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