Doctrine of Seven Feasts of Israel

January 28, 2011

Doctrine of the 7 Feasts of Israel
Definition and Description
The 23rd chapter of the book of Leviticus gives us an account of the 7 Great Feasts of the Lord. They were a prophecy and foreshadowing of future events, part of which have been fulfilled, and part are yet to be. They are the “shadow of things to come,” of which Christ is the “body” or substance (Col. 2:16-17). They were “holy convocations” of the people. They were instituted by the Lord. The people had no say in the matter. God promised that if the males went up at the appointed time to Jerusalem to keep these Feasts, He would look after their families. When the people became legalistic and arrogant, the Lord said, “I hate your new moons and your appointed feasts; they have become a burden to Me. I am weary of bearing them” (Isa. 1:14). Therefore Jesus called them the “feasts of the Jews,” rather than the “feasts of the Lord.”
The “feasts of the Lord” are 7 in number. If we include the Sabbath there are 8. But the Sabbath stands by itself. It was to be observed “weekly,” the other feasts “annually.” The Sabbath was to be observed at “home,” the other feasts at “Jerusalem.” The 7 Feasts may be divided into 2 sections of 4 and 3. The 1st section includes the following feasts: (1) Passover (2) Unleavened Bread (3) First-Fruits (4) Pentecost. Then there was an interval of 4 months followed by the 2nd section includes the following feasts: (1) Trumpets (2) Atonement (3) Tabernacles. The 3 Great Festivals were the following: (1) Passover (2) Pentecost (3) Tabernacles. They extended from the 14th day of the 1st month (Nisan) to the 22nd day of the 7th month Tishri or Ethanim. These 7 Feasts were given to only given to Israel to be observed and not the Church. They do however dispensational implications since they mark God’s timetable with reference to human history. Each of these 7 Feasts were designed in eternity past to be literally fulfilled by our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. They speak of Lord Jesus Christ’s intervention into human history. The following Feasts were literally fulfilled by the Lord Jesus Christ during the dispensation of the hypostatic union: (1) Passover: His voluntary substitutionary spiritual death on the cross in April of 30 A.D. (2) Unleavened Bread: His impeccability as a Person. (3) Pentecost was literally fulfilled when the Baptism of the Spirit took place in June of 30 A.D.which marked the beginning of the Church Age. The following Feasts are eschatological in nature and thus have yet to be literally fulfilled: (1) Trumpets: Rapture or exit-resurrection of the Church terminating the Church Age. (2) Atonement: 2nd Advent of Christ ending the Tribulation dispensation. (3) Tabernacles: Millennial Reign of Christ on planet earth.
Hebrew vocabulary: (1) Miqra (mik-rah) (noun), “convocations, gatherings.” (2) Pesach (peh’sagh) (noun), “passover.” (3) Matstsah (matz-tzah) (noun), “unleavened bread.” (4) Reshith (reh-sheeth) (noun), firstfruits, beginning, choice.” (5) Chamishshim (ghamish-sheem) (noun), “fifty.” (6) Teruah (t’roo-gah) (noun), “a blowing of trumpets.” (7) Kippur (kip-poo-reem) (noun), “atonement.” (8) Sukkah (sook-kah) (noun), “tabernacles, booths.”
Greek vocabulary: (1) Heorte (noun), “feast, festival.” (2) Pascha (noun), “passover.” (3) Azumos (adjective), “unleavened.” (4) Aparche (noun), “firstfruit.” (5) Pentekoste (noun), “Pentecost.” (6) Salpinx (noun), “trumpet.” (7) Hilasmos (noun), “propitiation.” (8) Skenopegia (noun), “setting up tents, Feast of Tabernacles”
Passover: Leviticus 23:4-5; 1 Corinthians 5:7; Unleavened Bread: Leviticus 23:6-8; 1 Corinthians 5:7-8; First Fruits: Leviticus 23:9-14; 1 Corinthians 15:23; Pentecost: Leviticus 23:15-22; Acts 2:1-4; Trumpets: Leviticus 23:23-25; 1 Corinthians 15:52; Day of Atonement: Leviticus 23:26-32; 1 John 2:2; Tabernacles: Leviticus 23:33-44; John 7:2.
Passover and the feast of Unleavened Bread as a unit constituted the most important of the 3 great annual feasts or festivals of Israel. It was indifferently called the feast of the Passover and the feast of Unleavened Bread, but where the object was to mark the distinction between the Passover as a sacrifice and as a feast following the sacrifice, the latter was designated the feast of Unleavened Bread (Lev. 23:5-6). The Passover is documented in Exodus 12 and Leviticus 23. The Hebrew word pesah (from pasah, to “leap over,” figuratively to “spare, show mercy”) denotes: (1) an overstepping (2) the paschal sacrifice by virtue of which the passing over was effected (Ex. 12:21, 27, 48; 2 Chron. 30:15). The paschal meal was on the evening of the 14th day of Nisan (post-exilic; Abib, exilic), and the 7 days following are called the Feast of Unleavened Bread (Lev. 23:5-6)., hence the expression “the morrow of the Passover” for the 15th day of Nisan (Num. 33:3; Josh. 5:11). The whole feast, including the paschal eve, is called the festival of Unleavened Bread (Ex. 23:15; Lev. 23:6; Ezra 6:22; Luke 22:1, 7; Acts 12:3; 20:6); but the simple name “Passover” (Hebrew: pesah) is the one commonly used by the Jews to the present day for the festival of Unleavened Bread (2 Chron. 30:15; 35:1, 11; Mark 14:1; Greek: pascha).
The Passover commemorated the final plague in Egypt in which the 1st born of the Egyptians died, but the Israelites were spared by the blood on the doorposts and lintel (Ex. 12:11, 21, 27, 43, 48). Thereafter the event was observed as a feast to the Lord (12:14). The 2nd Passover was observed in the wilderness of Sinai (Num. 9:1-5). The Passover marked the birth of Israel as a Client Nation to God (Ex. 12:2) and was to be observed by them forever as a memorial. It was observed in the 1st month (Abib; Deut. 16:1; the 1st month is called Nisan in post-exilic times: Neh. 2:1; Esth. 3:7) on the 14th day at twilight between 3-6pm (Lev. 23:5). The head of every Jewish family chose a male lamb without blemish on the 10th Abib (Ex. 12:3l 1 Pet. 1:18-19) and killing it on the 14th Abib (12:6) with none of its bones broken (literally fulfilled at the cross by Christ).
The lamb typified the humanity of Christ in hypostatic union Who was proclaimed by John the Baptist as “the lamb of God” (John 1:29). The blood was to be sprinkled on the doorposts and lintel of the house with hyssop (typifying the sinner being cleansed from sin through faith alone in Christ alone since hyssop was a symbol of purification), so that when the Lord passed over that night and saw the blood He would spare the 1st born in the house. The lamb was to be roasted and served up whole (portraying the perfect obedience of Christ to the Father’s plan for the Incarnation which was the cross), and eaten with unleavened bread (typifying the impeccability of the humanity of Christ in hypostatic union) and bitter herbs (portraying the bitterness of slavery in Egypt), and none of it left until the morning. Those who ate of it were to do so with their loins girded, their shoes on their feet, and their staff in their hand, ready to leave Egypt (12:8-11). Neither the uncircumcised person nor the hired servant could eat (Ex. 12:48).
The shedding of the blood of the lamb typified the substitutionary spiritual death of the humanity of Christ which was to take place approximately 1400 years later at Calvary. The application of the blood of the animal to the doorposts and lintel demonstrated the Jew’s faith in the yet future work of the coming Messiah on the cross thus portraying faith alone in Christ alone. The unblemished lamb typified the impeccability of the humanity of Christ in hypostatic union. The historical Personage of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ is our literal Passover (1 Cor. 5:7). Egypt typified the cosmic system of Satan and eschatologically, the world during the Tribulation period. This night was followed by 7 days (hag hammassot) in which unleavened bread was eaten (Ex. 34:18-19; Lev. 23:6; cf. Ex. 12:31-34). For this reason the NT speaks of the entire season as the “days of unleavened bread” (Acts 12:3; Luke 22:1). The unleavened bread typifies the impeccability of the humanity of Christ in hypostatic union. The Passover was given to Israel by the Lord under the Ritual Plan of God and is not applicable here in the Church where the only ritual to be observed is the Lord’s Supper which is derived from the Passover meal.
Unleavened Bread
The Feast of Unleavened Bread began on the day after the Passover, and continued for 7 days (Lev. 23:6-8). The lamb was slain on the 14th day at sunset, which ended the day. The Feast of Unleavened Bread began immediately after sunset, which was the beginning of the 15th day of Nisan. Thus there was no interval between them. The feast of Unleavened Bread immediately followed the Passover and lasted 7 days, from the 15th to the 20th Nisan (or Abib). On each of those days, after the morning sacrifice, a
sacrifice in connection with the feast was presented; unleavened bread alone was eaten (Ex. 12:15-20; 13:6-7; Deut. 16:3-8).
The usual morning and evening sacrifices, with their grain and drink offerings. Two young bulls, one ram, seven lambs of the 1st year, with their grain and drink offerings. These were presented after the morning sacrifice (Num. 28:19-24). The 1st and 7th days of the feast were celebrated by a holy convocation and resting from work, with the exception of preparing food. On the intervening days work might be carried on unless the weekly Sabbath fell on one of them, in which case the full strictness of Sabbath-keeping was observed, and the special feast sacrifice was not presented until after the Sabbath offering.
On the 2nd feast day (16th Nisan) the 1st sheaf of the new harvest (barley) was symbolically offering to the Lord by waving-not burning on the altar-accompanied with a lamb of the 1st year for a burnt offering, with its grain and drink offerings. Previous to this offering neither bread nor roasted grain of the new harvest was allowed to be eaten (Lev. 23:9-14). Those attending presented freewill, burnt, and holy offerings of sheep and oxen (Ex. 23:15, 19; Deut. 16:2), and sacrificial meals were eaten.
The feast closed on the 21st, with rest from work and a holy convocation. Scripture records that the Passover was kept on the evening before the Israelites left Egypt (Ex. 12:28), the 2nd year after the Exodus (Num. 9:1-5), and then not again until they entered Canaan (Ex. 13:5; Josh. 5:10). Only 3 instances are recorded in which the Passover was celebrated between the entrance into the Promise Land and the Babylonian captivity, namely, under Solomon (2 Chron. 8:13), under Hezekiah when he restored the national worship (30:15), and under Josiah (2 Kings 23:21; 2 Chron. 35:1-19). But the inference that the Passover was celebrated only on those occasions seems the less warranted, that in later times it was so punctually and universally observed.
After the return of the Jews from captivity the celebration of the Passover, like that of other institutions, became more regular and systematic; and its laws, rites, manners, and customs have been faithfully transmitted to us. These were the same as those in the time of Christ and His apostles, and therefore, of the utmost importance and interest to us in understanding the NT. The Lord Jesus Christ was crucified on the Feast of Unleavened Bread (Mark 14; Luke 22). Leaven in the Bible portrays evil (1 Cor. 5:6; Gal. 5:9). There was no evil present in the humanity of Christ in hypostatic union because He remained impeccable even while receiving the imputation and judgment for our sins. The application of the Feast of Unleavened Bread for us here in the Church Age is that it portrays experiential sanctification (John 17:17; 1 Cor. 5:6-9).
The Passover took place on the 14th day of the month, the Feast of Unleavened Bread on the next day, which was the Sabbath, and the following day, which was the day after the Sabbath, the Feast of Fruitfruits was to be celebrated. This feast could not be observed until Israel got out of the wilderness and into the Promised Land. When they had sowed their grain in the land, they were to watch for the first heading of the barley. When they would see a stalk here and there, they would cut each one down and put them together to make a sheaf. This was then brought to the tabernacle, and the priest would offer it to the Lord. It was to be followed by a burnt, meat and drink offering but no sin-offering.
The burnt offering was to be a male lamb without blemish of the 1st year which portrays the impeccable humanity of Christ in hypostatic union (1 Pet. 1:18-19). This was done on the 1st day of the week or Sunday which is the day after the Sabbath which occured on Saturday. This is so important because Christ is called the firstfruits (1 Cor. 15:20). The time of His resurrection is clearly stated in Matthew 28:1. The Feast of First-Fruits is therefore a type and foreshadowing of the resurrection of Christ. Christ is the literal first-fruits. He arose on the morning after the Sabbath on the 1st day of the week. He was the literal corn of wheat buried in the ground (John 12:24). Our Lord was buried in Joseph’s tomb and His resurrection was the first-fruits of the harvest which is the Church who will be given resurrection bodies at the Rapture (1 Cor. 15:23). When the priest on the day of Christ’s resurrection waved the sheaf of First-Fruits in Herod’s Temple, it was before a veil that was torn from top to bottom by the omnipotence of God. It was but an empty form, for the Substance (impeccable humanity of Christ) had come and the shadow had passed away and the empty tomb of Joseph of Arimethea proclaimed that the Great First-Fruits Sheaf had been reaped and waved in the Heavenly Temple. There will be no Feast of First Fruits in the Millennium because it has been literally fulfilled by the impeccable humanity of Christ in hypostatic union.
Fifty days after the Feast of Passover, the Feast of Pentecost was observed. This was literally fulfilled on the day of Pentecost in the city of Jerusalem in June of 30 A.D. The Church Age began on the day of Pentecost. The space between the feast of Passover and the day of Pentecost was 50 days. Pentecost is also called the Feast of Weeks (Ex. 34:22; Deut. 16:10, 16; 2 Chron. 8:13). It was called this because it was celebrated 7 complete weeks, or 50 days, after the Passover (Lev. 23:15-16). It was also called the Feast of the Harvest (Ex. 23:16) because it concluded the harvest of the latter grains. Pentecost was also known as the day of the first fruits (Num. 28:26) because the 1st loaves made from the new grain were then offered on the altar (Lev. 23:17). Pentecost began with the offering of the First-Fruits of the Barley Harvest and ended with the ingathering of the Wheat Harvest. The 1st day of the Feast of the First-Fruits, the Last Day was the Feast of Pentecost. Only the 1st and Last day were celebrated. At the Feast of Pentecost a new Meat offering was to be offered before the Lord which depicts the Church as something new, a mystery. It was called new because it must be of grain from the new harvest. This also speaks of the Church.
At the Feast of First-Fruits stalks of grain were to be offered and waved, but at the Feast of Pentecost the grain was to ground and made into flour, from which 2 loaves were to be baked with leaven. The 2 loaves represent the 2 classes of people that were to form the Church: (1) Jews (2) Gentiles. These believers are not perfect, even though saved, that imperfection is represented by the leaven. A burnt offering of 7 lambs without blemish of the 1st year, 1 young bullock and 2 rams were to be offered with the wave loaves as was also meat and drink offerings for a sweet aroma to the Lord. These were to be followed by a sin offering of a kid of the goats depicting rebound and 2 lambs of the 1st year for peace offering portraying reconciliation. These are loaves and not stalks of grain reprensent Equal Privilege and Equal Opportunity that each member of the Church has to execute the Plan of God and glorify God the Father in 2 categories: (1) Conveyance of Escrow Blessings for both time and eternity. (2) Witnesses for the Prosecution in the rebuttal phase of Satan’s appeal trial.
The Feast of Pentecost had its literal fulfillment in June of 30 A.D. in the city of Jerusalem. The 1st occurrence of the Baptism of the Spirit took place on that day and continues throughout the Church Age placing the believer in union and permenantly identifying him with Christ in His death, burial and resurrection (1 Cor. 12:13). Between the Feast of Pentecost and the Feast of Trumpets there was an interval of 4 months during which the Harvest and Vintage were gathered in. There was no convocation of the people during those busy months in the fields. This long interval typifies the present dispensation in which the Holy Spirit is gathering out from the world the Church or the royal family of God. The Feast of Trumpets depicts the end of the Church Age and the beginning of the Tribulation period when Israel will become a Client nation to God again.
The Feast of Trumpets was observed on the 1st day of the 7th month and ushered in the 2nd series of the set feasts. It fell on a Sabbath day, at the time of the New Moon, and ushered in the Jewish New Year. It was followed by the Day of Atonement on the 10th day of the month, a Sabbath day, and ended on the 22nd day of the month, which was also a Sabbath day. It was ushered in with the blowing of trumpets. During the wilderness wandering of Israel 2 silver trumpets made of the atonement money of the people were blown for the calling of the Assembly, and for the journeyings of the camps (Num. 1:10). The fact that the Feast of Trumpets comes immediately at the close of the interval between the 2 series of set feasts is significant in that it represents 2 things that are to happen. (1) The end of the Church Age at the Rapture. (2) Beginning of the Tribulation period. A trumpet will be blown at the Rapture of exit-resurrection of the Church (1 Cor. 15:51-52; 1 Thess. 4:16).
This last trumpet is not the last of the 7 trumpets that sound in the book of Revelation since the 7 trumpets in Revelation do not sound until the middle of Daniel’s 70th week. The Tribulation last for 7 years and is divided into 2 3 1/2 year sections. The 1st 3 1/2 year period will be marked by a false pseudo peace and prosperity in the world under the rulership of the anti-christ. The last 3 1/3 year period will be a time of war and misery. The Tribulation period is Daniel’s 70 week which will be a time of wrath. The
Church is removed from the earth before this period begins (1 Thess. 1:10). Trumpets speak of judgment and war in the Scriptures. The Tribulation period will be a 7 year period of God’s judgment upon a Christ rejecting world as well as a time of war. Trumpets in the ancient world were used to call armies to battle. The trumpet that will be blown by the arch-angel and will not only take the Church out of the world but will mark the beginning of the worst time in human history which will eventuate in the Armageddon Campaign. The Tribulation period is the worst period in all of human history and will last for 7 years culminating in the 2nd Advent of Christ.
Day of Atonement
Yom Kippur or the Day of Atonement was the day appointed for a yearly, general and perfect expiation for all the sins and uncleanness that might remain, despite the regular sacrifices. It was Israel’s annual cleansing from sin. Leviticus 16:1-34 gives the full account of this day along with its services. The Levitcal ritual was a constant reminder that “the Law…can never by the same sacrifices year by year, which they offer continually, make perfect those who draw near” (Heb. 10:1).
Even with the most scrupulous observance of the prescribed ordinances many sins and defilements would still remain unacknowledged and therefore without expiation. This want was met by the appointment of a yearly, general, and perfect expiation of all the sins and uncleanness that had remained unatoned for and uncleansed in the course of the year (Lev. 16:33). Thus on the day of Atonement Israel was reconciled to Yahweh, which was necessary before the Feast of Tabernacles which prefigured the ingathering of the nations or the Millennium dispensation. In connection with this point it may also be well to remember that the Jubilee year was always proclaimed on the Day of Atonement (Lev. 25:9). The 10th day of the 7th month, or Tishri (October), and the 5th of Atonement (Lev. 16:1-34; Num. 29:7-11). The day was a high Sabbath in which no work was performed. All the people were to afflict their souls and to fast from the evening of the 9th to the evening of the 10th under penalty of being cut off from Israel (Lev. 23:27-32). Leviticus 16:5-28 and Numbers 29:7-11 indicate that the sacrifices for the day were as follows: (1) Ordinary morning sacrifice. (2) Expiatory sacrifices for the priesthood, namely, a young bull. (3) The sin offering for the people, a kid from the goats for Yahweh and another for Azazel. (4) The burnt offering of the priests and people and with them, another sin offering. (5) The ordinary evening sacrifice.
If the day of Atonement fell on a Sabbath, the ordinary Sabbath sacrifices were offered besides all these. The day of Atonement’s typical meaning was fulfilled in Christ. He is our Great High Priest, Who instead of offering a sin offering for Himself, offered Himself as a sin offering for us (Heb. 9:11-14). But the fact that the Day of Atonement is placed between the Feast of Trumpets which we have seen will be literally fulfilled by Christ at the Rapture of the Church, and the Feast of Tabernacles which is a type of Israel’s Millennial rest implies that it typifies the 2nd Advent of Christ. The Day of Atonement will therefore be literally fulfilled by the glorified resurrected incarnate Son of God at the 2nd Advent (Zech. 12:7-14; 14:4; Matt. 24:29-31; Rev. 19). There will be a national Day of Atonement or mourning in Israel at the 2nd Advent of Christ (Zech. 12:9-14; 13:1).
The Feast of Tabernacles is the 3rd of the great annual feasts. The other 2 being Passover and Pentecost. It is also called in the Scriptures the festival of Tents (Hebrew: hag hassukkot, “Feast of Booths,” 2 Chron. 8:13; Ezra 3:4; Zech. 14:16, 18-19; Greek: skenopegia, John 7:2, “Feast of Booths”) was so called because the Israelites were commanded to live in booths during its continuance (Lev. 23:43). It was also called the feast of Ingathering (Hebrew: hag ha’asip, Ex. 23:16, “Feast of the Harvest”; 34:22), because it was held after the ingathering of the harvest and fruits. The Feast of Tabernacles was also called the festival of Jehovah (Hebrew: hag YHWH, Lev. 23:39, “feast of the Lord”) or simply the festival (1 Kings 8:2; 2 Chron. 5:3, “the feast”), because it was the most important or well known. The principal documentation for this feast are as follows: (1) Exodus 23:16 (2) Leviticus 23:34-36 (3) Leviticus 39:43 (4) Deuteronomy 16:13-15 (5) Deuteronomy 31:10-13 (6) Nehemiah 8.
This was the last of the 7 Feasts. It was a celebration to be observed at the end of the harvest and was continued 7 days (Deut. 16:13). The people during the feast were to dwell in booths made of the branches of palm trees and willows from the brook which would remind them of the palm trees of Elim, and the Willows of Babylon (Psa. 137:1-9). The Feast of Tabernacles typifies the Millennium. What the Sabbath is
to the week, a day of rest; so the 7th month to the other 6 months of the 7th month cycle, typifies a period of rest-the Sabbath rest of the Millennial dispensation in relation to the other 6 thousand years of the world’s work day history. Like the Lord’s Supper is to us here in the Church Age, a memorial looking back to the Person and Work of Christ on the cross and forward to the 2nd Advent so the Feast of Tabernacles will be a memorial to Israel looking back to Egypt and forward to the Millennium. While the Feast of Tabernacles began on the Sabbath and continued 7 days, it was to be followed by a Sabbath (Lev. 23:39). This Sabbath on the 8th day points to the Eternal State that follows the Millennium and the termination of human history when the Lord will create a New Heavens and a New Earth.