Exploration 89 – Easter, Good Friday and the Passover Seder

Thou shalt have none other gods before me.

Deuteronomy 5:7 King James Version

This is a long post. It is more a set of notes to myself. You might want to skip it. If not, let’s go down the rabbit hole.

This is how I currently see the chronology of events represented by the traditions of Good Friday and Easter Sunday. You are welcome to set me straight in the comment section.

  • Yeshua (Jesus) fulfilled the sign of Jonah. He was in the tomb three days and three nights. (Matthew 12:38-41) That was the length of time Jonah was in the great fish. (Jonah 1:17) Hence we have a length of 72 hours, no more, no less.
    Clearly one cannot fit three days and three nights between Friday afternoon and Sunday morning. What we have are two full nights, one full day and two partial days.
  • Yeshua died on an afternoon and He was in the tomb before sunset on the Day of Preparation before the first day of Unleavened Bread, a special Sabbath. (Matthew 27:45-65, Mark 15:33-44, Luke: 23:50-56)
  • The women went to the tomb on the first day of the week, Sunday, and an angel rolled back the stone showing them that the tomb was empty. (Matthew 28:1-8)
    I used to think Yeshua rose with the rising sun on Easter Sunday. What I understand now is Yeshua rose on the late Sabbath before sunset, 72 hours after His burial, prior to the morning of the first day of the week when the women looked for him but found the tomb empty.
  • In summary, Yeshua could not have been crucified on a Friday. He was crucified on the fourth day of the week (Wednesday) in the afternoon as the Passover lambs were being sacrificed. His Resurrection occurred three days and three nights later on the Shabbat (Saturday) afternoon before sunset. Celebrations of Resurrection Day should focus on the setting sun, not the morning sunrise.

The Church of God, one Christian group that seems willing to give the Bible priority over Church tradition, produced a detailed Timeline from Passover (the 14th of Abib (Nisan)) to the Wave Sheaf Offering on the first day after the weekly Shabbat. The chart shows the parallel between what happened in Exodus with what happened in the Gospels. The only part of their timeline I suspect may not be correct is the year of the Crucifixion and Resurrection. They claimed it occurred in 31 AD. I am more convinced by Navah’s view that it occurred in 28 AD.

Why does this matter?

  • The neglect of biblical feasts and the rejection of the Shabbat suggests a cultural anti-Judaism that goes back before the time of Constantine when it became institutionalized Church tradition justified by attacking Judaizers.
  • However, the use of an alternate pagan calendar also suggests a drift into idolatry through compromise. People attacking this compromise sometimes point out that there is no need to rename Yeshua to something that sounds like JeZeus except to indirectly focus on the Greek deity Zeus.

To see the idolatry connection, Michael Rood gave an account of where Easter came from in his teaching on the Book of Esther (“Easter”, as he called her) (about 34:00 to 38:00). He talked about the tale of Nimrod who became the sun god upon death and Semiramis, his wife, who was impregnated by that sun god to give birth to Tammuz on December 25th where the Julian calendar put the winter solstice. He included the reincarnation of Semiramis as Easter from an egg landing in the Euphrates along with rabbits and a reference to Playboy since this is all about pagan fertility worship.

For more details on this, mostly in agreement with Rood but from a Church of God perspective, see Christopher Eames’ article, Easter – In the Hebrew Bible?

When I wonder how the Israelites could have fallen into idolatry, I think about the deviation of the Christian liturgical calendar from the agricultural calendar presented in the Torah. I am equally puzzled how that could have happened. The Israelites had to obey their judges or kings, but when prophets came to correct them, I suspect many figured what they were doing was close enough in their own eyes to be acceptable to YeHoVaH (God). That’s probably what I would have thought were I one of them.

Today I ask myself something similar: Are Easter and Good Friday close enough to the Passover, the sign of Jonah and the Wave Sheaf Offering to be acceptable to Yeshua even though we lose the significance of the events evident to early Messianic believers and risk participating witlessly in pagan ritual practices?

Not everyone agrees with the above. For example, Jonathan Sarfati of Creation Ministries International presented a detailed opposing view. He asserted that Easter is not of pagan origin and tried to fit three days and three nights between Friday afternoon and Sunday morning by counting partial days as full days.

Some want to promote an even further compromise of Christianity with paganism. For example, Rudolf Steiner, an Austrian occultist, presented a description of Good Friday and Easter from a pagan perspective. Here Christianity is just another religion in a cyclic calendar going from springtime rebirth at Easter to autumn anticipation of death on All Saints Day (after Halloween). This sentiment seems typical of what C.S. Lewis called Pantheism in the “Christianity and ‘Religion’” chapter of Miracles.

The reason to present the occult views of Steiner is to see how the pagan cyclic calendar contrasts with the biblical calendar of Leviticus 23 that reveals a direction to history. The biblical calendar identifies the appointed times of YeHoVaH (מוֹעֲדֵ֣י יְהוָ֔ה). These appointed times are more than annual holidays. YeHoVaH gave them to us to remember what He had already done to move history according to His will. For example, on Passover we remember the Exodus and now also Yeshua’s redemptive sacrifice in the Crucifixion. YeHoVaH also gave them to us to prepare for future events such as the Second Coming and the Messianic Kingdom with the Feast of Trumpets, Yom Kippur and Succoth.

Having an annual calendar with a divinely revealed direction through the years and not just a birth-death-rebirth annual cycle of nature makes the Messianic story unique and something far beyond the imagination of pagan religions.


What about the Passover Seder?

I am grateful to Geri Ungurean, a Jewish Christian, for mentioning the video below on her blog. The Last Supper as recorded in the Gospels and reenacted by the early Messianic believers may be the origin for the Passover Seder. Such a ritual would be needed after the destruction of the temple. Those at the table in the video were discussing such a view from Israel Jacob Yuval in his paper, “The Haggadah of Passover and Easter“. For those who want to know more about Haggadah see chabad.org, a Jewish site.

As I see it the Last Supper occurred at the beginning of the 14th of Abib, the day of Passover after sunset. After the meal they went to the garden where Yeshua was arrested. Before the end of the day with the coming sunset, Yeshua died and was buried. Yeshua fulfilled the Passover by becoming the sacrificial lamb.

At the moment I am concerned with reconciling Matthew 26:17 with John 13:1. Did the Last Supper occur after Passover on the first day of Unleavened Bread (Matthew) or at the beginning of Passover (John), the day before that? Justin J. van Rensburg translates Matthew 26:17 as And a former day of Pesach [Passover], the talmidim came and said to him, “In what place do you want that we prepare the Pesach?” which would resolve my concern if the Hebrew manuscript he was using from the Vatican Library is an authentic copy of the original Hebrew autograph.


Weekly Parashah Readings
Parashah: Passover Day 8, 22 Nissan, 5782 – April 23, 2022
Torah: Exodus 12:21-51; Numbers 28:16-25
Haftarah: Joshua 3:5-7; Joshua 5:2 – 6:1; Joshua 6:27
Brit Chadashah: Luke 22:7-20; John 1:29-31; 1 Cor 15:20-28
Resources: Chabad, Hebrew4Christians, Weekly Torah Readings, Calendar

Old Golf Course
Old Golf Course

Author: Frank Hubeny

I enjoy walking, poetry and short prose as well as taking pictures with my phone.

35 thoughts on “Exploration 89 – Easter, Good Friday and the Passover Seder”

  1. Thanks for the time and effort you have put into this. I have heard of this reasoning before but this is the first deep dive I have seen.

    I will circle back to it when I have a little more time. It seems a little above my “pay grade”.

    Shalom!

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Hi Frank, I wanted you to know that I have gone back and reread this several times now. I do not think, based on scripture, we know when Jesus was actually resurrected. It seems all timelines, including the one you propose, point to Sunday morning as the time it was discovered. What concerns me most are the two bullet points under “Why does this matter?”.

        From your photos, it looks like you are settling into your new location.

        Happy Monday!

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Those two bullet points are what motivates me to keep thinking about this and other topics. I want to make sure I am not part of a “replacement theology” even without being aware of it.

          Part of my problem is understanding what that is which is perhaps why I keep writing about these topics. I want to understand them better.

          Liked by 1 person

          1. Howdy. I am familiar with replacement theology but do not know anyone who believes it. Perhaps I lead a sheltered life though.

            Back to the bullet points under why does this matter. The first one states “The neglect of biblical feasts and the rejection of the Shabbat suggests a cultural anti-Judaism that goes back before the time of Constantine when it became institutionalized Church tradition justified by attacking Judaizers.” Does this suggest we should observe the biblical feasts of the old covenant and Saturday as the Sabbath?

            Thanks for the clarification.

            Shalom!

            Liked by 1 person

            1. I was not aware of replacement theology until recently. When I first heard about it, I immediately realized I did not accept it, but as I explored it further I was involved in it culturally without realizing it.

              For example, in the post I made about YeHoVaH and Yahweh, the use of Yahweh was a means to claim that the Hebrew name for God “evolved” from the Egyptian and Roman deities. That was a way to replace the significant of YeHoVaH by assigning Him a pagan name. That was an academic replacement devaluing the significance of the Hebrew texts.

              Another example is the loss of many of the original Hebrew manuscripts. This was an early attempt to destroy evidence of Messianic Jewish believers to replace Hebrew with a Greek text. Fortunately, some of those manuscripts survived.

              Another example is the replacement of the biblical calendar from Leviticus 23 to one based on the sun with the associated solar deities. This was an early “cancel culture” movement motivated by replacement theology. That is part of what this post is about.

              I do think we should return to keeping the Shabbat rather than Sunday. That is what I do now. I understand it was the Council of Laodicea that prohibited Christians from keeping the Shabbat although I have not studied that carefully. That is another cultural change based on replacement theology.

              Although some of the feasts have been fulfilled by Yeshua, we need to still remember what He has done during those times of the year. So, yes, we should switch back to the biblical calendar. Yeshua fulfilled Passover and the First Fruits (Sunday after weekly Shabbat after Passover) as well as Shavuot which is known as Pentecost. We should remember what He did during those feasts. He has yet to fulfill the Feast of Trumpets, Yom Kippur and all of the Succoth. During those feasts we should prepare (practice, rehearse) for the Second Coming. Following the Roman solar calendar hides the direction of history from us.

              On the other hand we are not obligated to follow the Oral Torah of Rabbinical Judaism that began a few centuries before Yeshua was born (likely during the Succoth).

              Shalom!

              Liked by 1 person

              1. Interesting. Thanks for the insight.

                It seems to me that “Replacement Theology” is on the fringe of things for most denominations.

                I am in the camp of understanding we are under a new covenant established by the shed blood of Jesus on the cross. Israel constituted the people of God in the old covenant, and the Church (which is made up of Jew and Gentile) constitutes the people of God in the new covenant; both just make up one people of God (Ephesians 2:11-20). The Church doesn’t replace Israel. The Church is both Jew and Gentiles.

                Shalom!

                Liked by 1 person

                  1. Good point. Some view the “new” covenant and the “renewed” covenant to try to avoid replacement theology. I know you won’t agree with that, but I am just pointing it out.

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  2. We had a person speak at our church about the timeline of events; I believe he put Jesus’ death on the cross at just before sundown on Friday the start of Sabbath. Maybe I could find his reference.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. So many different thoughts on this. Heard many. Interesting about Jesus rising at night. Makes sense cause Mary went when it was still dark and the stone was rolled away. He was already gone. Maybe to her He rose when He called her name and recognized who He was…. The real truth is that Jesus rose from the dead and is alive today and however we translate it does not change the truth. HE IS THE WAY, THE TRUTH AND THE LIFE!
    If I could stay away from rabbit holes, now what would that look like!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Good point about Mary going there while it was still dark and the tomb was already empty. Also, good point that His rising from the dead needs to be emphasized. That confirms that the Passover sacrifice (which was the key event) was an authentic fulfillment.

      The pagan calendars (especially as the occultist Rudolf Steiner viewed them) make much of reincarnations and going into some astral plane or whatever it is called after death, but they do not have the biblical timeline. What they don’t have is Passover with the remembrance of the Exodus and now also the remembrance of Yeshua’s sacrifice on the cross. The pagan calendar has no history, just an annual cycle of holidays.

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  4. Here is the Catholic answer “Friday, the Day of Preparation: Jesus is crucified with two thieves. From noon to three in the afternoon, a darkness covers the land (Matt. 27:45). Then, “[s]ince it was the Day of Preparation, in order to prevent the bodies from remaining on the cross on the Sabbath . . . the Jews asked Pilate that their legs might be broken, and that they might be taken away” (John 19:31). Then Joseph of Arimathea obtains Jesus’ body and buries it: “It was Preparation Day [that is, the day before the Sabbath]. So as evening approached, Joseph of Arimathea, a prominent member of the Council, who was himself waiting for the kingdom of God, went boldly to Pilate and asked for Jesus’ body” (Mark 15:42-43, NIV).

    Saturday, the Sabbath: “On the Sabbath they [the women] rested according to the commandment” (Luke 23:56b). Also on this day, “that is, after the Day of Preparation, the chief priests and the Pharisees gathered before Pilate” and asked for a guard to be placed on the tomb (Matt. 27:62).

    Sunday, the first day of the week: “Now after the Sabbath, toward the dawn of the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to see the sepulcher” and found that Jesus had risen from the dead (Matt. 28:1).

    Those anti-Catholics who allege that the Church commemorates Christ’s death on the wrong day are themselves in the wrong. The appropriate time for Christians to gather to commemorate Christ’s death is indeed Good Friday, not a hypothetical Crucifixion Wednesday.” Source is from this site:
    https://www.catholic.com/magazine/print-edition/crucifixion-wednesday

    Liked by 1 person

    1. The explanation in the link is similar to what I hear from Protestants. I don’t think the Crucifixion Wednesday view is specifically directed against Catholics. It is directed more generally against “replacement theology”. That is a view widely shared among many Christian groups (including I suspect some Catholics) that the Old Testament and the Jewish people are no longer necessary, because they have been replaced by the Christian/Catholic church. Having a calendar that celebrates the fixed holiday of Easter rather than the floating feast of Passover culturally reinforces it.

      One of my concerns is to identify where replacement theology manifests itself in my own way of thinking. Previously I have mentioned the existence of original Hebrew Gospels and YeHoVaH as the divine name rather than Yahweh. In all of these I am trying to explore areas where I need to repent of previous ways of thinking.

      Thank you for sharing the link. It is good to have a Catholic perspective on this.

      Liked by 1 person

        1. You made a good point that Easter is not a fixed holiday as I earlier said. Easter depends on the vernal equinox and the full moon. As the link says this is “the first full moon that occurs after the vernal equinox, which signifies the beginning of spring in the northern hemisphere”.

          As I understand it, in contrast Passover does not depend on the vernal equinox, but it could. In biblical times it depended on when the barley reached a certain stage of ripeness. After the twelfth month, Adar, a leap month would be added if the barley were not ripe enough called Adar II. After Adar II the first month (Aviv also called Nisan) starts. Passover is the 14th day of Aviv whenever that appears in the week. The first day after the weekly Shabbat (Sunday) is First Fruits when a sheaf of barley is waved as an offering. After the offering then the barley can be harvested for human consumption.

          So Easter is based on the vernal equinox. Passover is based on the ripeness of the barley so first fruits can be offered. Neither are fixed as you mention. Today some don’t bother checking the barley but go by the vernal equinox.

          Yeshua (Jesus) not only fulfilled the Passover, but in John 20:17 He fulfilled First Fruits. He told Mary not to touch Him until He ascended to the Father. He was the first fruit. That is the event that happened on Sunday.

          Thank you for the link, Myrna. It helped clarify for me why these holidays are different.

          Liked by 1 person

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