April 6-7, 2012: 150th anniversary of the Battle of Shiloh, one of the ten costliest battles of the Civil War. Shiloh’s fierce fighting produced nearly 24,000 casualties.
April 6, 2012: Good Friday. This year, the anniversary of the battle’s first day falls on the same day the traditional church calendar commemorates the crucifixion of Jesus Christ. Resurrection Sunday follows on April 8.
April 7, 2012: Passover. This year too, at sundown on April 6, the weeklong celebration of Passover begins. Passover commemorates the exodus of the Israelites from Egypt, after Pharaoh’s persistent refusal to let the nation go a three-days’ journey into the wilderness to celebrate a feast to the Lord. Nine plagues sent by God didn’t convince Pharaoh. Then came the tenth plague – the death of the firstborn in every household, except those that had sacrificed a lamb and applied its blood to the top and sides of the doorframe. The morning after the tenth plague hit, Pharaoh let the Israelites go. Then, almost immediately, he sent his army after them. With the Red Sea before them and an angry army approaching from the rear, the Israelites thought they had entered a deathtrap. But God parted the waters, and Pharaoh himself drove them out of Egypt. By the blood of the lamb, an enslaved, oppressed people passed over into freedom.
All four Gospels testify that the crucifixion of Christ took place at Passover. God did that on purpose. He who created time sent his Son at this appointed time to die in our behalf. Unlike other Passover lambs, Jesus rose again. Whoever applies his blood to their hearts passes over into freedom and life – abundant, eternal, from-this-moment-made-radically-new LIFE.
One Old Testament prophecy of Jesus calls him, Shiloh. “The scepter shall not depart from Judah, nor the ruler’s staff from between his feet, until Shiloh comes, and to him shall be the obedience of the peoples” (Gen 49:10 NASU).
According to the calendar God gave the Hebrews – and according to the calendar our culture uses today – the 150th anniversary of the incomprehensible bloodbath of Shiloh falls on another anniversary. Some two thousand years ago, Shiloh came. He lived on this earth for 33 years. Then, as Passover began, he was arrested, given a mock trial, whipped and crucified.
“For Christ, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed” (1 Cor. 5:7). “He entered the Most Holy Place once for all by his own blood, thus obtaining eternal redemption” (Heb. 9:12).
April 6-7, 2012: God’s appointed time. Remember, if you will, the vicious battle that occurred 150 years ago on these dates. But let the memory take you where it hasn’t before. Let it sober you. Let it bring you to the place of glorying only in the blood of the One who is the Life. For this is the time to remember – and to celebrate with great joy – the Shiloh who did indeed rise again.
Click to read the related article, “Till Shiloh Comes.”