Birgit Barandica E., April 2009
The Jewish or biblical feasts are not really "Jewish", but they are THE FEASTS OF LORD - read Leviticus 23:2, "Speak to the Israelites and say to them: 'These are my appointed feasts, the appointed feasts of the LORD, which you are to proclaim as sacred assemblies" (NIV).
Each one of the feasts is a so-called "moed" (pronounciation 'mo-ed', moedim in the plural), as it is said in Hebraic, the original language of the Old Testament. A "moed" is an appointed time.
This means that on those days, we are having an appointment with God! Appointments usually are pleasant events. And if we bear in mind how often it is said in the Bible that we are to rejoice, that many gatherings for God take place with music in which people celebrate singing, dancing, cheering, then with the best of my intentions, I cannot imagine why some people think that these feasts as boring!
Therefore, we are not to work or do other things in those times, in order to be able to concentrate fully on God and His presence - to hear, sing, dance, pray His word, worship Him, and also eat and drink - in order to rejoice in Him with undevided attention! With the exception of Yom Kippur, which is an atonement feast marked by repentence and fast. But even there it gets joyful when it comes to God's grace and mercy for us!
If we have an appointment with a friend, we wouldn't go and take our chores with us doing them at the coffeetable, right? :) It would be a big disrespect toward that friend, wouldn't it?
So, almost all feasts are characterized in that they are principally about hope, salvation, renewal and forgiveness. They are about God's thoughts of salvation for us and this is truly a reason to rejoice!
Most of the feasts are accompanied by traditional food. For a long time already, the Jews say to each other: "They have tried to kill us. God has rescued us. Let's eat!"
Curiosity of the Jewish calendar:
The Jewish Calendar has to be looked at from two sides: on one hand, you have the civil Calendar that begins in the fall month of Tischrei with Rosh HaShana, the feast of the Jewish New Year. This corresponds with the seventh month according to the religious calendar that begins in the spring month of Nissan, in which the Pessach festival is being held.
This "double calendar" came about because many months' names were taken during the Babylonian captivity from the language spoken there. Before that, in most cases the months were referred to as "first month, fourth month", etc. You'll see more details as to how the Jewish calendar is built up in the respective link mentioned in the previous paragraph.
What did God introduce these feasts for?
God is a God of joy - not for nothing He tells us in different parts of His Word that we are to rejoice. This is best done while celebrating feasts! And on the other hand, the Jewish feasts remind God's people every year of how God provids, leads and heals. Also Jesus, the apostles and the first church celebrated these feasts (Luke 2:41 f; Matthew 26:17 f; John 7; Acts 2:1). All believers were Jewish back then, and those who weren't, were 'grafted in' - read about this in more details here. They are all foreshadows of God's salvation plan and of Jesus as Israel's Messiah, from His death to the formation of the Messianic Kingdom.
Which are the feasts?
Shabbat is a weekly celebrated feast. Then there are the seven yearly biblical feasts, of which the first four are the so-called spring festivals - Pessach (commemorating the redemption of the Israelites from slavery in Egypt, pointing to the redemption, salvation of the whole world in Jesus), unleavened bread (which is part of Pessach - Jesus being the "bread of life", John 6:35), First Fruits (Jesus being the first of many, Romans 8:29) and Shavuot (first coming of the Holy Spirit). They were all fulfilled by the first coming of Jeshua ha'Mashiach (Jesus Christ), His crucifixion and resurrection. Similarly to celebrating a birthday, we celebrate these four festivals commemorating the first steps of God's redemption plan for us that have already taken place.
Millenium, in which Jesus will reign here on earth: "Now the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them" (Revelation 21:3) - a time of absolute peace! So we celebrate with a rejoicing expectancy. I think it is absolutely amazing to wait upon the return of Jesus, celebrating!
So we can assume that also the last three feasts, the autumn feasts, which are the foreshadows of the return of Jeshua and his reign, will be fulfilled: Rosh ha'Shana, which is actually Yom Teruah, the feast of the trumpets (those 'trumpets' are in fact Shofars, ram's horns) - it is the beginning of a new era and points to Jeshua's return (1Thessalonians 4:16). Then Yom Kippur, the feast of atonement, pointing to the redemption of the people of Israel (Romans 11:26). And last but not least Sukkot, the feast of Tabernacles, pointing to the
All feasts, apart from Purim and Hanukka, are God's instructions mentioned in Torah [the Torah consists of the 5 books written by Moses - Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy; it is the first and most important part of the Tenakh, the Hebrew Bible, known as the Old Testament or First Covenant. The Tenakh consists of three parts: Torah (learning, instruction), Nevi'im (Prophets) and Ketuvim (Scriptures)]. However, also the two above mentioned feasts have their biblical foundation: Purim refers to the redemption of the Jewish people as described in the book of Esther, and Hanukka, the feast of lights, refers to the re-dedication of the second Temple after the uprising of the Maccabees, as mentioned in the books of Maccabees (apocryphal) and also in Talmud (rabbinic scriptures next to Tenakh).
There are three main feasts which are pilgrimage festivals - Pessach, Shavuot and Sukkot, at which believers from everywhere, even abroad, went to Jerusalem to the Temple on Mount Zion back then, sacrificing. Although there is no sacrificing anymore since the destruction of the Temple in the year 70 AD by the Romans, believers are still pilgrimaging by the thousands to Jersualem from all over the world, and in the meantime, more and more Christians are joing them. Especially on Sukkot, group tours are being organized in many countries by Christians who then participate in the traditional parades through the streets, thus showing their solidarity with the Jews and Israel. They, in turn, begin to slowly show some sympathy toward Christians, which in the course of history had suffered so badly.
Feasts outside the Bible:
Next to the biblical feasts there are also civilian feasts such as Yom haShoa (Holocaust Remembrance Day), Yom Yerushalayim (Jerusalem Day), Yom haAtzma'ut (Independence Day), Tu b'Shevat (New Year for trees) and some others.
Now what about the 'Christian' feasts?
The traditionally Christian feasts, hoewever, are not being mentioned in the Bible at all. The articles on Christmas specify on this; they not only deal with the subject of Christmas, but also with this topic in general. A thorough observation of the historic development of the tradionally Christian feasts makes it clear that the Christian faith had been cut off its roots at some point in history. A dangerous development. It led to the so-called Replacement Theology that says that Christianity had replaced the Jews as being God's people. Which is a complete lie that in turn had provoked a lot of misery during history - pogroms and persecutions of Jews, which found its climax in this disgusting Holocaust. Yet a new dangerous Antisemistism is creeping in the world again...
Yet also Christians were perseuted. Just think of this desastrous persecution of Christians who got baptized by faith (and not as babies) und others. Very often, fights like those among Christians led to sinister separations and even schisms - up to today.
Yet God is merciful. In these times now, He is giving a clear awareness of the truth to individual believers the same as whole congregations worldwide. This is why more and more Christians everywhere are finding their way back to their Jewish/Hebraic roots. Ludwig Schneider, founder of Israel Today, once said that with this, the circle of the salvation history is closing.
Here you can find a detailed elaboration on biblical feasts and other related subjects.
Curt Landry, pastor of a Messianic church in Oklahoma/USA, supports several projects in Israel with his ministry "House of David". In the article we read: "Landry teaches that Jews and Gentiles, who pray together, will see signs and wonders. "House of David" gathers together each Friday, holding Shabbat the same as all seven biblical feasts. By far not all Christians can accept the holding of biblical feasts. "It is a battle. Many reproach us for being legalistic," says Landry. "But this is not so. It is about our relation with the Lord. and this is an eternal covenant. The Bible at no point tells us to hold the feasts until a certain time and then stop with it. It has nothing to do with salvation. It has to do with the blessing that flows when holding the feasts at their respective times."