2019 Study Summary 25: It is Finished
Matthew 28; Mark 16; Luke 24; John 20–21
“He Is Risen”
How do death and burial practices contrast the resurrection?
The resurrection is so exceptional and such a “antithesis of death,” that an added insight to Jewish burial practices may be of value. “There is no explicit biblical evidence as to how soon after death burial took place, but it is likely that it was within a day after death. This was dictated by the climate and by the fact that the Israelites did not enbalm the dead (Jacob and Joseph were embalmed following Egyptian custom).” “The duty of burial is an obligation of the deceased’s heir but if they cannot or do not perform it, the whole community is responsible. In Talmudic times, the communal fraternal societies for the burial of the dead evolved out of an appreciation of this duty. In many communities, even till modern times, acceptance into the hevra kaddisha (as the society is known) is considered to be an honor and only mature, respected men and women are initiated.” (Encyclopedia Judaica Jr.)
What is the “Manner of the Jews” in burial?
“One of the functions of the hevra kaddisha is the . . . washing the corpse and preparing it for burial . . . dressed in simple white shrouds and, as a rule, wrapped in the tallit he wore during his lifetime. The tallit is, however, invalidated by having one of the zizit removed.” “Coffins were unknown in biblical times. The corpse was laid, face upwards . . . in direct contact with the earth — “For dust you are, and to dust you shall return” (Genesis 3:19) (Encyclopedia Judaica Jr.)
Where were the dead buried?
“Although nowadays burial always takes place in a cemetery, this was not always so. In biblical times the practice was to bury the dead in family sepulchers which might have been in natural caves . . . great care has always been taken to keep the cemetery in the best possible order out of respect for the dead and sensitivity to the mourners . . .The custom of decorating graves with flowers is strongly opposed by some Orthodox rabbis on the ground that it is a “gentile custom.” Neither Conservative nor Reform Judaism, however, objects and it is also common practice in Israel, particularly in military cemeteries.” “Escorting the dead to his last resting place is considered a great mitzvah . . . and is called “the true kindness” since one can expect no reciprocation of any sort.” (Encyclopedia Judaica Jr.)
What does the “Day of Atonement” mean to the Jews?
The atonement has been the central issue of true religion from the beginning of man’s mortal sojourn through eternity. In Judaism, a special day was established as a Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement. “The tenth of the Hebrew month of Tishrei is Yom Kippur, a day of fasting and prayer for all Israel, a day which has been significant to Jews throughout the ages. The Day of Atonement is the last of the Ten Days of Penitence which begin with Rosh Ha-Shanah, and is the climax of the repentance and soul-searching incumbent on every Jew during this period.” “The essence of the day and the reasons for its special prayers and ceremony are expressed in the Torah: “For on this day shall atonement be made for you, to cleanse you; from all your sins shall ye be clean before the Lord.” “So important is Yom Kippur that it is the only fast day which may be observed on the Sabbath and is never postponed until the next day. Moreover, the Torah describes the holiness of Yom Kippur by calling it the “Sabbath of Sabbaths.” (Encyclopedia Judaica Jr.)
How does the reading of the Book of Jonah imply the atonement?
The Jewish reading of the scriptures on Yom Kippur is the book of Jonah who survived being in a great fish three nights and spewed out on the third day . . . the rescue effected by prayer and not by force. The book is to be understood as a lesson in Divine forgiveness and mercy — to Jonah as well as to the people of Nineveh — and as a lesson in obedience to God’s will. As a symbol of the effectiveness of repentance it is read as the haftarah at the afternoon service of the Day of Atonement. “Because of its theme of sin, repentance, and forgiveness the Book of Jonah is read every Day of Atonement at the Minhah service.” (Encyclopedia Judaica Jr.)
What Sign was given to the Pharisees?
The example of Jonah being swallowed by a great fish for three days and three nights, (Jonah 1:17), is a symbol of atonement and that the Messiah would rise from the dead. (Matthew 12:38-40) There were two Sabbaths in a row that year (the Passover Sabbath and the regular seventh day of the week Sabbath). In that sense, Jesus was crucified on what we call a Thursday. This fits in the time reckoning of Palm Sunday being five days before the Passover (John 12:12). Then in fulfillment of prophecy, He really was in the tomb three nights; and on the third day He arose: “. . . and be raised again the third day.” (Matthew 16:21; 17:23, Mark 9:31) This corresponds directly with the three days of darkness in the Book of Mormon lands. (3 Nephi 8:23)
How can I believe, and know?
The scriptures bear witness, the spirit bears witness of an empty tomb: “He is not here.” (Matthew 28:6, Mark 16:6, Luke 24:6) They teach us that color, calendar, clock, people, places and experiences were used to foreshadow the atonement. With open hearts we may have experiences, meet worthy people, visit holy places, understand God’s timing of calendar events, and see eternal purposes of Him who died and came alive again.