The 7 Prophetic Feasts of Israel


By Rick Brunson

In the Old Testament, the Lord instituted seven feasts that He expected the children of Israel to celebrate every year.  The Lord went into great detail as to what exactly He wanted the children of Israel to do on each of these seven feast days; and He was very specific.  What is incredible is that each of these seven feasts were prophetic of future events.

The first three of these seven feasts were celebrated in the Spring, and were prophetic of Christ's first coming.  The last three feasts of Israel were celebrated in the Fall and were prophetic of Christ's second coming.  We begin with Passover, the first of these seven feasts.   

Passover

Passover, as we all know, was meant to teach of our Savior.  The Lamb that was slain was done in similitude of Christ’s sacrifice.  In fact, this is where the term "Lamb of God" comes from.[1]  It is a very Jewish term and has reference to the Passover.  But what is interesting about the Passover is that not only did it teach of Christ’s sacrifice, but Christ was sacrificed ON Passover.  So it was very prophetic in that sense.  

Here are a few ways in which Passover pointed to the sacrifice of the Savior: 

  • The lamb that was slain for the Passover had to be perfect, or without blemish.[2]  Speaking of Christ, the Apostle Peter said,
...ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold...But with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot (1 Pet. 1:18-19)
Passover Lamb LDS
"A Lamb Without Blemish and Without Spot"
  •  During the Passover, the Lord instructed Israel that when killing the lamb, not one of the lambs bones were to be broken.[3]  Similarly, we read in the New Testament, 
The Jews therefore, because it was the preparation, that the bodies should not remain upon the cross on the sabbath day...besought Pilate that their legs might be broken, and that they might be taken away.  Then came the soldiers, and brake the legs of the first, and of the other which was crucified with [Jesus].  But when they came to Jesus, and saw that he was dead already, they brake not his legs:  But one of the soldiers with a spear pierced his side, and forthwith came there out blood and water...these things were done, that the scripture should be fulfilled, A bone of him shall not be broken.  (1 John 19:31-36)

  • During the Passover, those outside the covenant[4] were not allowed to partake of the lamb.[5]  Similarly, those who are unworthy are also forbidden to partake of Christ's flesh and blood during the sacrament.  The Lord said,
... whoso eateth and drinketh my flesh and blood unworthily eateth and drinketh damnation to his soul; therefore if ye know that a man is unworthy to eat and drink of my flesh and blood ye shall forbid him. (3 Ne 18:28-29)

  • After the Passover, those who applied the blood of the Lamb on their doorposts were saved by the destroying angel.[6]  Similarly, those who apply the blood of the Lamb in their lives will also be saved from Satan's destruction.[7]  Of this Joseph Fielding McConkie wrote,

Passover doorposts LDSPerhaps of greatest significance is the fact that the sacrifice of the lamb alone did not bring protection from the destroying angel.  Safety was promised only to those who properly marked the door of their homes with the blood of the lamb.  The symbol is eloquent - all may be saved through the atonement of Christ, if they obey the laws and ordinances of the gospel.[8]

  • The day following Passover, Pharaoh declared liberty to the captive Israelites and they were freed from bondage.[9]  Similarly, the day following the crucifixion, Christ was proclaiming liberty to the captives in the spirit world.[10]  Shortly after, many were freed from the bondage of death and were resurrected.[11]   

As we can see, the events associated with the Passover were very symbolic of the future sacrifice of Jesus Christ.  But Passover was more than just symbolic, it was prophetic: Jesus was crucified on Passover.  On that very day!

The Feast of Unleavened Bread

The second feast the Lord instituted was the Feast of Unleavened Bread.  It began on the day following Passover.[12]  During this feast, for seven days, the children of Israel were not to eat of any leavened bread.[13]
 
Unleavened Bread LDS
Unleavened Bread

Leaven was symbolic of sin.  It caused bread to rise by puffing it up.  This is why Jesus warned his disciples to "beware of the leaven of the Pharisees".[14]  Symbolically speaking, by eating only unleavened bread on this feast day, the Israelites were effectively not partaking of sin.  Since the Feast of Unleavened Bread occurred the day after Passover, it is easy to see how Christ fulfilled this feast as well; for because an Atonement had been made, the world could now be free of sin. Here again we find Jesus fulfilling another of these seven feasts that testified of him.


In addition to this interpretation, there is at least one other way in which Christ could have fulfilled this feast.  During this Feast of Unleavened Bread, the Israelites were instructed to rid their house of all leaven.  At the beginning of his ministry, Jesus cleansed his Father's house of all the unrighteous money changers at the time of Passover.[15]  

The Feasts of First Fruits

Firstfruits of them that slept LDS
"The Firstfruits of them that Slept"

The Apostle Paul called Jesus “the firstfruits of them that slept.”[16]  What most of us do not realize is that this phrase actually has reference to the third of these seven feasts, the Feast of Firstfruits. 

Just like the Passover was meant to teach the children of Israel all about the sacrifice of the Savior, this Feast of Firstfruits was meant to teach the children Israel all about Christ’s resurrection.  It was celebrated in the spring, at the beginning of Israel’s harvest, and typified new life after a long dead winter.  The Feast of Firstfruits always fell on the Sunday after Passover, which is the very day Christ was resurrected.  Therefore, Paul called Jesus the "firstfruits of them that slept", not only because he was the first person to be resurrected, but he was resurrected ON the feast of first fruits. 


The Feast of Weeks

This brings us to our fourth feast, the Feast of Weeks, which is also called Pentecost.  As we have already mentioned, the first three feasts were celebrated in the spring and had reference to Christ's first coming, and the last three feasts were celebrated in the fall and have reference to Christ's second coming.  This middle feast, the Feast of Weeks however, did not occur in the spring or the fall.  It took place 50 days after the Feast of Firstfruits, placing it closer to Summer.[17]  

On the Feast of Weeks (Pentecost), Israel was to make an offering to the Lord which included loaves of leaven bread.[18]  This may not sound strange to you and I, but to Israel, this was very out of the ordinary.  Remember, leaven was a symbol for sin.  On every other feast day, Israel was told to eat only unleavened bread.  Why on this day were they required to offer bread that had been leavened?  To understand what the Lord is trying to teach us here, we need to first examine how this feast was fulfilled.  

57 days after Christ was crucified on Passover, Jesus' disciples gathered to Jerusalem for this Feast of Weeks (Pentecost).  We read in the New Testament,

Day of Pentecost LDS
The Day of Pentecost
And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, [Jesus' disciples] were all with one accord in one place. And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting. And there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them.  And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.  (Acts 2:1-4)

When this spectacular event occurred, Jews from several different nations, who had also gathered at Jerusalem for this feast day, were able to understand the words of these apostles, even though all spoke different languages.[19]  

This event was symbolic of what was to follow, namely that people from all nations, not just the Jews, but Gentiles as well, would be able to hear the gospel and join Christ's Church.  In fact, shortly after this event, Peter had a vision in which he was told to take the gospel to the "unclean" Gentiles wherever they were found throughout the world.[20]

Leavened Bread LDS
Leavened Bread

With this background, it is easy to see why God sanctioned the use of leavened bread at this feast, for this was the event where the gospel of Jesus Christ began to spread to all nations kindreds and tongues.  From this point forward, the gospel would first go to the "unclean" Gentiles, because the Jews had rejected it.  This is why the Lord required an offering of leavened bread at this feast.

We now move to the three feasts that were celebrated in the fall, which have reference to Christ's Second Coming.

The Feast of Trumpets

Shofar Rams Horn LDS
The "Shofar," or Rams Horn
The forth feast, the Feast of Trumpets, was the first feast celebrated in the fall.  It is called the Feast of Trumpets because the major ritual of this feast was the blowing of actual trumpets.[21]  These trumpet blasts were a call for Israel to repent.[22]  Furthermore, because it was celebrated in the fall, it was always observed in connection with the last harvest of the year.[23]  The symbolism?  This feast was designed to teach Israel of their final last spiritual gathering before the end.  Beginning with the restoration of the gospel, the Lords "final harvest of souls"[24] officially began.  We read in the Doctrine and Covenants,

             For behold the field is white already to harvest; and lo, he that thrusteth in his sickle with his might, the same layeth up in store that he perisheth not, but bringeth salvation to his soul; (D&C 4:4)

The Feast of Trumpets LDS
22 September 1827 - The Feast of Trumpets
"It is important to note that on 22 September 1827, the very day Israel celebrated the Feast of Trumpets, [25] Moroni gave the golden plates to the Prophet Joseph Smith. Since this feast was ripe with meaning for the theme of the regathering of Israel, it is unlikely this timing was accidental. Indeed, young Joseph was asked to meet Moroni for four years in preparation for that significant day in 1827."[26]  

It should also be noted that these trumpet blasts also signified the coming forth of new revelation.  According to Read,

...on this day ritual trumpet blasts signify the issuance of revelation and a call for Israel to gather for God's word of redemption.[27]  

[Furthermore] throughout the centuries various Jewish writers, in explaining the purpose of the trumpets’ sound on the Feast of Trumpets, have taught that this day would eventually signal Israel’s return from worldwide scattering.[28]
 
Angel Moroni Trumpet
The Angel Moroni's Trumpet
No doubt, this is the very reason why on every LDS temple, there is a statue of Moroni blowing his trumpet, for it was he who gave the Golden Plates to Joseph Smith on this symbolic Feast of Trumpets.

This Feast of Trumpets was also designed to prepare Israel for the next feast, the Day of Atonement.[29]  According to Read,

The placement of the Feast of Trumpets as the first [of the three fall feasts] shows its importance in the preparation for the significant days ahead. Indeed, the very nature of the signals that the trumpet makes show the need for repentance as an essential part of this preparation... It is believed that the ultimate judgment is not “sealed” upon one until the Day of Atonement.[30]

The Day of Atonement

This Day of Atonement was the next feast celebrated in the year.  Read continues,

The space between the Feast of Trumpets and the Day of Atonement can signify the time one has left to repent. Thus the trumpet of the Feast of Trumpets sounds a final warning: time is crucial for returning to God and to righteousness.[31]
 
Judaic scholars teach that the Day of Atonement represents the time when the unrepentant are doomed, whereas at that time the repentant are forgiven and reconciled to God. Worshipers believe that on this day they spiritually enter the Holy of Holies, which is symbolic of entering into God’s presence.[32]

The High Priest at the Veil LDS
The High Priest enters the Holy of Holies
through the Veil on the Day of Atonement
It is likely that this Day of Atonement, represents the Second Coming of Jesus Christ, for it was only on this day, that the High Priest could enter into the Holy of Holies, (which was "symbolic of entering into God’s presence"[33]).  Once in the Holy of Holies, the High Priest could then stand before the Mercy Seat, which represented Gods throne.[34]  Naturally, the only way the High Priest could do this was to first cross the veil of the temple, which separated the world from Gods presence.  Similarly, the Lord said of his Second Coming,

Christ Veil LDS
At His Second Coming,
Christ will appear through the Veil

...the veil…which hideth the earth, shall be taken off, and all flesh shall see me together.  (D&C 101:23)

Because the first five feasts were fulfilled on the very day they were celebrated, is it possible that the Second Coming will occur on this Day of Atonement?  While we may not know for sure, it is certainly an intriguing possibility to say the least.


The Feast of Tabernacles

The seventh and final feast of Israel was called the Feast of Tabernacles.  After the children of Israel were freed from bondage in Egypt, they wandered in the wilderness for forty years.  During this time, they dwelt in tents.  The Feast of Tabernacles was designed to remind Israel of this journeying in the wilderness.  During this feast, for one week, the children of Israel would sleep outside of their homes in tents, to remind them of their forefathers journey.[35]  The significance?  "The feast of Tabernacles signifies a completed harvest, Christ's millennial reign."[36]
Feast of Tabernacles LDS
The Feast of Tabernacles is Celebrated

To understand how this feast represented the Millennium, we need to rewind.   Because of the Passover (which represented the Atonement), the children of Israel were freed from the bondage of Egypt (which represented the bondage of the world).[37]  After the children of Israel left Egypt, they came to Mount Sinai, where many were able to come into the Lords presence.[38] This event at Mount Sinai was a "type" for the Second Coming.  We learn this from the Lord, who said that at His Second Coming,  

...a trump shall sound both long and loud, even as upon Mount Sinai, and all the earth shall quake, and they shall come forth—yea, even the dead which died in me, to receive a crown of righteousness...  (D&C 29:13)

After the Second Coming comes the Millennium.  This Millennium was acted out when the Israelites left Mount Sinai and journeyed further into the wilderness, all while living in tents, for 40 years.  Finally, after these events, the Israelites were finally allowed to enter into the promised land of Palestine, which represents the Celestial Kingdom.[39]  With this information, it is easy to see how this seventh feast, the Feast of Tabernacles, was symbolic of Christ's Millennial reign.

In short, these are the seven prophetic feasts of Israel.  More than just symbolic, these seven feasts are prophetic, for each of them were or will be fulfilled with one of Christ's comings.  

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Notes:

[1] John 1:29
[2] Exo. 12:5
[3] Exo. 12:46
[4] i.e., circumcised
[5] Exo. 12:43-45
[6] Exo. 12:23
[7] 1 John 1:7
[8] McConkie, Gospel Symbolism, p. 50
[9] Exo. 12:30-31
[10] 1 Pet. 3:18-20; 1 Pet. 4:6; D&C 138:18
[11] Matt. 27:52
[12] Lev. 23:5-6
[13] Lev. 23:6
[14]Matt. 16:6
[15] John 2:13-16
[16] 1 Cor 15:20
[17] Lev 23:16
[18] Lev. 23:16-17
[19] Acts 2:5-11
[20] Acts ch. 10.  See also, Matt. 28:19
[21] Lev 23:24; Num. 29:1
[25] See Eduard Mahler, Handbuch der Jüdischen Chronologie (1916), 588. Verification was also obtained by checking Jewish calendars available at Jewish community libraries.
[27] "Joseph Smith's Receipt and the Israelite Feast of Trumpets," FARMS Journal of Book of Mormon Studies, vol. 2, no. 2 (Fall 1993), 110.
[28] "The Golden Plates and the Feast of Trumpets", Ensign, Jan. 2000.  See also Scherman and Zlotowitz, Rosh Hashanah, 58, 61–62, 112–13.
[30] "The Golden Plates and the Feast of Trumpets", Ensign, Jan. 2000  Furthermore, Bacchiocchi stated, "God has always had a heart to warn people before He executes His judgment. God warned the people before the Flood, and He warned Niniveh before it was ruined. The Feast of Trumpets reflects God’s desire to summon His people to repentance so that He can vindicate them on the day of His judgment [the Day of Atonement].  (Gods Festivals in Scripture and History Volume II: The Fall Festivals, Ch. 2.)
[31] See Scherman and Zlotowitz, Rosh Hashanah, 111.
[34] For more information about this Day of Atonement, see Brunson, "The Temple- Reversing the Fall."
[35]

LDS Scholar John Tvedtnes stated, "At this time, the Israelites were to construct rough temporary living quarters, called sukkôt (singular sukkah), or "booths," in order "that your generations may know that I made the children of Israel to dwell in booths, when I brought them out of the land of Egypt" (Leviticus 23:43)." Tvedtnes, King Benjamin and the Feasts ofTabernacles.

[38] Exo. 24:9-13