Jesus Reflected in Jewish Feast

Posted: January 24, 2019 in Prophecy, Religion
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By Chad Daugherty

Imagine yourself back in time, as a Jew, approximately 2,000 years ago. You have traveled a long distance to reach Jerusalem and now you have arrived. The city has exploded in size due to people who have come to celebrate the Passover Feast. The city is bustling as you make your way along the dusty streets. You look up and are filled with awe as you see the temple and all the priest preparing for Passover. As you look around and see all the lambs that will be used for the sacrifices, you clearly remember what Jesus taught about Himself before He was crucified. Sadness fills your heart as you look at all the people who haven’t embraced the reality that Jesus is the lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world. You realize it is a fact the Jewish people should be aware of. God pointed to the death, resurrection, and return of Christ through the Passover Feast, the Feast of Unleavened Bread, and the Feast of Trumpets. Jesus is clearly reflected in Jewish culture through the Holy feast celebrations and His teachings confirmed this truth.

From the beginning, the Passover Feast pointed directly to Jesus and His sacrifice for mankind on the cross. The Feast of Passover is held in March or April depending on how the lunar cycle is going, and it opens the New Year for Israel. Celebrating the Holy festivals held great importance in the culture of the Jewish people and in their worship of God. It was such an important festival to the people that the city drastically expanded in size. Neel Douglas states in his book “The Food and Feasts of Jesus: The Original Mediterranean Diet, with Menus and Recipes”:

Large numbers of foreign Jews also traveled to Jerusalem for the feast of Passover and Unleavened Bread. They came from all over the Mediterranean and Middle East: Rome, Greece, Egypt, Syria, and Babylon. (Douglas, 2012)

It is also stated in the article “Jerusalem At the Time of Jesus” that:
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Jerusalem was one of the biggest cities between Alexandria and Damascus, with a permanent population of some 80,000. During Passover, Succoth and Shavuoth, the great festivals during which Jews were obligated to make sacrifices at the Temple, between 100,000 and 250,000 visitors (historians differ) would stream down the long city thoroughfare. (Van Biema, David, Dorfman, Andrea, Harris, Jonathan Calt, Ghazali, Said, Silver, Eric, Watzman, Haim, Time, 2001)

The Passover was and is a big event. It remembers the last plague which God brought against the Egyptians for Pharaoh’s rejection of God’s command to allow the Israelites to go free. God commanded the Israelites to sacrifice a lamb and then to put blood from the lamb on the upper and sides of the doorpost. He told them He was sending a death plague that would take the eldest son of every household. God said on the night when the death plague came, “The blood will be a sign for you on the houses where you are, and when I see the blood, I will pass over you. No destructive plague will touch you when I strike Egypt” (Exod. 12:13). That is how we get the term Passover. It is the passing over of death. God often uses Old Testament events to point to the redemption of mankind through Jesus Christ. In his publication “Opening Up Exodus” Lain Campbell states:

“some of the things God gave to and did for his people, of which we have a record in the Book of Exodus, were not simply powerful elements of the revelation of his grace at the time, but were intended to point forward to, and illustrate the redeeming work of Christ.” (Campbell, 2006)

In celebration of the Passover God commanded the people to choose a lamb without spot or blemish. This is a perfect picture of our sinless savior Jesus Christ. We know that Jesus was perfect and without any sin. He was the only one capable of meeting the requirements of God to satisfy our sin debt. The Israelites were told to examine the lamb for four days to make sure it was unblemished. This was a foreshadow of Jesus coming before the Roman emperor Pontius Pilot to be judged. Jeff Friedman accurately stated in his article “Passover Still Points to the Savior”:

For four days the Messiah was examined by the people of Israel, the priests and the Levites. When Messiah Y’shua stood before the Roman governor Pontius Pilate who said, “I find no fault in this man,” unknowingly the governor declared Y’shua to be the Lamb of G-d without spot or blemish. (Friedman, 2012)

Once the lamb was chosen and its time had come, the lamb was then sacrificed. Its blood was applied to the doorpost to save the people from the death angel. This again, points to Jesus who was sacrificed on the cross. His blood was shed to cover the sins of the world and keep us from death. As we examine the life of Jesus, we find that he always observed the Passover meal. Jesus understood the connection of Himself and the Passover. In the book of John, Jesus told the people they must drink his blood and eat his flesh. He made clear that His blood and His flesh were the source of eternal life. We see this reflected in the book of Exodus where God was commanding the Israelites on how to observer the Passover. God instructed them that once the blood was drained from the lamb and placed on the doorpost, they were to roast the lamb and eat its flesh. As Jesus celebrated His last Passover on earth, He gave clear instructions to the disciples that they were to drink the wine which represents His blood and to eat the bread which represents His flesh. It was a clear connection of the Passover to Christ, and it was the beginning of a New Covenant. Per God’s instructions, the Passover Feast has been celebrated from the time Moses led the exodus out of Egypt until now, and it paints an amazing picture of God’s deliverance through Jesus Christ. It is a revelation that Jesus was reflected in the Passover feast from the very beginning.

Another beautiful picture of Jesus is reflected in the Jewish feast of Unleavened bread. The Feast of Unleavened Bread is a feast that is generally mistaken for Passover. Passover, however, is only one 24-hour period while the Feast of Unleavened bread last for seven days. The Passover and the Feast of Unleavened Bread were originally separate, but since they ran concurrently, they eventually became celebrated as one feast. The Israelites used to gather yeast on grape leaves to leaven their bread. In the book of Exodus God told the people on the evening of the Passover that they were not to allow their bread to rise. In fact, He told them not to allow any leaven to even touch the dough. They were to gather everything and leave in a hurry. God then told them that in the future they were to commemorate this event by removing all yeast from their homes for seven days. When leaven is mentioned in the Bible (22 times in the Old Testament and 17 times in the New Testament), it represents sin or evil in almost every case. The New Testament addresses sin as leaven in several places. Jesus refers to the teaching and hypocrisy of the Pharisees as leaven in Matt. 16:6-12 and Luke 12:1. Jesus warned of the leaven of king Herod’s evil and wickedness in Mark 8:15. In his article “Keeping the Festivals of Time”, Dr. George Wood states:

Notice the divine order. First of all, Christ the Passover Lamb is given and then our redemption is secured. But then when our redemption is secure there is the ongoing work of the holy life. The Feast of Unleavened Bread represents the holy life. (Woods, 2012)

In commanding the Israelites not to use leaven, God was establishing a pattern of Holy living for His people through Jesus Christ. Once a person accepts salvation through Jesus Christ; the Holy Spirit is given to that person to live in them, teach them, and help them. A process begins called “Sanctification”. It is the process of striving to rid ourselves of the sin in our life and to become more like Christ with each passing day. The scriptures say, “Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own? For you have been bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body” (1 Cor. 6:19-20). After we are justified by Christ’s sacrifice, we must be led out of sin and into a righteous pattern of life just as Israel was led out of its bondage and called to follow God. This festival represents the work of the living, resurrected Christ directly leading and assisting us in overcoming sin. It is a beautiful picture of Jesus reflected in the Jewish feast of Unleavened bread going all the way back to the Exodus.

The most encouraging feast in which Jesus is reflected is in the Feast of Trumpets. The last three holy festivals that the Lord commanded the Jewish people to observe are the Feast of Trumpets, the Day of Atonement and the Feast of Tabernacles. Each occurred in the seventh month of the Jewish calendar. The Feast of Trumpets heralded the arrival of that seventh month. We find the Lord’s instructions about it in the book of Leviticus, “The Lord said to Moses, “Say to the Israelites: ‘On the first day of the seventh month you are to have a day of sabbath rest, a sacred assembly commemorated with trumpet blasts. Do no regular work but present a food offering to the Lord (Lev. 23:23-25). In order to understand the meaning behind the Feast of Trumpets in the Old Testament in relation to Jesus Christ, we must focus on the key words “a sacred assembly commemorated with trumpet blast.” We find the connection in the Old Testament in the book of Leviticus. Moses and the Israelites were gathered at Mount Sinai. God commanded Moses to prepare the people to meet with Him at the mountain. His instructions were for the people to consecrate themselves and not to approach the mountain until they heard the sound of the trumpet blast (Lev. 19:16-19). In his book “Opening Up Exodus”, Lain Campbell gives this description:

Then, on the third day, the Lord was present among his people. Sinai was wrapped in smoke, thus relating the presence of God in the pillar of cloud with his presence on Mount Sinai. The appearance of God is heralded by the blast of a trumpet and by thunder and lightning. Only Moses may approach God; everyone else must stay away, for fear that they be consumed by the glory of God. (Campbell, 2006)

Also, Darris McNeely states in his article “Jesus Christ in the Biblical Festivals”:

Trumpets, whether metal instruments or rams’ horns, were used in the Bible for several purposes. They were used to call the people of God to assembly (Numbers 10:1-10). They were also used to announce the beginning of this Holy Day (Leviticus 23:24; compare Psalms 81:3-4). And trumpets were used to announce the coronation of a king (1 Kings 1:39-40). (McNeely, 2014)

Leviticus 19 is a clear picture of God calling His people to meet Him with the call of a trumpet. We find the connection in the New Testament when we examine the scriptures concerning the rapture of the church. The Rapture of the church is a time when Christ will come in the clouds above the earth. There will be a trumpet call and the dead in Christ will rise first and those who are alive and remain will go after them to meet the Lord in the air and return to Heaven with him (1 Thess. 4:16-18, 1 Cor. 15:51-52). Jessie Blackman describes the connection between the Old and New Testament observance of the Feast of Tabernacles in his article “Seven Feast That Point to Christ”:

In a beautiful declaration God commands his people to rest. During this time all regular work is prohibited, and men and women present a food offering to God. In Leviticus 23:24 God commands his people to gather and to commemorate the decree with trumpet blasts. On the same front, the sound of a trumpet is also associated with the rapture, or the time Jesus will return for his bride (1 Corinthians 15:52). Once he returns, there will be a wedding feast of celebration. Revelation 19:9 says, “Blessed are those who are invited to the wedding feast of the Lamb” (NLT). He’s preparing us to celebrate! (Blackman, 2019)

In the words of Dr. George Wood, “The Feast of Trumpets has excellent applications prophetically” (Wood, 2012). Throughout the Old and New Testament scriptures the prophets and writers pointed to a time when Christ would return for His church. It would be a time when Christ would sound a trumpet and call His sacred people into assembly with Him in Heaven. It is a perfect picture of Jesus reflected in the Feast of Trumpets going all the way back to Mount Sinai.

These special celebrations are found in the Bible. They are found in both the Old and New Testaments. Jesus Christ our savior not only observed these festivals, but He is central to them. In fact, if you look further you can find Jesus in the Festival of First Fruits where He is seen as the Messiah who became the first fruits of the resurrection from the dead. He is seen in the Atonement where He made restitution for our sin, and Jesus is seen in the Feast of Tabernacles which points to a day when Christ will return and dwell with His people forever. It is obvious that God used the Holy feast and Jewish culture to point to His son Jesus Christ, and Jesus confirmed it through His teachings.

 

REFERENCE LIST

Campbell, Iain D. Opening up Exodus. Opening Up Commentary. Leominster: Day One Publications, 2006.

Friedman, Jeff. 2012. Passover Still Points to the Savior. Pentecostal Evangel: Articles.

Jerusalem At the Time of Jesus. By: Van Biema, David, Dorfman, Andrea, Harris, Jonathan Calt,    Ghazali, Said, Silver, Eric, Watzman, Haim, Time, 0040781X, 4/16/2001, Vol. 157, Issue 15, Database: Academic Search Elite

Jessie Blackman and Susha Roberts. 7 Feasts That Point to Christ. Wycliffe Bible Translators.

McNeely, Darris. 2014. Jesus Christ in the Biblical Festivals.

Neel, Douglas E., and Joel A. Pugh. 2012. The Food and Feasts of Jesus: The Original     Mediterranean Diet, with Menus and Recipes. Religion in the Modern World. Lanham, Md: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers.

Woods, Dr. George. 2012. Keeping the Festivals of Time. Assemblies of God.

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