The Feasts of Israel – Do they have prophetic significance?

Origin and Timing of the Feasts

The feasts were a part of the Mosaic Law that was given to the Children of Israel by God through Moses (Exodus 12; 23:14-17; Leviticus 23; Numbers 28 & 29; and Deuteronomy 16). The Jewish nation was commanded by God to celebrate seven feasts over a seven month period of time, beginning in the Spring of the year and continuing through the Fall.

The first three feasts: Passover, Unleavened Bread, and First Fruits, occur in rapid succession in the Spring of the year over a period of eight days. They came to be referred to collectively as “Passover.”

The fourth feast: Harvest, occurs fifty days later at the beginning of the Summer. By New Covenant times this feast had come to be known as Pentecost, from the Greek word pentekonta, meaning fifty, the feminine is pentekoste.

The last three feasts: Trumpets, Atonement, and Tabernacles extend over a period of twenty-one days in the Fall of the year. These are known as the “High Holy Days.”

The Nature of the Feasts

Some of the feasts were related primarily to the agricultural cycle. The feast of First Fruits was a time for the presentation to God of the first fruits of the barley harvest. The feast of Harvest was a celebration of the wheat harvest. And the feast of Tabernacles was in part a time of thanksgiving for the harvest of olives, dates, and figs.

Most of the feasts were related to past historical events. Passover, of course, celebrated the salvation the Jews experienced when the LORD passed over the Jewish houses that were marked with the blood of a lamb. Unleavened Bread was a reminder of the swift departure from Egypt so swift that they had no time to put leaven into their bread.

Although the feasts of Harvest and Tabernacles were related to the agricultural cycle, they both had historical significance as well. The Jews believed that it was on the feast day of Harvest that God gave the Law to Moses on Mt. Sinai. And Tabernacles was a yearly reminder of God’s protective care as the Children of Israel tabernacled in the wilderness for forty years.

The Spiritual Significance of the Feasts

All the feasts were, and are, unto the LORD. They served to tum- yank! -the people from the pagan Egyptian ways they’d been surrounded by and so greatly influenced by, to set the Hebrews apart from all of the pagan peoples on the earth. Thus, the Feasts of Israel are all about the spiritual life of the people. Passover served as a reminder that there is no atonement for sin apart from the shedding of blood. (Lev. 17: 11) Unleavened Bread was a reminder of God’s call on their lives to be a people set apart to holiness, as leaven was a symbol of sin. They were to be unleavened, that is, holy, before the nations as a witness of God, as Yeshua is the Unleavened Bread of Life.

The feast of First Fruits was a call to consider their priorities, to make certain they were putting God first in their lives. Harvest was a reminder that God is the source of all blessings. The assembly day of Trumpets informs us of the Rapture to come, and of the LORD Yeshua’s Second coming! The Day of Atonement, Yom Kippur, was, and is, a reminder of the need for repentance, and was, and is, also a solemn assembly day, a day of rest and introspection. It was a reminder of God’s promise to send a Messiah whose blood would cover the demands of the Law with the mercy of God.

In sharp contrast to the Day of Atonement, Tabernacles was, and is, a joyous celebration of God’s faithfulness, even when the Children of Israel were unfaithful.

The Prophetic Significance of the Feasts

What the Jewish people did not seem to realize is that all of the feasts were also symbolic types. In other words, they were prophetic in nature, each one pointing in a unique way to some aspect of the life and work of the promised Messiah.

1) Passover – Pointed to the Messiah as our Passover Lamb Whose blood would be shed for our sins. Jesus was crucified on the day of preparation for the Passover, at the same time that the lambs were being slaughtered for the Passover meal that evening.

2) Unleavened Bread – Pointed to the Messiah’s sinless life, 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 – 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 Corinthians 15:20 as the “first fruits from the dead.”

4) Harvest or Pentecost – (Called Shavuot today.) Pointed to the great harvest of souls, both Jew and Gentile, that would come into the kingdom of God during the Church Age. The Church was actually established on this day when the Messiah poured out the Holy Spirit and 3,000 souls responded to Peter’s first proclamation of the Gospel.

The long interval of three months between Harvest and Trumpets pointed to the current Church Age, a period of time that was kept as a mystery to the Hebrew prophets in Old Covenant times. That leaves us with the three Fall feasts which are yet to be fulfilled in the life and work of the Messiah. Because Yeshua literally fulfilled the first four feasts and did so on the actual feast days, I think it is probable that the last three will also be fulfilled on the actual feast days.

5) Trumpets – (Called Rosh Hashana today.) Points to the Rapture when the Messiah will appear in the heavens as a Bridegroom coming for His bride, the Church. The Rapture is always associated in Scripture with the blowing of a loud trumpet (I Thessalonians 4:13-18 and 1 Corinthians 15:52)

6) Atonement – (Called Yom Kippur today.) Points to the day of the Second Coming of Jesus when He will return to earth. That will be the day of atonement for the Jewish remnant when they “look upon Him whom they have pierced,” repent of their sins, and receive Him as their Messiah (Zechariah 12:10 and Romans 11:1-6, 25-36).

7) Tabernacles – (Called Sukkot today.) Points to the Lord’s promise that He will once again tabernacle with His people when He returns to reign over all the world from Jerusalem (Micah 4: 1-7). I believe it is correct to understand that Biblically, the LORD was probably conceived at Hanukkah, during the Winter Solstice, and delivered 287 days later, at full human gestation, at Tabernacles.

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Read more related content in the Harmony Area of WindowView!

Director, WindowView.org

The Real Christmas in Appropriate Hebrew Context

What if the common impression of a holiday misses a greater understanding of a biblical sequence of events? What if the impression, albeit well intentioned, is just plain off track!

What if a description of a real sequence of events actually expands our understanding of events to expose a more significant picture of biblical intent and truth? What would be your response?

Christmas as a holiday is becoming overwhelmed by commercialization. This forces those with a religious focus to work harder to sustain the real meaning of Christmas. But what if we say a Hebrew/Jewish context can bring out the fullness of this holiday and at the same time reorient the biblical story … that many Gentiles think of as the birthday of the Savior. And if you are Jewish … have you missed this vital information?

BTW … we aren’t bashing Christmas here … read on, we think you’ll be amazed and perhaps grasp a greater respect for the true heart of common tradition.

First, to our Jewish readers we wish to say that the first mention of the Jewish Messiah is found in the first book of the Hebrew Bible. Most English translations present this verse in Genesis 3:15. This verse is referring to Messiah in terms of a “seed of a woman.” Isaiah later is telling us that the Savior would come by a birth from an ‘alma’ or as the English translation puts it, a virgin. What most of us … Jew and Gentile alike … don’t realize is that the word virgin comes through a Greek translation of the Isaiah text … a translation into the Greek made by Hebrew speaking Jewish persons. Jewish scholarship, not Gentile influence gives us the meaning in context. After all, Isaiah says the birth will be a sign … something significant … what could be more significant than a virgin birth (Isaiah 7:14). Unique beyond comparison. To it’s credit this should be the only focus of Christmas unto salvation. But let us continue further.

So the pronouncement by angels to shepherds out in the field … that the virgin would give birth … is not a Gentile notion, but an expectation that was put forth in both Genesis and Isaiah.

But hold that thought because the fact that shepherds were tending flocks in the field tells us that Messiah was not likely born in December … not in Israel during the colder months. This opens a possiblility. We won’t be dogmatic about this, but simply suggest that if the time was in the fall of the year, a logical sequence of biblical holy days, feasts and festivals can have a start at the Feast of Tabernacles. This would place the birth of Messiah at late September or early October, when shepherds would still be in the field.

But there is something else, markedly significant, that you may wish to study further. The biblical prophetical sequence that follows the holy days can both start and end with the Feast of Tabernacles. We will return to this point in a minute.

Further, if Messiah was born on the first day of the feast, then on the eighth and concluding day, this little Jewish male would have been circumcised. Interesting isn’t it … This is an eight day Bible declared Feast. What other biblically prescribed feast is so long? None, unless you count Chanukah, but we’ll get to that, too. The Feast of Tabernacles then aligns with a birth event associated with Jewish male infants. This is a fit that makes sense.

Further, because the book of Daniel provides a riddle, that once solved, points to the exact time of Messiah’s arrival … birth … and thus it was possible for Jewish persons who knew Daniel’s writings to be anticipating this arrival. And the Greek Scriptures, in fact, provide witness to this anticipation through the man Simeon … who waited at the Temple hoping to see Messiah (before he as an old man was soon to die). And this is fitting because the Temple stood, clean, and rededicated in waiting for Messiah.

Luk 2:25    And behold, there was a man in Jerusalem whose name was Simeon. And this man was just and devout, waiting for the Consolation of Israel. And the Holy Spirit was on him.

Why is the status of the temple important? See, we told you Chanukah would come into this. If in fact the historical events that brought us the Feast of Dedication (a.k.a. Hanukkah or Chanukah) fit the timeline after Feast of Tabernacles and before Passover, then this strategically aligns with the adult presence of Messiah who visited the temple AT the Feast of Dedication. While neither the revolt of the Macabees nor Chanukah are recorded int he Hebrew Bible (a.k.a. Tanach), the reality of this comes in the Greek text written by the Jew Yochanan … See John 20:10. The state of desecration brought on by Antiochus could not remain to the day of Messiah. And so the Macabees did what was required to honor Messiah. Jesus visited the Jewish Temple in it’s glory.

Joh 10:22    And the Feast of Dedication took place at Jerusalem, and it was winter.

The sequence of fall to winter aligns the Feast of Tabernacles and Hanukah … and next in the yearly cycle is Passover. We will leave a detailed discussion of Passover in PARALLEL with what is called Easter, or as some prefer … Resurrection Day. Yeshua, Jesus, grew to an adult and presented a ministry of signs through miracles, as an authentication of His identity, and wisdom in parables that makes sense to every reader today … As much sense as in the first telling years ago.

Move past the spring feasts and arrive at late summer and we see a parallel between biblical holy days that are yet to be fulfilled by Messiah’s actions. Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur parallel events described by Daniel and in the Book of Revelation. In brief, the day of atonement, Yom Kippur completes a cycle and ends this age we live in at present. But that ends to a new beginning and that is where we arrive back at the Feast of Tabernacles.

During Messiah’s first presence in this feast, we lived with Him and He with us … In the flesh.

At the feast to come, we will again be in His presence in the next era. A new era that is a step to the Eternal Order promised in the Bible.

Christmas is about the birth of the Messiah and His promise of eternal life is to all who believe … as Scripture puts it … To the Jew first and also the Greek (meaning all Gentiles).

This year put Christmas in it’s proper context. And note that Chanukah is in the Bible, but in the Brit Chadeshah, the New Covenant … which if you look for a reference to a new covenant … you can find that in Jeremiah 31:31.

You see, the scriptures are inter woven and self referencing … To thos who do not believe it is foolishness … To those who see the weave there is wisdom.

Be wise … enjoy Christmas in it’s real context and be blessed.

Merry Messiahmas to you and yours!

Dr. Peterson, Director
WindowView.org

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