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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Director, WindowView.org

Passover — A Brief Nugget and Kinda A Mystery Revealed

Okay, so it’s like the week when we see celebrations of Palm Sunday and later lots of people go to church for Easter.  That’s all Jesus stuff.  It’s been done for years.  What about Jewish stuff?

The Jewish community breaks out the Matzoh and sets a table full of stuff to celebrate Passover.  That’s Cecil B. DeMille and Charlton Heston and lots of camera angles as a lot of water, I mean a lot of water, separates and a bunch a folks go for a walk.

Whooops!  Wait a minute.  Are these different things?  Lets have those parted sea walkers back up for a minute.  Before Moshe parts the waters with a rod and a shout, the folks that had been walking previously had a certain kind if dinner … with a sacrificial lamb.  Okay, you saw the movie and you know that every family sacrificed a lamb, spread blood on the door posts, got passed over, and that set these people apart from all of Egypt [a country representing the pagan world to be sure].

Now let’s think a minute … Easter and Palm Sunday come at the same time when the Jewish folks celebrate Passover.  Could there be any linkage here?

Here is a question: Did the Passover celebration ever change?  Could that have anything to do with what the Jesus followers do?

Could be!  How?

Well, the information we have here at the window says the Passover seder use to include sharing of lamb meat at the table.  Today, only a shank bone is used to represent the lamb.  The change appears to have come just under about 2000 years ago.

Add to this something else curious, a Greek word found its way into the Passover celebration.  Jewish folks are mostly unaware of this.  But the Haggadah, the booklet with all the words and songs for Passover is typically all Hebrew, well, except for the one Greek word.

Why is that word important and what changed in the order of the Passover observance?  Again, our information indicates that the seder, the meal and the events that take place at Passover, gained the use of three matzoth and a cloth bag commonly called ‘unity bag’ that is used to house the matzoth (flat bread made without yeast).

Okay, ready?  The point, to make this brief, is that during the meal the head of the family gets up and takes out the center piece of flat bread and by pulling it out part way the bread is broken in half.  The inner portion is returned to the bag and resides in the middle between the unbroken breads.  The broken off portion is wrapped in a napkin or cloth and is shown to all and then is hidden.  Later, a child or the children all around are asked to seek out this broken piece … this is called the Afikomen.  Oh, by the way, that is the Greek word, it’s not Hebrew.

The kids all search for the Afikomen and the one who finds it brings it back to the table and usually gets a little reward for their success!  The head of the table removes the Afikomen ad breaks this into multiple smaller pieces which are distributed to everyone at the table.  During the seder there are four cups of wine shared by all, each with a specific significance.  At this time, everyone eats a piece of this Afikomen and drinks from the cup representing redemption.

The change in the seder is somewhat coincidental to the fall of the second Jewish Temple in Jerusalem.  Since that time there has been no place for lambs to be sacrificed and no place for a Jew to make a sacrifice for the forgiveness of personal sin.

So, Afikomen means something like the ‘expected one.’ That is our paraphrase and it’s the apparent, we think clear, intent of the use of the word is to signify a person who is expected to come.  The anticipation is great and forward looking.

Time to reveal what is really happening here.  The Unity bag contains three matzah.  From a Messianic perspective you can hold the bag either way, but the three inside the unity represent Adonai, Messiah, and the Ruach HaKodesh (Spirit).  Breaking the center matzoh is breaking the Son as was Messiah broken for the sins of all people.  He was sacrificed, died, buried like the Afikomen is hidden in its shroud of a napkin, found, revealed, and shared by all for the sake of redemption.  That is very much a parallel to the real event that Easter goers are celebrating … not the end or death, but the redemption, and a single lamb slain for all and for all time.  A Temple is no longer necessary.

This means that every year the Jewish population is celebrating their Messiah’s actions on their behalf, what Yeshua did, and really for all people.

During the week when Yeshua (Jesus) entered Jerusalem for his last time [during that era], he rode on a donkey along a way, a road, that is the same path that lambs used to arrive at the Temple for Passover sacrifice.  Jews would watch the lambs come in and sometimes, as we’re told, would put palm fronds down along the way to honor the sheep.

Messiah thus appears to have given Himself for a sacrifice on an execution stake outside the city at the same time the Passover sheep were being slain for sacrifice in the Temple … all this IS Passover and it’s all one and the same event. This is no mere coincidence.

The irony is that the Jewish population has been perplexed concerning the loss of their Temple and a move is afoot to rebuild that structure, and soon!  But in reality, every year the bread and wine signify the one and only sacrifice by a mediator that is both Jewish and one who links all the faithful, should they care to see this wonderful illustration link all in the unity … it’s in the bag.  Simple and been there for two millennia.  Did you know this?  Interesting isn’t it?!

While you are at it, if you share this with a friend, have them take a look at Isaiah 53 … matzoh are ‘pierced and striped.’  Hmmmm, kind of like a nugget of something real interesting!

Tell a friend … it’s all good news!

Here is a link to a page on the Passover Lamb

Director, WindowView.org