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the feasts of


 



Many Christians do not realize that the seven feasts which God commanded in Leviticus 23 are still observed by their Jewish neighbors. The feasts, as given to Israel, bore a three-fold significance. First there was the seasonal aspect of each holiday; then the feasts were to be a memorial of God's dealings with the Hebrews; and finally there was the prophetic symbolism of God's dealings with His Church, which is made up of believing Jews and believing Gentiles.

A study of the feasts of Israel will not only bring a greater understanding of the Jewish roots of our faith; it will teach the Christian much about Cod's plan of redemption throughout the ages. Leviticus 23 lists these seven feasts in order of their seasonal observance: Passover, Unleavened Bread, First Fruits, Pentecost, Trumpets, Day of Atonement, and Booths.

Passover, the first and probably best known feast, comes in the spring, in the Jewish month of Nisan, also called Abib. Passover commemorates the redemption of the Hebrews from Egyptian slavery. On the first Passover each Hebrew household sacrificed a perfect yearling lamb and sprinkled the blood on the crosspiece and sideposts of the door. The "Angel of Death" passed over the houses which were protected by the blood of the lamb, but where there was no blood, the first born was slain. Even so, we are all slaves, in bondage to sin. We are redeemed and set free by the blood of Jesus, the Messiah, the pure and spotless Lamb of God. (I Peter 1:18,19)

The Feast of Unleavened Bread occurs simultaneously with Passover. It begi ns the day after the Passover eve, and lasts for seven days. Because they are so cloggy related in time and purpose, the names are often interchangeable. During Passover and the Feast of Unleavened Bread the Jewish people put aw% all leaven from their houses and eat unleavened bread, or Matzo. Leaven in Scripture is usually a symbol of sin; the unleavened Matzo graphically portrays the pure arid sinless Messiah. It is pierced, even as our Lord was pierced by the nails in His hands and feet and the Rortian spear in His side; and it is striped in the baking, reminding us that Isaiah said, "But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities .. and with his stripes, we are healed." Isaiah 53:5.

The Feast of First Fruits is directly related to Passover and Unleavened Bread, for it is to be celebrated on "the


morrow after the Sabbath," which means the day after the first day of Unleavened Bread. In Bible times this holiday was a feast of thanksgiving for the barley harvest, the first grain of the season. The first harvest is viewed as a promise of the larger harvest to come because the conditions which brought about the first harvest will also bring the rest. Jesus the Messiah is the First Fruit whom God raised from the dead. Just as the barley harvest was the promise of more to come, He is our promise of resurrection and eternal life, through faith in Him, for He has conquered death and the grave.

Pentecost, or the Feast of Weeks, also is calculated from the first feast, Passover. It comes 50 days after the Passover sabbath, thus the name Pentecost, which means 50. This is a Greek name, but the Jewish people call it Shavuot, which is the Hebrew word for "weeks." Shavuot, too, is a harvest festival, thanki ng God for the wheat harvest. According to oral tradition, it is also the day that Moses received the Law on Mt. Sinai. On Shavuot, the priests offered two loaves of bread made from the newly harvested grain. Unlike other offerings, these loaves were baked with leaven. We see in the two loaves a type of God's people, both Jews and Gentiles, given eternal life and made one in the Messiah, Jesus, at the birth of the church on Pentecost.

After Pentecost, a long time elapses before the next feast. We see in this, our present age of waiting for the return of the Messiah Jesus. Then in the autumn, on Tishri, the seventh month of the Jewish calendar, comes the Feast of Trumpets, more commonly called Rosh Hashanah. This marks the beginning of the civil year and is the Jewish New Year's Day. In Leviticus 23:24 God commanded the blowing of trumpets on the first day of the seventh month to call the congregation of Israel together for a very solemn assembly. Accordingto Jewish teachings, Rosh Hashanah is the beginning of ten days of judgment when all the children of men pass before the Creator. The righteous are written into the Book of Life, the wicked are condemned, and those who are not wholly righteous nor wholly wicked are given ten days to repent and thus escape judgment. We who are written in the Lamb's Book of Life do not fear judgment, but rather we look for His return when He shall come with the trumpet sound and the voice of the Archangel to bring us into His sabbath of rest.

The ten days of repentance and introspection lead into the most solemn


day of the Jewish year, Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement. It has become a timf of fasting and prayer. It was the only time in Bible days when the high priest could enter the Holy of Holies. He went in before the Lord with the blood of ;i sacrificed animal to beg forgiveness for the sins of the people. Today there are no animal sacrifices and no Temple. Tho Jewish people rely solely on repentance for forgiveness of sins, but they have no assurance that God has heard and forgiven, for the Scriptures teach in Leviticus 17:11 that atonement is in the blood. When Christ offered His own blood as our atonement or covering, the veil of the Temple was torn in two, signifying that tte trad openred"tne~wa-y— into the Holy of Holies. By His sacrifice all who believe now have access to God, and a covering for sin. We look forward, to that great and final day of atonement* prophesied in Zechariah 12:10 and 13:1 when all Israel shall mourn for the ' Messiah and accept the atonement He has made.

The seventh and final feast is the Feast of Booths, known in Hebrew asSuccoth. In Bible days this was the final fall harvest . festival, a time of ingathering at Jerusalem. The Jewish people built booth-like structures and lived in them during this feast as a reminder of the temporary dwellings the Israelites had in the wilderness. Even today many Jewish people build open-roofed, three-sided huts for this festival. They decorate them with tree boughs and autumn fruits to remind them of harvest.

Everyone in Israel who was able, came up to Jerusalem for this harvest festival every year. The Temple worship for the holiday included the ritual pouring of water from the Pool of Siloam, symbolic of the prayers forthe winter rains. It was at this time that Jesus cried out, ". . .If any man thirst, let him come unto me and drink." Gohn 7:37-38)

After Israel's final day of atonement, the Feast of Booths will be celebrated again in Jerusalem. (Zechariah 14:16)

Booths speaks of the final rest, as well as the final harvest. John wrote in Revelation 21:3: "Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God." tt is our prayer that soon there will come the fulfillment of all which He promised, saying, ".. . / am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end. I will give unto him that is athirst of the fountain of the water of life freely." (Revelation 21:6)


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FEAST                       SEASON                               FOR ISRAEL                           FOR ALL GOD'S PEOPLE                                     SCRIPTURE                                EVENT                                                                                                                        U                                                                               UN DER THE LAW                            UNDER GRACE    
 PASSOVERUNLEAVENED BREAD Spring (new beginning)Spring (new life) Redemption from bondage in EgyptPurging of all leaven (symbol of sin) Believers in Christ redeemed from bondage of sinAll believers in Christ cleansed from sin and empowered to walk in newness of life . . .ye were not redeemed with corruptible things as silver and gold.. .but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot. (I Peter 1:18 and 19)Purge out. . .the old leaven that ye may be a new lump. . .for even Christ our Passover is sacrificed for us. (I Cor. 5:7)(God) made Him to be sin for us, who knew no sin, that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him. (II Cor. 5:21) THE CRUCIFIXION (Redemption)(Sanctification) (Justification)  
FIRSTFRUITS Spring (first of grain harvest) Thanksgiving for firstfruits, the promise of the harvest to come , (first of the grain presented to God) Christ, the first to rise from the dead - the promise of resurrection and eternal life for all who believe on Him But now is Christ risen from the dead. . . the firstfruits of them that slept. . .even so in Christ shall all be made alive. (I Cor. 15:20 and 22b) THE RESURRECTION OF CHRIST    
 FEAST OF WEEKS (Pentecost) Late Spring 7 weeks after Passover (ingathering of first harvest) Thanksgiving for first harvest and(according to oral tradition, the time of the giving of the law at Sinai) God's first harvest of those redeemed in Christ (Jews and Gentiles)God's law written on the hearts of the redeemed And when the Day of Pentecost was fully come. . .they were all filled with the Holy Spirit.. .(Acts 2:1a and 4a). . .the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls. (Acts 2:41b) I will put my law into their hearts and in their minds I will write them. (Hebrews 10:16) THE COMING OF THE HOLY SPIRITand BIRTH OF THE CHURCH   
(SUMMER, A TIME OF LABOR IN THE FIELDS AND PREPARATION FOR FINAL HARVEST - THE CHURCH AGE). . lift up your eyes and look on the fields; for they are white already to harvest. (John 4:35)    
OF TRUMPETS Early Autumn A Solemn Assembly (trumpets blown to prepare for the Day of Atonement) The beginning of the re-gathering of Israel to the land in preparation for the final Day of AtonementThe assembly of all believers, dead and alive, in the heavens with Christ I will gather them out of all countries whither I have driven them. . .and I will bring them again unto this place and I will cause them to dwell safely (Jer. 32:37)For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel and with the trump of God:.    and shall be caught up together. . .to meet the Lord. (I Thess. 4:16 and 17) also (I Cor. 15:52) ISRAEL REGATHEREDTHE RAPTURE OFTHECHURCH and THE RETURN OF CHRIST    
DAY OF ATONEMENT Autumn A Solemn Assembly for repentance and forgive­ness under the Law (repeated annually) Believers in Christ forgiven by one Atonement for all timeThe rest of Israel will repent and look to her Messiah in one day So Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many. . .(Heb. 9:28)And 1 will pour upon the house of David and upon the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the spirit of grace and supplications: and they shall look on Me whom they have pierced, and they shall mourn for him. . .in that day there shall be a fountain opened to the house of David and.. .Jerusalem for sin and for uncleanness (Zech. 12:10 and 13:1) ISRAEL TURNS TO HER MESSIAH
 FEAST OF BOOTHS Autumn (final harvest) Harvest celebration and        Memorial of Tabernacles in the Wilderness     THE KINGDOM OF GOD ON EARTH
   Joyous Assembly - all peoples brought under the rulership of the King Messiah. which came up against Jerusalem shall even go up from year to year to worship the King, the Lord of hosts, and to keep the feast of tabernacles (Zech. 14:16)


 

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