The True Meaning of Biblical Feast Days

How Jesus Fulfilled Biblical Feasts

How Jesus Fulfilled four Biblical feasts – click on the image to view it large in a new window

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If you haven’t yet watched my video whether Christians should celebrate biblical feast days, watch it here.

Biblical feast days are mentioned in Leviticus 23. At the beginning of this chapter we read:

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.

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.

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

[All the feasts are mentioned after these words. Please keep in mind that all YHWH’s feasts are celebrated from the evening before the date of the feast.]

(Leviticus 23:2-4)

To better understand these passages, it’s worth looking at the Hebrew meaning of the key-word of this chapter – the “feasts”.

When I look at my Brown Driver Briggs Hebrew Dictionary (the linked Amazon version is of a later edition than mine) for this word, I have these meanings before my eyes:

Feast – “mo-ed” from the root word “ya-ad” which means to “appoint, assign; appoint a time or place”. The same root word is used when YHWH promises to meet (“ya-ad”) and speak at the tent of Meeting (“mo-ed”) in Exodus 29:42.

How "moed" is translated in the Bible

How “moed” is translated in the Bible – screenshot taken from the BlueLetterBible.org – an invaluable resource

This word is translated as “congregation” around 150 times in the KJV Bible, and as “feast” only 23 times.

But actually in the Hebrew language we find another word standing for “feast”, which is “hag” which means “feast” or “festival”.

So if YHWH really wanted those times to be known as feasts, He would have used an appropriate word.

But instead He chose to use the word “mo-ed”. The best way to translate it is probably “meeting”, because it’s not so much about feasting than observing the appointed times that YHWH set for us to meet Him.

So when we understand this word to mean “meeting with YHWH” or the “appointed time with YHWH”, it becomes a much more important matter. This is the time that our Heavenly Father specifically set for us to meet with Him.

And although Israelites simply did as told and observed these appointed times (though not always), they did not understand the heart of those “meetings”. We as Christians should see a deeper meaning of each feast of YHWH, especially the spring feasts that Jesus has already fulfilled.

But just because He fulfilled them, that doesn’t mean we should stop celebrating them! Apostles and the members of the Early Church did not simply stop celebrating the Passover, for example, just because Jesus fulfilled it, though the celebrations should be observed with their fulfilment in mind, or having in mind the events yet to come.

On the Sabbath

Sabbath - the day of meditation on the word of YHWH

Sabbath – the day of meditation on the word of YHWH

Jesus also became our Sabbath, for He is the Lord of Sabbath. But that doesn’t mean that the Sabbath is abolished.

The Sabbath should be as significant to us today as it was to the Jews.

It’s the time of rest and meditation on the good works of YHWH and His laws.

It’s also told in the Bible that the Sabbath should not be exploited for your own pleasure, but should be fully dedicated to YHWH, and even your very thoughts should be not your own – as you should be meditating on YHWH’s works and laws (Isaiah 58:13-14).

If you do all these things, our Heavenly Father promises that He would then cause you to “ride upon the high places of the earth and feed you with the heritage of Jacob”.

I found this to be true – you will experience significant changes in your life for the better if you observe YHWH’s holy Sabbaths the way that He wants you to observe them. YHWH doesn’t break His promises, so if you want to experience His blessings, all you need to do is to follow His instructions.

THE SPRING FEASTS OF YHWH

The Feast of the Passover

Israelites marking the door with the Passover lamb's blood to escape the angel of death

Israelites marking the door with the Passover lamb’s blood to escape the angel of death

The Passover starts on the evening of the fourteenth day of the first month:

“In the fourteenth day of the month at even is the Lord’s passover.”

— Leviticus 23:5

That is Nisan 14th, which will fall on the 30th of March in 2018 (according to this calendar converter), but please do your own research on this as Jews themselves do not agree on the exact days of their celebrations.

This day was immediately followed by the seven days of the celebration of the Unleavened Bread which I will discuss next.

On the feast of the Passover Jews had to sacrifice a lamb in remembrance of their deliverance from Egypt. It was the blood of the lamb that saved them from the angel of death in Egypt.

Jesus became the lamb for us, so we no longer need to perform the blood sacrifice on this day.

During this celebration Jews eat bitter herbs and lament, and we should also afflict our souls because that was the day when our Lord was crucified and greatly suffered from wounds inflicted by the unbelievers.

In the Teachings of the Twelve Apostles we read that early Christians fasted on the Passover day as that was the day when our Lord was crucified. Yet since Jesus broke the bread and shared wine during the Passover meal and told His disciples to do this in remembrance of Him, I believe that Christians should follow this custom today as well.

The Feast of the Unleavened Bread

Straight after the Passover (Nisan 15th – 31st March 2018)  we are supposed to eat only unleavened bread for seven days. The lack of leaven also signifies the importance to be holy during these days and strive not to sin in any way, since leaven is associated with sin in the Bible.

This is indeed a “feast”, since the Hebrew word “hag” is mentioned in association with the Unleavened Bread period.

Believers should abstain from servile work on the first day of the Unleavened Bread as well as on the last day.

Unlike the seventh day Sabbaths during which no manner of work is allowed to be done, on the first and eighth days of the Unleavened Bread no servile work is allowed (Leviticus 23:7-8) but work to do with food preparation is allowed (Exodus 12:16).

On the first and last days of the Unleavened Bread believers should gather together to worship.

Jewish unleavened bread

Jewish unleavened bread

Unleavened bread is also the symbol of the body of Christ, since He told to be the bread of life, and He was even born in the “House of Bread” (Bethlehem – “Beyt” – house “Lehem” – bread).

What’s even more extraordinary, is that the unleavened bread that Jews eat during this celebration is striped, pierced and without any leaven, which is the symbol of the sinless body of Jesus being striped and pierced!

And there’s even more than this – a piece of the broken middle bread is hidden by Jews to be retrieved and eaten later (on the Passover) and this middle bread is a great mystery for them also, because they do not understand why it doesn’t get blessed like the other food (because Jesus was cursed for us!), and why it’s hidden (Jesus’ body resting in the tomb), and why it’s retrieved (because He rose again!).

They also do not understand the Aramaic prayer that they have to say with regards to this “bread of affliction” as they call it, which is this:

I am ready and prepared to perform the commandment of eating the afikoman (the piece of broken bread that’s hidden), to unite the Holy One blessed be He and His Divine Presence through the hidden and secret Guardian on behalf of all Israel.

…but this prayer should be significant to Christians!

The festival of First Fruits

The first agricultural produce of the harvest were offered to YHWH by Israelites

The first agricultural produce of the harvest was offered to YHWH by Israelites

The First Fruits should be celebrated on the first Sunday following the Passover (April 1st, 2018).

During it no servile work should be done as it’s the holy day of gathering of the believers to worship.

In Leviticus 23:14 we also read an instruction that is established forever by YHWH, that on this day we are not allowed to eat bread, parched corn, or green ears until the offering of the burnt lamb. But since Jesus has become our lamb, we may consider that offering to be already done.

Jesus not only became our Passover and Unleavened Bread, but First Fruits as well, since His sacrifice was accepted by His Father, since the Father received Him back to Heaven! So again, Jews did the prescribed rituals without knowing what they stood for, but now we do!

Jews during this festival offered their first fruits of the harvest to the Lord, and it would be well for us to give of our own fruits of labour in support of some Christian organization during this day. During this day we should also remember that Jesus has become the first fruits (1 Corinthians 15:20) and we will be next at our resurrection.

The day of Pentecost

New meat offering to the Lord

New meat offering to the Lord

Sivan 13 – May 27th 2018 – 50 days after the First Fruits celebration is the festival of Pentecost. (Please count yourself to be double-sure of the accuracy of the date.)

In Leviticus 23:21 we read that on this day no servile work should be done, and that this instruction is valid forever.

It’s the day for believers to gather together for worship.

Leviticus 23:22 suggests not to reap the harvest of the field fully but to leave the corners for the poor to glean.

This can be applied in our days in a different way – on this day we may choose to give money, food, or anything else that we have to offer to the poor.

Finally, fifty days after His resurrection, Jesus sent His Holy Spirit to those who believed in Him.

Israelites celebrated this festival by offering a “new meat offering to the Lord” (Leviticus 23:16) which were two loaves now baked with leaven.

Some believe these two loaves symbolise gentiles being allowed to become the children of God together with Israelites. But I believe that it means that God is willing to accept this offering with “leaven” which is a symbol of all of us – believers – who are accepted by YHWH because we believe in His sinless Son.

And also, I believe that it’s true that Torah was given on the day of Pentecost, because on the same day believers received the Holy Spirit after the ascension of Christ! Torah was given in stone, but YHWH also promised to write His law on our hearts (Jeremiah 31:33); so would it be so surprising that on the same appointed time that the Law was given to Israelites on stone tablets, it was written on the hearts of believers after the ascension of Yeshua?

During this day Christians should rejoice and celebrate, because the falling of the Holy Spirit on the believers was the greatest gift received!

THE FALL FEASTS OF YHWH – YET TO BE FULFILLED

The feast of Trumpets

Ram's horn used by ancient Israelites for religious ceremonies and as a war signal

Ram’s horn used by ancient Israelites for religious ceremonies and as a war signal

The feast of Trumpets is celebrated on the first day of the seventh month (should be 10th of September, 2018).

This day is again considered to be a Sabbath, so no servile work should be done but believers should gather together to worship.

Some believe that the real meaning of the feast of Trumpets is to represent the Rapture of the Church.

When the living believers will hear the trumpet, they will cease from their work and be taken to be with the Lord forever – which is the real meaning of a shadow of what was – when Israelites would hear the trumpet and would cease from their labours and go to the temple to worship.

The day of Atonement

The day of Atonement is celebrated on the 10th day of the seventh month (September 19, 2018). It’s the day for believers to gather for worship, so no work should be done on it.

Please notice that here we are asked, unlike during other appointed times, to do no kind of work rather then no servile work. This means that we should cease from all the works like we do on the day of Sabbath, and therefore we are not allowed to do work in connection with food preparation either.

Jews wearing white burial robes on the Day of Atonement to show their humbleness before the Lord

Jews wearing white burial robes on the Day of Atonement to show their humbleness before the Lord

This is one of the most important days of the year, and YHWH emphasizes the importance of not doing any work during that day and if anyone breaks this instruction, that soul would be destroyed; the same is said about those souls who do not humble themselves during this day. (Leviticus 23: 29-30)

It’s told that no manner of work should be done during it, and that this instruction is “throughout your generations in all your dwellings”. (Leviticus 23:31)

Humbling of oneself (which was usually done with fasting) and no work should be done from the evening of the ninth day of the seventh month till the next evening, as it’s specified in Leviticus 23:32.

During this appointed time, which was the holiest day of the Jewish year, Israelites would afflict themselves and offer a burnt offering to the Lord. That purification process cleansed the Israelites from a multitude of sins.

If the name of the celebration is read syllable-by-syllable, we get “Yom “Ke”-“Purim”, which means “the day of deliverance and salvation” which may be a shadow for the cleansing work of our Messiah, since He purged our sins.

However, if you look at the Hebrew root of the word, it is the word which means “ransom” which again points to our Messiah.

Holy of Holies - the inner sanctuary of the temple

Holy of Holies – the inner sanctuary of the temple

It was the great intercession day when a High Priest was allowed to enter the Holy of Holies and call on the name of YHWH and offer the blood sacrifice.

This was the only day that he was allowed to enter the most sacred part of the temple.

This day has a different meaning for Christians who believe in the Messiah.

Some believe that it serves as a prophetic prediction of the Second Coming of our Messiah when He would punish the wicked and regather Israel into the promised land.

During this day Jews fast, pray and go to the temple. They believe that the way that the soul atones for its sins on this day will seal its fate, so this day is indeed the most important of all.

How should Christians celebrate this holiday? Do we need to afflict ourselves with fasting so that our sins are forgiven? No. Our sins were already forgiven by our Saviour. So on this day we need to greatly rejoice that our Saviour has done this great act of atonement for us!

And if we committed sins after being saved, this is a perfect day to confess them in the name of Yeshua (though it’s best to confess them as soon as we commit them, and it’s better to strive not to commit them in the first place!), because it is written that if we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive them (1 John 1:9).

This day is the Sabbath of Sabbaths – in it no work whatsoever should be done unless your life depends on it. It’s also the day when Jews held a total fast for 25 hours, but that was for the forgiveness of their sins (in an indirect way – they afflicted their souls in order to be favored by YHWH), but it no longer applies to us since our sins have been forgiven.

The feast of Tabernacles

Palm branches decorations for the Feast of Tabernacles

Palm branches decorations for the Feast of Tabernacles

The feast of Tabernacles is celebrated on the 15th – 22nd day of the seventh month (September 24th – October 1st 2018).

The first day of this feast should be dedicated for the gathering of the believers for worship, and no servile work should be done during it, as well as on the 8th day as we read in Leviticus 23:39.

During this great holiday period we are supposed to rejoice before YHWH:

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.

— Leviticus 23:40

Unlike the “appointed times”, this is truly a feast of YHWH because He tells it to be so – the word used to describe this celebration is no longer “mo-ed” which stands for the “appointed time” but “hag” which indeed stands for “feast”.

YHWH's tabernacle surrounded by Israelite tents

YHWH’s tabernacle surrounded by Israelite tents

This was the celebration of the Jews during which YHWH asked Jews to remember how they were sheltered by Him during the Exodus.

For Christians this celebration has a new meaning. We are sheltered by the blood of Yeshua, and we wait for that amazing day when our Christ will tabernacle with us on this earth!

So again, this day should be celebrated with joy in anticipation of the great day to come.

Indeed it’s good on this day to remember how Jews were sheltered by YHWH during the time when they were in wilderness, as well as how our lives are hidden in Christ (Colossians 3:3) from Satan.

Conclusion

So as you can see, the nature of the appointed times has greatly changed after the first coming of our Messiah and His self-sacrifice. Now the feasts have taken on a much deeper meaning than the rituals Israelites were told to do.

We see that these times really stand for the saving work of Yeshua, as well as for what’s yet to come. So for Christians these days should be the days of awe and joy, as it is truly incredible to see how accurately the spring feasts were fulfilled, and what is yet to happen.

Isn’t it amazing to be so honored by YHWH as to see what those appointed times celebrated by Jews for so long really mean, when Jews themselves still follow shadows and rituals not yet seeing their significance?

We should be so grateful for this, and we should never forget these celebrations, though they should not be celebrated as they were before the coming of the Messiah, but with the view of what has been accomplished and what is yet to come.

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Comments

  1. A YouTube user expressed his concern about the evening start of biblical feasts which he thought originated from Talmud. Here’s my answer:

    I understand your concern, but evening is indeed the biblical start of the day – it did not originate from Talmud. YHWH emphasized in Leviticus 23:32 the importance of celebrating that holy day from evening to evening because it was an important matter.

    But He also specified this in relation to the Unleavened Bread in Exodus 12:18, for example, or in Exodus 12:42
    about the Passover.

    The first day is counted from the evening in Genesis 1:5; 1:8; 1:13, etc. Jesus was not allowed to be left on the
    cross after the sunset since the day that started after the sunset was a High Day. Also verses such as Nehemiah 13:19 or John 20:1 (Mary coming to the tomb after the end of the Sabbath, whilst yet it was dark – “early in the first day of the week”) indeed show that the biblical day starts at evening.

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