TODAY’S READING: LEVITICUS 22-23
In Leviticus 23, God gives to Moses seven feasts that Israel is to keep every year. The seven feasts (with their dates) are:
- Passover (Nisan 14-15)
- Unleavened Bread (Nisan 15-22)
- First Fruits (Nisan 16-17)
- Pentecost (Sivan 6-7)
- Trumpets (Tishri 1)
- Atonement (Tishri 10)
- Tabernacles (Tishri 15-22)
Because the Israelite calendar was based on the phases of the moon, the timing of these feasts shift months on our calendar. Therefore, the first three feasts happen in the March-April time frame. The middle feast, Pentecost, takes place in May or June. The final three feasts occur in September-October.
LUNAR FEASTS REVEALING JESUS
As I said above, the feasts of Israel were based on the cycle of moon. This might be a clue to what is happening on day four in creation. Genesis 1:14-18 says, “And God said, ‘Let there be lights in the expanse of the heavens to separate the day from the night. And let them be for signs and for seasons, and for days and years, and let them be lights in the expanse of the heavens to give light upon the earth.’ And it was so. And God made the two great lights – the greater light to rule the day and the lesser light to the rule the night – and the stars. And God set them in the expanse of the heavens to give light on the earth, to rule over the day and over the night, and to separate the light from the darkness. And God saw that it was good.”
I think it is possible to see the Father as the sun, the greater light, and Jesus, the moon, as the lesser light. The Father rules in the day. But, Jesus rules in the night. Jesus came into the darkness to separate the light from the darkness just as the moon comes into the darkness of night and gives light. Jesus rules over the darkness of our world and our lives.
These seven lunar feasts were kept to be every year. Therefore, Israel was live out a prophetic calendar as an annual reminder of God’s plan for his people and his creation.
What was the plan God was reminding Israel of every year?
Each of these seven feasts speak to the life of Jesus. While I have not studied out each feast in detail, I think the first three feasts speak to Jesus’ first coming, the middle feast speaks to the period of we are in now where Jesus is working through the church, and the last three feasts speak to Jesus’ second coming.
In the New Testament, there is a clear record of the first four feasts fulfilled by Jesus on the exact dates that the feasts were to occur on. While it seems to me the last three feasts have not been fulfilled, I think it is likely that Jesus’ second coming will fulfill these feasts on the exact days mentioned in scripture just as his first coming fulfilled the exact days of those feasts.
FEAST OF PASSOVER
I wrote about how Jesus fulfilled the feast of Passover as the Passover lamb while we were reading through Exodus.
FEAST OF UNLEAVENED BREAD
Throughout the Bible, leaven is typically a picture of sin. Therefore, unleavened bread is a picture of Jesus as the one who had no sin. In 1 Peter 2:22, it says “he committed no sin, neither was deceit found in his mouth.” And, in 1 John 3:5, it says, “You know that he appeared in order to take away sins, and in him there is no sin.”
But, Jesus, the unleavened bread, became sin for us. Paul says in 2 Corinthians 5:21, “For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin.” Jesus was made sin. He was crucified on the 14th and buried on the buried 15th at the start of the feast of unleavened bread. I believe the burial of Jesus represents the removal, the destruction, and the condemnation of sin. Romans 8:3 says, “For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do. By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh.” Therefore, in the feast of unleavened bread, God sent sin to its grave in the flesh of Jesus.
FEAST OF FIRSTFRUITS
The first fruits were the very first shoots to spring up from the ground after the planting of the crop.
Jesus was crucified on the 14th of the month in fulfillment of the feast of Passover. Jesus was the grain of wheat that was planted in the ground. In John 12:24, Jesus said, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit.”
But, he rose from the grave three days later, on the 17th of the month, in fulfillment of the feast of first fruits. Jesus was the very first shoot of new life to spring up from the ground. In 1 Corinthians 15:20-23, Paul writes, “But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. For as by a man came death, by a man has come also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive. But each in his own order: Christ the firstfruits, then at his coming those who belong to Christ.”
FEAST OF PENTECOST
Fifty days after the Sabbath, which was the day before the feast of firstfruits, was the feast of Pentecost. At this feast, Israel was to present a grain offering of new grain. The offering was to be brought in two loaves of bread. The priest was to wave these loaves, the bread of the firstfruits, as a wave offering before the Lord. These loaves were to be holy to the Lord. And, on that day, Israel was to make a proclamation.
The fulfillment of this feast is recorded in Acts 2. Acts 2:1 says, “When the day of Pentecost arrived, they were all together in one place.” Luke tells us that it is the day of Pentecost and the 120 disciples have gathered together in the upper room. These 120 disciples were the new grain to be presented as a grain offering.
The Holy Spirit came from heaven and filled the upper room. Acts 2:3 says, “And divided tongues as of fire appeared to them and rested on each one of them.” It was as if the Holy Spirit,as the fire in the oven of the upper room, fell and baked these 120 individual new grains into a loaf of bread to be waved before the Lord. This loaf was the bread of firstfruits. James 1:18 says, “Of his own will he brought us forth by the word of truth, that we should be a kind of firstfruits of his creatures.”
On that day, the 120 disciples made a proclamation of the Lord. Devout men from every nation had gathered in Jerusalem. In Acts 2:11, these men said, “We hear them telling in our own tongues the mighty works of God.” And, it was on this day that Peter preached the first sermon.
Since the last three feasts have not been fulfilled yet, I can’t write about them as clearly as I have the first four feasts. However, we can still see a glimpse of what will take place.
FEAST OF TRUMPETS
The feast of trumpets took place on the first day of the seventh month. This is exactly six months after the first day of the year. Why is this significant?
The first day of the year occurred in the month that God brought Israel out of Egypt, the month of the Passover. This symbolizes the day that God brought his people out of the world. The number six represents work in the Bible. So, exactly six months after the beginning of the year, the beginning of the month that God led Israel out of Egypt, the trumpets are blown. In the Passover, God led his people out. On the first day of the seventh month, exactly six months after the year began, the calendar of Christ’s work in creation, the feast of trumpets would take place. God is calling his people in.
FEAST OF ATONEMENT
The feast of atonement occurred on the 10th day of the seventh month. At this feast, Israel was to afflict themselves.
In the first month of the year, on the 10th day of the month, Jesus was selected as the Passover lamb. On the 10th day of the month, his humiliation before the whole world began. He was mocked from this day until the day of his crucifixion.
But, exactly six months later, after the period of Jesus’ work had been completed, the feast of atonement was to take place. On the 10th day of the seventh month, instead of Christ being humiliated, Israel would afflict themselves. The Hebrew word for afflict in Leviticus 23:27 literally means to humiliate, to oppress, to bow down, to afflict. In the first month, Israel had humiliated Christ. In the seventh month, Israel will humiliate themselves. They will see that how they humbled themselves and now they will humble themselves.
FEAST OF TABERNACLES
The feast of tabernacles takes place on the 15th day of the seventh and was to last for seven days. This feast started exactly six months after the feast of unleavened bread and lasted for the same period of time – seven days.
Before this feast began, all the produce of the land would have been gathered in. This feast was to be a celebration. Leviticus 23:40 says, “And you shall take on the first day the fruit of splendid trees, branches of palm trees and boughs of leafy trees and willows of the brook, and you shall rejoice before the Lord your God seven days.” The harvest was complete and the fruit was brought in. It was time to celebrate what Jesus had done. In the feast of unleavened bread, Israel ate from the body that had been made sin for them, condemning sin in the flesh. But, in the feast of tabernacles, Israel is to feast on the riches of Christ, the riches that are unsearchable and without end.
So, the calendar that Israel live out every year was an annual act of prophecy of the Lord Jesus Christ in his people and his creation.