At-A-Glance Guide to the Biblical Feasts
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According to the Bible, there are seven Feasts that God calls His Feasts (Lev. 23:2, Ez. 44:24) and commands His people to keep. Although it became rare for Christians to keep these Feasts in recent times, many are returning to a more Biblical way of life and are realizing all that God has to teach us through these Feasts!
Each Feast teaches us about our God’s attributes. By observing these Feasts, we can learn what a wonderful God He is! The Feasts also teach us about ourselves, how we should live as His people, and what our relationship with Him should look like.
These Feasts are also prophetic. When God commanded them, he wanted His people to look back on what He had done for them in the past and forward to the rest of the story of Him and His people.
One important thing – the Sabbath is covered before these Feasts are listed in the Bible. It’s the holiest of all the Feasts, and observing it demonstrates to God, others, and ourselves that we belong to God. Although it’s not on this list, it’s of great importance in the life of any Believer. For more info on the Sabbath and how to keep it, visit this page.
Below, I will cover each Feast very briefly. Know that, with each Feast, you can go more into the practices, symbolism, sacrifices, where they occur in the Bible, etc., and learn more of what God has for you with each of them. Here, I want to cover the basics for those who want to see just a summary of these Feasts and their meanings.
🖨️ Print-friendly PDF Biblical Feast Chart
Passover is the first Feast of the year, commemorating the Exodus from Egypt. It helps us remember how God redeemed His people from captivity and brought them out so they could freely worship Him. Like the blood on the doorways of the Hebrew people in Egypt was a protective covering from the plague of the firstborn, the blood of Jesus provides a covering for our sin.
Passover (Pesach in Hebrew, meaning “skip”) is usually celebrated by having a seder, in which the story of the Exodus is re-told, and each aspect of it is “experienced”’ by the participants. It’s a time of celebration, and each element of the seder represents a part of this incredible story.
Just after Passover is the Feast of Unleavened Bread. Observing the Feast of Unleavened Bread is to remember further the Exodus in that the Israelites needed to flee Egypt in a hurry and didn’t have time to leaven their dough before leaving. Leaven often represents sin in the Bible, so the lack of leaven represents sinlessness. Jesus fulfilled this Feast by following the Laws of the Torah and was, therefore, a pure candidate for atonement.
Unleavened Bread is called Matzah in Hebrew, so this Feast is Biblically called the Feast of Matzah. This Feast is observed by eating unleavened bread for seven days and even cleaning all the leaven out of the home (Ex. 12:19). The first and seventh days of Unleavened Bread are Sabbaths.
The first of something, like the harvest, firstborn child, or firstborn animals, were given to God as an offering, thanking Him for providing and putting faith in Him to continue to provide in the future (Deut. 26:1; Ex. 13:1-2, 11-16). During the Feast of Unleavened Bread, First Fruits is a time to bring the first of what we reap to God and look to Jesus as the first and best offering to God. He’s also the first of those to be raised from the grave (1 Cor. 15:20).
The Hebrew word for First Fruits is Bikkurim and comes from the same root word as the word for ‘firstborn”, which is bekhor. It’s commonly thought that Jesus rose from the dead on First Fruits, so many celebrate his resurrection during this two-day celebration.
Starting on First Fruits, many “count the omer.” This practice comes from Leviticus 23:15-16, where God says to count 7 Sabbaths or 50 days from First Fruits, then to observe Shavuot. We symbolically prepare our hearts to receive the Law and the Spirit during this time, and Shavuot is a Sabbath.
Shavuot is a time to celebrate God giving His Law to us (Yes, it’s worth celebrating!) and, eventually, His Spirit to live in us. His Law was given on Mount Sinai, and the prophetic side of this Feast (Jere. 31:33) was fulfilled when the Spirit was given, and the Law was no longer external but was written on our hearts instead.
The word Shavuot means “weeks.” It’s also known as Pentecost, which comes from a Greek word meaning “fiftieth.” Biblically, Shavuot includes an offering from the wheat harvest, a sign of gratitude to God for providing through the land. To further celebrate the giving of the land, milk and honey (or recipes containing the two) are often eaten on Shavuot. It’s also a time to celebrate the Law and the Spirit, showing that we’re thankful for both.
This Feast is often confused with Rosh Hashanah, but they are different celebrations, and you can read more about the differences here. Yom Teruah is another Sabbath, observed on the first day of the seventh month, and it’s supposed to be “a reminder by blowing of trumpets.”
A “teruah” or trumpet blast is heard in the Bible when God’s doing something incredible. What we remember on Yom Teruah are all of the awesome things our God has done throughout time. Prophetically, we look forward to the day we hear the “teruah” announcing the return of our Savior!
This day is observed at sundown by looking for the New Moon (indicating the first day of the month has started) and blowing the shofar when it’s spotted. Some mix traditions from Rosh Hashanah and Yom Teruah, celebrating the beginning of the Hebrew calendar year at this time.
The tenth day of the month of Tishrei is Yom Kippur. Yom Kippur is when the priest made atonement for the nation of Israel in the days of the Temple. It’s a Sabbath, and the Bible says we’re to be “humbled” or “afflicted” on this day. This Holy Day is more somber and focused, less celebratory, where people wear white, attend services, and fast.
On Yom Kippur, we can look to Jesus and be grateful for his covering (Kippur means “covering) of our sin in response to our repentance. As a people, though, we need to repent, pray for God’s mercy, and turn to Him for forgiveness. Yom Kippur is a day when we examine our actions and those of our nation, repent where needed, and turn back to the path God wants us.
The prophecy in Yom Kippur is that we look forward to a time when Jesus will be the judge. It will be up to him who enters God’s Kingdom and doesn’t.
Sukkot is the last of the Holy Days on the Biblical calendar. It’s a joyful celebration lasting eight days, starting on the fifteenth day of the seventh month on the Biblical calendar, also known as Tishrei. The first and last of the eight days of Sukkot are Sabbaths.
According to the command for Sukkot in Leviticus 23, God’s people are to celebrate by living in temporary dwellings called Sukkot. God says this is to remind us that God had the people live in dwellings like these when He brought them out of Egypt. During Sukkot, we remember many things – that God provides, that God supernaturally rescued the Hebrew people and provided for them in the wilderness and that He sent Jesus to “tabernacle” or temporarily dwell with us on earth.
Sukkot is also prophetic in that there will be one day when Jesus will not just tabernacle but will live among us on earth. It points forward to the wedding feast, where we, as God’s people, will finally be joined with Jesus and live with him physically among us, ruling on earth.
This article is just a summary of each of these Holy Days, but don’t stop here in your study of them. God has so much for you to learn as you study these meaningful Feasts that He calls His. Explore them further by browsing the Traditions category on HebrewRootsMom.com or in my book, Bring Shalom to Your Home.