God ordained four spring holy feasts to commune with His people. The first three occur in the month of Nisan. The fourth occurs 50 days after the third feast. A description of the spring feasts follows, along with a discussion of Jesus prophetic fulfillment. We will begin with the first and most famous of the Jewish feasts—the Feast of Passover.
“In the fourteenth day of the first month at evening is the LORD’s Passover” (Leviticus 23: 5).
Passover commemorates God’s miraculous deliverance of the Jewish people from Egypt. Exodus 12:1-49 describes God’s wondrous work. There was really only one ‘Passover.’ It occurred over 3,500 years ago, as the last of the ten plagues afflicting pharaoh and the Egyptians. God had poured His judgment on the idolatrous Egyptians in the previous nine plagues. Each plague mocked an Egyptian deity. Pharaoh’s heart remained hardened and he refused to release the Jews from Egypt. God would unleash one last deadly plague upon Pharaoh and his people, and it would achieve God’s intended result. But first, God ordered each Jewish family to take a perfect yearling lamb from their flock on the tenth day of Nisan. He instructed them to keep it four days, allowing children and the entire family to bond with it. God directed them to sacrifice the lamb on the evening of Passover—the fourteenth day of Nisan. God commanded them to apply the lamb’s blood to the lintel and doorposts of their home. Late that night the death angel passed over each Jewish home that had complied with God’s instructions. But for the Egyptian families he carried out God’s judgment—killing the firstborn of every household. Pharaoh and every Egyptian family suffered that terrible fate. God softened Pharaoh’s heart that night. He was happy to be rid of the Jews and ordered them to leave Egypt the very next morning. Perhaps two million Hebrews marched out of Egypt into the desert under God’s guidance. Forty years of trials, tribulations and miracles were required to deliver them into the ‘promised land.’ But God had redeemed them and made Israel His chosen nation.
The Jews celebrate Passover each year, recalling God’s miraculous deliverance from Egypt. The Passover Feast has many delightful foods. But three foods are critical for the celebration: the lamb, unleavened bread, and bitter herbs. These foods reflect the events of that one Passover night, 3,500 years ago. The bitter herbs portray the Jews bondage to Israel. We will discuss the unleavened bread as we examine the Feast of Unleavened Bread. The Lamb, however, is the center of the feast. The lamb had no defects or blemishes. It was the choice of the entire flock. The lamb was roasted over a fire and its flesh was eaten the original night of Passover. The blood of the Lamb covered the sins of God’s people, so the death angel could pass over.
The ‘Last Supper’ Jesus ate with His disciples was the Passover Feast. He instituted the first communion with them at the completion of the Passover meal—just prior to His crucifixion. Jesus, the Lamb of God, used bread and wine to symbolize His New Covenant with them, and with all believers who followed.
While they were eating, Jesus took some bread, and after a blessing, He broke it and gave it to the disciples, and said, “Take, eat, this is My body.” And when He had taken a cup and given thanks, He gave it to them saying, “Drink from it, all of you, for this is My blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins” (Matt. 26: 26-28).
Christians memorialize the Lord’s Supper, recalling the time when Christ, our Passover, was sacrificed for us. The Passover feast is the foundation for understanding the events of the Last Supper, communion, and the crucifixion of God’s only Son. Jesus became our Passover sacrifice the very next morning. The Roman’s crucified Him on God’s appointed Passover Feast. “For even Christ our Passover is sacrificed for us” (1 Cor. 5: 7). He suffered a horrific death of crucifixion on a cross, bearing the sins of all mankind. They pierced His body and His blood flowed on that day. It was the same Passover day celebrated in every Jewish household. Jesus became our Passover lamb. He died as God’s only Son and His blood was applied to cover the sins of every believer. The Holy Spirit borrowed the tongue of John the Baptist just before he baptized Jesus. John proclaimed: “Behold the Lamb of God, which takes away the sin of the world” (John 1: 29). How true that prophetic utterance became.
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).
The Feast of Unleavened Bread begins the very next day after Passover and lasts for seven days. Jews are required to eat unleavened bread during that entire time. This feast also commemorates God’s deliverance of His people from Egypt. God instructed them to prepare unleavened bread and eat it with the Passover lamb the night prior to their departure from Egypt. He commanded them to take the remainder of this bread into the wilderness the next morning. The bread would nourish them early in their journey. Leaven represents sin in the Bible. Multiple Old and New Testament Scriptures attest to this. Unleavened bread has no yeast and it represents purity. God called His people to be holy—set apart from a wicked world. He gave the Jews His law to make them acutely aware of their sinfulness. Unleavened bread could not erase their sin. However, it pictures God’s Son—a pure, unblemished sacrifice that removes the sin from God’s chosen. The Jews usually pierce and stripe the unleavened bread as they prepare it for the feast. Similarly, Jesus was pierced for our sins and by his stripes we are healed.
“But He was pierced through for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; the chastening for our well-being fell upon Him, and by His scourging we are healed (Isa 53: 5).”
“Jesus said unto them. ‘I am the bread of life: he that comes to me shall not hunger, and he that believes in me shall never thirst’ (John 6: 35).”
The prophetic meaning of this feast is found in the person of Jesus Christ. 750 years prior to His crucifixion, the prophet, Isaiah, recorded the Messiah would lie in a rich man’s tomb. “His grave was assigned with wicked men, yet He was with a rich man in His death, because He had done no violence, nor was there any deceit in His mouth (Isa 53: 9).” Jesus died on a cross on the Feast of Passover. At sundown, His dead, lifeless body was placed in a rich man’s tomb—the beginning of the Feast of Unleavened Bread (Matt. 27: 57-60). Jewish feasts begin in the evening at sundown. The sinless body of Jesus lay in the tomb three days and nights, but did not decay. Yeast decays and ultimately spoils the bread. Unleavened bread represents Jesus body, a sinless sacrifice for the sins of every man.
It is appropriate to present an important teaching of the Apostle Paul in the Book of Corinthians:
Your boasting is not good. Do you not know that a little leaven leavens the whole lump of dough? Clean out the old leaven so that you may be a new lump, just as you are in fact unleavened. For Christ our Passover also has been sacrificed. Therefore let us celebrate the feast, not with old leaven, nor with the leaven of malice and wickedness, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth (1 Cor. 5: 6-8).
Christ, our Passover, died for our sins. We now walk in newness of life and appear unblemished to our Father in heaven. God calls us to remove the old influences of sin from our new life in Christ. We are the Body of Christ in this wicked world.
Jesus rose from the dead after three days and nights to fulfill the next feast.
The 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 first fruits of your harvest unto the priest” (Leviticus 23: 10).
The Feast of First Fruits commemorates the beginning of the spring barely harvest in Israel. Barely grain ripens and is harvested first in the land if Israel. God commanded His children to bring the first sheaf of barley to the temple and present it as a thanksgiving offering the day following the Sabbath, occurring during the seven day Feast of Unleavened Bread (Lev. 23: 11). The Feast of Fruits was celebrated on Sunday, following the Saturday Sabbath, the year Jesus was crucified. The Feast of First Fruits occurs on one day, within the seven day Feast of Unleavened Bread.
An amazing event occurred on the Feast of First Fruits the year Jesus was crucified. The huge stone covering the entrance to Jesus’ tomb was rolled away in the midst of a squadron of Roman soldiers standing guard. The soldiers were present to ensure no one stole Jesus’ body. He had earlier prophesied He would rise from the dead after three days in the belly of the earth.
But He answered and said to them, “An evil and adulterous generation craves for a sign; and yet no sign will be given to it but the sign of Jonah the prophet; for just as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the sea monster, so will the Son of Man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth (Matt. 12: 39-40).
The Roman soldiers could not prevent this miracle. An omnipotent God powered the resurrection. An angel proclaimed to the women at the tomb desiring to treat Jesus’ body with spices:
Do not be afraid for I know that you are looking for Jesus who has been crucified. He is not here, for He has risen, just as He said. Come, see the place where He was lying. Go quickly and tell His disciples that He has risen from the dead… (Matt. 28:5-7).
Jesus Christ prophetically rose from the dead on the Feast of First Fruits and became the ‘first fruit’ of those who would follow thereafter.
But now Christ has been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who are asleep. For since by a man came death, by a man also came the resurrection of the dead. For, as in Adam all die, so also in Christ all will be made alive. But each in his own order: Christ the first fruits; after that those who are Christ’s at His coming (1 Cor. 15: 20 -23).
When God accepted the first fruits of the barely harvest He guaranteed the harvest of the remaining crop. By accepting His Son, Jesus, as the first fruits of the resurrection, He guaranteed the resurrection of those who followed.
The Feast of Weeks—Pentecost:
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 baked with leaven; they are the first fruits unto the LORD (Leviticus 23: 16-17).
God instructed the Jews to count seven weeks plus one day to number fifty days following the Feast of First Fruits. God designated this day to celebrate the Feast of Weeks, Pentecost.
God designed Pentecost to give thanksgiving for the wheat harvest, which came after the barley harvest. He instructed the Jews to take wheat from their harvest and bake two loaves of leavened bread and offer them to the Lord in the temple. Why two loaves? Why leaven? God required the priests to use only unleavened bread in the temple at all other times. Leaven represents sin and a Holy God cannot look upon sin in His temple. God did not provide the Jews a reason for using the two leavened loaves of bread in their sacrifice. God revealed the mystery to the Apostle Paul over 1,500 years later.
For He is our peace, Who hath made both one, and hath broken down the middle wall of partition between us; Having abolished in His flesh the enmity, even the law of commandments contained in ordinances; for to make in Himself of twain one new man, so making peace (Eph 2: 14-15).
The Feast of First Fruits commemorates God’s giving of the Law to Israel. Jews believe God gave the Law from Mt. Sinai on that very day (though the Scripture does not assign a date to this event). Pentecost was also a prophetic feast, forecasting a future time when God would create the Body of Christ—the representation of His Son in a wicked world. God, the Holy Spirit, would create this magnificent wonder. He would baptize each and every believer into the Body of Christ. The leaven represents the sin of man and the two loaves portray believing Jews and Gentiles, combined into one body. Jesus destroyed the middle wall of partition, the Law (represented by tearing the veil barring entrance to the Holy of Holies). He provided the way of faith by God’s grace to enter the Body of Christ.
And I will pray the Father, and He shall give you another Comforter, that He may abide with you for ever; Even the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth Him not, neither knoweth Him: but ye know Him; for He dwelleth with you, and shall be in you (John 14: 14-16).
Jesus promised God the Father would send the Holy Spirit after the crucifixion. The Holy Spirit would comfort Jesus’ followers and dwell in the heart of every believer. He would empower the Body of Christ in a wicked world. The Holy Spirit fulfilled the prophetic feast day of Pentecost. He came just as Jewish pilgrims had arrived from all over the known world to commemorate that great feast. The Holy Spirit in-dwelled the apostle Peter and the other followers of Jesus. They spoke the tongues of every language represented by the Jewish pilgrims who were present. These Jewish pilgrims heard the Gospel in their own language. Many believed on Jesus that day—3,000 believers were added to the Body of Christ!
“So then, those who had received his word were baptized; and that day there were added about three thousand souls” (Acts 2: 41).