interesting that in the Jewish Passover service, there are three pieced of Matzah or bread stacked on the table. Near the beginning of the Passover meal, the middle piece of bread is taken out and broken. It is then wrapped in a piece of linen cloth and hidden away.
There are four cups of wine which are drank during the Passover service. The third cup is called "The Cup of Redemption". When they get to the third cup, in that part of the service, the matzah or bread which had been wrapped in the linen and hidden away, is brought back to the table, unwrapped and all of those at the table take a piece of the bread and eat it as they also share from that 3rd cup of wine. The Jewish people may not realize the symbolism of the broken bread or the 3rd cup of wine in connection with the Messiah. They also may not know that they are actually celebrating the communion service when they do that. Some day, however, the Lord will open their eyes to these truths and everything will be seen clearly.
Most of us, as Christians, too, do not realize that when we partake of communion, we are actually celebrating a part of the Passover service. Someday the Lord will also open all of our eyes to this fact
When I hear about the three cups of wine, it reminds me that the "Bread of Life" (that grain of wheat), was to remain in the heart of the earth for three days and three nights, just as Jonah was in the belly of the fish for the same length of time. That was a picture of the death and burial of the coming Messiah. After the three days and three nights, Messiah's Spirit returned to the tomb and to his body, and He was resurrected with the grave clothes being shed, as we are told in John 20:5. Then the purpose of the cup of redemption was fully realized.
The 3rd feast which Jesus fulfilled is called "Firstfruits". This was a very early harvesting of the grain by which a sample was brought before the Lord by the High Priest in order that the Lord might bless the fields of Israel that they would have an abundant crop for that year. This "wave offering" called an "omer", was to be presented before the Lord on the "morrow after the Sabbath", which was the Sunday which would occurr sometime during the 7 days of the Feast of Unleavened Bread. It's mentioned in Lev. 23:11.
This feast was fulfilled on that Sunday when Jesus came out of the Tomb. He abided with his followers for 40 days and then ascended to heaven to be seated at the right hand of the Father.
I Cor. 15:20 says, " But now Christ is risen from the dead, and has become the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep
The 4th Feast day of Israel is called the Feast of Weeks or "Ingathering". It is so called because the people were to count from the "morrow after the Sabbath" (which was Fristfruits) 7 Sabbaths (49 days). Then on the morning after the 7th Sabbath they were to make another wave offering to the Lord. One in which the wheat was more mature.
Jesus told his disciples to abide at Jerusalem until the Holy Spirit came and endued them with power. They were to then go unto the ends of the earth proclaiming the Gospel about Jesus.
That occurred 50 days after the resurrection of Jesus. The Church calls this day "Pentecost" but it was an actual fulfillment of the Feast of Weeks or Ingathering. The Jewish tradition holds that this was the day Moses brought the Law down from Mount Sinai and found the people worshipping the golden calf. In Exodus 32:25 Moses said," Whoever is on the Lords side -- come to me!" And all the sons of Levi gathered themselves together to him."
Here we have the first Ingathering.
Also --- on that day about three thousand people were slain. (EX. 32:28)
In contrast to this, on the day of Pentecost, when the Holy Spirit came down, those filled with the Spirit went out and preached to the people. Here the Feast of Weeks or In-gathering was fulfilled as about three thousand people were saved on that day. (Acts 2:41).
The contrast here is obvious:
By the breaking of the law came death, but by faith came salvation and life.
These are the four feast days of Israel which have been fulfilled so far.
Let's RECAP these:
1) Jesus was the Passover Lamb slain to take away the sin of the world.
2) He was the bread of life which came down from heave to us, thru the House of Bread : Bethlehem ; and he was the grain of wheat which fell into the earth and died.
3) He was the firstborn of many brethren; the firstborn from the dead, and the firstfruits from the grave.
4) Fifty days later on the Feast of In-gathering (which we call Pentecost) the Holy Spirit came down on the believers at Jerusalem and the Church was born. The process of harvesting the world began with the salvation of three thousand souls.
The 5th feast on God's timetable is called the Feast of Trumpets. This celebration was to begin on the 1st day of the 7th month (which is called Tishri). It is the first feast of the fall season and usually occurs in September or October of each year on our calender. In ancient Israel this was the month when the final harvest of the previous year had been completed.
You remember that the harvesting started back in the Spring during Passover week with "firstfruits"; it then continued with the Feast of Ingatherings (or Pentacost), and then this Feast finished up the harvest for the year and a new cycle was to begin. On most of our calendars it will appear under the name. Rosh Hashana, which means "Head of the Year".
With regard to this Feast, we may start by looking at the "Doctrine of Imminence" (Jesus could return at any moment of any day). Jesus himself warned the people not to become complacent, or to become abusive to others because we think he has delayed his return.
From our perspective the return of Jesus is imminent (We do not know what year - what day - what hour or what minute, Jesus will return for the Church.). We can all agree on that point.
On the other side, God the Father already knows the exact instant when Jesus will return. That day is already appointed by Him. Jesus stated this in Matthew 24:36. Some suggest that that day can be hastened by speeding up the work of evangelizing the world. What ever the case may be, since God is omniscient, he already sees all things in the future and already knows everything that will be done leading up to that day. So that it is not movable date based on what we do but rather a fixed date based on what the Father knows to be the facts.
In the Books of Matthew, Mark and Luke we are commanded repeatedly to watch for the return of Jesus.
Let's look at Matthew 24:36
Jesus said, "But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven. but My Father only," Now immediately we think, Here is the Scripture which establishes the Doctrine of Imminence. According to this we cannot know anything about the exact timing of the return of Jesus.
Let's remember here, that Jesus fulfilled the appointments of the first three feast of Israel perfectly (to the exact day!) These feast days or "convocations" which were observed yearly for more than 1,300 years prior to His death, and were to be rehearsals for the actual events.
You remember, He was crucified at Passover; He was in the Tomb at the start of Unleavened Bread, and came out of the tomb on Firstfruits " the morrow after the Sabbath" (which was the Sunday of Passover week).
Fifty days later, on the Feast of In-gathering (which we call Pentecost): on that exact day, the Church was born.
From the fulfillment of the first four feast days, We can be sure that on whatever day Jesus returns, it will be a fulfillment of the Feast of Trumpets.
The main Scriptures we have for this are given in I Thess. 4:16-17, and in I Cor. 15:51-52.
In I Thessalonians we read:
16) "For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first.
17) Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, And thus we shall always be with the Lord"
I Corinthians 15 says:
51) "Behold I tell you a mystery. We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed-
52) in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed."
If the first four feast were fulfilled precisely at the appointed time, doesn't it stand to reason that the Lord will also have last three to be fulfilled at the appointed times. Would the Lord have the first four to be carried out so precisely and then throw a cloud over the remaining three? That's possible but, I don't think thats the case.
How then can we understand this is such a way so that Jesus fulfills the prophecy of the Feast of Trumpets; and at the same time, it does not violate his words, that no man knows the day or hour of his return?
Can the Feast of Trumpets be fulfilled on the exact day, and at the same time have the day of his return remain as a mystery?
The answer to this question is YES!
The Apostle Paul said, "Behold, I show you a mystery..."
Let me explain how this might be possible:
When Jesus said that no man knows the day or the hour of his return, but only his Father in heaven knows that day; he was making a reference to something every Jew of his day would have understood.
The Feast Days of Israel are based on a Lunar calendar; which means that the feast days are set by the phases of the moon. Each month of the year begins with the sighting of the new moon.
The calendar is also a dual calendar. Our calendar normally runs from January 1st thru Dec. 31; The Government, on the other hand, uses a "Fiscal Calendar" which runs from July 1st thru June 30th of the next year. So that we, in effect, have two different new years days in our year.
The calendar of Israel is similiar. They have a religious calendar which runs from one Spring to the next Spring: then they also have a Civil Calendar which begins six months later, in early Fall and runs to the Fall of the next year. Nissan, the month of Passover, begins the religious calendar, and Tishri, the month of the Fall Feast days, begins the Civil Calendar.
Of the 7 feast days of Israel which are observed every year, only one begins on the day of the new moon (or the first day of the month) and that is Rosh Hashana or The Feast of Trumpets
It occurs on the 1st day of Tishri. That's would be the 7th month of the Religious calendar; but it's the 1st month of the Civil calendar of the Fall.
This is the way the beginning of the Feast of Trumpets was dealt with in the days when Jesus walked on the earth:
In order for the Feast of Trumpets to begin, it had to be established by the High Court in Jerusalem that the new moon had been sited. When that happened, the beginning of the month was determined.
And the way that was accomplished back then was that two reliable witnesses, who actually saw the very first light of the new moon, had to go to the High Court and declare to them that thay had seen the first light of the new moon.
When the Court was satisfied that they were indeed reliable witnesses, then, and only then, would it declare that the new month had begun and that the Feast of Trumpets could start. As soon as that had been decreed by the Court , messengers were sent out from Jerusalem to make known that the new month and the feast day were here. Because the appearance of the new moon could occur at any hour of the day or night, and due to delays often encountered by the messengers, The Feast of Trumpets became a two day festival: Tishri 1 and Tishri 2, and even though it was a 48 hour period, it was, and still is, counted by the jewish people as "one long day".
So what does this tell us?
It tells us that no one in all the land knew what day or hour that the day the Feast of Trumpets would begin, because no one in all the land knew what day or hour the new moon would be sited. Only God in heaven knew the day and hour when the new moon would be sited by the witnesses.
Now let's read Matthew 24:36 again,
Jesus said, "But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven. but My Father only,"
A scenario such as this would allow Jesus to fulfill the Feast of Trumpets at the precise time and not violate his words that no one knows the day and hour of his return.
I'm not trying to be dogmatic about this; but I hope that when that season gets here we will be mindful of the fact that the Feast of Trumpets is the next Feast to be completed on God's timetable, and that Jesus may well come back at that time.
What the fulfillment of this feast tells us is that Jesus will come back for his bride ( the church) which, with the sounding of the trumpet, will be taken to heaven. There, it will be for 7 years while the Tribulation period is going on in the earth. At the end of the 7 years, Jesus and His church will return to the earth for what is called "the Marriage Supper of the Lamb". This in itself is a whole seperate study.
Many people believe that the Marriage Supper will occur in Heaven; however, this is not in keeping with the ancient Jewish Marriage ceremony. In that, the bride is "stolen away" (usually in the middle of the night) and taken to the house of the groom's father, where a bridal chamber had been prepared. Upon arrival there the Bride and Groom entered the chamber where they remained for 7 days. During that 7 days alone, they learned everything about each other. Then after the 7 days were finished, the new Husband and wife come out of the chamber and they return to the wife's former home where they will celebrate the Marriage Supper.
The feast days themselves teach us that the church will be in heaven for seven years, which is the prophetic "70th week of Daniel"; after which the next feast day on the calendar will be fulfilled (that's the Day of Atonement which falls on the 10th day of Tishri, according to Scripture).
You remember that I said that the Feast of Trumpets is 2 day Feast (Tishri 1 and Tishri 2).
Between Tishri 2 and Tishri 10 (when the Day of Atonement is held) there are 7 days, which the Jewish people refer to as the " Days of Awe" or "the terrible days".
Let's COUNT: the Feast of Trumpets falls on Tishri 1 & 2
Tishri 3 -4 -5 -6 -7 -8 -9 --Seven days and then Day of Atonement begins.
The Day of Atonement is the 6th Feast day of Israel. This is the most solemn holy day of the year for the Jewish people. In that day there shall be no work done; it is also a day of fasting for the Scripture declares:
Lev. 23: 27" ... you shall afflict your souls, and offer an offering made by fire to the Lord.
28) And you shall do no work in that same day, for it is the Day of Atonement, to make atonement for you before the Lord your God.
29) for any person who is not afflicted in soul on that same day shall be cut off from his people."
How do we know that the Second coming of Jesus will occur on this day?
Firstly, after the fulfillment of the Feast of Trumpets, it's the next Feast day on the prophetic calendar to be fulfilled.
Secondly, in the Jewish understanding, on the Day of Atonement, the judgment or fate of each individual will be made known and sealed.
In Zechariah 12:10 it states:
"And I will pour on the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem the Spirit of grace and supplication; then they will look upon Me whom they pierced, Yes, they will mourn for Him as one mourns for his only son, and grieve for Him as one grieves for a firstborn.
12) And the land shall mourn, every family by itself..."
then in Chapter 13:6 we read:
"And one shall say unto him, What are these wounds in thine hands? Then he shall answer, These with which I was wounded in the house of my friends."
Revelation 1:7 makes reference to that day as well:
7) Behold He is coming with clouds, and every eye willl see Him, even they who pierced Him. And all the tribes of the earth will mourn because of Him..."
When Jesus comes at the end of the Tribulation period the Jews, not the Antichrist, will be in control of Jerusalem. This is confirmed in Zechariah 14.
1) "For I will gather all nations to battle against Jerusalem...
3) Then the Lord will go forth And fight against those nations. As he fights in the day of battle.
4) And in that day his feet will stand on the Mount of Olives."
The battle spoken of here is the Battle of Armageddon.
You will also recall that Jesus ascended to heaven from the Mount of Olives (Acts 1: 10-12) So shall he return to the same place to begin the fulfillment of the Festival day which is called "the Day of Atonement".
When the battle of Armageddon is finished; the Antichrist and False Prophet are cast into the Lake of Fire, and Satan is bound for a Thousand years (REV. 20).
On Tishri 1 (the Feast of Trumpets), it is understood that the Gates of heaven are opened that the righteous may enter in. At the end of Tishri 10 (the Day of Atonement) the gates of heaven are closed again. At the very end of the Day of Atonement the Jewish people have a service called ne'ila, during which a "great trumpet" is sounded which announces that the Day of Atonement is finished and that the gates of Heaven are now closed.
In Judaism there are three trumpets which have names:
There is the "first trumpet" which was sounded at Mount Sinai (Ex. 19:16)
There is also the "last trumpet" which the Jewish people believe will sound on the Feast of Trumpets, and the dead will be resurrected and judged. This is the trumpet the Apostle Paul spoke of.
Finally, there is the "great trumpet". This is the one which sounds to announce the end of the Day of Atonement.
Prophetically speaking, When Jesus comes back and puts down all opposition to God, then the Great Trumpet will sound, not only to close the Day of Atonement; but to announce the gathering of the saints from the four corners of the earth as it is prophesied in Matthew 24:31.
"And He will send His angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they will gather together His elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other."
That event brings us to the prophecy in Matthew 25:
31) "When the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the holy angels with Him, then will He sit upon the throne of His glory.
32) All nations will be gathered before Him, and he will seperate them one from another, as a shepherd divides his sheep from the goats.
33) And he will set the sheep on His right hand, but the goats on the left"
Now I would like to bring out a point about these verses:
Scripture tells us that Jesus is seated at the right hand of God the Father.
When He comes to judge the nations we are told that He will set the sheep (the righteous) on HIS right hand, but the goats (the wicked) will be on His left hand.
So what does this tell us?
It tell us that on the day of Judgement, Jesus will be seated (symbolically) between the Father and the Righteous shielding them from the wrath to come. The wicked on the other hand will be on the left hand, which places them between the Father and the Son; and we know that nothing can stand between the Father and the Son, so they will be taken and cast into the Lake of Fire according to Matt. 24:41.
The 7th and final Feast day of Israel, The Feast of Tabernacles, will be ushered in with the judgment of the nations in Matt. 25. It will be a 1,000 year transitional period when every vestige of sin and rebellion will be put down; and will culminate with a final rebellion led by Satan who will be released from the bottomless pit, only to be thrown into the Lake of Fire; then the destruction of the last enemy will come, which is DEATH.
After that Jesus will deliver up the kingdom to the Father and God shall make a new Heaven and earth and all the former problems of humanity will pass away.
Rev. 21:4 says, "And I heard a loud voice from heaven saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people, and God Himself will be with them and be their God."
The body of Jesus is the tabernacle of God.
Colossians 2:9 declares: "For in Him dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily."
Scripture also says:
"And the Lord shall be King over all the earth. In that day it shall be -- The Lord is One, and His name is one." (Zech. 14:9)
Rev. 19:12 tells us that when Jesus is revealed from heaven He will have a name "written that no one knew except himself".
When He comes back with the Saints, He is going to reveal that new name, which He has for Himself, to the world! English speaking people will no longer call Him Jesus; and Spanish people won't say Ha-soos; Jewish people won't call Him Ye-shua, nor will Thai people call Him Yaa-soo.
But in that day all people of the earth will pronounce his name the same way, as the Scripture states, "His name is one."
Jesus further stated in Rev. 3:12 that upon those who overcome during the Tribulation period, "I will write upon him My new name."
Scripture tells us that Jesus shall rule the earth with a "Rod of Iron". (Rev. 19:15). As stated, His rule and authority will begin with the judgment of the nations.
Jesus also said in Rev. 2, of those who overcome during the Great Tribulation:
26) "And he who overcomes, and keeps My works until the end, to him I will give power over the nations-
27) He shall rule them with a rod of iron; They shall be dashed to pieces like the potter's vessel."
Here Jesus is repeating what the Father told Him in Psalm 2: verses 7-9.
By this time Man will have gone thru all of the different forms of Government:
Monarchy = which is The rule of the King
Oligarchy = The rule of the Few
Democracy = The Rule of the People
and then will come the final form:
Theocracy = The rule of God
Webster's Dictionary defines Theocracy as:
"Government by priest claiming to rule by Divine authority."
Rev. 1:6 states the Jesus has made us "kings and priest to His God and Father."
Again in chapter 5 verse 10 it says. that He has, " made us kings and priest to our God; and we shall reign on earth."
This will be fulfilled by the 1,000 year reign over all the earth by Jesus and His saints.
The 1,000 year fulfillment of the Feast of Tabernacles will be the most glorious time the world has seen to date. Righteousness will be the rule of the day, and sin will be looked down on. It will be the total opposite of what is going on in the world today. There's indication in Scripture however, that some rebellion will remain:
Zechariah 14:16-17 states:
16) "And it shall come to pass that everyone who is left of all the nations which came against Jerusalem shall go up from year to year to worship the King the Lord of host, and to keep the Feast of Tabernacles.
17) And it shall be that whichever families of the earth do not come up to Jerusalem to worship the King, the Lord of host, on them there will be no rain."
I Cor. 15: 24-26
24) Then comes the end, when He delivers the kingdom to God the Father, when He puts an end to all rule and authority and power.
25) "For He must reign till He has put all enemies under His Feet.
26) The last enemy that will be destroyed is death"
This is confirmed in Rev 20:
14) "Then Death and Hades were cast into the lake of fire, This is the second death.
15) And anyone not found written in the Book of Life was cast into the Lake of Fire."
We will stop, at this point, with the overview of the Feast days and go back to the beginning to give you some detail about these feasts - especially Passover.
Passover commemorates the tenth plague that God unleashed against Egypt and also the final night the Israelites spent under the bondage of Egypt. On that night, more than 3,500 years ago, the Lord struck down all of the firstborn in the land of Egypt including the firstborn of Pharoah. Moses had instructed the people to kill a lamb "without blemish" and to apply its blood to the door post and lintels of their homes. Only the first born, abiding in houses where the blood of the lamb had been applied, were spared.
This was done because the Lord said that when He came to a house with the blood on the door post and lintel, He would "Pass over" it and the first born would not be harmed. Therefore the name Passover was used from that time onward to commemorates what took place on that night.
It appears that the blood on the lintel and the two door post (the three parts) was like the mark of God:
FATHER (lintel) ------- SON (door post) -------- HOLY SPIRIT (door post).
Jesus and his disciples observed the Passover meal the night before his crucifixion (near the beginning of the 14th of Nissan), approximately 24 hours before the customary time for the service.
Some say that the Lord's Supper was not actually a Passover meal because the Passover Lamb was to be sacrificed during the following afternoon or evening. Scripture however, makes it abundantly clear that it was indeed the Passover Meal. Sometimes, even in the Bible, the word "evening" is used for the late afternoon of the present day; and at other times it is used as the beginning of the next day, as it was stated in Genesis 1:5 "and the evening and the morning were the first day". So evening sometimes refers to the end of one day, or the beginning of the next.
Scripture does state that the Passover Lamb was to be killed at "twilight" of the 14th of Nissan which was during the next afternoon or evening. The meal was then to be eaten during the night (or evening hours) of the 15th of Nissan with the unleavened bread.
Since the Jewish day runs from one evening to the next evening, "Twilight" was towards the end of the day.
In Hebrew the word for "twilight" means "between the evenings".
In the temple there were four oblations or sacrifices conducted every day: Two were done in the morning and two in the evening. In the morning the first sacrifice was refered to as a "Minor Oblation" This was done between about 6 AM and 9 AM. From 9 AM until 12 noon was the Major Oblation. Then the same thing was repeated in the evening: From 12 noon until about 3 PM was the Minor Oblation, and from 3 PM until about 6 PM was the Major Oblation or sacrafice.
The point of time dividing the minor and major oblations (9 AM in the Morning) was called "between the mornings". Likewise, the point seperating the minor and major oblations of the afternoon (3 PM in the evening) was called "between the evenings".We know from Scripture, that Jesus was put on the cross at the third hour of the day (9 AM) - At the beginning of the Major Oblation of the morning. We also know that he died at the ninth hour (3 PM) which was at the beginning of the Major Oblation of the evening.
The Passover Lamb was to be sacrificed at "Twilight" or "Between the evenings". And Jesus fulfilled this perfectly in his death.
So Twilight on the 14th of Nissan would be the time just before the 15th day of Nissan began. How then was it that Jesus and his disciples were able to observe the Passover meal approximately 24 hours before the normal time? To have sacrificed the Passover Lamb at any time other than the "eve of Passover", would have rendered the sacrifice as totally invalid.
Here is a possible explanation for how that was possible:
There was a ruling, in the LAW that the sacrifice of a lamb, on a day which was not "the eve of the Passover" (that is, any day other than the 14th of Nissan) could be a valid sacrifice for the Passover, if it was done with "dual intentions".
Now, What does that mean?
It means that, the lamb could initially be offered as a peace-offering, with the subsequent intention added, that it was also to serve as a Passover offering.
In that case, the latter intention superseded the original intention.
Jesus kept the law of God perfectly. He, had a complete understanding of Levitical Law and He knew not only what was required but also what was allowed.
Being Jewish, He also had a perfect understanding of the Oral Traditions of the Jews which is called the Mishnah. The Mishnah was compiled during Temple times thru about 170 AD.
He knew what would be necessary for him to keep the feast of Passover as he was going to do. It was necessary for him to die "at twilight" as the Passover Lamb of God, therefore there had to be a way for him to keep the Law so that no one could come to him and say, " you sinned because you did not keep the Passover at the appointed time".
There is nothing in the Scriptures which indicates that Jesus was challenged by anyone on this point; neither did His disciples question Him about it when He told them to go and prepared the Passover near the beginning of the 14th of Nissan.
That was because they understood that the service could be observed, under certain conditions, on an evening other than "the eve of the Passover" of Unleavened Bread.
Let's read it from the understanding declared in the Mishnah. This is from the Tractate called, Pesachim (Chapter 5)
Regulations concerning the sacrifice of the paschal lamb.
"What is the law concerning a sacrifice which had been offered up at any time during the year (not on the eve of Passover) with the dual intention of having it serve both as the paschal sacrifice and as a peace-offering?
Here is the answer which is given in the MISHNAH:
"A sacrifice which had been offered up at any other time of the year (not on the eve of Passover) with the dual intention of having it serve both as a paschal sacrifice and as a peace-offering is valid. Why so? For, let us see How it would be if the paschal lamb were brought at any time other than on the eve of Passover? It would certainly be invalid.
... if the sacrifice had been brought with the original intention of having it serve as a peace-offering and subsequently the intention was added to have it serve also as a paschal offering, the sacrifice would nevertheless not become useless; and even if the original intention was to have the sacrifice serve as a paschal offering, from the fact that it was not the proper season it cannot render the sacrifice invalid. Thus the subsequent intention entirely supersedes the original."
Now, That's pretty legalistic, but here is the short of it:
When someone brought an animal to the temple to be sacrificed, they had speak the intention, to the priest, for which the animal was to be sacrificed.
If someone brought a lamb to the temple at a time that was not appointed for killing the Passover Lamb and they offered the Lamb as a peace- offering, then afterwards stipulated that it was also to be used as a Passover Lamb, then according to the LAW the later intention superseded or overrode the first intention, and the sacrifice of the lamb as a Paschal or Passover offering remained valid.
For more than 1,300 years after the Children of Israel left Egypt, they celebrated the Passover: and then one day on the banks of the Jordan River, there stood John the Baptist with a crowd of people; and when he saw Jesus approaching, he raised his hand, pointed to Jesus and said, "Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world" (John 1:29).
Note here, that John said that the Lamb of God "...takes away the sin of the world".
All of the animal sacrifices that were carried out in the temple every year were only meant to cover the sins of the people until that one came who could take away the those covered sins. (that being the Messiah)
In Daniel 9:24 we are told just what the work of the Messiah would be:
It says, "Seventy weeks are determined for your people and for your holy city,
1) To finish the transgression,
2) To make and end of sins,
3) To make reconciliation for iniquity,
4) To seal up vision and prophecy,
5) To annoint the Most Holy...."
These five points represent the mission of the Messiah.
The sacrifices in the temple only covered the sins of the people for that one year. So each year there had to be new sacrifices made.
But those sacrifices could never take away the peoples sins.
In Hebrews Chapter 10:4 Paul wrote, "For it is not possible that the blood of bulls and goats could take away sins."
Then in verse 11 it says, "and every priest stands ministering daily and offering repeatedly the same sacrifices which can never take away sins."
Again, in verse 12, Paul comes to Jesus and said, "But this man, after He had offered one sacrifice for sin forever sat down at the right hand of God."
Verse 14 follows with:
"For by one offering HE has perfected forever those who are being sanctified."
If you are a Christian, then you have received Jesus as the Passover Lamb that was sacrificed for you, then your sins are not covered by His blood, but they are washed away by His blood!
Jesus didn't die to cover our sins, He died that our sins might be removed from our account with God, as it is stated in Isaiah 1:18, "Come now, let us reason together", Says the Lord Though your sins are like scarlet, They shall be as white as snow; Though they are red like crimson, They shall be as wool."
In Scripture we find that the terms "Rod" and "BRANCH" are prophetically applied to the Messiah of Israel:
Isaiah 11: 1-2 states that:
"There shall come forth a Rod from the stem of Jesse, And a Branch shall grow out of his roots..."
Jeremiah 23: 5-6
5) "Behold, the day is coming," says the Lord That I will raise to David a Branch of Righteousness; A King shall reign and prosper, And execute judgment and Righteousness in the earth;
6) "In his days Judah will be saved, And Israel will dwell safely;
Now this is His name by which He will be called: THE LORD OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS."
In Zechariah 3: 8 we read:
"Hear, O Joshua, the high priest, You and your companions who sit before you, For they are a wondrous sign; For behold, I am bringing forth My Servant the Branch..." Again in Zechariah 6:12, we read:
"Behold the man whose name is the BRANCH!"
The name of the man spoken of in that passage is the same as the name of the one who would become the "BRANCH." sent forth by God.
And the man's name here is Joshua, the son of of Je-hoz' a-dak who was the High Priest at that time.
So you can see here that even in the Old Testament we are told the the name of the Messiah would be Joshua, which is the Hebrew source for the name "Jesus". In Hebrew, the word "Joshua" literally means "salvation".
So, hundreds of years before the birth of Jesus, we are told what the actual name by which he would be called.
In the tractate called Pesachim, which I mentioned before, the people were told, in very specific detail, how they were to sacrifice, prepare and cook the Passover Lamb.
The number of people in the house determined how many lambs would be killed. If there were not enough people in the house to consume the lamb on the Passover they were to go to their next door neighbor and keep the Passover with them. If there were at least 10 people in the house; one lamb would be killed. If there were as many as 20 people in the house; two lambs would be killed;
The head of each family or group took the lamb, or lambs, to the temple and the lamb, which was to be sacrifice was to be not to be less than 8 days, nor more than one year of age.
Each Israelite killed his own lamb.
In the Temple, the priests stood in double rows (or files) extending up the Altar of Burnt Offerings. Each priest held either a bowl of silver or a bowl of gold in his hand, but one row of priests had to hold all silver bowls and the other all gold -- they were not allowed to be mixed.
As the person killed the lamb, the priest received the blood and gave it to another priest, who in turn passed it to another, and each receiving a full bowl, at the same time returning an empty one; the priest nearest the altar flung the blood in one (continuous) stream at the base of the altar.
After the blood of the lamb had been applied to the Altar in the temple, the lamb was taken and prepared to be cooked. The first thing they did was to shear the lamb of its wool.
The four Gospels and Psalms 22 tell us that when Jesus was crucified, they parted his garments and cast lots for his vesture. (Ps. 22:18;
Isaiah 53: 6 states:
"He was led as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before its shearers is silent, so He opened not his mouth."
When we look at a crucifix and we see Jesus with the loin cloth. This is there out of our respect for Him. When Jesus was actually crucified He had no covering at all like that; just like the Passover lamb which was sacrificed had no covering.
The intent of the Romans was to absolutely humiliate the person, by totally stripping them of every vestage of dignity. They were to be an example to everyone who thought to challenge the authority of Rome.
The Passover Lamb was to be roasted in special ovens which were built for this purpose. It also had to be roasted on a "Spit". A SPIT is a rod used for roasting meat.
The "rod" on which the lamb was to be roasted, was to be made from the "Branch" of the pomegranite tree.
You remember that Scriptures say, "There shall come forth a Rod from the stem of Jesse, and a Branch shall grow out of his roots..."
"Behold the man whose name is the BRANCH."
In Israel the pomegranite was a symbol of Kingship.
There appears to be a prophetic reference here to this Rod or Branch which was used as a spit: it was probably used as symbol of the SCEPTER of the King.
In Isaiah 11: 4 we read,
But with righteousness He shall judge the poor,
And decide with equity for the meek of the earth;
He shall strike the earth with the rod of his mouth,
And with the breath of His lips He shall slay the wicked."
His authority to strike the earth will be validated by the scepter which he shall possess.
Here is the way that they prepared and cooked the Passover Lamb in Those Days:
The spit or rod from the pomegranite was to be inserted through the mouth and run down the length of the lamb while the lamb's body was being held in a verticle position.
After the rod was inserted through the body, and in order for the lamb to be roasted thoroughly, the chest cavity was opened and a cross piece was used so that the fire could cook the inside of the lamb as well as the outside.
We can see the symbolism here - The Verticle SPIT ("Cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree") then the Horizontal piece which formed a "Cross".
One source, stated that the front legs of the lamb were tied to each end of the cross piece. Another seems to indicate that the cross piece was driven through the chest cavity to hold it open. That may be implied by the spear that was thrust into the Lord's side before he was taken down from the cross.
John 19:34 says,
"...one of the soldiers pierced his side with a spear, and immediatley blood and water came out."
It's possible that both methods of holding open the chest cavity were considered acceptable.
Besides all of this, the law demanded that no part of the lamb was to be discarded or remain uncooked, so they took the entrails of the lamb, (the intestines and eveything that could not be eaten) and wound them into a circle and affixed them to the head of the lamb. This was called the "Crown" or "Helmet-ed Sacrifice". Even if you couldn't eat those parts they still had to be roasted with the rest of the lamb. Those parts of the lamb which were not eaten would lated be burned, because Scripture states that no part of the lamb could be left until the next morning.
Now again, we can see the tremendous symbolism here:
What was meant to be the ultimate symbol of His destruction (The verticle beam of the Corss, or the rod which went through the mouth of the Passover Lamb); would become the symbol of his power by which he will smite and rule over the nations.
I hope, that in the future, when you see a crucifix you will not only see Jesus hanging there but you will also the Passover Lamb of God hanging there. The Lamb who took away our sins!
As mentioned previously, Scripture says,
"Cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree." (Galatians 3:13)
While it's true that the Romans brought a living crucifixion to Israel; the Jews had their on version of this punishment, which was pronounced by Scripture.
Under Jewish law, if a person committed a capital offence, they were usually stoned to death, then their hands were bound together and they were hung on a tree as directed by Scripture.
The person so hung was usually taken down immediately as that act of hanging the body satisfied the demand of the Law and they were not to be further disgraced before the people.
There were also two cemeteries : one for the righteous; and one for the wicked.
Those put to death in this fashion (that is, "hung on a tree") were to be buried in the cemetery of the wicked.
Isaiah 53: 9 says,
"And they made his grave with the wicked."
In Galatians 3, which I read , The Apostle Paul was quoting from Deuteronomy 21:22-23 , a verse which prophetically spoke of the burial of Jesus.
22) If a man has committed a sin deserving of death, and he is put to death, and you hang him on a tree.
23) his body shall not remain overnight on the tree, but you shall surely bury him that day, so that you do not defile the land which is given you as an inheritance; for he who is hanged is accursed of God."
We know that Jesus never committed a sin, let alone one worthy of death; but in the eyes of the High Priest, Jesus was guilty of Blasphemy, because he said that he was the Messiah, the Son of God. (Matt. 26:63-66) Verse 23 above also, validates that Jesus had to be buried before nightfall of the day He was crucified. The following evening began the Feast of Unleavened Bread.
The Bible says, that Caiphas, the High Priest, was prophesying about the death of Jesus when he said " ...it is expedient for us that one man should die for the people, and not that the whole nation should perish."
It goes on th say, "from that day on, they plotted to put him to death." (John 11: 48-53).
Notice that he said, that it was expedient or necessary that "one man" (not the customary lamb) should die for the sins of the people.
There are differences of opinion as to which actual day of the week Jesus was crucified and buried on. Most Christians hold to the "Good Friday" tradition. Others hold that Jesus was crucified on a Thursday, and still others believe he was crucified on a Wednesday.
We may not all agree on the timing, but we are all in agreement that those things did happened!
Here is a quote from a Jewish website I found on the Internet.
"According to the rabbinic calculations, in Egypt the lamb was to be selected on Shabbat Nisan 10th 1311 BCE, slaughtered on Wednesday Nisan 14th and eaten in haste during Wednesday evening. The festivals ended the following day, Thursday Nisan 15th 1311 BCE, the day of the Exodus."
So, according to this, the Jewish Rabbi's have calculated that the first Passover lamb in Egypt was selected on the 10th of Nissan in 1311 BC; and that it was killed on the 14th of Nissan, which was a Wednesday.
If this calculation is correct, then it becomes more clear how that a Wednesday crucifixion may be a more appropriate time for adequately explaining the following points:
# 1. Jesus was in the heart of the earth for 3 days and nights, according to His words as recorded in Matt. 12:40.
# 2. How it could be said that he would rise "on the third day"; and also that he rose "after three days".
# 3. How that after Jesus was laid in the tomb; the woman prepared spices and rested the Sabbath day (as found in the Book of Luke): and also how they bought and prepared the spices after the Sabbath was finished (as found in the Book of Mark).
Are there contradictions here?
Not at all, if you understand the structure of the Feast of Passover.
Let's take a look at each of these three points:
In Matt. 12:40 Jesus said, " For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the great fish, so will the Son of man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth."
Here He was quoting from the Book of Jonah (Chapter 1:17) which states:
" Now the Lord had prepared a great fish to swallow Jonah. And Jonah was in the belly of the fish three days and three nights."
There is really only two questions to be asked here: Are we to take the words of Jesus literally, or not?
Did He intend for us to understand that He really and truly would be in the heart of the earth for three literal days and three nights or, are we to deduce that he meant something else by this statement?
Some would argue that the Jewish people count part of the day as a full day, therefore you can get three days between Friday afternoon and Sunday morning. Counting Friday afternoon after Jesus died; then the day part of Saturday and finally in the light of early Sunday morning just before the actual sunrise. The problem here is, you cannot count that way and arrive at three nights. Since the Jewish people count a day from evening to evening, Friday night would be the beginning of the weekly Sabbath, and Saturday night is the beginning, or evening part of the first day of the week.
Any way you count it, the best you can come up with is 3 days and 2 nights. It doesn't seem likely that God would have let the one prophecy given to the people (Matt. 12:39) be open to disputation: that is, no one will be able to say that it was not fulfilled precisely as stated.
Those who hold to a Thursday crucifixion have a similar problem. If they count full days and nights, the resurrection of Jesus would have taken place on a Sunday night or Monday morning. You would have the Night parts of Thursday night, Friday Night and Saturday night, but the day parts of Friday, Saturday and Sunday; unless they count the portion of Thursday after the death of Jesus as a full day. Then you would have part of Thursday, and all of Friday and Saturday.
A Wednesday Crucifixion would provide the following order:
The Jewish Day being "the evening and the morning" as established in Gen 1:5
1) The crucifixion of Jesus would have been early on Wednesday (9 AM) with his death at 3 PM.
2) He was layed in the tomb at the approach of evening (which would have been the beginning of the next day: Thursday)
3) Wednesday Evening and Thursday day would constitute the first full day
4) Thursday evening and Friday day would be the second full day
5) Friday evening and Saturday day would be the third full day
Three full days and nights.
Jesus stated that he would rise "the third day" which by the prophecy of Jonah and the calculation shown above, would have been at the end of the weekly sabbath day.
In point #1, it was stated that Scriptures tell us that Jesus rose "the third day", and also that He would arise "after three days". You can find these references in (Luke 24:7 ; Matt. 27:63)
Jesus also said, "Destroy this temple and in three days I will raise it up" (John 2:19-21). This statement appears to point to the whole process involved (going to the heart of the earth, etc.) during the three day period, and which culminated with His resurrection.
How is it possible for both of the phrases in point #2 to be true? He rose "the third day"; and he rose "after three days".
If we take the words of Jesus as literal, then the "three days and three nights" of which he spoke, contained exactly 72 hours.
If Jesus was put in the tomb (which some regard as "the hearth of the earth") just prior to 6 PM on Wednesday, then He would have risen just prior to 6 PM on Saturday, which would have been very near the start of the next day, according to the Law. We will look at how this may relate to the ceremonial practice of offering the firstfruits of the barley harvest a little later.
This would have fulfilled His word that He would rise "the third day" because at 3PM - 6PM on Saturday afternoon would be on the third day, with the next day (firstfruits) beginning at evening.
Jesus kept the Law of God and the feast days perfectly.
Though his resurrection prior to 6 PM on Saturday afternoon would have occurred on a part of the weekly sabbath (a day of rest); there is another reason why Jesus would have stayed in the tomb, at that point.
He had to fulfill the Feast of FirstFruits which was to take place "on the morrow after the sabbath" (Sunday). That being the next day. Therefore, he would have remained in the tomb at least until Firstfruits began at evening time.
The point being made here is that the Resurrection, and the coming out the tomb, may not have been simultaneous events.
It's like the grain of wheat that is planted. The seed comes to life and germinates under the soil (out of sight), but you do not see the results of that germination, until the seedling first breaks thru to the surface. Then and only then are you sure the seed that was planted was good seed.
In these things we can see that Jesus was in his glorified body on "the third day" (he rose from the dead); and that he came out of the tomb, at some point, after the next evening had begun ("after the third day"). Scripture nowhere tells us that anyone actually saw Jesus come out of the tomb. By the time the stone was rolled away from the door, Jesus had already left the tomb.
Now let's look at the next point:.
In Mark 16:1-2 we read,
1) "Now when the sabbath was past, Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James and Salome bought spices, that they might come and annoint him.
2) Very early in the morning, on the first day of the week, they came to the tomb when the sun was risen."
Then in Luke 23: 55 - 24:1 we read:
55) "And the women who had come with him from Galilee followed after, and they observed the tomb and how his body was laid.
56) Then they returned and prepared spices and fragrant oils. And they rested on the sabbath according to the commandment.
24: 1) Now on the first day of the week, very early in the morning, they, and certain other women with them, came to the tomb bringing the spices which they had prepared."
At first glance there seems to be a contradiction here. How could the women prepare the spices and then rest the sabbath, according to Luke; and purchase and prepare the spices after the sabbath was finished, according to Mark?
It's relatively easy to explain if we following the idea that Jesus was crucified on a Wednesday, rather than Friday.
That Wednesday would have been the 14th of Nissan (or the Day of Preparation as it was called). That's the day the Jewish people removed all leavening from their homes and also the killed the Passover Lamb. The former task was performed in the dark, using only the light of a candle to find the leaven; the sacrifice of the lamb was carried out in the Temple on the next afternoon.
Jesus had to be put in the grave or tomb before night fall of that day because the Feast of Passover (also called Unleavened Bread) was approaching. Because Passover always begins with a sabbath day, it would not have been lawful to tend to such things after end of the day of preparation. Everyone had to be in their dwelling places before the Passover feast began.
At Passover, both the first day and the seventh day of the feast are set as sabbath days (or days of rest). These two days were referred to as "High Days" not only because they were sabbaths, but because they were also feast days. Because they were days of rest and Scripture demanded those "hanged on a tree" (or crucified) could not remain on the tree until the next day, the bodies were taken down and buried before the official start of evening. The only labor permitted on the two sabbaths of Passover was the cooking of food (Ex. 12:16}.
On the weekly sabbath it is absolutely forbidden for anyone to perform any work, including kindling a fire to cook food. On the two days of rest during the Feast of Passover all "occupational work" is forbidden. However, the cooking food for use on those two Feast days was to be allowed. Because of this, there are conflicting opinions even among Jewish scholars as to whether or not the two days of rest during Unleavened Bread should be referred to as sabbath Days or not. While these were called "High Days", and were observed as days of rest; they are not sabbaths in the strictest sense of the word.
All of this is said to make the point: if Jesus was crucified on Wednesday and the sabbath drew on, according to Luke 23:54, then we can understand that the day mentioned there is not the weekly sabbath, but rather the first sabbath (or day of rest) of the Feast of Passover. That sabbath would have been Wednesday Night - Thursday day. Before nightfall of Wednesday evening, the women beheld how the body of Jesus was laid and then went to their dwelling places.
Everyone who touched the body of a dead person was considered ritually unclean and could not eat the Passover meal. Those who took the body down from the cross and to the tomb, may have been at the Passover service which Jesus celebrated the night before.
Sometime after that first day of rest had passed (Thursday night - Friday morning) they went and purchased the spices, prepared them, and then rested the sabbath according to the commandment. That would have been the weekly sabbath.
In light of the traditional view that Jesus was crucified on a Friday and rose on the Sunday following; how do we deal with the statement of Jesus that he would be in the heart of the earth for three days and three nights as Jonah was in the belly of the great fish for three days and three nights? (Matt. 12: 40)
Here is where it appears that we get confused about the time which Jesus spent in the tomb. Let's go through and take a look at that time:
We start off with the "day of Preparation" (that's the 14th Day of Nissan). As stated before, that's the day when the Jewish people made sure that all leavening (which is a type of sin) was removed from their houses before Passover began. They do that even to this day. It was also the day on which the Passover Lamb was to be killed, and made ready for the Passover meal. This latter custom ceased with the destruction of the temple in Jerusalem in 70 AD.
That day like all Jewish days, began just after sundown and continued until the same time the next day. As that particular day approached, the disciples inquired of Jesus where he would observe the Passover. He gave Peter and John specific instructions as to where they should go for this. You can read about this in (Luke 22: 7-16).
So they went and made the preparations as required.
Some people deny that the meal Jesus had with his disciples was the Passover because it occurred the night before the Passover lambs were normally killed. Scripture is abundantly clear that it was indeed the Passover meal. Jesus Himself called it by that name.
There is no indication in Scripture that the disciples questioned Jesus about why he would observe the Passover on the evening before the Passover Lambs were to be killed. That, was to be on the next afternoon, and the time was referred to as "twilight", or "between the evenings". We do know this: Jesus kept the Law perfectly,
He himself said, that "not one jot or tittle" of the Law would pass away until all things be fulfilled.
In John 2:19-21 Jesus said, "Destroy this temple and in three days I will raise it up.
20: Then the Jews said, ' It has taken forty-six years to build this temple, and will You raise it up in three days?'
21: But He was speaking of the temple of his body."
The resurrection of Jesus was a fulfillment of the Feast of Firstfruits, which occurred on the Sunday following the first Sabbath of Passover (Lev. 23:10-11). We may find some insights into to this by looking at the very time the ceremonial enactment of this was carried out.
During this period, according to the Mishnah, the sheaf to be waved in the ceremony was reaped from the field as the Sabbath ended and Sunday began. "R. Hananiah, Prefect of the Priests, says, ‘On the Sabbath it [the barley] was reaped.' . . . On the Sabbath, he [the priest] says to them, ‘[Shall I reap on] this Sabbath?' They shall say, ‘Yes'" (Jacob Neusner, The Mishnah: A New Translation, "Menahoth," p. 753-754). So, at dusk at the end of the Sabbath, the priest "put the sickle to the grain".
"Seven weeks shalt thou number unto thee: begin to number the seven weeks from such a time as thou beginnest to put the sickle to the corn." (Deuteronomy 16:9)
When was the sheaf of firstfruits waved? Histories of the time show that it was waved about the same time as the daily morning sacrifice, that is, about 9 am on Sunday. Three days before, at the same hour, the sacrifice of the Passover Lamb of God (the dying Jesus) was offered up: now three days later the firstfruits of the barley harvest (the resurrected Jesus) was also being offered up to God. The reaping and waving of the sheaf symbolized Israel giving the first and best of the harvest to God and its subsequent acceptance by Him. It is exactly this symbolism that Jesus fulfilled! As the weekly sabbath was ending, exactly 72 hours from the planting of the seed (His burial), God resurrected Him from the dead! God "reaped" the first and best of His spiritual harvest (I Corinthians 15:23)
If the resurrection and exit from the tomb were simultaneous how do we account for the fact that when Peter entered the tomb the cloth which had been wrapped around the Head of Jesus was neatly folder and placed in a location separate from the other grave clothes? (John 20:3-7)
In the world, Christianity, Judaism, Islam, Buddhism and others are considered to be separate Religions -- and they are that.
Christianity, however was never intended to be the separate religion that it has become, but it was intended to be the fulfillment of Judaism.
From Scripture, we know that the earliest Church, which was comprised completely of Jewish believers, celebrated the Passover.
The "Good Friday" and "Easter Sunday" traditions, as we know them, was initially set up under the Roman Emperor Constantine, at the Council of Nicea in the year 325 A.D., almost 3 centuries after the resurrection of Jesus. This was done primarily to effect a break with the Jewish people. Celebration the resurrection according to the Jewish calculation was punishable by excommunication:
"...If any bishop, or presbyter, or deacon celebrates the holy day of Easter before the vernal equinox with the Jews, let him be deposed. (Canon 7, Council of Nicea, 325 A.D.)
2) Whosoever shall presume to set aside the decree of the holy and great Synod which was assembled at Nicea in the presence of the pious Emperor Constantine, beloved of God, concerning the holy and salutary feast of Easter; if they shall obstinately persist in opposing what was rightly ordained, let them be excommunicated and cast out of the Church; this is said concerning the laity. But if anyone of those who preside in the Church, whether he be bishop, presbyter or deacon, shall presume, after this decree, to exercise his own private judgment to the subversion of the people and to the disturbance of the churches, but observing Easter at the same time with the Jews, the holy Synod decrees that he shall thenceforth be an alien from the Church... (Canon 1, Council of Antioch, 341 A.D.)
So we see, by decree of the Emperor, that the time of the "Resurrection Day" (which has been identified with the feast of firstfruits - found in Leviticus 23: 10-11) was changed from the biblical date. Afterwards Resurrection day, or Easter as we call it, was to be celebrated not on the Sunday following the first sabbath of Passover; but rather on "the first Sunday after the first full moon on or after the vernal equinox". That's the way it was worded by the Council of Nicea. Simply put, that meant that Easter was to be celebrated on the first Sunday after the first full moon of Spring. So now, Easter (or firstfruits) seldom agrees with the Biblical mandate.
As stated before, Jesus kept the law of God perfectly, having a complete understanding of Levitical Law. He knew not only what was required but also what was allowed. He also had a perfect understanding of the Oral Traditions of the Jews which is called the Mishnah.
The Mishnah was compiled during Temple times thru about 170 AD. He knew what was necessary for him to keep the feast of Passover as he did. No one could come to him and say, " you sinned because you did not keep the Passover at the appointed time". There is nothing in the Scriptures which indicates that Jesus was challenged on this point, neither did his disciples question him about it when he told them to go and prepared the Passover during the evening of the 14th of Nissan.
In the Word of God the feast days are called "Holy Convocations". The word "Convocation" is from the Hebrew word pronounced "mik-raw'" this is translated as a "public meeting"; it also has a secondary meaning which is: "a rehersal". So we can understand that when God gave the Feast Days to Israel they were meant to be public rehearsals of events on God's prophetic calender.
Unlike our day, which officially runs from mid-night to mid-night, the Biblical or Jewish day runs from evening to evening. The sequence of the day was established in Genesis 1:5 where it states that, "the evening and the morning were the first day."
This is very important in our understanding of the feast days.
We tend to think that the evening begins at sunset, but in Jewish reckoning it actually begins a little bit later.
In one source I found it stated, that in Jewish reckoning, the evening officially begins when you can see "three stars of the 2nd magnitude". As the sun sets and onset of evening progresses, a few stars become visible. These are the brightest stars, or stars of the first magnitude. The next three stars which become visible to the eye are the one which usher in the new day -- Those are the one which are called "stars of the second magnitude". This is when the new day actually begins.
The 14th of Nissan, called the "day of preparation", which was also the day on which Jesus was crucified, actually began on the previous evening.
I have read also that the Passover Lamb of the family of the High Priest was sacrificed at the ninth hour. So at the same time Jesus died on the Cross, The lamb of the High Priest's family was killed.
Josephus, a well known Jewish historian of the first century stated that all the lambs of the people were killed between 3 P.M. and 5 P.M. on the preparation day which was the 14th of Nissan.
Jewish "twilight" was defined as the afternoon, prior to the beginning of the next day (which would be the 15th day of Nissan). Jesus died on the cross at 3 P.M. (during the "twilight hours" of the preparation day). So you can see the symbolism there: the lambs of the people were killed during that time as was the "Lamb of God."
Tractate: Sanhedrin, Chapter 6
MISHNA VI.: How was one hanged? The beam was put in the earth, and it was fastened at the top, and he tied the hands of the culprit one upon the other, and hung him up. R. Jose said: The beam was not put in the earth, but the top of it was supported by the wall, and he hung him up as the butchers do, and he took him off immediately. And should he leave him over night, he transgressed a negative commandment, as it reads [Deut. xxi. 23]: "Thou shalt not leave his corpse on the tree over night, but thou shalt surely bury him on that day (for he that is hanged) is a dishonor of God," etc. How so? "Why is this man hanged?" "He is a blasphemer." Hence the name of Heaven is violated. [Said R. Mair: When a man is in trouble, in what language does the Shekinah lament over him? Qalleni meiraushi, qalleni miz'raay. 1 Now, if the Omnipotent grieves over the blood of the wicked which was shed, so much the more about the blood of the upright!] And not only of him who was executed it was said that he should not remain over night? But even every one who leaves unburied his corpse over night transgresses the negative commandment. However, if he left it over night for the sake of its honor, as for instance to prepare for it a coffin or shroud, he does not transgress.
GEMARA: The rabbis taught: If the verse read, "If a man committed a sin, he shall be hanged," we would say that he should be hanged until death occurs, as the government does; but it reads, "He shall be put to death and hanged," which means he shall be put to death and thereafter hanged. How was it done? They kept him till near sunset, condemned him, killed him, and then hanged him; one hangs him up, and the other immediately loosens the knot, as his hanging was only to fulfil the commandment.
bain haarbayim -- between the evenings (ben ha-'arbayim)
"between the evenings”, means, in the middle, between the beginning of the going-down-of-the-sun (noon); and the final going-down-of-the-sun (sunset). That time would be approximately 3 PM when Jesus died.
In prescribed order the trumpets were blown, while the priests stood ready with gold and silver utensils to sprinkle the blood. The vessel was passed from one to the other that many might have a part in the meritorious act, until it reached the priest nearest the altar. The empty pan was returned. Then the carcasses were suspended on iron hooks along the walls and columns, or even on poles, shouldered between two men; the excrement was removed and the proper parts salted and incensed on the altar. The doors were then reopened, and, the first group departing, the second was admitted, and next the third,..."
The killing of the Passover lamb was done with great caution, to avoid contact with same. After the carcass had been properly prepared, and the blood properly disposed of, it was taken home by its owner and roasted and eaten at eventide.
Have you ever wondered why there was darkness for three hours on the day when Jesus was crucified; beginning at 12 o'clock and ending at 3 P.M (Matt. 27:45 ; Mark 15:33 ; Luke 23.44 ).
Why was there darkness then?
Here is a verse from Exodus Chapter 12:
" And it came to pass at midnight that the Lord struck all the first born in the land of Egypt, from the first born of Pharoah who sat on his throne to the firstborn of the captive who was in the dungeon, and all the firstborn of livestock."
At 12 o'clock, on that night, the angel of death (called the destroyer in Scripture), began to go throughout the land of Egypt and smote every household where the blood had not been applied to the doorway.
On the day Jesus was crucified I think God was reminding the people that at 12 o'clock that night death came to the firstborn of Egypt,
and by the darkness at mid-day he was making the declaration that his own firstborn and only-begotten son was going to die as well.
The Bible states that Pharoah rose up in the night and called for Moses and Aaron and told them to take the people and get out of the land of Egypt. Pharoah was basically saying, It's done! I'm finished with you and your people, Get out!! (Exodus 12:31)
About 3 P.M. on the day of the crucifixion, Jesus said , "it's finished". At that point, he was basically saying to the people, come unto me that you may receive eternal life.
What a contrast we have here. When Pharoah's firstborn son died, he told the Israelites, Take whatever you want and Get Out!!
When God's son died on the cross, He was gently saying, come unto me!
It really goes back to the time of Jacob (the grandson of Abraham) who had 12 sons. Of the twelve, his favorite son was young Joseph. Jealousy among his brothers eventually resulted in Joseph being sold by them into slavery in Egypt, and the brothers lying to their father by saying that Joseph had been killed by a wild animal.
While in Egypt, Joseph rose to the highest position in the kingdom under Pharoah because he was able to revealed to Pharoah the meaning of a dream which he had.
God gave Joseph the interpretation of Pharaoh's dream that there would be first 7 years of plenty; and then 7 years of famine. Pharoah heeded the interpretation and the kingdom survived.
The same famine swept through the land of Israel prompting Jacob to send his sons to Egypt for food and provisions. Their needs were met by their brother Joseph, whom they did not recognize at first.
To make a longer story short, Jacob and the families of his sons settled in Egypt, Joseph later died and a new more ruthless Pharoah came to power and enslaved the Israelites.
God didn't forget what the sons had done to Joseph, so, what they had done to him was returned to be them and their descendants. Their enslavement in Egypt continued for 430 years. Towards the end of this period Moses their deliverer was born.
He grew up in the house of Pharaoh but eventually turned his back of the riches and power of Egypt and was called by God to led the people out of Egypt back to the Promised land.
Through a series of 10 plagues that were unleashed against the land, Pharaoh eventually relented and let the people depart from Egypt.
Does it really matter which day Jesus was crucified on?
The Apostle Paul said, "One person esteems one day above another; another esteems every day alike. Let each be fully convinced in his own mind" (Romans 14:5). If we know the truth, we should walk in it, even if it runs contrary to the traditions of man.
“All that they tell you, do and observe, but do not do according to their deeds; for they say things and do not do them” - Matthew 23:3.