Dates are important. Most of us know what it is like when a loved one or close friend forgets our birthday day or wedding anniversary because these, to us are important dates. Some people do and others don’t celebrate Christmas. That’s fine because we do not know on which day and month the Lord Jesus was born. I celebrate Christmas because it is a day and time when I remember God became incarnate of the virgin and entered into our world. Without this, there would be no Bloody Friday (Good Friday) and no Resurrection Sunday (Easter Sunday), neither would there be Ascension Day (Jesus’ return to glory). These last three days are all based upon the then Jewish calendar, with the focal point being the Passover Festival which was on the last day of the week (our Saturday … Friday evening through to Saturday evening). Perhaps you wonder why we celebrate Bloody Friday and Resurrection Sunday at different times from one year to another. The exact date varies depending upon the moon. Technically, the celebration coincides with the first Friday and Sunday after the Paschal Full Moon, which is the first full moon after the vernal equinox. This moon can be in March or April. The word Pascal is taken from the Bible’s Passover Festival. You will recall how Moses instructed the people before the first Passover and their escape from Egypt:
Ex 12:21 Then Moses summoned all the elders of Israel and said to them, “Go at once and select the animals for your families and slaughter the Passover lamb.”
“Passover” is “pascal”. Where it comes to “vernal equinox” … there are two moments in the year when the sun is exactly above the Equator. At these moments, the day and night is the same length and … “either of the two points in the sky where the ecliptic (the sun’s annual pathway) and the celestial equator intersect” (britanicca.com). In short, the lunar calendar determines these dates. “The cycle takes about 29½ days, making a lunar year about 12 days shorter than the solar year (tracked by our calendar). That means Bloody Friday and Resurrection Sunday … as well as the Jewish Passover, fall on different dates each year. The Ascension of Jesus was 40 days after His resurrection … which date also differs year to year. Dates are important.
1) Daniel was on the Bank of the Tigris River on a specific date.
Da 10:4 On the twenty-fourth day of the first month, as I was standing on the bank of the great river, the Tigris.
This date is equally important because this period of time included both the Passover Festival and the Feast of Unleavened Bread. The Passover fell on the 14th day of the month Abib and the Feast of Unleavened Bread on the 15th to 21stof Abib. The month was changed to Nisan, seemingly during the Babylonian Exile (See Nehemiah 2:1).
Ex 23:15 “Celebrate the Feast of Unleavened Bread; for seven days eat bread made without yeast, as I commanded you. Do this at the appointed time in the month of Abib, for in that month you came out of Egypt.”
The date mentioned in Daniel 10:4 seems to be three days after the conclusion of the feast. Even though he was far away from Jerusalem and the Temple’s worship and sacrificial system, it would seem as though Daniel used this time to reflect spiritually on his state and that of the people of God coupled to the restoration of the temple’s slow progress and the peoples’ continued sin.
2) Daniel was physically present at the river. He was not receiving a vision. He was fully conscious. In chapter 8:2 he was in vision but here he is physically present. Although the Words (message) come with the same inerrancy, inspiration and authority, there is a huge difference between vision and physical presence as we shall see as the passage continues. There are two issues to consider here …
(1) It is important to see how the Old Covenant, although vastly different to the New Covenant … the one by works and the other by grace, are linked together. Seeing and understanding this helps us to piece together the transition from the Old Covenant, which is now obsolete to the New Covenant in Jesus’ Blood. Writing to his readers, the author, inspire by the Spirit says
Heb 8:13 By calling this covenant “new,” he has made the first one obsolete; and what is obsolete and aging will soon disappear.
That is past tense! From a human and secular perspective, we have BC and AD. In 45 B.C., Julius Caesar ordered a calendar consisting of twelve months based on a solar year. This calendar employed a cycle of three years of 365 days, followed by a year of 366 days (leap year). When first implemented, the “Julian Calendar” also moved the beginning of the year from March 1 to January 1. The AD dating system was devised in 525 by Dionysius Exiguus of Scythia Minor, but was not widely used until the 9th century. There is no year zero … so, the year AD 1 immediately follows the year 1 BC. The “Gregorian calendar” was adopted by much of Catholic Europe in 1582, as directed by Pope Gregory XIII. AD stands for Anno Domini, Latin for “in the year of the Lord”, while BC stands for “before Christ”. However we look at history and the architects of the two calendars and the BC and AD dating, importantly for us is that most of the present world follows the Julian Calendar indicating AD (Anno Domini, “in the year of the Lord”). This reminds us that the Messiah (Christ) has come.
(2) The Levitical Priesthood pointed to the Pascal Lamb of God. Each and every lamb that was sacrificed as a sin offering pointed to Jesus, the Lamb of God
Jn 1:29 The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, “Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!
The ministry of the prophets had one essential message which was preparing the people for Messiah. Both these offices were fulfilled in Jesus. Their ministry was through image and object lessons pointing to Jesus Messiah, God’s Pascal Lamb. Today we look backwards to Jesus Messiah’s coming in the flesh. The images and object lessons were put aside and gave way to the real presence of God’s Messiah …
Jn 1:36 When he saw Jesus passing by, he said, “Look, the Lamb of God!”
Our Father, thank You that we live during the Church Age and that Messiah has already come. The final sacrifice has been made and accepted by You. Now we worship You in love. Amen.