The significance of the Old Testament Feasts

Posted: November 9, 2015 in Christian Living, Uncategorized
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Some believe that Christians are not required to observe the feast days because they believe that they were given only to the Jews. And since Jesus fulfilled the Law when he was crucified and rose from the dead, Christian’s today no longer have an obligation to observe the feasts.

The Hebrew word for “feasts” (moadim) literally means “appointed times.” God has carefully planned and orchestrated the timing and sequence of each of the seven feasts to reveal to us a special story. The seven annual feasts of the Lord were spread over seven months of the Jewish calendar, at set times appointed by God.

Although they are still celebrated by observant Jews today, both Jews and non-Jews who have placed their faith in Jesus, our Messiah, demonstrate the work of redemption through God’s Son by observing these special days.

“The feasts of the Lord, which you shall proclaim to be holy convocations, these are My feasts.” (Leviticus 23:2) Did you notice that God did NOT say to the Jews, “These are YOUR feasts.” He said, “These are MY feasts.”

Yet for most of traditional Christianity, these “feasts of the Lord” are thought to have been kept only by the Jews and are deemed meaningless for Christians. To make things worse, the apostate church of Rome has substituted God’s appointed feasts with pagan based holidays—And Christians all over the world have been led to believe that they are celebrating religious holidays that supposedly center on Jesus Christ!

Did Jesus fulfill ALL the feasts?

The first four of the seven feasts occur during the springtime (Passover, Unleavened Bread, First Fruits, and Weeks), and they all have already been fulfilled by Christ in the New Testament.

But the final three holidays (Trumpets, the Day of Atonement, and Tabernacles) occur during the fall, all within a short fifteen-day period.

Many Bible scholars and commentators believe that these fall feasts have not yet been fulfilled by Jesus. However, the “blessed hope” (Titus 2:13)

for all true believers in Jesus Christ is that they most assuredly WILL BE fulfilled in the future.

As the four spring feasts were fulfilled literally and right on the actual feast day in connection with Christ’s first coming, I believe that these three fall feasts will likewise be fulfilled literally in connection to the Lord’s second coming.

Why is it important to observe God’s feasts today? In a nutshell, there is prophetic significance of each of the seven Levitical feasts of the Lord:

Passover (Leviticus 23:5)

In the New Testament, the Gospels record that Christ kept the Passover with His disciples several times. On the night before His death, Jesus knew he was fulfilling the symbolism of the Passover lamb by voluntarily giving his life for the sins of the entire world.

Passover points to the Messiah as our Passover lamb whose blood would be shed for our sins. Jesus was crucified on the day of preparation for the Passover at the same hour that the lambs were being slaughtered for the Passover meal that evening. (John 19:14)

“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.’” (Luke 22:14-16)

Jesus then instituted the new symbols that represented not the sacrifice of a lamb, but his far greater sacrifice. The Passover symbols would now represent Christ’s complete sacrifice—the unleavened bread representing his sinless body that was beaten for us, and the wine, signifying the lifeblood he would shed to wash away our sins.

From then on, this feast took on a much greater new meaning to the Church. Instead of being abolished, this feast now revealed its true, ultimate meaning. The disciples now realized that the Passover lamb was only a physical forerunner of that perfect sacrifice which was Jesus Christ. And now they would keep this feast with far greater significance and comprehension.

The apostle Paul understood this ancient feast of the Passover had now revealed its true meaning with Christ’s sacrifice. It was part of God’s plan for all of mankind that Jesus would come and sacrifice himself for the sins of the world—and Passover was a prophetic symbol it. So, instead of being obsolete, the Passover was revealed to have a vastly important meaning—Not only for Jews, but also for Christians, with Jesus Christ being at its very center.

The apostle Paul explained this new understanding of the Passover to the Corinthian Church when he instructed them on how to observe it:

“For I received from the Lord that which I also delivered to you: that the Lord Jesus on the same night in which He was betrayed took bread; and when He had given thanks, He broke it and said, ‘Take, eat; this is My body which is broken for you; do this in remembrance of Me.’ “In the same manner He also took the cup after supper, saying, ‘This cup is the new covenant in My blood. This do, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of Me.’ For as often as you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death till He comes” (1 Corinthians 11:23-26)

So in the New Testament, the Passover becomes an annual reminder and symbol of Christ’s sacrifice for all of us.

Unleavened Bread (Leviticus 23:6)

The Feast of Unleavened Bread coincided with Passover and reminds us to rid ourselves of all leaven, symbolic of the sin in our lives. because leaven is a picture of sin in the Bible it also points to the Messiah’s sinless life, making him the perfect sacrifice for our sins. Jesus’ body was in the grave during the first days of this feast, like a kernel of wheat planted and waiting to burst forth as the bread of life. (John 12:24)

First Fruits (Leviticus 23:10)

The Feast of First Fruits was a celebration to thank God for the harvest that He provided. It also points to the Messiah’s resurrection as the first fruits of the righteous. Jesus was resurrected on this very day, which is one of the reasons that Paul refers to him in 1 Corinthians 15:20 as the “first fruits from the dead.”

Feast of Weeks or Pentecost (Leviticus 23:16

Although celebrated by some as the day that God sent down his Holy Spirit to His people, Pentecost was commanded by God as harvest celebration and an obligation to give God our first fruits. The Israelites were also commanded to leave part of their harvest for the poor. (v.22)

Pentecost occurs fifty days after the beginning of the Feast of Unleavened Bread and points to the great harvest of souls for both Jew and Gentile, who would be brought into the kingdom of God during the Church Age. In Acts 2 Peter was merely obeying what God said  in Leviticus 23: 21: “And you shall make a proclamation on the same day. You shall hold a holy convocation.” That is exactly was Peter and the disciples did when the early Church was established and God poured out His Holy Spirit on a crowd of 3,000 Jews, gentiles and proselytes of many nations who gathered there and responded to Peter’s great sermon and his first proclamation of the gospel!

Feast of Trumpets (Leviticus 23:24)

The Feast of Trumpets is the first of the fall feasts—A memorial proclaimed with blast of trumpets, a holy convocation. Much like the prayer and praise gatherings we have in churches. I believe this points to the day when Jesus our Messiah will appear in the heavens as He comes for all true believers—both Jew and Gentile.

Many Christians associate this with the Rapture because of the mentioning of blowing of a loud trumpet in 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18. But if you read 1 Corinthians 15:52, you will find that Jesus will not come for us until AFTER the last trumpet is sounded. So what happens BEFORE the last of the seven trumpets are sounded? (See Revelation 8) The word “trumpet” is used throughout the Bible to describe what is called a shofar—A ram’s horn that is used for two specific purposes:

1: To assemble the people for worship.

2: To assemble the people for war.

At any rate, this should encourage true believers and warn the apostate and worldly of the judgment and wrath to come.

Day of Atonement (Leviticus 23:27

The purpose for The Day of Atonement is a day of repentance.  We are to “afflict our souls” by repentance, contrition, and humiliation for sin, and our bodies by fasting. I believe this prophetically points to the day of the Second Coming of Jesus when he will return to rule on earth. That will be the Day of Atonement for the Jewish remnant when they “look upon Him whom they have pierced,” repent of their sins, and receive him as their Messiah. (Zechariah 12:10 and Romans 11:1-6, 25-36)

Feast of Tabernacles or Booths (Leviticus 23:34)

During the Feast of Tabernacles we are told to live in temporary shelters (or booths) for seven days: “All native-born Israelites are to live in such shelters so your descendants will know that I had the Israelites live in temporary shelters when I brought them out of Egypt. I am the Lord your God.” (v. 42-43) The shelter or booth of The Feast of Tabernacles is called a sukkah. These shelters consist of at least three walls and are framed with wood and canvas. The roof or covering is made from cut branches and leaves, placed loosely atop, leaving an open space for the stars to be viewed so that we remember the promise that God made to Abraham, that his descendants would be more numerous than the stars in the sky. (Genesis 15:5; 26:3-5)

I believe that this feast day also points to the Lord’s promise that He will once again “tabernacle” with His people when he returns to reign over all the world. (Micah 4:1-7)

In Zechariah 14:16-19 we read that “everyone who survives of all the nations that have come against Jerusalem shall go up year after year to worship the King, the Lord of hosts, and to keep the Feast of Booths.” and “there shall be the plague with which the Lord afflicts the nations that do not go up to keep the Feast of Booths.” Why would Jesus punish someone who refuses to celebrate something that we are not required to observe?

The apostle Paul clearly understood that these biblical feasts were harbingers of what was to come in God’s master plan of salvation. In a passage frequently misunderstood by many, Paul warned the brethren not to be intimidated by some who were questioning their manner of keeping God’s feasts, as well as the Sabbaths, new moons, and eating and drinking. He said, “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.” (Colossians 2:16-18)

Paul was not saying that we were no longer required to keep God’s feasts, as some believe. He was combating a group of people who were introducing several strange doctrines, including worshiping angels, (verse 18) and abstaining from wholesome food and drink. (verse 21)

He told the brethren to ignore them and continue observing what he had taught (And Paul certainly taught keeping the Passover and other feasts, as we can see in the New Testament) Regrettably, the Colossians were starting to shy away from observing these feasts. So Paul mentions how important they are, as foreshadowing coming events in God’s plan for mankind.

Now you have a choice to make

As we approach the season of Christmas, I am reminded of when I spent nearly an hour sharing Scripture with a friend of mine of how December 25th could not possibly be Jesus’ birthday, and explaining how traditions of Christmas, ( mistletoe, Christmas wreaths, singing carols and even Christmas trees) are all steeped in pagan worship. But after I finished, she said, “I know that of what you said is true, but we’ve always celebrated Christmas this way and I won’t be changing anything.” I thought to myself, “You just went from ignorance to rebellion.” And as far as I know, she remained true to her word.

Observing God’s commandments and keeping His feasts have nothing to do with salvation. But Jesus said, “If you love me you will keep my commandments.” (John 14:15) We now have a choice. We can show that we love Jesus by obeying God’s commandments, or we can cast aside God’s will for us and join the pagan celebrations of the world.

You see, I don’t obey God’s commandments so that God will love me more, or because I’m afraid He won’t love me if I don’t—I keep God’s commandments BECAUSE I love Him.

Drew Carey’s amusing rant on the origins of the Christian holidays

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