by Judy D. Gassett @Spirit-Digest.com
God delivered terrifying omens of His holy displeasure to the Jews after the Crucifixion for years. The temple elite knew the end was coming and it was near so the sacking of Jerusalem in 70 A.D. did not come as a surprise.
The Jewish Talmud states that forty years before the Temple was destroyed, the Jewish nation was beset with a continuous series of increasingly terrifying omens directed at the Temple and its sacrificial system. The dots are never connected with the death of Jesus. The Lord, as planned from the beginning, started His work of gathering the gentiles, His second born, into the sheepfold with His rejection by Israel, His firstborn. With certain signs and oracles He directed His considerable displeasure toward the Jewish sacrifices and their attendant Temple rituals.
Because everything has been planned in the smallest detail at the beginning of the universe, God having established Nisan 14 as the day to celebrate the Passover allows the official celebration to gradually move from Nisan 14 to Nisan 15 although there was no ancient justification to do so according to Monte Judah, a Messianic Jew of considerable stature, in the U.S.A.
that Nisan 14 was the day to remember for all time that Israel was delivered from slavery. By the time of
Christ Israel celebrated Passover week starting on the Feast of
Unleavened Bread, Nisan 15, the day Israel actually walked out of Egypt. This was a high holy day often also referred to as a
"Sabbath" day because all the observations of the ordinary weekly Sabbath
were in effect including no executions, no work, strict Torah readings,
absolutely no physical contact with death or condemned persons, etc.. Down
through the centuries Jews got away from supping on the 14th but kept it for
slaughtering the lambs but eating them on 15th, a few hours later. This would
have been AFTER sundown or 6 P.M., when the calendar rolled to the next day in
ancient Israel. This new day was the Feast of Unleavened Bread which kicked off
festivities continuing for seven days. Midway in this "week" was the Feast of
First Fruits, Nisan 17th, the day of the Resurrection, (and also the day the
Noah's Ark came to rest on Mt. Ararat.) Thus Nisan 17th was the day God
designated for new beginnings! As
for Nisan 14th, that was the day designated as the "preparation day" for the big
event on Nisan 15th.
Jesus Christ is a Lamb, a sacrificial victim. Christ's sacrifice is not merely a mystical metaphor that God imposed in the Garden of Eden by a rather vague prophecy, it is a sacrificial act that must be presided over by a high priest, not one of the many lower priests in strict accordance with the sacred rituals God lays down in exquisite detail in Leviticus. So with hindsight we can see that this switch from Nisan 14 to Nisan 15 for celebrating the Passover meal was all part of the divine plan. The Passover lambs were still slain on Nisan 14 at "twilight" or starting at 3 P.M. and slaughter must be completed by 6 P.M. We also see that Christ, our Passover Lamb, must be slain on the 14th, the same day Isaac was offered. The sacrifice must be officiated by a priest of the Most High God. God arranges it and Caiaphas hosts the spectacle on Calvary despite himself. We can see Caiaphas working all though the night of Nisan 14 to have Christ dispatched to Calvary while keeping himself "undefiled". After Christ is affixed hand and foot to the cross, Caiaphas supervises the slaughter of the Pascal lambs and goes back to his palace still "undefiled" and starts to prepare himself to officiate at Feast of Unleavened Bread on Nisan 15. On this high holy day Sabbath day there can not be any executions and certainly no public ones. So God has His son slain on the "ordinary" day before.
Interestingly in the middle of this most significant day ever to dawn for mankind, there is insufficient light to carry out the slaughter of thousands of lambs, but the killing of lambs has to be complete by 6 p.m. It is as if God wanted the whole world's attention and no other inferior sacrifices during the three hours of darkness. The strange darkness is very well documented by at least 3 pagan historians of the time.
I was disappointed with the Pope's recent book, Jesus of Nazareth, Part 2. It was my opinion that it added little to the mysticism and wonder of the divine plan for salvation with no details of the key role the ancient Jewish priesthood had in that plan. The book offers no new insight as to how Christ could celebrate the Passover, be offered on the cross and be in the grave while the rest of Israel would be celebrating the Passover on Nisan 15. The book says Jesus knew he was going to die and used Nisan 14 as the platform for the New Covenant, certainly true enough. The pope's book was written with a pastoral perspective not a mystical one. So this article is written with a mystical perspective searching for the mysticism not found in the Pope's book.
Forty years before the death of Jesus puts the Crucifixion at 30 A.D. This puts the birth of Jesus at 5 B.C. if he would have died in the year he would have turned 34. Expert historians and theologians in calculating the day Christ was born are all over the map. Some feel strongly the nativity was the Fall of 3 or 2 B.C., Others feel 5 B.C. is the best timing. But the 5 B.C. date conflicts with several ancient reliable sources which put the day of unusual darkness all over the world at 32 A.D. More permutations are introduced with the Hebrew calendar which is based upon the movement of the moon (and still is). The Western Calendar has evolved several times into the "modern" Gregorian calendar based upon the movement of the sun. Both the Jewish and Western versions of the calendar correct for the leap year at different times in different ways and define a "year" slightly differently. The timing is always going to be one huge conundrum. Benedict XVI struggles with it in his new book, Jesus of Nazareth, Vol. 2, as do I in this article.
The Jews are a holy people set apart and all of mankind continues to be blessed through them. God has fashioned them for a greatness they have yet to see. God vowed to scatter and then re-gather Israel and what a job He has done. A technological star of 6 million strong, and you can be sure that more blessings will follow. Israel at 63 is a model democracy shinning brightly in the heart of hatred, oppression and jealously of the Mid East.
Benedict excuses the Jews for the crucifixion of the Lord in his new book. Christ clearly states that he laid his life down willingly and out of obedience to His Father. No one took it. Christ's life was not taken, it was given. But the Jewish group responsible for the horrifying death was the old Levitcal priesthood of Israel. Read Luke 24: 13-38. The disciples at Emmaus clearly state that the high priests and temple rulers had Jesus crucified. Moreover, thousands of years of prophecy predicted it and God Almighty required it. Jesus' death must be a real sacrifice officiated by a real Jewish high priest. As Judas was necessary to the holy scenario, much more important was the presence of a high priest in order of Levi.
The priestly family which was responsible for crucifying the Lord was that of Annas. This family was in power at the temple for about 70 years. This dynasty came to power about the time Christ was born and it was the last priestly Levite family to rule the Temple services and interpret Mosaic law before the fall of Jerusalem.
Annas surely met Jesus in the Temple when Christ was a twelve year-old prodigy teaching Temple elders generations older. Caiaphas was his son-in-law. The oracles discussed below all fell while Annas and his sons were on a power trip as the ruling Temple aristocracy. Finally, when the red heifer birthed a lamb a in the midst of the temple courtyard, the current heirs of Annas' priestly family finally realized that their rule had come to an end.
Here are some of the terrifying omens of God's holy displeasure to the Jews, some right after the Crucifixion...
Christ was judged by Israel in the great, awesome council chamber of the Sanhedrin (supreme court of Israel). The place was part of the temple complex, an edifice befitting deliberations of an holy, august body, including expansive vaulted ceilings, sumptuously decorations and gorgeous interiors of the finest polished hewn limestone.
The unjust trial and judgment of Jesus by the Sanhedrin was the last trial and legal proceeding the Sanhedrin ever held in its renowned chamber as it was destroyed by an earthquake less than 18 hours later. Josephus states that the Sanhedrin was "banished" 40 years before the Temple was destroyed in 70 A.D. The Sanhedrin then held sessions in the "trading station", where Christ drove out vendors of animals and the money changers. So there they sat listening to cattle bellowing, goats naying, doves cooing, and chickens clucking. The Sanhedrin may have also ceased to judge capital cases. Thus, the case of Jesus Christ may have been the last judgment ever made by this supreme body in this very special magnificent setting which was always convened for God's justice.
The Temple veil hung on a huge 60 ton stone lintel between the Holy Place and the Holy of Holies. The sacred veil was made by layering multiple layers of exquisite colored linen together so that the total thickness was about 4 inches thick, thee feet wide and 60 feet long. Other than rare maintenance little was done with it because it required 300 priests to move it or adjust it. It was a "cunning work of blue, purple, and scarlet and fine twined linen woven together".
The quake that stuck immediately after the death of the Lord splintered the lintel but the veil did not merely fall off, it was torn from top to bottom, rendered into two pieces and then fell after being rent: “The veil of the Temple was torn in two from top to bottom”. (Matthew 27:51) This must have been as terrifying to the Jewish elders and priests as the finger of God writing on the wall was at the feast of Belshazzar. This is what a Father does when a beloved son, or firstborn dies: rend his garments. Earthquakes don't split objects made of fibers but this one did because it was supernatural.
Jesus said, "While I am in the world, I am the light of the world" (John 9:5). A particularly incisive metaphor, but the Lord meant it literally also. The day the Lord died on the cross the servant lamp, the fourth lamp, in the menorah (seven branched lamp post), never gave light again, unto this very day. It was called the "servant lamp" because after it was cleaned and relit in the evening the other lamps were cleaned and relit from it each morning (not evening). Every thing was tried: new wicks (made from priest's old garments), special oils blends, prayers, fasting, but it refused to ever give light again.
The priests of the day called the center lamp the "light or lamp of God". In the opening passages of Revelation 1:13 we see the holy pure light of Jesus Christ standing in the center of seven other lampstands making the metaphor even more compelling. There should have been no doubt that the Light of God had departed permanently from Jewish worship.
Interesting was is that there was an eclipse of the moon in Scorpio, representing the Devil and evil the day Christ died on the other side of the world. Libra is juxtaposed to Scorpio and is represented as a lamp in ancient zodiacs. So this was a heavenly picture of evil once again, struggling with good trying to "overcome" it. It is my opinion that Christ was born under the sign of Libra because it is depicted as a lamp in the ancient zodiacs. St. John is especially is known for associating the incarnation of Christ and many profound references to Him as "light". (John 1). John 1:5 states that the Light shone in darkness which "grasped it not".
It came to the left hand, and that hand got the scapegoat!. This was the animal chosen to bear the sins of Israel into the wilderness, away from the congregation.
During the ceremonies of Yom Kippur in the Fall the high priest first took off his priestly robes and put on a seamless linen tunic to officiate Yom Kippur festivities. The high priest sacrificed a young bullock for himself and his family and then prayed for the people three hours before the Mercy Seat. Afterward, he then prepared two young spotless goats (not lambs). One was for the Lord and the other was the scapegoat for the sins of the people.
We note that Christ wore a seamless tunic to the crucifixion. Benedict states in his new book that this seamless robe symbolized Christ's high priesthood and now we understand that it was worn when the high priest sacrificed the scapegoat. Gospel writers are able to make this connection Hebrews 4:14 – “Seeing then that we have a great High Priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession.” Hebrews 8:1 – “We have such a High Priest, who is seated at the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in the heavens, a Minister of the sanctuary and of the true tabernacle which the Lord erected, and not man.”
Beside the altar was a golden urn in which were two golden tablets. One was engraved “For the Lord” and the other was engraved “For Azazel” or, "For the People". The high priest must assign the goats by lot to be either sacrificed or to be a scapegoat sent into the wilderness bearing the sins of the nation.
Whichever tablet was pulled out first with the right hand of the priest got the sacrificial goat. For centuries this was a tablet that read, "For the Lord". This sacrificial goat ended up with its blood atoning for sins before God on the Mercy seat. The laws of probability would require that half of the time the other tablet which stated, "For Azazel", would be pulled out with the right hand. But this never happened before Christ died. Conversely, after Christ died, the high priest always pulled out the tablet engraved with "For Azazel" ("For the People") with the right hand. "For Azazel" meant that the hand designated for God would get the scapegoat because in this ceremony, God always drew first. This was a perfect picture of Jesus Christ, the ultimate scapegoat that would sit at his right hand, but goats were eliminated in the New Covenant and only Lambs were used.
This left the Lord's lot coming to the left hand to which the scapegoat was assigned every year after Christ died until the Temple was destroyed. A priest never before offered a Lamb as a sacrifice until Jesus. John 19, describes the high priest, Caiaphas, pronouncing the necessity for the death. This act allowed Jesus to take on the sins the world by becoming a scapegoat.
Rabbinic tradition held that whenever the Lord's lot came to the left hand of the high priest, severe judgments would come to the nation and the Temple would be destroyed. The consternation of NEVER AGAIN having the Lord's lot come to the right hand of the high priest must have been terrifying. Thus, this omen meant that Christ, our high priest was the scapegoat that had borne away the sins of the world for eternity and his atoning blood had been sprinkled once and for all time on the Mercy Seat. Note that the temple corner stone or foundation stone was now in use because the Ark had been removed by God from worship ceremonies centuries earlier.
The scapegoat, designated for the left hand had the sins of the people pronounced on it, a red cord was cut in two, one end tied to its horn and other tied to the Temple gate. The unfortunate animal was led outside the city into badlands and driven over a cliff. To make the metaphor complete, the goat was given three hours to die. If not killed immediately the by fall it was then speared.
Edersheim (ref. below) does not go into this much detail on the death of the scapegoat, so I am imposing my opinion here given that the nation and its priests were gathered at the Temple gate awaiting word of a supernatural event (below).
A goat handler (Levite) would return to the city after the death of scapegoat and declare, "It is done". A supernatural event then happened. The crimson cord tied to the Temple gate would turn white. For hours the people milled around waiting for this to happen for it meant that the Lord accepted the scapegoat sacrifice for their sins.
Beginning with the Yom Kippur after the death of Jesus (6 month later) the red cord never turned white again for the "temple builders had rejected real Corner Stone "...
In the previous article I mention that Christ was clad in scarlet before this garment of mockery and derision was stripped from Him. We next see Him when he is clothed at the Resurrection in splendor and white glorious radiance when Magdalene approaches Him. Son of God completed every step of the of the final Yom Kipper ritual. In all of these awesome omens and portents, Holy God was demonstrating that the Passover and Yom Kippur rituals of the 'sin offering' were unacceptable, even offensive, and certainly no longer necessary.
Sometime about 65-66 CE, just before the final collapse of Jewish resistance and the legions of Titus surrounded the city of Jerusalem, Josephus recorded the astral phenomenon which signaled to many serious portents of their future. “A star, resembling a sword, stood over the city, and a comet appeared which continued for a year."
But, what is still more ominous, there was one Jesus or Yeshua who, four years before the war began, and at a time when the city was in very great peace and prosperity, came to the Feast of the Tabernacles and cried aloud everywhere in the city, day and night:
"A voice from the east,
a voice from the west,
a voice from the four winds,
a voice against Jerusalem and the Holy House,
a voice against the bridegrooms and the brides, and a voice against this whole people!"
Yeshua or Jesus, was arrested and severely scourged but continued his prophecy against Jerusalem afterward. The Romans re-arrested him and "he was whipped till his bones were laid bare; yet he did not make any supplication for himself, nor shed any tears, but turning his voice to the most lamentable tone possible, at every stroke of the whip his answer was, 'Woe, woe to Jerusalem!'". After this torture he was released and continued the dirge for seven years up until the time the attack on Jerusalem began. He was hit by a stone launched by a Roman boulder catapult and perished.
The year the Temple was sacked, during Passover festivities, a strange terrifying light from the holy altar lit the sanctuary of the Temple. Normally the sanctuary was rather dark so this was quite a show. The temple rulers took this to mean terrible events would follow and they were right. Here is how Josephus describes it: "Thus also, before the Jew’s rebellion, and before those commotions which preceded the war, when the people were come in great crowds to the feast of unleavened bread, on the eighth day of Xanthicus, (Nisan,) and at the ninth hour of the night, so great a light shone around the altar and the holy house, that it appeared to be a bright day-time; which light lasted for half an hour. This light seemed to be a good sign to the unskillful, but was so interpreted by the sacred scribes as to portend those events that followed immediately upon it". (Josephus, The Wars of the Jews, IV: iv, 3)
The Temple hierarchy of priest and servers observed the aforementioned signs year after year with increasing consternation and trembling. It seems that the dots were never connected with the start of these portents and the death of Jesus. Moreover, God spiritually blinded the Jews.
Normally it took at least 20 men to open them as they were solid bronze and anchored into a huge plate of iron on the gate posts and in the floor, plus they were bolted shut. The Tenth Legion of Titus started to surround the city a couple of years before the Temple was finally destroyed. Inexplicably, the huge heavy Temple gates mysteriously kept opening on their own. The high priest bore real terror to come to work in the morning and repeatedly see this despite, prayers, sacrifices and all kinds of supplications to God to stop it.
Right after the feast of Pentecost (which celebrated giving the Ten Commandments), chariots and soldiers were seen in the clouds in their armor surrounding cities. Josephus called this "incredible" and says that he wanted to dismiss the report as a ridiculous fable and would have but the phenomena was witnessed by many.
Josephus: "Moreover, at that feast which we call Pentecost, as the priests were going by night into the inner [court of the temple,] as their custom was, to perform their sacred ministrations, they said that, in the first place, they felt a quaking, and heard a great noise, and after that they heard a sound as of a great multitude, saying, 'Let us remove hence.' "
The Tenth Red Heifer of Israel (since Moses) gave birth to a lamb in the temple court as she was being led to slaughter outside the city. Jewish tradition held that the 10th red heifer would be offered by the Messiah, Himself acting in the person of a priest, when He came.
Therefore, the nation's trembling priests, terrified by all these omens, decided to offer the 10th red heifer hoping to summon the Messiah to purify the Temple and repair whatever it was that corrupted it. So begged the Lord that a spotless red heifer (not one white hair on it) be born. One was
More on the significance of the red heifer: While the other sin offering were slaughtered and offered within the confines of the Temple, "in the presence of the Lord", the red heifer was walked over to the Mount of Olives, which was considered outside the "camp of Israel", where she was slaughtered and burnt in her entirety (Num 19:3).
The ashes of the red heifer were VERY special and were harvested after complete immolation. The ashes were sacred and conserved to be sprinkled whenever purification was needed for any physical object, person, or any sin. The ashes could last for centuries and when another red heifer was needed, God seemed to miraculously provide it. The ashes were thought to be capable of purifying anything and anyone in the land.
In this most holy and stunning omen, the Lord declared that a lamb, not a red heifer, who could purify any person or object in the universe, had already been sacrificed as a sin offering by the house of Annas. His Precious Blood wiped out the entire sins of the world.
The Temple elite missed the fact the Christ was that ultimate holiest of sin offering, His precious blood was completely poured out (he died of hypovolemia, not asphyxiation ) outside of the gates of the city. A lamb had been begotten by the immaculate red heifer whose blood took away all the perdition in the world forever. His Precious Blood, most divine, like the red heifer, continuing to this day to sanctify and purify . The sacrifice of Jesus Christ for the sins of humanity was not an afterthought of God. It was always the plan from the beginning. Revelation 13:8 calls Jesus, "the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world."
The Seder uses three pieces of matzah (unleavened bread) placed in a Unity (usually a three compartment decorative cloth cover). A very ornate Unity can be made of silver but it must have the three compartments. The upper piece is usually eaten by the father during the meal. The middle piece serves as the ceremonial and broken piece. Once broken, the best part (determined by the leader) will serve as the Afikoman. It is wrapped in linen to be returned to the table after the meal to be the best part (the dessert) of the meal. The third piece is often called the comforter as it is used when eating the bitter herbs and charoset. You learn quickly to eat more matzah than bitter herbs when eating them together and let abundance of matzah comfort you from the bitterness of the herb.
A traditional game is played (but not required) during the Seder meal. The Afikoman, as part of the Seder, is the broken piece of matzah that is wrapped in linen at the beginning of the Seder and buried behind a pillow called "the stone," and is to be brought forth after the meal. Then the children steal the bread and hide it. The leader of the Seder calls for the Afikoman to "come forth." He dispatches a child to retrieve it, but the child returns announcing that "the stone has been moved and all I found was this linen cloth."
This is the exact picture given to us in the Gospels at Yeshua's resurrection. It is more than ironic that this traditional children's game at Passover tells the story of Yeshua's resurrection as well as any first century Apostle could. It is even more powerful when considering what afikoman means. Afikoman in Hebrew means "It is finished" or "It is fulfilled!" Had you been standing at the base of the cross, the last words you would have heard Yeshua say is, "Afikoman."
The sacrifice of Jesus Christ for the sins of humanity was not an afterthought of God. It was always the plan from the beginning. Revelation 13:8 calls Jesus, "the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world." The Jews are spiritually blind presently but the placement of symbols of Christ's victory before them every year at the Passover meal remind all that they are a special nation, not forgotten, destined for greatness, and loved by their Messiah.
Further reading: http://www.josephus.org/causeofDestruct.htm#priest
Edersheim The Temple - Its Ministry and Services
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