Did you know that there are feast days mentioned in the Bible? While these feast days are not as well known in many Western societies as Christmas, Easter, they were known and understood by the Church until around 325 A.D. It’s important to note that today we use the Gregorian calendar, but the Jewish people use what is called the Hebrew calendar, which has specific feast days based on biblical statutes, or customs from God.
There are seven major feasts mentioned in the Book of Leviticus and they are referred to as God’s feasts, not Jewish feasts. Four of these feasts occur during the Spring season, also known as the early rain feasts, and the last three occur in the Fall/Autumn season, also called the latter rain feasts. They are:
- The Feast of Passover/Pesach
- The Feast of Unleavened Bread
- The Feast of First Fruits
- The Feast of Pentecost/Shavuot/Weeks
- Feast of Trumpets/Rosh Hashanah
- Feast of Atonement/Yom Kippur
- Feast of Tabernacles/Sukkot
“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.”Leviticus 23:2
Multiple times throughout this chapter, it’s mentioned that these feasts are to be statutes or customs that are kept forever. This shows they were not just for Moses and the Hebrew people of that time, as God does not change (Mal 3:6).
The word for feast in Hebrew is the word moed and it means: an appointed time or place. It can signify an appointed meeting time in general (Gen 18:14; Exo 13:10); a specific appointed time, usually for a sacred feast or festival (1)
These feasts were appointed times, set by God for His people, to observe and celebrate. The word ‘convocation’ means a public meeting, but it also speaks of a rehearsal (2).
Now, a rehearsal according to Merriam Webster’s dictionary, can mean something recounted or told again; RECITAL. So it can speak of an event being narrated and told as a story; a private performance or practice session preparatory to a public appearance.
This is interesting as the Apostle Paul mentions that the festivals, new moons, sabbaths are all a shadow of the good things to come:
“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.”Colossians 2:16-17
This means that the feasts, or the festivals, are not only given to God’s people to remember events that took place with people in history, but they are to point to something that is coming. So, if a feast is a holy convocation or a rehearsal, it must mean these feast days that are being celebrated and observed are really to prepare and point people to something that is coming.
We are going to look at the first four of these major feasts, the Spring Feasts, and see how it has everything to do with not only Messiah, Jesus, but with His Church today.
- The Feast of Passover (Pesach)
This feast day is probably the most well-known throughout the world in comparison to the other six feast days as it has everything to do with the death of Jesus. Passover in the natural has to do with the last plague God sent to Egypt to set the people free from bondage. God commanded the people to slaughter a lamb and put the blood [of the lamb] over the doorposts of their house so when the death angel came, all who had the blood over their doorposts, would be spared the death of their firstborn. Those who didn’t have the blood over the doorpost, their firstborn sons would be killed (ref Exodus 12).
Jump to the New Testament, John the Baptist refers to Jesus as the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world (ref John 1:29), while Paul called Christ our Passover (ref 1 Co 5:7). John’s epistle states that God is light and in Him there is no darkness, if we walk in the light as He is in the light, that the blood of Jesus cleanses us from all sin (1Jn 1:5).
Light, in the Greek, is the word phos and it metaphorically speaks of truth and knowledge (2); thus showing that walking in the light, and having the blood of Jesus cleanse us from all sin, really has to do with having truth and knowledge. This comes from having a right interpretation of Scripture and understanding what God is really saying; then we can manifest His will and divine plan and purpose in our lives.
- The Feast of Unleavened Bread
This feast day occurs around the same time as the Feast of Passover. God commanded the people to keep this feast in which they would eat bread without leaven for seven days to commemorate their deliverance from Egypt (ref Exo 23:15)
There is a symbolic meaning surrounding bread mentioned in the New Testament as Jesus told his disciples to beware of the leaven of the Pharisees. He was not speaking about physical leavened bread, but was speaking about not taking in the doctrine (teachings) of the Pharisees (ref Mat 16:5-12).
The Apostle Paul told the Church of Corinth to purge out the old leaven and not keep the leaven of malice and wickedness, but the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth (ref 1 Co 5:7-8). Jesus referred to Himself as the Bread of Life (Jn 6:48). It is the teachings of Jesus that we want to consume, the doctrine He taught His disciples.
To keep the Feast of Unleavened Bread is to learn the teachings of Jesus, and consume the Word of God with right understanding.
- The Feast of First Fruits
Three days after the beginning of Passover begins the Feast of First Fruits. This feast day was when the sheaf of the first fruits of the harvest was offered to the priests to wave before the Lord. The first fruit of the crop is a picture of what the rest of the crop is supposed to look like. What’s interesting is that Jesus died during the Feast of Passover and was resurrected three days later, on the Feast of First Fruits.
The Bible mentions Jesus being firstfruits of the resurrected:
“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.”1 Corinthians 15:20-23
Jesus is the pattern for us to follow. Paul mentions that if we are united with Christ in the likeness of His death, then we will also be in the likeness of His resurrection, however this comes through crucifying our old man or our old nature (Rom 6:5-7), so that we are no longer slaves to sin, but are righteous (Rom 6:15-23).
- The Feast of Pentecost
This is another feast well known by Christains, the Feast of Pentecost, also known as Shavuot or the Feast of Weeks. It occurs fifty days after Passover and marks the end of the grain harvest.
Pentecost also commemorates when Moses received the Law of Mount Sinai (ref Exo 12:2; Exo 12:19).
When we look to the New Testament, the Feast of Pentecost was the day the Church was birthed, when the disciples were all gathered together in the upper room and in one accord (ref Acts 2). Just like Moses, who went up into the fire on Mount Sinai, the Church was baptized in cloven tongues as of fire and received the Holy Spirit, whom Jesus said would guide them into all truth (ref John 16:13 ) and whom Paul said reveals the deep things of God (ref 1 Co 2:6-11).
Looking at these four feasts, we can see they have both a natural and a spiritual, or deeper meaning. Paul himself said that the Law is a shadow of the good things to come (Heb 10:1). God’s intention was never for us to just see the feast days as only historical events and traditions; they were meant to be seen and understood as a rehearsal meant to prepare us for a future event. He wants us to have ‘eyes to see’ that they [the feasts] all point to what Jesus came to do and what He wants to do in the Church today.
“The secret things belong to the LORD our God, but those things which are revealed belong to us and to our children forever, that we may do all the words of this law.”Deuteronomy 29:29
- Feast: Strong’s Number: H4150 word study dictionary
- Convocation: Strong’s Number: H4150 Strong’s Definition
- Light: Strong’s Number: G5457 Thayer’s Definition