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The Jewish Feasts
The Jewish feasts of Leviticus 23 are seven annual feasts of Israel. They were spread over seven months of the Jewish calendar, at set times appointed by God. The first four of the seven feasts occurred during the springtime (Passover, Unleavened Bread, First Fruits, and Weeks), and the final three holidays (Trumpets, the Day of Atonement, and Tabernacles) occurred during the fall. Here is an outline of the feasts and their significance:
1) Passover (Leviticus 23:5) – Pointed to the Messiah as our Passover lamb (1 Corinthians 5:7) 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.
2) Unleavened Bread (Leviticus 23:6) – Pointed to the Messiah’s sinless life (as leaven is a picture of sin in the Bible), 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.
3) First Fruits (Leviticus 23:10) – Pointed 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.”
4) Weeks or Pentecost (Leviticus 23:16) – This holiday occurred fifty days after the beginning of the Feast of Unleavened Bread and pointed to the great harvest of souls and the gift of the Holy Spirit for both Jew and Gentile, who would be brought into the kingdom of God during the Church Age (Acts 2). The Church was actually established on this day when God poured out His Holy Spirit and 3,000 Jews responded to Peter’s great sermon and his first proclamation of the gospel.
5) Trumpets (Leviticus 23:24) – The first of the fall feasts (1 Thessalonians 4:13-18 and 1 Corinthians 15:52). Many believe that this is the warning of the three angels messages in Revelation 14:6-12 that will precede the coming of the Lord.
6) Day of Atonement (Leviticus 23:27) – Many believe that the prophecy of (Daniel 8 and 9) points that the heavenly sanctuary would be cleansed. (The earthly sanctuary was destroyed in A.D. 70.) Jesus, our high priest in heaven (Hebrews 4:14-16; 8:1-5), began removing the records of sin from the heavenly sanctuary (Revelation 20:12; Acts 3:19-21) in 1844.
7) Tabernacles or Booths (Leviticus 23:34) – Many scholars believe that this feast day 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).
Christians and the Jewish Feasts
In the New Testament, God did away with the Mosaic Laws with its feasts (Colossians 2:16; Ephesians 2:15; Galatians 4:9, 20) while the weekly seventh-day Sabbath of Creation remains (4:4, 9, 10). These yearly holidays were also called sabbaths that were given beside the weekly seventh-day Sabbath of the Lord (Leviticus 23:38). These were part of the Mosaic law which were added “till the seed should come,” and that seed was Christ (Galatians 3:16, 19). The ritual and ceremony of Moses’ law pointed forward to Christ’s sacrifice. When He died, these laws came to an end.
A Christian is not bound to observe the Jewish feasts the way an Old Testament Jew was. But a believer should not criticize another believer who does (Romans 14:5). While it is not required for a Christian to celebrate the Jewish feasts, it is beneficial to study them and understand their significance. And for both Jews and non-Jews who have placed their faith in Jesus, these special feasts demonstrate the work of redemption
In His service,