In Israel there were several feasts that The Lord had set down to be celebrated. Three of those feasts required every able Jewish man and his household to travel to Jerusalem to the Tabernacle and later the Temple to celebrate together as a nation. They were Passover, The Feast of Weeks, and the Feast of Booths. Moses reminded Israel about Passover first. Verses 1-8 read,
“Observe the month of Abib and keep the Passover to the Lord your God, for in the month of Abib the Lord your God brought you out of Egypt by night. 2 And you shall offer the Passover sacrifice to the Lord your God, from the flock or the herd, at the place that the Lord will choose, to make his name dwell there. 3 You shall eat no leavened bread with it. Seven days you shall eat it with unleavened bread, the bread of affliction—for you came out of the land of Egypt in haste—that all the days of your life you may remember the day when you came out of the land of Egypt. 4 No leaven shall be seen with you in all your territory for seven days, nor shall any of the flesh that you sacrifice on the evening of the first day remain all night until morning. 5 You may not offer the Passover sacrifice within any of your towns that the Lord your God is giving you, 6 but at the place that the Lord your God will choose, to make his name dwell in it, there you shall offer the Passover sacrifice, in the evening at sunset, at the time you came out of Egypt. 7 And you shall cook it and eat it at the place that the Lord your God will choose. And in the morning you shall turn and go to your tents. 8 For six days you shall eat unleavened bread, and on the seventh day there shall be a solemn assembly to the Lord your God. You shall do no work on it.”
The Lord did not want Israel to forget that before they had been a nation, they had been slaves whom He had delivered. He didn’t tell them to remember their slavery; He told them to remember their deliverance. The Hebrews left Egypt quickly, and because of that they could not let the bread rise, it was eaten without leaven. At that time and through today, the Lord commanded that all the leaven was cleaned from every house and that for seven days, no leaven was eaten. Leaven is often used as a metaphor for sin in scripture and in the Passover that is what it represents. Every bit of leaven had to be cleaned out, none could be left.
When we are forgiven of our sins, it is every sin, none is left. (Mark 3:28-29). If we hold onto any of it, it will like leaven or yeast contaminate all the dough, spread and grow. Leaven represents the old way of life, slavery to sin by obedience to the law. The unleavened bread is Jesus, sinless and the Way to deliverance. After the feeding of the four thousand the disciples and Jesus crossed over on the boat but had not brought any bread with them, since they had eaten the one loaf they had on the boat (Mark 8:14-21). Here they had the choice to remember the great miracle and have faith that the one loaf of bread they had would be plenty through Jesus or they could worry. Matthew 16:5-12 reads,
“When the disciples reached the other side, they had forgotten to bring any bread. 6 Jesus said to them, “Watch and beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and Sadducees.” 7 And they began discussing it among themselves, saying, “We brought no bread.” 8 But Jesus, aware of this, said, “O you of little faith, why are you discussing among yourselves the fact that you have no bread? 9 Do you not yet perceive? Do you not remember the five loaves for the five thousand, and how many baskets you gathered? 10 Or the seven loaves for the four thousand, and how many baskets you gathered? 11 How is it that you fail to understand that I did not speak about bread? Beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and Sadducees.” 12 Then they understood that he did not tell them to beware of the leaven of bread, but of the teaching of the Pharisees and Sadducees.”
Remembering our deliverance allows our faith to increase and helps us walk in Christ rather than the law. In the Festival of Weeks we remember receiving The Word of God, The Holy Spirit who indwells us and writes the Law on our hearts. The Festival of Weeks happened seven weeks, 50 days after Passover it celebrated the giving of the Law, and the culmination of the Hebrews exodus from Egypt to becoming the nation of Israel. Verses 9-12 read,
“You shall count seven weeks. Begin to count the seven weeks from the time the sickle is first put to the standing grain. 10 Then you shall keep the Feast of Weeks to the Lord your God with the tribute of a freewill offering from your hand, which you shall give as the Lord your God blesses you. 11 And you shall rejoice before the Lord your God, you and your son and your daughter, your male servant and your female servant, the Levite who is within your towns, the sojourner, the fatherless, and the widow who are among you, at the place that the Lord your God will choose, to make his name dwell there. 12 You shall remember that you were a slave in Egypt; and you shall be careful to observe these statutes.”
This feast was celebrated when Israel came together and brought their tithes. The New Testament refers to it as Pentecost. It like the feasts was a joyful celebration. We celebrate it today by remembering that God kept His covenant with us and changed us. He wrote His law on our hearts and made us new. He gave us His Holy Spirit. We are no longer our old selves, who were slaves to the Law because the Word of God changed us and He continues to change us.
The Feast of Booths is the third feast that required Israel to gather in Jerusalem. This one though invited gentiles to celebrate with them. It celebrated the remembrance of the time in the wilderness and how God provided for them before they took possession of the Promised Land. It looks forward to the day when we will no longer live on this temporary earth but in the Eternal City of New Jerusalem. God authorized or signed Israel to take the Promised Land and provided for them all the way. He signed us to New Jerusalem and provides all along the way. Verses 13-15 read,
“You shall keep the Feast of Booths seven days, when you have gathered in the produce from your threshing floor and your winepress.14 You shall rejoice in your feast, you and your son and your daughter, your male servant and your female servant, the Levite, the sojourner, the fatherless, and the widow who are within your towns. 15 For seven days you shall keep the feast to the Lord your God at the place that the Lord will choose, because the Lord your God will bless you in all your produce and in all the work of your hands, so that you will be altogether joyful.”
All three of these feasts required a gathering together of the people in Jerusalem at the Tabernacle. While we no longer have to travel to Jerusalem for appointed feasts, because we are the Tabernacle, The Lord God indwells us, He still wants us to celebrate and remember our deliverance through the sacrifice of Jesus, our seal through the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, and our provision as we live in this temporary world and look forward to our permanent Home. I wholly recommend studying each of these feasts in more depth so that you can see God as Father, Spirit and Son in each. Verses 16-17 read,
“Three times a year all your males shall appear before the Lord your God at the place that he will choose: at the Feast of Unleavened Bread, at the Feast of Weeks, and at the Feast of Booths. They shall not appear before the Lord empty-handed. 17 Every man shall give as he is able, according to the blessing of the Lord your God that he has given you.”
Jesus celebrated these feasts too. What Christians often refer to as The Last Supper was the Passover and it I described in all four gospels. It was clear that the disciples and Jesus would not forgo celebrating it for any reason, including the fact that the Pharisees wanted Jesus dead. (Matthew 26). John 7 describes Jesus at the Feast of Booths. And Jesus told the disciples to wait in Jerusalem until the coming of The Holy Spirit (Acts 1:4). And we know Paul considered celebrating Pentecost important (Acts 20:16).
While there is no command to celebrate the Resurrection of Christ on a specific day each year, it is inferred that we celebrate it on the first day of every week, not as the Sabbath but by gathering together, celebrating the Lord’s Supper and listening to the teachings of the Apostles. Twice Paul refers to gathering on the first day of the week as an expectation of the church (Acts 20:7, 1 Corinthians 16:2).
We don’t have to travel to Jerusalem to celebrate the feasts, and we do not have to make sacrifices to celebrate them. But we should still celebrate these times as Christians, signed, sealed, and delivered. We ought to remember how great God is every moment of every day and assigning special times for specific remembrances is one way to do that.