Exodus 23:14-17 Three Feasts point towards Messiah
In these four verses we see that three times a year, all the male Israelites kept these feasts. These were the Feast of Unleavened Bread, the Feast of Harvest and the Feast of Ingathering. This is also referenced in Deuteronomy 16:16. Leviticus 23 gives us the whole calendar of the feasts of the Lord which are linked together and point us towards the Saviour. The subject of Psalms 120-134 is the song of ascents, going up to Jerusalem and are songs and psalms that would be sung on approach to and at the great feasts in Jerusalem. Jewish people still today speak of ‘Aliyah’ meaning ‘going up to Jerusalem since Jerusalem is mountainous.
Firstly we have the spring feasts of Passover, Unleavened Bread and Firstfruits. There is a 50-day gap between the Feast of Firstfruits and the Feast of Harvest which is also known as Shavuot or Pentecost. The autumn feasts are the Feast of Trumpets, The Day of Atonement and the Feast of Tabernacles.
These feasts are strongly linked with agriculture and in particular, harvesting. Although not exactly the same, the spring feasts are a little bit like a spring harvest, the Feast of Harvest arises 50 days later and the autumn feasts are to some degree like a harvest festival. Each of these feasts was a joyful occasion and a time of thanksgiving, rest and rejoicing in the Lord.
Two other feasts, that are not mentioned here, but later in the Scriptures. The Feast of Purim arose in the time of Esther and the Feast of Hannukah arose in the Intertestamental period and are mentioned in the Maccabean accounts in the Apocrypha. Hanukkah is mentioned as the Feast of Dedication in John 10:22.
By looking at how the timeline of the feasts fit together, we will see exactly how God’s Calendar of feasts reveal His purposes through Messiah. We will therefore begin with the spring feasts and then go on to Pentecost and finish with the autumn feasts.
1)The Feast of Unleavened Bread
This feast is celebrated as three feasts together, Passover, Unleavened Bread and Firstfruits. It is more commonly referred to today as Passover. Previously in our studies of Exodus we saw that the Passover took place when the Israelites were departing from Egypt. The timing of the Passover was such that Jesus was crucified at Passover and the last supper was a Passover meal too. The Passover is mentioned at least five times in each of the synoptic gospels and on at least three occasions in John’s Gospel.
A lamb was taken from each household and its blood was applied on the lintel and posts. The Angel passed over those houses that had the blood on the door. The lamb sacrificed was without blemish, of the first year, foreshadowing Messiah who was killed whilst young and on the 14th day. Jesus is the sinless lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world. He is our Passover lamb (1 Corinthians 5:7).
It is His blood that gives life and His blood cleanses the believer from all unrighteousness. No one can earn their way to heaven through good deeds or merit, but must turn from their sins and put their trust in the Saviour to avoid the wrath of God and to become acceptable unto a holy and righteous God.
The Feast of Unleavened Bread is celebrated for seven days. Some Jewish people that celebrate this feast, understandably go to great lengths to remove leaven from their homes. Leaven represents sin. Yeshua is the only One who was to be found without sin. 2 Corinthians 5:21 tells us that He who knew no sin became sin for us that we might become the righteousness of God.
There are two types of people on this planet in respect of sin. There are sinners and there are sinners saved by grace. No one can save themselves. Only the sinless Son of God was able to atone for our sins through His one righteous act, giving Himself as a sin offering. That means He is utterly unique and the most moral and godly person that ever lived. He is of course more than that, He is fully God and fully Man, the Son of God and the Saviour of the World. No one can come to the Father but by Him.
The Lord Jesus rose on the Feast of Firstfruits. The resurrection of Yeshua is the greatest miracle. Like the timing of the Passover when Jesus died and the Feast of Unleavened Bread when the sinless one was offered, the timing of the resurrection demonstrates God’s prophetic calendar revealed through His plans and promises for a lost world. The Lord Jesus has become our Firstfruits (1 Corinthians 15:20-23).
This means that the resurrection of the Yeshua is the guarantee that the believer will have a better resurrection. Through Adam all of us die, but through Jesus all may live. There are two destinations for people that die and they are heaven and hell. If you repent, turn from your sins and trust in the finished work that the Lord Jesus has done then you can be assured of a better resurrection and to be with Him forever.
2)The Feast of Harvest or Weeks
According to Jewish tradition, David was born and died at Shavuot (Pentecost). Moses was given the law from God at Mount Sinai, so Shavuot became a celebration of the Torah. We will see exactly why Moses and David are important figures in relation to the Day of Pentecost in a little while.
The book of Ruth is usually read during Shavuot (Pentecost). Why is that? Remember that all these feasts are linked with agriculture and harvesting and in the book of Ruth, Naomi and Ruth returned to Bethlehem at Barley Harvest. Barley Harvest commenced on the Feast of Firstfruits and culminated at Wheat Harvest, known as Shavuot or Pentecost.
Ruth was the great grandmother of David and she was a gentile from Moab. The ancient tradition of bringing two loaves of bread (Leviticus 23:17), at Shavuot some believe relates to the two tablets of the law. Also there is the Jewish and gentile aspect of “Your people shall be my people and your God, my God” (Ruth 1:17).
Ruth is also a wonderful picture and foreshadowing of gentiles coming to trust in the Jewish Messiah. Boaz is the kinsman redeemer and is a type and forerunner of Messiah. Ruth was such a blessing to Naomi and her people. This has always been God’s plan of salvation. Isaiah 60 speaks of the gentiles blessing Zion, Jerusalem. Zechariah 8:22-23 tells of gentiles going to Jerusalem with Jewish people recognising God is with them. Psalm 117 is the shortest psalm yet it speaks of and encourages all people to praise the Lord.
Let us think about the precise timing of the Feast of Harvest (Shavuot/Pentecost). On the same day (50 days after the Ten Commandments were given), Aaron built a golden calf and 3000 fell (Exodus 32:28). On the Day of Pentecost in Acts 2:41, 3000 souls were added to the believers. At the Tower of Babel, the Lord confused their language and the people were scattered. At the Day of Pentecost people heard them speak many languages and they were brought together. There was a fire on Mount Sinai when Moses received the law. There were also tongues of fire that rested on those who received the Holy Spirit on the Day of Pentecost.
Peter recognised that Joel’s prophecy was being fulfilled (Acts 2:16-21). Peter made an important connection with David concerning Messiah who would not see corruption. This links the timing of the Feast of Firstfruits when the resurrection took place, to the Feast of Shavuot on the Day of Pentecost. “For you will not leave my soul in Hades, nor will You allow Your holy One to see corruption (Acts 2:27; cf. Psalm 16:10). No wonder they were cut to the heart asking Peter and the apostles, “What shall we do?” (Acts 2:38-39).
This is why a message of repentance must be preached rather than merely saying a prayer. When someone recognises that they have offended a holy God their conscience will be aroused, they will become aware of their guilt before God and they will be desperate to seek His forgiveness. They will recognise what they are being saved from. Saved from hell and the wrath of God. Saved into a glorious union with the Lord and safe in His everlasting arms.
All the feasts have prophetic significance, an exact timeframe and relate to Messiah. The spring feasts coincide precisely with the death and resurrection of Messiah. The Lord Jesus was crucified and rose at Firstfruits. Therefore He is our Passover Lamb (1 Corinthians 5:7) and has become our firstfruits (1 Corinthians 15:21-23). Shavuot (Pentecost) is the last of the spring feasts. The Lord Jesus came not to destroy but to fulfil the law and brought grace.
3)The Feast of Ingathering
Yeshua is coming again and the revelation of His return, rule and reign, relates to the autumn feasts. The Feast of Trumpets reminds us that when the alarm is sounded we should be ready for His coming (1 Corinthians 15:52; 1 Thessalonians 4:16). Is the second coming of the Lord on your radar? Are you looking forward to His return? What will you be doing when He comes?
The Day of Atonement is considered the most holy day of the Jewish calendar. Yet our Lord and Messiah made perfect atonement through His blood to reconcile us to a holy God. Zechariah 12:10-14 describes how the house of David will look at Messiah whom they pierced. There will be a great mourning and every family will mourn by themselves as they did for Josiah.
What about the Feast of Tabernacles? The Israelites dwelt in tabernacles in the wilderness. We read in John 1:14, “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen His glory, glory as the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.” The word “dwelt” means tabernacled among. Tabernacles speaks of residing with God and continued fellowship with Him and with others.
We have seen that Yeshua’s death, sinless life and resurrection were foretold and were fulfilled. We have seen that the coming of the Holy Spirit gives a believer power to witness for the Lord and saw fulfilment of the foreshadows on the Day of Pentecost. We can see that Yeshua will return from where He left. He left from the Mount of Olives in Jerusalem and that is where He will return and every eye shall see Him. The question is are you ready for when He returns?