The Last Countdown

Originally published on Tuesday, October 19, 2010, 12:10 pm in German at www.letztercountdown.org

The second part of the Shadow Series will deal with two issues that, at first sight, do not appear to be very prophetic. But, as we shall soon realize, this is only so at first glance.

The first issue that will provide ample food for thought is a problem that this time affects not only Adventism but the entire Christian world and touches an apparent contradiction in the Gospels. It relates to the Passover feast, and in my opinion, it has to be elucidated before we would be able to continue to study the feasts with their types and antitypes any further. Only an accurate knowledge of to what extent and how the spring feasts have been fulfilled at Jesus’ first coming can give us clues as to how we should understand the fulfillment of the autumn feasts that are still future. The autumn feasts have to be fulfilled in the same way as the spring feasts in the time of the return of our Lord. This was stated by Ellen G. White like this:

These types were fulfilled, not only as to the event, but as to the time. On the fourteenth day of the first Jewish month, the very day and month on which for fifteen long centuries the Passover lamb had been slain, Christ, having eaten the Passover with His disciples, instituted that feast which was to commemorate His own death as “the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world.” That same night He was taken by wicked hands to be crucified and slain. And as the antitype of the wave sheaf our Lord was raised from the dead on the third day, “the first fruits of them that slept,” a sample of all the resurrected just, whose “vile body” shall be changed, and “fashioned like unto His glorious body.” Verse 20; Philippians 3:21. In like manner the types which relate to the second advent must be fulfilled at the time pointed out in the symbolic service. {GC 399.3}

Modern interpretation of prophecy is always based on recognition of historical fulfillment of prophecy, because history repeats itself. If we understand history accurately, we have taken an important step towards the understanding of the future, because we can draw conclusions from antitypes whose types have already been fulfilled.

In the second issue of this second part of the Shadow Series, we will try to perform an analysis of the sacrifices of the feasts in unprecedented manner, in regard to their number and typological meaning. So far we only understand that all the sacrifices pointed to Jesus. While this is irrefutably true, it has never been investigated (at least not successfully), what the significance was of the fixed numbers of bulls, lambs, rams and amounts of related food offerings that were prescribed in the ceremonial law. We know the individual meanings of the types of sacrifices themselves, but not the significance of their numbers. There will be new light again for the diligent readers of these very deep studies which carries a special blessing for the 144,000.

Therefore, we must once again transport ourselves to the time of the crucial year AD 31 and accurately read what the Gospels tell us about Jesus and how He fulfilled the spring feasts, which were the prophetic type for His crucifixion and resurrection, and even more.

Back to the Passover Feast

On this occasion, our time machine has to travel an even longer distance; we have to proceed 3500 years to the past to identify the roots of the Passover feast. As we know, the Passover was established at the liberation of the Israelites from Egyptian slavery. The event that should be commemorated by every Passover feast thereafter took place in the night of the 10th plague, when the angel of death came and struck all the firstborn of the Egyptians. Only those Israelites who had obeyed the divine instructions of the ritual slaughter of the Passover lamb, having painted their doorposts with the blood of the lamb the evening before, were spared from the plague.

These events and precepts are described in Chapter 12 of Genesis. Let’s read through some verses to understand how these orders led to the various festivals of spring, so that we finally obtain an overview of the festivals with their respective type and antitype. You will see that some issues are not quite as clearly understood as we generally believe. Therefore, we must use a systematic approach.

And the LORD spake unto Moses and Aaron in the land of Egypt, saying, (Exodus 12:1)

The importance of these orders is emphasized because the Lord Himself speaks directly to Moses:

This month shall be unto you the beginning of months: it shall be the first month of the year to you. (Exodus 12:2)

The word for month was “hodesh”—as we learned in the first part—which means “moon” i.e. first crescent. Thus, God established the beginning of the year and the first month “Nissan”. All the other months of the year depended on this, and thus also the determination of the autumn festivals in the seventh month. We basically spent the entire first part of the Shadow Series to find the correct understanding of this one small word “hodesh” and considered how the beginning of the year was determined. We must proceed very precisely. This reminds me of Miller’s bible study method; he advanced to the next verse only when he believed he fully understood the one before it.

At this point, I would like to remark that the original expression for the first month which is used in the Bible isn’t “Nissan”. Originally, the first month was called “Abib” by God in the books of Moses (Exodus 13:4; 23:15; 34:18; Deuteronomy 16:1). Abib means “maturity” and thus already indicates that the determination of the first Jewish month depended on the seasonal maturity of the first crop, which is barley, because the name of the month itself expresses it.

The last word on whether a year begins or not depended upon God, who makes all crops ripen, and did not depend solely on the sun or the vernal equinox. In contrast, the religion of the Egyptians was purely dependent on the sun, and God explained to Moses a striking difference. The people of God should depend on their God, and not on the sun, and this should already be seen in the determination of the beginning of their year.

The term “Nissan” for the first month was first used by Nehemiah and Esther after the captivity in Babylon, from where it was taken. Too bad that even we use “Nissan” instead of “Abib” almost exclusively when we talk about the first Jewish month, because we thereby make use of Babylonian nomenclature and not the original Jewish terms, and so we fall too easily into the trap of the moon worshipers who do not want to admit that the barley harvest test was an integral part of the shadow services of the sanctuary of the Jews. I regret having to maintain this nomenclature too because all the literature uses it, and I want to avoid confusion. We must never forget, however, that the implementation of the barley harvest test can already be seen in the biblical name of the month itself!

Now, let us examine the precepts and types for the spring festivals:

A Type, Easy to Be Forgotten

Speak ye unto all the congregation of Israel, saying, In the tenth day of this month they shall take to them every man a lamb, according to the house of their fathers, a lamb for an house: (Exodus 12:3)

Here we find the first time an instruction that represents a type of Christ. Of course, we know that the lamb symbolizes Jesus. And the lamb was already put aside on the 10th day of the first month, and so separated from its flock.

But when was it slaughtered? Let’s read on...

And if the household be too little for the lamb, let him and his neighbour next unto his house take it according to the number of the souls; every man according to his eating shall make your count for the lamb. Your lamb shall be without blemish, a male of the first year: ye shall take it out from the sheep, or from the goats: And ye shall keep it up until the fourteenth day of the same month: and the whole assembly of the congregation of Israel shall kill it in the evening. (Exodus 12:4-6)

The lamb (whether sheep or goat lamb) was put aside, separated from its flock, and in the evening of the 14th day of the first month it was slaughtered. Of course, we understand that it should be without blemish, because Jesus as the antitype had no blemish (no sin). And only a male lamb could represent the correct sex of the Son of God.

I became a farmer Just in the middle of my life, and it’s true that you are closer to God in the countryside than in the city. Much of the Bible you understand clearly only if you are in contact with nature and animals. We must often separate a calf from its mother, either because the mother is sick or the calf must be weaned. It is also unadvisable to have a calf with the mother overnight, if you want to have fresh milk in the morning, because otherwise, the calf milks the cow before you do. Also, it often happens that a calf strolls away from the flock and remains in our very wild pastures because it does not find its way back, and it is missing in the evening when the flock has marched to the corral. What happens then, you can imagine only if you have experienced this first-hand. The calves really start to cry. They scream and cry the whole night, and only when they have very slowly become accustomed to these processes, the screaming and crying lessens until it stops completely. We often search the jungle for hours in total darkness for a calf. This separating of a calf some 4 days before its “execution” caused considerable distress to the animals, and the end is therefore even more sad. Why was this done in this way? What happened to fulfill the type of this cruel separating of a calf from its beloved flock, and how was this reflected in the passion week of our Savior?

Again, Ellen G. White gives us the solution... which we of course could find by ourselves through intensive Bible study. In Chapter 63 in the Desire of Ages, she describes the glorious entry of our Lord into Jerusalem. Let us read these all-important words:

Never before in His earthly life had Jesus permitted such a demonstration. He clearly foresaw the result. It would bring Him to the cross. But it was His purpose thus publicly to present Himself as the Redeemer. He desired to call attention to the sacrifice that was to crown His mission to a fallen world. While the people were assembling at Jerusalem to celebrate the Passover, He, the antitypical Lamb, by a voluntary act set Himself apart as an oblation. It would be needful for His church in all succeeding ages to make His death for the sins of the world a subject of deep thought and study. Every fact connected with it should be verified beyond a doubt. It was necessary, then, that the eyes of all people should now be directed to Him; the events which preceded His great sacrifice must be such as to call attention to the sacrifice itself. After such a demonstration as that attending His entry into Jerusalem, all eyes would follow His rapid progress to the final scene. {DA 571.2}

The weeping lamb separated from its mother and flock, represented Jesus, who set Himself apart from his people as an oblation. What happened—as an act of animal cruelty in the opinion of some—is in fact an image for our Lord who suffered for us. His suffering and His tears had already begun on the day when He apparently triumphantly entered Jerusalem. But rather than rejoicing, He shed all His tears for this people that was going to kill their Savior. A beautiful image, and if the Jews had studied the types of their festivals better, then they would have understood why four days before Passover a small lamb in their homes was already weeping bitterly for its flock. Hopefully, that won’t happen to us too, because the fall feasts are types that have not yet been fulfilled, and still have to be studied.

In our Bible Commentary on Exodus 12:3, there is no note of what type or antitype could have been fulfilled here. It is just stoically pointed out that the preparations for the Passover should already start four days earlier.

With good reason, our Adventist scholars do not make many words about it—because we’ve got another problem. And again, with Ellen G. White, who is apparently not able to count days.

Let us think it over. We know now from the first part of the Shadow Series, that Jesus really died on May 25, AD 31, on a Friday. This was clearly Nissan 14, because the Passover always falls upon the 14th day of the first month. Let us count backwards. If Friday was the 14th, then Thursday was the 13th, Wednesday the 12th, Tuesday the 11th and Nissan 10 was therefore the Monday of the crucifixion week, May 21, AD 31.

What? Monday? But wasn’t the entry into Jerusalem on the first day of the week, on Sunday!? Yes, and this is also confirmed by Ellen G. White at the beginning of the same chapter in Desire of Ages (p. 569) in the third paragraph:

It was on the first day of the week that Christ made His triumphal entry into Jerusalem. {DA 569.3}

No, not again! First, Ellen G. White says that Jesus entered Jerusalem on Sunday and then at the same time she says that He is the antitype of the separation of the Passover lamb from the flock on the 10th day of the month according to Exodus 12:3. And this 10th day was a Monday!

Do you understand, brethren, why our scholars keep quiet and we never hear sermons or studies about these issues? But do you see also, how we read such books of Ellen G. White? We read it, but we do not think it over and test things. However, she says so clearly in the previous quote:

It would be needful for His church in all succeeding ages to make His death for the sins of the world a subject of deep thought and study. Every fact connected with it should be verified beyond a doubt. {DA 571.2}

We must study everything so that there is more doubt or inconsistency, especially in regard to the events of Jesus’ fulfillment of the spring feasts, because it’s all about His sacrifice for humanity and our future eternal life.

So, we obviously found a serious contradiction in the logic of some statements of the Spirit of Prophecy. But wait, for now, that was just Ellen G. White! If we examine the events in the days of Jesus’ suffering, even the Bible comes under attack. And indeed, the Bible comes under such heavy fire that the entire Christian world has a problem. I want to tell you in advance, however, that the real solution to the problem of the inconsistencies of the Passover of the Gospels, and the occurrences in that week in regard to Jesus, will also solve the problem of Ellen G. White and the tenth day.

The Passover Lamb

The Passover lamb itself is obviously the most important type of Christ, which was already recognized by the apostle Paul:

Purge out therefore the old leaven, that ye may be a new lump, as ye are unleavened. For even Christ our passover is sacrificed for us: (1 Corinthians 5:7)

Now, please read for yourself the entire report of the instructions of Exodus 12 on how to handle the Passover lamb. It should be “kept up” (alive) “until the fourteenth day of the same month: and the whole assembly of the congregation of Israel shall kill it in the evening.” (Exodus 12:6)

And they shall take of the blood, and strike it on the two side posts and on the upper door post of the houses, wherein they shall eat it. And they shall eat the flesh in that night, roast with fire, and unleavened bread; and with bitter herbs they shall eat it. (Exodus 12:7-8)

Christ is our Passover Lamb. Anyone who has accepted Him as his personal Savior, and thus in a figurative sense, struck the posts of his door (his heart) with His blood, will be passed by the angel of death and live forever.

What day was the Passover lamb to be slaughtered? Please, read the text very carefully! Presumably, you are of the same opinion as the rest of Christendom—on the 14th day, because Exodus 12:6 says that “it shall be killed on the evening of the 14th day.” Because we know that the Jewish day starts at sundown, we assume with certainty that the Passover lamb was eaten at the evening of the 15th day (at the beginning of the day). Let us keep this in mind: the entire Christian world understands that the Passover lamb was slaughtered in the afternoon on Nissan 14 and was eaten in the evening (the Jewish Nissan 15).

Another text that obviously confirms this view:

And they departed from Rameses in the first month, on the fifteenth day of the first month; on the morrow after the passover the children of Israel went out with an high hand in the sight of all the Egyptians. For the Egyptians buried all their firstborn, which the LORD had smitten among them: upon their gods also the LORD executed judgments. (Numbers 33:3-4)

The Unleavened Bread

Another type or another festive arrangement is the seven-day feast of unleavened bread. The first day of the feast of unleavened bread, the day after Passover, Nissan 15, and also the last day of the festival (Nissan 21) were declared as ceremonial days of rest (sabbaths). I will mark the ceremonial sabbaths with numbers so you can see how many they are and to which events they relate. I will select the numbers of the ceremonial sabbaths in the order in which they appear in the order of the feast.

And on the fifteenth day of the same month is the feast of unleavened bread unto the LORD: seven days ye must eat unleavened bread. In the first day (1) ye shall have an holy convocation: ye shall do no servile work therein. But ye shall offer an offering made by fire unto the LORD seven days: in the seventh day (2) is an holy convocation: ye shall do no servile work therein. (Leviticus 23:6-8)

It should be a perpetual reminder of the unleavened bread that the children of Israel had to prepare due to the haste of their departure from Egypt.

Seven days shall ye eat unleavened bread; even the first day ye shall put away leaven out of your houses: for whosoever eateth leavened bread from the first day until the seventh day, that soul shall be cut off from Israel. And in the first day (1) there shall be an holy convocation, and in the seventh day (2) there shall be an holy convocation to you; no manner of work shall be done in them, save that which every man must eat, that only may be done of you. And ye shall observe the feast of unleavened bread; for in this selfsame day have I brought your armies out of the land of Egypt: therefore shall ye observe this day in your generations by an ordinance for ever. In the first month, on the fourteenth day of the month at even, ye shall eat unleavened bread, until the one and twentieth day of the month at even. Seven days shall there be no leaven found in your houses: for whosoever eateth that which is leavened, even that soul shall be cut off from the congregation of Israel, whether he be a stranger, or born in the land. Ye shall eat nothing leavened; in all your habitations shall ye eat unleavened bread. (Exodus 12:15-20)

God wanted to show by this that there would not even have been time to wait until the dough had been leavened. And He is talking about the sin, symbolized by the leaven. The exodus from Egypt typifies our exodus of spiritual Egypt, if we accept the sacrifice of Jesus. He will banish all “leaven” from our lives. This covers not only sin but also all the false teachings of the false teachers who keep us from worshipping our Lord “in truth”:

Then understood they how that he bade them not beware of the leaven of bread, but of the doctrine of the Pharisees and of the Sadducees. (Matthew 16:12)

God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth. (John 4:24)

The Sheaf of Firstfruits

The day after the first ceremonial sabbath (1), the first day of the feast of unleavened bread, Nissan 15, should be carried out as a special rite:

Speak unto the children of Israel, and say unto them, When ye be come into the land which I give unto you, and shall reap the harvest thereof, then ye shall bring a sheaf of the firstfruits of your harvest unto the priest: And he shall wave the sheaf before the LORD, to be accepted for you: on the morrow after the sabbath (1) the priest shall wave it. And ye shall offer that day when ye wave the sheaf an he lamb without blemish of the first year for a burnt offering unto the LORD. (Leviticus 23:10-12)

This was on Nissan 16 and typified the resurrection of Jesus on the first day of the week. He was the Firstfruits of all Risen:

But now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the firstfruits of them that slept. For since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive. But every man in his own order: Christ the firstfruits; afterward they that are Christ’s at his coming. (1 Corinthians 15:20-23)

The Omer Sabbaths and Pentecost

Easily forgotten and often overlooked are the seven ceremonial sabbaths that had to be counted until Pentecost and had to be kept in exact intervals of seven literal days.

And ye shall count unto you from the morrow after the sabbath (1), from the day that ye brought the sheaf of the wave offering; seven sabbaths shall be complete: Even unto the morrow after the seventh sabbath (3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9) shall ye number fifty days; and ye shall offer a new meat offering unto the LORD. (Leviticus 23:15-16)

The Karaite Jews refer to these as the Omer sabbaths. In the third part, I will provide an exact list of these many ceremonial sabbaths and put them in their chronological order. For this second part of the Shadow Series, it is just important to understand how many types and feast elements existed at all.

Pentecost fell upon the morrow of the last Omer sabbath (7 × 7 + 1), the 50th day after the first day of the feast of unleavened bread, and this feast was also declared a ceremonial sabbath:

And ye shall proclaim on the selfsame day, that it may be an holy convocation (10) unto you: ye shall do no servile work therein: it shall be a statute for ever in all your dwellings throughout your generations. (Leviticus 23:21)

It is quite clear that the feast of Pentecost was the type for the outpouring of the Holy Spirit in the early rain, and that the Omer sabbaths symbolized the waiting time until then.

If we add the Passover feast and the waving of the sheaf of firstfruits, which were not specifically declared a ceremonial Sabbaths, to the ten ceremonial sabbaths of the spring feasts, we get the often-emerging number 12 of the Covenant again. This time, this number relates clearly to the New Covenant that Jesus would institute with His blood.

Let’s come back now to the problem that I announced. We already understand which feasts were part of the spring festivals: the Passover, the feast of unleavened bread, the wave sheaf offering of the firstfruits, the Omer sabbaths, and Pentecost. We understand exactly—so we believe, at least—how those typifying feasts, which are reflections of the exodus from Egypt, have been perfectly fulfilled in their antitype, Christ’s suffering, His resurrection, the waiting time for the Holy Spirit, and the outpouring of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost. Then it surely wouldn’t be difficult for us to create a chart of the most important days of the year AD 31, where we show in one column the events surrounding Jesus’ death as the Bible describes it, and on another column, the related elements of the spring feasts. We would expect both columns to be in perfect harmony, because the type must match its antitype.

So, we must once again return to the cross, May 25, AD 31...

Day and Night and a lot of Confusion

I would like to familiarize you with a basic chart that we find in our Adventist Bible Commentary. I reconstructed it so that I would be able to translate it into different languages, to help you in these articles step by step on the right track, to the correct understanding of the sequence of events in the passion days of our Lord.

We need to distinguish between different calendar systems and how the beginning of the day was defined in the various cultures. One thing is certain, a day consists of night and day or day and night. And already here, we find a difference that is used by many groups to support the lunar Sabbath doctrine. The Jews saw the beginning of the day in the evening at sunset. This is the way they have understood the creation account in the Bible for thousands of years, and so did we in Adventism, until Laura Lee Jones, the originator of “the lunar Sabbath lie”, and her disciple Sascha Stasch in Germany “came into our lives”. But more on that later.

We in our “modern” world have been trained by the papacy to understand midnight as the beginning of the day. For us, it’s hard to “think” using other day beginnings because we have been taught this way since our childhood. The basic diagram below shows these two different day beginnings, and the descriptive names for the days from the end of Passion Week have been placed there, as we understand it. The “M” means midnight (our “Roman” beginning of the day) and the “S” stands for sunset (the Jewish beginning of the day).

Passion Week 1

The Jewish days of the first month are named with Nissan 13 to 17 and our week days with the names we know. I will now gradually extend this basic diagram, to give you an understanding of the problems we have to solve.

We know from the first part that Jesus died on the cross on Friday, May 25, AD 31 at the ninth hour which is 3 p.m. in our time notation. Let us add this:

Passion Week 2

Now we note the events of the passion days as they are described by the four Gospels. Each event was given a number taken from the table on page 201 of the English Bible Commentary, Volume 5. These numbers refer to the relevant Bible verses of the four Gospels, which tell us when exactly the event happened during the Passion Week. This was done as help for your own studies.

EventMatthewMarkLukeJohn
149Preparation for the Passover26:17-1914:12-1622:7-13 
150Passover Celebration26:2014:17-1822:14-16 
151The Foot Washing  22:24-3013:1-20
152The Lord's Supper26:26-2914:22-2522:17-20 
153The Traitor Revealed26:21-2514:18-2122:21-2313:21-30
169The Crucifixion 27:31-5615:20-4123:26-4919:17-37
170The Burial27:57-6115:42-4723:50-5619:38-42
172The Resurrection28:1-1516:1-1124:1-1220:1-18

Here is the table of the events from the perspective of Jesus and His disciples, just as the Gospels tell us:

Passion Week 3

So far, everything is still understandable and fine, but this table was added to our Bible Commentary in order to demonstrate, in a completely honest manner, a problem that arises when one tries to harmonize these events with the sequence of the Jewish Passover feast, which is actually the type of all these events surrounding Jesus’ crucifixion and resurrection.

An Unsolved Problem for the Whole of Christianity

The Bible Commentary shows on the top row the course of the Passover feast, just as Christianity conceives it. And soon, we will see discrepancies between type and antitype. In the following chart, the course of this festival is noted in the way that almost all Christians believe the usual Passover feast was kept:

Passion Week wrong

Obviously, all Christians agree on this—and we will see soon that this is an error—that the death of Jesus on the cross and the slaughter of the Passover lamb occurred at the same moment, and thus type and antitype would have been met. Let’s remember what the type was:

Your lamb shall be without blemish, a male of the first year: ye shall take it out from the sheep, or from the goats: And ye shall keep it up until the fourteenth day of the same month: and the whole assembly of the congregation of Israel shall kill it in the evening. And they shall take of the blood, and strike it on the two side posts and on the upper door post of the houses, wherein they shall eat it. (Exodus 12:5-7)

We all agree that Jesus is the true Passover Lamb! There is no doubt. Where then is the problem?

A Serious Problem

The table above is exactly the same as shown in our Adventist Bible Commentary. It was printed to show a serious contradiction between the first three (synoptic) Gospels and the Gospel of John. The first three Gospels report the following:

Now the first day of the feast of unleavened bread the disciples came to Jesus, saying unto him, Where wilt thou that we prepare for thee to eat the passover? And he said, Go into the city to such a man, and say unto him, The Master saith, My time is at hand; I will keep the passover at thy house with my disciples. And the disciples did as Jesus had appointed them; and they made ready the passover. Now when the even was come, he sat down with the twelve. (Matthew 26:17-20)

And the first day of unleavened bread, when they killed the passover, his disciples said unto him, Where wilt thou that we go and prepare that thou mayest eat the passover? (Mark 14:12)

Then came the day of unleavened bread, when the passover must be killed. And he sent Peter and John, saying, Go and prepare us the passover, that we may eat. (Luke 22:7)

According to these three Gospels, Jesus orders His disciples to slaughter the Passover lamb for Him and His disciples on the same day when all the Jews killed their Passover lambs. Hence, Jesus definitely ate the Passover lamb with the disciples on the same day when all the other Jews ate their Passover lambs, and that was on Thursday evening, the Jewish beginning of the crucifixion Friday. Here we are dealing with an apparent inconsistency in our understanding that the death of Jesus on the cross was the antitype of the Passover lamb, because the disciples were preparing the Passover lamb on the eve of Jesus’ crucifixion. If you ponder this, you are going quickly into a skid. And you are not alone!

Our Adventist Bible Commentary further admits that this is a problem that prevails throughout Christendom and has created some confusion, and that the Synoptic Gospels are apparently in contradiction with the Gospel of John:

Then led they Jesus from Caiaphas unto the hall of judgment: and it was early; and they themselves went not into the judgment hall, lest they should be defiled; but that they might eat the passover. (John 18:28)

When Pilate therefore heard that saying, he brought Jesus forth, and sat down in the judgment seat in a place that is called the Pavement, but in the Hebrew, Gabbatha. And it was the preparation of the passover, and about the sixth hour: and he saith unto the Jews, Behold your King! (John 19:13-14)

What an obvious contradiction to the first three Gospels! Jesus there eats with His disciples the Passover lamb on the eve of His crucifixion and the rest of the Jews eat it after His crucifixion! How can all this be possible?

The only thing we can see clearly from John is that Jesus died on the day of preparation and this is without doubt a Friday.

The Jews therefore, because it was the preparation, that the bodies should not remain upon the cross on the sabbath day, (for that sabbath day was an high day,) besought Pilate that their legs might be broken, and that they might be taken away. (John 19:31)

There laid they Jesus therefore because of the Jews’ preparation day; for the sepulchre was nigh at hand. (John 19:42)

Please, always let’s remember this. This is clearly established. Anyone who wants to displace this must put up with the accusation that he is speaking against the Bible.

But now even more gets mixed up! Because, the Passover lamb was slaughtered only in the temple and a specific time was determined for it. This was on the afternoon before the lamb would be eaten after sunset. The disciples had to stick to it. According to the Mishna (Pesahim 5:1) there was a special rule if the slaughter of the Passover Lamb fell upon a Friday (the day of preparation). This rule should cause us major headaches if we believe that Jesus’ death on the cross took place at the ninth hour on a Friday as the antitype of the daily sacrifice , because it reads that if the day before the Passover falls upon a day before the Sabbath (Friday), the daily sacrifice had to be slaughtered between 12:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. and not at the ninth hour!

A lot of confusion and we know who the father of all confusion is: Satan!

A Challenge

Our “scholars” at the BRI and the authors of the Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary have at least recognized the problem, and in Note 1 of the additional notes on Chapter 26 of Matthew, in Volume 5 on pages 532-537 of the English edition, we can read that all the experts in all of Christendom are searching in vain for a solution. They just do not know how to explain these apparent discrepancies between the Gospels. This is of course to the delight of the enemy of souls and the lunar Sabbath keepers, who present us their own solution as if throwing us a lifeline. They even cheekily challenge us on one of their now high-traffic websites with hundreds of thousands of followers who are recruited mainly from former Adventists (WorldsLastChance), promising a million dollars to the one who can prove from the Bible that the Jews kept the seventh-day Sabbath on a day other than their lunar Sabbaths. I do not know, dear friends, how you see this, but I in my small one-man ministry do not have enough money to offer similar rewards. Only those who do not have any Christian sensitivity, do not sense that the enemy is clearly behind such websites. Of course, they received a lunar Sabbath explanation for the two-Passover problem from “Grace Amadon” again from the underworld, but the real solution was simply “overlooked” once more due to a lack of Bible study.

Yes, the Israelites had a calendar oriented on the moon phases, and their ceremonial celebrations were based on this calendar. This had a very specific purpose. We know from Colossians 2:16-17, that the ceremonial sabbaths mentioned there were just “shadow of things to come”. What did the apostle Paul say by that? He underlines there that the moon-related ceremonial sabbaths (shadow sabbaths) should not be confused with the seventh-day Sabbath, because otherwise the fourth commandment would have been nailed to the cross with Jesus, and not even the lunar Sabbath keepers would have more arguments for their lunar Sabbaths, and we could stop keeping the Sabbath altogether. However, they are not able to explain why Paul is indirectly saying that the lunar sabbaths are shadows, or prophecies, of things to come. They just ignore this most important prophetic indication from the apostle, along with the problems that it causes for them.

So, what was the purpose of the lunar sabbaths and the feasts? The more we understand about the Jewish festivals, the more we will see what the purpose of all these festivals was, which were all dependent on the moon. They should—as the apostle goes on—foreshadow the “body of Christ” or prophesy events that revolve around Christ’s plan of salvation for mankind. There were some fulfillments of these “shadow sabbaths” in the spring feasts at the first coming of Jesus. This must be shown soon in clear, perduring, and incontrovertible manner. Other feasts, however, have not been fulfilled, and those will be part of the complex issues of the third part.

Attempts to Explain

Returning to Adventist doctors, theologians, and scholars who gave us a very comprehensive outline of the two-Passover problem in the Bible Commentary, we find four different explanatory models used in Christendom, which try to explain the apparent discrepancies in the Gospels:

1. One model claims that the Passover meal, which was also Jesus’ last supper with the disciples, was arranged by Jesus as an “advanced” ceremonial Passover. According to this explanation, Nissan 14 would have been the Friday and the Passover mentioned by John would have been the true one. The counter argument is that by a careful analysis of word usage of the authors of the Synoptic Gospels, this can be ruled out as false. We should also remember: Jesus was a Jew, He was even the founder of the Jewish religion, and He kept the rules He Himself gave. He came to fulfill the law, not to destroy it. It was He Himself who had spoken to Moses and had implemented the types at the Exodus and who gave to Moses in Leviticus 23 the instructions of how the festivals should be kept. Why then should He violate His own instructions? Therefore, even our Adventist scholars rule out this attempted solution to the problem, and this time I agree with them.

2. The exact opposite argument is that the Passover of John was not the true Passover, but the ceremonial meal that accompanied the feast of unleavened bread. According to this explanation, Friday would have been Nissan 15 and the supper of the night before the official celebration of the Passover at the prescribed time. We will see that this explanation contains a high degree of truth, but still includes a fatal error that necessarily must be corrected, so that everything harmonizes. The authors of our Bible Commentary clearly state in their opinion on this theory that it can be shown by the writings of Josephus that the term “Passover” in a figurative sense was applied to all 8 holidays (Passover and the seven days of the feast of unleavened bread) at this time. Therefore, to “eat the Passover” from John 18:28 could have been used for any other day of the feast of unleavened bread and did not have to be necessarily interpreted as the exact day of the Passover meal. We will see that this was indeed the case.

The fatal error that I mentioned comes up if we try to harmonize the resurrection of Jesus as the antitype of the wave sheaf offering of Leviticus 23.

And he shall wave the sheaf before the LORD, to be accepted for you: on the morrow after the sabbath the priest shall wave it. (Leviticus 23:11)

The Sabbath, which is called a sabbath in the verse, refers to the first day of the feast of unleavened bread a few verses earlier. This was a ceremonial sabbath no matter upon what day it fell. From now on, I will call this a shadow sabbath according to Colossians 2:16-17. A shadow sabbath is thus a ceremonial sabbath that was given by the feast-day instructions from Jehovah and could fall upon any day of the week.

In the first day [of the feast of unleavened bread] ye shall have an holy convocation: ye shall do no servile work therein. (Leviticus 23:7)

Accordingly, if the crucifixion Friday would have already been Nissan 15, the sheaf of firstfruits should have been waved on the seventh-day Sabbath (Saturday) and therefore the antitype to Jesus’ resurrection would not have fallen upon the first day of the week (Sunday) as other Bible verses state (e.g. Mark 16:2). I know, all this seems very confusing, but don’t worry, you’re not alone. The whole Christian world is confused and not just you.

And I admit frankly that I was of the same club! However, I study in the following manner. I always pray before I open the Book of books, and when I come to a part that I do not understand, I go into prayer. Often, I even fall asleep in prayer over a theme and when I awake in the morning, the Lord has given me the solution or a hint to find the solution in my mind. Then, I praise Him and begin to study the part anew, and in more detail, seeing with amazement how everything suddenly harmonizes. I myself am just a peasant worker and computer scientist. I would not be able to solve such serious and controversial issues by myself if God would not give me all that. All glory belongs to Him. Everything you read here is through His Holy Spirit.

3. The third approach takes into account the fact that Jesus probably would not have broken His own rules, stating that the Lord’s Supper described in the Synoptic Gospels would have been the typologically correct Last Supper. But it proposes that it was kept just by Jesus and His disciples, while the other Jews misunderstood the instructions of Leviticus 23 and kept the Passover on the wrong day (a day later). This means that an erroneous tradition had thus crept in. Here again, some elements of truth exist, like in other attempts at an explanation, but nobody can bring everything into harmony because we just encounter another problem. In this approach, the Friday would have been Nissan 14.

We know from the Mishna (Pesahim 5, 5-7) that the Passover lamb had to be slaughtered in the temple and this was possible only on the specified date (and everyone assumes that this was Nissan 14). No one, not even the disciples of Jesus, would have been able to come on a different day to the temple to slaughter and prepare their Passover lamb. They would have been expelled from the temple. In evaluating this approach, our Bible Commentary explains (Volume 5, p. 536):

The disciples apparently recognized Thursday as the day on which preparations for the Passover should properly be made, in the crucifixion year (see Matt. 26:17, Luke 22:7), and seemed to take for granted that Thursday night was the proper time for eating the paschal meal. Whether the subject had been under discussion and Jesus had informed them that the time of celebration would be an exception and come on Thursday rather than Friday night, or whether they considered that Thursday night was a normal time for the celebration, we are not informed. The synoptic writers are silent as to anything out of the ordinary about the eating of the Passover on Thursday night by Jesus and the disciples.

With this approach, we again have the problem of the wave sheaf offering, and this time it comes from the typological point of view. Our Bible commentators overlooked this completely. If Jesus and the disciples had eaten the Passover lamb on Thursday evening (the evening to the Friday), Thursday must have been Nissan 14 on which the lamb was to be slaughtered. This would have made Friday the first day of the feast of unleavened bread and the shadow sabbath, and the sheaf of firstfruits should have been waved on Saturday (the seventh-day Sabbath). Therefore, Saturday would have been Nissan 16. As the wave sheaf symbolizes Jesus’ resurrection, the Lord would have failed in the fulfillment of this type. On this day, Jesus was proved to have been in the grave and He rested from His works. If He had kept the Passover correctly and would have fulfilled this type (what was the antitype?), then with this approach He could never have fulfilled the type of the wave sheaf offering on the first day of the week with His resurrection. Do you still believe that we can solve all those problems?

4. A very interesting approach that shows how big the problems with the understanding of God’s calendar already were at that time, states that in the time of Christ, there were already different faith groups that had different interpretations of the festival ordinances. Therefore, some Christians came to the conclusion that possibly two different Passover feasts were kept. They believe that there was one group that thought that Thursday was Nissan 14, while others saw Friday as Nissan 14. So, Jesus would have celebrated the Passover with the “conservative” Jews (Pharisees) on Thursday and the more “liberal” Jewish leaders (the Sadducees) celebrated the Passover the other night, the Passover of John.

This approach leads to the problem of the wave sheaf offering again, as described twice before. If Jesus had celebrated the “correct” Passover with His disciples on Thursday evening, He should have risen on the “correct” day of the wave sheaf offering, and that would have been Saturday and not Sunday. Again, this is not mentioned in the Bible Commentary, which in any case does not deal much with Jesus’ fulfillments of these types—which seems to me rather strange for a Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary.

The “Conclusions” on page 537 are the corresponding result:

We have here one more instance where our present-day ignorance of ancient Jewish practices appears to be the cause of our inability clearly to harmonize the seemingly conflicting statements of John and the Synoptics.

The authors of Bible Commentary continue, saying that “without accepting any one of these four proposed explanations”, they now propose their own sequence of events. In summary, these proposals in the Bible Commentary are:

a. There was a double celebration of the Passover, based on religious disputes among the Jews.

b. On Thursday evening, Jesus had correctly celebrated the Last Supper and the Passover meal with the disciples at sunset in the early hours of Nissan 14, and this was the true celebration of Passover.

c. Jesus died at the time of the evening sacrifice and slaughter of the Passover lambs on Friday, Nissan 14.

d. In the crucifixion year, the official celebration of the Passover was on Friday night after the crucifixion.

e. Jesus rested in the grave during the seventh-day Sabbath, which in this year coincided with the ceremonial sabbath, Nissan 15, the first day of unleavened bread.

f. Jesus rose from the grave on early Sunday morning, Nissan 16, the day on which the wave sheaf had to be waved in the temple, which typified the resurrection.

And in the conclusion to these “conclusions” they say:

Happily, it is not necessary to solve this problem in order to avail ourselves of salvation through “Christ our passover,” who was “sacrificed for us.” (1 Cor. 5:7).

In the next article, I will show you who is right and to what degree. I will show that there was no double celebration of the Passover. I will show that all the Jews and even Jesus together with His disciples celebrated the Passover meal on Thursday evening according to the appropriate interpretation of the biblical type. I have already shown that Jesus died on the cross on Friday, May 25, AD 31 at the ninth hour, but I will now show that this was indeed Nissan 14 and not Nissan 15, as many claim. I will show that on Friday evening no official celebration of the Passover took place and that the “proposed” BRI Bible Commentary solutions are fundamentally wrong, as well as all the other four of Christianity’s previously proposed solutions. It is always that parts are correct, but an error still prevails that could not be resolved. I will show how it is possible that despite the expected contradictions, points e and f have been exactly fulfilled, and how the two-Passover and the wave sheaf problem can be solved.

And I completely disagree with the commentators that it isn’t necessary to find a solution to these problems, and would like to point to Ellen G. White once again, who said:

It would be needful for His church in all succeeding ages to make His death for the sins of the world a subject of deep thought and study. Every fact connected with it should be verified beyond a doubt. {DA 571.2}

If we do not know what happened then, we would not be able to refute the lunar Sabbath keepers with their devilish doctrine, nor the Jews who claim that our Gospels are full of contradictions. So, the doubt that has been planted in us would rise one day, and we would leave the path to life. No one is saved by this knowledge, but our feet must be grounded on a solid foundation so that we are not swept away by the coming storm.

This admittedly complicated study bears a special blessing for those who persevere to the end: the complete understanding of the significance of the Jewish holidays, their past and future fulfillment in the entire history of the Advent people from its earliest days until their glorious entry into the heavenly Canaan, because In like manner the types which relate to the second advent must be fulfilled at the time pointed out in the symbolic service. {GC 399.3}

Please read on at Shadows of the Cross - Part II...

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