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First Fruits vs. Easter: Which is the Real Resurrection Day?

In this article, I use the Bible to show that (1) Yeshua's (Jesus') crucifixion happened on a Wednesday, not on "Good Friday;" and (2) that His resurrection happened on the Biblical Holy Day of First Fruits, not of the pagan holiday Easter.

by William L. Nowell

God's Holy Day of First Fruits

The Book of Leviticus outlines seven annual Holy Days, or “festivals” of the Lord. The word translated as feasts or festivals in most English Bibles is the Hebrew word “moedim”. Moedim are days set apart by God as Divine appointments for us to meet with Him. However, one of the most overlooked and/or unknown of the Divine appointments is the Day of First Fruits, the topic of this article.

Let's begin by looking at what the Bible has to say about the first three Feasts of the Lord, their timing, and how they relate to the death, burial, and resurrection of our Savior. In Leviticus 23, God commands the Israelites to observe the Feasts as lasting ordinances for the generations to come. In other words, they are to observe the Feasts forever. The first Feast is the Lord's Passover. Then, on the day after Passover, the seven-day Feast of Unleavened Bread begins. And included within the Feast of Unleavened Bread is the Feast (or Day) of First Fruits, which takes place on the day after the Sabbath following Passover. This is important because the events of Yeshua's death, burial, and resurrection happened at the time of the Passover, the days of Unleavened Bread, and the Feast of First Fruits.

Empty Tomb

Let There Be No Misunderstanding

To understand the timing of events leading to the Resurrection, there are two important facts we must not overlook. First, we must realize that the apostolic writers did not use our (Gregorian) calendar. It was 1582 when Pope Gregory XIII adopted the calendar we use today. On the Gregorian calendar days begin and end at midnight. But according to the Bible, days begin and end at sunset. For example, in Genesis 1:5 (and in similar verses) we read, “And there was evening [first] and [then] there was morning [second]—the first day.” Consequently, the apostolic writers recognized days as extending from sunset to sunset. Moreover, they understood the Sabbath as beginning at sunset on Friday (on the Gregorian calendar) and ending at sunset on Saturday.

A second, yet equally important fact we must not overlook is that the Bible talks about two kinds of Sabbath days. In addition to the regular weekly Sabbath that falls on the seventh day, there are seven annual Great (or high) Sabbath days. Included as part of the Festivals of the Lord, these special Sabbaths can fall on any day of the week. This is important because, in the week of Yeshua's (Jesus') crucifixion, there were two Sabbath days.

Here is how we know there were two Sabbath days the week Yeshua (Jesus) was crucified. First, the Gospels tell us that in the evening before His crucifixion, Yeshua (Jesus) kept the Passover with His disciples. Later that same night, He was arrested, and then crucified in the morning. This lets us know His crucifixion was on Passover day—remember that Biblical days follow the pattern, evening first and then morning. But according to Leviticus 23:5-7, the Feast of Unleavened Bread, which begins immediately Passover, always starts with a Sabbath day. This is the first of the seven annual Festival Sabbaths. And this is the Sabbath that John writes about in his gospel. (John 19:31)

We also know from Mark 16:1 that after the Sabbath, women bought spices and perfumes to anoint Yeshua's (Jesus') body. But Luke 23:56 tells us that these same women returned home and prepared the spices and perfumes. But then they rested on the Sabbath. And so you see Mark clearly tells us that the women bought the spices after the Sabbath. Nevertheless, Luke tells us that they prepared the spices before resting on the Sabbath. Clearly, this is a contradiction; unless there were two distinct Sabbaths that week.

When Was Yeshua Crucified?

Tradition tells us that Yeshua's (Jesus') crucifixion happened on a Friday, i.e. on the so-called “Good Friday”. However, Yeshua (Jesus) said He would spend three days and three nights in the grave. (Matthew 12:40) Clearly, you don't need a Ph.D. in mathematics to know you cannot squeeze three days and three nights in between Friday evening and Sunday morning. So, either the traditional “Good Friday” teaching is in error, or Yeshua (Jesus) was really bad at math! And I assure you that Yeshua's (Jesus') math skills are not at fault.

So, how do we refute the traditional Good Friday teaching? We do it by comparing Scripture with Scripture to get the following chronology of the events of Yeshua's final Passover Week. And thereby, we refute the Good Friday tradition as merely a man-made myth.

Chronology of Yeshua's Final Passover Week

  • Preparation Day, that is, the day before the (Festival) Sabbath.
    • John 19:31, Mark 15:42, Luke 23:54
      • To avoid working on a Sabbath day, Jewish people typically did extra chores on the day before a Sabbath. Thus, the day before the Sabbath was commonly called “the preparation day.”
  • Yeshua and the disciples gather for the "Last Supper," an early Passover meal.
    • Matthew 26:20-28, Luke 22:13-15, etc.
  • Yeshua is arrested.
    • Matthew 26:47-50, also Mark 14:43-46, Luke 22:47-54 and John 18:1-12
  • Yeshua's crucifixion began in the morning at the nine o'clock hour.
    • Mark 15:25
  • Yeshua dies in the afternoon at the three o'clock hour.
    • Mark 15:33-37, Luke 23:44-46, Matthew 27:46-50
  • Yeshua's body is placed in a tomb.
    • Matthew 27:57-60, Luke 23:50-54, John 19:41-42, Mark 16:42-46
  • On the next day, the Festival of Unleavened Bread began with a Sabbath day; the first Sabbath day of Passover Week.
    • Matthew 27:62, Leviticus 23:4-7
  • After the (Festival) Sabbath was over, some women bought spices so that they might go to anoint Yeshua's (Jesus') body.
    • Mark 16:1
  • The women prepare spices and perfumes before the weekly Sabbath.
    • Luke 23:56 (see Exodus 20:8-11)
  • Very early on the first day of the week, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene found the stone rolled away.
    • John 20:1
  • Just after sunrise, the women enter the empty tomb and discover that Yeshua has risen from the dead.
    • Mark 16:2-6, Matthew 28:1-6, Luke 24:1-6

Though the Bible does not tell us the precise time of Yeshua's resurrection, we do have clues. First, counting forward precisely three days and three nights—no more and no less—from the time Yeshua's body was placed in the tomb brings us to the end of the weekly Sabbath. Consequently, Yeshua's resurrection most likely happened on Saturday evening, i.e. very early on the first day of the week. (John 20:1) Remember that the apostolic writers recognized days as beginning in the evening.

Passover to First Fruits timeline
Come, let us celebrate the Day of First Fruits, the real Resurrection Day.

The sequence and timing of the events of Yeshua's (Jesus') final Passover Week show, without any logical inconsistencies or contradictions, that (1) that He was crucified on a Wednesday; (2) He spent three days and three nights in the grave (sunset Wednesday to sunset Saturday); (3) He rose at the end of the weekly seventh-day Sabbath; and so (4) the real Resurrection Day is the Day of First Fruits.

Finally, by comparing Scripture with Scripture we know that the Good Friday tradition does not fit the Biblical account of events. So will you trust the clear teaching of the Word of God, or will you cling to made-made myths and traditions (Good Friday and Easter Sunday)? Choose this day Who you will believe. Choose God.

Historical Background / Prophetic Symbolism

Yahweh spoke to Moses, saying, “Speak to the children of Israel, and tell them, 'When you have come into the land which I give to you, and shall reap its harvest, then you shall bring the sheaf of the first fruits of your harvest to the priest: and he shall wave the sheaf before Yahweh, to be accepted for you; the priest is to wave it on the day after the Sabbath. On the day when you wave the sheaf, you shall offer a male lamb without defect a year old for a burnt offering to Yahweh, together with its grain offering of two-tenths of an ephah of fine flour mixed with oil, an offering made by fire to Yahweh for a pleasant aroma, with its drink offering a quarter of a hin of wine.” (Leviticus 23:9-13)

The lamb, bread and wine clearly point to the death of Messiah. But what is less obvious is the meaning of the barley sheaf. In apostolic times, the first-fruits barley sheaf, which represented the harvest to come, was plucked out of the ground at the end of the weekly Sabbath. The sheaf was then carried into the temple where it was kept till morning. Then at about 9 a.m., the time of the morning sacrifice, the priest waved the sheaf before the Lord as a first-fruits offering.

When we hear the word “wave”, we typically think of a side-to-side motion. However, the Hebrew word translated as wave can also be translated as "lift up." So, in other words, the priest lifted up the sheaf before the Lord. Now here's where it gets interesting.

Something curious and unexplained happened at the first appearance of the risen Christ. I find it curious that when Yeshua (Jesus) met Mary Magdalene, He would not let her to touch Him, and said that He had not yet ascended to the Father. (See John 20:11-18) But later, He did let others to touch Him. (See Matthew 28:9). Apparently He ascended in the time between the two meetings. I suspect that His ascension took place at the nine o'clock hour; the time of the morning sacrifice. And here's why.

Let's look at two overlapping facts. First, Yeshua (Jesus) serves a dual role as both the “First Fruits of the dead” and as our High Priest. (See 1 Cor. 15:22-23 and Hebrews 8:1-3). Second, it was the Temple priest who lifted up the first-fruits offering to the Lord. Furthermore, the priest did this at the hour of the morning sacrifice. And so, it's reasonable to assume that Yeshua, as our High Priest, would lift Himself up as a first-fruits offering the same time the Temple priest lifted up his offering.

In addition, Yeshua (Jesus) was crucified on Passover at the hour of the morning sacrifice. And so if He followed a consistent pattern, then He would also ascend at the hour of the morning sacrifice. Therefore, it's perfectly reasonable to believe that upon returning from His ascension, He would then let others touch Him. And we find that when He met a group of women leaving the empty tomb “they came and took hold of His feet, and worshiped Him.” (Matthew 28:9)

Why Christians Should NOT Observe Easter

Ishtar
Ishtar

Ancient cultures such as the Babylonians, Romans, Greeks, and Egyptians often worshipped the same or similar deities. Often the only significant differences between the gods and goddesses were their names. For example, Ishtar, Aphrodite, Venus, Isis, Inanna, Astarte, and Ashtoreth are simply counterparts in a pantheon of pagan goddesses. Ishtar, the Babylonian goddess of fertility, sex, love, and war was prominent among pagan deities. Her temples were dens of depravity where temple “priestesses” (literally prostitutes) performed “sacred sex” rituals. In the Bible, Ishtar is identified by her Hebrew name Ashtoreth, or sometimes as the Queen of Heaven, or Astarte. And in 2 Kings 23:13, she is described as an abomination, a detestable, vile goddess.

The Bible makes it clear that we are not to follow the customs (i.e. pagan religious practices) of heathen nations. (See Jeremiah 10:2) Yes, God is forgiving and He is patient. But even God's patience has its limits, and blatant defiance of His clear commands has its consequences. The Kingdom of Israel found this out the hard way when they worshipped false gods and goddesses. All we need to do is read 1 Kings 11:29-36 to see that God's judgment fell on them because of their idolatry. Though He preserved a remnant for Himself in the House of Judah (the southern kingdom), ten of the 12 tribes of Israel (the northern kingdom), suffered severe judgment. Today we remember the northern kingdom only as the “Ten Lost Tribes of Israel.”

Exodus 20:2-3

You might think that knowing how God dealt with the Kingdom of Israel over the issue of idolatry is unimportant. After all, nobody in the modern world worships fertility goddesses. Or do they? Well, as already mentioned, Ashtoreth is the Hebrew name of the Babylonian goddess Ishtar. This is important because the name Ishtar when translated into English becomes Easter! Yes, every year, millions of Christians unwittingly pay homage Ishtar—a pagan fertility goddess that God calls detestable.

One need not dig very deep to find that Easter and Ishtar have a lot more in common than just their names. For instance, the date for Easter was not chosen to coincide with the resurrection of Christ (First Fruits). Instead, it was chosen to coincide with the pre-Christian pagan festival of Ishtar. The Babylonians believed that on the first Sunday after the spring equinox, Ishtar landed in the Euphrates River in a giant egg. It's no coincidence that the Roman Emperor Constantine ruled that Easter was now to be celebrated by all churches on the same date.

Say no the to Easter bunny
Just say No!

Perhaps more important than the name and date of Easter are the customs associated with the holiday. The Babylonians, like many ancient cultures, worshiped those things in nature which they viewed as representing fertility. Those things included rabbits and eggs. Today's Easter bunnies, painted eggs and Easter egg hunts are simply adaptations of ancient pagan practices. Even the seemingly innocuous custom of wearing new Easter outfits has origins rooted in worship to Ishtar.

In the past, many people thought of the customs of Easter only as cherished traditions passed down through the generations. And so, they innocently embraced the traditions without knowing their origins. But in today's information age, there's no excuse for ignorance. Furthermore, knowing that you ought to put away pagan religious practices, if you chose to embrace them, then you are sinning. (See James 4:17) But just what is sin?

I like the way John D. Morris of ICR defines sin. He defines sin as "a crime against God." Wow, what a powerful statement! When we sin we are literally committing a crime against God. Think about that.

We must never forget that without the resurrection, we would all still be lost in our sins. (1 Corinthians 15:17) How then can we take this most Holy Day — the resurrection of our Savior — and pervert it with pagan symbols? Are you so committed to man-made traditions that you are willing to knowingly commit a crime against God Almighty?

In 2 Corinthians 6:17 we read, “Come out from among them, and be separate,' says the Lord. Touch no unclean thing ....” Will you dishonor the risen Savior with Easter observances steeped in paganism, or will you come out and be separate?

If the Apostles were alive today, would they even recognize this religion we call “Christianity”? No, I believe they would see it as a strange and foreign religion. This is because long ago the Roman Catholic Church disconnected itself from its Biblical foundation and lost its way. In doing so they created a new “Christianity 2.0” that is far removed from its Hebraic and apostolic roots. No doubt, the apostles would've seen this new religion as an idolatrous hodgepodge of Christian and pagan beliefs and practices. It is past time for the church to repent of its idolatry and return to Biblical Christianity.

1 Samuel 7:3
Choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve... as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord. (Joshua 24:15)

Conclusion

Let's summarize the main points of this article. First, the Scriptures show that Yeshua (Jesus) was crucified on Wednesday, and not on “Good Friday.” Second, Yeshua's (Jesus') resurrection happened on the Day of First Fruits, and not on Easter. Third, we've learned that God hates the pagan religious practices of heathen peoples. Fourth and finally, we've seen that the customs and practices traditionally associated with Easter observances are thoroughly pagan. Now with these facts in mind, what will you do? Will you celebrate the pagan holiday Easter along with its idolatrous customs? Or will you celebrate the Biblical Holy Day of First Fruits—the real Resurrection Day?

The Day of First Fruits, as originally given, was but a foreshadow of the Resurrection. Then on that momentous day nearly two thousand years ago, Yeshua (Jesus) rose from the grave to become the First Fruits of the dead. And in doing so, He breathed new life, meaning and relevance into this most important Festival of the Lord.

Three Crosses