Today English speaking Christians all over the world are celebrating what they call "Easter." Most everyone else calls this holiday by some variant of the word "Pascha," which translates the Hebrew term for "Passover." What most Christians don't seem to understand is that the name "Easter" is derived from a pagan Spring, fertility deity who appears variously as "Eostre," the Saxon goddess of dawn with a hare's head (the origin of Easter bunnies); Ishtar, from Ninevah, introduced into Britain with the Druids; Astarte, the queen of heaven, from Babylon whose worship involved sexual depravity (The egg figures prominently in the worship of Easter Astarte,which was said to have sprung from an Egg, which fell from Heaven into the Euphrates). Even the fast of Lent, which was introduce in the sixth century, was borrowed from Babylon. A similar fast was observed by the Egyptians in commemoration of Osiris.
I hate to break it to you, but the Easter celebration is pagan, even the name comes from a pagan god. Notice the command that God gave to Israel:
"Now concerning everything which I have said to you, be on your guard; and do not mention the name of other gods, nor let them be heard from your mouth. Exodus 23:13 NASB
Yahweh told Israel not to even mention the name of pagan gods, but the church has a celebration that is named after a pagan god. What is Christian about Easter? Nothing! Easter is a pagan holiday. There is nothing about Easter in the Bible. Easter is never mentioned by the Lord, or the apostles, nor was it was ever observed by the early church!
Today is an important day for believers, but it has nothing to do with colored eggs, or bunnies, baskets or pagan gods. Today is about the resurrection of Christ. And this resurrection was foretold back in the time of Moses some 1600 years before it happened.
The resurrection was foretold in the Feasts of Yahweh. There are seven of these feasts; seven being the number of completion. These seven feasts represent and typify the sequence, timing, and significance of the major events of the Lord's redemptive career. So these seven feasts are acted out prophecies to Israel on what Yahweh was going to do in their future to redeem them. As they rehearsed these year after year, at their appointed times, they were seeing a picture of Yahweh and His complete redemption.
'These are the appointed times of the LORD, holy convocations which you shall proclaim at the times appointed for them. 'In the first month, on the fourteenth day of the month at twilight is the LORD'S Passover. Leviticus 23:4-5 NASB
Passover occurs in the spring of the year, on the 14th day of the Hebrew month Nisan (March/April). This past Monday, April 10 was Passover. Passover is a type, or picture of something much greater — it pictured the redemption of God's elect through the sacrifice of the sinless Son of God, the Lord Yeshua. In the evening of the fourteenth of Nisan, at exactly 3:00 p.m. the Passover lamb was to be killed. And 1600 years after Passover was instituted, Yeshua, our Lamb, was killed on the very same day, at the very same time as the Passover lamb; the 14th of Nisan at 3:00p.m. Like the lamb, Yeshua was without spot or blemish (1 Peter 1:19) had none of His bones broken (John 19:33ff). The lamb was the type, and Yeshua is the antitype.
'Then on the fifteenth day of the same month there is the Feast of Unleavened Bread to the LORD; for seven days you shall eat unleavened bread. Leviticus 23:6 NASB
The Feast of Unleavened Bread takes place on the 15th of Nisan and lasts for seven days. Most people try to make this picture the burial of Yeshua. That way you have Passover picturing His death, Unleavened Bread picturing His burial, and First Fruits picturing His resurrection. I don't think this is correct. Unleavened Bread can't picture His burial, He was not buried on the Feast of Unleavened Bread on the 15th. Speaking of the dead body of Yeshua, Luke says:
And he took it down and wrapped it in a linen cloth, and laid Him in a tomb cut into the rock, where no one had ever lain. It was the preparation day, and the Sabbath was about to begin. Luke 23:53-54 NASB
What day was the "preparation day"? It was Passover, the 14th of Nisan. Yeshua was buried on the same day He was killed, Passover. He was put in the earth before the sun set on the 14th of Nisan. Unleavened Bread starts on the 15th of Nisan and pictures deliverance. The children of Israel left Egypt on the first day of Unleavened Bread and had crossed the Red Sea by the end of the seven day feast. Unleavened Bread is a seven day feast picturing a perfect redemption.
The third Feast is the Feast of First Fruits:
Then the LORD spoke to Moses, saying, "Speak to the sons of Israel and say to them, 'When you enter the land which I am going to give to you and reap its harvest, then you shall bring in the sheaf of the first fruits of your harvest to the priest. 'He shall wave the sheaf before the LORD for you to be accepted; on the day after the sabbath the priest shall wave it. Leviticus 23:9-11 NASB
The word "First Fruits" is from the Hebrew re'shiyth, which is the same word used in Genesis 1:1 translated as: "beginning." It can be used for the beginning of an event, but its literal meaning is: "summit" or "the choicest of the choice" or the "best."
What date is this Feast to take place on? Passover was to take place on the 14th of Nisan. The Feast of Unleavened Bread was to take place on the 15th of Nisan. What date is First Fruits? There is no date given! The inspired text says that this third feast occurs "…on the day after the Sabbath…"! Most scholars say the Feast of First Fruits took place on the 16th of Nisan. They take the Sabbath here to be the Sabbath of the first day of Unleavened Bread. If that was true, why not just say, on the 16th? I believe that the Sabbath referred to here is the weekly Sabbath, the seventh day of the week.
There is no date given in Scripture for the Feast of First Fruits, because it is "…on the day after the Sabbath…"! It is always on a Sunday! So, the date would change from year to year, but it is always on a Sunday—the first day of the week.
So First Fruits is ALWAYS on a SUNDAY. As to the significance of the Feast of First Fruits, as with the other feasts, there is no room for doubt or speculation; it represents Christ's resurrection:
But now Christ has been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who are asleep. 21 For since by a man came death, by a man also came the resurrection of the dead. 22 For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ all shall be made alive. 23 But each in his own order: Christ the first fruits, after that those who are Christ's at His coming, 1 Corinthians 15:20-23 NASB
On one particular morning, on the first day of the week, the Feast of First Fruits were being waved before the alter in the Temple, and that particular morning some women were heading to an empty tomb. Sixteen hundred years before Christ's resurrection, Yahweh predicted in type and shadow that Yeshua would be crucified on the 14th of Nisan and would rise from the dead three days later on the first day of the week, and it happened exactly as God said it would. Prophecy proves the truthfulness of the Bible. God said certain things would happen, and they happened. No other book in the world contains the kind of specific prophecies found all throughout the pages of the Bible.
So today is the Jewish Feast of First Fruits, it is the day that Christ was raised from the dead. It is what we call, Resurrection Sunday. Yeshua not only defeated death for Himself, He promises resurrection and life to all who put their trust in Him:
Yeshua said to her, "I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in Me shall live even if he dies, 26 and everyone who lives and believes in Me shall never die. Do you believe this?" 27 She said to Him, "Yes, Lord; I have believed that You are the Christ, the Son of God, even He who comes into the world." John 11:25-27 NASB
In verse 26, Yeshua asks, "Do you believe this?" What is this? It is the statement about Yeshua Himself that He gives in verse 25. He tells Mary that He is the resurrection and life. But that's not all; He asks her to believe. Yeshua is saying, "I guarantee eternal life to everyone who believes in Me." To believe that Yeshua is the Christ is in essence to believe that He is the guarantor of eternal life to everyone who trusts in Him.
Because of the Resurrection, these words carry weight they never would have carried otherwise. If He had remained in the grave, the question of whether or not He is the only way to heaven would be a matter of debate. However, the Resurrection answers the question and ends the argument once and for all. Yeshua has power over death, so I guess that means He is everything He claimed to be.
Notice what Yeshua is saying, "He who believes in me shall live [spiritually], even if he dies [physically], and everyone who lives [physically], and believes in Me, shall never die [spiritually]."
Two categories of believers are discussed: those who would die before the resurrection, and those who would not. So which category are you in? Are we living pre resurrection or post resurrection? In order to answer this we need to know, What exactly is the Resurrection and when is it to happen?
The traditional view that is held by most of the Church is this: When a believer dies, their body goes into the grave and their spirit goes to heaven to be with the Lord. They are in a disembodied state awaiting the resurrection at the end of time. Then at the end of time the Lord returns, resurrects all the decayed bodies of the dead saints, puts them back together, then changes the physically resurrected bodies into spiritual immortal bodies like Christ's. Does that sound like what you have been taught? That is basically what the Church teaches abut the resurrection, but is it what the Bible teaches?
In order to understand resurrection we must understand the when of the resurrection. Notice what Paul says during his trial before Felix. In Paul's defense he makes this statement:
"But this I admit to you, that according to the Way which they call a sect I do serve the God of our fathers, believing everything that is in accordance with the Law and that is written in the Prophets; having a hope in God, which these men cherish themselves, that there shall certainly be a resurrection of both the righteous and the wicked. Acts 24:14-15 NASB
Do you see the "when" of the resurrection in this verse? No, you don't because the NASB obscures the text. Look at YLT:
having hope toward God, which they themselves also wait for, that there is about to be a rising again of the dead, both of righteous and unrighteous; Acts 24:15 YLT
The words "shall certainly" in the NASB are the Greek word mello. Whenever mello in the present active indicative is combined with an infinitive, it is consistently translated "about to." Paul told his first century audience, "there is about to be a resurrection."
The Greek word "mello" means: "is about to," but is never translated in the literal fashion by major translations. I wonder why?
In Vines Expository Dictionary of Greek Words, on page 1038, Vine shows mello's primary meaning as: "to be about (to be or do). It is used of purpose, certainty, compulsion, or necessity."
Thayer's Greek Lexicon, on page 396, defines "mello" as: "to be about to do anything," and "to be on the point of doing or suffering something." The Arndt, Gingrich, Bauer Greek-English Lexicon defines "mello" as: "Be on the point of, be about to."
There are 110 places where "mello" is used in the Greek New Testament. In many places, by context, it can be seen to mean something about to take place.
Biblically, the resurrection is to take place at the Parousia of Christ. So if the resurrection was "about to" take place, then so was the Parousia:
"For the Son of Man is going to come in the glory of His Father with His angels; and WILL THEN RECOMPENSE EVERY MAN ACCORDING TO HIS DEEDS. Matthew 16:27 NASB
"Is going" here is mello. Vine translates mello here as: "The Son of Man is about to come." This verse is talking about the Second Coming and the judgment. At His coming He will "recompense every man"—that's judgment. And it says He is "about to come." How soon is about to? Look at the next verse:
"Truly I say to you, there are some of those who are standing here who shall not taste death until they see the Son of Man coming in His kingdom." Matthew 16:28 NASB
The "you" here are His disciples. He says that His coming will be before they all die.
If we are going to understand what Paul is saying about the resurrection, we must understand "audience relevance." Who is Paul talking to? Felix, Ananias,Tertullus and the elders. Paul told them, not us, that there was about to be a resurrection. So if the timing of the resurrection was "soon," what does this tell us about the nature of the resurrection? It must be spiritual! Time defines nature.
Something else that we need to understand is that Paul taught that the resurrection was the hope of Israel:
"And now I am standing trial for the hope of the promise made by God to our fathers; the promise to which our twelve tribes hope to attain, as they earnestly serve God night and day. And for this hope, O King, I am being accused by Jews. "Why is it considered incredible among you people if God does raise the dead? Acts 26:6-8 NASB
The hope of Israel was the resurrection from the dead. The word "resurrection" does not appear in the Hebrew Scriptures, but the concept does:
"Many of those who sleep in the dust of the ground will awake, these to everlasting life, but the others to disgrace and everlasting contempt. Daniel 12:2 NASB
"But as for you, go your way to the end; then you will enter into rest and rise again for your allotted portion at the end of the age." Daniel 12:13 NASB
Here we see a resurrection at the end of the age. This is what the Jews believed, as is seen in Martha's response to Yeshua:
Yeshua said to her, "Your brother will rise again." Martha said to Him, "I know that he will rise again in the resurrection on the last day." John 11:23-24 NASB
How did she know that? It was taught throughout the Hebrew Scriptures.
THE BIBLICAL VIEW OF RESURRECTION:
It is interesting to note that the Bible never uses the terms "resurrected body," "resurrection of the body," or "physical resurrection." Does that surprise you? The Church uses those terms quite often, but the Bible never does. The phrases that the Bible does use are "the resurrection of the dead" and "the resurrection from the dead."
So, in order to understand "resurrection." we must understand death. Resurrection is "resurrection from the dead." And the death that man needs to be resurrected from is spiritual. When Adam sinned, he died spiritually, not physically. Man's problem is spiritual death; separation from God.
Because of Adam's sin, we are all born dead, separated from God. But through Yeshua came the resurrection from the dead. Yeshua came to restore what Adam had lost, fellowship with God. Yeshua came to redeem man from death, to resurrect man back into the presence of God. The Bible is God's Book, about His plan to restore the spiritual union of His creation. Resurrection is not about bringing physical bodies out of the graves, it is about restoring man into the presence of God.
As a general rule believers didn't go to heaven prior to the completion of Yeshua's messianic work, but Yahweh made a few exceptions. Prior to the completion of Yeshua's messianic work people who died went to a holding place of the dead and waited for the atoning work of Christ and the resurrection from the dead.
In the Tanakh the Hebrew word for where they were prior to the resurrection is Sheol. In the New Testament the Greek word is Hades. What this place amounted to was a waiting area for the dead.
The Tanakh uses the word "Sheol" to refer to a place in the depths of the earth. The expressions, "go down" or "brought down" are used twenty times in connection with Sheol. The "depths of Sheol" are mentioned six times (Deut. 32:22; Ps. 86:13; Prov. 9:18; 15:24; Isa. 7:11; 14:15). Four times Sheol is described as the farthest point from heaven (Job 11:8; Ps. 139:8; Isa. 7:11; Amos 9:2). Often Sheol is parallel with the "pit" (Job 17:13-14; 33:18; Ps. 30:3; 88:3-4; Prov. 1:12; Isa. 14:15; 38:18; Ezek. 31:14-17). Nine times it is parallel with death (2 Sam. 22:6; Ps. 18:4-5; 49:14; 89:48; 116:3; Prov. 5:5; Isa. 28:15,18; Hos. 13:14; Hab. 2:5). Sheol is described in terms of overwhelming floods, water, or waves (Jonah 2:2-6). Sometimes, Sheol is pictured as a hunter setting snares for its victim, binding them with cords, snatching them from the land of the living (2 Sam 22:6; Job 24:19; Ps. 116:3). Sheol is a prison with bars, a place of no return (Job 7:9; 10:21; 16:22; 21:13; Ps. 49:14; Isa. 38:10). People could go to Sheol alive (Num. 16:30,33; Ps. 55:15; Prov. 1:12).
In Jewish tradition it was also known as "Abraham's bosom" since at death, the faithful Israelite was said to be "gathered unto his fathers." Whatever it was called, it was not Heaven:
"Brethren, I may confidently say to you regarding the patriarch David that he both died and was buried, and his tomb is with us to this day. Acts 2:29 NASB
"For it was not David who ascended into heaven, but he himself says: 'THE LORD SAID TO MY LORD, "SIT AT MY RIGHT HAND, Acts 2:34 NASB
David was dead, but he did not go to Heaven. But he had a promise that he someday would. God had promised to redeem His people from the grave:
Shall I ransom them from the power of Sheol? Shall I redeem them from death? O Death, where are your thorns? O Sheol, where is your sting? Compassion will be hidden from My sight. Hosea 13:14 NASB
But God will redeem my soul from the power of Sheol, For He will receive me. Selah. Psalms 49:15 NASB
This verse expresses hope that God will provide salvation beyond the grave, one of the few references in the Tanakh to life after death. This verse anticipates the clear New Testament teaching of life after death, eternal life, and salvation by God.
All people were believed to go to Sheol when they die:
What man can live and not see death? Can he deliver his soul from the power of Sheol? Selah. Psalms 89:48 NASB
To be taken out of Sheol and brought into the presence of the Lord is what the Bible calls resurrection. Resurrection has nothing to do with physical bodies coming out of graves. Daniel spoke of this in:
"And many of those who sleep in the dust of the ground will awake, these to everlasting life, but the others to disgrace and everlasting contempt. Daniel 12:2 NASB
According to the Bible, when was the resurrection to take place? The Scriptures testify that the time of the resurrection was to be at the end of the Old Covenant age:
"But as for you, go your way to the end; then you will enter into rest and rise again for your allotted portion at the end of the age." Daniel 12:13 NASB
We know this to have happened in A.D. 70 with the destruction of the Jewish Temple. The disciples knew that the fall of the Temple and the destruction of the city meant the end of the Old Covenant age and the inauguration of a New Age.
Since we know that the resurrection is past, we know that it was spiritual and not physical. The resurrection of the dead that took place at the end of the Old Covenant in A.D. 70 was not a biological resurrection of dead decayed bodies but was a release from Sheol of all who had been waiting through the centuries to be reunited with God in the heavenly kingdom.
We can see from the teaching of Hymenaeus and Philetus several things about the resurrection beliefs of the early Christians:
and their talk will spread like gangrene. Among them are Hymenaeus and Philetus, men who have gone astray from the truth saying that the resurrection has already taken place, and they upset the faith of some. 2 Timothy 2:17-18 NASB
The early Christians must have believed that the resurrection would be spiritual in nature, and, therefore, not subject to confirmation by any physical evidence. If the early Christians had believed that the resurrection would involve the physical bodies coming out of the graves, as is taught today, Hymenaius and Philitus could never have convinced anyone that the resurrection had already happened.
They also must have believed that life on earth would go on with no material change after the resurrection. They didn't believe that they would be on a renovated planet earth as a consequence of the resurrection. Otherwise, the teaching of Hymenaeus and Philetus would have been impossible. No one would have paid any attention to them.
The reason that their teaching that the resurrection had already happened was overthrowing the faith of some was that it postulated a consummation of the spiritual kingdom, while the earthlyTemple in Jerusalem still stood. This was a mixture of Law and grace. This destroyed the faith of some by making the works of the Law a part of the New Covenant.
So the resurrection that Paul said was "about to happen" in Acts 24:15 was a spiritual re-gathering of God's covenant people. The resurrection of the dead that took place at the end of the Old Covenant in A.D. 70 was not a biological resurrection of dead decayed bodies, but a release from Sheol of all who had been waiting through the centuries to be reunited with God in the heavenly kingdom. They were no longer separated from God (dead), they were now in His presence (alive).
What about us? What about believers who have lived since A.D. 70, when are we resurrected? Let's go back to Yeshua's words to Martha:
Yeshua said to her, "I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in Me will live even if he dies, and everyone who lives and believes in Me will never die. Do you believe this?" John 11:25-26 NASB
So Yeshua is saying, "He who believes in me [OC believer] shall live [spiritually], even if he dies [physically], and everyone who lives [physically], and believes in Me, [NC believer] shall never die [spiritually]."
Two categories of believers are discussed: those who would die before the resurrection, and those who would not. We are living post resurrection. We are the ones, "who lives [physically], and believes in Me, [NC believer] shall never die [spiritually]." We receive a resurrection from the dead when we trust in Christ.
And you were dead in your trespasses and sins, Ephesians 2:1 NASB
Spiritual death is an inability to respond to things of the spirit. By saying that we were spiritually "dead," he means the kind of deadness that requires a resurrection:
even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Yeshua, Ephesians 2:5-6 NASB
Notice what Paul says is the solution to the problem of being spiritually dead. He says, God, "made us alive together with Christ…"—the subject of this verb is God in verse 4. Giving life is the only solution. Notice that the solution is not for God to convict us, woo us, scare us, He must give us life!
"Made us alive together with Christ"—the phrase "…made us alive together with…" is one word in the Greek language. It is the Greek word suzoopoieo. It is a first aorist active indicative of the double compound verb "to make alive" and "with, found only here and in Colossians 2:13. The word zoopoieo literally means: "made us alive" and in Scripture it is used of God giving life, it is used of a resurrection—here is talking about a spiritual resurrection.
The word used here is suzoopoieo, which is zoopoieo with the sun prefix, which is a positional association. We, believers, were co-resurrected with Christ. We see this same positional association in Romans 6 (co-buried, co-crucified, co-resurrected with Christ); and in Colossians 2 (co-buried, co-raised, co-quickened). And in our text we are (co-quickened, co-raised, co-seated in heaven with Christ); These all utilize the sun or co-prefix and all demand a positional stance of the believer with the reality of Christ. Paul is stressing the believer's union with Christ. You see, we needed a new union. We had Adam as our federal head. We need a new federal head. We need to be "in Christ." And that is what Paul speaks of here. Those who were hopelessly dead in sin received new life through that union. Please get this: We were dead, and God gave us life.
Yeshua gives us spiritual life, which is a resurrection from our state of spiritual death. We have eternal life and can never die spiritually. Therefore, we don't need another resurrection. At death our bodies go to dust, and we go immediately to heaven.
Under the New Covenant, there is no death, spiritually speaking:
But when this perishable will have put on the imperishable, and this mortal will have put on immortality, then will come about the saying that is written, "DEATH IS SWALLOWED UP in victory. "O DEATH, WHERE IS YOUR VICTORY? O DEATH, WHERE IS YOUR STING?" The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law; but thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Yeshua Christ. 1 Corinthians 15:54-57 NASB
What is sown perishable, is raised imperishable. These are terms used by Philo and other Jews to describe the gods. They are imperishable. The Stoics use that language to talk about the pneumatic beings, the spirit beings, they're imperishable. Whatever that spiritual body is made of, its made of stuff that's imperishable, just like those beings who are imperishable. Paul is saying that believers will be like the gods.
The resurrection, which was the hope of Israel, was a one time event in which the Old Covenant saints were brought out of Hades, which was spiritual death, separation from God; and resurrected in the presence of Yahweh, which is life. New Covenant believers put on immortality, at AD 70. Those of us who have trusted Christ post AD 70 have put on immortality when we trusted Christ. As believers, we live in the presence of God, and when believers die they are given a spiritual body and move into the spiritual realm. Christians are going to put on a body of the gods.