The Jewish People have always been a stiff-necked and obstinate people according to God’s word: “And the Lord said unto Moses, I have seen this people, and, behold, it is a stiffnecked people (Exodus 32:9). The Lord told this to Moses three times while they were in the wilderness. Moses told the people they were stiff-necked three times.
Hezekiah, a faithful king of Judah, issued a proclamation to his citizens and the remnant of Israel to come to Jerusalem and celebrate the Passover Feast. He told them to obey God’s commandment and not to be stiff-necked as their fathers were. The Lord also mentioned this particular quality of the Jewish people to the prophets Jeremiah and Ezekiel.
Here is how Stephen worded it when he addressed the Sanhedrin right before they murdered him: “You stiff-necked and uncircumcised in heart and ears, you do always resist the Holy Spirit: as your fathers did, so do you. Which of the prophets have not your fathers persecuted? And they have slain them which showed before of the coming of the Just One; of whom you have been now the betrayers and murderers: who have received the law by the disposition of angels, and have not kept it” (Acts 7:51-53).
During the time of the Exodus, when the Egyptians were pursuing them, the children of Israel became sore afraid and cried out unto the Lord: “And they said unto Moses, because there were no graves in Egypt, have you taken us away to die in the wilderness? Why have you dealt with us to carry us from out of Egypt? Is not this the word that we did tell you in Egypt, saying, leave us alone, that we may serve the Egyptians? For it had been better for us to serve them, than that we should die in the wilderness” (Exodus 14:11-12).
Even after witnessing the ten plagues that God sent against the Egyptians, the Jews were still fearful and had no faith in the power of their God to save them. Moses, the mighty man of God, spoke to them: “Fear not, stand still, and see the salvation of the Lord, which he will show to you today: for the Egyptians whom you have seen today, you shall see them again no more for ever. The Lord shall fight for you, and you shall hold your peace” (Exodus 14:13-14).
You know the rest of the story. God supernaturally parted the Red Sea for the Israelites to cross over on dry land. When the Egyptian army tried to cross, God loosed the waters and they were all drowned. “And Israel saw that great work which the Lord did upon the Egyptians: and the people feared the Lord, and believed the Lord, and his servant Moses” (Exodus 14:31). I guess their necks became less stiff at that brief moment.
Soon after this supernatural event, the children of Israel once again miraculously forgot their God. They foolishly went back to worshipping false idols as they had done in Egypt. They did this while Moses was receiving the Ten Commandments from God. Moses was up on Mount Sinai with God, and the people thought he had been away for too long. This is what they said unto Aaron: “Make us gods, which shall go before us, for as for this Moses, the man that brought us up out of the land of Egypt, we don’t know what has become of him” (Exodus 32:1).
God informed Moses about the people corrupting themselves and told him: “I have seen this people, and behold, it is a stiffnecked people: now therefore let me alone, that my wrath may wax hot against them, and that I may consume them: and I will make of you a great nation” (Exodus 32:9-10). God was ready to destroy the whole nation because of their great sin. However, Moses pleaded for mercy and God spared them. Moses saved his people as Jesus would later do for the same Jewish people and also the entire world.
Moses was also a prophet of God. Before his death (at 120 years of age), the Lord gave him this message concerning the Messiah of the Jewish people: “I will raise them up a Prophet from among their brethren, like unto you (Moses), and will put my words in his mouth; and he shall speak unto them all that I shall command him. And it shall come to pass, that whosoever will not hearken unto my words which he shall speak in my name, I will require it of him” (Deuteronomy 18:18-19).
Moses had a very special relationship with God. “And there arose not a prophet since in Israel like unto Moses, whom the Lord knew face to face; in all the signs and the wonders, which the Lord sent him to do in the land of Egypt to Pharaoh, and to all his servants, and to all his land, and in all that mighty hand, and in all the great terror which Moses showed in the sight of all Israel” (Deuteronomy 34:10-12).
The Jews have always needed a “sign” or supernatural event before they would trust in the God of their fathers: Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. “For the Jews require a sign, and the Greeks seek after wisdom” (1 Corinthians 1:22).
The Jews of Jesus’ time were looking for their promised Messiah and yet couldn’t find him, even while He was living in their midst. Jesus miraculously healed countless people from disease and demon possession, raised people from the grave, miraculously fed thousands, turned water into wine, and even walked on water; and yet the ‘elite’ religious leaders in Jerusalem rejected him as their Messiah They were like Satan in that they wanted to test Jesus’ supernatural abilities as the Son of God.
Two of the three temptations of Satan in Matthew 4 required Jesus to perform a supernatural act:
1) “The tempter came to him and said, ‘If you are the Son of God, command that these stones be made bread.’ Jesus replied: ‘It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God’” (Matthew 4:3).
2) “Then the devil took Jesus up into the holy city (Jerusalem), and set Jesus on the highest point of the temple, and said to him, ‘If you are the Son of God, cast yourself down: for it is written, He shall give his angels charge concerning you: and in their hands they shall bear you up, lest at any time you dash your foot against a stone.’ Jesus said unto him, ‘It is written again, you shall not tempt the Lord your God’” (Matthew 4:5-7).
The third temptation was for Jesus to fall down and worship Satan. In return, Satan would give him all the kingdoms of the world, and the glory of them. Jesus told Satan: “Get out of here Satan: for it is written. You shall worship the Lord your God, and him only shall you serve” (Matthew 4:10).
These supernatural events, if performed, would be of such magnitude that it would prove beyond any doubt Jesus was truly the Son of God…the Messiah. The Jews were looking for the supernatural Son of God that could defeat the Roman Empire and liberate them from their oppressive rule. Of course, they didn’t realize that He actually came to defeat the enemy, Satan, and to liberate the Jews (and the entire human race) from their oppressive sin. They should have been wiser and concentrated more on the natural act of listening to Jesus’ words concerning himself and the Kingdom of God.
In Matthew 12, certain religious leaders of the scribes and of the Pharisees told Jesus that they needed to see a sign (supernatural) from him to prove that he was the Son of God. Just healing people wasn’t enough of a miracle. They wanted a spectacular supernatural act. Jesus answered them: “An evil and adulterous generation seek after a sign; and there shall no sign be given to it, but the sign of the prophet Jonas: for as Jonas was three days and three nights in the whale’s belly; so shall the Son of man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth” (Matthew 12:39-40).
Even at the cross, the Jewish chief priests were still looking for a supernatural event. They wanted Jesus to prove that if he was the King of Israel, he should come down from the cross and save himself, according to Matthew 27:41-42. Even though He could have called down legions of angels to rescue him from death, Jesus didn’t do that. He submitted his will to the Father and was obedient unto death. He accomplished the task that was set before him by the Father and now sets at the right hand of the throne of God.
God would give the Jews their supernatural sign, however, on that Thursday afternoon of Nisan 14 (Jewish calendar), otherwise known as the Passover Feast. The date on the Julian calendar would have been April 2, A.D. 33 (March 31, AD 33 on our modern Gregorian calendar). It had to be on a Thursday according to the great Bible teacher, Jack Kelley. I encourage anyone who has any doubts about the day of the week when Jesus was crucified to read the following article:
“Solving the Three Day Three Night Mystery” by Jack Kelley at gracethrufaith.com
For days of the week calendar go to: Calendar Converter: Including 360-day calendar of Bible prophecy
There was darkness in the land of Israel for three hours, from 12:00 pm to 3:00 pm Jerusalem time. 3:00 pm was when Jesus Christ died on that Passover day. This darkness was a supernatural event that only God could have accomplished. Why was it supernatural? After all, solar eclipses occur rather frequently… but only during the time of a new moon! However, it was Passover; and Passover is always during a full moon.
There was no recorded solar eclipse that year or any of the immediate years before or after that particular Jewish date (Nisan 14). NASA keeps a record of solar and lunar eclipses that you can study and research, and yet there was no evidence of a solar eclipse at that approximate date. This was a supernatural sign to the Jews from God. There was also an earthquake that occurred at this time… another sign (although not as supernatural as the darkness of the sun during a full moon).
The supernatural aspect of the earthquake was that, while it was happening, the veil that hung in front of the Temple room called The Most Holy Place was split in two. This was a prophetic act of God signifying man’s access to God is no longer only possible through a high priest of the Levitical order. Jesus is now our High Priest who gives our prayers to the Father in person.
There was no natural solar eclipse that occurred on that date; however, there was a partial lunar eclipse in that region of the world that occurred a few hours later (the beginning of the next day) on Friday, Nisan 15, or April 3, AD 33. This was probably not a spectacular event, as the moon that was just rising turned partially dark (possibly a little red) for a few hours. A lunar eclipse always occurs during a full moon. This is not the supernatural event of 3 hours of darkness in Jerusalem that God had orchestrated a few hours earlier, while it was still Passover.
The Jewish calendar day starts in the evening at 6:00 pm. Jesus died at 3:00 pm on Passover day, Nisan 14, on a Thursday. Approximately 4 or 5 hours later (7:00 or 8:00 pm) on Nisan 15 (the first day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread), when Jesus was already in the grave, the partial lunar eclipse was underway. This was a natural event that happens frequently throughout the years (always on a full moon) and can be verified through NASA records. https://eclipse.gsfc.nasa.gov/LEhistory/LEhistory.html#ref
The date was April 3, AD 33 on the Julian calendar and April 1, AD 33 on our modern Gregorian calendar. April 1st is sometimes known as “April fool’s day.” I think this is significant in the sense that most Christians believe Jesus died on “good” Friday, instead of on Thursday. Has anyone ever figured out how to get 3 nights and 3 days out of a Friday to Sunday time frame, without exaggerating the truth?
Of course, the Jewish leaders didn’t heed the sign/s they were given at the cross on that Passover day or three days later on the Feast of Firstfruits when Jesus was supernaturally resurrected back to life. They conveniently put the Jonah prophecy Jesus gave them earlier out of their mind. He even spent 40 days in their midst after His resurrection (before His accession) preaching about the kingdom of God, and they still didn’t accept him as their promised Messiah. The Jewish people believed the lies of the Pharisees instead of the truth of the word of God that was spoken and written by the many prophets God sent them over the years.
Because of their unbelief they missed the coming of their long-awaited Savior and King. However, they will get another chance…one last chance to accept Jesus Christ as their Lord. This will only happen near the very end of the 70th Seven, otherwise known as Jacob’s Trouble, or the Tribulation. In Hosea 5:15 Jesus said to Israel: “I will go and return to my place, till they acknowledge their offence, and seek my face: in their affliction they will seek me early.”
With the forces of the Antichrist at the city of Bozrah, the Battle of Armageddon will begin its last three days, according to Hosea 6:1-3. The Jewish people will finally acknowledge Jesus as their Lord and Messiah, and will call on Him to save them from death.
“Come, and let us return unto the Lord: for he has torn, and he will heal us; he has smitten, and he will bind us up. After two days will he revive us: in the third day he will raise us up, and we shall live in his sight. Then shall we know, if we follow on to know the Lord: his going forth is prepared as the morning; and he shall come unto us as the rain, as the latter and former rain unto the earth.”
Israel as a nation will be regenerated and saved after two days of national confession of sin. On the third day, they will plead for the Second Coming of Jesus. The latter rain is the rain of spring in Israel, the time of year (Passover) when Jesus presented himself as their king during his First Coming. The former rain of Israel is in the fall season (Feast of Trumpets) and will occur when Jesus returns to the Earth as undisputed King of kings.
Jesus’ Second Coming will not be without its supernatural signs as quoted by the prophet Joel and others: “And I will show wonders in the heavens and in the earth, blood, and fire, and pillars of smoke. The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before the great and the terrible day of the Lord come. And it shall come to pass, that whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be delivered: for in mount Zion and in Jerusalem shall be deliverance, as the Lord has said, and in the remnant whom the Lord shall call” (Joel 2:30-32).
“The sun and the moon shall be darkened, and the stars shall withdraw their shining. The Lord also shall roar out of Zion, and utter his voice from Jerusalem; and the heavens and the earth shall shake: but the Lord will be the hope of his people, and the strength of the children of Israel. So shall you know that I am the Lord your God dwelling in Zion, my holy mountain: then shall Jerusalem be holy, and there shall no strangers pass through her any more” (Joel 3:15-17).
God’s supernatural signs and judgments during the Tribulation will finally convince the stiff-necked Jews to face the truth about Jesus’ identity as their promised Messiah and King. Of course, as Christians, He is our Lord and Savior also. Only through belief in Him as the Son of God can you come to the Father and have eternal life in His Kingdom.
Even so, come Lord Jesus.