Friday, April 10, 2009

The Seven Feasts of the Lord

In preparation for a class I will teach this week-end for Vision International School of Ministry I learned about the 7 feasts of the Lord introduced in Leviticus 23. They are as follows:

  • The Feast of Passover: 14th of Nisan (first month of the sacred calendar)

  • The Feast of Unleavened Bread: 15th-21st of Nisan

  • The Feast of the Sheaf of First-fruits: 18th of Nisan

  • The Feast of Weeks (Pentecost): (50 days after the waving of the Sheaf of first-fruits)

  • The Feast of The Day of Blowing Trumpets: 1st day of Tisri (7th month of sacred year)

  • The Feast day of Atonement: 10th day of Tisri (actually a fasting day)

  • The Feast of Tabernacles (Booths): 15-21 day of Tisri

These feasts were arranged in groupings together so that the first three feasts were celebrated together for about 8 days in the spring (around March), and related to the barley harvest. The fourth feast happened almost two months later in the third month of the religious calendar(June), at the time of the wheat harvest. The third set of feasts happened in the fall (October) and were celebrated together as a group starting on the first day of Tisri which was the Jewish new year when trumpets were blown to announce preparation for the day of Atonement which would happen 10 days later. Then on the 15th-21st, they celebrated a week of celebration for the fall harvest of fruits and olive oil, and built booths on their houses or in their courtyards to live in for 7 days. This was a reminder of their 40 years of wandering in the wilderness and thanksgiving for the blessings of early and latter rains and the bounty of harvest.

The spiritual significance of all this is that all 7 feasts point to Jesus. They are the types or foreshadowings of what was to come when Messiah would appear. Jesus fulfilled all 4 of the spring feasts in his life, death, burial, and resurrection, and the birth of the church. The fall feasts give us a prophetic hint of what Jesus will do in his second coming. The spring feasts point fo Jesus' sacrifice for sin. Remember John the Baptist calling Jesus "the lamb of God that takes away the sins of the world." here is what we see:

Jesus arrives in Jerusalem on the 10th of Nisan (Sunday)-the same day a passover lamb is set aside by a family to be killed 4 days later on the 14th.

Jesus is arrested, tried and crucified on the Galilean day of Passover (14th), therefore, he is on the cross at the time lambs are being sacrificed in the temple before the Judaean Passover. (See John McArthur's intro to the gospel of John (interpretive challenges) in the McArthur study Bible for more information on this)

Jesus resurrects on the 18th of Nisan which is the feast of the waving of the sheaf of first-fruits. See Romans 8:28, I Cor. 15:20,23, Col. 1:18 for the New Testament significance of Jesus as the first-fruits of the resurrected ones.

Pentecost, which was originally a celebration of the giving of the Law at Sinai, is fulfilled at the New Testament Pentecost recorded in Acts 2 when the Holy Spirit came and wrote God's laws on men's hearts and 3,000 were saved at the birth of the church. The original celebration involved waving two leavened loaves of bread before the Lord. This signifies the joining together of Jews and Gentiles in the church (two groups united by the Spirit in the church.)

Following what we have already seen of the feasts, we may assume that the fall feasts are prophetic in nature and point to events surrounding the second coming of the Christ. The feast of trumpets is an announcement to the church to prepare for the coming of the Lord. Some even assume that these trumpets are the Rapture trumpets calling the church to come up and away before the time of tribulation.

The Day of atonement has a double fulfillment, the first of which was accomplished by Christ on the Cross who fulfilled two roles as that of High Priest going inside the curtain to offer the atoning sacrifice, and as the sacrifice himself. Jesus represents the sacrifice to the Lord and also the sacrifice taken outside the camp as a scape-goat. Naturally, this did not happen in the fall of the year at Jesus' first coming, but there could be something meaningful happening at this time in Jesus' second coming. The day of atonement is also the day that the temple is cleaned and we saw Jesus cleansing the temple twice during his short ministry on earth in his first appearing.

The final feast, of tabernacles, originally celebrated the completion of harvest, and was a time of great joy. Some see Jesus fulfilling this feast by returning to earth to tabernacle with men and begin his Millennial reign on earth.

The point is that Jesus is tied in with all 7 feasts. When God originally commanded that these feasts be kept by the people of faith, He knew that Jesus would fulfill them all. And we see strong evidence of the same thing from the fact that the first four feasts have been fulfilled by Jesus in his first earthly coming. We look forward to the time when Jesus will fulfill the three fall festivals as well. We can echo the final words of Revelation, "Even so, Come Lord Jesus!"


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