You may have heard about the Jewish Feasts, the Biblical Holidays, or the Feasts of the Lord. Perhaps a friend has brought them up and sparked your curiosity. What are these days? As a Christian, you may wonder, why should I care about the Jewish feasts?
Join me today as we take a brief look at the feasts that occur in the fall and what we as Christians can discover about them.
For Christians (and English speakers generally), the word feast can be confusing because in our vocabulary it means a large, festive meal. But what did it mean to the people living in biblical times?
In the Old Testament, according to Strong’s Concordance (#4150), feast in Hebrew means:
In the New Testament, according to Strong’s Concordance (#1859), feast in Greek means:
So, when we see a biblical reference to a “feast,” we can understand this to mean a special timely gathering, in the form of an annual holy observance or festival.
The first mention of feasts in the Bible is in Genesis 1:14. The same Hebrew word which translates in this verse as seasons is later translated as feasts.
Then God said, “Let there be lights in the firmament of the heavens to divide the day from the night; and let them be for signs and seasons, and for days and years;” Genesis 1:14 NKJV
This helps us to see that from the beginning of time, the Lord had planned for regular times for assemblies or holy days. It is not until Exodus that the Lord lays out the biblical holy days or biblical feasts.
Before delivering the children of Israel out of Egypt, God gives them a new calendar.
Now the LORD spoke to Moses and Aaron in the land of Egypt, saying, “This month shall be your beginning of months; it shall be the first month of the year to you.” Exodus 12:1-2 NKJV
Once the biblical calendar was in place, each month began with a new moon. From the new moon, the days were counted to mark the start of the holy day. Each biblical holiday began and ended at sunset.
Then the LORD spoke to Moses, saying, “Speak to the children of Israel, saying: ‘In the seventh month, on the first day of the month’” Leviticus 23:23-24 NKJV
In addition to the new calendar, the Lord also gave instructions for times of assembly, or the feasts. In Leviticus 23, we see eight holy days set up which take place throughout the year.
Passover – Leviticus 23:4-5
Unleavened Bread – Leviticus 23:6-8
First Fruits – Leviticus 23:9-14
Pentecost – Leviticus 23:15-22
Trumpets – Leviticus 23:23-25
Day of Atonement – Leviticus 23:26-32
Tabernacles – Leviticus 23:33-44
Later, during the time of Esther, the holiday of Purim was added to the biblical feasts. Purim is celebrated in the early spring. Esther 9:23-28
Finally, the last feast was added by means of tradition, through repeated observance. Between the last events of the Old Testament, the rebuilding of the walls and gates of Jerusalem, and the birth announcement of John, the Feast of Dedication was established. John 10:10 The feast of Dedication is also known as the Feast of Lights or Hanukah, and it is celebrated during the winter.
In the New Testament, we see that Jesus celebrated the biblical feasts.
His parents went to Jerusalem every year at the Feast of the Passover. And when He was twelve years old, they went up to Jerusalem according to the custom of the feast. Luke 2:41-42 NKJV
Later in the New Testament, we see Paul keeping the feasts.
…but took leave of them, saying, “I must by all means keep this coming feast in Jerusalem; but I will return again to you, God willing.” And he sailed from Ephesus. Acts 18:21 NKJV
Today, we follow the Gregorian calendar not the Hebrew calendar found in the Bible. The biblical calendar is a lunar/solar calendar having 365 days, and periodic leap months, so the holidays will be on different dates each year from our modern solar calendar.
Based on the biblical calendar outlined above, we can see that three of the biblical feasts take place in the fall. When will these feasts be celebrated in 2019, and what is being commemorated for each holy day?
The biblical feasts and holy days were set aside by God to meet with His people. Each feast has a two-fold purpose:
First, to remember the past and how God moved on behalf of His people. This is a great way to teach the next generation the biblical stories.
Second, it is a chance to grow in the faith, to look at people from history and learn from them.
Today, let’s look at the fall holidays and see what we can remember, and how we can grow.
September 30 to October 1, 2019
The Feast of Trumpets is the first of the fall feasts and is a time in which trumpets are blown during the celebration. This is a two-day celebration and begins the ten-day count down to the Day of Atonement. Today many people use these ten days to repair broken relationships and repent before the Lord.
Is there a relationship in your life that could use some repair? Use these upcoming days to move toward restoring those relationships.
October 9, 2019
The Day of Atonement was the one day of the year the High Priest would enter the Holy of Holies to make atonement for himself and the people. Today, many fast on this day and remember the mighty work Jesus did as our High Priest. Leviticus 23:26-32 Hebrews 9:11-12
One can only be thankful for what Jesus has done for us. As I look at this day each year, I am prompted to repent of the sins I have committed and thank the Lord for His atonement.
October 14-20, 2019
The last of the fall feasts is the Feast of Tabernacles. During this seven-day celebration, families eat their meals in temporary tents or tabernacles to remember how the children of Israel lived in tents after leaving Egypt. Part of this celebration involves gathering branches and fruit to celebrate the end of the harvest. Leviticus 23:33-36
The Lord has taken us all on a journey from bondage to sin (like Egypt) to freedom! How can we remember and celebrate this wonderful deliverance?
The study of the biblical feasts and holy days helps us to understand many passages in the Bible and it is worth the time invested to learn about them.
Today, as Christians, we can look at these feasts also as a time to remember God’s mighty works of the past, and as a time to grow in our faith.
Be encouraged because one day the last trumpet will sound and the dead will rise. I Corinthians 15:52
Be thankful that Jesus is our High Priest and gave His blood as an atonement for us. Hebrews 9:11-12
Look forward to the day when God will once again tabernacle among His people. Revelation 21:3
If you want to learn more about the feasts, I recommend our Biblical Feasts and Holy Days study that will introduce you to each feast. If you would like to discover when these holidays will occur next year, see our 2020 Biblical Calendar.
What questions do you have about the feasts?
Have you ever celebrated one of the feasts, and if so, what is one thing you discovered?