Daily Spirit & Word 602:
The Real Reasons For The Harvest Celebrations.
The Seven Jewish Feasts
Thousands of years ago God told the Jews to celebrate the harvest, today we discover the real reasons why He did so.
The Israelite / Jewish year was punctuated by different festivals – these were called “Feasts of the Lord”.
Some festivals were timed to coincide with the changing seasons of the year. They were for reminding God’s chosen people about His amazing provision for them, but they were also a way of enabling the Jews to offer something back to God as a way of thanking Him for the great generosity and grace. There were other festivals in the Jewish year that celebrated some of the great events of Israel’s history: Passover, Tabernacles, Pentecost: these festivals helped the Jews to continually remember all the ways that God Almighty had miraculously intervened to help the chosen people in times of great distress and need.
The Jewish Feasts Are:
Beginning in the spring, the seven Jewish feasts are;
Passover: Reminding the Jews about the night the Angel of Death passed over Egypt and because they had the blood of the lamb painted on the door-posts and lintel of their homes they were saved. Whilst during this last of the Ten Plagues of Egypt the firstborn of the Egyptian children died.
Passover reminds followers of Jesus (God’s One and Only Son) and about how He brought our Salvation from sin.
It was the time when Jesus Christ, the Lamb of God, was offered as an atoning sacrifice for our sins to save us and give us life everlasting. It is on that basis alone that God can justify the ungodly sinner.
Just as the blood of a lamb sprinkled on the doorpost of the Jewish homes caused the Spirit of the Lord to pass over those homes during the last plague on Egypt (Exodus 12), so those who have been covered by the blood of the Lamb will escape the spiritual death and judgement of God. He will judge everyone that rejects Him by sinning: and all have sinned and fallen short of God’s Holy Standards (Rom 3:23). All will receive their due payment for sin (Rom 6:23).
So my friends, of all the Jewish festivals, Passover is the greatest and most important, and so it is with Christians, because at Passover we also remember what happened to Him: What He also taught during His last Passover meal on the earth (Matthew 26:17–27). In passing the bread and the wine Jesus was telling the disciples to eat of His body and drink His blood (not literally, but symbolically), Jesus was presenting Himself as the ultimate Passover Lamb. His blood shed upon the cross is like the blood sprinkled on the doorpost and lintel and only His shed blood can save us from sin.
Unleavened Bread: The day after Passover, the Jews got rid of all yeast from their homes. It was to remind them of their escape from Egypt and the fact that they couldn’t allow the time for the yeast to infect the whole lump of dough. Now for Christians it’s a reminder of how sin can spread in our life. Jesus gave warning about the “Yeast of the Pharisees” (Matthew 16:6). And the Apostle Paul also wrote about how sin can spread in our lives like yeast (1 Corinthians 5:6-8 and Galatians 5:9).
Feast of Firstfruits: After the feast of unleavened bread, Firstfruits was celebrated to remind God’s Chosen People of His provision of the Promised Land: A fertile land flowing with milk and honey. For us as followers of Jesus it’s a reminder of Jesus Christ’s resurrection from the dead: How He is the firstfruits of those who’ve died and one day the promise of our resurrection from the dead to eternal life with Him forever (1 Corinthians 15).
Feast of Weeks: (Pentecost).
The Feast of Weeks was 50 days after the Firstfruits and was to be celebrated the end of the grain harvest (the Greek word Pentecost means “fiftieth”). The main focus of the festival was gratitude to God for His provision.
For followers of Jesus this feast reminds us of the fulfilment of Jesus’ promise to send “another helper” (John 14:16) who would indwell believers and empower them for ministry. Pentecost: Was the Day when this coming of the Holy Spirit 50 days after Jesus’ resurrection from the dead, it was also guaranteed (Ephesians 1:13–14) that the promise of salvation and future resurrection will come to pass. The indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit in every born-again believer is what seals us in Jesus Christ and enables / empowers us to witness to others, He also reveals Jesus and confirms us in our walk with Him. He witnesses with our spirit that we are indeed “joint heirs with Christ” (Romans 8:16–17). It is by the Holy Spirit that we know that God is indeed our Father and we are members of His Holy Family forever. (Romans 8:15).
Feast of Trumpets: This is an amazing Feast for the Jews and for all who follow Christ today.
The Feast of Trumpets was commanded to be held on the first day of the seventh month and was to be a “day of trumpet blast” (Numbers 29:1)
Also in Leviticus 23:23-25.
23 The LORD said to Moses, 24 “Say to the Israelites: ‘On the first day of the seventh month you are to have a day of rest, a sacred assembly commemorated with trumpet blasts. 25 Do no regular work, but present an offering made to the LORD by fire.’ ”
God loved using Trumpets at Important times: Remember how Joshua won the battle of Jericho? The walls came tumbling down; judgement had come and God’s enemies were to be defeated.
God loving heart is always to warn people before He executes His judgment. God warned the people before the Flood, and He warned Niniveh before it was ruined. He warned the Israelites long before they were sent into Exile in Babylon and Syria. The Feast of Trumpets reflects God’s desire to call out to us, to summon His chosen people to come in repentance so that He can save them all from His wrath and anger against sin on the day of His judgement. He warns people today through the proclamation / preaching of the true Gospel of Jesus Christ. God’s love is made clear, that He doesn’t want anyone to perish but all to come to repentance (2 Peter 3:9). See also Matthew 24:31
Feast of Trumpets, in September each year, was to commemorate the end of the Israelite agricultural year..
For the followers of Jesus: The Feast of Trumpets signifies the second coming of the LORD. We see trumpets associated with His second coming in verses like 1 Thessalonians 4:16, “For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first.” Of course, the sounding of the trumpet also indicates the pouring out of God’s wrath on the earth in the book of Revelation. So this feast of Trumpets points toward the coming Day of the Lord.
When God blows His Trumpet next: Those who’ve trusted in Jesus Christ will be taken away to be with their LORD. But those who’ve yet to trust in Jesus will await His coming judgement.
Matthew 24:30-31 30 “At that time the sign of the Son of Man will appear in the sky, and all the nations of the earth will mourn. They will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of the sky, with power and great glory.
31 And he will send his angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather his elect from the four winds, from one end of the heavens to the other.
Day of Atonement: (Yom Kippur) The Day of Atonement occurs just ten days after the Feast of Trumpets. The Day of Atonement was the day the high priest went into the Holy of Holies each year to make an offering for the sins of Israel.
26 The LORD said to Moses,
27 “The tenth day of this seventh month is the Day of Atonement. Hold a sacred assembly and deny yourselves, and present an offering made to the LORD by fire.
28 Do no work on that day, because it is the Day of Atonement, when atonement is made for you before the LORD your God.
29 Anyone who does not deny himself on that day must be cut off from his people.
30 I will destroy from among his people anyone who does any work on that day.
31 You shall do no work at all. This is to be a lasting ordinance for the generations to come, wherever you live.
32 It is a sabbath of rest for you, and you must deny yourselves. From the evening of the ninth day of the month until the following evening you are to observe your sabbath.”
Once a year on the Day of Atonement: The Only Day the High Priest could enter the Holy of Holies (Just once a year). This shows the importance of coming into God’s presence and the seriousness of sin. Two Goats were taken: one to be killed and it’s blood sprinkled on the Ark of the Covenant. The other to be released into the wilderness with the sins of the people upon it’s head. (Leviticus 16:1-34)
The significance of the Atonement Sacrifice for the followers of Jesus Christ today:
The sufficiency and completeness of the sacrifice of Christ is also seen in the two goats.
The blood of the first goat was sprinkled on the ark, ritually appeasing the wrath of God for another year.
The second goat removed the sins of the people into the wilderness where they were forgotten and no longer clung to the people.
Sin is both propitiated (made peace with) and expiated (made amends for) God’s way—only by the sacrifice of Jesus Christ on the cross.
Propitiation is the act of appeasing the wrath of God, while expiation is the act of atoning for sin and removing it from the sinner. Both together are achieved eternally by Christ.
When He sacrificed Himself on the cross, He appeased God’s wrath against sin, taking that wrath upon Himself: “Since we have now been justified by his blood, how much more shall we be saved from God’s wrath through him!” (Romans 5:9).
The removal of sin by the second goat was a living parable of the promise that God would remove our transgressions from us as far as the east is from the west (Psalm 103:12) and that He would remember them no more (Hebrews 8:12; 10:17).
Jews today still celebrate the annual Day of Atonement, which falls on different days each year in September-October, traditionally observing this holy day with a 25-hour period of fasting and intensive prayer, often spending most of the day in synagogue services.
Christians don’t need to celebrate this feast, because Jesus has forever made Atonement for our Sins. Think of Atonement like this: At One With God: At-one-ment… Jesus death means we can be AT ONE with God. We are made clean by His blood and set free from sin forever.
Feast of Tabernacles: The Feast of Tabernacles takes place on the 15th of the Hebrew month Tishri. This was the seventh month on the Hebrew calendar and usually occurs in late September to mid-October. The feast begins five days after the Day of Atonement and at the time the Autumn harvest had just been completed. It was a time of joy filled celebration as the Israelites remembered God’s continued provision for them in the harvests and also His provision and protection during the 40 years wandering in the wilderness.
Leviticus 23:33-44 Tabernacles & Harvest Celebrations.
33 The LORD said to Moses,
34 “Say to the Israelites: ‘On the fifteenth day of the seventh month the LORD’S Feast of Tabernacles begins, and it lasts for seven days.
35 The first day is a sacred assembly; do no regular work.
36 For seven days present offerings made to the LORD by fire, and on the eighth day hold a sacred assembly and present an offering made to the LORD by fire. It is the closing assembly; do no regular work.
37 (” ‘These are the LORD’S appointed feasts, which you are to proclaim as sacred assemblies for bringing offerings made to the LORD by fire—the burnt offerings and grain offerings, sacrifices and drink offerings required for each day.
38 These offerings are in addition to those for the LORD’S Sabbaths and in addition to your gifts and whatever you have vowed and all the freewill offerings you give to the LORD.)
39 ” ‘So beginning with the fifteenth day of the seventh month, after you have gathered the crops of the land, celebrate the festival to the LORD for seven days; the first day is a day of rest, and the eighth day also is a day of rest.
40 On the first day you are to take choice fruit from the trees, and palm fronds, leafy branches and poplars, and rejoice before the LORD your God for seven days.
41 Celebrate this as a festival to the LORD for seven days each year. This is to be a lasting ordinance for the generations to come; celebrate it in the seventh month.
42 Live in booths for seven days: All native-born Israelites are to live in booths
43 so that your descendants will know that I made the Israelites live in booths when I brought them out of Egypt. I am the LORD your God.’ “
44 So Moses announced to the Israelites the appointed feasts of the LORD.
ALL The Jewish / Israelite FEASTS:
God’s Chosen People: Glorify God.
The Jewish feasts are closely related to Israel’s Spring and Autumn harvests and agricultural seasons. They were to remind the Israelites each year of God’s ongoing: powerful presence, protection and provision. How God will provide a way for His chosen people to be cleansed from their sins and eventually to be Saved and spend all Eternity in His presence.
Some were occasions of joy and celebration reflecting on all the good things that God had given to and done for his people. Some were times of self examination and repentance, where the people could come close to their Creator God and ask for forgiveness and cleansing.
We know that they were never intended to be observed out of mere formality and empty ritual. The prophets warned the people against reducing all these festivals to that level. In fact there came a time when God declared that He hated their ‘religious’ observance of ritual and sacrifice and offering: Because their hearts were not in it. The real purpose was spiritual – a great and glorious meeting together with God and His people. That is all that God has ever wanted and commanded: a close relationship with those that He’s created.
It’s amazing how Jesus Christ not only fulfilled God’s will revealed through the Old Testament Prophets, but also how it was fulfilled in time: during the most important and significant FEASTS of the Jews, God’s Chosen People. It was a witness to them that Jesus Christ was indeed their Messiah. And for all followers of Jesus Christ today it signifies God’s omnipotent and complete control of times and seasons and history, how He is always working in the Seasons of our Life.
God is calling all people today to trust in His awesome provision of a way to enable us all to draw near to Him for all eternity. It can only happen through His One and Only Son: Jesus Christ, who shed His precious life-blood upon the cross, the symbolic doorpost and lintel of our hearts. All God requires of us, is that we turn from going our own sinful ways and to His Son for forgiveness, cleansing and empowerment through His Holy Spirit to live a regenerated NEW LIFE in Jesus.