The Seven Festivals of Messiah - Overview of the Spring and Autumn Festivals

by Eddie Chumney

Overview of the Spring Festivals

The four Spring Festivals are Passover, Unleavened Bread, First Fruits, and the Feast of Weeks or Pentecost. These four Spring Festivals are joined  together as an interrelated unit.

The Feast of Weeks is considered the conclusion to Passover.  The season ofPassover is not considered totally over until Pentecost is completed. Passover begins in Egypt (a type of the world), where the children of Israel had becomeslaves.  In the days of Joseph, there was a famine in Israel and thechildren of Israel went down to Egypt and gave themselves to rulership under Pharoah.  Because of this, Pharoah had legal ownership over the people.  This ownership could be broken only by the death of Pharoah, thus freeing the children of Israel to go to the Promised Land.  When Pharoah died, his rulership over the children of Israel was legally broken and the people were free to go to the Promised Land.

Spiritually speaking, Pharoah is a type of Satan.  Until you accept Jesus into your life, Satan has legal ownership over you.  By the death of Jesus, the legal ownership that Satan has over our lives is broken and we are free to enter into the spiritual promised land of God and receive all the promises that He has promised to us.

From the crossing of the Red Sea (Nisan 17) to the day Moses met God on Mount Sinai were 47 days.  For 47 days the children of Israel traveled through the wilderness before they came to Mount Sinai on the third day of the third month. (Exodus 19:1)  God instructed the people through Moses to sanctify themselves before He visited them three days later on Mount Sinai, which would be the sixth day of the third month. (Exodus 19:10-11)  This day would be the fiftieth day following the crossing of the Red Sea.  It came to be known as the revelation of God at Mount Sinai.  This day, being the fiftieth day from the crossing of the Red Sea on Nisan 17 would be the Feast of Weeks or Pentecost.

From the Exodus story, we can see tht the Lamb was slain on the fourteenth of Nisan, the day of Passover.  On the fifteenth of Nisan, the day of Unleavened Bread, the people left Egypt. On the seventeenth of Nisan the children of Israel crossed the Red Sea, and 50 days later on the Feast of Weeks or Pentecost, God gave Moses the Commandments.

In the studies of the Feasts that will follow, we will see how Jesus died on Passover (Nisan 14), was in the sepulcher on the day of Unleavened Bread (Nisan 15), and was resurrected on the day of First Fruits (Nisan 17), and the Holy Spirit empowered the believers 50 days following Jesus resurrection on the day of Pentecost.  We will also learn what these Feasts mean to the believer and how they relate to our personal relationship with God.

Overview of the Fall Festivals

The Fall Festival season begins with a 40 day period called, in Hebrew, 'Teshuvah', which means "to repent or return".  This 40 day period begins in the sixth month of the Religious Calendar, and concludes on the tenth day of the seventh month, which is Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement.  Each morning in the synagogue following the morning prayers, a trumpet (shofar) is blown (except on sabbaths and the day preceding Rosh HaShanah, the Feast of Trumpets).

The Biblical name for Rosh HaShanah is Yom Terah, which means "the day of the awakening blast".  We call it the Feast of Trumpets. God gave us this day to teach us about the resurrection of the dead, the coronation of the Messiah, the wedding of the Messiah, and more.  This day is both the Jewish New Year and the beginning of a period of soul searching known as the High Holy Days, culminating on Yom Kippur. 

Therefore, the last 10 days of the 40 day period of Teshuvah or repentance, is also called the high Holy Days. The first and second days of the 10 High Holy Days (Tishrei 1-10) are collectively known as one day. (Nehemiah 8:1-2,13)  The seven day period from Tishrei 3 through Tishrei 9 is called the Days of Awe or the Awesome Days.  God gave these special days on His calendar to teach us about the future tribulation period on earth.  These seven days will correspond to the seven years of the tribulation, known in Hebrew as the "birthpangs of the Messiah".

Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement is observed on the tenth day of the seventh month. (Leviticus 23:26-32)  Since Rosh HaShanah teaches us about the resurrection of the dead, the coronation of the Messiah and the wedding of the Messiah, and the Days of Awe teach us about the tribulation, Yom Kippur teaches us about the literal Second Coming of the Messiah when He will set His foot down of the Mount of Olives. (Zechariah 14:4) The Feast of Tabernacles is observed the fifteenth day of the seventh month of Tishrei to the twenty first day.  This Festival teaches us the joy of the Messianic Kingdom or the Millennium.

There are four important aspects to remember when dealing with each of the seven Great Festivals of the Lord:

1.  All of the Festivals are, at the same time, both historical and prophetic.
2.  All of the Festivals teach about the Messiah, or Jesus.
3.  All of the Festivals are agricultural in context.
4.  All of the Festivals teach about your personal relationship with God and how you are to walk with Him as you grow in the knowledge of Him, from being a baby believer to a mature believer.

The Meaning of the word "Feast" in the Bible

There are two important Hebrew words that appear in Leviticus, chapter 23, and each word is translated as 'feast' in English.  In verse 2, the word for feast is the Hebrew word 'mo'ed'- "Speak unto the children of Israel, and say unto them, concerning the feasts (mo'ed) of the Lord..."

The word 'mo'ed' means an appointment, a fixed time or season, a cycle or year, an assembly, an appointed time, a set time or exact time.  By understanding the Hebrew meaning of the English word "feast", we can see that God is telling us that He is ordaining a "set time or exact time or anappointed time" when He has an apointment with humanity to fulfill certain events in the redemption.  Jesus came to earth at the exact time ordained by God as Paul wrote in Galations 4:4, and God has an exact time or set appointment when, in the future, He will judge the world as written in Acts 17:31.

In verse 6 is another Hebrew word translated as "feast"- "And on the fifteenth day of the same month is the feast (chag) of unleavened bread..."  The Hebrew word 'chag', which means a "festival", is derived from the Hebrew root word 'chagag', which means to move in a circle, to march in a sacred procession, to celebrate, dance, to hold a solemn feast or holiday.  God gave the Festivals as cycles to be observed yearly so that, by doing them, we can understand God's redemptive plan for the world, the role that the Messiah would play in that redemtion, and our personal relationship to God concerning how we grow from a baby Bible believer to a mature Bible believer.

Three times a year they were to assemble


There are a total of seven Feasts (the divine number for perfection or completeness in the Bible).  God divided the seven Festivals into three major Festival seasons.  The Feast of Passover, Unleavened Bread, and First Fruits are in the Hebrew month of Nisan, which is the first month of God's Religious Calendar in the spring of the year. 

The Feast of Weeks, or Pentecost, is observed in the third month which is the Hebrew month of Sivan.  The Feasts of Trumpets, Atonement, and Tabernacles are observed in the seventh month of Tishrei, which is in the fall of the year.  Three is the number of complete and perfect testimony and witness. (2 Corinthians 13:1, 1 John 5:8)  So the Feasts are a witness  to God's divine plan and the role of Messiah fulfilling that plan.

Understanding the Feasts

In Leviticus 23:2 it is written, "...the feasts of the Lord, which ye shall proclaim to be holy convocations..."  The Hebrew term translated as convocation in Leviticus 23:2,4 is 'miqra', which means "a rehearsal".  God gave the Festivals to be yearly "rehearsals" of the future events in the redemption.  Because God gave the "rehearsals" to teach us about the major events in the redemption, if we want to understand those events, then we need to understand what God was teaching us by these rehearsals.  We will do this in the study as we get into the Feasts themselves.