The Official Journal of the Ensign Trust, London

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THE ENSIGN MESSAGE

EXODUS AND EASTER

By

England

PALM SUNDAY commemorates our Lord’s entry into Jerusalem, which was in itself a fulfilment of prophecy, not only going back to the garden scene, but, more specifically as given to the Patriarchs, particularly Judah.

Judah was the one of whom the promise  was  made that the  sceptre  “shall  not  depart  from Judah, nor a lawgiver from between his feet, until Shiloh come; and  unto  him  shall  the gathering  of the people  be” – (Genesis 49:10) .

With that verse most people stop. They realise that Shiloh is the same word as Shalom, which is the same word as Salem – and this should tell us that this was not fulfilled by our Lord, for Shiloh means PEACE. He made it quite clear that He had not come to bring peace,  but  a sword.

But when our Lord comes finally to complete the work of ushering in His Kingdom, He becomes again King of Salem or Peace or Shiloh the One and the only One Who could usher in that reign of peace. But only after all enemies have been destroyed that Peace can rightly reign. The Scripture continues saying “… binding his foal unto the vine, and his ass’s colt unto the choice vine.That’s exactly what happened when our Lord said to His disciples that He must prepare Himself for His entry into Jerusalem. He told them to go to a certain place and that there would be a man with an ass and a colt. His instructions? To bring them to the Master, and if any questions were asked, to simply say that the Master has need  of  them.

So it was that Our Lord made provision and rode into Jerusalem  meek , and sitting upon an ass, and   a colt the foal of an ass.

It was a triumphant entry! That in itself was prophetic because the Scriptures make it clear that redemption is something affecting the whole of creation; not just Jerusalem, not just the city, not just people, but the whole creation groans – animal life, plant life and humanity.

Our Bible says “the firstling of an ass thou shalt redeem with a lamb” – (Exodus 34:20). Here we have this wonderful illustration of the firstling  of  the  ass;  the ass’s colt was symbolic of the redemption, of the King who was to ride the ass into Jerusalem. Of course the prophecy is the 118th Psalm, “Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord.” And that is exactly what   the   multitudes   shouted   as   he   rode   into  the city, “Blessed is he that  cometh  in  the  name  of the Lord. “In this a rebuke was made to the people of that city who would not have Him. But, ”you will not see  me  until you  say  Blessed  is he…”

They, and all will have to make that statement if they want to take part in the inheritance which will be to all mankind.

All these  things  represented  a  fulfilment  of  the prophecy concerning the Redeemer, made specifically in the promise to Judah, later to David, concerning the throne to be established forever, with our Lord’s genealogy given in Matthew and Luke to show that both Joseph, His protector, and Mary, His mother, are descended from David. Our Lord is definitely the root and offspring of David, a rod out of the stem of Jesse, David’s greater son; all of these inheritances being present  as  symbolic  associations as He made His triumphal entry into Jerusalem, being related to types and anti-types of ancient Israel which He fulfilled.

Such types go back to when ancient Israel experienced their exodus from bondage. Before they left their homes to go forth into the crossing of the  Red Sea, etc., they performed the killing of the lamb. The lamb was killed on the afternoon of the 14th day of the month of Nisan, the beginning of the feast of unleavened bread being preceded  by  the  killing  of the Paschal lamb. In the afternoon of both the 14th  and 15th of Nisan, they had to carry out a rigid and thorough search of their dwellings to make sure there was no leaven anywhere. They had to prepare themselves to receive this feast, that of unleavened bread.

Now, this illustrates that our Lord fulfilled the feast of unleavened  bread,  but before  that began  He was  the fulfilment of the Paschal Lamb which was embodied  within  the Passover.

The Hebrew day started at six o’clock in the evening and they carried on a twenty-four hour  period until six o’clock the next evening. Now we come onto something very interesting, because it was on the 14th Nisan when the exodus started, and that exodus was started by the killing of the lamb. The people had to carry through the whole observance, feeding on this lamb, and preparing themselves with sustenance  for that  which  was  to follow.

It  was  the  symbol  –  the  Lamb  slain  from    the beginning, entering into history at the time of the exodus.

Now this is wonderful. On the 10th of Nisan, the scriptures say, should be the selecting of the lambs. It took place on the 10th of Nisan, so our Lord, although He was the one to ride  into Jerusalem  on the  ass, as King, “blessed is  he  that  cometh  in  the  name  of the Lord”, He was also the fulfilment of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world. John had heralded the news some two and one half years prior to this, probably in August when the baptism of Jesus Christ would have taken place. Our Lord became the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world on 10th Nisan, but He also became the King in His revelation of that day on Palm Sunday. So the 10th Nisan was therefore fulfilled in our Lord becoming the lamb and the King, demonstrating that His Kingship was one which was yet to be realized. To demonstrate, He had told the Greeks that a grain of wheat falls into the ground and dies, illustrating by natural explanation the spiritual Kingdom that would follow death and resurrection. His  Kingdom  would  be  a  resurrection of life and  the resurrection  of  the people  who were to be  redeemed  by that  great event.

The Paschal Lamb had to be a lamb of the first year, a lamb without blemish. From the 10th when the lamb is selected to the 14th when it is killed there are the four days in between, in order for the lamb to be proved to be, what it was thought to be, a lamb without blemish.

The story now moves to midday on  14th Nisan, the equivalent of our Thursday. The lamb had to be selected four days earlier, on the 10th, for these events had to run parallel with the Exodus story. He became the Paschal Lamb. The people then had to make sure the place was completely cleansed of leaven,  and  made ready for wha t was to be the feast of unleavened bread, which later became known as the Passover  supper.

Our story now moves to six o’clock on the 14th which at once becomes the first hour of 15th Nisan. The drama began on the 14th in harmony with the Exodus story, and moves forward, thus everything associated with our Lord’s great  passion  took  place on the 15th Nisan. (Since the drama began on the  14th you may date your three days from the  14th.)

Leaven by its nature (to cause bread to rise) is referred to as a corrupting influence. It was necessary for the feast to be one of unleavened bread, and so it was that the people held the great feast of the Passover without this symbol of evil.

Now, if you want to talk about the parables of the leaven  and  apply  them  to  the  church,  you’re quite entitled to do so, because the church isn’t so pure as Our Lord Himself, and it does have things good and bad within it, as the leaven in the three measures of meal.

We rather miss quite a lot of the communion service as we concentrate only upon applying the symbolism of the vine, or of the vine being equivalent to the blood of our Lord. That’s quite true, absolutely true. But He was also the bread symbol. As the Old Testament states, “He was bruised for our iniquities.” We read in the Old Testament that “the seed corn is bruised.” And in the same way that the seed corn (grain) is bruised to make bread, the symbolism being that our Lord was both the bread and the wine in the sacraments of the Lord’s supper. (He did say “feed on me”. Also, you have the symbol of the manna in the wilderness, which sustained the people then; likewise, we have now the symbol of “Give us this day our daily bread” if we want the indwelling of the Christ within us as part of our prayer.)

Now, back to our story. They had finished the Lord’s supper, and then they went out. It was said that they first sang a hymn. It is most interesting that when we come into John’s gospel, in these wonderful verses which many of us have committed to memory, it is stated that these were words spoken by our Lord to His disciples as they made their way to the Garden. Think of it! It was said that John 14 and onwards was part of His discourse with the disciples.

Here now we have the mention that Judas came, and that the temple soldiers arrested our  Lord. We have before us something that may have escaped our attention. It is said that He prayed. He went apart from them and He prayed. And He went through this great agony of prayer. It is said that He sweated, as it were, great drops of blood. There was the  agony.  There was the beginning of the three days. There was the time, which even more than the cross itself, the point where the great redemptive act could still have failed. Here in the  Garden  He  said  “Father, if it be thy will let this cup  pass  from  me,  but  not  my  will  but  thine be done.” And there is this great  agony  if  He had wanted to say, “It is too much for me; I cannot do  it” – but He didn’t. And He prayed  and went through the agony of suffering which the drops of blood symbolized. Here it was that He said, “I  have finished    the  work   Thou gavest   me  to do.”

So the shedding of blood, in a sense, began in the Garden. That’s worth thinking about, very much so. However, you are in the 15th Nisan, so we see before us as unleavened bread, the last supper, the elements of bread and wine, the walk and the discourse on the way to the Garden, the great agony of His separating from the others and having this time of prayer, the betrayal and the arrest, and then being taken  before Pilate, going to Herod, then back to Pilate. And the release of Barabbas is significant. All of this and finally Golgotha, all of  it on this  15th Nisan.

So, when you consider 15th Nisan you find  the first hour ended about 9 p.m. on that date; the second hour would have ended at midnight; the  third,  and the time of the cockcrow, would have been at three; the  fourth  or  morning  watch  would  have  been  at sunrise. Then the hours – the third hour – from six to nine;  the sixth  hour from nine  to noon;  the  ninth hour on till three p.m., and by inference, the 12th hour would have been  from three to six. There you  come to the end of  15th Nisan.

What was important to the Jews was that Jesus be crucified and put to death, but they also knew that under Jewish law it was unlawful for a crucified body to remain on a cross during their Sabbath. Jesus therefore would have to be taken from the cross before that day ended at 6 p.m. and a new day,  the Sabbath, should begin. There is tremendous significance in this 24 hour  period.

At this point we see that one of the Sanhedrin has stepped forward to claim the body of Jesus. This was Joseph of Arimathea, known to us as the great uncle  of Jesus, the uncle of Mary, being the brother of her father. This kinship was obviously known by Pilate and the  other leaders, since there  was  no  objection to Joseph’s request, and since only a relative could have been given such permission. The burial could then take place, the interment in Joseph’s own tomb, before  6 o’clock, or before  the  12th hour.

Now we come to something upon which there are several viewpoints; it concerns the expression ‘the heart of the earth’. Our Lord said that “as Jonas was three days and three nights in the belly of the whale,  so shall the son of man be  in  the  heart  of  the  earth.” To speak of the ‘heart’ of the earth isn’t to indicate a spot 4,000 miles down, or whatever it is to the centre of earth, the radius of the  planet;  it does not mean the geographical  centre  but  the  heart  of the earth as far as the stronghold, power and dominion of Satan. Our Lord went, as it were, to that point. He began this journey to the heart of the earth when He went into the agony of Gethsemane. Therefore chronologically we need  to start counting the “three days  and  three  nights”  FROM  the  14th of Nisan. This will take us through to 6 o’clock  on 16th Nisan. And then He arose – after three days and three nights, 14, 15, 16 in the heart’ of the earth – on the Sunday, the first day of the  week.

We remember that Christ had to be “the first fruits of them that slept.” For, until our  Lord became the first fruits, there was no deliverance for all those who had preceded Him to the grave.

He arose then, on the third day, on the morning of the first day of the week. So, the three days are what we would call Thursday, Friday and Saturday, the 14, 15 and 16th Nisan, and He arose very early on the Sunday.

Christ became our Resurrection. He became Lord of the Sabbath. He was not bound by any Sabbaths previously being kept; He was the NEW Sabbath, the Lord of the Sabbath. Coming forth on the eighth day, He was the new octave of achievement, God in Christ becoming the Resurrection. “I am the resurrection and the life”  – not  I shall be, but   “I AM.

When Mary and Martha had been told this on an important occasion they had not understood it. Now, it is demonstrated. One of the most moving stories in the New Testament is of Mary coming to the tomb, and finding someone there whom she took to be the gardener. Oh“, she said, “tell me where you have laid him that I may …”, and He just looked at her. She knew. A most moving story, for this one who could not believe with her sister Martha when He had said, “I am the resurrection and the life”, – He proved it, and there He was, I AM the resurrection” , and she was so excited; she ran to all the others, and He said to go and tell my disciples and Peter. Now, why did He have to single out Peter? – “Go and tell my disciples and Peter.” Peter had been rather weak, denying Him three times and three times our Lord asked him “lovest thou me?”, “lovest thou me?”,”lovest thou me?” Three times Peter had to confess our Lord because three times he had previously rejected Him. Until he thrice confessed, he was not in the closest circle of the disciples. “Tell my disciples and Peter”. And she did. Then they came.

Now, Jesus had said to Mary, “Touch me not for I am not ascended to my father.” But later when He met with the disciples, He said to Thomas, “Handle me and see. A spirit hath not flesh and bones as  you  see  me have.”

And, when He had kept His appointment, He said “I will see you in Galilee.” When He came to them at Tiberias they were out fishing. Jesus laid coals, made a fire and prepared fish for them, serving them bread also. He had a body of flesh and bones, a resurrection body. And it was a body without blood.

The only thing our Lord in His mortality left on this earth was His blood.

“Flesh and blood shall not inherit the kingdom.”

 Our Risen Lord – His Kingdom – Our  Hope.

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