Sacrificial lamb - artist unknown

 
     

                             

Easter is a big date in the traditional church calendar, yet 'easter' is never mentioned in the Bible.

Passover on the other hand is mentioned 46 times in the Old Testament and 27 times in the New Testament.  Clearly it is a very important date in God's calendar.

Luke 22:7 Then came the day of Unleavened Bread on which the Passover lamb had to be sacrificed. (NIV)

So how has the scriptural title 'Passover' been replaced by the non - scriptural title 'easter' - a pagan god's name - and how have the scriptural Passover dates been replaced by the non - scriptural pagan 'easter' dates?

This is the primary issue of this paper, but before answering this question it might be helpful and challenging to look at the details behind the issue.

 Jonah chapter 1 verse 17 is very specific in its detail.

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

In the gospels Jesus used this super- natural event in Jonah's life to issue a dramatic Messianic prophecy about Himself.

When the scribes and Pharisees wanted a clear Messianic sign from Jesus He replied that He would only give one sign to them. He declared that just as Jonah was in the great fish's belly for three days and three nights so He also would be interred in the heart of the earth for ‘three days and three nights.

Matthew 12:38-40 'Then some of the scribes and Pharisees answered, saying, "Teacher, we want to see a sign from You." But He answered and said to them, "An evil and adulterous generation seeks after a sign, and no sign will be given to it except the sign of the prophet Jonah. 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.

Four chapters later we read of a similar exchange when the Pharisees and the Sadducees came testing Him again asking for a sign from heaven to affirm His Messianic claims. His answer had not changed. 

Matthew 16: 1- 4  'Then the Pharisees and Sadducees came, and testing Him asked that He would show them a sign from heaven. He answered and said to them, "When it is evening you say, 'It will be fair weather, for the sky is red'; "and in the morning, 'It will be foul weather today, for the sky is red and threatening.' Hypocrites! You know how to discern the face of the sky, but you cannot discern the signs of the times. "A wicked and adulterous generation seeks after a sign, and no sign shall be given to it except the sign of the prophet Jonah." And He left them and departed. 

Again in In Luke 11: 29 -30 we read of the events in Jonah's life being used as a sign.

And while the crowds were thickly gathered together, He began to say, "This is an evil generation. It seeks a sign, and no sign will be given to it except the sign of Jonah the prophet. "For as Jonah became a sign to the Ninevites, so also the Son of Man will be to this generation.

What sign was Jonah to the Ninevites?  The commentaries that I have checked link these verses to Matthew 12:38, and the Fourfold Gospel commentary writes

For even as Jonah became a sign unto the Ninevites, so shall also the Son of man be to this generation. Nineveh was the capital of the Assyrian Empire, situated on the Tigris River , and in its day the greatest city of the world. Jonah's preservation was a sign from heaven, because wrought without human instrumentality. The resurrection of Christ was such a sign to the Jews, but rejecting it, they continued to seek other signs

Matthew Henry commenting on Matthew 12:38 said..

The resurrection of Christ from the dead by His own power, called here the sign of the prophet Jonah, was the great proof of Christ's being the Messiah. As Jonah was three days and three nights in the whale, and then came out alive, thus Christ would be so long in the grave, and then rise again'

So I think it is safe to say that if Jesus was not able to fulfil this sign He was not who He said He was.

Yet from childhood I and everyone else have been taught using the following model. 

If one counts the end of Friday and the opening moments of Sunday as 'days' then one can certainly claim three days, but the three 'nights' presents a problem. 

Did Jesus fail to fulfil the sign of Jonah?   Let's see.

Each new Hebrew day begins at sunset.

This is taken from Genesis chapter one where God declared..
“so the evening and the morning were the first day..the second day..etc”

So for instance, Friday evening to Saturday evening is.. one day.

The Bible tells us that the grave was empty well before dawn on the Sunday..

John 20:1 Now on the first day of the week Mary Magdalene went to the tomb early, while it was still dark, and saw that the stone had been taken away from the tomb

..so this leaves us - in the traditional church model - with just one full Hebrew night and one full Hebrew day between Jesus' death.. and His resurrection.


I believe the truth is that Jesus did not die on ‘Good Friday’. 

Along with many others I believe the scriptures clearly show that Jesus died just before sunset on the Wednesday and rose again well before dawn on the Sunday.

How do I arrive at this?

First, we start by understanding one aspect of God’s prophetic calendar. His Feast and Fast Days.

He instituted seven in all. And more than 40 major events in scripture occurred on these ‘Kingdom Calendar Days’

Writing in his epistles (and setting the early Jewish converts free from the legal ritual of keeping these days ‘religiously’) Paul tells us that these days were but a shadow of the real thing.

The real thing being of course.. Jesus.

Physical pointers to great spiritual truths that have Jesus at the very centre of them.

Let’s look at one Jewish month and unfold it carefully.

In Exodus 12:2 we read of where six months of the Jewish year had already gone by and it was about to be the month of ‘Nisan’ or the seventh month of their year.

Suddenly God, through Moses, instigated a new calendar. He was marking out something major.

Exodus 12:2  "This month shall be your beginning of months; it shall be the first month of the year to you"

Month seven never took place that year and so ‘Nisan’ (also known as the month of ‘Abib’ ) became the first month of the new calendar. And it was here that God introduced the Feast of Passover.

A male lamb without blemish was to be set aside (or hidden away) on the tenth of Nisan, then taken out on the fourteenth of Nisan and slain -in the evening (or in Hebrew understanding 'between two evenings') - without any of its bones being broken - and the blood used to protect God’s people from the angel of death. Death would ‘pass-over’ them and they would be safe under the lamb’s blood.

Exodus 12: 2-7  "This month shall be your beginning of months; it shall be the first month of the year to you. Speak to all the congregation of Israel, saying: ‘On the tenth day of this month every man shall take for himself a lamb, according to the house of his father, a lamb for a household. And if the household is too small for the lamb, let him and his neighbour 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. Your lamb shall be without blemish, a male of the first year. You may take it from the sheep or from the goats. Now you shall keep it until the fourteenth day of the same month. Then the whole assembly of the congregation of Israel shall kill it at twilight. And they shall take some of the blood and put it on the two doorposts and on the lintel of the houses where they eat it

Jesus rode into Jerusalem on the tenth of Nisan as the hidden Lamb. People hailed Him with “Hosanna to the son of David

On the fourteenth He was revealed as the unblemished male Lamb, and on that day, at twilight, the Lamb of God was slain without the city walls.  None of His bones were broken. And when we abide under His Blood death will pass over us. We have eternal life.

So we see clearly that the new calendar and this one day Passover feast period was clearly instigated by God in Exodus in order that His Son would clearly, prophetically, and forever be identified as the true Passover Lamb.

But God introduced a second Feast period of seven days to run in tandem with the Feast of Passover, and this Feast was known as the Feast of Unleavened Bread.

Exodus 11:15  '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. 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;

Please note that the day after Passover Day was a special Sabbath, or a holy convocation, when no manner of work was to be done.  

From this point onwards the one day Feast of Passover and the seven day feast of Unleavened bread were inseparable.

Mark 14:1 Now the Passover and the Feast of Unleavened Bread
were only two days away



The Feast of Unleavened Bread was so important that it was one of only three feasts where all the males of Israel were expected to return to the Temple at Jerusalem. (Ex.23: 14-19)

Leaven always equates in scripture to sin, so here was a Feast which God was using to prophetically point to that future day when Christ’s 'Passover' death would take away the leaven of sin. 

The Unleavened Bread Feast period was seven days, and seven is always God's number for 'completeness' and so we see why the two Feasts were inseparable. The Passover sacrifice of the Lamb of God would take away all sin - completely!

Paul uses this to speak to the church at Corinth..

1 Cor. 5: 7-8 “purge out therefore the old leaven, that ye may be a new lump, as ye are unleavened. For even Christ our Passover is sacrificed for us. Therefore let us keep the feast, not with the old leaven, neither with the leaven of malice and wickedness, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth”

As the seven day long ‘Feast of Unleavened Bread’ bore the main burden of activity the whole eight days and the two Feast titles of .. ‘Passover’ and ‘Unleavened Bread’ became completely interchangeable.

Luke 22:1 Now the Feast of Unleavened Bread drew nigh which is called the Passover
Luke 22:7 And the day of Unleavened Bread came, on which the Passover must be sacrificed.

God’s instructions to Moses recorded for us again in Leviticus chapter 23 make everything clear regarding these days..

On the fourteenth day of the first month at twilight (almost sunset) is the Lord’s Passover.  And on the fifteenth day of the same month 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.

These sentences settle the issue that the day after the crucifixion was a holy convocation or a ‘Sabbath day’.

This is VITAL to understand.. because failure to understand this has led us to see Friday as the Day of Crucifixion because Scripture clearly tells us that the day after Jesus was crucified was a Sabbath, and  we, with our ‘Gentile’ lack of understanding. assumed this meant that the next day was the Saturday Sabbath,.. and so we have lived and taught and worshipped according to our complete lack of understanding. Even though the period from the end of Friday to the end of Saturday was, as we’ve already seen, only one full day and one full night.. and not three as Jesus proclaimed.


In the traditional church model (above) we see that the period from the sunset that ended the Friday.. to the sunset that ended the Saturday.. was 100% Sabbath and gave the women no available time to buy or prepare the spices.

The truth is that the day after Jesus was crucified was not the weekly Sabbath but the SPECIAL Sabbath. The first day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread.

This Feast of Unleavened Bread Sabbath was the reason why Jesus’ body was removed from the cross before sunset in order not to profane the coming special ‘Sabbath day’ or ‘High Day’

John 19:14 and 31 state clearly that the next day was a high day sabbath - not the weekly Saturday sabbath

Now it was the Preparation Day of the Passover, and about the sixth hour. And he said to the Jews, 'Behold your King'

Therefore, because it was the Preparation Day, that the bodies should not remain on the cross on the Sabbath (for that Sabbath was a high day), the Jews asked Pilate that their legs might be broken, and that they might be taken away.

Kevin Conner in his excellent book 'The Feasts of Israel' states ' Failure to recognise that there were two Sabbaths in Passover week has brought much confusion and misunderstanding to the day of Christ's crucifixion, as well as the day of His resurrection. It has distorted the truth of Christ's statement concerning being 3 days and 3 nights in the heart of the earth' (p32)

So this is, I believe, the true model that makes sense of scripture, where the scripture fits the facts and the facts fit the scriptures. Hebrew days were evening to evening...

Making sense of the crucifixion events recorded for us in scripture will prove confusing in the extreme without a basic understanding of the Hebrew days and hours. First of all, as we’ve seen, the Hebrew day starts as sunset while ours starts at midnight..

Each Jewish day is divided into two halves or two 12 hour periods. 

The first half is 'night'. Sunset to sunrise.   The second half is day, from sunrise to sunset.

Then each individual half is divided into ‘watches’. 

At first into 3 watches of 4 hours each (Judges 7:19) but by Christ’s time it had become 4 ‘watches’ of 3 hours each. (Mark 6:48) 

So the four 'night watches' were 6pm - 9pm, 9pm-midnight, midnight -3am and 3am-6am

The daylight hours were regarded as a ‘12 hour day’ (John 11:9)

Therefore the first hour of this 12 hour 'day' was six o’clock in the morning in our western understanding of time

The 'sixth hour' was our noon. The 'ninth hour' answered to our three o’clock in the afternoon.

By this we can then understand from scripture that the time in which Christ was crucified began at the '3rd hour' (our 9am) which was the usual time for the morning sacrifice, and ended at the '9th hour' (our 3pm) which was the usual the time of the evening sacrifice.



As if this isn’t hard enough to get our heads round, the Jewish day as well as starting at ‘evening’ (6pm) also had two ‘ritual evenings’ in the second half of the day!! This diagram along with Bible notes explains these ‘evenings’...

Going back to the Crucifixion week, we see that Wednesday, 14th Nisan, begins at sunset - which equates to our Tuesday 6pm.

In these early morning hours of darkness, Jesus, ‘on the night He was betrayed’ eats His last Passover meal, thereby instituting the ‘Lord’s Supper’. Remember each day begins with evening.

John 13:1 ‘Jesus knew on the evening of Passover day that it would be His last night on earth before returning to the Father’

During these hours of darkness, and right through to the early hours after sunrise, after the agonies of Gethsemane, He is betrayed, arrested, put on trial, brought before the people, condemned, beaten, flogged, and finally at around 9am our time He is nailed to a cross between two thieves on a hilltop outside the City walls. 

9am - noon is daylight, but then the unexpected happens.  Darkness comes over the land from noon to 3pm. 

This fulfilled the prophecy by Amos that God would cause the sun to go down at noon. This turned the Jew's Passover feast into mourning for 'the only Son'

"And it shall come to pass in that day," says the Lord GOD, "That I will make the sun go down at noon, And I will darken the earth in broad daylight; I will turn your feasts into mourning, And all your songs into lamentation; I will bring sackcloth on every waist, And baldness on every head; I will make it like mourning for an only son, And its end like a bitter day. Amos 8:9-10

He cries out .. “My God, My God why have You forsaken Me?” 

Shortly after 3pm He cries out “it is finished” and gives up His Spirit. 

This 3pm (ninth hour) death is important to note, because it would seem that if Passover (Nisan 14th) fell on a Friday - as we have been traditionally taught - then the evening sacrifice was moved forward by two hours.  Ungers Bible Dictionary (Festivals) states

'.. if the 14th of Nisan happened on a Friday, it was killed at 12.30 pm, and offered at 1.30 pm, two hours earlier than usual, so as to avoid any needless breach of the Sabbath'.

The Unleavened Bread Sabbath is fast approaching as the sun drops ever more over the horizon, and no bodies must be left hanging on the cross during a Sabbath. 

His side is speared to confirm His death, and then He is taken down from the cross, wrapped in cloths and laid in the grave belonging to the rich Joseph of Arimathea. 

Now when evening had come, (note: Evening is between 3 - 6pm) there came a rich man from Arimathea, named Joseph, who himself had also become a disciple of Jesus. This man went to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus. Then Pilate commanded the body to be given to him. When Joseph had taken the body, he wrapped it in a clean linen cloth, and laid it in his new tomb which he had hewn out of the rock; and he rolled a large stone against the door of the tomb, and departed. Matthew 27:57-60

The tomb is sealed, and guarded. Messiah is dead. All this must be done before sunset (6 pm) as no manner of work can be done on the holy convocation or special Sabbath.

Matthew Henry's commentary confirms this..

The time when he was buried; when the evening was come; the same evening that he died, before sun-set, as is usual in burying malefactors. It was not deferred till the next day, because it was the sabbath;  for burying the dead is not proper work either for a day of rest or for a day of rejoicing, as the sabbath is. 

The first night ‘in the heart of the earth’ begins.

He lies there during the Thursday - Nisan 15th - and the women cannot buy spices to anoint His body with because no manner of work can be done on this
high (not weekly) Sabbath

Therefore, because it was the Preparation Day, that the bodies should not remain on the cross on the Sabbath (for that Sabbath was a high day), the Jews asked Pilate that their legs might be broken, and that they might be taken away. John 19:31

He lies there during the Friday - Nisan 16th - and now that the annual Passover Sabbath was passed the women can purchase their spices, almost certainly in one of the street markets

Mark 16:1 Now when the Sabbath was past, Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome bought spices, that they might come and anoint Him.

..And then go home to prepare their spices..

Luke 24: 1b.... the spices which they had prepared.

They then have to wait until the weekly Sabbath (of the ten commandments) has past before they can continue with their task..

... and they rested on the Sabbath according to the commandment. Luke 23:56b

If we join what Mark records in Mark 16:1 with what Luke records in Luke 23:56 I think we get this..(the words in brackets are mine)

Now when the (unleavened bread) Sabbath was past, (Thursday) Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome (walked to the market place and) bought spices (on the Friday) that they might come and anoint Him.

Then they returned (walked home) and (worked) prepared spices and fragrant oils (during the Friday)  And (then) they rested on the (weekly) Sabbath according to the commandment.

In this traditional church model the women would have had no time to go to the market, buy spices and fragrances, go home and prepare them, and then bring them to the tomb at dawn on Sunday morning.

 

Traditional model

 

However, in the model clearly revealed in scripture they do have the whole day between the Special Sabbath of Unleavened Bread (John 19:31) and the weekly Sabbath of the ten commandments. (Luke 23:56)

 

The Gospel model

The women wanted to anoint the Body of Jesus as soon as their laws allowed them and that was early on the Sunday morning once the weekly Sabbath had ended at 6pm Saturday. In the natural the human body begins to decay quickly after death in hot eastern climates, and especially where the body has not been embalmed. Spurgeon, commenting on John 11:36, wrote about Lazarus.. "In that climate, putrefaction would soon set in."

However no matter how long Jesus' body would have lain in the heart of the earth putrefaction would never set in.  The super-natural would be the case. This was prophesied in Psalm 16..

For You will not leave my soul in Sheol, Nor will You allow Your Holy One to see corruption. (Psalms 16:10)

And confirmed by Paul as a witness to his listeners..

"he, foreseeing this, spoke concerning the resurrection of the Christ, that His soul was not left in Hades, nor did His flesh see corruption. (Acts 2:31 &13:35)

Lazarus was four days in the heart of the earth and despite Martha's natural presumptions about the body of her brother being in decay and thus foul smelling, the super-natural miracle was that he emerged without decay.

Jesus lies there during the the Saturday - Nisan 17th.. until.. coming up to the sunset hour that would herald in the Sunday, the first day of the new week,  His life returns. Death dies. Messiah is alive.

Three days and three nights exactly. A full 72 hours.  (Judean law stated that a person could not be declared legally dead until 72 hours after his time of death)
 

Now there is no debate that Jesus revealed Himself to the world as the Risen Christ on the first day of the week - a Sunday. (Except that that date is not - as we have shown - ‘Easter’ Sunday)

But it is interesting to probe into scripture to see whether He arose at the end of the Sabbath on Saturday, 17th Nisan - or whether He arose, as is commonly taught - during the early hours of Sunday.

Luke and John’s account talk about ..‘very early’.. ‘while it was still dark’..on the first day.

Luke 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.

John 20:1 Now on the first day of the week Mary Magdalene went to the tomb early, while it was still dark, and saw that the stone had been taken away from the tomb

Mark’s gospel however throws another schedule into the mix ..

Mark 16:1 ..very early on the first day of the week, just after sunrise, they were on their way to the tomb.

“Very early in the morning”.. “while it was still dark” and ..“just after sunrise”

To accord with Mark, Luke and John’s account some Bible translations have written Matthew’s account as..

Matt. 28:1 Now after the Sabbath, as the first day of the week began to dawn, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary came to see the tomb.

But.. when we go to the literal word for word Greek/English Interlinear translation of what Matthew wrote, we find, - and remember not only is this the all important 'first mention' but that his gospel was especially addressed to Jewish listeners - that the women went to the tomb late on the Sabbath, as it was getting dusk, toward the first day of the week. That is at the very end of the Saturday.

Matt 28:1 Now late on the Sabbath, as it was getting dusk toward the first day of the week Mary the Magdalene and the other Mary came to see the sepulchre.

So was it dusk on Saturday (as Matthew writes) or pre-dawn as Luke and John write or after dawn as Mark writes?

The differences in the individual accounts of the women going to the tomb is by no means unique. The gospels accurately tell us what happened but at times there is minor variance in detail. (Strangely this is one of the convincing proofs of the Gospel writer's authenticity)

For example: The miracle which Jesus did near Jericho...

According to Luke (18:35) He was just about to enter the town, whereas Matthew (20:29) and Mark (10:46) say that He was just leaving it. 

Mark (10:46) and Luke (18:35) say that one blind man was sitting by the roadside begging for alms, while Matthew (20:30) says there were two.

Almighty God, who set each star in place, in His Sovereignty, could have ensured ‘photo copier print out’ repeat details in every Gospel writer's account of the events in Christ's life, but chose to let each individual writer report the story in their own way just as witnesses in a courtroom report the same incident in their own way.

This is almost certainly because God has given us (as we are seeing here) a basic prophetic foundation of scriptural understanding that is a light and a lamp through the prophetic outworking in the New Testament.

This forces us, the wild olive branches that have been grafted into the cultivated Olive tree, to look towards the roots of the Olive tree, and understand His firstborn people, the Jews.

Their relationship to the land of Israel and their adherence to the His sacred calendar is not only His prophetic time clock for us but a major source of spiritual revelation to us.  Much of the truth we need to prosper spiritually lies woven into their outworking story.

In the Old Testament the feasts were physical.  At the cross this external form was abolished and in the New Testament they are spiritual feasts.

If we want to know about end days Jesus said we must study the ‘fig tree’- which is Israel. The truth is written in Proverbs 25:2

‘It is the glory of God to conceal a matter, but the glory of kings is to search it out’

In seeking to understand His resurrection we must remember that Jesus said again, and again, that He would rise on the third day. 

Mr 9:31 For He taught His disciples and said to them, "The Son of Man is being betrayed into the hands of men, and they will kill Him. And after He is killed, He will rise the third day."

He also said that He would rise after three days

Mark 8:31 "And He began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer many things, and be rejected by the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and after three days rise again". 

These terms on the third day, after three days and in three days appear to be one and the same time period and there is much debate on what these terms mean but one thing seems clear. For Jesus to complete His proclaimed prophecy He had to be interred in the grave for a full three Hebrew days and three Hebrew nights.

Matt 12:40 "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.

It seems possible from this that the third day that He rose on was the very end of the Saturday Sabbath, Nisan the seventeenth. Then being seen on the Sunday, the 'morrow after the Sabbath'

Scripture seems to supports this in shadow and type.

For instance, Noah's Ark came to rest on the seventeenth day of the seventh month. (Genesis 8:4)

Then in Exodus 12:1-5 we read of where God changed the seventh month to become the first month.  Nisan.  Passover month.

Thus when we read of that Ark of safety, symbolising Jesus - the Ark of our salvation - coming to rest on the mountains of Aarat on the seventeenth day, we understand that God's judgement was over. The Ark had done its job.

..and on the seventeenth day of the seventh month the ark came to rest on the mountains of Ararat. Genesis 8:4

Jesus was resurrected on the seventeenth day, and rested. The judgement was over. All who are in Christ are safe from the flood of God's judgement.

 

   14th
15th
16th
17th
18th

     

You see now that these prophetic dates do not work with the traditional model that we have all been taught.

 

14th
15th
16th
17th
 

     

Other major events occurred on the seventeenth day of Nisan where the common theme was the end of the old system, and the start of the new. For instance..

.God parted the Red Sea for the Hebrews to pass through to safety from Pharaoh (type of satan)

('Now Moses wrote down the starting points of their journeys at the command of the LORD. And these are their journeys according to their starting points: They departed from Rameses in the first month, on the fifteenth day of the first month; on the day after the Passover the children of Israel went out with boldness in the sight of all the Egyptians. - Numbers 33:2-3  Their progress can be tracked to the evening of the seventeenth, camping at Migdol.  Then verse 8 reads, “And they departed (that is, the morning of the seventeenth) from before Pi-hahiroth, and passed through the midst of the sea into the wilderness. . . .”)

Manna ceased on Nisan 17th and Israelites feasted purely on the food of Canaan. Joshua  5:12 

(On the fourteenth of Nisan they sacrificed the paschal lamb: on the fifteenth, i.e., according to our calculation, the same day after sunset, they disposed themselves for eating it, and actually did eat it. On the morrow, the sixteenth, after having offered to God the homer, they began eating the corn of the country; and the seventeenth, the manna ceased to fall from heaven.- Dodd on Joshua 5:12 in Adam Clarke's Commentary)

Hezekiah celebrated the cleansing of the Temple on the seventeenth.

(2 Chronicles 29:17 states that the work was completed on 16th Nisan and the celebration began in the Temple the following day, the 17th. Matthew Henry's commentary confirms this.. 'The temple being cleansed, we have here an account of the good use that was immediately made of it. A solemn assembly was called to meet the king at the temple, the very next day - 2Ch 29:20)

Queen Esther exposed Haman's plot and saved her people.

( Then the king's scribes were called on the thirteenth day of the first month, and a decree was written according to all that Haman commanded - Esther 3:12  Esther and the Jews then fast for three days and three nights, - 'Go, gather all the Jews who are present in Shushan, and fast for me; neither eat nor drink for three days, night or day. My maids and I will fast likewise' - Esther 4:16  Then on the third day (16th) she goes to ask the King for her request 'Now it happened on the third day that Esther put on her royal robes and stood in the inner court of the king's palace - Esther 5:1  Esther's request is for a banquet to be held the following day. 'let the king and Haman come to the banquet which I will prepare for them, and tomorrow' - Esther 5:8 and there she exposes Haman and her people escape

Type 'Nisan seventeenth' into Google search engine and you will discover a wealth of links all pointing to Saturday Nisan seventeenth as being the true resurrection date.

Also a Messianic Jewish account of early church history seems to verify a Nissan 17th as resurrection Saturday- read shortly)

HOWEVER. two verses present a difficulty that I have not been able to resolve.

In Mark 16:9 we read 

Now when He rose early on the first day of the week, He appeared first to Mary Magdalene, out of whom He had cast seven demons.

Among scholars there is some controversy over this scripture because it was not found in the earliest manuscripts. For instance Adam Clarke's commentary on this verse states. "Verse 9. Now when Jesus was risen &c,] This, to the conclusion of the Gospel, is wanting in the famous Codex Vaticanus, and has anciently been wanting in many others. See Wetstein and Griesbach"

Kevin Conner in his book 'The Feasts of Israel' writes 'Each of the gospels confirm the fact that the resurrection of Christ took place at the close of the weekly Sabbath and early the first day of the new week' and gives the following chart as as illustration..

This 'close of the weekly Sabbath and early the first day of the new week' statement appears at first reading to cover the situation, until we realise that if Jesus rose even one second into the Sunday then He would have risen on the fourth day, not the third. His diagram clearly ends the internment at the very end of Saturday, the end of the third day.

Then in Luke 24:21-24 we read about Jesus conversing with the men on the Emmaus Road on the Sunday.  They say to Jesus..

"But we were hoping that it was He who was going to redeem Israel. Indeed, besides all this, today is the third day since these things happened.

Robertson's NT Word pictures commentary states 'Now the third day (tritên tautên hêmeran agei). A difficult idiom for the English. "One is keeping this a third day."

If, as we've been traditionally taught, Jesus rose on the first day of the week (Sunday) and that day was also the third day - then only two models can confirm those two verses. 

One is the traditional model where Jesus was indeed crucified on the Friday, thus the Sunday would fit as being both 'the first day of the week' and ' the third day since these things happened'  Thus..

The problem then is, as we have seen, that the key scriptural Messianic sign of three days and three  nights is not fulfilled as here there is only one full night and a minute portion of another night spent 'in the heart of the earth.  (Matthew 12:40)'

The other model suggested that would confirm these two verses would be if Passover (i.e the Crucifixion) was the THURSDAY, Unleavened Bread (special Sabbath) was on the Friday, weekly Sabbath on the Saturday and then Jesus rising very early on the first day of the week.  The ladies could have somehow found a market stall opened in the dark hours of the 1st day now that the weekly Sabbath was legally over and bought and prepared the spices before hurrying to the tomb before sunrise. Thus..

     Thursday       Friday     Saturday      Sunday (ladies buy spices)

The problem again is, as we have seen, that the key scriptural sign of three days and three  nights is not fulfilled as here there are only two full nights and a small portion of another night spent 'in the heart of the earth.  (Matthew 12:40) 

Also Luke writes that the ladies bought the spices after they had seen Jesus laid to rest in the sepulchre and then had rested as the weekly Sabbath was approaching.

Then they returned and prepared spices and fragrant oils. And they rested on the Sabbath according to the commandment. Luke 23:56

Also a quick check of Jewish calendars for the 10 year period which would have definitely included these events shows no Passover day on a Thursday, only a Wednesday.  (see later on in this paper)

An interesting and intriguing problem!

Note: In December 2009, many years after I wrote this study, I found a book entitled  'Difficulties in the Bible' [ISBN 0-88368-301-6] written by the great evangelist R.A.Torrey, who also became the first dean of the Moody Bible Institute. In the book he devoted a section to this very question 'Was Jesus  really three days and three nights in the heart of the earth' and to my delight he confirmed everything I had written in this study.  I quote,

"To sum it all up, Jesus died just about sunset on Wednesday. Seventy two hours later, exactly three days and three nights, at the beginning of the first day of the week, Saturday at sunset, He arose from the grave' (page 160)  I noted that in saying this he took the end of Saturday and the beginning of Sunday as one and the same thing.  He does note the difficulty I have mentioned here, and again I quote.. 'Some people have objected to this, and it is said that, Sunday would be the fourth day since these things were done; but the answer is very simple. These things were done at sunset, just as Thursday was beginning. They were therefore completed on Thursday, and the first day since Thursday would be Friday, the second day since Thursday would be Saturday, and the "third day since" Thursday would be Sunday, the first day of the week. So the supposed objection in reality supports the theory.  On the other hand, if the crucifixion took place on Friday, by no manner of reckoning could Sunday be made "the third day since" these things were done. There are many passages in the Scriptures that support the theory advanced above and that make it necessary to believe that Jesus died late on Wednesday.."  (page 161-162)

What scripture certainly leaves us in no doubt about is that Sunday was the ‘first day’ of His resurrection. That was the day God displayed Him to the world. Fulfilling the prophetic 'Feast of Firstfruits.  He was 'waved' before God as the firstfruit of the harvest that would follow.

Acts 10:40 but God raised him from the dead on the third day and (then) caused him to be seen. (my word in brackets)

But here is the sad thing. And (finally) the whole point of this paper.

 

Each year we ignore God's ‘Kingdom prophetic calendar’ ..and offer to God unrelated pagan worship dates instead.

God's Passover is dated always on a full moon - 14 days after the first sliver of the moon begins the month of Nisan. (Abib)

Whereas our traditional ‘Easter’ or ‘Spring feast’ comes ‘after the full moon that follows or falls on, the 21st of March’ (the vernal equinox). When that date is Sunday and full moon also, the next Sunday is ‘Easter Sunday’.  

Sometimes Easter and Passover are close, at other times not.

It is interesting. but it has nothing at all to do with scripture.

Passover was a judgement against all the gods of Egypt. It was the final statement of God's power' (NKJV Bible commentary on Exodus 12:12 below)

 

'For I will pass through the land of Egypt on that night, and will strike all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, both man and beast; and against all the gods of Egypt I will execute judgement: I am the Lord. [emphasis mine]


Yet centuries later the powers of darkness managed to not only move the dates off God's prophetic calendar, but also had the events named after one of their gods.

‘Easter’ is simply the name of the pagan goddess ‘Ishtar’ who manifested herself under many similar names..

.. ‘Asherah’.. ‘Ashtoreth’.. ‘Eshtar’.. ‘Eostra’..‘Astarte’..‘Ostara’

As ‘Asherah’, or ‘Ashtoreth’ she was the moon goddess of the Phoenicians, representing the passive principle in nature, their principle female deity, frequently associated with the name of Baal, the sun god, their chief male deity (Jud 10:6 1 Sam.7:4 & 12:10)

She was ‘Ishtar’ of the Accadians and she was ‘Astarte’ of the Greeks (1 Kings 11:5,33 2 Kings 23:13 ) There was a temple of this goddess among the Philistines in the time of Saul (1 Sam. 31:10)

And under the name ‘Ishtar’ she was also one of the great deities of the Assyrians. The Phoenicians called her Astarte.

Solomon introduced the worship of this idol (2 kings 11: 33) Jezebel’s 400 Priests were probably employed in its service. (1 Kings 18:19)  This goddess was called the ‘queen of Heaven’ in Jeremiah (44:25)   (See the 'Mary' study paper for more details on this demonic goddess)

The 8th century British writer Bede, mentions that the name for Easter is derived from a pagan spring festival of the goddess Astara.

 The Easter bunny comes from the hare which was sacred to Astara, and the Easter egg is taken from the Ishtar egg, or seed of the serpent. In Spring each year Ishtar, the fertility goddess, was commemorated by decorating the Ishtar egg, a symbol of impregnation or fertility.

Witches today refer to her as the spring goddess ‘Ostara’   * (see also attached notes at end)

A New King James Bible commentary presents this story..

‘Tammuz’ : In pagan practices he was a Sumerian shepherd who married the goddess Ishtar. When he died, fertility ceased on earth. Since he was a vegetation deity the women of Judah were weeping for him, probably in the spring, in order to restore fertility by bringing him back from the dead’

One author adds detail to this legend behind the feast of ‘Ishtar’..

Way back in Genesis we read about the beginning of the counterfeit religious system that was born on the plains of Shinar in ancient Babylon, where Nimrod, defying God, built a tower that would reach to heaven. According to legend, Nimrod’s wife, Semiramis, a high priestess, had a son by the name of Tammuz, who was conceived miraculously. When Tammuz grew up, he was killed by a wild boar, but after forty days of his mother’s weeping, he was raised from the dead. It was in this story of Semiramis and Tammuz that the cultic worship of the “Mother and child” began to spread throughout the world. Forty days of lent memorialised the forty days of weeping over the death of Tammuz, and at the end of the forty days, the feast of Ishtar was observed to celebrate the resurrection of Tammuz.

The prophet Ezekiel was called by the Lord to go to the temple and see this cultic practise in process, and there Ezekiel watched the woman of Israel in their ritual weeping for ‘Tammuz’. The Lord rightly called the whole thing an abomination. (Ezekiel 8:13-14)

Easter eggs were used to signify the resurrection of Tammuz (and are still used by covens at Easter even today in their ‘Ostara’ rituals) We, the church, have ‘christianised’ the ‘Ishtar’ or ‘Ostara egg’ by linking it with the tomb stone being rolled away.

Gathering at dawn to worship as the sun rose above the horizon was another part of this pagan worship. We the church, have ‘christianised’ this by gathering at dawn on ‘Ishtar Sunday’ to worship Jesus.

Anything to do with Ishtar or her many aliases was and will always be an abomination to God. God’s views are always made clear and explicit...

Deuteronomy 12: 3 Break down their altars, smash their sacred stones and burn their Asherah poles in the fire; cut down the idols of their gods and wipe out their names from those places. You must not worship the LORD your God in their way.

Joshua 23:7 b  You shall not make mention of the name of their gods,..

When, where, and how did it all go wrong?

A Jewish convert, a hugely successful businessman called Stan Telchin wrote a book called ‘Betrayed’, describing the long and painful road that led to his eventual conversion.

He left his work to study the claims of Jesus because he was shocked at his daughter’s conversion to Christianity, and he was determined to prove her beliefs wrong.

His near obsessive study into early Jewish history eventually revealed the sad story of the fate of the early Jewish believers as the new gentile believers began to greatly outnumber them. 

He wrote..

‘...One of the major controversies concerned resurrection day.

The Jewish believers insisted that it must be held on the third day of the Passover the 17th day of Nisan
which covered the latter part of March and early April.

But since Passover was celebrated according to the Jewish calendar and not in accordance with the calendar used by the rest of the world, the 17th day of Nisan was not a meaningful date to the Gentiles.

They wanted to fix a date which had a meaning on their calendars.

In 196 A.D. at a council meeting in Cesarea, it was determined that resurrection day would be celebrated on a Sunday each year during the Feast of Eshtar.

That decision produced ‘Easter Sunday’.

The Jewish believers were not represented on the council making this decision. When they learned what had been done they were crushed. 

“God gave us that date for Passover, and Jesus rose on the third day of Passover!  How can you change this date?” they cried.

But the Gentiles were not listening.

After removing resurrection day from the Passover holiday, it was easy for the Gentiles to take the next step: reject the Passover entirely.

This they then did. Passover had no meaning for them.
And so the gulf widened between Jewish believers and Gentile believers.

By 325A.D. official proclamations were being made within the Gentile Christian Church that resurrection day was to be observed on Easter Sunday by all believers.

A few years later, another council meeting was held in Antioch.

It announced that anyone attempting to celebrate the Passover on the 17th day of Nisan was to be excommunicated.

‘Betrayed’ by Stan Telchin.
 Marshalls. Pages 87-88                                                                                        
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(You'll be pleased to know that Stan Telchin found salvation in Jesus as a result of his searching to prove otherwise)

In 325, Constantine himself presided over the council of Nicea at Bithynia.  The council ruled that all Christians that continue to memorialize the death of Christ on the 14th day Nisan, (Passover) must now keep the first Sunday after the Vernal Equinox (Easter Sunday) as the commemoration of His resurrection

On Page 72 of Fred Wright's excellent but painful book 'Father, Forgive Us'
(ISBN 1-85424-605-4), which details the Christian heritage of Jewish persecution, we read..

'Eusebius played a leading role, along with the Emperor Constantine, at the Council of Nicea (325) which was attended by 318 Bishops, none of whom were Jewish believers. The definition of the Trinity arrived at by the Council was viewed as firmly establishing the motif of Jewish deicide (i.e 'killing God) A further measure was the separation of easter from Pesach (i.e Passover)  Constantine considered it was unbecoming beyond measure that Christians were following the practices of this most odious people and were unable to celebrate their festival(s) without the aid of their rules

God has always decreed the quality of the worship He truly desires.
It should be ‘in spirit’ and ‘in truth’. (not deception)

And it should never be a form of worship inherited from paganism.

Deut.12.30  After the Lord destroys those nations, make sure that you don’t follow their religious practices, because that would be fatal. Don’t try to find out how they worship their gods, so that you can worship in the same way. Do not worship the Lord your God in the way they worship their gods..’

In Joshua chapter seven verse 13 we read.

“..I the Lord God of Israel have this to say Israel you have in your possession some things that I ordered you to destroy. You cannot stand against your enemies until you get rid of these things”

Hosea chapter 9 (Good News version) opens with these words..

“People of Israel - stop celebrating your festivals like pagans”

We should endeavour to be sure that the worship we offer to God is offered with clean hands and a clean heart and that it is in truth and not stained by pagan date or deed, for as Paul says in 2nd Cor. 6:16

“what agreement is there between the Temple of God and idols.

We need not beg, borrow or steal from any pagan calendar because
God has given us His Kingdom calendar.

1st Cor. 5:7 “For even Christ our Passover is sacrificed for us”

30A.D. is the year suggested as the year of Christ’s crucifixion in most Bible commentaries .. so perhaps the final test for this suggested calendar of events was to turn to that most modern tools..the computer...and the internet...and acquire and use a series of Jewish computer programmes to check whether these dates actually matched these days in the year 30A.D.

It is fairly generally accepted that Jesus was born in 4 B.C., and as there was no zero year, this 30 A.D. Passover period would have occurred when Jesus was 33 years.


Using first, the programme ‘Jewish Calendar 2.0’ and adjusting it to the Julian calendar.... I found that in the year 30A.D. these dates & days occurred exactly as I have suggested. (as underlined)


    Jewish calendar


As mentioned earlier, the main weight of the Passover Period was, and still is ‘Unleavened Bread’ (15th Nisan) and so Jews today, as they did then, refer to the whole period from the 15th as ‘Pesach’

The 14th is therefore often referred to as Erev Pesach. The ‘evening before’ the Pesach Shabbat. (Passover Sabbath)

    


Indeed, although the Sabbath on the 15th gets the ‘glory’..

     


Jews are instructed to avoid work and most public activities from the afternoon of the 14th through to the end of the 15th Shabbat.

This date/day finding was then cross-checked with a more complex multi-faith computer programme 'InterCal' which produced the same result as using the Jewish calendars (30 AD is 3790 Hebrew year)


           



God declared that one reason He set the sun and moon in the heavens was so that it would be His calendar.

Genesis 1:14 Then God said, “Let bright lights appear in the sky to give light to the earth and to identify the day and night; they shall bring about the seasons on the earth, and mark the days and years”

The Jewish people have their ‘civil’ calendar (where Nisan was returned to month 7 after the Babylonian captivity), but they have also retained the fixed Hebrew calendar as their ‘sacred calendar’  i.e. The calendar God gave them. As God declared to them in Isaiah 43:10  “You are My witnesses”



     

Jesus rode into Jerusalem to fulfil prophecy (Exodus 12:3) on the 10th day of Nisan (John 12:1 with 12:12) and was the ‘put aside’ for the prophetic 4 days until He appeared as the sacrificial Lamb to be slaughtered between two evenings’ on Passover Day.

We the church have always celebrated His triumphant entrance into Jerusalem as a Sunday. Palm Sunday.

In 30 A.D. the 10th was Saturday, a Sabbath. ‘Lord of the Sabbath’


     

In fact the 10th day of Nisan was not a Sunday on any year between 27 A.D. - 33 A.D.

As if to confirm this Ungers Bible Dictionary (under Festivals) states..

The Great Sabbath (10th Nisan) The Sabbath immediately preceding the Passover, it is so called because, according to tradition, the 10th of Nisan, when the Paschal lamb was to be selected, originally fell on the Sabbath.

Surely Jesus would have ridden into Jerusalem on the GREAT SABBATH. On Saturday the 10th of Nisan.


Some scholars have declared that they believe that 29 A.D. was crucifixion year- but the Passover period that year was from Saturday to Wednesday. Some well respected modern authors have written that they believe that the year was 32 A.D.  However, the Passover period was Monday to Thursday that year. Neither fits the Bible story.

It is abundantly clear that the 17th of Nisan is special from scripture itself from many Bible dating commentaries, and from Stan Telchin's detailed account of the early Christian Jews attempt to retain that day as resurrection day (pages 13 / 14)..

..and so I checked every year from 25 AD to 35AD to see if the 17th day of Nisan fell on either a Saturday or Sunday and on only two occasions did that occur..27A.D. and 30A.D...

..and only 30 A.D. is a valid consideration..

This is the chart for Passover period for the 5 years either side of
30 A.D. according to the InterCal Jewish Calendar..

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Note: While 30AD is the most commonly quoted year of Christ's death among scholars, others favour 33AD, mainly due to the traditional belief that Christ was crucified on Friday. However this would make Jesus around the age of 36 when he was crucified since the BC/AD Gregorian calendar is estimated to be wrong by around four years. n

I have also noticed that others appear to use a different calendar since one web site stated "A.D. 31, in which Passover fell on a Wednesday" whereas the Jewish calendars state that in AD 31 Passover was on a Monday. The date of His crucifixion is interesting and helpful in studies, but not essential.

Where a Jewish day starts at sunset, our day starts at midnight.. and so the Jewish start of the day will vary with the changing times of the sunset, while our day start is fixed at 12 midnight.

The HaYom programme enables us to set the calendar for 14th Nisan for the year 30 A.D. exactly as it would unfold in Jerusalem that year ...and it shows the exact time that the 14th of Nisan would have begun was - one minute to 6 pm, our time. Sunrise (dawn) would have been at 5.22 am our time.


     

The Bible’s prophetic calendar is a 360 day calendar. This is where we get our 360 degrees in a circle from. Hebrew years are counted from the creation of the world as determined by time intervals presented in the Bible (OT) 1998 is their year 5758

The fixed Hebrew calendar prior to 340 A.D. (4100) was set by observing the moon in Jerusalem. After 4100 it was standardised and is only 6.6 minutes longer each year than our modern value.

The Hebrew civil calendar is lunisolar in that it attempts to reconcile the Lunar year of 355.3671 days with the solar year of 365.2422 days. It does this by adding a ‘leap month’ known as Ve-Adar seven times in a 19 year cycle, and by varying the length of two months.

Prior to 1582, the calendar used was the Julian Calendar set by Julius Caesar in 45B.C..

The current ‘Gregorian’ Solar calendar of 365.25 days was set by Pope Gregory X111 in 1582 A.D. because the seasons appeared to be getting earlier and earlier compared to given calendar dates.

Easter - the popular spring time feast - would eventually move into summer and then autumn and so the Pope set the zero point of the Gregorian calendar so that the vernal eqinox would occur close to March 21st.

That was the date it had in the 4th century A.D. at the time of the Council of Nicaea, which had standardised the rule used to compute the date of Easter. However, the monk Dionysius Exiguus, who computed the calendar to start at the year of Christ’s birth is generally believed to have got it wrong by approx. 4 years.

Trying to check out an ancient date allowing for the various calendar adjustments was not easy before computers!!

The InterCal programme has a field called ‘Western Historical’ which accurately links the Julian with the Gregorian and claims a 100% mathematical though not traditional accuracy, and this field also confirms that in the year 30A.D. the 14th of Nisan was.. a Wednesday.

Again note that the calendar marks the 15th as ‘Passover’ - which is actually the ‘Unleavened Bread’ Sabbath day.

       


We have been impoverished by the historical lack of Jewish Christians in our midst.

Orthodox Jews have, across the centuries, rigidly adhered to the Old Testament externals, so a glance at their annual Hebrew calendar re-connects us with God’s scriptural calendar.


Click here for a web site that will give this years Passover dates

 

So to conclude this section, here again is what we traditionally and currently teach about ‘Easter’

 

                               

And here is what I believe we should teach about ‘Passover’

Matt 12:40 " 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.

 

 

 

 

Christ the First fruit.

Leviticus 23:10 -12  says that a sheaf from the harvest was to be waved before the Lord on 'the morrow after the Sabbath' 

'Speak to the children of Israel, and say to them: ‘When you come into the land which I give to you, and reap its harvest, then you shall bring a sheaf of the first fruits of your harvest to the priest. He shall wave the sheaf before the Lord, to be accepted on your behalf; on the day after the Sabbath the priest shall wave it. And you shall offer on that day, when you wave the sheaf, a male lamb of the first year, without blemish, as a burnt offering to the Lord'.

The custom was carried out as follows. A person would go into the standing ripe harvest of barley or wheat and bring the choicest sheaf to the priest where it would be waved before the Lord. Only when the first sheaf had been presented to and accepted by the Lord could the full harvest come in some time later.

'You shall eat neither bread nor parched grain nor fresh grain until the same day that you have brought an offering to your God'  Leviticus 23:14

Scripture makes it clear that a sheaf represents one person. In the story of Joseph's dream recorded in Genesis 37: 5 -11 we see clearly that Joseph and his brothers were represented by individual sheaves.

Jesus, the Lord of the Sabbath, having risen at the closing of the Sabbath, now appears on the Sunday morning - 'the morrow after the Sabbath' - as the First fruit of the future resurrection involving all true believers.  Paul makes this abundantly clear in 1st Corinthians 15: 20 -23.

'But now Christ is risen from the dead, and has become the first fruits of those who have fallen asleep. For since by man came death, by Man also came the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ all shall be made alive. But each one in his own order: Christ the first fruits, afterward those who are Christ’s at His coming'

The song of degrees found in Psalm 126 talks of the sower (Jesus) going forth to sow in tears, then coming back later bringing in the sheaves.

The 'sheaf' of the firstfruits needs to be distinguished from what was known as the harvest of the firstfruits (Exodus 23:16 & 34:22) or that which took place under the Pentecost harvest.

Scripture speaks of the early rain and the latter rain. The early rain produced two harvests The corn and wheat harvest came as a result of the early rain, the fruit harvest came as a result of the latter rain. 

Passover was the barley harvest and Pentecost the wheat harvest. (Ruth 1:22, 2:23; Exodus 34:21-23; Judges 6:11; 1 Samuel 6:13; 2nd Samuel 21:9-10)

What about Pentecost?

Pentecost was known as ‘The Feast of Weeks’ (Exodus 23:16) and was also known as the 'The Feast of Harvest' (Exodus 23:16) 'Day of Firstfruits' (Numbers 28:26) 'The Feast of the weeks of the Firstfruits of wheat harvest' (Exodus 34:22) 'The Feast of Harvest, the Firstfruits of Israel's labours' (Exodus 23:16) 

It, along with Unleavened Bread and Tabernacles, was one of the three big dates when all Jewish men had to be in Jerusalem.

It was while the Feast of Pentecost was taking place that the Holy Spirit fell upon the disciples in the upper room.

It was because the Feast of Pentecost was taking place that Peter was able to speak to the thousands outside who had come to Jerusalem from all parts of Israel.

Acts 2:1 When the Day of Pentecost had fully come, they were all with one accord in one place. And suddenly there came a sound from heaven, as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting. Then there appeared to them divided tongues, as of fire, and sat upon each of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance. And there were dwelling in Jerusalem Jews, devout men, from every nation under heaven. And when this sound occurred, the multitude came together, and were confused, because everyone heard them speak in his own language. Then they were all amazed and marvelled, saying to one another, "Look, are not all these who speak Galileans? "And how [is it that] we hear, each in our own language in which we were born? "Parthians and Medes and Elamites, those dwelling in Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, "Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya adjoining Cyrene, visitors from Rome, both Jews and proselytes, "Cretans and Arabs--we hear them speaking in our own tongues the wonderful works of God."

Pentecost, or The Feast of Weeks, took place 50 days after the Passover period and the number 50 always represents liberty. This is seen in the fact that every 50th year in Israel was called the year of Jubilee.  For the New Testament believers the Day of Pentecost meant liberty and freedom from Old Covenant bondages of ceremonialism of the law.  It meant that believers were at liberty to serve the Lord, not in oldness of the letter, but in newness of the Spirit.

This feast day was to take place seven Sabbaths after the wave offering of the first sheaf which - as we saw above - was the morrow after the Saturday Sabbath. In other words Sunday.

Another way of arriving at that important date was to count 50 days from the Sabbath day that preceded the wave offering or, seven Sabbaths and one day from that Sabbath.

‘And you shall count for yourselves from the day after the Sabbath, from the day that you brought the sheaf of the wave offering: seven Sabbaths shall be completed. Count fifty days to the day after the seventh Sabbath; then you shall offer a new grain offering to the Lord'   Leviticus 23:15

Seven Sabbaths (49) plus one day is Sunday. Therefore it would seem that we have got Pentecost day pegged correctly as Sunday. 

Mount Sinai events took place 50 days after they crossed the Red Sea. Kevin J. Connors 'The Feasts of Israel' writes..

After the exodus they crossed the Red Sea, following the cloudy pillar to Mt.Sinai to the mount apparently the first day of the third month (Exodus 16:1; 19:1) Here at Mt.Sinai the Lord spoke to Moses to tell Israel to sanctify themselves against the third day. Then Moses went up again to the mount on this day and it was on this day that the Lord wrote the ten commandments on tablets of stone. In all we have 50 days, which may be seen as follows:

First month, Abib or Nisan  = 15 days
Second month, Zif  = 30 days
Third month, Sivan  = 4 days
                                              = 49 days or 7 weeks (7x7=49)

Then we come to the next day which was the 50th day when the Lord wrote with His Finger the ten commandments. Hence the Jews today look upon the Feast of Pentecost as the celebration or the commemoration of the giving of the law. (page 35)

As Moses entered the Mount of God, supernatural manifestations took place. The Presence of God was evidenced by the sound of the trumpet, by thunders, lightnings, thick clouds, fire and a voice. The result was trembling, fear and quaking by Moses as well as the Israelites (Exodus 19:16-19; Deuteronomy 4:32-40; Hebrews 12:18-21) Elijah experienced similar manifestations at Mt.Horeb when he saw and heard the earthquake, wind and fire, and then the still small voice (1st Kings 19:8-14)

On the Day of Pentecost, after Jesus the mediator of the New Covenant had entered the Heavenly Mt.of God - Mt.Zion (Hebrews 12:22-29; Revelation 14:1-4) there were great manifestations of His Presence in the upper room. The Holy Spirit descended as a mighty rushing wind, the place was filled with His Presence, tongues of fire sat on the heads of the disciples and they all spoke with other tongues as tyhe Spirit gave them utterance (Acts 2:1-4; 4:31) When this was noised abroad, thousands of Jews, out of every nation, gathered to hear the Word of the Gospel of grace. Thus wind and fire, the sound from heaven, and then the speaking in other tongues were manifestations of God's Presence. Fear and wonder fell on the hearers and the gospel was preached.

At Sinai we have Moses, fire, darkness, trumpet voice, quaking, thunder and lightning. This was the Old Testament Pentecost.

At Jerusalem (or Mt. Zion) we have Jesus, tongues of fire, rushing mighty wind, shaking and conviction. This was the New Testament Pentecost. (page 36)

When Moses came down the mountain with the law written by the Finger of God on tablets of stone and he found Aaron and the people in idolatry and 3000 people were slain (Exodus 32: 19-28) 

The New Covenant was written by the Spirit the finger of God (Luke 11:20  Matthew 12:26) on fleshy tablets of the heart and mind (Jeremiah 31:31-34; Hebrews 8 ) and at Pentecost 3000 people were saved.

The Old Covenant brought death whereas the New Covenant brought life.

So Pentecost - or the Feast of Weeks - seems to have been Sunday.

I say 'seems' because in studying scripture and Jewish observances I find confusion and at this point I do not know what to make of it.

In Jewish culture Pentecost was - and still is - celebrated 50 days after the Sabbath day that is the Feast of Unleavened Bread - Nisan15. 

NOT 50 days after the weekly Sabbath as outlined above

The New King James Bible commentary confirms this..

The Feast of Harvest is also called the Feast of Weeks (Numbers 28:26-31) or the Day of Pentecost (Acts 2:1) It was observed in the third month (May/June), 50 days after the Feast of Unleavened Bread and commemorated the early harvest.

Smiths commentary affirms this

Smith (1533)

On the morrow after the passover sabbath, i.e on the 16th of Nisan, a sheaf of new corn was to be brought to the priest and waved before the altar, in acknowledgement of the gift of fruitfulness. Lev 2:12; 23:5,6,10,12

The Unleavened Bread Sabbath was a Thursday in 30 A.D. and so 50 days after that Sabbath was a Friday, not a Sunday.   Pentecost is known as ‘Shauvot’ and as can be seen from the HaYom Jewish calendar, Pentecost is clearly shown as Friday.

A cross check again with the InterCal Jewish Calendar confirms..
The HaYom calendar, when set as if for Thursday 29th May 30A.D. prepares the people for Pentecost (Shauvot) the following day - Friday - by quoting Leviticus 23:15...

These are the dates for Pentecost over a 5 year period according to the Ha-Yom Jewish calendar

  1. 2000 - Friday June 9th
  2. 2001 - Monday May 28th
  3. 2002 - Friday May 17th
  4. 2003 - Friday June 6th
  5. 2004 - Wednesday May 26th
  6. 2005 - Monday June 13th

Not a Sunday in sight!

It seems that when we 'gentiles' refused to listen to the early Jewish believers - and in our terrible arrogance chased them away - we moved into a sizable measure of misunderstanding.

As God can only bless what is of Him, it would be exciting to come back into Godly alignment with His Holy Days rather than remaining in paganism's holy days.

So, what conclusions can we safely draw from this study?

1. Christ was crucified and buried during the period known as ‘Passover’. - 14th - 17th days of Nisan, appearing as the Risen Lord and Saviour on Nisan 18th, 'the morrow after the Sabbath'

2. Thus He was dead 3 full days and 3 full nights, as He declared.

3. Easter is not Passover. It is a pagan feast period. Some of our worship content at this time is completely pagan in its origin.

- and now the BIG question -

“Does it really matter to God which days we celebrate the truth on?”

Jesus established the ‘Lord’s Supper’ at the time of the Passover Supper.

Thus He closed off the old ceremonial law using the body and blood of lambs and established the new with the bread and wine of His communion table.

As Christians we now observe Sunday as ‘the Lord’s Day’ rather than keeping the Sabbath because
He also closed off and nailed to the cross all ritual weekly Sabbaths and ritual festival Sabbaths which as we’ve seen were of the Old Covenant and but a shadow of what was to come in Himself.

Rather than keeping the old (physical) we look for its fulfilment in the new (spiritual) 

'However, the spiritual is not first, but the natural, and afterward the spiritual.' 1st Corinthians 15:46

The external / physical pattern was abolished thus bringing in the spiritual.

The Jews gave the early Jewish believers a hard time over this, and some were continuing on with the old rituals that they were reared on. Mixing the Old Covenant with the new.

Paul rebuked the Galatians for continuing to observe Jewish ‘days’ and ‘months’, and times and years’ (Galatians 4:10)

And he told the Colossians not to be bothered by those who criticised them for not observing all the Jewish ritual days. No man was to judge them in meat, or in drink, or in respect of a holy day, or of the new moon, or of the Sabbath days.

He wrote to the Romans that one man esteems one day better than the other, another man esteems every day alike. This covered the attitude of Jews and Greeks.

Some early Jewish Christians were still keeping Saturday as the Lord’s Day and some were keeping both Saturday and Sunday and Paul said ‘for every man to be fully persuaded in his mind and regard their days as unto the Lord’.

In other words no days are ‘ritually’ imposed on us as they were upon the Jewish people in the Old Covenant. We have rest from ‘the law’. The righteousness that the law demanded, grace bestowed upon us.

Understanding scriptural ‘days’ has no part to play in a man’s salvation, or in his right daily standing before God. Knowing more or knowing less about these things does not effect our standing before our heavenly Father. At all.

The secret is in knowing the One they are but a shadow of. The One they are but a pointer to. Because truth is a Person.

Here's something in the future to ponder. As God has moved so mightily on so many Feast days so far (40 that can be dated) it is reasonable to assume that He will not change for future events, and so it would be nice to be properly tuned in to His calendar for our church red letter days.

In the last chapter of the book of Zechariah - chapter 14 - we read of events that will take place when Jesus returns. After many terrible events, we read from verse 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 Hosts, and to keep THE FEAST OF TABERNACLES.

And it shall be that whichever of the families of the earth do not come up to Jerusalem to worship the King, the Lord of Hosts, on them there will be no rain.

If the family of Egypt will not come up and enter in they shall receive the plague with which the Lord strikes the nations who do not keep THE FEAST OF TABERNACLES.

This shall be the punishment of Egypt and the punishment of all the nations that do not keep THE FEAST OF TABERNACLES.

In that day “Holiness to the Lord” shall be engraved on the bells of the horses. The pots in the Lord’s house shall be like the bowls before the altar. Yes, every pot in Jerusalem and Judah shall be holiness to the Lord of Hosts. Everyone who sacrifices shall come and cook in them.

In that day there shall no longer be a Canaanite in the House of the Lord of Hosts.


THE FEAST OF TABERNACLES is September / October in our calendar time. Quite close to, say, Halloween night.

Since the Feast of Tabernacles means little to us, how might God feel if we took the naughty bits out of this popular pagan festival day, claimed it for God’s Kingdom, and offered it to Him instead of the prophetic feast date in His Calendar.

Complete with all the enjoyable bits such as festive meal, fireworks, ducking for apples etc.

Would we receive the rain, or the plague from Him?

We know the answer. And so we understand the principle.  

Passover and Pentecost it seems were the only two Jewish feasts recorded in scripture as being observed as holy days by the early Christian Church.

Acts 20:16: For Paul had decided to sail past Ephesus, so that he would not have to spend time in Asia; for he was hurrying to be at Jerusalem, if possible, on the Day of Pentecost.

1st Cor 5:7-8: 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.
Therefore let us keep the feast, not with the old leaven..

1st Cor 16: 8: But I will tarry in Ephesus until Pentecost

It is clear that God went to a lot of trouble over many centuries, using many people, and many incidents to lay down a prophetic calendar for Christ to stride across on His mission. It feels wrong to stride across a different calendar to His

As Robin Mark’s song states ‘The heathen mock Your Holy Name because of us’. On radio the pagans (witches & druids) laugh at our keeping their festival dates believing them to be Christian. They are also informing the public at large of this.

A Christian friend in lengthy debate by letter with a very committed Jehovah’s Witness was well able to defend his Christian beliefs using scripture. When this lady decided to call the correspondence to a halt, she left aside her theology for a moment and expressed her view ‘of us’ from an observers viewpoint. This was the only bit that hurt.

It seems to me that mainstream Christendom have more against them than just different doctrinal points. Their involvement in war, immorality, commercialism, politics, idolatry, PAGANISM, and the attitude of some of their adherents which I experience on a daily basis I feel precludes them from receiving Holy Spirit. God cannot be backing an Organisation which has showed itself to be so unclean in all these respects - and the evidence supports the view that He is not..’

I think it matters. You may disagree.

However, the sub- title of this paper is not ‘What might we think of Easter’.
Rather, it is titled ‘What might God think of Easter’

That is worth pondering, and worth prayer.  

 

Ken Symington

 First written 06/10/99 with several udatings since then.

 

 




Useful links dealing with the same subject
http://www.giveshare.org/booklets/easter.html
http://www.giveshare.org/BibleStudy/252.been-there.html
http://www.geocities.com/shenlan.geo/heb-consnt.html
http://www.cuttingedge.org/NEWS/n1801.cfm
http://www1.itech.net/~ydl/JCOP--Introduction.htm

 

Note: Any scripture or commentary words set out in bold emphasis are not in bold in the original. I have simply emphasized those words to maintain focus on the theme of this paper.

 

 

ADDITIONS.

 


Ostara - still active in wicca today.


I was in two minds as to whether or not to print pagan sabbat days and extracts from pagan Easter ceremonies.

In the end I decided to in order to bring home to the church how real the paganism is that we smeared the Kingdom of God with when we embraced ‘Easter’ rather than Passover.

The first page is a pagan listing of full moons and sabbat ritual days for the period Oct.’97 - Sept. ‘98. to confirm that ‘Easter’ is ‘Ostara’ or ‘Ostar’.

The next two pages contain short extracts from ritual used by two covens in 1996.

For obvious reasons I have left out most of the actual ritual.

These details have been extracted from a file library in a Paganism and Occult Sciences section of the internet.



A pagan listing of full moon and sabbat ritual days Oct. '97 - Sept. '98 [bold emphasis mine]

Full Moon Days
October 1997 - September 1998

October 97 October 15
SAMHAIN (Oct 31)
November 97 November 14
December 97 December 13
YULE - The Winters Solstice
January 98 January 12
IMBOLG (Feb. 2)
February 98 February 11
March 98 March 12

OSTARA - The Spring Equinox April 98
April 11

BELTAINE (May 1)
May 98 May 11
June 98 June 9
MIDSUMMER DAY - The Summers Solstice July 98
July 9
LUGHNASADH (Aug. 1 or 2)
August 98 August 7
September 98 September 6
MABON - The Autumnal Equinox


The High Priest who posted this on the internet pagan library stated that his coven meet in Celyddon Forest.    Note that the feast of 'Ostara' is April 11th 1998 ‘Good Friday’ is April 10th and ‘Easter Sunday’ is April 12th. 1998
Here are extracts from the ostara ritual noting the use of 'ostara eggs'

...


OSTARA ‘96

..and keeper of the wondrous Golden Apples we invite you to join us tonight.
Join us tonight as we celebrate the dawn of Spring and new beginnings in your honor. Be with us our Lady.

High Priestess : Invocation to the God:

Our Lord Baldur, bright one, shining God and a light for all to see, we invite you to join us tonight as we celebrate the dawn of Spring and new beginnings in your honor. Be with us our Lord.

Charge of Goddess and God High Priest :
Harken to us! Awake! It is time to greet the Spring Idhunn, Maiden of light, hear us! Baldur lord of life, hear us!

High Priestess:
Now we cast behind us the darkness of winter and the past, and look forward to that which lies ahead. Now is the time for the planting of seeds in the physical, mental and spiritual realms.

Note:
Then a seed is planted in the potted soil as the representation of new beginnings by the HPS.

High Priest : This is a joyous time, a time for planting.

Coven: So mote it be.

Spell Working

Note; Purpose of this spell is to allow individuals to send forth their desire and dreams so that the God's may recognize them and to allow them to manifest.

The HP/HPS then takes the basket of coloured eggs and passes it around. Everyone then chooses and takes a egg.

Then a symbol of their choosing is drawn on the egg.

Then individuals desires and wishes are placed into the egg by the symbol.

Then the eggs are placed in a circle around the pot with the seed just planted on the altar and say:..


   SPRING EQUINOX CEREMONY

Preparations:

A wheel symbol stands on the altar; it may be anything that feels suitable a cut out disc painted yellow or gold and decorated with spring flowers, a circular mirror, around brass tray.

The High Priest's robe, if any, and accessories should be symbolic of the Sun; any metal he wears should be gold, gilt, brass or bronze. The altar, if indoors, should be decorated with spring flowers particularly the yellow ones such as daffodils, primroses, gorse, or forsythia. One banquet should be ready for handing to the Spring Queen, and a chaplet of flowers for her crowning.

The Spring Queen is one of the younger women in the Coven.

The cauldron is placed in the centre of the circle, with an unlit candle in it. If outside, and conditions permit, a bonfire is made ready to light. A taper is placed ready on the altar for the Maiden to carry fire to the High Priest.

A phallic wand is on the altar.

Half as many cords as there are people present are ready on the altar, tied together at their center point in a single knot. if there is an odd number of people, add one before dividing by two.

As part of the feasting and offering to the Gods, you can use hard boiled eggs with painted shells.

These symbolize the World Egg laid by the Goddess and hatched by the heat of the Sun of the God.

The High Priest moves to stands in the East, and the High Priestess in the West, facing each other over the unlit bonfire.

The High Priestess carries...





A final, final thought.


The paintings of the crucifixion always - and probably rightly - show Jesus hanging on the cross with His genitals covered from public gaze.

In fact He hung there naked.

Two things we loose from this ‘cover up’ are the sense of total humiliation He went through for us, and the fact that He was..a Jew.

Not only was He a Jew, but His mother was a Jewess.
And of course Joseph was a Jew. Their church was the synagogue.

Peter James and John, in fact all His team were young Jewish men.
The great apostle Paul was a Jew.

As were the great Kings. Such as David and Solomon.
The great deliverers. Such as Gideon and Deborah.
The minor prophets. Such Amos and Hosea.
The major prophets. Such as Isaiah and Jeremiah.

All Jews, right back to that Jewish trinity of Abraham Isaac and Jacob.
God is pleased to declare Himself the God of these three Jewish men.

In fact all God’s recorded revelation to the world and to us the church has come through the often terrible experiences, and the anointed pen, of Jews.

Historically we the gentile church have joined the world in being uncomfortable with the Jews. And so we have subtly ‘westernised’ Jesus. From childhood we are presented with drawings of Jesus and paintings of Mary without a discernible trace of their Jewishness - even though one problem persecuted Jews have always had to cope with is their recognisable physical difference in a hostile environment.

The physical model for what should be the recognisable spiritual difference of a persecuted church.

They have been made enemies of the gospel for OUR sakes.
We are the wild olive branches that have been grafted into the true olive tree.
And when the full number of gentiles branches have been grafted in then Paul assures us all Israel will be saved.

The second world war was all about Satan’s attempt to wipe out the Jews and
rule the world. As in Moses’s day, as in Esther’s day, he failed.
He will try again. Pray for the shalom of Jerusalem.


There is also a companion teaching paper entitled ‘What might God think of Christmas?’,
showing that the one date God did not reveal was Christ’s birth - and that when we ordained one,
we brought in a total package of pre-Christian pagan worship.


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