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Introduction to the Biblical Festivals

This article is an introduction to the Biblical Fall Festivals from a draft of the upcoming book

Preface

This book represents a specific point on the journey of growth in understanding. I am quite certain that many questions remain to be answered, and that this effort is not the final sum of all knowledge on the subject.

 

Definitions:

  1. Ekklesia

In Acts 19:32, 41, Ekklesia is translated “assembly” and refers to an unlawful gathering, a mob. In the same context it has reference to a “lawful assembly” in Acts 19:39. The word Ekklesia appears in reference to the faithful believers who live by the Word of God more than 100 times in the Greek NT Scriptures, but only in these three instances in Acts 19 is the word correctly translated assembly!

In reference to a religious gathering, the English word “church” is always substituted for the correct translation; at the express command of King James.

The translators were forbidden to render the true meaning of the word, except in the three above instances and were required by the King to substitute the word “church.”  Rule 3 of the “Rules to be observed in the Translation of the Bible” specifically says: “The old Ecclesiastical [Roman Catholic] words [were] to be kept,” meaning the word Ekklesia was to be replaced with “church” and was not to be correctly translated as a gathering. The translators obeyed the King and that version is rightly called the King James Version! 

King James wanted to keep his authority over the corporate church of England and would not permit the translators to correctly inform the people that the Ekklesia was NOT a corporate body. 

  1.  When the word LORD is written fully in capitols, it was directly translated from the Hebrew word YHVH
  2. Appointed Times are commanded observances which are not Holy Days, and on which work may be done.
  3. Sabbaths or Holy Days are Holy Days on which no work of any kind may be done [including cooking and buying and selling food and drink, or anything else].  Acts of mercy and those activities specifically commanded by God for the occasion are lawful. All necessary preparations should be made before the Sabbath or Holy Day. See the appropriate section below.
  4. Days: It is important to know that God defines days in the scriptures as beginning and ending at sunset (Genesis 1, “evening” meaning sunset); not by today’s midnight to midnight method

Introduction

God gave His Biblical Calendar, New Moons, High Days, Appointed Times and Festivals to his people and Moses recorded these things as Holy Scripture. 

A good understanding of the meaning of these things has been sealed up until these very last days (Dan 12:9). 

In Palestine there is an early harvest in the spring, and a later harvest in the fall.

When God brought Israel out of Egypt and they entered into and began to cultivate the land, they were commanded to observe certain annual Holy Days and Festivals. 

These Holy Days and Festivals were set up as Harvest Festivals to celebrate the ingathering of the early and the latter harvests of the land. 

These Harvest Festivals rejoiced over the local harvests, and were illustrative allegories of God’s plan for mankind and the spiritual harvests of humanity into the Family of God the Father.  

There were three annual Harvest Festivals in which Israel was commanded to present themselves before God and to rejoice over the bounty that God had provided.

Deuteronomy 16:16  Three times in a year shall all thy males appear before the Lord thy God in the place which he shall choose; in the feast of unleavened bread, and in the feast of weeks [Pentecost], and in the feast of tabernacles: 

Exodus 23:14   Three times thou shalt keep a feast unto me in the year.

23:15  Thou shalt keep the feast of unleavened bread: (thou shalt eat unleavened bread seven days, as I commanded thee, in the time appointed of the month Abib; for in it thou camest out from Egypt: and none shall appear before me empty:) 

Three offerings are required each year, one offering during each of the three pilgrim Festivals

23:16 And the feast of harvest, the firstfruits [Pentecost] of thy labours, which thou hast sown in the field: and the feast of ingathering, which is in the end of the year, when thou hast gathered in thy labours out of the field.

The Feast of Unleavened Bread and the Feast of Tabernacles [Ingathering] are each seven days in length and ONE Offering was commanded by God to be given at some point during each of these two Feasts, and ONE Offering was to be given at the Feast of First fruits called Pentecost. No offerings were commanded to be given on the Fast Day of Atonement or on the Feast of Trumpets.

Although organizations may request offerings on other occasions – example the offering for the tabernacle construction- there are only three God commanded offerings each year.

There are three key points in understanding the meaning of the Biblical  Festivals. 

  1. They are physical Harvest Festivals for specific times of the year, which are allegories of God’s spiritual harvest of mankind. 

The spring harvest began with the first Wave Sheaf cutting and Offering during the Feast of Unleavened Bread

The Covenant  people were commanded to come before God at the place that God chose, three times each year; first to the tabernacle and then later after the Temple was built the people gathered at the temple in  Jerusalem for these Festivals and the first Sheaf beginning the early harvest was cut and offered to God at the Temple in Jerusalem on the day after the weekly Sabbath during the Feast of Unleavened Bread, then after this Feast the people returned home to reap the early harvest.  The book “The Biblical Spring Festivals From Passover to Pentecost” covers the spring festivals  in detail.

It is very important to realize that the Feast of Unleavened Bread is called the early harvest because it was the first harvest to be reaped at the beginning of the year. 

Jesus Christ was the first to be reaped from the earth just as the Sabbath ended and Sunday began during the Feast of Unleavened Bread and the chosen first fruits will be reaped at the end of the sixth day – picturing the end of 6,000 years –  of the Feast of Unleavened Bread, because the Feast of Unleavened Bread is an allegory of the early harvest of fleshly men from the earth to spirit.

The Feast of Unleavened Bread is the early harvest feast  because it is the first harvest to be reaped and was reaped in the spring at the beginning of the year.  If it was reaped in the fall, it would not be the early harvest:  It would be the later fall harvest!

  1. Both the Feast of Unleavened Bread Festival and the later fall harvest of the Feast of Tabernacles [Ingathering] are seven day Feasts.  The scriptures give us the principle to understand by telling us that:

2 Peter 3:8  But, beloved, be not ignorant of this one thing, that one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. 

 This means that each of the seven days of these two Festivals must represent one thousand years; and in no case can a full seven days represent only one thousand years.

Using the scriptural  criteria it becomes clear that the early six day harvest festival followed by a Holy Annual Sabbath which is reaped in the spring, represents a six thousand year early harvest of humanity into the Family of God followed by a millennial Sabbath with our Creator, while there will also be a seven thousand year later main harvest of the main bulk of humanity represented by the Feast of Tabernacles.  

We can now see that the Feast of Unleavened Bread with its seven days, represents God calling out a kind of early first fruits from humanity for six thousand years, which is then capped by a resurrection to spirit at the end of the sixth day of Unleavened Bread followed by a millennial Sabbath which all flesh then living will spend with their Creator and will also be brought into the family of God completing the seven day [seven thousand year] early first fruits harvest. 

After the resurrection to spirit of the early harvest of the Feast of Unleavened Bread, the seven last plagues are poured out and then the Millennial Kingdom of God will be established over all the earth on the Feast of Pentecost, just as the theocracy of Mosaic Covenant Israel was established on Pentecost and the New Covenant was firmly established in part on the same Feast of Pentecost in the first century. 

The fall Feast of Tabernacles is also a seven day Feast representing a seven thousand year main harvest period when those who have not known God will be resurrected to flesh (Ezek 37), and most will be brought into the family of God in the reaping of the main harvest of humanity represented by the Feast of Ingathering called Tabernacles.

The scriptures also teach us about the intervening period between the post tribulation Pentecost and the Fall Festivals.   

An Overview of the Biblical Festivals and Appointed Times

 The Appointed Times

The New Moons are not Holy Days; they are Appointed Times [like Passover and Wave Offering Sunday] to acknowledge God as Creator with worship [Bible Studies] and rejoicing before Him and to sanctify and dedicate each new month to God.

Work may be done on New Moons but we are also commanded to worship God. This is best done by a Bible Study as was customary in ancient Israel (2 Kings 4:23)

The first visible light of the New Moon as seen from Jerusalem; Sets Apart and Consecrates, each biblical month; which is essential for correctly dating the observance of all other Biblical Appointed Times, Holy Days and Festivals on their proper God commanded dates. The current Rabbinic Molad Calendar is based on darkness and not the Biblical LIGHT and is full of other contrary to scriptural rules; any Rabbi will tell you that it is not scriptural. 

The Biblical Calendar and New Moons are fully explained in the coming  “The Biblical Calendar and Sabbath Day” book; which is Volume 1 of this series.

The Biblical Spring Festivals picture the early Spring Harvest of the First Month 

Passover pictures the sacrifice of the Lamb of God, the Creator who gave up his God-hood to become flesh:  Jesus Christ.

The Wave Offering during the Feast of Unleavened Bread depicts Christ’s ascension to God the Father after his resurrection as the Sabbath ended and Sunday began, to become a spiritual High Priest forever, restoring the Melchesidek order.

The Feast of Unleavened Bread pictures the calling out of a kind of first fruits to God for six thousand years, during which men like Abel, Noah, Abraham, Moses, David, Elijah, Daniel, John Baptist and so many others were called out to God and given the Holy Spirit in faith that Jesus would complete his mission to atone for sin; followed by a one thousand year millennial Sabbath in the presence of the Creator during which the remainder of the early harvest of first fruits will be brought into the family of God. to complete a full seven thousand year early harvest. 

Pentecost pictures the establishment of the Covenants of God; first the Mosaic Covenant and then in a small way the New Covenant on Pentecost 31 A.D., with its final complete fulfillment establishing the millennial kingdom of God over all the earth and expanding the New Covenant to all flesh (Joel 2:28). 

At the end of the millennium Satan is loosed for a short time and after that the fall main Feast of Tabernacles harvest of humanity begins.

The Fall Festivals

The Feast of Trumpets

The first of the Fall Festivals is “The Feast of Trumpets.”

The blasting of the trumpets on this day celebrates the victory over Satan as foretold in Ezekiel 38-39 and Revelation 20, and calls on God to remember his promises of a resurrection to physical life of all the remaining dead [Ezek 37), for the harvest of the Ingathering of Nations [The Feast of Tabernacles].

This Feast is on the seventh New Moon of the year and represents the dedication of the entire seventh month and all of its events to God.

The High Holy Fast Day of Atonement

After the Feast of Trumpets and just before the Feast of Tabernacles, the Fast of Atonement pictures the sincere repentance of the main harvest of humanity and the judgment and final removal of Satan forever on a day of fasting and sincere repentance.

The Feast of Tabernacles

The Feast of Ingathering – called the Feast of Tabernacles – pictures the ingathering of humanity into the Family of God.

Revelation 20:12 And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works.

The Feast of the Eighth Day

The Eighth Day is a Holy Day attached at the end of the Feast of Tabernacles picturing God and man going forward into eternity after the harvest of humanity to spirit has been completed.

Purim

Purim, is not a Festival or Appointed Time commanded by God; however it commemorates historical events with profound religious significance. The Book of Esther is Holy Scripture recorded for our instruction and contains important lessons for all godly people.

 

The Difference between the Festivals of the FIRST and SEVENTH Months

The spring beginning of the first month was commanded by God to Israel in Egypt, which supposes that they did not begin the year at that time before then while in Egypt.

AFTER they entered Palestine and began to cultivate the land; the command to offer a Wave Offering at the beginning of the barley harvest during the Feast of Unleavened Bread kicked in. 

To offer the Wave Offering at the commanded time, the first month must be sanctified by the sighting of the first light of the new moon at Jerusalem where God had placed His name when the barley would be ripe enough for harvest, because the whole nation was gathered together at Jerusalem [after God chose Jerusalem] to keep the Feast of Unleavened Bread. 

For more details please see the article:    Establishing the Biblical New Year

The Festivals of the First Month  are associated with the spring harvest and are an instructional allegory of God’s plan for an early harvest of spiritual first fruits.

The Festivals of the Seventh Month used the completion of the FALL main harvest in Palestine as an allegory of the coming remaining Main Harvest of Humanity; and have nothing to do with any millennium or reaping of the spiritual harvest of first fruits! 

The Festivals of the FIRST month are about the early harvest; and the Festivals of the  SEVENTH month are about the latter main harvest of humanity. 

That is a FUNDAMENTALLY BASIC to understanding the Biblical Festivals of God!

The Biblical Fall Festivals Picture the Latter Main Harvest of the Seventh Month

The Fall Festivals of God picture the main harvest in Judea as a type of the main harvest of humanity and have nothing whatsoever to do with the early spring first fruits harvest resurrection of the early harvest of spiritual first fruits, or the millennium. 

In the past the Feast of Trumpets was equated with the trumpets of Revelation and the resurrection of the first fruits.

This an obvious error, because a spring harvest is reaped in the Spring and NOT in the autumn; and the seventh month refers to the main fall harvest of humanity. 

The early harvest of first fruits is not reaped on any fall High Day; the early harvest must be reaped in the spring, or it would not be an early harvest, it would be a fall harvest!  Nor can the seven day Feast of Tabernacles picture a one thousand year millennial period (2 Peter 3:8).

The Fall Festivals have absolutely nothing to do with the early harvest of first fruits; the Fall Festivals are about the main fall harvest of humanity into the family of God. 

Those who thought that they are celebrating the resurrection of the first fruits on the fall Feast of Trumpets, or celebrating the Millennium at the Feast of Tabernacles are entirely mistaken, being contrary to scripture.

Tabernacles is a seven day Festival while Peter tells us that one day [NOT SEVEN DAYS] is as one thousand years. It is oxymoronic to claim that a spring harvest is reaped at any time other than in the spring. 

This background information is important to understand the Biblical Festivals of God in general including the Feast of Trumpets. 

The Intermediate Feast Days

The weekly Sabbath Day and the first and seventh days of the Feast of Unleavened Bread are High Holy Days; on which no work of any kind may be done.

The weekly Sabbath Day and the first day of the fall Feast of Tabernacles along with the attached Feast of the Eighth Day are High Holy Days on which no work of any kind may be done.

Except for the weekly Sabbath, the intermediate days of the Feast of Unleavened Bread and the intermediate days of the Feast of Tabernacles are not High Holy Days and work may be done on them provided we also assemble for worship services.

We are to assemble on every day of these two seven day Feasts and rejoice before God; however necessary work – like cooking, shopping  and washing – may be done on the intermediate days [except the Holy Days and the Weekly Sabbath].

 

The High Holy Days

The weekly Sabbath, the first and last days of the Feast of Unleavened Bread, the first day of the Feast of Tabernacles and the Feast of the Eighth Day are High Holy Days.

On the weekly Sabbath and annual Holy Days no work of any kind may be done except that which God has commanded for that day; and acts of mercy.

The Appointed Time of Passover represents the sacrifice of the Lamb of God for the sins of teh world.  Passover day ends at sunset ending the 14th day of the first month. The first High Holy Day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread begins as the sun sets on the 14th day and begins the 15th day of the first month.

After sunset ends Passover day, we are to begin the High Holy Day with a “Night To Be Much Observed;” to discuss and expound the exodus from Egypt. Later assemblies are also to be held during the daylight portion of the High Holy Day, and teachings on coming out of Egypt as an allegory of coming out of bondage to sin are to be presented along with the spiritual meaning of this Feast.  

The Feast of Unleavened Bread is seven days long. Holy Convocations [assemblies] are to be held on every day of the Feast.  Work may be done on the intermediate days [except the weekly Sabbath] as mentioned above.

The Seventh Day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread is a High Holy Day, on which we are to assemble and hear the Song of Moses expounded, and to hear messages on the power of God and His victory over Egypt; and messages on the gift of God’s victory over bondage to sin.

The seven day Feast of Unleavened Bread is about coming out of bondage in Egypt, and is an allegory of God calling out an early harvest of lives from bondage to Satan and sin; over the first six thousands of history [the first six days of the Feast] to be trained and tested.

Those who faithfully follow their Lord to live by every Word of God will be resurrected to spirit as an early harvest of lives at the end of the sixth day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread, picturing the end of six thousand years; which will be followed by a one thousand year Millennial Sabbath of peace pictured by the seventh day High Day.

 

Tithes and Festival Offerings

The First Tithe

The law commands that the people tithe a tenth of all their increase to the Levites who must then tithe a tenth of that to the priests (Numbers 18:24-28).  

The tithe to the Levites is to support them in their work doing the menial things of the tabernacle – later the temple; and Moses set the Levites as teachers of the people in the synagogue system. 

In Psalm 74:8 David prophecies that an enemy will destroy the synagogues from the land, which implies that synagogues existed in the time of David. The synagogue system was created as schools where the Levites could teach the Word of God to all people.  After the Babylonian captivity Ezra restored the synagogue system to Judah. 

In addition, such functions as Levitical choirs were also added by David. 

A tithe of the tithe received by the Levites is to be given to the priests to pay for the sacrifices commanded to be offered on behalf of the whole nation including the Daily, the Sabbath and New Moon, and the Festival sacrifices.  In addition the priests were to receive wages for offering sacrifices on behalf of individuals in the form of a portion of the personal sacrifices. 

David set up courses of priests to serve one by one at the tabernacle, later the temple; and because the vast majority of personal individual sacrifices were made at the Festivals and because of the Festival work load, all priests were to serve at all of the Festivals. 

The tithe from the people was to be a tenth of their increase which means that all expenses incurred to earn that income are to be deducted before tithing. 

For example travel expenses to and from work, work clothes and cleaning – dry cleaning,  education and training, and any other expenses needed to earn the income; like customer entertainment expenses to make a sale, work tools, and raw materials for resale as more finished products. 

Further since God gave each family a plot of land, which many do not have today it is permissible to deduct a reasonable amount for housing costs. 

That covers the Levitical tithe

Festival Tithes

God also commanded that every person in the land who is able, were to journey to the place where God had placed his name, i.e. the tabernacle or temple; three times a year

Deuteronomy 16:16 Three times in a year shall all thy males appear before the LORD thy God in the place which he shall choose; in the feast of unleavened bread, and in the feast of weeks, and in the feast of tabernacles: and they shall not appear before the LORD empty:

To pay for these three annual journeys to the Holy Place, another tithe on our increase is commanded

Deuteronomy 14:22 Thou shalt truly tithe all the increase of thy seed, that the field bringeth forth year by year. 14:23 And thou shalt eat before the LORD thy God, in the place which he shall choose to place his name there, the tithe of thy corn [grain], of thy wine, and of thine oil [a festival tithe of all of our increase], and [we are also to bring the first fruits of the particular harvest to the  spring summer and fall Festivals] the firstlings of thy herds and of thy flocks; that thou mayest learn to fear the LORD thy God always

The purpose of appearing as a nation before God was to learn about God. Festival sermons are to be about God, His Word, His Law, His Wisdom and His Greatness; to bring the people to, and keep them close to God; and to exhort them to live by every Word of God.

14:24 And if the way be too long for thee, so that thou art not able to carry it; or if the place be too far from thee, which the LORD thy God shall choose to set his name there, when the LORD thy God hath blessed thee: 14:25 Then shalt thou turn it into money, and bind up the money in thine hand, and shalt go unto the place which the LORD thy God shall choose: 14:26 And thou shalt bestow that [Festival tithe] money for whatsoever thy soul lusteth [lawfully desires] after, for oxen, or for sheep, or for wine, or for strong drink, or for whatsoever thy soul desireth: and thou shalt eat there before the LORD thy God, and thou shalt rejoice, thou, and thine household,

It is self evident that some people were left at home; the unclean, the very young or very aged, the seriously ill and their care givers and those needed to care for the flocks and herds; but the intent was and is, that as many as possible attend the three annual pilgrim Festivals. 

The three annual Festivals were for the people to appear before the LORD to learn of Him; to worship God and to exalt Him and to rejoice with their God. 

The Festival tithe was to be spent in attending these Festivals and feasting before the LORD as an allegory of a spiritual feast on the Word of God; and in great rejoicing over the physical harvests; as an allegory of feasting on the Word of God and looking forward to the wondrous spiritual harvests of humanity that these physical harvests represent in the plan of God.

We are to rejoice; NOT because – as some wrongly think – that we will get ours and dominate others in the Kingdom of God, but because we shall be laborers bringing in the sheaves of humanity into the family of God!  Saving humanity! 

When someone is well off, they are NOT to spend their Festival tithe on tourist activities and non God centered activities, instead they are to share with their less well off brethren.

14:27 And the Levite that is within thy gates; thou shalt not forsake him; for he hath no part nor inheritance with thee.

Festival Offerings

In addition to our Festival tithes for us to eat and rejoice with before God, and the Festival sacrifices of the priests on behalf of the whole nation; the people are commanded to bring an offering to God on each of the three pilgrim festivals, that is three times a year.

Deuteronomy  16:17 Every man shall give as he is able, according to the blessing of the LORD thy God which he hath given thee. 

These offerings could be, but were not primarily gifts of money to be given to the Levites or to the priests; they were the sacrificial “Freewill and Thank Offerings” of rejoicing which were to be eaten by the offerer and shared with families and with the Levites.  Therefore they are not commanded to be offered on the Fast of Atonement or the Feast of Trumpets, but on three specifically commanded occasions. 

Offerings may also be given on occasions of great rejoicing such as the dedication of the temple, but are only COMMANDED for the three Festivals each year.  (See also 2 Chr 31:14 Hezekiah’s reformation, the return from exile: Ezr 1:4-6; Ezr 2:68; Ezr 7:16; Ezr 8:28; Ne 7:70-72 and the Eze 46:11-12 millennial temple).

The meaning of these Freewill and Thank Offerings is far deeper than merely casting some money into a basket. 

These Festival offerings had to be killed in the Temple before God [although they were NOT sacrifices but offerings]; they had to be eaten inside the temple; and they had to be shared with family, friends and the Levites! 

The Freewill and Thank Offerings were a physical allegory of a festive spiritual family meal, with God the Father at the head of the table, and his family gathered about him; in harmony and at peace, eating and rejoicing in the presence of God, as an example of eating [internalizing] the Word of God!   There is so much more meaning to the Festival Offerings than mere mammon!

These Festival Freewill and Thank Offerings are not sacrifices to God; they are voluntary Free Will Offerings, brought on occasions of celebration or spiritual significance; to be eaten WITH God and with the people of God in rejoicing. The animal offered was to be killed in the temple and was then eaten as a festive banquet in the temple. 

That is how things are to be done when we have a physical temple, yet today there is no physical temple. Nevertheless the Festivals should be observed today in this New Covenant spiritual dispensation with great rejoicing and an emphasis on spiritual feasting on the Word of God. 

In Conclusion

We have no physical temple today and cannot kill and eat our Freewill and Thank Offerings before the LORD, yet we can and should feast together spiritually on the Word of God.  

Yes, do give a Freewill Offering of money in place of an animal meal offering at the temple, but remember that the money offering is only a token of the Thank and Freewill Offerings to be made and eaten before the LORD in the temple; and understand that the meaning of the Freewill and Thank Offerings, is rejoicing together with God and eating [internalizing] the nature of God, to live by every Word of God in harmonious fellowship with God and all other faithful godly persons! 

After Jesus Christ comes he will build the third Temple and the physical sacrifices and offerings will be renewed.  The descendants of loyal Zadok will be called into the New Covenant of Jeremiah 31:31; and as New Covenant physical priests will officiate in the physical duties of this third Temple.  At that time Jesus Christ will clarify every detail of the Temple service and every detail of the spiritual meaning of that Temple service and God’s sacrificial system. 

In the millennium it will not be possible for every person of the billions on earth to go to Jerusalem three times a year [look at the problems Mecca has with a few million at the Hajj once each year and add to that the sacrifices and offerings], but our LORD will resolve that problem; perhaps by having the nations send different representatives each year to each Festival while most people in the nations keep the Festivals in their own countries as the Ekklesia does today. 

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