Suppose you had a dear father who threw seven parties a year and invited you to each one. These are very important occasions for him and he has done a great deal to prepare for them and make them memorable.
However, you never show up.
Each time one of those special events comes around, your father can scan the crowd and know that he will not see your face.
Then, his next-door neighbor decides to throw a big party, and that neighbor declares it bigger and better than any your father has thrown. It’s so much better, he says, that going to his one party will be better than going to all of your father’s parties combined.
Your father looks out his window and sees you pulling up in the neighbor’s driveway.
How must it feel for him?
I didn’t know about God’s appointed times until much later in my life because I had never read the Bible through for myself. I mistakenly believed they were for other people because that is what I had always been told. However, when I read the Father call them “My feasts” and “My appointed times,” I realized that these were set apart and important to Him, and if they are important to Him, they should be important to me.
Lest anyone reading this feel defensive right now, I want you to know that this post isn’t about bashing any of man’s holidays. I just think we need to make sure we are obeying God first and treating man’s instructions as an afterthought, not the other way around.
This article is meant purely as an introduction to the biblical feasts. I’m not going to detail all of the riches and blessings that these feasts hold for us. There are so many references to the feasts, instructions directly from YHWH regarding how to observe them, and examples of people keeping the feasts throughout the Bible that it is impossible for me to share them all in this short article. Further, in writing this, I am not seeking to present myself as an authority on keeping biblical feasts. We are still learning ourselves, and we get better at it each year.
The only authority on YHWH’s appointed times is YHWH, and we should look to Him in all things. So in this article, I’m going to try to answer a few significant questions and then leave you to search out the rest — in His word. I encourage you not to give His authority to anyone else, especially if that person or entity encourages you to go against the Father.
Let’s dig deeper:
- Whose feasts are these?
- Should we keep them?
- Were they ever done away with or abolished?
Again, my hope in this article is to simply get you started on understanding the feasts and point you in the direction (biblically) of where to get more information. Note: We blanketly call them “biblical feasts,” but they are actually appointed times (moedim), and not all of them involve feasting. In short, all feasts are appointed times, but not all appointed times are feasts.
It is our responsibility, as believers and followers of the One True God, to know His Word. We are then held accountable based on how we treat His word in our lives and what we choose to do with that knowledge. Tragically, when most believers today see the Father’s words telling us to do something, they look around to see if other believers are doing it first. If they don’t see others doing it en masse, they dismiss the Father’s word. I lived like that until a few years ago, so I do have compassion for anyone in that predicament and passion for anyone seeking to make a change and return to Him.
Still, I’ve struggled with this article because I wanted to be helpful, but at the same time, all we need to know regarding the feasts is already written in God’s word, spoken by His voice in Scripture. While there are countless man-made traditions with regards to some of these, the knowledge we must have to get started is written in the Word, and any additional desired knowledge regarding traditions can easily be found with a little research. If someone wants to celebrate the feasts, they don’t need me to explain what they are or how to do so. They will find a way. However, in the hopes of being helpful, I am writing this in response to requests from friends and fellowship family members who have asked.
Whose feasts are these, and should we keep them?
You see, YHWH (God) made an appointment with His people…
What is an appointed time?
In total, there are 8 appointed times of YHWH (God), also referred to as “moedim,” which literally means “appointed times.” You’ll recall in Leviticus 23 that He introduces His feasts by declaring, “These are *MY* appointed feasts…” They do not belong to a certain people or denomination, but rather to the Father. Unfortunately, many have been taught that these feasts belong solely to our Jewish brethren, and, having not read the Words of our Father or having not placed faith or trust in His words, some are susceptible to believing this errant teaching. However, YHWH declares that they belong to Him. They are His special times, and when something is important to Him, it should be important to those who love Him.
YHWH, in His wisdom and grace, set up His feasts as learning tools to be a tremendous blessing to help us grow deeper in our faith. And really, it’s also a pretty sweet deal to have seven sacred times each year (the eighth moedim is one we get to keep weekly)!
- teaches us about our history.
- helps us to understand the character of YHWH on a deeper level.
- foreshadows our Messiah.
- prepares us for the kingdom that is to come—a kingdom in which YHWH tells us the feasts will still be celebrated.
There are so many layers of learning in the feasts. Each year we keep them, we learn more about the Father, His ways, and what is to come. Not surprisingly, keeping the feasts does take practice. Keep in mind that we were meant to celebrate these throughout our lives and throughout our generations, with our grandparents teaching our parents and them in turn teaching us.
Imagine some of the customs of our elaborate, man-made holidays and how difficult or overwhelming it may seem to someone who has no history with them to try to learn them all at once. Fortunately, YHWH’s appointed times were set up with far greater wisdom than we could ever devise. And so, rather than fret as we take our first toddling steps into observing these holy days, we know that He will show us grace and give us wisdom as we seek to honor Him through our obedience in keeping His appointed times.
I want to assure you that there is a distinct and significant (eternally so) difference between a holy day and a holiday. Celebrating a holiday can add a little fun and respite for a day or so. Keeping God’s holy days will change every aspect of your spiritual life—forever.
Are the biblical feasts Jewish?
Many say that these feasts are Jewish feasts, but it is important to give YHWH’s word the proper authority in our lives and allow what He says to have authority in the matter—especially considering that He is the originator of the feasts. Read the following verses and see whose feasts God says they are.
Leviticus 23 (ESV)
23 The Lord spoke to Moses, saying, 2 “Speak to the people of Israel and say to them, These are the appointed feasts of the Lord that you shall proclaim as holy convocations; they are my appointed feasts.
3 “Six days shall work be done, but on the seventh day is a Sabbath of solemn rest, a holy convocation. You shall do no work. It is a Sabbath to the Lord in all your dwelling places.
4 “These are the appointed feasts of the Lord, the holy convocations, which you shall proclaim at the time appointed for them. 5 In the first month, on the fourteenth day of the month at twilight, is the Lord’s Passover.
(There are two feasts back-to-back at Passover, so this verse continues to list the second, the Feast of Unleavened Bread.)
6 And on the fifteenth day of the same month is the Feast of Unleavened Bread to the Lord; for seven days you shall eat unleavened bread. 7 On the first day you shall have a holy convocation; you shall not do any ordinary work. 8 But you shall present a food offering to the Lord for seven days. On the seventh day is a holy convocation; you shall not do any ordinary work.”
The Feast of Firstfruits
9 And the Lord spoke to Moses, saying, 10 “Speak to the people of Israel and say to them, When you come into the land that I give you and reap its harvest, you shall bring the sheaf of the firstfruits of your harvest to the priest, 11 and he shall wave the sheaf before the Lord, so that you may be accepted. On the day after the Sabbath the priest shall wave it. 12 And on the day when you wave the sheaf, you shall offer a male lamb a year old without blemish as a burnt offering to the Lord. 13 And the grain offering with it shall be two tenths of an ephah of fine flour mixed with oil, a food offering to the Lord with a pleasing aroma, and the drink offering with it shall be of wine, a fourth of a hin. 14 And you shall eat neither bread nor grain parched or fresh until this same day, until you have brought the offering of your God: it is a statute forever throughout your generations in all your dwellings.
The Feast of Weeks
15 “You shall count seven full weeks from the day after the Sabbath, from the day that you brought the sheaf of the wave offering. 16 You shall count fifty days to the day after the seventh Sabbath. Then you shall present a grain offering of new grain to the Lord. 17 You shall bring from your dwelling places two loaves of bread to be waved, made of two tenths of an ephah. They shall be of fine flour, and they shall be baked with leaven, as firstfruits to the Lord. 18 And you shall present with the bread seven lambs a year old without blemish, and one bull from the herd and two rams. They shall be a burnt offering to the Lord, with their grain offering and their drink offerings, a food offering with a pleasing aroma to the Lord. 19 And you shall offer one male goat for a sin offering, and two male lambs a year old as a sacrifice of peace offerings. 20 And the priest shall wave them with the bread of the firstfruits as a wave offering before the Lord, with the two lambs. They shall be holy to the Lord for the priest. 21 And you shall make a proclamation on the same day. You shall hold a holy convocation. You shall not do any ordinary work. It is a statute forever in all your dwelling places throughout your generations.
22 “And when you reap the harvest of your land, you shall not reap your field right up to its edge, nor shall you gather the gleanings after your harvest. You shall leave them for the poor and for the sojourner: I am the Lord your God.”
The Feast of Trumpets
23 And the Lord spoke to Moses, saying, 24 “Speak to the people of Israel, saying, In the seventh month, on the first day of the month, you shall observe a day of solemn rest, a memorial proclaimed with blast of trumpets, a holy convocation. 25 You shall not do any ordinary work, and you shall present a food offering to the Lord.”
The Day of Atonement
26 And the Lord spoke to Moses, saying, 27 “Now on the tenth day of this seventh month is the Day of Atonement. It shall be for you a time of holy convocation, and you shall afflict yourselves and present a food offering to the Lord. 28 And you shall not do any work on that very day, for it is a Day of Atonement, to make atonement for you before the Lord your God. 29 For whoever is not afflicted on that very day shall be cut off from his people. 30 And whoever does any work on that very day, that person I will destroy from among his people. 31 You shall not do any work. It is a statute forever throughout your generations in all your dwelling places. 32 It shall be to you a Sabbath of solemn rest, and you shall afflict yourselves. On the ninth day of the month beginning at evening, from evening to evening shall you keep your Sabbath.”
The Feast of Booths
33 And the Lord spoke to Moses, saying, 34 “Speak to the people of Israel, saying, On the fifteenth day of this seventh month and for seven days is the Feast of Booths to the Lord. 35 On the first day shall be a holy convocation; you shall not do any ordinary work. 36 For seven days you shall present food offerings to the Lord. On the eighth day you shall hold a holy convocation and present a food offering to the Lord. It is a solemn assembly; you shall not do any ordinary work.
37 “These are the appointed feasts of the Lord, which you shall proclaim as times of holy convocation, for presenting to the Lord food offerings, burnt offerings and grain offerings, sacrifices and drink offerings, each on its proper day, 38 besides the Lord’s Sabbaths and besides your gifts and besides all your vow offerings and besides all your freewill offerings, which you give to the Lord.
39 “On the fifteenth day of the seventh month, when you have gathered in the produce of the land, you shall celebrate the feast of the Lord seven days. On the first day shall be a solemn rest, and on the eighth day shall be a solemn rest. 40 And you shall take on the first day the fruit of splendid trees, branches of palm trees and boughs of leafy trees and willows of the brook, and you shall rejoice before the Lord your God seven days. 41 You shall celebrate it as a feast to the Lord for seven days in the year. It is a statute forever throughout your generations; you shall celebrate it in the seventh month. 42 You shall dwell in booths for seven days. All native Israelites shall dwell in booths, 43 that your generations may know that I made the people of Israel dwell in booths when I brought them out of the land of Egypt: I am the Lord your God.”
44 Thus Moses declared to the people of Israel the appointed feasts of the Lord.
These are the eight appointed times, as declared by YHWH. The instructions for the feasts are given in Leviticus 23. One of these takes place weekly on the Sabbath: the Fourth Commandment, Deuteronomy 5:12–15.
The remaining appointed times can be divided up into spring feasts and fall feasts. Each feast is set up as a learning tool in order to help us know and understand the history of our Father and His people.
But did you know that each feast also foretells of our Messiah? The spring feasts foretold events at His first coming (prophecy fulfilled), and the fall feasts foretell events at His second coming.
Living outside of Jerusalem (in the Diaspora) and without a temple and the Biblical priesthood, we cannot fully keep the feasts. We can keep them to the best of our ability, though, in preparation for Messiah’s return, when God tells us that we will keep them fully with Him. (Zech 14:16) Yes, the Bible tells us that we will also be keeping these feasts when Messiah returns! That is pretty eye-opening.
Were they done away with?
There is nowhere in the Bible where God did away with, annulled, or released His people from keeping His feasts.
“You shall keep it as a feast to the LORD for seven days in the year. It shall be a statute forever in your generations.” (Lev 23:41)
When YHWH said “forever”, do you think He knew what it meant? Since we often treat His word as if He didn’t understand what He was saying (in the case of His appointed times and others), we need to consider this a serious question that each of us must think over and answer.
Did God change His mind?
While there is no passage in the Bible that abolishes the feasts, there are records of the Messiah keeping them and the apostles keeping them long after Messiah’s ascension. There is also this verse:
“For I, YHWH, do not change.” (Mal 3:6)
Okay, but what about sacrifices?
The easy answer to this is “Messiah was the ultimate sacrifice.” There is a lot more to it than that, but I’m just going to let the simplest answer stand, as that serves our purpose for this period in history and this post.
“But that was an Old Testament thing; we’re under the New Testament now.”
If you are a believer and find yourself agreeing with that sentence, I strongly encourage you to join us in reading the whole Bible. As a believer, it is imperative that you dedicate yourself to reading the whole Word of YHWH and seriously consider giving His word authority in your life. Until then, you’ll find some helpful verses to look up below.
Feast Observance in the Gospels and the Letters (New Testament):
- Passover: Luke 2:41; Matthew 26:17-29; Mark 14:12-25; 1 Corinthians 5:7
- Unleavened Bread: Acts 20:5; 1 Corinthians 5:8
- Shavuot (Pentecost): Acts 2:1; Acts 20:16; 1 Cor 16:8
- Day of Atonement: Acts 27:9
- Tabernacles (Sukkot): John 7:2-37
- You’ll find passages about Sabbath observance from Genesis to Revelation.
For further information on the Appointed Times of our Father, read Genesis 1 through the end of Revelation. If you’d like a excellent book that explains the Biblical feasts, click here to see one I recommend, the introduction alone changed my life eternally.
In closing, I’m sharing a post I wrote on Facebook a year or so ago, and I think it sums it up pretty well:
We don’t make a big enough deal about God’s holy days. He has these seven appointed times that He declared to be His, not for certain people but for Him. They are important to Him, so they should be important to us. We’ve celebrated His appointed times for a couple of years now, and I haven’t been really vocal about them on social media, and yet I see believers posting all day long about man-made holidays. This post is not to criticize that but to point out that if the holidays we come up with on our own are worth posting about, how much more so are the holy days that belong to the Father whom we claim to serve, worship, and live for? So the next time one of His holy days rolls around, let us pull out all the stops. When you love someone, the things that are important to them become important to you, and I surely do love my Creator.
I read somewhere that there are those who consider the feasts to be bondage. The only time I can see spending a special holy day honoring your Father as bondage is if you don’t truly feel love for your Father. They are gifts, but it is up to us to decide if we are going to open them.
And another comment from our Facebook group that caught my eye:
Kendra Z: “Good morning everyone! I am very intrigued with Yom Kippur now. I was in a class at work yesterday for our annual harassment class. The topic of religious rights came up and how reasonable accommodations had to be made for religious holidays. They brought up Yom Kippur, and I didn’t think anything of it “because I’m not Jewish.” I’ve been trained that certain holy days go with certain religions. And now I’m learning that because I’m one of those stars in the sky, this applies to me too [see near the end of this teaching for her reference]. It’s like I’m finally using my full membership. I think I’ve been missing out. So excited to be part of this group.”
“From the days of your fathers you have turned aside from my decrees and have not kept them.
Return to me, and I will return to you, says the LORD.”
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More Posts about Feasts
- Keeping Sabbath Holy (What that looks like)
- Passover in Our Home
- Passover Hub on Seeking Scripture (Special Passover video and other resources)
- The Fall Feasts Are Coming: An Overview
- How To Observe Trumpets
- The Fall Feasts Are Coming: Day Of Trumpets
- 5 Fun Ways To Observe Trumpets
- The Fall Feasts Are Coming: Day Of Atonement
- If I’d Only Fasted During The Day Of Atonement I Would Have Missed The Point
- Affliction Through Reflection: My Day Of Atonement Story
- Yes, You Can Keep Sukkot!
- The Fall Feasts Are Coming Part 1
- The Fall Feasts Are Coming Part 2
- The Fall Feasts Are Coming Part 2