Posts Tagged ‘Jewish Feasts’

The Fulfillment of the First Three Feasts of the Jews

There are so many more things going on during the Passover/Crucifixion timeframe than we ever get a chance to cover during the Easter season. In this post I’m going to share what I’ve called “The Fulfillment of the First Three Feasts of the Jews”.


It is during Passover/Feast of Unleavened Bread/Feast of First Fruits that the Crucifixion/Resurrection takes place. (For more information on the specifics of the Feasts see Leviticus 23)


We know “somewhat” what Passover is. It celebrates the final plague that takes place while the Israelites are in Egypt. (See Exodus 12-13 and Leviticus 23:5) A “lamb without blemish” was killed and the blood placed on the doorposts so that the Angel of Death would “pass over” their house. (Interestingly, being “Jewish” did not save them – only having the blood on the door. No matter what their race, if they did not have the blood on the door, they were subject to the same plague as the Egyptians.)


Passover is, of course, only a “foreshadowing” of Christ’s shedding of blood for the atonement of our sin. Jesus is the “Perfect Lamb.”


The Jews celebrated Passover every year on the fourteenth of Abib (or Nisan depending on pre or post exilic calendar name) which falls somewhere between our mid-March and mid-April. The Jewish calendar revolves around the lunar calendar – in other words, the phases of the moon. Each “new moon” constitutes a new month. Therefore, Passover can fall on any day of the week, depending on when the full moon occurs.


The Jewish “day” goes from sundown to sundown (remember Genesis 1:5 “And the evening and the morning were the first day”) therefore on (our) Maundy Thursday at sundown, Passover begins.


The next day (Friday at sundown) the Feast of Unleavened bread begins. (See Leviticus 23:6) This feast lasts 7 days. Leaven, in the Bible represents sin and evil. The unleavened bread in the New Testament represents the Body of our Lord. Part of the Jewish Passover ceremony includes burying a piece of the unleavened bread before the day of Passover is over, in other words, before sundown on Friday… and remember, Jesus was buried before sundown on Friday…


Jesus’ followers (those who were left at the cross) wanted His body taken down from the cross and buried before the Sabbath began (at sundown.) What they didn’t realize was that they were actually fulfilling the Feast of Passover by the shed blood of “The Lamb” and burying His sinless (unleavened) body before the day was finished. And for even more “fulfillment” – the “middle piece” of the loaf of bread is what is buried. Jesus is the “middle part” of the Trinity – Father, Son, Holy Spirit.


The next feast, “First Fruits” takes place on the Sunday following Passover. Since the feast of unleavened bread lasts 7 days, one of those days will be a Sunday. On that day is the Feast of First Fruits. The feast of “First Fruits” is when the Israelites would bring the first offering from the early crops of their spring planting to God. (See Leviticus 23:10-11)


In the year of Jesus’ death, “First Fruits” occurred 3 days after Passover. (Thursday at sundown began day one; Friday at sundown began day two; and Saturday at sundown began day three – three days in the ground – Matthew 12:40.) So, all three of these major celebrations – Passover, Feast of Unleavened Bread, and Feast of First Fruits – all “happen” to take place back to back the particular year that Jesus was crucified.


Paul makes it clear in 1 Corinthians 15:23 that Jesus is the fulfillment of this feast. Jesus is the “First Fruit” to be resurrected from the dead. Yes, others were “raised” from the dead, but only Jesus was “resurrected” and given His resurrected body. It was not just “any” day that Jesus chose, but the very day of “First Fruits”. He fulfilled the feasts of Passover and Unleavened Bread, with the appropriate actions, and then finally He fulfilled “First Fruits”


And not only did Jesus fulfill these first three feasts, but He also presented a “First Fruits” offering to God. As Jesus hung on the cross, an earthquake occurred and graves were opened in Jerusalem. When Jesus was resurrected the bodies of “the saints” came out of these tombs. (Matthew 27:52-53.) Thus Jesus “showed the Father the early crops of what will be a magnificent harvest later on.” (From “The Seven Feasts of Israel” by Zola Levitt.)


We miss an important truth by calling our celebration “Easter” instead of “First Fruits” because “first” indicates that there will be others to follow. Paul did not call Him the “only” fruit, but the “First” Fruit. And anyone who believes in Him will someday be given a new life, too.


Now, let me add this – we know that God decreed that the penalty for sin is death. Period. Anything short of complete perfection and righteousness… is death. But then, He paid that penalty. “Well,” you might say, “Why couldn’t God have created a ‘sliding scale’ for sin? You know, the worse the sin, the worse the punishment?” And, in a way He did, but that’s just the “judgment” OF the sin. Sin, itself requires death. “The wages of sin is death.” And again we ask “why.” Why did the sacrifice have to be a “blood sacrifice”?


Well, I don’t know the “official” answer, but this is what I believe.


I believe it is so that we would know just how much God loves us. If the penalty had not been so severe – if the penalty had just been “according to” the sin; if the penalty had not required blood – we would never have known that God loved us so much that He would take that the very penalty (that He demanded) upon Himself for us. Wow.


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