Spring Feasts of the Lord - 2016
Pesach or Passover / Unleavened Bread / First fruits
Begins on the (evening) 22nd April and will end on the (evening) 29th April 2016
Shalom Dear Partner and Friend of Israel,
This year's "Pesach - Passover" will begin at sunset on the evening of 22nd April and will end the evening of 29th April, 2016. (We are currenty in the Biblical Year 5776 and will change on the 03rd October to 5777 - on "Rosh HaShanah" - see "Last three Feasts of the Lord").
Looking back: Last year a string of four "blood moons" ended in the Biblical Year 5776 (2014/2015) and the 3rd "blood moon" appeared over the Passover Seder on the 04th April (Nisan 15) and we were reminded of Joel 2:30-31. Whenever this happened in the past, enormouse events took place in Jewish history... which means that this coming year (and the next) will be very eventful and interesting. In the past, the rare appearance of four "blood moon Tetrad’s" on these feast days has coincided with major events for Israel and the Jewish people. There were two eclipses and was said that it would will affect the nations. We have seen many things changing the way we live today and many happened during the recent bloodmoons of 2014/2015! (Our article on "The Coming Blood Moons" explains more in detail. (Just click on our Recent Articles)
The Seven Feasts of the Lord is perhaps one of the most fascinating Biblical studies of the historic and prophetic significance of these special days. While believers are not require to keep these feasts, every believer should be very familiar with them, as they not only celebrate a historical event in Israel's past but are, at the same time, a prophecy of future events… or a type. In Christian theology a type is a factual happening in history, which is a glimpse of one or more actual events yet to come… a significance that is not always apparent at the original occurrence. Western ideas of prophecy involve prediction and fulfilment. The Hebrew idea of prophecy is a pattern that is repeated one or more times… multiple fulfilments with one ultimate fulfilment. Each fulfilment is both a type of, and a lesson on, the ultimate fulfilment.
God’s plan of salvation for mankind is summed up in these feasts, which relate to Israel's agricultural seasons and therefore fall into three clusters. The Spring and Summer Feasts typify the inauguration of redemption while the Fall Feasts its consummation. No other nation ever had God establish their holidays, as did Israel, while waiting – supernaturally sustained in the wilderness – to enter the Promised Land.
Each of these holidays spoke of God’s concern and care for His people. In the case of those added later, such as Purim, Hanukkah and Israel’s Independence, men established them in fear of God and gratefulness for God’s gracious intervention in human affairs for their deliverance. The feasts are celebrated on the same day of the Jewish calendar every year, but since the Jewish year is not the same length as a solar year on the Gregorian calendar used by most of the western world, so the date shifts on the Gregorian calendar.
The First Three Feasts of the Lord ( 3 of 7):
Firstly we need to understand; the seven Feasts of the Lord are arranged in Leviticus 23 in two groups. The first four came at the beginning of the Biblical Jewish year, while the last three came towards the end of the year. That seems to be God’s method in revealing future things (compare Luke 1: 31-33). Between these two groups there was a period of several months, when there were no feasts or holy convocations.
The Feasts of Passover and Unleavened Bread point to the Messiah Yeshua’s (Jesus) death and burial; First-fruits to His resurrection; and Pentecost (fifty days later) to His Church Age. Finally, the last three – Feast of Trumpets, Day of Atonement, and Feast of Tabernacles – all of which foreshadow the next prophetic events, namely, the Re-gathering of Israel and Rapture of the Church, the Time of Jacob’s Trouble and his ultimate salvation, and the Kingdom Age, respectively.
Truly, "coming events cast their shadows before." These seven Feasts of Jehovah "are a shadow of things to come" (Colossians 2:17). The New Testament is the only divine commentary on the Old Testament. As it is often quoted: The New is in the Old contained: The Old is by the New explained.
It is interesting to note the meaning of the Hebrew word translated "feast." The root idea of the word carries the thought of "to keep an appointment." God made appointments with His Covenant people to meet with them at certain times. He told them to come to Him and gave the exact days when they should come and how these special days were to be observed. When we; Jews or Gentiles, keep our appointment with God, we really feast with Him. The Feasts should be a means of creating better understanding and more friendly relations between Jews and Christians from a Scriptural standpoint.
Yeshua (Jesus) kept the Feasts… The Scripture doesn’t tell us much about the early life of Yeshua. One incident is related from the time when He was twelve years old. The story recorded again by Luke: "His parents went to Jerusalem every year at the "Feast of Passover." And when He was twelve years old, they went up to Jerusalem according to the custom of the feast," Luke 2:41– 42.
His family did this as prescribed in the book of Exodus: "Three times you shall keep a feast to Me in the year… You shall keep the Feast of Un-leaven Bread (Passover) and the Feast of Harvest (Shavuot or Pentecost), the firstfruits of your labours which you have sown in the field; and the Feast of Ingathering (Sukkoth or Tabernacles) at the end of the year… Three times in the year all your males shall appear before the Lord GOD" Exodus 23:14 – 17, also Deuteronomy 16:16
There is much evidence that Yeshua respected and kept the Law. His own words show this; "Do not think that I have come to destroy the Law or the Prophets. I did not come to destroy but to fulfill (meaning – to fill out, expand or complete. It does not mean to bring to an end - Nelson Study Bible). For truly I say to you, till the heaven and the earth pass away, not one jot (the "jot" is the Hebrew word for Yod – which is the 10th letter of the Hebrew alphabet and also the smallest letter) or one tittle (the "tittle" is the small decorative point on the upper edge of the Yod)… shall in any way pass from the Law until all is fulfilled. Therefore whoever shall relax one of these commandments, the least, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of Heaven. But whoever shall do and teach them, the same shall be called great in the kingdom of Heaven," Matthew 5:17-19.
Feast Number 1 and 2…
1. Pesach or Passover: Begins and ends on the evenings of 22nd – 29th April, 2016. "On the fourteenth day of the first month at twilight is the Lord's Passover" (Leviticus 23:5). Pesach or "Passover" is another happy season and is specifically one of the three ‘Feasts’ we are commanded to keep! God had ordained for Israel a sacred calendar of three major festivals and is "believed where the windows of heaven are open in blessings" ...and God commanded they be observed as "a statute forever throughout your generations in all your dwellings." (Leviticus 23:14, 21, 41; Deuteronomy 16:16, 17)
Important - The three MAJOR feasts are:
1. "Passover, the Feast of Unleavened Bread."
2. "Shavuot / Feast of Weeks" – also called "Pentecost," a Greek translation of the Hebrew words meaning, the "fiftieth day" when the Festival was celebrated. (Leviticus 23:15, 16)
3. "The Feast of Tabernacles."
There is great preparation in Jewish homes for this "Festival of Freedom." For several days Jewish people throughout the world cleanse their homes of all leaven (products made of yeast) in anticipation of celebrating the "Passover Seder." No matter what the circumstances, whether a Jewish family still has a roof over its head and only a box of Matzo’s, there mother and children gather around the table where father directs the traditional and timely ritual.
The Hebrew word "Pesach" means "to pass over, to exempt or to spare." Passover begins on the 14th day of Nisan, which is the first month of the Jewish calendar and celebrates the epic exodus of the nation of Israel out of bondage. The Jews had been slaves in Egypt for generations, but were refused their freedom despite plague after plague being visited by God on the Egyptians through Moses. However the night before the final ‘plague’ which caused Pharaoh to change his mind, the Israelites were given very explicit instructions... They were to sacrifice a lamb and place the blood upon their door posts and lintel.
That night the angel of God "passed over" the houses of the Jews that were covered by the lamb’s blood, but caused the death of the first-born of all families in the houses that were not. Every year at the Passover Feast there would be a re-enactment of this ritual to remind the Israelites of their deliverance from the destroying angel and slavery under the Pharaohs of Egypt. (Exodus 12:1–14)
Since this memorable night in Egypt 3,500 years ago Jewish people have been observing annually that deliverance. Wonderfully and beautifully touching are the instructions given to Israel through Moses (Deuteronomy 6:20–23). Thus it developed down through the centuries that the Jewish boy seated at the Passover table would go through the ritual which involved asking the father certain questions. The boy asks, "Why is this night different from all other nights?" Then follows the ritual by the father of all the wonderful events that led up to the Passover deliverance from the Pharaohs and so there is kept alive, age after age, that uniqueness which makes the Jewish people understand in many wonderful ways how God has accomplished His miraculous preservation. That is the reason why Jewish people, even against hope, can press on, and know that all the Pharaohs, Herod’s, Haman’s, Hitler’s and even today Hamas, Hezbollah and Islamic terrorism together cannot wipe them out! If the nation of Israel can be wiped out, then God would be the greater loser, for HIS WORD is at stake; He said that they would never cease from being a nation.
The Saturday before Passover is Metzora-Shabbat HaGadol, The great Sabbath which commemorates the procuring of the Passover Lamb. Rabbi’s of old taught that… the Messiah was most likely to come on the night of "Passover." A vacant chair is to be seen at the Seder feast for Elijah, the herald of the Messiah (Malachi 4:5–6).
How wonderful is it that the Lord has brought the Jewish people back from all parts of the world, so now they can celebrate Passover in the land of their fathers. The traditional hopeful and those who would love to have come but could not have been saying for centuries, "Next year in Jerusalem!"
Yeshua (Jesus) fulfilled this feast both symbolically, and quite literally. On the 10th of Nisan, Yeshua rode into the city of Jerusalem on the very day the lambs to be slaughtered were selected. He entered the city as the sacrificial Lamb chosen by God, which however was not understood by the people at the time. Four days later Yeshua was crucified on the day of preparation for the Passover, when the lambs were actually slaughtered. John 19:14 tells us that as Yeshua stood before Pilate; it was the day for the preparation of the Passover and it was about the 6th hour. The Passover lamb was to be a "male without defect," which is how Yeshua (Jesus) was described. (1 Peter 1:18-19) Yeshua’ bones remained unbroken which was Moses’ stipulation for the Passover Lamb in Exodus 12:46. It was customary to break the leg bones of the person after a few hours of crucifixion so that the person could not push up with their legs in order to breathe. Breaking the legs ensured that death by asphyxiation followed very quickly.
The Passover Table… Now let’s look at the table Jewish people will gather around. What will be on the table? There will be a shank bone of a sheep, unleavened bread, bitter herbs, wine or Shabbat grape juice, candles, an egg, salt water, greens, and grated apple. These things are admittedly very significant; but God ordered only three things; lamb, unleavened bread and bitter herbs ~ (Matthew 26:17 – 20; 26 – 30). All agree that the bloodless shank bone of a sheep is a poor substitute for the prescribed Passover Lamb. The Bread must be unleavened (Matzo) for leaven is a type of evil. Bitter herbs look back to the bitter sufferings under the lash of Egyptian taskmasters. Wine speaks of sacrificial blood. The candles bring to mind the Tabernacle worship in the wilderness. The egg is added because in it is the qualities of life, a type of resurrection. Salt water speaks of tears shed in Egypt. The grated apple, having the colour of clay, recalls the clay with which bricks were made in that long ago. Yes, all these things are very significant!
2. The Feast of Unleavened Bread: (day after Passover) Leviticus 23:6-8. Let’s consider in more detail unleavened bread on the table the three Matzo’s, for this also is the Feast of Unleavened Bread.
The middle Matzo is broken and half of it is hidden. The hidden half is brought forth and eaten by every member of the family at the end of the meal – it is called "afikoman." Could these three Matzo’s, be symbolic of the Tri-unity of the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob? Here on the Seder table this truth is clearly symbolized. The middle Matzo, the one that is broken, pictures the Messiah! (1 Corinthians 11:24) The broken and hidden half of the Matzo is typical of His death and burial. And the bringing forth of it at the end of the meal is symbolic of His resurrection.
The feast of Un-leavened bread began on the 15th of Nisan or the day following Passover, and continued for SEVEN days until the 21st of Nisan. The first and last days of this 7 day feast were identified as "holy convocations" or High Sabbaths, devoted to rest and worship. (Leviticus 23:6, 8) The day prior to a High Sabbath was commonly known as a preparation day which meant the Passover on the 14th of Nisan, was also the preparation day for the "High Sabbath" on the 15th.
God commanded the Israelites to avoid eating any leavened foods (food that contained any fermenting product such as yeast or baking powder) during this festival, reflecting the fact that the Israelites had no time to put leaven in their bread before their hasty departure from Egypt (Exodus 12:33-34). Note that at least six Biblical passages emphasize this prohibition of leaven during the feast (Exodus 12:14-20; 13:6-8; 23:15; 34:18; Leviticus 23:6; Deuteronomy 16:3, 8), the eating of which carried severe consequences. Even modern day Jews who observe the traditional feasts go through a comprehensive and exhausting search of their houses for any form of leavened food (chametz), every last crumb of which is then removed from the house. Leaven, in the Bible always symbolized evil… sin and both Yeshua (Jesus) and Paul warned about leaven… (Luke 12:1; Matthew 16:6; Mark 8:15; 1 Corinthians 5:6 and Galatians 5:7–9).
So why is leaven used as a symbol of evil...? This question is probably best answered by the character and process of leavening, which is a process based on fermentation. Given time, the yeast reproduces, spreading throughout the dough or batter, biologically changing the chemistry of the dough as it works. Sin, like leaven, has a polluting quality. It doesn't stay small or contained for very long, but quickly spreads… eventually affecting our entire being. The symbolism of the feast of Unleavened Bread is that God’s people can not continue in the same old patterns, but have to search out and remove every speck of sin in their lives… However this is only possible after putting faith in the work of Messiah, Yeshua on the cross. Surely, without the Passover lamb there could be no Passover, but the lamb is conspicuous at the Seder by its absence?
There has not been a lamb at the Passover for 1,900 years. Why? The answer is found in the Word of God: Isaiah 53:7; Acts 8:26–40; John 1:29 and 1 Corinthians 5:7). What a night that was, that night in Egypt! All that happened that night was typical of God’s passing over and sparing sinners, Jews and Gentiles alike, who are under the shed blood of Yeshua. The only way those Jewish forefathers were delivered in Egypt 3,500 years ago was by believing it was either the death of the lamb or the death of their first born! Jewish prophetic Scriptures teach that He is coming again as the "Hope of Israel" (Acts 28:20) and the "Desire of all nations" (Haggai 2:7). In His second coming, He will deliver and save Israel as a nation, usher in their glorious future, and right all wrongs of the earth.
Feast Number 3: (3rd day after Passover) The Feast of First-fruits, on the 17th day of Nisan, was a celebration of the harvest, when a sheaf representing the very first of the harvest was waved before the Lord as a symbolic gesture that dedicated the coming harvest to Him. (This sheaf was likely to be barley, which was the first crop to ripen) Leviticus 23:9–14
The word Easter does not occur in the Scriptures. However, there is a verse in the King James Version of the New Testament where the word is found, but there the word should actually be translated "Passover" as in the original text (Acts 12:4). Easter and Passover are usually close together in our calendars. Passover always falls on the 14th day of Nissan of the Jewish calendar as the new moon appears on the 1st day of every month; so on the first day of the Passover falling on the 14th of the month, there is always a full moon. Because Easter falls on the first Sunday after the first full moon following March 21, the first day of spring (Northern Hemisphere). (The name Easter is derived from a Saxon Goddess called Eastre and some of the customs come from the festival of this goddess). Easter is really to be celebrated as the prophetic fulfilment of the Passover and Third Feast of Jehovah as proclaimed in Leviticus 23. The "First-fruits" following, the "on the morrow after the Sabbath," points to the resurrection of the Messiah, just as Passover points to "Yeshua our Passover sacrifice for us" (1 Corinthians 5:7).
Comparing; (the Prophecy) Leviticus 23:9–11 to (the fulfilment) 1 Corinthians 15:19-23.
Notice... Israel was to bring the sheaf of the first-fruits of the harvest on the first day of the week and wave it before the Lord. Yeshua rose on the first day of the week. That one sheaf represented the whole harvest. The harvest is at the end of this age of sowing and planting. "Messiah (Christ Jesus) the first-fruits; And, afterward they that are Messiah’s at His coming," the end of the harvest. The Feast of the First-fruits clearly points to our Lord’s resurrection, and also assures all Jews and Gentiles who have put their trust in Him, "they are Messiah’s at His coming," that they too will be resurrected!
This holy convocation, the third of the Feasts of Jehovah, had not been observed for over 2,000 years by Jews. However, since the establishment of the State of Israel, it has been revived, most elaborately in Haifa, the nucleus of Israel’s agricultural belt. This Festival of First-fruits, as it is called in Israel, is known as "Bikkurin." All farming communities join in the celebration, following the custom of the ancient Israelites who gave thanks to the Lord for their crops. In the Bible times, the first-fruits of the fields and orchards from spring harvest were brought to the Temple as an offering to the Lord. It is celebrated today in synagogues and Jewish homes as a thanksgiving festival. Because the beautiful story of Ruth is laid in the time of the barley harvest, the Book of Ruth is read in synagogues on the second day. During the Temple worship, the children of Israel brought a sheaf of the first-fruits of the spring harvest and offered it to the Lord. It was considered a day of Israel’s dedication. No doubt, that is why confirmation ceremonies for Jewish young people are held on this day.
Should Christians celebrate the day of Passover? The Apostle Paul clearly answers the question for us: "...Christ our Passover is sacrificed for us: Therefore LET US KEEP THE FEAST..." (1Corintians 5:7, 8) But how should it be celebrated and why would this New Testament writer encourage Christian believers to celebrate this Biblical Memorial Day? The truth is what we commonly refer to today as the sacrament of the "Lord's Supper" is the New Testament rite of Passover. In all of the prophetic pictures and demonstrations of the Old Testament, none more clearly reflects the redemptive work of the Messiah than does Passover, for He was to be "...the Lamb of God, to take away the sin of the world" (John 1:29). It was therefore pre-ordained that the Messiah would die for the sins of the world on that precise day and that it should be regarded as a "memorial day" (Exodus 12:14).
An appointed time… The wise man Solomon tells us: "To everything there is a season, and a time to every purpose under heaven: A time to be born and a time to DIE..." (Ecclesiastes 3:1, 2) The purpose of Passover was to pinpoint the "death-day" of Him who would be the true Messiah. Yeshua (Jesus) was crucified on that very day. In the book of Romans it is stated that "...in due time (appointed time) Christ died for the ungodly" (Romans 5:6). The Messiah was appointed to die on the Passover day and Yeshua met that appointment to perfection. The scriptures reveal that He died on the cross "In the fourteenth day of the first month (Nisan, or Abib) ...the LORD'S Passover." (Leviticus 23:5)
A lamb for each house… Exodus 12:3-4: The Passover applied to each individual household amongst the people of Israel. It is interesting that the Jews were allowed to be shepherds, as well as bricklayers, in Egypt (Genesis 46:34) because they were an abomination to the Egyptians. So they would have had enough lambs for the Passover. The Messiah was to be the sacrifice for individuals as well as the world. Scripture tells us that He is the Saviour for… the individual (Luke 23:39-43); the Nation of Israel (John 11:49-52); and for the whole world (John 1:29). Other Old Testament scriptures point to Yeshua (Jesus) as being the true sacrificial Lamb (Genesis 22:7; Isaiah 53). The lamb was killed between the evenings (Exodus 12:6). The Biblical day is from sundown to sundown (6pm to 6pm). The day is split up into two parts: The evening runs from 6pm to 6am, and the morning runs from 6am to 6pm. The evening part of this twenty-four hour period is between… noon to 6pm, therefore 'between the evenings' is 3pm, exactly the time Yeshua died on the cross. The 9th hour of the day in Matthew 27:45-50 is 3pm. God always works to perfect timing!
But how was the Messiah our First Fruits? Yeshua rose again on the THIRD day on the day of First Fruits. But His resurrection had far greater implications. Paul said this: 1 Corinthians 15:22 - For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive. The resurrection of Jesus is the guarantee and the beginning (First Fruits) of the FINAL HARVEST, or resurrection of all mankind. The Messiah fulfilled the prophetic meaning of this holy day by rising from the dead to become the First Fruits of the resurrection, and He did it on the very day of first fruits.
God does nothing in vain. All of the Old Testament observances have Christian applications - that was their entire purpose, to preview what was to come in due time.
The Gospel account pictures Mary at the empty tomb. The resurrected Messiah made Himself known to her by calling her name, "Mary!" She turned herself to him, "Raboni" meaning "Master." Yeshua said unto her "touch me not; for I am not yet ascended to My Father" (John 20:16 – 17). He had to be received by His Father before He could be appropriated by His people. The sheaf was waved before the Lord to be accepted for you as the "Bread of Life!"
We hope that you enjoy and become more informed by our work. We serve an awesome God and we are humbled by this opportunity to bring you this information.
Alf & Julie Saunders
02nd January 2016
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| The Shemitah & Jubilee Year 5774/5 | The Biblical Feasts of Israel | The Feast of Purim 2017 | The (First 3) Feasts of the Lord 2016 | Passover - Pesach | A Tribute to the State of Israel 2016 | Shavout or Pentecost (4th) Feast of the Lord 2016 | The (last 3) Fall Feasts of the Lord 2016 | Hanukkah - Feast of Miracles 2016 | Stand with Israel! | What's the 'Big Deal' about Israel? | Why Christians should support Israel | Where You go I will go... | Chosen at a Price? | The Valley of Dry Bones | Lessons from the Olive Tree | The Jews God's chosen people | Lebanon in the Bible | 9-1-1 |
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