Part of Madeline’s curriculum this year was to learn bible history, we made a timeline starting with creation and ending the time line with a question mark, because we do not know when Christ will return. Part of learning bible history was to celebrate Passover, the feast of Unleavened bread, celebrate Jesus’s resurrection, and to learn the bible calendar and compare it to our months of the year here in the states. I had read through our curriculum on it before we began the school year and I began researching it online. What I was finding was how our curriculum lined it out was opposite of how the Jewish calendar actually flows and I learned that the timing of when to start it was important. Celebrating the feasts at a certain point would allow us to see the beautiful picture God has created for us to enjoy. The celebrations start with teaching us about Jesus’s life, his death, and his resurrection. As we continue on in the different feasts it leads us to the story of Jesus’s second coming when he will come and take us home with him to heaven. I didn’t want to start our journey in the middle of the story God was teaching us, so instead of proceeding, we began reading about the timing, we began reading God’s word about what it says about the feasts. Our dear friends sent us a fabulous book called, A Family Guide to the Biblical Holidays by Robin Sampson & Linda Pierce.
As I began reading through the fests and celebrations my head began to swim and I was beginning to get overwhelmed. I began praying that the Lord would bring calmness to my mind and give me a visual picture of what these feasts and celebrations look like. I knew that if they are in the bible, then they are something that God wants us to know and celebrate. If God finds these feasts important then I want to find them important, too. Because, like anything else in my life if God asks me to do it, because I love him, because he has proved faithful to me before, because he loves me greatly, I want to please him and honor him in these ways. I have also found that these feasts and celebrations are for my good because they bring rest, they bring excitement over who God is and the freedom we find in Jesus. I thought when God answered my prayer that he would answer in giving me the vision and peace of how to go about it. However, God answered my prayer and he answered it in the form of sending friends all the way from Israel to come live in our house and walk us through this last week. It was seriously beautiful! God found this process in our life so important he send physical help to walk us through this part of the journey in our lives, amazing! Our friends were able to give us the history behind the feasts and we were able to partake with them the Passover feast, we experienced the feast of Unleavened bread, and we celebrated and cheered on the day when Jesus rose from the grave to set us free.
I have asked my good friend Leanne to give you an overview of last week because she has a beautiful ability to share the historical aspects of the feasts and she can also put into terms the reasons for celebrating as believers in Jesus Christ. The feasts are not only for the Jews, but also for believers in Jesus Christ who have been grafted into the family of believers. Jesus’s death and resurrection grafts us all into one family, thus the feasts, the celebration of the old testament are not only for the Jews, but for all believers. We have been richly blessed to have our friends share such an amazing time with us! God be Praised!
(Leanne) In Exodus, as the people of Israel were preparing to be thrust out of the slavery of Egypt, the Lord started to reorder the Israelites’ life — starting with the year. Exodus 12 begins with the command that THIS month (the month of Aviv, now called Nisan) was to be first month of the year. From the first sighting of the new moon marked by the thumbnail, the people were to count 10 days, and then the head of each household was to bring in a lamb that was to dwell with the family for the next 4 days. On the 14th day of Aviv (at the full moon), the head of the household was to slaughter the lamb and apply its blood to the doorposts of the house. This sign protected the house from the last plague on the land of Egypt, the death of the firstborn son, man and animal. For all who believed (both Israelite and Egyptian) and followed the rule, their sons were spared.
The lamb was killed at twilight and then prepared by roasting to be eaten along with bitter herbs and unleavened bread. This night was a night of watching and waiting for deliverance. The Bible tells us that at midnight the angel of the Lord passed through the land saving those under the protection of the homes with the lamb-substitute and bringing destruction to those whose households remained unprotected. The 15th of Aviv is the start of the seven day observance of the Feast of Unleavened Bread. The Lord commanded the people to not only eat unleavened bread on Passover, but to rid their households of any leaven (yeast) and continue eating unleavened bread for the next seven days. The first day and the seventh day of this feast time the people were to congregate together and worship the Lord. The third feast of the Lord occurs the day after the normal weekly meeting with the Lord, Shabbat (Sabbath). It is the feast of First Fruits . . . in our case it was this past Sunday.
This was an agricultural feast, where the people would bring to the priest a token from the newly ripened harvest and wave it before the Lord as a promise to bring in the tithe at the end of the harvest. In fact, no one in Israel was allowed to eat of the new crop until the wave offering had been given to the Lord. At this time the people would pray for a bountiful harvest and protection. This feast also marked the beginning of the counting of the Omer (or sheaf — because of the wave offering). The people were told that they were to count 7 weeks worth of time until the next feast — or 49 days. Traditionally, this waiting / counting time period is a time of reflection. In the Israelites’ story, it is the time period that Israel traveled from the Red Sea to Mt. Sinai — it was where they learned about the character of God and received promises from Him of protection, provision, and intimacy. This is the time period where the manna dropped, the water gushed from the rock, and the cloud shaded them by day and the fire warmed them by night. It was a wooing, if you will, for the next feast.
On the 50th day after the Feast of First Fruits is the second harvest festival, the one at the end of the harvesting . . . the Feast of Weeks (Shavuot in Hebrew or in English, Pentecost). This is the great Feast that was celebrated in the story of Ruth where she asks Boaz to be her Kinsman Redeemer. In the Israelites’ life this is where they were extended the betrothal contract on Mt. Sinai, enumerating the conditions of God being their God and they in turn being His people (or bride). Even though they broke this covenant before the 2 tablets of stone had time to cool from the finger of God’s writing, it is remembered in this Feast of Weeks. 4,000 years later, a rag-tag group of disciples sat in an upper room, counting the Omer as commanded way back in Exodus, and as their Rabbi Yeshua (Jesus) had told them to, and on the fiftieth day the Holy Spirit came upon them clothing them in power from above, just as they had been promised.
Okay — so that is the 4 Spring feasts of the Lord in a nutshell from the scriptures, but what does it look like today?
No, we didn’t make a lamb a resident of our already busy household, and we didn’t slaughter anything on the 14th of this month (we let the butcher do that) 😉 But we did remember Passover as a memorial, which is what the scriptures say to do. We had a meal together with our friends and retold the story of the ancient Israelites’ leaving Egypt, and we remembered that we too had to escape a place of slavery to sin and death. A lamb had to die for our salvation — the Lamb of God — Jesus/Yeshua our savior. We remembered that with salvation there is always judgment, and that we should never relish the destruction of the wicked, for after all, they too are the creatures of God — and if He doesn’t delight in the destruction of the wicked neither should we. We ate symbolic foods — matzah (unleavened bread) which reminded us that our Lord was without sin, and just like the crackers we ate, bruised and pierced for us. And we had horseradish, so hot that it would make you cry . . . just as our sin and slavery makes us cry at its bitterness. We ate choroset, a sweet mixture of apple, nut, sugar, and sweet wine . . . even in the harshness of slavery we had the promise of deliverance and faithfulness from God. Our tears were not in vain, for the Father was making in us a people prepared for salvation. We sang and worshiped the Lord for His deliverance of His people, which may have begun in Egypt for Israel, but has continued until today for all who believe and come to Him through the blood of His lamb, Jesus the Messiah.
For the Feast of Unleavened Bread we went through the cupboards and threw out the leavened food (or ate it before the feast began), and then we looked forward to more wafer thin matzah (which we never got around to making). You wouldn’t believe that you could go through withdrawal from yeasted products, but our household was dreaming of donuts and pizza about half-way through. Matzah is called the bread of affliction for a reason. The people of Israel were fleeing Egypt with Pharoah’s army on their heels at this point. Following the Lord — even if He has worked a great miracle in your midst, is not always an easy thing to do. But the denial of self, of ease, brings — the fleeing from Egypt — and with it a reliance on the Lord, for the next stage of the journey . . . the splitting of the Red Sea. In the same manner when we received salvation, we could not continue in the ways of our spiritual Egypt, we had to flee them, until the Lord brought us through the baptism of the Red Sea, utterly swallowing up our foes, and bringing us from a place of slavery, to freedmen and women under His banner, His leadership. We have a change of status when the Lord redeemed us . . . we were brought into a better place — as sons and daughters of the King.
In the midst of the Feast of Unleavened Bread, we celebrated the Feast of First Fruits. While primarily an agricultural feast to the ancient Israelites, it grew in importance to the followers of Jesus. During His ministry on earth, Jesus proclaimed the Kingdom of God to be near, and that the people were to turn from their sinful ways — leaving a spiritual Egypt, for the kingdom of God. In the height of His ministry, the people of His own household killed Him as the Passover lamb and laid him in a tomb for 3 days and 3 nights. After this time in the earth, the Father raised Jesus/Yeshua up. Mary found Him early in the morning, before the sun had risen on the first day of the week . . . that day was the Feast of First Fruits. Jesus told Mary not to grab ahold of Him because He had not yet gone to the Father. He had not fulfilled the Feast of First Fruits, as the promise of the harvest of those risen from the dead. Indeed Paul says later in his first letter to the Corinthians that Yeshua was the firstborn from the dead. The promise is that there will be many more disciples who too will be raised from spiritual death to spiritual life — and eventually from physical death to life incorruptible. Hallelluyah!
This year Easter fell on the Feast of First Fruits. This is an unusual occurrence since the Gregorian calendar and Hebrew calendar rarely match up, but it was great for our worship with friends and family, as we remembered specifically the resurrection of the Lord Jesus which brings with it redemption. No resurrection — no new life. We’d be saved from death, but still slaves on the run. Redemption doesn’t occur till the Lord swallows up your enemies, making them no more. Redeemed how I love to proclaim it. It is the power of the Resurrection that brings us the promise of life abundant.
Today is the end of the Feast of Unleavened Bread, which means tomorrow we’ll be celebrating with donuts. Yes, celebrating. You see, eating the Bread of Affliction for a week is tough, not bad, but tough. Spiritually speaking, we struggled emotionally, physically, even spiritually this week as the Lord worked stuff out of our lives. The working out is not bad, but it isn’t pleasant either. But if the refining process isn’t bad, then why not eat the bread of affliction all the time? Why didn’t God put the people of Israel on an eternal fast from leaven? Well, in Egypt, the yeast (which would have been traditional sourdough) is the product of the teaching of Egypt (flour) mixed with the spirit of Egypt (water), in the atmosphere of Egypt (bacteria in the air). As the people moved farther away from Egypt, the atmosphere changed (because God became their shade by day and their fire by night), and their flour from Egypt ran out (thus the need for manna, which the Bible identifies as Yeshua, the Bread of Heaven and the living Word of God or Instruction), and their water ran out (but God brought them water from a rock, that followed them — see Hebrews which connects this to the Spirit of Jesus) . . . so the yeasted bread they made in the wilderness was start to finish NEW bread, rightly developed under the protection of God through the pre-incarnate Messiah.
This wilderness time period between Egypt and Mt. Sinai is the time of learning about God and His ways and His character. This is the time period of the Counting of the Omer, and it is the time period we are in right now. So we too, are remembering how many days it has been since the Feast of First Fruits/Resurrection of Messiah. We are anticipating that the Lord will teach us during this time period more of Himself, and show us His provision, protection, and love through increased spiritual intimacy with Him.
(Back to Robin ) I pray that you, like us, were blessed by the glimpse Leanne gave into our week. I pray that you, like us, have found the peace that Jesus, the lamb that was slain has given both the Talshahar’s and us the Russell’s. I pray that if you have not found Jesus’s peace that you would turn to him. There is none like Him! Shalom!