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“Cleanse out the old leaven that you may be a new lump, as you really are unleavened. For Christ, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed.”1 Corinthians 5:7
As we enter the last few days before Resurrection Sunday (Easter), I wanted to talk a little about another celebration happening this week. Passover is the first of seven feasts celebrated in the Jewish calendar. Some refer to these feasts as Jewish feasts but they were really set by God as mo’ed or appointed times where He would meet with the people of Israel (Lev 23: 1-2). God is throwing the feast and He is inviting the people of Israel to come away from all the busyness and cares of life and spent time with Him.
As Christians, are we obligated to celebrate these feasts? No. Is it important to know about them? Yes, I think so. In my journey to know Jesus more intimately, I discovered that I wanted to know more about who He was when He was here on earth. As a Jewish man, Jesus celebrated these feasts with the rest of Israel. But not only that, these feasts represent His first and second comings. They represent His death, resurrection, the coming of the Holy Spirit, the rapture of the church, and His second coming. Jesus fulfilled the first four feasts and is expected to fulfill the last three at His second coming. I believe that as Christians, understanding God’s feasts can help us get to know Jesus more intimately.
What we refer to as Passover is actually 3 festivals: Passover, the Feast of Unleavened Bread, and the Feast of First Fruits. These are also known as the spring feasts. Passover is the celebration of Israel’s exodus from Egypt after 430 years of slavery and is celebrated in Nisan, the first month of the Jewish calendar. When God sent the last of 10 plagues to kill the firstborn of Egypt, He commanded the Israelites to slaughter a lamb and apply its blood on their doorposts. This allowed the angel of death to “pass over” as he went through Egypt to strike down their firstborn sons.
Jesus was crucified as the Passover Lambs we being slaughtered for the Passover meal. The meal would be eaten at twilight after sundown (Exodus 12:18). Just like the first Passover, where the blood of the lambs protected the Israelites from the angel of death, Jesus’ blood covers our sins and rescues us from death.
The Feast of Unleavened bread is a 7-day feast that begins with Passover. The first and the last days of this feast are Sabbaths. During the 7 days, no food made with yeast is eaten. This represents the fact that Jesus was without sin. His body did not decay in the grave (the effects of sin) and He is incorruptible.
The last of the spring feasts, the Feast of First Fruits, occurs on the 3rd day after Passover. During this feast, the Israelites would offer the first of the barley harvest as a thanksgiving. Jesus was resurrected on the Feast of First Fruits. He was the first to be raised from the dead eternally (others like Lazarus who were raised from the dead had to die again someday). Just as Father raised Him to life, we who have accepted Jesus as our Lord and Savior can trust that He will resurrect us too someday.
The other four feasts are Shavuot (Pentecost), and the fall feasts: Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur, and Sukkot (Feast of Tabernacles). If you want to learn more about these Celebrating Jesus in the Biblical Feasts by Dr. Richard Booker is a good place to start. A Prophetic Calendar: The Feasts of Israel by Jill Shannon and Redeeming the Time by Chuck Pierce, can also help you to understand how these feasts are a part of God’s calendar.
As I mentioned before, we’re not obligated to observe these feasts as defined in the Old Testament (they were given to the Jewish people) but we can choose to celebrate them as Holy Spirit leads. This year Passover starts on the evening of April 5 and ends on the evening of April 13 (Easter falls almost right in the middle, on April 9). I will be taking communion in my early morning quiet time with God and trying to reconnect with Him in new ways and with greater intimacy.
If you’re interested in learning more about God’s feasts or maybe you’d like to observe it in your own special way, just between you and Jesus, ask Holy Spirit to show you how.
Deborah Ruck @ As Bold As THE Lion blog