Feasts of the Lord
Then never let anyone criticize you for what you eat or drink, or about observance of annual festivals, […]. These are only a shadow of what was coming; the reality is the body of Christ.
Altars and feasts in the Old Testament were “thank you reminders” that God commanded the Jews observe so that they would recall and savor His protection, provision and care. The seven annual feasts of the Old Testament were not only reminders of God’s Hand on Israel during Old Testament history, but the feasts were prophetic pictures of God’s future plan from the sacrifice of Christ on the cross through His creation of a new heaven and a new earth.
The Passover (Pesech) signified the redemption of Israel from Egyptian slavery and protection from the Angel of Death. It was celebrated by killing and eating a lamb or kid. Parents took the time to teach their children about their own history and culture.
Exodus 12:25-27: “When you arrive in the land the LORD has promised to give you, you will continue to celebrate this festival. Then your children will ask, ‘What does all this mean? What is this ceremony about?’ And you will reply, ‘It is the celebration of the LORD’s Passover, for he passed over the homes of the Israelites in Egypt. And though he killed the Egyptians, he spared our families and did not destroy us.’
It was the last legitimate Old Covenant Passover sacrifice.
The Feast of Unleavened Bread (Hag Hamatzot) signified Israel’s sanctification. They could not eat leavened bread for seven days. The picture of this feast was a reminder that God had redeemed Israel out of Egypt in haste to be “holy” or “separate.” There were designated daily offerings during the feast of unleavened bread. The picture in the New Testament was the Last Supper, the body of Christ broken for sinful man.
Luke 22:19-20:“Then he took a loaf of bread; and when he had thanked God for it, he broke it in pieces and gave it to the disciples, saying, “This is my body, given for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” After supper he took another cup of wine and said, “This wine is the token of God’s new covenant to save you — an agreement sealed with the blood I will pour out for you.”
The Feast of First Fruits (Yom Habikkurim) was celebrated on the first Sabbath after Passover (Resurrection Sunday). The Jews presented a sheaf of the first barley harvest as a wave offering; and made a burnt offering and a grain offering. They recognized the redemption of the first-born in Egypt and recognizing God’s bounty in the Promised Land.
1 Corinthians 15:20-24: “But Christ has indeed been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. For since death came through a man, the resurrection of the dead comes also through a man. For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive. But each in his own turn: Christ, the firstfruits; then, when he comes, those who belong to him.
The Feast of Weeks, or Feast of the Harvest (Shavuot) is also called Pentecost in the Greek. It was observed because it signified the origination of Israel as the covenant people of Yahweh. During Old Testament times, it was a festival of joy, and offerings included the firstfruits of the wheat harvest. The Israelites were reminded of the giving of the Law at Sinai 50 days after crossing the Red Sea and thanked God for His blessings. Pentecost, fifty days after Resurrection Sunday, was the birth of the New Testament church.
Acts 2:38-41: “Peter replied, ‘Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. The promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off — for all whom the Lord our God will call.’ With many other words he warned them; and he pleaded with them, ‘Save yourselves from this corrupt generation.’ Those who accepted his message were baptized, and about three thousand were added to their number that day.”
The Feast of Trumpets (Rosh Hashana) was the beginning of the civil year. The feast signified the calling of Israel to judgment. The Jews held a sacred assembly and a day of rest commemorated with trumpet blasts and sacrifices. Israel presented itself before the Lord for his favor. The feast was a shadow of the second coming of Christ.
1 Corinthians 15:51-53: “We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed—in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed.”
The Feast of Atonement (Yom Kippur) signified the atonement of God’s covenant people. The day of atonement was a day of rest, fasting and sacrifices of atonement for priests and God’s people and atonement for the tabernacle and altar. Atonement was all about cleansing from sin and the purification of the people, priests and Holy Place. Many scholars believe it is a picture of the Great Judgment.
Hebrews 10:19-23 “Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way opened for us through the curtain, that is, his body, and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near to God with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water.”
The Feast of Tabernacles or Booths (Sukkoth) signified God’s presence with His Covenant people and looked forward to the coming of the Messiah. In the Old Testament, it was week of celebration for the fruit harvest (grapes & olives) and God’s people spent the feast living in booths and offering sacrifices. The Feast memorializes the giving of the Tabernacle and allows the Jews to give thanks for the productivity of the land. The Feast of Tabernacles is the New Testament of a new heaven and earth where Christ will dwell with His people.
Revelation 21:1-3: “Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea. I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Now the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them.”
The Jews celebrated other feasts like New Moon, Hanukkah and Purim, but the seven annual feasts were powerful symbols of God’s Hand among His children.
(With your Child)
Have a “feast of booths” picnic with your child. Talk about how God provided manna in the desert and how the Isaraelites had honey crackers everyday. Have your child prepare their favorite foods for the picnic and read the story of the wilderness journey from a children’s Bible story book. Thank God for His care.
(With your Teen)
Celebrate the Lord’s Supper with your family. Talk about the moment you received Christ. Have a time of private confession of sins, and then partake of the elements together. Mention one or two ways your life has changed since you became God’s child.
(With Spouse or a Friend)
What does it do to your heart to know that God’s ultimate plan, the culmination of all of history, was to “tabernacle” or dwell with you for eternity? How does it make you feel to know that someone would want to love you like that? Can you meet the aloneness needs of someone else this week? Can you spend time thanking God for His gift of atonement and forgiveness?