We find all seven of these in chronological order in Leviticus 23. Let’s look at that text:
- The LORD spoke again to Moses, saying, “Speak to the sons of Israel and say to them, ‘The LORD’S appointed times which you shall proclaim as holy convocations – MY appointed times are these: (Lev. 23:1-2 (NASB))
These are the Spring Feast and picture the Lord’s First Coming. They are a type of His death paying for and removing sin, His resurrection and Pentecost.
- Unleavened Bread
- First Fruits
- Pentecost (Shavuot/Weeks)
These are the Fall Feast and picture the Lord’s Second Coming. They picture judgment on the unfaithful Old Covenant (OC) wife, removal of the Old Heavens and Earth, and consummation of the New Heavens and Earth eternal New Covenant Kingdom in the blood and finished redemptive work of Christ. God would gather His faithful people and forever dwell with them.
- Day of Atonement (Yom Kippur)
- Feast of Tabernacle (Booths)
These feasts are clustered according to the rainy season in Israel. Passover, the Feast of Unleavened bread, First fruits, and Pentecost come under a period known as the latter rain. The latter rain brings forth the beginning of the harvest, it comes in the spring. Then you have a four month or 120 day dry season, which I believe represents the building of the Church (bride) between Pentecost and AD 70. This four month period represents the forty year second exodus.
Then we have the former rain that occurs during the end time Feasts of Trumpets, Day of Atonement, and Tabernacles. We will see that these feasts represent the fall of Jerusalem, the end of Old Covenant Israel, and the establishment of the New Heavens and Earth through the blood and complete redemptive work of Christ where God’s tabernacle is now among men.
Hosea explains to us that the latter rain comes first, then the former rain:
“Let us know, Let us pursue the knowledge of the LORD. His going forth is established as the morning; He will come to us like the rain, Like the latter and former rain to the earth.” (Hos. 6:3. NKJV)
These seven feasts of the YHWH represent and typify the sequence, the timing, and significance of the major events of the Lord’s redemptive process. They commence at Calvary, where Jesus voluntarily gave Himself for the sins of the world (Passover), and climax at the consummation of the Messianic Kingdom at the Lord’s Second Coming.
These Seven Feasts depict the entire redemptive career of the Messiah. If you want to study redemption, you have to study the feasts.
These feasts are a study of typology. Biblical typology takes the unity of both covenants, and sees in the Old Covenant (OC) “types,” or “shadows,” or “pictures,” which prefigure something in the New Covenant (NC). These types can be people, places, objects, or events. Typological language in the OC is called a “type” and the counterpart à the reality or fulfillment is called the “antitype.” A type always prefigures something future.
These feasts are prophetic, as they were prophesying to Israel something that was to come in the future where God would send a Messiah to fully accomplish redemption.
As they were rehearsing these year after year, they were seeing a picture of Yahweh and His completed redemptive picture. These were similar in type to our wedding rehearsal. The rehearsal does not marry anyone, they are supposed to prepare everyone for the actual wedding day.
The typology and prophetic scriptures of the OT were all predictive of and fulfilled in Christ. (John 5:39-40, 46-47; Luke 24:25-27, 44; Acts 17:2-3, 18:28)
Colossians 2 gives us several examples of types/shadows and their fulfillments (anti-types). Let us look at this one relative to our study in Colossians 2:16-17:
- Therefore no one is to act as your judge in regard to food or drink or in respect to a festival or a new moon or a Sabbath day – things which are a mere shadow of what is to come; but the substance belongs to Christ. (NASB)(See also Heb. 8:13)
The Greek word used of “festival” here is heorte, which is the normal word used for referring to the “Feasts of Yahweh.” Colossians 2:17 indicates that the Feasts are shadows to teach us about the Messiah.
When we study the Feasts of Yahweh we are in reality studying the Messiah. Each Feast is a prophetic picture of the Messiah:
- Declaring the end from the beginning And from ancient times things which have not been done, Saying, ‘My purpose will be established, And I will accomplish all My good pleasure’; (Isaiah 46:10 NASB)
Each Feast is an announcement to the end. As you understand the Feasts you will begin to see God’s prophetic timeline unfolding, and you will grow deeper in your knowledge of the Messiah. Our endeavors at studying the Feasts should not just leave us with academic knowledge; rather, it should leave us in awe of Yahweh who is forever praised!
Also notice from Colossians that the Feasts are a shadow of things to come. “To come” is from the Greek word mello. The Greek verb “mello” in the infinitive means: “to be about to” (see Thayer, Arndt & Gingrich, New Englishman’s Greek Concordance).
So, at the time of Paul’s writing of Colossians (circa AD 63), the Feasts were still existing shadows, but the realities were “about to” come (be fully consummated in Christ).
Most believers and most Bible teachers see the first four Feasts as being fulfilled in Christ’s First Coming. But they are still looking for the fulfillment of the Fall Feasts in our future. But as mentioned, in Paul’s day all the Feasts were about to become fully consummated/fulfilled:
- For the Law, since it has only a shadow of the good things to come and not the very form of things, can never, by the same sacrifices which they offer continually year by year, make perfect those who draw near. (Heb. 10:1 NASB)
The Law was a shadow. The coming of Christ cast its shadow in the Tanakh (OT scriptures). The purpose of the Law of Moses is to give us a foreshadowing, a pre-figurement, of the person and work of Christ. The old sacrifices were a shadow, never the substance. Shadows aren’t enough. You can’t live in the shadow of a house; you need the actual house. Notice again that the “good things,” the realities to which the shadows pointed, were “about to” come when Paul was writing in the 1st century.
Thomas Hartwell Horne explains in An Introduction to the Critical Study and Knowledge of the Holy Scriptures, a text that was standard reading for British divinity students:
- “A type, in its primary and literal meaning, simply denotes a rough draught, or less accurate model, from which a more perfect image is made; but in the sacred or theological sense of the term, a type may be defined to be a symbol of something future and distant, or an example prepared and evidently designed by God to prefigure that future thing. What is thus prefigured is called the antitype.”
I believe The Seven Annual Feasts, or holy days of God given to Old Covenant Israel, which take place in the first seven months of their agricultural year, were all fulfilled both prophetically, spiritually and in reality in the period from the death of Jesus to the fall of Jerusalem; which equates with the return of Jesus, the end of the Jewish age, and the consummation of the New Heavens and Earth world order and one eternal Kingdom of God in AD 70.
The Feasts have to be viewed in their strategic order from Passover through Tabernacles. The Feasts actually convey two forty year exodus periods. The first exodus period is one familiar to all of us. The nation of Israel was removed from bondage in Egypt at Passover, and they wandered in the wilderness on a 40 year physical journey to a physical promise land (Num. 32:13; Deut. 8:1-2). Now the more important second exodus we are not so familiar with: this exodus runs from the Cross in AD 30 to AD 70. Commencing after the time of Passover was the beginning of this second exodus. Let’s look at the “Mount of Transfiguration” in Luke:
- And while He was praying, the appearance of His face became different, and His clothing became white and gleaming. And behold, two men were talking with Him; and they were Moses and Elijah, who, appearing in glory, were speaking of His departure which He was about to accomplish at Jerusalem. (Luke 9:29-31. NASB)
Moses and Elijah appear on the mountain, and they speak of Jesus’ departure. The word for “departure” is the Greek word exodos. This same word is used in Hebrews 11:22 and translated: “exodus.” There was an exodus that was to begin at the cross and start a second forty year journey. In this second exodus, New Covenant True Israel (all believing Jews/Gentiles), no longer under the condemnation of the Law of Sin and Death (Rom. 8:2), left behind the old Mosaic Covenant and its bondage under the old ceremonies and animal sacrifice system (Gal. 4:3, 9), and began a forty year spiritual journey of maturity in Christ toward their ultimate destination of the heavenly city and country not made with hands, the heavenly realm of the one eternal New Covenant Kingdom and the promised eternal afterlife with God in heaven (Heb. 11:9-10, 13-16).
See also related “Topic Studies & Terms”:
Related full “Study Series” (available upon request if not hyperlinked):
[For a more in-depth study see eschatology “Study Series 8 Lesson 1 God’s Festal Calendar (Spring Feasts)”]
[For a more in-depth study see eschatology “Study Series 8 Lesson 2 God’s Festal Calendar (Fall Feasts)”]
[For a more in-depth study see eschatology “Study Series 16 Lesson 2 Rev. Chapters 5 thru 9”]