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Whatâs All This Remembering About Feasts In The Bible?

by Dr. Henderson Ward  
4/13/2017 / Christian Living


When God asks you to remember something, whatever your level of spiritual maturity, it must register on your conscious radar that He would do so only for good reasons. Would God ask you to remember something that was trivial and of no importance? Hardly. When righteous Lot was fleeing from the devastation taking place in Sodom and Gomorrah, his errant wife looked back and became a pillar of salt. This was a significant event and worthy of memorization, and so ordained in scripture thus:

 Remember Lot's wife.” (Luke 17:32)

There is an abiding danger, however caused, that the present generation, and indeed generations to come, forget the significant milestones of the past, and thereby nullify the achievements, endeavours, and travails of those who have passed this way, and how God has been central to their survival and accomplishments.

Europe today calls itself “post-Christian” as if Christianity is a worn garment that you can cast off after it has served its purpose. Sadly, this same attitude is seen in some non-European countries, and coupled with the spread of vicious atheism, believers need to look back and remember the important role God played in the preservation of humanity.

It is also important that we see how essential and interlinked are the Old and New Testaments of the Bible. Some believers think that the Old Testament has no relevance to Christianity and the Church Age, and they deem the Old Testament as nothing more than the Jewish Bible.

While it is true that the Old Testament is a Jewish document recording the dealings of God with the Jews, and detailing the beliefs and practices of Judaism their religion, it is also true that the Old Testament is a fore-runner of the New Testament and is the foundation on which is built a lot of Christian theology. And it stands staunchly as Holy Scripture for all time.

In addition, it’s true that the Old Testament saints (nearly all Jews) and the New Testament believers (nearly all Gentiles) are one people in Christ with a common heritage, as noted by Paul in Romans 3:29-30. Hence, when God asks us to remember something that pertains to the one, it must of necessity have some relevance to the other.

The biblical feasts and festivals should be remembered, above all, because God  instructed the Jews to keep them in mind, but also for their significance, “And the Lord spake unto Moses, saying, Speak unto the children of Israel, and say unto them, Concerning the feasts of the Lord, which ye shall proclaim to be holy convocations, even these are my feasts.” (Leviticus 23:1-2)

Israel, like all countries, have different years. Here in Barbados, for example, we have the financial year that begins on 1st April, as well as the calendar (Gregorian) year that begins on Ist January. In Israel, each month begins with the new moon, and the first month of the new year, Nisan, is in the Gregorian calendar month of March or early April. Israel’s 12 month calendar is as follows:

  1. 1. Nisan, 30 days – 2. Iyar, 29 days – 3. Sivan, 30 days – 4. Tammuz, 29 days – 5. Av, 30 days – 6. Elul, 29 days – 7. Tishrei, 30 days – 8. Marcheshvan (or Cheshvan), 29/30 days – 9. Kislev, 30/29 days – 10. Tevet, 29 days – 11. Shevat, 30 days – 12. Adar, 29 days.

In the Bible, Israel had seven feasts, or festivals, that they were to keep throughout their generations. They added several others after independence in 1948, but the seven biblical ones are as follows in calendar order:

  1. Passover, Exodus 12:13-14
  2. Unleavened Bread, Exodus 23:15
  3. Firstfruits, Leviticus 23:13-14
  4. The Feast of Weeks (Pentecost), Leviticus 23:16-21
  5. The Feast of Trumpets, Numbers 29:1
  6. The Day of Atonement, Leviticus 23:26-32
  7. The Feast of Booths (Tabernacles or Ingathering). Leviticus 23:39-41

The Passover is perhaps the most wellknown of the biblical feast, and it commemorates the time when the firstborn of the Egyptian household was killed and the Israelites spared. The Israelites were instructed to kill a lamb and spread its blood across the door posts and lintel, and when the death angel passed, it would pass over the Israelites, sparing their firstborn. The full details of the event are recorded in Exodus 12:1-14.

Why does the Passover matter to believers?

The Passover is the most important festival to believers because the Lord’s Supper, (that we take regularly as the Holy Communion), was a Passover meal. Remember what Paul said regarding this, “For as often as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye do shew the Lord's death till he come.” (1 Corinthians 11:25). When Jesus passed the bread to his disciples and told them that it was his body, and that they should eat it, Jesus was portraying himself as the Passover lamb, and Paul acknowledged it, “Purge out therefore the old leaven, that ye may be a new lump, as ye are unleavened. For even Christ our passover is sacrificed for us.” (1 Corinthians 5:7)

The Feast of Unleavened Bread was the event when the Israelites were instructed to eat bread without yeast, illustrating the hasty preparation they made to depart from Egypt. The Feast of Unleavened Bread lasted for one week and followed immediately after the Passover. The full details of this event are recorded in Exodus 12:15-20.

Why does the Feast of Unleavened Bread matter to believers?

In Matthew 16:6-12, Jesus described the Pharisees as hypocrites, and their teaching as yeast. He warned his disciples to, “Take heed and beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and of the Sadducees.” (Matthew 16:6) In the New Testament , yeast is often associated with evil, and Paul said, “A little leaven leaveneth the whole lump.” (Galatians 5:9) Since believers are to purge themselves of evil (1 Corinthians 7:1) and to present their bodies as a living sacrifice unto God (Romans 12:1), it is apt to remember both the origins of this feast and its application by Jesus.

The Offering of Firstfruits was a festival that took place at the beginning of the harvest and commemorated Israel's gratitude to and dependence on God. In fact, Israel brought first fruits to God at various times of the year, depending on the specific crop that was harvested, but the Offering of Firstfruits, detailed in Leviticus 23:9-14, occurred in combination with the Feast of Unleavened Bread, and focused on the barley harvest. The full details of this event are recorded in Leviticus 23:9-14.

Why does the Offering of Firstfruits matter to believers? 

Many churches throughout the world still engage in this Old Testament festival, the Harvest Festival, because all life on earth depends on crops of every variety to exists, and believers show their gratitude to and dependence on God. Some regard this festival as symbolic of the resurrection of Christ, “But now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the firstfruits of them that slept.” (1 Corinthians 15:20)

In addition to these three, they are four other feasts that were to be remembered. The Feast of Weeks (Pentecost) that celebrated the grain harvest, and the day Christians celebrate the arrival of the Holy Spirit; the Feast of Trumpets as stated in Numbers 29:1, was a celebration at the end of the agricultural year, and which Christians associate with the end of the age and trumpet blowing (Matthew 24:31, 1 Thessalonians 4:16); the Day of Atonement was concerned with atoning for the sins of the people, and which Christians associate with the sacrificial death of Christ on Good Friday (or Jesus’ Second Advent); the Feast of Booths (or tabernacles or Ingathering) was concerned with living in huts made from palm fronds to recall the sojourn of the Israelites in the wilderness before entering the land of Canaan, and which Christians associate with the start of the Millennium (and Christ living among us).

All these feasts were related to the spiritual life of the people. When God asks us to remember, he is not asking us to do a trip down memory lane for sentimental reasons, but for practical reasons related to our spirituality. In the most significant cases that God asks us to remember, he wants us to do something, to act, to take steps in a certain direction, to follow a course of action to uplift, invigorate and strengthen us in the faith. Here are three examples:

Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy.” (Exodus 20:8). The world has gone mad in disrespecting and disregarding the sabbath day, and everywhere you can see how Sunday, for them, is just another day. Alas, some believers follow the example of the world, and engage in a number of unimportant things, things they could easily do on other days, and forget that God says to keep the sabbath holy. Believers need to remember, and act, “To such as keep his covenant, and to those that remember his commandments to do them.” (Psalm 103:18)

Remember therefore from whence thou art fallen, and repent, and do the first works; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will remove thy candlestick out of his place, except thou repent.” (Revelation 2:5). This is not only true for the Ephesians, who had left their first love, but for all believers who have fallen away, regressed, or relinquish their enthusiasm and passion for the things of God and of Jesus. Get back to where you once were, is the call here for believers to remember.

 Remember therefore how thou hast received and heard, and hold fast, and repent. If therefore thou shalt not watch, I will come on thee as a thief, and thou shalt not know what hour I will come upon thee.” (Revelation 3:3) The Sardisians had gotten sloppy, and it was badly affecting their spirituality. Believers today can get sloppy too, not being watchful and attentive, and being vulnerable to calamity if God puts in his appearance.

God loves his children, and so prompts them to remember things – for their own good.

Enough said.

Books by this author you may wish to read.

THINGS EVERY CHRISTIAN SHOULD KNOW (e-book)
Volume 1 – Five tough facts to be faced
http://www.amazon.com/dp/B004YX5NSI

STAND UP TO THE DEVIL  (e-book)
Volume 1 – You must first identify him
http://www.amazon.com/dp/B005BQVLSS

BASTARD: A STORY OF REDEMPTION(e-book fiction)
http://www.amazon.com/dp/B006OF3SD6

ONE MINUTE TO MIDNIGHT ON GOD’S CLOCK (Hard copy)
http://www.amazon.com/dp/B002X78D16

ONE MINUTE TO MIDNIGHT ON GOD’S CLOCK (e-book)

http://tatepublishing.com/bookstore/book.php?w=978-1-60799-630-9

Dr. Henderson Ward received his Doctor of Divinity in theology, with distinction, from Masters International School of Divinity, USA, where he is currently a post-doctoral fellow. Dr. Ward's career involved pastoring, evangelism, and teaching. Copyright 2017

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