|PASSOVER, UNLEAVENED BREAD, FIRST FRUITS, PENTECOST
The Feasts are a kind of visual aid for us that give us glimpses of God, and can enrich our lives as believers, as God opens our eyes so we can see the truth that is contained within them. They should always point us to Jesus, the foundation of our faith.
There are several levels of fulfilment for the feasts – In the lives of the Israelites – In the life of Jesus – And in our lives as believers. There is also a seasonal fulfilment in Church history, which we shall not be looking at in this study.
We shall see that the Spring feasts, PASSOVER, UNLEAVENED BREAD, FIRST FRUITS, PENTECOST were historically fulfilled by Jesus – The Autumn Feasts TRUMPETS, DAY OF ATONEMENT, TABERNACLES contain, as well as teaching we can apply to our lives today, a future prophetic fulfilment .
Israel’s feasts and festivals were to be times of religious and community celebration. Ordained by God they were to be the outward expression of a right inward spiritual attitude, some were celebrated with awe and solemnity and some with great joy
In this study I am aiming for us not get bogged down by the detail, but rather to find the heart of God towards his chosen people. The Hebrew nation was God’s covenant people. This was never exclusive, to those who were born into Israel, but always found a place for those whose heart was turned towards God, and were obedient towards his ways.
Rahab and Ruth are two examples of women from other nations, who were so accepted into God’s chosen, called out people, that they are listed in the genealogy of Jesus.
God made man in his image and desires to be in relationship with us. Because man has a bias towards sin, which makes a barrier between God and man, as well as between man and man (or woman and woman!) God established the Feasts so sin could be dealt with in a way that was acceptable to him, and full fellowship with him restored.
As believers we can look at the Feasts and find God’s heart for mankind. John 3:16 - God so loved the world that he sent Jesus, the fulfilment of the law, that whoever would believe in him would not perish, but receive the gift of eternal life. The gift of Jesus, opened the way, in a much greater sense, for the whole of mankind to know him and live in a close personal relationship with him.
The Feasts is an exciting study, this teaching only contains a fraction of information about the Feasts and I encourage you to join me now, as we begin the discovery of what God is saying to us.
The Feasts of Israel had three distinct periods – First - Passover, Unleavened Bread and First fruits; second – Pentecost; third - The Feast of Trumpets, The Day of Atonement and the Feast of Tabernacles. God required the children of Israel to visit Jerusalem to celebrate the Feasts of Passover, Pentecost and Tabernacles. Deuteronomy 16:1-17
1. PASSOVER – Pesach - Jesus the Saviour
Exodus 12:1-24; Leviticus 23:4-5
- Deliverance from bondage in Egypt. – The Hebrews had gone to Egypt at the time of Joseph to escape the famine in their own land. Over the years the Egyptians had enslaved them and made their lives a misery, so they cried out to God to release them; God chose Moses to be their leader and bring them out. Each time God sent a plague on the Egyptians, the Pharaoh said he would release them, but then hardened his heart and refused. So finally God said he would destroy all the firstborn in the land. The Hebrews were to take a perfect lamb, without spot or blemish, and take it into their household, and observe it for 5 days. There was to be nothing wrong with it. He was then to take the lamb onto his doorstep and kill it, catching the blood in a basin. The blood was to be sprinkled on the doorposts and lintel of the house. The lamb was then to be roasted, and entirely consumed by the household. When the angel of death flew by, he would pass over the house marked with the blood of the lamb. Anyone in that house was protected by the blood.
- God spared Israel’s firstborn, His people were saved from death.
- His people were brought into feedom.
- God commanded his people, those who were in a covenant relationship with him, marked by circumcision, to celebrate this feast each year. It would be a time of great joy, praise, and adoration to God, accompanied by musical instruments. As it reached its culmination they would sing the Hallel, Psalms 113-118 then say “This is the day that the Lord has made, we will rejoice and be glad in it!”Ps.118:24
- One day (Biblical day – 6.00pm – 6.00pm The morning beginning at 6.00am)
- Isaiah 53
- Jesus, the lamb of God John 1:29
- In the week running up to the crucifixion Jesus entered the temple area several times – In this way he could be observed to be the perfect Lamb of God.
- Jesus celebrated the Passover meal with his disciples. The seder meal includes, the lamb, the bitter herbs, the unleavened bread and four cups of wine, the cup of blessing, the cup of wrath, the cup of redemption, and the final cup, which Jesus said he would not drink again until his return, was the cup of the kingdom . Mark 15:12-16; 22-26
- Fulfilled when Jesus was crucified, he became our Passover lamb. John 19:17-37;
1 Peter 1:17-20
- Josephus, a Jewish historian, says there were about 256,500 Passover lambs killed the year Jesus was crucified. It was necessary for the Jews to prepare them for sacrifice at 9.00am, the exact hour Jesus was nailed to the cross, so they would be ready to be killed a 3.00pm, the exact time that Jesus died. Many other prophecies and events were perfectly fulfilled at the crucifixion.
- When we receive Jesus as our own personal saviour we fulfil the Passover in our own lives. We enter into a personal relationship with God and find God’s heart of love for us.
- Romans 3:23; 6:23We deserved to die for our sin, but we can accept the blood of Jesus as deliverance from our bondage to sin and experience instead new birth and the gift of eternal life. John 17:3
- If we believe this we need to repent (turn away from) our sin, ask God to forgive us, ask Jesus to come into our life and choose to follow him.
- When you apply this to your life, you become a Christian. John 1:12; 1 Cor 5:7
- Freedom is very much a theme of Passover, and for the believer we are set free! Just as the Red Sea closed behind the children of Israel, when we repent God not only forgives us, but forgets our sin. Psalm 103:12
- We are reminded of the Passover meal when we break bread as Jesus commanded.
2. UNLEAVENED BREAD – Hag HaMatzah - Jesus the bread of life
Exodus 12:14-20; 13:3-8; Leviticus 23:6-8
- Linked closely to Passover
- Leaving Egypt behind, the Exodus
- The Israelites were to leave in a hurry, and would not have time for the bread to rise, God told them to make bread without yeast. This bread is known as matzah.
- A custom celebrating purging leaven from the house - Bedikat HaMetz: Removing the leavened bread (with yeast) from the house – The wife is to clean the house, but purposely leave small pieces of this bread around. At night, when the house is in darkness the Father, takes the children, and a candle, a wooden spoon, a feather, and a piece of linen cloth and searches for the leaven. When he finds the leaven he puts the candle down, and lays the wooden spoon down, then being careful not to touch it, uses the feather to sweep the leaven into the spoon. When it has all been found, the spoon, the candle and the leaven is tied in the linen cloth and put outside the door. Next morning he takes the linen cloth to the synagogue and everything is burned. 1
- Fulfilment of this custom – The Holy Spirit (feather) and God’s Word (candle) reveal the sin (leaven, or yeast) in our lives. Jesus took our sin on the tree, or cross (wooden spoon.) Jesus was wrapped in grave clothes (linen cloth) and descended into hell, where our sin was burnt and utterly destroyed. 2
- Celebrated for seven days
- Jesus is the Bread of Life John 6: 32-35
- This Feast was fulfilled when Jesus took our sin on the cross 2 Corinthians 5:21and by the burial of Jesus. John19:38-42
- Once we have received Jesus as our own personal Saviour, God declares us righteous before him, but he does not desire to leave us there. He wants us to continue in our walk with Him.
- Our bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit
- Romans 8:1-14 We need to put off the old and separate our selves from evil.
- Egypt represents our sinful nature. Yeast also is symbolic of sin. It is therefore a removal of sin from our life.
- Leaving the old life behind the children of Israel took the dough before the yeast had been added because they had to be ready to leave Egypt in a hurry. We must always be ready to leave our worldly attitudes and sinful ways behind.
- It is like having cupboards, where we just allow rubbish to collect, things that might be useful again, unwanted gifts, things we don’t know what to do with. We can have ‘cupboards’ inside us where we allow things to collect – bad attitudes, fears, worries, doubts, bad habits, hardened hearts etc. We need to clean them out and allow God to deal with these things, as he highlights them in our lives.
- Ephesians 4:20-22 We have a personal responsibility to deal with wrongdoing in our lives. Sin, and the lure of the things of the world, is deceptive. When we begin to follow Gods ways we are much happier. (If we are addicted to these things then we need to seek further help to be released.)
- 2 Cor 6:17. We are buried with Christ.
- We need to feed on Jesus – the bread of life.
3. FIRSTFRUITS – Bikkurim - Jesus the risen Lord
- When the standing ripe harvest of barley was to be harvested, the first sheaf was to be brought to the priests to be consecrated, a kind of Harvest thanksgiving. The first fruits were always the choicest and best. The pre-eminent
- To be celebrated the day after the Sabbath
- Other important things that happened on this day:
Traditionally Noah’s Ark rested on Mount Ararat.
Traditionally Israel crossed the Red Sea
Israel ate the first fruits of the promised land Josh 5:10-12
Haman was defeated (in the book of Esther.)
- Fulfilled by the resurrection of Jesus Luke 24:1-8
- Jesus became the first fruit to God; the best and pre-eminent of all who were to become believers. 1 Cor 15:20-23
- If the first fruit was acceptable to the farmer, then so was the rest of the crop! Romans 11:16. Because Jesus was acceptable then so are we!
- We need to walk in the new resurrection life he has provided for us. Romans 8:11
- Stopping living in our old way of life is not sufficient; we also need to take up a new way of life. 2 Corinthians 5:17; Ephesians 4:23& 24 This will not happen overnight, and often requires us to change our whole way of thinking – Having our mind renewed Romans 12:1&2
- Perhaps God wants to give you something new to put in your cleaned out cupboard! – His peace, joy, love etc.
- Consecration – as we begin to walk in this new, resurrection life, then much of our struggling and striving cease. Just as God provided for the children of Israel when they reached the promised land, so he has provided all we need to live the life he intended.
4. PENTECOST – Shavuot - Jesus exalted, pours the Holy Spirit on all believers
(Feast of Weeks) Exodus 23:16a; Leviticus 23:15-21; Deuteronomy 16:9-12
- Exodus 20:1-17 Giving of the Torah fifty days after they left Egypt, to Moses on Mount Sinai. The word Torah does not actually mean law, a list of do’s and don’ts, but instruction or teaching. Thus it was God’s way of learning to understand him better.
- Also called Feast of Weeks. It was seven weeks from First fruits or Pentecost – 50 days (Greek)
- The completion of the wheat harvest, was to be celebrated with two wave offering loaves made with finest wheat flour and this time, yeast.
- Jesus death meant that many more would be saved. John 12:23&
- It was fulfilled with the poring out of the Holy Spirit on the first disciples. Acts 2:1-4.
- Thousands of Jews were gathered in Jerusalem at this time, being the second feast they were commanded to celebrate there. They could see and hear what God had done, and about 3000 responded to Peter’s sermon to repent and believe in Jesus. Acts 2:41(Ref. Exodus 32:1-8, 26-28)
- The law which had been written on tablets of stone was now written on hearts of flesh, by the Holy Spirit. Jeremiah 31:33; 2 Corinthians 3:3 Men could obey God, not because they had to, but because they wanted to. Hard hearts were soften and people chose to believe.
- The loaves were made with yeast, which were waved before God. We still have sin in our lives and are not yet perfect.
- This is another first fruits celebration; God should be seeing the fruit of the Spirit in evidence in our lives. Galatians 5:22& 23
- The2 loaves also represents the Jews and the Gentiles.
- The living, glorified Lord still baptises his followers in the Holy Spirit. It’s his purpose that we might have his transforming power to be bold witnesses to Jesus Christ
Acts 1:8 .
- The gift of tongues is the initial evidence of Baptism in the Holy Spirit just as it was for the first disciples.
- We need a daily infilling of the Holy Spirit to be the people God intended for us to be, totally transformed as Peter and the other followers (120) were on that first Pentecost.
The heart of God:
Passover - God delivered his people from bondage in Egypt - Jesus Crucifixion – So we could be delivered from the bondage of sin and receive the gift of eternal life, and have a close personal relationship with him . (Salvation & Recommitment)
Unleavened Bread - God lead his people out of Egypt into freedom - Jesus buried – We need to leave our old life of sin behind, we are free.
Firstfruits – God lead his people through the Red Sea into a new life of dependence on him and after 40 years into the promised land, where he provided for them - Jesus Resurrection – We need to live the new life of dependence on Jesus and his all his promises that he has provided for us.
Pentecost – The giving of the law - Jesus exalted and pours out the Holy Spirit on all believers –
As born again, Spirit filled believers, we are enabled to live a dynamic Christian life and see his power at work so that others may also receive that liberation. We discover his heart and our attitudes are changed, so his law is written on our hearts, and we choose to be his disciples.