SIGNIFICANCE OF JEWISH FESTIVALS
The Passover is a reminder of our redemption from sin. It was the time when Jesus Christ, the Lamb of God, was offered as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. It is on that basis alone that God can justify the sinner. Just as the blood of a lamb sprinkled on the doorpost of Jewish homes caused the death angel to pass over those homes during the last plague on Egypt in Exodus 12, so those covered by the blood of the Lamb will escape the spiritual death and judgment God will visit upon all who reject Him. Of all the festivals, Passover is of the greatest importance. The Lord’s Supper was a Passover meal according to Matthew 26:17-27. In passing the elements and telling the disciples to eat of His body, Jesus was presenting Himself as the ultimate Passover Lamb.
Feast of Unleavened Bread
The Feast of Unleavened Bread followed immediately after Passover and lasted one week, during which time the Israelites ate no bread with yeast in remembrance of their haste in preparing for their exodus from Egypt. In the New Testament, yeast is often associated with evil as in I Corinthians 5:6-8 and Galatians 5:9. And just as Israel was to remove yeast from their bread, so Christians are to purge evil from their lives and live a new life of godliness and righteousness by the power of His indwelling presence. Christ as our Passover Lamb cleanses us from sin and evil, and by the power of the Holy Spirit, we are freed from sin to leave our old lives behind, just as the Israelites did.”
Feast of First Fruits
The Feast of First Fruits took place at the beginning of the harvest and signified Israel’s gratitude to and dependence upon God. According to Leviticus 23:9-14, an Israelite would bring a sheaf of the first grain of the harvest to the priest, who would wave it before the Lord as an offering.
Deuteronomy 26:1-11 states that when the Israelites brought the first fruits of their harvest before the priest, they were to acknowledge that God had delivered them from Egypt and had given them the Promised Land. This reminds us of Christ’s resurrection as He was the “first fruits of those who have fallen asleep” according to I Corinthians 15:20. Just as Christ was the first to rise from the dead and receive a glorified body, so shall all those who are born again also follow Him, being resurrected to inherit an “incorruptible body” as recorded in I Corinthians 15:35-49.
Feast of Weeks
The Feast of Weeks (Pentecost) occurred 50 days (pentekoste fiftieth) after the First Fruits Festival and celebrated the end of the grain harvest. This feast reminds us of the fulfilment of Jesus’ promise to send “another helper” as recorded in John 14:16 who would indwell believers and empower them for ministry. According to Ephesians 1:13-14, the coming of the Holy Spirit 50 days after Jesus’ resurrection was the guarantee that the promise of salvation and future resurrection will come to pass. The indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit in every born again believer is what seals us in Christ and bears witness with our spirit that we are indeed “joint heirs with Christ” according to Romans 8:16-17.
After the spring feasts conclude with the Feast of Weeks, there is a period of time before the Fall Feasts begin. This time is spiritually symbolic of the “church age” in which we live today. Christ’s sacrifice and resurrection are past. We have received the promised Holy Spirit. And now we await His second coming. Just as the Spring Feasts pointed towards the Messiah’s ministry at His first coming, the Fall Feasts point toward what will happen at His second coming.
Feast of Trumpets
The Feast of Trumpets was commanded to be held on the first day of the seventh month and was to be a “day of trumpet blast” according to Number 29:1. It was to commemorate the end of the agricultural and festival year. The trumpet blasts were meant to signal to Israel that they were entering a sacred season. The agricultural year was coming to a close; there was to be a reckoning with the sins of the people on the Day of Atonement. The Feast of Trumpets signifies Christ’s Second Coming.
We see trumpets associated with the Second Coming as found in such passages as I Thessalonians 4:16 , “For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first.” The sounding of the trumpet also indicates the pouring out of God’s wrath on the earth as well. Certainly the Feast of Trumpets points towards the coming Day of the Lord.
Day of Atonement
The Day of Atonement occurs just ten days after the Feast of Trumpets. The Day of Atonement was the day the High Priest went into the Holy of Holies each year to make an offering for the sins of Israel. This feast is symbolic of the time when God will again turn His attention back to the nation of Israel after “the fullness of the Gentiles has come in and all Israel will be saved,” according to Romans 11:25-27, “For I would not, brethren, that ye should be ignorant of this mystery, lest ye should be wise in your own conceits; that blindness in part is happened to Israel, until the fullness of the Gentiles be come in. And so all Israel shall be saved: as it is written, There shall come out of Zion the Deliverer, and shall turn away ungodliness from Jacob: For this is my covenant unto them, when I shall take away their sins.”
Feast of Tabernacles (Booths)
The Feast of Tabernacles is the seventh and final Feast of the Lord and took place five days after the Day of Atonement. For seven days, the Israelites presented offerings to the Lord, during which time they lived in booths made from palm branches. Living in the booths recalled the sojourn of the Israelites prior to their taking the land of Canaan as recorded in Leviticus 23:43. This feast signifies the future time when Christ rules and reigns on earth. For the rest of eternity, people from every tribe, tongue and nation will “tabernacle” or dwell with Christ in the New Jerusalem according to Revelation 21:9-27.
While the four Spring Feasts look back at what Christ accomplished at His First Coming, the three Fall Feasts point us toward the glory of His Second Coming. The first is the source of our hope in Christ and His finished work of atonement for sins. And the second is the promise of what is to come and our spending eternity with Christ. Knowing the significance of these God appointed times helps us to better see and understand the complete picture and plan of redemption found in Scripture.
|© 2013 New Testament Church|