Excerps from "God's Festivals in Scripture and History Volume 1: The Spring Festivals"
by Samuele Bacchiocchi, Ph. D., Andrews University; The Kings James Bible; The New International Version; and the Complete Jewish Bible.
We are about to enter the season of the Biblical Spring Festivals. Because of the Passover starting at sundown on April 8th, this blog is focused on the relevance of God’s feast days for all His people, especially Christians, today. My objective is to determine the continuity of the Biblical Feasts in the modern Christian churches.
Consider before we begin:
Leviticus 23:2 - "Speak unto the children of Israel, and say unto them, Concerning the feasts of the LORD, which ye shall proclaim to be holy convocations, even these are MY FEASTS... v.4. These are the FEASTS OF THE LORD, even holy convocations, which ye shall proclaim in their seasons."
Galatians 3:29 - And if ye be Christ's, then ye are Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise."
Romans 2:28 - "For he is not a Jew, which is one outwardly; neither is that circumcision, which is outward in the flesh: v.29. But he is a Jew, which is one inwardly: and circumcision is that of the heart, in the spirit, and not in the letter; whose praise is not of men, but of God."
This topic is not just relevant to Messianic Jews who wish to retain their Jewish religious heritage, but also among Christians who wish to rediscover their Jewish roots. A significant interest also exists among Adventists and with leaders of nearly every church when they study this subject. Many people, to some degree or another, observe the annual Feasts privately. Therefore, this should explain also to natural born Jews why Christians are so interested in what Jews believe to be their, and only their, feast days/celebrations.
One of the co-founders of the Adventist church, Ellen White comments on Acts 20:6 (“We sailed away from Philippi after the days of Unleavened Bread”), “At Philippi Paul tarried to keep the Passover… The Philippians were the most loving and true-hearted of the apostle’s converts, and during the eight days of the feast he enjoyed peaceful and happy communion with them.” Ellen White acknowledges also the importance of Pentecost for Paul when she writers that he shortened his stay at Ephesus, because “he was on his way to Jerusalem to celebrate the Feast of Pentecost.”
In her book Patriarchs and Prophets, Ellen White devotes a whole chapter to “The Annual Feasts”. Reflecting on their value for Israelites and Christians today she writes: “Well would it be for the people of God at the present time to have a feast of Tabernacles – a joyous commemoration of the blessings of God to them. As the children of Israel celebrate the deliverance that God and wrought for their fathers, and His miraculous preservation of them during their journeying from Egypt, so should we gratefully call to mind the various ways He as devised for bringing us out from the world, and from the darkness of error, into the precious light of His grace and truth”.
The continuity of the Feasts is determined not by their connection with the sacrificial system but by the scope of their typology. The feasts had typified the redemptive accomplishments of Christ’s first Advent, but ALSO foreshadow the consummation of redemption to be accomplished by Christ at His second Advent, therefore their function continues in the Christian church today.
There is still a future and ultimate fulfillment of Pesach (Passover) at the End, just as there is of Sukkot (Tabernacles), Pentecost, etc. At the end of days, when Christ will deliver His people from great tribulation and invite them to participate in the “marriage supper of the lamb”, it will be the future fulfillment of Passover as He himself said, “ I have earnestly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer; for I tell you I shall not eat of it until it is fulfilled in the kingdom of God” (Luke 22:16)
Passover and Pentecost will ultimately be fulfilled at the end when the Lord will pour out the Latter Rian of the Holy Spirit for the final harvest of the earth (Rev 14, 15, 16)
The principal of “fulfilled and yet-to-be fulfilled” applies to all the Sabbaths as well. The feast days are organized in two cycles around the spring wheat harvest and the fall fruit harvest. The spring Festivals of Passover and Pentecost foreshadow the redemption accomplished by Christs’ first Advent. On the other hand, the fall festivals of Trumpets, Atonement, and Tabernacles point to the ultimate (eschatological) restoration to be realized at the second Advent.
Many churches are seeking to bring about worship renewal by introducing jazzier music, drama, theatrical praying, and loud-voiced congregational responses. However, a church calendar that focuses on the great truths of salvation challenges us to foster worship renewal by seeking for a deeper understanding and experience of what Christ has done, is doing, and will do for us. The celebration of the great saving acts of God commemorated by the Feasts can bring about worship renewal by making our worship experience God-centered, instead of self-centered.
The redemptive acts of God are commemorated in the Bible weekly through the Sabbath and annually through the Feasts. The latter fulfilled three functions which are still relevant of Christians today:
First, the Feasts commemorate the past mighty works of God.
Second, they anticipated the future divine deliverance.
Third, they motivate God’s people to live in the present obediently before a holy God.
These foundations are still relevant for Christian today. Below is just one of countless examples of these aspects of the Living God of Heaven, how He works in our lives today, and what we have to look forward to in an ultimate revelation at the end of days.
Sabbath: God as Creator (Ex 20:11), and Redeemer (Deut. 5:12-15)
Passover: God as Deliverer from oppression (Deut.16:1; Ex12:13)
Pentecost: God as Provider (Lev. 23:10, 18, 19)
Feast of Trumpets: God as Judge (Num. 29:7)
Atonement: God as Vindicator and Restorer (Lev. 23:29)
Feast of Tabernacles: God as Protector (Lev. 23:43)
The Fall Feasts of Trumpets and Atonement should be of particular interest to SDA’s who believe in a pre-Advent judgement going on in heaven proper to Christ’s return. Soon Christ “will appear a second time” (Heb 9:28) as the high priest appeared before the people of the Day of Atonement, “to save those who are eagerly waiting for him”. (Heb 9:28)
Much skepticism exists, even among Christians that God is the Creator, Redeemer, Provider, Judge, Vindicator, and Restorer. Many think He is dead or indifferent. Skepticism can be an outgrowth of forgetfulness. There is danger in neglecting the command to observe these feasts.
The feasts were designed to motivate the Israelites (God’s chosen people) to live in the present obediently and uprightly before God. Even the Psalms of joy sung on occasion of the Feasts (Ps 81:3) reminding the people of their ethical relationship with God. “O that my people would listen to me, that Israel would walk in my ways!” (Ps 81:13)
God placed the celebration of the annual feasts in conjunction with the Spring and Fall harvests, because these seasons could fittingly represent great spiritual truths.
I challenge any who have the slightest interest in total obedience to God, to trace Passover and Pentecost historically from the Old Testament into the New Testament and through the early church. Then reflect on the continuity and manner of observance of the Spring Festivals today. You will find they point to the present by confirming God’s covenant with His church, and also look forward to the future by nourishing the hope of our happy reunion with the Savior at the celebration of the marriage supper of the Lamb (Rev 19:9)
Below are the Bible texts, both old and new testament, that mention the Passover. This way you can trace the observance of this one Feast day, pray about it, and see if the Holy Spirit lays conviction on your heart to return to the worship of the apostles, and first disciples, back in the days when miracles accompanied our works.
The below Bible texts are taken from the NIV, please visit www.biblegateway.com, where you can read the texts in context, compare with other translations (my personal favorite is the CJB or KJB), and seek light that God has been waiting for you to ask Him about.
[ The Passover and the Festival of Unleavened Bread ] The Lord said to Moses and Aaron in Egypt,
This is how you are to eat it: with your cloak tucked into your belt, your sandals on your feet and your staff in your hand. Eat it in haste; it is the Lord’s Passover.
Then Moses summoned all the elders of Israel and said to them, “Go at once and select the animals for your families and slaughter the Passover lamb.
then tell them, ‘It is the Passover sacrifice to the Lord, who passed over the houses of the Israelites in Egypt and spared our homes when he struck down the Egyptians.’” Then the people bowed down and worshiped.
The Lord said to Moses and Aaron, “These are the regulations for the Passover meal: the Passover meal: “No foreigner may eat it.
“A foreigner residing among you who wants to celebrate the Lord’s Passover must have all the males in his household circumcised; then he may take part like one born in the land. No uncircumcised male may eat it.
“Do not offer the blood of a sacrifice to me along with anything containing yeast, and do not let any of the sacrifice from the Passover Festival remain until morning.
[The Passover and the Festival of Unleavened Bread] “‘These are the Lord’s appointed festivals, the sacred assemblies you are to proclaim at their appointed times:
The Lord’s Passover begins at twilight on the fourteenth day of the first month.
The Lord spoke to Moses in the Desert of Sinai in the first month of the second year after they came out of Egypt. He said, 2 “Have the Israelites celebrate the Passover at the appointed time. 3 Celebrate it at the appointed time, at twilight on the fourteenth day of this month, in accordance with all its rules and regulations.”
“Have the Israelites celebrate the Passover at the appointed time.
So, Moses told the Israelites to celebrate the Passover,
But some of them could not celebrate the Passover on that day because they were ceremonially unclean on account of a dead body. So they came to Moses and Aaron that same day
“Tell the Israelites: ‘When any of you or your descendants are unclean because of a dead body or are away on a journey, they are still to celebrate the Lord’s Passover,
They must not leave any of it till morning or break any of its bones. When they celebrate the Passover, they must follow all the regulations.
But if anyone who is ceremonially clean and not on a journey fails to celebrate the Passover, they must be cut off from their people for not presenting the Lord’s offering at the appointed time. They will bear the consequences of their sin.
“‘A foreigner residing among you is also to celebrate the Lord’s Passover in accordance with its rules and regulations. You must have the same regulations for both the foreigner and the native-born.’”
“‘On the fourteenth day of the first month the Lod’s Passover is to be held.
The Israelites set out from Rameses on the fifteenth day of the first month, the day after the Passover. They marched out defiantly in full view of all the Egyptians,
[The Passover] Observe the month of Aviv and celebrate the Passover of the Lord your God, because in the month of Aviv he brought you out of Egypt by night.
Sacrifice as the Passover to the Lord your God an animal from your flock or herd at the place the Lord will choose as a dwelling for his Name.
You must not sacrifice the Passover in any town the Lord your God gives you except in the place he will choose as a dwelling for his Name. There you must sacrifice the Passover in the evening, when the sun goes down, on the anniversary of your departure from Egypt. In
On the evening of the fourteenth day of the month, while camped at Gilgal on the plains of Jericho, the Israelite's celebrated the Passover.
Note: This is the first meal after eating only manna, and it was celebrated as soon as every male was healed from being circumcised because those born in the desert after leaving Egypt had not been circumcised. Fascinating chapter!
The day after the Passover, that very day, they ate some of the produce of the land: unleavened bread and roasted grain.
The king gave this order to all the people: “Celebrate the Passover to the Lord your God, as it is written in this Book of the Covenant.”
Neither in the days of the judges who led Israel nor in the days of the kings of Israel and the kings of Judah had any such Passover been observed.
But in the eighteenth year of King Josiah, this Passover was celebrated to the Lord in Jerusalem.
Note: It is written that there never was to that time, nor was after his time, so dedicated a king to his God. There was none like Josiah.
Hezekiah sent word to all Israel and Judah and also wrote letters to Ephraim and Manasseh, inviting them to come to the temple of the Lord in Jerusalem and celebrate the Passover to the Lord, the God of Israel.
The king and his officials and the whole assembly in Jerusalem decided to celebrate the Passover in the second month.
They decided to send a proclamation throughout Israel, from Beersheba to Dan, calling the people to come to Jerusalem and celebrate the Passover to the Lord, the God of Israel. It had not been celebrated in large numbers according to what was written.
They slaughtered the Passover lamb on the fourteenth day of the second month. The priests and the Levites were ashamed and consecrated themselves and brought burnt offerings to the temple of the Lord.
Since many in the crowd had not consecrated themselves, the Levites had to kill the Passover lambs for all those who were not ceremonially clean and could not consecrate their lambs to the Lord.
Although most of the many people who came from Ephraim, Manasseh, Issachar and Zebulun had not purified themselves, yet they ate the Passover, contrary to what was written. But Hezekiah prayed for them, saying, “May the Lord, who is good, pardon everyone
Josiah celebrated the Passover to the Lord in Jerusalem, and the Passover lamb was slaughtered on the fourteenth day of the first month.
Slaughter the Passover lambs, consecrate yourselves and prepare the lambs for your fellow Israelites, doing what the Lord commanded through Moses.”
Josiah provided for all the lay people who were there a total of thirty thousand lambs and goats for the Passover offerings, and three thousand cattle—all from the king’s own possessions.
His officials also contributed voluntarily to the people and the priests and Levites. Hilkiah, Zechariah and Jehiel, the officials in charge of God’s temple, gave the priests twenty-six hundred Passover offerings and three hundred cattle.
Also, Konaniah along with Shemaiah and Nethanel, his brothers, and Hashabiah, Jeiel and Jozabad, the leaders of the Levites, provided five thousand Passover offerings and five hundred head of cattle for the Levites.
They roasted the Passover animals over the fire as prescribed, and boiled the holy offerings in pots, cauldrons and pans and served them quickly to all the people.
So, at that time the entire service of the Lord was carried out for the celebration of the Passover and the offering of burnt offerings on the altar of the Lord, as King Josiah had ordered.
The Israelites who were present celebrated the Passover at that time and observed the Festival of Unleavened Bread for seven days.
The Passover had not been observed like this in Israel since the days of the prophet Samuel; and none of the kings of Israel had ever celebrated such a Passover as did Josiah, with the priests, the Levites and all Judah and Israel who were there with the people of Jerusalem.
This Passover was celebrated in the eighteenth year of Josiah’s reign.
On the fourteenth day of the first month, the exiles celebrated the Passover.
The priests and Levites had purified themselves and were all ceremonially clean. The Levites slaughtered the Passover lamb for all the exiles, for their relatives the priests and for themselves.
“‘In the first month on the fourteenth day you are to observe the Passover, a festival lasting seven days, during which you shall eat bread made without yeast.
“As you know, the Passover is two days away—and the Son of Man will be handed over to be crucified.”
[The Last Supper] On the first day of the Festival of Unleavened Bread, the disciples came to Jesus and asked, “Where do you want us to make preparations for you to eat the Passover?”
He replied, “Go into the city to a certain man and tell him, ‘The Teacher says: My appointed time is near. I am going to celebrate the Passover with my disciples at your house.’”
So, the disciples did as Jesus had directed them and prepared the Passover.
Now the Passover and the Festival of Unleavened Bread were only two days away, and the chief priests and the teachers of the law were scheming to arrest Jesus secretly and kill him.
[The Last Supper] On the first day of the Festival of Unleavened Bread, when it was customary to sacrifice the Passover lamb, Jesus’ disciples asked him, “Where do you want us to go and make preparations for you to eat the Passover?”
Say to the owner of the house he enters, ‘The Teacher asks: Where is my guest room, where I may eat the Passover with my disciples?’
The disciples left, went into the city and found things just as Jesus had told them. So, they prepared the Passover.
[The Boy Jesus at the Temple] Every year Jesus’ parents went to Jerusalem for the Festival of the Passover.
Now the Festival of Unleavened Bread, called the Passover, was approaching,
[The Last Supper] Then came the day of Unleavened Bread on which the Passover lamb had to be sacrificed.
Jesus sent Peter and John, saying, “Go and make preparations for us to eat the Passover.”
and say to the owner of the house, ‘The Teacher asks: Where is the guest room, where I may eat the Passover with my disciples?’
They left and found things just as Jesus had told them. So, they prepared the Passover.
And he said to them, “I have eagerly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer.
[Jesus Clears the Temple Courts] When it was almost time for the Jewish Passover, Jesus went up to Jerusalem.
Now while he was in Jerusalem at the Passover Festival, many people saw the signs he was performing and believed in his name.
When he arrived in Galilee, the Galileans welcomed him. They had seen all that he had done in Jerusalem at the Passover Festival, for they also had been there.
The Jewish Passover Festival was near.
When it was almost time for the Jewish Passover, many went up from the country to Jerusalem for their ceremonial cleansing before the Passover.
Six days before the Passover, Jesus came to Bethany, where Lazarus lived, whom Jesus had raised from the dead.
It was just before the Passover Festival. Jesus knew that the hour had come for him to leave this world and go to the Father. Having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end.
[Jesus Before Pilate] Then the Jewish leaders took Jesus from Caiaphas to the palace of the Roman governor. By now it was early morning, and to avoid ceremonial uncleanness they did not enter the palace, because they wanted to be able to eat the Passover.
But it is your custom for me to release to you one prisoner at the time of the Passover. Do you want me to release ‘the king of the Jews’?”
It was the day of Preparation of the Passover; it was about noon. “Here is your king,” Pilate said to the Jews.
After arresting him, he put him in prison, handing him over to be guarded by four squads of four soldiers each. Herod intended to bring him out for public trial after the Passover.
Get rid of the old yeast, so that you may be a new unleavened batch—as you really are. For Christ, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed. 8 Therefore let us keep the Festival, not with the old bread leavened with malice and wickedness, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.
By faith he kept the Passover and the application of blood, so that the destroyer of the firstborn would not touch the firstborn of Israel.
Now in relation to COVID-19 and the other SARS viruses and plagues covering the earth:
Consider Deuteronomy 29: 24-29 - 24 All the nations will ask: “Why has the Lord done this to this land? Why this fierce, burning anger?” 25 And the answer will be: “It is because this people abandoned the covenant of the Lord, the God of their ancestors, the covenant he made with them when he brought them out of Egypt. 26 They went off and worshiped other gods and bowed down to them, gods they did not know, gods he had not given them. 27 Therefore the Lord’s anger burned against this land, so that he brought on it all the curses written in this book. 28 In furious anger and in great wrath the Lord uprooted them from their land and thrust them into another land, as it is now.” 29 The secret things belong to the Lord our God, but the things revealed belong to us and to our children forever, that we may follow all the words of this law.
As always, you are invited to visit us online at www.3am-ministry.org, join us in prayer, develop your spiritual gifts to execute a powerful ministry in your circle of influence, or just take time to get closer to the God of heaven, the God and Father of us all.