JEWISH FEASTS AND THEIR APPLICATION TO JESUS CHRIST
In the Old Testament, God instituted a religious calendar for the Israelites to follow. Within each year, there were seven specified feasts (Lev. 23).
The Hebrew word for “feasts” (moadim) literally means “appointed times.” In Jewish tradition, there were seven (7) feats, and God has carefully planned and orchestrated the timing and sequence of each of them to reveal to us a special story.
The seven annual feasts of Israel were spread over seven months of the Jewish calendar, at set times appointed by God. They are still celebrated by observant Jews today. But for both Jews and non-Jews who have placed their faith in Jesus, the Jewish Messiah, these special days demonstrate the work of redemption through God’s Son.
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.
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 believers in Jesus Christ is that they most assuredly will be fulfilled. As the four spring feasts were fulfilled literally and right on the actual feast day in connection with Christ’s first coming, these three fall feasts, it is believed by many, will likewise be fulfilled literally in connection to the Lord’s second coming.
There were three (3) pilgrimage feasts which are scheduled in the middle of the month, at the time of full moon. This means, there was always enough light to travel during night to Jerusalem, when it was cool.
Three times a year all your men must appear before the LORD your God at the place he will choose: at the Feast of Unleavened Bread, the Feast of Weeks and the Feast of Tabernacles. . No man should appear before the LORD empty handed. (Deuteronomy 16:16).
How did Jesus fulfill the meanings of the Jewish feasts?”
The way in which Jesus fulfilled the Jewish feasts is a fascinating study. In the Hebrew Scriptures, the Jewish prophet Amos records that God declared that He would do nothing without first revealing it to His servants, the prophets (Amos 3:7).
From the Old Covenant to the New, Genesis to Revelation, God provides picture after picture of His entire plan for mankind and one of the most startling prophetic pictures is outlined for us in the Jewish feasts of Leviticus 23.
Whether or not a Christian celebrates the Jewish feast days would be a matter of conscience for the individual Christian. Colossians 2:16-17 tells us, “Therefore do not let anyone judge you by what you eat or drink, or with regard to a religious festival, a New Moon celebration or a Sabbath day. These are a shadow of the things that were to come; the reality, however, is found in Christ.”
Christians are not bound to observe the Jewish feasts the way an Old Testament Jew was, but we should not criticize another believer who does or does not observe these special days and feasts (Romans 14:5).
Through these feasts, the Jewish people celebrated their history, their faith, and the blessings of God. Through Jesus’ life, the hope of each feast was fulfilled in a dramatic way.
While it is not required for Christians to celebrate the Jewish feast days, it is beneficial to study them. Certainly, it could be beneficial to celebrate these days if it leads one to a greater understanding and appreciation for Christ’s death and resurrection and the future promise of His coming. As Christians, if we choose to celebrate these special days, we should put Christ in the center of the celebration, as the One who came to fulfill the prophetic significance of each of them.
LIST OF JEWISH FEASTS, THEIR RITUALS, THEIR MEANING FOR JEWS AND THEIR APPLICATION TO JESUS CHRIST
|FEAST, PERIOD AND RITUALS||MEANING FOR JEWS||APPLICATION TO JESUS|
On the fourteenth day of the first month (Nisan) in the afternoon, the Seder (a special meal) is prepared.
In the evening, it will be eaten: A lamb, bitter herbs and unleavened bread (matzoth). (Exodus 12,8)
The blood of the lamb protects against the destroyer, the Angel of Death. „He will see the blood on the top and sides of the door frame and will pass over that doorway, and he will not permit the destroyer to enter your houses and strike you down.” (Exodus 12,23)
A flawless male lamb, one year old. (Exodus 12,5)
A male lamb (sheep or goat), one year old: Not a helpless little lamb!
No bone of the lamb may be broken. (Exodus 12,46)
Most Jews traveled to Jerusalem for celebration of Passover. Each family brought a spotless lamb to the Temple for sacrifice.
Passover (Hebrew Pesach) means „to pass over, to skip”
Liberation from the slavery in Egypt. (Exodus 12)To remember God’s deliverance of the Israelites from Egypt, when God passed over Israelite children and killed the firstborn of every Egyptian family.
These lambs reminded the Israelites of the lamb that was eaten on the night they were delivered from Egypt. The lamb also reminded Israelites of the blood price that must be paid for their sin.
|Trough the blood of Jesus, we have eternal life.
Whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be condemned; he has crossed over from death to life. (John 5,24)
For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your forefathers, but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect. (1.Peter 1,18-19)
Liberation from the slavery of Satan, of sin.
So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.
Jesus was without fault: (Jes 53,9) or
God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. (2.Cor 5,21) (John 8,36
No bone of Jesus has been broken. (John 19,31-36)
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 (John 19:14).
Luke 2 records the story of Jesus and his family traveling to Jerusalem for the Passover feast. Jesus slaughtered the family’s lamb, an action that meant he was recognized as a responsible member of the spiritual community. Later, Jesus died on the cross at the exact moment of the Passover sacrifice. Like the Passover lamb, none of his bones were broken, and his blood made the final atonement for the sins of the world.
|2. UNLEAVED BREAD
On the night before Passover eve, the house is searched for yeast (or leaven), and all which is found will be burnt.
Starting the 15. of Nissan, exclusively unleavened bread is eaten for 7 days.
For seven days you are to eat bread made without yeast. On the first day remove the yeast from your houses. (Exodus 12,15)
The feast began by offering the first sheaf of grain to God through a special ceremony in the Temple sanctuary (Lev. 23:10-11).
Another aspect of this feast involved the baking of unleavened bread, called matzo..
|To remember the escape from Egypt and God’s provision of bread from the earth, God commanded that the Israelites eat only unleavened bread for seven days after Passover as a reminder of their sudden deliverance from Egypt, when their bread literally had no time to rise
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.
Jesus burial coincided with the offering of the first grain. During his ministry Jesus described himself as “the bread of life. In God’s faithfulness, he provided the true “Bread of Life” from the earth by raising Jesus’ body from the grave.
Yeast, a symbol for sin (1.Kor 5,8) is eliminated! Jesus body is buried (put into the ground): Unleavened bread (he was without sin).
I tell you the truth, unless a grain of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds. (John 12,24)
3. FIRST FRUITS
In the spring, 15th day of 1st month
In biblical times and today again, on the first day after Passover – Holiday (Sabbath), the feast of First fruits is celebrated. When you enter the land I am going to give you and you reap its harvest, bring to the priest a sheaf of the first grain you harvest. He is to wave the sheaf before the LORD so it will be accepted on your behalf; the priest is to wave it on the day after the Sabbath.(Leviticus 23,10-11)
Israelites sacrificed the first part of their harvest, flocks, and earned money in recognition that God was the giver of every good thing. The people also acknowledged God’s ownership of the land by bringing seven fruits to the Temple. One of these fruits included the pomegranate, a crop easily destroyed by foul weather.
Israel had to celebrate God’s gift of harvest By giving these first fruits to God, the Israelites expressed their dependence on him and their trust that he would provide the rest of the harvest.
| 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.”
The Feast of First Fruits coincided with Jesus’ resurrection. When Jesus’ followers returned to the tomb on the morning of the celebration, it was open and empty. Jesus became the first fruits of those raised from the dead
Jesus resurrection. He is the First Fruit.
But Christ has indeed been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. (1.Cor 15,20)
|4. FEASTS OF WEEKS (PENTECOST)
50 days after Passover. (Lev.23:16)
The first time, Moses received the ten commandments on stone tablets and the whole law about 7 Weeks after the death of the Passover lambs in Egypt (Exodus 19). When Moses approached the camp and saw the calf and the dancing, his anger burned and he threw the tablets out of his hands, breaking them to pieces at the foot of the mountain. The Levites did as Moses commanded, and that day about three thousand of the people died. (Exodus 32,19/28)
Joyful crowds gathered on the Southern Stairs, brought their offerings of wheat to the Temple, and celebrated the good harvest God had given. In Jewish tradition, true thankfulness to God was best shown by giving to others. So when the grain was harvested, the corners of the field were left standing to be gleaned by the poor.
|Shavuot (Hebrew) means „weeks”: The Feast of Weeks. Pentecost goes back to the Greek penteconta „fifty”. The Jews start counting „Omer” the 16. Nissan. The people also celebrated the giving of the Law. This ritual paralleled Israel’s history, which began with deliverance from Egypt on Passover and concluded when they received the Law.
Israel has been born as a nation through the gift of the law.
This was also the remembrance anniversary of receiving the Law when 3000 Men died!
|The disciples received the Holy Spirit (Acts 2)
3000 Men came to true life!
The law of life in your heartBecause through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life set me free from the law of sin and death. (Romans 8,2)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 (see 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.
Shavuot coincides with Pentecost. Some scholars believe that the arrival of the Holy Spirit may have taken place on the Temple’s Southern Stairs where the pilgrims gathered. Luke 24:53 states that the disciples remained in the Temple every day after Jesus’ ascension to praise God. Peter was enabled to speak many languages, which would have made the gospel understandable to the people of varying backgrounds who traveled to Jerusalem for Shavuot
The Church of Jesus has been born through the gift of the Holy Spirit
Trough the gift of the Holy Spirit, the Church has been created. It does not consist of people, who are without sin, but they are all „baked with yeast”. Nobody but Jesus alone was without sin!
Harvest of first fruits: The Church of Jesus Christ is emerging!
|5. FEATS OF TRUMPETS
( Rosh Hashana)
In the fall, on the 1st day of the 7th month (TISHRI) , People hold a sacred assembly and do no regular work. It is a day to sound the trumpets. (Numbers 29,1)
In Israel’s religious ritual, they utilized two different kinds of trumpets. One was long and flared and made of silver (Numbers 10,2). The other was a ram’s horn and is called in Hebrew the shofar.
Rosh Hashana celebrated the beginning of a new religious year. The people celebrated by attending religious services and considering God’s sovereignty and his future day of judgment. The shofar was blown-a sound that reminded Jewish people of their ancient past, God’s great power, and their call for faithfulness in his coming judgment.
To sound the trumpets is a remembrance of the grace of God against Abraham, when he supplied a ram as sacrifice at the place of Isaac. This is why at Rosh Hashanah, the shofar will sound in the Synagogues over the whole world.
To sound the trumpets: To call the community (Israel) together for … (Numbers 10).
To prepare for God’s judgment
|The trumpets will announce the second coming of Jesus:
For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever. (1.Thess 4,16-17) see also 1. Corinthians 15,51-52The first of the fall feasts. Many believe this day points to the Rapture of the Church when the Messiah Jesus will appear in the heavens as He comes for His bride, the Church. The Rapture is always associated in Scripture with the blowing of a loud trumpet (1 Thessalonians 4:13-18 and 1 Corinthians 15:52).Jesus, in keeping with this tradition, described a coming judgment that will be announced by the blowing of the shofar (Matt. 24:31).
|6. FEAST OF ATONEMENT
The tenth day of this seventh month is the Day of Atonement. Hold a sacred assembly and deny yourselves, and present an offering made to the LORD by fire. (Leviticus 23,27)
Aaron shall bring the goat whose lot falls to the LORD and sacrifice it for a sin offering. But the goat chosen by lot as the scapegoat shall be presented alive before the LORD to be used for making atonement by sending it into the desert as a scapegoat. (Leviticus 16,9-10)
In preparation for Yom Kippur, the people fasted as a form of self-denial, repentance, and confession of sin before God. On the feast day, a priest entered the Most Holy Place and God appeared in a cloud over the ark of the covenant. Blood from sacrificed animals was sprinkled on the Most Holy Place and the altar to atone for the sins of priests. The high priest then placed his hands on the head of a scapegoat, symbolically transferring the sins of the people onto the goat. Subsequently, the scapegoat was taken out into the wilderness to die, symbolizing that God had forgiven the people’s sins.
|Only once a year on Yom Kippur, the High Priest (nobody else) may enter the Holy of Holies, and meet there the glory of the LORD (the Shekinah). (Hebrews 9,7)
The High Priest makes atonement for himself and for the people of Israel (Leviticus 16)
A day for the nation to seek forgiveness. God passed judgment of the people onto a scapegoat
|The New Testament describes how the Day of Atonement applies to the death of Jesus: Jesus’ blood, instead of the blood of the goat, now symbolizes atonement (Heb. 9:11-14). The death of Jesus fulfilled the ancient role of the scapegoat; through Jesus’ death, sins are truly forgiven
Trough Jesus’ death at the cross, the way to the Father is free for everybody at anytime:
When he returns, beside other functions, he will come as the High Priest to his chosen people Israel (Zechariah 12,10).
This feast will not be fulfilled by the church, because the church owes no atonement. The church is not innocent of course, but Jesus has paid the price for our sins.
The Day of Atonement will be fulfilled for the Jews when the Lord returns at His second coming (1) (Zechariah 12:10. Romans 11:1-6;25-36).
7. FEASTS OF TABERNACLE (Sukkoth)
Each year on Tabernacles, the fifteenth day of the seventh month, devout Jews left their homes and build little shelters outside their houses, and worship in them.
Beginning with the fifteenth day of the seventh month, after you have gathered the crops of the land, celebrate the festival to the LORD for seven days; the first day is a day of rest, and the eighth day also is a day of rest. (Leviticus 23,39).
Celebrate the Feast of Tabernacles for seven days after you have gathered the produce of your threshing floor and your winepress. (Deut 16,13).
The Jews live in a Sukkah (or tabernacle) to commemorate the time when Israel lived in tents during their 40 years in the desert. In these days, also God lived in a tent right between the people: the Tabernacle.
In the times of the temple, a priest went to the pool of Siloam to fill a golden pitcher with water. He then came back to the temple accompanied by a joyous procession of trumpet sounds and worshipers, and poured out the water near the altar. At the same time, he recited Isaiah 12,3 ff.: With joy you will draw water from the wells of salvation ….
This is God’s celebration of the fact that He provided shelter for the Israelites in the wilderness. To remember when the Jewish people lived in the wilderness before entering Canaan. The number eight symbolizes a new beginning. The eighth day of the week is the day after Sabbath. Now the work starts anew. On this day of the week, Jesus did rise from the dead. With HIM, God did create something new:
|This feasts days 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 the context of Succoth, Jesus dramatically presented his message. On the “last and greatest day of the Feast,” in the midst of the water ceremony and prayers for God to send water, Jesus proclaimed, “If anyone is thirsty, let him come to me and drink” (John 7:37-38).
God’s great Tabernacle will exist in Jerusalem during the Kingdom Age (Zechariah 14:16-19). All the world will come every year to appear before the King and worship Him (1) (Ezekiel 37:26,27. Micah 4:1-7).
Sometimes Christians think that all the Jews will be saved anyway, so why should we bother witnessing to them now? Since only surviving Israel will be saved when the Lord returns, a man who dies now before being saved, Jew or Gentile, cannot obtain salvation in the future, and we should note that it will be very difficult for Israel to survive the tribulation in any great numbers. The prophets lament that two-thirds of that nation shall perish at the hands of the Antichrist.
Compiled by Pst.NGWABIJE Sylvestre