The seven festivals of the Lord

Fredi Winkler

In Leviticus 23, God ordained seven festivals for the Israelites through Moses. They were to be celebrated at certain times of the year. Some Christians believe that they have to observe them as well. However, it is clearly written that these festivals are intended for Israel, to continually remind the people of the great works that God has done for them. Of course, it’s important for Christians to remember these great deeds of God, but the festivals themselves don’t have the same significance and meaning for them that they do for Israel.

The first three festivals of the Lord occur in the spring of each annual cycle, beginning with Pesach (Passover), the festival during which Jesus was crucified. In this respect, the festivals ordained by God for the people of Israel received a profound and eternal meaning in Jesus. Then before the three autumn feasts comes Pentecost (Shavuot, “Festival of Weeks”). It was during this celebration that the Church of Jesus was born, so to speak, through the outpouring of the Holy Spirit.

Through perfect prophetic fulfillment in Christ, the springtime festivals have received a deep eternal meaning. The prophetic fulfillment of the autumn celebrations still lies in the future, but they will likewise find their prophetic fulfillment in Jesus.

The first of the three fall festivals is called Rosh Hashanah by Jews today, but in the Bible this day is actually called Zichron Teruah, which means “trumpet call of commemoration.”

Of the seven festivals of the Lord, this is the only one of which nothing is said of its significance. Later in Judaism, the day was called Rosh Hashanah (“head of the year”) or New Year’s Day, although the Jewish year actually begins in the spring, according to the Biblical year cycle.

This day remains a mystery through the present day. It can be compared to the day of which Jesus said, “But concerning that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father only” (Matt 24:36, ESV).

From a biblical perspective, we’re living in the autumn of human history today. Although Jesus has said that no one knows the day or hour, in the preceding verses He has urged us to pay attention to the signs of the times. When Jesus came as Israel’s promised Messiah, those in Israel who were able to read and were familiar with the Scriptures ignored the prophecies concerning His coming. They had their own ideas of the Messiah’s return and neglected the statements of Scripture. Only a small remnant was still awaiting His appearance.

What is it like in the “Christian world” today? We’ve heard somewhere that Jesus will come again, but we’re nevertheless concerned with the worries of this life. Jesus had warned against precisely this.

If the biblical festivals of the Lord (which now begin with the day of trumpet blasts in autumn) have something to tell us, it’s to remind us that the Lord is coming again. The Lord wanted to convey this in the parable in which He said, “…be like men who are waiting for their master to come home from the wedding feast, so that they may open the door to him at once when he comes and knocks” (cf. Luke 12:35-40). Our life as Christians should be a hopeful waiting for the Lord.

Joined in this waiting for Him, I greet you cordially with Shalom.

News from Israel - 09/2019

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