The Hebrew Calendar is divided into spring and fall biblical holidays. Amazingly these holidays reveal Gods master plan of redemption and actually correspond to end time events; including the 1st and 2nd coming of the Lord. Leviticus 23 calls these feasts of the Lord appointed times and holy rehearsals. Thus, each holiday offers a window of opportunity to rehearse God’s plan of redemption, to draw close to God, to receive an impartation of fresh revelation and to experience a miracle outpouring of God’s blessing.
The first spring holiday is Passover and commemorates the supernatural deliverance from Egyptian slavery. It was by the power of the blood of that unblemished lamb applied to the doorpost of every house that finally broke the power of bondage. Since the days of Moses this was a divine rehearsal for when God would send His Lamb as the ultimate sacrifice to atone for the sins of the world. Incredibly, after a four-day examination period before the Roman and religious leaders Jesus was found without blemish and slain (crucified) at the exact time the Passover offering was slain in the Temple. This holiday is considered the spiritual New Year.
This Old Covenant “shadow of good things to come” is followed the next day by the Feast of Unleavened Bread which speaks of sanctification and purity. Leaven symbolizes sin and God told the Jewish people to cleanse all leaven from their homes and eat only unleavened bread, matzah, for seven days, symbolizing a holy walk with Him. Jesus, who lived as the sinless Lamb of God, is the "Bread of Life". (John 1:29; John 6:48) Just as the matzah, Jesus was striped and pierced, to symbolize the power of sin and death has been broken.
The celebration of the First Fruits Offering follows 3 days later. This is the first of three major First Fruits Offerings (Deut. 16:16). The High Priest would lift up this barley offering to the Lord and wave it back and forth. It is a powerful and symbolic reminder of God’s grace, favor and protection, and directly corresponds to the Resurrection of the Lord. Jesus is called the Firstfruits of many brethren (Romans 8:29, 1 Cor. 15:20-23). His resurrection marked the beginning of the great harvest of souls which would extend to all nations. (Matthew 28:19, 20)
The 49 day period following Passover is called Counting the Omer, a time of preparation for receiving the Word of God. On the fiftieth day (Jubilee), comes Shavuot or Pentecost when biblical history records both the giving of the Torah at Mt. Sinai (Exodus 19,20) and the giving of the Holy Sprit (Acts 1, 2) about 1,500 years later. It’s symbolic of the completion of the salvation and redemption that began in Egypt. It also fulfills the promise in Jeremiah 31:31-33 that God would make a new covenant by writing the Torah on the hearts of the believers. This is the second of the three First Fruits Offerings and is a wheat offering; representing wisdom and prosperity.
The time between the spring and fall holidays corresponds to the time of waiting for Jesus to return as promised.
The fall holidays begin with the season (month) of Elul, called the time of searching. The entire forty day period between Elul and Yom Kippur is viewed as a supernatural time for God’s people. It’s highlighted by the daily blowing of the trumpet or shofar. As an alarm, it awakens us and beckons us to return to the foundations of our faith. It’s an appointed time to renew, refresh and improve our relationship with God and with God’s people.
Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year (civil), follows thirty days of Elul with a 2-day celebration. It officially begins the High Holiday season and focuses on “teshuvah”, a repentance and return to the Lord. It is another appointed time and divine rehearsal, with God offering repentance and forgiveness for the sins and mistakes we’ve made, along with the opportunity to move forward into our destiny. Traditionally, it is here that God expects us to give an account for all the good things (or bad things) we’ve done the previous year.
It’s very likely Jesus launched His public ministry during the High Holiday season, when people would be in the spirit to receive this message. Matthew 4 recounts that He went into a forty day period of fasting which likely corresponds to Elul, a time of consecration and dedication to His spiritual mission. His first word in public ministry, recorded in Matthew 4:17 is “teshuvah (repent) for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”
Rosh Hashanah is also “the shadow of good things to come” as described in I Thessalonians 4:16-18; the sound of the final trumpet and the re-gathering of believers--known as the rapture of the church. This end-time event is also described in I Corinthians 15 when all believers receive the full manifestation of eternal life and the world to come. It begins the 7 year period known as the Great Tribulation or the Time of Jacob’s Trouble (Jeremiah 30:4-7, Daniel 12:1, Matthew 24:15-22) and is the introduction to the Marriage Supper of the Lamb as described in Revelation 19:9.
The 7 day period between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur corresponds to the 7 years of the Great Tribulation here on earth. While believers are in heaven, those who are left behind still have an opportunity to come to faith in God. It will be however a very difficult experience because His wrath is poured out upon the nations who have absolutely refused to recognize the Lord and are intensely determined to rebel against Him.
Yom Kippur follows and is known as the Day of Atonement. For 3,500 years Jews have celebrated this holiest of days with a focus on forgiveness and reconciliation with God. These themes are rooted in the story of the Golden Calf in Exodus 32. Here, Moses pleaded with God to forgive the Jewish people. When Moses brought the second set of Tablets down from Mount Sinai, it signified that God had accepted their repentance and had forgiven them. From that day forward, every Yom Kippur has symbolized God’s amazing love, mercy and forgiveness; a divine moment when the Lord wipes the slate clean and releases the blessing of a new beginning.
In the Old Testament, the main religious ceremony of Yom Kippur is described in Leviticus 16 and revolves around the holy of holies, the mercy seat and the sacrifices of two goats. This two-fold sacrifice reveals many powerful New Covenant truths including how the blood not only provides forgiveness of sins but also the power to break every curse. It is meant to be a time of great blessing.
This epic day points to the promise of the Lord’s second coming which is know as Judgment Day or the Great Day of the Lord. Prophetically, it takes place after the 7 year tribulation period. This is when Jesus returns with His army of saints and defeats His enemies at the battle of Armageddon (Revelation 16:16). It prepares the way for the Messianic era spoken of in Revelation 19-20, Zechariah 14 and Isaiah 66.
The final holiday of the year, Sukkot, is the Feast of Tabernacles. Ancient Jewish wisdom teaches that Sukkot represents a culmination of time; a time when both the individual and the nation have succeeded in attaining the long, sought-after harvest. It’s a time of great rejoicing that every one of our needs is met. It’s now at this appointed time that we bring the final of the three First Fruit Offerings to demonstrate our gratitude and trust in God.
There is a miracle revelation drawn from Malachi 3 that as we ‘return to the offerings of old’ God will open the windows of heaven and pour out an unlimited blessing. The First Fruit Offerings are the hidden key to the manifestation of this promise.
One of the great symbols of this holiday is the sukkah, the shelter or booth built to serve as a reminder of God’s faithful protection through the forty years in the wilderness. As a temporary structure the sukkah also symbolizes that our physical body and natural life on earth is temporary; that above all else we should always put our faith in the Lord. Ancient teaching refers to the sukkah as the "shelter of faith."
This Feast is also called The Holiday of Gathering and draws another important parallel between both Testaments---the end time harvest of souls. In Deuteronomy 16 God establishes the theme of the threshing floor and points spiritually to the end-time sifting of the wheat from the chaff. It corresponds to Jesus’ teaching in Matthew 25:31-34 and the end time gathering of the nations and the separating of the sheep from the goats.
This also points to the Millennial Reign of the Messiah in Revelation 20-21, when the fullness of the redemptive name of Emanuel (God with us) will be revealed. (Matthew 1:23). Zechariah 14:16 proclaims that during this thousand year reign of Christ, the nations will travel to Jerusalem to worship the King and to keep the Feast of Tabernacles.