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The Old Testament Festivals & Jesus

Understanding the Old Testament Festivals
and How Jesus Fulfills Them

 

See how Jesus fulfills the Old Testament Festivals (Feasts, Appointed Times). Many people don't understand the importance of the Old Testament Festivals and how they relate to Jesus. See the Bible come to life as you see how the festivals are fulfilled in Jesus.

 

The seven Old Testament Festivals are: 

 

1. The Passover: This is the foundational feast
2. Unleavened Bread: This feast was to last for 7 days
3. First Fruits
4. Pentecost or Feast of Weeks
5. Feast of Shouting (Also known as Trumpets)
6. Day of Atonement
7. Feast of Tabernacles 

These festivals can be broken down into two basic divisions:

1. The Spring Festivals

2. The Fall Festivals

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Spring Festivals

 

1. Passover Feast— Leviticus 23:4-8

This feast remembers the last plague in Egypt when the angel of death “passed over” the children of Israel who applied the blood of the lamb to their doors. The Israelites took a bundle of hyssop and dipped it into the blood in the basin at the threshold. Going up, they put it up on the lintel, then touched the two sides of the frame (Exodus 12). When you look carefully at the imagery, the way the blood was placed on the doorframe formed the shape of a cross. 

The first three feasts of the Lord (Passover, Unleavened Bread, and Firstfruits) take place close together. Passover takes place on Friday, Unleavened Bread takes place the next day (Saturday, and lasts for a week), and Firstfruits takes place on Sunday.

 

Passover began on a Friday of the 1st month (14th of Nisan) of the Jewish calendar, which was established by God because this was when the Israelites left Egypt. 

 

This was a major feast that all male Jews were required to attend in Jerusalem at the temple.

Fulfillment in Christ

When John the Baptist said, “Look! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!” (John 1:29), he understood the Old Testament reference. And in the New Testament, we see that Jesus, born in a stable, visited by shepherds, and led to the slaughter, is that lamb sent for us. His death allows the judgment we deserve to pass over us. When we accept Christ, we accept the loving gift of a second chance — because of his death on the cross, we have a clean slate!

Additionally, 1 Corinthians 5:7 clearly states that Jesus is the Passover Lamb: "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."

In summary, the Passover pointed to the Messiah as our Passover Lamb whose blood would be shed for our sins. Jesus was crucified on the day of preparation for the Passover, at the same time that the lambs were being slaughtered for the Passover meal that evening.

2. Unleavened Bread Feast — Leviticus 23:6 

This seven-day feast begins on the day after Passover (Saturday, 15th of Nisan) and lasts for a week ((15th - 21st of Nisan). In the haste of the Israelites to leave Egypt, there was no time to add leaven (yeast) to their bread. During this time, remembering the hardships in Egypt and how God freed them from captivity, the Jews eat nothing leavened.

Leaven often represents sin and decay in the Bible. Once incorporated, yeast becomes an inseparable part of the bread; the same is true for sin’s effect on our lives. The Jews were constantly sacrificing unblemished animals to atone for sin temporarily.

Fulfillment in Christ

Only the Messiah, the perfect, sinless sacrifice, could offer a permanent solution. The unleavened bread represents Jesus’ sinless life; he is the only perfect sacrifice for our sins. In John 6:35, Jesus boldly states that he is the bread of life. Not only does he remove our sins, He nourishes our souls!

In summary, the Unleavened Bread pointed to the Messiah’s sinless life, making Him the perfect sacrifice for our sins. Jesus’ body was in the grave during the first days of this feast, like a kernel of wheat planted and waiting to burst forth as the bread of life.

3. Feast of Fruits — Leviticus 23:10

The Feast of First Fruits took place on the day after Unleavened Bread started (Sunday, 16th of Nisan), and is a harvest feast to thank and honor God for all he provided. Although they didn’t know it at the time, the children of Israel were celebrating what would become a very important day.

The priests sacrificed Passover lambs on the 14th day of the month of Nisan, and the first day of Passover was the 15th. The Feast of First Fruits was celebrated the third day, the 16th of Nisan. So you can see how the first three feasts take place one right after another (with the Feast of Unleavened Bread lasting seven days). Passover is on Friday, Unleavened Bread started on Saturday, and Firstfruits on Sunday.

 

Fulfillment in Christ

This “third-day” celebration was the same day that Jesus was resurrected from the dead. In 1 Corinthians 15:20, Paul refers to Jesus as the first fruits of the dead. He represents the first of the great harvest of souls — including you — that will resurrect to eternal life because of the new covenant in his blood (Luke 22:20).

In summary, the First Fruits pointed to the Messiah’s resurrection as the first fruits of the righteous. Jesus was resurrected on this very day, which is one of the reasons that Paul refers to him in I Corinthians 15:20 as the first fruits from the dead.”

4. Feast of Weeks or Pentecost — Leviticus 23:16

This feast takes place on the 7th day of the 3rd month, Sivan. This feast is the second of the three harvest feasts. It occurs exactly seven weeks after the Feast of First Fruits, so it’s also called Pentecost, which means “50 days.” Traditionally, people were expected to bring the first harvest of grain to the Lord, including two leavened loaves of bread. 

 

This was a major feast that all male Jews were required to attend in Jerusalem at the temple.

 

Fulfillment in Christ

God’s plan to save souls included more than the Jews. Through Jesus, this plan was revealed. In Matthew 9:37, Jesus tells his disciples that “the harvest is great, but the workers are few.” Then he put the plan into place: In Acts 1:4, he tells them to wait in Jerusalem for the Holy Spirit.

That arrival was the day the Church was born — Pentecost — and the harvest began with 3,000 souls. The message spread to both Jews and Gentiles (the two leavened loaves of bread), extending the harvest to us!

In summary, the Feast of Pentecost — (Called Shavuot today.), pointed to the great harvest of souls, both Jew and Gentile, that would come into the kingdom of God during the Church Age. The Church was actually established on this day when the Messiah poured out the Holy Spirit, and 3,000 souls responded to Peter’s first proclamation of the Gospel.

Interval Between Spring and Fall Festivals

The long interval of three months between Harvest and Trumpets pointed to the current Church Age, a period of time that was kept as a mystery to the Hebrew prophets in Old Testament times.

That leaves us with the three fall feasts, which are yet to be fulfilled in the life and work of the Messiah. Because Jesus literally fulfilled the first four feasts and did so on the actual feast days, I think it is safe to assume that the last three will also be fulfilled and that their fulfillment will occur on the actual feast days. We cannot be certain how they will be fulfilled, but they will be in God's way and timing.

Fall Festivals

Similar to the first three spring feasts, the fall feasts take place one right after another. The Feast of Trumpets starts on the 1st day of the 7th month, Tishri, the Day of Atonement on the 10th day of Tishri, and the Feast of Tabernacles (or Booths) on the 15th - 22nd of Tishri. 

5. Festival of Shouting (Trumpets) — Leviticus 23:24

This feast began on the 1st day of the 7th month, Tishri. In a beautiful declaration, God commands his people to rest. During this time, all regular work is prohibited, and men and women present a food offering to God. This feast lasts 10 days and begins with trumpet blasts to signal the time to prepare for the Day of Atonement Feast. Traditionally, it's also referred to as the "Ten Days of Awe." It's a time to afflict your soul and engage in serious soul searching. It's a time to repent and get right with God.

In Leviticus 23:24, God commands his people to gather and commemorate the decree with trumpet blasts.

Fulfillment in Christ

On the same front, the sound of a trumpet is also associated with the rapture, or the time Jesus will return for his bride (1 Corinthians 15:52). Once he returns, there will be a wedding feast of celebration. Revelation 19:9 says, “Blessed are those who are invited to the wedding feast of the Lamb.” He’s preparing us to celebrate!

In summarythe Feast of Trumpets (Called Rosh Hashana today), points to the Rapture when the Messiah will appear in the heavens as a Bridegroom coming for His bride, the Church. The Rapture is always associated in Scripture with the blowing of a loud trumpet (I Thessalonians 4:13-18 and I Corinthians 15:52).

6. Day of Atonement — Leviticus 16, 23:26-32; Num. 29

This day was actually not a feast but a day of fasting.  It began on the 10th day of the 7th month, Tishri. To make “atonement” is to make restitution for wrongs committed. As a day of humility and repentance to God, it was a time for the Jews to get their hearts, consciences, and lives right before him. The observance involved the sacrifice of animals as the High Priest entered the Holy of Holies. What the High Priest did there couldn’t offer more than an annual payment for their sins. However, hiding in plain sight was the promise of one who could atone for their sins permanently (Hebrews 9:12).

This feast is when the entire nation of Israel's sins were dealt with as a whole. It's when the high priest would go inside the Holy of Holies (only once a year and on this day) to offer atonement for the sins of the entire nation.

Fulfillment in Christ

Where is Jesus in these sacrificed animals? The bull and one of the goats were an offering of thanks, but the “scapegoat” took on their sins (Leviticus 16:10). The scapegoat was to be burdened with all the sins of Israel and sent into the wilderness.

The Jewish leaders condemned Jesus, and he — burdened with the sins of all mankind — was led out of the city to be crucified: “He himself is the sacrifice that atones for our sins — and not only our sins but the sins of the world” (1 John 2:2).

The necessity of the Day of Atonement was rendered void by Jesus’ death on the cross — our debt has been paid!

In summary, the Day Atonement (Called Yom Kippur today), points to the day of the Second Coming of Jesus when He will return to earth. That will be the day of atonement for the Jewish remnant when they “look upon Him whom they have pierced,” repent of their sins and receive Him as their Messiah (Zechariah 12:10 and Romans 11:1-6, 25-36).

7. Feast of Tabernacles or Booths — Leviticus 23:34

This feast takes place on the 15th - 22nd days of the 7th month, Tishri. Celebration always follows the Day of Atonement. The Feast of Tabernacles celebrates God’s provision and protection for the people of Israel during their 40 years of wandering in the wilderness. During the seven days of the feast, people live in temporary structures as they did in the wilderness. The Lord himself was with the Israelites in the desert, in a tented temple called the tabernacle, so the feast also celebrates his presence as he tabernacles (dwells) with us. 

 

This was a major feast that all male Jews were required to attend in Jerusalem at the temple. Because the Feast of Trumpets and the Day of Atonement were connected to the Feast of Booths, most Jews would arrive in Jerusalem to attend these three feasts that were one right after another.

Fulfillment in Christ
Jesus is called Emmanuel, meaning “God is with us” (Matthew 1:23). He put on a temporary tabernacle — a human body — to dwell on this earth and offer himself as a sacrifice.

This feast also points to the promise that God will return and rally with his people — in the person of Jesus. And when he does, he has promised that there will be no more death and suffering, that he himself will wipe away every tear from our eyes (Revelation 21:4). His return is the final answer to the hope we’ve carried our entire lives. What a day that will be!

In summary, the Feast of Tabernacles (Called Sukkot today.) Points to the Lord’s promise that He will once again tabernacle with His people when He returns to reign over all the world from Jerusalem (Micah 4:1-7).

Credit for some of the information on this page:

Wycliffe.org, 

ChristInProphecy.org

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