I will thank the Lord with all my heart as I meet with his godly people. How amazing are the deeds of the Lord! All who delight in him should ponder them. Psalm 111:1-2 NLT

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Jesus and the First Fruits of Resurrection


He is risen!! Resurrection Sunday has to be my favorite holiday (on a Sunday) of the year! I love to sing “Christ the Lord is Risen Today!!” at the top of my lungs…I usually don’t get very far into it before that lump in my throat cracks my voice and I have to swallow my joy to continue singing. What a glorious day!! The interesting thing is that the Jews were celebrating Resurrection Sunday long before Jesus was even born. In fact, they celebrated this past Sunday right along with us, but for very different reasons.

As I explained on my last post (March 25th) what Christians call “Passion Week” is almost always the same week as the Jewish feast of Passover. When Jesus shared his last supper with the disciples, it was a Passover Seder, which makes the bread and the cup he took anything but table scraps! Today is the last day of Passover; at sundown this evening, the Feast of Unleavened bread ends for another year.

In my last post, I shared a few of the interesting parallels between the Old Testament and New Testament Passovers, particularly the dates. As promised, today I want to share a little bit about the Passover lamb and Resurrection Sunday.  

Most of us have heard about the over 300 Messianic prophecies Jesus fulfilled. And John the Baptist announced that Jesus was the Lamb of God. In fact, many of the New Testament writers refer to Jesus as the Passover Lamb. I already shared that Jesus rode into Jerusalem and straight to the Temple on the same day Jewish families brought their Passover lambs for inspection and the religious leaders presented the national lamb. As the priest examined Passover lambs for blemish, Jesus presented himself for inspection. Several agreed he was without fault: Pilate, King Herod, Annas, Caiaphas, the centurion, and even the thief hanging on the cross next to him.

In addition to being blemish-free, the Passover lamb was chosen from a specific flock, tied to the altar at a specific time, and sacrificed at a specific time. The lamb was tied to the altar at 9am and six hours later, at 3pm, was sacrificed. These times are specified in the crucifixion accounts…the third hour and the ninth hour. Crucifixions were designed to last for days, yet Jesus only hung on the cross for six hours before he “gave up his spirit.” He literally gave his life at the exact time set aside for the national sacrifice. It is interesting to note that according to Jewish historians, our Christmas shepherds—the ones who were treated to the host of angels—were probably tending Passover flocks.

Probably my favorite parallel between the feast and Christ’s resurrection is the day Jesus rose. The women came to the tomb early on Sunday morning. But it wasn’t just any Sunday morning; it was the Sunday following the first Sabbath following Passover…a day set aside in the Old Testament as the Feast of First Fruits. Just as Passover and the Feast of Unleavened Bread celebrated salvation from the Angel of Death and the pharaoh freeing the people from slavery, First Fruits commemorated another part of the exodus story. On the Sunday following that first Passover, the Israelites found themselves trapped between the pharaoh’s men and the Red Sea. We all know how Moses lifted his staff and parted the water to make a way of escape. On the 17th of Nisan, the Israelites walked into the sea as slaves, and came out free on the other side.

If you go back into Genesis to the story of Noah, you will see that this wasn’t the first time the 17th of Nisan was a day of deliverance. It is the date that the ark came to rest on dry land for the first time (Gen 8:4—the seventh month was later designated as the first month in Ex.12:2). Also on the 17th of Nisan: after wandering in the desert, Israel entered into the Promised Land and ate the first fruits (Joshua 5:10-12), the walls of Jericho came down (Joshua 5:13), and Queen Esther saved the Hebrew people from elimination (Esther 3:12; 5:1).

God made us in His image, and we LOVE to celebrate anniversaries. Apparently, we get that from Him! There are a lot of these anniversaries throughout the Bible, but because most of us are not familiar with the Hebrew calendar, we miss them. I’d love to share them all…I’ll come back later today and post a few more in the comments section. 

8 comments:

  1. The way that God uses Anniversaries sown throughout scripture seems best put this way, “This was the Great Romance. To love at any cost.” ― Ted Dekker

    - Heidi Larson Geis

    ReplyDelete
  2. I found this post fascinating. Thanks for teaching me so much!

    ReplyDelete
  3. Heidi, wonderful, wonderful post. Some of the information I knew, but not about the 17th day of Nisan. That is fascinating. In fact, all of it is! Thanks for sharing.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Wonderful, wonderful detail. Makes me almost see and smell the beauty and fragrance of Israel and want to go again (after recovering from Philippines trip). You've included much good detail I'll spend more time on later.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Roxanne~

    Thank you! I used to teach an adult Sunday School series every year leading up to Easter in which I shared all of the information in these two posts about the Spring Feasts, and more about the crucifixion. I actually have a lot more detail, so it was really hard to pare it down. The Feasts are one of my favorite things to share with people because they are all such a fantastic picture of Christ--his birth, death, resurrection, and second coming.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Pat~

    Isn't the 17th of Nisan thing fascinating?! I'm amazed by all the events that share that day, and other similar anniversaries throughout the Bible. I'm one of those "apologetics" people, so I thrive on anything that helps me even sort of make sense of God. I know that nothing God does is random, but it sure can seem that way sometimes. The fact that He does so many things on anniversaries of other events gives me such a sense of organization. I love it.

    ReplyDelete
  7. Dee!!

    I'm so jealous that you've been to Jerusalem! Someday I will go...hopefully sooner than later, and hopefully at Passover! (The last part of a Passover Seder is to proclaim "Next year in Jerusalem!" Until then, I simply have to rely on my imagination and the descriptions of people who've been...like you!! =)

    ReplyDelete
  8. I have to thank my husband for helping me get this posted...I completely forgot it was my day (I've been a full day behind for a week!) until this morning. I barely had time to write this post before I had to run to an appointment. I left him to format and post what I'd written, including hyperlinks, tagging, and finding/adding a photo...and he's never worked with blogger before in his life. He did amazing, and I am so thankful to him for helping me. He even added his own touch with the Ted Dekker quote in the comments. He's awesome!! Thank you, Craig!

    ReplyDelete