The Feasts of God: How Jesus Taught Christians to WorshipSeptember 20, 2023
What is the most famous Christian celebration? Most people would probably say Christmas. The next most popular answer would likely be Easter. But did you know that Christmas and Easter are not mentioned in the Bible? These celebrations came into the church centuries after Christ, after the church started to adopt pagan customs. The true feasts of God have their origin in the Old Testament, when God established the old covenant with the Israelites He saved out of Egypt. These feasts were updated by Jesus, the prophet like Moses (Acts 3:22), when He established the new covenant in the New Testament times. The new covenant feasts of God were kept by the early church, but were completely abolished by the 4th century. The feasts of God have now been restored in the World Mission Society Church of God.
The Feasts of God
All the feasts of God can be found in Leviticus chapter 23.
Leviticus 23:1-2 The Lord said to Moses, “Speak to the Israelites and say to them: ‘These are my appointed festivals, the appointed festivals of the Lord, which you are to proclaim as sacred assemblies.’
The Sabbath Day
Leviticus 23:3 “‘There are six days when you may work, but the seventh day is a day of sabbath rest, a day of sacred assembly. You are not to do any work; wherever you live, it is a sabbath to the Lord.'”
While many think the weekly Sabbath day was abolished in favour of Sunday worship, this is not the case. Jesus kept the Sabbath day on the seventh day, Saturday, and there is no record of him ever keeping a weekly Sunday worship.
Luke 4:16 He [Jesus] went to Nazareth, where he had been brought up, and on the Sabbath day he went into the synagogue, as was his custom.
The apostles followed Jesus’ example and worshipped God on the Sabbath day even after His resurrection.
Acts 17:2-3 As was his custom, Paul went into the synagogue, and on three Sabbath days he reasoned with them from the Scriptures, explaining and proving that the Messiah had to suffer and rise from the dead.
We, too, must keep the weekly feast of God, worshipping on Saturday, the Sabbath day.
Leviticus 23:5 “‘The Lord’s Passover begins at twilight on the fourteenth day of the first month.'”
In the Old Testament, this feast of God commemorated the emancipation of the Israelites from slavery in Egypt after God’s people put the blood of the Passover lamb on their doorframes. In the New Testament times, Jesus set His people free from the slavery of sin and death by sacrificing Himself as the Passover Lamb.
1 Corinthians 5:7-8 Get rid of the old yeast, so that you may be a new unleavened batch — as you really are. For Christ, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed. Therefore let us keep the Festival, not with the old bread leavened with malice and wickedness, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.
Jesus and His disciples kept the new covenant Passover with bread and wine on the 14th day of the first month of the sacred calendar. While many Christians commemorate the last supper with a weekly, monthly, or even daily communion or eucharist, Jesus clearly identified that the bread and wine He ate the night before his crucifixion was part of the new covenant Passover ceremony. The bread and wine that contains Jesus’ flesh and blood is only the Passover bread and wine that Jesus directed His disciples to prepare (Matthew 26:17). This is why Jesus eagerly desired to keep the Passover.
Luke 22:15-20 And he said to them, “I have eagerly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer…. And he took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body given for you; do this in remembrance of me.” In the same way, after the supper he took the cup, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which is poured out for you.”
The early church kept the Passover by eating bread and wine representing Jesus’ flesh and blood on the 14th day of the first month of the sacred calendar each year. We, too, must keep the Passover at the appointed time each year to receive eternal life and the forgiveness of sins.
The Feast of Unleavened Bread
Leviticus 23:5-6 “On the fifteenth day of that [first] month the Lord’s Festival of Unleavened Bread begins.”
The day after the Passover is the Feast of Unleavened Bread (the 15th day of the first month). Jesus was arrested the night He kept the Passover (14th) and the next day (15th) He was crucified. In the Old Testament times, the Feast of Unleavened Bread commemorated the flight of the Israelites from Egypt to the Red Sea. They suffered while they were pursued by the Egyptian army.
In the New Testament times, this feast of God commemorates Jesus’ suffering on the cross to save us. While many Christians commemorate Jesus’ death on Good Friday, the Biblical date to commemorate His suffering is the 15th day of the first month in the sacred calendar.
Leviticus 23:1-2 The Lord said to Moses, “Speak to the Israelites and say to them: ‘When you enter the land I am going to give you and you reap its harvest, bring to the priest a sheaf of the first grain you harvest. He is to wave the sheaf before the Lord so it will be accepted on your behalf; the priest is to wave it on the day after the Sabbath.'”
In the Old Testament, God told the Israelites to celebrate the Day of Firstfruits on the Sunday following the Feast of Unleavened Bread. This festival commemorated God’s mighty power that was revealed when He opened the way for the Israelites to cross the Red Sea.
In the New Testament times, this feast of God commemorates Jesus’ resurrection on the Sunday following His crucifixion on the Feast of Unleavened Bread. The offering of firstfruits (the first grain of the harvest) represents Jesus, who rose from the dead and opened the way for God’s people to resurrect.
1 Corinthians 15:20 But Christ has indeed been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep.
Jesus’ resurrection should always be celebrated on the Sunday following the Feast of Unleavened Bread, in accordance with the timing of the corresponding Old Testament feast of God, the Day of Firstfruits. Nowadays, Christians celebrate Jesus’ resurrection on Easter Sunday, but the date is not calculated based on the sacred calendar. Easter Sunday falls on the first Sunday after the first full moon following the spring equinox. It is a non-Biblical calculation that came out of the Council of Nicaea in 325 AD. At the religious council organized by Roman Emperor Constantine, the Passover was abolished and the church separated the commemoration of Jesus’ resurrection from the sacred calendar.
Leviticus 23:15-16 “‘From the day after the Sabbath, the day you brought the sheaf of the wave offering, count off seven full weeks. Count off fifty days up to the day after the seventh Sabbath, and then present an offering of new grain to the Lord.'”
In the Old Testament, the Israelites were instructed to celebrate the Feast of Weeks, the fiftieth day after the Day of Firstfruits. This feast of God commemorated the time when Moses went up Mount Sinai to receive the Ten Commandments. In the Old Testament, the name reflected the fact that the feast was celebrated after seven weeks following the Day of Firstfruits.
In the New Testament, this feast of God is called the Pentecost, after the Greek word meaning “50th”. It is celebrated on the 50th day after Resurrection Day and carries the promise of receiving the Holy Spirit.
Acts 2:1-4 When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place. Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues (languages) as the Spirit enabled them.
The Feast of Trumpets, the Day of Atonement and the Feast of Tabernacles
The last three feasts of God occur in autumn. They are the Feast of Trumpets, the Day of Atonement and the Feast of Tabernacles, which lasts seven days. They, too, have their origin in the time of Moses.
After Moses went up Mount Sinai to receive the Ten Commandments, the Israelites made a golden calf and worshipped it. When Moses came down, he smashed the Ten Commandments. However, the Israelites repented. This event is commemorated through the Feast of Trumpets. Each year the Israelites would blow the trumpets of repentance in preparation for the Day of Atonement, which commemorates the day when Moses came down the mountain with the second set of the Ten Commandments.
The Day of Atonement is the only time the High Priest could enter the Most Holy Place. All the sins accumulated in the sanctuary were handed over to the scapegoat on this day. In the New Testament times, our sins, which are carried by Christ, are handed over to Satan.
Leviticus 23:23-24 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.'”
Leviticus 23:26-28 The Lord said to Moses, “The tenth day of this seventh month is the Day of Atonement. Hold a sacred assembly and deny yourselves, and present a food offering to the Lord. Do not do any work on that day, because it is the Day of Atonement, when atonement is made for you before the Lord your God.”
After Moses came down the mountain, the Israelites prepared materials for the tabernacle. Spiritually, this represents the gathering of God’s people who will receive salvation.
Leviticus 23:33-36 The Lord said to Moses, “Say to the Israelites: ‘On the fifteenth day of the seventh month the Lord’s Festival of Tabernacles begins, and it lasts for seven days. The first day is a sacred assembly; do no regular work. For seven days present food offerings to the Lord, and on the eighth day hold a sacred assembly and present a food offering to the Lord. It is the closing special assembly; do no regular work.
Though they are three feasts of God, the Feast of Trumpets, the Day of Atonement and the Feast of Tabernacles, they are often described by a representative name — the Feast of Tabernacles — as they were all kept in the same season. The Bible clearly describes Jesus keeping the Feast of Tabernacles as an example for us.
John 7:2 But when the Jewish Festival of Tabernacles was near…. On the last and greatest day of the festival, Jesus stood and said in a loud voice, “Let anyone who is thirsty come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as Scripture has said, rivers of living water will flow from within them.” By this he meant the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were later to receive. Up to that time the Spirit had not been given, since Jesus had not yet been glorified.
Jesus taught that we can also receive the Holy Spirit by keeping the Feast of Tabernacles after our sins have been transferred to Satan, the reality of the scapegoat, on the Day of Atonement.
The Feasts of God must be kept in the New Testament times
Everything that Jesus did was an example for us (John 13:15), from his humility to his example of how to worship God. We must keep the weekly and annual feasts of God, following Jesus’ example in order to receive God’s blessings.