Feast Days 101

A simplified list of the Biblical Feasts which the Lord Jehovah Himself tells us, “These are My set appointed meeting times.” (Leviticus 23:2)

The Seventh-day Sabbath

The Sabbath is God’s weekly meeting day which He established on the 7th day of Creation when He laid the foundations of the earth (Genesis 2:2-3). God decreed that it is “holy” and gave a special blessing on this day (Exodus 20:11). God asks us to “remember” The Sabbath day (Exodus 20:8). It is to be a memorial of both Creation (Genesis 2:3; Exodus 20:11) and God’s work of Salvation (Deuteronomy 5:15). Jesus tells us that God made the Sabbath for us (Mark 2:27) and that He is Lord of the Sabbath (Matthew 12:8). 

God’s blessing on the Sabbath did not come to an end at the Cross. And the day of the week for Sabbath was not changed at the Cross. Nowhere in Scripture is there any blessing given to the first day of the week, or any other day, and no text shows any change in God’s mind about His Holy Day of worship. But there is reference to Sabbath observance far into the New Earth (Isaiah 66:23). Even the 24 Elders who are in Heaven and the Heavenly Beings worship God for His act of Creation (Revelation 4:11).

    • This day is to be celebrated by assembling together with like believers and coming apart from our usual activities (Leviticus 23:3; Deuteronomy 5:14) so that we can reflect solely upon God and His great acts.
    • God has asked that His Sabbath be kept as a day of rest (Deuteronomy 5:14), both as a memorial of His rest at Creation, and because He knows that the human body needs a rest for healing and mental health. It is also a symbol pointing to the future when Jesus will rest from His work of Salvation and we will rest from the sin of this planet.
    • Jesus made an example of doing good on the Sabbath (Mark 3:4-5; Matthew 12:11-12).
    • God has asked us to keep the Sabbath holy (Exodus 20:8) which we will be unable to perform truly until we are holy beings. It is a day to rehearse living in holiness because it points forward to a time when we will be reunited with God and join Him in holiness and rest (Hebrews 4:1-11). If we were to be sure that all sins were confessed and forsaken each week before Sabbath began, there would be no way for sin to take root in our lives. We would have a better understanding of sin and its seeds and a better chance of avoiding its snares.
    • Many Sabbath-keepers find a blessing in having the house clean and Sabbath meals prepared ahead of time to avoid the work of cooking or cleaning on the Sabbath. God set the example of this when He commanded the children of Israel to gather double portions of manna on Friday and have it all prepared before the Sabbath (Exodus 16:23).
    • God told the children of Israel not to kindle a fire on the Sabbath (Exodus 35:1-3). This has been practiced by some Jews by not turning on a light on Sabbath. But the deeper meaning can be seen in the verse that says, “A fire is kindled in My anger and it shall burn to the lowest hell.” (Deuteronomy 32:21-22) God would like us to not kindle a fire in His wrath and not provoke Him to jealousy by putting other gods before Him—especially on His Holy Day.
    • In two places in the Bible we are told not to bear a burden on the Sabbath (Nehemiah 13; Jeremiah 17). Both passages are referring to the buying and selling that was going on in Jerusalem on the Sabbath. Clearly God does not encourage shopping or merchandising on His Sabbath.
    • There is another meaning tied into this word “burden.” When God was talking about rescuing the children of Israel from Egypt, He specifically pointed to releasing them from the burdens that the Egyptians had placed on them (Exodus 1:11; 6:6-7). Being freed in mind from the burdens of our daily lives is truly in keeping with the spirit of the Sabbath. Let your cares fall away during the hours of the Sabbath.

God’s desire for His Sabbath is that it will be a delight to us and a day of joy and refreshing.

     “If you turn away your foot from [trampling] the Sabbath, from doing your pleasure on My holy day; and call the Sabbath a delight, the holy day of the Lord honourable, and shall honor Him, not doing your own ways, nor finding your own pleasure, nor speaking your own words;
     “Then you shall delight yourself in the Lord; and I will cause you to ride on the high hills of the earth, and feed you with the heritage of Jacob your father. The mouth of the LORD Has spoken.” (Isaiah 58:13-14)


 

The following Holy Days are to be celebrated yearly at their appointed times. “These are the Feasts of the LORD, even holy convocations, which ye shall proclaim in their seasons. (Leviticus 23:4) Unlike the weekly Sabbath, these holy days may fall on various days of the week, with one exception, and are marked by counting days or months from the first day of the Biblical New Year. The Sabbath days within these Feasts are known as “High Sabbaths” or “High Holy Days.”

The Feast of Unleavened Bread (includes Passover)

This Biblical Holiday contains two days that are also to be celebrated as Sabbaths by setting the time apart from our regular lives. This Holiday contains a preparation day, a memorial of Christ’s death and His resurrection, a firstfruits offering, a rehearsal for removing sin from our hearts, and a memorial of God’s work in rescuing us from sin.

The Holiday lasts for eight days in total with Sabbaths and assemblies falling on the first and the seventh days of the Feast. The extra day is the preparation day that comes before the first Sabbath and is the specific day that commemorates Christ’s death as the Passover. The seven days of this Holiday are to be celebrated by:

    • Eating unleavened bread in memory of Christ’s body which He gave in place of our own death (Luke 22:19; Deuteronomy 16:3; Exodus 12:18).
    • Drinking unfermented grape juice in memory of Christ’s blood with which He signed God’s covenant with mankind by giving His life for us (Luke 22:20; Exodus 24:8; Hebrews 13:20).
    • Abstaining from all foods containing yeast in rehearsal of abstaining from all sin (Exodus 12:19-20; 13:7).
    • On the first day of the Feast you are to remove all leaven from your house (Exodus 12:15-20; Deuteronomy 16:4). This is thought to be the origin of the practice of Spring Cleaning. This activity is a symbolic lesson about removing deep-set sin from all the cracks and crevices of our lives (1 Corinthians 5:7-8).
    • Setting apart quality time to learn about and reflect on God’s past, present and future actions to save us from the enemy of sin and to rescue us from the slavery of death (Exodus 13:14; Zechariah 9:11).

A special memorial in this Feast comes just before sundown before the first day of Unleavened Bread. This was the time when Jesus was crucified as our Passover. This is the “preparation day” in which the Passover was prepared and eaten. (Matthew 27:62; Mark 15:42; Luke 22:7-9, 23:54; John 19:14, 31) The following day is the First Day of Unleavened Bread which is always a Sabbath day. In the past, the Passover was celebrated by killing, roasting and eating the lamb and spreading its blood on the doorposts. Both the symbols of the lamb’s body and blood pointed forward to the sacrifice of Jesus as our Passover lamb. Before He died, Jesus showed a change in these memorial symbols when He said that His body will now be represented by breaking the unleavened bread, and His blood would be commemorated by drinking the grape juice (Luke 22:15-20).

The meal that Christ ate with His disciples when He changed these symbols of the Passover is often referred to as “The Lord’s Supper,” making this a new name for the Passover meal. Some churches hold a foot-washing ceremony and take wafers and wine which they call the “Ordinance of the Lord’s Supper.” Though intended to honor the Lord’s death, this ceremony is not defined in the Bible. But Jesus and Paul encourage us to keep the Passover meal, breaking the bread and drinking the wine, to honor Christ’s death (1 Corinthians 11:24-26). And Jesus gave the command, “Do this in remembrance of Me.” (Luke 22:19)

Another highlight falls on the day which follows the weekly Sabbath contained within this Feast. In Old Testament times this day was known as the day of the “wave sheaf” offering (Leviticus 23:10-11), but now marks the day of Christ’s resurrection from the grave and the acceptance of His offering by God. This special memorial always falls on the first day of the week (Sunday) during the Feast and is to be celebrated on one day of the year.

The Feast of Weeks (Pentecost)

(also called Pentecost, the Feast of Firstfruits, Shavuot or “Counting the Omer”)

This is a single Holy Day that is linked to the Feast of Unleavened Bread in a unique way. It is to be counted by one of two different methods from that memorial day of Christ’s resurrection. You may count “seven Sabbaths” to arrive at the correct date for this feast, which explains why it is called the “Feast of Weeks” or “Shavuot” (which means “weeks” in some Hebrew dialects.) You then hold the feast on the next day after this seventh Sabbath on the first day of the week. Or, you may count 50 days from the memorial of Christ’s resurrection and arrive at the same day. This is why the Feast is known by its Greek name “Pentecost” which means “count fifty” and today’s Hebrew name “Counting the Omer.” These two methods of counting (Leviticus 23:15-16; Deuteronomy 16:9) clarify and ensure that this feast will always be kept on the first day of the week.

In Old Testament times it was known that this Feast celebrated two memorials. It was known as the second wave sheaf offering or the “firstfruits of the wheat harvest” (Exodus 34:22) and it also commemorated the event of God giving the Law from atop Mount Sinai [1]. Fifty days after Christ’s resurrection it became the day of the abundant outpouring of the Holy Spirit on the disciples. This significantly showed God’s intent to remain true to His calendar even after the Cross. It also clearly taught that salvation was no longer just for the Jews, but for anyone who believes in the Son of God and accepts Him as their Saviour.

Although the timing of this Feast correlates to the giving of the Law at Sinai, there is no specific reference in Scripture to tie this holiday to that event. But after the outpouring of the Holy Spirit, it can be seen clearly that this meaning does tie in with the Feast since God links together His Law and the Holy Spirit:

     “Then will I sprinkle clean water on you, and you shall be clean; I will cleanse you from all your filthiness and from all your idols. I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; I will take the heart of stone out of your flesh, and give you a heart of flesh. I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will keep My judgments and do them.” (Ezekiel 36:25-27)

This text ties together three seemingly unrelated topics: God’s Law, baptism and the outpouring of the Holy Spirit. This Feast is to be celebrated as a Sabbath by coming apart from our regular occupations and worshiping God. It is to be kept as a sacred assembly. It is a memorial, past and future, of God’s ability to cleanse us from sin and teach us to keep His Law. It commemorates:

    • The signing of God’s covenant.
    • Christ’s inauguration in Heaven (Revelation 5).
    • The outpouring of the Holy Spirit, both the early rain on the Disciples (Acts 2:1-4) and the latter rain that will ripen the final harvest (Jeremiah 5:24; Hosea 6:3; Joel 2:23; Zechariah 10:1; James 5:7; Revelation 14:15). This brings in the beginning of the “Loud Cry” (Isaiah 58:1).
    • Baptism (John 3:4-6).
    • The second offering of firstfruits (Revelation 14:4).

This second firstfruits offering was to be uniquely kept with leaven (Leviticus 23:17). This commemorates sinful man who would be resurrected and also sinful man who would be cleansed of sin. This also ties in the topic of Revelation’s 144,000 firstfruits. (Rev. 7 & 14)

The Feast of Trumpets

(Yom Teruah, or incorrectly called Rosh Hashanah)

This is another single Holy Day that is to be celebrated as a Sabbath (Leviticus 23:24-25) and kept by an assembly of believers. It falls on the first day of the seventh month of the Biblical Calendar. It can fall on any day of the week. It is specifically designed to be “a memorial of the blowing of Trumpets.” (Leviticus 23:24) This points back to Numbers 10:1-10 which brings in the meanings of this Feast which are:

    • Sounding an alarm.
    • Obeying the call of God’s voice when He tells you to get your lives in order or go into battle.
    • God will remember us when we call upon Him in distress.
    • The final loud cry of salvation to be given to the world.

The Feast of Trumpets appropriately comes ten days before the Day of Atonement as an alarm that the end of Grace is fast approaching (Joel 2:1). Its lessons point to both God sending us an alarm and us calling on God in distress. The phrase “blowing of trumpets” is teruah which can mean a trumpet blast, a shout (even a shout for joy) and an alarm.

The Feast ties into the 7 Trumpets of Revelation (Rev. 8-11) and the time of Jacob’s trouble (Jeremiah 30; Genesis 32-33). An excellent text representing this day is found in Psalm 107 which says, “Then they cried unto the LORD in their trouble, and he delivered them out of their distresses.” God calls it “a memorial” and says that He will remember us! (Numbers 10:9)

This day is celebrated by worshiping God, setting apart our time as a Sabbath and studying or reviewing these lessons, past and future.

Without fully understanding the meaning of this Feast, the Jews have ascribed to it the Jewish New Year (Rosh Hashanah or “head of the year”) following the civil calendars of ancient times. But it is not Scripturally celebrated as new year since this Feast falls in the seventh month which cannot also be the first month (Leviticus 23:24). Furthermore, God refers to this seventh month as “year’s end” (Exodus 34:22) and He has given instruction about when to begin the year (Exodus 12:2).

The Day of Atonement

(Yom Kippur)

This is another single Feast Day that can fall on any day of the week but is to be kept strictly as a Sabbath with a congregation of believers (Leviticus 23:27-32). It commemorates the “cleansing of the Sanctuary” which was done one day per year (Leviticus 16). This act pointed forward to the one single day when Christ will wipe all our record of sin out of the books of heaven (Zechariah 3:9; Hebrews 10:25). This means that all of our sins need to be confessed and forsaken by that day, giving the reason why the alarm of the trumpets is sounded ten days earlier.

We are commanded to “afflict our souls” on this day (Leviticus 23:29) in anticipation of the solemn event that will occur in the heavenly realms. Some people may celebrate this day with fasting from all food. Though there is no harm in this type of a fast for a healthy person, this is not the kind of affliction God desires (Isaiah 58) and fasting from food is not specifically mentioned.

The Word “Atonement,” or Kippur, means purging or cleansing and breaks down in English to “At-One-ment” showing that it refers to a moment when Christ will declare to His Father that His work is done and He has restored mankind to be one again with God. This is the most solemn day of the year and the pinnacle of Christ’s work. The one and only final Atonement is shown several times in the book of Daniel:

    • Daniel 2:34 – It is Christ at the moment of Atonement that strikes the blow to the feet of the image.
    • Daniel 7:14 – It is at the Atonement that Christ is given the everlasting kingdom (Revelation 11:15-19).
    • Daniel 8:14 – The Atonement is the act that puts an end to the reign of terror caused by the Little Horn.
    • Daniel 9:26 – The Atonement will mark the “end of the war.”
    • Daniel 12:1 – “At that time shall Michael stand up” is the action of making the final Atonement.

When the actual final Day of Atonement occurs, the Beings in Heaven will look on in silent awe and anticipation (Rev. 8:1).

The Feast of Tabernacles

(The Feast of Ingathering or Sukkot)

This is a seven-day feast with a Sabbath falling on the first and eighth days. It is a past memorial of the wilderness wandering (Leviticus 23:43) and holds many lessons for our future. It is a time of Thanksgiving for God’s blessings and a time to rejoice that the burden of sin has been lifted off of us. It is a time to rehearse living without sin.

It is celebrated by building a wilderness shelter made of tree branches on the first day which you will live in for seven days while you rejoice before the Lord (Leviticus 23:40-43). It is also the time to remember the poor among you and provide a way for them to attend the Feast, perhaps even paying their wages so they too can take off the whole week to celebrate (Deuteronomy 14:28-29; 26:12; Luke 14:13; John 13:29). Some of the many lessons of this Holiday are:

    • Thanksgiving for the shelter and providence of God.
    • Our homes are only temporary shelter as we journey to a promised land—The Earth Made New.
    • God will shelter His people during the Trumpets and 7 Last Plagues (Isaiah 26:20-21).
    • A future time when God’s people may need to flee from the wicked before Christ’s Second Coming. Though building a booth is a rehearsal for building a wilderness shelter, God’s protection will be our only protection.
    • Joy in the Atonement that will make it possible for the lion to lie down with the lamb and to eat grass like an ox—a time when sin will be ended.
    • A time for publicly reading the Torah out loud in the hearing of the people (Deuteronomy 31:9-11) .

The Last Great Day

(Sometimes called “Simhat Torah” or rejoicing in the law)

This is technically a separate Feast, but comes as the eighth day of the Feast of Tabernacles. It is a High Sabbath commemorating the day of our resurrection and of the Second Coming of Christ (John 6-7). Jesus repeatedly says, “And I will raise him up at the last day.”

The meaning of this Feast has never been understood by the Jews. It has been kept in the past by a water-pouring ceremony which Jesus redirected onto Himself when He stood in the temple on this day of the Feast and said, “If any man thirst, let him come unto Me and drink.” (John 7:37-40) The Jews have also kept it as a day of rejoicing in the Law of God. This is appropriate in two ways. First, it marks the end of the year’s reading of the Torah. Second, it will mark the time when God’s Law is at last restored in the universe, and in mankind, bringing an end to sin.

 

The Biblical Feast Days did not end at the Cross

Here is a summary of the Scriptural evidence:

  1. God’s true worship was planned at Creation when God set up His calendar on the fourth day of Creation and His weekly Sabbath on the seventh day (Gen 1:14; 2:2-3). He gave the lights in the Heavens to mark His “set appointed meeting times” (moed). He then tells what these “meetings” are in Leviticus 23 and says, “These are My Feasts.”
  2. The light in the Heavens that God chose to mark His “set appointed meeting times” (moed) is the moon. “He appointed the moon for moed. (Psalm 104:19).
  3. Except for the weekly Sabbath, the Feasts were instituted at the Fall because that is when the Plan of Salvation kicked in. The Feasts illustrate the Plan of Salvation in a way that we can understand and pass down to our children (Exodus 13:8, 14; Leviticus 23:43).
  4. After the Fall, the Feasts were kept in the Garden of Eden and by Abraham (before there were Jews) (Genesis 4:1-4; Genesis 26:5; Genesis 15—Abram’s great sacrifice was on the Passover).
  5. When Israel was brought out of slavery in Egypt, they were reminded of God’s true worship from Sinai when God was restoring knowledge of Himself (Leviticus 23).
  6. The Sabbaths and Feasts are part of God’s covenant, are written on the Tables of Stone, are part of the Ten Commandments (Exodus 34).
  7. God’s True worship was corrupted by King Jeroboam in an effort to separate the people from God (1 Kings 12:26-33).
  8. True worship is finally fully restored when the New Jerusalem comes down out of Heaven at Christ’s Third Coming (Zechariah 14:16). This shows God’s desire to continue His worship into the New Earth.
  9. The Feasts, Sabbaths and God’s Law were reinstated at each true Spiritual revival (2 Chronicles 30; 2 Kings 23 and 2 Chronicles 35:1-19; Nehemiah 8:14-18, including both the Exodus and when Joshua was anointed as leader: Joshua 5:1-12).
  10. God refers to His Sabbaths in the plural form (Exodus 31:13; Leviticus 26:2; Ezekiel 46:3).
  11. God says that His Sabbaths are the sign that He is our God (Ezekiel 20:12, 20; Exodus 13:9). Notice that Exodus 13:9 is speaking about the Feast of Unleavened Bread.
  12. Along with the Sabbath, the Feasts were kept by the Disciples and Paul long after the Cross (Acts 20:16; 1 Corinthians 16:8; 1 Corinthians 5:6-8; and others).
  13. We are told by Jesus that the Passover (which seems like the most obvious Feast to have ended) is not fulfilled until He eats it with us in His Father’s Kingdom (Luke 22:15-16).
  14. The Feast Days and Sabbath are full of lessons pointing past the Cross, reaching beyond the Second Coming and are kept far into the New Earth (Isaiah 66:23).
  15. They form the core of the controversy regarding the Mark of the Beast and the Little Horn (Daniel 7:25; Rev. 13:8, 14:9-12).

 

These Yearly Feast Days outline the entire Plan of Salvation and show the work that Jesus is doing, step-by-step, to work out our salvation. Anyone who believes that keeping these days denies Christ’s sacrifice, does not know of the rich lessons taught about Jesus by these Holy Days. These are thoroughly Christian Holidays that cannot even be fully understood without Christ.

It is often believed that these Feasts are “ceremonial” and therefore came to an end with the sacrifices and earthly temple. But Jesus Himself showed us how to keep the Feasts without an earthly temple and without sacrifices. And to think that they came to an end because Moses wrote them in the Torah, is just a misunderstanding of God’s Law.

Through the Dark Ages, the Christian Church has lost sight of these Holy Days that were revered by the Early Church. We have accepted adulterated versions of these Holy Days through the same spirit that led King Jeroboam to corrupt God’s worship. The counterfeit holidays do not contain the same lessons, truths and blessings that we find when worshiping God in Spirit and in Truth.

God, in His wisdom, is today moving forward in His work of The Reformation as He inspires Spiritual revival among His faithful believers. This was prophesied by the 7 Thunders of Revelation 10 that revealed sudden bursts of lightning which would enlighten God’s people in their need. This brilliant light shining on God’s Feast Days helps to restore God’s Law and Covenant to us as we draw nearer to Christ’s return.

The weight of evidence is overwhelming. God’s Sabbaths are valid and important for Christians today. They are being brought back to our attention today as Jesus begins to prepare this generation for what is coming on the earth. In the moment of our ignorance God may have blinked, but there is now no excuse to keep us from returning to God with fasting and weeping and prayer as we restore this breach in His Holy Law.


Footnotes:

[1] Wikipedia, “Shavuot.” (https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shavuot)

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