"Good intentions will always be pleaded for every assumption of authority ... the Constitution was made to guard against the dangers of good intentions. There are men in all ages who mean to govern well, but they mean to govern. They promise to be good masters, but they mean to be masters." - Noah Webster

"There is no worse tyranny than forcing a man to pay for what he does not want just because you think it would be good for him."
-- Robert A. Heinlein

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Three Days, Three Nights

When did Yeshua die and when did He rise?

When I was still identifying with Christians, I would encounter skeptics and later on Muslims using the same questions to point out that Christians were either stupid, inconsistent, or both.  I would often sidestep the problems or simply chalk it up to a lack of faith on the part of the skeptic.  I didn't want to have to recognize and deal with my own error or the laziness I had for dealing with that error.  It was pretty silly considering I was also teaching apologetics; teaching why you could trust the Bible on everything it said, but I didn't want to deal with certain issues because it would cause ill feelings in the church itself.  I liked the traditions and didn't want to change them either, and I certainly didn't want to risk the alienation of friends and family by pointing out error and correcting it.  I'd already gone through that when discovered that the pre-tribulational view of eschatology was wrong and I had family members get very angry with me for pointing out where Scripture made it clear that it was wrong.

Now that I've taken on Christmas and Easter as not just being pagan, but in direct violation of God's Word, I should also tackle the issue of Yeshua's death and resurrection and how important it is that we get this right.  I can't just put it on the back burner of insignificant details any more.  I've invested too much time and energy into telling people that the biggest difference between belief in the Bible and the Messiah versus all other religions in the world is that the Bible is verifiable truth in history.  These aren't just fantastic stories or myths designed to illustrate some "greater truth."  If the Bible is not telling the actual truth about people, places, and events, then I'm an idiot and no one should listen to me.  So if I pass off traditions of the church that are proveably false and which skeptics can use to discredit the Bible, I'm not doing God any favors.  And while it is one thing to pass on bad information in ignorance, it is evil to pass on lies when you know they are lies.

Ladies and gentlemen of the jury, Yeshua HaMashiach, or the man that many in the Western world refer to as Jesus Christ, was not crucified and did not die on a Friday.  He also did not rise from the grave on Sunday morning.  Yeshua, the promised Messiah was crucified on a Wednesday afternoon during the same time that the Passover lambs were being slaughtered.  In keeping with prophecy, both in the Tanakh (Old Testament) and the words of Yeshua Himself, he would be dead in the grave for three days and three nights.  In case you have never thought of it before, you can't get three full days out of Friday night to Sunday morning at sunrise.  If the Friday night to Sunday morning scenario is how it went down, that would make Jesus out to be a liar.  That's not what I am out to prove.  I'm out to prove that God and His Word are true and that the traditions of men are at fault.  Now, if you love your denomination and your tradition more than you love God and the truth, this is going to be very difficult for you to look into.  I wouldn't be surprised if I've lost some readers into the first paragraph.

In order for us to understand how this error occurred, we need to understand history.  We also need a better understanding of the Hebrew, Biblical roots of the faith.  Since the Roman Empire hijacked Christianity in the fourth century, several things have happened.  First is that much understanding of the Tanakh, or "Old Testament" became lost to the Gentile converts.  Secondly, a lot of pagan beliefs and practices got blended into church practices with a veneer of new meaning to make it palatable to believers.  Third, an insidious hatred of anything Jewish or of "The Law" crept into the churches. And finally, the calendar and almost everything about reckoning time became corrupted from God's way to man's way.

How many times have you wondered why the Jews keep the Sabbath on Saturday?  I know that as a kid, I always thought it odd that the Calendar shows Sunday as the first day of the week.  Why is that?  Because it is.  Know why it's called Sunday?  In honor of the Sun god.  You can call him Osiris, but it actually goes back to Nimrod, a grandson of Noah. In Hebrew, Sunday is simply Yom Rishon, or "day first."  I like how the Spanish language preserves the proof of what some of these days actually are.  Saturday is Sabbados, not hard to figure that one out.  Monday is really "moon day" as the Spanish confirmes by calling it Lunes, as in lunar. Explaining all of this background may make for a somewhat lengthy post, but all of this information really helps to comprehend how we got to this tangled mess.

Because the vast majority of Gentile Christians don't understand the Torah or the rest of the Old Testament that well, they will gloss over or miss, or just flat out misinterpret many details in the New Testament.  The issue over the death and resurrection of Yeshua is a wonderful example.  People read that they were in a hurry to get the body of Yeshua down off the cross because Sabbath was approaching.  All days begin and end at Sundown in the Biblical way of reckoning.  Why?  Because starting in Genesis, God said, "There was evening, and then morning, one day."  Now the problem for Gentiles untrained in the Scriptures is that they assumed that all Sabbaths are the seventh day of the week.  Not so.  God appointed several feast days and the two most notable feasts are the Passover and Sukkot (Feast of Booths or Tabernacles) in which the first and seventh days are "High Sabbaths" and they occur according to specific months and dates, instead of according to the week.  We just experienced it this month with Passover.  We observed the High Sabbath starting at sundown on Monday the 18th (going into the 15h day of Nisan)  Then we celebrated Shabbat on Saturday, and then we had a High Sabbath the very next Tuesday.

We have plenty of direct information in the gospels that tell us that Yeshua's crucifixion took place at Passover. This point is beyond argument.  The problem comes from Gentiles who started running the church in the fourth century tryin to impose things into the understanding of the events and introducing pagan rituals and customs into the celebration of Christ's death and resurrection. Remember that the religious leaders were hanging on every word of Yeshua, looking for a chance to discredit him as Messiah.  By the time of this Passover things had reached a boiling point because the people were all believing that Yeshua must be the Messiah.  Interestingly enough, Yeshua had made his triumphal entry on a donkey four days prior in fulfillment of the prophecy in Daniel 9, and that was the same day that all the households of Israel were to choose a lamb to take into their houses for the three day period of inspection to make sure that the lamb met the flawless standard for sacrifice.  Coincidence?  I think not.

Yeshua has to celebrate the Passover Seder with His disciples a day early because He has an appointment with destiny. To what is us would be Tuesday night Yeshua gathers with His disciples in the upper room and conducts the Seder.  Wednesday is the fourteenth of Nisan.  Preparation day to the Jews.  This is unique to the Passover feast.  It is the last day to make sure that all the leaven (Chametz) has been cleared from the house.  This is the day when the lambs are slain at the time of the afternoon sacrifice at the Temple.  Yeshua was arrested in the middle of the night or in the early dark of morning of that Wednesday.  By the time the morning sun was well above the horizon, Yeshua had endured a kangaroo court trial by a handful (not a quorum) of the Sanhedrin, and been to Herod's palace.  Hundreds, if not thousands, of lambs were bleating in the Temple courtyard awaiting their slaughter for the Passover feast.  Women everywhere were rushing about making whatever final preparations were necessary because the Feast of Unleavened Bread (Matzot) was about to begin at sundown.  Now the crucial thing to remember that the leaders wanted to catch Yeshua in a lie or in violating Torah.

Matthew 12:38-40 "Then certain of the scribes and of the Pharisees answered, saying, Master, we would see a sign from thee. But he answered and said unto them, An evil and adulterous generation seeketh after a sign; and there shall no sign be given to it, but the sign of the prophet Jonas: For as Jonas (Jonah) 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."

Three days and three nights.  You can't lie down on Friday night, get up Sunday morning and call that three days and three nights.  No amount of verbal or linguistic gymnastics by either Catholic or Protestant theologians is going to get around that.  There is no need to, unless your purpose is to preserve tradition over the truth of Scripture.

According to the gospel text, we know with certainty which day it was on the Hebrew calendar (God's calendar), because John 19:31 states: "The Jews therefore, because it was the day of preparation, so that the bodies should not remain on the cross on the Sabbath (for that Sabbath was a high day), asked Pilate that their legs might be broken, and that they might be taken away."  This means that the crucifixion took place on the 14th of Nisan, regardless of what day of the week it was. There is only one "day of preparation" on the Hebrew calendar.   But first an explanation for those who might be wondering: why the breaking of the legs?

Crucifixion is so incredibly slow and painful a death because it is the slowest, most agonizing form of asphyxiation.  However, the body still retains the overwhelming desire to survive so to take a breath is involuntary.  In crucifixion this means pushing one's feet against the stapes.  By breaking the legs of the victim, he can no longer push himself up to take a breath, and the pulmonary edema speeded up to hasten the death.  Torah demanded that none of the bones of the Passover lamb be broken (Exodus 12:46).  Scripture prophesied that no bones of the Messiah would be broken (Psalm 34:20).

As Yeshua was being raised up on the cross the priests in the Temple were slaughtering lambs as fast as they could as twighlight was approaching.  It must have been about this time that Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus were getting permission to take the body and a shroud, and hope they could get the body in Joseph's tomb before the High Sabbath was upon them.  Then they needed to get back home to observe the Passover, have the Seder meal and begin the Sabbath rest of the first day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread.  At sunset of that Thursday evening, that Sabbath would be over and then the women could purchase and work on preparing the spice mixture that they intended to use on the body of the Messiah.  But they would only have the daylight of Friday to do all that.  Then they needed to observe the weekly Sabbath that began at sundown on Friday night.

Luke 23:50-56  "And behold, a man named Joseph, who was a member of he Council, a good and righteous man (he had not consented to their plan and action), a man from Arimathea, a city of the Jews, who was waiting for he kingdom of God; this man went to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus.  And he took it down and wrapped it in a linen cloth, and laid Him in a tomb cut into the rock, where no one had ever lain.  And that day was the preparation, and the sabbath was about to begin. And the women also, which came with him from Galilee, followed after, and beheld the sepulchre, and how his body was laid. And they returned, and prepared spices and ointments; and rested the sabbath day according to the commandment."

A lot of information is crammed into the verse above, but the events are in chronological order. Luke is known for being a very careful historian.  He doesn't mention anything about spices being brought by Nicodemus or Joseph. Maybe they did.  The time element here is important.  There wasn't time to do anything with the body because the sun was setting on the day of preparation.  There was only enough time to put the body in the linen shroud and lay it in the tomb.  The women followed along so they could know exactly where the body was and deal with the spices and wrapping of the body when there would be more time.  Luke doesn't explain religious procedure here because the assumption is that the reader understands all of that.  The women returned home, but they didn't start working on preparation of spices and ointments as soon as they got home.  When they got up the following morning, on what we would call Thursday, they were observing a High Sabbath.  It would be Friday morning before they would begin working on the spices and ointments and tearing up the cloth strips for wrapping the body and getting everything set to go back to the sepulchre.  Even though the text doesn't say it explicitly, it stands to reason that they all knew that a guard had been posted until at least the third day if not indefinately.  But there was not enough time on Friday to both get the anointing stuff and bindings prepared and go to the tomb and work on the body before the weekly Sabbath arrived, so they would have to wait until that Sabbath was over as well.  Even though the sabbath ended when three stars were visible in the sky on Saturday night, who would go to a tomb at night?  The women planned on going to the tomb at daybreak of the first day of the week, Yom Rishon.

Looking at the timeline again, we see that Yeshua would have been dead Wednesday night and placed in the tomb.  That's Wednesday night, Thursday night, Friday night; Thursday day, Friday day, and Saturday day until sundown.  Three days, and three nights.  And because Messiah is the Lord of the Sabbath, it would make sense that he rose from the dead at the end of the Sabbath day, not on Sunday morning, well into the first day of the week.  No need to push the resurrection to that artificial time frame.  The women couldn't come to the tomb until that time, but that is no reason to assume that God raised Him from the dead just before the women showed up hours after the first day of the week had begun.  We are told what the women saw after the fact, not that they witnessed the resurrection. There was an angel there to tell them He was gone, but the guards had all vanished by this time.

Another important piece of evidence to this case is the fact that for the first 300 years following the resurrection, the above scenario was accepted and taught by the early ekklesia (church).  Epiphanus, Victorinus of Petau in 307 AD, Lactantius, Wescott, Cassiodorus, and Gregory of Tours. Later, Finis Dake and R.A. Torrey also believed in a Wednesday crucifixion.  This is because they took the time to study Scripture and understand the God appointed Feast and how it was all observed by the Jews.

There are a couple of good essays that cover the same information with other details that you can find here and here.

Why the church changed to celebrating Easter is another issue that should be dealt with at length in another post.  Why the protestant churches still celebrate pagan holidays with pagan symbols and rituals is still another issue that we need to think about.


  1. I very much appreciate your careful explanation of this. I'm afraid I don't understand reluctance on anyone's part to better know how our Savior died and rose again.

    Thank you.
    God's peace,

  2. I know this is not about your above post but what do you think about all the Christians rejoicing over bin laden's death? I wanted to email you but could not find a contact address.
    I did find your post enlightening,


Please don't make me disable comments because you couldn't maintain decorum and civil discourse. You can disagree all you want to, just don't get nasty.