Day 5: Through Treachery Satan coils to strike

That Jews have been persecuted, loathed, feared and mistreated in many ways is recorded both in the Bible and in history outside outside it.  Many peoples have experienced persecution and discrimination at the hands of other nations.  But history demonstrates a tendency to inevitably target Jews in a unique way over other groups.  A special word has been coined to label discrimination specifically against Jews – anti-Semitism. This demonstrates the peculiarity of their mistreatment.  But the most perplexing aspect about anti-Semitism is that it is not confined to one time period, one region of the world, or simply a small group of perpetrators.  

A Brief List of Anti-Semetic events

Some examples reveal this:

 Medieval ghetto
Russian pogroms
Dreyfuss affair
The annihilation of Kaifeng Jews in Imperial China
Historical Expulsions of Jews across Europe

Causes of Anti-Semitism

But what causes anti-Semitism? Wikipedia, in its series on anti-Semitism, can show many instances of anti-Semitism through history and across cultures, but cannot point to a definitive cause that explains it.  The difficulty with any explanation is that it cannot adequately explain both the breadth and long history of anti-Semitism.  A racial cause might explain Nazi-derived anti-Semitism, but does not explain Christian anti-Semitism of the Middle Ages.  A Christian/Judaism polemic might explain the Christian anti-Semitism, but does not explain 19thcentury French anti-Semitism that broiled the country for over a decade in the Dreyfuss affair.  And then there is the ancient anti-Semitism of the Persians, Greeks, Romans.

The Bible on the root cause of Anti-Semitism

However, the Bible offers a simple and straightforward explanation for the cause behind anti-Semitism, spanning the Book from its beginning to end. In the beginning, in the Garden of Eden, after Adam & Eve’s disobedience, God pronounced a curse upon the Serpent, resulting in a pattern of ‘enmity’ between it and the “Woman’.  That woman was not Eve but Israel! (details here)  

Then, at the end of the Bible in the book of Revelation, a vision of John references that showdown in the Garden and identifies the ‘serpent’ and the ‘woman’.  Here is the vision:

A great sign appeared in heaven: a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet and a crown of twelve stars on her head. She was pregnant and cried out in pain as she was about to give birth. Then another sign appeared in heaven: an enormous red dragon with seven heads and ten horns and seven crowns on its heads. Its tail swept a third of the stars out of the sky and flung them to the earth. The dragon stood in front of the woman who was about to give birth, so that it might devour her child the moment he was born. She gave birth to a son, a male child, who “will rule all the nations with an iron scepter.” And her child was snatched up to God and to his throne… 

Revelation 12: 1-5

The great dragon was hurled down—that ancient serpent called the devil, or Satan, who leads the whole world astray. He was hurled to the earth, and his angels with him…

13 When the dragon saw that he had been hurled to the earth, he pursued the woman who had given birth to the male child.

Revelation 12: 9, 13

The Enmity focused particularly on the Child of the Woman

The child born of the Woman is Jesus.  The Woman is the Jewish Nation, from which Jesus came.  The Serpent, also called ‘the dragon’, is identified as Satan. Back in the Garden, God had said that there would be ‘enmity’ between the woman (Israel) and the serpent (Satan). History’s documenting of the ever recurring anti-Semitism from a wide variety of social conditions and perpetrator nations, down through history, shows the reality of this enmity.

But there was also to be enmity to the offspring, or son, of the Woman. We see this enmity build on Thursday, Day 5 of Passion Week, when the Dragon rises to strike that Son.  We have been looking at Jesus through his Jewish lens. He is presented in the Bible as the archetype of the Jewish Nation.  If the Jewish nation has experienced anti-Semitism through the cunning hatred of Satan, then it is not surprising that the Offspring of that Woman should also experience that same enmity.

Judas: Controlled by The Dragon

The Bible portrays Satan as a ruling Spirit that manipulates hatred and intrigue behind the scenes.  Satan had plotted to have everyone worship him, including Jesus.  When that failed he set about to murder Jesus, manipulating people to carry out his scheme.  Satan used Judas on Day 5 to strike Jesus, just after Jesus taught about his return.  Here is the account:

22 Now the Festival of Unleavened Bread, called the Passover, was approaching, and the chief priests and the teachers of the law were looking for some way to get rid of Jesus, for they were afraid of the people.Then Satan entered Judas, called Iscariot, one of the Twelve. And Judas went to the chief priests and the officers of the temple guard and discussed with them how he might betray Jesus. They were delighted and agreed to give him money. He consented, and watched for an opportunity to hand Jesus over to them when no crowd was present.

Luke 22: 1-6

Satan took advantage of their conflict to ‘enter’ Judas to betray Jesus.  This should not surprise us.  The Revelation vision describes Satan like this:

Then war broke out in heaven. Michael and his angels fought against the dragon, and the dragon and his angels fought back. But he was not strong enough, and they lost their place in heaven. The great dragon was hurled down—that ancient serpent called the devil, or Satan, who leads the whole world astray. He was hurled to the earth, and his angels with him.

Revelation 12:7-9

The Bible likens Satan to a powerful dragon cunning enough to lead the whole world astray.  As that ancient serpent he now coiled to strike. He manipulated Judas to destroy Jesus as the Gospel records:

16 From then on Judas watched for an opportunity to hand him over.

Matthew 26:16

The next day, Friday, Day 6 of the Week, was the  Passover Festival.  How would Satan, through Judas, strike?  What would happen to Judas? We see next.

Day 5 Summary

The timeline shows how on Day 5 of this week, the great dragon, Satan, coiled to strike his foe Jesus.

Day 5: Satan, the Great Dragon, enters Judas to strike Jesus

Day 2: Jesus Selected

Richard Wurmbrand, Ivan Urgant and Natan Sharansky represent the Jewish spirit of unarmed civil protest voicing objection to powerful and abusive institutions.  As a result of their outspokenness they became targets of the systems that they criticized.   

Tortured for his FaithRichard Wurmbrand

Richard Wurmbrand

Richard Wurmbrand (1909-2001), was a Romanian Jew who later became a Lutheran priest. He publicly taught from the Bible in a time when Romania strictly enforced communist atheism.  Authorities imprisoned him from 1948-1956, including a three-year period of solitary confinement in an underground hole with no light. Upon his release he resumed leading the underground church, and authorities imprisoned him again from 1959 to 1964 with frequent beatings. Authorities finally released him to the West because of an international campaign highlighting his plight.

Cancelled for his ConvictionsIvan Urgant

Ivan Urgant - Wikipedia
Ivan Urgant

Ivan Urgant (born 1978) hosted the most popular late-night talk show on Russian state TV called Evening Urgant. He followed the format of well-known American late-night talk shows like The Tonight Show and The Late Show.  He gained notoriety in February 2022 by protesting the Russian invasion of Ukraine by posting “No to War” on his Instagram account. In a country that declared public dissent on the invasion illegal, it was a bold and high-profile stand. Russian Channel One then suspended his late-night show.  Shortly thereafter Ivan left Russia and appeared in Israel where he also has citizenship.

Refused for his BrillianceNatan Sharansky

Natan Sharansky - Wikipedia
Natan Sharansky

Natan Sharansky (born 1948), gifted physicist, mathematician and chess prodigy, became one of the most recognized Soviet refuseniks.  Rufeseniks were Soviet Jews in the 1960s and 1970s who were denied exit visas to Israel.  Soviet authorities denied Sharansky his exit visa in 1973 under the pretext that his work in physics have him access to state secrets.  Sharansky then became a public activist for all refuseniks in the 1970s, a risky move under the Soviet regime.  Arrested in 1977 by the KGB, the authorities moved him around prisons and forced labor camps.  In response to an international campaign highlighting his plight, he was freed in 1986 by Mikhail Gorbachev, whereupon Sharansky made Aliyah to Israel, where he has conducted a successful political career.   

Jesus – Selected for his Perfect Timing 

Jesus of Nazareth also exemplified this inclination to activism, at great personal risk, through bold protest against a powerful bureaucracy.  But his ability to time his actions and link them to past era-defining events, as well as direct them to future freedoms affecting you and me, remains unmatched.  We have been looking at Jesus through his Jewish lens and here we examine his protest actions, unpacking their remarkable timing, and their meanings.

It was on the second day of Passion Week, that he took his protest to a whole new level, setting in motion a chain of events that would forever alter history. 

Significance of the Date

Jesus had just entered Jerusalem at the exact day prophesied hundreds of years before, revealing himself as the Christ and a light to the nations.  That date, in the Jewish calendar, was Sunday, Nisan 9, the 1st day of Passion Week.  Because of regulations in the Torah, the next day, 10thof Nisan, was a unique day in the Jewish calendar.  Long before, Moses had decreed the steps to prepare for Passover:

12 The Lord said to Moses and Aaron in Egypt, “This month is to be for you the first month, the first month of your year. Tell the whole community of Israel that on the tenth day of this month each man is to take a lamb for his family, one for each household.

Exodus12:1-3

So, every 10th of Nisan since Moses, each Jewish family would select a lamb for the upcoming Passover festival. It could only be done that day.  In Jesus’ day the Jews selected the Passover lambs in their Temple in Jerusalem – the same location where 2000 years before God tested Abraham in the sacrifice of his son.  Today, this is the location of the Jewish Temple Mount and the Muslim Al-Aqsa Mosque and Dome of the Rock.  

So at one specific location (the Temple Mount), on one specific day of the Jewish year (Nisan 10), Jews selected the Passover lamb for each family.  As you might imagine, the vast number of people and animals, the noise of the bartering, the foreign exchange (since Jews came from many locations) would turn the Temple on Nisan 10 into a frenzied market.  The Gospel records what Jesus did that day.  When the passage refers to the ‘next day’ this is the day after his royal  entry into Jerusalem, the 10thof Nisan – the exact day that Jews selected Passover lambs in the Temple.

Cleansing the Temple

12 The next day as they were leaving Bethany, Jesus was hungry. 13 Seeing in the distance a fig tree in leaf, he went to find out if it had any fruit. When he reached it, he found nothing but leaves, because it was not the season for figs. 14 Then he said to the tree, “May no one ever eat fruit from you again.”And his disciples heard him say it.15 On reaching Jerusalem, Jesus entered the temple courts and began driving out those who were buying and selling there. He overturned the tables of the money changers and the benches of those selling doves,16 and would not allow anyone to carry merchandise through the temple courts. 17 And as he taught them, he said, “Is it not written: ‘My house will be called a house of prayer for all nations’? But you have made it ‘a den of robbers.”

Mark 11:12-17

At the human level Jesus went into the Temple on Monday, Nisan 10, and stopped the commercialism.  The buying and selling had created a barrier for worship, especially for that of non-Jews.  Jesus, a Light for these nations, therefore broke this barrier by stopping the commercial activity.  

The Lamb of God Selected

But something unseen also happened at the same time.  We can understand this from the title that John the Baptist had previously given to Jesus.  In announcing him John had said:

 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!

John 1:29

Jesus was ‘the Lamb of God’.  In Abraham’s sacrifice, God was the one who had selected the lamb replacing Isaac by catching it in a bush.  The Temple was at this same location.  

When Jesus went into the Temple on Nisan 10 God selected him as His Passover Lamb.   

Jesus had to be in the Temple on this exact day in order to be selected – and he was.

The Purpose of Jesus as Passover Lamb

Why was he selected as Passover lamb?  Jesus’ teaching provides the answer.  When he said, ‘My house will be called a house of prayer for all nations’ he quoted from the Prophet Isaiah.  Here is the full passage (what Jesus spoke is in red).

And foreigners who bind themselves to the Lord
    to minister to him,
to love the name of the Lord,
    and to be his servants,
all who keep the Sabbath without desecrating it
    and who hold fast to my covenant—
these I will bring to my holy mountain
    and give them joy in my house of prayer.
Their burnt offerings and sacrifices
    will be accepted on my altar;
for my house will be called
    a house of prayer for all nations.

Isaiah 56: 6-7
Historical Timeline of Isaiah with some other prophets of the Old Testament

The ‘Holy Mountain’ that Isaiah had written about was Mount Moriah, where Abraham had sacrificed the lamb selected by God in place of Isaac.  The ‘house of prayer’ was the Temple which Jesus entered on Nisan 10.  However, only Jews could sacrifice at the Temple and celebrate Passover.  But Isaiah had written that ‘foreigners’ (non-Jews) would one day see that ‘their burnt offerings and sacrifices would be accepted’.  In quoting the prophet Isaiah, Jesus announced that his work would open a path to God for non-Jews. 

As the protests of high-profile Jewish activists like Wurmbrand, Urgant and Sharansky would be noticed by nations around the world, so Jesus said his work would similarly be felt.  He did not explain at this point how he would do this.   But as we continue the gospel account we will see how God had a plan to bless you and me.

Next days in Passion Week

After the Jews selected their lambs on Nisan 10, the regulations in the Torah commanded them to:

Take care of them until the fourteenth day of the month, when all the members of the community of Israel must slaughter them at twilight.

Exodus 12:6

Since that first Passover at the time of Moses, the Jews sacrifice their Passover lambs every Nisan 14.  We add ‘taking care of the lambs’ and their sacrifice to the Torah Regulations in the timeline we are building for the week.  In the lower half of the timeline we add the activities of Jesus on Day 2 of the week – his cleansing of the Temple and his selection as God’s Passover lamb.

Activities of Jesus on Monday – Day 2 – compared to Torah regulations

Marked and Selected by the Authorities 

When Jesus entered and cleansed the Temple, this also had an impact at the human level.  The Gospel continues by stating:

18 The chief priests and the teachers of the law heard this and began looking for a way to kill him, for they feared him, because the whole crowd was amazed at his teaching.

Mark 11:18

In cleansing the Temple he was targeted by the Jewish leaders to be killed.  As Wurmbrand, Urgant and Sharansky were targeted by the leaders they protested against, Jesus was from this point on, a marked man.

They started by confronting him.  The Gospel recounts that the next day…

 27 They arrived again in Jerusalem, and while Jesus was walking in the temple courts, the chief priests, the teachers of the law and the elders came to him. 28 “By what authority are you doing these things?” they asked. “And who gave you authority to do this?”

Mark 11:27-28

We follow the schemes of the authorities, the actions of Jesus, and the Torah regulations on Tuesday, Day 3 of Passion Week, next.

Day 1: Jesus – Light to the Nations

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky

Since Russia launched its invasion of Ukraine, the galvanizing figure of Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky has become a familiar face to the nations of the world. Against the Russian claim that they invaded Ukraine to get rid of its Nazi government, Zelensky replies that he is Jewish, asking how his government could then be a Nazi one.  Zelensky has gone on a virtual tour of the halls of power of the nations around the world, given pitch-perfect addresses to government bodies of many nations.  He spoke to the British Parliament, US Congress, the German Bundestag, the Israeli Knesset, the Canadian Parliament, the Italian Parliament, the Japanese parliament, the United Nations General Assembly, been given the highest Czech honor, as well as national honors in Latvia, Lithuania and Poland.     

The Jews – Light to the Nations

Zelensky with his virtual tour of parliaments and halls of power of the nations to chastise, encourage, plead and goad them into moral action on behalf of Ukraine, illustrates so well the prophecy that Isaiah foretold 2700 years ago about the Jewish people. Isaiah had prophesied:

“I, the Lord, have called you in righteousness;
    I will take hold of your hand.
I will keep you and will make you
    to be a covenant for the people
     and a light for the Gentiles,

Isaiah 42:6

Nations will come to your light,
    and kings to the brightness of your dawn.

Isaiah 60:3

Jews have carried this mantle of being a ‘light to the nations’ given 2700 years ago by Isaiah. They ponder its meaning.  We know this from search results on popular Israeli websites. Here are the ‘Light to the nations’ results in TimesOfIsrael, and here similarly for the Jerusalem Post.  

Claims to be a ‘Light to the Nations’

In spite of his prominent voice to all the nations today, Zelensky has never claimed to be a ‘light to the nations’. That would be presumptuous. The one Jewish person in history who is on record as having claimed that distinction is Jesus. But it is not only his claim to be such a ‘light’, but it is when and how he made this claim that marks him. We look at this here and reflect on whether his legacy justifies this claim.

After the Triumphant Entry on Palm Sunday

Jesus had just entered Jerusalem mounted on a donkey as Zechariah  had prophesied 500 years earlier, doing so on the exact day that the prophet Daniel had prophesied 550 years earlier.  The Jews had been arriving from many countries for the upcoming Passover festival so Jerusalem was crowded with Jewish pilgrims. Therefore the manner of Jesus’ arrival had caused a stir among the Jews.  But it was not only the Jews who noticed his arrival.  The Gospel records what happened right after he entered Jerusalem.

 20 Now there were some Greeks among those who went up to worship at the festival. 21 They came to Philip, who was from Bethsaida in Galilee, with a request. “Sir,” they said, “we would like to see Jesus.” 22 Philip went to tell Andrew; Andrew and Philip in turn told Jesus.

John 12:20-22

 The Greek – Jew barrier in ancient times

It was extremely unusual for Greeks, (that is Gentiles or non-Jews), to be at a Jewish festival like Passover.  The Greeks and Romans of that time, since they were pagans, were considered unclean and shunned by the Jews.  And most Greeks considered the Jewish religion with only one (unseen) God and its festivals to be foolish. So these peoples regularly stayed apart from each other.  Since the Gentile, or non-Jewish, society was many times larger than the Jewish society, the Jews lived in a sort of isolation from much of the world.  Their different religion, their kosher diet, their exclusive Book created a barrier between the Jews and the Gentiles, with each side hostile to the other side (as we saw with the Maccabees).

…Prophesied to come down

But Isaiah (700 BCE) claimed to see far into the future and he foresaw a change for the nations.  He had written:

Isaiah in Historical Timeline

 49 Listen to me, you islands;
    hear this, you distant nations:
Before I was born the Lord called me;
    from my mother’s womb he has spoken my name…

Isaiah 49: 1

And now the Lord says—
    he who formed me in the womb to be his servant
to bring Jacob back to him
    and gather Israel to himself,
for I am honored in the eyes of the Lord
    and my God has been my strength—
he says:
“It is too small a thing for you to be my servant
    to restore the tribes of Jacob
    and bring back those of Israel I have kept.
I will also make you a light for the Gentiles,
    that my salvation may reach to the ends of the earth.”

Isaiah 49: 5-6

 60 “Arise, shine, for your light has come,
    and the glory of the Lord rises upon you.
See, darkness covers the earth
    and thick darkness is over the peoples,
but the Lord rises upon you
    and his glory appears over you.
Nations will come to your light,
    and kings to the brightness of your dawn.

Isaiah 60:1-3

So Isaiah had foretold that the coming ‘servant’ of the Lord, though Jewish (‘the tribes of Jacob’), would be a ‘light for the Gentiles’ (all the non-Jews) and this light would reach to the ends of the earth.  But how could this happen with this barrier between the Jews and the Gentiles lasting hundreds of years?

Jesus’ Entry that Day begins the process

That day when Jesus entered Jerusalem the light began to draw the first Gentiles because we see some approaching him.  Here at this Jewish festival were Greeks who had journeyed to Jerusalem to learn about him.  But would they, considered unclean by the Jews, be able to see him?  They asked Jesus’ companions, who brought the request to Jesus.  What would he say?  The Gospel continues

23 Jesus replied, “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified.24 Very truly I tell you, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies,it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds.25 Anyone who loves their life will lose it, while anyone who hates their life in this world will keep it for eternal life. 26 Whoever serves me must follow me; and where I am, my servant also will be. My Father will honor the one who serves me.

27 “Now my soul is troubled, and what shall I say? ‘Father, save me from this hour’? No, it was for this very reason I came to this hour. 28 Father, glorify your name!”

Then a voice came from heaven, “I have glorified it, and will glorify it again.”29 The crowd that was there and heard it said it had thundered; others said an angel had spoken to him.

30 Jesus said, “This voice was for your benefit, not mine. 31 Now is the time for judgment on this world; now the prince of this world will be driven out.32 And I, when I am lifted up[a] from the earth, will draw all people to myself.”33 He said this to show the kind of death he was going to die.

34 The crowd spoke up, “We have heard from the Law that the Messiah will remain forever, so how can you say, ‘The Son of Man must be lifted up’?Who is this ‘Son of Man’?”

35 Then Jesus told them, “You are going to have the light just a little while longer. Walk while you have the light, before darkness overtakes you.Whoever walks in the dark does not know where they are going. 36 Believe in the light while you have the light, so that you may become children of light.”When he had finished speaking, Jesus left and hid himself from them.

John 12: 23- 36

Belief and Unbelief Among the Jews

37 Even after Jesus had performed so many signs in their presence, they still would not believe in him. 38 This was to fulfill the word of Isaiah the prophet:

“Lord, who has believed our message
    and to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?”[b]

39 For this reason they could not believe, because, as Isaiah says elsewhere:

40 “He has blinded their eyes
    and hardened their hearts,
so they can neither see with their eyes,
    nor understand with their hearts,
    nor turn—and I would heal them.”[c]

41 Isaiah said this because he saw Jesus’ glory and spoke about him.

42 Yet at the same time many even among the leaders believed in him. But because of the Pharisees they would not openly acknowledge their faith for fear they would be put out of the synagogue; 43 for they loved human praisemore than praise from God.

44 Then Jesus cried out, “Whoever believes in me does not believe in me only, but in the one who sent me. 45 The one who looks at me is seeing the one who sent me. 46 I have come into the world as a light, so that no one who believes in me should stay in darkness.

47 “If anyone hears my words but does not keep them, I do not judge that person. For I did not come to judge the world, but to save the world.48 There is a judge for the one who rejects me and does not accept my words; the very words I have spoken will condemn them at the last day.49 For I did not speak on my own, but the Father who sent me commanded me to say all that I have spoken. 50 I know that his command leads to eternal life. So whatever I say is just what the Father has told me to say.”

John 12: 37-50

Against the prevailing Jew-Gentile animosities of that day, Jesus said that he would be ‘lifted up’ and this would draw ‘all people’ – not just the Jews – to himself. 

Jesus boldly claimed that he had ‘come into the world as a light’(v.46) which the previous prophets had written would shine on all nations.  And on the day when he entered Jerusalem, the light first began to shine on the Gentiles.  

Jesus’ Light to the Nations in History

Consider now how the halls of power, with their accompanying institutions, where Zelensky has been speaking recently have come about by Jesus’ influence on the nations. 

Here are some quick examples

These practices, customs and institutions that we often take for granted today across the many nations came about as people were influenced by the legacy of Jesus through history.  From a strictly historical point-of-view, Jesus of Nazareth has been the brightest Jewish light upon the many nations. Isaiah’s predictions 2700 years ago have come true through Jesus’ historical influence on the nations.

Passion Week Day-by-Day

But Jesus did not come simply to be a Light to the nations.  He had also declared War on death itself. How he goes about this struggle is reviewed in a day-by-day recounting of his activities in Passion Week.  We will go through each day of Passion or Holy Week and note what Jesus does and says each day.  We will use this to recognize patterns that go back to the beginning of the world and bring fresh meaning to his activities that week.

The following chart goes through each day of this week.  On Sunday, the first day of the week he fulfilled three different prophecies given by three previous prophets. First he entered Jerusalem mounted on a donkey as prophesied by Zechariah.  Second, he did so in the time prophesied by Daniel.  Third, his message and miracles started to light an interest among the Gentiles – which the prophet Isiah had foretold would shine as a light to the nations and grow brighter to peoples around the world.

Events of Passion Week – Day 1 – Sunday

We continue looking at the events of Monday, Day 2 of Passion week next.