God's Spring Festivals Intro

The Keepers of Time

Many students of the Bible seem to think that time confuses God since He has no beginning or end.  For scriptural reference we use 2 Peter 3:8, but surely this passage is not telling us that God just cannot grasp the concept of linear time.  What foolishness is this?  God created time when He placed the sun, moon, stars and other planetary bodies in the sky in synchronized motion building the finest time piece ever witnessed by man.  We are confined by the constraints of time, but God is not and can enter and exit time as He pleases.  God designed time as a means of communication with man.  Genesis 1:14

When God brought the Israelites out of bondage, He demonstrated their renewal in Him by marking the passing of time with a solar/lunar calendar aligned with the original celestial time piece.  The Lord said to Moses and Aaron in Egypt, "This month is to be for you the first month, the first month of your year."  Exodus 12:1-2   God demonstrated His love for the entire world by marking the passing of time with appointed times and entrusted them to Israel.  God gave Israel the recorded age of the world as a sacred heritage belonging to all mankind so we would know the reign of sin, sorrow and death will have an end.

God identifies the spring season for the Passover celebration by stating that it is to fall in the Aviv which means spring.  This requires a calendar that synchronizes the cycles of the moon with the rotation of the earth around the sun known as a solar/lunar calendar.  In comparison, the Gregorian calendar is solar and the Muslim calendar is lunar.  A solar/lunar calendar best reflects God's desire to communicate with man regarding the passing of time.  And God said, Let there be lights in the firmament of the heaven to divide the day from the night; and let them be for signs, and for seasons, and for days, and years.  Genesis 1:14-19  Abib, also known as Aviv, actually identifies the season of Passover as spring.  According to the Jewish calendar, this day falls on Nisan 10.  Exodus 13:4

The Christian world views these feasts and festivals as belonging to Israel and not to the church.  If it be true that Israel missed the message of the Messiah with all this understanding, then is it possible that without this imparted knowledge the church is in greater danger of doing the same thing?   My people are destroyed from lack of knowledge. "Because you have rejected knowledge, I also reject you as my priests; because you have ignored the law of your God, I also will ignore your children.  Hosea 4:6 

The End of Time in Servitude

In Exodus 12 the Lord gave explicit, detailed instructions regarding the spring festivals of Passover and Unleavened Bread.  God told Moses and Aaron that each generation must pass this understanding on to the next generation forever.  In Leviticus 23 He gives Israel very detailed instructions regarding the spring and fall festivals.  The New Testament has too many examples of Jesus and the disciples partaking of the Passover and other festivals to assume insignificance to the church regarding these appointed times.  I have listed only a few.

Why would these ancient teachings and practices of a small nation be of great significance to the world? They are landmarks that will help us understand and mark the passing of the final days during great duress.  It is the great privilege of the church to be the recipient of this understanding so we can deliver the message to a world with a need to know about the Stairway to Heaven.  John 1:47-51; Genesis 28:10-13  His name is Jesus Christ, the only begotten son of the Living God.  The Jewish Messiah will come again as the long awaited King of Righteousness.  Understanding the festivals God gave Israel will help all the nations prepare for His arrival.

At His ascension, the Disciples of Christ longed to go to Heaven with Him.  Acts 1:10-11; John 13:33; 14:1-6; 1:47-51; Genesis 28:10-13 They were left behind to be the seed wheat that falls to the ground in martyrdom, is buried in death and will rise again.  They were willing to die for Christ so you and I could be born again to participate in the final harvest.  Because of their selfless acts, they and all the saints before and after them will join the final generation in redemption and resurrection of both Jew and Gentile.  Finally, together we will all be made perfect at His coming.  Hebrews 11:32-40

At the coming of Jesus we will be set free from the bondage of sin, sorrow and suffering.  Pharaoh and Egypt are a type of Satan and his one world order, and is given to us as an explicit example of end time events.  Under a satanic influence, Pharaoh resisted the release of the Israelites, and Satan will certainly resist the rescue of the saints.

The resistance of Satan and the hardness of men’s hearts will result in God sending plagues.  Psalm 91; Revelation 15 & 16  These plagues will not afflict those with faith in God.  To keep these plagues from our dwelling, there must be a Passover.  If there is a Passover, there will be a week of eating unleavened bread to test and strengthen the faith of the saints.  In the midst of Unleavened Bread there will be a celebration of First Fruits.  Revelation 14:1-4   If there is an acceptance of the first fruit of the harvest, there will certainly be a Pentecost.  

Just as the Israelites crossed the sea in Egypt, our exodus from this world will result in a great battle.  Revelation 16:12-16  God will destroy Satan and his army just like He destroyed Pharaoh and the Egyptian army.  God's people will be delivered!   Revelation 16:17-21; 19:11-21; 11:15-19  The spring festivals describe the climatic deliverance of God's people by Jesus Christ, our redeemer kinsman.  This is often referred to as the end of time or the Day of the Lord. It is also known as Jacob’s time of trouble.

 

Historical Explanation of the Spring Festivals

The Passover experience was new to the Israelites, but the concept of a Passover is as old as the garden.  Adam and Eve experienced the first Passover when the innocent life was offered in the garden on behalf of their sins.  Before they left the garden (an exodus) innocent blood had to be shed so the angel of death would not slay them.  Genesis 2:16; Romans 6:23 

As the Israelites were preparing to leave Egypt, they were commanded to offer a lamb as a sacrifice then take hyssop dipped in the blood to mark their doorways in preparation for the angel of death so he would pass over their homes.  Exodus 12  The Egyptians without Passover preparation lost their first born to death. 

Those participating in the Passover were also commanded to eat unleavened bread since they were moving out in haste.  Eating the unleavened bread was and is a special invitation to be sanctified or set apart as a people with a higher calling.  Unleavened Bread is a time to carefully reconsider the covenant. Unleavened Bread is a testing time.  It is a challange to the faithful to demonstrate their confidence in God during a time of duress.  Unleavened Bread is a type of the trials of Job that each person must face.  A time that is so harsh that you will be tempted to curse God and die.  If you, like Job, declare to the universe that though he slay me, will I still trust in him (Job 13:15-18) then you will vindicate God to the entire onlooking universe.  Your unwavering faith in God during this testing time will be greatly rewarded. 

It takes time to wholeheartedly receive this invitation with careful consideration resulting in a renewed mind.   Therefore, Unleavened Bread lasts a week requiring the Israelite to begin and end the week with a convocation (meeting) with God.  The Israelite's commitment to eat only unleavened bread represents his promise to partake of the word of God which is pure and undefiled.  The evidence that you have partaken of the word of God is demonstrated by your faith in the promises of God though they have not been received.   

The body of Christ is also pure and undefiled.  During Passover at the Lord's Supper Jesus commanded the disciples to eat flat bread in remembrance of Him.  Jesus claimed to be the Son of God; yet, he was the most humble man.  He did not puff up with pride, and neither should we.  Each time we partake of the Lord's Supper, we are reminded that He would choose to suffer a bruised body before he would break a promise to mankind.  Matthew 26:25-27Mark 14:21-231 Corinthians 11:23-26 

All Israelites wanted to exit Egypt and abandon bondage, but very few had the mind set for their Godly mission.  The wilderness experience abounds in evidence that they left Egypt for self-serving reasons rather than as servants of the living God.  This failing does not merely represent the nature of the Hebrew, but the nature of all mankind.  

After the exodus from the garden, there was a time that Adam had to wait for the harvest of his labor. The bounty of the garden was cut off from him and he had to produce food by the sweat of his brow.  Yet, Adam believed God that the cursed ground would produce for him.  This was evidence to all that the first man had great confidence in his creator and his offer of a convenant.  If we will hold fast during Unleavened Bread, we will vindicate God and assure our part in the bountiful harvest of both First Fruits and Pentecost.

 

The Sequence of the Spring Festivals

On the 10th of the month (Nisan--March or April) the head of the household was required to take an unblemished one-year old lamb or goat and bring it to the family to get acquainted.  The family would name it and learn to love it.  The patriarch of the family would then slay the lamb on Passover, the 14th of the month.  The family would feast upon the lamb and unleavened bread.   The Feast of Unleavened Bread begins on the 15th and ends on the 21st.

Leviticus 23  When the Israelites entered the Promised Land and reaped a harvest, they were commanded to celebrate the Feasts of First Fruits and Pentecost.  They celebrated First Fruits during the week of Unleavened Bread on the Sunday after the first weekly Sabbath.  They celebrated the bountiful harvest of the land provided by God.  First Fruits marked the beginning of the barley harvest and fifty days later would culminate on Pentecost with the fullness of the wheat harvest.

The day the lamb is named, Passover and the Feast of Unleavened Bread are fixed dates--like your birthday.  They always occur on the 10th, 14th, and 15th-21st of the month of Nisan.   However, First Fruits and Pentecost are more like Thanksgiving (fourth Thursday of November) because they come on a certain day of the week, not a fixed date. 

Thanksgiving centers around the day of the week we know as Thursday.  First Fruits center around the Sabbath because First Fruits occurs on the first day after the first Sabbath during the week of Unleavened Bread.  On First Fruits (always on Sunday), they begin counting the Omer initiating the Feast of Weeks.  The Feast of Weeks consists of seven full weeks ending on Pentecost Sunday.


Spring Feasts as They Describe the Suffering Messiah

Jesus rode into Jerusalem on a donkey and the Jewish people heralded Him as the Messiah while placing palm branches at his feet.  This happened to occur on a Sunday (most assuredly on Nisan 10th) and became known as Palm Sunday by the church.  John 12:12-16 

Many Christians know that Jesus was the sacrificial lamb offered during Passover.  John 1:26-37  Some Christians even recognize that Jesus was resurrected on First Fruits.  1 Corinthians 15:19-24   After His resurrection on the first Sunday after the first Sabbath during the week of the Festival of Unleavened Bread (First Fruits), Jesus had to ascend to the Father to be presented as an acceptable First Fruit sacrifice.  This explains why he told Mary (John 20:17) not to touch Him or hold onto Him because he needed to ascend to the Father.  After He presented Himself to the Father and was received as the First Fruits of the dead, many of the believers touched Him including Thomas.  This was a glorious event because they knew that in His resurrection, our resurrection is made sure. 

Very few Christians understand how the day of Pentecost in Acts 1 is deeply rooted in Judaism.  Pentecost, also known as Ingathering, is celebrated fifty days after First Fruits.  Counting the Omer begins with First Fruits (always a Sunday) and is called the Feast of Weeks because it consists of seven full weeks.  Pentecost is celebrated on the Sunday after the Sabbath which falls on the 49th day.  Petecost is the fiftieth day when counting the omer.

Counting the omer is celebrated because the mannah fell on everyday of the week but the Sabbath.  Each day they were to gather an omer of mannah except for Friday.  On Friday they gathered two omers of mannah so they could celebrate the Sabbath as a day of rest.  Counting the omer has a built in reminder of our rest in Christ.  Every seventh day you would remember that God is your provision and your eternal rest.

It was on Pentecost that the church received the outpouring of the Holy Spirit and God's law was written on their hearts.  The one hundred twenty men and women in the upper room had a mountaintop experience similar to the one Moses had.  After spending fifty days on the mountain top Moses also received God's law, but on tablets of stone.  God desires to do more than write his laws on stone.  He wants to write His laws on circumcised hearts of flesh that have had the stony part removed.  On Pentecost after the ressurrection of Christ, the men and women in the upper room were changed when the ascended Word of God began to dwell within their hearts through the Holy Spirit as He had promise.  John 14

Pentecost is the fullness of the wheat harvest and the church reaped a great harvest of 3,000 believers on the day of Pentecost.  Jesus was the promised seed of Abraham that fell to the ground and died, but produced many seeds.  John 12:23-26  The world was determined to deny and disregard Him, yet many from all walks of life became willing to forsake everything and follow Him to the cross.  As a result of their great faith and complete commitment, the end of the ages will deliver the ultimate harvest.   Matthew 13:39   

The believers in the upper room were to Christ what seed wheat is to the farmer.   After Pentecost the disciples were changed individuals.  They were no longer timid and confused, but bold and confident.  They, like Jesus, were willing to fall to the ground and die.  Many of them did and many more through the ages have done the same.  What was the end result?  Look around you.  Who would have thought that a little Jewish boy from Nazareth would have impacted the world the way He did.  Many have died so others might live.  This is the spirit of all believers in God before Christianity was born and had a name. 

 

Spring Festivals and the Final Harvest

The early church and all believers that followed after them are the seed of the last day harvest of believers.  I like the notion of a pre-tribulation rapture, but the Bible seems to insist that God has another plan.  I believe the last day church will have the same work that the early church had and will also be anointed with the same power, but to a greater degree.  Why will the last day church receive more?  More will be required. 

Many believers in the last days will become like the world since they are always learning, but never coming to the knowledge of the truth.  2 Timothy 3:7  I believe this failing in the church is parallel to the failing of Israel who failed to find Jesus in the festivals of God.  I believe the church is invited to receive a better understanding of the ministry of Christ as our great high priest by studying these feasts and festivals.  If it is true that we can learn more about the second coming of Jesus through the feasts and festivals, then the book of Revelation should make mention of them.

One of the spring festivals celebrated by Israel is mentioned by name in Revelation.  It is the spring festival of First Fruits celebrated in the midst of the week of Unleavened Bread.  The order of the spring festivals begins with the choosing of the Lamb on Nisan 10 → Passover on Nisan 14 → followed by the week of Unleavened Bread beginning Nisan 15 to Nisan 21.  During that week, on Sunday (the day after the first Sabbath during Unleavened Bread) they celebrate First Fruits (the barley harvest).  On First Fruits they began counting the omer and celebrate Pentecost (the wheat harvest) fifty days later on a Sunday. 

In Revelation 14:4 the 144,000 are redeemed from among men being firstfruits to God and to the Lamb.  This passage mentions First Fruits by name as a clue to the mysterious last-day language in Revelation.  If there is a final First Fruits, then it must fall within the midst of the week of Unleavened Bread which must be preceded by a Passover.  It is clear to me that we can look for these events and the other spring holy days with a certain expectation.  When we find them, the mysterious last day language of Revelation will begin to reveal greater truth to the final generation.

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