I mentioned in an earlier post that an understanding of the feasts of Israel is essential to a correct understanding of end times prophecy. Let us get this foundation before we move on into any further teaching about the end times.
Once again I am going to be quoting extensively from Dr. Stephen Jones. I encourage you to follow up on any scriptures quoted here and see if in fact this information is correct. Don’t receive it only because Dr. Jones or myself believes it; if it is true, the scriptures will bear it out. If it is true according to scripture, but flies in the face of all you have been taught, then you will face the dilemma of continuing to believe what you have been taught, or to believe the truth of the scriptures. If you feel that the truth cannot be established by the scriptures and the explanation of them that is given here, then discard this and continue to believe what you have always been told. I find the following information extremely fascinating and interesting. It is not for someone to read who does not have a great hunger for truth. If one is not interested in truth, the following information will be boring and empty However, if one is seeking truth with one’s whole heart, the following information will be a drink from the living waters.
The following information comes from Dr. Jones’ book The Laws of the Second Coming.
Any serious study of Bible prophecy should begin with the feast days of Israel that are found in the law. The feast days provide us with the basic outline of the plan of God of salvation for the individual, as well as an outline of God’s plan (as Paul states) to “put all things under His feet.” Too many books on Bible prophecy show very little understanding of the feast days, resulting in some popular but misleading views. The purpose of this book is to give the reader an understanding of Israel’s prophetic feast days first, and then build upon that foundation with other laws that prophesy about Christ’s second coming. In correlating the New Testament teachings with these lesser-known–but very important–laws of the second coming, the coming of Christ takes on new clothing.
After Jesus’ resurrection, He appeared to two disciples on the road to Emmaus and explained to them the meaning and purpose of Passover and why He had had to be crucified on that day. Luke 24:27 says,
27And beginning with Moses and with all the prophets, He explained to them the things concerning Himself in all the Scriptures.
Later, Jesus appeared to His disciples and explained to them how the law of Passover had prophesied of His death and resurrection. Luke 24:44 and 45 says,
44 Now He said to them, “These are My words which I spoke to you while I was still with you, that all things which are written about Me in the Law of Mosesand the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled.” 45 Then He opened their minds to understand the Scriptures.
There is no doubt that Jesus explained to these people how He had been crucified in order to fulfill the Feast of Passover and how He had fulfilled the wave-sheaf offering in His resurrection. It is likely that He also gave them some understanding of the Feast of Pentecost before telling them to tarry in Jerusalem (Luke 24:49).
We who have been endowed with 20/20 hindsight often marvel at how the people of Jesus’ day–including the disciples–could have had so little understanding of the real meaning of Passover. As Christians, the prophetic significance of this feast seems so clear to us now. But even today these things are not at all clear to those whose eyes are blinded by traditional Judaism. Even more astounding is that there are so few Christian booksoutlining the autumn feast days, showing how they prophesy of the second coming of Christ. As a result, the end-time Church today is, generally speaking, as blind to the prophecies of His second coming as the people of Judah were to His first coming–because they do not understand the meaning of the biblical feasts.
This book is written to explain the second coming of Christ, beginning with Moses. Even as Passover, the wave-sheaf offering, and Pentecost were fulfilled in the first coming of Christ, so also the Feast of Trumpets, the Day of Atonement, and the Feast of Tabernacles prophesy of events surrounding the second coming of Christ. But before we discuss the autumn feasts and the second coming of Christ, we must give a brief teaching on the spring feasts and how Jesus might have explained them after His resurrection.
Jesus Crucified at Passover
Jesus was crucified on the fourteenth day of the first month of the Hebrew calendar. This was the day Israel was to slay the lambs and put the blood on the lintels and door posts of their homes (Exodus 12:6, 7). The law in Exodus 12:6 specified that the people were to kill a lamb or a goat in the afternoon between noon and sundown, or “between the two evenings” (literal Hebrew text). The first evening was at noon, when the sun began to go down; the second was at sundown, when the sun actually set. In his book, The Temple, Alfred Edersheim says on page 211,
“According to the Samaritans, the Karaite Jews, and many modern interpreters, this means between actual sunset and complete darkness (or, say, between six and seven p.m.); but from the contemporary testimony of Josephus, and from Talmudic authorities, there cannot be a doubt that, at the time of our Lord, it was regarded as the interval between the sun’s commencing to decline and his actual disappearance. This allows a sufficient period for the numerous lambs which had to be killed, and agrees with the traditional account that on the eve of Passover the daily evening sacrifice was offered an hour, or if it fell on a Friday, two hours, before the usual time.”
The people were not to kill their lambs prior to the evening sacrifice in the temple. The evening sacrifice was normally killed at 2:30 p.m. (in the middle of the ninth hour of the day) and offered to God an hour later at 3:30 p.m. However, on the eve of Passover (Abib 14) the evening sacrifices were killed an hour earlier, unless this day fell on Friday, the preparation day for the Sabbath, in which it was killed at 12:30 p.m.
In our next section we will show from early Church writings that Jesus was crucified on a Friday. This is disputed by some, but we mention this here only to show that the evening sacrifice at the time of Jesus’ crucifixion was to be killed two hours early–that is, about 12:30 p.m. This was normal practice when Abib 14 fell on a Friday. Only then could the Passover lambs begin to be killed. Yet the lambs certainly also had to be killed by mid-afternoon in order to have them fully cooked by sundown, for all had to be in their houses by that time. Exodus 12:22 tells us,
22 And you shall take a bunch of hyssop and dip it in the blood which is in the basin, and apply some of the blood that is in the basin to the lintel and the two doorposts; and none of you shall go outside the door of his house until morning.
This law settles the question men have had about the timing of the last supper that Jesus ate with the disciples. There are some who teach that the Last Supper, which Jesus ate with His disciples, was the Passover meal and was eaten on the night of Abib 14 after all the lambs had been killed. That view teaches that Jesus was crucified the following day, Abib 15. This view is based on Jesus’ statement in Luke 22:15, “I have earnestly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer.” It was, indeed, a Passover meal, but it could only have been eaten on the evening after Abib 13, because after this meal, they sang a hymn and then went outside to the Mount of Olives (Mark 14:26), where Jesus was arrested. If they had eaten the Passover meal on the night after Abib 14, it would have been unlawful for them to leave the house.
Edersheim tells us in The Temple, page 213, that “at the first Passover it was said, ‘None of you shall go out of the door of his house until the morning,‘ which did not apply to later times.” This law perhaps did not apply insofar as the rabbinic traditions were concerned. One cannot easily dispute with so great an authority as Edersheim. Hence, it was probably a common practice for people to be outside their houses on the evening of Passover. However, the real question here is whether Jesus fulfilled the law in its every detail in regard to Passover. We do not believe that Jesus would have given credence to the rabbinic traditions that were in violation of Exodus 12:22, especially in view of the fact that this Passover had to be fulfilled precisely in accordance to biblical law.
Therefore, we must conclude that the Last Supper and Jesus’ subsequent arrest took place on Thursday evening, the beginning of Abib 14 (as the Hebrews reckoned days). His trial took place that same night, and He was crucified in the morning or at noon.
Jesus was put on trial that same night in front of the Sanhedrin. The following day Jesus was crucified. Mark 15:25 says, “And it was the third hour when they crucified Him,” perhaps, when Pilate sentenced Him to be crucified. Ignatius, bishop of Antioch, wrote some decades later that Pilate sentenced Jesus to death at the third hour of the day, but that Jesus was actually put on the cross at the sixth hour, that is, at noon. The third hour of the day was about 9:00 a.m., which was the time of the morning sacrifice in the temple.
The Eclipses That Day
At noon, or the sixth hour of the day, a strange thing happened. The sky suddenly became dark. From Ignatius’ letter, which we will quote later, it appears that the sky was darkened for three hours to mark the time that Jesus actually hung on the cross. Matthew 27:45 says,
45 Now from the sixth hour [noon] darkness fell upon all the land until the ninth hour [3:00 p.m.].
This was not a natural solar eclipse, for astronomers have charted all the lunar and solar eclipses visible in the Middle East for the past 5,000 years. In fact, since Passover always fell on a full moon, it was impossible to have a solar eclipse at Passover, for solar eclipses can occur only at the time of the new moon (that is, when no moon appears in the sky at night). Likewise, eclipses of the moon are seen only at the time of the full moon. And so, while there have been lunar eclipses at Passover on occasion throughout history, there has never been a natural solar eclipse on that day. The darkness that fell over the land at noon during the time Jesus hung on the cross was supernatural, not natural.
Astronomers tell us that in the late afternoon of Passover, Friday, April 3, 33 A.D., while Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus were hurrying to bury the body of Jesus, there was also a lunar eclipse. The eclipse began in Europe at 3:01 p.m. when Jesus died, and it was already eclipsed when the moon rose over Jerusalem at 5:10 p.m. that evening.
It is impossible to have a lunar eclipse and a solar eclipse on the same day, because the sun and the moon must be in opposite positions in the sky for these two kinds of eclipses. Yet on this great day in history, God marked the time for all to see by a spectacular miracle. In Bonnie Gaunt’s book, The Bible’s Awesome Number Code, page 55, we read:
“It was on a lonely hill outside the walls of Jerusalem that this Heavenly One, who came to earth to be born, to suffer, and to die as a man, hung on a cruel cross that afternoon. The hill was called Calvary. Its Greek name was Kranion, whose numeric value is 301.
“At 3:01 in the afternoon, as he looked heavenward and said, ‘It is finished,’ the moon began to eclipse. It was at 3:01 Greenwich Time that the eclipse began. God makes no mistakes with His timing, nor does He rely on coincidences. The word ‘moon’ in the New Testament is Selene, and its Gematria is 301. Yes, He who had formed the moon and put it into its orbit around the earth, now had given up His human life at 3:01, on a hill called Calvary (301) precisely when the moon (301) began to eclipse. It was the exact hour when the priests were killing the lambs for Passover. ‘Lambs’ [in Hebrew] has a numeric value of 301.”
For those unfamiliar with numeric values (gematria), the Hebrew and Greek letters served as their numbers as well as letters. Hence, each letter carries a numeric value, and one can add up the value of each letter to obtain the numeric value of any word or sentence in the Bible. In this manner, Bonnie Gaunt shows mathematically the precision of God in timing the first minute of His death (3:01 p.m.) in accordance with an eclipse of the moon (301) on a hill called Calvary, whose numeric value is 301. His death coincided with the Passover “lambs” (301) that were being killed at that same moment.
Why did God also blot out the sun at noon on the day Jesus was crucified? Astronomers tell us that on Abib 14, 33 A.D. at noon, the sun was positioned on a star called El Nath in the head of Aries, the ram. El Nath means “the wounded, or the slain.” That was the moment the sun was darkened. Assuming there were no clouds to block their vision, if the people in Jerusalem had looked up to see where the sun had been shining, they would have seen El Nath, the slain ram.
Some say the darkness at noon was a sign of creation in mourning. No doubt it was, but the divine law sheds additional light on this event. If we explain this phenomenon beginning with Moses, we note first that no one was allowed to kill the Passover lamb while it was dark. If the darkness had not ended in mid-afternoon, the people could not have observed the Passover that year, because they were forbidden to slay the lambs after dark. But the darkness lasted only until the ninth hour, or mid-afternoon. The sun came out, and the people began to kill their Passover lambs.
At that moment Jesus spoke His final words and died (Matthew 27:46-50).
God brought darkness so that no one would kill the lambs until Jesus died. This certainly identified Him as the fulfillment of the Passover lamb. He was, as John the Baptist had proclaimed, “the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world” (John 1:29). It was important enough in the plan of God that no one should kill the Passover lambs until the moment Jesus died on the cross. Jesus could not have died on any other day than Abib 14, for this was the appointed time set by the prophetic law of Passover.
Furthermore, God blotted out the sun for three hours in order to prevent the people from killing the Passover lambs until the moment Jesus died on the cross. As we showed earlier, rabbinic tradition allowed them that Friday to kill the Passover lambs as early as 12:30 p.m. after the evening sacrifice had been slain. So God brought darkness to the land in order to force them to conform to the time of Jesus’ death–as the law said, “between the two evenings.” It was the precise moment in history when the Lamb of God was destined to die for the sin of the world.