THE ORIGINAL BIBLICAL FESTIVALS
THE ORIGINAL BIBLICAL FESTIVALS
festivals or feasts depicting His plan for mankind (Lev 23, Deut 16). In Leviticus 23:2, the Lord
says "…these are My feasts." They encompass 19 days, of which 7 are high day Sabbaths. These
days have attained rich Christ-centered meanings. Some physical trappings of the feasts, such as
temple animal sacrifices, are defunct. There is no physical temple anymore. Christ was sacrificed
once and for all (Heb 10:8-10). Christians are now individually and collectively a spiritual temple,
and should offer spiritual sacrifices (1 Cor 3:16-17, Eph 2:19-22, Rom 12:1, 2 Cor 6:16, 1 Pet 2:5).
A significant amount of New Testament content relates to the meanings of these 7 festivals,
which picture Christ's central role in the plan of God. It is therefore incredibly ironic that nearly all
mainstream Christians believe that the Biblical festivals are either Jewish or are done away, and so
need not be observed. Yet note that the only distinctly Jewish teachings found in the Bible are
those verbalized and condemned by Christ. See, for example, Matthew chapters 5, 12, 15, and 23.
The Israelites of the Old Testament did not have a Jewish religion. Moses was not Jewish, nor from
the tribe of Judah (Ex 2:1-8, Num 26:57-59). The religion of the Bible is simply the religion of God.
The day after the Lord formed Adam and Eve, He sanctified the seventh day (Gen 2:1-3).
Yet clearly Adam and Eve were not Jewish. There was no Jewish religion then - only the religion
of their Creator. Before the flood that took place between 1656 and 1657 years after the creation of
Adam and Eve, the Lord instructed Noah to take 7 pairs of clean animals on the Ark, but only two
of each unclean animal. Noah did so, even though he was not Jewish. So we see that long before
Moses, the Lord was consistent in the teachings of His religion, now too often called Jewish.
The Lord's command for observances in Leviticus chapter 23 includes the weekly Sabbath
as a recurring festival day, in addition to the 7 festivals (Lev 23:1-3). And of course it is the subject
of the fourth commandment (Ex 20:8-11). When that same Lord came in the flesh as Jesus Christ,
he declared that He was Lord of the Sabbath (Mark 2:27-28). So the Sabbath is the Lord's Day. Yet,
it has come to be called "the Jewish Sabbath" by many. It was clearly kept throughout both Old
and New Testaments, and prophecy tells us that it shall be kept during the Millennium (Isa 58:13-
14; 66:23, Luke 4:16, Acts 13:42-47; 17:1-4; 18:1-4). The Sabbath is a memorial of Creation, points to
the future Millennial rest, and is a sign between God and His people (Heb 4, Ex 31:12-18).
One of the 12 tribes of Israel was Judah, but a distinct "Jewish" religion did not develop out
of that tribe until around 300 years before the advent of Christ. It developed among those of the
House of Judah who were released from captivity in Babylon. They returned to Palestine in
waves, beginning in 538 BC. They developed additional teachings, not in harmony with the spirit
of God's word. The Jews do not own any portion of the Bible. They have no exclusive rights to its
teachings. If teachings of the Bible seem too Jewish, then perhaps one would have to think of God
as Jewish. Of course Christ and the disciples He selected were all ethnically Jewish.
God chose the Israelites as His people to be an example to the rest of the world. Moses led
them out of Egypt 2448 years after the Creation. They then failed to keep the Old Covenant, made
at Sinai, to obey the law. But their failure did not do away with the law. Now Christ is the
Messenger of the New Covenant, defined as God's laws being written in our minds and hearts
(Mal 3:1, Jer 31:33, Heb 8:10). In return, we may receive spiritual blessings, featuring eternal life.
Ironically, some Protestant churches claim that the laws of God, rather than being written
in our minds and hearts, are now done away or nailed to the cross. If so, there is no more sin, since
sin is the transgression of the law (1 John 3:4). If it was God's intention to do away with His law,
why did He allow Christ to die? But He did - our death warrant was nailed to the cross (Col 2:14).
Christ came not to do away with the law, but rather to fulfill it, revealing the spiritual depth of it
(Matt 5:17-19, 21-22, 27-28). And then Christ's sacrifice was an act of grace toward our salvation.
Scripture states that there is now neither Jew nor Greek in terms of salvation, but all are one
in Christ (Rom 10:12, 1 Cor 12:13, Gal 3:28). We also read that all must spiritually become
Abraham's children (Israelites) through Christ (Gal 3:29). And we should want to become spiritual
Israelites - God's chosen people - since the New Covenant only applies to Israel (Heb 8:8-12)! The
terms Israelite and Jew are simply not identical! All ethnic Jews are Israelites, but by no means are all
Israelites Jews, as Judah was but one of 12 tribes. (That the modern Jewish state is named Israel
instead of Judah could be an understandable source of confusion for some.)
Briefly, the Biblical festivals or feasts have these New Testament meanings. The Passover is
first and is sometimes referred to by those Christians that celebrate it as The Lord's Supper. With
its symbols of the bread and wine, it commemorates the suffering and death of Jesus Christ, which
provides for both our healing and payment for our sins (1 Cor 11:23-26). The sacrifice of a lamb, a
feature of the Old Testament observance of Passover, simply foreshadowed the sacrifice of Christ,
the true Passover Lamb, who was crucified on the Passover day (John 1:29, 1 Cor 5:7, Rev 13:8).
Immediately following the Passover is the week long feast called the Days of Unleavened
Bread (1 Cor 5:7-8). It teaches that we must work to rid our lives of sins of commission,
symbolized by removing leavened bread from our homes. More importantly, it teaches that we
must avoid sins of omission by doing good, symbolized by eating unleavened bread. In turn the
unleavened bread represents Christ, the Bread of Life (John 6:47-51). Because Christ was
resurrected during this festival, we can now have hope of our own resurrection.
Pentecost, also called the Feast of Firstfruits, depicts Jesus Christ as the First of the
Firstfruits (1 Cor 15:20-23). It also shows that those with the holy spirit are firstfruits that will be
resurrected at Christ's second coming (Rom 8:23, James 1:16-18, Rev 14:4). The Feast of Trumpets
directs our focus to the dramatic events that lie ahead, culminating in the return of Christ to rule
the earth (Matt 24:30-31, Rev 11:15). The Day of Atonement pictures Christ as our High Priest,
through whom we have been cleansed and have direct access to the Father. It also pictures a
future time when the nations will be freed from deception, and will have a full opportunity for
salvation, while the devil who deceived them is bound (Rev 20:1-3, Hebrews chapters 2-10).
The week long Feast of Tabernacles, or Feast of Ingathering (Ex 23:16, 34:22), pictures the
great autumn (or latter) harvest of souls. This takes place during and on the heels of the Millennial
rule of Christ (Rev 20:4-6, 11-13). Christ stated He would gather all peoples and nations to Himself
(Isa 66:18, Matt 25:32). This is also the feast during which we take note that Christ came and dwelt
(tabernacled) among us (John 1:14-15, Phil 2:5-11). During the Millennium, all nations must keep
this feast (Zech 14:16-19). At the end of the Millennium, the Father will also come to dwell
(tabernacle) with us, bringing with Him the city of the New Jerusalem (Rev 21:1-3). Finally, The
Eighth Day, following this feast, points to eternity following the final judgment (Rev 21; 22).