Prophecy Update Newsletter
IN TODAY'S NEWSLETTER...
What's So Good About "Good Friday"? - Jack Kinsella -
According to Christian tradition, the Friday before Easter is called ''Good Friday'' because it is the day that Jesus Christ was crucified. GOOD Friday?
The Crucifixion most probably did not actually take place on a Friday, anyway. The Scriptures make reference only to the 'Sabbath' and there were two Sabbath days during that particular Passover week.
But it is on Friday that the world remembers, whether it wants to or not, that a Man was crucified on a hill called Golgotha outside the walls of Jerusalem for the sins of mankind.
If the world wants to remember it as a Friday, at least it is taking note of the event. Arguing about whether or not it actually took place on Wednesday or Thursday seems irrelevant to the central point.
Particularly in light of the way it remembers that day, as "Good" Friday. But what is so good about it?
I can recall as a kid growing up in a Catholic school thinking it more than a little strange that all those nuns said they loved Jesus, but celebrated the day of His execution as a "Good" day.
Indeed, as a kid, I thought the designation "Good Friday" was evidence that they really didn't LIKE Him very much, despite their protestations of love. My mother had passed away when I was only ten. I didn't think that the day that she died was a 'good' day for me.
There are lots of possible reasons why the day of Jesus' Crucifixion is designated "Good" in English. One is that the word 'good' was derived from the word "God".
Our word 'goodbye' came from the phrase "God be with you," so, according to that line of thinking, "Good Friday" would have originated from the phrase "God's Friday."
But I think it is less a case of the metamorphosis of language than it is an apt description of the Event that took place on that day just before the Passover two thousand years ago.
The execution of Jesus Christ was an event of incredible evil. He was guilty of no infraction, violated no laws, either Mosaic or Roman civil, and His betrayal was orchestrated, the Bible says, by Satan himself.
"And after the sop Satan entered into him [Judas]. Then said Jesus unto him, That thou doest, do quickly." (John 13:27)
But while the crucifixion of Jesus Christ was an act of unspeakable evil, it was a necessary part of God's Plan for the redemption of our sin debt.
And the manner in which He accomplished was a demonstration of His Power over good and evil, using pure evil to bring about pure good.
"Which none of the princes of this world knew: for had they known it, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory." (1st Corinthians 2:8)
But why was Good Friday necessary? We've gone over this before, but not in several years. Good Friday is the perfect day to revisit the topic. Why did Jesus have to die?
The Scripture says God's Justice demands a sacrifice, but for most Christians contending with the skeptic, that answer is unsatisfactory.
The explanation that only a sinless man was qualified to take on the sins of the world makes sense, but it doesn't answer the nuts-and-bolts question of why He had to die. Not fully.
The answer to the nuts-and-bolts legalities is found, not in the New Testament, but rather in the Old.
In Genesis Chapter 15, we find Abram questioning God's promise that his seed will be numbered as the stars of heaven and that they would inherit the land to which God had led him.
Genesis 15:6 says,
"And he believed in the LORD; and he counted it to him for righteousness."
But Abram wanted a guarantee, nonetheless.
"And he [Abram] said, LORD God, whereby shall I know that I shall inherit it?" (15:8)
It was then that God proposed a blood covenant after the manner of the Chaldeans.
"And he [God] said unto him, [Abram] Take me an heifer of three years old, and a she goat of three years old, and a ram of three years old, and a turtledove, and a young pigeon."
Abram knew what to do next. A Chaldean himself, this was something he was familiar with.
"And he took unto him all these, and divided them in the midst, and laid each piece one against another: but the birds divided he not."
The blood covenant worked this way. The animals were slaughtered and cut up. The pieces were intermingled and then carefully arranged to form a kind of aisle through which the two parties to the covenant would walk together, hands joined.
The principle of a blood covenant, and the symbolism of the rended animal parts was clearly understood to Abram. Whoever broke the covenant would end up like those piles of animals.
A blood covenant was, by common custom, a joining of 2 or more persons, families, clans, tribes, or nations, where the participants agree to do or refrain from doing certain acts. More specifically, God had proposed a patriarchal covenant.
The patriarchal form of covenant is a self-imposed obligation of a superior party, to the benefit of an inferior party. In this form, the terms the parties use to refer to each other are: father and son.
God's proposal included not only Abram, but extended to Abram's seed forever.
(Galatians 3:29 makes plain that Christians are also "Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise.")
To summarize, Abram has just prepared a blood covenant between himself and God in which his seed would forever be bound to God as heirs. To be an heir, under the implied terms of the covenant, also required being faithful to the Father. Abram understood those terms and waited for God to appear.
Consider the picture. Abram waited, driving away the carrion eaters from his grisly creation, waiting for God Himself to come down, join hands with Abram and together, they would swear a blood oath. God would be the Father of Abram and his descendents, who would then be required behave as sons to keep that covenant.
Genesis 15:12 records that, as Abram waited for God, a deep sleep fell upon him. During that deep sleep;
"it came to pass, that, when the sun went down, and it was dark, behold a smoking furnace, and a burning lamp that passed between those pieces. In the same day the LORD made a covenant with Abram, saying, Unto thy seed have I given this land, from the river of Egypt unto the great river, the river Euphrates:" (Genesis 15:17-18)
And there's the key! While the covenant was between Abram and God, by passing through the aisle alone, God signed the contract -- alone -- for both sides, binding Himself to keeping both parts.
We know that Abram's seed did NOT remain faithful to the covenant. And violating the blood covenant demanded that somebody had to die. That was what justice required.
The Apostle Paul was, before his conversion on the road to Damascus, a Pharisee, or a religous lawyer, one well qualified to explain the law of covenant oaths.
As Paul explains,
"Know ye therefore that they which are of faith, the same are the children of Abraham. (Galatians 3:7)
"they which be of faith are blessed with faithful Abraham." (3:9)
"But that no man is justified by the law in the sight of God, it is evident: for, The just shall live by faith." (3:11)
Of the covenant that God signed on behalf of Abraham, Paul explains;
"Though it be but a man's covenant, yet if it be confirmed, no man disannulleth, or addeth thereto." (3:15)
The covenant could only be confirmed when the price demanded for its violation was paid in full.
When the Law was given to Moses four centuries later, it was assumed by the Jews that to break it was to break the Abrahamic Covenant, for which the penalty was death. Remember, somebody had to die.
But since it was God Who signed on behalf of Abraham, Paul pointed out the blood penalty required of the covenant was paid in full on Good Friday.
"And this I say, that the covenant, that was confirmed before of God in Christ, the law, which was four hundred and thirty years after, cannot disannul, that it should make the promise of none effect." (Galatians 3:17)
Why did Jesus have to die? Because the covenant demanded satisfactory payment for its violation, and no one who had broken that covenant was qualified to stand in payment except those who signed it. Abram was long dead. And, in any case, it was God Who signed on behalf of Abram (and his seed).
It is for that reason that God stepped out of eternity and into space and time in the Person of Jesus Christ. To keep the provisions of the original covenant and be a true Son of Abraham, as it demanded.
Once having kept its terms on behalf of sinful humanity, it was incumbent upon Him to make payment, as justice demanded, for its violation by those on whose behalf the covenant was signed.
To be torn and rended like the animals that formed the corridor through which God alone passed.
To make restitution on behalf of the seed of Abraham. You. Me. And everyone who ever broke its provision of faithfulness. All of us.
Jesus made that payment on our behalf. On the Cross, as He gave up the ghost, Jesus cried with a loud voice 'it is finished' (Tetelestai!) meaning, "paid in full."
The terms of the violated Covenant were met, its price was paid by its Signer. God's justice was fulfilled. That is why Jesus took on a human form and allowed Himself to be crucified by His own creation. That is the reason the Blood of Christ is so precious. Why nothing less would do.
Because justice demanded it. And because justice was satisfied, a lost sinner need only accept the Pardon obtained at the Cross as full payment for his sins to obtain eternal life. Because of Good Friday,
"Whosoever shall call upon the Name of the Lord SHALL be saved." (Romans 10:13)
Our sin debt was paid in full on Good Friday. The only thing now separating God from man is human pride. Accepting by faith the pardon obtained for us at the Cross is a humbling experience.
We've noted in the past that God's way is not our way, and His thoughts are not our thoughts. Indeed, God's way is usually the exact opposite of human thinking. Christians obtain victory by surrendering. We obtain eternal life through the Death of Christ, but to achieve eternal life one has to first die.
"Good" Friday is the day that commemorates the greatest evil ever perpetrated in the history of mankind. But as it turned out, it was the worst day possible for the forces of evil. It marked the first introduction of pure good to this old world since the Fall of Man.
"He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon Him; and with His stripes WE are healed." (Isaiah 53:5)
Happy Easter season!
Trust - By Matt Ward -
Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not unto your own understanding (Proverbs 3:5).
Easter is a celebration of victory. Commemorating the day on which Jesus rose from the dead, it is a celebration of the fulfillment of the oldest prophecy in Scripture.
"And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her Seed; It shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise His heel" (Genesis 3:15).
It was in Jesus' savage death on the Cross, up on Calvary's hill, and in his subsequent resurrection from the dead that the Son of God decisively crushed the head of the Serpent, and in so doing defeated death for all time on our behalf.
Jesus Christ triumphed.
"...And having disarmed the powers and authorities, he made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross" (Colossians 2:15).
Such was the victory of the cross that Jesus immediately descended into the very heart of Tartarus, to the very deepest, darkest places of Shoel, to preach victory to the rebellious spirits of long ago, imprisoned there because of their disobedience.
"After being made alive, he went and made proclamation to the imprisoned spirits-to those who were disobedient long ago when God waited patiently in the days of Noah while the ark was being built" (1 Peter 3:19-20).
This was a proclamation of victory, not a proclamation of repentance to those spirits of old who had disobeyed. This was a display to those disobedient spirits, long since confined to the Pit, of the final and ultimate victory of the Son of God, of the defeat of their nefarious aspirations to thwart God's plans for His creation, and of the certainty of a near future restoration of all things.
All our hopes for the future are bound up in Jesus' mighty victory at Easter. It represents our hopes for a life eternal with God, hope in our own personal restoration, and hope in a future Kingdom of believers. It is our hope in a future kingdom of perfect peace, justice and righteousness, where we will all be made whole again.
In an age when Christians are increasingly mocked, ridiculed and abused, the resurrection of Jesus Christ represents the certainty of our hope in the man who is God, Jesus Christ.
In an age when everything about the Christian faith seems to be increasingly ridiculed, and when the powers of this world are clearly trying with every fiber of their being to undermine the basis of our trust in Scripture, Easter is a time to remind ourselves of the absolute veracity of the word of God, and of just how much we can trust in Him.
It is a time to remember that we can trust the promises made to us in Scripture, and that we can trust its word for our lives and for the future. There is a very special blessing for us in Scripture regarding Easter, if only we could understand it.
Around 500 years before the birth of Christ, Daniel received the following prophecy:
"Seventy 'sevens' are decreed for your people and your holy city to finish transgression, to put an end to sin, to atone for wickedness, to bring in everlasting righteousness, to seal up vision and prophecy and to anoint the Most Holy Place.
"Know and understand this: From the time the word goes out to restore and rebuild Jerusalem until the Anointed One,the ruler, comes, there will be seven 'sevens,' and sixty-two 'sevens.' It will be rebuilt with streets and a trench, but in times of trouble. After the sixty-two 'sevens,' the Anointed One will be put to death and will have nothing" (Daniel 9:24-26).
This prophecy is essentially telling us that Messiah, Jesus, will be "cut off," or killed, sixty-nine 'sevens' after the order has been given to restore and rebuild the walls of Jerusalem.
"From the time the word goes out to restore and rebuild Jerusalem until the Anointed One,the ruler, comes, there will be seven 'sevens,' and sixty-two 'sevens.'"
The "sevens" refer to weeks of years. Just as there are seven days in a week, a week of years is seven years. Therefore, sixty-nine 'sevens' is sixty-nine multiplied by seven, equaling 483 years.
The prophecy is telling us that Messiah would come to Israel exactly 483 years after the order to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem had been issued.
However, the Jewish people were given a calendar that had 360 days per year in it, not 365.25 days per year, as our own has.
This is important to remember as it demonstrates the absolute specificity of this prophecy. It is telling us that God is so accurate in his predictive prophecies that we can hold him to account to the very day.
If the Jewish people work with a 360-day calendar, this means that they could work out, from the issuing of the decree to rebuild Jerusalem and its walls, the exact day on which their Messiah and King would come to them in the future!
Ancient Israel should have known the exact day Jesus would come to them as their Messiah and King!
360 (days in a year) x 483 years (69 'sevens') = 173,880 days after the proclamation had gone forth!
Therefore, from the order to rebuild Jerusalem and its walls, there would be 173,880 days until the Messiah would come and be presented to the Jewish people - 173,880 days exactly, not a day more, not a day less. Prophecy does not get more specific than this.
Furthermore, because the issuing of this decree is a historically attested fact, recorded in antiquity, there can be no debate. The decree went forth on March 14th, 445 BC by Artexerxes I. This means that from March 14th, 445 BC, it was possible for the Jews to count forward and anticipate the coming of their own Messiah to the exact day!
What is shocking to realize is that Jesus himself held the Jewish people accountable for not recognizing his coming on this exact, specific day.
On every previous occasion during his ministry, when the people wanted to take Jesus and make him king, he always refused, usually slipping away.
"Jesus, knowing that they intended to come and make him king by force, withdrew again to a mountain by himself" (John 6:15).
Jesus withdrew because he knew that it was not yet his time; he knew that it wasn't the correct day. It wasn't 173,880 days from the issuing of the decree!
But which day exactly was this 173,880th day?
Count 173,880 days forward from 14th March, 445 BC and we come to April 6th, 32 AD. Jews know that day as the 10th of Nissan. This was five days before Passover and, importantly, the 10th of Nissan was the day in ancient Israel when the pure and blemishless Passover sacrifice was selected for the forthcoming Passover sacrifice.
It was on this exact day, at this exact time, that Israel's true blemishless lamb, "...the Lamb who was slain from the creation of the world" (Revelation 13:8) had come to them, presenting himself to the nation for the only time as their King. They failed to recognize him.
We know this day as Palm Sunday, when Jesus came to Jerusalem humbly, riding on a donkey.
"Rejoice greatly, Daughter Zion! Shout, Daughter Jerusalem! See, your king comes to you, righteous and victorious, lowly and riding on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey" (Zechariah 9:9).
This was the 173,880th day from the issuing of the decree to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem, Palm Sunday.
In the ages to come, the Jewish nation will regard this one day, and their failure in it to recognize their King's coming to them, as a day of deep regret. This year Palm Sunday falls on the 25th of March.
Clearly, we can trust the word of God, every part of it. We can trust what it tells us about Jesus Christ. We can trust that our personal salvation is found in Him alone. We can trust what it tells us about our future. It has never been wrong, not once.
It was correct when it foretold the birth of Israel, in a single day.
"Who has heard such a thing? Who has seen such things? Shall the earth be made to give birth in one day? Or shall a nation be born at once? For as soon as Zion was in labor, She gave birth to her children. Shall I bring to the time of birth, and not cause delivery?' says the Lord" (Isaiah 66:8-9).
This happened on May 14th, 1948 with the rebirth of Israel.
It was correct when Amos 9:14-15 prophesied that Jacobs's descendants would regain control of Israel, never to be uprooted again. This, again, was fulfilled in 1948.
It was correct when Ezekiel 37: 10-14 prophesized that the second incarnation of Israel would be more impressive than the first, and in Jeremiah 16:14-15 that Israel's army would be disproportionately powerful. Leviticus 26: 3, 7-8 also said this.
We can trust the word of God.
Scripture was accurate when it spoke of how God would one day restore the fortunes of Israel after gathering them from world-wide diaspora, scattered amongst the nations of all the world.
"...then the Lord your God will restore your fortunes and have compassion on you and gather you again from all the nations where he scattered you. Even if you have been banished to the most distant land under the heavens, from there the Lord your God will gather you and bring you back. He will bring you to the land that belonged to your fathers, and you will take possession of it. He will make you more prosperous and numerous than your fathers" (Deuteronomy 30: 3-5).
We can trust when it tells us that one day soon a vast horde will come to attack Israel with the intention of annihilating her (Ezekiel 38-39). The beginnings of this disastrous and calamitous war are playing out right now in Syria and the Middle East. This horde is gathering. It will end in abject failure because mighty is the God who will judge them, and they will be utterly destroyed.
"I will execute judgment on him with plague and bloodshed; I will pour down torrents of rain, hailstones and burning sulfur on him and on his troops and on the many nations with him... On the mountains of Israel, you will fall, you and all your troops and the nations with you. I will give you as food to all kinds of carrion birds and to the wild animals. You will fall in the open field, for I have spoken, declares the Sovereign Lord" (Ezekiel 38:22; 39:4-5).
We can also trust Scripture when it predicts that one day soon all Damascus will be destroyed in but a single night, "...Damascus will no longer be a city but will become a heap of ruins" (Isaiah 17:1).
We stand on the cusp of this prophetic fulfillment right now.
We can trust when God tells us that all the nations of the world, at some point in the approaching future, will gather against Israel, and that Israel will be totally isolated, abandoned by all, including America (Zechariah 12:3).
We can trust when God tells us that in the last days Jerusalem will become a "burdensome stone" and a "cup of trembling" for all people (Zechariah 12:2-3). That day is now.
We can also trust when Scripture tells us that "all that burden themselves with it will be cut to pieces" (Zechariah 12:3).
Sadly, we can also trust when Scripture reveals that, as we increasingly approach the end, there will be a "...falling away..." (2 Thessalonians 2:1-3) and that the remnant, the true church, will increasingly come to experience isolation and persecution (John 15:20).
We can trust that the character of society in these end times will continue to degenerate to be like it was "...in the days of Noah..." (Matthew 24: 37) and that the "...love of most will grow cold..." (Matthew 24:12).
Yet we can also trust that, in these times, "Those who are wise will shine like the brightness of the heavens, and those who lead many to righteousness, like the stars for ever and ever" (Daniel 12:3).
We can also trust that one day soon "...the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever" (2 Thessalonians 4:16-17).
We can trust and hold onto our Blessed Hope that one day very soon we will all see, "...a door standing open in heaven. "The first voice I heard was like the loud sound of a horn. It said, 'Come up here'" (Revelation 4:1).
We can trust that one day soon "...heaven (will be) standing open and there... was a white horse, whose rider is called Faithful and True, with justice he judges and wages war" (Revelation 19:11).
We can trust Enoch, seventh from Adam, when he prophesied in Jude that "...the Lord is coming with thousands upon thousands of his holy ones, to judge everyone, and to convict all of them of all the ungodly acts they have committed in their ungodliness, and of all the defiant words ungodly sinners have spoken against him" (Jude 1:14).
We can trust that the Lord Jesus will overcome and defeat the antichrist, that usurper "...with the breath of his mouth and destroy by the splendor of his coming (2 Thessalonians 2:8).
We can trust that no matter how much we are ridiculed or mocked, how much we are scorned or become hated, in this life or the next, at the name of Jesus one day soon "...every knee will bow" (Philippians 2:10).
We can trust God and we can trust His word to us.
We can trust that "We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to our own way" (Isaiah 53:6) despite what we are being told from the more "progressive" pulpits these last days.
We can trust that "There is no one righteous, not even one" (Romans 3:10), because "...all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God" (Romans 3:23). All of us "...have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags...our sins sweep us away" (Isaiah 66:6).
Yet we have hope because we trust in God, and we trust in His Son.
"For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish, but have eternal life" (John3:16).
God Himself, through the Holy Spirit, declares that "...whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, but whoever rejects the Son will not see life, for God's wrath remains on them" (John 3:36).
Jesus declares to you today, "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me" (John 14:6). We can trust this word.
"For he says, 'In the time of my favor I heard you, and in the day of salvation I helped you. I tell you, now is the time of God's favor, now is the day of salvation'" (2 Corinthians 6:2).
This Easter, let go of all your doubts and worries, and simply trust in your God. As Jesus said to Peter 2,000 years ago, so He says to us today, "You of little faith," he said, "why did you doubt?" (Matthew 14:31).
Be like the Patriarch Abraham. "Abram believed the Lord, and he credited it to him as righteousness" (Genesis 15:6).
"Those who trust in the LORD are like Mount Zion, which cannot be shaken but endures forever" (Psalm 125:1).
Have a Happy Easter!
News from Hal Lindsey Media Ministries - Hal Lindsey -
As we approach Resurrection Day of 2018, the world lurches from one crisis to the next.
Just as there seems to be a glimmer of hope that the nuclear threat on the Korean peninsula may be easing, tensions continue to mount between Russia and the West. After the recent supposed Russian attempt to assassinate a former Russian spy on British soil, in a show of solidarity with the United Kingdom President Trump expelled 60 Russian diplomats and closed a Russian consulate this week. On Thursday, Russia responded in kind, expelling 60 US diplomats and closing our consulate in St. Petersburg.
Russian analysts have also recently accused Israel of actively training for war with Russia. Of course, the prophet Ezekiel predicted just such a war that will involve a confederacy headed by Russia that will include Iran and Turkey, among other nations.
As the danger ratchets up -- just as the Bible predicted -- so does the urgency to understand the hope that provides all believers peace in the midst of these dark times: the promise of the resurrection!
As is my custom, each year during Holy Week, I present a program I call, "The Week That Changed the World." The timing of the events of that week is critical. Jesus Himself set the timetable.
In this edition, I'll tell you why I think we're mistaken in commemorating "Good Friday." It should be "Good Thursday!"
And you probably know that the Feasts of Passover, Unleavened Bread, and First Fruits dramatically and poignantly foreshadow the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus. But there may be some aspects of the preparation for those feasts that surprise and move you.
Finally, I'll discuss the overwhelming evidence for Christ's resurrection presented by "The Undisturbed Grave Cloths."
Please tune in and tell someone else about the show. Share this blessed hope with others who are fearful of the future.
Rejoice! Jesus Christ lives! Happy Resurrection Day!
Don't miss this week's Report on TBN, Daystar, CPM Network, various local stations, www.hallindsey.com or www.hischannel.com . Please check your local listings.
Solving the Three Day Three Night Mystery - A Bible Study by Jack Kelley - https://gracethrufaith.com/topical-studies/holidays-and-holy-days/solving-the-three-day-three-night-mystery/
Note: Jack originally published this article in 2003. It remains one of the most popular on this site, and for good reason. It's a great example of what we love about his studies: taking God at His Word and not relying on human logic or tradition. This study has been an eye opener for so many, but some have had a hard time reconciling the differences between the Jewish calendar and their own, in particular, that the Jewish day begins at sundown. I created the new image you'll find at the bottom of the article, hoping that a visual representation would make this all a bit clearer. I hope this helps! -Samantha
In Matthew 12:38 Jesus was asked for a sign to show that He was the promised Messiah. The religious officials had just accused Him of using the power of Satan to perform His miracles, and so He described the only sign they would see. "Just as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of a huge fish," He said, "So will the Son of Man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth (Matt. 12:40)." By this He meant that because of their hardened hearts they would only know for sure that He was their Messiah after He rose from the dead, an unmistakably miraculous sign. History shows they didn't accept even as incredible a sign as this, but His response has resulted in a 2,000 year controversy surrounding the time of His death.
What's A Sabbath?
People who were unfamiliar with the sequence of the spring Feasts of Israel determined that the phrase in John 19:31 identifying the day after the crucifixion as a special Sabbath meant that Jesus was crucified on a Friday, because everyone knows that the Jewish Sabbath is Saturday. And almost everyone agrees that He rose again on Sunday. But there isn't any way you can put three days and three nights between Friday afternoon and Sunday morning. Hence the controversy.
So let's set the record straight. Sabbath is a Hebrew word that means means "rest" and refers to holy days when no work is allowed. There is one every Saturday in Israel, but there are also several during the year that are date specific. That means they are always observed on a specific calendar date, regardless of the day. They're like our Christmas. Every year it comes on the 25th of December no matter what day of the week that happens to be.
The special Sabbath John referred to is the Feast of Unleavened Bread, and it's a date specific holy day; always observed on the 15th of the month they call Nisan, which corresponds to March/April on our calendar. So the first thing we learn is that the special Sabbath mentioned in John 19:31 didn't have to be a Saturday.
Originally there were four special days in the month of Nisan. The first was Passover on the 14th. Then the Feast of Unleavened Bread which began on the 15th and ended on the 22nd, both of which were special Sabbaths. And finally, there was the Feast of First Fruits which fell on the Sunday morning following Passover (Leviticus 23:4-14).
Of the four, only the two that opened and closed the Feast of Unleavened Bread prohibited work like the weekly Sabbath, but all have both a historical and prophetic purpose and like all days in the Jewish calendar they begin at sundown, following the pattern of Genesis 1 where God repeated the phrase, "and there was evening and there was morning" six times, once for each day of creation.
The Passover Lamb
The next issue we have to consider is the sequence of events in the week we call Holy Week. In Exodus 12:1-13, where the Passover was ordained, we learn what that sequence was. God told the Israelites to select a lamb on the 10th day of the month and inspect it for defects until the 14th. This means through the end of the 13th. Then at twilight they were to slaughter and roast it, eating it that same evening, as the 14th was beginning. Using some of its blood they were to paint their door posts red to protect them from the plague coming upon Egypt at midnight.
Jesus came to fulfill the prophecy of the Passover Lamb, to save from death everyone who spiritually applies His shed blood to their lives. The only day He ever allowed the people to hail Him as King was on the day we call Palm Sunday, and as we'll see it was the 10th day of the month. He did this to fulfill the selection process for the Passover Lamb. When the officials told Him to rebuke His disciples, He said that if they became quiet, the very stones would cry out (Luke 19:40). For this was a day ordained in history. It was the day He officially presented Himself as Israel's Messiah, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world (John 1:29). It was 483 years to the day from the issuing of the decree to restore and rebuild Jerusalem, spoken of by Daniel the Prophet (Daniel 9:25). A little while after the officials cautioned Him, He condemned Jerusalem to utter destruction because they did not recognize the day of His visitation (Luke 19:41-44).
The next three days were filled with the most aggressive debate and confrontation with the officials in His entire ministry. He was being inspected for any doctrinal spot or blemish that would disqualify Him as the Lamb of God. They found none, and finally no one dared ask Him any more questions. (Matt. 22:46)
Some years before the birth of Jesus, the Passover celebration had been changed and in the Lord's time called for a brief ritual meal of lamb, unleavened bread, and bitter herbs (horseradish) to begin the 14th followed by a great and leisurely festival meal on the 15th, when the Feast of Unleavened Bread begins. This meal is called the Passover Seder.
The 14th became known among the people as Preparation Day , because during the day they made ready for the great feast day beginning at sundown, after which no work was permitted. Mark 15:42, Luke 23:54, John 19:31 all identify Preparation Day as the day of the Lord' s death, while Matt. 27:62 says the day after the crucifixion was the day after Preparation Day. So all four Gospels agree; Jesus died on Preparation day, the 14th of their month Nisan, which is Passover. As evening began the day, He ate the ritual meal with His disciples in the Upper Room, and then was arrested, tried, convicted, and put to death; all on Passover. So just like the Lord had commanded in Exodus 12, our Passover Lamb was selected on the 10th, inspected on the 11th, 12th, and 13th, and executed on the 14th of Nisan.
How Do We Know This?
A little over 100 years ago a believer named Robert Anderson was head of Scotland Yard's investigative division. He became intrigued by the three days and three nights issue and enlisted the help of the London Royal Observatory to investigate the problem since astronomers can locate the exact position of the planets and stars on any date in history. Since Passover always falls on the 14th, and since the Jewish calendar is lunar (moon) rather than solar (sun) oriented, there is always a full moon on Passover. This fulfills Genesis 1:14.
Plotting the course of the Sun and Moon they documented the day and date of every full moon. The Royal Observatory discovered that the first Palm Sunday was the 10th of Nisan, the day when Exodus 12 says to select the lamb. Therefore Passover, the 14th, was a Thursday. The Feast of Unleavened bread began on Friday the 15th, Saturday the 16th was the weekly Sabbath, and Resurrection Morning was also a Sunday, the 17th, when the Feast of First Fruits was celebrated. From Thursday to Sunday there are three days and three nights. It's a little confusing to our way of thinking because the Hebrew day changes at sunset, which means that night precedes day. But read carefully and you'll see that it makes sense.
As I've said, Jesus had to die on Passover to fulfill the prophecy. Early that Thursday morning the Jewish leadership had gotten permission to crucify Him. (Matt. 27:1-26) His fate was sealed and He was hanging on the cross by 9 AM, as good as dead. His actual time of death was about 3 PM and His body was laid in the tomb sometime later, since the officials wanted it off the cross before sundown brought the Feast of Unleavened Bread, after which no work was permitted. By then Jesus had been in Sheol for several hours. Thursday was day one.
Because in Jewish reckoning the night precedes the day, at sundown it became Friday the 15th, night one, and the special Sabbath John mentioned began (John 19:31). At sunrise it was Friday morning, and day two began. The next sundown brought Saturday night the 16th, night two, and the regular Sabbath began. As of sunrise it was Saturday day, the beginning of day three. At sundown on Saturday it became Sunday night the 17th, night three, and sometime before sunrise Jesus rose from the tomb. Three days and three nights. When the women arrived at sunrise to anoint His body early in the morning, He was already gone.
So in the week Jesus died two Sabbaths that permitted no work were observed back to back: The Feast of Unleavened Bread on Friday the 15th, and the regular weekly Sabbath on Saturday the 16th. In Matthew 28:1 we read that at dawn on the first day of the week (Sunday the 17th) the women who were close to Jesus went to the tomb. Luke 24:1 tells us they were going to anoint His body for burial. The two consecutive Sabbaths had prevented them from doing so earlier (Luke 23:55-56). But He wasn't there. He had risen. Being the Sunday after Passover, at the Jewish Temple it was Feast of First Fruits. At the Empty Tomb it was Resurrection Morning.
How Can We Confirm This?
Some people try to equate his time of death with the burial of His body and say you can't count Thursday as day one, because His body wasn't laid in the tomb until sunset was upon them. But that doesn't make sense. A person's death always precedes his or her burial, sometimes by several days. In the Lord's case it was several hours between the time He died and the time His body was laid in the tomb.
The two disciples who met the Lord on the road to Emmaus that Sunday (the day the Lord's resurrection was discovered) help us to confirm this (Luke 24:13-35). At first they thought the Lord must have been a very recent visitor to the area when He asked them to explain why they were so sad. In the course of the discussion they indicated it was the third day since the crucifixion. "Since" is roughly equivalent to "after". It being a Sunday, the previous day (Saturday) would have been the 2nd day since it happened , and Friday would have been the first day since it happened, making Thursday the day it happened.
Others argue that this view doesn't permit three full days and three full nights in the tomb but that's not what the Scripture says. It simply says three days and three nights. If you move his death up to Wednesday to get three full days you violate the Passover Lamb prophecies, the women wouldn't have waited until Sunday morning to prepare the Lord's body because they could have done it on Friday, and the disciples on the Emmaus road would have said Sunday was the fourth day since the crucifixion. So the Thursday date is the only one that will accommodate both the Passover Lamb and the three day three night prophecies. Mystery solved.
Most of us see our "day" beginning when we get out out of bed in the morning, but the reality is that it began hours before, at midnight. If you keep that subtle difference in mind, it shouldn't be too difficult to back up a few more hours to sundown of the previous day. That's when the Jewish calendar day began. In this calendar, each column represents one day of the week, just like your daily calendar. The top row represents the daytime hours while the bottom row represents the nighttime hours, just as you're used to. The difference in this calendar is in the dating. Since the Jewish day begins at sundown, the first half of each day is shown on the bottom half of the calendar. To follow that day to it's completion, you jump to the top of the next column to the right.
Daily Jot: Deadly march against Israel - Bill Wilson -
The ancient prophet Zechariah wrote a prophecy from the Lord: "I will make Jerusalem a cup that will stagger the surrounding peoples...When that day comes, I will make Jerusalem a heavy stone for all the peoples. All who try to lift it will hurt themselves, and all the earth's nations will be massed against her." This prophecy taken directly from the Hebrew translation speaks of the Day of the Lord, but a type and shadow of this prophecy is playing out before our very eyes in Israel as "Palestinian" forces amass on Israel's borders with Gaza. Interestingly enough, the headlines were very similar exactly six years ago today when the Arab world began a Global March on Jerusalem.
March 30, 2012: The organizers of the Global March on Jerusalem said it would be peaceful. They knew full well, however, that Israel would not let them cross the borders from the nations surrounding Israel. It is reported that tens of thousands of Islamists were flown in from Iran and Indonesia and were trained by Hezbollah and other terrorist groups for this "peaceful" March. Already, the Facebook page for the march shows images of anti-Israel and anti-American protesters throwing and burning things to protest what Islam believes is an occupation of Arab land. One caption on Facebook read "Within the events of the World March towards Jerusalem. Thousands of Indians participated in the walk and burn the Zionist flag."
In 2012, Lebanon, Jordan, Syria, India, Iran, Indonesia, Egypt, and more were participating in the event that coincides with the annual protest of what the terrorists believe to be Israeli "occupation." Today, the Great March of Return was organized by the terrorist group Hamas and is using Gaza as a staging ground to move against Israel. This violent act in the name of peace coincides with "Land Day," which Arabs believe is the right of return of "Palestinians" to Israel. Of course, these Arabs schedule these land grab protests during the Jewish holy celebration of Passover when God led the Israelites out of slavery in Egypt and eventually settled them in the land promised to Abraham and his decedents, where today's Israel is located.
In 2012, Debkafile reported Israel forces opened fire to halt "Palestinian" demonstrators marching on the Gaza-Israeli border and crossings. Today, YNET News reports that Israeli forces opened fire to halt "Palestinian" demonstrators marching on the Gaza-Israel border and crossings. Six years ago around 20,000 Palestinians were reportedly marching toward the Israeli border. Today, it was reported that 17,000 "Palestinians" were marching toward the Israeli border. We can see that each year about the same things happen on the same days. The traditional enemies of Israel simulating an end time attack. While this is not the fulfillment of the Zechariah prophecy, it is a very real demonstration of how it can quickly play out.
Daily Devotion: Finished! - By Greg Laurie -
When Jesus had tasted it, he said, "It is finished!" Then he bowed his head and released his spirit. -John 19:30
The cross was the goal of Jesus from the very beginning. His birth was so there would be His death. The incarnation was for our atonement. He was born to die so that we might live. And when He had accomplished the purpose He had come to fulfill, He summed it up with a single word: finished.
In the original Greek, it was a common word. Jesus probably used it after He finished a project that He and Joseph might have been working on together in the carpentry shop. Jesus might have turned to Joseph and said, "Finished. Now let's go have lunch." It is finished. Mission accomplished. It is done. It is made an end of.
So, what was finished? Finished and completed were the horrendous sufferings of Christ. Never again would He experience pain at the hand of wicked men. Never again would He have to bear the sins of the world. Never again would He, even for a moment, be forsaken of God. That was completed. That was taken care of.
Also finished was Satan's stronghold on humanity. Jesus came to deal a decisive blow against the devil and his demons at the cross of Calvary. Hebrews 2:14 says, "That through death He might destroy him who had the power of death, that is the devil" This means that you no longer have to be under the power of sin. Because of Jesus' accomplishment at the cross, finished was the stronghold of Satan on humanity.
And lastly, finished was our salvation. It is completed. It is done. All of our sins were transferred to Jesus when He hung on the cross. His righteousness was transferred to our account.So Jesus cried out the words, "It is finished!" It was God's deliberate and well-thought-out plan. It is finished-so rejoice!
FROM THE HEART
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