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. Matt 12:40
If you believe that Christ is the Messiah, then he had to fulfill all the prophecies concerning such. He had to fulfill them to the letter as that was criteria to establish the fact that He WAS and IS the Messiah.
One of the most illustrated symbols of what Christ did to free us. What is it?
Passover is a Jewish holiday. It is called Pesah in Hebrew, which was derived from the verb that means "to protect," "to have compassion," "to pass over". Passover (or Pesah) lasts seven days, beginning on the 14th day of the month of Nisan. It commemorates the exodus of the Hebrews from Egypt. Passover is associated with the seven-day festival of unleavened bread, which commences on the 15th of the month. It ends on the 21st of Nisan. Note how Passover and the feast of unleavened bread are associated with each other because they overlap. This is important.
of unleavened bread
Now let's look at how Passover came to be.
Passover was instituted when the Jews were slaves to the Egyptians. The Jews were in bondage, slaves to the people of Egypt (c. 1570 BC). They longed to be free from Egyptian oppression. I won't elaborate as to why the Jews were slaves at all, but the Jews had prayed for freedom for quite some time. And the time had come when God used His servant, Moses to lead the Jews away from their Egyptian taskmasters. God had sent various signs to Pharoah and the people of Egypt showing that Moses' was God's spokesperson and to Let His people go! But Pharoah was a tough man to bargain with.
It wasn't until many signs later (the 12th of 12 plagues), that the Jews would finally get to pack up and taste freedom. It was the 12th plague, the plague of the firstborn which came from Pharoahs' mouth himself, that motivated Pharoah to tell the Jews to leave. According to Exodus 11, around midnight all the firstborn in the land of Egypt would die, the firstborn of all ranks of people and even the animals. God would spare the lives of any firstborn as long as the blood of a lamb was smeared on the doorposts and lintels (the beam over the doorway) of the house. They prepared foods with no leaven [yeast], Exodus 12:39 because they had no time for the dough to rise.
This day was to be remembered forever (Exodus 12:17) as the meal of Passover. It was to be done according to certain guidelines. On the 10th day of the month, the animal to be slaughtered was selected and set aside for safekeeping; according to Exodus 12:5. The animal was to be an unblemished one-year-old goat or lamb. The animal was slaughtered on the 14th day late in the afternoon. Festivals and Feasts (including Passover) were holy times when no work was to be done (Exodus 12:16). Since the preparation of the lamb involved work (slaughtering the lamb and roasting it whole), it was to be done before the sunset, when the day ended and the next day began. The animal was to be roasted whole so as not to break any bone in the animal. The flesh was eaten, along with unleavened bread and bitter herbs. The people celebrate the meal as if they themselves had come out of Egypt - "out of bondage to freedom, from sorrow to gladness, and from mourning to festival day, and from darkness to great light, and from servitude to redemption".
As a Christian, there are glorious parallels in the account of the Exodus. The Passover meal not only recounts the story of freedom from the bondage of Egypt, but also tells us of our freedom from the bondage of sin by alluding to what God, Himself, would do to make this journey (from sin to freedom) possible. It all revolved around Christ, who was the ultimate Passover Lamb.
The lamb was killed between 3 and 6 PM on the afternoon of the 14th of Abib/Nisan and prepared, because the 15th was the first day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread, which was an annual Sabbath observance (the first and last days of Unleavened Bread were annual Sabbaths in addition to the normal weekly Sabbaths). This search of the Word is important, not because it affects salvation, but because it answers the questions posed on whether Jesus kept His Word, and whether the Bible is true in this matter. A legitimate concern and question for all Christians!!
In the first month, on the fourteenth day of the month at twilight is the Lord's Passover. Then on the fifteenth day of the same month there is the Feast of Unleavened Bread to the Lord; for seven days you shall eat unleavened bread. On the first day you shall have a holy convocation; you shall not do any laborious work. But for seven days you shall present an offering by fire to the Lord. On the seventh day is a holy convocation; you shall not do any laborious work. Leviticus 23:5-8
The above text confirms that the first and last days of the Feast of Unleavened Bread are annual Sabbaths, to be observed as a day of rest in addition to the weekly Sabbaths. These days would occur on the 15th and 21st of Abib/Nisan. The Passover meal was an important religious observance in which to remember that the blood of the lamb on the doorposts of their houses kept them alive when the angel of death passed by, and that God had delivered them from slavery in Egypt. The Passover is a perpetual observance to celebrate pasing from death to life. These ancient events foretold the blood of Jesus being spilled for our sins, and our passage from death to eternal life, by the everlasting covenant of the blood of Jesus. They also foretold that Jesus would die exactly on the 14th of Abib/Nisan and that the day following was an annual Sabbath.
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graphic by Michael J. Harris