Two weeks ago I experienced a festival with a feast at my eldest daughter’s wedding.
The memory of the event bounces around in my mind with a festive flicker of colors, smells, songs, words, laughs, tastes, faces, smiles, and embraces.
As I danced my daughter into the open arms of her new husband, my heart expanded.
A constellation of cherished community fueled the festival and feasting giving her undeserved favor and love.
· A festival is an organized series of acts or performances enjoyed by a gathered community.
· A feast is an elaborate party with a well prepared free-flowing of food and drink shared with deep joy.
We were designed by God for both.
In fact, according to John Sittema, the Author of Jesus at the Feast, the people of God were given seven festivals that all gave a foretaste of the gospel.
The story of Scripture describes these seven annual feasts found on the calendar of every Jew:
1. Passover (Enjoyed on the 14th day of the first month)
2. Unleavened Bread (Enjoyed on the 15th day of the first month to the 21st day)
3. Firstfruits (Enjoyed on the 16th day of the first month)
4. Weeks/Pentecost (Enjoyed on the 6th day of the third month)
5. Trumpets (Enjoyed on the 1st day of the seventh month)
6. Day of Atonement (Enjoyed on the 10th day of the seventh month)
7. Booths (Enjoyed on the 15th day of the seventh month to the 21st day)
Two benefits bubble up to the surface of our minds when we attend to the meaning of these festivals.
The first benefit is to see the connection between the Old Testament Festivals and their fulfillment in Christ.
Again, thanks to the insights of John Sittema, notice how each Old Testament festival listed above finds their fulfillment in Christ:
1. Crucifixion/Passover (Friday of Passion week)
2. Burial/Unleavened Bread (Saturday of Passion week)
3. Resurrection/Firstfruits (Sunday)
4. Pentecost/The Gift
5. Trumpets/Preaching the Gospel
6. Day of Atonement/The Joy of Salvation
7. Booths/Living Fellowship
A second benefit is to see how these seven festivals fulfilled in Christ transform or reshape God’s community:
1. Justification-Legally declared righteous in the sight of God
2. Sanctification-Becoming more and more like Jesus by the Spirit
3. New Creation-We have moved from death to life
4. Empowered by the Spirit-He lives in us growing spiritual fruit like love and joy
5. Witnesses of the Gospel-We share the story
6. Forgiven and accepted in Christ-We are saved, being saved and will finally be saved
7. A New Community-We become part of a local body of believers and their children
Did you know that every fifty years the people of God were commanded to throw an additional festival called Jubilee?
Jubilee is a word meaning “to blow the horn” and it is derived from a man named Jubal, the father of all musical instruments (Genesis 4:21).
It commenced on the Day of Atonement with the musical blast of the trumpet. This sonic blast was meant to “proclaim liberty throughout the lands to all its inhabitants” (Leviticus 25:10).
Yes, these are the very words inscribed on our Liberty Bell here in America.
God commanded that everyone participate in this party so that freedom would be inscribed on the hearts of His people.
This climactic celebration sent the sound of God’s reign of grace soaring into the community of God.
If you are unfamiliar with the story of God, a great way to enter into the story would be to study the festivals of God’s people. Noticing their fulfillment in Christ and the transformative reshaping they give to the church would deepen your understanding of His gospel of grace.
· Jesus’ death was timed to take place on Passover
· Jesus burial was timed to occur on the Feast of Unleavened Bread
· His rising again to new life waited for the dawning of Firstfruits
· The showering of His Spirit came fifty days later, on the Feast of Pentecost
· The Feast of Trumpets defined the task of the church: Announce the music of the Gospel
· The Day of Atonement defined just what salvation really means
· The Feast of Tabernacles shows what it is like to live in the joyful festivities and fellowship of the Trinitarian God
· And Jubilee gives us the final rehearsal for what the new heavens and earth will be like, tilting us forward into its glory, grace and final rest.
I can’t wait for the next feast and festival with the people of God as we savor His mercy and grace together!
Metro North Church