Saturday, May 23, 2009

The Festivals of God - Pt. 5 Firstfruits & Pentecost

The Festival of Firstfruits

The second festival is tied to Passover in that the Passover meal is eaten at the beginning of the day of the Festival of Unleavened Bread, which is a week long festival. The first day (15th) and the last day (21st) are Sabbath days in that no work is to be done on them. According to Lev. 23:5-8, they were also to offer sacrifices every day during the week.

This second festival after the Passover, within the week of Unleavened Bread is the Feast of Firstfruits. Lev. 23:4-14. The week of the Festival of Unleavened Bread has at least two Sabbaths, the 15th and the 21st, but it also has a regular Saturday Sabbath (which could conceivably fall on either the 15th or the 21st, but doesn’t have to). On the day (Sunday) following the normal weekly Sabbath (Saturday) during the week of the Festival of Unleavened Bread, they were to offer a sheaf of the first fruits of their grain harvest as a wave offering to the Lord. They were also to offer a lamb as a burnt offering as well as other offerings. This Firstfruits was always on the Sunday following Passover. Christ rose from the grave on the same day as the Festival of the Firstfruits, and he was the first fruit of the resurrection. 1 Cor. 15:20-23. This festival also commemorates the crossing of the Red Sea, when the people went down into the depths of the water and came out the other side a free people. When Moses made the deal with Pharaoh, it was to go into the desert for three days to make a sacrifice unto the Lord. Pharaoh owned the Israelites, as they were his slaves. The deal struck with Pharaoh was broken by his going after them and the Red Sea incident occurred, freeing them from Pharaoh’s rule. Tradition says that the crossing of the Red Sea took place on a Sunday, which knowing God’s predilection for patterns would make sense. They would be the first fruits of the newly freed Israelites having gone in as slaves and coming out the other side free. There would have been three days that passed going from the bondage of Egypt to freedom, (the 14th to the 17th) just as Christ was three days in the grave. Another use of the day was to compare it to the civil calendar. Knowing some things we can make some deductions. 1) Red Sea incident took place on the 17th (the Passover was on the 14th and they were three days into their journey) and it was a Sunday (according to tradition that is, it didn't necessarily have to be a Sunday). 2) the Passover takes place on the 14th, and if the Feast of Firstfruits on which Christ arose did take place on the 17th (it doesn't have to, but He was 3 days and nights in the grave so that would seem to make it the 17th) it would be the same day as the Exodus. The crossing didn't have to be on a Sunday, but it did have to be three days after. The festival of firstfruits doesn't have to be on the 17th, but it does have to be on a Sunday. God made these two events happen with the same timing. Another connection is found within the civil calendar. According to Genesis 8:4, the ark rested on the 17th day of the 7th month. The seventh month of the civil calendar is the 1st month of the religious calendar. The ark came to rest on Mt. Ararat on the same day that the Israelites gained their freedom or "rest" from slavery, and Christ arose and entered into the “rest” from his work on earth. (Remember when we were covering Noah’s flood that I said those dates were important?) There is a reason for God to use the same dates over and over. He is trying to use patterns to help people understand (especially to understand) and remember. He wants us to see the connection so that we make the connection for future prophecies (about the Second Coming).

The last festival of spring is that of the Feast of Weeks, otherwise known as Pentecost, (because it is 50 days after the Festival of Firstfruits), or Shavuot. Lev. 23:15-21. On this day, they were to offer sacrifices of all kinds. It was a thanksgiving of the first (or spring) harvest. It was also a Sabbath day. According to tradition, this was the day after the exodus that the congregation presented itself before God at Mr. Sinai and he handed down the commandments. Ex. 19. Traditions also say that the thundering that the Israelites heard were not only the commandments given in Hebrew, but in the languages of the seventy nations for all man to hear. It is interesting that the Jewish tradition would say that given what happens in Acts 2, since they don’t believe in the New Testament teachings. Tradition also says that a ram's horn was sounded to call the people at the giving of the Law. This was the first trump sounded for God's people. The second horn of this ram is supposed to be sounded at Rosh HaShanah at the end of the age. This is the last trump to call God's people. Pentecost was also the day that the Holy Spirit would descend after Christ’s resurrection and speak in many different tongues through the disciples. (The first or spring harvest as many people came to the Lord that day). It was the birth of Judaism when God gave the Law, and it was the birth of the Church when God gave the Holy Spirit, both on the same day.

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