(Article 2 of 3 in the Gospel Revealed series)
In the previous article (“The Gospel Revealed In Two Words”) we’ve already seen how “Christ crucified” is that “Lamb slain” from the foundation of the world and how every aspect of the Gospel of grace, peace, redemption, salvation, resurrection and eternal life in the Kingdom of God centers on and is conditional on what Jesus did for us on that cross. It’s why Paul preached “Christ crucified” in spreading the Gospel (I Cor. 1:23). It’s why Christ reveals himself throughout the Book of Revelation as “the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world.” From the very beginning, before the world existed, it was God’s loving plan in giving His only begotten Son for the eternal salvation of mankind. There was to be a “Lamb slain.” In the Old Testament, what Jesus would be doing on that cross was represented in every sacrifice ever done from righteous Abel’s to Abraham’s to those of the Levitical priesthood. They all pointed to that singular event on the cross. The son of man had to be “lifted up” to draw all men to himself because God and His Son loved us (John 3:14-17). Jesus said “… for this purpose I came to this hour” (John 12:27).
As we can read in the book of Hebrews, knowing that all of those animal sacrifices and lambs being slain in the tabernacle or the Temple pointed to Christ’s sacrifice, because of all the additional sacrifices being made by the priests during God’s festival seasons, is there a deeper understanding within those festivals and Holy Days that we should be considering? During the Feast seasons we usually concentrate more on the spiritual significance of what the Israelites outside the tabernacle were doing during those days such as putting out the leaven and eating unleavened bread or dwelling in tabernacles. We already know that there are deep spiritual meanings revealed in each of the Holy Days and they all picture an aspect of God’s plan of salvation. However, for the sons of Aaron, with all of the extra lambs, bullocks and rams being sacrificed on those days, this was the busiest and bloodiest time of the year. When we take a closer look at what they were actually doing, there seems to be something more within these three festival seasons (Ex. 23:14-17; Deut. 16:16; Lev. 23) that God wants to reveal through His Spirit to those He has called. Why does God want us to understand even more about how He has revealed His Gospel in shadow form through His Holy Days? In the remainder of this article we will take a closer look at how God wants us to make additional spiritual connections from the shadow to the true, so we can better worship the Father in spirit and in truth.
Let’s now begin by taking a fresh look at the words of the Torah with their true intention in mind and not just the shadow form of what they meant to most of the ancient Israelites whose hearts were closed or to the Jews in Paul’s day who had a veil placed over their eyes. For example, knowing what the sacrificed lamb really pictures, nothing seems to figuratively shout out to us “Christ crucified” more than seeing the large extra number of lambs slain during the three festival seasons that God revealed to ancient Israel (read Numbers 28 & 29).
After they crossed over the Jordan River, throughout all of Israel’s history every day in the morning and in the evening there was to be the sacrifice of a lamb without spot (Num. 28:3). As can be seen in the rest of Num. 28 & 29, on the Holy Days they sacrificed a lot more lambs without spot along with bullocks, rams and goats. To the sons of Aaron, sacrificing an extra seven or even fourteen lambs without spot (Feast of Tabernacles) every day on the festival days were simply instructions to be obeyed. They had no concept of the Son of God being slain as the Lamb of God to take away the sins of the world. To the Israelites all they could understand from what was revealed to them in the Torah about the holy days was that many of the festivals were tied into their exodus experience when God brought them out of Egypt. After the death angel passed over them, when escaping from captivity in Egypt, they ate unleavened bread (Deut. 16:3) and also dwelt in tabernacles or booths (Lev. 23:43). The festivals also centered on the harvest seasons beginning with the greening of the ears of barley starting the month of Abib. The first of the first fruits of the barley harvest was offered in the wave sheaf offering during the Feast of Unleavened Bread, the celebration of the barley harvest was on Pentecost and the larger wheat harvest was celebrated at the Feast of Tabernacles.
God divided His Holy Days into three festival seasons which are considered pilgrimage festivals. “Three times you shall keep a feast to Me in the year” (Ex. 23:14 and see also Deut. 16:16). The first season is called “Passover” or “the Feast of Unleavened Bread” and it includes both the Passover and the Feast of Unleavened Bread (Luke 22:1; II Chron. 8:13). The second festival season is called Pentecost (“count fifty”) or the feast of weeks. The third festival season is called Tabernacles and consists of Trumpets, Atonement, Feast of Tabernacles and the Last Great Day.. The spiritual intent of the spring festival pointed to Christ who is our Passover and the Bread of Life (John 6:35; also read vs. 32-50). Besides Christ being our Passover who was sacrificed for us through whom we are unleavened, we can spiritually see Him also being the wave sheaf offering being accepted by the Father on that first day of the week after He was resurrected from the dead (John 20:17). Then seven weeks later the Holy Spirit was poured out on the 120 disciples who were gathered on the Feast of Pentecost (Acts 2:1-4). For the next festival (Trumpets) we know that we will be changed at the first resurrection and meet Him in the air at the last trumpet (I Cor. 15:52). In Heb. 8-10 we can see how Christ is our Atonement and our High Priest in a heavenly sanctuary. In Heb. 10:19-20 we have access to “the Holiest by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way which he consecrated for us, through the veil, that is His flesh….”
Both Peter and Paul use the typology of the temporary tabernacles of the Israelites with the temporary existence of the flesh. Peter (foreseeing his own imminent death) wrote how he must shortly put off “this my tabernacle” (II Pet. 1:14). Likewise, Paul wrote, “For we know that if our earthly house, this tent, is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens” (II Cor. 5:1). We can read about the Last Great Day in Rev. 20 & 21 when after death is destroyed and the New Jerusalem comes down all things are made new with God our Father and Jesus Christ (the Lamb) ruling in that heavenly city. There are many other aspects of those 3 festival seasons, including the resurrection of those whose names are written in the Lamb’s book of life in the harvests, which time won’t permit us to cover in this short article. Nevertheless, as mentioned before, all the additional lambs, goats, rams and bullocks being sacrificed on those particular festival days seem to figuratively shout out to those with His Spirit “Christ crucified.” There had to be a “Lamb slain.” Jesus’ purpose in coming to earth is the reason God gave ancient Israel these physical days. They spiritually point to or foreshadow Christ. It’s interesting that before the Israelites were to have a 7 days e festival remembering their exodus from Egypt (when the ate unleavened bread and dwelt in tabernacles), they first were to remember there was a Passover lamb and they were also to fast on the day of Atonement to deal with sin. We all have had our own personal exodus from a way of sin and death. Before celebrating our seven day festivals we take the bread and the wine in remembrance of our Passover and we fast on the day of Atonement remembering the Lamp who takes away the sin of the world and who through the veil, that is His flesh, sits at the right hand of God as our High Priest. We have been freed from the way of sin and death. We are redeemed “with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot” (I Pet. 1:19). This is why we can celebrate those festival seasons. It is this deeper spiritual intent behind the Old Testament meanings of those festival seasons that we need to concentrate on to worship God the Father in spirit and in truth as Jesus said true worshipers must do (John 4:23-24). While we shouldn’t ignore the physical aspects of God’s feasts, it’s the spiritual intent we are to focus on.
When Paul wrote the book of Hebrews his message to the Jews was not about matzo crackers and dwelling in sukkahs (tabernacles), but about the meaning of the temple, the sacrificial system, the role of the high priest and how it all related to the true tabernacle in Heaven and the fulfillment of all these by Jesus Christ whose sacrifice was accepted by the Father and who is now sitting at His right hand today. It’s about the faith of the holy people of God throughout the millennia who were looking for that coming heavenly city whose builder and maker is God. It was all about the role of Jesus Christ in His fulfillment and active purpose in our lives today. The emphasis in Hebrews was not the same as that of Rabbinic Judaism, which evolved from the Pharisees after the destruction of the temple.
The major true spiritual intent of the holy days were reflected in the actions of the sons of Aaron serving in either the tabernacle or the Temple. Again, to them, these were the bloodiest days of the year. All the Passover lambs, all the extra lambs without spot along with the bullocks, goats and rams being killed on those Holy Days has a special spiritual meaning for all of us as Christians. The cross of Christ is the pivotal point in human history whereby people of faith can become new creatures in Christ and receive eternal salvation. Jesus said, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood, you have no life in you. Whoever eats My flesh and drinks My blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day” (John 6:53-54). “Christ crucified” (“Lamb slain”) is central to the gospel. It is the gospel in 2 words (see previous article, “The Gospel Revealed in Two Words”). It is also central to the meaning of those 3 festival seasons.
We can already see how those 3 festival seasons are so much more than just memorial festivals of God’s dealings with the physical nation of Israel. For those granted spiritual eyes to see and understand, the festivals begin with Christ, our Passover who was sacrificed for us and through Him we have left behind the way of sin and death. We are justified by His blood. It was during the Days of Unleavened Bread that Christ became the wave-sheaf offering accepted by the Father. The Holy Spirit was given to His disciples beginning on the Feast of Pentecost (Acts 2:1-4). Through His Holy Spirit, Christ dwells in us continuing to help us overcome the pulls of the flesh. In Col. 1:26-27 we read how the mystery is Christ in you, the hope of glory. In Gal. 2:20 Paul says, “I have been crucified with Christ: it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me, and gave Himself for me.” Jesus was crucified for the sins of each of us. We have died to those sins with Christ and having been justified by His blood through Christ in us there is an ongoing sanctification process. Paul wrote, “…we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all…. For by one offering He has perfected forever those who are being sanctified” (Heb. 10:10, 14). We are now alive by the same faith Christ has in His Father’s agape love and true righteousness– living in the “ministry of the Spirit,” the “ministry of righteousness” in a New Covenant relationship (II Cor. 3:6-9).
Paul preached “Christ crucified”. This can be seen in those 3 festival seasons.
Christ crucified was in the Passover.
Christ crucified was in Pentecost.
Christ crucified is also in all the Fall Holy Days.
Some may ask “how is Christ crucified seen in the fall Holy Days”? The fall festival season begins with the Feast of Trumpets. It’s interesting to see how the Jews today, with a tradition going back to the time of their Babylonian captivity, read on this Feast day (Rosh Hashanah) the story of Abraham going up to Mt. Moriah to sacrifice his son Isaac. Part of the reason for reading this section of the Torah might be because of the ram getting it’s horns (the shofar) stuck in the thicket. They say “Jehovah jirah”– the God who sees and provides. They say, “In the mountain of the Lord it will be provided”. What the Jews don’t understand is that it was there on Mt. Moriah, perhaps on the very pinnacle where Abraham went that was, apart from that section where the Temple stood, that God gave or provided His only begotten Son who was the Lamb slain to take away the sin of the world. The typology of Christ crucified can also be seen in Isaac who, like Christ, was the only begotten son, was named by God, was a willing sacrifice and who carried the wood to be a burnt offering as Jesus carried His cross to be offered up. Christ is also seen in the ram which is substituted to be sacrificed. Christ was the lamb that was slain in our place to pay the penalty of sin so we might have eternal life. Those who are His, will rise to meet Him in the air at the Last Trump. In John 6:54 Jesus said, “Whoever eats My flesh and drinks My blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day”. Christ crucified is clearly seen in the Feast of Trumpets.
The answer to how Christ crucified fits into the beginning of the fall festival season with the Feast of Trumpets is also clearly seen in the book of Revelation. Starting with the first fall festival, in the end time, who is worthy to open the seals so when the last one is opened the Trumpets sound? Rev. 5:6 reads, “And I beheld, and, lo, in the midst of the throne and of the four beasts, and in the midst of the elders, stood a Lamb as it had been slain….” V-8 “Now when He had taken the scroll, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb….” In v-11 the entire host of heaven is saying with a loud voice, “Worthy is the Lamb who was slain to receive power and riches and wisdom, and strength and honor and glory and blessing.” The resurrection occurs at the last trump when Christ returns (I Cor. 15:52). Throughout the entire book of Revelation, Christ primarily reveals himself to John (and the seven churches) as “The Lamb”. That’s the primary way He wanted the brethren to view their glorified Messiah.
Christ crucified is also in the Atonement. The Lamb slain (Christ crucified) will bring the restitution of all things. The Lamb will make the world at one with God. One in agape love and one in true godly righteousness through His Spirit. Jesus is the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world. He is our sin offering, our atonement and our high priest (read Heb. 9). He is the resurrection and the life of all peoples who, after having tabernacling in human flesh, will be part of a great harvest. It is the Lamb who will establish His kingdom and bring world peace. Rev. 17:14 says that the kings with the beast “…will make war with the Lamb, and the Lamb will overcome them, for He is Lord of lords and King of kings; and those who are with Him are called chosen and faithful.” In Rev. 19 we can read about the marriage supper of the Lamb. In Rev. 21 the New Jerusalem comes down and v-22 says “But I saw no temple in it, for the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are its temple. The city had no need of the sun or the moon to shine in it for the glory of God illuminated it. The Lamb is its light.” We will be there on that 8th Last Great Day. Rev. 13:8 says those names are “written in the Book of Life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world.”
We can see how the sons of Aaron sacrificing an extra 7 or even 14 lambs without spot on each Holy Day and Feast day gives a special meaning for our rejoicing during the 3 festival seasons of Passover, Pentecost and Tabernacles. From the beginning of the feast days with Passover to the Last Great Day those days are all about the “Lamb slain” (“Christ crucified”). In those three festival seasons we are actually picturing and celebrating the ministry of Jesus Christ– what He did, what He is doing now and what He will do. We rejoice at all three seasons because He came (Passover), He has come (Pentecost) and He is coming again (Tabernacles). By “Christ crucified” we are justified by His blood (Passover), we are sanctified through His Spirit (Pentecost) and we will be glorified at His coming (Tabernacles). This is good news for mankind! Those three festival seasons in the year picture Christ’s ministry of justification, sanctification and glorification.
For each of us personally, it is because of “Christ crucified” we have justification. Paul wrote that we are justified by His blood (Rom. 5:9). It is because of “Christ crucified” we have sanctification. Heb. 10:10 says, “We have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.” Also, Heb. 13:12 says, “Therefore Jesus also that he might sanctify the people with his own blood, suffered outside the gate.” It is because of “Christ crucified” we have glorification. We will bear the image of the heavenly and be like Him when He raises us up on the last day (John 6:40, 44). We have eternal life because “whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day” (v-54). This is why Paul spread the gospel preaching “Christ crucified” because the “cross of Christ” encompasses His complete past, present and future plan of salvation for each one of us. He is our justification (Passover), sanctification (Pentecost) and glorification (Tabernacles). During those three festival seasons we rejoice because He came (Passover), He has come (Pentecost) and He is coming again (Tabernacles). He was (Passover), yet is (Pentecost) and is to come (Tabernacles). He’s our yesterday (Passover), today (Pentecost) and forever (Tabernacles). Truly, He is “the reason for the season” of the holy days and our focus during those festival seasons should be on our Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ and all that He has done, is doing in our lives today and will do when He returns.
Brethren, the purpose in my writing these three “Gospel Revealed” articles is to have us, as God’s people, focus on the centrality of “Christ crucified” in our lives, in our instruction and in our understanding as we worship in spirit and in truth. “Christ crucified”, the “Lamb slain”, is the trunk of the tree of the Gospel and it’s central in revealing what our focus needs to be during the festival seasons. It brings more appreciation and joy during the feast days as we celebrate our relationship with God our Father and His Son, Jesus Christ, through whom we have reconciliation, adoption and hope.
Unfortunately, in a few of the independent churches and a number of messianic church congregations, too much time can be spent by some of them on the Holy Days only focusing on the Torah’s instruction regarding the Holy Days and looking at. various Hebraic idioms and understandings of those days from a Jewish perspective. A number of them aren’t reading Heb. 8-10 on the day of Atonement to see what Paul was focusing on regarding atonement.. Years ago I attended a church where many of the sermons given also spent too much time on the Holy Days primarily reading about Israel’s application of Lev. 23 (“why are we here? Now let’s turn to Lev. 23…”) and they focused more on what Moses instructed than what was said by Christ and His Apostles. There were times when on the day of Atonement so much time was spent reading from Leviticus that, like some of the messianic churches, there was no time to read Heb. 8-10.. I even occasionally heard some messages where more time was spent talking about Satan the Devil than about Jesus Christ..
Thankfully, most of the churches of God today are concentrating on the spiritual application of the holy days. After all, the Holy Days truly are all about Jesus Christ. He is our Passover. He is the true manna that came down from heaven. His is the bread of life. He is the Rock that followed Israel through the Red Sea of their baptism and He dwells within us.. He is our atonement and high priest making intercession for us. He is the resurrection and the life. The purpose of my writing these 3 Gospel Revealed series of articles is so we can also during these 3 festival seasons concentrate even more on the centrality of Christ crucified (Lamb slain) and His ministry of justification (Passover), sanctification (Pentecost) and glorification (tabernacles) in each of us as new creatures in Christ. That is how the Gospel is revealed in God’s holy days—understanding the True and concentrating on it alone. Yes, we should read what Moses said and observe these days, but we should concentrate even more on their spiritual purpose and focus a little less on their observance as instructed in Lev. 23. It is my prayer that these three articles and others on my website will help encourage you into further study on this subject as we all grow in the grace and knowledge of God our Father and His Son Jesus Christ, that our relationship with them will increase as we yield to His indwelling Holy Spirit. T
As we follow the instructions Christ gave us through Paul’s and the other Apostle’s writings, especially during the 3 festival seasons, let’s remember our calling. That’s what God instructed the Israelites to do. During the 3 festival seasons the Israelites were told to remember their calling; how God saved them in their exodus from Egypt when they ate unleavened bread, dwelt in tabernacles at Succoth and went through the Red Sea to Mt. Sinai. These 3 festival seasons were freedom festivals. So likewise, the festival seasons for us under the new covenant should be a time for us to remember our calling. For each of us we are to remember how our Savior, our Passover, our Rock at our baptism brought us out of a life of sin to walk in newness of life through His Spirit. Let’s also rejoice during the fall festival season when we put off our earthly tabernacles and inherit eternal life in God’s kingdom. During these 3 festival seasons let’s observe them in remembrance of Him– the author and finisher of our faith who endured the cross, our Savior, Jesus Christ. What Christ did (Passover), is doing (Pentecost) and will do (Tabernacles) should be the primary focus of the 3 holy day seasons. Again, through Him we have justification (Passover), sanctification (Pentecost) and will have glorification at His coming (Tabernacles). We can rejoice during these 3 festival seasons because He came (Passover), He has come (Pentecost) and He is coming again (Tabernacles). He was (Passover), yet is (Pentecost) and is to come (Tabernacles). He’s our yesterday (Passover), today (Pentecost) and forever (Tabernacles). He is the reason for the season of the Holy Days.
The centrality of the ministry of Jesus Christ, the Lamb that was slain, of justification, sanctification and glorification that we can see fit perfectly within the 3 festival seasons, can also be seen if you will continue on with the next article in this series titled, “The Gospel Revealed in the 3 Writings of John the Apostle.” In it we will see how John’s 3 writings (the Gospel of John, the Epistles of John and the Book of Revelation) tie perfectly in with the 3 Festival seasons of Passover, Pentecost and Tabernacles.
Written by Lee Lisman
(Please click below to continue to the 3rd of this 3 article series about the Gospel Revealed titled “The Gospel Revealed in the 3 Writings of John the Apostle” to see how this all ties together in John’s writings).