PART 4 The Seventh Day Sabbath

Thu, 09/12/2019 - 6:30pm

PART 4 The Seventh Day Sabbath

CHAPTER 5

On What Day, Did Christ Suffer and Die on the Cross?

This was a question that I thought had been answered satisfactorily, when I was a member of the Catholic faith. According to them, Jesus was crucified on a Friday. This day was otherwise known as Good Friday. Why was it called Good Friday?

Mark 15:33-34, 37 And when the sixth hour was come, there was darkness over the whole land until the ninth hour. And at the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, saying, Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani? which is being interpreted, My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me? And Jesus cried with a loud voice, and gave up the ghost.

On this day, it is alleged that Jesus suffered and died on the cross, shedding his blood for the forgiveness of sins. The shedding of blood signified His death. Therefore, on this day the participant should be occupied with this reality. There was a long-held belief by the Catholic church that the meat of animals or fowls should not be eaten, because this would require killing them and as such might cause the participant to be occupied with the task at hand and not the shedding of Christ’s blood. Only until recently has this stipulation been revoked.

With that said, is the assumption by the Catholic church that Jesus died on a Friday correct? This will require some investigating. So, put on your detective hat and let’s try to find out the answer.

How was time reckoned during the time of Christ?
The first question we should seek to answer is, how was time reckoned during the incarnation of Christ? We discussed this briefly at an earlier time in this study. Let’s take a look at this again.

Jewish Time
The Jews had their own way of describing each day of the week and the times of the day. Each day was described as to its relation to the 7th day weekly Sabbath. The Sabbath was known as the Shabat, the day of rest. The other days were called the first day of the week or the first day of the Sabbath, the second day of the week or the second day of the Sabbath, etc. Each day consisted of 24 hours, which began and ended at sunset (6:00pm to 6:00pm).

This is not all. The Jews also had a way of describing time after sunset and before sunset.

Time after sunrise – 6:00am (daytime)
Third hour – the third hour after sunrise – 9:00am
Sixth hour – the sixth hour after sunrise – 12:00 noon
Ninth hour – the ninth hour after sunrise – 3:00pm
Sunset – 6:00pm

Time after sunset – 6:00pm (nighttime)
Sunset (6:00pm) to the third hour (9:00pm) – First Watch
The third hour of the night – 9:00pm
9:00pm to the sixth hour (midnight) – Second Watch
The sixth hour of the night – midnight (12:00am)
Midnight to the ninth hour (3:00am) – Third Watch
The ninth hour of the night – 3:00am
3:00am to sunrise – Fourth Watch
Sunrise – 6:00am

Roman Time
There was another way of reckoning time during this age. This was instituted by the Romans. The Romans adopted their days of the week from their mythical gods. Saturday was named after Saturn, the god of crops and harvest, and was initially considered the first day of the week. The second day of the week was called Sunday, which was considered as a day sacred to the sun. The third day and so on was as follows: Monday was named because it was sacred to the moon. Tuesday was named after Tiw, a god of war. Wednesday was named after Woden, the leader of the gods. Thursday was named after Thor, the god of thunder. Friday was named after Frigga, the wife of Woden. 21 Each of these days began and ended at midnight22 (12:00am to 12:00am).

Over time, while the names of the days stayed the same, the description of each day as to its’ place in the week changed. One reason for the change is as follows. As the worshiping of the Sun increased, the Sun's day (Sunday) advanced from position of the second day of the week to the first day of the week (and Saturday became the seventh day23). It was not until Christianity took hold throughout Europe in the 16th century that most calendars marked Sunday as the first day of the week. 24 It is a little known fact among most Christians that the Romans first adopted the seven-day week in the first century and that they borrowed it not from the Jews, but from the Egyptians.25

As is evident, the first day of the week was referred to differently by the Jews and Romans. The days of the Jews were related to the Sabbath, while the days of the Romans were associated with their mystical gods. Both had seven-day weeks and 24 hours in each day. The main difference was when each day began and each day ended.

In order to answer the question, on what day was Christ crucified on the cross, we need to find other clues that will help us in this endeavor.

Clue #1 At what time of the day was Christ crucified?

Mark 15:25 And it was the third hour, and they crucified him.

He was crucified (placed on the cross) on the third hour, 9:00am in the morning.

Clue #2 At what time of the day did Christ die (give up his spirit)?

Mark 15:34, 37 And at the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, saying, Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani? which is, being interpreted, My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me? And Jesus cried with a loud voice, and gave up the ghost.

Jesus died at the ninth hour, 3:00pm in the afternoon.

Clue #3 When was Jesus body placed in the tomb (the sepulcher)?

John 19:14a And it was the preparation of the passover,…

The following day was the feast of the Passover, the duration of such was one day. This particular day was special in that it was considered as a Sabbath. This feast occurred on the 14 day of Abib and commemorated the final plague, which God initiated in the land of Egypt in order to convince Pharaoh to let His people go. As for the details of this plague, in each house where the Jews dwelt a lamb would be killed and its blood applied to the doorposts. An avenging angel was sent by the Lord to pass over each house. Any house on which no blood was applied would have the firstborn male and of animals killed. As a result of this plague, Pharaoh was finally convinced to decide to let the captive Jews go free.

Matthew 27:57-60 When the even was come, there came a rich man of Arimathaea, named Joseph, who also himself was Jesus' disciple: He went to Pilate, and begged the body of Jesus. Then Pilate commanded the body to be delivered. And when Joseph had taken the body, he wrapped it in a clean linen cloth, And laid it in his own new tomb, which he had hewn out in the rock: and he rolled a great stone to the door of the sepulchre, and departed.

After it was confirmed to Pontius Pilate that Jesus was dead, Joseph of Arimathaea approached him asking for the release of His body so that he could place it in a new sepulcher, which was located nearby. Seeing that the following day was soon approaching as the time drew near to 6:00pm and was considered as a Sabbath, it was imperative that His body be prepared and placed in the tomb before the new day began so that the Sabbath was not violated. Some commentators stated that anyone who died being a malefactor (a criminal) would be buried before the beginning of the following day, if that day was a Sabbath. The words which referred to the time when Joseph approached Pilate were When the even was come. This probably referred to the time between 3:00pm, when Jesus died, and 6:00pm, the beginning of the Passover Sabbath. Therefore, we could allege that Jesus was placed in the tomb (the sepulcher) any time between 3:00pm to 6:00pm.

Clue #4 How long was Jesus body to remain in the tomb?

Matthew 27:62-66 Now the next day, that followed the day of the preparation, the chief priests and Pharisees came together unto Pilate, Saying, Sir, we remember that that deceiver said, while he was yet alive, After three days I will rise again. Command therefore that the sepulchre be made sure until the third day, lest his disciples come by night, and steal him away, and say unto the people, He is risen from the dead: so the last error shall be worse than the first. Pilate said unto them, Ye have a watch: go your way, make it as sure as ye can. So they went, and made the sepulchre sure, sealing the stone, and setting a watch.

On the day following Christ’s death, the Passover, the chief priests and Pharisees came to Pilate relaying to him the words of Jesus who said that after three days he would rise again. So, they requested permission to seal the tomb and set a watch over it. The seal could refer to the fastening of the stone by placing cords over it that were united by wax along with pressing upon it the seal of the governor. As for the watch, it probably consisted of a few soldiers. Some say that this marked the official burial of Christ.

Jesus body was to remain in the tomb (the sepulcher) for at least three full days.

Clue #5 On what day did Christ rise from the dead?

Matthew 28:1 In the end of the sabbath, as it began to dawn toward the first day of the week, came Mary Magdalene and the other Mary to see the sepulchre.

Mark 16:1-2 And when the sabbath was past, Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James, and Salome, had bought sweet spices, that they might come and anoint him. And very early in the morning the first day of the week, they came unto the sepulchre at the rising of the sun.

These verses tell us that Jesus rose from the dead on the first day of the week before sunrise (6:00am).

Clue #6 If Jesus rose from the dead on the first day of the week and his body was to remain in the tomb (sepulcher) for at least three full days, then does scripture identify for us these three days?

John 19:14a And it was the preparation of the passover,…

We know that the day following Christ’s death was as a Sabbath day of the feast of the Passover.

Deuteronomy 16:1-3
1 Observe the month of Abib, and keep the passover unto the Lord thy God: for in the month of Abib the Lord thy God brought thee forth out of Egypt by night.
2 Thou shalt therefore sacrifice the passover unto the Lord thy God, of the flock and the herd, in the place which the Lord shall choose to place his name there.
3 Thou shalt eat no leavened bread with it; seven days shalt thou eat unleavened bread therewith, even the bread of affliction; for thou camest forth out of the land of Egypt in haste: that thou mayest remember the day when thou camest forth out of the land of Egypt all the days of thy life.

Immediately following the Passover was the feast of Unleavened Bread. This lasted for seven days with the first and final day each being as a Sabbath. So, the day following the Passover Sabbath was one of the Sabbaths of the feast of Unleavened Bread. What about the third day Jesus was in the tomb? Does scripture tell us anything about this day?

Matthew 28:1 In the end of the sabbath, as it began to dawn toward the first day of the week, came Mary Magdalene and the other Mary to see the sepulchre.

This verse tells us that the day before Jesus rose from the dead on the first day of the week was also a Sabbath. Since we have accounted for the other two Sabbaths as pertaining to the feast of the Passover and the feast of Unleavened Bread, we could conclude that this Sabbath must be the weekly 7th day Sabbath.

Let’s gather together all of the clues we have found and try to answer the question, on what day did Christ suffer and die on the cross?

~ Jesus was crucified (placed on the cross) on the third hour, 9:00am in the morning. Mark 15:25
~ Jesus died (gave up his spirit) at the ninth hour, 3:00pm. Mark 15:25; Matthew 27:46
~ His body was placed in the tomb (the sepulcher) any time between 3:00pm to 6:00pm. John 19:14a; Matthew 27:57-60
~ His body was to remain in the tomb (the sepulcher) for at least three full days. Matthew 27:62-66
~ He was risen early, before sunrise (6:00am) on the first day of the week. Mark 16:1-9
~ The day following Christ’s death was as a Sabbath day of the feast of the Passover. John 19:14a
~ The second day following Christ’s death was the first day of the feast of Unleavened Bread, which was to be observed as a Sabbath. Deuteronomy 16:1-3
~ The third day following Christ’s death was the weekly seventh day Sabbath. Matthew 28:1

We should have enough information to make an educated guess as to what the day was when Jesus died on the cross. He rose from the dead on the first day of the Jewish week. The day before this was the weekly Sabbath or the seventh day of the Jewish week. The day before this was the first day of the feast of Unleavened Bread or the sixth day of the Jewish week. The day before this was the feast of the Passover or the fifth day of the week. At this point Jesus body had been in the tomb (sepulcher) for more than three full days.

Therefore, he must have been crucified on the day before the Passover, which would be considered the fourth day of the Jewish week in the afternoon at 3:00pm. Using Roman terminology, if Sunday was considered as the first day of the week, then this day would be called Wednesday. There you have it.

We have one more dispensation to look at in trying to answer the question, should a Christian observe the 7th day Sabbath?

Endnotes
21Karen Hill.
22Big Site of Amazing Facts, 06 February 2016
˂http://archive.is/www.bigsiteofamazingfacts.com>.
23Jan Spivey Gilchrist, “Sunday: a History of the First Day from Babylonia to the Superbowl”, 06 February 2016 ˂http://www.publishersweekly.com/978-0-385-51039-4>.
24Larry Wishon, “Sunday, the First Day of the Week a Myth?”, 07 February 2016 ˂http://www.larrywishon.com/SundayMyth.php>.
25Larry Wishon.

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