How is the meaning of each of the Jewish feasts fulfilled in Jesus?From the beginning, God has desired to have relationship with people. Throughout history, He established avenues for this. One way He instructed the Hebrew people is through feasts. The word moadim in Hebrew is usually translated feast, but literally means "appointed times."
The Jewish feasts were arranged in such a way as to remind the Jewish people of God and His ways, but to also point to a Messiah, a Savior. That promised One is Jesus.
In Leviticus 23, God speaks to Moses about seven feasts. Observant Jews still celebrate them now.
Four feasts occur in the spring and are connected to Jesus' first appearance on earth. They are: Passover, Unleavened Bread, First Fruits, and Weeks. Three feasts in the fall are bunched into fifteen days. Scholars and theologians believe the symbolism of these feasts will be literally fulfilled in connection with Jesus' second coming. They are the Trumpets, the Day of Atonement, and Tabernacles.
Here's how all seven feasts, described in Leviticus 23, are connected with Jesus.
Passover points to Jesus as the Passover lamb (1 Corinthians 5:7). The perfect lamb's blood was spilled to protect the Hebrews from the tenth plague prior to their release from Egypt. Jesus' blood serves as our covering against the justice brought against us due to our sin. Jesus was crucified on the day the Jews slaughtered lambs in preparation for Passover the next day.
The Unleavened Bread describes Jesus' sinless life. Leaven is symbolic of sin throughout the Bible. Jesus was without sin and therefore a blameless, spotless, perfect sacrifice for our sins. Jesus' body remained in the grave during the beginning days of this feast. He, like a planted seed, would resurrect into new life.
Jesus was resurrected on the day of First Fruits, becoming the first to defeat death and offer us new life. This is one reason Paul refers to Jesus as the "firstfruits" of the dead (1 Corinthians 15:20).
Fifty days after the beginning of the Feast of Unleavened Bread is the Feast of Weeks, or Pentecost. Several sacrifices were made during the Weeks Festival, which is tied to the theme of harvest. It was at Pentecost (Acts 2) that Jesus sent the Holy Spirit. Peter preached and about 3,000 Jews responded to his proclamation of the gospel. This Pentecost is considered to be the birth of the church.
The Feast of Trumpets, or Rosh Hashanah, is the first fall feast. Many connect this to the rapture, when Jesus appears as He returns for the Church (1 Thessalonians 4:13–18; 1 Corinthians 15:52), as it is announced by the blast of a trumpet. The trumpet reminded the Jewish people of their past, such as God's giving of the Law on Mt. Sinai (Exodus 20). It was a reminder of God's power and, as the start of a new religious year, meant to remind the people to remain faithful to God. The feast is also associated with God's coming judgment.
Also in the fall, the Day of Atonement is when the Jewish remnant is to look upon the One they pierced, repent of their sins, and receive Him as their Messiah as foretold in Zechariah 12:10 and Romans 11:1–6, 25–36. Jesus has already made atonement for believers (Jew and Gentile alike) on the cross. Many believe this festival points prophetically to Jesus' second coming when atonement is fully realized and the Jewish remnant recognizes Jesus as Messiah.
The seventh festival, the Feast of Tabernacles or Booths foreshadows when Jesus will once again dwell with His people (Michal 4:1–7). Jesus has already come as Immanuel, God with us, and dwelled on earth among people. But He will come to reign for 1,000 years on earth and ultimately live with His people for all eternity in the new heavens and new earth.
Some Messianic Jews (those who believe Jesus is the foretold Messiah) celebrate these festivals today. Should everyone? Paul instructs us to follow our convictions in Colossians 2:16–17 and not judge those who do or do not practice the religious festivals. Certainly studying the feasts is a beneficial exercise, as they are a shadow of what is fulfilled in Christ, and we are welcome to celebrate these festivals if we choose.
The Feast of Weeks – What is it?
The day of Pentecost – What is it?
The Feast of Trumpets – What is it?
The Feast of Tabernacles – What is it?
How is Jesus the Lamb of God?
Truth about Everything Else