In the previous chapter the simple fact was revealed that, in the reckoning of God, four thousand years had elapsed from the Fall of Adam and Eve to the Death of Jesus Christ, 'the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world', in AD 33. God's Lamb, in other words, had been kept for 'four days' waiting His sacrifice at the one and only Passover in all time or eternity which gave full meaning and fulfilment to all the previous ones. Every other Passover which Israel had observed had, of course, looked back to the time of their exodus from Egypt, when the first Passover Feast was instituted. That was as far as the Jews were concerned. But with God, the Exodus Passover had simply looked forward - it was a type which required an antitype. (See Chart 6 and Chart 7.) The same, of course, has to be said about every one of the multitudinous sacrifices of the Levitical law - all were meaningless to God, except as they foreshadowed the One Who was yet to come and provide them with their antitypical fulfilment. Oh let the people of Israel recognise that this had to be according to God's exact time programme.
So, in AD 33, Jesus approached the close of His ministry in Israel. He had come to His people as 'the Bridegroom' (see John 3: 29) and as such He had revealed Himself to those who had received Him, for John had declared: 'He that hath the bride is the bridegroom;and a number of believers, mainly from Galilee, had attached themselves to Him. The great 'Bridegroom' of the Old Testament, King Solomon, had had to confess in his day: 'One man among a thousand have I found, but a woman among all those have I not found' (Eccles. 7: 28) but now the 'greater than Solomon'(Matthew 12:42) had come seeking a bride - that is, a remnant of His own people in Israel - and we can learn much from the example of the one woman He did find.
In the course of His ministry, Jesus had come upon one woman, Mary of Bethany, who chose to sit at His feet and hear His word (Luke 10: 39). It was she (the record shows), and she alone, who was ready when the hour arrived, to perform that 'good work' on Him - without the telling of which, He said, the Gospel could not be preached throughout the whole world! Let us repeat exactly what He said:
'She hath come aforehand to anoint My body to the burying. Verily I say unto you, wheresoever this gospel shall be preached throughout the whole world, this also that she hath done shall be spoken of for a memorial of her' (Mark 14:8-9 & Matthew 26:13).
Why was this action of Mary so important? We can hear the disciples also asking the same question: 'to what purpose was it done?' What was the reason why it was done just then? To answer this fully would require a comprehensive understanding of the meaning of the days surrounding our Lord's Passion, but a partial answer can be given in the light of the knowledge we have already gathered in the previous pages. For the present we can only look at Mary's act in relation to the Passover.
'The Passover', spoken of in John's Gospel 12:1, is always the 'feast of the Jews', and must never be confused with the true Passover which Jesus took with His disciples 24 hours before the Jews kept theirs. The other three Gospels refer exclusively to the Lord's Passover which He took the same night when He was betrayed. Once it is appreciated that the Bible makes a sharp distinction between the true 'Feast of Unleavened Bread' which Jesus kept, and the Jewish one, a day later, and which was only opening as the Lord's body was being laid in the sepulchre, many difficulties begin to depart as regarding the calendar of Passion Week.
We now focus upon the true Passover which Jesus kept. This was five days inclusively after the day on which He arrived in Bethany, when 'they made Him a supper'. So, at a space of exactly four days from the time of the supper when Mary anointed Jesus in Bethany, He and His disciples were gathered in the Upper Room, partaking of the Passover meal. In other words, the Supper in Bethany was at the opening of the last four days of the exact four thousand years (in the Jubilee Chronology, or Chronology of Redemption) from the Fall of Adam and Eve. Jesus, the true 'Lamb of God', had now come to the end of the great 'four days' of His waiting - waiting for death. And according to the instruction given in Egypt (see Exodus 12:3-6) it was now the duty of someone in Israel to take action and choose the lamb for the household four days before it was to be slain.
This was the day God had had in mind from the beginning. If it was necessary to obey His word and set aside typical lambs for four days prior to each typical Passover all down Israel's history, what was to be done now when, not a typical lamb, but the Son of God Himself - the great antitype of every paschal sacrifice Israel had ever offered - was ready to be chosen out and set apart to die?
Was Caiaphas, the high priest, to be called for? As we learn from John 11: 50 he had just prophesied that it was 'expedient for them, that one man should die for the people, and that the whole nation perish not.'
No! Here, we believe, was the one occasion in the whole history of man when God needed help! Why so? Well, He required the co-operation of some person in Israel who would act for the nation and set apart the Lamb of God at the right time - and where was He to find that person? It was no good looking to the Apostles, for it is clear from the Gospel accounts that they had no understanding at all of what was to transpire that night. To whom then did God look?
'O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments, and His ways past finding out!'(Romans 11:33)
God knew - He had known from the beginning how this position would be met. It was 'the woman (who) being deceived was in the transgression,' that evening, just four thousand years before, in Eden (see 1 Timothy 2: 14) and it was that act of Eve which must now be undone - yea, blotted out with blood, the blood of His own Son. And Mary knew it - she knew that He was about to die. And she knew He was about to die for her!
She brought it (the ointment of spikenard) 'beforehand to anoint My body to the burying,' said Jesus (Mark 14: 8). It had not been for nothing that the Son of God had called in at the little house in Bethany and found a quiet listener in Mary. Praise God, though Solomon himself had failed to find 'a woman', Jesus, (his greater Son) had discovered the very one whose words Solomon recorded in prophetic utterance, in the opening chapter of his 'Song' (verse 12).
'While the king sitteth at his table, my spikenard sendeth forth the smell thereof.'
Yes, at the beginning Eve had been fashioned by the hand of God to be 'a help meet' for Adam. But when she fell, and Adam with her, the blood then shed by the hand of God, as He clothed the naked pair 'with coats of skin' (Genesis 3:21), could not by any means alone atone for sin. Mary had learned this, sitting at the feet of Jesus there at home in Bethany. 'Her sins which' were 'many' had been 'forgiven' - Mary knew this from the time of her first encounter with the Saviour, which we find recorded in the 7th chapter of Luke (verses 36-50). She had had a box of ointment then (perhaps it was two years before, as an understanding of the time-structure of Christ's ministry might lead us to imagine) and had poured it on His feet, after washing them with her tears, and wiping them 'with the hairs of her head.'
Already then, she had 'loved much' (verse 47). Jesus had said so to the Pharisee, but on those later visits which He paid to Bethany, Mary had learned to listen and to hear His Word. She now knew He was the Redeemer, first promised 4,000 years before in Eden (Genesis 3:15) and that the days of His waiting were now accomplished. She knew He was 'the Lamb of God which taketh away the sin of the world'(John 1:29).
Far more than this, here was her brother Lazarus, seated at the table with them - Lazarus, who had been dead four days, 'whom He had raised from the dead'(John 12:9)! The words of Jesus rang on in Mary's ears: 'I am the resurrection, and the life' (John 11:25). Mystery of mysteries, who could then fathom the coming tragedy of Calvary - who could foresee it?
It was the Spirit Who led Mary to perform this final act of worship in the house of Simon and, in so doing, she singled out - before the watching eyes of the whole universe - God's Lamb and God's Anointed King. Yes, it was not only as the Lamb, but as the King that Jesus was anointed - and this at the very opening of the day He would appear as 'King' - for it was the very next morning that the prophecy of Zechariah 9:9 received fulfilment (see John 12:12-16).
From the Bethany Supper four days ran on to the true Passover that Jesus kept with His disciples in Jerusalem, and 'when the even was come, He sat down with the twelve' (Matthew 26:20).
Until the whole calendar and astronomical position has been laid bare and the actual weekdays established, it will not be possible for us to go more deeply into the hidden significance of the days and hours surrounding the death and resurrection of God's Son, but we must at least state most positively that the days of the coming out of Egypt, following the Exodus Passover, were found to be exactly typical of the days that followed our Lord's Passover in AD 33. (seeChart7.)
A glance at Numbers 33: 3-8 shows that the Exodus took place on 'the fifteenth day of the first month,' when 'the children of Israel removed from Rameses, and pitched in Succoth.' After this,'they departed from Succoth and pitched in Etham' - that is, on the second day after the Passover. Following this, 'they removed from Etham ... and ... pitched before Migdol,' - that is, on the third day after the Passover. This brought them to a place called Pi-hahiroth and, in that night, as Exodus ch.14 so graphically describes, they passed through the midst of the sea. 'When the morning appeared ... the Lord overthrew the Egyptians in the midst of the sea' and the people of Israel 'saw the Egyptians dead upon the sea shore. 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'(verses 27, 30-31).
What has just been shown is that between the Passover in Egypt and the triumph of Israel 'when the morning appeared,' after they had passed through the sea, is revealed in Scripture to be three days and a half (see Chart 10.) If this then was the type of the great work of Redemption, ultimately to be enacted in AD 33, how is it that Christendom has managed to mar the antitype completely - by deluding the world into thinking that Jesus was raised from the dead after only two days and a half from the Passover which He kept with His disciples, and after His body had been only one clear day in the Grave?
Let us repeat the question. How in any conscience can 'three days and three nights' be only 36 hours? All who have read Matthew 12:39-40 will remember the one and only sign that Jesus gave to His generation. These are His words: '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.'
As we have said, it is not possible just now to unravel to the full the
precious secret of the exact timing of our Lord's death and resurrection, but it
has already been plainly stated that He was raised from the dead on 'the third day',(1 Corinthians 15:4) after two full days in
the tomb. These days, like the 'two days' and 'the third day' of Hosea 6:2, (as we have shown) are, of
course, typical of the two thousand lunar years of our past dispensation, and
the third 'thousand years' of our Lord's glorious resurrection rulership of this
earth which we call the Millennium (see Revelation 20).