Christians and the biblical feasts
The country of Israel and many Jewish families are celebrating Passover and the other coming spring feasts, but the question is, should Christians observe the biblical feasts? In recent years, the amount of churches across the world that celebrate the Passover has grown.
My answer has always been this: we don’t have to celebrate the feasts — we get to! God reveals so much of Himself in these biblical celebrations. Jesus said “If you believed Moses, you would believe Me; for He wrote of Me” (John 5:46). Many of Jesus’ teachings occurred during these biblical feasts. Why would we want to miss out on something that He said points to Him? Christians can freely celebrate these feasts out of a desire to know God’s character.
“If you believed Moses, you would believe Me; for He wrote of Me.” John 5:46
The Feasts of the Lord
Leviticus 23 briefly covers all of the feasts of the Lord. There are three annual feasts that the Lord commanded all of Israel to celebrate in Jerusalem — Passover, Shavuot (Pentecost) and Sukkot (Feast of Tabernacles). Regardless of the feast, and when or how it is to be celebrated, they are all called the same thing; a “holy convocation.”
The Hebrew word for convocation is “mik-rah.” Strong’s Concordance describes this word as “something called out, i.e., a public meeting (the act, the persons, or the place); also a rehearsal.” It refers to both the act of gathering of people, as well as the actual event itself. But this is not just any “public meeting.” When used in Scripture, this word “mik-rah” is almost always followed by the word “ko-desh,” which is translated, “holy.” This word “ko-desh” refers to something that is set apart for a special purpose. In a very literal sense, the Hebrew for “holy convocation” means to make a public call to come to a sacred rehearsal meeting. This is not like just any another “church get-together.” This indicates a sacred gathering because God Himself has called Israel to come together, and He will be in their midst.
In Leviticus 23, there are two different Hebrew words that translate “feast.” The first word is “Mo-ahd,” and is often translated “appointed time.” Mo-ahd means to set an appointment, as in a set time or season, for a specific assembly or festival. The plural form of “mo-ahd” is “moedim.” This particular word for feast refers to the weekly Sabbaths and all the Levitical Holy Days.
Mo-ahd also has a root meaning, “to repeat,” and can mean “a signal as appointed beforehand.” There are things that are to be repeated each time the preset appointed time has come. When a child has a birthday, the signals or signs that their birthday has come is to have a cake and gifts, and this is usually repeated every year. So it is with the Lord’s appointed times. The feasts are “signals and signs” to help us know what is on the heart of the Lord.
The pilgrimage feasts
The second word for feast, “Chag,” is much more specific. Chag is mostly used to describe the Feast of Unleavened Bread, Feast of Weeks (Pentecost), and Feast of Tabernacles, as pilgrimage feasts. Other festivals or appointed times could be celebrated in your home or wherever you lived. These three feasts required that you make your way to where the Tabernacle or Temple was, which was first in Shiloh, then in Jerusalem. Chag means “feast or festival,” and has its root in the word “chah-gog,” that, in the Hebrew mindset, means “to circle, as in to circle dance or feast.” By definition, these three feasts are to be celebrated before the Lord in a joyous, party atmosphere with singing, dancing, and processions.
What is God’s intention with the Feasts of the Lord? When we look at these three words for feast and convocation, a remarkably familiar theme can be seen.
Convocation (mik-rah): public call to a holy and consecrated rehearsal meeting.
Feast (Mo-ahd): an appointed time that involves signals appointed beforehand.
Feast (Chag): specific joyful, celebratory festivals that pilgrims come to.
What do the biblical feasts point to?
By definition, the feasts of the Lord are the public calling of God for anyone to come to these holy “rehearsals” that God Himself has ordained. At these “rehearsals” there are specific “signs” and “signals” that were appointed before the foundation of the world and represent His desire for all of mankind. These signals point to specific joyful celebrations in the presence of the Lord that all are invited to, yet can only be enjoyed by those pilgrims who come. These feasts point to something more.
“…in respect to a festival or a new moon or a Sabbath day — things which are a mere shadow of what is to come; but the substance belongs to Christ.” Colossians 2:16-17