Rabbi’s Reflections – Sunday, April 3, 2022
Shavuah Tov,

“He Is Risen, Just As He Said!” (Part 1) by Dr. Raymond Finney
Mysteries and Miracles of Yeshua’s Resurrection

KEY SCRIPTURE: Read Matthew 28:1-8: Now after Shabbat, as it began to dawn on the first day of the week, Miriam of Magdala and the other Miriam came to look at the tomb. And suddenly there was a great earthquake, for an angel of Adonai descended from heaven and came and rolled back the stone and sat on it. His appearance was like lightning, and his clothing as white as snow. And those keeping watch were shaken for fear of him and became like dead men. But the angel answered and said to the women, “Do not be afraid, for I know you are looking for Yeshua who was crucified. He is not here; for He is risen, just as He said. Come, see the place where He was lying. Go quickly now and tell His disciples that He is risen from the dead. And behold, He’s going before you to the Galilee. There you will see Him. See, I have told you!” They quickly left the tomb, with fear yet with great joy, and ran to bring news to His disciples.

INTRODUCTION: I re-post and revise a three-part series about Resurrection Day, commonly called by its pagan name “Easter.” In 2022 in Western Christianity, Resurrection Day will be observed on April 17. In Orthodox (Eastern) Christianity, the date is April 24, 2022.

The anniversary of this day– the day Yeshua was resurrected from death to resume His eternal life– is the most significant day of the year for Believers. The entire faith in Yeshua reached its climax on a Spring day nearly two-thousand years ago. As the Apostle Paul wrote (1 Corinthians 15:16-19): For if the dead are not raised, not even Messiah has been raised. And if Messiah has not been raised, your faith is futile– you are still in your sins. Then those also who have fallen asleep in Messiah have perished. If we have hoped in Messiah in this life alone, we are to be pitied more than all people.

In this RR and RRs for the next two Sundays, I wish to discuss some mysteries and miracles surrounding Resurrection Day. I hope you already know all these things, and this RR will merely serve as a review. If not, though, I hope you learn something about the most momentous event in the history of the world.

ERROR OF KING JAMES VERSION TRANSLATORS: No Bible translation is perfect. Translators must choose from several synonyms for the translated word, and biases and misunderstandings inevitably creep in. The venerated King James Version (KJV), published 1611, has its share of imperfections, One error involves “Easter.” Read Acts 12:4 in the KJV: And when he [Herod] had apprehended him [Peter], he put him in prison, and delivered him to four quaternions of soldiers to keep him; intending after Easter to bring him forth to the people. WORD STUDY: “Quaternion” is a detail of four soldiers. This arrangement provided enhanced security against a prisoner’s escape from arrest. From a quaternion, two soldiers were were stationed at the door, and the prisoner was chained to the other two soldiers.

The word mistranslated “Easter” in Acts 12:4 KJV is, in the Greek, Пάσχα (transliterated, pascha || pronounced, PAHS-khah). Pascha comes from the Hebrewפֶּסַח (transliterated, peçach || pronounced, PEH-sakh). موقع مراهنات كرة القدم مجانا The proper translation in Acts 12:4  is “Passover,” not Easter. Both Herod and Peter were well aware of Passover, but had never heard of “Easter.” Passover dates from the time of Moses and the Israelite exodus from Egypt. Easter was not observed until the second century AD (long after Herod and Peter had died).

The English word “Easter” parallels the German Ostern (of uncertain origin). The celebrated day may have come from the Latin in albis (“dawn”). In Old High German, the celebration became Eostarum.

Some trace the origin of Easter to pagan mythology. “Easter” apparently has its origin from an Anglo-Saxon goddess, Eostre (Estre, Estara, Eastre, Ostara, and similar spellings). Eostre, the goddess of dawn, was worshiped in pagan ceremonies in northern Europe and the British Isles. Some persons trace Eostre to the Babylonian goddess of Astarte and other pagan goddesses (Ishtar, Astoreth, and Aphrodite/ Venus). These fertility goddesses were worshiped in the Spring in hope of the blessing of abundant crops. We still celebrate “Easter” with symbols of fertility (Easter eggs, bunny rabbits).

I personally try not to use the name ”Easter.” I prefer a more Scriptural name, such as, “Resurrection Day.” Resurrection Day is observed by Western Believers on the first Sunday following the Paschal full moon– the first full moon after the spring (vernal) equinox. This date was established by the Roman Catholic Church at the Council of Nicea in AD 325. This Sunday falls between March 22 (earliest calendar date) and April 25 (latest calendar date).

Roman Catholics, especially, have added dates to Resurrection Day (RD) – Ash Wednesday (46 days before RD); Palm Sunday (1 week before RD); Maundy Thursday (3 days before RD); Go Friday (2 days before RD); Ascension Day (39 days after RD); Whit Sunday/ Pentecost (49 days after RD); Whit Monday (50 days after RD); and Trinity Sunday (56 days after RD). Mardi Gras (Fat Tuesday), celebrated in New Orleans, ends the day before Ash Wednesday, but what does this drunken, sin-filled, debauched festival have to do with faith?

SIDELIGHT: On Ash Wednesday, Catholics wear a smudge of ash on their foreheads. Joe Biden, being the exemplary Catholic he is, sported a smudged forehead and bragged that a Cardinal came to the White House “to give him ashes.” Why? When a priest marks a congregant’s forehead with ashes, he usually says one of two things: “Repent and believe in the Gospel;” or, “Remember you are dust and unto dust, you shall return. امريكا اكسبرس ” Thus, the priest has the option of telling a congregant to move away from something (sin) or to move toward something (the Gospel). Why use ashes and not dust? Ashes, long used as a Biblical symbol of mourning, seem appropriate for the season of Yeshua’s Passion, Death, Burial, and Resurrection. Incidentally, the ashes are made from burning the palaspas from the previous year’s Palm Sunday. [Palaspas = palm fronds that are dried, prayed over, burned, and filtered to form a fine ash. END sidelight.

PROPHECY OF PALM SUNDAY: The Sunday before Resurrection Day (April 10 in 2022) is observed by many as Palm Sunday– the nearly two-thousand year-old anniversary of the day Yeshua rode into Jerusalem on a donkey to surrender to Roman authorities and to prepare for His crucifixion as the sin sacrifice for the world (see Matthew 21:1-11, Mark 11:1-11, Luke 19:28-40, John 12:12-19).

In less than one week following this Jerusalem entry, Yeshua would observe Communion with His disciples, teaching the symbolism of His death in the Communion meal of unleavened bread and fruit of the vine (wine); and, He would be arrested, tried, beaten, crucified, and buried. As He rode into Jerusalem, the crowds waved palm fronds (the source of the name “Palm Sunday”) and shouted “Hōsanna!” [Hebrew Hōsanna! = English “Save (us)!”] This plea for salvation complements Yeshua’s name. [Hebrew Yeshua = common alternative of Yəhōšūa (Joshua) = Greek Iēsous = English Jesus = “Jehovah is salvation.”]

The precise day for Palm Sunday in Yeshua’s triumphal entry was prophesied in the Book of Daniel, written approximately six centuries earlier (ca 536 – 530 BC). In Daniel 9:24-27, we read that Daniel knew the Jews would be in captivity for seventy years because of an earlier prophecy from Jeremiah (Jeremiah 25:11-12 and 29:10).  As the seventy years were coming to an end, Daniel inquired of the LORD what would become of his people after captivity.

The angel Gabriel gave Daniel the prophecy of the seventy shavuot. [shavuot = a collection of seven “shabuas” = seven Jewish years = 7 x 360 days. Thus, seventy shavuot = 490 Jewish years.] Shavuot is poorly rendered as “weeks” or “sevens” in some Bible translations. This would be like calling a decade a “ten.”

After a decree from Persian King Artaxerxes I in the twentieth year of his reign (mid-fourth century BC, or 445 BC), Artaxerxes’ cup-bearer, Nehemiah, was given permission and materials to travel to Jerusalem and rebuild the destroyed First Jewish Temple and the walls of Jerusalem (see Nehemiah 2:1-8). Then, began a several century span of distress in Jewish history. This span accounted for sixty-nine shavuot (69 shavuot x 7 Jewish years per shavuot x 360 days per shabua = 173,880 days).

During this time, the Jews rebuilt the Temple, even though a poor replica of the original (First) Temple, during periods of distress. Jerusalem’s walls were also rebuilt. The Jewish nation was, then, conquered by Rome, which counted down to Yeshua’s lifetime. Read Gabriel’s answer to Daniel’s prayers (Daniel 9:25-26): [Gabriel told Daniel] “So know and understand: From the issuing of the decree [from Artaxerxes] to restore and to build Jerusalem until the time Mashiach, the Prince, there shall be seven weeks and 62 weeks [“weeks” = shavuot]. It will be rebuilt, with plaza and moat, but it will be in times of distress. Then after the 62 weeks [62 shavuot], Mashiach will be cut off and have nothing. Then the people of a prince who is to come [the Roman Empire and ultimately the Antichrist] will destroy the city and the sanctuary. But his [the Antichrist’s] end will come like a flood. Until the end of the war that is decreed there will be destruction.”

After the Messiah was “cut off” (crucified), the timeline continues, containing an indefinite period of time, with no specifically related prophetic events. This gap in prophecy, called a “parenthesis,” corresponds to our era, the present Age of Grace. Then, the final (seventieth) shavuot will occur in our future. This seven-year period will mark the Tribulation on Earth, when “the prince who is to come” (the Antichrist) will rule on Earth and HaMashiach [Yeshua] will rule in Paradise.

Daniel prophesied events more than six centuries in his future, events which have happened exactly as Gabriel foretold. Bible scholars have taken the day of Artaxerxes’ decree to Nehemiah and performed mathematical computations (taking care to convert Jewish years of 360 days to our years of 365.25 days, remembering that there is no year zero, etc.), and they claim the day “Mashiach will be cut off and have nothing” is precisely the day Yeshua rode into Jerusalem to lay down His life a few days later– the day we recognize as Palm Sunday. No wonder the Jews lined the street and shouted, “Hōsanna!” (Feel free to be deeply impressed at any time.)

JOSEPHUS’ HISTORY: The respected Jewish historian, Flavius Josephus (born AD 37/38, died AD 100), was not a Christian/ Believer. He was an observer (historian) who had no reason to write “fake news” to make Yeshua look better. He recorded most unusual, seemingly impossible events that occurred mostly between AD 66 and AD 70. See Josephus: Wars of the Jews, Book VI, Chapter V, Paragraph 3. Recall that the Second Jewish Temple (Zerubabbel’s Temple AKA Herod’s Temple) was destroyed in AD 70, forty years (the common length of a generation) after Yeshua began His ministry. Josephus’ history, written in ca AD 75, follows. Josephus’ history is lengthy and somewhat tedious. The translation I quote does not divide Josephus’ narrative into paragraphs. Sorry. I add footnotes to help you read more rapidly through the history by summarizing important points. These footnotes are marked as: <<See Footnote …, below.>>

Josephus wrote: “Thus were the miserable people persuaded by these deceivers, and such as belied God himself; while they did not attend nor give credit to the signs that were so evident, and did so plainly foretell their future desolation, but, like men infatuated, without either eyes to see or minds to consider, did not regard the denunciations that God made to them. Thus there was a star resembling a sword, which stood over the city, and a comet, that continued a whole year. <<See Footnote A, below.>> Thus also before the Jews’ rebellion, and before those commotions which preceded the war, when the people were come in great crowds to the feast of unleavened bread, on the eighth day of the month Xanthicus [Nisan], and at the ninth hour of the night, so great a light shone round the altar and the holy house, that it appeared to be bright day time; which lasted for half an hour. <<See Footnote B, below.>> This light seemed to be a good sign to the unskillful, but was so interpreted by the sacred scribes, as to portend those events that followed immediately upon it. At the same festival also, a heifer, as she was led by the high priest to be sacrificed, brought forth a lamb in the midst of the temple. <<See Footnote C, below.>> Moreover, the eastern gate of the inner [court of the] temple, which was of brass, and vastly heavy, and had been with difficulty shut by twenty men, and rested upon a basis armed with iron, and had bolts fastened very deep into the firm floor, which was there made of one entire stone, was seen to be opened of its own accord about the sixth hour of the night. <<See Footnote D, below.>> Now those that kept watch in the temple came hereupon running to the captain of the temple, and told him of it; who then came up thither, and not without great difficulty was able to shut the gate again. This also appeared to the vulgar to be a very happy prodigy, as if God did thereby open them the gate of happiness. But the men of learning understood it, that the security of their holy house was dissolved of its own accord, and that the gate was opened for the advantage of their enemies. So these publicly declared that the signal foreshadowed the desolation that was coming upon them. Besides these, a few days after that feast, on the one and twentieth day of the month Artemisius [Jyar], a certain prodigious and incredible phenomenon appeared: I suppose the account of it would seem to be a fable, were it not related by those that saw it, and were not the events that followed it of so considerable a nature as to deserve such signals; for, before sun-setting, chariots and troops of soldiers in their armor were seen running about among the clouds, and surrounding of cities. <<See Footnote E, below.>> Moreover, at that feast which we call Pentecost, as the priests were going by night into the inner [court of the temple,] as their custom was, to perform their sacred ministrations, they said that, in the first place, they felt a quaking, and heard a great noise, and after that they heard a sound as of a great multitude, saying, “Let us remove hence.” <<See Footnote F, below.>> But, what is still more terrible, there was one Jesus, the son of Ananus, a plebeian and a husbandman, who, four years before the war began, and at a time when the city was in very great peace and prosperity, came to that feast whereon it is our custom for every one to make tabernacles to God in the temple, began on a sudden to cry aloud, “A voice from the east, a voice from the west, a voice from the four winds, a voice against Jerusalem and the holy house, a voice against the bridegrooms and the brides, and a voice against this whole people!” This was his cry, as he went about by day and by night, in all the lanes of the city. However, certain of the most eminent among the populace had great indignation at this dire cry of his, and took up the man, and gave him a great number of severe stripes; yet did not he either say any thing for himself, or any thing peculiar to those that chastised him, but still went on with the same words which he cried before. Hereupon our rulers, supposing, as the case proved to be, that this was a sort of divine fury in the man, brought him to the Roman procurator, where he was whipped till his bones were laid bare; yet he did not make any supplication for himself, nor shed any tears, but turning his voice to the most lamentable tone possible, at every stroke of the whip his answer was, “Woe, woe to Jerusalem!” And when Albinus (for he was then our procurator) asked him, Who he was? and whence he came? and why he uttered such words? he made no manner of reply to what he said, but still did not leave off his melancholy ditty, till Albinus took him to be a madman, and dismissed him. Now, during all the time that passed before the war began, this man did not go near any of the citizens, nor was seen by them while he said so; but he every day uttered these lamentable words, as if it were his premeditated vow, “Woe, woe to Jerusalem!” <<See Footnote G, below.>> Nor did he give ill words to any of those that beat him every day, nor good words to those that gave him food; but this was his reply to all men, and indeed no other than a melancholy presage of what was to come. This cry of his was the loudest at the festivals; and he continued this ditty for seven years and five months, without growing hoarse, or being tired therewith, until the very time that he saw his presage in earnest fulfilled in our siege, when it ceased; for as he was going round upon the wall, he cried out with his utmost force, “Woe, woe to the city again, and to the people, and to the holy house!” And just as he added at the last, “Woe, woe to myself also!” there came a stone out of one of the engines, and smote him, and killed him immediately; and as he was uttering the very same presages he gave up the ghost.”

WHAT DID JOSEPHUS TELL US? First, remember two things:

● Yeshua prophesied the destruction of Jerusalem and Herod’s Temple a generation before its destruction (Matthew 24:1-2): Now when Yeshua went out and was going away from the Temple, His disciples came up to point out to Him the Temple buildings. “Don’t you see all these?” He responded to them. “Amen, I tell you, not one stone will be left here on top of another– every one will be torn down!” Yeshua’s prophecy was fulfilled in AD 70, when Roman legions, under Titus’ command, destroyed Jerusalem and Herod’s Temple, and killed or enslaved the Jews. The Temple was a great storehouse of gold and silver, serving as both Judah’s national treasury and the “bank” of wealthy Jews. (Banks, as we know them, did not exist in the first century.) The Temple accidentally caught fire. The molten precious metal flowed between the floor’s paving stones. Roman soldiers dismantled the Temple by prying the stones apart to recover the cooled precious metals– exactly as Yeshua had prophesied (“… not one stone will be left here on top of another….”). The Romans erected arches to celebrate great victories. The Arch of Titus (Rome) depicts Jewish captives; Temple treasury, including the menorah; and other spoils of war being carried from Jerusalem to Rome. See photographs of the Arch of Titus: https://www.gettyimages.com/photos/arch-of-titus .

● Josephus described most unusual events (see following footnotes), which occurred shortly before the Roman destruction of Jerusalem and the Jewish Temple in AD 70. These events were warnings and signs from God, which were neither understood nor heeded. Is God giving warnings and signs today for America? Will America be judged by God for our sins, as He judged the Jewish nation for her sins? Probably the greatest sin in first-century Judah was the rejection of Messiah by the people. Fast forward to twenty-first century  America. Are many Americans rejecting Messiah? Is America failing to understand and heed God’s warnings? Will America’s sins cause our nation to be destroyed?

FOOTNOTES: What significant events did Josephus record in his historical record (reproduced in preceding section and marked by Footnotes)?

<<Footnote A >> Josephus: “A star resembling a sword, which stood over the city, and a comet, that continued a whole year.” God used/ uses heavenly signs to announce special events, for example: the star which announced Yeshua’s birth to the magi (see Matthew 2:2). These heavenly bodies recorded by Josephus portended disaster for the Jews. It is significant that this star resembled the symbol of war and death– a sword. God previously used a flaming sword to remove people from a land– the Garden of Eden– He had given them (see Genesis 3:24). God once again was ready to drive His people from their homes in Israel, and He used the same symbol, a flaming sword.

<<Footnote B >> Josephus: “A great light shone round the altar and the holy house.” This light may mean that the Light of the world (Yeshua) shone around God’s altar and the Holy of Holies, providing yet another reference to our true High Priest (John 8:12): Yeshua spoke to them again, saying, “I am the light of the world. The one who follows Me will no longer walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”

<<Footnote C >> Josephus: “A heifer, being led by the high priest to be sacrificed, brought forth a lamb in the midst of the temple.” The sacrifice of a red heifer was necessary for Jewish purification rituals (see Numbers, chapter 19). There are certain symbolic similarities in the sacrifice of the red heifer and the crucifixion of Yeshua. However, many scholars believe that the red heifer is a type (prophecy, foreshadow) of Israel. Only a perfect, blemish-free, three year-old heifer could be sacrificed. A heifer is a virginal cow (one which has never been bred). The priests would have carefully examined the heifer before bringing her for sacrifice, and they certainly would not have brought a pregnant cow ready to calve. Even more supernaturally, the heifer gave birth to a lamb in the middle of the Temple. A cow can give birth only to a calf, and never a lamb. The symbol of this miracle is: The heifer (Israel) gave birth to a lamb (our Passover Lamb, Yeshua) in the Temple (the place of worship of God), affirming the change from the old Aaronic (Levitical) priesthood to the High Priesthood of Yeshua HaMashiach, our eternal High Priest on the order of Melchizedek. Yeshua’s first miracle, the changing of water to wine (John 2:1-11), transmitted the same message– Yeshua came to change old covenant worship (purification by water) to new covenant worship (belief in the sacrificial death of Yeshua).

<<Footnote D >> Josephus: “The massive eastern gate of the inner temple opened of its own accord.” The meaning of this event is obvious and has the same significance as the temple veil being torn in two at the death of Yeshua. God opened worship of Him to all men and women, without need for a special place of worship. (That is, God inhabits each person’s body, which becomes a temple, rather than inhabiting a special Temple.) In New Covenant worship, we do not need an order of priests, because each person is his or her own priest, under the High Priest Yeshua. لعبه وايت New Covenant worship does not require temple sacrifices of animals, because Yeshua is our one-time only Passover Lamb sacrifice. This one-time sacrifice has been accomplished and will never need to be repeated. The heavy gate opened to show that God is always open to man’s worship and petitions. I may be placing too fine a point on Josephus’ account, but it is interesting that God opened the gate but “the captain of the temple” (a religious leader) closed it. Since early church organizations, we have had a constant parade of religious leaders who have had the audacity to insert themselves between man and God. They re-enact the Temple captain’s closing of the gate opened by God by closing that door again for the people listening to and following them. True worship of Yeshua is not a “religion,” but should be a movement of men and women who attempt to heed Yeshua’s simple command, “Follow Me.” I have been asked, “Are you religious?” I answered, “I try very hard not to be religious, but I believe in Father God and His Son Yeshua.” Yeshua had harsher words for the religious leaders of His time than He had for “ordinary” sinners (prostitutes, thieves, murderers, and so forth). We are commanded to worship with and support a body of Believers (Hebrews 10:24-25): And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good deeds. And do not neglect our own meetings, as is the habit of some, but encourage one another– and all the more so as you see the Day approaching. Let no man or denomination get between you and the simple message of the Bible. You are personally responsible for your salvation (Philippians 2:12b-13): … [W]ork out your salvation with fear and trembling. For the One working in you is God– both to will and to work for His good pleasure. Any religious leader’s words or denomination’s doctrines or creeds which are contrary to the Bible come from man, not from God. Follow God, not man (see Acts 5:29).

<<Footnote E >> Josephus: “Chariots and troops of armored soldiers were seen running about among the clouds and surrounding cities.” This vision was probably a warning of the soon-to-come siege of Jerusalem, destruction of Jewish life in Judah, and carrying off of the Jews throughout the world. This dispersion of the Jewish nation, the Diaspora, extended from AD 70 to 1948.

<<Footnote F >> Josephus: “At the feast of Pentecost, as the priests were going by night into the inner court of the temple, they felt a quaking, and heard a great noise, and after that they heard a sound as of a great multitude, saying, ‘Let us remove hence.’” God has frequently used earthquakes to accompany important messages to man. Pentecost (from Greek Pentekostē) has dual significance. “Pentecost” translates to “the fiftieth day.” In Judaism, Pentecost marks the day God gave His Law to Moses fifty days after the Israelites were delivered from bondage in Egypt. In New Covenant worship, Pentecost marks the day God gave birth to “the ones called out” in His name (from the Greek ékklēsía, commonly translated “Church,” literally “the called out ones”) fifty days after Yeshua’s resurrection (see Acts, chapter 2). Is the command, “Let us remove hence,” a preview of the command Yeshua’s followers will hear as they are caught up in the clouds to meet Him– the Rapture? (See 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17; Revelation 4:1.)

<<Footnote G >> Josephus: “Jesus, son of Ananus, warning, ‘Woe, woe to Jerusalem!”” This Jesus (not Yeshua HaMashiach) may have been a prophet of God. God shows a pattern before allowing a judgment to befall any people. He gives warning; followed by grace to allow repentance; followed by judgment, if repentance does not occur. Jesus, son of Ananus, may have provided the warning for the Jews to repent. Notice the similarity in the two men named Jesus (Yeshua). Yeshua HaMashiach, Son of God, preached repentance, but was rejected, beaten, and crucified. Decades later, Jesus, son of Ananus, preached repentance, but was rejected, beaten, and killed. Hardened hearts of sinful mankind usually reject warnings from God to repent. God’s warnings flood America, calling for repentance. Is America– are you personally– repenting?

TO BE CONTINUED: This introductory RR may not be very interesting (first lessons in a series are commonly awkward), but you may find the next two RRs to be more interesting. Stay with us. Until next Sunday, Shalom and Maranatha.

Daily Bread, reading plan by Lars Enarson (https://www.thewatchman.org/)
Sun 03-Apr-2022 2nd of Nisan, 5782
Le 14:1-12 Isa 29 Pr 12 (Mt 1) Jas 1