REVELATION OF GOD’S PLAN THROUGH 7 JEWISH FEASTS
These are the feasts of the Lord, holy convocations which you shall proclaim at their appointed times. [Leviticus 23: 4]. Leviticus 23 is the single Chapter of entire Tanakh that sums up everything. God’s eternal plan – from chaos to eternity – is ingeniously revealed through the nature and timing of the Seven Annual Feasts of the LORD. The feasts celebrate a historical event in Israel’s past, but also are a prophecy of future events, four of which have already come to pass. It is very important to note that the Feasts that symbolize a sequence of events, were given by God in a set chronological order. Therefore, the events that they symbolize will take place in the same exact order.
The four spring feasts, (1) Passover (Pesach), (2) Unleavened Bread, (3) First Fruits, and (4) Shavuot – Pentacost powerfully illustrate the truth and fulfillment of our salvation in Messiah. Indeed, the depth of LORD’s heart is expressed in the fulfillment of these biblical feasts that are outlined in Leviticus 23. The Almighty Creator says, “These are My appointed times and they are … a perpetual statute” (Leviticus 23:2,31). These are divine appointments by which the LORD calls His people to meet with Him. When He calls you can know for certain He will show up and bring a blessing to the obedient that come. These feasts were not just to bless Israel to become a holy people with the privilege of meeting with Him on these Holy Days. The focal point of every feast was the sacrificial altar covered with the blood of a sacrificed unblemished animal—a substitute whose blood would atone for their sins and give them peace and reconciliation with their holy God and Creator. These feasts were given to Israel as a preview of the ultimate sacrifice and how important that sacrifice is, for without the shedding of blood our sins separate us now and eternally from a holy Creator. The LORD gave us the blood to make atonement for our sins and the feasts point to that and they are fulfilled “through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all” (Hebrews 10:10). Therefore, every feast is most important and relevant to lead and draw both Jews and Gentiles who seek to know and behold Jesus their Lamb.
The three fall feasts of Leviticus 23, (1) The Feast of Trumpets (Yom Teruah), (2) The Day of Atonement (Yom Kippur), and (3) The Feast of Tabernacles (Sukkot) are yet to be fulfilled. These three Fall Feasts are the conclusion of what began with Passover and exemplify and foreshadow Jesus our Lamb and the LORD’s plan of redemption.
Jesus often pointed to the “beginning” (Genesis), the Law of Moses (first five books) and the prophets (Jeremiah through Malachi) to reveal God’s plan for mankind and clues to recognize the Savior. For the Jews of his time, understanding the Old Testament was key to discovering that Jesus is their promised Messiah. And if you have heard the Good News from the New Testament and received Jesus as your Savior, Old Testament prophecies and symbolism provide further proof and assurance that Jesus is the Christ, the son of the living God.
1.0 PASSOVER | PESACH
This feast remembers the last plague in Egypt, when the angel of death “passed over” the children of Israel who applied the blood of the lamb to their doors. The 14th of Nissan (on the Biblical calendar), is when we enter into the glorious season memorializing the Passover in Egypt 3,500 years ago when Israel, the LORD’s chosen people, were spared death because of the lamb’s blood that was placed over the door posts and lintels of their homes (Exodus 12:7). The original Passover with Moses was a foreshadowing of our ultimate Passover Lamb and Deliverer, Jesus the Messiah. The LORD’s word proclaims, “Without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sins” (Hebrews 9:22). When John the Baptist said, “Look! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!” (John 1:29), he understood the Old Testament reference. And in the New Testament we see that Jesus — born in a stable, visited by shepherds and led to the slaughter — is that lamb sent for us. His death allows the judgement we deserve to pass over us.
2.0 FEAST OF UNLEAVENED BREAD
This seven-day feast begins on the day following the start of Passover. In the haste of the Israelites to leave Egypt, there was no time to add leaven (yeast) to their bread. During this time, remembering the hardships in Egypt and how God freed them from captivity, the Jews eat nothing leavened. Leaven often represents sin and decay in the Bible. Once incorporated, yeast becomes an inseparable part of the bread; the same is true for sin’s effect on our lives. The Jews were constantly sacrificing unblemished animals to temporarily atone for sin. Only the Messiah, the perfect sinless sacrifice, could offer a permanent solution. In John 6:35, Jesus boldly states that he is the bread of life. Not only does he remove our sins, he nourishes our souls!
With the Feast of Unleavened Bread, the LORD is pointing out that we have been set free and delivered from bondage as the children of Israel were in order to worship and serve Him in “spirit and in truth”. The Passover Lamb died to deliver and redeem us to be true worshippers and children of the Most High. We are to reflect Him, by His spirit in and through us, in holy conduct, words and deeds to the glory of His Father. As His children, we are making pilgrimage to the Promised Land, which is His Eternal Holy Kingdom, the blessed hope of all the redeemed who are longingly looking up and “waiting for Him” (Hebrews 9:28).
3.0 FEAST OF FIRST FRUITS
The Feast of First Fruits is one of three Jewish harvest feasts to thank and honor God for all he provided. Although they didn’t know it at the time, the children of Israel were celebrating what would become a very important day. The priests sacrificed Passover lambs on the 14th day of the month of Nisan, and the first day of Passover was the 15th. The Feast of First Fruits was celebrated the third day, the 16th of Nisan. This “third day” celebration was the same day that Jesus resurrected from the dead. In 1 Corinthians 15:20 Paul refers to Jesus as the first fruits of the dead. He represents the first of the great harvest of souls — including you — that will resurrect to eternal life because of the new covenant in his blood (Luke 22:20).
The incomparable miraculous resurrection of our Savior was the fulfillment of the third spring feast, the Feast of Firstfruits (Leviticus 23:9-14). Our Savior is the “sheaf of the first fruits of harvest” (Leviticus 23:10) presented before the LORD, the Mighty One of the harvest. He rose as that “first fruit” — as that wave offering. As the Israelites were bringing in the spring harvest, the harvest of the LORD could not be touched until the first fruits of it were offered to Him. Jesus is “the firstfruits” of those to rise from the dead (1Corinthians 15:23) promising resurrection and eternal life to those who have come forth cleansed from sin in the Lamb’s blood. There will be a resurrection of all souls, “some to everlasting life but … others to disgrace and everlasting contempt (death)” (Daniel 12:2). Jesus, our “first fruits”, is the fulfillment of the LORD’s promise that there is hope for those who walk in His ways. When Jesus the “first fruit” rose, He appeared to Miriam (Mary Magdalene) and said, “Touch me not; for I am not yet ascended to my Father” (John 20:17). That first fruit offering could not be touched by humanity until it was waved before the Master of the harvest. Jesus was waved in the presence of the LORD declaring to all humanity that there is resurrection for all who believe. And there is resurrection for those who don’t believe. The truth will testify for and against.
4.0 SHAVUOT | FEAST OF PENTECOST
This feast is the second of the three harvest feasts. It occurs exactly seven weeks after the Feast of First Fruits, so it’s also called Pentecost which means “50 days.” Traditionally, people were expected to bring the first harvest of grain to the Lord including two leavened loaves of bread. God’s plan to save souls included more than the Jews. Through Jesus, this plan was revealed. In Matthew 9:37 Jesus tells his disciples that “the harvest is great, but the workers are few.” Then he put the plan into place: In Acts 1:4 he tells them to wait in Jerusalem for the Holy Spirit.
After resurrection Jesus presented Himself alive by many convincing proofs, appearing to His disciples and many others over a period of forty days and speaking of the things concerning the kingdom of God (Acts 1:3). Before Jesus returned to be with His Father He spoke intimately with His disciples telling them, “…behold, I am sending forth the promise of My Father upon you; but you are to stay in the city (Jerusalem) until you are clothed with power from on high” (Luke 24:29). Shavuot (Pentecost) (Leviticus 23:9, 15-21), biblically referred to as the Feast of Weeks, was fulfilled precisely on divine schedule in Jerusalem exactly fifty days after the Feast of Firstfruits. “When the day of Pentecost had come, they were all together in one place. And suddenly there came from heaven a noise like a violent rushing wind, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting. And there appeared to them tongues as of fire distributing themselves, and they rested on each one of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit was giving them utterance” (Acts 1:1-4). The LORD would have a new covenant and it would not be written on stone tablets, but it would be written on their hearts and in their minds (Jeremiah 31:33). When that fire of His presence came this time, it was to engrave it on their hearts. The Holy Spirit came and not only did He engrave it on their hearts but He gave them the power to obey and uphold His commandments and to receive His promised covenant blessings to all who walk in obedience to His teachings (Torah) and commandments.
5.0 YOM TERUAH- THE FEAST OF TRUMPETS
In a beautiful declaration God commands his people to rest. During this time all regular work is prohibited, and men and women present a food offering to God. In Leviticus 23:24 God commands his people to gather and to commemorate the decree with trumpet blasts. On the same front, the sound of a trumpet is also associated with the rapture, or the time Jesus will return for his bride (1 Corinthians 15:52). Once he returns, there will be a wedding feast of celebration. Revelation 19:9 says, “Blessed are those who are invited to the wedding feast of the Lamb”. He’s preparing us to celebrate!
The LORD is crying out in this work and through many others warning of the judgments to come. This is the summation of the Feast of Trumpets – “the blowing of trumpets”, “Cry loudly, do not hold back; Raise your voice like a trumpet (shofar), And declare to My people their transgression” (Isaiah 58:1). “… Because of your stubbornness and unrepentant heart you are storing up wrath for yourself in the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of the LORD, who will render to each person according to his deeds: to those who by perseverance in doing good seek for glory and honor and immortality, eternal life; but to those who are selfishly ambitious and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, wrath and indignation. “For the Lord Jesus Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet of God, and the dead in Messiah will rise first” (1Thessalonians 4:16). “But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father alone” (Matthew 24:36). For this reason, you also must be ready; waiting like the five wise virgins (Matthew 25)—the fear of the LORD gives wisdom leading to obedience to His Commandments and His merciful amplification of His Commandments through His Son our Savior. “For the Son of Man is coming at an hour when you do not think He will” (Matthew 24:44, Luke 12:40).
6.0 YOM KIPPUR- THE DAY OF ATONEMENT
To make “atonement” is to make restitution for wrongs committed. As a day of humility and repentance to God, it was a time for the Jews to get their hearts, consciences and lives right before him. The observance involved the sacrifice of animals as the High Priest entered the Holy of Holies. What the High Priest did there couldn’t offer more than an annual payment for their sins. However, hiding in plain sight was the promise of one who could atone for their sins permanently (Hebrews 9:12). Where is Jesus in these sacrificed animals? The bull and one of the goats was an offering of thanks, but the “scapegoat” took on their sins (Leviticus 16:10). The scapegoat was to be burdened with all the sins of Israel and sent into the wilderness. The Jewish leaders condemned Jesus, and he — burdened with the sins of all mankind — was led out of the city to be crucified: “He himself is the sacrifice that atones for our sins — and not only our sins but the sins of the world” (1 John 2:2). The necessity of the Day of Atonement was rendered void by Jesus’ death on the cross — our debt has been paid!
Yom Kippur—the day of atonement is the second of the three fall feasts (Leviticus 16 and 23:26). This shall be a permanent statute for you: in the seventh month, on the tenth day of the month, you shall humble your souls and not do any work, whether the native, or the alien who sojourns among you; for it is on this day that atonement shall be made for you to cleanse you; you will be clean from all your sins before the LORD. It is to be a sabbath of solemn rest for you, that you may humble your souls; it is a permanent statute. “So the priest who is anointed and ordained to serve as priest… shall make atonement: He shall this as a permanent also make atonement for the priests and for all the people of the assembly. Now you shall have statute, to make atonement for the sons of Israel for all their sins once every year” (Leviticus 16:29-34). Of all the millions that professed Him and of all the millions the LORD called His very own who were delivered out of Egypt because of the lamb’s blood, this did not guarantee they would enter the Promised Land. The Commandments were the only thing that separated Israel to make them separate and holy. When Moses, the mediator, was up on Mt Sinai, even after all the miracles the LORD had just done to deliver them from the Egyptians, they made an idol—a god of a golden calf. They corrupted themselves with worldly revelry and quickly turned aside from the way the LORD commanded by making a synchronistic religion of the calf and the LORD. The LORD knew how prone to evil and obstinate the people were and in His jealous and burning anger He said to Moses, “Whoever has sinned against Me, I will blot him out of My book” (Exodus 32:33). Therein is the need for the blood so that their names would not be blotted out of His book. This points to the feasts and culminates with this most important feast of the Day of Atonement by which their names would be reinstated in His book for another year by the covering of their sins in the blood, that they could go into the eternal promised land—His kingdom. This feast needs to be looked at in the light of revelation in several vital aspects. First we see Jesus as our Yom Kippur priest and as the once and for all sacrifice to die for our atonement —the covering and removal of our sins. “For it was fitting for us to have such a high priest… exalted above the heavens; who does not need daily, like those high priests, to offer up sacrifices, first for His own sins and then for the sins of the people, because this He did once for all when He offered up Himself” (Hebrews 7:26-27). In that respect He is the fulfillment of not only the Passover lamb but of the Yom Kippur atoning sacrifices. He is the covering of the blood of the sin offering and He is the scapegoat who bore on Himself all our iniquities and removes them as far as the east is from the west (Leviticus 16:15-17,21-22).
7.0 SUKKOT- THE FEAST OF TABERNACLES
Celebration always follows the Day of Atonement. The Feast of Tabernacles celebrates God’s provision and protection for the people of Israel during their 40 years wandering in the wilderness; for the seven days of the feast, people live in temporary structures like they did in the wilderness. The Lord himself was with the Israelites in the desert, in a tented temple called the tabernacle, so the feast also celebrates his presence as he tabernacles (dwells) with us. Jesus is called Emmanuel, meaning “God is with us” (Matthew 1:23). He put on a temporary tabernacle — a human body — to dwell on this earth and offer himself as a sacrifice. This feast also points to the promise that God will return and rally with his people — in the person of Jesus. And when he does, he has promised that there will be no more death and suffering, that he himself will wipe away every tear from our eyes (Revelation 21:4). His return is the final answer to the hope we’ve carried our entire lives. What a day that will be! Unlike searching for Waldo in a messy world, we can pray for God’s wisdom as we read his Word. Even with this small glimpse into these feasts, we see his intentional love for humanity has endured centuries, and he has left us clues that foreshadow the beauty that is to come. The Old Testament has many hidden truths that, in light of the New Testament, bring a richer understanding to your life in Jesus Christ.
The importance and the understanding of this concluding biblical feast is pertinent and motivational for this generation in these final days on this earth as we know it. We are witnessing many signs that point to our coming King and Messiah and His glorious Kingdom. The Holy Spirit is compelling us to be fully prepared with understanding of biblical truth in order to have all of our hope and joy removed from this perishing world and focused on the eternal King, His kingdom, and the infinite joy of being with Him together forever. The fulfillment of Tabernacles will be the fulfillment of unceasing joy because our King and Savior who dwells within His redeemed on earth will dwell with us eternally in His kingdom of righteousness. Our great High Priest Yahshua (Jesus) is making intercession for all of us to be prepared as a Bride for her Bridegroom. Ultimately the Feast of Tabernacles prophetically points to the greatest feast of rejoicing, which is the “marriage supper of the Lamb” (Revelation 19:6-9). The utmost culmination and consummation of joy will be when Jesus and His blood redeemed righteous bride are united together forever in His eternal holy presence and kingdom. Yahshua says, “If I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself, that where I am [dwelling], there you may be also” (John 14:3). Joy, joy, joy, the utmost fulfillment of Tabernacles, the Feast of Ingathering and rejoicing!
The fullness of time and the fulfillment of the Feast of Tabernacles are near. It is written, “Keep seeking the things above, where Messiah is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on earth” (Colossians 3:1-2). The Holy Spirit is leading His blood-redeemed remnant out of this world and its temporary worthless preoccupations and cheap thrills. He is directing our hearts and minds to be reprioritized and wholeheartedly focused on seeking and doing the will of God and having our hope and joy in Yahshua (Jesus) and His coming kingdom. It is written, “No eye has seen, no ear has heard, and no mind has imagined what God has prepared for those who love him” (1 Corinthians 2:9). It is the eternal Feast of Rejoicing, joy unspeakable filled with His glory!
When do they happen? God’s calendar is based on the phases of moon. Each month in a lunar calendar begins with a new moon. Pesach falls on the first full moon of spring. The first three feasts, Pesach, Unleavened Bread and First Fruits fall in March and April. The fourth one, Shavu’ot, marked the summer harvest and occurs in late May or early June. The last three feasts – Trumpets, Yom Kipper and Sukkot happens in September and October. We also see God’s clever design shown in the earthly week – six feasts of work and the last one of rest. The biblical history has described some six thousand years, and if we are to foresee the kingdom somewhere in the near future, then a logical one-thousand-year rest period is coming up.