By Jim Huskins
All cultures have festivals, feasts, and special days. Children of God are blessed with a number of events that the Bible describes as “God’s own” days. These Biblical celebrations are more than marvelous opportunities to experience God’s presence. They are also powerful, prophetic shadow pictures that point directly to our Messiah.
The Bible gives extensive coverage to these occasions. In Hebrew, they are called Moedim. That word means “appointed times.” In Leviticus 23 and other places, God instructs His people to gather in His presence for special events seven times each year: four in the spring and three in the fall. The Spring Feasts are Passover, Unleavened Bread, First Fruits, and Feast of Weeks. Each of them points to Jesus. As a child, I was confused by the notion of the year beginning in the dead of winter. I thought that the year should begin in Spring when winter’s grip is broken. God’s calendar starts in Spring. He calls the first month of each year Aviv which now means spring in Hebrew. On the fourteenth day of that month, at twilight, He instructs His people to celebrate Passover. The Hebrew term is Pesach.
Passover commemorates God’s final act of delivering His people from Egyptian slavery. Pharaoh eventually allowed Israel to leave because of the death of the firstborn son of every family in Egypt. The only people who escaped this slaughter were those who sacrificed an unblemished lamb and sprinkled its blood on their home’s doorposts and lintel. Egyptian slavery is a type or shadow of the bondage of sin. Israel was redeemed from its captivity by the sacrifice of a perfect and innocent lamb. God gave us Passover to remind us that He has delivered us from bondage. It also promises that He will deliver us from ultimate bondage.
The connection between Passover and Jesus is undeniable. “Cleanse out the old leaven that you may be a new lump, as you really are unleavened. For Christ, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed.” (1 Corinthians 5:7)
CHRIST IS OUR PASSOVER LAMB! Those words should be shouted from every rooftop. We who were hopelessly bound to the slavery of sin have been set free because a perfect Lamb died in our place. When John the Immerser saw Jesus of Nazareth, he proclaimed: “Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.” (John 1:29)
Immediately following Passover comes the Feast of Unleavened Bread. Leviticus 23:6 says, “And on the fifteenth day of the same month is the Feast of Unleavened Bread to the LORD; for seven days you shall eat unleavened bread.” In scripture, leaven represents sin or false doctrine. Once leaven is introduced to a lump of dough, it spreads until it takes over. In 1 Corinthians 5:7, Paul prefaces his assertion that Christ is our Passover Lamb by admonishing us to purge the leaven of sin from our lives.
The Israelites were commanded to eat the Passover lamb with bitter herbs and unleavened bread or matzah. They left Egypt in such haste that they did not have time to allow the dough to rise. The seven-day Feast of Matzot celebrates the lives of those who intentionally turn away from the influence of sin. It also reminds us that only our Messiah is able to fully remove the power and corruption of sin. It is fascinating that Orthodox Jews, who deny that Jesus is Messiah, eat matzah that is pierced and marked with stripes.
The third Spring Feast, First Fruits, always falls on the first Sunday after Passover. On that day, the High Priest offered to God a sheaf from the first of the year’s barley harvest. No one was allowed to eat from the new grain until after that sheaf was presented.
The symbolism here is powerful. From the beginning, God planned to redeem us from our sin through the perfect sacrifice of His Son. That redemption makes possible our resurrection to eternal bodies. Jesus is the “first fruit” of the resurrection. He is proof that God’s promises are real.
After First Fruits, we are instructed to count seven weeks and then celebrate the Feast of Weeks or Shavuot. The Greek language refers to this event as Pentecost. Shavuot celebrates the giving of God’s divine instructions for living at Sinai. It is also the event God later used to pour out His Holy Spirit on Jesus’ followers. The Spirit empowers us to fulfill the Great Commission. In the process of “making disciples of all nations,” we flesh out God’s oft-stated promise to bring the Gentiles into His family, Israel, through the Messiah.
The Spring Feasts are interwoven. First comes salvation through blood sacrifice. Then comes the unleavened bread of repentance and righteousness. Faith in Jesus and turning from sin lead to new lives characterized by obedience and empowered by God’s Holy Spirit. In His first coming, Jesus fulfilled and revealed the purpose of all four Spring Feasts. When He comes again, He will do the same for Feast of Trumpets, Day of Atonement, and Feast of Tabernacles.
Most Christians dismiss the Moedim as “feasts of the Jews.” The Bible calls them “God’s appointed times.” The Jews are only one tribe. We no longer require animal sacrifice to atone for sin. We no longer have the Temple or the priesthood. Modern celebrations of Passover and the other feasts are memorials, not reenactments.
But God says that His Moedim is for all generations. He never changes. We who want nothing more than to lead lives that honor Him should decide whether we will observe His Appointed Times or continue to take part in events that celebrate pagan idols. Joshua’s imperative is still vital: “Choose this day whom you shall serve.”
Obedient Heart Fellowship believes that the entire Bible is both true and relevant. We accept salvation by grace through faith in Jesus, and we attempt to love and serve Him by keeping his commandments. See Revelation 14:12. firstname.lastname@example.org
Jim & Beverly Huskins are members of Obedient Heart Fellowship. You can read more good Christian news from Jim HERE.