The Spring Festivals

The Biblical Festivals can be found in Leviticus 23.1-44 and we quickly find out that these are the Lord’s Feasts and appointed times. Many times you will hear someone refer to them as the “Jewish Festivals”  but in reality they aren’t, they are the Lord’s (Lev 23.2; 23.44). In this article we are going to deal with the Spring Festivals and the first coming of Messiah. These feasts can be found in Leviticus 23. 5-22 and are Passover, Unleavened Bread, First Fruits and Pentecost. These have Hebrew names but for simplicity they will be referred to by how they are known in English. These feasts are ordained by God and he presents his plan for mankind through them. We are going to look at two important words found in v 2 and they are “appointed” and “convocation.” The word for “appointed” is “moed” and it means a festival. The word “convocation” is “mikrah” and it means a rehearsal. So, the Lord’s feasts are appointments and rehearsals, but at some point they will be the real thing in God’s plan as it unfolds. Messiah will perform specific things on those days. For example, the Spring Feasts were celebrated for 1500 years until Yeshua came along. Then, the came the real thing when he was crucified on Passover, buried on Unleavened Bread, raised from the dead on First Fruits and sent the Holy Spirit on Pentecost. Had all the people known the plan as we know it now looking back, maybe they would have recognized things as they were happening. Paul touches on this 1 Thes 5.1-5 where he tells them that they have been taught the times and the seasons (the feasts and rehearsals) and the coming of the Lord would not overtake them like a thief because they have been given understanding.  Messiah and his coming was like the spring rains (Hos 6.1-3; James 5.7; Joel 2.23). First, let’s look at Passover. It occurs on the 14th of Nisan, the first month of the religious calendar. The fall feasts, which we will deal with in another article, happen in the month of Tishri, the first month of the civil calendar. Before Passover there is a ceremony called “bedikat chametz” which is the removal of all leaven from the house.  The night before Passover, the head of the house takes a candle, a feather and a wooden spoon and he searches the house for any leaven. It must be out by noon on the 14th of Nisan. If he finds leaven it is cast into a fire. The purpose is to illustrate that leaven is sin and we must have the Holy Spirit (the feather) illuminate that for us through the word (the candle) and  remove it out of our life (1 Cor 5.6-8).  Later in the day (around 3 pm or “between the evenings) the lamb was killed and then roasted upright on pomegranate sticks with its arms outstretched. The inward parts (intestines) were wrapped around the head and the lamb was called “the crowned sacrifice.”  So, this all teaches that the Messiah, as the lamb, will be placed on wood and sacrificed for us and our sins were cast out for reconciliation (2 Cor 5.18-21, John 19.40).  In Zeph 1.12 it says  “It will come about at that time (Day of the Lord) that I will search Jerusalem with lamps (candles) and I will punish the men who are complacent in spirit who say in their hearts the Lord will not do good, but evil.” So, this ceremony is a picture of what the Lord does. It also is a picture of the cleansing of the Temple by Yeshua. He fulfills “bedikat chametz”, cleansing/removing his Father’s House of sin. Also, during Yeshua’s Passover week,  he rides into Jerusalem on the 10th of Nisan and at the same time the Passover lamb that will be slain for the nation is also coming into the Temple. This day was 173,880 days from the prophecy given in Dan 9.24-27. The Temple lamb is tied in the Temple for inspection for four days, and Yeshua teaches in the Temple (and inspected) for four days. On the 14th, the lamb was found without blemish and is considered suitable for Passover and tied to the altar. Yeshua has been inspected ( by the priests, the people and the Romans) and they found no fault in him and he was tied to the cross. The Temple lamb is killed at 3 pm and Yeshua dies at 3 pm. By sundown he is buried and that brings us to the Feast of Unleavened Bread, which starts at sundown. This is an seven day feast where no leaven is eaten. Meanwhile, Yeshua will be  in the tomb for three days and three nights. So, we know he resurrected on the 17th of Nisan, the same day Israel passed through the Red Sea! The next feast is the Feast of First Fruits which is “the morrow after the Sabbath” or a Sunday.  On this day, the priests have designated certain barley stalks to be harvested, which begins the barley harvest throughout the land. Before the sun rises, they go out and pluck them from the ground and bring them to the Temple for an offering. The barley is passed through 13 sifters until it doesn’t stick to your hands. Then it was made into a cake and baked over fire. How was this fulfilled? Yeshua rises from the dead as the “first fruits” of many (1 Cor 15.20-23).  He also raised other people that morning and they were seen in Jerusalem and appeared to many (Matt 27.51-53). Then, these “first fruits” were taken to the Temple in heaven and presented to the Lord. That’s why Mary could not cling to Yeshua when he appeared to her in the garden after he resurrected (John 20.17). What he told Mary was exactly what a priest in the temple would have said if you delayed his approaching the altar with an offering. In another interesting aspect of this festival, we know that when Israel departed Egypt they stopped and retrieved the bones of Joseph, so his tomb was empty. That’s when Pharaoh (type of Satan and False Messiah) knew Israel wasn’t coming back. Remember, he only allowed them to go into the wilderness for three days (Exo 12.29-32) and pursued them. Likewise, Satan knows he has been defeated and Yeshua and the first fruits aren’t “coming back” because another Joseph’s tomb is empty (Yeshua was buried in the tomb of Joseph of Arimathea). In Jewish thought, Passover was not over until Pentecost and the whole season speaks of our journey to the Messianic Kingdom (Sukkot).  Pentecost, or “Weeks”, is called Shavuot in Hebrew. It is the “atzeret” or conclusion of Passover. It also speaks of resurrection and it is the day that the Torah was given at Mount Sinai (Exo 19 .1-25), 50 days after First Fruits when you count the Omer ( Lev 23.15-21). Now, this feast is connected to Rosh Ha Shana (Yom Teruah) in this way. A Jewish wedding has two parts, the betrothal and full marriage. When God gave the Torah it says that the people were “under”(tachat) the mountain.  This was seen as a “chupah” or marriage canopy. The Torah was the “shitre erusin” ( first contract) and the Lord was entering into a betrothal with Israel (Jer 2.2).  The full marriage (kedushin) will happen at Rosh Ha Shana, along with a coronation, judgment and resurrection. The same manifestations that were seen at Mount Sinai were also seen on the believers who were gathered at the Temple for Pentecost. Some erroneously teach that these disciples were huddled in an upper room somewhere in Jerusalem, but the fact is they were in the Temple as commanded by the Lord (Exo 23.14-17) and in Solomon’s Portico (men and women can be together there). Peter preaches and 3000 were immersed in the “mikvaot” (immersion baths) found in the Temple.  On the feast of Pentecost, Ezekiel 43.1-5 is read and it talks about how the Spirit of God returns to the Temple in glory. This was fulfilled in Acts 2 in part, but it will be totally fulfilled in the Messianic Temple. Also, the Book of Ruth is set at the barley harvest and it is about betrothal and marriage and we have the “goel” (kinsman redeemer) who loves the bride and redeems her. Yeshua had to become a man to be a “kinsman” and redeem us, so Ruth has many teachings on that, but there is one in particular that needs to be discussed in closing. In Genesis before the fall of man, the word generations is “toldot” and has two letter “vavs”.  The letter “vav” is the number 6 in Hebrew, the number of man and sin. After Adam sins, the word for generations has one “vav” missing in Hebrew whenever it is written because man’s generations have been diminished now because of sin, except in Ruth 4. 18. There, generations (toldot) is written full again because the line of David is given, and from David will come the Messiah who will restore the diminished generations of man. There is so much more about the spring festivals but hopefully this will give you some insight into the first coming of Yeshua and the confidence that if he fulfilled these feast on the very day they were celebrated in his first coming, then he will fulfill the remaining three fall festivals the same way. We have the blueprint and the insight now to watch and “rehearse” until the real thing comes along.

Posted in Idioms, Phrases and Concepts, Prophecy/Eschatology, The Feasts of the Lord, The Tanach, Understanding the New Testament

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