Should Christians celebrate the Jewish feasts? Actually, they aren’t Jewish feasts at all – they are God’s feasts.
“The LORD’S appointed times which you shall proclaim as holy convocations–My appointed times are these” (Leviticus 23:2).
Sadly, these are not the times that most Christians observe. The Bible never says anything about celebrating Christmas or Easter. In fact, many of the things people do during these holidays is derived from pagan practices that God explicitly forbids.
So what holidays should we be celebrating? You will actually find all of them listed in Leviticus chapter 23, right after the verse listed above that says, “My appointed times are these:”
Here is a brief summary.
14th day of the first month
Pesach (Passover) commemorates the deliverance of the people of Israel from slavery in Egypt. You can read the story of Passover in Exodus 12. Yeshua (Jesus) celebrated Passover with his disciples on the night before his crucifixion. It was there he took the wine and unleavened bread, called them symbols of his blood and body, and told them to observe this feast in remembrance of his death. You can read the story of Yeshua’s final Passover in Luke 22.
15th day of the first month for seven days
Chag Matzot (the Feast of Unleavened Bread) immediately follows the evening of Passover. This is the beginning of the Spring Feasts. It is a reminder that the Israelites left Egypt in a hurry, before their bread had time to rise. The annual memorial for this is also described in Exodus 12. Each year at this time, we are to throw out the old yeast (think of sourdough starter) and begin a new batch after the seven day feast. Paul reminds us in 1 Corinthians 5 that as a new creation we should throw out the old leaven and become like a fresh batch of dough.
The first and last days of Unleavened Bread are annual Sabbath days in which we do not work.
Day after the Sabbath of Unleavened Bread
This day follows either the annual Sabbath of the first day of Unleavened Bread or the weekly Sabbath that falls during the feast (there is not clear instruction in Scripture, so there is disagreement). On this day the Priest would wave a sheaf of the first of the barley harvest as an offering to God. This foreshadows Yeshua, the first fruits of the resurrection (1 Corinthians 15:20), ascending to the Father.
Seven weeks after First Fruits
Shavuot (Pentecost) is at the end of a 50-day count beginning on the day of First Fruits. Because the exact day of First Fruits is debated, so is the date of Shavuot. Shavuot is the offering of the first fruits of the wheat harvest. It is also believed to be the day the Torah, specifically the Ten Commandments, was given at Mount Sinai. This is also the day the Holy Spirit was poured out as described in Acts 2. You may be surprised that the Bible does not say this was a Sunday.
Shavuot is one of the seven annual Sabbath days in which we do not work.
1st day of the seventh month
Yom Teruah (the Day of Shouting), often called the Feast of Trumpets, begins the season of the Fall Feasts. The first ten days of the seventh month are traditionally known as the Days of Awe, a time of repentance leading up to Yom Kippur. While the Spring Feasts are generally understood as prophetic of Yeshua’s first coming, the Fall Feasts are prophetic of his second coming. This begins with the blowing of the shofar (ram’s horn) or trumpet (1 Thessalonians 4:16).
Yom Teruah is one of the seven annual Sabbath days in which we do not work.
10th day of the seventh month
Yom Kippur (the Day of Atonement) is the most solemn day of the year. On this day, the High Priest entered the Holy Place to make atonement with the blood of an animal upon the altar of incense for the sins of the people. The book of Hebrews describes in detail how Yeshua, our High Priest, makes atonement with his own blood for us. Yom Kippur is a to humble ourselves (Leviticus 16:29-31). On this day, from sundown the previous day until sundown of this day, to “humble yourself” is traditionally understood as fasting (Acts 27:9).
Yom Kippur is one of the seven annual Sabbath days in which we do not work.
Sukkot and Shemini Atzeret
15th day of the seventh month for eight days
Sukkot (the Feast of Tabernacles) commemorates the journey of the children of Israel through the wilderness on the way to the Promised Land. Many believe Yeshua was born during the Feast of Tabernacles, when the Word became flesh and tabernacled among us (John 1:14) Israelites were instructed to dwell in temporary shelters (sukkot) as a reminder that their ancestors lived in temporary shelters in the wilderness. Likewise Sukkot reminds us that we are temporary residents of this world that will pass away. Sukkot is also known as the Season of our Joy, and we are instructed to rejoice during this time (Leviticus 23:40). Some believe this to be prophetic of the millennial reign of the Messiah. Shemini Atzeret (the Eight Day of Assembly) is a connected but separate observance. The Eighth Day is representative of eternity following the millennial reign, when God tabernacles with man (Revelation 21:3).
The first day of Sukkot and Shemini Atzeret are annual Sabbath days in which we do not work.