Anchoring the Passover

Posted Apr 28, 2018 by Colin Nicolson in Everlasting Gospel Hits: 271

Notes for first Live Stream Presentation.

You may recall that a few weeks ago Adrian looked at a question that has divided the opinions of Bible students for centuries.  The question is whether the 14th day of the first month fell on Thursday or Friday of the Passion Week.

We firstly looked at Stephen Haskell’s outline of the two views.  Let’s revisit it to set the scene.

Note:-Bible students for centuries have been divided into two classes in regard to their opinion of the time that the Lord ate the last supper with His disciples. One class believe Jesus did not fulfil the type in regard to the time, but only as to the event. They claim that the year Christ died, the 14th day of Nisan, or Passover, came on Thursday; that He was crucified on Friday, the annual sabbath, the 15th day of Nisan; and arose from the dead on the 17th day of Nisan. In support of this position, they quote the following texts: Matt. 26:17; Mark 14:1, 12; Luke 22:7.

The other class believe that, when God decreed certain offerings should be offered on a definite day of the month, the type would meet antitype in that specified time. "These types were fulfilled not only as to the event, but as to the time."-Great Controversy, p. 399. In fulfilment of this Christ was crucified on Friday, the 14th day of Nisan, and died on the cross about the ninth hour-"between the two evenings" at the very time the Passover lamb had been slain for centuries. The previous evening He had eaten the last supper with His disciples. The Saviour rested in the tomb on the Sabbath, the 15th day of Nisan, which had been kept as an annual sabbath in type of this event. "Christ was the antitype of the wave-sheaf, and His resurrection took place on the very day when the wave-sheaf was to be presented before the Lord."-Desire of Ages, large edition, p. 785. This was Sunday, the 16th day of Nisan. In support of this position the following texts are quoted: John 13:1, 2; 18:28; 13:29; 19:31.

I believe we can now add a third class.  This class holds that the first class is correct on the dates, i.e. Passover was on Thursday, 14th, but neither class has grasped the true event that occurred on that day.

This morning, I want to look at whether we can establish an anchor point – an anchor point so firm that it settles the dates of Passion Week without question.

We will start at the beginning by looking at the institution of the Passover for type must prefigure antitype.

Exodus 12:1-9

1   And the LORD spake unto Moses and Aaron in the land of Egypt, saying, 

2   This month [shall be] unto you the beginning of months: it [shall be] the first month of the year to you. 

3   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: 

4   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. 

5   Your lamb shall be without blemish, a male of the first year: ye shall take [it] out from the sheep, or from the goats: 

6   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. 

7   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. 

8   And they shall eat the flesh in that night, roast with fire, and unleavened bread; [and] with bitter [herbs] they shall eat it. 

9   Eat not of it raw, nor sodden at all with water, but roast [with] fire; his head with his legs, and with the purtenance thereof.

Firstly, who is speaking here?  God.  These are God’s words.  These are instructions from God, and therefore they are immutable.  They are unchangeable.

Notice what verse 2 says.

This month [shall be] unto you the beginning of months: it [shall be] the first month of the year to you.

The Hebrew word for “month” is khodesh (Strongs H2320).  According to the Hebrew-Chaldee Lexicon of Dr Wilhelm Gesenius, published in 1833, the meaning is the new moon or the day of the new moon.  Both Strongs and Brown Driver Briggs have similar meanings.  The text can therefore be read as:

This month (i.e. this the day of the new moon) [shall be] unto you the beginning (i.e. head or leader) of months (i.e. new moons): it [shall be] the first month (i.e. new moon) of the year to you.

So we would take from this that God is speaking to Moses and Aaron on the first day of Abib - this the day of the new moon.  What is God doing in this verse?  He is setting, or perhaps resetting, the calendar for Israel.  Israel was probably on the Egyptian calendar in which, it is believed, their year started in mid-July when the star Sirius re-appeared in the sky.

So, having established the commencement of the annual calendar, in verse 2, what does God instruct in verse 3?

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:

So the first thing that had to happen was for a lamb to be taken by each household.  The word translated as take to them is H3947 – law-kakh' has a wide range of meanings including to accept, to receive and to acquire.  This taking or accepting or receiving or acquiring of a lamb was to happen on the tenth day of Abib, the first month.

Now the instructions are clear.  One lamb per house we are told at the end of verse 3 but the lamb could be shared.

4   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. 

And what were they to look for in the lamb?

5   Your lamb shall be without blemish, a male of the first year: ye shall take [it] out from the sheep, or from the goats:

Now it is well recognised that this Paschal lamb (or kid) without blemish, a male of the first year, is Christ in type.  So the lamb without blemish, a male of the first year is the type and Christ is the antitype.

Firstly, let’s look at Scriptural evidence.

1 Corinthians 5:7            

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:

Every lamb chosen to represent Christ had to be without spot or blemish.

1 Peter 1:18, 19

18    Forasmuch as ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, [as] silver and gold, from your vain conversation [received] by tradition from your fathers; 

19    But with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot:

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.  {DA 571.2}

They did not see that Christ was the real Passover lamb, and that, since they had rejected Him, the great feast had for them lost its significance.  {DA 723.2}

The Passover was to be both commemorative and typical, not only pointing back to the deliverance from Egypt, but forward to the greater deliverance which Christ was to accomplish in freeing His people from the bondage of sin. The sacrificial lamb represents "the Lamb of God," in whom is our only hope of salvation. Says the apostle, "Christ our Passover is sacrificed for us." 1 Corinthians 5:7. It was not enough that the paschal lamb be slain; its blood must be sprinkled upon the doorposts; so the merits of Christ's blood must be applied to the soul. We must believe, not only that He died for the world, but that He died for us individually. We must appropriate to ourselves the virtue of the atoning sacrifice.  {PP 277.1}

In the upper chamber of a dwelling at Jerusalem, Christ was sitting at table with His disciples. They had gathered to celebrate the Passover. The Saviour desired to keep this feast alone with the twelve. He knew that His hour was come; He Himself was the true paschal lamb, and on the day the Passover was eaten He was to be sacrificed. He was about to drink the cup of wrath; He must soon receive the final baptism of suffering. But a few quiet hours yet remained to Him, and these were to be spent for the benefit of His beloved disciples.  {DA 642.1}

So it is very clear that this lamb that was without blemish, a male of the first year as God had instructed Moses, represented Christ, the Lamb of God, in type.

Now notice what the last part of Exodus 12:5 says:

…..ye shall take [it] out from the sheep, or from the goats:

The word translated as “take” is the same word used in verse 3.  Gesenius says it means properly “to take with the hands” or “to lay hold of”.

So since the lamb is found in antitype as Christ, and since the “without blemish” is representative of His spotless character, then it must surely be that the taking or accepting or receiving or taking with the hands or laying hold of on the tenth day of the first month must also be found in antitype.

So here is where it gets interesting.  The instruction from God in Exodus 12:3 is to take the lamb on the 10th day of Abib and in verse 6 says it is to be slain on the 14th day of Abib.  Now we know there are two possibilities for which day was the 14th of Abib in Passion Week.  They are Thursday and Friday. 

Let’s look at the Scriptures for each.

Matthew 26:17

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?

Mark 14:12

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?

Luke 22:7, 8

7   Then came the day of unleavened bread, when the passover must be killed

8   And he sent Peter and John, saying, Go and prepare us the passover, that we may eat.

Now remember what Exodus 12:6-8 says:

6   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

7   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. 

8                 And they shall eat the flesh in that night, roast with fire, and unleavened bread; [and] with bitter [herbs] they shall eat it.

Deuteronomy 16:6 says:

But at the place which the LORD thy God shall choose to place his name in, there thou shalt sacrifice the passover at even, at the going down of the sun, at the season that thou camest forth out of Egypt.

The best explanation for the time of this sacrifice or slaying of the lamb is at 3:00pm when the sun begins to most visibly decline from the zenith.

So on the timing given in these texts, it is argued by some that Thursday was the 14th of Abib and the Passover supper was eaten after sunset therefore on the 15th.

If this is the correct date, we should be able to count back to find the 10th day and examine the events of that day to see if there is an antitype of the taking of the lamb.  So counting back four days – Thursday is 14th, Wednesday is 13th, Tuesday is 12th, Monday is 11th, and therefore Sunday is the 10th.

What events happened on the Sunday of Passion Week?

Well that Sunday is not called Palm Sunday because someone thought it was a good idea.  It is called Palm Sunday because of Christ’s triumphal entry into Jerusalem.

Matthew 21:1-11

  1. And when they drew nigh unto Jerusalem, and were come to Bethphage, unto the mount of Olives, then sent Jesus two disciples, 
  2. Saying unto them, Go into the village over against you, and straightway ye shall find an ass tied, and a colt with her: loose [them], and bring [them] unto me. 
  3. And if any [man] say ought unto you, ye shall say, The Lord hath need of them; and straightway he will send them. 
  4. All this was done, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet, saying, 
  5. Tell ye the daughter of Sion, Behold, thy King cometh unto thee, meek, and sitting upon an ass, and a colt the foal of an ass. 
  6. And the disciples went, and did as Jesus commanded them, 
  7. And brought the ass, and the colt, and put on them their clothes, and they set [him] thereon. 
  8. And a very great multitude spread their garments in the way; others cut down branches from the trees, and strowed [them] in the way. 
  9. And the multitudes that went before, and that followed, cried, saying, Hosanna to the son of David: Blessed [is] he that cometh in the name of the Lord; Hosanna in the highest. 
  10. And when he was come into Jerusalem, all the city was moved, saying, Who is this? 
  11. And the multitude said, This is Jesus the prophet of Nazareth of Galilee.

So what do we make of this?  Could this be the antitype of the takin of the lamb?

Let’s have a look at what the Desire of Ages says.

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}

Although I cannot find a clear statement in the Spirit of Prophecy that the triumphal entry is the antitype of the taking of the paschal lamb, the language of this paragraph of Desire of Ages makes it very hard to argue otherwise.  Look at the words.

Never before in His earthly life had Jesus permitted such a demonstration.  Why never before?  The next two sentences tell us why.

He clearly foresaw the result.  It would bring Him to the cross.  This event would bring the antitypical Passover Lamb to His death.  What event brought the typical Passover lamb to its death?  It was taken on the 10th day of Abib.

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.  So here we see at setting apart by Jesus Himself as an offering.  Was the reception?

The multitude hailed Him as Messiah, their King.  Jesus now accepted the homage which He had never before permitted, and the disciples received this as proof that their glad hopes were to be realized by seeing Him established on the throne.  The multitude were convinced that the hour of their emancipation was at hand.  In imagination they saw the Roman armies driven from Jerusalem, and Israel once more an independent nation.  All were happy and excited; the people vied with one another in paying Him homage.  They could not display outward pomp and splendor, but they gave Him the worship of happy hearts.  They were unable to present Him with costly gifts, but they spread their outer garments as a carpet in His path, and they also strewed the leafy branches of the olive and the palm in the way. They could lead the triumphal procession with no royal standards, but they cut down the spreading palm boughs, Nature's emblem of victory, and waved them aloft with loud acclamations and hosannas.  {DA 570.1}

Does this sound like Christ was being received by the multitude?

As they proceeded, the multitude was continually increased by those who had heard of the coming of Jesus and hastened to join the procession.  Spectators were constantly mingling with the throng, and asking, Who is this? What does all this commotion signify?  They had all heard of Jesus, and expected Him to go to Jerusalem; but they knew that He had heretofore discouraged all effort to place Him on the throne, and they were greatly astonished to learn that this was He.  They wondered what could have wrought this change in Him who had declared that His kingdom was not of this world.  {DA 570.2}

This sounds very much like the lamb was being taken, accepted, received by the multitude.  Let’s read on.

Their questionings are silenced by a shout of triumph.  Again and again it is repeated by the eager throng; it is taken up by the people afar off, and echoed from the surrounding hills and valleys.  And now the procession is joined by crowds from Jerusalem.  From the multitudes gathered to attend the Passover, thousands go forth to welcome Jesus. They greet Him with the waving of palm branches and a burst of sacred song. The priests at the temple sound the trumpet for evening service, but there are few to respond, and the rulers say to one another in alarm. "The world is gone after Him."  {DA 571.1}

Was the antitypical paschal lamb accepted by the multitude, albeit they did not understand what they were doing?  Let’s go back to the DA 571 passage I read first and continue with it.

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.

Are there any doubts about whether the triumphal entry was the antitype of the taking of the lamb on the 10th day of Abib?

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

What was the purpose of taking the lamb on the 10th day and keeping it for four days?  Well we see that answer in the antitype.  It directed the attention of the people to the sacrifice.

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}

Isn’t that what the taking of the Passover lamb four days before it was killed intended to do?

Now we come to the elephant in the room.  If Friday is in fact the Passover day, the 14th, then the previous Monday would be the 10th day and so there should be an antitypical taking of the lamb on the Monday.  However, there is no event that can possibly qualify.  In Matthew 21 we read only of the barren fig tree and Jesus teaching in the temple.  He most certainly was not out with the multitudes.  In fact, the Pharisees would have taken their lambs on the Monday, so the typical lambs were taken that day but the antitypical lamb was taken the day before.

So, to me the evidence is very clear.  Palm Sunday, the triumphal entry is the antitype of the taking of the Passover lamb on the 10th day of Abib, in God’s reckoning of time.  That, then, is the anchor for the Passover date of the 14th day being Thursday.  So how do we explain the apparent discrepancy?  Last time we looked at Luke 22:53.

When I was daily with you in the temple, ye stretched forth no hands against me: but this is your hour, and the power of darkness.

In the spiritual sense, Christ was slain on the Thursday for that was when the Spirit of His Father was beginning to be withdrawn, so He was a dead man walking and He knew it.  Also because He had been rejected by the leadership and soon by the people also, and because the disciples were fighting over who was going to be the greatest in the kingdom, His flesh was not eaten and His blood not drunk, in the spiritual sense, on the Thursday night therefore it meant that there was left over the next day and Exodus 12:10 says:

And ye shall let nothing of it remain until the morning; and that which remaineth of it until the morning ye shall burn with fire.

So, do we have a divine pattern, where the invisible spiritual event manifested visibly when the Jews and the powers of darkness had their hour and that which remained in the morning was destroyed man’s way and buried out of sight by the end of the day?

I want to leave you with that thought and urge more study on this topic.