Last night, at sundown, Jewish families in Israel began celebrating a seven day Passover week also known as the Festival of Unleavened Bread.
Meanwhile Israeli security has gone on a heightened state of alert in anticipation that Palestinian militants will attempt to disrupt the celebration of this ancient holiday. My concern, however, is that a far greater destruction–that no one was looking for– has already occurred. At a cost that cannot be measured in human life and faith, the link between this Holiday Week and the events that showed its real meaning has, too often, been lost.
The Amazing Prophetic Story of Seven Holidays
According to Leviticus 23, the God of Israel instructed the Jewish people to honor an annual cycle of seven holidays. Three of these festivals occur during the Passover week. A fourth, The Feast of Weeks, which many of us know as Pentecost, occurs seven weeks later. Then after a period of about six months, the last three Holy days, the Day of Atonement, Feast of Trumpets and Feast of Tabernacles are grouped together in a couple of weeks of Fall Festivals. Let’s take another look at how the timing and symbolic significance of these holidays tell, in their own way, the greatest story ever told.
Passover Begins the Annual Cycle
Passover is the first of an annual cycle of Jewish holidays that begins every year on the 14th of the Hebrew month of Nisan. According to Leviticus 23:4-11. God made the lunar period which corresponds to our March-April to be the first month of every religious Jewish new year.
A Partially Fulfilled Calendar
Before the destruction of the Temple in 70 A.D., Jewish families brought a young lamb or goat to be sacrificed at their Temple in Jerusalem on the afternoon of the 14th day of Nisan. That night they ate it together on the15th of Nisan which also was the beginning of the Festival of Unleavened Bread. At this symbolic Seder meal Jewish people remembered their supernatural deliverance from Egypt and the new life that followed. Then on the 16th day of Nisan, corresponding with the Feast of Firstfruits, or “waving of the Omer”, Jewish people began the Counting of the Omer, a nightly reminder of the approach of the holiday of Shavuot (also known as Feast of Weeks or Pentecost) 50 days later.
Here’s what I find so compelling. The first three festivals correspond to the holy Jewish week in which Jesus was crucified as the Lamb of God. The feasts of the 14th, 15th, and 16th of Nisan correspond to his death, burial and resurrection. Beginning on the 16th, Jewish Jewish families begin a daily countdown to the 4th festival of Pentecost. I also find that amazingly significant. On the holiday that Jewish people celebrate the giving of the Law at Sinai, the New Testament tells us Jesus sent his Spirit to bond into one body those who believe in him, and to give them the spiritual enablement to live by the heart and Spirit of the Law.
Three holidays remain unfulfilled. The sixth months between the Spring Feasts and Fall Feasts seem to correspond to the period of time that has elapsed prior to the fulfillment of the last 3 Jewish Holy Days. These last three seem to point to events that have not yet come to pass: The spiritual turning of Israel to their Messiah, his Return, and God finally living among His people.
What about you? Do you find the correspondence of this ancient cycle of seven Jewish holidays to the life, death, resurrection, and promised return of Jesus as compelling as I do?