How to Understand the New Testament-Part 10

We are going to talk about Messiah in the Biblical festivals. This is essential to understanding the New Testament. The basis for the festivals is found in Col 2.16-17. This is one of the most misinterpreted verses in the Bible, so we are going to look at it. Replacement Theology people use it to show that these festivals are not for believers because they have been “replaced” with other festivals like Christmas and Easter. They say a believer should not be involved in the biblical festivals. So, we are going to look to see if that is what it is really saying. Col 2.16-17 says, “Therefore (in light of the preceding passages about the Colossians being liberated from demonic power-2.15), let no one act as your judge (since they are complete in the Lord, they should not let anyone condemn them) in regard to food (biblically allowed food found in Lev 11, which some will fall away from in the last days-1 Tim 4.1-5) or drink or in respect to a festival (a biblical festival found in Lev 23) or a new moon or a Sabbath day (17)things which are a shadow (carries the same idea as a “pattern, copy” or “tavnit”-Exo 25.8-9; Heb 8.5; John 5.39-47; 2 Tim 3.16-suitablee for teaching) of what is to come (relates to bible prophecy. What this is saying is that the festivals teach bible prophecy, if you don’t understand the festivals, times and seasons, you will not understand prophecy-1 Thes 5.1-5); but the body is of Messiah (the shadow is a direct representation of the body of Yeshua, the sum total).” In other words, he is telling the Colossians to not allow anyone to judge them (like some so-called believers do today) for regarding the festivals as a valid way to understand the Scriptures, studying about them or relating them to prophecy. They are a shadow, pattern or copy of Yeshua himself, who he is and what he did. Now, at this present time, the festivals cannot be kept because there is no Temple, functioning altar or priesthood. So, festivals cannot be kept inside or outside the land of Israel. Any attempt to do so is not keeping the commandment (see our article “Can you keep the festivals today” on this site for more information). However, we should be aware of the festivals and their historical and prophetic teachings and implications, because this will help you understand the Scriptures. In Lev 23.1-2 we are going to find two words we need to know. The first one is “appointed” and that is the Hebrew word “moed.” These festivals were appointments that the Lord set with his people and were not to be missed. The second word is “convocation” which is the Hebrew word “mikrah” and it means a “rehearsal.’ The festivals were rehearsals for the real thing, exactly what Paul was saying in Colossians. There were specific times, specific places and specific themes and above all, these were called “the Lord’s (not the Jews) appointed times.” So, we are going to briefly go over the festivals here and point out some concepts that will help you interpret the New Testament. In the section called “The Feasts of the Lord” on this website, we discuss these festivals in more detail. In Lev 23.5-8 we have the Passover. A lamb was to be killed “between the evenings” on the 14th of Nisan (first month of the religious calendar) and this was understood in the Temple as around 3 pm (the evening went from 12 pm to 6 pm). This is confirmed in the New Testament because we know Yeshua died at 3 pm (so now you know why he died at that particular hour). The Misnah Tractate “Pesachim” gives you much detail on what was done. The morning Tamid offering is moved up to earlier in the day, and this relates to the Temple crier, a priest, giving his cry earlier than normal during the trial of Yeshua. This was what Yeshua was referring to when he told Peter he would deny him three times before the cock crows. The Temple crier was telling the people to get ready to offer the morning Tamid. It was not a literal rooster (See our comments in Matt 26.75 this site) so that the Passover lambs can be done at its specific time, which is “between the evenings.” The Passover lamb was not a Korban Chata’at, or sin offering, but it was Korban Shelem, a peace offering. Yeshua died at 3pm, between the evenings. The “last supper” was NOT a Passover Seder, as many believe. This is crucial to understanding what is going on in the gospels. The supper talked about was Yeshua’s last chance to give his talmidim instruction. It is called a “Seudah Elohim” or a “meal consecrated to God.” The Bible allowed a Passover to be done one month later (Num 9.9-14) if they could not attend because they were unclean because of a dead person, or on a distant journey (the festivals can only be kept in Jerusalem). The tradition of the elders allowed a Passover to be done on other days, but that was a man-made Rabbinical law and Yeshua would not have done that. God was specific about when to slay the Passover, which was Nisan 14, between the evenings, or around 3 pm. We know that Caiaphas had not eaten the Passover lamb yet during the trial before Pilate (John 18.28) because he could not enter the Praetorium (one of the 18 Edicts). This is the morning of the 14th of Nisan, 30 A.D.He is placed on the cross at the third hour (9 am) at the same time the morning tamid was slain. He died later that day, at the ninth hour (3 pm). Yeshua is keeping the moed (the appointment). At sundown, it was the 15th of Nisan and a High Holy Day called the festival of Unleavened Bread when the Passover Seder took place. So, Yeshua died on Passover and was buried at the start of Unleavened Bread.
Many have the concept that the Passover lamb took away the sins of the people, but it was not a sin offering, it is a peace offering (korban shelem) and it carries the idea of completion or finished. But, there are other redemptive aspects that come into play during the other festivals. On Nisan 15 the festival of Unleavened Bread begins and it goes for seven days (Nisan 15-21-Lev 23.6-8). The 15th and the 21st are called a “Shabbaton” or a “High Sabbath.” Now to understand God’s plan you must study the festivals from three aspects, the agricultural, historical and eschatological. In Luke 11.29-32 Yeshua gives the sign of Jonah. He would be in the belly of the earth for three days and three nights. Yeshua dies on the 14th of Nisan and is buried around sundown, going to the 15th. He was resurrected after sundown and before dawn on the 17th of Nisan, a significant day in Jewish history. The 17th of Nisan was the day the Ark rested on the mountains of Ararat and the day Israel passed through the Red Sea after the first Passover (remember Moses told Pharaoh he wanted to go for three days). Yeshua also said that if you destroyed his temple, he would raise it up in three days (John 2.19). Yeshua will be resurrected on the festival of First Fruits, which would be on the 17th of Nisan that year. This day is also called “The waving of the barley” (Lev 23.9-14). Lev 23.11 says that this day is the “morrow after the Sabbath” and in the first century this was controversial. The Pharisees taught that the “Sabbath” mentioned was the High Sabbath (shabbaton) of Nisan 15. The Sadducees taught that this “Sabbath” was the seventh day Sabbath. Now, in Lev 23.15 it says that “there shall be seven complete Sabbaths” from the day after the Sabbath (of v 11) as you counted the omer to Shavuot. You must have seven complete Sabbaths to get 49 days to Shavuot, so the Sadducees were correct. As a result, you waved the first fruits of the barley on the first day of the week. This is also confirmed by Deut 16.9, you count seven Sabbaths (weeks) from that day, equaling 49 days. So, in the week that Yeshua was crucified, and you factor in the three days, the resurrection happened on the 17th of Nisan, the same day they waved the omer. We know that in 30 A.D., the Sadducees controlled the Temple ceremonies and so it was done on the first day of the week, and they were right in their interpretation. They controlled the Temple ceremonies until 55 A.D. Let’s look at the ceremony of the waving of the omer. In the Mishnah, Seder Kodashim, tractate Menachot 10.1-4 in particular, it talks about this ceremony. Keep in mind that Yeshua rose from the dead, but he “plucked up” others who were dead as well (Matt 27.52-53). The omer was to be brought from a crop nearby. Messengers of the Sanhedrin would have gone out one eve of First Fruits (right before the time Yeshua resurrected) and tie the barley in bunches. When it was dark, a spokesman would say “Is it dark yet?” and the crowd who gathered from some of the nearby towns would say “Yes.” Then the spokesman would say “Is this a sickle?” and they answered “Yes.” Then he would say “Is this a basket?” and they would say “Yes.” Then he said “Shall I reap?” and they answered “Yes.” On each of these matters, they said this three times. Once it was reaped, the barley was put into a basket and taken to the Temple. Now, keep in mind, Yeshua is resurrecting about this time, and he Plucked up” others after him because he was the “First Fruits” of those who slept. The barley was beaten and passed through 13 sieves until it was fine. It had to be so fine that the Gabbai Tzedekah (the treasurer of the Temple) could put his hands in it without sticking to his hands. The barley was changed from coarse to fine. Now read 1 Cor 15.20-23 and 1 Cor 50-55 and you will see how this will be applied in the resurrection. The barley had to be transformed and all Israel had to wait till this ceremony was over to eat the new grain. It was all in its proper order (1 Cor 15.23). They began to count the days to Shavuot from there Israel came out of Egypt on the 15th of Nisan and went 47 days to Sinai. The first Shavuot was Sivan 3 and they were told to sanctify themselves for three days (Exo 10.1-11). This comes to Sivan 6. These are the exact same days the year Yeshua was slain and the events in Acts 2. Psa 67 is read as a part of the ceremony of counting the omer and this relates directly to the Gospels and Acts. We will pick up here in Part 11 with the festival of Shavuot, and move on to talk about the rest of the biblical festivals. Understanding these festivals and their idioms, phrases and concepts will help you immensely in your understanding of the New Testament.

Posted in Articles, Idioms, Phrases and Concepts, Understanding the New Testament

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