APRIL 4, 2007

I am writing this as a special request from Sunny Coffman, Lighthouse Library, Int’l., who found the understanding of the 7 in 7 to be quite instructive.  The following article is a short description of the significance to the believer of the 7 feasts and fast days within 7 months described in Leviticus 23.  It is not a comprehensive study of all of the details about any one of the 7 feast or fast days.  I would refer you to the Bible.  I would also refer you to The Messianic Passover Haggadah, Lederer Messianic Publishers, 1989, 1994, 1996. 

I believe in studying the Old Testament as the Living Word of God and not as a “history” of God’s relationship with His people.  I believe that Christians should not only study the Old Testament, but should also be more Torah observant.  When I say, “Torah observant”, I mean to keep Biblically kosher (as opposed to rabbinically kosher), to keep the 7 feast and fast days, and to keep the 10 commandments.  I believe that by doing this we learn more about the nature and character of God and His relationship to His people.  And, we receive a blessing as the Old Testament opens up meaning and understanding to the New Testament Christian. 

As you read these words, you may say to yourself that Paul instructs that we are not to sacrifice humans or drink blood on the alter and we are just to confess Jesus as our Lord to be saved.  True, however, Paul also teaches that the Law still exists and that all will be judged by the standard of the Law, which is perfect.  Paul also teaches that we are free from the bondage of the Law of Moses; he does not discourage the keeping of the Law.  Romans 3:19-31 and generally Romans 3-8. When you are free from the bondage of Torah, you do not have to worry about failing to walk out the Law perfectly in order to receive salvation.  Jesus also teaches that He did not come to do away with the Law, but to fulfill the Law so that by grace we could follow after our Lord and Savior, Jesus.  Jesus is the only one who walked out the Law perfectly (or for that matter could walk out the Law perfectly).  God knew this, and therefore, He made a way through the blood of His Son for us to enter into relationship with Himself.  Salvation becomes a free gift freely given and only by the One who walked out the Law perfectly and stands in intercession for us all before the throne of Father may we enter into the presence of Father.  Romans 6-8. 

In Hebrew, the name of Jesus is “Yeshua” which means “salvation”.  Further, the word “Messiah” is a Hebrew word meaning “the chosen One”.  So, in short, it is said that the Old Testament is Messiah concealed and the New Testament is Messiah revealed.  Let us begin.  `

Leviticus 23 sets forth the Law of Moses concerning the 7 feasts and fasts of the Lord to be accomplished in 7 months.  As Christians, we lack understanding of the significance to us of these 7 in 7.   As we begin to enter into understanding by keeping the whole of both the Old and New Testaments, we will grow in understanding.  Paul describes this process as seeing through the glass darkly.  I Corinthians 13:12.

The first thing we must do is to keep the Sabbath—6 days and a rest.  Leviticus 23:3.  Just as an aside, the day begins in the evening at sunset and ends the next evening before sunset.  See, Genesis 1: 5, 8, 13, 19, 23, 31.  If you will use this understanding, you will find fasting for purposes of prayer and time with the Lord to be much easier.  Also as an aside, when did the Lord instruct to move the keeping of the Sabbath from the 7th day to the 1st day?  Hmmm… that would be a different discussion entirely. 

The first three feasts take place within an 8 day period in the spring; they are Passover, Feast of Unleavened Bread and Feast of First Fruits.  It was the custom to go up to Jerusalem at the time of the Passover.  Luke 2:42.  You could say that the first three feasts are a type of Biblical “code”.  This “code” tells us in short, we have redemption (Passover) through a perfect sacrifice without sin (Feast of Unleavened Bread) who has been resurrected by Father to enter into His presence (Feast of First Fruits).

Luke 22-23 describes the Passover with the 12 disciples in the upper room.  This was the Last Supper as Jesus was taken that night for the suffering, crucifixion and resurrection.  Luke 22:15-16.  In Hebrew, the word Passover is “Pasach” and the Passover Lamb is the “Pascal” Lamb, the lamb that is without spot or blemish. The Pascal Lamb was a one year old lamb without spot or blemisha perfect sacrifice.  Leviticus 23:12. 

The Feast of Unleavened Bread continued for 7 days as a remembrance of the Exodus from Egypt.  The feast of first fruits was to take place the day after the Sabbath.  The High Priest would take a sheaf of wheat which was waved and offered to the Lord.   

Passover is set on the 14th day of the 1st month. Leviticus 23:5.  The Hebrew calendar is a lunar calendar and not a solar calendar.  The pagan world used a solar calendar.  And, that would also be a discussion for another day regarding why, we as Christians, now use a solar calendar when God’s calendar is the Jewish lunar calendar.  In a lunar calendar, the length of the months changes with the lunar cycle, and therefore, 14th day of the first month will be anywhere from late March to late April in any given year.  So, in effect, a lunar calendar is more fluid in that it gives the seasons instead of the static nature of the solar calendar.

The three spring feasts are extremely important to the Christian.  In them we can see the Redemption of the Lord.  Passover, the first feast, is also known as the Festival of Redemption.  Passover, as in all of the holy convocations, begins with the lighting of the candles.  A woman always lights the candles as the Light of the World, our Redeemer, came into the world as the promised seed of a woman.  Genesis 3:15, John 1:1-5.    

In Passover, there are 4 cups of wine and 3 matzah (unleavened bread) and 1 bowl of water.  The other elements of Passover which are in the Seder (order of worship) plate on the Passover table include:  parsley, salt water, bitter herbs (horseradish and horseradish root), lamb shank bone, herosets (a sweet mixture of chopped apples, nuts and honey), and a roasted egg (added much later than the time of Jesus and not always considered a part of the Passover).  For the purposes of this article, I will limit my discussion to the wine, bread and water.  The wine and bread are the two elements of Holy Communion as the Holy Communion has its roots in the Passover.  The water is a thematic Biblical element of washing and being made clean.  

The first cup of wine is known as the cup of sanctification.  This cup is the cup that sets us apart as a holy people.  Exodus 6:6 states “… I will bring you out from under the yoke of the Egyptians.”  

After the first cup of wine, there is a ceremonial washing of the hands.  A bowl of water is on the Passover table and it is offered one to another to share the hand washing ceremony.  In John 13:4-17, Jesus laid aside his outer garments and girded himself with a towel and washed the feet of His disciples.  The washing is a gesture of humility and commitment.  Peter wasn’t too keen to have Jesus wash his feet.  I can just imagine how feet would have an odor as they were in sandals all day in a hot climate with sand all around.  What an aroma.  Jesus tells Peter that he can not be a part of Him without allowing Jesus to wash him.  Once Peter understood that Jesus must wash him so that he could enter into His presence, he consents and wants the whole of himself washed.  Peter is a real all or nothing kind of guy.  Once he’s on board, he’s fully committed. 

It is interesting, however, that once we are saved (first cup of sanctification), we are washed and then the second cup is consumed.  The second cup represents the deliverance from bondage.  It is the cup of plagues.    With this cup we understand that redemption was purchased through a blood offering and by this blood covering we may walk from a position of slavery to sin and death to life in Messiah.  By recounting the 10 plagues: blood, frogs, lice, beasts, cattle disease, boils, hail, locusts, darkness and death of the firstborn, we understand the depth of this deliverance from death. 

The third cup is the cup of redemption.  The Lord says that He will redeem us with an outstretched arm.  Exodus 6.  It is this cup of wine, the cup of redemption, which is the wine of the Holy Communion.  For by the blood of the Pascal Lamb slain from the foundation of the earth, whose blood is on the alter in heaven, we are redeemed from death.  Revelation 5.  When Jesus lifted the cup he prayed.  Luke 22.  In Hebrew, the prayer is always the same; it is:  Barukh atah Adonai eloheynu melekh ha’olam borey pri hagafen which means “Blessed are you, O Lord our God, King of the universe, who creates the fruit of the vine.” Jesus is the first fruit of the vine.  He is the first fruit from the dead.  He is the fulfillment of the Feast of First Fruits as he rose on the day following the Sabbath. 

After the third cup of wine, the redemption, the matzah is consumed.  Matzah is unleavened bread.  It is the unleavened bread that was baked in great haste as the Israelites were fleeing the army of Pharaoh in the Exodus from Egypt.  The 3 matzah are known as the bread of affliction. The 3 matzah are contained within 1 bag on the Passover table.  The rabbis called these 3 matzah together the “Unity”.  Some rabbis consider this unity to be the patriarchsAbraham, Isaac and Jacob.  Some rabbis consider this unity to be a unity of worshipthe priests, the Levites, and the people of Israel.  But, for the Christian, we know this unity is the trinityFather, Son and Holy Spirit. 

Within the unity bag, the matzah are stacked 1 on top of the other.  It is the second matzah of the stack that is taken out of the bag.  In the matzah we have a clear understanding of who Messiah is to us.  The matzah is both striped and pierced.  Isaiah 53:5 states, “For he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed.” Further, Zechariah 12:10 states, “And I will pour upon the house of David, and upon the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the spirit of grace and of supplications: and they shall look upon me whom they have pierced, and they shall mourn for him as one mourns for his only son.”  Further, the matzah is unleavenedwithout sinwithout spot or blemishperfect.   This second piece of matzah is then broken in half just as Messiah was also broken. 

One half of the broken matzah is known as the Afikomen“the coming one” in Hebrew.  It is wrapped in a white cloth just as the body of Messiah was wrapped for burial.  During the Passover recounting, the children are instructed to cover their eyes and the Abba or “Father” of the house hides the Afikomen.  In this, as Christians we realize that Messiah remained hidden in the tomb for 3 days. 

After dinner is eaten, the Afikomen returns, just as Messiah rose from the dead to ascend into heaven and He will return.  The Abba (father) of the house, purchases back the Afikomen once it is found by the children just as our Father, whom we may call Abba, purchased back our Lord and Savior.  We as children must seek the Lord so that He may be found.  It is the Afikomen that is the bread of the Holy Communion.  And Jesus took the bread, raised it and said a prayer.  Luke 22.  The prayer in Hebrew remains the same; it is:  Barukh atah Adonai eloheynu melekh ha’olam hamotzi lekhem min ha’aretz which translates as “Blessed are You, O Lord our God, King of the universe, who brings forth bread from the earth.”  Jesus is the bread of life which was purchased back out of death by the Father.  The Father knew that Jesus was without sin and unworthy of the torture of being separated from Father; Jesus walked out the Law perfectly. 

After the matzah is eaten, the Passover of the Lamb is not over.  Even though Holy Communion is completed, there is still one more cup of wine to drink—the fourth cup, the cup of praiseWith the cup of praise, we enter into the place of both rest and praise.   With this cup, we understand that the work is finished. 

Passover is a completed work of the Lord.  He is our Paschal Lamb, the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world.  He is both the High Priest making the offering of the Lamb and the sacrifice itself.  It is interesting to note that the day Jesus was crucified on the cross was supposed to be the actual day of the Passover.  The Jews had moved the day of Passover to be joined with the Feast of Unleavened Bread (the day after Passover) so that there would only be one preparation instead of two preparations which is an example of laziness—how we grow weary of well-doing and want to take the short cut.  So, when the High Priest is offering up the lamb without spot or blemish in Jerusalem for all the people to see, at that exact time—yes, that exact time—Jesus is being offered up on the cross as the Perfect Lamb without sin—a perpetual and permanent blood covering for forgiveness of sins—once and for always.  Further, at the exact time that the Leviticus 23:12 lamb is being sacrificed, Jesus gives up His life on the cross. 

The Jews understand blood sacrifice for the forgiveness of sins.  Blood sacrifice for forgiveness of sins is not the “good news”.  The “good news” is that there is no need for further daily sacrifice for a perpetual and permanent blood covering.  With a Perfect Lamb, the only Son of God, being offered up as a perfect blood sacrifice for our sins, there is no need for any additional sacrifice.  In other words, the work is finished forever.  This is the Good News. 

The fourth feast is the “Feast of Weeks” or Shavuot in Hebrew.  Leviticus 23:15 tells us that the Feast of Weeks takes place seven weeks and a day after the Feast of First Fruits.  Simple mathematics will tell us that the space between First Fruits and Feast of Weeks is 50 days or 7 x 7 + 1 = 50 days.  So, it is no coincidence that Pentecost, the Greek word for fifty days, takes place exactly 50 days after First Fruits.  Acts 2 describes the events of that first Pentecost or Feast of Weeks.  It is the recounting of the explosion of the gift of the Holy Spirit.  With Pentecost and the explosion of the gift of the Holy Spirit, this feast has been fulfilled.

It is interesting to note that there were michvot (ritual bathing pools) surrounding the 2nd Temple at Jerusalem.  So, when Acts 2:41 tells us that the 3,000 who were saved were baptized that same day, they were so baptized in the ritual bathing pools surrounding the Temple

The 5th, 6th and 7th holy convocations take place in the seventh month.  The first is the Day of Blowing of Trumpets or Yom Teruah a.k.a. Rosh HaShana.  The Day of Blowing is a sound of the alarm.  It tells the people to get ready for the return of the King.   It is the only feast which takes place on the 1st day of the month.  In Jewish tradition, the 1st day of the month must be confirmed by two witnesses who confirm the sighting of the first two stars in the sky at the new moon and report that sighting to the Temple High Priest, who declares the first day of the new month.  As such, Yom Teruah is also known as “who can know the day or the hour” as who could know the exact day or the exact hour of the beginning of any new month.  Is it another happy coincidence that Jesus tells us in Matthew 24:36 who can know the day or the hour of my return or is it a clue left for us?  Certainly the disciples, as Jews, knew the nickname of Yom Teruah, and therefore, this is another piece of the “code” left behind as a clue for us so that we know the season of His return. 

On the 10th day of the 7th month, is the Day of Atonement. Leviticus 23:27.  The 10 days from the first of the month to the 10th of the month are known as the counting of the omer.  This is a time of reflection upon the sin nature of each man and a time to ask forgiveness for sins.  The Day of Atonement is a fast day and not a feast day.  Traditionally, the Jews wear white on this day.  It is a kind of “Easter” in that the clothing is new and fresh.  When I think of wearing white, I think of the garment of a bride – wearing white.  We are making ourselves ready to be His Bride.  It is also a picture of being washed whiter than snow.  Psalms 51:7.   

It is good to know that when we are standing to account for all of our words and actions during our lives, we have the Son of God to intercede on our behalf before Father.  It is because of this blood covering that the price for our sin has been paid in full.  I thank God that He has made provision through Himself. 

Starting on the 15th day of the 7th month is the Feast of Tabernacles.  Leviticus 23: 34-36.  The Feast of Tabernacles lasts 7 days.  In Hebrew, the Feast of Tabernacles is known as Succoth. The first day and the 8th day are both holy convocations where no work is done.  As a Christian, I think of the marriage supper of the Lamb. 

For the Jews, this is a time for remembering the time of dwelling in tents during the 40 years in the desert.  Crepe myrtle branches are cut and a succah is made.  A succah is a form of shelter or lean to with crepe myrtle branches being loosely laid over the top of the shelter so those who are dwelling in tents are able to look up to the sky at night and see the moon and the stars which were set into the heavens by the Lord God Almighty, Maker of the heavens and earth.  Genesis 1:14-16.

It is also interesting that traditionally, the Jewish bride and groom enter into marriage under the tent.  For the banner over me is Love.  Song of Solomon 2:4.  The tent has four posts and at each post is a “look out” that protects the wedding couple as they enter into relationship with each other. 

The three fall holidays have yet to be fulfilled and we wait for the return of Messiah for the completion of this work.  These are the 7 Feast and Fast Days in 7 months. 

There is an 8th holiday in Jewish oral tradition.  It is called Simchah Torah.  Simchah Torah means to dance with the Living Word of God.  John 1.  The purpose of Simchah Torah is to roll back the Torah scroll to the beginning so that we may start afresh in the New Year reading again from the beginning.  I am reminded that after the wedding and the feast there is a marriage dance with the Lamb.  We get to dance with the Living Word of God.  I am also reminded that we get to start over.  The scroll is rolled back and we start afresh with the Lord by our side—forever. 
















































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