The Jewish Feasts

Scripture Passage: 
Leviticus 23:1-44

INTRODUCTION: God established seven original annual feasts for the children of Israel as described here in Leviticus 23. Two later feasts were recognized in the Bible. The feast of Purim was established in the book of Esther (Esther 9:20-32). The feast of Hanukkah was established during the time between the testaments but was sanctioned by the New Testament where it was called the feast of dedication (John 10:22).

These seven feasts were commemorative for the Jewish saints. That is, they looked back to what God had done for them. For instance, the Passover looked back to their deliverance from Egypt and the feast of tabernacles commemorated God’s care for them in the wilderness. The feasts were also prophetic. They told of things that had not occurred at the time the feasts were given. Yet, the first four feasts were fulfilled immediately after the coming of Christ while the last three are yet to be fulfilled. Finally, the feasts were instructive. They taught much about our relationship to God. Although they may have been specifically for the Jewish people, we also can learn from them.

  1. THE SABBATH (Leviticus 23:1-3)
    1. Feasts of the Lord (Leviticus 23:2)
      1. God calls them “my feasts.”
      2. Just as those things which were devoted to the Lord were holy and belonged to Him, so the sabbath days belong to Him.
    2. Holy Convocations (Leviticus 23:2-3)
      1. A sabbath of rest
      2. No work to be done
    3. The Sabbath Day (Leviticus 23:3)
      1. The seventh day
      2. The sabbath of the Lord
  2. THE FEAST OF THE PASSOVER (Leviticus 23:4-5)
    1. The First of the Annual Feasts (Leviticus 23:4; Exodus 12:1-2)
    2. The Fourteenth Day of the First Month (Leviticus 23:5; Exodus 12:1-14)
    3. A Commemoration of God’s Deliverance (Exodus 12:12-13, 25-27)
    4. A Prophecy of the Sacrificial Death of Christ (1 Corinthians 5:7; 1 Peter 2:24; 1 Peter 3:18)
    5. Matches the Day of the Crucifixion
  3. THE FEAST OF UNLEAVENED BREAD (Leviticus 23:6-8)
    1. The Celebration of the Feast
      1. Begins on the fifteenth day of the first month (Leviticus 23:6)
      2. Seven days of eating unleavened bread (Leviticus 23:6)
      3. Holy convocations with no work
        1. The first day (Leviticus 23:7)
        2. The seventh day (Leviticus 23:8)
    2. A Commemoration of Their Separation from Egypt (Exodus 12:15-17)
    3. A Prophecy of the Sinless Offering of Christ
      1. Leaven is a type of sin and corruption (Matthew 16:11-12; 1 Corinthians 5:5-8; Galatians 5:7-9).
      2. The unleavened bread is a type of the sinless Christ (2 Corinthians 5:21; 1 Peter 2:22; 1 John 3:5).
      3. The seven days are a picture of the completeness and perfection of the sacrifice (Ephesians 5:2; Hebrews 10:12).
  4. THE FEAST OF THE FIRSTFRUITS (Leviticus 23:9-14)
    1. The Time of the Feast (Leviticus 23:9-11)
      1. At the time of the firstfruits of the harvest (Leviticus 23:9-10)
      2. On the morrow after the sabbath (Leviticus 23:11)
        1. On a Sunday
        2. On the Sunday following the passover
    2. The Offerings of the Feast (Leviticus 23:10-14)
      1. A sheaf of the firstfruits (Leviticus 23:10-12)
      2. An he lamb for a burnt offering (Leviticus 23:12)
      3. A meat offering (Leviticus 23:13)
      4. A drink offering (Leviticus 23:13)
      5. God’s portion must come first (Leviticus 23:14).
    3. A Commemoration of God’s Provision for His People (Leviticus 23:14)
    4. A Prophecy of the Resurrection of Christ (1 Corinthians 15:19-23)
  5. THE FEAST OF PENTECOST (Leviticus 23:15-22)
    1. The Time of the Feast (Leviticus 23:15-16)
      1. Count from the feast of the firstfruits (Leviticus 23:15).
      2. Count seven sabbaths (Leviticus 23:15).
      3. To the morrow after the seventh sabbath, fifty days (Leviticus 23:16)
    2. The Offerings of the Feast (Leviticus 23:16-21)
      1. A new meat offering (Leviticus 23:16-17)
        1. With fine flour (Leviticus 23:17)
        2. With leaven (Leviticus 23:17); this is totally opposite from the standard meat offering (Leviticus 2:11). That is why it is called a new meat offering (Leviticus 23:16). It indicates the acceptance of those who are not in themselves sinless.
      2. Additional offerings (Leviticus 23:18-21)
    3. A Commemoration of God’s Provision for All (Leviticus 23:22)
      1. The poor
      2. The stranger
    4. A Prophecy of the Coming of the Holy Ghost (Acts 2:1-4; Romans 8:9)
  6. THE FEAST OF TRUMPETS (Leviticus 23:23-25)
    1. A Commemoration of the New Year
      1. It begins the Jewish secular year with the feast called Rosh Hashanah.
      2. It announces the year with the blowing of trumpets. (See Numbers 10:1-10 for the trumpets and their uses.)
        1. For the assembling of the congregation (Numbers 10:3)
        2. For the gathering of the princes (Numbers 10:4)
        3. For the moving forward of the camp (Numbers 10:5)
        4. For an alarm of an enemy (Numbers 10:9)
        5. For the day of gladness (Numbers 10:10)
        6. For the solemn days (Numbers 10:10)
        7. For the beginnings of the months (Numbers 10:10)
    2. A Prophecy of the Coming of Christ
      1. The trumpet of the rapture (1 Thessalonians 4:16-17; 1 Corinthians 15:51-52)
      2. The trumpets of the tribulation (Revelation 8:2, 6)
      3. The trumpet of the second coming (Matthew 24:30-31)
  7. THE DAY OF ATONEMENT (Leviticus 23:26-32)
    1. The Time of the Feast (Leviticus 23:26-27); the tenth day of the seventh month
    2. The Purpose of the Feast (Leviticus 23:28-32)
      1. A day to make atonement (Leviticus 23:28)
      2. A day to do no manner of work (Leviticus 23:29-31)
      3. A day to afflict their souls (Leviticus 23:32); this included fasting (Isaiah 58:3-7).
    3. Commemoration of Their Need for Atonement (Leviticus 16; Hebrews 10:3-4)
    4. A Prophecy of Future Redemption
      1. The redemption of Israel (Isaiah 66:5-9; Romans 11:25-29)
      2. The redemption of creation (Romans 8:19-22)
      3. The redemption of the body (Romans 8:23)
  8. THE FEAST OF TABERNACLES (Leviticus 23:33-44)
    1. The Time of the Feast (Leviticus 23:33-39)
      1. On the fifteenth day of the seventh month (Leviticus 23:34-35)
      2. On the seven days following this day (Leviticus 23:36)
      3. When the fruit of the land has been gathered (Leviticus 23:39)
    2. The Activities of the Feast (Leviticus 23:40-44)
      1. Rejoicing before the Lord (Leviticus 23:40-41)
      2. Dwelling in booths (Leviticus 23:42-44)
    3. A Commemoration of Their History (Leviticus 23:43)
    4. A Prophecy of God Dwelling with Man (Revelation 21:3-6)

CONCLUSION: These feasts served as a constant reminder of God’s goodness to His people. When they partook of them, they remembered some great work of God in the past and rejoiced in what He had done for them. Perhaps each believer ought to have some times in their lives when they reflect upon some great work of God in their own lives.

David Reagan and Andrew Ray

Daily Proverb

Proverbs 19:11

The discretion of a man deferreth his anger; and it is his glory to pass over a transgression.