The wonder of God's amazing revelation in Scripture is that not only has He spoken directly of His plan for mankind, but that He has also given us some beautiful historical pictures of His plan of redemption embedded within the precepts of the Mosaic Law. The ceremonies, rituals, and prescribed festivals each have priceless insights into the life, work, death and resurrection of the coming Messiah- Jesus Christ. Understanding these prophetic pictures should not just amaze us, they should inform and reassure us that God's plan of redemption through Jesus Christ has unfolded perfectly and will continue to do so.
THE REDEMPTION NATURE OF THE SABBATH...
The Sabbath was a weekly celebration of God's work in creation. God created in six "days" and rested on the seventh. He then commanded that every seventh day people cease from all normal activity and rest. In this respect, the Sabbath was a memorial of what had happened. But it was also a "shadow" of what was to come: the rest that would one day come from the work of the Messiah.
Jesus Christ has now done all of the work necessary for our salvation. Our salvation is not only based entirely upon God's grace (Eph. 2:8-9) it is also based upon the finished work of Christ. The work of salvation is now done, we therefore rest in Christ.
Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.
The Passover was instigated as a ceremony before it was even first celebrated. It is perhaps the clearest picture of God's salvation in the Old Testament. The very object of Egyptian scorn toward the sheep-loving nation of Hebrews, a lamb, was the central emblem of this festival. The night of the tenth plague, when the angel of death passed over Egypt and killed all the firstborn of Egypt who weren't dwelling under blood-stained lintels and doorposts, was the night when God delivered the Hebrews from Egypt.
The symbolism in the Passover is plain. The lamb represents Christ. It had to be young. It had to be pure and without blemish. It had to be totally consumed either by eating or by burning its remains. All of this wonderfully paints a prophetic picture of Christ- a young man, who was sinless and gave His all for mankind. This prophetic picture was fulfilled by Christ on the Cross.
Passover speaks of Christ shedding His blood to redeem His people.
2. FEAST OF UNLEAVENED BREAD
From Passover, Israel was required to keep the "Feast" of Unleavened Bread for one week. During this time they were forbidden from eating leavened bread and were required to eat "bitter" herbs with this bread. This is associated with grieving. The time between Christ's death and resurrection was a time of grief for the first disciples. The time between recognising that Christ has died for us and forsaking sin is an unpleasant time of grief and repentance. A bitter time.
The Feast of Unleavened Bread speaks of time Christ was dead between the Cross and His resurrection.
3. FEAST OF FIRSTFRUITS
The Feast of Firstfruits marked the beginning of the harvest season. The first sheaves of the harvest were to be brought to the priests as an offering to acknowledge that it was God who had blessed them with a harvest.
The Firstfruits of God's Kingdom Harvest was Christ. When He rose from the dead He became the Firstfruits of the Harvest of the Resurrection of the redeemed lives that God would have.
But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep.
The Feast of Firstfruits speaks of the Resurrection of Christ.
4. THE FEAST OF PENTECOST
The Feast of Pentecost (or the Feast of "Weeks") marked 50 days from the Feast of Firstfruits. It marked the time when the fruit of, and the products resulting from, the Harvest were celebrated. It was this Feast that required leavened bread to be used. In this sense, leavened bread speaks of celebration rather than the way unleavened bread speaks of deprivation in the Feast of Unleavened Bread. Leaven also refers to gentiles, corruption, or sin. The priest was required to take two loaves of leavened bread and wave them together so that they appeared to become one loaf.
Pentecost found its prophetic fulfilment on the day Christ poured out His Spirit and birthed the Church. On that day, both Jew and Gentile became one in Christ by His Spirit.
Together as one body, Christ reconciled both groups to God by means of his death, and our hostility toward each other was put to death...
Now all of us, both Jews and Gentiles, may come to the Father through the same Holy Spirit because of what Christ has done for us.
So now you Gentiles are no longer strangers and foreigners. You are citizens along with all of God’s holy people. You are members of God’s family.
Ephesians 2:16, 18-19 NLT
Pentecost was the next day after seven Sabbaths from the Feast of Firstfruits. This means that it fell on a Sunday (the same day as the day of Christ's Resurrection). Hence, the Church was birthed on a Sunday and has been honouring that day ever since as the "Lord's Day" (Rev. 1:10).
The Feast of Pentecost therefore speaks of Christ pouring His Spirit out into the hearts of the redeemed to make one new people.
5. FEAST OF TRUMPETS
The Feast of Trumpets was the day trumpets were to be blasted througout the land to proclaim a special time of rest in which no work was to be done. This speaks of Gospel proclamation where the Church announces to the world that now is the day of salvation where everyone is called to come to Christ to find rest for their souls. In the immediate sense, the prophetic fulfilment of this Feast finds its fulfilment in the period from Pentecost to the Close of the Old Covenant with the destruction of the Temple in AD70.
We are living in the prophetic implications of the Feast of Trumpets where the Gospel of Jesus Christ is now being proclaimed.
6. DAY OF ATONEMENT
The Day of Atonement involved two goats being presented to the High Priest in the tabernacle where he could cast lots between them to determine which one should be sacrificed and which one should be freed.
This is a picture of God's Judgment. When God judges, only those who are in Christ can be freed. In its immediate prophetic sense it speaks of Christ being judged as the Messiah of Israel and bearing the penalty for their sin. When God came and brought the Old Covenant to an end in 70AD with the destruction of the Temple, the abolition of the Levitical Priesthood and sacrificial system, the Day of Atonement was fulfilled. Ultimately it will find its fulfilment on the Day of Judgment (referred to as the "Last Day" in Scripture).
The one who rejects me and does not receive my words has a judge; the word that I have spoken will judge him on the last day.
7. THE FEAST OF TABERNACLES
The Feast of Tabernacles (or "Booths") was a time of celebrating the transition of Israel from Egypt to the Promised Land when Israel had yet built houses but dwelt in tents instead.
The Feast of Tabernacles speaks of our time of transition between this life where we dwell in bodies that are subject to the law of decay, and the time when we will be resurrected to possess our new immortal bodies.
For we know that if our earthly house of this tabernacle were dissolved, we have a building of God, an house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens.
The Feast of Tabernacles speaks of the Resurrection Day which will conclude time, as we now know it. Since the first five feasts have been fulfilled so accurately, we can be assured that the remaining two, with their prophetic implications, will similarly be fulfilled. The next great event on God's prophetic time-table is the fulfilment of what the Day of Atonement foreshadowed: the Day of Judgment which will coincide with the final feast's prophetic fulfilment: the Feast of Tabernacles.
And I heard a great voice out of heaven saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God.
Revelation 21:3 KJV
Andrew Corbett, 30th March 2007
Dr. Andrew Corbett, Legana, Tasmania, Australia