The Feasts of the Lord



Along with the weekly Sabbath rest, God has provided seven annual feasts and invited us to enjoy them with Him. He says, "These are my feasts," (Lev 23:2) and describes when and how we are to observe each one. It evidently pleases the Creator when we celebrate these feasts, as each festival points in some way to our Messiah.

There is however, as one might expect in anything of practical spiritual value, a problem: the enemy has gone to great lengths to spread lies, confusion and controversy [1] around most every aspect of these feasts -- when they occur, who should observe them, what they are for, whether they are still relevant, etc. Celebrating them seems to displease and threaten the enemy very much.

It is clear from Scripture that God's feasts contain pictures and shadows of spiritual realities (Heb 9:23) as well as a prophetic index of God's redemptive timeline. (Col 2:17) The spring feasts were evidently precisely fulfilled (to the day) in the context of Christ's first coming to Earth, in a chronological sequence matching the annual calendar cycle. Those who were faithfully observing these appointed times were actually present to observe their fulfillment firsthand as it actually occured. So it would appear reasonable to conclude that the fall feasts also symbolize key events in the future, and that each one will be fulfilled on its prescribed day in the sequence of the annual calendar cycle. Therefore, it would appear that one way in which believers might abide in the light, and not be taken by surprise in these future events (1 Tim 5:4), is to be in step with God's prophetic calendar by enjoying and meditating on these precious feasts.

In addition, each of God's feasts identifies activities to be performed in and around God's earthly temple in Jerusalem, which is patterned after the eternal temple of God in Heaven. (Heb 8:5, Rev 15:5-8) In saying "my feasts" God emphasizes that these feasts are His, not ours or merely for us, and so -- in the same spirit in which He Himself rested on the seventh day -- it would appear that He himself celebrates these feasts in the heavenly temple with the heavenly hosts according to His definition of each one. Further, when He returns to reign on the earth, it is evident that He will continue celebrating these appointed times here, and that He will require the nations to celebrate them with Him. (Isa 66:23, Zec 14:16-17)

So these feasts, the weekly Sabbath and the seven annual feasts, are evidently very important to God. It is no surprise then that there is much controversy concerning when these feasts occur as well as how to observe them. The singular aim of the enemy is to keep us all out of step with heavenly realities in every way that he can, and his footprint is particularly evident here. It does take a great deal of patience to work through all of the issues and find the truth. We have attempted to do so, as have so many others, and present here what we have found.

We write on the subject, not to add to the present confusion or just to be unique, but because we believe God's calendar is important and that it should be sought out based only on the wording of Scripture rather than partly on religious tradition and the teachings of Man. We do not see any other publication which approaches the subject entirely in this manner. We also wish to conveniently highlight weekday Sabbaths so we can make proper arrangements at work in advance.

Doubtless, this process of understanding and appreciating God's feasts will be ongoing as we learn more about their value, meaning and significance, as well as how to observe and enjoy them. However, regardless of our findings, we must finally contend that it is actually better for a saint to follow the conventions and practices of their local spiritual community, should they be so blessed to walk with others who are also inclined to observe these feasts, rather than spending these seasons in isolation or in causing strife and division. God clearly intended for spiritual communities to observe these times together, and this aspect of the design, in our opinion, is actually more weighty and helpful to the saint than for him to miss this wholesomeness in order to be technically correct on the calendar itself. An informed saint can do both with integrity: observe peaceably with an imperfect community as well as commune with and obey God when, in his own view, divinity is engaging in and observing each feast in the heavenlies.


In the year 2016 CE, we believe the Feasts of the Lord occur as follows:









Apr 22



Unleavened Bread


Apr 22


Apr 28


First Fruits


Apr 24





Jun 12





Oct 2





Oct 11





Oct 16


Oct 23


  • Each holy day starts sunset the prior evening and ends sunset the given date.
  • Sunday Sabbath:  labor forbidden
  • Weekday Sabbath: take off work

Sabbaths occur within these feasts as follows:
      -- Unleavened Bread - first and last day
      -- Trumpets
      -- Atonement
      -- Tabernacles           - first and last day

Our reasons for selecting these dates are as follows.

Defining the Month and Year

The timing of God's calendar each year depends upon a monthly date, such as the 14th day of the first month. So, in order to know when to celebrate a feast of the Lord, we first need to know when a month begins, and we also need to know when a year begins.

There are several types of annual calendars in use today, and also several different ways of defining a month. Only one of these combinations may be correct, and it is theoretically possible that none of them are exactly correct.

We suppose that God revealed His calendar definitions to Man very early in history and that Man has in large measure presumed to deviate from God's way. We therefore wish to look to God's instruction, as best we can, to determine His calendar, and expect that what we find might is very different from any calendars in use today: it may not have much support from either tradition or history. Though God does not tell us exactly how He does this in Scripture, He does provide some very strong clues.

Psalm 104:19a says, "He appointed the moon for seasons," where seasons is the same word translated feasts in Leviticus 23:4 below. We can see from this that God uses the moon to define His feasts, so the phases of the moon must be critical in defining a month. [2]

Both the first and last feasts are weekly feasts that begin on the evening between the 14th and 15th day of the month, about the time of the full moon. The moon will be the fullest at (and therefore a sign of) the start of these key feasts if the dark moon (the lunar conjunction, the astronomical new moon), is within the last day of the month. We therefore define the month as follows: the new month begins at the first sunset in Jerusalem on or after the astronomical new moon. Relevant dates and times for Jerusalem are:

New Moon:

Next we consider a biblical definition for a year. [3] The new year is defined by the fact that an offering of newly harvested grain must be presented to God on the feast of First Fruits, which is on the first Sunday after the 14 th day of the first month. (Ex 12:2) A new year should therefore start with the month in which the spring harvest is expected to begin by the time this grain offering is due. (Lev 23:10-14) This convention consistently synchronizes the solar and lunar cycles (the Gregorian calendar uses varying month lengths and a leap year to do so). This implies that the earliest expected spring harvest time in the vicinity of Jerusalem will define the new year.

Feasts Overview: Leviticus 23                                                     calendar

    1  And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying,
    2  Speak unto the children of Israel, and say unto them, Concerning
       the feasts of the LORD, which ye shall proclaim to be holy
       convocations, even these are my feasts.

Note that God does not say that these are Jewish festivals: He says they are His festivals. God is evidently revealing these feasts to Israel so that the entire world may enjoy them along with Him. There is no indication in Scripture otherwise. We presume from this that the correct dates are of some importance to God, and that He will sort out any confusion about them when He returns to reign on the earth.

Weekly Sabbath                                                                          calendar

    3  Six days shall work be done: but the seventh day is the sabbath of
       rest, an holy convocation; ye shall do no work therein: it is the
       sabbath of the LORD in all your dwellings.

The weekly Sabbath occurs on the 7th day of each week, which is our Saturday.[4] It is, we learn from this text, a time set apart by God for us to get together, rest, relax, and feast. Sabbath is definitely considered a feast day and a time of congregational assembly along with the other feasts.

Annual Feasts

    4  These are the feasts of the LORD, even holy convocations, which
       ye shall proclaim in their seasons.

Passover                                                                                     calendar

    5  In the fourteenth day of the first month at even is the LORD's

This Feast is what the Bible refers to as The Lord's Supper, with all of its rich symbolism. In Exodus 12:8 God specifies specific symbolic components of the Passover meal: roasted lamb, bitter herbs and unleavened bread. We understand from the Gospel accounts that the unleavened bread represents the broken body of our Lord (Mat 26:26) and that wine is also part of the meal and symbolizes the blood of the New Covenant. (Mat 26:28) The sacrificial Passover lamb is also supremely representative of Christ. (1 Cor 5:7)

Evidently due to the intense symbolism in this meal and the overall meaning and significance of Passover in God's economy, there is a special requirement of personal holiness in those who participate, symbolized in the requirement of circumcision for any male participants and the use of unleavened bread during the meal itself. Passover is the only feast like this, which requires personal holiness in order to celebrate, and Paul indicates that it is possible for a believer to actually get physically ill or even die if they participate in this feast with open, willful, unconfessed sin in their life and consume the symbolic elements of the meal in an unworthy manner. (1 Cor 11:27-32)

Another unique aspect of this feast lies in the command to recount the glories of the Exodus to all succeeding generations. As we do this we should be reminded of the vast power God displayed in saving us from the god of this world and freeing us to follow Him. Setting captives free from such a powerful enemy is no small thing, and the fact that He has already displayed such awesome power in our lives should encourage us whenever we face daunting circumstances. Nothing is impossible with God!

It appears that other aspects of the very first Passover, such as sprinkling blood on the lintel and door posts (Ex 12:7) and eating the meal fully clothed, staff in hand, as if prepared at any moment to leave home for good (Ex 12:11), may not have been part of the regular annual Passover celebration since [1] God did not allow His people to celebrate this feast at home after they had settled in the Promised Land ("Thou mayest not sacrifice the passover within any of thy gates, which the LORD thy God giveth thee: but at the place which the LORD thy God shall choose to place his name in." Deu 16:5-6a) and so they may have been in tents without access to durable housing in which to celebrate it, and [2] Jesus did not appear to be in any hurry during His last Passover meal with the disciples since John was reclining next to Him during the meal (John 21:11), which appears to be a posture of rest and relaxation inconsistent with the spirit of haste in the initial Passover.

The killing of the Passover lamb occurs toward the end of the 14th day as the evening approaches between the 14th and 15th day: "And they departed from Rameses in the first month, on the fifteenth day of the first month; on the morrow after the passover the children of Israel went out with an high hand in the sight of all the Egyptians." This places the actual Passover meal in the evening of the 15th day of the month so it is the first meal of the next feast, Unleavened Bread and is therefore eaten on a special sabbath day. However, it was evidently a custom for the Passover sacrifices to be slain over a period of several days leading up to the 14th so that it was customary for some to eat it on the evening of the 14th, which is evidently when the Last Supper occurred.

Unleavened Bread                                                                      calendar

    6  And on the fifteenth day of the same month is the feast of
        unleavened bread unto the LORD: seven days ye must eat
        unleavened bread.
    7  In the first day ye shall have an holy convocation: ye shall do no
        servile work therein.
    8  But ye shall offer an offering made by fire unto the LORD seven
        days: in the seventh day is an holy convocation: ye shall do no
       servile work therein.

The Passover meal begins a 7-day Feast of Unleavened Bread that evidently symbolizes sanctification; as part of being delivered from the penalty of sin by the substitution of our atoning Lamb believers are to purpose to live in holiness, to free themselves from sin's shackles by abstaining from all manner of rebellion and disobedience to God's Law. This is an intentional process of constant awareness and deliberate purposefulness, which is acted out in the feast by cleansing their personal environment of all leaven on prior to the 15th day, and purposing to keep it entirely out of their experience for the duration of the ensuing 7-day Feast of Unleavened Bread. It is fulfilled in believers in the New Covenant in which God writes Torah into the minds and hearts of His children so that they purpose to love and follow Him in obedience to His ways. (Heb 8:8-11)

It is evident that this feast involves two assemblies, one at the beginning and one at the end. This second one is to be a solemn occasion: "Six days thou shalt eat unleavened bread: and on the seventh day shall be a solemn assembly to the LORD thy God: thou shalt do no work therein." (Deu 16:8)

Deuteronomy provides additional emphasis on this particular feast, that it is one of three annual feasts where all the men of the community are to gather together before God and offer something to Him, a personal token acknowledging God's favor and blessing upon them and their families: "Three times in a year shall all thy males appear before the LORD thy God in the place which he shall choose; in the feast of unleavened bread, and in the feast of weeks, and in the feast of tabernacles: and they shall not appear before the LORD empty: every man shall give as he is able, according to the blessing of the LORD thy God which he hath given thee." (Deu 16:16-17)

The Freewill Offering

The special offering required during each of the three major festival seasons is evidently a freewill offering, an animal sacrifice offered voluntarily, not required to fulfill any other ceremonial obligation. While each of the other types of sacrifices required a specific kind of male animal without blemish (De 17:1, Lev 22: each evidently symbolic in various ways of Yeshua Messiah being our perfect substitute), a freewill offering was [1] allowed to have a blemish (Lev 22:23), and [2] of a kind decided by the giver himself rather than being specified by God. This suggests the freewill offering is symbolic of voluntarily giving our own selves to God in some way. Perhaps it is from this concept that Paul begs the brothers, "by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service." (Rom 12:2) God is pleased when we, especially men, purpose to live for Him thankfully and voluntarily. Clearly, He is pleased for women to do so as well, but as leaders in the family and culture, God is evidently more concerned that men are calling themselves together before Him and giving themselves to God together on a regular basis. Evidently, this is strategically fundamental to the health and benefit of the family and society, and ultimately a deep blessing to women and children as well.

Additionally, Paul mentions the purging of leaven as symbolic of putting away sin: "Purge out therefore the old leaven, that ye may be a new lump, as ye are unleavened. For even Christ our passover is sacrificed for us:  Therefore let us keep the feast, not with old leaven, neither with the leaven of malice and wickedness; but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth." (1Co 5:7-8)

By these texts we find in this feast that God is calling His people, particularly men, to separate ourselves from our regular routine into a special place of His choosing in order to do three things:
        [1] feast for a week with no leaven, symbolizing the pursuit of holiness,
        [2] assemble together on the first and seventh days, ending solemnly,
        [3] voluntarily offer our lives to God, especially men,
              putting ourselves at His disposal to do with as He will.

First Fruits                                                                                 calendar

      9  And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying,

    10 Speak unto the children of Israel, and say unto them, When ye be
       come into the land which I give unto you, and shall reap the harvest
       thereof, then ye shall bring a sheaf of the firstfruits of your harvest
       unto the priest:

    11 And he shall wave the sheaf before the LORD, to be accepted for
       you: on the morrow after the sabbath the priest shall wave it.

    12 And ye shall offer that day when ye wave the sheaf an he lamb
       without blemish of the first year for a burnt offering unto the LORD.

    13 And the meat offering thereof shall be two tenth deals of fine flour
        mingled with oil, an offering made by fire unto the LORD for a
        sweet savour: and the drink offering thereof shall be of wine, the
        fourth part of an hin.

    14 And ye shall eat neither bread, nor parched corn, nor green ears,
       until the selfsame day that ye have brought an offering unto your
       God: it shall be a statute for ever throughout your generations in
       all your dwellings.

From the text, But now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the firstfruits of them that slept. (1 Cor 15:20), this feast appears to be a celebration of the Resurrection of Yeshua, comparable to the traditional Easter celebration in paganized Christianity, and of our bodily resurrection following Yeshua's. It is on the surface a celebration of the beginning of the physical harvest of grain that then, evidently, becomes a shadow of God's harvest of souls. Incorporated into the ritual is the sacrifice of a perfect male lamb as a burnt offering, which evidently points to Messiah Yeshua. Much like we do grain, God will harvest the souls of the saints as a peculiar treasure to Himself to enjoy, and destroy the rest with fire.(Mat 3:12) Yeshua is the beginning of this harvest, and the saints will follow Him in it. But every man in his own order: Christ the firstfruits; afterward they that are Christ's at his coming. (1 Cor 15:23)

It is interesting to note that the biblical definition of this feast always places it on a Sunday, the first day of the week. From verse 11 we know that First Fruits is the day after a sabbath day, but the sabbath in question could be either the first day of Unleavened Bread (in which work is forbidden, so it is a sabbath), or the weekly Sabbath day that occurs during Unleavened Bread. If it is the first day of Unleavened Bread then both First Fruits and Pentecost might not occur on a Sunday since by definition both of these feasts must occur on the same day of the week. However, from verse 16 below we know that Pentecost follows a weekly sabbath, so both feasts must be on Sunday. For further detail here please see, The Truth About Shavuot.

It is also interesting that this particular feast is instrumental in defining the new year, and that its instructions imply that Man's discernment is included in the timing of God's heavenly calendar. We are not to eat of any of the spring harvest until this grain offering is presented to God (vs 14), implying that the feast must occur after the spring harvest has begun. From this text, no method of determining the New Year can be correct if it ever, for all time, were to position this feast prior to the spring grain harvest in the vicinity of Jerusalem. This is the key argument against using the vernal equinox to define the first month.

As there is no longer a temple in which to offer sacrifices, or priests to wave sheaves of grain, believers are doing little if anything with First Fruits, except perhaps looking into the pallid curiosities of rabbinic tradition. We are leaving it to the world to blend the glories of the resurrection with a pagan fertility goddess. Yet First Fruits is mentioned in this context as if it were also a "convocation," or a time of assembly, and also a feast. Therefore it seems that the least we can do is come together in Messiah, eat a nice meal, and talk about resurrection, both in the prophetic (Heb 6:2), and how this principle works in our lives on a daily basis (John 11:25, Php 3:10), and how it functions as a goal in our sanctification. (Php 3:11) As this feast falls within the week-long celebration of Unleavened Bread the activities of both of these feasts are relevant to and interrelated with each other.

Pentecost                                                                        calendar

    15 And ye shall count unto you from the morrow after the sabbath,
       from the day that ye brought the sheaf of the wave offering; seven
       sabbaths shall be complete:

    16 Even unto the morrow after the seventh sabbath shall ye number
       fifty days; and ye shall offer a new meat offering unto the LORD.

    17 Ye shall bring out of your habitations two wave loaves of two tenth
       deals: they shall be of fine flour; they shall be baken with leaven;
       they are the firstfruits unto the LORD.

    18 And ye shall offer with the bread seven lambs without blemish of
       the first year, and one young bullock, and two rams: they shall be
       for a burnt offering unto the LORD, with their meat offering, and
       their drink offerings, even an offering made by fire, of sweet savour
       unto the LORD.

    19 Then ye shall sacrifice one kid of the goats for a sin offering, and
       two lambs of the first year for a sacrifice of peace offerings.

    20 And the priest shall wave them with the bread of the firstfruits for
       a wave offering before the LORD, with the two lambs: they shall
       be holy to the LORD for the priest.

    21 And ye shall proclaim on the selfsame day, that it may be an holy
       convocation unto you: ye shall do no servile work therein: it shall
       be a statute for ever in all your dwellings throughout your

    22 And when ye reap the harvest of your land, thou shalt not make
       clean riddance of the corners of thy field when thou reapest,
       neither shalt thou gather any gleaning of thy harvest: thou shalt
       leave them unto the poor, and to the stranger: I am the LORD your

On the Feast of First Fruits we are told to start counting fifty days, with First Fruits being Day 1, to determine the date of another feast, the Feast of Pentecost. This feast appears to correspond to the giving of the Torah on Mount Sinai, which was about 50 days after the Exodus from Egypt, and is also the day on which the first large harvest of the Jewish people took place as three thousand souls were added to the kingdom when they received the preaching of Peter in Acts 2. Celebrating this feast appears to be a celebration of the completion of the harvest, just as First Fruits is the celebration of its beginning.

While the above Levitical text describes the sacrificial duties of this festival, as with the other feasts Deuteronomy provides additional helpful practical details:

    "Seven weeks shalt thou number unto thee: begin to number the seven weeks from such time as thou beginnest to put the sickle to the corn. And thou shalt keep the feast of weeks unto the LORD thy God with a tribute of a freewill offering of thine hand, which thou shalt give unto the LORD thy God, according as the LORD thy God hath blessed thee: and thou shalt rejoice before the LORD thy God, thou, and thy son, and thy daughter, and thy manservant, and thy maidservant, and the Levite that is within thy gates, and the stranger, and the fatherless, and the widow, that are among you, in the place which the LORD thy God hath chosen to place his name there. And thou shalt remember that thou wast a bondman in Egypt: and thou shalt observe and do these statutes." (Deu 16:9-12)

    "Three times in a year shall all thy males appear before the LORD thy God in the place which he shall choose; in the feast of unleavened bread, and in the feast of weeks , and in the feast of tabernacles: and they shall not appear before the LORD empty: every man shall give as he is able, according to the blessing of the LORD thy God which he hath given thee." (Deu 16:16-17)

Firstly, we may notice that the primary concept associated with this particular feast is that of a special "tribute of a free will offering," (vs 10) which each man was required to bring and give to God. (De 16:16-17) A tribute is a gift intended to show gratitude, respect, or admiration and, as noted in Unleavened Bread, a freewill offering is evidently an animal sacrifice symbolic of voluntarily giving our entire selves to God. We can see here that it is particularly important for men, as leaders of our families and communities, to be examples of godliness for all to follow and to encourage each other in pursuing humble, sacrificial holiness in their family and cultural relationships.

By looking at both of these texts together we find God calling us in this feast to separate ourselves in community from our routines into a special place to do four things:
       [1] rejoice with family, community and others interested in attending,
       [2] remember our deliverance from slavery and bondage,
       [3] renew our dedication and focus in obeying God's commandments,
       [4] voluntarily offer our lives to God, especially men, putting ourselves at
             His disposal to do with as He will.

As seen in the expression of this command in Deuteronomy, the formal command to actually count the days, one day at a time, to actually assign numbers to them and ceremonially count them each day as they occur, may not be the intent of the command as much as to determine the Sunday on which Pentecost falls. Certainly, counting the days one by one as they occur is not wrong, and may be a wonderful way to stay engaged with this waiting process between the two feasts, and will likely serve to heighten our engagement with and anticipation of this final harvest celebration, but it is unclear whether this type of counting is strictly commanded in the text.

The prophetic significance of Pentecost, also called Shavuot, seems to be related to three things:
       [1] Spring harvest (Ex 23:16),
       [2] Giving of Torah (which likely occurred about this time), and
       [3] Outpouring of the Spirit to empower God's harvest. (Acts 1:8)
All of these seem to be related to God's work of sowing His Word into Man and reaping a harvest of righteousness as He transforms men by the power of the Spirit and the Word into His likeness. Perhaps this will be fulfilled in the ultimate going forth of the Word and the Spirit from Jerusalem to the nations during the millennium as God reaps His ultimate harvest in Man. (Is 2:2-3, Mic 4:2)

Trumpets                                                                                    calendar

    23 And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying,

    24 Speak unto the children of Israel, saying, In the seventh month, in the first day of the month, shall ye have a sabbath, a memorial of blowing of trumpets, an holy convocation.

    25 Ye shall do no servile work therein: but ye shall offer an offering made by fire unto the LORD.

This feast, called in Hebrew Yom Teruah, involves the blowing of trumpets and/or shouting. It is likely a foreshadowing of the return of Messiah. It is further described in Numbers 29:1-6, where mention is made of a special atoning sacrifice just before Atonement: "And one kid of the goats for a sin offering, to make an atonement for you." (vs 5) This is perhaps indicative of the special relevance of Trumpets for those who have made a covenant with God by sacrifice prior to His second coming, that God will gather them together unto Him (Ps 50:5) before the Great Judgment begins.

The following scriptures also appear to be related in a prophetic, symbolic sense.

     Behold, I shew you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory. O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory? (1 Co 15:51-56)

    But I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep, that ye sorrow not, even as others which have no hope. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him. For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent them which are asleep. For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord. Wherefore comfort one another with these words . (1Th 4:13-18)

This feast follows Shavuot, the feast of sowing and harvesting, and may therefore be a prophetic shadow of the end of the harvesting age, the sudden coming of Christ to bring a final end to the rebellion of Man. The ten days between Yom Teruah and Yom Kippur, which are named in Jewish tradition the Days of Awe, may be representative of the Millennial reign of Christ and His forceful rule over the nations (Ps 2:9, Rev 2:27), which seems to end in His universal call of all men to the Great White Throne of judgment, evidently symbolized in Yom Kippur. (Jude 1:14-15, Rev 20:11).

As for practical activities for us on this particular feast, the only instruction provided in the feast definitions themselves is to assemble, feast, and shout and blow trumpets. Since it is the only feast occurring on the first day of the month, Psalm 81 may be relevant: "Sing aloud unto God our strength: make a joyful noise unto the God of Jacob.  Take a psalm, and bring hither the timbrel, the pleasant harp with the psaltery. Blow up the trumpet in the new moon, in the time appointed, on our solemn feast day. For this was a statute for Israel, and a law of the God of Jacob.  This he ordained in Joseph for a testimony, when he went out through the land of Egypt: where I heard a language that I understood not." (vs 1-5) For the redeemed it is evidently to be a day of loud, spontaneous singing, rejoicing, spiritual comfort and praise to God, foreshadowing the soul-bursting joy that will accompany our gathering together unto Him as He prepares to judge the nations and right all wrongs. (Rev 19:6) For those who remain outside of God, the rest of this Psalm appears to be a prophetic lament, a sober testimony against and an indictment of all rebellion and alienation from God.

Atonement                                                                                 calendar

    26 And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying,

    27 Also on the tenth day of this seventh month there shall be a day of
       atonement: it shall be an holy convocation unto you; and ye shall
       afflict your souls, and offer an offering made by fire unto the LORD.

    28 And ye shall do no work in that same day: for it is a day of
       atonement, to make an atonement for you before the LORD your

    29 For whatsoever soul it be that shall not be afflicted in that same
         day, he shall be cut off from among his people.

    30 And whatsoever soul it be that doeth any work in that same day, the
       same soul will I destroy from among his people.

    31 Ye shall do no manner of work: it shall be a statute for ever
       throughout your generations in all your dwellings.

    32 It shall be unto you a sabbath of rest, and ye shall afflict your souls:
       in the ninth day of the month at even, from even unto even, shall ye
       celebrate your sabbath.

The main theme of this feast, called in Hebrew Yom Kippur, appears to lie in an intentional self-affliction of our souls before God. This suggests that we are to mourn the evil in ourselves and others and allow ourselves to suffer in sorrow with God for a season:

    Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee
    from you. Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you. Cleanse
    your hands, ye sinners; and purify your hearts, ye double minded.
    Be afflicted, and mourn, and weep: let your laughter be turned to
    mourning, and your joy to heaviness. Humble yourselves in the sight
    of the Lord, and he shall lift you up
    . (Jas 4:7-10)

This feast follows Trumpets, Yom Teruah, and may symbolize God's final call to judgment: this feast may be prophetic of God's final Great White Judgement, His ultimate and comprehensive dealing with sin in the world.

The call to self-affliction is certainly a healthy one, especially when the call is for a short season; it is good for us to remember that we are all as an unclean thing, and that all of our righteousnesses are as filthy rags, and that in our humanity we all fade as a leaf, and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away from God. (Is 64:6) God suffers greatly under the constant burden of our sinfulness, so it is indeed appropriate for us to intentionally meditate on the ugliness of sin, especially our own, as He bids us to. When we are poor in spirit we are acutely aware of our inadequacies; we find it much easier to esteem others better than ourselves and to be extremely thankful for the mercy and lovingkindness of God. We ought not ever to take Him for granted.

This annual call to self-affliction is likely a foreshadowing of the fear and misery that shall befall all who continue to rebel against the God of Heaven and refuse to submit themselves to Him, even as they are being judged. The recurrence of this feast in the biblical calendar is therefore an elegant, effective and precious means to focus the hearts of all men on their desperate need of a propitiation for sin, the Lamb of God which takes away the sin of the world, so that they might be spared and find mercy in the judgment for the sake of Christ, and not be ultimately lost and cast away from God.

Tabernacles                                                                                calendar

    33 And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying,

    34 Speak unto the children of Israel, saying, The fifteenth day of this
       seventh month shall be the feast of tabernacles for seven days unto
       the LORD.

    35 On the first day shall be an holy convocation: ye shall do no servile
       work therein.

    36 Seven days ye shall offer an offering made by fire unto the LORD:
       on the eighth day shall be an holy convocation unto you; and ye
       shall offer an offering made by fire unto the LORD: it is a solemn
       assembly; and ye shall do no servile work therein.

    37 These are the feasts of the LORD, which ye shall proclaim to be
        holy convocations, to offer an offering made by fire unto the LORD,
        a burnt offering, and a meat offering, a sacrifice, and drink offerings,
        every thing upon his day:

    38 Beside the sabbaths of the LORD, and beside your gifts, and beside
        all your vows, and beside all your freewill offerings, which ye give
        unto the LORD.

    39 Also in the fifteenth day of the seventh month, when ye have
       gathered in the fruit of the land, ye shall keep a feast unto the
       LORD seven days: on the first day shall be a sabbath, and on
       the eighth day shall be a sabbath.

    40 And ye shall take you on the first day the boughs of goodly trees,
       branches of palm trees, and the boughs of thick trees, and willows
       of the brook; and ye shall rejoice before the LORD your God seven

    41 And ye shall keep it a feast unto the LORD seven days in the year.
       It shall be a statute for ever in your generations: ye shall celebrate it
       in the seventh month.

    42 Ye shall dwell in booths seven days; all that are Israelites born shall
       dwell in booths:

    43 That your generations may know that I made the children of Israel
       to dwell in booths, when I brought them out of the land of Egypt:
       I am the LORD your God.

    44 And Moses declared unto the children of Israel the feasts of the

This feast follows Atonement, Yom Kippur, which evidently symbolizes God's call of Man to ultimate and final judgment. This final feast, called in Hebrew Sukkot, is evidently both a memorial of how Israel dwelt in temporary dwellings during their wandering in the dessert, and also a reminder that God tabernacled among them during this time.

While the above Levitical text describes the sacrificial duties of this festival, as with the other feasts Deuteronomy provides additional helpful practical details:

    "Thou shalt observe the feast of tabernacles seven days, after that thou hast gathered in thy corn and thy wine: and thou shalt rejoice in thy feast, thou, and thy son, and thy daughter, and thy manservant, and thy maidservant, and the Levite, the stranger, and the fatherless, and the widow, that are within thy gates. Seven days shalt thou keep a solemn feast unto the LORD thy God in the place which the LORD shall choose: because the LORD thy God shall bless thee in all thine increase, and in all the works of thine hands, therefore thou shalt surely rejoice." (Deu 16:13-15)

    "Three times in a year shall all thy males appear before the LORD thy God in the place which he shall choose; in the feast of unleavened bread, and in the feast of weeks, and in the feast of tabernacles: and they shall not appear before the LORD empty: every man shall give as he is able, according to the blessing of the LORD thy God which he hath given thee." (Deu 16:16-17)

Firstly, observe that the primary focus of this final feast is rejoicing. God calls us to come together in families and community to engage with Him in His Creation, getting our hands dirty in building temporary patchwork dwellings of freshly cut, leafy branches. He commands us to dwell in these frail, fragrant structures together, being reminded of our dependence on Him and His willingness to care for us in our journey Home. Also, as noted in Unleavened Bread, a freewill offering is required of the men for a third time in the calendar year, evidently an animal sacrifice symbolic of voluntarily giving our entire selves to God. As men give themselves unreservedly to God they tend to be more charitable, patient and humble, providing for stronger families and blessing the nation and encouraging all to follow their lead.

By looking both of these texts together we find that God calls us in community in this feast to separate ourselves from our routines into a special place to do four things:
        [1] rejoice with family, community and others interested in attending,
        [2] remember our vulnerability during our journey out of slavery into the
              promised land and how God miraculously cares for us,
        [3] remember how God Himself dwelt among His people in a tent and
              went with them in their journeys, never leaving them. (Heb 13:5)
        [4] voluntarily offer our lives to God, especially men,
              putting ourselves at His disposal to do with as He will.

From all appearances then this feast is also prophetic, foreshadowing God's final dwelling among men as He did in the wilderness, and may have been partly fulfilled in His coming to dwell among us in the Person of Christ -- Who was very likely born during this feast, a time when all devout Jews would have been in or near Jerusalem along with their families. The ultimate fulfillment of this final feast is likely to be found in God's physical dwelling with Man in the New Jerusalem which will come down from Heavan and adorn the New Heavens and the New Earth (Rev 21:3), which follows the final Judgment and destruction of sin and completes the prophetic calendar.


Notes                                                                                         calendar

1. Date Controversy

    Many orthodox Jews follow a rabbinic calendar which has little resemblance to the biblical calendar. For example, the rabbinic calendar celebrates the New Year in the Fall on the feast of Trumpets, [5] whereas Torah states that Passover is in the first month, which is in Spring. The rabbinic calendar was developed early in the Diaspora so that Jews world-wide could observe the feasts as a global community when they were unable to either communicate across long distances or conveniently return to Jerusalem. Now that technology enables an instant global awareness of the required biblical parameters for determining the calendars, some Jews, the Kararites, have returned (for the most part, at least) to a biblical definition.

2. Month Controversy                                                                    calendar

    A. In theory, the consistently predictable behavior of the moon allows anyone who is paying attention and carefully observing the moon phases over time to determine monthly boundaries with reasonable precision, so it simply remains to look to Scripture to determine which phase should be used to mark the start of a month.

    B. For millennia, visible sighting of the crescent moon, which follows shortly after the new (dark) moon, has been used by many cultures, including the Hebrew during the time of Yeshua, to mark the beginning of the month. Yet the Chinese have always used the new moon, so we know that it is not an impractical method.[4]

    C. In support of the crescent moon, some argue (from Ex12:2) that when God was instructing Moses in the observation of Passover, that God must have been speaking to him on the 1st day of the month and that the moon must have been visible to Moses at the time. This assertion appears arbitrary since God would likely have used the very same language to describe the first month of the year if He had been speaking with Moses and Aaron on the third or fourth day of the month, or if the moon was not visible. There isn't any hint in the text that God was speaking to them on the first day of the month.

    B. The Hebrews may have begun using the visible crescent while captive in Babylon (~ 600 BCE). We do not know of any records, scriptural or otherwise, indicating that they used the crescent moon prior to their first captivity.

    C. Using the visible crescent to define the month may seem impractical when the moon is not visible, such as when it is very cloudy or there is a sand storm, etc., resulting in potential confusion even within a relatively small geographic area. In such situations the ancients would just end the month after 30 days regardless of a sighting, knowing that a month cannot be more than 30 days long.

    D. The reasoning to start the month with the crescent appears no more logical than to end the month with the crescent. It seems that the only argument in favor of the crescent is historical precedent.

    D. Some propose to start the month with the full moon. [5] The strongest argument against this view appears to be that in a time when the Jews used the visible crescent Yeshua observed Passover and was crucified as the Passover Lamb in the same general time period that the Jews celebrated this feast. If the full moon begins the month then Yeshua did not celebrate any of the biblical feasts correctly, nor did He fulfill any of them in their actual appointed seasons, in which case we must simply ask: Why bother being precise about the calendar at all then?

    E. How to use the new moon to define the monthly boundary:                calendar

      i. Using God's definition of a day, which begins in the evening, or with fading light and then darkness (Ge 1:5, Le 23:32), does not seem relevant to the definition of a month, as if we could apply this principle in a monthly definition. Technically, since there is actually a small invisible crescent just before and just after the conjunction, we generally have both a waning gibbous and a waxing crescent on the same day. And in a practical sense, the moon is not significantly visible to the naked eye for multiple days so the month will begin and end in relative darkness. It seems then that the monthly definition should be established on different grounds than the definition of the day.

      ii. The conjunction is a specific instant in time marking a key boundary condition in the lunar cycle, so this event is a natural one to use to mark the monthly boundary.

      iii. If the new moon is used to mark the monthly boundary, since it happens at a particular instant in time that rarely coincides with a daily boundary, the conjunction must either occur within the first or last day of the month.

      iv. The two weekly feasts, Unleavened Bread and Tabernacles, both start on the 15th day of the month, and since the moon is given to define the seasons, or the appointed times for God's feasts, it seems that the evening when the moon is fullest should mark the beginning of these feasts. Ps 81:3 states: "Blow up the trumpet in the new moon, in the time appointed, on our solemn feast day." The phrase in the time appointed is the Hebrew kehseh which means fullness, evidently relating the demarking of God's appointed times by the full moon.

      v. Since the time from the conjunction to the full moon is 14.75 days, placing the conjunction in the last day of the month places the full moon between days 14 and 15 in such a way that the full moon can be used as a sign to mark the beginning of the spring and fall weekly feasts (which both begin the evening between days 14 and 15). People watching the moon closely will be confirmed by the sign of the full moon that it is time to begin the feast. However, placing the conjunction in the first day of the month places the full moon one day after the start of both of these feasts so in this convention the moon isn't functioning as well as a sign by which to announce the start of the feast.                                                                                   calendar

    F. Kararite dates vary slightly from ours since they use the visible crescent.

3. Year Controversy Exactly how to apply the biblical definition of the new year by determining whether the harvest is mature enough to offer the appropriate grain sacrifice is unclear. Evidently, God was leaving this up to the judgment of seasoned farming communities who understood when to harvest their grain. However, today many try to make this determination who are ignorant of agrarian life and methodologies. Those who wish to avoid this controversy and take the human equation out of the picture propose to use the vernal (spring) equinox to determine the new year. The benefit in using this is that it is predictable and independent of the growing season. People in the land that needed to travel to Jerusalem for Passover could plan appropriately, and if there happened to be a famine in the land corrupting the springtime harvest then the New Year was unaffected. The drawback in using such a method is that if it ever failed to define the new year such that First Fruits fell at the start of the Spring harvest in the vicinity of Jerusalem then it would contradict God's instructions for this feast. The fact that God's calendar is oriented around the activity of Earth, and even depends upon the discernment of Man, is interesting indeed and ought not to be lightly overlooked. It is not without biblical precedent that Paul affirmed God's servants are "workers together with him." (2 Cor 6:1) Further, if Israel was disobedient in following God's Law then it might be entirely appropriate that a famine sent to chasten them would prevent the proper observation of these feasts.

4. Who should participate? Some argue that these festivals are only for Jews since, for example, God commands those who participate in Passover to be circumcised. (Ex 12:48) But Gentiles certainly may become circumcised and therefore legitimately participate. (Num 9:14) Yet some argue further that Paul forbids Gentiles to be circumcised, yet this may be understood in light of the common cultural association of the rite of circumcision with conversion to Judaism as a means of salvation. Paul would have recognized that abstaining from this rite was needful in order to ensure clarity of the Gospel for the people of that day. This prudence from Paul during that time period should not be generalized to a universal annulment of the Law for Gentiles today. It seems clear from the Pauline instructions to the Corinthians, who were largely Gentile, that he intended for them to keep Passover. (2 Cor 5:7-8)

5. Controversy over the Sabbath Many Christians observe Sunday, the first day of the week, as the Sabbath. Some teachers trying to defend this practice argue that since Jesus rose from the dead on Sunday, and since the early Christians often met on Sunday, that God has replaced the Saturday Sabbath with a Sunday Sabbath, in the same way and for the same reasons that He has (in their view) replaced physical Israel with the Church. They therefore call Sunday, The Lord's Day. There is only one small problem with this line of thought: God never said this or even suggested it; there is no indication of this concept in the Bible. The only support for it is long-standing Christian tradition, which is evidently rooted in attempts by early Christian leaders to invent a new religion that claimed to follow the Jewish Messiah but which was also fully decoupled from Judaism. Their motivation does not appear to be in a concern for proper theology, but rather a means to escape the horrible persecutions inflicted upon the Jewish people -- and upon anyone who acted like them, as the early disciples did as they followed Torah -- after the destruction of the Jerusalem temple in 70 CE. No other rational explanation is available to explain the roots of this clearly unbiblical tradition.