Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not unto your own understanding (Proverbs 3:5).
Easter is a celebration of victory. Commemorating the day on which Jesus rose from the dead, it is a celebration of the fulfillment of the oldest prophecy in Scripture.
“And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her Seed; It shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise His heel” (Genesis 3:15).
It was in Jesus’ savage death on the Cross, up on Calvary’s hill, and in his subsequent resurrection from the dead that the Son of God decisively crushed the head of the Serpent, and in so doing defeated death for all time on our behalf.
Jesus Christ triumphed.
“…And having disarmed the powers and authorities, he made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross” (Colossians 2:15).
Such was the victory of the cross that Jesus immediately descended into the very heart of Tartarus, to the very deepest, darkest places of Shoel, to preach victory to the rebellious spirits of long ago, imprisoned there because of their disobedience.
“After being made alive, he went and made proclamation to the imprisoned spirits—to those who were disobedient long ago when God waited patiently in the days of Noah while the ark was being built” (1 Peter 3:19-20).
This was a proclamation of victory, not a proclamation of repentance to those spirits of old who had disobeyed. This was a display to those disobedient spirits, long since confined to the Pit, of the final and ultimate victory of the Son of God, of the defeat of their nefarious aspirations to thwart God’s plans for His creation, and of the certainty of a near future restoration of all things.
All our hopes for the future are bound up in Jesus’ mighty victory at Easter. It represents our hopes for a life eternal with God, hope in our own personal restoration, and hope in a future Kingdom of believers. It is our hope in a future kingdom of perfect peace, justice and righteousness, where we will all be made whole again.
In an age when Christians are increasingly mocked, ridiculed and abused, the resurrection of Jesus Christ represents the certainty of our hope in the man who is God, Jesus Christ.
In an age when everything about the Christian faith seems to be increasingly ridiculed, and when the powers of this world are clearly trying with every fiber of their being to undermine the basis of our trust in Scripture, Easter is a time to remind ourselves of the absolute veracity of the word of God, and of just how much we can trust in Him.
It is a time to remember that we can trust the promises made to us in Scripture, and that we can trust its word for our lives and for the future. There is a very special blessing for us in Scripture regarding Easter, if only we could understand it.
Around 500 years before the birth of Christ, Daniel received the following prophecy:
“Seventy ‘sevens’ are decreed for your people and your holy city to finish transgression, to put an end to sin, to atone for wickedness, to bring in everlasting righteousness, to seal up vision and prophecy and to anoint the Most Holy Place.
“Know and understand this: From the time the word goes out to restore and rebuild Jerusalem until the Anointed One, the ruler, comes, there will be seven ‘sevens,’ and sixty-two ‘sevens.’ It will be rebuilt with streets and a trench, but in times of trouble. After the sixty-two ‘sevens,’ the Anointed One will be put to death and will have nothing” (Daniel 9:24-26).
This prophecy is essentially telling us that Messiah, Jesus, will be “cut off,” or killed, sixty-nine ‘sevens’ after the order has been given to restore and rebuild the walls of Jerusalem.
“From the time the word goes out to restore and rebuild Jerusalem until the Anointed One, the ruler, comes, there will be seven ‘sevens,’ and sixty-two ‘sevens.’”
The “sevens” refer to weeks of years. Just as there are seven days in a week, a week of years is seven years. Therefore, sixty-nine ‘sevens’ is sixty-nine multiplied by seven, equaling 483 years.
The prophecy is telling us that Messiah would come to Israel exactly 483 years after the order to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem had been issued.
However, the Jewish people were given a calendar that had 360 days per year in it, not 365.25 days per year, as our own has.
This is important to remember as it demonstrates the absolute specificity of this prophecy. It is telling us that God is so accurate in his predictive prophecies that we can hold him to account to the very day.
If the Jewish people work with a 360-day calendar, this means that they could work out, from the issuing of the decree to rebuild Jerusalem and its walls, the exact day on which their Messiah and King would come to them in the future!
Ancient Israel should have known the exact day Jesus would come to them as their Messiah and King!
360 (days in a year) x 483 years (69 ‘sevens’) = 173,880 days after the proclamation had gone forth!
Therefore, from the order to rebuild Jerusalem and its walls, there would be 173,880 days until the Messiah would come and be presented to the Jewish people – 173,880 days exactly, not a day more, not a day less. Prophecy does not get more specific than this.
Furthermore, because the issuing of this decree is a historically attested fact, recorded in antiquity, there can be no debate. The decree went forth on March 14th, 445 BC by Artexerxes I. This means that from March 14th, 445 BC, it was possible for the Jews to count forward and anticipate the coming of their own Messiah to the exact day!
What is shocking to realize is that Jesus himself held the Jewish people accountable for not recognizing his coming on this exact, specific day.
On every previous occasion during his ministry, when the people wanted to take Jesus and make him king, he always refused, usually slipping away.
“Jesus, knowing that they intended to come and make him king by force, withdrew again to a mountain by himself” (John 6:15).
Jesus withdrew because he knew that it was not yet his time; he knew that it wasn’t the correct day. It wasn’t 173,880 days from the issuing of the decree!
But which day exactly was this 173,880th day?
Count 173,880 days forward from 14th March, 445 BC and we come to April 6th, 32 AD. Jews know that day as the 10th of Nissan. This was five days before Passover and, importantly, the 10th of Nissan was the day in ancient Israel when the pure and blemishless Passover sacrifice was selected for the forthcoming Passover sacrifice.
It was on this exact day, at this exact time, that Israel’s true blemishless lamb, “…the Lamb who was slain from the creation of the world” (Revelation 13:8) had come to them, presenting himself to the nation for the only time as their King. They failed to recognize him.
We know this day as Palm Sunday, when Jesus came to Jerusalem humbly, riding on a donkey.
“Rejoice greatly, Daughter Zion! Shout, Daughter Jerusalem! See, your king comes to you, righteous and victorious, lowly and riding on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey” (Zechariah 9:9).
This was the 173,880th day from the issuing of the decree to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem, Palm Sunday.
In the ages to come, the Jewish nation will regard this one day, and their failure in it to recognize their King’s coming to them, as a day of deep regret. This year Palm Sunday falls on the 25th of March.
Clearly, we can trust the word of God, every part of it. We can trust what it tells us about Jesus Christ. We can trust that our personal salvation is found in Him alone. We can trust what it tells us about our future. It has never been wrong, not once.
It was correct when it foretold the birth of Israel, in a single day.
“Who has heard such a thing? Who has seen such things? Shall the earth be made to give birth in one day? Or shall a nation be born at once? For as soon as Zion was in labor, She gave birth to her children. Shall I bring to the time of birth, and not cause delivery?’ says the Lord” (Isaiah 66:8-9).
This happened on May 14th, 1948 with the rebirth of Israel.
It was correct when Amos 9:14-15 prophesied that Jacobs’s descendants would regain control of Israel, never to be uprooted again. This, again, was fulfilled in 1948.
It was correct when Ezekiel 37: 10-14 prophesized that the second incarnation of Israel would be more impressive than the first, and in Jeremiah 16:14-15 that Israel’s army would be disproportionately powerful. Leviticus 26: 3, 7-8 also said this.
We can trust the word of God.
Scripture was accurate when it spoke of how God would one day restore the fortunes of Israel after gathering them from world-wide diaspora, scattered amongst the nations of all the world.
“…then the Lord your God will restore your fortunes and have compassion on you and gather you again from all the nations where he scattered you. Even if you have been banished to the most distant land under the heavens, from there the Lord your God will gather you and bring you back. He will bring you to the land that belonged to your fathers, and you will take possession of it. He will make you more prosperous and numerous than your fathers” (Deuteronomy 30: 3-5).
We can trust when it tells us that one day soon a vast horde will come to attack Israel with the intention of annihilating her (Ezekiel 38–39). The beginnings of this disastrous and calamitous war are playing out right now in Syria and the Middle East. This horde is gathering. It will end in abject failure because mighty is the God who will judge them, and they will be utterly destroyed.
“I will execute judgment on him with plague and bloodshed; I will pour down torrents of rain, hailstones and burning sulfur on him and on his troops and on the many nations with him… On the mountains of Israel, you will fall, you and all your troops and the nations with you. I will give you as food to all kinds of carrion birds and to the wild animals. You will fall in the open field, for I have spoken, declares the Sovereign Lord” (Ezekiel 38:22; 39:4-5).
We can also trust Scripture when it predicts that one day soon all Damascus will be destroyed in but a single night, “…Damascus will no longer be a city but will become a heap of ruins” (Isaiah 17:1).
We stand on the cusp of this prophetic fulfillment right now.
We can trust when God tells us that all the nations of the world, at some point in the approaching future, will gather against Israel, and that Israel will be totally isolated, abandoned by all, including America (Zechariah 12:3).
We can trust when God tells us that in the last days Jerusalem will become a “burdensome stone” and a “cup of trembling” for all people (Zechariah 12:2-3). That day is now.
We can also trust when Scripture tells us that “all that burden themselves with it will be cut to pieces” (Zechariah 12:3).
Sadly, we can also trust when Scripture reveals that, as we increasingly approach the end, there will be a “…falling away…” (2 Thessalonians 2:1-3) and that the remnant, the true church, will increasingly come to experience isolation and persecution (John 15:20).
We can trust that the character of society in these end times will continue to degenerate to be like it was “…in the days of Noah…” (Matthew 24: 37) and that the “…love of most will grow cold…” (Matthew 24:12).
Yet we can also trust that, in these times, “Those who are wise will shine like the brightness of the heavens, and those who lead many to righteousness, like the stars for ever and ever” (Daniel 12:3).
We can also trust that one day soon “…the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever” (2 Thessalonians 4:16-17).
We can trust and hold onto our Blessed Hope that one day very soon we will all see, “…a door standing open in heaven. “The first voice I heard was like the loud sound of a horn. It said, ‘Come up here’” (Revelation 4:1).
We can trust that one day soon “…heaven (will be) standing open and there… was a white horse, whose rider is called Faithful and True, with justice he judges and wages war” (Revelation 19:11).
We can trust Enoch, seventh from Adam, when he prophesied in Jude that “…the Lord is coming with thousands upon thousands of his holy ones, to judge everyone, and to convict all of them of all the ungodly acts they have committed in their ungodliness, and of all the defiant words ungodly sinners have spoken against him” (Jude 1:14).
We can trust that the Lord Jesus will overcome and defeat the antichrist, that usurper “…with the breath of his mouth and destroy by the splendor of his coming (2 Thessalonians 2:8).
We can trust that no matter how much we are ridiculed or mocked, how much we are scorned or become hated, in this life or the next, at the name of Jesus one day soon “…every knee will bow” (Philippians 2:10).
We can trust God and we can trust His word to us.
We can trust that “We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to our own way” (Isaiah 53:6) despite what we are being told from the more “progressive” pulpits these last days.
We can trust that “There is no one righteous, not even one” (Romans 3:10), because “…all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). All of us “…have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags…our sins sweep us away” (Isaiah 66:6).
Yet we have hope because we trust in God, and we trust in His Son.
“For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish, but have eternal life” (John3:16).
God Himself, through the Holy Spirit, declares that “…whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, but whoever rejects the Son will not see life, for God’s wrath remains on them” (John 3:36).
Jesus declares to you today, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:6). We can trust this word.
“For he says, ‘In the time of my favor I heard you, and in the day of salvation I helped you. I tell you, now is the time of God’s favor, now is the day of salvation’” (2 Corinthians 6:2).
This Easter, let go of all your doubts and worries, and simply trust in your God. As Jesus said to Peter 2,000 years ago, so He says to us today, “You of little faith,” he said, “why did you doubt?” (Matthew 14:31).
Be like the Patriarch Abraham. “Abram believed the Lord, and he credited it to him as righteousness” (Genesis 15:6).
“Those who trust in the LORD are like Mount Zion, which cannot be shaken but endures forever” (Psalm 125:1).
Have a Happy Easter!