Biblical Holy Days
Divinely Appointed Rehearsals for Major Events of Salvation History
Yes, you read that correctly: the Mighty God Who created heaven and earth and all things therein—the marvelous, transcendent God Who gave you life and ordained the number of your days also provided His covenant children a calendar to mark, celebrate, and rehearse each year the most significant annual days. If you are living in ignorance of these annual appointed rehearsals or perhaps know about them but let them pass by each year without observing and honoring them, perhaps you are missing some of the greatest blessings imaginable.
B. A. Wiseman
Your God-appointed times during each calendar year for the special observance, celebration, and rehearsal of past and future prophetic events of salvation history. If you never observe these days, after reading this article, you will no longer be able to claim ignorance when you stand before Jehovah Elohim on your future day of reckoning. Pause and reflect upon your life. Why were you created? What purpose did God intend for your life? Where has life taken you? How many days do you have left? Are you sure you will be alive tomorrow, next month, next year, or even an hour from now? Moses made an extremely important pleading in Scripture when he implored Jehovah, saying, “…teach us to number our days, that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom” (Psalm 90:12).
Most people live each day without a thought that they could be living their last days on earth, or that the people whom they love most in this world could suddenly be gone. The plain truth is that millions of people, even many professing Christians, live their days on this earth with little thought for making time on this earth relevant to the God Who gave them life. People plan vacations, weekend excursions, and other events as if there were no God and no conscious awareness that our days on this earth were to be marked by special times when we pause to recalibrate our lives, reset our mental and spiritual focus, and learn to live a more abundant life and complete the training that God purposed for us so that we will be fully matured soldiers when we depart this world and enter the world that is to come, a world that will one day find its completion in a glorious Kingdom that will fill this earth under the authority and divine leadership of Jesus Christ. Friend, have you considered this? Time is a treasure that God gives to each of us. Time cannot be stored, stopped, or recalled. How much of your time, your allotted days on this earth, do you spend in the celebration, worship, and marking the designated times that God appointed you? Please consider giving careful attention to one of the most important secrets to living in a manner that pleases your Creator. Choose a life of spiritual completeness, fulfillment, and service to Christ. This secret begins in your Bible with the Book of Genesis (1:14): “And God said, Let there be lights in the firmament of the heaven to divide the day from the night; and let them be for signs, and for seasons, and for days, and years.”
Our magnificent Almighty God, the One Who gave each of us life, holds all your days in His hand, and knows every secret of your heart, the God Who fashioned you in your mother’s womb and will one day judge you for your choices in this life, created you to live in harmony with Him and the physical world around you. At the dawn of creation, God established two significant lights, more important than any star or planet in our solar system. He made the sun to mark the days and the moon to mark the months.
Psalm 104:19 captures this truth: “He appointed the moon for seasons: the sun knoweth his going down.” The Psalmist David calls us to worship the Living God and ascribe all praise “To him that made great lights: for his mercy endureth for ever: The sun to rule by day: for his mercy endureth for ever: The moon and stars to rule by night: for his mercy endureth for ever” (Psa. 136:7-9).
Our eternal Father, Creator, and coming Judge established a divine calendar for His children to mark, measure, and allocate their days on this earth and thus make time, one of our most important treasures, relevant to Him. He placed a Big Ben in the sky, the sun, to mark the days. The moon He flung into space to divide the months. The words moon and month are interchangeable in Hebrew, coming from the root word chodesh. This is clear in reading I Samuel 20 and other passages in Scripture. In Exodus 12, Jehovah established the first month of the calendar year to fall in late March or early April, in the springtime, when all of nature is awakening from its long winter nap. This month on the biblical calendar is called Abib, meaning the month of green ears, and begins with the local astronomical new moon (or dark of the moon) falling closest to the Vernal Equinox. Every new moon is marked with the blowing of trumpets (Genesis 1:14; Exodus 12:2; Numbers 10:10; Psalm 81:1-4).
In a remarkable and creative act, God established a calendar for His children to mark off the seventh day of the week as the Holy Sabbath, a day of rest and worship, a time to reset and recalibrate our lives and make them relevant to the Creator. This biblical day is observed from evening to evening (Leviticus 23:32), or from sunset to sunset; it begins at sunset of the sixth day, the day of preparation (Exodus 16:5; Genesis 2:2-3; Exodus 20:8-11, 23:12, Deut. 5:12-15). What is the day of preparation? Falling on a Friday, this is the day in which we should do extra chores and preparation to insure that the Sabbath is truly a day of rest. Fill your gas tank in your car so you need to make no purchases on the Sabbath. Perhaps clean your house and make a meal for the day of rest, and gather in extra wood for your fire so you can reduce your chores on the Sabbath day.
The weekly Sabbath, falling on the seventh day of each week, prefigures the coming millennial Sabbath of one thousand years of rest. The seventh day of each week is when Christians should worship their Creator and take their rest in Christ, rehearsing that marvelous age to come when all the earth will be at rest with Christ in His one thousand-year millennial Sabbath.
Moreover, the seven annual holy days mark the annual rehearsal and celebration of the major prophetic events to unfold in salvation history. Each year on the seven high holy days, God intends His children to rehearse the marvelous events of salvation history. The unfolding patterns of prophetic truth are found in these annual holy days marked on the calendar God provided us. Consider these days marked in the spring, summer, and fall festivals.
The Spring Feasts
The beginning of the divine calendar opens with commemorating the Crucifixion and Resurrection of Jesus Christ. In brief, the spring festivals are as follows:
The Day of Passover
The Passover Day is observed annually each spring and falls on the new moon nearest the Vernal Equinox in late March or April. The Passover prefigured the Crucifixion of Jesus Christ and is marked annually as a memorial to Christ, our Passover sacrificed for us (I Cor. 5:7). The Passover Memorial Communion is an annual memorial to Christ’s death as the sacrificial Lamb. The celebration of the Eucharist, or Holy Communion, is commemorated annually on the late afternoon of each Day of Passover as a memorial to Christ’s suffering and death (Exodus 12:14; Luke 22:14-20; I Corinthians 11:23-30). Each time we observe the annual Passover Communion, we rehearse for that great day when in the very presence of Jesus Christ Himself, we shall celebrate this event: “For I say unto you, I will not drink of the fruit of the vine, until the kingdom of God shall come” (Luke 22:18).
The Wave Sheaf
We celebrate the Wave-Sheaf on the Sunday that follows the weekly Sabbath during the week of Unleavened Bread. The Wave-Sheaf prefigured the coming Resurrection of Jesus Christ and always falls on the Sunday after the weekly Sabbath of Passover and Unleavened Bread. This is an appropriate time for Christ’s church to celebrate His Resurrection from the dead. The Wave Sheaf celebration is a rehearsal for the coming resurrection of the dead in Christ, which will occur at His Second Coming in glory and power. How marvelous it is to celebrate the Resurrection of Jesus Christ at each annual Passover, and at the same time memorialize the great day when all the redeemed in Christ will be raised from the dead!
The seven days of Unleavened Bread begin with a high, holy day on the first day and end with a high, holy day on the seventh day. Each day is celebrated with a holy convocation (public assembly) of the church. The days of Unleavened Bread are observed with the removal of leaven from all foods and are an annual reminder that the blood of Jesus Christ saves us from the penalty of sin (a type of leaven), while the Holy Spirit keeps us from the habit and dominion of sin. Just as leaven is removed from the bread during this week, all Christians are reminded to put away sin from their lives through repentance, confession of sin, and seeking the face of God through faith in Jesus Christ. The days of Unleavened Bread are celebrated as a rehearsal of that great day when we will subdue all our sin nature in fully redeemed bodies and dwell in the Kingdom of God. “Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; neither doth corruption inherit incorruption” (I Corinthians 15:50).
The Feast of Pentecost
The Feast of Pentecost (Feast of Weeks or First Fruits as it is sometimes called) is also an annual high, holy day, always falling on a Sunday, the day that follows the Sabbath. It is observed by counting seven weeks from the Wave Sheaf Offering, falling on the day that follows the weekly Sabbath during the week of Unleavened Bread. Since Pentecost always falls on a Sunday, it generally is a two-day celebration, being combined with the Sabbath before it. Pentecost marks the fulfillment of the Early Rain of the Holy Spirit, which is the birth of the New Testament Israelite church—and this in fulfillment of Bible prophecy. Each Pentecost is a rehearsal of the future outpouring of the Latter Rain that is prophesied to come upon redeemed Israel as one of the great culminating events of Christ’s Second Coming and the establishment of His Theocratic Kingdom. Like the other festival days, Pentecost includes a holy convocation of the church.
The Feast of Trumpets
The Feast of Trumpets is a one-day celebration, a high, holy day, always celebrated with the blowing of trumpets on the first day of the seventh month (Ethanim) of the Hebrew calendar. The Feast of Trumpets is celebrated in anticipation of a still unfulfilled feast that will mark the Second Coming of Jesus Christ and the re-gathering of His redeemed people—and this in preparation for the reign of Christ in His Theocratic Kingdom. Each celebration of this glorious high, holy day is a rehearsal for the great day when the trumpet will sound, and Jesus Christ, His holy angels, and His redeemed Church will descend from heaven. The graves will open wide, and the dead in Christ shall rise with their fully redeemed bodies to rule and reign with Christ.
The Day of Atonement
This annual high, holy day is celebrated on the tenth day of the seventh month (Ethanim) and marks a day of fasting and prayer with a holy convocation and the celebration of Holy Communion of the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ as atonement for our sin. The appropriation of the blood of Christ marks this as one of the highest special days on the calendar. The day is spent in fasting, prayer, and holy convocation and is concluded with the Sacrament of Holy Communion in atonement for sin. Without the shedding of blood, there is no remission of sin (Hebrews 9:22).
The Day of Atonement remains an unfulfilled event on the prophetic calendar. It is rehearsed annually each year in anticipation of the great day when Jesus Christ will judge the world in righteousness, the wicked will be judged, sin will receive its just reward, the earth will be cleansed and purified from all wickedness, and the redeemed in Christ will be made ready for the Kingdom Age.
The Feast of Tabernacles
This is an eight-day celebration with a holy convocation convened on the first and the eighth day, both of which are high, holy days. While the Feast of Tabernacles celebrates the Virgin Birth of Jesus Christ, it is largely an unfulfilled festival. Prophetically, this festival looks forward to the future time when Christ will tabernacle among His redeemed people in His restored Theocratic Kingdom.
The Last Great Day of this festival, falling on the eighth and final day of the feast, is of special importance on the prophetic time line of salvation history. The Last Great Day points to the end of the thousand-year millennium when Christ, having put down all His enemies, will deliver His perfected Kingdom to God the Father. The last enemy—death—will have been destroyed! What a day that will be!
“Then cometh the end, when he shall have delivered up the kingdom to God, even the Father; when he shall have put down all rule and all authority and power. For he must reign, till he hath put all enemies under his feet. The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death” (I Cor. 5:24-26).
Each annual festival on the divine calendar is a miniature rehearsal for the monumental fulfillment to come. At Passover, Wave Sheaf, and Unleavened Bread, we rehearse the day of our full redemption when our resurrected and glorified bodies will come forth from the grave, and the leaven of sin will have been removed from our nature.
At Pentecost, we rehearse the coming Latter Rain of the Holy Spirit when under the power of the Comforter, we are fully prepared to live in a glorified body and press into the literal Kingdom of God on earth.
At the Feast of Trumpets, we are in annual rehearsal for the Second Coming of Jesus Christ, the opening of the graves for all who share in the first resurrection from the dead, and for the re-gathering of all the redeemed people of God.
The Day of Atonement is an annual rehearsal for the future judgment of God upon sin and the cleansing and purifying of the earth in preparation for the Kingdom Age.
The Feast of Tabernacles is our annual rehearsal in preparation for that great day when God will tabernacle among His people. “God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and here shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain for the former things are passed away” (Rev. 21:4).
May the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob be praised as you prepare to lead your family in the celebration and observance of the biblical holy days which Jehovah ordained and set apart for the benefit of His covenant people. Won’t you try them and see the blessings that unfold?