Jesus as reflected in the Feasts of the Bible and the importance of observing these feasts as Christians
When we dig into the Bible we can see Jesus reflected in every aspect of the word for He is the living word of God. Often times as Christians we concentrate on the Gospels rather then looking into the Old Testament to find out more about Jesus. It says in John 1:1-3 “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made.” This is true of everything including the feasts in the Bible. We can read also in Luke 24:27 “And beginning at Moses and all the Prophets, He expounded to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning Himself.” Jesus taught about how he fulfilled scripture.
In Colossians 2:16-17 we see that the feasts are a shadow of the life of Christ and things to come. It states: “So let no one judge you in food or in drink, or regarding a festival or a new moon or Sabbaths, which are a shadow of things to come, but the substance is of Christ.”
The First mention of feasts goes back to Genesis 1:14 “Then God said, "Let there be lights in the firmament of the heavens to divide the day from the night; and let them be for signs and seasons, and for days and years;” When we first read this in our modern English we see no mention of feasts… it is only when we dig deeper into the original Hebrew text that we find this. The word that we have translated into “seasons” in this chapter in Hebrew is “Moed”. “Moed” means: appointed times, sacred seasons, set feasts, appointed meeting, place or time; and tent of meeting. Since all things were made through Jesus and since the Word of God is a foreshadowing of Jesus we can safely say that the feast can tell us a lot about Jesus!
There are 7 main feasts in the Bible that where calls to worship:
Pesach which is Passover
Hag HaMatzah which is the Feast of Unleavened Bread
Bikkurim which is the Feast of First fruits
Shavuot which is the Feast of Weeks which we now call Pentecost
Yom Teruah which is the Feast of Trumpet and is now call Rosh HaShanah
Yom Kippur which is the Day of Atonement
And Sukkot which is the Feast of Tabernacles
Two other feasts in the Bible that are reflections of Jesus are:
Purim which is the Feast of Esther and Hanukkah these feasts are not listed in the original feast list in Leviticus 23. They do however have some reflections on the life of Christ.
Let’s start off by reading Leviticus 23 and then I will show you how these feast have been fulfilled or will be fulfilled by Jesus. I am going to read it from the New King James version of the bible.
Le 23:1 And the Lord spoke to Moses, saying,
Le 23:2 "Speak to the children of Israel, and say to them: 'The feasts of the Lord, which you shall proclaim to be holy convocations, these are My feasts.
Le 23:3 'Six days shall work be done, but the seventh day is a Sabbath of solemn rest, a holy convocation. You shall do no work on it; it is the Sabbath of the Lord in all your dwellings.
Le 23:4 'These are the feasts of the Lord, holy convocations which you shall proclaim at their appointed times.
Le 23:5 'On the fourteenth day of the first month at twilight is the Lord's Passover.
Le 23:6 'And on the fifteenth day of the same month is the Feast of Unleavened Bread to the Lord; seven days you must eat unleavened bread.
Le 23:7 'On the first day you shall have a holy convocation; you shall do no customary work on it.
Le 23:8 'But you shall offer an offering made by fire to the Lord for seven days. The seventh day shall be a holy convocation; you shall do no customary work on it.' "
Le 23:9 And the Lord spoke to Moses, saying,
Le 23:10 "Speak to the children of Israel, and say to them: 'When you come into the land which I give to you, and reap its harvest, then you shall bring a sheaf of the firstfruits of your harvest to the priest.
Le 23:11 'He shall wave the sheaf before the Lord, to be accepted on your behalf; on the day after the Sabbath the priest shall wave it.
Le 23:12 'And you shall offer on that day, when you wave the sheaf, a male lamb of the first year, without blemish, as a burnt offering to the Lord.
Le 23:13 'Its grain offering shall be two-tenths of an ephah of fine flour mixed with oil, an offering made by fire to the Lord, for a sweet aroma; and its drink offering shall be of wine, one-fourth of a hin.
Le 23:14 'You shall eat neither bread nor parched grain nor fresh grain until the same day that you have brought an offering to your God; it shall be a statute forever throughout your generations in all your dwellings.
Le 23:15 'And you shall count for yourselves from the day after the Sabbath, from the day that you brought the sheaf of the wave offering: seven Sabbaths shall be completed.
Le 23:16 'Count fifty days to the day after the seventh Sabbath; then you shall offer a new grain offering to the Lord.
Le 23:17 'You shall bring from your dwellings two wave loaves of two-tenths of an ephah. They shall be of fine flour; they shall be baked with leaven. They are the firstfruits to the Lord.
Le 23:18 'And you shall offer with the bread seven lambs of the first year, without blemish, one young bull, and two rams. They shall be as a burnt offering to the Lord, with their grain offering and their drink offerings, an offering made by fire for a sweet aroma to the Lord.
Le 23:19 'Then you shall sacrifice one kid of the goats as a sin offering, and two male lambs of the first year as a sacrifice of a peace offering.
Le 23:20 'The priest shall wave them with the bread of the firstfruits as a wave offering before the Lord, with the two lambs. They shall be holy to the Lord for the priest.
Le 23:21 'And you shall proclaim on the same day that it is a holy convocation to you. You shall do no customary work on it. It shall be a statute forever in all your dwellings throughout your generations.
Le 23:22 'When you reap the harvest of your land, you shall not wholly reap the corners of your field when you reap, nor shall you gather any gleaning from your harvest. You shall leave them for the poor and for the stranger: I am the Lord your God.' "
Le 23:23 Then the Lord spoke to Moses, saying,
Le 23:24 "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.
Le 23:25 'You shall do no customary work on it; and you shall offer an offering made by fire to the Lord.' "
Le 23:26 And the Lord spoke to Moses, saying:
Le 23:27 "Also the tenth day of this seventh month shall be the Day of Atonement. It shall be a holy convocation for you; you shall afflict your souls, and offer an offering made by fire to the Lord.
Le 23:28 "And you shall do no work on that same day, for it is the Day of Atonement, to make atonement for you before the Lord your God.
Le 23:29 "For any person who is not afflicted in soul on that same day shall be cut off from his people.
Le 23:30 "And any person who does any work on that same day, that person I will destroy from among his people.
Le 23:31 "You shall do no manner of work; it shall be a statute forever throughout your generations in all your dwellings.
Le 23:32 "It shall be to you a sabbath of solemn rest, and you shall afflict your souls; on the ninth day of the month at evening, from evening to evening, you shall celebrate your sabbath."
Le 23:33 Then the Lord spoke to Moses, saying,
Le 23:34 "Speak to the children of Israel, saying: 'The fifteenth day of this seventh month shall be the Feast of Tabernacles for seven days to the Lord.
Le 23:35 'On the first day there shall be a holy convocation. You shall do no customary work on it.
Le 23:36 'For seven days you shall offer an offering made by fire to the Lord. On the eighth day you shall have a holy convocation, and you shall offer an offering made by fire to the Lord. It is a sacred assembly, and you shall do no customary work on it.
Le 23:37 'These are the feasts of the Lord which you shall proclaim to be holy convocations, to offer an offering made by fire to the Lord, a burnt offering and a grain offering, a sacrifice and drink offerings, everything on its day
Le 23:38 besides the Sabbaths of the Lord, besides your gifts, besides all your vows, and besides all your freewill offerings which you give to the Lord.
Le 23:39 'Also on the fifteenth day of the seventh month, when you have gathered in the fruit of the land, you shall keep the feast of the Lord for seven days; on the first day there shall be a sabbath-rest, and on the eighth day a sabbath-rest.
Le 23:40 'And you shall take for yourselves on the first day the fruit of beautiful trees, branches of palm trees, the boughs of leafy trees, and willows of the brook; and you shall rejoice before the Lord your God for seven days.
Le 23:41 'You shall keep it as a feast to the Lord for seven days in the year. It shall be a statute forever in your generations. You shall celebrate it in the seventh month.
Le 23:42 'You shall dwell in booths for seven days. All who are native Israelites shall dwell in booths,
Le 23:43 'that your generations may know that I made the children of Israel dwell in booths when I brought them out of the land of Egypt: I am the Lord your God.' "
Le 23:44 So Moses declared to the children of Israel the feasts of the Lord.
As you see in Leviticus 23 it starts out with the Sabbath as being a feast day unto the Lord. This is a whole topic in itself so I will be concentrating on the 7 feasts which follow.
The First of the 7 feast is Pesach which is the Passover. To understand how Jesus fulfilled the Passover we must first understand the Passover feast itself. The Passover began in Egypt when the Israelites where still in slavery. We find this in Exodus 12. Moses was instructed to tell the Israelites to set aside a lamb with out blemish on the 10th day of the month which was the first month of the year called Nisan. They were to keep this lamb safe until twilight on the 14th day when they came together to slaughter the animals. Then they were to place the blood of the lamb on the door posts of their homes. Lastly they were to roast and eat the animal along with unleavened bread. That evening was also the beginning of the Second feast the Feast of Unleavened bread. One thing that we must also understand is that a day for Israelites started at 6 in the evening. This is important to note as for the timing when Jesus fulfilled various aspects of the Passover. Firstly Jesus fulfilled the setting aside of the lamb by presenting himself as the Messiah in Jerusalem on the donkey 4 days before he was to have the Passover meal with his disciples. During this time he was questioned by many including Pharisees and Sadducees. This fulfilled the inspection of the lamb. We see this fulfilled in Mathew chapters 21-26. Ultimately Jesus was the Passover Lamb and died on the cross fulfilling the duty of the lamb. There are many more intricacies of the feats that Jesus fulfilled including being hung on the cross at the same time the lambs were being slaughtered for the Passover. How is this possible as he ate the Passover meal with his disciples the night before? Historically the Passover happened on the evening of the 14th Nisan which would start at 6pm. The lambs for the offering were actually sacrificed at 3pm which to us would be the 15th but to them it was still the 14th. So Jesus was able to have his Passover meal the night before he was crucified which was at the exact time the lambs were being slaughtered for the Passover. Jesus fulfilled the unleavened bread part of the feast by being without sin and breaking the bread and giving it to his disciples as his body. The bitter herbs that where to be prepared with the Lamb and the Hsyop plant that put the blood of the lamb on the door way was fulfilled in John 19:29-30 where it states: “Now a vessel full of sour wine was sitting there; and they filled a sponge with sour wine, put it on hyssop, and put it to His mouth. So when Jesus had received the sour wine, He said, "It is finished!" And bowing His head, He gave up His spirit.” Jesus then had completely fulfilled the Passover lamb sacrifice.
The Second Feast is Hag HaMatzah which is the Feast of Unleavened Bread. Biblically we find this in the Exodus story in chapter 12 where the Israelites where told to take all leavening out of their homes because if they were to eat any leavening they would be cut off from Israel. The Feast of Unleavened Bread was to be a remembrance for how the Lord took the children of Israel out of Egypt. It was to be celebrated from the 14th of Nisan to the 21st of Nisan which over lapped the Passover Feast. This feast was celebrated by removing all items containing leaven from the home and eating only unleavened bread to symbolize both the cleansing away of sinful ways and to remember the haste in which the Israelites left Egypt. In John 6:48 Jesus states "I am the bread of life. "Your fathers ate the manna in the wilderness, and are dead. "This is the bread which comes down from heaven, that one may eat of it and not die. "I am the living bread which came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever; and the bread that I shall give is My flesh, which I shall give for the life of the world." In this statement Jesus is fulfilling the feast of Unleavened bread and is offering Himself as an alternative to living a sinful life.
The Third Feast Bikkurim which is the Feast of First fruits is a reflection of the resurrection of Jesus. During this feast the Israelites made a grain offering unto the Lord on the 17th of Nisan. The 17th of Nisan was the first day that the Israelites ate of the Fruit of their new land after coming out of Egypt. Historically on this day Israelites took their first harvest along with a Lamb, fine flour, oil and wine and made a burnt offering unto the Lord. The Israelites would take the best of their harvest to offer up as a sacrifice to the Lord. God like wise offered Jesus as a living sacrifice and he was raised from the dead on the 17th of Nisan. In 1 Corinthians 15:20-23 it states "But now Christ is risen from the dead, and has become the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. For since by man came death, by Man also came the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ all shall be made alive. But each one in his own order: Christ the firstfruits, afterward those who are Christ's at His coming." Therefore Jesus resurrection is the First fruits of the resurrection that is to come when all the righteous in Christ will be resurrected at the end of times.
The 4th Feast is Shavuot which is the Feast of Weeks which we now call Pentecost. This Feast is 50 days from the day after the Sabbath of Feast of First Fruits. The 50 days is where we get the name Pentecost from the Greek Translation. We know that the Holy Spirit came down on the disciples and others on the day of Pentecost. But how did Jesus fulfill this feast? The Feast of Weeks was originally set up to honor the day that the Lord gave Moses the ten commandments. It was also the grain harvest feast. We can read in Exodus 24:18 that when Moses was on Mount Sinai receiving the 10 commandments he was there for 40 days and forty nights. This was fulfilled by Jesus because after being resurrected he was on the earth 40 days before he ascended. We see in Exodus 32 after Moses came down from Mt Sinai the people where worshiping a golden calf. On that day 3000 men where slain by the Levites because of the sins of the people. On the day of Pentecost when the Holy Spirit came down 3000 Jews from all nations came to the salvation knowledge of the Lord and were baptized. Therefore we can see that after even after Jesus ascension he was still fulfilling this feast by redeeming back the 3000.
The Fifth Feast is Yom Teruah which is the Feast of Trumpets and is now call Rosh HaShanah. This Feast has yet to be fulfilled but it is said that it will be fulfilled on the Second coming of Jesus. What was the Feast of Trumpets? Like it’s name states it is a memorial to the sound of the trumpets. It is believed that this is representative of the voice of God that spoke on Mt Sinai in the sounds of trumpets. We can find this in Exodus 20:18 where it states “Now all the people witnessed the thunderings, the lightning flashes, the sound of the trumpet, and the mountain smoking; and when the people saw it, they trembled and stood afar off.” In Jewish tradition this is also said to be the remembrance of God speaking the world into existence. The Feast of trumpet is celebrated in the 7th month Tishri on the new moon. It was a feast that lasted 48 hours. The reason for this was because when the trumpets were sounded in Jerusalem to sound the beginning of the Feast it took awhile for all the communities outside of Jerusalem to hear the trumpets sound. Once the trumpet was sounded all work ceased and a Sabbath rest began. This was also a signal for the Israelites to begin their 10 days of repentance before the day of atonement. We know that Jesus we come back with the sound of a trumpet thus fulfilling this feast. This is found in 1Thessalonians 4:16-17 which states “For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven, with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first; then we that are alive, that are left, shall together with them be caught up in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord.” Two interesting reference to this feast are found in Matthew 24 and Matthew 25. Matthew 24:42 states “Watch therefore: for ye know not on what day your Lord cometh.” And Matthew 25:13 states “Watch therefore, for ye know not the day nor the hour.” We know this is a reference to the Lord coming back in the Feast of trumpets because the Israelites living outside of Jerusalem did not know the day or hour that this feast would come because it depended on when the trumpets were sounded from town to town.
The sixth feast is Yom Kippur which is the Day of Atonement. This feast was 10 days after the feast of Trumpet. As we read in Leviticus 23 the Day of Atonement was a day of soul searching and repentance for the Israelites. On this day they were to make sure that they had atoned for all their sins that year. If they were not repentant and did not atone for their sins or if they worked on this day they would be cast away and destroyed. For us as Christians this is fulfilled when Jesus died for the sins of all on the cross. But most theologians believe that this feast will be fulfilled completely in the second coming of Jesus when the Jewish people come to know Jesus as their messiah. This theory is supported by what it says in Zechariah 12:10 which states "And I will pour on the house of David and on the inhabitants of Jerusalem the Spirit of grace and supplication; then they will look on Me whom they pierced. Yes, they will mourn for Him as one mourns for his only son, and grieve for Him as one grieves for a firstborn.” During Yom Kippur the Israelites would literally grieve because of their sins.
The seventh feast is Sukkot which is the Feast of Tabernacles. The Feast of Tabernacles is a 7 day feast in which the Israelites where to make a pilgrimage to Jerusalem and dwell in little Tents called sukkot. This was the fall harvest feast where the Israelites brought their offerings to the Lord. During the feast of Tabernacles the Israelites would create booths made of branches to celebrate the harvest of fruits. This was to be a time of rejoicing before the Lord in which the only thing they could do in these 7 days was to give offerings to the Lord and prepare food. The theory that Jesus has fulfilled this feast is based on the timing of Jesus birth…which is said to be around September not in December when it is celebrated. The other theory is that this feast will be fulfilled by the millennial reign of Jesus thus fulfilling what it says in Micah 4:1-7 which states “Now it shall come to pass in the latter days That the mountain of the Lord's house Shall be established on the top of the mountains, And shall be exalted above the hills; And peoples shall flow to it. Many nations shall come and say, "Come, and let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, To the house of the God of Jacob; He will teach us His ways, And we shall walk in His paths." For out of Zion the law shall go forth, And the word of the Lord from Jerusalem. He shall judge between many peoples, And rebuke strong nations afar off; They shall beat their swords into plowshares, And their spears into pruning hooks; Nation shall not lift up sword against nation, Neither shall they learn war any more. But everyone shall sit under his vine and under his fig tree, And no one shall make them afraid; For the mouth of the Lord of hosts has spoken. For all people walk each in the name of his god, But we will walk in the name of the Lord our God Forever and ever. "In that day," says the Lord, "I will assemble the lame, I will gather the outcast And those whom I have afflicted; I will make the lame a remnant, And the outcast a strong nation; So the Lord will reign over them in Mount Zion From now on, even forever.” What I find interesting about this theory is what it says in verse 4 about everyone sitting under His vine and fig tree. Since the Israelites made booths and decorated them with vines, branches and fruits we can deduct that this is a definite reference to the Feast of Tabernacles. Also Since this is prophecy about the second coming of Jesus we can say that this will completely fulfill the Feast of Tabernacles.
The Last thing I would like to talk about is why we should be celebrating these feasts even today as a celebration of Jesus and as a hope for things to come. When we read about the feasts in Leviticus 23 it states 4 times that the feasts are to be lasting ordinances for all generations. If God had not wanted the feasts to be forever He would not have written that they are for all generations. There are 3 main arguments for not celebrating the feasts in churches today. Firstly some people believe that since we are not of Jewish heritage that the feasts are not for us. Though this may be true that we are not of Jewish heritage it is not entirely accurate for as Christians we are grafted into the Jewish family. God in His great mercy made it so that the gift of forgiveness given through the cross of Jesus would be for all mankind. It states in Romans 11 that we are wild olive branches grafted into an established olive tree which represents the Jewish faith. So to understand fully the depth of God’s love and mercy we have to look to the olive tree and dig deeply in God’s word.
Others use Colossians 2:20-23 and Galatians 3:13 as there justification for not following the schedule of the feasts. It states "Therefore, if you died with Christ from the basic principles of the world, why, as though living in the world, do you subject yourselves to regulations "Do not touch, do not taste, do not handle," which all concern things which perish with the using-according to the commandments and doctrines of men? These things indeed have an appearance of wisdom in self-imposed religion, false humility, and neglect of the body, but are of no value against the indulgence of the flesh.” Galatians 3:13 states “Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the law, having become a curse for us (for it is written, "Cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree"),” Praise God that Jesus has taken the curse of the Law and nailed it to the cross with Him and freed us from the laws of man, but does this mean we are not to follow God’s laws and ordnances? Well if we look closely it says that Jesus took the “curse of the Law” on the cross with him. The curse was the punishment that came when a Jewish person broke the law of the Lord. We see this clearly in Deuteronomy 27and 28 where it list curses that go with the breaking of the Law. Deuteronomy 28:15 states "But it shall come to pass, if you do not obey the voice of the Lord your God, to observe carefully all His commandments and His statutes which I command you today, that all these curses will come upon you and overtake you:" It does not say that Jesus abolished the law only that He took the curses and punishments on the cross.
The last big argument for not celebrating the feasts is that Jesus fulfilled them by being the ultimate sacrifice so how would we celebrate if there is no sacrifice to be made. John 1:29 states “The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, "Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!" Jesus is the Lamb of God. He was the sacrifice to end all sacrifices! It is true that many of the feasts require a sacrifice and we as Christians know that there are no more blood sacrifices to be made because Jesus fulfilled this part of the feasts. But as we have seen in the descriptions of the feasts and how Jesus has fulfilled them or how he will fulfill them in the second coming there is much more to a feast then just that sacrifice. Feasts are times to remember what the Lord has done in our lives. They are times to give thanks to the Lord for his blessings and provisions and they can be a time to remember what Jesus has done for us. Also the feasts are a time to give back to the Lord and to gather together as a body of believers. By celebrating what Jesus has done for us by remembering the feast we can bolster our faith and enrich our lives.
Many people ask, “Where feast celebrated by Christians after the death and resurrection of Jesus?” The answer to this is a resounding “Yes!” In fact we can see this clearly in the life of the apostle Paul when he returns to Jerusalem for the Feast in Acts 18:20-21 which states "When they asked him to stay a longer time with them, he did not consent, but took leave of them, saying, "I must by all means keep this coming feast in Jerusalem; but I will return again to you, God willing." And he sailed from Ephesus.” There are two versions of this verse, and in many versions they simply leave out and do not translate the part where it says that Paul must keep the feast. This could be for 2 reasons, firstly because it may be a historical comment added on or secondly because the translation for this part of scripture may not be completely known.
In Acts 20:16 we read “For Paul had determined to sail past Ephesus, that he might not have to spend time in Asia; for he was hastening, if it were possible for him, to be at Jerusalem the day of Pentecost."
Paul also writes to the Corinthians about the Feast of Unleavened Bread in
1 Corinthians 5:7-8 "Therefore purge out the old leaven, that you may be a new lump, since you truly are unleavened. For indeed Christ, our Passover, was sacrificed for us. Therefore let us keep the feast, not with old leaven, nor with the leaven of malice and wickedness, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.”
Jesus himself makes a clear reference to the continuation of the Feasts in Luke 22:14-16 which states “When the hour had come, He sat down, and the twelve apostles with Him. Then He said to them, "With fervent desire I have desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer; "for I say to you, I will no longer eat of it until it is fulfilled in the kingdom of God." The key statement here is that the will not eat the feast of Passover with the again “Until” it is fulfilled in the kingdom of God. For us this means there will be the celebration of the Feast of Passover after Jesus has returned.
The Feast of Weeks was also being observed by the disciples and other believers we see this clearly in Pentecost. But the best example of feast being celebrated after Jesus had ascended is still yet to come. It will happen in the millennial reign of Jesus. We can find this in the writings of the prophet Zechariah. In fact we can see in Zechariah 14:16-17 that it will be a requirement for all nations to keep the Feast of Tabernacles after the second coming of Jesus. Zechariah 14:16-17 states "And it shall come to pass that everyone who is left of all the nations which came against Jerusalem shall go up from year to year to worship the King, the Lord of hosts, and to keep the Feast of Tabernacles. And it shall be that whichever of the families of the earth do not come up to Jerusalem to worship the King, the Lord of hosts, on them there will be no rain."
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