The seven Jewish feasts that were ordained by God and given to Moses in Leviticus 23 have an order to them, a flow of continuity in a chronological manner. This is the pattern evidenced in the fulfillment of the first four feasts. Order and consistency has been the hallmark of God’s plan for the ages, not a haphazard, after-thought and mish-mash of events. He is sovereign; He knows the beginning from the end and orderliness is characteristic of His plans.
For review, the seven feasts are: Feast of Passover; Feast of Unleavened Bread; Feast of First Fruits; Feast of Weeks (Pentecost); Feast of Trumpets; Feast of Atonement; and Feast of Tabernacles.
Passover, however, was introduced at the time of the Exodus and later combined with the other six feasts. The seven feasts appear to highlight the redemptive ministry of Jesus Christ in the world, from the cross to His second coming. Colossians 2:16-17 tells us that the feasts are shadows of things to come, but “the body is of Christ”. So the feasts are commemorations of future events to be fulfilled, and we can readily see that in the fulfillment of the first four. And, as well, it identifies them with the person and ministry of Christ; they are not unrelated or isolated occasions of religious practice.
Christ was the Passover lamb, was buried (pictured by the nature of unleavened bread), and rose again the third day as the first fruits of the resurrection. Fifty days later, at Pentecost, the Hold Spirit came upon the little band of believers, indwelling them, just as Jesus had promised the disciples in John 14:17, “He dwells with you and will bein you”.
My argument is that there is one fulfillment for each feast, and they come about in the order they were given. For example, the next feast to be fulfilled in order is the Feast of Trumpets and it’s certainly no accident that the descriptive details of that festive activity are highlighted in Paul’s description of the rapture in I Thessalonians 4:16-17. The parallel is too apparent to conclude otherwise.
This next feast has been ignored or given little significance in the plan of God, or plugged in at the time of the Second Coming of Christ all too often. I suspect that the reluctance to give it a proper position in the scheme of end-time events has a lot to do with a fear of being labeled a “date-setter” because it pinpoints the rapture to a certain time-frame. And that is a valid concern, but certainly no excuse for avoiding a straight-forward consideration of the teaching of scripture. Jesus did tell us to “watch, for you know not what hour your Lord comes”, and we are certainly pressing toward that hour.
If one is ready for Jesus to come, it will not matter a lot if he does not know the day or the hour. I suppose Enoch, who “walked with God, and he was not, for God took him” (Genesis 5:24) was not aware of what God was about to do, but he was totally engrossed in who he was with. That is our challenge today.
I have thought some on the way a shadow performs in the sunlight. Our bodies cast a shadow as the sun shines on us, and as the day progresses the shadow becomes shorter and shorter, until a high noon, we are standing on top of our shadow. In a sense we have fulfilled the pronouncement of our shadow. The Colossians 2:16-17 identity of the feasts as shadows of the Christ who is to come, or the things having to do with Him, works out the same way. One day soon the fulfillment of the Feast of Trumpets will turn its shadow into reality.
The issue of “the day and the hour” is no simple calculation. We have established time zones and an international date line that puts some locations in a different day than others. We have daylight saving time to further confuse the issue. And, more confusing is this—my daughter lives in the Denver, Colorado, area, and I am in southern Idaho. Both are in the Mountain Time Zone, yet we were talking on the phone once and she remarked that it was dark there, while I noted that we still had sunlight in Idaho. Over the time zones to Israel, the time here in Idaho would be nine hours later(I think). Only God can figure this out, so I choose to let Him do it!
The last two feasts portray the fulfillment of two final events in Jesus’ redemptive ministry, that of the Jews’ acceptance of Jesus as their true Messiah and true atonement (the Feast of Atonement) part-way into the “time of Jacob’s trouble”, the seven-year tribulation period. And, finally, the Feast of Tabernacles, which pictures the Lord coming to dwell with His people, which He will do at His second coming to the earth.