Palm Sunday is a key date in the biblical calendar. Jesus spent most of His ministry resisting attempts by others to be presented as the Messiah, despite having many opportunities to do so. However, on one particular day, Jesus carefully arranges this very event to declare that he was the prophesied Saviour of the world. Palm Sunday was a key date in Jesus’ calendar!
Not only did Jesus make special preparations for this day, he also fulfilled a stunning prophecy and began to map out the pattern of the Passover lamb. This is explained in detail by Danny in a recent sermon that can listened to at the bottom of this blog.
However, consider this prophecy in the book of Daniel:
“Seventy ‘sevens’ are decreed for your people and your holy city to finish transgression, to put an end to sin, to atone for wickedness, to bring in everlasting righteousness, to seal up vision and prophecy and to anoint the Most Holy Place. “Know and understand this: From the time the word goes out to restore and rebuild Jerusalem until the Anointed One, the ruler, comes, there will be seven ‘sevens,’ and sixty-two ‘sevens.’ It will be rebuilt with streets and a trench, but in times of trouble. After the sixty-two ‘sevens,’ the Anointed One will be put to death and will have nothing. The people of the ruler who will come will destroy the city and the sanctuary. The end will come like a flood: War will continue until the end, and desolations have been decreed. He will confirm a covenant with many for one ‘seven.’ In the middle of the ‘seven’ he will put an end to sacrifice and offering. And at the temple he will set up an abomination that causes desolation, until the end that is decreed is poured out on him.” (Daniel 9:24-27 NIV)
A ‘week’ of years is a common Hebrew idiom to refer to a period of seven years (in much the same way that we would refer to a ‘fortnight’ as referring to a period of 14 days). It is also important to recognise that the length of the Hebrew calendar is 360 years in duration. The bold text in the above passage is a mathematical prophecy: we are told the length of time between the command to restore and rebuild Jerusalem until the ‘Messiah, the Prince’ would be a period of 69 ‘weeks’ which equates to 173,880 days. The command to restore and rebuild Jerusalem was given by Artaxerxes Longimanus on the 14th of March 445 BC. When you count 173,880 days from this date and correct for leap days, you arrive in April 32AD which is very likely to be the precise day that Jesus presents Himself as the Messiah in the triumphal entry!
The religious leaders of the day were not ready. They tell Jesus to silence the crowds and he points out that they should have seen this day coming. They had no excuse.
Even the crowds were not ready. As Jesus approaches the Temple Mount that day, he takes an unexpected turn. Rather than turn right and overthrow the Romans at the Antonia Fortress, he turns left and kicks the traders out of the temple courts. The crowds change their declarations of worship to shouts of condemnation within a matter of days. They had distorted their image of the coming Messiah to fit their own agendas. It is vital that the church does not make the same mistake.
Just as Old Testament prophecy was literally and precisely fulfilled, we have no doubt that God will also literally and precisely fulfil the prophecies that relate to the end times. We have a responsibility to be ready and alert as we have been warned before the event. Jesus has other very important dates on his calendar:
For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever. (1 Thessalonians 4:16-17 NIV)
Listen, I tell you a mystery: We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed– in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. For the perishable must clothe itself with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality. (1 Corinthians 15:51-53 NIV)
We are not told when this amazing prophecy will be fulfilled, but we are instructed to be ready…
Feel free to listen to Danny’s sermon: