The Feasts of the Lord are called Mo'edim in the Hebrew language.
Mo'edim is plural for mo'ed, which means appointment.
So Mo'edim are Appointments ... with the Sovereign Lord.
These Feast days are not Jewish in an ethnic sense, nor are they Christian in a religio-cultural sense. (Actually, the so-called Christian feasts are more cultural than biblical, having their calendar days derived from paganism, together with hosts of details observed in the church and popular celebrations.)
The Feasts of the Lord are divine in a Biblical sense and therefore eternal and universal.
Many people think of them as seven feasts, ranging from Passover to Tabernacles.
Others think of them as three seasons: the Spring Festivals, the Summer Festival and the Autumn Festivals.
Within the Spring Festival Season, there are three mo'edim: the Day of Passover, the Week of Unleavened Bread and the Feast of Firstfruits on the day after the regular Sabbath of that week..
With the Summer Festival Season, there is just one mo'ed: Pentecost (known in Hebrew as Shavuot, Weeks).
Within the Autumn Festival Season, there are three mo'edim: Feast of Trumpet, Day of Atonement (a day of fasting), and a week-long celebration of Sukkot (the feast of tabernacles proper).
But in Leviticus 23 which treats of all these moedim, the first mo'ed is Shabbat.
It is the only Feast which is not annual but weekly!
And it's the most important Feast of all.
In this scope, we will examine the Shabbat,
Passover, Unleavened Bread and Firstfruits,
Shavuot / Pentecost,
and Trumpets, Atonement and Tabernacles
We will also look at related topics like Isru Chag, Atzeret, etc. and other feasts like Purim (instituted in the book of Esther), and Hanukkah (celebrated by the Lord Jesus Christ in John 10:22.
But the first topic that we will examine is the question: Should we as Christians observe these Jewish Feasts, even if they are Biblical? Aren't we freed from the need for such observances?
Christian churches tend to celebrate traditional Christian holidays with great gusto, but usually ignore the Biblical Holy Days. "We are not Jews," they rationalize.But we don't want to be numbered with those who ''cut the roots and eat the fruit, or worse, eat forbidden fruis, paganism blended and metamorphosed to look as though it is truly biblical.
We don't want to live or worship as quasi-Jews. We do not wish to adopt Jewish customs and traditions just because they are Jewish, or because we find them exotic.
But we do want to honor what our Lord God has instituted.
Lev 23:1 And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying,
2 Speak unto the children of Israel, and say unto them, Concerning the feasts of the LORD, which ye shall proclaim to be holy convocations, even these are My feasts.
Notice that God did not say "These are the feast of the Jews" or "the feasts of the Christians" but "the feasts of the Lord", and then He personalizes it by saying "these are My feasts".
They are memorial days that both Christians and Jews have good cause to celebrate. These festivals were instituted by our Father God (Yahweh) in the first Testament and reaffirmed by our Savior and Messiah (Yeshua) in the New Testament.
In fact, as noted in the introduction above, these are not even "feasts", they are mo'edim , appointments with God, and included a fast day that can by no stretch of language be called a "feast".
The apostle Paul tells us that "Jesus Christ is Lord" (Philippians 2:11). Since the Biblical Holy Days are the Feasts of the Lord, these Holy Days are appointments with Yeshua the Messiah.
Here is perhaps the most compelling statement in the New Testament as to the continued influence and recognition of the Biblical Holy Days by the body of Christ in the first century, even among the Gentile Christian churches!
1 Corinthians 5:7 ... For even Christ our passover is sacrificed for us:
8 Therefore let us keep the feast ...
It could not be said more clearly, "Therefore, let us keep the feast [of Passover]."
Further evidence of first century Christians keeping the feasts is found in the book of Acts.
Acts 18:21 ... I must by all means keep this feast that cometh in Jerusalem: ...
Acts 20:16 For Paul had determined to sail by Ephesus, because he would not spend the time in Asia: for he hasted, if it were possible for him, to be at Jerusalem the day of Pentecost.
1 Corinthians 16:8 But I will tarry at Ephesus until Pentecost.
It was nearly thirty years after the death of Messiah. Many Christians believe the importance of the feasts had ceased. Yet, the Apostle Paul is still highly motivated with Christian zeal to return to Jerusalem and celebrate the day of PENTECOST, which was the Biblical Feast of WEEKS, called in Hebrew SHAVUOT.
Would he discourage the practice today? Clearly, he would not!
The Biblical feast day celebrations were instituted by our God as a system for teaching and served as a prophetic calendar. They identified special times in the year for offering praise, thanksgiving and honor unto our heavenly Father for specific acts that He performed on behalf of His people.
Every major event in Biblical history occurred on a feast day. The precise dates of Noah's Ark landing on Mt. Ararat, the exodus of Israel from Egypt, the giving of the law at Mt. Sinai, the dedication of Solomon's Temple, the birth of Yeshua the Messiah, His death, burial and resurrection, the coming of the Holy Spirit, are all prime examples of God's faithfulness to His appointed times and seasons.
Proper recognition of these special days of memorial is being restored to the church as a vital part of worship and celebration.
Today a better understanding of the Biblical festivals in the light of the gospel of Jesus Christ is being fully restored to the church. Still the question invariably arises, but what about the New Testament scriptures, which seemingly discourage the practice of observing "special days"?
Such conclusions are often drawn as a result of misinformation, faulty interpretation of scripture, unbelief, and fear, coupled with some degree of hypocrisy. For example, the following scripture is often cited as a proof text for non-observance of Biblical feast days:
Galatians 4:10 Ye observe days, and months, and times, and years.
11 I am afraid of you, lest I have bestowed upon you labour in vain.
Here is a classic example of faulty interpretation of scripture. This reference has nothing to do with Biblical Memorial Days. Look at the context.
Paul's statement to the Galatians is about their returning to former pagan or heathen practices! Clearly he is not speaking of the Biblical celebrations.
This is proved by the very structure of the letter itself. Notice, this was something they were re-instituting that they had been practicing when they worshiped false gods.
Galatians 4:8 Howbeit then, when ye knew not God, ye did service unto them which by nature are no gods.
9 But now, after that ye have known God, or rather are known of God, how turn ye again to the weak and beggarly elements, whereunto ye desire again to be in bondage?
The Galatians had never celebrated Biblical (or Jewish, if you will) Holy Days! They were Gentiles. Therefore, they could not have been returning to the Jewish festivals as some might claim.
The truth is, few Christians actually believe this scripture to be absolute. If they do, their actions are inconsistent with their beliefs.
If taken at face value, we would simply have to refrain from celebrating or memorializing any "days", whether religious or secular. But what do the churches do in practice? They often go to great lengths and great expense in the churches and in the homes to celebrate such times as Christmas, Easter, birthdays, anniversaries, Mother's Day, Father's Day, Valentine's Day, etc.
So, they do "observe days", and that too with great extravaganza.
Many have somehow concluded that we are free to celebrate any holidays except the Biblical days. These (they think) are somehow forbidden and viewed as being strictly Jewish and therefore anti-Christ, non-Christian and indeed dangerous.
Yet the ones we have arbitrarily created for ourselves, the ones which have little or no Biblical support, are somehow considered "safe" and "honorable", even "sacred".
My purpose is, not to denigrate the churches that celebrate these pagan days, but rather to expose the duplicity inherent in the stand these churches take towards Galatians 4:10-11, their stand against honoring the Lord's appointed days while proceeding to devise their own.
Paul's reference in the Galatians passage is concerning pagan holidays and not the God-ordained memorial days, which the same writer had encouraged the Church to "therefore keep" (1 Corinthians. 5:7-8).
I'll give you another example of twisted interpretation of scripture concerning special days.
Colossians 2:16 Let no man therefore judge you in meat, or in drink, or in respect of an holyday, or of the new moon, or of the sabbath days:
Paul is not speaking here against feast day celebrations. Rather, he is cautioning against judgmental attitudes!
One would be hard pressed to find anyone who practices this as is commonly interpreted. The truth is, there are on-going judgmental attitudes manifested in the church about meats, drinks, holydays and Sabbath observance, attitudes which stand against these.
Those who don't observe such things tend to judge those who do as "legalists" (strict adherents to the Law). Those who observe them quite often judge those who don't as unrighteous or at best, second-class citizens of the Kingdom. Simply stated, "those who do judge those who don't and those who don't judge those who do" and on it goes. Yet the attitude urged by Messiah is "Judge not" (Matthew 7:1). The Apostle Paul gives similar advice to the church in Rome.
Romans 14:5 One man esteemeth one day above another: another esteemeth every day alike. Let every man be fully persuaded in his own mind.
6 He that regardeth the day, regardeth it unto the Lord; and he that regardeth not the day, to the Lord he doth not regard it. He that eateth, eateth to the Lord, for he giveth God thanks; and he that eateth not, to the Lord he eateth not, and giveth God thanks.
10 But why dost thou judge thy brother? or why dost thou set at nought thy brother? for we shall all stand before the judgment seat of Christ.
The point is this: No one's righteousness should be judged on the basis of these issues, any more than one should be judged as to whether or not he is a Christian on the basis of his church attendance. Righteousness is simply not of works. If one is "persuaded" that celebrating feast days enhances his worship of God, he should not be judged for it. All judgment of men's hearts is best left in the hands of God.
There is a third judgmental group who are selective in their interpretation of some aspects of Col. 2: 16. They arbitrarily select the particular things they are for or against and proceed to categorize them as a do or don't.
For example: some would extend liberty for one to eat any and all kinds of meats, yet might well be the first to place restrictions on what is acceptable to drink (for example, restriction or prohibition of alcoholic dinks), and then go on to preach and teach that judgment.
In our zeal for righteousness we must guard against distortion of scripture. Paul is simply trying to avoid the Pharisaical attitudes of judgment and nothing more. Now, let us establish some proper motivational factors.
Our celebration of the Biblical memorial days are not a matter of salvation or acceptance before God. Therefore our motive in celebration should be as God originally intended: as remembrance and honor for what He has done.
God said His feasts were to be celebrated "forever" (Ex. 12:14, Lev. 23:21, Lev. 23:41).
If God never changes - and we have His word on that He does not (Mal. 3:6) - it is obvious that He still desires to be worshiped in this manner.
The feast days retain a deep abiding meaning for the Christian since their fullness (not not their termination) is found in Yeshua the Messiah.
It is safe to say that the Christian has as much reason for celebrating these festivals as does the Jew and perhaps more (1 Corinthians. 5:8).
The feast days contain more divine information, spiritual lessons and prophetic significance than perhaps any subject of scripture.
Therefore, It is through our deliberate recognition and celebration of them that the riches of truth contained in them are released for our understanding.
The things that are done to celebrate these days are not so important as the acknowledgment of the day itself.
We need not be concerned with ancient ritualism from which we were liberated in Christ (Heb. 9:10). Rather, we should focus on the basic principles of their prophetic and spiritual meanings as is revealed under the New Covenant.
Since it is not a matter of salvation but one of worship, there is liberty and flexibility in what we can do as remembrance.
The spirit of praise and worship simply demands the recognition of the Biblical feast days. No other conclusion can be drawn.
The question before us is; should Christians celebrate the feast days? Clearly we should. Why? Because they are Biblical, Messiah-centered and God-ordained.
While feast celebrations are not essential to salvation, they are certainly helpful for a more perfect worship order in the church.
Here's the list of the seven most important of the Biblical Feasts: the Feasts of the Lord, the annual appointments with the Lord.
- The Feast of Passover (Leviticus 23:5)
- The weeklong Feast of Unleavened Bread (Leviticus 23:6)
- The First of Firstfuits (Leviticus 23:10)
- The Feast of Pentecost (Leviticus 23:16)
- The Feast of Blowing (Leviticus 23:24) - see also The Feast of Trumpets (another article on the same feast)
- The Fast on the Day of Atonement (Leviticus 23:27)
- The weeklong Feast of Tabernacles (Leviticus 23:34)