Friday, May 9, 2014

The Feasts of the Lord

Here's a pulling together of info on a topic I LOVE!...

And God said, “Let there be lights in the firmament of the heaven to divide the day from the night; and let them be for signs, and for seasons, and for days, and years.”   Gen. 1:14
signs = Hebrew word oth, which means “signal” (in the sense of appearing).  The same Hebrew word, oth, is used for Cain’s “mark” (Genesis 4:15) and for Noah’s “token (meaning the rainbow–Genesis 9:12). 

seasons = Hebrew word mo’adin, which means “appointed time; appointment.”  The same Hebrew word, mo’adin, is used for “Feasts” in Lev. 23:1-2.

A note on the Biblical calendar:  the Lord’s calendar is based not only on the sun (to define years), but also on the moon (to define months).  The Gregorian (Babylonian) calendar is based on the sun, and the Muslim calendar is based on the moon.  

And the Lord spake unto Moses, saying, “Speak unto the children of Israel, and say unto them, Concerning the Feasts of the Lord, which ye shall proclaim to be holy convocations, even these are my Feasts.”   Lev 23:1-2
 Feasts  = Hebrew word mo’adin, which means “appointed time; appointment.”  The same Hebrew word, mo’adin, is used for “seasons” in Gen. 1:14.

convocations  = Hebrew word miqra, which means “rehearsal; the act of practicing in preparation for an event.

holy  = Hebrew word qadash, which means “to be set-apart; sanctify.”
Here’s a “Rebecca’s translation” summary pertaining to the Feasts of the Lord, using the context above:  
The lights in the heavens are for signals and for the Lord’s divine appointments.  The Feasts are set-apart rehearsals of the Lord’s divine appointments. 
Notice that the Lord says these are His appointments, not the Jews’...  “These are My Feasts.” Lev. 23:2.  While the Jews do celebrate the Feasts, and the Lord will use the Feasts to unveil Jesus to them, the Feasts are not limited to Jews alone.  Gentile foreigners or sojourners joined in with the Jews to celebrate the Feasts, and we have opportunity to know the Lord more intimately through His appointed times as well.  Consider Naomi (a picture of the Jews) and Ruth (a picture of the Gentiles) who married Boaz (a picture of Jesus, our kinsman-Redeemer).  Ruth humbly said, “Your people will be my people, and your God will be my God.”  Satan has encouraged division between the Church and the Jews, with many negative ramifications.  One is that we lose out on the beautiful context behind things such as the Feasts, which actually point to Jesus.  We miss out on practical implications of the Feasts which pertain to Jesus’ second coming!

Each Feast points to Jesus and is beautifully fulfilled by Him.  Leviticus 23 lists seven Feasts.  A side note on “seven…”  Seven is the biblical number for completion and perfection.  The Feasts will be completed in the seventh month of the Lord’s calendar by Jesus Himself, with all three fall Feasts being in the seventh month.  After Jesus has fulfilled the seven Feasts, the Golden Age will begin – an age of completion and perfection. 

Then shall we know, if we follow on to know the LORD: his going forth is prepared as the morning; and he shall come unto us as the rain, as the latter and former rain unto the earth.   Hosea 6:3

The Feasts are celebrated in two distinct seasons corresponding to agricultural seasons.  In Israel, there is the time of rain in the spring (former rain) and in the fall (latter rain). As Hosea 6:3 mentions, the Lord has come to us as the former rain already, through his first coming.  We watch expectantly for Him to come unto us as the latter rain through His second coming, fulfilling the fall Feasts perfectly - right on time, as He did with the spring Feasts.

** It's a perfect time to take a song break... here's a great one that mentions Jesus coming like the rain ** 

The Spring Feasts

Passover (14th day of the Hebrew month Nisan (March/April)) – Jesus’ death

This is the celebration of the time in Egypt when a lamb was sacrificed and blood was applied to the door post.  Those marked homes were passed over and the life of the first born was spared.  Jesus was crucified on Passover and was the fulfillment of the Passover Feast in that he was the sacrificial and substitutionary lamb.  Passover speaks of redemption.

Feast of Unleavened Bread (begins the day after Passover – 15th day of Nisan) – Jesus’ burial

This Feast lasts seven days.  There is to be a meeting between God and man on the first and last days of the festival.  In preparation for this Feast, the Jewish women would sprinkle leaven (breadcrumbs) throughout the house in every nook and cranny and then, on the first day of the Feast, she would sweep ever speck of leaven into the kitchen, take it outside and burn it.  In the Bible, leaven symbolizes sin.  It is the agent that causes fermentation.  The Feast of Unleavened Bread proclaims that Jesus’ physical body would not decay in the grave.  He was set apart.

Feast of the Firstfruits (occurs the second day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread, the 16th of Nisan) – Jesus’ resurrection

When the barley harvest (the first crop planted in winter) ripens, the first sheaf, referred to as the firstfruits, is cut and presented to the Lord.  The Lord’s acceptance is his pledge of a full harvest.  This Feast was fulfilled with Jesus’ resurrection, as spoken of in 1 Corinthians:
 But now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the firstfruits of them that slept.  1 Cor. 15:20

Feast of Weeks (count seven weeks (49 days) from Firstfruits, then this Feast is on the next day - Day 50 - Pentecost) - Holy Spirit/Birth of the Church

This Feast is called Pentecost in the New Testament which means 50th.  For this Feast, two loaves of bread made with fine flour and leaven were brought to the Temple.   Fifty days, two loaves and leaven all pointed to the coming of the Holy Spirit and the beginning of the Church.  Jesus rose on Firstfruits, spent 40 days with his disciples, and then ascended.  He told them to wait and he would send his Holy Spirit.  That happened ten days later for a total of 50 days after his resurrection. The two loaves represent the Jew and the Gentile (both leavened – sinful).  Jesus is unleavened.  

 The Fall Feasts

Each major event of Jesus’ first coming occurred on the precise date of the appropriate Jewish Feast.  It follows that the major events associated with Jesus’ second coming will, likewise, fall on the appropriate Feasts.  The three fall Feasts culminate in the establishment of the messianic Kingdom.  As with the Spring Feasts, the Fall Feasts will be fulfilled literally and right on schedule in connection with his second coming.  Keep in mind that the rapture of the church and the second coming are two separate events.  It is interesting to ponder the meaning in both the Feast of Trumpets and in the Feast of Weeks (Pentecost) that could allude to the rapture of the church, as spoken about in 1 Thess. 4:17 - though the timing of it may not tie in to a Feast at all!

The Feast of Trumpets (first day of Tishri; occurs at the new moon; Rosh Hashanah; also known as the Wedding of the Messiah

The trumpet was used in ancient Israel for two purposes; first, to call God’s people into his presence and second, to go to war under God’s divine direction.  

The Feast of Trumpets is unique because it is the only one which arrives on the first day of a Hebrew lunar month.  Because it occurs at the new moon, when only a sliver of moon is visible, in ancient days the rabbi assigned witnesses lest clouds obscure the new moon.  Watchfulness was critical for this Feast.  The need for watchfulness and preparedness in connection with the Feast of Trumpets is echoed throughout the New Testament in connection with Jesus’ coming. 

The Feast of Trumpets is called the “Feast that no man knows the day or hour of” or the “hidden Feast” because of the challenge of not knowing of its arrival until the new moon is seen.  When Jesus said, "no man knows the day or hour," there is strong inference to the Feast of Trumpets to those familiar with the Lord’s appointed times.  Also, "of that day or hour no man knows, but my Father only" is an expression used by a groom when asked when his wedding will be.  He says this because it is his Father that will tell him when his preparations on the bridal chamber are completed and it is time.  

The Day of Atonement (nine days after Trumpets on the 10th day of Tishri; Yom Kippur) - Redemption

There are seven “days of awe” between the two-day Feast of Trumpets and the Day of Atonement.  Some interpret these to picture the seven years of Tribulation.  Also, corresponding to seven days, in the Jewish Wedding the groom comes for his bride "like a thief in the night" to take (seize/rapture) her away and into the bridal chamber for the bridal week at his father's house.  The bride and groom stay hidden away for seven days before coming out and joining the party.

According to Jewish tradition, three books are opened in heaven on the Feast of Trumpets.  One is the Book of Life for the righteous. The second is the Book of Life for the unrighteous.  The third is the Book of Life for those in-between.  If a man is righteous, his name is written in the Book of Life for the righteous at the Feast of Trumpets.  If he is unrighteous, his name is written in the Book of Life for the unrighteous and he will not survive the year.   If a man is deemed in-between, judgment is delayed from the Feast of Trumpets to the Day of Atonement.   During this time he can repent before the Book is closed and his destiny sealed.  

Feast of Tabernacles (15th day of Tishri) – Rejoicing; Messianic Kingdom
And I heard a great voice out of heaven saying, “Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God.”  Revelation 21:3

This is a seven day Feast that usually occurs in October.  Observant Jews erect huts or “booths” from bulrushes as a reminder of the temporary housing erected by their forefathers during the Exodus wanderings.  Samples of the fall crop are hung in the booth to signify God’s faithfulness and provision.  Each day the High Priests and tens of thousands of worshipers left the Temple Mount, stopped at the Pool of Siloam, and filled a pitcher with water from the pool.  Then they went back to the Temple Mount by a different route.  Back at the Temple Mount, the High Priest poured the water out of the pitcher onto the altar.  In Israel, the rain usually stopped in March and there was no rain for seven months.  This ceremony was intended to invoke God’s blessing on the nation that he might provide early rains in October and November so that there would be a spring crop and avoid famine.  The Feast of Tabernacles speaks of the messianic Kingdom – a new beginning without the ravages of the curse of sin.  Righteousness will become a reality on earth.  This Feast signifies the day when the Messiah Himself will tabernacle among men and bring in the “Golden Age.”