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The Secret Codes in Matthew: Examining Israel’s Messiah, Part 22: Matthew 27:27-28:20, by Kevin M. Williams

Our modern minds think of “evening” as occurring after sundown, but not so in the Temple period. There was “lila” which was nighttime when stars shone in the sky, and there was “erev,” the hours just before sunset (between 2:00-4:00)—before three stars could be seen in the approaching night. According to temple tradition, the evening sacrifices had to be accomplished before the sunset, as many of God’s instructions required separation until after sunset. This period was the ninth hour.

The minchah offering, the evening sacrifice, was made at the ninth hour and this is where our Matthew account and the goings on in the temple converge with symbolic significance.

While minchah signifies the time, it does not signify the type. There were many “types” of sacrifices, from sin offerings to fellowship offerings in the temple ritual, as commanded by the Torah. Each held a different significance; some were eaten while others were burned entirely, some required this type of animal while others needed a different beast—or perhaps grain instead. The instructions were varied depending on the need, but for minchah, the final sacrifice of the day was always an asham offering: the sin (or guilt) offering.

As the High Priest was taking the life of an innocent lamb in the Holy Temple, Yeshua who was the Temple Incarnate and the Lamb of God was having his own blood spilt. There are strong parallels here worth noting. One of the attributes of the asham offering is to atone for the sins the people do not even know they have committed, an Old Testament picture of unmerited grace.

Luke’s gospel drives this point home even more clearly, as our asham prayed to God, “But Jesus was saying, ‘Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing’” (Luke 23:34).

How mighty a prayer, and through His identification with the Passover sacrifice, Yeshua causes death to pass-over and for those who believe, redeems Adam’s curse. But equally as important, by becoming the asham offering, the sins we have committed in ignorance are washed clean as prophesied: “But the Lord was pleased To crush Him, putting Him to grief; If He would render Himself as a guilt (asham) offering” (Isaiah 53:10, parenthesis mine).

In this Matthew account, centuries of preparation and symbolism converged at the appointed time, the ninth hour.


Yeshua cried out in the common Arabic, “Eli, Eli, Lama Sabachthani?” and some believe from this singular call that the Redeemer was now forsaken by God, meaning that the Lord was suddenly displeased and had turned his face away from Yeshua in rejection.

Yes, the words translate as, “My God, my God, why hast Thou forsaken me?” Within the entirety of Scripture, however, there is no precedence for God to forsake a sacrifice He ordained. Time and again in the Torah, though the slain animal took on the sins of the guilty—even the sins of an entire nation—the offerings were a “soothing aroma to the Lord” and were accepted willingly.

The only evidence we might find of sacrifices being rejected is when they were offered legalistically, without a contrite heart: these were an abomination. Because Yeshua laid down His life willingly as the wholly innocent offering, certainly His execution as the asham and paschal sacrifices were as God had ordained and gave the Almighty no cause to “forsake” His Son.

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Category: Biblical Studies, Fall 2006, Pneuma Review

About the Author: Kevin M. Williams, Litt.D., H.L.D. has served in Messianic ministries since 1987 and has written numerous articles and been a featured speaker at regional and international conferences on Messianic Judaism.

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