Let us now consider this trilogy of redemption in the first 3 feasts of the biblical calendar in Leviticus 23. Each feast follows the other by one day.
Passover occurred on the 14th of Nisan which, according to the Gregorian calendar, happened last Thursday. This was when the paschal lamb was sacrificed. It was on this day, about 2000 years ago, when Yeshua, the Lamb of God, was crucified. This feast lasts only one day. One day later, on the 15th of Nisan, they celebrated the Feast of Unleavened Bread. This feast symbolizes the purity and sinlessness of the Messiah. It lasts 7 days. And then, on the 16th of Nisan, came the Feast of Firstfruits, the resurrection. According to the Hebrew calendar, this year the resurrection took place this past Friday.
In these three feasts we can see the full redemptive picture each believer has in Yeshua. It describes our journey from earth unto eternity:
- At Passover, we see our salvation. One day long.
- In Unleavened Bread we see our sanctification, since it speaks of holiness. Seven days long.
- In Firstfruits, we see our resurrection, an event soon to occur for all believers. One day long.
Notice that the Feast of Unleavened Bread does not stop at the resurrection, but rather it keeps going, as our spiritual growth also never stops. We will always learn and grow in the knowledge of the Lord even throughout eternity.
A Calendric Blunder
A problem arises as we see a conflict between the biblical and today’s “Christian” calendar. If, according to this year’s biblical calendar, the resurrection occurred on Friday past, why does nominal Christianity celebrate Easter on Sunday? Jews and Gentiles should be celebrating these feasts at the same time, since they are the same feasts. The reason for this discrepancy is very sad. It all changed because the Roman Emperor Constantine did not like the Jewish people and so, at the making of the Nicean Creed, in 325 a.d., he ordered that certain events should not be celebrated at the same time as do the Jewish people.
This is what he wrote: We ought not, therefore, to have anything in common with the Jews, for the Savior has shown us another way; our worship follows a more legitimate and more convenient course. (From the Letter of the Emperor to all those not present at the Council. (Found in Eusebius, Vita Const., Lib. iii., 18-20.)) And since that time, the nominal church made sure that the Passover occurs on a Friday and the Resurrection on a Sunday, regardless of the biblical dates. All this because of a dislike against Israel. But the early church celebrated the Passover and the Resurrection according to the original biblical calendar. Constantine also added: All things Jewish were understood to be contemptible and totally incompatible with Christianity.
Constantine was wrong for today, as we are coming close to the end times, both Jewish and Gentile believers in Yeshua are gathering together to proclaim the Messiah to the whole world.
Let the Bread and Wine be Served!
Now let us take a closer look at the third Feast, Yom Ha-Bikkurim, which occurs on the 16th of Nissan. It also falls within the timeframe of the feast of the Unleavened Bread, pointing to the sinlessness of the Messiah. It is this sinlessness which allowed Him to raise Himself from the dead. So, it is on the 16th of the 1st month, when Yeshua rose, affirming and forever, the eternal destiny of all those who committed their lives to Him. And it is such a joyous feast, for it is stamped with new elements: the quantity of grain is doubled and for the first time in the Feasts of Israel in Leviticus 23, the offering of wine is introduced. Both these things bring out the happiness and jubilation behind the Resurrection.
At the time of the first century, this feast was major, and it was done with such joy and singing. The Mishnah, the Jewish Law, tells us how the people brought their gifts and it was not easy to manage so many people coming to the Temple. Let us not forget that it was during the time of the Passover when all Jews were summoned to Jerusalem and to the Temple. Today however, this feast in Rabbinical Judaism is almost unrecognized, almost non-existent. Some Jews do not even know this feast exists. Today’s Judaism puts the emphasis on Passover, while nominal Christianity puts the emphasis on the Resurrection, but both go hand and hand.
And concerning Passover, Unleavened Bread and Firstfruits, these feasts were fulfilled by Yeshua and were accompanied by many extraordinary signs. The Lord wanted to make sure everyone would see and hear about the great news of His Son. And what is most remarkable is that these signs, do not only come from the Bible, but also from Jewish records such as the Babylonian Talmud and the Talmud of Jerusalem.
First the Bible records 6 major signs within these 3 days of these 3 Feasts.
We find them in Matthew 27:50-53. And Jesus cried out again with a loud voice, and yielded up His spirit. Then, behold, the veil of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom; and the earth quaked, and the rocks were split, and the graves were opened; and many bodies of the saints who had fallen asleep were raised; and coming out of the graves after His resurrection, they went into the holy city and appeared to many.
See the great upheaval God triggered in Jerusalem to awaken the people to the fact that the most important event in the history of man had begun; the death and resurrection of the Messiah, an event done for us, for our personal good.
Here is what we read: First, the veil of the temple was torn. The first who would recognize this event were the religious leaders, the first ones to reject the Messiah.
Second, there was an earthquake; it was a call to all the people. No casualties were reported, pointing to the Messiah Who was taking all on Himself.
Third, the rocks were split. This was to be reminiscent of the judgment of the end times. For instance, in Rev.6:16 the people asking the mountain and the rocks to “Fall on us and hide us from the face of Him who sits on the throne and from the wrath of the Lamb!” On the Tav, Jesus was taking all the wrath. It was as if a choice was being given to them; either you take Yeshua as your Savior now, or He will be coming back as a judge.
Let the Dead Arise
Fourth, the graves were opened! Imagine! How are we to understand that? It is not surprising that most Bible commentators do not make reference to this event. They often just mention it and go on to the next verses. Yet there is great irony here not to be missed. Remember that the religious leaders were in a hurry to get Yeshua’s body buried in order to avoid desecrating the Sabbath, yet we learn that during that very Sabbath the tombs were opened. Having opened tombs on the Sabbath was a desecration to the honor of that day and to the land itself. The religious leaders must have noticed the open graves but could not do anything about it because it was the Sabbath. But these open tombs reminded them that the safeguarding of holiness could not be achieved apart from God and His Son. They had just crucified the Son of God and yet they wanted to be consecrated and holy. They wanted to have religion without God. But on Saturday evening, at the start of the first day of the week, they probably sent people to cover these tombs, but nobody was in there for the dead had risen. And it is significant that only the tombs of the believers were opened.
And they rose at the same time as Yeshua rose, on the third day. And they went walking around Jerusalem. Such an extraordinary sign! How many were they? To whom did they go? Did they stay alive for a long time? We don’t know, but what we know is that our God was moving heaven and earth for the salvation of the people.