How Jesus Fulfilled the Old Testament Holidays
In recent years it seems the highest priority of every newly elected President of the United States is undoing what his opposing party predecessor did. In the long run, that puts the country on a treadmill to nowhere. It is like two steps forward, two steps backward-- repeated endlessly.
Jesus did not come to earth to undo everything that came before Him. In one sense, He was the great Undoer. What Adam had messed up He came to fix up. “Just as everyone dies because we all belong to Adam, everyone who belongs to Christ will be given new life” (1 Corinthians 15:22 NLT).
In another sense, Jesus was the great Fulfiller. “Don’t misunderstand why I have come. I did not come to abolish the law of Moses or the writings of the prophets. No, I came to accomplish their purpose. I tell you the truth, until heaven and earth disappear, not even the smallest detail of God’s law will disappear until its purpose is achieved” (Matthew 5:17–18 NLT). Let's consider how Jesus fulfilled the Old Testament holidays.
Jesus fulfilled the old covenant and established a new covenant with His people. He confirmed the new one with His blood. He poured it out as a sacrifice for them (Luke 22:20). He fulfilled the old agreement between God and His people.
The Old Testament Law described seven holidays the Jewish people were to observe. Jesus fulfilled four of them during His first coming. They are Passover, Unleavened Bread, First Fruits, and Pentecost. He will fulfill three more when He comes again -- Trumpets, Day of Atonement, and Tabernacles. Let’s briefly consider how he fulfills each one.
Passover recalls how the angel of death passed over and did not harm the children of Israel. They had to apply a lamb’s blood to the horizontal beams over their doors and the sides of their frames to be spared.
The lamb they sacrificed that day foreshadows Jesus’ mission. His blood was shed on the cross on the Jewish day of preparation for the Passover. That is when Passover lambs were slain. It happened so God’s judgment would pass over and do no harm to us who believe. He is our Passover lamb (1 Corinthians 5:7).
The Israelites were in such a hurry to leave Egypt, that they didn’t add leaven to their bread. In the Bible, leaven often represents sin. Unleavened Bread reminds us that Jesus was sinless. He alone qualifies to pay the penalty for our sins because He had no penalty of His own to pay. He is the unleavened bread of life (John 6:35).
The Feast of First Fruit honors God’s provisions for life. The Jews observed it by giving back to God the first part of their harvest. They celebrated it two days after Passover. That corresponds to the Sunday that Jesus rose from the dead. “But in fact, Christ has been raised from the dead. He is the first of a great harvest of all who have died” (1 Corinthians 15:20 NLT). That harvest consists of all believers. Because God gave us His best gift, it is appropriate gratefully to give Him ourselves, our best gift in return (1 Corinthians 6:19).
The Feast of Weeks or Pentecost occurred seven weeks after the Feast of First Fruit. It was traditional to bring the initial grain harvest, including two loaves of bread, to the Lord on that day. God birthed the church on Pentecost. The harvest from Peter’s sermon that day was about 3,000 people. The message of forgiveness was for both Jews and Gentiles. That is what the two loaves of bread symbolize.1
The three months between the spring harvest celebration and the feast of Trumpets in the fall represents the time of the church between Jesus’ first and second comings. Trumpet blasts signaled the beginning of the Feast of Trumpets. Trumpet blasts are associated with Jesus’ return to earth for those who belong to Him (1 Corinthians 15:52, 1 Thessalonians 4:13–18).
The Day of Atonement was the one day a year when the high priest entered the Holy of Holies to make atonement for the sins of the nation of Israel. Then a scapegoat was released into the wilderness. That symbolized carrying away the people’s sins. When Jesus comes again, it will be a day of atonement for the Jews. They will repent and receive Him as their Messiah (Romans 11:1-6, 25-36).
The Feast of Tabernacles celebrates God’s care of Israel during their forty years in the wilderness. God tabernacled among them in a tent. He lived with them the whole time. When Jesus comes again, He will tabernacle among and live with His people. Our hope will finally be realized.
Jesus is the fulfillment of seven Jewish holidays. They were all shadows of the reality He would ultimately bring. #freechristiandiscipleshipresources #freeevangelismresources #freechristianleadershipresources
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