Leviticus 23:1-44 outlines the seven Jewish annual feasts that happened during the first to the seventh months. The first four: Passover, Unleavened Bread, First-fruits and Pentecost took place in the spring. Trumpets, Day of Atonement and Tabernacles took place in the fall, all in the seventh month. Three feasts among the seven: Passover, Pentecost, and Tabernacles were pilgrimage feasts, where all males from 20 years upwards traveled to Jerusalem to appear before God annually. These holy days marked important events in Israel. This article places these sacred days in the New Testament, which is the reality of Old Testament shadows.
Colossians 2:16 states that these holy days and ordinances were not the reality; rather they were shadows of things to come. The shadows of the Old Testament became reality and substance when Jesus came. An understanding of the fulfillment of these figures is important to the believer so that they can live in reality instead of shadows.
This first feast took place on the 14th day of the first month, during which families slew a lamb and ate it up. This day commemorated deliverance from the land of bondage in Egypt. The anti-type of this was Jesus dying on the cross as the sacrificial lamb for humanity. Jesus died to deliver humanity from the bondage of sin. He was the perfect sacrifice that takes away since forever. Indeed, as he lay dying he said it was finished- John 19:30. His sacrificial death settled the question of bondage to sin for eternity.
This started on the 15th of the first month, and continued for seven days. It happened in the same period as the Passover, although the latter took only one day. During this period, the children of Israel ate unleavened bread. In the New Testament, this stands for eating the bread of life, which is Christ in John chapter 6:35-58. Leaven stands for sin, (2nd Corinthians 5:7-8) and the Christian ought to live a life free of sin. The seven days stand for the seven periods of the New Testament church, from Ephesians to Laodicea. Another meaning of this festival is the fact that the body of Jesus never experienced corruption (leaven) even in death.
This was the presentation of a sheaf of the first barley harvest as a wave offering. The children of Israel also offered both a burnt and grain offering. Israel observed the redemption of the first-born in Egypt as well as blessings in the land of promise. The New Testament anti-type of this is the resurrection of Christ from the dead as the first one to do so. First Corinthians 15:20 states that Christ rose as the first-fruits of those that slept.
Weeks or Pentecost
Seven Sabbaths after the first-fruits came this holy day of weeks or Pentecost. It was a commemoration of the giving of the law 50 days after leaving Egypt through the Red Sea. During this sacred day, Israel offered two loaves. Pentecost was also a harvest of latter grain. In the New Testament, it was the baptism of the Holy Spirit on the 50th day since the resurrection of Jesus. The church came into the new birth, which made them heirs of the promise. Weeks was the last of the spring sacred days. It took place in the third month.
On the first day of the seventh month, Israel had a memorial of blowing of trumpets. During this time, God forbid them to do any work and he required an offering made by fire. In the New Testament, trumpets are for gathering the tribes of Israel from Diaspora to go back home to receive the Messiah and salvation. The nation was scattered world over when Roman general Titus led the siege of Jerusalem in AD 70. God was chastising Israel for rejecting the savior as a nation. These trumpets take the form of world wars. The First World War captured Jerusalem from the Turks, and the second drove Israel back to their land. They are now awaiting Messiah after the rapture of the church.
Day of Atonement
This day fell on the 10th day of the seventh month. It was a day of rest and afflicting their souls. It was on this day that the high priest would enter the holiest place in the tabernacle to atone for sins of the nation for the previous year. He entered with blood to offer it before the LORD’S presence on the mercy seat. In the current dispensation, elect Israel; 144000, will recognize the Messiah, and receive their salvation. In Romans 11:25-27, national Israel had been blind during the church age to open the door for Gentile salvation. After the Gentile church raptures, God activates again his covenant with the Hebrew nation. This will be in the great tribulation, under the seventh trumpet, and two prophets with the Spirit of Moses and Elijah (Revelation 11:3) will preach salvation to the children of Israel.
It is instructive that there is no hint of the rapture of the Gentile church in these holy days; this is because God planned it to be a secret. Jesus said he would come like a thief to catch away the ready individuals.
The Day of Atonement, the final feast commenced on the 15th day of the seventh month to the 22nd. It was a time of rejoicing for the fruit harvest. The children of Israel made booths to live in for seven days, as they thanked God for the productivity of the land. With this, the year’s harvest closed. In the New Testament, this will be the millennial reign of Christ together with his redeemed. During the millennium, harvest of souls is over, and it is a rest time before the general resurrection, final judgment and the new city.
The seven Jewish feasts are a shadow of the plan of redemption for both Israel and Gentiles in the New Testament. With this knowledge, believers will not live in the shadow but in reality. In the New Testament era, the anti-types of the feasts run from Calvary, through the church age, millennial reign of Christ and blend with eternity.