Jesus Christ promised that in the future His disciples would receive special power to understand and remember the spiritual concepts He had taught them.
He told them: “I have said these things to you while I am still with you. But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit . . . the Father will send in my name, will teach you everything, and remind you of all that I have said to you” (John 14:26, New Revised Standard Version).
These feasts are a shadow of not only things that are now past, but of things still to come, for their meanings have not yet been totally fulfilled.
He later added: “I have much more to say to you, but right now it would be more than you could understand. The Spirit shows what is true and will come and guide you into the full truth” (John 16:12-13, Contemporary English Version).
After Christ’s death and resurrection, when the disciples received the Holy Spirit on the biblical Feast of Pentecost (Acts 2:4), this new power helped them to understand the spiritual meaning and depth of Jesus’ sayings.
The true spiritual significance of Passover
One such case was the meaning of the symbols of the Passover ceremony, which He spoke to them about in the last Passover they observed with Him just before His arrest and crucifixion.
He had said, “‘With fervent desire I have desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer; for I say to you, I will no longer eat of it until it is fulfilled in the kingdom of God.’
“Then He took the cup, and gave thanks, and said, ‘Take this and divide it among yourselves; for I say to you, I will not drink of the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God comes.’ And He took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them, saying, ‘This is My body which is given for you; do this in remembrance of Me’” (Luke 22:15-19, emphasis added throughout).
They came to realize that the annual Passover remembrance now had a new meaning—that of remembering Christ’s sacrifice until He returns.
Notice that He told them to observe it not only just then, or just until some future generation of Christians would change and replace it with Easter, but until He came back to establish the Kingdom of God on the earth.
This is why the apostle Paul instructed the Corinthian church to continue celebrating the Passover, but now with the newly highlighted symbols and spiritual significance Jesus Christ had conveyed to His followers.
Paul told them: “For I received from the Lord that which I also delivered to you: that the Lord Jesus on the same night in which He was betrayed took bread; and when He had given thanks, He broke it and said, ‘Take, eat; this is My body which is broken for you; do this in remembrance of Me.’ In the same manner He also took the cup after supper, saying, ‘This cup is the new covenant in My blood. This do, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of Me.’ For as often as you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death till He comes” (1 Corinthians 11:23-26).
Paul had understood this connection and therefore called the feasts of God “a shadow of things to come” (Colossians 2:17). Bear in mind they are a shadow of not only things that are now past, but of things still to come, for their meanings have not yet been totally fulfilled.
He could thus say to the Corinthians about this underlying meaning of Passover, “Christ, our Passover, was sacrificed for us” (1 Corinthians 5:7).
The spiritual importance of the Feast of Unleavened Bread
The same realization came to the early Christians with the next festival commanded in the Bible in Leviticus 23—the Feast of Unleavened Bread. They discovered its spiritual meaning.
For example, Paul likewise explained to the Corinthian brethren about the spiritually deeper significance of the Feast of Unleavened Bread. He wrote to them, “Therefore let us keep the feast, not with old leaven, nor with the leaven of malice and wickedness, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth” (Leviticus 23:8).
Here Paul is comparing the leavened bread that was to be avoided on those seven days of the feast with sin—“malice and wickedness”—while equating the unleavened bread that was to be eaten during this time with the godly virtues of “sincerity and truth,” which is what Christians are now to put into their lives.
How thrilling it must have been for the apostles and members of the early Church to discover the deeper spiritual meaning and significance of each of the biblical feasts—just as we still can today!
Keeping the biblical feasts with Christian understanding
Next, the early Christians also connected Pentecost to the receiving of the Holy Spirit on that very same day, for this was when the Church received the Holy Spirit for the first time (Acts 2:1-4). And as shown in the book of Acts, the Church continued to keep God’s feasts throughout this whole period of time (Acts 12:3-4; Acts 20:6; Acts 20:16; Acts 27:9; 1 Corinthians 16:8).
As The Encyclopedia Britannica states: “The first Christians continued to observe the Jewish festivals [as found in the Bible in Leviticus 23], though in a new spirit, as commemorations of events which those festivals had foreshadowed. Thus the Passover, with a new conception added to it of Christ as the true Paschal Lamb . . . continued to be observed . . .” (11th edition, Vol. 8, p. 828, “Easter”).
So here, in short order, are God’s steps of salvation as revealed through His feasts found in the Bible. They are shown graphically as steps progressing upward, as more knowledge, understanding and experience are acquired. They show each step is necessary to complete before taking the next one. The whole gist of the Bible can be found in them, from righteous Abel (Matthew 23:35), the first faithful follower of God whose story is found in Genesis, to the final people who are eventually saved, which is described in the book of Revelation.
It is a worthwhile study to go over each scripture below and relate it to the chart at
Steps in God’s plan of salvation
The first step of God’s salvation plan deals with the meaning of the Passover and what conversion is all about. This process is called justification in the Bible, where we are to develop “fruits worthy of repentance” (Matthew 3:8), also described in these three scriptures Romans 5:1-3; Roman 8:30 and Titus 3:3-7.
The second step is concerned with the Days of Unleavened Bread and the concept of separation or coming out from sin and the false values of the world. As Jesus said of His followers: “They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. Sanctify them by Your truth. Your word is truth” (John 17:16-17). This process commences prior to repentance, but significantly advances following repentance.
The third step has to do with Pentecost and the receiving of the Holy Spirit. This greatly enables the process of sanctification, being set apart to God, through having God’s Spirit in us. Paul said, “Now if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he is not His” (Romans 8:7).
The Bible shows that receiving this Spirit comes from the laying on of hands by God’s ministry: “Then Paul said, ‘John indeed baptized with a baptism of repentance, saying to the people that they should believe on Him who would come after him, that is, on Christ Jesus.’ When they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. And when Paul had laid hands on them, the Holy Spirit came upon them . . .” (Acts 19:4-6).
Next comes the fourth step dealing with the Feast of Trumpets and the second coming of Christ. This is when the resurrection and glorification of God’s saints—His sanctified or set apart people (all true Christians as well as all faithful believers of Old Testament times)—will take place. The apostle Paul described it this way: “Behold, I tell you a mystery: We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed—in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed” (1 Corinthians 15:51-52).
Notice that here, and in a parallel passage in 1 Thessalonians 4:15-17, Paul states this will happen at the sound of the last trumpet—connecting it to the biblical Feast of Trumpets.
Then follows the fifth step represented by the Day of Atonement and the binding of Satan for 1,000 years. This begins the process of purification of the earth from its thousands of years of moral and spiritual corruption. Satan will be bound and locked away so he will no longer be able to spiritually deceive the nations as he has done throughout human history.
As Revelation 20:2-3 says prophetically, “He laid hold of the dragon, that serpent of old, who is the Devil and Satan, and bound him for a thousand years; and he cast him into the bottomless pit, and shut him up, and set a seal on him, so that he should deceive the nations no more till the thousand years were finished.”
The sixth step entails the Feast of Tabernacles and Jesus Christ establishing the Kingdom of God on earth for a thousand years. This begins the process of beautification of the world when the curse over the plants and animals will be removed and the earth will abound in fruitfulness and beauty.
We read in Isaiah 11:6-7 about this transformation: “The wolf also shall dwell with the lamb, the leopard shall lie down with the young goat, the calf and the young lion and the fatling together; and a little child shall lead them. The cow and the bear shall graze; their young ones shall lie down together; and the lion shall eat straw like the ox.”
The seventh step covers the period of the Great White Throne Judgment, called the Eighth Day or Last Great Day, which deals with the time when the great majority of the earth’s dead will be resurrected and will come to know God for the first time. Described in Revelation 20:11-13, this will be a time of evaluation, with the Bible as the standard and their instruction book, while the Book of Life is opened to them to be inscribed in if they accept Christ as their Savior and go through the feast-steps of salvation.
As Paul said, “For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth” (1 Timothy 2:3-4). One day, this will occur!
Finally, at the completion of the feast-steps, God the Father will come down with the New Jerusalem and dwell with His glorified children. This is when all of the saved of mankind enter into eternity as God’s children dwelling together with Him as His family forever. As Revelation 21:3-7 says of this time:
“And I heard a loud voice from heaven saying, ‘Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people. God Himself will be with them and be their God. And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away . . . He who overcomes shall inherit all things, and I will be his God and he shall be My son.’”
What a wonderful plan of God we have in front of us! It is the great gift of God the Father and Jesus Christ to all of us. So, where are we now in this plan? Isn’t it time you looked into these biblical festivals and what they have to teach us about God’s plan?