Today, the vast majority of the Christian church has done away with the biblical feasts. Many Christians simply dismiss these feasts as “Jewish feasts”, while others have rejected the feasts because they think the Old Testament no longer applies. On the other hand, many other Christians do not even know the feasts were celebrated throughout the bible, due to a severe lack of biblical literacy. So, what if I told you that the feasts were never done away with and by not observing the feasts, we won’t be ready for Christ’s second coming? How can I be so sure?
First, let us go back to the beginning, where we are introduced to the feasts in the Bible.
In Leviticus 23, God speaks to Moses giving him instructions on each of the feasts that the children of Israel are to observe. Throughout this chapter, God goes on to name each feast and the exact way it is to be observed, including the specific day and month. He begins His instructions to Moses with a very compelling statement; God specifically calls the feasts “His feasts”: “And the LORD spoke to Moses, saying, “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 23:1-2).
The words of God in Leviticus 23:2 directly contradict the first argument (above), regarding not keeping the Biblical feasts. God clearly says to Moses that they are His feasts. So, what about the second argument; that the Old Testament does not apply to us because the law has been annulled? Leviticus is one of the first five books of the Bible, known as the “law of Moses”, or “Torah” in Hebrew. It is often incorrectly believed that the law was done away with, at the cross. Jesus Himself said:
“Do not think that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets. I did not come to destroy but to fulfill. For assuredly, I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, one jot or one tittle will by no means pass from the law till all is fulfilled. Whoever therefore breaks one of the least of these commandments, and teaches men so, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever does and teaches them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven. For I say to you, that unless your righteousness exceeds the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 5:17-20).
The word “fulfil” does not mean to annul. The Greek word for “fulfil” means to “preach correctly” and to “bring to realization”. (1) In fact, the dictionary shows that the antonym, or exact opposite to the word “fulfil” is “abolish”.
The Apostle Paul, who came to the faith after Jesus’ death and resurrection, was following the law and teaching it:
“There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the law of sin and death. For what the law could not do in that it was weak through the flesh, God did by sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, on account of sin: He condemned sin in the flesh, that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.” (Romans 8:1-4)
Furthermore, in Romans 2:13 Paul states “. . . for not the hearers of the law are just in the sight of God, but the doers of the law will be justified;” and in Romans 3:31 Paul states “Do we then make void the law through faith? Certainly not! On the contrary, we establish the law.”
We see that Paul distinguishes between two laws; the law of the flesh and the law of the spirit. The law of the flesh is the carnal ordinances that the pharisees were keeping, and Jews today still observe where they can– i.e. certain steps on the sabbath, physical sacrifices, and women being required to cover their hair, to name a few. God rebuked these carnal observances in Isaiah 1:13-14. The law of the spirit that Paul refers to is the deeper understanding of the law, the mystical meaning. Paul expounds more on the deeper meaning of the law at the end of this scripture:
“For circumcision is indeed profitable if you keep the law; but if you are a breaker of the law, your circumcision has become uncircumcision. Therefore, if an uncircumcised man keeps the righteous requirements of the law, will not his uncircumcision be counted as circumcision? And will not the physically uncircumcised, if he fulfills the law, judge you who, even with your written code and circumcision, are a transgressor of the law? For he is not a Jew who is one outwardly, nor is circumcision that which is outward in the flesh; but he is a Jew who is one inwardly; and circumcision is that of the heart, in the Spirit, not in the letter; whose praise is not from men but from God.” (Romans 2:25-29).
With this understanding, and the understanding of the word ‘fulfil’ above, we see that Jesus is telling us in Matthew 5:17 that His walk on this earth was to abolish the carnal understanding of the law; to show us how to understand the deeper meaning of the law and how to walk it out spiritually.
The early church fathers understood that the scripture is to be understood in a spiritual sense, not simply a literal and historical sense. Origen said:
“Many, not understanding the Scriptures in a spiritual sense, but incorrectly, have fallen into heresies.” (2)
Now, back to the feasts. The feasts of God aren’t referring to big parties, or banquets with a smorgasbord of food – that is our Western understanding. The word for “Feasts” in Hebrew speaks of “appointed place, appointed time and meeting”(3).
The major seven feasts in the Bible, as instructed by God in Leviticus 23, are divided into two categories; the Early Rain (Spring) Feasts & the Latter Rain (Fall) Feasts:
Early Rain Feasts
- Unleavened Bread
- First fruits
Latter Rain Feasts
The feasts were part of the law given to Moses and scripture tells us in Hebrews 10:1 that the law was a shadow of the good things to come, not the very image. Colossians 2:16-17 (AMP) also states: “Therefore let no one judge you in regard to food and drink or in regard to [the observance of] a festival or a new moon or a Sabbath day. Such things are only a shadow of what is to come and they have only symbolic value; but the substance [the reality of what is foreshadowed] belongs to Christ.”
Therefore, just as we saw above with the letter verses the spirit of the law, there is a dual meaning to the feasts also. Each of the feasts that occurred historically in the Old Testament was a shadow (symbolic) of a greater, future event. The word “feast” also speaks of a time repeated time after time”, (4) or a rehearsal for the real event that was to come. If we look closely at the events that occurred in the Old Testament verses the New Testament for the early rain feasts, we can see a pattern of Christ fulfilling the greater meaning of the feast at His first coming.
Early Rain Feasts:
Old Testament (Shadow) = Hebrews putting the blood of the lamb on their doorposts and leaving Egypt
New Testament (Fulfillment) = Jesus, the lamb of God is crucified
- Unleavened Bread
Old Testament (Shadow) = Hebrews flee Egypt with no leaven in their bread
New Testament (Fulfillment) = Burial of Jesus
- First Fruits
Old Testament (Shadow) = Hebrews went through the red sea (3 days after leaving Egypt)
New Testament (Fulfillment) = Resurrection of Jesus
Old Testament (Shadow) = Moses went up to Mt Sinai and received the law
New Testament (Fulfillment) = Outpouring of the Holy Spirit – tongues of fire in the upper room
Latter Rain Feasts:
Old Testament (Shadow) = The trumpets being released are symbolic of the prophets of God. (Isaiah 58:1, Jeremiah 6:17, Revelation 1:10, Revelation 10:7). The feast of Trumpets is all about a voice. John the Baptist was a voice/trumpet crying out in the wilderness (John 1:23). He came in the spirit of Elijah and was a shadow of Elijah coming at the end of the age.
Old Testament (Shadow) = The High Priest went into the Holy of Holies once a year to atone for the sins of Israel (Hebrews 9:7).
Old Testament (Shadow) = The Hebrews dwelled in booths or also known as a sukkot (Leviticus 23:42-43) during their 40 year wilderness journey.
We can see the first four feasts were fulfilled by Christ, but the final three feasts have not yet been fulfilled. What happened in the Old Testament with the latter rains was a shadow of what is to come. But if we don’t even acknowledge the shadow, how can we be prepared for the real thing?
Early church father Methodius wrote:
“ . . . the Jews, fluttering about the bare letter of Scripture, like drones about the leaves of herbs, but not about flowers and fruits as the bee, fully believe that these words and ordinances were spoken concerning such a tabernacle as they erect; as if God delighted in those trivial adornments which they, preparing, fabricate from trees, not perceiving the wealth of good things to come; whereas these things, being like air and phantom shadows, foretell the resurrection and the putting up of our tabernacle that had fallen upon the earth, which at length, in the seventh thousand of years, resuming again immortal, we shall celebrate the great feast of true tabernacles in the new and indissoluble (everlasting) creation, the fruits of the earth having been gathered in, and men no longer begetting and begotten, but God resting from the works of creation.” (5)
Above Methodius explains, to observe the true meaning of the feasts is to understand them prophetically; that the feasts are much more than just a celebration. By not observing the feasts prophetically we are missing the whole reason God established them; to point to events to come. Writing specifically about the feast of Tabernacles, Methodius explains that the true “tabernacles” will be when we come into our glorified body in the millennial kingdom. (See Philippians 3:20-21).
Here, Justin Martyr explains that the sacrificial lamb at Passover was symbolic of Christ and the crucifixion:
“The mystery, then, of the lamb which God enjoined to be sacrificed as the passover, was a type of Christ; . . . and that lamb which was commanded to be wholly roasted was a symbol of the suffering of the cross which Christ would undergo. For the lamb, which is roasted, is roasted and dressed up in the form of the cross. . . . And the two goats which were ordered to be offered during the fast, of which one was sent away as the scape [goat], and the other sacrificed, were similarly declarative of the two appearances of Christ . . .” (6)
Just as Justin Martyr writes above, the Passover lamb was intentionally God putting a sign of the coming sacrificial lamb that would take away the sins of the world – Jesus. In the passage above, Justin Martyr goes on further to explain how even the way they skewed the lamb in the Old Testament was symbolic of Jesus on the cross. All of the early church (before the council of Nicea) saw the first and second coming of Jesus in the feasts and they were aware that the feasts were to be kept eternally, by understanding them spiritually.
See how incredibly God ordained His feasts to directly line up with the first and second coming of Christ. God showed us through His appointed feasts when Christ was going to come and even the day He would be crucified, but only for those with eyes to see and ears to hear. Just as the Jews didn’t understand the feasts spiritually and missed the first coming of Christ, if we don’t understand the feasts of God prophetically, we will not be prepared for the second coming of Christ, like the five foolish virgins in Matthew 25. God said through Hosea “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge. Because you have rejected knowledge, I also will reject you from being priest for Me . . .” (7) Let us not reject this precious knowledge that God has given us through His feasts, to be prepared to meet the bridegroom!
All scripture from NKJV unless otherwise stated.
(1) Strong’s Reference G4137 for “fulfill”. Definition from Strong’s Bible Dictionary & Thayer’s Dictionary.
(2) Origen De Principiis Bk 4, Ch 1, Vol 4
(3) Strong’s Reference H4150 for “feasts”. Definition from Strong’s Bible Dictionary & Brown-Driver-Briggs Dictionary.
(4) Strong’s Reference H4150 for “feasts”. Definition from Ancient Hebrew Lexicon Bible.
(5) ANF Vol 6, Methodius – Discourse 9, Ch 1
(6) ANF Vol 1, Justin Martyr – Dialogue With Trypho Ch 40
(7) Hosea 4:6