We can have peace in Christ because He's the real thing and He's lot's of it. What am I talking about? Colossians 2.16,17 says "Therefore, let no one judge you in matters of food and drink or with respect to a festival, a new moon, or Sabbath days. These are a shadow of the things to come, but the reality belongs to the Messiah." (ISV) Jesus is the real deal. The feasts we will study are pretty intense. Jesus is found both in the foreshadowing and in the fulfilling of the feasts. They predict Him by 1,500 years and He lives out (and dies out) the meaning of the first four feasts on the calendar days of the feasts.
But Jesus isn't just the real deal He's the whole deal! He's the great "I Am" (Jn 8.58), the Alpha and Omega (Rev 1.8)and In Him all fullness dwells (Col.1.19) These aspects of Jesus are not just meant to be appetisers for this feast study but just to show that knowing Him is the real feast. Our passion and love of Christ are stirred up as we consider that He is all and that He also gave all! ...And He gave all for you!
The Hebrew feasts are based on the lunar calendar. Psalm 104:19 says “He made the moon for the seasons; the sun knows the place of its setting.” The modern or Gregorian calendar is based on the solar cycles. Each year each festival falls on a different day.
So, without further delay, what are the seven feasts and their meanings?
1) Passover (Lev 23:5) – This is based on the Exodus of the Hebrews from Egypt (Ex.12.23)
but also predicted the Messiah as our Passover lamb. (1 Cor 5:7) whose blood would save us, even as the Israelites were saved. Jesus was crucified on the actual day of the Passover. Lambs were being killed for the Passover meal at the same time Jesus was being killed as a sacrifice for our sins. The afikomen is an interesting Jewish Passover tradition: 3 matzoth are served in a stack. The middle one is taken out and broken in two with one half hidden. After the meal, the children are sent out to find it. When found, every member of the family eats a small piece. This half of the middle matzoth is called the afikomen, which is from Greek meaning “we came” which seems to imply Jesus (I Corinthians 11.24) and the Trinity.
2) Unleavened Bread (Lev 23:6) Exodus 12.15 described the feast “For seven days you are to eat bread made without yeast. On the first day remove the yeast from your houses.” This predicted the Messiah's sinless life. Leaven is a metaphor of sin in the Bible (I.Corinthians 5,8). His purity made him a perfect and acceptable sacrifice for our sins. A kernel of wheat must “die” before it is buried and bears fruit, as He died and was in the grave three days until His rising again. (John 12,24) Jesus was in the tomb during this feast. Would He rise? Was He really sinless?
3) First Fruits (Lev 23:10) – Because of its location, Israel has two harvest seasons, the spring and the fall. This feast celebrates the barley harvest. But what is the deeper significance? This first fruits offering was to be an offering of the first samples of the crop unto God. This feast predicted the Messiah's resurrection as the first spiritual fruit of God. Many others would become spiritually regenerated after Jesus rose. Jesus was resurrected on the exact day of this holiday. Paul refers to Jesus in I Corinthians 15:20,23 as the "first fruits from the dead."
4) Weeks or Pentecost (Leviticus 23:16) This means “fiftieth” and this feast occurred fifty days after the feast of First fruits. This feast celebrates the harvest of the winter wheat. It's sometimes called the feast of "latter first fruits" because it follows the barley harvest. This predicted to the gift of the Holy Spirit and the ensuing great harvest of souls, who would be brought into the kingdom of God during the Church Age. Romans 8.29 describes Jesus as the"firstborn among many brethren" and this holiday celebrates the birth of the church as described in Acts 2. 3,000 Jews responded to Peter's sermon and were saved the day this happened! Jesus had promised to send the Holy Spirit before he finally ascended (Jn 16.7)
5) Trumpets (Leviticus 23:24) After a long hiatus, this first feast of the fall season arrives . In the Bible, there were two kinds of trumpets, long silver ones and the short ram’s horn, the shofar. These trumpets can be for a warning or for a peaceful gathering of the people, as in Numbers 10.7. It has been a long hiatus since the spring feasts were fulfilled in rapid succession. Scripture describes an event which begins with the blowing of the trumpet and is known as the Rapture of the Church."(I Thessalonians 4:13-18 and I Corinthians 15:52). There seems to be a connection between this feast and the gathering of the Church also known as the "Bride of Christ." Many believe this to be imminent and the next event on the prophetic calendar.
6) Day of Atonement (Leviticus 23:27) The High Priest makes atonement for himself and for the people of Israel (Leviticus 16). One day Jesus will return from out of the Holy of Holies in heaven to make atonement for Israel who has been blind to His identity (Romans 11.25). Israel as a nation will finally recognize Him as Messiah and "look upon Him whom they have pierced." (Zechariah 12:10) They will mourn and repent as a nation of their sins, and receive Jesus as their Messiah ( and Romans 11:1-6, 25-36).
7) Tabernacles or Booths (Leviticus 23:34) This was a feast of great joy. “Celebrate the Feast of Tabernacles for seven days after you have gathered the produce of your threshing floor and your winepress.” (Deut 16.13) The Hebrews lived in booths one week to remember their time living in tents in the wilderness after the Exodus, even as the tabernacle of God's presence dwelt among them. How does this relate to Jesus? John 1.14 states “The Word was made flesh and dwelt among us.” The word “dwelt” in Greek is actually “tabernacled.” This predicts the time Jesus Christ will return to earth bodily. This marks the beginning of the “millennial reign,” when the Messiah will reign over all the earth with His people (Jeremiah 23.5) Zechariah 14.16 describes the celebration of this feast after the future battle of Armageddon (Revelation 20.4). Napoleon stood at Megiddo before his attempt to conquer the East. As he viewed the enormous plain of Armageddon, he said, "All the armies of the world could maneuver their forces on this vast plain… There is no place in the whole world more suited for war than this… [It is] the most natural battleground of the whole earth.” (The Battles of Armageddon, Pg. 142)
If the rapture of the church is considered the next important event in the prophetic calendar, it’s interesting to note when the coinciding Feast of Trumpets occurs. This feast is celebrated on the first day of the month of Tishri. Leviticus 23:24, states, "Speak to the children of Israel, saying: 'In the seventh month, on the first day of the month, you shall have a sabbath-rest, a memorial of blowing of trumpets, a holy convocation" (NKJV). This is the only feast celebrated on a new moon, the first day of the month. This feast, also called Rosh Hashanah, always occurs in September or October, according to modern calendars. This year, 2009, Rosh Hashanah will start on Saturday, the 19th of September and will continue for 2 days until Sunday, the 20th of September. It’s important to note that technically it begins the evening before. The Jewish day begins at sundown, so according to our system, it actually begins at sundown on September the 18th.
The Year of Jubilee
The Bible describes how there is not just a Sabbath on the seventh day; there is also a Sabbath on the seventh year and on the fiftieth year, known as the year of Jubilee. The land was to “lie fallow” or to rest from farming every seven years. (Lev 25.1-4, 8-10) The seventh year is also called a “year of release” from debts (Deut 15.1-18) and for servants and slaves (Ex 21.1-6)
Why Did Israel Go Into Captivity?
Leviticus 26:23-24, 32-35, 43 show that one of the main reasons Israel went into captivity was for not letting the land rest. II Chronicles 36:14-21 shows how after 490 years of disobedience, Israel was carried away captive to Babylon, until the land had enjoyed her Sabbaths. Israel rested seventy years before the Jews returned from captivity.
Jesus and the Jubilee
One day Jesus read scripture in the temple, as was the custom to do (Lu 4.16-21). He stands and recites Isaiah 61.1-2. He reads verse one and half of verse 2:“The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me, Because the LORD has anointed me To bring good news to the afflicted; He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, To proclaim liberty to captives And freedom to prisoners; 2 To proclaim the favorable year of the LORD…” He then sits down and as they stare at Him, He astounds them by saying “This day is this scripture is fulfilled in your ears.” It’s interesting because He reads about the idea of the jubilee, the release of captives, but he does not read about the “vengeance of our God” in the second half of the verse. It seems that He was proclaiming Himself to be the Jubilee spiritually, for those held captive as slaves to sin. The vengeance or judgment of God had not yet begun and is described in the scriptures as the “Great Tribulation.” The Jubilee began on the Day of Atonement and this is probably the Sabbath day that He gave this message and said it was fulfilled.
The Liberty Bell
In the city of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in the United States is a landmark bell called the “Liberty Bell.” The text engraved into the Liberty Bell is the Jubilee call: “And ye shall hallow the fiftieth year, and proclaim liberty throughout all the land unto all the inhabitants thereof: it shall be a jubilee unto you; and ye shall return every man unto his possession, and ye shall return every man unto his family.”– Leviticus 25:10
On July 8th, 1776, the bell rang out summoning the people to hear the reading of the Declaration of Independence. A small crack began to form on the bell until the crack enlarged when rung for George Washington’s birthday in 1846. After that, the bell was considered un-ring-able. It was the abolitionists against slavery who first gave it the name “Liberty Bell,” based on the Bible verse inscription. Slaves were eventually set free. Some contend that the economic recessions and depressions in the US are connected with the fact that the years of jubilee have not been honored, in terms of releasing debts, etc.
As we have been studying through the Bible, we have seen the laws and traditions God gave to the Israelites. Many have described the laws delivered to Israel in terms of three different groups: moral, ceremonial, and judicial, the moral being the 10 Commandments, ceremonial being religious laws and judicial being laws for the nation of Israel. Some contend that Christians today are not under the law in any sense, that we live completely by grace. Others say that we are responsible for obeying only the moral law, the Ten Commandments. While others contend that the principles of all the laws apply to our lives today and we should observe them for our own good.
What is the correct attitude to have? A verse mentioned earlier deals specifically with this question, at least regarding the feasts and the Sabbath. It shows it is a matter of conscience for each individual Christian. Colossians 2:16-17 states “Therefore do not let anyone judge you by what you eat or drink, or with regard to a religious festival, a New Moon celebration or a Sabbath day. These are a shadow of the things that were to come; the reality, however, is found in Christ.” (ISV) As Christians we are not bound by law to observe the feasts as the Hebrews were. But in our freedom we can glean from studying or even observing the feasts if we feel the Lord is leading us to. In any event, we should not criticize Christians who do choose to celebrate them (Romans 14:5).