Festivals, Feasts, and the Rhythms of the Gospel
We use the phrase 'Biblical Calendar' to refer to the timeline of set-apart days and seasons that God gave to Israel in Leviticus 23. These events are commonly referred to as God's feasts or festivals or appointed times. The specific names of these seasons include: Passover (Pesach), Festival of Unleavened Bread, Firstfruits, Pentecost (Shavuot), Day of Trumpets (Yom Teruah or Rosh Hashanah), Day of Atonement (Yom Kippur), and Festival of Shelters or Tabernacles (Sukkot).
The Biblical calendar connects our community's worship to the rhythms of the whole Gospel. Each calendar season presents us with a fresh opportunity to 'feast on Jesus' and get immersed in God's story.
Some people have asked us: 'Have you always followed God's Leviticus 23 calendar?' The short answer is... no.
> For many years we gave little effort to understand Leviticus so we did not realize God had given an annual calendar to His people to memorialise His eternal plan of salvation.
> In 2008 while researching for an Easter message on the resurrection of Jesus Christ we found multiple sources describing how Jesus’ death, burial and resurrection matched the exact days of the first 3 annual memorials given in Leviticus 23. We thought Jesus’ fulfilment of these memorials was exciting and significant information.
> Further investigation confirmed that the 4th annual memorial in the sequence, Pentecost, was also fulfilled on the exact day with the outpouring of the Holy Spirit in Acts 2.
> We also ‘discovered’ the calendar God had established was changed by men at the Council of Nicea in 325AD and we wondered if people have the authority to change God’s commands.
> In 2010, after almost 2 years of investigation we decided to repent (change) and realign our calendar with the one God set to celebrate and tell the Gospel story of what Jesus has done and will do when he returns.
You can read answers to more questions about this topic in the article: 'FAQ about God's Calendar'.
Click the image to view our Biblical Calendar Infographics:
Passover (evening of Nisan 14 on the Hebrew Calendar): Passover foreshadowed Jesus’ death on Calvary for the sins of the world. FULFILLED.
Unleavened Bread (Nisan 15-22): This seven day festival foreshadowed the fact that Jesus’ body would not decay in the grave because He was sinless and perfect. FULFILLED.
Firstfruits (evening of Nisan 16): Foreshadowed the resurrection of Jesus. As the firstfruits from the dead, He is the guarantee of our future resurrection (1 Cor.15:20)! FULFILLED.
Pentecost (or Weeks): 50 days after Firstfruits, this celebration foreshadowed the outpouring of the Holy Spirit on the church. FULFILLED.
Because the Biblical Festivals listed above were fulfilled through Jesus Christ on the very day they occurred, it is reasonable to expect that the next three Festivals will also be fulfilled literally at a future time.
Day of Trumpets (or Rosh Hashanah - Tishri 1): The trumpet blast (blowing of the shofar) has called Israel to solemn assembly and repentance for thousands of years. The New Testament connects the sounding of trumpets to the return of Jesus, leading up to the day of judgement (1 Thes 4:13-18; Rev 11:15).
Day of Atonement (or Yom Kippur - Tishri 10): This is a day of fasting and repentance. The ultimate sacrifice for atonement has been made through the death of Jesus Christ, but the Scriptures point us to a future day of judgement for Israel and all the nations.
Festival of Sukkot: (or Shelters/Tabernacles - Tishri 15-22): The Festival of Sukkot or Shelters speaks of temporary shelters that were to be erected for seven days to remind Israel of her wilderness wanderings en route to the Promised Land. Sukkot connects us to our story as pilgrims who are looking forward to the return of Jesus and the ultimate dwelling of God with people (Rev 21). At New Life we also celebrate the first coming of Jesus in this season, as the historical evidence points to a Sukkot season date of birth.
For more on this subject, see our PDF articles...