A Study of
The Passover and
Feast of Unleavened Bread Observances

by
Felicia A. Trecek

There have been many questions raised concerning the observance of the Passover and the days of Unleavened Bread. To examine this more closely, we have collected many of the scriptures concerning Passover and the Festival of Unleavened Bread so we can view the subject with the hope of achieving a better understanding.
 

Let's begin by reviewing the beliefs of the Worldwide Church of God (WCG) and some of its offshoot organizations.

The outline of events are: On the evening beginning Abib 14 on the Hebrew calendar, baptized members assembled to observe the Passover, including the footwashing ceremony. When it ended, the members went home. The next morning, which was still Abib 14, people went about their personal business, going to work, cleaning the leavening out of their homes, etc. That evening at sundown, the beginning of Abib 15, all the way through the 21st, were seven full days of the Feast of Unleavened Bread. The last day, the 21st, was also a high Sabbath day.

When we were with the WCG, we all conformed to what we were taught, and what was expected of us. Since the break-up of the WCG, though, many controversial questions have been raised, such as:

1. What does the phrase "between the evenings" mean (i.e., Exodus 12:6)? Does it mean twilight, or toward the end of the day, or anytime between one sunset and the next?

2. Is the Passover day actually the same day as the first day of Unleavened Bread? What about the accounts in the gospels when they say "On the first day of Unleavened Bread, when they were slaughtering the Passover lamb"?

3. Why is the festival observed in two parts? There is a time period -- a gap -- between the Passover night and the first day of Unleavened Bread, when we still go about our daily business.

4. Did the Messiah die at the exact time that the physical slaughtering of the lambs was to take place, since He was sacrificed as God's Passover Lamb?

5. What does the last day of Unleavened Bread represent, since it is a high sabbath?

The Passover and days of Unleavened Bread are very meaningful commanded observances. The scriptures themselves contain many snippets of information regarding these observances. When we put scriptural information together, we will be able to find what these observances are all about and when they are to take place. We will do this by illuminating specific scriptures, reviewing word meanings and story events, and allowing scripture to interpret scripture, in order to find the answers to the questions posed, as well as form a better understanding of why we observe these important days and events.

WHEN IS THE PASSOVER OBSERVED?

In order to determine whether or not the Passover day and first day of Unleavened Bread are actually separate days, we need to examine the sequence of events and place the days in their specific time perimeters. First, what are the boundaries of a single day? A day starts at sundown and ends at the next sundown, as we can see in the beginning of creation (Genesis 1).

"And Elohim said, 'Let lights come to be in the expanse of the heavens to separate the day from the night, and let them be for signs and appointed times, and for days and years' ... And Elohim called the light 'day,' and the darkness He called 'night.' And there came to be evening and there came to be morning, the first day" (Genesis 1:14, 5, The Scriptures throughout [see the note at the end of this article regarding this translation]).

In the remaining days of the seven day creation week, you'll consistently find evening stated first, then morning. Yah establishes a day that begins at evening. The word "evening" has the same meaning as "sundown." For example, here is a scripture regarding the descendants of Aaron who might touch something unclean, and who would then be considered unclean for the remainder of the day: "The being who has touched it [whatever makes him unclean] shall be unclean until evening, and does not eat the set-apart offerings, but shall bathe his body in water. And when the sun goes down he shall be clean, and afterward eat the set-apart offerings, because it is his food" (Leviticus 22:6-7).

Now, when are we to begin Passover?

"In the first month, on the fourteenth day of the month, between the evenings, is the Passover to Yahweh" (Leviticus 23:5). No doubt here. Passover is on the 14th of Nisan.

When did Yah command the Passover to be sacrificed? On the fourteenth? It says, "between the evenings." Does this mean any time between one sundown to the next? Let's examine the scriptures.

"But at the place where Yahweh your Elohim chooses to make His name dwell, there you offer the Passover in the evening, at the going down of the sun, at the appointed time you came out of Mitsrayim [Egypt]" (Deuteronomy 16:6).

The Passover animal must be offered at sundown, when the sun sets from the horizon. The children of Israel could not have slaughtered the Passover animal before the sundown beginning the 14th, because to do so before sundown meant it would have been on the 13th! And if the Passover animal was to be offered at sundown at the end of the 14th day, then they would be eating the Passover on the 15th day!

We need to look further to find the meaning of the phrase "between the evenings." Unfortunately, the scriptures do not state plainly what it means. In order to find what it is, we'll need to begin by defining what it is not.

"It [the day of Atonement] is a Sabbath of rest to you, and you shall afflict your beings. On the ninth day of the month at evening, from evening to evening, you observe your Sabbath" (Leviticus 23:32).

It's interesting that this scripture does not say "between the evenings." If that is what had been intended, that's the phrase that would have been used. So, "between the evenings" does not mean "from sundown to sundown." Atonement was to be observed beginning with the evening starting the 10th day of the month, going through the 10th day, until the evening beginning the 11th.

In the account of the first Passover, the children of Israel were told to put the blood of the animal sacrifice on the lintels and doors of their homes (Exodus 12:7) before midnight in order for them to be "passed over" (verses 12-13).

"And it came to be at midnight that Yahweh smote all the firstborn in the land of Mitsrayim" (Exodus 12:29).

In verse 6, the Israelites were to keep the Passover lamb until the 14th day of the month, then kill it "between the evenings." In verse 8, they were to "eat the flesh on that night" -- on the 14th, at some point before the slaughter of the firstborn at midnight.

Consequently, we can see from scripture that "between the evenings" is some time between sundown on the fourteenth and midnight.

There is further evidence of this in 2 Chronicles chapters 34-35. Josiah, King of Judah, in the eighth year of his reign, began to purge the land of paganism. He gave orders to repair the House of Elohim. During the repairs, the high priest, Hilkiah, found the Book of the Teaching -- the Torah -- in the house of Yahweh. The Book of the Teaching was read to the king. After he heard the words contained in the book, Josiah tore his garments and wept. He then made all who were present in Jerusalem and Benjamin do according to the covenant with Elohim.

"And Yoshiyahu [Josiah] performed a Passover to Yahweh in Yerushalayim, and they slaughtered the Passover on the fourteenth day of the first month. And he set the priests in their duties and strengthened them for the service to the House of Yahweh, and said to the Lewites [Levites] ... "prepare by the fathers' houses, according to your divisions ... And slaughter the Passover offerings, and set yourselves apart, and prepare for your brothers, to do according to the word of Yahweh by the hand of Mosheh.' And Yoshiyahu gave the lay people lambs and young goats from the flock, all for Passover offerings for everyone present, to the number of thirty thousand, and three thousand cattle -- these were from the sovereign's possessions" (2 Chronicles 35:1-7).

As you read on until verse nine, you'll see that thousands more animals were volunteered by the leaders to the people, priests and Levites. Not all the animals were for the Passover offering itself, but for the sin offerings. Cattle, for example, were not to be used for the Passover sacrifice -- just sheep and goats (Exodus 12:5).

"And they slaughtered the Passover offerings. And the priests sprinkled out of their hands, while the Lewites were skinning. And they removed the burnt offerings, to give them to the divisions of the fathers' houses of the lay people, to bring to Yahweh, as it is written in the book of Mosheh, and the same with the cattle. So they roasted the Passover offerings with fire according to the right-ruling, and they boiled the set-apart offerings in pots, and in cauldrons, and in bowls, and brought them speedily to all the lay people. And afterward, they prepared for themselves and for the priests, because the priests, the sons of Aharon [Aaron], were offering burnt offerings and fat until night. So the Lewites prepared for themselves and for the priests, the sons of Aharon" (2 Chronicles 35:11-14).

Now, let's be logical. There were thousands and thousands of animals killed on this night. The priests performed their sacrificial duties while the Levites skinned the animals. The Levites gave the burnt offerings to the lay people. There had to be a lot of people. There is no way this could have been done within one minute of the going down of the sun. The sacrifices began at sundown and continued into the night. If they intended to be done before midnight they had to do it "speedily" because of the numerous amount of animals and people.

According to 2 Chronicles 35:1, all this was done on the 14th day. The only way that it was all accomplished on the 14th day, going into the night portion of the 14th, is to start at the evening beginning the 14th!

WHEN IS THE FIRST DAY OF UNLEAVENED BREAD?

We have determined that Passover is at the beginning of the 14th, and not at the end. When is the first day of Unleavened Bread? To find the answer to this question, let's review some of the story line events and some of the commandments from Yah.

"Let the lamb be a perfect one, a year old male. Take it from the sheep or the goats. And you shall keep it until the fourteenth day of the same month. Then all the assembly of the congregation of Yisrael shall kill it between the evenings. [Note: All the people were to kill the Passover, not just the Levites.] And they shall take some of the blood and put it on the two doorposts and on the lintel of the houses where they eat it. And they shall eat the flesh on that night, roasted in fire -- with unleavened bread and with bitter herbs they shall eat it" (Exodus 12:5-8). Notice again that they were commanded to eat the Passover with unleavened bread.

"'And I shall pass through the land of Mitsrayim on that night, and shall smite all the first-born in the land of Mitsrayim.' ... And it came to be at midnight that Yahweh smote all the first-born in the land of Mitsrayim, from the first-born of Pharaoh who sat on the throne to the first-born of the captive who was in the dungeon, and all the first-born of livestock" (verse 12, 29).

"And you shall take a bunch of hyssop, and dip it in the blood that is in the basin, and strike the lintel and the two doorposts with the blood that is in the basin, and you, none of you shall go out of the door of his house until morning" (verse 22). This would mean the morning of the 14th.

"And the people took their dough before it was leavened, having their kneading bowls bound up in their garments on their shoulders. [The Israelites were leaving Egypt in haste, without having the time to bake their bread. Also, they did not take leavening with them. The dough was unleavened.] ... And they baked unleavened cakes of the dough which they had brought out of Mitsrayim, for it was not leavened, since they were driven out of Mitsrayim, and had not been able to delay, nor had they prepared food for themselves" (verses 34, 39).

When the morning of the 14th came, they left their homes in Goshen and were on the move, traveling out of Egypt. They traveled from Goshen, where they lived, to Ramses, some distance away. They had to stop and camp somewhere else to bake their unleavened cakes, because one must stop to bake.

"And Mosheh wrote down the starting points of their departures at the command of Yahweh, and these are their departures according to their starting points: So they departed from Rameses in the first month, on the fifteenth day of the first month, on the morrow of the Passover the children of Yisrael went out with boldness before the eyes of all the Mitsrites, and the Mitsrites were burying all their first-born, whom Yahweh had smitten among them. Also on their mighty ones [the gods of Egypt] Yahweh had executed judgments. Then the children of Yisrael departed from Rameses and camped at Sukkoth" (Numbers 33:2-5). If one is to stop and set up camp, it is most likely toward nightfall. They probably baked their cakes at Sukkoth.

"And it came to be at the end of the four hundred and thirty years, on that same day it came to be that all the divisions of Yahweh went out from the land of Mitsrayim [the beginning of the 15th]. It is a night to be observed unto Yahweh for bringing them out of the land of Mitsrayim. This night is unto Yahweh, to be observed by all the children of Yisrael throughout their generations" (Exodus 12:41-42).

The word "morrow" in Numbers 33:3 shows that two days are being considered. The 15th is obviously the day after the 14th.

From the morning of the 14th day until that evening (the beginning of the 15th day), the children of Israel were traveling out of Egypt. They were in the process of coming out on the 14th day because it was that morning when they left their houses. They had not reached the location of "being out" of Egypt until the evening of the 15th. The 15th is a high Sabbath, a set-apart day representative of being out of Egypt.

"And on the fifteenth day of this month is the Festival of Unleavened Bread to Yahweh -- seven days you eat unleavened bread. [The count of seven days begins on the 15th day of the month.] On the first day you have a set-apart gathering, you do no servile work. And you shall bring an offering made by fire to Yahweh for seven days. On the seventh day is a set-apart gathering, you do no servile work" (Leviticus 23:6-8).

"Seven days you shall eat unleavened bread. Indeed on the first day you cause leaven to cease from your houses. For whoever eats leavened bread from the first day until the seventh day, that being shall be cut off from Yisrael. And on the first day is a set-apart gathering, and on the seventh day you have a set-apart gathering. No work at all is done on them, only that which is eaten by every being, that alone is prepared by you. And you shall guard the Festival of Unleavened Bread, for on this same day I brought your divisions out of the land of Mitsrayim. And you shall guard this day throughout your generations, an everlasting law" (Exodus 12:15-17).

They came out by divisions, about 600,000 people. It takes a little while to organize these divisions and travel out with families and livestock. Remember, they walked! (See Exodus 12:37.) And they were not to come out of their houses until morning! Then they had to travel from Goshen to Rameses in order to leave.

LEAVENING AND EGYPT

In Exodus 12:8, the children of Israel were commanded to eat unleavened bread with the Passover meal. However, there was no command to get rid of the leavening from their homes, either before Passover or on the day of Passover. Why? Because they were leaving their homes, leaving the leavening in Egypt! Leavening and Egypt have the same connotation in scripture, as we will see later.

The Israelites were not yet physically unleavened, because they were not yet out of Egypt. They started eating unleavened bread on the 14th, which denotes their leaving. It was the beginning, ritual process of leaving. The physical deleavening, and the total process of being out of Egypt, is commanded on the 15th day!

"For seven days no leaven is to be found in your houses, for if anyone eats what is leavened, that same being shall be cut off from the congregation of Yisrael, whether sojourner or native of the land" (Exodus 12:19).

THE MESSIANIC SCRIPTURES

Did the Messiah and His disciples commemorate the Passover separate from the first day of Unleavened Bread, in accordance with the old scriptures -- Moses' writings? The last meal Yahushua ate as a human was the Passover meal. It was a significant meal.

"And He said to them, 'With desire I have desired to eat this Passover with you before My suffering, for I say to you, I shall certainly not eat of it again until it is filled in the reign of Elohim'" (Luke 22:15-16).

If Yahushua our Messiah ate the Passover meal in the evening, then He was killed the next afternoon, it seems obvious that He did not die at the time of the evening ritual of the slaughtering of the lambs at the Temple, even though He was our Passover lamb (John 1:29; 1 Peter 1:18-19). If this is true, there needs to be an explanation for the following scriptures:

"And on the first day of Unleavened Bread the taught ones came to Yahushua, saying to Him, 'Where do You wish us to prepare for You to eat the Passover?'" (Matthew 26:17).

"And on the first day of Unleavened Bread, when they were slaughtering the Passover lamb, His taught ones said to Him, 'Where do you wish us to go and prepare for You to eat the Passover?'" (Mark 14:12).

"And the Day of Unleavened Bread came when the Passover had to be slaughtered. And He sent Kepha and Yohanan [Peter and John], saying, 'Go and prepare the Passover for us to eat'" (Luke 22:7-8).

Why does it say "the first day of Unleavened Bread"? The word "day" is italicized in the book of Matthew, both in the King James Version and in The Scriptures, because the word was added by the translators, and not found in the original writings. The other two gospel accounts are worded so that the references to Unleavened Bread and the Passover seemed to be happening simultaneously. During this time in history, the Jews were interchanging the names of the commanded days. Why?

During the time of the Jewish exile to Babylon (beginning about 537 B.C.), some of the Jews began to keep the two as a combined observance. We won't take the time to elaborate on the historical events, but this custom of referring to the entire period from Passover through the days of Unleavened Bread by the one name continued into the time of the Messiah. We can see this in Luke 22:1: "And the Festival of Unleavened Bread drew near, which is called Passover." This verse shows the interchanging of names between the two observances. In Mark 14:1, however, the two observances are mentioned as being separate.

The children of Israel were commanded to eat unleavened bread with the Passover meal (on Nisan 14). Then they were commanded to eat unleavened bread for a seven day period, commencing with the first day of Unleavened Bread (Nisan 15). Some have felt that this meant the Passover was the high Sabbath of the 15th. However, scripture doesn't support this idea.

For example, after the Messiah was dead on the cross, Joseph of Arimathea came to get the body. This was on the preparation day of the high Sabbath, the day of Passover. "And when evening had come, because it was the Preparation Day, that is, the day before the Sabbath, Yoseph of Ramathayim, a prominent council member, who was himself waiting for the reign of Elohim, came, boldly went in to Pilate and asked for the body of Yahushua" (Mark 15:42-43).

"And taking it down, he wrapped it in linen, and laid it in a tomb hewn out of the rock, where no one was yet laid. And it was the Preparation day, and the Sabbath was approaching" (Luke 23:53-54).

"There, then, because of the Preparation Day of the Yehudim, they laid Yahushua, because the tomb was near" (John 19:42).

These verses only state that a Sabbath was approaching. Most people reading these verses have thought it was the weekly Sabbath. But another verse shows us that it was the high annual Sabbath, the first day of Unleavened Bread:

"Therefore, since it was the Preparation Day, that the bodies should not remain on the stake on the Sabbath -- for that Sabbath was a high one -- the Yehudim asked Pilate to have their legs broken, and that they be taken away" (John 19:31).

As we read through the sequence of events on the night in which He was betrayed, we see a 24-hour period of time from Messiah's Passover meal to the beginning of the first day of Unleavened Bread, the high Sabbath.

After the Passover meal, Messiah went out to the Mount of Olives, where He asked His disciples to stay awake and pray with Him. They could not, but fell asleep. Yahushua prayed to the Father, asking for this cup to be taken from Him. It was not. (Luke 22:39-46)

The chief priests, scribes, elders and a large crowd came to seize Yahushua. They brought Him to the house of the high priest. The Messiah was at the home of the high priest for several hours, where they accused Him of blasphemy and beat Him (verses 47-65). When daybreak came, the elders led the Messiah to their council (verse 66; Mark 15:1). After the council, they led Him to Pilate (Luke 23:1). Pilate questioned Yahushua, then sent Him to Herod in Jerusalem. The soldiers mocked Him and the chief priests accused Him intensely. Yahushua stood and said nothing. Herod sent Him back to Pilate (Luke 23:7-11). Pilate called the elders and priests together to tell them he found no fault with Yahushua. Afterward, Pilate had Him "disciplined" (Luke 23:13-17). When Pilate wanted to release Yahushua, the people cried out, "Away with this One, and release to us Barraba!" Pilate appealed to the people several times to let Him go, but to no avail (verses 18-25).

Yahushua was led away where He was beaten and flogged (Mark 15:16-20). Afterward, they led Him out to Golgotha to be crucified. Simon the Cyrene helped Yahushua bear His stake. At the third hour, they crucified Him (verses 21-25).

While Yahushua was on the stake, the chief priests and scribes mocked Him. And when the sixth hour had come, darkness came over all the land until the ninth hour, when Yahushua cried out and died (verses 26-39).

Yahushua was hung about the third hour, and died around the ninth hour. He was on the stake for six hours. He died before sunset, before the High Sabbath day, and was put in the grave right before sunset on the beginning of the first day of Unleavened Bread (verses 42-46).

THE CONNOTATIONS AND MEANING OF EGYPT

The Israelites were enslaved by the Egyptians. Egypt represents slavery and bondage. "And Mosheh said to the people, 'Remember this day in which you went out of Mitsrayim, out of the house of slavery. For by strength of hand Yahweh brought you out of this place, and whatever is leavened shall not be eaten. ... And it shall be, when your son asks you in time to come, saying, "What is this?" then you shall say to him, "By strength of hand Yahweh brought us out of Mitsrayim, out of the house of bondage"'" (Exodus 13:3, 14).

Sinners are under slavery and bondage. "Yahushua answered them, 'Truly, truly, I say to you, everyone doing sin is a servant of sin" (John 8:34). Rather than overcoming sin, those who are overcome by sin are slaves to sin, for "one is a slave to whatever overcomes him" (2 Peter 2:19). The Messiah came so that we might be freed from our slavery to sin. "In the freedom with which Messiah has made us free, stand firm, then, and do not again be held with a yoke of slavery" (Galatians 5:1).

Leaven represents sin. "Therefore cleanse out the old leaven, so that you are a new lump, as you are unleavened. For also Messiah our Passover was offered for us" (1 Corinthians 5:7). We are to be unleavened, as the Festival of Unleavened Bread pictures. "So then let us observe the festival, not with old leaven, nor with the leaven of evil and wickedness, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth" (verse 8).

Sin can grow like leaven. "A little leaven leavens all the lump" (Galatians 5:9). A little sin grows to bigger sins and saturates the whole person, as yeast saturates the entire lump of bread dough.

Sin, by definition, is lawlessness. "Everyone doing sin also does lawlessness, and sin is lawlessness" (1 John 3:4).

Since Egypt represents slavery, bondage and sin (lawlessness), Yah will not have a set-apart day unto Himself with people until they come out of all these things. Yah Himself is set-apart. Much like oil and water, being in bondage to sin and being free from sin don't mix, and sinful mankind does not mix with Yah at all!

"For I am Yahweh your Elohim, and you shall set yourselves apart. And you shall be set-apart, for I am set-apart ... For I am Yahweh who is bringing you up out of the land of Mitsrayim, to be your Elohim. And you shall be set-apart, for I am set-apart" (Leviticus 11:44-45).

It's interesting to note that, at the time Yah is speaking to the people here in Leviticus, He has already physically brought the people out of Egypt. The exodus from Egypt has already happened! This scripture indicates He was still in the process of bringing the people out. He wanted them to continue to strive to be set-apart, to follow His ways and His laws. It is a process that can't be done overnight.

If we are to live in sincerity and truth, we need to know what it is! What is truth? Pilate asked the same question of the Messiah (John 18:37-38). The dictionary definition of "truth" is "reality"! We can't, in truth, live a lie or live in a misconception of reality. Reality is simply what is real -- what is and what will be -- not what we think or what we make up in our lives. If we are to know what real life is, then we need to listen to our Creator, who tells us what is and what will be in the future.

A REST FROM SLAVERY AND BONDAGE

When one is in slavery, under bondage, there is no rest. Yah wants us to have happiness and rest, and not be under the yoke of sin that brings hurt on ourselves and others. The promised land represented and typified a rest, a set-apart place for His set-apart people. The original Israelites who came out of Egypt did not enter that rest because they rejected Yah, by rejecting His commandments. They could not enter the promised land because of their unbelief (Hebrews 3:7-18).

The offspring of the original Israelites did enter the promised land. The time of entry into this place of rest was the first day of Unleavened Bread. The Israelites ate the Passover, and afterward, on the beginning of the 15th day of the month, they entered in, and were allowed to eat of the food. Yah rolled the reproach (the blame, or fault) from the Israelites just before they entered the promised land.

"And Yahweh said to Yehoshua [Joshua], 'Today I have rolled away the reproach of Mitsrayim from you.' So the name of the place is called Gilgal ["Rolling"] to this day. And the children of Yisrael camped in Gilgal, and performed the Passover on the fourteenth day of the month at evening on the desert plains of Yeriho [Jericho]. And they ate of the stored grain of the land on the morrow after the Passover, unleavened bread and roasted grain on this same day. And the manna ceased on the day after they had eaten the stored grain of the land. And the children of Yisrael no longer had manna, but they ate the food of the land of Kenaan [Canaan] that year" (Joshua 5:9-12).

The land represented a rest, and the first day of Unleavened Bread is a commanded High Sabbath rest day. The first day of Unleavened Bread represents a rest for us now, in the present time, during which we may have a set-apart time with our Creator. Yahushua gave us that rest, the rest from sin, when He died. He became our sin offering, and we have been set-apart as a result, redeemed from lawlessness (John 1:29; 2 Corinthians 5:21; Hebrews 10:5-10; Titus 2:13-14).

Our sins were buried when our Messiah was put into the grave, right before the High Sabbath, the first day of Unleavened Bread.

We may have rest in the Messiah if we believe. The yoke of slavery was lifted from us, along with the penalty of sin and disobedience, which is death, an everlasting death (Hebrews 2:14-15; 9:15-20).

SCRIPTURE SPEAKS OF ANOTHER REST

"Therefore, since a promise remains of entering into His rest, let us fear lest any of you seem to have come short of it. ... Since then it remains for some to enter into it, and those who formerly received the Good News did not enter in because of disobedience [Yah preached the Good News to the Israelites in the first covenant!], He again defines a certain day, 'Today,' saying through Dawid [King David] so much later, as it has been said, 'Today, if you hear His voice, do not harden your hearts.' For if Yehoshua [Joshua] had given them rest, He would not have spoken of another day after that. So there remains a Sabbath-keeping for the people of Elohim" (Hebrews 4:1, 6-9).

The Greek word in verse 9 is sabbatismos, which simply means Sabbath-keeping.

"For somewhere He has said thus about the seventh day, 'And Elohim rested on the seventh day from all His works'" (Verse 4, referencing Genesis 2:2).

The seventh-day Sabbath is a sign of a future rest, as well as symbolic of the past rest. "And you shall remember that you were a slave in the land of Mitsrayim, and that Yahweh your Elohim brought you out from there by a strong hand and by an outstretched arm. Therefore Yahweh your Elohim commanded you to observe the Sabbath day" (Deuteronomy 5:15).

The Messiah and our Father want to give us freedom from slavery (sin) and give us rest by Messiah's resurrection!

THE SIGN OF JONAH!

Our Messiah rose from the grave on the seventh-day Sabbath. We know this because of the sign of Jonah (Matthew 12:38-40).

Yahushua was in the grave for three days and three nights, 72 hours, from the sundown which began the 15th day of the month. Mary of Magdala and Mary the mother of Joseph saw where the Messiah was laid (Luke 23:55; Mark 15:47). They were to rest on the high Sabbath day (which fell on Wednesday night and Thursday) and not buy, sell or trade, according to the law, so they had to wait in order to purchase and prepare the spices and perfumes until after the first day of Unleavened Bread. Then, after they had prepared the spices, they rested again, this time on the weekly Sabbath (Luke 23:56).

The two Marys and Salome came to the tomb, where the Messiah had been laid to rest, at dawn on the first day of the week (Mark 16:1-2), but He was not found (Luke 24:1-3). The Messiah had already risen!

The three day and three night scenario is this: The first evening is the beginning of the first day of Unleavened Bread. The next evening completes one 24-hour day. The second 24-hour period of time consists of one night and one day. The third 24-hour period is the seventh-day Sabbath. Recall that the Messiah was put into the ground right before sunset. He had to rise right before sunset, before the Sabbath ended, to fulfill the requirement He had set -- three days and three nights -- when He referred to the sign of Jonah!

Because He is alive, we also have life, and are no longer under the death penalty (Romans 6:7-13). "But Elohim proves His own love for us, in that while we were still sinners, Messiah died for us. Much more then, having been declared right by His blood, we shall be saved from wrath through Him. For if, being enemies, we were restored to favour with Elohim through the death of His Son, much more, having been restored to favour, we shall be saved by His life" (Romans 5:9-11)! "For we who have believed do enter into that rest" (Hebrews 4:3)!

THE FUTURE REST

We still live in a world filled with sin and lawlessness. The Israelites of the past were to be a set-apart nation that reaped blessings and joy, the benefits of following Yah's ways and laws (Deuteronomy 7:12-15). They were to be His example nation to other nations. But, as history and the scriptures show, they wanted to do what they wanted to do, time and time again, and rejected Yah's ways (Exodus 16:28; Acts 7:37-40). The covenant -- the contract -- was broken with the Israelites, because they did not hold to their part of the agreement. "He is also Mediator of a better covenant, which was constituted on better promises. ... He says, 'See, the days are coming,' says Yahweh, 'when I shall conclude with the house of Yisrael and with the house of Yehudah a renewed covenant ... Because this is the covenant that I shall make with the house of Yisrael after those days, says Yahweh, giving My laws in their mind, and I shall write them on their hearts, and I shall be their Elohim, and they shall be My people'" (Hebrews 8:6-10).

Yah is pretty adamant about people keeping His laws. We must have belief and obey His commandments, as He had wanted the Israelites to do anciently, if we are to enter into this future rest.

"And they shall by no means teach each one his neighbour, and each one his brother, saying, 'Know Yahweh,' because they all shall know Me, from the least of them to the greatest of them" (verse 11).

Our Creator ultimately wants everyone to be able to come under the New Covenant, not just one singled-out nation. This will be the ultimate rest -- a joyful world at peace, united with their Creator. The last day of Unleavened Bread, the second set-apart day unto Yah in the festival week, represents the future rest. It is the seventh day in the sequence of festival days, just as the weekly Sabbath is the seventh day of the creation, the one in which Yah rested (Genesis 2:1-2). And, like the seventh-day Sabbath, the seventh-day Festival also pictures the rest still in the future, the Millennial reign of Yahushua on earth!

"Instead of your shame and reproach, they rejoice a second time in their portion. Therefore they take possession a second time in their land, everlasting joy is theirs. ... And I shall give their reward in truth, and make an everlasting covenant with them" (Isaiah 61:7-8).

Yah is revealing the Good News of this time to come, when He will release the captives that are in bondage, "to proclaim the acceptable year of Yahweh, and the day of vengeance of our Elohim, to comfort all who mourn" (Isaiah 61:2).

Before this time of rest is ushered in, Yah will bring His wrath on the sons of disobedience (Colossians 3:6). He will plague the people again (Revelation chapters 8 and 9; 11:3-6). Following the time of the wrath of Yah, when He deals with the disobedient, the Messiah will return the second time, set apart from sin (Hebrews 9:28). Yah will create a new heaven and a new earth (Isaiah 65:17). A man will complete his days (verse 20). The wolf and lamb will feed together, lions will eat straw, and snakes will eat dust! No evil shall be done (verse 25). The people will rebuild cities, the wastes of many former generations (Isaiah 61:4). The renewed covenant is, in reality, a marriage contract (Isaiah 62:4-5; Revelation 19:6-9).

"See, Yahweh has proclaimed to the end of the earth: 'Say to the daughter of Tsiyon [Zion], "See, your deliverance has come; see, His reward is with Him, and His work before Him."' And they shall be called, 'The Set-apart People, the Redeemed of Yahweh.' And you shall be called, 'Sought Out, a City Not Forsaken'" (Isaiah 62:11-12)!

tW

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If you would be interested in obtaining a copy of The Scriptures, the Bible translation used throughout this article, you may contact the U.S. office of the publisher at: Institute for Scripture Research, 545 Newport Ave., #151, Pawtucket, RI 02861. They can give you information regarding a donation to cover the cost of printing, and shipping charges.
 

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