The Godly Legacy of Passover, Part II

This is the second in a two part series on why Christians should celebrate the feasts of Passover, Unleavened Bread, and First Fruits.

"The Chief Priests Ask Jesus by What Right Does He Act in This Way" James Tissot
“The Chief Priests Ask Jesus by What Right Does He Act in This Way”
James Tissot

The Real Passover Timeline

Christian tradition says Jesus was crucified on Good Friday and rose from the grave on Easter Sunday.  However, that is not quite right.  Jesus Himself explained that He had to be three days and three nights in the grave, according to the sign of Jonah which He gave to the scribes and Pharisees in Matthew 12:38-42 and Luke 11:29-32.  Here is how that worked:

  • Triumphal Entry and Examinations (Friday-Tuesday).  Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem was on the 10th day of Nisan (John 12:1, 12-16), the day the Passover Lamb is presented (Exodus 12:3).  That corresponded to our Friday.  Specifically, according to John 12:1, Jesus arrived at Bethany six days before Passover to stay with Lazarus, Mary, and Martha.  The next day, five days before Passover, He entered Jerusalem to the acclaim of the people, on the same day that the Passover lamb was presented at the Temple.  Even as that lamb was to be examined over the next four days to ensure it was without defect (Exodus 12:3-6), so, too, was Jesus was examined by every element of society:

In each case, Jesus passed the test and was found without fault.

  • Passover Celebration (Tuesday Night).  Jesus ate the Passover with His disciples on the evening of the 14th day of Nisan, which corresponds to our Tuesday evening (Matthew 26:17-18; Mark 14:12-16; Luke 22:7-13).  Do not be confused by the fact that Matthew, Mark, and Luke say, “on the first day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread”.  In Jesus’ day, the three feasts of the Passover season were all lumped together and called “Unleavened Bread”, even as in our day they are all lumped together and called “Passover”.
  • Arrest and Trial (Tuesday Night-Wednesday Morning).  Jesus’ arrest and trial before the Sanhedrin happened the night of Passover.  It was there that the final examination happened and Jesus was declared acceptable by the High Priest (Matthew 26:57-67; Mark 14:53-65; Luke 22:66-71.  Of course, High Priest Caiaphas did not know exactly what he was doing, but his acceptance of Jesus’ testimony that He was Messiah was the reason he sent Jesus to Pilate to be executed (John 11:49-52).
  • Execution (Wednesday Afternoon).  Jesus was tried before Pilate the following morning, our Wednesday, and crucified that day at noon (the sixth hour) (Matthew 27:1; Mark 15:1-3; Luke 23:1-5; John 18:28, 19:14).  Jesus died at 3:00 p.m. (the ninth hour), just as they were sacrificing the Passover lamb in the Temple (Matthew 27:45-50; Mark 15:33-37; Luke 23:44-45).
  • First Day in the Grave (Wednesday Evening-Thursday Evening).  Since it was the Preparation Day for the Feast of Unleavened Bread (Mark 15:42-47; Luke 23:50-56; John 19:14), Jesus and the thieves who were crucified with Him had to be dead and removed from the cross by sundown (John 19:31-41).  God specified in His word that the first day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread was a Sabbath, and therefore everyone had to rest on that day (Leviticus 23:7).  Thus it was the first day of Unleavened Bread which was the Great Sabbath when Jesus spent His first day in the grave.  That corresponded to our Thursday.
  • Second Day in the Grave (Thursday Evening-Friday Evening).  On what we call Good Friday, the Sabbath of that first day of Unleavened Bread was over, so normal work could be done.  That’s when the chief priests and Pharisees asked Pilate for a guard to watch Jesus’ tomb (Matthew 27:62-65), and when the women bought spices and made preparations to anoint Jesus’ body properly for burial (Mark 16:1; Luke 23:55-56).
  • Third Day in the Grave (Friday Evening-Saturday Evening).  Jesus remained in the grave through the day we know as Saturday, which was His third day there.  That was a normal weekly Sabbath, and on that day the women rested from their work of buying and preparing the spices (Luke 23:56).
  • "The Incredulity of Saint Thomas" Michelangelo Merisi o Amerighi da Caravaggio
    “The Incredulity of Saint Thomas”
    Michelangelo Merisi o Amerighi da Caravaggio

    Resurrection (Sunday).  At some point after sundown on Saturday, Jesus rose from the grave.  Any point after sundown would be the beginning of the first day of the week, which was the Feast of First Fruits.  It was on the morning of that day, which we call Sunday, that the women came to the tomb and found an empty grave (Matthew 28:1-8; Mark 16:1-11; Luke 24:1-12; John 20:1-2).

What About Easter?

The feasts of Passover, Unleavened Bread, and First Fruits do not correspond to the traditional Christian observance of Easter.  Easter is a pagan celebration named for Ishtar, Babylonian goddess of fertility.  She is also called the Queen of Heaven, and is known by many other names, including Asherah.  There is much documentation of this, but here are some web sites with further explanations and links:

Easter does not even occur at the same time as Passover, except by accident.  It is timed to occur in conjunction with the Vernal Equinox, signifying the beginning of spring and thus the return of the earth’s fertility.  The reason Christians now celebrate Easter instead of Passover is not because God commanded this change, but because the Roman Catholic Church mandated the change when the Emperor Constantine established Christianity as the religion of Rome.  In that way the pagans of Rome could retain their pagan ways and still satisfy the requirements of being nominal Christians.

The symbols of Easter are likewise associated with fertility rites, not with the resurrection of God’s Son.  Easter eggs are fertility symbols given as offerings to Ishtar.  As for Easter bunnies, who can deny that rabbits are particularly meaningful as fertility symbols?  However, originally the animal revered in these rites was the hare, a creature that not only reproduced rapidly, but also was associated with familiar spirits and occult practices.

God specifically banned the worship of Asherah and other false gods, calling it evil (Judges 3:7), and cited many instances when the people of Israel and Judah defiled themselves with Asherah worship (I Kings 15:13, 18:19; II Kings 21:7, 23:4; II Chronicles 15:16; Jeremiah 7:18, 44:15-29).

But does Easter, as Christians observe it, really constitute pagan idolatry?  Ask the Lord what He thinks.  Consider this:  parents do not want their children to hang out with friends who drink, smoke, use drugs, and engage in other harmful behavior.  Why?  Obviously it is because they want to protect their children from such practices, but there is another reason as well:  they want to protect their children’s reputation, which would be in danger if they associate with such people.  All of us at one time or another have been accused of wrongdoing, not because we were actually committing mischief, but because we were in “the wrong crowd”.  It is the same in Christian association with pagan rites, and that is why Paul says:

“Do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers.  For what fellowship has righteousness with lawlessness?  And what communion has light with darkness?  And what accord has Christ with Belial?  Or what part has a believer with an unbeliever?  And what agreement has the temple of God with idols?  For you are the temple of the living God.  As God has said:  “I will dwell in them and walk among them.  I will be their God, and they shall be My people.”  Therefore “Come out from among them and be separate, says the Lord.  Do not touch what is unclean, and I will receive you.  I will be a Father to you, and you shall be My sons and daughters, says the Lord Almighty.”  (II Corinthians 6:14-18 NKJV)

The Conclusion of the Matter

Those who are serious about following the example of their Lord Jesus should consider this information prayerfully.  The great question is this:  Should the people of God continue to regard this substitute Christianized pagan celebration, or should they observe the appointed time that God Himself established and which His Son sanctified with His own blood?  It is a matter of choosing between the real and the counterfeit.

In all our consideration, the one thing we should not do is condemn our fathers and mothers.  Satan has conspired for centuries to rob us of the rich heritage God gives us through His Passover.  Let us not pass judgment on those who, being deceived themselves, followed the traditions of men out of ignorance.  If God is indeed calling His people even now to come out of these traditions and embrace His truth, then we should repent on behalf of our ancestors and ask His grace to walk in truth from this moment onward.

Please click here to return to Part I.

© Albert J. McCarn and The Barking Fox Blog, 2014.  Permission to use and/or duplicate original material on The Barking Fox Blog is granted, provided that full and clear credit is given to Albert J. McCarn and The Barking Fox Blog with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Author: Albert J. McCarn

I am a lifelong disciple of Jesus (Yeshua) of Nazareth, an avid student of the Bible, a devoted husband and father, a 29-year veteran of the United States Army, and a historian who connects people with their own stories.

3 thoughts on “The Godly Legacy of Passover, Part II”

  1. Are there other verses which talk about not mixing pagan practices with the Holy thing of the Lord. ?


    1. Yes there are! The command is clear in Deuteronomy 12, which ends like this:

      “When the Lord your God cuts off from before you the nations which you go to dispossess, and you displace them and dwell in their land, take heed to yourself that you are not ensnared to follow them, after they are destroyed from before you, and that you do not inquire after their gods, saying, ‘How did these nations serve their gods? I also will do likewise.’ You shall not worship the Lord your God in that way; for every abomination to the Lord which He hates they have done to their gods; for they burn even their sons and daughters in the fire to their gods. Whatever I command you, be careful to observe it; you shall not add to it nor take away from it.” (Deuteronomy 12:29-32)

      Then there’s this instruction to Aaron and the priests:

      Then the Lord spoke to Aaron, saying: “Do not drink wine or intoxicating drink, you, nor your sons with you, when you go into the tabernacle of meeting, lest you die. It shall be a statute forever throughout your generations, that you may distinguish between holy and unholy, and between unclean and clean, and that you may teach the children of Israel all the statutes which the Lord has spoken to them by the hand of Moses.” (Leviticus 10:8-11)

      This word of the Lord was especially pertinent since it came immediately after Aaron’s oldest sons, Nadab and Abihu, got killed for offering unholy incense in the Presence of the Lord in direct violation of His specific instructions.

      Ezekiel has much to say on the subject in the context of explaining why the Lord had to bring judgment on Israel and Judah. Here’s one of the places:

      And the word of the Lord came to me, saying, “Son of man, say to her: ‘You are a land that is not cleansed or rained on in the day of indignation.’ The conspiracy of her prophets in her midst is like a roaring lion tearing the prey; they have devoured people; they have taken treasure and precious things; they have made many widows in her midst. Her priests have violated My law and profaned My holy things; they have not distinguished between the holy and unholy, nor have they made known the difference between the unclean and the clean; and they have hidden their eyes from My Sabbaths, so that I am profaned among them. Her princes in her midst are like wolves tearing the prey, to shed blood, to destroy people, and to get dishonest gain. Her prophets plastered them with untempered mortar, seeing false visions, and divining lies for them, saying, ‘Thus says the Lord God,’ when the Lord had not spoken. The people of the land have used oppressions, committed robbery, and mistreated the poor and needy; and they wrongfully oppress the stranger. So I sought for a man among them who would make a wall, and stand in the gap before Me on behalf of the land, that I should not destroy it; but I found no one. Therefore I have poured out My indignation on them; I have consumed them with the fire of My wrath; and I have recompensed their deeds on their own heads,” says the Lord God. (Ezekiel 22:23-31)

      Interestingly, one of the key verses cited by intercessors is 22:30, about the Lord seeking someone to stand in the gap for the nation. What gets overlooked is that He is looking for such a person because the nation has lost the ability and willingness to distinguish between the holy and the profane. Ezekiel goes on to say this about the priesthood in the Millennial Kingdom of Messiah:

      “And they shall teach My people the difference between the holy and the unholy, and cause them to discern between the unclean and the clean. In controversy they shall stand as judges, and judge it according to My judgments. They shall keep My laws and My statutes in all My appointed meetings, and they shall hallow My Sabbaths.” (Ezekiel 44:23-24)

      This brings up a very crucial point that also gets overlooked in Christian teaching: In the Millennium we will be keeping the Law of God – all His Feast Days, Sabbaths, statutes, ordinances, commandments, and judgments. If that is the case when Messiah is reigning from Jerusalem after His return, maybe we should start learning and practicing these things now.

      There is still more. The Lord directed Haggai to discuss this issue of holy and unholy, clean and unclean, with the priests of his day:

      On the twenty-fourth day of the ninth month, in the second year of Darius, the word of the Lord came by Haggai the prophet, saying, “Thus says the Lord of hosts: ‘Now, ask the priests concerning the law, saying, “If one carries holy meat in the fold of his garment, and with the edge he touches bread or stew, wine or oil, or any food, will it become holy?”’” Then the priests answered and said, “No.” And Haggai said, “If one who is unclean because of a dead body touches any of these, will it be unclean?” So the priests answered and said, “It shall be unclean.” Then Haggai answered and said, “‘So is this people, and so is this nation before Me,’ says the Lord, ‘and so is every work of their hands; and what they offer there is unclean. (Haggai 2:10-14)

      If something is holy it is separated to the Lord for His purposes. It must be clean to be holy, meaning without defilement. Therefore anything which is clean (undefiled) for the purpose of bringing it to the Lord becomes unclean (defiled) when it comes into contact with something unclean. Haggai makes the specific point that this is not just about things, but about people and their practices.

      There is much more in the Tanakh that articulates this principle of keeping the holy things holy, and sadly that principle doesn’t seem to carry weight in much Christian practice and teaching right now. For some reason, the “Old Testament” doesn’t seem to be as important or applicable to Believers in Jesus since those principles and practices seemingly applied only to Israel or the Jews in ancient times. (At least that’s how the common position seems to be articulated according to my experience.) So how about these examples from the Brit Chadashah (“New Testament”):

      So they came to Jerusalem. Then Jesus went into the temple and began to drive out those who bought and sold in the temple, and overturned the tables of the money changers and the seats of those who sold doves. And He would not allow anyone to carry wares through the temple. Then He taught, saying to them, “Is it not written, ‘My house shall be called a house of prayer for all nations’? But you have made it a ‘den of thieves.’” (Mark 11:10-17)

      Yeshua (Jesus) seems to be making a distinction between the holy and the unholy right there in the Temple. Although the merchants and money changers were doing nothing overtly illegal or wrong, they were doing it in the wrong place, and they were doing it in such a way as to prevent people from drawing near into the Presence of the Lord. This is a concrete example of how religious practice can put obstacles in the way of godliness.

      But then, some might say that is just about the Temple and Jewish practices, and that since the Cross those things no longer apply. If so, why did Paul write this:

      “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.” (Romans 12:1-2)

      “All things are lawful for me, but all things are not helpful. All things are lawful for me, but I will not be brought under the power of any. Foods for the stomach and the stomach for foods, but God will destroy both it and them. Now the body is not for sexual immorality but for the Lord, and the Lord for the body. And God both raised up the Lord and will also raise us up by His power. Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ? Shall I then take the members of Christ and make them members of a harlot? Certainly not! Or do you not know that he who is joined to a harlot is one body with her? For ‘the two,’ He says, ‘shall become one flesh.’ But he who is joined to the Lord is one spirit with Him. Flee sexual immorality. Every sin that a man does is outside the body, but he who commits sexual immorality sins against his own body. Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own? For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s.” (I Corinthians 6:12-20)

      Apparently Paul thought enough of the Temple and the services within it to use those things as an example to the assemblies of Believers in Rome and Corinth. Moreover, he is invoking a consistent metaphoric picture from Moses and the Prophets of God’s people being like prostitutes (harlots) when they engage in practices of worship to false gods. If may have seemed harmless to those people way back then to accompany a friend to burn incense at the altar of Molech, but just check and see what God said about that sort of thing. Then consider what God thinks when we do things like visit a Buddhist temple and burn some incense or throw a coin in the offering box. Are these “Old Testament” principles and practices abstract things that no longer apply to us? Certainly not! How else are we to know the definitions of holy and unholy, clean and unclean, if we don’t study what Moses and the Prophets wrote? That’s where the instruction is written (see John 5:46-47). If we don’t know the instruction, then we risk inadvertently mixing the holy things of the Lord with the unholy things of this world. Of course there is grace extended to us when we do this ignorantly, but our loving Father most definitely doesn’t intend for us to remain in ignorance. That’s why His apostle wrote, “Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.” (II Timothy 2:15)

      I could go on, but hopefully you get the point. I will close with two more “Old Testament” examples. The first comes from I Kings 12:25-33, which relates how Jeroboam, the first king of the Northern Kingdom of Israel, set up temples in Dan and Bethel to rival the Temple in Jerusalem. His substitute religious system was something that resembled the ways of God, and in fact was done in the Name of YHVH, but was done with use of pagan practices which God had forbidden. God judged Jeroboam, his household, and all Israel for that very practice of mixing the holy with the profane and thus disregarding His commandments (see II Kings 17). The second example is from Judah during the reign of King Josiah. II Kings 22 and 23 tell of the revival that happened in Josiah’s day and how he ordered the cleansing of the Temple. Take a look at II Kings 23:3-9 and see what nasty things and people Josiah removed from the Temple where God had put His Holy Name. When you read that, remember what Paul said about our bodies being the Temple of the Holy Spirit. The lesson of Josiah in the natural informs our present reality in the spiritual. If Holy God judged the people of Israel and Judah because could not be bothered by keeping God’s instructions on separating holy and unholy, why should we expect any different? After all, we now have the Holy Spirit to instruct us in these things, so we should be getting progressively MORE holy in our thoughts, words, and deeds as we learn and live out His holy standards.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Thank you for taking the time to clarify and confirm. Isn’t it amazing how much God has to say about the mixing of Holy and unholy? It really does offend Him even when we really do worship Him, but don’t do it in the ways He clearly specifies in His Word. What a process….#takesalifetime.


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