‘On the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried
out, saying, “If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink.”
“Therefore purge out the old leaven, that you may be a new lump,
since you are truly unleavened. For indeed Christ, our Passover,
was sacrificed for us.
“Therefore let us keep the feast, not with old leaven, nor with the
leaven of malice and wickedness, but with the unleavened bread
of sincerity and truth.”
1 Corinthians 5:7-8
We are approaching that time of the year when the Jewish World will again celebrate the Feasts of the Lord in that the High Holy Days of Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur and the Feast of Tabernacles are about to transpire. So, we need to ask ourselves, yet again, why should we celebrate these biblical festivals? The answer is simple; because they reflect more completely the life, ministry and death of Jesus! Jesus Himself celebrated Passover, Shavuot and the Feast of Tabernacles but He put the significance of His death, resurrection and coming kingdom into them. He even celebrated the non-biblical Feast of Hanukkah. It is important to note that we enjoy these as celebrations and not as obligations. Surely, after years of attending Church and reading the Bible regularly, we know the meaning and important truths lying behind each of these biblical feasts and memorials? The real answer is; no we do not; as we forget so easily and therefore we drift from God, lose sight of His love and grace, and disconnect ourselves from His purpose in the world. We live for ourselves, serve mammon and no longer know how to love those around us. The cycles of Biblical celebration, that God gives us, are for our renewal. This can be understood in the following ways:
Renewal of the Biblical truth that they so powerfully convey.
Passover, Pentecost, Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur and the Feast of Tabernacles are rich in instruction. They remind us that we are accountable to God, that we depend upon His atoning grace for our deliverance and that we are to rejoice in the knowledge that we are part of His kingdom. As Christians we remember that Paul stated in his letter to the Church at Rome that when we no longer give God thanks in all these things, we stray from Him and turn aside to foolishness (Romans 1:21). Our world abundantly demonstrates this. We need to be constantly renewed and therefore reminded of who God is and what He has done for us. Such is the state of our hearts that failure to remember His goodness is the highway to forgetfulness and this in turn leads to weakness, corruption and apathy in our lives. A faith that is lukewarm and unresponsive to God is not acceptable to Him and is thus rejected (Revelation 3:16). Yes, indeed, we need the biblical Feasts to remind us constantly of the goodness of God.
Renewal of the Young amongst us.
The Bible repeatedly teaches us to take special care of the children. Jesus echoed the same truth when He placed a child on His lap and blessed him. In fact He attributed greatness to children because their faith was so innocent and trusting (Matthew 18:1-5). To harm them is to attract the extreme displeasure of their Father in Heaven (Matthew 18:6). In addition the last book of Moses, called Deuteronomy, exhorts parents to instruct their children in their homes concerning the great themes of who God is and what He has done for us and requires from us (Deuteronomy 6:1-9). A child, according to the book of Proverbs, is like a tender “creeping plant” that can be trained in the way in which he or she should go. This requires love, affection, correction and discipline. Most of all it requires from Parents that they should teach by example! The Word of God does not call people sheep for nothing (Isaiah 53:6). Sheep follow easily and parents who do not “walk the life that they talk” are teaching their children how to fail God in life and consequently they will not have success in the things that really matter.
Renewal of Community life
All the Biblical festivals are community celebrations. We celebrate them with the people of God. Too much of Christianity today is self centered and contradicts Paul’s frequent exhortations to relate in different ways to one another (Ephesians 4:25-32). Interacting with the family of God teaches us a lot about patience, faithfulness, submission and love. All of these are imparted to our lives when we have do things that others want us to do and we don’t really want to! Living in community is not easy but it is God’s plan for us.
Passover, Pentecost, Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur and the Feast of Tabernacles teach us to fear God, walk in His grace and power and be joyful. Paul said that, “The Kingdom of God is not eating and drinking but righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit”(Romans 14:17). Passover reminds us of the “door” to the Kingdom of God, which is the blood of the Lamb. Pentecost reminds us that the power of the Kingdom of God is the Word and Spirit of God and Rosh Hashanah reminds us of God’s holy command to be pleasing to Him and like Him. Yom Kippur, of the only way to have peace with God through His atoning love and grace and the Feast of Tabernacles of the fact that God wants His people to have life and joy in abundance. God’s people should have a lot of fun!
The community of God is to experience these things together. Again I want to affirm that the great Feasts of the Bible are celebrations and not obligations! We explore their meaning and significance together and thereby learn how to better love God, one another and the world. We are the poorer spiritually for neglecting them.
Renewal of appreciation for Israel and the Jewish people.
The great Feasts of the Bible enable Christians to understand more fully the Jewish roots of their faith and thus they learn to appreciate the people of Israel and understand that “salvation is of the Jews” (John 4:22), that all the things we hold dear as Christians are Jewish (Romans 9:1-5) and that we serve a Jewish King (Revelation 5:5) (Revelation 19:16)! In short, we share in the spiritual things that belong to the Jews and thus we are indebted to them (Romans 15:27). This takes on an important significance when we realize that Israel’s modern day restoration is the fulfillment of God’s eternal promise to Abraham and therefore, in the not too distant future, Israel will welcome her Messiah and thereby usher in for the world a time of unparalleled peace and joy. This will be the ultimate fulfillment of the Feast of Tabernacles (Zechariah 14:16-19).
Even so Lord Jesus come!