Read This Week’s Passage: Deuteronomy 16:1–17
Pointing to Jesus
Imagine if you had ninety-one days out of each year when you didn’t have to work or go to school, and would spend your time rejoicing in God, fellowshipping with others, and remembering your blessings. This describes how God intended the Israelites to celebrate the feasts. The Sabbath made up fifty-two of those days (Lev. 23), but it was a special type of feast day that was not connected to the sanctuary because it began at creation and will continue on in the new earth. The purpose of the sanctuary feasts was to follow the plan of salvation, specifically connected to how God rescued Israel in the past, and was also tied to the agricultural year. In addition, the feasts pointed forward to the Messiah, and their fulfillment in Him happens in three aspects.
First of all, because Jesus was the one true faithful Israelite, each of the sanctuary feasts was fulfilled in His life on earth. This is one of the reasons we are not required to keep them anymore. As a part of the whole sanctuary service, the Old Testament makes clear that the feasts were to point to the Messiah, who would fulfill them as the ultimate sacrifice and High Priest (Exod. 25:8–9; Pss. 40:8, 110:1–7; Dan. 9:24–27). Second, the feasts point forward to the second coming of Jesus in other specific aspects, when He will come to bring His people home to live with Him eternally. Third, as we are already saved by Jesus’ death on the cross, yet not totally saved because we are not yet in heaven, the feasts point to spiritual aspects of our experience here on earth, as we enter the heavenly sanctuary by faith. We look forward to what God will do in the future, and they help to keep our focus there. Every time we celebrate the Lord’s Supper, we are keeping a mini-Passover feast.
Although we are not required to keep the feasts as outlined in Deuteronomy, since they are part of the sanctuary laws, it would be good to study them, remember them, and perhaps even celebrate them on some level, so that we can more clearly understand Jesus’ sacrifice for us. At the very least, the feasts remind us to celebrate the miracles in our own lives, year after year, so that we do not forget what God has done for us.