This weekend is the time that we remember the sacrifice of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. In the English speaking countries, this time is known as Easter, but not in China.
For the underground house church in China remembering the sacrifice of our Savior Jesus Christ, this time is known as 复活节, or “fu huo jie,” which is directly translated as “Resection of Life Celebration.”
Many Christians around the world might like the Chinese translation over the English translation of “Easter.”
For many, the term ‘Easter’ has too strong of a connection to the Germanic pagan traditions of fertility gods and every year around this time, there is always a debate among Christians. The debate can get ferocious, with Christian purists accusing other ‘secular’ Christians of celebrating – not the resurrection of Jesus Christ during “Pascha” or “Passover,” but instead, giving themselves over to idol worship. Christian purists and secular Christian debates over how to celebrate Easter, or even whether to use the name “Easter,” are in some ways, very reminiscent of the ancient debates over Scriptures, practices, and ritual observances between the Sadducees and the Pharisees.
Christians can easily attack the use of the word ‘Easter’ by pointing to the roots found in the ancient practices of eggs, bunnies, and new life, but before tossing it out completely, the Chinese vision of Back to Jerusalem finds hope in the name ‘Easter.’ The word ‘Easter,’ for those who do not know, secretly points to the return of Jesus Christ.
Here is a way to look at Easter in a way that you have never seen before.
In the Hebrew Bible, Passover commemorates the liberation of the Jewish people from slavery in Egypt. It is the most important Jewish festival, celebrated on the first full moon after the vernal equinox. On Passover, Jesus traveled from the EAST to Jerusalem with his disciples to celebrate. He entered Jerusalem from the EAST in a triumphant procession and created a disturbance in the Jerusalem Temple.
At first, the direction of Jesus’ Passover travel doesn’t seem significant, but a closer look reveals something of extreme significance. There is a pattern that emerges. The pattern is this – in the Old Testament, God’s presence moves from East to west. The movement of the priests for the Passover Sacrifices are from East to West. The movement of Jesus during Passover is from East to west. The movement of the Gospel in the book of Acts is from East to west and the return of Jesus is from East to west.
From the very beginning, the Lord’s presence was with mankind when “the Lord God had planted a garden in the east, in Eden; and there he put the man he had formed” (Genesis 2:8). However, after mankind’s rebellion, when human beings were banished from Eden and from the direct presence of God, cherubim were stationed at the entrance of the garden to the east to block their return. (See Genesis 3:24.)
Adam and Eve were sent eastward out of Eden. To re-enter the presence of God, they would have to move westward, from east to west. In biblical imagery, the farther human beings get from God, the farther east they go.
This concept is further illustrated after Cain kills his brother. “Cain went out from the Lord’s presence and lived in the land of Nod, east of Eden” (Genesis 4:16).
What does this mean?
It practice, it seems to say that Biblically, going to the west means moving toward God’s presence and going to the east means moving away from God’s presence. This is illustrated throughout the carefully constructed Jewish temple in Jerusalem and reflected in the temple sacrifices.
This is seen most prominently during Easter.
The fashioning of the temple and the sacrifices all point to a westward movement of the gospel and the return of the Messiah from the east. Both the tabernacle and the temple were always built with an eastern entrance, so those approaching God were going from east to west.
This set Jehovah’s priests apart from the pagan priests. When Jehovah’s priests worshipped God, their backs were always to the east and they were facing west. This was the opposite of the pagans, who desecrated the temple by facing the opposite direction. (See Ezekiel 8:16–18.)
The very first tabernacle set up at Mount Sinai by Moses had only one entrance—from the east. One could not merely stroll into the tabernacle from any direction; one had to approach from the east toward the west. This movement represented leaving behind the sin of man and moving toward God.
Think about this! How does the priests move in the temple? Today, when people pray in Jerusalem, why do they pray at the western wall? Because that is where the presences of the Lord is.
The far end of the tabernacle, where the Holy of Holies was located, was at the western wall (see Exodus 26:27) and did not have an entrance or an exit. Thus, the farther east you went in the tabernacle, the farther you were from the presence of God, and vice versa. The opening to the tabernacle faced eastward toward the morning sun as it rose.
The very first tabernacle set up by Moses at the foot of Mt. Sinai (Mt. Lawz in Saudi Arabia) has a large natural open area located east of the mountain that opens to the rising sun. This is one way to determine which side of Mt. Sinai the camp of Israel was located on.
In other words, an easterly facing tabernacle would not be located on the west side of a mountain because then it would face the peak, which would shadow the rising sun until about noon. Therefore, the tabernacle at Mt. Sinai must have been located on the east side of the summit.
The temple was built to receive the maximum amount of sun during the equinox. In Jerusalem, on the morning of the Equinox, the sun rises over the Mount of Olives and shines through the door of the Temple, straight onto the Holy of Holies, where God’s presence dwelt on this earth… When the sun shines into the Temple and the light of the Messianic symbol enters into the presence of God, on that day the Messiah is to land from heaven upon the Mount of Olives, splitting that mountain into two, down to its very roots. And then would begin the Last and Final Judgment on the Day of the Lord.
When does the greatest amount of sun rise up and shine through the temple? During the spring equinox! The greatest amount of sun from the east during the most holy time of the year is during Passover! Passover and the Jewish calendar are based on the timing of both the sun and the moon.
The fifteenth day of Nisan is the first Sunday after the Paschal full moon, the first full moon on or after March 21.
What does the word “Easter” mean? The word Easter comes from the old Germanic word oster, or “from the east.”
This is key to unlocking the power of scriptural understanding of direction. The timing of the equinox and the full moon are key to when Passover occurs. The equinox and the eastern-facing opening of the temple allow for a window of several days when the sun will shine directly over the Mount of Olives, illuminating the temple. The direction of Jesus entering into Jerusalem from the east is not by accident, nor was the direction of the tabernacle and temple meaningless. It was all preordained by God and pointed to our origins and destination.
Ezekiel recognized the importance of cardinal direction when he observed the temple was facing east with a river flowing east: “Then the Spirit lifted me up and brought me to the gate of the house of the Lord that faces east.” (Ezekiel 11:1)
“The man brought me back to the entrance to the temple, and I saw water coming out from under the threshold of the temple toward the east (for the temple faced east). The water was coming down from under the south side of the temple, south of the altar. He then brought me out through the north gate and led me around the outside to the outer gate facing east, and the water was trickling from the south side.” (Ezekiel 47:1–2)
Not only did the tabernacle and the temple face east, but so too did the ceremonies. For instance, when someone presented a sacrifice to the Lord, it had to be done at the east entrance (see Leviticus 1:5), and even the sacrifice was westward, with the slaughter taking place from a westerly direction and the waste going to the east: “If the offering to the Lord is a burnt offering of birds, you are to offer a dove or a young pigeon. The priest shall bring it to the altar, wring off the head and burn it on the altar; its blood shall be drained out on the side of the altar. He is to remove the crop and the feathers and throw them down east of the altar where the ashes are.” (Leviticus 1:14–16)
Compare this idea to Psalm 103:12, which says, “As far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us.”
This east-to-west focus was reinforced as the priest moved into the Holy of Holies. The priest first entered the tabernacle or the temple from the east and approached the bronze altar, or the altar of sacrifice for forgiveness. Then he continued westward to the bronze laver or water basin for cleansing. In a westward direction, he moved past the lampstand or menorah to the south and the table of showbread to the north. The ark of the covenant in the Holy of Holies lay directly ahead at the far western end.
When Jesus made His triumphant entry into Jerusalem, He was coming from the east, acknowledging the manner in which the sacrificial offering always came into the temple. There was only one right way for the Messiah to enter into Jerusalem. It was not a random entrance.
Jesus also compared Himself to the idea of a singular entrance as the way to approach God: “I am the door. If anyone enters by me, he will be saved” (John 10:9 esv). “Jesus answered, ‘I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me’” (John 14:6).
The Back to Jerusalem vision of the Chinese missionaries is focused in this same westward manner. Again, at first, the direction of this mission might not seem important, but a closer look at the movements in the Bible, Israel’s sacrificial ceremonies, the construction of the temple, the history of missions, and the prophetic passages regarding the return of Jesus make it clear that a directional focus has been ordained by God!
The farther westward we move in the Great Commission, the closer to God and the return of Jesus we get. The word ‘Easter’ points to this movement of the Messiah coming from the east and moving west.
The Great Commission, that Jesus gave His disciples started on the Mount of Olives and moved from east to west. Now, the city of Jerusalem faces eastward, waiting for the Good News to complete the full circle moving from east to west. We eagerly await the day when the sun rises from the east over the ridge of the Mount of Olives for the last time and shines with the glory of the coming Messiah. “I lift up my eyes to the mountains—where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth” (Psalm 121:1–2).
This section comes from BTJ’s new book, CHINA AND END TIME PROPHECY, and all information sourcing this article can be found there.
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