Spring is here, and along with rain and flowers it brings a time of both reflection and joy for many Christians. During this season we celebrate God and give thanks for His love and the sacrifice that was made for us through His son, Jesus. God’s plan of redemption for His people began to unfold in the Old Testament. In Exodus, Leviticus, Deuteronomy and Numbers we see a blueprint for how God would bring forth that redemption in His Feasts. The feasts are called moedim in Hebrew, meaning appointments. The feasts make up God’s appointment calendar with His redeemed people. There are seven feasts in all and they are celebrated in two different seasons – Spring and Fall.
In Colossians 2:16-17, Paul discusses the feasts, stating that they were a shadow of things to come through Christ. Let’s take a closer look at the four spring feasts, known as Passover, The Festival of Unleavened Bread, Feast of Firstfruits, and Pentecost. If you are unfamiliar with the Feasts of the Lord, I assure you that digging deeper to learn about the significance of each one will provide you with a better understanding of God’s Word and a deeper, more meaningful relationship with our Lord.
The story of Passover is one that many of us have heard before. It began with God hearing the cries of the Israelites who were enslaved in Egypt. In response, God uses Moses to relay a series of warnings to Pharaoh. Each time, Pharaoh rejects Moses’ warning and suffers the consequence of a plague. After the ninth plague, Moses warned Pharaoh that the next plague would cost Egypt the lives of their first born sons. Again, Pharaoh rejected Moses’ warning and refused to release the Israelites from slavery. As a result, God gave Moses instructions for His people to follow. Exodus 12:3-11 tells that, “each family must choose a lamb or a young goat for a sacrifice, one animal for each household…Take special care of this chosen animal until the evening of the fourteenth day of this first month. Then the whole assembly of the community of Israel must slaughter their lamb or young goat at twilight. They are to take some of the blood and smear it on the sides and top of the doorframes of the houses where they eat the animal.”
Exodus 12:12 then states, “On that night, I will pass through the land of Egypt and strike down every firstborn son and firstborn male animal in the land of Egypt…But the blood on your doorposts will serve as a sign, marking the houses where you are staying. When I see the blood, I will pass over you.” Then, in Exodus 12:14, we read, “This is a day to remember. Each year, from generation to generation, you must celebrate it as a special festival to the Lord. This is the law for all time.”
Prelude to a King (Now)
Passover was the first festival that the Lord gave, but I’m unsure if the Israelites realized just how significant Passover would be in connection to their expectant Messiah. In that day, lamb’s blood on your doorpost saved you. Now, covering ourselves in the Lambs’ blood saves us. 1 Corinthian 5:7 says, “Christ, our Passover Lamb, has been sacrificed for us.” It is through the blood of the Lamb of God that we have been protected. Not because of our works, but because of our faith in Him. Let us remember that even the Israelites, who did not trust the blood and didn’t smear it over their doorpost, lost their first born sons as well; so you see, it’s not a birth right. We have the choice to accept the sacrifice. Through Christ’s death, we are all redeemed. Through our acceptance, we are saved. In Matthew 26:28 we read, “For this is my blood, which confirms the covenant between God and his people. It is poured out as a sacrifice to forgive the sins of many.”
Festival of Unleavened Bread (Then)
The day after Passover is when the Festival of Unleavened Bread begins. Leviticus 23:6 reads, “This festival to the Lord continues for seven days, and during that time the bread you eat must be made without yeast.” The Israelites not only stopped using yeast for bread, but they actually purged all of the yeast from their homes. They did this to ensure that there wouldn’t be a remote possibility of ingestion.
The Purge (Now)
As with everything that God does, the fact that this festival begins the day after Passover and makes reference to yeast is of no coincidence. Yeast is often used to describe sin in the Bible. In Matthew 16:6 Jesus warns us, “Beware of the yeast of the Pharisees and Sadducees.” And 1 Corinthians 5:6-7 says, “Don’t you realize that this sin is like a little batch of yeast that spreads through the whole batch of dough? Get rid of the old “yeast”…” First, there is the sacrifice of the lamb (Christ), and next, you get rid of the yeast (sin). Romans 6:18 tells us, “Now you are free from your slavery to sin, and you have become slaves to righteous living.”
Feast of Firstfruits or Harvest (Then)
In the book of Leviticus, we learn about the next feast up for celebration – the Feast of Firstfruits. Verse 23:9-11 says, “When you enter the land I am giving you and you harvest its first crops, bring the priest a bundle of grain from the first cutting of your grain harvest. On the day after the Sabbath, the priest will lift it up before the LORD so it may be accepted on your behalf.” This festival was celebrated and thought of as a thanksgiving to God for the crops.
At first, it was hard for me to see how the resurrection correlated with the Feast of Firstfruits. Upon further study of the scriptures it became clear to me how it was fulfilled through Christ. 1 Corinthians 15:20-22 reads, “But in fact, Christ has been raised from the dead. He is the first of a great harvest of all who have died. So you see, just as death came into the world through a man, now the resurrection from the dead has begun through another man. Just as everyone dies because we all belong to Adam, everyone who belongs to Christ will be given new life. However, there is an order to this resurrection: Christ was raised as the first of the harvest; then all who belong to Christ will be raised when he comes back.
The final Spring feast is Pentecost. In Lev 23:15-16 we read, “From the day after the Sabbath – the day you bring the bundle of grain to be lifted up as a special offering-count off seven full weeks. Keep counting until the day after the seventh Sabbath, fifty days later. Then present an offering of new grain to the Lord.” God was specific about the length of time that we are to observe this festival. The fifty days carried a much deeper significance that would later be revealed in the book of Acts.
Acts 1:3 tells us this, “During the forty days after His crucifixion, He (Jesus) appeared to the apostles from time to time, and He proved to them in many ways that He was actually alive. And He talked to them about the Kingdom of God.” After the forty days, Jesus ascended into heaven. If we pick up in Acts 2:1 (ten days later) we read, “On the day of Pentecost all the believers were meeting together in one place. Suddenly, there was a sound from heaven like the roaring of a mighty windstorm, and it filled the house where they were sitting. Then, what looked like flames or tongues of fire appeared and settled on each of them. Everyone present was filled with the Holy Spirit and began speaking in other languages, as the Holy Spirit gave them this ability.” Pentecost today is known as the time when, just as Jesus had promised in Acts 1:8, the Holy Spirit was sent and received by His followers.
As with everything that God does, His redemptive plan is perfect. 1 Corinthians 5:8 reminds us, “So let us celebrate the festival, not with the old bread of wickedness and evil, but with the new bread of sincerity and truth.”
Because it is impossible to fit all of the information about the Feasts into one article, I encourage those of you who are interested in learning about the Feasts of the Lord to continue on in your own research. There are many books available regarding the Feasts and Seasons of the Messiah. Many of the amazing prophecies about Jesus Christ are intricately interlaced into the Feasts of the Old Testament. If you are a believer who still has some questions about some of the words or actions of Jesus, I believe learning more about the Feasts could give you a completely new understanding about His life, death, resurrection and even His Second Coming. What better time to learn more about the Feasts than now?
This season we give thanks; let us repent and seek to do His perfect will in our lives. I pray that this season fills you with His abundant love and life.