Today is Good Friday, according to the western church (it will be May 3 for the eastern church) and Christians all over the world are commemorating the day Jesus was crucified for the sins of the world. You would think that such an important event in the history of the church would hardly be a reason for arguments and debates, but it is. Every year, starting about a month before Easter, discussions start popping up in Christian forums on the internet and between Christians in real life about whether or not Jesus was crucified on a Friday. The majority says that that was the case and support their view by pointing out that the Gospels all agree that the next day was a Sabbath. Since the Sabbath is on Saturday, the crucifixion must have been on a Friday. Others point out that the first day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread was always a Sabbath, no matter what day of the week it was. They say that it must have been that Sabbath that followed the crucifixion, since there are only two nights between Friday afternoon and Sunday morning, not three as required by Christ’s own prophecy in Matthew 12:40. People in this group then debate whether the crucifixion took place on a Wednesday or a Thursday and whether the resurrection occurred on a Sunday morning or on Saturday evening. But, whatever people believe about the days of the week, there are two things every Christian agrees on – Jesus was crucified for the remission of our sins, and he rose again from the dead.
Some of you who are reading this may have noticed the title of this blog – “Musings on the Torah” – and maybe you’ve read my first entry that mentions that this blog is going to be all about the Torah. So, why am I blogging about Good Friday (or Good Thursday or Good Wednesday or whatever)? What has that got to do with the Torah? Actually, it has quite a bit to do with the Torah.
In the book of Exodus we are told about a time when the Israelites were slaves in Egypt. God sent Moses to deliver them out of bondage, but Pharaoh wouldn’t listen to his demands that he let the people go to serve God. God then sent a series of 10 plagues to judge Egypt and its false gods. The final plague – the death of the firstborn – is the one Good Friday is all about. At midnight, the Lord went throughout the land of Egypt and killed the firstborn in every house. From the house of the lowliest of servants to the palace of Pharaoh himself, there was not a house where there was not someone dead. Well… Almost. The firstborn in the homes of the Israelites didn’t die.
God told the Israelites to sacrifice a lamb for each household and take some of the blood and put it on their door posts. When God saw the blood on the door posts, He passed by that house. All that was necessary was for the Israelites to obey God and apply the blood, then they would be safe. In the same way, all that is necessary for us is to obey God and apply the blood of Jesus, then we too will be safe from God’s wrath.
But how do we “apply the blood”? First, acknowledge that you need a savior. Then realize that Jesus is the only one who can save you. Have faith in him and what he did for you on the cross, and God will “apply the blood” on your behalf.
If you ask Christians whether they celebrate Easter, most of them will answer in one of two ways.
- The majority of Christians celebrate Easter. If you point out to them that the symbols most commonly associated with Easter, such as the Easter bunny, Easter eggs, Easter lilies etc. are all derived from Pagan fertility celebrations, they will tell you that it doesn’t matter. That’s not what they’re celebrating. It’s what’s in their hearts that matters, not what someone else did thousands of years ago. They are celebrating the resurrection of Christ, and that’s what’s important.
- A minority of Christians will point out the Pagan origins of Easter and say that, because God doesn’t want us celebrating Pagan festivals, they have totally rejected Easter and want to have nothing to do with it. If you ask them whether they don’t think that the resurrection is something worth celebrating, they will agree that it is, but that using Pagan symbols isn’t the way to do it. Since most people will assume that, if you celebrate Easter, you also accept all the Pagan paraphernalia that goes with it, these people have chosen to avoid “the appearance of evil”, and not celebrate it at all. Most of these people keep Passover instead.
Like most Christians, I was firmly in the first group, but then I came to realize the Pagan origins of Easter and it’s symbols, and I have spent the last few years in the second group. I have now been keeping Passover for about 15 years, and I’ve noticed something interesting.
All the feast days in the Torah have some prophetic significance. For example, Passover foreshadowed Christ’s crucifixion and the Feast of Weeks (aka Pentecost) foreshadowed the outpouring of the Holy Spirit. Between those two there occurred the most significant event in history – the resurrection. Why was there no festival to foreshadow that? The answer is simple. There was. It’s called the Feast of First Fruits, and is kept on the day following the weekly Sabbath during the Days of Unleavened Bread.
Now, here comes the interesting part… In the 15 or so years I have been keeping Passover, it has only happened once that it wasn’t in the week before Easter. The Feast of First Fruits, with that one exception, has always been on Easter Sunday. The same thing happens this year. Most Jews celebrated Passover yesterday (Monday, March 25), but if we base the calendar on the actual sighting of the new moon from Jerusalem, as it was in the days of Christ, the Days of Unleavened Bread start at sunset tomorrow (Wednesday March 27). Tomorrow I will be eating a Passover meal in remembrance of the fact that my Saviour gave His life so that I could receive forgiveness. On Sunday I will be celebrating Resurrection Day to celebrate the fact that He conquered death so that I could have eternal life.
What’s this “Torah” thing I keep hearing about? Do the people talking about “Torah” belong to some weird cult? ‘ No, it’s not a cult, and it’s not weird. Torah is a Hebrew word which, in English versions of the Bible, is most often translated as “law”. So, why call it “Torah”? Why not just call it “law”, like everyone else does? There are a few reasons. One reason is that the word “law” conjures up certain preconceived and usually negative ideas in people’s minds. The main reason though is that “law” is not the best translation in very many instances. “Instructions” would often be better. Contrary to what most Christians seem to think, the Torah isn’t a set of laws that people had to obey to be saved and they weren’t punished with eternal damnation if they didn’t keep “the law” perfectly. The Torah is God’s instruction manual on how He wants us to live. It can refer either to the books of Moses or the instructions they contain. It was not given by a vindictive God who delights in punishing those who don’t do everything He sais perfectly, but by a loving God who wants the best for His children. In the Torah, God tells us the best possible way for us to live.
Welcome to Torah Musings.
When you build a house, you don’t start on the third floor. You start by laying a solid foundation. The size, shape and strength of the foundation then determine what kind of house you can build on it. When God started revealing Himself to us, the first thing He did was to lay a strong foundation. That foundation is the Torah, or “the Law”, as it is more commonly known. If we want to know what kind of spiritual house we can build, we need to know what the foundation looks like.
This site is a record of my studies and thoughts on the Torah and how it relates to what is said in the New Testament and, most importantly, to daily life. I hope you find it useful.