In the Book of Leviticus, Chapter 23:1-2, it states: “The Lord said to Moses, ‘Speak to the Israelites and say to them: These are my appointed festivals, the appointed festivals of the LORD, which you are to proclaim as sacred assemblies.’” From a Christian viewpoint, the Appointed Festivals of the Lord tell the story of the Messiah’s arrival on earth and of His eventual return.
In Christian terms, the first four appointed festivals have already been accomplished by Jesus Christ, with the final three to be fulfilled by Him. However, of the so-called seven feasts, there are three that are major, celebrational festivals: the Feast of Unleavened Bread, The Feast of Pentecost and the Feast of Tabernacles. Each of the major feasts were to be attended annually in Jerusalem by every adult Jewish male.
The Feast of Passover — held annually on the 14th day of Nisan, the first month of the Jewish religious calendar — memorializes the night that God saved the Jewish people from slavery and death, and set them free. This is a foundational feast that corresponds to the Last Supper and the death on the cross of the Messiah, Jesus Christ.
The Feast of Unleavened Bread immediately follows Passover, and lasts seven days, to revere the gift of unleavened bread during the Passover. A celebration of the gift of bread baked without yeast, called leaven. The people were to depend upon God and to live sin-free lives. Yeast was a symbol for sin.
The Feast of First Fruits – a celebration of the first and the best of the spring barley harvest, when the priest thanked God by waving a sheaf of the first barley of the season. This corresponds to Christ’s resurrection from the dead, as He is the first fruit of the redeemed people of God.
The Feast of Pentecost (The Feast of Weeks) is the wheat harvest of the season, commemorating the giving of the Law to Moses. In the Christian era, Pentecost was the arrival of the Holy Spirit, promised after Christ Jesus justified the requirements of the law.
The Feast of Yom Teruah (Trumpets, also known as Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year) — The Lord told Moses, “Say to the Israelites: ‘On the first day of the seventh month you are to have a day of Sabbath rest, a sacred assembly commemorated with trumpet blasts.’” (Leviticus. 23:24) The trumpet blasts called the people in to worship in the Temple. Correspondence to the Christian era is the blowing of trumpets to usher in the Messianic era. It is believed by some Christians to be the Rapture of the Church. “And he will send his angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.” (Matthew 24:31)
The Feast of Yom Kippur (The Day of Atonement) is celebrated 10 days after the Feast of Trumpets, and was the only day of the year that the high priest entered the Temple’s Holy of Holies to seek God’s forgiveness of his sins and those of the people of Israel (Leviticus Ch. 16). When an acceptable sacrifice was received, all sins were forgiven for the next year. The Christian belief is that when Christ Jesus returns, this feast will be for the atonement of new Jewish believers in Messiah. For Christians the atonement took place on the cross and is fulfilled in the lives of His believers.
The Feast of Tabernacles (Booths, or Sukkot in Hebrew) is the greatest harvest of the fall when for seven days the people live in huts/booths/tabernacles in commemoration of when God lived with His people in the desert. The Christian belief is that Christ will defeat Satan, which will initiate the thousand-year reign of Christ on earth.
The Rev. Wilfred Verhoff is priest associate at St. Andrew’s Anglican Church in Lewis Center.