Tuesday, April 7, 2015

The Purpose of Christ: Death, Burial, Resurrection

In the last blog post, I talked about the importance of the cross and how we must be careful not to turn it into an idol.  As we continue on this journey to understanding the purpose of Christ, we now take the next step in looking at His death, burial, and resurrection.  I know what you are thinking. We already know about these things, right? Well, I am sure that you do, however, I will attempt to dig a little deeper in understanding when the Messiah died and rose.

Many Christians have already participated in Holy Weeks around the country in the US with the "meat" of the celebration kicking off on Good Friday.  It all ended with a climatic Sunday stating that He has risen!  While the thought behind this is genuine and there is nothing wrong with honoring the resurrection of the Christ, there is something that we as Westerners miss.  Let's start by looking at the Passover.

The Passover

Courtesy of Wikimedia.org
The Passover is a Feast that was supposed to be celebrated every year by the Israelites.  In order to explore this, we must first go back to Exodus 12 where Passover was put into place by Yahweh. Exodus 12:1-11 says, 
(1) 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. (3) 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. Then the whole assembly of the congregation of Israel shall kill it at twilight. (7) 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. (8) Then they shall eat the flesh on that night; roasted in fire, with unleavened bread and with bitter herbs they shall eat it. (9) Do not eat it raw, nor boiled at all with water, but roasted in fire—its head with its legs and its entrails. (10) You shall let none of it remain until morning, and what remains of it until morning you shall burn with fire. (11) And thus you shall eat it: with a belt on your waist, your sandals on your feet, and your staff in your hand. So you shall eat it in haste. It is the Lord’s Passover. (NJKV)

This gives us the rules in which the Israelites were to observe the Passover.  The beauty about these passages is that they also help us to better understand the death, burial, and resurrection of Yeshua.  We will get to more on that later, but let's first lay a little ground work.

May times when we read the bible, our brains naturally translate words and their meanings into how we understand them in today's time and culture.  However, this is sometimes a mistake. We have to put ourselves into the time the scriptures were written and what was happening then.  We must also get a better understanding of the customs during those times.  So, if we look at the previous passage of Exodus you will notice verses 2, 3, and 6 contain the words "month".  When we think of this, we immediately think of our calendar today, which is the Gregorian Calendar.   This is a mistake as during biblical times, the Israelites used the Hebrew (or Jewish) calendar which is not a one to one match with the Gregorian Calendar.  This alone will start to shed some light on a few things.  

On the Jewish calendar, the first month of the year is called Nisan.  On the Gregorian Calendar, this falls in the later part of March through beginning portion of April.  This is why you have the celebration of the resurrection of Christ during the end of March and/or beginning of April. Also, there is something to say about a Jewish calendar day compared to a Gregorian calendar day. Whereas our day starts at 12:00 am (midnight) and ends at 11:59 pm, the Hebrew day starts at dusk and ends at dusk.
The Hebrew day (yom) begins at sundown, when three stars become visible in the sky (the rabbis reasoned that the day begins at sunset based on the description of God's activity in creation, "and the evening and the morning were the first day," Genesis 1:5). Evening is sometimes defined as the late afternoon, that is, between 3:00pm to sundown"("The Jewish Calendar", Hebrew for Christians)
With that said, now let's look closer at the Passover. In Leviticus 23:1-8, it says,
(1) And the Lord spoke to Moses, saying, (2) “Speak to the children of Israel, and say to them: ‘The feasts of the Lord, which you shall proclaim to be holy convocations, these are My feasts. (3) ‘Six days shall work be done, but the seventh day is a Sabbath of solemn rest, a holy convocation. You shall do no work on it; it is the Sabbath of the Lord in all your dwellings. (4) ‘These are the feasts of the Lord, holy convocations which you shall proclaim at their appointed times. (5) On the fourteenth day of the first month at twilight is the Lord’s Passover. (6) 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. (7) On the first day you shall have a holy convocation; you shall do no customary work on it. (8) But you shall offer an offering made by fire to the Lord for seven days. The seventh day shall be a holy convocation; you shall do no customary work on it.’” (NKJV)
The Lord made it a law that the Passover would be a holy convocation, or a Sabbath day.  If we understand anything from the present day, there has been confusion on what day was actually the Sabbath.  It was not Sunday as this was something instituted by the Catholic church, but that is for another discussion.   The Hebrew weekly Sabbath day was on the seventh day of the week which would be at sundown on Friday evening, going into Saturday, and lasting until twilight of Saturday evening.   However, we can see here that the feasts are treated as special Sabbath days as well and not necessarily the normal "Saturday" or seventh day Sabbath.  This is important to remember as we investigate death and resurrection of Yeshua.


Christ, the Passover Lamb

Up to this point we have looked at the Hebrew months as well as the Passover as being a Sabbath day.  If we recall, it is on the 14th day of Nisan that the lamb is slain at twilight which is the Lord's Passover. (see, Exodus 12:6-8Leviticus 23:5).   This is where we draw the parallels from the old Mosaic Law to the promise of the Messiah and His purpose.  Yeshua is known as the Lamb of God and also referred to as the Passover or Passover Lamb.
1 Peter 1:17-19  (17) And if you call on the Father, who without partiality judges according to each one’s work, conduct yourselves throughout the time of your stay here in fear; (18) 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. (NKJV)
John 1:29-31  (29) The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, “Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world! (30) This is He of whom I said, ‘After me comes a Man who is preferred before me, for He was before me.’ (31) I did not know Him; but that He should be revealed to Israel, therefore I came baptizing with water.” (NKJV)
1 Corinthians 5:6-8  (6) 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.  (NKJV)
Yes, HE is the Lamb of God and this brings us to my final thoughts.  Yes, I am sure that you already knew who He was and what He did.  However, I would be negligent if I did not talk about "Good Friday" and Christ rising on Sunday.

In many churches on this past Sunday, Christians (and non-Christians) went to hear about the death, burial and resurrection of Yeshua.  It is always said that it is on Good Friday that He died and that on Sunday He rose, but let's stop and think for a minute.  If you count from Friday to Sunday, that is only two days!  This would seem to contradict things when preachers say "on the third day he rose!"   Well, it is not the preachers, ministers or pastors who this seems to contradict, but rather the Word of God.
1 Corinthians 15:3-4  (3) For I delivered to you first of all that which I also received: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, (4) and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures, (NKJV)
Matthew 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. (NKJV)
The Word does not lie and Yahweh does not contradict Himself, so what is the problem?  The problem is the misunderstanding that feast days can also be Sabbath days.   We can look no further than at Mary Magdalene going to the the tomb of Christ.
Matthew 28:1-7  (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. (2) And behold, there was a great earthquake; for an angel of the Lord descended from heaven, and came and rolled back the stone from the door, and sat on it. (3) His countenance was like lightning, and his clothing as white as snow. (4) And the guards shook for fear of him, and became like dead men. (5) But the angel answered and said to the women, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you seek Jesus who was crucified. (6) He is not here; for He is risen, as He said. Come, see the place where the Lord lay. (7) And go quickly and tell His disciples that He is risen from the dead, and indeed He is going before you into Galilee; there you will see Him. Behold, I have told you.” (NKJV)
The first day of the week for the Hebrews would have begun after the Sabbath (Saturday sundown) and on into Sunday.  We know that as the Passover Lamb, Yeshua would have to had died at twilight on the 14th of Nisan (see, Exodus 12:6-8Leviticus 23:5).  For more evidence of this, we have to look at biblical account of the trial and death of Christ.  The Jews wanted Him dead before the Passover because remember it was a special Sabbath and time of rest.  As such, He was tried, crucified and died on the day of Preparation (just before the Passover) just as an unblemished lamb would have been killed on the 14th of Nisan.
Luke 23:50-54  (50) Now behold, there was a man named Joseph, a council member, a good and just man. (51) He had not consented to their decision and deed. He was from Arimathea, a city of the Jews, who himself was also waiting for the kingdom of God. (52) This man went to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus. (53) 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. (NKJV)
It would seem that Matthrew 28:1-7 and Luke 23:50-54 would contradict themselves.  It is not possible that Jesus rose the day after the Passover.  This is not possible at all.  Again, what we have to realize and understand is that the Passover was a special Sabbath day.  Given this, it is easy to figure out when Yeshua really died.

If He rose on the 1st day of the week (our Sunday), then you count backwards three days.  That leads us to our Wednesday day time. Let's look at this and compare the Gregorian Days with the Hebrew Days



Now that we understand that Hebrew days begin at dusk, we can visually see how the days overlap with Gregorian days.  Also, this allows us to see the how the special Sabbath feast can occur just before the regular weekly Sabbath day.  This helps to explain how Mary went to the tomb on the first day of the week, after the weekly Sabbath.  In addition, we now can see that it was not possible for Yeshua to have died on Friday because it does not equate to Him rising on the third day.

It is always a good think to recognize where you came from and where you are going.  In this case, it is good to recognize what Christ means to the Christian.  He was the sacrificial lamb for all of us and was the Passover.  As such, we do not have to keep the Feast of Passover along with all the other Mosaic Laws that He fulfilled.  In the midst of understanding all of this it is equally as important to get the timing of His actual death, burial and resurrection correct.  He has risen, but that is not the end.  There is still more that Christ did after he ascended into heaven to be back with the Father, Yahweh.

Stay tuned.....

Be blessed folks,

Antoine




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