Jesus in the Festivals of Leviticus Twenty-Three

Jesus in the Festivals of Leviticus Twenty-Three

Calvin Lashway

July 2010

For Christians the biblical festivals of Leviticus 23 are rich in meaning and understanding. The apostle Paul describes the festivals as a shadow, with Jesus being the body or substance casting the shadow (Colossians 2:16-17). In this article we will examine Jesus’ crucial role as the body, behind the shadow of the festivals.   

The Sabbath (Leviticus 23:2-3)

The Sabbath is one of the festivals of Leviticus 23. Instead of being yearly, it’s a weekly festival; reminding us that Jesus is the Lord of the Sabbath, who brings us spiritual rest and liberation.

Lord of the Sabbath

The weekly Sabbath is a reminder pointing to the divine creation of the heavens and the earth. The fourth commandment tells us to: “Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. . . . For in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested the seventh day. Therefore the LORD blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy” (Exodus 20:8-11 All scriptures quoted are from the English Standard Version, unless otherwise stated). We see Jesus in the Sabbath, because as “lord of the Sabbath,” he created it (Matthew 12:8; Mark 2:28; Luke 6:5). Scripture teaches the Father created all things through Jesus (John 1:1-3, 10; 1 Corinthians 8:6; Ephesians 3:9 [King James Version]; Colossians 1:15-17; Hebrews 1:1-2, 10). He is the one who said “Let there be light" (Genesis 1:3), and on the seventh day rested: "And on the seventh day God finished his work that he had done, and he rested on the seventh day from all his work that he had done. So God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it God rested from all his work that he had done in creation" (Genesis 2:2-3). 


Fundamental to observing the Sabbath is physically resting from work every seven days: “Six days shall work be done, but on the seventh day is a Sabbath of solemn rest, a holy convocation. You shall do no work. It is a Sabbath to the LORD in all your dwelling places” (Leviticus 23:3). We see Jesus in the Sabbath because true spiritual rest comes through him. The apostle Matthew records Jesus saying, “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light” (Matthew 11:28-30). Then Matthew goes on to explain how the proper observance of the Sabbath, as a day of rest, typifies the rest Jesus gives us (Matthew 12:1-14).  The Bible speaks of a rest the followers God can enjoy in this life now (Psalm 37:7 [King James Version]; 116:7; Isaiah 30:15; Jeremiah 6:16), a rest that comes from Jesus. 

The  rest of the  weekly Sabbath provides us with  a foretaste of the coming rest of  the  Kingdom of God (Hebrews 4:1-11; Isaiah 14:1-7; 32:12-20; Jeremiah 31:1-6;  46:27-28 [King James Version]). A rest Jesus brings when he returns. Paul, writing about this future rest says, may you  “be counted worthy of the kingdom of God, for which you also suffer; since it is a righteous thing with God to repay with tribulation those who trouble you,  and to give you who are troubled rest with us when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven with His mighty angels, . . . when He comes, in that Day, to be glorified in His saints and to be admired among all those who believe, because our testimony among you was believed" (2 Thessalonians 1:5-10 New King James Version).


Deuteronomy chapter 5, records Moses reiterating the Ten Commandments God originally gave to Israel on Mount Sinai forty years earlier. This rendering of the fourth commandment is a little different. In Exodus 20 God tells Israel to remember the Sabbath because he created the heavens and earth in six days and rested on the seventh.  In Deuteronomy Moses tells Israel to: “Observe the Sabbath day, to keep it holy, as the LORD your God commanded you. . . . You shall remember that you were a slave in the land of Egypt, and the LORD your God brought you out from there with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm. Therefore the LORD your God commanded you to keep the Sabbath day” (Deuteronomy 5:12-15). The basis for Sabbath observance in Deuteronomy is God's act of delivering Israel from Egyptian slavery. Under the old covenant, the Sabbath became a weekly reminder of this liberation.

Jesus' ministry begins on a Sabbath day with his declaration that he came, “To proclaim liberty to the captives . . . to set at liberty those who are oppressed" (Luke 4:16-21). Jesus is speaking about the spiritual liberty he brings to those who are slaves to sin (John 8:34), which includes all mankind (Romans 3:9-18). We have freedom from our bondage to sin through his sacrifice (Romans 6:1-8, 17-23). The Sabbath is a weekly reminder of our deliverance from the slavery of sin, and Jesus' role as our liberator. 

The Passover (Leviticus 23:5)

We see Jesus in the Passover by his role as the true Passover lamb, with the bread and wine symbolizing his body and blood. In addition, the act of foot washing reminds us that Jesus’ cleanses us from our sins.

Our Passover

Jesus is “the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!” (John 1:29, also see John 1:36 and 1 Peter 1:18-19). As our Passover sacrifice (1 Corinthians 5:7-8; Exodus 12:5-6, 11, 21, 27), Jesus makes possible the forgiveness of our sins.  The bread and wine of the Passover represent his body and blood (Matthew 26:26-28). The bread symbolizes Jesus carrying on his body all our sins, sufferings, sicknesses and sorrows (Luke 22:19; Isaiah 52:13-53:12; Matthew 8:16-17; 1 Peter 2:21-25; John 6:32-35, 47-58). The wine is a symbol of Jesus’ blood poured out for the forgiveness of our sins (Matthew 26:27-28; 1 John 1:7-9; Hebrews 9:11-15; Ephesians 1:7).

Washed by Jesus

During his final Passover, Jesus washes his disciples’ feet. Telling them to follow his example in the future by washing one another’s feet (John 13:1-15). One of the meanings of foot washing is a reminder of our baptism, and that Jesus has spiritually washed us of our sins (John 13:8; Acts 22:16; 1 Corinthians 6:9-11; Hebrews 10:19-22).


The Feast of Unleavened Bread (Leviticus 23:6-14)

We see Jesus in the Feast of Unleavened Bread by our eating of unleavened bread, which pictures his role as the Bread of Life. This festival is also a reminder of his resurrection and its importance to our salvation.

Bread of Life

God specifically commands his people to eat unleavened bread during the seven-day festival (Leviticus 23:6; 1 Corinthians 5:8). Eating unleavened bread is a reminder that as the “Bread of Life” Jesus now lives in us (John 6:48-58; Romans 8:9-11; Galatians 2:20). 


Jesus' resurrection occurred during the Feast of Unleavened Bread. His death reconciles us to God, but according to Paul, it’s the life of the resurrected Jesus who saves us:  “For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life” (Romans 5:10). Paul also writes in defending the doctrine of the resurrection of the dead, that “if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins” (1 Corinthians 15:17). We are still in our sins, if there is no resurrected Jesus to intercede for us before the Father in the heavenly sanctuary (Hebrews 9:11-14, 23-2).


On the Sunday occurring during the Feast of Unleavened Bread the Israelites made a special offering called the wave sheaf. On this day the high priest would wave a sheaf of the firstfruits of the barely harvest before God. This was the first sheaf of grain harvested during the spring harvest season (Leviticus 23:9-14). 

On the morning of the wave sheaf offering, the Sunday following Jesus’ death, during the Feast of Unleavened Bread.  Mary Magdalene came to Jesus’ tomb and found it empty (John 20:1-2). Jesus had already risen and left his tomb before the close of the weekly Sabbath.1  Sometime later on Sunday, Jesus appears to Mary, who was the first person Jesus showed himself to after his resurrection (Mark 16:9). In her excitement at seeing Jesus, Mary reaches out to hug him. But Jesus tells her not to touch him because he hadn't yet ascended to the Father in heaven (John 20:11-18). After Jesus’ meeting with Mary Magdalene, he appears to the other women who had gone to the tomb with her (Mark 16:1-2; Luke 23:55-24:1), allowing them to touch him (Matthew 28:5, 8-9).

This indicates that some time between Jesus’ meeting with Mary (John 20:17) and the meeting with the other women (Matthew 28:9), he ascended to the Father in heaven. All this happened on the day of the wave sheaf offering, during the Feast of Unleavened Bread. On the same day the High Priest waved a sheaf of firstfruits before God. Jesus having risen “from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep" (1 Corinthians 15:20; also see Colossians 1:18; Acts 26:23). Ascended to heaven as the first person resurrected to eternal life.  Jesus is the firstfruits of those resurrected from the dead, with those belonging to him resurrected at his second coming (1 Corinthians 15:20-23, 50-55; 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18). 

As the Passover lamb represents the slain Jesus. The wave sheaf offering represents the resurrected Jesus rising to heaven, as the firstfruits of many more raised from the dead. Wave sheaf Sunday doesn’t picture Jesus’ resurrection, but his ascension to heaven.

Feast of Weeks (Leviticus 23:15-22)

We see Jesus in the Feast of Weeks, known as Pentecost in the New Testament (Acts 2:1), because through him, God gives us the Holy Spirit. This festival also shows us Jesus’ role in resurrecting the dead in Christ. As well as   portraying the future marriage of Jesus and the Church. 

Giver of the Holy Spirit

John the Baptist said that he baptized the people with water, but the coming Messiah (Jesus of Nazareth) would baptize them with Holy Spirit (Luke 3:15-16). Before Jesus' ascension to heaven from the Mount of Olives, he told the disciples to stay in Jerusalem until they received the baptism of the Spirit (Acts 1:1-9; 11:16). An event happening ten days later, on the Day of Pentecost (Acts 2:1-4, 12-21). On this festival, Jesus sent the Holy Spirit to his followers (Luke 24:49-53; John 14:16-17; John 15:26; John 16:7; Acts 2:33). Pentecost is a reminder that we receive the Spirit and the power that goes with it from Jesus. 

Harvester of the Firstfruits

The firstfruits of the wheat harvest is a major theme of Pentecost in the Old Testament (Leviticus 23:15-17, 20). With one of the names of this festival being, "the day of the firstfruits," (Numbers 28:26).  We see Jesus’ role in Pentecost as the reaper or harvester of God's firstfruits. Scripture refers to Christians as the firstfruits of God, because we have the firstfruits of the Holy Spirit (Romans 8:22-23; James 1:18). 

Another name for this festival in the Old Testament is the “Feast of the Harvest" (Exodus 23:15-16). The Bible uses the theme of harvesting to picture the resurrection of the righteous. Which happens at Jesus' seconding coming, also known as   "the end of the age" (Matthew 13:24-30, 36-43; 24:3, 29-31; 1 Thessalonians 4:13-17 New American Standard Bible).

We find the themes of firstfruits, harvesting and reaping in Revelation 14. Standing on Mount Zion with the Lamb (Jesus) are 144,000 “firstfruits for God and the Lamb” (Revelation 14:1-5). These 144,000 represent resurrected saints. In verses 14-16 "one like a son of man" who has "a golden crown on his head," swings his sickle, and reaps the earth "for the harvest of the earth is fully ripe.” This is a reference to Jesus resurrecting the righteous at his second coming. As we will see, Pentecost isn’t the only festival showing Jesus’ role in the resurrection of the saints. 


Marriage is another theme of the Feast of Weeks. The established of the old covenant at Mount Sinai happened on or around the time of this festival (Exodus 19:1, 5-11, 16-17; 20:1-2, 22; 24:3-8). Israel arrived at Mount Sinai in the third month of the sacred calendar. The observance of the Feast of Weeks happens during the month of Sivan, almost fifty days after Passover (Leviticus 23:9-22). This was a marriage agreement between God and Israel (Jeremiah 2:1-3; 31:31-32; Ezekiel 16:8-14). 

On the first Christian Pentecost, the Holy Spirit filled Jesus' disciples (Acts 2:1-21). One could say this is the engagement of Jesus and the Church. The Church now engaged to Jesus (2 Corinthians 11:1-2), will marry him at his returns (Revelation 19:5-10). The seven-week period between Passover and Pentecost pictures the betrothal period, the time between Jesus’ first and second coming. During this time, the Church becomes ready. The Church does its part (verses 7-8), and Jesus does his in making the bride ready (Ephesians 5:25-27). We see Jesus’ role in the Feast Weeks as the groom who will marry his bride the Church at his return. Pentecost pictures the future marriage of Jesus and the Church. 

We see this theme of marriage and Pentecost in the book of Ruth. The events of Ruth happen during the seven-week period leading up to Pentecost during the barely and wheat harvests (Ruth 1:22; 2:1-3, 5-9, 21-23). When the widows Ruth, and Naomi her mother-in-law, come to live in Bethlehem, they are destitute. According to the Law, the poor can glean leftover grain from harvested fields (Leviticus 19:9-10; Deuteronomy 24:19-22). Ruth ends up gleaning in the fields of Boaz, a relative of Naomi’s late husband, and later marries him. When putting this information together with the future marriage of Jesus and the Church at his second coming, we see Boaz as a type of Jesus and Ruth as a type of the Church.  

The Feast of Trumpets (Leviticus 23:23-25)

We see Jesus in the Feast of Trumpets, because of this festival’s association with his second coming.

Second Coming  

In Leviticus 23:24-25 we find a description of the Feast of Trumpets: "Speak to the people of Israel, saying, In the seventh month, on the first day of the month, you shall observe a day of solemn rest, a memorial proclaimed with blast of trumpets, a holy convocation. You shall not do any ordinary work, and you shall present a food offering to the LORD." There isn't much information in these verses about the meaning of this festival. By studying scriptural references to the word “trumpet,” we gain a deeper insight into this festival's meaning. A major focus of this festival are the events surrounding Jesus' second coming. This happens with “a loud trumpet call” (Matthew 24:30-31), which is “the trumpet of God” (1 Thessalonians 4:14-17). Also know as the seventh trumpet (Revelation 11:15-18), or “the last trumpet” (1 Corinthians 15:51-52) in a series of seven trumpets found in the book of Revelation (Revelation 8:1-9:21, 11:15-18).


This seventh trumpet announces Jesus’ return with “loud voices in heaven, saying, ‘The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Christ, and he shall reign forever and ever.’ And the twenty-four elders who sit on their thrones before God fell on their faces and worshiped God, saying. . . . ‘for you have taken your great power and begun to reign.’” (Revelation 11:15-17). The Feast of Trumpets looks forward to Jesus' second coming as a conquering King who establishes his reign over the nations of earth (Daniel 7:13-14; Luke 21:27, 31; Revelation 19:11, 16; 20:4).


Earlier when discussing   Jesus in Pentecost, we saw the role he plays in resurrecting the saints, as the harvester of the first fruits. But, we also associate the Feast of Trumpets with the resurrection because at the sound of “the trumpet of God"  "the dead in Christ will rise first," followed by those saints still living when Jesus returns. Together both groups will rise to "to meet the Lord in the air" (1 Thessalonians 4:13-18). As Jesus is returning "he will send out his angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other” (Matthew 24:30-31).  Paul writes that,   “flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable. Behold! I tell you a mystery. We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed. For this perishable body must put on the imperishable, and this mortal body must put on immortality” (1 Corinthians 15:50-53).  Speaking of the coming resurrection and his part in it, Jesus said: “Truly, truly, I say to you, an hour is coming, and is now here, when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God, and those who hear will live. . . . for an hour is coming when all who are in the tombs will hear his voice and come out, those who have done good to the resurrection of life, . . . (John 5:25, 28-29). The Feast of Trumpets not only teaches us about the resurrection, but Jesus’ role in it. 


The Feast of Trumpets points towards Jesus' future work of salvation. Salvation comes through Jesus (1 Thessalonians 5:9), and is a past event (Ephesians 2:1-9); a present experience (1 Corinthians 1:18), and a future condition (Romans 5:8-10). This future salvation begins at Jesus’ second coming with the Kingdom of God’s establishment on earth (Hebrew 9:28; Revelation 12:10). 

The Day of Atonement (Leviticus 23:26-32; 16:1-34)

We see Jesus in the Day of Atonement through his role as our High Priest in the heavenly sanctuary, and as the atoning sacrifice who bears our sins.  

High Priest

Only on the Day of Atonement could the old covenant high priest entered the sanctuary’s holy place  (Leviticus 16:2-4, 12-16, 29-34; Hebrews 9:1-7). The high priest, is a type of Jesus who is now the true High Priest in heaven (Hebrews 2:17). As High Priest, Jesus entered the true holy place in heaven, to offer his blood for mankind’s redemption (Ephesians 1:7; Hebrews 9:11-14, 23-28).

Two Goats

On the Day of Atonement in the Old Testament, two goats taken "from the congregation of the people of Israel"  had lots cast for them, with one goat chosen "for the LORD,” the other "for Azazel," or “the scapegoat” (King James Version). The high priest slays the LORD’s goat, using its blood to make “atonement for himself and for his house and for all the assembly of Israel” (Leviticus 16:5, 8-9, 15-19). This goat represents Jesus, whose blood brings atonement for sin. The apostle Paul says that we “are now justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as a sacrifice of atonement by his blood, effective through faith” (Romans 3:24-25 New Revised Standard  Version). The apostle John writes something similar: “The blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin. . . .  and he is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world. . . .  In this is love, not that we loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the atoning sacrifice for our sins” (1 John 1:7; 2:2; 4:10 New Revised Standard  Version).

Just as the LORD's goat is used to make atonement, so is the Azazel or scapegoat used "to make atonement" (Leviticus 16:10). This scapegoat symbolizes Jesus who as we have seen makes atonement for our sins. The scapegoat shows us that making atonement includes more then just death and the shedding of blood. It includes bearing the sins of the people (Leviticus 16:20-22), just as Jesus bore our sins when crucified (1 Peter 2:24; Hebrews 9:28; Isaiah 53:4, 6, 11-12). As the scapegoat, sent away in the wilderness removes the sins of the Israel, so Jesus takes away our sins (1 John 3:5; John 1:29).2

The Feast of Tabernacles (Leviticus 23:33-36, 39-43)

We see Jesus in the Feast of Tabernacles through his tabernacling with mankind in the past, in the present and in the future.

Tabernacling in Flesh 

The Feast of Tabernacles reminds us that Jesus came to earth and "tabernacled among us” in human flesh (John 1:14 Green Literal Translation; Philippians 2:5-8; Hebrews 2:14-17). The Greek word translated in John 1:14 as "tabernacled" is skenoo (4637) “to pitch a tent . . . to tabernacle” (Vine’s Expository Dictionary of Biblical Words). The Bible refers to the human body as a tabernacle or tent. The apostle Peter says,  "But I deem it right, so long as I am in this tabernacle (skenoma, 4638, “’a booth,’ or ‘tent pitched,’” Vine’s), to stir you up by a reminder, knowing that the putting off of my tabernacle (skenoma) is soon, as indeed our Lord Jesus Christ made clear to me" (2 Peter 1:13-14 Green Literal Translation).  Paul adds, "For we know that if our earthly house of this tabernacle (skene, 4633, “a tent, booth, tabernacle,” Vines’s) is taken down, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in Heaven. For indeed in this we groan, greatly desiring to be clothed with our dwelling place out of Heaven, if indeed in being clothed, we shall not be found naked. For indeed, being in the tabernacle (skenos, 4636, “the equivalent of” skene, Vine’s), we groan, having been weighted down, inasmuch as we do not wish to be unclothed, but to be clothed, so that the mortal may be swallowed up by the life” (2 Corinthians 5:1-4 Green Literal Translation). Because of his human birth, Jesus shared in this same tabernacle of flesh.

Tabernacling with Us

The Feast of Tabernacles helps us to remember that Jesus and the Father tabernacle or dwell in us now through the Holy Spirit (John 14:23; Romans 8:9-11; Galatians 2:20; 1 John 4:12-16). At Jesus’ second coming, he will return to earth and tabernacles with mankind for a thousand years (Zechariah 2:10-11; 8:3; Revelation 20:4-6). After the thousand years, God the Father will join Jesus on earth and both will dwell or tabernacle with mankind for eternity (Revelation 21:1-3, 22-23; 22:1-5).

The Eighth Day Assembly or the Last Great Day (Leviticus 23:36, 39; John 7:37-39)

In the Old Testament, the Eighth Day Assembly (Leviticus 23:34-36, 39; Numbers 29:12, 35-38), called “the last day of the feast, the great day” in the New Testament (John 7:37-39). Is a separate festival from the Feast of Tabernacles which is seven days long (Leviticus 23:34, 36). Because of its associations with Feast of Tabernacles, scripture   refers to it as the "eighth day" or the “last day" of the Feast. We see Jesus in the Eighth Day Assembly through his role as Judge and the giver of the Holy Spirit.


The prophetic events following the thousand years, also known as the millennium   (Revelation 20:7-22:5), are often associated with the Eighth Day Assembly. One of these events is a resurrection and judgment, called the Great White Throne Judgment (Revelation 20:4-5, 11-15).  This resurrection, sometimes referred to as the "second resurrection," is different from the "first resurrection" or the "resurrection of the just,” which happens at   Jesus' second coming (Revelation 20:4-6; Luke 14:14; 1 Corinthians 15:51-55; 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18). The Great White Throne Judgment is a resurrection to physical life since the second death has power over those in it (Revelation 20:12-15). As opposed to those in first resurrection who rise to everlasting life, with the second death having no power over them (Revelation 20:4-6; Luke 20:34-36). Those not yet saved, the unjust, rise in the second resurrection to a period of judgment known as the “day of judgment.” These are the “great and small," "the unjust," and those who have "done evil" (Revelation 20:12; Acts 24:15; John 5:28-29), Israelites and non-Israelites (Matthew 10:15; 11:21-24; 12:41-42; Luke 10:12-15).  During this Day of Judgment, those never receiving an opportunity for salvation, receive their first chance. This is the same type of judgment Christians are experiencing now, before Jesus’ return (1 Peter 4:17).3  Those who have received an opportunity for salvation and rejected it will be thrown into the Lake of Fire (Revelation 20:14-15).4  The one doing all the  judging is Jesus, whom the Father appointed as mankind’s judge (John 5:22, 26-27; Acts 10:42).  One of the themes of the Eighth Day Assembly is the coming Great White Throne Judgment, with  Jesus  seen in this festival as the one sitting on the throne as judge.


Jesus and the Holy Spirit

“On the last day of the feast, the great day, Jesus stood up and cried out, ‘If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, “Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.”’ Now this he said about the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were to receive, for as yet the Spirit had not been given, because Jesus was not yet glorified” (John 7:37-39). It’s through Jesus that those who believe in him receive the Spirit (John 15:26; 16:7; Acts 2:33). Just as those who are in the first resurrection receive the Holy Spirit from Jesus, during this present time of judgment, so those in the Great White Throne Judgment will also receive the Holy Spirit from Jesus.  


God’s festivals teach us about Jesus’ role in salvation. The Sabbath is a weekly reminder that Jesus is the Lord of the Sabbath, who gives us spiritual rest and liberation. Passover helps us to see Jesus as the true Passover lamb who takes away the sins of the world. With the foot washing ceremony reminding us that Jesus cleanses us from our sins. The Feast of Unleavened Bread focuses our attention on Jesus as the Bread of Life, his resurrection and its importance to our salvation. Pentecost shows us that through Jesus we receive the Holy Spirit, as well as his role in the resurrection of the saints, and future marriage to the Church. The Feast of Trumpets reminds us of Jesus’ second coming and earthly reign; his role in the resurrection and future work of salvation. The Day of Atonement teaches us about Jesus’ roles as our High Priest, and the atoning sacrifice who bears our sins. The Feast of Tabernacles reminds us that Jesus tabernacled with mankind in the past, is tabernacling with us now, and will tabernacle with us in the future. The final festival, the Eighth Day Assembly, shows us Jesus’ role as Judge and the giver of the Holy Spirit.


1. Jesus' resurrection happened on a Saturday during the Feast of Unleavened Bread. This was three days and three nights after his death and burial (Matthew 12:40; 16:21; 17:23; 20:19; 27:62-66; Mark 8:31; 9:31; 10:34; 9:22; 13:32; 18:33; 24:7, 46; John 2:19-20; Acts 10:40; 1 Corinthians 15:4).  On the night before he died, Jesus keep the Passover with his disciples (Matthew 26:17-20; Mark 14:12-17; Luke 22:7-15). Passover is on the 14th day of Nisan, the first month of the sacred calendar (Leviticus 23:5). In the Bible, days begin at sundown (Genesis 1:5; Leviticus 23:27, 32). Therefore, Passover begins after sunset on the 13th day, at the start of Nisan 14, which is the beginning of a new day. In the year Jesus died, this was a Tuesday night.

Jesus’ crucifixion took place during the daylight hours of Wednesday Nisan 14, dying around the "ninth hour" or 3:00 p.m. (Matthew 27:46-50; Mark 15:34-37; Luke 23:44-46). He died on the “Preparation Day,” which is the day before the “high day.” This “high day" is a special Sabbath day, called the first day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread (John 19:14, 31; Mark 15:42; Luke 23:54; Leviticus 23:4-8). 

The Jewish authorities wanted Jesus, and two criminals executed with him, dead and off their crosses before sundown and the beginning of the Feast of Unleavened Bread. To hasten their deaths the Romans broke the legs of the condemned men. When they came to break Jesus’ legs, they found he was already dead (John 19:31-37).

After Jesus’ death, Joseph of Arimathea requested and received Jesus’ body for burial (Matthew 27:57-58; Mark 15:42-45; Luke 23:50-52; John 19:38). Jesus’ burial happened sometime between his death around 3:00 pm and sundown on Wednesday Nisan 14 (Matthew 27:59-61; Mark 15:46; Luke 23:53-54; John 19:39-42). During which a group of female disciples were observers (Matthew 27:55-56, 61; Mark 15:40-41, 47; Luke 23:55).

The next day, Thursday Nisan 15, the day after the preparation day, the Romans place guards at Jesus' tomb (Matthew 27:62-66). This is the first day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread, which is a “high day” (Leviticus 23:6-8; John 19:31). 

When the “high day’ Sabbath, the first day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread was over (Mark 16:1; Leviticus 23:6-7; John 19:31), the women who had followed Jesus, bought and prepare spices to anointed his body. This was Friday Nisan 16. We see from Luke 23:56 that after buying and preparing the spices, the women rested on the weekly Sabbath (Saturday Nisan 17) "according to the commandment.” This is a reference to the fourth commandment that tells us to rest (Exodus 20:8-11). Before sundown on Saturday the 17th, Jesus’ resurrection happened. It was exactly three days and three nights (Matthew 12:38-40) since his burial before sunset on Wednesday Nisan 14.

2. There is another view that the Azazel goat or scapegoat symbolizes Satan. When Jesus returns, he places on Satan all of mankind’s sins which he bore on the cross. After which an angel locks Satan up in the bottomless pit for a thousand years (Revelation 20:1-3).

3. For more information on the Great White Throne Judgment and the second resurrection, see A Second Chance? by Ronald L. Dart:

4. For more information on the subject of hell and the lake of fire, see Heaven and Hell: What Does the Bible Really Teach?, United Church of God, an International Association, 2000, 2004,

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