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Feast days in the Bible are an enigma. Are they Jewish? Should Christians observe them? Are they rituals or do they have meaning? Read on.
God’s feast days are one of the biggest puzzles of religion and Bible theology. Books like Exodus and Leviticus record them, and many therefore consider them as festivals for the Israelites. In the New Testament, Christ seems to have observed some of them. But He’s Jewish, so that’s normal. When you get into the post-Jesus Christian era, there are vague allusions to Passover, Unleavened Bread, a fast by the Apostles but no clear injunctions for their observance.
Do we? Don’t we? Are they necessary under the new dispensation? Which Feasts? And the questions go on and on. As with a lot of Bible commentaries showing Old Testament principles are no longer binding, they emphasize the triviality of events, often quoting Bible experts to back up their suppositions.
You can look at all the arguments against Feast keeping by searching in Google, “why old testament feast days are no longer valid.” There’s supposedly verse after verse proving the abolition of the Feast days. Paradoxically, one Church which observes these days proposes their primary reason, Christ did, so we do too. Should that be the primary reason? It certainly is a good one, but I doubt it’s the essential purpose.
What is the underlying aim of the Feast Days? They are vital lessons God teaches humankind. Yes, not just Israelites, or Old Testament Israel, or a few Christian observers of these days. The Feasts teach incredible lessons about God, His plan, and humankind’s relation to their Creator.
Consider this post an introduction to the subject. It will give you Bible reasons to motivate your closer study of this exciting subject. We want a Godview, what God has in mind. Why God instituted the Feast days. Is there something He wants us to learn beyond simple observance because the Old Testament Israelites kept them with sacrifices and Christ observed them because He was Jewish?
The Explanation always starts at the beginning in Genesis. The first five minutes of the movie establish the characters and plot. Let’s begin with a question detractors refer to regularly. Light on Day 1, when the Sun only appears on Day 4 of Creation. I point out that whoever wrote Genesis would’ve been aware of such a blatant discrepancy and made amends, were it a mistake, but it isn’t.
Please read this post for a detailed explanation. The brief answer is the sun was already there on Day 1, having been set in place billions of years previously. Day 4 says, “God made two great lights…” The made does not imply Creation but rather adjustment of the sun and moon to govern the calendar.
In the 21st century in our Western society, we tend to forget the importance of seasons. Yes, we know it’s too hot in summer and too cold in winter and the climate is upset. But what I mean is we don’t see the relation between seasons and harvests. Our food comes from a supermarket and with globalization we can get all products year-round. In a geographical location, it doesn’t work that way. There’s spring, summer, autumn, and winter.
Genesis 1:14 says, “let there be lights in the firmament of the heaven to divide the day from the night; and let them be for signs, and for seasons (H4150), and for days, and years.” That is the key to Day 4. Do a study of Christ’s parables and see how many of them refer to seed, crops, and harvesting. Christ gave the parables to teach us lessons of life, particularly Christian life. Could it be the key to understanding times, seasons, and Feast Days? Yes, as we shall see.
Sabbath and Feast Days
Let’s grasp the relationship between the first and last days of Creation week. The Explanation elaborated on this subject in Origin of the Universe. Please read the background. I wrote,
Days 1 / 4: Light-Dark / Sun-MoonDays 2 / 5: Water-Sky / Fish-Fowl (Genesis 1.20-23)Days 3 / 6: Land / Fauna (Genesis 1.24-25)
There are rhyme and reason for this creation parallelism which continues to Days 4 /7. That’s why I explained the meaning of the Sabbath day and Christ’s words, “the Sabbath was made for man.” The Sabbath teaches us creating, refreshing, resting on a weekly basis. It parallels Day 4, which instructs us in the same lessons on a monthly and yearly basis, according to God’s established calendar.
The link between the Sabbath (established Day 7 of Creation week), the Feast Days (Day 4), and the seasons (Day 4) is in Leviticus 23:1-4. Note
- The Sabbath is the first of the Feast Days (verse 3)
- The Feasts (verse 2) and the seasons (verse 4) are the identical Hebrew word, Moadim – H4150. Verify this in Strong’s Concordance with the Bible tools at UnlockBibleMeaning.com. God established the seasons (moadim) so we can know when the Feast days (moadim) occur on the calendar. Without the movement of the sun and moon, no calendar, no seasons, no knowing when these Feast Days occur.
The fourth day of Creation establishes the movement of our key calendar pointers, the sun and moon, not to be worshipped, but to designate for humankind the Feast Days we are to worship God. These same Feast Days, through the seasons and harvests, also reflect the plan of God for the individual and collective salvation of all of humankind as we shall see.
1 And the LORD spake to Moses, saying,
2 Speak to the children of Israel, and say to them, Concerning the feasts (H4150) of the LORD, which you shall proclaim to be holy convocations, even these are my feasts.
3 Six days shall work be done: but the seventh day is the sabbath of rest, an holy convocation; you shall do no work therein: it is the sabbath of the LORD in all your dwellings.
4 These are the feasts of the LORD, even holy convocations, which you shall proclaim in their seasons (H4150).
5 In the fourteenth day of the first month at even is the LORD’s passover.
Notice, they are the Feast of the Lord, just like Christ is the Lord of the Sabbath. He’s also Lord of the Moadim, the Feasts. In this respect, Creation week is a literal period of 24-hour days. Why? Because, whereas the movements of the sun and moon in relation to Earth establish the length of day, month, seasons and year, no celestial movements establish the length of a week! Only the 7 24-hour days of Creation establish the length of a week.
Worldwide, we observe the 7-day week without realizing its origin at the Creation. Christ, as Lord of the Sabbath rested on the original Sabbath to refresh, so to speak, the first two humans. That 24-hour period followed the previous six 24-hour days, inaugurating the period of a week.
One thing is not a mystery, the length of a week and which day is the seventh day, it’s Saturday, and that is the Day of the Lord, the Sabbath with its name revealing the plan of God. It is the only day with a name and names, in Hebrew, are vital for teaching meaning. An ordinal number (first, second, third…) designates all the other days; they are regular working days, “Six days shall you labour, and do all your work. (Exodus 20:9).”
The link between Leviticus 23 and Genesis 1 clearly reveals what God did the fourth day of Creation.
14 And God said, Let there be lights in the firmament of the heaven to divide the day from the night; and let them be for signs, and for seasons (H4150 – moadim), and for days, and years:
15 And let them be for lights in the firmament of the heaven to give light upon the earth: and it was so.
This is where you have to be very careful studying translations. In verse 14, these are not the seasons of spring, summer, fall, and winter. The Biblical Hebrew name moadim tells us what they are.
מוֹעֵד môwʻêd mo-ade’; or מֹעֵד; or (feminine) מוֹעָדָה; (2 Chronicles 8:13), from H3259 (יָעַד); properly, an appointment, i.e. a fixed time or season; specifically, a festival; conventionally a year; by implication, an assembly (as convened for a definite purpose); technically the congregation; by extension, the place of meeting; also a signal (as appointed beforehand):
KJV – appointed (sign, time), (place of, solemn) assembly, congregation, (set, solemn) feast, (appointed, due) season, solemn(-ity), synogogue, (set) time (appointed).
Moadim are times appointed by God, on Day 4 of Creation, to designate appointed feasts at set times in places of solemn assembly. It cannot be emphasized enough that God established these appointed times before He created humankind. He is Lord of the Moadim.
The moadim, the Feast Days, intricately tie into the planting of seed, the harvesting, offerings and blessings of the resultant crops. The entire story of humankind from a Godview revolves around a land of milk and honey (a description of the Holy Land, but also of the Garden of Eden), and bread and wine, from Melchizedek to Christ. The flora (flowers > bees > honey), fauna (cows > milk), crops (grains > bread, grapes > wine) are all a result of establishing the calendar on Day 4 of Creation.
The milk and honey, bread and wine are vital for our physical sustenance. I don’t have to go into details here, for you to know the relevance of the bread and wine, the body and blood of Jesus Christ for our spiritual sustenance. Without them we are spiritually dead, with them we come alive and can access eternal life. The physical food and crops prefigure the spiritual food and crops.
The first of the Feast Days is Passover, (Lev. 23:5) the Feast of the blood of an unblemished lamb smeared on the doorposts to identify the occupants to be saved and unleavened bread because the Israelites left in haste (Exodus 12:8, 39). The very symbolism of the blood Christ so we do not die of our sins and His body so we can be healed from our past life. On the 14th day of the month, why? Because that is a full moon, when the light of Christ shines fully on Christ’s brothers and sisters. The wine and bread of Passover symbolize this transitional moment in a Christian’s life.
I could go on and explain the meaning of each of the seven Feast Days evoked in Leviticus 23. In fact, you can write a book about them as they relate to Christ’s parables and reveal God’s plan of salvation for all of humankind. I want to take another approach because of what a human being is. Unfortunately, today, humans do not know who they are. Science is continually telling us we are the continuum of the animal kingdom. They keep pounding on animal intelligence and the only 5% difference in the genome of apes compared to humans. In other words, we’re pretty closely related.
No, there’s isn’t any relationship between humankind and apes or any animal. There is an impassable chasm, too deep, too wide to be crossed separating us. The moadim, the Feast Days, demonstrate this night and day reality.
The first injunction Peter gave people to become Christian was, “repent and be baptized” (Acts 2:38). What is the meaning of repent? Repent from what? How? The Explanation expounded How Humans Function in Section 2 of the book Audit of Humankind.
There are seven steps relevant to human functioning. We must understand each in its role regarding repentance:
- Dual human nature
- Free will
- Human Behavior
- Self-Reproach– Repentance before forgiveness, therefore preceding baptism.
- Forgiveness – Passover, corresponding to baptism for the watery burial of our sins and resurrection from the watery grave as a new, clean spiritual creation, the new hu(man) (Ephesians 4:24, Colossians 3:10).
The first of the Feast Days is Passover, corresponding to the seventh step of how humans function. Note that repentance, or self-reproach as I called it, is the sixth step before forgiveness. Here’s the key. A being can NOT be repentant without understanding and accepting the first five steps of how humans function, in particular, oneself. Every human must and will recognize their dual nature, their free will, their behavior, where they have fallen short of God’s ethics and His justice. When they do, they’re repentant and ready for baptism and forgiveness. I hope you realize there’s a lot of baptizing going on withOUT this perception, withOUT repentance.
I hear some saying, “not so, all you have to do is give your heart to the Lord,” and He will save you. Practical Bible wisdom dismisses such affirmations. Bible evidence is in the Old and New Testaments. I will limit this post to the Old because most people think the ten plagues of Egypt leading to the Passover are myth, or a nice plot for a Charlton Heston, Yul Brynner movie.
The ten plagues reveal the first five points of how humans function. Each plague showed the dual nature (1) of the Egyptians and their Pharaoh. The free choice (2) of being in favor or against the Word of God in the mouth of Moses to let His people go. By the 7th plague even some Egyptians changed their minds, exercising their free will (2) to oppose Pharoah (Exodus 9:20). But Pharoah’s ten choices against God’s will revealed his behavior (3). He disobeyed the orders, the ethics (4), God set for him and his people. The ensuing plagues were God’s justice (5) for his free will decisions and behavior.
There are no less than ten examples to drive the necessity of proper human behavior home. The Egyptians didn’t learn and frankly, as the story develops, neither did the Israelites. Their disobedience (3) to God’s ethics, His commands (4) is the reason they spent 40 years, God’s justice (5), in the desert. It’s the reason why Joshua and Caleb went into the Promised Land (Numbers 14:24). Their dual nature (1) exercised the proper free choice decision (2) to believe God’s ethical guidelines (4) and were blessed (the upside of God’s Justice) by crossing the Jordan river.
No animal can follow any of these steps of how humans function, that’s the impassable chasm. Every human being who has lived on Earth, regardless of gender, race, or creed, has or can have that opportunity. I realize there are mental and other reasons this is not possible and will return to this point. But recognize that in Christ’s day, since then, and even today very few people are aware of how humans function, godly sorrow, repentance and His forgiveness (Matthew 22:14, 2 Corinthians 7:10).
If the seven steps of how humans function culminate in forgiveness, corresponding to the first Feast Day, Passover, what about the other six Feast Days?
Feast 2 – Following the forgiveness of Passover, Unleavened Bread (15th day of 1st month) is the correct application of the first five steps of how a human functions. Unleavened signifies we’ve taken the self, our vanity, our sin, out of our behavior (1 Corinthians 5:6-8). Our nature (1) opts to choose (2) and behave (3) in accordance with God’s way (4). We learn the Biblical ethics and apply them.
Feast 3 – Pentecost. Reception of the Holy Spirit, becoming part of God’s community, the Church of which He is the Cornerstone (Acts 2:38). Biblically, this is the Spring, early harvest, the firstfruits of the harvest, in the form of two loaves offered to God on the Day of Pentecost (Lev. 23:16-22). Humans cannot apply how God wants them to function only with the human mind. We need God’s mind, which He gave on Pentecost through the power of the Holy Spirit. This makes us a new hu(man), a new spiritual creation (Ephesians 4:24). This is the whole meaning of God making (hu)man(s) on the Sabbath day.
Collective Salvation for Everyone
Feast 4 – The Feast of Trumpets (1st Day of the 7th month of completion of spiritual creation). A new moon, in other words, a dark time for the world. But a bright time for God’s chosen because it inaugurates the salvation of all of humankind. No details here because of space. The key is, it corresponds to justice (5).
- Justice for God’s saints, those who have God’s nature (1), made right choices (2) with proper behavior (3) following God’s ethics (4). They will be resurrected or transformed into Spirit beings and rule with Christ on Earth. This is all God’s people, from Pentecost to the Second Coming of Christ, the early harvest.
- Justice for the world, which has wrongly applied the 4 points of how humans should function, a time of trouble culminating in Armageddon and the putting away of rebellion to God’s ways.
Feast 5 – Atonement (10th day of 7th month), The remaining world population begins a period of re-learning, self-reproach (6). The Spirit beings, the saints, the Apostles, led by Christ are the teachers of the world population who will begin to see the spiritual light, how they should function God’s way.
Feast 6. – of Tabernacles (7 day from the 15th of the 7th month). The Fall great harvest begins. This is a period of 1000 years of peace and prosperity on Earth. The goal is to show humankind that living by God’s ethics with His government, developing God’s nature (1), making right choices (2), proper behavior (3) according to His ethics (4) will lead to repentance (6) and forgiveness (7) of the population, resulting in their transformation into Spirit beings. This transformation of multitudes of people who live their family lives giving birth to children during the Millenium is the beginning of the Fall harvest.
Feast 7 – The Last Great Day. The day immediately following the Feast of Tabernacles. Possibly the least understood of the Feast Days. This is when ALL the dead will rise. ALL the dead from and including Adam and Eve all the way to Christ’s Second Coming. A period of about 6000 years corresponding to the period where God gave domination, the rule of Earth, over to humankind.
These multiple billions will be resurrected (Ezekiel 37, Revelation 20:5). They will have healthy flesh on healthy bones with healthy minds. They will receive their own spirit, the one that returned to God at their death with the record of their life on Earth. During the Last Great Day they will be in the Millennial world of God’s way with God’s teachers, all the saints from the Spring and Fall harvests. This is when all families and loved ones will be reunited. An incredible gathering.
It will be their time to learn and apply how God wants humans to function. They will be able to compare their former world and ways of war, famine, sorrow, sickness… to God’s society and ways. The vast majority will make the right choice to repent, be forgiven and follow how God wants humans to function. They will join the great Fall harvest as Spirit beings.
There are many other events taking place that I cannot expand here. The point is, God is a Just God. What that means is, God judges every single human being by the SAME STANDARDS as set out in His Word, the Bible. This is practical Bible wisdom. Those norms are those of the 7 steps of how humans should function. It is the choice of EACH human to decide whether to follow the Tree of Life or the Tree of Death with the resultant justice.
The Sabbath summarizes this entire path of ceasing, refreshing, resting. The Feast Days outline the key steps of the seasons and the seeding, growing and harvesting of all of humankind. God is not a respecter of persons, He gives everyone the same opportunity for salvation, each in their time.
The Feast Days reveal how humans should function to prepare for the incredible eternal future God has planned for us.
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