God’s plan and His timing are seen through the ages, if we only have eyes to see. The day that Jesus came before Pilate was significant in the Hebrew calendar. The Jews had gathered in Jerusalem for Passover, which had been initiated many years ago by God on the cusp of the Exodus. Of course, at that time God’s people were in bondage in Egypt, and Moses had been working through the various plagues that Yahweh was exacting upon Pharaoh. The tenth and final plague was to be the death of the firstborn in all Egypt. God spoke of this in Exodus 12:14:
“This day shall be for you a memorial day, and you shall keep it as a feast to the Lord; throughout your generations, as a statute forever, you shall keep it as a feast.”
On this day the Jews would kill an unblemished, firstborn lamb and eat it. They would take its blood and paint it on their doorposts and windows as a sign for the Lord’s destroyer to pass over that house and spare it (Exodus 12:23). The sacrificial animal was the Passover lamb. As we know, this represented Jesus Christ as the sacrificial lamb killed for our sins.
It is interesting how in the reading plan we use for Reading the Bible in a Year that there is often a correlation of our passages in the Old Testament with those we read that day in the New Testament. In the time near the end of the kingdom of Judah, not long before God allowed them to go into captivity for their apostasy, their last righteous king, Josiah, ruled. Upon learning that God specifically named him in His Word, he tore his clothes and instituted the greatest Passover since the time of the prophet Samuel (2 Chronicles 35:18).
King Josiah realized how negligent the people had been for so long upon their discovering the Book of the Law, and he arranged a great Passover feast in honor of the Lord. Thousands of animal were made ready for him to give the word to begin the sacrificial slaughter, as we see in 2 Chronicles 35:10:
When the service had been prepared for, the priests stood in their place, and the Levites in their divisions according to the king’s command.
This was the Day of Preparation, the same day as the very first Passover that God’s people did it in Egypt. Because of Josiah’s faithfulness to Yahweh and His Law, He spared the king from the wrath that He would soon bring upon the land. God allowed Josiah to die in battle just prior to Judah’s destruction at the hands of King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon.
There’s an intriguing side note to this incident. King Neco of Egypt came up to do battle at Carchemish against the Babylonians; he had no interest in fighting Josiah. In fact, the text states that Neco was actually speaking the Word of the Lord (2 Chronicles 35:22) in warning Josiah off. Compare this to when the Assyrian army came up against Jerusalem while Hezekiah was king. The Assyrian representative threatening Judah stated that it was from the Lord Himself that they had come up to destroy Jerusalem (2 Kings 18:25). This was a lie.
Here are two incidents where a pagan nation says it speaks for God; one Scripture tells us that the king actually did do so; in the other we know they did not speak in His Name. How were the Jews to know when God was actually speaking through someone or not? How do we? It could only be by discernment. Hezekiah had it and discounted what the enemy said; whereas Josiah in this case ignored the truth that the enemy had no interest in fighting him.
Discernment plays a huge role in history. At the time of Jesus, the religious leaders had none. They didn’t discern that Jesus was sent by God and was the Messiah the Jewish nation longed for. Timing also plays a unique role in God’s rolling out of history. When Jesus was brought before Pilate, when the Jewish people judged Him guilty and worthy of death, that very day was the one that God orchestrated in the past, as we see in John 19:14:
Now it was the day of Preparation of the Passover. It was about the sixth hour. He said to the Jews, “Behold your King!”
The Day of Preparation was on the very same day as the first innocent lamb was sacrificed, it’s blood shed, and because of that God passed over the sins of the people. When Samuel celebrated the Passover, and when Josiah instituted his great reforms with them culminating in an amazing Passover ceremony, these were both done in future commemoration for the One who would be sacrificed for the sins of the entire world.
We serve an amazing God. His Word shows us His character. It also provides us with a glimpse of how He operates. An event that occurs in the past is often a foreshadowing of one in the future. All this falls within the realm of Bible prophecy. When we study the prophetic Word of God, we can know from the past what will occur in times to come. God does not want us ignorant of these things. It’s why about 30% of the Bible is prophecy. It’s important to God that we know what He plans in the future. Why? So we can be prepared.
Are you ready for what is coming? Have you read God’s Word in such a way that you can look at the world through a Biblical, prophetic lens? God tells us – He warns us – that His wrath is coming upon the world. Have you taken up the mantle of Watchman so as to warn others, and to perhaps save a few? If not, what are you waiting for?