Feasts: Proclaiming the First and Second Coming
One of the first things God the Father did while establishing the culture of Israel was to place seven significant events into the Jewish calendar (Leviticus 23). These events were called feasts. However some of these feasts were actually not feasts but fasts. The list of feasts/events are broken up into two categories, the spring feasts and the fall feasts as follows: Spring Feasts – The Passover (Erev Pasach), The Feast of Unleavened Bread (Pesach), The Feast of the First Fruits (Omer), The Feast of Pentecost (Shavuot). Fall Feasts – The Day of Trumpets (Yom Teruah), The Day of Atonement (Yom Kippur), and the Feast of Tabernacles (Sukkoth). In the following sections there are descriptions of each feast and their significance as it pertains to Jesus’ first and second coming.
The 4 Spring Feasts (Point to Jesus’ First Coming):
- The Passover (Erev Pesach): Starts the annual Jewish feast calendar. Points towards the sacrificial lamb of the original Passover as well as the Ultimate Passover Lamb, Jesus, the lamb who was slain for the salvation of the world.
- The Feast of Unleavened Bread / Passover Meal (Pesach): The unleavened bread, a type of sinless Jesus, is eaten. Now we take this bread to remember Jesus. At the Last Supper, Jesus took this bread and redefined its meaning for the new Jewish believers. He said, “Do this now in remembrance of ME.”
- Feast of First Fruits (Omer): This was the day they were to wave the sheaf from a barley plant from the first / spring harvest. Jesus was the first fruits of the resurrection, (1 Cor 15:20, 23, 2 Tim 2:6-8). Significance of Feasts – Joel Richardson
- The Feast of Pentecost (Shavuot): This day celebrated the first of the wheat harvest with the offering of two wave loaves of leavened bread (Lev 23:17, 20). This feast foreshadowed the first major outpouring of the Holy Spirit, resulting in three thousand souls being added to the Church in one day (Acts 2:41). This early outpouring of the Holy Spirit will also be followed by another greater outpouring of the Holy Spirit near the end of time (Joel 2:28-29) to empower the proclamation of the Gospel of the Kingdom before the return of Jesus. Shavu’ot, the Festival of Weeks, is the second of the three major festivals with both historical and agricultural significance (the other two are Passover and Sukkot). Agriculturally, it commemorates the time when the first fruits were harvested and brought to the Temple, and is known as Hag ha-Bikkurim (the Festival of the First Fruits). Historically, it celebrates the giving of the Torah at Mount Sinai, and is also known as Hag Matan Torateinu (the Festival of the Giving of Our Torah). http://www.jewfaq.org/holidayc.htm
The 3 Fall Feasts (Point to Jesus’ Second Coming):
The Day of Trumpets (Yom Teruah) – a call to repent. Preceded by 30 days of repentance and followed by 10 days of repentance. Better known as Rosh Hashannah (the new year) in modern Judaism. But Yom Teruah isn’t really the ‘Jewish New Year,’ in fact, it falls on the first day of Etanim, (also known traditionally as Tishri) which is the seventh month in YHVH’s calendar. The real ‘new year’ is in Aviv (also known traditionally as Nisan) when Pesakh/Passover occurs. Yom Teruah begins a ten-day period leading up to the holiest day of YHVH’s calendar, Yom Kippur — the “Day Of Atonement.” These ten days are called the ‘Days of Awe’ in modern Judaism. In fact, modern Judaism also includes the preceding month of Elul also as a time to prepare for the upcoming Fall moedim (appointed times). The sounding of the shofar on Yom Teruah is a wake-up blast — a reminder that the time is near for the Day of Atonement. It is time to teshuvah (repent, turn back to YHVH). Traditionally, these ten days are ones of heart searching and self examination — the shofar warns us we need to examine our lives and make amends with all those we have wronged in the previous year, and to ask forgiveness for any vows we may have broken. So a main theme of the Fall Holy Days is repentance. In non-Messianic traditional Judaism it is believed that YHVH records our names in the Book of Life during the Fall festivals. Hence, a common greeting you might hear before and during Yom Teruah is “May you be inscribed (in the book of life).” Another popular greeting is ‘L’shana Tova’ which is a wish for a good new year. Traditional foods on Yom Teruah are ‘sweet’ – apples dipped in honey (and sweet dishes made with apples, honey, raisins, figs, sweetened carrots, and pomegranates, etc. are served). The traditional challah bread is made sweeter and shaped in a circle, symbolizing completeness and never-ending sweetness. The rabbinic idea of this ‘sweetness’ was to bring a sense of optimism to the festival, since the themes of repentance and atonement might have made this season a somber time of remorse alone. Since there are many trumpets mentioned in Scripture, it is unwise to assume every mention of a trumpet necessarily refers to Yom Teruah, especially when making eschatological predictions regarding the Holy Days, as we are also commanded to sound the trumpet on Yom Kippur (Lev 25:9) to signify the Jubilee year. http://www.lightofmashiach.org/yomteruah.html
Day of Atonement (Yom Kippur): This day, a complete fast, is the holiest day of the Biblical calendar. It is a day of repentance. Through repentance, reconciliation with God takes place. This is also the day that the corporate sins of the Jewish nation were laid upon a scapegoat that was cast outside of the camp into the wilderness. Atonement prophetically speaks of the day when the Jews mourn and repent concerning their rejection of Jesus who is foreshadowed in the scapegoat. Thus, the Day of Atonement also points to the day when all Israel will be saved (Romans 11) as they return to the LORD forevermore. (Paul G’s notes: The “mourning” that occurs throughout all of Israel in the Scriptures is this.)
Feast of Tabernacles (Sukkoth): An eight-day celebratory feast coinciding with the final harvest of the year. For seven days the people moved out of their homes and lived in shelters called “Sukkah.” It was decorated with branches cut from palm, willow and other trees. This last feast prophetically speaks of the future celebration regarding the final harvest of mankind at the end of the age and the commencement of the Millennium. Today we eat in a Sukkah looking forward to the day when God will dwell on earth with us. But even during the Millennium, we will continue to keep this festival (Zech 14) to celebrate the fact that God dwells with man and is our covering (Sukkah) through Jesus the Messiah.
The Festival of Sukkot begins on Tishri 15, the fifth day after Yom Kippur. It is quite a drastic transition, from one of the most solemn holidays in our year to one of the most joyous. Sukkot is so unreservedly joyful that it is commonly referred to in Jewish prayer and literature as Z’man Simchateinu , the Season of our Rejoicing.
In honor of the holiday’s historical significance, we are commanded to dwell in temporary shelters, as our ancestors did in the wilderness. The temporary shelter is referred to as a sukkah (which is the singular form of the plural word “sukkot”). Like the word sukkot, it can be pronounced like Sue-KAH, or to rhyme with Book-a.
The sukkah is great fun for the children. Building the sukkah each year satisfies the common childhood fantasy of building a fort, and dwelling in the sukkah satisfies a child’s desire to camp out in the backyard. The commandment to “dwell” in a sukkah can be fulfilled by simply eating all of one’s meals there; however, if the weather, climate, and one’s health permit, one should spend as much time in the sukkah as possible, including sleeping in it.
Many Americans, upon seeing a decorated sukkah for the first time, remark on how much the sukkah (and the holiday generally) reminds them of Thanksgiving. This may not be entirely coincidental: I was taught that our American pilgrims, who originated the Thanksgiving holiday, borrowed the idea from Sukkot. The pilgrims were deeply religious people, living their lives in accordance with the Bible. When they were trying to find a way to express their thanks for their survival and for the harvest, they looked to the Bible for an appropriate way of celebrating and found the fall harvest festival of Sukkot. This is not the standard story taught in public schools today (that a Thanksgiving holiday is an ancient English pagan custom that the Pilgrims brought over), but that story doesn’t fit with the Pilgrims’ strict biblical views.