Feasts of the Lord 101
For those of you who are new to the foundational truths of the Bible, it is almost time to celebrate the Feast of Pesach (Passover), one of three primary Feasts of the Lord. The biblical feasts are symbolic and prophetic, finding their ultimate fulfillment in Messiah Yeshua. All of the feasts were a source of great joy in Bible times as they gathered God’s people together for a holy convocation, a sacred assembly, known as a miqra (מִקְרָא). God referred to His feasts as “holy convocations” in the following passage:
The Lord spoke again to Moses, saying, “Speak to the sons of Israel and say to them, ‘The Lord’s appointed times which you shall proclaim as holy convocations—My appointed times are these…” Lev 23:1-2
The ancient rituals and celebrations were a sacred memorial of what God had done in the past and were a prophetic “dress rehearsal” for future events. The feasts are still commemorated in Judaism today, and more and more Christians are participating in the sacred festivities every year. Yeshua attended the Feasts of the Lord during His earthly sojourn, setting an example for all believers.
The festal seasons in ancient Israel were the most joyous events on the Hebrew calendar (God’s calendar), designating a specific, unalterable time for family and friends to rendezvous with God in His holy Temple. Enormous crowds of people descended upon the city of Jerusalem during the time of festal observances. Sojourners came from all over the known world, worshippers speaking many tongues and dialects, all longing to experience at least one feast in the land of their forefathers. This was the hope of every God-fearing Jew living in the diaspora, the adopted lands of those who had been displaced by persecution and migration through the centuries.
God required every adult male living within reasonable proximity to the Temple to attend the three primary Feasts of the Lord: Passover (Pesach), Pentecost (Shavuot) and Tabernacles (Sukkoth: Ex 23:14-17; Deut 16:16). The men were assured of God’s protection over their households, crops, and herds during their absence from home. Divine blessings and curses were afforded to each man’s according to his obedience or disobedience to the divine mandate.
Villagers made their way through the narrow rutted paths in the countryside that merged with other roads, swarming with eager pilgrims, all making their way up to Jerusalem to celebrate the great feast. The crowds swelled with enthusiasm and numbers as the people neared the Holy City. Excitement was in the air as relatives and old friends gathered together for the first time since the previous feast. Singing and rejoicing was heard throughout the land as men, women, and children came bearing gifts for the Lord. Even the animals participated in the festal event. Some were decorated for the occasion. Many innocent creatures were destined to be sacrificial offerings, a prophetic symbol of the pure, unblemished Lamb of God, who would one day be sacrificed for the sins of the world (John 3:16). “Next Year in Jerusalem” was the cry of those who could not attend the feasts in the Holy City. May it also be the cry of our hearts today. Chag Sameach! (Happy Feast!)