Moses' fourth speech, Part 17
Dec 11, 2012
Moses gave instructions about observing Passover in Deuteronomy 16:5 and 6,
5 You are not allowed to sacrifice the Passover in any of your towns which the Lord your God is giving you; 6 but at the place where the Lord your God chooses to establish His name, you shall sacrifice the Passover in the evening at sunset, at the time that you came out of Egypt.
These details were important, because the law reveals the divine plan—in this case, prophesying how the Messiah would be sacrificed for the sin of the world. First, He was not merely killed for teaching truth to those who rejected it, but He was a sacrifice for sin. Second, Jerusalem at the time was the place where God had chosen to put His name, and so the Messiah had to be sacrificed at Jerusalem. Third, the lambs had to be killed in the afternoon, so Jesus too had to be killed between noon and sundown.
Deuteronomy 16:6 says the lambs were to be killed “in the evening at sunset,” which is explained in Exodus 12:6 as “between evenings” (literal text). In other words, the lambs were to be killed while the sun was going down. The sun began to set at noon, so the lambs were to be killed during the afternoon. The priests later made a ruling that lambs should not be killed until at least a half hour after noon, in case someone miscalculated the time.
Ignatius of Antioch tells us that Jesus was put on the cross at noon, that is, the sixth hour of the day, following John’s account in John 19:14-16,
14 Now it was the day of preparation for the Passover; it was about the sixth hour. And he [Pilate] said to the Jews, “Behold, your King!” 15 They therefore cried out, “Away with Him!” Pilate said to them, “Shall I crucify your King?” The chief priests answered, “We have no king but Caesar.” 16 So he then delivered Him to them to be crucified.
This appears to be contradicted by Mark’s account in 15:25,
25 And it was the third hour when they crucified Him.
In other words, if Christ was put on the cross at the third hour (9:00 a.m.), how could Pilate deliver Jesus to the people for crucifixion three hours later? Some argue in favor of Mark, others in favor of John’s account. Bullinger agrees with Mark, saying that John’s “sixth hour” was of the night—that is, at midnight—when the sentence was given. He says that it then took about nine hours for them to actually crucify Him at the third hour on the following morning.
The other explanation says that Mark’s “third hour,” or 9:00 a.m., was when Pilate sentenced Jesus, and that Jesus was put on the cross three hours later at noon. Mark 15:15 says that in the interim, Jesus was beaten and mocked by the soldiers, so it may well have been three hours before Jesus was actually nailed to the cross.
If we believe that Jesus’ crucifixion fulfilled the law of Passover, then it seems more likely that Jesus would not be put on the cross until noon and that he died in the middle of the afternoon, “between evenings.” Although the cross did not kill Him immediately, it was certainly the start of His death. John was concerned about the time He was put on the cross, saying it took place at noon in order to fulfill the law precisely.
Also, Matthew 27:46 tells us that he died at the ninth hour, or about 3:00 p.m. Jesus died literally and exactly “between evenings,” that is, between noon and sunset. In chapter 1 of my book, The Laws of the Second Coming, I showed also that darkness covered Jerusalem during the three hours that He hung on the cross. The purpose of this was not merely to portray creation in mourning, but to prevent the people from killing their own lambs until the Messiah died.
The law forbade them from killing the lambs before noon or after sunset. Hence, when nightfall appeared to arrive early, the people could not kill the Passover lambs until the sun returned in mid-afternoon. That is when they killed the lambs that year, and so the death of those lambs coincided with the death of the Messiah.
The year of the Messiah’s death was also significant, for I showed in Secrets of Time that Christ was crucified on the 1480th Passover since Moses. The Greek word, Christos, as used in Matthew 1:16, carries a numeric value of 1480. This suggests that the true Messiah would fulfill the Passover as the Lamb of God in Jerusalem on the 1480th Passover of Israel’s history since their first celebration in the land of Egypt, and that He would die in the middle of the afternoon.
Moses continues in Deuteronomy 16:7 and 8,
7 And you shall cook it and eat it in the place which the Lord your God chooses. And in the morning you are to return to your tents. 8 Six days you shall eat unleavened bread, and on the seventh day there shall be a solemn assembly to the Lord your God; you shall do no work on it.
To eat is to appropriate and assimilate. The Passover was to be eaten only in the place where God had chosen to place His name. At the time of the crucifixion, that place was yet Jerusalem. But when Jesus ascended to heaven, taking with Him the glory of God, it completed the departure that had begun in Ezekiel 10:18. The glory at that time departed as far as the Mount of Olives (Ezekiel 11:23), but nothing further is recorded at that time. The glory of God, though hidden from public view, remained on the top of that Mount until Jesus’ ascension completed its departure.
Jesus was crucified on the top of the Mount of Olives, two thousand cubits outside the city walls, the distance defined in the law as “outside the camp” or “outside the gate” (Hebrews 13:12). It was also the location of the ashes of the red heifer, which He fulfilled at the same time. Further, it was the location where David had made sacrifice when He too was betrayed by his friend Ahithophel when his throne was usurped by Absalom (2 Samuel 15:32). What David experienced as a prophetic type was thus fulfilled in Christ.
We are all to eat of the Passover Lamb of God, as Jesus explained in John 6:53-56,
53 Jesus therefore said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood, you have no life in yourselves. 54 He who eats My flesh and drinks My blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day. 55 For My flesh is true food, and My blood is true drink. 56 He who eats My flesh and drinks My blood abides in Me, and I in him.
This was difficult for the people to comprehend prior to the revelation that He was the Passover Lamb. Yet even as the people were to eat the Passover in the place where God had placed His name, so also were the people to eat of the true Passover Lamb by hearing His words and taking them to heart.
The only lawful place to eat of the Passover Lamb since Pentecost is in our minds (foreheads), the place where His name has now been written (Revelation 22:4). Those who continue to eat animals on Passover, whether in Jerusalem or at Jewish Seder celebrations, are still looking for another Messiah and have yet to eat the true Lamb of God by whom they may receive life.
As a final note, we must recognize from Exodus 12:19 that non-Israelites were also to participate in the Passover celebration. This is important, because in the rest of Deuteronomy 16, Moses tells us that the non-Israelites were allowed to participate in Pentecost and Tabernacles as well. (See verses 11 and 14.)
This law opens the path of justification, sanctification, and glorification to all men. This full salvation is not limited to Israelites alone, though it was first given as a revelation to Israel. This shows that non-Israelites may be justified by faith through Passover, filled with the Spirit through Pentecost, and may also receive an inheritance as co-heirs with Christ as overcomers through the feast of Tabernacles.
This is the seventeenth part of a series titled "Moses' Fourth Speech." To view all parts, click the link below.
Dr. Stephen Jones