In AD 33, at midnight, at the opening of the first day of the Hebrew Feast of Weeks (or ‘sevens’ in Hebrew), Messiah triumphantly rose from the dead. The new day was Monday – following His death on the previous Friday. This ‘midnight resurrection’ is discussed in the book ‘Unlocking the Biblical Watch of Messiah’s Return’ (UBW page 40) and every piece of biblical evidence is forensically examined leaving no ambiguity whatsoever, as to the timing of this epic supernatural event.
One aspect of this ‘examination’ is how God measured (or reckoned) His divine time during the days and hours during which Messiah was physically dead. The reason this is so important, as will be seen, is because it resolves the Levitical requirement that the Hebrew Feast of Weeks begins precisely the day after the Sabbath.
Leviticus 23:15 ‘And you shall count for yourselves from the day after the Sabbath, from the day that you brought the sheaf of the wave offering: seven Sabbaths shall be completed.’
The issue is that if Jesus died on ‘Passover’ (which He did) and His resurrection was also the typological fulfilment of the Hebrew Feast of Weeks (which it was), then Levitical Law (Leviticus 23:15) left no time for Jesus to be in death and certainly not the ‘three days and three nights in the heart of the earth’ which were earlier predicted by the Son of Man Himself.
Matthew 12:40 For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the great fish, so will the Son of Man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.
By way of background, consider more closely this Hebrew ‘Feast of Weeks’. It occurred annually during the period of the grain harvest of Israel. The period began with the harvesting of barley (the day after ‘Passover’ – often called ‘first fruits’) and concluded with the harvesting of wheat at Shavuot (which is the plural of the Hebrew word meaning ‘seven’ or ‘week’). Because the day count for Shavuot started the day after Passover (sometimes called the second day of Passover), it ended on the 50th day from the original Passover. As such, Hellenistic (meaning Greek cultured) Jews called Shavuot, ‘Pentecost’ (which is the Greek word for ‘fiftieth’).
Importantly, this Hebrew ‘Feast of Weeks’ symbolised ‘resurrection’ because Jesus Himself asserted this metaphor (of ‘seed’ before ‘harvest’) as a direct reference to His own death and resurrection in John 12:24:
John 12:24 Most assuredly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the ground and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it produces much grain.
Death, therefore, was not able to hold Messiah one second into this first day of ‘harvest’ and He burst forth from the grave the very moment this harvest day began (at midnight Sunday/Monday). As an aside, the Bible teaches that at this same time of Jesus’ resurrection, the Hebrew day changed from Jewish time (6pm to 6pm) to Gentile time (12 midnight to 12 midnight), yielding a 'long' Monday (please see UBW page 49 for details). Jesus was (and is) the first fruits of resurrection – the Apostle Paul affirmed this truth of ‘first fruits’ in his first letter to the Corinthians:
1 Corinthians 15:22-23 For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive.23 But every man in his own order: Christ the first fruits; afterward they that are Christ’s at his coming.
The problem of timing, however, remains. If Messiah rose from the dead at Sunday midnight and fulfilled the first day of the Feast of Weeks, how does this fit with the Levitical requirement for the Feast of Weeks to begin on the day after the Sabbath? Monday (as the first day of ‘Weeks’ beginning at midnight) was neither the day after the Sabbath (Saturday) nor the day after Passover.
The Bible solves this issue with great elegance. As it happened that year (AD 33), the Passover (of Messiah’s death and resurrection) fell on a weekly Sabbath. John’s statement that this ‘Sabbath was a high day’ clarifies this truth.
John 19:31 Therefore, because it was the Preparation Day, that the bodies should not remain on the cross on the Sabbath (for that Sabbath was a high day), the Jews asked Pilate that their legs might be broken, and that they might be taken away.
In other words, Passover that year and the weekly Sabbath were on the same day.
Secondly, bible chronology makes a further distinction regarding the ‘days of the week’ for God and the ‘days of the week’ for the Jews. The long day of Joshua offset the divine day of the week with rebellious Judaism.
Joshua 10:13 So the sun stood still, And the moon stopped, Till the people had revenge Upon their enemies. Is this not written in the Book of Jasher? So, the sun stood still in the midst of heaven, and did not hasten to go down for about a whole day.
God saw two days of 24 hours whereas Israel perceived only one day during Joshua’s long day. As such the divine day of the week was one day ahead of Israel’s day of week. This makes perfect sense as going forward in time to the day of Messiah’s death, the divine Sabbath was therefore Friday (the day on which Messiah actually died) rather than Saturday or Sabbath (when the Jews celebrated their feast).
However, this consideration only makes the problem worse because there is yet another day between Passover and the beginning of ‘Weeks’. If the divine Sabbath of Passover was on the Friday when Jesus died, then there are now two whole days until (the beginning moment at midnight of) Monday when Jesus rose from the dead in fulfilment of the first day of the Feast of Weeks.
The solution to this matter is profound. It requires an understanding that ‘divine time’ ceased to be reckoned during the days and hours that Jesus was physically dead in the tomb. Where does the Bible teach this truth? The answer is in the apparently anomalous verses of Matthew 27:50-55 (below). Please read the following verses carefully and especially with consideration to the progression of time around the death and resurrection of Jesus:
Matthew 27:50 And when Jesus had cried out again in a loud voice, he gave up his spirit. 51 At that moment the curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. The earth shook, the rocks split 52 and the tombs broke open. The bodies of many holy people who had died were raised to life. 53 They came out of the tombs after Jesus’ resurrection and went into the holy city and appeared to many people. 54 When the centurion and those with him who were guarding Jesus saw the earthquake and all that had happened, they were terrified, and exclaimed, ‘Surely he was the Son of God!’ 55 Many women were there, watching from a distance.
The above statements are all linked together as apparently happening all at the same time, by the conjunctive word ‘and’ (Greek word ‘καὶ’ – Strong’s Number 2532). In other words, the biblical text binds together events at the moment that Jesus yielded up His spirit together with events through to His resurrection, as if no time between has passed! The text then reverts back to the centurion ‘in situ’ at the crucifixion of Messiah, who exclaims “Surely He was the Son of God!”. This is then followed by a description of the many women who were there, who were watching the death of Jesus from a distance.
Whenever there is an anomaly in scripture, the Bible has a deeper truth to reveal.
The truth revealed by these seemingly ‘time’ anomalous verses (of Mathew 27:50-55) is that God (as the author of scripture) did not reckon divine time during the physical death of His Son. Messiah’s time in death paused the divine clock. The continuation of the biblical text from the death of Jesus through to the resurrection, as if to ignore the time ‘in between’, speaks to the truth that the Lord does not reckon time to a physically dead man.
In this way, there is a wonderful biblical alignment between the Friday (divine Sabbath) of the death of Jesus with the Monday of His resurrection. Now the first day of the ‘Feast of Weeks’ is correctly ‘the day after the Sabbath’ and sacredly fulfils the legal requirement of Leviticus 23:15.
Accreditation: ‘The Restored Vision’ by ‘A E Ware’ – Chapter 16 Part One (circa p.394).