Leviticus 23: Feasts & Holy Days

The 7 feasts of the old testament are crucial to understanding God's plan for us and Jesus' importance. The fulfillment of each feast (which was a shadow of things to come) is discussed.

Introduction

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I found Leviticus 23 to be the most profound section of the book, as it is most related to us today. The verses here speak of the holy days, also know as the feast days, which God set aside as annual sabbaths the Israelites were required to keep. These are the only days God specifies to be celebrated throughout the Bible. While we are not obligated to keep the feast days today, it is important to understand the significance of each feast as well as the reason why we aren’t expected to keep the feast today.
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Spring Feasts

Passover

The Passover is probably the most well known holy day of the Old Testament. The Passover occurred on the 14th of Nisan (March/April) and commemorates God bringing the Israelites out of Egypt, along with protecting the Israelites from the final plague. Most Christians can easily tell you that Jesus served as the prefect Passover lamb, thus fulfilling the need to sacrifice a lamb each year for the Passover. [1]

Jesus is confirmed as dying on the preparation day for the Feast of Unleavened Bread (Matthew 27:57-66, Mark 15:37-42, Luke 23:54, and John 19:31). Since the first day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread is considered a Sabbath, the day before (Passover) is considered a preparation day, thus we know that Jesus was crucified on the day of the Passover. The timeline will be discussed at length when I get to the Gospels, for this post, however, we just need to confirm that Jesus died on Passover day.

We can parallel Jesus’ gift of salvation (the New Covenant) with God delivering the Israelites from Egypt (the Old Covenant). Throughout the Bible Egypt symbolizes sin and idolatry. God delivered the Israelites from Egypt just as Jesus delivered everyone who accepts Him from sin. The Israelites showed faith and acceptance of God by following His command to paint their doorposts with the blood of the slain passover lamb. In turn, we show faith and acceptance of Jesus by believing in His death and resurrection—often referred to as covering ourselves in the blood of Jesus. (1 John 5:5-6) When the Israelites accepted God and painted their doorposts, their lives were saved. Similarly, when we believe in Jesus and call upon His blood, we receive the gift of eternal life and are saved.
The next day John seeth Jesus coming unto him, and saith, Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world.John 1:29 KJV
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Feast of Unleavened Bread

The Feast of Unleavened Bread followed the Passover from the 15th to 21st of Nisan. This feast was to remind the Israelites of the haste in which they rushed out of Egypt. It included the Day of First Fruits, as well.

We all know that Christ is the Bread of Life. The symbolic nature of his body as unleavened bread is explicitly given during the last supper (just before the Feast of Unleavened Bread began).
I am the living bread which came down from heaven: if any man eat of this bread, he shall live for ever: and the bread that I will give is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world.John 6:51 KJV
Although Lazarus is the first man to be raised from the dead, it is Christ who is raised and lives forever; Lazarus was only temporarily brought back. Since Jesus is still risen and residing in Heaven, He is the first of the resurrected dead that will be called to Heaven. Revelation 20 discusses the resurrection and subsequent judgment for the gift of eternal life as it pertains to the dead. On top of this, Jesus is the only Son of God and thus His firstborn. This is why Jesus is the first fruit of the New Covenant.
But now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the firstfruits of them that slept.1 Corinthians 15:20 KJV
Continuing the parallel of the Old and New Covenants, this feast was about not looking back. The Israelites gathered their belongs with haste and rushed after God, there was no going back for leaven (also noted to be symbolic of sin throughout the Bible[2]). Similarly, when we accept Jesus as our savior, we are to do so with haste, without desiring the sinful behaviors and thoughts of our past. Similarly, the leavened bread provided nourishment for the Israelites until they were completely out of Egyptian territory. Jesus provides nourishment for us until we are out of sin. Top

Feast of Harvests/Feast of Weeks/Pentecost

The next feast is known by 3 different names: Feast of Harvests, Feast of Weeks, or Pentecost. Pentecost occurs 7 weeks after the Passover in the Hebrew month of Sivian (May/June). This feast commemorated the giving of the law. It also contained a day of first fruits for the fall. After Jesus is resurrected, He spends about 40 days ministering. 10 days after His ascension, the Holy Ghost baptizes the Church with new covenant law, on Pentecost. The timeline is confirmed in Acts 2 In the New Testament, we are told that God will write His law in our hearts (this occurs when we receive God into or lives and the Holy Spirit dwells in us).[3][4][5] Fulfillment of this feast stems from being baptized in the law on Pentecost.[6]

Again, in parallel, during the Old Covenant, the law was kept in the tabernacle or temple and relayed to the Israelites through the priests. The Israelites went to the priests with questions of the law and to atone for any sins against the law. Today, we go to Jesus with questions about the law and to repent of any sins we commit.
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Fall Feasts

Feast of Trumpets

The Feast of Trumpets, also known as Rosh Hashanah, occurred on the 1st of Tishri (September/October). This holy day represents the civil new year[7] (as opposed to the symbolic one God set to mark their exodus from Egypt); it was a summoning of repentance and heralding in the month that the Day of Atonement was celebrated. There is a debate as to how this feast will be fulfilled by Christ. Some believe He will not fulfill this feast until the end times.

The purpose of the Feast of Trumpets was to usher in the month of Tishri which also contained both the Day of Atonement and the Feast of Tabernacles. It announced the the coming feasts and readied the people for their celebration. This feast marked the closing phase or the latter phase of the religious traditions of the year.

Many attribute the fulfillment of the Feast of Trumpets to the rapture. Those who believe there will be a mysterious rapture before a 7 year tribulation (the discussion on the lack of Biblical support for this concept is forthcoming) generally assert that Christ will fulfill this feast by heralding in the tribulation with the rapture. Some believe the rapture will occur at the end of all things just before Jesus tosses Satan into the pit, just before the 1000 year reign of Christ. The same concept holds that Christ's entry heralds in the judgment day (a day which is likened to the feast of atonement).[11][12]

Many verses in scripture confirm that Jesus will in fact return with trumpets.
For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first:1 Thessalonians 4:16 KJV
And he shall send his angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they shall gather together his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.Matthew 24:31 KJV
I on the other hand, think the 7 trumpets of Revelation (Revelation 8-11) may be a more accurate fulfillment of the holy day. The Feast of Trumpets called people to repent, it was a final call to worship so to speak. After the trumpets blew they were to begin repenting for the day of atonement. If the trumpets of Jesus' return fulfill the holy day, there really isn't any time for us to repent or change our behavior. Contrarily, if we take the 7 trumpets to be that call to repentance, not only does it usher in Jesus' return, but it acts as a warning that the final day of judgment is coming.

An interesting point for the fulfillment of this feast is that just as the day and hour of Jesus' return is unknown, the day of feast of Trumpets was "unknown" as well.[10] Unlike the other feasts, it fell on the first day of the month. The Israelite calendar is lunar, thus the month changes at the appearance of the new moon. The Israelites would have to watch the sky for the appearance of the new moon to determine when the feast began. Similarly, Jesus instructs us to keep watch for His return.
Watch therefore, for ye know neither the day nor the hour wherein the Son of man cometh.Matthew 25:13 KJV
Some (Preterists) believe this feast was fulfilled in 70ad when the temple was destroyed.[8][9] Since Preterists believe everything in Revelation has already occurred, they interpret the feast as fulfilled in 70ad. I will discuss this view of interpretation in the "Studies" section of the blog as soon as possible (there's so much to talk about when it comes to the Bible, please be patient with me).

Continuing the parallel of Israel's flight from Egypt and our personal journey from sinfulness to salvation, we receive a trumpet call to repentance sometime after when we first believe, when our relationship with God matures to the point we begin to see our sin the way He does.
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Day of Atonement

Also known as Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement is a day of fasting and to make atonement for sins. Jesus will fulfill this feast when He delivers His final judgment. After this day, all sin will be gone, Satan will be punished and our repentance will be complete.[14][15] Another source believes this would fulfilled with Christ on the cross. [13] While I see the connection of redemption from His sacrifice and the Day of Atonement, it sense that the movement of the High Priest (now Jesus) from the holy place (Heaven) to rid the nation of sins relates more to Jesus ending sin in the world during the final judgment. This occurs on a small scale whenever we call on Jesus to forgive us for our sins. Again, Preterists believe this has already occurred.
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Feast of Tabernacles/Feast of Booths/Feast of Ingathering

The holy day known as Sukkoth in Jewish circles, is called the Feast of Tabernacles, Feast of Booths, and Feast of Ingathering interchangeably throughout the Bible. This holy day occurs from the 15th to 21st of Tishri (September/October) commemorates the 40 years the Israelites spent in the wilderness, culminating in a celebration after the cleansing and atonement. Just as God dwelt with the Israelites during that time, Jesus dwelt with the Jews before His crucifixion. He is the Bread of Life (manna) the Rock that quenches spiritual thirst, the Light, and He ushers us into the promised land of Heaven. After the final Day of Atonement (Judgment Day), the Feast of Tabernacles will be fulfilled as we dwell with God in Heaven.[16] This is our entry to "the Promised Land."
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Should We Celebrate the Feast Days?

A major disagreement among believes is whether we should celebrate the feast days or not. Since this post is quite long, I will continue that discussion in the next post.
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Further Reading

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References

  1. Holman Bible Publisher. Holman KJV Study Bible. pg. 216. 2014
  2. Kelley, Ron. "What is Leaven and What Does It Picture?". Life Hope & Truth. 2016
  3. Romans 2:15
  4. Hebrews 8:10
  5. Hebrews 10:16
  6. Phillips, Ron. "Jesus in the Feasts of Israel: Pentecost (Shavuot)". OnceDelivered.net. June 2008
  7. Rich, Tracey R. "Rosh Hashanah". Judaism 101. 2011
  8. "How the Jewish Feasts were Fulfilled". Preterism And Prophesy .2016
  9. Curtis, David B. "Feasts of the Lord - Part 5: The Feast of Trumpets. Berean Bible Church. May 2013
  10. Bell, William. "Did Christ’s Second Coming Happen in 70 AD? But of That Day & Hour". All Things Fulfilled. 2016
  11. Phillips, Ron. Jesus in the Feasts of Israel: Trumpets (Rosh Hashanah). OnceDelivered.net. August 2008
  12. Schneider, Luzius. "Jewish Feasts". February 2000
  13. Phillips, Ron. "Jesus in the Feasts of Israel: The Day of Atonement (Yom Kippur)". OnceDelivered.net. August 2008
  14. "Prophecy of the Seven Jewish Feasts". WaitingForJesus.com.
  15. "Yeshua in the Biblical Feasts!". The Refiner's Fire. 2016
  16. Phillips, Ron. "Jesus in the Feasts of Israel: Tabernacles (Sukkot)". OnceDelivered.net. September 2008

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Author Image Author Image I love reading the Word of God. With prayer God's Word reveals so much: from comfort to temperance, from perspective to affirmation. Digging into the depths of the Word, cross-referencing history, language and time differences, is a passion of mine. In March of 2015 I decided to go back through the Bible doing an in depth study on each section I read. Eventually I decided to share my journal of notes as I partake in this journey. I hope you are blessed by God and inspired to pursue a deeper relationship with Him. I love reading and learning about God, nature, and science. I am interested in how it all connects. The Creator's fingerprints are all over his creation. We can learn so much about Him and how we came to be by exploring the world around us. Join me as I explore the world and draw closer to the One who created it all.
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