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The Gospel in the Feasts of Israel

Ron Elkin
Ammi Ministry

Passover

Passover takes place on the 14th of Nissan and commemorates Israel's deliverance from slavery in Egypt. They had been helpless, unarmed, and unable to free themselves. Through Moses, God brought ten plagues on Egypt before Pharaoh let God's people go. The tenth and most terrible plague of God was the death of the firstborn. However, God used the blood of a lamb without spot or blemish to protect the Israelites from this judgment he brought upon the Egyptians.

When I see the blood I will pass over you, and no plague will befall you to destroy you when I strike the land of Egypt. (Exodus 12:13)

When God delivered Israel, He led them to Mt. Sinai where He made them a covenant nation, a nations of priests (Exod. 19:5-6).

Likewise, Christians are people who were hopelessly enslaved to sin and who could not free themselves from their corrupt nature or from Satan. God liberated them through the blood of Jesus to a new life where He makes them His covenant people (1 Peter 2:9).

The central figure of Passover was the Passover lamb. The lamb was to be selected on the 10th of Nissan and had to be perfect, without spot or blemish. Each household was to take the lamb they selected and bring it into their home. They were to continue to examine it to determine if it was perfect.

Jesus' triumphal entry into Jerusalem was on the 10th of Nissan. Later He would be examined by the Sanhedrin, King Herod, and finally Pilate. None of them could find any fault with him. He had to be perfect. If Jesus had committed one sin, He would not have been qualified to take our sins on himself (1 Peter 1:18,19).

On the 14th of Nissan the Lamb was to be slain in the afternoon, and its blood put on the top door post and the two side posts. God could have given them any design or manner to apply the blood. He could have told them to draw a circle around the home or put an X on the windows, but instead He gave them a pattern that forms a cross. The blood of the lamb protected the first born of the Jews from the wrath of God, which came upon the first born of the Egyptians. It didn't matter if they were religious or willful sinners, the blood saved them.

Jesus was slain in the afternoon on the 14th of Nissan; He died on a cross. The blood of Jesus protects those who believe in Him from God's wrath in the day of judgment. It doesn't matter how sinful they were. But those who reject Jesus will experience the wrath of God and suffer eternal hell.

God told the Israelites not to break a bone of the lamb's body. He didn't explain why He wanted them to be careful not to do this. On the cross, none of Jesus' bones were broken either. The Romans sometimes broke the legs of those being crucified to hasten their deaths, and they did this to the two men crucified with Jesus. However, when the soldiers saw that Jesus had already died, they did not break his legs. Jesus perfectly fulfills the prophecy of the Exodus Passover.

Feast of Unleavened Bread

God told the Israelites to eat unleavened bread for the seven days following Passover. The first day coincided with the Passover. Leaven is a symbol for sin in both the Old and New Testaments. When Jesus came to the Last Supper, which was a Passover meal, He could take bread, which represented sinlessness, and truly say, "This is my body broken for you." He was the sinless one who was slain for our sins.

The Feast of Bikkurim (First Fruits)

On the day after the Sabbath during the week of Unleavened Bread, the Israelites were to take ripening grain and wave it before God as a thanksgiving offering. The grain represented the beginning of the harvest. Jesus rose from the dead on this feast day. He represents the firstborn from the dead, and the beginning of the harvest of Old and New Testament believers into God's eternal kingdom (1 Corinthians 15:20).

The Feast of Shavuot (Pentecost)

Fifty days after the Feast of First Fruits, the Israelites were to celebrate another harvest thanksgiving offering to the Lord. However, this time they were to take some grain from their fields and make it into two loaves of bread with leaven. The priest was to wave these loaves before God as an offering. This was the only offering in which God allowed leaven to be present. This also was an ingathering holiday when all of Israel was to come to the place where God would establish his presence and worship Him. God chose this day to pour out His Spirit on the disciples of Jesus (Acts 2:1-4). Jerusalem was overflowing with visitors from foreign lands who had come to celebrate Shavuot. As the disciples became filled with the Spirit of God, they began to praise God in the languages of the visitors. Then Peter preached Christ crucified and 3,000 sinners were gathered into God's kingdom.

The two loaves could represent sinful Jews and sinful Gentiles who are the harvest of God, the church. The church is made up of sinners who form one body. Recall that Jesus referred to himself as the Bread of Life. Bread or grain is the staple of the world. Therefore, Jesus is the spiritual staple of the world. His church represents His body on this earth today. We are to feed the world the spiritual truth of the Gospel. Bread is made by crushing the grains and forming a loaf. In order for individuals in the church to be made into bread that has flavor, they also must also be "crushed" (cf. John 12:24) and crucified with Christ (Gal. 2:20).

Rosh Hashanah (The Feast of Trumpets)

God told Israel to have a memorial, a day of rest and to sound the trumpets. He did not tell them the purpose for this day. The trumpet is used in the Old Testament as a sign or warning of impending danger (Neh. 4:20). Thus it can serve as a sign or warning of the impending judgment of God on the enemies of God's people (cf. Josh. 6:20). It is also a symbol of God's call for mankind to repent (Isa. 58:1). With the Day of Atonement coming only 10 days after this feast, the Lord was preparing the Israelites by giving them a day of rest to reflect on their spiritual condition.

In the New Testament the trumpet is a symbol of several things: God's judgment on the wicked (Rev. 8, 9, 11), a sign of Christ's gathering of the church to Himself (Matt. 24:31), and the return of Christ (1 Thes. 4:16,17; 1 Cor. 15:52). Since God has chosen to fulfill the major events that shape Christianity on the Feast days of Israel, it is very possible that on some future Feast of Trumpets the Lord will return. When the Jewish New Year, Rosh Hashanah, comes each year, this is a good time to reflect on our walk with the Lord. When He returns, will you rejoice or cringe back in shame?

Yom Kippur (The Day of Atonement)

On this most solemn of the Jewish holidays, the High Priest was to take the blood of a goat into the Holy of Holies and apply it to the mercy seat. When he did this, Israel would be forgiven for the sins they had committed against God during the past year. Each year the ceremony had to be repeated. By contrast, Christ's death was a once-and-for-all sacrifice for our sins. At His death on the cross, the veil in front of the Holy of Holies in the Temple was split in two (Luke 23:45). This symbolized that believers in Christ are forgiven of their sins and now have access to the throne of God's grace (Heb 6:19, 9:3, 10:20).

The Feast of Succoth (Booths)

God wanted to remind Israel about how He provided for their ancestors as they wandered in the desert for 40 years. He wanted each generation to realize their dependence on Him for their well being. The Jews were required by God to celebrate this feasts with great joy (Lev. 23:40). By the time of Jesus, the Israelites had developed a special ceremony of pouring out water at the base of the altar in the Temple. This symbolized a prayer for God to send rain for the next year and also to send the Messiah to liberate His people and give them spiritual refreshment. Jesus declared that He was that spiritual refreshment they were seeking:

On the last and greatest day of the Feast, Jesus stood and said in a loud voice, "If anyone is thirsty, let him come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, streams of living water will flow from within him." (John 7:37-38)

This feast also represents the Eternal Kingdom of God, where we will dwell in the tent of the Lord forever.

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