Rabbi’s Reflections – Sunday, April 30, 2023
Day 22 of counting the Omer
בָּרוּךְ אַתָּה יְיָ אֱלֹהֵֽינוּ מֶֽלֶךְ הָעוֹלָם, אֲשֶׁר קִדְּשָֽׁנוּ בְּמִצְוֹתָיו, וְצִוָּֽנוּ עַל סְפִירַת הָעֹֽמֶר
Baruch Atah Adonai Elohenu Melech Ha-Olam, Asher Kid’shanu B’mitzvotav, Vitzivanu Al Sefirat Ha-Omer.
Blessed are You O Lord our God, King of the universe, who has sanctified us by his commandments and commanded us about the counting of the Omer. Today is three weeks and one day of the counting of the Omer.
Follow up that prayer by remembering a blessing from the Lord and give Him thanks.
Yeshua Lives, Even Though Crucified! – Part 4
by Dr. Raymond Finney
INTRODUCTION: I continue the series on Yeshua’s death, burial, and resurrection, but I have only skimmed the highlights of this crucial event in our faith. Massive amounts of literature have discussed this topic in far greater detail than I am able to offer in this RR series.
Truthfully, all authors of these daily RRs (Weiner, Harwood, and Finney) should probably discuss this topic in every RR issue, as the Apostle Paul wrote to the Corinthians (1 Corinthians 2:1-2): When I came to you, brothers and sisters, I did not come with excellence of speech or wisdom, proclaiming to you the mystery [some manuscripts: testimony] of God. For I decided not to know about anything among you except Yeshua the Messiah– and Him crucified.
Yeshua– and Him crucified– is the crux of Tanakh prophecy and B’rit Chadashah prophecy fulfillment. His crucifixion was and is the only blood sacrifice acceptable for the remission of sin. If Yeshua is part of the Godhead, no greater love could be shown than the Creator allowing beings He created to torture and kill Him (John 15:13): [Yeshua said] “No one has greater love than this: that he lay down his life for his friends.”
THE MYSTERY OF THE UNFINISHED MEAL: In a Passover Seder (Yeshua’s “last supper” with His disciples just hours before His crucifixion), four cups of wine would have been served. Each cup traditionally represented one of four promises made by God to the Israelites (see Exodus 6:6-7). Adonai’s promises to the Israelites (and the cups named for these promises) are:
> “I will bring you out from the burdens of the Egyptians” (Cup of Sanctification), > “I will deliver you from the Egyptians’ bondage” (Cup of Plagues),
> “I will redeem you with an outstretched arm and with great judgments” (Cup of Redemption), and
> “I will take you to Myself as a people and I will be your God” (Cup of Praise).
Yeshua taught Communion by drinking from the third cup, the Cup of Redemption. Yeshua declined to drink from the fourth cup, the Cup of Praise (Matthew 26:29): [Yeshua said] “But I say to you, I will never drink of this fruit of the vine from now on, until that day when I drink it anew with you in My Father’s kingdom.”
By not drinking from the fourth cup, Yeshua broke Passover Seder tradition and did not finish the meal. Why? The answer is apparent in Revelation 19:7-10. Yeshua’s followers are promised a feast– the Marriage Supper of the Lamb. As I pointed out in a previous RR, Yeshua’s ministry followed the steps in a first century Jewish wedding. A marriage feast was part of the ancient Jewish wedding process.
Each bride (that is, each overcomer) at the Lamb’s Marriage Supper will likely have a silver chalice by his/ her place setting. (Why silver? Silver is the Biblical metal of redemption, and we are redeemed by the blood of the Lamb.) Yeshua will raise His cup reserved from the AD 33 Passover Seder and each Believer/ Overcomer will raise his/ her cup. Together, all at the Marriage Supper will drink their cups of joy.
Background information is important: At a Jewish marriage, the bridegroom and bride drank– then in the first century and still drink in the twenty first century– wine together to symbolize joy in their marriage. Scriptures call Yeshua “the Bridegroom” and Believers, “Messiah’s bride.” At our future marriage supper, every Believer will drink with Yeshua, as He drinks from the fourth cup reserved from His last meal with His disciples nearly two-thousand years ago. Then, by sharing cups of joy of the fruit of the vine, we Believers will be spiritually married forever to our Bridegroom Yeshua.
SIDELIGHT 1: For reasons that befuddle me, there has been extraordinary interest in the cup from which Yeshua drank at this Seder. This cup has been called “The Holy Chalice” or “The Holy Grail.” Mythology around this drinking vessel became prominent during the Early Middle Ages. The Chalice/ Grail was a feature of the legends of King Arthur. Several movies have had a plot to find the Holy Grail.
The Bible (Matthew 26:27) states Yeshua drank from a cup (Greek poterion || pronounced, pot-AY-ree-on || translation, “cup”). There is no adjective (“holy,” for example) that would describe this cup as anything special.
I will not bore you by recounting the trails people have followed trying to find this relic (“Holy Grail”). I suspect an unidentified Jerusalem caterer disposed of this cup in the first century, when he retired. Yeshua was an itinerant “preacher,” with no home of His own (Matthew 8:20). He had no way of preparing a meal. He relied on a local caterer to prepare the Seder for Him and His disciples. I suspect this unknown caterer used his stock of dishes for Yeshua’s Seder and re-used them in future engagements. Yeshua lived as a common Man, and I suspect He ate as a common Man might eat. To drink from a golden, bejeweled chalice at the Seder would probably have seemed inappropriate to Him.
People searching for this relic miss the point of Communion. The cup is unimportant. The red wine, symbolizing Yeshua’s blood sacrifice, is the all-important symbol. If the Chalice/ Grail had persisted, and was found, placed in a cathedral, and worshiped (“venerated”) by religious pilgrims, this seemingly would be a violation of one of the Ten Commandments (Exodus 20:4): [God spoke] “Do not make for yourself a graven image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above or on the earth below or in the water under the earth.” Making a cup to use as a dish is acceptable. Using a cup in veneration may cross a line. END sidelight 1.
SIDELIGHT 2: Communion is a major feature of the Roman Catholic Mass. If I understand correctly, there are two elements of Mass Communion– bread and wine. The bread and wine constitute “the Host” (“the Eucharistic Host”) of Communion– LITERALLY, Yeshua’s body and blood. Catholics interpret literally Yeshua’s statement, “This is My body… / This is My blood….”
The Catholic Church adopts the doctrine of “transubstantiation.” Catholics teach that a Eucharistic prayer, words of Yeshua in the Gospels, and action by the Ruach ha-Kodesh will transform (through transubstantiation) bread into the actual body of Yeshua and wine into the actual blood of Yeshua during a Mass Communion service. [Transubstantiation = “change of one substance into another substance.”] Such change is considered literal, not symbolic.
At Shomair Yisrael, we use the same Communion elements (unleavened bread, grape juice), but consider them to be SYMBOLIC of Yeshua’s body and blood.
Yeshua used several examples of Himself being something symbolic, not literal (“I am the Bread of Life… || the Light of the world… || the Door… || the Good Shepherd… || the True Vine…,” and so forth). As many times and places as Mass (with Communion) is celebrated weekly around the world, Yeshua would need to weigh thousands of pounds (and regenerate thousands of pounds of flesh and blood weekly) to supply the needs of all Catholic churches.
A Catholic priest would likely challenge my analysis, accusing me of misrepresenting Church doctrine. We should interpret Yeshua’s words in a commonsense manner, rather than accept questionable interpretations of some unnamed clerics many centuries ago. Communion is a beautiful spiritual teaching of the Lord, not a literal invitation for cannibalism (eat Yeshua’s actual body, drink Yeshua’s actual blood). Incidentally, laboratory tests exist that would reliably demonstrate that the Eucharistic Host (bread and wine) in a Catholic Mass contains NO trace of human tissue origin. The Host contains only materials of wheat and grape origin (no human origin). No ecclesiastical doctrines will change that fact. Period. END sidelight 2.
WHEN WAS YESHUA CRUCIFIED? We are indebted to the authors of books of the Bible. We believe they were inspired by the Ruach ha-Kodesh in the writing of these books (2 Timothy 3:16-17): All Scripture is inspired by God and useful for teaching, for reproof, for restoration, and for training in righteousness, so that the person belonging to God may be capable, fully equipped for every good deed. Even so, these authors left out details we would like to know. Of course, the Bible is meant to be a book of faith, not social media accounts of the Messiah’s life. Imagine how the Holy Bible would read, if today’s Facebook “influencers” wrote about Yeshua’s ministry!
Several thoughts on the date of Yeshua’s crucifixion have been advanced
In 2018, a blogger, identifying himself only as “Joel,” posted an interesting blog about the date of Yeshua’s crucifixion, based on clues found in the Bible. I only use a portion of Joel’s blog. Read the entirety of Joel’s interesting blog at: https://www.christianevidence.net/2018/04/evidence-for-jesus-crucifixion-on-aprilhtml .
I “borrow heavily” from Joel’s blog. (“Borrow heavily” sounds much nicer than “plagiarize.”) I may have come to many of the same conclusions as Joel with independent research, but he has saved me hours of work. Thank you, Joel. Joel concludes the following about the date of Yeshua’s crucifixion by overlapping known time periods revealed in the Bible’s text. (Joel offers more Scripture citations than I include because of space considerations in an RR.)
CAIAPHAS WAS THE JEWISH HIGH PRIEST: The Gospels suggest that High Priest Caiaphas instigated Yeshua’s crucifixion (John 11:49-53): But one of them, Caiaphas, who was kohen gadol that year, said to them, “You know nothing! You don’t take into account that it is better for you that one man die for the people rather than for the whole nation to be destroyed.” Now he did not say this by himself; but as the kohen gadol that year, he prophesied that Yeshua would die for the nation. And not for the nation only, but also so that He might gather together into one the scattered children of God. So from that day on, they plotted to kill Him. CLUE: Caiaphas was High Priest (Kohen Gadol) from AD 18-36, placing Yeshua’s crucifixion in this time period.
PONTIUS PILATE WAS GOVERNOR OF JUDEA: All four Gospels agree that Pontius Pilate, governor of Judea, ordered Yeshua’s crucifixion (for example, Matthew 27:24-26): When Pilate saw he was accomplishing nothing, but instead a riot was starting, he took some water and washed his hands in front of the crowd. “I am innocent of this blood,” he said. “You see to it yourselves!” All the people answered and said, “His blood be on us and on our children!” Then he released to them Bar-Abba. And after he had Yeshua scourged, he handed Him over to be crucified. CLUE: Pilate was Judea’s governor between AD 26-36, placing Yeshua’s crucifixion in this time period.
TIBERIUS CAESAR WAS EMPEROR OF THE ROMAN EMPIRE: Luke wrote that John the Immerser’s (John the Baptizer’s) ministry began at a date we recognize as AD 29– the fifteenth year of Tiberius Caesar’s reign of the Roman Empire (Luke 3:1-2): It was now the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar– when Pontius Pilate was governor of Judea, and Herod was tetrarch of the Galilee, and his brother Philip was tetrarch of the region of Ituraea and Trachonitis, and Lysanias was tetrarch of Abilene. During the high priesthood of Annas and Caiaphas, the word of God came upon John, the son of Zechariah, in the wilderness. All four Gospels agree that Yeshua’s ministry followed John the Immerser (for example, Luke 3:21-22): Now when all the people were immersed [by John], Yeshua also was immersed. And while He was praying, heaven was opened and the Ruach ha-Kodesh came down upon Him in bodily form like a dove. And from out of heaven came a voice, “You are My Son, whom I love– with You I am well pleased!” CLUE: This information places Yeshua’s crucifixion between AD 29-36.
YESHUA WAS CRUCIFIED ON A PASSOVER FRIDAY: All four Gospels agree that Yeshua was crucified during the annual Passover (for example, John 18:39): [Pilate said to the Judean leaders] “But it’s your custom that I release someone for you at Passover. So do you want me to release to you the King of the Jews?” John recorded that early on Friday morning, the Jews had not yet eaten the Passover Seder (John 18:28): Then they led Yeshua from Caiaphas to the Praetorium. It was early. They themselves did not enter the Praetorium, so they would not become unclean but might eat the Passover. CLUE: This information places Passover that year as beginning at sundown on a Friday. The only two Passover dates starting on Friday during the described time period are April 7, AD 30 or April 3, AD 33 (that is, the only two Friday Passover dates possible for the known time frame between AD 29-36).
THE THREE PASSOVERS: John recorded three Passovers during Yeshua’s ministry– at the beginning (John 2:13), the middle (John 6:4), and the end (John 11:55). CLUE: This procession of Passovers indicates a ministry span of at least a little more than two years to at least more than three years. Most Bible students believe Yeshua’s ministry lasted for three and one-half years. A previous section gave two Passover dates for His crucifixion (either AD 30 or AD 33). If His ministry starting date was AD 29 to AD 30, He would not have had enough time for an AD 30 crucifixion, so the far likelier crucifixion date was AD 33. The Friday before that Passover occurred on April 3, AD 33.
THE NINTH HOUR: Three Gospels record that Yeshua died at the ”ninth hour,” or 3:00 pm (Matthew 27:45-50, Mark 15:34-37, and Luke 23:44-46).
DANIEL’S REMARKABLE PROPHECY: I covered Daniel’s prophecy of the seventy shavuot in an earlier RR. Read this God-ordained prophecy in Daniel, chapter 9. In Hebrew, a shabua is one year (usually of 360 days), and a shavuot is a collection of seven years (seven “shabuas”). I will not revisit my earlier RR, except for this partial summary. Daniel and many Israelites were in captivity in Babylon. Daniel knew from the prophet Jeremiah that this captivity would last seventy years, and the seventieth year of captivity was nearing completion. He prayed to Adonai Eloheinu, asking what would become of his people after captivity. Archangel Gabriel was sent to answer Daniel’s concerns.
Gabriel divided Israel’s post-captivity future in this manner: From the issuance of the decree permitting the Israelites’ return– issued by Artaxerxes of Persia (see Nehemiah 2:1 ff) – B’nei Yisrael returned to build the Second Jewish Temple and rebuild Jerusalem’s walls. Seven shavuot (forty-nine years) were required to accomplish these building projects “in times of distress”
Then, the Jews lived in their homeland for sixty-two shavuot (four-hundred and thirty-four years). Their land was occupied by the Roman Empire and Yeshua lived here at the very end of this period. We now have accounted for sixty-nine shavuot (four-hundred and eighty-three years), when disaster occurred (Daniel 9:26a): [Gabriel said] “Then after the 62 [shavuot] Mashiach will be cut off and have nothing….”
When was Yeshua HaMashiach “cut off and have nothing?” This event was His popular entry into Jerusalem, riding on the back of a donkey as the humble Prince of Peace (to be contrasted with His riding on a white stallion in His future Second Coming as King of kings).
This day of Yeshua’s voluntary surrender was on a Sunday, one week before Resurrection Sunday. We celebrate this Sunday as Palm Sunday. Based on dates supplied in the Bible (especially the date of Artaxerxes’ decree on March 5, 444 BC [our calendar designation], which is a date calculated from historians’ research), knowing the span of sixty-nine shavuot is 173,880 days (69 shavuot x 7 years/ shavuot x 360 days = 173,880 days) Remembering there is no year zero and correcting for the differences in the Jews’ prophetic calendar and our Gregorian calendar (360 days per year [Biblical prophetic year] versus 365.25 days per year [our Gregorian calendar year]), we can compute the date of the original Palm Sunday at the end of March AD 33 (our calendar designation). During the following week, the Messiah surrendered to Roman authorities for crucifixion (”to be cut off and have nothing”).
When Yeshua entered Jerusalem to prepare for His surrender to Roman authorities, the sixty-ninth shavuot ended. Then followed inactivity in fulfillment of Daniel’s Seventy Shavuot prophecy, and the seventieth shavuot has yet to be fulfilled. This period of inactivity is called a “parenthesis” in prophecy studies. This last (seventieth) shavuot, to occur at a future date, will comprise the seven-year Tribulation. God is perfect in His timing. God shows His love by informing us of our future through His prophets (2 Peter 1:19-21): Furthermore, we have the reliable prophetic word. You do well by paying attention to it, as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts. Above all understand this: no prophecy of Scripture comes about from a person’s own interpretation. For no prophecy was ever brought forth by human will; rather, people spoke from God as they were moved by the Ruach ha-Kodesh.
Two different computations arrive at the same conclusion. The computation of the date of Palm Sunday (late March, AD 33), the date of crucifixion (April 3, AD 33), and the date of Resurrection Sunday one week later (April 5, AD 33) corroborate each other.
WHEN DID YESHUA DIE? Using multiple clues found in the Bible, we can conclude that Yeshua died at 3:00 pm (local time) on Friday, April 3, AD 33 (our calendar designation). If you recall an earlier RR I wrote a few months ago, it is obvious that no one knows when Yeshua was born. (Birthdays were not very important to the ancients.) I believe Yeshua’s birth date was in the Fall a few years BC. He was certainly not born on December 25 (traditional Christmas) – a date the Roman Catholic Church appropriated from pagan religions.
At a date and time (3:00 pm on April 3, 33), while the Jewish High Priest announced, “It is completed” (that is, the Passover sacrifices are completed for the year), our High Priest Yeshua announced, “It is completed” (that is, Yeshua’s mission from God the Father had been completed by His sacrificial death).
Some scholars suggest other dates for Yeshua’s crucifixion. Passover, AD 30 is most common. I believe the date suggested from Biblical clues (April 3, 33) is sound. Of course, the act of crucifixion is far more important than the date this act occurred.
IS TODAY YOUR DAY? If you have not accepted Yeshua as your Savior, today would be an excellent day to listen to the quiet urging of the Holy Spirit to follow Yeshua God loves you. He wants you to come home and be with Him forever. You have not committed any sin that God cannot forgive. Someone at this synagogue is ready to tell you more about salvation, to pray with you, and to help you in any way possible to begin a new life walking in Yeshua’s footsteps. Yeshua has done the hard work. He died for you because He loves you. All He asks is that you love Him enough in return to change your life and follow Him.
Until next Sunday, Shalom and Maranatha.
Daily Bread, reading plan by Lars Enarsson (https://www.thewatchman.org/)
Day 22 of the Omer
Sun 30 Apr 2023 9th of Iyar, 5783
Le 21:1-15 Isa 58 Job 14 1 Jn 3 (Mt 14)