Staff & Sling
Ministry

Joseph E. Hébert, Ph.D.

98119 N 3745 Rd
Okemah, OK  74859
918 623 3078

The Feasts of the Lord

Since Easter is celebrated this month I think it’s appropriate that we take a look at the scriptural basis for this holiday. Let’s specifically look at the ordination of this holiday, this holy day. Many believe we celebrate Easter because it is the day that Jesus arose. But its origin actually lies in what Jews call the High Holy Days, and what most Christians errantly call the Jewish holidays.

I say "errantly" because scripture doesn’t call the High Holy Days Jewish holidays, or feasts of the Jews. Scripture tells us that these are the Feasts of the Lord, (Leviticus 23: 2, 4, 44). And by looking at the totality of these holy days, these feasts, we will see that God laid out for us His entire plan for the salvation and reconciliation of mankind. He told us the precise details of His plan through the ordination of the seven feasts of the Lord which are Passover, Unleavened Bread, First Fruits, Weeks, Trumpets, Day of Atonement and Tabernacles, and the Sabbath. So lets look at these feasts, these holy days, as they are ordained, in Leviticus 23.

Passover

In verse 5 we find that God ordains the fourteenth day of the first month Passover. Everyone who has seen Charleton Heston in The Ten Commandments knows the story of the deliverance of the Jews from bondage in Egypt (Well, Cecil B. DeMille’s version of it anyway). The Passover lamb represented Jesus (I Corinthians 5: 7). It was to be sacrificed on Passover and (on the first Passover at least) its blood was painted on the doorposts and beam as a sign for God’s vengeance to "pass over" that house.

But there are a couple of additional points to note about the Passover lamb that are not so commonly known. In Exodus 29: 34 and Deuteronomy 16: 4 we read that none of the flesh of the Passover lamb could remain until the morning, and in Exodus 12: 46 we find that not a single one of its bones could be broken (see also Psalms 34: 20).

And sure enough, Jesus was indeed sacrificed, crucified, on Passover. And, because it happened that year that the next day was the Sabbath, and especially a Sabbath during the High Holy Days, it would simply have been intolerable that He would have been left on the cross until the next day (see again Exodus 29: 34 and Deuteronomy 16: 4). So the priests had Pilate hasten the deaths of the men on the crosses by breaking their legs (John 19: 31). But since Jesus was the Passover lamb, none of his bones could be broken. And as it happened they weren’t (John 19: 36). Instead the soldier, seeing Him dead already, pierced Him to confirm that He was indeed dead.

Unleavened Bread

In Leviticus 23: 6 - 8 we read God’s ordination of the Feast of Unleavened Bread. It begins the next day after Passover and lasts for seven days. During this time the Jews are to eat no leavened bread, only unleavened bread. Also on the first and last days they are to do no work, so in most years they will do no work on three of the days of Unleavened Bread, unless the Sabbath falls on either the first or last day of the Feast.

It’s important to understand that leaven is a symbolic element of scripture. It symbolizes sin because of the way that only a small bit of it will turn an entire loaf into leaven. Moreover, did you know that you don’t need a seed yeast (leaven) to grow yeast. It’s true. All you need do to grow a new yeast colony is set out a starter culture. All the recipes tell you to seed a new starter with packaged yeast, but it isn’t really necessary. By doing nothing more than exposing the culture to the world around it, yeast will find their way in and start to multiply. I could think of no more appropriate a metaphor for sin than leaven.

It is also important to understand that bread is a symbolic element of scripture that represents Jesus Christ. Let’s think about this. Bread is the fuel by which we live, and it is made from wheat. But where does the wheat come from? You only get wheat when the remains of a once living grain of wheat is plucked and buried in the ground. Only then, after it is raised up again, can we gain new wheat from which to make the bread by which we live. Again, we find an incredibly relevant metaphor, in that Jesus was indeed buried on the first day of Unleavened Bread, but let’s not lean on our own understanding. Lets consider scripture.

When He ordained the sacrament of communion Jesus explained that the unleavened bread of the Passover meal symbolized His body (I Corinthians 11: 24). And of course it had to be unleavened, because He is sinless. But the similarities don’t end there. If you’ve ever seen a loaf of unleavened bread, kosher for Passover, then you will have seen two striking features that the loaf bears, both artifacts of the prescribed preparation. It is pierced all over with holes, and it is burned with stripes (Psalms 22: 16; Zechariah 12: 10; John 19: 34, 37; Isaiah 53: 5; I Peter 2: 24).

First Fruits

Beginning with verse 9, and on through verse 14, God describes the feast of First Fruits. Pay particular attention to verse 11. There we read that the wave offering of the First Fruits are to be presented before God on the day after the Sabbath.

Clearly Jesus is the First Fruit, the first to be resurrected, to be made anew. To be sure, we are all made new creatures in Christ Jesus (II Corinthians 5: 17), but He was the first. And lo and behold, He rose on the day after the Sabbath, on First Fruits, which is the day we celebrate as Easter.

Do not let it pass without notice that in most years First Fruits is not the third day after Passover. Yet it was prophesied that Jesus would rise on the third day (see Matthew 12: 40; Matthew 27: 62 - 64). And also, from the Feasts of the Lord it is clear that He had to rise on First Fruits. In most years these would have been mutually exclusive requirements.

Weeks

Verses 15 - 22 describe the Feast of Weeks, as it was to be held on the day after the seventh Sabbath after First Fruits. After a week of weeks, seven weeks, plus the next day (again a Sunday), was the Feast of Weeks. Since it is 50 days after First Fruits, some call it the Feast of Fifty Days. You will likely recognize the Greek for this name, the Feast of Pentecostos. Note in verse 17 that again there is to be a wave offering, but this time of loaves made with leaven. These are called the firstfruits unto the Lord.

Since leaven represents sin, it is clear that these loaves represent sinful men who have been redeemed. And as it happened, on the Feast of Pentecost, the Feast of Weeks, the Holy Spirit (symbolized by oil in scriptures) was poured out on the first church. And they were presented as the firstfruits unto the Lord, the first members of His bride.

Trumpets

The Feast of Trumpets is described in verses 23 - 25. It is observed on the first day of the seventh month, and no work is done on this day. This is the first of the Feasts of the Lord which has not yet been fulfilled on Earth.

Still we can see plainly that it foretells the day when trumpets will herald the resurrection of the dead in Christ, and the taking of those that remain, those still alive (I Thessalonians 4: 15 - 17; see also Matthew 24: 31; I Corinthians 15: 52).

Day of Atonement

The second of the still unfulfilled Feasts of the Lord is described in verses 26 - 32. It is called the Day of Atonement, or Yom Kippur in Hebrew. It is judgment day, and it falls on the tenth day of the seventh month, nine days after Trumpets.

To the Jew this is a dread and sorrowful day, a day of lamentation. It is a day when the devout among the Jews literally fear for their eternal soul. To err on this day is to earn eternal damnation.

Tabernacles

The seventh and final Feast of the Lord, the third that is yet to be fulfilled, is the Feast of Tabernacles (verses 33 - 44). It falls on the fifteenth day of the seventh month and lasts for seven days.

The Hebrew word translated here as "tabernacle" is actually pronounced sukkot (sue-coat), and it means a tent, a dwelling place. And the Feast of Tabernacles, coming five days after Yom Kippur, is quite the antithesis of Yom Kippur. It is a time of unbridled joy and celebration.

This is appropriate, because this represents the time when we will all finally be with the Lord in Heaven (John 14: 2).

The Sabbath

One can not discuss the Feasts of the Lord without discussing the Sabbath. Even God included it in His ordination of the Feasts of the Lord (verse 3). It was the first observance mentioned, and it is a recurring theme throughout the passage. Each of the Lord’s feasts is observed, and fulfilled, at it’s appointed time, but the Sabbath is recurring continuously throughout the lives of men. Moreover, Jesus tells us that man was not made for the Sabbath, but the Sabbath was made for man (Mark 2: 27). Unlike the Lord's Feasts, the Sabbath is man's holy day. And always, it carries a common theme. The man shall do no work.

Read the passage concerning Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement. It stipulates that anyone unrepentant will be cut off, and anyone who does work will be destroyed. Clearly, the Sabbath signifies that all of this, the reconciliation of man to Him, the salvation of man, is God’s work, not man’s. He and He alone can justify and sanctify us (Ephesians 2: 8 - 10).

Summary

These are the Feasts of the Lord, His plan for our salvation. None of it is any work of ours, it is all His doing. Jesus was sacrificed on Passover. He was not allowed to remain until the next day and yet none of His bones were broken. He was buried for Unleavened Bread and He arose, presented unto God on First Fruits. Then on Pentecost, the fiftieth day, we were filled with the Holy Spirit and presented as the first fruits unto the Lord. Someday the Trumpet will sound and we, the elect, will be caught up to be with the Lord. Then, on the Day of Atonement, the entire world will be judged. Those found unrepentant, or trying to do their own work, will be cut off and destroyed. Then, finally, we will all forever live in the Tabernacles prepared for us in the house of our Lord.


Leviticus 23:

1 And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying,
2 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.

The Sabbath

3 Six days shall work be done: but the seventh day is the sabbath of rest, an holy convocation; ye shall do no work therein: it is the sabbath of the LORD in all your dwellings.

4 These are the feasts of the LORD, even holy convocations, which ye shall proclaim in their seasons.

Passover

5 In the fourteenth day of the first month at even is the LORD's passover.

Unleavened Bread

6 And on the fifteenth day of the same month is the feast of unleavened bread unto the LORD: seven days ye must eat unleavened bread.
7 In the first day ye shall have an holy convocation: ye shall do no servile work therein.
8 But ye shall offer an offering made by fire unto the LORD seven days: in the seventh day is an holy convocation: ye shall do no servile work therein.

First Fruits

9 And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying,
10 Speak unto the children of Israel, and say unto them, When ye be come into the land which I give unto you, and shall reap the harvest thereof, then ye shall bring a sheaf of the firstfruits of your harvest unto the priest:
11 And he shall wave the sheaf before the LORD, to be accepted for you: on the morrow after the sabbath the priest shall wave it.
12 And ye shall offer that day when ye wave the sheaf an he lamb without blemish of the first year for a burnt offering unto the LORD.
13 And the meat offering thereof shall be two tenth deals of fine flour mingled with oil, an offering made by fire unto the LORD for a sweet savour: and the drink offering thereof shall be of wine, the fourth part of an hin.
14 And ye shall eat neither bread, nor parched corn, nor green ears, until the selfsame day that ye have brought an offering unto your God: it shall be a statute for ever throughout your generations in all your dwellings

Weeks

15 And ye shall count unto you from the morrow after the sabbath, from the day that ye brought the sheaf of the wave offering; seven sabbaths shall be complete:
16 Even unto the morrow after the seventh sabbath shall ye number fifty days; and ye shall offer a new meat offering unto the LORD.
17 Ye shall bring out of your habitations two wave loaves of two tenth deals; they shall be of fine flour; they shall be baken with leaven; they are the firstfruits unto the LORD.
18 And ye shall offer with the bread seven lambs without blemish of the first year, and one young bullock, and two rams: they shall be for a burnt offering unto the LORD, with their meat offering, and their drink offerings, even an offering made by fire, of sweet savour unto the LORD.
19 Then ye shall sacrifice one kid of the goats for a sin offering, and two lambs of the first year for a sacrifice of peace offerings.
20 And the priest shall wave them with the bread of the firstfruits for a wave offering before the LORD, with the two lambs: they shall be holy to the LORD for the priest.
21 And ye shall proclaim on the selfsame day, that it may be an holy convocation unto you: ye shall do no servile work therein: it shall be a statute for ever in all your dwellings throughout your generations.
22 And when ye reap the harvest of your land, thou shalt not make clean riddance of the corners of thy field when thou reapest, neither shalt thou gather any gleaning of thy harvest: thou shalt leave them unto the poor, and to the stranger: I am the LORD your God.

Trumpets

23 And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying,
24 Speak unto the children of Israel, saying, In the seventh month, in the first day of the month, shall ye have a sabbath, a memorial of blowing of trumpets, an holy convocation.
25 Ye shall do no servile work therein: but ye shall offer an offering made by fire unto the LORD.

Day of Atonement

26 And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying,
27 Also on the tenth day of this seventh month there shall be a day of atonement: it shall be an holy convocation unto you; and ye shall afflict your souls, and offer an offering made by fire unto the LORD.
28 And ye shall do no work in that same day: for it is a day of atonement, to make an atonement for you before the LORD your God.
29 For whatsoever soul it be that shall not be afflicted in that same day, he shall be cut off from among his people.
30 And whatsoever soul it be that doeth any work in that same day, the same soul will I destroy from among his people.
31 Ye shall do no manner of work: it shall be a statute for ever throughout your generations in all your dwellings.
32 It shall be unto you a sabbath of rest, and ye shall afflict your souls: in the ninth day of the month at even, from even unto even, shall ye celebrate your sabbath.

Tabernacles

33 And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying,
34 Speak unto the children of Israel, saying, The fifteenth day of this seventh month shall be the feast of tabernacles for seven days unto the LORD.
35 On the first day shall be an holy convocation: ye shall do no servile work therein.
36 Seven days ye shall offer an offering made by fire unto the LORD: on the eighth day shall be an holy convocation unto you; and ye shall offer an offering made by fire unto the LORD: it is a solemn assembly; and ye shall do no servile work therein.
37 These are the feasts of the LORD, which ye shall proclaim to be holy convocations, to offer an offering made by fire unto the LORD, a burnt offering, and a meat offering, a sacrifice, and drink offerings, every thing upon his day:
38 Beside the sabbaths of the LORD, and beside your gifts, and beside all your vows, and beside all your freewill offerings, which ye give unto the LORD.
39 Also in the fifteenth day of the seventh month, when ye have gathered in the fruit of the land, ye shall keep a feast unto the LORD seven days: on the first day shall be a sabbath, and on the eighth day shall be a sabbath.
40 And ye shall take you on the first day the boughs of goodly trees, branches of palm trees, and the boughs of thick trees, and willows of the brook; and ye shall rejoice before the LORD your God seven days.
41 And ye shall keep it a feast unto the LORD seven days in the year. It shall be a statute for ever in your generations: ye shall celebrate it in the seventh month.
42 Ye shall dwell in booths seven days; all that are Israelites born shall dwell in booths:
43 That your generations may know that I made the children of Israel to dwell in booths, when I brought them out of the land of Egypt: I am the LORD your God.
44 And Moses declared unto the children of Israel the feasts of the LORD.

I Corinthians 5: 7 Purge out therefore the old leaven, that ye may be a new lump, as ye are unleavened. For even Christ our passover is sacrificed for us:

Exodus 29: 34 And if ought of the flesh of the consecrations, or of the bread, remain unto the morning, then thou shalt burn the remainder with fire: it shall not be eaten, because it is holy.

Deuteronomy 16: 4 And there shall be no leavened bread seen with thee in all thy coast seven days; neither shall there any thing of the flesh, which thou sacrificedst the first day at even, remain all night until the morning.

Exodus 12: 46 In one house shall it be eaten; thou shalt not carry forth ought of the flesh abroad out of the house; neither shall ye break a bone thereof.

Psalms 34: 20 He keepeth all his bones: not one of them is broken.

John 19: 31 The Jews therefore, because it was the preparation, that the bodies should not remain upon the cross on the sabbath day, (for that sabbath day was an high day,) besought Pilate that their legs might be broken, and that they might be taken away.

John 19: 36 For these things were done, that the scripture should be fulfilled, A bone of him shall not be broken.

I Corinthians 11: 24 And when he had given thanks, he brake it, and said, Take, eat: this is my body, which is broken for you: this do in remembrance of me.

Psalms 22: 16 For dogs have compassed me: the assembly of the wicked have inclosed me: they pierced my hands and my feet.

Zechariah 12: 10 And I will pour upon the house of David, and upon the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the spirit of grace and of supplications: and they shall look upon me whom they have pierced, and they shall mourn for him, as one mourneth for his only son, and shall be in bitterness for him, as one that is in bitterness for his firstborn.

John 19: 34 But one of the soldiers with a spear pierced his side, and forthwith came there out blood and water.

John 19: 37 And again another scripture saith, They shall look on him whom they pierced.

Isaiah 53: 5 But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed.

I Peter 2: 24 Who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by whose stripes ye were healed.

II Corinthians 5: 17 Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.

Matthew 12: 40 For as Jonas was three days and three nights in the whale's belly; so shall the Son of man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.

Matthew 27:
62 Now the next day, that followed the day of the preparation, the chief priests and Pharisees came together unto Pilate,
63 Saying, Sir, we remember that that deceiver said, while he was yet alive, After three days I will rise again.
64 Command therefore that the sepulchre be made sure until the third day, lest his disciples come by night, and steal him away, and say unto the people, He is risen from the dead: so the last error shall be worse than the first.

I Thessalonians 4:
15 For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent them which are asleep.
16 For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first:
17 Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord.

Matthew 24: 31 And he shall send his angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they shall gather together his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.

I Corinthians 15: 52 In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.

John 14: 2 In my Father's house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you.

Mark 2: 27 And he said unto them, The sabbath was made for man, and not man for the sabbath:

Ephesians 2: 8 For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: 9 Not of works, lest any man should boast. 10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.