God's Festivals: The Biblical Holy Days

Passover

(Pesah)

Feast of Unleavened Bread

(Hag HaMatzah)

Feast of Firstfruits  

(Bikkurim)

Pentecost

(Shavuot)

Feast of Trumpets

(Rosh HaShanah)

Day of Atonement

(Yom Kippur)

Feast of Tabernacles

(Sukkot)

Purim/ Shushan Purim

Tisha B'Av

Shemini Atzeret/ Simchat Torah  

Hanukkah

 

 

Introduction

 

From the beginning of creation God instituted the daily, weekly, monthly and yearly cycles that separate the four seasons of the earth (Genesis 1:14-16).  This was accomplished through the continual movement of the moon around Planet Earth and the movement of the planet around the sun.

 

This cycle of time that divides spring, summer, autumn and winter also unites the seasons in a beautiful orchestrated production of God's creative marvel.  From the new life of spring's budding plants and the beautiful blooms of summer to the palette of fall colors which paint the landscape and the chill of winter with her glistening blanket, all these periods reveal a Divine epoch blueprint.  The four repetitive seasons no doubt build within mankind a sense of stability as the globe rotates in precision and each season gives way to the next right on schedule. 

 

Our Maker has united the earth and sea with atoms and organisms into one well-balanced cycle of life which sustains countless living creatures in an incredibly complex arrangement--all dependent upon one another.  For this reason, the unseen God can be clearly witnessed in the marvelous revelation of nature's evidence so that each of us are without excuse for having ignored and sinned against Him (Romans 1:20).  Added to this evidence, the same Designer has fashioned spiritual and prophetic mysteries, which predict future events.  The future events are tied to God's annual appointed times as recorded in the Word of God (Leviticus 23), which also prove He is indeed the Supreme God whose wisdom surpasses all human intellect, even the foretelling of future events and personalities.

 

 

Egyptian Slaves Free To Rest

 

When the Holy One of Israel delivered the Israelites from their Egyptian slavery at the great Exodus nearly 3500 years ago, God guided them to the foot of Mount Sinai.  There the Messenger of the Covenant (Angel of the Lord-- Acts 7:30-38; Deuteronomy 33:2) revealed to Moses and the people of Israel the Everlasting Covenant which He had promised to Abraham and his descendants (Genesis 17:7).  Deuteronomy 4:13 says, "He [the Angel] declared to you His Covenant, the Ten Commandments, which He commanded you to follow and then wrote them on two stone tablets" (Exodus 20:1-17).

 

Leviticus 23 introduces God's people, their descendants and Gentile converts to the annual Feasts of the Lord.  In verse 3 the Israelites were reminded of the seventh-day Sabbath which Christ had given to all of mankind as a day of rest the first week of creation (Genesis 2:2-3); for it was Jesus Himself who created all things (John 1:1-3; Hebrews 1:2; Col. 1:15-16) and why He clarified His intent and claimed for Himself ownership of the Sabbath during His earthly ministry (Mark 2:27-28).  Now that they were freed from painstaking, around-the-clock slavery to Egypt's elite, the re-introduction of a rest day was freely offered to the great multitude.  No longer would they be forced to work seven days a week. 

 

The reason our earth's population cycles on a week of seven days is that Yeshua Himself instituted the seventh day at creation.  A seven day week does not correlate to the movements of the planets or a Biblical month of 30 days.  Five (5) weeks of six (6) days (30 days) would have better fit the original monthly cycle; nonetheless, God saw man's need of rest, and therefore freely offered one additional day per week--the seventh day--as a gift to anyone who would take Him up on this arrangement.  

 

The extra day (seventh day) comes every week when all unnecessary work can be set aside, without reservation, for rest and worship of our Creator, who granted us this privilege.  The fact that every single person on Planet Earth lives, breaths and works by the seven day week cycle is an acknowledgement that we exist not by accident, but by a creative Designer.  Time itself, and segments of time, is a gift enacted by Almighty God through His Son, and with purpose that His Son would be glorified at the end of time.  Today, when we work on the seventh day or take these holy hours for granted as time we could set apart in worship of God, we neglect the opportunity for physical and spiritual rest.  Paul eloquently wrote, "There remains, then, a Sabbath-rest for the people of God; for anyone who enters God's rest also rests from his own work, just as God did from His," Hebrews 4:9-10.  If mankind had always kept the Sabbath from the first week of creation, there would be less pursuit of material gain and greater worship of the True God, our Creator.

 

At Mt. Sinai, the children of Israel agreed to follow God's divine precepts and, in return, Yahweh promised His blessings.  Even today, Judaism holds the Decalogue (Ten Commandments) to be the centerpiece of their Covenantal relationship with the Holy One of Israel.  Their encounter with God was a conversion from a pagan way of life, taught them during centuries of bondage, to a whole new way of living.  Hence, in addition to the seventh-day Sabbath each week, Almighty began to weave a thread through the fabric of time that would connect Israel's inception to her completion as a holy nation, and would preserve His people and plan through the centuries until the Messianic Age To Come.

 

 

The Appointed Feasts of the Lord

 

Today's annual calendar establishes twelve segments of time, divided into four seasons, to help us to know where we are in time and to plan ahead for life's events--to know when to work, play, worship and to celebrate anniversaries, birthdays and holidays.  Nevertheless, before printed calendars, the world's population used the rotation of earth and moon in relation to the sun to mark off time, and the first sliver of the new moon heralded a new month.  According to God's design, each day begins with the evening at sunset and ends the following day at sunset (Genesis 1:5); therefore, to this day many who observe the seventh-day Sabbath and/or Biblical holy days do so from "evening... until the following evening," Leviticus 23:32.  

 

Leviticus 23:4-22 introduces God's own set of annual holy days: the "appointed feasts, the sacred assemblies you are to proclaim at their appointed times"; or as the King James Version reads, "ye shall proclaim in their [spring and autumn] seasons."  God designed His religious year to began in the spring (around March/April) with the Passover (Pesah) evening meal (called the "seder") prepared before sunset on the fourteenth day of the first month.  As the sun drops in the west the fifteenth day begins, and God commanded the Feast of Unleavened Bread be observed with no eating of bread made with yeast.  During this week of celebration, the Feast of Firstfruits also occurred.  The Israelites assembled at the Temple to bring in the first grains of the harvest as an offering of thanksgiving to Yahweh.  This day begins the counting of seven weeks of seven days (49 days), that leads to Pentecost (Shavuot), or Feast of Weeks on day fifty (50).  Pentecost falls in late May or early June of each calendar year.

 

After the summer months, the fall observances arrive as described in Leviticus 23:23-44.  God established the Feast of Trumpets (Rosh HaShanah)---the day of rest and assembly, which falls on the first day of the seventh month (around September/October).  From Rosh HaShanah, the ten (10) Days of Repentance lead up to the Day of Atonement (Yom Kippur)--a day of final penitence and the most solemn day of the religious calendar.  Yom Kippur ends a long period of self-examination of one's standing before Heaven, expressed in the symbolism of God closing the gates of Heaven and cutting off all who remain unrepentant.  Five days later the Feast of Tabernacles (Sukkot) arrives, initiating an eight day period of celebration and festivities.  God instructed His people to build leafy booths in the fields and reside in them for several days, teaching that this planet is only a temporary dwelling on our way to the ultimate wedding and the New Jerusalem--and God's eternal kingdom.  Although these feasts were once centered around Temple rites and ceremonies, many dispersed Jews (and Gentiles) today still assemble and observe the annual holy days around the globe in honor of God's instruction.

 

In addition to the spring and autumn feast days, Zechariah 8:19 relates four fasts of mourning.  These four annual days represent tragedies in the history of Israel, and Jewry anticipates that future calamities might follow this pattern.  Of great concern is the most solemn period called the Three Weeks which begin on the seventh day of Tammuz (fast of the fourth month) and ends on the ninth day of Av (fast of the fifth month)-- on a critical July or August holy day called Tisha Be-Av.  Judaism teaches that both Temples in Jerusalem were destroyed on this day (586 B.C. and 70 A.D.).

 

 

Why Should Gentiles Care?

 

Jew and Gentile alike can learn much needed insight into God's final plan for mankind by opening our minds to understanding God's Festivals and holy days, and how they relate to the last days.  The Sacred Word was written by Hebrew men called by God, and through these prophets Almighty God first announced the future "Day of the Lord."  Only when prophetic truths are built upon this historical foundation will Heaven's end-time plan, which leads up to the Day of the Lord, be better understood.

Information for your year-end tasks.