The Jewish Days of Awe are almost here so I thought this would be the time to explain the Biblical Feasts and how they relate to Christians. This is a VERY brief overview of subjects that would take weeks and someone more skilled than me to explain. If you’d like to explore these topics more fully, I suggest exploring Hebrew4christians.com, levitt.com egrc.net, or biblicalholidays.com.
Many Christians never read the Old Testament. They think it’s dry, boring, incomprehensible, and about a brutal God. They believe that the Law was fulfilled by Christ and is no longer relevant to us today. They couldn’t be more wrong.
It is true that we no longer have to offer sacrifices of lambs and goats and bulls because of what Christ did. He is the better sacrifice, given once for all.
Christians often consider the Law of Moses (or Torah) as bad, but it is actually good if seen the right way. “Torah” means “instruction” or “way” in Hebrew, and God’s instructions/ways are good. We see it in a bad way because we are sinful people who can’t keep God’s instructions no matter how hard we try. Many people, even Christians, try very hard to be good enough to win God’s favor and deserve His love, but it is impossible. We need a Savior. That’s where Jesus comes in. He perfectly fulfilled the Torah, He was our sacrifice, and He did for us what we could never do for ourselves. Christ didn’t do away with God’s commandments, He fulfilled–lived–them perfectly. We are declared righteous when we trust in His work on our behalf.
It is said that “The Old Testament is the New Testament concealed, and the New Testament is the Old Testament revealed.” We cannot truly understand the New Testament apart from the Old Testament. I think the Old Testament is sort of like blueprints. Blueprints show how a building is going to be constructed. When the building is constructed, they “fulfill” the blueprints, but that doesn’t mean that the blueprints are irrelevant. In fact, a person could look at the blueprints and discover things about the building that can’t be easily known by those in the building–things such as wiring, ventilation, plumbing, and so on. A blueprint would be worth studying even after the building was built. In the same sort of way, the Old Testament reveals a lot of beautiful truth about the New Testament that we can’t understand without it.
For example, it’s rather boring to read about the Tabernacle, but if you study it in detail, the New Testament comes alive. The Tabernacle reveals Christ and His work. The materials, colors, and the way it is constructed teaches about Christ. Here a just a few of the many truths taught by the Tabernacle: the Tabernacle was ugly from the outside, but beautiful from the inside. Christ is “foolishness” to those who don’t believe, but to those of us who believe, He is beautiful. A person came into the Tabernacle courtyard through four curtained gates, which represents the Gospels. The first thing a person approached was the brazen altar, which speaks of judgment. A person could go no further without a sacrifice being made to cleanse him from his sin. We cannot approach God without the sacrifice of Christ. Next, a person would approach the laver, which was a basin of water that reflected the sky and the person’s face when he looked into it. We are washed through the Word that reveals the truth of God and ourselves. The first section of the Tabernacle was the Holy Place. It had a large menorah in it, a table of bread, and an altar of incense. This speaks of Christ as the Light of the World, the Living Bread, and our Intercessor…and so on. It’s all deeply and profoundly beautiful.
We no longer have to offer sacrifices because Christ was our sacrifice. However, when we study how the sacrifices were offered and what they meant, we get a deeper understanding of what Christ did for us. Just one fact: A person offering a sacrifice had to lean on the animal, identifying himself with it, and slit the animal’s throat himself. The priests did not kill the animal. This was done so the offerer could see that an innocent animal was dying in his place, and that sin costs something, and it is ugly and messy. Also, four days before the Passover lamb was killed, the animal was chosen by the family and had to be examined by the priests and declared to be without blemish for the sacrifice. Then the lamb was brought into the home, and cared for by the family. When the lamb was sacrificed, it wasn’t just an unknown animal from the herd, it had become a family pet, much cared for and loved. On Palm Sunday, Jesus was being presented to the people and they chose Him as their Passover Lamb (John 12:13). At His trial, he was examined and it was declared, “I find no fault in Him.” He was the perfect Passover Lamb. He was killed as a sacrifice, having lived among His people. Without an understanding of the Old Testament, we have only a superficial understanding of what Christ did for us. We also miss what it means for us to “present our bodies a living sacrifice.” Bible.org has good teaching about the sacrifices in its study, Learning to Love Leviticus.
These are just a few ways in which an understanding of the Old Testament deepens our understanding of the New Testament. Truly, the more I study the Old Testament, the more I understand and am awed by what Christ has done for me. Jesus said in John 5:39: “You study the Scriptures diligently because you think that in them you have eternal life. These are the very Scriptures that testify about me…” In Luke 24:44, Jesus said, “This is what I told you while I was still with you: Everything must be fulfilled that is written about me in the Law of Moses, the Prophets and the Psalms.” The Scriptures He is referring to is the Old Testament, since the New Testament had not yet been written. M.R. De Haan, in His book, “Portraits of Christ in Genesis,” wrote that every verse in the Bible speaks of Christ.
Ok. Now on to the Biblical Feasts, which are described in Leviticus 23. Passover, the Feast of Unleavened Bread, and First Fruits are celebrated in the Spring. Pentecost occurs 50 days later. The Feast of Trumpets, the Day of Atonement, and the Feast of Tabernacles are celebrated in the Fall during the Days of Awe. They occur in September or October. The late Zola Levitt, a Jewish believer, wrote that the Feasts all describe the major events of Christ’s life:
Passover: The sacrifice of Christ
Feast of Unleavened Bread: His burial
Feast of First Fruits: His resurrection
Pentecost: The birth of the church
Feasts of Trumpets: the Rapture of the church
Day of Atonement: The Second Coming
The Feast of Tabernacles: The Millennial Kingdom
Each of these Feasts are beautiful, and have so much deep truth to them. I’m so amazed when I study or celebrate them. At the time of each Feast, I will try to share a little bit about them–and refer you to site where you can study them in-depth.
Right now, the Jews are celebrating the 40 days of Teshuvah (repentance) in which they examine their lives, and repent of sin. The Feast of Trumpets will be at the end of this month. It celebrates
- the Jewish New Year
- God’s Royalty (Coronation Day)
- the Day of Judgment
- Remembrance (Yom Ha-Zikaron, the day of remembrance)
- Birthday of the World (when the world was created)
Zola Levitt wrote that the Feast of Trumpets teaches about the Rapture. In Bible times, Jews would be harvesting their crops in the fields, right along with Arabs. When it was time for the Feast to begin, the priest would stand in the corner of the Temple and blow the shofar (trumpet). When the shofar sounded, the Jews would all immediately stop harvesting their crops and would go up to the Temple to worship, leaving the non-Jews still working in the fields. This is what is being described in Matthew 24:39:41:
That is how it will be at the coming of the Son of Man. 40 Two men will be in the field; one will be taken and the other left. 41 Two women will be grinding with a hand mill; one will be taken and the other left.
1 Thessalonians 4:16-18 says: For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. 17 After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever. 18 Therefore encourage one another with these words.
When the trumpet (shofar) sounds, believers will immediately, in a twinkling of an eye, rise to meet Jesus and be with Him forever. Those who do not know Him will remain, just as Jew and Gentiles worked in the fields together, and at the sound of the shofar, the Jews immediately left and the Gentiles remained.
For more on these beautiful holidays, click on these links: