What is man's destiny? How do we reach it? What is the future of our planet?
Like a good teacher, God has a lesson plan to answer these big questions in life. The answers are found in a series of special days that most people have left buried in the pages of the Bible—mistakenly believing them to be no longer relevant to life today. You can get your hands on the great Teacher's lesson plan and be way ahead of the rest of the class. Here's how.
Big questions answered
The answers to these important questions about human life and our future are found in the feast days God laid out in Leviticus 23. Many relegate these festivals of the Old Testament to harvest celebrations and dismiss them as relevant to only agricultural societies of ancient years. Yet the early New Testament Church continued to observe them, and the pages of the New Testament are just the tools needed to unlock the real meaning of the feasts of God.
God's purpose for human beings is to eventually make them part of His family. Notice how it is clearly yet simply put in Hebrews 2:10 Hebrews 2:10For it became him, for whom are all things, and by whom are all things, in bringing many sons to glory, to make the captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings.
American King James Version×: “For it was fitting for Him, for whom are all things and by whom are all things, in bringing many sons to glory, to make the captain of their salvation perfect [or “complete”] through sufferings” (emphasis added).
Elsewhere in the New Testament, God compares the raising up of children and gathering them into His family to the growing and harvesting of crops (see 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×; 13:30, 39; 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×; 5:7). And indeed, the physical harvests around the times of God's Holy Days parallel God's spiritual harvest of people to be His children. Let's look at each of God's feasts in turn.
The lesson plan begins with the spring harvest cycle in the land of Israel. God begins by addressing the fact that human beings are cut off from Him and the destiny He offers (Isaiah 59:1-2 Isaiah 59:1-2 1 Behold, the LORD’s hand is not shortened, that it cannot save; neither his ear heavy, that it cannot hear:
2 But your iniquities have separated between you and your God, and your sins have hid his face from you, that he will not hear.
American King James Version×). We are guilty of sin—violating God's law of righteousness (1 John 3:4 1 John 3:4Whoever commits sin transgresses also the law: for sin is the transgression of the law.
American King James Version×)—and indeed cannot be righteous on our own (Romans 8:7 Romans 8:7Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be.
American King James Version×). Romans 3:10 Romans 3:10As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one:
American King James Version×says that “there is none righteous, no, not one,” and verse 23 of the same chapter says, “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” This has earned for all the penalty of death (Romans 6:23 Romans 6:23For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.
American King James Version×).
Thankfully, God has made a way to satisfy justice and, at the same time, mercifully give people a “pass” on their sins. The festival of Passover explains the process. The slain lamb of this festival foreshadowed Jesus Christ willingly dying in our place. The blood of Jesus “cleanses us from all sin” (1 John 1:7 1 John 1:7But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleans us from all sin.
American King James Version×), and through His death He “offered one sacrifice for sins forever” (Hebrews 10:12 Hebrews 10:12But this man, after he had offered one sacrifice for sins for ever, sat down on the right hand of God;
American King James Version×). The apostle Paul explicitly links Christ's offering of Himself with the feast of Passover, saying, “Christ, our Passover, was sacrificed for us” (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×). Indeed, Jesus was executed on the very day of Passover.
Thus Passover teaches us that the only way we can be cleared of guilt and reconciled to God is through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ—the divine Son of God—the one perfect life given to pay the penalty for all human sins. Of course, each of us must accept this sacrifice upon repentance of sins—as represented in partaking of the Passover symbols of unleavened bread and wine.
Once we're washed clean by the blood of Jesus Christ, are we free to go on living as we always have—continuing in a life defined by sin? Paul asked that question in Romans 6:1 Romans 6:1What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound?
American King James Version×and answered in the next verse with a resounding no! Indeed, a condition for forgiveness was repentance—committing to turn away from sin. Paul further explains in Romans 6 that baptism pictures death to our old way of life and that being raised up from the waters of baptism pictures new life—as Jesus was resurrected out of His tomb to spirit life.
The Feast of Unleavened Bread—in which we avoid bread containing leavening (an agent such as yeast that causes bread to rise) and instead eat unleavened bread—pictures living a fresh, new way. Paul described keeping this feast in 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×as leaving behind the old “leaven of malice and wickedness” and living a life of “sincerity and truth.” God's lesson plan says that once we're pardoned through the Passover sacrifice of Christ, our response should be to live a new, clean, “unleavened” life as a Christian. Passover and the Feast of Unleavened Bread occur at the start of Israel's spring barley harvest.
The next feast explains that we cannot live that unleavened life on our own strength. We must have the help of God through the power of His Holy Spirit. The physical, fleshly human mind “does not obey God's law. It can't” (Romans 8:7 Romans 8:7Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be.
American King James Version×, New International Reader's Version). But when God's Spirit dwells in us, we're not “controlled by [our] sinful nature” (Romans 8:9 Romans 8:9But you are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his.
American King James Version×, New Living Translation).
It was on the day of Pentecost that God chose to give the Holy Spirit to all the followers of Jesus Christ shortly after His resurrection from the grave (Acts 2).
In the Old Testament, Pentecost, also known as the Feast of Harvest and the Feast of Weeks, celebrated the firstfruits of the wheat harvest (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×; 34:22). And it represented the harvesting of people to be spiritual firstfruits of God's family (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×).
Pentecost is the last of the biblical feasts that occur during the spring in the northern hemisphere. In part 2, we'll consider those feasts that come in late summer and autumn. VT