Saturday, April 8, 2017

Daily Bible Reading - April 8, 2017

Today's Reading:

Matthew 28

Deuteronomy 9-10

Job 8

Listen to the Bible







Thoughts and Commentary on Today's Reading:

Matthew 28:1 is quite an amazing verse. It gives us a powerful key to finding the timing of the Resurrection. Many have assumed that Christ was raised on Sunday morning, following His Friday Crucifixion. This is the commonly held
belief. And it is because folks believe that Christ raised on Sunday morning that keeping Sunday as a holy day appears justifiable. But according to Matthew 28:1, Christ didn't raise on Sunday morning. The Resurrection took place just before the sun set on Saturday - known as the Sabbath

For most of us, we have observed days and nights changing at midnight for all of our lives.  It is difficult, for some, impossible, to think in any other reference. To the Hebrew mind, however, a day was made up of “evening and morning,” (Genesis 1:5, 1:8, 1:13) not morning, noon, and night, as is now regarded in the progression of a day. 

The devout Jews in the first century began their days at sunset. Their calendar was based upon the movements of the heavenly bodies, in which the first day of a new month began with the sighting of a new crescent moon just after sunset. Calendar modifications had been made since the days of Jeroboam [“Calendar Reform under Jeroboam,” in King, Cult, and Calendar in Ancient Israel, Jerusalem:  Magnes Press, 1986.]  None of the calendar changes altered the evening-morning reckoning, however.  The Jews in Christ’s day kept Sabbaths from sundown to sundown, just as they do today.
"From evening to evening, you shall celebrate your Sabbaths," Leviticus 23:32.

The word  “dawn” in the phrase, “as it began to dawn toward the first day of the week, “ is found in only two places:  Matthew 28:1 and Luke 23:54. The Greek word usage in each of these texts is slightly different from the other. The number in Strong’s Concordance for “dawn” is #2020.  Dr. Spiros Zodhiates in The Complete Word Study Dictionary: New Testament, has this to say about the meaning of the word for “dawn”:

Upon or besides, denoting accession, coming or drawing toward... In Luke 23:54 the verb has the meaning to draw near, as the  Jewish Sabbath which began in the evening (Leviticus 23:32 [cf. John 19:31 with Deuteronomy21:22-23]) To dawn as the daylight, to grow toward daylight (Matthew 28:1).  In the evening of the Sabbath when the Jewish day was drawing on towards the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went (or better, set out)... (page 644).

Here, by inference, Zodhiates suggests that Mary Magdalene and other womenhe admits that the “dawn” refers to the approach of a new day, in order to preserve the traditional Easter Sunday resurrection, he interrupts Mary’s trek to the sepulcher with the great earthquake. He believes it must have delayed her arrival until the daylight was approaching. This would harmonize the Matthew 28:1 reference to “dawn” with traditional beliefs of a pre-sunrise resurrection.
went to the tomb as soon as the sun went down that Sabbath. Although

In the end of the Sabbath, as it began to dawn toward the first day of the week, came Mary Magdalene and the other Mary to see the sepulcher. (Matthew. 28:1)

In this scenario, Mary, and perhaps the other women, would have been out all night.  They would have left their houses as soon as the sun went down, but mysteriously not arrive at the sepulcher until just before dawn of Sunday morning.

There are other possibilities, however. Take a closer look at each of the two Scriptures carefully.  Matthew 28:1, the first of the two, reads:

In the end of the Sabbath, as it began to dawn toward the first day of the week, came Mary Magdalene and the other Mary to see the sepulcher.

The second text, Luke 23:54 reads:

And that day was the preparation, and the Sabbath drew    

The word "dawn" from Matthew 28:1 and the words "drew on" from Luke 23:54 are translated from the same original Greek word: epiphosko. But notice that the word “dawn” does not appear in Luke 23:54. Instead, in the English translation, epiphosko, has been rendered “drew on.”  According to The New Strong’s Complete Dictionary of Bible Words, epiphosko, (#2020), means “to begin to grow light, to begin to dawn, and draw on.”

Clearly, epiphosko, like many English words, has more than one meaning:

                   1)   To approach, or draw on, as when the sun goes down.
2)      To begin to show light, as in the early morning.

Here are all of the entries in the Strong’s Concordance for the word “Dawn”:

Matthew 28:1 – In the end of the sabbath, as it began to dawn toward the first day
of the week, came Mary Magdalene and the other Mary to see the sepulcher. (Vs. 2) And, behold there was a great earthquake… [Dawn - #2020 - epiphosko]
There is another scripture which uses the word epiphosko, but it is not translated “dawn.”  Instead, it is rendered “drew,” which is also accurate, since epiphosko means, “to begin, or to draw on.”  That text is found in Luke 23:54, and reads:

And that day was the preparation, and the Sabbath drew on.  [drew - #2020, to begin, or begin to dawn toward].

According to the Scriptures, we can see that the timing of Christ's Resurrection is focused on the sundown at the end of the seventh-day Sabbath. We can see this clearly because the Sabbath "draws on" or "approaches" when the day nears sunset on Friday. 

But there's another interesting detail to pay attention to. According to Matthew 28:1, the ending of the Sabbath coincides with the beginning of the first day of the week.

In the end of the Sabbath, as it began to dawn toward the first day of the week, came Mary Magdalene and the other Mary to see the sepulcher.

One cannot say that the next day is “approaching,” if the “approaching” happened in the morning and the previous day ended at the evening, as we read in Matthew 28:1. There are eight or nine hours of nighttime between the evening and the morning.  If one uses Bible reckoning, there will be no controversy, however.  The approaching of one day is the same as the receding of the day before it.  Thus, as Friday is receding into the dusk, Sabbath is approaching, dawning, drawing nigh. When the sun disappears over the horizon, Friday ends and Sabbath begins.

Similarly, when Sabbath is approaching to the time of sunset, Sabbath is ending and the first day of the week is beginning.

But, if Christ didn't resurrect on Easter Sunday (and He didn't), it throws the whole Good Friday to Easter Sunday model into question...  Let's take a closer look at the Passover and timing of Christ's Death.

The Passover itself was not a holy day.  It was called a “preparation day,” for it was the day the house was cleansed of all leaven, and the Passover lamb was prepared for the evening meal. The whole day’s events commemorated deliverance: historically, deliverance from Egypt, and, symbolically, deliverance from sin.  Regardless of the day of the week on which the 14th of Nisan (Abib) fell that year, it would be regarded as “Preparation Day” for the annual Sabbath coming the next day. 

The first day of the Week of Unleavened Bread was  a annual Sabbath, a High Sabbath. If the 14th of Nisan (Passover) fell on the Seventh day of the week, the weekly preparation day (Friday) served as preparation time for both the weekly and the annual Sabbaths, bringing the Passover meal an evening earlier. 

Let us then follow the record of events as we consider the possibilities and probabilities in this constricted time frame. Without telephones, automobiles, or computers, we now take for granted to speed travel and communication, it would be virtually impossible to accomplish so much in so little time.
Certainly, we would not suppose that Joseph of Arimathea, who went secretly to Pilate to beg for the body of Christ, did so during the trial. The followers of Christ were completely overcome with horror that the One who had, just a few days before, ridden into Jerusalem amid shouts of “Hosanna to the son of David!” was now facing torture and death.  They could not be shopping and arranging connections for smooth and expedient transitions during the trial! 

Furthermore, Christ’s followers had seen Him heal the sick and raise the dead. Surely, had we been there, we would have hoped with them that He would come down from the cross in power and glory.  His friends must have clung to that prayer while He hung there dying.  Sometime after He was placed on the cross, and when all hope for the Glorious Kingdom had perished in the hearts of His faithful friends, Joseph of Arimathea sneaked into Pilate’s palace for a quick, private interview.  He wanted permission to take the body of Yeshua and give it a proper burial. This took time to elbow his way through throngs of people, make contacts, get papers, and walk back up Golgotha.  Remember, there were no phones, no e-mail, no fax machines, no rapid transit through the crowded city streets.

This was Friday afternoon (according to the traditional view) and it was getting late when “Plan B for Burial” went into the mental machinery.  Everyone in Jerusalem knew the urgency of the situation. Deuteronomy 21:22, 23 was now in play:

And if a man has committed a sin worthy of death and he be to be put to death, and thou hang him on a tree:  His body shall not remain all night upon the tree, but thou shalt in any wise bury him that day; (for he that is hanged is accursed of God); that thy land be not defiled, which the LORD thy God giveth thee for an inheritance. 

In addition to the above statute, there would have been a Sabbath day approaching, and all issues, regardless of complexity, must be resolved before the Sabbath began.

Joseph finally gained an audience with Pilate (I can’t imagine that Pilate wanted to see anyone after his wife’s dream and rebuke, plus his own growing inner torment!).  How much time must that have taken? One hour? More? Then he bought new linen after Christ had expired (Mark 15:44, 46) and met  Nicodemus, who accompanied him up Golgotha to take down the body. Stores close in all Jewish communities at least one hour before sundown.  He must have hailed a shopkeeper as the “Closed” sign was being placed in the window. 

Joseph and Nicodemus arrived at Golgotha just as the centurion ordered the soldiers to hasten the death of the three on the stakes. Joseph had known The Lamb of God was already dead. The sun was going down on that Preparation Day; the Sabbath would soon begin.

The body was prepared in a hurry.  The women volunteered to do a better job later. Certainly, the sun must have been lingering on the edge of the distant hills when they laid the body in Joseph’s new tomb.  Fortunately, the tomb was not far from the crucifixion site.

The sad followers of Christ kept that Sabbath.  So, when could the women buy the spices, recorded by Mark (16:1-2) as happening after the Sabbath was passed?  In the Friday-to-Sunday model, there is no time to do it!  

 Nor in the Thursday-Crucifixion Model is there any time for the purchase and preparations, for Friday would have been the annual Sabbath, the High Sabbath and first day of Unleavened Bread, with the seventh-day Sabbath following it.

Another issue that makes the Friday-to-Sunday model unreasonable is the fact that the next day after the crucifixion the priests went to Pilate with the request to secure the tomb through the third day (Matthew 27:62-63).  The next day after Friday is Sabbath. How reasonable is it to believe that the priests approached Pilate on the Sabbath for a three-day guard at the tomb, if day-one is in the past, and day-two is half over?  The last half of “day-two” is going to be the first day of the guard.   

They all had heard about The Sign:  Three days and three nights, just like Jonah. It seems illogical, knowing they knew The Sign, to think that the priests would ask for the full three days guard duty when half of the time has already passed. It was because of The Sign that the priests were worried in the first place! Having come to the Sabbath (in this scenario), they would have asked for 1 ½ days of service, or, at best, two days of guard duty.  They knew the count had to begin with the Messiah’s entry into the tomb. The tomb is what they were to guard.

Finally, although less important perhaps, it seems misleading, certainly inaccurate, to contend that any few minutes of a day can be counted as “the day.” We estimate to the nearest whole number. Even if our reasoning differs from Eastern thought, The Son of God would not give a prophecy ofiHHimself, which could not be deciphered in other cultures. Furthermore, we must admit that three nights are simply not there, not even in a fraction.

Only the Wednesday Crucifixion Model allows time to do all that is recorded as having been done.  Only the Wednesday Crucifixion Model respects the religious culture of the Jews, without misleading students of other cultures.  Only this Model fits all specifications given by the Bible writers, as shown by the following charts:

Day Zero

Day One

Day Two

Day Three

Preparation Day
Feast of Unleavened Bread
Preparation Day

The Weekly Sabbath

*Preparations were made for the Passover meal in the evening.
*Crucifixion took place in the afternoon.
*Veil rent from top to bottom when Christ died.
*An earthquake rattles everyone’s nerves.
*Joseph of Arimethea asked for the body of Christ.
*He with Nicodemus prepared the body.
*Christ’s burial at or near sundown.
*Rolled a stone over the tomb entrance.
*The women followed and watched all that happened.

*First day of Unleavened Bread was a High Sabbath.
*Everyone rested to observe the festival.
*No shops could be opened for business.
*Priests fearing the people, appealed to Pilate to secure the tomb through the third day.
*Seal and guard set at the tomb.
*First 24-hours in the tomb.

*Stores open.
*Women buy and prepare the spices.
*Preparation for the weekly Sabbath day is also completed.
*Second day of Pilate’s guards watching over the tomb.
*Second 24-hours in the tomb.

*Christ in the tomb for the third 24-hour period ending at sundown.
*Resurrection at sundown. *Earthquake after shocks. Graves previously opened, then  release their  enlivened saints. 
*These risen saints went into the city.
*Christ came from the tomb exactly 72 hours after being placed in the tomb.

Most importantly, only the Wednesday Crucifixion Model follows all specifications, including Christ’s own prophecy, His Sign. What was the sign of Messiah's Authenticity? Remember what sign He gave when the Pharisees asked for proof He was the Messiah? He said:

Matthew 12:40  "For as Jonas was three days and three nights in the whale's belly; so shall the Son of man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth."

Notably also, the prophet Daniel foretold that Messiah would die (be cut off) in the midst (middle) of the week. Because Christ would die in the middle of the week (Wednesday is quite literally the middle of the week), the Sacrificial system would cease at that point:
Daniel 9:26-27  "And after threescore and two weeks shall Messiah be cut off... And He shall confirm the Covenant with many for one week: and in the midst of the week he shall cause the sacrifice and the oblation to cease."

Does this sequence match the Gospel record? Yes! In every way!

Day 0-1 Wednesday   Killed the Passover Lamb

                                    Ate the Passover meal in the evening

                                   Christ crucified at the time of the sacrifice

                                  "Eaten" by the earth in the evening


Day 1-2   Thursday     First day of Unleavened Bread – a Sabbath

                                                            Women rested

                                                            All stores closed

Day 2-3  Friday           Second day of Unleavened Bread – not a Sabbath

                               Women bought their spices and prepared them

                                      Preparation for the weekly Sabbath

Day 3  Sabbath           Third day of Unleavened Bread and the 7th day Sabbath

                              All Jerusalem rested

                            Jesus (Yahshua) came from the tomb near the end 
 of this 24-hour period; probably the same hour He had been buried.

Day 4: Sunday               Wave sheaf at 9:00 a.m. (Lev. 23:10; time – Jewish

tradition)  Always waved on the day after the weekly Sabbath.  It was begun after Israel entered Canaan and planted fields for harvest. It had not been celebrated in the wilderness. There they had had no harvest.

*Note: According to the U. S. Naval Observatory records, Passover was:

Wednesday, April 28, if in the year 28:CE, and

Wednesday, April 25, if in the year 31 CE