Today we will continue to look at Old Testament types, shadows, and illustrations by beginning to discuss the feasts/festivals celebrated by the nation of Israel. Because there is so much to talk about here (my lesson today was almost double the length of my usual lessons!), I’m going to break these up into separate posts for each major feast. Today, in this post, I’ll introduce the feasts and discuss how they fit in Israel’s history and on their calendar. Tomorrow we’ll look at Passover, including the Feast of Unleavened Bread and the Sheaf of Firstfruits. Then the following post will discuss the Feast of Weeks and Pentecost. The final post in this little series-within-a-series will take a look at the Feast of Tabernacles, including the Feast of Trumpets, the Day of Atonement, and the actual Feast of Tabernacles.
Before you can gain an understanding of how the Feasts of Israel foreshadowed and illustrate New Testament events, you have to understand how the feasts were structured and the role they played in the history of the nation. The structure of the feasts themselves is not hard to understand – there were truly 3 major feasts that the people of Israel participated in, with some minor sub-feasts (so to speak) being a part of the major ones. These feasts were:
- The Feast of Passover
The Passover feast was really made up of 3 feasts – Passover, the Feast of Unleavened Bread, and the Sheaf of Firstfruits.
- The Feast of Weeks
The Feast of Weeks stood on it’s own, and was also called Pentecost.
- The Feast of Tabernacles
The Feast of Tabernacles was made up of 3 feasts – the Feast of Trumpets, the Day of Atonement, and the Feast of Tabernacles itself. This feast is also known as the Feast of Booths.
The formal worship of the nation of Israel revolved around these 3 major festivals. When the Israelites left the slavery of Egypt, the Lord gave them a new calendar. He then prescribed the feasts and set every detail in place in relation to this new calendar (see Leviticus 23). Check out the image below of the Jewish Calendar with the festivals listed (with Hanukkah added…).
As you can see, Passover occurred in the first month, actually starting on the 14th day of that month. We’ll see in tomorrow’s post that preparation for this feast began a few days prior to that. The Feast of Weeks, or Pentecost, fell in the third month. God told the people, “From the day after the Sabbath, the day you brought the sheaf of the wave offering, count off seven full weeks. Count off fifty days up to the day after the seventh Sabbath, and then present an offering of new grain to the LORD” (Leviticus 23:15-16). The word Pentecost means “fifty” in Greek, so it’s easy to see where it got this name. The final feast we’ll look at is the feast of Tabernacles, which was celebrated in the 7th month.