The Feasts of God Part 1 - Passover
In two weeks we will celebrate the resurrection of Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior. The Easter Holiday as it is customarily called now. I like using the term Passover. In early times that was the term used to celebrate and remember the resurrected Christ.
What I would like to begin tonight is a three-week message about Jesus as Palm Sunday is upon us, Resurrection Sunday for a better word next Sunday, looking forward to Pentecost Sunday.
All primarily looking at Jesus from a Jewish perspective. Looking at Jesus through the feasts that many of the Jews still participate in today, by many whom still do not see Jesus as their Messiah.
I am taking my study from the Old Testament, Genesis – Deuteronomy, and from a book written by Dr. Richard Booker named “Celebrating Jesus in the Biblical Feasts.”
A read that I saw that detailed easily what God used in the feasts to “show” His chosen people through the ages who the coming Messiah would be. Because God’s feasts were the ultimate visual aid for the people to recognize the coming Messiah. And as Booker would say, “The Hebrew scriptures provided the pictures, the New Testament provided the person of Jesus Christ.”
And Jesus said inMatthew 5:17-18, “Do not think that I have come to destroy the Law or the Prophets.
I have not come to destroy but to fulfill. 18 For truly I say to you, Till the heaven and the earth pass away, not one jot or one tittle shall in any way pass from the Law until all is fulfilled.
The birth, death and resurrection of Christ nailed it concerning the prophetic scriptures from the Old Testament about him, as well as through the feasts that the Jewish people participate in even today.
The Jewish Calendars
Before I get into the feasts, I want to set it up, and to set it up we have to look at the Jewish calendars. The calendars help line up the feasts. Because the feasts established by God as you can imagine, followed a timeline that He set. These were the “Feasts of God.” He had a divine purpose for all them.
These feasts as stated in Leviticus 23:4,“arethe appointed feasts of Jehovah, holy convocations which you shall proclaim in their appointed seasons.” Appointed seasons meaning specific dates. They were sacred assemblies, or holy large gatherings.
The Hebrew word for convocation is mikrah, it means “dress rehearsal.” So the Jews would act out through these festivals, or sacred gatherings, for the purpose of revealing the future Messiah. It was a dress rehearsal for the time that Jesus would actually be alive on the earth to fulfill the Word of God.
So for ~ 1,500 years, the Jewish people would act out this drama as you could call it pointing to the true Messiah, Jesus Christ. Accepted by some of His own, but shunned by most even through the ages.
The three main feast periods that God appointed the Jews to follow that were scheduled on their Hebrew Calendar was the Unleavened Bread (3 feasts in one time period), Pentecost, and Tabernacles (booths). They represented the three major encounters the people would have with God.
Those encounters would be His supernatural peace, His supernatural power, and His supernatural rest. Taken together in succession, they would represent steps in a believers walk with God.
To start this, you have to understand the Jewish calendar first.
The Jewish calendar is based on a Lunar calendar that follows the movement of the moon.
Days on this calendar begin at sundown ~ 6pm and last for 24 hours. God created this calendar with Moses. The Gregorian calendar that we use was created in 1582 by Pope Gregory the 13th. It is solar calendar and operates on the principle of the earth rotating around the sun. It also has a 24-hour day. The differences between the calendars is that the earth rotates 365 ¼ days with the Gregorian, that’s why we do a leap day on February 29thto correct it every four years, but the Jewish lunar calendar is only 354 days on its 12-month calendar, so every three years a 29.5-day month is added.
The days and the months on Jewish Calendar are set because God fixed the seasons, and times the Jews were to participate in their feasts. Also note that the Hebrews have two calendars.
One that is sacred, based on when God delivered them out of Egypt, and a Civil Calendar based on their agriculture season.
The feasts seasons are important as they coincide with certain harvests.
The Main Feasts and Feast Seasons
I am going to give a quick summary of the main feast seasons, and as I go along I will get into more detail.
Feast of the Unleavened Bread (Actually 3 different feasts within the period)
First feast season is Unleavened Bread. It lasts 7 days in Israel, and now, 8 days outside Israel. It is the first feast represented on the sacred calendar in the Month of Nisan, during our months of March & April. Nisan is the first month of the sacred calendar. Unleavened Bread is celebrated during the Barley Harvest. There are actually three feasts in the feast period. Passover, Feast of the Unleavened Bread, and Feast of First Fruits.
For the Jewish people in summary, this feast season showed them how to know God and walk with Him which gave them peace.
For the Christian believer, we encounter God through His Son Jesus Christ through confession and the forgiveness of sin through repentance.
The result is, we have peace with God as well as us receiving His peace.
Jesus says from John14:27, “Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.“
Because of our Salvation, being saved, we have peace through Jesus, similar to the Passover, the 1stFeast where the blood of a lamb on the door posts kept the Hebrews safe from the Angel of Death while in Egypt before their freedom from their oppressors.
Feast of Pentecost
Next main feast season is the Feast of Pentecost. It is where God would encounter His people with His power.
Once we have peace with God, we can experience His power. Pentecost was celebrated during the wheat harvest in the Jewish month of Sivan during our May-June months.
We are well aware of Acts 1, where Jesus told His disciples to wait to be baptized with the Holy Spirit, and on the Day of Pentecost the Holy Spirit was poured out just as Jesus said in “Acts 1:8, “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you,”
Feast of Tabernacles
And lastly the next large feast, is the Feast of Tabernacles also known as the Feast of Booths, but also known as the Feast of the Ingathering.
It is celebrated at the end of the growing season and the beginning of the new. There is so much meaning there that we will get into later.
The Feast of Tabernacles is celebrated during the month of Tishri, during our September & October months.
This was God’s third and last encounter in the lives of His people. It was where we would find His divine rest for our soul.
This festival pictures the Millennium Kingdom of Jesus Christ.
The Feast of Passover, as well as Pentecost have been fulfilled in Jesus Christ, the Feast of Tabernacles has not. Its Fulfilment will be in the future.
So you have God’s peace first, then God’s power second, and God’s rest third. So these sacred days and feasts help us understand God’s plan of the redemption and salvation through Jesus Christ that we will get into.
Let’s begin by looking at Passover. The Passover was to be a memorial to the Hebrew’s deliverance out of Egypt from Exodus 12.
This deliverance happened during the month of Nisan and represented God’s first encounter in mass to His people in whom He had a covenant.
Actually, in Exodus 12:2, God said to Moses, “This month shall be to you, the beginning of months. It shall be the first month of the year to you.” So you can say, this is where the Hebrew calendar begins even though Jewish Rabbis have taken it back to earlier years of their existence.
So we have God choosing Moses to be used to bring deliverance to His people, and we know from the scriptures that God sent 10 plagues on Egypt to accomplish the task. God gave Pharaoh every chance to release the Hebrews, but Pharaoh was bull headed and refused, so God left the baddest plague to be the last. The last plague called for the death of the firstborn of Egypt. Man and animal.
Exodus11:4-6, “And Moses said, Thus says Jehovah: About midnight I will go out into the midst of Egypt. 5 And all the first-born in the land of Egypt shall die, from the first-born of Pharaoh that sits upon his throne, even to the first-born of the slave-girl that isbehind the mill; also the first-born of beasts. 6 And there shall be a great cry throughout all the land of Egypt, such as there was none like it, nor shall be like it any more.”
But for the Hebrews, God gave instructions, specific instructions how to be saved from this plague. We read this in Exodus 12:1-14, 43-48. I am going to read it in summary and paraphrase. Please turn to it if you wish. God is speaking to Moses and says:
Exodus12:3,” Speak to all the congregation of Israel, saying, In the tenth day of this month they shall take to them each man a lamb, a lamb for a house.”
Exo 12:5, “Thelamb shall be without spot or blemish.” For their thought, perfect.
Exo 12:6,“You shall keep it up until the fourteenth day of the same month.”Which is 5 days. They are to view it. Observe it. Make sure there is nothing wrong with it, because no fault can be found in the lamb. If there is fault, it is not a worthy sacrifice.
6 cont. “And the whole assembly of the congregation of Israel shall kill it in the evening. 7 And they shall take someof the blood and strike on the two side posts and upon the upper door post of the houses inwhich they shall eat it.”
What they were to do was kill the lamb at the doorstep. They would catch the blood in a bowl at the foot of the doorstep, then sprinkle or spread blood in the entire entrance of the door way. This was done in the evening on the 14thof Nisan at twilight. The Hebrews killed the lamb at 3pm on the 14th, in order to eat it by 6pm which would start a new day.
The lamb was to be cooked on a spit shaped like a crossbar, so its body could be spread open. The whole lamb was to be consumed, and none of its bones could be broken.
The family went inside before the blood covering and couldn’t see it, but they had faith in God that He would save them. They were saved by grace through faith in the blood of the lamb that had been slain for them which they could not see.
As we know, when the people were inside as they ate the meal, the Angel of Death passed through the land of Egypt, and the Hebrews whose doorposts were covered, the first born were saved. The entrances of the blood stained homes could not be entered, so the Angel passed over them.
If blood was not on the entrance, judgement came, and the first-born would die.
God saved His people from death by the blood of the lamb. So the lamb became their covering and protection.
So in Exodus 12:43, when the Exodus from Egypt began, God instituted the Passover, and He said the entire congregation shall keep it. Looking back in Exodus 12, we read what God says to Moses about the Passover.
Exo 12:24 “And you shall observe this thing for a law to you and to your sons forever.
Exo 12:25 And it shall be, when you have come to the land which Jehovah will give you, according as He has promised, that you shall keep this service.
Exo 12:26 And it will be, when your sons shall say to you, What is this service to you?
Exo 12:27 Then you shall say, It isthe sacrifice of Jehovah's passover, who passed over the houses of the sons of Israel in Egypt, when He struck the Egyptians and delivered our houses.”
So as a law, an ordinance for the Jews, this feast has been honored by the people as a lasting tradition.
It can be noted that in Exodus 12:48, God instructs that no uncircumcised person could participate in Passover that I thought was interesting.
Exodus 12:48,”And when a stranger shall stay with you, and desires to keep the Passover to Jehovah, let all his males be circumcised, and then let him come near and keep it. And he shall be as one that is born in the land. And no uncircumcised person shall eat of it.”
Circumcision was the outward appearance that a man had made covenant with God. If a Gentile, basically all non-Jews, came to accept God, He would have to be circumcised. After circumcision, he would be considered as one “born from the land”. He would inherit all of the promises God made to Abraham and could inherit all the blessings of the Jewish people.
Just as those who did not know Jesus as our Savior, as believers would be grafted into the vine as well and we would receive all of the promises and blessings. We read that in Romans chapter 11. We now have a circumcision of the heart, and are accepted in inheriting all of the promises of God through Jesus Christ.
So as we move along, we can see that the Passover represented the future Christ. Jesus the Son of God. That we who believe will be saved from the judgement of God.
For 1500 years, the Jewish people celebrated the Feast of Passover. They knew about lambs. But the blood of their unblemished lambs could only cover their sins.
It did not remove them. God in his mercy spoke to the people through His Prophets that one day, the human lamb would come and deal with their problem of sin and death once and for all.
The Prophet Isaiah in Isaiah Chapter 53 said this human lamb would suffer for us, and be our sacrifice.
Isaiah,”53:5, “But He waswounded for our transgressions; He wasbruised for our iniquities; the chastisement of our peace wason Him; and with His stripes we ourselves are healed. 6 All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned, each one to his own way; and Jehovah has laid on Him the iniquity of us all. 7 He was oppressed, and He was afflicted; yet He opened not His mouth. He is brought as a lamb to the slaughter; and as a sheep before its shearers is dumb, so He opened not His mouth.”
Yes, our Jesus. The Jesus that John the Baptist would call “Lamb of God!”
Jesus fulfilled the Feast of Passover in His crucifixion. He was born, predestined to fulfill exactly what God instructed the Jews to practice for 1500 years.
What Jesus did during His ministry up to the time of His death aligned Him with the events of Passover. In this way the Jewish people should understand who He was and what He was doing. They had seen the picture before over and over again.
“Jesus was set aside to be sacrificed like the lamb, examined like the lamb, then killed like the lamb on the exact day, the exact month, and even the exact hour that the Jews had had been handling their lambs for 1500 years.
Tomorrow is Palm Sunday. Palm Sunday is when Jesus rode on a colt into Jerusalem, knowing that He would die. He knew the dates and the times. He participated in the Passover His whole life.
John12:1, “Then, six days before the Passover, Jesus came to Bethany,” That was on the 9 day of Nisan.
John12:12,”On the next day, when they heard that Jesus was coming to Jerusalem, a great crowd who had come to the Feast 13 took branches of palm trees and went out to meet Him. And theycried, Hosanna! "Blessed isthe King of Israel who comes in thename oftheLord!"
So Jesus the human Lamb of God rode into Jerusalem, on the 10thof Nisan. Remember
Exo 12:3 Speak to all the congregation of Israel, saying, In the tenth day of this month they shall take to them each man a lamb, a lamb for a house.
Exo 12:5 The lambshall be without spot or blemish.
Exo 12:6 You shall keep it up until the fourteenth day of the same month.
The Jewish Leaders tested Jesus for 5 days. Jesus was found faultless. Even Pilate, the Roman Prefect or Governor of Judea said at Jesus trial:
John19:4,“Then Pilate went out again and said to them, Behold, I bring him out to you so that you may know that I find no fault in him. “
Jesus was sinless, blameless, and faultless. The perfect Lamb of God.
Just think, during this time, it was Passover, and the Jews with their Jewish leaders who wanted to kill Jesus were at the same time, preparing their lambs for sacrifice and they just couldn’t see what was taking place before their eyes. They could not see what they had practiced for 1500 years was unfolding before their eyes with Jesus right in front of them.
Yes, Jesus, our Jesus. The Son of God, who allows his followers to participate heaven. Who shows us love that we can have that is beyond anything we can comprehend in ourselves. That a relationship with His Father through Him can change us indefinitely. Forever. If the Jews could only see that.
And it is sad, because those Jewish leaders who were to crucify Jesus in effect condemned generations with their unbelief.
I am thankful that some of my family turned to Christ 100’s of years ago and believed that He was the Lamb of God. Some were Jews, so I imagine they participated in the Passover Feast in Europe, but they believed and converted to Christianity in Spain, and in Germany.
But we have so many others today, Jew and non-Jew who don’t know Jesus. They have been condemned by those before them who may have known Christ, but walked from their belief in Him. There may not be a Passover that they can participate in to possibly see Jesus, but they have us.
Can people see Jesus in you? Can they see them in me? Can the picture of our life allow people to see Jesus? Just a thought to end this 1stpart of 3 messages tonight. God used the feast as a picture for His people, and now He uses us as the picture through Jesus. Let us chew in that.
Next week will be part two of the Passover. Hope you are here to hear it as we celebrate the Resurrection of Jesus Christ, and we will also be having Communion.