What occurred on Aviv 14 in Egypt was that the Pesach Lamb was slaughtered and its blood was brushed on the doorways of homes. It was the day the “protective sacrifice” of the lamb, as ordered by God, took place. But, it was not until after dark — when the day changed to Aviv 15 — that late at night (around midnight), the Lord passed through Egypt killing all unprotected firstborns, whether the first born was Egyptian or Hebrew or some other nationality that happened to be visiting Egypt at the time. If the door post was not covered in the blood of the protective sacrifice . . . death came on the house.
This is also brought forward to the sacrifice of Jesus. The “protective sacrifice” in the Egyptian story is a sign regarding the final “protective sacrifice”: Yeshua, YHWH’s first born. If you are not covered by the blood of the protective sacrifice, you will experience the judgment.
So Pesach, which is only the protective sacrifice of the lambs, happened on Aviv 14, but the Lord did not pass over the protected Hebrew firstborn until the first hours of the next day, Aviv 15. Then when night turned into daytime (still the same day) the Hebrews left Egypt and that is the day celebrated as the first day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread.
Now, how this ties into the story of Jesus’ death, the first day of Matza was a festival Sabbath day! That’s right, Friday Aviv 15th was a Sabbath day, but it was a festival Sabbath day. It had some of the same requirements as the 7th Day Sabbath, especially when it came to handling a dead body. Handling a day body was prohibited on any kind of Sabbath. That is why the Gospels tells us that there was a frenzy to get Jesus buried before dark, once the day changed from Pesach (a regular day) to the 1st day of Matza, they could not handle a dead body.
Aviv 15th was an uneventful day; it was Friday, the festival Sabbath signifying the beginning of Matza. The day ends at sundown and becomes Saturday, Aviv 16th. This is the regular weekly 7th day Sabbath. For the past several centuries First Fruits has been celebrated on Aviv 16th (as a permanent tradition), in fact, it was only the Rabbis (who were Pharisees) who long ago ordered it done this way, as opposed to the way it was done in Jesus’ day. And, this change occurred after the Temple was destroyed in 70 A.D. when the priesthood became defunct. Remember, the Sadducees were the High Priests, so with the end of the Temple and the priesthood — the Sadducees — lost much of their control over the issue of rituals and traditions. Now, the Pharisees got their way and they decided that rather than First Fruits moving around on the calendar, it would always be on Aviv 16th that First Fruits would be celebrated.
I want you to catch the significance of this: Jesus, the True High Priest, was sacrificed and resurrected, so the office of a Priest — let alone a High Priest — had ended. How you ask? By allowing the enemies of Israel to destroy the Temple. Since the Temple was gone, and they only purpose of the priests was to minister in the temple, there was no need for the priests or the High Priest on earth. As we understand, Jesus became the High Priest!
Let me say again: in Jesus’ day, First Fruits was the day after the 7th day Sabbath no matter what the calendar date. So in Jesus’ era, First Fruits was always the first day of the week (Sunday in our modern terminology).
Notice that according to this timeline, Yeshua has been in the tomb for 3-days and 3-nights exactly as the prophecy of Jonah in the belly of the great fish explained. I hope that you can see this is not at all straightforward and that if a scholar is not familiar Torah and to a degree Jewish Tradition, there is no way he can understand how the passion week of Jesus’ death played out. After all, the New Testament was written by Jews who presumed that anyone reading these documents would be familiar with the Jewish customs and their nuances and the political circumstances of that day, so they never considered any need to explain all this.
But most importantly in all this, is the significance of all festivals: The entire sequence of his death, burial and resurrection occurred precisely and exactly on the appropriate Biblical Feast days. On Thursday, they celebrated Pesach, or The Feast of Passover, which speaks of redemption. Our Messiah, our Passover Lamb, was slain for us and his blood atones for our sins occurred precisely on Pesach! Then, on Friday, or Matza, the Feast of Unleavened Bread, is about sanctification. The ordinance against the use of leavening is Biblically symbolic of the absence of sin, and the absence of decay and corruption. As we know, Christ’s sinless body was put into the tomb and it did not decay. Then on Sunday, Bikkurim, the Feast of Firstfruits, was celebrated, and it speaks of firstlings — the first of things which always belongs to God.
In the work of Messiah, it is about the resurrection; our Messiah is called the firstfruits of the resurrection from the dead; Yeshua was the first man to be resurrected from the dead, but far into the future, other men — you and me — will also be resurrected.
Hang with me, because the story does not end here! 50-days later, on the Feast of Shavuot (what we know as Pentecost), the Lord sent His Holy Spirit to dwell within men. The Lord harvested His Believers. They were his, they were put away for safekeeping, where no one and nothing could ever forcefully take them, us, away from Him. But, there is more harvesting to come!
Let me give you a little understanding of what I am referring to. You see, originally, the High Holy Days of the Feast of Trumpets and Yom Kippur represented Yeshua HaMashiach coming for the second time — this time in great power and glory, bringing the world to its knees, cutting down the evil and laying low those who were rebelling.
The Feast of Tabernacles, or more appropriately as it is also known, the Feast of Ingathering, is the entry into the 1000-Year Reign of Christ — the Millennium. I am not going into all the details right now, but I will point out the amazing parallels between the focal point and grand finale of the Feast of Sukkot: the Water Libation ceremony at the Altar of Burnt Offering.
When there was a Temple, one of the highlights . . . perhaps the most mesmerizing and awesome part of the daily Sukkot ritual . . . was the water libation ceremony. This is probably one of the most significant events.
The libation ceremony is called in Hebrew necek. This libation offering usually consists of water or wine or both. The one for Sukkot is a water libation. And, without going into all the detail of the actual ritual, let me just say that water is put in a golden pitcher, and then it is poured out by a priest at the Temple, each day of Sukkot.
What is the significance? Simple, really. Remembering that all these feasts are agricultural-based and that the Feast of Tabernacles, Succoth, occurs at the FINAL harvest of the season before new crops are planted, the water libation is connected with the plea to Yahweh for rain.
As very little is said in the Torah of just HOW the water libation ritual was to be accomplished, traditions were developed; and, of course, these traditions changed over time.
In general, it operated like this: the High Priest would take that golden pitcher, go outside the city walls and down to the Pool of Siloam and fill it with about a liter of water. In the meantime, some other priests went to another pool of water where willows grew; they gathered the willows and laid these long willow branches against the sides of the Great Altar of Burnt Offering, such that they extended above the platform and formed kind of a canopy.
The High Priest would then walk in holy procession to a special gate in the thick walls that protected and surrounded the Holy City: the Watergate (it got its name because of this exact ceremony). He would wait there until some Levite musicians sounded three loud trumpet blasts, and then he would go to the Great Altar, and in front of large crowds pour the water out while saying in a loud voice: “Therefore, with joy you will draw water from the wells of salvation” (Isaiah 12:3). As the High Priest was pouring the water out of his pitcher, another priest poured wine out of a similar pitcher; when that was done, music was played by the Levites and then the crowd would recite one of the Hallel portions, Psalm 118:25: “Save now, I pray, O Lord; O Lord, I pray, send now prosperity.” This song was called the Hosanna (Hoshanah). During this song, scores of priests would march around waving palm branches.
The last day of the Feast of Tabernacles is like the grand finale. Tradition even gave that last day a special name: Hoshana Rabbah. On that last day, all the rituals were even grander, and the people even more expectant. On all other days of the feast, the High Priest came through the Watergate with his golden vessel full of water, taken from the Pool of Siloam, and his signal to walk through the gate was the sound of 3 trumpet blasts.
But on the last day of Sukkot, the Levites blew seven trumpet blasts and then repeated it three times. The crowds waited in great anticipation of this moment, in which the feast was drawn to a close. The High Priest then solemnly proceeded up the several steps to the Altar and waited until the crowd quieted and gave him all their attention. Then, with great drama, he lifted the water libation vessel and poured out its contents for the last time . . . not to be done again until next year.
The water libation ceremony was THE highlight of Sukkot. The FINAL day’s libation ceremony was like when the fireworks end the day at Disney . . . the best was saved for last. It was during the moment of the final day’s water libation< ceremony, that we read of Yeshua shouting this out to the thousands who were standing, smashed together in silence, staring in awe as the High Priest held that shiny gold vessel shoulder high and away from his body, and then tipped it ever so slightly so as to allow the water to pour slowly and with great drama. And, in John 7 we are told that at that very moment Jesus turned and shouted this to the multitude: “If any man is thirsty, let him come to ME and drink.”
It is amazing they didn’t kill him right there on the spot. Just think about the words the High Priest had just spoken: “Therefore with joy you will draw water from the wells of salvation”, to which Jesus responds, “if any man is thirsty, let him come to ME and drink.” He pronounced Himself to be that well of salvation, and the people and the priests knew that was exactly what He meant.
When the water is poured out from that Golden Pitcher while the people of Jerusalem are singing in unison, “God save us now!” And the twenty-one trumpet blasts represent the 3 series of 7 final judgments that will be rained down on the world in man’s final hours. After these 21 judgments, it is finished. The history of man as we know it . . . is over. Yeshua HaMashiach is now in total control of a world without even one single rebel; not one single person is alive who doesn’t know the Lord and bow down to Him. And that is the way it will remain for 1000 years.
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