God’s timetable

God’s timetable is Jewish! Christ was crucified at Passover, rose on First-fruits, poured out his spirit on Pentecost and personally I believe that he was born and have an inkling, though no man knows the day or hour, that he will return at Tabernacles!

Pilgrimage Feasts (4)



Sung Psalm 132 (another pilgrimage Psalm)

Readings Acts 12:1-12 and 20:16

Harking back to Acts 2 why were the 120 there at Pentecost? We believe for two reasons, firstly keeping the law and secondly because Christ had commanded them to wait there.

Paul and the apostolic band are in Philippi at Passover (20:6), so they clearly were NOT keeping the O.T. law but DID observe the Sabbath on the first day of the week (v7). In the first instance (Acts 12) around the time Herod killed James, the feast of unleavened bread is mentioned just to give us the date. Secondly in Philippi the same feast is mentioned to again give us the time of year but then why would Paul want to be, if possible, in Jerusalem for Pentecost? This was not a necessity just a preference (he tarried twice vv4,10). This was about 58AD some 28 years after the Cross.

Possible reasons:

  1. Teach the Jews and proselytes (to Reform them gradually)
  2. Keep the Law
  3. Evangelism
  4. Meet the church (leaders)
  5. Christian liberty
  6. Just give us a date.

We believe it was for evangelism (albeit as a prisoner) and to meet church leaders.

The Pilgrimage Feasts (1)


Sung Psalm 120

Read 1 Cor. 5: 1-13*

The three feasts need mentioned together which is biblical, theological and always chronological in Scripture and related to:

  • The Jewish calendar e.g. Leviticus 23
  • Being in the land and the central place of worship
  • The agricultural year and sharing with the poor
  • Joy

The Pilgrimage Psalms 120-134 delineate the journey going up to Jerusalem but don’t follow a pattern.

In a multitude of ways Christ is the fulfilment of the O.T. Passover and redeems us from the bondage of sin (1 Cor.5:7). Sin like leaven starts small, spreads and affects the whole-like in a lump of dough and affects an individual, family or church. Church discipline is necessary for the impenitent wicked and those holding false doctrine. This is the application of the feast of unleavened bread in the passage read. Tolerating either evil, is not love but hatred (Lev.17:19). For an excellent exposition of this see “Walking in the way of love” by Nathan Langerak**

*Note that the feast of Passover being linked to the weekly feast of unleavened bread and the purging of the home of all leaven points to Christ purging us from our sins both definitively by our baptism into his death (at Passover) and progressively throughout our lifetime (the week-long feast of unleavened bread) (see Rom.6:3,4 and I John 1:9, Titus 2:14, 2 Cor.7:1).



Passover (10) Conclusion


Sung Psalm 34:14-20

Read John 6:11-15 (v4 ref.to Passover)

Four types of bread mentioned or alluded to  in this chapter:

  1. Unleavened bread (Passover).
  2. Barley bread (leavened)-eaten and left over (v9)
  3. Manna -bread from heaven (v32.
  4. Bread of life-Christ (v51).

Christ was present at three Passovers:

  1. John 2:13
  2. John 6:4

Between these we have Tabernacles (7:1) and dedication (10:22).

  1. John 11:55
  2. John 13

More allusions to Christ being the fulfilment of Passover:

He is called the Lamb of God (John 1:29), and the spotless lamb without blemish (I Peter 1:19), without broken bones (Ps. 34:20) and our Passover (I Cor.5:7). Also noteworthy that in contrast to the yearly Passover, Christ was offered ONCE for all (Heb.10:14).

P.S.  There are 27 references to the lamb in Revelation, the vast majority of all the NT rerefences. It is as the Lamb slain but now ruling that Christ opens up and brings to pass God’s eternal decree (5:1), causes terror and pours out his wrath when he judges all men (6:16,17), cares for his own (7:17), triumphs over evil and all his enemies (17:14), and marries his blood-bought bride (19:7). Hallelujah!

There are thirty seven references to blood in Hebrews (20) and Revelation (17). Christ was the lamb without spot (Heb.9:14) whose blood was sprinkled on all his people (Heb. 11:28, 12:24, I Peter 1:2) just as its type was sprinkled  over the Jews’ doorposts, but his is the blood of the everlasting covenant (Heb.13:20), the bloody covenant, which is signified and sealed in the Lord’s Supper and the redemptive means of the salvation of the church in all ages.

Passover (9)

Sung Psalm 42:1-5 (note verse 4b true of Christ)

Reading John 2:13-3:2 (Christ’s first of three attendances at Passover)

Additional to last week’s O.T.  references Daniel 10:1-4 when Daniel prays and partially fasts took place during three weeks that included Passover.

Passover in N.T. Points to note:

1.       Passover was the most important feast to the Jews, and that included dispersed Jews and proselytes (Gentiles).

2.       Best attended (John 11:55, Luke 2:41 and Acts 2).

3.       Hard to find a place to keep the feast (Christ had pre-booked!)

4.       Opportunity to “fleece” people-moneychangers and animals for sale (Matt.21:12)

5.       Opportunity for Christ (and priests) to teach (Luke 2:46, John 3:3, Matthew 22-24).

6.       Degrees of holiness (John 11:55, 18:28, 19:31).

7.       Singing (Psalm 114-118, Mark 14:26).


Passover (8)

The Passover before, during, and after, the exile.

Sung Psalm 42:1-5 (Psalmist is exiled from temple)

Reading Ezra 6:13-22

After the return of many from the Babylonian captivity and the rebuilding of the temple, albeit on a much smaller scale, it was dedicated and shortly thereafter a great Passover was celebrated, though the numbers attending and the number of sacrifices was a fraction of that in Solomon’s day. We believe there were no Passover celebrations in Babylon.

They had to be without blemish and roasted.

Isaiah 30:29 going back to the days of Hezekiah suggests a Passover celebration on the occasion of the decimation of the Assyrian army by the angel of death at night during the full moon (middle of month). 185,000 enemy were killed.

Ezekiel 45:21-24 (in captivity). The prince provides all the sacrifices (which is irregular) and they differ from what is prescribed in Numbers 28:19-22. The interpretation is that this is prophetic of the abrogation of the ceremonial Mosaic law and the coming of the New Testament age with the church as the new temple.

Passover (7)

Sung Ps.132:1-9 (A pilgrim Psalm mentioning the ark)

Reading II Chron.35:1-19 (v18 ark)

Passover was the chief feast of the ceremonial law, the first to be celebrated, the first in order during the year and the last one ever kept 9BY Christ and the disciples).

Vv1-6  exhortation of Josiah to priests and Levites

Vv7-9 Gift of offerings

Vv10-19 Celebration of Passover

Ranked in order of greatness the Passovers after entry to the promised land were:

  1. Under Samuel *2
  2. Under Josiah (Judah only) *4
  3. Under Solomon *1
  4. Under Hezekiah (United Kingdom) *3

*Estimated rank of numbers

Why was Josiah’s so great?

Probable reasons: It reflected s real reformation of religion, it was done according to earlier revelation (Scripture), it was at the temple which was cleansed, the numbers of sacrifices were 37,600 lambs, it was well prepared (vv4,6,10,16), there were no irregularities (as when Hezekiah’s was done suddenly and many were unclean), significant preceding events (Hezekiah had temple reopened after wicked Ahaz had closed it; with Josiah book of law found….yet for all that Jer.3:6 suggests many of the people were pretending loyalty to Jehovah.

Passover (6)

The Passover during the Monarchy

Sung Psalm 120 (pilgrim psalm)

Reading II Chronicles 30

  1. King Saul’s reign (40 years)-no record of any Passovers.
  2. King David (40)-brought up ark, instituted public worship. Prepared for temple, but again no record although you would surmise it was being kept.
  3. King Solomon (40). Built temple, prosperous reign, extensive united kingdom.

We know in his reign initially it was kept at Gibeon (II Chron. 1) then at Jerusalem (II Chron. 8:12-16). But he fell into polygamy and idolatry (I Kings 11:1-13) and as a result the kingdom (representing the church in those days) was divided.


Review       Northern Kingdom-Jeroboam till Hoshea (prophet Hosea)

Southern Kingdom-Rehoboam till Hezekiah (finally till Zedekiah)

Chapter outline: verses 2-5   plan (synod)

6-12 messengers

13-22 Passover

23-27 additional feast

Unusual features:

  • Second month (see Num.9:11) because temple not cleansed (29:17,18), previous king Ahaz closed it and was idolatrous (28:24,25), priests not sanctified, people not gathered.
  • Levites killed animals instead of heads of houses (Ex.12:6)
  • People actually ceremonially unclean (v18) but the spiritual trumped the ceremonial! (cf I Cor.11:30). Hezekiah interceded.
  • Another seven days celebrated (like Solomon in I Kings 8:65)
  • Teaching (v22)

What made it so great a Passover? Ideas: Number of people, number of sacrifices, length of feast, gladness, Psalms, teaching, exemplary king and church leaders.

Passover (5)

Passover (5)

Joshua to monarchy

Sung Psalm 78:55-60 (note v 60 Shiloh)

Reading I Sam.1:1-21

It is reckoned 280,000 men had been circumcised before or at the first Passover in Egypt (now at the edge of Canaan all aged 38 or over) which left 720,000 under age 38 and born in the wilderness, needing circumcised at Gilgal.

Do we reckon the Passover was kept in the time of Joshua or the judges?

Hos.9:15 would suggest not for several reasons:

  • The idolatry of the people (The idols of Ur and Egypt Josh 24:14)
  • The choice of Saul (rejecting God as king) and his foolish behaviour with Amalek.
  • All the reprobate at the time of Joshua.

But Judges 2:7 suggests they did keep it even though that period was characterized by idolatry and defeat by their enemies followed by the raising up of judges to liberate them.

II Kings 23:22 mentions a great Passover unsurpassed SINCE the judges.

I Samuel 1 descibes Elkanah and his two wives going up to Shiloh for a great pilgrimage feast and Elkanah was a Levite (Kohathite) I Chron.6:35.

From Judges 21:19 and Joshua 18:1 we learn that Shiloh was the place where the tabernacle was set up and hence the destination for the Passover pilgrimage for hundreds of years till Jerusalem in the time of David.

But Shiloh fell eventually to the Philistines who carted away the ark (Jer.7:12-14, 26: 6,9, Psalm 78:60).

So when and where was this great Passover in the time of the judges?

We can narrow it down to the time of the last and greatest judge Samuel who was also a prophet (greatest since Moses), a Levite and Nazarite, a kingmaker and brought up in the tabernacle by Eli. It must have taken place at Shiloh before the ark was taken and Eli’s sons killed and during Saul’s time before his death with Jonathan, during which time it changed hands several times between Israel and the Philistines.

How was it reckoned to be a great Passover? Numbers of pilgrims or sacrifices? Depth of devotion? Presence of a godly King? We don’t know.

Passover (4)

Sung Psalm 114 (note ref to Jordan Crossing v3)

Read Joshua 5

Some other references to Passover in Pentateuch were checked Ex.34:23,25, Num. 33:3 and Deut. 16 (repeats).

Key N.T. refs. are I Cor.5:7 and Heb.11:28. Note that keeping the Passover was by faith (obedience to word of God to do an otherwise foolish-looking thing).

Joshua was courageous by keeping God’s law (Josh.1:8,9)

We come to Gilgal, the third Passover, after the first in Egypt and second at Mt. Sinai. Circumcision was mandatory so we have perhaps the largest mass circumcision ever with upwards of 600,000 males taking part, perhaps as many as a million (Josh.5:2 c.f. Ex.12:44).

Why had there been no circumcisions in the wilderness? We know that there was idolatry in the camp (Amos 5:25,26, Acts 7:43). Was there any piety? Yes (Jer.2:2,3).

Note the two sacraments together, one signifying entry into the covenant community and the other of keeping the covenant. Today we have the N.T. equivalents namely baptism and Lord’s Supper (conjoined in I Cor.10:2).

At the end of the chapter Joshua is commissioned by Christ appearing as a Christophany very similar to Moses at the burning bush.