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Friday, May 23, 2008

Understanding the Seven Feasts of the Lord

The God who created the heavens operates in sevens. Seven is God's number of perfection and/or completion.

- There are seven days in the week.
- There are many sevens mentioned in Scripture: Jacob served Laban seven years, there are seven branches of the golden candlestick, seven trumpets and seven priests, seven days of siege upon Jericho, seven churches, seven spirits, and seven stars.
- There are seven ages and dispensations from Genesis 1:1 to the conclusion of the Book of Revelation.
- There are seven seals, seven trumpets, and seven vials in the Tribulation (the first forty-two months) and the Great Tribulation (the latter forty-two months) of seven years of hell on earth.

If you want to understand what God will do in the future, we only have to look to what He has done in the past. The Lord Himself established seven festivals to guide Israel through the centuries until the Messiah comes. These feasts are not exclusively for the Jewish people. The Bible makes it clear that everyone, Jew and Gentile, has the right to draw near.

These seven feasts have several purposes: First, they are intended to draw the minds and hearts of the people toward God. Second, they are a time of communion and joy. Finally, they illustrate spiritual truths and create a picture of God's plan for the ages.

The Hebrew word for "feast", mo'ed , means "a set or appointed time." Very similar in meaning, the word mikrah indicates "a rehearsal or recital." Each feast is a dress rehearsal as it offers a portrait of God's prophetic plan. The combination of the seven feasts were instituted shortly after the people of Israel had left the slavery of Egypt and it is the spiritual blueprint of what lies ahead for Israel, Jerusalem, and the rest of the world.

Before the advent of calendars and clocks, the people of Israel lived by the unchanging calendar of the seasons. The first four festivals -- the Feast of Passover, the Feast of Unleavened Bread, the Feast of Firstfruits, and the Feast of the Pentecost -- take us from the beginning spring to the gathering of the wheat harvest. The three fall festivals -- the Feast of Trumpets, the Feast of Atonement, and the Feast of Tabernacles -- remind the Jewish people that winter lies ahead.

The two sets of feasts also coincide with the two annual seasons of rain. Spring brings the former rain; the latter rain comes in the fall. The prophet Hosea knew the seasons and rain cycles were a clear picture of things to come. Hosea, inspired by the Spirit of God, wrote of the Messiah saying, "He will come to us like the rain, like the latter and former rain to the earth" (Hosea 6:3 NKJV) Hosea meant that the Messiah would come twice - once in the former rain, and again in the latter rain. The four feasts of the former rain, Passover, Unleavened Bread, Firstfruits, and Pentecost, are God's first four acts in the preparation of the Second Coming. The prophetic fulfillment of those feasts lie behind us. As the first four feasts predicted what now lies in history, so the next three will help us to see what lies ahead.

Next Post The Feast of Passover

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