What are the Feasts of the Lord?
There are seven Feasts of the Lord that occur each year, starting in the Spring and ending in the Fall. They are based off of the lunar calendar, so the exact dates change each year. In order, they are: Passover, Unleavened Bread, First Fruits, Pentecost, Rosh HaShanah, Yom Kippur, Tabernacles
Where are they mentioned in Scripture?
The Feasts are most concisely laid out in Leviticus 23. The dates and Old Testament regulations were given to the Israelites at that time. However, there are MANY scripture references, both Old and New Testament, and here are a few:
Passover: Exodus 12, Exodus 13:7, Lev. 23: 4-8, Numbers 9:9-11, Deut. 16:1-8, Joshua 5:10-12, 2 Kings 23:22, Ezra 6:19, Isaiah 53:7, Matthew 16:6 Mark 14:12-25, John 1:29, John 11: 55, John 13, Luke 2:41-48, Luke 22, 1 Corinthians 5:6-8
Unleavened Bread: Lev 23:4-8, Proverbs 3:9-10, 2 Chronicles 30:21, Deut. 16:16, Matthew 16:6, Mark 8:15, Romans 11:16, 1 Corinthians 5:6-8
First Fruits: Lev 23:9-14, Deut. 26:5-10, Romans 8:23, Romans 11:16, 1 Corinthians 5:6-8, James 1:18
Pentecost: Lev. 23: 15-22, Deut. 16:9-12 and 16, Deut 25:5-10, Exodus 16, Exodus 23:16, Numbers 28:26, Acts 2:1-6, Acts 20:16, 1 Corinthians 16:8
Rosh HaShanah: Exodus 19:16, Lev. 23:23-25, Isaiah 18:3, Isaiah 27:13, Nehemiah 8: 1-10, Zechariah 9:14, 1 Corinthians 15:51-52, 1 Thessalonians 4:15-17
Yom Kippur: Lev. 16:4, Lev. 17:11, Lev. 23: 26-32, Isaiah 27:13, Zechariah 9:14, Matthew 24:31, Matthew 26:28, John 6:54, Acts 27:9, Hebrews 5:1-6, Hebrews 9:12 and 22, 1 Thessalonians 5:1-6, 1 John 1:7
Tabernacles: Lev 23: 33-43, Deut. 16:13-17, Deut. 31:10-13, Nehemiah 8:16, Zechariah 14:16-17, Matthew 13:39, John 7, 8, and 9
Why was I never taught about the Feasts in my church?
This is a loaded question. The short answer is that after the Great Comission, the fall of the Temple in 70 A.D., and the subsequent dispersion of the people, the Early Christian church DID celebrate the Feasts. However, due to anti-Semitism and the rejection of anything that was perceived to be “Jewish” in nature by the Church Universal (particularly during the time of Constantine and then the Dark Ages), generations of Christians were raised in churches having never been taught the rich truths that are found in the Feasts. We established a routine of Christian holidays (Christmas and Lent/Easter) that were created by Constantine and have only shadows of the Feasts left in them. God is slowly beginning to place a curiosity about the Feasts back into the hearts of Believers, and many churches today are now celebrating the Feasts.
Why do we celebrate them?
For those that have never even heard of the Feasts, it might seem like a bit of overkill to tack on extra holidays to the year when you already celebrate Christmas and Easter. However, there really is no comparison between the messages of the Feasts and the customs and stories that we attribute to the traditional religious holidays in the Christian faith.
As you begin to study the Feasts, the Scriptures truly come alive! The timeline of Jesus’ birth, life, ministry, crucifixion, resurrection and ascension take on a totally new dimension when you line them up with the chronology of the celebrations that were occurring at those times! Passages come alive, parables take on completely new meaning and revelation, and you realize how detailed and specific God was (and is) when it comes to the timeline for His Church and His return!
When you start to study Scripture in light of the Feasts and their symbolism and prophetic meanings, passages and phrases that seemed obscure or completely random will start to make complete sense in light of the Feast Cycle. The entire Gospel message is laid out in order in the Feast cycle: salvation, sanctification and new life (and the process of learning to be His disciple and taking up your cross), the baptism of the Holy Spirit for empowerment to be His witness, how to overcome burnout and experience true repentence and restoration, how to find deliverance and freedom from life-long struggles and oppression, the judgments and mercies of God, and finally the end of days and the return of Christ. If you know the order the of Feasts, you can understand and explain the process of salvation from beginning to end!
Please know that the Feasts are not necessary for your Salvation; that comes only through belief in Jesus as God’s only Son. He always has been and always will be the only way to see the Father and enter into Heaven. However, by understanding God’s timeline and symbolisms in the Feasts, it will make your faith come alive and take shape and form like never before!
Do I have to be Jewish (or become Jewish) to celebrate them?
Nope! You do not need to convert to Judaism, nor do you need to be Jewish to celebrate the Feasts. These Celebrations are referred to as “The feasts of the Lord” throughout the Old Testament. So although God gave them to the Jewish people as a blessing to explain the salvation message of the Messiah, they are for ALL of God’s people, to help us better understand scripture, to explain God’s timeline, and to help us walk out our salvation day to day and season to season.
How can I start celebrating the Feasts in my own life?
So glad you asked! It’s really not as hard as we like to make it! However, each Feast is a re-telling, a rehearsal for greater things to come, so the the first step in deciding to celebrate the fullness of the Feasts in your own life is to accept Jesus Christ as your Savior. Otherwise, the Feasts are just another holiday with interesting spiritual and historical attributes. Once you’ve made that decision in your heart, then start studying about each individual Feast – when and how it is typically celebrated. Gather your materials and…just do it! Invite your friends and family to share in the lessons, even if it feels awkward and totally confusing at first. It will be a little bit like learning to walk; you’ll stumble and fumble through it. However, don’t let the details weigh you down – embrace the Spirit of the Feasts, not the law of their keeping. God is after the heart, not the actions, so who cares if things are mispronounced (and you will!) or if you forget things!?!?! Enjoy the process of the celebration and the way your faith comes alive with each retelling and remembrance!
What about Hanukkah and Purim?
These two celebrations, though rich with Spiritual meaning, are considered Feasts of the People. They commemorate historical events in the history of Israel, both of which were miraculous and supernatural. However, they are not included in the seven Feasts of the Lord, as described in Leviticus 23.