We celebrate the festival days God has commanded us to observe in Scripture, rejecting all man-made holidays derived from pagan worship, such as Christmas and Easter, in accordance with Deuteronomy 12:29-32 Deuteronomy 12:29-32 29 When the LORD your God shall cut off the nations from before you, where you go to possess them, and you succeed them, and dwell in their land;
30 Take heed to yourself that you be not snared by following them, after that they be destroyed from before you; and that you inquire not after their gods, saying, How did these nations serve their gods? even so will I do likewise.
31 You shall not do so to the LORD your God: for every abomination to the LORD, which he hates, have they done to their gods; for even their sons and their daughters they have burnt in the fire to their gods.
32 What thing soever I command you, observe to do it: you shall not add thereto, nor diminish from it.
American King James Version×.
When God delivered the nation of Israel from captivity in Egypt, He commanded the nation to participate in periods of special worship during the harvest seasons of the year (Exodus 23:14-16 Exodus 23:14-16 14 Three times you shall keep a feast to me in the year.
15 You shall keep the feast of unleavened bread: (you shall eat unleavened bread seven days, as I commanded you, in the time appointed of the month Abib; for in it you came out from Egypt: and none shall appear before me empty:)
16 And the feast of harvest, the first fruits of your labors, which you have sown in the field: and the feast of ingathering, which is in the end of the year, when you have gathered in your labors out of the field.
American King James Version×; Deuteronomy 16:1-17 Deuteronomy 16:1-17 1 Observe the month of Abib, and keep the passover to the LORD your God: for in the month of Abib the LORD your God brought you forth out of Egypt by night. 2 You shall therefore sacrifice the passover to the LORD your God, of the flock and the herd, in the place which the LORD shall choose to place his name there. 3 You shall eat no leavened bread with it; seven days shall you eat unleavened bread therewith, even the bread of affliction; for you came forth out of the land of Egypt in haste: that you may remember the day when you came forth out of the land of Egypt all the days of your life. 4 And there shall be no leavened bread seen with you in all your coast seven days; neither shall there any thing of the flesh, which you sacrificed the first day at even, remain all night until the morning. 5 You may not sacrifice the passover within any of your gates, which the LORD your God gives you: 6 But at the place which the LORD your God shall choose to place his name in, there you shall sacrifice the passover at even, at the going down of the sun, at the season that you came forth out of Egypt. 7 And you shall roast and eat it in the place which the LORD your God shall choose: and you shall turn in the morning, and go to your tents. 8 Six days you shall eat unleavened bread: and on the seventh day shall be a solemn assembly to the LORD your God: you shall do no work therein. 9 Seven weeks shall you number to you: begin to number the seven weeks from such time as you begin to put the sickle to the corn. 10 And you shall keep the feast of weeks to the LORD your God with a tribute of a freewill offering of your hand, which you shall give to the LORD your God, according as the LORD your God has blessed you: 11 And you shall rejoice before the LORD your God, you, and your son, and your daughter, and your manservant, and your maidservant, and the Levite that is within your gates, and the stranger, and the fatherless, and the widow, that are among you, in the place which the LORD your God has chosen to place his name there. 12 And you shall remember that you were a slave in Egypt: and you shall observe and do these statutes. 13 You shall observe the feast of tabernacles seven days, after that you have gathered in your corn and your wine: 14 And you shall rejoice in your feast, you, and your son, and your daughter, and your manservant, and your maidservant, and the Levite, the stranger, and the fatherless, and the widow, that are within your gates. 15 Seven days shall you keep a solemn feast to the LORD your God in the place which the LORD shall choose: because the LORD your God shall bless you in all your increase, and in all the works of your hands, therefore you shall surely rejoice. 16 Three times in a year shall all your males appear before the LORD your 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: 17 Every man shall give as he is able, according to the blessing of the LORD your God which he has given you.
American King James Version×). These are listed in full in Leviticus 23, where they are referred to in a number of Bible translations as “the feasts of the Lord” (Leviticus 23:2-4 Leviticus 23:2-4 2 Speak to the children of Israel, and say to them, Concerning the feasts of the LORD, which you shall proclaim to be holy convocations, even these are my feasts. 3 Six days shall work be done: but the seventh day is the sabbath of rest, an holy convocation; you shall do no work therein: it is the sabbath of the LORD in all your dwellings. 4 These are the feasts of the LORD, even holy convocations, which you shall proclaim in their seasons.
American King James Version×).
“Feast” is used here in the sense of festival or celebration. That is certainly a valid description, and four of the listed occasions are actually named in the original Hebrew Old Testament with the word chag or hag, meaning “festival.” But the Hebrew word used up front in verses 2-4 for all the occasions is mo’edim, meaning “appointed times.” Thus, these occasions are special appointments God has made with His people—appointments He wants us to keep.
Understanding of the gospel message and God’s plan of salvation is enriched by realizing that God uses the physical harvests of food crops to symbolize the spiritual harvests of human beings through God’s gift of salvation by Jesus Christ (Matthew 9:37-38 Matthew 9:37-38 37 Then said he to his disciples, The harvest truly is plenteous, but the laborers are few;
38 Pray you therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he will send forth laborers into his harvest.
American King James Version×; John 4:35 John 4:35Say not you, There are yet four months, and then comes harvest? behold, I say to you, Lift up your eyes, and look on the fields; for they are white already to harvest.
American King James Version×; John 15:1-8; Colossians 2:16-17 Colossians 2:16-17 16 Let no man therefore judge you in meat, or in drink, or in respect of an holy day, or of the new moon, or of the sabbath days: 17 Which are a shadow of things to come; but the body is of Christ.
American King James Version×). The first three festivals are associated with the spring harvests in the land of Israel, while the last four festivals are related to the harvest of late summer and fall.
Within the seven festivals are seven annual Holy Days or annual Sabbaths. These, along with God’s weekly Sabbath, are holy convocations, or commanded assemblies, of God’s people. They are holy because they are sanctified—set apart—by God. He commands His people to assemble on these days for worship and to learn about Him and His plan, as well as for fellowshipping and rejoicing together (Leviticus 23:1-4 Leviticus 23:1-4 1 And the LORD spoke to Moses, saying,
2 Speak to the children of Israel, and say to them, Concerning the feasts of the LORD, which you shall proclaim to be holy convocations, even these are my feasts.
3 Six days shall work be done: but the seventh day is the sabbath of rest, an holy convocation; you shall do no work therein: it is the sabbath of the LORD in all your dwellings.
4 These are the feasts of the LORD, even holy convocations, which you shall proclaim in their seasons.
American King James Version×; Deuteronomy 14:23-26 Deuteronomy 14:23-26 23 And you shall eat before the LORD your God, in the place which he shall choose to place his name there, the tithe of your corn, of your wine, and of your oil, and the firstborn of your herds and of your flocks; that you may learn to fear the LORD your God always. 24 And if the way be too long for you, so that you are not able to carry it; or if the place be too far from you, which the LORD your God shall choose to set his name there, when the LORD your God has blessed you: 25 Then shall you turn it into money, and bind up the money in your hand, and shall go to the place which the LORD your God shall choose: 26 And you shall bestow that money for whatever your soul lusts after, for oxen, or for sheep, or for wine, or for strong drink, or for whatever your soul desires: and you shall eat there before the LORD your God, and you shall rejoice, you, and your household,
American King James Version×; Nehemiah 8:1-12 Nehemiah 8:1-12 1 And all the people gathered themselves together as one man into the street that was before the water gate; and they spoke to Ezra the scribe to bring the book of the law of Moses, which the LORD had commanded to Israel. 2 And Ezra the priest brought the law before the congregation both of men and women, and all that could hear with understanding, on the first day of the seventh month. 3 And he read therein before the street that was before the water gate from the morning until midday, before the men and the women, and those that could understand; and the ears of all the people were attentive to the book of the law. 4 And Ezra the scribe stood on a pulpit of wood, which they had made for the purpose; and beside him stood Mattithiah, and Shema, and Anaiah, and Urijah, and Hilkiah, and Maaseiah, on his right hand; and on his left hand, Pedaiah, and Mishael, and Malchiah, and Hashum, and Hashbadana, Zechariah, and Meshullam. 5 And Ezra opened the book in the sight of all the people; (for he was above all the people;) and when he opened it, all the people stood up: 6 And Ezra blessed the LORD, the great God. And all the people answered, Amen, Amen, with lifting up their hands: and they bowed their heads, and worshipped the LORD with their faces to the ground. 7 Also Jeshua, and Bani, and Sherebiah, Jamin, Akkub, Shabbethai, Hodijah, Maaseiah, Kelita, Azariah, Jozabad, Hanan, Pelaiah, and the Levites, caused the people to understand the law: and the people stood in their place. 8 So they read in the book in the law of God distinctly, and gave the sense, and caused them to understand the reading. 9 And Nehemiah, which is the Tirshatha, and Ezra the priest the scribe, and the Levites that taught the people, said to all the people, This day is holy to the LORD your God; mourn not, nor weep. For all the people wept, when they heard the words of the law. 10 Then he said to them, Go your way, eat the fat, and drink the sweet, and send portions to them for whom nothing is prepared: for this day is holy to our LORD: neither be you sorry; for the joy of the LORD is your strength. 11 So the Levites stilled all the people, saying, Hold your peace, for the day is holy; neither be you grieved. 12 And all the people went their way to eat, and to drink, and to send portions, and to make great mirth, because they had understood the words that were declared to them.
American King James Version×).
The New Testament record shows that the first-century Christian Church continued to observe these biblical festivals. Jesus Christ Himself observed these festivals, and we as His followers are told to walk as He walked (John 7:8-14 John 7:8-14 8 Go you up to this feast: I go not up yet to this feast: for my time is not yet full come.
9 When he had said these words to them, he stayed still in Galilee.
10 But when his brothers were gone up, then went he also up to the feast, not openly, but as it were in secret.
11 Then the Jews sought him at the feast, and said, Where is he?
12 And there was much murmuring among the people concerning him: for some said, He is a good man: others said, No; but he deceives the people.
13 However, no man spoke openly of him for fear of the Jews.
14 Now about the middle of the feast Jesus went up into the temple, and taught.
American King James Version×; 1 John 2:6 1 John 2:6He that said he stays in him ought himself also so to walk, even as he walked.
American King James Version×)—to live as He lived.
The New Testament Church miraculously began on one of these annual festivals—the Day of Pentecost (Acts 2:1-4 Acts 2:1-4 1 And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place.
2 And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting.
3 And there appeared to them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat on each of them.
4 And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.
American King James Version×). The apostles and disciples of the early Church continued to observe these festivals long after Jesus’ death and resurrection (Acts 18:21 Acts 18:21But bade them farewell, saying, I must by all means keep this feast that comes in Jerusalem: but I will return again to you, if God will. And he sailed from Ephesus.
American King James Version×; Acts 20:16; Acts 27:9; 1 Corinthians 5:8 1 Corinthians 5:8Therefore let us keep the feast, not with old leaven, neither with the leaven of malice and wickedness; but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.
American King James Version×).
Paul upheld their observance and presented them as continuing “shadows” or outlines of the great events in God’s plan of salvation that are yet to be fulfilled (Colossians 2:16-17 Colossians 2:16-17 16 Let no man therefore judge you in meat, or in drink, or in respect of an holy day, or of the new moon, or of the sabbath days:
17 Which are a shadow of things to come; but the body is of Christ.
American King James Version×). He also instructed the gentile (non-Israelite) congregation in Corinth regarding one of the festivals, “Let us keep the feast” (1 Corinthians 5:8 1 Corinthians 5:8Therefore let us keep the feast, not with old leaven, neither with the leaven of malice and wickedness; but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.
American King James Version×).
Through the observance of these feasts, God’s people focus on and are reminded throughout the year of the work of Jesus the Messiah in fulfilling God’s plan of salvation. His work involves different phases—first coming to offer Himself as the sin sacrifice for humanity, now serving as Advocate and High Priest for His people and living within them to help them overcome sin, and ultimately returning in power and glory to establish the reign of the Kingdom of God over all nations.
All of this and more is pictured in the annual festivals. Through Christ as our focal point, we begin to understand the special meaning behind the annual feasts.
The plan of salvation as revealed in the Holy Scriptures is pictured in the meaning of these seven annual festivals listed in Leviticus 23. In brief:
The Passover, in early spring in the northern hemisphere, teaches us that Jesus Christ was sinless and, as the sacrificial “Lamb of God,” gave His life so that the sins of humanity could be forgiven and the death penalty removed (1 Corinthians 5:7 1 Corinthians 5:7Purge out therefore the old leaven, that you may be a new lump, as you are unleavened. For even Christ our passover is sacrificed for us:
American King James Version×; 1 Peter 1:18-20 1 Peter 1:18-20 18 For as much as you know that you were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, from your vain conversation received by tradition from your fathers; 19 But with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot: 20 Who truly was foreordained before the foundation of the world, but was manifest in these last times for you,
American King James Version×; Romans 3:25 Romans 3:25Whom God has set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God;
American King James Version×).
Passover, although not observed as an annual Sabbath on which no customary work is to be done, is the first festival of the year. Its observance includes foot-washing and the partaking of unleavened bread and wine as symbolic of Christ’s body and shed blood offered in sacrifice.
The Feast of Unleavened Bread, starting the day after Passover and continuing for seven days, teaches us that Jesus Christ leads us to reject lawlessness, repent of sin and live by every word of God (1 Corinthians 5:8 1 Corinthians 5:8Therefore let us keep the feast, not with old leaven, neither with the leaven of malice and wickedness; but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.
American King James Version×; Matthew 4:4 Matthew 4:4But he answered and said, It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God.
American King James Version×).
During this festival, leaven—an agent such as yeast that causes bread dough to rise during baking—symbolizes sin and is therefore removed from our homes and not eaten for the seven days (1 Corinthians 5:7-8 1 Corinthians 5:7-8 7 Purge out therefore the old leaven, that you may be a new lump, as you are unleavened. For even Christ our passover is sacrificed for us:
8 Therefore let us keep the feast, not with old leaven, neither with the leaven of malice and wickedness; but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.
American King James Version×; Exodus 12:19 Exodus 12:19Seven days shall there be no leaven found in your houses: for whoever eats that which is leavened, even that soul shall be cut off from the congregation of Israel, whether he be a stranger, or born in the land.
American King James Version×). By eating un leavened bread during this time instead, we picture living a life of sincerity and truth, free from sin. The first and last days of this seven-day festival are annual Sabbaths.
The Feast of Pentecost is an annual Sabbath in late spring in the northern hemisphere. Also called the Feast of Weeks or the Feast of Harvest or Firstfruits, it teaches us that Jesus Christ is now building His Church, comprising those who are a “kind of firstfruits” in the spiritual harvest of mankind, having the “firstfruits of the Spirit” (Exodus 23:16 Exodus 23:16And the feast of harvest, the first fruits of your labors, which you have sown in the field: and the feast of ingathering, which is in the end of the year, when you have gathered in your labors out of the field.
American King James Version×; Acts 2:1-4 Acts 2:1-4 1 And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place. 2 And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting. 3 And there appeared to them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat on each of them. 4 And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.
American King James Version×; Acts 2:37-39 Acts 2:37-39 37 Now when they heard this, they were pricked in their heart, and said to Peter and to the rest of the apostles, Men and brothers, what shall we do? 38 Then Peter said to them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. 39 For the promise is to you, and to your children, and to all that are afar off, even as many as the LORD our God shall call.
American King James Version×; James 1:18 James 1:18Of his own will begat he us with the word of truth, that we should be a kind of first fruits of his creatures.
American King James Version×; Romans 8:23 Romans 8:23And not only they, but ourselves also, which have the first fruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of our body.
American King James Version×).
These will be given salvation at the return of Christ. They have been empowered with the Holy Spirit, which creates in each one a new heart and nature to live in wholehearted obedience to the commandments of God. Jesus Himself is the first of the firstfruits, as formerly pictured in a special firstfruits offering during the previous festival (see Leviticus 23:9-14 Leviticus 23:9-14 9 And the LORD spoke to Moses, saying,
10 Speak to the children of Israel, and say to them, When you be come into the land which I give to you, and shall reap the harvest thereof, then you shall bring a sheaf of the first fruits of your harvest to the priest:
11 And he shall wave the sheaf before the LORD, to be accepted for you: on the morrow after the sabbath the priest shall wave it.
12 And you shall offer that day when you wave the sheaf an he lamb without blemish of the first year for a burnt offering to the LORD.
13 And the meat offering thereof shall be two tenth deals of fine flour mingled with oil, an offering made by fire to the LORD for a sweet smell: and the drink offering thereof shall be of wine, the fourth part of an hin.
14 And you shall eat neither bread, nor parched corn, nor green ears, until the selfsame day that you have brought an offering to your God: it shall be a statute for ever throughout your generations in all your dwellings.
American King James Version×; 1 Corinthians 15:20 1 Corinthians 15:20But now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the first fruits of them that slept.
American King James Version×, 23). Pentecost, Greek for “fiftieth,” is the 50th day counting from that initial offering.
The Feast of Trumpets, an annual Sabbath in late summer or early fall in the northern hemisphere, teaches us that Jesus Christ will visibly return to the earth at the end of this age. At that time He will resurrect God’s faithful servants who are no longer living and instantly change those obedient saints who are still alive into immortal spirit beings (Matthew 24:31 Matthew 24:31And he shall send his angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they shall gather together his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.
American King James Version×; 1 Corinthians 15:52-53 1 Corinthians 15:52-53 52 In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. 53 For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality.
American King James Version×; 1 Thessalonians 4:13-17 1 Thessalonians 4:13-17 13 But I would not have you to be ignorant, brothers, concerning them which are asleep, that you sorrow not, even as others which have no hope. 14 For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him. 15 For this we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain to the coming of the Lord shall not prevent them which are asleep. 16 For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: 17 Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord.
American King James Version×).
This festival commemorates the blowing of the trumpets that will precede and herald His return. Seven angels with seven trumpets are described in Revelation 8-10 heralding world-shaking events. Christ will return with the blowing of the seventh trumpet (Revelation 11:15 Revelation 11:15And the seventh angel sounded; and there were great voices in heaven, saying, The kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our Lord, and of his Christ; and he shall reign for ever and ever.
American King James Version×).
The Day of Atonement, an annual Sabbath following shortly after the previous one, points to the time when Satan the devil will be bound for 1,000 years (Leviticus 16:29-30 Leviticus 16:29-30 29 And this shall be a statute for ever to you: that in the seventh month, on the tenth day of the month, you shall afflict your souls, and do no work at all, whether it be one of your own country, or a stranger that sojournes among you:
30 For on that day shall the priest make an atonement for you, to cleanse you, that you may be clean from all your sins before the LORD.
American King James Version×, 20-22; Revelation 20:1-3 Revelation 20:1-3 1 And I saw an angel come down from heaven, having the key of the bottomless pit and a great chain in his hand. 2 And he laid hold on the dragon, that old serpent, which is the Devil, and Satan, and bound him a thousand years, 3 And cast him into the bottomless pit, and shut him up, and set a seal on him, that he should deceive the nations no more, till the thousand years should be fulfilled: and after that he must be loosed a little season.
American King James Version×). It pictures the removal of the primary cause of sin—Satan and his demons. Until God removes the original instigator of sin, mankind will continue to be led into disobedience and suffering.
This Holy Day also pictures our High Priest, Jesus Christ, making atonement for the sins of all mankind. This act of atonement—”at-one-ment”—allows us to be reconciled (at one) with God and have direct access to Him by spiritually entering into the “holiest of all” (Hebrews 9:8-14 Hebrews 9:8-14 8 The Holy Ghost this signifying, that the way into the holiest of all was not yet made manifest, while as the first tabernacle was yet standing:
9 Which was a figure for the time then present, in which were offered both gifts and sacrifices, that could not make him that did the service perfect, as pertaining to the conscience;
10 Which stood only in meats and drinks, and divers washings, and carnal ordinances, imposed on them until the time of reformation.
11 But Christ being come an high priest of good things to come, by a greater and more perfect tabernacle, not made with hands, that is to say, not of this building;
12 Neither by the blood of goats and calves, but by his own blood he entered in once into the holy place, having obtained eternal redemption for us.
13 For if the blood of bulls and of goats, and the ashes of an heifer sprinkling the unclean, sanctifies to the purifying of the flesh:
14 How much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without spot to God, purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?
American King James Version×; Hebrews 10:19-20). By fasting on this day, we draw closer to God and picture the reconciliation to God that all mankind will experience following Christ’s return. Christ is essential in this process as our High Priest (Hebrews 4:14-15 Hebrews 4:14-15 14 Seeing then that we have a great high priest, that is passed into the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our profession. 15 For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin.
American King James Version×; Hebrews 5:4-5, 10) and as our one sacrifice for sin forever (Hebrews 9:26-28 Hebrews 9:26-28 26 For then must he often have suffered since the foundation of the world: but now once in the end of the world has he appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself. 27 And as it is appointed to men once to die, but after this the judgment: 28 So Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many; and to them that look for him shall he appear the second time without sin to salvation.
American King James Version×; Hebrews 10:12).
The Feast of Tabernacles, also called the Feast of Ingathering, comes a few days after the previous Holy Day and lasts for seven days, the first being an annual Sabbath. This festival teaches us that when Jesus Christ returns, He will begin the ingathering or harvest of the greater part of mankind and establish a new society with Himself as King of Kings and Lord of Lords under God the Father.
Christ, assisted by the resurrected saints, will set up His government on the earth for 1,000 years (Revelation 19:11-16 Revelation 19:11-16 11 And I saw heaven opened, and behold a white horse; and he that sat on him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he does judge and make war.
12 His eyes were as a flame of fire, and on his head were many crowns; and he had a name written, that no man knew, but he himself.
13 And he was clothed with a clothing dipped in blood: and his name is called The Word of God.
14 And the armies which were in heaven followed him on white horses, clothed in fine linen, white and clean.
15 And out of his mouth goes a sharp sword, that with it he should smite the nations: and he shall rule them with a rod of iron: and he treads the wine press of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God.
16 And he has on his clothing and on his thigh a name written, KING OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS.
American King James Version×; Revelation 20:4; Leviticus 23:39-43 Leviticus 23:39-43 39 Also in the fifteenth day of the seventh month, when you have gathered in the fruit of the land, you shall keep a feast to the LORD seven days: on the first day shall be a sabbath, and on the eighth day shall be a sabbath. 40 And you shall take you on the first day the boughs of goodly trees, branches of palm trees, and the boughs of thick trees, and willows of the brook; and you shall rejoice before the LORD your God seven days. 41 And you shall keep it a feast to the LORD seven days in the year. It shall be a statute for ever in your generations: you shall celebrate it in the seventh month. 42 You shall dwell in booths seven days; all that are Israelites born shall dwell in booths: 43 That your generations may know that I made the children of Israel to dwell in booths, when I brought them out of the land of Egypt: I am the LORD your God.
American King James Version×; Matthew 17:1-4 Matthew 17:1-4 1 And after six days Jesus takes Peter, James, and John his brother, and brings them up into an high mountain apart, 2 And was transfigured before them: and his face did shine as the sun, and his raiment was white as the light. 3 And, behold, there appeared to them Moses and Elias talking with him. 4 Then answered Peter, and said to Jesus, Lord, it is good for us to be here: if you will, let us make here three tabernacles; one for you, and one for Moses, and one for Elias.
American King James Version×; Hebrews 11:8-9 Hebrews 11:8-9 8 By faith Abraham, when he was called to go out into a place which he should after receive for an inheritance, obeyed; and he went out, not knowing where he went. 9 By faith he sojourned in the land of promise, as in a strange country, dwelling in tabernacles with Isaac and Jacob, the heirs with him of the same promise:
American King James Version×). Rule under His laws will spread from Jerusalem throughout the world to usher in an unprecedented period of peace and prosperity (Isaiah 2:2-4 Isaiah 2:2-4 2 And it shall come to pass in the last days, that the mountain of the LORD’s house shall be established in the top of the mountains, and shall be exalted above the hills; and all nations shall flow to it. 3 And many people shall go and say, Come you, and let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, to the house of the God of Jacob; and he will teach us of his ways, and we will walk in his paths: for out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of the LORD from Jerusalem. 4 And he shall judge among the nations, and shall rebuke many people: and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks: nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more.
American King James Version×; Daniel 2:35 Daniel 2:35Then was the iron, the clay, the brass, the silver, and the gold, broken to pieces together, and became like the chaff of the summer threshing floors; and the wind carried them away, that no place was found for them: and the stone that smote the image became a great mountain, and filled the whole earth.
American King James Version×; Daniel 2:44 Daniel 2:44And in the days of these kings shall the God of heaven set up a kingdom, which shall never be destroyed: and the kingdom shall not be left to other people, but it shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms, and it shall stand for ever.
American King James Version×; Daniel 7:13-14).
This festival is observed today through regional gatherings throughout the world, with Church members living in temporary dwellings for the entire period, in line with the Bible’s instructions.
The Eighth Day, the annual Sabbath immediately following the Feast of Tabernacles, is known to many as the Last Great Day. This day teaches us that Jesus Christ will complete His harvest of human beings by raising from the dead, and offering salvation to, all who have died in the past and have never been given a full opportunity to be saved (Ezekiel 37:1-14 Ezekiel 37:1-14 1 The hand of the LORD was on me, and carried me out in the spirit of the LORD, and set me down in the middle of the valley which was full of bones,
2 And caused me to pass by them round about: and, behold, there were very many in the open valley; and, see, they were very dry.
3 And he said to me, Son of man, can these bones live? And I answered, O Lord GOD, you know.
4 Again he said to me, Prophesy on these bones, and say to them, O you dry bones, hear the word of the LORD.
5 Thus said the Lord GOD to these bones; Behold, I will cause breath to enter into you, and you shall live:
6 And I will lay sinews on you, and will bring up flesh on you, and cover you with skin, and put breath in you, and you shall live; and you shall know that I am the LORD.
7 So I prophesied as I was commanded: and as I prophesied, there was a noise, and behold a shaking, and the bones came together, bone to his bone.
8 And when I beheld, see, the sinews and the flesh came up on them, and the skin covered them above: but there was no breath in them.
9 Then said he to me, Prophesy to the wind, prophesy, son of man, and say to the wind, Thus said the Lord GOD; Come from the four winds, O breath, and breathe on these slain, that they may live.
10 So I prophesied as he commanded me, and the breath came into them, and they lived, and stood up on their feet, an exceeding great army.
11 Then he said to me, Son of man, these bones are the whole house of Israel: behold, they say, Our bones are dried, and our hope is lost: we are cut off for our parts.
12 Therefore prophesy and say to them, Thus said the Lord GOD; Behold, O my people, I will open your graves, and cause you to come up out of your graves, and bring you into the land of Israel.
13 And you shall know that I am the LORD, when I have opened your graves, O my people, and brought you up out of your graves,
14 And shall put my spirit in you, and you shall live, and I shall place you in your own land: then shall you know that I the LORD have spoken it, and performed it, said the LORD.
American King James Version×; Romans 11:25-27 Romans 11:25-27 25 For I would not, brothers, that you should be ignorant of this mystery, lest you should be wise in your own conceits; that blindness in part is happened to Israel, until the fullness of the Gentiles be come in. 26 And so all Israel shall be saved: as it is written, There shall come out of Sion the Deliverer, and shall turn away ungodliness from Jacob: 27 For this is my covenant to them, when I shall take away their sins.
American King James Version×; Luke 11:31-32 Luke 11:31-32 31 The queen of the south shall rise up in the judgment with the men of this generation, and condemn them: for she came from the utmost parts of the earth to hear the wisdom of Solomon; and, behold, a greater than Solomon is here. 32 The men of Nineve shall rise up in the judgment with this generation, and shall condemn it: for they repented at the preaching of Jonas; and, behold, a greater than Jonas is here.
American King James Version×; Revelation 20:11-13 Revelation 20:11-13 11 And I saw a great white throne, and him that sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away; and there was found no place for them. 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. 13 And the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and hell delivered up the dead which were in them: and they were judged every man according to their works.
American King James Version×).
Thus, the annual cycle of the celebration of the festivals and Holy Days reminds Christ’s disciples that He is working out God’s plan of offering salvation from sin and death and the gift of eternal life in the family of God to all humanity—past, present and future.
The Annual Festivals of God
Passover: April 3 (Observed evening before)
Feast of Unleavened Bread: April 4-10
Pentecost: May 24
Feast of Trumpets: September 14
Day of Atonement: September 23
Feast of Tabernacles: September 28 - October 4
The Eighth Day: October 5
Passover: April 22 (Observed evening before)
Feast of Unleavened Bread: April 23-29
Pentecost: June 12
Feast of Trumpets: October 3
Day of Atonement: October 12
Feast of Tabernacles: October 17-23
The Eighth Day: October 24
Passover: April 10 (Observed evening before)
Feast of Unleavened Bread: April 11-17
Pentecost: June 4
Feast of Trumpets: September 21
Day of Atonement: September 30
Feast of Tabernacles: October 5-11
The Eighth Day: October 12
Passover: March 30 (Observed evening before)
Feast of Unleavened Bread: March 31 - April 6
Pentecost: May 20
Feast of Trumpets: September 10
Day of Atonement: September 19
Feast of Tabernacles: September 24-30
The Eighth Day: October 1
Passover: April 19 (Observed evening before)
Feast of Unleavened Bread: April 20-26
Pentecost: June 9
Feast of Trumpets: September 30
Day of Atonement: October 9
Feast of Tabernacles: October 14-20
The Eighth Day: October 21
Passover: April 8 (Observed evening before)
Feast of Unleavened Bread: April 9-15
Pentecost: May 31
Feast of Trumpets: September 19
Day of Atonement: September 28
Feast of Tabernacles: October 3-9
The Eighth Day: October 10
Passover: March 27 (Observed evening before)
Feast of Unleavened Bread: March 28 - April 3
Pentecost: May 16
Feast of Trumpets: September 7
Day of Atonement: September 16
Feast of Tabernacles: September 21-27
The Eighth Day: September 28
Passover: April 15 (Observed evening before)
Feast of Unleavened Bread: April 16-22
Pentecost: June 5
Feast of Trumpets: September 26
Day of Atonement: October 5
Feast of Tabernacles: October 10-16
The Eighth Day: October 17
Passover: April 5 (Observed evening before)
Feast of Unleavened Bread: April 6-12
Pentecost: May 28
Feast of Trumpets: September 16
Day of Atonement: September 25
Feast of Tabernacles: September 30 - October 6
The Eighth Day: October 7
In biblical reckoning, days begin in the evening (Genesis 1:5 Genesis 1:5And God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And the evening and the morning were the first day.
American King James Version×), when the sun goes down (Joshua 8:29 Joshua 8:29And the king of Ai he hanged on a tree until eventide: and as soon as the sun was down, Joshua commanded that they should take his carcass down from the tree, and cast it at the entering of the gate of the city, and raise thereon a great heap of stones, that remains to this day.
American King James Version×; 2 Chronicles 18:34 2 Chronicles 18:34And the battle increased that day: however, the king of Israel stayed himself up in his chariot against the Syrians until the even: and about the time of the sun going down he died.
American King James Version×; Mark 1:32 Mark 1:32And at even, when the sun did set, they brought to him all that were diseased, and them that were possessed with devils.
American King James Version×), and are counted “from evening to evening” (Leviticus 23:32 Leviticus 23:32It shall be to you a sabbath of rest, and you shall afflict your souls: in the ninth day of the month at even, from even to even, shall you celebrate your sabbath.
American King James Version×). Thus, all God’s festivals begin the evening just before the dates listed in this table. For example, in 2015 Passover is observed Friday evening, April 2, after sundown, and the Feast of Unleavened Bread begins Saturday evening, April 3. The festivals end in the evening on the dates given.