People of all nations of the world celebrate national and religious holidays. Some holidays commemorate important events in the history of their nations. Other holidays connect to their religions. But humans have created each of these holidays. God’s holidays are different. God created His own holidays for the expressed purpose of communing with His people. Each of His holidays celebrates a living relationship between God and His chosen nation, Israel. God ordained seven holidays—termed holy convocations in the Scripture. God introduced these holidays and gave instructions for their celebration in the book of Leviticus. God gave these feast days to Israel as His covenant nation. These feasts are part of the conditional Mosaic covenant—God’s Law. God commanded His people to celebrate these feasts. Disobedience was tantamount to breaking God’s law and inviting His curses upon their lives. Israel was bound to the Mosaic covenant. God’s blessings follow obedience. God’s curses follow disobedience.
These are the feasts of the LORD, even holy convocations, which ye shall proclaim in their seasons (Leviticus 23: 4).
God’s holidays are called ‘feasts of the Lord’. The Hebrew term feast means ‘an appointed time’. It is not all about food. It primarily describes a time and a meeting, which God calls a holy convocation. Holy means ‘set apart by God.’ God separated His people from the rest of the world in a special relationship. He celebrated that unique relationship in these feasts. God met His people at these holy convocations. He lists them in chronological order in chapter 23 of Leviticus:
In the fourteenth day of the first month at evening is the Lord’s Passover (Leviticus 23: 5).
Feast of Unleavened Bread:
And on the fifteenth day of the same month is the Feast of unleavened bread unto the LORD: seven days ye must eat unleavened bread (Leviticus 23: 6).
Feast of First Fruits:
Speak unto the children of Israel, and say unto them, “When ye be come into the land which I give unto you, and shall reap the harvest thereof, then ye shall bring a sheaf of the firstfruits of your harvest unto the priest” (Leviticus 23: 10).
Even unto the morrow after the seventh Sabbath shall ye number fifty days; and ye shall offer a new meat offering unto the LORD. Ye shall bring out of your habitations two wave loaves of two tenth deals; they shall be of fine flour; they shall be baken with leaven; they are the firstfruits unto the LORD (Leviticus 23: 16-17).
Feast of Trumpets:
Speak unto the children of Israel, saying, “In the seventh month, in the first day of the month, shall ye have a Sabbath, a memorial of blowing of trumpets, a holy convocation” (Leviticus 23: 24).
Day of Atonement:
Also on the tenth day of this seventh month there shall be a day of atonement: it shall be a holy convocation unto you; and ye shall afflict your souls, and offer an offering made by fire unto the LORD (Leviticus 23: 27).
Feast of Tabernacles:
Speak unto the children of Israel, saying, “The fifteenth day of this seventh month shall be the feast of tabernacles for seven days unto the LORD” (Leviticus 23: 34).
The Bible teaches God enjoys celebrations. Jesus participated in these feasts during His life and the Scripture records many of these instances. God’s feasts have roots in the past, are living celebrations in the present, and look forward prophetically into the future. Past, present, and future aspects of these holidays connect with the omnipotent God of eternity.
The feasts commemorate important events in the past history of the nation of Israel. The Passover and Feast of Unleavened Bread honor the deliverance of the nation from their Egyptian bondage. God’s miraculous deliverance proved His omnipotence and ever-lasting love for Israel. The Feast of Weeks, Pentecost, recalls God’s giving of the Law to Moses and His chosen people. The Feast of Tabernacles recalls the time God lived with His people in the wilderness for forty years and led them via a pillar of fire by night and a pillar of smoke by day.
The feasts intimately connect with Israel’s spring and fall agricultural season. The first four feasts occur in the spring and the last three feasts occur in the fall. God ordained the timing of the feasts in a 3:1:3 arrangement. The first three occur in rapid sequence in the month of Nisan. The next feast, Pentecost, is fifty days later. The last three feasts are compressed into the seventh lunar month of Tishri.
Numbers are very important in Scripture. The study of ‘numerology’ is devoted to discovering how and why God uses numbers in His Word. God is the consummate mathematician. He enjoys numbers. He created the world and the universe with mathematical constructs. That is another study, however. There are ‘7’ feasts. The number ‘7’ is very special in the Bible. It represents perfection and completion and always connects with God. God created the universe in 6 days and rested on the 7th day. God placed His last 3 holidays in the 7th month of the year. God used the number ‘7’ repeatedly in the book of Revelation – more than fifty times. The prophetic Scripture records 7 churches, 7 lamp-stands, 7 angels, 7 seals, 7 trumpets, 7 bowls, etc. God instructs the Jews to give the land a Sabbath rest every 7th year (Lev. 25: 4). The Feast of Weeks, Pentecost, is dated 7 weeks of 7 days + one day, marking fifty days from the Feast of First Fruits. God established the Year of Jubilee as 7 sets of 7 years + 1 year to make fifty years. He ordained the Jewish people forgive their debts to one another and free all their slaves at that time. God appointed a 70-year period of Jewish captivity in the Babylonian empire (Dan. 9: 2; Jer. 25: 11-12). God allotted 70 times 7 years upon the Jewish nation to abolish sin, complete God’s prophetic program and bring them the Messiah in the Millennial Kingdom (Daniel 9: 24).
God completed the creation of the universe in six days and rested on the seventh. He uses the ‘7’ feast days to portray His entire plan of redemption for Israel and the world. He will rest with His people at the final 7th feast.
God initially gave the feasts to Israel. He commanded their celebration in the Law. That is a conditional covenant with His people. Once again, consequences follow if disobedience occurs. However, God extends His feasts to the rest of the world in the unconditional covenant He made with Abraham. God spoke to Abraham in Genesis 22:18: “In your Seed all the nations of the earth shall be blessed.” The ‘Seed’ here is singular as later described by the Apostle Paul in Galations 3: 8, 16:
The Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, preached the gospel beforehand to Abraham, saying, “All the nations will be blessed in you.” So then, those who are of faith are blessed with Abraham, the believer (Gal 3: 8).
Now the promises were spoken to Abraham and to his Seed. He does not say, “And to seeds,” as referring to many, but rather to one, “And to your Seed,” that is, Christ (Gal 3: 16).
Jesus is the ‘Seed’ God promised to Abraham. The Scripture proclaims ‘all nations shall be blessed’ by Him. Jesus Christ prophetically fulfills each of these feasts for Jews and Christians. All believers can participate in these holidays and commune with God. The covenant God made with Abraham was unconditional—it did not depend upon people to be perfect according to the Law. God promised He would fulfill the Abrahamic covenant despite the sin and imperfections of His people. The entire redemptive plan of God in Jesus Christ is pictured in these feasts. Jesus fulfilled each of the four spring feasts at His first coming. He redeemed the Body of Christ in the spring feasts. His crucifixion, burial in a rich man’s tomb, and resurrection each occurred on the day ordained for the first three feasts. God prophetically fulfilled the fourth feast by sending His Holy Spirit as Helper and Baptizer of all in the Body of Christ. Jesus Christ will fulfill the fall feasts at His second coming. He will redeem His chosen nation, Israel, through the prophetic events of the fall feasts. Because Jesus fulfilled each of the feasts, all God’s followers, both Jews and Christians, can enter into celebration and convocation with God on these occasions.
What about Hanukkah? Did God create this holiday? The short answer is ‘no.’ Jewish men created this holiday to commemorate a very important historical event of the Jewish nation. Hanukkah celebrates the time when the Maccabees took the Jewish temple back from the Seleucids—a pagan empire centered in Syria and ruled by Antiochus Epiphanies. The Jews cleansed the temple after a three-year period of defilement. A one-day supply of olive oil kept the menorah lit in the temple for 8 days, until an additional supply of olive oil could be consecrated. Hanukkah—‘the Feast of Lights’ celebrates that event.
Purim is an important Jewish feast commemorating the deliverance of the Jewish nation from the wicked plans of Haman during the period of the Medo-Persian Empire. Haman planned mass extermination for the Jews. The holiday, Purim, celebrates God’s miraculous deliverance using Queen Esther. Hanukkah and Purim are important holidays for the Jewish nation. They commemorate God’s orchestrated events in history. But God did not number these holidays among His holy convocations recorded in Leviticus.
The next articles will describe the ‘7’ feasts in greater detail and present the grand redemptive plan of God. Jesus Christ fulfills every one of God’s ‘7’ feasts in complete perfection.