GET IN SYNC WITH GOD’S CALENDAR
Over 4000 years ago, God asked Job “Can you bind the cluster of the Pleiades, or loose the belt of Orion?” In His omniscience, the Maker and Creator of the heavens appointed a lunar/solar calendar. A year is simply the time required for the earth to travel once around the sun, completed when the day and night hours are exactly equal. The ancients called it the Equinox, but today, we call it the Equilux. We still have an Equinox, but it now marks the date when the sun crosses an imaginary line of the equator.
Surprisingly, the very first recorded New Year’s Day was celebrated following the ancient Vernal Equinox (today’s Equilux) in the biblical area known then as Mesopotamia where Abraham lived (Ur) around 2000 BC. Mesopotamia means “between the rivers”, in this case, the Tigris and the Euphrates, among the four rivers which flowed from the Garden of Eden (Gen 2:14).
God appointed the first month of the year 500 years later, around 1500 BC in Egypt in Exodus 12:1-2. It would forever mark the delivery of His people from bondage through the 10th plague, the Plague of Death to the Firstborn. “…When I see the blood, I will pass over you…” verse 13. The Israelites observed the first Passover in the prescribed month, setting the date in the middle of the desert with only the heavens as their reference point. And they did so for the remainder of their 40 years of wandering.
Other ancients also calculated the first month beginning on or after the ancient Vernal Equinox. Philo of Alexandria, a first century philosopher wrote, "Moses puts down the beginning of the vernal equinox as the first month of the year...” The Universal Jewish Encyclopedia, p. 410 says, “The New Moon is still, and the Sabbath originally was, dependent upon the lunar cycle. Both date back to the nomadic period of Israel.” (*Make a mental note that the Sabbath timing was originally dependent on the lunar cycle.)
}Our Creator appointed all the Sabbath Days to be in sync with the physical world as each one corresponds with the phases of the moon: First Quarter Moon, Full Moon, and Last Quarter Moon, and Dark Moon. What we are identifying as moonlight is actually sunlight reflecting off the moon’s surface. Though each phase technically lasts a brief instant, to our eyes they can seem to last for a few days. It takes about four weeks for the Moon to orbit once around Earth: 1 month.
OLD TESTAMENT APPOINTMENT: 3500 years ago, in Ex 5:1, God Almighty commanded the ruler of Egypt to free the people of His Abrahamic covenant who had been living there for hundreds of years. “Let my peop le go so that they may hold a festival to me in the desert”. When Pharaoh refused, God sent 10 plagues and announced His Deity. The 10th was The Plague of the Firstborn, known today as Passover. God desired to protect His people from the death of the firstborn, and required they identify their homes through the doorway blood markings of a sacrificial lamb. “On the fourteenth day of the month when all the community of Israel must slaughter them at twilight… I will pass through Egypt and strike down every firstborn of both people and animals, and I will bring judgment on all the gods of Egypt. I am the Lord. The blood will be a sign for you on the houses where you are, and when I see the blood, I will pass over you. No destructive plague will touch you when I strike Egypt…This is a day you are to commemorate; for the generations to come you shall celebrate it as a festival to the Lord—a lasting ordinance. For seven days you are to eat bread made without yeast…Celebrate the Festival of Unleavened Bread, because it was on this very day that I brought your divisions out of Egypt. Celebrate this day as a lasting ordinance for the generations to come.” Ex 12:6,12-15,17“Twilight” is more accurately translated “between the evenings”. There is a Hebrew word for twilight, not used here. “Between the evenings” was understood until 200 BC to be designating the afternoon before sunset of the following evening.
NEW TESTAMENT FULFILLMENT: From this scripture, we understand why this festival to the Almighty came to be known as Passover and the following 7 days as Unleavened Bread. Referring to this appointed time of the Almighty Paul makes the statement, “Christ, our Passover Lamb has been sacrificed. Therefore let us keep the Festival, not with the old bread leavened with malice and wickedness, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.”1 Corinthians 5:7-8
Our Passover Lamb has been sacrificed, once, for all time. The old leavened bread of religious actions and posturing has been replaced by that which can never be leavened: the Only Begotten Son of the Almighty. But a little leaven can hinder our ability to see the truth. So when the timeline for Holy Week seems to be contradicted within the books of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, Jesus OBSERVING the Passover becomes the focus instead of Jesus, the Unleavened Bread, BECOMING the Passover, forever rendering obsolete the observance in the first place.
We need to start at ground zero with God’s admonition for future generations in Hebrews 12:26-27 “And when your children ask you, ‘What does this ceremony mean to you?’ then tell them, ‘It is the Passover sacrifice to the Lord, who passed over the houses of the Israelites in Egypt and spared our homes when he struck down the Egyptians.’” The word “Passover” describing the sacrifice is the Hebrew word “Pesach”, actually refers to both the Lamb (the price paid for protection) and the day itself.
Passover Day is known biblically as the Fast of the Firstborn. The Jewish tradition of the Galileans and Samaritans was to have a meal together on the evening of the 13th before the fast. Known as “Seudah Mafseket”, it is literally translated "Last Supper". This tradition was moved later to the 3-hour period beginning at midnight on the 14th, when God preserved the firstborn of Israel. For many reasons, this supper, or an intimate evening meal other than Passover, HAS to be the one Jesus shared with His disciples. John refers to the Last Supper as an evening meal that occurred just before the Passover Feast. (John 13:1-2) Also, at a Passover meal, the focus is on the paschal lamb. But Jesus said, “This bread is my body”, which was certainly true enough. Also, in order to eat a Passover sacrifice during the days of Jesus, the lamb would be slain on the ceremonial altar by the priests in the Jerusalem temple, during the scheduled time for sacrifices, the next day. Again, the leaven of Jesus OBSERVING the Passover becomes the focus instead of Jesus AS the Passover Lamb of God, destined to take away the sins of the world.
According to the Book of Jubilees written before 150AD, the timeline for Passover events during the 1st month included Preparation Day on the 13th beginning between noon and 1pm, lasting until 6pm, during which time the lamb would be slain and prepared for the Passover meal to begin around 7pm on the evening beginning the 14th. After the Temple fell in 70 AD, there was no altar for a sacrifice, things changed to the current timing of eating the meal from sunset-midnight on the 15th day..
John the Apostle who was present at Jesus’ death, writes in John 19:14: “Now it was the Preparation of the Passover; it was about the sixth hour. And he [Pilate] said unto the Jews, ‘Behold your king’” John 19:31: “The Jews therefore, because it was the preparation, that the bodies should not remain upon the cross on the sabbath day…” Also, Luke 23:52-54 reports “This man went unto Pilate and begged the body of Jesus. And he took it down, and wrapped it in linen, and laid it in a sepulcher that was hewn in stone, wherein never man before was laid. And that day was the preparation, and the sabbath drew on.”
Our timeframe for the Holy Week begins with the Last Supper on the evening as the 13th began. Jesus went to the cross the next morning and during the designated Preparation Day hours, he was “prepared” as the Passover Lamb sacrifice. He died around 3pm (between the two evenings) and was buried during the afternoon hours. He was the Passover Lamb Sacrifice in every way when the Passover Meal began shortly after sunset on the 14th. He stayed in the tomb 3 days and 3 nights, just as He said in Matt 12:20 “For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of a huge fish, so the Son of Man will be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.” He rose from the dead by the morning of the 16th, the Day of Firstfruits, appointed in Lev. 23 as the day following the Sabbath (the 15th). “Christ has indeed been raised from the dead, the firstfrits of those who have fallen asleep.” 1 Cor 15:20
If we let go of our Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, and Easter Sunday concepts, God’s Word stands perfectly. They don’t exist anyway. They’re just arbitrary appointments we have come up with to comfortably fit God’s schedule into our own calendar.
GET IN SYNC WITH GOD’S CALENDAR TODAY! We will be publishing a 2018-2019 church calendar the first of March with God's calendar syned to our Gregorian calendar. It will start in March, as God's calendar does, and go through February 2019. All God's festival days, months, days, Sabbaths and new moons will be annotated there, along with all biblical appointments noted in Scripture. The calendar will also feature bible helps, lots of church history and photos, including His Garden of Grace. Order yours today by leaving your name and address http://fontanacommunitychurch.org/contact__donate__mailing_list__order_calendar A $25 contribution will cover the cost of the calendar and postage.