The Feasts of the Lord
Passover & Unleavened Bread
With the weekly Sabbath explained last week, today we begin the annual feasts of the Lord. The first two of them, Passover and Unleavened Bread, have already been explained rather thoroughly in past Exodus sermons. However, the Lord is restating them now as Feasts of the Lord because He wanted Israel to carefully observe them, each year, at set times.
They were to be annual pictures of Christ to come. If they paid attention to the symbolism of the Bible, and grasped what various things picture, they would then be able to more readily understand the evident nature of Christ’s fulfillment of each of them. They would also then know what was expected of them after He completed His work.
Unfortunately, Israel as a whole missed it. A certain portion of them got it, but the vast majority didn’t. For the most part, even Christians don’t really get it either. There are a lot more people in today’s world than in years past who are going back and looking more carefully at the Old Testament and seeing how it points to Christ. This is a good thing.
And yet at the same time, there are a lot of supposed Christians who are not only going back and looking at the Old Testament, they are unfortunately sticking to it as a means to an end. Instead of looking at how it points to Christ, they have taken and started applying these things to themselves.
It has become a viral infection within the church. Instead of seeing the annual feasts of the Lord as remarkable markers of Israel’s history which were to lead them to recognize their Messiah when He came, they instead find them to be observances which will hopefully lead them to a closer relationship with the Lord of the Old Testament. As wacky as that sounds, that is what is going on. It happened to me this week after giving the Sabbath sermon. Emails came flooding in, mis-citing and abusing Scripture, in order to show we are still under the law (Matthew 5:17-20).
People need to realize that the Lord, Yehovah of the Old is the Lord, Jesus of the New. These annual feasts were given to show us what He would do for us, and thus how we were to then live for Him. They are mere shadows of spiritual truths which pointed to the reality found in Christ Jesus.
Text Verse: “So let no one judge you in food or in drink, or regarding a festival or a new moon or sabbaths, 17 which are a shadow of things to come, but the substance is of Christ.” Colossians 2:16, 17
The substance is of Christ. The feasts of Israel were shadows, not reality. In Christ we have the substance, and in Christ we are to dwell. The tragedy of law-observance in today’s world is all the more heartbreaking when one considers that all it takes is a minor amount of study to realize that Christ is the end of these things; He is the fulfillment of them.
If I were to take you outside and offer you a table full of gold and other riches, or let you take the shadow in its place, which would you go for? The fool would go for the shadow, and he would end up with nothing. One cannot take a shadow. In the end, he is left completely empty handed.
On the other hand, the wise person, (which I know you all fit that category), would take the table full of riches. And guess what! In taking the substance, you get the shadow too. You get it all. But please, leave me the table, that was not a part of my offer to you. Go buy your own table with all that gold.
All kidding aside, the person who is caught up in law observance is the fool who gets nothing. Even the shadow he thinks he possesses will be taken from him.
For the truly wise person, grab the substance! Take hold of Christ Jesus, and rejoice in His work, accomplished for us, and then live for Him as you are shown how to do. It’s all to be found in His superior word. And so let’s turn to that precious word once again and… May God speak to us through His word today and may His glorious name ever be praised.
I. The Passover (verses 4 & 5)
4 ‘These are the feasts of the Lord, holy convocations
Although not word for word, this is practically a repeat of verse 2. There the Lord said, “The feasts of the Lord, which you shall proclaim to be holy convocations, these are My feasts.” Because this is now repeated, it is generally assumed by some that the Sabbath isn’t actually a feast of the Lord. This is incorrect. It is a feast of the Lord, one which is weekly in nature. These are annual, and are thus set apart from the weekly Sabbath.
Further, by designating the Sabbath first and separately, the intent was to ensure that an annual feast was not to override, or nullify, the weekly Sabbath. They were to be held concurrently if they fell to the same day, but the Sabbath requirement was not to be ignored. With that understanding, the repetition concerning the feasts of the Lord now is given to enumerate the annual feasts in their order.
Although a bit confusing, the calendar to be used is the Redemption Calendar mandated by the Lord in Exodus 12. Until that time, the beginning of the annual calendar was in the seventh month, originally known in Hebrew as Ethanim, a word meaning something like “permanent flowings.”
After the Babylonian exile, the name of the month took on the Aramaic name of Tishri. This word, Tishri, comes from an Akkadian word, tasritu, meaning “beginning.” This could rightly be called the Creation Calendar as it was used since the time of creation. However, Tishri would become the seventh month in the newly established Redemption Calendar. This Redemption Calendar was first mandated in the Book of Redemption, Exodus. There in Exodus 12 it says –
“Now the Lord spoke to Moses and Aaron in the land of Egypt, saying, 2 ‘This month shall be your beginning of months; it shall be the first month of the year to you.’” Exodus 12:1, 2
The name of this newly established first month was Aviv, meaning ear, especially green ears of grain. Later, after the Babylonian exile, the name of the month would be changed to the Aramaic name, Nisan. In Assyrian, the word means “beginning.” Thus it is a new beginning after the first. The calendar change itself is giving us insights into God’s new beginnings in Christ.
This pattern of creation followed by redemption is seen throughout the Bible. It is seen in the calendars used. Also, in the giving of the Ten Commandments, they were relayed to the people first based on creation in the Decalogue of Exodus 20. However, it is based on redemption in the Decalogue of Deuteronomy 5.
All the way at the end of the Bible in Revelation, the praising of God for His marvelous works is first given based on His creative efforts, and then it is based on His redemptive efforts. We are being shown spiritual truths in how God lays out His word, and His plans. The Feasts of the Lord, therefore, will contain such spiritual truths. God is the Creator, and He is also the Redeemer. His feasts will show us the redemptive process of man through pictures of the coming Christ.
4 (con’t) which you shall proclaim at their appointed times.
In the annual calendar, the arrival of each feast was proclaimed at its time appointed by the Lord. This was done with trumpet blasts, heralding in the start of the feast day.
It is to be noted now that although all of the feasts are appointed by the Lord in anticipation of the their fulfillment in Christ Jesus, not all of them are actually fulfilled on a specific day. For example, no specific calendar day is given for the feast of Firstfruits. The feast of Weeks is based on the feast of Firstfruits, whenever that would occur, fifty days later would come Weeks. No calendar day is specified for either in Scripture.
The feast of Yom Kippur is specified for the 10th day of the 7th month, but it was literally fulfilled on the same day as the Passover when Christ died as both our Passover Lamb, and our Atoning Sacrifice. The calendar was set for Israel to demonstrate a logical order in which redemptive acts take place, but that order is actually realized solely in the now-fulfilled work of Christ.
These feasts can logically be ordered, not according to the calendar year, but on what they have accomplished through the life and ministry of Christ Jesus. A breakdown of this would be –
A. Yom Teruah (Day of Acclamation) – Birth of Christ into humanity: a redemptive act tied to the beginning of the Creation calendar.
B. Pesakh (Passover) – Redemption: a one-time redemptive act based on the perfect life of Christ, summed up in His birth through crucifixion.
B. Yom Kippur (Day of Atonement) – Atonement: a one-time redemptive act based on the perfect life of Christ, summed up in His birth through crucifixion.
A. Bikurim (Firstfruits) – Resurrection: Birth of Christ from the dead: a one-time redemptive act on a date determined by the Lord.
C. Ha’Matsot (Unleavened Bread) – Sanctification: a redemptive act, ongoing for God’s people; those who are “in Christ.”
D. Shavuoth (Weeks) – God indwelling man: made available because of the crucifixion and resurrection. A one-time redemptive act on a date determined by the timing of the resurrection.
D. Sukkoth (Tabernacles) – God dwelling with man: proven by the resurrection. The feast sums up the purpose of all redemptive acts of the Lord. It is ongoing for God’s people, even to eternity.
5 On the fourteenth day of the first month
The day mandated here was first determined in Exodus 12:6, but it must be taken in the proper context of Exodus 12. There it said –
“Speak to all the congregation of Israel, saying: ‘On the tenth of this month every man shall take for himself a lamb, according to the house of his father, a lamb for a household. 4 And if the household is too small for the lamb, let him and his neighbor next to his house take it according to the number of the persons; according to each man’s need you shall make your count for the lamb. 5 Your lamb shall be without blemish, a male of the first year. You may take it from the sheep or from the goats. 6 Now you shall keep it until the fourteenth day of the same month.’” Exodus 12:3-6
When the Lord spoke those words to Israel, it was the very first time that the term edah, or congregation, was used. That word comes from another word yaad which means “to appoint” or “to meet.” They were first called at the time of the Exodus to be a congregation of people involved in a united act according to the commandment of God.
The Passover as a feast of the Lord is based on that original Passover held at the time of the Exodus from the bondage of Egypt. It was that redemptive act which was to now be celebrated annually on the same day of the original occurrence. But that was merely a picture of the coming work of Christ, delivering humanity from the bondage of sin under the devil’s yoke.
On the tenth day of the month, the people were told to take a lamb according to the house of the father. That means appropriate to the size of the house. The word “lamb” used there was seh and it simply means one of the flock, either a goat or a lamb. They were to take such an animal, without blemish, and keep it until the fourteenth of the month.
Everything about the Passover was given in anticipation of Christ Jesus. In that original Passover, the lamb was a sacrifice which would, because of its nourishment, carry the people through the exodus of their redemption from Egypt. Jesus is called the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world in John 1:29.
His life, because of its nourishment, carries the believer through the exodus of our redemption from the world of sin and death, which Egypt pictures. Paul, in the New Testament, explicitly calls Jesus our Passover offering in 1 Corinthians 5:7 –
“Therefore purge out the old leaven, that you may be a new lump, since you truly are unleavened. For indeed Christ, our Passover, was sacrificed for us.”
That the lamb was to be without blemish is seen realized in Christ’s perfect life. In Luke 23, after his interrogation concerning the Lord, Pilate declared Jesus without fault –
“So Pilate said to the chief priests and the crowd, ‘I find no fault in this Man.’” Luke 23:4
In Hebrews 7:26, we also read this about Jesus –
“For such a High Priest was fitting for us, who is holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners…” Hebrews 7:26
And Peter, writing to the Jews of the dispersion, refers directly to the Passover for his description of Jesus –
“…knowing that you were not redeemed with corruptible things, like silver or gold, from your aimless conduct received by tradition from your fathers, 19 but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot.” 1 Peter 1:18, 19
No defect was to be seen in the Passover lambs because they were to picture to the world the perfect, undefiled, and spotless Lamb of God. As we read, the selected animal was further specified as “a male of the first year.” This requirement was given to the Hebrews as a note concerning the lamb standing in place of the firstborn. In the plague upon Egypt, all the firstborn were to die, but for those of Israel, the firstborn was to be redeemed through the death of the lamb. Thus it is an act of substitution. The mandate also looked ahead to Christ.
In the first year, an animal is considered more perfect in terms of innocence, and yet it is in the midst of life. Later in Exodus, it was prescribed that such offerings came after the eighth day of their life. This is the same day that a baby is circumcised.
Therefore the chosen animals picture the innocent Christ in the midst of life. Not a baby in Bethlehem, and not an old man in Nazareth, but a male in Jerusalem in the midst of His life, and yet endowed with innocence. It was He who was to be made an Offering of redemption. He was born without original sin, lived without any sort of committed transgression, and was humble, pure, undefiled, and harmless. Christ is the epitome of what we would think of in such an innocent animal, and He is what the Passover animal was to prefigure.
Along with being of the first year, one more aspect of the animal was noted. It could be either from the sheep or the goats. Both animals are used as sacrifices in the Bible for various reasons. The exception which allowed for either a sheep or a goat was probably given to allow the poorer people to buy a less valuable goat instead of a sheep. The smell of the goat offering is not as sweet as a lamb, but it was acceptable as a sin offering. It was a picture of Christ. As Paul in 2 Corinthians 5, says –
“For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.” 2 Corinthians 5:21
The Lamb, having the finer smell, also pictures Christ as Paul’s words of Ephesians 5 state –
“And walk in love, as Christ also has loved us and given Himself for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet-smelling aroma.” Ephesians 5:2
The lamb was generally considered the more likely choice at the Passover and among the people, but either animal ultimately pictured Christ. Thus the Lord allowed either for the feast. And so, understanding these previously provided guidelines which were given to Israel, it is on the fourteenth day of the first month that the Passover would begin. As it next says…
5 (con’t) at twilight
The Hebrew here says ben ha’arbayim – “between the evenings.” It seems like a perplexing phrase, but it is one which accounts for biblical time. In the Bible, a day is divided into “evening” and “morning.” Thus there are actually two evenings to be reckoned. The first began after twelve and went through until sunset.
The second evening began at sunset and continued till night, meaning the whole time of twilight. This would therefore be between twelve o’clock and the termination of twilight. Between the evenings then is a phrase which allows the three o’clock sacrifices at the temple to be considered as the evening sacrifice even though to us it would otherwise be considered an afternoon sacrifice. This is the same time-frame that Christ died on the cross, which is recorded in the gospels as three o’clock in the afternoon.
The term, ben ha’arbayim, or “between the evenings” is used 11 times in the Bible. Each time it details the work of Christ; the time of day when He died on the cross. Later in Scripture, this term would eventually become known as the time of the “evening offering,” or simply “the sacrifice.” This is found, for example, in the great challenge between the 450 prophets of Baal and Elijah –
“And it came to pass, at the time of the offering of the evening sacrifice, that Elijah the prophet came near and said, ‘Lord God of Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, let it be known this day that You are God in Israel and I am Your servant, and that I have done all these things at Your word. 37 Hear me, O Lord, hear me, that this people may know that You are the Lord God, and that You have turned their hearts back to You again.’” 1 Kings 18:36, 37
This time became so important to the Jews, that even during exile when the sacrifices had stopped being made, those who were observant still used that time of day to make a sacrifice of prayer, petition, and praise to God. This is seen in Daniel 9:20, 21 –
“Now while I was speaking, praying, and confessing my sin and the sin of my people Israel, and presenting my supplication before the Lord my God for the holy mountain of my God, 21 yes, while I was speaking in prayer, the man Gabriel, whom I had seen in the vision at the beginning, being caused to fly swiftly, reached me about the time of the evening offering.”
5 (con’t) is the Lord’s Passover.
pesakh l’Yehovah – “Passover to Yehovah.” I must note now that only the first Passover, when leaving Egypt, required several things which were never required again. One of them was the selecting of the animal on the tenth day of the month. Nothing is said about that later in Scripture. However, that specified period was given for a specific reason. It was to show that Christ would someday come and be crucified on a Friday. Despite many incorrect challenges to this throughout the years, the Bible bears witness that Christ died on a Friday, the 14th day of the month.
From selection to slaughter is a period of five days. If one selects an animal on the tenth day and sacrifices it in the evening of the fourteenth day, it is a total of five days. The animal of that original Passover was to be kept during that period, and until the time of the Passover. The reason for the Lord mandating this was not that the family could observe it for defects as is so often claimed.
Rather, it was selected because it had no defects. Animals with defects were noted and disregarded at the selection of the animal. The reason for this advanced time was to ensure that everyone had an animal ready for the Passover.
The instructions were probably given to the people before the plague of darkness came upon the land. That plague lasted three full days. Therefore, the selection five days earlier was necessary. However, in picture that five-day period anticipated Christ’s final week, from the evening of Palm Sunday until the evening of the Passover, a time-frame which the four gospels record as being five full days. In Mark 11:11 it says –
“And Jesus went into Jerusalem and into the temple. So when He had looked around at all things, as the hour was already late, He went out to Bethany with the twelve.” Mark 11:11
If one counts five evenings from Sunday evening, they will come to Friday evening. Sunday evening to Monday evening is one. Monday to Tuesday is two. Tuesday to Wednesday is three. Wednesday to Thursday is four. And Thursday to Friday is five. If anyone is interested in a detailed breakdown of the four gospels showing exactly this, all they need to do is go to the written update
of this sermon at the Superior Word website and I will include it at the end of the sermon.
The key to understanding the timeline for Christ’s day of crucifixion is the term “Preparation Day” which is included in all four gospels. If one follows the timeline and notes that term, they can see the perfection of how the timeline given back in Exodus is realized in the harmoniously recorded gospels. There are four aspects of the original Passover that were only required that one time, but which were never repeated again –
1) Eating of the Passover in Goshen.
2) Selecting the lamb on the tenth day.
3) Striking the blood of the lamb on the lintels of the houses.
4) Eating the lamb in haste.
These were one-time events which succeeding generations did not have levied upon them. Thus, the original Passover alone serves as the necessary picture of the greater work of Christ. As an annual feast of the Lord, it was both commemorative of what occurred in delivery from Egypt, and that delivery from Egypt was in anticipation of the full and final delivery of man from the bondage of sin and the yoke of the devil.
A Lamb, spotless, and pure – without any defect
Will be sacrificed in my place
And looking at that Lamb, I can certainly detect
The greatest love and grace… this I see looking upon His face
Oh! That I could refrain and not see Him die
Oh! If there could be any other way
How could this Lamb go through with it for one such as I?
Oh God! This perfect Lamb alone my sin-debt can pay
Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!
Behold the sinless One, there on Calvary’s tree
He has prevailed and the path to heaven has been unfurled
The Lamb of God who died for sinners like you and me
II. The Feast of Unleavened Bread (verses 6-8)
Like the instructions for the Passover, an analysis of the Feast of Unleavened Bread would be incomplete without referring to the original mandate for the feast in Exodus 12 –
“Seven days you shall eat unleavened bread. On the first day you shall remove leaven from your houses. For whoever eats leavened bread from the first day until the seventh day, that person shall be cut off from Israel. 16 On the first day there shall be a holy convocation, and on the seventh day there shall be a holy convocation for you. No manner of work shall be done on them; but that which everyone must eat—that only may be prepared by you. 17 So you shall observe the Feast of Unleavened Bread, for on this same day I will have brought your armies out of the land of Egypt. Therefore you shall observe this day throughout your generations as an everlasting ordinance. 18 In the first month, on the fourteenth day of the month at evening, you shall eat unleavened bread, until the twenty-first day of the month at evening. 19 For seven days no leaven shall be found in your houses, since whoever eats what is leavened, that same person shall be cut off from the congregation of Israel, whether he is a stranger or a native of the land. 20 You shall eat nothing leavened; in all your dwellings you shall eat unleavened bread.” Exodus 12:15-20
6 And on the fifteenth day of the same month is the Feast of Unleavened Bread to the Lord;
The day after the Passover, a new feast is introduced, to which the Passover is joined. However, the word “feast” here is not the same as that used in verses 2 or 4. That was moed, this is khag. It is not good when translations fail to make a distinction between these completely different words. The moed of the previous verses should be translated as “appointed times.” The word khag can then rightly be translated as “feast.”
The word khag comes from khagag, which in turn, indicates “to move in a circle” or specifically “to march in a sacred procession.” From there you have the implication of being giddy; to celebrate, dance, and feast. It is to be a time of worship, celebration, and sacrifice. It is a pilgrim feast.
The word is based on the same root as the name of the prophet Haggai and it is also connected to the Arabic word for hajj, which muslims perform when they make a trek to Mecca to worship their false god. If you look at photos of their hajj, you will see them going in a circle as they move towards the idol of their false god, a black stone called the al-Ḥajar al-Aswad; the Black Stone. This is the general idea of the khagag. One moves in a circle in a sacred procession; thus celebrating, dancing, and feasting.
This and the final feast, Sukkoth, are the only two of Leviticus 23 which use the term khag. They are also both set off as more than single days, but rather each encompasses an entire week. However, as we will see later in Scripture, the Feast of Weeks will also be a part of a khag, or pilgrim feast, as well.
Although the Passover and Unleavened bread are both annual feasts of the Lord, and even though they eventually will became united in terminology, the Feast of Unleavened Bread is a separate and distinct celebration with its own picture and fulfillment in Christ and in His church.
As the Passover is on the 14th of the month, this feast immediately follows from the 15th to the 21st day of the month. Every year at this time, it was to be the standard observance of the people. The 15th of the month would be the time of the full moon.
6 (con’t) seven days you must eat unleavened bread.
Exodus 12:15 says the same thing as here, but it further said that on the first day of the feast, they were to remove all leaven from their houses. Whatever day of the week the 15th fell on, they were required to do this, and they were to keep it out for a full week. During this time, they were to eat unleavened bread.
The reason for this at the Exodus was that it pictured the complete removal of the yeast of Egypt from their bread. In the Bible, bread is the fundamental means of sustaining the body – even a symbol of life itself. If one didn’t remove the yeast of Egypt, it showed that they longed after that which Egypt provided.
In essence, they had failed to separate themselves from the life they were called to leave. The removal of Egyptian yeast thus symbolized their new life, being purified from their old means of sustaining life. This was to be commemorated year by year, eating unleavened bread as a memorial to their redemption.
In general, yeast can be considered in two ways. First it causes fermentation, and thus corruption. But it also causes the bread to rise, thus picturing pride, which itself is a form of corruption. The remembrance of the feast is given to remind them of having been severed from the wicked practices of Egypt.
However, the type is given for us to see the Anti-type, Jesus, and His perfection. It is also to remind us of our obligation to act in a pure and undefiled manner. This is explicitly stated by Paul in 1 Corinthians 5. The Corinthians were having issues with immorality in the church and Paul wrote to them words of correction. In them he identifies both Passover and the Feast of Unleavened Bread –
“Your glorying is not good. Do you not know that a little leaven leavens the whole lump? 7 Therefore purge out the old leaven, that you may be a new lump, since you truly are unleavened. For indeed Christ, our Passover, was sacrificed for us. 8 Therefore let us keep the feast, not with old leaven, nor with the leaven of malice and wickedness, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.” 1 Corinthians 5:6-8
We have been called out of “spiritual Egypt,” meaning the fallen world. If we don’t remove the yeast of Egypt, meaning the old immoral ways of the world, it shows that we still long after that which the world provides rather than what Christ has granted. As always, every word we are seeing in the Old Testament is pointing to a much larger picture of redemptive history.
In the words of this verse, we are given a positive command, “seven days you must eat unleavened bread.” This is explicit. For seven days, unleavened bread was to be eaten. It doesn’t say “You may not eat bread with leaven for seven days.” Instead it says, “seven days you must eat unleavened bread.”
It is not a negative command, which means that they could abstain from any bread as long as they didn’t partake in leavened bread. Instead it is a positive command. They were to eat unleavened bread during the entire feast. This goes in picture to what was just cited from Paul in 1 Corinthians, “let us keep the feast, not with old leaven, nor with the leaven of malice and wickedness, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.”
Not only are we to not partake of sin, but we are to actively live our lives in “sincerity and truth.” It is not that we can abstain from the whole if we abstain from one; it is that we are to abstain from one while partaking in the other. And this is a most important point. What has become fashionable with Judaizers and the Hebrew Roots movement, is to cite those verses from Paul as an indication that we are still required to observe the feasts of Leviticus 23.
He is not at all saying this. He is taking those feasts, and spiritualizing them into our new life in Christ. We are no more required to observe the Leviticus 23 feasts, than we are required to go to Jerusalem to do so, and while there be required to perform the necessary sacrifices attached to the feasts. Don’t get duped into believing what those heretics pass on. In Christ we are deemed as sinless, and we are asked to act in accord with that. That is the substance over the shadow. That is the gold on the table.
7 On the first day you shall have a holy convocation;
miqra qodesh, or “convocation holy,” is called for on the 15th of the month. It was to be a gathering of the people for sacrifice, prayer, and fellowship. It may also have included instruction as well. As I said earlier, these convocations were called by the blowing of silver trumpets which were directed by the Lord to be made for this purpose. That is recorded in Numbers 10:10 –
“Also in the day of your gladness, in your appointed feasts, and at the beginning of your months, you shall blow the trumpets over your burnt offerings and over the sacrifices of your peace offerings; and they shall be a memorial for you before your God: I am the Lord your God.”
7 (con’t) you shall do no customary work on it.
meleket abodah, or “work servile,” means employment or other regular work. This then is not a Sabbath observance which forbid work of any kind, including cooking meals. In Exodus 12:16 it was explicitly noted that food could be prepared on this particular day of convocation. Thus it was not a Sabbath. Why is this important to know? It is because it once again identifies what is correct concerning the death of Christ. The gospels precisely state that the day following Christ’s crucifixion was a Sabbath, not a convocation. In Luke 23, this is recorded –
“Then he took it down, wrapped it in linen, and laid it in a tomb that was hewn out of the rock, where no one had ever lain before. 54 That day was the Preparation, and the Sabbath drew near.
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.” Luke 23:53-56
Therefore, understanding the terminology here and in that of the gospels, we can know, along with other assurances, that Christ’s cross occurred on a Friday, not a Wednesday or a Thursday.
8 But you shall offer an offering made by fire to the Lord for seven days.
The specific offerings to be made to the Lord are not detailed until Numbers 28. They will include two young bulls, one ram, and seven lambs in their first year. Each was to be without blemish. Along with those, a specified grain offering was to be made. Further, a goat for a sin offering was to be made. This same offering was to be made on each day of the feast, along with the regular daily offerings of the priests.
*8 (fin) The seventh day shall be a holy convocation; you shall do no customary work on it.’”
The seventh day of the feast would be the 21st of the month. A second miqra qodesh, or “convocation holy” was to be held on this day. However, in Exodus 13:6, this seventh day was specifically identified as its own khag, or feast, to the Lord. Israel was to not merely abstain from work, but they were to actively celebrate the work of the Lord. The entire week was to be a feast, but the seventh day was to be a feast unto itself as a festive termination to the entire feast.
Concerning the Exodus account, some Christian scholars attempt to align the resurrection of Christ with the day that Israel was conducted through the Red Sea. However, this would not align with the table of stops recorded in Numbers 33. The Jewish calendar reckons this seventh day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread as that day. Accordingly, the final day of the Feast would be the day they passed through the waters of the Red Sea. This is correct, and there is a reason for this.
The two holy convocations bracket the feast. One occurs on the first day of the feast and one on the seventh. They stand as representative of the entire period of the feast. But this feast that Israel celebrated is only a picture of our time in Christ in this earthly life, from the day of our adoption until the day we go home to glory, pictured by passing through the Red Sea.
Just as the Red Sea stood before Israel, there is an impossible gulf for us to cross over. And yet the Lord has made that way possible. He has taken the natural and combined it with the miraculous in order to allow His redeemed to cross over to safety on the other shore where our heavenly home awaits. This is the symbolism we are to see in the observance of the Passover and the Feast of Unleavened Bread.
We are redeemed by Christ through His cross, pictured by the Passover. We then enter into our Christian life, pictured by the seven days of the Feast of Unleavened Bread. At the end, we are conducted home through that once impossible-to-pass-through gulf, pictured by that final, joyous, feast day.
By the 21st day of the month, the full moon of the first day of the feast became a waning moon. The darkness would have been more pronounced, just as it is in our deaths, but there was still a brighter light to lead us. It is Christ in us, the hope of glory. The path for our full and complete redemption has been paved through that impossible gulf where every drop of water will be removed for our passage. There will be guaranteed safety as we pass through into His glory.
Either death or rapture is coming. The Lord is carefully watching over His flock until that day. When the time of our calling arrives, the infinite gulf will be parted. We, His redeemed, will pass through with ease and safety. This is all pictured in the annual celebration of Israel in the conjoined feasts of the Lord – Passover and Unleavened Bread. Concerning both the Passover and the Feast of Unleavened Bread, in Christ we proclaim, “Feasts fulfilled.”
Closing Verse: “A little leaven leavens the whole lump.” Galatians 5:9
Next Week: Luke 1:35 Announcing history’s greatest event! (The Son of the Highest and of a Maidservant) (Christmas Sermon)
The Lord has you exactly where He wants you. He has a good plan and purpose for you. Even if you have a lifetime of sin heaped up behind you, He can wash it away and purify you completely and wholly. So follow Him and trust Him and He will do marvelous things for you and through you.
Passover and Unleavened Bread
‘These are the feasts of the Lord
Holy convocations which you shall proclaim
At their appointed times
Each year it shall be the same
On the fourteenth day
Of the first month at twilight
Is the Lord’s Passover
A time when the moon is full and burning bright
And on the fifteenth day
Of the same month, pay heed to what is said
Is the Feast of Unleavened Bread to the Lord
Seven days you must eat unleavened bread
On the first day
You shall have a holy convocation
You shall do no customary work on it
So it shall be for the entire nation
But you shall offer an offering
Made by fire to the Lord for seven days, so to you I submit
The seventh day shall be a holy convocation
You shall do no customary work on it
The Passover is fulfilled as says 1 Corinthians 5:7
And for this we are ever grateful to the Lord
It is through His cross that we can return to heaven
So we are assured in Your word
And the feast of Unleavened Bread
It is fulfilled as well in Christ Jesus
To Him we now live in it, as the word has said
Great things, O God, You have done for us!
Hallelujah to You, O God, great things You have done!
Hallelujah to You, O God, for the giving of Jesus Your Son!
Hallelujah and Amen…
Timeline of Christ’s Passion Week –
Jesus rode into Jerusalem on a donkey on Sunday, 6 April 0032. This is based on dating from the prophecy of Daniel 9:24-27 and the exemplary work of Sir Robert Anderson.
However, people will still try to find a reason why the crucifixion wasn’t on Friday, 11 April 0032. There are a couple reasons why this is disputed, each which certainly results from misunderstanding of biblical terminology. The first is a fear that what’s stated in Matthew 12:40 would mean an error in what Jesus said. The second results from a perceived conflict between the gospel accounts in Matthew, Mark, and Luke and that of John.
In the first disputed reason, Jesus is quoted by Matthew as saying, “For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of a huge fish, so the Son of Man will be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.” Matthew 12:40
The resurrection certainly occurred on a Sunday and only the most extreme cases dispute this – and they do it without justification. Some folks fear that because He rose on a Sunday and it was “3 days and 3 nights” that Jesus was in the tomb then it was either Wednesday or Thursday that He must have gone to the cross. It’s important to note that this verse is from Matthew and is directed to the Jewish people – Jesus as King. Hebrew idioms would have been understood and not needed any clarification or verbal amending. To the audience Matthew was writing to any part of a day is considered to be inclusive of the whole day. It’s no different than terminology we use today. If I arrive in Florida on a plane at 11:30pm on 11 April, during a later conversation I would still say I was in Florida on that day. The biblical pattern of “evening and morning” being a day goes back to the first chapter of the Bible and includes an entire day – regardless of what part of a day one is referring to.
The same verse, as recorded in Luke says, “As the crowds increased, Jesus said, “This is a wicked generation. It asks for a miraculous sign, but none will be given it except the sign of Jonah. For as Jonah was a sign to the Ninevites, so also will the Son of Man be to this generation.” Luke 11:29, 20 In this instance, Luke was not writing to only Jewish people, but predominately to non-Jewish people – Jesus as the Son of Man. Therefore, the terminology is amended to avoid confusion. This occurs many times in the gospels and therefore the addressees (or the background of the writers themselves) need to be identified to understand proper terminology.
The second issue to be resolved is that some scholars claim that John “appears” to place the crucifixion on a different date than the other writers. Because of this, an attempt to insert some second type of Passover meal is made. This supposedly helps the Bible out of an apparent problem. However, no such meal is identified in the Bible – at any time. Nor is it necessary to make something erroneous like this up. The Bible identifies the timing of the entire Passion Week, dispelling the problem. The terminology for “Preparation Day” used in all four gospel accounts absolutely clears this up and will be noted below.
Here’s what you need to know:
Paul plainly states that the Feast of Firstfruits is a picture of the resurrection:
“But Christ has indeed been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep.” 1 Corinthians 15:20
The feast of Firstfruits was a Sunday according to Leviticus 23:15 – “From the day after the Sabbath, the day you brought the sheaf of the wave offering, count off seven full weeks.” Note: the Sabbath is a Saturday. We don’t need to go any further there to know this is correct and that Christ rose on a Sunday.
Here is the math from the gospel accounts. It’s all there in black and white and very easy to look up –
**“Six days before the Passover, Jesus arrived at Bethany, where Lazarus lived, whom Jesus had raised from the dead.” John 12:1 This would have been a Sabbath day (Saturday.)
**“The next day the great crowd that had come for the Feast heard that Jesus was on his way to Jerusalem.” John 12:12 This would have been 5 days before the Passover, meaning Sunday (Palm Sunday) as the Passover would have started Thursday night at sundown and run until Friday night at sundown (remember biblical days start at sundown).
The account couldn’t be clearer that the next day after the Passover was a Sabbath. This is indicated several times. Some people have attempted to use the terminology in John (it was a “high day” or a “special Sabbath”) to indicate that it could have been a day other than a Saturday. Special Sabbaths are specified in Leviticus and don’t necessarily fall on Saturdays. However, the term “Sabbath” as used in the other gospel accounts is indicating a Saturday. There is no indication, anywhere, that there were two Sabbaths in a row on this particular week. In fact, such an analysis does an injustice to the reading of the text. Therefore, the special Sabbath occurred on a regular Sabbath day (Saturday).
From this we can give the entire week’s schedule (refer to the cited verses in your own Bible to familiarize yourself with what’s being said) –
Sabbath 6 before // John 12:1 – …six days before the Passover. Bethany/Lazarus.
Sunday 5 before // John 12:12 & Mark 11:10 – The next day… Palm Sunday/Riding the donkey.
Monday 4 before // Mark 11:12 Now on the next day… Jesus cursed the fig tree.
Tuesday 3 before // Mark 11:20 Now in the morning… The withered fig is identified.
Wednesday 2 before // The gospels are silent on what occurred on this day.
Thursday 1 before – Passover starts at Sundown //Mark 14:1 After two days it was the Passover… (this is the first timing mentioned since Mark 11:20 which was Tuesday).
Note: Pay special attention to the fact that in the following accounts Mark is using Jewish time (sunset to sunset and John is using Roman time) –
Mark 14:12 – “Now on the first day of Unleavened Bread when they killed the Passover Lamb.”
John 13:1 – “Now before the Feast of the Passover….” Meal, Washing of Feet, Gethsemane.
***Christ crucified this same 24 hour period, but it was obviously after the final night at Gethsemane and then the illegal trial. Mark is speaking of this event from sundown, John is speaking of it on Roman time (this is obvious because they use different terminology for the same meal where Judas left to betray the Lord… can’t miss this point and get it right.)
6 days before – Saturday
5 days before – Sunday
4 days before – Monday
3 days before – Tuesday
2 days before – Wednesday
1 day before – Thursday
The Day – Friday
The problem with people believing that John was speaking of a different day (as mentioned above) is that they miss the fact that the terminology for the day is different based on the author. To clear up any misunderstanding between the synoptic gospels and the Gospel of John, one needs only to compare the uses for the term “Preparation Day.” Once one does this, there are no discrepancies in the accounts –
Matthew 27:62 – “The next day, the one after the Preparation Day, the chief priests and the Pharisees went to Pilate.” This was the day after the crucifixion. Matthew says it is the day “after Preparation Day.”
Mark 15:42 – “It was Preparation Day (that is, the day before the Sabbath). So as evening approached…” This is the day of the crucifixion. Mark says “It was Preparation Day.”
Luke 23:5 – “It was Preparation Day, and the Sabbath was about to begin.” This is the day of the crucifixion. Luke says “It was Preparation Day.”
John 19:14 – “Now it was Preparation Day of the Passover.” This is the day of the crucifixion. John says “It was Preparation Day.”
Based on the biblical evidence, there is
No discrepancy between any of the accounts.
Jesus was crucified on a Friday.
Jesus rose on a Sunday.
As a final note, the Bible says 13 times that He was raised “on” the third day. This is mentioned by Jesus himself as well as the apostles. Therefore, it must have been Friday that Christ was crucified.
Please don’t believe (as some have claimed) that Christ rode the donkey into Jerusalem on a Saturday instead of a Sunday. This would have been the Sabbath. If He did, He would have violated the law –
“Observe the Sabbath day, to keep it holy, as the LORD your God commanded you. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is the Sabbath of the LORD your God. In it you shall do no work: you, nor your son, nor your daughter, nor your male servant, nor your female servant, nor your ox, nor your donkey, nor any of your cattle, nor your stranger who is within your gates, that your male servant and your female servant may rest as well as you.” Deuteronomy 5:12-14
There is no need to make the assertion it was a Saturday unless you simply wanted to finagle the dating. There is also no biblical provision for an exemption to the commandment prohibiting working a donkey. As stated above, the work of Sir Robert Anderson in the 1800s clearly demonstrates that Jesus rode into Jerusalem on 6 April 0032. This can be validated in other ways and is the correct year and month for the Lord’s crucifixion.
The biblical evidence is quite clear and without ambiguity or total uncertainty…Jesus Christ was crucified as the Passover Lamb on Friday, 11 April 0032 and was resurrected to eternal life on Sunday 13 April 0032.
He now offers eternal life to all who call on Him by faith. Have you accepted His offer of peace?